Still blending over here.

Blended families. I hate the phrase, but until we can come up with a better one. There it is.

I have found as a step-mother, that there is very little I can do to control how my step-children feel about me. There are so many elements at play beyond my control that my only choice is to cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

One thing I have learned lately… I can’t parent them the same way.

You can yell at your own kids for leaving their shit all over the house and it’s okay. Well, Benjamin is used to it anyway. He knows that if he leaves a pile of his stuff in the middle of the kitchen floor after school “mom will freak out.” Then he glares at me, tells me I am being mean (rightfully so) and huffs off. But, when I scold Lily and Cohen for the same offense their reaction is looking at me with darted eyes filled with fear. I immediately feel terribly and wish I could recant.

Their relationship with their mother dictates my relationship with them.

This revelation has been like finding a clue in the midst of a dark, dark cave of the unknown. Now there is a little sliver of light to a better understanding and I only hope I can find more and turn on more lights before they are teenagers and all hell breaks loose.

Until then, would you look at this bunch?

TheKids--blended family

All big and stuff. My amazing husband took this picture, running down to capture them on the fence before their first day of fifth and third grades.

xoxo,

Alaina (the evil step-mother).

With child (and partner)

I can officially say, speaking from experience, that having a baby alone is infinitely more challenging than having a baby with a partner. I always fantasized about what it would be like. But at the same time, I remember – I knew being a single mother was easier than being with my ex and in a toxic relationship. I was right in that. For sure.

Here is my parenting pain scale:

- Parenting with a partner (it’s hard and demanding)
– Parenting solo (it’s incredibly hard and demanding)
– Parenting with an asshole (trumps both of the above and then multiply the pain by 100)

I say “parenting with a partner” because parenthood really is a partnership. You have to be on the same page at all times. And if you aren’t, you have to have the capacity to understand each other, forgive each other and move on to the next moment. You have to be able to let each other sleep in, or go out for a night or work without guilt. There are about a million things you need to do for each other to succeed as parents together, but from what I can tell – so early in my co-parenting relationship – all of these things center around trust, respect and love. If you have all three – you’re set. Without one of them – you’re doomed.

In Seth I have found everything I ever dreamed of having in a partner. At night, he wakes up with the baby if I can’t. During the day, he stays home with the kids so I can trot off to the office without worry. And, astonishingly, he never complains, not even on Fridays when he’s just about had it with all of them. And he always, always offers me hugs and love and support – even in my darkest moments he is there for me, unwavering.

To all of the single mamas out there (one day too late) – happy mother’s day and happy father’s day. In many cases, you are both and you deserve two days to celebrate your strength. And no, you are not imagining it, being a single mom is by far one the most challenging things any one person could ever face. Remember to trust yourself, respect yourself and love yourself. Do that first and love with someone else will follow.

And to Seth, you are a treasure among men. I am so lucky to have you… Happy Father’s Day (one day too late).

xoxo

Alaina

Compromises

“Do you think you’d be able to get into another long term relationship if I died?” She asks, paintbrush in hand, priming on the intricate diamond pattern playroom doors.

“Fuck no. I’m gonna grow my beard duck dynasty long, start chain smoking, and Read More…

Yellow Rose

During the first few weeks we couldn’t believe it was ours. 

We walked from room to room just shaking our heads in disbelief. We had convinced ourselves we would have to wait years to buy a larger home and we had also convinced ourselves we would never find anything this unique, view this magical…

We don’t know much of the history yet.

When a house has been around as long as this one has, it’s humbling to know we are just another family between the walls. There were so many more before us and there will be even more to come. How many babies grew up here? How many mothers tucked their little ones in at night in the same rooms? How many fathers scolded their boys for slamming the doors?

The family before us bought the house in the 1960’s and when they did, according to their daughter and son-in-law, everyone thought they were nuts. The place was in shambles. But, they set out to make the house over and build an addition. With their several children as inspiration they built in secret passages and little pint sized nooks that only little kids can fit into. Bud and Mary Stimel raised their children here and eventually left the world here.

I can’t say I blame them. And just like I knew Seth was my soul mate the moment I laid eyes on him, I know this house is where we will live most of our lives, if not – our entire lives.

We have our first before and after picture for you!!!

I give you … the dining area when we moved in. I stole this from Zillow because I, of course, didn’t take my own before pictures. This is the dining section of the kitchen.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 8.29.10 PM

And now… after three weeks of painting (and we still have another coat or two to go) – here is the dining area again. We still have the sitting area by the bay windows and the entire kitchen to finish, but hey! this is progress! Read More…

This place.

We have been too busy living to blog.

But here is a picture of my sweetest little Foster.

FosterSweetFaceEveryone has adjusted to his presence. All three of his brothers and sisters adore him.

And Archer is always near (this shot is from yesterday)

Foster and Archer

FosterandArcherStretch

Life is just flying by and there hasn’t been enough time to blog. That’s not okay… this is my forced journalling, this web really. If I don’t do it here, buy I don’t do it anywhere and then all is lost. The details that make up the memories will be harder to patch together later.

xoxo

Alaina

We have been too busy living to blog.

But here is a picture of my sweetest little Foster.

FosterSweetFaceEveryone has adjusted to his presence. All three of his brothers and sisters adore him.

And Archer is always near (this shot is from yesterday)

Foster and Archer

FosterandArcherStretch

Life is just flying by and there hasn’t been enough time to blog. That’s not okay… this is my forced journalling, viagra dosage really. If I don’t do it here, website I don’t do it anywhere and then all is lost. The details that make up the memories will be harder to patch together later.

xoxo

Alaina

Assuming, here of course, case you are married to a wonderful manperson.

I can now say with authority that having a baby with a man who supports and loves you both to the ends of the Earth is divinely easy compared to having one solo.

Raising Benjamin now feels like a lifetime ago… But sometimes she I am holding Foster I forget he isn’t Benjamin. “Oh, viagra dosage right, this is a different baby entirely.”

Benjamin, the seven year old seems frighteningly huge to me. His big, brown eyes watch me closely as I tend to baby Foster. He reaches out to touch Foster’s cheeks and between asking him if he has washed his hands in one second and reaching for a diaper in another, I drink in the view, hoping I can preserve this moment forever and open it whenever I need to feel pure joy but knowing it will be gone just as quickly. Benjamin is the evidence. Time has no mercy.

He is still adjusting to the idea that I am not solely his anymore. That he has to share me with Seth, Lily, Cohen and now Foster. When he says to me, “Mama, I wish sometimes it was just you and me again.” I say back, “me, too, my love. I miss those days as much as you do.”

“You do?” He asks, surprised.

“Yes! Of course – we had so much fun.” Then tell tales of our adventures and he soaks them up like a sponge, chiming in with his own.

“But,” I add, “Do you know what you wanted more than anything then?”

“What?” He asks.

“A dad.”

His eyes look off into the distance and then back at me. I continue, “and brothers and sisters.”

“Yeah,” he concedes.

“And you know what? When you are 10 you are going to tell me how much you miss being 7. It’s just the way life works. Things are always changing and we all always miss the times before the change.”

He is so strong and brave, my little Benjamin. I wonder how different Foster will be…. Having a mother he shares from the start.

Xoxo mamas, thinking of you out there…

Alaina
Assuming, case of course, you are married to a wonderful manperson.

I can now say with authority that having a baby with a man who supports and loves you both to the ends of the Earth is divinely easy compared to having one solo.

Raising Benjamin now feels like a lifetime ago… But sometimes she I am holding Foster I forget he isn’t Benjamin. “Oh, right, this is a different baby entirely.”

Benjamin, the seven year old seems frighteningly huge to me. His big, brown eyes watch me closely as I tend to baby Foster. He reaches out to touch Foster’s cheeks and between asking him if he has washed his hands in one second and reaching for a diaper in another, I drink in the view, hoping I can preserve this moment forever and open it whenever I need to feel pure joy but knowing it will be gone just as quickly. Benjamin is the evidence. Time has no mercy.

He is still adjusting to the idea that I am not solely his anymore. That he has to share me with Seth, Lily, Cohen and now Foster. When he says to me, “Mama, I wish sometimes it was just you and me again.” I say back, “me, too, my love. I miss those days as much as you do.”

“You do?” He asks, surprised.

“Yes! Of course – we had so much fun.” Then tell tales of our adventures and he soaks them up like a sponge, chiming in with his own.

“But,” I add, “Do you know what you wanted more than anything then?”

“What?” He asks.

“A dad.”

His eyes look off into the distance and then back at me. I continue, “and brothers and sisters.”

“Yeah,” he concedes.

“And you know what? When you are 10 you are going to tell me how much you miss being 7. It’s just the way life works. Things are always changing and we all always miss the times before the change.”

He is so strong and brave, my little Benjamin. I wonder how different Foster will be…. Having a mother he shares from the start.

Xoxo mamas, thinking of you out there…

Alaina
We had been searching online for months– for more space, rx for a home that could accommodate our growing family, diagnosis now at a head count of six, cost were were all living in a charming, but absolutely tiny 1200 square foot house. The effort to find a larger and affordable alternative seemed futile. Every search result inevitably produced McMansion A or McMansion B. Same houses, different floor plans and all situated in a suburb 25 minutes North of Downtown Columbus.

Seth and I both grew up in century-old houses with solid wood floors, creaky old doors with bronze handles worn by the hands of previous owners, quiet nooks and massive wooded yards. In our childhood homes, imaginations could run wild and we were constantly entertained. A newer house without a private yard was out of the question.

So we waited, refusing to settle.

When Foster arrived our online searches became more frequent. 1200 square ft now felt like 800 and we were literally tripping over each other. Bathroom jams were a frequent occurrence and I thought I was going to lose mind. And then one night, when Foster was about two weeks old- we found it in an expanded Zillow search to include another county near ours.

The big, yellow house.

We were both shocked that it was actually available. It has to be sold, we thought. This listing can’t be accurate. We scoured through the listing, trying to figure out why no one had snagged her up. Yes, the rooms were old. Yes, it needed work – but “Hello, World!” would you look at her?

20131211-145630.jpg

The next day, we booked a showing. When I walked in, with baby Foster in my arms, the realtor didn’t have much of a sales pitch.  Read More…

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