And She Danced….

Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. ~Terri Guillemets

In the summer we have a month of full custody with the little girls. That means they go from spending four nights in a month at Dad’s house …..to 27 nights in a month at Dad’s house. It’s a BIG change for everyone, but one that we enjoy, because instead of just visiting…….it feels like they really live here (and those on the visitation side totally get that).

This year we had the opportunity to sign the girls up for a few summer activities while we had them. And for the youngest, I found a dance place that did Tuesday night classes for the month of July. It equaled out to almost the same time/days as the oldest step-daughter’s chosen activity for July – a week long photography camp (more on that later).

I couldn’t be happier for both of them.

Bridget is a very girly girl. She dances all the time. From room to room, and in the car (Syd and I taught her that – ha!). She carries an old iPhone around that plays music. She looooooves it. We watch America’s Got Talent in the summer. There is LOTS of dancing. This was a very easy choice for her when asked, “Would you like to do dance class?”

So we trekked to SEVERAL places to find alllll the outfits for tap/ballet and hip hop. That is leotards, tights, tap shoes, ballet shoes, and hip hop shoes. Yes, hip hop shoes. Basically, dance sneakers and NOT sneakers. Dance sneakers have a flexible middle sole. We could only find them in a dance shop in West Fort Worth.

But it was all worth it to see her face on the first day of dance class (I’m really late in posting these).

She LOVED it.

We were a little worried because after tap/ballet class. She is required to CHANGE ROOMS to hip hop class. They assured us they would help her get from room to room and they did.

She made it from room to room. She even showed us a super cute dance move after a couple of classes. This kid is a natural.

*Spoof Photo*

Molly trying to beat the snap of the shutter. Maybe we should put her in track?

Next week is parent observation, we get to sit in on the last ten minutes of class to see what they have learned. Pretty exciting…..

She tells me she looooves ballet the best.

And she is already asking to be enrolled into fall classes. The fall classes are a season, not a month, and would have a recital in pretty costumes at the end.

Oh Summer. I love you. I love the joys you bring to our kids.

**I apologize for the photo quality of these images. I was actually working when she left and had a only few minutes to snap a few photos. Wouldn’t you know the camera was on the wrong settings? Ahh! LOL. Also, I haven’t been around much because I am buried under my full-time job in travel, being a full-time step mom this month, and finishing three photography jobs. I hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon!

Writers Workshop: The Good Dad

1.) Father’s Day is coming! Share something you’ve learned from your husband about parenting. What makes him good at what he does?

What I can say about my husband’s parenting? It is ALWAYS done in kindness and fairness. He is not quick to anger. He does not yell out demands. He’d rather hug than hit. Give than take. And when the chips are down…..he will be there for you. He doesn’t waver in what he believes in. And he teaches our kids that respect and politeness are not just traits of a nice person, but a way to live.

My husband also taught me a lot about step-parenting. I get to SEE my childhood lived out through his relationship with my daughter. She was older when she met him (14), but it didn’t seem to make a difference in their relationship. She was very protective of him from the first time she met him (and still is). She didn’t want me to tease nice Jason, or be mean to nice Jason. We have a love meter (pre-marriage counseling days) on the fridge that she always checks to make sure it’s not on empty, and if so, WHAT am I doing to poor Jason??? Seriously, this is MY biological kid.

I was a little surprised by a teen’s bond to their stepfather, but as I watched over the four years, I can see how their relationships mirrors the one I had with my step dad (minus the good teen years).

I didn’t appreciate all the things my dad (step) did for me (until I was older). But SHE really gets it and appreciates it. Blows me away.

He took her practice driving – many times – while she was training for her license. He took her school clothes shopping, when I had to work and couldn’t take her. He helped her with MATH, no worse, pre-calc, algebra II, and other yuck stuff – too many times to keep track of.

He bought her a new bedroom set letting her pick it out, so when we moved in with him she had her “own” space. He, also, let her paint the walls in her own space a watermelon pink. He took her to get her license when the time came. He waited in line at the crazy DMV place, watched nervously as she parallel parked, and he celebrated with her when she earned her license and passed.

This year for her graduation and birthday, we used his frequent flyer miles for a trip to California. I used my hotel points for the hotel, and even though money has been non-existent, we squeezed out some spending money for food. That was a great gift for her…made possible by him.

When her car was totaled by a reckless driver earlier this year, she went without for three months. We are 10 miles from the school. I took her to school every day (on my way to work – no biggie). But he LEFT his busy important job (I’m being serious), as he is an IT manager at UTA, to get her from school and take her home – EVERY DAY (for three months). Then, he took her car shopping when she got the insurance money on her wrecked car. They ended up buying a brand new car that will last her through college and beyond. He financed the small amount insurance wouldn’t cover, so she could make the ridiculously low payments on what’s left (which will help her learn budgeting and responsibility). Trusting an eighteen year old – wow.

Through allllll that, do you know how much credit he gets for being her father and taking care of her? Keeping in mind he is just a STEP dad and not a real dad? Yeah. Not much.

Do you know how much he complains? Yeah. Never.

That is the job of a step-parent. You love. You provide. You give and give and give, whether you get it back, or not doesn’t matter. They are YOUR children too and you just love them with all your heart.

That is what he taught me about parenting. It is a self-less job. It a job you take on even if you don’t give birth to that child. It is one that brings great joy, despite any of the circumstances.

Sydney with her dad (left), me, and her step dad (right) at graduation

Sydney – just like me growing up – has a wonderful “real” dad too. Like me, she gets to experience the love and kindness of two wonderful fathers that care and love her with all their heart. I am so happy for her and how that turned out in her life.

Mama’s Losin’ It

The Square Root of Father’s Day

Father’s Day.

I have such a hard time with this one. It’s a mathematical puzzle, I can’t solve or calculate.

On one hand, it’s the day I think of my dad’s more than any other. It’s a day I smile and remember (precious memories)……. and it’s the day I miss them terribly.

It’s the week when I see a picture of a bride dancing with her father at her wedding and it makes me cry inconsolably.

I wish for many moments with them. I wish for them to know my step-daughters. I wish for that last hug, and last good-bye – just one more conversation, one more Christmas, one more birthday, one more Father’s Day.

It’s Father’s Day and mine are in heaven and if yours aren’t, I hope you squeeze them real tight.

And yet………

I have a wonderful husband in my life who is one of the BEST dads in the world. Not only to his two little girls, but to my daughter as well. He married me and got a full-time teenager. What in the world was he thinking?

Out of all the horror stories of marriages with teens, and he didn’t run away. He took on the challenge. For that alone, he should be celebrated as the hero he is. But it’s more than that, he loves her like his own too.

Accepting another person’s child as your own is the hardest thing to do in a blended family. For that I am so grateful…..

It truly makes life a blessing and it makes Father’s Day a whole lot easier for me.

My daughter is very lucky to have you. She is lucky to have her dad in the picture as well. Sydney gets what I had growing up – two WONDERFUL Dads. A gift more precious than gold.

So Jason, I picked some photographs out of the archives. Ones that I think celebrate the loving and caring Dad you are. Ones I hope show how much I love the father you are to these children.

The impact you have on these lives will last a life-time. I hope you know how much you mean to them by just being you and holding tight. I am so proud of you.

As a daughter, I can say, there is nothing more soul-filling than a Father’s love. Thank-you for gifting your love to our daughters.


Dad, step-dad, great husband, and one of the nicest guys I know.


Always a helper and support, you lend a hand to not only your daughters, but to anyone else that needs it.


Your accomplishments are always made sweeter by the joy that is shared by your family.


Despite a bitter divorce, you insisted on having a picture of the girl’s mom in their room at your house.


You are never afraid to be silly.


You uphold your dad duties of caring for your children and have never passed off that responsibility. From dinner, to bath, to bed-time book reading you do it all and cherish every moment.


Not many fathers are as proud as you are of your three beautiful daughters.


Not many step-fathers are such important mentors in their teen daughter’s life.


Not many Dads display such fine artwork on their refrigerator.


You are truly our knight-in-shining armor.


We are so blessed to have you.

Happy Father’s Day with love!

Love, Text, and an iPhone

We discovered on long car rides the best antidote for entertainment is not to install an expensive dual headrest TV/DVD players for the children, but to simply surrender hand-over our iPhones.

It works wonders to keep the peace. There is music, games, and a camera. A gazillion options of fun. There is no fighting in the back seat and the only worry is how many car chargers do we have if those suckers run out of juice.

On this particular road excursion, last November, the car ride home took four hours and could best be described as – most blissful car trip EVER!

iPhone!

Then something crazy cool happened…….

My oldest step-daughter (age six at the time) taught herself how to text. The little booger was reading at age four. Spelling at age three. It wasn’t too surprising that she easily figured out the icon, the key pad, and the art of texting. Mostly because of her older step-sister sitting next to her who can text a billion messages a minute and holster the phone in her back pocket without blinking an eye.

I must admit, when I first read the text, I was confused. Why would Jason text me while driving? More importantly, why would he text me while driving and while I was sitting next to him? The message was from Jason. Then, I remembered who had his phone. I took a peek at the backseat and heard a giggle. That’s when I figured it out and replied back.

Our conversation went like this.

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With each reply, the giggles increased, and dang if she wasn’t pretty fast at texting too.

I was completely enamored. They are the sweetest messages!

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As sweet as a bowl of chocolate Cheerios in a heart-shaped bowl. My little text buddy.

These precious little pearls of devotion are what will get me through those days (like Mondays) and step-daughter teen years. I latch onto these nuggets – knowing the future is shaky in blended families – and cherishing the good times. Someday – I might hear those knife-through-the-heart phrases; You’re not my mom! I don’t have to do what you say! I don’t love you!

I will read this.

I will remember.

I will save it forever.

A picture of love via iPhone.

She told me this Sunday (which I heard was un-officially Step-Mom’s Day?) that if it was or wasn’t….she would do anything for me. Really? Anything???? Anything.

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Way too tempting! Foot massages, cleaning, and laundry. Oh the possibilities!

This girl has the purest of intentions when it comes to sharing her adorations. She is such a treasure.

The funniest (and scariest) thing about the text messages that night? Well, Jason and I got to wondering……..if she was smart enough to text me…….. Was she smart enough to text anyone else? And if she did? Who?

Yeah.

About that.

She DID text someone else.

Her Mom.

Jason’s ex-wife.

Thankfully, the message wasn’t near as descriptive as mine, because HONESTLY? What would she have possibly thought getting a text message from her now married ex-husband chock full of affection for her? I can only imagine. Ummm, yikes!

When we read the text Molly sent to her, it wasn’t near as bad as we thought. Instead of being downright awkward, it only bordered sheer creepiness.

The text read: Goodnight.

Love, text, and an iPhone.

Don’t you just love technology and super smart children?

Have you ever gotten (or sent) any embarrassing texts?

**this post courtesy of my iPhone photo gallery**