[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?

 

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[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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE UPDATE

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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.

JUNE UPDATE IS HERE!

I can tell you that we are doing well in so many of these and I can’t hardly take it.
In the past month, we have finally gotten a storage unit. We’ve filled about 1/4 of it and have seventeen years worth of belongings to go through still, but we will get there. We have a perpetual pile of junk that needs to go to the unit each week, which sits in our corner and it makes me so happy. I’m happy to move it. Happy to pack it. Happy to throw it away.  The kids have been willing to go through their toys and get rid of the ones that they don’t need immediately.  It’s so nice.

Friday, we got a text saying that a step at house A was broken and needed attention. Sunday, my Prince put in a brand new set of steps and it looks amazing. We had this on our To-Do list, knowing it would need repairing at some point, just hadn’t been a necessity. So sometimes, those late calls turn into blessings because they force us to check items off our lists!

Thursday, I came home from work and my Prince Charming was standing on top of our roof. He decided it was the day! He would finally, after 8 months of having roof sheets lie in our yard, put the roof on the house. In his defense, you cannot start a roofing project during a Michigan Winter and you cannot start a roofing project in a Michigan fall or spring: Snow, Rain, Rain. Day 2 of the roof being off of our house it rained slightly, for the first time in weeks, and now is blazing hot and we have record breaking heat right now. My poor husband. He is so red. But this afternoon, we will have a brand new, maroon roof on our green house. I am so very thankful for our friends and the church family we have- four men in our church came to help us out and lend hands on the hottest weekend of the year. We fed them taco salad and gave them lots of water and iced tea, but i know it’s not near enough. Now that this giant project is out of the way, a lot of other projects can begin. It’s hard to start projects when there is a huge one staring you in the eye every day.

We keep eating healthy. I cheat and eat pizza and I’ll never stop drinking pop because i just plain like it. But i drink less of it and more water. I get shock tarts every couple weeks and enjoy one bag for a few days. It’s the only way to live. I really don’t care to be 100% green all the time. It’s fun to indulge, you just have to do it responsibly. Just like anything else. PS I’m down 20 pounds and I can see it and feel it and my shirts reflect it. That means that the last shirt I bought was 2 sizes smaller than the previous one I was wearing. I also just want to say that I am down 20 pounds after pretty much quitting (i got bored) and after my step dad died, when i didn’t work out once in 10 days and ate what i wanted and sat on my couch in mourning. I’m still down 20 pounds. I’m 1/3 of the way to my December 31 goal with my dad. It’s a lot of weight, but it’ll be worth it. I started the 21 day fix, but did it my way. I am intentionally using it for the portion control, not because I overeat, but honestly because I under-eat and I don’t know what a cup of greens looks like compared to a cup of fruit, or what an appropriate serving of each would be. So using the containers helps me to see what MY body really needs every day. Using their app allows me to track my food and see when I’ve indulged too much or when it’s been 3 day since I’ve had any fruit. I struggle with fruit. So I’m being intentional with drinking it- in smoothies or in V8 Fusion, where you get 1 serving of Fruit AND veggies in 1 can. Some added sugar, but I lack in fruit so much that it seems worth it to me.

Saving more moolah is hard. We have bills, for sure. And now it’s summer. And I really like shopping. And i just spent two weeks in a grueling depression that I didn’t think had an end, until i forced my husband to kneel on the ground and hug me until i stopped crying. It broke the next day. Freedom came with that cry. So anyway, when i’m sad i shop………… and i spent a little bit of money in those two weeks. But yesterday, I got a raise at work and my second job just gave me a raise, too! So the extra money can get put towards the last couple of non-mortgage/student loan debts we have and will get us closer to a new house.

I’ve still only worn jeans 3 times this year and life is so good because of it.

 

Bye for now!

 

 

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.

a step mom- on mother’s day.

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Apparently everyone is jumping on the Mother’s Day bandwagon right now, even though we’re more than a week out from it. I guess this is when I should write about it, too.

imagesMother’s day is a really, extremely sore spot for me. I’m not excited for it. I don’t have a wish list. I don’t look forward to any part of it. It hurts me. Mother’s day feels like a giant loss for me and there are no possible words for me to even explain this to you, without giving you miles and miles of explanations. So for short:

Mother’s day is a trying time for me. My own mother lives on the other side of the country and told us she was leaving only 10 days before she drove off. Her job didn’t call her there, she convinced them she needed to move. She took a pay cut, drove her own, personal car through the mountains, and increased her monthly bills tremendously. This was 6 years ago.moving-company-reviews-clipart

In these six years, my own mother, who I used to view as this immense source of strength and beauty in a way I couldn’t understand, this woman who had it all and had it all together- she has cracked. She is broken. and she is lost.

 

My own mother suffers from some manic depressive habits and probably schizophrenia, if not a multiple personality disorder. I can’t give you a real diagnosis because she won’t visit a doctor to receive any help. Through these debilitating mental disorders, she has lost the job that she chased after, 2300 miles away. She has lost her home, she has lost her car. and she’s lost a lot of dignity. While there isn’t much else to lose, she is very rapidly losing her children. It’s hard to even say that. I’m not going to go in to grave detail here because it’s far too extravagant to try to explain.

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I have felt, for 6 years, the way a young child with a parent who walked out of their life feels. Abandoned. A little worthless, since it was so simple to just leave. A lot forgotten. But I’m an adult and I was an adult when she left and I do still have contact with her. But it feels so strange. This is the first year I didn’t call my own mother on Easter. I just couldn’t.

As a step-mom, mother’s day is naturally strange. Two years ago, Mother’s day was only a few days before my Prince and i’s wedding day. So he had the kids make me Mother’s day cards. I got one that said “Happy Mother’s Day-ish” and “Thanks, StepMomma (with my real name inserted.) And it was cute the first time because they still didn’t really know what it meant to have a step mom or what was happening. I’m not sure they really realized I was moving in until I didn’t go home the first night we returned from our honeymoon.

The second Mother’s day, I directly asked them to not send me an “ish” card. That I’d rather have nothing than an “ish” card. Because in all honesty, that “Ish” hurt.. pretty bad. They couldn’t even call me their step mother. i was just Ish. My Prince had them buy me flowers and they picked some out for their mom, too. Snuck into her house and left them on her windowsill. Our church has a Mother’s Day thing every year, where sometimes the kids deliver the flowers to their moms or sometimes they call everyone up in front of the church to have flowers given to them, or sometimes an adult will pass them out while we watch a slideshow of memories of little babies in hospitals and moms kissing their babies cheeks.

I don’t want to stand there. I feel like an outcast. My kids don’t want to buy me flowers, they correct the servers at restaurants that say “Maybe Mom will…”. They can’t stand the idea of me as their mom or as a mother-like influence. And it really crushes me sometimes.

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Mother’s day hurts. And i know that for you, it might hurt in different ways. This year feels different and feels like my kids may actually like me better than they did last year, but i am still a little bit broken on Mother’s day, grieving the loss of my own mother. She’s still alive but she is very much not here. She doesn’t know the names of my kids and hardly knows what I do for a living.

For mother’s day this year, I don’t want a thing. i don’t need a thing. Except maybe a giant hug from my Prince and an “I love you anyway.”

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