Monday, July 29, 2013

Eleven Years and Counting

As I am on the threshold of my eleventh anniversary I thought a little excerpt from my book would pay good tribute to our life and our love together. This is my story.

As I lay in bed with sleepy eyes and little motivation to rise from my slumber, I couldn’t help but
notice my husband still asleep next to me and think, “Why don’t I want to make him a special dinner, go on a date with him, or be romantic?” As I pondered these questions, I wondered, “What happened to our happily ever after?” It seemed like just yesterday that I was gazing at my ‘soon to be’ with total devotion—almost to the point of worshiping him. In my eyes, he had been perfect and so handsome. I had twirled in my flowing white dress and felt like a princess. I had smiled that everlasting smile, the smile that lasts through the wedding, the luncheon, and the reception. It was the kind of smile that made your cheeks hurt just as much as your feet. I had breathed in the beauty of that lovely day, and had let a tear roll down my cheek. I had thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I had never imagined someone could love me so deeply, and I had never imagined those feelings would ever fade.

As the pace of life quickened, our waistlines began to expand, our hairlines began to recede, and the stress of life began to creep in. As our children joined our lives, our bed became the communal sleep fortress for our children and we forgot what it was like to have a solid night of rest. We would blow a kiss and holler an ‘I love you’ as we passed through the portal of our home. There seemed to be a constant time lapse between us and we could never land ourselves in the same place at the same time. My happily ever after was quickly transforming into a heap of work, and I found myself thinking, “This is not what I signed up for—this is not how I pictured happily ever after.” Then I realized, maybe this is what I signed up for and I just don’t know how to make my ever after happy. I began to wonder, if perhaps it is possible to have a happily ever after, even when my white picket fence is broken, my ‘beautiful’ lawn is dead, and my children are less than angelic. 

Family life is like riding the white rickety roller coaster at the amusement park, the one you are sure is going to tumble down before you finish the ride. Your journey begins when you make a commitment and jump into the roller coaster. It is so exhilarating to strap your belt on, clasp hands with the one you love, and begin the climb. As you get to know each other, you discover he leaves hair shavings in the sink and she leaves makeup powder on the counter. You climb to the first peak with butterflies in your stomach. You have no idea what to expect, but you hope once you get to the top, the hardest part will be over. It is both horrifying and thrilling at the same time. You roll over the apex and a nonsensical ride looms before you. You realize in that tiny moment it is not going to be the smooth coast to the end that you imagined.

Through all the ups and downs, twists and bends, you will eventually and unexpectedly find yourself back at the beginning. You will be left where you started with only the two of you in your slowing cart, thinking to yourself, “What a ride!As you survey the panorama of your life while squeezing the hand of the one you love so deeply, you will find in the end you are an entirely altered person, a better person. You are better because you held tighter when things were hard, you sacrificed, and you let love overpower all obstacles. You are delighted you jumped in the cart so many years before and realize your happiness wasn’t found in your destination but rather in the crazy ride.

I have found my happily ever after is doing dishes with my husband and simply being happy to do it, sliding down a mountain on my bum and ripping a hole in my pants while my husband laughs at me because I’m too scared to walk down. It is watching my kids splash in the pool, their deep, carefree laughs filling the air. It is waking up Christmas morning to a house full of balloons, or lying on my husband’s shoulder feeling safe and protected. It is the joy that engulfs me when my family knows I love them, and the peace that comes from knowing how much they love me. This is not the ever after I imagined years ago, as the satin folds of my white sparkling princess dress twirled around me and I was lost in my husband’s brown eyes. Nor is it what I imagined during our short honeymoon bliss. This is better because this is real. 

Happy Anniversary Hon! This is my favorite ride! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strong Parents Foster Strong Families

There has been a controversial article floating around that I just had give my two scents about. The article questions whether or not it is okay for parents to go on trips or get-aways without their children. As per my last post you probablly have a good idea of where I stand on that issue. Let me say it one more time. We didn't marry our spouse to have children, we married them because we wanted to be with them.  With that said, I don't think every trip or fun adventure we have should be without our children, they will always be important, but they don't need to come along every time. You are not a bad parent because you want to be alone and make memories with your spouse. In fact I would say that is very healthy.

Spending quality happy time with our spouse plays a big factor in how happy our relationships are. How happy our relationships are play a big role in how happy our children are. Our children see how we interact as a couple. They watch when we steal a kiss, they cower when we berate our spouse, they feel safe when their parents embrace or hold hands.

Many years ago I worked at a YMCA day camp. One of the children's parents was having terrible relationship problems, and everything about this sweet little girl manifested her parents marital issues. She didn't want to play with other friends, she was scared she would never see her dad, and all of her artwork centered around her parents troubles. I spoke with the mother about my concern and she simply told me her daughter was fine, and I think she really believed it. That summer I spent more time with that womans daughter than she did ,and I guarantee you her parents relationship was like a weight around her neck. I don't know the details of this relationship and I'm sure both of her parents were experiencing great turmoil and likely doing the best they knew how with the situation they were in. I only share this story to magnify the point that a husband and wife's relationship most definately affects their children and the over all happiness of their family.

Do you think this girl would have been angry or sad if her parents took a vacation without her, if she knew it was brining them closer together? Do you think she would be happier if instead of yelling they were sweetly enjoying a magnificent sunset on the beach? Maybe they just needed some intimacy. (They definately couldn't be doing that with her around). Children are so wonderful and so draining. Believe me, I have four. They are more important to me than life itself and I want them to be happy and I want them to grow up in a happy home. I know that to accomplish my goal my husband and I need to be happy together.

I know that life and especially relationships aren't perfect or easy. I know that spouses aren't always honest and faithful and that going on dates and trips won't solve every problem, but I really believe it makes a difference. Sometimes I just need to enjoy my husband as Bryce not Dad and sometimes he just needs me to be Michelle for him, not Mom.
Just a heads up, previously I have been posting 3 times a week and though I have enjoyed it, it takes a bit too much time from my family. I have chosen  to post just once a week, (every Monday) with occasional suprises. Thank you for following this blog. I hope it really does help your family to be happier.

Friday, July 19, 2013

One Of My Favorite Things...Date Night

Simply put, I didn't marry husband to have kids, I married him because I loved him. I married him because I enjoy being with him. I married him because he's a little goofy and though often his jokes don't make me laugh he does. Now if this is the case, if I want to keep the love alive, there is a key event that must take place in my life, date night. Date night has a special place in my heart. It is most definately one of my favorite things! Without it my happily ever after isn't quite right.

As I mentioned in my book Family Ever After, your spouse should be at the top of`your priority list. You started your journey with them and when the kids are grown and gone it will just be you and your husband. If you don't keep your love alive, what joy will there be? What relationship will you have? Even if your road is a littly rocky right now, remember that it was right when you married your spouse and even if there are problems at the moment it doesn't mean that suddenly your marriage is wrong. The relationship may simply be in need of some renewal. Start with date night. After all, your relationship likely began and bloomed by spending time together, I suggest it will continue to blossom if you keep spending time together.

Here are a few ideas to help your date nights to be succesful.

1. Schedule a time once a week that doesn't change. This makes it so you can plan for babysitters, be home from work, or buy tickets for events you want to attend etc. If the time must change be sure to reschedule or get back on track the next week.
2. DON'T talk about kids or money on your date. These are important things that you can talk about another time. This time is just for the two of you to enjoy.
3. Take turns planning what you will do for your date. One week is his and one is hers and neither can complain or opt out of the other person's choice.
4. Be creative. Dinner and a movie will get old fast. You could go fishing, hit it out at the batting cages, tour a candy factory, take an art class together, go to your favorite teams football game, or have a picnic at the park. Sometimes we just want to stay home, so we bribe our kids with treats and a movie in their rooms and pay them to stay in there.
5. At least once a year go on an over nighter or weekend date.

I challange you all to go on a date this weekend and make it a habit. If it's not perfect try try again. I would love to hear how it goes!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Four Tips To Get Rid Of The Nail

It’s Not About the Nail—have you seen it? I saw this clip and exploded with laughter, because, let’s face it; it’s true, maybe a bit dramatic but true non-the-less. So often in our relationships we choose to hang onto habits, stress, regret, anger and who knows what else. A good talk always helps but repetition of that same discussion rarely gets us anywhere. In fact sometimes it can come between husbands and wives.

Husbands and wives are the perfect sound board. When we have problems of any kind we should be able to go to our spouse for a good vent, a good cry, and yes, good counsel. After all, your spouse knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else and sometimes they really can see the blatantly obvious nail that you are oblivious to. I’m not talking just to the wives here, because this is definitely a two way street.

Here are a few tips to get the nail out whether you’re male or female

1. Listen to your spouse. When someone feels safe they are more willing to take the needed steps to change.

2. Let go of Pride. Your spouse almost always has your best interest at heart. If they see something you could change, improve, or act on, don’t get mad. It’s natural to want to fix something that is causing pain to someone you love. Take a good magnified view of yourself and ask yourself if their counsel is good.

3. Take action. Obviously nothing will change or improve if you do nothing.

4. Love no matter what. If your spouse doesn’t take your well intentioned advice love them anyway. If your spouse won’t stop telling you to pull the nail when you don’t want to, love them anyway. Real progression comes with real love.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Little Sunflower Goes a Long Way

 I leaned over to my daughter's friend and whispered, "do you like my flowers?" She peeked past me to the bright bouquet on the table and nodded a timid yes. "My husband gave those to me...because I was mad at him." She looked at me and giggled. "I liked them so much I forgave him." I said.  She gave me a weird look and kept eating potato chips.

My daughter had a her tonsils and adenoids out along with tubes put in. She was exceptionally needy and in pain and by the end of the week I was feeling burned out. My husband called me on his way home from work. As we spoke, he was not appeasing my desires and I shamefully admit that I hung up on him. I don't usually do things like that, but when I do it makes him really mad. I was expecting a few words when he came home, but was surprised by the vibrant sunflower bouquet. The minute I saw them I was already appreciating their beauty, and feeling a little guilty for my ornery nature. In fact I pretty much forgave him immediately.

I can't say I really deserved that bouquet as I was mostly the one being unreasonable, but my husband changed everything by giving it to me. Instead of being upset at me he loved me. Instead of arguing about who was right, wrong, or ornery he bought me flowers.

Every now and again we need a good reminder in the way we solve conflict. Next time you have a tiff with your spouse, instead of looking for a way to be right, look for the flowers. Find a way to forgive, show love, and relieve their burden. My husband knew I was tired, he knew I hadn't had a full nights rest for a week, neither had he, but he didn't use that as an excuse. He simply showed compassion. When conflict does arise the solution is rarely found in more conflict. It's usually found in love, patience and forgiveness.

Thanks for the flowers hon!

Friday, July 5, 2013

5 Tips for Families to be Happy Now

Check out my article at, 5 Tips for Families to Be Happy Now. If you and your family need a little pick me up, something to cheer you up and enjoy family life, or just something to think about, this article is for you. They are simple tips if implemented that can dramatically improve your family happiness. If you have any other great tips, I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hiking in the Desert

There is one fabulous thing about living in Utah. The mountains. There is always great hiking. My kids and I have been thoroughly enjoying some desert hikes. This particular hike was up to the P (stands for Payson). My youngest, Jackson 2 and Julia 4 walked the entire hike. I did have to bribe them with a few snacks and water but we made it!

Our Adventure Begins

Ella felt like an explorer crawling up the P, Daniel brought his sling shot and did away with some spiders, Julia loved blowing the giant dandelion seeds and Jackson was thrilled every time he got to throw a rock at something. I was just happy to be outside doing something fun with my kids.

It didn't get steep until we reached the base of the P.
Then we were all adventurous and climbed up, and of course what goes up must slide back down on their bums.

I challenge you all to find a mountain, a trail, a path and follow it up with the family. Making family memories and being apart of something doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to be time consuming or crafty, it just needs to happen. Usually before we leave on one of our adventures or do a cheap indoor craft or game one of my kids is complaining that they don't want to do it, but they are always happy afterwards. Do something this Holiday weekend with your family that is outdoors and just enjoy one another. Life moves too fast not to.

Back at the car, dirty, hot, and happy! Go do something fun with your family!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Every Discipline Deserves a Hug

I admit I am not the best at disciplining. I sometimes feel like it's the bain of my existence. When you have kids it's a constant and unpleasant job. Nevertheless it is important. As my daughter was standing in the kitchen, tears running down her face, anger crinkling her cute nose, and poision coming from her sweet mouth I was at a loss. Do I yell, lighten the punishment, make the punishment more severe, or simply hold my position.

To appease curiousity I will tell you what this was all about. Bedtime. I don't know why kids don't like going to bed. Personally it is my favorite time of the day. Sometimes I barely make it to my bed before I collapse. So why do I have to threaten my children every night? My Ella is a good girl who Loves to read, especially at bed time.  I also love to read and love for her to read but not at the expense of her health. She would stay up all night reading and that is not an exageration. She tries to convince me that she should be able to read, because in her words, "reading is not bad and makes you smarter." To this I say, "balance in all things, go to bed., or you have to go to bed 1 minute earlier tomorrow for every minute you stay up past your bed time." You are now officially cought up in our story.

Back to our scene in the kitchen. That was the moment I reminded Ella she had to go to bed an hour early because she stayed up an hour past lights out the night before. She was livid. I knew things were only going to escalate unless I did something drastic. I grabbed her, pulled her in, and gave her a bear hug. I had no idea how she would respond but it was the best I could come up with, and it worked. Thank heavens! Her anger melted away in my arms and she hugged me back. We just stood there for a moment. I told her I loved her, then let her know we were sticking with the consequence and that she needed to go to bed. She was still very unpleased about the discipline but she was calm, she went to bed, and she knew I loved her.

Not all of our disciplines end up this way. Sometimes they're better and somtimes way worse, but I am a firm believer that if every discipline involves a heart felt hug, both parent and child will be happier and will feel more love for each other. If you can't squeeze the hug in the middle because emotions are high wait until you or your children are calm but don't forget the hug and the 'I love you.' It makes all the difference.