Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stepmom

For the past seven months, I have been a stepmom. 

Confession--most of the time, I think I'm failing.  

My stepdaughters live three hours away.  We don't have them during the week, drive them to appointments, or get to go to school functions easily.  Seeing a choir concert is a 6 plus hour drive for us (and we've done it multiple times this year), so it's not easy.  We miss the big girls and we spend more time with the little girls with them here in Texas with us.  Our blended family is busy and I struggle daily to juggle it all. 

Being a mom is HARD.  It's exhausting and it is full of demands.  Being a stepmom?  I had no idea how much harder.  You don't have the unconditional love of the child you've known since she squeaked in your arms moments after birth.  You don't have the child who wants to curl up in your lap or have special mama/daughter time with you.  You don't have the child that knows that even if you get frustrated with them, you love them to the depths of your soul.  You have the child who never wanted you in her life in the first place and always knows her mother can do it better (and she can, they have a great mom).  

I'm never first choice.  In the line of four parents, I'm fourth.  No doubt.  I'm learning to accept this. 

It hurt at first because I so wanted the girls to love me.  I so wanted them to want to spend time with me or want to communicate with me.  I got my feelings hurt.  A lot.  I responded poorly.  A lot.  I tried.  Over and over.  I still try.  Sometimes it's met with terrific results and I cry because I think "they like me!  maybe they can love me!"  Sometimes it feels like we are right back to square one and I cry because I wonder if I'll ever stop wondering if they actually hate me (sidenote--I don't believe they really hate me, it's just my own fear creeping in).  

Step-parenting feels like a dance--it's very one step forward and one step back. OK, two steps back. 

Being a stepmom has it's incredible rewards.  My stepdaughters are amazing.  They are talented and funny.  I've learned a lot from them.  They are terrific big sisters to my girls, and do not see the boundary of step when it comes to Maggie and Katie.  Those are their sisters and they adore them.  We can laugh so much as a family and have developed our own inside jokes that are just for our family of six.  I love my stepdaughters.  I love them so much and I'm crazy proud of them. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy.  It's been a terrific summer with his12 year old here with us for a month.  16 only joined us for a week because she was working all summer at the frozen yogurt shop in her town. It was hard to not have her here with us.  We can't make her come and we accept that she is working with responsibilities now.   I made it my goal that 12 would have a good summer.  We had playdates with her favorite Texas friends, sleepovers and a trip to the water park.  We took one friend and the three of our younger ones to a cabin on Possum Kingdom lake for a week and have a blast.  At the end, she rated the summer a 9 out of 10.  We had our bumps in the road, but in the end, it was a great summer.  We miss her already!

Most importantly, I love their father.  I love this family and no matter how long it takes, I am committed to this blended family. So, I'm a stepmom. 

Are you in a stepcouple?  How long?  What advice do you have to someone still gaining her footing in this new dynamic?  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Early Father's Day with all his girls

So lucky to raise children with this man. Celebrated Father's Day yesterday because we will be in France on the actual date.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Historically, Mother's Day has not been my favorite.  My first Mother's Day ten years ago was the day they transferred my precious baby from the PICU to the transplant unit.  My second, I was a pregnant grieving mother.  Over the years, it wasn't usually a good experience.  Even last year, it wasn't great, as Rob shared something we me (that I needed to know) which ruined my mood for the day.  So, as usual, my hopes weren't high for a great day.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I didn't get a day, I got the best weekend with my sweet family and felt more loved than ever. 

Rob is the BEST at sending flower.  My front office staff always rave about how I get the most flowers.  He sends them for our anniversary, my birthday, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and usually just once just because.  His cards are usually my favorite part.  Rarely do I not cry when I read his words.  Most of them are hanging on my board next to my desk at work.  Three are across the bottom of the computer monitor.  Friday morning started off with a lovely bouquet of flowers, including my favorite lillies.  He knows me well.

An easy home night was perfect Friday night with the four of us. Saturday was a big family night, hosted for the first time in OUR NEW HOME (Yay!!  We love it!).  My mom, grandma, brother, his wife and daughter all joined us for an easy fun night where the volume of three children quickly sounded more like eight. 

Finally came Mother's Day.  It was more than I could have asked for.  Maggie and Katie showered me with hugs and kisses.  Maggie wrote me two beautiful letters at school and Katie's preschool teacher had a sweet letter she helped Katie write.  Oh, these girls.  What a blessing it is to be their mother.  We went out for an adventure.  All I ever wanted for Mother's Day was a family day planned for me.  Rarely did this ever happen.  It did this time.  We went to church as a family, out to brunch, then headed down to the Dallas Arboretum.  There was a free outdoor concert from the US Navy Band and tons of fun with the kids.  By the time we got home, we decided a leftover night was exactly what we needed. They gave me some thoughtful gifts that the girls picked out themselves and the new rolling kitchen cart I've been wanting.  Then, I was sent to relax in bed!  YES! 

Happy Mother's Day to everyone who celebrated.  Thank you to the three loves of my life who made me feel important and loved.  Doesn't everyone deserve that?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thirteen

My first baby girl turned 13 today! Brandy was five weeks old when I brought her little butterball self home.  (Seriously, is there anything cuter than a golden retriever puppy?  No, I don't think so).  Since then, this dog has been MY baby.  She's been with me through the birth of all my babies, the death of one of my babies, two major careers, three houses, one divorce, one remarriage, and so much more.  It's impossible to describe how thankful I am for my sweet companion.  I don't know how much longer our BB will be with us, so I want to cherish my time with her.  You can see her age now.  Not just in her completely white face either.  She struggles to get back up when she's been lying down for long periods of time.  She rests most of the time though you will occasionally still seen some spark in her.  She's slower and falls easily.  She doesn't hoard socks like she used to or bring you random stuff when you call her name, but she'll still find ways to get into mischief from time to time!

Happy birthday, my puppy.  


Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Update

It seems that every time I blog that something is good, no, more than good, something quickly goes wrong.  Two days after my "Enjoying married life" blog post, life changed for us again.  I can't blog about it now, but I will tell you that things have been very challenging for us as a family.  We have struggled together with our anger towards others (specific, yes, but again, that's not for now), and we have felt more stress and pressure than any other time in our relationship.  In no way did we see this coming and we still struggle with the shock of it all as well. 

Things are not better yet and we're fighting like hell to keep our marriage safe from the crap that is happening.  We're giving each other as much love as possible.  We're giving each other as much understanding when we are dealing with emotions.  This man I married?  MY ROCK.  I am his I know as well.  We will not let this shake us or steal our joy. 

I just ask now for peace and guidance.  Sends us your happy thoughts and prayers, please.

So, moving on from that give an update on the GOOD things--

  • 16 got her first job!  She's working hard at a frozen yogurt place.  Unfortunately, it does cut her visiting here in Texas down more.  She only visited half of her Spring Break while we had 11 the entire time.  We all went to Oklahoma during our Spring Break and got to see her work.  Rob kept muttering "my baby" over and over.  Sweet to see him swell with such pride.
  • Brandy turns 13 next month!  I can't believe that my first baby is now so old.  She is still my sweet love, though sometimes I think Katie and I are the only two who still adore her as much (she can be a little high maintenance).
  • Katie has been trying soccer this season.  It could easily be the funniest 45 minutes of our week.  Our team, the Pink Ladybugs, is not exactly focused on the game.  These girls all go to preschool together and they are not all very athletic.  Water breaks and snacks are way more important than soccer goals. 
  • Maggie is loving 2nd grade!  She continues to work harder and is just blossoming.  She loves her Girl Scout troop and all the activities.  She's found two best friends who she just clicks with so well.  It's so awesome to watch her flourish lately.  She's really growing up. 
  • School has been a long year for me.  I am the department head and have a guy on my team that has sucked up a lot of time and energy.  He is not easy to deal with and has caused more headaches during my work day.  However, my teaching and my classroom has never been better.  It's a trade off. 
  • Rob will be celebrating 25 years of being in the military in July.  It's amazing to me to see his unfaltering commitment to serving our country.  I couldn't be more proud. 
  • 11 has really become the most loving big sister to the little girls!  She struggled at first, especially with not being the baby of the family.  Now, she steps in to be the helper when she is here to visit and the little girls are home too.  It's not frequent that it overlaps (only tonight this weekend because 11 is staying with us an extra day due to her school district having no school tomorrow).  She played with them during family dinner, helped them in the bath, and told them a story to tuck them into bed.  We try to compliment her often about how loving she has become with them. 
  • France is just around the corner.  We have a great group of students and parents traveling again this year.  I can't wait because my husband gets to go as a chaperone as well.  It will be his first time to travel abroad, with the exception of two tours to Iraq.  We will visit the D-Day beaches and American cemetery one week after the 75th anniversary of the landing.  Cannot wait to share this experience and a place I love so much with him!
FINALLY....
  • We got a house!  We have been living in our apartment for almost two months now.  Thankfully, it is a really large apartment with plenty of space.  Like I said, we rarely have all four girls together.  It was two nights in all of March and only one night in April coming up.  However, we are SO excited to have a house we move into together.  Most of my things are still in storage, so we will be able to fully join our belongings.  The big girls have been helping come up with designs for decorating.  11 is working on an art project of creating these storage crates/seats for our media room right now!  I bought canvases for 16 to paint for a large photo collage wall she and I are creatingld  (you should see this kid's artistic talent--blows me away!).  They created a board on Pinterest for us all to pin house ideas to.  May 1st will be here before we know it and everyone is very ready.

Thanks for checking in.  All in all, we're good.  We're going to be good.  We have good kids and a good marriage.  Better than good--GREAT.   

PS--thanks for your comments and constant encouragement.  It always means a lot to me.  I ask that you please help me by just keeping everything positive right now.  If I can share one day what happened, I will.  If not, just know that your support and positivity will make more of a difference than anything else. Thanks!  --Jenny

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Enjoying the married life

I feel like every time I come to blog, I need to begin with an apology.  I'm so sorry it has taken so long for an update! Life is finally looking as though it will stabilize a bit for a while after the crazy of the past two months.

Two days after Thanksgiving, Rob and I went on a date.  We went out to dinner at RA Sushi for our favorite happy hour sushi.  Afterwards, he walked me to the bench where we sat on our first date.  Where we had our first kiss.  We snuggled for probably close to an hour, discussing our dreams for the future and our happiness in the present.  It was romantic and perfect.  I commented that it was my favorite spot for us to go and forget the rest of the world.  Just be us.  I love that we go back to that bench for random date nights.  I snuggled up and told him that I loved the bench and being there with him tonight.  That's when he said, "Yeah, who knows, maybe this is where we get engaged."  With that, he stood up, got down on his knee and said the sweetest words to ask me to be his wife. 

The engagement was quick and easy with very little stress.  We knew we didn't want a big wedding, just us and the four most important people in our world.  The wedding was exactly what we wanted.  Two days after Christmas, we became Mr. and Mrs. in front of my friend Johnny who is a federal judge, the amazingly talented Ann Beck, and our beautiful daughters.   The morning of our wedding was actually our Christmas morning with all four together.  We had a big pancake breakfast then finally decided it was time to get dressed and ready for the wedding.  The ceremony was absolutely PERFECT.  Nothing can fully describe how it was for us.  Both of us cried.  The big girls and Maggie each read a little part during the ceremony while Katie stood in between us as we engaged vows.  I stared at my husband and felt nothing but love and safety next to him.

Here are a few pictures from our wedding. A million thank you's to Ann Beck Photography for capturing these moments for our family of six











Instead of a reception or party, we opted for something very intimate and simple.  We invited a few closest friends and family from all areas of our life to join us for a dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  We told them that we would pay for a room and the cake if each family would pay for their own dinners.  No one complained about this plan.  We had 40 people in attendance, with about 15 of them being children.  It was such fun!  We loved getting to visit with everyone we love.  We tried to stay at each other's sides throughout the night.  I loved talking to someone and turning to feel my husband with his hand on my hip and a kiss on the cheek.  Have I told you how crazy in love with this man I am? 

Since the wedding, life hasn't slown down.  We didn't take a honeymoon.  Instead, we spent four nights and five days at a lakehouse cabin with us and the big girls for New Year's.  We had a terrific time and no one was ready to leave!  Rob and I met his two brothers, sister, their spouses, his aunt and cousin for a big surprise birthday weekend for his mom and dad in Charleston.  Then came birthday extravaganza!  Three of six of us--me, 16 (eek, she's 16 now!) and Katie--all have January birthdays.  We spent one weekend at Great Wolf Lodge courtesy of a wedding gift from a family member.  It was a blast but oh so exhausting. 

And then came the move. Oh, the move.  No movers, just us and a few friends helping along the way.  It's been stressful to get it all done and figure out our temporary living situation here at the apartment.  It's a tight little spot for us and sweet old Brandy had to move in with my mom for the time being (she can't handle the outside staircase), but we're happy to all be together.  

All in all, life is good.  No, great.  Life is better than ever and I'm so thankful for being where we are today.  

Love my husband.