Like most of the population, my life is not a fairy tale.  My husband will fully admit that he’s not Prince Charming and I’d like to think that I’m not the Wicked Stepmother.  I certainly have my moments, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a stepdaughter; it’s because I have bad days just like everyone else. 

Have I ever wished that my stepdaughter’s birth mom could be in her life so we could get every other weekend off while she visits her?  Sure.  Have I ever wished that she would disappear down a river or at a school science fair?  Not a chance. 

I’ve been in my stepdaughter’s life for 10 of her 12 years and I’m not about to quit while I’m ahead.  I was incredibly lucky to be involved in her life at such a young age – she decided on her own to call me “Mom” after I married her dad when she was 4 (“Mommy” was saved for her birth mom).  I’m not sure at that point that I had really earned the title, but she sure put me to task to try.

Stepmoms have a hard job because we have to be a mom to kids without replacing their birth moms (for better or for worse).  We have to start and maintain a relationship with our husbands while also forging relationships with his children – which are all on completely different levels depending on the age and personality of the kids.  I used to dream for the day my stepdaughter would turn 18 because I’d finally have “alone time” with my husband.  Then we decided to have a child of our own and “reset” the clock by 8 years.  *facepalm*

As tough as it has been to raise my stepdaughter with my husband as primary parent, I know I’m one of the lucky ones who was able to remove a toxic birth mom from our daughter’s life.  Though we did try to maintain contact for many years, we don’t have to deal with her birth mom on a regular basis anymore.  We certainly keep tabs on her so when age 18 does roll around we can let them have contact on my stepdaughter’s terms, but that’s about it.  I do get a small kick out of the fact that if/when she does make contact with her birthmom, it will be a role reversal of her birthmom not being able to replace her stepmom as an important part of her life. 

One of the hardest aspects of being a stepmother is knowing that I missed out on the early moments of her life.  Things that happened when she was a baby I only know through hear-say and a handful of photos, and the things I was around for I hardly remember now because of the introduction of the twins into our lives.  I think I’ve been able to teach my stepdaughter a lot though, and as long as she safely graduates high school, I’ll know that I really did contribute to the life of another.

What’s funny is that I think of her as my kid, but at the same time get a little defensive when it comes to distinguishing her as a stepdaughter – because I guess certain appearances are more important than I ever thought before – but I don’t really want people to think that I was pregnant at my high school graduation.  ;)

I’m not afraid of what the teenage years are going to bring because I can deal with her on a more mature level now.  I survived taking her to Kindergarten, middle school orientation, and many Saturdays standing in the rain watching her play soccer.  It took a while to get here, but the package deal when I married my husband was well worth the journey.  I don’t recommend being a stepmom to everyone, but it can work out without putting the stepkids into domestic slavery, feeding them poisoned apples, or any of the real-life horror stories.

Does anyone have any fun step-parent stories to share?  Bring it - the good, the bad, the ugly.  I've probably heard them all in the last 10 years.
 
 
It’s Wednesday and time again for me to post a weekly rambling.  I’ve got a fairly good list of topics piling up, but this week I thought I’d laugh at some Sarah Palin quotes that I read while reading about the fabricated controversy about building an Islamic community center a few blocks away from the site of the former World Trade Centers in New York.

I’m starting to wonder if Sarah Palin is just a really convincing Stephen Colbert character?  She calls out the ultra-conservative movement issues to show how absurd they are and bring people to realize they are more moderate in their views than they thought.

"We have a President, perhaps for the very first time since the founding of our republic, who doesn't appear to believe that America is the greatest earthly force for good the world has ever known." --Facebook note, June 30, 2010

Well I should certainly hope he thinks so.  That’s a bit egotistical of a statement to make.  Yes, America is a great place to live.  Yes, America has had a huge impact on the world – for better or for worse – since its founding.  But no, we absolutely cannot say that we are an “earthly force for good” when there are people who live here that demonstrate consistently that humans are flawed creatures.  We have violence and intolerance.  We have poor support for new families when they need time off of work.  We live in a global climate and for as wonderful as America is, I think we’ve fallen a few steps in the last 10 years – and having that perspective keeps us on track to aspire to be better as Americans and as humans.

"I think it's appalling and a violation of our freedom of the press." —On negative media coverage of Republican congressional candidate Vaughn Ward, Boise, Idaho, May 21, 2010

Wait, what?  I don’t even know what negative media coverage that guy got, but excuse me?  I do believe that freedom of the press includes all speech, not just what Sarah Palin agrees with.

On the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero: "We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?"  OF COURSE THEY SHOULD.  We are a country founded on the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state – Obama’s statements in response to her questions have been very appropriate.  We can’t dictate what religions are okay and where they can practice.  And the community center can’t even been seen from Ground Zero, so they’re only playing this up because they want to rally their herd to follow blindly on another non-issue.

I know I’m a “left coast” person, but c’mon – there has been Islamic prayer sites around the World Trade Center since before there WAS a World Trade Center.  There are MANY religious centers in that area – with quite a few closer to the “Ground Zero” site than the planned Park 51.   And you know what?  If the site of the World Trade Center is such hallowed ground, why are there strip clubs and gambling establishments close to it?

You know what Sarah?  I was also brought up in the public school system and went to a public state university, but there’s one thing that apparently got missed along your educational journey – tolerance and diversity.

By the way, after all my musing over this subject for the past week or so that it’s been “news,” Keith Olbermann comes out and makes a great statement on the absurdity of it all.  I won’t re-state any of his comments, but it does call out how this is a silly witch hunt using hot button topics.

The Colbert nation should be worried - the Palin herd is coming and they don't know that it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.
 
 
I'm going to attempt to more consistently write blog entries so check back here on Wednesdays for new topics!

For today's entry I'm going to tackle sugar addiction.  Why?  Because I had ice cream for dinner two nights in a row last Sunday and Monday and decided that maybe my stress is having a bigger effect on me than I thought.  I worked hard to lose weight after having twins, but didn't even get around to doing that much until they were 2 years old.  Now they're almost 4 and I've gained a lot of it back again due to one thing or another in my life.  (Why yes, having the guillotine over my head for over a year at work before finally getting laid off in April DID cause undue stress in my life.  Why do you ask?)  So now I'm working too hard at my new job and am still not fully recovered from the stress of the last one.  Not a good combination for someone who has a serious sugar addiction and is married to someone who's even more of one than I am.  I call him my "enabler" for a reason!

I learned a long time ago that I can't do the complete abstention of sugar for long before I eat enough to average out the drought period.  What worked for me back in 2004 (pre-twins!!) when I lost 25% of my body weight was to log my food intake for at least a month and schedule certain days for some amount of physical exercise.  The food logging helped with making sure that I wasn't sneaking too many extra snacks that I didn't really need.  At that time I really didn't have any idea of how many calories a day I was consuming or how many I should be consuming.  Of course now, post-pregnancy it's a different ballgame in terms of how my body reacts to all sorts of things - food, running, sleeping, you name it.  With my work schedule and commute there's no realistic way to exercise everyday anymore, but as long as I know that on some days I need to take the extra effort to get out the door, I should be fine.  I also know that I do better with picking certain days of the week to exercise rather than a generic "4 to 5 days a week" - because when I do that inevitably I run out of days of the week before do all my runs.

As of yesterday I'm back to food logging again.  (Not food blogging, that would take me in the opposite direction of what I want in terms of food intake).  I won't blog about the daily in's and out's, but if it works, I'll certainly give updates!  I got out and jogged 2 1/2 miles last night pushing both twins in their pj's in our folding stroller.  Next time I'll take the time to get the jogging stroller out, but last night I didn't get home from work until after 7p and I had to put them to bed soon.  My only goal when I got out the door was to walk for 20-30 minutes, so I didn't think it would be an issue - ha!  I jogged, silly me.  If I'm out of the house and exercising I generally am in a better mood and eat less sugar.  It's one of those things that I always know is true as I'm digging around in the kitchen for hidden chocolate, but I'm out of practice in actually doing it.

Sugar addiction is obnoxious and I know that I'm no where near the level that many others are at.  But everyone has their breaking point and I'm hoping that I hit mine.  I don't want my doctor to ask me if I need a thyroid test to see if there's any reason other than my love of food causing me to gain weight (my lovely breaking point in 2004).  Banning it from the house is only part of the solution for me since my husband inevitably goes out and buys chocolate chips during the day so he can make cookies and feed HIS sugar addiction.  I think as long as I don't tell myself that I can't have ANY sugar I'm okay.  As long as I give myself permission to have a little bit here and there as a treat I can do it.  And that's the critical definition I like to use: if you have it everyday it's not a treat, it's a habit.  I don't know who said that originally, but I've been using it for a while.

Here's where you, the reader, come in - what are your favorite methods for getting away from sugar addictions?  How do you "detox" if you find yourself starting to eat more sugar than you'd like?

Update 8/16/10: As this is a continuing struggle for lots of people, there's an article on Yahoo! about it discussing "10 tactics for overcoming sugar addiction."