Friday, August 12, 2011

WHEN TWO FAMILIES BECOME ONE--An Interview with Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

My guest this week is Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, a talented and multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction. I've been graced with Diana's friendship ever since we met at an RWA conference in Orlando many moons ago. She has co-authored with Marty C. Lintvedt WE'RE NOT BLENDED WE'RE PUREED. The combination of heartfelt advice based on Diana's experiences and Marty's professional insights as a licensed counselor will help those who may be struggling in newly blended families or who may need encouragement. Plus, Diana, like myself, is also ruled by cats!
~*~ ~*~ ~*~As an added bonus~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Diana will give away one copy of WE'RE NOT BLENDED WE'RE PUREED to one randomly chosen commenter. Please include your e-mail address with your comments . . . and personally, I'd love for you to Follow this blog.

An Interview with Diana Lesire Brandmeyer:

In reviewing WE’RE NOT BLENDED WE’RE PUREED a lot of thought and love appears evident between you and Ed and your sons. Would you say the two of you sought to purposely figure out how to make the changes in your families smoother for your sons or did this happen as trial and error?

In the beginning we thought we were smart and had it all figured out. That lasted about twenty minutes. After that there was a lot of ‘let’s try this’ moments.

Early in this most helpful and creatively put together book you paint an image for the reader to see your two families moved beyond a blended mix and ended up in a pureed mix. Continuing with a food theme, why blended/pureed as opposed to food-processed?

When my agent asked me what I would call a book about my life, We’re Not blended-We’re Pureed was the first thing that came to my mind. I think because when you blend you push one button and walk away and hope it’s all smooth. When you puree you have to watch a bit so you don’t end up going too far and you have a mixture you didn’t quite want. That being said I’m not much of a cook so my definition of puree may be wrong. In my mind it worked so we stuck with that.

How do you see your separate families as mixing together smoothly rather than chopping and dicing up the past that made who you were when you first merged as a family?

There were a lot of chunky moments to make us into the family we are today. It took a lot of work, patience and prayers to get to the place where we now have a Brandmeyer-Lesire flair. Like any marriage each partner brings something special to the relationship that they don’t want to change. We just brought along a few extra little people and we learned what was most important to each and tried to make that continue.
It sounds like that despite much prayer, love, affection, and bribery of desserts, there were surprises in the beginning that you never expected to have. In hindsight now, can you summarize any major shockers that newly joined families have to go through to become blended?

One of the biggest shocks as a mom was scheduling. Increasing your family means more to be done, more laundry, more boxes of cereal, more activities. The word is MORE of everything from drama –and this is important so don’t miss it—to more hugs and love if you let it happen. That little if is a huge word. If you want this blended family to work you have to learn to love beyond what is happening. If  you don’t look at the child who is upsetting your plans of the perfect family and see love it’s not going to work. If  you don’t see past the hurt, confusion and insecurity and  in that child’s eyes and behavior and you react only in frustration you may never have a family that blends. 

The first time you’re married and have kids, it’s usually a baby right? You have time to adjust, the baby learns when mom means yes or no. But when you blend a family you get already formed children that come with opinions and attitudes. There is a lot of adjusting required from the new parents and the new children. 

Were there any one oh-wow moments that you’d also hadn’t expected but were delighted when it occurred?

I’m laughing—sorry you can’t hear that. Yes, there were many. The latest one is that while the boys were growing up I thought they would never be friends once they moved out of the house. But they are! It’s so exciting to see Ben brag about Andy’s art, Andy calling Ben for help when his truck isn’t working, and for both of them to complain that Josh lives too far away that they really miss him.

In the beginning of your marriage with Ed you also faced the challenges of disapproving extended family members. Did this prove an obstacle that you as a family needed to overcome in order to feel more at ease with each other?

Oddly enough, it united us. We saw ourselves as a unit and we would not be broken apart. 

Was it difficult for you and Ed to see each other in a new light, separate from your previous spouses?

Being widowed made the challenge different from those who are divorced. Divorced couples must interact which doesn’t allow them to cast the ex-spouse as a perfect person in their minds. When you’re widowed it’s easier to forget the other spouse had faults.

Do you think your sons had trouble? Did you hear a lot of “my other mom/dad did it this way so why won’t you”? Any advice?

First, please note I think of all the boys as MY sons, but I have to separate them for a moment to answer the questions. Ben and Josh are my biological children. Ben was 7, Josh 2 when their dad died. It’s a lot different when it’s your dad that dies. I was their primary caretaker and yes, they missed their dad a lot. When I married Ed he filled that empty space and it worked well. Andy was 5 when his mom died. She was his world, then he was with his dad for two years before I came into his life bearing authority. So yes, I heard, “My dad doesn’t care…” often.  My advice is for parents to decide BEFORE they get married how discipline is going to be handled and how you will back each other up during a discussion.

When do you think your family experienced that turning point of letting go of the past and becoming a new family? Was this a gradual process or did any one thing or person or event smooth the bend in the road?

I don’t think we ever let go of the past because we wanted the boys to know their other parents, who they were, things they liked. We did grow closer as a new family when we started taking vacations in an RV. Nothing says I love you like 8 hours of the Three Stooges playing in the back and watching 3 small boys laughing.
Courtesy of

Any funny anecdotes of the pureeing process you’d like to share?

I’ll never forget the time when we were cleaning house for a birthday party and Andy told me, “The only reason we married you was so you would clean. So why do I have to help?” I didn’t laugh then, but it makes me laugh now. And yes, he did continue to help. 

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Would you change anything?

I wish I could do it again. I miss those boys so much my eyes water! Yes, I would change things; I would communicate with Ed using words instead of trying to get him to read my mind. The mind reading doesn’t work. I wish I would have known some of the things Marty suggests to do in the book. I do believe with that information, my relationship with Andy would have been better if I had realized what he was telling me by his actions. I must say I am so proud of him and love him to pieces.

Diana's cat Wendell
As a cat lover I ask: Did you bring any pets into the family when you and Ed married and did that help or add to any stress? 

When we combined our houses we had a total of 4 cats! That’s a lot of litter boxes and there didn’t seem to be anyone around to clean them—isn’t that odd? The cats blended faster than we did!

Oliver--owner of Diana
And, how essential is it to write in the presence of your cats?

My cats keep me healthy. We have two now and they have this odd way of deciding when I need to take a break from the computer. One sits on my keyboard, the other my lap—one of them even wants me to file his claws! 

Diana would love to hear from you about your "pureed" families, writing, or cats

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer's Bio:

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer has a background in education and psychology. Her credits include My Devotions, The Metro East Family Gazette, Little Visits Family Devotions and The Lutheran Witness. She received her degree from Webster University. She is the author of, A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee (Barbour 5/2012), We’re Not Blended, We’re Pureed: a Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families (Concordia Publishing House), Hearts on the Road (Barbour), and A Time to Dance (Awe-struck E-publisher),. She lives in Southern Illinois where the corn grows at a rapid rate behind her home. Married to Ed, they have three grown sons all on their own now, each of them bringing someone special to join the family. Yay! Daughter-in-laws!

To purchase We're Not Blended We're Pureeed:


  1. Diana, I love your title. Sounds like a wonderful book--much needed these days.

  2. Elaine,
    Thanks so much for interviewing me about this book. It was a tough book to write, but I felt it needed to written for those moms and dads who are taking this same journey.

  3. This is a great blog post! I've been in my blended family for four months and I am AMAZED at how well the families have come together. Dave and I are reading The Smart Step-Family, so will have to get this when we finish. Not much time to read with 5 kids!

    It's not to say we haven't had HUGE challenges from the outside (wedding stress, ex issues, moving, new schools mid-year, house buying/selling), but it DOES bring you together if you ask God to do it.

    Yes, there is non-stop laundry and shopping, but I feel so blessed to be home with all the family. We've let the love grow naturally instead of forcing it, and we both appreciate that some times kids act up. It's not because of us or being a step-family, but because they are little people learning how to mature well.

    Thanks, Diana!

  4. Christine, I love your positive look at bringing your family together. Bravo on the acceptance that it will take time.

  5. The book sounds great. I'll need to get one for our counseling office.

  6. Really enjoyed this article. Another interesting social issue--that of blending a reunited adoptee and their birth parent's families. Not quite the same as blended two married peoplés families, but more like blending in a new aunt that many in the adoptee's family aren't too pleased about accepting.

    But 12 years later, I'm so happy with the relationship I have with my birth-daughter.

  7. cblamony--I appreciate you getting the book for your office. I hope it will help someone.

    Christine--that is amazing that you found each other! So glad it is working out well. I can imagine the problems are a bit different and yet...the same.

  8. Diana, thanks so much for being such a fantastic guest this week. A lot of people from all around the world have viewed your post. I'm sure your words have blessed them with encouragement.

    The winner of WE'RE NOT BLENDED WE'RE PUREED is cbalmony. Congratulations. Diana will be in touch with you shortly.

    ♥ Elaine


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