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….

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!!

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

Christmas Conundrums

Parts of this past weekend were rough. At some points I wished that I could bring myself to participate in the idea of Nacho Parenting. I just can’t.

With kids, you have to take a lot of things at face value and sometimes get more information before forming an opinion or jumping the gun. My step childrens’ biological mother misunderstood part of their Christmas activities in our home and got upset about it before asking for clarification. And after clarification is still being pretty immature. It’s sad. It breaks my heart for them.

With being on one income + a budgeted savings, we are being frugal with Christmas this year. My fiance and I got each other a pre-discussed gift each, then purchased a modest, but meaningful, set of gifts for the kids. For friends and family, however, the kids have been making home made gifts. My step daughter has been “helping” me crochet mug cozies and stockings for weeks. All of the kids helped make a home made cocoa mix and filled Mason jars with it, along with pouches of marshmallows and crushed candy canes. After, they got to taste test their hard work. We’ve also made gift tags for them to color to pin to the cozies. It’s not much, but each was hand made with love, and the cozies + jars can be reused. The kids had a great time assembling them and it helps teach them that sometimes work goes into giving, that not everything has to come from a store. It also teaches the importance of spending time on something.

Anywho, even after some clarification, there was conflict. The kids wanted to make one for their mother as well. Even though I don’t particularly like the woman, I’m not going to stop them from making her a gift. He didn’t have to do this…. Her parents are taking the kids out to buy her a gift… She doesn’t have the money to get my fiance a gift…. She didn’t want one. It boils down to the kids get excited because we actually do things with them instead of just planting them in front of a screen. As they talk about those activities, she probably realizes that I spearhead a lot of them. Given that she hates me and wishes to have absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever, not even a cordial hello for the sake of the kids…. Yeah. I can’t fathom not ever wanting a hand made gift from my children, no matter who helped make it.

Pair this Christmas Conundrum with hypocritical arguments about nutrition in addition to a fight about car seat safety, I’m just exhausted from standing up for what’s best for the kids and producing accurate and factual information to clear up misconstrued advice or misinformation. And I don’t even have to communicate with their mother.

Maturity is a thing. Maybe I’m being immature by venting on a public blog, however it’s my means of processing my disbelief and sorting my thoughts, but whatever. I can’t control or change other people, I can only control and change myself and how I react to things. I should do a better job at just letting the nonsense roll off of my back, but that’s SO hard to do when your stepkids sometimes mention things that have been done or said outside of your home that have really hurt their feelings. And while I want them to grow up being well rounded and cognizant that life sometimes isn’t fair and sometimes people can be hurtful, I want to put them in a warm bubble of protection and rip off anyone’s face that tries to hurt them.

I hope we can get through the rest of the Christmas season without any conflicts.

/sigh