Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Out Sick and A Scary Experience

Hi everyone. I have been out sick all week. I assume it has something to do with the kids being sick, and the kids spending extra time over in the nasty house and bringing germs home. Being around tons of people for the holidays and getting worn out going all over the place for the holidays.

It’s definitely the flu. And it sucks. FH used a sick day yesterday to help take care of me. Today he had to go back to work, and I’m on the mend but not totally better. Keep your fingers crossed that the boys remember I’m sick and are nice to me today because all three of them are still here on winter break from school.

I have one new experience to share though from this week. It was terrifying.

On Sunday FH dropped off Older Boy and Younger Boy for Jane. Middle Boy was sick so he stayed home. FH also had Jane sign the latest visiting schedule which stated that he would be picking the boys up the next day, Monday, at 8pm at Jolie’s (her mom).

Well, Monday night came and FH left for Jolie’s. Around 8:40pm he called me because Jane wasn’t there. Jane wasn’t answering her cell phone and her boyfriend’s phone was turned off. Both Jolie and Jane’s aunt tried calling her also and both were unable to get through. I tried calling Jane’s sister and she hadn’t heard anything from her either.

Jolie offered FH to call him if Jane came by later or if she dropped them off in the morning. I’m not sure what either of you would have done but I was on the edge of freak out. I told FH that I would prefer that he drive to Jane’s house just to make sure.

In my mind I had three options going on:
1. She’d skipped town with the kids.
2. She hit her head and was lying unconscious on the ground of her home.
3. She had forgotten, and she wasn’t answering because she has this habit of losing her phone.

FH called me about a half hour later to report that the latter was correct. Jane had forgotten she was supposed to drop them off and had apparently left her phone in a location that she could not hear it ringing.

I don’t think I need to mention how pissed FH was. He was good though and didn’t freak out in front of the boys. But we did make a note of the incident in her binder where we keep all of the notes and signed calendars.

It was oh so very scary not knowing where the boys were. But I’m glad that it turned out OK in the end. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to experience that again, and that none of you have to experience it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

So I Wrinkled My Nose

Remember the great lengths Jane went to with the lies and manipulation attempts to make sure the boys were with her for Christmas (all day) for her aunt who has leukemia but has currently been in remission for the past year?

Well, we asked her which days she would like the boys over their winter break. You know, since they’re not in school for two weeks. She didn’t want them any extra days outside of her once-a-week day with them.

So despite the fact that the boys are available for days of overnight visiting – they’re going to see her 7pm Sunday night until 8pm Monday night both weeks of their winter break … with the exception of Christmas Eve evening to the morning of that following Saturday.

I guess all day Christmas Day kind of evens it out. But I’m not going to lie. My irritation this time has some selfish fueling in wanting to have some quiet work days without three children doing the children things they do. Trust me when I say it’s much easier to do my job when there isn’t fighting and arguing and crying occurring. But, considering I survived summer vacation I guess I can make it through winter break especially since they’re both short work weeks.

When FH told me she didn’t want any extra days with them I could have gotten all angry and frustrated. But no, I merely wrinkled my nose in slight disgust. I touched upon how interesting it was that she was all hot heated because she wasn’t getting her 40% of the time and here she was not even trying to get them any of the extra days when there wasn’t someone else benefiting from the boys presence (her aunt for Christmas and her son for the birthday party) and dismissed it with a “Whatever. Her loss.”

That’s big progress on my end on keeping my anger and frustration under control ... in my opinion.

I hope you all have a fun and happy holiday season with your families!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Actions Cause Reactions

My Editorial Directior had a post it on her desk that said “Actions Cause Reactions.” It had become my mantra almost two years ago when I had first noticed it. It helped when it came to dealing with a lot of difficult people both in and out of the workplace. It has continued to be my mantra into my new life as an instant mother in a new family.

I’ve decided to look at “this” in a whole new light.

First off – I’ve concluded that I got so heated because Jane lied and tried to manipulate. There’s nothing I dislike more than a liar and a manipulator. Generally I cut those types of people out of my life because I have no room for those types of people. However, considering I signed myself up to participate in the packaged deal – She’s the fine writing at the bottom. Damn – Right?

So that brings me to this other saying I’ve learned throughout life to embrace over the years.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
– Maya Angelou

And I’ve come to realize that I can’t change Jane. But I can control how I see and perceive things. So my new perspective on this Christmas is that FH and I will be able to spend our first holiday together with each other.

I’m going to embrace the opportunity to spend a special day with the loving, wonderful man I have given my love and trust to. We will get to spend time with the boys later, and I’m OK with that. But in the mean time I will cherish and take advantage of the opportunity to sit back with FH and a cup of wine and enjoy some time together – Just the two of us (and the cat).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Younger Boy Gets the Last Word

Ever since I’ve found myself spending about 24/7 with Younger Boy I find myself in the strangest arguments. And by the time I’ve realized I’m in the middle of a ridiculous squabble with a pre-schooler he has already put in the last word and won.

YB: What do birds say?
Crys: They say Squawk!
YB: No they don’t!
Crys: Yes they do!
YB: No they don’t! Penguins say Squawk. Birds say Tweet.
Crys: Well, birds can say Squawk too.
YB: Oh.
Crys: Yup
YB: Well, whales make music in the ocean. [Play that one in a Toddler voice Matter-of-fact tone]

I guess that was him having the last word on that because quite honestly, how do you follow up to that?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let The Holiday Festivities Begin!

This last weekend FH and I decided we should get into the swing of celebrating the holidays. Saturday FH took the two older boys out to pick out a Christmas tree. It’s cute and small and doesn’t overpower our apartment.

Last year we had to get a small tree to put up high on a table because Fat Cat is notorious for trying to climb Christmas trees. This year we got another small tree, but Nasty Cat is the only cat we have to keep an eye on since Fat Cat went back to live with my parents.

In following tradition with last year we brought home ornaments for the boys to decorate. At the moment all of the ornaments we have are the ones that we have made either here as a family or that the boys have made at school. Considering it’s a small tree our homemade ornaments fill it up quite nice. This year we brought home wooden stars for the boys to paint. Then we posted a photo of them from this year and put their name and the year on the back.

We also picked out a new patch for our stockings – Another tradition that we started last year. Since Jane had all of their stockings and my personal stocking is with my parents we thought it might be a nice idea to get new stockings for everyone and to put a patch each year. In my opinion they’re all really cute and I think the boys like being able to help decorate and choose what they would like on theirs. This year I added a sparkly martini glass patch to mine.

And we started one more new tradition. This year we decorated a gingerbread house. When I was little my sister and I would get to help decorate one with my dad and from what I remember it was a lot of fun. The boys hadn’t had the opportunity and both FH and I thought that they’d like to do one. I looked up a couple of recipes and finally decided that it wouldn’t hurt anyone to by a pre-made kit.

So last night the boys all took turns working together to put decorations on the house. It was really nice to see that the three of them were able to take turns and decide upon designs together. It was a refreshing moment from the usual bickering. FH even got in on the action by placing one gum drop on the roof, while I was the mistress of the icing.

Although as much fun as the boys had decorating I think their favorite part was when we were done and I let them lick up some of the frosting that I put on a plate.

Have any of you created any new traditions to do as a new family? I’m curious to see what other things blended families do together to create new holiday traditions.

And some holiday photos for your viewing enjoyment!

Middle Boy painting his ornament:

Our tree:

The finished gingerbread house:

And by popular demand! Stockings!

Last year's patches were the fish. This year he wanted the owl.

And mine! Last years were my purple flowers. This year the sparkly martini glass which FH found for me. I was going to get some ladybugs but FH found the perfect patch!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Letter Short

I thought I’d send you an update about the progress with Younger Boy and working on Preschool activities at home. We discovered a great kids TV show the other day. It’s called Word World. Basically everything in the world is made of letters – literally made of letters. The dog’s body is made out of the letters d-o-g. We came across it after watching Sesame Street. It was kind of creepy but looked really cute at the same time so I decided it was OK to watch.

I’m pretty glad we did. As soon as the show was done Younger Boy jumped up and ran over to our refrigerator where we have those plastic magnetic alphabet letters. The problem is that we only have one set, but it works great for spelling small words. Younger Boy wanted to spell some of the words we had seen in the show so we spelled “dog” and “web.” He would say the word we were going to spell. Then I would ask him to find each individual letter and we would put them together to form the word.

I’m still trying to figure out just how much he knows. He can sing his alphabet song, but I’m not sure how much of that is memorization and how much is actually knowing. So we went through the alphabet and I had him grab each letter. There were a couple of letters he said he didn’t know so I made a mental note of those. But he did recognize and was able to find a good majority of the letters. I was pretty proud.

And this conversation ended our word spelling activity for the day. Apparently I need a couple more vowel magnets. (My apologies for those that are friends on my facebook page, but it was too precious to pass up.)

*playing with the magnetic letters on the fridge. We only have one set of the alphabet*

YB: How do you spell cat?
Crys: C-A-T
YB: Oh! How do you spell fox?
Crys: F-O-X
YB: How do you spell HBO?
Crys: You spell HBO
Crys: Good Job!
YB: How do you spell pee?
Crys: P?
YB: Yes. How do you spell pee? *does the 'I need to potty' crotch grab*
Crys: P-E .... well. You need another E. But we only have one.
YB. Oh. P-E-E?
Crys: Do you have to go potty?
YB: Yes.
Crys: Then go! You don't need my permission.
YB: ok.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dousing the Anger - What I'm Thankful For

There are so many words I could use for the way I felt tonight after Jane’s latest actions of demanding the children for Christmas day with lies, manipulation and rubbish. A few of them could be anger, fury, wrath, disgust, resentment, etc. It was at the point where I was really getting angry with everyone. I was also angry with FH because it seemed that he was willing to just give in to her demand and temper tantrum. I was angry with myself for letting myself get so angry in the first place. I have never known anger to be this raw and bitter and powerful before in my life. I didn’t know it was possible to feel all of this.

I sat here wanting to write to you all and ask if you ever had this moment where you just looked up and asked “What the heck am I doing in this mess?” or decided “Dammit! I’m done with this!” Anger does that I’ve discovered. It makes you not want to continue addressing your wedding invites because at the moment the bile in your stomach is threatening to rise at the thought of getting trapped in this situation for good.

So I decided I needed to figure out a way to douse the anger. I was looking for any way to let it go and to try and calm down. Writing it out, meditating, watching my favorite TV shows, and breathing exercises…Nothing seemed to put out the raging fire that had sprung up inside. I ended up talking to my best friend Summer and writing an e-mail to Allison (because she sent me one asking what was going on.) I calmed down, but I still could feel a flame just waiting for fuel to ignite and flare again.

So I decided that since I had calmed down this much what I needed to do was stop thinking about all the things that I was angry about. I had to stop fueling the anger inside because it was only continuing to poison my heart. So I decided that I need to focus on the positive things. And as hard as it is to not think about the things that have angered me – I need to just not do it. So I’d like to list the things I’m thankful for. If I can think about what my rays of sunshine are I hope to “get over it” for now at least.

  • I’m thankful for a supportive family and supportive friends.
  • I’m thankful for wine, Crown Royal, vanilla vodka and Kahlua.
  • I’m thankful for cheesecake.
  • I’m thankful for a nice hot cup of coffee.
  • I’m thankful for a job, as chaotic as it can be; it is a paying job with benefits.
  • I’m thankful for managers who are always looking out for me at work and helping to challenge me and teach me skills to advance in my career.
  • I’m thankful for the ability to know that I am angry and that I can either choose to stay angry or I can choose to do something else.
  • I’m thankful for the ability to choose to do something else.
  • I’m thankful for Nasty Cat. He smells like stinky cat. He bugs me trying to be my shadow. He puts his nasty paws on my face when he wants me to wake up. But he also knows when I just need a little furry kitty to snuggle up next to me.
  • I'm thankful to have the ability to choose whether or not I want to be in this situation.
  • I’m thankful to have stumbled upon this circle of other mothers, stepmothers, fathers, stepfathers.
  • I’m thankful that I’m not alone in the chaos of instant parenthood.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a positive influence in the boys’ lives.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to see their eyes light up when they discover something new.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to see them learn new things, to discover things about themselves and find their independence.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to give them good night hugs every night, and to wish them sweet dreams.
  • I’m thankful that no matter how the morning goes they still wave goodbye to me when I drop them off at school.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to feel this kind of love for these child, even though the children aren't biologically mine.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to choose to put their well being before my own wants and desires. It has by far been the most challenging thing but I’ve learned a lot about myself because I have done so.
  • I’m thankful for FH – even if he sometimes drives me up the wall with his man ways.
  • I’m thankful that our paths crossed again – even though it has drastically changed my life.
  • I’m thankful that even though he may not always respond to me and my emotional outbursts the way I wish he would he is supportive and thankful and appreciative of me.
  • I’m thankful to have a person that loves me unconditionally.
  • I’m thankful to have found a person that I can honestly say that I love unconditionally.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tired of the Flu

Well, the title of this entry should give you all a big clue of where I’ve been the past week. It all started on Sunday … last Sunday. The boys were staying over at Jane’s because her day with them was going to be Monday, and since they had the week off from school we thought it would be a good idea to let them stay the night.

Except at 1:03am (Monday morning) we got a phone call from Jane because Middle Boy was feverish, babbling incoherently and delusional. Now, not to discredit Jane, but Middle Boy sleepwalks. When he sleep walks he babbles incoherently and doesn’t know what’s going on. When he’s sick and not feeling well he does this often. But he did have a 103 degree fever so I can only assume he was really loopy. And let me just tell you how the conversation started out:

FH: Hello
Jane: How long has he been sick?

You know ... because we always send sick children over there.

She called again at 1:15am to tell us that she was bringing him to the emergency room. This meant that we had to get out of bed and meet her there. Now, I was not pleased ... especially since I had just driven a 7 hour drive from Southern California to Northern California. Not that I’m against being safe than sorry, but I didn’t see it as an emergency room trip that needed to happen. Having to drag my butt out of bed didn’t infuriate me as much as when they finally arrived and Middle Boy (who was the reason we were there) had on one sock and one bare foot.

So Jane and FH went with Middle Boy to see the doctor who apparently had a look on his face of “Oh boy, another one of these.” Meanwhile I, Jane’s guy, Older Boy, Younger Boy and Jane’s baby all had a camp out in the waiting room. I learned some interesting stuff about their life at home. And I was rather interested in the part where he told me that he was feeling sick and dizzy and not well. (You know, considering that she was blaming us for sending a sick kid over there.) I also held my tongue on many occasions when Jane’s guy said some stuff that sure as heck made it sound like Jane doesn’t see the boys because we moved across the bridge. Man I was proud that I held my tongue and didn’t shoot back with “Well you know if she actually put effort into trying to see them and didn’t cancel on them ever two to three weeks” coupled with “well these are the choices she made and we’re always willing to work with her schedule to fit in an extra day.” Let’s just say I was proud.

We didn’t leave until after 5am. The doctor sent us home with the instructions to give Middle Boy a lot of rest, fluids and children’s fever reducers. Luckily both FH and I were able to use a sick day for work because we were both exhausted and I really don’t think I would have been able to sleep and then wake up at 7am to work. And the boys came home with us. Some of you may remember “this” but Jane doesn’t enjoy having the boys with her if they’re sick. That apparently is our job as she so willingly sent them home with us. OK, I lied. What really infuriated me was that she didn’t say goodbye to them. They were all awake. Both I and FH asked her if she was going to/wanted to say goodbye. She ignored us as if she hadn’t heard us. I bid her a safe drive home. She replied she wasn’t driving and that was that. The fact of the situation though was that I didn't have time be angry. My energy was needed at home to take care of the boys, and my priority is them.

Long story short – that set the energy level for my week. I was exhausted all week long. And trying to make sure Middle Boy was being taking care of, making sure Older Boy and Younger Boy were healthy, doing all the other things I do around the house, and then eventually at the weeks end having to take care of a sick Older Boy and FH … I am still trying to catch up on the energy level.

So here’s hoping that my home is a flu-free home sooner than later, and that all of your homes are healthy and flu-free too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memo To Younger Boy – Boys Have a Penis & Girls Don’t

Memo: To Younger Boy
Dept: Preschooler Unit
From: Crys
Subject: Boys Have a Penis & Girls Don’t

Younger Boy. First off I wanted to thank you for your help and assistance when your cousins Max and Tracie were over last Saturday. Specifically in the fact that you not only played nicely with Tracie who is a year younger than you, currently potty training, and learning to use her words instead of baby talk.

I thought it was very nice of you to play with her, to share your trains and your motorized hamsters with her. While I know that she often snatched (Footnote 1) the toys from you while you were trying to play with them, I am most impressed with your choice to use your words instead of screaming and crying and snatching it back. I am very proud of this progress in your behavior. It was also very helpful considering there were five children under my care that day (especially since your father was at work for most of it.)

And now I would like to get to the main point of this memo. I’ve come to realize that you might have some confusion about Tracie and going to the bathroom. On a quick side note I would like to thank you for your assistance in helping make sure that Tracie went potty on the toilet and not in her pants. I was very thankful to hear you say “I’m going to go potty too” or “Do you need to go potty? I need to go potty.” I think that your actions as a role model helped to prevent a couple of possible accidents that day.

On one occurrence I went to go peer around the corner just in case Tracie needed help. I noticed that you showed Tracie how to urinate while standing up. I’m pretty sure from the look of awe on her face that she was not only impressed with your ability to pee standing up, but also fascinated that you are able to pee standing up.

I think she actually considered giving it a try until I decided to step in and help her to sit down on the toilet. Now, I’m aware that you had a look of confusion on your face. You seemed to be most confuddled by this action. Let me explain.

Boys have a penis and girls don’t. Boys pee standing up and girls have to sit down to pee. However, yes, boys and girls both do have to sit down to poop.

I hope that this explanation is adequate enough for right now. I think that we can go into more detail when you get older. But I felt that it was necessary to at least give you the knowledge of these basic facts since you seemed confused by your experience in trying to help give Tracie potty training lessons.

Please direct any further questions to your father. Thank you.

Kind Regards,
Crys, House Co-Director

1: “Snatched” was the word of the day that day. I heard it from each of the five children that day. I’m also pretty convinced that Nasty Cat used the word “snatched” when all five children decided that his toys were the coolest toys to play with.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Need to Purge and Release

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and understanding. I think a lot of it was a ton of built up stress, and the fact pointed out that FH and I really need to try to get some time to ourselves to work on our relationship. If we don’t take care of us then there is a greater chance it just won’t work out. Right?

I very much needed to get the feelings out, and then sleep on it. I felt a bit better this morning, although I’m still stressed.

Another part of it is just stress from wedding planning. I never dreamed I’d be paying for my own wedding, at least I always figured I’d have some financial help. But in the current economy both our parents are strapped for cash as well. I also never counted on having to pay for three kids that weren’t mine. Considering FH and I are the only ones providing for them, that down right frustrates me when I’m no longer able to treat myself to my once a month splurge.

I finally allowed myself to order coffee from a coffee shop as my treat for the month because it had been about two months since I had done so.

Another stressor is that FH got a second job on the weekends, which leaves me and the boys home all weekend together. It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with just me and the boys, but it was a very long weekend without him there. Especially since on Saturday I wasn’t sure of when he’d be home and it was a very long waiting day. And then on Sunday the boys decided it would be the day to not listen, bother each other without mercy, and to totally act up to the point that I was pulling my hair out.

A big part of me wishes that I had been the one to pick up a second job just for the sanity of getting out of the house and conversing with others. But another part of me thinks a second job would not be mentally sound for me right now. I’ve always been the super do it all woman, but lately I’m just exhausted with all the current stress factors.

I also just don’t know who to turn to sometimes. It’s bad enough I’ve never had an easy time reaching out. But when it comes to feeling frustrated about the situation it’s not easy to talk to just anyone about it. I feel like if I don’t get it out then I’m going to bottle it up. And yet on the second hand I need to work on not getting so frustrated with it. Jane’s not going to change and this is most likely how life will continue to be.

BTW, thank you for the idea of swapping babysitting nights. I know I have other people out there who are always willing and have told me to let them know if we would like a night off. I think in the madness of wedding planning events the last two and half weeks and feeling pinched because we just don’t have any money to spare this week (it’s the week in the month where I pay all my big bills and FH doesn’t have any money left over either) I’m just feeling like I’ve dug myself into a big hole and I can’t figure out how to get out.

I find that even though I’ve been doing this for a year there are still a lot of things I’m having to adjust and adapt too when it comes to having children in your life. I assume this is something almost every parent feels as their child grows and becomes a different person. Throwing sass one day and hugs the next. I also assume that the fact that I’m raising someone else’s children with no previous experience of my own is another punch being thrown at me.

I’ve Felt Smothered

I have felt so smothered these past couple of weeks. I have been so incredibly busy, so incredibly broke, and so incredibly on edge. I have not had any real time to relax, unwind and recharge. I’ve had a couple of opportunities that just didn’t do the job. My future hubby and I haven’t really had a chance to spend time together either. It is so frustrating.

Can we backup to one of the main reasons why I feel so suffocated and smothered and stuck? Jane has canceled left and right for one reason or another. She canceled the first week of October because she was sick. She canceled the second week of October because she didn’t time manage accordingly. She saw the boys the third week and even doubled up the fourth week. And yet, FH and I weren't able to have a date night alone any of these days due to errands and things we had to do. Then she skipped the first week of November because she didn’t get her shit together and let us know her days off until it was at the point that our schedule was busy and planned. And she was fine with that since she had seen them twice the week before. And now, she's canceled tonight's visit.

Seriously!?! I need a date night alone with FH. I need a night alone. I need a night out with the girls or myself or my friends that doesn’t involve feeling stuck here during gaming night. I don’t know what I need. I need a break from all of it before I completely freak out. I need a break from being an instant mom for just a couple of hours. Who am I kidding, I need a spa day where I can focus on and take care of me. I need a day to be number one again because throwing myself into instant motherhood cold turkey has been insane.


I’m anxiously awaiting Friday. Friday I’m heading out to that small little middle of an orchard in the middle of no where town I grew up in to hang out with my best friend from high school. I keep trying to ground myself with the chant of “This is the choice you made” but it really doesn’t help all that much … Especially when lately it’s been followed by a silent “What the hell was I thinking?”

There have been moments when I’ve found myself thinking “There is a reason you were single and without kids” and then I remind myself “You’re engaged and have instant kids. Deal with it.” Some of you might know that feeling. I think that’s the only thing helping at this moment. Knowing that I’m not the first and I’m not the last that is going to have to deal with this.

I’m not alone. And as crappy as the situation is, and as much as I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, it helps to know that I’m not alone. So thank you to all of you for choosing to be in the situation too.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

He Duped Me!

I like to pretend that I can’t be fooled by the boys. I can almost always see right through their attempts to lie or manipulate the other brothers in situations. I always thought “I’ll be just like my mom and see through all the B.S.” Then I’m reminded of all the times that I duped my mom. There’s still stuff I’ve done that she doesn’t know about.

The best was a couple of year’s ago when my ex-highschool sweetheart’s stepmom (who loves me still) introduced her in a drunken swagger as “This is the mother of the girl that took my son’s virginity.” Oh yes, that was awesome.

Anyway, so I like to think that I can see through it.

And then there is the other night when I was tired, and cranky, and exhausted. And a whiny, tired, cranky Younger Boy came up to me holding out his toothbrush and tube of training toothpaste to me and says:

YB: Can you please put squeeze the toothpaste for me?
Me: Sure, OK, here you go.
YB: Thank you.

And as he walks away my future hubby says:

FH: So Younger Boy suddenly can’t do anything that he knows how to do?
Me: He doesn’t know how to squeeze out the toothpaste by himself.
FH: Oh yeah? He did it just fine by himself last night.
Me: Damn.

That little stinker duped me! You best bet he squeezed his own toothpaste out tonight when he tried it again. Ha!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Should I Keep Track of Communication?

I think October was the month of stress, money-draining, busy frustrations. Obviously by my lack of updates I was not around much. I think October was the month of updates for my blog. And I have some stuff to post, but I’m going to wait until later this week to get them out. I have an agenda for this entry.

Actually it’s more of an opinion gathering from all of you.

As some of you know, and some of you are learning, I make the visiting schedules for Jane to see the boys. I do this because one wasn’t set in place when the divorce was going through court. I also do this because Jane doesn’t put much effort forth into seeing the boys, so unless we nag her to give us the dates she has off from work, hand her a calendar and say these days work for us do they work for you, and hope she doesn’t cancel … the boys don’t get to see her. I also plan out our weekly meals to help budget our groceries and not knowing which days I’m not going to have to cook dinner I usually end up with stuff for an extra meal. Which I guess isn’t a bad thing, but more annoying to spend money we could use for something else.

I’ve adopted the stance that just because she’s not responsible doesn't mean that I’m going to slack off too. Someone has to look out for the boys, and make sure that their feelings, well being and rights are being met. So this is my effort. I try to make sure that I’m not being her personal assistance, because I’ve gotten plenty angry about being it. So my attitude is that I’m the boys’ care taker, and that I make these efforts for the boys and not to do Jane a favor.

This week we don’t have any days planned for the boys to see Jane. She hasn’t told us any of her days off. And the week is already getting filled up with wedding planning stuff, and social engagements. Hopefully she’ll have Saturday or Sunday available. And even better hopefully she’ll give us a call and let us know which days she has off.

As some of you may also know, I have both her and FH sign and date each schedule I make. Then we give copies to Jane, Jolie (Jane’s mom), and keep the original in a binder. I make notes on scheduled days that she cancels on (in my binder), and whatever excuse she’s given us.

Given the current situation of her not getting back to us with her available dates happens often, what I’d like to know your opinion on is do you think it is necessary to start keeping a log on when we contact her, and when she gets back to us about her days off?

And if we should what should I keep track of? Here is what I'm considering so far:

Date of call
What happened (Message left/conversation subjet)

Is there anything more I should consider keeping track of when it comes to phone calls? Do I need to be more detailed?

I know that sounds super OCD but I don’t want to give her an opportunity to ever say that we prevented her from seeing the boys. I want all my ducks counted, in a row and a paper trail of anything and everything to prevent this.

And to the point, I don’t want her to ever try and say that we didn’t let her see the boys. Especially if it was because she didn’t call us, didn’t call us back, and/or totally slacked on finding out and relaying her days off to us.

So what do you think?

And thank you in advance. I really appreciate all thoughts and opinions you all leave for me. It helps me to see things from the outside – and to take others’ experience in the life of stepfamilies and such.

To end on a positive note, here is the cake that I created for Younger Boy’s 4th birthday party. This year he wanted a blue Blues Clues cake. However, I couldn’t find a bottle of blue food coloring (I need a tablespoon to make the color) so I had to make it green. I had no complaints for creating a green Blues Clues cake.

Happy 4th Birthday Younger Boy!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting Back to the Basics of Learning

As some of you may remember, I’ve decided to work with Younger Boy on learning some preschool basics while he’s home. This past week we have been working on tracing and learning the letters. He’s been very excited. I’m not sure what he’s absorbing, but I do know that he really wants to do it. In the middle of coloring yesterday he asked if he could write letters. I don’t even think I could describe my excitement in the fact he initiated the want to write some letters.

We’ve worked our way up to G so far. We tried some free-hand letters but his little hands just can’t quite grasp the crayon the way you’re supposed to be holding it in order to write. So I’ve been writing the letters down and letting him trace over them with a different colored crayon.

I also have letter magnets on the fridge and we’ve been going over some of the letters and words that start with them. Like Thomas starts with the letter T and Olivia starts with the letter O. I don’t expect him to get it, but I’m still excited that he’s been asking what letter different words start with.

He wants so very much to be like his older brothers and to be able to read and write. I want to embrace his excitement to learn and do things, but I want to make sure that I’m doing it right. I need to dumb it down I guess – get back to the basics. I’ve found that to be one of my more challenging things lately when it comes to teaching and helping the boys learn. Remembering how hard it was to learn simple things like letters and adding, because I learned all of that so long ago. Taking that step back is a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I have confidence that I can do this.

I’ve been thinking about getting some letter stencils or alphabet specific coloring books. I’m thinking more hands on things instead of flashcards since he is going to be 4-years-old., but I wanted to see if any of you have any ideas of other things I can get to help teach him the letters and to become familiar with handling crayons?

Younger Boy writing his letters.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Updates – Cats and Kids, Preschool & Meeting Jane

So before I went MIA for two weeks straight I thought I ought to jump on, wave hello and let you all know that I’m still kicking. October is by far a busy month, socially and work wise. And I haven’t been able to have much of a break because Jane canceled the last two weeks for one reason or another. I’m really feeling it, but I’ll make it. FH and I are flying out to St. Louis for a friend’s wedding. So we’re totally going to soak up some time together.

Cats and Kids
I’m writing a blog for work now for our cat website. It’s about blending a new family with instant kids and a cat. I’m only one entry in so far but I’m hoping that people will like my blog and I’ll get to blog more frequently. Right now I’m at about once a week and I already have a huge list of things to talk about when it comes to cats and kids. I'm really excited because not only do I get to talk about my cat as much as I want (because I do talk about Nasty Cat a lot), but I also get to put a face out there for being a stepmom. I always like to think of me and my cat as a packaged deal of our own. Especially for those moments that FH is not pleased with something that Nasty Cat has done. He brought the kids and I brought the cat...that's just how it is. Take it or leave it.

After much discussion, although we could afford to send Younger Boy to the preschool run by the city, it would not be helping us save money for the wedding. I really took to heart all of your comments about how well he’s been learning at home with me. So we’ve decided to wait until next year to send him to preschool. In the mean time I’ve bought some materials and resources so that I can work with Younger Boy at home on learning basic things like tracing, letters, counting and creative play. I’m also going to be looking into the local library hours and possibly some playgroup opportunities.

Meeting Jane
That alone explains this part of the update. It was two weeks ago at her kid’s first birthday party. On the way over I had decided that I was going to go in and meet Jane. A big part of it was because Allison was going to be there and I knew that it would help me feel stronger and less intimidated. Another part was that I realized that I wasn’t as intimidated by the thought of Jane as I used to be. I think meeting her in a public place in front of everyone was a good choice. Although, she had the chance to meet me earlier this year for Allison’s daughters’ birthday party so this wasn’t the first opportunity. I guess it also didn’t hurt that I was in one of those “I’m going to walk in there like I own this position” moods I get in before a job interview. Confidence has never failed me.

It was cake. We walked in and I got big hugs from Allison and her family. I was welcomed by her aunt. And then I pretty much introduced myself to her mid-conversation when it was apparent that no one else was going to do it. I think she was more intimidated by me being there. Especially when we went to pick the boys up because they came over to give us hugs. We lingered a bit afterward talking to Allison. Jane filtered in and out but pretty much kept on the other side of the room with her friends.

The boys made me feel good because I wasn’t ignored. They came over and talked to me, and asked me stuff, and they didn’t throw a fit when we were supposed to leave. I think my main fear was always that I was going to be made to feel like nothing special– and their actions showed both me and Jane that I was anything but nothing special.

So that’s the latest.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beaming With Pride

Can you feel it? I believe I’m sending out warm and fuzzy rays of sunshine right now. I had a really great blog entry of progress but after tonight I have to share ... and brag.

Younger Boy received some hard cover Tonka Block Books. There are six of them and they have colors, words, numbers, opposites, etc. He’s been playing with them and pretending to read them lately, and tonight I decided that I was going to read them with him.

First we did words. I would say the word and he would say it after me. I’ll tell you what, listening to a toddler try to say the word “dependable” was cute. Especially when he giggled the first time we read it because he wasn’t sure. But he had the word down. And he loved the word “Fearless.” He actually asked me to use the word. I have no idea where he learned to do that from, but my sentence was “Younger Boy is Fearless.” He really liked that.

Then we did the colors. I know he wasn't reading the actual color words, but since he was saying the correct color I congratulated him on reading the color book by himself. There's nothing like a child's smile to make your giddy and happy inside.

But what really made me proud and excited and giddy was when we did the number book. The numbers are written out as words, but there is also the same number of images on the pages. I counted out one truck, then two trucks. Then I turned the page and he started counting. One, Two, Three. He counted all of the objects through out the book by himself. And it absolutely delighted me when we turned to the last page of the book and he counted out: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten!

Who knew that little stinker could count up to ten. I guess he is paying attention when I count out things.

Oh, and did I mention how proud I am of him? Because I’m definitely proud.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Think It’s Stupid

So I think this is one of those nights where I just need to get the thoughts out in order to let it go.

So for those that are kind of new, Jane had another baby last year with her new guy. The baby’s name is Trevor. And for those that might not know, we have the hardest time getting Jane to actually call us with her days off so that we can arrange the days that the boys will see her. She hardly ever asks for them, and it always feels like we have to force her to see them because she never shows any interest or puts any effort into seeing them.

Back to today, we still don’t have her days off for the next two to three weeks (which is what we get at a time from her the way her current shift manager does the schedule). She likes to leave her phone off, leave her phone behind, not answer her phone or just plain not call back. Even if there is a message left reminder her that we really need to find out the dates or that we have something important to tell her.

And today, something kind of lit up in my head about this week. Tuesday is Trevor’s first birthday party. Two or three weeks ago Jane asked if the boys could come to it. Well, I didn’t think anything of it until today. Because today it occurred to me that Jane didn’t ask for them for any of the holidays. I scheduled time for the boys to see her over the holidays. It occurred to me today that this is the first time really (outside of the occurrence for summer vacation time with the two older boys – here) that she’s actually put effort into asking for them.

To the point, and maybe I’ve worked myself into a fury for nothing, but it occurred to me that she put effort into seeing the boys because it was Trevor’s birthday party.

Am I making sense here?

I’ve gotten rather angry about it. Not super angry that I can’t think past it, but angry enough that I think she’s perhaps done an injustice to the boys. She can’t make the effort to call us with her days off to ensure that she sees them every week. She can’t make the effort to make sure that she can get any time to see them for holidays or their own birthdays. But she can make the effort to make sure that they can come to Trevor’s birthday party?

OK, I’ve said it (well, written it) out loud. So maybe she’ll prove me wrong now so that I can feel like a real bitch. But if still makes me pretty angry.

I’m not going to put any effort into wondering why. However, I am going to let it roll down my back and float away. I’ve come to the realization that in order to let it go I need to really feel the emotion and confront it. And once I’ve done so I can say “Eh, Que Sera Sera.”

So I feel a lot better now that I’ve written it. I’m not stewing over it. I feel lighter.

But I still think it’s stupid that she hasn’t called us back with her days off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Singing My Preschool Woes

Do you remember your younger childhood schooling days? I’m talking preschool here. I went to a parent co-op preschool and I have such vivid memories of playing there. I remember some of the activities, I remember the songs, I remember my teachers, and I even remember getting in trouble for kissing a boy under a table.

Anyway, Younger Boy is at the age where he is definitely ready for preschool. He knows his colors, he knows his shapes, he knows numbers 1-5 (sometimes he knows 6 and sometimes not. It depends on the day.) And he is so, so, so excited to go to preschool. He asks me everyday if he’s going to preschool and I always have to let him down.

I feel horrible telling him not today. I’ve been trying to make sure he has things to do that aren’t just playing with Thomas and Friends, because at some point in the morning Thomas just isn’t fun anymore. I also refuse to park his butt in front of the TV for more than a half hour. We have play-doh and finger paints and Lincoln Logs – and that’s all great and all but it just doesn’t replace play time with other kids and the opportunities I know an outside preschool teacher can provide.

Now that we’ve moved and are a bit more settled in we’ve really been researching preschools. Unfortunately I can’t consider the more affordable parent co-op preschool because I just can’t take 3 to 4 days off of work every month to help out. So I’ve been looking into the life of private run preschools and our city’s preschool programs.

I’m waiting to hear back from the city’s preschool program because at this point, it looks like it’s the one program we might actually be able to afford. Because whoa – preschool is expensive.

I had no idea just how expensive it was until I started to look at prices. One preschool we looked at, and toured and really liked is about $250/month for a two day a week program. And that was one of the cheaper programs. Others we looked at want $135/week for a two day session!

I don’t want to deprive him of a great opportunity to be social with other kids and to go to preschool, but $250 a month is really cutting into our budget. And considering we’re trying to save up to pay for the wedding, I just don’t realistically see how we can afford it. I’m really sad about this, but I’m not giving up hope.

And trust me that I would ask Jane for help funding if I thought it was one: realistic and two: she could/would help out. But considering that she just can’t afford to help with anything I don’t even want to take a step down that road. Besides, according to their court papers the only thing that is written that she is expected to pay for is medical expenses that go beyond what FH’s medical insurance will cover.

So far the city-run preschool program is the next affordable option, but if not then I’m looking into possibly daycare options. I’d like to at least get him into some social setting so that he’ll have that opportunity to play with children that aren’t his brothers. I know how important social interaction is when it comes to children. Who am I kidding? I know how important social interaction is to adults! I’d also love to be able to send him off to be social without me there. I think that is an important part of him learning his independence and learning more about himself.

Anyway, those are my preschool woes. Wish me luck, and if you have any other ideas of how I can affordably get some socialization in for Younger Boy I’d love to hear them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thankful for the Preview

Despite the “taboo” of living together before getting married, with three kids in the picture I just felt that I had to do it. I was raised Roman Catholic. Since high school I have learned to develop my own ideas. But the “sin” of living together before marriage kept echoing in my head. (Those echoes are hard to turn off after being dragged to church three times a week and having nuns and priests preach down on you about how you are sinning and sure to be sent to burn in hell unless you ask for forgiveness.) After a while thought I said “F” that!

The other big risk that came with living together was of course sacrificing life as I knew it. Like in Izzy Rose’s book “The Packaged Deal” I too sat there many nights before and after moving in thinking to myself amidst tears and frustration and overwhelming feelings “This had better F-ing work out.”

As I mentioned in my last entry, September 15th was my one year anniversary as an instant mom. It involved leaving my dream career, my sister, my friends and my single-gal lifestyle. Being thrown into an instant mom life was by far not easy. Having to figure out meals for a family of five, caring for children full time (that weren’t mine), living with people and trying to hang on to my sanity overnight in no way can be mentally healthy for anyone.

But hey, I’m still here. And I’ve seriously thought about it the last couple of days.

Moving in before getting married has giving me the following:

One – An opportunity to see what daily life might be like. Before I moved in it was me, my sister and the cats. Life wasn’t quite as organized and dinner might range anywhere from a beer and some good food at a pub to a baked potato at home. Socialization was on my terms and if I just wanted to lie around in my room with a book or a DVD I could. Not that I jumped into this relationship and situation with plans on leaving, but by not being married I could indeed still leave if it just wasn’t what I wanted for myself.

Two – An opportunity to experience the crap of living in the aftermath of divorce without feeling trapped. I had a huge epiphany yesterday. I honestly think that had I gotten married and moved in and had to experience some of the things I have had to – I really think that I would have likely felt more bitterly about it feeling like I was trapped by the bounds of marriage. I really hate feeling I’m being forced into something without a choice. Whenever I’ve come across the “I didn’t sign up for this” notion I’ve reminded myself that I did make the decision to be a part of it, and that I was still making the choice to be a part of it. I think having the option to be able to leave has really made me appreciate my situation more. I am making the choice to be here. I’m not trapped and being forced to experience this with no way out. And even though we’re not married yet, I think that living together before hand has helped to make me stronger and more aware of what life is going to be like.

Three – The opportunity to slowly adjust to life with a man and his children, and an opportunity to experience what life is like to be a part of something bigger than myself. I have had so many friends who have gotten married and then found that they just couldn’t tolerate life together afterward. I’ve seen relationships fall apart after moving in with each other. Do I totally love living with all the aspects of an all male household? No way! There is no way in hell that I love smelling the silent and deadly gas that seems to occur every day. There’s no way I love hearing the daily complaining and yelling and whining. But, I’ve learned that these are things that I can tolerate living with. And that the man and boys I’ve chosen to live with I love more and more each day … despite their smelly gas and constant noise.

So after a year I’ve come to realize that I really am thankful for the opportunity to preview what life might be like after marriage. I’m even more thankful for the opportunity to experience all of this with the option to walk away from it. It has made me appreciate it that much more. And despite that we’ve been living together for a year, both my fiancé and I are still absolutely excited about getting married. Our living together hasn’t ruined the excitement of “What’s to come” because there is still so much to come after marriage for us and our new little family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishing And Hoping For Jane

I’m Back!!!! Michigan was amazing! And crazy! And oh do I have stories and photos to prove it. I also found that a male gives the best ever pedicures and manicures. Every mom definitely deserves to sit in one of those sweet massage chairs and get pampered once in a while. I was long over due. My mini-vacation was definitely some good quality me-time.

September 15th was my official one year anniversary as an instant mom. Whoa. Where did the time go? I thought about writing a big old reflecting entry, but Jane has messed up that. So instead I will share a couple of random introspective thoughts I had on the plane ride back, and then get the “Wishing and Hoping” out of my system.

After a year of being an instant mom:

*I find that I crave for silence and peace and calm whenever I can get it. Whether that be having my fiancé drop me off at Starbucks so I can sit there at a table surrounded by calm. Sitting in the house petting Nasty Cat while soaking in the quiet and still moment when my fiancé is at work, Younger Boy is napping and Older and Middle Boy are at school. I used to wish for companionship and how I just want some quiet and calm time to myself. Even if it’s just 5 minutes – I’ll take it!

*I find that not giving in to frustration is amazing. As an example: The boys started out wanting T*co B*ll over homemade enchiladas. And now they guzzle up homemade egg drop soup and clam marinara sauce over pasta. And that all happened in less than a year. Who would have thought!

*It feels nice to hear the boys refer to us as “my family.” I lowered my expectations of what to expect from the boys and their acceptance of me and our lives together have soared past it. I about cried at my homemade Mother’s Day photo. And having Middle Boy run up to me to give me a hug when I picked him up from their school and after-school program … it was seriously one of the happiest and vivid moments I’ve ever experienced.

*I’m thankful that I have friends who have been children of divorce who have been more than willing to help give me advice and share their experiences with me. Having parents that have been married for 30 years now doesn’t exactly help me relate to a child of divorce. And although I know that everyone’s experience is different, I take in any education and knowledge that I can get. And I am thankful for the opportunity to gain it.

*I am very thankful for all the support I have had and still have as an instant mom. I’m thankful for my fiancé, my parents, my family, my friends and of course all of you other moms and stepmoms. I know there is still a very long road ahead of me, but being able to make it through this first year helps me feel more secure in my new life. Back in college a friend once told me “Your friends believe in you Crys, But you have to believe in you too.” And I do believe in me, but having others believe in me too has helped a lot when the going gets tough.

Hoping and Wishing
Tonight was one of the nights that we brought the boys over to see Jane. We tried to slip in an extra day for her to spend with the boys this weekend. My fiancé called me up to tell me that the extra Saturday didn’t look like it was going to work because Jane had a meeting for a fish society that she belonged too. Then he told me that she was thinking of maybe bringing the two older boys with her.

Well, first my blood boiled because she was again leaving out Younger Boy. Then my heart rate jumped a notch when I thought about it some more – A fish society meeting as your day to spend with your children? Now I work in the pet industry … with includes exotics like fish. I’ve also been to many other niche related meeting. I’ve sat through a veterinary presentation for small mammals, I’ve sat through a bird behavior presentation, and sorority meetings. I’ve sat through all kinds of editors and internet related meetings. And seriously, a meeting where business is being conducted or a presenter is trying to teach something (unless it's directed for and created for children) is not a place for children. It also isn’t the place to spend quality time with your children, in my opinion at least.

I honestly didn’t know what angered me more; the fact that she was leaving Younger Boy out again or that she wasn’t putting the kids best interest first. Because I can tell you now that unless there is a TV or video game on those two boys cannot sit still and focus on something they have no interest in. Luckily, Jane checked her fish society’s website and found out that the meeting had been rescheduled so all three of the boys get to spend some time with her that day after all.

And here it is. My wishing and hoping are that Jane will get a clue and put her children first one day. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, it doesn’t even have to be next month. But I just hope that for her sake, and for theirs, that one of these days she’ll put effort into spending a good quality day with them doing stuff with them because she wants to, and not just because she has to.

That is a wish and a hope that I have for her after my first year experience as an instant mom.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mixed Feelings About Michigan

I’m really excited about this week. One of my old college roommates is getting married on Friday. So I’m flying out to Michigan to attend the wedding. However, my fiancé couldn’t get the time off of work so he will not be accompanying me to this one. (We’ll be flying out together to Missouri for another college roommate’s wedding in October.)

I’m really, really excited because I’ll get to see quite a few different circles of friends out in Michigan. I’ll be seeing one circle at the wedding, another the following Saturday morning and yet another Saturday evening. (I get to crash a bachelor party for my roommate who is getting married in October. I should also mention that this roommate is one of my brides men in my wedding next year.)

I’m really, really, really excited about getting to hang out with all my friends, and to hit up the night scene again. I can’t tell you the last time I actually went out bar hopping and was able to have a fun night out.

I however, am kind of bummed that my fiancé won’t be there with me. I kind of really did want to introduce him to my other life in Michigan. Especially since not all of my friends that I’ll be seeing will be able to come out for our wedding.

It’s rather weird and frustrating having so many different lives. I guess it comes naturally with moving around a lot and having so many different circles of friends in all the different areas that I’ve lived (Western and Eastern Michigan areas, Northern and Southern California and Oregon).

I also, kind of, wish that I could bring the boys with me for the trip. Older Boy had mentioned that he wanted to visit Kalamazoo (where I went to college) and that he wanted to fly on a plane. He of course also mentioned that he would like to visit Michigan during a time that it is snowing. I told him that if we did visit Michigan it would most definitely not be when it’s snowing. Four years of Michigan winters was just enough for this California girl. (OK, technically it was 3 ½ Michigan winters. I left right before a nasty snow storm came in 2005. But that was still enough for my liking!)

I know that one of these days we’ll all be able to all head out there and I can show off and introduce my new family. But I can promise you all now that despite my mixed feelings about my trip out there I will have a great time out in Michigan this weekend. So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, you’ll know why.

Watch out Detroit! I’m coming back!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Setting In & Some Swank

It’s Setting In
I picked up my wedding dress and accessories today. Younger Boy came with me to help get out of the house and he proudly helped hold up the bottom of the dress bag for me. I must say it was kind of nice to have the help as I struggle up the staircase with a Caffino, the keys and my purse in one hand and the top part of my dress and bag with my veil and sash in the other. Otherwise I would most likely have dragged the bottom part of the dress bag up the stairs hoping that it wouldn’t tear and dirty the precious gown inside.

Bringing home the whole shebang though and seeing that I had 155 days on my Wedding Countdown Counter on my Facebook page kind of sunk in that I’m getting married next year. And I tell you now; I have been far too busy being an instant mom, an instant domesticated goddess to a family of five and a workaholic to really let it sink in.

And it’s still slowly sinking in that I’m getting married, and I’m officially going to be an instant mom, and that I’ll officially be off the market. Technically I am off the market, but as the saying is sometimes thrown around “I’m not married yet.” But still … it’s just plain weird to me. I enjoyed my long distance relationships that didn't get in the way of my career so much, that it just seemed so out of character for me to suddenly walk away from it all to be an instant mom. I don't think I've stopped to think about any of that either. Who has time to do such things when you're dealing with kids and Jane and work?

I'm getting married. Me … who the longest relationship I’ve had was back in high school (almost two years). And after that I was pretty good at having a new boyfriend every three to six months. And those were the long term ones. A guy was lucky if he was worth dating past two weeks. Even my own mother stopped trying to keep track of who I was dating after I went off to college.

So even though I have this role of stepmother in my heart and efforts, the thought of actually being married and someone’s wife is a whole other issue I’m finally considering.

Weird…just plain weird to me.

Some Swank
The awesome and amazing Swanky Smirking Cat has bestowed upon me the Swank Award. She finds my thought and heart of my stepmom role swanky. So Thanks!!

And now I shall pass on the Swank to my fellow following bloggers:

KweenMama: Who truly is the definition of Swank with her tips and recipes and advice.

JustMe: Who seems to always experience and understand just what I’m going through…because she’s often experiencing it at the same time too. She is by far swanky!

Congrats ladies!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Struggling with the Negative Attitude

As you may remember for me 2009 is The Year of the Coffee Bean … a.k.a The Year of Being a Positive Influence. Along with that you may remember that I’ve really been struggling in connecting with and working with Middle Boy. Today was another one of those Bang Head on Wall days.

Older Boy and Middle Boy started school yesterday at their new elementary school. Older Boy is in fourth grade and has already made some friends. Middle Boy is in first grade and has told us that he has still not made any friends.

Now trust me when I say that I have been trying ever so hard to be helpful and positive. I’ve pointed out that it’s the second day of school and that sometime making really good friends just takes a couple of days. Both Older Boy and I have given suggestions to Middle Boy on how to go about talking to kids in his class – like asking if he can play; asking if the other kid would like to play; asking the kid simple things like what is your name, who is your favorite transformer … blah, blah, blah.

Middle Boy informed me this morning that he hasn’t tried to make friends with any of the kids in his class because all the kids in his class are ugly.

Can I tell you how hard it was to hold back that frustration and disappointment? Now don’t get me wrong. I clearly remember getting angry with a friend back in first grade and telling her “Well you can’t come to my birthday party!” Now that was the ultimate insult. Whether I planned on inviting her or not, being told that you’re not invited to someone’s birthday party is an absolute diss! But to hear that negativity come out of his mouth seriously made me feel rather saddened and disappointed inside.

I really wasn’t quite sure how to respond to it. I calmly told him that was not a very good reason to not try to be friends with someone. Then the following conversation occurred:

Me: How would you feel if someone said “I don’t want to be friends with Middle Boy because he’s ugly.”
MB: I would feel sad.
Me: How do you know that some of those kids don’t want to be your friends?
MB: I don’t know.

I’ve talked to my future hubby about trying to talk to Middle Boy about this.

I completely understand being the new kid at school. I’ve been there both as a kid and an adult. I understand being shy. But I seriously have a hard time understanding this sort of negative and hurtful view. And lately it seems that Middle Boy is all about not giving a darn about other people’s feelings. I also can't tell if he just doesn't want to put forth the effort to try and make friends or if he's perhaps throwing his negative "I'm better than thou" attitude at these kids. Because if someone said and did the sort of things that he's been doing lately, I wouldn't want to be his friend either.

The other statement he said to me today included:

Me: So did you get to meet your teacher today? (His first day of school he had a sub.)
MB: Yes.
Me: What was she like? Is she nice?
MB: She’s almost fat.
Me: Oh Middle Boy, I hope that you didn’t say that out loud to anyone …Especially in front of her.
MB: I didn’t.

I’m sure there is a parenting book out there on it. If it was clearly labeled “How to work with the Middle Child of Divorce who is in the ‘I don’t care about other people’s feelings’ stage” then I’d be all set. But I don’t think that any publisher out there would be willing to publish that title.

I’m a little at a loss. I want to think that this is a normal stage for kids to go through. I want to think that there is a really simple and easy solution for this. But at the moment I’m really stumped at how to approach it. I’m Ms. Positive Attitude here. I’ve been doing really, really well with being Ms. Positive Attitude. But Ms. Positive Attitude is getting a little frustrated with Mr. Negative and Rude. And at the same time I’m wondering what other factors could be contributing to this attitude. If it’s something along with Middle Child Syndrome; if it’s something with being a child of divorce; if it has anything to do with the type of attitude that Jane has been an example of. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above, or maybe not. Maybe this is just something every parent has to deal with once in a while when the right personality is unwound in a child.

Sometimes I think being an instant mom blows. My fiancé has been a parent for about 9 years … I’ve been a parent (and with Jane’s help I’ve had to become a main staple parent) for almost 12 months. [That’s right. My one year anniversary as an instant mom is coming up on September 14th.]

Does anyone want to get a martini with me and unwind?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Not Horrid, The Good, The Amazing

First off, This is my 100 post.Woo Hoo! Go me!

And on to the rest of it ....

I feel like I have been apologizing so much for my lack of posting. Although I promise I have at least lurked. For those of you that are my friends on Facebook, you know that I’ve been moving. For those of you that aren’t my friends on Facebook, I’ve been moving.

Have I ever told you how much I dislike moving? I hate packing. I hate unpacking even more. In my 28 years of life I have now moved 20 times. And that is no exaggeration; I literally just sat down here and counted it out. And we’re not yet done.

We still have a bunch of junk left at the old place. We still need to unpack a bunch of junk at the new place. And there are all these little things in between that are just not fun.

Anyway, I’ll share three things with you here. There’s the Not Horrid, The Good, and The Amazing.

The Not Horrid - Jane Cancelled
Today was supposed to be the first of her days that Jane is supposed to drive and meet us halfway at Jolie’s. Well, she called in sick. Is she really sick? She had damn better be sick because I had plans to try my best to finish packing up and cleaning out the old apartment that we had to put on hold because we have the kids. But still, it is not the worst thing that could have happened. We got to have a tasty dinner of carne asadas, garlic fries and green beans instead of the Kent*ky Grilled Chicken we were planning on having. And we didn't have to disappoint the boys because they weren't aware that they were going to see her. It's still a pain in the butt, but not telling them when they're supposed to be seeing her has been so great for the times she's had to cancel. Is that going to kick us in the butt at some point, I have no idea. But we have the signed calendars for each visiting period, I make notes when she cancels and why, and we seriously do try our best to accomodate and plan around her sketchy schedule.

The Good - I can see!
I went to my last eye appointment and my vision is pretty good. Not quite cleared totally, but with the continued lubrication of my eyes daily it should get there sooner than later. So I don’t need to make another follow up appointment in two to three weeks. I’m seriously ecstatic. That’s $20 I don’t have to make sure is in my bank account.

The Amazing - A Spot for "Stepmother"
Older Boy and Middle Boy start school this upcoming Monday. That’s not the amazing part though. My fiancé brought home the paperwork to get them registered and on that paper work it asked:

Who does the child live with:

Name (Father/Stepfather/Guardian)

Name (Mother/Stepmother/Guardian)

Did I ever mention to you all the hassle we had to deal with in trying to get my name on the forms at the old school? How many times something happened at school and FH and I didn’t hear about it until the next day because the school called Jolie instead of me? The game of phone tag where the school called Jolie, Jolie called FH and then FH called me? Oh yeah, it was spectacular.

I’m so excited that I get to be included in this … much less of how directly I can be contacted now if something happens at school. Who am I kidding? I was so darn excited that there was a spot on that form for a Stepmother.

And just to end it here is a kid funny:

YB: I get to go to preschool!
OB: Middle Boy, what did you learn in preschool?
MB: I don’t know. Not to throw sand in the air at the other kid.

Awwww! Bless them for providing me with such entertainment. Holding in the giggles was rather painful with my sore muscles from moving, but oh it was oh so funny!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

So about a week or so ago I received a blog award from the awesome dragonflymama at stepmama metamorphoses. Considering I know I suck at updating when I have chaos among chaos going on I thought I’d give you something to really divulge in. This one would be a bit more introspective though since for this award I’m supposed to reveal 10 things about me that perhaps you do not know.

1. My Myers-Briggs Personality Type puts me as a hard core ENTJ. Most of my friends and family aren’t surprised. I’m an overachiever when it comes to my career and anything involved with it. I create my own systems and if the baton is ever tossed in the air I’m not afraid to catch it and take the lead.

2. When I was 10-years-old my parents sent me off to live with my uncle and his family at the Vandenberg AFB in So Cal. They thought it would be a great idea to send me off to stay with my cousin who is about two weeks younger than me. I hated it. My cousin annoyed me (and she still does today). Plus my uncle traumatized me. He asked us to clean the room and when we were done he came in with a white glove and ran it along the edges of the room and when he found dust he made us clean it again. Was he serious or was he just joking with us? Who knows, but when it comes to making sure that I’ve cleaned up after myself at other people’s homes you could eat off the floor.

3. I’m a survivor. I’m a survivor of so many things. From past posts you know that I lived as a victim for a couple of years. I hit rock bottom so many times I lost count. Then one day I turned my perspective around. I’m no longer a victim of any of the horrors that have been thrown my way. The thing that made me open my eyes to this was the book “Illusions” by Richard Bach. I still turn to it when I don’t know where else to go or what else to do. I wouldn’t say that it saved me, because I saved myself. But it did help make a path through the fog that I had chosen to stay in.

4. I am totally a cat person. Even though they’re a bunch of punk fuzz butts … I couldn’t imagine life without a cat. I’ve had a cat since 4th grade. I was without a cat while I was at college, and sometimes going to a friend’s house that had a cat made all the difference. Their affection might be on their terms, but when I’m really upset having a cat around sure helps a lot.

5. I love nature. Whenever I’m really run down a good walk up a trail, sitting among the redwoods or lounging by the ocean can really recharge my energy. I cannot wait to get a house with a backyard so that I can start a garden up. Digging in the dirt, watching things grow and breathing in the smell of rain and plants are amazing. I couldn’t even begin to describe the serenity and calmness of it.

6. Orchids are my flower. They’re mysterious and beautiful. They’re also my family flower from sorority. An orchid always makes me feel pretty, and refreshed, and energetic – no matter what kind of day I’m having.

7. I have four tattoos. I could probably do without them, but at the time in my life that I got them I really felt I needed them. I have a purple butterfly to remind me to never be afraid to spread my wings and venture into the unknown. I have a purple rose to remind myself of the beauty that I have hidden within. And that no matter how disgusting I may feel, I’m not. I have a shooting star to remind me to never give up on myself, and to never give up on life. And I have snowflakes on my back to remind me that my friends have faith in me, even when I may not. They’ve served as reminders of the hard times I’ve been through, and that I got through them.

8. I discovered that life was worth living my sophomore year of college. A friend of mine killed himself. And I was lost for about three days. That was when I realized that only I could change my life around from the downward slope I was sliding down. That was when I realized that no matter how horrible life seemed, I could never stand the thought of hurting my friends and family the way that I was hurting. It is unfortunate that he died. But his death inspired me to live mine.

9. Not only am I the oldest child but I’m also the first granddaughter of my mom’s side of the family. I’m also the oldest of all my friends and for some reason have always been the golden child amongst all of them. I was put into many play dates with other children who weren’t quite as golden in hopes that my “goodness” would rub off on them. I felt that pressure to not fail and to not disappoint the adults around me. I felt the need to be the perfect child, to always be the perfect child. Perhaps that is why I’m always hard on myself when it comes to the things I do in life. But I’ve slowly been learning that perfection isn’t attainable, and that accepting life and yourself for what it is will bring me toward true happiness.

10. My philosophy is that you can learn something from everyone that comes into your life. Whether it is someone you’ve known for years, months, weeks, days, hours or minutes. If you take the time to look at the people that come into your life you can learn something about yourself, something you’d like to strive toward, or something that you’d not like to be. I take in lessons like a sponge takes in water. I’ve also learned that sometimes you can learn multiple lessons from one person. And I believe that you can always learn something new.

So now I’m to pass this award along to some other bloggers. I can’t remember how many so I’ll pick a few that I think might enjoy this.

Rachael – One Unbelievable Adventure

Heather – Comparative Childhood

Jenn – The Not-So-Divine Secrets of Motherhood

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning Not To Take It Too Personally

This is something that has been on my mind about sharing from our vacation. Part of our trip we spent up in Oregon at my fiancé’s parent’s house. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my almost mother-in-law. From the experience of having my dad’s mom live with us for a couple of months, and my friend’s crazy mother-in-law stories I am, In fact, ever so thankful that she is my almost mother-in-law. However, just as any mother does, she says things that really get under my skin at times.

I’m proud to say that I held my tongue on the “going all crazy on her” part and made a respectable “reason and logic” response to her in my reactions. My editorial director has a post-it note on her desk that said “Actions cause Reactions” and I have always kept that in my mind.

Incident One – You’re Too Hard On Them.
I believe we had just arrived after the long drive up to the middle of no where Oregon. Older Boy, who had gone up with FH’s sister, and their cousins were already in the pool. Middle Boy and Younger Boy of course wanted to join them. I asked FH to go get their swimming trunks. FH’s mother and sister were encouraging the boys to jump into the pool with their underwear on. Although a washer and dryer were available, I’ve been trying to teach the boys patience and insisted they wait until FH brought the swimming trunks out. I also very much wanted them to put sun block on before they got wet. Specifically Middle Boy who is about as fair as a piece of notebook paper.

“Just let them get in. You’re too hard on them,” FH’s mother said to me.

At this point I was really tired, and exhausted and a bit cranky. And frankly was in no mood to be undermined in front of the boys. However, I’m rather used to being told that I need to lighten up and I kept a stretched and tired smile on my face as I responded with, “Maybe so, but they need to learn to be patient. If I’m not consistent in what I expect of them then they’re not going to learn.”

With that said, Middle Boy and Younger Boy waited to put on their swimming trunks and sunscreen before they got in the pool. It’s frustrating to me when I ask them to do one thing and then an extended family member tells them “No it’s ok, do it like this.” They more of less look confused and don’t act until they’ve interpreted my reaction or permission.

Incident Two – You’ve Almost Taken Off A Few Times Already
I really couldn’t tell you what the conversation was about that this lovely statement occurred. I just remember the statement because it took every ounce of strength in me not to stand up and leave the room. The tone she used too was what really did it for me. I believe that the conversation was along the lines of FH’s mom telling me how happy she was that we’re a family, and that she hoped that I knew how important my presence was or something. All I really heard next was “Because you’ve almost taken off a few times already.”

The statement felt more like a red hot poker, and my temper flared. I felt the heat rising to my face. What I wanted to say was “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I instead said nothing and just looked at her and raised an eyebrow.

I know that in the very beginning last year I told FH that if he didn’t start standing up to Jane then I was going to move out because I would be damned if I bent over backward to serve her every need and want.

I also know that there has been a moment or two when I was so incredibly angry that I walked out of the house, jumped in my car and took a drive. Mainly because if I didn’t walk away I would have said something I would regret saying, and I needed time to calm down and figure out just what I was so angry about.

But both those times, I never said that I was leaving the relationship or the family. I never said that I was quitting. I never said that I was out of here. I’ve thought “What the hell am I doing?” but I’ve never thought “OMG, I can’t take this anymore. I’m out of here.”

With my experience in customer service, I swallowed it down. After the initial shock of it passed and it rolled down my shoulder I changed to subject of the conversation. Heck, I really don’t remember what to. I obviously didn’t completely let it go. I’ve harbored it in (until my vent now) but it was one of those things that really just got under my skin.

So learning not to take it personally, whether it is intended to be a personal or not personal statement, is my next feat that I have decided I ought to be working on. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with it from Jane and the boys. Heck, even my own mother has given me a run for my money. But it is by far, not the easiest thing. I worked at it pretty good in the office. In the office letting it roll over my shoulder and not taking it personally was cake. Now if only I could transfer that to my home life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

May I Please Have A Break?

I don’t even know where to start in the explanation of what happened in the last week and a half. I guess I shall start with the good news.

New Digs
We found an apartment. It’s across the bridge in the Bay Area, but it’s in a safer neighborhood, in a better school district, in a much better city. It’s also more affordable so that we can save money for the wedding and after the wedding for a down payment on a house. The two rooms are a bit smaller than we’d like, but the large front room and fenced in blacktop yard for the kids to play in more than enough evens it out. (In our opinion at least.)

And, Jane has decided (agreed) that meeting in the middle at Jolie’s house would be the best option. And Jolie will also get to see the boys more often. We try to make sure that she gets a chance to see them too, but this seems to be a win-win situation for everyone. Jane will have to drive part way, we won’t have to worry about wasting gas to drive to Jane’s and Jolie gets to see the kids. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that this actually works.

Dirty Eyes
At my last eye appointment my eyes have made a dramatic change for the better in their recovery. In fact, I don’t need to lubricate my eyes every hour anymore. Just through out the day or as needed. I also have been given the OK to start wearing contacts again (at a slow introductory pace of course).

So those are actually three great new updates from the last entry I was able to post before the week became the “Weeks of Stupid.”

Thursday, July 30th
We drove the boys out to Jane’s. We had plans with some friends and I was busy looking for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding when my fiancé called me with some fantabulous news. (Fantabulous is dripping with sarcasm in this usage.)

Jane was working that day. When FH had last talked with Jane she told him that her work schedule was messed up and she was working, however she didn’t say “Don’t bring the kids by.” In face, she gave no indication whatsoever about NOT bringing the kids by, nor about trying to reschedule.

I was livid! Apparently, W*l M*rt changes the staffing manager every six months. Allegedly Jane had informed this new staffing manager that she needs a set schedule. Obviously this staffing manager doesn’t give a hoot. In giving benefit of the doubt I will pretend that Jane gave him/her the details that she has a schedule on when she sees her children and could we please put a little effort into keeping her schedule non-messy. From my experience serving my staffing managers were really good about making sure I didn’t work during the times I told them that I couldn’t work because I have class. I also know that they didn’t really give a hoot for the convenience of other servers when it came to other servers who just weren’t very good employees.

So in the meantime, Jane will be calling us every three weeks to inform us of her days off. And based on our calendar and Jolie’s calendar we will accommodate what we can. If I could I’d write a lovely letter of business and complaint to the staffing people over at W*l M*rt. But considering that could be viewed as interfering with her place of employment I shall refrain.

Monday, August 3rd
I don’t know what or how I did it. But I managed to pop my jaw out of alignment. And when I tried to slip it back in, it just didn’t want to do it. Talking, chewing and anything that required the slight movement of my jaw hurt. The next day I went to the hospital early in the morning. The hospital took my co-pay and then the doctor told me to go home, take some Advil and to call back in three days if the swelling hadn’t gone down.

I again was livid. At my mothers insistence I went to see her chiropractor later that evening. That wonderful man helped align my jaw and neck and gave me a sweet pamphlet on TMJ. Apparently, there’s a bit of TMJ that is causing my jaw to pop out (this wasn’t the first time it’s happened, but it was the first time that I couldn’t get it back in correctly). I went back to see him Thursday and he helped align again. It’s been helping a lot, but my jaw is still rather swollen and sore and I cannot partake in the simple pleasure of eating delicious solid foods (like steak) nor can I open my mouth too wide.

The Rest
On top of all this loveliness I had to take Nasty Cat to the vet on Tuesday for his sneezing issues. He came back with a tube of gel medicine for both him and Fat Cat. Apparently Nasty Cat has this sort of virus that can be passed back and forth between cats. Trying to squirty that gel into their mouths has been a joy. I was putting it on some wet food, but then Fat Cat decided the wet food was just too much and started puking it up on my carpet.

Also work blows. I’ve dealt with so many rude, angry pet owners in the last two weeks I’ve just been pushed to my limit. Had I not been able to have a girls' spa day in on Saturday I think I would have completely blown my lid.

I have more insightful things to share but I think I shall save that for another entry. But all in all, I would love a break from medical maladies. And, I cannot wait for summer vacation to be over at the end of this month. Absolutely cannot wait.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Changes Are On The Way

I’d like to start off with the fact that I loved my vacation. For those that haven’t caught on or just haven’t been reading my blog long enough, I’m a bit of an overachiever workaholic. I love work. I love projects. And I also apparently welcome the high stress of customer service. We had to make a "Crys is Out of the Office" plan after my incident with Nasty Cat’s bite. Being out for two days of work with no back up plan was disastrous, and trying to catch up from that was horrendous. The point is that there was a back up plan this time, and I was able to let any work cares float away. For once, while on vacation, I was able to forget about work and relax and have fun. And it was wonderful and joyous and blissful. (Well almost … I don’t know if anyone can actually totally say that and mean that when it comes to staying at your almost in-laws for a couple of days. But that’s another blog entry.)

And back to reality … we need to find a new place to live ASAP. I hate the city we live in. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before but the city that both my fiancé and I grew up and currently live in has held the record for highest homicides … I’m sure multiple times. I grew up in the ghetto where my father’s family house (and a few other kind Filipino families) had the neighborhood go to crap around them as drug dealers moved in. And I do not feel safe here. I was reluctant to move back, but in order to provide the boys with a stable environment I did. We live in a better part of town than that I grew up in, but I do not like it here.

I also do not like the fact that Older Boy has changed schools so much. However, I am all about transferring him to a better learning environment, a stronger learning environment and a safer neighborhood. We HOPE to only have at least two more moves in our future: one to our next place and one to the house that we hopefully will be able to afford at some point after the wedding.

So we’ve been furiously looking up safe and affordable places to live. School starts at the end of August though, and I’m really feeling the pressure to find a place for sure. I’m also getting highly anxious about the updates to the Parenting Plan that we’ll have to figure out and try to work out with Jane.

Last night I typed up the August plan and realized that the last week would have to include whatever changes we’ll be making. FH has already notified Jane that we’ll be moving. I’m going to be looking over the divorce paperwork to make sure that we’re not forgetting anything important that we ought to be doing. But I don’t think she’s really grasped the changes that are going to have to happen.

We’ve been catering to her this past year and have sort of had to pull nails out to get her to drive down here (the whole 20 or so minutes). We’ll be moving a bit further away and across the bridge in the Bay Area. And I’m telling you now, I’m willing to pay the $4 bridge toll once a week, but I’m not willing to drive all the way to her place every week. The options we’re presenting to her are to either meet halfway at Jolie’s every week or to rotate weeks. So she’d drive to our place one week and we’d drive to her place the next and so forth.

I’m also trying to save some money this month by having us rotate driving trips anyway. I’m just not all about driving to her place three times in a span of five to seven days. Either way you look at it, gas adds up. And it would be nice if Jane could share this with us to help cut down on gas. So in addition to the calendar I typed up three things that FH and Jane need to decide upon. Neither will give either of them a break over the other. I honestly sat down and made it fair. No one is really getting the short end of the stick here when it comes to driving. And the boys won’t be getting any less time to spend with her. In fact, if Jane agrees to meet halfway and makes the effort to get there on time (and stay the entire time) they should be gaining an hour to spend with her.

I really hope that she does agree to meet halfway at Jolie’s. My hopes are that if she has to leave her computer game to drive down to meet us, then she’ll be forced to be in an environment where she has to interact with the boys and not just put on a movie or the television and jump back on the computer. I do realize they are just hopes and at Jolie’s Jane still has the ability to not interact with them. I still just can’t grasp why she doesn’t want to try and spend time with them. I guess I have to remember that she never really did want to spend time doing fun and nurturing things with them even when she lived with them.

Anyway, to welcome myself back I have two things on my mind. One is finding a home fast and the other is to try and get Jane to realize that big changes are on the way and she can’t sit on her butt playing video games anymore.