How did you and your spouse meet and how long have you been married?
Back in 2013, in our “previous lives” I used to kick my husband’s tail in the gym. I was his personal trainer and bootcamp instructor in our small town! We always knew we were “cut from the same cloth” and that allowed us to be great friends. We were each married at the time, so he stepped into a “big brother” role for me, as he is eleven years older. We lost touch when my family moved away, and unfortunately had both separated from our spouses when we reconnected. He needed help finding a new place, and I had gotten my real estate license. I don’t think we have gone a day since that phone call without speaking. He is the best man I know, and I know MANY great men! We will be married 2 years next week!
How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
We ended up with two brand new sets of twins when we got married, as Jay and I’s children are the same age. Our “bigs” are 13, the “twins” are 10, and my little guy, Cash is 6. He often feels jipped that he doesn’t have a counterpart!
Did you become an instant family?
Jay and I both had blinders on and EXPECTED them to be an instant family; we didn’t want to give them any other option except to love each other. We know now that that was misguided and had to take large steps back and allow everyone to heal at their own pace. I guess we realized a forced family was not what we were looking for, but instead a union that happened organically, one that was their choice. I felt an imaginary cloud clear around the first year mark, and each weekend that we have spent as the seven of us has gotten exponentially better.
What does discipline look like in your home?
I’m very strict, and my husband is sorta strict but more so kind, good, and patient. I hated the way he parented when we first married until I saw the results he got from our children and the way they thrived. Now I strive each day to parent more and more like him. I want to be just like him when I grow up 😉
Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
There are SO many! If I had to pick my favorite, I would say the relationship between our thirteen year olds, a boy and a girl. They are extremely close, and they love each other so much. The girl is mine, and her name is Lily. She is our blended family’s biggest fan, and I am confident that there were days when she was cheering for all of us when I was not. Also, when we are together it sounds like we are having a “kegger” at our place, they are so loud and crazy. They make our life wild and hilarious!
The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
Again, there are SO many! My husband and I have a grace and humility podcast, so the challenges in our family only add amazing content for each episode! So when the Lord told us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, we ACTUALLY do! After a few moments of course! Of course, I’m totally kidding, but in a way, this IS the dynamic of our trials! We USE them!
What does Co-parenting look like for you?
My ex-husband is one of my best friends. I’m afraid it makes others feel uncomfortable, but I pray our relationship becomes the norm, and not the rare case, very soon. We speak with each other nearly everyday and work together when we see a problem arise with one of our three children. Usually, however, our calls are sharing the funny thing one of our crazy kids did/said that day. I won’t answer for my husband, but I will share that he and his ex-wife are very much the adults they are needing to be to make the kids thrive.
Any tips you can give other blended families?
Our podcast revolves around a very key principal, “Drop the Rope,” and we feel it can be a game-changer for blended families. A tug-of-war can occur so quickly in each of our relationships, and simply dropping our end of the rope can squash it in an instant. It’s taken us years to figure out, but once we got a taste of the first victory by simply dropping it, we knew that is what we wanted for our family. We saw our children THRIVE, and that as parents is our ultimate goal!
Anything else you want us to know about your family?
We mess up all of the time and are still trying to figure so many things out!! We don’t ever want anyone to feel frustrated or alone in this, as we are right here with you! We want you to know we are here too, cheering you on!!
Thank you Norman Crew for sharing with us! Go check out their podcast: https://www.movingonpodcast.com/
I’m Jenn, Mom to one daughter, Addison. She’s 9 going on 16, I swear! My fiancé Mark is Dad to three great kids, Justin (15), Alyssa (13), Jayden (11). We’ve been living under the same roof for a year and a half now and have most recently added another addition, a puppy named Dez. He’s a Beagle/Springer Spaniel/Labordoodle mix!
Mark and I met online. Unknown to one another we both separated from our ex-spouses the same year. We both had a semi-serious dating relationship after our splits that ended at the same time, and we both joined Match.com on Thanksgiving weekend 2016! We had been living parallel lives all this time, just waiting for the right time to find each other! We moved in together the summer of 2017 and got engaged summer of 2018. We are set to marry September of this year!
In terms of blending together, we really couldn’t have asked for anything better. Addison was always very shy and used to having me all to herself but when she met Mark and the kids, she warmed up to them all instantly, and you’d think she’d been around them her whole life. Mark’s kids were very accepting of both Addison, and I and things have unfolded naturally for all of us, for the most part! Let’s keep it real here; it’s not a fairy tale!
Ahhh, this is one of the biggest stressors for sure! You blend two families together. Two separate households, two different parents and 4 very different children and boy oh boy is it an adventure! Mark and I luckily share very similar values, but there are things he was lax about that I had always really zoned in on with Addison so trying to compromise and not step on people’s toes has been challenging.
We agreed early on that when it comes to discipline, whatever child is needing it at the time, their bio parent would handle it.
We have both given each other full authority though to discipline if needed, and we always back each other up in front of the kids. If there’s ever something we don’t agree on, then we discuss it behind closed doors. Keeping a united front as parents is very important!
More people to love and to love you in return. Getting pregnant was a struggle for me and the chances of having more children were slim to none, so it really has been a blessing to have these other 3 amazing kids as part of my family now.
Having a blended family! Seriously though, there are so many aspects to blending two families together that are challenging. The biggest for me personally is letting go. There are so many things that are not in your control, schedules, finances, co-parenting with exes. Just so many factors that can be very challenging!
Luckily Mark and I are very much on the same page with almost everything. I’m the stricter one. Mark’s the laid back, fun dad, like dads tend to be and I’m the one running the tight ship that needs to remember to just relax and go with the flow more. Where we differ, we balance each other out, but it’s good that we always see eye to eye on the big things!
Pick your battles. If it won’t matter in 6 months, don’t worry about it.
Compromise and communication are two of the biggest skills you will need to master.
Find support, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This life is not easy, and you’re not alone in it. There are tons of other amazing step mama’s out there, and the beautiful thing is they’re all usually very eager to help, to listen and to support! I’m one of them – Here for you any time!
Check out Jenn’s site @ http://thisisblended.com/
and be sure to follow her on IG @ thisisblended
Jenn, Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Blended Tribe with us! I look forward to collaborating with you in the future 😉
💗 The Blended Tribe
To read about some other great blended families click HERE
D E C I S I O N S ——> Last Sunday I celebrated my 38th Birthday! As I inch my way closer to the 40 mark, it’s easy to dwell on that BIG number. I thought about letting myself get down because of this….you start to think about all the things you haven’t accomplished that you thought you would by this age. I decided to work past it and ended up having a worry-free relaxing day.
Life is all about #decisions. We have to choose on a daily basis to get up and do life! We also choose on a regular basis how we respond to other people’s words and actions. Dealing with other people isn’t always the easiest. We have to decide to respond in the best way, and hopefully, that is a loving and caring way. SO NOT EASY!
We also decide on if we are going to let things get to us or not. I’ve learned that things that I would usually get upset about it just one mind change away from not letting it get to me at all. I know this is easier said than done sometimes, but the older I get, the more simple this becomes for me.
I encourage you to try to change your mindset today. If there is someone that says something mean today or your down and out about something, tell yourself that it’s NOT going to get you down today and that certain person is NOT going to get to you today!! See what happens. Choose joy!
James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Love, The Blended Tribe
Two thousand eighteen was a good year. Am I happy to see it go…..yes! My husband told me a couple of weeks back that this was one of his best years to date. I don’t know if this was one of my best years, but it wasn’t horrible, and I ‘m glad we survived it together.
I must say that I’m excited for 2019 and what it has to offer. I do have some personal goals that I want to work on this year. My big goal is that I take the time now that I’m settled in this blended living, to make time for other people. It has been about five years since my divorce, and I feel like since that time I have become so consumed in myself, my kids, and then surviving this new life that I’ve created. I finally feel like I can breathe, and now it’s time to be there more for my friends and family outside of my little home. I need to be better about remembering Birthdays and special events; these were all things that I was good at one time in my life. It’s time to get that back! This particular thing has been on my heart for the past few months, so I’m determined to make it happen this year.
I’m excited for 2019, and I adore the tribe of people that I have around me. I’m busy, so I may take a little longer to respond to your questions and comments, but I will respond. I am so grateful for all the kind words, and encouragement I get on this journey. I also can’t tell you how much I appreciate you trusting my advice and asking for it. It’s a continual learning experience for all of us, and I’m grateful that we have one another to bounce ideas off of and to support one another.
Merry Christmas my friends! I hope your day is full of love and joy. I know the Holiday’s can be so hard after divorce. It’s been five years since my separation, and it still doesn’t feel “normal” to me.
We are focused now on creating a new normal, and with each year, it gets a little easier. This entire situation is a process, and it’s what you make of it. You can let the process take you down, or you can learn and grow from it! I choose every single day to learn from what life throws at me. That’s the only option I have. I’m too hard-headed to let people, things or my situation get to me! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
Don’t let today get you down! If you’re alone, enjoy it! If you’re with a new family, enjoy it! If you have all your kids and stepkids, enjoy it! If it’s just you and your significant other, enjoy it! Reflect on what today is really about and be grateful for this moment however you might be spending it.
With so much love,
The Blended Tribe
photo credit: photography by DeeDee
I’ll be posting more photo’s from her soon. She’s an amazing Central Coast photographer who impressed me beyond belief with her skills, and she works so well with kids (she’s a mama of 3). Check out her work here
We took this photo while starting our Thanksgiving vacation camping and in the rain. We look happy right?! The kids were inside the trailer watching a movie, and Jon and I were cozied up by the fire with a beer and a glass of wine. It was a good start. Little did I share what happened the next day. This was our first Thanksgiving camping, and all but two of our tribe was excited about it. I think from all the rain to the complaining to the 8-year-old rubbing a tortilla on her body (another story for another time), I had had my feel!! I told Jon that I was ready to sell our trailer and I don’t want to go camping again with these kids!! I was OVER IT! When you have kids complaining and acting out and then a rainy, muddy mess to add to the experience, it was a recipe for disaster, and I was questioning why we even make an effort to do this stuff. I lost my sh*t people! I had to take a moment and dig deep and center myself aka I prayed and asked God for help.
What started as a frustrating Holiday where I was ready to disown every child (not literally), turned into a cool bonding experience with our two older ones who complained about camping in the first place. We played cards with the two of them for a good portion of the day and night, and it was probably the most fun I’ve had with them in a long time. They are goofy and ridiculous and a lot of fun. It was nice to get that time with them, and I’m confident that by the end of the trip they had fun too.
It’s hard when you have four kids ranging from eight to thirteen; you don’t ever feel like you can make every single one of them happy at one given time. Most the time I don’t care, but sometimes this can wear me down. I guess it’s one of those things that I’m learning you have to assess the situation and focus in on which one or two need the attention or extra care the most at that moment.
So, we are keeping the trailer for now, and we will continue to camp, and we don’t care who likes it or not. We will continue to do it because you never know when you will get those much-needed bonding moments with the kids. We will continue to camp because I believe deep down that when they are older, these are the trips that they will remember and hopefully pass on and do with their children. We will continue to camp so that they can disconnect from their phones and video games to get outside and experience new things and nature.
It might kill us, but camping lives on in this blended tribe!
At one point in my life, I lived in Ft. Knox, Kentucky (I was an Army wife for many years). There wasn’t much that I liked about living in Kentucky. I do have one fond memory that took me back while I was baking a homemade Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving. We went to have dinner with some friends that lived off base. They had a sweet, little, lady for a neighbor. She had made us a pecan pie to have for dessert, now up until this point I had decided I didn’t like pecan pie and I had come to this conclusion even though I never in my life tried a bite of one. It didn’t look appealing to me, so, therefore, I must not like it.
I wanted to be polite, so I took a piece of this homemade pie and holy s**t!!!! I’ve missed out on this deliciousness for over 20 years just because it didn’t look like it tasted good!?!
So, today I made my first pecan pie. I didn’t make it for myself, but I made it for the person that I care about the most…..my hubby. I had planned on going and buying him one because something that tastes that good should be complicated to make right?! I looked up recipes and turns out it’s not that complicated at all. I can smell the pie cooking as I write this blog post, and I’m feeling pretty accomplished along with remembering a good memory from a place in time where I was miserable in my surroundings.
So, there is a point to this post, and the two takeaways are:
1) Don’t judge a book by its cover…..dig in and take a bite or dig deeper and get to know that person better even if they don’t look like somebody you would invest your time. You never know what good things can come from just digging a little deeper.
2) Always look for the positive or the bright side in every situation. I was miserable living in Kentucky for a year. I don’t even want to go into all the details about what made that place hell for me, but this is the one positive thing (I know it’s pretty small and ridiculous) that I took from that place, and I will never forget this memory.
I’m going add a third point.
3) Do something special for your spouse today even if it’s small. Jon LOVES pecan pie. I told him I would make sure to buy him one and he was grateful. When I came home the next day and mentioned that I was going to bake him one, I got the biggest smile from him which melted my heart. Him knowing that I was taking the extra time out of my already crazy schedule to do something special for him made him feel important, and that was obvious by his reaction.
Now let’s pray this pie turns out. If it’s a winner, I will be sure to share the recipe.
💗 The Blended Tribe
This Thanksgiving we have all four kids!! We decided to take our Turkey on the road. We are celebrating our 2018 Thanksgiving camping!! The older two aren’t thrilled about it, but the younger two are excited….you can’t win them all, right?! We aren’t traveling far, but if this works out, I can see it as our new tradition. We have family coming out to celebrate with us, and we are looking forward to being together and trying something new. Did I mention it might rain 😉 It will be an adventure!
I know how hard the holidays can be within a blended family, and this Thanksgiving I’m truly blessed not to have to worry about an exchange or not having our kids. That’s not the case for all of you this year, and I know that. Keep your chin up, focus on the positive, create new traditions with you your spouse, friends or alone! Don’t sit around being sad over something you can’t control though! Please stay positive, every holiday won’t be this way, and know that I’m thinking about you!!
Hit me up on email email@example.com or IG @ the_blended_tribe if you’re having a hard time. You’re not in this alone, and I will do my best to talk you through it!
Click on Holiday Blending to get more tips on surviving this time of year.
After a couple of failed attempts of trying to get the impressions on my own for The Smile Direct Club, we decided to take a drive to the closest office, which was in Santa Barbara. It was a cool experience from the 3D X-rays to leaving with a bag full of goodies. It’s a lot quicker to go into the office and get it done for you. We are now waiting to get the plan back and get her started!