5 reasons why my husband ROCKS as a step dad

6/17/16

Her opening line was "That's my mommy."

Those were the first words Tween Girl (age 5 at that time) spoke to my now husband 5 years ago.

Oh, and she also jerked my hand away from his.

Fast forward to 3 hours later!

Yes, that is about how long it took for both of my kids to become attached to the man who would become their stepfather.

step-parenting

You're probably expecting me to say that things changed, that they started to hate him, or that he started to hate them.

Nope.

step-fathers


Their relationship, if anything, is a picture perfect version of what most blended families can only dream of.

And I am not exaggerating.

Most days, I think they like him more than they like me.

How does he do it?

Why do they like him so much?

It's actually pretty easy to answer those questions.

He treats them as his own.


He knows that he is not their biological dad. That does not stop him from investing in them. He never addresses either kid as his "step kids", instead, he refers to both as "our kids" or "my kids". Both kids know how he feels about them by the way he treats them. He takes pride in driving to soccer practices, even driving 5 hours to drop College Boy off at school (ok, maybe he painted that look of pride on his face!). He is excited when Tween Girl remembers how to solve math problems from an example he has shown her or when College Boy applies the wisdom my Hubs has shared with him. Needless to say, he actively shows up on a daily basis to make them feel like his own kids. 

step-fathers

He shows his love for me.


I believe this was the game winner for my son. My son has always had my back because, for many years, it was just me and him. 

Not to toot my own horn (toot toot!) but prior to my Hubs, I was the breadwinner as a single and married woman. I became used to doing things myself. You know, things that come with running a household. So, to have someone who wanted to partner with me, to relieve me of some of the duties of being the "head of household" was something that my son needed to see. Kids can sometimes stress over the stress that their parents are under. My Hubs' daily actions show our kids that he loves me and that love extends to them. 

He knows the value of quality time, with and without kids.


My Hubs has taught the kids and I the meaning of family. By actively spending time together as a family, we have learned how to respect each other, how to work together, and how to listen to one another. We have done this from simple things like eating dinner together most nights, playing games, or from taking vacations together. These moments are important because we are setting an example to our kids of how families should interact, hoping that they carry these same traits into their homes when the time comes. 

Couple time is just as important to my Hubs as family time. We know that it is important for parents to spend time alone together without the kids. This gives us a chance to experience each other and to grow the relationship so that we can be better equipped to battle parent when back together with the kids. 

My Hubs can go from flying a kite in the backyard with Tween Girl to going to a professional soccer game with College Boy to driving with me to Asheville for a weekend getaway. He's a regular jack of all trades when it comes to spending quality time with us. 

He's always of good cheer. 


If you walked past our house, you would absolutely believe that we have about 10 kids! My Hubs knows how to get both kids going and ramped up. He understands that life is too short to be grumpy because things aren't going your way. The kids see, that even when my Hubs is facing an obstacle, he keeps a good attitude. I know they see him as the "fun one". Even when my fuse is short, he turns the situation around with a few of his famous dance moves (well, famous at our house anyway) or one of his play on words (ever heard of a jack-a-lope?). Trust me, he has taught me a thing or two or three about how to use lemons to make lemonade. 

He has set boundaries when it comes to his authority.


The kids don't mistake his good cheer as him being a pushover. He has boundaries in place that they know not to cross. It took some time to get to this part of the blended family process. In the beginning, we both agreed that I would be the disciplinarian because we knew that the kids would not respond well to him dishing out rules and orders. This worked for us because the kids had no idea that he and I were working together to come up with the discipline, I was the one who communicated whatever course of action to take. 

As time passed, he has gained the kids' trust to where his opinion matters to them, in no way do they want to disappoint him. 

It's pretty easy to see why the kids love this guy so much. I mean, after all, who could resist being in the presence of a man who knows how to rock a mullet on Halloween (thank goodness, it was only for a Halloween party!)!

step-parenting
Look at that 'stache!

Keep rockin' this stepdad thing, Hubs, rock on!

How does your husband/significant other rock as a dad/stepdad?



30 Days of Mom - Check in

6/10/16

My 30 Days of Mom challenge got off to a great start!

So great that I am combining my week 1 and week 2 goals.

mom-self-care


If you recall, weeks 1 & 2 were all about growing my passion and having a day to myself.

Of course, with Tween Girl away for the entire month, I have a bit more time to focus on things that are important to me.

Growing my passion began with me signing up for Lynda.com, which offers online educational video courses. I loaded my playlists with courses ranging from learning photography to building an online community. The videos are taught by industry experts and most are quite easy to follow.

Of course, there are tons of free videos offering online education for various topics. Andrea from The Branded Solopreneur has a great guest post from Amanda K. Jones of LaptopLifestyleMom.com on creating images in PhotoShop. Of course, I was all over this! I downloaded the trial version of Adobe Photoshop and played around with creating images.

While in the image creating mood, I reached out to Kasey from Sublime Styled Stock regarding working on a lil something for me, more to come later.

By Saturday, growing my passion and having the day to myself kinda morphed into one. I was one of about 20 other Atlanta bloggers invited to brunch with YP (formerly known as Yellow Pages, yes, they still exist). YP has created a program for area bloggers who know the city in which they reside. They've created a program called YP Insiders for area bloggers to attend local events, write reviews and blog about the events. This is a great opportunity and I am excited to have this type of exposure that will open doors for unRehearsed.

For all my visual readers, here are some pics and images from the first 9 days of the 30 Days of Mom:


mom-self-care

Excited to see what the next 20 days will bring!

Remember, we are taking the month of June to celebrate ourselves. In other words, self care. Need ideas on how to be good to yourself? Check out my Pinterest Board with self care ideas and encouraging words.

How do you self care?

30 days of Mom - NO TWEENS ALLOWED!

5/31/16

Sure, Mother's Day was weeks ago.

Keep in mind it was only 1 day.

Mom, you deserve to treat yourself for more than 1 day.

Think about it:

School's out for summer.

You can stay up as late as you want.

You can run as many errands as you want without feeling rushed.

There's no rushing to soccer practice, dance class, or Girl Scouts.

This is it, Mom.

mom-self-care


Yes, moms, this is the time for us to give ourselves a lil love. 

Now, the way we each show love to ourselves may look different. 

Me, my tween is gone for the entire month of June, spending quality time with her dad. 

Yes, I know that most of you don't have this liberty but I encourage you to do some things for yourself this summer. 

I sense that many moms need more than encouragement to actually do something for themselves. 

So, join me as I "do me" this month of June while Tween Girl is away. 

You may not have the time or interest to do the things that I am doing this summer but any form of self-care is better than none. 

Without further ado, here's what I'll be up to:

Week 1 - Growing my passion

Week 2 - A day to myself

Week 3 - Summer household projects

Week 4 - Summer date nights


Let's start with week 1.

Since starting unRehearsed last summer, I've always chosen quality over quantity. I believe that quality breeds trust. 

Sure, I have dreams of having a successful blog with the right number of subscribers but I also know the work involved with achieving that dream. 

Over the past few months, my goals and dreams have been a bit more streamlined:

  • Quality blog posts that encourage open and honest conversations between moms raising tween girls.
  • To create a community (online and in person) for moms and their tween girls. 
  • To continue having my writing published in reputable publications.

To accomplish these BIG things, there are some smaller things that I must address:

  • Learn photography so that I can create my own blog images geared towards my niche
  • Write my first ebook
  • To become more active in my own niche/community

These types of goals require concentration and focus, so it's great that Tween Girl is away. 

There it is.

Week 1 starts with growing my passion.

My passion happens to be growing my blog, and growing in areas of being a wife and mom, and growing as a person. 

What's your passion? It may not be blogging. Do you know your passion? 

As you start to look at how you can do self-care, think about things that excite you, no matter how big or small. 

Need some help on getting started? Download a copy of my 30 Days of Mom challenge. Take some time during the month of June to practice self-care. 

Post a pic over on Instagram of how you are practicing self-care, use the hashtag #momselfcare!

Parenting with an Ex Series: Should Dad buy clothes for the kids and keep at his house?

5/20/16

Here's a parallel or co-parenting situation:

My kids are 10 and 12, their dad (my ex) has them every other weekend for visitation. Should I continue to pack clothes for them or should their dad buy clothes for them to keep at his house?


parallel-parenting


Oh, I am familiar with this topic! With a month-long summer visitation on the horizon, clothing is always a hot topic.

Of course, when it comes to shared parenting/co-parenting/parallel parenting (whichever version you and your ex are doing), we should strive to have great, amicable relationships with our exes but we know that is not always possible.

There are many different thoughts and things to consider when deciding whether to continue to pack the kids clothing to take to their dad's house. Let's explore a few.

Situation #1 - The child should have clothes at both parents' homes

This solution could be easier and comfortable for the child to have clothing in both homes so that they don't have to keep a tally of what they have at mom's house versus at dad's house. Children should feel at home in both parent's home. This is one less choice they have to deal with. 

Situation #2 - Does the noncustodial parent wash and care for the child's clothes?

Does the noncustodial parent take care of the child's clothing? This situation applies if the noncustodial parent does not wash or care properly for the clothes. I have a close friend that experiences this when her children are visiting with their dad. 

Situation #3 - Does the custodial parent send clothes that fit the child?

I have read comments written by step moms who vent about the custodial parent sending clothes that are just too small for the child. This leads to the question of "what is bio mom doing with the child support money?".

Situation #4 - Should bio mom use the child support money to buy clothing to keep at dad's house?

This is a loaded situation! Many parents feel that if the noncustodial is paying child support, then the custodial parent should use that money to purchase clothes for the children, regardless of whose house the clothes will be kept.

As kids get older, they should be encouraged to pack their own clothes. This helps them to become more responsible and encourages independence. 

Dad should keep back up clothing at his home in case of emergencies, yes even for older kids. If dad feels that the clothes mom packs are not "presentable", he definitely needs to keep a supply of clothing at his home for the child.

Tread softly here...when voicing your opinion about your tween's clothing. Yes, parents MUST monitor what their kids are wearing. Once your tween reaches a certain age, though, they start having their own opinions about their clothing. Parents, please continue to weigh in. After all, it's you or the ex that's paying for the clothes! Or at least until the child is able to get a job.

When you weigh in, be careful to not make your tween self-conscious or project the image that the other parent's clothing choices are inappropriate. Children should never be caught in the middle of their parents' issue, let alone style choices!

Tween Girl is a different person, regarding her clothing style, when she is with me versus with her dad. With me, her style is more carefree and stylish, which definitely fit her personality. With that said, we do have guidelines on what clothing is acceptable or unacceptable. I allow her to have some say in what she wears to a certain degree. As she gets older, I have started to allow her to pick outfits to pack for her stay with her dad. 

Of course, in a perfect world, this very topic should not even be an issue. 

In an even more perfect world, moms and dads should be able to interact with one another on an amicable level. This would make a topic like this nonexistent.

Being in a parallel/co-parenting situation can sometimes make even the simplest things very complicated. As a result, someone must step up and be the bigger person.

Instead of going back and forth on who buys what, what should blended families concentrate on?


Within this series, I share my own parenting with an ex experiences as well as those of unRehearsed readers. Topics include visitation, communication and the emotional well-being of both mom and child(ren). 


Ditch Your Summer Bucket List

5/17/16

They're out there.

They can be intimidating.

They make you exhausted before you even finish the last bullet on the list.

You've either seen them or heard someone talk about them.

They are:

Summer Bucket Lists.

tween-summer



Let's get real. Yes, parents are glad it's summer vacation time. But things get complicated when we have to figure out what to do with our tweens for the next 2 months.

I, like many moms, have created summer bucket lists in the past. I had good intentions of filling my kid's summer with activities and being fully present in their lives. Yes, we had fun but by mid summer, I felt overwhelmed from trying to fulfill everything from our list.

As a mom that works outside the home, our summer bucket lists could not withstand the times when I had a last minute, late afternoon conference call. Or the 6 car pile up on the interstate.

No one or nothing is immune to real life, not even a summer bucket list.

I am not sure if parents with tweens make these types of lists because by the time our kids hit a certain age, we have to come up with a real summer plan. Without a summer plan, parents would end up with zombie tweens: those who play on their cell phones, tablets or play video games all day.

A part of the summer plan should include some actual play time. Tweens are old enough to actually enjoy and remember having summer experiences. So why not create summer memories by being present in your tween's life and not locked into a summer bucket list?

Here's how we're ditching our summer bucket list (hint: you should, too!):

Creating memorable experiences with actual play and being present with our tween.

Electronics have the potential to rob us all from having real, human interactions. Knowing this makes "play" a bit different with tweens. Tweens are old enough to enjoy and remember having summer experiences. 


Reducing the amount of time we are on our phones/tablets/laptops will give us time for real play. Tween Girl loves riding her bike throughout our neighborhood while I walk/run with her. I want to run my first 5k race this year and will need to train. She wants to teach me how to skate (nope, I can't skate!) so that will make for a lot of activity, falls and laughs. Of course, we will make time for electronics (all in the name of balance) because she LOVES playing her Disney Infinity game and LOVES when we play with her. 


We have plans to throw water balloons at each other. 

Plans to build a fairy garden, to hike on Sundays. 

Plans to let Tween Girl help with cooking, plans to let her decide how we will spend a random Saturday or Sunday. 

Plans to have lounge days - days where we do absolutely nothing, regardless of how many times she whines about being bored. This may mean that your tween has to come up with their own fun, so be it. Express to them that it's fine to have days that are carefree. This may mean that your tween will play video games all day or sleep for a few hours. Or they just might become their own event planner. 

Yes, you may be saying " Wow, that sounds like a bucket list to me!". 

Maybe. 

The only difference is that our intent is to not spend the summer checking things off of a list, to not have any regrets about what we did or did not do from our list, to allow ourselves the freedom to add some spontaneity to our summer, 

Summers should be fun and carefree, not just checking things off of a list. The kids are out of school, parents don't have to rush to make sure lunches are packed, papers are signed, no PTA meetings to attend.

Don't feel obligated to miss summer for the sake of checking items from a summer checklist. 

Put those markers down and go have fun with your tween. 

How did you spend your summers as a tween?

A Conversation Between a Tween and Her Mom

5/13/16



parenting-a-tween-girl

raising-a-tween-girl

raising-a-tween


If you could go back to tweenhood, what would you say to your mom/parent?

There's a Groupon Coupon for that!

5/6/16

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

No kids allowed trips to the beach.

Date night BYOB painting.

Mom and daughter cooking class for Mother's Day.

White water rafting trips, to which on the last one, I fell out of the raft.

These are all cool and exciting things I've purchased using Groupon.

Did you know that Groupon offers coupons as well?

groupon-coupons


Groupon Coupons offers coupons and promo codes to a wide variety of places where you probably already shop.

Tween Girl and I visit Kohl's a few times per month. From outfits for the kids or yourself to decorating your home, be sure to visit the Groupon Coupons site for rewarding Kohl's coupons and promo codes.

Need to do something with the hundreds of pics you've taken of your family? Why not use the Groupon Coupon for Shutterfly to make an awesome photo book! Right now, photo books are 50% off using the Groupon Coupon.

Another awesome benefit to Groupon Coupons is that the coupons and promo codes are not just for retailers but there are also deals for events and travel from sites like Travelocity.

Rest assured that Groupon Coupons are verified and actually work! The coupons and promo codes are regularly updated, so it's good to check the site before you head out to your favorite stores.

When has it ever been any easier to save money?

Speaking of which, I just browsed a few coupons from my favorite retailers. Looks I've got some shopping to do and I am taking my Groupon Coupons with me!
DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS