Archive for Blended Families

Roadtrip to a Small Town

It started off with me wanting to go check out a boutique in a small town. I’ve “liked” this boutique on Facebook for a while and I was liking some of the fall items that I was seeing in my News Feed.

I thought I’d reach out to DW (my step-daughter) to see if she knew anything about the store, been there, etc. I sent her a message on Facebook, and she responded quickly. She thought she might have been there but wasn’t sure. I responded and let her know that I was thinking about going to check it out, but wasn’t sure if it was worth the trip. And that even if it was a bust, I could always say that I had been to this small town.

I let my husband know that I was thinking about driving out there and he said he would go. Really??? I said, “You know it’s a women’s clothing store, right?” He said he didn’t mind, that he wanted to go. Well alrighty. Sounds good to me! I love spending time with him.

I had a feeling that I should invite DW to go with. I thought about it for a minute, but the worse thing she could do was say “no”. So, I sent her another message. I explained that I knew it was late notice, but asked her if she would she like to come with, her dad was going, but that I totally understood if she already had plans. Our family therapist has advised to always give her an easy out. No pressure. Much to my surprise, she wrote that it sounded like fun!

I let my husband know that we’d have a third person joining, and he was a bit surprised. He said that I’m a bigger draw than he is. Which isn’t true at all. They had been trying to get together for a couple of weeks, but schedules didn’t line up. I think he was feeling a bit hurt by it. There’s a lot more to share around DW and our blending family, but I’ll save it for another post … or two… or four.

We met up at noon on Saturday, had lunch at one of my husband’s and my favorite mexican restaurants, and then headed out from there. Here’s a pic of the restaurant sign. I took it at night during another trip down there. I love how it looks!

This is a shot of Main Street. Can I tell you how much I love small towns? I love the old buildings, I love the history, I love the brick streets (I should have taken a picture of those. Maybe next time.), and I love the small shops.

Here’s where we landed ….

Cute stuff! I bought myself a top and a necklace, and DW a necklace. We went into some other shops, but made this our last real stop … a very cute ice cream/coffee shop.

It was a good day! Beautiful weather, shopping, ice cream, and best of all my husband was able to spend some time with his daughter, which he loves. I enjoyed being able to spend some time with her too, however, their relationship is a priority with me. I understand how important it is, and I want to help foster it as much as I can.

So, cheers to a great day with the hubs and DW, and keeping the faith for many more to come!

Lots of blended love,

Deb

 

 

 

Two Cars In Seven Days

Yes. That’s right. We bought, not one, but two cars for our two teen drivers in the past seven days.

How did we get here?

Well, let me tell share a story … many, many years ago (well, maybe not that long ago), my ex-husband and I set up requirements for getting a car for our oldest son. We were still married when we established the requirements and I think our son was in 5th or 6th grade, heavily into Cub Scouts, going into Boy Scouts.

The requirements are:

  • Grades must be As and Bs
  • Must participate in a sport
  • Must have achieved Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts

For reference, our son just started his junior year in high school last month. Oh, and these rules also apply for being able to keep driving the car.

About 18 months ago, we backed off of the Eagle Scout rank requirement a bit. When my ex and I divorced, my sons and I moved to a different state. Obviously, this made our son change Boy Scout troops. It was a tough transition going from a troop with boys that he had known since first grade, to being the new kid in the troop and knowing no one.

We agreed that he had to have his Eagle project defined and approved by his troop, along with the other requirements, before he got a car. He turned 16 last August and he only had 2 out of the 3 requirements. So, no car. All last year, he didn’t do too much about working on the last requirement, and complained off and on about not having a car. His dad and I discussed it again this summer, and agreed to reduce the requirement to just having the project identified. It’s not what we really wanted to do, but we also recognize that we threw our son a curve ball with the divorce. He’s adapted pretty well with all that has been thrown at him so we wanted to show him that we’re working with him, however, he still has to finish his Eagle Rank to keep the car.

This gave him the renewed energy that he needed. He worked with his troop to find a project. What sparked the difference? I’m not sure. It may have been that his step-brother is about to turn 16 in a couple of months. I’m not sure how that would have gone over at all. His step-brother getting his car before he did. I’m guessing not well. It’s just one of those blended family things. Both my son and stepson get along well, but there is an underlying competition.

We bought my son’s car from an auction in Mississippi last Thursday, right before Hurricane Isaac hit. We don’t live in Mississippi, so we’re having to have it shipped to us. No car transporter was going to tell us how soon we could get the car until they knew what we were dealing with post-hurricane. So, we’re waiting to hear how soon it can get shipped to our city.

Meanwhile, my stepson has been looking for a particular car that meets his parents’ budget requirements. Since he turns 16 in November, we’ve started looking for his car as well. My husband went out to a local car auction yesterday morning and there was THE car that my stepson has been looking for. My husband called me, we discussed the car’s condition, loan value and what he thought he could get it for. From a business perspective, we decided there wasn’t a way he shouldn’t bid on it. Plus, it would decrease the anxiety level in the family. Well, he bid on it and won. We picked it up yesterday afternoon.

Two cars in seven days. My husband and I had discussed early in the year about the possibility of the car buying going something like this due to my son’s requirements. I wasn’t too surprised that this is where we ended up.

This is one of the challenging parts of a blended family. When two families have different expectations of their children for earning a car, and then they get brought into a blended family situation, it can create some opportunities. I imagine that there is some resentment on my son’s part that his dad and I have different expectations of him than my stepson’s parents have for him. I explain to my son that this is the way his dad and I have chosen to parent him, these are not new requirements, and it’s not going to change based on another family’s decision on how to parent their child. We feel this is best for him. My ex and I are no longer married, but we still parent the same way we did when we were married. It’s funny how my boys forget that from time to time.

While you don’t hear of too many families buying two cars in a week, frankly, I’m happy that that the whole car buying thing is over. No more “when do I get my car” discussions, no more reviewing car auction sites, no more looking at Craigslist cars, AND it minimizes potential drama. Life is good!

And, luckily, the next child who will need a car doesn’t turn 16 for three more years.

Lots of blended love,

Deb

 

Back to School in a Blended Family

Whew! Anyone else still recovering from the start of school?

In our blended family, we have a college freshman, a high school junior and sophomore, and a 7th grader. I don’t know about you, but the beginning of school lasts at least a few weeks at our house. Between schedule pick ups, running classes before the first day, shopping for supplies (more like tracking down supplies), back-to-school nights, information meetings, sport meetings, shuttling kids here and there, etc. the days seem to run together.

Since our kids are older, we don’t have to do that back-to-school, open house dance that a lot of blended families do — trying to figure out if stepparents go or not. Thinking about it, I think I’m the only one who does go to those events. I mostly go to high schooler’s back-to-school night on the off chance that he’ll get some extra credit if I do.

I’ve read a lot of blogs and comments with regard to school information forms. I’m surprised at all of the energy that goes into who’s listed, who’s not. In our blended family world, I ensure that my ex-husband and husband are listed on my boys’ school information. I’m not sure if I’m listed on my stepson’s school information, but he’s 15 and he’ll call me if he can’t get in touch with his mom or dad. I don’t sweat that stuff too much since he’s older.

The having a kiddo in college has been a different experience. Watching from the outside has given me a look into what I can expect when my oldest goes to college in two years. My stepdaughter is going to college locally but chose to live in the dorms. Which I think is so good for her! But it’s not so great on her, ours and her mom’s pocketbooks. It’s crazy how much stuff these kids need for the dorm. I had forgotten. Either that, or the times have just changed. I’m going to go with the times changing. I told my husband that I think we need to start “Dorm Room” funds for the next two heading to college. However, they’re boys so they may not need as much. We’ll see. I’m not holding my breath.

We’re working at getting schedules settled in, establishing new routines, and trying to keep the wheels on at the same time. It’s hard to have too much of a set schedule/routine in a blended family with teens. I had to chuckle the other night when my husband told me that my stepdaughter said that her life is complicated and that his isn’t because he’s old. Omgosh! I laugh every time I think about it.

Quick update on my post A Letter to my Stepkids’ Mom —  One week after I wrote this post, my step-daughter started engaging with me in a different, more open way, AND my husband’s ex-wife started engaging with him in a different, more positive way. We’re trying not to question it, just go with it. Going with grace.

I hope you’re having a great week. Here’s to everyone having a successful start to school!

Love ya!

Deb

 

How to Clean Tea Stained Tea Cups

These are two of my favourite things … one of my Dunoon Nevis style tea cups and PG Tips tea. The only thing about drinking this tea in my oldish Dunoon cups is that the cups can often get tea stains in them. YUK!

Not very attractive, I know.

However, my mother-in-law, rest her soul, taught me a quick way to clean them up. First, you wet the inside of the cup, and then sprinkle a little baking soda into the cup.

It creates a bit of a paste. Rub it around the sides and bottom of the cup. You can tell when it’s working as the baking soda begins to have more of tan color to it. I had a bit too much water when I cleaned this one, it went soupy on me, but it still did the trick!

And ta-da! Neat and tidy tea cup. That was one of my mother-in-law’s favourite sayings. Everyone and everything had to be neat and tidy. Even my father-in-law!

Dunoon Nevis style tea cups are the best! Love, love them! They’re big enough to hold a lot of your fav beverage, and they have a whimisical feel. Who doesn’t like a bit of whimsy with their tea or coffee? 

Cheers!

Deb

Stepmom or My Dad’s Wife?

© Akakiy | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

If you have older, teenage stepkids, do they refer to you as “stepmom”?

When my husband and I married, his daughter was 17 and his son was 14. Not too much mothering involved with them. I mean, I do my stepson’s laundry, I take and pick him up from school 2-3 days a week, but does that fall under the heading of “mothering”? I don’t necessarily think so. I do things for him because I love him and I want to bless him, but I don’t think these actions necessarily give me the “stepmom” title.

I think the title belongs to the stepmoms of younger kiddos. You are much more involved in a mothering role when they are with you, either part-time or full-time.

My stepkids have introduced me to their friends as their stepmom, and it makes me wince a bit inside. My husband and some of my friends think that it’s a positive thing as they feel that the kids are acknowledging my role. I don’t feel that way. They have a mom. I’m their dad’s wife.

I often wonder …

  • Do they feel as awkward saying “stepmom” as I do hearing it?
  • Do they know that they have the option to introduce me as “my dad’s wife”?
  • What if it’s how they acknowledge me being a member of their family?

Of course we didn’t have this discussion before or after we got married. We just sort of rolled with it. Is it too late for that conversation? Do our stepkids need to refer to us as step-whatevers? Who is that title really for anyway? Us, them, or the people outside of our family that we feel need clarifcation of our roles.

I asked my oldest son about the titles of “stepmom” and “stepdad”. I mean, he has a dad. And I don’t necessarily view my husband as acting like a dad to him. My son had an intersting take on it … he suggested “Adult Friend” which quickly evolved to K.A.F., K, Adult Friend.” And I could be D.A.F. “Deb, Adult Friend”. At 17, he’s rarely without an answer.

Have any of you encountered this? Thought about this? I would love to hear your thoughts on it all.

Lots of blended love,

Deb