Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm Not a Mom, I Just Play One at My House

I am not a mom, but I have three kids. I do everything a mom does. I cook, clean, help with homework, read bedtime stories, plan vacations, drive kids to school... I'm expected to treat these three children just like they are my own. That is easier said than done.

Balancing work and family is difficult for any mom. For a stepmom it's even more difficult. Compromising for three kids I didn't bring into this world isn't easy. I have to balance work, my relationship with my partner, my relationship with kids who aren't mine, and the relationship or perceived relationship with the kids' mother. Oh, then there is the relationship with my family and his family. It feels a lot like like musical chairs and I am always the one who ends up without a chair.

There is the constant reminder that I am not a mom. He let's it slip, "you don't understand because you don't have kids". The kids sing the mommy song and do the mommy dance when it is time to go back to their mom's house. My family is great, but they don't acknowledge the children's birthdays, which feels like not acknowledging that I have kids.

On the outside I look like a contender for mom of the year. I go to little league games, soccer practice, I leave work early so my partner can coach the boys teams, I cook healthy meals plus a simplified version for the kids to eat, I plan birthday parties and I genuinely am invested in his children. I want to be the best "mom" possible, but sometimes it hurts.

This past Sunday was Mother's Day. For me, this year, it came like a slap in the face. It screamed at me YOU ARE NOT A MOM. My partner was right when he told me I place a lot (he said too much) of significance on things like holidays and birthdays. It's not just mine though, I place significance on everyone on these days. I want everyone in my life to know that they matter. I want to know that I matter.

My partner was wonderful to me on Mother's Day. He celebrated me for being such a wonderful mother figure to his children. He let me know how much he appreciates me and everything I do. Despite all he did for me, I still have an empty spot in my heart. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do I Dare Etsy Again?

Bubble Wands
I've been contemplating re-opening a store on Esty, or maybe I should go with the the free site Storenvy... The real question is do I want to do all that again. It's actually a lot of work to take and then load all the photos, add descriptions and then promote the products. Then there are all the logistics of shipping and actually going to the post office on a regular basis.

If I'm going to do it, this time I need to employ a better system.

Etsy or Storenvy?
Etsy is more well known but Storenvy can actually integrate into my blog so that is probably the smarter option. Storenvy is also free. Etsy always seemed to be charging me for something; posting, selling, having a store...

What to Make/Sell?
Last time I made a ton of different one off items. Each of them took hours to make, photograph and post. In the end I wasn't making enough to make it worth while. I'm currently making some really cool upcycled iPhone, iPad and Kindle cases. They are much quicker to make so I can keep my prices down and not feel like I am ripping myself off. Plus they are standard sizes so I can figure out the prices for shipping and easily ship from home, no weekly trips to the post office.

The kids and I make a few other simple things too, upcycled bubble wands and key chains would be other easy item for the store. The cost to make them is a bit higher but the yield is high too so it would balance out.

I think limiting the products in the store would actually be good for sales too.

Getting Started:
This is actually going to be the most difficult step. I'm busy. I need to create and inventory and photograph it before I even get to the setting up a store part! I think I need to mill it over a bit longer and then set a goal. If I can get some products made in the next month I will be able to come up with a timeline.

I'm excited by the prospect and after putting it all down on "paper" I think I really do want to go for it again!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Achieving Greener Grass

I never in my most random thoughts ever imagined I would be saying this but, I learned something from Justin Bieber today.

I'm not a Bieber fan I don't think I would recognize any of his songs, except the one that we by chance saw him sing about a month ago on Saturday Night Live. During my 4 hour drive home today from visiting my parents the song came on the radio. I recognized it, contemplated changing the channel, but didn't. I glad I kept listening, Justin made me realize something so simple and so true.

The grass ain't always greener on the other side, 
it's green where you water it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Watercolor Strides

Today was my third watercolor class. I am happy to report that I am making progress, in fact, I could probably paint those flowers from my previous post now. I won't though. My teacher is very particular about the order of what we paint. We can only use three colors; cobalt blue, lemon yellow and alizarin crimson (red). Any color variation or additional colors have to be mixed from those three colors. I'm not allowed to make a full pallet of paint colors just yet. I've done a blue study and green plants. Next up is a green study then some sort of red thing. I did sneak a little purple into my plants!

Blue Study
The blue study was one of the first things we did after learning how to add water to paint and use a brush (um... little more basic than I was expecting, but OK). I'm not overly impressed with my blue study but I'm more interested in moving on than perfecting this step. 

The ocean/water study was more interesting. The only part I didn't like was I had no idea what we were doing until we were half way done. I wish the teacher had said something like, "these are going to be waves". It is strange to be following directions not knowing what you are intending to create. 

My Plants (fern, cilantro, rosemary)
The plants were much more fun than the other paintings. We had real plants to paint from. The intention of the assignment was to learn to mix greens. I spent forever on the fern thinking that it sucked up until I was just about finished and it started looking like a plant instead of a blob.

My teachers were telling me how to matte and frame my plant painting. I'm flattered they like it so much but I think I will hold off hanging things on my wall until I paint something really impressive.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Watercolor Class

I saw this cute little watercolor and I though, "I can do that". So I pulled out my paints, bushes, paper and sponges. I put the colors I needed on a palate I took my sponge and wet my paper. I was feeling pretty confident. 30 minutes later I wadded up my 5th attempt. I so can not do that. I have no idea how to paint. I've never really painted anything with watercolors.

I was frustrated. I'm use to figuring anything artsy out myself. Painting apparently takes real technique. Sewing and crafting I somehow manage to fake. Not that I don't know what I'm doing, I just don't usually follow directions or do it the way you are "supposed" to. This is why I don't sew clothes.

I told my frustrated self to suck it up and admit I didn't know how to do something and then do something about it. I marched straight to my computer and found a local art league that has watercolor classes. I signed up for a 5 week class that starts next week.

I will paint this picture. Just you wait and see.

Monday, February 18, 2013

50 Shades of Chicken

OMG Sexiest Chicken EVER!
I hated 50 Shades of Grey, but I think 50 Shades of Chicken is fantastic! How clever. If there was ever a parody that was begging to be made it was this one. I never in a million years would have thought a chicken carcass could be so damn sexy!

"I'm in warm pieces all over the plate. My own juices mingle with the sticky sweet jam he's spread all over me. My skin feels melting and soft. He ignores the fine silver flatware and picks up a thigh with both hands. Wow. He slowly closes his mouth around my thigh, causing clear, hot juice to drip over his delectable lower lip."

Popped-Cherry Pullet anyone? How about Chicken with a Lardon?

I have no idea if the recipes are any good but it's worth buying the cookbook just for the laugh. I will never look at a chicken in the grocery store the same way again.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Little Love Hearts

Yarn Wrapped Cardboard Cutouts with
Beads and T-shirt flowers.
I love making a big deal out of every holiday! We decorate, always have at least one craft, and a special meal. For the last few weeks the kids and I have been going love heart crazy. We made our own felt heart mailboxes, handmade cards for each other and the cute "little" love heart crafts pictured here.

We had breakfast for dinner; heart shaped french toast, pink whipped cream and a big bowlful or blueberries, strawberries and Raspberries. Next time we will have to get pictures, it was a pretty spectacular dinner. (Dinner and our Family Valentines was Tuesday since the kids are with their mom today.)

We Decoupaged the Center Pieces of
Our Yarn Heart Cutouts
Stuffed and Hand-Sewn Mini Felt Hearts

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where Ya Been???

I know, I have been MIA for months now. I've been really busy doing the stepmomma thing, I went on a few vacations and mostly I ducked out for a while because I was being cyber-stalked. It wasn't really the creepy kind of stalking but it was a still disconcerting. I'm going to try to work my way back into blogging but with a much tighter hold on what I share.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Label of Stepmom

Climbing the Family Tree

I label myself as a stepmother. It is the most accurate description for the role I fill in my kids’ lives. They label me as their stepmom because it is the easiest explanation for who I am in their lives.

Yes, I sometimes call them my kids. They are the children in my life. They live with their father and I 50% of the time. When I go to their school or sporting events and someone asks me “which child is yours?” I don’t say, “none of them”. I say, “that one”. Sometimes I explain further that I am the stepmom, sometimes I say I am their father’s girlfriend. It all depends on the situation and who I am talking to.

I label myself as girlfriend when referring to my relationship with my boyfriend. Sometimes I label him as my partner. I guess you could get technical and label him my domestic partner, but that just sounds so stiff and formal.

I label my stepkids’ grandma, grandma. She is their grandmother 100%, even though she has no biological or legal bond to them. Her emotional bond is just as deep with my boyfriend’s kids as it is with her own biological grandchildren.

My parents label me a mother, because that is the role I fill in my house. I have more than once, in my adjustment into parenthood, been told by my parents “that is the mom’s job”. They are not insinuating that I am, or should be, taking the children’s mother’s place. They are simply using a label.

Some of the family members that I label “cousin” are actually my mom’s cousins. I’m not really sure what my first cousin’s daughter is to me either so I just label her cousin as well.  

We all go by many relational labels, none of which do anything but help others categorize our relationships with different people. Mother, Stepmother, Father, Stepfather, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Niece, Grandparents, Girlfriend, Boyfriend, FiancĂ©, Wife, Husband, Ex-wife, Ex-husband, Friend, Acquaintance, Boss, Co-worker, Supervisor, Artist, Mechanic, Teacher…

Some people are stricter about family relationship titles than others. I know a lot of people who chose not to have sex or to live together before they got married, no wait… I can actually only think of one couple who did that who I know personally and I’m not really sure about the sex part. It is 2012 not 1900, times and family dynamics have changed.

At my house, with my family, my label is stepmom. The kids call me Ash. They know that I am not married to their dad, but they also know that I love him with all my heart. They know that I am going to cook their dinners, make their lunches and help them with their homework. I am going to do everything that a stepmom or a mom is “supposed” to do.

When I fell in love with my boyfriend I knew I was stepping into a much bigger role than just girlfriend. I understood that I was stepping into the mother role in the home the children have when they are with us. I never mistake that role as actually being their mother, but I also never minimize the importance of the role I am playing in their lives. 

photo credit: shawnzrossi via photopin cc

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Vulnerable Are You?

Emotions are a good thing. Too often in today's society we try to stifle and ignore what we are really feeling. Our feelings make us who we are. According to researcher Brene Brown emotions, particularly vulnerability, are also be the key to our happiness. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photography Lessons

My 8 year-old stepson has fallen in love with photography. I had my camera out to take photos for the articles I am preparing for stepmom magazine and he asked if he could try taking a few shots. I don't think he has put the camera down since then! 
This one is so nice! I didn't alter any of the photos he took, they are all straight off the camera.

Interesting angles, I think there is some real hope for his photography,
 he seems to have good intuition working for him.

I love how he got down behind the TV table to take this photo of his sister. 

Our Halloween decorations have become a favorite subject. We were practicing 
outdoor shots and learning how to use the manual setting on the camera. 

He might be in training to become a paparazzi photographer. 
He's been wondering around with the camera taking shots without warning. 
YIKES, so not flattering!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Childless Stepmom Pains

I cry a lot. Big swollen tears that streak my cheeks and soak my pillow. I have a this deep and painful sense of loss. No one grows up dreaming of raising someone else's kids. I wanted my own kids. I wanted them to grow inside me. I wanted to be in awe of them at their birth, I wanted to feel that overpowering love parents talk about. I wanted to burst into tears of joy because this beautiful little creature was mine. I wanted to wanted to watch my children as they grew and see parts of myself within them.

I don't know how to overcome the terrible sadness I have for the loss of the children I'll never have. I don't know how to let this go so I can fully embrace my stepchildren. I know my boyfriend is right when he says I'm holding back with them. I also know that he is wrong when he tells me that there is no difference between having my own child and having his kids.

For me there is a difference. There is a very big difference and it hurts.

photo credit: Raphael Goetter via photopin cc
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