SPOT 7 Good Step Mom | Experiences and advice from a Step Mom in training



Roommates….oh dear…..or when a Princess isn’t really a Princess
What are the odds that both our daughters would have room mate problems, actually what are the odds that all three of our kids would? I have researched, no stats on this subject, yet I know it probably happens often that your first college roommate experience isn’t a good one. I suppose that’s part of the reason the job of RA was created.

Our oldest son went off to college pretty quietly and unceremoniously, his Mother pretty much overtook that deal so we really weren’t involved. We did hear from him though that he was unhappy with his room mate assignment. Our son lived in the dorms and worked the front desk there part-time to help pay his way….he isn’t a partier…in fact he seems fairly judgmental of those who are…he’s too smart for his own good in some ways, yet in my estimation has a social IQ of about 3. So who knows really? The situation between them worsened, we suggested he seek help from the RA there. They tried to work it but but in the end they separated. Our son has had a pretty good ride with regard to room mates after that as far as we know. We even met one or two through the years and they seem very nice. Our daughters….oh boy…

The planner, set about going on-line and finding a roommate. Apparently that’s how it’s done now…it’s like or something. She snagged what she thought was a good one and was just happy as she could be. I guess the first sign of trouble should have been where the new roommate was from. We have a certain County down the road from where we live that has a reputation for cranking out spoiled rich bratty sorts….and that’s where she was from. We reserved judgement with trepidation. Next sign of trouble I guess should have been that the girl wanted to control the “color scheme” of their room. Are you kidding me? Nope. So the planner comes to me and says uh….our color scheme is teal. I don’t have any teal….I have pink. Pink goes with Teal doesn’t it? To which I said well sure it does. She said with indignation “well I”m not trying to go out and buy all new stuff just so it’s the right color”. Bully for you I thought…it’ll all work out, I said. As summer wound to a close, and the college experience neared, our daughter decided to ask Missypoo to spend the night one weekend. In she walks….weighs about 80 pounds….all cute and stuff…..shorts up to her chin…said Hi. They shot right upstairs where they spent the remainder of the day until we offered to take them to dinner….she talked some at dinner and our little boy called her “girl with dark hair”. At the age he was, when faced with a stranger he’d hang an American Indian name like that on em. She neglected to thank us for dinner (a big one for me) and actually stayed Friday night, Sat, Sat night and finally left Sunday. She’s a twin it turns out….what are the odds? They talked about clothes, guys, all the typical girls stuff. Off she went and we’ll see you later on move in day. They agreed upon an arrival time and that was it. Let’s turn to our other daughter by way of comparison.

Don’t know how they found each other, she never discussed it with us. First we heard of any of it was when her sister said that she and her mom were invited to lunch with this new room mate and her mother. Ok nice enough idea. Our youngest girl was extremely nervous and anxious of the first impression she was going to make. They went in separate cars for their own reasons and lo and behold our daughter whose new roomie was sitting at a restaurant with her Mom waiting, also sitting with our older daughter and their mother waiting…..our other daughter shows up really late. According to her sister, she was aloof, sort of acted like whatever no big deal and it was a weird lunch. Impressive I’m sure and their Mother and her sister were bewildered at her behavior and embarrassed to say the least. See you on move in day, thanks for meeting us for lunch see you later. That was it. The Queen of the underwhelmed strikes again!

Move in day for the girls was one week apart. The girl leaving town went first. This was funny and pretty sad at the same time. Fist, the girls were supposed to ride together, we were to follow hauling some of her furniture and their Mother was also to follow hauling clothes. Our eldest son had shown up for support with his girlfriend. At the last minute our youngest twin abandons her sister and insists on riding with their Mother who already had two passengers, so our eldest twin drives off down the highway in her car by herself. Their Mother allowed this last minute attention getting stunt by younger twin, we would not have.

We get to the school, park and unload and it is HOT. I mean its August in Kansas. She’s on the fourth floor…yeah! Are the elevators working…I’ll let you take one guess. So up four flights of stairs we go and what do we find when we get there at the agreed upon move in time? The other Princess is already there, already moved in and her stuff is taking up the entire room. Her Dad is in there with her so we all stand there in amazement for a minute…I mean not only was this a crappy thing to do and a bad start, but it looked like this child brought everything she ever owned and her Daddy just stood there like what they had done was perfectly fine. So in this one inky dinky room and just outside of it we now have 6 adults, our two daughters, the other Princess and our 4 year old bouncing off the walls. It was awesome! So our daughter says to her new room mate, where are you going to put all this stuff because you’ve left me absolutely no room. We spent an awkward few minutes helping make an imaginary half way mark down the middle of the room and we said ok that’s yours…this is hers. They had to quickly agree to share our Daughter’s mini fridge which was the bigger of the two and her Dad took his back to his car. Princess and her Dad then silently moved some of her boxes out into the hall, asked us to keep an eye on them and then left for lunch. I assume they needed to go discuss how things were going from their perspective whatever that was. We were blown away. I mean I really think they saw nothing wrong with what they did. What a little…anyway we set about helping our kid get settled…moving her in to her half of the room…then as we headed out to go grocery shopping and to lunch, we lugged other Princess’s boxes back and stacked them on her side of the room. We later dropped our daughter back off, helped her up with her groceries and away we went. Our daughter (always the Princess in our house) had met her match…an even bigger Princess! Our youngest twin this whole time acted like she would rather be anywhere other than with us, and acted irritable all day. We chalked it up to separation anxiety and not being the one attention was being paid to that day.

The next couple of months I got a call from up the road once or twice a week. It was roommatagedon! Things like, borrowing and wearing our daughter’s clothes without asking; Taking all our daughter’s food out of the mini fridge to cram all hers in, putting our daughter’s frozen food on top of the thing allowing it melt, be ruined and made a big mess which our kid cleaned up; loaning our daughter’s clothes to other girls without asking; having her boy friend spend the night when our daughter was there trying to sleep 5 feet away; having her girlfriends over al all hours while our girl was either sleeping, trying to study, or trying to go to bed; re-arranging the room without warning multiple times; things started going missing; putting all her 100 neck scarves on the ladder our daughter climbed to get up to her bunk, our daughter taking them down, other Princess putting them back over and over and over; telling our daughter that she had been pledged by a loser sorority. Just mean, thoughtless, self centered things, a constant diet. I asked what it would take to get an RA involved, she decided to wait out the first semester. It calmed down a bit, but they still don’t really like each other. She’s just started the second semester, they still room together, but I am pretty sure by next year they’ll need to part ways or someone’s going to get hurt!

On move in day with the younger daughter we went in to her room and never to be out done by her sister, her room was on the 7th floor! Did the elevators work? Again I will let you have a guess! So up we go but this time all we had was a couple bags of groceries, some bottled water, a new mini-fridge, some clothes…really nothing in comparison to our other girl. When we got in there, the room was already mostly decorated by her new roommate….who BTW had bought matching comforters. Uh oh. Funny thing is I had always told this particular daughter of ours, the anti-Princess, the sloppy one…you know what you’d better hope your college room mate is like this because no one will put up with your mess. And by all accounts from the brief scan of the orderly way this girl had put her clothes away, the way she had decorated and the photos on her wall…she was NOT the same way. Quite the opposite. So what happens is that we hardly hear from or see this daughter for weeks at a time at first. We hear though from her sister up the road that it was not going well between these two room mates either. Then our daughter starts to come see us about once a week to do laundry, feed in the pantry and she’d drop little hints that all wasn’t well. According to our daughter, her roomy sat her down before school actually started and went through some rules…several of which I guess she had no intention of following herself. Our daughter was supposed to call before she came to the room at night, was supposed to check before bringing any friends up blah blah blah…of course roomie would have guys over who would be sitting on our daughter’s bed when she’d come in…she never made calls before coming up, never checked in but hey….So then our daughter says her room mate had a habit of coming back to the room drunk. Hmm. It’s either all true, partially true or none of it is. Next thing we know, we stop seeing her again so much for a while, and we learn from her sister that her room mate had actually moved out on her. We think it was actually before classes got really up and going. She hadn’t mentioned it, just a feeling. Also I guess according to her sister she was really depressed and having trouble connecting and making new friends. I hated the thought of her sitting alone in the dorm room, choosing to be lonely rather than come sit with us. Her sister said it was because she didn’t want us to have been right, that maybe she wasn’t really ready to move out. This went on a while until our daughter did finally come home and tell us that her first room mate hadn’t worked out but she was getting a new one. During this time our oldest twin and their Mother went to visit her, and for whatever reason our daughter didn’t want them to come up to her room. They sort of insisted saying it was no big deal. She’d been on her own for a few weeks by then. I guess on the way up she said to them, well I really didn’t have time to clean my room. Our older twin said the state of that room was alarming. clothes everywhere, even on the radiator which was on, old food….trash…just really gross. And this is what I had been afraid of for this girl since she was little. What would it look like when she was alone? So the new room mate moves in, by all accounts a nice girl, who has helped our daughter clean and keep the room organized. Our daughter really likes her and is now looking forward to her return for second semester. I do hope this relationship continues to go well because frankly this particular daughter doesn’t handle stress very well and it doesn’t help her perform as well as she might be able to if at least the room mate thing were going well. Socially she struggles but if she just has even one friend at first, she’ll be so much happier of course.

Lesson learned

Now I know part of the reason I wanted nothing to do with living in a dorm and living with a stranger when I started out and went to college.

What does it mean when your room mate moves out on you before school actually starts?

Princess plus Bigger Princess equals Boom!

Princess plus anti-Princess equals gone Princess.

We’re in hopes that Understanding nice girl plus girl who sort of needs a friend equals success! Stay tuned.






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Same as it never was…





It’s the same as it never was…


Like I mentioned before we’ve all undergone a transformation this past year. Our eldest son is about to graduate from college, we think. He went a little longer than he originally anticipated, says he’s double majoring. changed his original major; says he’s got a good opportunity at a chance to be hired by a fairly large employer, working in his chosen field. Sounds good.  His chosen field is a blend of veterinary science and business. We just know what he tells us.  I think we’ll actually know what’s going on the day he graduates and we go to the school and hear them tell us all what he’s earned and how he’s done. Not a good deal of communication coming this direction, we assume his Mother know more….but that’s an assumption. So he’s entering a new phase of his life that involves a new career, he’s asked his girlfriend of the last 5 years to take the plunge with him and move in together.  Her parents are probably thrilled, finally a true commitment!  Ha!  I can’t be hypocritical. I moved in with my high school sweetie too.  I get it, his Dad doesn’t.  Our elder son doesn’t come around much and I hope that changes because our little boy absolutely adores him. I fear though that baby bro came along at a time when there just isn’t going to be much contact between them.  I hope he can find the time to let us see more of him…we shall see.


Let’s talk about easier things first,  The house. It’s cleaner, it’s less cluttered, it’s quieter.  There is less laundry, fewer dishes, fewer messes. Right now anyway I cook and bake far less than I used to.  Little guy isn’t making much of an impact on the grocery bill or menu yet, though he’s working on that. So instead of cooking dinner every night for 5 or more, I cook dinner about two or three times a week and we eat left overs or make due the other days.  Definitely different. Often when local missey poo drops by partially in hopes that dinner might be available. more times than not she’s probably disappointed, so she camps in the pantry and eats all our crackers, cereal, cookies things like that! She too is adjusting to a new us.


Expenses.  Well…it’s an off set so far.  I mean we buy text books and then groceries for them when we can.  We aren’t buying their clothes any more, we aren’t paying for hair, nails, incidentals, no more dances, proms, blahdy blah…No doubt the utilities are a bit less….fewer lights, tvs, less water, fewer showers, no curling or flat irons burning 24/7 etc…When we go out to eat, it’s just us three, when we go to a show…same deal….we aren’t asked for gas money every time we turn around. Or “hey let’s go get ice cream” which really meant can you spot me $15 and I’ll run for ice cream! I am not regularly saying any more things like…whose shoes are in the middle of the living room floor??  Dang it whose dishes are these?  Who ate the whatever I was using for tonight’s dinner?  Am I the only one who can put a paper towel roll on?  etc…I still say those things but only when they visit ha!


Me and my husband.  I think we’re coming off of an exhausting time as a couple.  And now we have the little guy to think about. Being used to sneaking in togetherness when and where we could…and doing most everything we did with the kids mostly in mind…it’s an adjustment for sure.  After we rest up a bit I am looking forward to getting somewhat reacquainted and discovering who the new us might actually be.


Our smallest.  In ways it’s been most difficult for him.  He’s lonely a little I think. He’s become very good an entertaining himself, though constantly asks if we want to play.  I do stop what I’m doing as often as I can because I know how he must feel…we created this scenario for him by having him as late in our lives as we did, so I try to tend him in this regard. I’ve taken boat trips to the amazon, flights to far away places, safaris…painted, molded with play doh, built lego houses and lincoln log forts…gone to sea and looked for sea creatures, been a pirate…learned to kick a soccer ball, throw crappy baskets, fly airplanes… man so many things…it’s fun, and exhausting I won’t lie.  It’s a time I longed for, am embracing, for which I will always be grateful and will never forget. Our boy also profits intellectually I know, by having our full attention, not having to share it very often and his verbal and development thereby is much more advanced than others his age I think.


The daughter who went to that other school calls once in a while to catch up, facetimes her little brother, has been home a couple of weekends and now has been doing a pretty good job splitting her time between here and her Moms.  At first we never saw our local daughter and she never called. Then we found out her first room mate moved out and socially she was telling her sister she wasn’t making friends an was incredibly unhappy. More on room mates in a separate post. I had this vision of the girl sitting alone in that little room, not coming to hang out with us because she didn’t want us to know how unhappy she was. Slowly that changed and she began to come hang out at home more often. It now looks like to us she’s moved everything but her furniture back home and she pretty much only sleeps here, at least during this winter break as she’s either working or with her current boyfriend most of the time.


We never know when the door is going to open and one of them will walk through it.  Especially true during weekends as we don’t know who is in town, who is working, not working…I never know who is coming and who is going.  At first it used to upset me because I was trying to always be ever ready, always have something good on the stove, ready to accomodate. Then I had a little talk with myself to not worry about doing that anymore. The price of popping in is you get what you get. It could be that you get a hot meal, it could be we’re not home, out of town, it could be we have company ot are throwing a party, that we have compaby…hopefully it won’t someday be that they walk in on their Dad and Step mom in the throws of passion…but if it is….oh well!


We’re forging new ground. all of us. We’re going to practices, karate class, basketball games and soccer again for the little guy. I have experience though, this time around. Our youngest seems very social.  We take him for play dates all the time.  I can foresee many sleepovers, parties, team dinners maybe. lots of that coming our way again.  As he grows up and the older kids do too, we”ll adjust again and again no doubt. As serious relationships form and turn into marriages and grandkids.


The texture of my life has become so rich and as our kids grow and change and go forward I love them and wish them only the best.  I look forward to seeing where life leads us all.


Lessons learned


You just have no idea what’s going to happen with your kids.  I didn’t know that, I didn’t know what that felt like and now I do.


My Father must be smiling up in heaven about now.  Time was, when I began college that my Dad sang the song to me…you never call, you never visit.  I would do my best to explain, roll my eyes and promise to do better and the years rolled into years.  My Father wasn’t perfect but he was a good man and he’d say to me all the time…one day when you have children you’ll appreciate what I’m saying.  I do. You were right Dad. You really were.


As much as we may not like it, everything changes all the time. You can fight it if you want.  Won’t change it. Might as well go with it and just continue to be a good influence when you can and ride the changes…drink in moderation!











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Fly little birdies…..




Our girls went to private school for the first 5 years of their formal schooling.  It was a small Catholic school based on community and a sense of belonging.  All three of our oldest children went there and I’m glad for them they did. They benefited from that experience in many ways. As High school began to wrap up for the girls and their last Summer before college came upon us, we were drawn back together with that same group of kids and parents who had been in our lives as routine just a few years prior. One at a time all those girls began to send senior pictures (another story) and graduation party announcements (yet another)  Parents began to brag on their kid’s achievements, their plans for the future, summer jobs and so on.  At one point both our girls got fast food jobs.  One girl, they tried to work to death so she quit, the other actually worked at her job until end of this winter break. Our girls didn’t seem all that excited about that last summer of theirs.  They didn’t spend a lot of time out with friends, they weren’t working that hard at getting ready to go off to College at least until the end. I think we all knew our little family was in for a major period of adjustment…we just didn’t talk about it all that much. Our little boy talked about it…not even really understanding what it meant that he was going to be the last kid at home. Due to schedules and finances, we didn’t take a family vacation that summer, we threw a party for the girls, a combined effort with their Mother, and just hung back waiting on the preparations for their move to begin.  Well finally in July, our oldest twin, the planner, the one who made plans to go to the school up the road, began to get excited.  She pulled her new room up on-line, began the search for a room mate, hooked up with a gal and they began to discuss important issues such as color scheme for the room, what size clothes they wear that they could share etc. Move in dates were right around the corner. Hey at least this seemed to be progress, we thought.  Our other daughter…nothing.  She took in her sister’s new room mate with crossed arms…sort of sizing her up a bit. When their Mother tried to take her shopping for just a few things in preparation for being out on her own, she was everything but excited and grateful and it turned into a big argument I’m told.  I couldn’t help but feel for their Mom. Heck if I’d been her and had been done that way, it would have been the last offer I made to help that girl get ready, that’s for sure. Anyway, no talk, no fuss, no nothing from her.  My husband you see, had made it pretty clear to both girls that financially he didn’t think they had a clue and that he believed they both lacked the maturity to live on their own and really focus on what was important, at least for that first year or two.  This of course was met with silence from the girl going up the road and indignation from the girl staying in town.  She was adamant to live in the dorm, spending an ungodly amount of money unnecessarily because she would not hear of her sister getting to do something like move out while she stayed home. No how, no way. 

SO the summer wound down and before we knew it, it was move in weekend up the road.  I was proud of my husband as he worked up the strength to be supportive and go help her get settled.  When we arrived the roommate was already completely moved in though they had agreed to arrive around the same time….and well the rest of this room mate experience I will write about in another story…it’s a doozie!  Our other daughter walked around like she had 100 pound weight on her head, no fun, complete downer…at the last minute she pulled a fast one, in an effort to separate from her sister she piled in the car with her Mother. so as we drove our car full of her furniture and their Mother drove her car full of clothes, with a total of 3 passengers; our daughter made her first drive to her new school alone. Nice! We got our eldest girl moved in, had a nice lunch out, took her to stock up with food, bought all her textbooks and supplies…allowed baby brother to run around like a crazy person, jump on her bunk, be excited and endear himself to every female on the floor; then home we went. A week or so later, their big brother came back home, and we accompanied our youngest twin to her new dorm room, helped get her moved in…which took like 10 minutes because unlike her sister who took way too much of home with her, this girl took nothing but the clothes on her back a laundry basket or two of stuff.  Her Mother got her squared away with groceries and she ditched us for lunch; then we went back home.  That really threw me. A few weeks before this day she had asked if I would show her around campus as that’s where I’d gone to school. I was sort of excited about that so I said sure!  She never brought it up again, downplayed it when I reminded her a couple of times that we needed to go on up there.  Turns out she had asked her Mother to do the same thing, though her Mother had never been on the campus before; so as a complete afterthought and maybe an oz. of guilt, she called later that afternoon and wanted us to come show her around campus. Actually we just ended up going and getting her text books, we tried to show her things, she was disinterested.  I tried to share a story or two, again disinterested.  I kind of thought why would you ask me to be involved like that, sub with your Mother and blow me off?  Why?  I mean I know when you’re in the middle like that, trying to involve everyone, someone is going to be disappointed.  I so get that. I also know that this is an important time and kids only have their first college move out experience once. So I was trying to balance being there for the girls yet respecting that this was their Mother’s moment. But here again, she has two parents with intimate knowledge of this particular campus, one of whom went there for years and what does she do….relies on her Mother…who was just as wide eyed at the whole thing as she was.  After we bought her books, she ditched us in the parking lot though her little brother wanted to go see her room too…said she had somewhere she needed to be, so we left her there.  It was a real anti-climactic puzzling day with her.  I will write about how the first semester went from our perspective a little later…but I think back now to that particular day and think maybe what we were seeing was displaced angst about this whole stage in her life…and she just acted out inappropriately. Still it hurt our feelings and wasn’t the kind of parting we wanted.


So just as these two girls have always been at opposite ends of the spectrum, here again we have two totally different experiences. I threw my arms around one girl’s neck and shook my head in bewilderment at the behavior of the other one.  This last summer was like an emotional roller coaster the likes of which I’ve never experienced.  Started slow…tick tick tick…went around and around up and down and then abruptly stopped.


When we got home and all was quiet, I put our boy in the bathtub.  When he got out and his jams on, I sort of lost him for a minute.  My husband snapped a picture of what he found then which I ended up submitting to our local paper and they ran.  There he was sitting on his sister’ bed, the one he’s closest to, the one up the road…with his dog…bottom lip pooked out..both of them…looking lost.  It summed it all up for all of us I think.  Life had changed as we knew it….  More to come as we carry on.


Lessons learned.


You never know how things are going to go.  You can script these important moments in your and your children’s lives and it just is going to go the way it’s going to go.  Might as well relax about it.


You won’t always understand. I don’t suppose our parents did either.


It’s hard to watch your kids go through big change and uncertainlty, but you have to let them.  It’s part of growing up and it’s their turn now to start their journey. It’s hard, did I mention that already?


Hang on to each other…support them from afar where you can and pray for them to respect themselves, that they make more good decisions than bad and that they are happy and stay safe.








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Mom doesn’t always know best….



Mother sometimes doesn’t know best….

So our girls enter senior year without a whole lot of hoopla.  Each was working a part time job…were in and out of love with a boy…not the same boy, mind you. They built their own class schedules without parental input (at least from our side).  It wasn’t that we didn’t want to have a discussion, it’s that we were never approached to have it. We gather from things the girls said that their Mom was plenty involved…ahem.  Anyway, we began to wonder out loud whether the girls had looked into college at all.  Neither seemed interested or concerned much about it, there were after all parties to attend, games to go to, shopping to do.  We asked a time or two about whether or not they had looked into taking their SAT exams and got the same lackluster responses.  We tried to explain how quickly the year was going to go, how important all the research and planning was….nothing.  I sat there sort of in amazement at their lack of concern for their own future.  It was as if it was all just going to come…just going to fall into place.  I’ve looked back and can see how part of this is our fault; parents of our generation or at least many of us I think.  I mean, other than maybe making a team (which I do not diminish in the least), what have these children ever had to work for? It has just all been there; the food, the nice warm beds, the parents who care, the clothes, the manis and pedis, the hairdos, the activities, later even the cars, just poof there it was. So why on earth would they understand that it was actually going to take effort on their part to….well….make a life!

Finally the girls let us know that they were about to take those exams and it’s late late late in their school year by this time. We have had conversations by then with several of our friends some with kids the same age as ours and some younger. When asked what was going on with our girls, I must admit some bewilderment and some embarrassment.  When the scores camr in they weren’t good. They were just ok. And of course due to their procrastination. they didn’t have time to re-take the exams and make any college admission deadlines so stuck with those scores as they were. Swell.  I myself began to refamiliarize myself with this whole thing and read to the girls what the odds of being admitted to even local universities actually were with scores like theirs. I just got those looks like whatever, I’m not concerned.  Here.where we live.we have a big time University and up the road we have a pretty well respected Ag school.  Big big rivalry and my hubby just hates that other school.  So when our oldest declares he wants to go there, he also declared Vet science as his area of interest; sort of a no-brainer in our parts so we let that one go.  When it came time for the girls to apply, they each applied to and were accepted at both, one stayed local, another one jumped ship and went down the road, much to Dad’s dismay. What happened next seemed like a whirlwind. While one of our daughters spent the summer hanging out with her boyfriend and applying for jobs, the other daughter worked.  We tried, on multiple occasions, to involve the girls in a conversation about the practical side of the decision of where to go to school; not the least of which was how it was to be financed. Me in more subtle ways, my husband in louder not so subtle ways. The closest we got was being informed that their Mom was visiting the campuses with them…oh okay…and then I was able to talk to them a little about the difference between the effort college was going to take vs high school.  I helped them apply for a scholarship which they approached half heartedly.  To their credit they applied for and were granted some scholarship money and apparently took out some loans but we weren’t involved in that conversation or that process. We were never asked anything about our college experiences, how to approach choosing classes, none of that.  We were somewhat hurt and frankly confused. I mean, one daughter was talking about going off, living in a dorm and then added sorority life and all that to the mix, the other local daughter, never to be bested by her sister if she can help it, signs up to live in the dorm; less than 5 miles from our house. Applauding their independence, yet still very unclear how all this was to be paid for, we just sort of stood by. We felt like we knew what was going to happen and in fact it did…when it came time to pay for things, we were just presented a bill. I remember before we got to that point saying to each of the girls as respectfully as I knew how….look I said, I know you love your Mom and she’s been sort of taking the reigns here but why would you rely solely on the advice of the only parent you have who has never attended college?  I mean I can’t make sense out of it.  I asked either one if they knew what a semester of school was going to cost and neither one did. Do you know what the sorority costs?  Not exactly. Do you know what it costs to live in the dorm? no, but it’s not that bad…do you have a job lined out?  No, on one count..the one moving away. I told them look, you are at a very important time in your life and it scares and concerns me that you have taken no real initiative to research all this, you’re just plowing forward and with your Mom in charge, who is just a doe-eyed about this entire experience as you are.  I just got empty looks and shrugged shoulders so at that point I thought ok, I’m out.

The first e-mail from their Mom asking for money came when she wanted 1/2 the deposit on two dorm rooms.  And this was hard, but our logic was no, you didn’t want us to help before, we’re not going to help now…sorry that’s not how this works.  Secretly my husband plans to let the first year of college go and let them struggle then we will re-assess what we even can do to help. Had we been consulted in the first place we could have told them that since their Mother moved about 1 hour away, our biggest contribution to their schooling would have been free room and board, maybe books…free food…laundry room, but we never got to tell them that.

So we put our big step mom and Dad pants on and helped each girl get moved in…and now we’re in our first semester….let’s see what that has to bring!!

Lessons learned

It’s hard to stand by and watch your kids think they know it all when you know they don’t…and there is little you can do about it when there isn’t agreement across the board with the parents.

Smart people make use of the resources available to them.  People who aren’t smart yet don’t, it seems.

When you’re a parent, sometimes admitting what you don’t know the answers is the thing to do…..more on that later.


At times when it’s most important for split parents to pull together for the sake of helping the kids…and then they can’t…the kids pay.  They always pay…








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I’m Baaaaaaack!



So where’ve I been?


Well let’s see I think I left off somewhere between planning a high school graduation party, college applications and a broken down laptop.  I’m sorry about that to anyone out there whio reads my blog….but I do have much to say because as usual our kids continue to provide me with plenty of good material!

We now have all three older kids off in college. I tell you that as I sit at work on my lunch hour devouring like my 50th bowl of cheap homemade vegetable soup in an effort to cut costs!  So many things have happened. Just to give you a glimpse at what life’s been like for us this past summer, I will be writing about the final tug between the kids Mom and Dad as we see the girls off to college; about a little brother and a Step Mom and a Dad going through a major adjustment period; about poor choices of room mates!  Both girls for heaven’s sake; about children who seem to have no real concept that money really doesn’t grow on trees; about shedding ourselves of old boyfriends and apparently any and everything that reminds us we even went to High School; about the kids Mother moving away but not real far away; about home sickness; about the twins moving their own separate ways at an all new level; about the continued tolerance required of us as parents at this time; about hurt feelings from a first home visit; about the fact that our nest just may not be emptying like we thought; about sororities; about regular home visits sort of; about being cut out; about difficulty making friends and facing truths about oneself; about learning to really stick up for yourself as a young adult… As I said, so much has happened this year so far and it isn’t even the end of their first quarter!!


So for any readers out there, please bear with me as I get some of these stories cranked out.  I’ll be continuing to post now that life is trying to settle back down just a tad, if it ever truly does that, and hey…I got a new Ipad!  wahoo!!!










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A Night to remember…..




A night to remember


I’ve had many nights in my life…and I have posted before about how Step Mama is just sort of there at times. As an example… All three of my older kids are athletes. The oldest one, when he had his senior night for High School…my husband was out of town and for fear he would have no one there representing our side of the family…I left an after work social engagement early so that I could get me a seat in the stadium. I was by myself hugely pregnant and I was no spring chicken.  The kids’ mother and her father, rest his soul, were there sitting a little farther down than I.  Out of sheer pity I think, her Father came up and sat with me, asked me how i was feeling…I’ll remember him for that. I think he was kind hearted. So I don’t to this day know if our son actually saw me. I kind of think he must have though he never said one way or the other. The time comes for the honors and unfortunately for my husband he didn’t get to be recognized in front of the entire school for being the Father of one of the senior classmen. His Mother went to the field, stood with her son, got the photos made, got a flower….no mention of a Father at all. At the time, since to be honest and objective, I’d really only been a part of our son’s life for about 3 1/2 years at that point, I really shouldn’t have expected anything for myself I guess. What did hurt my feelings back then, was witnessing how my husband had struggled to provide all the financial backing to see that this kid got to do what he wanted, in fact to actually fight the kid’sMother on why participation in sports was important and making personal sacrifices so that he missed probably fewer than 1/2 dozen games in almost 10 years and neither our son, his Mother or the school think enough of Dad to even mention him or make sure he got any recognition at all. Sad.


Roll forward and we have two girls very active in sports themselves. I made it to more games when they were younger than I did when they were older due to the fact I needed to see that little guy was taken care of. Sometimes we went, but sometimes the games were either earlier than I could get to from work, or too late so little man would have struggled. But I tried to always make sure they had a hot nutritious meal ready when they got home, and ask how they’d done, nursed injuries when necessary etc. After many soccer banquets and team dinners through the years, once senior night was on the calendar, I made sure I was there. I went with a degree of resignation that I’d be in the stands with our son, and just be there for support. I was happy that my husband was at least going to be able to personally attend this Senior night, as he has been an ardent supporter of both girls and their soccer playing since their very first game. As an added bonus and as a complete surprise to the girls, our oldest son had come to town for the night, from college, to be there in support of his sisters. A very nice gesture I might say, whether he did it of his own volition or whether his Mother strongly urged him too and our little son always likes any opportunity to see his big brother. My in-laws were there in support of their grand daughters. It was even nice whether and in Kansas at this time of year we could just have easily been baking in that sun, but it was overcast with a nice steady breeze in from the North. It was looking as if it would be a pretty good time.  The girls’ team had just finished a pretty abysmal year, better than the year before but that wasn’t saying much. They took the field and one of our daughters moved the ball all the way down, and single handedly made the first goal.  Hooray!


Plan was at half time, all underclassmen on the team form two lines and the Seniors walk through, with their parents and are honored as their bios are read and future plans revealed. I figured the girls’ Mom and Dad would go through. So just before half time, the kids’ Mom comes over toward me and she has been video taping the whole game. Just as I’m getting ready to say sure, thinking I was assuming video duty, she hands it to my Mother-in-law and asks her to. All of a sudden my husband takes our little one, grabs my hand and they call me down. I asked the girls’ Mom if she was ok with me being down there with them and she said hey, you’ve been a mother to them too. Whoa! Huge! So one girl gives her Mom a red carnation, the other gives me one, their big brother takes his Mother’s arm, and my husband takes mine, and we walk down first with one of our daughters, then quickly we ran back so we could walk down with the other one. As the bios are read, and people applaud and the photos are being clicked I can’t help but be full of emotions. Where did the years go? How’d that happen so fast? It’s so cool their big brother is here. It’s so cool our little boy is part of this and that his sisters carried him down the field. Did I just hear what I thought I heard from my step ex? How sweet of the girls to include me this way.  Gulp. sniff.


A local photographer for the newspaper took an awesome photo of one of our daughters holding her rose and her baby brother. I took my flower home, and put it in a bud vase and proudly displayed it on the entry way table. Just before it falls apart, I’ll dry it and someday somebody will find that dried up carnation in a bos somewhere and maybe they’ll get what it stood for to me, maybe they won’t. No matter…I’ll always know why I kept it!


Lessons learned


Sometimes a thing will happen that just sums it up. I have cared about and helped take care of these girls for the last 8 years. In that one defining moment, I mattered to them in an outward way….everyone knew it….and it was awesome!


Even if you feel that your steps’ Mother doesn’t recognize your role much…at least out loud…or appreciate it; I think in most cases she does. I would imagine it’s difficult.


After years of driving into their heads how to be and act proper….what to say, do in social situations, how to say please and thank you to people who do nice things for you, how to step outside themselves and treat people well…the way they would want to be treated….they couldn’t have made me more proud of how they handled their split situation out in the public eye, than they did that night.


My kids teach me things all the time.  Coming in behind them or in front of them to steer them is second nature to me. One lesson I’m learning now from them is to just wait.  If I wait….lots of times, they step up and do and without the prod. Sometimes I just need to back off and let them show what they are made of.  I hope to remember these lessons as their little brother comes up behind them. I feel it’s an important one.


It was definitely a night I will never forget and they did that…..they did that for me!







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How bout that?


Right now the girls are at their Moms. The guys are asleep, I’ve had a couple glasses of wine and I’m sitting here teary eyed at what’s happening. I don’t completely understand it except to say that this is part of what makes women who we are.

I only really lived with our oldest boy for about 4 years, the last of which he was rarely home so though he and I have a certain fondness for each other, I wouldn’t call us close. But there have been a few times since he’s moved away to go to college, that he’s pleasantly surprised me. Last night he did. More on that later. I have lived with the girls for longer, about 7 years. With them it’s been up and down, drama, anger, disappointment, sharing sadness and thrills…now as we’ve had their senior year, awaiting graduation and planning their party, I’m hit with waves of emotion. Look, I didn’t birth any of these kids. I don’t get it. I’m the one who always said to myself steady old girl, one day they’ll fly off. I’m the one who on more than one occasion thought if I have to pick up one more dirty glass or bowl I’m going to freak. I’m the one who occasionally thought oh yeah, go on out and you’ll see…it ain’t easy and you’ve had it so incredibly easy…And now headed into our last summer together before they go do their thing, I’m sitting alone in the dark crying…what the?

Have you ever wondered at how an entire egg can be sucked out through a little tiny hole?  How does a tornado do such mass destruction, tear a house in half but leave a glass sitting on a table or drive a straw through a board? Remember those weird scenes in movies where someone runs and runs and the hall grows and grows longer then snaps back? It’s like that for me now. I’ve been on this crazy maddening, wonderful frenetic ride with these kids and I’m just at the point where they’re about to fly the nest and I’m snapped back! I’m happy for them, terrified for them. I’m sad for the baby. We knew we were in essence bringing him into the world to be an only child but to see it unfolding is unsettling. There’s never a doubt when the girls are here, and no doubt when they’re gone. And they’re gone more now of course. I suppose I’m a little scared because my hubby and I…all we’ve really ever been since we started is parents. We never had an us before there was a we. Major adjustment for us too. The old adage be careful what you wish for comes to mind. I trust we’ll find our way but it will definitely be a new way.

So as we head into graduation week let me say…for all the craziness…we’ve (the three of us) raised two physically beautiful girls, head strong girls. They aren’t perfect but show me a kid who is. May the good lord be with us all as we try to find our new way…every one of us.

Things learned

It sounds stupid to say that it’s all so short but it is…it really truly is.


I see now how my parents must have felt and I regret I didn’t fully appreciate that when it was happening.


Time goes on and change is constant, like it or not. Really we should stop once in a while and bookmark…just enjoy the moment. It’s so hard to stop and remember to do that but we really should. I’m going to try to practice that with little man. If not with him, then who?

When you shake a jar of marbles for a really long time then stop…it’s really quiet.

We’re just inches from these drama queens leaving the roost. Sp why aren’t I dancing?








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18….its just a Numba!


I think I have mentioned before that our girls have turned 18. That happened in January and it’s April…I’m already over it!  I think if I hear just one more time “I AM 18!” I’m going to have a conniption. I mean I’m not so old that I have forgotten how cool that feels. Actually it meant more in my time because I turned 18 in a time when you could then smoke, drink and vote at that point in your life so it carried a lot more weight. The connotations it had were very different. Not to mention the fact that atbthatbtime in my life, I also started college, was working and had moved out of home. Hey I turned 18 in December, graduated High school in May and was gone!  And though I remember my Mother saying I could always come back home, which was an awesome thing to hear, I never did…even when there was a time or two I might should have. Nope. I was in my mind grown, and was responsible for myself, for what I did and was about as self sufficient as I knew how to be.  With what I like to think was a good dose of common sense, a good upbringing, more good choices than bad choices under my belt and a little luck, I was able to go through into adulthood and not look back; though as I say it was always a comfort to know I could have. So for me that’s what 18 looked like.  I made my own decisions, I listened to my parents input and though I may have not followed them on everything, I like to think I always listened and gave them the respect they deserved. My husband, also a first born self reliant type, I’m sure came at 18 much as I did. He put on his big guy pants and did what he needed to do. He worked his way through school; his parents didn’t give him extras, they couldn’t afford to do that. They had 5 kids and a modest income. They provided, on very little money, and though he isn’t perfect, my husband turned out pretty good. Neither of us ever had the talk from our parents that we are about to have to have with our girls, a little thing I like to call “what 18 is and what it isn’t”.  Whether or not they stay or go at this point in their lives, we feel it necessary to enlighten them.  We’ve more than been made aware of their view of this milestone in their lives, it is time they are made aware of ours.

Here goes. Eighteen is about pulling your weight. It is about helping and pitching in to take care of the place in which you live. And oh, without being asked. It is about listening just as much if not more than talking. It is a time to learn and explore. It is the time when you start to do things that have bigger consequences; some of them can be long term and life changing. It’s a time then to really think about what you do and say. You are just starting to build your reputation, to figure out who you are and who you want to be. It is, or should be, a time to appreciate what has been done for you to get you to the point in your life where you can go out and make your choices, and to remember those who did that for you. It is a time to maintain relationships and forge new ones. It is a time to stretch your mind, think about what you want to do and in what direction you want to take your life. You are probably going to do things you know better than to do and probably you’ll not do all the things you know you are supposed to do. Those “supposed tos”came from Parents, other family members, teachers, preachers, bosses, mentors, those you looked up to. Your inner voice hopefully starts to guide you and let you know when you’re doing good and when you aren’t. You’ll make mistakes and that’s ok, you’re supposed to. It’s a time you learn a lot from those. Eighteen is an amazing time and a responsibility. Eighteen is two times nine and half of 36. I’ve seen their 9, I wonder what their 36 will look like! My Dad told me once that after 18 everything starts to go faster and faster till one day you stop and realize you don’t know where the time went. One of several things Dad was right about.

Here’s what 18 isn’t. It isn’t a license to just do what you want without regard or consideration about the impact that has on others. It is not a free ride to continue to eat, sleep and everything else free of charge, then not even take the time to say thank you or act like you even realize how good you have it. It isn’t a pass on making an effort to get or make your Parents or siblings or Grandparents a card on their special day or days. It isn’t time when I will continue to prod you about things like sending thank you cards and to acknowledge when someone else is having a special occasion. It’s doesnt mean that it’s ok fir you to just stop those activities just because the social graces are no longer spoon fed to you. It’s your reputation and it isn’t ours to float any more. It isn’t a pass to hoard all your money and expect that every little thing your heart desires will be provided for you. Eighteen doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you have the maturity you lacked the day before your 18th birthday. Eighteen isn’t continuing to leave a trail of crap behind you expecting that others will just clean up your mess. Eighteen doesn’t mean you have a clue what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean you can continue to be self centered and thoughtless and that it’s ok. It doesn’t mean automatic forgiveness if you don’t ask for it. It doesn’t mean you can continue to live at home without giving common courtesies to those who continue to provide that home for you; such as hey I’m going to run out to so and so for a bit, see you later. That’s not hard nor is it an infringement on your rights to be asked to do so. It doesn’t mean that you can continue to not experience the full consequences of your behavior; your buffers be gone!

Eighteen isn’t an automatic porthole to all that’s great and wonderful in this world, it is however, the gateway to the rest of your life. Like any start point, you can go a number of directions from it. As parents we just hope to get our kids that far; to have influenced and taught them enough so that they have the foundation they need to start their journey into adulthood. No parent I’m sure feels their child is actually ready to be 18. For reasons I have shared with you through my many posts, I have real concerns about the girls. I’m certain I’m not unique, lots of parents surely feel like that. Our girls have a good foundation. I don’t know how they are going to do. They are so different than we were at their age. More advanced in a few ways but far less self reliant, far less sophisticated, far less mature, far less patient and with a third of the social IQ we had. I love them and I wish them only the best. I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything though. I got to be 18 once, in my time. It’s their turn now.


Lessons learned

It’s possible to feel happy and sad at the same time.

It’s possible to feel excitement and fear at the same time.

It’s possible to feel like you can’t take one more day with these kids and at the same time to feel them slipping away faster than you’d like.

Your kid’s 18 also represents a milestone for you as a parent. Our oldest son’s just sort of moved by me. I guess I had his sisters and the baby to occupy my mind so I didn’t feel the full force of it. When I figure out how to describe this milestone of mine…I’ll let you know!  Ha!








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Pettycoat junction!!!






I’m sitting here tonight upset.  I’m not even fully sure why I’m  upset.  But I think it has to do with pettiness.  I’m pretty sure it’s pettiness.  It’s either that or being less than truthful…sort of two faced if you will.  It’s either those things or it’s irresponsibility.  I’m not sure.  You be the judge.  I can go any of those three ways frankly.


Two weeks ago my husband says to me light heartedly…hey do we have plans next Friday…to which I said no I don’t think so.  He said well we do now.  I asked him what was up and he said we had been invited to a good bye get together party with a group of people he used to work with.  A nice group of ladies.  I said ok cool.  I reminded my hubby that the girls were with their Mom this particular week to which he said I’ve already arranged for (insert daughter’s name here) to watch our little boy.  Ok I said.


Today I remained ever mindful of the time at work as I got into the bottom half of my day.  I was run clear into the end of it in a meeting.  An important meeting.  So I dash out,  danged near tear up the highway as I work about 1/2 hour from home.  On the way I’m in a pretty good mood, and my husband calls upset that he can’t find the dress shorts he wants to wear.  Bad mood.  Swell.  So I come in and our daughter, little boy and husband are sitting in the dining room and I can tell from the look on his face he isn’t happy.  For added flavor I’ll say that other daughter had told me she was coming to spend the night so that we could sleep in as she is helping me work a habitat for humanity project for my work. So greet everyone and the air is thick. I shoot upstairs try on four outfits, reapply my makeup, fix my hair perfume up…to come downstairs and have my husband say..”I don’t feel like going, I think we’ll just stay home.  Really?  So I look at our daughter and she says “he can’t find anything to wear”. What is he a woman?  So I look at him and he proceeds to tell me that the girls mother said they had plans, could daughter bring our son to her house. Um… Nice as that might be…probably not.  So in the matter of a few minutes I’m sitting there made up, daughter says goodbye with a genuine air of hey I tried.


In trying to pry out of my ever emotionally forthcoming husband….not! What was wrong, he says the girls’ Mother says she had something planned, wants to know if (our boy) could come to her house…not fair we should always expect the girls to baby sit. I am immediately irritated because these girls, who by the way have always been paid to watch their little brother ( I don’t like it but that’s what we do) in the sum total of the about 1280 days their baby brother has been on the planet, maybe between them have been asked to actually babysit him about 10 times.  Taken as a percentage I have to go out three decimal points to even hit a number it’s so low.  I am not counting times when he’s just gone down for a nap and I put the monitor near them and run get groceries or something and ask if they’ll listen out for him. I don’t count those because really they dont even get up off the couch or off the computer or cell phone to do anything as a result. Those times do happen and no I don’t pay them to sit there and listen. So reality is that we don’t always ask them to baby sit and when they do it’s paid time.  I don’t see the beef.  At any rate my gut reaction is that it will be a cold day in the nether world before I will ask my daughters to ever babysit their brother again.  I figure since I pay a fee anyway…even if it’s their night with us…and I hire a kid to come sit right beside them and pay that kid to watch our son…so be it.  That’s what they want…that’s what I’ll do.  So upstairs I go and out the sweat pants come.  I text our other daughter because now that she’s not going to be with us that night I wondered if she was still going to work on the Habitat project with me. She writes me back and says she’ll be over early that next morning.  To her credit she was. My husband doesn’t get asked out that often so I thought it really stunk that for whatever the real reason was, he felt like he had to cancel our plans.


Our daughter shows up the next morning early WITH a coffee for me.  Knowing her as I do, she obviously feels bad and partially responsible for the night before or she wouldn’t have brought a peace offering. During the course of the day and remember this girl can’t keep a secret…can’t can’t. I find out that babysitter daughter had actually been complaining to her Mom that she always gets stuck with baby sitting…blah blah…so then their Mom sent a text that was hurtful to my husband and that’s why he shut down.  You know what the previous plans were?  They stayed home, watched a movie and made s’mores.  Ok….


I am left with the following possibilities.  1) our daughter who was supposed to babysit lied to us that she was happily totally there and ready to babysit but Dad just inexplicably called her off.  2) our daughter who was supposed to babysit for some inexplicable reason lied to her Mother and greatly exaggerated how often she’s actually inconvenienced by babysitting her little brother, 3) our other daughter had a hand in flipping the evening for whatever reason then felt guilty she did it 4) their Mom just saw an opportunity to throw a wrench in her ex-husband’s (and consequently my) plans and since technically it was her night with the girls, she did.  No reason…just because.


Really none of those appeals to me, which brings me back to my original statement.  Sometimes I just feel bad the way things play out.  I have no control over it.  I don’t understand it, nor do I really even know what the truth is…or what the motives behind my kids or their Mother’s actions are.  I know we don’t do that to them nor to her…create hard feelings for no reason…  It’s not necessary and just drags us all through the mud for no good reason.


Lessons learned


I have come to believe that there are really three basic personality types.  Those who thrive on drama and create it, those who strive to maintain calm water and those who are neither of those two personalities. In my family we have our girls.  One neutral, yet with smart mouth tendencies. The other a pot stirrer.  We have my husband….neutral yet hot headed.  Me, I’m a calm water gal. We clash at times and don’t always understand the others…but we love each other never the less.


Kids need to learn that when they are less than honest, exaggerate and play sides…there are consequences and sometimes it all gets bigger than they intended.  I hope they take those lessons out into the world as they try to operate in it. It’s one thing to cause unrest in your own family…but friends, jobs etc…not going to work out so well for them I don’t think.










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Parts is Parts



Family vacations


You’ve seen no doubt the movie where Clark Griswold gathers his family together and they take off on their summer vacation, set to go to Wally World. They drive all the way across the country to get there, visit family along the way and most everything that can go wrong does. While I wouldn’t say we follow the script exactly…we do at times remind me of that movie when we take our vacations together. Let’s face it, there are two kinds of get aways.  The kind where you leave your cares, your kids and everything else behind and you and or you and your spouse or S O truly get away, and the kind where you take your kids and go as a family. Two completely different experiences of course.


My husband and I have had a small handful of the first kind.  We had a couple before we got married. We went on our honeymoon…maybe a couple of trips in state once we were married and one time we went to see KU play in a Championship basketball game over Thanksgiving out in Vegas. Other than that though, most of our vacations involve the kids.


Let’s start with me.  About a week and a half before we actually leave on a trip, I start the lists.  One is what to take with and the other is all the things that have to be done before we can leave.  I’m certain my husband probably makes a list too…but I’m also quite sure that my to do list contains on average of about 20 to dos….and when the list is done, I to did most every item myself. I’m also relatively certain that my husband’s list is more of an “over seers” list that contains many items he just needs to ask me if I’ve done! Basically broken out, my areas of responsibility include procurement and packing of all food and snack items, all medication and first aid supplies, and all sanitary and paper good items. I also am in charge of the kids…making sure they are organized and not forgetting anything and now packing not only for myself but for our little son. I clean house before we leave, water all the plants, make sure the trash is out, the fridge is rid of all left overs and that there are no dishes in the sink or laundry left in mid cycle. Mind you I complete my list while simultaneously answering about a gagillion questions from the kids so they can complete their lists and my little boy saying mom…mom…mom…mom…without exploding with my inards splattering out all over the walls. By the time my biscuits hit the seat of the car I am tired already. My husband packs for himself, gets all bills paid, stops the mail, mows, tells the neighbors where we’re going, is in charge of all electronic devices and cords, and all entertainment….Igames, IPods.. IPads, movies…music..I this and I that and amen.


Let’s spend a minute on my husband, shall we? Every single time I travel on one these trips with him, he acts predictably the same. He seems to need to get his BP and his temper super revved up so he can actually travel. A few hours prior to departure he starts snapping everyone’s head off, stomping and storming around; everyone else is an unorganized, thoughtless, inconsiderate and dimwitted stumblebum HE on the other hand is the ONLY one who remotely has a clue what is going on, what needs to be done, and how and when it should go down. This is so predictable I have learned to count on it and just wait for it. I’m both amused and amazed every time. Once we get going, we do a run-down, he makes sure he’s left the temp and the lights the way he wants…goes back in and out of the house about four times…then hits the alarm. Once he pulls out of the driveway, he’s actually a lot better, almost instantaneously.  Of course everyone else is so mad at him by then that it takes us all a while to forgive him…but I think unless Dad got really mad at us all before we left to go on a trip it just would seem weird, and we would worry something was wrong with him.


When the older kids were younger, it was simpler it seems. We would pick where we were going, they could exist with packing very little…they would hook up to movies and as long as you kept them fed, you were golden. We would run into things like, the girls irritating the crap out of their big brother, our older son and my husband bumping heads, one or another of the girls whining about something….disagreeing on where they want to eat etc. But we seemed to get ready quicker, hit the road easier and have just fewer complications in general. I have come to think that there is a span of time in a child’s development, somewhere I think about age 5 through age 14 (gender depending) where kids are relatively uncomplicated little travel buddies. They don’t have a whole lot of needs, just want to have fun…don’t care who they left behind really, and just sort of go with the flow and whatever Mom and Dad want to do they’ll pretty much do as long as they aren’t hungry, thirsty or bored. Once the OCD and societizing really kick in, and they can’t rip themselves away from the electronic devices, and have absolutely no patience, and start to have friends, girl friends, boy friends, social networks and love interests all that goes away and it becomes a real challenge to pull the team together to go.


Moving on to our oldest. He’s 22 and out…hasn’t accompanied us on many trips these past few years and I wouldn’t expect him to. Why would he? I mean I suppose if we were going to a real unique once in a life-time destination he might think about it. Otherwise, he’s off doing his own thing and has probably little room in his life for traveling caravan style with a four year old and his sisters.


The girls. Especially challenging now since to disengage them from their social and extra curricular commitments is hard enough, but also they are one week on one week off still with where they reside, so about two weeks before a trip we start trying to get them thinking along the lines of getting organized for it. Of course 3-4 days after a daily reminder, we see that they’ve actually done nothing in response. We do see them watching TV, going shopping, eating, painting nails, taking endless showers, texting texting texting…but no packing packing packing. Almost as if just for fun, and to help get their Dad started on his climb to emotional hyper space…they typically wait until a couple days before we leave and start to ask what they need and where things are. Now mind you this is after being reminded daily multiple times before they get so close to departure day. No dice. Now the two or three trips across town to their Mothers starts. They forgot this over there, or they don’t have the right swim suit, makeup…left their straightener over there…what have you.  Then they make sure that the night before the trip, when they know we are aiming for early bed and up early to hit the road…they stay late at their Mothers, or their boyfriends or whatever and come home to start running laundry, stuff they have to have for the trip. At 51 minutes per load…you can see where that puts us for bed time. This is good though because it is fueling their Dad so…lights out usually about two full hours after our goal time. Business as usual, apparently it is their role to play in the parts is parts storyline.


Let’s talk about departure times. Bless my husband he always says we need to be up and out of here by…..whatever time. He repeats that multiple times and makes us all repeat it back. Agreement! Nearly every time…he’s the last one ready. That however completely escapes him. We never repeat never leave at the time he says we need to leave by. We are on a trip at this moment, which sparked me to write this…we just drove down to the Gulf coast to spend a few days. And I’m proud to say for the first time we left only 15 minutes behind our time. Dad said 5am..we pulled out at 5:15. Not too shabby! Again this is so predictable it’s funny.  We get almost out of town and hubby sits quiet, calming down…and we wait for it…wait for it…then he mumbles to himself but loud enough that we all hear him, something about this family being absolutely incapable of leaving on time.  We just listen, nod our heads and take satisfaction and comfort in those words that give us comfort, words we’ve heard a hundred times before.


We have to have one this…something that happens which gives us what I refer to as the undertone…or spin off story. This could be that someone is mad at someone else, there might be a family issue, or an issue with a friendship, something happening with one of the girl’s teams…a sick pet..someone isn’t feeling well or has an impending procedure….this particular time one of our daughters has been on a slow breakup with her boyfriend that crescendoed last night. She’s not intentionally trying to make it our problem or to be a real poop and stick in the mud…but…this started before we left home…a couple of late emotional nights on the phone with the expected silence from her for the next however long. Then off and on for the last 5 days…regardless of sun, fun, beach, good food, family we haven’t seen in forever, new places, new experiences, go carts, arcades, malls, dolphin cruises..she is engaged in a texting, Facebook, cell phone war with her now I think former boyfriend. Too bad, I know how hard that is…and on family vacation too..he’s a nice kid…just blew out or blew up or something. Unfortunately it caused her to kiss goodbye the only meal we were able to share with my family who lives near where we were staying…headache…that is irksome but I’m trying to cut her some slack. So the undercurrent theme of this family vacation is dumpiteedoo …don’t know who did it to who.

We also have to have the requisite number of tiffs, spats what have you. I am reminded at those times when me and my cousins, who I only got to see for summer vacations, would fall out. My Grandma would always say ok…y’all have been together too much…let’s just ease up and get apart! This is an inevitable part of the microcosm of our family vacations…but I think ultimately we get closer because of it.


On the way back home now with a couple of destination stops along the way.  Everyone is sun tired…quiet…has souvenirs…is watching movies…ready to be out of the car and feeling the togetherness…if you know what I mean!  We’re off to Graceland tomorrow.  Have to! We’re going to be in Memphis!  Then off to Missouri to spend the night and pick up a puppy we’ve been waiting a while for now….then hopefully an uneventful last leg back home! And as for me..back to work Monday…kids back to school Monday…hubby back to his work that day too. We will again have built some memories and in spite of the side event of the breakup…I think, as we usually do, we had a pretty good time!


Lessons learned


Division of labor in a household is necessary to promote harmony in my opinion. When it comes to trip readiness, in our family, where would we be if I tried to pull together the electronics and stuff like that? Off the danged grid is where we’d be. What would happen if my husband forgot to remember all the medications and first aid stuff. No bandaids, Advil, cough drops, sunscreen..and if he was in charge of snacks? We’d have some irritated hungry car riders I’d imagine. If he didn’t do the things he does and I didn’t do the things I do, it wouldn’t work.  We’ve created a system unspokenly and it works for us.

There is a saying comfort in your misery…if the kids executed perfectly, required no prodding and didn’t ultimately make their Dad mad before a trip…I’m not sure what that would be like…but it wouldn’t be normal for sure.


I still ponder about my husband’s need to go into a pre trip frenzy…maybe it’s his way of dealing with stress…perhaps he has separation anxiety and this is how it manifests itself.  Maybe his Dad did this when they were kids…whatever the reason this too…is a comfortable, predictable facet of our lives. If he were calm, cool and collected I would think he’d been drinking..and without the kids and me fueling the situation enabling him to reach new heights of preturbedness…I think he would be lost and we can’t have that.


So you see we each have a part to play ….one of us fails to execute properly and it just isn’t a family vacation!!!


I remind myself to take pictures, plenty of pictures and to enjoy these moments together and to remember…with our oldest boy already out…the girls will be out soon enough too…the three of us, me, hubby and little man will have to figure out what our parts are in the sequel! I trust we will!








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