Teeter Totter summer update 2. [the one that you should read.]

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Okay my posts aren’t always going to be about a teeter totter summer, but this week it is because its week 1 and everything is upside down.

Last night was …dun dun duuuun.. report card night.
9’s is almost glowing, it’s so good. he has 2 areas he can improve on, but the teacher even said “I think he’ll figure it out. He’s a leader in our class. He is an example. He works well with others, etc.” Everything a parent wants to read about their kid. He is GIDDY with his end of year grades and the positive report his teacher gave him.

13 has had this impending doom hanging above his head for the entire last trimester- he’s known it was coming. Long story short, he barely passed his year at school and we’re searching for summer school as a sort of bonus punishment. He’s lost privileges like television, tablets, cell phones, video games- all of it. very strictly for 3 weeks.

We came to this agreement about 6 minutes after we got the letter in the mail. The kids’ mom came over and my Prince kept saying, before she arrived, that “We would all discuss this and figure it out.” and i questioned him- “You keep saying we. does that mean i get to be a part of this?”
“Unless she outright won’t meet and talk about this if you’re here, yes. I want you to be a part of this.”
*huge internal smile*
Immediately after, she arrives. We all gather on the porch and she even says hi to me before i get on the porch. that’s strange.
we have our discussion and she actually listens to my input, which i am mindful to not add unless i think its very important, since this is the first time i’ve been tolerated. this is going well…

she admits a lot of her own faults in why 13 didnt succeed this year. she admits to a lot and basically reaches her hands out asking for help.
Eventually the conversation is wrapped up. I sent the boys in the house to find a book that they  were playing with the other day, it was their mom’s and her sisters from when they were kids- we gave it back to her and she smiled so big! she said she really appreciated it and held it close. and then the  boys go off to swim.
She doesn’t run off the porch.
Instead she thanks me.

SHE THANKED ME.
and she apologized for the way the last two years have been and blamed it on “momma bear.” and i just told her i understood and i thanked her.
and i told her how much i love those boys. and how much i care for them and just want the best for them. and she just said “Stepmomma, i know. they love you. and care for you. and i’m just grateful to have a support system for them. Thank you for all that you do for them and all you have done. i think things are going to be a lot better from here on out.”

WHAT!

and once she left, i walked right out to the pool and told my prince what she said, and he hopped out like “Should we talk somewhere else?” like the boys shouldn’t hear. and i said no. i intentionally came here for them to hear that their mom came to me and apologized. there was a tangible tension between us the last two years and they have openly talked about her disdain for me. I think it’d be good for them to hear that things are better. and he just smiled, like “You’re right.”

And then we took the boys to Taco Bell as a little surprise, but also because it was hot and we didn’t want to cook.

and then we took them to play tennis and 13, the one who hates all physical activity and outdoors, LOVED IT. he had fun. he smiled and laughed and ran around and then i smoked him in a real game of tennis (PS it was his first day ever of tennis, but still i won.) and then i crushed my Prince in another game of tennis that he tried, so hard, to get me to redo, but i scored on him in all 3 redo rounds. and i won again.

we all giggled and we all smiled hugely and came home feeling good.

this was my favorite day in a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week on- week off, my life is a teeter totter

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Consistency, what does that word even mean? Constant. Never changing. Routine. Similar. Predictable. What I crave for every aspect of my life.

Now for someone who is very much a “Type A” personality, change is scary. And I don’t know how I ever thought that life as a step parent would fit into my clean, organized, well- scheduled life. Because it doesn’t. It so does not.

Our “Schedule” is typically 1 night per week and every other weekend. With some bonus days here and there, whenever my Prince invites the kids over or their mom can’t stand them anymore, which is often as of late.

I almost demand that Prince Charming tells me when they come over if it is an “off” day of ours. I cannot physically or mentally handle coming home to three people when I expected to come home to zero or 1 (if my prince is working.) And he hates it. He often thinks that I mean he needs my approval to have the kids over. While that would be real fun, since I do plan things on our nights off and sometimes really do need a day off from everyone, it is not the case.

I am just step mom. My needs come last, my sanity comes way last.
I have begged and pleaded for this summer to not come and alas, here it is. Week 1.
Where we get the boys for an entire week. They’ll go to their mom’s house for 14 sweet hours in the middle of the week, but still. My sanity is scared. My heart that still is aching since my step dad died. It’s terrifying to cry or have added stress. My sunburned skin is not looking forward to when 9 pulls me to go look at something or how the dogs get riled up while the kids are over and might jump & scratch my fresh burns. ouch.
I have told my Prince that if he were to pursue further custody of the children than what he/we have, I would support him. I would take the kids every day of their dang lives if that’s what he wanted and that’s what were best. But I am not prepared for week on, week off. At all.

I am not prepared for the arguments and my husband telling me that I’m fighting just like the thirteen year old.
I am not prepared to get walked on day in and day out every other week.
I am not prepared to be pushed aside for an entire week.
I am not prepared for the week long mental exhaustion and feeling like i am on the outskirts of my own home.
I am not prepared for the endless laundry that will accumulate or the swimsuits and towels that will hang forever on our porch rail.
I am not prepared for them to miss their mom and to hate every second of being with us. I cannot ever prepare for the “I miss mom” ‘s or the 25 minute phone calls to her, when we never get an “i miss you” phone call while they are away from us.

When my routines break, I turn into a monster. I can’t think straight, I can’t keep track of the days, I cannot handle it. I struggle when I come home to a full house instead of getting my 30 minutes of quiet, where I can pick up the pieces of the day before and get things back in order. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, sweep up the floors and tackle whatever large mess was left by my husband or skids. When I come home to a full house, I am already defeated. I cannot peel away from them to do housework or editing photos + videos from my side gig, I cannot find 5 minutes of quiet, I am exhausted.

Does it seem wrong to not want this week on/week off thing? Prince Charming keeps saying “We’re only adding three days/week and she gets them on our regular night!!”

Yes, but that’s three days of not seeing my husband.
Three days of doubt and worry and being shoved to the side.
Three days of arguments and fights over dinner or whether it’s actually 89 degrees out.
Three days of telling 13 that he cannot possibly have another pop and can’t have 4 bowls of ice cream, especially because he was a giant turd all day long.
Three days of not bike riding or walking because the kids are too lazy to go. (mainly 13)
Three days of sanity that I so badly need.

We’ve never done week on, week off.

I am honestly terrified for summer.

Competitive Me.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been competitive.

Whether it was who could clean their room quicker, sister vs sister

Winning soccer and softball games.

Getting my name called first to be a helper in school.

Having the best baked cookies.

I don’t “take it easy” when we play board games with kids. I play to win.

Whatever it is- I will race you at it and I sure as heck plan to win.

But how does that work out when you’re a parent? How does that work out as a step parent? Simple: It doesn’t. Competition doesn’t belong within our four walls. Competition should stop there. It shouldn’t be a race to see who can wake the kids up the quickest or in the best manner. Shouldn’t be a game to see who can fold the most clothes or do the most tasks for the kids. Shouldn’t be a contest who the 12 year old will spill his guts to first. Or who 17 will text message first. But for me, it sort of is.

It’s somehow become a game. If Prince Charming walks through the door, I’m the winner if he greets me first. If he hugs 9 before me, I’ve failed. Something is wrong. I’ve told him it bugs me. That if he says I’m first than he needs to show it too. That he is happy to come home to his wife. and that things are different now that we are married. The kids cannot speak over top of me to get their dad’s attention. things are different.

So what do I do? How do I stop?

How do I change the way that it feels when I am aching for attention from my husband who works almost full time and goes to school full time and spends 25 hours in his office studying… and he reaches for the kids first? How do I respond when he misses the kids but I am breathing a breath of relief that I get 2 hours alone with my husband and don’t have children climbing on me asking for their next meal (because they know I can cook now.) How do I not get upset when he wants to spend one on one time with them but doesn’t have time for me? How has this become a competition? Who am I?

I don’t want to outweigh the kids. I don’t want him to not spend time with them. I don’t want him to ignore them. I think I expect him to be superman and it’s disappointing when he can’t be. When he can’t fill 19 roles like I hope he can. Because I have to fill a lot of gaps right now and I think I always expect him to swoop in and say, “No babe, I got this tonight.” So when I overexert myself and try to make everything work out, it’s his call at the end of the day whether the quality time was spent with the littles or spent with his wife. They both like to do different things. One doesn’t like to play board games with the other because of the age gap. One doesn’t like the outdoors and the other wants to be active and live a little bit outside of our own four walls. One I butt heads with and the other can be my best little friend at times. How do we mix ourselves together and act like a regular family who can handle having time away from other members of the family and get quality time when we can?

 

Do you struggle with this? Competition? How do you fight it? How do you win against it?

New Years Check in-2

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Checking in and keeping you updated on my New Years Progress is a really great way to hold myself accountable. If I’d written my goals down just for myself, I probably would have already lost the paper and forgotten my goals. Yay technology! Here they are:

The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

in February’s Post you saw me do most of these things, the ones marked in yellow were already achieved or are things that are a work in progress. Decluttering, making healthy choices, saving money, pursuing my LLC (now that i’m a DBA), all things that are daily choices.

number 11 is something new, though. With 17 committing 6 nights/month to us, it’s really helped us to spend time together. The younger two are so happy to have a committed night with gbaby- i think this will be so good. now just to get 20 on a regular basis! I keep suggesting to PC that we ask 20 to come to ONE of the every other friday nights that 17 and gbaby are over, one night per month. all four kids and the g baby. it would be so nice.

I’ve successfully cooked 4 new dishes that i have never attempted before. Honey Garlic Baked Chicken , Italian Chicken, bread dip, hand pies, mmm., home made hamburgers with sweet potato fries (that was the new thing) and asparagus, and last night I made pasta salad with chicken and homemade bread. it was so good. I took step by step photos and then ran out of time and forgot to take a final photo. I was going to take a leftover photo but THERE WAS NONE! 17 ate 3 helpings of it and took every last noodle. so. good. i dont even like pasta salad! until now 🙂

I’m reading more- I’ve finished two books this year, which isn’t crazy, but I am in the process of my third book! I’m just happy to be able to dedicate some spare time to something I enjoy and not have to write book reports or take quizzes on it!

Can’t say I’ve read my bible all the way through this year yet, but i’ve been doing The Matthew Challenge and that’s kept my nose in the book.. most days. We’re also pursuing the home bible study, but it won’t be feasible until the summer.

it’s exciting to check in and see more things marked off the list or areas that I’ve made progress on!

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how are your new years’ goals? still attainable? or did you throw ’em away a while ago? happy wednesday, y’all!

Selling the family car

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Today, more specifically, RIGHT NOW, Prince Charming is at our house showing off my car to some complete strangers.

Let me tell you a little story, before we go on, you need to know this: I get attached to things really easily. and it’s really fricking annoying.

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(not our actual car)

I bought my little blazer almost three years ago and it suddenly became a family car to a family I wasn’t even part of yet. This was the summer that Prince Charming invited me to go camping for the first time. We’d been dating for a while, but never had been asked to go to a real family event.. to be a part of their somethings instead of just a hang out. The kids packed into the blazer and we loaded the dogs in there, somewhere. I have pictures of 12 playing with my ice scraper while 9 hangs upside down.. I don’t really know what they were doing.

We took them through the two tracks on the property and got their legs muddy from dangling on the tailgate.

The next fall we took the blazer through our town, searching for our forever home (that we still don’t have).

We took 9 and 12 to get ice cream and 9 spilled his all over himself.

One fine Christmas Eve, I was coming home from a particularly perfect evening with Prince Charming, and a drunk driver scraped along the side of my car. Leaving me with whiplash, a curved spine and a more intensified version of PTSD than what I already faced from an accident 3 years prior.

The next summer, we drove two hours away to this crazy, kid-tastic camp site. It was cold and rainy, but it didn’t stop us. It got so cold, the kiddos ended up camping IN the blazer.

We’ve spent what felt like hours not talking inside of the blazer because we, as a family, have actively fought from our house all the way to church.

We packed it with Christmas gifts and went to see my family and drove through icy, terrible weather to make it there.

We’ve spent a lot of time inside those four doors.

Last week, I gave it it’s last deep clean with us and found their legos under the chairs and socks wadded up and stuffed behind the seats. FOOD in the crevices and homework stuffed in places it shouldn’t be. It was bittersweet.

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This car is falling to pieces and we don’t have the funds or the

time to stay up with it, but it’s hard to see it go.

We did buy a new car last Friday, and every time I scoot into my new leather seats and blast the heat that actually works, I forget pretty quickly about the nostalgic Blazer.

Pray with my, y’all. Pray that right now, while Prince Charming is home alone talking to these random people, we will sell the nostalgic blazer. I hope to come home to one less car (this would put us down to FOUR). It’s like a mini car-lot at our house right now.

One work truck (actually belonging to PC’s company, but it sits in our driveway).
One truck for personal use.
One 93 ford escort that doesn’t run (AKA the blueberry)
and one shiny, new SUV.

Come on down, we’ve got a great car for you today!

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New Years Check-In

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We are one whole month into 2017, Happy February, y’all!

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I thought that today would be as good a day as any to check in and check up on our “New Years Goals” we might have set a month ago. Some people have already chucked them out the window, some people are still going strong. I see you on my Instagram feed with your daily check-ins, I see you. As a hope for accountability, and since you are the only people who know my New Years’ goals, I’m going to check in each month and see how things have progressed! So here goes!

The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

1. We have begun the “Decluttering” process. The kids are even in on it. They realized how much more space they will have in their room if they get rid of the things they don’t use, the clothes that don’t fit, things they don’t want. I try to encourage them that it will save them toys and clothes, because otherwise I will step foot into their room with a trash bag and they may need to pray to God for mercy on their toys. Motivation.
We’ve made at least 2 full trunk-loads of donations to The Salvation Army or to my sister, who loves my hand-me-up clothes. We have boxed more books, packaged up more items and finally stored away every piece of Christmas decor that we have. There is progress here.

4. This is always a struggle when your family is on a different schedule or mind set. I am actively trying to change our white breads to wheat or whole grain. To eat less processed food, to be more intentional about vegetables with every meal. Drinking more water. I drink at least 2 bottles of water at work every day (48 oz) and aim for 3.. but it gets tough, you pee a lot when you drink a lot. Luckily my desk is 5 feet from the Ladies room. Slow but steady.

5. We just emptied our savings and bought a new car, so this goal is more prevalent than ever. Our car has seen better days and it’s 100% necessary that we got a new one. The beauty here is that we had enough money to purchase one with our own cold, hard cash and didn’t take a loan for a pretty decent car. Now, we are actively trying to replenish the funds and begin saving more for our future home.

10. I have my DBA! It wasn’t as scary as I thought it’d be.

12. I’m trying. Monday night I made spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and garlic green beans for Prince Charming and I. Spaghetti is something that I have been able to cook for years, but this week it was especially good. I think it’s because we used wheat noodles. PC doesn’t like “wheat substitutes” but he said he really couldn’t taste the difference this week. I’ll just take it as a win, either way.

13. Jeans one day/week? I think I’ve worn jeans one time this YEAR. I love lula forever.

14. Just finished Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love and am currently working on a book review for Jennie S. Allen’s Restless. Have a stack of books to get through, just don’t know where to start!

How are YOU doing with your goals?

New Years Progress

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I’m not one for setting new years resolutions. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever committed to one for more than an entire week. If I’m going to change habits or do something new, I don’t need or want a new year to be the reason- I want it to be a real, prayed over, well-needed reason. My Prince Charming is the same way, except he conveniently is trying to eat better this week… I see you New Years Resolution, I see you hiding over there. I’m not downing anyone who sets these- I applaud you, really. I just don’t function that way. I don’t like to be told what to do and don’t really like to follow orders of any sort. I like doing things my way and on my own dime.

So instead of a New Years Resolution Post, I thought I would share some goals the Charming family might have for 2017 and beyond and may share if we have made any dents in them yet. So here you go!

The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

Some of these are totally realistic. Totally attainable. Like for Goal 1, this weekend, Prince Charming went to a local store and raided their cardboard stash from behind the building and brought home probably 40 boxes- we filled every. single. one. We sorted through our office and got rid of all but enough to fill our hallway shelves. We boxed up all of our DVD’s except the family ones. We boxed up my cameras that are on display. We pitched not one but TWO old, rickety book shelves (and have one more to go!). We have a donation bag FULL of books, movies, clothes, etc. JUST FROM THIS WEEKEND. We rocked it. Hard. We formed an assembly line with the kids to get everything into storage- as we are trying to tidy, we are preparing to sell our house and decluttering is one of those things that New Home Buyers really appreciate. Lets just hope they don’t peek in the attic.

Doing weekly bible studies with the kiddos will be a challenge. 12 is uninterested and unconcerned with our faith and wants nothing to do with it. It’s a good thing he’s not the head of the household. Becoming a DBA is challenging just trying to follow the paperwork- I have it all in my purse right now, but I have to learn the language and really understand what they are asking me. I’m so excited for this to happen!

Number 13 is my favorite. If you’ve followed me, you know that I’m a leggings connoisseur and am slightly, mildly, wildly obsessed. I sort of -jokingly- said “I’m not wearing jeans in 2017” and I think I honestly could go 3 weeks without having to wear anything but leggings. But I wore them yesterday to prove to my boss that I still have real clothes, so 1 day/week isn’t bad 🙂 I also really want to read more. it’s been a goal of mine to read more once I graduated college and had more freedom in the books I read. I’ve been out of school since August and I’ve read 4 books and am now on my 5th- it feels so good.

I’m curious to learn if you and your family set goals together? Or if you do your own? Do you set goals at all? I love talking about upcoming plans and people bettering themselves. Leave your plans below!