T is for Traditions

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We have started a lot of family traditions over the past six years. My hubby and I decided early on that it was important to have these special traditions with the munchkins. I loved my family traditions growing up. When I think of my childhood, I miss our family traditions the most.

My mom is hands down the best about holidays. She started so many family traditions  with us growing up. Traditions that my brothers and I looked forward to the most during holidays or birthdays. Every Christmas my mom will make homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch. I have never had a cinnamon roll in my life that can compare to my mothers. Come to think of it, I’ve never asked her for the recipe. I think it’s because deep down I know I could never make them the way she does. It’s her special touch and the way she goes about the whole baking process that makes the cinnamon rolls even better. It is all done with love. Love is key to any successful family tradition.

Holidays are tricky in blended families. In most co-parenting situations, every year the parents alternate holidays and birthdays. At least that is the general rule in our state. I’m not going to lie, at first it was hard on my husband not to see the kids every year for their birthdays or holidays. As time went on, we realized they are just set days that the world decides to celebrate them. It doesn’t make it any less important if we celebrate on a different day.

We have been fortunate enough to have the munchkins four out of the last six Christmases. Every Christmas Eve, my side of the family hosts a huge family party. The kids look forward to it every year. For six hours they are showered with love, attention, and family traditions with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents. We always have a White Elephant, Ornament Exchange, and a mean game of LRC (Left, Right, Center). Family time and traditions around Christmas will always have a special place in my heart.

Both of the munchkins are very particular about HOW they want their birthdays celebrated. They ALWAYS request a themed cake, made by me. I have made a Cars, Star Wars, Elmo, #5 with sprinkles, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake for them over the years. The birthday cake theme to them is more of a process to figure out then what they actually want for their birthday. They will draw out cake plans and designs they would like me to use. Let’s get one thing straight, I am not a professional cake baker and  I have no training or clue to what I am doing. I am straight up winging it, but for some reason they are mesmerized by the end result. It must be because they know it is made out of love.

The munchkins never really asked questions growing up as to why their holidays and birthdays are celebrated separately and sometimes on different days. When they did, we reminded them it’s not about presents and gifts. It’s about love and family, and they will always have both every day of the year, no matter whose house they are at.

What traditions do you and your family have? I would love to hear what the responses are from all of you amazing bloggers from around the world! 

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G is for Grandparents

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The munchkins have some really amazing grandparents. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe how awesome they really are. I love them to pieces. My mother in law reminds me of the best parts of my mother, and the best parts of my step mom, combined into one person. Our relationship just comes naturally to both of us. I feel like I could talk to her about ANYTHING and she would give me her honest opinion and support. She doesn’t judge me, she doesn’t look down at me, she doesn’t make me feel unwelcome. I could go on and on about her, but I’ll save that for another day.
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My husband’s parents live pretty far away from us. We get to see each other about 3 different times a year. They aren’t short visits, so we do get to spend a good quality of time with them. I wish we lived closer. Trust me when I say everyone has to drag me back home every time we visit.

When we all get together, my in laws are always constantly engaged and entertaining the kids. They always have an awesome agenda filled with fun things to do that all of us can enjoy as a family. The munchkins love their grandma and grandpa. They mean the world to them. They love the fun they have when they are with them.
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Whenever we are visiting with them, we never turn on electronics. Not because that is a rule, but because we are enjoying each others company and electronics are the least of our worries. I feel they are what brings peace to our household when they visit, they bring us back together from this crazy thing we call life, and remind us to slow down. They are loving, kind, and accepting.
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Accepting. That word stuck with me when I typed it. My husbands family has accepted me not just into their lives, but into their family. No hesitation. No manipulation. No hatred. They accepted me with open arms and I have NEVER felt like an outsider with them. I know if I ever needed them, they would be there for me, just like they would their sons. I am eternally grateful to have them in my life.

I didn’t have that kind of relationship with either one of my sets of grandparents growing up. My grandparents didn’t play with us. They weren’t silly with us, and they weren’t very affectionate at all. I don’t remember one warm embrace from any of my grandparents growing up. That doesn’t mean they didn’t hug me every once and awhile, but it obviously isn’t something I remember happening. This was all I ever knew growing up. I thought those loving grandparents were something you saw in the movies, but I am actually now seeing them in real life.

Our munchkins are so lucky to have them. WE are so lucky to have them.

Look What I Stumbled Across…

I was going through the computer to find some pictures to add to posts later this week, and I came across some of my wedding photos! I sat here for a good hour going through all 700 of them! It feels like yesterday we got married, but it was almost 3 years ago!

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This wood came from my family farm, from the house my grandmother grew up in. My dad brought the wood to their new home and built a little shed out of it.

 

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I Blog for Me

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Let me start off by saying I love blogging. I was skeptical at first, but I have really seen a change in my mood by expressing myself through writing.

There is so much I want to share with all of you, but I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little worried. I’m worried about my stepkid’s mom finding my blog, and judging me. I’m worried it will cause a problem and everything we have worked so hard to build, will diminish. I don’t talk bad about her and my blog isn’t even geared towards her, but she might find things offensive that I see as harmless.

Now you might be thinking, what are the chances she reads your blog? Like 1 in a million? I thought so too, until I found out she blogs as well. So the chances go from 1 in a million to like 1 in 50. Fabulous right?

I’ve had so much anxiety about this lately. There are events in the kids lives I want to write about but can’t, because what if she puts two and two together. What happens when she reads about other experiences in my life, ones that aren’t so pretty? What if she uses that against me in a fight, or when she’s angry? This is what my daily thought is every time I go to start a post.

First and foremost, I blog for ME. I blog to document my experiences as a stepmom and wife, to look back and reflect on the challenges I was facing at the time and how I overcame them. Then I began blogging because I found a network of other stepmoms. Other amazing, smart, funny, stepmoms who understand what I’m going through. Who give me advice, who share similar experiences, and who make me feel more at ease on how I’m really doing at this whole stepmom gig. Not even just stepmoms, but biological moms too. Moms who don’t judge me because I don’t have children of my own. I feel like I’m starting to build this support system, but how can I truly build one without laying it all out there? See my predicament?

What would you do if you were in this situation? Would you hold back? Tell her you blog too and get it out of the way? Or keep blogging the way I have been, anonymously?

Humble and Kind

There is a new Tim McGraw song out called Humble and Kind. I’m not one to make a post of song lyrics, but this song reminds me of things we teach our munchkins, and I had to share the words. I had tears listening to it.

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“Humble And Kind”

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church ’cause your momma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kind
Know the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick up line so
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kind
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin
Don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Reblogged: LIES WE TELL OURSELVES ABOUT CO-PARENTING – PT TWO

I loved this post today by Abbye!
No one is perfect in life, we all make mistakes, but if we really want to co parent to the best of our abilities, we need to let things go, move on, and not let it define who we are!

300 dpi Mark Hoffer color illustration of child balancing on top of school in-between two sets of parents. Fort Worth Star-Telegram 2007 KEYWORDS: stepparent balance illustration balancing step-parent step parent parenting father mother stepfather stepmother adoption foster divorce kid child children school custody, 14000000, krtnational national, krtsocial social issue, SOI, krt, mctillustration, 05005002, EDU, junior high school, krteducation education, krtschool school, middle school, 14006001, 14006004, children child, divorce, FEA, krtfamily family, krtfeatures features, krtrelationship relationship, krtsocialissue social issue, 2007, krt2007, ft contributor coddington hoffer mct mct2007, ft contributed

AS I HAVE SPENT TIME REFLECTING OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS OR SO OF MY LIFE, TALKING WITH OTHER FRIENDS WHO ARE IN THE SAME CO-PARENTING WORLD AS I AM AND TRYING MY BEST NOT TO IRREPARABLY SCREW UP MYSELF AND MY KIDS, I HAVE REALIZED SOMETHING.

WE ARE REALLY GOOD AT LABELING OURSELVES + EACH OTHER.

Lie #2: I am the divorced woman. I am alone. I am the scorned man. My home is broken. She is a cheater. He is a deadbeat dad. We are failures, liars, damaged goods, unworthy.

We wear those awful titles like badges… shamefully saying “This is who I am, now! This is how it always will be because bad things happened and now look at us!”

Life is going to happen despite our best-laid plans to avoid the uncomfortable bits and pieces that fall out of the pages of our dream journals. There…

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5 Misconceptions About Stepmoms

I just love this blog post by Love and Lattes!
She made so many valid points that I’m sure all step moms have faced one way or another!

Love and Lattes

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Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a situation unless you have walked in those same shoes.  Those are two phrases we hear often.  Being a stepparent is hard.  We are not the biological parent, but are still very much so, still a parent.  Many who have never been in our shoes often have confused ideas of who we are, what we are here for, and why we are here.

I think the number one person in most blended family situations that is the most confused about us is the bio-parent.  They are often defensive and unwelcoming of another parent entering not only their children’s lives, but also theirs.  I have come to realize over the years, that while I know my stepson will be in my life forever, so will his mother.  So, for you, bio-mom.  Here are 5 ideas of me that you have in…

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Stepmom in the Toddler Years Part 2

I touched a little on remembering the toddler years as a step mom, but not really into detail. So here it goes.

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I felt like a crazy person, all the time! Most of the munchkins 2’s and 3’s were spent chasing and learning how to manage 2 toddlers. They were developing their personalities but at the same time I didn’t quite see it like that. I thought they were out to get me, to see how much I could handle, to push every single button I had. Obviously they weren’t, they were toddlers for goodness sakes. But I was new at this. I  didn’t understand know them yet. I mean, they were just beginning to make sense when they talked. The pointing and noises were beginning to become words demands.

Going to the grocery store or any store for that matter wasn’t always fun in the beginning. “Give me this. Give me that. I NEED that. I NEED this.” Pouting, temper tamtrums, and stares from other customers. I finally decided I need to step up as a parent and tell them “No” instead of just ignoring it and having hubby deal with it later. I wasn’t going anywhere, so they needed to see me as a parent figure if I was going to get them to respect me. That was my “ah-ha” moment.

That truly changed everything. Hubby and I were parenting TOGETHER. This wasn’t a one man/woman show, we were in this together. We wanted to show the kids we are all a family. No matter whose house they are at, we are ALL family. We might not have the same rules like their mom does, but that doesn’t make her way wrong or our way wrong. Families love and support each other, but they also RESPECT and LISTEN to each other.

Our little family of 4 started making our own family traditions. We would read 3 books every night. Each kid would pick out a book, then they would pick one out together. (trying to teach them to work together) They picked silly books, long books, and even sing-a-long books.  But after each book, they would give each other a hug and kiss and off to bed they went. No fuss. It was our thing we did every night they were over. This routine was very helpful to everyone. We all had a break together at the end of the night. Each kid nestled into my arms while Hubby read the books. We should really start doing that again, I’m sad we don’t. I feel like we replaced it with shows we all watch together. Maybe I’ll mention that to everyone next week.

It was hard to always hear the constant comparison to their mom from the munchkins. “Mom does it like this too. Mom showed me that too. Mom likes that show too. Mom bought me that too.” Part of me always wanted to say COOL, but I had to stop and think….and I thought wow, what a compliment. They are seeing me as a mother figure. Apparently their mother and I must be on the same parenting page. I didn’t get to that conclusion easily though, it took me a long time. I think it’s because I didn’t want to be LIKE her. And I’m not. We just do some of the same things with the kids. And she’s their mom. And that’s OKAY. Love, support and respect.

I do miss their tiny voices though. I miss Little Miss’s sweet angelic voice, and Little Man’s “Roars!” For 2 years he thought he was a T-Rex. Sometimes I think he still does. Boys will be boys. That’s another thing I didn’t understand….Little Boys.

Little boys are disgusting. They pee wherever they see fit, they collect rocks in their pockets, fart at the dinner table, burp in the middle of prayer, and to them, mud is equivalent to soap. I had a hard time at first adjusting to all that Little Man had to offer. Full of wonder and disaster, all at the same time.  Looking back now, I think I got pretty lucky with Little Man. He has such a big heart, and he understands SO much. He is a GREAT big brother, but he has also become a pro at getting under his sister’s skin. I will never forget the time they were playing downstairs and all of a sudden Little Man appeared at my feet as I was folding towels. “Where is your sister at? Is she hiding?” (they loved to hide and have us find them) Then all of a sudden I hear her screaming. I ran down the stairs and there she lied, on the ground, legs tied up with a jump rope. “What were you thinking?!” I asked Little Man. “She too bossy!“…. But that’s all normal, right? Boys will be boys.

Little Miss is in a category all on her own. She is a spit fire. Full of sass and spunk, she always has been. She does not let anyone tell her she can’t do something. She has been like that since she was 18 months old. I watched her crawl through entire playscapes that were meant for kids who could at least walk before she ever knew how to. Fearless. It use to scare the crap out of me. You know the helicopter moms you hear about? That was me the first year with her because she wasn’t taking “you’re too little” as an answer. I didn’t want her to get hurt, but I also didn’t want their mom to kill me if they got hurt on my clock. I use to be terrified that some thing would happen, and I would be the one to blame because the kids were with us. But guess what I learned, SHIT happens. Kids will fall down and get bruises. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent, it just means you are letting them be kids. I had to have trust in our parenting style and believe in the end, it will make them stronger.

When I first moved in they would stand in their bed/crib and yell for their daddy every morning they would wake up. Same went for nap time. After time went on, my name was starting to be called out. They were asking for me! I was becoming a comfort to them, a constant. That feeling was amazing. I would grab them out of their beds and we would cuddle and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until Hubby woke up. It was our special time together in the morning. I wish real life had mouse-ka-tools ready and available like that. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Once Little Man was in Kindergarten, it was just Little Miss and I at home together. She would help me with EVERYTHING. I had a little helper with laundry, cleaning, and other odds and ends. We painted nails, played dress up, and watched girly cartoons since Little Man wouldn’t watch them with her. So not so bad, unless you missed her nap time. Talk about World War III in the house. If she wasn’t happy, no one else was aloud to be happy. Let’s just say we didn’t miss nap time at our house. You pick your battles, and she clearly won that one.

The year they both were in school full time, I cried. I cried and cried. My special times with them were gone. Our extra hours of morning cuddles were gone. Our babies, weren’t babies anymore. They were students. Now I have the whole house to myself during the day, but I still miss those little moments. The toddler giggles, dances, and laughter. I’m proud of how grown up they’ve become, but I will never forget those innocent years. As horrifying as it was, I sure did learn a lot about Family and how we will always be one. No matter what. We will always love, support, respect, and listen to each other. That’s just what our family does.