What I Wish The Nuclear Family Knew



Dear Nuclear Family,

I wish you knew how hard it can be to be a stepfamily.

I wish you knew what it feels like to get strange looks and uncomfortable questions.

I wish you knew that using the word "real" ("real" mom, "real" child, "real" family) hurts more than can be adequately explained.

Please don't get me wrong here, I don't think these things are intentional.  I know that stepfamilies are complicated and sometimes confusing  and sometimes you're just looking for clarification and accidentally unknowingly drop a bomb on a conversation.

But please understand that I feel like I'm avoiding social grenades every time I go to a school function, or write on a parenting facebook page, or sometimes just exist in public with my family.

I once had a boss tell me that I wouldn't be allowed to be excused from work to pick my then 9-year-old stepdaughter up from the airport after six weeks without her because "it wasn't the same" as if she was my real daughter.  (And there's my favorite word again.)

I can assure you of one thing, stepparenting is the most real thing I've ever done.




I have been in this child's life since booster seats and bedtime stories, but I can't sign school permission slips.

I am married to her father, she lives full-time in my home (and has for five years), but if something horrible, God fordbid, were to happen to Christopher?  I have zero legal rights in the eyes of the law. None.

I provide for her financially, emotionally, and in any other ways she needs, but I still internally shrink a bit when I introduce myself as her "stepmom," not because I'm ashamed of it, but because I've seen the look on someone's face change when they hear it and it breaks my heart.

This is real.

This is very real.

And I don't want pity because I love my family and wouldn't trade it, I really wouldn't.

But I wish people knew what it was like.

It's hard to see how pervasive the idea that "nuclear family = normal" is until you're not in one.

Honestly, it's everywhere.  It's in the home decor or the Christmas ornaments with "Mom & Dad" emblazoned on them.  It's in the kid's songs and TV commercials and storybooks.

And it hits closer to home sometimes, too.

Jess participates in a club of sorts and they say certain pledges as a part of their meetings.  I will never forget when Chris and I showed up with her on that very first day, all of us filled with nervous and excited energy that she was going to officially become a member.  And they're going through the speeches and suddenly there's this entire section that Jess has to repeat about "respecting your mother and father."

And my heart sank.

Now, of course I want Jess to respect her mother and father, I'm obviously not opposed to that, but I very suddenly and very immediately felt like an outcast.  Felt like a fraud.  Felt like a nobody.

I think it's hard to imagine the impact, but it's there and it's real.




I grew up as a part of a nuclear family - I'm not trying to put them down by any means, I would never do that.

But the fact is that one in three Americans currently has a steprelationship of some kind.

One in three, you guys.

So why are we still treating stepfamilies with trepidation, secrecy, and judgment?

Stepparents and stepkids and stepsiblings and everything in between?  What we all want is to be respected and viewed as a part of a family.

It may not look or function the same as yours, but that's okay.

That doesn't mean it's not real.


Hi, I'm Grady! Welcome to my blog :) A little about me? I'm a smitten newlywed and brand-new stepmom living in New Hampshire. My day job is boring on paper but great in real life (just like Dunder Mifflin!), and when I'm not working I love to spend time with my family, perform in or manage productions at the theatre, and eat ice cream while listening to yet another financial management podcast.  I write about my marriage, step-parenthood, and whatever else is going on.  Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog!
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One Year of Marriage Video!


As you may know at this point, Christopher and I celebrated our very first wedding anniversary last week!

We had a very lovely, fun anniversary and one of the things I was most excited about was filming our "One Year of Marriage" video a la this post by Blair (and her husband Riley!) of Blair Blogs.

So, we filmed it once.  And it didn't work.  So we filmed it again.  And it didn't work again.

Apparently, though, third time really is the charm, because we decided to try one last time and lo and behold - it worked!!!  To be fair, the camera did still die twice during the video, but we made it happen people!

So please do forgive the random cuts in the footage (and the fact that my hair gets progressively more and more messy with each cut...clearly I didn't brush it in between - hah!) - honestly we were so excited to actually be able to get through recording all of the questions that the strange cuts didn't bother us!

So without further ado --- our One Year of Marriage video!!!  We are so stoked about this and we hope to make it a new yearly tradition in our relationship!  I feel like it will be super fun to watch these as the years go by! <3 :)

Watch it on youtube here or below! It's about a half an hour, so you may want to grab a refreshment before you dive in ;)



Do you do anything special to celebrate your anniversary?  Let me know below!
Hi, I'm Grady! Welcome to my blog :) A little about me? I'm a smitten newlywed and brand-new stepmom living in New Hampshire. My day job is boring on paper but great in real life (just like Dunder Mifflin!), and when I'm not working I love to spend time with my family, perform in or manage productions at the theatre, and eat ice cream while listening to yet another financial management podcast.  I write about my marriage, step-parenthood, and whatever else is going on.  Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog!
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Adventures in Spontaneity



This week I did something completely out of character.

I found out my friend Erin was going to New York City for the weekend to visit our friends who live there and just to vacation and hang out and she told me I should come with her and... I did!

So I am currently writing this post from atop an air mattress in the middle of a city I know almost nothing about and have spent almost no time in before this trip.

And it's the best.

I've spent time with so many of my friends and seen some theatre and had a hundred iced coffees from different cute places and hung out in Grand Central Station and stood on a pier looking out on the Statue of Liberty and I'm pretty sure I needed this reminder that, despite being a type-A planner at heart, sometimes I really am meant for adventures.

Sometimes I'm presented with an opportunity and I should just say "yes" and go along with no plan and very little control and just... see what happens.

That also means the One Year of Marriage video is going to go up a little later on here than anticipated, but, you know, real life is kinda important too, once in awhile ;)

I'll be in the city through the weekend and I'm sure I'll post some pictures here eventually, but check out my instagram for a more real-time update :) Can't wait to chat soon!
Hi, I'm Grady! Welcome to my blog :) A little about me? I'm a smitten newlywed and brand-new stepmom living in New Hampshire. My day job is boring on paper but great in real life (just like Dunder Mifflin!), and when I'm not working I love to spend time with my family, perform in or manage productions at the theatre, and eat ice cream while listening to yet another financial management podcast.  I write about my marriage, step-parenthood, and whatever else is going on.  Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog!
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One Year Married



It's pretty darn surreal to know that (in two days time, technically) Christopher and I have been married for a year already.

You hear so much about the first year of marriage, from "it goes by so fast" to "the first year is the hardest year" and to be honest all of it seems ridiculous when you walk out of your reception and begin your brand new married life.  It's too overwhelming to hear the advice and assessments when you're just embarking out on this adventure - it's a bit stressful, too much for those first exciting days.

But now, here we are, a year into this marriage adventure and you guys, it really does go by ridiculously fast.  It really really does.  Although, if the first year is the hardest, then our marriage is gonna be SUPER EASY FOREVER (hah!) because this was such an incredibly joyful year, truly.

Marriage is about all the big things like compromise, sacrifice, and love, sure; but it's also about the millions of little things like backwards high-fives and knowing each other's Dunkin Donuts order and doing the dishes even when you'd rather not.

Marriage is disagreeing about something but holding hands anyway, and it's sitting on the floor playing board games, and it's tag-teaming responsibilities without a single word.

Marriage is budget meetings and belting musicals and doing everything you can to embarrass your tween with your nerdiness in public.

Marriage isn't simple and it isn't always easy, of course.  But for us, what's important is that we stockpile many, many little moments of happiness so that when the bigger, harder things come, there is such a foundation of tiny, hilarious, wonderful moments that the hard stuff doesn't stand a chance.

Sorry, trouble, you're just no match for the millions of times we've laughed this year.

Trust me, our lives are anything but perfect or without struggle - the fact that we are a stepfamily alone brings a unique set of challenges, and newlywed life is certainly not rainbows and buttercups all the time - but I truly believe that a foundation of grace, laughter, and teeny, tiny, insignificant moments of joy make it abundantly easier to go through the times of chaos and struggle and stress.

I also, you know, have the best husband on the planet, so that helps matters. ;)

I know that we have a lot more beautiful, painful, phenomenal, difficult, hilarious, and heartbreaking things to come, and I can't wait.

Okay, Year Two of marriage. Come at me, bro.

<3


Keep an eye out later this week for our "1 Year of Marriage Video" inspired by this post from Blair at Blair Blogs!  In the meantime, here's a little trip down marriage memory lane with some photos from this past year...





Photos by Laura Marie Duncan Photography
Married in September






Honeymoon Road Trip in September






Corn Maze and Adventure Park in October






Meeting our nephew, Aiden, in December






Trip to Gettysburg in February




Moving to our new house in March







"Second Honeymoon" trip in July

Can't wait to see what adventures next year brings! :) 
Hi, I'm Grady! Welcome to my blog :) A little about me? I'm a smitten newlywed and brand-new stepmom living in New Hampshire. My day job is boring on paper but great in real life (just like Dunder Mifflin!), and when I'm not working I love to spend time with my family, perform in or manage productions at the theatre, and eat ice cream while listening to yet another financial management podcast.  I write about my marriage, step-parenthood, and whatever else is going on.  Be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog!
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Taking Stock: August



My, my, my! August has been one of the most lovely months in awhile :)

At the beginning of the month, Christopher and I were able to take my parents to a concert at Fenway Park - James Taylor with Jackson Brown opening! The concert was AMAZING and we had the best time hanging out together with my parents!!!



And just two days later, Miss Jess returned home to us!!! We played lots of games and went to see her Daddy in his show and had an amazing time having her back home with us.





Other major highlights? I went to Old Orchard Beach with my friend Nora (and other made friends while I was there!) and it's like a dreamland!!! 


I did a photoshoot with my friend April from Alba Lumos Photography which means I got some beautiful photos AND I got to hang out with April, her husband Jordan, and her perfect little nugget, Marvel!!!



August means my older brother's birthday, which means we all got together as a family to celebrate Timothy and dote over my nephew Aiden, as per usual. 



Last major milestone for this month? JESS WENT BACK TO SCHOOL!!! Her first day of 7th grade went off without a hitch, and she was so gracious to pose in photos with us on the way to the bus stop! 


Making: time for family as much as I can - even if it means working on graphics while watching Zootopia (which is FINALLY out on DVD!!!) with Chris and Jessica. Make it work, right?
Cooking: pasta with gravy, like, three times this week. I have no idea why I keep craving it, but I do!
Drinking: so much iced coffee.  All iced coffee, all the time.
Reading: The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century. AKA the same book as last month. Still not done yet!
Wanting: to take a nap, honestly, but I still have lots to do tonight so that's a no go! Hah!
Looking: at my stepdaughter and my husband while they hang out <3 
Playing: our wedding song ("I Choose You" by Sara Barielles) on repeat with our anniversary coming up.  If you've never seen the music video, you need to! It's right here. Honestly, go watch it. I'll wait.
Wasting: a few minutes every day to just CHILL.  I'm generally not great at that, but I've been trying to be better!
Sewing: Nothing, but I'm lookin' at YOU, Jenny, to help me someday have a real answer for this category! ;) 

Wishing: there were maybe just a *few* more hours in a day... Just a couple, even??
Enjoying: the laughter in this family. Lots of personal jokes, lots of ridiculous sayings, lots and lots of love.
Waiting: to record the One Year of Marriage video with Christopher tonight! I'm so excited!
Liking: the extra bubbles in a fountain soda. I haven't been drinking much soda lately, but I got a fountain beverage tonight and I just LOVE how much more bubbly and lovely they are as a treat sometimes.
Wondering: what we're going to do this weekend for our anniversary!  (No, we don't know already and yes, I still think it'll be wonderful!)
Loving: how hysterical Jess has been being all evening. It's seriously amazing to have her home and I can't believe that this time last month I was anxiously awaiting her return to us! Crazy!
Hoping: that we have a great September!  It's my favorite month, so I'm extra stoked!
Marveling: at the strides I'm making!
Needing: to finish cleaning the house, but, you know what? It can wait ;) 
Smelling: the Tropical Twist Trident gum that I'm chewing. Delicious!
Wearing: a "Team Bride" t-shirt in honor of my bff Becky's wedding in less than three weeks!  Eek!
Following: some new podcasts and I love them! Christy Wright's "Business Boutique" and "Young House Love Has a Podcast" are huge in my world right now!
Noticing: how much I LOVE fresh flowers in our house - I've heard time and time again about how much they liven up a space, but I'm only just now understanding it and I'm hooked!
Knowing: that I'm quite possibly the most blessed woman alive.
Thinking: of so many new ideas my mind might explode!
Bookmarking: some photos that my friend sent me of a recent trip we took!
Opening: a Klondike bar in approximately five minutes. :-P
Feeling: Excited. Lovey.  Accomplished!


What about you? How did your August go?  
Are you taking stock of your life this month, too?  Feel free to share your URL below!

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