From The StepMom Trenches

Day 31: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

We did it!!!! Thirty one days ago, I said “sure I’ll vlog for 31 days,” not really knowing what I was getting into because I hadn’t done much vlogging at all. A few days in, I thought I’ve got to take this day by day because thinking of it all at once is overwhelming.

Today, I am grateful to have power back on and I am grateful to say I stuck it out. I vlogged everyday. Even in the dark with my flipcam. I took it day by day and I completed my challenge.

Often, the road ahead with our stepfamily can seem daunting. We can convince ourselves that there cannot be light at the end of the tunnel. But there is. In my last vlog of Vlogtober, I’m sharing with you lots of stuff (I totally go off topic many times so please forgive me in advance as I’m a little giddy to have power again) and urging you to take it day by day and focus on the blessings of the day.

Takeaway: When we look at what we face it can be challenging. When we chunk it up and focus on each day, life seems more dobable and the blessings seem more clear. You are stronger than you think. You bring so much to your family. Never ever let go of that. Stepmom friends remember to always Stay Strong and Press On!

Day 30: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

Today, you get a sneak peak into my blessed chaos (title of a book I want to write in the future).

Our area of Cleveland was hit hard by Sandy and we lost power Monday night. I had committed to vlogging daily so I got out my flip cam and decided to interview the kids as we were having a “camp out” in the family room.

Here’s what they had to say about the power outage. Caution: this video contains high drama. The kids were eating dry goods and canned goods all day (i.e. peanut butter, bread, cookies, snacks) and I am putting the silliness of their “priorities” on sugar.

Takeaway: My takeaway during this power outage is that I as long as I have my family, I have what I need. I will never understand why these things happen but I will tell you I felt God’s hand on our family. I felt an amazing sense of peace which I know came from my prayers and not from my own strength. Spent time with the kids. Laughed. Giggled. Played cards. My husband and I worked together to keep the house running. It is never easy to walk through tough times. Looking for the blessings in the burdens does help.

Hope this video brings a smile to your face. Remember to Stay Strong. Press On.

Day 29: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

Today, I am getting my carpets cleaned. While the carpets look good in my home, my husband insists that there is so much dirt in there that once they are cleaned… they’ll look and feel much better.

He’s right. This made me think about what is inside of me. I understand and believe in the power of forgiveness and when someone wrongs me (once), I work through it and forgive. I feel the benefits of forgiving.

But what happens when someone continues to do the same thing over and over? Is there a chance that while we say we forgive, we are building up a wall of protection/bitterness deep inside? We do have to protect ourselves but we also need to dig down and understand whether we are protecting ourselves from future hurt or whether we are we impacting our ability to live and trust other people in our lives.

In today’s vlog, I’m sharing what it means to forgive. It may not be what you think.

Takeaway: Do you have to do some deep emotional cleaning? Scrubbing ourselves periodically opens us up to love and live and gets rid of “junk” just sitting there and adding negativity to our life.

What do you think about forgiveness? Do you struggle with having to forgive someone over and over again?

Day 28: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

When we bring two families together we are bringing together two family histories. As stepmoms, it can be frustrating when we are helping to raise a child with whom we had no hand in laying the foundation during those first few years.

Today, I am speaking candidly about the challenges of merging those two histories as I recently had a reminder when I went to purchase each of the kids’ favorite childhood books. My stepchildren’s mom and I put a different emphasis on reading when kids were younger. Doesn’t make one of us better than the other… just different.

Takeaway: Do you struggle with the fact that you and the mom of your stepkids do things differently? Do you find it hard when you have the best of intentions but it isn’t met with acceptance because you aren’t doing things like mom? You are not alone. Understand that it IS a challenge to blend two family histories.

What is your take on this topic?

Day 27: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

My husband often texts me thoughts he has throughout the day. He is very insightful and plugged into his faith and his wise words give me something to chew on for the day.

In today’s vlog, I’m sharing this gem that he shared with me: “You cannot love well that or who you are trying to control.”

Takeaway: What does this quote mean to you? Do you ever find that you either consciously or unconsciously try to control things in your life over which you have no control?


Day 26: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

StepMom Support Rocks!

Watch today’s video where I’m sharing the gift of surrounding yourself with honest, positive minded women who are stepmoms and/or in a blended family.

Takeaway: Having a group of girlfriends whether online, in-person or both is a priceless gift. It is important to have friends who have your best interest at heart and the best interest of your marriage at heart also. They can cry with you yet help support and lift you up and not drag you down further.

What do your stepmom girlfriends mean to you?


Day 25: Obama vs. Romney: What Message Do the Debates Send to Our Kids?

Today my vlog is a little different. I’m taking on the vlogmom prompt of the week which is “what does the political scene mean to you this year? It’s not about who we are voting for or where we stand on issues but what lessons have you learned from the political scene this year.”

Besides the obvious fact that my recycling bin has filled up faster than ever, one message comes shining through: the impact of role models in our kids’ lives.

What message are we getting when we see two of the most powerful men on earth go at it with interruptions and personal digs?

Takeaway: Think about what your actions are teaching your kids and stepkids? When your children see adults making choices that go against what you teach, don’t slam those adults but use it as a teachable moment to discuss what choices those adults could be making and how that could more positively impact the situation.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of each side (and this can apply to co-parents) telling me what the other side isn’t doing right. If we all focused on our own stuff and spent time and energy building ourselves up instead of tearing another down this world would be a brighter place.

Day 24: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

Truth: We can’t change our stepkids.

Even when we want the best for them and we try our best, true change only comes from within them – they have to want to change and they have to make the change. Today, I’m sharing a story about my youngest stepdaugther. The truth is she likes to draw attention to herself and she also likes stuff. We were going to the eye doctor today and while we thought she might need glasses anyway, she made it her mission to “fail” the eye exam in many ways. Most humorous is the color blind test.

I’m not laughing at her yet stressing that we have to laugh with our situations and understand that which we can and cannot change. Even though I know what to do, I don’t always do it and I see the difference when I “go with it” and when I choose to fight it.

Takeway: WE are committed to our family. We have to love each person where they are and not wait until they are where we want them. Our love can’t change them (we wish it could) but our love is given because it’s the right thing to do. Albeit hard at times but we have an opportunity to show unconditional love. Today, think about your stepkids and about your spouse. Are you fighting hard to change something that you truly don’t have the power to change? How does that leave you feeling? How can you better channel your energy into your family?

Tough questions but it’s the tough stuff that yields the great results.

Day 23: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

“Halloween’s coming and the goose is getting fat,
Would you please put a penny in the old man’s hat,
If you haven’t got a penny, a halfpenny will do,
If you haven’t got a halfpenny, God bless you.” – Celtic Nursery Rhyme

Halloween is a time for kids to dress up and eat candy. It has the potential to create many cherished memories for both kids and parents. Sadly, in co-parenting situations, Halloween can become a time of stress when two households vie for treating time and costume rights. Often, as stepmoms, we step in to help our stepkids when they tell us they don’t have a costume. Many times after we get the costume, mom gets one too and then the child is left to decide. Kids just don’t like having to choose between homes.

In today’s vlog, I speak candidly about how Halloween can bring heartache to stepmoms and offer words of encouragement.

Takeaway: Think of a solution to your Halloween dilemma if you have one. Offer to keep a costume at your house for the kids to play dress up in. Take them trick or treating when they are at your house (ask a few neighbors if they can save some candy for your kids.) Tell your stepkids that you hope they enjoy their Halloween with mom and that you will never ask them to choose between the two homes. Tell them their happiness and peace is important to you – wow! Now that’s a great message to send.

Note: sometimes our words spoken will precede our feelings. Speak positive words and feel positive afterwards.

Is Halloween a stressful time in your stepfamily?

Day 22: 31 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches (Vlogtober)

Margin. It’s that cushion we build into our day and emotional well being that allows for unplanned events to not get the best of us. If you are like me, you have a to-do list a mile long and when extra stuff gets added on, you can get stressed.

I’ve learned that adding margin into your day and being solution focused not burden based goes a long way. In my vlog below, I share some of the things on my agenda today and some of the things that got added and how I handled it.

Takeaway: Do you find yourself getting stressed out alot? Do you think your family would rather have a relaxed wife, stepmom, mom and things left undone or someone who gets to check everything off but gets a little stressed in the process? Maybe you are one of those women who can do everything and be relaxed….. if so, share your secrets with us.

I’ll be blogging more on margin and how to add it to your life next month. With the holidays approaching, it is a blessing to all when we add margin into our life.

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