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.

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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Know Your Role

know your rule, stepmom, step mothers, role of a stepmom, blended family, step family
Do you really know your role in your blended marriage? Do you know what your limits are? This is something that is very important to discuss with your husband or significant other before you get married or move in together.  I have heard it many times where a Stepmom has overstepped their role and has disciplined or said something to the stepchild that the husband was not happy about.  You need to have the discussion with your husband about what he is comfortable with and what he isn’t comfortable with. Because you don’t want to overstep your role and have your husband undermines you right in front of your stepchildren.  If that ever does happen it shows your stepchildren that what you say doesn’t matter and that they don’t have to obey or listen to you and that their Dad has the last say.  You both need to sit down and come up with what you are comfortable with, meaning if your husband is ready for you to discipline his kids and how will it be handled.  Determine and establish who will be the primary disciplinary in the family overall or with the stepchildren and who will be the second disciplinary in the marriage.  The stepmom should not be the primary disciplinary to the stepchildren. If you as the stepmom feel that you have taken on that role and it’s too much for you, then you really need to have a serious conversation with your husband about it.  The husband should be the main primary disciplinary with his children.  Putting you in that role can really become a disaster for your relationship with the stepchildren and the biological mother.  Stepmoms should always try to be more of the nurturer and encourager parent type role rather than the disciplinary role of the household. I know there are some Stepmoms that are with the stepchildren more than the husband is due to work, then you have to be the be the disciplinary in those cases.  If you notice your stepchildren resenting you, it’s because you’re doing too much of the discipline in the household and your husband needs to step up and be more engaged in the discipline area. He should always support you with whatever discipline you give out to his stepchildren. If he ever feels the need to disagree with it, then he needs to tell you later on when the children are not around, but never in front of the children.  If your discipline isn’t working the husband should always try to step in to help enforce it.  You should always be on the same team with one another. Stepmoms shouldn’t undermine husband’s discipline either especially in front of the children. Always try to be on the same team and become a united front together.
There was a time not that long ago where my stepdaughter was yelling at me in a busy restaurant and just wouldn’t stop yelling at me even after I asked her to stop yelling and lower her voice. My husband just stood there and didn’t do or say anything to make her stop. It made me feel like he didn’t care about the way she was treating me and that he supported her actions towards me. He later apologized for it, but it still hurt me that he couldn’t step up to the plate and put her in her place. She was totally out of line and very disrespectful to me.  This is a good example of a husband not having your back. A husband needs to have your back no matter what. If he can’t have your back then you don’t and shouldn’t discipline the stepchildren.  Let him deal with his own children and you handle your children.  It’s so important that you talk about your role with his children. If you can’t agree to discipline and consequences in the home, maybe you both would benefit from attending a parenting class together to help you agree on discipline and consequences. There is also a post I did awhile back about disciplining your stepchildren, feel free to read it and see if it helps.
Another role that is important to discuss and determine is your role with the biological mother.  Is your husband going to handle all communication with the biological mother or are you going to handle some of it?  It’s something you definitely need to figure out and early on in your relationship or marriage. My recommendation that has worked in my marriage is that each of you handles all communication with your own ex-spouses.  It just makes it less difficult to deal with and helps avoid a lot of stress and conflicts. My husband solely communicates with his ex-wife about his kids and I solely communicate with my ex-husband about my kids. If you have it set up to where you both communicate with the ex-spouses and it isn’t working you can always change it around, there’s still time to do that.  If you do share communication with the ex-spouses and its working then leave it the way it is. Just make sure you establish boundaries with one another about what you can say yes to with the ex-spouses and what you both need to discuss first before giving answers too.
Knowing your role as a Stepmom and finding out what your limits are and getting it defined only helps better your marriage and your blended family. If you haven’t had that talk yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Should I Attend Sporting or Other Events?

blended sport events, attending stepchild sporting events, step family, stepmom, blended family, children's sport events, stepchildren's sporting events
There comes a time when the stepchildren get involved in Sports or other school events and you ask yourself should I be attending these for support? The answer is yes and most definitely encourage your husband to attend even when you can’t attend always make sure you make it possible for the biological parent to attend their child’s event.  As your schedule permits, attend as many events as you can.  Even if the biological mother is there, just because she’s there doesn’t mean you have to sit by her.  It’s important that you go with your husband for moral support and to show your stepchildren that you care about them and that they are also important to you too.  It’s really important to the stepchildren that you cheer them on and support them in the activities they do.  I know from previous experience growing up in a blended family myself, my Dad only attended one sporting event of mine, out of many that I had.  Even my own mother didn’t attend many of them either and it really hurt me as a child that no one was there to cheer me on.  I remember the feeling like it was yesterday, it felt like they didn’t care and it really hurt me especially when my friend’s parents were there and mine weren’t.  However, my friend’s parents would cheer me on which made me feel good, but it isn’t the same thing as when it’s your own parents there to cheer you on.  I played three sports growing up, girls’ softball, tennis and ran track.  It’s a great feeling when you have parents there to support and help cheer you on.  It makes you feel loved, valued, and important.  Try your best to attend every sporting event or special events like Home Coming Dance, Prom dances, Science Fair, Art Fair, Choir Concert, or Band Concerts.  What I mean by attending the dances, I mean by going over to their mother’s house and taking pictures of them before they head off to the dance.  I mean games, not practices, however if you want to attend practices to, that is up to you, but games are more important to attend than the practices.  Your children and stepchildren need that support.  If you have more than one child in sports and you run into a timing conflict, then split up and have one attend one and the other parent attends the other one.  I know it may be hard to attend every sporting or school event they have, but try your best to attend most of them.  When you can’t make it for whatever reason, make sure you tell your child that you cannot be there for it, so they know in advance.  
With our children, one of my daughters is in competitive cheer and my other daughter was in girls’ soccer and currently in the choir and then my stepson is in football and baseball.  Sometimes we have conflicts with the events, but we always to try have at least one of us there in attendance to show our support. Yes, it’s not easy to be there with the ex-spouses but try to look past that and be there for your child.  Just remember your doing this for them.  If you can’t be there for whatever reason it’s not the end of the world as long as you have attended most of the events.  If you tell your child you will come to their event and then don’t show up, it really hurts and disappoints that child. It shows the child that they can’t count on you to be there for them.  Commit to what you can commit to and when you can’t be there make sure you always tell them in advance.  We keep a family calendar that is on our phones, where both my husband and I can put events, appointments or other things on the calendar that way we know what’s going on at all times.  Try to find a calendar application that you can both share on each other’s phones that way you always know what’s coming up or you can buy a dry erase calendar that goes on your fridge, either way, it will help you stay organized and aware of things coming up so you don’t miss them.  Try to remember these events are all about the children and not about you, it's important to be there and show your support and cheer them on every chance you get.

When you were in sports or other activities did your parents attend most of them? If not, how did it make you feel when they couldn't be there for you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mother's Day - Stepmothers Are Mothers Too!

mother's Day, stepmothers are mothers too, stepmoms, stepmothers, blended family, mothers day, step family
Mother’s Day is just right around the corner. It can be a very hard day for us Stepmoms because we are then reminded that we aren’t really our stepchildren’s mother, so we often don’t get recognized or appreciated.  When really we should get recognized, even though we are not their biological mother, we are still a mother; we are special mothers who have chosen to love, accept and take care of our stepchildren.  We take care of them as we would our own children. We also deserve to be honored on Mother’s Day. We would love to get recognized by our stepchildren after all we have taken good care of them and always look out for their best interests. Even some of us Stepmoms have even taken care of our stepchildren even better than their biological mothers have in yet we seldom get any credit or recognition for it on Mother’s Day. To me, Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation to ALL types of mothers and being a Stepmother is still a mother.  Sometimes our husbands don’t realize that they need to be the one to help their children recognize that their Stepmother also needs to be appreciated and recognized on Mother’s Day too.  Sometimes us Stepmoms need to have a talk with our husband’s about Mother’s Day so they know whether or not you want to be recognized or not.  Because sometimes our husbands can be clueless about it and don’t realize how it could hurt our feelings if we don’t get appreciated and recognized on Mother’s Day.  If you are in a new blended marriage, it’s good to talk to your husband about it and share with him your thoughts about Mother’s Day and whether or not it’s a big deal to you.
All it takes is our husbands talking to their children about it and taking them to the store to buy a card and a small gift. The children could even make their own homemade card.  They do sell Stepmother cards for Mother’s Day and even “like a mom” Mother’s Day cards.
I think why it is a hard day for us Stepmoms is because we feel like we are reminded that we are not their real mother, and yet we have all of the same feelings, go through frustration, all of the pain, emotions, financial strain and the difficulty of being a Mother and yet get none of the joys, recognition or appreciation of doing it all. We are Mother’s to regardless if it’s a Stepmother; we are still a Mother after all Stepmother has the word “mother” in it.
My first and second year of being a Stepmother, I got recognized by my stepchildren and it felt so wonderful to get a card that they both picked out for me and a gift.  But then after those two years it all stopped which made me sad and hurt, but I also understood that my stepchildren are going through loyalty conflicts and PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) with their mother which makes it very hard to be nice to me and accept me as a mother too. We always made sure we took our stepchildren out to get something for their mother for Mother’s Day. One year I even took my stepdaughter out to the Hallmark store to make sure she got her mother a card. I feel it is very important that their mother gets something on Mother's Day too regardless of how I felt about her.
We also want to be recognized and treated special on Mother’s Day since we are a mother too regardless if we didn’t give birth to our stepchildren we still love and take care of all of their needs just like a biological mother would do.  This Mother’s Day make sure you honor ALL Mothers not just the one that gave birth to you. Stepmothers are Mothers too.

Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

  • Pedicure & Manicure gift certificate
  • Massage gift certificate
  • Jewelry is always nice
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Perfume
  • Bath & Body Lotion gift set
  • Gift Card to their favorite store
  • Create an Anytime Coupon Book that says stuff like: we do the dishes, laundry, vacuum whole house, clean the house, dust, cook a meal, mom’s day off from all chores. You give it to them so that they can use the coupons any time they like
  • Make a stepping stone for the garden with handprints or footprints
  • Get them a personalized coffee mug with either handprint or picture of the kids
  • Have child make their own card and paint a picture for them
  • Have the kids get their picture taken and get it framed for her work
  • Homemade handprint craft of any kind
  • Handprint flower pot with a plant inside of it
  • Get them something they been wanting for a long time
  • Stitch fix gift certificate
  • Take them out to eat at their favorite restaurant
  • Create some pottery for them from a Pottery store
  • Have the kids bake a cake for her
  • Have the kids cook breakfast and serve it in bed for her
  • Buy her, her favorite bottle of wine
  • Make up a gift bag of all of her favorite candies or sweets
Another Great Idea:
Ladies if you want great gifts, make up a Sizes Card that has a few important things on it:
Clothing Size, Pant Size, Jean Size, Dress Size, Shoe Sizes, Favorite Colors, Ring Size, Bra Size, Underwear Size, Lingerie Size
This size card can go in your husband’s wallet so any time he is at the store and wants to buy you something he knows all of your sizes for everything. Make it a business card size so it's small enough to fit in his wallet. You can even get it laminated so it doesn't get ruined.

Stepmoms - Was there a Mother's Day that you didn't get recognized and how did it make you feel?