People Article

August 12, 2004
CoverStory
All In the Family
Between learning to cook and working on a greatest-hits CD, Britney Spears eases into her role as future stepmom to fiancé Kevin Federline's kids
Thursday Aug 12, 2004 12:00pm EST

Spears was excited to spend time with Federline's daughter Kori on Aug. 5. "She was spirited and really happy," says director Dave Meyers. Her connection to Kori's dad, he says, is "very sweet."

Since her engagement in June to dancer Kevin Federline, Britney Spears seems to have settled into a looooong, low-key premarital honeymoon. Shopping. A trip to Hawaii. Pool time. And, for a remarkably long stretch, no headlines. What's up? As she told PEOPLE last month: "I kissed a bunch of frogs and finally found my prince." Of course, this Prince Charming doesn't come with a white stallion – he comes with two kids: daughter Kori, 2, and 5-week old Kaleb (both by his ex-girlfriend, actress Shar Jackson). So on Aug. 5, Spears took time to try out her pending role of stepmom. After missing Kori's second birthday in July, Federline, 26, brought his daughter to an L.A. set where Spears was shooting a commercial for her new Elizabeth Arden perfume, Curious (in stores next month).
In what a source says was their second get-together – their first was just before Kaleb was born – Spears, 22, made it up to Kori. "She wanted to go to the trailer to see her whenever she could," says the commercial's director, Dave Meyers. Adds another source: "They were very playful. They had fun. They posed for pictures. You can call it a family portrait."

If only a partial one. The more complete picture, of course, includes Federline's ex, Jackson. The actress, 27, has yet to meet Spears, but not because of any ill will, says a friend of Jackson's. (Though for the record, rumors that Spears sent Jackson flowers on the day she delivered Kaleb and bought her a $600,000 home in Orange County are false. Says her pal: "Shar was joking that she'd love to see the keys!") As her friend tells it, "There is nothing standing in the way. It seems to be a timing thing."
Indeed, in addition to rehabbing the knee she injured June 8, forcing the cancellation of her tour, Spears has been busy working on her next album, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, due Nov. 16, which will include a remake of Bobby Brown's 1988 hit of the same name. Says Spears's spokeswoman: "Britney is enjoying her time off. She's getting her knee better, learning how to cook and enjoying time with her family and getting to know her new family."

August 12, 2004

Jackson (with Kaleb in August) "is moving on," says a pal. "She has her hands full with being a mom now."

For the moment, Federline and Jackson, says a source, have an informal arrangement: The children live with Jackson and her mother in Orange County and spend time with their father when possible. "It all seems to be very impromptu," says Jackson's friend, "like Kevin came and took them a couple of days ago. It is all just whenever they have time. . . . She knows that Kevin and Britney are moving forward, and they will work on putting the family together."
In the future, Spears and Federline might need to organize themselves better – if only because Spears, who is very close to her mother, Lynne, 49, her contractor father, James, 52, her brother, Bryan, 27 and especially her 13-year-old sister Jamie Lynn, has said she wants to have four or five children of her own. "I love little ones," she said. Ditto Federline, himself the product of a blended family. (After his parents, Mike, 49, a mechanic, and Collette, 48, a banker, split when he was 8, he was raised in Clovis, Calif., by his dad and stepmother, along with a brother and step-siblings.) A former neighbor calls him a "stable, everyday kind of a guy" who "could calm things down in her crazy world and help her have a regular life."
Director Meyers, for one, is betting the blended-family thing will work. "They're very connected," he says. "She's committed and passionate and emotional. She'll make a great anything she does."