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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