[still here.bonus mama updates]

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hi friends

Sorry i have been so quiet.

I am someone who cannot handle a pause. I like to have my hands dripping in sweat because I’m involved in so many things, so here, in nutshell, is what life has looked like as of late:

-Slingin’ Makeup (Younique babies- if you need a refill lemmmme know!)
-Keeping up with the chickens
-Dog Mommin’
-Photographing everything and everything (9 sessions in June, 4 in July)
-Working full time
-Church/soul searching
-House Cleaning aka finally making sense to the boxes of our stuff that have wound up on shelves
-Beating the heat (or trying to)
-Loads and loads of laughs.

So last year, at the beginning of summer- you might remember me having a little bit of a meltdown about going week on/week off with the kids. I was terrified. It was daunting. Well, I had similar feelings this summer. In the midst of trying to acclimate myself to new scenery, churches, towns, I wasn’t ready to take on kids for that long. Selfish? Maybe. Self- Aware? Definitely.

I know that when I get overloaded, i either crack or i burst. When it’s with kids, it’s usually bursting. As in I burst my emotions all over everything, I yell, i cry, I fight, i everything -not- productive. So i was terrified to have this huge switch. This back and forth-ness that we experience. The drama, the headaches. i was terrified. I couldn’t do it again.

This summer has been different.

I’ve been telling my Prince that I have noticed some huge changes. Some weird little things that honestly, make my day.

Prince and i have stopped carpooling, due to overtime schedules and me not wanting to wake up at 4:30AM for my 7:30AM start time. No shame in my sleep game. So we get home at different times. Almost every day that I get home, 14 will stop what he’s doing and come to greet me. A few times, he’s been mowing the lawn and will wave at me from the moment I get in the driveway until I stop and can actually call out a “hi!” to him. Sometimes he even gets off the mower and comes to say hey.

WHAT?

10 isn’t as excited, but certainly does come to say hi and acknowledge that I’m home. They give me a recap of what chores they did and wait for their “good job!”s. or critiques, whatever there is.

Even more of a wow, 14 has been himself lately. He finally broke up with his crummy girlfriend that we are convinced was the reason he failed 7th grade and barely scraped by in 8th, even though she is a successful student. He laughs again and seems to have fun with his brother- which is so neat.

But most recently, the most amazing thing happened.
14 and i were standing in the toy aisle at Wal mart, they were shopping with their chore money, and he just looked at me and said “Stepmomma, I think we should keep doing the week on/week off thing.”

See, we mentioned it ONCE about 3 weeks ago. Just to get a feel for how they like this setup. there was no push back. They seemed fine with it. 14 suggested we do a ‘trial’ once school starts… little does he realize that the summer is the trial.

We haven’t talked to their mom about it. There is always some fear in approaching changing schedules. It has never gone our way.

Last year, my Prince wanted to take a course that was on Wednesday nights. I told him I’d handle the kids but it wouldn’t really be fair because they’d only get to see him to say goodnight, so we inquired with their mom if we could trade nights for just one semester. Her response? Find another class. and that was it.
No matter that this class was only available in this particular time slot and is required for graduation. That doesn’t matter. What mattered is that she has a beer league she plays for and didn’t want to change that up for us for 8 weeks.

Here’s the thing:

14 has failed school the last 2 years
10 isn’t required to read at all this summer, even though their mom enrolled him in a summer reading program.
They don’t have chores at her house
They don’t have responsibilities at her house
they cook for themselves most of the time and have no limit on sugars/sweets.
They don’t have a bed time
And they have a caring, supportive, involved dad who deserves more.

So as scary as it is to say, I think if she disagrees, there might be court to come.

Pretty soon, 14 will be driving and I’m certain we will see less of him. We want to take advantage of the time we have left before girls and cars become the most important things in his life.

When we were at the store on Sunday, we were teasing in the aisles, and he said “You’re a great step mom you know that?” sarcastically.
And I said, “Yeah. I know. Or you wouldn’t have made a replica of me out of legos for Mother’s day.”
His response was finger guns.
Which means “you’re right.”
At lunch on Sunday, which the kids prepared for US, 14 led us in prayer and thanked God for helping us to find a church, find a home, and for being where we are.

He has been warming my heart so much, lately. I surely hope this lasts.

For 14,

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love,

“bonus mom”
As he affectionately calls me.

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[ICB Prayer Bible Review]

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I was given another awesome opportunity to review a great, new Bible Resource from FrontGate Media. This time, The Prayer Bible for Children!

I got really excited to review this because honestly, my family needs more resources that remind us to study together and I am so far disconnected from what kids need that I’m willing to take any help I can get.

When I opened the package, I was pleased to see this beautiful dark blue Bible with gold decor. I will immediately tell you that I wish I did more research before I agreed to this review BECAUSE I am a step parent to a pre-teen and a teenager. This Bible is intended for younger aged children and I allowed myself to be disappointed by that.

If you’re a parent of young children- this Bible is fantastic! Don’t let my mistake be yours.

The Prayer Bible for Children helps children develop a heart for prayer and learn the Bible through the popular ICB translation, the simple translation children can read and understand.  Special pages throughout the text highlight the most famous and beloved prayers featured in the Bible. From Abraham’s prayers to the Lord to Jesus praying before his crucifixion to the way Paul prayed for the churches he planted, this Bible will teach young readers about a God who loves to hear from His children and loves answering prayers. This Bible includes a pocket with a prayer journal for children to record their own prayers.

Some Special Features:

  • 160 Pages of Prayer Articles throughout the text
  • 64 Four-color pages featuring poem prayers, scripture prayers, and engaging Kids’ Q&A’s
    • The full page prayer articles will help children learn how to pray, to not fear prayer, and to see within the Word how and when God’s people prayed
    • The colorful decorative pages will feature kid-friendly scripture prayers, topical poem prayers and fun questions and answers kids have about prayer
  • The Bible comes with a prayer journal as an add-on, a handy pocket on the back flap to carry the prayer journal.

Special features include 160 pages of prayer articles throughout the text and 64 four-color pages featuring poem prayers, Scripture prayers and engaging Kids’ Q&A’s. The full page prayer articles will help children learn how to pray, to not fear prayer, and to see within the Word how and when God’s people prayed. The colorful decorative pages will feature kid-friendly scripture prayers, topical poem prayers and fun questions and answers kids have about prayer. As a value-add, the Bible comes with a prayer journal and a handy pocket on the back flap to carry the prayer journal.

While I can’t discredit this company any bit in their design, the translation, the composition of this Bible- there really wasn’t much that drew me to it. My pre-teen picked it up once, thumbed through it, set it down. He never went back. I didn’t expect him to jump for joy over it, but he was overall uninterested. And my prayer journal holder ripped off the day I unpacked it. It is delicate and not very durable.

The Prayer Bible for Children is written in a manner that is simple for kids to pick up and read on their own. It’s written in a sense that allows them to gather the concept and not have to question the large, over-translated words that some of our adult Bibles feature.

If you are interested in a Prayer Bible for Children of your own, here’s the purchase links:
Blue                                                     Pink

 

 

There is a giveaway happening here

and FREEBIES & discounts here

 

Enjoy!

 

Let me know if you use this Bible! ❤

 

 

 

 

[changes are coming]

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Monday has come and gone so quickly. I worked my way through lunch and left an hour and a half early to go to the closing on house #1. We met the buyers- they’re SO excited. It’s such a weird feeling because we are so ready to be done with that house. The mildew smell in the bedrooms, even after we ran a dehumidifier and my Prince crawled under the house to put visqueen around the edges of the house, to keep moisture out.
The lack of closets.
The dank smell it gets after having windows shut for one day.
Not having a kitchen table
The bathroom fan that doesn’t work well enough for our hot showers.
The pergo floors that slide from one side to another
Using the back door as the front door (I HATE THAT).

We’re so done. We’ve invested so much time and energy into getting that house ready to sell and when we sat in the realtor’s office waiting to sign, it was just an odd feeling to know that we have moved on from it and there are so many parts that I just hate about the house.. that this couple is incredibly excited about. They probably love that it is tiny quaint. I never have and I never will.

And after about forty minutes, we left with a check in our hands and giant smiles. It’s over. One house down.
We only own one house right now! For a few days.

We close on our new house, our farm, on Friday. We only have two nights to pack the rest of our house up and get it in the sun room, ready to go. I think we can do it. My husband is almost done with the “construction” phase of the house and if he helps me tonight, we could knock it out so quickly. Except we have kids. And they are needy. They will not help us pack, they will not help clean, they will not help with the dogs, and God forbid they have to cook something. (13 could make spaghetti or something simple). And I’m supposed to bake cookies with 9. Because he left on Sunday and was gone for 6 hours unexpectedly. Fun.

And my Prince dropped a ball on me a couple weeks ago saying we’ll get them more. And when he said it I started crying immediately.
I think i’m still overwhelmed from summer,when we had them MORE than half of the time. I am not ready for more nights with these two yet.
Yes, I love them.
No, I won’t tell my husband no.
Yes, I’m scared.
No, I won’t tell my husband no.
Yes, I’m anxious.
No, I won’t tell my husband no.
Yes, It makes me want to stay away on those nights
No, I won’t tell my husband no.

More nights. More fighting. More crying. More whining. More CLOTHES and more getting in trouble (ME) over not doing the kids’ laundry. (THEY’RE 13 AND 9 THEY CAN DO IT THEMSELVES). More angst.

I am not ready. I am not ready. I am not ready.
But the life of a step mom rule book says: You don’t have a life anymore. You have a husband and you have to do whatever you possibly can to help him see his kids more. Even if it makes you want to jump off the closest bridge.

Not because the kids are awful all the time. But because I don’t have the skills to handle them. And because I am different when they are around, as is my Prince. Life is different with kids.

I’m gonna see a counselor.

[more book reviews]

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I’m excited to say that I’ve been asked to review the She Reads Truth Bible.

It hasn’t shipped yet, I just got approved. and I. Can’t. Wait.

Genesis

As a visual learner who also needs to hear, touch, feel things before I really get it, I think this Bible is going to be amazing. I’m posting my hopes for this Bible before I even get to feel it with my own hands. Maybe you’ll get one of these first copies, too?

They’re equipped with things like devotionals- which is something that I NEED. and i can’t wait to dive in.

Who is looking forward to hearing more about it?

 

[things to come]

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We’re getting ready to close on the house that we have lived in for the past two years, our first years as a married couple and as a family. There’s an eensy weensy little spot of me that is sort of sad to see it go. Most of me is relieved. I had these huge fears that we would be trapped there for the rest of our lives and I would feel cramped and tired and stuck. But we’re not even living there now. And it feels like I can breathe again.

We’re staying in the house that I owned before we got married. Sleeping in a room I’d never slept in before, remodeling rooms I’ve dreamed about but didn’t have the know-how to be able to do. Painting, cleaning, continually boxing items. Always finding out that we have TOO MUCH STUFF and our storage unit is TOO full. There have only been a handful of items we have *really* wished we had on hand, that were packed away. one of them we bought to replace while we wait to unpack all our items- a mini food processor, from an estate sale, in mint condition with all the accessories for $2. It was really hard to pass up. And I mean, we’ve definitely desired to have two of them a time or two before. So now we have two.

We’re trying to renovate and continue living our lives, but really, we’re tired. My husband especially. Because my Prince is a dreamboat and he works all day at his office and then comes home, puts on his boots and goes upstairs to build walls, tear out dividers, hang mirrors, paint things, put in trim and more. I ache from sitting at a desk all day, to a point that I don’t WANT to do physical things unless it’s as simple as walking. I clean the house and then I’m over-exerted. Depression and anxiety are running high right now and are never more than an arm’s length away, hello fall season- i see you.

We’re also only three weeks away from closing on our dream house. our farm. we’ve met the owners of the house and fell in love with them. the wife is so sweet. she cried when we met and reached out for a hug but realized we’d only known each other a few seconds and pulled back. I hope she comes back to visit in a few years. The thought of moving is dreadful. I can’t envision spending one more day messing with our belongings and moving them again. It feels so laborious. I just want to be settled in our home.

It feels like we are always busy. Always doing something, even on the nights that we have to veg out and watch a tv show and eat on the couch because we are so tired. Our emotions are tired, or mine are at least. I can’t deal with my overworked husband who spits out words like fire and doesn’t realize how crushing they can be. I can’t handle it. And I can’t handle the ins and outs of parenthood right now. I just can’t. I am at a point where I need a safe place and I need a cozy chair and blanket and a book or 10 to curl up with and recoup, but there is no time for it.

I’m looking forward to learning to garden and learning to be the canning queen of 2018.
I can’t wait for goats, chickens and some day cows, even though i don’t really want cows.
I can’t wait to build the photo studio of my dreams, right on my land.
I can’t wait to take walks in our back yard through our hills.
To wake up and see deer feeding from our trees.
To have our home.
To create our farm.
I can’t believe we’re really doing it!

4th of July Bliss

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I’ve been scarce lately and it’s because we are incredibly busy. And I don’t need to apologize for that 🙂

We spent four days on the other side of the state at a conference and came home late Saturday night, gathering the kiddos early Sunday morning before church.
Which for me, was exhausting. There are struggles each week to get to church- one of them hates it and it’s evident, but he goes anyway. This weekend, their mom let them stay up until about 5:00AM Sunday morning and then came to our house at 8:30AM for church. So both of them fell asleep during service and in the car and on the way home and everywhere else and I was furious. And they wore basketball shorts because 13 won’t do their laundry.
So i was grumpy and mad because I had just spent 4 days with 2500+ people and then was awoken by 2 snotty kids at 8:30am, while we should have been away for one more day (we came home early). I was unhappy.
13 had a ‘tude all day long and i couldn’t handle being in the same room as him. and that makes my Prince upset and he gets angry and cold toward me.
17 came over for the day. and the next day. and the next day.

a lot of kids.

But yesterday, the fourth of July. We woke up before 9am (20 mins before we were supposed to leave because my alarm didn’t go off!) and headed to the beach. We packed lunches and sunscreen and headed out. We got there and the beach was practically empty (10:30AM, it’s to be expected). The kids all played. Hard. They built a huge sand sea turtle (see below). People stopped and took pictures of it, took pictures with it, put their kids on it. eventually they let their kids climb on it and stab the turtle’s head, which i thought was pretty rude haha.

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We all left after we were sufficiently fried. More than fried. We were all red and crispy. And we only have one bottle of Aloe Vera.

We drove home and tried to sneak into a couple ice cream shops- one was rude when my husband asked to use a restroom, they did the Pretty Woman thing where they sort of told him he was too garbage to use their bathroom, so we chose to eat ice cream elsewhere. Then we found the second shop and they’d closed! So we finally drove the long way around town, almost home, and found ice cream.
The kids started craving Pizza. Real bad. And we told them no 500 times. but when we walked into the restaurant, I pulled my prince aside and said “come on babe, lets just get some pizza and then have ice cream later.” and he smiled and sat at a table. He’s starting to enjoy tricking them, too. We didn’t let them look at menus, we just waited to see how long they could stand it before we ordered.

and it was good. it was doughy and saucy and fresh from the oven. and the ice cream was perfect. and we got it all for about $35 which is pretty neat, since there’s 5 of us.

And 13 said that he had just had the best fourth of july he can ever remember. and there weren’t even fireworks yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.