Lucky Seven Family

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Nerissa’s 100th Birthday Celebration

Locanda Cugnanello, Tuscany, Italy — Sunrise

cugnanello-sunset

I just spent a week in Tuscany with Jen Pastiloff at a Manifestation retreat.  Jen is a yogi and beauty hunter (www.jenniferpastiloff.com).  Her retreats are so much more than yoga; they are about creating magic.  Mixing yoga moves in with writing prompts, Jen gently guides us to become vulnerable and release the deep fears, shame, or hatred for ourselves that we carry.  I have attended three of her retreats and they are all different depending on the location, the attendees, and most importantly where your heart and mind are in that time of your life.

Our location in Tuscany was full of ever-changing colors and light.  We were housed in a magnificently renovated farmhouse and nourished by loving staff with Tuscan recipes – fresh-baked croissants filled with homemade marmalade, Tuscan bean soup, focaccia, house-made pasta with fresh porcini mushrooms (“giggle food” as my husband and I refer to it).

To celebrate our time together, the last writing assignment was to “describe your own 100th birthday party celebration:  the location, the party theme, and a speech or toast as well as who speaks to you”.  Each of us stood in the waning light of the day, outside Locanda Cugnanello, and read our tale to all of our new found loves.

We are in Corolla, one of the towns in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It is October and the night sky comes early in the evening.  The days remain warmly bathed in sunshine and the evenings provide a crisp, clean breeze on our skin.  We’ve gathered at our beach home where we have spent more than 55 years together; celebrating summer vacations, New Year’s Eve, and countless other special days.  Nerissa is surrounded by her 5 children; 2 biological and 3 from her marriage to Russell.  They have all married and have children of their own.  There are also 2 great-grandchildren that run from the house to the ocean to splash in the waves. 

Gathered on the top deck of the house; always Nerissa’s favorite place to read and relish her coffee in the morning and a glass of Vernaccio rosé in the evening.  The celebration starts with a Prosecco and a toast given by the five children:

Alida (Nerissa’s oldest step-daughter):  Nerissa, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, (laughing) probably because we are both so strong-minded; please know that I love and appreciate everything you taught me about life.

Alex (Nerissa’s oldest child):  Mom, thank you for always believing in me and helping me find a way to follow my passions.

Sam (Nerissa’s step-son):  Thank you for taking interest in me and listening to me.  

Elaina (Nerissa’s daughter; named after Nerissa’s mother Elaine):  You have lived a full life Mim (Elaina’s name for Nerissa since she was 10 years old)! You’ve shared all of yourself and also your mother with us; her snickerdoodle tradition at Christmas will always be carried on.

Cassie (Nerissa’s youngest step-daughter):  Thank you for helping me balance my world by adding a feminine touch to everything, yet always making sure you taught us girls we could do anything.

THANK YOU FOR 100 YEARS OF YOU!! WE LOVE YOU!

100th-bday

 

Tuesday Tip #23: Screen Time

Limiting screen time is no new topic for families.  For our blended family, screen time can consume us!  With iPods, iPhones, Kindles, Samsung tablets, and iPads we find ourselves with five kids that are totally consumed with games, texting and Instagram.  Given we only spend weekends, holidays and vacations together, our time as a family is limited.  We’ve decided to limit electronics on vacations to specific periods that coincide with some much needed “down-time”.  Early mornings can be a difficult time for our blended family; two boys that wake up with the sunrise, stomp around, and try to wake the entire household versus two little night owls that prefer to sleep in after a late night of reading make striking a morning balance difficult.  Limited screen time in the early morning allows for the early birds to watch lax videos or play games quietly while giving the sleepy heads an extra hour of rest.  We’ve also decided to “collect” the electronics in a central, adult-controlled location so that the kids aren’t tempted by their electronics at every turn.  This approach gives us controlled quiet time while still allowing for plenty of time for important family discussions and interactions!

I would love to hear how other blended families deal with screen time – give us your input today!

Blended Families: Reading is Important!

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world”  — Napoleon

In our modern, blended family, everyone has a book for our family trips!

Tuesday Tip #16: Blended Family Breaks

It’s Spring Break in our blended family world!  Spring Break usually means separate vacations for our blended family.  Given that we live in different states, our children’s school breaks are usually separated by one week, making planning a trip together impossible.  For our relationship, time away from one another is tough – we only see each other on weekends; those weekends are precious time, of which we are very protective.  Truthfully, it is always difficult for me to see Russell leave for a week or 10 days away, usually to California to visit his mother and friends.  Admittedly, my sadness is selfish.  I recognize and admit this.  I also know that our time spent individually with our respective children is very important.  A blended family requires embracing the core relationship between each parent and their biological children; this is what helps me get through his VT Spring break and I know it is what helps him get through my MA Spring break.  The time away helps us grow the relationships with our children, strengthening the core that supports our ability to be a successful blended family.  So, I will embrace the time away and focus on enjoying the precious time with my two children while I celebrate Russell having time with his three.  Soon, we will be back together:  Lucky Seven Family!