Z is for Zoo Field Trip

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This is it! This is the last letter of the alphabet for the A-to-Z Challenge. I cannot believe I wrote every day this month. I wrote passionately throughout this challenge for every single letter. Thank you to everyone who took this journey with me. It wasn’t always pretty but it was real. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Now on to the letter Z!

Earlier this month, M and I helped chaperone Little Miss’s class at the Detroit Zoo. When the field trip permission slips were sent out, Little Miss came running out of her classroom that day yelling, “Jess! Jess! You HAVE to come to the zoo field trip with me! Please!! I realllllyyyyy want you to come with me!” I mean, how could I turn down a request like that? M saw the paper when he got home from work and asked Little Miss if he could come too. Of course she lit up like a light bulb and said “YES!”

I volunteer in Little Miss’s classroom every Thursday, so the kids in her class know who I am. They were all very happy to hear that Mrs Jess was coming to the zoo with Mr M. Little Miss’s teacher, Mrs. B, came up to me and said that since I have such a strong connection with one of the kids who has emotional outbursts in class frequently (apparently I am good with dealing with people who freak out), if she could put him in our group for the zoo. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous at first. Yes, I do have a special connection with this little boy. He listens to me when I talk to him, and when I’m in the classroom he actually gets work done, but I was kind of looking forward to a day with our daughter at the zoo for her first field trip. Of course I told Mrs B yes and then she said, “I think it will be good for R to be around you and your husband. You know he’s really a great kid, he just needs some love and attention, and I think you both will be able to give him that.” That really spoke to me. This teacher can obviously see what a great team we make and she feels it will really help this little boy. I felt honored she trusted us with that.

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Zoo day arrives and Mrs B comes up to us before we all head out to the buses. She told us R’s dad might show up at the zoo, and that he “isn’t suppose to be there” What? I have to keep a child from his parent? Then I thought, thank God M is with me, then I felt this ache in my heart for this little boy. I can only imagine what his home life is like. I know his parents are divorced and he has been acting out ever since. I also know Mrs B was right, this kid just needs a little love and attention and then he will relax.

So that’s exactly what we were going to do at the zoo. It was just Little Miss, R, M, and I in a group.  Each kid had a specific animal they needed to research at the zoo for a report they were putting together. R was fabulous the entire day! He was smiling ear to ear and had such a blast with Little Miss. No sightings of his dad, we saw every animal at the zoo, and we even saw the rain forest exhibit that was locked off to the public!  R finished his entire paper for his report (this is a huge win) and Little Miss had a blast with her daddy and I. It was an overall amazing first field trip for everyone!

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Little Miss and I at the zoo

When we got home, Mrs B emailed me and thanked my husband and I for taking such great care of R. I guess he sat next to her the whole bus ride home from the zoo and talked non stop about how much fun he had with us. “He had an amazing time filled with love and positive attention. Thank you for taking such great care of him. I knew you both would be perfect for him.”

My first field trip is now in the books! The zoo was in full spring swing and it was an amazing eye opening experience of how thankful I am the munchkins have parents who love them and give them the positive attention they need.

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Reblog: How to Honor Stepmoms on Mother’s Day

This is a very common feeling for stepmoms on Mother’s Day. Stepmomincognito is right, we just want to feel loved and supported ❤

Stepmom Warrior, LLC

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. For stepmoms and their husbands this can be a tricky day to navigate. Emotions can run high. Anxiety can brew.Bio-moms are often recognized, while stepmoms can be overlooked. I attended a church service last Sunday where they were holding a parenting seminar. The pastor kept mentioning mothers and fathers and not once mentioned stepmoms and stepdads. In the greeting card aisle there are hundreds of options for bio-moms, while stepmoms get only a few. Autocorrect doesn’t recognize “stepmoms” as a word. This comes as no surprise. And stepmoms are by no means trying to take credit for carrying a baby for nine months and taking part in the birthing process. We get it. We’re not the bio-mom. However, we are in a mothering role and we deserve to be recognized.

Flowers, gifts, chocolate, wine, and tokens of appreciation are always nice but what…

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Y is for You Are Loved

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Three words I have always wanted the kids to know are, “You are loved”. Being shuffled between two houses most of their whole lives has been a routine for them. They are so lucky to have so many people who love and care about them.They didn’t understand what was going on six years ago, but no matter what I know they knew they were loved.

They have two sets of parents, four sets of grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins who love them to pieces. Every child deserves to know they are loved. Love is a powerful thing and feeling loved helps us get through our day. One of the first things a child learns, is to love. Kids have so much love to give, even when they are being little snots, they should know they are still loved.

Little Miss is pretty vocal about her love for everyone. She tells me at LEAST 100 times a day how much she loves me. I could be doing stuff for work, making dinner, blowing my nose, she tells me she loves me and I know she means it. Little Man has a huge heart. A huge yet gentle heart. He is the absolute best with surprise hugs and I-love-yous. We will be sitting at the dinner table and I will look at up him and he gives me a wink. A wink that no one else catches but me and it melts my heart. That’s his way, in that moment, to tell me he loves me. He’s going to be quite the ladies man when he gets older.

There are times when the kids get in trouble and we as parents get pretty pissed off at them. I know I have lost my cool too many times to count, but at the end of every discussion M and I have with them we tell them “You are loved. Even when you make us upset, you are loved.” I don’t think they ever really question if they are loved or not, but to make a point to remind them after some harsh words, always helps in my book.

Love is an amazing feeling. Love lifts us up when the world feels like it is bringing us down. There was a time I was pretty upset about something and Little Miss came up to me and wrapped her little arms around my waist and said, “You are loved, Jess.” I knew right then and there we must be doing something right! We are teaching them love and compassion, and they are nailing it right on the head!

So if you’re having a rough day today, remember you are loved. Smile and know that someone else loves you for who you are and that’s the best thing anyone could ask for!

“Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Reblog: Meet & Greet- Bucket List!

Come join in on the fun at Niki’s Meet and Greet this weekend! Also, she is hosting a Kindness Challenge in May. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must. What a wonderful way to work on YOU for the month of May!

The Richness of a Simple Life

Welcome back for another weekend meet and greet! I had so much fun at the last one! Talking about what we wanted to be “when we grew up” there was so much engagement and interaction, hands down one of the best meet and greets over here in my humble opinion!

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X is for XOXO

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Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I pack the munchkin’s lunches and snacks. It’s something I have done since Little Man was in Kindergarten. After packing their lunches I will always write them a little note with something sweet or funny and then I will sign it “XOXO”.

One day I forgot to write them a note, and the first thing they both said to me when I saw them was “Why didn’t you write me a note today in my lunch?!” I honestly didn’t know if they really liked the notes or were just being nice because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Little Miss would mention something after school sometimes and knowing that Little Man was getting older and might not want notes anymore from me, I was surprised he spoke up too. I apologized to them and said I will make sure I put one in tomorrow. When we got home Little Miss took me into her room and opened a little box she has on her side table. Inside were tons of the notes that I wrote her. She told me that she is saving them all because she likes to reread them when she wakes up in the morning. And there she goes again….wrapping herself around my finger and tugging at my heart strings.

My mom use to leave me notes in my lunch box every day. It was seriously one of the highlights of my entire day. It was a special note she wrote just for me. Sometimes my dad would write the note, that was always a rare occasion, but when he did, they were always extra special. I wanted the kids to get that same special feeling I use to get in the middle of the school day. When the day would get away from you and you totally forgot about your parents, then there was that little note that reminded you that you are loved and thought about.

Little Miss told me the other day that she loves being able to read the notes I write her to her friends during lunch. Apparently my notes are a huge hit in first grade! LOL I will take what I can get. I’m actually suppose to have lunch with Little Miss tomorrow when I volunteer in her classroom. I thought maybe I could get out of it this week (horrible, I know, but I have a lot I need to get done tomorrow), but low and behold, Little Miss has reminded me five times since Monday. Looks like I’m dining with first graders tomorrow!

I love the little notes I write the kids. I love that they love the notes I write. I love that before they could read I would write them notes, but instead of words I would draw pictures. Like instead of “I love you” I would draw an eye, then a heart and then a giant U. It’s the little things for me. The little things that make me happy and smile. Seeing how much they look forward to my notes will just fuel me to keep writing them. So until they tell me to stop, they can keep expecting their notes from me. Signed….

XOXO,

Your Jess 

 

W is for Waiting Room

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About a little over a month ago, we found out Little Man needed to have his tonsils taken out. We have been very fortunate that neither one of the kids have ever been really sick before. The only doctor visits they have are their yearly check-ups.

A few years ago, I mentioned something to M (my husband) about Little Man’s snoring. It had got a lot louder and I can hear him at night two rooms away. Little Man also was making these weird sounds when he was just breathing while we sat on the couch. To me, it sounded like he was trying to breathe and was struggling. Little Miss on the other had a huge issue with her brother’s “noises”. I have seen her have a complete melt down because she couldn’t handle it. *insert eye roll* M said he would mention something to their mom before their yearly check-up that was coming up. Well, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health and that was that.

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Over the next couple years I kept noticing it was getting worse. It was starting to effect his ability to run for a long period of time. He loved gym class, but dreaded doing the half mile run. This kid loves to run, so I knew something had to be wrong. Little Man then went to the dentist and the DENTIST mentioned something along the lines of, his tonsils are pretty large this might effect the way his face is forming. Well, another PCP appointment and ENT specialist appointment later, we scheduled a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (tonsils and adenoids).

I played soccer for about 19 years and broke about 14 bones. I’m no stranger to emergency rooms, doctors, specialist and operations. I’ve also had a 24 mm cyst removed from my ovary. (Un)Fortunately, I know the drill on how these kind of minor surgeries go. Long story short, I totally thought I was prepared for this entire scenario. Until I realized, “What if they make me stay in the waiting room because I’m not his mother?!” Cue instant anxiety.

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At 5:30 AM on the day of Little Man’s surgery, M, the munchkins, their mom and I, all walked in together and signed him in. My anxiety began to grow. We waited until they called his name then M and their mom walked back with Little Man. I stayed with Little Miss in the waiting room. Tears began to fall down my face. I wanted to hold his hand, I wanted to kiss his forehead and reassure him everything would be alright. But I had to wait.

After about 30 minutes go by, M came out and asked if I wanted to see him before they took him back. Um — DUH. I’m pretty sure I power walked the whole way back to his room. Little Man looked content in his hospital gown and blanket. I could see that he was already day dreaming about all the popsicles he was going to devour when he woke up. Typical kid move. I walked back out to the waiting room with Little Miss and a sense of calmness came over me. I wasn’t left out. No one forgot about me. I matter.

It was a quick surgery and they were wheeling Little Man out to his mom’s car. I hadn’t seem him yet, but I could hear him. He was wailing in pain. He made eye contact with me and just sobbed. There was nothing I could do to take the pain away. He was scared and in pain, and I couldn’t fix it. I did not cry in front of him though. I held it together. The second I got in our car is a different story, I cried like a baby and thanked God for two healthy children.

Their mom sent me updates the rest of the week, mostly every few hours. I was so thankful for that. She didn’t have to do that, but she did. I talked to him on the phone a few times and I could already tell having the surgery was helping him.

One of the days their mom sent me a text that said Little Man said, “This is the first time in my WHOLE life I’ve been able to breathe just out of my nose, with my mouth closed.” Hearing that brought more tears to my eyes. This poor boy has spent 8 years not being able to breathe, and now he can. This was going to change his perspective on everything! After a couple weeks went by he had his half mile run in gym class and shaved a whole minute off of his time. He was SO proud of himself and so proud that he could BREATHE the entire time!

At the beginning I was so caught up and worried about the waiting room, but in the end all I knew I really cared about was how Little Man was going to be. There will be times where I will have to wait, but I will be there waiting the whole time. I’m not going anywhere and I know the munchkins know that. I will always be there for them, even if I have to wait my turn.

V is for Village

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There was actually quite a lot of “V” words I wanted to write about. Vacation, because we have tons of great memories, with Cracker Barrel stories galore from the many stops on our way to and from destinations, “The Voice” because it is a family ritual every Monday and Tuesday and Volunteering because that is something I do weekly at the munchkin’s school. But I decided on Village.

I’m sure you have heard the African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” That statement rings with truth in blended and step families. Two sets of parents, four sets of grandparents, step siblings, half siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. So many people who make up the village your children are being raised in.

Children are like sponges. They absorb every piece of information around them. The more love and positive influences in a child’s life the better. This isn’t always easy when both sets of parents don’t get along. Regardless if bio mom/dad is on board or not, YOU as a step parent need to find your place in this village. No one will find it for you and each family situation is different. YOU have to decide where you want to stand in helping to raise a child who is now apart of your life. What kind of parent do you want to be?

In your village you will need to have communication. Not everyone likes texting, but I personally like to have texts sent to me when dates change with the munchkins. It’s easier for me to look back at exactly what their mom said in a text so I don’t have to bother her later for information she already gave me. M’s ex wife communicates with me more than him. For us, it just works out better that way. Whenever she needs to change a day, she will most likely contact me first and I will pass it on to M. The both of them need to work on their communication skills with EACH OTHER, but until then, I don’t mind being the “buffer”. I’m a Libra, it’s what we do.

Also in your village, you will need to have respect. Respect for everyone who helps raise this child. Bio mom or dad is an ass jack you say? Well, that ass jack helped bring this awesome kid in your life, so they deserve at least your respect for that. It not only gives your inner soul peace, but it teaches your child to treat their parents with respect. Monkey see, monkey do.

Overall, your village needs to support, respect and communicate with each other. This child you are raising together will benefit from EACH parent in their life. Each person in your village has something unique to offer, a lesson that will help the child grow and navigate through this crazy world.

“It is not what you do for your child, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”

Ann Landers

Motivational Monday!

Happy Monday, bloggers! Welcome to the last week of the A-to-Z Challenge! These last six letters are the tricky ones! Of course the tricky letters are always last! This might be a challenge for some of you, but don’t give up! You have made it this far and I’m pretty excited to see what you have come up with for U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. 

Here are some motivational quotes to push you through the last week of the challenge, and not just the challenge but with the finish line ahead in any achievement you are about to accomplish!