Lucky Seven Family

New Experiences

In this day of e- and i-everything… i-phones, e-devices, etc, we really focus on getting the kids out in the world and participating in new experiences.  We are lucky to have kids that are eager travelers and typically up for trying most anything (albeit, occasionally with a massive push from one of their parents!)

This summer vacation we’ve had the amazing opportunity to visit a ranch in Montana with Russell’s family (thank you!) and the kids have enjoyed ATV riding (helmets!!), horseback riding, and the rodeo thus far.  More to come during the remainder of the trip with white water rafting, clay pigeon shooting, and Yellowstone National Park!

I hope that we are instilling in our children the love of travel and adventure and the ability to put themselves out their and try new things.

“Be Brave.  Take Risks.  Nothing Can Substitute Experience” — Paulo Coehlo

Horseback riding on Lakota

 

Happy New Year – It is almost 2018!!

So much to write about 2017! I started a new job and have not been posting as much as I’d like this year;  I’ll do a summary and share some of blended family learnings…

Here is MY 2017 top ten list of learnings about living in a blended family (yes, it has taken me +9 years to actually learn all of these!)

  1.  Choose your battles 
  2.  Lower your expectations (of the “perfect” blended family)
  3.  Focus on being GRATEFUL
  4.  Things change as the kids grow up – adjust
  5.  Make NEW traditions (see #4)
  6.  Don’t forget to focus on your marriage
  7.  Celebrate the small accomplishments and the large ones too
  8.  Build traditions that can continue for decades
  9.  Don’t force it
  10.  Recognize (and focus on!) the positive in every member of your blended family
  11. BONUS — take family photos!! (over the years you will appreciate how much everyone has grown!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM LUCKY SEVEN FAMILY!!

Grateful

It’s Christmas Eve and I am enjoying a quiet evening alone.  Yes, alone.  It sounds sad and lonesome but don’t worry about me! I’m not sad or lonesome… I am GRATEFUL!  I’ve spent the weekend in Vermont with my husband and his children; celebrating his BIRTHDAY.  We spent the day making Christmas cookies, sausage cheese balls (a Gatlin family favorite, inspired by many childhood breakfasts), and had a scrumptious meal and cherry cake to finish off the day of festivities.

My children are with their dad and his girlfriend.  My son called me to tell me he loved me.  My daughter called me to say the same.  I am GRATEFUL for an ex-husband and his girlfriend that love my children and care for them deeply.  Importantly, I am GRATEFUL that we are able to share our children’s lives in a loving and kind way without petty bickering or hateful interactions.

Tomorrow is Christmas and I will be surrounded by my family; enjoying breakfast, opening presents in front of the fire, snuggling with our pups, laughing and smiling.  Tomorrow I will be GRATEFUL for the wonderful life I have.

Tonight, I opened a GRATITUDE JAR that I started in early 2017.  We weren’t great about writing notes but there are a few that make me laugh and smile.  Here are the things LUCKYSEVENFAMILY was GRATEFUL for in 2017 (at least the ones that someone wrote down!  There are SO many more things we are GRATEFUL for every day).

GRATITUDE JAR 2017:

FOOD

I am grateful for LuckySevenFamily and all the complexity and richness of life it brings to all of us!

I am thankful for the sunshine, for my children’s laughter, for my husband’s hugs, and for great meals together

Mom

Time with my kids!

Elaina helping take care of me when I was sick

Alex:  he is tall, Mom:  that she is nice and spoils me, Russell:  he is funny and hopefully will convince mom to get ice cream

Mom:  grateful for your supporting my lavish lifestyle, Russell:  grateful for you helping me with projects, Elaina:  grateful for you to be annoying

Happy Holidays from LUCKYSEVENFAMILY!  Enjoy and be GRATEFUL!

Gap Year

I’ve been in Japan this week; honored to be invited to speak at the Japan Society of Inherited Metabolic Disorders (JSIMD).  While I was away, I talked to my daughter as many times as possible.  Let me first explain my daughter – she is a bundle of excited energy and passion – always.  She has been since joined this beautiful world.  Spunky, enthusiastic, curious…

So during one of our calls she proposed a “gap year”.  I clarified that she meant between high school and college.  She smiled at me over the Facetime connection and said “no! before high school; you are at the PEAK of your travel mom and I should join you”.

I love this child’s spirit – I have a very difficult time putting into words the love and respect I have for her… what 13 year old wants to jump on a plane to Tokyo? wants to travel to Bora Bora (much less has photos of the place on her phone!)?

Cultivation- that is my goal with my daughter.  I want to provide her every opportunity to hop on a plane and see the world; wherever she can go – whatever I can do to have her join me I will.

Not totally sure about a full gap year between middle and high school but her proposal IS an interesting one (again, what kid would think of such a thing?!)

Explore the world – see as much as you can my beautiful girl… Love, Mim

 

 

Shredder

Shredder was one of the first things we did as a blended family… OUR dog — all seven of us.  His name represents all the kids’ input — Cocoa Shredder.  Cocoa from the “little” girls, representing his chocolate color, and Shredder, a surfing/snowboarding reference from the “big” kids.  He shares both homes; spending time in Massachusetts and Vermont.  He has vacationed with us at the Outer Banks (#OBX) multiple times, although he’s terrified of the water!  On our most recent trip to OBX, we did family photos and I am SO glad we included Shredder!

We learned this past week that our sweet boy has a sarcoma.  He’s been having urinary accidents and I took him in for a complete workup.  Although he’s had little “lumps and bumps” on his body forever (representing fatty deposits that are normal); the veterinarian found a new and more concerning lump on his lower abdomen/groin.  He’s also lost about 6 pounds in 6 months – having recognized he seemed more skinny recently, I think there was some denial on my part that it meant something daunting could be facing OUR Shredder.

With our (fantastic!) veterinarian and her staff, together as #LuckySevenFamily we’ll figure out our next steps and the best path forward for OUR Shredder.  Since coming to live with us after what we think was a pretty tough life, he’s been spoiled in many ways! And as we work through his later days, we’ll continue to give him everything he needs and wants.

 

Independence Day

Celebrations

Memories

Things to hold on to

Laughter

Traditions

Balance

Considering the weekend we’ve spent in North Carolina where I grew up…

Croaker Festival – a small festival in the county I was raised in; street dance, music, parade, fish fry, ice slushies, games, fireworks.  It’s not the same festival I went to as a child and finally as the “Croaker Queen” in my senior year of high school but it has not changed drastically.  People still gather and enjoy time together; children still run around the closed off streets.  My children have been to this festival several times and enjoy the tradition.  Times change and the experiences you remember as a child may not be the same you have as an adult.  We have to set our expectations for traditions like these.

In a blended family we have traditions.  Our annual ski trip, Thanksgivings in Maui, and boating on Lake Champlain in the summer.  These are important journeys with which we identify our family.  We must be flexible in our traditions still… life will change and traditions must change with them.  We are not static beings and neither should our traditions be.

Riding Uncle Mo’s fun toys!

Happy Easter!!

It’s a gorgeous day in Massachusetts.  I have so much to be thankful for…

I woke up to my daughter taking her new puppy out at 7:30am; this puppy has definitely changed her sleeping habits.  Like a typical teenager, she used to be the kid that had to be dragged unwillingly from bed every morning; excuses galore as to why she shouldn’t have to wake up.  Now, she bounces out of bed after setting her own alarm clock – wow! what a difference a puppy makes!  It was clearly a big decision to decide we should add a puppy to our crazy, fun, blended lives but as a parent, I’ve found that the joy is seeing your children happy is one of the very best feelings I’ve ever enjoyed in life.

As the kids continue to grow and mature, they don’t always want to participate in traditions.  For example, last night, my 16yo son politely nodded off participating in dyeing Easter eggs with us.  Bitter sweet times…

My daughter, however, was a willing participant and we spent an hour together designing.  Although she’s grown out of the actual hunting of Easter eggs, it was a tradition I hope we can maintain as she gets older.  These seemingly “little” things that tie us together.  These things that make us smile.

Happy Easter everyone!  Enjoy every minute! Gratitude!

 

 

Taking over Instagram @nobullshitmotherhood!!

St. Patrick’s Day!  @LuckySevenFamily is taking over the @nobullshitmotherhood Instagram page!

We’ll be sharing our @JayPeak ski trip weekend; giving you the dirt on being a #blendedfamily and specifically, a #mom and #stepmom!

Mothering without a Mother…

“And yet my identity… exists in a complex matrix of inter-generational love and loss, colored by what I remember of my own mother’s life and death, and complicated by the survival techniques I relied on afterward to manage on my own.  My relentless self-sufficiency, my fear of dying young, my love of all things predictable and safe…”

This passage is taken from Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Mothers (Edelman, Hope.  Motherless Mothers.Harper, 2006).

I have had this book on my nightstand for months.  I finally opened it today; not sure I was ready to face what she had to say about raising children as a mother without a mother.   Having read her first book, Motherless Daughters, I knew her words would resonate with me, some soothing my mind and others raising doubts and fears that perhaps my parenting has been adversely impacted by my loss.

Christmas Plans – Part 2

In my last post I shared how my ex- and I manage Christmas holidays…

Now, for Russell and his kids:

Russell and his ex-wife have a very set schedule that we rarely sway from.  They alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day every year with the following schedule:

Christmas Eve 5pm to noon on Christmas day (Parent #1)

Christmas Day noon to 8am the following day (Parent #2)

The week b/w Christmas and New Year’s (Parent #1)

Santa visits each home separately and there is very little, if any, coordination of gift planning.  Even with that, there are usually not too many duplicate gifts to deal with so that is helpful!  Russell plans a decadent Christmas meal each year and either has that for Christmas Eve dinner or for Christmas Day dinner.  One year dinner was lobster and steak – talk about yummy!  His brussel sprouts are to die for too!

Dedicated Dad:

His children participate in a church nativity scene each year on Christmas Eve and being the dedicated dad that he is, he always attends their play whether he has them for Christmas Eve or not.

Couple’s Christmas:

So, when do Russell and I exchange gifts and celebrate our Christmas together?  Based upon the different schedules we usually either have a little quiet time together on Christmas Eve or late on Christmas night.  Our first focus is on our children and families; whether that means we are separate with them or we are all together as LUCKY SEVEN FAMILY.  Regardless, we always find time to enjoy an hour or two of quiet time and celebrate together.

Lessons Learned:

Over the years, I’ve realized that putting pressure on ourselves to make our crazy lives “perfect” is NOT the goal.  Happiness and contentment is the goal; for us and for our children.  Thus, no matter when it is that we can bake cookies, open gifts, share a Christmas meal, we always make sure that everyone in LUCKY SEVEN FAMILY knows that our Christmas is about fun, love and gratitude.  It may take some extra planning but in the end we are building a strong family with ties that will last for many, many years.

It’s late, but Happy Holidays to all of you!! Hoping our experiences help you in making your experience positive ones!