It’s sometimes disappointing to look back over my blog and see how much it has changed over the years. When I started blogging, it was more of a journal. Barely anyone saw it and when I wrote it was mostly for myself. Now I feel like when I write, I’m talking to an audience and as such, my voice has changed and I sometimes even feel as though I’m writing FOR you guys more than really FOR myself anymore. It’s not a bad thing really but in some ways I miss my old voice — the voice that wasn’t talking TO anyone or writing FOR anyone. The voice that didn’t consider how things I said would be received by the general public. The voice that just shared for the sake of chronicling my thoughts. Of course, I also have to consider the fact that aside from my blog’s audience growing, I’ve also aged… ok I don’t like that word. Matured. Yeah, that is better ;) I started blogging nearly 12 years ago so it’s not like I expect for things to be the same at 30 as they were when I was 18… I just miss when things were simpler – when there was more time to reflect and write about our crew. Change is good. But, still… it’s change. And I think that in some ways, no matter how good things get people always miss how things “used” to be. Right?
Now that I’ve had my moment I guess I will move into actually UPDATING on our family!!!
I’ll start with me. Most of this has already been covered in various articles but I doubt anyone new to my site is going to go through 1500+ articles so I’ll try to briefly touch on what hasn’t been covered since the last update. First of all, I’ve lost 50 pounds and will soon be certified in Personal Training as well as Fitness Nutrition. I am the assistant trainer for the boot camp class I joined last year and I race at least once a month – I’m actually training for my first half marathon in August. I no longer experience symptoms of Fibromyalgia since improving my overall health and level of fitness. Well, honestly sometimes I can feel very mild symptoms coming on but my version of not “experiencing” symptoms is the fact that they don’t interfere with my life now and I rarely ever have headaches anymore… so I’ll take it as pretty much as close to Fibromyalgia-free as I’ll get :) My business has grown exponentially and continues to expand … I just purchased my fourth dedicated server for my hosting division and am proud of how things have gone over the last couple of years. The past few months have actually been a bit overwhelming and I got REALLY behind for a quick minute but I’m back on track and it feels amazing to be on top of things again. I performed 4 songs live for the Susan G Komen for the Cure’s 3-Day Event in Atlanta in October which was AMAZING. I got turned down for The Voice again in January which wasn’t so amazing but whatever. lol My little brother came to see me just before Christmas (first time I had seen him in 17 yEARS!) and that was like Heaven on Earth for us both – we’re looking forward to learning about one another and continuing to build our relationship. Life is good and seems to only get better with time. We are all loving Atlanta and looking forward to HOPEFULLY our first summer with all seven kids together :)
Barry is doing outstanding. He’s been offshore now for three years and has been with his current company for almost 2 years. He’s already gotten one promotion and is looking straight into the eyes of another one. He just had a glowing evaluation and I’m SO proud of where he is (and where he’s going) in his career. It does get hard during the 6 months that he’s gone every year but having him home for a full 6 months is bliss. As weird as it may be, our marriage is definitely stronger because of our time apart. It makes us look forward to seeing one another and appreciate each moment we have together. His 4-weeks of completely free time gives us SO much opportunity to do things together without having to worry about schedules or other obligations. These days, he is spending his time training Tre, riding his motorcycle and working on his life plan — he has such a strong vision for the future and is already preparing for business ownership in his retirement years :) Smart man! He’s perfect. Okay, maybe nobody is perfect but I can’t think of anything closer to perfection than him so we’ll go with perfect until it’s proven otherwise :) I do a weekly series now where I highlight one thing I love about him — check it out: What I’m Loving!
Briyana is UGHHHHHHH 13 (7th grade) and driving me absolutely insane. She’s a good kid — intelligent, witty, sensible — with a great head on her shoulders — she’s mature, street-smart and confident — but GOOD GOD, she’s ALL teenager and I would be lying if I even insinuated that I don’t want to knock her behind through the wall several times a day. I really am not impressed with some of the influences she has found herself keeping around as company and I’m contemplating homeschooling her next year if she doesn’t get that in check VERY soon. I don’t intend to wait around and watch ANY of my kids develop bad habits and if that means giving her some time to be separated from the middle school nonsense that her friends are getting into, that’s what it will be. We’ll see how it plays out. Briyana has a beautiful voice and an outgoing personality – she is strong and has the makings of a very independent, successful woman but the next few years of her life will determine how those traits will be used and what sort of skillset they will shape into. I know that parenting teens is hard — and the first time I assume has to be the absolute roughest because there’s no experience to fall back on but at the same time, I have to understand the BEING a teen is complicated and difficult and she hasn’t done it before so I hope that as she matures, she will realize that I am her greatest asset and her most loyal ally in these confusing and trying years. She’s gorgeous and even though everyone around her can see it, she doesn’t seem to. On one hand, she does. She LOVES taking photos of herself and posting them to her Instagram profile but she definitely compares herself to others even though most of them don’t hold a candle to her inner and outer beauty. Life is one big hilarious comedy to Bri these days, which can be just as much of a bad thing as it has potential to be a good thing so I’m trying to get her a bit more serious about things overall because her lighthearted and easygoing nature can be a HUGE asset but could also prove to be a flaw if she’s not careful.
Tre is 11 years old (5th grade) and has always been SUCH a typical boy. And he’s not one of the mannish little boys that I see around these days — he’s still a kid and I love that about him. He is much more interested in football and video games than he is in girls. He still thinks he’s a ninja and makes sound effects when he moves around the house. He loves to PLAY. I want him to stay that way as long as possible. There is so much time to grow up and I see too many children trying to grow up way too fast so that quality about him is extremely refreshing for me as a mother. He’s super low key and even though he’s lazy as a bum and I have to just about threaten his life to get him to finish his chores, he makes up for it in respect and ambition and being pleasant, thoughtful and righteous. I can’t say enough how very proud I am of the young man he has become — and the man he is becoming. I’m trying to work on encouraging him to be passionate and proactive about his dreams to build his ambition and help him establish some natural DRIVE. He likes to try new things but rarely COMMITS and I want to start to see more of him getting and STAYING involved in things rather than continuously (and habitually) gaining and losing interest… At the end of the day, however, he is caring, God-fearing and humble and it’s those things that I will work to preserve at all costs.
Talia is 10 (4th grade) and she is just enough of a mixture of Barry and myself to make the concoction almost toxic. This child is witty, intelligent, loving, responsible and has hustle all through her blood but Lord, help me because she has an attitude bigger than all of her other traits combined. She’s stubborn and hardheaded like her mother yet impatient and (incessantly) persistent like her father. She is like a power-version of my clone and she makes me see red on the regular! That being said, this girl has a personality that is larger than LIFE. She’s pushy and rude and borderline obnoxious … that sounds bad, right? LOL But I do love that she is SO confident and secure in who she is. She’s inquisitive and head strong and although her characteristics may get her in trouble from time to time (or, every.single.day) I know that as she gets older those same characteristics will be the reason she is so successful in life. She’s a go-getter like her daddy and ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! ;) The only thing with her is learning to channel that HUGE collaboration of personal facets positively because if she doesn’t learn that, they could easily be her downfall instead — so I’m working on training her to use her natural instincts to benefit her rather than hinder her. I see Talia exhibiting more and more of a desire to mimic Briyana in a lot of ways which sort of concerns me but also gives me hope that they will grow closer as time goes on. They have their days when they are feelin’ each other but most of the time they’re at each other’s throats!
Ava is 7 (2nd grade) and has always been a little drama queen diva child. Since she was just a toddler, we have always joked that she will be the super model of the family. She is long and slender but has very defined muscles, gorgeous features, beautiful hair and SUCH a prissy nature… haha Avalyn can drive you absolutely bonkers. She makes a mountain out of EVERY molehill and Heaven help EVERYONE if she sees any type of bug ANYWHERE near her body. She HAS to be matching from head to toe or she will literally CRY if I make her leave the house. Yes, I said LITERALLY. She is very smart – she makes perfect scores in school and reads everything she can get her hands on. She really loves school, but she’s super sensitive and will go into meltdown mode in 2 seconds flat if anyone talks badly about her or doesn’t like her. She despises getting into trouble (even if it is well-deserved) but loves to cuddle with her daddy. She eats up affection and loves to be the center of attention. Aside from Zoe, she is the one who is most willing to give and accept hugs at every opportunity. She’s also the one who gets hurt every 5 minutes. It’s almost a running joke in this household — Avalyn can get minor injuries in ways no one else in the WORLD can. At least twice a day, she bumps something or stubs something or scrapes something — it’s hilariously exhausting because the same things Avalyn swears she needs to go to the HOSPITAL for, Zoe won’t even bat an eyelash at when it happens to her LOL And it’s not just at home — at least three times a week, Avalyn ends up in the nurse’s office at school. In addition to being the drama queen, she’s also our little hypochondriac!
Zoe is 4 – will be 5 in June – (pre-K) and is THE most insistent and demanding child I have EVER seen in my entire life. Seriously. She almost always gets what she wants and it’s not just because she’s the baby. It’s because she will not give up. She will not stop. She will ask over. And over. And over. Until your sanity breaks and you cave. Zoe’s teacher routinely has to beg Zoe for 5 minutes of peace, which I file somewhere between gut-bustingly amusing and face-slappingly egregious considering that NEVER works for me ;) This child NEVER stops talking. She goes hard from the moment she wakes up until the moment she passes out – she doesn’t stop talking, doesn’t stop moving – dancing, twirling, spinning. laughing. She’s an exceptionally bright little girl — comes up with the most brilliant observations that often leave me at a loss for words. She asks questions that I find myself wondering how a child her age even concluded enough on her own to ask and she is so secure in her world that it makes me envious and sad all at the same time because her life as she knows it is unquestionably perfect … but one day she will come to the realization that the world isn’t so perfect and as such, neither will her life be. She’s so beautiful and happy and it makes me melt how sweet and loving she is. She wakes up in the morning and before she even opens her eyes, she says, “Good morning, mommy…” and reaches up to grab my face to kiss my cheek. But she has this almost unhealthy obsession with sleeping and drives me NUTS trying to wake her up. She’ll pull the covers up, smile with her eyes closed and say, “But I coooold!!!” Then the smile turns into a whine. Then the whine turns into a 15-minute stretching session which is her excuse for not getting out of bed. “But I ‘trechin’ mama…” she’ll say. LOL It’s adorably maddening when we’re already running late. Which we always are – running late. She’s by far the most affectionate of the whole bunch. I get a hug or a kiss or an, “I love youuuu,” every few minutes from this one. She doesn’t enter or exit a room without all of it and she is all smiles all the time. I know one day, she too will turn 13 but for now I’m enjoying how precious she is even if I am begging for Monday to get here some weekends. She can be quite the handful – VERY hard-headed – but my heart always lights up when I see her after we’ve been apart for a few hours.
Kaleb and Kylan are 12 (6th grade) and 13 (7th grade), respectively, and I’ve been asked by their mom to not blog so much about them (which doesn’t tickle my fancy, which she knows, but I have agreed to comply to a certain extent out of respect) so this will be short and non-extensive. The boys are doing fabulous :) They are getting SO big and are as handsome as ever. Kaleb and Tre were SO much alike when they were younger but the older the kids get, the more Kaleb and Talia have in common as far as characteristics. He’s SO very headstrong and stubborn (he gets that from his mama just like Talia gets it from hers LOL) and just like Talia, I do hope that as time goes on he’s able to dial it back a few notches and learn to channel it positively because he can definitely use those traits to catapult himself into success any number of fields. Kylan and Briyana are like the same kid but different genders. They even look alike. Kylan is sneaky – oh my gosh – and he loves to have fun at the expense of those around him. Classic Briyana stuff. It’s so funny how much the kids have in common that I don’t even think THEY realize yet — even though they haven’t been around each other enough to really have any deep influence on one another. It’s crazy how much of a part genetics plays in who you are. Both of the boys are very smart and quick-witted. Kaleb is a natural comedian and you can’t help but to just laugh when he’s around. Kylan has his moments as well but he’s a bit more serious and laid back. Of course, he’s the oldest so you’d expect it to be that way. He’s very responsible but of course, he’s just entered his teen years as well as that rebellious streak is rearing its head just like with Bri. It’s so hard to be away from them but we’re working on getting a solid schedule worked out to get them coming to Atlanta regularly :)
That’s pretty much a wrap for now!
All of our kids are amazing. They are their own *people* … all seven of them are who they are, you know? So much personality, so much potential… so much talent and heart and passion. All I want is for them all to love each other and become closer as they approach adulthood — that they go through life always having one another to lean on and always being there for each other. Man, I love them all so much and we just want what’s best for each of them… Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough so until next time, keep the faith!