Monday, February 23, 2015

This is Family

This is my family.  It's complicated and hectic.  It's a blend of his and mine; of different ways the children were raised and different traditions.  It is a hectic schedule of coming and going with kids often all over the place.  It's not what I originally set out to have when I became a mom.  

It's so much more.   It's wonderful, fun, crazy, loving, hilarious, insane, frustrating, and loud.   
It's mine and I love it so.  

I've fallen in love with my life.  That's so ridiculously corny to say, but it is so true.  I love this life.  Sure, it's challenging and has it's moments where I think maybe I'm not cut out for the blended family/divorced mom sharing her kids/run around crazy hectic life that I have.  Then I stop and look at what I have.  What I have is AWESOME.  

These kids, y'all.  They are so terrific.  Oh my goodness they are funny.  The laughter in this house is beyond what I ever thought imaginable.  Each of them have a unique humor too.  17's sarcasm is unparalleled while 5's insanity keeps people bent over laughing.  They can be so thoughtful at times.  12 and 9 are our most giving and thoughtful towards everyone else.  They will work hard at creating plays/variety shows for family gatherings, make cards for everyone, or go out of their way to buy little gifts with the limited money they have.  They are creative and artistic.  They are incredible as sisters.  They have found such a love for one another that the label of "step" is unnecessary.  They are sisters.  Each girl brings something to our family that without, we would not be complete. 

Then there is the man.  Never did I imagine life could be so loved.  Never did I imagine *I* could be so loved.  This man is the most loving towards me.  Not a single day goes by without being told I am beautiful, loved, special, or a wonderful mom.  Not a single day goes by without "I love you" repeated more than a few times.  He works hard for our family.  He focuses on what he needs to get done with his business so that he can better our family.  He appreciates and values my work ethic, often staying up late at night with me while I grade papers or lesson plan.  He is funny and kind, liked by just about everyone.  You know, one of those all around good guys.  Seriously, I got the better end of the deal.  He ended up with neurotic me!  LOL.  

It's not perfect and it never will be.  I will struggle.  I will get frustrated and angry at times.  I will not be the perfect wife/mom/stepmom.  However, I will strive to take care of this people to the best I can.  I will be thankful for them and love them.  I will appreciate who they are and how they make our family better.  

I will appreciate that this is family.  This is MY family. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Great Granddaughters with Mom Mom

Two months ago, doctors told us my Mom Mom was near the end of her life. She was in the hospital and everything shutting down. Our stubborn old lady and awesome Mom Mom proved them wrong! Here she is last night at family dinner at my house with our four girls. So thankful our girls are growing up with this amazing woman in their life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy 5th to my Buggy!

My baby is FIVE. Our oldest turned 17 last week and now our youngest is 5. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear today. I swear I only blinked and she stopped being a baby....

Friday, January 16, 2015

Parenting the Headstrong Child

My awesome Katie is about to turn five.  She is hilarious, smart, and loving.  When she is playing, she loves to run back in to the room where I am and kiss me before barrelling back out of the room.  She constantly entertains us with her antics and the way she loves to perform for us.  She likes to script our play time, telling us exactly what we are to say next.  Some of the things she busts out with are the funniest I've ever heard.  I honestly don't think I've ever laughed harder than I do from Katie.  Recently, she came in singing the alphabet backwards.  My husband joked it was her already preparing for her first DUI.  She's free spirited and loves life to the fullest.  She took her first karate class last week and we're now calling her the "Smackdown Princess."   Seriously, it was the greatest thing ever to watch her in karate class. She came out screaming "I LOVED IT!!"  Katie is in constant motion.  She NEVER sits still.

This child is a force. 

With all that said, Katie has her VERY challenging moments.  Once this child gets something in her head that she wants to have, do, eat (you get the point), the word NO is utter and complete devastation.  The last big meltdown was Wednesday morning when she came in announcing she was wearing her slippers to school., you're not.  That lasted a good 25 minutes.  She screamed that her other shoes hurt her too much.  They don't.  She screamed that she is allowed to wear her slippers to school.  She isn't.  She cannot be reasoned with once she gets like that.  She will sometimes put herself in her room until she cools down, but most of the time, she will badger us, scream, cry, etc.  By the time it's all over, all of us are WHOOPED. 

It's not every day, but it a frequent enough occurence for us and her teachers that we are talking all the time about how to help her.  Creating incentives for her to work towards.  Issuing her consequences.  Praising her for correct behavior.  Sometimes it helps.  Sometimes she couldn't give a crap.  Over the years, it's definitely improved.  I think we're at once or twice a week and most she can snap out of easier and faster than a few years ago.  About a month ago, she had a fit at school and woke all her friends up during naptime.  After they finally got her to calm down, she looked at the teacher and said, "uh oh, Mama is going to give me a consequence."  Sure did--no sleeping in my bed that night which she had planned to do since my husband was out of town.  She loves to sleep with me when it's just me so that was definitely something she was sorry to miss out on.  Of course, I then got to deal with the "please, please, please, I'll be better" all night when she knew sleeping with me was a no-go. 

Everyone says "it will serve her well later in life to be so strong-willed."  OK, I get that, but oof, I need her to make it through childhood without losing what little sanity I have too!  We all know I'm a little crazy already, haha!

Do you have the strong-willed child?  Any advice?

At least it's a good thing she is damn cute!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Resolutions

I've thought a lot about resolutions for this new year. Will I make them?  Will I keep them?  What did I do last year?  I kept most of them from last year--more cooking for my family (I cook now!), less cussing (this was tough but I do not cuss very often anymore), put my marriage first, and connecting better with friendships I wanted to strengthen.  I failed completely at others--learning to run and do a 5K (that was a huge fail) and putting down the cell phone before bed.

So, where does that leave me?  In the end, I'm an optimist.  I love the idea of a blank slate and a chance to try something and challenge myself.  I love setting goals and strive to do better each  year. So, here I am, typing out my resolutions for 2015 when I really should be going to bed right now because I go back to work tomorrow.  I decided to break my resolutions into categories.  Here we go...

As a mother
  • More date nights with individual children.  I love our special time, and last year , I did not complete my monthly date nights with the girls.  The children noticed and have been asking to get back into our routine of individual time.  Katie and I had a date last Friday night.  We saw Penguins of Madagascar then went to "gas station McDonalds" per her request.  Maggie and I will hopefully have a date next week to see Annie 2014 (again!).  I had a date just me and 12 over the break, and hopefully will do the same with (soon to be!) 17 soon. 
  • More time reading together.  I love reading with my children.  Love to make the voices and snuggle up as we read.  With crazy schedules, homework, activities, and other things going on, sometimes the book reading feels rushed.  Sometimes I don't get to it with Maggie because I know she read during her after school time. 
As a wife
  • Get my cell phone out of the bedroom at night!  Oh, this is a bad one for me.  I talked to Rob about it tonight.  Recently, we heard someone speak about the destruction cell phones can have on a marriage.  Honestly, I believe it.  I've become accustomed to using my cell as a way to fiddle and relax before bed.  What if I was using that time to visit with my husband, read a book, or actually GO TO BED at a decent time.  Our church is starting their annual 21 day fast.  They encourage people to choose their path of fasting.  I have decided to give up sugar, soda, and the use of the cell phone after 7pm.  I am going to lock it in the cabinet in the kitchen.  I am hoping it will help me create the habit. 
  • Get away just the two of us.  This one really needs to happen.  I love my time with this man so much.  It doesn't need to be a long or extravagant vacation.  At least one or two little getaways for a weekend would be lovely for us. 

As a teacher
  • Lesson plan a minimum of one to two weeks out at all times.  Maybe this one will only resonate with my fellow teachers out there.  How often do I walk in to the building thinking "ok, what am I teaching today?"  Too often.  Granted, I have a general idea, but often I'm still pulling it together during my morning conference period.  When I am one to two weeks planned out, I'm more focused, calmer, and able to stay on top of my grading more efficiently.  All this equals LESS STRESS.  Yeah, that sounds like what I want. 
As an individual
  • Stop and simply relax sometimes.  I am go, go, go most of the time.  Over the past week, I stopped and relaxed a lot.  It felt like a decadence.  I still had time to get the house cleaned, connect with people, and run some errands.  Not every minute was scheduled.  It was NICE.  I need to make sure I am making an effort to SLOW DOWN sometimes.   I need to take some time for me.  Get a pedicure from time to time.  Read a book for pleasure while relaxing at night.  Go for a bike ride.  I need it  I don't do it nearly often enough.  I mean, I'm a mom of a busy blended family of four busy girls.  When is there time for me?  Maybe I can find that a little more. 
  • Blog more often.  I didn't blog much in 2014, mainly due to feeling like I couldn't.  I removed at least three posts last year, either before or after posting them.  I even got in a fight over one post and had to have a long discussion with someone after another.  I want to continue to have my voice on this blog, but do it in the right manner.  I want to write more frequently because for some odd reason, many of you are still reading.  People are still daily coming to this blog and I am not writing.  That needs to end.  I love this blog.  Journaling is very therapeutic for me and has been for the past ten years. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Reflections

It's the last day of 2014.  As we go into this next year, there are changes I want to make for a better year for my family and me.  I have resolutions for moving forward, but I also want to take time to reflect back. 

Here's a few questions I found on this website  to help me reflect on 2014 to assist with looking towards 2015....
  1. What did you do this year that you have never done before? Travel to France with my husband on my annual trip with my students.  Having him there made it the best experience! Standing on top of the Eiffel Tower with very best friend?  Best moment of 2014. 
  2. What was the smartest decision you made this year? Moving into the home we now have.  Love it here!
  3. What one word best sums up and describes your experience last year?  Learning
  4. What are you most grateful for this past year?  Rob's love and support.  Corny, yes, but true
  5. What do you wish you had done more of?  Traveled alone with Rob.  One day, we'll get a honeymoon. 
  6. What do you wish you had done less of?  Allowed anxiety to control a situation and feel stressed.  Also, spent less time consumed by the cell phone (note--new year's resolution number 1)
  7. Knowing what you know now, if you could write a letter to yourself that would travel back in time so that you would receive exactly one year ago, what advice would you give yourself?  Know that it will all work out in the end.  Don't let the anxiety and fear of what could happen affect the current situation. 
  8. Who were the three people who had the greatest impact on your life last year?  My amazing husband Rob, best friend Nikki, my loving mother Sharon
  9. Did anyone close to you give birth?  No
  10. Did anyone close to you die?  Thank goodness, no. 
  11. What important relationship improved the most?  My husband.  Being newlyweds was incredible!  Fell more in love with him each day during 2014. 
  12. What important relationship suffered the most?  Co-parenting relationship
  13. Whose behavior or what event merited celebration? 12.  She truly took on being a big sister to the little girls, matured, grew in her relationship with me, and became the most helpful person we have in this house.  She is a quirky fun kid who makes my life better.   I'm so proud to be her stepmom!
  14. Whose behavior or what event appalled you?  Oh, I'll leave that off the blog.  I don't believe this person reads this blog, but I have to watch what I say.  No, it has nothing to do with #12.  However, it was ridiculous and most definitely appalling. 
  15. How did you positively influence a child (or the next generation) this year?  Teaching.  I have the greatest students and love my job daily.  Not every aspect of my job, but I still find joy in it daily.  Students at the end of last year wrote me notes of thanks telling me how I changed their life.  I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my career. 
  16. What well-known person, dead or alive, influenced you the most this year?  God.  I've become more in touch with my faith over the past almost three years.  It's a journey I didn't think possible after feeling like I lost my faith completely.  Prayer has become a part of my daily routine as it once had been up until Maggie was born.  Rob and I became youth leaders in our church this year and it has been one of the most fulfilling experiences we've had as a couple.  We love our Wednesday nights and the people we've met through leadership.  We love our students and the meaningful conversations we have with them.  I know it has made us a stronger couple.  I often feel inadequate because of my past, but God is showing me that it is enough. 
  17. Who made you laugh the most this year?  My daughter, Katie.   Funniest person I've ever met in my life.  She spent the better part of an hour today with a (clean!) pair of underwear on her head singing Frozen while pretending she was a dog. 
  18. What were your favorite TV programs?  We watch very little TV, but love Impractical Jokers on TruTV.  Rob and I will watch late at night for a laugh before bed.  Absolutely hilarious!
  19. What were your favorite books?  I read a lot more this year than in the past few years.  From self-help to young adult books my kids and students are reading, I found a little more time to read.  It's been nice. 
  20. What was your biggest musical or art discovery?  Three musicals that my kids were in!  12 was the LEAD in the high school show of the Music Man.  Maggie had two small parts in Ever After and Annie Jr at the children's theatre.  I love watching them perform!  We were blown away with 12's performance.  We're continually impressed with the quality of productions of the children's theatre. 
  21. What was your favorite movie this year?  I know I'm an adult, but I have to say Annie 2014.  It was my all time favorite movie as a child and I LOVED the new version.  12 teased me for crying! 
  22. What song will always remind you of this year?  I Lived, OneRepublic.  I took 16, her friend, and two of my friends to their concert down in Austin this August then used the song on the first day of school in my classroom. 
  23. What musical artist did you listen to the most this year?  Probably Eric Hutchinson or Ben Folds
  24. Did you attend any concerts, plays, or art events this year?  Yes, but I would have loved to do even more!  Concerts included Eric Hutchinson (our favorite just me and the man), Ben Folds, Parachute, OneRepublic, Brendan James.  Lots of plays, especially at te children's theatre.  Maggie has done two shows with them this year plus I've seen performances of my students multiple times.  I would love to have season passes to Dallas Summer Musicals as well, but the price is a little more than I have to spend on me right now. 
  25. What did you wear often in your closet?  Anything with a cardigan, maxi skirt, or skinny jeans and boots
  26. What was your hair style this year?  Long and straight.  It has gotten REALLY long this year!
  27. What did you really, really, really get excited about this year?  Larissa, my co-founder, becoming the new Executive Director of Heroes for Children and me becoming the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors.  We celebrated our TENTH year as an organization with a big celebration in November, and we have our 10 year fundraiser in March.  Good things to come for HFC!
  28. How old did you turn on your birthday?  36.  About to turn 37 in January
  29. How did you celebrate your birthday this year?  At Great Wolf Lodge celebrating mine, Katie's and 16's all together.  It was so much fun! 12 begged us (over and over) for over a year to go.  We told her she was not allowed to even ASK to go for another year.  She knows that restriction is up on my birthday and I'm sure she'll be ready to ask as soon as possible! :) 
  30. Did anyone close to you have an important milestone birthday?  Oldest stepdaughter turned 16!  She got Dad's old car and started driving.  I think it's hitting Rob hard how quickly the time is passing and how little we have left before she is in college.  They are planning college visits for the Spring together. 
  31. How did you spend the holidays?  We volunteered with an organization called the SoupMobile on Christmas Eve with the big girls.  It took in 500 homeless men, women and children in Dallas and put them up at the Dallas Omni Hotel overnight.  It was an amazing experience.  Christmas Day was a little odd because we were opposite on our schedules.  Didn't get the littles until 3pm so we made the bigs wait until they came home (yes, that is what we call them all the time).  Three hours of present opening ensued.  My favorite part was watching the excitement they all showed towards one another when opening gifts.  They loved seeing what each got and complimenting each other.  These girls love each other so much! We attempted to do family pictures on the 26th before we took the littles back to their dad, but Katie was not behaving her finest.  Maybe a few turned out ok!
  32. How will you be spending New Year's?  At home.  My husband had surgery on Monday, so he's recovering.  Having a "Girl Party" with Maggie, Katie, and Maggie's friend.  First time Maggie has been allowed to stay up late.  We have plans for every hour.  She is making us dress up and curl our hair.  We have crafts, games, sparkling grape juice, movies, their favorite dinner (Cheez-It chicken) and dessert (apple nachos) to keep us happy.  I am assuming Rob will be asleep or at least hiding downstairs in bed. 
  33. I missed...  My dad.  I would have loved him to know Rob.  They would have gotten along so well.  Allie.  I always miss Allie. 
  34. I would use a magic wand to change... my finances.  Wouldn't that be great!  HA
  35. I want to repeat... The terrific summer we had as a family. 
  36. I lost.... my battle with Adult ADD--started medication this year to help me focus a little better.  I can't say I've seen a great improvement year.  I often forget to take the medication!
  37. I gained...  even more respect for my mom as I watched her be sworn as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Child Protective Services.  She asked me to be her guest to see her at the swearing in ceremony with the judge.  I cried watching this woman I love knowing all the good she will do for this organization.  So proud of my mom!
  38. I regret...  allowing anxiety to affect me from time to time.  Panic attacks are not fun!
  39. I am thankful for... my friends and family who make my life better each day.  I've learned so much this year.  It's easily been one of the biggest years of personal growth for me.  The year wasn't exactly what I anticipated for unforeseen reasons, but in the end, it was a good one.  I still have a lot to learn about being a wife, mom, stepmom to this family and how I can make the most of it all.  Of course, I'll probably be saying that every year of my life to come!
  40. I felt most alive when... my house was filled with all four children together.  My most favorite thing in the world!