Forever 46

I met Gavin's dad while I was working at a college in the largest city from where I grew up, he worked as a student assistant and for some reason we hit it off.  I hadn't really dated much after my break up with Teresa's dad because it was hard being a young woman, working and raising a child on your own-but I was lonely and it was nice having a guy pay attention to me.  I was 20 when we met & he was 21.  He was vibrant, fun, outgoing and had a lot of friends and a wonderful family.  He was very different then me, who was very shy and introverted.  He brought fun into my life, and I got caught up in that rather quickly, and not to mention just wanted to be a part of his amazing family who I fell in love with probably more then I did with him-looking back.  I got pregnant with Gavin before we were married, I am sure from the outside looking in I was not really what a mom or sister would want for their son/brother to marry.  A single pregnant mom.  But they welcomed me into their lives and we were married and had Gavin by the time I was 23, him 24.

Our marriage struggled from the start.  He was an addict and an alcoholic, who would become a little violent when using and horribly mean.  When we dated, I thought it was just something he did because he was young and didn't have a family of his own to worry about and take care of, but he continued down that path and it became a real problem for me and for the kids, especially my firstborn.  We started to fight, and the love went out of our marriage really quickly after that.  I was left alone, all night after working all day and often on the weekends. He didn't enjoy going to my families house-so I would do family things without him including vacations unless it was to visit his grandparents in Alabama for Thanksgiving/Christmas.  That was one of the best parts of our year, traveling to Alabama to visit his grandparents on both sides of the family, the Dawson's and the York's.  They were also very welcoming, loving, and generous.

After we were married and Gavin was born, his grandma and grandpa Dawson's purchased five acres in Newberry for us to start our life together, in our own home.  We bought a manufactured home and set up shop.  I thought for sure, living further away from Gainesville and the pull of that life-style he would stop doing some of the things he was doing, but it just progressively got worse.

I got distant from him being alone all the time and I emotionally got caught up in a new person as our relationship broke down.  This of course caused us more issues, and looking back I wish I would have just left right away and not allowed things to spiral out of control.  I never was able to tell him I was sorry for the pain I caused him, and I won't get that chance ever again.  I did end up leaving one evening after an abusive fight where I was being choked and my young daughter yelling "don't kill my mom".  I knew I couldn't say there any longer.  I had to leave, and so I did to save all of our lives.

As the years went on, I was off living my new life & he was still in our old home in Newberry.  Gavin would visit him every other weekend for a while, but there were several turns of events that changed Ralph's life forever.  His father passed away, Christmas Eve 2003-he was just 48 years old.  A few years later, Ralph was in a car accident that caused him to sustain a traumatic back injury that left him in constant pain.  Eventually he lost everything, his job as an RN at a local hospital, his new wife and the daughter they had between them-as that relationship couldn't survive under his addictions either.  He just progressively got worse and worst, where he was getting in trouble with the law, moving other users into his home which is now unlivable and eventually losing his life to his disease/addiction on Friday, October 4, 2019 just shy of his 47th birthday.

When Gavin called me to tell me about the passing of his father, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was honestly devastated, I just couldn't stop thinking about his beautiful mom and sister and the agony they were going through knowing they not only lost their son/brother but how they lost him.  My heart was broken for my son.  I had not seen Ralph since the photos posted below, but every time someone in my family would run into him they would call me and tell me they saw him, and either tell me "he looked so much better..." or "oh Lela he looks so rough......is there anything you think we can do?".  But there isn't anything anyone could have done.

His mom took care of Ralph's basic needs the best she could, without getting too involved in his addiction.  It was very hard on her to help her son out, especially when people would say she was just enabling him.  But what do you do, when your only son-your firstborn needs you?  You do the best you can for them & so she did.  I told you she was a wonderful person.  I am just better knowing her and having her in my life.  My son is a lucky young man to have such a strong, persevering woman in his corner.

Goodbye Ralph, though our story was short I will remember you always the way you were when you were 21-even though you are forever 46.

(this post is ongoing-I will post photos of Gavin and his father when he was young soon).





WW Zero Point Hummus Recipe


So check out this 0 point hummus recipe:

What you'll need:
  • 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic (minced)
  • Salt & Pepper (optional)
What you'll do:
  • Blend chickpeas and yogurt together in food processor, add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse to mix.
  • Enjoy!
What you eat with it:
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Low points crackers

WW Snacking Ideas, Part 1

So snacking on WW is really an issue for me, because I love snacks.  I am more of a salty crunchy snacker too, which can be an issue on WW.

So some of my go to snacks right now are:

0 points
Canned Pears or Peaches in Water
Unsweetened Applesauce
Boiled Eggs
Pickles
Sugar-Free Jello
Sugar-Free Pudding
Pineapple
Apples
Carrot Sticks
Grapes
Air Popped Popcorn (with Kernel Season's also 0 pts)

1 point
Sargento String Cheese
Laughing Cow Cheese
Pretzel Sticks (20)
Almonds (7)

2 points
Goldfish Crackers (32 fish)
Dannon Light & Fit Yogurts (2 pts)

3 points
Snyders Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks (40 sticks)
Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings (1 package)
Smartfood Popcorn, White Cheddar Cheese (1 package)
Quacker Chewy Dark Chocolate Chunk Granola Bar

4 points
Crisp & Thins by Ritz-Cream Cheese & Onion Flavor (21 pieces)
Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn, Sea Salt Flavor (4 cups)
Quaker Popped Caramel Corn Flavor Rice Snacks (13 mini cakes)
Blueberry Cherrios (3/4 cup)
Veggie Straws (38 pieces)
Reduced Fat Wheat Thins (16 pieces)
Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bar

5 points
Kind Fruit & Nut Bars, Mini (1 mini bar)

This entire journey is a work in progress, I am failing more often then I am winning at this game of weight loss.  But so far, the only thing that has truly worked for me if I have stuck to it like I should has been the WW program because you can literally eat what you want-you just have to be mindful of portions and distribution of calories.

No Photos Today

Leave it to the Florida weather to have my cancel my very first photo session in almost a year.  Thanks rain, thanks tropical whatever you are that is crossing through the SUNSHINE STATE!!!

Today was the day I had planned to take my sweet kids, who are growing up way to fast, out for a family photo session (kids only).  Ah weather.  Enjoy a photo of Olivia during the Summer - on a non-rainy day.




I hope I have better luck tomorrow.

No right to Mourn

I have an entire post about this coming soon, just taking me some time to get my thoughts down.  I feel like a lot of times when I post it's ramblings-something that most people I guess just post on Facebook to get it out of their system.  I like to post here, so it's intentional if you read it-not just something that pops into your feed.

I have no right to mourn this loss, but I feel as though I am in a small way.  I was not married to Gavin's father anymore-we had long divorced.  I didn't have a relationship with him either due to the way his life had taken a turn.  Hell his children didn't even have a relationship with him.  He made it hard on the ones he loved and who loved him towards the end of his life.

But having said that, I still feel a great sadness with knowing he is gone, that he has passed away.  Even in just writing that, I am crying-but trying to stop myself from those feelings due to the fact that I shouldn't be taking stock in that grief, it's not for me to have right?

I just feel sad every day when I think about it, and start crying just out of the blue.  I imagine I am just going to have to sit down, cry this out & get on with it.

Well that's all I want to say for now about it, I'll post the longer version soon!



About Me


Getting a little more personal......I was born & raised in Florida, the beautiful, hot, humid sunshine state! I was born to Bruce & Kristen way back in the old days when people were not offended by any and everything! They went on to have three more children together {Molly, Bruce Jr. & Matthew) before they divorced. Both of them remarried (and are still married to these lovely people to this day). My dad had himself TWO more kids with my step-mom Debbie (Jessica & Charles). My mom & Jonny never had any more children together, I think that when he met my single mom & her four kids, he was totally satisfied with the sheer amount of raising he'd have to do.

 I had a pretty typical American upbringing.  Born in Gainesville, raised in Newberry until my parents divorced.  My mom remarried when I was in the 7th grade and they moved us out to Chiefland.  Newberry wasn't a very large town, but moving to Chiefland was a whole different world to me.  I finished growing up and graduated from CHS (yee-haw).

One of my fondest memories from my childhood was when my stepdad Jonny used to take us camping at Watermelon Pond, Rocky Creek & other strange places I wasn't used to at the time.  We'd ride airboats, 3 & 4 wheelers, swim in the gulf, the pond & tubed.  My sister Molly and I shared a room when we were growing up, and it wasn't always fun, but for the most part, it was also one of the best times of my life.  We didn't have AC in our house until 1990 and so we would often jump into each other's beds, point the isolating fan directly on us and try to sweat ourselves to sleep.  We'd laugh, joke, fight, makeup & just enjoy each other's company.  To this day, we still remain very close though we do not get to spend as much time together as I would like.  She is a wonderful mother of three beautiful children.  Bruce is married now, to Colleen & they have amazing and active children.  Matthew is single but raising two firecrackers of his own.  Jessica also married with two kids.  Charles is our only holdout, single with no children (that we know of).

I myself have five children total Teresa, Gavin, Weston, Xander & Olivia (typed out in the order of when they were born to this world via my own body or of my heart).  Teresa was born in 1990 (the reason we finally got AC) when I was 16 years old.  Yes, I am one of "those people".  She was born three months early at only 2.2 pounds via c-section.  A fighter then and a fighter now.  She's smart, inquisitive, generous, empathetic, caring, loving, adorable & sweet.  She lives in Portland Oregon where she is a stay-at-home mommy to my first grandchild, Oscar who is turning out to be just like his sweet mama.  Gavin was born in 1996 via c-section as well but was full term.  He's also smart, funny, loyal, and hard-working.  He was wiry from the day he was born, walking at only 7 months old, he is now in the Army & stationed in North Carolina.  Weston was also born via c-section full term in 2002.  He was a fat, happy & friendly baby.  Thoughtful & kind, he is now in high school; plays baseball & video games.  Xander was born of my heart but his birth was in 2003 when I met Xander he was three; happy, active & shy.  He has grown into a handsome, strong, smart young man who is attending high school and plays baseball!  Olivia, also born from my heart in 2013.  She is wild, loving, tender & sweet.  She is something lovely that came from something ugly.  More about that HERE!  I love all five of these young people with all my being and feel very lucky to have them as my own.

I have been taking pictures for as long as I can remember, so putting it on the back burner was not an easy decision for me to make.

When I was a kid I used to take sheets and hang them up on my brother's bunk beds and force them to "model" in front of them for me.  They were not willing, but since they were much younger then I was-I got my way.  My sister Molly on the other hand, well since we were closer in age & size-she didn't participate as much-hehe.  As you can see from this photo, I had mad skills back then (this is my brother Matting during one of his many modeling sessions).  Everything that I know about film or digital photography was completely self-taught.  I had to admit, I just never had the extra money to take any classes-so it has taken me years to perfect my "craft".   I am hoping to fall back in love with photography soon.

Happy 17th Kid

Well today is the 17th birthday of my baby, my youngest natural born child-my darling and sweet Weston.  He is such a good kid, funny-smart, kind-thoughtful, generous, loving.....I could go on and on.

He is with is dad this week, so we don't get to celebrate his actual birthday together-and I hope his dad gets him a cake-because 9 years ago to the day Weston asked me "Momma, are you going to get me a cake for my birthday this year, because without a cake it's just any other day!".  And I certainly do not want him to have a "just another day" kind of day on his birthday!

And some random photos of him growing up.....<3 but not baby photos......

















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