Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]


The other day, I ran across a blog post about Pinterest.  H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.  I don't know this woman, but I related to nearly every word she said... and I admired the blunt and brutally honest way she said them!

I love Pinterest. I often find myself lying in bed at night browsing the fun ideas while watching the Friends marathon on Nick at Nite (which, by the way, still makes me giggle out loud -- I miss that show!)   It's inspiring. (Pinterest... not Friends.) Or at least it is supposed to be.

There are moments when I find myself slipping from "being inspired" mode to "feeling inadequate" mode. You know, like when I saw the incredibly awesome monthly shots of a pregnant mom (who, of course, only looked pregnant in her tummy, and not in her face, hands, legs and feet) and had her adorable 2-year-old daughter peek in and touch her perfectly round tummy on the 9th month... that's when the "inadequate" mode set in.

I try to recognize the mode switch. Sometimes when it happens, I think of an excuse of why that isn't "mine"... (like the fact that when I was pregnant, I was miserable and felt like throwing up nearly every second of the day, and taking a picture of myself was on my list of to-do's, just under "smack my head against the bathroom wall.")

Then I remind myself that excuses aren't the way to go... (not quite the positive spin I was searching for) so I feel happy for the person who's "pin" it is... "Wow, I bet that Mom is so incredibly happy she has those amazing pics of her pregnant days!"

Yeah, that's better.

Sometimes, a pin is easy to pass by.... either the style of it just isn't me (I don't think a lamp made out of plastic spoons says 'Carin.') or the usefulness escapes me  (I just don't know that I would use a pot-holder-cleverly-and-cutely-turned-cell-phone-case.)

But then comes the fun stuff... the easy stuff... the do-able stuff.

Something I can print and stick in a frame I already have in my storage room and put up for Valentine's Day and look all festive?  I'm IN!

And when I saw these, I knew I could pull it off.

There it is. Inspiration.

That's the mode I want.

So, tomorrow morning, the kiddos will wake up to mail in their mailboxes.... a note about something we love about them.

Mail every day until Valentine's Day unless I forget a day in which I will make up an excuse that my head had so many ideas of what I loved about them that I couldn't choose and that they would have two notes in their mailbox the next day.

So, thank you Pinterest. 

I'll pass by the photos of the elaborate backyard patio draped with gorgeous fabrics and decorated in hand-made flowers, and the blanket sewn from clothing from someone's first-born's first year of life...

and head right for the photos of Valentine Mailboxes.

And I will feel inspired.

* * * * *

Mailboxes from Hobby Lobby... covered with scrapbook paper and decorated with stickers and ribbon. (Carter opted for no ribbon.)  Candle holders from The Dollar Store (and be sure you search through all 400 of them to find ones that stand up straight, because 395 of them don't, and they are not such high quality that you can bend them gently to straighten them out.  Not that I broke 2 of them trying and had to go back to the store to buy more.)

Oh, and grab a black frame while you're at the Dollar Store... go here for the cute printable, and you're all set!

Carter Flashbacks... and a Flash Forward

Here is my perfectly imperfect.... I had these photos in a folder to blog about -- in 2010.

So instead of feeling inadequate and remorseful about not blogging then... (okay, so I felt that way for a few minutes) I flipped the switch. Now, I'm celebrating the flashback -- remembering with such warmth and love the memories of Carter as a 2-and-a-half (ish) year old!

* * * * *

Oh, there's just nothing like Daddy's tickles!

I loved it when Carter started giving the "thumbs up!" He still does it from time to time, like when we're out at a restaurant (okay, McDonalds) and he goes up all by himself to get more napkins (still in eyesight of me, of course) and he turns to me and gives me a thumbs-up, as if to say, "Look, Mom, I made it to the napkins all by myself. Everything is OK." Big kid, I tell ya.

Everything works better... feels better.... IS better... when you stick your tongue out just a little bit.

"Watch my airplane soar through the sky like this and ignore the food all over my face!"

Carter was (and still is) such a patient kiddo -- watching big sister at dance class through the glass...

and when he got bored, and the coloring books and toys we brought weren't enough, hanging upside down like a monkey got us through 'til the end of class!

Managing 2 kids in swimming lessons at the same time wasn't an option for me a few years ago... because, Rylee was a "flight risk" (those of you who have children like this need no further explanation) and Carter wasn't happy in the water unless I was just inches from him. So, here is Carter, watching Rylee swim... yearning to go in the water himself but never complaining. (Now, the kids do private lessons together because there is less risk for "flight" with Rylee and Carter loves the water... life is good!)

And Toy Story ... oh the Toy Story gang! He loved them then... and he still loves them now!

"See how silly Mr. Potato Head looks with his arm sticking out of his head!"

"Buzz Lightyear, to the rescue!" (This was the very first Buzz Lightyear we got him for Christmas 2009. Since then, he's gotten 3 more, because of course you need the one that doesn't talk but his wings pop out, the one that literally has a conversation with Woody when you put them face to face, and the one that has a really cool belt. Seriously, no Toy Story toy fanatic can be without!)

Oh, and thank goodness for pictures, because I forgot about this smaller Buzz Lightyear... so make that 4 more Buzzes since Christmas 2009! Oh, but wait... what about the miniature Buzz that is on a keychain? Or the little Buzz that came with the Toy Story book? I give up. We've obviously lost count.

"Don't think that just because I'm in the tub that I can't still get you with my Buzz Lightyear lazer!"

"And here are my MUSCLES!" (Again, muscles look bigger and are definitely stronger if he twists his tongue and sticks it out a bit.)

"Mom, I'll smile for you... but don't expect me to take my eyes off the TV show I'm watching."

"A bucket of snow. It's really not very exciting, Mom, but I assume since you have your camera out you want me to hold it up and smile for you. There ya go."

Oh the paci... sometimes, I actually miss trying to find one. I'm still waiting to move a shelf or clean under something that hasn't been cleaned under for 3 years and find one. I have a feeling I will get a little teary-eyed.

* * * * *

Tonight Jeremy and I went to the basketball games at the high school. After watching Jordyn play, we stayed for the Boys' Varsity game to watch her boyfriend play . Ahem... anyway, it was hard not to wonder where we'll be with Carter in 12 years. I was trying to picture him out on the court...(if he chooses to play basketball, of course.) And when one of the players didn't do so well, and the coach sort of got after him about it, I pictured it being Carter and then I realized that I didn't want anyone to talk to Carter like that, so I decided that Carter couldn't be in basketball... or football... or any sport in which he might make a mistake and a coach might get after him about it. (Okay, so that might be a bit unrealistic.) Then I looked at some of the moms of the boys playing, and I thought to myself, "What kind of mom will I be to a high school boy? Will I be "cool" or incredibly annoying in his eyes? Will I know how to help raise the kind of boy we want to raise? Will I know that I shouldn't be wearing those kind of boots because I'd look like I was trying to be 17? " After feeling quite nervous and unprepared for raising a son for nearly a quarter of the basketball game, I realized that I was simply at a basketball game, and that Carter was 4.

I guess that's what the next 12 years are going to do for me... they will get me ready for it.

And when I feel as though I have no idea what I'm doing, I will remember that no one does.

And when I feel as though I have it all together, I will remember that we all do.

And somehow, we will have raised a son that we are incredibly proud of... and if he chooses to play basketball, I will be in the stands, cheering him on and planning a phone call to the coach to request that he not "get after" Carter about a mistake he made in the game. (Yeah, I'm sure that would make me a really "cool" mom.)

For now, I'll forget about 12 years from now.

I'll just go home and cuddle our 4-year-old. Because, right now, to him, I am "cool."

And he's pretty darn "cool" to me, too.


I became a Mom 11 years ago. Well, sort of a Mom. Maybe a "Mom-like" figure. Maybe a "parental-sort-of-friend." (We didn't use the term "stepmom," and to this day, I only use that term when I get a puzzled look from someone who I can see calculating in their head how old I must have been when I gave birth to Jordyn.)

Anyway, it doesn't really matter what we called it. When I met Jeremy, Jordyn was six years old. She was a sweet, spunky little thing with a little bob haircut and missing teeth. I immediately felt welcomed into her dad's life... she was excited to do things with us, and though she lived full-time with her mom, stepdad, and little sister, Jeremy had her a lot, and she was part of our relationship from day one.

Since Jeremy and I got married, Jordyn has lived with her mom during the week, and been with us on the weekends unless she was in her early teen years when spending the night at friends' houses on the weekends was just as important as breathing . Fortunately, her mom lives in the same town, so we've always been able to be a big part of Jordyn's life.

For the past 3 months, Jordyn has been living with us full-time. It was an adjustment for all of us, but once we all got into the "new groove" of things, we all settled into life, and it has been wonderful. I've gotten to know Jordyn all over again, and when I look at her, it's hard for me to see the six-year-old with a bob haircut and missing teeth. Jordyn has become an incredible young woman. (I couldn't think of any other way of saying that that wouldn't make me sound old.... so there it is... I'm old.)

Today, Jordyn turned seventeen. Last night, Jeremy, the kids and I wrote down 17 things about Jordyn that we loved and slipped them into balloons before blowing them up. This morning, with a Happy Birthday song playing from Rylee's iPod, we tossed the balloons into Jordyn's room.

If I could pick one of those 17 "loves" to share, it would be that Jordyn is incredibly loyal -- to her family, to her friends. She never brushes off an "I love you" from us, even if it's in the presence of friends (though we try really hard to keep all of the "could-be-embarassing" things to a minimum.) She is always there for her friends when they need her... she helps little sister put clips in her hair (so she can look like big sister) and she always listens to little brother's very long stories.

Eleven years ago, I didn't know what being a "stepmom" would be about. And though I didn't ever try to be a "replacement" for her mom (she already had a mom, so there was no need) I was excited about the idea of being a Mom. Or "mom-like." Or whatever.

However, the last 11 years have presented challenges... being a parent is challenging enough, but to add the "step" element gives everything a different spin.

I haven't written much about being a "stepmom" on here... it's a delicate situation when you write about others, and respecting those you write about is crucial. And let's face it, there are some feelings, whether completely relatable by others, are best kept quiet.

But on this, Jordyn's 17th birthday, I felt compelled to write. Specifically, to write to me, 11 years ago.

If I could go back 11 years, I would tell myself some things that may have helped from time to time.

I would have told myself that...

You can't take everything personal. Sometimes, when things seem like it's all about you, it's not even a tiny little bit about you.

There will be moments when you feel left out. When you feel sort of displaced. Just hold tight, because the feeling will pass.

You will realize that some years in a child's growing up are just tough... and whether you are a biological parent or a "stepparent" really makes no difference. They are tough years, and you just believe that everything you've done... everything you've modeled... everything you've said... will help everyone make it to the other side of the "tough" stuff. And everyone will make it.

There will be moments when you find yourself being able to offer guidance in a way no other person in her life can. And you will feel important. Soak it up.

There will be times when you have to hurt a little so others have the chance to learn about life and grow themselves.

When you see a quality in her that she may not have gotten if it hadn't been for you coming into her life, go ahead and smile. Feel good about it. Because whether you have the "mom" title to her or not, you will be a part of who she will become.

* * * * *

Thank you, Jordyn, for letting me be your "Carin."
I am grateful to be a part of your life.
Happy 17th Birthday, hon. I LOVE YOU!

(please excuse the photos -- a grainy, scanned photo and a not-so-great cell phone pic!)

Wordless Wednesday (On The Court)