Lucky Seven Family

Traveling – Give Kids Ownership of the Trip

In my last post, I summarized our LuckySevenFamily tips for traveling with a blended family (or any group of kids really!).

Today’s post focuses on Tip #1:  Give Kids Ownership of the Trip

We assigned each child a city where we would travel – 5 kids, 5 cities:  Paris, Nice, Florence, Venice and Rome.  Each spent some time before the trip reading about their respective cities, identifying places in the city they would like to visit, recommending restaurants that we should try, and providing historical tidbits they learned.

We also had the kids participate in navigation throughout our trip.  Figuring out how to buy a Metro ticket, determining which train we should hop on based upon the directional maps available, and navigating the train stations to understand what track (binario in Italian) we should go to for our train between Paris and Nice.

These skills not only provide me the reassurance that when the first child asks to spend a year abroad or study abroad for a summer they will know some basics.  These skills grow the kids’ confidence in their abilities, expand their minds by providing a new challenge, and develop their maturity to use teamwork to solve issues.

Our trip to Europe was a fantastic growth opportunity for all!


Travel with Blended Families

So hoping this is true!!


Traveling with Teens and Tweens

Five energetic and opinionated kids, two highly motivated parents, seven suitcases stuffed full with two weeks worth of clothes and shoes and backpacks for all on a two week trip to France and Italy.  This summer, Lucky Seven Family spent the longest consecutive time together in all of our seven years!! We traveled on planes, trains and in automobiles to Paris, Nice, Tuscany and Rome.  And… it was AMAZING!!

What are Lucky Seven Family’s travel tips for making a blended family vacation with five teens and tweens a success?

  1.  Give kids ownership of the trip — involve them in the planning.  Have them identify places they would like to visit, learn and share historical tidbits, and find typical foods of the region to sample
  2.  Strike a balance between activities and downtime — tired teens and parents are not a good mix! Sleep in, allow for changes in the itinerary, and individual re-fueling time (books, electronic games)
  3.  Be prepared to split up — everyone has different interests… take advantage of this and separate occasionally.  This allows for the kids to have a break from one another and an added benefit is growth in parent/step-parent relationships with the kids
  4.   Stay fueled up — hotels in Europe often have free breakfast included; take advantage of an early morning meal to energize the day and the other bonus is it is one meal you don’t have to walk to or pay for!
  5.   Pack water bottles —  Italy is HOT! in July — each day we filled reusable water bottles and carried them in a shared backpack and re-filled throughout the day
  6.   Relax! Smile, laugh, and enjoy — be silly, dance, do cartwheels, make jokes — release the expectations and adopt some of the kids’ silly sayings and behaviors.  Appreciate every moment of the trip as a learning experience for all!




We recently traveled for 2 weeks in France and Italy with Lucky Seven Family.  This was the longest we had all spent together on any vacation given our creative way of living in two cities (Burlington, VT and Reading, MA).

I’ll be writing about our adventures over the next few weeks/months as we had so many great experiences and learnings!

Here’s a sneak peek of our dinner at Giarrosti Fiorentino in Rome, Italy – a favorite restaurant of mine that I enjoyed sharing with Lucky Seven Family!

cropped Giarrosti family photo

Our first stop… Paris!

paris quote

More Travel Tips! Realistic Expectations

The entire Lucky Seven Family is excited for our trip to Europe! Our packing lists are complete and we are furiously reading our travel books!

We are going to be together for 2 weeks — together, together! On the plane (6+ hours!), in hotels, on the train and in a packed mini-van.  In our “normal” lives, at any one time we don’t spend more than about 3 days together, mostly weekends.  The kids are fantastic together but it will be an adjustment for them to be in tight quarters (European hotels are not known for their size!) for this period of time.

In anticipation of everyone needing some time apart, Russell and I are already planning some separate trips with various “kid combos”.  We will spend some time with our own children and other times we will split up based on interests (the one I’m most excited about? shopping with the girls!!).

Setting realistic expectations for the trip and for our family will allow us “permission” to do what we know is best for Lucky Seven Family.  Sometimes our vision of the perfect blended family leads to unrealistic expectations – we will allow ourselves to do what works for our family and savor every moment of the journey!

Sticking with the TRAVEL theme this week!!

Hoping our children learn from our travels… taking chances is important!!



We have a great trip for LuckySevenFamily planned this summer!  Getting so excited for the trip!

To engage our kids in the planning, we’ve given each of them a destination city to investigate and make a list of places they’d like to go in that city.  For example, a cafe, a chocolatier, a museum, or some other tourist attraction.  Recently, I worked on this with our youngest.  We used YouTube and found lots of cool videos about her city!  She enjoyed watching the videos more than reading websites and it definitely kept her engaged longer!

Can’t wait for a great trip!!

Lead by Example

Last weekend, on a cold and raw New England spring day, Russell and I were driving with my two children to my daughter, Elaina’s, lacrosse game.  My blonde, blue-eyed girl is the talkative one; the one that can’t keep secrets (for which I’m grateful!).  As we are driving down the interstate, she starts to recount a story about when we were in Santa Barbara recently with the entire clan (Lucky Seven Family – Russell and his 3 kids, me and my 2 kids).  She is very detailed in her story-telling; chattering away from the backseat about our recent spring break trip to sunny, relaxing Santa Barbara.  She starts to tell us about a conversation she had with her step-sister, Alida (Russell’s oldest daughter).  “We were talking about how Alida “sighs” at everything”, she says.  The “sigh” – everyone in Lucky Seven Family chuckles at her trademark mechanism for signifying to anyone who is nearby her disdain for the current situation or often, request made of her.  Elaina continues telling the story:  yeah, and Alida said, “what’s funny about Nerissa (me, her stepmom), getting frustrated with me for sighing is that she does it too!”

Silence – my mouth may have fallen open…

Wait a second…Pause please… while I recover from the gut-punch!!

Reality sets in…over the last week I’ve really been thinking about how we as parents and step-parents are teaching every day.  Our children and step-children are modeling our behavior; they are our mirrors.  They are acutely aware of us whether we realize it or not.

My lesson learned is to LEAD BY EXAMPLE.  Exhibit the behavior I want to see in my children and step-children.  Praise them for accomplishments and effort.  Praise them for helping without being asked.  Don’t focus on the negative behavior only.  Ignore some of the sighs and be aware of my own.

Blending a family comes with challenges, but also many opportunities to learn about yourself and your loved ones.  Try every day to see your blended family as an opportunity to LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

lead by example2


Splitting Up

Didn’t mean to alarm you with the title of today’s Tuesday Tip!

I certainly don’t mean splitting up for forever; what I’m referring to is splitting up for the good of the blended family children and also for the sanity of blended family parents.  Spending time together as a blended family is important and helps build ever-lasting bonds; however, there are times that kids need a break from one another.  When we travel together or when we spend our weekends together, Russell and I will often split up and each take 2 or 3 of the kids to do different activities depending on their interests.  Sometimes we split up by biological kids, sometimes by girls or boys, sometimes by older and younger.   We also try to mix up the grouping of which parent with which group of kids so we both get experiences with all of them.  I might take the younger girls to the pool while Russell and the older kids play basketball.  Russell might take the boys to play golf and I make take the girls on a shopping spree.  By doing this, we give our family increased exposure to activities they enjoy and everyone gains by having more, focused time with one another.

All together time is important too; kids have to learn to compromise and make trade-offs.  By using the technique of splitting up you are helping to balance their need for individuality and attention while still building your family’s ever-growing love and respect for one another.