“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” – Theodore Roosevelt

It’s the holiday season and whether you like your in-laws or not, you are most likely going to spending time with them. Suck it up buttercup. I know it isn’t easy. I’ve been trying to get along with my in-laws for years. How’s it working out? Short answer? It isn’t. But my son and his wife have a baby on the way and I’m doing my best to try and get along with my daughter in law’s rowdy and occasionally demanding family. It’s called “taking one for the team” around here. 

This evening while I was on site at Mercado with clients, my son called to tell me that he had been rear ended in Mesquite by a truck pulling a trailer. 

My son wasn’t hurt but his wife who is six months pregnant as well as her grandparents were transported by ambulance to Baylor, Scott and White. 

Since my son was driving, he immediately said “it wasn’t my fault mom. He plowed into us.” I asked “where was Stephanie sitting? Was she wearing a seatbelt? Are you okay?” My son sent photos of the Enclave rental he was driving. The Enclave had been towed with my son riding in the ambulance with Stephanie and her grandparents riding in another ambulance. They were now effectively stranded in Dallas. I was on site in Fort Worth. Cindy was in Weatherford. I’m a problem solver so I called Agency Limousine for Transportation. 

I had instructed my son to calm down and check on his pregnant wife. The staff at Baylor were concerned about a separated placenta. My driver was on stand by waiting for my daughter in law to be released. 

A separated placenta is a serious condition. This happened to my niece, Stephaney when pregnant with the twins and subsequently resulted in a six month hospital and observation stay sixteen years ago. 

While I waited to get an “all clear” via text while working a large event in Fort Worth, I was also worrying. Was the baby okay? Why was my son blaming himself? Accidents happen. I drive 3-5k miles a month to prison weddings and assume a large degree of liability each time I drive to an event. I recognize the possibility of an accident. 

Viewing the texts, I could see it wasn’t his fault. Stephanie’s grandparents were seated in the second row and thankfully unhurt. Because I couldn’t leave an event, and had called Kevin at Agency Limousine to move my now stranded son, daughter in law and her grandparents home, I wasn’t concerned with them getting home safely. 

As usual though Stephanies grandmother would put a kink in my “expertly executed quick solution” by refusing a limo ride home and chose to call her nephew to pick her up and drive her and her husband to their home in Southwest Fort Worth. Another head butting contest with Anne. Heavy sigh. 

Why drag someone out of bed when I’ve hired a driver? Stubbornness. Who can forget the colossal arguments that this grandmother and I have shared over the years? At my sons wedding, it was difficult to even speak to Stephanie’s grandmother. We tolerated each other. 

I wanted my sons wedding perfect and Anne wanted to dictate the budget. I did what I wanted to anyway. Anne resented my input. Anne and I got off on the wrong foot butting heads for months over what I wanted and was willing to pay for versus what she thought was best and wasn’t paying for. You get the picture. 

All of these years later, Anne and I still “tolerate each other at family events.” At the gender reveal party, Anne stayed on her side and I stayed on mine. 

Where’s an olive branch when you need one? We have a baby coming and the war rages on of Anne assuming that I “overdo everything” pertaining to my son. Anne raised my daughter in law and likes to be in control. The problem? I like to be in control too. ESPECIALLY when I’m paying for something. 

At my age, having someone tell me how to spend my money is sure to start a ruckus. Anne should have viewed my contributions to that wedding as a gift in my opinion. 

I will never forget the father of the bride at a California event complaining to me “pizza for the rehearsal dinner is embarrassing. This rehearsal dinner should be being held at a far classier location.”

My answer offered a solution to his problem but I knew it wouldn’t be one he would like.  “if you find the budget or meal embarrassing, I’m certain the grooms family would welcome you paying for a pricier location.” Needless to say, the “embarrassment of having the rehearsal dinner at a pizza parlor” wasn’t embarrassing enough to “pony up for a classier location.” Put up or shut up. He who writes the checks makes the rules.

One guest at yet another event told me “I had planned not to attend and to express my disbelief over the tacky cash bar as my reason for not to attending this wedding.” Really? I lit into him. “Do you have any idea of the expense an open bar entails to clients? I do. Three to five thousand dollars for 2-300 guests and the added expense of security. Since when are couples required to provide a free flowing buffet of booze in order to bribe their guests into attending their wedding? Get over yourself.” 

Who do these guests think they are? It consistently amazes me. THEY want an open bar. THEY want steak and lobster. THEY want this or that and all of the things THEY want THEY aren’t paying for. 

Whose event is this? The person who hired me and is paying for everything. Leave the big mouths who have no idea what an event costs at home. You will thank me later.

“When you express your value, you will never have to express your worth.” – Paul Martinelli. 

Have you ever noticed that the people who aren’t “footing the bill” try to run the show? I have. Over and over and over again. Usually while on location.  

The frequently used term “in-laws or out-laws” was actually created by my twin sister at my sons wedding. Cindy knew that Anne telling me how to spend my money wasn’t going to go over well and she was right. Anne likes to win. 

Tonight Anne declined my chauffeur to show me she still harbors her grudge. Thankfully, Stephanie is fine and unlike her grandmother, happily accepted the ride with Agency. 

My son advised Anne who had wanted them to ride with her nephew “my mom had a car and driver waiting five minutes after I called her. I’m not going to have your nephew run all over three cities. That’s why my mom handled it. I’m shook up, Stephanie’s tired and sore and we are taking the limo.” 

Frankly, I feel sorry for the nephew. Who wants to get out late at night the day before Christmas Eve no less to drive from Dallas to Fort Worth and back again with a car waiting at the hospital and a driver standing by? I’m guessing Anne left the part about my driver waiting when calling her nephew. She just can’t accept generosity or convenience. Humph. I’m assuming the nephew is going to ask how Robbie and Stephanie are getting home? I’d love to hear how Anne will explain “Robbies mother hired a driver and limo to pick them up” without adding that I also requested transportation to her home as well? 

Anne and I will most likely never see eye to eye. She makes simple things difficult intentionally. I don’t have time for complications. I prefer solutions. 

Did I go over the top at that wedding years ago? Maybe. But it was my money and my only child. Ten dollar centerpieces? I was shocked at Anne’s idea of what would work. For whom? A budget of $400 for the bouquets and centerpieces? $200 didn’t cover the bridal bouquet. Centerpieces for 30 tables, a maid of honor bouquet, four bridesmaids bouquets, two junior bridesmaids bouquets, the bridal bouquet, corsages for the mother’s and grandmother’s and bouteniers for the groom, best man, groomsmen and father’s as well as grandfathers for a total floral budget of $400? 

I had laughed at Anne’s “budget.” Why? I thought she was kidding. I had also assured her that I would take care of the floral design expenses myself and I did. 

I’m in the events industry and I KNOW what floral decor costs. Explaining this to Anne and advising her I would pay for it myself should have been a gift but Anne took it as a challenge. 

Out-laws ride the trail of holidays kicking up dust along the way. Happy holidays. We struggle through awkward meetings with people we rarely see all year long during the holidays and a few of you have already made a run to the liquor store to ease the pain. I love watching Christmas Vacation every year because I can relate to it. 

Watching Chevy Chase do everything possible to make his family happy reminds me of myself. It eases the stress to know I’m not alone. Perfection is over rated and under appreciated. Cindy and I shoot for perfection year after year at Christmas only to find that the days and months of preparation are and continue to be over rated. 

Someone somewhere is trying to pull off the perfect holiday for their family. Knowing I’m not alone running here, there and everywhere trying to get the perfect gift or plan the perfect meal with my schedule is stressful. Just getting everyone in the same place at the same time is an escapade. My son has his father’s family to visit on holidays. Stephanie has her grandmother, father and mothers houses to visit. 

I effectively “take a number” year after year to find out at the last possible moment when to tell my sister, my nieces and my grandnieces to arrive BASED on Robbie and Stephanie’s holiday schedule TIMELINE and AROUND my client bookings. I’m a juggler and the ring leader. Can I control the circus of chaos with my family? It’s hit and miss. 

My niece, Leigh Ann is in California with her daughter, Maddy and husband, Alex. My other niece, Stephaney is back in treatment in Oklahoma which will greatly diminish the probability of arguing over who got what this year. Cindy and I go to great length to keep all gifts for our children and grandchildren equal but, my niece Stephaney is the worst about gift comparing and complaining. 

For years just getting through the gift aspects of Christmas was similar to trying to walking on glass for Cindy and I. “Who wouldn’t like this? Who didn’t like that? Is it over yet?” We would love to see joyous faces opening their gifts rather than comparing gifts but our children are competitive in the “gift getting” Department. 

One year my niece, Stephaney started a literal brawl with the entire family over my husband and I getting Makenna a computer and not Maryssa. Maryssa didn’t want or even need a computer but Makenna did for her additional course work. Stephaney complaining about a thousand dollar computer for Makenna that SHE DIDN’T BUY “being unfair to Maryssa” gives you a far better idea of how Cindy and I can “plan the perfect gift exchange” only to later be called out for not doing enough for so and so and too much for so and so by a guest in my home (my niece) who showed up empty handed to head straight to my bar and after guzzling chocolate vodkas, begin complaining and start an argument. How on earth anyone believes that showing up to enjoy a family event that took planning and expense to pull off can think an argument regarding gifts is okay escapes me altogether. 

Cindy’s famous quote “Just like a BLISTER showing up when all of the WORK is done” was created after watching Stephaney complain about Leigh Ann and Stephanie’s gifts being better than hers. Attempting to make Maryssa feel she had been slighted was just too much. Stephaney knows how to push my buttons. The “perfect holiday” was ruined again by Stephaney 3 years ago. 

The past two years, Stephaney has been in treatment during the holidays which effectively limits the “Christmas Chaos Competition.” Will my niece ever be thankful and happy at my holiday get togethers? I remain hopeful as does Cindy and the rest of our family especially Stephaney’s twin daughters. Peace and joy are possible at family events I continue to remind myself.

Stephaney has no idea of the cost to buy gifts for our family or the backbreaking chore of wrapping and much less the preparation of the meal. Parents and grandparents know the work or expense involved though.

I want white picket fences and happy family members in my home but achieving the perfect holiday escapes me year after year. Seriously. 

My nieces don’t get along with my daughter in law. My daughter in law doesn’t get along with my nieces. My daughter in law’s political opinions go against my husbands. I’m an umpire at my own home fielding fly balls and watching the open bar. Loose lips sink ships. Liquor consumption fuels loose lips.

As many of you are aware Tuesday through Friday I’m either meeting clients or performing prison or jail weddings. A few of you may be shocked about this while others are aware of my diverse client base. Saturday evening, one client asked “why I never comment, post or blog about politics or religion?” These matters are personal and have nothing to do with my businesses or social media. 

Quite frankly, the posts and rants regarding opinions of others should have enlightened them of the possibility of losing half their audience but common sense is like breath spray. The people who need the most don’t use it and get in your face anyway. I’m not shy about stating the facts. If I don’t “talk about politics” I have my own reasons.

Trying to orchestrate a family get together Wednesday, my husbands done the bulk of shopping for gifts and Christmas dinner due to my schedule. He’s amazing. 

Returning home late tonight, he had even wrapped gifts after caring for Foxy who had a vet appointment today. Matthew is as perfect of a husband as I will ever find. 

Cindy is looking forward to having her husband home late tomorrow just in time for Christmas. Steve loves home cooking and holiday meals. 

Back in August, my Woodman State Jail Client had called to tell me his fiancé had cold feet and canceled their wedding. He was thrilled to contact me and let me know they are back on schedule. I can’t wait to finally meet Eric and celebrate a happy ending to his love story in Gatesville, Texas a literal “city of Prisons.”

If only my personal life with my in-laws could be as successful as my professional life with my clients! How to get along with others bent on not getting along continues to be a frustrating endeavor. 

We have a baby coming in March and I’m certain the Anne will (as usual) accuse me of doing too much. What Anne fails to realize is that I didn’t have a mother in my life. I’m the mother I always wanted. 

Anne’s own daughter gave up custody of Stephanie to Anne. My twin sister is raising her twin grandnieces. Raising someone else’s children is a challenge. 

I respect Anne for taking on a tremendous role of raising Stephanie. Why she feels intimidated of me I have no idea. Like her, I want what’s best for Robbie and Stephanie. Finding a way to meet in the middle when the baby comes will be yet another challenge with Stephanie’s mother and grandmother and myself. I want the baby baptized. They don’t. Here we go again with my son and Stephanie caught in the middle. 

“To uncover your true potential, you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.” — Picabo Street. 

Finding time to pack before flying to California early Thursday morning won’t be easy. I have an office Christmas party to work tomorrow with two Christmas Eve weddings tomorrow night. Traveling with two sets of twins isn’t as challenging as it was when Maryssa and Makenna were younger thank goodness. I’ve been watching the weather and flooding in California for several days now. We have a break in the forecast Friday, Saturday and Sunday which will certainly be welcome by my niece Leigh Ann who consistently grumbles on each FaceTime call “it never rains in California? It’s flooding out here!” 

My office will be closed December 23rd through January 3rd while Cindy and I are out of the state working destination bookings and visiting family. 

We will re open to a full January 2020 of more prisons, venues, people, places and travels of the Texas Twins….