Friday, June 29, 2007

You Looking For ME?

I don't suppose it's any secret that I get a kick out of seeing the searches people run and find my site...most of the time. I did find one that disturbed me very much and I have made changes to my wording so that particular phrase won't "find me" anymore.

But in the spirit of answering those who seek, here are some of the phrases and my response to them:

"how to know if transmission in my van is busted": If it won't go forward or jerks violently before going forward and sounds like an egg beater is loose under your floorboards, pony up the bucks cause you're toast.

"Step-kids driving me crazy": They all do it at some point so join the crowd sister. I'm toying with the idea of a blog dedicated to my step-parenting adventures. Surely someone should profit from my trial by fire considerable experience. I'm still sorting out what stuff is kid stuff and what stuff is step-kid stuff, but I think I'm going to live through the experience so maybe someone will be interested in my advice.

"Older stepchildren driving a wedge": Take their balls away, or tell your husband to grow some. Someone has to decide who's in charge and as much as you don't want to hear it, you aren't in the best position to gain control over the situation. 75% of second marriages fail. If you want it to last, you'd better hope you married someone with the intestinal fortitude to overcome "divorce guilt" and be willing to stand his ground with the children.

"guilt thinking about leaving husband": If you've got a kid, you'd better feel guilty. If he's not beating on you, then you have an obligation to make it work. If he isn't willing to work on being a decent person, guess what? Leaving him isn't going to make him be a decent person and you'll have NO control over what he does with your kids during his visits. Don't kid yourself. He is going to get visitation. You do not get to go off and make a new life with a new husband unfettered by the baggage you've created with the old one. Weekly visitation STINKS for everyone involved and anyone who tells you staying together for the kids isn't a good reason to stay together is only telling you what you want to hear or justifying actions they themselves have taken. Responsible parents find a way to get their act together and they SACRIFICE their own wants for the needs of their children. Period. If you don't have kids and you are miserable, admit you made a mistake and get out while you can.

And Finally:

"How to acknowledge step-mother on wedding invitations and program": It's actually very simple and not at at all uncommon in this day and age. You put Bride's parents: dad and step-mom, mom and step-dad, then grooms parents: Dad and step-mom, then mom and step-dad. If someone hasn't re-married, they should be listed individually. You may end up with four couple's names on the invites in addition to the bride and groom, and you may or may not even LIKE the step-parents in question, but take my advice: your wedding is your special day, not an opportunity to grind axes on strained familial relationships. You're smart to ask...there are probably other ways to put them on there, but the important thing is that you DO acknowledge them, and not just in the fine print, unreadable with the naked eye. Weddings are ripe with opportunity to hurt people's feelings. In order to have a peaceful day, do everything you can to make sure you are sensitive to your parent's new partner(s). Mom and Dad love you, but they also love the person they've chosen to marry. Photo shoots and wedding dances and seating arrangements are other area's you should pre-plan very carefully to avoid hurt feelings. I know it can feel like you aren't able to please anyone, but if you make a concerted effort to avoid hurt feelings it will be appreciated by everyone involved. I hope that your family and step-family can be as mature and understanding about your arrangements as you are, if they aren't, take the high road, do what you can and don't worry about the rest.

And yes, these really were word for word google and yahoo searches that directed people to my site, not just another opportunity for me to gripe about my daughter-in-law and her mother ripping my heart out of my chest and smashing it on the ground.


I think I really am going to start that step-parenting blog. I just love giving out unsolicited advice, at least no one can slap me over the internet.

Rain Pause

The rain paused yesterday just long enough for the kids to play outside for a bit. If you need a cheap thrill for summer entertainment of the small person kind, make sidewalk paint by mixing equal parts of cornstarch and water, then adding food coloring. My kids used the brushes for about 30 seconds, then they just...well...acted like my children and got stuff all over:

Looking at that blue sky you'd never guess we're about to drown down here. Maybe I'll post pictures of us pulling out the Bronco, which is stuck. to the axles. in mud. in the front yard. Whee. LOL.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We Be Jammin'

Peach season is here again! Somehow, my trees never manage to produce, but I have an abundance of friends with a whole lotta fruit and not much time.

We started with plums from Taxi Mom's neighbor's tree:

This is about a third of what we started with.

Then Mamasita's peach tree ripened so I spent the last couple days processing these:

Aren't they just so pretty with their peachy-fuzziness?

Here's some of what we've put up this year. (Check out B in the background! LOL)

The family favorite is the Spiced Peach Blueberry. It's divine on a piece of homemade wheat bread. I have one more batch from Mamasita's tree that is still ripening, but I think I'll be forced to make a cobbler with that. Taxi Mom and Ethyl's tree's are just about ready and Ethyl has some grapes that should be ready soon after. We've discovered that pooling our time and resources makes canning a lot of fun. Yes, we live on the edge out here in Momville.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Redneck Fashion Sense

My kids are amusing at times.

Shortly after J was born, B asked me, "Mom, since J was born in Texas, does that mean she's a redneck?"

Well, judging by the looks of us walking into Walmart this morning, I think there's a strong possibility that we are all, in fact, rednecks.

We had exactly thirty minutes to drive to Walmart, buy diapers, milk and cereal and get back home so I could get ready to go to the office. I was wearing my pink loungy-type pants, an oversize t-shirt, no makeup and no bra.
J was attached to the end of my arm, happily skipping along because her mother could not think of an argument to effectively convince her two year old self that pink princess stocking hats are not really necessary during June in Texas. Along behind her came K, limping and hobbling and whining that her knee must have hit the couch harder than she remembered the night before because now, NOW, she could not possibly be expected to walk. B followed at a great distance behind, trying to forget that he knows us I'm sure.

At any rate. It looks as though I have a hat girl. J loves hats. I am hat-impaired. I have no idea what kinds of hats go with outfits and I have no idea where to find cute little girl hats. So insistent and profound is this new love of head coverings, I figure I'd better have an alternative to the pink princess ski hat if I am ever going to have any dignity at all taking J anywhere in public in any month other than January or February. Or October since this is my only alternative to said pink princess ski hat:

So since I am hat impaired, I let the hat diva pick. This is what she insisted on:

I'm pretty sure plaids don't go with stripes, but am I wrong in thinking that nearly anything is better than pink princess ski hats in June? We didn't get nearly as many funny looks and sly snickers walking from the back of the store to the front as we did walking from the front of the store to the back.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Things I Like About Texas

As a Wyoming transplant, I've really held off embracing my new home state. Bugs, heat and wall to wall people aren't really a draw to make me claim this place as home. Plus, it makes for interesting conversation to say you are from Wyoming. Texas, not as much.

So here's what I DO love about Texas:

Parker County Peaches
NO Sales tax on food
Clothing can be purchased in-expensively
Snow Cones (shaved ice...they don't do that up get ice crystals with syrup...soooo not the same.)
Sunsets (the whole sky is dominated by the sun as it sinks in the west. It sets the sky on fire and is an impressive sight to behold)
Full Moon rising (Again, huge and sky dominating when it's on the horizon)
Homeschooling (most HS friendly state in the nation, I believe)
The ability to grow a garden without a greenhouse
Asian Markets
Thai Food
Tex-Mex Food (Uncle Julio's, Abuelo's, Rosa's)
Gibson's (We used to have one in the town I grew up in, here it's just great to be able to go to an old-fashioned department store and know that Wal-mart hasn't killed EVERY small business on the planet. Gibson's also has a more eclectic inventory)
Cable internet availability

Friday, June 15, 2007

Here's How We Pass Time

J likes to pretend. More than my other two ever did, it is her "thing". She started this up on her own. I was so glad I got the camera and she did a repeat performance. I have NO idea where she comes up with "blow your head down" but it cracks me up anyway.

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos

And this is our cheer leading camp dollars at work:

The "cow" is hilarious. It's near the end but sooooooo worth the wait.

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I've also uploaded "MILK" and "Down to the River" to Dropshots. You can click if your eyes (and ears) can take any more.

Eye Contact

I've been trying to find the words to articulate what's been going on at my house lately. Really, it's none of the cyber-worlds business, but I write about life. My life in particular, so if I get hit by a train or abducted by aliens my kids will have something to remember me by.

You may find it shocking to believe, but we be some pretty po' folks around my house. With the letters behind the Hubster's name, you wouldn't think that would be the case, but alas, it seems to be our lot in life to ride the financial roller-coaster of life each and every month.

That said, a good deal of this is directly attributable to the fact that Hubster and I strongly believe in my being at home with the children. Every once in a while, the balance of responsibility to the kids and financial responsibilities get out of whack and I go off the deep end. It usually goes something like this:

Me: "I need to get a job."
Hub: "It's going to be OK, I think you should wait."
Me: "If I get a job now the first check will get here about the time the world spins off its axis."
Hub: "What are we going to do with the kids?"
Me: "I'll get a night job."
Hub: "Will you make enough to make up for the hassle?"
Me: "Maybe I could get a really good job and we could send them to private school."
Hub: "Would a really good job be worth what you lose?"

And we go around and around. Wondering. Now what I'm about to say could really tick a lot of people off if they choose to take it wrong. So here's the deal: My blog, my words apply to MY feelings as they pertain to MY family and MY situation.

To me, putting my kids in school would feel like committing child abuse, each and every day. I don't think my friends are child abusers for sending their kids to school, I didn't feel like sending the oldest three kids to school felt like child abuse, but there is something deep in my soul that tells me I HAVE to homeschool these particular children at this particular time. If I put my kids in school I would literally have to shut off my feelings toward my children to overcome the feelings of guilt that would consume me. I might not have to move to Antartica, but I doubt I could look them in the eyes as I tuck them in bed at night.

Every once in a while the financial pressures make me think I have no choice but to put away my heart and soul and do what needs doing to help Hubster provide for our family.

So every once in a while I dust off my resume and apply for jobs.

And every once in a while I go to an interview.

I've never gone to an interview and NOT been offered a job.

This week was no exception and the offer is generous.

But for now, I know what the answer has to be.

I will have a lifetime of looking into their eyes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Just When You're Trying To Be All Cheery and Stuff...

I've been pretty patient lately.

Really, I have.

My van has been out with a busted transmission for almost three months now. I really, really, really hate being carless, but I figured summer would provide some relief because then I could use D's car while she's up visiting her mom, we'd get enough saved to take care of the tranny and all would be fine.

The a/c went kaput in D's car today. It was fading on Saturday, we recharged it this morning, but it didn't do any good. By the time I got to my friends to pick up the kids it was barely blowing any air at all.

There is no relief in sight.

Ever heard the expression "Loosing your cool"? That would be me.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Me and Nanny McPhee

Love that movie. If you haven't seen it, you should, because there just aren't enough good step-mother stories in the world. I've decided Walt Disney had some serious mom issues, I mean, seriously dude, what was the last Disney Movie you watched when the mother DIDN'T die?

Disney Movie Recipe:

1 Dead Mother
1 Wicked Step-Mother
1 Oblivious Father
1 or more merry children who have access to unlimited resources, more freedoms than most adults and have no respect for authority.

Mix with generous amounts of beautiful animation, high-falutin' Hollywood voice overs and a cheap plastic product line to be given out at McDonald's and sit back while the cash flows in.

My own journey into step motherhood began at the tender age of 20. M, E, and D were 11, 9 and 5 respectively and we had a 50/50 custody arrangement with Hubster's ex. To say she was all up in our business was the understatement of the year. However, I had youth and skill on my side so i was determined to be the BEST step mother EVAR period. And also I had an insane amount of love and energy all bottled up inside. Well, you know how when you have your first kid you plan on doing everything right? Epidural? Not me! Breastfeeding? Absolutely! Perfectly co-ordinated outfits with shoes for a newborn? How could you not?! Right?! Yeah, well, it was sorta like that, only they were older and not having control over their whole universe made exerting my perfectionism somewhat frustrating and futile at times.

So for three years I immersed myself in kid stuff. I went to every ball game, program, parent teacher conference; you name it I was there. Then their mother moved 100 miles away, took D with her and the earth tilted off it's axis. Suddenly, I was in charge of the 200 mile car pool twice every week to get kids to and from "visitation", building a house, working full time and taking the boys to wrestling tournaments every.stinking.weekend. all over the entire state of Wyoming.

And then I got pregnant with B. On purpose.

Is it any wonder I nearly lost my mind? Me thinks not. My first foray into the world of the internet was to find some kind of help with this tricky step-parenting gig. I found a discussion forum with dozens of like-minded ladies and slowly began unraveling the way I really felt about being a step-parent. Basicly, it was kicking my @$$. I'm not kidding when I tell you that moving 900 miles from his ex was the best thing that ever happened to me as a person married to my Hubster. However, it also coincided with my crash into reality.

Suddenly free from the constraints of "the other woman" breathing down my neck and the constant fear and threat of litigation I scarcely knew how to behave. Slowly, I became a real mom, and while I'm not always certain that is a good thing, I do realize it is a normal thing. Reading other posts in bloggy land, I am reassured that the chaos that has descended upon my home is not limited to these four walls, but quite normal for households of every size, kind and circumstance. Finally being able to admit that my now teenaged step children were driving me absolutely ape and sharing that admission with other parents led to feelings of validation and camaraderie instead of accusations of inferior parenting. Learning that, admitting they were driving me crazy didn't mean I loved them any less, was terribly reassuring.

I now find myself at an uneasy peace with the kids' mom. Once I began to recognize that I was probably an insufferable snot in my pursuit of perfect parenting, I began tallying up all the ways she acted like a complete horses behind and I figured we're probably about even. Trust her? Depends on what for, like, she'll never be a gal pal, but since the weekly screaming matches have come to an end, I no longer feel like I need to be on my guard every second and I've even had a handful of pleasant conversations with her. There are area's that we have just agreed to disagree on, there are things we hate to admit, and there are things we would have done different but I no longer feel the need to discredit her facade which used to drive me over the edge. I don't know if she still feels the need to discredit and complain about Hubster and I at every opportunity, but I am relieved to discover that I no longer care. The kids, for the most part, seem to have a pretty realistic bead on where everyone stands.

I can't say that step-parenting has been my favorite thing. If I could have been the only momma I'd have done that in a heartbeat, I couldn't love my step-kids more if I'd have given birth to them myself. I think the step-parenting adventure wore an excessive amount of my "shiny" off. But it has given me some insights that I wouldn't have had otherwise, and some perspectives about marriage and divorce that only those intimately acquainted with divorce situations have. I am definitely not the girl you want to talk to if you are thinking abut leaving your husband. Or maybe I am. Depends on how you look at it. The Second Wives Club has gotten me through. How lucky I am to have found two other women who raised their husband's children with the ex noisily in the background. My time in boot camp is pretty much over. D graduates next year, and this year, our anniversary will mark the milestone of having been married to Hubster longer than the ex was. The kids still come home every now and then, now that they have a choice in the matter, and I guess that's about the best that a step-mom can hope for. Well, that and having your name appear on the wedding invitation. But who ever said rewriting fairy tales was gonna be easy...right?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Where The Creeping Things Are

We've had a creepy kind of day.

K found this guy out in the driveway this morning:

Then, when they took him to the backyard to make him "comfortable" until they could take him down to the creek, she found this "little" guy:

He totally reminds me of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Then we slopped through school and went swimming. I love little white bottoms on top of little brown legs. But in keeping with today's creepy theme, here's a bug eye shot instead:

Monday, June 04, 2007


I've created a new definition of insanity:

Spending two days glued to a sewing machine, barely stopping to eat or sleep, sewing adorable outfits for kids who'd rather be nekkid anyhow:

The polk-a-dotty dress is a K size version of the ones I made for J last week.

I need to go un-bury the rest of the house now, quickly before Cub Scout camp starts...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Another Garage Sale "Bargain"

Hubster has been complaining about the TV.

"I think I need to go to the eye, the TV screen is fuzzy."

"Can you read that?"

"I can hardly decide what to watch, can't see the words well enough to see what's on."

He asked for $200 for a new TV. A 42 in 750 lb beauty at Best Buy. With visions of a 42 in plasma flat screen and a van with an actual working transmission dancing in my head I politely told him to forget it.

Anyway. I subscribe to Small Town County Garage Sale. It's like Freecycle...only...not free. It's how I found that great deal on the pool last summer. (And if I could navigate blogger and find that post I'd insert a nifty little link right about now, but since I can't and I need to finish this up sometime today I won't.) Long story short, I got a great deal on an inflatable backyard pool but got a speeding ticket on the way to pick it up...negating my savings entirely.

SO I found this great 36 in color TV for just $50.

Drove to Even Smaller Town Texas to pick it up. With Hubs car. The man laughed at me when I told him that the plan was to stick it in the trunk. SO the man and his 20 something son go in and get the TV. They were barely out the door of the house when they needed to rest. I'm thinking, "Man, that thing must be heavier than I thought", but after much huffing and puffing, they get it to the car, wedge it into the front door and into the gear shifter. Great. Only problem is that I forgot my bungee cords to tie the door shut with. SO they try to extricate the TV from the car. Pretty soon, the son says "I can't get it out!" Visions of me driving down the road with a 36 in color TV hanging out my door appear before my eyes and I panic. I climbed in the car and heaved that sucker outta there and I have to say, not as heavy as I had expected from the amount of huffing and puffing going on with my moving crew. So they put it in the back seat, after tearing half the vinyl off Hubsters back door handle/armrest thingymajig. And suddenly, I'm the proud new owner of a 36 in color TV set that takes up an entire back seat of a 1995 Nissan Maxima and as I stood there holding the car seat that is a nearly permanent fixture in said back seat, I realized I was going to have to put the kids in the trunk because I was not leaving them at the trailer park with Billy Bob, his son Jethro and their 4 large dogs. The kids, being scared of the dark, vetoed the trunk idea and squished their little bodies around the TV set and we set out for our illegal-in-the-state-of-texas-and-punishable-by-up-to-two-hundred-dollars-in-fines journey home. When we saw the friendly Texas DOT public safety officer, I just screamed "DIVE, DIVE, DIVE" and the kids threw themselves under the seats.

After we left Even Smaller Town Texas and the safety of the open road stretched out before us, I discovered why the moving crew was so out of breath. From the smell that was coming from the back seat, they probably had to have smoked 37 packs of cigarettes each...daily. So we rolled down the windows, kept a sharp look out for friendly Texas DOT public safety officers and meandered our way back home.

Once we got here, I cleaned off the entertainment center, removed the fuzzy TV,( and all the fuzzy stuff underneath it...eeeewwwww.) And decided to put the TV on the yard cart to bring it inside. Hubster was supposed to be going to work out so I thought a newer, clearer TV would be a nice surprise when he got home. The TV really wasn't as heavy as the moving crew thought, so I hefted it out of the backseat and onto the cart, removing the remaining vinyl on the door interior and silently congratulating myself on marrying a husband with some...shall we say muscles (since we don't want Grandma G's content filter to prevent her from accessing the old bloggy due to adult content) and that he raised boys into fine young men with muscles and also not smoking so as to negate all those muscles. Hubster pulled up right as B and I were dragging the cart into the house and took over the project, which included a bit of demolition to the TV armoire due to a miscalculation on the size of the new 36in color TV vs. the size of the armoire. So we got the thing into position, hooked it up and turned it on. What we saw was a sight to behold.

The top half of the screen was...shall we say, a bit more than fuzzy...a WY snowstorm would more accurately describe it. And the bottom half? Clear as a bell. Beautiful picture...if you happen to be standing on your head. Yes, the bottom third of the picture was upside.down. We stared. We hit the tv on the side. We waited. We sat on the couch. I called Billy Bob's wife and asked if there was any way to adjust the picture. They didn't answer the phone. I called the cable company to see if half upside down picture was part of the new cable line-up or some freaky cable outage. I wouldn't say that they hung up on me, but they did say they could send someone out to look at in sometime around the year 2010. As we waited, the picture did finally right its self and only the bottom fourth of the screen had wavy lines that made everyone on CSI have Jay Leno chins. I lit some candles to mask the stench and we waited a few more hours. Hubster very generously told me it was better than what we had and I DID, after all save him $150 in not allowing him to purchase the brand new, even bigger, non-stinky TV set, and by the time we went to bed last night, only a small, one inch or so wavy line section remained, most of the picture was on the screen and the guide menu was no longer distorted and wavy-lined into an unreadable mess at the bottom of the screen.

I haven't turned it on yet this morning.

But I have lit 3 $25 Salt City Candles and dug out my $25 vinyl repair kit to start repairing the OTHER damages my bargain has extracted. After I dump my $50 bottle of perfume on the sucker to try and eliminate the smokey bar room smell that now permeates my house, I figure I should still be about even with the purchase of the new TV set, and I will have saved myself the cost of tax.