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?

Put those Kids to Work!

It was a long time coming; it was finally time to put these kids to work! With the oldest being 11 and only living in our house part-time there were some obvious concerns with putting chores in place. Was it fair to make her “work” when she should be enjoying her time with us and her sisters part-time? Obviously her chores would only be done the days she was in our home, so what could you really assign? Need I even mention the evil stepmother concept?

Ultimately, hubby and I decided that what was best for all of our girls was to be treated equally. Just because K was only with us part-time didn’t mean she didn’t need to help out. Easiest way to approach this change in our day to day was to put some hard and fast expectations out there. Included in this, of course was the 3 year old. So I got to work on a list of age-appropriate “chores” for both kids and our Chore Charts were born!


After tons of internet searching… I put together these magnetic chore charts; they live on the side of the refrigerator and each day they start them anew and completion of these chores ultimately means they can have screen time that evening (Movies, TV, iPad). Obviously homework comes first, then chores then screen/play time and some nights, not everything gets done but it’s the order in which things happen. Most of the time, it works.

I loved the concept I saw on another bloggers post (so sorry I can’t remember which) that called these tasks the “ways I contribute to my family”. Loved this concept! We all contribute to our family and these charts show the kids’ contributions.

Do your little ones have chores?

Breast is Best, Right?

Breastfeeding…. Such a loaded topic for some. The guilt, the stress, and it’s not always an easy task. I am forever jealous of those who it comes easily for because with both kids, it was a huge undertaking. 

With little Sierra, four short years ago, I was unable to get her to latch. After many attempts and many lactation consultants’ help, I started pumping while still in the hospital. Still hoping not to give up on the breastfeeding concept, I was finger feeding her for the whole first week of her life (finger feeding = syringe full of pumped milk attached to a tube taped to my finger, baby latches to my finger and drinks milk through the tube). I was told doing this would keep her used to skin contact and I could keep trying to get her to latch…. So, I kept trying!


After a week of a frustrated baby, a few more trips to see lactation consultants, and a syringe that no longer held enough milk for one feeding, I made the decision to exclusively pump. I introduced a bottle and began on my 10 month voyage as an exclusive pumper. Such a hard decision to make! I was guilted by lactation professionals and really what felt like the world around me but I had to make the best decision for my baby and for me, and I couldn’t keep trying to force something that wasn’t working for her. 

So, I religiously pumped every 2-3 hours, 24 hours a day for 10 very long months! It was NOT easy! I had guilt about not being able to breastfeed, but I knew breastmilk was best so I wouldn’t give up. I was going to do what was best for my baby… Was it convenient? No way! Did meetings at work get in the way of my schedule? All the time! Was it tough to juggle pumping, feeding baby and washing so many pump parts and bottles, yes! I got really good at pumping in public, sometimes in the most hilarious places. But hey, a mamas gotta do what a mamas gotta do! 


And then there was my supply… I learned quickly that no matter how rigid my pumping schedule, whether or not I ate oatmeal and took supplements, I was not a big producer. From the get-go I essentially produced exactly the amount of milk baby needed, so the minute she needed a bit more, I had to start supplementing. I was power pumping, reading everything I could get my hands on, and I just didn’t quite have enough milk. Oh the stress of not having enough! But I tried to keep reminding myself that she was still getting mostly breastmilk and it was better than nothing! I knew from everything I read that a pump doesn’t remove milk as efficiently as a baby and I had to keep up the hard work to keep my supply in line with what baby needed. Nonetheless, I had to supplement here and there from about a month old, until my pump and I broke up when she was 10 months old. It was a long journey and it was so hard but I take pride in what I was able to provide for my little one.

I strongly believe that each mommy needs to decide what’s best for her baby and herself, after all, we need to make it out alive too! So no judgement here of those who don’t jump through the hoops I did and props to those who did that and more!

I am 5 1/2 months into a completely different breastfeeding journey with baby Aviana. In the hospital, right away, she latched! I wanted so badly for this experience to be different and it was! Not to say that made it a walk in the park (although not having the excessive washing of bottles and pump parts was pretty nice) but I had my share of bleeding nipples and the like. Not to mention my supply still wasn’t quite enough, even with baby exclusively breastfeeding. 

So a few weeks in, supplementing began again. Most days it was only a couple of ounces of formula she needed and when I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave, my pump and I started our affair again, this time a much more limited one. 


No two breastfeeding journeys are alike and every baby is different! I would be lying if I said I had never wondered if I could have done a better job or tried harder to get baby #1 to latch but I can’t go backwards, I can only move forward and remember that I did the best I could with what I had at the time. 

This is my breastfeeding journey… Tell me yours! 

My Mommy Story

I am a full-time working mommy of three wonderful little girls – Kylie, 11 ~ Sierra, 4 ~ Aviana, 5 months. My most favorite of the many hats I wear everyday is the hat of Mommy!

My mommy story began eight years ago when I married my dear hubby and became Kylie’s step-mommy. Navigating life as a step-mom has not always been a walk in the park, as many of you may know, but I will say that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Four years ago we were blessed with little miss Sierra and then again five months ago with my little Valentine, Aviana. Our family is now officially complete and life as a mom of 3 is complete chaos and I absolutely love every minute of it, even when I feel like a crazy person!


I will be using this blog as a way to document my journey as a mom – hacks to make life easier, stumbles and struggles along the way… If I can help even just one mommy feel more normal, I have done what I came to do.

Woodland Fairy 4th Birthday

My darling Sierra turned four this week, just coming off of her Woodland Fairy birthday party this past weekend, I finally decided to bite the bullet and start a real blog. I have always felt I have a lot to say and now I have a place to say it (the kicker will be if anyone reads it). But nonetheless, I went for it… Please bear with me as I am a newbie at this but with all the internet searching I do for my parties, I thought I might help someone else by showcasing what I pulled together all in one place.

My Little Woodland Fairy

My Little Woodland Fairy

I almost always gear my birthday photoshoot to the theme of my parties, so in this case, of course, a woodland fairy she was! Isn’t she just perfectly whimsical? More from our  Woodland Fairy Photoshoot in my Photography Blog.

And back to the party…

VENUE

We are fortunate enough to have an amazing nature center in our neighborhood and what better place to have our Woodland Fairy Birthday Party than the very nature center where all the woodland animals live. They offered a meet and greet with a few animals and a nature hike which was a HUGE hit with the little ones at the party.

CUPCAKES

Courtesy of my mother-in-law, toadstool look-a-likes placed on a wooden cake stand. Normally I would have built this cake stand but since I am running short on storage space, I opted to rent it from a local party planner. Easy enough to build (and to be honest I might still make one someday but for now, I will be good and NOT add to my party storage).

Toadstool Cupcakes

Toadstool Cupcakes

BIRTHDAY GIRL’S PHOTO DISPLAY

I always display a few of the best shots from our birthday photoshoots at my parties, in this case, I really wanted a super rustic display. I literally grabbed sticks from the park where we were shooting photos, some twine, dollar store flowers and my glue gun and went to town. The wreath I had purchased for another project that didn’t make the cut in the end so I used it to stand up my twig-frames. Now that the party is over I might go ahead and re-attach the photo frames to the wreath in a way where I can hang the wreath on the wall but I will keep you posted as to whether or not that works. I used a whole lot of glue so it’s a toss up.

Woodland Fairy Photo Display

Woodland Fairy Photo Display

FAVORS 

Goodie bags are a no-go in my book… Who needs more junk? I would rather give the kids something that they can play with in the future so, for this party and especially since we have mostly boys in attendance, we made Woodland Animal masks. I was going to attempt to cut the felt with my Cricut but in the end we went old school and printed a template from a stock image and cut out the felt by hand. In the end it was faster than trying to figure out how to cut felt on my Cricut. I have read it can be done but I didn’t attempt it this time. And for the girls (we only had a few) we had flower headbands and fairy wings which we also displayed as decoration.

Woodland Animal Mask Favors

Woodland Animal Mask Favors

And, because one favor is never enough, when I came across these adorable stuffed woodland animals from Oriental Trading, I had to make a cute sign and get this stacked basket from Hobby Lobby. Isn’t this adorable? The kids LOVED picking out a friend to take home.

Woodland Animal Adoption

Woodland Animal Adoption

CENTERPIECES

I know, I know, I hear that not all parties require centerpieces…. I disagree, I MUST have a centerpiece for every occasion. In an attempt to keep it simple, I created these with mason jars I already had in my mess of a craft room. I put some rocks on the bottom (since the event was outdoors and it might be windy) then put in a handful of moss, added some butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, flowers and small wreaths from Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree. And it goes without saying that every table was adorned with a burlap table runner as well.

Woodland Fairy Centerpieces

Woodland Fairy Centerpieces

FAIRY IN A JAR 

Compliments of Pinterest, I stumbled across this Fairy Lantern Tutorial and adapted the concept to something I could pull together quickly. Using my Cricut and some dark cardstock, I cut out the cute fairy. Frosted an oversized mason jar I already had from a baby shower I threw last year, added the fairy inside and added some glitter, flowers and an LED light inside. You should have seen the little ones looks of amazement that we had captured a fairy inside!

Woodland Fairy Trapped In A Jar

Woodland Fairy Trapped In A Jar

And in a nutshell, that was the party… Not quite as complicated as others I have thrown in the past but with my nephew/godson due right around the birthday party date, I had to be flexible as to what I could actually accomplish in the time frame I had and with limited help, should he come early. AND – he came early so good thing I planned accordingly!

Please share your thoughts below — I would love to hear from you!