To My Stepdaughter

To My Stepdaughter

Wow Kami, you are 18 today! My husband’s first born and our oldest. I think back to the first time I met you. You were just as sweet, so bubbly, kind and always, always smiling. I remember your bedroom. When I started dating your dad you were 8 and I visited what is now my home for the first time, and I remember your bedroom with the pink and purple comforter and the stickers all over your dresser. You came to visit every other weekend like clockwork and my daughters would get so excited to see their new big sister. You were ecstatic to have sisters. I will never forget your spunkiness and how happy you were to see us every time you came to visit. You instantly loved me and my daughters and my family. And then when I got pregnant with both boys, you were overjoyed. I never imagined that little bedroom would be your little brother’s bedroom, navy blue with boy toys everywhere! Our family has grown and changed so much.

When I became a stepmom, I was skeptical that you and your brother would accept me as your mama. I was expecting some rebellion. Daddy’s girl and all. Now daddy had not only a new wife but two new daughters. But you surprised me every time you were with us. You never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. You never made me feel like you loved me any less. I saw the way you watched me. But not with inspecting, jealous eyes… but with curious, inquisitive eyes. When we were in the car, while I was doing my makeup, as I fed the new baby. I saw you trying to impress me. You have ALWAYS loved me like I was here all along. And I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated that over the years.

Being a stepmom in our family hasn’t been the easiest job, I’m not going to lie. Our blended family dynamics are unique and one of a kind. My daughters only have one mama, as they have never had a stepmom. Life is different for them. Your dad and I are their only parents and this is their only home. But you have had to grow up with two sets of parents. I’m sure that has not always been easy for you, especially when you were younger and had to split your time between two homes… two sets of rules… two different lifestyles. You have gone from being an only child to having a TON of siblings on both sides. You always had to share basically everything and you never once complained.

One thing that’s for sure is how lucky I am to have you in my life. I’m lucky our children have a big sister, BB, who loves them so much. Being a stepmom has taught me SO much. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned lessons. I’ve had to bite my tongue. I’ve let little things get to me and probably said things I didn’t mean. I’ve had to hold my feelings back. I’ve cried tears I didn’t want you to see. I never thought this gig would teach me so much about myself. Thank you for being patient with me.

Things we never get to tell you…. because well, life. We have ALWAYS looked forward to your visits! You have grown up to be a beautiful young lady. We love who you’ve become. You’ve made choices on your own. You have your very own car, that you bought yourself! You have a real job. And even when you wanted to quit your job because it sucked, you didn’t. And that says something about you, your willingness to stick with something. You’ve made it through your first serious relationship and I’m sure you’ve learned some things about love and life in that. You are strong. You know when to walk away and when to keep going. You never let your guard down. You always hold your head high and never show your vulnerability. You’re funny and witty. I believe you’re ready to take on the world. You are smart, caring, and compassionate. The thing that stands out about you the most is how selfless you are… I think that’s the best trait you got from your daddy.. always caring about others and how others feel. We are so lucky to be your parents.

I asked your siblings to describe you in one word. This is what they came up with…. pretty, amazing, gorgeous, and Brady says clean??!! Haha!

That pretty much sums you up girlfriend! Although life has now shown you what it’s like to be an adult with plans, work, and things to do, and we don’t get to see you as much as we’d like to, you are always loved! Thank you for allowing me to be your mom and for being a daughter I never knew I needed! You’re not my stepdaughter, you’re just my daughter and we’re just family. I love you! We hope you have an amazing 18th birthday!



This is us… 9 Years Later

This is us… 9 Years Later

Ahh, the married life. I couldn’t imagine being single again. Go on a date? Like with real clothes on? Ha! No thank you. I have no desire to want to enter back into the dating scene. Ever. Being married for me means feeling like I’m going on a first date every day, over and over again, except with the same guy. It means butterflies when he pulls in the driveway. It means waking up next to your best friend. It means being comfortable. Content. Happy.

Gene used to ask me “Are you happy? Are you sure?” But what I’ve realized over time is that it’s more than “being happy.” It’s routine and balance.

Our daily routines make the evenings together relaxing and the weekends even better. We are “used” to each other. Having that one person who knows you better than anyone is the feeling of never being alone. When I’ve had the roughest day or I’m scared or anxious or nervous.. I know that no matter what I’ll be taken care of.

We balance each other out. We keep each other in check. We have surely brought each other back to reality a few times. We remind each other when we forget. We vent and listen when we’re stressed. And my favorite, we dream together. Being around Gene, having him as my other half, makes me feel safe and comfortable.

I know I keep using the word “comfortable.” But really. That’s the perfect word! Comfortable in my own skin, comfortable talking about anything, comfortable laughing, crying, arguing, comfortable in it all. We’re comfortable in who we are and love each other for it and that only comes with time.

This fall marks 9 years being together. 9 years! Yeah, we’ve both changed a little. Maybe even grown up a little! His beard is out of control. My hair is long and nappy and needs color. After four babies, my hips are wider than ever before and the belly rolls don’t exactly make me look like a supermodel. We’ve both gained a few pounds in the last couple of years. We’re both a little imperfect and rough around the edges but that’s part of what makes us a good team. Every scar, every heartbreak, every bump in the road has gotten us right here.

We’re not always good but we’re always good together. We’ve had our challenges and setbacks but what marriage doesn’t?! That’s life. For us life just gets sweeter. And I wouldn’t want to live it with anyone else.



To My Daughters: Marry the man who will always be there

I know it’s easy to fall for the other guy. The one who looks good and talks sweet. The one who takes chances and lives on the edge. Or maybe it’s the one who is nice but doesn’t pay enough attention. He misses your new haircut or doesn’t hold the door for you.

You can love them, but leave them behind. They aren’t for you.

Marry the man who is going to pay attention. Marry the one who opens the door for you and comments on how beautiful you look, even when you’re in a t-shirt, hair in a messy bun, and no makeup on.

Marry the man who is going to wash your hair in the shower and rub your feet on the couch.

Marry the man who makes you laugh… the one who will do his best to make you smile when you’re having a bad day.

Marry the man who is going to cook dinner and doesn’t mind vacuuming the floor… the one who lets you sleep in on Sundays and when you’re not feeling well, lets you go to bed early.

Marry the man who takes care of the kids… who not only disciplines them, but enjoys them. Marry the man who will play with your toddler on the floor, and let your preschooler sleep in the bed with you… sacrificing his own sleep so that kiddo can be close to you.

Marry the man who cleans up the dog messes on the floor and helps you pick up dirty socks. Marry the man who works all day and comes home to work some more, just so you don’t have to do it all on your own.

Marry the man who would rather hang out and drink beer with you than his buddies. Marry the man who enjoys watching your tv dramas on the couch with you. Marry the man who loves to travel with you, takes you places, and lives to make memories with you.

Marry the man who worries with you. Marry the one who hides his stress most days just so you don’t stress more. Marry the man who will get through the bad times with you. Marry the man who is willing to see your perspective and understand how you feel. Marry the man who will stay when things get hard.

Marry the man who is willing to chip in… who is going to help you be a mom… who is going to make you happy… who is going to be your best friend… who is going to make you a better person.

It won’t always be easy. Even the good guy is going to make mistakes. YOU are going to make mistakes. He’s going to say the wrong things at times. He’s going to forget to pick up something on your shopping list. He’s not going to be perfect. But, he’s going to be perfect for you and he’s going to be there. He will always be there. And I promise you… you deserve THAT life.



When You Don’t Know You’re Withering Away

The photos below were taken in what feels like a lifetime apart. The first photo, me.. 24 years old… just gave birth to my second child… in a deteriorating marriage… consumed in my own guilt that I was worthless. The last photo, me now… happily re-married with three kids and two stepchildren (one not pictured) later.

The pictures each tell a story. I may weigh more now than I ever have in my life… but I’m healthy.. and content. Throughout my entire life, I have been “a little girl”… “skinny.” Yes, I have thin genes in my family.. if you’ve seen my pretty mama you know I’m a lucky gal. But my weight loss was not always thanks to genetics.

The truth is toxic relationships cause so much more than just a bad day. When you’re in a bad situation, you not only have bad days but they turn into bad weeks.. Then bad months and so on. It didn’t only affect my weight and health but my memory. I’ve never told anyone this BUT… these were the days when my daughters were tiny… and I hardly remember any of it. That makes me sadder than anything else.

When you’re in an abusive relationship… whether it‘s physically or emotionally abusive.. it affects you more than you begin to realize.

I totally thought I looked fine! Look at me! I was anorexic… I hardly ever ate.. how in the world did I breastfeed my girls?! Toxic relationships take a toll on you… on your mind and your body. I was unhealthy. And I didn’t even know it. I had started smoking again. I had lost so much weight. I was literally withering away. I didn’t feel good. Ever. I was convinced that my health, my well-being wasn’t important. I was tired.

Isn‘t it funny how time passes you by and you look back and think to yourself “Oh my.. how in the world did I ever get through that?!” But I did.

If you are thinking to yourself that this sounds anything like you.. that you are in a similar situation that I once experienced.. or maybe it’s not your marriage that’s toxic but you have other toxic relationships that are affecting your self-worth…. which totally could be family or friends! If any of that speaks to you… reach out, ask for help.. you don’t have to fight the battle alone.

Every situation is different And I’m not saying people can’t change for the better. For me, I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault. There’s so much strength in finally accepting that and letting go of the guilt… and it won’t happen until you can see it with a clear mind.

I know it’s hard. It literally feels impossible to make a change. I know because I’ve been that girl. That girl who feels like there is no such thing as a choice… that no matter what decision is made, everyone gets hurt.. that girl who looks in the mirror and thinks to herself that she’s incapable of being loved and incapable of being enough. For everyone else.

Your worth is everything that you think of yourself and you cannot let anyone else decrease your value. That’s the moment that you have to walk away. When you realize that you are strong. That you are more than the situation.

I know my worth because I’ve paid dearly for every ounce of it. You don’t have to keep paying for yours. You are amazing and beautiful and deserve to feel good. Stop letting people control your mind and your feelings. It took years for me to realize that I was being controlled.. not only my behavior but my feelings. When people start controlling how you should feel… it’s time to walk away. It’s ok to leave people behind.

You should not have to beg for the acknowledgment that you’re enough.

You’ve got this.

domestic abuse hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

for my friends in VA… The James House is a shelter for domestic violence victims.



When People Disappoint You

Over the last few months, I have realized how naïve I was… that my expectations for other people were too high. I think this subject is somewhat of a taboo subject.. because people rarely discuss this, unless they are doing it in vain, gossiping about being wronged or someone else being wronged. How often do people, in general, disappoint us? In friendship, in your job, or in other relationships? How often do we brush things off that really do bother us but we refrain from saying anything?

I know I have and I do that way more than I should. And this is something that is really on my heart lately.

I have to constantly remind myself… not everyone has the same heart as I do. Being a good person does not guarantee that others will be good people. The reality of discovering that people were not who you thought they were is when you start seeing people… or sometimes seeing through people. And when you start seeing yourself.

When you start seeing your worth, you will find it harder to stay around people who don’t.

Is it possible to be too nice? I always try to “friend” people because I believe they are kind, good-hearted, and want to be my friend back. Or in my career, I find myself consistently smiling and being kind to everyone, even during and after times of conflict. I didn’t realize that I have been giving so much of myself and my time worrying about these people…. mostly about pleasing them. There comes a time when you start to realize that you cannot control other people. Some people are so miserable with themselves that they cannot help but to try to bring you down too. You have to realize that their misery is self-inflicted and out of your control….as are their actions and opinions.

You have three choices. You can choose to accept people, choose to distance yourself, or choose to walk away. But you do not always have to please others.

If PEOPLE… whether in your job or friendships… are constantly disappointing you, cut them out… Time goes on… life goes on… You’re going to be ok. You cannot be your best self when someone else is in control of how you feel. No matter how hard you try.

Being disappointed by people who you respect… can make you really bitter. Don’t let it have that control over you. If it’s not my husband, kids, family, or the people who I have chosen to be in my very small circle, then I am choosing to give it a very small amount of me. I will be kind to these people. I will understand that I am human and have my own flaws… but I can always be kind. I will see them, speak to them, and even answer their texts. I will not allow what doesn’t matter to take any more of me. Jobs, friends, people who don’t matter.

Be mindful of how you treat people. Be mindful of your intentions and the outcomes of your words and actions. No one owes you anything. The only expectations you set high are the expectations you have for yourself.

I was watching the movie The Help the other day. If you’ve ever seen that movie… you know that there is a woman named Ms. Hilly who isn’t very kind… not even to the people she calls friends. As you know, the maid, Ms. Minnie, made a pie with a certain special ingredient and watched Ms. Hilly eat it and then said the words, “Eat my sh*t.”

The next time you find yourself dealing with people who disappoint you, talk about you behind your back, or just try to bring you down… think about what they would do if you made them a special pie.. at least it will give you a little laugh! People like that might not ever eat your special pie but they will eventually reap what they sow.