Back in the Saddle

Today I thought to myself, “Self, you should start a blog about being a stepmom,” and then I remembered I have a blog. So, I log into dear ol’ WordPress, and there’s a nice little note for me, right in the middle of my stats page: “It has been almost 2 years since your last blog post.” Hmm. Thanks for reminding me about what a slacker I am, WP. So here I am to give the catch-up version of my life in one blog. Then, if I don’t become #1 Slacker again, I will go into more detail on the things that are actually interesting.

Also – for anyone who read the December Turning 30 edition, no, I am not engaged, yes, I survived turning 30 (Señor surprised me with a night downtown), and now I am enjoying thirtyonederful. 😉

I vaguely remember December 2014. Señor graduated police academy and immediately afterwards, the holidays were upon us. We were also house hunting amidst all of this, getting more time with the kiddos, and BAM. Life came to a halt as Señor and his family had to travel to Mexico for the death of his grandfather. A few short months later, I was let go from my job. About a month after that, we found out we couldn’t buy the house we had seen and fallen in love with. It was SO FRUSTRATING. I have no better words than that: FRUSTRATING. However, instead of letting it get us down, Señor and I pulled ourselves together and brainstormed. We took immediate action to fix what was hindering us from buying a house, and my wonderful in-laws offered for us to move into the house they had bought as a gut-rehab project and had planned on renting out.

The month of May 2015 was a busy one. In the midst of interviewing for jobs, I was spending all available time at the new house, helping get it move-in ready. It was nothing but sub-floors and drywall when I started. At the end of the month, however, we had a shiny new home that we had gotten to put our distinctive personal touches on.

I also started a new job at the end of May 2015, putting me at 3 jobs within 1 year. I wasn’t feeling to great about that. Fortunately, my new job is great, and I have been there for over a year now.

We now have the boys 50% of the time, which means I have a lot more responsibility as woman of the house, especially with the schedule of a police officer. Thankfully, I work from home and have a lot of flexibility to help take care of things in a pinch. The boys are all turning older this Summer/early Fall – they will be 12, 10, and 7 – and I have the mushy-mom-feelings about all of it, especially the 12 year old’s new voice & entering junior high & girls texting him (what?! I swear he was just learning how to read) and the 7 year old going into First grade. Be still my heart.

Our home was broken into Summer 2015, and since then I have been more accepting of owning a handgun (I know, I know. I date a cop). I never saw a need for one, as that is how I was raised, but considering the circumstances that surrounded that experience, I will be prepared to protect my family if there is ever a next time. This is a big change for me, as my entire life I have a been an on-the-fence-leaning-left liberal.

While 2015 saw a lot of changes, 2016 has just been a year from Hell. My grandmother (maternal) fought valiantly but lost her battle to cancer in February. A couple weeks later my father was admitted to the ICU, and was in the hospital until May 11, when he passed away. Currently, my grandfather (maternal) is fighting Stage III lung cancer. He has radiation M-F and the treatment seems to be working, Praise God. I don’t know if our family, especially my mother, can handle a third death, especially of someone so near, dear, and important to so many people.

Currently, I am trying to get my life back in order. It has been weird not spending all of my free time at the hospital or being a road warrior (my family is all 1.5 hours north of me). Can I please tell you how much money I have spent on gas & tolls since October when my grandmother was diagnosed? Oy vey.

We just finished up a full week with the boys – in even years we get to have them for their first week of summer vacation, and then they will spend the next week with their mom. While this “childless” stepmomma needed some peace and quiet restored to her house, it’s a little too quiet right now with Señor being on night shift currently. Aw, shoot, I’ll admit it: I miss those darn kids already.

Well, that is it for now, but I wanted to give this blog a refresh. As the title suggests, I have been bucked off my horse a few times in the past 1.5 years, but I’m back in the saddle and grabbing the reigns once more. I know I’ll end up on the ground again at some point, but for now, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Turning 30: November Edition

Things I’m Glad I Did Before I Turned 30

Most people look back upon their 20s with a little pink in their cheeks and exclamations of “I can’t believe I did that!” You won’t catch me doing that very often. My 20s were a decade of memories and times I wouldn’t change – even the bad ones. I’m a strong believer in “Everything happens for a reason” – even though that reason isn’t always revealed right away. I like silver linings. I like a happy ending.

So, let’s look back at my 20s and discuss what I’m glad I did before I turned 30.

 

Vegas.
I mean, come on. Vegas requires energy for long nights that turn into early mornings multiple times in a row. It makes me tired just remembering that trip. But, it gave me a closer relationship with my cuñada and her now hubby, as well as Señor. This was our first big trip together.

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50oz. drinks with my cuñada

 

 

Serial Dating.
While I only had 2 serious boyfriends before Señor, I did date a few other guys along the way. Each one taught me a little bit more about myself and what I truly wanted in a man whom I would eventually want to settle down with.

Love & Laughter.

Love & Laughter.

 

Moving Across the Country, Just Because.
Summer 2007: Most of my friends were graduating college, but I had taken a year off so I still had at least one year until graduation. I decided to find a job anywhere but the Midwest for the summer, and ended up in Tallahassee, Florida. I enjoyed myself so much down there, that I decided to apply for entrance to Florida State University, was accepted, and attended for a semester. It was too damn hot in the winter and I missed my family, so I said “Peace Out”, packed up my Cavalier, grabbed my cat, and drove back to Sweet Home Chicago. I fondly call my time at FSU my “semester abroad”. It’s deep south – an hour from Alabama and 20 minutes from Southern Georgia. It don’t get more southern than that. (Yes, I did that on purpose.)

F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E!
Florida State! Florida State! Florida State!

 

College Nicole.
There’s this mythical creature whom Señor and I fondly refer to as “College Nicole”. She was really cool & hip. She liked to participate in Thirsty Thursdays despite a Friday morning physics class. She partied ‘til 6am on the weekends. As President of her dorm, she helped her friends sneak a pony keg up the back entrance for an end of school year party. She would drink ‘til she was warm so she didn’t have to wear a coat to frat parties. Her proudest achievement during college was the weekend of two birthday parties and Tour de Franzia. There are so many more stories about this mythical creature; we would be here all day. Needless to say, College Nicole evolved into Responsible Nicole, and Responsible Nicole realizes she just doesn’t rebound as easily as she did during her run as College Nicole.

Tour de Franzia 2007.  Yes, that is a bag of wine.

Tour de Franzia 2007.
Yes, that is a bag of wine.

 

Made New Friends.
You won’t stay in touch with a lot of your high school friends. Facebook doesn’t count. If you can’t call them up on the phone without it being awkward, they’re not really your friend. The friends I made in college were people who didn’t know my entire history, people who took me as I was. They dressed up with me for theme parties and took me to see bands who would later invite us to their after parties in their hotel, then grab a cab with me at 6am. They are the ones who would later ask me to be in their wedding and share with me the good news of a baby on the way.

Danielle's wedding. November 2013.

Danielle’s wedding. November 2013.

 

Something Reckless.
I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and IT. WAS. AWESOME. Later, I would learn that this adversely affected my life insurance policy. Luckily, I was still young enough to get a decent rate.

Skydiving. Summer 2009.

Skydiving. Summer 2009.

 

Finished College.
College requires a lot of time and effort. I’m too tired for all that right now, especially with my full-time job. Just the thought of pursuing my Master’s makes me tired.

Graduation Day! May 2011

Graduation Day! May 2011

 

Got Comfortable.
I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I own my quirks and force find people to see them as endearing. I also just don’t give a damn what most people think. I was so glad to find that comfort in my 20s – it’s so important for growth.

Awkward.

Awkward.

 

Life Changing Trip with the People Closest to You.
My BFFO, her hubby, Señor, and I went to California for a week. We met up in San Francisco and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA to attend the 10 year vow renewal of a good friend. It forced us to be in close quarters for multiple days, to be budget conscious, and for the BFFO and I – to be spontaneous. It was the best trip of my life, and I’ll never regret who I spent it with.

Chinatown - San Francisco

Chinatown – San Francisco

 

Cleaning House.
Sometimes, you have to change your life in drastic ways. And sometimes, that means ending relationships you have come to realize are no longer fruitful, but hurtful. One day, I hope to reconcile with one of these people when we are both older, wiser, and able to accept fault.

Chuckin' Up the Deuces.

Chuckin’ Up the Deuces.

 

 

I had so much fun going through pictures to share here. It was so hard to pick only one picture for each mini-story. Lots of good times with great people. But I’m looking forward to more good times with great people, especially the ones here ❤  Bring it, 30s!

Orleatha & Chris' 10 Year Vow Renewal - California Road Trip. May 2013.

Orleatha & Chris’ 10 Year Vow Renewal
California Road Trip. May 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP College Nicole.