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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Difficulties of Blending.

Or why my almost three year old has a fish.

It started out innocently enough. M called while at her mom's house one week and she wanted to buy a fish. And not only did she want a fish but she wanted it to live here.

While initially I was shaking my head no, J and I talked and decided that it would be fine.

Until T decided he too wanted a fish.

It's one thing for just one kid to have something and have two that don't, but for M and T to both have fish I knew it would lead down only one road.

So the next day when T and M walked in the door with their new fish and fish tanks I knew that we would be adding one more fish and fish bowl to our family.

No parent ever wants to see their child left out. And my heart broke a little bit hearing H cry and request to be part of the fish experience with T and M.

He is old enough and aware enough to want to be part of everything. More aware than many times I give him credit for. And while he will learn that life isn't fair and that things don't always work out the way he wants, it's hard to reason and explain all this with a little boy who's not quite 3.

I have talked a lot about the positives and how great we get along and other nice parts of our family dynamics of being a blended family. But like I've said before it is not always all sunshine and roses and it is inevitable that there are things that come up that we are never prepared for.

When you are a first time mom there are a lot of things you think and feel strongly about. I remember being pregnant with H, thinking about all the things he would and wouldn't be doing. I'd see a kid sass his mom and dad and think that, my brilliant, gifted and strong child will never do any such thing.

We learn, over time, that we're wrong. And every kid has their moments (or their year) and that no matter what kind of parent you are, you eventually learn that you must choose your battles wisely, or else you'll spend every moment of every day fighting an uphill battle.

There were many ideas and thoughts I had to give in right away mostly because of our situation. Our situation being that we, are a blended family. While most first time parents are in complete and utter control over what their newborn, infant, toddler and eventual preschool child is exposed to, I did not have that luxury.

T was 7 and M was 5 when H was born. They were walking, talking individuals. With opinions and ideas and an entire history of life before H's arrival.

These two, along with J and myself, were H's earliest influences. And before I get comments or emails or feedback that T and M are good kids let me be clear and let you know that NO, T and M aren't good kids, they are GREAT kids.

But, they are five and seven years older than H. Meaning their life experiences and exposures and maturity and ages have brought them to different things than H. Do you follow?

So keeping H from watching T play videogames was somewhat of a trick for awhile but we got it figured. And keeping H out of M's bedroom with her glittery jewels was another.

We have all taken all this in stride though and I like to think for the most part we're doing a pretty good job balancing parenting two school age kids and two little ones, but it is anything but easy. Especially when I have such set ideas on what I want H (and now E) exposed to and doing and playing and being.

I have been asked more times than I can count about how H does with the transition of having T and M here and then T and M gone. And until recently I would answer without even thinking and remind others that this is the only life he knows and there's never been an issue.

But now, he's started to notice that there are some things he's missing out on.

Weeks when T and M have gotten dropped off in the past after a birthday party, he could care less. They could parade their goody bags around him and he didn't know the better. (Which would occur even if they kids lived in just one home, inevitably they are older, have different friends, will have parties when he doesn't.)

They could bring in new toys, new books, and he could have cared less.

One week though M came in with a balloon. And not just any balloon, but a Chuck E Cheese balloon. Symbolizing not just that she had a balloon and he didn't, but also that she had gone to the kid casino (also known as Chuck E Cheese) and he had not. She had had fun and played games and eaten pizza. And he had not.

This was a big deal.
A really big deal.

And even though this was weeks ago now, let me tell you that the giant mouse balloon is currently still living on my ceiling because there was a fight.

M wanted H to see her balloon but H wanted to keep the balloon. So M put the balloon away but somehow someway the balloon returned upstairs again and it was a tug'a'war until the ribbon broke off of the balloon and the balloon sailed upward.

And now that's where it lives.

I realized then that we were in for some trouble. That this whole thing was going to need to be figured out.

H's life will inherently be different than T and M's. There is no way around it.

For starters, H will only have one home.
Then there's the whole 'nother mother deal.

T and M, being older and having two homes and families will probably always have different opportunities and activities than H. They'll celebrate their birthday with more people. They'll go on more vacations. They'll probably get to do more fun things.

And H (and E) will have different opportunities, events and activities than T and M.

It is inevitably part of the situation.

We're going to figure it out.

But it's not easy. This is yet another piece of this blended family thing that you are never prepared for. Chapter Fifteen isn't titled: How to make life fair for all the kids.

And it will most likely not always be fair. That's the hardest for me to wrap my mind around. But we will do our best to help make things as fair as we can and to also provide understanding, clarity and wisdom to make sense of this crazy thing we call, our family.

In the meantime, we, like most families with children in America, now have a fish named Nemo.

Past Blended Family/Stepmom Posts:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Once Again, The Things They Say.

With spring break coming to a close as T and M get on the school bus tomorrow morning, last week's days off were filled with fun, adventure (some call that exhaustion), two birthdays and of course, funny things the kids had to say.

Sometimes I just can't resist sharing.

From T, on the possibility of hosting H's playgroup friends at our house:

"Can I play outside if they come over? I really don't feel like being a role model. "

On M, always thinking of the newest family contests:

"Let's have a contest and see who can go the longest without eating."

"Then you won't have to buy as many groceries."

From H's little lips after I told him that Lightning McQueen doesn't have accidents in his underwear:

"Lightning McQueen doesn't wear underwear because he doesn't have a butt and he doesn't go potty."

T, being especially kind on my birthday:

"We're going to get a coffee." I said as we loaded into the van.

"Ugh." M sighed.

T jumped right in and said, "It is her birthday!"

H, learning to express his frustration and irritation, in the right context and all as J accidently spilled some water on him.

"Gosh Darn-it! Mama, daddy got me wet!!!"

And my favorite one this past week, in the car, T offers to recite the second half of the Old Testament books in the Bible.

"Why don't you recite all of the Old Testament?" J asked.

"I don't know those ones. My book doesn't have them."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Naptime Tango.

It is supposed to be naptime around here. And the reason I used the word, supposed, is because not everyone is napping.

Of course, Miss E is. Because she's a baby and her brother hasn't influenced her around it yet at her young age. But Mr. H is doing anything but napping.

Like most days.

I am beginning to see the end of his napping days and I am sad. Oh, so sad.

As soon as I mention lunch, the fight begins. H tells me he's not hungry and he's not tired. As lunch symbolizes naptime afterwards so he'd rather go without eating than have to take a nap.

Once I get him to eat lunch, he protests and tells me he needs just "five minutes" to play and then he will take a nap. Promise.

Hint: Don't ever take a promise from your two-almost-three-year-old.

He is not tired. And he doesn't want to be tired. Or so he says.

We go potty. Read a book. Say a prayer and sing a song. And the tango has begun.

Within minutes he is talking. Loudly.
No big deal, right?

Then I hear his little feet hit the floor and I know what's next.

There are no toys in the bedroom as this has detoured naptime in the past. He has a bookshelf full of books and a dresser stock full of clothes though. Both, of course, bolted to the wall. With him we have learned we can't ever be safe enough.

He'll usually grab a book, or five. And if he's really feeling like getting my goat he'll just take a whole shelf out.

Then it's time to stand at the gate and tell me he has to go potty. Again.

And he does. I swear he saves some potty just to use for a little naptime break.

I bring him back to bed. Tuck him in. Explain that it is naptime. Stay in bed. Or else.

He stays in bed alright and I hear "Good Morning, Mama. Are you ready for a wonderful day?" Only twenty or thirty times over until I walk down, look at him laying in his bed with his legs against the wall and inform him in order to wake up you must sleep first.

Apparently somedays I miss when he sleeps because he tries to tell me that he already slept.

On those rare days where he is just worn out enough, this will be enough and he will lay still the two minutes that it takes to fall asleep and I am golden.

But on the days that this is not enough, I soon hear the pitter patter of his feet on the floor. I hear the closet door open. Ha! Nothing in there anymore. I learned (the hard way, I might add) that anything in the closet needs to be up and out of his reach.

Next, is the dresser. Because when you are an almost three year old boy, it is fun to take all your clothes out of your drawers.

Maybe change your outfit. Once, or days like today, twice.

Or at very least sit in the drawer. Don't worry, soon after this picture was taken we got this under control.

Finally, once there is nothing more to destroy. Nothing more to make a mess of. He might, yes, he might, fall asleep.
Most likely not in his bed. But on the floor, or in the closet, or hanging halfway out of bed.

But sleeping nonetheless.

And it usually happens to be right about the time Miss E wakes up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Turning twenty-seven is no monumental feat.
There is no fanfare and it is most definitely not a milestone birthday.

There is not much difference between turning twenty-six or twenty-seven or probably even twenty-eight. Except for what happens within that year.

Today, I turn twenty-seven.

And my life isn't much different between then and now except that it is.

I don't have to tell you everything we did this year or where we went or who we saw. Most likely if you're reading this you know.

I am not accomplished. Except in the eyes of the children living in this house. Because T thinks I'm a "famous" blogger. And M thinks I'm really smart. H, I'm still his hero because I can reach the snack cupboard in those moments he just needs a little pick-me-up.

I still haven't made my millions. Unless you're counting it in love and joy and overwhelming gratefulness.

I like to think that I have gotten over insecurities. That I have learned to be more gentle with myself. And more importantly, with others. I know that I have grown more. I have let more go and loved more unconditionally. Realizing no one needs to be deserving of love, just needy of it.

I've made more friends. Including mom friends, a goal of mine since my first pregnancy. I relish in this fact alone.

I've kept the old. Even when I'm bad at returning phone calls or emails or meeting up for as frequent dinners or coffees as in years past.

I've loved my husband. More and more each day. And it is so cliche' to say that my husband is the best one, but it's true. I pray that there is never a day that I stop thinking this. I couldn't have chosen a better knight. We continue to work on our hopes, our dreams and our life together and I have only good thoughts for our future.

My heart has grown and stretched and sobbed at the growth of our family. Miss E, is our little blessing but I've felt all the growing pains with H. Much to be expected, wouldn't you agree?

Aligned my thinking to remember that this is all temporary. Someday my life will not be as loud or as busy or as exciting. Perhaps I'll be sitting in a hammock in Hawaii looking back at all those moments where I've wanted to tear my hair out. And I'll laugh. I'll probably smile. And then I'll probably cry. Because it goes by so fast.

I've remembered and re-lived the fact that life is not fair. You're never guaranteed your health. And taking your life, your blessings, your health for granted is never acceptable.

I've realized the value, the true true value of contentment.

And wisdom.

So today, the day I turn twenty-seven, all I can do is count my blessings and continue to thank the Lord for the lessons, the blessings and the people He's sent my way the last twenty-seven years.

And hope that there are many more to come.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Today, she is eight.

It's amazing to me how much she has grown, changed and turned into who she is. From a precarious, at times shy little two year old to the bubbly, outgoing ham that she is now. Can you even imagine?
When you wake up at 7am the day of your party, the day seems to drag, believe me, I remember.

But before long, the party time was here and her friends were around her and all I could think was; this is the life.

M, eight really is great. I pray, much like last year, that you keep that sunny smile, those rosy cheeks and your wonderful outlook on life.

Keep being you, because we love exactly who you are.

Keep keeping us on our toes.

Keep loving your brothers and your little sister.

Make each day count, whether that means tie-dying t-shirts outside on a 40 degree day or making cookies with friends.

And always remember how much you are loved, how beautiful you are and just how special you are to so many people.

Happy Birthday Miss M.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Making It To Friday.

It is Friday.

I love Fridays. I look forward to them. They go by so quickly.

In my world (and most mother's I know) Friday means, we have survived another week. The weekend has come and that usually brings on at least a little bit of relaxation. A husband home to help. Take out dinner and a movie at home make the end of the work week a cozy night in. Fun plans with family or friends and regular chores and errands the rest of the weekend days, make it pass all too quickly.

Oh, we have survived.

A week of busyness.

School mornings and homework and quick dinners and evening activities.

And cleaning up all this. The dishes. The laundry. The bedrooms. The playroom.

Child spats of who did what to who.

And who left what where.

Loudness, excruciating loudness at times.

Surviving those days with no naps that slowly pass by.

And the days where the nap is too short or too late or just not enough time.

The sassy talk and the testing of limits. The pushing, oh the pushing of the buttons, they know so well.

And of course, the kisses on the hurts. The hugs so tightly. The new tricks learned that have made life just a tad easier.

We have survived the snack times and lunch times and outside times and play times.

And bedtimes.

When moments passed that we didn't think we'd make it one more hour without losing our cool (and our mind), we did.

You mothers know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you?

Another week behind us, we have survived.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


My children have gotten pretty spoiled the last several days. Which is one of the reasons it's been so hard to get some pictures together. There were so many extra hands around here to hold and entertain that I'm making up for lost time now.

My cousin, Samantha and Josh came in Friday night which totally made Henry's day. (More like month, he LOVES them!) And Saturday many of our other extended family members from out of town (including Aunt Laurie from VA!! and Aunt Janet and family from WI!!) arrived so we were flying here, there, everywhere Saturday and Sunday and even, Monday.

But it was wonderful. I love any chance we get to be with family and I love that our kids are fine hanging out with cousins and aunts and great aunts and uncles on both my mom's side and my dad's side of the family.

All of them ridiculously spoil our kids with their love, affections, time and even surprises and gifts.

But enough about all that, I know that there are just a few people waiting (not so patiently, I might add) for some more glimpses of the weekend. Considering I had close to 200 photos from both my camera and my aunt Laurie's camera, you're still only getting a glimpse.


Boppa and E.
We have a similar picture of him and H too from when H was small.

Guitar hero with Josh.

Proof that you can teach an old dog, new tricks.

Great Aunt Laurie meeting E for the first time.

Josh, T and M.
Did I already tell you that our kids love him?
E's first swim.
She was calm as can be and seemed to enjoy it.
22 and counting out for a late night wedding day-eve dinner.

Getting ready.
M loves getting dressed up for weddings. Samantha helped doll her all up beforehand.

I love this one.
Almost time for the wedding.
Three of our four.
H looks thrilled.
The bride with M, E, cousin Samantha and a just woke up, very crabby H.
His schedule was completely off the entire weekend and he did great.
Yes, he had a few moments, but that's to be expected when you're almost 3.
T, such a proud big brother.
Great Aunt Janet meeting miss E for the first time.
She wanted to bring her home, H was ready to pack her bags but I said no.
My cousin Samantha and I.
We, so, wish she lived closer.
The bride, on the run.

Cutting the cake.
Four generations.
My grandma, Mary. My dad. Myself and H and E.
I hope that I am as healthy and look that great at 77.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Is A Man...

...Who just married off his youngest daughter. His father of the bride days (and duties) are over.

All kidding aside, my youngest sister got married this past weekend. After a year long engagement, date changes, location changes and different plans, they are now hitched.

Congratulations Adrianne and Joe!

There will be more to come, I've got more than a few people waiting and watching for photos so I thought this would help until I have more than two seconds to sit down.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You'd Think He's Never Supervised.

His latest mishap was with a bottle of baby oil.

Oh yes, I kid you not.

He came out of E's bedroom on Tuesday evening with a clear gel like substance dripping from his hair. After a little investigation on our part, we soon discovered it was baby oil.

J scrubbed his hair that night with hopes that we got it soon enough, but nope. Wednesday morning his hair was stick a sticky, oily mess.

After a little research, thanks to Google, I found that Dawn dishsoap is supposed to work wonders in these sorts of situations.

So I scrubbed his head with Dawn, which he loved because it's green as opposed to that gold Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo.

We washed it not once, not twice, but THREE times.

And he still looked like this.

So we headed to Snip-It's to get a haircut. While he was getting close to needing another trim, I did bump up the visit due to the baby oil mishap.

I did feel a tad bit sheepish about bringing my grease monkey son to get a haircut but apparently these gals have seen it all. They didn't even blink, they just cut it all off.

I do realize that this picture isn't the best of his new 'do, but his hair is MUCH shorter than it was going in.
So, Mr. H, now that you've accomplished baby powder, vaseline, markers and baby oil; what's next?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snow Babies.

H's first snow.
Can you even believe this is the same babe?

H's first sled ride by himself!
Oh where did the time go? It seems as though I blinked.

M and E, T and H.
{click to make it larger}
I love pics of all four of them, even though they seem to be few and far between these days. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get all four of them sitting and looking and smiling at the same time?And while it's definitely not E's first snow, considering she's a December girl, and all, I still felt her first time playing in the snow should be documented. It's only fair.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On Being a Mom and Missing Mine.

She looks at my chart and looks at me, then mentions that her daughter went to school with a girl that had the same name.

How unique.

We figure out that I am the Samara she is referring to and that her daughter and I went to school together many years ago.

"I remember doing PTA and school stuff with your mom. How is she?" She asks.

I look away and answer, "She is good."

"I bet she's so excited about the new grandbaby." She says as she takes my blood pressure and pulse at one of my many prenatal visits.

Weeks went by and she happened to be my nurse several of my visits, yet never once could I tell her.

I didn't intend to be dishonest, I just didn't know how to say it.

And I was tired of being that girl. That poor girl who's mother passed away.

I had hoped a few weeks back that perhaps she would be there when I was in so I could tell her, but of course didn't see her then and lost the chance.


"And how are your mother and dad?" The old family acquaintance asks when we run into each other on a random Saturday.

"Oh they are good. Yeah good." I say smiling yet wondering how I should disclose.

"And they're still living in the same place?" They press.

"Umm yes, still over on Johnson."

I look away wondering if they can see how dishonest I am being.

And then the truth comes crashing down, "My mom passed away a year ago in December so it's just my dad now."

And I answer their questions, accept their pleasantries and walk away still feeling their sympathies cast upon me.

I am that girl now and now they feel bad.

Why is it so hard to say it?

Is it the awkward sympathies I try to graciously accept?
The emotional toll re-telling and re-living the details?

How do I go through the motions of nodding in agreement that yes, this is so sad. So tragic. So young and premature.

Summing up seven months of a battle and fifteen months of missing her in a two minute conversation.

There's the awkward expressions.

The other person feeling bad and looking at me with distress. Not sure what to say, so saying something off the wall or goofy all together. You think I'm kidding but let me tell you, some of the things some people say, make. no. sense.

And I suppose that until this time, I too, wouldn't have known what to say (or what not to say) to someone grieving this loss either.

I just finished reading "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan and while there are many pages, many statements, chapters and moments that truly resonate with me. One section that really hit me and the thoughts on losing my mom is this:

"..."Your mom had a good life. She had a lot of happiness. She was so uncomfortable. Now she's at peace."

Well, yeah, okay, good for your mom. But what about you? What about your peace? Your comfort? Who's going to remember what you were for Halloween that year or the name of your fifth grade teacher? Who's going to cry when your baby is born? Who's going to sit in the front row of your play?

Look mom! This is the scene where we get engaged. Oh! You're gonna love this part! Look at me in my white dress...And in this next scene, we get pregnant! ...Isn't this a good play? Don't you love it? Wait! There's more...My husband gets promoted in the third act! Don't go yet! My son starts kindergarten next
year! Wait til you see my daughters first swim meet! Don't leave- it gets so good!"


Wait mom. Don't you know, 356 days after you're gone, Miss E will arrive. And hardly a day will pass that I won't want to call you and say; "Guess what, she slept from 8pm to 7am? And oh wouldn't you believe how cute she is in this? Isn't she perfect, mom?"

And then later on that day I'd call and say; "She won't take a bottle mom, what should I do? Or, "H is pushing all my buttons, what can I do?"

And she would know just the way to tell me what to do or what not to do or to let it go all together and she'd end it by saying. "My grandchildren are just perfect."

Which is why hardly a day will pass without thinking of her.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Beach Babe.

And it's even cuter if you click on it to enlarge.
No, she didn't go swimming. Just trying on her beach babe attire.
If only we all looked this good.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My First Moment of Peace and Quiet Today.

He fought nap today. Like most days.
Finally let him get up after close to 90 minutes of singing and talking and legs kicking the wall.
We went outside, he rode around on his scooter, chatted with a neighbor boy.
We returned home to get our snow stuff and rain boots on so he could splash around.
As I hustled around the house getting a couple things done and ready I realized he was awful quiet.
Expecting to see a disaster or mess of some sort or at least some trouble, I found this:

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shamrock Shake.

With J working late and T and M at their mom's it was just me and the littles tonight.

It had been a long, tiring day.

A long couple of days.

I had been plenty frustrated in more than one moment. Even thinking of how I have not been the mom I want to be.

I felt like all I'd said and done was "No!" "Don't do that..." "Come here..." "One...Two..." "Time out! Now!"

I decided after dinner, baths and pajamas that we'd go have a special treat.
Shamrock Shake time has arrived.

We sat and we drank our shakes and we chatted and watched the cars go by and the people come in as E slept the snack time away.

My shoulders relaxed, my frustrations were lifted and my heart soared just a little bit as he told me; "Today was a great day mama."
This boy, he is no angel. But he is my son.

My little love knows how to change my perspective of the entire last few days with just one sentence.

Today was a great day mama.

It was, indeed.