~Welcome to my personal story as a first time wife and stepmom. I use this space to share real life happenings in a blended family, funny stories, my personal frustrations, failures, and occasional victories as I journey through this life with two beautiful and challenging stepdaughters. Thanks for reading, and I hope you find something to help you have a better day!~

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back in the groove...this time officially as a "parent"

Wow, what a summer! I haven't written in so long, because everything got crazy there in May with all the end of school year activities and recitals, and then of course June was our big wedding day. Summer got away from us so fast, and now we are back in another school year with a second and sixth grader!

Our wedding was beautiful. The girls walked their daddy down the aisle--it was so precious. They were both a big part of our day and we danced the night away together.

I had a great summer with the girls. They stayed home with me quite a bit in between camps. I prepared some lessons on character traits. So for about 30 minutes each day, we would sit down, learn a new trait, and review the old ones. We learned about Gratitude, Kindness, Diligence, Selflessness, Honesty, Patience, Self-control, Respect, and Obedience. We discussed the definitions of each, examples, benefits of possessing that trait, and the opposites of each. It really went over much better than I expected. I've never done anything like that before, and I thought they might just hate it. Jane ate it up...she loves learning things like this, loves chapel time at school, and sacred studies. Kate participated well, but it was a struggle to hold her attention at times and get her to remember definitions. So all summer long I was watching for them to show these traits themselves, and would write down their name each time they were "caught" showing good character traits. Then, they got treats on the last day of summer for how many times their names were written down. It was really fun, and Jane is already asking if we can do it again next summer. I have to admit, it felt like we were bonding even closer during those times, and it helped the girls get along better, because they wanted to have their names written down.

One really special thing that happened was Jane sent J and I a letter from camp one week, and addressed it "Dad and Mom". That was the first time she has referred to me as Mom. I loved it! Well, now they are back at school and we officially have a middle schooler! Scary. She has started wearing a little makeup to school, and cares about her appearance more and more. Their school has these little "dances" every few months, and it's really just a time for the kids to get together and have snacks in a completely safe, chaperoned atmosphere. Jane is excited and can't wait to get all dressed up for them.

Since school has started, I've been really bothered by the seeming lack of care they are receiving at their mother's house. It is actually breaking my heart. I picked them up on a Wednesday after school, and had last seen them when I dropped them off Monday at school. Both were wearing the exact same uniforms and undergarments! As I was picking up their clothes after showers that evening, I asked why they hadn't changed panties, and why they were wearing dirty clothes. They really didn't have an answer for me. Well, then this week when I picked them up, Kate's uniform dress was filthy and she didn't have any playground shorts on with it. So I asked again, and she told me she wore that dress 3 days in a row, and couldn't find any clean shorts to wear. So I asked if she could have her mom or grandma help her set out clothes the night before like we do, and she said "Mom's always too tired. She just sits on the couch and won't do anything because she's tired. Mary (the step-grandma) won't help me get ready in the mornings because she's too rushed and busy with Jack (their baby half-brother)." It killed me to hear that! I just held her and said "Oh Kate, I wish I could take care of you every morning. I know it's not your fault your clothes are all dirty. I just wish I could help." So now after this happening two weeks in a row, I'm really wondering if I should say something to the mother. I really, really want to, but I know she will probably take it wrong coming from me. J is worried about it too. He may be convinced to say something if it keeps happening. It's just so sad. Jane's school picture day is again on a day she's coming from her mother's, and she's really upset because no one will help fix her hair or make her look special for picture day. Kate's pictures have been on our days the last few years, and I always curl her hair and let her wear lip gloss, and special things like that. It just doesn't seem fair sometimes to only have them part-time! Other times, the break from kids is a God-send.... So I'm torn, but just have to keep loving and doing what I can.

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