Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Heart Skipped a Beat

I'm currently the magazine club adviser at the middle school in town. We needed an extra interview for a 6th grade boy so I volunteered to go ahead and do one on Older Boy.

So last night we sat down. It was a list of questions like "What book should everyone read?" and "What is your favorite class so fat?"

So we got down to the question "Who is your hero?" I asked him expecting him to come up with some sports player and:

Crys: "OK. Who is your hero?"
Older Boy: "You are."
Crys: "Me?!"
Older Boy: "Yeah."
Crys: "Aw, thanks!"

At first I had thought I heard him wrong. And then my heart about skipped a beat. I didn't ask why, although I certainly wanted too. But his answer alone was enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I can’t believe so much time has passed between now and my last post. I guess that’s what happens though when life seems to be going full-speed ahead dangerously out of control. And travelling every other weekend, a teething baby and other life wonders and mishaps don’t help any.

I’ve come here today though to discuss Older Boy. He is a hair-pulling, head banging, lovely 11-year-old middleschooler now. And with that comes a motivation for independence, but a lack of responsibility. For some reason he can’t fathom that responsibility will bring independence. In other words … I’d love to pick your brains on what has worked for you on how to motivate a tween to be more responsible when it comes to things like:
  • Turning homework in
  • Asking teachers for a list of missing homework assignments
  • Turning in important things like money for class trips or fundraisers
  • Remembering to bring your lunch to school – especially on days that you have basketball practice or a basketball game
Those are probably the things up there on the list.

I cannot offer an allowance. Our money is pinched so tight right now that FH and I have to borrow money from each other to pay bills. I’ve gotten pretty crafty and switching money from one account to another. Although I have told Older Boy that if he can continuously show us he can be responsible I’d be willing to consider some sort of allowance system. However, he just doesn’t seem able to stay motivated.

When I ask him about something he gets this “I forgot” look or excuse. He tells me “OK” and I tell him “Don’t tell me OK. Show me that you can do it.”

I’m not sure if the more regular overnight visits with Jane have anything to do with it. Ever since they’ve started to regularly stay over at her house on the weekends both Older Boy and Younger Boy have taken steps back in their will to thrive in our household. Surprisingly Middle Boy is the only one who has continued to take steps forward.

Anyway, I’m at a loss. Any words of wisdom would be so wonderful and welcomed and much appreciated.

And for your time in reading this here is a little treat for you. Baby J.C. is now a spunky, spit fire, darling 1-year-old. She is more like me every day. I’m in trouble.

Reading me a story

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Updates Fall 2011 and a Video

I thought life was chaotic and busy when I moved in with my three instant kids and soon to be hubby. But life with a husband, three instant kids, two cats and a walking almost one year old baby is beyond chaotic. I think “Oh, I’ll sit down to bust out a blog,” or “I should blog about this and this or that.” And then Baby J.C. wakes up, or someone needs help with their homework, or the cats are convinced they are starving and won’t leave me alone until they are fed, or there is always dinner that needs to be cooked too. I feel like everything is an update lately. I guess it’s better than nothing, right?

Let the updates begin…

Jane moved into a two bedroom finally. I haven’t heard any more from her about wanting Middle Boy to go live with her. Nor have I heard any more commotion about whether or not her man is actually hitting their son or not. I’ve yet to see a police report on file or a repeat of Jane running off in the middle of the night. I’m still trying to accept that her priorities are screwy and there’s just no ever “getting her.” Whatever will be, will be, right?

The boys are loving small town life. And by boys I mean F.H too. They have been blossoming even more than I thought possible. Older Boy actually had friends come to the door the other day to see if he could come out and play. It’s so nice to be in a small community. Middle Boy has even decided that he’s found a calling as a farmer one day. I’m going to be going to a 4H meeting this week to find out about getting him started up in our local 4H. And while Younger Boy is currently dealing with the fact that yelling at your brothers isn’t going to get you your way, he seems to be just growing up before my eyes. I still can’t believe that he was only 2 when I moved in three years ago. When did he turn into a first grader?

And of course there is Baby J.C. She will be turning one next month. She has four baby teeth, is walking and climbing up anything and everything, and is a mini me all the way. It is exhausting! I took her with me on my wedding extravaganza the past month where we drove 6 hours to Southern California for a wedding and back. Then we flew to Michigan a week later for a nice, much needed and well deserved, week-long vacation and then my college roommates wedding. Then the next weekend drove up to Washington with my parents (because 6 hours with a baby is insane, I wasn’t about to drive 12 hours alone with her) for my cousin’s wedding. I’m just starting to catch up now.

And with that, I leave you with a fabulous video because who doesn’t love babies?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Follow Up

I wanted to get some more thoughts down. FH gave me more information about Jane asking if Middle Boy could come live with her and it riled me up. I figured I’d sleep on it before regurgitating it.

I found out that Jane’s excuse for wanting Middle Boy is because “He is too emotionally unstable at our house.” Which was sort of true a year or two ago, but that child was emotionally unstable anyway. Do you really blame the poor child? His mother up and left, had a new child of his own, plus he was suddenly thrown into an environment where there were rules and expectations. Since then Middle Boy has really grown and blossomed into a fabulous young man. Don’t get me wrong, he still drives me up the wall now and then with his Middle Boy antics but he has come a really long way from where he was.

I also found out that Jane does not live in a 2 bedroom apartment as I originally thought. Jane and her man and their son (who will be 3 this year) live in a 1 bedroom apartment. I about blew my lid. I know we’ve squeezed all 5 of us into a two bedroom before but we upgraded to a 3 bedroom as soon as we got a handle on our new life together. And our new house that we’ll be renting is a 5 bedroom, with a large back yard. (That’s all in another post.)

Anyway, I don’t know what suddenly caused Jane to call us up and ask if she could have Middle Boy come lie with her. I don’t know if she’s hoping to get some form of child support, especially since we’ll still have two of the boys and she’s never gave us money or offered any financial support for the boys. The few times she has asked she’s told us how they have no money and could hardly pay rent or bills much less get their own food. I don’t know how she thinks she’s going to be able to support one more growing boy when she tells us this.

Middle Boy is definitely the mommy’s boy who looks forward to seeing her each week. The other two are kind of “eh, whatever. I get to go play video games all day and eat junk food” about it.

Sort of on topic, I also found out that Jane hasn’t said a word to FH about the incident that happened a couple of weeks ago (I first mentioned it in the last post). When he called her up to ask her if she thought it was a good idea to take the boys this week she seemed kind of surprised that he was asking such a question. If I didn’t know better I would assume she had no clue why FH was calling with such a question.

If you ask me it’s quite fishy. There’s usually some sort of motive behind anything Jane does, and it usually isn’t in favor of the boys’ best interest. But I’ll keep you updated on the happenings. As far as I can tell, and after talking with FH about it he’s going to tell her “No.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It Worries Me Sick

I have two things on my mind tonight. I’ve been meaning to write about one of them but I guess two is better than none. Because none would be me lying in bed trying to sleep but wide awake thinking too much.

Issue One
Two weeks ago before the boys went up to FH’s parent’s house for two weeks they went to Jane’s house. FH got a text at 11:55pm that he should pick the boys up from her mom Jolie’s house the next day because that’s where we were.

We found out that they went to Jolie’s house because allegedly Jane’s man had been hitting their son. Now, before we jump all over this I’m rather torn. Half of me is rather concerned because who wants to expose their child to that type of situation? As a concerned stepparent, certainly not I. The other half of me knows that Jane is a liar and she is the type of person who wants to be abused. In saying that I mean that she used to tell FH, who wouldn’t and hasn’t ever laid a hand upon me or the children, that if he ever hit her she would leave. I’ve never even felt threatened that he would do such a thing and it frustrates me that she wants so badly to be in that situation. Now, not that she is lying as I’m aware that anyone is capable of anything, but I just don’t trust her and her dramatic, lying actions of the past. That in addition to the weird things she’s done like make Younger Boy strip down to check him for cuts and bruises when he has grass cuts on his feet from running in the sprinklers.

Anyway, she told us she might not take them this week for their summer break with her. But after two weeks she decided that it was OK to have them. She didn’t seem too concerned about it, and I honestly can’t tell you if she and FH have talked about it. We go the information second hand from her Aunt who owns the house that Jolie lives in.

I’ve been contemplating to see if she filed a police report or to see if there have been any domestic disturbances filed against them. I want something done about it. I want to see action happen in the event that this is all real. I’ve seen abuse, I’ve experienced abuse and either I’m missing something big or she’s making a mountain out of something that didn’t actually happen. I’m not sure what to do. We can’t NOT let her see them, but who do you contact about an alleged abusive episode that may or may not be on record and may or may not be real?

Issue Two
Today Jane called FH and told him that she’d like to have Middle Boy come live with her. For those that may not remember, Middle Boy is definitely the Mommy’s Boy of the three. He’s also the one who has been asking her if he can live with her over the last couple of years. However, the red flag has been waving loud and clear in our minds that this is not a good idea. To her credit, Jane has been seeing the boys every weekend for the last couple of months. However, when they come back from her house they are in very poor condition. They are like walking zombies and need a full day of sleep and usually a nap the next day just to catch up. I don’t know if it’s from being plugged in all day, from not being supervised or what. They claim that they go to bed at 10pm, but even when we allow them to stay up that late they are never walking zombies like they are when they come home from her place.

Also, Middle Boy has completely blossomed over the last couple of years since I moved in. I’m rather concerned that it’s not in his best physical and mental interest to live with her full time. Plus, I really wonder where he would sleep. From my knowledge the boys sleep on either the pull out couch bed or on the floor when they go to her house. Would he be expected to share a room with her youngest son who is going to be 3 years old this year? In my mind 8 years old and 3 years old is a big age difference to be sharing a room. Not impossible, as I’m sure there are many who do is. Plus we had the three boys sharing a room for the first two years while we saved up enough to move into a bigger house. I also don’t know if he’s actually considered that if he left our home he wouldn’t be with his brothers every day. Those three boys are thick as thieves. Considering all the emotional drama they’ve been put through it really concerns me at the thought of uprooting him from his brotherly support like that and putting him in an unstable living situation.

Plus, jump back to Issue One. IF her guy is hitting their son I sure as heck don’t want Middle Boy living in that situation. Is an alleged abuser enough grounds to say “No, he cannot live with you?” FH has full physical custody of all three boys and they have joint legal custody of them. If that makes sense – in other words they physically live with us, but they’re supposed to see her part of the time.

I’m not going to lie. It all has me stressed out and sick to my stomach. And honestly, it seems there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. I feel like we’re feeding them to the wolves when we send them over there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On the way

I've been trying to work on a new update for you. However, I'm currently fighting over the keyboard with Baby J. She is cruising, and is very, very successful as assisted standing. She also wants to help me write this blog entry because short of buckling her down into her rocker she keeps ending up over at my lap top. Her tiny fingers trying to mimic mine and type away. Except she just managed to pull of the "Delete" key button and I somehow magically got it to stick on.

Her and a lack of sleep are some of the main reasons I've not posted in a while. And summer vacation. Nasty Cat wanted to make sure I included that. Cross your fingers that I can post an update tomorrow and can get some good sleep tonight.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Survived Week 1 of Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation is here. This year we didn’t put the boys in the Summer Program at their school because in July (the middle of the program):

1. They’re going up to FH’s parents house for two weeks.
2. They’re going to Jane’s house for the week after that
3. We’re moving
4. Enrolling into the program you kind of have to guarantee that your kid isn’t going to miss a ton of days so we decided to not take up three spots so that three other children might get the chance to enjoy the fabulous program.

If you counted correctly that is three weeks that the boys are not going to be at home with us. I’m not quite sure what to think of it. Part of me is relieved that I’m not going to go absolutely hair-pulling crazy having them home all day. Part of me is going to miss them because 1) that’s a long time to not have them around and 2) who is going to do all those chores that they do? And part of me is a little concerned for Baby J who will not see her brothers for three weeks.

Normally when they are gone FH will show her their photos. The longest they’ve ever been away for though is three days. Three days is a whole lot different from three weeks. I guess it will just be a part of life though that she too will have to eventually get used to.

And with it being Monday already, here we go with Week 2 of Summer Vacation. I think I may require one of those beer helmets with the straw … except with wine bottles … or maybe martini shakers. I guess it really depends on what kind of day we are having.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Small Town Bound

I was raised in the hood because that’s where my dad’s family house was. The neighborhood went to shit around us. I went to sleep with the sound of bullets flying, and recognized a drug deal when it was happening right out in front of my house. My parents had about had it when a kid at my sister’s elementary school was caught with a baggie of coke. Then we moved to a small farming town because my parents wanted us to experience the safety and community of a small town.

We moved just in time for my 8th grade year. I vowed I would leave as soon as I turned 18. And I did, to go to college, but I keep going back. It’s a love-hate relationship, but it is home. My parents have since moved to another city but my sister and I keep going back whenever we get a chance. I’ve since then brought my new family out there and have submerged them as much as I can into my small town family.

FH and I have talked casually about moving there someday and with Older Boy about to start middle school we’ve decided we’d like to move there. I have an idea now about why my parents moved us there. Although it’s not the exact same reasons that my parents moved us.

Middle Boy and Older Boy have had a really hard time it seems. They’re really drawn in and seem to be big fish lost in a lake with little fishes. In other words, they do well in class and often get pushed aside so teachers can deal with the children who are not doing as hot. Also, they just closed two elementary schools in our town so their elementary school that already has large class sizes is getting an influx of new students.

We’ve asked Older Boy what he thought about moving to the small town and he was really excited. Older Boy asked for a tour of where all the schools were at. If he had been reluctant I think we might have reconsidered, but since he has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement I think we’re going to go for it.

We’re really hoping that being in a small community will help them to flourish as individuals … Especially with sports, new friends and a sense of security with the town. I’m genuinely hoping that they’ll feel the same way I do about the small town … that its home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Being a Stepmom is Stressful

I had really hoped that maybe with time being a stepmom would be easier. As in, after time with the boys I wouldn’t feel quite as frustrated at times. But there are still some days it takes all the control I have not to pull my hair out, pack up the cat and baby and walk out the door.

It’s not even that I don’t like the boys. I love them very much. But I think there is a great amount of pressure I feel when it comes to raising them. I hear so much from my mother-in-law or other relatives on either FH or Jane’s sides about how worried everyone was for the boys’ well being.

I can’t imagine that everyone is exaggerating but I just can’t grasp how bad it was. Could it really have been that drastically bad? I guess it could have. But I just can’t grasp it.

I know that the boys have all blossomed into amazing individuals under my care. I know that they can only continue to grow and blossom more. But I feel like I can’t mess it up … Like if they turn out anything like their mother or worse then somewhere along the way I messed up in raising them.

I hear from both FH and Jane’s side this worry and concern from the past and receive a lot of praise and thanks for what I’ve done and what I’m continuing to do. (It’s really quite weird to have people thank me so often for being a mom to the boys. It’s nature to me, and it feels like I’ve gone up and beyond my expected duties the way they all thank me.) And it feels almost like there is a weight on my shoulder that I have to make these children successful. It is very overwhelming at times.

I know I can only take each of them so far. I can only instill my love, my values, my example and that they’ll have to take all those and create themselves from there. In the back of my head though sometimes I feel a whip and hear a voice that says if I don't give it 180% instead of just try my best that maybe I'm giving it my all. (I think that it all comes down to the fact that I am my own worst enemy as in I'm the hardest on myself.)

I honestly sometimes feel stressed trying to just be a mom to them. Now that I have a biological child of my own I’ve been able to sort things out. I feel a stress to make sure that I’m raising my own child the way I want to and to be the best mom I know how. But it’s just a different stress from raising someone else’s kids, even though they’re my kids too now.

Does that make sense? I’ve decided that I’m putting some money away (about $14) and I’m going to the Jelly Belly Factory out here to treat myself to six delicious squares of gourmet fudge. So good! And that is how I’m going to be good to me and try my best to relax and not stress out as much.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Exhausted Excitement

I don’t know how I manage some days. My days seem non-stop between being the Mom Taxi, the Mother of an infant, nursing her, making her homemade baby food, making dinners, making sure the kids do their stuff, nagging FH to make sure Jane sees the boys, and working a full time job on top of it. Oh yes, and being a cat lady. We must not forget Nasty Cat.

I have a real respect for single mothers. If I’m this exhausted and I have a spouse to help out I can’t imagine what it’s like to go at it alone. Although I think three kids and infant must be exhausting to anyone with a pulse.

In short – Baby J is teething. Those cute little nubs of tooth have made their way through the gums and are continuing to make my days something else.


Baby J is now mobile. By mobile I mean she is flying across the carpet. She went from face-planting it wobbly first movements to “smooth as butter” in a matter of four days. I told Nasty Cat he has better start running now because she’s going to catch up with him.

And now, I’m proud to present to you My Exhuasted Excitement:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Pat On My Back

Younger Boy has been having some issues in his after school program as of late. He’s been experimenting with poor choice words he’s heard, getting angry when things don’t go his way and choosing to play by himself.

In other words, he’s been acting completely normal as not only a kindergartener but as the younger boy who has been getting the shaft from his biological mother and no longer the baby in either of his two families.

We had a discussion yesterday. Basically I explained to her the things we’ve been working on at home and some of the things I personally do when it comes to handling Younger Boy’s behaviors.

We’ve been working with him on trying to better understand some of these things. We had a family meeting about not using “Sad Choice” words and instead asking an adult if he’s unsure about a word. Younger Boy is very intelligent for his young age and he really grasps at vocabulary. With him I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to just calmly explain that “this” word is not OK to use and that it makes me sad to hear him say it. We even had the boys come up with the consequences for continuous use of Sad Choice words.

I’m still working on helping him to de-stress. Usually a change of his environment or giving him something physical to do helps a lot. Example, if Middle Boy (who has his own set of issues) is aggravating him I’ll often have Younger Boy come downstairs and play with playdoh or draw. I think of it as if I need a break sometimes then they certainly need a break sometimes from each other.

I also told her I was actually surprised that he was having issues playing with others. As it is Younger Boy who is always making friends and playing with others when we go out while the two older boys sit with each other isolated from everyone else. His teacher said “Perhaps he’s just tired of the kids here” which I honestly agreed could be a possibility. His friends in the after school program aren’t the kids he plays with during his kindergarten class.

Side Note: I’m looking up ways to help children learn how to play. My mom made a point to me that the three of them have either only had each other or themselves to play with and perhaps they just don’t know how to play with others. So if any of you have experience in teaching play I’d love to hear.

Back to the conversation – his teacher told me that she can relate. She too was only 2 years old when she had a stepmother come into her life. In fact, her exact words were:

“I can totally relate. I was only two when my stepmother came into my life and there were times that I just wanted to scream and kill her. But now that I’m older I’m really appreciative of how she raised me. And I just want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to you for doing what you’re doing.”

Now, the main point of this post is that it’s really weird to me when people thank me for doing what I’m doing … because what I’m doing is just being me. I’m being the best mom I know how, learning from my mistakes and hoping that even though I’m the authoritative parent that I’m making a positive difference in the kids’ lives and can help bring some sunshine back for them.

I’ve had quite a few people thank me for what I’m doing and I never really know how to respond. Usually I just say ‘Thank you, that means a lot.” Which don’t get me wrong, because it totally does mean a lot to hear. Who doesn’t like to have some validation of good to their actions? But having someone who was Younger Boy when she was a child say that to me … it really made me feel better about my role as a stepmom. And I wanted to share it with any of you that may be new or a veteran to instant parenthood. Perhaps it will help bring you a smile too. Keep on swimming. You’re doing good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It Made my Day

The other day Younger Boy was sitting down and doing his homework. It’s an activity where the sentence starts with a vocabulary word of the week and the child fill it in and draws a photo to go along with it.

I was sitting on the couch nursing Baby JC when Younger Boy came out with his paper:

YB: How do you spell your name?
Me: C-R-Y-S-T-A-L
YB: That’s it! Because I heard the “l” and that means it’s the end of your name.
Me: Oh, OK.

He went up to take a nap afterward and I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water. I noticed his homework for the day was still lying out on the table. So of course I had to go take a peek.

This is what I saw:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

If you have an inner cat lady

If you are like me and are a cat lady ... or if you're hiding an inner cat lady inside ... or if you love all the stories about Nasty Cat...then please come follow my new cat blog at

The editor of the newspaper that is published in the small town I grew up in approached me and asked if I would like to continue my cat blog (that was discontinued at work) on her blog community. Since I love talking about my cat I couldn't resist the opportunity.

And if not, it's OK. I promise I won't cry or go cat lady crazy on you. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine Indeed

I wanted to share a little something about my life now as a stepmom who now has a child of her own.

Before I used to get really upset because I felt out of the loop when it came to my instant family. FH and the boys shared that parent-child bond that I could tell was missing in my own relationship with them. I also, and still do, feel that sometimes I just don’t belong or that something is off.

I’m aware I’m their mother, yet I’ll never be their mother. Or at least at this moment in their young lives they’re just not going to “get it” how life has dramatically changed for the better with me in their lives. I won’t lie. I’m often the parent of authority. I don’t forget that they’re children but I expect them to learn responsibility, respect and independence along the way.

Often, and usually with Middle Boy, I get the feeling that I’m loathed or that I’m a big pain in the ass. And I might just be a pain in the ass as I expect them to learn to do things like make their bed, be kind to each other and to make the right choice even when they really want to do the sad choice (like hit your brother).

Also, since I don’t have that parent-child bond with them it’s sometimes hard to connect. I guess what I’m saying is that unconditional love just isn’t there from them. They might have a love for me, but it’s not the same.

Now that I have Baby JC my life feels truly blessed. Not just because I know have this amazing opportunity and gift of giving birth and having a child that I created, but I know what it feels like to have that unconditional love back. In other words, I don’t feel completely alone. If anything, having her has sort of helped me and the boys to either relate to each other or feel a bit more validated as a family.

And even on those days that I feel completely left out due to their actions, I still have her to help make me feel better. I’m not saying that every stepmom should go out and have kids. Not everyone is ready to have kids. Some people just never are.

But for me, having her around has helped me to feel less stressed and anxious over having stepkids. She also helps me to emphasize with them more. I look at her and I am able to calm down if I am angry, think about the fact that they are my kids and treat them the same way that I would think I would treat her.

I hope that makes sense. It’s hard to describe the way her being in my life has helped me to be a better stepmom. She is definitely a ray of sunshine in my life though. I think I’m a better person because of her.

This is Baby JC at 4 months old. She will be 6 months next week.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Teething, Birthday Cake and Lonely, Cat Syndrome

Normally when I’m writing an entry at 2 in the AM it’s because Jane has done something that has gotten me so furious that I just can’t sleep. Luckily that’s not the reason I’m up so late.

Baby JC is teething. The drooling, fussy, crying little dear finally fell asleep. And I don’t want to move her upstairs because I know she’ll be waking up in an hour or so to eat. Needless to say since she’s been up at all new hours of the night again with sore gums my internal clock is off. I know I ought to be sleeping, but I’m not.

I’m also waiting to finish off Older Boy’s birthday cake for his party tomorrow. This year is the year of the ice cream cakes. And for Older Boy I decided I was going to try and make my own. I was going to make both his birthday cake for his party and his special frozen peanut butter pie that I make for him every year … but then I realized that even though I sometimes think I ought to be Super Woman I am indeed only human. So the peanut butter pie will be made Sunday morning when my parent’s are here to help keep an eye on the kids, and I’m waiting on the ice cream to thaw and the cakes to cool.

I’m also trying to get some quality time in with Nasty Cat. I feel that I’ve been a horrible cat mom lately. He tends to try and get some quality time in by sitting on my lap while I’m working. That time, however, is usually short lived when Baby JC is awake. He gives me such sad, lonely looks sometimes, while other times he decides to play by chasing me up the stairs and nipping at my heels as I try to drag my butt off to bed. So while I wait for the cakes to cool he’s sitting with me here to get some of his quality time in.

Luckily Jane has come through again and has the three boys overnight at her place. Word on the street is that her man is in the interview process at a refinery closer to our neck of the woods. It would be a lot easier having her move closer to us, and hopefully the boys will be able to see her more often. That might be putting in a tall order there, but you know me. I like to look for the positive.

By the way, Older Boy will be 11 on Sunday. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I have an almost 11-year-old boy. OK, I lied. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m married and have a baby on top of having three instant kids. I’ve been here almost 2 and a half years and it still seems so new sometimes.

I’m rambling. Can you tell I’m in need of a recharge? Back to me being lucky … I get to sleep in tomorrow…At least as best as I can with a teething infant. Yay for Saturday morning!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To Mom

Younger Boy came home from school yesterday and pulled out the papers from his backpack. One of them was this gem.

I didn’t ask him about it. Usually when he brings home art he tells me that it’s for Grandma Jolie or his Aunt Raquel. He’s yet to bring something home he’s made for Jane. So when I saw the “To: Mom” I just really didn’t want to feel the shaft.

Later that evening I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. I hear FH ask Younger Boy:

FH: Who is that for?
YB: Crys

I can’t even begin to describe the bolt of joy and happiness that went through my body. I felt loved and very special. And I kind of chuckled because Younger Boy used a “DUH” inflection in his voice. It always cracks me up when he answers with that inflection that “We obviously should have known” the answer already.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Family By Younger Boy

I had to share this fabulous family photo that Younger Boy drew. When I first saw it I was little nervous of who was in the photo. In other words, I was worried that the other “30” in the photo was of Jane and not of me.

So I asked Younger Boy to tell me about his photo.

Me: So tell me about this photo you drew.
YB: Ummm
Me: Are you the king of the mountain?
YB: Ha ha! Yeah!
Me: Who else is there?
YB: (top to bottom of hill) That is Middle Boy, Older Boy, You, Daddy and Baby JC.

There are two things that cracked me up about this photo.

1. He identified us by age. Middle Boy and Younger Boy are absolutely fascinated by age. You’ll often hear them say things like “When I’m 10 I can do this….” or “When Older Boy is 16 I’ll be….” I usually follow it up with something like “Can you be 5 for now though?”

They also like to occasionally remind us how old we adults are…Which is still crazy in my mind. I’m still trying to wrap my belief around the fact that I’m married and have children…I just don’t have the time to consider that I’m also now 30!

2. In his photo I’m the tallest between FH and I. Considering I’m half Filipino I’m a whopping 5’1”!! I can thank the German and Native America genes I guess for helping to push me past the 5’ marker. FH is always small in the couple of drawings that Younger Boy has created. He wants to know why but I try to remind him that at least he was thought of. Back in the preschool days Older Boy had made a family drawing and forgotten all about FH. Needless to say my dear husband was a bit traumatized by is.

I love this photo though. The only family member he forgot to include, and I say that because he usually does include him, is Nasty Cat. But I don’t think that Nasty Cat will get too upset over it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Virtual Pat on the Back

I wanted to take a moment to give Jane a pat on the back. Not because I think she’s turned her life around or because I think a great miracle has been bestowed on us … but because I know I really appreciate credit for things I have done and I think it’s due for her.

Jane has been regularly been taking the boys overnight every Friday (with the exception of perhaps 2-3 cancellations) for the last two months (or something like that). But that’s not where I give her a virtual pat on the back.

Older Boy had a project that was accepted/chosen to be a part of the District wide Science Fair this past weekend. He and two of his friends in his 5th grade class decided to test which type of paper made the best paper airplane.

Off Topic – I was the parent home when the three of them were doing their project and keeping them on task and guiding them when they had no clue was a project in it’s own. Luckily Middle Boy and Younger Boy were away at Jane and Jolie’s for the weekend because topping that task off with an infant was pure chaos.

Back on – the Science Fair was on Saturday and neither FH or I could attend. We suggested to Older Boy that he call Jane up and invite her to it. We weren’t sure what would happen but figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least invite her. I couldn’t really tell if Older Boy was enthused or not about the idea. The first time I brought the idea up to him he kind of had a “Sure, I guess” response. Then when FH brought it up a second time he was an indifferent response. Half of a “Yeah, that’s a good idea” and half a “If you’re forcing me too I guess I will.”

Either way, Older Boy called and left a message on Jane’s voicemail which later had to be translated by FH to Jane. She later surprised us when she asked for the address to the science fair location. We were even more surprised that she actually showed up and picked up Older Boy.

So that’s one virtual pat on the back for Jane.

The second is that she and her man got a second vehicle. Not only did they get a second vehicle but it’s a van. So now there are enough seats for all 6 of them to travel and no one has to get left at home.

She also bought a booster for Middle Boy who is not yet heavy enough to be out of a booster.

I was rather relieved needless to say. I wouldn’t say I’m now carefree for when they go to her house. But knowing that they have a vehicle that can hold all 6 of them in an emergency makes me feel a lot better.

And I don’t expect this streak of effort on her part to last, but I’ll be pleasantly tickled pink if it goes on for another month or two. That would by far break her last record of putting effort into being a part of the boys lives.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Middle Boy Goes Teal

Middle Boy currently has a Mohawk growing. I won't lie. I wasn't all that thrilled with it but then I made myself take a step out of my box of “what I like” and gave much consideration to “how this makes him feel.” And I think having a Mohawk makes Middle Boy feel a bit more like he stands out from being the Middle Boy. It’s different from the styles his brothers are currently sporting and one of his friends at school has a Mohawk also so I think it helps Middle Boy feel like he fits in a little more.

Sidenote: My mom (who has worked in child development for forever now) and I had a conversation the other day about how Middle Boy’s odd personality is probably a big factor in the fact that he just has a hard time making/keeping friends. So I’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to help Middle Boy learn some skills or habits to help him with his social awkwardness.

Back to the story – I decided to embrace Middle Boy’s Mohawk which means that I’ve gone all out in supporting the growth and development of the Mohawk.

More recently … as part of a reward for being on task with his responsibilities and treating his brothers with kindness and consideration he was allowed to choose a color to dye his Mohawk. He at first wanted a neon green, however his blond hair is a bit dirty blond right now and I didn’t want to bleach it in order to get the color to show. I also didn't want him to be disappointed with a color that wouldn't show up as vibrant as he was expecting.

I showed him some darker shades of Teal and Turquoise that closely resemble his favorite shades of aquamarine. He chose the Teal. It’s a wash out after a couple of washes so I’ve had to keep coloring it about once a week. The fabulous thing is that with each color job the color is richer looking.

The first night that we dyed his hair he had the biggest, real smile I have ever seen on him throughout the past 2 and a half years that I’ve known him. It really made my heart warm inside to see him so happy because of the three of them he seems to be the one that is most down in the dumps.

I also got him some hair cement to get the effective spike to his hair style.

This, of course, needs a photo to help show the fabulous smile and showcase the Mohawk. I present, with my best superhero mask paint skills, Middle Boy’s Mohawk.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Different Boys In The Photo

We had dinner at Allison’s last night (Jane’s sister who has adopted me as her own family). I noticed some of the photos of the boys that Jane had gotten done with their little brother Trevor. It made me kind of sad and curious.

We’ve had quite a few family photos done and in all of them (for the most part) the boys are smiling and look happy and sparkly. (By sparkly I mean full of life and not covered in glitter.)

In these photos only Older Boy and Trevor were the ones smiling. Middle Boy and Younger Boy had these miserable, sad looks on their faces. I couldn’t tell if it was boredom, disinterest, true feelings coming through or a mixture of all of the above.

I always have a little chat with the boys before we take our photos where I kindly ask them to smile happily. And then throw in "Please smile pretty for your grandmas' because we're giving them these as a gift." (Which is entirely true in addition to the fact that I'd like a nice family photo of everyone smiling.) Younger Boy was the only one who acted up at our last family photo shoot but the photographer got him to smile for the photos.

I guess I was mainly surprised by a few things:

1) by their expressions. I've been in my new instant mom lifestyle for almost 3 years now. I’ve seen the three photo outcomes of the photoshoots that Jane has had done. In the first year after Trevor was just born (and after the divorce) it was Middle Boy who had a forced smile on his face. Older Boy and Younger Boy both had decent smiles on. But the last two years are the ones where Middle Boy and Younger Boy look miserable and unhappy.

2) the fact that these are the outcomes she’s getting for photos. They just look so completely different from the photo outcomes that we have gotten. I personally would not pay for a photo like that, not would I be happy if that was the best of the photos.

I consider that there are many different opportunities at play here:

Perhaps I just happen to schedule good photographers who care about the result of their photos and know how to make children smile.

Perhaps my kindly asking them to smile happily before hand makes a difference.

Perhaps the difference in our family photos just shows a reflection of the differences in our two homes.

Perhaps to Jane it doesn’t really matter and it’s more of a formality then a family keepsake.

There’s plenty more but I just was completely confuddled at the complete turn around in the comparison of the two photos. The most recent photos we had were just a day apart too. Jane had the boys take photos the day before we were taking our family photos. It’s just striking to me how different the boys look … even the smiling Older Boy lacks some of the glowing luster that he has in our family photo.

Or maybe it’s just the lighting of the studio and the fact that I put thought into the colors and clothes that the boys are wearing and Jane doesn't.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fighting For Younger Boy

I was hoping now that Younger Boy is 5, and older, and in kindergarten that perhaps Jane would give him more credit and want to include him more. However, I got myself in a little tizzy, which I was able to calm down from but it still pisses me off.

Jane informed us that they’ll be going down to a wedding at Disneyland and wanted to invite one of the boys. I suggested that FH have Younger Boy go because 1)He’s the best at handling long car trips and 2)He’s young enough to really enjoy Disneyland still. Jane’s son is going to be 3 this year so I assume they’ll be going on the age appropriate rides in Fantasyland. Older Boy is (and has expressed from past trips) that is just far too old to go on those rides, and Middle Boy is on the brink of wanting to go on the older kid rides and that the Fantasyland rides are for babies.

Back to the story … Jane shot down the idea of Younger Boy going because “She already has to deal with her son she doesn't want to have to deal with Younger Boy too.”

I've been trying to fight for Younger Boy since the first time that she intentionally voiced a request that left him out. I know that at this point I’m more of his mother than she is, but in his eyes she is his “Mommy” and he gets excited about going to her house still.

However, I’m going to assume that perhaps this is one fight not worth going after. We’re most likely going to send Middle Boy down with her and then treat Older Boy and Younger Boy to a special weekend out at one of the theme parks out here so that no one is left out on the fun.

It still, however, makes me so frustrated that she’s seems to have this stigma against including Younger Boy in her life. Perhaps it’s because she didn't raise him and doesn’t feel that connection to him that she does to the older boys? Who knows how her mind works, because we all know it’s not hardwired that great in the first place. I just tend to find myself thinking that out of all three of them he gets the raw deal the most.

I tend to bring him along with me on a lot of outings. And before he started preschool he was the one who got to go on a few trips with me because it was easier to bring him along then to find someone who could watch him while the others were at school. I can really only do so much to help him out emotionally, but I hope that by the time he’s a teenager it will have made a positive impact on him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Do You Deal With a Concern

There is one concern that I have when the boys go to stay at Jane’s overnight. There isn’t anything I can really do about it, and I try not to think about it so that I’m not sick with worry, but I feel it is a legitimate concern.

OK, technically there is more than one concern for when they stay at her place overnight but this one is a big one.

It’s the car that they have. More specifically, the lack of safe seating in the car they have. Legally and safely the car she has fits 5. More specifically, it safely fits two car seats in the back and a boy in the middle and two people up front.

When they’re over there, and the whole family goes out there are two boosters, one infant seat, one child that can sit without a car seat and two adults. Are you seeing my concern here?

When I moved in with FH and the boys I inherited his mini-van. As much as I dislike and love to hate on the mini-van I am thankful for it. It fits all of us safely in a seat of our own.

Middle Boy is technically not heavy enough to not use a booster according to California Car Seat Law, but he’s really close to being at that weight. So if it has ever been a situation where someone had to be out of a booster it’s usually him. However, even if that were the case, I just don’t understand how you can fit six people in a car that is supposed to sit 5 … especially when one of them is an infant.

I know in hard times you can’t just go out and get a new car to accommodate a bigger family, but it truly bothers me that the boys’ safety is somewhere being put at risk.

I guess my question is, does anyone have experience in how to deal with a concern like this. Is “Just not thinking about it” the one way to go about it? Or what sort of things do you do to help yourself not think about such a concern when the kids are at risk?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Just Don’t Give a Darn

Twenty Eleven is already different. I don’t know what caused it or what specific action caused me to change my perspective of Jane. But so far into 2011 I just don’t give a darn about her anymore.

I realized it last month. First she called off sick. Then some other reason came up. It was about 2 to 3 weeks that she didn't see the boys. FH was rather flustered that she wasn’t calling back and that’s when I realized I didn't care about her anymore. I told him to just let her call him back. When she wanted to see her children she’d call back. There was no use in us getting all upset because she’s a crappy mom.

I believe after a week passed by he did call her back and amazingly she called him back. However, she canceled called in sick again right before FH and the boys were about to drive out to her last week. Luckily they hadn't left yet. Instead of getting furious like I normally did I found myself shrugging it off thinking "oh well, her loss."

We still try to set aside the one day of the week that she hopefully will be seeing them, but my anger toward her incompetence as a responsible, caring mother has lessened to where it’s only going to spark if she has physically harmed them. I can’t imagine what sort of emotional harm she’s done, but my job is to make sure that we’re loving and supportive of them in our home. And to make sure that no matter what she does we’re consistent and provide a good stable, loving home for them.

It also could be that FH is suspicious that she is pregnant again. The man has seen her pregnant four times now … I wouldn't put it past her either now that I gave birth to the daughter she’s always wanted. In which if it turns out she is I’m absolutely disgusted with her, but if I continue to distance myself from her then my personal well being won’t be disrupted with her sad choice making.

My family and home come first before I stick my neck out to worry about her feelings anymore. In the past 2 ½ years her actions have shown me that she’s in it for herself, and not for the boys. Older Boy and Young Boy’s actions toward her are already indicators that she’s continuing to dig her own hole.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From “The Boys” to “A Boy”

My parent’s have been wonderful in terms of accepting my instant family as their own. A photo of the boys hangs in their living room, the boys get excited when they find out we’re seeing them and give them both hugs, and my parents have shown a great interest in the boys well being.

Starting last summer they started making arrangements to spend some one-on-one time with the boys. Each month they take one of the boys for a night or two so the boy of the month can get some individual time away.

This month was Older Boy’s turn. My dad brought him to a Shark’s hockey game and got him a hockey puck. I got a great photo text from my mom of him sleeping with his puck. It was really cute. I also found out that Older Boy was rather sad to have to leave.

At first I thought “oh, he doesn’t enjoy home” then I wizened up and realized it’s because he had just had the rare luxury of being an only kid for a couple of days. We try to make sure to spend individual time with each of them when we can, but with four kids (one being an infant) now that is a bit hard sometimes.

They also have always been the three of them for so long now I wonder if everyone kind of views them as “the boys.” And if it’s not the three of them it’s two of them. Because of their situation being in the spotlight really is a luxury to them. I didn’t think much of it until my told me about a conversation with my cousin’s fiancĂ©.

He too was a child of divorce. And when he found out that my parent’s were the ones who asked if they could spend some get to know you time with each of the boys alone said “I wish someone had thought to do that with me.”

I too had a younger sibling, but I did get alone time here or there. OR if both of us went over to a family friend’s place there were siblings our age so we weren’t stuck with just each other to play with.

I’ve gotten the impression that perhaps the boys are tired of being “the boys” and would each like to be “a boy.” I may not be able to control how others treat them, and I may not always be able to do something lavish like take them out on a Crys and boy dinner date, but I’d like to see FH and I make more of an effort to single each boy out.

We’ve started with Older Boy by making sure he has a day to help make dinner each week. FH has come up with some activities that he can do with each boy also. I think it’s important for him to try and spend some more one-on-one time with each of them. We’ve brainstormed some other ideas too but I’d love to hear of any suggestions on ideas or personal experiences from you ladies.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January Updates and The Pee Dilemma

Some days I don’t know how I manage to do all that I do. I thought three instant kids and a cat was a bit of infant, three instant kids and a cat is much more effort. Obviously it leaves me little time for blogging and I feel rather lonely without my blog world friends. As it is, if it weren’t for Facebook and texting I probably wouldn’t be able to talk with my other friends as it is. Anyway, I’m sneaking some time away from work while the work load is light and while Miss JC is napping to come say hello.

I couldn’t let the entire month of January go by without at least one big update.

Birthday Bonanza
January is definitely a birthday bonanza. Middle Boy is now 8 and both FH and I are 30. I’m not feeling fun and flirty, but I don’t feel dirty. Thirty had definitely felt humbling. Now that I have a child of my own that feeling of real responsibility is overwhelming. I make sure to try and go have fun once a week. Even if it is with JC in tow. I find a great pleasure in sharing her with my friends and family.

Boys & The Pee Dilemma
Middle Boy and Younger Boy have continued to drive me up the wall and cause me to ponder just where that duct tape has gone. Middle Boy is learning the hard way about making good choices. He’s had many an occurrence where he has been asked to do something or not to do something and decides to do his own thing. That just doesn’t fly around here. His birthday celebration with his friends has been pushed to the end of the month because of his behavior. It’s been downgraded also to a pizza party with two of his friends.

Younger Boy seems to be completely over having a baby sister and not being the baby anymore. Although he too has shaped up his decision making also by a tad bit. His incident includes the bathroom. As the story goes…

I walked into the bathroom one night and stepped in a puddle. To my dismay it was definitely pee. (I did the paper towel test – and the towel turned yellow.) I at first thought maybe it was one of the boys but then noticed that the litterbox was a bit nasty so then changed my mind to thinking perhaps it was Nasty Cat being angry and lashing out by peeing on the floor. I vowed to clean it out the next day. I asked him why must he pee on my floor and he looked at me like I was an idiot.

I was a complete jerk Cat Mom though and forgot to clean it. So the next day I found two puddles of pee on the bathroom floor. I threw my hands in the air and under the watchful eye of Nasty Cat I cleaned out the litter box completely, sweep and mopped the floor, and then poured fresh clean litter in. Nasty Cat was quite pleased and hopped in to use it.

However, the next day I found another puddle on the floor. I was confused at this point. So I cleaned it up. Nasty Cat watched me and I asked him what his problem was. That afternoon I watched Younger Boy walk into the bathroom. After I dropped him off at his after school program I thought to go look in the bathroom and as I suspected there was a puddle of pee on the ground. I apologized to Nasty Cat who gave me the "You idiot" look. I think he was still pleased that his litter box got the grand cleaning though.

After he came home that evening I asked him if he was the one that had peed on the floor. At first he told me that he had forgotten how to pee. Then after some clever questions on my part he informed me that he peed on the floor because he “had to pee super bad.” I informed him that he needed to go to the bathroom when he felt that he had to “kind of pee” instead of having to “pee super bad.” I also informed him that if he peed on the floor he needed to clean it up himself.

This has been a struggle lately as I’ve noticed that he’s been doing his pee dance again and grabbing his crotch when he has to go instead of going. The up is that when he peed on the floor last night he did come and ask for paper towels so he could clean it up.

Baby Updates
Baby JC is now 3 months (technically on week 3 of being 3 months). She is at the phase where she is testing out her voice and she’s been babbling to herself and to me. It’s really cute. She also has learned to flip over from her stomach onto her back and is playing with some toys now. She also has discovered her feet and is a master at getting her socks off so she can play with her toes. I love it!

Here is a current pick of JC demonstrating her sock pulling skills.