This is an article from Redbook magazine regarding how to blend a family. You can check it out at:
Our trip was a blast! I am so glad that we had the opportunity to go. The weather was awesome. It took us 8 hours to get there, but the kids handled it well. They passed the time eating, sleeping, studying the landscape, listening to their ipods, and playing ISpy with me. My husband even joined in to help us find as many different license plates as we could. We ended up spotting 24 states and 1 country.
Much to Nicholas’ dismay, once we arrived in Wisconsin, we began our trip by shopping at the the Tanger Outlet Mall. We found some real bargains. It wasn’t like a typical mall because of the open air design. Next we spent some time walking around the downtown area and got the kids a bite to eat at Houlihan’s. I wanted more local fare, so my husband and I ate at Moosejaw’s. I had a delicious cheese, beer-n-brat soup as well as an elk burger. While we ate dinner, the kids enjoyed dessert. We ended the night by taking the kids swimming at the resort pool which was full of bells and whistles.
We spent the next day at the “World’s Largest Waterpark,” Noah’s Ark. It was the ideal time to go, because we did not have to wait in any lines since school was still in session. If you can believe it, I even rode more rides than Ethan! We rode water rides with names like “Dark Voyage,” “Black Anaconda,” “Flash Flood,” “Point of No Return,” and “Bahamas Falls.” I rode about 12 rides that day. It was like nothing I’ve ever done before–but wait, I haven’t! Usually I am too prissy for those kind of things, but I was determined to have a great time and really let my hair down. Most of the time I was scared to death–but I loved it! The remainder of the day we spentsightseeing and ate dinner at “Famous Dave’s.” For dessert, the kids made their own candy at a candy shoppe. We also took a nature walk along the Wisconsin River trail. As if they did not spend enough time in the water earlier, when we returned to the resort, they wanted to go swimming again! While my husband monitored them , I sat in the hot tub and read. It was so relaxing!
Saturday morning we ate breakfast and then got ready to take a tour on the “Ducks.” We spent an hour touring the Dells via land and water. We had two “splashdowns” in Lake Delton and the Wisconsin River. The kids loved it! Ethan was especially spellbound. I think this was his “real” first vacation. After the Ducks, we had lunch at a McDonald’s that looked like a log cabin. It was really neat and fascinated Ethan. Our final bang was going to another waterpark, “The Wilderness.” It featured a large variety of wild rides. My husband and I opted to sit and watch while enjoying cool drinks in the comfort of the shade. We left just as Wisconsin was issued a tornado watch.
Our trip home took two hours longer, thanks to the traffic in Chicago. But again, the kids were real troopers. We stopped for dinner in a little town of all places called “Morocco!” I see the signs often when we drive to Michigan, but this was our first time stopping in “my’ town! Once we finally arrived home, I had my husband stop at Taco Bell so that we could try the new “Fruitista” and cool down a bit. The weather was really muggy and sticky.
The only thing missing was Evan. I really wished he would have been able to go. However, if he earns and keeps a weekend pass before summer is out, we plan to take a mini-trip to the Dunes. But this time was well spent in my efforts to bond with Ethan. I took over 150 pictures and made sure to take some with just him and I. Also when certain rides required two people, I often paired up with him. His excitement was really heartwarming and he seemed so much more relaxed than normal. When I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to get the pictures developed so that I could begin a scrapbook, he agreed. He told us that he has looked through our family vacation photo albums many times , but that this time, he would be in the pictures as well. Wow! That statement spoke volumes and caused me to think about some things.
It was a real blessing that we were able to go, have fun, and arrive home safely. Thank God!
Ethan has joined the track team, thank goodness. He is a very quiet, absentminded, introverted child. He is also smart and makes good grades. However, if we would allow him to, he would play the game system nonstop. I know that this is his means of escape, a time when he does not have to think about anything. It is his way of putting his mind on cruise control. All he has to do is sit back and enjoy the ride without feeling a thing. He is hollow inside and this worries me. He also lacks imagination. He is such a literal child. While he seems mellow on the outside, I think a quiet storm is brewing inside. Ethan holds a lot of things close, like me. He pretends to be okay with Eliza being in prison. But I know he really isn’t. I also worry because we have spent a lot of time and energy dealing with Evan and his problems. Our whole world revolved around Evan’s neediness.
But now that Evan is in residential treatment we have been allowed the opportunity to focus more on Ethan. We are attempting to draw him out of his shell. Things with us have been pretty awkward, partly due to Eliza’s once obvious hatred of my husband and me. I think he realized that his father will always be his father, but since I have no blood ties, I am simply his father’s wife. In other words, he doesn’t have to get along with me. Ethan being her oldest child was well schooled on my perceived evilness. I’m sure he never thought that he would ever have to live with his wicked stepmother.
In the beginning he was very antisocial borderlining rude. He would not say good morning, good night, hello, good-bye or thank you. Even if he bumped into me he would not say excuse me. On my birthday he declined comment. He would often tell Evan and his other brother how mean I was. He did not like having rules and thought at age twelve he was old enough to make his own.
For months I was miserable in my own home. It was too uncomfortable to be in his sullen presence. My husband talked to him often about his attitude with little change.
Since then our relationship has improved slightly. He does manage to greet me and say thank you without being prompted. But I know in his own way he is making an effort. When my mother died he offered his condolences. And one day he made a picture just for me. His way of conversing with others is through sports trivia. When I get home in the evening, sometimes I am met with a did you know that the Lakers…type greeting. I guess I have to take what I can get.
I have been making a greater effort to bond with him, too. This is how I came up with the idea of the track pack. I bought a small container in which I decorated with track themed stickers. Then I filled it with lotion, powder, deodorant, gum, lip balm, a water bottle, breath mints, and a towel. The final addition to the pack included a pair of green, white, and black Reebok running shoes. Thus, track pack was born! I haven’t given it to him yet because I still feel a little nervous. Will he like it? Or will he have the same nonchalant reaction that he has to most things that I do for him? I guess I will just have to give it to him and see.