~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!~
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I've been needing to blog for a while, but haven't been able to organize my thoughts into anything that would be readable or make sense. So I decided to make some lists because that always helps me organize. Here's my pros and cons (as they come to me) of being a part time parent--meaning, kids are with us 50% and over at bio mom's 50% (more or less).
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Rushing through the grocery store, a very loud phone conversation caught my attention. This lady did not care WHO heard her! It reminded me that we are not alone, and there's always a stepparent out there who has it worse than you. This is the part I heard: "That is not what she told us." "I'm telling you all this for YOUR daughter's good. I don't care what she told you. I'll give you the address and you can go see for yourself." "Babe, she doesn't even have a bed to sleep in at that house. I mean, where does she sleep? In the living room where everyone is walking through and doing who knows what? This is YOUR daughter, and she doesn't even have a bed! You need to get on board and feel what I'm feeling for her." I know this is just one side of one side of this family's story, but it makes me sad for all the kids who are neglected because parents are too selfish to provide for them. I'm thankful to have a husband who puts his family's needs and wants way before his own, and I'm thankful the situation at their mother's isn't this bad. They may be dirty and messy, but at least they have a bed.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
I am flattered to have Heather from Life of a Traveling Navy Wife nominate my blog for the Liebster award. I'm going to copy the details from her post, and then get to my questions:
For those who don't speak German, Liebster means sweet, kind, nice, endearing, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, welcome. You receive the award because someone thinks that highly of you - and you pass it forward to other bloggers who inspire you to feel that way about them. The Rules of the Liebster Award •Each person must post 11 things about themselves by answering the questions that the nominator has set for you. •Create 11 questions for the people you’ve nominated to answer. •Choose 11 people (with less than 200 followers) and link to them in your post. •Go to their page and let them know (or contact them through social media). •No tag backs!1. What question do you hate to answer? "Do you have kids?" is never fun if the person asking is someone who is in some way affiliated with the kids' school, extra-curricular activities, or who may some day meet "the other mom" and realize that I was actually JUST the "step". I will answer "yes" to this question with no hesitation when we are vacationing somewhere or talking to strangers that will in no way ever figure out that I'm not "bio mom". Otherwise, I feel the need to say, "Yes, I have two girls. Well, actually they're my stepdaughters." And then I just love watching the facial expressions as the person tries to come up with some kind of positive response. 2. If happiness were the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich? This is hard to narrow down! I will go with baking. I love to bake goodies, cookies, brownies, bars, cakes, and pies! I love trying new recipes and adding my own twist. 3. How did you choose the title of your blog? I wanted to be very clear what my blog would be about. I had a blog several years ago that was just about anything and everything. This time around, I needed an outlet for all my new and mixed up feelings about being "stepmom", and realized very quickly that using my husband as that outlet all the time wasn't very healthy! 4. What is your favorite charity and why? I can't say that I have a favorite. I've donated to Kidd's Kids, which takes terminally ill kids and their families to Disney for a week once a year. I've donated to some others and to local churches and missions. Nothing obvious stands out that I'm passionate about at this point in my life. I guess I need to get on it! 5. Most daring thing you've done in your adult life? At the age of 24, I just packed up my life and moved from South Carolina to San Antonio, knowing only one person out here. Later I learned to SCUBA dive, and dove to a depth of about 100 feet with the largest ocean animal--whale sharks! Which seems more daring? 6. What was the best meal you've ever had? It was without a doubt a meal in Cozumel, MX. We were exploring the island, and came across this place called "Alberto's" right on the beach. It was just a little shack with tables and chairs set up in the sand, but advertised "the best lobster tail anywhere"... And it totally WAS! It was so delicious. I don't even remember what came with the lobster, but I've never had it that good anywhere else since. 7. Craziest thing in your refrigerator right now? Bottles of my husband's home-brewed beer, which endearingly enough, have a picture of my face pasted all over the labels!! (Hope you caught that sarcasm) =) 8. What one book would you recommend to your readers? I have a thing for self-analyzation books, and The Five Love Languages completely changed the way I viewed myself, my relationships, others, and taught me how to love and be loved. 9. Road trip or airplane? Definitely road trip! I have to fly a lot to get where we're going, but I hate it. I'm not scared or nervous about actually flying. I detest the process of being pushed around and told what you can and cannot do, and being groped up and felt down at security, and changes to your schedule that are beyond your control... ugh.. I could go on for days about bad airport experiences. 10. Sweet or salty? Easy one--SWEET!!! A million times over. 11. What is your favorite indulgence? Deluxe spa pedicures. LOVE them, but I don't get to pamper myself too often. Thanks for the great questions! They definitely made me stop and think. I need to read up on my favorite blogs and find out who hasn't been nominated yet before I nominate 11 more. Thanks again for this opportunity Heather. Happy Friday all!
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
I'm admitting right up front that I have NOT researched this at all yet. I'm just putting my thoughts out there, and will research next! I know that's backwards, but I don't want all my reading on the subject to cloud my original thoughts. I had never noticed or thought of Jane as forgetful before. But this past week, there were three MAJOR incidents that honestly really worry me. My husband thinks it has something to do with different "levels of brain alertness" with ADHD, and that while in one level of alertness, she forgets what happened while in other levels.... if you follow! My question is why is this "symptom" just now manifesting itself? She's had ADHD forever, and has always been disorganized and forgets to finish things. But this seems different to me. She is now suddenly forgetting entire conversations and interactions. (For those of you who haven't read before, Jane is my 12-year-old daughter with moderate, but well-controlled ADHD). Here are the three incidents:
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
I have so much in my heart and head right now that I just need to get out. This will probably be the most random, unorganized post you've ever read because I'm just sorting through my thoughts as I type them! The summer is going pretty well so far. We are always so busy in June. We have my husband's birthday and Father's Day, my birthday, and our anniversary to celebrate. (Let's not talk about how much weight I put on this month after all those treats!) The girls have been with me most of June so far, but will be away most of July at camps and vacation with their mom. They have been doing really well with their behavior They are NOT nice to each other, but the amount of rudeness and mean comments to each other seems to be decreasing. I'm happy if they are just neutral. I don't force them to be kind, but I don't tolerate rudeness. We have to start somewhere! Maybe once they're in their 30's, they'll finally be friends! If you've read my other posts, you know we're working with Jane on what's appropriate for her age, and what is too "adult-ish". We thought her mom was on-board and supportive with this, but Jane came over the other day with an adult women's magazine, and said her mom gave it to her so she could look at the pictures of stylish clothes. Well, I don't know how stuck in the sand bio-mom's head is, but I don't know a single 12-year old girl who would not read the articles about "How to spice up your sex life" and "10 ways to make your man find you irresistible" and so on. Unbelievable!! Why would she let her have that magazine? Then we also hear from Kate that Jane is allowed to watch the TV show Friends at her mom's house, which has tons of sex scenes and conversations in it. I don't want to HIDE sex from her and make it some big mystery that she's not allowed to know about, but at the same time, I don't want to FEED it to her all the time and give her access to all kinds of details she shouldn't know yet.
Everything else filling up my thoughts isn't related to being "stepmom" so I'll spare you all! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
It's so frustrating when we try to set standards and boundaries for her here, and then there is no support at her other house. Her mom tries so hard to be a friend instead of a parent. It is also very hard to try to explain to her that we don't think she is old enough for things that her mom allows, without sounding negative about her mother.Then Kate broke my heart last night and today saying she didn't want to go back to her mother's house. She wanted to stay with me. She curled up in the back seat in their driveway and said if they didn't see her, she didn't have to get out. Could I just take her back to our house. It made me so sad, because of course I would LOVE to take her home with me!! She had a bad dream about our pet Lab dying and was sobbing uncontrollably all morning, which made it even harder to make her leave. =( My mom came to visit for a few days, and it was the first time the girls have really been able to spend time with her and get to know each other a little bit. It felt good to watch them just accept her for who she is and want to learn about her, and talk and play together. The girls loved hearing stories about how I behaved as a child and finding out why I'm such a "perfectionist" about things.
Everything else filling up my thoughts isn't related to being "stepmom" so I'll spare you all! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Monday, May 5, 2014
Mother's Day is around the corner, and I know that makes most stepmom's feel awkward and anxious. I know my first couple years at this were exactly that. I remember all those Mother's Days growing up in church and they would have all these different ladies come forward for a rose if they were the youngest mom or oldest mom or mom with the most kids or mom with the most generations alive, et cetera... I think about that now and feel bad for all the stepmoms who have been left out and made to feel unimportant or insignificant for all those years. I've been playing the role of Stepmom for about 4 years now, but this is my first officially married "Mrs. B" Mother's day. The first two years, my husband and kids didn't even give me a second thought on this day, which is perfectly logical because after all, we weren't even engaged yet, and I have no kids of my own. The day was all about his mom and their mom and my mom, and that's it. To be honest though, the second year, I felt a bit slighted. I mean, I had already quit my job to stay home and play Mom. I took over nanny, maid, and cooking duties. I ran all errands, attended all school functions, shopped for their clothes, fixed hair, et cetera... so I totally felt like a mom already, and was hoping that maybe one of them would think of me in that way and do something to recognize me as a "Mom." But the day came and went with just my inward disappointment, but knowing better than to say anything. Last year, I was a month away from officially becoming Stepmom, and I have to say, my husband and kids did better. He bought me a card "from them" and let them sign their names.... (I was a little disappointed they weren't able to write me a personal note, but hey, at least it was something!). Jane texted me first thing in the morning "Happy Mother's Day! I love you!" which was very sweet, and Kate made me a craft at school and then called me and left a sweet message from her mom's phone later in the afternoon. So I was on cloud 9 just to know they actually think of ME on mother's day! There were times in the beginning of J and I's relationship that I would never have thought that possible. I will never have them with me on Mother's Day, but we can always celebrate the weekend before or after. It is enough to know that they think of me as Mom in some small ways, and that I'm able to have a little corner of their lives where I can nurture, help, love, and mother them in my own way. And to tell you the truth, it's almost a more relaxing treat to enjoy the weekend without having to do any of those Mom chores...so no pity parties here! Here's some good articles for any struggling stepmoms out there: Tips for Being a Stepmother on Mother's Day What's a Stepmom to Do? The Plight of Stepmoms on Mother's Day
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Year 2014 is proving to be a constant overwhelming struggle with Jane. Two weeks into the year, she received the "gift of womanhood" (if you know what I mean), and it has been straight downhill from there. She has been guilty of so much deceit, lies, sneakiness, rudeness, disrespect, bad attitudes--I mean, you name it, she's probably done it. She has been "in trouble" practically the whole year. The latest offense was finding her chatting online in a game with some boy and saying "I love you"--all of which had been strictly against clearly given rules. All four of us parents in this blended family situation have had to come together so many times lately and discuss how to best help her learn. That may be the ONLY thing helping Jane right now, is that she is finally seeing the four of us as a united front, all backing each other up, instead of knowing she can get away with this or that with one or the other. It's been rough. You hate to have to discipline your child so much, but you fear what may happen if you just let it go. Then you worry about her becoming depressed, down on herself, and emotionally locked out, and what damage that could cause. Every time we reward her for doing something praiseworthy, we find something the very next day that needs punished. I know I shouldn't stress over labels, but I'm starting to feel that she's a "troubled" child, because nothing we do seems to make a difference or impact on her. We've tried every sort of method and approach imaginable, and she just doesn't respond. This parenting thing is tough! I really, really hope that she doesn't behave like this for the next seven years. I don't think I can handle fighting her will and discovering her deceitfulness that much longer. Maybe she's just getting it out early, and the teen years will be a breeze!! Ha, who am I kidding? But one can hope.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Just finished writing Jane's second lecture letter. I'm so disappointed, and angry, and frustrated all at once. We caught her being very deceitful and dishonest about something which caused her mom and us to waste over 1,000 dollars. She is in such hot water. I just get so tired of ALWAYS punishing! It's never-ending. As soon as one punishment is done, she does something so royally stupid and senseless to get another one. She hurt all of us so badly this time. Her mom and I were crying on the phone together--that's how bad it was. Ugh. Just want to give up.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I chose to marry a man with kids. I chose to get very involved in their lives and love them like my own. Eventually, I chose to quit my job and work part-time from home so I could be even MORE involved and not leave their training up to a nanny. Some might call these choices reckless and dumb--trading a career for a non-thanks job of being with kids that aren't even my own. But they were my choices, and I have never regretted them. Lately, the work I do from home has been super slow, and I've been on the look-out for the perfect part-time 9-2 job, so I can still do everything I do and make a little cash on the side. Well, I finally found some promising-looking job ads yesterday, and set up interviews. Then I was hit with a ton of bricks in the middle of the night, and sat straight up in bed with one thought: SUMMER. I can't go back to work. Full time camps for the girls all summer would cost more than I would make working 25 or so hours a week. We don't have family in town to stay with them. So this morning I had to cancel the interviews. I was feeling a bit depressed to know that even if I wanted to go back to work, I can't. I've locked myself down at this point. I started thinking of all the things I would have to take time off for already if I did get a job--their dentist appointments, early release days, awards programs, art shows, taking them to their grandparents, dance recitals, voice recitals.... the list goes on. Reality has hit. I made my choice, and I can't go back. I'm stuck until these kids are mature enough to stay at home for a few hours on their own. I'm not complaining. There are tons of women out there who would kill to be able to stay home all day. I know that. It's just that the permanency of those choices I made a few years ago is just sinking in for me now. I don't stay home for me. I like working. I stay home for them. I hope one day when they make tough choices to put their kids first, they will remember some of the things that we did to put them first.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Spring Break time--woo-hoo! Well, except for one little thing...I don't have my kids with me. It seems strange to be out and about in the stores seeing all the moms with their kids, and not having mine. I feel somehow inferior or "bad mom" to be out by myself when all the other ladies are spending time with little ones this week. I'm driving the "mom car" around and shopping in the kids' departments, but not holding on to any little hands while crossing through the parking lots. It makes me miss them. I've kept myself really busy so far--cleaning out all the closets, putting winter clothes away, making lists of what we need for summer, taking outgrown clothes to resale shops, and planning summer camps and trips with my hubby. There's still five days left to go before they are back with us though. That seems like forever! Sometimes after they've been gone for long periods of time like this, Kate will say "Oh yeah, this is what dad's house looks like!" It kinda hurts to hear that. Jane promises to call and text, but of course, out of sight, out of mind... and she forgets and makes up excuses later. It's okay--I don't really blame an 11 year old for not texting her parents all the time, but I hope they miss us at least a little. We just made lots of progress with Jane last week in regard to her behavior. Over the weekend, she completed three workbooks that I found at B&N. One was designed for kids about her age in controlling ADHD, and it had a lot of helpful quizzes and sections for her to complete. The second book was about getting along with others which had lots of good tips for sibling rivalry and controlling emotions. The third book was by American Girl about girls understanding their family, and it discussed stepparents, conflict resolution, and ways to learn to accept your family and get along. I feel like it was perfect timing for these books, and the messages really sank in. I just pray all that progress isn't lost and/or forgotten while she's at her mother's all this time. I think I'll do yard work the next few days... that should really keep me busy! Happy Spring everyone!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Jane has been exhibiting some strange behavior lately. I wrote last week about her "emotional ups and downs", but now it is more than just emotions. She is acting out. Her dad and I have both separately and together sat her down in the past and talked about ADHD, what it does to her brain, how to recognize behaviors resulting from it, learning to control herself, etc. This week however, she is just outright out of control, and I can't get through to her. She has outbursts of all these strange noises, will talk in different indiscernible voices, squeal, suddenly scream for no reason, bark like a dog, and she doesn't even know she is consciously doing these things. I don't know if she is just feigning innocence, in denial, or honestly doesn't know, but she looked at me this morning and said "What outbursts? I haven't made any sounds." It is very disheartening to sit by and watch her act like this, because I thought she had made so much progress and was well beyond this point. I started thinking it could be a self-defense mechanism, a sign of something else going on, but I don't know anything going on that could be bothering her. Maybe there is some kind of trouble at her mother's house. What do I do? Should she get "in trouble" for having a condition she didn't choose? Should she be scolded because she is old enough to control herself better? Do we just let her be, and see if she stops behaving this way soon? Poor Kate had to calmly ask her 4 times on the way to school to "Please keep your hands to yourself, Jane" because she keep randomly reaching over and grabbing her. Three teachers on her last report card wrote comments about her being impulsive, talking disruptively, and not participating well in class. She is on the highest dose of medication allowed for her size, and it has always worked well until the last few weeks. I'm at my wit's end, but here is what I constantly remind myself: 1. LOVE her, not her behavior, and SHOW her you love her. 2. Don't make her feel bad about herself. When correcting, tell her she is choosing to let the ADHD control her, instead of her controlling it. 3. Be positive. You CAN do this. Show her how happy everyone is around her when she is behaving with self-control. 4. Make yourself available and open if she finally decides to share something personal, or let her defenses down and become vulnerable. Watch for signs of the root problems that is causing this sudden change in behavior.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I know I do it. I know all women to a certain degree go through it. Jane is now caught up in it: The emotional roller-coaster of womanhood. Ughh. It's bad enough just handling my own hormones. Now she is giving me a run for my money on who can be the moodiest woman in the house! I just can't wait until Kate joins us.... j/k! I've been pushing her a little to open up and talk more instead of keeping her face buried in a book or ipad screen all the time. I pushed a little too hard and made her cry. Then I started crying. Then we were a blubbering mess together for no apparent reason. It's ridiculous. So then, she went off and ignored me at school one afternoon and wouldn't look my way or even acknowledge that she knew me. It hurt pretty bad, so J talked to her, and she hugged me real tight and said she was sorry and didn't mean it, and we started crying again. Later that night, she said I was basically a nanny, which hurt my feelings again, so the next morning she called me "mom" to make it better. It's just up and down, up and down... I don't know if I can handle teen girls for 10 more years!
Monday, February 10, 2014
Our kids have had a lot of activities lately that have required a lot of time on our part. Jane had a Greek Festival at school, and had to wear a homemade Greek toga. Parents had to volunteer to go help out with the Greek Olympic races between the students. She didn't get any help from her mom for her costume, but instead put the entire responsibility on my shoulders the night before. So I did what I had to--made the costume and showed up to help with the games. Her mother never showed up. Kate had a cowboy breakfast at school to celebrate the Rodeo coming to town. It was to be a family affair, and everyone ordered breakfast tacos in advance. Her mom and stepdad placed an order and promised to be there. I waited and waited with her as she kept looking around, wondering where her mom was. Her mother never showed up. Jane had a middle school Neon Nights Glow party, and needed to go shopping for something fluorescent. Her mother promised to take her. It was 2 days before, and Jane still hadn't been shopping. So I finally had to take her shopping myself and took her to the party and chatted with other parents. Her mother never showed up. Kate signed up for basketball this season. She got a basketball goal as a birthday present back in November. I've practiced with her for hours and hours, teaching her the rules of the game, shooting skills, offense and defense, technique--everything--to help her be the best player she can be. So this last game, her mother showed up 30 minutes late. Kate was doing a great job on defense against an all boys team. At the end of the game, the stepdad walks over to my husband and says, "Did you see Kate guarding that player so well? Yeah, that was totally [bio mom's name]'s doing. She told her to do that!" Wow! Really? She never played basketball with Kate, she shows up late, but she gets all the credit. Later, when the girls were out of earshot, J asked me how I liked that comment the stepdad made. He knew it would push my buttons. I just smiled and said, "Yeah, that's what Stepmom is all about."
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
I've noticed Jane demonstrating a new attitude lately that really gets under my skin--the whole "If I want it, I will have it" mentality. Now if you are grown and have worked to be able to provide yourself with everything you want, kudos to you. But an 11 year old--not so much. Examples: "I need heart socks and headbands and earrings to wear every day for February. Think you can make that happen?" "You have to do my nails with blah blah color and blah blah pattern for my school dance Friday." "Uh, no....I'm not wearing this homemade toga for Greekfest (that you worked all day on and I forgot to tell you about until the day before.) You need to go to Party City and get me a real costume." Yes, she is a very privileged child and has always received pretty much everything she wants. The difference is that now she is starting to demand it, and believes she is entitled to her every whim. I know she's a little old to start breaking her of this now, but what's been done in the past is past. We've got to address this attitude now. And it is very hard in a stepfamily to not give our child what they want, because in the back of our heads, we know if we say "No", they will just go demand it of their other set of parents. That won't teach them any lesson at all. Several times Jane has asked for something, and I have purchased whatever it is, and saved it for birthday, Christmas, Valentine's...whatever is next, only to find she went ahead and already got it out of her mom. So we have to approach this carefully. Maybe we should let her know she is going to get it if... and put conditions or chores on as a way of earning it instead of just being handed everything on a silver platter. She still may run to her mom for it, but maybe there will be less chance of that if she knows we are planning on it once she has earned it. I don't know. How do you other stepfamilies handle this entitlement attitude?
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
A fellow blogger was asking, "What is 'Mother'?" Here was my response: As a girl, "Mother" was always there, available to listen even when I wouldn't talk, a constant source of instruction, a motivation to do better, an example of selfLESSness, hard-working, forgiving of all manner of injustices and hurts, a tough-love, no-nonsense authoritarian, and a sacrificial, loving friend. As a step-mom now, I strive to be a great "Mother" also. However, it is without the reciprocated feelings from the children, without the attachment, the security of forever love, the acknowledgment, respect, or gratitude. Stripping a mother of these attributes feels somewhat like being a family planner, housekeeper, cook, and nanny all in one. There are rewards with stepchildren nonetheless--found in moments--however fleeting they may be. A moment when you feel you made a "connection"; a moment when they need you; a moment when they actually accept your help; a moment when they repeat something you said several weeks ago, and you realize they actually listen to you...sometimes. Moments like these make the step-mom position worth it. As a wife observing the mother of my husband's kids, the meaning of "Mother" completely changes for me. It takes on an ugly side of selfishness, manipulation, laziness, and neglect that breaks my heart.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
This article was being passed around on FB this week, and I really think we should all take a few minutes to read it: What Really Happens When We Give Kids Everything They Want I think there is even greater danger in blended families of the problems mentioned in this article because in addition to the kids being pressured by their peers, we parents are pressured by the other set of parents. "Well, if her mom buys her $80 Sperry's, then I better go get her a pair too so she won't like her mom more than me." This kind of insecure reasoning and bending over backwards to make sure we get our kids everything they want, and do a better job than their other parents is very destructive to building character in the kids' lives. I was reminded of that this Christmas, when Jane came over wearing a new present from her mom--a hoodie from Victoria's Secret Pink. Sure, it was innocent enough with just the word "Pink" and a picture of the dog, but J and I have a major problem with it. We don't want our 11 year old daughter wearing a brand of clothes that is all about sex. We don't want men or boys looking at her and thinking "Victoria's Secret" at 11. How do we tell her? I got two words out of my mouth, and she immediately went to defense mode--"Isabella and Becca and Casey all wear it." It's tough, but we have to stick to boundaries even if it makes us the "mean" ones, or if it worries us that they will resent us, and want to be around the parent that lets them do whatever they want. That's where I get discouraged and want to give up so many times. I put so much energy into teaching, teaching, teaching, but then for 50% of their lives, the lessons are either opposite, or just not reinforced at all. So I ask myself time and time again, "What is the point?" Why do all this teaching and character-building, risking their dislike, when it's not going anywhere because of lack of reinforcement? Amy I wasting my time? Should I just be fun and let whatever chaos of the day rule the home, since that is what happens at their mom's? No, I don't think so. If one or both of them ends up being a better person because of my influence, then it is worth it, and I can go to sleep each night knowing I am doing and have done everything within my power to affect these girls toward as much good as I possibly can. Whether anyone ever realizes it or thanks me doesn't matter.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
What a whirlwind the holidays are! Finally had 2 quiet days to myself to get all the clutter put away and try to get back to some form of normalcy. It seems strange after having a full house for 9 straight days. I was determined this year not to get caught up in the "who has the girls when" drama. I let my husband handle it, as it should be, and did not over-react to anything he told me about the decisions. It actually went surprisingly smoothly, for the first Christmas in 5 years. There was no drama on either side, and everyone followed the pre-arranged calendar. Too good to be true? Yes. The drama came this year the first day back at school (yesterday). The bio mom started blowing up my husband's phone wanting the girls for MLK day (which is ours) and other odd random requests because she "misses them". Okay, sounds innocent enough, but here's the background: On her 8-day allotment of Christmas vacation with them, she never took 1 day off work, except to leave with her friends on a trip. The girls stayed with her in-laws the whole time. And now, she wants our time.... C'mon lady! Why didn't you use the 8 days you were given? Geeeezzzzz! I will never understand. Enough about her. Let's talk about me! I had two goals for the New Year: 1. Don't let my husband's needs take second place to the girls. In other words, give him my best attention and love, and give the girls what is left over, not the other way around. He is my number one priority at the end of the day. 2. Stop talking at the girls and talk to them. Don't get frustrated and irritated so easily that I am constantly correcting or getting onto them 24/7. Let them make mistakes. Let them be kids. Let them learn on their own sometimes. Relax and stop expecting perfection from imperfect people. Good ones, right? Well, let me tell you how that went. Day 2: Fail/Fail, to the extend of locking myself in the room and crying because I couldn't stop failing, especially on number 2! The girls were with me at home, and after so much time around each other, all they did was fight! They can't play together for 2 seconds without arguing over something, insulting each other, or being bullies. I could not keep myself from being frustrated. I had to be right with them constantly playing "referee" to maintain any kind of peace. Yeah, I like spending time with them, but not just to solve arguments. They are old enough to entertain themselves without a babysitter. So maybe my goal should be changed to "Go 10 minutes without yelling at them." At least that one is a little more achievable. I'm hoping with school back in, they will be a little nicer and easier to handle since they are separated all day! On a side note, does anyone have a suggestion for a good book on sibling rivalry, especially relating to sisters? I may look into one that the three of us can read all together.