Happiness

It’s half past midnight. I’m restless.

I’m laying in bed next to my husband, who is fast asleep. He’s not quite snoring, but I can hear by how he’s breathing that he’s deep in La La Land.

I hear the bubbling of our humidifier across the room. The scent of the sweet orange extract that I added to the water fills the air. It’s soothing and nice. Aside from my husband and humidifier, there’s silence. Oh wait. I think the dog is snoring too. I find myself quite relaxed.

My mind can’t help but to wander a little bit. The last 1/4 of a year, life has been a roller coaster. I was nearly hospitalized from mold in the walls of my home. I drove 1500 miles to stay with my now husband in Canada until it was sorted out, and ended up staying. I left a job of 10 years as a biproduct. Holidays were welcomed, but crazy, as I started navigating a special part of my step childrens’ lives. My grandfather passed away, which started a family fues. Then there was the wedding planning and the actual wedding. And throughout the whole process, turning around and going a completely different direction with becoming a legal permanent resident of Canada.

It was a lot.

Despite everything that’s gone on, I can’t help but to stop and be in complete awe. For the first time in a very long time (or if ever?) I am genuinely happy. Oddly, that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It’s nice.

Which gets me thinking further. I have lived a hard life in my 30something years of being on this Earth. Happiness has never been on the front burner for me. Most of my life was spent in survival mode. I didn’t truly learn or feel that I was genuinely worthy of being loved or deserving of happiness until the relationship with my husband. It was something that I felt was very passive in my life. Now, I embrace and welcome it. I wake each morning with a smile. I love myself and allow myself to be happy. It sounds so simple, but it was a struggle for so many years.

So my readers, if you’re struggling, hang in there. Look within yourself. Find peace in the little things around you. And try to allow yourself to be happy. And then do it again. And again.

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 ❤️

Holiday Wrap-up

Here’s to almost no sleep for a week.

Here’s to early morning hockey game drives.

Here’s to restlessness and excitement.

Here’s to seeing new friends, exchanging gifts with them, and having play dates with each others’ kids.

Here’s to an amazing meal with the family, and baking cookies for Santa.

Here’s to stockings of PJs and opening a present from 1500 miles away.

Here’s to Jenga and laughter and smiles til bedtime.

Here’s to being puked on at midnight when Santa was supposed to arrive, scrubbing the bathroom, whilst getting your kid into the shower.

Here’s to staying up til 2am washing puke clothes and towels.

Here’s to being Santa at 2am after the puke clothes were clean.

Here’s to wrapping up last minute online notions for friends.

Here’s to being woken up with immense excitement to see that Santa came.

Here’s to spending time together and appreciating one another.

Here’s to unwinding and getting some rest.

Here’s to doing it all again through the new year.

Here’s to a love filled home.

Stepmomming

I came across this post today and felt that it was so good that I had to briefly break my blogging hiatus to share it.

My stepmom has been an amazing part of my life. I don’t know how life would have turned out without her. And I know she had a plethora of struggles in dealing with such a change in her life. And even still, she guides me through these waters and helps me be the best support system I can be for my step children.

Okay listen up. Here’s what the stepmoms want you to know…
We aren’t evil
We aren’t trying to replace our stepchildren’s mom
We don’t resent our stepkids being around
We aren’t trying to overstep, or take over, or cause conflict….
We aren’t home wreckers
We simply fell in love with a man with kids, and are doing the best we can navigating this role…
We just want the best for our family and it’s not an easy task..
(and yes they’re our family too)

We’re expected to be involved but not too involved …
Parent them like they’re our own while not acting like they’re our own (that would be over stepping)….
We’re good enough for the appointments, the homework, the running around but better step aside for those milestone moments, because it’s just not our place
all while living a life dictated by custody schedules, separation agreements, and co-parenting arrangements and the “I don’t have to listen to you because you’re not my mom” mentality of our Society
I’m not complaining. I love being a stepmom… my stepkids happen to be three of the best people I know…

But either way, when you’re a stepmom you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t

The message? Loose the stereotype. Screw the stigma. Forget about what Cinderella told you….

Give the stepmoms the benefit of the doubt, and look at it this way. There more people who can work together to raise these kids up into kind, successful, happy, well-adjusted adults… the better! You can never have too many people love you. IT’S NOT A COMPETITION.

via http://www.instagram.com/jamiescrimgeour

Holiday Hiatus

Please pardon this disruption as I will be taking a blogging hiatus for the holidays. I’ll get you back to your regularly scheduled programming after I’ve spent ample time with family ❤️

Thanks for your understanding and patience!