A Better House Blend

When the kids are yours, mine and ours, it takes wisdom and work to treat everyone fairly

Holidays can be complicated for any family, but when children, stepchildren and new spouses are involved, things can get really crazy. Consider the dilemma facing Merritt Patterson when her daughter Emmajane, then 7, requested a Barbie Jeep for Christmas two years ago. How could she possibly buy such a lavish gift for Emmajane and not get a similarly high-impact present for her stepson Michael Jr.?

And if those two got a fancy set of wheels, how could she leave her younger daughter Addie out of the equation? The high-priced solution she and her husband devised: three kiddie Jeeps. "We laugh at ourselves...

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