McConnell Unit To Hutchins State Jail & More Travels Of Texas Twins…

Yesterday morning while leaving home at 4AM to head to McConnell Unit, Cindy and I buckled up for a fourteen hour day. 

Twins, best friends and problem solvers in every aspect of our lives, my sister and I enjoy each other’s company far more than anyone realizes.

My twin and I always travel together to long distance events. I find fun places for Cindy to wait while I’m “inside” a Unit at Prison Weddings. Beeville had a Goodwill and numerous junk shops to keep Cindy entertained. 

We really enjoy leaving “Fort Worth in our rear view mirror” for a day of fun and adventure and, we always manage to get plenty of laughs twinning our way to remote towns and destinations too.

Cindy had spent the night with me and went over the list of what we were taking with us on a nearly six hour one way drive to meet my beautiful bride in Beeville, Texas.

I don’t google myself but, apparently other people do so I wasn’t surprised to hear from a friend that she had found a blog about Cindy and I titled “The Texas Twins.” 

Our blogs and our clients are chock full of variety. I’m honest about the setbacks, flips and flops, family squabbles and more because transparency is important to my followers. 

Occasionally, there are a few hilarious twists that no one could have expected but, failure isn’t an option for me, my twin or anyone in my family working for Texas Twins Events or The Pawning Planners. 

The fact that a reader found us hilarious and inspiring while occasionally outrageous didn’t bother me. “Outrageous” can be anything from scandalous to flamboyant or shocking. It’s a mop that actually flops both ways in my opinion. 

Cindy and I actually are somewhat “saucy.” If we weren’t, we would be far too quiet, shy or reserved to do what we do. We love to laugh and we love to help others. We are “thankful for the journey and grateful for the trip” too. 

Our adventures are something we always look forward too although my reserved husband constantly worries about me on back roads hours from home. 

My twin sister and I are pioneers that started with a concept to help others. We’ve never been shy or reserved. What we are is determined. Helping others isn’t for the faint hearted. If you aren’t up for an adventure, I can assure you that this line of work isn’t for you. 

Juggling clients from rich to poor, gay or straight, and everything in between including one of them being incarcerated requires an open mind and am open heart. 

We welcome anyone and when problems arise, Cindy and I work together to “work it out.” Maybe that makes us different but, it also makes us unique and genuine. 

In fact, I took it as a compliment. Why? Because even I couldn’t predict where the last eight years of my life would take me. 

Deciding to start a People Over Profit based business eight years ago got a few laughs from friends and family who underestimated my dedication to success. 

They don’t laugh anymore unless they happen to be reading a blog or post about what when wrong on location and more importantly how we made it right. Cindy and I are a helluva team and we love to laugh. Occasionally, we have to in order to keep from crying. 

From our own family to the occasional drunk guest getting out of hand, when you work with the general public and a wide array of clients, there WILL be surprises. There always are.

While Cindy and I are driving across Texas Monday through Friday, our phones never stop ringing. Occasionally, these phone calls are half family and half Clients. 

By 7AM, we decided to roll into a McDonalds for breakfast and hit the bathroom. My Bride had already checked in on us and Cindy was as hungry as I was. 

Leaving McDonalds, my niece, Stephaney came up in our conversation. She’s being released from JPS/LCA tomorrow. The problem? I’m at Hutchins State Jail handling several weddings tomorrow and Cindy is busy in Weatherford staying on top of her granddaughter, Maryssa and the homework she hasn’t been doing for most of the first quarter of this school year. Last week, a surprising email regarding Maryssa being expelled was the last thing we needed to hear. 

It’s been the year of stress and surprises for the Texas Twins that’s why. From Stephaney being committed 11 times this year to my dad believing people are living in his attic and Maryssa sneaking out of the house and acting out, Cindy and I literally cannot take one more family related surprise. Seriously. We are done with the drama around here. I filed an Appeal with ISchool regarding Maryssa and successfully got got her re enrolled Monday after a week of Cindy and I nearly ripping our hair out over what we were going to do with Maryssa and her desire to consistently getting in trouble lately with worries about her mother and my father in the back of our minds while we “put our happy faces on” and go to work. 

Meanwhile, Stephaney has lost everything this year including a place to live. Stephaney tries to use guilt with Cindy and I that isn’t working anymore. Why? Because Stephaney is 31 and because we are raising her twin daughters without benefit of child support. 

With one of the twins, Maryssa getting into trouble this past year while dealing with Stephaney and my dad and juggling roughly 100 clients this year, my patience is at an all time low over what to do with Stephaney. The other twin, Makenna is constantly googling diseases and quickly becoming a hypochondriac. I took her to the doctor today to alleviate her fear of leukemia and a brain tumor. At 14, Makenna is most likely depressed regarding her best friend in life, Maryssa acting out and more interested in her phone than her twin. But, to calm my grandniece, we are going to a neurologist in a few weeks to see why debilitating headaches are haunting Makenna. 

My niece, Stephaney is going into a group home. Stephaney has burned all of her bridges with every member of our family at this point including our dad. It’s tragic but true that Stephaney had finally hit rock bottom. I faxed documentation of where Stephaney was and why she couldn’t attend her pretrial hearing Monday to her attorney last Friday in order to waive the pretrial hearing until she was released from psychiatric treatment. 

Waiting on my niece to get released and wondering if she will get s job and get her life together is a dark cloud over Cindy and I. Stealing an eighteen wheeler in Oklahoma four years ago was pretty shocking but, after this year, I don’t think it’s possible for Stephaney to shock us anymore. Sadly, we are numb to what Stephaney has drug her mother and I through all of these years. We have to be. Her phone calls always revolve around “talking to HER kids.” The kids we’ve taken care of since they were born. They aren’t kids anymore and, they don’t want to talk to their mother. Her actions this year are too much for the entire family but especially the twins. 

Weatherford is a small town and most of the town has seen Stephaney acting or driving crazily the past year. The twins are homeschooled to protect them from whiskers about their mother. A mother who never had to worry about feeding or clothing the twins. A mother that has no idea how much sacrifice is involved to raise twins in your forties. A mother who always put herself and her desires first. My niece is remarkably similar to my own mother. Talking to her kids is and always will be an afterthought to Stephaney. For years I’ve warned her to get it together or one day the twins won’t care about her. For years my niece thought I was wrong. 

I’m old and I’m wise and I’ve survived many things. I’ve been in a violent marriage and I learned that freedom is expensive. Leaving my first husband was the most painful war that I’ve ever fought. Wars leave scars. Custody battles are wars. 

My twin was married to a man that had two lives. Eventually, Larry left Cindy and her daughters after Cindy gave birth to Stephaney. Larry wanted a boy. Larry had secrets. Larry also never paid one dime of child support. I saved Cindy and her daughters by moving them with me to California. 

There weren’t any other family members offering help. There never have been. The truth is that I started Texas Twins Events for people like Cindy and I who DIDN’T have families to help them plan a Life Event. We were two of those folks ourselves. 

A lot of people ask me why I chose to be so different and so willing to change and adapt. Experience along with an open heart and more importantly, an open mind. I have a strong support group- my husband and my twin sister. 

Cindy and I have sold everything under the sun and know the market and trends. We also did something NO ONE in the events industry had ever done by merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create a barter option with The Pawning Planners. Sure, a few folks laughed while others thought we would fail. 

We knew what these “laughing at our concept folks” didn’t. There are people without money and credit cards that want services too. They MAY NOT have money or family to pay their services for them but, what THEY DO have are items of value laying around. 

While others thought bartering services wouldn’t work, they watched the Texas Twins grow and expand over and over because we don’t think in a box. Survivors never do. Survivors are creative and willing to take risks. We did and, it paid off so well that four generations of our family now work for us. Cindy and I ARE SURVIVORS. We lift each other up when one of us is down and we refuse to fail at anything. We are determined, driven, passionate and perseverant. 

While we’ve managed to succeed at business, we’ve failed at fixing our family this last year. We continue to hang in there and try to keep a positive attitude but, it hasn’t been easy. Cindy’s daughter, Stephaney has given us both a “run for the money.” All three of our children and grandchildren have been raised by both of us. It’s not uncommon for my son or one of my nieces to ask me for something then ask Cindy. In fact, it happens all of the time. The kids know how to play us both as the mother or MeMe because we both are. 

Running around being the “fixer” on either my or Cindy’s time off is stressful. Getting Maryssa back in school and trying to keep Stephaney out of jail? Overwhelming. I’m tired of worrying about my dad and his online dating or belief that people are living in his attic. Cindy’s tired too. If we have had a “family problem” day off around here the last twelve months, I certainly can’t remember it. I doubt Cindy can either.

Stephaney left the clothes that Cindy had just bought at dads before going down Camp Bowie shadow boxing streetlights and yelling bible verses at passing cars and guests of El Fenix. Her behavior landed her right back at JPS. Stephaney wanted me to call my dad to pick up her things but, my dad isn’t in Fort Worth. Why? Because he found a girlfriend online and has been in Waco for over a week now and Cindy or I have no idea when or if he will return home. Because of this, we will (as usual) need to buy more clothes for Stephaney. 

My FB Memories came up again with photos of my niece, Stephaney smiling at a function with me. I’m devastated she’s thrown her life away again but, I’m helpless as is Cindy to change it. We are far too busy dealing with clients and raising Stephaneys twin daughters to deal with more “Stephaney problems” but, there isn’t anyone else to do it for us. 

I decided to use the six hours coming and going to Beeville to convince Cindy to step away. She has to. My sister is depressed about what the future for her daughter now holds. Frankly, I am too but, it’s out of our hands. 

As usual, my son called to complain about taking inventory and wound up getting an earful of what had happened to Leigh Ann my other niece. Leigh Ann and her daughter live with Cindy. Leigh Ann is also germophobic and occasionally, a hypochondriac. While at the post office, my niece had been holding the door for a man in a wheelchair while her sleeping daughter slept peacefully on her shoulder. Apparently, the electric wheelchair aka a jazzy, ran over Leigh Ann’s foot. Here’s how the phone call went “Mom, I’m at the post office with Maddy and this guy in a wheelchair that I was holding the door for must’ve put it on bunny instead of turtle and ran over my foot with his filthy wheelchair wheels! Am I going to get an infection from this? Should I got to the hospital? Is my foot broke?” Cindy and I busted out laughing at the same time. Why were we laughing? The “bunny mode” reference. The filthy wheels that weren’t sanitary would be something that ONLY Leigh Ann would consider. 

Telling my son what had happened to Leigh Ann while she was mailing boxes from my Texas Twins Treasures Store, my son stopped complaining about inventory and was silent for a moment which is rare. He then decided to finally speak “I know what happened. Leigh Ann is so used to people holding the door for her that she didn’t know how to hold the door for someone else and was standing in the doorway. The guy had no choice but to run over her foot. I don’t think he could’ve navigated the door and Leigh Ann on “bunny” he had to be on “turtle.” Cindy and I laughed so hard at this “on point” observation that I nearly choked on my coffee.

If there was a microphone in my SUV, people wouldn’t believe a few of the conversations I have on Bluetooth with my family. Hell, even I have been shocked a few times myself. From my dad telling me he can hear people talking in the attic to someone my niece, Stephaney knows telling me she’s acting crazy again to phone calls from dad or Stephaney at a mental institution, it’s getting harder and harder not to laugh at some of the things I’ve heard. Cindy feels the same way. 

How can you listen to a crazy conversation without laughing? Eye rolls and shoulder jabbing aside, Cindy and I are “out” on further Psych Ward visits to anyone in our family which is why we haven’t went to see Stephaney on this last “stint.” We simply can’t bring ourselves to behave upbeat and cheerful with Stephaney’s current situation.

As navigation lady took us off 287, my Allred Unit Bride called to schedule her wedding in December. Cindy and I all over the place with Cindy in December from Bell Tower Chapel to Mercado Event Center to Texas Rangers Stadium to Willow Lake Event Center, “traditional clients” along with TDCJ Texas Prison Wedding Clients are “stacked” seven days a week. 

We are currently sold out of all custom brooch bouquets but, will have new stock available by December or January of the grey multi, pink multi and are solid color designs. The grey multi is always our best seller. If you have custom colors in mind, please email me for timelines. We had two calls from Fort Worth to Beeville regarding custom bouquets but, we are back ordered and current ship times are 8-10 weeks. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

Driving by houses Cindy and I couldn’t believe people lived in off 130, I looked over and reiterated to my sister “if I ever have to live in the boonies, I don’t think I could get over the depression. Country living isn’t the life for me.” Cindy replaced quickly, “me either.” A few folks think we are hillbillies. We aren’t. Cindy is. Cindy loved in the country for a few years and hated it. Cindy’s also married to a truck driver and quick whitted. My sister is never at a loss for words unless it’s regarding her daughter, Stephaney. Who could blame her? It’s a depressing conversation. “How’s Stephaney?” Cindy and I both look away at this question and admit “back in the Psych Ward again.” We wish people would stop asking but, they don’t.

Arriving in Beeville, I drop Cindy off at Goodwill and check in with my bride, Missy about where we are meeting. We settle on the Unit and I head to McConnell.

Since I left home at 4AM and I’m early, I spend a little time putting on makeup while I wait. I always wonder while sitting in a maximum security unit if my niece will wind up there one day. It saddens me. I fear her inability to accept responsibility will be the reason she eventually loses her freedom. Her attorney calls to discuss her mental issues. I wonder if the guard in the birdcage high above me wonders what I’m doing sitting in my SUV putting on makeup discussing the last year of escapades with Stephaney but, he apparently doesn’t. I keep looking for Missy who had rented a hotel the night before to be close to the unit and hope she’s okay.

I’m always early. Being late is cause for a panic attack. Being late to me is stealing time. Time you can never pay back. Cindy knows I’m such a freak about being early that we leave far earlier than necessary to keep me from getting panicky about time.

I text Missy that I’m checking in at 11AM and end my phone call with Stephaney’s attorney who has apparently googled me too. I am surprised about this a bit. “You do Prison Weddings, barter Event Services and are somewhat famous for LBGT weddings. Your blogs are hilarious, sad, joyous, heartwarming and exciting. I know how painful dealing with your niece is. It’s out of your hands. I will do whatever I can.”

Walking past razor wire and a giant complex that compromises McConnell Unit, it’s amazing how many vehicles are in the employee parking lot. I check in and the Chaplain is notified while I wait.

My Bride looks stunning in a red dress with flares hem and ruffles in red. We quickly hug and go through the screening process. Missy is fun and I immediately like her. 

As the Chaplain escorts us to the Visitation Area, it’s an overcast day in Texas outside as my beautiful bride and I excitedly wait to meet her groom.We decide to do the ceremony outside and afterwards, Missy visits for 30 minutes while I run back to pick up Cindy with bags of goodies from Goodwill.

We head back to meet Missy at her hotel, the Holiday Inn Express of 59. I’ve brought an array of bouquets for her bridal photos and Cindy and I now starving, walk over to order burgers to go. We aren’t dieting on long drives because we blow diet days off when we are on the road for more than 6 hours.

Here’s Missy’s favorites. We had a great time with her.Cindy and I tell Missy how we wound up going through back roads trying to get to Beeville and she helps me change my navigation that’s apparently been preset to avoid toll roads and highways? I had no idea of this and was thankful she also unmuted my navigation which I couldn’t get to talk to me in my SUV.

Missy also offered to let us follow her to Waco since she was headed to Dallas and we enjoyed calling each other several times while caravanning our way through the country back to the highways.

Last February, my amazing Allred Unit bride and her mother gave me a lift after the bus terminal closed. I don’t drive on ice but, I find ways to get there and never expected to find myself stranded in an ice storm either. Thankfully, my amazing new friends not only gave me a lift back to Fort Worth but also enjoyed lunch with me.

I’m blessed to meet incredible people from all walks of life and spend the time I missed spending with Cindy for twenty plus years “working for the man.” Texas Twins Events gave me a window to help others, spend time with my family and finally enjoy really truly enjoy meeting fun folks here, there and everywhere. The nicest people you could ever imagine finding anywhere. Missy was one of those people.

Tomorrow I’m back at Hutchins State Jail and Leigh Ann will be handling photography. Afterwards, I’m going to drop off cigarettes and clothes to Stephaney at the group home. I’m nervous about seeing her again and how she will act this time but, trying to remain positive. 

Friday back at Estes in Venus and then I’m in Dallas Saturday and Houston Sunday for a baptism of my previous TDCJ Clients baby.   Many of my former clients are lifelong friends and I’m thankful for the opportunity to not only handle Vow Renewals for TDCJ couples after release as well as birthday parties and baptisms. 

My last Hutchins Unit Bride is finally reunited with her husband and I’m really enjoying keeping up with her posts on Instagram. 

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for these couples and I’m always thrilled that they finally have the Love After Lock Up that they waited so long to enjoy.

Perhaps their marriage is different than your or mine but, love knows no bounds and I wish them all the happiness that they deserve. I’m honored and humbled to have met so many wonderful people among our way of “changing the wedding and events industry one family at a time from Fort Worth, Texas.”

Inspiring, undaunted and outrageous? Hmm. Perhaps the outrageous part may be about our personalities? We don’t hold back. We love to laugh and we love to make others smile I know that much is and always will be true. My twin and I pray that Stephaney finds her way and that dad finds happiness but, these are things we can’t control…