The Step Parent

My library card gives me the ability to check out e-books in lieu of going to the library. Which is convenient since I live 1500 miles from my home branch. So every week I check out a new book and give it a whirl.

I saw a book about how to be a better stepmom. Sold! Sign me up! I follow several blogs and social media accounts that are supportive of step-parents, so I figured a book would be pretty awesome. I’m not a mom by biology, I’m a mom by choice. I didn’t get 9 months to start a relationship with my kids before they got here. I didn’t have the ability to figure things out before they came into this world. I fell in love with a man that already had children and just have to figure it all out as I go. Thankfully I do an amazing job, (mostly because I lived with what NOT to do growing up,) and reading how to blend families and how to navigate this role is always helpful.

Except that book.

I mean sure, maybe it’s helpful to some folks, but holy negativity, Batman! I was reading about problems where men weren’t considering the feelings of their current wives. Issues where expectations were never clear, and the unit didn’t actually work together. Disagreements about parenting. Not standing up for their beliefs, not setting or respecting boundaries. A whole slew of problems that I couldn’t wrap my head around. If you’re not on the same page, why get married? I can understand friction if say 5 years in someone decides against having kids, but you went into the marriage understanding you were eventually going to have children together. But this book sorta focused on fairly new marriages and problems incurred as a step parent in said newer marriage.

I do think it’s unfair to tell a step parent that they shouldn’t complain because they knew what they were signing up for. Yes, I fell in love with a man with kids. Yes, I knew I’d have to be a step mom. Yes, I knew there would be times that we would struggle. I knew my life would have constraints of custody orders and parenting time schedules. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to complain when something is happening that isn’t in the best interest of the kids, something is unexpected, or something unfair. Life isn’t always lemonade and sunshine ya know?

Anywho, before you marry someone, before you make the choice to be a step parent, before you make life long commitments, do your homework. Have discussions about serious topics and hypothetical situations. Maybe even consider going to couples counseling beforehand. Find means to communicate together, understand your struggles and strengths. Learn how to be each other’s rock. Your relationship with your spouse that has children isn’t just about you.

I think I’ll skip this book and move forward to my selection about bullet journaling….

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Today, a previous coworker of mine announced a heartbreaking tragedy. Her dog of 9 years passed away. They had been working with a vet to treat her for back pain, but turned out that she had cancer. Tears streamed down my face and into my coffee as I wept over the loss of a dog I hadn’t even met before.

My own dog jumped into my lap and licked my nose.

Alas, I should probably write an ode to Hannah, but I didn’t know her. I did, however, know her love. Because the love of a dog is like no other.

We don’t deserve dogs.

There are no words for how much I love my dog, Jack. He’s somewhere around 5 years old right now, and with any luck, I’ll won’t have to say goodbye for a decade. You see, this dog has literally saved my life.

“Do you want a dog?” I really didn’t at the time. I was close to graduating from college, life was a bit wishy-washy, and I felt like garbage all the time. But, out of pity, I asked if I could do a trial run to see if he would have been a good fit for my lifestyle. The moment Jack entered my arms, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go.

He smelled. Bad. His bath water was black by the time I was done washing him. He was barely 6 pounds and at over a year old, he still had baby teeth that had to be surgically removed. To say he was skittish was an understatement.

Jack and I took some puppy training classes together in order to get him to trust me. I got him into a vet to fix his teeth, remove a deformed dewclaw, and put some meat on his bones. Within a few weeks, I became this dog’s person.

Little did I know that his nose knows. I had a diabetic episode in the middle of the night. Jack did everything he could to alert me, despite being terrified of EVERYTHING. And thus a service dog was born. We expanded our obedience training into scent training as well. I applied what I knew from cadaver dog training and EMS into Jack. He became my new glucometer!

As years passed, Jack became my best friend and became my travel companion too. My husband was the first person he felt comfortable around aside from me, which in a way, helped seal our fates. Jack even moved to Canada with me. ❤️ And he extended his love to my husband’s kids too, becoming the greatest early morning babysitter in the world, spinning in circle chasing his tail endlessly, to make our youngest giggle.

So Hannah, rear easy dear girl. Though I didn’t know you, I’m glad to know that you’re no longer suffering. I’ll miss seeing your sweet face on social media. Thanks for reminder to show my dog a little extra love.

Mr. & Mrs.

We made it! I finally got to marry my best friend last week. (Hence the small hiatus.)

Ever want an adventure? Let your young step kids help plan your wedding. No, that’s not sarcasm. We let the kids have a huge say.

Why on Earth would I be do that? Well, back in October, my oldest stepson says to me, “Did you know you’ll be my stepmom soon?” It was something that he (and his younger sister) have put thought into, along with thoughts about their relationship with me. We wanted them to feel included and to let them feel like they have a voice. Like they had some control over something in their blended lives. This was a perfect opportunity to let them know that they are heard.

We knew we wanted a small private ceremony. I found a suitable wedding commissioner, private venue, and photographer. From there, we let the kids toss around their ideas. In lieu of a big reception, we wanted to take our guests out for supper. The kids’ first choice was Red Lobster. The thought of shrimp and cheddar biscuits was enticing to them. Dad and I wanted to keep things within a lower budget than Red Lobster, so we opted to give them a choice from a few different restaurants that would be more budget friendly for a party, but also had gluten free options for our family with sensitivities and Celiac’s. After great debate, the kids excitedly chose for everyone to get pizza after! The restaurant was kind enough to allow us to bring in our own cake and cupcakes as well.
The attire was easy. My husband opted for green as our accent color; the kids happily obliged. We showed them what Dad and I would be wearing, and let them take their pick of clothing options. The oldest step son wanted to look like Dad, choosing black pants, a white button up shirt, black sweater vest, and green bowtie. It went well with Dad’s black suit, white shirt, and green tie + pocket square. My step daughter didn’t have too much choice in dress, but did have a say in her hair and tights. When she saw my dress then saw hers, she was the most excited I’ve ever seen her. “WE’RE THE SAME!!!” she’d exclaim over and over. For the youngest, we chose a green shirt and matching black pants.

On the day of, you could see their joy. Small details, such as the ring box they helped paint, made them feel appreciated and acknowledged. During the ceremony, the commissioner included them as well, allowing me to make vows to them, not just to my husband.

I’m so thankful to have been accepted by them and can’t wait to be a part of their future ❤️

Tis the Season!

And I don’t mean the jolly kind.

Once upon a time, I used to pick on a friend of mine a little bit, encouraging her to try to lighten up. She’s a germophobe. With a household of four kids, I could understand some of her concerns. I used to think she was a little over the top, though. Now? Pass the can of Lysol, I’m on board!

My three stepkids have been sick. They’ve had snotty noses, been sneezing, and have crud in their chests. In addition to this, they’re been getting over a stomach virus. Before they came back to our house, we thought the stomach virus was over at least. Noooooope. I dodged the snots, but that stomach bug… It hit me, and it hit me hard. And of course, as soon as I start feeling a little less like death warmed over, the youngest starts shrieking from his bed. It’s round 2 for him. Odd though, he screamed through a bath, had a cup of Pedialyte, and a little bit of snuggles and he was smiling and giggling again. I wish I could have been the same.

And my poor husband to be. We are a week away from our wedding. He’s certainly proven the whole”in sickness and in health” thing, that’s for sure. He tackled household management like a champ, AND took care of me in the process without a single complaint. Bless his heart. I’d be lost without him.

Stay safe out there guys! Lots of vitamin c and hand washing!!

Knitting In The New Year

Over the summer when my fiance and I visited my home town, I inherited a boat load of knitting needles and crochet hooks. My granny has always been a crafter; unfortunately I was the only one that took after her. After sorting through the ones that were worn down, rusted, or had just seen better days, I found myself still with a rather substantial set of needles that would bring any knitter a slight pang of jealousy. It’s sad, really, because I only know maybe 2 stitches. This year that will change.

It’s starting with an afghan that’s more than rows of knit stitches in super bulky weight yarn. (Like the other two blankets I’ve knitted.) It can get a little chilly in our home at night. My oldest stepson asked for an extra blanket or something to go under his duvet. Of course, kid. Of course.

Yarn is expensive. Even here. Walmart had some giant skeins of yarn on sale, though, so I picked some up. Blue for him, purple for my step daughter. (The younger stepson already has a blanket that I made a while back.)

I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces as their blankets come to life right before their eyes. They get the biggest kick out of seeing things being put together, seeing work being put into them. And I can’t wait to learn how to do more than just a few stitches.

Here’s to cliche New Year’s beginnings and whatnot!!