Sunday, January 8, 2012

To my girls...

I'm an average age Mom, but a young Step Mom. It's no secret that I raise a daughter who is just 12.5 years younger than I am. That's what happens when you marry a man 7 years older and he had a baby in his youth. But here's the thing: I don't feel like I'm any younger than half the Moms raising her friends, because for the most part, I feel pretty up-to-date on her goings & comings. Maybe this IS the age factor... Since I'm closer to her age than the "average" mom is, I have a better recollection of that time in my life. High School. Ugh! It was quite a learning curve for me then, as it has been for her now. Some things I can relate to, but times have changed ALREADY, that in other areas, I have no clue what she is going through.

I do know this: I have quite the prize on my hands. Seriously, I do. My daughter is a gem. A diamond, in fact. Her flaw: she doesn't know it yet. She will one day, but right now, she is still figuring out what she wants and who she is. This is all totally fine. Everybody needs to do this at this age (because it gets rougher when you try to do this later)! So when she asks about dating and boys, and car rides and dances....I get a little nervous. Not because I think she will make bad choices. I get nervous because I am afraid she will settle. I'm afraid she will accept an offer that isn't as good as she could have gotten. I start to feel like I'm watching Howie Mandel on his game show and when the call comes in, she's the girl that takes the low prize amount. But she's starting to see things my way...

Our rule is that for her to "date" someone, as in, go to a movie, a dance, etc., we have to meet him first. We have said their first "date" is at our house for dinner. This serves two purposes: 1.) It weeds out the kids that aren't aware she is good enough to go through the trouble of meeting her parents, and 2.) it allows us to meet the kid (who does understand her worth) and get a sense of where he is coming from and where he plans to go (with our daughter or otherwise). Scenario 1: Boy likes Heather. Boy hears of our rule. Boy comes over for dinner. All is well. They can spend time together and we like him. Scenario 2: Boy likes Heather. Boy hears of our rule. Boy says, "Ugh--meet your parents? I'm not sure I want to do that. That's kind of weird and I'm not really sure I like you that much." Problem solved.

This gives a clear reading for Heather to see a boy's intentions, desires, etc. It also helps them to see that we value HER. We value her so much, and care for her, and love her in such a way that we will weed through these...suitors, if you will...until we can find someone who values her too. It sounds a little like the movie Aladdin and the Sultan's law for choosing his daughter's suitor. But that isn't at all what we are aiming to do. Our goal is to help her learn, during this super (ridiculously) hard time, that she is special. She is a gem. She is a diamond! I'm not sure enough young girls are learning this right now.

We raise 3 girls. Three diamonds. Each of them (yes, Gia is only 8 months but we see lots of potential) possesses such an infinite amount of gifts and each have a heart of gold. We want them to learn to not take the caller with the low prize amount. To wait until they find THEIR prize. Their matching diamond. Hopefully this will be many, many, many years (for all of them) until this happens. But isn't this the point of parenting. To start young. We talk to our infants like they understand and can repeat anything we say. They can't. But they hear things so much that, eventually, they do start to repeat them. This is just one of our assurances to know that our girls will start to repeat: I am beautiful. I am wonderful. I am someone so important and God will help me through struggles.

So yes, I'm a young Step Mom. I raise a daughter who is not only as tall as me (okay, she's got about 2 inches on me now), she is on my heels. Literally. She is only a mere 12.5 years younger than I am which makes me feel like I have even less time to teach her and less time to continue to repeat those nuggets of wisdom that only Moms can do.

My sweet Heather Ann, you and your sisters are so important; not just to your Dad and I. You are important people. I direct this portion to you because your sisters are not old enough to understand. But by the time they can understand this writing, I hope you will understand its meaning. And then you can help me teach them their value. {Highlight of you being a bit older and wiser, huh?!} You are a jewel. You are so precious. And I will wait for the day that you find someone who sees your true beauty and worth. Until then, I can only pray that you will wait with me. I love you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's happened again..

And so it seems that life goes on and I don't get to my computer enough. Well, I do, I just don't get to do the things I would *like* to. I keep saying I'm going to make more "me time." Has that happened? Not so much... But plenty more has!

On July 18th, we lost an incredible man.... An. Incredible. Man. I'm so grateful to have witnessed the passing of my father in law from our hands into His. It was an awful day, one I will never forget, but one I will cherish forever. He is at peace. And knowing that, we should be too. So we are all working on that.

As I sit at my computer, doing things I *want* to do tonight (buying on Amazon), I think to myself, "Am I really buying for Christmas right now?" It's crazy! Where did this year go? Heather has turned 16, Gia is 6 months and I'm planning Sophie's 3rd birthday party! I used to think that Don's traveling would make my weeks go by so slowly. It has, however, made for long weeks at times, but has done nothing but speed things up. When he is home, we work so hard to catch up on things as a family. Even when that means spending the afternoon shopping together (he loves that--NOT) or getting the babies to bed so the big ones (we include Heather) can watch a movie or play a dumb game (Mexican Train or Life).

I hate sounding cheesy, or worse, to use this blog to make others think our life is so glamorous or easy. It's not. Things are not easy. Life is not glam. But it is ours. It is our busy day. It is our long week. It is ours. I can't tell you how proud I am, that though I do not have time to catch up on my DVR shows, Sophie says the Our Father every night and thanks Jesus for all that is wonderful in her life. To her...that's her family. She does include her friends, but her list of "thank you's" goes on forever as she includes EVERY relative and EVERYTHING they have done for her (even if that means just having visited us). Heather makes sure we pray before every meal...EVERY MEAL! She's usually the first to sit down at the dinner table, but she waits for the rest of us (usually not without huffing a few times) so we can sit together and pray before she starts shoveling.

My father in law was not the most outwardly religious man. Perhaps we might never know about his relationship with God. And that's not important. What is important is that, in his passing, though we are all working on our grieving, my family has certainly turned to our faith to help understand and cope with being left behind. Have we skipped a couple of Sundays here and there? Yes. I confess. But we are working on that too! ;)

So now that the holidays are upon us (oh yes, they are upon us), I am making my list and checking in twice. But this time, I am working on giving thanks and paying it forward. When Sophie is in trouble, she says, "Mom are you happy?" and I usually respond with, "No, Sophie, it doesn't make me happy when you don't listen to Mommy." She does this, I think, to irritate me! But recently, I have changed my answer. I respond with, "Sophie, I have 3 healthy girls and my honey works hard for all of us! Yes, I am the happiest Mommy there is!" She looks at me funny and says, "Ok Mommy?!" Does it stop her from doing whatever she is doing that bothers me? No. But at least it doesn't grouch up my mood and put a damper on my day. After all, in the scheme of a playdough in my carpet a big deal (uuuuuuugh!!!) Not so much!

So here's to the holidays! Here's to a Thanksgiving of doing just that. Giving thanks...and letting those around me know how much they mean to me. Life is busy. But I'm so in love with it.

{Please excuse the stream of thoughts in this blog. As I "preview" it, I realize it's pretty random. But this is it for today.}

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Left Unsaid

I must warn you right now: this might get sappy. I haven't posted in so long. Partly because life got busy (we had a baby in April) and partly because I couldn't really put words to my string of conscious (and unconscious) thinking. Life has thrown a few curve balls at us recently and we are just now feeling like our head is above water.

Don's dad was re-diagnosed with cancer in July 2010. He went through 2 more rounds of Chemo (read: HELL) and decided he wanted to enjoy the time he had left without such a poor quality. By March of this year, he began Hospice services. We have had a few scares, thinking these could be our last days. But more recently, we have had more joyful days. He has been doing spectacular (considering) and my girls have really been able to spend some quality time with him. We all have! I guess you can say he found a new reason to live. Not to toot my family horn, but truthfully, I think it's my kids. The more time they spend with him, the brighter he appears.

Today was Heather's last day of school! After picking her up at noon, we picked up some lunch and headed to Round Rock to see my in laws. Don is in Dallas and will be driving in to meet us. While in Round Rock, I took my kids and father in law on a trip to the local fro yo shop. My (bonus) daughter Heather had a bit of an emotional day, so I believed a treat was in order! While sitting across from Don's Dad, I watched as he admired my kids, each diving into their treat like it was water in a desert. I could see his wheels spinning. How unfortunate, I thought, that he has so little time left. But how fortunate are we that we get to spend it with him. Some times my conversations with him have left me so emotional, simply thinking, I might not hear his wisdom again. But today was different.

Today I started thinking about the things that are sometimes left unsaid. You see, as he has gotten more ill, he has spent time telling each one of us how much he is going to miss us. He has shared the highlights of his life, all including a child or grandchild. As the ones left behind, we cry, hug him and tell him how much we will miss him as well. We all try to be strong in front of him, not letting him see how it is tearing us up inside to watch him suffer. I started thinking about how those who are ill sometimes leave letters for those left behind. They share those intimate feelings and leave the family feeling so grateful, yet unconsolable. We are lucky that we can get these letters and have these conversations. But for the ill, when they pass, it's not as if we can have a letter waiting for them on the other side. How cool would that be if we could write a letter, send it to heaven with their name on it, and have it waiting at the pearly gates when they arrive. But we can't.

Instead, our job is this. Simply put: Do not leave things unsaid between you and those you love. If you love someone, tell them. If they don't know before they go, they never will. There is no such thing as that letter waiting for them on the other side. Therefore, we have tell them how we feel at the time we feel it. If we do this, how wonderful would it be to feel complete when they go and how fortunate for them to know before we they go.

None of this is novel information. None of this should be something new to anyone. This is just something that I am currently experiencing that I thought I needed to get out. In all fairness, I warned you that this was sappy. I love my inlaws dearly. In the time before Don and I got married, while we were still dating, his Dad lived with Don over the winters and I spent a lot of time with him. I enjoyed the conversations we shared. Many of which I will never forget, as they were words of wisdom regarding my future life as a step mother.

That's it for now. I hate that my first post is so emotional. My next will be more entertaining. Life with my three girls is nothing less than entertaining! There is so much to share, as these girls have been keeping me busy.

Much love!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Confessional...

Okay, here it is. This is my confessional. This is where I confess that I'm not a perfect Mom. Not even a perfect person (obviously, being a perfect human is easier than being a perfect Mom). But it's true. I am about to share a very personal, hormonal, slightly psychotic break-down I had this morning.
I woke this morning with a purpose. My mission: to get my haircut. Alone. I made breakfast, played with Sophia, folded some laundry, and got the hell out of dodge. I was 1 mile away from home (not even out of the neighborhood), when my phone rings. It's Heather. Don told her I was out getting my haircut and she asked if she could come too. My immediate response was, "No, I will take you tomorrow." But then I hung up, and made a u-turn. I called the house to tell her to get ready. Nobody answered. I called again. No answer. By the time I got home, I was ticked. I came into the house, hollered at whoever was closest and asked, "Why can't I just be alone for 5 minutes?"
So was I mad because I couldn't get my morning alone or because nobody answered the phone? I guess the answer is "both." I just feel, sometimes, that even if I wanted to escape for 5 minutes, someone could find me. Always. As awful as it sounds, I just wanted to not be found for a few not be in charge of someone for a few minutes.
I waited in the car in the driveway for Heather as she got dressed and I cried. I cried becuase I knew my daughter had heard me holler at my husband that I had wanted to be alone. I couldn't bear the thought of her thinking that I didn't want HER with me. I just didn't want ANYONE with me. When she got in the car, I composed myself enough to explain.
When you spend all your days taking care of other people, it's exhausting. You put so much effort into their needs, that you forget about your own. You forget about things like haircuts, polished toes, and a peppermint mocha. (Granted, these aren't needs per se, but nonetheless, desires.) Whether you forget about these things, I'm not sure. Truthfully, you are just too tired to do anything about them. So when you do get the chance, and it doesn't work out, you could possibly blow! Which I did.
So here's my vow. It's not fair for my family to hear anymore of my hormonal, semi-psychotic break downs. Honestly, they take too much out of me. So instead, I vow to take the breaks I need so I can stay a "sane" Mommy. I know, easier said than done. And who actually knows a "sane" Mommy? Well, I just mean that I need to take more caution by setting aside time for myself. I just need to decide whether I want to wake up early to do this or do it at the end of each day. Regardless, it will be time well spent. Especially if it means I can avoid making my family feel like I don't like them! All in all, I think Heather understood; as much as a 15 year old can at that point. Either that, or she just nodded her head and thought, "I'm never getting pregnant. Those hormones are CRAZY!"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweet Moments

Time simply got away from me yesterday, and looking back, I think that's a good thing. This is my Mom's birthday weekend and they have decided to spend it with us here in Austin. I am so glad! I love having my parents in my house. There is something about showing your parents, "See, I can do this. I have this whole "adult" thing down." So naturally, I have to clean my house before they get here. Yep, she's that kind of Mom. I love her to pieces, truly! But my house better be clean when she gets here. She wouldn't judge, but she'll JUDGE! (Mom, if you read this, you know it's true...)
The thing that is so magical about my Mom is that she raised three children...ALL GIRLS! To be honest, she raised three, very different girls, and she raised three girls in almost different generations. There is nearly 7 years between each child! So basically, my parents started over again, every 7 years! YUCK! But they did it! One was in college, by the time the other hit thier rebellious teenage years (we all had them), and the last was being toted to five dance classes per week (I was pretty hard core!).
My Mom is my biggest supporter of being a stay at home Mom. She wishes she could have done it longer than she did, but obviously, times were different. A very truthful piece of wisdom my Mother shared with me once is that, "your babies are not babies forever. Cherish every moment with them and never forget, they are only yours for five minutes."
I am feeling this already, I feel like 4 minutes has passed and Heather be getting married soon. That two minutes has passed and Sophia will graduate from high school next year. But for some reason (probably pregnancy hormones), I got to thinking this yesterday while we were madly cleaning the house. Sophia came to me with a puzzle in her hand. She had made it all the way up the stairs, where I was vacuuming, with a puzzle in her hand and asked, "Play?" Seeing the desperation in her eyes, "Mom, this cleaning is not fun, please stop and play with me," I unplugged the vacuum cleaner, left it where it was and put our shoes on.
Sophia was able to escape the cleaning monster! On a whim (again, probably pregnacy hormones), I tossed her in her carseat and off we flew to McDonald's. We sat at McDonald's, both in a booth--no highchair--and shared a small fry and a strawberry sundae. The smile on my daughter's face was all I needed. It was the best decision I had made all week!
As I was cleaning my house FOR my Mom, I realized that taking my daughter to McDonald's would be more important to my Mom. I took her piece of wisdom and yes, perhaps used it as an excuse to have something sweet, but I used it to relish in those days that just seem to be magical.
I wish everyday could be so magical, but then, they might just seem ordinary. For some reason, my kids don't seem ordinary to me. So I try, like my Mom did, to be a little more magical for them. Isn't that why I'm a Mom?

Monday, September 20, 2010


It's funny how you think you are "safe" from exposing your children to your everyday bad habits. You drop your purse.. "Shit!" You forgot something in the card..."Damn it!" They can't understand all this yet, right? Wrong. I'm pretty sure Sophia has said s-h-i-t already, but I just didn't make anything of it so she would forget about it (it worked!). But let's be honest: they are ALWAYS watching us.
If I continue to be honest here, I am probably on my phone a little more often during the day than I should be. Who else is going to plan our social calendar, organize playdates, etc. Sophia now picks up a calculater (it's flat, and thus, resembles an iPhone), holds it to her ear with her shoulder and walks around the house saying, "He-woah?" Yup, that's what she hears her mama do! So she does it now too! I thought it was pretty cute at first, but really, that's a jab at me saying, "Get off the phone, Mom!"
So to balance the good with the bad, this Sunday, Sophia surprised me yet again! We are regularly attending, Sunday church goers. Another honest note: we miss every so often. Usually when we're out of town (unless in CC, Mom and Dad make that a must!) OR when Don plays golf on a Sunday morning and I am too lazy to take the kids by myself. So this Sunday was a little different. Don did play golf, but I made a conscious effort all day to make sure we had mass scheduled for us at 5pm that evening. It would work out perfectly because Heather started her Sunday Night Live (youth group/CCD) at 6 so we would already be there. We made it (on time too)!! We walked in and before entering the church, I dipped my hand in the Holy Water to make the sign of the cross. Sophia shouts, "wa-wa!" My first reaction was to tell her, "No honey, that's not water to drink." But before I could, she put her hand out to dip it in the bowl. I leaned her over to allow her this pleasure. She brought her hand out of the bowl, and to my surprise, begins to make the sign of the Cross. Okay, so not the whole thing. But she started with her forhead and brought it down to her belly (close enough), shook her hand and then kissed it! I WAS SHOCKED! I kept wondering...How did she know what to do? How did she learn this?
Just like she learned that you say "He-woah?" when you answer a phone, she learned to make the Sign of the Cross when we are at church. Little do we know, they are always watching. So my note to self today is: What Would Sophie Do? If I keep this in mind, it will remind me that I am a role model for this little lady...ALL DAY LONG! This goes for both my girls. I have to remember that in front of Heather as well. Even though she knows right from wrong, etc., the example is always there. This weighs pretty heavy on me this week, as Heather turns 15!!! Thus, the reason we couldn't miss Mass this weekend!! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

M. O. M.

Today, Sophia and I went out to Round Rock to experience quite the Stroller Strides class. I've been in SS for about a year and a half. Have been to three different locations prior to today. All of them always blow my mind! Just think: these are Moms who got out of bed, got themselves and their child(ren) ready, packed snacks and toys, water, an exercise mat and a towel and made it out of their house before 8:50ish. Impressed already, right? Gets better. Additionally, they unload their children into a stroller, fill the stroller with all the goodies they packed earlier (those weren't for them!), put on a smile and WORKOUT for an hour! I know-they're superheros! But today I was more than impressed. I was INSPIRED. When I joined this class to co-teach with their regular instructor, I was welcomed with open arms and tissue so that I can hit the public bathroom around the corner (7 weeks pregnant--in the potty every 10 minutes!). There were 17 girls there today including myself. So 17 women did all those things to get to class by 9am. I would venture to say that about half had more than 1 child with them as well. Who knows if they had preschoolers or school aged children they had to get situated before all this as well! My point is: they made it. They might not leave the house for anything else today, or alternately, they might have a million errands on their list. But they made it. All 17 of them! No excuses, nobody to blame. They made it. So it got me thinking...Do I want to be a
M.O.M: Many Opportunities for Mistakes: The Mom that constantly says, "I have kids, that's impossible. You try handling all that I do!"
or a
M.O.M: Making Opportunities Matter: The Mom that realizes that life isn't easy anymore but it has handed her opportunities in many different ways; using those opportunities to set examples for the children and leave a positive footprint on the earth.
Of course there are days that the former seems easier. No doubt! But I believe I made a conscious decision today to make MOST days opportunistic (if that's a word) and make lemonade (if you will). Adding another baby to our family will absolutely present its challenges. But that shouldn't mean that it adds opportunities for mistakes, excuses, or indolence. I want my children to see a happy, healthy, well balanced Mom. (Some days, that will be a cover!) But as long as I can remember those ladies from the Stroller Strides class in Round Rock today, I think I will be just fine. I'm a Mommy on a Mission!

Please note: The women in Steiner Ranch have inspired me in the same way. This is why I chose to get certified to teach Stroller Strides to begin with. I think I was just overwhelmed by the number of women today. Mix that with these pregnancy hormones and you've got one blogging Mama!