All in Step-kids

Our Christmas holiday has been a little upside down and every which way this year. We haven't quite got our groove with the new reality - one home from College determining his own schedule, one almost ready to leave the nest and our youngest - 14- still needing and wanting structure in a Holiday schedule. 

In years past, the schedule simply rotated from year to year  -  one family spent the week before Christmas through Christmas Day at two o'clock with the kids - the other family spent Christmas Day through New Years Day.  No negotiation, that was just the deal we had all agreed too.  Parents and kids looked forward to essentially a Holiday break from the divorce schedule. 

This year when we acknowledged Jax"s freedom to make his own schedule as an "adult" we indirectly gave that freedom to Little Hart 14.

Jax arrived home for Christmas Break 11 days ago.  So far, Jax has been strong and confident about where and how he is going to spend his time.  A 360 degree turn from the Thanksgiving Break. Long story short, Jax tried to please everyone, but himself. Doing the bulk of what others wanted and very little of what he wanted. He was frazzled and anxious by the time Sunday rolled around.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, Jax arrived at our house - twenty minutes before he had to leave for the airport. He took a quick shower - finished packing - leaving just a handful of minutes. Jax spent them sharing the latest sports news with Raylan.  As Jax left he looked at Raylan "Dad, I can't wait to watch a football game with you in the same room!" The door closed and he was gone.

Jax determining HIS own schedule was bound to come with some growing pains. 

Last night I came across a People article on the wedding of Eva Amurri daughter of Susan Sarandon and Franco Amurri.  The picture was of Eva's Ex Step Father Tim Robbins and Mother Susan Sarandon walking her down the aisle.  The article acknowledged that her Father was present at the ceremony, but her Mother and Step Father were the hosts of the wedding event.  As you may know, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon split up three years ago after spending twenty two years together.

Eva Amurri with Step Dad and Mom.What struck me about the whole scenario was the happiness on Eva's face as she walked with her arms intertwined with Tim and Susan down the aisle.  Although her "parents" had parted ways, Eva acknowledged how important her Step Father was in her life by his intimate involvement in the ceremony and celebration.

Happy Halloween! If your blended family is anything like ours you've probably wondered why Halloween can end up being more emotionally charged than any other holiday.  I've come to the conclusion that it has more to do with kids growing up than the actual holiday.


Kids grow up so fast and there's a very tiny window that they love to dress up and you get to be apart of the process as a parent - split that time in half - it's a handful of years.  

My youngest, Little Hart is going through the the Terrible Teens.  Not the Terrible Twos - the Terrible Teens - she's 14.  Every question is answered with "What Do You Think?" in the most snarky tone she can muster.  Usually I have to go to my Happy Place to stop myself from snapping and responding with what I really want to say or strangling her.

Wish I could blame this whole thing on the Step Mom - Step Daughter relationship, but my own daughter let me know how stupid I was a number of years ago.

Today is Step Family Day and like most of the blended family "celebration days," I'm just figuring out they existed after being in one for twelve years.  I probably would have let this one pass had I not tuned into the Dr. Laura Berman radio show yesterday on my drive home. Dr. Berman mentioned that Step Family Day was Friday - wanted to know how people felt positive or negative.  

Granted I didn't listen to the entire show, but it did seem like the majority of the comments were weighted to the down side of being in a blended family.  Something that is really easy to do - having done it myself for years! As I was listening to one woman in particular go on for what seemed like an eternity about her step kids; how much she did for them, how glad she was to have a break - I found myself identifying with the woman. I've had those days myself. 

Finally, Dr. Berman responded, suggesting a multitude of things to the woman. What resonated with me was her suggestion that perhaps part of the woman's frustration in dealing with her step kids, may be less about her step kids and more about them being, well......KIDS! There's a lightening bolt!  Dr. Berman went on to say sometimes after a weekend with her OWN kids, she kisses the floor when she gets to work Monday morning.  

Jax's first day of dorm life was a lot like his first day of preschool. The door to his room had two paper basketball jerseys taped to the door - one with Jax's name and the other - Drew - his roommate.  Ahh! So cute! We all had the same butterflies, emotions about leaving our baby for the first time only this time around we wouldn't be picking him up in four hours - it would be four years!

All five of us followed him into his dorm room, his roommate had yet to arrive. We filled up the entire room.  All of his stuff is neatly stacked thanks to the awesome guys that unloaded our car and delivered it to his room. We quickly make a list of things we still need to purchase. We all offer one by one to make his bed, put clothes away - Jax refuses any help.  Wants to do it himself! A shock to Greta and me since he's never done either in 18 years.  Just sayin!

I celebrated my 45th birthday on Wednesday - birthday number 12 as a Step Mom! Yikes on both accounts.

Lisa's 45th Birdthday - Opening Gifts


Can't believe - I'm well - that old AND I've made it 12 years as a Step Mom. There were a lot of times I wondered if I would make it to 6 years let alone 12.

Being a Step Mom this birthday seemed even more relevant than any other so far. My Step Son Jax was packing up his things to leave for College in another state. He's lived half of his life in our home, he is our son, a member of our family. Most of the day was spent doing last minute laundry, picking up the things we forgot, organizing everything and ultimately packing up the part of this life he wants to take to his new one waiting in another state.


Raylan and the kids took me to my favorite restaurant but more importantly "our" family favorite restaurant that we frequent for most of our special occasions. I realized as we all piled into the car and headed for the restaurant it would be our last meal as a Party of 5.

RESPECT THE BUBBLE a phrase my brother created a number of years ago when someone was invading his personal space, namely my kids!  A kind way of saying - back the hell away - respect my personal space.  My kids of course fell in LOVE with the phrase, using it often.  Sometimes with complete seriousness and other times with alot of laughter. The phrase belonged to my kids until last week.

THE BUBBLELittle Hart mentioned her Mom (Greta) was coming by to pick her up for a few hours.  Typically that means, Greta text messages Little Hart when she arrives, asking her to come out to the car.  On rare occasions when she comes to the door, we invite Greta into our home while she waits for Little Hart.

On that particular evening, Raylan and I were sitting side by side in "our" spot aptly named the love seat.  My legs were draped across  Raylan, me and the girls were gathered round watching the bat video.  Yes the bat video! Raylan had extracted the creature from our sun shade on the back of the house a few minutes earlier.  All four of us were laughing hysterically, reliving the horrifying bat extraction when the doorbell rang - it was Greta.

It's road trip day with my two favorite chickee's - Elle and Little Hart. We're leaving the boys behind! 


Road Trip with the Girls

Our girls trips and boys trips have been a part of our family life almost since it's inception. The girls love to shop, shop and then shop some more - 11 hours is our record so far! The boys love watching every kind of sporting event under the sun. There is no sport they won't watch! On our family trips we try to get a good mix of what the girls and boys enjoy doing, but sometimes it's just fun to do what you enjoy doing all day and night long without feeling like the other half would rather shoot themselves. Thus, the separate trips.

Twelve years into our blended family - the trips are officially a Hartman Family tradition. A tradition that all the kids look forward to doing and talking about for years later. As you know, Elle is my daughter and Little Hart my step-daughter. The girls trips have really gone a long way in creating and cementing the bond between Elle and Little Hart, my relationship with Little Hart and the relationship between Mom and daughters. I really credit the trips for making our family closer as a whole closer.

Planning and actually going on the the Girls trips has taken coordination with the other families over the years, but a extra wrinkle has been that Little Hart is my step-daughter. Although I have always considered her my daughter, it's times like these that I'm reminded that I'm not in control of whether Little Hart can go on these trips. Raylan and Greta are.


Jax asked if he could make me lunch. Yes! A welcome surprise.  Once the grilled cheese sandwiches were cooking on the grill, Jax came into the living room - big smile on his face. "Um- other than Sadie biting the noodles - what do think about her?"

The Floaty Thingys!Little background. Sadie(his girlfriend) had come over to swim a few times and had successfully bit off big chunks out of the majority of the noodles(floaty thingys). They're only a $1.69 a piece, but it's disgusting to be using a noodle that someone has been chewing on. Eeeew!

Now if we had been close like Little Hart and I have been for the past 12 years this would seem like just a normal thing to have happen.  Unfortunately we haven't been close even though Jax was only six when we created our blended family.

Jax is Greta's first born and they have always been extremely close.  She hadn't been happy about Raylan and I dating and even less so about us moving in together. Greta had moments of anger/sadness about our relationship that often times were expressed in front of Jax.  

The first week in our new home, Jax came racing down the stairs, lost his footing and slide down the last four steps. Major carpet burn!  I raced over to him "Let me look at it - I'll get you all fixed up!" Jax looked up "My Mom says only her and my Dad can take care of me!" Then he ran off.  Whether Greta actually said that or not was a mute point. Jax felt the pressure to keep me at arms length. I had to accept the reality of our relationship, even though it broke my heart. 

For years we really didn't have a relationship beyond our family unit.  We had our issues - mundane, run of the mill stuff.  Yet they always turned into big deals and were exacerbated by my Hubby coming to the rescue of Jax which only furthered the distance between us.

Six years ago my relationship with Jax came to a crossroads.  Jax was having some issues.  Raylan, Jax and I sat down to have a talk about life.  Raylan asked Jax what was going on with him, he replied "I hate my life and it's all Lisa's fault!" He was blaming me for all the wrongs in his life?  Not totally surprising given that Greta always expressed her anger toward me, rarely Raylan regardless of the problem.

Tidbit Tuesday is a forum where I can talk about the things I'm hearing and seeing out in the real world.

Opening night of the Evo Conference there were a number of speakers sharing their personal stories to inspire the audience.  The last speaker was a gentleman I'll call Mike.  Mike started talking about a woman I'll call Kim, initially I  thought she was his wife.  Slides were flashing on the big screen of Kim in her role as a mother, business owner. Mike was talking about how much he respected her and his learning curve in becoming a supportive partner to Kim.  As the speech progressed I gleamed from his phrasing that Mike and Kim were not married.  

Without warning, a slide popped up on the big screen: "Will you marry me?" Simultaneously, Mike said something along the lines what do you when you love a woman this wonderful - "Ask her to marry you!"  Kim was down in the audience, he on stage.  Silence from her!  Mike walked down to Kim's table, knelt down on one knee and asked her to marry him again. Silence from Kim.