The Blended Tribe

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.

First Family Trip of 2018.

Knott's Berry Farm

We were given Season Passes to Knott’s Berry Farm at Christmas time and since the kids are out of school, what better time to take advantage of our passes.  We took a day trip yesterday, and it was a huge success!  The kids had a great time, and us parents had a blast. Being around crowds isn’t as easy for me as it used to be.  Disneyland makes me want to lose my mind.  Knott’s is a lot less crowded, and the rides aren’t as babyish in my opinion.  It’s something different, and I’m really looking forward to going back with the kids and staying the night next time.

Here are some tips and tricks we did to get us through our day trip to Knott’s Berry Farm.

1)  My kids are used to road trips and traveling since they had to do it a ridiculous amount when they were younger.  They travel well, but we have a setup and a routine.  We pack them little caddies with all their snacks and drinks for the car ride.  We have a trash can (cereal container) in the back where all the trash goes so were not cleaning it up for days afterward.  The only time the kids are allowed to eat in our car is during road trips.  These caddies prevent the continual asking for food.  They know what they have in there, and that’s what they can have.

2)  We bought each kid a day pass souvenir cup that they can use all day to keep refilling their drinks.  I believe these were $10.99 each.  They can use these cups all of 2018, and it’s only $1.00 a refill each time.

3)  We bought three all-day dining plans for $31.99 each.  You get a wristband that you can use to order food every 90 minutes.  We got our monies worth out of this!!  With four kids that like to eat nonstop, they are always hungry, and the portion sizes are so big that it was plenty of food for all of us.  Not one of the kids or us went hungry yesterday.   The food wasn’t that great (the kids loved it) and having to wait in line for the food felt like a waste of time because we would rather be going on the rides.  Knott’s lets you bring food in, so I think next time we will pack our backpacks full of food that we can eat while waiting in line for rides.  Bringing our food will be a much healthier and more time efficient option for us.  We can then plan on having a good dinner somewhere and spend around the same amount as we did for all the wristbands.

4)  The last tip…if you ever go at Christmas time, you have to go see “MERRY CHRISTMAS, SNOOPY” on Ice!!  It was amazing, and we all really enjoyed it.  From it “snowing” inside to the performers, it was a must-see show.

That’s all the tips I have for now.  I’m sure there will be more after our next visit.  I will keep you updated.  Here are some pictures from our day.

 

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!

Merry Christmas!!

 

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We’ve had a great Christmas so far. The last four days have been full of festivities. We’ve celebrated a Birthday, went Christmas light browsing, a couple of game nights and stayed in our PJ’s all day on Saturday enjoying our gifts. We celebrated our Christmas with my side of the family on Saturday, and then last night we celebrated with my in-laws. We drop off two of the kids at eight this morning and drop the other two off at noon. Since we already did our Christmas, I felt that this morning would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the real reason for the season….JESUS!! Kids each have a new Bible sitting under the tree, we decorated with balloons and made a special cake in His honor. I figure they will be celebrating the rest of the day with presents, so let’s start this day off right with what matters most.  Merry Christmas everybody!! I will be posting lots of pics and a post later on today.  We are going to go wake up the kids…….

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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<—

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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 🙂

 

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name??  Apparently, to my kid’s everything is in a name! When Jon and I decided to get married, I had to have the last name talk with my two kids. I told them that I would be taking Jon’s last name and it was a talk that ended in tears and confusion for them. They wanted to know why and they didn’t like the fact that I wouldn’t have the same last name as them anymore and if they could change their name too. Personally, I couldn’t wait to drop my ex-husband’s name, but when I witnessed my kids response to changing it, it broke my heart.
Jon and I went to get our marriage license, and at that point, I was still on the fence about what I should do. Together, we made the decision right then to hyphenate my name for the time being. The kids were so happy to know that I had both names of the two different families that lived in our house.
Where I’m at now:
I’m glad that I was able to make the kids happy with my decision of hyphenating, but my God it’s been a pain in the butt! It’s ended up being a little confusing. My work email and name has to stay as it was because I didn’t technically change my name. At work, I go by the old last name, but in the world, I try to go by my new last name. It’s hard to keep up with that sometimes though. As soon as I get the chance, I’m going to make the change and drop the hyphen. I will for sure talk with the kids again before I do it, but I know that they are at a better and stronger place now to handle it differently.
I will let you know how this goes……

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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.

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