In her latest entry, Success Couple blogger Jackie Filley talks about summertime, cheesesteaks and her growing teens!
Another school year has come and gone for the boys and I really do not know where it went. Of course, I say that every year but this year I FEEL it. I look at our boys and I think, “Where has the time gone? When did they grow so tall? When did their voices change? When did they start worrying about smelling good?” This past school year our boys have grown not just physically but emotionally.
The two that have showed the most change are Blake and Jason. They will both be 15 this year — Blake in September and Jason in December. They are old enough to get a driver’s permit … OMG … I try and not think of that too often. They will be leaving the familiar hallways of their middle school where “everybody knows their name” (‘Cheers’ theme song in the background plays) and embarking on a new journey to HIGH SCHOOL! And yes, I have already joined several PTA positions to keep a close eye on them. This past year Jason and Blake have matured in ways that I could only hope and pray. They are becoming amazing, respectable young men.
Blake and Jason just returned from an awesome 8th grade trip. We took them to airport at 4:30 a.m. and they left the safety net of El Paso and traveled to Washington D.C., then to Philadelphia, and finally to New York. Steve and I even became a little jealous of their trip but knew that it would be a wonderful educational experience for them to have — een if they won’t truly appreciate it until they were older.
I helped them pack their bags…ok…I helped Blake and packed Jason. Like the overprotective mom I am, I packed them so many toiletries that they could have shared with the other 45 students. Steve and I reminded them to take lots of pictures and to send them to us via phone or Facebook.
The first couple nights away were rough for not only the boys but me too! Being homesick was definitely in the air. We did get a couple of pictures the second day. Jason sent one of the gun at Ford’s Theater and Blake sent one of the Washington Monument. Steve and I were so excited and thought we are going to live vicariously through their pictures. That didn’t last long. As soon as the pictures started they stopped. We didn’t receive any other pictures until they arrived in Philly! All of a sudden our phones were going crazy with picture mail messages. We literally had 4 pictures of CHEESESTEAKS! Seriously! CHEESESTEAKS! Was I really surprised? No, not in the least. These are my boys and it made Steve very happy!
New York was the last city on their trip and they had a blast there. Blake shopped like crazy for all of the family (I got a purse…and LOVE IT!) and Jason supposedly was giving out “free hugs” in Times Square. A week after they left, we picked them up from the airport at 11:15 p.m. They looked tired and in their own way were glad to be home. I missed them like crazy and was so happy to see their teenage “duh” looking faces come down the escalator! The whole way home they chatted about their trip and were showing me all of these pictures that they DID take!
It was such a great experience for the two of them to have not only as 8th graders but as brothers. When they are adults, they will remember the trip and all the fun they experienced together. Not only did they grow as brothers and friends, but I know that if all else fails I can make them room together in college.
P.S.: Check out Steve’s website Organize My Dad — he’s still working hard there!
I went and got my hair done yesterday. I can always tell when it’s time to get my hair cut and not necessarily because I have it written down on my calendar — but because my hair will all of a sudden need its own zip code. It will be so thick and big that I will describe my hair in strange phrases like, “It’s as big as Dallas” or “I was attacked by the hair dryer and it won.”
Anyways, I digress…I was sitting in the chair of my fabulous hair stylist Leslie. Leslie has been doing my hair for about 2 years now. She is one of those amazing stylists that will talk you out of dying your hair jet black because you want to look like Joan Jett or want to shave it all off because you think it will just be so much easier. You know what I mean, right?
As I’m sitting there bonding with my friend, she asked me the mother of all questions. And no it wasn’t, “Is that a gray hair I see?” She asked me, “Weren’t you scared of marrying Steve, moving all the way out here and going from one son to five?” I’ve never really been asked that question. Now, I have been told that I must be crazy but that’s been by only one person. I’ve been asked many questions and heard many comments about how Steve and I met, our courtship, our marriage, how I like El Paso, how it is with five boys but I’ve never been asked point blank “Were you scared?”
To be honest, I never really thought about it. When Steve and I were dating it just felt right. Yes, there was the initial nervousness but throughout our courtship I discovered many things that made me feel confident about our relationship (of course Eharmony already knew all of these things and that’s why we were matched).
I found out that Steve was an amazing dad, that he was a great guy and a wonderful friend. I found out how much he loves his family and his church. He has a hilarious sense of humor and is extremely witty. I discovered how comfortable I was around him. I decided that he would be good for Blake and I, but most importantly I realized that I had fallen in love with him. After reminiscing, I told Leslie, “No, I wasn’t scared”. I just knew that it was going to work and I followed my heart. It’s worked and is still working. April 12th will be our 5th anniversary of the day we were matched on eHarmony and July 8th will be our 4 year wedding anniversary.
Hello, my name is Jackie and I am perhaps the worst blogger ever (Hi Jackie)! It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything. I don’t know what my problem is … geez, it’s not like I have anything else to do. I’m going to try and get this blog up to date and have decided that one of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to keep up with y’all more often.
Since my last post was in the early fall, I’m going to try to remember what’s happened since then. Think, think, think. Oh, well, it’s so much easier for me to just go down the list of each child to jog my memory.
Sean (17) is first. Let’s see … I think Sean would think the most exciting event that has occurred to him since the fall would be him getting his truck. Since there are five boys, we definitely needed Sean’s help around here. Not so much for him to be chauffeuring his brothers around but more to get himself to where he needs to be. It has been wonderful! He hasn’t made it to the point of running to the grocery store or any major errands, but little by little hopefully. His grades have been outstanding this year! Basketball is still his passion and now that he is about 6’3 he is dunking like crazy! Steve and I can not believe that he will be out of our home soon. Before you know it, he’ll be off to college and we’ll be worrying even more than we do now. I’m sure I will be obsessed with sending him all sorts of care packages to make sure he is surviving! Until then, we are enjoying his silly dancing, funny sense of humor and the clomping of his slippers as he moves towards the refrigerator pretty much every hour.
Blake’s (14) next. Blake has been taking guitar lessons and is really excelling at it. He has a really great teacher, Obeth, who is turning him onto all types of music. Blake loves The Beatles right now and is learning to play Paperback Writer. He was so excited when they got Beatles Rock Band for Christmas! I think he’s mastered almost every song of the game. Another one of Blake’s hobbies lately has been branching out on his cooking skills. He has moved on from making smoothies every night to real cooking. He loves to get my cookbooks and find a recipe that sounds good to him and try to make it. The other night he decided that he wanted to make a homemade cake out of one of my new cookbooks…and he wanted to do it all by himself. Me being a little bit of a helicopter mom, I hung out in the kitchen making excuses to wash the dishes. He actually did really well, only made one small little mistake that was simply fixed. The cake turned out great!!! I think I’ve had it for breakfast at least three days in a row. Steve and I have nicknamed him “the whistler” because you can always tell where he is in the house because of his continuous whistling. School is going well … straight A’s or A’s and B’s. I can’t believe that next year he will be a freshman in high school!!! Where has my lil monkey gone??
Jason (14) is the middle one. Two brothers above him and two below him. Jason has grown overnight and is going to be built just like Steve. Out of all of our boys, Jason has really come into his own. He did wonderful in football this year. The picture above was taken right before this amazing interception. Ok…so I didn’t get the picture of the catch itself. I was so excited when I saw the ball coming at him and realized he was going to intercept it that I started jumping up and down and dropped the camera. Soccer came and went and once again he showed his maturity by even being the captain during the last game of the season. He’s onto basketball next and can’t wait to play. He will be a freshman in high school next year too! Where has the time gone?
Austin (12) is picking up the rear of the group. He’s in band this year (taking over the trumpet from Blake). One good thing is Austin is loud and has a lot of hot air so the trumpet has been easy for him. Before school ended for the winter break, he learned that he made the percussion team at school. Yipppeee for us…now he gets DRUMS! This year, Austin has joined the exclusive “Filley Brothers Phone Posse” and he can’t be more excited. He now has a phone and isn’t afraid to use it. Having Jason and Blake with him at middle school has been good for him. They’ve shown him the ropes so next year he’ll do just fine by himself. Austin is still as sweet and thoughtful as ever. He’s as tall as me now, and reminds me of that all the time.
And of course then there’s John (7). Wow! He is seven. I can’t believe that. It just seemed like the other day that he was four and so little and cuddly. Well, he’s still cuddly but not so little anymore. John is the baby and will always be our baby I don’t care how big he gets. He still tries to sleep with us, he still enjoys playing with us, watching TV with us and I will take that as long as he wants to do it. John is in 1st grade now and is one social little guy. He loves basketball practice and we can’t wait to see him play. One thing about being the baby of five brothers is that you learn faster and are stronger then all of them were at that age. I think you have to be in order to survive…lol. As you can see from the picture above John loves anything to do with the military, wars, and combat (hey, he’s the youngest of five) … and still Clone Wars of course. After writing this blog entry, I have come to the conclusion that when John is Sean’s age I’m going to officially have a break down. He can’t ever leave!
I know it’s a little mushy, but each year gets better for us. Not to sound too much like a commercial, but eHarmony definitely works! When we visited headquarters last summer we were even invited us to speak at their company meeting this year. How exciting!!! Escuela Montessori is doing great and Steve is still working hard at http://www.organizemydad.com/ I’m growing my own business with Mary Kay! We enjoy all of our crazy, hectic, fun, silly moments with our boys and look forward to many, many more to come.
Happy New Year to all of you!
Jackie, Steve and the guys…
We have hit the ground running into summer and there has been no time to stop and take a breath. Escuela Montessori is already into the 3rd week of Summer Camp, the older 4 boys have finally finished school (it was late this year) and we are proud to say they had a great year!
I think this summer is going to go by way too fast! Steve’s already saying that summer’s over. Yesterday, we drove from El Paso to Canyon Lake (outside of San Antonio) to see my parents. It’s been a while since we’ve seen them so I’m excited. On the way, we stopped in Kerrville to see ‘Transformers 2’! It rocked! Steve and the boys loved it. Lots of explosions, military hardware and, of course, Megan Fox (for the older guys, not Steve lol). My mom and dad drove up from the lake and surprised us at the theater. They were saving a place in line for us when we walked up! How cool was that! Today we’re going to hit Schlitterbahn, the Number One water park in the world. We’ll also visit family and friends and, hopefully, get some rest before our big trip to California in July.
An unexpected event has reared its head for July…we’re moving. Our current lease is up at the end of next month. We’ve lived here three years and enjoy the house, but it’s time to move on. I’ve been looking at houses to buy, which can be complicated. Trying to find a home that fits all the unique needs that we have…enough room for 5 boys…big enough kitchen (since I spend a lot of time there)…a recreation room to house all the gaming systems since we don’t allow TV’s in the boys rooms…a big yard for the 2 dogs…and let’s not forget the 2 cats, 1 parrot and 5 finches! And that doesn’t even include making sure it’s a house we can afford…lol. Needless to say, time got away from us and our time is almost up and we still didn’t have a place to live. The other night I was anxiously searching properties online and literally, out of the blue, one that I hadn’t seen before appeared. It was just down the street from us and in a neighborhood a lot of the boys friends live in. It is truly a gift from GOD that fell into our laps. We love the owners and it will fit us perfectly for the time being. Bring on the boxes! Steve, get the Ben Gay ready. We’re moving!
As if moving is not enough, Steve’s been working overtime on http://www.organizemydad.com/. With Father’s Day, June has been a big month for him. They unveiled a new commercial that’s running on 12 big screen televisions at the local malls, they were featured in the El Paso Times on Father’s Day, and KVIA Channel 6 did a feature interview with him. I’m so proud! He’s been working on OMD for almost four years now and it’s great seeing all of his hard work starting to pay off.
Next month, we’ll be in California for a couple of weeks. We’re taking the boys to Disneyland for the first time, plus relaxing by the beach on the Central Coast. We’re also hoping to visit eHarmony headquarters in Pasadena. Y’all won’t mind if we drop in on you, will you?
Whew! Spring break is over and we are struggling to keep our mind focused on getting through the next couple of weeks of school. Our Countdown to Cayucos, CA timer is set and we are under 85 days now.
Our last month has been busy with all sorts of events. The majority of them were new religious experiences. This year we were invited to a Passover Seder at my friend’s house. At first I wasn’t quite sure just because I had no clue what a Seder even was. We make it a point to try and go to church every Sunday, the boys go to youth group, and I do a bible study, but this was something new that I had not even heard about. Since the family was going to be apart for Easter (Steve’s boys were with their mom), Steve and I figured it would be a great new experience for not only us, but the boys as well.
Upon arrival, the boys and Steve were instructed to put on yarmulkes. At first the boys were not real excited about messing up their hair or in their words, “looking stupid,” but when we all sat down for the presentation it was a must so they had to buck up and join in. To our surprise we had assigned seating. Sean (16) was at a table with young adults his age, Jason and Blake (both 13) were at another table and Steve, Austin (11), John (6) and I were at another table. The tables were beautifully decorated with all of the traditional items for a Seder — the different elements, glasses, dinner wear, etc.
We sat down and begun to look through the booklet on our plates that was basically a program for the night’s events. As we sat there listening to our leader read from the first couple of pages, I noticed John was flipping through the pages. He takes a break and then leans over to me with booklet in hand. “I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries,” he whispers very seriously. It took all I had to not burst out laughing. I explained to him that it wasn’t a menu, I then tried to compose myself and listen attentively. We all had a great time.
A couple weeks later, Jason and Blake were invited to a Bat Mitzvah. They’ve gone to the after-parties before but only Blake had participated in the morning ceremony at the Temple. Steve and I decided that it would be a good idea for both of the boys to go and show respect to their friend. Steve took them to Temple in the morning. Since they had to wear the yarmulkes at the Seder this was not a surprise for them. They happily put them on and listened as their friend read from the Torah.
Steve and I both are busy at the school getting ready for our art festival, the end of school festivities, and summer camp which starts right away. Steve still works away at http://www.organizemydad.com/, getting ready for a big media event coinciding with Father’s Day. There’s always something to be working on. Everyone is looking forward to some time off in July, and our annual pilgrimage to California. We hope to be able to stop by the eHarmony headquarters and see where all the magic happens!
Another spring break has come and gone and what a blast we had! Every time we take a family trip together I feel that each new experience beats the last one. We have Steve’s 4 boys every other year for spring break, and this was our year. Living in El Paso gives us a variety of places to go that aren’t too far from home. This year we decided that we’d hit the town of Tucson. Look out Arizona, here comes the Filley family!
When we go to Tucson, we have our favorite place that we stay at La Posada Lodge and Casitas. Steve discovered it during one of Sean’s basketball tournament trips. It’s nestled in the foothills of Northwest Tucson, has quail and lizards running around for the boys to see and, most importantly, a great pool! Whenever we go through Tucson, we stay there. It really helps the boys know what to expect. It’s a familiar place. No matter where we go, it’s important to us to have traditions that we’ve started together as a family. The boys remember these trips, whether small or big and look forward to them for weeks.
The boys (including Steve) were so excited about going and the main reason was not only the fact that school was out, but also because of In-n-Out burger. Yep, you heard me. When you get down to it, it’s all about the food!
We learned early on that traveling with our gang meant learning how to keep them all busy and entertained. This of course means ELECTRONICS and food…lol. It also means we all have to have patience with one another and work as a team. John (6) is going to dominate the DVD player with something the boys have seen a million times…probably Clone Wars. Not everyone is going to want to do the same thing or eat at the same place, there will probably be some fighting but majority rules and Steve and I have the final vote. I think the boys understand that we start off as a democracy but can swing to a dictatorship at any time. It works!
The drive wasn’t too bad. We took our time getting started and even stopped off in Las Cruces so Steve could give the boys a tour of Digital Solutions. They are the design company that has been building Steve’s website, organizemydad.com. All of the guys are computer savvy so this one was right up their alley. Plus, we both feel it’s important that they understand how businesses work.
Once we got to Tucson we took it easy and jumped in the pool. All the boys love to swim, especially Blake (13). He grew up either in the pool or at Canyon Lake near San Antonio so swimming is second nature to him.
The next day started early! We hit the Pima Air and Space Museum. Austin (11) is going to be our pilot and Jason (13) loves WWII so we figured this would be exciting for both of them. They were in heaven! We saw every type of plane imaginable, rode the flight simulator and even had freeze dried ice cream like the astronauts eat. The afternoon wouldn’t have been complete without our first stop at In-n-Out Burger.
Our second day started out with a fun trip to the Reid Park Zoo. We saw lions, tigers and bears…oh my! During our walk around the grounds, we met 2 of the funniest people. They were an older couple, and the sweetest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. They were so funny that Sean (16 and I think our aspiring comic) wanted to follow them around just for the entertainment value…lol.
We got back to the lodge, rested and swam. Of course, Steve and I discussed what to do for dinner and figured what boy wouldn’t want to go to an Old West Town for a big T-bone steak! I know what you thinking — and yes most of the things we do are guy things — and no it doesn’t bother me. I love these things too!
We decided to go to Pinnacle Peak. It’s a steakhouse built to resemble an old west frontier town. They have gun shows, shopping, a train that goes around the property, and even one of those old photography studios where you can dress up and take old time pictures! Oh yes we did! I’ve wanted to do one of all of us for several years now, and haven’t. Well, this time we did! Steve and I had talked about it ahead of time and decided to not tell the boys about it. It’s better to take them by surprise, they do outnumber us, after all. We walked over to the studio after the gun show, and walked in. The boys were a little thrown off, but surprisingly they all went along with it! Yeah!! We all enjoyed stepping back into that time and took our family picture. The photographer and his wife were great at dressing us and coaching us (especially not to smile). The picture turned out great!
Spring break 2009 was a blast, but I don’t want to leave the impression that our blended family is easy every day. It’s been a lot of hard work, too. Some lessons we have learned have been:
1. Whatever the past situation, go out of your way to create new family memories and traditions together.
2. Worship together. Steve and I owe everything to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Pass that on to your children every chance you get.
3. Take time to eat together as a family.
4. Present a united front to the kids. Agree ahead of time on your house rules then implement them fairly. Believe me, they keep score.
5. Create a new home for your new family. It has helped us tremendously that neither of us moved into the other’s house. I think it would have been extremely awkward for the kids.
Steve had been married for 13 years and had four boys when his first marriage ended. He was reluctant to even think about dating. His plate was definitely full! After a few years, he signed up with eHarmony after seeing a commercial on tv. He was quite overwhelmed by the process. He was matched with quite a few women, but nobody local (lucky for me) so he gave it up….too much pressure. The 2nd time he signed up was when we were matched.
I had tried another dating site, met someone and dated for awhile. When that ended, I wanted to try something different. I was starting to feel like I wasn’t doing a very good job at picking men for myself so maybe I needed some help…lol. I debated it for awhile and asked my best friend, Joy, what she thought. I just wasn’t sold on the whole idea. I bought Dr. Warren’s book, read it and decided why not…what did I have to lose? I signed up and was matched with several men. To be honest, I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”
It was about 3 days later Steve and I were matched. If I remember correctly, I was notified first about him. I thought he was cute and enjoyed his profile but wasn’t quite sure. I will say that I was very intrigued because he was the only one I had been matched with that lived in Texas! I decided if he was the one for me, I would play “hard to get.” Sounds funny, huh? But, it worked. He communicated with me first. We like to compare the communication to a game of ping pong. Once we started, it didn’t stop. It was a continuous back and forth. We both really enjoyed how easily the eHarmony “supervised” communication went. We are definitely well matched. Not only are we very similar, but our families have blended so well. Steve and I both have very similar values and personality traits. It has made it easy for both of us to understand each other’s children as well as each other.
Ironically, Steve already had plans to come to San Antonio the end of May for his oldest son’s state soccer championship before we were matched. Even stranger, the tournament was being held at a field that was only about 15 minutes from my house. Fate? I’d say so…
Our First Date: Croutons and Wintergreen Mints!
Steve came in on a Thursday and our first date/first meeting was dinner out the next night. Steve’s mom watched his boys while my mom watched mine. We met at Salt Grass (a steak house that was close to his hotel). I was so nervous about the date that I kept eating wintergreen mints. I ended up with such a stomachache!
We had discussed that this was the test. We got along really well over the phone and it seemed like it could work, but would we be physically attracted to one another…would there be a spark there? I ended up getting to the restaurant first. I had parked and was waiting for him. He called and said he was getting there. When he pulled up, he had to park in the back. I jumped in his car with him so we could walk up to the restaurant together. I was so nervous and wanted to get any anxieties out of the way. I was especially nervous about our first kiss. Because of all this…when I jumped in the car, I laid one right on him! He loves that part because I kissed him first. Our dinner was fast because neither one of us wanted to leave our parents too long with our boys. I remember thinking how beautiful his eyes were and how handsome and smart he was. Our favorite first date story (besides me jumping in and planting one on him) was when my crouton fell on the table from my plate and Steve snatched it up and ate it. I was in shock because I thought, “Did that just happen? No, it couldn’t have!” Steve has been eating off of my plate since that night.
Our boys love that story, they love to picture dad just snatching up the crouton and inhaling it before I knew what was going on. We spent the rest of the weekend getting to know each other and introducing our boys to each other. It was really important for us to take this step very slowly. All five of them had been through so much that we wanted to make sure this was going to work. My son and I went to soccer games. Steve, his mom and his boys came out to my mom and dad’s lake house to visit (my son and I lived with them at that time). Two of the boys even spent the night with my son at our house. It couldn’t have gone any better! After that weekend, we pretty much knew this could work and both of us wanted it to.
After that, we took turns visiting each other at least once a month. We knew where it was going but wanted our families to have time to adjust. We were engaged on March 15th, 2006 and married on July 8th, 2006. Both of our parents were married in July — my mom and dad are July 2nd and Steve’s mom and dad are July 9th. We married at St. Francis by the Lake Episcopal Church in Canyon Lake in front of 75 family and friends. The boys were all part of the wedding. It was the best day of our lives! And great music (Steve’s contribution)! After the wedding, we stayed in SA a couple of extra days. Then we took off for California for our family vacation/honeymoon — which was all of one night while Steve’s parents watched the guys! We still go back every year!
Meeting through eHarmony:
It certainly simplified the dating process. We were both extremely busy with work and our boys. We wouldn’t have had a chance meeting the more traditional ways, especially since we lived 600 miles apart! Plus, neither of us had the time or interest with the dating scene. When we were first married, we both read articles that said that most step families take at least 2-3 years to fully blend. We have been very lucky. Our family has blended so well! We both give eHarmony a lot of credit for this. We were matched so well, it also simplified the normal stress of fitting two families together. As if that wasn’t hard enough, we both work together for Steve’s family business, and he continues to develop his new website: http://www.organizemydad.com/, based upon the struggles he faced as a single dad, as well as his eHarmony experience. It’s been almost four years now since we were first matched, and almost three years we’ve been married. It can be crazy sometimes, but we can’t imagine our lives without each other. Thanks eHarmony!