The Blended Tribe

Meet Mr. & Mrs. P

•How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We were matched on eharmony but didn’t want to pay so found him on Facebook and became friends. We lived 2 hours apart but had long daily phone conversations and met up about once a week. We started dating in February and married in October. We’ve been married a little over three months.

•How long did you date before getting married?
About eight months but it was more purposeful than dating- it was like premarital counseling that whole time, ha!

•How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
One boy is 3, and one is 8

the boys
The Boys

•Did you become an instant family?
Not really, more like roommates who (mostly) enjoy each other. The boys both started out (when we were dating) really wanting a sibling and after moving in together weren’t as excited. We have to know when and how to give each individual space.

•What does discipline look like in your home?
We try to allow the older to be disciplined mainly by dad in order for him to grow a relationship with stepmom. The younger, not having had a dad around, is disciplined by both to set clear authority guidelines for him as a toddler.

•Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
I think both boys are now able to learn what it’s like to share life with others, versus the kid world revolving around them alone before. We all benefit from learning to appreciate and cooperate with different personalities.

•The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
I think while you need to be building strength and unity as a couple, the needs of the kids often emerge and take center stage. So it’s a balancing act. Making sure the kid’s needs are addressed while also prioritizing the marriage and keeping that bond strong.

•What does Co-parenting look like for you?
In my case, I got sole custody, so I don’t co-parent. In my husband’s case, they share 50/50, and I support that process by providing rides, etc. I’m cooperative and cordial with his ex but leave most of the logistics to him/her.

•Any tips you can give other blended families?
I’d say to take advantage of resources like Weekend to Remember and Family Life Blended and their materials and conferences. We make going to church, family prayer and bible time a unifying experience. And we look for ways to put our marriage first to model for the kids what a healthy one should be. They feel loved and secure when our marriage is important.

Blended Wedding
Blended wedding

•Anything else you want us to know about your family?
We both had to understand and sort through the effects of having past marriages with narcissistic abuse. It impacted everything as far as guilt over divorce, lingering triggers related to anxiety and PTSD, and being able to date someone new in a healthy way. If anyone is trying to understand what happens in a toxic marriage and heal, I recommend The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick and Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft. If divorcing and dealing with custody with a high conflict individual, I highly recommend the book Splitting on divorcing narcissistic or borderline people, and pretty much any resource by Tina Swithin and One Mom’s Battle. I know for me, I had to come to a full understanding of what my past marriage had broken and warped in me before I could love again. Now I’m passionate about helping others understand abuse, raise healthy children despite it, and avoiding toxic relationships or dealing with disordered individuals the best ways possible. It impacts way more marriages and families than people even know.
I’m so grateful now to know what it is to have an actual partner in life and have this fresh chance to model that cooperation and sacrificial love for our kids.


→ Thank you, Mrs. P. for taking the time to share with us.  Your family is adorable and you are an inspiration, my friend!                                    ♥ The Blended Tribe

New Year, New Menu.

My friend (you know who you are) gave me the idea of sticking to a weekly menu. So, for an entire month, we are going to make the same meal on the designated day each week. For example, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, and every Wednesday is pasta night. She was explaining that this will cut out the hassle of menu planning each week and it saves money. We are giving this one a try for these main reasons: I don’t have to figure out a weekly menu and shop for it, the food is the same for the entire month….easy! Also, the kids have been begging us to let them cook more. Cooking this way is the perfect opportunity for them to make a meal four weeks in a row and actually learn how to make the meal instead of cooking it once and forgetting. They should be pros by the fourth time making it.
The kids aren’t thrilled about this idea at all, but I’m excited to give this a try and see how it works for us.

 We’ve been putting them to work!

Here are some photos of them in action

kids in the kitchen
camp cooking

teaching kids to cook

 

WEEK 1 UPDATE: We got through a full week of trying this out, and it was AMAZING!! Takes all the thought out of what’s for dinner tonight and made things ridiculously easy for all of us, now on to week 2.

 

 

Misery Won’t Be Getting My Company!

Not going to bring me down
Dealing with miserable people can be a challenge. They try to bring you down with them. Stay positive, keep your head up and forward on! Know that for somebody to be so angry and hateful towards you, means that they have a whole lot going on internally that will not be fixed until they choose to fix it.
Life is too short to be hating people and holding a grudge towards somebody. I think the most important thing is to communicate. I’ve seen one too many families and friendships destroyed by people being afraid to talk their crap out. The funny thing is, a lot of time what is perceived to have happened or been said, it not at all the case. So friendships and families go on with being broken over lack of communication.

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Also, know when it’s time to move on…..you’re not going to get along with every person, and that’s ok. Know when to let go, and be at peace that not everybody is going to like you. I’m to the point in my life where I love people, I love my friends, and I love my family. I’m going to move on being happy and being me so if you want to be apart of that then great, and if not, that’s ok too. I’m at peace with it, and I try to not to give a lot of thought into what other people are thinking.

Growing Up Blended.

My adorable friend Natalie grew up in a blended home. I’m always asking her questions and asking her how things worked while she was growing up. I got to sit with her the other day (she’s on bedrest, and I was hiding out from our four kids….mama needed a break) and ask her some questions about growing up blended.

1. How old were you when your parents divorced and how many kids did your parents have together?
They were legally separated when I was three years old and divorced by the time I was four years old.
My parents had three girls together; I was the youngest.

2. When did your parents get remarried?
My dad remarried when I was six years old. He started dating his high school sweetheart shortly after my parents got divorced. My mom didn’t remarry until two years ago, but she did start dating about a year after she and my dad got divorced.

3. How many stepsiblings do you have?
I have two stepsisters from my dad’s marriage that I met when I was 5 and grew up with. I also have two stepsisters from my mom’s marriage, but I’ve only met them a handful of times.

4. Did you all get along in the beginning and do you get along now?
We didn’t always get along while growing up. We fought a lot of the time, especially my two middle sisters because they were closest in age. There were five of us girls all around the same age, and we all have strong personalities. We visited my dad and stepmom’s house every other weekend, and he lived about forty-five minutes away. My Dad and stepmom had more money than my mom did, so we often compared ourselves to our stepsisters. They had a lot more material things than we did, which was frustrating at times. I see now that those things don’t matter. Despite living very different lives at each house, all three of my parents made a huge effort to create a sense of equality for us girls. They took us on a lot of family trips and kept us busy with fun activities. We all get along great now that we are adults and we have wonderful memories from growing up, even though we spent a lot of time arguing.

5. Were your mom and stepmom similar or different in raising you?
They were very different, and I think that I benefited from being raised by completely different people. I have a better appreciation and understanding for different walks of life.

6. What was the hardest thing you dealt with growing up in a blended family?
GUILT! I had a lot of guilt over not being able to make two art projects at school for each house, or only having one parent at my soccer games. I wanted them both there for everything and often blamed myself because I didn’t want it to be awkward for them. My parents never made us feel guilty about them getting a divorce; I brought it upon myself.

7. What are your thoughts on marriage?
I knew that I wanted to get married and start a family young and I continued to pray that God would provide a wonderful man for me. Most of my family thought I was crazy and should focus on my education and future career. When I was 19, God blessed me with my sweet Eric, who is the most selfless, loving person I have ever met. He came from a very stable, different upbringing than mine. We balance each other out really well because of this. We got married when I was 20, and he was 23. Because I experienced how difficult a divorce can be firsthand, I have always been adamant that the man God chooses for me to marry will be the ONE I spend the rest of my life with. We have one beautiful girl and another little lady on the way. I have loved every second of our marriage! Even the hard parts, because they have brought us closer as a couple. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ridiculously good looking 😉

8. The most important advice you can give to blended families?
Keep doing the best job you can. You may not see the fruits of your labor now, but you will when your little ones grow up. Make sure your kids know that they’re not the cause of your divorce. Keep them busy in sports and other activities, so they don’t find themselves involved with the wrong crowd. It’s easier for kids with divorced parent’s to stray because they may not have the supervision that they would if their parents were married.

***Thank you, my dear friend, for taking the time to share your story with us. I know that most people out there are a product of divorce and grow up in a nontraditional way. Seeing Natalie and hearing her story and outlook, is so encouraging to me. Sometimes I do still have guilt for my kids not being raised by both their parents, but Natalie’s story gives me hope and reminds me that everything is going to turn out fine. The kids are going to survive, and God has a plan in it all.

Meet the Criner Family.

Blended Family

1.  How did you two meet and how long have you been married?

We met at our church. He plays the bass on the worship team, and I sing….still do to this day actually.  We’ve been married for five year this last October.

2.  How long did you date before getting married?

We were friends for about a year before we started dating. Then we dated about two years before we got married.

3.  How old are each of your children that you brought into the marriage?

Charlie’s son, Lukas, is 18, and daughter, Ellie, is 15. My daughter, Emily, is 16.

4.  Did you become an instant family?

We are blessed with the fact that our kids have always gotten along really well. It took a little while to find our groove though. Mostly, it was me figuring out how to be a mom alongside a stepmom and how to be a new wife again.

5.  What does discipline look like in your home?

Charlie and I have very different parenting styles, but we both agree that poor behavior starts with bad parenting. Charlie is more passive/easygoing when it comes to chores, follow through, and rules, where I am much more militant with those things. It’s actually good for the kids and us, but it took a long time to find our place.

6.  Biggest blessings in having a blended family?

Definitely the “doing life together” part. I am grateful that Emily now has a sister and a brother to draw on for advice, camaraderie, and support. I think for Lukas and Ellie, having traditions and regular family time with their Dad again, is important.

7.  The biggest challenge in having a blended family?

I think for us, the biggest challenge is having our kids come and go between their parents’ houses. It’s really difficult to maintain consistency when they are only with you half or part of the time, especially if the other household isn’t cooperating or communicating with yours.  The children have to navigate through different sets of rules, expectations, etc. I have also noticed that when my husband’s children are at their mom’s house, his whole demeanor can change. He misses them and even gets slightly depressed. As his wife, this is extremely challenging and can be hard to get used to. We have my daugher more of the time, so I don’t go through these withdrawals as often.

8.  What does co-parenting look like for you?

Co-parenting is an evolving process, as your kids are constantly growing, changing, and maturing. When an issue does arise, I generally bring it to my husband’s attention first, and then we discuss a way to resolve the issue. That doesn’t always work, but that’s where we start.

9.  Any tips you can give other blended families?

The biggest, most important advice I can give other moms/stepmoms is that surrendering your “idea” of what you think a blended family “should” look like is key. For the first three to four years, I was angry and frustrated that my family wasn’t working like I thought it should.  There are so many variables in a family and having expectations that it’s all going to go as planned is setting yourself up for heartache. Second, I would highly recommend linking up with other friends that are doing “blended life” as well.  Drawing on their experiences and just having the support can make a world of difference.  Lastly, don’t lose sight of why you married your spouse. He/or she is your teammate, your ally, your greatest strength. Use each other’s talents and strengths to build your family, and focus less on the areas they lack in or are weaker. Regular/weekly date nights can be a great environment to regroup and get back on the same page. Praying together really unites a couple and helps surrender those things that are out of our control.

 

Criner Fam–Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your story with us.  

Lots of love you all!

I Still Struggle With This.

The lonely road to dropping the kids off this Christmas morning, it was a ghost town out there.

Dealing with divorce

We had an entire day planned today, but our day didn’t go as planned.

I was going to write another post today and share all of our Christmas pictures from the last few days. We did have a great Christmas this year. That changed quickly though……the one part of the divorce that I will NEVER get used to is having to share my kids during the Holidays. It’s not natural to not share these special days with the ones you love most, and who do you care for more than your children?!? I’m not saying that I don’t want my kids to be with their Dad for Christmas because that’s not it! I just don’t want to be without them! It was a long forty-five-minute drive dropping them off this morning. A little too much time to think. The kids will be with their Dad for a week. I had posted earlier about kids maybe needing time to adjust when getting home after being with their other parents, well I think I need an adjustment period when they are going to be away from me for so long.

Here are the only helpful tips I can give you if you’re going through a similar situation:
1) Give yourself a little time if you need it. Not too much time though. Your kids are alive, and this is your hang up, so you need to quickly move on.
2) After you’re done taking the time you need, keep yourself busy, busy, busy! Hang out with friends, get those extra chores around the house done, go shopping, take that yoga class. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself busy.
3) Stay positive! I was telling Jon that having to split the Holidays will have us ready for sharing Holidays when the kids are grown and they have families of their own. We’re one step ahead.  Try finding the positive in the situation no matter what it is.

That’s all I got….

Together Again

After being apart for five days, all the kids are back and up to the same old shenanigans. You never know what you’re going to get after they have been apart so many days. The first day back together can be a little nerve-racking. You don’t know what the past days have been like for the kids when they are with their other parents. You don’t know how much sleep they’ve gotten, how much activity they’ve had. Moods and emotions can be high during the adjustment period. When you get everybody back together, and all are in good spirits, it’s a relief.
Tonight was a good night. This picture is what dinner looks like at our house almost every night with all the kids.

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Lots of talk and craziness, all four kids trying to talk and get our attention all at the same time.

We try our best to eat at home and have dinner together every night. We feel it’s important to share this time each evening that we’re all together. It’s essential for us to take the time to catch up on the day and connect. The kids look forward to it, and so do we.

—>Love this. We need to buy new dining room chairs right now… instead of looking at it as a pain and expense, I need to appreciate the fact that they’ve been well used. I can’t wait to wear out the new chairs we get<—

seats

Let me make it clear that this house is nowhere near perfect, but when all four kids(two of them being pre-teens) are happy and in a good mood, it feels pretty darn close to perfect 🙂

 

Meet the Burd Family.

 

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How did you two meet and how long have you been married?
We met at church, and got to know each other better through a small group Bible Study that we both attended.

How long did you date before getting married?
We dated for almost three years before we were married.

How old are each of the children that you brought into the marriage?
When we were married, Kylie was 16, Macie was 14 (Tony’s), Jacob was 8, Korinne was 3 (Sarah’s).

Did you become an instant family?
Yes and no. The kids all knew each other pretty well, and it didn’t take us long to learn how to deal with every person’s personality quirks and such. At the same time, it was a big adjustment to pack six people into one house, especially having 4 kids sharing one bathroom!

What does discipline look like in your home?
We have both handled discipline equally, as immediately and informed as possible. We didn’t have any discipline issues with the two older girls, even through their teenage years. They were only with us every other week, and when we had them, they were very mild-mannered and calm.
With the younger two (Sarah’s), we had started dating when they were 5 years old and 9 months old, so they had pretty much accepted Tony as a father already. This made it much easier for both of us to handle the discipline for them.

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Biggest blessing in having a blended family?
The biggest blessing for us is being able to see how God can make something so amazingly beautiful out of a tragedy like divorce. After almost 10 years of marriage, we definitely feel more like a “real” family now than ever.
Also, it’s so neat to see how our kids have grown to truly appreciate each other as siblings, and as people. We live a state away from Kylie and Macie now, and when Jacob and Korinne are down visiting their dad during their vacations, they always try to find some way to see their sisters. Also, they regularly call and text each other, and usually when Jacob or Korinne need advice, they turn to either Kylie or Macie first. We love that.

The biggest challenge in having a blended family?
Dealing with all the other people in the kids’ lives that try to take on a parenting role, primarily grandparents and biological father and his wife. It seems to be a constant power struggle (especially with grandparents) to reiterate that WE are the parents, and they are not.
Also, there will always be an element of “stepparent” in our lives. There are times where we are reminded that we are not the biological parent of our spouse’s kids, and it’s almost always hurtful.

What does Coparenting look like for you?
It’s VERY different between the two of us. Tony’s ex-wife has always been an excellent coparent. She has the same moral values as we do, and she communicates well regarding the girls.
Sarah’s ex-husband is pretty much the opposite. He avoids all possible contact with her, and will not even communicate back about the children when she has initiated contact. His moral compass is nowhere near the same, to the point that he will not allow the kids to even attend church while they are in his house. He bad-mouths her and Tony, and all of her family, to the kids, as he has for years. Thankfully, we are now a state away and the children only see him on their school breaks (which they dread). When they are there for five weeks in the summer (which Jacob now refuses to stay that long), he will not allow the kids to contact anyone from Sarah’s family, even though they live close to him. It’s pretty much a nightmare.

Any tips you can give other blended families?
Rely on God, instead of people. People will always let you down to some extent, but God never will.
Have a thick skin. Don’t get offended easily. Kids are usually well-meaning, but feelings can easily get hurt unintentionally.

Anything else you want us to know about your family?
If it weren’t for God’s guidance, we wouldn’t be where we are today. He is the One who sustains and calms our chaos.

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Burd Fam-Thanks for sharing your amazing story with us!!  Your family gives all us blended families that are starting out HOPE. Very encouraging!
Much Love,
The Blended Tribe

Forgive & Move On

“Forgiveness doesn’t make them right, it makes us free.”

Forgive and move on

The quicker you can let yourself get to the point of letting go, the better off you’ll be.  It took me a bit and my biggest problem was thinking that by forgiving it meant that I was condoning or that I had given in.  Nope, not true!  It’s the most freeing thing in this world.

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