Sunday, October 30, 2011

Doing My Best...

Being a stepmom is challenging at times, especially when you have expectations of proper behavior.  Since J-man moved in with us the summer, we, my husband/his father and I, have been trying to instill proper manners and life lessons.  Please and Thank you are the obvious ones that we remind him of constantly, but there are bigger issues such as interrupting when people are speaking and starting sentences with "Not to be mean...".  I understand kids get excited and want to tell you something immediately, but patience is a virtue and interrupting a conversation without the words excuse me is rude.  I'm trying to instill the simple rule of if you start a sentence with not to be mean then you shouldn't say the sentence at all because the sentence is most likely mean and therefore should not be voiced.


There is a difference between raising a child from birth or a very young age and becoming a parental figure when they are much older.  I cannot relate to how he feels because I had an extremely stable childhood, but I am trying my best at making sure I am understanding of his emotions and life changes while creating a stable and loving environment.  I am very proud of how well he is doing and the progress he is making.

Honesty is key in our family.  I will not stand for lies and he knows that now.  Secretly, it cracks me up that he thinks he can actually get away with telling a lie to me. Umm, sorry kid, but your entire face says "I'm telling a lie right now."  We had a conversation about honesty a few days ago and I used the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."   I think it worked because we were able to relate it to other actions later in the week. 
We say grace before meals every night and we take turns - Ryan and I used to take turns, but now Jared joins in.  At first he was really nervous about messing up, but we explained to him that there isn't a right or a wrong way to pray and that any conversation with God is good.  We try to incorporate the four types of prayer as well: (1) Blessing and Adoration (praising God), (2) Prayer of Petition (asking for what we need, including forgiveness), (3) Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need), (4) Prayer of Thanksgiving (for what God has given and done).  This is a subtle way of instilling prayer and the constant presence of God in our child's life, but over the past few months it seems to be working.  He is much more eager to say grace, asks about bible stories, tells me something he reads or sees is like this biblical story!  When we go to church we have him bring his children's bible and he reads the passages. 

I don't want you to think our little man is a bad kid because by no means is he.  I am just expressing my challenges of being a stepmom and how important it is to me to raise a stellar little human who has a strong relationship with God, is honest, has manners that people will notice, and really understands what is means to live a good life.

The other night we were driving home a little later than normal and he started asking me about what I pray for. I think he was taken aback when I told him I pray for the ability to be the best stepmama for him and I ask God for help to be a better person, wife, friend, mom, daughter, because he told me I was great already!  It was adorable.  Every time he asks me about something that we talked about a few days/weeks before, I melt inside because I know he is listening and caring. 

Much love.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grading...

Sincere apologies for not blogging this past week.  Midterms had ended last week, but grading had just begun.  One hundred and eight papers later, I am finally done and it feels glorious!  It was my first dose of grading and an eye-opening experience.  We each have our own level of performance and knowledge, but it is not until grading others work that you can directly compare how well information has been relayed.  While there were papers that weren't up to par due to lack of effort, there were also papers that were not up to par based purely on an inability to fully grasp the concepts and no lack of effort.  I truly believe that all the grades are fair, I commented on all papers that had points deducted, and overall, the papers were pretty solid. 

J-man's "Fang'd Pumpkin"

On a side note, when and if I ever create a test of my own, I am going to make the first question easy as can pie.  Being a test-taker myself, having an easy first question instantly relaxes me.  Maybe it is all mental, but it works for me.  Does it work for you?

Are you a teacher?  Do you have experience with grading papers? If so, any and all advice is appreciated! 

Much love.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ramblings

Friends', real and virtual, posts have inspired this post. 

Girlfriends
True girlfriends are treasures held closely and compassionately to my heart.  While my girls, chicas, darlings are scattered beautifully across this country, they all have a special niche in my heart that will forever be theirs.  You all know who you are...you complete me and know me in your own unique way.  Every tradition, every moment, every sweet little nothing, is remembered and appreciated.  I will forever treasure the moments of apple baking, walking and talking, winery dates, venting sessions, wine phone dates, kitchen floor talks,  trail hiking, Ireland adventures, Sarah dates to the emotional days of heartaches, loss, frustration, uncertainty and weakness.  I may not always express my love for my friends and I may live states away from most of you, but you can bet your ass (pardon my French), I love you with every ounce of my being and without you, I'd be a lesser person.  You've challenged me, supported me to take chances and are always there in memories, surprise letters, and sweet visits!  I am blessed to have such amazing girls in my life! 

Boys...they don't seem to need their boy time as much as us girls need out girl time.  Don't get me wrong, they need time for themselves, but it seems as if they are content with a beer and football on a weekend when I thrive for a little dress up and coffee with my ladies!  I love my cuddle couch time as much as the next time (that's a lie...I don't love it as much as most people do... Heck, I don't care, I like being energetic!)

Back to my point, I love and I need my girl time!  This month and the next and forever, I vow to make an effort to show my girlfriends just how much I love them no matter the distance!  Philly ladies, I'm coming home!  Bischy, a flight to Houston is in the works! Mel, coffee dates are a must!  Julia, I'll cheer you on during Thriller

Funks.
They blow.  I get into one and want nothing more than to get out of it.  The key to getting out them, you ask!  Music, FRESH AIR and lots of tears.  Music gets me going (Thanks Dad!)  Moving my body to some smooth jazz, curling up next to my record player with a little Johnny Cash sends chills down my spine; the sound of a record is indescribably beautiful.  Fresh Air...it's tasty!  I lack fresh air between school, coursework, house work, laundry, errands, you get the drift, but you betcha I have my windows down, sunroof open and music blaring when the weathers nice!  Knotty hair...that's what brushes are for!  I'll take knotty hair and smile on my face any day of the week over pretty hair and frown :) As for tears, they just relieve stress like no other.  I firmly believe it is good to be in tune with your emotional side.  No worries.  I'm a pro. They say being emotional makes you know what better too!  hehe!

Prayer
Prayer is a staple in my life.  If I can't sleep, I pray. Before meals, I pray. Driving in the car and no good tunes on the radio, I pray.  Think the priest's homily is too opinionated, I pray for him.  I have this beautifully dainty decade of the rosary that I grasp at night.  The older I get, the more important constant and daily prayer becomes to me.  I am not extremely religious, but I am strong in my faith and believe that living your faith through your actions in daily life is extremely important.  A simple smile can make a day.  Hold the door for a stranger.  Hold your tongue if you don't have anything nice to say and compliment when you like something (I need to work on this along with everything else).  Life is short. Don't live with regrets.  If you like it, do it. Live your life and don't hold back. 

Much love.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gone Camping...

Every now and then nature calls and this weekend it called via a little trip to North Carolina for some camping with the good ol' family.  Our initial plan was to hike two and a half miles into a remote campsite, but that quickly changed when we were told there were no rivers or ponds near those sites, but an alternative option was to rent a canoe and paddle our way to a campsite.  You don't have to twist our arms much...hike 2.5 miles with a 9 year old, a puppy, three sleeping bags, a cooler, 3 backpacks OR load a canoe up, pile the kiddo, puppy and luggage in and paddle away. 

We got a little lost.  There were two sets of orange buoys and we followed the wrong ones first.  Typical.  Luckily, Ryan brought the map with us and we were quickly on our way.  The total trip was under 45 minutes with a detour as we'd like to call it. :)  The boys quickly got to work putting up our three person tent and I sorted through food and clothing so that I knew where everything was when it got dark which always seems to happen sooner then expected. 
 

Looking good boys! Chopping wood was the next item of importance!  Ryan chopped while Jared and I gathered all sorts of branches. 

I have to admit, I love it when Ryan does manly things like chop wood, work in my car, weed wack, fix the dishwasher...it just gets me every single time and he thinks I'm crazy!  Needless to say, I was smitten to see him chop wood and be all sweaty!  Love you babe!

Now that we had the goods to make a great fire, it was on to finding the perfect marshmallow roasting sticks!  Jared was stellar at finding long skinny ones and super animated about showing me how he was going to carve the tip to make it pointy.  His method was to use a tree.  My method was to ask daddy to shaved it with his knife.  I won.  Not that it was a competition though.

We took an afternoon siesta on the pond... Well, I took a siesta while Ryan and Jared paddled and Lira tried to jump overboard. 


FYI, there are fairies here.  The live in the Bald Cypress Trees, ride dragonflies from castle to castle, skip from lilypads and dance in the moonlight. 
This little guy let us get right next to him!  Literally, we could have touched him if we stretched far enough.  It was pretty neat.  He had the right amount of camouflage and had a knack for doing leg lifts.  Needless to say, I watched him for a long time.

 Wait, did I say Lira tried to jump in???  She succeeded! 
Crazy Puppy. I got nice and wet after her little escapade, but she was happy.  She needed a little cleaning as it was.  Little shaggy dogs and the woods don't mix well. A bath was first on my list of things to do once we got home the next day. 

I represented LaSalle and my dorky headlamp side while Ryan hicked his head and feet out with camo and wore a Banana Republic shirt.  We had fun and enjoyed being dirty in each other's arms!
Hot dogs were roasted and devoured.  We were hungry bears and it showed in our eating habits :) 
After 7:30 PM marshmallows were roasted and smores were made!  They tasted beyond yummy!  Did you know that Graham crackers come in mini packets for freshness?  I didn't, but I do now! 

The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!  A big kudos to Folgers for making these nifty coffee bags!  Folgers, I've always thought of you as a mediocre coffee, but you have proved me wrong on this front.
Chilly mornings in the woods with a little fire, coffee and your hubby are wonderful!  We look super special here :)

 All good things must come to an end...
That's a monster.  I didn't kill it.  We were in his home, so he deserved to live.  Nothing this ugly could possibly be a she, so it's gotta be a he.  Sorry boys. 

And a little trivia...  You know you're in the south when???

Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch
We all picked the cotton but we never got rich
Thank you Alabama for getting that song stuck in our head the entire trip! 

Much love.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Neptune Festival

Apologies for my lack of blogging.  Midterms have consumed my life...

Better late then never...two weekends ago, we ventured down to the oceanfront for a little family fun with some friends of ours!  The ocean was in rare form with killer waves from the recent storms that have been rolling through at approximately 5pm every Thursday.  On a normal basis, I wouldn't have a clue as to what days it storms here, but every Thursday I have night class, and every Thursday, practically without fail, I am driving to class in a torrential downpour...joy.  Back to the Neptune Festival...it was awesome!  The ocean and sky were very expressive!
The sand building was out of this world!  According to a few signs I read, a special sand with clay in it was imported for the international sculpturers to use. Here are some of the amazing sand arts!

This was  my favorite!

The mythical god, Neptune doing his thing!
Little boys riding warrior fish!

This little boy knows what's up! Be Green!

Family photo time!  (Thank you, Julia!)
It's rare we get a family photo, so I will treasure this one!  And this little boy loved looking at the sand castles, but really wanted to do some building himself.  He ended up making a mound with a point on the top.  We knocked it down because it looked a little umm...PG-13...it was intended to be a mountain, in particular part of the Blue Ridge mountains.  He is currently learning the 5 regions of Virginia: Piedmont, Tidewater, Valley & Ridge, Appalachian Plateau, Blue Ridge.  I happened to learn a few things as well :)

I was loving the Phillies hat!  Yes, that was all my doing.  Notice the P on Ryan's hat as well!!  hehe!  Sadly, my boys lost...major tears and shock in this household.  The tears may have been a result of brewfest...

And boys will be boys when there are Funnel Cakes!  Less than three minutes and this bad boy was gone, fingers were licked and smiles were seen.  It was impressive if I do say so myself. 
Happy Weekend!
Much love.