Tag Archives: multigenerational

Pre-marriage therapy

Love is in the air, folks.

I had the chance to meet up with a long-time friend on a quick trip to Colorado. She was sharing the family joy about her niece’s upcoming wedding and all the fun, special, and multigenerational planning that was going into this event.

This morning I was talking with another friend who passed along the cheerful news of mutual friend’s engagement. We chatted about how great it was this mutual friend is really marrying the man of her dreams.


Last night I was cleaning off the DVR and perusing the April/May 2013 issue of Brides magazine (Yes, I subscribe. Judge me!) when I came across episode 9 of Shahs of Sunset. Yes, I know I’m on the late show with this episode – but hey, I know I’m not the only one who gets behind on DVR recordings.

Other than the chaos, yelling, knife wielding, and overspending of the Shah’s cast –this episode caused me to pause and make a connection with the therapy session between MJ and her mother.


The therapist offered both women clipboards with the prompts:

  • For my mother I want…
  • For my daughter want…

Each woman was allowed a few minutes to write some things down and then they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. The therapist does a great job, in my opinion, of helping both women understand how they are clinging to the past. They both need to update their relationship, learn who each other is right now, and recommit to having a loving and understanding relationship.

This seems like a simple activity, but if each person is open and honest, the impact can be very powerful.

An exercise like this would be a powerful opener for a bride or groom-to-be to have with their future in-laws and I’m thinking about adding it to my multigenerational boot camp series.

I would change the prompts up a bit:

  • For my son/daughter’s healthy marriage I want:
  • To support my son-in-law/daughter-in-law I will:
  • For a thriving relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I want:
  • For an authentic relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I will:

After a rich and deep discussion, it would be great if a visualization board contract could be created. Our society is big on words and how things can or should look – but I think creating a visualization board contract would create more room and space for the *in-laws to be thoughtful and mindful about the relationship they are entering into and how they will stay focused on what they’ve all committed to do.

The visualization board contract can capture feelings, ideas, thoughts, emotions, and moods that each in-law wants to tap into as they enter into this multigenerational relationship (aka – marriage). The board can leave room for the in-laws to continue to learn more about each other and the various ways they want to explore this. Assumptions can potentially fall away. The board can also highlight necessary boundaries they will also support this in-law relationship.

As you entered into your marriage/relationship, what steps did you take to build an authentic relationship with your in-laws?

When you became a mother-in-law/father-in-law, what proactive measures did you take to support your son/daughter’s marriage (or partnership)?


*in-law relationships with siblings could also be included


Woman Gives Birth to Her Grandson

What did you think when saw the title of this blog post?

Yes, sounds like a headline from an unreliable tabloid magazine, right?

When Lara Spencer announced this story on Good Morning America, my head whipped around so fast – I scared myself a little.

I sat in awe and was overwhelmed with gratitude, joy, and amazement – at these two women, a mother and daughter, who worked together to bring a son – a grandson – in the world.

Talk about co-creating!

I listened to Sara Connell (35) and Kristine Casey (61) talk about this journey to motherhood and grandmotherhood in an intimate and determined way that suggested infertility was not a challenge Sara would go through alone – the entire family was onboard, supporting and involved.

I reveled at the openness, expressed by both women, on the necessity of sacrifice to bring Finn into the world. This included setting up a multigenerational household and all the medical treatment.

I cannot wait to read this book and learn more about this journey.  (Book excerpt)

What do you think about this? Could you, as a grandmother, be a gestational carrier for your son or daughter – if they needed you? Would you (adult children) be able to ask your mother, to be a gestational carrier if you were challenged by infertility?


Photos: gma.yahoo.com

Will my kids need therapy?

People often comment on how well-functioning we seem as a multigenerational family and how sweet and well behaved my kids are.

My response… Thank you! I’m a perfect mother.

Ha! Just joking.

If nothing else, being a practical minded person is what I have on my side. I mean, really, it’s all I’ve got.


My 4-year-old (who will be five shortly) did not want to go to the grocery store with my mother-in-law. He just wasn’t interested. Since I was working at home, he thought he could stay and hang out with me.


I was working and my mother-in-law was in granny nanny let’s get something for dinner mode.

My son was immediately upset and I could see he was going to throw a tantrum. I looked directly at him and said, “Grandma is on a schedule and so am I. How about I set the timer on my phone for two minutes – you fall apart – and then you go to the grocery store with grandma? And, if you keep the tantrum down to two minutes, I’m sure grandma will buy a donut for you.

He agreed.

Tantrum transpired – 1 minute and 46 seconds.

Grocery shopping was completed.

Donut was consumed.

I’m not sure if this technique would make it into any perfecting parenting handbook, but that’s just how I roll.

And…later that same day, I ran into some website glitches and immediately became frustrated and upset. I was going to push through it and be grumpy – but I allowed myself a 2 minute tantrum (lying on the bed and kicking my feet), and damn, it felt GREAT!

Will my kids need therapy later on in life? Probably so.

Here are the top issues and things I think my kids’ therapists will hear:

My friends and I got together and they were talking about their baby books. I didn’t know anything about that. I thought it was customary to have your formative years documented on a blog. No?

People tell me I’m confused when I tell them senior citizen is a bad word. When I was growing up, saying senior citizen was equivalent to dropping the F bomb!

My parents were really strict about our bedtime – and I thought this was for my growth and development. Now I’m realizing 8:00/8:30pm was the time my grandmother went to bed, too.

I thought my after-school activities were about exposing me to broader things.  I now think my mom signed us up for after-school activities so my grandmother and I could be out of the house.

I loved taking summer trips to Minnesota with my grandmother – but now I understand this annual trip was really about my parents having “kid free” summer camp!

I know the big calendar in our kitchen kept our multigenerational family on track – but as an adult, I break out into hives when anyone says, “Is it on the calendar?!”

My grandmother always asked, “Who put a nickel in you?, when we were full of energy. When I say that now, people ask, “What’s a nickel?”

My partner/spouse thinks I’m silly for ringing the triangle when it’s time to eat. Isn’t this a universal practice?

I still don’t know the different between supper and dinner. Help!

Is it odd I consider myself a grandmother whisperer?

 As a parent or grandparent – on what topics do you think your kids/grandkids will need therapy, and why?


National Stepfamily Day {guest post}

A glimpse into the life of a multigenerational and blended family.

1 Baby Boomer, 2 Generation Xers, 1 Millennial, 1 Generation Z

stepmother [ˈstɛpˌmʌðə] n: a woman who has married one’s father after the death or divorce of one’s mother

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003


August 1999, I officially took on this new title and role as “Stepmother”. My stepchildren were young adults, 18 and 22, and I was a young 27 year old bride.

When I think back, I remember telling my college roommates that I would never date, let alone, marry some one with this type of baggage!  But somehow I found myself dating my distinguished husband for four years clearly aware of what was waiting for me in this new life! Most people would have probably run, if not sprinted, away from a situation like this. But, in hindsight, while it had its challenges it was satisfying and rewarding.  I’m talking about my relationship with my stepchildren. It was easy for us to get along, I believe, because I could relate to them and what they were going through at this stage of their lives.  Also, I never tried to take on the role of their mother.

I must give some credit to my husband and my stepchildren.  I’m sure it was difficult for them to accept me into their family, too. As young adults growing up with their father not only dating, but a much younger women at the time must have taken a lot of maturity.  A lot nosy people would ask questions about how we all got along. We could honestly answer fine! I know that was not the answer that they were expecting but it was the truth.  Over the years, both of my stepchildren have shared their stories, thoughts, and jokes about our relationship and our family.

So let’s fast forward to September 2011, our Stepfamily is truly a Blended Family, now!  My husband and I had a beautiful little girl two years ago and her big brother and sister truly adore her!  With that my daughter and I are in the planning stages for a baby shower for her big sister!

So take a brief moment to envision this family portrait – my distinguished husband; me the young wife; my stepson and his wife; my stepdaughter (expecting in November) and her husband;, and our little girl!  So over the last past 12 years we have cried, laughed, lived and loved as one family!  We’ve never considered anything about our relationship as a “step” anything!

Happy National Stepfamily Day!

-Lora, a (Step)Mother


Lora lives in Illinois and is a career educator.

images 1, 2, 3, 4

This Moment / retrospective {7.1.11}

A Friday ritual.

A single photo bunch of photos – no words – capturing a moment from the week past. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Inspired by SouleMama.

{click on the pictures to enlarge them}

2009. Doing Sudoku with Grandma.

I found these gems while I was cleaning up some picture files.

Visit SouleMama to see more {this moment} posts.

Feel free to share your {this moment} link here.


Summer gardens and zucchini {A chat with author, Tina Dozauer-Ray}

Tina, it’s so great to be able to talk with you.

My mother-in-law took my daughter to our local library when you were doing a book signing and reading your book, Too Many Zucchini for Zachary Beany. We fell in love with the story instantly. My mother-in-law loved that the Grandmother was a major character in the story.

What inspired you to write this story?

I learned to garden with my mother in Iowa, and I have always found gardening to be a great comfort and joy to me.  When I became a mother, I wanted to share this with my children and would bring the babies out to the garden with me.  Later, they began to “help” with planting and weeding, and then they started their own projects, like our ongoing “biggest pumpkin challenge.” (Each year we beat our own record.)

I wanted to share the delight of growing one’s own food with children, and I came up with the idea of writing a children’s book which included a packet of seeds.  I thought kids would be much more likely to share Zachary Beany’s gardening adventures if the seeds were right there for them, ready to plant. The “problem” of surplus zucchini is legendary in the Midwest, so I thought that would be a good theme.

I wanted the book to contain projects that the readers could do themselves, like making zucchini sculptures and zucchini bread, so I included our family zucchini bread recipe.

I made my mother the main adult figure because she inspired me to learn to garden, and I love the influence she has had on my kids over the years. I love the idea of the older generations passing on their wisdom to our media-drenched young ones.

My 11-year-old son has a cooking app on his iPod…and then there’s that farm game on Facebook…someone needs to show our kids how we do this stuff “old school!”

I love what you are saying. I love watching my kids sit at the feet of my mother-in-law and learn how to create and make things with their hands and imaginations. I’m learning a lot from her too.

How long did it take you to write and publish your book?

The process was relatively quick.  My son, Toby, was excited about the idea of my writing a book and posted an “idea sheet” on the kitchen wall so that family members could write down ideas for the book, specifically things that you can make with zucchini.  I used a lot of his ideas, like the helicopter and rocket, which were passions of his at the time.  We have made each one of the creations shown in the book!

Idea sheet, that’s fabulous!

Once I got the idea, the process went pretty quickly.  I probably had my draft final draft written in a month.  I shopped around for a print-on-demand publisher that was willing to deal with my seeds, which very few were willing to do.  I have never shopped the book to a traditional publisher, although it’s been on my to-do list ever since.  I wanted to the book to be out, with the seeds, as soon as possible.  I knew that if I was lucky enough for a standard publisher to pick up my book, it would probably take years for the book to come out, and probably without the seeds, which, to me, were the key to the reader’s experience.

I shopped the internet for an illustrator, settling on Bonnie LeMaire, a whimsical artist from Canada.  It was fun to go back and forth with ideas, pointing out things like “we have to replace the lilacs in that picture with sunflowers, because the lilacs wouldn’t be blooming anymore.”

I can’t remember exactly how long the publishing process took; I’m guessing about 6 months?  I went with Lifevest Publishing in Centennial, Colorado, which has since gone out of business since the original owner died unexpectedly, and then the economy didn’t exactly help the new managers.

So, I’m thinking I had a book in my hands about 6 months after I started writing.

Your process is super helpful. I’m thinking about writing a book with a friend of mine who has a granny nanny.

What has been the response, from your readers, about the organic zucchini seeds you include with the book?

Most people love the seeds. I do, however, get the feeling that some parents wish the seeds weren’t there, because the adults feel “stuck” having to do some gardening they’d rather not do otherwise.  The books that reach these homes are the ones that need the seeds the most!  Even apartment dwellers can fill a great big pot with dirt and set it on their back stoop.

You are so right! Your book has us planting a garden this year, and I not have a green thumb.

Have you had any funny adventures growing zucchini?

I really do enjoy the ridiculous size the zucchini can reach if you don’t catch them in time, and the crazy shapes they can grow into… My favorite zucchini creation was made by my husband and son after the book was published.  I had a booth at the Louisville (Colorado) farmer’s market, and they came down later rolling a zucchini tractor they’d made.  It was awesome:  big wheels they’d borrowed from another toy and a little Fisher Price farmer perched proudly in a little seat they’d hollowed out in the zucchini.  It was a huge hit with the kids at the market who would come by and play with it.

That sounds cool.

My mother-in-law makes the best chocolate zucchini cake. You provide the recipe for Nana’s Special Zucchini Bread at the end of the story. What other baked goods or dishes do you like to make with zucchini?

Who doesn’t love fried food?  I think my family’s favorite way to eat the zucchini (mine, at least,) is to dip slices in egg and panko crumbs, and fry it.  Then you can do “zucchini parmesan” and layer it with cheese and tomato sauce.  Yum!

Yum! I’m a big fan of fried food.

Barbara Kingsolver has a chapter in her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” called “Zucchini Larceny.”  She has two zucchini recipes in it:  ”Disappearing Zucchini Orzo,” which is delicious (basically zucchini, cheese, and pasta,) and “Zucchini Chocolate Chip cookies.”  I have not tried the cookies, but it’s on my list for this summer.

I’ll be adding those recipes to my list as well.

We planted our first garden this year, any gardening tips to share?

My biggest challenges have been “the two w’s”:  water and weeds.

I am very stingy with water, and I have no irrigation system for our garden or enormous yard.  Adding a bunch of composted horse manure before planting helps the soil hold water, as well as enriching it. The compost also makes a great mulch to prevent evaporation from the soil below, and then I might add wood chips on top of that, with maybe a layer of cardboard or newspaper in between.  If I’m really feeling ambitious (and mad at the weeds) I’ll do weed fabric under the wood chips


We have a horrendous bindweed problem in our yard, and we don’t use any herbicides or pesticides.  So, I end up digging a ton of bindweed roots up every year, just to have them come back a few weeks later from the evil “mother root” many feet below.  Mulching does help with this, but this year I’m trying another technique:  bind weed “mites” imported from elsewhere in Colorado that eat nothing but bindweed (we hope.)

The extension service bags them up and sells them to folks trying to get a handle on their bindweed problem.  You get little pieces of “infected” bindweed to wrap around your own bindweed.  The mites are supposed to spread and weaken the plant over time.  It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s supposed to make that noxious weed more manageable.

So, my number one tip for Colorado gardening?  Mulch, mulch, mulch!

All of that made my head spin a bit. You may need to lead a workshop for us gardening amateurs.

Can you tell us a little about your upcoming book?

I found self-publishing my book to be a great deal of fun, but, unfortunately, quite expensive, especially commissioning the artwork.  I had hoped to sell more books on a website I had built. It has a link for buying the book that I’m embarrassed to say no longer works, since the publishing company went out of business.  I’m on the fence between hiring someone to fix this and just taking down the website.  It’s so darned cute, though, so there it sits in limbo…

So, I don’t think I would seriously start my next book unless I managed to shop Zachary Beany to a regular publisher.  I teach at two local middle schools and have two children, and I don’t have the time right now to work on another book unless it would make money for our family.

That being said, my next book would most like feature giant pumpkins!

Just FYI, the book is hard to find now, since the print-on-demand company went out of business.  I think Boulder Bookstore might still have it, and the Book Cellar in Louisville, maybe Grandrabbits.  The most sure-fire (and cheapest) way to get it is to drop me an email and arrange to buy one from me personally.

Thanks, Tina.


Tina Dozauer-Ray grew up gardening on a farm in southern Iowa. Some of her earliest memories are of her mother’s rambling fruit and vegetable gardens: she still vividly remembers catching a fat bumble bee on a chive blossom with her bare hands and getting stung! She also remembers the rare taste of golden raspberries and fresh Concord grapes, still warm from the sun. Read more…

Too Many Zucchini for Zachary Beany can be purchased on Amazon or by contacting Tina directly.