Stepson's Gift Made It - Eventually! Unexpected Bonus!

>> Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What a mess.  FedEx damages my stepson's gift, order a new one and the store sends the wrong one so we order another one from a different store to make sure my stepson has it to open xmas morning and FedEx delivers it to the wrong house and loses it! I handled all the ordering, FedEx both times, the store, etc.

Why even though I didn't want to? Because my husband asked me to and with his 3rd shift schedule beating him up physically, and he doesn't ask for much, I couldn't say no. It would be hurting him, not the ex or the stepchild who doesn't thank me ever.

He did get his gift in time to open it xmas morning though!  Wow!  What a fiasco!!

Through this mess, the ex and I actually communicated (via email but it was direct communication rather than her addressing my husband through my email), joked a little and I sent her a small box of chocolate as a bit of stress reliever (chocolate is great for that!) for all the stress this put us all through. She thanked me first through my stepdaughter who was there when her mother opened the unexpected box and then via email.

Do I expect it to last? This might've been a one-time thing but the kids saw their mother and I communicating like normal people (it's never happened before) so not only did I help lighten my husband's load, it led to something totally unexpected which was good for the kids.  Perhaps it'll lighten the load of responsibility and loyalty they've struggled with.  Perhaps not. Only time will tell.


What's a bookworm to do?

I am a huge bookworm and can never throw out a book.  I even have a blog about books! It seems like a sin to do that or something! I have a couple bookcases full of books and then more in storage in box after box.  I'm not sure why I don't just sell's not like I'm going to use my textbooks from college and by the time my kids are in college, they'll be totally obsolete.

Do you know of anybody who makes money from doing this regularly?  I know of one person but I've not heard of anybody else yet doing this successfully.  It's a thought since I have so many books and can probably get my hands on many more. With six kids, we can definitely use the money!


Finally stepson will have his gift (I think).

>> Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What a hassle it's been getting my stepson his gift. I ordered it online and it was damaged when we received it. It took a few weeks between then and us receiving its replacement from the company. That came the day before yesterday - AND THEY SENT THE WRONG ITEM. Trying to get a replacement between now and Christmas and with mail time to return the item, then the mail time from the store to us to send another one and then us to my stepson would make it late. So, I had to order (and pay for) a new one and have it shipped directly to the ex's house. Good thing I had room on a credit card or else I would've had to do a check by phone. We wanted to wrap it and ship it ourselves but it would have been late unless we paid major bucks to send it by air each way (which I'm not doing after all this hassle - a guitar amp is heavy!). I've now paid for TWO of these things when we only needed one. We're going to use the second one (the wrong one) for our daughter's guitar. It definitely wouldn't have been our first choice (or any choice) for an amp for her but I'm tired of dealing with this store already!

...and I didn't even want to be the one ordering the gift for my stepson to begin with but I did it for my husband. I need to remember this for next year.


Psycho Ex Christmas Carol to Silent Night

>> Sunday, December 13, 2009

I read this on The Psycho Ex Wife and thought I'd share the link here. There are probably many here who can relate.

Psycho Ex Christmas Carol Series: #2 Silent Night


Great Spike in Traffic. Thanks!

>> Saturday, December 12, 2009

My blog just saw a lot of traffic from a link somebody posted on a forum linking the Disengaging Essay on my site here (see link in left margin). I love it when traffic like that hits my blogs because I know it's other stepparents. When people google an oddball word not related to blending families and it hits my blog, those people bounce away. While I appreciate the traffic, I don't want a high bounce rate. Step-parents don't bounce as often.

When an ex like some of the ones we complain about hits my blog, oh boy can the 'you know what' hit the fan with nasty comments. Since I don't approve the comments that contain a handful of cuss words because I don't want strong cussing on my blog, you guys don't see them (you're missing out on some laughs though...sorry guys).

Another way to bring traffic to a blog is through a web directory. I haven't tried that yet. This blog does really well in traffic. It's the best in terms of traffic over all my other blogs. That's kind of sad to think there are so many stepmoms having problems blending, dealing with an ex, or dealing with their spouse over their dealing with their ex. Why can't we all just get along? You don't know how many times over the last 14 years I've thought that.


I Won't Forget to Finish Our Story

>> Friday, December 11, 2009

I started "our story" and haven't finished it yet. I'm so behind with blogs right now. This is my reminder to myself to work on the story of the next part of our lives after dating a man with kids and an ex. It'll be marriage to a man with kids and an ex!

It takes time to dredge up memories and go through the feelings so I need to be in the right mindset to do it. Would I do it again? Would you?


I'm Not MIA

>> Thursday, December 10, 2009

I haven't been updating as much as usual the last two weeks. I have started a new job and my blogs have been sliding a bit. I have to get organized!

Christmas shopping is under way. I'm only about a quarter done though. I did end up ordering my stepson's gift for my husband and it came damaged. Then I had to go back and forth between the company we bought it from and FedEx to get it returned and replaced. We're still waiting for the replacement to arrive. Boy was I regretting getting involved and getting ticked (my own fault though for doing it in the first place against my better judgment). I did it because my husband asked for my help. My stepson only thanks my husband, ignoring me entirely so I didn't want to bother. If he does it again this year, I plan on telling my husband that from now on it's his full responsibility. I'm not a doormat for his teenaged son (unless I choose to be...ugh). Pulled between helping my husband and putting myself out there for my stepson to snub me. What a place to be!

I've managed to lose ten pounds! I am SO excited about that. I changed my thyroid medication and it's really helped. No, I don't mean weight loss pills. I have thyroid disease and need thyroid hormone replacement therapy daily to regulate my hormone levels.

My husband gave me an early Christmas present too. He bought me a tiny Pomeranian and chihuahua mix puppy. She's about a pound or two and will get to be 3-5 pounds full grown. She's adorable and follows me everywhere. I haven't named her yet. I'm having a really hard time coming up with one that just feels right. I think he knows the struggle I go through with his kids/ex situation and this was his way of trying to make up for it. When we had to move for his job, he got me a horse three years ago. He gives good gifts!


Ex Translation

>> Thursday, December 3, 2009

I got this information from the insurance company ~

Once a week chiropractor visits (our translation) for my stepdaughter translates into this in the ex's mind:

First Week: 2 Visits
Second Week: 3 Visits
Third Week: 3 Visits
Fourth Week: 3 Visits
Fifth Week: 2 Visits

I will never grasp what goes through that woman's mind. Need attention much?


My Dream Property

I'm looking forward to the future - to the point in time when child support is done so we can afford to get out of this too-small house and into something big enough for all of these kids. When my stepkids visit as adults, I'm sure there will be significant others coming with them. If our current house isn't big enough for just us, it's certainly not big enough to start adding other people into it.

I want five bedrooms, at least two full baths (one has to be a master bath), maybe three, with a family room in addition to a living room, a huge kitchen (with an island) and a finished basement. I want it on at least ten acres with several out buildings for horses and a goat my husband wants (I don't know why he wants a goat but he wants a goat). I want the barn made of cement block so it'll withstand storms and be cooler in the summer and metal buildings for storage for tack and hay and another for an indoor arena so we can ride practically year-round. I also want hot water running to the barn. That's my dream. Reality will be a lot different but it's nice to dream once in awhile.


Calling Her a Twit is Nice

>> Monday, November 30, 2009

My stepdaughter was going to a chiropractor for TMJ and possible scoliosis. The ex told us her doctor and chiropractor (where her family member works) said she had scoliosis. We were told the chiropractor visits were once a week and once a week is what we agreed to pay half of after insurance. In that time period, the ex also started taking my stepson to the chiropractor because she thought he had the same problem as my stepdaughter and he had bad posture. She didn't give hubby a chance to agree or disagree before she took him like she is legally bound to do. The the pediatric orthopedic surgeon who saw my stepdaughter said there was nothing wrong with her back. There's also nothing wrong with my stepson's back other than the need to tell him to stand up straight! Unbelievable!!

Fast forward to now...we get an Explanation of Benefits for my stepdaughter for two months worth of visits. She wasn't going once a week as the ex told hubby and what he agreed to pay for. The ex was taking her every 2 - 3 days! What the heck? In addition, because of all these visits, the insurance company isn't paying them - they're doing a review on the case.

Nice! We agreed to once a week! If the insurance company refuses to cover most of these visits, all I am writing a check for is one per week, as we agreed upon. The ex can stew in her lies and pay the cost.


3 Month Til Braces Off

>> Saturday, November 28, 2009

Three more months and my daughter gets her braces off! It's been a long time coming. It's taken years to get to this point.

She needed to wear a palate expander for awhile which actually separated the roof of the mouth to widen her mouth. It had a little key that I had to twist that slowly widened the palate, breaking it apart. She'd just lay there with tears rolling down her face while I did it. I'm glad I didn't have to do that for very long. I felt so guilty, but she just didn't have enough room in there for all of her teeth. She had too many of them crammed up in her gums, unable to drop down.

Then she had the brackets put on for braces. All the teeth dropped down where they were supposed to but one. They had to cut into her gums and go in to pull one of the teeth down.

She's excited to get the braces off. She'd have preferred Orange NJ invisalign but she has the metal braces. She hasn't been able to eat anything chewy or hard. She's done great - hasn't broke even one bracket!

Now I just hope her teeth aren't stained when the braces come off.


Happy Thanksgiving Stepmoms!

>> Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow stepmoms out there!

I hope today is a day without stress for you, that you have the family you want gathered close, and that you have all you want to eat until you need to unbutton your pants to sit down!

For those braving the airports to get out of town for some vacation fun, you are very brave. Like Black Friday, which is something I prefer not to participate in, lines at airports at this time of year is another.

If you're on your way to a nice vacation where the sun shines bright with no ex's in sight (I made a rhyme), enjoy. Pack the shorts, men's sunglasses (don't forget your own too), sunscreen, and leave all the conflict with courts and ex's and stepkids behind.

We are spending it at home this year - my husband, myself, and our own four children. Like the last few previous years, it will be without stepkids. I used to get upset over my husband not having his kids here when it was his legal time because of his ex. Not this year. I'm letting that go this holiday and enjoying my own family together and making memories and traditions with our own kids.


Thanksgiving Holiday Starting

>> Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Foods have been cooked and put into the fridge for easy heat up tomorrow. Pies are waiting for us all to dig in. I'm ready to spend some time with just my husband and kids tomorrow enjoying the holiday together.

I looked up the hot searches on the Internet right now and as you can imagine, it was all about Thanksgiving. People are wanting to know what the turkey roasting times are, what are good recipes for green bean casserole, deviled eggs recipes, and traffic reports.

I can understand the food stuff. People are gearing up for the biggest eating day of the year but traffic report? With the economy the way it is, I would think traffic would be way down this holiday season due to finances. I know we can't afford to go see family for Thanksgiving (or Christmas). I guess others are luckier. I hope so. Huh, maybe they didn't marry a man with kids and a child support bill for 18 years, lol. I'd love to take a road trip away from everything for a long weekend. Update the rv insurance and head out of town and have fun! Not this year.

We will be spending it at home together. No family is coming to visit because everybody's finances are stretched or they have their own out-of-town guests coming. I don't mind spending it with just hubby and our own four kids. It's quite an appealing thought actually. Bad stepmom!


Good Detox Suggestions?

Over the last couple years, I've taken a more active interest in my health because I'm tired of pharmaceutical companies and doctors pushing drugs, drugs, drugs on us all the time. I am not actively managing my thyroid disease myself using more natural means as opposed to synthetic. I've stopped using fluoride toothpaste because of the effect it has on iodine and the thyroid (you should google it...makes you wonder why it's in our drinking water). I've wanted to look at detox products as well but I never know what is real and what is just disgusting lies.

Does a body need detox? Does your body take care of that fully itself? Does detox rid the bodies of toxins and metals? What about parasites? I'd like to know more myself. I'm curious to find out if this is important and helps your health or not.

I found a colon cleanse review site but wanted to see what other opinions were. What do you think? Is it good for the health? It is necessary? Does water flush the body sufficiently or is more needed with all the chemicals that hit our systems on a daily basis?


No Party Favors for 17th Birthday

My stepdaughter's 17th birthday is next month. I doubt we'll even be seeing her for her birthday. We haven't spent her birthday with her in 3 - 4 years now I think. Between her mother and her teenage life, she doesn't want a whole lot to do with dad or younger siblings anymore. Legally, she's supposed to spend it here every other year but they've learned it's not pleasant for them emotionally to leave their mother. What a sad way to grow up.

She's almost an adult now so at this time, it's pointless. She'll have her friends to hang out with. They days of balloons and party favors is long over for her until she's engaged with everything that goes along with that. Oh well. We still have our four kids who don't need to worry about being caught in the middle.

It's a celebration for us too - it means one more year to go before half the legal obligation with the ex ends. I can't wait!!


Putting Distance Between Us

>> Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wouldn't you just love to pack up your stuff, hire some long distance movers and move far enough away from the ex to where you could have your own life, a life for your family, without the daily conflict?

When the company I worked for was bought out and I was offered a management buy-out, I took the money and we moved to where the jobs were. My husband drove back and forth every other weekend for his kids and we were able to get some version of "normal" for our own kids in longer duration as opposed to daily stress from having to deal with the ex almost daily.

Distance saved my sanity. It gave my kids a normal family life. It likely saved my marriage because I'd have walked before I'd let that daily hostility continue to affect my kids (that's a whole other story that'll make your jaw drop).

I'll get into that more when I finish the story I started the other day.


Our Story, Dating Dad, Part I

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

I was recently asked to write a post about how it felt to be dating a man with children (when I didn't have my own) for others to read who are childless but dating somebody with children. I've put it off for awhile because it I had such mixed emotions during that time. First I'll give you the background and then tell you what I learned going through it all. Here goes...

When I was dating my husband, he was anxious for me to meet his daughter. We'd fallen in love quickly and he wanted to keep moving closer to marriage. The first time he wanted to introduce us, I told him it was too soon. It was too soon in our relationship for me to meet her and too soon in our relationship for this little girl to meet me.

It was a few months later when I met her. She was shy but wanting to be friendly. She shyly offered me some of her candy corn. She melted my heart and I quickly fell in love with this little girl a little more every time she was with us. She loved me right back.

When she'd get to our place, the first words out of her mouth when she came in the door was, "Where is Syn?" Then I'd hear little feet running through the apartment looking for me to give me a big hug. We spent a lot of time together. I wasn't her biological mother but I loved her and she loved me right back. That doesn't mean I wanted to replace her mother - not at all.

She wasn't supposed to love me. She wasn't supposed to talk to me. The ex wasted no time in making that point known to the child. The little girl was upset. I was upset hearing this little girl regurgitate, what an adult who should've known better, had told her to say. Tears were shed knowing that it had started - the use of a sweet, innocent child for an adult's purely selfish reasons. I remember exactly where it happened - it was in the Pizza Hut parking lot where we used to live. We drove home very sad. My husband talked to his daughter about what she'd been told and it wasn't how the little girl felt. She was doing what she'd been told to do. There were a lot of hugs between the three of us and we kept going forward. It's a time I've never forgotten in all these years. It was the first real ding in my rose-colored glasses and that ding was going to spider across the glass of my rose-colored glasses quickly.

It didn't stop there. Her mother tried to accuse me of hurting the child physically. She threw what my stepdaughter called "fits of the head" about me to her when she was with her mom. The ex tried to withhold my stepdaughter from her dad if I was going to be there. Seeing as how we lived together, my being there was a definite. The ex would call repeatedly at night to see if I was there but we'd ignore the phone. The ex would call his family claiming he wasn't paying her support when he was (and had given her an open letter asking her to fill in the amount she wanted to put into an agreement between them officially as well). I believe there were many of those types of calls to his family because the relationship with his family was strained. It hurt him to see that they didn't ask him for the truth or support him. My husband frequently asked me to marry him but I refused. The situation was so uncertain and difficult with his ex. I needed to know that she wasn't going to come between us. I needed to see that HE wasn't going to let her come between us.

I also couldn't understand how somebody loving a child was a bad thing. I frequently wondered at the ex's behavior because it seemed like she'd prefer it if I treated the child indifferently or badly.

I loved this little girl and her dad but the ex was doing everything she could to make everything difficult. It wasn't until my husband gave up trying to work with the ex and getting beat up emotionally that he filed in court to get visitation and child support established legally that I agreed to marry him (yes, he WANTED to get it in a court order...he's not a deadbeat and the ex wouldn't agree to a child support amount or visitation agreement). He had tried to work WITH her but she wasn't willing so he took it to court. When I saw that he wasn't going to let her lead him around, we got engaged.

If you read my blog, you know I have a stepson too. Are you wondering where the stepson was in all of this? I'll tell you...

The ex had asked my husband to give up parental rights to his son. He refused. The ex withheld his son from him for the entire time we were dating and engaged. He'd go to pick up his daughter and have to leave his son behind. She wouldn't allow him to take him too. She told my husband that if he didn't love her (the ex), he couldn't love his son. She threatened to tell everybody he wasn't my husband's son if he tried to get visitation (should've gotten the paternity test then because that's always been a question in my mind after she said that). That went on until the courts forced her to hand him over to his dad. That was four days before we married. She'd withheld him for six months from his dad.

The interference and other behaviors didn't stop with getting married. I'll write more later. It's upsetting to rehash all this in my mind. I miss that relationship with my stepdaughter. She was a sweet, loving child until she was forced to choose or else be emotionally torn apart. No child should have to go through that. No parent should have to fight so hard or be treated so badly just for the right to be able to love their own children.

To read Part 2, click here.


Grow Lights for African Violets

>> Saturday, November 21, 2009

Who can keep African Violets alive? I can't. Every time I have one of the plants, it dies. Is it too much water? Not enough? Wrong light? I don't have grow lights and my kitchen isn't set up to bring in good morning light except over my dining room table to beam us in the eye every morning. I don't want a flower garden on my table. Actually, my living room isn't set up for good light either for plants.

Besides the lack of a green thumb, my house set up works against me. I tend to think that it is more that I forget about them and then over water to compensate for my negligence that kills everything green in my house as opposed to being houseplant-friendly-housing challenged..


Texted Birthday Wishes

It was what I expected - my stepdaughter texted her dad for his birthday. I was really hoping to see a card show up in the mailbox today. It could've been just a sheet of paper with "Happy Birthday" handwritten on it or even an ecard; just something that says 'I took more than ten seconds out of my day to think of you for your birthday.'

I know they do more for their mom for her birthday. Heck, they give their dog a birthday party!! Dad rates below the dog and yet they're emailing us their xmas lists? Coal sounds good for xmas this year.


Hope Stepkids Remember Dad Tomorrow

>> Friday, November 20, 2009

Here's to hoping that the stepkids remember dad's birthday tomorrow. At the most, I'm expecting they'll send a text to their dad tomorrow to wish him a happy birthday! They couldn't be bothered to do anymore than that for Father's Day so I don't have high hopes that they'll actually spend any time on making a card or anything like that. Their dog gets a birthday party but Dad doesn't get squat. It would be nice to have a birthday card sitting in the mailbox tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath. They haven't sent him a card in...ever!

Makes me want to tear up their xmas lists just thinking about the last several years when they've been old enough to know better. Maybe they'll surprise me tomorrow.


What are the "must have" Christmas gifts this year?

What are the "must have" Christmas gifts in your house? Every year, there is usually one gift that many parents go all out in finding their kids. I remember years ago, it was Elmo and then another year, it was Furby (I remember I looked online and in all the area stores the month before Christmas for those things for my stepkids trying to find them in stock).

My kids have various things on their lists this year. Some of them want guitars and cell phones. My son wants a Wii (he's dreaming). My stepson wants a guitar amp. My stepdaughter just has CD's and DVD's on her list that she gave us but my husband is supposed to talk to somebody at work about a used saxophone he had up for sale awhile back. She mentioned awhile ago that she wanted one (she plays clarinet now and can easily switch over). I'm hoping this guy has one in great shape for sale. That'd be perfect.

I have no idea what to get my four-year-old yet. She'll be easy enough I think - any toy commercial that comes on is a toy she wants.


Out of the Mouth of Babes

>> Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My four-year-old daughter just came up to me and asked:

"Mom, will it hurt when I have a baby and go to the dentist so they can get it out? Can I just let it fall out?"

Oh, if only childbirth was that easy, lol.


Won't Move Closer to the Stepkids

>> Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My kids asked me the other day if my stepkids could move to the house three doors down from us so they'd be close. The younger kids didn't understand that the ex works in another state and it would not be possible - ever. We didn't explain to them why we'd never move closer to the ex again.

We used to live two blocks from the ex but things were SO hostile, it was a huge source of stress and frustration on a daily basis. We moved after we'd had to call law enforcement over it so the thought of the ex living THAT close to us again - no thank you. Now she's just a source of stress and frustration several times a year!

We've talked about moving back closer to the kids several times. I'd have to work outside the house again instead of working from home. I'd probably also have to get a second job pursuing life insurance leads for business on top of it because the area where my stepkids live has been hit hard economically in the area my husband and I worked in. Moving closer is probably an impossibility really and certainly not worth risking our own four kids' well-being (if we want to keep a roof over their heads, which we do). Give up stability and security for hostility from the ex and indifference from the stepkids? No thank you.


Checking Out Xmas Present for Stepson

My husband asked me yesterday to look for the best prices for a guitar amp for my stepson for Christmas. He is asking for a Roland MicroCube Guitar Amplifier but my husband didn't clarify which one. The micro cube can be found for $114 but there are other Roland Cubes for close to $200. I'm partial to the $114 price myself.

He never writes. He never calls. He never texts. We don't exist for him until it's time for presents. When I sent them stuff before, he only thanked his dad. It makes me a bit hesitant to spend a lot of time shopping for him, ya know? I'd rather just leave it up to hubby to find the gift for his son but then I'm the Internet shopping guru so I can find the best prices and promo codes for things. He doesn't know how. It'd save us money if I did it. However, my annoyance factor would have a cost all its own.


Clothes, Men's Sunglasses, Bicycle and Car

Children are the number one fight between divorcing or separating parents. However, a lot of people fight over their belongings during a break-up. Every item in the house, including the house, becomes the object to fight for when anger takes over. Things you rarely looked at become all-important. I'll bet many people end up paying more for their attorney to lead the fight than an object is even worth (except for sentimental pieces...that's hard to put a price on).

When my husband left the mother of his two children, he took very little: his clothes, his car, his mountain bike, some child pictures, and his sunglasses. What was she going to do with Men's Sunglasses? He started over completely. He left the house that he had legal right to over her and all its furnishings to the ex-girlfriend without looking back. He just wanted out that badly. That's a pretty good indicator of their relationship eh? It tells me he had no emotional connection to anything he had with her or anything they'd bought together (or her), that it must've been pretty bad to just leave with what you could pack up in one trip and that he wanted no ties to her at all beyond his children.

I was good with that because when I came into the picture, it meant we started completely fresh and that there weren't any mementos around the house that glared at me every time I saw it. We started fresh and everything we have, we built together and had nothing to do with the past.


My Stepdaughter at our Baby Shower

>> Monday, November 16, 2009

While we didn't have the stepchildren at our wedding (not that we didn't want them had things been different but it wasn't possible), we did want our stepdaughter at our first born's baby shower so she felt a part of everything.

We made a big deal over it all for her. She had her hair styled really pretty and she helped me open all the gifts. We also had a gift for her as well (her own baby with a carrier) to open. She enjoyed the food, the gifts, the baby shower favors, and you can tell by the big smile she has in pictures from that wonderful day that is was a good day. I think she just liked being a big part of the day.


Adding More Work with Computer Services

I have 15 blogs and am thinking about adding a few more (11 are updated pretty regularly so I must be crazy to consider creating a few more). My current blogs cover a range of different topics from this stepfamily blog to country life to celebrities to politics to fashion to more. Yeah, crazy is marrying a guy with THAT ex so call me crazy! :)

I have all my blogs under one account but I am thinking about actually creating a few of my own so they aren't so cookie cutter and concentrating on advertisers for those. I'd probably have to hire somebody to help initially get it off the ground so I can learn as they do it plus have some IT support from a place like orange county computer services. Then I think to I really want more blogs? Life is busy enough as it is. I still have a few blogs that I haven't done enough with and maybe I should concentrate on those first.

Yeah, I'm crazy.


POLL: Will you buy a Christmas present for the ex?

>> Friday, November 13, 2009

A new poll has been posted. It involves the upcoming holiday season and spending money on the ex.

My poll question is:

Will you buy a Christmas present for the ex?

Check it out at the top of the right column. This poll closes December 1, 2009. If you don't vote in time, feel free to leave your vote in the comments to this post.


Poll: Did you or would you invite the ex to your wedding?

The polls have closed for the latest poll. The poll was:

Did you, or would you, invite the ex to your wedding?

The results were:

  • No: 100%

Guess that answers that question!


Engagement Rings & the Ex

My engagement ring had "a rock the size of Texas."

That's what the ex said when she phoned my mother-in-law (to whine I guess) after she heard from a friend of hers about it after my husband and I got engaged (this friend had seen my ring in a grocery store check-out line). If only it was that big! It was definitely beautiful though. Jealousy is an ugly thing.

If she wanted to see some nice rocks, she should've looked at engagement rings orange county...they do them big in California! Simone & Son has some very pretty rings.

I love my wedding set no matter how green it turned his ex-girlfriend and what trouble she tried to cause for us by going to my husband's mother about it. It's not my fault his ex-girlfriend couldn't drag him down the aisle!

We are celebrating our 14th anniversary next month! Woo hoo for us! I looked it up online on About on their marriage site and it says for the 14th anniversary traditional gift is ivory and the modern gift is gold jewelry.


Not All Ex's Are Bad...

>> Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sometimes, the problem isn't the ex but the dad.

I was in a live-in relationship with a man for a couple years who had a little girl he rarely saw. He blamed his ex for all of it. I didn't know any better - didn't know his ex at all (never met her) - and took his word for it. When he finally did see her, it was only for a few hours a couple of times and only at his parents' house. She played while they drank. I spent time playing with her there while everybody else worked on getting sloshed. Obviously, I saw a completely different picture at that point.

His ex wanted him to give up his legal rights because she was remarried to a man who truly was "dad" to this little girl and he wanted to adopt her but the biological dad refused to give up his rights even though he had zero relationship with his daughter. He was "dad" in name only and he wasn't giving that name up. It'd make him look bad. To all his colleagues and friends, he could lie to them and blame it all on his ex, leaving him the poor, forgotten father when it was the daughter who was forgotten by dad.

Well, I left that relationship with the biological father when she was eight years old. It was after that when I had my first conversation with his ex. I saw this little girl once after the ex invited me to see her at her basketball game she had a couple years later and this little girl and I wrote letters back and forth a couple times with her mom's blessing.

Guess what? Her mom continued to keep in touch with me over the years too personally. She sent me pictures so I could see how she grew up, holiday cards and even xmas gifts. I loved that little girl and was thankful that her mom did that. That "little girl" is now 26 years old with three babies of her own and we keep in contact through Facebook (I'm friends with her mom on FB too).

Tonight she took one of the many quizzes FB has and this one was a social interview type quiz that asked questions about people on your friend list. It asked her if I had ever done anything nice for her. She wrote: "She continued to care about me long after she didn't have to anymore." Definitely brought tears to read that.

Not only did her mom keep in touch with me, she let her daughter know that I cared about her too. I'm glad she had a great mom and the man who raised her. Sometimes, ex's aren't bad even though they're made out to be monsters.


Puzzle Stools and Ex's: Found Here

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I did a search on my blog URL statistics to find out what some of the terms are that are being targeted at search engines with my blog URL. The word "stepfamily" came in first as the single word obviously. It had better since this is a stepfamily blog even though I tend to ramble about other things in between irritating bouts with the ex.

On off topic words, the word "shopping" came in seventh as a one word search and "bestselling kids toys" came in sixth in a three word term/phrase search. So I guess it's for shopping as well. Looking for puzzle stools for Christmas? You can check them out on my blog! I could always start a blog called Shopping Sanctuary just for shopping! Hmmm...that's not bad. Better go check to see if the domain is available! Be right back!

OK, just checked. I checked at GoDaddy and it IS available...for $1,588! Yeah, whoever has that one can just keep it.

You're probably wondering why I'm rambling on about this. I need to figure out how much affect key words have on traffic and ratings so I was looking up. Obviously my love of online shopping runneth over here.


I Took Everything Away!

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This morning, I turned into mean mom and took every privilege my kids have away from my three oldest. That means no computer, no texting, no video, no television, no sleepovers, etc. They have to earn them back.

I don't believe kids are entitled to any of these things. Usually, I take one or two things away but after weeks of things building, this morning they lost it all. I used to do this with my stepson after he'd beat up one of his siblings. (My kids haven't beat anybody up but they've done other things enough to tick me off that have to do with messy rooms, attitude, homework, etc. I don't know what has gotten into them but I'm putting a stop to it right now.) Of course, the ex thought we were too strict and was treating him differently than the other kids (we were supposed to ground the other kids too because he hit them I guess). I was the wicked head of our stepfamily in her eyes I think. She was wrong; I'm an equal-opportunity grounder! She ensured my stepson thought we were singling him out as well. I wonder if it'd matter now if he knew his brother and two of his sisters were receiving the same treatment for misbehaving as well?

I've read many books on step-parenting, parenting and other family relationship books. I read a lot of different ways to parent, however, I am a big believer in privileges being earned. I expect respect for others. I think kids today expect everything handed to them but I'm not raising brats!

Whether you are parenting your own or helping to parent your significant other's children, sometimes you have to do things you don't enjoy doing. If my kids think I enjoy grounding them, they're wrong. I didn't enjoy grounding my stepson either (no matter what he and his mother thought) but kids need consequences for inappropriate behavior.


What is Green Shopping?

>> Sunday, November 8, 2009

Every year for many years, I have done as much as the Christmas shopping that I can online. I find the best deals browsing the Internet and buy online. I never thought that I was doing was green shopping until now. For me, it was all about avoiding the dreaded malls.

Now that I know it is also helping the environment by using less energy and reducing emissions, it makes it that much more fun for me. Helping the environment is important. We recycle what we can weekly in our house. I use vinegar and water in place of harsh cleaning chemicals. My kids have been members of their school's environmental team for the last couple years so it's a family thing now. It's not something I have to force them to do. It's normal routine for them now.

Now I really need to stop playing around on my blogs and get to work Christmas shopping. I'm late getting organized! It's not quick or easy shopping for our six kids (plus I do the shopping for our kids from their grandparents too). I am one busy Mrs. Claus at this time of year!


One Less Month! Imagine me jumping for joy right now!

>> Friday, November 6, 2009

My countdown for half of our legal obligation with the ex ends in less than one year and seven months. I just noticed my first countdown flipped again recently! Boy that's a lot better than the 15 years it used to be! Wow! Two years following that, the last half of the legal obligation ends.

It seems like the time is dragging on but I sure do love to see one less month flip on my countdown. It keeps my spirits up a bit to know that there IS an end to the contact with her, the record keeping, the online backup of digital records saved and scanned over all these years, tracking child support because the courts have a problem doing it, and the check going out. We'll finally be able to move into a home that is big enough rather than being squeezed into little rooms. I want to have a bonfire in our fire pit with all of the paper records. That alone would take several nights to burn I think. Oh well, I'll just watch it burn while I toast the end of the legal relationship to the ex with champagne!


Poll: Did you or would you invite the ex to your wedding?

I have just posted a new poll. My question is:

  • Did you, or would you, invite the ex to your wedding?

The poll is open for six days so cast your vote now in the poll at the right margin.

From my own personal experience, if we'd had a different relationship with the ex before our wedding, I would not have minded inviting her to attend to be there with the children to see their father marry. I wouldn't have begrudged her the wedding favors, the champagne, or the dinner. I had no insecurities where she was concerned.

However, given the relationship with the ex was full of conflict and hostility and she resented the fact that he was marrying me when he wouldn't marry her, inviting my husband's ex-girlfriend wasn't even a consideration to either one of us. We were in the middle of a court fight with her so having a regular wedding was out for us. We didn't have the time to plan or the money to do so. We said our vows in front of a Justice of the Peace. I'm not of the mind that I have to say my vows in a church because I'm not big on organized religion so getting married by the judge did not bother me at all. I sure would've liked the wedding dress and the party though!


Poll: Were your stepkids involved in your wedding?

A few months ago, I posted a poll asking if your stepkids were involved in your wedding (or will they be). I'm behind in posting the results and adding a new poll. Here are the results:

  • 54% said Yes
  • 36% said No
  • 9% said Heck No

Thanks for voting! Another poll will be posted very soon!


No Soul in the Eyes

Rihanna made an appearance on Good Morning America this morning and said that after Chris Brown attacked her, he had no soul in his eyes. It reminded me of when my stepson was acting out violently for many years when he was younger. He'd get this look in his eyes (or maybe I should explain it as a lack of look) like there was nobody home. Empty eyes. It was scary.


Pay for Chiropractic Care for Teenaged Slouching? Huh?

>> Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I wrote earlier today about the chiropractic care for the stepkids and how even though my stepson's spinal x-rays were normal, the ex had taken him to the chiropractor anyway. We asked her to clarify the medical necessity of doing that.

Get this...she doesn't want his spine to get as bad as my stepdaughter's is right now (um...her x-rays were normal too per the pediatric orthopedic specialist) AND he has bad posture. So where is the medical necessity?

Teenagers slouch. So tell the kid to stand up straight already! We should pay for a chiropractor to see him every week because she can't tell him to stand up straight, because he's acting like half the teenage population by slouching? I'm not sure if I should be rolling on the floor laughing or picking my jaw up off the floor in shock. I guess I'll trip over my jaw on the floor as I go down laughing.

Is this similar to the fact that she can't tell him to behave? To listen to rules? To do homework? To bring his grades up? To stop cussing?

If it were me and I had acted like I couldn't stand the father of my kids or his family for over a decade, I would feel a bit silly because it might be perceived that she was coming up with things for: 1) attention? 2) an excuse for contact?

I have NO problem with medically necessary services. We always pay our support, insurance and health expenses for the kids. Never is a dime left owing. When it comes to medically unnecessary trips, no way.

*Picture from


Good News & Let's Hemorrhange Money News

My stepdaughter doesn't have scoliosis. The specialist who saw her and looked at the x-rays says there is nothing wrong with her spine. That's good news.

The ex had x-rays of my stepson's back done too (let's just keep radiating the kids without ample cause to) and his spine is within normal range. The ex took him to the chiropractor anyway! She sent an email asking hubby what he thought about it (chiropractor care and paying for it) right before she took him to his chiropractor appointment - nothing like giving hubby time to actually SEE the email! She knew he wouldn't see it for six hours after she'd sent it - after she'd already taken him to the chiropractor. So why did she take him? No idea. Hubby did end up responding back about not seeing the medical necessity of it. Like we can afford to send a kid to the chiropractor who doesn't need it!

My daughter, who fell from a swing and fractured her wrist and hurt her back could use a chiropractor right now for her back pain. Trying to figure out how to pay for it when we're struggling not to lose our house at the moment. My stepdaughter is still going to go to the chiropractor to see if it helps with her TMJ and hubby will pay for his share for this month and then has requested another review to see if it is helping and medically necessary. However, we will not pay for my stepson to go when there's nothing wrong with him. Yeah, right.

It's too bad she didn't show this much interest in his mental health all those years he needed help.


Daughter's First Dance Picture

>> Monday, November 2, 2009

Well, one of them anyway. I love this picture because her eyes really POP out.

I've been going back and forth as to whether I should email some of her pictures to my stepkids. In a normal family, they'd want to see some pictures and know how their sister is doing and I used to always send updates on everybody with pictures but they never respond and don't act like they care. Within the past few weeks, I emailed them both to their personal email addresses a video of their dad with two of their sisters and some pics of their baby sister and NO response from either one of them (I wonder if they get together and agree not to respond or if it just comes naturally to them).

Seeing how they haven't bothered to talk to my daughter since July, I'm leaning more towards not bothering. Seems like a big waste of time to me.


Teeth Are Expensive!

>> Sunday, November 1, 2009

My oldest daughter will get her braces off in four months. They were expensive. In order to afford it, I had to refinance my truck!

Now that she's almost done, the dentist is saying my son needs them and we should get in for a consultation within six months. They said he has some teeth that are a bit rotated in his mouth. His front teeth are straight. I'm not sure if having a few teeth in the back is worth another several years of payments and braces. I'll get the free consultation but I doubt we'll be putting him in braces.

I know my middle daughter will need braces. Like my oldest daughter, her mouth is too tiny for all her teeth. They'll have to use a palate expander to break her palate apart and then put on braces. I dread going through that again but it's obvious she'll need some dental help.

I'm not sure yet how we are going to afford more braces. We should get dental discounts for all these kids! Why do they have to be so expensive? We'll get to wait a couple years for my middle daughter's, which is good because we have to recover financially from the braces on my oldest daughter!


Xmas Gift Lists from Stepkids Coming In & Rudely At That

This morning, my sd sent an email to both our email addresses. This is what it said:

"when do you guys want christmas lists?"

Not "hi, how ya doing, how's my brother and sisters since we haven't bothered to talk to them since July, what's new, when do you want our christmas lists?" but JUST about the gifts. A "hi" would've been nice! Don't hear from her in forever and then when her email comes in, it's about what we should buy her.

I'll bet it's not a surprise to a lot of other stepfamilies with a difficult ex and teenaged stepchildren.


The First Dance

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

My 12-year-old daughter has her first dance this Saturday. She has a pretty dress, jewelry and shoes. We had a hard time finding shoes for her. She didn't want to go with heels because she wants to be able to dance comfortably. I told her most people just take their shoes off anyway but she insisted on flats. Since I didn't see any comfortable sandals (I saw online that Dansko makes some sandals that look comfortable but they weren't quite dressy enough for the dress we bought), we found her a pair of dressy flats to wear with her dress. It's a black and white dance with masquerade masks. Sounds fun!

The dress has spaghetti straps so we bought her a tiny bolero type shrug that covers her shoulders (it's against school policy to wear spaghetti straps). We also had to make sure it was long enough (finger tip test) and the front wasn't too low (the three finger rule). Seems like she's in a parochial school doesn't it? It's a public school.

I can't believe that my baby is going to her first dance. She'll be a teenager in a couple months. I wonder if I'll be happy on Saturday seeing her all dressed up like a young lady or teary. We shall see.


Trick or Treating with Stepkids?

Are you trick-or-treating with your stepkids this year? I know a lot of orders dictate which years which parent has them so it may not be your year this year. (If it's not your year to go begging for candy this year, perhaps you can volunteer for their class party tomorrow instead?)

A lot of schools don't even have class parties though. None of my school-aged kids had Halloween parties. It's seen in this town as an unnecessary holiday, a pagan holiday. They take all the fun out of it!! They even tried to schedule a choir and band concert during trick-or-treat hours! Can you believe that? After several parents threw a fit (me included), they backed off. They claimed they don't understand what the big deal was. I was so livid, they were probably beginning to wonder if they should be looking at life insurance rates and making sure their policies were updated.

We aren't trick-or-treating with the stepkids this year. Seeing how they are both in high school (geez, when did that happen), I'm not even sure if they are trick-or-treating. It's been a few years since we've taken them out begging for candy with us. Living 200 miles away kinda puts a damper on the festivities at times.


Black Friday & Bestselling Kids Toys

>> Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here are the bestselling kids toys. You might want to check them out before your kids start handing you their Christmas lists.

Speaking of Christmas shopping, here are the Black Friday specials.


Wouldn't it be nice to grow a nice personality?

>> Saturday, October 24, 2009

My stepdaughter has been seeing a chiropractor for the pain she's in due to probable scoliosis (the orthopedic surgeon will confirm the diagnosis next week). We knew the ex was going to take her to the chiropractor and were agreeable to paying half of the cost to do so, but then we didn't hear anything about it from the ex for several weeks. We assumed she hadn't scheduled any appointments yet because she's supposed to let their dad know about them. Come to find out by my stepdaughter, she's been going three times a week for several weeks now. Well, that was nice of the ex to let dad know! If not for my husband asking about it, we wouldn't have known until we received the bill.

Unfortunately, it hasn't helped her pain yet. So we wait until after the appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to see what can be done now. I wonder if she'll let hubby know about that or if he'll have to chase the information down (does it give the ex a thrill to have hubby chasing after the information in some warped way?). Sure would have been nice if the ex had let my husband know about this scoliosis condition a couple years ago when the doctors first brought it up - you know, when my stepdaughter was still growing and before the pain started. Sure would be nice to stick the ex under some grow lights to grow a more cooperative parenting style as well!


Fun Family Times

>> Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two of my girls were doing a dance for me for my birthday the other day when my husband jumped in and joined them (unscripted and so funny). We have so much fun as a family together (in spite of the ex:)


Meteor Shower Tonight

>> Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If you're going to be up around 1:00 a.m. tonight, look outside and look up. There's supposed to be an awesome show in the sky.

Less light pollution would be best so the boonies would give the best show. Don't forget to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness. You should be able to pick out several planets and constellations too.

Set your alarm now!


Household Reminders for the Furnace

Just a reminder as we all start to turn on our furnaces in the north here: make sure your furnace is in good working order. Have regular maintenance performed on the unit. Make sure you change the furnace filters according to the recommendations (I need to pick up a few extra myself).
Don't forget to have a carbon monoxide detector (or two) in the house. We have one upstairs and one downstairs. I want to err on the side of caution rather than regret later, which is why I have several fire detectors on each level too. I'm neurotic when it comes to the safety of my family. I've been thinking about getting another carbon monoxide detector as well.

As a reminder, we turn our clocks back the first Sunday in November. Don't forget to check your batteries in all your detectors!


Rules and Discipline in a Stepfamily

>> Monday, October 19, 2009

How do you keep the peace in your house? How do you set rules and enforce rules if the other household doesn't do the same thing? Or worse yet, if they openly sabotage your efforts to maintain some type of consistency and peace in your house?

We dealt with that last question for so many years! It was chaos in our house every other weekend, alternating holidays and part of the summer. So stressful! What was REALLY frustrating was knowing it didn't have to be that way.

I wish we'd had a family guide book that each household HAD to follow or face the judge's wrath. Yeah right, judge's wrath. That's funny. Maybe in a world where the courts aren't biased would that happen. It was very difficult when we had rules and consequences and the other house criticized, ignored, or openly antagonized the situation.

That has been one advantage to a long-distance type schedule. Those times are now fewer with much more "calm" within our own family home now. It's been great not having to worry about the cussing and my own kids getting hurt on a weekly basis anymore (and not having to deal with the ex on a weekly basis either). I do miss them, but I don't miss the constant chaos.


Can't Take Promotion Until Child Support Done

>> Sunday, October 18, 2009

...and it's not what it sounds like.

I'm feeling a little down right now. My husband was offered a promotion at work. It is better hours (M-F office job as opposed to 3rd shift plant job) but because the overtime isn't there for this new position (and we need the overtime to make up for what goes out to the ex to meet our own bills), this new position wouldn't pay enough for our household expenses and child support.

I'm really upset. I wish it were four years into the future and child support was done and he could take this new position. It'd be the best thing for his health and for the family - our kids and his since he also can't talk to his kids during the week either. When he gets up to go to work (after 9), he's not "allowed" to call his older kids because they're supposedly in bed (yeah, right...they're bed my butt!). He used to call from his cell on the drive into work at 9:15 but the ex told him he can't. On the weekends, they're all over the place and hard to find (might be on purpose, who knows). We can't make weekend trips to see them because his 3rd shift job starts on Sunday night so the weekend isn't really a weekend.

3rd shift means he doesn't get to spend time with our kids during the week because when they get home from school, he's sleeping. When he gets up to go to work, they're in bed so he hugs who is still awake in bed and then leaves. It means he can't help with homework (sure could use his help with algebra with our oldest), have dinner with us, or go to the different sports events during the week. It means his body is getting battered on 3rd shift - he's sick more, he's crabby, etc. It's not been good for his health at all. We haven't had dinner together as a family consistently in almost four years because his body clock is opposite of ours.

Every major family decision over the years has been put off until child support was done. I wouldn't want to wish my kids to age 18 right away, but I sure wish my stepkids were 18 and we could then make decisions that would be best for our family as a whole instead of just for two.


Panic Sets in Over Swine Flu at School

>> Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's asthma season for us here in our household. On Monday, right on schedule, my daughter started her barking asthma cough. It happens every October as the seasons change (it happens every spring too). There's never a fever or anything - just that barking cough that lasts 3-4 weeks.

Since she didn't have a fever, she went to school on Monday. The barking cough made her teachers nervous (H1N1, swine flu panic) so even though she didn't have a fever, and this has happened every year for the last several years, and the nurse knows this and remembered it herself, she was sent home. I was told by the nurse (whispered to so nobody else at the school heard) that she's fighting an uphill battle, to give her a little bit of time at home to make sure a fever doesn't develop and then to bring her back to school and she'll back me up. The fact that she had NO FEVER didn't mean anything in the panic.

So 48 hours later, I took her to her pediatrician to get a note clearing her for school. Like every year at this time, and just like I thought, it was her asthma. I didn't need to visit the doc in the lab coat for me to know that but I wanted 100% assurance when I took her back into school so they couldn't try to send her home again. She'd missed enough pre-algebra! I got my note and took her back to school. They had to allow her back in and the teachers will just have to deal with their panicky nerves over her asthma cough.


Scoliosis for Stepdaughter?

>> Monday, October 12, 2009

My stepdaughter likely has scoliosis. Apparently, the ex knew this was a good possibility from x-rays taken several years ago but she never bothered to tell my husband about any of this and the fact that his child might have a curved spine until a couple weeks ago! The ex is just now looking at treatment (now that she's in a lot of pain). Why not do something a few years ago when she was still growing? She should've mentioned it to dad. Does JOINT LEGAL CUSTODY not mean anything to that woman? I don't get this AT ALL.

Was DAD not there when these children were created? Has he not paid his child support on time, every week, for all these years? Was he not there to sign the Affidavit of Parentage as FATHER (even though the ex asked him not to sign this for their son because she didn't want to share him with dad and has made him pay for the last 14+ years for acknowledging his own son). He should've gotten a paternity test first in my opinion but it's a little late now. She must still be confused about the fact that he can still love his kids and not love her. She told him once that if he didn't love her...yada yada. You know how it goes. Getting sidetracked with old complaints...

There are times I really want to say "to heck with it all" and move where we want to move, where it doesn't get bitterly cold and give my daughter and I asthma problems. We stayed as close as possible for his kids but he has no input into their lives anyway! Sometimes I just want to run away from it all. I could book a cheap hotels gulf shores vacation to catch a break but we can't even afford cheap. It's been several years since we've had a vacation.

The economy is so bad right now. There is no overtime and there are rumors of paycuts. I told my husband this morning that in a couple weeks, we were going to have to start making decisions on which bills to pay and which bills to let go. Obviously, child support will be paid first. It always is. The six of us will have to suffer. My stepkids won't.


Do you do your kids school work for them?

>> Sunday, October 4, 2009

We are already thinking about Christmas here. With six kids to buy for, and our budget strained so badly right now, we're trying to figure out how to get a few things for each child that they really want, as opposed to junk they won't use for very long.

Last year, I wanted to find a small laptop for my stepdaughter who is now a junior in high school. We couldn't afford it then and we can't afford it now. I figured for typing reports, it would come in handy. Since finding that her mother types all her reports for when she's at work (how is this teaching her how to do this for college?), she doesn't need one anyway. Since we can't even afford a toy laptop, guess it doesn't matter now.

My 7th grade daughter types her own reports. I thought as a parent we were supposed to teach our kids to do for themselves, to be self-sufficient.


Child Support First

No matter how far behind we fall in our own family bills, like our house payment currently, the children's child support is always paid on time. Sometimes, it irritates me that she blows the support so easily when we struggle so much but that's the price I guess for not having child support accountability. It also irritates me sometimes that she always gets her money first and our four kids get denied things we can't afford. My kids aren't important in the eyes of the law unless I divorce their father. Then they become important because then they make money for the state (the state gets money from federal gov't for every dollar they collect in child support). Nothing we can do about it; it's just irritating sometimes.

With us falling behind in our own bills, I am looking at how to increase my own income more to make up for the lack of work and hours at my husband's employer right now. Blogging helps us a lot so if I, perhaps, create more blogs and concentrate on seo service to get new blogs out there in the blogosphere, maybe it'll bring in some more income. If we can get through the next four years (child support will be done) and keep our house, I'll be happy.


Google Maps

Have you checked out Google Maps lately? I did the other day and I was able to zoom right in to our old house to see what it looked like now! It was very cool. I was able to scroll around and check out what our neighbors' houses too. Our old house looks vacant. I'd heard that the new buyers let it go into foreclosure. Makes me want to go buy it up again but we can't move there since it's too far away from work.

I miss that big, old house. I miss the big rooms, tall ceilings, and huge closets. That big old house fit us all comfortably - our kids, the stepkids, all of our stuff.


Johnson & Johnson Recalling Children's and Infant's Tylenol Products

>> Friday, September 25, 2009

Johnson & Johnson is recalling a lot of their products. To get a full list of them, check here.


How Long Would You Keep Ex Documentation?

>> Thursday, September 24, 2009

How much work would it be to digitize all our files and get some secure online storage I wonder? With us busting at the seams in our house, putting the boxes of documentation from the years of "the ex" would clear up a little room. Adding all our tax documents, car stuff, medical, etc., would be a big help.

I think about it periodically but when I think about what a big job it seems like, I procrastinate. I could go through all "the ex" stuff and throw away a lot of it, but you never know when you might need something. Who is to say what the future will bring? Hopefully no more court or major fighting but who really knows? It would be my luck to throw something away and then find I need it a month later. Plus, I think I'd get angry and/or depressed all over again having to go through all those boxes and reliving how horrible the early years were.

How long would you keep documentation from your dealings with your ex?


Outgrowing Our House

We've outgrown our house. There's nothing else that I can do (or can afford to do anyway) to make more room. With all these kids and animals, we are busting at the seams and stepping on each other. Can't afford a bigger house though. There isn't one spare wall anywhere to put anything - not a desk or piano or anything. We're full up!

My dream house would be a six bedroom, three bath (one of them being in the master suite) home on at least ten acres with some of them wooded. It's just a dream. We can't afford to move anywhere until child support is done (three years, eight months).


Stepfamily Stress Bad For Your Health

>> Monday, September 21, 2009

Did you know the constant state of stress that you may live in while dealing with stressful ex and step stuff can predispose you to things like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease? A lot of us struggle with the need to lose belly fat but it stays stubbornly with us and we wonder why. Given that we probably lived at least several years in an almost constant state of stress, it's no surprise now that I know more. (Wish I'd known then what I know now.)

When you are stressed, it elevates your cortisol levels (which can also tax your adrenals and affect your thyroid - like me). Too much chronic stress and it leads to insulin resistance. It becomes a cycle and eventually health problems start to show up.

I lived in an almost constant state of stress for more than the first half of our marriage trying to deal with all the stressors. It's only been within the past few years that I've backed away for my health (and let some things fall where they may because I can't be responsible for everything and still be healthy for my own kids). I'm not really surprised that I'm having the health problems I am having now. What I do wish is that I'd known about it from the beginning so I could have taken steps to prevent it.

If you're new to stepfamily life and living in what seems like constant stress, please realize that it is bad for your health and take the steps now so you aren't where I am at 14 years later. Look up stress in relation to cortisol, insulin resistance, belly fat (all related) which can lead to diabetes, heart problems, hormone-related problems, and more.


Over-Scheduled to Conflict with Other Parent's Time

>> Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do you find that the ex schedules activities during your time without asking you? Do you think he or she does it on purpose?

We had that problem for the first several years. The ex would sign my stepdaughter up for an activity that interfered with every weekend dad had for nine months of the year when she could have scheduled it on any weekday (We checked the activity schedules to see and guess what? Yup, could've been scheduled when it didn't interfere in dad's time.) The ex wanted to make sure she could see the children during dad's weekends...can't give dad 48 hours alone with his kids now!

That wasn't the only problem though. We were finding that the kids, from age three and on, were scheduled for several activities every single week. Add in the visitation schedule and they ran from place to place constantly. So, we made sure our weekends were unscheduled most of the time just so they could have some down time and be kids. They played with their siblings, they played outside, we all played together with creative toys (Playmobil Toys would be a great idea for some creative toys for families to play together with young children), they made up games to play, we did crafts, we cooked. We did stuff together that didn't involve hyper-parenting.

According to an article I read at The Parent Report:

"A recent University of Michigan study even showed that we parents are now spending more time with our children. Unfortunately, careful analysis of the data shows that much of the additional time is being spent chauffeuring them from activity to activity."

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?


Who Keeps Pictures of their Ex?

>> Saturday, September 19, 2009

If you're here, you're likely involved in some way in a stepfamily, most likely the stepmom since not many dads frequent a stepfamily blog that's pink! We married men that came with some baggage, some more difficult than others to deal with and we look for others who are in our situation to chat with. The baggage may be an ex, ex-in-laws, mementos, etc.

One thing that I didn't have to deal with were pictures of my husband's ex-wife (who he was married to for a short time at a young age but no kids) or his ex-girlfriend (two kids). He doesn't have any pictures at all of either one of them. Not one. Nor does he have pleasant memories of his time with them so I guess that's a good enough reason why. When he left his ex-girlfriend, he took his clothes, his bike, some kid pics, and some old toys for his daughter. He left the bank accounts, furnishings, and house (which was in his parents name) behind without a fuss. He basically started over. He wanted nothing to do with her, dividing it up with her, or anything. Guess that says something about how much, and how fast, he wanted out. He was emotionally divorced from her.

I have pictures of some of my ex-boyfriends in a photo album (not all of them but the couple that lasted for a few years or more). Hubby doesn't seem to care. I didn't keep any jewelry that had been given to me (and I'd had some nice rings and bracelets). My husband doesn't have any extra mens rings around that came from past girlfriends either.

Maybe it's a girl thing - to keep mementos and not so much a male thing to care about having pictures or anything like that.


What to do if you get the swine flu (H1N1)

>> Friday, September 18, 2009

According to a handout that came home with my kids from school, here is what they say to do if you get the swine (H1N1) flu:

  • Stay home, out of public for seven days after symptoms begin or until you've been symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Limit contact with other people.
  • Teach children proper handwashing and set good example by washing hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cover cough and sneezes (and then wash hands!).
  • Throw tissues directly into garbage can and do not put on other surfaces. (Better clean my daughter's tissues out of my car; she has a cold right now.)
  • Contact health care provider if you have any questions.

For symptoms of swine flu, click here.

For prevention of swine flu, click here.

Basically, what they're saying is, do what you would for any type of flu - good hygiene, etc.


H1N1 Swine Flu Prevention

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

My preschooler's school just sent a note home about the H1N1 (swine) flu. To prevent it, it says:

  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep hands away from face.
  • Practice social distancing (3-4 feet from others). Good luck with this one and kids. They all congregate in groups.
  • Stay home if you are sick (at least 24 hours after fever is gone).
  • Get seasonal flu shot. I'm not sure that is the answer. The vaccine has to be for the exact strain and with viruses mutating constantly, what are the chances that you are vaccinated for the exact strain? I'd like to know that. I'd also question giving my own child a vaccine that hasn't been tested long enough. Given all the health problems and deaths from the Gardasil vaccine, I do not trust Big Pharma or the government right now where it concerns vaccinations.
  • Wear a mask to prevent spreading to others when ill. They've always done this in Japan. It's something you don't see much of here in the states.
  • Hand sanitizer should be kept out of reach of all children and used with caution on children who place their fingers/hands in their mouth frequently. Not sure if this is due to the alcohol content or what. I know it used to be a problem.

That's what I have on prevention. For symptoms, click here. Will post more about what to do if you get it later.


Coarse, Somewhat Curly Hair

I'm looking for a new 'do. My hair is shoulder length, curly, thick, and coarse. My hairstyle now (and calling it a hairstyle is a pathetic word for what I do with it) is to take a clip and pull back the bangs and sides so they're off my face for the day. Yes, I have mom hair.

What happened to the young woman with long, sexy hair (think of Taylor Swift or Shakira's hair) who actually took the time to do something with it? Oh yeah, four kids happened to her.

I don't know what to do with this mess that is my hair. It's too coarse and thick to straighten everyday with a flat iron (and I don't want to spend that much time on it honestly). It's not quite curly enough to give great curl - more like mediocre curl.

I need to find a good salon franchise and get my hair shaped. I think if I have a good haircut, it will fall into place more easily? I can hope anyway.


Chaos in our Blended Family

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In the early years (OK, for almost a decade), our house was pure chaos on the weekends my stepkids were here. My stepson was acting out BIG time and despite anything we did, we could not get support from his mother to help him. We were left on our own and, of course, met with criticism from the ex because we were too strict (giving consequences like sending him to his room or taking away video games was too strict). We never hit him. He was angry, aggressive and became violent many times.

We had basic rules (bedtime, no hitting, clearing plate from the table, cleaning bedroom, using manners at the table) and gave consequences when the rules weren't followed. He never felt he had to abide by our rules. We eventually posted rules and consequences so they were clear (hoping it'd help). There could be no confusion for him (or any of our children who we were trying to teach basic manners and respect for themselves and other people). Again, we were criticized. We were at our wit's end with his behavior and with his mother's behavior. His mother had it in his head that we were singling him out (like we let the rest of our crew run wild but we made him tow the line). It made it worse because he misbehaved and his mother excused it away for him.

When he hit, we gave him consequences. His mother would get upset because he was being grounded but the other kids weren't. The other kids weren't hitting, bloodying noses, etc. Why would we ground them for something he did? It made no sense to us! My stepson tried to stomp on his infant sister's head. Were we supposed to ground the baby too?

I still have posted rules so the kids know what is expected of them - ALL of the kids. Since my kids are here 99% of the time by themselves now that we are on a long distance schedule with my teenage stepkids, they are mostly for our own children now. I guess we weren't just posting them to single my stepson out eh? They are quite basic though after reading a sample of Scott Gale's family constitution, I am wondering if something like this would help organize our busy lives a little better. Lately it feels like with all the different extra-curricular activities and other responsibilities, we are a "Type A" family at the moment and I'm not liking that at all. I've never been a Type A anything! I feel like I have all these balls in the air and it's only a matter of time before one of them drops.


Symptoms of Swine Flu (H1N1)

According to the note sent home by my children's school, symptoms of this flu include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Vomiting

It also says it has been "associated with severe illness and death."

Seeing how the symptoms are the same for flu in general, how do you know when it's swine?

It is spread the same way as the seasonal flu (person to person, especially through an infected person coughing or sneezing; touching things that have viron on it and then touching face).


There are some great ex's out there!

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

There was a man that I had lived with for 2-1/2 years (before meeting my husband of almost 14 years now) who had a little girl that I fell in love with. She was so sweet...a really good kid. That had absolutely nothing to do with her dad (who I learned was your basic deadbeat). He blamed everything on her mother, didn't spend time with his daughter when he did decide to make time to see his child and then had really bad judgment on the things he did while she was there. I left him, but his ex-wife kept in touch with me! Her mother and her stepfather did a wonderful job of raising her and this man's ex-wife always let me know how she was doing, pictures, gifts at the holidays over the years. It was really sweet (and such a HUGE difference between what we deal with from my husband's ex). Now we're all friends on Facebook.

She's now all grown up - married with one child and twins on the way. I want to find something meaningful to get for her and am running through my mind anything from baby gift baskets to one substantial gift. I just don't know!

It does go to show that not all ex-wives are bad. I've met some ex-wives who I would trade with my husband's ex in a second!


Supposed Answering Machine Message at Australian School (more likely a prank)

>> Monday, September 14, 2009


Health Class in 7th Grade

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

My daughter has a semester long health class as a 7th grader. I asked during Open House what was on the agenda. I didn't think they'd only be talking about acne treatments and I was right. There will be some chatting about puberty, which just made my daughter cringe when she heard, along with healthy eating and the importance of exercise. I can remember at that age being embarrassed to talk about that stuff in school with a bunch of people but it was the only place I learned about what I needed to know since my parents wouldn't talk about it.

I am open with all the kids (mine and my stepkids) to talk about anything they want. If they ask it, they will get an answer. I also supplied several age-appropriate books on the shelves. I want to make sure they have all the knowledge they need when they're ready for it (in case they're not comfortable talking to their dad or me about something...but I hope they always are).


Boy Hidden in Crawlspace to Keep Away From Dad

>> Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two years ago, an Illinois father, Mike Chekevdai, was awarded temporary custody of his son, Richard "Ricky" Chekevdia. Mom, Shannon Wilfong, then took her son and went into hiding...into her mother's home in a specially built room no higher than a washing machine. The child's grandmother says that she did put the boy into this crawlspace but he didn't live there. I sure hope not!

Says a police officer:

"We let him out of the police car and he ran around like he's never seen the outdoors," said Illinois State Police Sgt. Stan Diggs. "It was actually very sad."

All this time, the boy was three miles from his father, who had no idea what had happened to his son. The mother had accused the father of molesting their son, but child welfare didn't find any evidence of abuse.

The mother is now in jail (charged with felony kidnapping). Her mother and her fiance are being charged with aiding and abetting.

Dad will be reunited with his son later this week.


Organizational Development

>> Thursday, September 3, 2009

When I worked outside the house full-time, I worked directly for the CEO of the company as his personal assistant as well as managing the corporate offices of our company. I am not an "everything in its place" kind of person. I am more of an orderly chaos kind of person. It may not LOOK organized, but I know where everything is. Somehow it worked. I enjoyed my job and the responsibilities, received regular promotions, raises and good performance reviews.

If I had wanted to further myself and my role with the company, I would have looked into an Organizational development program like what is offered at Gonzaga University. It would have opened up more avenues for me for future promotions within the company and given me more options should I have decided to work elsewhere. Perhaps even my own consulting business would have been a possibility.

Gonzaga University is a not-for-profit, private university in Washington. If you check out their web site, you will see that they've been ranked as one of the nation's best universities by Forbes Magazine.

Some of their online Master's programs offered are Organizational Leadership, Communication and Leadership, and the online Master of Science in Nursing. I've always wanted to go back to school and preferred an online program because of my kids. It's something I've not given up on doing yet.


Ink Tattoos

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

The title may be misleading, because I'm not writing about the real tattoos that involve a needle and ink. Been there, done that and now have it permanently inked into my hip forever. I'm talking about the children who take pens or markers and draw all over themselves (their skin and their clothes). How hard is that to get out? I know I've pulled laundry out of the dryer to find that the ink stain was still there and wasn't going to come out. It's annoying to spend money on clothes only to have them permanently stained.

What if there was an easier way to remove ink stains? There's a product called amodex that removes ink stains. It also removed a ton of other stains so you should check out the amodex web site and see all the different inks, foods, and other things it can get out.


Cheat? Public Humiliation is Your Punishment

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

This man cheated on his wife. This was his punishment.

When his wife presented it to him, he thought she was kidding. At first. Obviously, cheating isn't a joking matter.

William Taylor took his punishment on the day this picture was taken...and he'll take it for another two days after this one.

As far as I am concerned, he got off easy. Cheating, to me personally, is unforgivable. I would make a bonfire out of any sentimental objects my husband owned (guitars make good kindling right?) and then throw him out if he were to cheat on me.


Racing for Overgrown Boys

The local Tractor Supply Company has these small go-karts that my husband stops to look at every time we go in there. I think he's picturing our son riding around our large backyard having a blast in them (while I picture the dangers).

He's not seen the REAL racing vehicles yet, like a yamaha rhino 660 at Dragonfire Racing. These definitely aren't toys and are for the serious ATV racer. It's definitely not a backyard toy for kids. If my husband saw these, he'd turn into an overgrown boy and want one himself. I definitely married an overgrown boy!


School for Non-Custodial Parents

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School is starting. If you're a non-custodial parent, have you taken the steps to get in touch with your child or children's teachers, introduce yourself, set up your own contact information with the school (cell phone, home phone, email), etc.? Don't assume the custodial parent is going to include you on the forms they fill out at the beginning of every year.

Most schools have an Open House planned right before school starts. Take the time to show up and introduce yourself personally. If there are any conflicts when communicating with the other parent, having your own direct line to the teacher(s) can make a difference.

For more information, click here.


Stress Reliever Ideas

Who has some really good ideas on how to relieve stress? We all deal with just because of the nature of our family dynamics here. Being a step-parent is difficult. Being a step-parent with a difficult ex to deal with on top of the "usual" stepfamily stuff makes it, by far, the single most difficult thing/role I have ever had in my life.

Here are some things that I do:

  • I go to the stable and spend time with my horse. She has been such a huge stress release for me the past three years. It's not about riding (which I actually don't do that often), it's just about putting myself into a different situation (at the barn) and spending time loving on this huge animal, pushing thoughts of the daily stresses away, putting my head up right against hers and just breathing her in.
  • I lock the bathroom door and soak in a hot bath. It'd be nice if it was a jacuzzi bath, but it's not. Lighting some candles, like WoodWick Candles, which sounds like a fire crackling, makes it all the better. That's assuming the kids can stop pounding on the door for me!
  • I write. For years, I went to my stepfamily forum and it was my venting place. I still have it but since blogging, I don't use it near as much as I used to. I have both a private and public stepfamily forum and the private one is safe for me (and my members) to vent all we want without worry about who is reading it and what they think because they understand. Most of the time, like I said, I blog here instead now.


Hate-Filled Comments

Don't you just love the hate-filled comments (well, they attempt to leave them but with comment moderation, how disappointed they must be when they don't automatically show up).

I had two of them left last night, left by the same person, full of every cuss word imaginable with it thrown in there that I probably wouldn't approve it. You're right...cuss-filled comments do not get approved. Get real. I was even called the "c" word. *gasp* My poor little feelings got hurt. No, not really. That would be my sarcastic, bitter side now commenting on such intelligent commentary left.

Supposedly we live within driving distance of the kids and I'm supposed to make my husband see the kids more than once a year (like I'm to blame for the ex's behavior or can fix it...that's funny). Let's look at that for a minute.

  • We've seen them twice this year so far (gosh, guess you're wrong already). Would've been more but mom can't seem to keep their schedules clear long enough so they can go to dad's. It certainly wasn't from lack of trying on our part.
  • They live in another state. It's an eight hour drive for us to get them here, assuming you don't hit traffic through the two major cities you have to go through to get to them, but if you call that an acceptable driving distance, then you're welcome to make that drive every other weekend if you don't have work obligations or other children who actually haven't been taught that to love dad and other siblings is bad. All that aside, I can't imagine any kid wanting to make that drive every other weekend or how that would be good for them.
  • I have file boxes full of all the times we requested time with the kids (and were denied for one pathetic reason or another) so you know what I think about this comment.
  • Those file boxes also document all the manipulations so the kids wouldn't want to leave their mother home alone (getting angry and withholding play time if they wanted to talk to dad, not letting them read or have things we'd mail to them, the clinging and tears every time they'd leave for dad's or telling them that we have serial killer ghosts in our house (what kind of person does that to a kid) and the different therapists confirming what ("who") the problem is. Guarantee you it wasn't anybody in my house. The result of all of that is where we are at now - two teenagers who still can't leave their mother. It's called parental alienation syndrome. Look it up.
  • Those boxes also include the journal of violence from one of my stepchildren towards my kids so if sometimes I get angry or seem bitter, I'm allowed. When kids are used as pawns, yes, I get angry! If one of my stepkids tries to kick in an infant sister's head, bloody a little sister's nose or pound another sister into the ground and have to be pulled off of her (only a few things in a long line of them) and it's because said stepchild has been put into a position to have to choose between which parent to love and to keep their distance from me (what better way to do that than to hurt my kids), yeah, my feelings for the person who put the kids in that position are perfectly clear.

When your child is crying on her birthday because she was hung up on by the ex's house, come to me and see how nice you feel. When you have to pull a stepchild off another child because he's trying to pulverize her face, come to me and tell me how you feel now. When your child is bleeding (literally)... When you have to take your toddler to the ER to make sure their skull isn't fractured... When you have to find a therapist for a stepchild wanting to die so they don't have to worry about their mother anymore... When you have to hear the stepkids talk about the issues, without badmouthing their mother which is something we've never done with them (same can't be said for the other side), on why their mother gets mad when dad calls them, or why they have to go home because she's crying home alone without them, or why mom stops interacting with them if they want to talk to dad, or why they were told their stepmom is going to hell, or why we have serial killer ghosts in our house, or deal with false accusations, blah blah blah...come to me. They're now teens who have a relationship with their dad based on what their mother has taught them - not to show too much for dad or dad's family because mom doesn't like it. A therapist said they had to do it to make their world safe with their mom. What kind of a mother does that to her children? No, I don't like the ex but my conscience is clear on why I don't.

I have a right to get ticked off about circumstances once in awhile, especially when they hurt my own children. I wouldn't be human otherwise...oh wait, stepmoms aren't supposed to be human with opinions or feelings. We're supposed to sit back and watch crap hit our family left and right and just take it with a smile.


Fall Items on Clearance Already?

>> Sunday, August 23, 2009

I was in Rite-Aid yesterday picking up a prescription for my husband, just browsing the aisles (to pick up things I likely really didn't need) and they already have their Autumn stuff half off! What's that about? It's too soon to put Autumn decor on sale (in my opinion anyway).

They had this really cute rooster that I stopped to look at. I'm not sure why since it's not in my decor but it was cute. If I had rooster pictures or rooster dinnerware, it'd look cute in my dining room. Since I don't have either, I could stick it on my deck and pretend we have roosters like some of the neighbors. Except ours would be quieter!


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