Book Tag Fun

On Friday I came across Nikki’s Book Tag that she created. I loved reading her responses and I loved this idea of a book tag.

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Here are the questions:

What are you reading now?

I just finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and now I’m starting on her sequel After You.

What’s the next one on your list?

I got a few books for Mother’s Day, so I’m making my way through them right now. Next on my list is What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

Do you prefer a Real Book or a Reader?

I prefer a real book. I’ve tried the whole reader thing and I’ve tried doing the books online from the library but it’s not the same. I love the smell of books, old or new. I’ve always been a big reader and it reminds me a lot of being a kid at the library during the summer.

Do you stop mid book if you don’t like it?

Yes. I try to get through the first couple chapters and if I can’t get hooked I will put it down and move on to the next one. If I’m reading for pleasure, why force myself to read something that isn’t enticing?

Do you have to finish a chapter before setting the book down?

Depends on what time I am reading. If it’s late at night and I’m reading in bed I have to finish the chapter so I can find my spot when I pick it up in the morning.

What’s the best series you’ve read?

When I was younger I started off reading just series. Every month I would get 3-4 Little Babysitters Club books and I was obsessed.In my teen years I read the entire Gossip Girl series before it became popular. Now I like reading certain authors, not just series.

What’s the first book you remember loving?

The Witches by Roald Dahl. I have probably read that book 50 times. It never gets old. The movie doesn’t do it justice in my eyes.

Ever been in a book club?

I was in one last summer and I really enjoyed it. One of my girlfriends organized it and we each would take turns picking a book and bringing wine when we had our monthly meeting.

Favorite book you read in school?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

Least favorite book you actually stuck with?

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair — it literally made my skin crawl.

What book are you  glad you didn’t give up on?

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult — I love Jodi Picoult books but it usually takes me a couple of chapters to get into it. By the end of this book I was sobbing. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it!

Do you have a favorite genre?

I’m a sucker for chick-lit books. I’m all about the love stories, but they don’t always have to be happy endings.

What is the best book gift you’ve received?

When my husband got me the Me Before You and After You.

Is there a book you wish everyone would read?

Another Piece of my Heart by Jane Green. I love books that give you each characters point of view. This is a story of a blended family who struggles and how they survive each other’s different personalities.

What Author would you like to have a cup of coffee with?

Jane Green for sure! She seems down to earth and I would love to pick her brain about the stories she has written.

If you could visit a place in any book, where would it be?

I would love to travel like Elizabeth did in Eat Pray Love.

What’s your favorite reading spot?

On the beach under an umbrella — if that’s not feasible, then in bed next to my husband reading is my favorite spot.

What popular book are you not a fan of?

I just can’t seem to do Lord of the Rings.

What character from a book would you love to meet?

I’m gonna go with Christian Grey LOL

What is your favorite children’s book?

I Love You Stinky Face is a classic in our house. I loved reading that to the kids when they were little ♥

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That was a lot of fun! What a lot of memories that came up while thinking about my answers. Especially the books I read when I was in school. I read a lot of books for my honors english classes and I think it would be a good idea to go back and re-read them. I think now I would have a different perspective on a lot of them.

I nominate anyone who would like to participate! I know a lot of us all read and I would love to see your answers. If you don’t want to make a post about it, feel free to copy and paste your answers in the comments section!

 

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Who Gets to Keep the Pictures?

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I would say in the past six or so years, social media has really blown up with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Shutterfly. Pictures are much easier to access now. Sending a picture of your child to family members around the world is as easy as a few clicks of a button (and a filter of course). But what about the families who separated or divorced before this big technology boom? What happens to all of the baby pictures? Who gets to keep them?

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This past spring break my mother-in-law asked me about the kid’s baby photos. She was going through some old photos herself and the topic just kind of came up. I froze and said, “…I don’t think we have any pictures of the kids from when they were babies. When Matt got divorced I think she might of kept them all.” I asked Matt about it and he said a similar version of what I said along with he had a few pictures on his phone that he uploaded to the computer. He gave me a little shrug as to say ‘it is what it is’ and the conversation moved on and that was that about pictures.

A few weeks later I was at my dad’s house one evening having dinner. I found a picture of us when I was a little girl. I had taken a picture of it with my phone and showed my dad. He had tears in his eyes and asked me where I got the picture from. I told him I had a tub of them in my basement at home that my mom gave to me awhile back. He told me that my mom had all of the pictures of my brothers and I after the divorce, and he didn’t have but only a few from our younger years. He got pretty choked up about it. I don’t really blame him because I couldn’t imagine what that might feel like when you want to look back at pictures of your children and you can’t. I asked him if he ever asked for any of them and he gave a look as to say, ‘I didn’t want to start a fight.’.

Two very important men in my life were without pictures of their children after their divorces. It broke my heart. Neither one of them wanted to bring up the conversation with their ex because they didn’t want to upset them. A very noble thing to do, but dad’s have feelings and emotions too. They were there and helped raise the baby too. They deserve to have baby pictures, just like the mothers deserve them. It took both of them to bring beautiful children in the world, so I think everyone should be able to look back at the photo memories of those times.

I know if Matt asked Stephanie for some baby pictures she would be more than happy to do so. I honestly in my heart know that and I know Matt knows that too. We are in a place now that I think those kind of conversations wouldn’t stir up angst or hurt. That within itself is a small victory in our co-parenting lives. *insert victory dance*

Matt’s parents were just in town and my mother-in-law handed me two heavy blue envelopes. I opened them up and in four smaller blue envelopes were over 150 pictures of the kids when they were babies. I had tears streaming down and a smile plastered across my face. There, right before my eyes, were pictures of James and Jo as tiny itty bitty babies. I came into their lives when they were 18 months and 2 years old, so we do have a good amount of toddler age pictures, but the baby ones…those were breath taking. I’ve never been able to really look at baby pictures then look at the person older and tell they are the same person. With the kid’s pictures I looked in their eyes, studied their smiles and could see exactly who they were. What an amazing gift my MIL gave us.

 

Pictures are pictures and memories last a lifetime, but for some of us pictures mean more than words, or even memories. Pictures are a snapshot in that moment, a moment frozen in time and saved on a glossy 4×6 card. I went through my old pictures and have a bin set aside for my dad. I know it’s not much, but seeing the joy and tears in Matt’s eyes when he saw the kid’s baby pictures…I knew it was the right thing to do.

Has this issue ever happened with other blended families? I’m curious to see how other step families or divorced parents have handled situations like this one.

 

 

Kindness Challenge: Week 6

When going through life you come across different people who become your role models. Every person in my family has been a role model to me in my life at one time or another. I have learned so much from both sets of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I wouldn’t be who I am today with out each one of them.

As I have grown older I have come across more difficult obstacles. The one that has been the largest hurdle is being a step mom. There are little children who need my guidance, support, and knowledge to help them through life. What I say or do will forever impact them. No pressure, right? I wasn’t sure what to do when they were throwing temper tantrums. I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be good at this. I needed to talk to someone about this, someone who I knew wouldn’t judge me or think I was a failure.

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I began talking more with Matt’s mom, my mother-in-law. She would sit and listen to me tell her about all of my worries and issues. She treated me as if I was her daughter and would even cry with me at times when I just felt too overwhelmed. There are times as a parent where you feel like you just aren’t hacking it. You feel you aren’t doing the very best you can do. My MIL has always been quick to remind me that I am doing a wonderful job and how thankful she is for me to be in her son and grandchildren’s lives. Every time we leave Florida, I leave with tears streaming down my face. I am so grateful for God putting my in-laws in my life. I am so thankful to be surrounded by so much love and kindness when we visit Matt’s family. My heart is literally bursting with excitement when we plan vacations with them. I am truly a lucky woman and I’m proud to call them all my family.

There is something about my MIL that always makes me happy when I am around her. She gives off this positive vibe that I am just drawn to. She’s one of a kind and I am thankful to have her apart of my life. To show me that life will deal us cards that we might not think we can handle, but to not just give up because it isn’t the best hand. Life is too short to be anything but kind. Forgive those who have wronged you, forget the things you cannot change, because there is a life out there waiting to be lived and no one can live your life but YOU.

My Huffington Post Feature

So! Awhile back I wrote a post about Happily Breaking Routine. Tikeetha from A Thomas Point of View, suggested that I submit that piece to The Huffington Post for their Blended Family Friday. I submitted my piece and I had a quick response from the Editor of the series.

I never thought in a million years I would be able to say I was featured in The Huffington Post, but today I can!

Here is the featured article!

Thank you again, Tikeetha for the supportive words to help push me to submit this post. What a true blogger friend spreading the love!

 

Kindness Challenge: Week 5

Week 5 is about focusing on being grateful for the kindness in your life. Remember kindness comes in many forms, take a moment to recognize how kindness shows itself in your life.

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What a fabulous week I had with being grateful for the kindness in my life. My in-laws were in town from Florida this past week and we had the kids for 12 days straight. We were all constantly doing something together each day. The kids got to go swimming and spend the night at the hotel with their grandparents over the weekend. They had a BLAST together. My in-laws got to watch a few of James’s baseball games, and so did Matt’s Aunt. We all were out in the 95 degree summer sun while cheering on our favorite little leaguer. After the game we headed to the local ice cream shop and cooled off with some tasty icy treats.

Just watching how everyone was coming together to support James was a sight to see. It was amazing watching ex spouses, new spouses, in-laws, parents, step siblings, brothers, sisters, all talking, laughing and getting along. It wasn’t weird. It wasn’t awkward (okay, I’ll admit, I was slightly nervous), but once everyone said hello and hugged, all of the nervousness went away. I was so proud. I was proud of our blended family. And all the while, the kids were just watching all of us adults getting along. It wasn’t that there would be fights before, but you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Now, it’s just a big family, getting together to support one another, and it’s actually really fun!

I never thought I would be sitting here talking about all of us getting along. I was very worried for quite some time that the kids will never get to experience the true joys of having a blended family. That your parents being divorced isn’t the end of the world and that everyone really CAN get along. That through all of the pain you will find kindness again. I’m proud of what Stephanie and I have done for our families. I truly believe WE changed the dynamic, and it all began with the kindness we have extended to each other.