Tag Archive for stepkids

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

 

Seed Sowing Time in a Blended Family

Before we got married, my husband and I discussed ways we could integrate the kids. Setting a vision of how we’d like to see things work. We try to do fun things, be inclusive, be respectful of everyone’s likes/dislikes. We are big on family time!

We’ve had a few bumps but for the most part things have gone well. The boys are doing a great job blending. My step-daughter? Well, she’s struggled with the idea of a blended family, which I understand. There were/are a lot of factors at play, and we’ve chosen to meet my step-daughter where she is with all of it. She doesn’t come around all of us very often, so my husband and I have focused on keeping her relationship with her dad as intact as possible. 

I am so blessed by my husband. He recognizes the importance of his relationship with her, so he ensures that he keeps reaching out to her. They go out to eat once a week, or they take her brother and go out to eat, see my husband’s mom. He took her on a trip to Vegas for her 18th birthday. He calls and texts her just about every day. Sometimes he gets a response, sometimes he doesn’t, but he continues to reach out regardless. I’m sure she may think he’s a stalker at times, but he always wants her to know that she’s important to him and that he wants to stay involved with her and what she has going on.

Our initial vision didn’t look quite like where we are now. We’ve had to let go of some expecations and learn that this is where we all need to be, and it’s okay. It’s part of a greater plan.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

~ Galations 6:9 NLT

An opportunity for me to do what is good with my step-daughter came Tuesday night. 

I’ve been trying to go to a Harley and Maudes jewlery party for months! But for one reason or another, it just never worked out. Finally, one came up that I could go to. It turned out that the woman that my step-daughter nannies for was one of the hostesses of the party, and my step-daughter had plans to go too.

My husband had dinner with my step-daughter the night before the party and she mentioned it to him and that I knew about the party too (she knew that because she and I are friends on Facebook). He told her that I had been wanting to go to one for months and that I would probably be there.

It ended up being me and my mom going, and we ran into my step-daughter there. We all sort of mingled around picking out charms and geegaws, casually chatting as we went. Very relaxed. She wasn’t going to buy anything, however, she’s been working her tail off this summer earning money for college, and her dad and I wanted to treat her to a necklace. All in all, the evening  turned out to be a lot of fun!

Here’s the necklace I had made. I love it! The charms come off so I can mix-n-match what I want to wear depending on how I feel that day. Love that!

This is the necklace that my step-daughter had made. It. Is. Pretty. The picture does not do it justice.

I texted her yesterday morning to let her know how much I enjoyed seeing her. The few times we’ve met one-on-one, I’ve always tried to text her afterward to thank her for making the time (she really doesn’t have to), and to tell her how much I enjoyed spending time with her. For older stepkids, I think it’s important to acknowledge them for making time to see you as well as telling them how much you enjoyed it. In my opinion, it’s what you would do with any of your friends. 

My husband and I were a bit surprised at her final response (she’s the white bubble). I’ve never gotten that kind of response before. 

I’m cautiously optimistic about where we’re headed. She even made comment at the jewelry party about coming to our house to do laundry as our house is closer to her than her mom’s. We’d LOVE that! But again, we’ll see. No expectations.

Maybe there’s a time coming where we’ll begin to reap a bit of what we’ve sowed — unconditional love, consistency, support, understanding — meeting her where she is, not putting pressure on her. Even if it isn’t time to reap, we’ll just keep in sowing along.

Here’s to positive stepmom and step-daughter relationships!

Deb

P.S. From a total non-stepmom perspective, if you like funky jewelry, check out Harley and Maudes on Facebook. They’ll have a website up soon! And they don’t know me from Eve. I just love their jewelry!

Cleaning My Stepson’s Microfiber Futon

“Thank goodness for Pinterest!” is all I can say.

My husband’s ex-wife sold the house they had together, and over the past few weeks some things have been slowly making their way to our house. My husband has done a great job keeping me in the loop about what’s coming home, so there wouldn’t be any surprises. And there haven’t been … until last Sunday.

My stepson’s futon which was put into his dad’s truck to be hauled off as trash, arrived at our house to be put in his room. We usually have discussion about these sorts of things, however, this discussion happened while it was sitting in the truck at our house. Net, net, we want him to feel as at home as possible, so we agreed that he could keep it here.

It’s a microfiber futon, and it was showing its use. The very night before, I had seen someone pin how to clean microfiber couches on Pinterest. I love how things work out!

You need rubbing alcohol, a spray bottle and a scrub sponge. Check this blog post out for more details and FAQs.

Here’s the “Before” shot. I started with the corner just to see if it would work.

BEFORE

And it totally did! I couldn’t believe how easily the gunk came off/out of it.

AFTER

Okay, and just so you know what a total freakazoid I am, here’s a before and after shot of the sponge I used to clean it. I felt great satisfaction that I could see the efforts.

The sponge on the left is what the sponge on the right looked like when I started cleaning the futon.

I want to thank whoever originally pinned this blog post to Pinterest, but I want to REALLY thank Chris & Robin over at “Chris & Robin’s Nest” for blogging about this back in 2010. 

Happy Cleaning!

Deb

Step Parents, Facebook & Twitter

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post about cyberbullying and step-parenting. It ended with a pretty strong statement that maybe the step-mother who had cyberbullied her stepchild made a mistake in offering to join the family. Yikes! Maybe this stepmom just needed some insight or knowledge from another stepmom that would have helped the situation, helped her understand that cyberbulllying through Facebook or Twitter isn’t the path she wants to be on.

I think we should talk about step-parenting and social media more than we do as social media is pervasive … Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, blogs. It made me think about how my husband and I handled this social media / step parent thing when we got married.

Starting our blended family with teenagers brought its own set of unique opportunities. One of them was how best to manage Facebook and Twitter. I mean, three out of our four kids have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and my step-daughter has a blog. We made sure we spent some time discussing this one, because as we know, it can be minefield out there and you don’t even know it until you’re out in the middle of it.

Our Social Media Approach

We came up with a fairly simple approach to it … let them make the first move. We chose to see if our stepkids cared to engage with us on social media. I waited to see if my stepkids sent me a friend request on Facebook. They did. My oldest son sent my husband a friend request. I waited to see if they followed me on Twitter. One did, one didn’t. I’m totally okay with that. I think that by them reaching out, it showed that they wanted to invite us a bit more into their worlds. But if your stepkids, don’t invite you into this part of their world, just remember, it’s okay. Really. It isn’t a slight against you personally. Although, it is so easy to feel that way. Been there, done that with other situations myself. Try to remember that they’re kids, trying to figure this all out just like we are. We need to be the example, we need to show them the way by our actions.

So, what are your intentions with your stepkids on Facebook or Twitter? Intentions drive actions. Our intentions are to show our stepkids that we care about them, that they are loved, that they can count on us, that we will not be shaken, we have their best interests at heart. We do not want to make their lives any harder than we have to.

Social Media Guidelines 

So, based on our intentions and the dynamics in our blended family, my husband and I came up with this list of guidelines for social media engagement with our kids and stepkids:

  1.  Keep the engagement light, maybe a “Like” here and there. Too many “likes” can look stalker-ish.
  2.  Keep comments on the kids’ Facebook status update/pix to a minimum. Sharing your comments in person is always an option.
  3.  Keep status updates/tweets about them few and far between. If we do include them, we keep the update/tweet positive.
  4.  Be discerning about tagging them in status updates, pictures. This could upset my stepkids’ mom so we really shy away from it. We’ve gone to the extreme of not putting pictures from events or trips on Facebook.
  5.  Do not use Facebook and Twitter as primary communication tools.
  6.  Do not use Facebook or Twitter as platforms to vent. Even if our stepkids aren’t following us, they can find us and see what we’ve been saying.

These guidelines are specific to our family with where we are now in the blending process. They’re working for us. Just some ideas to consider, they may or may not work for you and your blended family situation.

I would love to hear from some of you regarding how you handle social media … the good stuff and the challenging stuff. How have you handled Facebook and Twitter in your blended family?

Deb