Another Month until Iraq

>> Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In about another month, our nephew will be sent to Iraq. I know we're nervous for him but this is what he wanted to do and he's doing it. (We support you, T, 100%!) I've said it before many times but I think military families are made of strong stuff. Parents, grandparents, spouses, and children of these men and women serving overseas during wartime have to have strong backbone!

Whether you believe in the war or not, support the military's efforts and sacrifices please. These men and women are somebody's parent, child, spouse, sibling, etc.



Do you question whether the child you are supporting is yours?

Has the mother of this child ever said or done anything to put doubts in your head? For example, have you ever heard any of these phrases:

  • "I'll tell everybody he isn't yours."
  • "You don't have to acknowledge paternity."

  • "I slept with XYZ."

Did it take months for the mother of your child to tell you she was pregnant even though you were in a relationship with her?

Does/did the mother of your child not want you to have anything to do with this child without reason?

Does your child not look or act anything like you? Does the child look like her ex, her boss, etc.?

There are paternity tests that can establish whether you actually fathered the child you are raising/supporting. There are new procedures that enable you to establish paternity without blood tests now by using hair samples also. There are men who are suing women for fraud as a result of these lies about paternity!

There is a ton of information available on the web concerning paternity testing. You can also contact local hospitals and your county's family services division for more information in your area. Check your state's laws concerning paternity tests.

There is a test that uses hair to establish paternity that seems easier than blood tests though like I said, check with your state's requirements to ensure it is valid in a court of law. There are even paternity tests that you can buy from Rite-Aid now!!


I Stink!!

>> Monday, April 28, 2008

We bought one of our girls a karaoke machine for her birthday. I just tried it. O-M-G!!! I sound so bad. That's not me being goofy or anything saying I sound bad when I don't - I sound horrid. A cat in heat sounds better than my singing. *pouting* I wish I could sing:(


Man Imprisons Daughter for 24 Years

A man abducts his daughter, locking her in their cellar for 24 years, allegedly fathering seven of her children (six surviving) and this man's wife, the mother of this daughter imprisoned, never knew anything about it? She disappeared when she was 18. She is 42 now. No sunlight in 24 years and being sexually abused. She lived in the same approx. 650 sq. ft all this time. Three out of the six remaining children of hers have never seen daylight (the others were adopted/fostered by the abductor).

This man's wife had seven of his children as well. I'd like to know where the other six siblings to this woman are. I'd like to know how this mother/wife lived the last 24 years without knowing her husband was up to something this disgusting and depraved. It really makes me wonder if this mother knew about her daughter being locked away in their house all this time and ignored the abuse. How could you not? Seriously?!?!

Here's the article for you to read yourself at the BBC.

This disgusts me. Totally disgusts me.


Assuming You're Not Mental

>> Friday, April 25, 2008

I just wanted to post that a lot of my posts here assume that both parents are relatively sane and not a danger to the children. If you are dealing with a total mental case who is a danger to the children or you, obviously the rules change.

Just wanted to throw that out there!!


Your Adjustment to Divorce

Do you find yourself still angry at your ex-spouse? Has it been several years since you and your child's other parent split? The first few years will probably be met with mixed emotions. Relief, anger, sadness, hurt, embarrassment, and depression are many emotions you've probably felt at different times if you were the one "left behind". When the other parent remarries and/or has another child, feelings you thought disappeared may resurface again. This is normal human behavior. However, if you find yourself still angry or bitter several years after your split or unable to co-parent with your child's parent, perhaps it is time to take additional action to help yourself (which will help your children also).

If you are the parent who made the decision to leave your child's other parent, you may still feel mixed emotions at times. Trying to deal with the changing roles can leave you angry and frustrated.

If you are the non-custodial parent, you will no doubt feel anger, sadness, and hurt at the loss of the role you were used to playing in your child's life. You might experience guilt watching your children trying to adjust to the changes also. Remember that the time you spend with your child may have been minimized, but your importance to that child has not.

A child needs a physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy parent. If you are locked in your hatred because you perceived the other parent "wronged" you (which may or may not be true), you need to move beyond that and get on with your life. Seek professional counseling or talk to your minister/priest if you find that you can't move on by yourself. Take classes, find a job you enjoy, make new friends. If you are emotionally dependant on your children and use them to fill every void in your life, you are putting the responsibility for your happiness on your children. This isn't their responsibility. You need to make yourself happy.

Do you find yourself always in constant disagreement with your ex? Do you automatically say "white" when he/she says "black"? Is it really that difficult to acknowledge that the other parent may have a valid reason for saying what he/she is saying and it might benefit your children to listen? Chances are, they are telling you this because they care about your mutual child. Do not take it as a personal attack on yourself or your parenting skills. You don't have to agree with it but don't disagree until you've heard their side and discussed it thoroughly. You really aren't helping your children by being constantly combative with their other parent.

Don't surround yourself with negativity. Those people that were of great support to you in the beginning because they agreed with every angry and negative word you muttered may not be the people you need to be listening to five years down the road. Maybe you need an objective opinion...somebody to say, "Hey, it's been four (five, six, seven...thirteen) years. Get on with your life. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and blaming the other parent. He/she has moved on. You need to move on." It's easy to surround yourself with "yes" people when you are having a self-esteem crisis; you want somebody to validate your feelings. If you are still depending on these same people to validate your behavior and feelings five years down the road, you need to take a hard look at your situation. Your family should be supportive but they shouldn't allow you to continue to feel sorry for yourself, remain angry, or refuse to face the truth.

Let your child know that they did not cause the divorce. Let your child know that they are still loved by both parents even though the other parent doesn't live with them anymore. Reassure your child that they will still see their other parent and let them know the schedule. Don't use your child's time with their other parent as a weapon. It isn't yours to use. Give your child permission to love their other parent and any new people that enter their lives. You don't want the children to feel a conflict with their loyalty to you. Don't expect your children to take sides with you against the other parent. Let your child know that they will continue to be loved by both of you and you don't expect them to stop loving the other parent because your relationship with him/her ended (your child's relationship with their other parent didn't end). You don't have to like the other parent but you do need to recognize that your child loves the other parent and accept this.

Divorced parents can get along if they want to though it certainly can take a lot of work and may not be comfortable at first. If they work hard at it (for their children), two parents can learn to co-parent together. This will give your children what they want...both parents involved in their life. Don't try to lock the other parent out because of your anger at him/her. Your relationship with the other parent does not involve the child's relationship with their other parent. Separate your anger at the other parent from your responsibilities you have with the other parent toward your child.

For your child's adjustment to divorce, click here.


Looking for a new blogger templates for all the blogs...

>> Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am having a hard time finding new blogger templates for my blogs that I like enough to try to figure out how to change the html without losing all the coding I've added for everything else. I need three templates. One is obviously for here, one is at Syn's Life and the other is at Everything Ohio.

I did just get Photoshop installed on my laptop, however, I'd like new templates now as opposed to months from now when I find the time between now and then to figure out how to use it all. Actually, it's probably more like year or years as opposed to months for something like that. So I am looking for blogger templates available on the web and haven't found anything that caught my eye and screamed "this is it" at me.

Actually, I have seen two that I liked but they belonged to other people's blogs and I don't steal from other people. So I am off to do a little more searching tonight.


Other People's Kids

My son just came in hurting. A neighbor child just twisted his wrist a few times. He's icing it now and I'm waiting to see if he's going to be able to move it without screaming after he calms down and finishes icing it. The neighbor isn't allowed over for the rest of the weekend.

Our back yard is like a park - all open grass, trees and the neighbors around us have the same. It's really pretty back there. Like I said, it's like a park. However, having all that open land has one drawback - it's easy for neighbor kids to cut through yards from their houses and get to our backyard in no time.

This is just a small part of our backyard. It goes off to the left and far to the right with the whole backside bordering other people's wide-open acreage.

I liked it better when kids knocked at the door and asked to play as opposed to showing up in our yard without permission and then causing trouble.


Beg 4 It Then Complain About It. Kids!!

>> Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My kids begged to get outside when they came home from school. I made them do their homework first and pick up their mess in the living room (it looks like a tornado hit it after they came home). Then out they go. It's not even THREE minutes and they're complaining about how hot it is and do I have popsicles for them (no, I don't).

But it's hot...popsicles would help...puleeze.

Hello - don't have any!

It's 77 degrees outside, they're in shorts, and there is a nice breeze, and they just got outside. It's not like they're running laps out there. After all that whining to get outside, they laid down on the swing because they were "too hot" and sulked (then proceeded to get into arguments with each other resulting in a crying kid). What are they going to do when it is 90 degrees out there? Geez!

So in they came for more chores. Chores always work when they get att-i-tude! They could've stayed outside and enjoyed themselves for awhile before dinner. Instead, they whined, sulked, and argued so now they get chores.

I'm such a mean mommy.


Are You A Good Parent?

Do you try to co-parent with your child's other parent?

Kids today seem to "get" a lot more than we ever did as children. It's expected instead of a privilege in a lot of cases (which I happen to think is wrong - I've personally seen the result of this and it's not pretty). What a lot of kids don't seem to "get" is enough time with a parent and that is so very important!

  • Do you think they'll remember the time you didn't let them see their dad?

  • Do you think they'll remember that they had to hide their feelings for their other parent, step-parent, siblings, to spare your feelings?

  • How about the time you bad mouthed their other parent?

  • How about the tension in the air when their other parent came to pick them up?

  • How about the dirty looks you threw their daddy's way or his new family's way?

Have you done any of this? What kind of memories are you giving your child? What kind of example are you setting? Are you providing them with an emotionally healthy environment? What are you teaching them about love, forgiveness, moving on and living life fully and happily?

These kinds of things can wound a child deeply and leave a lasting, unpleasant memory. Don't do this to your child.

If you want to give your child something important and lasting, I can guarantee you it isn't the best mp3 player on the market (though I'm sure they want that too). It's their other parent. It's time, love, and a role model. It costs less than a mp3 player and will mean more to them for their entire lifetime.


Top 20%

Stepfamily Sanctuary reached the top 20% in blogs the last couple of days with RR. My Life of Syn blog is climbing in ranks too. I'm so excited!! I have a couple more blogs in the works too! I'm finding I like blogging. I wish I would've done this long ago. It's therapeutic. It saves in therapist bills, lol. Sometimes with this stepfamily stuff, therapy comes in handy. I know there's been more than once where I questioned my sanity (ok, maybe more than 50 times).

Now just to keep that ranking (and improve it more) instead of slowly watching it slide, lol...


Earth Day

>> Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I just noticed this saying on my daughter's Seventh Generation baby wipe package today so I looked the company up online and found this graphic.

I thought it appropriate to post on Earth Day as a reminder that what we do has consequences beyond our own lifetime.

Happy Earth Day!


Little One's Birthday

Today one of my kids turns 7. I took her to school today one year older and with an armful of Hannah Montana cupcakes for her classmates. She was full of hugs and happiness this morning, like little girls should be on their birthdays. We're having her birthday party this weekend and her gift has been shipped and should be here tomorrow or Thursday. We bought her a karaoke machine that she can tape herself singing on at the same time. It has a camera on it too. Pretty cool! We also bought her two karaoke cd's - a High School Musical one (of course!) and a girls pop star cd (with all the current pop hits). My little singing superstar is going to LOVE it.

She's growing up. Last year it was baby dolls and cribs and this year it is pop superstar! *sigh* Happy and a sad day for mommy.


Loving A Step

Are you supposed to love your stepchild? Is your stepchild "required" to love you? Is that putting an unfair burden on a step-parent and step-child (and another pressure on your marital relationship that doesn't need to be there)? Let's face it, blending a family is much harder than if it was just your biological children and you. Second families face the same pressures as first families but more when you add in stepchildren and the multitude of problems with them, step-parents, different personalities, different holiday traditions, the financial pressure of supporting two families, adding an "ours" child(ren), and difficult ex's (or if you're lucky, cooperative ex's).

From a step-parents standpoint, that child is not your biological child. The natural and instinctive nature of a biological parent to love their child (most bio-parents anyway), is natural for most people. If you have developed a loving relationship with your step-child(ren), that is wonderful for both the step-parent and step-child(ren). However, if you haven't, don't feel guilty. You do not have to love your step-child. If your spouse expects you to love his/her child, have a talk with him/her; go to counseling if necessary. That's a pressure on the step-relationship that isn't necessary. What is necessary is that the step-parent and step-child respect each other while in the step-parent's household and treat each other fairly.

From a step-child's point of view, a step-parent is not a biological parent and unless the biological parent is unfit, neglectful, or abusive, you will never replace a biological parent's place in your stepchild's heart, nor should you try (or want to). If a step-child comes to love you, that is a wonderful gift. Don't push them to love you and don't make them call you something (mom/dad) they aren't ready or don't want to call you (and may never call you). Whether they call you by your first name, by "mom" or "dad", or by a combination of both doesn't really matter and should be left up to them.

If you give it time and work together, your relationship with your step will form on its own.


Custodial Parents

>> Monday, April 21, 2008

I've seen and heard a lot over the years that has astounded me. I've watched kids get pulled in two unnecessarily. Do you think that doesn't have any long-term consequences? Doing what is best for the kids should ALWAYS be the priority. Here's what I think:

  • When your children leave to go with the other parent, don't stand forlornly behind acting like you are being left out, alone and unhappy. Don't make your children feel they are hurting you by wanting to spend time with their other parent. Make sure that you have a life that continues even after your children leave you and reassure your children that you do. Go out with friends, take classes, do something for yourself. Children will worry about you if they think you are at home and miserable without them. It isn't their responsibility to ensure your happiness. Get a life!
  • When your child's other parent is picking up or dropping off the children, be friendly. You don't have to be friends, but don't act like you're meeting your enemy. Children can feel tension though you may not realize it.
  • Encourage your child's relationship with their other parent. The parent-child relationship has nothing to do with the relationship you had with that parent. Don't confuse the two.
  • Encourage your child's relationship with a new step-parent. This person will have an impact on your child regardless of your feelings. This person will most likely be responsible for your child's welfare at times. You wouldn't refuse to talk to or get to know a caregiver you hire. Why would you refuse to be civil to a step-parent?
  • Respect the time your child spends with his/her other parent. Do not try to interfere with or cancel that time. Your child needs that time with his/her other parent. Don't make visitation difficult for your child's other parent to exercise. It isn't your time to interfere with - it's the child's time.
  • If you have one of those every other weekend, two hours a week visitation schedules and your child asks to spend more time with their non-custodial parent, ALLOW IT. It is what they need or else your child wouldn't ask. It does not reflect on you or their love for you in any way. Don't be so unyielding that you won't allow a minute over what the court order states. Do you really think a bunch of people who don't know your child knows what is best for your child? Most orders are "generic". There is a "standard" because it is easier for the agency to enforce the order (should it come to that); if most orders are the same, they don't have thousands of different parenting time schedules to review each time something occurs. It saves them time! This isn't my view...this is straight from an employee of Michigan's family court agency. I had one employee there tell me that if we can work it out between the parties, don't let the Court decide for you. They're right. It is the bitter person who denies their child more time with their other parent without good reason.
  • A child has the capacity to love many people. Because he/she loves his other parent, his stepparent, his half-sister, stepbrother, etc., does not mean that he/she loves you less. It isn't a bad thing to have so many people loving your child. You should be proud that your child is that lovable! You should be happy that your child is so cared for! Would you rather he be unloved/neglected when he is at the other parent's home? How would it make your child feel if his/her other parent ignored them? How would it make your child feel if his/her stepparent ignored them or treated them differently than their step or half siblings? Do you want your child to feel that hurt because that is exactly what they will feel if this happens?
  • Do not ask your child questions about the other parent's home, personal life, etc. It isn't your child's responsibility to provide this to you and it isn't any of your business.
  • Even though you may not like the new person in your ex's life, recognize that person for what they contribute to helping to raise your child. They do have an influence on your child's life whether you want to admit that or not. Constantly excluding them or ignoring them is petty. If you are old enough to be responsible for a child's life, you are old enough to act like an adult. You are a role model for your children. Is this how you would want them to behave?
  • Get to know your child's stepparent if they have one. This person will have influence on your child's life and ignoring that fact will not make it untrue. This may be the person who will help care for them should something happen to you. As a biological parent myself, I couldn't imagine why I wouldn't want to know a person who would have so much influence and contact with my child. Why wouldn't I want to know the person who is fixing meals for my child, drying their tears when I'm not there, and helping to tuck them into bed at night when they aren't with me? You would take the time to get to know your child's day care provider and teacher...why not a step-parent? If you think a stepparent doesn't have any influence on your children or any responsibility for their care, you are choosing to stick your head elsewhere!
  • If your child's other parent can't afford to provide a few extras (or just hasn't), send a few of your children's things with your child that will remain at the other parent's home. It will make your child feel more comfortable when he/she goes there. Having a few extra sets of clothing at the other parent's home will make your child feel good and will reduce the hassle of having to make sure clothes are washed and packed for your child's departure to their other home. (When we did this, it was a great relief not to have that bag going back and forth and made the kids feel like they had a home with us too.)
  • Involve your child's other parent. You want to pierce your daughter's ears? Talk to the other parent. You want to enroll your child in a sport? Let the other parent know and offer their involvement in the practices, games, etc. Send copies of the game or practice schedule to the other parent. Keep the other parent updated on the child's activities, school (send copies of report cards, school newsletters, graded assignments). Offer to allow the non-custodial parent take the child to his next medical check-up instead of you. Is there a school field trip coming up? See if your child's other parent would like to take them this time instead of you. It could make a world of difference in the relationship you have with your child's other parent (and will mean much more to your child). That will make a world of difference to your child.
  • Put yourself in the non-custodial parent's shoes. How would you feel if you could only see your child on a very limited schedule, with little decision-making ability, and little (or no) involvement in their daily lives. If you couldn't see them every morning when you wake, how would you feel? How would you feel if you had to send support to the other parent but had no control over how it was being spent on your child? If you take advantage of our messed up family law system, don't act surprised to feel resentment from the non-custodial parent. Because the adult relationship did not work, he/she has lost a lot of his parent-child relationship rights and responsibilities. It doesn't have to be that way. It is up to you to make sure it isn't. Your children deserve that.

Being a parent is about giving your child the best of what you are capable of giving them in order for them to grow to be healthy (emotionally and physically), loving, happy, responsible adults. Denying a child the opportunity to be mutually raised by their other loving, responsible parent because of your own insecurities and bitterness is horrid. Using the law's inefficiencies to further your revenge against the other parent is the worst way to parent your child. You may be capable in every other way of parenting your child, but when you deny them (or interfere with, or have little regard for) the love they need from the other parent and their other family (yes, they do have another family beside you), you are denying them the most important part of themselves - they are half of that other parent too.


I Did My Part...

...the rest isn't up to me.

I went through the calendar and got the dates for my stepdaughter's summer band activities nailed down with her instructor so hubby would know what days (weeks) his kids could be here without it interfering in my stepdaughter's summer band schedule. The alternative is the court ordered time. Either is fine with me. I don't have a preference myself, however, I know the "band" will be an issue for denial so I got the dates together as an alternative to the court ordered time to avoid that mess. Personally I think any summer time here will be an issue (not on our end) but whatever.

I gave the dates to hubby. I also gave him the insurance/provider information for my stepson's issue that requires some medical attention.

I passed it on. Where, when, and if it goes from there and the result of that isn't my problem right? It's not up to me. Not my problem. I did more than my part.

Five more years... Yes, I'm counting.


Quotes, Advice & Words of Wisdom

I like to keep track of quotes, advice, etc. that have some meaning in my life at one time or another. Here are some of them:

The goal is to promote peace and love in this world. We must also live by the natural laws of this world as well. It is inappropriate to attack others, be it physically or psychologically; however, it is appropriate, and necessary, to defend ourselves when we are attacked.
--Author Unknown

Freedom from tyranny should extend to your home and children, and YOU are the only guardian of your child's mind and heart.
--Author Unknown

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
--Hebrews 11:1

They who feel no shame in doing what is obviously wrong , are the most shameful of all.
--Author Unknown

We are a product of the choices we make, not the circumstances that we face.
--Roger Crawford

"No one can make you inferior without your consent."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
-- Corrie Ten Boom

He who forgiveth, and is reconciled unto his enemy, shall receive his reward from God; for he loveth not the unjust doers.
-- Koran, sura 42

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.
-- Josh Billings

Always forgive your enemies--nothing annoys them so much.
-- Oscar Wilde

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
-- Alexander Pope

Hatred is self-punishment.
-- Hosea Ballou

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
-- Buddha

Hatred is the madness of the heart.
-- Lord Byron

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
-- William Congreve

Hatreds are the cinders of affection.
-- Sir Walter Ralegh

Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.
-- George Bernard Shaw

I shall never permit myself to stoop so low as to hate any man.
-- Booker T. Washington

You cannot hate other people without hating yourself.
-- Oprah Winfrey



>> Friday, April 18, 2008

What is the discipline policy in your blended family household? Do you and your spouse present a united front to the children or is discipline a source of tension in your household? As a bonus parent, do you discipline your step-child? How does your step-child react to being disciplined by you? Does the child's biological parent (your partner) support you? Does the child's other biological parent support your involvement in discipline?

Let me state that when I say "discipline", this only includes appropriate (legal) forms of discipline and does not include any type of abuse.

When you first meet your step-child, the biological parent should handle discipline (unless the misbehavior occurs when the stepchild is in the step-parent's care and the biological parent is not home).

After the "step" relationship has been in existence and established firmly, I believe that it is appropriate for a step-parent to discipline a step-child. However, there should be certain guidelines:

  1. The biological parent and the step-parent should discuss inappropriate behaviors and decide on proper discipline routines to use beforehand so everybody (parent, step-parent, and child) knows what is expected of them.

  2. The biological parent should support the step-parent's decision to discipline and the action they take ("united front").

  3. If the biological parent disagrees with an action the step-parent has taken, the bio-parent should never indicate this in front of the child (again, "united front").

If you can keep the discipline policy between the two homes consistent and similar, it would make the child's life a little easier. Sometimes, you have one household who doesn't discipline at all or finds some behaviors acceptable while you would find them inappropriate. If that is the case, stay consistent within your own home. Children can adjust to different routines. I believe it is more effective if both homes back each other up on discipline, but we know this type of cooperation is hard to obtain.


Introduce Your Baby

Having a baby is such an exciting time. It must be because I've done it four times. With the first baby, we had a big baby shower for all our invited guests. After our children were born, we sent all our family and friends announcements. We were quite the proud parents each time.

If you are planning on having a baby or are due soon and are excitedly looking for the best place to buy your baby shower or baby birth announcements, check out Wedding Needs. They have the most adorable announcements - pink, blue, green, yellow, purple, cute, elegant - whatever you are looking for whether for an adorable baby boy or girl! If you are a proud grandparent, there is a grandparent announcement card to announce your grandchild to the world. What a great idea I wouldn't have thought of! You will find everything you need to design the invitations for your baby shower and announce the birth of your baby boy or girl.

Their web site is easy to navigate and includes an online proof system. They provide a 24-48 hours turnaround time so you don't have to wait long at all. It almost makes me want to have another child.


Happily Married

>> Thursday, April 17, 2008

Staying happily married despite the chaos...

How do you keep your marriage strong when "outside influences" would like nothing more to see it fall apart and do their best to wreak as much havoc as possible in your life?

First, stand UNITED with your spouse/significant other against these "outside influences"! This is so important. You need to act as loving partners, respectful of each other's feelings and views, and supportive of each other. Make decisions together.

  • I did a "poll" on some message boards and a major issue that can cause problems is when your significant other (the bio-parent) excludes their new spouse/significant other in discussions and decision making.
  • A second poll asking stepmothers how much involvement they have with helping their spouse with issues that concern the ex and the kids showed that all the stepmothers had full involvement with their spouse- - - watching the children, feeding the children, bathing the children, taking the children to appointments, etc. Every stepmother in the poll indicated that they did 99% of the written communication for their husband to the courts, attorney, and ex (whether the ex liked it or not). It was a mix on verbal communication...some ex's were better able to talk to a step-parent instead of their ex for making visitation arrangements, etc. while other ex's and step-parents didn't have verbal communication with each other if they could help it.

Second, communicate, communicate, communicate!

Third, even though life is very busy with your own schedules, your children's schedules, your parenting time/visitation schedules, you MUST make time for BOTH of you to spend together. Yes, you're a manager, somebody's boss, somebody's father or mother, but you are also your spouse's best friend and lover. Don't forget that. Because you now have kids in the picture and an ex (whether it be a cooperative ex or hostile ex) doesn't mean the fun don't stop being friends or lovers!

Next, put your relationship with your spouse/significant other FIRST. You're relationship is the "foundation" of your family. If it falls apart, your family will to. Do you want your kids to experience another loss?

Unfortunately, remember that a bitter ex may be creating problems with the intent of trying to ruin your relationship. Don't give them the satisfaction and allow them that much control over your life. They may be the child's other parent and always will be, but that's it. They don't belong in the rest of your marriage or family.


Thyroid Keeping Hubby Up

My husband told me a little while ago that he almost slept upstairs last night. When I asked him why, he just looked at me. My snoring. *sigh* If he falls asleep before me, it's not an issue for him (usually) but on his current work schedule, he's coming in after I am already sleeping so he's stuck listening to me.

I know "why" I snore - I have several nodules on my thyroid that are affecting my breathing when I sleep. I never snored before that.

I've thought about having the surgery done to remove my thyroid since it's not working anyway (I am on daily meds for the rest of my life). Snoring isn't a good enough reason to risk surgery but I am also worried that the nodules may be or could develop into cancer. If I have it taken out, no more risk. If I don't have it taken out, the big "C" word will be a worry for me all the time. That "C" word scares me, especially since I have four young kids.

I can't believe I snore! How embarrassing.


Anti-American Idol

>> Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am in the minority I think. I am NOT an American Idol fan. I watched it some the first season but it didn't do anything for me. So, I didn't bother with them after that. However, family and friends make time in their schedule to make sure they don't miss it. I don't get it!

Maybe it's because I met one of the second season contestants after she was booted - had her into my home and she opened for my husband's band. I couldn't stand her (and I won't even go into what I thought of her live). I will just say that on American Idol, they must really do some major editing, not to mention walk them through the whole process in baby steps to make them seem more professional than they are. OMG! *big gross shiver here* Maybe she soured me on the whole show.

I don't know for sure why. I'm just anti-American Idol I guess.


Bite Me

>> Monday, April 14, 2008

Our youngest is turning three next month. She was sitting on the dining room table yesterday instead of the chair. Dad tells her to get off of the table. She says no. Dad says yes. She says, "bite me."

You KNOW you aren't supposed to laugh, but how do you not?

Out of the mouth of babes.



>> Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sharing physical custody of your children takes effort and sacrifice. It takes a lot of effort to set aside bitter feelings for an ex and arrange schedules to fit everybody's needs. It takes a great amount of integrity for a person to set aside feelings of anger and bitterness at an ex to work together with that child's other parent. However, it can be done; unfortunately, many ex's haven't reached that level and many never will. Getting back at the ex is sometimes the choice before the kids. Though you may feel like you are "getting back" at the other parent by turning your child's other parent into a "visitor" by refusing to allow them to spend adequate time with your child, the children always lose in these situations.

If parents can get along and work together, according to studies I have read (check the library and Internet...information is unlimited) and people we have talked to who do share physical custody, sharing physical custody of your children is going to give them what they need the most - - access to both of their much loved parents. It is going to give them a better chance at a brighter future. It is going to keep them surrounded by the love of ALL of their family. The parents we've talked to who share physical custody say their children are happier. Children in these situations also say they are happier.

For custodial parents, put yourself into the future. Your son is now 25 years old and is the father of an adorable baby boy/girl. He is the non-custodial father who is only "allowed" to see his child (your grandchild) four overnights a month and maybe 2-3 hours on a day once a week, this is assuming that the child's mother doesn't interfere in any of this time or deny your son his time with your grandchild. How does this make you feel? If our laws don't change, OUR CHILDREN will be living the lives we are living today, struggling to make ends meet, constantly in conflict with an ex, and fighting for every last minute of time with their child with a vindictive ex and a biased family court system more intent on ensuring money keeps coming into them (and job security) rather than the best interests of your child. Do we want people who have never met our children dictating to us what we will and will not do or can and can not do for our children? Don't we want our children to grow into happy adults and to have a life better than ours? Are we being good role models for this to happen?


Non-Custodial Parent

>> Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tips for Non-Custodial Parents

When you pick up or drop off your child, be civil to your child's other parent. Even though this may be difficult at times, make an attempt. Your children feel the tension even if you don't realize they do.

Children will worry about you if they think you are at home and miserable without them. It isn't their responsibility to ensure your happiness. Let them know that you're ok. On the opposite end, they might also feel like you have created a new life for yourself and there isn't any room for them anymore. Reassure them of your love for them even though they can't be with you all the time. Send them notes through the mail. For the small price of postage, it is well worth it. We send my stepchildren inexpensive gifts, notes, cards, etc. through the mail. We let them know that even though they aren't here with us, that we are thinking of them. (My stepdaughter asked me once if we would keep doing that because she likes it.)

Encourage your child's relationship with their other parent. The parent-child relationship has nothing to do with the relationship you had with that parent. Don't confuse the two.

A child has the capacity to love many people. Because he loves his other parent, his stepparent, his half-sister with that other parent, etc., does not mean that he/she loves you less. It isn't a bad thing to have so many people loving your child. You should be proud that your child is that loveable! You should be happy that your child is so cared for! Would you rather he or she be unloved/neglected when at the other parent's home? How would it make your child feel if his/her other parent ignored them? How would it make your child feel if his/her stepparent ignored them or treated them differently than their step or half siblings? Do you want your child to feel hurt? A child's love for somebody other than you should not be a source of insecurity and it's not a fair burden to place on the child.

Do not ask your child questions about the other parent's home, personal life, etc. to be nosy. It isn't your child's responsibility to provide this to you. There is nothing wrong with showing a genuine interest in how your child spends their time, has fun, etc., but don't pry into your ex's life!

Make an attempt at involving yourself in your child's life. Contact the school (see here). Ask your child how his day/week went. Don't just ask yes or no questions. Let their custodial parent know that you are available to care for the child instead of a babysitter. Let the custodial parent know that you are available to take them to a medical check-up, to their next field trip, etc. Your interest to do so may be ignored, but at least you made the attempt. Nobody can say dad (or mom if mom is non-custodial) didn't try to be as involved as possible in his or her children's lives (at least without lying). If your child is involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, go to the games (shows, etc.). Unless there is a restraining order, you can go to any public place where your child may be playing football, dancing, etc. to watch your child the same as the custodial parent can (at least in Michigan anyway...check your state but I would imagine most states are similar).

Try to have a few things at your home for your children that they can leave there. It makes it feel more like home to them. We've provided my stepchildren with beds, toys, toy boxes, bikes, posters on their walls, etc.

Don't buy, buy, buy for your children. You don't need to buy their love to prove your love. If the other parent tries to do this, there isn't anything you can do about it. Try to teach your children values - respect, love, kindness - instead of materialistic "values".

Set rules the same as you would if they lived there with you full-time. They should have the same rules as the other children living in your household. Give them certain responsibilities while they are there (clear the table, feed the dogs, clean their rooms, etc.). Children can understand that there may be two different sets of rules at each of their parent's homes if both parents weren't able to come to agreement on having similar rules and routines in the home. Don't worry that they may not love you anymore if you don't let them have their way all of the time. You will create a monster if you give in to them constantly. How is that teaching them the real meaning of love, of responsibility, of family?

Sometimes, your child's other parent may do or say something that will anger you to no end. Recognize the anger, express it if you need to (not in front of the children), correct the situation if you can but then let it go. Move on. Don't let the other parent have that much control over your emotions.

If you are remarried, recognize their needs as well. They are taking on the role of parent to children they did not give birth to and that they don't have that automatic "bond" with that most parents have for their children. They will need your support (and they will offer you support). Communicate with them. Do not leave them out of the loop. If it is going to affect their life also (which it will if you are living in the same house), they have a right to have their voice heard. Talk to them before making decisions that will also affect them. Don't assume that they should love your children. They may not. They don't have to. If love comes, that is wonderful. If it doesn't, that is fine too. There should be a mutual respect shown between stepparent and stepchild, but there doesn't have to be love. Don't allow your stepchild to run your household (and run all over their stepparent). Stand united with your spouse where it concerns the children. Do not let the children see you at odds with your spouse over something that concerns them. Children know how to find weak spots and take advantage of them. Setting one parent against the other is normal whether they are a part of the "natural" family or "blended" family. Just don't give them too many opportunities to do so. It is great to spend one on one time with your child, but don't exclude their stepparent all the time. You are now a family. It won't be the same type of "family" that your child may have been used to, but it is your family now and everybody will (hopefully) adjust to their new "blended" family if the adults adjust well to it.

Recognize the anger and hopelessness you may feel at being left out and turned into a "visitor" to your child. HOWEVER, also recognize that the people who turned you into this "visitor" (the other parent and the adversarial family court system) are hopefully the ONLY ones who see you this way.


Just Ignore This, lol.



A Child's Adjustment

>> Friday, April 11, 2008

There is a syndicated columnist named Tom McMahon who has a web site called KidTips. He wrote an article about minimizing the negative effects of divorce on children. The article is right in my opinion. Here is a summary:

Mr. McMahon believes that how well the ex-spouses support each other as parents, coexist and accept their ex-spouse as important to the children is one of the strongest determining factors for the child's adjustment.

He also believes having consistency between the two homes in terms of chores, discipline, rules, meals, and bedtimes is secondary in importance. He feels keeping similar family routines is best for kids.

Finally, he believes in authoritative parenting - warm and nurturing, encourage communication but set clear and appropriate rules for kids.

This is what my husband and I have been saying for almost 13 years now. In fact, we have mounds of letters to the ex asking for much of the same thing. It did no good. I guess because it was coming from us. All three of these important points weren't a consideration for one half of our equation for co-parenting all these years. How well do you think that decade went for the kids and us? I'm sure you'll only need one guess.

The article is right on I believe, but the problem is what he writes doesn't usually happen. There needs to be a lot of change in the family court system and laws to lessen the antagonism between the parties and ensure both parents are equal parents with equal responsibility. That doesn't happen when you give one parent 95% of the decision making authority (and that parent uses it to their advantage and as a weapon) and the other parent becomes nothing more than a visiting extended family member to the child instead of a parent.

For your adjustment to divorce, click here.


Almost Lost the Pup

We have three dogs, two of which are larger dogs. The third, the youngest, is a little thing as you can see in her picture. She is a Sheltie/Beagle mix with cute, funky eyes.

Our dogs go outside on a heavy-duty 20 foot tie-out cable when they go outside. When the weather is nice, like it is now, they enjoy laying out there. This morning I am sitting here in my living room and look out on the upper deck and see the little pup up on the deck - where the tie-out can't reach...unless it's snapped. It had.

We were SO lucky that she came to the door and wanted in. She could've easily wandered off and been struck by a semi (we have a semi-truck route nearby) or met up with a coyote and been a scooby snack. I am very surprised actually that she stuck around. She's only about six months old - a little spaz of a dog. I'm glad she came back. She's my daughter's pup and it would've broke some hearts if she'd been lost or hurt.

So off I went right away to buy another tie-out at the farm store. As heavy-duty as I can get for the dogs while I figure out how to pay for a fence to fence the yard in so the dogs can run safely around and not worry about them getting loose. I need reinforcements since obviously the heavy-duty tie-outs only work for so long before they crease and snap.


Child Abuse

>> Thursday, April 10, 2008

I posted some informational links on keeping children safe from abuse. I thought I'd post a link here too. It's important information that anybody with children should be aware of.

Information to keep your child safe.


Not Even A Thank You

After receiving an email from the ex about arranging the return home of the kids (you know, the email SHE is allowed to send but dh can't - - he has to personally call her and chase her by phone), my husband was at work for the rest of the night when that email from her was received and wasn't going to be able to answer it. Since the kids were going home early the next morning, I had to handle it (yeah for me). I sent the ex-girlfriend the specifics (time kids were leaving here, time they would be meeting her, where the meeting place was and two maps of the route/meeting place). Pretty nice of me huh? After all, I'm just the wicked stepmother, her ex-boyfriend's current wife (she liked to call me his "current" wife like there is going to be another one after me, lol). Considering she couldn't drag him down the aisle, it's pretty funny.

Anyhow, do you think I received a response back from my husband's ex-girlfriend after she received my emailed response back with all the arrangements? Perhaps a "thank you"? Most people would use basic manners right? Nope, nada, nothing.

Was I surprised? Nope, nada, not at all. There wasn't an audience so she didn't have to pretend to be something she wasn't with us.

I'm just the stepmother - not important at all. We don't get thanks for anything. That would be too civilized.


Don't You Hate It When Part II

>> Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This is the second post to my "Don't You Hate It When..." reader participation post. ( The first post is here.) This is a popular issue.

  • You step child shows up with clothes and shoes 2 sizes too small and you are going out to a function with them looking like that!

  • Your husband and in-laws let your obese stepchild eat and eat and eat what ever she wants all day and then she comes back to your house and cries herself to sleep with a belly ache and wakes you up at 3 am to tell you she has to throw up and proceeds to do so on your NEW $200 dollar comforter set and favorite slippers! HELLO! This is why she is 8 yrs old wearing a size 16 in girls!

  • You buy your step child new clothes or sneakers and they make it out of your house and into the ex’s for you to never see them again because one of her other 8 children has them on!

  • When your stepchild comes to your house and steals and your husband doesn’t lift a finger to discipline the child after you caught her red handed!

  • You can’t put your pajamas on and walk around the house or have a private conversation with your husband because the nosey information gathering (for the ex) child is lurking around YOUR house!

  • You can't keep your plans or take your kids where you wanted to go because the ex couldn’t take no for an answer that he would pick the demon up next weekend!

  • When your in laws treat your new baby and the stepchild better than your child from a previous marriage and your husband says nothing to them!

  • When your stepchild gets in front of your in-laws and morphs into a loud mouth demon! Instead of the quiet serpent she is at your house.

  • Don't you hate it when the ex-wife involves you (the new wife) and then doesn't like the way you handle it?? I really hate it that she keeps coming back for more support (which she gets) and continues to lay around, get fat, and not work? Then keeps sending e-mails nickel and diming for medical 1/2...$12 here and there...AND we have to deposit into
    her account because that is the way the agreement was made!!! We do her banking,

  • Your husbands ex has nothing good to say about you yet expects you to take care of the kids when they are sick while SHE sits at home (on our dime) because "it's not her day" to care for them.

  • When the ex psycho makes friends with the (first) ex psycho (yes it's true) who hated each other with great vengence toward each other (the stories...) and then when the guy gets voluntary custody of one of the ex's kids 9 who's ADHD and ODD and has never in his life shown empathy (hurting animals burning the garage) (and becomes Obligee & Obligor for two sets of kids) that the two Psycho's become best friends to manipulate the whole system and use information on each visitation to "tag-team" you from both sides (which benefits them greatly) and to top it off then they both secretly report false physical child abuse because "privacy law allows annoymity" and you and your spouse spend two years defending accusations (clearly false and proven over and over again) yet because it's family law you never get back a dime of the money you had to spend on lawyers to fight all the spun poison (60, 000 dollars) ?

    Yeah ... I hate it when that happens.

    We just filed restraining orders.


This is the end of Part II. If you would like to add to this with your own experiences, comment below and I will start accumulating enough for a Part III.


Data Destruction

Can you imagine what would happen if all of the confidential information left behind on hard drives at all the attorneys (solicitors in other parts of the world) who handle family law cases, such as ours, were stolen? Even our children's information, as part of a family law case, would be in jeopardy! What happens when attorneys throw obsolete computers away? Without hard disc data destruction, the potential for identity theft is huge! Not just attorneys but other businesses such as corporations and insurance companies carry quite a bit of personal data for quite a lot of people.

One way to ensure the destruction of this data is to clean the data from hard drives. It takes a specialized software in order to do this and not leave remnants behind that a general lay person wouldn't realize but identity thieves would.

Another option is the use of industrial shredders. I am not talking about the small paper shredders we can buy anywhere. Industrial shredders can not only shred hard drives but the back up tapes and cds we've used to back up those hard drives.

Finally, a third option for destroying personal data is to put this hardware into a furnace where they are smelted. This ultimately destroys any chance for an identity thief to get hold of them.

Enviro Friendly Computing, Ltd. does all of this and they do it "green" which means they do business with the least amount of impact on the environment within the computer world. In my world, it means recycling plastics, glass, and paper which we do here at home and our children's school. In their world, it means reducing waste, recycling, and reusing by supplying refurbished computers, digitalising data to reduce paper use, collecting empty toners, and more.

It's important for businesses to take the initiative to operate with the least impact on the environment as they can have a huge influence on our supply of natural resources. Enviro Friendly Computing, Ltd. conducts business in a responsible manner and cares about the environment.



The following is from several years ago. I would be interested in having updated statistics.

Here are some very good reasons on why fathers and children need each other, need contact with each other, need to spend time together, etc. Basically, give your child the relationship he/she would have had with their father had the marriage/relationship continued. The child's relationship with their parents has nothing to do with the parents relationship to each other. Your children deserve that much.

Reprinted with permission from ACFC (American Coalition for Fathers and Children):


"In a study of 146 adolescent friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent families are not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, when compared to teens living in intact families." Source: David A. Brent, (et. al.) "Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims: Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34 (1995): 209-215.

"Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide." Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, D.C., 1993.

"Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent."Source: Jean Beth Eshtain, "Family Matters: The Plight of America's Children." The Christian Century (July 1993): 14-21.

"A family structure index - a composite index based on the annual rate of children involved in divorce and the percentage of families with children present that are female-headed - is a strong predictor of suicide among young adult and adolescent white males." Source: Patricia L. McCall and Kenneth C. Land, "Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult, and Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?" Social Science Research 23 (1994): 57-81

Many statistical studies have shown that children who grow up absent their fathers are more likely to:

  • Fail at school or drop out.

  • Experience behavioral or emotional problems requiring psychiatric treatment.

  • Engage in early sexual activity.

  • Develop drug and alcohol problems.

  • Experience violence.

  • Commit suicide.

  • Be victims of child abuse/neglect.

  • Up to 60% of male rapists grew up without fathers. (Life Without Father, Nicholas Davidson)

  • Up to 75% of adolescents charged with murder grew up without fathers ("Characteristics of Adolescents Charged with Homicide", Dewey Cornell, Behavioral Sciences and the Law 5)

  • Up to 70% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up without fathers (Family Correlates of Social Skills Deficits in Incarcerated and Nonincarcerated Adolescents, Adolescence 29, M. Eileen Matlock)

If these statistics don't scare you into doing what is best for your children, your children deserve better. Do you think that is callous? Too bad. This isn't about what is best for you; it's about them...remember? Your children's happiness depends on both parents involvement!


Holding Kids Accountable

After seeing again on the news this morning about the story of kids beating another kid, it got more thoughts rolling.

Accountability. Consequences. Empathy. Do kids know what these two words mean? Even more than knowing the definition, are the concepts applied in your home with your children?

Definitions as taken from

  • Accountability ~ the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.
  • Consequences ~ something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition.
  • Empathy ~ the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

When a child is not held accountable for their actions with no consequences for bad, aggressive behavior for years and excuses are offered while the child was let off the hook for every misbehavior and harm caused to other children, it can result in innocent children requiring medical and mental health care. When the mental health providers feel that without being taught empathy, a child like this would grow up to be a criminal yet a parent changes nothing, and does nothing and helps with nothing, what does that say about their ability to parent responsibly? Is it any wonder society is seeing an increase in crimes by children? Will these children grow up to be supported by the taxpayers in prison?

It is very frustrating to know this and be able to do nothing. It is heartbreaking when the victim of the behavior is your own child.

In a stepfamily situation, you not only are dealing with the wrong behavior, but trying to navigate the minefield that is working with the other parent to modify the behavior and teach right from wrong. In a lot of cases, this isn't possible unfortunately and quite sadly. It is very sad when an adult's ego or anger get in the way of helping their child, when it is easier for the other parent to butt heads with the other parent rather than work together to change the situation for the misbehaving child, to help the child learn right and wrong.

When did it become wrong to discipline a child? When did it become wrong to give your child rules and expectations? When did it become wrong to give your child consequences for misbehaving? When did it become wrong to act like a parent?

It seems to me that kids are given everything but a lot of them don't have any expectations placed on them for earning these things in the first place, or expectations on behavior in order to keep them. For instance, how many kids are walking around with video game systems, mp3 players, and cell phones? Now how many kids did anything to earn those privileges or keep those privileges?

It seems to me that "privileges" are taken for granted as necessities anymore by children. They don't "want" these things; they EXPECT them. As far as I am concerned, these things, and a lot more, are privileges. To receive them, you earn them and when misbehaving they are easily removed from the child as consequences.

Let's talk about empathy for a minute. Why is it that children are not being taught empathy anymore? How can children harm other people without feeling any remorse? Why aren't children being taught that other people have feelings and needs? How scary is that?!? I've watched a child harm other children and show no emotion or feel no regret. I've seen the dead look in the eyes that appears to show no conscience. It is very scary to experience this firsthand. These children who don't feel empathy may grow up to be adults who don't feel empathy. Isn't that a criminal in the making?

Let's look at a few more definitions:

  • Sociopath ~ a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
  • Psychopath ~ A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.

Take note of words in these two definitions: "lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience" and "amoral behavior without empathy or remorse." It looks like we as a society are breeding a whole slew of sociopaths and psychopaths right now. I hope that's not true. I really do. I have little faith of that though.

With the rate of divorce and stepfamily situations, with the state of the family court where the non-custodial parent is basically stripped of some of their basic rights to parent their children while the custodial parent holds most of the cards, and then add into that the level of anger and bitterness that infuse a lot of these divorce/stepfamily situations, it's a ticking time bomb for a lot of people.

I'm not saying "all" because there are some divorced or separated parents that work well together for their children or parent responsibly when the other parent isn't available for whatever reason. It's just not the norm and in these situations, the kids are stuck in the middle of a no-win situation for anybody. One parent may be getting what he or she wants with their anger or bitterness and think they have to one-up the other parent or stick it to them whenever they can, but they aren't winning anything. They are crippling their children emotionally. Everybody loses eventually. The child loses. The other parent loses. The "winning" parent loses by parenting ineffectively. Society loses when these children grow up to repeat the cycle.

I know crime happens in all types of families regardless of race or income, however, I would like to see statistics in kids of divorce or separated parents and kids who grow up without a parent. I really would.


School & the Non-Custodial Parent

>> Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are you involved in your child's school? As long as there is not a court order prohibiting the non-custodial parent from doing so, he/she has this right. It is called FERPA. It stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

To become involved, we have met with success by doing the following:

First, contact the school and your child's teacher. (We did this by letter initially.) Let them know who your child is and express your desire to be involved in your child's education and to meet with them at parent-teacher conferences (we do this separately from the other biological parent).

Request that copies of any school newsletters, report cards, school photo order forms, etc. be mailed to you. (We gave the school a small fee during the kids' elementary years - $10 I think it was then or a school year's worth of self-addressed, stamped envelopes - at the beginning of the school year to cover the postage.) This gives you additional contact with the school and is much better than waiting for the other parent to provide it to you, when they decide to do it and if they decide to do it.

We also sent a letter to the school for my stepchildren's files that included contact information for their non-custodial biological parent and step-parent. Even if their custodial parent did not include us on the emergency card, which happened consistently, we expressed our wishes to the school and provided them with the information should they choose to use it.

My husband let the school know that I (stepmom) could represent him should he be unavailable. The ex didn't like it but most teachers had no problem talking to me when my husband couldn't be there to do it himself. Legally I don't believe they have to though so don't push it if met with too much resistance or else you will seem unreasonable. Ultimately, it is up to the biological parent to stay involved.

If there are any problems that you feel might affect your stepchild's behavioral or academic progress, let their teacher know. Be honest without derogatory comments about the other parent (bite your tongue if you have to...hard!).

Ask your child about his/her day at school. Help them with homework if the parenting time schedule allows.

Attend the school's Open House that most schools have annually. It is a great way to make your presence known right at the beginning and to start forming a relationship with your child's teacher.

Take turns with the other parent taking your child on the school field trips. The ex wouldn't give up even one field trip in all those years to let dad do this but maybe you'll have more luck reasoning with your ex.

Make your best effort.

The child's other parent may resent a "step" parent's involvement. However, if you have your spouse's support, continue to stand by his/her side for parent-teacher conferences, help your stepchild with homework, etc. Maybe one day your stepchild's other parent will see your involvement as beneficial to his/her child and realize that it isn't a bad thing that so many people care about his/her child and appreciate it rather than resent it...maybe, maybe not...don't hold your breath.

You may or may not be met with cooperation from the school. However, we rarely had any problem with my stepchildren's school and teachers. It was mostly positive. When my stepdaughter's school would mail us information, they even addressed it to both of us. I, as the children's stepmother, have never been excluded during communications with the school.

If you do run into a problem with the school, read FERPA. Ensure you are not violating any part of this Act and forward a copy of it to your child's school. Advise them that you would like to exercise your rights according to this Act. Contact an attorney for information on FERPA if you feel your rights are being violated.

Contact an attorney with any questions you may have. Review your state laws. Each state may differ; each school may differ.

My stepdaughter's preschool teacher told my husband and I that he was the first non-custodial parent she had seen come to a parent-teacher conference (and her first students were now sophomores in high school). I hope that more non-custodial parents will take the effort to do this. As the kids get older and into junior high and high school, teachers may not take the time to send newsletters and such. They figure the child is old enough to tell your him or herself and they have so many students that it'd be too difficult. However, schools are online now so you can check the monthly newsletters and calendars and keep up to date without having to rely on the ex sending you information.


Child Abuse

I was going to cross-post this but then decided just to post a link here instead:

Two Year Old Child Fatally Abused.

This makes me sick to my stomach and so angry.


Kids Beating Kids

I watched a video on the CBS News this morning of teenage girls beating another teenaged girl and videotaping it. The "reason" for this was because the victim had posted a comment on her myspace. The video was very disturbing. You can probably see it for a little while at CBS News .

Words VS Beating

Yeah, that sounds fair. Huh? What are these kids thinking? Do they not "feel" anything?

These kids lured her there to beat her, even knocking her unconscious after knocking her into a wall - six teenaged girls inside with two teenaged boys outside as lookouts. Eight teenagers are facing charges for battery and false imprisonment and may be charged as adults. What is wrong with kids today that they can do this? What is wrong with society that this is happening more and more?

The officer interviewed said the girls who did it were laughing at the police station. One even asked if she was going to be able to go to cheerleading practice the next day! Another joked about missing their spring break. Where have some kids lost that emotional connect? Do these kids not feel anything? The officer interviewed said they showed no remorse. Kind of scary huh?

Allegedly the victim posted on her myspace page afterward "hahaha all in jail". I haven't seen the myspace page but this is what the article I linked to above posted.

Is it a select few kids who have that emotional disconnect and lack of respect for human life or are more kids at risk? Are we raising our kids right? Something obviously isn't working. I'd like to know how these teens were raised, what the parenting skills were, what the family dynamics were. I'd really like to know why these teens didn't feel any remorse while doing this.

Are the teens to blame? Do their parents have any blame?


Chelsea Lately

>> Monday, April 7, 2008

Chelsea Lately is coming on in ten minutes. This show makes me cackle like a loon. The first 15 minutes are hilarious around the roundtable. The last half is when she interviews a guest and that can be great or not so great depending on who or what they're doing, but it is definitely worth checking out.

Chelsea Lately on E!
Chelsea Handler

You can also check out videos on YouTube.

This isn't "step" related but it is a nice half hour of laughs so you can forget blended family chaos for a short time.


Are you marrying a non-custodial parent?

If you have plans to marry a non-custodial father, you have my sympathies. Unless the ex-wife/girlfriend is a saint, it isn't an easy road. If anybody asks me about it, I usually tell them to RUN and RUN FAST. If you aren't going to run away, I'd definitely run to a great therapist. You'll need it. Your marriage probably will too. Your kids probably will too.

That's sad.

I love my husband and we've been married six times as long as he and his ex-girlfriend were even in a "relationship" (if you call picking up somebody in a bar and getting her pregnant and then hating the time you've forced yourself into spending with her a relationship) but I wouldn't do it again with somebody else. If something were to happen to my husband or my marriage and I was faced with a relationship with another non-custodial father, I'd run away and fast.


What's Good for the Goose...

...isn't good for the gander.

You might remember my complaints about whenever my husband would email his ex-girlfriend about the kids, she's reply to telephone her (see here, or here). She won't discuss things with him via email if he emails her about them. Yet! Yes, yet, since those emails from her requesting HE call HER, she's emailed him twice about the kids. Twice! Once was about making arrangements for their pick up to go back to her house (shouldn't she have called him like she's insisted he do?) and the other was to let him know about something my stepson signed up for. So, he has to chase her with the telephone because she supposedly isn't home and won't return phone calls even though she requests he call her but she doesn't have to call him when she wants to discuss the kids with him. It's totally asinine.

Can anybody say double standard? She should try to live up to the standards she expects of other people. Her standards for herself are set too low and her standards she expects of other people are so high they couldn't possibly meet them to her specifications. She can make rules for him but do whatever the heck she wants to? I can't wait for the day when she gets put in her place again. It's coming. I hope my husband does it and I hope I am there to hear it. Otherwise, karma is coming if he won't do it. I've done it before and would enjoy doing it again. Nobody deserves it more.

Oh yeah, she also scheduled and took my stepson to a doctor's appointment without advising my husband about it first the way she's supposed to. This wasn't some last minute, emergency visit either. Can anybody say "violation of legal custody"??


Don't You Hate It When...

This was a very popular part of my former stepfamily web site. Readers enjoyed including their own personal "don't you hate it whens...." to the web site. You can add your own by commenting! If I get enough of them, I will make another post and include them in their own post.

Don't You Hate It When...

  • The other parent ASSUMES they know what goes on in your household?

  • The other parent tries to run your household?

  • The other parent tries to DEMAND things from you that they have no right to anymore?

  • The ex-signifcant other lies to the kids about you.

  • The bio-parent of the same sex thinks you are trying to replace them. Why would she think that and what makes her think I'd want her kids (brats)?

  • You pay your support in full and on time consistently yet still receive support arrearage notices because support enforcement departments can't keep their records accurate and custodial parents won't lift a finger to help fix the problem when they can do it easily. (This is a common problem...believe me!!!)

  • You become a "wallet" to your children's mother...good enough to provide financial support but not good enough to be a positive influence in your child's life emotionally, mentally, and physically.

  • You are the one who struggles and sacrifices to better yourself in your job and the ex is the only one that benefits when she gets support raised because you've worked and sacrificed for a better position? Be much does it cost to raise a child? BOTH parents need to be equally financially responsible for their child. Any support that goes above the "half" of the non-custodial parent's responsibility is nothing more than spousal support for the custodial adult and not the child. As a woman, I would have more pride in myself and my abilities to take care of myself rather than mooching off an ex. Where are these women's pride and dignity?

  • You have to see your ex several times a month and act nice to them even though you can't stand them?

  • Your ex acts so pathetic when you are there to pick up the kids? I'm not there to see her, or play games with HER, I'm there for my kids and MY KIDS only! Does she really think I'd ever have feelings for her again after what she's put me and my kids through?
    I hate it that my ex acted fine until the time I fell in love. After that, it was all hell breaking loose with her trying to cause trouble and blaming my new love for everything...even the end of our own relationship that had nothing to do with my new love!

  • Both homes have two entirely different discipline policies? My children's custodial parent doesn't know the meaning of the word "discipline".

  • The ex feels threatened by a step-parent? My ex feels threatened by my wife and her relationship with the kids. Ex thinks that stepmom is trying to take her place with the kids. My wife loves my kids, but she doesn't WANT my kids for herself. She likes it when they go back to their mother's house. If the ex would get over herself and her own bitterness, perhaps she'd see things more clearly, she'd quit acting like a spoiled child and try to get along. If she did, she'd be surprised at how wrong she's been all these years.

  • I just hate my husband's ex period...she is a controlling, bitter, frigid witch who has nothing better to do in her life than be vindictive. She has no life at all! My husband, who is a very nice, fair person calls her "psycho". (I think that speaks clearly on how he feels about her character and actions).

  • As a new step-parent you are expected to know all of the "rules", yet no one can actually tell you what they are?

  • The ex-wife says to you ( the new wife) "if it wasn't for you, me and my ex would still be friends (together, happy, etc.) even when you had nothing to do with their divorce?

  • Ex- wife says "my son/daughter doesn't need anything from you" to new wife.

  • Don't you hate it when the ex uses your child support payments to buy new expensive things for herself and drops the kids off at your home wearing clothes that are 2 sizes to small, wearing boots that belong to their mother and when you ask them if there getting new clothes for the winter they respond with, "well mom said you aren't paying your support so we have to go without", even though your child support comes off of your paycheque automatically.

Would you like to add your thoughts here????
If you'd like to add to this, please feel free to add your comments.



Are you a step-parent ("bonus" parent)?

Do you find yourself taking on a lot of the responsibility that biological parents take on with little acknowledgement? Do you find yourself wiping snotty noses, sitting up with a sick child, cleaning up vomit, trying to get grass stains out of pants, helping to provide financially for a stepchild, giving hugs, fixing boo-boo's, wiping tears, fixing lunches, jumping up in the middle of the night if your stepchild cries out from a bad dream or to kill that spider on the ceiling, transporting your stepchild around town, etc? Do you find your weekends taken up by messy art projects, walks around the neighborhood with children, trips to parks (zoos, etc.)? Are your vacations planned around and spent with your stepchildren? Boy, that sounds like something a parent does, doesn't it?

Being a stepparent can be difficult. You have much of the same responsibilities of a parent, but not the acknowledgement of being one by many people or the recognition by the family court system. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive husband who treats me as an equal parent with him. I am acknowledged for my parenting skills by my husband. We each bring different but necessary qualities to our parenting roles with ALL of our children.

Even though you may not get the acknowledgement from that child's other parent, remember that it doesn't change anything within your family home. Forming a relationship with a child who you did not give birth to takes much more effort than what a "natural" parent must put forth, but when that love is offered to you from your stepchild, it gives it a special meaning for that same reason. Acknowledgement from the same sex other parent isn't important. It doesn't have any impact on my relationship with my stepchildren and that is more important to me. My life with my stepchildren doesn't revolve around what the other same gender parent thinks of me.

I've sometimes been the "parent" my stepdaughter has come to with something she didn't feel comfortable talking to her biological parents about. (I know this because she tells me she doesn't want to talk to her mother about it.) When my stepdaughter presents questions to me (where do babies come from, why can't we all live together, why don't I have a stepfather, why can't I stay here forever, why, why, why, etc.), this indicates to me that my stepdaughter loves and trusts me.

Communicate with your spouse about the children. Be open and honest about any concerns or problems you may have. My husband has always listened to my concerns. He respects me, my feelings, and our family time. If something affects me and our family (financially, parenting time, etc.), he discusses it with me first, invites my input, and we come to an agreement together. (After all, my husband may not know what family plans have been made for a weekend that might be switched, what holiday plans are made, the state of our budget, etc.) There are times when your spouse might slip and make a mistake that makes you feel slighted, but if you talk to him about it, the willingness to listen to you is very important. The other parent may resent your input but don't let it bother you. How you choose to relate to your spouse and your family within your own home is your business...not the ex-wife/husband or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend or anybody else's.

Present a united front to the children. This is very important so the children do not play one against the other. If you and your spouse disagree on a topic, do not discuss it in front of the children. Tell the children you will need to discuss it and that you will let them know later. Also, check with your significant other if you are asked something from your stepchild that you are unsure you should agree to (and vice versa). My stepchildren have tried a few times to ask me something that I refuse and then go to their father and ask him for the same thing! When this happens, correct the situation immediately. My husband always supports a decision I have made if the children try to come to him after already being told "no" by me and vice versa. Biological children do the same thing. It isn't a "step" situation only.

If your stepchild comes to you about a problem with their other parent (mother or father), encourage them to discuss it with that other parent themselves. Perhaps you could offer suggestions to them on how to broach the subject, but try not to step in and do it for them (unless the child is being harmed or could be harmed). The child will probably have better luck resolving the issue with the other parent themselves rather than you stepping in and creating a situation where the other parent rejects the input/problem just because YOU broached the subject (does he/she say "black" when you say "white"?).

Don't talk negatively about your stepchild's other parent no matter how tempting! Keep negative comments about an ex-significant other between your spouse and yourself. It will hurt the children to hear negative comments about their other parent (even if it is true). My husband and I have had to do "damage control" in the past for things they have overheard from others outside of our home. Don't put your children in this situation. It isn't their problem that the adults can't get along; don't make it their problem.

View your stepchild as an individual. It may be hard at times to look at them and see their other parent staring back at you. Learn to separate the child from their other parent. This may be hard to do in the beginning but you can do it! Look for the qualities in your stepchild that came from your significant other. He/she does have half the genes of that person.

Support your stepchild's relationship with his/her other parent. When my stepchildren were younger, I would buy them craft supplies and sit with them and help them make their mother things (cards, art, etc.) for birthdays and holidays. We are creating our own memories together that they will hopefully remember when they are adults. She doesn't do anything like this for me but that doesn't matter. Who will have the children's respect when they are old enough to understand that despite everything, their dad and stepmom still didn't act hateful?

This is OUR family, just as you have YOUR OWN family. People can only do what you allow them to do to you. Don't allow them that much control over you or your household.

Though this may be a hard one but turn your anger into compassion for a hated ex. I don't mean to have compassion because they continue to TRY to make your life miserable. I mean to have compassion for whatever it is inside of them that they can't get over or move on with and that they can't find the happiness that you have found, obviously, or else they wouldn't be trying to make your life miserable (and not succeeding!). That makes them kind of pathetic doesn't it? Somebody to feel pity for! Don't waste your time on anger though I know how hard that can be sometimes (from personal experience).


ISR - Saving Children From Drowning

>> Sunday, April 6, 2008

I am cross-posting this from my other blogs because I think it is amazing and scary and good information to know.

I read on Witchy Mama today about ISR. ISR stands for Infant Swimming Resource. It is an organization dedicated to preventing infant drowning by teaching infants and children from age six months to six years how to swim and save themselves in an "accidental water encounter". Their web site says they've taught more than 160,000 children these skills and documented 784 cases where children have saved themselves.

Parent Testimonials

Watch this video! It is hard to watch for me as a mother so be prepared. You might get a little choked up.



>> Saturday, April 5, 2008

A child needs to feel love from both of their parents. It is to their benefit that their two parents can work together for the sake of their child and leave the relationship baggage in the past. Suggestions for co-parenting:

  • The focus is your child. The focus is not who was always working, who didn't help with chores, who didn't pay enough attention to the other, who did what, etc. while you were a couple.
  • Do not use your child to hurt the other parent.
  • Communicate in a positive manner.
  • Do not bring up the past. Your child is your future and that is all that matters.
  • Prepare your child for visits with the other parent. Be positive.
  • Encourage your child's relationship with their other parent.
  • Encourage your child's relationship with their step-parent(s) and other siblings. It is in your child's best interests to have a friendly (if not loving) relationship with their parent's other family members.
  • Be friendly to significant others in your ex's life. You don't have to like them but you don't need to show your kids that. They are a part of your child's life now. It is in your child's (and yours) best interests that you get to know this person. They may be spending a lot of time with your child, taking care of your child, etc. They will have an influence on your child whether you want to accept that or not.
  • Share information with the other parent, including school schedules, day care schedules, doctor appointments, extra-curricular activities, etc.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Share routines of the household (your child's bedtime routine, disciplinary styles if possible). Keeping consistency will help the children adjust.
  • Do not talk negatively about the other parent in front of the child.


Stepmom Bill of Rights

Stepmom Bill of Rights

The Stepmom Bill of Rights is very popular in the "step" world. You will find it posted all over the Internet. The original author is unknown. (If anybody knows who originated this, please let me know. I'd love to give credit.) This list is probably posted all over the United States on refrigerators everywhere. What it boils down to is basic respect. Respect the rules. Respect the relationships. Here is one version of it:

  1. Our marriage is our first priority, and we will address all issues together.

  2. I will be a part of the decision making process in my marriage and family at all times.

  3. People outside the immediate family, including ex-wives, in-laws, or adult children cannot make plans that affect my life without my consent.

  4. I will not be responsible for the welfare of children for whom I can set no limits.

  5. I must be consulted about which children will live with us, when they can visit, and how long they will stay.
  6. I will not solely be responsible for housework – chores will be distributed fairly.
  7. Others may not violate my private space at home, nor take or use my possessions without my permission.
  8. I will never be treated as an “outsider” in my own home.
  9. My husband and stepchildren must treat me with respect.
  10. I will be consulted on all family financial matters.



>> Friday, April 4, 2008

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