“It's a goofy thing but I just gotta say, hey, I'm doing alright…
I'm feeling pretty good and that's the truth
It's neither drink nor drug induced, no,
I'm just doing alright
And it's a great day to be alive
I know the sun's still shining
When I close my eyes
There's some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can't every day be just this good”
Travis Tritt really knew what he was talking about huh? Time is one of the most interesting parts of life. It can be both the greatest gift and the most painful passenger on your shoulder. Many times we overlook time or how long it’s been since we last looked at how great each day is just to be present and alive. I’ve thought about time a lot lately. My life has been a whirlwind since I moved to Texas and with each year that passes I see more and more milestones that I’m running through in my life. This week is especially interesting to me. It is February 8th. That means it’s only a month away from my 26th birthday. How scary this last year has flown by and even scarier to think how the next chapter of my life might go by just as quickly. I am officially closer to 30 than I am to being 20. It’s a moment of a lot of personal reflection.
I feel old. I know, I know, I’m not hitting the big 5-0 or anything but I feel old in the sense of time and all that has happened and developed in my life since I turned 20. Since I turned 20 that’s 9 different places I’ve called home, 7 different towns, and out of two different states. In almost six years that’s about 8 different jobs with a few of them overlapping. I’ve been graduated from Oak Ridge for almost 8 years now? Can that really be right? That’s many years of learning who my dearest friends are and a few failed relationships. That is a lot of thankful years to those that lead me to my relationship today. In fact, this last weekend marks the third “anniversary” of mine and Danny’s first date. Although our relationship has not always been easy sailing we still enjoy marking the date each year to recognize one another. Small side note: Our first date was on Lavaca Street in Austin sharing fish tacos and drinking a few cold ones together. He made me laugh A LOT and very awkwardly kissed me at the end of the date, something I still tease him about. In three years we have broken up, been together, and loved each other. That’s a lot of time. Together we have built a farm in two years with 17 ANIMALS, made a home in the last year with Madi, and plan a future for what I hope will be many more wonderful years.
I’m rounding the corner to 4 years of Texas living. HOLY COW... or is it Donkey now? I’m not sure. In 4 years I’ve learned to run a home, to work for what I want in life, and balance work with play. No I have not always been successful but the best way to learn is by experience right? When I first moved to Texas I didn’t even want to get out of bed, THAT IS A FACT. I was sad, depressed, and missing my “home” dearly. It probably didn’t help that I moved here in the middle of the very hot, humid, summer heat and rain, right? WHY does it rain in July here? Now I’m here, my home is here all along with my heart. Do I get sad when I think of home? All of the time, more then I let on at that. I would love to be able to have lunch and coffee with old friends on a regular basis. I would love more than anything to be able to go wine tasting and share all of the gossip and excitement of my life in person all the time with the girls I grew up with. But the fact of the matter is that after 3.5 years I would miss this hot, humid, allergy ridden state way, Way too much. I would miss my home and waking up to the sound of our farm babies rustling around for breakfast and Madi creaking open our bedroom door. I would miss fishing, Texas Sunsets, and summer lasting until November. Shoot I would probably even miss all of these mosquitoes!
I’m hitting my own milestones here with my Little Family. In the last year we’ve really learned to be a family. It has not come without challenges either. I might not be done growing as a person yet, but making sure dinner is on the table and schedules were met for all three of us as changed a lot of that. Shoot, I thought I was done attending cheer functions for at least another ten or so years! I just ended my own cheer adventures about 8 years ago, but our lives always have a way of coming full circle. I do have a lot of families, including my own Parents, Aunts, and Uncles, to help with this transition. Since I was younger I’ve always been trusted to care for little ones babysitting. So to those parents a very large THANK YOU for helping me in this department as a caregiver.
In the last several years I’ve learned to think forward and forgive the things I can’t change from my past. I am so far from perfect but I’m trying my hardest. There are so many things that I wish I would have told myself not to stress about since I was 20, even a few just six months ago or last week. I think about where I was at in my life until now and thank Heavenly Father above that my life is filled with so much happiness and so many, MANY blessings. I try to live each day as happy as possible. Obviously like everyone else some days are much easier to love than others. I like to think of myself as an always evolving and moving forward kind of individual. I’m still me though; I have just found a better version of myself and hope to continue loving my life regardless of when I turn 26, 30, 50… Dead. JUST KIDDING, but seriously. So I’ll toast to embracing this new year of growing up and cheers to loving each new step of my life. So incase you don’t know what I’m talking about after this post go listen to, “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” by Travis Tritt- that’s the kind of vibe I’m feeling RIGHT now during my last month as a 25 year old.
It has been forever since I’ve had time to write a post! The holidays have come and gone and we are still trying to deal with the aftermath house bomb brought on by it. Of course we had a great last couple of weeks getting together with family, filling our bellies with yummy food, and ringing in the New Year in the Snow Mountains of Utah. Now we’ve made our way home and picked up the sweetest, apricot colored addition to our always-growing farm family, Penelope Rose (Minipig). Queen P is our second Minipig baby. Owning a pig is so very different than owning a dog or a cat. YUP, this post will be about owning a pig. I feel just as crazy for writing it as you may feel reading it.
We found our first mini piglet last December when we were on the hunt to find Madi a Hedgehog for Christmas. You know? Hedgehog, mini pig, it is kind of the same thing right? We saw Henry and I fell in love! He was a teeny tiny little piggy with a chubby belly and HUGE Mohawk. I had to have him and to my delight Danny actually agreed to get him. So not only did we end up with a Hedgehog for Christmas but also a real snorting pig, I guess it was the year of the Hog for us. I knew absolutely NOTHING about pigs before Henry. I had never even held a piglet in a petting zoo. So I did my research for the next few weeks leading up to our pickup day and hoped for the best. There are so many things I was not aware of that I wish I had known before getting him. With so many individuals reaching out to me over the last year, and most definitely after getting Penelope this last week, I feel like it’s my weird duty as a pig owner to share my gathered information so that others may be knowledgeable before pursuing a pig pet of their own. From my first hand experience and after much reading this is what I’ve found to be most important. I feel that YouTube videos filming small baby piglets swimming in a bathtub or wearing a cute outfit can cause a deceiving notion about what it means to REALLY own and care for a pig. Call me the crazy pig lady but this may just save many of you a lot of trouble.
A typical family is established when two people fall in love, get married, and decide to start a family. When they announce that they are having a baby there is blissful cheer and celebration. I can't help but be envious of how easy that family dynamic must be. My family is not so simple and did not start this way. We are made up of many families and lot's of explaining. When I explain my situation it isn't often met with the same blissful cheer as a baby announcement would be. Instead I get a lot of perplexed faces, concern, and questions of who's who related to?
So what does it take to be a Parent? What differentiates a good parent from a bad parent? What about Step-parents? These are just a few of the questions that weigh heavily on my mind almost on a daily basis. This is obviously a very heavy topic that hits close to my heart. I myself come from a blended family and now my own heart and life is set pursuing a blended family. I may not have a ring on my finger, yet ;) that is, but that does not mean that my life isn’t consumed with parenting or that I am any less of a parent. As you may sense, I am highly sensitive and passionate about this topic. So brace yourself for a long post.
Most people on the outside would look at my Little Family confused. I am 25, Daniel is turning 34, and his (our) daughter is 11. I know how it looks, I know what people think, and many times I’ve been confronted with negativity from others. I’ve actually had women in person on more than one occasion act rudely towards me and belittle me because I’m not Madison’s, or for that matter anyone’s biological “Mother”, or they’ve heard things. It absolutely crushes my heart. It’s as if to tell me I shouldn’t be as respected in her life or taken seriously because I don’t necessarily have a title. I’m not perfect and I have never claimed that I have been from the start of my relationship with Danny. I have grown and learned a lot since I first started dating Danny and have navigated through our relationship for almost the last three years now. It is NOT easy being in my shoes but it creates even more of a challenge when I feel those living in the same town as my family don’t support us. Have you ever felt the whispers of dozens in a small town hit you? It really isn’t fun. It has created an entire complex within myself. I am always wondering if I will ever be good enough or what I must do to prove myself to those around me. At times it makes me feel entirely hopeless. A feeling that is not easily fixed with a Band-Aid like a surface scratch. No, this feeling hits much deeper and closer to the heart.
I have read tons of the books, blogs, and pins about stepparenting. Let me tell you, it’s crap. It’s ALL CRAP. I mean just Google the term “Step Parenting” and see what pops up. There isn’t even a correct way to spell stepparent. Is it Step parent, Stepparent, or Step-parent? This is a life long learning process that can’t be managed into a few chapters of a book or ten key bullet points. You can’t read about how to be a stepparent, or for that matter how to be a great one. You can’t read about all the scenarios that may occur, you can’t read about how you’re supposed to act when it comes to education, birthdays, holidays, disciplining, and exactly how you’re supposed to help mold them into the best possible little human. There’s no book written about how to communicate effectively to your S.O. when it comes to parenting or about the challenges and complicated nature of co-parenting. And certainly there is no book written on how to defend yourself against the negativity. It’s incredibly difficult. No one really understands either. “Well you’re not the parent so what does it matter?” OR “None of that is your responsibility anyway.” But yes, she is my responsibility. It is my responsibility to help her be her absolute best self in this world. It is my responsibility to instill good values upon her and to always help her light shine with confidence when she’s within my care, at our home, or on her own growing up in this world. When I decided to date Daniel I collectively made the choice to date Madison as well. I decided to be apart of BOTH of their lives. I decided to love them both. It has been both rewarding and challenging. It is most definitely not a cakewalk.
The world has portrayed stepparents as evil, terrible beings. They’ve grouped all of us into this category of evil selfishness with ill intent for our step children. Even the movie Mother’s Day, just released THIS year, with Jennifer Aniston makes a mess of stepparenting joking of how her ex husband is dating a tween unfit to parent. Think about it, can you actually name ten movies or books that glow about step parenting? I bet you could easily rattle off about 50 names of worthy biological Mother-Daughter or Father-daughter parenting movies. Although Cinderella and Snow White did have it pretty bad, has anyone actually looked at the opposite side of things? Has anyone noticed the good stepparents? I’m talking about the stepparents who choose to love another child as their own when the entire world, and sometimes their own family/friends, work against them. Has anyone noticed when I attend cheer competitions, school functions, or birthdays? How about when I go out of my way to make sure Madison has what she needs, makes it to practice, appointments, and I wake up early to make her lunch and take her to school on time. Has anyone noticed that I listen to her and I look out for her best interest in all things: her future, her friendships, her health, her family, or even her general emotions of the day. I care and I listen, and I love for this little girl day in and day out. I'm not seeking to replace her parents or hinder the bond established between herself and the ones who gave her life. Rather I'm trying to shed light on a topic that's difficult to approach for many in my shoes.
I have known Madi since she was 8 and in third grade. I have been around for her 9th, 10th, and now her 11th birthday. I can tell you she likes tortellini, cheese pizza, and actually loves most fruits and veggies. Madi loves sweets. Ice cream, cake, cookies, and most especially candy. Madi is creative, smart, beautiful and funny. She’s a great storyteller and tumbler. She is always experimenting with slime and watching YouTube videos about pimples (she wants to be a dermatologist) and cheer (she also wants to own a cheer gym). But what she doesn’t know is that many times she has taught me about myself. She has taught me to be more open and patient towards others. She has taught me to love more when my emotions wear thin. I have learned to be less selfish and less self-centered because children come first. Madi has taught me to be a more affection person when she opens her arms to hug me or just wants to be around me when I’m working. My heart feels full. I have opened my eyes to seeing how great of a person her father is when I witness him being a great dad. I get to witness this daily when most couples have to wait to see until they have children of their own. Most importantly she loved me back when I was scared to be in MY own shoes.
I do not have ill intentions for this little girl who has opened her heart and shared her Daddy with me. I do not wish her to eat a poison apple or to ship her off to boarding school like the books and movies have played me out to be. I want what's best for her always. How could I ever want anything less than a grand life for her? Stepparenting is hard, I won’t lie about that, I still have much to learn and accomplish within myself to be great for her. It takes a lot of energy to cancel out the noise of the negativity surrounding my family, but it is worth it. I’m just trying to be the parent I would want raising my children and you know what? That’s the best I can do. Stepparenting is a gift I never thought I’d have the opportunity to unwrap but certainly one I hope to never give up. My heart is so full each day and happy to be apart of THIS life with my blended Little Family.