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!

The Christmas Update

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Many of us celebrated Christmas this past weekend, and if we didn’t, we at least knew that the holiday happened. It’s one of my favorite holidays- everyone is always in a great mood, the kids are always so incredibly excited, we get to see our whole family and I get some quality time with my Prince Charming.

I love the feel of church on Sunday, even if I so desperately want to sleep in. The joy in the church body, even if it’s only 12 people. I love the excitement from the pastor and his urgency to share the message with us. I love the Christmas clothes and how dressy each family shows (while hubby and I show up in Jeans and a t-shirt…). I just love it. There is no better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than in His church. I hope you were able to experience His love in a new way this Christmas season.

On Friday, my work had their Christmas party- complete with a catered meal, a slideshow of completed 2016 projects, and a new-website viewing (tooting my horn here- I’m the work photographer, website builder, and I personally designed the gifts that were handed out). The owner gave us each gifts and shared his appreciation for the dedication each person has committed over the past year. It was really nice.

I helped to clean up the party and then I snuck out an hour or so early, in preparation for the chaos that would probably be prevalent at my house. Prince Charming took the day off to bake and clean, but I didn’t fully trust him to handle it all. I came home and the floors were sparkling, there were 6 bags of trash taken out, the chairs were all tucked in and the tree was glistening. It was beautiful. The kids helped out a lot.

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We worked our way into the evening and the grandparents came over, all four kids and a couple girlfriends and boyfriends were there. We had 10 people in our house built for 3: we were crowded but we were full of laughs and lots of love. Sometimes our events can be hectic- the younger kids don’t see the older kids too often and they get overly excited to spend time with their big brother & sister. Sometimes 20 is too cool to hang out with us, so we are discouraged. Sometimes 17 is too clingy with her boyfriend and we want to kick him to the curb. Grandma & Grandpa can’t handle the kiddos running around combined with screaming and crying (who can?). But we all did fine. We all had so much fun. The boys didn’t want to leave when their mom wanted them to come home. They wanted to stay and play. My heart was full. I knew it was because of the fun games and the new bedroom comforters they received, but I didn’t care- we were more fun than mom’s house could ever be.

The rest of the weekend consisted of shuffling the boys around. They had 3 Christmas parties on Saturday and we had to pry them away from their cousins from out of state. As quickly as my heart was filled, it was just as easily deflated. They cried. They were mad that they had to come to my family’s party. They had to leave their cousins (even though they had 5 more visits SCHEDULED with them and we only see my family together 3 times in a year.) They were mad. Prince Charming had to make a point to thank them for coming with us even if they didn’t want to and I had to silently wipe away the tears that were forming while we headed to my brother’s. It’s hard. It hurts.

The day to day life is difficult because our emotions are pulled so far one way and then shoved so far in the other direction. It is a constant roller coaster, and let me tell you- I am terrified of heights. It reminds me of this one time when I was a kid and my sister & I were at Cedar Point. We were on the Junior Gemini, a kid’s ride. But again, terrified of heights. I cried, I held the bar in front of me with dear life. I screamed. The attendant comes over the PA system “Who wants to ride again?!” and I scream “NOT MEEEEEE! LET ME OUT!” and my sister covered my mouth and forced me to go again.

but sometimes that’s how it feels. I don’t want to go again. I can’t handle the ups and downs. I can’t do it anymore.

This weekend was no different- it just had heightened emotions, since it’s Christmas.

Sunday & Monday, my husband and I played the lazy card. hard. We woke up late and since it was Christmas day, there was no Sunday School or Coffee shops or children’s church to tend to. We just got to show up like normal church folk at 11am. It was so nice. And then we visited my in-laws (which consisted of cooking a frozen pizza and watching whatever movie was on tv.. and napping with 6 day old puppies.) and then we came home to watch hours more of movies. And we did the same thing on Monday. We woke up late and snuggled for a while and in the first 10 minutes we were out of our room, Seinfeld was on and we were laughing in our PJ’s with hot coffee and cold Coca-Cola (I’ll never be a coffee drinker). It was the best day. It was the best weekend. I’m so so grateful for these few days off.

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and even better- We have next Monday off, too! 😀

and PS, Christmas Wish list  worked! I received a package of new LuLaRoe from a party I hosted with my favorite consultant, and I had 5 new pieces to get excited for. I also ordered some leggings from Poshmark that showed up this weekend (my unicorn!) and was overjoyed to receive them before Christmas! anyway, real gifts: My sister gave me a pair of leggings and an Irma top- which I’m obsessed with. My husband got me a “camera lover” Classic T and a new polka dot Irma. Check Lula off of my list

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I also got the exact light set I shared with you guys PLUS some shipping envelopes- my hubby is all about me fulfilling my photography business dreams and it’s so encouraging when he helps to support my company.

He picked out his own Amber earrings for me (but they look oddly like the ones in the photo..) and I LOVE them. They match the necklace he brought me home from Poland a few years ago, when we had just started dating. It’s perfect.

I finally got “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker and I’m so excited to dig in… once I finish the other 4 books I have to read first!

and I got a billion other things that I was blown away by. A new feather pillow for my broken neck, a new thermos and soft blanket from 20, desk accessories from 8 and 12, The Magnolia Story  and probably too many other things. This weekend was so so fun! They super spoiled me.

How did your family celebrate? Do you do the legal thing (moms get kids on even years, dads get kids on odd..etc)? Do you have your own agreement?

Making the Switch

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There are times, like now, where the anxiety is high and the tensions are high- mainly because we are stressed about the upcoming holidays (okay, mainly it’s me that is stressed, but Prince Charming has to deal with it so..), and I cannot handle the general public. And it seeps into my daily life.

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Yesterday, I had one of those miserable Christmas-shopping experiences. I waited in line for 12 minutes before it was my turn to pay for my $1.98 purchase (2 birthday cards, I couldn’t NOT get them or I’d have to go wait in line somewhere else). The cashier was very friendly, but that was the problem. She talked and talked and talked and I wanted to gouge her eyes out for not being more productive in her cashiering. (I’ve was a cashier for about 10 years, I can critique her skills.) She took so long, I was late coming back from my lunch. It irritated me- I am not a late person. My work was slow yesterday, so all I could do was stew about it and let my anxiety continue to brew.

By the time I have gathered the kiddos from their grandparents house and brought them home, I’ve been driving too long and my head hurts, it’s time for stepmomma to take a nap but we all know that can’t really happen. 8 and 12 are pure chaos. It’s the first day of Winter Break, after all. They fight and scream and 8 cries at least two times. Prince Charming isn’t home when he says he’ll be, there’s too many dishes and too much laundry and two very stinky dogs. Too much for a Wednesday. 8 gets sent to bed, 12 goes berzerk because this means that’ he’s locked out of his room! I still can’t take it and Prince Charming is still not home.

What do I do?!

It’s so hard for me to transition. To have weekends on with the kids and weekends off from them. My mind can’t handle it. Plus the holiday craziness e v e r y w h e r e  we go. My mind goes at a billion miles an hour. I can’t come home and unwind, like a normal person. I clean, I wash the dogs, I do laundry, pick up the garbage all of the littles leave behind, and then I finally sit down to finish a photo session I’ve been working on all month- it is unending.

Two hours later, 8 wakes up and comes to sit next to me on the couch. I know it’s because my blanket is the softest one in the house, but I pretend its because he wants to be by me. He actually scoots closer. He’s almost sitting on my lap. But I’m editing, so I can’t handle distractions and I look at him and say You’re too close. I can’t do this right now. and he moves. and I forget that that moment is what I have been striving for for TWO years. and I push him away over someone’s wedding photos (that will be finished 3 weeks ahead of schedule). Is it worth it? Is it worth making my business name a bigger name than my stepmomma name? Is it worth ignoring the chance to snuggle my boy because I am full of irritation and ready to snap?

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No.

But I don’t know how to switch from “Daily Life” to “Home Life” and I don’t know how to switch from “Newlywed couple” to “Parents.”