Let’s Meet in the Middle.

This post will be me talking myself off the ledge. As usual. Enjoy!

I’ve written about comparisons and feelings of inadequacy in the past. And I know that to be successful in a blended family, you have to let it all go.

But y’all… women are crazy!! Our brains are just wired so complicated that we give ourselves a headache sometimes…

I know it’s not just me, y’all…

When you look at the fine print, this weekend was a mix of everything I hate about being in a blended family. For starters, we didn’t have the kids this weekend (bummer). Then, I beat my husband to a cookout, and before he got there, all I got was questions about BM’s new boyfriend they all had seen on Facebook, and how quick it seemed for her to be getting serious. No worries, then my MIL chimed in to let everyone know BM & my husband’s timeline, and how quickly they got engaged and then married. I mean… she went into detail including exact proposal and wedding dates. Whew, I’m glad she cleared that up… *vomit*

We had a couple of conversations about how Kindergarten still hasn’t been sorted out for SD4. Logistical conversations are the worst, and when I feel the most powerless.

My husband had his share of what I call “unnecessary mentions” this weekend too. Referring to he and BM as “we” in talking about past experiences, referring to his wedding, but talking about his wedding to her, not to me… etc.

We all do these things. We all get nosy and ask intrusive questions. We all reference people or places from our past that we really don’t need to mention. I know I am guilty of unnecessarily mentioning BM a time or two [or 3,000] over the years. So I get it… no harm, no foul.

So let’s meet in the middle. We need to pick our battles. As stepparents, we have to tread lightly and understand that people (including ourselves) make mistakes. We cannot be overly sensitive… we must have thick skin for the war ahead of us. It is imperative that we meet in the middle, because that is the only way we can set a good example for our children. After all, that’s all that matters.

We also must aggressively fight for our families. We must remember that we will only be treated the way we allow others to treat us. We must stop comparing ourselves, and remember that sometimes first isn’t the best… sometimes last is the winner (Missing the Firsts but Saving the Best for LastSource: stepparentmagazine.com).

And when all else fails, we need to push forward with the tenacity of Todd Chrisley– a strong example of a father in a blended family- and heed his advice:

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Hang in there, friends! I’ll see you in the middle.

March…? Five Things.

Well I guess I let March slide right on by me, huh? Here’s a quick 5-Things that have happened since I last wrote…

ONE: In #SAPro world, things have really picked up! This is my 8th year in the college setting and every year, the spring semester flies by quicker and quicker. I love my job but with the ups-and-downs of my first year in this position, I have to say THANK GOD I can see the end in sight!

TWO: In Family news, all I can say is WHEW! Having to deal with a narcissist who has no ability to show empathy, no ability to self-reflect and take responsibility for her actions, and is truly a pathological liar, we’re all exhausted. There are a lot of positive things in play with my boyfriend and I, and we are certain that there is a light at the end of this hell hole of a tunnel…

THREE: Super Tuesday has come and gone (my state- VA– voted on Super Tuesday), and several other big primary days have come and gone. At this point, Donald Trump is winning the Republican primary with 458 delegates secured (1,237 needed to win the nomination), and Hillary Clinton is winning the Democratic primary with 1,221 delegates (2,383 needed to win the nomination). I don’t care who you support as long as you’re educated and truly stand behind their decisions… what I do care about is watching these hilarious liars in California… LOL!

FOUR: It’s Spring Break at my institution, which means in addition to having two professional staff days off, I also have three days of silence in my office. Genuinely considering turning my lunch breaks into yoga time…

FIVE: I write about my boyfriend’s daughters a lot, but last week I got to see my two nieces (4 & 6 years old) who I haven’t seen since Christmas… It was SO amazing to spend a little time with them, and my heart melted in to a million pieces when they begged me to spend the night. (Even though I didn’t- LOL). I love all the little ladies in my life and am so thankful to have them all.

So how have you been these past couple of weeks? Anyone else ready for this semester/month/year to be over? I’m ready for SUMMER!

Emotional Control

Do you ever want to take on someone else’s feelings- whether it’s pain, sadness, anger, grief, etc.- so they don’t have to experience it? That’s how I feel for my boyfriend anytime he’s experiencing anything other than happiness.

Now don’t get me wrong, looking at the “big picture” we’ve got a pretty great life… but there are a lot of moving pieces and we’ve faced our fair share of struggles. I’ve told you about our recent losses… that’s just a glimpse at how this year is going. Between new changes at his work, selling a house, court, lawyers, etc. it can just be overwhelming at times. He has a great support system outside of me as well, but damn, can’t we just catch a break every now and then?!

More than anything, I hate that 100% of any negative emotions he ever feels are due to one crazy person. One person who cannot take responsibility for their own actions, and who constantly places blame instead of accepting the role they plays in it all. I hate that there’s not a “de-friend and block” feature in real life like there is on Facebook (lol). I’m confident this could solve everything.

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When it gets hard, all I want to do is take it all on and let him just be at peace. Why is that too much to ask?! I know he feels the same for me when I am down. Why can’t we just help each other in this capacity?

Just a little mid-week vent. Oh, blended families…

Large-Scale Event Planning

Last night, I hosted a collaborative event with another department, which was essentially a big tailgate + basketball game with a competitive aspect to see which living community could get the highest attendance. I’m going to use this platform to do a little public reflection (in #SAPro world we love reflection). Here’s my crash-course in the nitty-gritty of planning a campus-wide competitive & collaborative event in Residence Life:

  • Start planning way in advance, and ask questions from people who have been involved with the event [or similar events] before.
  • If you know this is an event that has been done in the past but have no materials from the previous years(s), ask for them.
  • If a colleague warns you not to put too much faith or energy into a person involved, trust their advice.
  • Work your hardest to make sure that everyone involved is fully bought in to the event. Give incentives and model “the hype” to ensure that the staff is excited to get their residents involved.
  • Know that regardless of how much you have planned, things will never go exactly as anticipated.
  • Be okay with the fact that not every aspect will go as anticipated.
  • Rely on your colleagues to vent a little about your frustrations, then use them to help reflect and brainstorm ways to make the event better in the future.
  • View every small misstep as a learning experience, and push yourself to do better next time.
  • Remember that when you see things going not-as-planned, there’s a pretty good chance the participants do not. Just take a breath and know that the event will be wildly successful to the outsiders.

For those reading this who attended, please know that the event *actually* was a huge success! I’m so lucky to have supportive colleagues and student-staff members who helped make this event great, and look forward to seeing how it builds on this campus in the future.

Als0- totally not rigged, but the community I work in WON and had the highest attendance, so that was a bonus.

Also- I got brought out in between 3rd and 4th quarter for an “alumni competition” sponsored by our conference and won $50… so that was also a plus.

Any other “bare-bones” pieces of advice for this type of venture? Let me know in the comments.

2016 – Off to the Races!

Hey there-

You think I forgot about you?!

Let me just say, 2016 has been off to a pretty hectic start in my world! Personally, in Stepmom-in-Training world, we had a tough January with the loss of my boyfriends dog, followed by an almost two-week period I did not get to see the girls. In #SAPro world, we re-opened our residence halls, then immediately interviewed, selected, and made offers to RAs for the 2016-2017 academic year. I was also on-call for a week in there (cue, one week where I couldn’t see the girls). Add in a VA blizzard, and two weeks of following up with students who just couldn’t handle the snow, and you’ve got the perfect storm.

On to the positives… last Sunday, my boyfriend and I took the girls to the Shrine Circus and it was a blast! The girls were so well behaved, even when we got there a full hour early (thanks to my overly-punctual boyfriend… love you!) and had to entertain them that whole time. The youngest (20 months) was hilarious and made instant friends with everyone we were sitting around. It was awesome… that was totally out of character for her.

Another positive, I went out for a little after-work dinner + vent session with two of my colleague-friends the other day, which was perfect and much needed. I know that no one has a “perfect” life, but it’s still reassuring to hear straight from the horses mouth that I’m not the only one with a million things going on, both in work and in life.

I have let go of so much negative energy since letting go of a “friend” who I shouldn’t have kept around this long. That’s been the biggest relief of 2016 and one I definitely do not regret.

In regards to my dysfunctional family, I a) have been on ancestry.com and WOW it’s even more dysfunctional than I thought, and b) am doing a little self-advocacy/investigation and the results may be boring or life changing. We shall see.

Eight months of full-time employment post-graduate school and I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding my finances… Whew the debt is real, but seeing it begin to fade away is the best feeling. (Never, ever shopping is the worst feeling but hey, compromise)

I can’t even believe it’s already February! This month will be full of more busy work weeks (including another on-call week), some sporting events including seeing the Harlem Globetrotters for the first time, and most importantly lots of family time with my man and our little ladies.

This month, I will also be launching recap posts of some of my favorite TV shows (!!!)

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Thanks for the continued support… stay tuned!

What dating a LEO means to me…

I couldn’t be more proud of my boyfriend and his career in law enforcement… But let’s be clear- working in law enforcement is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle. I learned quickly that there’s way more to it than how sexy he looks in his uniform (*yum*)… Being a LEO girlfriend means

  1. Not being able to spend every night by his side
  2. Knowing his schedule for years out, but still having to RSVP “No” to things because he just can’t take off of work the way I can
  3. The unknown fears entailed with him on a SWAT call
  4. Having to sit in a certain seat facing a certain direction at every restaurant
  5. Also- having to avoid many of my favorite restaurants because of the dreaded, “I’ve arrested a few guys who work there…”
  6. Basically- seeing someone who he’s either arrested, barricaded, busted in their door with the SWAT team, or in some way been involved with on a call literally everywhere that we go (Why are so many of you breaking the law out there, people?!)
  7. Completely opposite work schedules 50% of the year
  8. Watching his “friends” and relatives (not to mention, my friends and relatives) only ever text or call him if they have a legal question
  9. Enjoying a Memorial Day baseball game together… i.e. him working it for off-duty, and me sitting in the stands alone
  10. Court on his days off
  11. Always wondering if he’ll be home on time, or if he’ll get hung up on a late call
  12. Never being 100% sure he will make it home at the end of a shift
  13. The terror that is house hunting in the city. “Not that neighborhood, not that street, no…”
  14. Waiting to hear what lie he’s going to tell strangers when they ask what he does for a living
  15. Never needing a GPS to get anywhere in the city- even random streets within neighborhoods
  16. Knowing he’s always packing- highly trained and qualified to do so- and knowing that he will always keep me safe
  17. Realizing how truly selfless he is, and that he always puts me and the girls first
  18. Immeasurable pride in him every single day
  19. Knowing that he will be upset with this post, because he hates to openly tell others his occupation due to the negative stereotypes connected to LEO’s

I will never be able to put in to words how proud I am of him every day. It’s a shame that LEO’s have to be so paranoid about how society perceives them, when they are truly our local heroes. Why is it that people love firefighters, but people hate LEO’s? Both are dedicated to keeping you- typically complete strangers– safe and out of harms way.

Please take a moment to thank all of your local heroes who work in public safety. Take a moment to think about law enforcement officers and their families who sacrifice so much for the safety of your community, and who receive little to no recognition or praise for doing so.

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Do you have a LEO in your life? How else does it impact you? Leave it in the comments!

“Stepmom-In-Training” FAQ

Dating a man with two young children is not something that I ever considered I’d be doing at 25. It has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifeat the expense of my family, friends, and acquaintances asking me the most ridiculous questions every time they see me. I have to share with you all some of the most frequent/funniest/strangest questions I receive (so that you don’t ask me- or anyone else in my position- these questions).

  • “What’s it like dating a man with two kids?!” The same as dating a man with no kids, except instead of spending our free time binge drinking and watching TV, we’re building pretend castles and trying to teach the baby how to talk. (Okay, okay… there’s a little bit of the former when the kids are with their mom)
  • “What do they call you?” By far the funniest question I get. Ashley… they call me Ashley. That’s my name. I’m curious what people are expecting me to say when they ask this?!
  • “What does their mom think of you?” WOW intrusive much?! You’d have to ask her.
  • “Do you just take care of them while your boyfriend just sits there?” LOL… Okay first, way to stereotype based off of gender! Second, my boyfriend is the best, most hands-on father I’ve ever seen. His daughters love him and I am impressed with his parenting abilities every single day. He runs laps around me with those kids.
  • “Are you planning on having real kids?” Wait, what?! These ones are very real. And I’m not even engaged so this is not on my radar. And this is offensive and none of your business.
  • “Are they going to be in your wedding?!” Again, not engaged. Nice try…
    • Always followed up with, “You have built in flower girls!” Yeah, I have those with my nieces, also. Again, nice try…
  • “Do they like you?!” OF COURSE they like me!! Seriously though, they really do love me (and I love them!) What a weird question though… do I seem unlikeable?!

Moral of the story- all families look very different & you should really think before you ask some of these questions! At the end of the day, I’m just trying to maintain a healthy relationship, and be the best role model I can be for the girls, without crossing any boundaries and/or disrespecting their mother. (Piece of cake, right?!)

Are you dating someone with kids, or a stepparent?! Any other wild or intrusive questions you receive? Let me know in the comments!