My Spouse or My Kids?

My Kids or My Spouse?

You married for love. You married forever. But you never expected your marriage would involve having to choose between your new spouse an...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mother of the Year

I think the leopard is especially touching.
Funny how they say "Understanding it will take scientists many more years." They never go on to say "Christians already understand why."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NUTS! Which Peanuts Aren't Safe???

The efficient folks at The Daily Green have compiled a nice list of which peanut products to avoid and which are safe.

"Nearly 300 brands have announced recalls related to the salmonella in peanut products since Feb. 1, and dozens more announced recalls in January," the article states. The article also includes a Widget created by the FDA which I've included here:

FDA Product Recall List

FDA Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak 2009. Flash Player 9 is required.FDA Peanut Product Recall Widget. Flash Player 9 is required. Visit to search for peanut product recalls or call CDC-INFO at 1-800-232-4636 for more information.

To read the full Daily Green article,> GO HERE



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stepfamily Definitions

[NOTE: in our on-line support group, members often use common abbreviations to refer to their family members (SS = stepson; SM = stepmom, etc), the following is a lighthearted lexicon to guide and encourage you ...]

In order to lessen possible confusion over obscure abbreviations, I
feel the need to step in and provide a primer of sorts for our
members. Because, while I am "hip" to you "cool cats'" "jive lingo",
some of our less "with it" members may not be so "clued in." Therefore,

* BF = biological father (or befuddled fussbudget)
* BM = no, not the usual BM, but biological mother (or bilious malcontent)
* CEF = chronically enabling family
* DH = doddering habitué
* LDF = loving dysfunctional family
* ME = magnanimous equalizer (or malingering encroacher)
* ODD = outwardly distraught daddy'sgirl (or dingbat ... see SD below)
* OSS = obfuscated stepson (this new abridgment almost threw me; I was
inclined at first to go with the WWII governmental body, the Office of
Strategic Services, but realized the writer was undoubtedly too young
to remember the precursor to the CIA; other possible definitions
included Obstreperous or Obligationally-challenged - until I realized
he was muddled, confused, and working from the dark)
* SS = someone else's son
* SD = she devil (or sweet dingbat, or slovenly dip)
* SM = sobered misapprehender
* YDD = yielding disconnected damsel

Of course, this is only a partial list. Unintended omissions were
unintentional. If you have any additions to subsume, please convey
those forthwith hereto:

If you can't laugh at the mess you're in, then you're in a real mess!

Some definitions are obvious, some are not so obvious. However, I believe that
stepparents should take every opportunity possible to laugh at their
situation. Clearly, "DH" doesn't mean "Doddering Habitué" - but,
honestly, haven't you ever felt a little like it did?

Stepparenting is hard enough. But, if you allow it to, it will pass.
You can dance through it with your loved ones or you can fight through
it and find yourself alone and bitter. I tried both methods and
discovered that dancing is much more productive than fighting.

Dance, sing, laugh, giggle - it will either annoy your stepkids so much
they leave you alone, or it will entice them so they join in.

STEPcoach Bob Collins

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Octuplet Poll Closed

Thank you for your opinions and votes regarding the single mom's voluntary addition of eight more mouths for her parents to feed to the already staggering six previous children. As you'll see in the right hand column, the majority of the voters felt it was "wrong because ..." unfortunately, most didn't specify a reason they thought it was wrong, just that it was somehow not right.

The poll results will remain available for a few weeks for you to review, as well as the comments to the questions.

thank you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Legal Facts for Stepfamilies

[NOTE: this is a reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago - but this issue seems to be popping up again, so here's a refresher course. STEPcoach]

Stepparents face such staggering challenges within our homes, that we really don't need extra pressures piled on us by - of all folks - the government. But we get it anyway.

On top of child support and alimony burdens, hostile or sullen stepkids, hostile or sullen ex-spouses, and building a husband-wife relationship in the midst of an earthquake, we are also faced with legal confusion.

As we learned at a recent stepparenting conference in New Orleans, it seems that, despite our responsibilities for our stepkids, there is no legal relationship between stepparents and stepchildren. The legal world - courts, schools, and even medical facilities - considers stepparents as nothing more than strangers who pick up the kids every day and drop them off with their "real" parents. Our lack of any legal relationship with our stepchild means that, unless we have written authority, we can't authorize emergency medical care, have access to school records, or sign important documents.

We faced this in our own stepfamily a few years ago when I tried to pick up my stepdaughter from her junior high school to take her to the doctor. Since Jennifer's last name was different than mine, the school authorities told me I'd have to bring a note from her mother saying it was alright for me to get her.

OK, I understand (and even grudgingly commend) the caution of the school, but it quite frankly made me feel foolish to have to drive across two towns to get a note from Mommy at work, drive back to the school, and wait while the principal confirmed that the note was real. Naturally, we were late for the doctor's appointment, Jennifer missed the rest of the day at school, and I missed an entire afternoon's work.

The courts seem to be reluctant to recognize the relationship - albeit a common law, household relationship - of stepparent to stepchild as caregiver, provider, and responsible party. Not to say stepparents don't already have financial responsibility for stepchildren — but that they don't have any rights.

We learned quickly that if I were to play any part in raising my stepdaughter, we would have to announce that intention. My wife signed and had notarized notes authorizing me to pick up or drop off Jennifer, to call for emergency medical care, and to handle her records. Together we delivered these notes to the schools, doctor's office, and our church, and I kept a set with me for hospital emergencies.

This lack of a clear legal relationship makes our role as stepparent unclear. There is a loss of status which may lead some stepparents to be less involved. Here I am, trying to step into the dad position in the household, and everyone says I'm a nobody!

Raising someone else's children is tough enough without the government tying our hands legally. Protect yourself and your stepkids - have letters of authority drawn up and deliver them to the necessary offices. Your stepchild's safety may depend on it.


Monday, February 9, 2009

14 Kids! Could You? Would You???

By now you've probably heard at least the basics of the story about the mom who had EIGHT babies all at once. This story is stirring up so much controversy that I'm taking a survey of our stepparenting family.

First the basic facts (according to Time Magazine's story at (,8599,1878080,00.html):
* Name, age: Nadya Suleman, 33 years old;
* Family: SIX other children already, plus her parents, with whom she currently lives;
* Situation: unemployed, unmarried
* Controversial points:
  1. parents had to file bankruptcy last year because of expense of raising seven children,
  2. mother begged her not to have more kids,
  3. she had to change doctors to get the fertilization treatments,
  4. she chose to be a single mom, several times over, said she hopes the dad will want to be involved,
  5. since she's broke, tax-payer bill for this birth = $1.3 million
  6. looking to turn this into a windfall through book/movie/TV show deals
OK, that's the scoop ... now, what do you think?
As stepparents we, too, have chosen to "have" more children in our lives, sometimes many more children. So how do you relate to Suleman's decision to purposely have more children, as a single mom, when she already had six?

Take the poll there, to the right, and share your feelings. If you have comments, just click on the word, "comments," just below here.

This poll will be active for one week, and the results will be posted at least until the end of February, when I'll let you know that the accumulated (but anonymous) results and comments are.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Poison Fruit - for your family

You know organic is better - but it costs more, sometimes it's really hard to find, and - what's the difference anyway? A visit to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) web site (link below) provides lots of useful information, but the best I found was a pocket guide for the grocery store.

In the guide, the Washington, DC-based EWG lists the 12 fruits and veggies that have the most and least pesticides on them. A wallet- sized card listing best and worst choices is even available for free download. That way, when you’re at the grocery store, you’ll know which conventionally grown items you can feel better about taking home and which ones you should avoid altogether.

The guide is based on results of nearly 43,000 tests the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration conducted between 2000 and 2004 for pesticides on produce.

Consider this scary fact: Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to an average of about 15 pesticides a day, according to the EWG.

It gets worse: Almost 97 percent of peaches tested positive for pesticides, and almost 87 percent had residues of two or more pesticides. About 92 percent of apples tested positive, and 79 percent had residues of two or more pesticides.

Besides peaches and apples, other items on the dangerous end of the list are sweet bell peppers, celery, strawberries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes!

Safer veggies to buy (from best to not as good): Onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.

Here's the link for The Environmental Working Group website

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New issue of Newsletter is Here!

New encouraging, up-lifting article for troubled time, news about new resources, and lots of help for your stepfamily. Subscribe HERE to get your free issue.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy RE-birthday

My mom passed away nine years ago today: Happy Re-Birthday, my dear sweet Mama!

Remember that tomorrow is never guaranteed to you. Do for your family what you want to, today.
Withhold harsh words - try to imagine if those were the last words your loved ones would hear from you, if those are the words they would remember as your final thoughts.

Love those you love. Don't wait.

Wasted effort

Imagine a very large field to be plowed. Your vantage point is from above and a short distance away - on a nearby hill, for example.The fieldhand plowing the field has only a primitive push plow with which to break the ground into uniform rows of tilled earth ready for seeds.

As you watch the fieldhand in their labors, you begin to notice a pattern, a troublesome pattern. You observe them repeatedly pushing their plow along for a short distance until they hit either a deep root or a large buried boulder, neither of which their plow is heavy enough to move. The fieldhand then will back up and ram the plow into the obstruction, over and over. The poor fieldhand wastes hours in this frustrating activity until, completely worn out, they fall over where they stand. Only after this futile exercise does the fieldhand finally give up ,pick up the plow, and move around the obstruction so they can push forward.

As you watch this pattern repeated throughout the day, you can also see, below you, at the bottom of this hill, another worker, sitting idle in large backhoe. This driver is just sitting around waiting to be called upon by the fieldhand to remove those roots and boulders using the substantial equipment.

From your elevated point of view, you can see the resources available to the fieldhand. All he has to do is mark the root or boulder with a flag, call out to the backhoe driver, and let the heavy equipment do the hard work. The fieldhand can, meanwhile, be moving ahead with his plowing, covering ground instead of wasting time and effort trying to do what is beyond his capability.

Here's the thing: You are the fieldworker, pushing forward in your chosen or assigned mission field (your stepfamily, your marriage, your job, etc.). What an Observer can easily see is that you tend to waste your energy, your time, your joy, and your accomplishment banging away at roots too deeply buried or boulders too large and heavy for you to budge. While, all the time, there is Someone much better equipped to handle those overwhelming challenges.

How this applies to your life is like this. When you encounter an immovable obstacle in your path to perform your life task - whether this is creating a solid marriage, helping raise stepchildren, or accomplishing any other mission - instead of calling out for help from a Helper with Heavy Equipment, Who is imminently better able to deal with the impediment than you, you insist on banging away at it until you're fruitlessly worn out.

How many times have you used up your very last bit of energy, trying to fix a problem, only to ultimately give up? Then, on reflection, you see that the problem was dealt with by someone else. Or you come to understand that the problem didn't have to be fixed by you, in order for you to move ahead?

In your assigned or chosen missions in this life. Don't get so tied up (or prideful) with resolving the problem yourself when you have, nearby and handy, a much better equipped Helper Who is ready, willing, and able to tackle those boulders. Remember that you don't have to beat yourself to pieces trying to defeat every challenge on your own. Use your resources. Pray. Leave the bigger messes to God and let Him help you.

Show your STEPfamily Pride!