Entries tagged with “birthday”.

Day 28:  30 Days of Life in the StepMom Trenches

Today is my Birthday! I chose to have a great day. I use the word “chose” because as I have matured in age I have come to some new understandings in life. One of those being that while we have no control over how others treat us we can control our response to it. I have also learned to have expectations with a plan. Setting high expectations without working towards them only leaves me feeling frustrated and disappointed. 

I embraced today for today and I embrace life in my forties. There is something about living in your forties where you care less about what others think of you and it’s an amazing feeling. I often wish I had this sense in my twenties but then again, all my experiences have made me who I am today and I am very content with ME.

Today, my husband took time out of his day to meet me for lunch. It was a sweet treat to spend time with him mid-day.

My oldest daughter made me a clay sculpture. 

My oldest stepdaughter knitted me two scarves and a coffee cozie. My youngest stepdaughter made me a sweet card. My youngest daughter made me three books. My two sons gave me “the love in their hearts.”

I treasure the time spent with my family. When you live in a co-parenting situation you don’t have your kids 24/7 so I have learned to truly value the time when we are all together. I know I took that for granted when I was married to my kids’ dad and the kids were always with me. I always loved my time with them but never truly knew how blessed I was to have my kids every day.

Today, as I reflect on the blessings in my life I am grateful for this wonderful stepmom community. As I was searching for some positive quotes today, I came across this and I wanted to share with you. Thanks for all of your love and support. May this be my gift to you today:

 Only You

You’re unique, amazing
Like no one else
You have the exclusive
On being yourself.

No one on Earth
Exists quite like you
And no one is able
To do what you do

The person you are
The talents you bear
Gifts that only
You can share

Only you have learned
From the things you’ve done
Gaining perspective
From the battles you’ve won

Times when you’ve lost
Have been priceless too
The lessons contribute
To what makes you you

The rest of the world
Can’t see through your eyes
Which is why your insight
May be such a prize

Because you are you
There are lives you affect
Much more than you
Would ever expect

The things you do
The things you say
Send ripples throughout
The Milky Way

You’re unique, amazing
Like no one else
You have the exclusive
On being yourself.

- Dan Coppersmith

Excerpted from The Elusive Here & Now

Lessons from the StepMom Trenches: everyday we are given gifts. One of those gifts is the power of choice. We can choose how we will respond to the day and all that it brings. This doesn’t mean that responding is easy but it does mean that we do hold power in our choice.

Challenge: think about something that is challenging in your role as stepmom. Now think about how you respond to that challenge. Is there something you could do differently that might change how that negative person and/or situation impacts you? Why not focus on choosing how you respond to situations rather than on the situation itself. I know it won’t be easy but see if it makes a difference in how you feel.









As I am preparing for my youngest stepdaughter’s 10th birthday, I can’t help but reflect on the past birthdays we have shared. And the phrase “you’ve come a long way baby rings in my ears.” I’ve grown a lot as a stepmom over the past five years and I realize there is one thing I will never again give my stepdaughter on her birthday or any other day.

You see, the first birthday I shared with my dear stepdaughter, her dad I had just started dating. It was her fifth birthday and her grandmother was in town. She wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese. I had to admit to my then boyfriend that I had never been to a Chuck E. Cheese. I’m a bit of a germ a phob and was quite content that my children had never experienced the giant rat.

Anyway, I picked up My Little Pony plates and napkins, her grandmother made her a cake and the nine of us celebrated with Pizza and a ball pit. I gave her a book with a matching stuffed animal. She loved it. Named the fuzzy puppy after my dog and hugged me to pieces. Life was good.

Flash forward to her sixth birthday and her dad and I were engaged. This birthday was basically a repeat of her fifth. Yes, once again the rat was a part of the celebration and she was over the top with the Pizza, cake, ice cream and gift that myself and the kids gave her. Things were good. This is how birthdays would go with her, or so I thought.

Flash forward through a wedding and an emotional time for my stepdaughter finding out her mom had gotten remarried states away without being invited or notified until months later….to her seventh birthday. This birthday was quite different.

Now to set the stage, you should probably know that I love making birthdays special for my kids. And it’s not about the gifts. My mom did it for me and I love doing it for the kids. In fact, I believe it’s the traditions and little things you do on your child’s birthday that they remember – not the actual presents. I like to make them a special birthday breakfast, bake and decorate a special cake, set everything up in the kitchen so when they wake up – its all there and the “birthday fairy” always visits the kids in the evening, leaving a small, wrapped gift on their bed.

Anyway, my SD was really into High School Musical that year. I made a HSM cake, invited 10 of the neighbor girls and classmates over, made HSM T-shirts as a favor, played pin the corsage on Gabriella and took photos with life size cut outs I had finagled for all the girls.

I shopped on ebay and amazon to find the exact doll and LPS she wanted.

I stayed up late and baked cupcakes to take to school for her special birthday treat. Surely, she would appreciate the homemade touch!

This was going to be perfect, I thought! She will feel so special and love her day. Not!

I didn’t receive one thank you, one smile, one nothing from my SD that day. I was deflated, confused and hurt. I was a bit angry and then felt selfish for feeling that way. I just didn’t get it. My husband showered me with thanks. If it wasn’t’ for him, I might have spent the second half of the day upstairs crying. Just being honest.

Fast forward to the 8th, 9th birthdays….. each one has brought us closer and a few thank you’s. Her birthday is a mix of celebration and sadness for her.

I continue to bake her a cake each year (and each year she requests a more challenging one). I continue to shop for her presents and make her special birthday breakfast and dinner. I continue to hang the Birthday Banner that I have hung ever since my oldest turned one and the birthday fairy continues to pay her a visit on her birthday eve.

But there is one thing that I no longer do for my stepdaughter’s birthday. I will never again set expectations for her birthday.

Yes. I do these things because I want to do them. Because they are the right thing to do. Because I love her father beyond words. I do not do them for a thank you or for recognition.

Now, when I get a thank you or a hug, it feels great. And if I don’t that’s okay too. Because it dawned on me a year later why I believe my SD was so cold to me on that first birthday as a stepfamily in our home. You see, her mom never called or sent anything. She was angry over that. She transferred that anger to me – the mom in the house. How can I expect a child to be happy when they are hurting inside?

She’ll wake up in a few hours and be 10! She’ll be a year older and I, as her stepmom, am a year wiser, a year stronger, a year smarter and without expectations.

Happy Birthday to my dear stepdaughter. Here’s to a wonderful day and a wonderful year. May you always feel loved and worthy.

Well, I’m not going to spend much time writing about the weekend. The warning that my SD’s counselor and Peggy from the stepmoms toolbox was right on the money. As I have continued to not engage my SD’s poor behavior towards me, she has continued to ramp it up.

This weekend she really had her A game on. So did I.  I can tell you that I’m worn out writing this. I stood strong and gritted my teeth a lot and that’s what has zapped my energy but I realize I’m not as worn out as I would have been had I engaged her combative nature this weekend.  I sometimes used to wonder if her behavior towards me was a result of me and my engagement of her. Now, I know that is not the case.

The main reason I’m so tired today, (Sunday) in particular, is because it is my sons’ birthday (I have twins). I focus on each kid on their birthday. Special breakfast, I put our family banner up, make their favorite meal for dinner, etc.  And even though I do the same thing for all my children (including my SD), she can’t stand when the attention is on someone else. And she tried to make today all about her. When they opened their presents, she would get upset with what they got and say “I wanted that” and then rattle off her list of wants for her birthday. When we sat down for dinner, she had to say what she wants for her special dinner, and how she hated their choices. Every time there was a call or a nice word uttered to my boys today, she had to put herself at the center. My boys never said a thing. They are so gracious. I actually feel bad that she is so insecure that she has to have constant attention on herself. It saddens me to see her so upset when good things are happening to others. Her counselor says she is so insecure because she lacks the security of her mother’s love. I understand that in theory, but it’s sad to see it in motion. Sad for my SD and sad for her siblings who can’t grasp why she does what she does – they just see the behavior.

Honestly, I think what is hardest is that it brought back past memories because she does this for everyone’s birthday. I remember my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday. I surprised her with a day trip to Chicago to spend the day at the American Girl Store. That was her gift, a day with me in the big city at AG. I couldn’t even enjoy my daughter’s reaction because my SD got so angry at what we gave my daughter, that she started yelling all these “unfairs” and ran out of the room shifting all attention and worry onto her. I just remember the look on my daughter’s face from joy to “there she goes again.” My SD loves to steal the spotlight but not in a good way. She is her own worst enemy and I really do feel bad for her.

I, myself, am not attention seeking. I don’t like a lot of fan fare. I could live the rest of my life without a gift. Give me your time, kind words and I feel loved. So part of my tension is I can’t relate to someone who is so bold as to blatantly take attention from another. Especially when it’s a child. She can be very brash and unfiltered with her behavior and comments. My husband is great and he recognized that she ramped up her behavior this weekend. It’s great when he calls her back to center and I don’t have to get involved.

At one point this weekend, she ran around the first floor of our home saying “Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins……” for nearly 20 minutes. What was with that? I ignored it and eventually she stopped. Odd but I’m not spending time figuring it out. I’m wearing the full armor of not taking things personally.

You can wear me down but you can’t defeat me….

New week, what will you bring?

Whenever I ask the question, what would you like me to make for dessert? The answer from nearly everyone in my home is DIRT CAKE!

Five of my six children are still young enough that they can bring in a birthday snack to school. My one son always requests dirt cake to be brought in on his special day. Being that I love to cook and bake and make a big deal about birthdays, I oblige.

To me, making a big deal about birthdays isn’t about lots of gifts. Rather, it’s about making your child feel special. Counting down to their special day, making their favorite dinner on their birthday, getting up extra early and making a special breakfast, leaving a small gift by their bed to be found when the wake up, etc…  It’s the time you spend with your kids and the rituals you create and do over and over again that they remember.

Think back to when you were a kid, do you remember every gift?  Or do you remember how your birthday was celebrated?

 … Back to the recipe. Here it is. Try it. You’ll love it!!!

 1 package of Oreos (Use double stuff if you like the cream better than the cookie)

8 oz of cream cheese (sub ff – tastes the same mixed up)

2 small pkgs of vanilla instant pudding

2 8 oz cartons of Cool Whip (thawed)

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups of milk

Crush the Oreos (I put them in my Cuisinart. You can also put them in a sturdy Ziploc and crush with your rolling pin).  Set aside.

Mix Cool Whip, cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl.  Mix pudding and 3 cups milk in another bowl.  Stir till pudding mix is dissolved and thickening up. Pour pudding mixture in cool whip mixture and mix together well.

Stir 2/3 of crushed Oreos into the mixture. Put remaining  1/3 on top. Best to let stand in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. You can decorate with gummy worms or artificial flowers. Makes a great dessert centerpiece when served in a real (clean) flower pot and served with a small shovel. Great at wedding and baby showers and outdoor picnics.

Also, a great blended family recipe. Just like blended families, these ingredients are all blended together but many of them retain their original flavor. It’s lumpy but tastes delicious.

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