The Name Game {Stepfamily Situations}

As I have previously mentioned, Monkey has horrible acid reflux. We’ve gone through 4 prescriptions since the start of the year, and while it’s gotten better, we still haven’t found the perfect remedy. Needless to say, all of the medicine, plus a national shortage on sodium bicarbonate, has made me get to know my local pharmacy very well. They know me and Monkey by sight now. However, we always confuse them when we go to pick up a medicine. If it’s my prenatal vitamins, it’s under one last name, if it’s Monkey’s reflux meds it is under another, and then of course, Frog had strep throat a few months ago, and that’s under a third last name!

My Mom Made That: The Great Family Name GameI envy the homes that can have a simple address stamp that reads “The Smith Family,” followed by the address. If we did ours, it would read something like: The Smith-Brown-Jones Family, and we always exceed the letter limit. It’s just not practical for us. Instead we have personal labels for Frog, and then a “Emily and MM” stamp for everyday use.

Last names are challenges for lots of families, but they are particularly challenging for stepfamilies. I have plenty of friends who have kept their maiden names, or hyphenated their names, or the whole family hyphenated the two names, etc. Those situations are somehow easier than what a stepfamily goes through. A lot of the name challenges that keeping a maiden name causes are by choice, but you are somewhat more restricted when remarrying with children.

When I got divorced, I had the ability to change my last name back to my maiden name. I didn’t do it though. I wanted to have the same last name as Frog. I wanted us still to be a family. He was starting school, and I didn’t want to confuse the teachers or the pediatrician’s office, etc. I figured that if I remarried, I would just change it again. When MM and I decided to get married, I didn’t quite know what to do.  Do I take his last name, and leave Frog separate from us, and our future children?  Do I keep my son’s last name, and not have the same name as my husband, but a previous husband?  I didn’t really like either option, so I went back to my maiden name.

Believe it or not, switching back to my maiden name, from a previous married name, with a marriage certificate with a third last name, is quite a challenge.  It took me 3 separate trips to the social security office!  If you ever try to do this, be on the safe side, and take ever official document you have ever received, all marriage licenses, divorce decrees, birth certificates, etc.  They might decide to ask for them!

Switching last names in the middle of Frog’s school career has been a challenge too.  The teachers and my son’s friends don’t know what to call me.  When I send emails out to parents, I now have to put my relationship in parentheses after my name, like this: (“Frog’s Mom”).  This prevents people from writing back and saying, “Who exactly are you?”  In fact, in my email signature, I have my maiden name, and Frog’s last name in the header.  I figured that would cover all of the PTA/School/Sports related messaging I do, while clearly helping people know that I am now going by my maiden name.

Unfortunately, this past week, I realized that I had even a bigger problem.  You might recall that little Monkey has just started preschool, two days a week.  Well, neither of my names on my email account are Monkey’s last name.  I was asked to help with a preschool fundraiser, and I replied back to the chair of the committee, answering her questions.  She replied, and told me that she wasn’t sure who I belonged to, as neither of my last name options applied to any child on the school’s roster.  Yes, it appears that I now need to have both of my children’s last names in my email signature!  I replied with an emoticon, and told her that I was part of one of those wonderful modern families, where no one’s names really matched.

These families are more common than you think.  Stepfamilies, or some variety of non-traditional family with children are no longer just the exception!  To deal with these challenges,  I know that modern stepfamilies are doing all sorts of things.  I know a mom who hyphenated her last name, so that both sets of her children from both of her marriages had the same name as she did, at least in part.  There are lots of variations out there, and none of them are right for everybody.  Each family has to do what works best for them, but each family is just thata family! 

I don’t mind if you can’t figure it out, or if you are confused.  It is confusing! I’d rather you just ask if it doesn’t make sense to you.  I’m not embarrassed.  I’m not ashamed.  It’s not a hush-hush topic.  I’m also not trying to be difficult or make things complicated for pediatricians, schools or other organizations.  Nor, am I trying to make a political statements with confusing family name situation.  It’s just how my family works!

Here’s the other thing that’s important to know, I’ll answer to whatever last name you pull out of the hat.  Or Frog’s Mom. Or Monkey’s Mom.  Or even, Hey You!   But, I hope you won’t mind or be embarrassed if I tell what I’d like you to call me.  (I’m happy for you to do the same!)

My Mom Made That: The Name GameI’ve found the kids that know our family just roll with this oddity far better than adults.  In fact, a lot of times, they don’t even bother with my last name, and just call me: Frog’s Mom.  At the end of the day, that is what’s more important to me than having the same last name as my kiddo, making sure that everyone knows that he’s mine and I’m proud of him.  Now that Monkey’s in school the same is true with him, just know that he belongs to me, and I belong to him, and we’re all good, no matter what last name you use!




Personalized Duck Tape® File Folder

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart. All opinions are 100% mine.

School supplies can get really pricey, and every year Frog has a long list of things that he is supposed to get to start the year off right. I tend to try to wait until the last week in July (school starts early around here), and go to a great one stop shopping place, like Walmart, to get all of the back to school supplies my now fifth grader needs. They had some awesome sales on school supplies this year! What I really want in school supplies are things that last the entire year, so I don’t have to go back for more. I’m looking for durability. On his shopping list were “Folders with Pockets” for different classes, and while they are very inexpensive, they are also very flimsy. I was initially planning on buying several for him, but when I was at Walmart, I noticed that they are carrying a great line of colorful and patterned Duck Tape®, so I decided to make him a personalized file folder.  photo DuckTapeFileFolderTitle_zps2ef4170a.jpg It’s a really easy project to do, here’s what you need:

  • Duck Tape® rolls and sheets
  • Card Stock
  • Scissors
  • Basic Manilla File Folder

 photo DuckTapeFileFolder1_zps8b06e384.jpg Find your favorite Duck Tape® from Walmart to cover your manilla file folder. I used the red Duck Tape®, as the primary color. I used the cute one with the mustaches for an accent.  photo DuckTapeFileFolder2_zpsd182b9ea.jpgFirst, I cut strips of the red Duck Tape®, and covered the entire file folder, front and back with the Duck Tape®. I then trimmed around the folder, so that the entire folder was now a red Duck Tape® folder. Next, I covered the center seam with the darling mustache Duck Tape® to cover where the pieces of red tape meet. I also took the mustache patterned Duck Tape® to go around the outside edges of the folder.

 photo DuckTapeFileFolder3_zpsf591374c.jpg Did you know that the Duck Tape® line even includes these really cool sheets of Duck Tape®, so that you can cover more area for your large projects! I took the black Duck Tape® sheets and covered the chip board with them. I cut the chipboard to size, and attached them to the bottom of the folder to create two pockets. I trimmed the edges of the black chipboard with the mustache Duck Tape®.  photo DuckTapeFileFolder6_zps7d4ee239.jpg

The last thing I did was create a “W” for the front of the folder in the mustache patterned Duck Tape®. I thought it would be good to personalize the folder with the Frog’s initial. This folder will be great for all of his class notes, and the Duck Tape® makes it durable enough to last the entire year. With all of the varied Duck Tape® patterns that Walmart sells, I have so many options for additional file folders. When we stopped by Walmart, look at all of the choices we found:  photo DuckTapeFileFolder4_zpsaf0b22c5.jpg Which pattern would you use first? In case, you happen to need to make a file folder, be sure to buy Duck Tape at Walmart. Using Duck Tape® for all sorts of decorative home projects is very on-trend right now, and if you’d like to find more great inspiration, be sure to follow Duck Tape® on Twitter @TheDuckBrand.

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Paracord Dog Collar

A couple of weeks ago, I shared this post about a paracord dog collar over at Craft A Spell.  In case you missed it, I wanted to repost the tutorial here in case you missed it.   The survival bracelet techniques to make a great, sturdy dog collar.  If you are curious about why these bracelets are survival bracelets, as I understand it, these bracelets are easy way to keep several feet of durable but lightweight cording on an individual who is an outdoors man or in the military.  I’d love to know if they really use them, but they definitely seem to be popular amongst those individuals of the XY type– check out all of the YouTube videos.  Luckily, our puppy, Buster is a boy.  (It’s just me by my lonesome self representing women in this house!)

This summer, as a part of my summer swim league swag series, I may frog a collection of paracord bracelets in the colors of his swim team. He’s really enjoyed his bracelets, and generally wears one every day.   I have boy who likes his manly jewelry!  A few weeks ago, the Frog noticed that our dog’s collar was looking a little ragged, and he told me that I needed to make Buster a collar like his paracord bracelets.  There are dozens of great patterns and braiding techniques that you can use

 photo ParacordDogCollarTitlePicture_zps51759d24.jpg

I ordered some cherry red and electric blue 550 paracord. There are different strengths of paracord, but 550 is usually the standard type that you can find at the craft store. I also found a specialty dog collar buckle with a reflector and a D-ring. I had to order this as well, but you could use a d-ring that you bought at the craft store and a traditional buckle clip.  I’ve seen those at the majority of craft stores. You’ll also need scissors and a lighter.

 photo paracorddogcollarstuff_zps48749857.jpg

To start you’ll need to measure how long you need to make the collar. I took a length of the cord, and wrapped it around Buster’s neck. I then added a little length for slack– when you braid, it will shrink up a bit (or at least mine does!)  I really didn’t want the collar to be too tight on Buster. Next I added 8 inches for every 1 inch of the collar. Now, I’ve seen people say that you need 1 foot for every inch, but I’ve tried to determine how to reduce the scraps of extra paracord.

If you have never made a Paracord bracelet before, I would recommend that you check out the wonderful collection of YouTube videos.  Just type in “paracord survival bracelet,” and you’ll be shocked by all of the options out there.  I personally think that this is one of the best ones for your first paracord project.   (I’m making this recommendation as a woman crafter, as some of the ones done by some serious hunters/outdoorsmen are harder for me to follow!)  Once you have the two pieces of cord cut, you’ll need to attach the cord to the two pieces of the buckle.  You make knots on each end of the buckles like this:

 photo ParacordDogCollarBucklecloseup_zpsc191bef6.jpg

Next, I connected the two colors of paracord together by cutting them, slipping the end of one color into the end of another and fusing them with my lighter. When you’ve done that, the joined colors will look like this:

 photo ParacordDogCollarFusedCords_zps0ace6ce8.jpg

I made sure that I adjusted the length of the collar to fit Buster again.  Now that everything was joined together and attached to the buckle ends, I tried it out on Buster before I started braiding.  (Now if you don’t get the measurements quite right, you can always unbraid it and make adjustments.  Believe me, I’ve had to do that before!)  Here’s picture of the paracord set up and measured before I started braiding:

 photo ParacordDogCollar1_zpsb6ae45b6.jpg

There are dozens of different braiding styles. I used the most basic Double Cobra braid for Buster’s collar, I knew how wide and strong the braid would be, and I though it would be just right for collar. Again, if you’ve never completed the double cobra braid, a want a step by step guide, you can check out this video or visit this tutorial I wrote.  The only difference and think that makes the dog collar special is the addition of the d-ring.  I wanted my d-ring to be a little bit away from the buckle, but you might want it right next to the buckle.  Its position is up to you.  However, to add it, you’ll make one tight knot, and then slide the d-ring beneath the knot, and then continue braiding, so it looks a bit like this:

 photo ParacordDogCollarDRingCloseUp_zps8c426020.jpg

Once you have finished braiding, you snip off the ends of the paracord between one-eighth and one-fourth of an inch from the collar. Use your lighter to melt the snipped ends into the collar and let it cool and harden to prevent unbraiding. Now, before I cut the ends off, I double-check to make sure that the length is correct. Remember measure twice (or 3 times!) and cut once!

Add the ID tags to the D-ring and put it around the dog’s collar, and see if your puppy likes the collar as well as Buster likes his!  Isn’t he sweet?!  And by the way, this collar is pretty much a standard width of a collar, so he can wear his standard scarves, and clothing options with it!
 photo ParacordDogCollaronDog_zpse984e484.jpg

What Children Should Know about Getting Lost And Being Found

This summer we went to Disney World again, and spent a great deal of time in the Baby Care Centers, which happen to be right next to the lost child centers.  Frog liked spending some time in the air conditioned areas of the Baby Care Center while waiting for me and Monkey.  He also noticed a lot of lost children while we were in there.  In fact, the two children remained in the lost children area for so long that they were still there when we revisited the Baby Care Center a second time– their “Big People” still hadn’t shown up to take them home!  Frog and I talked about these two lost children, and were were a little surprised at how unprepared families were with dealing with getting lost.  Maybe it’s the Den Mother in me (yes, didn’t you know that I’ve been Frog’s den leader since his first year in Cub Scouts?), but from my perspective, teaching your child how to handle getting lost is a critical skill.  We have covered this repeatedly in Frog’s den, and it has been very beneficial.  He knows what to do when he gets lost.

My Mom Made That: How to Handle Getting Lost
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World’s Best Mashed Potatoes

Well, I don’t know if they are really the world’s best mashed potatoes, but according to my 10-year-old, I make the world’s best.  Whenever we go out to eat, or even go to friends’ and relatives’ houses, my son will taste the the mashed potatoes and announced, “Well, they aren’t as good as my mom’s!”  I’m usually a bit horrified and embarrassed when he proclaims this, but husband also tells me that my mashed potatoes are very good.  After making them for my mother-in-law, she asked me how I made them, and how they were different from other people’s mashed potatoes.  I don’t know if they are different from traditional mashed potatoes, but I thought I’d share how I make them.

My Mom Made That: Best Mashed Potatoes Tips and Hints
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