Monday, November 5, 2012

Be Thankful

The last month has been pretty full of challenges & obstacles. Fall is zipping right past me, and I've had little time to bask in it's cool, colorful splendor. Kids have been...well, kid-ish, in both good & bad ways. The washer broke, and I HATE trips at 10 pm on a Thusday night to laundry mats. Cars keep breaking. Teens....need I say more? Normal life has just been wearing on us, physically & emotionally for a very long time.

My T said something to me in one of our little spat chats the other day that really resonated in my soul as profound, and timely. He said "I think we need to chat about the things we appreciate about each other." He went on to say how life is so full of chaos & drama that it's hard to step back & keep in sight the positives. We were both feeling just so completely unappreciated, by each other, by the minions, by everything & everyone. This really opened my eyes! I love this man with everything I am, and am sooo very grateful for everything he does for me & our family, and yet he doesn't feel it. And I know he loves me, so... Something has to change.With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I felt the need to redirect focus in our home, hearts & minds. For us, for the kids, for the future spouses they will have.

A good artsy-fartsy project was just what the doctor ordered, and I've been eyeing a few for awhile..

This one and this one. And this.

On one of my many child related errands this weekend, I made an impromptu detour to A.C.Moore's. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but decided to just go with the flow, and see what happened. I ended up with flat white spray paint, some chalkboard vinyl stuff,  a stamp, black ink, some cute little brown tags & a few fat chalkboard pens.

I started with a fairly large wooden picture frame I had been given years ago. It was dark-ish baby blue, no glass, no backing board. I've been stubbornly refusing to throw it away, knowing someday I'd find a good use for it. I spray painted it flat white. Three coats. Then, I took some hemp string and strung it through the half-pulled out staples on the backside of the frame. (I didn't take pictures, sorry! The staples used to hold the backing board in place.) Then I stamped each of the paper tags, and hung them on the hemp string with some adorable little miniature clothespins. Then, down came the dining room clock, and up went this frame with tags.

I sat there looking at it, and it was like...cute, but....meh. The three strings with tags attached seemed off kilter somehow. They were evenly spaced throughout the frame, but the empty space above the first string was glaring at me. And the white of the wall didn't match the white of the frame, and it annoyed me. In other words, it wasn't done.

So, I talked T into cutting me a piece of louon (in exchange for honorable mention later on in the project). I took out the rolled vinyl chalkboard stuff...garbage. Don't buy it. I went downstairs, got the leftover chalkboard paint from the girl's bedroom painting, and spiffed up the wannabe wood square. After trying a staple gun (turns out it was empty), hot glue & carpet tacks, I ended up attaching the new "chalkboard" to the frame with some very teeny finishing nails. After a few tries, I got the chalkboard pen to work splendidly. Yes! I was done!

The words aren't centered. I don't care.

The boys have been eager to fill out some of the cards, and I've done some as well. One of the girls filled one out too.

So far, TV, PS2, washing machines, food, the couch and "the man with the saw" have been forever recorded as things we are thankful for.

We'll keep filling them out, as the days move us towards Thanksgiving, and I hope to make this a tradition in years to come. Hopefully, this will help remind everyone in this house (including me) to be appreciative of what we have, no matter how yucky things seem in that moment.

PS. Next time, I'll take pics as I go... Pin It

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Weekend of Fall

I got a bit of decorating done over the weekend.

(free printable subway art here)

I also took time to make cupcakes, cookies & crumb cake. A few years ago, I would have felt guilty that 2 of the 3 came out of a box. Today, not so much. Ok, maybe a little. But, I'll get over it.

Also grocery shopping, cleaning, 13.4 loads of laundry, and some alone time with my camera. Ok..we weren't really alone, but time with the camera is sufficient, or me, for now.

My daughter:

Her eye, her request:

I love fall, and I love that I finally got a chance to enjoy it, for a fraction of a moment.


I'm already looking forward to this weekend, and hopefully pumpkin patches, carvings & costumes.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Thankful's

I'm not promising a weekly theme, but today is Thursday.

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Defiant teens? Overdue bills? Empty bank account? Meh.

Paperwork drowning from 9:15am to 5pm? Pffft.

More chores then I could do if I didn't sleep for a week straight? Whateva.

In light of all the things I could (and frequently do) complain about, I am choosing this moment, today, to be thankful for some of Life's little things.

1. Boots. (my flip flops are going to be jealous...)

Boots are da bomb diggity. Pair 'em with a cute skirt, some rockin' jeans, or (if you're 19 and a size 3) some short shorts, and you could quite possibly rule the world with your sexy boot-wearin' self. Just remind yourself to de-pill your leggings before leaving the house..

2. Earrings. Whoever invented them, I love you. Would marry you, love. Errrm, would bring a really nice bottle of wine to your wedding, love. are awesome.

3. Pens.

Without them, the world would be less ink filled. Pencils aren't low maintenance enough for me, and I never learned sign language.

4. Music. It makes me smile. Unless it's a sad song. Then I cry. But that usually means I needed to cry, so I'm still thankful.

5. A good smile. It's like a light fixture in a very deep closet. When it's off, you really miss it. When it's on? Everything is sooo much easier.

6. My kids. They make me smile.

7. My camera.

It always waits patiently when I'm too busy to give it attention. It quietly does it's job when I ask. It never criticizes when I make it look bad. And it fits nicely in my hand.

8. Google. Without you, I would have won many more bets with my (imagined) brilliant responses to random questions like "what are fingernails made out of?" Ok, ok...I'm not thankful you cost me bets. I'm thankful that when I find your hidden easter eggs, I get giddy like a school girl.

9. My puppy.

He puts a smile on my face, at least once a day. And then he pees. If you're peein', you're still alive, so I'm thankful.

What are you thankful for?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012


For years, I've been rushing out of the house by 7:20 am, dropping unfed (and sometimes undressed) kids at a sitter, going off to my day job, and coming home around five. Dinner was usually by 6, and sometimes we had homework done before bed. Free lunch at school saved my ass many times...ok, almost every time. The baby sitter saved it a few too, with last minute homework scrambles, forgotten snack replacements & a few "I'm gonna be late" days too many. It worked. Not well, but it was our routine.

Now, I have a new routine.

Up at 6:30 am.
Make coffee, throw together 3 lunches, feed puppy, kiss T goodbye, perhaps claim the bathroom as mine for 34.9 seconds.
Leave at 7:05 am.
Drop off a child at school, be home by 7:35 am so another child can leave for school.
Make 2 more lunches, finish up any 1st or 2nd grade homework that got ignored missed the night before, corral two boys & convince them getting dressed is good for their health. Double check that i didn't forget to give them breakfast. Prep a dinner, let puppy out at least three times, get dressed, perhaps take another 34.9 seconds to throw some makeup on my face. Throw in, switch around, or fold a load of laundry. (did you *really* think I'd not mention laundry?) Hair brushing has never been optional. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that... sometimes, now it is.
Boys on the bus at 8:45. Hopefully, I have remembered to give them both snacks AND lunches.
Puppy-proof the kitchen. Earrings in. Shoes on. Baby Puppy Gate up. Check pockets & hands. Keys? Coffee? Purse?
8:55 am. Out the door to work.
9:15 am - 5:30 pm. Work.
6:00 pm. Home. Kiss T, pet puppy, feed puppy, finish making dinner (unless T has gotten home first & already done so), serve dinner. Eat. Fold laundry (maybe). Decompress with T. Attempt to catch up boys' homework. Maybe read a story, give a bath, trim some nails, or other mom-ish stuff. Play with puppy. Some days there's taxi service thrown in, or errands, or grocery shopping, or last minute scrambles for projects, pet supplies, beer, etc. Get boys ready for bed. Secretly wish I was going to bed too.
8:00 pm. Boys in bed. Chit-chat with girls. More decompressing with T. Sometimes more taxi service. Shower at some point before midnight. Let puppy out..again. Think about all the things I wanted to do today, but didn't. Fall into bed & dream about smashing my alarm clock into millions of teeny tiny pieces with a 40 lb sledge hammer.

And here's the kicker.

Every single day, I feel less accomplished, less organized, less....DONE. Every. Single. Stinkin'. Day.

I thought for sure with 2 extra hours every morning, I'd have time to cook, time to enjoy sons & mommy time, time to clean. I'd have time to be a better mom, a better significant other, a better me. Time to actually help with homework. Time to take pictures. Time to calibrate a kidney-friendly canine diet. Time to do bills, cut coupons, scour the web for new recipes. Time to blog, at home. Time to paint my nails. Time to... clean my room gasp!. I don't. And I don't get it... perhaps the puppy ate my super-mom cape. Perhaps whichever one of my brain cells that controls "organization of life as a mom" is fried. I really don't want to be super-mom. It's just that...well, I had all these visions of all these things I'd be able to cram into that 2 hours a day, and all these ideas of all these things I'd be able to do in the evenings. Haha! I sure laugh at me & my ideas... sigh.

How do I start feeling less like I'm chasing my tail, and more like I'm chasing the dream? And, for the love of all things good & evil the heck do I STAY caught up on ANYTHING? I just want to NOT feel at the end of the day like I did nothing, and yet exhausted myself in the process. Is that really so much to ask?

I did have make time to whip up a batch of home made chocolate chip cookies this morning, in between lunches & make-up. The laundry lost the "I'm of upmost importance" battle, for once.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And the award goes to...


I was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award! Don't know what that is? I didn't either, til Tina gave me one. Apparently the rules are as follows:

* You have to list 11 things about yourself.
* Answer the 11 questions sent to you by the person who nominated you.
* Choose UP TO 11 bloggers that have less than 200 followers to nominate to get their own award.
* Post 11 questions (in your blog post) for them to answer (on their own blog).
* Go to your nominees page and inform them of their award.
* You CAN NOT tag back.

So, here goes...
Eleven Random Things About Me
 1) Flip flops are my favorite foot adornment.
 2) I forgot to feed my boys breakfast one day last week.
 3) I believe God is real, Stephen King is amazing & coffee is non-negotiable.
 4) Blue is my favorite color. Purple is my least favorite.
 5) I hate my job. This makes me feel ungrateful, but it's true.
 6) I totally heart John Mayer
 7) I love silver & white gold. Hate gold colored gold. 
 8) I think making people smile is one of the best feelings in the world.
 9) I am slowly loosing my ability to multitask efficiently, or even partially effectively. (see #2)
10) I will die without having ever eaten escargot. I'm perfectly ok with that.
11) When I wash dishes, my legs itch. Are they screaming for hydration? 

1. Name something you can't go a day without doing.
Coffee. It's an addiction.
2. If you were given the keys to a time machine, where would you go and why?
I'd go back to the day my oldest was born, soak in everything about his precious little existence I possibly could, and tell myself about all the mistakes I'm going to make. I'd remind myself that patience is a virtue, forgiveness is important, and hindsight is (almost) always 20/20. Then, I'd grab my cellphone, an IPod & my camera, and hop backwards a thousand years, give or take a few. Hi, my name is Jenn. I'm from the future. Mind if I show you this cool gadget? What's that you say? Music coming from my hands? Voices of people hidden in strange devices that vibrate? I must be a witch? Nah..just a cool chick with some technology that might give you a heart attack..say cheese!
3. Do you prefer blue or black ink?
Blue. And even more important then the color of the ink, is the thickness of the pen. Can't be too think, or too thin. I'm a pen snob.
4. What's the last thing you regretted buying?
A Tim Horton's iced coffee. In fact, I asked my daughter to kindly remind me next time that when it comes to iced coffee, I'm always disappointed I didn't hold out for Dunkin' Donuts.
5. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Dory. She is like me, only in a fish's body.
6. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
What am I saving them from? And will I go to jail or just get a fine? Important details! I'll go worst case scenario, and say yes, I will break a really really big law to save a loved one's life, limb or coffee.
7. What's #1 on your Bucket List?
Grand Canyon
8. Name the first song that comes to mind.
It Will Rain, Bruno Mars
9. If you could trade lives with anyone, who would it be?
No one. My life might not be great, but no one's is perfect. At least with mine, I have what I need, and the ones I love.
10. What's your favorite game show?
What the crap kinda question is that? LOL kidding!!! I haven't watched game shows in f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I guess I'd have to say Price is Right (old school with Bob Barker). Wheel of fortune was always interesting, and Jeopardy was too hard....There was that one with slime..that always looked like messy fun. 
11. Do you own more books than movies?
Sadly, no. I used to. I wish I still did. 

My Nominations:
*** FYI, I chose to use first names, not because I'm like creepy stalker-sh, but because I want to honor the writer of the blog, not the blog itself. Hope you gals don't mind! :) ***
Elli  - I follow her 365, but she has several blogs. I love her positive vibes!
Cindy - I found her while looking for organizational ideas, etc. She's got some great ideas!
Kim - a pretty sweet food blog, with a twist!
Shavon - This lady has a great sense of humor, and I love her posts! She's a new-to-me blog, but I'll be following her, for sure!
Mom to a peanut - hehe, I don't know her first name sorry! But her blog rocks! A little DIY, a little mom stuff, a little photography, etc..check her out!

Dear Nominees, here are your questions...
1 ) If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
2) Your happiest memory from before you were 10?
3) Do you like your job? Why or why not?
4) Name the first three things that pop into your head, that start with T
5) Favorite Book?
6) Where did you meet your best friend?
7) It's 2:34 PM. Where are you on a typical day, and what are you doing?
8) Do you use coupons?
9) What was the last thing you bought for yourself?
10) Coffee or Tea?
11) If you could tell your 16 yr old self one thing, what would be?

Just wanna send out a huge thank you to Tina @ Tina's Tid-Bits for thinking me worthy of the Liebster Blog Award! This was fun!

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Spilling over

I feel a bit like I'm walking into a confessional booth.
"It's been two weeks since my last.." Sigh.

Spilling over.

T.J. struck in the ten minute gap between my daughter leaving for school and me returning from another child's school drop-off. I don't even care that the picture is shitty. I do care, immensely, that my pup is finally being a pup. And while a smile-tainted "ohhhhh, you're a bad boy" did escape my lips, my first thought was of my camera. And wondering why I didn't have a baby book for him. This would have been on the "T.J.'s Firsts" list.

Two weeks ago today, T.J. was admitted into an emergency vet hospital. He was in severe kidney failure. It was a whirlwind weekend, full of many tears, lots of questions, and very few answers. In hindsight, it explained his lack of puppy behavior for the last few weeks. The vets suggested euthanasia. We couldn't do it. Today, after fluids, meds & a special diet, he is the most bouncy, pouncy, clumsy & playful boxer puppy a woman could ask for. Tomorrow? We won't know til then.

He sleeps in our bed, between us. Legs straight out. This 32 lb boxer can take up half a queen sized bed, no problem.

This weekend, his diet will get special-er. I've been researching home cooking for dogs in renal failure, and am gonna give it a shot. The food he's on now is good for dogs with kidney problems, but reminds me a bit of meat flavored jello. He's gonna get boxer stew. Smile.

He's learned how to ring bells when he needs to go out. He still has accidents in the house, daily.
He speaks, knows "down" but ignores "off". He will (if you're lucky) sit quietly & wait for you to let him eat. If you're not lucky, he will have it half gone before the bowl touches the floor.

I have yet to figure out how to get a good shot of him, sitting still, in focus, unless he's not looking at me.

He is on meds, and every other day sub-q fluids. I never knew how hard it would be to stick a needle in something that's alive. I think it bothers me more then him, at this point.
He will die, from this, someday. No one can say when. We just hope that someday is not soon.


Spilling over.

When titling the garbage photo, that's all I could think of. Spilling over. And how very accurately that describes the mental state I've been in. It's like a bucket that's too full. A washer with too many bubbles. A tub left to run, and run, and run.

The puppy, bills, work, the kid's homework, struggling with dinner schedules, parent teacher nights, more homework...ugh. There's been a few moments of "oh dear lord, I just need to cry". And cry I did.

And then there is teenagers.

Car accidents. Tongue rings. Attitudes that would make a hardened criminal blush. Gas leaks. Insurance loss (due to said attitudes). Entitlement. Meddling grandparents who are lied to, and enforce the entitlement & attitudes. I could tell all the gory details, but I think I'll just leave it to the imagination. It's sufficient to say we have two almost-18 year old children who want to be adults in every way, except the responsibility & respect for parental authority part. And that has been a battle, every day, for a very long time. And it's all coming to a head in more ways then one. And that means more spilling over.


I have yet to do anything fall or Halloween related. I suck. Pin It

Friday, September 28, 2012

T.G.I. (a fall) F.


and that's all I have to say about that.

 TJ is very sick. He's chosen daddy's chair as his place to be most hours of the day. He's on a de-wormer, an antibiotic and a chicken & rice diet. You shoulda seen the way T looked at me when I asked the vet if brown rice was ok. Haha! Hey, what's health(ier) for me should be health(ier) for the puppy, eh? A few days later, and he's still got stuff comin' out both ends, poor guy :( Might be time to call the vet again :(

Yes, I know... reoccurring theme. Sorry 'bout that. Thing is, even if I didn't mention it in every post I'd be mentioing it today because..well, I feel it's my duty as a woman to warn other women about the incredibly HORRIBLE mess a gallon & a half of laundry soap can make. I have 3 things to say.
1. If you hear a loud "thud" coming from the bathroom (aka laundry area) at 10 pm, and you're cozy in bed watching Storage Wars, get up & investigate....even if it makes you cringe because you are sure it's just someone dropping off another basket of dirty laundry.
2. Puppy pads make amazing soak-up-laundry-soap pads. Their absorption powers are astounding. Too bad T.J. won't pee on them.
3. Before thinking of afore mentioned puppy pads, I used towels to sop & a dustpan to scoop. Yes, scoop. It was that thickly plastered over the 6' x 4' space. Under my washer & dryer. Dripping down through the floor board into the basement, onto the newly installed bedroom ceilings. 1.5 Gallons. Anyway, I am now, 2 days later, about halfway through washing the 6 towels used for soppage. See, I only need one towel per load. No additional soap required. Must wash twice though. The plus side? The bathroom still smells fantastically crisp & clean.

P.S. I am very sorry I didn't get pictures. I considered it when I was slipping & sliding around, scooping. I considered again while I was cleaning soap from INSIDE the dryer's lint trap. Next time, I will. I'm almost positive there will be a next time. To appease you, here's the after picture. Please note the askew screw-on lid that apparently bends & pops right off upon impact.

P.P.S. I will admit the inner child o'mine really reeeallly considered putting all 6 towels in the washer. Ohhh yes, the suds cascading over the side of a closed washing machine would have made a spectacular photo. Too bad the practical angel on my shoulder lovingly reminded me I'd be the one cleaning it up. Sigh.

On happier notes, it's FALL! Fall is my favorite time of year, the smells, the colors, the cooking...I just get all giddy with fallish nonsense. Halloween is the first of the decorating excitements, and I've only just begun.

Yea, I just noticed the paper inside the frames is crooked. I may fix...or I may leave it. It adds to the charm of my very un-perfect house..haha

I've been scouring Pinterest for all kinds of ideas, and I will be doing something this weekend. I just haven't decided which of these wonderfully halloween-ish things I want to do first.

TGIF! And a fall Friday at that! Pin It

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Snowshoes in a Minefield

The honeymoon is over.

Meet me, the official bitchy step-mom who makes lunches, does laundry, buys double hairspray AND double hair gel (because heaven forbid we share if our dna is different), & becomes a freakin' contortionist in her quest to make everyone as happy as possible.

I may sound angry, but in reality, I'm not. I'm just resigned to the fact that over the last week, I have been put in my place, so to speak. The everything-is-smiles-and-love rug? Pulled out from under me. My "I'm going to make everyone happy, and we'll be the happiest family that ever lived happily ever after" bubble? Burst, and disgusting ooze came out. True story. My gushing about everything going soooo unexpectedly well? Meh.

Truth be told, I'm having as hard of a time adjusting as everyone else (even you, my dear bonus daughters). Laundry for 8 isn't the same as laundry for 5, no matter how ya fold ya. Slice it anyway you please, but dinner for eight isn't as simple as dinner for 5. Let's face choices that 8 people from totally different "normals" can agree on? Non-existent. And being "mom" to 6 isn't quite the same as mom to 4, especially when 2 of the six don't want a mom, a female role-model, or even anything that closely resembles a female authority. And by authority, I mean presence in the house other then "visitor who only talks to her own kids".

I mention laundry a lot, I know. It's almost as if it never existed until now, the way it's changed in my perception of "what is a big deal right now, what isn't". I don't mind the task. And it really isn't a big deal, at all. It's just...different now. Like everything else. Things are changed.

Last night, I had an emergency "girl chat" with T's younger daughter. I guess I had hurt her feelings with something I said earlier in the day, and on top of being picked on in school, she was drowning in the "everything has changed in my world" sea. She dealt with it by calling me a female canine, behind my back, in front of my daughter. Who, of course, told me in the midst of our "girl chat" regarding her bad days, sadness, grumpiness, and "my whole world has changed" sea-ventures. And I wasted no time in addressing the issue, and restating my one non-negotiable....if you have a problem with me, tell ME. Don't talk behind my back about how I yelled at you for being awake at 8 am on a day you stayed home sick. Especially when it was just a question, asked out of curiosity, and explained as such when 2.6 seconds after it was asked, it was obvious I ruffled your feathers. Don't carry around a deep seated, three-day-long anger at me for something I did (but don't know I did), or didn't do (but thought I did). Just talk to me. I'm not the devil. I don't (usually) bite. I have grumpy days, just like you. I don't even care if you don't wanna like me. I'm not the enemy. I'm just the woman who moved in, and wants to make this transition as easy on you as I can...

Tears. And silence. And a pretty clear air of I'm being misunderstood, or at least unheard. Even this morning, I didn't even get a good morning, screw you, or thank you for the lunch you packed. And it's spread to her older sister, who undoubtedly has been told all about our "girl chat", with a twist. So yippee, I've somehow managed to alienate both of them, without even trying. I guess that's what evil stepmothers do.  And my daughter apparently deserves the cold shoulder as well, because she told. Sigh.

I love these girls, with all my heart. I'm determined to make this work. I am just now painfully aware that for awhile, it's going to be like walking through a minefield, blindfolded, with snowshoes on. Cue a lightening storm. Yes, like that.

It gets better, or so I'm told.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Being Pleasantly Surprised

Yesterday's post made me feel much better. Thank you for that. It also gave me a bit of a mental shove...

The older girls ... A1 (17), A2 (14) & K (12)... get home before I do. They get E (6) & M (5) off the bus. C (17) has a weird schedule right now that maybe I'll get into later. I usually get home around 5:30, and T (my honey) beats me by just a few minutes.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of leaving work early. I stopped by the grocery store (trip number 36 for the week, I'm sure of it)....fresh uncooked pizza for dinner it is. After grabbing a few other must-have's (bagels, eggs & womanly products if ya must know), I went home.

M & K melted my heart with this (mixed with laughter from A2 & E & a puppy's antics coming from the living room). It was her dishes day (today will be A2's turn), and I didn't even have to ask for them to be done. M hasn't yet learned it isn't "cool" to be a helping volunteer, and she allowed his "help".

Too bad half the dishes need to be rewashed because K rushes & is too preoccupied with her current "non-boyfriend" to see the crusted cheese or stubborn chili left-over specks on every dish she gives M to rinse....and he could care less either way.

With a now-clean kitchen, I am free to bake the pizza (after topping rearrangement), and head to the deck with my camera, a drink & TJ.

He loves my now dead herb "garden"....

I think I've made mention of our basement remodel...? In order to move in, and not feel as if we're sardines, we added 3 bedrooms, a soon-to-be family room, and a will-be-bathroom to the basement. Effectively, it doubled the house size, and the tax bill. We painted the bedrooms, in reds, pinks, greens, zebra stripes, and chalkboard paint....(I have pictures somewhere..are you surprised?) The rollers have been salvaged to the best of my ability for the  project's completion (some day other then today)...

Yes, we have a purple wooden deck swing. With a broken seat board. I'll strip & stain it, some other day.

Oh yes, my drink...

By this point, the smoke detectors are going off, reminding me that pizza is ready, and T is walking in the door. The rest of the evening dwindles away into homework, (MORE?) laundry, puppy, teen taxi-ing, and stories of The First Break-Up of 7th Grade. (because he was a jerk face Mom!) glad you ditched him then ;)

Later in the evening, T asked why we weren't following the laundry plan we envisioned...the one where each child has a basket, and fills it with dirty laundry, then bringing it to me to be washed, dried & returned in all it's unfolded glory. Instead, there is a never ending mountain of needs-to-be-folded clothing, and need-to-be-matched socks & who's-are-these undies on the love seat. And it's like, really? Who knew this many people could possible wear enough clothes to fill a thrift store in 2 days? Sigh.

 (the laundry shot...dirty, begging to be washed, ignored for the moment)

To their credit, A1 & A2 have faithfully helped almost every night. Without the cami-identification abilities their teen eyes possess, I'd be lost in the avalanche of socks, yoga pants & undies. I'm still not sure how they do it...I mean one size small, black cami from Deb's looking strikingly similar to another Deb's brand black cami size me anyway. Oh well, if they are happy about who's clothes pile gets which one, then so am I.

Oh, and back to my original thought...we *will* be going to the one basket per load plan...soon. And I won't have to match socks, ever again. #dream

This morning, I again took time to just capture the moments. After making 4 breakfasts, and three lunches, I drove C to school while A1 drove herself & A2, then TJ & I watched K head off into her day.

I quickly got dressed, made two more lunches, threw a pork roast into a crockpot with garlic & bbq sauce, and proceeded to enjoy the "quiet" of E & M.

This was actually a true quiet moment....atypical of their normal atomic bomb-like version of "shhhhh". I <3 Mario Kart sometimes.

TJ, while still pretty camera shy, was a bit more subdued for a few moments....

And we had no puppy accidents stepped in this morning.

We got the boys into their school clothes (without a fight! Yippee!), and onto the bus, and then TJ settled in for his alone time, while I took off to start my day in the real world.

Things are going semi-well in the land of blendedly blissful, for today......and that's all I can ask for.

I need to revisit the method with which I refer to the children...I feel a bit like I'm talking about robots or scientific specimens. I don't plan on making them aware of their existence in this blog-world. If anyone who's reading this has a teen daughter, they'll probably agree to do so would be potentially hazardous to my health. Perhaps this is why most of my photographic ventures are inanimate objects or animals who can't say no?

For now, please know that no matter what I call them here, teen girls can be a lot more helpful then I expected, and that, in this (bio/non) mom's opinion, is a pleasant surprise. In fact, many things about this whole blending thing have not gone the way I thought they would...and that is both good, and not. And a subject for another day.

Happy Hump Day!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Write. Tell. Say.

 I've struggled with knowing what to write here. I know, I know. It's been mere days since I started (yet another) blog, but I've already felt the pull of  "you need to be writing, Jenn ...write. Tell. Say."

  I almost want to write about how I've washed, dried and or folded at least 4 loads of laundry a day for 8 days straight. I would love to write about the fantastic chili gracing our table last night, and how the kids I expected to hate it the most, loved it and vice versa. I almost want to write about my T, and all his wonderful-ness, and how our relationship has blossomed & thrives on silent smiles, good teamwork & little things. He'd probably cringe if he knew he was in any way associated with anything blossomy. I could write about my (overgrown) garden, my un-fulfilling 9-5, my desire to spend every winter evening snuggled with my little ones, reading stories & sipping hot cocoa. I don't really want to write about TJ (the boxer baby) peeing in my bed, or stepping in nice warm squishy puppy poop this morning as the taste of coffee first hit my lips. I'm inclined to consider writing about my eldest (let's call him C), who's a straight A's senior in high school with a self-appointed diploma in Life and All Things Related, & has mustered up several solid efforts at disrupting Household Peace for a week straight. I could write about how our once-in-a-blue-moon-calm-chat last night settled a few things, and this morning was (almost) dare I say, normal. Well, then there was the poop... sigh
 I guess there's quite a few things I haven't figured out, about what belongs here, what doesn't. About how I'll refer to our 6 minions, if not by name, not by initials (because some are shared), if not by only the way they make my heart swell with tears & pride, in more ways then one. I haven't yet figured out how I'll be able to fill these pages with details of happy blending, when I don't even have the answers on the "how-to blend & not be miserable" yet. I haven't decided if my free time will even allow writing, photography, or (fingers crossed) both. After all, I can't type from the bathroom, and that's where us moms get our peace & quiet, right? I haven't figured out yet how a blog titled "Eight Are We: The Pursuit of Blendedly Blissful" will entirely encompass all I want it to......children, good food, flowers, photos, humor, memories, ideas, projects, love, accomplishment, and iced coffee. Perhaps that's something I don't need to figure out, yet.
 Truth is, I've had it in my heart to write, to document via photos, to leave a legacy of sorts, a history if you will, of my life, my children, my story. I've wanted to do something, somehow, that touched someone, helped someone, or even just brought a smile to their heart once. I've toyed with  finding a sense of "this is who I am" & "this is what I'm worth" in ideas, and projects (a fatally interrupted 366 for example). I've read other blogs, and felt inspired, challenged, intimidated even. A few of my favorites I tend to rediscover, and fall in love with again, and again. The writing styles, the photographic styles, the candor, the finesse, the way their words just settle on your soul with a quiet understanding, a feeling of mom kinship. To say I want to be just like them when I grow up? Not an understatement. Please check them out. Serious. You will thank me.
 I guess I could start with a "Hi, my name is Jenn, I love coffee, cats & my camera. Here are my kids, this is my life, and oh by the way, here's a snapshot of unfolded laundry I took with said (dusty) camera. Please listen (read) as I babble on & on about nothing, and therefore find my tranquility."

I don't really have a laundry snapshot. Not a recent one, anyway. Add that to my to-do list, right below grocery shopping, teddy bear mending, book order ordering & snuggling.

Maybe later I'll write about the midgets (and the kids who are taller then me), show off the puppy, and start the real blogging. I just need to stop thinking. Write. Tell. Say.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sanity is over-rated

Two years, 6 months & 3 days ago, I met my soul mate. Last month, me & my four children moved into his home. We brought our cat. And then we went out & got a puppy last week. Three bedrooms in a full basement finishing project are 95% complete. A house owned by me is sitting, empty of humans yet half full of my worldly possessions, fate undetermined. We still have a family room & bathroom that need to be dry-walled, painted, etc. School just started, my work schedule has changed, I'm relearning how to be a mom. Talk about strange...being a mom for 17 years, and suddenly feeling as if you don't know *how* to be a mom. I'm also back to being a "wife". We aren't married, but once again I'm finding myself no longer being the only parent, the only one who needs work clothes washed, the only deciding factor in menu planning, or the only one who hates to pay bills. Did I mention the puppy?

I'm already questioning my sanity. I've been chasing the proverbial bone for over a year. I wanted it, so bad my mouth was drooling. I pushed & planned & worked HARD to catch the bone. Now it's sitting square between my jaws, and I'm ecstatic. But, I dunno what the hell to do with it. Gnaw on it? Bury it? Give it to the cat? Throw it in the air & let it hit me on the head?
And that's why I'm here....

"Don't do it. You'll be sorry."
"It's the hardest thing we've ever done."
"It was almost the end of our relationship."
"You're crazy. It won't work."
"Patience & grace. Lots of both. It's the only way."
"Love will not be enough to hold things together."
"If I did it all over again, I would run the other way, FAST."

These are things I've been told in response to my questions about blending families. I've read in forums dedicated to step mothers (evil & angelic alike), and the general consensus was always "my stepkids are the devil's spawn". I was overwhelmed at times with the level of resentment, anger & general "I hate my life" some of the women portrayed in their writings. It seemed so....wrong. And not the kind of person I wanted to be. Not the kind of experience I wanted to have. There had to be another way. There had to be successful blendings out there. There had to be moms who were blessed, and dare I say thankful, for their "bonus kids". And I was going to be one of those, if it killed me.

I suppose I should stop here, and apologize in advance if I've already offended someone, in my very first post. For this blog to be successful, for it to serve it's purpose to *me*, I'll have to be brutally honest in every syllable. I could tiptoe around the issues, and sugar coat the words, but what good would that do? If what I'm looking for is a way to stay sane, an avenue of escape & a quest for "answers to the age-old blending without murder or straitjacket questions", I'm going to have to throw politically correct out the window, and just type. So, let it be understood, I am not potentially offensive intentionally. I'm only me.. honest, and uncensored. Moving on...

It's been almost a month. One of the hardest months I've experienced in a long while.Emotionally, it's been on par with my divorcing days. I've had a moment or two where I've silently asked myself if I was doing the right thing. I've considered "going home", and realized this *is* home. I've felt pure joy, pride, anger, sadness, hope & everything in between. To say it's been a roller coaster would be slightly less dramatic then I want to convey's been a wooden roller coaster, going 95.7 mph, with a hill that flips your stomach & makes ya barf on the guy behind you, right before sending you into a bumpy corkscrew that shouldn't even exist on a wood coaster. And your seat belt is broken, oh by the way. And when you get off, you feel sick, giddy & frothing at the mouth to do it again. Silly, silly, silly. But we've all been there, right?

We've had drama (ala 3 teen girls), a few kids who want to "go home", or "go to Mars", or go "anywhere but here". We've had heart to hearts, tears & a bit more yelling then we'd like. There have been major rules broken, a few tests of resolve & commitment & consequences. And it's only been a month. I now have a bit more sympathy for the women I judged as "evil, ungrateful, bitchy step-moms". I now understand they may have it worse then me. I now recognize they may have not had a venting venue, other then the postings that spewed their frustrations. I now see a glimpse of their reality.. I still think there is a better way, hope for my story to end differently.

This is just the beginning, rough as it is. I honestly think at this stage of the game, survival mixed with love & laughter is the goal. Sanity is over-rated, ice cream & rum are not.

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