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My Personal Confessions of Questioning God

As I sit here in the aftermath of it all, it is a bitter feeling that succumbs me. A week with some of my dearest friends is now over. I walked them to their truck, said goodbye, and walked back to my house without watching them back out of the driveway. The scene was too difficult for me to watch. And I cry out, “Why God?”. Why? I just don’t know that answer as to why these people have to live so far away from me. Since the day I was married and moved away from my home town, I’ve never had friends as close to me as this. What a lonely feeling I wallow in at the moment. I hate that they are not in my life every day and that we no longer have the wealth of shared experiences that we had when they lived so close to us. There are many many things I miss.

 

Searching For Answers

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And again, I say, “Why God?”. Why didn’t it work out for us to move close to them this year? Why did that whole idea suddenly go away? I am still not sure why this isn’t God’s plan. Why is it that we are sentenced to a life apart and not together. They are people that I need in my life. I haven’t had the real conversations that I had this week in a long time.

 

Remembering The Hard Days

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All of the people that live nearby me are the ones that were not close to us during our most difficult days over the last two years. I don’t think they understand us like my dear friends; the ones that just started their trek back to their new home. There are so many things that I have gone through, that only my dear friend know. They saw it firsthand. They were here with us during those days of trial. We are still going through so much, yet they are not with me now. We keep up through phone calls and skype, but having them here, in my face is so much better.

 

Remembering the Good Days

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My heart was happy while they were here, yet so very sad at the same time. So, so very sad. I didn’t even know how to keep myself from feeling sad in the seconds they were away. It was so hard for me every time I was alone while they were here. Each ride in the car that they trailed behind, I sat quiet as we made our way to a mutual destination. Every time they were away for even a short period of time, I wondered why they couldn’t live here.

 

Realizing the Future

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It is so clear that they miss parts of this life. The roads have diverged for us, and I hung it up that we would raise our children together. What a hard breath that was for me to draw the day I realized that we wouldn’t be raising our children the way we hoped. We were working together and holding each other accountable in parenting. During these days that they were with us, we were doing it again. There is already the established boundaries between us, and we already understand each other and know each other. There is no awkwardness between us now. What will I do now?

 

With each passing day that goes by, I know that God has a plan. It is so hard to sit and wait in these times, not knowing what will take place. At the same time, I can’t imagine not having the hope that there is a God that loves me. Even when circumstances do not make sense, He is still in control.

Maybe you are going through a time in your life that is difficult and you aren’t sure how things will turn out. Know that you are not alone and hang on to the hope that God loves you.

My Mom’s Slow Cooked Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

I have been eating the same spaghetti sauce all of my life. In fact, this is one of my favorite meals to eat and make. When I go to visit my mom, I’m always hoping that she has made a big pot of this sauce. No matter how long I have been making this recipe on my own, it never tastes as good as hers. There is just something about how my mom makes it…maybe her secret ingredient is love.

Ingredients: 

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1 pound of lean ground beef

1 chopped up onion

1 chopped up bell pepper

2 cloves of finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons of olive oil to saute’ vegetables and meat

2 16 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes

2 16 oz cans of tomato sauce

1 8 0z can of tomato paste

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Cooking Instructions:

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First thing you need to do is saute’ the onions, peppers, and garlic. Once they have cooked down a bit, add in the pound of ground beef to brown. Be sure you drain the ground beef of its excess fat. Then you will add in all the cans of tomatoes, paste, sauce, and water. Stir up these ingredients until they are well blended. Add in the spices: rosemary, bay leaves, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn it down to low heat to cook for 5 hours or more.

Patience in Waiting: 

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This is one of those dishes that really does take all day long to cook. I like my spaghetti sauce thick, and to achieve that, I cook it on the stove for at minimum of 5 hours. If you do not give this recipe that long to cook, then it will be very watery. In fact, sometimes, it is still a bit watery even after I have given its full time to cook. Sometimes, I use less water when making the recipe just to be sure it is as thick as I like for it to be. This is not a good recipe for a crockpot, because it needs the ability to evaporate the water and cook down. A crockpot will not allow the water to evaporate out. However, I have successfully left this pot of sauce on my stove while I was away at church or other functions. I realize that some people do not feel safe in leaving food cooking on the stove while they are away. In that case, it is best to only cook this meal when you are home. I actually think that this spaghetti sauce tastes even better on the next day. You could easily make this up ahead of time and serve it when you are ready.

 

Leave me a message in the comments and tell me about your favorite recipe. I’d love to know what you enjoy cooking.

How Non-Verbal Cues Affect Communication in Your Marriage and Dating Relationships

In your marriage, you can certainly chalk a lot of fights up to poor communication. When you clearly communicate with your husband or wife, then there will be less fighting. You will probably still disagree with each other, but the arguments will be less frequent.

The truth is, to be successful in communication, it takes more than just the right words to accurately pass along your feelings. Non-verbal cues play a big role in how your words are taken. Also, the tone that you take to speak will communicate to your spouse what you are really saying.

It is important to understand how body language, tone, and the words you say work together as a whole package.

Learning to Read Body Language

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It is really important that you pay attention to your spouse’s body language. If you aren’t paying attention to this aspect, then you aren’t understanding what they have to say as clearly. If their words do not line up with their non-verbal cues, then ask them to tell you what they are really thinking.

When they know you see through their disguise, then it will be easier for them to speak freely about their feelings. The position your loved one takes when you are talking to them gives you a tell tale sign of how well you are communicating. They very well may be taking what you have to say in the wrong manner.

At this point, it is best to stop and re-group with what you are saying. Facial expressions and body positions make up a good portion of how you are being understood by others.

 

 Understanding Tone of Voice

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The flexion in which a sentence is spoken, can change the meaning of a words that were used. How many times has your tone of voice backfired on you? I know that I’m constantly speaking in a way that communicates something I don’t intend.

Sometimes, I do intend to communicate something very clearly through my tone. When you are in conversation with your spouse, it is important that your tone isn’t giving impressions you don’t mean. On the other hand, listen to your loved ones tone of voice, and ask them if they truly do mean what they are communicating.

Increasing Communication in Marriage

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In your marriage and dating relationship, increasing communication is very important. When you understand that more goes into expressing yourself besides just the words you use, then your communication will grow.

Explain to your loved one what their body language is saying to you or what their tone of voice is reflecting. They may not know how you are taking their words based off of those non-verbal cues.

 

 

 

 

When you work hard at increasing the communication experienced between you and your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, then all aspects of your relationship will be enhanced. Clearly understanding your partner gives you a great appreciation for who they are and causes you to love them more deeply.

Leave me a comment and share a way that you and your loved one have increased your communications.

Simple Baked Potato Recipe

Baked potatoes is something I consider to be hardy enough for a meal, especially paired with salad. While I don’t make many potato meals anymore, this is one that I really enjoyed putting together for my family. Everyone here really liked eating this dish as well, and it turned out to be a huge hit. Anytime I can make something my boys like is a win in my opinion.

Ingredients:

As far as the ingredient list for this baked potato recipe, it is pretty minimal. You can make this meal as simple or extravagant as you please.

The number of baking potatoes you want to cook

Spray Oil

Fixings of your choice

By fixings of your choice, I mean whatever you like putting on your baked potatoes when they are done. I really enjoy putting chili, cheese, and sour cream on my potatoes. This makes it more of a complete meal by adding the protein from the beans, meat, cheese and sour cream. With the chili and cheese, it made this idea very similar to chili cheese fries, but with intact fries.

 

How to Cut the Potatoes: 

When I originally saw this concept on Lifetricks.com, I didn’t really look at the way the potato was cut. That is kind of the way I do things, I see something briefly and re-create what I thought I saw. In this case, what I chose to do instead turned out really well. This is the trick that I based the idea off of.

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Picture Credit

 

Instead of cutting the potatoes in slits like this, I cut them down center first and then cut thicker slits. They turned out like thick french fries.

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Once I was done cutting them like this, I sprayed the surface and in between the potato slits with olive oil. You can use any type of oil or butter here. I just chose to use olive oil. Then you will bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. They cook faster than normal baked potatoes since they have been cut opened.

 

This is what mine looked like when they were done baking. I really like the crispy edges on some of the potatoes. That really is my favorite part about this technique for cooking baked potatoes.

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After the potatoes were cooked, I added some chili that I had leftover from the night before. I topped that with a bit of sprinkled cheese and dab of sour cream. If I had chives, I certainly would have added that. This meal was very delicious and I plan to make it again soon.

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Leave me a comment and tell me what new recipe or cooking methods you have tried out lately. I’d love to hear from you.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap

If you are reading this post, you have likely decided that it is worth your time to make your own laundry soap. You can read this post to see why I think it is worth it to make my own. I’ve been making this recipe for over 5 years. There are a few modifications I made to the original recipe that I received, which is pretty typical for me. Rarely do I ever follow a recipe completely. Each time I made detergent for my laundry, I fine tuned the process. Hopefully, you can follow along with these instructions and make this simple laundry detergent for yourself.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are a few ingredients that you will need to make your own detergent. Below, you will find the recipe. I have added a 1/2 cup of stain fighter to the list of ingredients. That is not one of the ingredients in the normal recipes you find. However, with my little boys, I’ve found that it is important to add in some amount of stain fighting agents to the recipe. Since I have done this, I almost never see stains on their clothes.

Ingredients

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1/2 cup of Borax

1/2 cup of Washing Soda

1 Bar Fels Naptha

1/2 cup of stain fighting liquid or laundry detergent

5 gallon bucket

4 1/2 gallons of water

 

It is important that you have a 5 gallon bucket to hold the detergent. You can also save a liquid laundry detergent bottle to put some of the soap in, to make it more convenient for yourself when dispensing. Personally, I just use a cup and scoop from the 5 gallon bucket. At one time, I did use an old bottle, which was really nice.

 

How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent

You will need to start by grating up the bar of Fels Naptha into a sauce pot. This is probably the most difficult part of the entire process. It is not easy grating up a bar of soap. Personally, I’ve never worried about using my normal cooking utensils to make this recipe. If you are concerned about that, then you should get separate utensils and pots.

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Once the soap is mostly grated, fill the pot with water, leaving about 2 inches from the top. It will easily boil over, so give yourself some room. Turn the burner to high until it begins boiling, and then bring it back to medium heat. You will need to stir it frequently. I suggest using a metal spoon because it will not absorb the soap flavor.

 

While your Fels Naptha bar is cooking on the stove, go ahead and start boiling about 5 cups of water or more. I use the boiled water to help dissolve the Borax, washing soda, and stain fighter. I’ve found that if I do not use boiling water to mix these ingredients, they do not dissolve enough.

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Once you have the water boiling, pour it into the 1/2 cup of Borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda. Stir really well to make sure it is fully mixed. At this point, I actually boil another 5 cups of water so that it will further dissolve the fels naptha soap with this mixture. I might go overboard on the boiling of water, but I’ve made this recipe too many times where there were pieces of soap or clumps of detergent floating around in it.

 

Once you have the washing soda and Borax fully mixed, you can add in your stain fighting detergent or agent. With this particular batch, I added one of these Tide Pods that I received for free. Mainly, I’ll use whatever I have on hand. You can feel free to skip this step, or use whatever you like the best.

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Stir up the stain fighter until you feel that it is completely dissolved. If you have chosen to boil more water, go ahead and add that to the bucket now. Once the fels naptha bar is fully dissolved it can be poured into the bucket as well. I’d suggest skimming the top of the water to pick out any large pieces of soap that refused to melt. Just go ahead and throw them out, or you will find that clump in your laundry later on.

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Once all of the soap ingredients have been mixed well, it is time to fill the bucket with water. Keep in mind that the bucket is going to be very heavy. If Austin isn’t home to move the bucket, I’ll take the bucket to its location at this point and take pitchers of water to the bucket.

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If you have a high efficiency washing machine, be sure that you only use 1/4 of a cup of this detergent in your washer. If you have a regular machine, you might want to use about 1/2 a cup of detergent.

It Will Take Some Getting Used To

There are some things you will need to get used to about this laundry detergent. It is completely fragrance free. Your clothes will not smell like it does when you use detergents from the store. When you smell your clothes straight from the washer, you should be prepared that they might smell like they aren’t clean. You have been conditioned to think that clean clothes smell like lavender fields or whatever fragrance your detergent puts off. Once you put your clothes through the dryer, they are going to just smell like clothes, not a fragrance. Whenever I go to my mom’s and have to use her laundry detergent, I am overwhelmed with the fragrance that comes off of the clothes. It takes at least two washes for that fragrance to go away. I think that the lack of fragrance has really helped my allergies and asthma flair ups.

On the flip side of things, I have found that I do not have to use dryer sheets in general. Sometimes there is an exception to this in the winter when I am drying a knitted blanket. Other than that, I rarely have problems with static cling. You are not only saving yourself on the cost of the detergent, but you also won’t have to purchase dryer sheets or fabric softener unless you want to. The only thing I ever add to my laundry is vinegar on occasion. I still have a child that is potty training, so whenever he has had an accident, I’ll add about 1/4 cup of vinegar to the laundry to help with any foul smell. For the most part, this has always knocked bad odors.

Good luck on making this recipe. Feel free to leave me a message in the comments if you have any questions.

Why Should You Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are many great reasons to make your own laundry detergent. I’ve been making my own liquid laundry detergent for about 5 years or so. This has been a way that I’ve kept my grocery budget under control. Making DIY laundry detergent has saved me a great deal of money. It is simple to make and doesn’t take any longer to put together than it does for me to drive to the store I would buy it at. Now, I realize that I live out a little more rural than some, so it might be faster for you to get to a store and purchase laundry detergent than it would be to make it. However, with the small amount of time and money investment I put into making laundry detergent, it is completely worth it to me.

 

Is it Worth it To Make Your Own Laundry Soap?

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When I started making laundry detergent many years ago, someone in my MOPS group found all of the ingredients online and bought a large portion of each item. She split the order with three of us ladies in the group. I paid $25.00 for what I received, and I didn’t have to buy any of the ingredients again for almost 3 years. I even gave away enough ingredients for the recipe 3 times. That just gives you a little idea of how inexpensive it is to make your own liquid laundry soap. While I’m not math genius enough to break it down to how much each load costs me, I know that it is considerably less than what it would cost at the store. I used to spend $13.00 every two months on the cheapest detergent I could find.

Can I Use Homemade Laundry Detergent in my High Efficiency Washing Machine? 

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You may have a high efficiency washing machine that has a manufacturers recommendation to only use certain detergents. About two years ago, we had to purchase a new washer and we ended up with a high efficiency machine. I was certainly concerned about whether this homemade laundry detergent would ruin my high efficiency washing machine or not. After some research online and consulting with a friend who also has a HE machine, I decided it would be safe to use. These machines need a soap that does not produce a lot of suds. This homemade recipe does not produce a lot of bubbles. Just to be on the safe side with my machine, I dilute the recipe more than what it is called for.  I’ve had no trouble with  my laundry coming out clean, even though I have diluted this recipe. It is best that you do some research for yourself and try this at your own risk. While I’ve had no trouble with my machine, that does not mean we have the same washer. If you choose to use this recipe and you machine starts acting up, then I would suggest you stop using it.

What You Need to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent 

For the basic recipe you only need three ingredients. However, I’ve found that adding in a fourth ingredient really helps with the effectiveness of the detergent on cloth diapers or other smelly or stained laundry. That additional ingredient for me is a stain fighter of some form. Either I will use a free sample I’ve received somewhere, or I will purchase a Tide brand of stain fighter to add to the mixture. Without adding some kind of stain remover, I notice that my boys clothes hold onto grass stains and various other markings.

I’ve been able to find all of these items grouped on the laundry isle at Walmart, Harris Teeter, and some Dollar Generals.

Here are the items needed:

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1/2 cup of Borax

1/2 cup of Washing Soda

1 Bar Fels Naptha soap

1/2 cup of a stain fighter or laundry soap

5 Gallon Bucket

4 1/2 Gallons of Water

 

For the method in which I use to make homemade laundry soap, go here.

 

Hopefully you will find that it saves you a lot of money and isn’t nearly as inconvenient as you might think to make your own detergent.

 

Beef Pot Pie Recipe

I’m not really a huge fan of chicken pot pie at all, however, my husband is. Every now and then, I’ll make a pot pie for him. A few months ago, some friends were moving and gave me several rolled up frozen pie crusts. I’ve never purchased frozen pie crusts like this before, but since I had been blessed with them, I wanted to use them for dinner. We rarely eat pies, so I knew I needed to come up with a recipe that would use these crusts. One night, I decided to make a beef pot pie. My husband, Austin, really liked it. I think that for a pot pie, it turned out really well. Apparently, I don’t care for any kind of pot pie though. Certainly, I did like it better than any chicken pot pie I had ever had. Here is how I made it.

 

Ingredients:

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This recipe doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients, but it can be a bit time consuming. I think most pot pie recipes do take some time to put together. You could easily make this meal up ahead of time. Personally, I like to use leftovers to make pot pies to cut down on some of the prep time.

You Will Need:

2 Uncooked Pie Crusts

1 Pound Beef Tips

1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Package of Onion Soup Mix

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

1 Cup of Cut Carrot Pieces

1/4 Cup of Flour

1 Cup of Water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: 

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Cook the beef tips in the cream of mushroom soup with the package of onion soup mix on top. When I made this, I used leftover beef tips that I had cooked in a crockpot. If you are pressed for time or do not have leftovers, then you can cook this part on the stove. Once tips are fully cooked, cut them into bite sized pieces.

You will then add the peas and carrots to the beef mixture in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add in as much salt and pepper that suits your taste. Once the mixture has reached boiling point, take it down to medium heat.

Mix the 1/4 cup of flour up into the cup of water. Make sure that it is completely mixed in. You will add the flour/water mix to the pan with the beef, carrots, and peas. Stir the flour combination into the beef, peas, and carrots mixture. Continually stir until the broth becomes very thick. You might need to mix up a bit more flour and water to make the broth thick enough.

 

Once your broth is completely thickened, pour the mixture into two pie plates. Fill the pie plates to about 1 inch from the top. Lay a raw piece of pie dough on top of the mixture. Cut a slit in the pie dough to allow it to vent while cooking. Brush the pie dough with butter to help it brown. Place both pie plates in the at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Once it is fully cooked, pull it out of the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

 

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Hope this recipe works out well for you. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about my recipe or the process. Just leave a message in the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer you.

 

 

 

The Reality of Planning Special Activities With Your Family

In preparation for the July 4th holiday, I bought sparklers and funnel cake mix. The weekend turned out to be an incredible time, but we didn’t get the chance to use the sparklers or make the  funnel cake that I had purchased. Some of our best friends had come in for a visit and we went to out with them to several places. A few days after our friends went back home, we were all a little down. I decided to pull out the sparklers and funnel cake as a way to cheer up everyone up and do something fun as a family.

 

Special Times With the Family Happen Infrequently

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Now, don’t be deceived here, I don’t do exciting things like: pull out sparklers and make funnel cake on a regular basis. Most days, my family does the usual routine of boring things that involve cleaning, cooking, chores, and staying at home by ourselves. Often times, we can have the perception that everyone around us is having so much more fun than we are, because our Facebook feed and Pinterest pages are full of everyone showing off all the exciting things they have been doing. You can read about how Facebook was negatively affecting my relationships here. I bring this up so that you do not think that I am just another parent that has it all together and does cool things with my kids every day. Every once in a while, I decide to do something out of the ordinary with them.

 

The Honest Reality of Doing Something Special With Your Family

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There is an ugly reality of doing special things with our children that we all must face, and that is, that no one stays happy for long. Sometimes, in the midst of doing the special activity, you or your children can have a bad attitude. We have this unrealistic idea that if we put together something out of the ordinary for our children to do, that they will be overjoyed at our efforts. I am not sure about everyone else, but there is a lot of disappointment in the midst of what I have designated as fun times with my kids. If we can manage to get through the exciting activity without complaints, the second we are done with the fun times, there is plenty of whining and crying that takes place.

 

Fireworks and Funnel Cakes

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When we did fireworks and funnel cakes with the boys, they were excited about it for a few minutes. It didn’t take long for at least one of them to start getting frustrated with the situation. After each and every sparkler I handed out, they were racing to see who could have the most sparklers. The second their sparkler went out, they were running back to get another one. This of course makes them become dissatisfied because one of their brothers is ending up with more sparklers than they had. After we were done with the sparklers, we went in and I made the funnel cakes. One of my boys complained about the funnel cake the entire time he ate it. Apparently, he wasn’t as excited about funnel cake as I was. That is ok that he didn’t care for it, but I do wish he hadn’t complained constantly about how it lacked flavor or how little he had been given. Not even 10 minutes after we were done with this special night, I had whining and crying kids on my hands. Talk about a let down. This is often how things turn out.

 

How to Deal With the Disappointment of Fun Activities

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It is only natural for us as parents to desire for our children to appreciate special events and activities that they get to be a part of. So often though, our children are less satisfied than what we had hoped. My children have been downright rude to Austin and I in the midst of exciting times, or as soon as we get home. So how do you handle this ingratitude from your children? Here are a few things that I try to remember when I’m planning something special.

 

1. Know ahead of time your enthusiasm may not be shared- just go ahead and accept that your children may not have as good of a time as you hope. Not all activities will be as exciting to them as it is to you. If you change your expectations before you head out, then you won’t be as disappointed.

 

2. Keep your cool when the meltdowns begin- try and stay calm when your children are having meltdowns in the midst of a situation. If you get worked up and start demanding that they find this activity as special as you want them to, you will just become more frustrated.

 

3. Understand the emotions- all of us face disappointment during occasions that we planned to be fun. As adults, when frustrating things happen or our attitude turns sour, normally we handle it better than our children. Be reminded that your children are people and experience the same emotions that you do, but they aren’t skilled in handling them.

 

4. Commit to teaching your children to be thankful- don’t wait to be in the midst of a situation to teach your children to be thankful. The training has to take place before or after the activity. This is ongoing teaching that will take place over many years.


While your children may not be thankful for the exciting activities that you have planned, it doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. Hindsight is always 20/20, and you children will likely look back at some of these times with fond memories.They probably won’t remember being absolute brats in the midst of the event, but instead, they will remember how you loved them.