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Meet My Team!


My Dad


Wren & Gladys Ellis already had four daughters, when my father made a surprise appearance 8 years later, with a final brother tagging behind. He grew up on a ranch in Southern Idaho, where my Grandpa Ellis wasted no time putting his SON to work! As legend has it, he placed my three year old father in the drivers seat of the farm truck, jimmy rigged the gas pedal, and told him to hold the wheel steady so they could load hay bales on the back as he drove up and down the rows of freshly cut straw.  At the end of the row, someone would jump in the truck and turn it around, and then my dad would take back the wheel.

That word -STEADY- pretty much sums up my father. He has always taken his role to provide for his family seriously. A born observer, sweet and grateful, my dad can figure out how anything works, avoid conflict like the plague, build a mean campfire and has taught me what hard work and perseverance is all about. His warmth and kindness attracts the pure in heart, including small animals and toddlers; who may also fall under the umbrella of animals.

The Great Ruth D.

My mother, the great Ruth D. is a flat out a creative genius. Like her father Raymond Doty, she has an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and absorbs information like a thirsty sponge. She is cheerful and buoyant, but can access her evil twin in a heartbeat if she thought my brothers and I weren’t living up to our potential  More quotable than Donald Trump, my mother follows in her mother Louise’s footsteps by gathering a cult following wherever she goes. A gifted musician, composer, leader and teacher, my mom is the most capable person I know. She gets more done before seven am than most people do all day.  Seriously. The woman is a morning person. In fact, she put the mourn in morning for me when I was growing up. Like clock work, I could expect her cheery 6 am arrival, bursting like a tornado into my room. She’d yank the blinds open, while singing a rousing rendition of Oh What a Beautiful Morning or Master the Temptest is Raging.


My mother loves her children to the point of self harm and would give anyone, anywhere the shirt off her back, then worry she should have had a better shirt to give them. She taught me grit, the finer points of humor, and how important it is to serve and love others. I can still count on her to drop everything and be there for me whenever I need her, unless of course, she is stuck ironing the new shirts she plans to wear in layers,  because you can never be too prepared.


The Reason Why I’m Coo Coo!


Da Boys

Names in order of appearance in photo; Jesse, Jake, Joanie, Dad, Mom, Jared, Josh.

I grew up in a split level house, where my mom would frequently throw things like moon boots or roller skates down the stairs while cleaning up. Without warning, you could get pummeled with a baseball bat, a Boys Life Magazine, or a Thunder Cat action figure.


My parents gave us all J names, chronologically we are known as Jared, Joanie, Jacob, Josh and Jesse. Because I had four brothers, I grew up watching He-Men not My Little Pony, wrestling, dodging lighted lady fingers, and trying to find the pulled off heads of my barbie, because she had a hot date with Ken, and apparently he likes starring blissfully into her eyes.

Also, my mother has literally yelled the words”Jared, if  you don’t stop shooting Joanie this instant, you’re going to be on the bricks for the rest of the day!” “Geez, mom, calm down! It’s just a BB gun, it didn’t even break the skin!” he yelled back, rolling his eyes. “Yes it did!!” I yelled in retaliation. “Prove it” Jared challenged, “I can’t! It’s on my butt” I yelled. “And your point is….” he continued. “My point is I can’t prove it because I can’t show you my butt!”  I screamed. “That’s not my problem” Jared said, shrugging. “I can’t control where you shoot me! You’re the one who aimed!” I fumed, “Well, I needed a big target,” Jared countered laughing. At this point in the conversation we were interrupted when Jared got hit in the back by a pair of tennis shoes my mom had thown down the stairs. “Look out?” She shouted a few beat later. And then continued by yelling, “Joanie don’t say butt or you’re going to be sitting on the bricks next to Jared!”


Sitting on the “bricks” was my family’s form of punishment. My father built the long brick bench in front of our living room fireplace when I was five. When we got in trouble, we were told to “go sit on the bricks.” Were we’d wait until a parent came to lecture us about important things like why you shouldn’t lock your brother in the the chest freezer.

“How do you think you would feel if you were stuck inside a pitch black box, laying on a bag of frozen weeines in nothing but your underwear?” My dad would prompt.


“I don’t know. Cold I guess.” the accused would mutter.

We would promise not to repeat the infraction and then be rereleased into the wild.  On a side note, a new kid named Jeremy had recently moved into our neighborhood, and rumor had it that his parents were more into corporal punishment. One day he came over to ask if Jared could “play” and was told Jared was sitting on the bricks and would come out when he was done. When Jared had served his time, Jeremy was waiting for him outside and quizzically asked Jared, “Are they hot bricks?”


I love my family deeply. They are talented, fun, smart, generous, and some of my favorite people to hang out with.

Except Jesse. He’s judgy.

There’s always one. 😉

Russell The Love Muscle


When Russ and I were dating one of my brothers started calling him Russell the Love Muscle. I thought it was cute, and catchy. Plus, Russ was a BYU football linebacker, so he did have big muscles, so I thought it was fitting.  I started calling him Russell the Love Muscle too,  or sometimes just love muscle, thus offending my future in-laws, before I even officially entered the family. 😉 It’s telling that I genuinely didn’t realize what muscle love muscle was referring to.  In fact, there was plenty I didn’t comprehend when I got married at twenty.

Yes, I did just type married at 20.

And no, I wasn’t pregnant.


Russell is an ESL teacher, because like idiots we thought giving back would be more rewarding than being able to afford gas 🙂 A one time Idaho farm boy, Russ grew up in a small town just outside Boise where he and his younger brothers made their own fun by playing such games as,”Jedi Warrior Training.” This training scenario was played out where they stand at the ready, light saber stick in hand, looking every bit like the Jedi Padawan they were portraying, while another brother threw dirt clods at the warrior for his to attempt to decimate with either his saber or the force.


Russ takes his role as a Texas resident seriously, and has almost perfected his red neck skills. He likes Jesus, shootin’ and America, and is followed everywhere by Boo Bear, his loyal wookie/dog sidekick. I’m not supposed to divulge that he’s seeing a therapist to process diagnosed WIPTSD. (Wife induced post traumatic stress disorder) which is a result of prolonged exposure to living with a woman who can machine gun fire information/directions/tasks/instructions with the speed and accuracy of a Navy Seal sharp shooter.  But you didn’t hear that from me. He’s a bit more private than me.

Meanwhile, turns out having multiple careers and multiple boys with multiple personalities  (I call the angry one bitey) is harder than you might think when you are 20. We have kept our marriage alive by consistently practicing avoidance, fleeing, disassociating and eating our feelings, and when all else fails, there’s always the defibrillator and duct tape.

He regularly drives me bat freaking crazy, but in fairness, I drive him equally crazy, but  that’s mostly because I’m a 36 DD.

I’m kidding. I’m only a D.

Alexander The Great


Alex was born while we were still in College, and has proved to be excellent material to experiment on. Alex is smart, kind hearted, loves animals. and travel. He constantly works to shrug off baggage that weighs on him as heavy as Jacob Marley’s chains. He sometimes stumbles under the added burden, exhausted, while I offer helpful tips like, “The chains aren’t locked dude” or “Don’t go swimming” while he sighs heavily. He follows the Tidwell tradition of growing to full beast size by the time he’s 14, has blond hair that curls just enough to give it texture, and sky blue stormy eyes.

Alex has autism, which pisses him off, and sensory integration disorder, which pisses me off 😉 I am a sensory tsunami, and water plus oil, well….you know. Despite my uncanny ability to ignite his startle reflex, (yes, even now that he’s not an infant, but twenty)  he seems to love me anyway. He continues to make progress despite my help, in fact the twitch I’ve caused is hardly even noticeable anymore.

Spencer The Lizard


Spencer got his nickname when he was a baby and Alex used to put him in a laundry basket and call him his lizard pet, and it stuck. To the degree that Alex physically favors the Tidwells, Spencer physically favors the Ellis’s. He’s a sensitive’s soul with an easy smile and sardonic sense of humor. He takes after me in the ADHD department, and is the second most accident prone person in our family. That’s right baby! Momma holds the record. He lost 90 percent of the vision in his right eye during a bungy cord accident when he was 5. Decapitated his finger at 11, broke his hand, on Alex’s head when he was 13, and had his noggin, stapled, glued and stiched shut more times than I can remember. I am genuinely surprised his ongoing injuries didn’t get us on the CPS watch list, but then again, we moved around a lot. We’re smart like that.


When he was little we used to pull all the couch cushions off the couch and make a “sandwich” with boys being the ingredients in the middle, and the cushion bread slices on either side. As soon as we started the game, spencer would start shouting, “I am the cheese! I am the cheese!”  And so, he was. Being the cheese suits him.  Sandwiched between his two autistic brothers, Spencer melts into all the crevices holding everything together. (But no pressure Spence.) He is kind hearted and clever with a double dose of natural ginger charm.
He will graduate from high school June 8, 2019, which I’ve mentally blocked, because, woof. He is a gift, a joy and a go-getter, plus, Spencer has helped us reach our family deductible every single year.

He’s nice like that.


Loggy Bear

I didn’t know I needed a Loggy Bear. But luckily God did. He was born 18 months after Spencer (surprise!) and was attached at the hip (and by hip I mean breast) to me from that point on.

He takes a cup now, too.

As a newborn, Logan had reflux and an ulcer, refused to take a bottle or binky, and preferred to sleep in my arms, or not at all. He’s resourceful like that. His arrangment allowing him to snack leisurely at his wanting.


Logan and Spencer wrestle like wolf cubs, and listening to their backseat banter on the way to school makes me think they should be writers for a sitcom. Logan is artistic, deliberate, kind hearted and kills the ladies with his sultry vocal cords and smoldering  good looks. Logan is built like a Tidwell, but is the Ferdinand of the family. He looks intimidating, true, but in reality he only wants to eat the flowers.

Unless of course you manage to actually piss him off.



His favorite shirt says, “Please don’t make me do things” and he means it. He still dips his head for me to kiss when I drop him off at school, and he makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day.

Now if I could just get him weened!


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