The image that comes to mind for five generations living under one roof is chaos. But in Lower Township, a family is doing just that - with more harmony than one might expect, and perhaps more dancing than in a more traditional two-generation family household.
Lisa Maurer just became a grandmother. She has three sons, two of whom live at home with her - including her son Dale and his fiancee, Averie McNeill, and their newborn, Haiden Maurer. The Maurers also live with Lisa's parents and her grandmother.
"On average it's like a normal, everyday household," Lisa said.
Lisa and her husband, Ernie Jr., have been living on and off with her parents since they were married in 1987. When they settled in Cape May in 2003, Lisa's parents joined them three years later in 2006, when they bought the property where the family currently resides.
The family says they have grown used to having the option of constant company. But their household is not as chaotic as you might think, mainly because everyone has his or her own space. Lisa said that when one of her sons, Ernie III, moved out, he felt the loss of being away from the household of eight - now nine.
"It's a crazy house, it really is. I used to look at the Family Circus and think, 'That's like us,'" said Lisa's mother, Diana Leman.
Diana and her husband, Bill, go to Florida for a few months every January. The family thinks they talk more to them when they're away, because they miss their presence in the house.
Lisa's son Ryan, 16, said, "It gives you something they look forward to when they come home." Ryan said he gets along great with his grandmother.
"We're attached at the hip," said Diana, who vouched that she takes Ryan's side for everything.
The family is especially grateful to have Lisa's grandmother, Josephine Caranci, living with them as well. Caranci turned 101 years old in June.
"It's just a blessing to have someone whose 101 (years old) in the house," Lisa said. "The stories she tells!"
Recently, the family took a trip to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and took Caranci out dancing. Diana said that health-wise, her mother, who enjoys "rock and roll music," is doing better than anyone else in the family.
Sometimes, Ryan said, he plays his saxophone at home, and the family, including Josephine, just spends time together and dances at home.
New father Dale said it was easier than anticipated to bring newborn Haiden, who is now 3 weeks old, into a household with so many open arms.
"Everybody loves the baby, it's been a big help," he said. "I thought it was going to be a little tougher."
"Oh, it'll get tougher," his grandmother responded.
The crew said that occasionally, they do get tired of each other - but when they do, it's OK, because everyone has his or her own space. In the end, the adults in the family say they all enjoy each other's company much more than they like the thought of living in a household with fewer generations.
"We have our own little world," Diana said. "We could do one of those reality shows right here in this house."
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