Saturday, May 9, 2015

From a Stepmother on Mother's Day

I am a stepmother. 

There. I said it. The S word. I don't particularly like the word. 

I much prefer Bonus Mom, Momma Jodi or pretty much anything other than Stepmother. Maybe it's just the "Step" part that bothers me but it just seems so negative. I have never asked them to call me mom because that is not my place.

Thanks to Cinderella, we have understood the term "Wicked Stepmother" in vivid detail. There are volumes and volumes of notes in therapist's offices about how horrible Stepmothers can be, but I assure you, those are few and far between. In fact, I often hear from children, grown children that is, of families who had awful stepmothers and who give my husband and I accolades for how we are raising our children. Thankfully, there is that. I just really never expected Mother's Day to be so lonely with six children. I dread it actually... Sure, I enjoy the rest and the breakfast in bed. I certainly don't take that for granted with having been a single mother for many years, and only now having a loving husband and a child old enough to cook. So, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that my two children and my husband always make Mother's Day special. However, when you're mother to six kids virtually every other day of the year, it gets a little lonely. 

When I married their father, I know I didn't just marry him, I married THEM. And, I knew his ex, their biological mom, would always be a part of that equation.  In spite of how she treats us, however, she is their mother, and I understand that to that end, the children deserve to have us speak kindly about her and not to tear her down, it's counterproductive. And, in the end it hurts them, and I refuse to hurt them. They didn't choose this, but we just have to make the best of it and I will always take the high road, even when it's hard. FOR them...

Since we have custody of the children now, I have a renewed sense of what it is to be a mother. The fact that they didn't come from my womb, well... that matters less and less daily. What matters is who tucks them in at night, who prepares their meals, holds them when they hurt and has the power to make the pain go away with just a kind word or a band aid. Sigh... I just love being with them all, but Mother's Day is tough. As a step parent this season means that you may or may not be recognized in any way. Overlooked intentionally? I doubt it. But oh how I love my kids. All six of them. You see, I have been wicked stepmonster to four of the kids for almost four years now. So, with that said, it's hard to be the one that is a second thought even though they all tell me that they love me on a regular basis, a fact which we have never forced on them. I have always said I love you, but you don't have to love me, just know that I will love you no matter what. 

And, that, I guess is what really matters, even if they are with their mom on Mother's Day, I count my blessings that I get to be a part of their other days. I am thankful, blessed, and overwhelmed with the gift God has bestowed on us to take care of these amazing children. It's hard, daily. But worth every tantrum, every muddy shoe, every stinky soccer uniform, every unmade bed, every everything... because I am their BONUS mom.

Have a great day everyone! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Rules for Moms - 10 MISSION CRITICAL RULES! from someone who has been there.

The Rules for Moms - 10 MISSION CRITICAL RULES! from someone who has been there.

If you are a child of the 70's and 80's like me you may know a few of these things too, but humor me... As a product of the RULES books of the 90's I wanted to impart some NEW RULES, But this time for MOMS!

I am raising a family in the age of instant gratification, excess and technology. And though technology has its advantages with the convenience it offers, as moms we must stand up and fight FOR our kids and FOR the family. So here are a few RULES I've put together for moms that should help.

Preface with GOD... And lots of LOVE.

(1) Put face-to-face interaction FIRST!- in this age of technology, where everyone has his or her head in a screen, it's important that we set boundaries for ourselves and our families. We have a docking station where all of our devices land at 8 o'clock and they aren't touched for the duration of the evening. With six kids under 15, this is the best way to limit the tech time in the evenings that the kids have. We also make an effort to watch shows WITH our kids if and when we have time to watch TV.

(2) Touch- be sure you connect with your kids through touch. I'm not talking creeper touch, I'm talking a hug, a kiss, a touch on the arm. They just need that...

(3) Connect- telling the kids you're proud of them is one thing, but connecting with them in a common interest is essential... Even if it's something you're not "usually" in to. Do it for them, they'll eat it up!

(4) OfferEtiquette- I'm no Lauren Conrad, Martha Stewart or Emily Post, but we can't forget our kids when it comes to teaching them how to be well mannered. Teach them to sit still, ask for things nicely and to have good table manners. 

I had an etiquette coach in middle school (she was our English teacher and did this as an elective once per semester) when I was young and I still remember learning which fork is which and how to shake hands. These are skills we need to be someone who was socially adept and could go out to a nice dinner without embarrassing ourselves.

(5) Impart Wisdom- tell them YOUR story.
My kids love it when we share stories of our childhoods and experiences from our lives. They love hearing stories about places we've been and things we've seen. Unplug and talk to your kids. They love that.

(6) Give up control- teach them. I know it takes longer to teach someone to do something rather than do it yourself, but your kids will be more self sufficient end the end if you loosen the reins and let them do things for themselves. 

(7) Realize that perfection is a Myth- forget about being "Pinterest Perfect" and learn that good enough is pretty darn good when your juggling the duties of a modern day mom. Believe me, Pinterest is fun, but I look at it like a modern day magazine. You can't possibly do all those things, but the pictures sure are pretty to look at. Be yourself and be imperfect. Just being PRESENT is the biggest and only gift they need.

(8) Let them it's okay be little- kindergarteners are learning at a faster and faster pace, everyone is trying to be sure our kids have a competitive edge in this country and I understand. But that said, we mustn't forget that we need to allow them to just be kids and just allow them to run, jump, play in the rain and just be. That's the stuff they'll remember. 

(9) Teach Home Management- okay this one is for ALL the kids and speaks to the perfectionism I touched on earlier. Don't strive to perfection, but teach your children to wash their own clothes, wash their own dishes, clean up after meals and help out. This isn't merely a survival skill for big families, but the goal is to raise them to be productive adults, not productive needy leeches, right? So let's teach them to keep their spaces, K??

(10) Teach Competitiveness- in the age when "everybody wins" it is imperative that we teach our children to be competitive yet how to be a GOOD SPORT when they lose and when they win! Being competitive means competing against yourself too. Teach the kids the term "personal best", so they can be the best version of themselves.

What things do you do for your kids to help them be productive ADULTS? leave a comment below.

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Until next time have a great day!

Friday, January 16, 2015

SURVIVAL KIT FOR MOMS: 7 items I can't live without!

 So this morning A didn't go to school. It was EEG day. So we got the other five kids to school, homemade bottle rockets and backpacks in tow, and loaded everyone up into the vehicle. It is no small feat in the mornings because everyone argues about who gets to sit where. I see a seating chart in our future.

So Aiden and I went over to the hospital around 9:30am and got him checked in. We had to go to the "big" hospital because the machine at the children's hospital is broken. After waiting for about twenty minutes they called us back. Aiden buried his head into my chest. He was very concerned about this test. You see, he is just now old enough to really remember this. His last one was when he was almost four and he doesn't remember it. He hugged me tight and didn't want to get onto the table.

With some coaxing and a sigh of relief tinge technician finally got the leads on his head. 
This look... Says it... ALL

He was NOT happy.

But his doc said that if this test comes back ok, we may not have to have medication, which is what we've all been praying for since this journey started. No medications, no chronic terminal illness. FREEDOM to just be.

 Well the procedure started with the strobe, which always gives us both a headache and proceeded into me saying, "Just rest" like I have said so many times before.

The first 20 minutes of the hour long test consisted of me talking him through everything that was happening. Then, he asked me to hold his hands, so I took his little hands in mine and snuggled him for a bit. Then, I decided we needed some soft music playing, you see the goal is to get him to sleep. Which, Spoiler Alert, he never did sleep. But as I sat on a step stool by the bed with his hand in mine I told him a story that I just made up in my head. It was about Aiden and Lilly getting lost in the enchanted wood. It was a good story and it had a happy ending. You see, the wicked witch in the story was epilepsy, and the kids who escaped her clutches... Well that was us. 

This EEG, well... it was different. This time there is a light at the end of the tunnel where there hasn't been one for just a little less than five years. It makes me want to cry along with Aiden. This is all about to be behind us, and I feel somehow like I'm cutting off a limb. What the hell am I going to do without illness and "diagnoses" plaguing our daily life??. I wouldn't have wished the last five years of his life on anyone. And yet here we are... About to see a bright light shining over the horizon. But you see, we're not riding off into the sunset this is a NEW DAY. A new life has just begun. We are one family, one unit in its infancy, and we are just learning to walk.

SURVIVAL KIT FOR MOMS: 7 items I can't live without!

Here are some items I have needed as a mom in order to make it through these medical challenges with the kids:

1. God and a good Bible, a good translation (bible app is very good) If you use a hard copy, get one with footnotes... Like an NIV or a Study Bible. 
2. My family & friends, you know who you are! ❤️❤️❤️
3. Survival kit- includes but is not limited to a calendar, tablet, phone, tablet / phone charger (for those unexpected times you have to stay overnight when you just expected a test or two), an activity book for the kiddo, crayons, favorite stuffed animal, soft blanket (or other comfort object), a plastic bag to put soiled laundry in, a clean tee shirt for mom, a clean tee shirt for kiddo, a packet of tissues, current insurance card, cash, lip balm, hand cream, deodorant, and a travel tooth brush. 
4. Respite- be sure you take care of YOU.
5. Support Group- a group of individuals who can provide advice and support through the human side of an illness.
6. Patient liaison- most hospitals have one, someone who's been there, done that and can offer guidance on the financial / insurance end of things.
7. Peace- take time to breathe and reflect on what you CAN control, even when things seem totally out of control

These are just a few things that have helped me. What has helped you make it through a tough time with your child? Please leave a comment below!

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Until next time. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day One

  So I'm sitting in my car waiting to go in for my interview this morning. As I sit here I think about my kids and how my working will impact them negatively or positively. My anxiety is high but so are my hopes that this could be a new chapter the first day of the rest of my life. this is a song by Matthew West that I heard while waiting. Says it all!

I chose this life in the small town when I moved here three years ago... I sacrificed a lot to move here to marry the man I have been dreaming of, but it certainly hasn't been easy. For financial reasons I need to go back to work but for emotional reasons I struggle with the decision on whether or not this is right for my family. My prayer, and earnest petition to God, is that he calms my fears stifles my anxiety and makes it so that I go into this interview with an open mind, and let my skills and experience speak for themselves.

I hope you're having a great day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The long road to Christmas

Every time my five other kids besides my youngest go to their other parents for the first leg of Christmas break, I flash back to the day in 2008 when I gave it all to Him. Jesus. 

I have always been a Christmas Junkie. When I was young, we used to go to a place called "The Original Christmas Store" where we collected SO many Christmas decorations our house was always filled with Christmas. Busting at the seams. I loved the thought of Christmas. The smells and the lights, everything. I was hooked. But I didn't know Him and what Jesus was really capable of until one Christmas Eve everything changed.

You see, I had been a carefree single girl since a very painful divorce in 2005. I had spent the last three years having "me time" every first third and fifth weekend like most parents with primary custody. I was a mom when I had my daughter and love her immensely still, but I also had my share of fun. I was happy and blissfully ignorant of how my life could change in an instant.

On the night of Halloween of 2008, everything changed in a blink. My boyfriend at the time and I were sitting at a red light on our way home after a fun night with friends when we were badly rear ended by a drunk driver. He was going 50mph when he slammed into the back passenger side of our vehicle. My back was badly hurt and I had whiplash. I went to the ER by ambulance but nothing was broken and even though I was very sore, I was all right. They asked if I could be pregnant and I didn't know what to say. I didn't think so, I was on the pill, but I had been so sick with flulike symptoms. They took a blood test and told me to go take a pee test. So, I got one and took it and though I was in a lot of pain, I was also pregnant. Scared out of my mind, I couldn't stop shaking. I thought that this guy was a good one and that he would stand up and be there, but we barely knew each other. He ended up rejecting me and the unborn baby when he called three days before he wedding, on December 14th and said he didn't want to marry me. So here I was... Alone and broken. My daughter was with her dad. The carefree single girl had disappeared, and I also had just been laid off from the company I worked for after telling them of my pregnancy. I was raw, beaten down, and in shock. My parents pleaded with me to come visit, but I couldn't fathom sitting there in the pews of the church I had attended right after my divorce where people were so supportive and reveal my news to them. I was just too raw. I needed to be alone.

So, as I sat there in the pew at the church near my apartment on Christmas Eve, Alone and afraid, I prayed to the One I knew might be able to help. What I needed was hope. I was empty. I laid my heart at the cross that night. Against my better judgement, I had gotten into a huge mess and time would reveal that the ripple effect was going to be bigger than I ever could have imagined. I asked God to draw me close and fix my broken heart. And you know what? He did. 

It's taken a long time but I am happier than I've ever been. The hope that was restored to me that night at the altar six years ago makes me want to remember Him and what he did for me that Christmas Eve. It far overshadows the humanness of my circumstances at the time. God is never ending and he can drag you out of the depths of brokenness and prepare you for whatever you have happen in your future.

This year I will walk the long road to Christmas with open arms and I will hug the baby Jesus with my heart when I pray. I will renew my promise that I will mirror Christ to others. I will not pretend to be perfect but I will share my imperfection with those who want to hear it. Because my flaws are what opened my heart to this savior. 

Bare your true and broken heart to Him this year. Let God In. He will equip you to handle whatever life throws at you!

Here we are, Christmas season 2014, God and a great system of support have brought us so far. There is more to the story that I will share eventually, but this is why Christmas means so much to me.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: White Suburban Mom Speaks Out

BREAKING NEWS: White Suburban Mom Speaks Out.

I usually do not speak up about matters concerning politics religion or racism, but this is gone on too long. How can we possibly sit by and let this go on? People are dying and the only power I have to stop it is to try and change the hearts of the people around me so here goes.

The most important news story is how racism has and is defining our country. It saddens me deeply after all this time we cannot seem to move past it. 

I am white. Unlike many white children raised in the 1970's and 1980's, I was raised in a home where my parents loved everyone: All races, all religions, all sexual orientations. Sure, if you were mean spirited, they wouldn't be all warm and fuzzy, but they did their best to mirror Christ to people they encountered and I love them for that.

Breaking news stories about black and brown children being killed hurt us ALL. We need justice and we need understanding, but most of all we need Christ. Our police are being killed, stores are being looted and all of this frightens me. As a white woman I am frightened and horrified because as a race we just have to do better. Love is the only answer. If we loved everyone and let them be proud of who they are while mutual respect reigned and we didn't judge each other, we would all be better off. 

My view may seem too open minded, but I ask you this: Why NOT? why can't I treat everyone with dignity in a world where people don't? Why can't I love more and judge less? Why can't we just let an individual's merit and heart be what we see?

"... The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paulkbunch Books!!!

The Paulkbunch books will be having its grand opening very soon!!! I look forward to seeing you all there!!! Here is a little teaser about some of the goings-on with Paulkbunch books brought to you by Usborne books and more! I was very impressed by the quality of the books as well as the different types of children that we cater to.

Why is reading important??

They even have young adult fiction for the teen reader in your life!