i have 4 diapers…

…and 24 pull-ups left.

My choice is either to buy more diapers or potty train a 23 month old and my daughter is ready to potty train and it will be one less drain on my bank account so, ‘why not?’.

I know she’s ready, but I’m not sure if I am. She’s my baby and I know she’s my last and I don’t know if I’m ready to call her my ‘big girl’ yet. She’s everyone’s baby…my boys especially. This little girl is so spoiled and I don’t stop the love or the spoiling.

Tonight in Target we bought new ‘big girl Minnie Mouse panties’ (her fav is Minnie Mouse) and as we walked through the store a little boy, about 12 months younger than her, called her a baby. She was mad! She didn’t like it! I even tried to say, “Well, aren’t you Mom Mom’s (me) baby?” and her defiant answer was, “NO”!!

So then I asked if she was a big girl and was ready to sit on the potty (Men – forgive me – I know you’re ready to hit the “x” but don’t yet) and she said no, she didn’t want to be a big girl. She told me “baby” and pointed at herself. I was sooooo tempted to let my little girl continue to think that she was my baby but all that would have done is stunt her growth, mentally and physically.

Not her fault.

As much as I hate the torment that her father has chosen to put her through mentally because he has ‘ducked’ out of his marriage without trying to put any effort into it, it’s not her fault. I just have to protect her from the harm that his lifestyle may bring her.

My little lady is so much stronger than I could ever wish to be. And she doesn’t even know how strong she is or will have to be in the future. I sit and tear up sometimes just watching how care free she is because she has no clue how much her father and his family don’t want to play an active, healthy, role in her life. They only play an active role when they are ready to or choose to or have time to or have money to.

For example, it’s normal that her father will get mad at me for something and then will pull the “I want to see my daughter” card. So I say, ok, as long as she isn’t around your felon brothers (still on probation until 2022) or mother (who has her own issues), then I’m cool with it.

Control.

Then he always responds with, “you can’t control who she’s around when she’s with me” which basically, confirms all of my fears – that she’ll be around his entire dysfunctional family that drinks a lot, excluding the one brother that isn’t dysfunctional (because he wants nothing to do with them). So, then I say that I’m uncomfortable with it, and then I become the ‘witch’…because he can’t possibly take care of himself and live on his own or take care of his daughter on his own, right? That’s too much to ask, right? He gets to be a bachelor and live like he’s 23 again, with a felon roommate/brother (that has a conviction that includes aggravated assault with a weapon) (and not just a conviction – he was in prison for 6 years) right? I should have NO say who my 23 month old daughter is around, considering how much her entire fathers’ family treats women like garbage.

False.

He’s a dad now. He needs to act like it. He just doesn’t know how. Good luck to him.

Thank goodness I have an amazing attorney.

My confidence level has come from so many places but one of them (not the main one) is that I found an attorney, at the last minute, that didn’t make me feel like I was being overly dramatic, or needy, or anything but jilted and wronged. She believed me. She felt my pain. She is going to work to get the most for me that I can possibly get, under laws written strategically for the protection of fathers.

Whether it was an act or not, I told my attorney exactly how I felt, how every other male attorney made me feel like I was ‘every other jilted wife’ and why I felt as though I needed to fight my hardest to win what was rightly mine, even after only seven months of marriage. And she agreed, she believed me, she got it, she understood…she took my case.

My soon-to-be-ex made soooo many mistakes including possibly opening up his girlfriend, Bethany D., for a lawsuit herself, that all I can say right now is to take your time…think through your choices…make sure you really want to do this (…or if other people are influencing your decisions.)

Dating a divorcee’.

Ending a marriage isn’t as easy as walking away. If you decide to date a divorcee and they’ve told you that they were the one that walked away after seven months, without question, without remorse, …you should be the one questioning things. Don’t hesitate to think, “this man is almost 40 and he can’t keep his marriage together more than seven months?? He must have issues.” And if you think these things, I promise you will be on-target.

Luckily, I’ve begun to move on. I wasn’t the one that inflicted the pain this time (or the last) so my conscience is clean. I will smile with a big smile and know that I’ve been true to my kids…that I tried everything. I wasn’t the one that bailed or chose another ‘thing’ over my marriage.

I will know that I was the one that taught my daughter so many important life lessons including how to live without diapers. That I told my soon-to-be-ex that these big life events were happening in her life and he offered zero support.

I did it.

She did it.

We did it. (or at least this week we will do it!)

Girl power!

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who i was meant to be with

17.

Seventeen years ago I met a man that I agreed to marry.

I can honestly say that I was too young to get married at age 24…maybe I should say I was too immature. But who’s to say who’s mature and who’s immature at that age because from the outside looking in, I had it all going for me in the ‘maturity department’. I had a dream, full-time job that I loved and that paid for our lives (his income was extra). I owned my own home. I had a car almost paid off. I had little debt. BUT looking back, I never should have been given the ‘license to get married’.

My parents marriage looked easy…but only because I focused on the marriage that I remembered from about age 13 and on…and by that age they had been married for 18 years and at that point married couples tend to have an ‘ebb and flow’. I thought my marriage would be easy, or at least easier than what I went through.

But then you add in-laws (that aren’t easy – really tortuous) and then add in disease within your own family, throw in a dose of kids and a spouse that didn’t add physically what he didn’t add financially and then you have a whole lot of resentment.

And I had no idea how to deal with it. And to be honest, I can clear my conscience by saying that because of the disease, there is nothing that I could have done (and we tried a lot of things) that could have saved my first marriage.

A New(ish) Love.

Then a rekindling of a romance that was older than my first marriage started after I filed for divorce from my first husband and it was on! The butterflies, the sweet-talk, the hours of conversation, the romantic texts, the first time that anyone said ‘I love you’, the late night calls, the calls just to say ‘I love you’, the excitement before you see them the weekend that you don’t have the kids, the giddiness in choosing the perfect outfit…the excitement of a new love.

I had never felt it like I did with Erik. We would text all night…he would call me in the middle of the night when a rough night as an EMT happened, I would call to get his advice about how to fix something on my car, we would make each other laugh about the stupid things his brothers had done or why my boys would decide to stay up talking about Power Rangers for an hour after I told them to go to sleep.

Erik got me, understood me, we made each other laugh, we were there for each other when we needed to cry. When his dad decided to haunt me (he passed away in 2008), he would tell me how to stop the ‘haunting’; when I needed to give him another perspective other than the “I’m going to throw my gloves down and fight” perspective, he would call me. When I had a late flight home, I knew I could call him and he’d pick up, because he was working late too. He had faith in my skills and gave me the leeway to grow his business and I did it to great heights. We both love country music, we both understand that it’s fun to sit on the patio, around the fire pit and do nothing else…just sit. I didn’t have to fill empty air with him – he understood me. We were great.

Then…no new(ish) love.

Until we weren’t. Until he thought that the grass was greener on the other side.

Now his ‘perfect’ life is defined as living with his felon-brother and complaining non-stop about how much he has to work. Poor guy – he left a great life with a capable wife to live with his brother and be under his mother’s control because she has the money (or at least used to). Can you hear the sarcasm in my words?? 🙂

With all of that said, I still honestly believe that I was meant to be with this man. Maybe I feel that way because I am still so close to the situation, but if his family weren’t influencing him, I truly believe that we would still have a chance.

But then reality sets in. He doesn’t deserve what he threw away. He doesn’t deserve a marriage worth working for because he doesn’t have the guts and strength to fight for love or for someone that gave her all. He doesn’t deserve kids that loved him so much that it’s now painful for them to see him, that he has scarred them. He doesn’t deserve a life with me. He doesn’t deserve me.

For heaven’s sake, he didn’t even offer any help during the prep for Hurricane Irma or the cleanup after Hurricane Irma. I had to ask him for help to move the piece of junk Jeep that I bought and he was ‘improving’ so that I could get my car in the garage. Stand-up guy, right?!?

But that’s not who I was with for years before his family moved to town. I was with a man that was suited to be an EMT, a man that cared so much about people and how they were feeling, how they were doing, that it scarred him to see people in such distress one night after a car accident that he responded to, that he wasn’t sure he could continue in this field. I even pushed him to go back to school to become a nurse because he was that perfectly suited to be in that field. He was just that caring and had such a huge heart for others.

Within one or two months after his mom and brothers moved to town, he forgot who he was without them. He changed his whole persona to please them and meet the view that they had of him…to make his mommy happy, not his wife. He threw me to the wayside.

Stinks that he chose his mom and his adulterous life over his own wife and kids.

My New Love Life…whenever that happens…

It’s going to be hard to start dating again, because right now, I still believe he is the man I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life. Twelve months from now I may tell you something different but until then it still hurts to not walk hand in hand down the sidewalk of life with him. It’s still painful to plan for the future without him. But I have to and I have to keep moving.

Thankfully, God has given me so many wonderful things to focus on. I can’t even begin to tell you the strength he has given me through amazing people in my life. From my family, to my extended blood-related family, to my hockey family, to my work friends, to my oldest friends, to my best friends, to my neighbors and to my new friends that I’ve found during this tough time, God has shown me that my life is truly rich, no matter what the balance in my bank account is.

My ‘Staci 3.0’ has truly shown me who I was meant to be with, God and Me. And that’s it. If others want to join me on my journey, then join but this is my journey to own and enjoy. Jump on when you want and jump off when you want – that’s your choice. All I know is that I’m on this roller coaster ride whether I like it or not so I’ve decided to enjoy the dips, the climbs, the fast downs, the spins, the upside down loops…all because I know I’m on it for the thrill and that my God will keep me safely in my seat. When he’s ready for it to come to a stop and he wants to show me what’s at the end of the ride, I’ll be there but until then, I’ll just sit back and relax (or at least try to).

And until then, I’ll just enjoy being with me – the person I was meant to be with for the rest of my life.

Signing your kid up for athletics? Let me pass along some tips to help you keep sane.

If you are craving some drama then sign your kids up for sports. Or anything competitive. Make a few friends, particularly seek out the parents that are the friendliest and seem to know everyone because they are the ones that know all of the drama. And then sit back and listen. You’ll feel better about your life afterward…just watch. It’s truly amazing to witness. It’s fodder for comedy shows on TV but it’s real – trust me!

This hockey season, my kids will be driven to the hockey rink 6 days a week…6 days a week – I’m insane. It’s stupid and ridiculous but I love it and wouldn’t change it. At least, for now, both boys play the same sport so we can kill two birds with one stone and only have to go to one ‘practice field’. This also means that I’ll hear about some kind of drama six days each week.

Youth Athletic Parent Personality Types

It really doesn’t matter what the sport is, the drama is always there. And it usually doesn’t come from the kids – it’s from the parents. And when you are involved in multiple sports you’ll find out that there are a few personality types in every parent group at the sport of choice: *The gossip, *The I’ve played this sport all of my life know-it-all, *The yeller/loud one/cheerleader, *The parent that critiques all of the coaches and refs, *The parent that has the ‘perfect’ child, *The parent that is the best at scheduling and overscheduling their kid and they let you know it, *The parent that is living their dreams through their kid, *The parent that is trying to date every single parent that has a kid on the team, and *The parent that rips their seven-year-old a new one when they pass the puck in front of the net.

6 Things to Remember when you Pay those Team Fees

So as you think about signing your son or daughter up for cheer, dance, football, or hockey (or anything else), keep these 6 things in mind to help your son or daughter enjoy every second of their extra-curricular activity of choice:

1. The best advice that anyone has ever given me is that my son(s) will not be playing in the NHL. That’s the first thing that was said during the first parent meeting that I ever attended when my oldest started playing hockey. In my heart, I want my boys to strive for the NHL because it gives them a reason to push themselves but in my head, I remind myself that they are playing for the love of the game and that’s it.

2. I am raising men not hockey players. My little men are people not machines. I need to always remember this. I need to care how they treat others more than how great their backwards skating is. I need to care about their grades more than how much ice time they are getting during games. I need to care about their social skills and social life more than how much extra instruction they need outside of their practice and game times.

3. How your child performs in the sport is not a reflection on you. How they act toward others, ref’s, and their coaches – this is a reflection on you.

4. When your child starts they will not be great. When they are done with a season, they will not be perfect. BUT they will have had fun, they will have more friends, and they will grow their skill set. I promise. You’ll be amazed at where they start and where they end.

Encourage them during and after each practice or each game. Let the coaches be the coaches and let them be the critics. You get to be the cheerleader and photographer. When they get off of the ice, ask if they had fun, mention your favorite move that they made and then drop the ‘shop talk’ unless your kid wants to discuss the game. The more you push, and push, and push early on, the more likely it will be that they’ll want to stop sooner than later.

5. Parents are super duper, times ten, competitive. To some, their kid is the best, so whatever they have to do to push their kid to the forefront they’ll do it, even if that means putting another kid down. BUT the kids just want to go out and have fun. Let them. Stay out of it. Stand back, scroll through Twitter, talk to a few parents about the football game that you’re going to this weekend. You’ll be happier and they’ll be happier. You won’t be consumed with making sure they are pushing themselves to the toughest limit and they won’t be stressed wondering if they will get yelled at when they get off of the ice.

6. Whatever sport your child chooses, the longer that you are involved with that sport or league, the closer you will get to the parents. If you don’t gossip, are supportive of the other teammates, and aren’t ‘that parent’ that gets kicked out of the rink for swearing at a child (this really does happen unfortunately in every youth athletic program), you’ll come to find that the parents that you meet will become family.

I look forward to going to the rink because there are parents there that I have come to know and grow with as our kids get older and more involved with the sport. Some of these people I’ve known for seven years or more and they have become extended family to me and the kids. I look forward to seeing these people, even with all of our flaws (and I’m included in this group). You have to appreciate that not everyone will see everything the same, that rumors fly fast (and the rumors are usually about personal lives), and that another parent (or even you) will say something stupid to a coach, ref, or you that should never have been said. BUT you have to remember that we’re all human. We are all in love with our kids and want the best for our kids. So if you can remember this whenever the drama happens, it won’t seem so bad. I love my hockey family and wouldn’t change things for the world.

You just have to embrace it and all of the personalities that come with being involved in athletics or anything competitive. Once you accept that no one is perfect, including you, and that your kid won’t be winning the gold medal in swimming next week, you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying the ‘ride’.

Bonus Tip: If you are asked to be the “Team Mom”, run, just run, as far away as you can…just trust me.

And btw – in case you didn’t know, my kids are the best hockey players ever and are being recruited now for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just kidding. Not really. Yes, of course I’m kidding.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

a book!!!: hockey sticks and pink bows adventure #8

I am soooo excited for this adventure even though it’s going to take a few weeks. As usual, my oldest is just as excited and my #2 man groaned, even after #1 reminded him how much he loves each adventure after it’s done.

This adventure is brought to us by my silly grandma.

My grandma was one of my favorite people in the world. And even though she isn’t with us anymore, she still is one of my favorite people. Something that I hold very dear to me is that I have a baby picture of her next to one of my baby pictures and other than the fact that mine is in color, it looks like the very same baby. I can only hope that one day, when I’m older, I won’t just look like her, but I’ll have her outlook on life too!

The older that she got, the spunkier she got. I hope to be the same Grandma that she was one day (a LONG time from now). She fully defined the old clichéd statement, “the older you get, the less you care what anyone thinks”. And I lived this stage of her life with her when I was old enough to appreciate the value in not caring what anyone thinks…I wish I was as brave as her. I strive for that each day.

Recently when my parents were cleaning out closets, they found a little notebook that she had written in at some point while she was in school. It is a simple, adorable story about a little girl that didn’t have much but had eyes that sparkled and only saw the positive in life…she had hope when most wouldn’t see hope. It’s a sweet little children’s story that she wrote that I’m trying to edit and turn into a children’s book.

This created an opportunity to plan an adventure for the boys and a chance to connect them to my grandma that I loved so dearly and they never had a chance to meet.

Creating our very own book together!

We are creating the illustrations for the book together. I think that it will be so amazing to see their pictures, their interpretations of her words, together with her words. I think she would be so proud…she would be shy in wanting her words published, not because she was embarrassed by the story but would be afraid that no one would appreciate her words.

For me, the best part is that I get to add my own words because, god love her, she spilled the beans about Santa Claus in the story…and who would buy a children’s book about Christmas with the bonus being that the mystique of Santa would be ruined?? So she and I both get to write this book together and it makes it even more special for me.

It’s been fun talking about what the boys can draw, and for me, where I could take the story without completely changing it from her initial design. And if nothing else, their kids may get to hear one day about how they learned about their grandma by helping to put her words into art form. They’ll have a story to pass on about someone that brought life, light, and spunk to the world.

As soon as it’s done I’m sure I’ll share it but until then, it’s been wonderful finding a way to connect them to one of my most favorite people that helped to create who I am today, my values, my memories, my life experiences. It’s been fun walking down memory lane and sharing some of these memories with them. And it’s brought me close to her again as I type out her words and add my own.

Remember these tips for going on your own adventures:

#1: Get them excited! Excitement is contagious – if you are excited, they will get excited.

#2: Materials: I printed each of the flyers above so that we could keep them in our scrapbook.

#3: For this particular adventure, I read the story to them and started the discussion about how we could break it into small sections for each page. We’ll discuss picture concepts for each page and then each of them will do a page at a time. I don’t want to overload them because I have two perfectionist and one will just end up scribbling if he gets tired of doing it and the second will stress out that it’s not perfect. I want this to be a fun memory and for them to look forward to it since it will take a few weeks to complete.

#4: During our adventure, I will take pictures of them creating these pictures and of course we’ll have the book in the end to hang on to and pass on to future generations.
Our next adventure will repeat a similar process – printing out a description of the adventure, and a collage of pictures from the adventure. Then add it to a notebook/folder so that when the year is over we can go through and relive some wonderful memories.

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

toxic mil’s

Think you’re alone in having an anxiety attack before your MIL arrives to town?? You’re not. There’s thousands of us out there and, I swear to you with everything that I have, I refuse to become that person when my boys marry.

Right in front of your face.

Why is it so hard to face facts when it comes to emotional connections? Why does the heart tell you different things than what your brain says?

My heart and my brain play this tug of war every day and some days one wins and I’m not an emotional mess and some days the other wins and I keep asking myself, “Why me?”. It’s tough. I’m just thankful that my brain is usually the one that wins out and my heart has been winning less often lately.

Then there’s days like August 21…his birthday.

My Irish Idiot’s birthday.

It stung so much that we weren’t celebrating together. I had a huge party in the planning stages before I found out that he cheated on me. I missed him so much, even though my brain told me that he doesn’t deserve even one tear. But my heart won on this day.

I’m not quite sure why I am in the place that I’m in, considering that I’ve done nothing to deserve being deserted, cheated on and lied to, and more, by my Irish Idiot and his sad family, especially considering I took a cheating husband back after I found out what he had done and wanted to move toward repairing our marriage.

It’s right in front of my face that I should shut these toxic people out of my life immediately, yet in my heart of hearts, I just want my husband back. The husband that was here before his toxic family came to town. It’s a battle between my heart and my brain, continually, and probably will be until I start to see some justice for what he’s done to me and the kids.

All about ‘ME’.

My soon-to-be-ex continues to not take responsibility for his actions and none of his family has shown one ounce of care toward the situation that their son/brother has put me in. All they care about is how this will affect them…how often they will see MY daughter…how much my Irish Idiot will have to pay me (aka his mother because they can’t stand on their own two feet). No one can look at this from a place of clear perspective to really reflect upon what’s happened and who’s been hurt by them, including innocent children.

Reality…unfortunately.

But…I guess that’s who they are. That’s who his mom raised…must be the morals that she has because they all act in the same manner toward women and she was the parent that was the main influence in their lives. Her kids, that have been so reckless with their lives (excluding the one that wants nothing to do with the older three) that they have destroyed others emotionally, financially and otherwise, and they don’t care. They show no remorse. They treat me as though I shouldn’t be upset. And if anyone has a right to be upset right now, it’s me.

But I’m treated as though I should be as emotionless as they are. That I should be able to walk away from the love of my life with ease. Sorry – YOU (In-Laws), you are the ones that are not normal. It’s not normal to rip someone’s life apart and then blame them for it.

It’s sad what this woman has done to these men that are now almost all in their 40’s (or darn close to it). If I had three children that couldn’t take care of themselves and couldn’t hold steady relationships or jobs, I would cry myself to sleep and question what I had done wrong.

But not my special MIL.

Nope…she has only said sorry to me once for her sons actions and it’s because she knows how much he messed up that night and she didn’t want to lose the second relationship (out of two) with a grandchild, because her sons are emotionally destructive to themselves and others.

And now, instead of doing what anyone else would consider as ‘the right thing’ to do, by trying to avoid destroying a woman, that has already been destroyed enough by her own son, that did so much for her son, she’s chosen a dark path…the unjust path. The path to help her son get what she thinks he deserves…only what SHE wants. She’s just as selfish as the boys she has raised. And just as big of a bully because she thinks she can bully her way into her granddaughters life by paying enough to an attorney to try to shut her own granddaughters mother out.

What you should have done, if you cared enough about your granddaughter, was to shake your son into his right mind, kick him out of your house, make him stand on his own two feet, force him to realize that when a man marries a woman, the new wife is more important than the mother, and tell him that he needs to fix what he’s done wrong. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because that’s what the little redhead needs. Refuse to allow a third son to become another ’emotional-support-child’ to help you through life.

But then again…not my special MIL.

None of that was ever done. Nope – she told me in the middle of my drama that they don’t talk about things. No one discusses issues. Heartfelt, deep, meaningful, conversations are never had. So why do I think that things would be different for my situation?? Because I thought she cared. Because she told me that she loved me, cared about me…all empty statements. Because I thought that she loved her granddaughter enough to step outside of herself and tell her son that he needed to fix this, for her granddaughter.

History has a way of repeating itself though. I don’t know a ton of details because they always glossed over everything (and that should have been a big clue to me) but they were the ‘victims’ of losing the first granddaughter apparently. According to them, the relationship is strained because of every reason that the other ex-wife has done. Not them. They’ve done nothing wrong, if you ask them. Nothing. I can only imagine that will be the same story that they tell about me in 10 years. “Poor, poor Erik. Staci’s so horrible.”

Never willing to take responsibility for their actions. It’s really sad.

Word to the wise to whoever the next McDonnell wife is…good luck. You’re truly on your own. They change afterward. They’ll give you a month, maybe two. Then they expect you to become their mom…someone who is emotionless, someone that knows that he treats women with disrespect but is expected to suck it up ‘like mom did’, and someone that will always take a backseat to the MIL…you’ll always be second.

If I knew what I now know, I honestly don’t think that I would have lasted six months into the dating relationship.

…AND there…

…you have read the emotions behind a divorce, just a small snapshot of what one feels on a daily, sometimes less, basis. It’s draining. It’s not fun. This is what you do in your spare time (9:00 pm – bedtime) thinking about because you’re raising little ones in the meantime.

I’m just thankful that this is the first that I’ve felt this emotion in weeks. It just means that I’m realizing who I was married to, who the family is, who they really are, and who I’m now embarrassed to say that I share a last name with.

I’ve started to accept that I was married to a man that I was deeply in love with but that he was more deeply in love with himself and his mother than me. I know this sounds sick but I’m really not trying to turn this in that direction. It’s just that it’s a weird…really weird…situation. Someone that leans on his own mother at 39 years old more than his own wife…that is weird…and all she did was encourage this behavior.

This stuff called ‘extended family’ is tough. If you can honestly say ‘I love her like my own mother’, please understand that you have a special relationship with your mother-in-law. From two marriages, I’ve learned that boys have a hard time leaving their mothers. And I think that this is caused, this feeling of guilt (or whatever it is), is drilled into them from birth. I have yet to have a man in my life, (other than my father and brother in law) that has truly ‘left’ the umbilical cord at home and can stand on their own two feet. When I do, that’s when I’ll truly know that I’ve found a man instead of a boy.

At this point, I can only use what I’ve experienced to enrich my sons lives, the good and bad. I’ll help them to grow to be good men, with great ethics and outstanding morals.