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I am going to lose it....

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi all. I am new here and thought I would ask for any advise anyone could give me. I am not going to go into all the specifics (we would be here all night) but here is the situation:Facts:
1. I am engaged to a wonderful guy I have known for 20 years.
2. I have 2 kids 5 year old boy and 8 year old girl.
3. He has two girls 7 and 12
4. His ex-wife has terminal brain cancer and is defying odds at this point still being here after 2 years.
5. Everyone gets along fine.
6. We do not live together, however he brings his kids over every night for dinner and homework and then leaves at bedtime so they might as well live with us.
7. I try so hard not to overstep my bounds but I feel like I have to all the time.

Here is my problem....

I have pretty much gone from having 2 kids and me to a family of six to cook for and keep track of school activities/assignments/whatever (three different schools) overnight. It has been 2 weeks since school started and I am going to lose my mind. I am not used to cooking for 6 but taking 6 out to dinner is too costly. Also my house is 900 square feet. In the winter I feel like we are all going to kill each other.

The girls (his girls) "live" with thier mother (and grandfather) but she has a hard time talking and can't write anymore and has started to forget what happened yesterday but if she was standing in front of you with her mouth closed, you would never know anything was wrong (other than the number all the chemo is doing on her physical appearance). It is a truely sad situation in that home. She can't help with homework and the 12 year old has to help the 7 year old.

My fiance pickes them up every day after work (around 5pm) and brings them "home". They stay with thier mom the entire night on Wednesdays and on the weekend. The 12 year old is starting to get sick of taking care of the 7 year old (and I don't blame her at ALL) at thier moms and I just don't know what to do. Other than us all moving in together and taking the kids from the ex what can we do to make this all more comfortable. We don't feel like we can move in together now anyway because we are not prepared financially and there are no bedrooms for his kids. Not to mention, we aren't going to get married until the other situation has be "handled" (for lack of a better term) to respect her feelings.

I guess what I am looking for is three things:
Advice on how to blend this family quick and painlessly with little room and a poor timeframe, advice on how to manage a family of 6 for dinner, homework, papers, ANYTHING. I need organizational tools! and how to make sure the kids are allowed to be kids despite the fact that thier mom (and understandably so) wants them home with her a lot but she can't care for them. I feel like I oversteped my bounds when I demanded that the younger bring her back pack to my house every day so I could make sure her work was getting done. How do you walk that line?!
post #2 of 25
That sounds so hard!! Those poor kids...and it must be a lot on you right now, too.

Where is your fiance in this? If the kids are over at your house every night for supper I hope that he is contributing to the cost.

The timeframe sounds very compressed, for dinner, homework and all the rest of it. I'm not sure if you work outside the home too? A few things I can think of:

- keep meals as simple as possible: crockpots are good if you like them, the microwave is your friend, leftovers are cool, cooking a few meals and freezing them on a Sunday may be a thought. If there are any food issues with the kids, just avoid them and try to provide quick relatively healthy meals that they're likely to eat.

- get the kids engaged in keeping track of their own homework as much as possible. Do they have daytimers or other planners for writing assignments in that can go back and forth? Do you and your fiance communicate with their teachers? It would be worth getting in touch with the teachers to explain the extraordinary circumstances and ask for their understanding and suggestions. It isn't the children's fault that they're being bounced around a fair amount right now, and I'm sure they're going through a lot, so anything to streamline homework would be good.

- do the kids have homework every night? It sounds like their lives are full of a lot of 'must do's' right now. Wherever you can, I'd try to grab the opportunity for some cheap fun - even if it's a picnic on the living room floor, meeting at a park for a picnic and a frisbee game over supper, getting together a routine whereby you all go skating and for pizza once a month, etc. Oh, my kids have always liked the occasional 'backwards' meal, too - i.e. dessert first .
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
My finance is there but he does a lot of manual labor now (just switched from an office job to a position that is not at a desk recently) so he is WORN out by the end of the day. I work too. Up until two weeks ago, I worked 8-5 m-f but I started leaving at 2 so the kids (mine) don't have to go to daycare afterschool. I am craming my 8-5 job into an 8-2 job so I bring work home alot too (not that I ever get around to working on it so I am behind here as well). As far as finances go with my cooking etc, that isn't really an issue. Money isn't a problem really.

My problem is I can't cook worth a hoot anyway. I only know one crock-pot recipe (a roast) and that's what's in right now because tonight we have open house at two different schools for two of the kids and a babysitter coming for the other two. I just can't keep it all straight.

Homework isn't a HUGE deal because the 12 year old is in all honers classes, responsible and pretty much takes care of herself and I check math if need be sometimes. The others are in kindergarden, 2nd and third. All teachers have been made aware of the situation as well. I am just afraid I am going to miss something (like picture day somewhere or something) because my fiance doesn't really "do" that stuff. He plays and guides and teaches respect and how to catch footballs and I handle the details. He also is having emotional stress with the ex thing because who wants to see thier kids go through something like that and he was married to her and loves her and it upsets him too so I don't ask him to do a whole lot. It's a hard time for them and it keeps getting worse. I would feel guilty saying I can't handle it, besides, if I do that, the "ins" I have with the kids and what I CAN control would be taken aways to "help me out" and then I fear they wouldn't be cared for as they need to be. What a mess. Oh...did I mention my daughter has ADHD on top of it and his kids are the most well behaved things in the world. That makes for a good time at dinner! :
post #4 of 25
I can't imagine trying to cram my work day in like that! And I remember when my dh was working construction and how exhausted he was by the end of the day.

The good news is that money isn't an issue and homework isn't really either.

There are some awesome crockpot recipes on the Food forum here. And definitely give yourself permission to make anything easy that you possibly can. More good news - if you're not much of a cook you won't run the risk of slaving away on some amazing creation that the kids refuse to eat, like a lot of moms here seem too!

Invest in a big family calendar, and either ask the school to send two copies of notices (for each house) or take notes for the calendar from anything that comes through your door. Have your partner let the teachers know that he'd appreciate any extra heads up about events at school, because it's important to the kids to keep things flowing as normally as possible right now.

And my point about doing fun, silly stuff holds....
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks and I did start to make a HUGE dry-erase board calendar last night, it's half done. I will look for some recipies tonight when everything is done (say around 1am ),

I think I just figured out a bunch of the problem. We are trying to be one family when we are still two and we can't completly be one until the other one is "done" (gosh, I need to come up with some better way of saying that, it sounds so aweful). But no one wants to take anything away from mom but she is in denial and thinks all will be better (heck it might be but with a 99% death rate and her starting to have "spasms" in her legs (read that as the seizers are startng) I doubt it so I feel like someone has to be the unemotionally attached person here and make sure the kids lives keep moving that kind of makes me the bad guy). He quote to me yesterday, yes we talk and are fine with each other and friendly (thank goodness), was that "the last MRI was bad and the tumors had grown and moved but I had only been on the chemo this time for 6 weeks so hopfully in a month, the next MRI will be better" and "I have these spasms in my leg and I am not sure why" (end stages involve seizures) and "I can't remember anything about last week" and things like that. She is not doing well at all. I just don't trust that grandpa is helping over there like a mother would because A. his daughter is dying so he is probalby up to his elbows in chemo etc with her and B. He just isn't that type of person and C. he often leaves them home with mom alone for hours to go do other stuff. I mean the last time she went to the ER he took them to his girlfriends house to spend the night insted of calling us. We didn't even know she was in there until we called the next day just to see how things were and make plans for the evening and at that time the girlfriend had taken them home and they were there alone. HELLO! (The 12 year old now has a new cell phone we got her). It's not that they are neglectful, they have a nice house, kids are clean and they are fed but I just don't see the extras and the "hey, aren't sign ups for track today" reminders coming from there. That really bothers me. Wow.....I think I just vented a bit much..sorry.
post #6 of 25
very sad. I am sorry for your whole family.
So I thought I would give you my own personal experience. How long have you and your fiance been together? How long have they been coming over everynight? My husband as well doesnt "do" alot of the details I think are important and that seem to be what the moms tend to do: homework, school supplies, activity checklists, etc...He is great at teaching respect, things that will go far for the kids when they get older. he works long days and very hard - I work parttime. Anyway I can see you are a little overwhelmed with all the changes. I was too. When we were dating I started becoming the one who cooked and handled those details and once we were married the only thing that changed is that I still did that and there was no end - we were married now. And noone went to their "respective" homes. We were a family now. He has 3 boys and I have a daughter. The blend was very challenging. The different personalities, the "new" responsibilities - cooking for 6 - 7 days a week. And I am like you - I dont cook. Anyway if you love your fiance and marriage is in the future, brace yourself - things wont necessarily get easier anytime soon. Especially with the mom dying - emotions will run high and sometimes kids can react stronger to things - a little after the fact. you have a ADHD child as well - I do to. His middle son. Very challenging - He sucks the life out of me. Cooking I think I have the hang of now - if you want some easy ideas, let me know. Homework - I know this is hard, but somehow the kids need to work out a system to where they are not so dependant on you for help. A grade may suffer in the process (not the end of the world) - afterschool homework hall, tutoring, and getting those kids to be more independant with the homework is important. My daughter - if she could - would want me to sit with her and pretty much go over every math problem she has with her. My husband convinced me that "aint" workin. His kids fair well and did before i came in the picture. Now they have had some grades that suffered at times, but overall they have gotten stronger, smarter and more independant with their homework and that is a big relief - that is draining every night especially with multiple kids. Blending with a big group of people, with other outside struggles will be a journey that is not easy, but worth it in the end. I am 2 yrs into a marriage. It has gotten easier, but it is still a frustrating at times journey.
post #7 of 25
very sad. I am sorry for your whole family.
So I thought I would give you my own personal experience. How long have you and your fiance been together? How long have they been coming over everynight? My husband as well doesnt "do" alot of the details I think are important and that seem to be what the moms tend to do: homework, school supplies, activity checklists, etc...He is great at teaching respect, things that will go far for the kids when they get older. he works long days and very hard - I work parttime. Anyway I can see you are a little overwhelmed with all the changes. I was too. When we were dating I started becoming the one who cooked and handled those details and once we were married the only thing that changed is that I still did that and there was no end - we were married now. And noone went to their "respective" homes. We were a family now. He has 3 boys and I have a daughter. The blend was very challenging. The different personalities, the "new" responsibilities - cooking for 6 - 7 days a week. And I am like you - I dont cook. Anyway if you love your fiance and marriage is in the future, brace yourself - things wont necessarily get easier anytime soon. Especially with the mom dying - emotions will run high and sometimes kids can react stronger to things - a little after the fact. you have a ADHD child as well - I do to. His middle son. Very challenging - He sucks the life out of me. Cooking I think I have the hang of now - if you want some easy ideas, let me know. Homework - I know this is hard, but somehow the kids need to work out a system to where they are not so dependant on you for help. A grade may suffer in the process (not the end of the world) - afterschool homework hall, tutoring, and getting those kids to be more independant with the homework is important. My daughter - if she could - would want me to sit with her and pretty much go over every math problem she has with her. My husband convinced me that "aint" workin. His kids fair well and did before i came in the picture. Now they have had some grades that suffered at times, but overall they have gotten stronger, smarter and more independant with their homework and that is a big relief - that is draining every night especially with multiple kids. Blending with a big group of people, with other outside struggles will be a journey that is not easy, but worth it in the end. I am 2 yrs into a marriage. It has gotten easier, but it is still a frustrating at times journey.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
777: You guys sound exactly like us (dad teaches life lessons, mom does details, one kid add, he working hard, mom working harder) minus the other drama of course. It made me smile. Anyway, to answer your questions...here is the situation. chad and I have known each other 20 years. We dated off and on (more off than on) through HS but were always really clicked and opened up to each other (I was the only one who knew the big bad football player/arrogent jock could cry for example ). Anyway...down the road a bit: I got married, he got married and I didn't talk to him for 7 years or so. I ran back into him one day when we were picking kids up at a private school we both just happen to have our kids at (they aren't there anymore). We reconnected and had both just gotten divorces at the same time a couple of months earlier (didn't know mom was sick yet though). I was dating someone at the time, but we would vent to each other and chat and he would bring his youngest by occationally to play, nothing exciting (we found out about the mom problem a month after we ran into each other). Anyway, this went on for about 2 years (that's how long it took me to realize the moron I was with was not for me. When you have to call another guy to feel like you have had a meaningful conversation, that should have told me something ). Chad would be my "sudo" date when I needed one, I would let him veg on my couch because he was bored sometimes. I went along for Halloween because my ex had my kids and I was fighting with my boyfriend. Anyway, I never wanted to "date" him. We were just friends and I honestly just wasn't attracted to him like that. But oneday last March I turned around in the kitchen and WHAM. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I was in love. I mean, wow, I can still remember the exact SECOND it happend. It was nuts. I mean just really strange to me. We are SO happy because we know each other so well and there was no getting to know family or anything. His mother said "well gee Chad, that's the girl you were supposed to marry in the first place!". It's almost stupid. Anyway, it didn't take long for him to propose but we knew the kids weren't ready for THAT. So we are engaged with no date until some more time passes for the kids sake. We have only been dating for 6 months or so but we have been hanging around together for 2 years so the kids are used to each other and we to them. They get along as well as any siblings do and boy, I really like having a 12 year old to help me make dinner and she has really bonded to me as well (but that's another issue. One that should be titled, "how do you get the 12 year old to stop ignoring her dying mother because she has a 'normal" fanily half the time", she is really pulling away and I don't like that either) Look at me. I could go on forever! Man, I have to get some girlfriends!
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh and yes....any food ideas would be GREAT.

I think I am going to take the idea above and have a picnic in the living room with a good movie or something. We watched Smokey and the Bandit last weekend. It has some bad language (yes, I am a bad mom) but I still think it's better than the snobbery and "cute" materialistic girls on some of the Disney shows (except Even Stevens. I love that show). And, really, it's not like they haven't heard "damn" anywhere before. Nothing better than a good old fashion funny car chase that doesn't involve blood or extreme violence. Another good recomendation is the "Apple Dumpling Gang" in case anyone likes those older movies.
post #10 of 25
Hey, read your post early this morning and just wanted to check in and see how you were. It sounds super hectic, but it seems as though you have a strong relationship and it will all work out.

Slow cookers rock! I picked this recipe up to make for my dh sometime http://food.cookinglight.com/cooking...cipe_id=223596

Also, search Cooking Light using just the term "slow cooker" and tons of interesting dishes come up.
post #11 of 25
I do not have any advice, I ahve not been in even a similar situation but I could not read with out leaving you a
post #12 of 25
That sounds like a great idea - glad I could help!

Foodwise, I'm not very creative at all: pizza, pasta, rice, veggie dogs, chilli, etc are about my limit. Homemade nachos with yummy dips are a Friday night treat here. What about making their own sundaes? (although maybe it's not good living room floor food!)

Dressing up a regular meal with candles can be nice (especially if it's super plain food, like hot dogs or pizza!).

Good luck!
post #13 of 25
it is strange how are situations are so similiar! i think love and respect will be soo important. If you love your fiance and respect him then you should be able to trust his decisions and love him thru the difficult times of blending. I know me and my husband will make it even if it doesnt feel like it sometimes. Anyway easy dinner ideas:

BAKED FRIED CHICKEN (2 eggs, dixie fry)
dip each piece chicken in egg mixture, then in dixie fry. bake 30 min at 400*. brush melted butter on top of each piece. bake additional 30 min.

MEXICAN CASSEROLE (corn tortillas, lots of cheese, rotisserrie chicken, can of chopped jalapenos, refried beans, large can las palmas enchilada sauce)
Dip 6 corn tortillas in enchie sauce and lay in bottom of casserole, spread light layer of refied beans, layer of chicken, layer jalapenos and cheese. Lay on top 6 more tortillas dipped in enchie sauce, repeat layers. Add 3rd layer of tortillas dipped. Sprinkle with cheese, chopped green onion and olives. Bake 400* 30-40 min.

GRILLED SHRIMP (package of peeled, deveined, tail off shrimp, italian dressing)
rinse shrimp in cool water to defrost. marinate in dressing - I like the kind you buy in packages and add the vinegar and oil - tastes better. Grill a few minutes, heat dressing they marinated in and pour over shrimp.

SPICY WINGS (package of chicken wings and drummettes, soy sauce, honey, asian garlic red chili sauce - go in asian section, just buy what you can find that is red and looks a little spicy or louisiana hot sauce)
boil plenty of soy sauce, honey and some of the asian sauce. Pour over wings. bake 375* 1hr.

BEEF & VEGIES (couple packages of chunks of beef used for stews, corn on cob)
Grill beef chunks then salt and pepper, cut corn in small pieces and boil. Mix together.


I dont know - Im no gourmet, but these are fast and easy - especially the more i do them. I have other ideas if you want. Sometimes I will do a "veggie" night - no meat, and i always do a sandwich night once a week.
post #14 of 25
One of the easiest crock pot recipes:

Boneless skinless chix breasts with a can of condensed cream of soup (broc, mushroom, chic, celery, whatever you like). One can for up to 6-8 breasthalves, two cans for more (our crockpot is large). Dont use skin on chicken, it makes the sauce oily. Cook some rice or noodles and put the chicken with some sauce on top.
post #15 of 25
I take one of those pack of chicken breast, put them on foil on a baking tray, brush them up with bbq sauce, bake for 30 mins, add some baked potato skins and veggies, quick easy meal.

Shepards pie is great too..fry hamb meat, throw in a round dish, cover with hot water and lots of veggies, cover all that with mashed potatoes, throw in oven for 30 mins, q uick and easy too.

((HUGS)) mama
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Wow so many great food ideas. Thanks. Let me know if anyone has anymore! I am taking notes!

So why not add some more drama for me....sigh...tonight was "meet the teacher night" at two of the schools. My 5 yr old and the 12 yr old of his. SO my parents come and watch the 5, 7 and 8 year old while I go meet the new kindergarden teacher and Chad decides to go pick up his ex and his 12 yr old and all three go to her open house at school. Great. Huh? No...because they stayed for the opening thing in the auditorium and his ex couldn't make it up the stairs to get to any of SD's classrooms so they had to leave. Chad said in the auditorium the Ex was just glazed over and the look on her face at the IDEA of having to go upstairs was a look of horror. So they left without meeting one teacher. I hope that SD was OK with that (not that it could be helped). That was so upsetting for Chad to see how bad she had gotten (outside her home) that now he is really upset and depressed and talking about how she used to be "in her prime" etc. I know this all sounds like I am being bitter or something but really I am not. Just bad choice of words I suppose. I am just selfishly sitting here thinking "great...MORE stuff to deal with today". Like the working til 2, getting kids from bus at 2:30, having to get his 7 yr old daughter from her moms at 3 without feeling like I am stealing her child away from her, homework for all three, going through all the notes in SD backpack and filling out PTA forms, Art Fees, Book Logs and them writing a detailed note to the ex explaining what has to be done for tomorrow so she doesn't have go through it all, feeding them, dealing with my fathers loss of hearing when giving directions for evening, going to open house, coming home, baths, I finally get to eat and got kids to bed and he calls depressed. How mean am I? Gee...now I feel bad. But GEEZ I need a 5!:
post #17 of 25
PLEASE don't take this as me putting more pressure on you. I am so astounded reading this and admire you very much for taking this all on in such a big-hearted way.

My daddy died of a brain tumor when I was 16 (coming up to 4 years ago). He was diagnosed 2 years before he died, and their diagnosis was that he had less than 6 months to live.
My mama nursed him at home through the whole thing (apart from two hospital stays for operations, + chemo & radiotherapy).

During this time I experienced the "pulling away" that you mentioned in relation to the 12yo. I not only found myself distant from my daddy but my mother as well. At the time I was dealing with high expectations about my schoolwork (I was always some sort of class leader) from myself as well as other people, amongst other things. This sounds somewhat like how you describe your Dsd.
At the time I guess this pulling away (particularly from dad) was almost nesacary for my emotional survival - I went on with my life, making as little concessions to my situation as possible. However, now I really regret that I didn't let myself be "different" for a while & spend more time with my dad while I had him. And it's an awful regret to have.

SO, while it may make you feel like the bad guy in the situation, please know that your efforts to keep your Dsd involved with her mum, and the support you are giving these girls through this awful time in their lives is absolutely the right thing. You are effectively making sure they won't have this regret.
Even if they occasionally resent it now, it will be so important to them later in their lives that you were there for them & helped them be there for their mother.

You have probably thought about this already but I just wanted to reinforce it & remind you how much difference you are making for these kids.

post #18 of 25
Sounds like you are one busy mama!! But doing a great job! You have been given some great advice and I know you will get more.

I read your concern about missing something with all the chaos, like school pics, etc... maybe you could get the email of all the teachers and keep up with them that way. Most schools provide teachers with email these days and that way you can drop a quick note or they can if something comes up!

Thank goodness for the www!! There are so many quick and easy, cheap and simple, large family, small family recipes out there that maybe you can compile an easy list and come up with some good meals.

here is a recipe site for some fun recipes to do that might release some tension in the house:

http://www.kidskuisine.com/
post #19 of 25
: What you are going through is amazing. You need to take care of yourself emotionally and physically or you will burn out. Then you won't be any help to anyone.
My mother died of cancer when I was 11. When she died her whole body was riddled with cancer. Including her brain. I went through what your 12yo is going through. I had to pull away or I couldn't have functioned. Just reassure her that what she is feeling is OK and normal. We all grieve in different ways.
I know DF is hurting too but he needs to snap out of it and help you. It might even help him. Give him something that he can do. Just explain to him how you feel. He is probably feeling some of the same things. Maybe there is just 1 thing he can do. Maybe he could cook dinner a couple of times a week.

Try spaghetti. Most kids love it.
Tacos..you can't really mess it up.
Make breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, scrambled eggs.
Shoot nothing wrong with sandwiches.
Make your meals simple. That way the younger kids can help.

BTW coming in here to vent is really going to help. So vent away.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

well...I am venting again...

Well, things have gotten easier over the last couple of weeks. I made a chart of stuff that needs to be done every day so I can keep track of it and that works well. And I thank everyone for their dinner ideas!

OK, so I am whining because I had a MAJOR migraine today and didn't want to do ANYTHING but he picked up his kids and brought them over like usual and then started about how he didn't feel well either and normally he would suck it up and do everything but he didn't have the energy. So I ordered a pizza and we laid around while the kids played until it got there. I get up, get the pizza, take it in the kitchen, call the kids, deal with the extra friend from down the street wanting to eat over at our house, set the table, got everyone drinks and he comes in and sits down at the table. Now I am getting irritated because, HELLO, help me out a bit here! My smallest was saying "Mommy Mommy Mommy" 16,000 times in a row trying to tell me something (like he does every five minutes. He thinks he can't start a sentence until I actually say "what?". I have stood there and stared directly at him and he just keeps it up until I say "what" so I just tune the "mommys" out anymore)and DF finally said "Sam! Shut your mouth and just eat your food" (you know, 'cause that was helping me since I was kinda busy serving everyones dinner and all...sigh) The only problem was that Sam didn't HAVE food yet because I hadn't gotten to it which instantly made me say "He doesn't HAVE any food to eat!" rather snappish. What I was really saying was "put your STUPID breadstick down and dish him up a slice of pizza instead of sitting there getting irritated that he is trying to get the attention of a woman feeding (with the friend) 7 people at once with a migraine".

So he gets mad cause he HEARD "I am snapping at you because I am in a bad mood and have NO other reason to do so" so he gets up, saying he is not going to be snapped at and goes on the back porch to get some "peace and quiet". GAH!!! Hello! I am not a servant. I really don't mind doing everything. I don't. Really. But I am going to get a bit bent out of shape when I need to take the night off and can't because he is worn out too. He is ALWAYS worn out, that's why I always do everything. I just wanted my night. He offered to take his kids to his apartment because I had a headache and I said no because "I" needed help with MY kids. But he got mad about the pizza deal, we argued, he took the kids home. I am bitter. He thinks I am yelling at him because everything I say, he hears as "You don't do anything" and that's not what I am saying. I don't mind normally doing everything because he IS worn out and I sit at a desk all day but when I need help, I am going to expect it. That is NOT wrong. It's the classic, "I work all day for you and do physical labor and I hurt my back and blah blah blah". FINE. OK. NO Big deal....but hey, does that automatically mean that I am not allowed ONE sick day without worrying that everything will get done? Kids fed, homework done? GAH!!!!!!!
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