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….

Holiday Blending

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Tis the season to be jolly right?!? Not for all families! The Holiday’s can be extremely tough on blended families.

Here are some tips to get you through the Holidays:

1) Plan ahead. You know when you do and don’t have your kids. Make sure that you plan the month out and be organized and prepared.

2) Be flexible. Although you need to plan out your month according to your parenting agreement, some things just aren’t going to be at your scheduled time with the kids; this goes both ways. Try to be as flexible as possible with the kid’s other parents without messing up your schedule. Everyone has important activities that they want to do during the Holidays so keep an open mind to that.

3) Have a good attitude. Stay positive and don’t let drama get you down or ruin your mood. Focus on your family and the true meaning of Christmas.

4) Make new traditions. It’s fun to make new traditions that your blended family will come to know and appreciate. Get creative and even if some of the kids “act” like they aren’t into it, they will probably be the first ones asking to do it the next year. At least that’s what usually happens around here. Along with making new traditions make sure you respect any existing traditions that are important to the kids or your spouse.

5) Be sensitive. Realize that the kids have a lot of non-stop activity going on during this time of year. Parent’s trying to cram traditions and activities in half the time with their kids. The kids might be a little worn down and overstimulated. Try to have extra patience and understanding during this time.

 

Blended Family

 

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No Fishing Zone

 

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Fishing for information out of your kids about the other parent or what happened at the other parent’s house while they were with them is a big NO-NO!  It makes things uncomfortable for the kids, and honestly, it does YOU no good.  I”m not saying I haven’t learned this the hard way but I did figure out very early on that I don’t need to know EVERYTHING that happens when my kids aren’t with me.  It’s something that I had to come to terms with and as a mother, that’s not easy, but I now know that I’m better off for it.  All of our kids know that they can come and talk to us about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.  We are always here for them, and we will be as honest and straightforward with them as much as allowed.

A long time back, I decided that I don’t want or need to know and let me tell you, it felt so good. I know people that will social media stalk and hound their kids for any information about the other parent. If you are one of these people…..STOP right now!! Naturally, you want to make sure your children are safe and being well-cared. Keep an open and well-communicated relationship with your children and trust me, they will tell you when things aren’t right all on their own. When they do tell you things, you then have to come up with a neutral response or try to listen without forcing your opinions in on the matter. Also, please never show emails or texts between you and your ex to your children. There’s no need to put kids in the middle of grown-up situations. Their not ready to be dealing with these things and kids these days already have so much drama on their plates, they don’t need their parents/step-parents adding to that.

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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