Baby Shower Tea Party

Seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with my last baby… And while I already had all the hand me downs you could dream of, I knew my friends weren’t going to let me get through without a celebration so a “Sprinkle” Tea Party it was! 

Each friend signed up for a different finger food, all of which were displayed on mis-matched tiered trays on each table. There were three kinds of tea and mimosas served. And I swoon over these adorable printable napkin menus!


Petit fours were inside each of these beautiful boxes each with its own hand-stamped thank you tag…. By far one of my very favorite parties! 

Back to School Teacher Gifts

At some point, I got it stuck in my head that I was going to make little gifts for Sierra’s teachers for the first day of school. Yes, I know not everyone does this, yes, I know I don’t have to do it, but once I decided I wanted to do it, and started looking at ideas online, there was no turning back.

While I wasn’t able to make it happen for the 1st day, I thought 2nd day of school gifts would still be special so I made it happen this morning.


After scouring Pinterest and looking at all the teacher gifts I could find, I decided $5 Starbucks gift cards were going to be it. So, all I had to do was print tags, attach them to ribbon and go to Starbucks. I got a $5 gift card for each teacher, and asked for the smallest cups they had with lids, placed the gift cards inside the cups and closed the lids on the ribbon holding everything together beautifully. I literally threw these puppies together in the parking lot and then got to watch S light up as she passed them out. It’s the little things that help me feel like I am “doing it all” even though I am a working mom. These kinds of little things make me feel like I am staying connected even if I have to sit at a desk all day and can’t be there to pick up after school. We each have to do what works for us…

Fellow Blogger Feature: Not The Average Mama

Today I want to feature a fellow stepmommy who, from what I read on her blog, rocks the house as a stepmomma! So happy she is out there spreading the good word about how she approaches her role in her kids’ lives!

Not the Average Mama

Awhile ago I mentioned about blogging for The Huffington Post. I’m not a big star blogger. I have my own little corner here of the blogosphere and I enjoy sharing with all of you!

Today I am going to toot my own horn! *TOOT TOOT* I’ve been a busy lady this month and to add on to my Feel Good Friday — I’m feeling good that my first original blog post was published on The Huffington Post website!

Check it out! Tell me what you think! Next to my bio picture there should be a “Become a Fan” button! Give it a click!

7 Things I Didn’t Know I Was Getting Into as a Stepmom

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Stop Growing Up!

One would think with S being our second child, we would be quite used to this 1st Day of School business but being the secondary house for K, even though she is almost 12, we have never experienced the ritual at all. So, of course, in my standard fashion I started preparing weeks ago… Made sure she had a backpack and lunchbox ready, ordered some bento-style plastic containers for lunch. Went to Costco late last week buying all sorts of lunchbox type snacks for my picky eater. Picked out her outfit weeks ago and stashed it away so it wouldn’t get ruined in the meantime… Rushed around last night cutting her name in vinyl for her backpack and lunchbox (because I could never just use a sharpie).

I packed a lunch that could probably feed 3 toddlers, just in case, to make sure she ate something. I talked her through everything I could possibly think of to prepare her. Is this really happening? I mean, I have always been a working mom but when I have to leave my babies, I am fortunate enough to have family they stay with. We’ve never done a daycare or school drop off before… Tears? Yes, there were many and they were all mine! How can this be happening? Why do they grow up so fast?

The Shady Lane has an adorable free printable First Day of School Sign that was too cute! I bought a white frame that I can use every year as I customize the sign.

 

So here is my big girl… So ready for the adventure ahead! I love that she is so excited when others might be nervous or afraid. She is ready for the world, I just need to catch up!

 

Alice in Wonderland 7th Birthday Party

Since my blog features all the crazy that is me, and I have obviously been crazy for much longer than the last month, I wanted to find a way to take you all back through time and feature projects that happened before this blog was born. And for my 1st FLASHBACK FRIDAY FEATURE ~ Kylie’s Alice in Wonderland 7th Birthday Celebration… How cute is she? So small!!!

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On each table, I featured a teapot filled with fake flowers and to each flower I adhered googly eyes, of course like the flowers in the garden in the movie. I still have some of these flowers in my house because I loved them so!

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For all of my parties, I always make sure I have plenty of activities for the kiddos. Coloring sheets have become a MUST for all celebrations, I usually print off to match the theme of the event. There are always a few kids who want to stay close to mom and dad or big kids who want to color. These little tins always stay stocked and ready to pull out for each party.

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For the first time with this party, I really wanted very large over-sized decorations, especially since there are so many great characters in this movie and I didn’t want to leave any out. So, I borrowed a projector from work, pulled up character images on my laptop, projected each to the wall, traced the outlines onto poster board and then painted each character in (I know, so time-consuming). But they turned out beautifully and after all, at this time in my life I only had K so I had the time to do it. Nowadays, not sure if I could do all of this with three little ones. But that’s why nowadays I normally pay to print gigantic images for my parties and buy the cardboard stand up characters, when I can.

Who could host an Alice in Wonderland themed celebration without “Eat Me” cookies? My mother and sister-in-laws also made adorable tea cup look-alike cupcakes and a cake that was to die for!

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The favors for this party were fantastic but also a little bit of work! I found this tutorial  by Bakerella for homemade gumdrops. These things were yummy and so darn cute!

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Burlap and Lace Baptism Celebration

I love love love the combination of burlap and lace! I’ve been waiting forever to get to use this theme in a party and little A’s baptism celebration was the perfect excuse. I found a seller who I bartered with on eBay for the beautiful table runners (definitely saving these beauties and adding to my party stash).

I already had a ton of mason jars on hand and Michaels had these little bouquets with the perfect rustic appeal at 60% off. They were perfect paired with a burlap and lace ribbon it was a very simple decoration on half of the tables.


On the other half of the tables I reused crosses that I had hubby assemble for my older daughter’s baptism a few years ago. A new coat of paint and glued on some pink burlap flowers and they were good as new.


The gift table featured more of the rustic fall flowers from Michaels, another leftover cross, a wooden letter A from Hobby Lobby and my favorite gift card box adorned with the precious burlap and lace ribbon. For the runners for the outside tables, I used a roll from Michaels with lace already adhered to burlap. Details, details!


The cake and cupcakes were made by my amazing sister-in-law. More recycled burlap used here from an old project, wrapped around a giant tin can holding more of the rustic flowers. Easy peasy and looks so nice!


This banner I got on Pick Your Plum a while back, added letters cut from my cricut and it was the perfect touch. The hall didn’t allow for us to use any tape or nails on walls so we got creative and placed the cake table in front of this window. The backlighting looked amazing when we took a few group shots.


Something special and sad about this celebration was that the person who my husband and I asked to be baby girl’s godfather (a very important ex-stepfather of my husband’s) tragically passed away a little over a month before the baptism took place. The only thing in my mind to do was to keep him as her godfather. He was such an amazing person, he was so honored when we asked, she was in good hands in my mind whether he was here physically or in spirit, I knew I could count on him. I put together a little memorial area on the favor table to honor his memory.

 

Designed, printed and laminated prayer cards both in english and spanish for all of our guests and they each also received a tiny picture frame with baby girl’s photo inside. I know I am biased but man is she adorable!

 


Kiddos need to be entertained so we brought the bounce house that my parents bought for Sierra’s 2nd birthday and placed it right outside the hall. They were busy for hours! I also put together a basket to put outside with jump ropes, frisbies and balls (almost all items from the dollar store) for the kids to entertain themselves.

And that, my friends, was my burlap and lace baptism celebration for baby Aviana! Time to get started on her 1st Birthday! (it’s only 5 1/2 months away)

Connecting with a Pre-Teen Girl

I know I am not the first and definitely won’t be the last parent to have trouble connecting with a pre-teen daughter. A little girl who I used to have such a GREAT relationship with slowly morphing into an awkward stranger before my very eyes. I know I must have done the same at her age but I simply don’t recall. Don’t get me wrong, I understand it must be extremely difficult battling the hormones and the feelings, the urge to cry for no reason. After all, I am a girl too, I have a clue. But how to continue a connection, how to keep the lines of communication open, how to ensure she keeps looking to me as someone she can confide in as the stakes rise in the middle school atmosphere? Especially when you consider that the two households this child lives in are so different from each other. And let’s not forget… I’m the stepmom. That holds it’s own special kind of challenge in every situation… So what do I do? In my typical problem-solving fashion, I look to the internet to solve my problems and I stumbled upon Mama Jenn’s blog and her “Mama & Me Journal”  Brilliant!

 

So I bought a notebook with a cute rubber band closure, cut out words in vinyl for the front on my Cricut, and wrote my first journal entry to Kylie. I explained that this was a safe place for us to communicate. She could tell me about her day, ask questions, she could say anything she wanted; it would be just for the two of us! We are only a few letters in but it seems good so far. Nothing too deep has been uncovered but I think we are definitely on to something… I ask a question at the close of each of my notes, asking about school, friends, boys. Trying  to make sure she always has somewhere to turn if something pops up in life. What have you done to keep the connection with your children and stepchildren as they grow older? I am defintiely learning as I go here but I will take any tips I can get!

 

 

 

 

 

One of those Mornings…

So after a long night with a congested, fussy baby who wanted to nurse what seemed like every 5 minutes, I then wake up to a toddler who did not want to get out of bed, didn’t want to wear “that” shirt and wanted to bring every toy she owned to her Mima’s house this morning. Crazy rushing around just so that I can get to work?!?!? And if we are being honest I’m not stoked about having to go there either…. In the moment I think, how can I really not have this all together? By nature I am a planner so how do I have so little control over our mornings? I feel like in theory I know what I need to do… get the four year old to bed earlier. Why is that so much easier said than done? Is she really that stubborn? Or am I doing something wrong? As mothers, aren’t we always second guessing ourselves? 


How do other moms seem to have it all together and I can barely get dinner on the table every night and keep up with the laundry in addition to my full time job and taxi driving of three little ones everyday? I am a problem solver, normally on days like this I get to the Internet searching and try to see what other moms are doing but does the answer really lie in another checklist or process? Questioning everything today… Anyone else have those days?

The Secondary House Misses Out

With school starting this week, it’s always a harsh reminder of the reality of our custody arrangement and how much our household misses out on the day-to-day of K’s life; those moments that you can’t split up in even and odd years in custody court… The first day of school, getting braces on, or getting ready for her first middle school dance. So, the secondary house plays second fiddle and misses out. In our situation at least…

Doesn’t someone always miss out though? The whole concept is splitting a child’s time in two, between two houses, with two families, someone is always bound to miss out on something, right? The “firsts” in life can’t be scheduled… Like losing a tooth, for example. In her whole life she has never lost one at our house. Things like that are not the same as every other year’s Easter schedule.


I have always been so envious of those with amazing blended families who share holidays and can all sit around one table for Thanksgiving… We have unfortunately never had that! I hope for my dear K’s sake that we could get close to that someday but it doesn’t even seem like it’s in the realm of possibility as I write this today. Try as we may it’s just not our situation… Luckily, we at least have gotten to the point where bio mom shares a texted photo on some of these occasions and that itself is leaps and bounds further than where we were eight years ago in the relationship.

After mediation, custody court and countless hours of asking nicely and negotiating directly for more time with her, we have never quite been able to get further than our current situation (two evening visits during the week and every other weekend). So… This is our reality. We have learned to be grateful for the pictures and ask for all the play by play from K on our next visit. No matter how much we may miss out on, we try to focus on what we do have and make the most of that. What do you miss out on in your split custody arrangement?

A Step-Mom was Born

Let’s rewind 9 ½ years… I am 22 years old, met a guy who I really really liked, a couple weeks into dating (I know, I know, how dare he wait so long) he drops a bomb… He is a dad! He has a daughter from a previous relationship, she is two years old and adorable and I love kids so I didn’t give it a second thought. Let’s do this…

Did I picture my wedded bliss beginning as a parent when I was so young myself? No way! But here I was, he was my person and in a million years I wouldn’t have it any other way, this was my journey.


From the beginning and as soon as we were married, I took the approach that I was going to do for little Kylie as I would do for my own kids. I never wanted her to look back on her life and see that I treated her differently than the other kids that I knew I would someday have. Not really sure where this came from other than looking at the relationships other people I knew had with their step-parents. I didn’t come from a broken home, I had no idea what that was, but in what I had been exposed to and with the help of Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, at the very least, I knew what I didn’t want to be as a stepmom.

Now let’s stop for a reality check here — This is NOT a popular approach to step-parenting. Bio mom, her family and friends were NOT my biggest fans. She felt I overstepped and who knows what else but this was the only way I could approach being a step-mom. I was an all-in 110% person… And I intended to be that in my role of stepmom. I never tried to take her mother’s place but I knew amongst everything else going on in life that one day when I had my own kids that I was going to be a cheerleading coach, a PTA mom, room mom and team mom. I am a volunteer by nature, that was the person I was, and if I knew I would be those things to my future kids, I needed to be them for Kylie too; whether everyone around us liked it or not. If as an adult, Kylie knew that I had treated her as I did my own, that to me was the definition of a successful step-parent and that is what I set out to do.

So, I did… I was her cheerleading coach for five years, served on the PTA for two years and was room mom one year. Again – this definitely did not win me any popularity contests. It didn’t seem that many thought “oh great look how involved Kylie’s stepmom is in her life”. I had my fair share of dirty looks and rude people who were on bio mom’s “side” of the equation.

With a hubby who worked construction with an extremely un-predictable schedule, I experienced more than my share of awkward situations (especially if hubby was working and late or couldn’t be there). I refused to take the easy road and just excuse myself. I showed up to every dance recital, parent teacher conference and talent show even when it was going to be awkward and difficult. I often told myself I would go especially because it would be difficult, I told myself that was the best possible example I could set for Kylie – Do what you think is right, even when you are going to be criticized for it. Everything I did was with the end result in mind, a family dynamic where all of my children have me as a present parent every step of the way.

These years as a stepmom have been filled with joy, tears, drama, and so much more. I have learned so much about parenting and about myself and I have such a huge appreciation for the relationship that Kylie and I have built without having the immediate bond that I experienced in birthing my biological children. We have had to create this love, this bond and I am happy to say we have it. Is our family dynamic perfect? Not a chance! Have I been without any weak moments or questionable decisions? No way! We still have bumps along the way and step-parenting a preteen girl is not easy but I expect being a biological parent to a preteen girl isn’t a walk in the park either? I’m not there yet as a bio mom but from what I hear, the waters are rough when the hormones start regardless of the bloodline… As a mommy of three girls, I guess I just need to get used to that part! How do you approach your role as a step-parent?