Five Steps for Back to School Shopping

It’s that time of year to go back to school shopping. While my system may not be ideal for most, it keeps me calm and focused. Or is that Mini Wheat cereal? This school year I’ve decided to take you on a journey of my neurotic, Type A personality in action. The method behind all of my madness always begins with a list and a detailed plan. You see while others pile into the car and head for the nearest mall, I invoke a five step process for back to school shopping.

5 school shopping

  • Step One: De-Clutter

I have found it necessary to start any project by de-cluttering. In an effort to raise our kids to be self-sufficient I have them go through all of their clothes, toys, and supplies and get rid of anything that does not fit, is unusable, or that they just do not want anymore. Inevitably I go through and do the same thing a second time around because let’s face it they are kids and I am a bit of a control freak. Together we decide what stuff will be handed down to friends, given to the Goodwill, or thrown away. A fashion show with the girls to see what clothing fits and putting together all of my son’s car tracks and other toys to see if we have all the pieces has been known to happen as a result of this step. Basically, you get the idea.

  • Step Two: Take Inventory

Once everything is de-cluttered and you only have the things you want and/or need you area able to see exactly what you have. You might be surprised to learn your son only has two pair of pants that fit but has a plethora of shirts. You could also be the owner of two packs of brand new pencils and glue sticks. Who knows? If you really want to be a nerd you can write it all down and transfer it to a spreadsheet like I do? I know, I know. I can’t help it.

  • Step Three: Make a List

Based on your inventory decide what, including quantity, your children need. I also include a few wants. My daughter may not need three pair of shoes but it doesn’t hurt to put it on the back to school list, at this point. Simple enough right? Well, I tend to sort my list by child, clothing type, supplies and of course make a master list. Issues, I know!

  • Step Four: Research and Create a Budget

I like to research online all the items on my master list. I can get idea of what things cost and where I can get a great deal. Having a budget is necessary in our household because at this stage of our life we our living on very limited discretionary funds. On top of that our income is erratic due to Mr. C having a commission based career. After our budget is established, I make adjustments based on the research I did and make a new list. It may make more sense to budget first then research but hey I have never been one to do things that make sense! Either way doing this allows me to figure how to best use our back to school budget.

  • Step Five: Shop

Finally, the fun part. With four kids it’s tough to find one on one time. School shopping is the perfect excuse to have a mommy/daughter date with my oldest daughter. We hit the stores with our list and cash only in hand. It’s a great time to talk and find out how she is feeling about the new school year. I also get an insight on how her fashion sense has changed and what things she thinks are now cool. It is a time to bond and just have girl time. I tried to have mommy/son and a daddy/son shopping trip in the past but it didn’t work out. My son loves to see what we bought for him but going shopping for himself, not so much.

At the end of the day all that matters is your kids are prepared and equipped for a new school year, while you stay within your families budget. The method in which you get there has to work for you and your family alone. I take comfort in being a neurotic list maker.

How do accomplish back to school shopping?

Back to School Countdown

 

There are officially twelve days until the first day of school, not that I’m counting. Because I allowed (forced) myself to live a care free Summer, the daunting task of preparing for a new school year is sending fear throughout my being. I have had the fortune of multiple mistakes in the all of the years of being a parent to school aged children. This year I have implemented five steps to eliminate most of the back to school madness.

5 Steps Back To School

Step One: Establish a Routine

I like to come up with a “in a perfect world” routine for the school year. What time do the kids need to be up for school and what is a reasonable bed time? Are they showering in the morning or night? When is homework time? Are they allowed to have play dates on school nights? Will they take lunch or buy from the cafeteria? Can they participate in extra curricular activities? Once you figure out the answers that fit for your family, make it a rule. Our kids know what is expected of them from the moment they get up for school, including where their backpacks belong the second they walk through the door.

Step Two: Communication

I don’t know about you but I have hard time keeping track of where I am supposed to be let alone the four other people living in my house. We have a whiteboard calendar with everyone’s activities for the month. I also have a post it on the fridge with that day’s activities. Every week my husband and I go through that weeks activities and figure out who is doing what, when, and where. Let me go back and say that before you obligate yourself and/or your kids to anything I would suggest talking about it as a family. I always get my hubby’s support before I make a commitment. My husband is my number one supporter of any adventure I chose to take but he will also honestly tell me if I am over extending myself. Through trial and error we both know that I bear the burden of getting the kids to and from all of their activities due to his work schedule. He helps whenever and however he can but providing for our family is a priority.

Step Three: Meal Planning

For me meal planning is the key to staying in budget and feeding my kids a mostly healthy meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once you know if you are making kids lunch and what your activities are you can start to plan meals. I am not creative at all when it comes to making school lunches so I rely on Pinterest. As for dinners, I jot down what activities are going on and what time. Then I figure our how many quick meals I need to make. I make every effort to eat dinner as a family. Even if it is slurping down a fifteen minute spaghetti dinner. This eliminates most of the urge to just pick something up because we have nothing quick and easy to make at home.

Step Four: Dry Run

How many of you let your kids stay up late during the Summer? I do! I also wean my kids off of their Summer sleeping routing and ease them into the new school year hours. Two weeks before school starts we have the kids go to bed slightly earlier than normal. A week before school they go to bed at their normal school year bedtime and are woken up according to our school year routine. I try to start making lunch around the same time they will be served at school as well. Trust me. This makes a big difference in adjusting to a new school year.

Step Five: Go with the Flow

Keep in mind life happens. I am often the crazy lady screaming at their children, “We are late, get up we’re late!” Which leads to me handing them a banana to eat for breakfast in the car on the way to school, along with lunch money instead of that healthy lunch I promised I would send everyday. I have also been known to forget dinner altogether. Hey it happens! The point is having a plan prevents most of  the irrational decisions on the fly and it let’s your children know what is expected of them.

How do you get ready for the new school year?

The Truth About Parenting

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Mr. C. and I are parents to four children. Our oldest son, Kaleb, is 22 and out on his own but we still have three kids living under our roof, Karisa (12), Kaiden (10) and Kailey (6). It is natural for me as a blogger to write about our adventures in parenting. However having children does not make me an expert on the subject.

The truth is being a parent requires constantly adjusting your methods. Just when you get the toddler thing figured out they go and turn into preschoolers and eventually they reach middle school and all you can do is hold on tight because both or your worlds have taken a seat on a non-stop roller coaster. Then one day your son calls and ask if you can help him move for the third time in his short adult life and it takes everything you have not to pack his stuff up and unpack it in his old bedroom, under your roof because you may or may not have control issues.

Oh, and just for fun, what worked for one kid almost never works for the other. Listen. You and I both know parenting is no joke.

Since entering my role as a mentor mom there are two parenting tips, if you will, I always give whenever I have an opportunity to talk to moms. The first tip is to know you have been uniquely created therefore what works for one family may not work for yours. The second is to learn to pray without ceasing for your children.

When I was a new mom I read all the books and sought out advice from others. I then took that information and tried to apply it to our family exactly as they did, because hello, I’m a type-A rule follower! When it didn’t work I thought I was a failure. It took me a years to realize it didn’t work because our family dynamic is different.

I still seek out all the information on parenting I can get my hands on. I also love to talk to parents who are in the next stage of life and in my current stage of life. I have an open mind when it comes to advice being given to me because I am now able to discern what will and will not work for our family. The majority of the time I tweak the parenting techniques I think will work to fit our family. In the end it comes down to trial and error and that’s okay.

As parents we are going to make mistakes. We are going to get it wrong before we get it right. My bonus tip, because I truly care about you, is to cut yourself some slack. All we can do is our very best and pray. Prayer changes everything.

A year ago I wrote Prayer, A Mother’s Most Powerful Tool. Here is an excerpt:

One of our easiest and most powerful tools we have as moms is the Power of Prayer yet I find ways to make it difficult… The truth is it doesn’t matter what you pray for because God already knows the desires of your heart (Matthew 6:8). What matters is making God a priority in our life by bringing all of our request to him.

If you are like me and need to know the HOW part of praying I encourage you to read the whole post.

moms on pinterest

Writing about Parenting will forever be a part of Another Housewife because I will forever be a mom. My desire for you when you read these post is for you to know you are not alone.  I too make mistakes and have no idea what I am really doing. My goal is for you to take my tips and ideas on how we raise our kids and discern what will and will not work for you and/or tweak them to fit your unique family dynamic.

~Jenniemarie

What two parenting tips would you give to other parents?

 

Born on the 4th of July

Today as we rejoice in the freedom of our country, I will also be celebrating the birth of my baby brother. It is inexplicably hard to comprehend that the child I took part in raising is now in his thirties! On the Fourth of July, as a children, we would spend the day running through the sprinklers, eating watermelon while my dad made hamburgers and hot dogs on a charcoal grill. Followed by singing happy birthday to my brother, eating cake, and busting open a piñata. As soon as the sun would set, we climbed up a ladder leading to the roof of our house and waited for the spectacle in the sky.
I was six years old when he came into this world, while fireworks were literally being exploded in all of their glory. It was the last memory I have of my parents being together. They had already separated but I guess the birth of a child brings about a reconciliation, if only for a brief moment. A little over a year after his birth my mom abandoned us and my dad began life as a single father to five children.
Being the oldest, with no mother, I picked up the residual parenting duties, even if I was only seven. I could change diapers and make bottles like a pro. My brother was raised as stereotypically of any baby of the family is destined to be, spoiled. We all marveled at him taking his first steps and speaking his first words. We followed him on his first day of kindergarten and watched as his painstakingly shy personality transition into being the class clown. We kept vigil when he had an emergency appendicitis surgery. We made fun of him when his voice started to crack causing him to go silent for long periods at a time. I even taught him to drive! In the blink of an eye he went from being a baby to a young man.

Mother’s Day-3months after my dads death (5/2000)

It was only fitting that at my wedding he stepped in for my dad, who had died three years prior, and walked me down the aisle. I spent the majority of my life caring for him and my other brother and sisters. We have a bond unparalleled to any other sibling relationship. Our lives were starting to become full circle. He was giving me away to my future husband and releasing me to live a life of my own. A life that I had put on hold to take care of everyone else. I could not have been more prouder in that moment to have him by my side.

giving the father of the bride speech

Despite so many adversities he has grown into an amazing father, brother, uncle, friend and well just an all around respectable young man.

~Happy Birthday Bobby~

 

 

Leaving A Legacy One Memory At A Time

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Once upon a time I used to wish away the day. From the time I opened my eyes and walked into my life outnumbered by babies in diapers and a pre-teen I yearned for that magical hour called bed time. It was the season in my life known to many as survival mode.

While I was working desperately to keep my children fed, clean and alive I didn’t realize right there in the middle of the mud and the muck (an unfortunate literal phrase on some days) memories that would last a lifetime were being made.

The same can be said for life in general. It is our everyday, even the mundane, that will make up our lifetime. The times we spend at the ball park watching our kids play ball, the talks you have with your kids about everything and anything while taxi driving around town, the time you set the kitchen on fire, the time your child had the courage to jump off the high dive, the time you let your kids eat ice cream for dinner, the time you stayed in your pajamas all day and watched movie after movie, the time they watched mom run a marathon, the time they spent running wild at dad’s work, the times you send your kid off to camp, the Summers the kids spend fighting all day but stayed up all night talking and sleeping in the same room, regularly sending the kids to grandmas so mom and dad could have date night, the time we prayed as a family for the Boston Marathon victims, the Yarnell Firefighters, the school shootings, for sick friends, for courage, for discernment, the times we stayed up all night studying for a test, the times we let the kids skip school because baseball’s opening day is a holiday in our family and all the days in between will be the days we refer to in the future when we start a sentence by saying, ’Remember when…”

A Daily Life blog post can be as eclectic as me. The diversity in my daily life includes anything from setting goals, learning something new, dealing with depression, sharing my love for books, coffee and baseball, missing my dad, a date night with Mr. C, getting on a soap box or sharing my thoughts on current events.

In the months to come my Daily Life post will be topical and intimate. They will give you a glimpse into who we are as a family and who I am as a person. I blog about our Daily Life because we are truly leaving a legacy one memory at a time.

~Jenniemarie

My name is Jenniemarie and I Am A Blogger

Every Summer I find myself questioning my status as a blogger. I am fickle with my post because I unapologetically spend the majority of my time with my school-aged children. I start to question if the time and effort I put into blogging is really what I should be doing.

Every year I take a step back and analyze my life purpose. I know, deep right? I just find it necessary to stay on the path I feel God leading me. Checking in every now and then is a way in which I keep myself accountable.

For me, I know being a wife and mother is my main priority. Anything that interferes with making them a priority I simply do not do. However, that does not mean being a wife and mom is my sole purpose. That just means if I am going to do something outside of my main priority it also has to serve a purpose, like bringing me joy.

I find I am a much better wife and mom when I explore outside interest that bring me joy. The only problem way back when I became a mom I had no idea which of my eclectic range of interest truly brought me joy. Plus, if we are being honest I was more concerned about what other people thought of me so for years I chose my interest based on the crowd.

A crazy thing happens when you’ve been around the block a time or two and are pushing forty, you ain’t got time to care what other people think and you start to dance to the beat of your own drum. It is an amazing and freeing feeling. A feeling I’m not sure you fully appreciate unless you spend some time trying to be something you are not.

The same has been true with my life as a blogger. I have quit blogging several times and each time I have regretted it. Why? Because writing brings me joy. However whenever I start to write to appease the masses, my imaginary masses but still, it sucks the joy right out of blogging.

I write because it is an outlet that brings me joy and allows me to make being a wife and a mother a priority. I believe one day my writing will have a greater purpose and blogging is my foundation. I truly enjoy having the ability to write whatever is placed on my heart whenever I have the time to write it. Therefore I will continue this crazy adventure because my name is Jenniemarie and I. Am. A. Blogger.

While the Summer yields sparse blog post on my part, it is the perfect time to reflect and refresh. I am busy behind the scenes planning and plotting. Which really means post-its and notebooks filled with blog topics, redesign ideas, networking possibilities, goals, make-shift calendars and a bunch of doodling.

I am shooting to launch my new season as a blogger on August 11th. Yes, it does have every reason to do with the fact my kids start school the week before. In the meantime, I’m planning a series of blog post to get to know each other better. Every Monday for the next five weeks I will be discussing why I write about the following topics:

  • Daily Life
  • Parenting
  • Homemaking
  • Living by Faith
  • My Get Fit Journey

I am so excited for what this next year as a blogger has in store for both of us. While you join me?

 

The Agony of Defeat

All-Star 1

I am tired physically and emotionally from my son’s stint on the All-Star team. Normally when little league season is over I welcome the break known as Summer. Only this year because he made the All-Star team there has been no such break. In fact I don’t know how it is possible but baseball took up even more of our schedule

His practices were three hours, five days a week for two whole weeks. This is where you need to know he would have practiced seven days a week for all the hours in a day because he loved every minute of it and so did I. However, All-Star practices proved to be a bit more demanding than the regular season.

Instead of being the star of your team like you were in the regular season you were now on a team where everyone was a star, maybe even better than you. You could tell it was messing with most of the boys psyche, my boy included. After a few practices they all seemed to settle down and get down to business.

All-Star 2

Let me just say being an All-Star has major perks. They hooked these boys up. In addition to getting an All-Star uniform they were given a fitted hat, a batting helmet and a gear bag. Looking good and playing good would prove to be a whole different ball game.

My son missed game one because of his decision to go to camp. You can read about that decision here. We went and watched to support the team. We pulled off the win in a tough game.

The next day my son exited a bus full of kids who just spent five exhausting days at camp. I couldn’t even snap a pic because he looked miserable. His eczema had flared up and his face from his lips down below his chin was severely chapped. We got him home, showered, medicated and lathered in coconut oil. We fed him and tried to make him take a nap.

Game time came and he was still noticeably tired. He was sluggish behind the plate but managed to hold his own. He threw a couple of guys out at second and had a great play at the plate for an out. He also went two for three at the plate. Still their team was down 10 runs, facing being run ruled going into the bottom of the 4th inning. We scored two to stay alive but the other team scored two more in the top of the 5th. Going into the bottom of the 5th we were down 10, again. The coach gave the boys a why not us speech and they believed it because they scored TWELVE runs to go ahead by two. They were able to have a one-two-three top of the 6th to win the game 21-19. It was the greatest, come from behind game I have witnessed.

In past years all you needed to do was win 2 of 3 games to move on to the semifinals but not this year. This year three teams were tied and the tie breaker would be decided by the total number runs allowed during the tournament. Allowing 19 runs the night before meant we would be the odd man out, making game three a must win.

Game three was a nail biter. We gave up three runs early. We tied the game up one run at a time but the innings were going quick. Going into the last inning the other team scored two more runs. It was a true win or go home inning. We put a run on the board and were down by one.

My son came up to bat with one out, a runner on 1st and 3rd and the crowd felt relief. I couldn’t breathe. My son has been clutch in these situations all season. Going into this at bat he had only stuck out three times in twenty games. A base hit would tie the game, maybe even win it. He’s been here before. He’s been the hero but not this night. This night he struck out.

Our team was still alive and some else would need to be the hero. We managed to load the bases. Everyone was on their feet. The pitch was thrown, the ball was hit right back to the pitcher. The pitcher bobbled the ball as our player ran like the wind to first base. For a moment we thought maybe, just maybe but the pitcher gunned the ball to first and the first baseman made an amazing play given us our third and final out.

I could see my son holding back all the tears. After a brief team meeting, he walked out of the dugout, saw me and lost it. He received big hugs from hid dad, grandma and I. Each of us telling him how proud we are of him but defeat is nasty pill to swallow.

He had an amazing game behind the plate throwing guys out at second and another amazing play at the plate for an out. Still he cried uncontrollable at home. He felt responsible. We told him to cry it out, shake it off and hold his head high. It wasn’t their night.

As amazing as it would have been to get the win and move on to the semi-finals, there are lessons to be learned from defeat. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it’s how we handle defeat that reveals our true character.

All Star 9

 

 

In Defense of Dads

fathers day

I have spent my entire childhood defending dads. That happens when you are raised by a single father of five. I was the child who always raised their hand in class and said, “and dads too, right?” whenever someone with authority sang the praises of mothers.

It was a defense mechanism. The mention of the glorious wonders of mothers only caused me pain and hurt because it was a reminder that my mom left. She was not this super human who made us meals, comforted us when needed and did all the typical things that would cause others to remind us children that our moms deserve to be acknowledged. Nope, not even close. Instead of admitting that hurt I built walls and focused on the awesomeness of my dad, minus the whole alcoholism thing.

daddy of five

Sometime between my dad’s death and becoming a mom I stopped defending fatherhood and started to bask in the glory of being a mom. Wait. That sounds wrong. I still continued a healthy respect for the role of a father and selflessly encouraged it in our own home. I just stopped raising my hand and declaring it.

What I really meant was it felt good as a mom to relate to all the propaganda about how great moms are. Even if you didn’t watch the Olympics you saw the commercials right? I mean come on, I cried every time they aired. I am raising athletes and I could totally relate.

Moms are universally celebrated by the world. Anytime anyone succeeds in life the mom gets all the credit. It may be fair considering us moms are also the reason therapist exist but that’s not the point I am making.

What I am trying to do is raise my hand and ask, “What about the dads?” What are they chop liver? Did I just age myself with that question? Moving on.

Everything I am, I am because of my dad. It pains me to know that I did not fully appreciate his love and sacrifices until I was blessed with my own children. Children born after his death. We eat as a family nearly every night, spend the majority of our time as a family, our children are expected to treat others with respect and have a love for baseball that would make him proud all because he instilled these things in his own children.

The truth is as much as I would love to take all the credit for all the goodness of my children Mr. C plays a huge part in raising them. He is an amazing father who deserves to be celebrated. Mr. C is the leader of our family, spiritually and otherwise. It is he who will be held accountable for our family. He works his ass off everyday as the sole provider for our family. He endures the stress of balancing work and family time.

dads arms

He often leaves work and heads straight to whatever practice or game is going on. Our children squeal and run into his arms when they spot him walking up and the kid on the field flashes a huge smile because just being there matters. Because of this dinner gets served late but we still eat as a family and he listens to all the chatter about the rest of the day even though he hasn’t had a second to relax.

He is the kind of dad who paints his daughters nails, knows every girly hand cheer clapping game and plays them in public with his little girl. He is the kind of dad who makes the time to take his daughters and his sons on dates to spend one on one time with all four of them.

He is the kind of dad who clears the living room furniture to wrestle, practice grounders, play catch or have a Nerf gun war. He is the kind of dad who encourages, disciplines and loves. He is the kind of dad who knows because of his work schedule his time with his kids is limited. Therefore he makes it a point to be the one who tucks them in at night in order to make sure he is able to talk to them and prays for them before they go to sleep.

He is the kind of dad this momma is comforted in knowing he has set the bar high for the kind of man our daughters will seek in marriage and the kind of men our son’s will strive to be. He is not a perfect man but he is the best kind of man he knows how to be today.

My daddy and Mr. C are not the exception to the rule. I have had the privilege of being surrounded by great men . My grandfather’s raised my dad and aunt on his own after their mom died when they were teenagers. He allowed my dad and us five kids to live with him. He is the one who gave me strength to chase my dreams. My brother is an amazing father and I see so much of my dad in him. My brother-in-law has two beautiful girls who he makes his world.

Yet because of the bad rap of the overwhelming number of deadbeat dads their role gets minimized and uncelebrated. However, not every mom is the epitome of a Hallmark card and that doesn’t stop the world from celebrating us (rightfully so). So this Father’s Day my gift to dads everywhere is to celebrate you year round.

It’s time I start raising my hand again and saying, “and dads too, right?”

In the end when my children look back on their upbringing they will have memories of both a mom and a dad who were actively involved in shaping their legacy and not a two-minute highlight reel focused on the plight of just a mom because they will know it was because of their dad too.

On a side note: I  miss my daddy…

 

Happy 22nd Birthday Kaleb

Today is my step-son’s 22nd birthday. Twenty-Two! That is just crazy. I am honored to have spent the last fourteen years watching him grow into a wonderful young man.

Kaleb 2014

When I think about the last fourteen years I get overwhelmed. Being a step-mom is not easy. I have sacrificed so much of myself, questioned my self-worth and bit my tongue more times than I can count. The relationship I have with my step-son today has made it all worth it.

I have purposely stayed away from talking about the ins and outs of being a blended family. Even in the best of circumstances there are challenging times. From the very beginning I decided to put him first and for me that includes not writing about that part of our life.

However, today I would like to share with you five guidelines on being a step-parent. Keep in mind these are all based on my own personal experience and may not apply to all blended families.

step parents

1.) Never Talk Negatively About Their Parent: I wish this would be a no brainer but sadly it is not. I can not tell you how many times I have encountered blended families who openly trash talk their step-child’s parent. Not only did I not talk negatively about my son’s mom but I never talked negatively about her to anyone else (except Mr. C and my bestest friend who often times gave me perspective as a single mom). So, other than that I just didn’t do it. I didn’t want my family or friends to meet her and treat her based on my own convoluted feelings. She deserved to be respected for the simple fact she is my son’s mom.

2.) You’re NOT Their Mom/Dad but You Are Their Parent: I made it very clear from the beginning that I understood I was not his mom. He has a mom and I respected that. However, he lived with us more than half of the time and that meant I was caring for him. Therefore, I treated him like my own son and I expected a level of respect as his parent.

3.) Celebrate The Other Parent: I went out of my way on Mother’s Day, Christmas and her birthday to help our son celebrate her. I took him shopping for gifts and even made scrapbooks, etc. of pictures of him taken while with us (of just him, obviously). It was important to me that he knew it was okay to celebrate and express love for his mom while he was around us. More important he knew that we expected for him to respect and honor her.

4.) Respect the Other Parent’s Rules/Create Rules For Your Own Home: Our son knew that if he was in trouble with his mom he was in trouble with us, period. On the other hand, know that you can’t control how the other household is ran and if they will extend the same courtesy to you, do it anyway. I found myself saying, “I know that your mom allows that in her home but in our house…” It was tricky because I didn’t want him to think I thought his mom was wrong but at the same time we had our own set of values.

5.) Be a Family: After we started to have kids of our own I wanted to make sure he always felt like he was part of our family. For us that meant never taking a family picture without him, going on a family vacation without him or celebrating holidays without him. This was a scheduling nightmare because I had to work around what worked best for his mom. I always included him in the number of kids we have when asked. He was never referred to as a half-brother, just brother and was raised with my nieces and nephews as their cousin. We also had joint birthday parties and sat together during all of his extra curricular and school related activities.

I have plenty more words about the world of being a blended family but these five rules were a great foundation for us. It wasn’t easy but I knew that my end result was raising a little boy as I would my own. A boy who didn’t choose this lifestyle. When things were particularly rough I reminded myself that I chose this life and in the end he comes first.

Trust me I was not always the ideal step-mom. I made so many mistakes but I learned from them. In retrospect I would have communicated my feelings of unworthiness to Mr. C sooner, acknowledged my own jealousy because it is normal and set certain boundaries that would have prevented me being taken advantage of. However, I would do it all over again in heart beat because raising a step-son who grows up and calls you a kick-ass step-mom is worth every sacrifice I have ever made.

 

The All-Star Who Almost Wasn’t

Karisa Majors

My daughter, Karisa, is an entire year younger than her classmates. Because of this we she has always played a year up in softball in order to be on the same playing level as those she will be competing with at school.

She is a great ball player but her size and quiet nature (on the field) often gets her overlooked. Her skills have been enough for her to make the competitive team but she ends up with minimal playing time.

This year when we signed her up for little league we decided to keep her down with girls her own age. I was hoping by being one of the older, more experienced girls on the team she would get more playing time thus building her confidence. My plan backfired.

She was placed on a team with a coach who had no interest in coaching. I have tried very hard this year not to complain publicly. I understand that coaches are volunteers etc but this season was really ridiculous.

They had a total of three practices the entire season spanning from August until May and they were not beneficial at all. I have three kids whose schedules overlap so I can’t commit to coaching. I did volunteer to arrange the snack schedule and arrange two separate outings to the batting cages. It’s not like I sat around and complained and did nothing to try and help the situation because I didn’t want to be THAT parent.

It was hard to watch the girls play. The majority were first year Majors players and they had no idea what they were doing or the rules and well, neither did the coach. There was no rhyme or reason for where and when he played the girls. Unless my daughter was pitching it was a crap shoot where and if she would play. Regardless, my daughter still seemed to be having fun on the field and I convinced myself that is what mattered.

When we received the e-mail announcing All-Star try-outs I asked if she wanted to try-out and she said, “No!” I was dumbfounded. She loves softball. She was one of the best girls out there this year. I asked a few questions and she just shrugged her shoulders and said I just don’t want to.

I didn’t want to be the mom to force my kid to try-out because I think she should so I dropped it. The first try-out went by without her on the field. I received a text from a parent questioning why Karisa was not out there and informing us there would be another try-out.

I decided to probe a little more. It turns out this coach and this season really did a number on her confidence. I told her not to let anyone get in the way of doing what she loves. I wanted her to know not to go after something because she is scared of failing. I wanted her to believe in herself. I held her in my arms and told her the decision was still hers.

Being a parent is not an easy task. I was really conflicted about asking my daughter a second time about trying out. I didn’t want her to feel pressured to try-out only to please me. At the same time I didn’t want her to miss out on this amazing opportunity.

I strongly believe parent should not live vicariously through their kids. However giving our kids a push is not always the same thing. Kids need to be challenged. Parents need to make sure their child is standing firm in their own beliefs. Sometimes we need to hold their hand and tell them it is okay to say no and sometime it is okay to be scared but do it anyway

In the end it was my gut feeling that led me to ask again and question her reasoning. I know my daughter. I know how much softball means to her and how much she loves to play.

Before I left her room I asked her to spend some time and pray about it. I made it clear this would be the last time I asked her about it, for real this time. If she wanted to try-out I would be happy to take her but she needed to want it.

After a while she came out of her room and asked if I could wash her uniform. She went to two try-outs and shined like the star she is. She walked off that field each night with a smile on her face saying “Did you see me hit the ball to the outfield?”, “Did you see me make that catch?”, “I don‘t know what happened on that throw it left my hand weird.”, “That was fun.”

We received official confirmation today that she made the All-Star team.