The 9-12 Project

>> Sunday, March 29, 2009

If you are watching the news or reading the newspaper and not liking the direction our country is heading in, what our government is or is not doing, and the legacy of debt they are leaving for our children and grandchildren, you aren't alone. We've gone off track on what our country is about, what it was founded on, what was good about our country and it's damn scary to me.


Remember to Re-Connect With Your Significant Other

>> Saturday, March 28, 2009

My husband doesn't have to work tonight. It's nice to have a day off together (and even more so that he will be home tonight). Sounds like a good night for sexy lingerie and margaritas! LOL.

I think it is important for couples to re-connect often so they don't lose the emotional closeness in the day to day life. When you throw in stepchildren and a difficult ex, it makes it that much more important so that no matter what you go through with an ex, court, etc., you retain the emotional connection and the stressful circumstances bring you together rather than tear you apart.

The relationship with my husband's ex has always been bad, but in the first half of our marriage it was downright nasty. I'd ask him how she could behave like that, how could she say/do that to him or the kids, etc. because I couldn't comprehend the intensity of hate and bitterness. He'd tell me she was doing it to come between us. All her behavior did, however, was bring us closer because we really united as a couple. He supported me and I supported him. Her plan backfired. I'm glad it did.


Stepparents are Legal Strangers

>> Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'll bet that is one title you never thought of for yourself, huh?

According to Wikipedia, we, the step-parents, are legal strangers because we have no legal right to the minor child even if we are the step-child's "parent" in terms of love and responsibility.

This is taken from Wikipedia:

"The stepparent is a "legal stranger" in most of the US and has no legal right to the minor child no matter how involved in the child's life they are. The biological parents (and, where applicable, adoptive parents) hold that privilege and responsibility. So if the biological parent doesn't give up his or her parental rights and custodial to the child, a parent's subsequent marriage cannot create a stepparent relationship without the parent written consent before a "child" reaches adulthood. In most cases, the stepparent can not be ordered to pay child support."

I get that we have no legal rights. You can love that child like your own and take care of that child like your own, but you can lose that child without any legal recourse if you and their biological parent were to divorce. What a risk step-parents take with their hearts. A risk that many step-parents have taken and had their hearts broken either through divorce or by loss of the relationship due to other factors (ex: the ex's emotional manipulations). Besides, the family court will beat "no legal rights" over any step-parent's head repeatedly so I think we all know we have no legal rights.

I don't understand what they mean by "...marriage cannot create a stepparent relationship without the parent written consent..." Written consent by who? The biological parent you married or the same sex biological parent, AKA the ex?


26,000 Visitors

This week, I went over the 26,000 visitor mark! Thanks for reading my blog. I hope it offers you some helpful information for your stepfamily trials along with other interesting information.


I Remember...and it makes me sad.

>> Monday, March 16, 2009

I've been reading some other stepfamily blogs this morning and it made me a little sad. I was remembering the super close relationship my stepdaughter and I used to share.

I remember when my stepdaughter would come in the front door after my husband would pick her up. I would hear her little feet running through the house asking, "Where is Cole?" When she'd find me, I'd have this little girl running into my arms. Eventually, I became "Momma Cole" and then "Mom" and then my full first name because her mother's fits were too much for a child to deal with.

I remember Friday night was girls night where, after we would put the younger kids to bed, my stepdaughter and I would spend time together, just the two of us, doing craft activities together.

I remember my stepdaughter telling me that whenever we would call for them, their mother would get an angry look on her face.

I remember my stepdaughter telling me that if they talked to us while at their mom's house, she would stop playing with them and look mad. I remember after that all the times they stopped picking up the phone when we'd call or the times they would hang up on my daughter when she'd call them. Not even our children were allowed a relationship with their siblings when they were with their mom.

I remember a girl who would beg not to have to go back to her mother's house, wanting to stay with us.

I remember a girl who would climb into my lap for hours because she was sad about leaving.

I remember when my stepdaughter told me that her maternal aunt told them that our house was haunted by serial killer ghosts and that I was going to hell. I remember how scared she was. I remember easing her fears and then the ex's excuses for her sister's behavior when we went to her about it for trying to scare the kids away from our house.

I remember a girl who would cry in the bathroom for hours when we'd meet at my stepson's swim meets for the exchange because she didn't want to go back to her mother's house. I remember a girl telling her mother, when she tried to go into the pool bathroom to talk to her, to get out. She didn't want her mom; she wanted her stepmom and dad.

I remember telling my stepdaughter that her mother loved her too, always being careful not to badmouth her mother in any way (even though there was plenty to badmouth).

I remember all the times my stepdaughter would tell us something negative her mother had said about me, their dad, our home, etc.

I remember their mother crying when my husband would pick the kids up. I remember seeing her standing at the end of her driveway while we pulled away, crying. I remember how much it worried the kids to see her like that.

I remember the courts telling her she had to stay in the house and to quit doing that to the kids. I remember that she didn't listen.

I remember them telling me that she told them that she cried without them.

I remember when they started to worry about leaving their mother alone.

I remember the day their mother stood on my front porch, sobbing and clinging to my stepdaughter, not wanting to give her up to spend any time with their dad and dad's family. I remember how much it hurt my stepdaughter.

I remember my stepson as a toddler telling me, "Mommy is at home crying without me. I have to go home."

I remember my tween stepdaughter talking about suicide, wanting a car accident to kill her, so she didn't have to worry about her mother anymore.

I remember after that point the emotional distance my stepdaughter put between herself and us. The therapist said it was for her own protection, to protect herself from her mother's behavior/manipulations. I remember understanding. I also remember that it still hurt.

I remember all the love, hugs, and kisses. I remember how close my stepdaughter and I used to be and it makes me so sad to know that is gone now, that a person who was supposed to love them (their mother) manipulated them and hurt them out of insecurity and jealousy.

I thought it wouldn't hurt after the past couple of years of it being that way. I thought wrong. It still hurts.


When do they just go away?

When do the germs go away? I have another child home sick today. Last week, I had one child miss two days of school. This week, my son is now sick and my middle daughter woke up with half of her voice gone so I would imagine by tomorrow, she'll be home too.

Spring is fighting to get here and it is supposed to be in the 50's here this week. I hope this means the normal winter colds and flu will finally go into hiding until next flu and cold season.


Monetize Your Web Sites

>> Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anybody who blogs and would like to make money at it has a little bit of educating themselves to do. You need visitors, but you can't stop there. You need visitors who do more than read on your site. If you sell on your site, you need your visitors to buy from it. Some sites accept donations so a visitor who donates can be a great thing. A lot of sites offer newsletters by subscription so you want your visitors to subscribe. This is called conversion rate optimization. I don't offer a lot of this on my sites yet (though you can subscribe to any of my blogs in a feed free). My sites aren't the kind to "buy" things (though that will be coming soon with one site idea that I have that I haven't created yet) but I definitely enjoy the multitude of visitors that visit my blogs everyday (and I thank you).


Stepmom Stresses - Did they cause child's disabilities?

Being a stepmom, and having children with the father of the stepchildren, brings with it its own trials and stresses because the ex can get a little ballistic over their ex moving on, jealous, insecure, etc. over another child entering the picture (not to mention mad that it can decrease their child support). Here is a short story about what a stepmom can go through, not at the ex's hands (though she did nothing about it) but at the hands of a family member of hers. It's Jerry Springer material!


Maternal Grandparents Checking Us Out

>> Saturday, March 14, 2009

I've posted before about a web site we made for the kids. There is no identifying information - no names, no pictures of them, no state information, no school information, privately registered domain, etc., so we've kept it safe. They won't (can't...not sure which) respond if they are getting our letters and stuff we send through the U.S. mail regularly so we are making sure there is more than one avenue of contact so they know we don't just pretend they don't exist when they aren't here.

We're updating the web site regularly even if they aren't supposed to check it out (though I did notice one very short visit recently at a time when my stepdaughter normally checks the internet before school when the ex is sleeping so at least she's seen it anyway).

I noticed today a visit of over 11 minutes from an ISP in their state so I checked it out. It came from my stepchildren's maternal grandparents. The ex must've given them the link to see and apparently they did for quite a while, lol. It'll be up for at least the next four years so they'll have plenty to stick their nose into.

Gotta love that they act like we mean nothing but they can't help themselves when it comes to nosing into anything and everything.


Custody Change for School Grades?

>> Monday, March 9, 2009

One of the determining factors for a custody evaluation is school, right? I am just wondering because my stepson's mother isn't doing jack to get my once all "A" student stepson from walking the line between failing and passing throughout junior high. She doesn't make sure he's done his homework at night; he's not turning in homework. He's not studying for tests. We live 200 miles away or else we'd make sure he was doing this stuff ourselves, like we do for our other children, but we can't control what the ex does in her home. Why is she letting this bright kid fail? Why isn't she checking his homework at night? Why isn't she removing his privileges (cell phone, myspace, guitars) until he brings his grades up? We can't ground him from 200 miles away. It seems like she just doesn't care.

It bugs the heck out of me to see the potential this kid had turn to dust.


Daylight Savings Time - Spring Forward

>> Sunday, March 8, 2009

Did everybody who has to remember to SPRING FORWARD with their clocks last night before you went to bed or after you woke this morning? Wouldn't want your kids to be late for school tomorrow! :)

One less hour of sleep for us. Yeah for Daylight Savings Time.

Also, check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector batteries too! Don't forget!


UGG Boots

>> Saturday, March 7, 2009

I have never owned a pair of UGG boots nor have I ever bought a pair for my kids (yet). I thought about buying a pair to match my winter coat but never got around to it.

Does anybody else have them? I am wondering how they hold up against pre-teen/teenage activity? Will they last for them for a season or two (or more if they have stopped growing)?

Footwear Etc. offers a really nice selection of UGG Footwear. I'm still partial to the Classy Cardy Ugg boots for myself.


My Rock Addiction

>> Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DJ Ashba


Anybody who knows me knows that I have a chocolate and pepsi addiction. I have another one now - DJ Ashba. I love his music. His eyes are gorgeous. He plays guitar like...*sigh* I can gush like a teenager over him! If you have myspace, search for his music (Wonder, Someday, and Love Always lets Me Down). Love it!!

My husband doesn't understand why I added DJ Ashba to my freebie list (he has Jessica Alba...I have DJ Ashba now - along with Jon Bon Jovi and Johnny Depp as a Pirate, lol). He doesn't get it that the way he plays his guitar and his blue eyes remind me of the first time I saw my husband up on stage playing guitar with the gorgeous blue eyes. Sometimes, a man playing guitar is just a man playing a guitar and sometimes, you can tell it is a great love and the guitar playing is almost sensual. I haven't told him yet either, lol. I'm letting him hang out on a string for awhile wondering what all the fuss is over DJ Ashba. I'm not sure if he'd believe me anyway:)

I'd love to meet DJ Ashba. I'd love to get one of his guitars that he's designed for my husband too.


Keeping My Father-In-Law Busy

When my father-in-law comes into town, I need to have things to do for him (with my husband) because he can't sit still. I feel bad at keeping him working, but he wants to and expects to (or else he'll go home early where he has things to do, lol).

I need to decide what home improvement project to put at the top of my list:

  • New Outdoor Light Fixture at Front Door (wind storm knocked off and broke) & Replace Sensor Outdoor Light at Back Door
  • Paint Living Room & Kitchen
  • Replace Bathroom Vanity & Sink (like with one at discount sinks)
  • Fix Leak in Basement Family Room

I REALLY want three out of four of them done NOW so I can't decide. I can wait on the bathroom but the other three...they all really need to be done. Decisions, decisions.


Pink Dolphin Sighting

>> Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is too cool not to cross-post:

Seeing dolphins would be a wonderful experience in itself, but can you imagine if you saw a PINK DOLPHIN? This picture was taken of a pink dolphin in Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana. It is thought to be an albino.

What a pretty site. It'd be like seeing a unicorn or what you expect to see in one of my children's various Barbie cartoons.


Anybody else get nervous about stepkids coming over?

I went window shopping today to get ideas for things to do when my stepkids are here. Last year, we decorated easter eggs and cookies...the usual stuff. This year, I think I want to try making candy (chocolate, of course!). I was looking at all the different molds for making chocolate truffles and chocolate suckers. It looks like so much fun! I think it'd be a great joint activity to do with all the kids together. Who doesn't love chocolate? It might be nice to do a scrapbook while they are here together. Just some ideas I am kicking around.

I have a little trepidation about the upcoming visit. Nerves, I guess, wondering how it will go. Will it take all week for the kids to get comfortable and then it'll be time for them to go back to their mother's or will they settle in quickly? Will they be ok or will they show the effects of having to be alienated from us?

I am just a little nervous. Imagine how much more it will be when April actually gets here! We had so much violence and frustrations in previous years from one of my stepchildren. I am hoping it will go well but I worry that we will have a repeat and that would be really bad.


Stepkids are coming for spring break

>> Sunday, March 1, 2009

My stepkids are coming for Spring Break. They will be here for a week. My kids are very excited and can't wait to see their siblings.

I am already starting to think about menus since my stepdaughter is a vegetarian and the last couple of times they were here, our grocery bill went into the $400/week range! I really need to find a way to stock my kitchen for six kids (two of them teenagers) without breaking our budget. We broke it last year during their visits - broke it, stomped on it, and destroyed it.

Since they will be here for Easter, I also have to plan Easter baskets...not that they believe in the Easter Bunny anymore. My kids do though so it'll be Easter baskets for everybody!

I also have to get my husband's car fixed before then so he can make the trip to pick them up and return them. The car has been sitting in the driveway for months because we haven't been able to afford to get it fixed. He's been using mine for work and since he works an odd shift, it's worked out ok. However, I don't want to be left without a vehicle all day long when he goes to pick up his kids in case we have an emergency with one of our kids. I don't have family in this state to rely on so I really have to have a vehicle available to me. I can't just call him if he's a couple hours away if there is an emergency and I need the car. I have to figure out where to squeeze that into the budget.

Everything always comes down to money.


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