Monthly Archives: February 2009

Happy Birthday Imani

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Imani turns 5 tomorrow.  Since Ian’s birthday in September , she has been asking when her birthday is coming.  I informed her that it was five months away.  Once a week Imani inquired about how much time she had until her birthday.  Well it’s finally here.

My husband and I asked her what theme she wanted for her birthday party.  She promptly told me that she wanted Spongebob.  Spongebob?  I asked again just to make sure Spongebob is what she said.  Yep, Spongebob!  I tried to direct her attention to Dora The Explora or even Tinkerbell.  Nope, she wants Spongebob so Spongebob it is. 

I was quite bummed.  Not that I dislike Spongebob but I was looking forward to a girlie girl party.  Ian’s party was a combination of Spiderman and Transformers.  Ian’s party went over well.  In September it was still pretty warm outside.  I was thrilled with the weather because that meant the children were outside most of the party.

Well, this is February and  it snowed this week.  I was trying to find out what to do for an insde party.  I went online and found some good idea’s on Spongebob themed parties.  Of course, most of the ideas were geared toward outdoor water activities.  So I had to improvise. 

Look for my next post on how the party turned out!

Something to Think About

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It is my hope that all you stepmom readers will learn something from my experience of losing both my husband and stepsons.  Some stepmoms may wonder why they should try to get along with the mother of the kids.  Why shouldn’t you is what I want to know?  I realize that some mothers are difficult to endure.  Some  are hostile, weird, crazy, jealous, insensitive, manipulative, beastly, petty—fill in the blank.  Eliza was all that and then some!  You might be thinking, Well you don’t know my husband’s ex!  While I might not know her personally, I do know the archetype.

Even though I know I tried my very best to smooth things over between she and I (in the last two years), she didn’t.  I could only control myself, and rightly focused on changing my attitude about her instead of trying to force  her to be different.

Therefore, I want to make sure that you are doing everything on your end to be peacable.  Please pick and choose your battles and think of your situation with the end in mind.  We all know that stepparents have no legal rights to their stepchildren.  Your husband is truly that connecting force between you two.  Unless, you have a stable relationship with the mother, that is (especially in the event of death and/or the children are not of age).  No him or her=no stepchildren.  You can’t force/demand/court order the biological parent to allow you to interact with their kids.   

As you see in my case, it is to your benefit to get along with the mother of the children.  I truly wish that Eliza would have honored my role and feelings.  There is no compelling reason that Nicholas and I should not have the boys in our lives.  It still hurts that she is punishing us in this manner.

If you are giving it the best that you’ve got, I heartily encourage you to keep up the good work!  Life offers few fairy tale endings and your efforts alone may not produce the desired outcome.  But speaking from experience, you won’t regret trying.

I do, however, wish that I would have had this attitude from the very inception.  While I wasn’t the one who started the fires and mostly ignored her combustive behavior, I wouldn’t have spit on her if she was on fire (as the old saying goes)!  I felt like it wasn’t my “job” to appease her (or get along with her) in any manner.  Afterall, it was her who was causing trouble, being difficult, and behaving in a bellicose manner!

So if you are holding onto grudges, insecurites, myths about the ex, things your stepchildren told you she said,  past hurts, or any other minute issues (and if it’s not life or death—IT IS SMALL!) stop while you still have time to regroup, reflect, and reposition yourself.  Like it or not, she will always be their mother.  You can’t “wish” her away or pretend she doesn’t exist.  Figure out exactly what you want your blended family life to be and go for it.  Wake up and change directions while you still can.  Most anything is possible because everyday is a new day.  Even if you can’t have peace with her because of her relunctance (or disinterest) you can have it within for trying.

With that being said,  if you still can’t think of any reason under the sun as to why it would be a good idea to be on stable ground with your husband’s ex; think about your stepchild(ren) and your life without them in it.

The Simple Life

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I have always been a simple person.  And I’m finding that with each passing year that I am becoming increasing more so.  I don’t believe in having too much of anything.  I only want enough to get by. 

We live in a simple house with simple decor.  I drive a simple car (at least by my standards). 

I save for what I want.

I don’t like to accumulate things.  I am the type of person that if I have an excess of something, you better believe  it will be given away.  My motto is “if I”m not using it, someone else should.”  There is no room in my heart to be wasteful.  My sister always says, “Can I ever leave the way I came?!, as she carries out armfuls of things after visiting me.

It’s not that I don’t like nice things because I do. 

Lately I have been more deliberate about what I buy.  One reason being is that I dislike cluttering my purse with receipts!  These little pieces of paper really help curtail my spending.

I also like being creative.  I want to try to find ways to refurbish, recreate, renew, or reuse what I already have.

I’d love to hear some of the tips that you all use to help keep life simple.

Mission Accomplished!

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All scripture is given by inspiration from God, and is profitable  for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. ~2 Timothy 3:16

Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. ~Matthew 22:29

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. ~Romans 15:4

I was so excited last night when I finished reading the last book in the New Testament.  I loved reading about the Good Shepherd!  I am eager to start on the Old Testament next.  I have planned it to where I will be finished by the end of the year, if not sooner.  When I was younger I started reading the Bible but it was too tedious and I quit.  However, now I am older and wiser and determined to read the good book in its entirety.

I plan to use my deeper knowledge of the Bible to encourage others.  My goal is to have a  scripture on my tongue for any situation.   

The life and words of Jesus moved me.  I felt truimphant, repentant, hopeful,  humbled, but most of all uplifted.  I wish I could have met him!  I am looking forward to the Son shining again!

My Desk

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Just look at my desk!  I can’t  function amidst such chaos and disorder!!!  Contents include:

Before

Before

Laptop
The Poisonwood Bible (on top of my grade book)
Things Fall Apart (audio and book)
a purple pen for grading (red seems so accusatory and caustic)
SpringBoard text
Kleenex
a notepad
Letter from Jazmine’s mom
Post-it Notes
a highlighter and a black pen
Scholarship/Programs Update for January 2009
a thank you letter to a generous donor
the requisite apple
a family portrait (of one of my student’s family)
speakers for the laptop
stapler
paper clip holder
Pen caddy
Reese’s Cup (for motivation)

After
After

Now I can work!

A Leap of Faith

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I was offered the position at my alma mater which boasts an all-school magnet program in the arts and humanties.  As a student I was in both magnets and loved my high school.  One of the classes I am slated to teach is called “Novels” and I will be allowed to design my own curriculum for this particular class!

I have mixed emotions.  It will be hard to leave the dsyfunctional place I am currently at.  It is an evil I know.  At least four of my current colleagues are going with me, so I am not completely nostalgic about leaving.  But I am a little afraid and nervous to be in a new environment with a new boss and a new set of expectations.  I hope I am not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Wish me luck!

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

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Jazmine’s mom wrote on Friday and of course, she failed to mention anything regarding her extended stay!  She did write that the facility was currently on lockdown mode, and out of boredom, she decided to write.  I have no idea what prompted me to call and verify this information but I did.  The prison has not been on lockdown since last summer when an offender escaped. 

I, too noticed that Jazmine’s mom was in a different dorm since she had last written a month ago.  I already knew the answer before I made the inquiry, but I wanted to be sure.  The prison operator confirmed that Jazmine’s mom and Eliza were infact in the same dorm when she gave me Eliza’s  location!  I knew Eliza’s dorm number by heart due to writing her so often.  I was hoping that Eliza had been moved, but no, they are in the same living quarters!

If they had a prior conflict I can’t understand why the facility would place them in the same area.  Each room contains 16 bunk beds so that means they are in close proximity to one another.  Poor Jazmine’s mom!  The devil sure has a sense of humor as my friend Stacy pointed out.  However, I feel confident that God will have the last laugh!  I don’t know what could, but I pray that something good comes out of them being together.

Gossip Girl

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I’ve written about this particular “friend” before and her burning need to gossip.  Tasha is known for being a busybody.  She attended the same junior high as both my husband and Eliza.  He said she was the same way then, too.  He felt she was a person that I needed to feed with a long handled spoon. 

In a way I don’t want to cut her off because she does have good qualities.  But here lately, her bad qualities are overwhelming her good ones.  For starters she viewed attending the funeral as a social event–a reunion of sorts.  Tasha stated that she wanted to be “cute” for the service as she never knew who would be there!  On the otherhand, she was very supportive in the aftermath of his death (she was the one in the photo with me on the post Be There).  Not to mention she has a wicked sense of humor and a fair sense of fashion.  When she is not being controlled by the green-eyed monster, she gives good advice and is a great listener.

I try to ignore her malignancy as much as possible.  When she gets to gabbing about others I change the subject or remain quiet.  I wish she would grow up.  However, I know Tasha is suffering from insecurity.   It makes her feel superior for a little while when she is slandering others.  Yet she hates when others do the same to her.  Tasha was complaining about a woman we both know spreading rumors about her!  I wanted to point out that it hurts when the shoe is on the other foot, but she can’t accept constuctive criticism.

She is highly competitive with all of her friends (not just me because I have heard all about them as I’m sure they have heard all about me!) and is very consumed by people who have “more” than her.  I rarely tell her about my accomplishments because I know that she can’t handle hearing such news. 

One day I was combing Jazmine’s hair when she called.  When she inquired about what I was doing, she responded Don’t you mean brushing?!  It was a snide comment that I didn’t play into.  No, I’m combing it.  Her hair has grown quite a bit since the last time you saw her, I patiently explained.  Sometimes she amuses me with her lack of decorum!

She also gets pretty annoyed with me because I do not divulge every detail of my life.  She is very free in her speech and talks about many things including her sex (blush!) life.  I’m not that way with any of my friends!  She often says I hate when people act like they can’t share details.  I know that the “people” she is referring to means me because she thinks that I am too secretive.  But I am very careful about what I say to her knowing that everyone in town would be privvy to the information a few hours later.  I keep the conversation on general terms with her–kids, recipes, shopping, movies, careers–nothing too revealing.

I am pretty good with managing money which I suppose gives her the impression that I have more than I do.  In in my present circumstances she is envious of me!  Who in their right mind would be jealous of a widow?!  She always makes comments that she wishes she could be like me and buy whatever she wants.  When she visits, she surveys the house and starts talking about how she to wants to buy a home and all of the other things she needs to get for her apartment that we already have.  A few times she has even bought her friends with her to show off our house!

I always feel like I am on “display” when she is around.  I can feel her studying and watching my every move.   And she has an opinion about everything!  To be honest I feel sorry for her because she is obviously hurting and unhappy with herself.  But she is too immature to seek another avenue to release her insecurities.  I don’t know how to build her self worth even though I try.  I am not willing to sacrifice my sanity for the sake of  friendship.  But I would like to attempt before ditching her completely.  So how do you help save a friend from this disease of the mouth?

Calling All Pounds

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This post might sound odd considering that most people want to lose and not gain weight.  I am on the other end of the spectrum!  I am not malnourished but any means, but I am petite.  I know genetics play a role in body mass, but some of it is environmental.  I am a notoriously picker eater and often opt out of eating if it is something that I do not like or find visually appealing.  Nor do I like my food to touch!  Also I have been dancing for twenty years which I believe has helped keep me thin.  I can fit sizes between 2-6 depending on the designer. 

Since my husband died I have been struggling to maintain a healthy appetite.  The first week I didn’t eat a single morsel, I only drank teas and juices.  After that I would eat maybe once a day if that.  I was still taking my two Hannah Montana gummy multivitamins but I was still extremely weak, inundated by headaches, irritable, and emotional.  Food was too hard to consume as it brought back a lot memories and I had no desire to do so.  I took no comfort any food because my husband was not there to break bread with me.  And eating was the least of my concerns.

I’ve lost between 10-15 pounds, and if you didn’t know me, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell.  I do not look emaciated, but I am a lot thinner than I used to be.  Lately I have a more conscious effort to eat because I don’t want to make myself sick (or look sick).

I would like to gain 20-30 pounds.  I like seeing fullness in my face and figure; I am 31 not 13!.  In an effort to get my weight back up, below are a few measures I have taken to do this! 

Log It:  I keep track of what I am eating in a small notebook.  This allows me to know how many daily calories I have.  I read that in order to gain a pound, one must consume roughly 3500 calories to gain a single pound and 2000 just to maintain your current weight.  Therefore I try to take in an extra 500 calories per day so that I may gain one pound per week. 

Top It Off: I add topping to foods to grab a few extra calories.  I’ll crown my yogurt with granola, ice-cream with carmel sauce, fries with shredded cheese, ect.

No Skipping:  This is so tempting for me because I don’t build a lot of time in the morning to eat breakfast.  But I try to keep a granola bar or a piece of fruit in my school bag so that I can have something in my stomach.

Small But Mighty:  It is intimidating seeing a lot of food on a plate, so lately I have been trying to eat six small meals a day.  Plus I do a lot of “grazing” in between. 

Keep Snacks in Your Shack:  Eat snacks in between meals.  I prefer healthy ones because they make you feel better over all.  You won’t have to worry about coming “down” from a sugar rush.  This snacks in between meals also provide extra calories.

Give Yourself a Boost–Literally: I drink Boost Plus for an added 360 calories.  Carnation Instant Breakfast is also a good, quick way to get extra calories.

Have It Your Way:  This is very important to do when you have a decreased appetite.  Recently I have sacrificed a well-balanced diet for the sake of food consumption.  I eat whatever I like, when I like.  Luckily for me I like fruits and vegetables!  Sometimes it’s okay to let your taste buds dictate the day.

Hold the Drink: I tend to get “full” from beverages so I combat this by waiting until I have finished eating before drinking.  I used to get the strangest looks at restaurants when I declined ordering a bevearge.  Simply put, the drink becomes my “food” and I am too full to eat.

If you guys have any other tips, I’d love to hear them!