A note to stepmoms everywhere

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One Woman Team (Just Don’t Check the Score!)

courtesy  Does anyone know what happened to this kid?

courtesy Does anyone know what happened to this kid?

Back to my old “single mom” routine. When my husband goes away, people will ask “you have the kids?” and I will always reply “I didn’t have them, but I got ’em!” Oh, I can’t stand myself, I’m so witty!

So the oldest child is generally exhausted, pale, cold and out of breath. I’ve been telling her for MONTHS she’s low on vitamin D and she’s either close to anemic or full blown anemic. I kept trying to keep her on vitamins, she didn’t seem to understand what a vitamin deficiency can do. When she insisted that she eat ice during all hours of consciousness, then I insisted that she needed a blood workup, but in the meantime I gave her multivitamins and iron tablets.

She finally got her blood test results. She says “they told me I’m anemic, I’m so glad I wasn’t just lazy!”


Her boyfriend tells her “you should listen to Jessie, she seems to be right a lot”. Too bad the only kid that’s figured that out doesn’t live here.

That’s not entirely true. The middle child, the one who gave me the hardest time, the one who was just mean and hurtful to me, the one who cried every time I said anything at all to her for about 4 years, suddenly values my input. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the logistics of that, but she listens to me, she talks to me, and she genuinely understands I have only her best interest at heart. I truly believed we would never be here!

Now, on to the youngest. I’m worried about her, and I’m worried in a way that I wasn’t worried about the middle child. The youngest doesn’t have the same support structure around her that the other 2 had, she also hasn’t received the same discipline, she’s been more spoiled, and is more entitled, rebellious and (sorry to say it) intelligent. People are always underestimating how smart she is. Sometimes she undermines her own intelligence with her sheer stubbornness, and that will also be to her detriment. I feel like if I can’t reach her when she hits that critical pre-teen realization, I’m not sure who will. I wanted her to get evaluated because she has crazy mood swings, and is constantly swinging between groups of friends, pitting them against each other. The youngest that comes through the door one day probably won’t be the same one the next day. You never know who you will be coming home to, a gremlin or interpretive dance queen. I thought if she were evaluated, we could find out if it’s hormones, if she’s just manipulative or if there’s something else that we need to be aware of during the stresses of her teen years.

But *one* of her parents doesn’t want people to think there’s something wrong with her, so they don’t want it done. The other parent doesn’t want to argue.

Part of me wants to throw my hands up and just tell them “good luck!!” I want them to see that their action or inaction led to problems.

And then I look at her, and I know it’s not fair.

I’ll be ready, because I can see what’s coming, and I’ve been where she’s going. I’ll know how to handle it, the depths of craziness and bad decisions. The highs of accomplishment and overcoming obstacles. I look around, at her options of who else is ready for the fastball pitch of her teenage years to come, and I’m the only one with the mitt.

Play ball!

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The Great Outdoors (Just like the movie, but no one dies and there’s no storm, or steak)

Youngest and dog, both in anticipation.

Youngest and dog, both in anticipation.

I love the outdoors and camping. I love fishing, hiking, sitting in the woods and staring at trees and controlled fires in their designated areas (I’m not a pyro, I just enjoy a nice little fire). I take my people on these excursions with me. They are meant to be calming little vacations where we all sit around and talk and roast marshmallows. We sleep in and have big breakfasts and relax, walking around the campground.

Now sometimes all of that nice stuff actually happens. But everything I do in life ends up completely weird and messed up in a way that wouldn’t even be possible for a normal person. This rule also applies to my vacations, so my people are also subjected to my weird occurrences.

We had a lovely little weekend planned at a state park we had not been to yet. We get to the campsite, and it is a patch of gravel perched at the edge of a steep hill. We were overlooking a small valley. The kids were not enthused. We tie up the dog and start setting up. We were there for a total of 30 minutes, yes, 30 minutes in, and the dog broke loose and went for a jog in the wilderness. Yay.

The littler people and I run down the hill to get the dog. We are whistling and calling her and clapping to get her to come back. She was gone for about 10 minutes and came pouncing back like it was the best play time she ever had. I dragged her about halfway back up the hill, then she dragged me the rest of the way (thankfully, I was dying!). We finish setting up, make dinner and after some fire time, we go to bed. I go to get ready for bed, and I came back without a flashlight and hear “Jessie, there’s raccoons in the screen tent!!” We were being raided by raccoons.

I chased out the bandits in the screen tent and began securing the food there, then I hear “there’s one in the cooler!”. Little dude figured out how to open the cooler. I chased him off with a stick, at one point I made contact, we were both surprised, and he ran off into the woods. I turn around and there are 2 more in the screen tent! It was an ambush!! I hollered to my husband for backup.

We finally got all the food in the car, and I was allowed into bed. They came back and found some dog treats. They didn’t have the decency to drag them off into the woods, they had to knock things over and rip open the bag as loudly as possible, terrifying the children (who are now absolutely traumatized and terrified of raccoons forever. I don’t get it). I had to get up one more time, chase him off and salvage the dog treats. Stupid raccoons.

The next day, we had rented a pontoon boat for the entire day. The dog was a little unsure of the whole thing, and freaked out a little. She stared at the water, but didn’t want to jump in. We went out and fished all day and then just cruised around the lake. I was sitting up front while we were putting along, when all of a sudden the dog jumped off the front of the boat. I was holding her leash, but knew her collar was a little big. She had gone under the boat, and if she slipped out of her collar, it was propeller time. I screamed at my husband to stop the boat and he threw it in reverse. The middle child ran up and opened the gate that I was struggling to open with my one free hand. The boat slowed, and I could see the dog paddling for her life! I grabbed her collar and yanked her back up on the boat, a little shaken up. So was I.  Stupid dog.

The next day, we went to the beach. It was packed. We found a part of the park where we could hang out and the dog didn’t have a massive anxiety attack (high maintenance, seriously). We got some sun and got in the water. I went to the bathroom and apparently missed a man getting completely naked for the outdoor shower area where you would normally just rinse off in your bathing suit. Totally naked in front of God and everybody. I’m still not sure why anyone would think it was ok to do that. We stopped off on the way home and tried to fish a little. We caught a few tiny guys, but that was it. The dog was just beside herself at this point and tried to chase the bobber on every cast and wanted to run around and drive us all crazy. I slipped and called her a Dick Nixon, minus the Nixon, in front of the people. They all stopped and looked at me wide eyed.  I said sorry about 20 times, then they all giggled for a bit.

We went back to the campsite, had dinner and went to bed a little early. The next morning, we woke up and had everything all packed up and left the site in 2 and a half hours. A personal best. But aside from bandit raccoon ambushes, drowning runaway dogs and full frontal beach time, it was a good trip.

But I swear sometimes I feel like it’s so crazy, you just can’t make this up. I need a vacation from my vacation.


Breaking News: I’m Still Alive!!



You know, it’s been a while. I haven’t meant for that to be the case, I just haven’t had much time. I’ve been doing the usual part time mom and full time job, and then I started going to school. I don’t know, maybe I’m a masochist and I abuse myself with taking time away. Not really sure what’s going on there. But school is going pretty awesome, and my job (which I didn’t want in the first place, Inside Sales) is turning into something pretty cool. I had a hard time, I knew it was a good job with good people, but I was bored out of my mind. When Jessie gets bored, bad things happen. I’ve been known to shoot rubber bands at people (got one guy right in the eye) sneak up on people and scare them. Rig up their desks, steal things from offices, hide important items… you get the idea. I run out of work and turn into a gremlin.

But there may be a promotion on the horizon and that is super fantastic.

The oldest child (now 15, gasp) has a boyfriend. He’s pretty awesome. He always wears those Adidas sandals with crazy pattern socks (like the universe, statue of Liberty, things like that) so I started calling him hot socks. The name stuck. Some family members just call him socks. It’s an initiation. You can’t be one of us without a name, a few of us have many.

The middle child graduated from 8th grade (eek!). During her graduation, we made faces at each other and she was trying not to laugh. We have stare downs and awkward offs, you know. Teenage weirdo stuff. I have no idea what lies ahead for her in high school. But she knows I’m on her side, I will always help her and I will always listen, so I hope that helps. She’s so pretty, I worry about boys, but I guess we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.

The youngest, while incredibly smart, is in that horrible tween phase. She’s too cool for everything, and then not old enough for everything else. She’s a little sassy, a little lippy, and not sure what she likes, so she acts like she doesn’t like anything. I have my work cut out for me this summer with Dennis the menace here. She is so smart, I just want her to see that she’s really got a gift, and that fitting in just makes her someone she’s not. That’s what I worry about, but I also know that middle school cures that. It’s a phase people, they all go through angry cat syndrome, it goes away. Just keep acting like nothing is wrong and they’ll come around.

I went on my first business trip. I missed the kids birthday party at my house (I’m such a turd!). All I can say about that is 1) don’t fly Spirit airlines 2) stay away from O’Hare airport (just ridiculous) 3) no matter where you travel for work, it’s still work. It’s not a vacation. That was the worst possible trip to Orlando I could ever have had. Gah.

So that’s all. I feel more and more like a real mom every day. The oldest has been staying at her mom’s house more for the summer and I keep forgetting. Like a piece is missing. I like these people. I think I’ll keep them, they’re kinda mine now anyway.

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If You Ain’t Doing Saturday Like This, You’re Wrong



Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!! The day created for sleeping in and doing as little as possible. I love Saturday. Most of the time it’s what gives me the drive to survive my whole week. Just being able to sleep in one day, just one day is enough.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today. It was a long week, full of lots of social activities. I don’t mind social activities, but they do wear me out. And I had something to do every day this week.
Except Monday. I was in bed at 7 on Monday.
But this morning my eyeballs snapped open at 6am on cue. Gah!!
I fought it for a few hours, and gave up. But I still haven’t put on real clothes today, so the protest continues.
We’re puppy sitting today, and it makes me feel like it really is time we get a dog again. After the terrifying attack from the last dog, and the hard time we were having with money, I wanted to wait until I knew it would be OK. I think it might be time.
So no real pants, not a lot going on, I’m just not really interested in doing very much.
And that’s what Saturday is for.

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Single Mom Time. What Could Go Wrong?


My husband has left me to do the single mom dance with the kids again. It seems like they see me more than anyone else. It’s only for a few days this week, and I can’t have it action packed like my last single mom gig. I’m already tired.
This weekend was great, but I crammed too much in there and now I’m done. I finally got to go buy new clothes!! I went to a department store and bought new things! Everything was on clearance, but it’s all new. I get nice stuff from Goodwill, but it’s nice to get things that fit right and haven’t been stretched out by anyone else.
So after an epic battle with clothes, I was wiped. Yesterday I had to drag myself through the grocery store. I had to come home and sit down for 20 minutes before actually putting the food away.
Yes, I have to rest in the middle of mundane tasks. It is what it is.
My husband was playing The Doors last night, I’m not sure but I think he was trying to torture the children. Anyway, the youngest was standing next to him as he sang, and he got to the line “the men don’t know, but the little girls understand”. The youngest looks at him, like he knows a secret, and says ” I’m a little girl “. My husband made a face somewhere between disgust and disappointment and told her to go sit down.
If you live with kids, you surely have had a double entendre misunderstanding at some point. Or kids not realizing what they are saying. They might loudly talk about camel toe in public, they might excitedly insist that you spank them (without the birthday spankings context) there’s all sorts of things that can happen. They attend public school and aren’t always hip to the context of their comments.
I kind of feel like as long as they don’t really get it, I don’t make a big deal out of it. When they know what they are talking about, that’s when there’s a problem.

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Friday Ride On The Crazy Train


From the youngest, the caption says it all...

This week has just vaporized, I swear. It’s fine so fast, I’m still not sure it’s Friday. We haven’t had the kids, so I’ve been trying to get caught up on things I didn’t do when they were here.
I guess the trip to the mall was a big hit with the kids. The oldest is still talking about her “exciting weekend” with me. I guess she was just tickled to hang with my mom and uncle. Super weird, a teenager that wants to hang out with adults all the time. But I won’t complain.
She had told me that she had to quit talking to some friends because she found out they were doing drugs and they were racist. She’s half Mexican, so that whole racist thing doesn’t fly, and she’s not a fan of drugs either. She felt like they were the only friends she had, so we had a talk about that.
I suppose high school isn’t the place for a girl with a big heart.
The middle child has secretly pierced a second hole in her ear, by herself. I’m just glad it didn’t happen at our house.
The youngest had her conferences last night. She had drawn a portrait (the pic at the top, supposed to be a self portrait but she’s blond) and her caption says. I swear, that girl makes me Facepalm twice a day.
But I never tell her to change. Only to be herself and not be afraid of it. Can’t stop a crazy train like that.

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I Can’t Even


Youngest with her duck fluff and "what are you doing" face

My fourth (I think) anniversary will be next month. In pretty sure it’s the fourth. I’m not very good at this stuff. Anyway, every year I get all nutty and want to do something nice for our anniversary. I want to get away, have a second honeymoon, a little vacation. I always want to go back to where we had our honeymoon. We had such a good time, even if it was stupid cold out the whole time.
So each year I get all amped up, and each year my hopes and dreams are destroyed. I’ve had to settle for a nice dinner. I love a nice dinner, but I love that on a regular basis, not as a special occasion like an anniversary. This year, the whole month seemed to get snatched up before I could even get excited. Our anniversary falls on a Friday this year, and it’s a weekend we have the kids.
I didn’t have the energy to try to plan around it. I just can’t. So when I suggested to my husband that the 5 of us just go to a water park together, he was a little surprised.
I just can’t care this year. I just can’t. I want to do things with my husband, I would love to get away, go somewhere, but I know that we are just not in that place right now. There’s too much going on, too many things come up. Maybe we can go to the art museum in Chicago sometime as a belated anniversary, but this year, we’re celebrating with the kids.
Why not, they are at least half of the marriage anyway. Just gonna go with it.
I think I’m gonna be doing that a lot this year. I just can’t. You know?


She Might Be An Alien Child

weird animated GIF


It’s been a pretty great day. I started working on a video to promote the cause I volunteer for, and I’m pretty amped about it. After I recorded a bunch of shots to use as filler, I came home to try to save it on my computer and get a look at the footage. I was going through it, and the youngest told me she had some orchestra practices that she needed a ride to. I suggested she call her grandma, and resumed checking my footage.

She went and borrowed a phone, and I saw her dial a number and then she said “grandma?”. I didn’t hear anything else, and she put the phone down on the dining room table and went and sat down and watched tv. A minute later I happened to look up and saw the phone was on and in mid-call!! She had her grandma on the phone, and just put it down and walked away! I said “um, do you have someone on the phone?” She jumped up and said “oh” and grabbed the phone, she just started talking like nothing had happened. Unreal. She’s 11 and has no idea how to talk on a phone.

Then I saw her go in the kitchen and grab 1 paper towel. A single piece. She walked in the living room, wiped something a few times, then went and threw out the single paper towel. I asked what happened and she said she spilled some water. She went upstairs and a few minutes later I went into the living room. I saw that she had spilled a GLASS of water on the ottoman. A glass of water. She used a single paper towel to wipe up a glass worth of water off of the fabric ottoman.

I’m not sure what world she lives in, perhaps it’s parallel to reality, just way off. It seems where she lives is very far away.

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It’s 7:30, Aaaaannd… We’re Done Here!


I’ve been hibernating. Well, sort of. I mean, I still go to work, pick up the kids, come home and make dinner, and a few other assorted tasks. But I shut off at about 7:30 every night. That’s it, no more gas. Jessie stops.
I just can’t do more. I still talk to the kids, spend time with the family, but I’m not even trying to keep up with the pace I kept a few months ago. I’ve decided I don’t care. If the kids aren’t here, I can’t even bring myself to make dinner!
I have had a few really good things work out. My car was quickly deteriorating into a death trap, and there was no way to drive in the show without sliding all over. We finally decided to go get a new car, and like a week later, there is a massive snow dump over the Midwest. The timing was epic! My new job is nice and pays better. The girl I work with is hilarious, and it seems like I’m doing well so far.
The greatest thing is that we are getting an awesome tax refund this year, and it looks like we will be getting out of our hole.
I will be having a busy weekend. One child wants to go bra shopping and another wants me to take her to the Sponge Bob movie. I dig on Sponge Bob, I might be down.
One funny little thing that happened this week (there were many, but I have a hard time remembering them all), the middle child was telling me about her friend at school who is in Italian club. I asked her what that was, and she said that they learn things about their culture. I asked “do they teach them to say ‘ey,yooz guyz’?” She didn’t miss a beat and said “no, he already speaks Italian”. And then didn’t understand what was so funny.
Freakin’ kids.

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It’s Mommy Time In This Piece!



Today was the day I made the full on mommy commitment. I drove cheerleaders around this summer, and between that and needing to take 2 cars for just us to go camping, I knew it was time.
We bought a minivan.
Now when I was a single girl, living with boyfriends, I also had a minivan. They were great for road trips with friends, the insane amount of times I would need to move, and occasionally for sleeping in. But now that I’m married to a man with 3 kids, I need one for other reasons.
I tried a different car that I thought would work for us; my husband detested the idea of becoming minivan people. But after toughing it out for a few years in my car that was just a bit too small for our people, we knew we had to go ahead and become minivan people.
We knew we would be gone for most of the day, so we took the kids out for breakfast. On the way home, the youngest mentioned that she was very disappointed with the “monkey pouch”. The middle child starts laughing hysterically. I asked what a monkey pouch was, and the middle child tells me that when they were all younger, the older 2 (who are 13 months apart) told the youngest child (3 years younger) that when she got to be their age, she would grow a monkey pouch. It would be a pouch in her mouth where she could store extra food, like a chipmunk.
The youngest thought that would be great. She could put candy in there. So when she got a little older and asked about the monkey pouch, she was a little upset when they just laughed at her.
I thought this was a very creative lie; most younger siblings are just told they are adopted, like my brother told me.
After that enjoyable story, we were off to spend some time at a dealership, where we were very lucky to be able to get what we (I) wanted.
I’m pretty excited, it’s the newest car I’ve ever owned, and it has all the room we need. And a roof rack, just in case it doesn’t have all the room we need. But that makes it official, even if it’s not official, I’ve become some sort of mom.
I worry about them, I buy things for them before I buy anything for me, I know lots of their secrets, and now my car is really about them. There’s no denying that.
I turn more into the mother of kids I never had every day. Just no jeans with front-butt. Ever.