My personal brew

I’ve heard from many of you that you’d love to share your family but the reality show venue is not for you. Putting cameras in your home and exposing the “realities” of blended family living within your four walls seems like a recipe for disaster.  

Here’s an opportunity to participate in a documentary style video for stepfamilies. I was contacted by Casting Station which is a reputable firm who works with clients around the globe. They are currently looking for real blended families with interesting household stories for participation in a documentary style short video. If selected the project does pay $300 per family member if chosen.

They are primarily looking for blended families from the Northeast area but welcome submissions from across the US. If you are interested, all you have to do is fill out a simple questionnaire and send a few photos of your family to

The Casting Station would love all entries by this Thursday, August 8th. Any questions, please leave them below. Thanks.

You can follow Casting Station on Facebook to keep up to date on all their upcoming projects.

I had pretty much convinced myself that I had this “stepmom life” down and that nothing could rattle my cage. Silly girl. I should know better than to get to comfortable in “who I am” or “what I know.” Yes, life threw me a big curveball.   

Last Wednesday was a typical summer day. Swim practice in the morning, chaotic lunchtime at home and then, since I only had three of our six kids in my care, I decided to run a few errands. We stopped at a new cupcake shop and then hit the Family Christian Bookstore and Kohls looking for some gifts for a friend of mine going through a tough time.

The shopping trip was successful and we made it back in time to watching Giada at Home on the Food Network. After the show was over I went to stand up from the couch where I was cuddled with my youngest and that’s when it happened. As I went to stand, a sharp pain like no other shot through my right shoulder and breast and I couldn’t breath. I tried to yell out for help but no voice could be heard. My lil one raised up off the couch “mommy, you ok? mommy, you ok?” she shouted. As she leaned into me I caught a breath. “Please get mommy some water,” I whispered.

My head was swirling. I thought back to all the information I’d heard from the American Heart Association. I thought I was having a heart attack and I was angry. I’ve got dinner to make and kids to get places tonight. While I’m young and live a pretty healthy lifestyle there was something inside of me that said “this is no joke. Something is very, very wrong and you need help.” As I reached for the aspirin, remembering the American Heart Association again, my oldest daughter said “mom, don’t be stupid. Call Miss Jen.” I called my friend who was a nurse and she told me to go right to the ER.

My husband called me while I was on the line with Jen and I shared with him what was going on. He came right home and within minutes was rushing me out to the hospital. The man I used to tease for driving like Mario had now become my hero weaving through rush hour traffic to get me in.

Moments later I’m in a wheelchair and getting hooked up to an EKG. Normal. Took some blood and the news came after that. The Dr. informed me that I tested positive for a blood clot but he told me there was no need to panic. At my age and health, he assumed it would be another false positive. They set me up for a special cat scan. As my body jetted in and out of the circle, I closed my eyes and recited over and over my life verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. I was scared but I felt peace.

Then the news came. As the Dr. pulled back the curtain on my ER room, his face said it all. “The cat scan showed you do have a small blood clot in your right lung. It’s called a pulmonary embolism. You were smart to come in when you did. We will start you on blood thinners,” he told me. He then followed it up with compassionate words of not worrying but by then it was a blur. I just remember my husband holding my hand and me praying for strength and healing.

All I could think of was a few hours ago I was laughing with my kids and now I have this thing inside of me that could have killed me. I just wanted to go back home and keep being a wife and mom. I just wanted to be with my kids. All my kids…. my biological kids and my stepkids. I wanted my family. Didn’t the PE know that I was the caregiver and I was supposed to be taking care of others not being taken care of.

Sparing the details, I now sit at home a week later still adjusting to this new life. Adjusting to the here and now.

I feel God’s peace through this readjustment period but I’m also scared. Each time I have to do something new with this PE inside of me, I cry.

As with any struggle, there is good. Facing this has truly made me think about what’s important: Faith, Family, Friends. And not just think about it but live it. My gratitude for life has grown and I’m committed to remaining positive on this journey. Life really is about re-adjusting to the here and now. As a stepmom, I know this “readjustment” well. Now applying it to my health is a new venture on the journey of life. Believing that God has a plan for me and staying strong as I live it.

I share my story because I want other women to be proactive about their health. We all have so much to live for and it’s so important to pay attention to our bodies.

I have no control over this tiny thing in me that has taken my breath away. That is the hardest part. So I will control the parts I can. Take my medicine. Live healthy. Pray and be good to me and my family.

This is another curve on the winding road called life. I’ll readjust, cling to God’s word, love my friends and family with abandon and keep moving forward.


Please pray for me and my family. Pray my body dissolves the pulmonary embolism and that my body doesn’t make any more. And please make sure to leave any prayer requests you have. I’m grateful for all the prayers and love and I want to pray for you too.

And please my stepmom sisters…. listen to your body. If you don’t feel right, please go in and get checked out. The Docs still say I’m “way to young to have a PE,” but obviously my body didn’t get the memo.

Remember life before #hashtags?  Now the invaluable tool of tagging has moved to video and serves to help you find stepmom videos that will speak the words you need to hear right when you need to hear them. I’m excited to share this new project from fellow stepmom Stacey – a Ph.D. student and mom and stepmom whose amazing project is creating a tagging system for videos. Let’s hear from Stacey:

“Tags are words, keywords to be exact, that describe the object being tagged. Video tagging is the process of assigning keywords tovideo tagging videos where you share knowledge, share opinions, describe what you see, describe what you hear, or describe how you feel. Through tagging the videos as you watch them, you are helping to create rich keywords that can be used to index the videos and make them easier for you, your friends and people with similar interests to find.

The more text that exists for a video the easier it is to see at a glance if it fits your search need.  The more people who tag the same video, the more varied those keywords are.  The more people who enter the same keyword, the more we all know the video is relevant.  The descriptions are available on the site so you can interact with the tags you and others enter and maybe find videos of interest you might never ordinarily have watched.

Millions of people play millions of online games every day and invest hours upon hours of time into games that have little or no purpose other than to entertain. What if you could be entertained and participate in a useful task? VideoTag lets you do just that. Play some quick fun games whilst tagging videos. Choose a video that interests you then select which game you want to play, each game has a different challenge.  You score points depending on the type of tags you enter and depending on the game.  All players start out as an intern, as you earn points you’ll get promoted until you eventually reach the role of commissioner.  Once you are a researcher you can upload your own videos to VideoTag.  For those that prefer the idea of watching the whole video and just tagging it, without being entertained by a game we have Simply Tag – simply watch and tag, for as long as you want.

VideoTag is an experiment, we’re hoping to educate people on the potential benefits of tagging whilst analyzing the tags to see just how useful they could be and the vocabulary people use.  Our aim is to provide a useful resource for people who love watching online video and who love creating online video.

It is so fun and easy to use. Create an account for full access or sign on as a guest to have limited access. Either way it’s free, fun and you will learn a lot.”

Click on VideoTag, sign up and start tagging! You’ll not only have fun playing Video Tag, you will feel connected, supported and inspired and by tagging you’ll help a fellow stepmom whose searching for help later. Remember there are many other video categories like Crazy Science Experiments, Tour De France, Stop Motion Animation and The 90’s just to name a few.  I’m honored to have some of my stepmom videos in Video Tag and grateful to spread support, encouragement and inspiration to stepmoms everywhere via video. So what are you waiting for?

Have fun and start tagging!


A little from Stacey: Until the birth of my daughter in 2003 I was working in the marketing and press department of a broadcasting company in London, U.K.   I relocated shortly before my daughter was born and chose to pursue a different career path that allowed me the flexibility to be an at home more.   I studied part time for an MSc in Computer Science, passing with distinction. I was then lucky enough to be awarded funding to continue my research to PhD level.

During the start of my PhD I got divorced, met a wonderful man also getting divorced and became a step mum to his two children.  At this time I wondered in what aspect of my life I was learning the most, it is lucky I have a passion for learning!  I put my PhD on hold for a while whilst I concentrated on building our family of five, providing emotional support to my daughter, my husband and my step kids during what was a difficult time.  You have to know when you have taken on too much and something has to give.  We are all still learning and growing, there are still challenges to face but the journey has become much more settled and enjoyable.  As a result I have the time and mind space to enjoy my work again and concentrate on my PhD research.   My work explores whether tagging can provide accurate descriptions for online videos and whether effective tagging can provide new methods of organizing, categorizing and finding videos online.  For more information have a look at my website

Tag. Your it. It’s your turn to check out VideoTagging and enjoy and tag some stepmom videos. Would love your feedback and I know Stacey would too. Playing Video Tag will enable you to learn and grow as a stepmom and also support a fellow stepmom on her journey. What do you love about video tagging? Did you enjoy the videos? What are your thoughts? Thanks for sharing.

Announcing the Stepmom Retreat

Join us September 27 – 29, 2013 in Dallas for a weekend you will never forget!

One of my favorite types of emails to get from a stepmom reads something like this…. “I’m so grateful to know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Since connecting with other stepmoms I don’t feel alone anymore.”  You are not alone and now you have an opportunity to attend a national Stepmom Retreat and gain valuable tools and connect in person. There is power in community and the Stepmom Retreat offers help, healing and hope. You’ll also leave feeling refreshed and with friends who you can continue to walk the journey with.

We all spend money for insurance to protect our valuable assets like our home, car, jewelry. Our most valuable treasure is our family and a retreat like this in a priceless investment in you, your marriage and your family.

I am so excited to be a part of the Stepmom Retreat. Here are all the details:


Visit to register and take a peek at the agenda.  Here’s some helpful info on the retreat by Laura Petherbridge:

Who should attend this stepmom retreat?

This retreat is for any woman who is dating, engaged or married to a man with children of ANY age (even adult kids). PLUS it’s a great event for single parent moms because if they remarry they will form a stepfamily. Four of the five stepmom hosts have a ministry to stepmoms. The fifth is an amazing magazine filled with practical tips for stepmoms.

Why is there a need for a stepmom retreat? 

Stepmoms often feel confused, ashamed and fearful about the complex issues associated with a stepfamily. They often don’t tell their husband or even a best friend how they are feeling deep inside. The loneliness and feeling of being “outside the family circle” is real and significant.

Why are so many stepmoms shocked by the complex issues they are encountering? Didn’t they recognize these problems beforehand? 

One reason is that it’s human nature to ignore problems and believe that “love will conquer all.” Another is that the kids often don’t protest the marriage until afterwards. And a third reason is because couples inaccurately assume that if the couple is happy, the kids will be too. Basically “They didn’t know—what they didn’t know.”

What topics will be covered at the Stepmom Retreat?

We will tackle the common issues stepmoms face such as: overcoming the day-to-day frustrations of stepfamily living,  co-parenting between 2 homes, and the levels of step parenting authority. In addition, we will address unique issues such as : the childless stepmom, the full time stepmom, how to blend yours, mine and ours, what to do when the former spouse is difficult, and husbands who parent out of guilt.

How will a stepmom benefit from The Stepmom Retreat?

This event will allow a stepmom to mingle with other stepmoms and learn how her feeling are normal, and that she is not alone. It will also help her to hear honesty from experienced transparent stepmoms who have survived stepfamily living, and now thrive. We even have a panel of Dads joining us to share the male perspective. Our goal is to provide help, healing and hope!

Will you be joining us? Would love to hear your thoughts on the retreat? What would you love to see? Who would you love to meet? What would make the perfect stepmom retreat for you? Don’t be bashful ladies… please share! Hint, Hint… this makes a great Mother’s Day gift. Note that early bird registration ends June 1st.… tickets are selling and there are limited seats. Get yours today! Can’t wait to say hi in person and hug…. it’s going to feel like a family reunion (borrowing this term from a dear friend who referred to the retreat as such. She is so right!).

Helping my twelve year old stepdaughter is a continual battle. Not because I don’t want to help her but because I do. It’s because she resists my help.  My stepdaughter struggles with a lot of emotional issues stemming from her mother leaving her, her sister and their dad (my husband). She has built such a wall of protection around her heart that she won’t visit the pain that has to heal in order for her to live a healthy and peaceful life.

When her mother first left, my stepdaughter created a fantasy to explain why mom was gone and to make sense of it all. She has clung to that fantasy even though she knows the truth and over the past eight years she has applied this fantasy approach to other areas of her life. She openly admits she wants life to be the way she wants it to be and when it isn’t she makes it up to fit into “her world.”   

Make believe and pretend are fun and accepted when you are a little girl but once you enter your tweens the fantasy world continually crashes with the reality of life because fantasy cannot exist in truth. When my stepdaughter’s fantasy is “shattered” by proof of the real world, it is very difficult for her to process and because of this my stepdaughter’s lies and manipulation have escalated. She is determined to make life fit into the small box she has designed for it. Problem is, it doesn’t fit but rather spills over and impacts so many areas of her life.

I’ve tried countless times to talk with her. Share my experiences growing up. We spend hours a week in counseling and my husband and I lovingly enforce pre-set consequences for her choices. She calls us mean. We know we are being responsible parents who hold her accountable. She doesn’t like it and that’s okay. She doesn’t have to like it. We understand she has been hurt. What happened to her at a young age is terrible. But she has to work with it to work through it. We don’t push perfection in our home because we don’t believe in perfection. We promote putting your best effort forth.

Her future employer isn’t going to let her be 20 minutes late to work every day because she had a tough childhood. Her future relationships aren’t going to give her a pass if she is verbally abusive to them or lies and deceives them because she’s been through some tough stuff.

The irony in all of this is that while my husband and I have been frustrated that our “daughter” chooses to live in this fantasy world, the reality is that we have been stuck in our own fantasy world of sorts. We want the best for her and have been putting forth our best. We’ve clung to our faith yet we’ve also clung to these hopes…..

“if we just talk to her the right way…. she’ll get it”  

“if we just show her even more love… she’ll get it.” 

“If we take her to the right counselor…. she’ll get it.”  

“If she has the right teachers this year…. she’ll get it.” 

“If she hangs out with the right crowd…. she’ll get it.” 

and our hopes went on and on an on…..

The cold hard reality is that my stepdaughter is not going to get it until she CHOOSES to get it. We can’t force her to change. We can give her consequences that make her life uncomfortable but we can’t force her to change her ways. She has to decide that for herself. We have to continue to be there to love her through it.

What we know for sure is that my husband and I are giving her beyond what she needs to heal but she is choosing to allow pain from her past to control her today.

Tuesday night at therapy, my stepdaughter told her therapist in front of my husband and I that she thinks we like to give her consequences and her therapist responded “I think you know your parents hold you accountable for your actions and you don’t like living in the truth. They hold you to the truth.” My stepdaughter agreed. Those words intended to hurt us don’t because we know who we are. While she says those things once in a while, she also tells me and her dad that she loves us every day. She is tangled inside and it shows through the cracks in her heart and the opposing words she speaks in both anger and joy.

I am loving, responsible, caring, compassionate, hopeful, firm and most importantly for me to understand…..

I am the best stepmom she allows me to be.

I share this story for the countless stepmoms out there who put their best foot forward but whose efforts are often thwarted by their stepchild or the mother of their stepchild. Many stepchildren and/or mothers of stepkids are allowing the pain of their past to try and dictate the today and tomorrow of those around them instead of dealing with their pain. We can’t make them heal but we can OWN who we are. In writing this I noticed that the first two letters of the word BEST is BE…. Just BE who you are and you will BE your BEst!
Embrace what you bring to your stepfamily not what others will allow themselves to receive or not receive from you.
You are the BEst YOU that you can BE and if another chooses not to embrace all of your or in the case of a mom who won’t allow her kids to be blessed with all of you that is their decision and NOT a reflection on YOU!
A good friend of mine Deesha Philyaw  shared a story with me on how she was the best that someone allowed her to be and her words sunk deep in my soul and they came out singing today while I was dealing with some issues my stepdaughter stirred up at school.  Never underestimate what you bring to your family and never underestimate what you can bring to a fellow stepmom. You never know when your words are lifting another up.
I pray that this helps you on your journey. BE the BEst you can be and don’t allow your efforts to be judged by how someone else receives them.


Never forget that you are the best you can be. You make the decision to be who you are and you cannot control how another accepts you. Be you. Be true. The truth will shine through.

Valentine’s Day is a day to show love. This year as I started to think about the day my mind went straight to my stepmom sisters. A group of women who overflow with love and support for one another.

I wrote this Valentine for all the wonderful stepmoms out there to thank them for the love they show to one another. Whether it is on a blog, on Twitter, Facebook or in person… stepmom sisters are blessing each other.

A Valentine Poem for Stepmoms   stepmom love

You understand the journey and share your joys and sorrows

You never judge but listen and offer a loving word and hope for a better tomorrow

You love each other through the hard times

You share advice on how to achieve peace time

You make sure another stepmom never feels alone

You give love to another when it feels like there is none in their home

When a stepmom hasn’t been heard from in awhile

You reach out with a kind word, an offer to help, a gentle (virtual) smile

You validate one another’s joys and fears

You develop trust and gently tell one another what they really need to hear

You encourage

You inspire

You support

You are love

You are a gift!

You may not always have the best days but you will always be the best. On those days when you are down and feeling blue, please know your feelings are real and you are not alone. So many of us have shed the same tears and cried the same cries. We’ve wished for the same things and let go of the same dreams. Together we are stronger, smarter and wise.

You bless all those around you! Today on Valentine’s Day and everyday… please know you are love and you bring so much love to each other. Thanks for who you are and what you do.

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends.
Would you share how the stepmom community has positively impacted you?

“I don’t know if I can do this any more,” whispered Julia on the show Parenthood last night when asked if she wants to continue with the adoption of Victor. As a custodial stepmom who has heard the words “you are not my mom,” and countless other gems from a young, hurting heart… I felt Julia. I’ve lived her pain. I’ve walked in that “questioning” field of what am I doing????

Tuesday night is therapy night for my youngest stepdaughter. Anyone who sees a counselor or takes their child to one knows that therapy opens a person up and with that opening can come a flood of feelings. Tuesdays are hard days for her. Tuesdays are hard days for me. My stepdaughter has a tough time and if she’s hurting she typically lands her pain on me – the mom in the house. One thing I look forward to every Tuesday night is getting home, getting her tucked in and settling in to watch Parenthood and tweeting a bit with my stepmom sisters. 

I’m very intrigued with Parenthood and have been watching since it launched in 2009. They do an amazing job of depicting real life situations in a very raw and vulnerable way.

Last night really touched me. If you are familiar with the show, hold on for a few sentences so I can get the non-watchers (those missing out) up to speed. Parenthood is an hour drama on Tuesday nights that focuses on the Braverman family. There are multiple story lines but the one that has me right now is Julia and her husband Joel and their adoption of Victor. Julia and Joel have a daughter (I believe she is six/seven) and Victor appears to be about nine.

In previous episodes, Victor seemed happy to be with his new family (honestly, I’m not sure why he was in foster care) but he has changed his tune about being with his new family and treatment of his new “mom” Julia. Watching this through the eyes of a custodial stepmom who has lived some of this was both hard and easy. Saddened so many families deal with this yet grateful to the show for portraying it with heart and authenticity.

In last night’s episode, Victor’s testing of his soon to be adoptive mom was beyond rude and mean. As a fan of the show, I’m keenly aware that Victor  is a sweet and loving boy but his pain is to much for him to contain inside and so it is spilling out all over and taking aim mostly at Julia.

Victor kept telling her she wasn’t his “real” mom. He asked for chocolate chip pancakes but when she made them he refused to eat saying “my real mom got me pancakes from Burger King. I want Burger King pancakes.” She was reserved and put up a boundary telling him he could eat the pancakes or eat nothing at all. He chose nothing. It was his pain making the choice.

Victor used words he knew were not allowed in their home and he used them in front of Julia’s daughter. This prompted the sister to highlight this behavior to their mom and see what she would do. How often as a stepmom and mom do we have to balance what we allow/tolerate with our biological children with what our stepchildren do and say? This is hard. Julia’s facial expressions and sighs said it all.

Victor was rude to Julia. You could watch her be patient while his words were stabbing her heart. She was at her breaking point and wanted to give in because she wanted him to eat. Her husband offered support and lovingly told her not to give in. When they walked into Victor’s room to talk with him, they found him eating candy from a box he took from Julia’s closet without permssion. She asked him to hand it over. He refused. She took the box from him and because he chose not to let go he went with the box and fell to the floor.

Next we see two police officers arrive at their home to investigate a call regarding child abuse. A call Victor placed. The officers had to follow protocol. They had to talk to Julia and Joel’s daughter. The officers clearly saw there was no sign of abuse and left. At that point Joel asks Julia if she wants to go talk with Victor. “No,” she responds and adds that she wants to deal with their traumatized daughter and adds that she doesn’t know if she can even look at Victor at that moment. Honest words flowing from this character.

The next day, the social worker pays a visit to the home of Julia and Joel explaining that it is protocal that she visit any time there is a claim of child abuse. The social worker asks the couple “do you want to proceed with the adoption?” Joel answers right away…. “of course!” while Julia is silent. Then she speaks with a pain and fear that resonates with so many who are trying to love a child who is not their’s and who resists being loved “I don’t know if I can do this any more.” She voices her uncertainty of whether she thinks she can go through with the adoption. She voices a fear so many have in this situation.

The last scene shows Julia and Joel trying to talk with Victor. They ask repeatedly for him to stop throwing the basketball but he ignores the request. I believe it was Joel who told Victor to stop, explaining that he and his mom wanted to talk with him. Victor replies again with an anger and hurt “she is not my real mom.” Julia says nothing and turns to go inside. She may have been speechless but her face and actions speak volumes of the pain in her heart. And what happens next is something that I applaud… Joel looked Victor right in the eyes and said “She may not be your mom but she is MY wife!” He stood up for his wife. He backed her. He let Victor know he would not be disrespecting her.

Being a stepmom has it’s challenges and the support and love from your husband helps to smooth out the bumps and lets you know you have a partner on the journey.

While this is a story about adoptive parents on a fictional show, this story line touches the hearts and homes of so many blended famlies especially those of us who are custodial stepparents. As stepmoms, we do not want to replace mom – that is impossible and not respectful. As stepmoms, we seek to partner with our husband to care for and nurture his children and work towards helping them feel love, safety and peace in their heart and home.

What I love most about this story line is that it shows the pain and behavior of a child who wants desperately to have their parent back. To have their parent love and take care of them like this “stranger” wants to. It also shows the pain and struggle of a mother who has so much love to give and is crushed under the rejection of a heart that is hardened to it. Reality says too that moms are more prone to the emotional backlash than dads and this show is depicting that. And I will say again, I love that Joel is not giving up on Victor, wants to go through with the adoption but is SUPPORTING his wife and his marriage above it all.

I look foward to how this story line unfolds (only two episodes left) and most importantly, I hope that any moms struggling like Julia find hope in knowing they are not alone and I pray that Victor’s character sheds light on the pain a child feels when he is no longer “home.”

Thank you ParentHood for writing real life into a really remarkable drama! Bravo to the Bravermans!

I remember making a list of all the things I wanted to do before I died when I was twelve years old. For the longest time, I carried that folded up list in my purse but now it is no where to be found. I wish I could find that list. I’m sure I had things on there like meet Matt Dillon, swim with Christopher Atkins and ride with Jon Schneider in the Dukes of Hazzard Car but I honestly don’t remember all the “fantasy” type wishes. I do remember a few of the more tangible list items because they have come true; go to college, get married, be a mom (although I wanted eight kids), and write a book (did get an ebook published).  

I’m much older now. Forty-three to be exact and my goals and life list have changed. Today, I am taking part in Alissa’s from Clever Compass Life List Project. Committing to the project forced me to sit down and make a list and share it. When I share I am more accountable. It was also fun to make a list that wasn’t all focused on stepfamily life. I am a stepmom but that is not all that I am.

So here are the things I would like to accomplish. Some are big. Some are small. Many I know I will probably never check off but a girl can dare to dream….. Here is my life list (aka heart wishes):

Grow old with my husband

Hug all my grandbabies

Read the entire Bible

Love my body

Get a couples massage with Andy

Feed a giraffe

Go to Alaska with Andy

Go on a short term missions trip with my family

Retire with Andy to a log cabin and motorhome

Visit all 50 states with Andy

Take the family to the Grand Canyon

Write and send a thank you letter to every person who has inspired me

White Water Rafting on the Rio Grande

Get back to a size 8 and stay there

Hug my stepdaughter’s mother

Organize my house

Be bolder in my faith

Finish my kids’ scrapbooks

Find a book agent/get book published

Host a stepmom getaway where I could meet all the amazing stepmothers I’ve connected with in person

Operate a Bed and Breakfast in Vermont with Andy

Go to Hungary

Hold my oldest daughter’s book in my hands (She is an amazing writer)

Help all my kids find and pursue their passions

Be there when my kids fail

Read more fiction books

Learn to accept rejection

Skinny dip in a lake with Andy

Find the woman who cleaned the office at my first job, hug her, thank her for being a ray of sunshine in my life

Speak at Weekend to Remember conferences with Andy

Have coffee with Julie Andrews

Have coffee with Judy Blume

Run a Christmas Tree Farm for one season

Find the right therapist for my youngest stepdaughter

Take a Hot Air Ballon Ride

Go back to Switzerland with Andy

Hear Tony Evans preach in person

Take the family to San Diego to visit my brother and his family

Unpack all the boxes in my basement

Squeeze the pain of rejection out of my stepdaughters

Open a coffee shop/book store

Ice skate around the rink without holding on or falling

Volunteer at local pet shelter and foster dogs

Run a 5K

That any pain I live through can be used for good

Start a non-profit that helps parents effectively co-parent

Host a show on the Food Network

For all my kids to know at the core of their soul I will always love them no matter what. I want them to live and breathe unconditional love

Have dinner with my husband and fellow stepmoms and their husbands

To get a stepmom ministry in Churches

To speak at Churches across the country with Andy regarding stepfamily living

Sew like my grandmother

Finish all the sewing projects I’ve started

Put together a recipe book of all my family recipes

I know some of these will never come true. The chance that I’ll enjoy a cup of java with Julie Andrews is a dream but one that I have. Her professional work and her personal life are an inspiration to me and my daughters.

I enjoyed just sitting down and writing from my heart. The list above is top of mind. Not milled over for hours. If you can help me accomplish any on my list, please let me know. And if I can help you accomplish any of yours, please let me know.

What’s on your Life List? Consider doing one and sharing here.

Now to go work on that list…….

Attitude. It’s a powerful force in my life and in your life. If left to my own mindless thoughts, I could spend my time complaining about all the things “I have to deal with.” This type of thinking would only leave me feeling powerless, hopeless and without any choices. That is truly false thinking. I know it’s a fact that I can’t control the people and situations in my life but I CAN control my attitude towards it all.  

Controlling my attitude doesn’t make my problems go away but having a positive attitude leaves me feeling powerful, hopeful and with choices on how to respond.  Let me think, if I have to choose between;

powerless or powerful

hopeless or hopeful

without choices or full of choices

I have to go with the latter in each set and the only way I can get there is by controlling my attitude.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life in my role as stepmom and one big truth I’ve learned is this; the more I try and control someone or something the more control it has over me!

I don’t want to give anyone or any situation power over me and my emotions.

New Year’s Resolutions are great but the most important thing to remember is the fact that we all have the resolve to accomplish whatever we put our mind to. If we choose to have a positive attitude, we can have one.

On New Year’s Eve, I’d like to share this powerful message from Charles Swindoll with you. My husband re-shared it with me today. May we all have a positively focused attitude in 2013!



Charles Swindoll

 ”The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company… a church… a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”


I know that 2013 is going to have challenges for me. Lord knows 2012 brought a hefty share but my resolve is that I will work to have a positive attitude through it and forgive myself when I don’t and start over the next day.

Are you with me?

Tuesday night I could have felt really sorry for myself. OK, correction; I did feel sorry for myself but I chose not to act on it.

I was a little blue but I knew I had a choice. And making the right choice while not always easy always brings a sense of peace and joy. You see Wednesday my son was having his tonsils removed and I wanted him to stay with me Tuesday night so I could keep an eye on him, make sure he didn’t eat or drink after midnight….. basically mother him to the ninths. But Tuesday is his dad’s night to have him and his siblings so I did the right thing….. didn’t fight it and sent him to dad’s house.

Earlier in the week, I had emailed my ex asking if our son could stay with me the night before surgery. At the time of the email, he was okay with it and said he’d like to bring him back to my house at bed time but he changed his mind and told me when he came to pick up the kids “I’ll just hang on to him tonight. I’ll meet you at the surgery center tomorrow.”While my heart did an ouchie, my head knew that the right thing to do was let the schedule be. And so I did.

Moms, Dad, Stepparents Give Good Care

I could have gone though that whole “but” thought process of “but I took him to the doctor for the consult. But I made all the arrangements for surgery. But I know what he has to do with pre-opp activity…” yet the common theme in all those thoughts always stops me: the word “I”.

Anytime, my discomfort is due to what I want and not what is best for the kids, I stop myself. Surely, my ex-husband is capable of caring for our son and going by the doctor’s guidelines. It would be selfish of me to operate on a different notion.

And those things I did for my son in preparation for the surgery, I did out of love not for a return on investment. I needed to respect the schedule and deal with my mom heart not having him Tuesday night. It was my issue not my ex-husband’s nor my son’s.

I was tweeting Tuesday night about it and was touched by how many wonderful women joined in on the conversation. I tweeted this: ….My check is to ask myself “why do I want to do this?” If it’s for me then I stop. Kids come first in co-parenting.

I’m often asked the key to working well with my ex. The answer is simple, I put the needs of my kids first.

Sadly, I think our society loves villianizing ex spouses and stepparents and they really love pitting them against one another. If all ex-spouses and stepparents were villians there wouldn’t be very many nice people walking this earth. Sure it’s true that my ex and I look at life somewhat differently and there are things he does I don’t understand and I’m sure he feels the same about me. However, I know kids need both of us. When I feel an instant tug of not liking something or wanting something different when it comes to co-parenting, I do the self-check and ask myself “why am I feeling this? Is it because I don’t like it or because it is truly not good for the kids?” I don’t quantify how often I have these feelings but I’m pretty sure when I have those heart tug mommy moments, it’s because of me and potential selfishness and not due to what is happening in the other home. Once I recongize it’s me… I know I have to do what’s right for the kids and let it go.

I challenge all co-parents to do the self-check whenever they start to feel a parenting tug that would pull the kids from the other parent or cause needless drama.

 Will you take the challenge? Will you share with others?


Check out my book with Gayla Grace entitled Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace (available at all major ebook retailers). The book gives solid advice you can use at the holidays and everyday of the year.


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