Friday, January 27, 2017

StepMom Wins

stepmom wins, stepmom, stepmother, step mother, blended family, step family, special memories
There are times in your blended family where your step children will do something, say something, or get you something for you that melts your heart.  When these special moments arise you need to document them in a notebook. Also keep cards, keepsakes, or crafts they made you at school in a folder or box.  As they get older when hard times come, you can look back on these special moments where they melted your heart. When you save these special moments or things it will help you get through those hard and rough times where they may say or do something that is very hurtful to you.  In a stepparent to stepchild relationship there will always be ups and downs, where one minute they love you and worship the ground you walk on, then in the next minute they can’t stand you and don’t want to be around you. When the hard times come all you have to do is open your notebook up and read the special moments you shared with them. When you document the special moments in your notebook be sure that you write down the date of the special moment.
If you don’t have any yet, there’s always still time to create those special moments with them.  Create a special time with them or speak great things into their life.  I remember when my stepdaughter was twelve years old and asked me if she could go with me to get her nails done too.  It made me so happy that she wanted to go and spend time together like that.  Then there were many times she would ask to go run errands with me instead of staying home with her father.  Then there was this time where my stepdaughter made me a jewelry tray out of pottery at school that was Hawaiian themed because she knows how much I love Hawaii. Then there was this time when my stepson was twelve years old and he said that he didn’t want us to get a divorce because he loved our family the way it is.  My stepson when he was in middle school bought me a Christmas tree ornament with his own money at the Christmas shop they had a school, it really touched my heart that he thought of me like that.  It’s so important that you hold onto these special memories somewhere because over time you will forget them.  Then as the stepchildren get older and become teenagers it will not be easy to remember those memories if they are not written down somewhere.  One day when the stepchildren become adults you can show them your notebook along with a box of the special memories as a reminder of everything that happened with them when they were a child. For example, a special moment could be when they first said they loved you or when they first called you Mom.  The time they bought you something on their own for Mother’s Day or the first homemade card or craft that they made for you from school.  Another special time would be when you first took them to a spa and they got their first massage or pedicure.  It could be the first night they asked you to read a story to them instead of their father. 
What are you waiting for? Start today and make your own Stepmom Win notebook. Try to hold onto those positive memories for as long as you can before you forget about them. You’ll be happy you did later on down the road.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Protect your Privacy on Facebook

Facebook Privacy, stalkers, stepmom privacy, facebook, blended family, facebook spies, facebook stalkers
Do you have a Facebook profile? Do you have a husband whose ex-wife stalks you on Facebook? Or does that ex-wife have spies that are reporting your every move to the ex-wife? If you do, you’re not alone. This blog post is just for you. I am going to show you how you can make your Facebook profile more private to those outsiders, stalkers or spies.  First of all, you need to be on a computer in order to do a lot of these changes and modifications. Some of these you can’t make using your phone.


Check out Your Profile
View your profile as you would a stranger.  You can do this by going to your main screen of your profile by clicking on your name and then follow these instructions below:
1. Make sure you are on your Facebook wall. (You did this by clicking on your name)
2. On your cover photo, you will see Update Info and View Activity Log buttons, after it then you will see “…” Click on “…” (See Picture on left)
3. Then pull down menu will appear, choose “View as” from it. Then your profile will change into what a stranger (non-friend) would see when they go to your Facebook profile. Here you can see what is viewable to a stranger and what is not. If you have a lot that is viewable, I will show you how to make it more private. You can come back to this step after you are done with making all of the changes.

Newsfeed Posts
In order to make it more private to where only your Friends see it follow these steps:
1. Got to the top of your screen on the right corner (next to Your name and Home) there should be a “Lock” icon, click on it.  It is the last icon on the top menu of your profile.
2. Then select “Who can see my stuff” (See Picture on right)

3. Then you’ll see “Who can see my future posts?”
4. Make sure you select “Friends”. There is also an area there if you want to exclude certain friends from viewing your posts, you can specify that under the options area under the drop down menu.

After you are finished with that, from now on everything you post will only be viewable to your friends only.  Now if you want to hide past posts in your newsfeed, follow these next steps.

Past Newsfeed Posts
Follow these steps for each post you would like to hide.
1. On each post, you will see a “World Globe” icon. Which means everyone who has a Facebook account can view that post. (see Picture on right)
2. Click on the “Word Globe” icon, a drop down menu will appear click on “Friends”
Then repeat this step for every post you want to be more private.
Photos

Photos
To make your photos more private follow these steps:
1. Click on “Photos” from the main screen.
2. Click on “Albums”.
3. On each album, you’ll see a star or globe or people icon that is dimmed out on the bottom right corner of each album. You cannot change the privacy settings for the albums with a “*” on them but you can do all of the rest.
4. Click on that icon, which will then give you a drop down menu, click on the option you desire, which I would choose “Friends”. There is also a “More Options” area where you can specify exceptions to certain people to not view that photo album.
5. Repeat these steps for every photo album.
The only albums you cannot change are profile pictures, timeline photos, mobile photos and cover photos. For these albums, you can go into them and delete the old photos or move them into albums to make them more private. But leave your main profile and cover photo alone, if you do anything to that you will no longer have a profile or cover photo.
Another tip: If anyone tags you in a photo, try to remove the tag, because tagged pictures are viewable to strangers. So if you don’t want strangers to see that picture always remove the “the tag”.
After you completed all of this click on your name and go back to “view as” at the top and check and see if your photos are not viewable to strangers.

Cover & Profile Pictures
To make your cover and profile pictures in your timeline hidden follow these steps:
1. Go to your newsfeed, when you find an old profile or cover photo, there is an “arrow” icon click on it. (See Picture below)

2. Select from the Drop down menu “Hide from timeline”.
3. A box will then appear asking if you are sure you want to hide it. Click on “Hide”.

Now it’s hidden, do this for all of your cover and profile photos that are in your timeline/newsfeed. Keep in mind that the photos are not deleted, they are just hidden so strangers cannot view them.
If you see photos on the left and they are still viewable. These photos are your Profile or Cover photos. You can delete the old pictures or move them to other albums so they are not viewable to strangers. Until all you can view are your recent Profile and Cover photo.

Friends List
If you would like to hide your friends list to strangers or even to friends on your Facebook, following these steps:
1. Click on the “Friends” from your main screen. (See Picture below)

2. Then select “pencil icon” on the right corner. (See Picture below)

3. Then select “edit privacy”
4. A pop down menu will then appear under each option “Friend List” and “Following”. (See Picture below)


5. Select “Only me” for the friend list and you can do the same for the “Following” option too.

Now your friends list and follow list are not viewable to strangers or your friends.

About Page
At the top of your timeline after you click on your name, click on “About”
Then for each area on the left, you can add privacy options to them as well. Follow these steps in order to do that.
For Work and Education under “work”. Put your mouse pointer over it. You will then see “Options” appear.
1. Click on it, then click “Edit”
2. Down on the bottom left of “Save Changes” button, you will see a drop down menu where you can select who want to see this information.
3. Select any option you want. I have mine selected as “Friends” only.
4. Then after you are done with the changes make sure you select “Save Changes”.
5. Repeat these steps for multiple works you have listed. You can do this for each thing listed such as college and high school too.


Then go to “Places you’ve lived” section and follow these steps
1. For each City and State, put your mouse over it, then an “Edit” will appear.
2. Click on “Edit”
3. Then Select who you want seeing this information.
4. Then click on “Save Changes”.

Repeats this for each city and state you have listed. Be sure you select “Save Changes” else it won’t save.
Contact and Basic Info
Are the same steps you did for Work and Education, so follow those steps. Same goes for Family and Relationships details about you.

Life Events
1. For Life events, you have to click on each one
2. Put your mouse over the title of the event and then click on the arrow on the right, then “Edit”, then select who you want to view it.


Likes, Movies, Books, Music, etc...
Lastly, if when you go check and do a “View as…” again and notice that the sections titled: “Likes”, “Movies”, “Books”, “Music” etc… are all viewable to a stranger you can make those more private it too.
Go into each section in order to edit the privacy, follow these steps:
1. Click on the pencil icon on the right corner of each section.
2. Then select “Edit privacy”
3. Then select from the drop down menu who you want to view this.
4. Then select “Close”.

Repeat this for all sections (Likes, Movies, Books, Music, etc)

After your all finished with all of the edits go back and do a “View As…” to see if everything is more private now.  If you made it more private, congrats. Now it should be very hard for your stalkers or spies to read anything from your profile unless you accept them as a friend on your Facebook profile.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bad emails from The Ex-Wife

bad emails from the ex-wife
Everyone hates it when they receive a dreadful email from the ex-wife telling you what she thinks of you or how your parenting skills suck or just how she feels about you.  Or an email about something she disapproves of that happened this past weekend at your house.  Every Father and Stepmom get all worked up after they get an email like that. Your first reaction is to hit the reply button and tell her what you think of her parenting choices or how you feel about her.  Well, then this blog post is for you. 
After you are done reading an email that is really awful from the ex-wife, follow these six guidelines on how to handle the bad and awful email instead of what you normally do.

1. Wait to read the email at home instead, so it doesn’t affect your job.
2. Walk away from the email. Get your mind on something else.
3. Don’t reply until 8 hours later or the next day if possible.
4. Don’t reply at all.
5. Save the email print it out for your records for court.
6. Respond only to any question she may have asked that relates to the well-being of the children.

not responding is also a good response

Keep in mind when you do respond it’s a domino effect. Meaning it will fuel the fire to keep on and going and going. Email wars are never any good for anyone.  If you decide not to respond at all she may call or text you asking you if you got her email. You can simply say “I don’t think a response was necessary” and just leave it at that.
When you do respond make sure it’s when you have cooled down and make sure your reply email follows these 3 guidelines:

Is it Nice?
Is it True?
Is it necessary?


If your reply to the email is not either of these guidelines then don’t respond because she can use it against you in court. Don’t give her leverage to use in court.  Another thing to keep in mind, high conflict ex-spouses will sometimes read the email to the kids to get the kids to hate you.  When dealing with a high-conflict ex-spouse always try to communicate through email or via text messages that way you have a paper trail. It’s hard to prove something someone has said on the phone or in person.  Unless you record it which is illegal in some states, however, some states allow it as evidence and some don’t.  Look into it before doing it.
My husband’s ex-wife would send countless of emails telling him what a bad parent he is but rarely had anything else in the email that was of importance that would warrant a response from him.  Almost every other Monday after a weekend with the step-children, she would send an email about something she wasn’t happy with.  In the beginning, he would get so upset and call me at work reading the email to me. He used to fire back at her with an email and then it would just go back and forth. Until one day I said, let it go, don’t respond at all.  Once he stopped responding to her hateful emails. Our life was a lot better. Any time an email was sent to us we would laugh about it over the phone.  He would only respond if it was really necessary and it was short and to point answers.  Once he started handling the emails like that, she eventually stopped sending them.  I think she finally realized that we weren’t going to let her hateful emails come between us and we weren’t going to stoop to her level of craziness.  Don’t let the ex-spouse affect your happiness with one another.  Whenever you get an email always follow those six guidelines above and you will be less stressed out.  Always kill her with kindness and don’t respond to craziness unless it’s really necessary.  Remember anything you say in your email can be used against you in court.  Save every correspondence you get from the ex-spouse, so you can, in turn, use it against her in court if need be.  Also, build up a case against the ex-spouse, don’t just go to court over one email, collect several damaging emails and then use them in court against them. Please remember only respond to crazy and bad emails when: you can be nice, if it’s true, and if it’s necessary.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Break Through

break through, blended family, blended family break through, step family, stepmom, step mother, step parents
It’s been awhile since I wrote on my blog and I apologize for that, but I took the summer to concentrate on my family. Do you have a difficult relationship with your step kids?  Well, I did on and off for this past eight years. It’s been up and down and at times more down than up.  Then it hit rock bottom in 2013 to the point where my step kids didn’t want to be around me and my children.  And it lasted for three years. Those three years were so difficult for me, I felt like a part of me was missing and more importantly, it felt like our blended family was incomplete. I also had a lot of bitterness and resentment I was holding on to besides a tremendous amount of hurt from my stepdaughter.  Then I decided early this year to forgive her for everything she did and said to me.  Then I decided to reach out to her and send her an email expressing how much I missed her and my stepson in my life and also asked her for forgiveness for any hurt that I have caused. I also brought up all of the fun times we have had that I missed a lot and how I wish we could make a fresh start and repair our relationship and how much I love them both and how I only want the best for both of them.  In a few days she responded back and now it’s been seven months and our relationship is slowly coming around and getting better.  I owe all of this transformation to God, only he made this possible through a lot of prayers this all happened
Just recently my stepdaughter contacted me asking me to go to a Christmas play with her.  This is a first time that she reached out to ask me to spend time with her 1:1.  At this point, it’s been me asking them both to do things with me and my kids.  Her reaching out to me was such a great feeling since she could have asked anyone else to go with her.  She also asked to go to a Halloween event that is coming up with my girls too. We have come long ways. I know I will never get those three years back of everything I missed out on but I’m grateful for where we are at today.
If you are having issues with your step kids, I encourage you to pray and seek God. I also encourage you to be the bigger person and reach out to them first.  After all they are children whom don’t know the right thing to do and sometimes can hold grudges a lot longer than us adults can. If you can’t see them in person, I encourage you to write them a letter/email expressing your feelings and telling them how much you miss and love them. Keep it positive and don’t dwell on the negative things that happened to make you distant from them. They might have done and said some hurtful things, but you need to let it go of it and try to make a fresh start.  Try to remind them of all of the good times you have had with them and how you miss them being a part of your life.  You might not get an apology for all of the hurt they put you through and you have to learn to be okay with that. It was not easy for me to accept the fact that they might not apologize for the hurtful things they did and said.  The best thing is to let it all go and make a fresh start. Don’t give up on them it can and will work if you make the first move and pray and have faith and believe for your break through
I could have given up on them and said it’s hopeless, they will never have a relationship with me, but I chose to not give up, I chose to die to self and rise above all of the hurt they have caused.
Life is short, don’t spend it holding onto bitterness, hurt, resentment and unforgiveness in your heart towards your step kids, make amends and get your fresh start, your break through is right around the corner. Don’t ever give up on the relationship with them, you can be a complete blended family again, but it all starts with you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cedar Point - Fun for the whole Family

If you haven’t gone to Cedar Point during Hallo Weekends you are definitely missing out on a lot of fun for all of your family. Hallo Weekends run between September 16th through October 30th.  I took my family recently and it was so much fun. The lines for the rides were short and it got even more entertaining when the sun went down.  There are fourteen haunt attractions and twenty-one great pumpkin fest attractions in the whole park. There are pathways in the park that had people dressed in costumes ready to scare you.  If you have small children that don’t want to be scared you can buy a “No Boo” light up the necklace for just $8.00 that will keep the scary characters away.  They can even go into the haunted attractions with the necklace on and will be bothered by the characters. 
The whole park is decorated so nicely and festive for Halloween. There are so many photo opportunities.

They have over a thousand pumpkins decorated or designed in a way that’s really festive.  They have tombstones everywhere throughout the park.  You can even bring your kids dressed up in costume and they have designated attractions that give out candy to them.
I do want to give you a heads up on something though when you are there don’t buy the souvenir cups to drink out of because you will have to buy a locker to store it because all of the rides will not let you use the storage bins to put the cups in. The rate for the lockers is $4.00 for 4 hours.
The newest roller coaster, Valravn was a great ride; I definitely recommend riding in the very front of this coaster to really get the effect of the first drop.  It’s the best seat on that roller coaster.
The first night we were there, they had a funeral procession for the Mean Streak roller coaster because they shut it down.  I am actually pretty happy about that, it was the worst roller coaster ride in the whole park.



My top five favorite roller coasters at Cedar Point are:
1. Valravn
2. GateKeeper
3. Millennium Force
4. Maverick
5. Raptor 


My top five scary attractions are:
1. Eternity Infirmary
2. Blood on the Bayou
3. Screamworks
4. Slaughter House
5. Erie Estates.


The only haunted attractions I didn’t get to go see was the Eden House and the Zombie High School. Hopefully next year, I will be able to go back and experience those two haunted attractions.

A fun attraction the all of my kids loved was the Linus Mummy Pit which was bubbles or foam that they got to play with that were shooting out of two machines. They loved it, but I have to warn you, they will get a little wet if they put bubbles all over them. They did have towels there to help dry you off after playing with the bubbles.

An awesome show to watch while you are there are the “Blood Drums”.  They had these zombies that would come out and do trapeze stunts which were awesome to watch while the drummer played his drums from high above.
They also have wristbands you can buy to for all day drinks and food which I think is definitely well worth the price.  For the food wristband, you can eat every 90 minutes at many food places. The drink plan is nice because you don’t have to carry a souvenir and rent a locker to store it. 
All in all, it was a great time for the whole family and less wait time for rides. Definitely, plan a trip to Cedar Point, you don't want to miss out on all of the fun you and your family can have. To learn more about Cedar Point Amusement Park, click here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Blended Family is Not an Nuclear Family

a blended family is not an nuclear family; blended family; step parenting; step family; stepmom
Even though sometimes it feels like it is a Nuclear Family. The first five years it will at times feel like your in a Nuclear Family. If you can get through the first five years you really have a chance to be successful. If and when you can make it to ten years you are an honored veteran.  The first five years of my blended family have had many ups and downs. The downs were so bad that I thought about walking away from it all several times. The hardest struggle was dealing with the discipline with all of the children, but mainly the stepchildren because the ex-wife constantly interfered with our discipline. It was a very hard time for both me and my husband but we got through it without losing one another in the process. To get through the rough years you need to go through the blending process.  There are 9 steps to the blending process in which came from Gary & Greg Smalley‘s book titled: “The Blended Marriage”. These principles will help guide you along the blending process and get you through the hard times and make you go from feeling like a Nuclear Family to a successful Blended Family.

9 Steps for the Blending Process (Gary & Greg Smalley; 2014)

1. Expect outside influences to intrude
This means that ex-spouses, in-laws, and friends will try to cause problems or give you unwanted advice. It’s going to happen, it’s just inevitable.

2. Expect children to feel torn between both parents

The stepchildren will have a hard time adjusting especially if PAS is going on with one or both parents. Try your best not to talk badly in front of the stepchildren about the other parent. Let them form their own opinions about their parent without your influence. If you notice them struggling for whatever reason, counseling can really help the stepchildren adjust to being in a Blended Family.

3. Be prepared for change
Before you got married or moved in together, you both had two different styles of parenting. Coming together as one style of parenting is going to take some time and a lot of adjusting and compromise.

4. Be willing to make sacrifices for the common good
For example, you might celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve whereas your husband celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day. You might have to compromise and change the day around to where it makes sense for all of the children in the family. You have to make sacrifices and adjust your life around.

5. Understand that your expectations will most likely have to be adjusted
It’s a good rule of thumb to walk in with little or no expectations at all, that way you don’t get discouraged if an expectation you have failed. You can also learn how to have realistic expectations in your blended family by clicking here.

6. Define love as commitment, not merely feelings
A Blended Family takes a lot of commitment from both of you meaning 100/100 on both of your parts. Make a commitment to one another that you will not give up, no matter how bad and hard it may get.

7. Remember that effective blending doesn’t happen overnight
A Blended Family takes a lot of time, commitment, patience, and faith in God. It also helps to read a lot of books on Blended Families and Step Parenting. Having a support group to turn to when the going gets tough is another great help.  Last but definitely not least, counseling for both of you or just one of you will help too.

8. Realize that sometimes blending doesn’t go smoothly
There will be a lot of bumps along the way, so don’t feel discouraged.  Just kick off the dust and try again. You need to realize that you will make mistakes along the way, it’s only normal. No parent is perfect and either is a Blended Family. It’s just how you recover and learn from those mistakes is what matters most.

9. Be committed to the covenant of your marriage regardless of circumstances
Put each other first after God. It goes in this order: 1. God  2.Spouse 3. Children. If you follow this order your marriage will be strong and you can get through anything that comes your way.

I know some of these steps seem impossible, but if you make them possible in your Blended Family it won’t be a Nuclear Family at all.  Don’t give up on your Blended Family you can be successful and get through the first five years and even ten years if you just follow the blended process that Gary & Greg Smalley put together.

When we first got together it was very hard. All of the children fought and argued over everything. It put us against one another at times. Then the ex-wife would get involved in our discipline and our rules which made things even ten times worse. There were times where I felt like it was a losing battle. The first five years have been the hardest in our Blended Family but we made it through it. We did make some mistakes along the way that we can’t do anything about except to learn from them and that’s what we have done. I am happy to say we are going on eight years being together and seven years of marriage and I really feel like it’s going uphill now and we are finally in a good place. So don’t give up on yours yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel, just keep on going it will be worth it in the end.

References:
Smalley Greg & Gary (2014). The Blended Marriage. Explore, Reflect, Unite. Learn how to cultivate a fruitful life together. Focus on the Family. Published by Bethany House publishing group.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Should you buy a gift for The Ex-Wife for Mother's Day?

buy gift for the ex-wife, mothers day, mothers day gift for the ex, blended family, step family
Should we recognize the BM (Biological Mother) and buy a gift for her from the stepchildren for Mother’s Day?  The answer might surprise you. The answer is YES, you should.  If the biological Mother is single and doesn’t have a significant other or husband to do it, then you most definitely should buy a gift for her from the kids.  If she does have a significant other or husband in her life, ask the stepchildren if that person is going to take them out to get their Mother a gift for Mother’s Day.  If they say he isn’t, then you need to do it for them. They should be recognized regardless of how they treat you.  It’s not about you; it’s about the stepchildren showing their love and appreciation towards their Mother on Mother’s Day. It’s teaching the step children that they should always honor their Mother on special holidays such as Mother’s Day.  The gift might have been bought by you and your husband but it’s from her children, not from you.  It’s the thought that counts and it is stepping outside of your thoughts, feelings and comfort level towards her and being the bigger person.  If she throws the gift away, she’s only hurting her children and then shame on her.  But not shame on you.  So take the stepchildren out this weekend and have them pick something out for their Mother and have them pick out a card for her.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on her, just spend anywhere between $25.00 to $40.00 on the gift.  If the stepchildren are older they may have money of their own that they want to spend but have no way of getting to the store to get the gift for their Mother.  Once they get old enough and can drive a car, they can get the gift, but may need to be reminded to do so.  I think it’s even more special when a Stepmom takes the initiative and takes the stepchildren out to get the gift, it really shows the stepchildren that you are okay with them loving on their Mother and recognizing them.  But, if you just can’t get past everything she’s done and just don’t want to do it at all, and then have your husband take the stepchildren out to get it. No Mother should go unrecognized on Mother’s Day.  Every Mother should feel loved and appreciated for being a Mother by their children.  Regardless of how she treats you and your husband, regardless of how difficult she is, regardless of how active she is in your stepchildren’s lives.  If money is tight then have the stepchildren make her a homemade card and have them make a craft or you can even help them bake a cake for her and have them decorate it.  Don’t let your ego or your hurt feelings get in the way, this is her day just as much as it is your day. I know for me personally, my ex-husband doesn’t take my kids out to buy me a gift for Mother’s Day. But my husband does it, so it doesn’t bother me that my ex-husband doesn’t do it.  I am sure if I was single, he would do it for me.
Try to honor all types of Mothers this Mother’s Day regardless of how close you are to them, if they are a Mother they should be honored and appreciated.