Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Favorites: February 26, 2016 Edition

In honor of the upcoming Oscars weekend, we're showing some love for some our movie picks over the years!

I have been quite shocked of late at the number of folks I've encountered who have NEVER seen many of these. Perhaps it's an age thing . . . I do tend to forget I'm getting older, not to mention that I am a terrible judge of age. I always peg people to be several years older than they are!

Anywho, while not all of these were Academy Award Winning, they certainly won me over! All others are somewhat forgivable if one hasn't seen, with the exception of The Princess Bride.  Truly . . . there is no excuse that I am willing to accept on this one! Hahahahahaha! And just so you are aware, I could most definitely have kept going with this list, but I restrained a bit.

I'd rather watch a movie than television, and I'll choose a comedy over a drama 99% of the time.  I can appreciate a good drama, but this body was built for laughing, and who am I to deny that!?

Grab your honey, some popcorn, and put the kids to bed early. We're going to the movies!

No excuses!  Watch THIS!

I have to watch this one when I'm home alone.  Kids and hubs hate it.  I do not, however!

How MANY times did we watch this as kids!?

Ok . . . lemme 'splain this one.  I love how kind and sweet Reese Witherspoon's character is to everyone she meets no matter their situation. Just a cute movie.

It's a classic! 

We are foodies for sure.  This one is just fun!

Hysterical!

We actually went though a period when we watched this daily for weeks on end--and not per the kids' requests. We're dorks, I know.

"Secret's in the sauce!"

I mean, what's not to love!?  This pretty much sums up every group of southern girlfriends; but then again, I'm an old soul.

Watched this while preggers with G. After she was born, when she got fussy, we'd turn it on for her to listen to . . . calmed her right down.

Yep--all of them!
--Stacey

Look for Andrea's movie selections next week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why You Need to Stop Dating Your Children



We're taking a break today from our regular Whatcha Got Wednesday Q&A to address a popular concept: dating your children.

I am, of course, referring to the ever-popular Daddy-Daughter dates and Mother-Son dates. Scroll though Pinterest or any Google search, and you'll find articles such as "15 Daddy Daughter Dates" . . . "20 Daddy Daughter Date Ideas" . . . "88 Daddy Daughter Dates" (!!!) Honestly, I think this is absurd.

Please don't misunderstand: I wholeheartedly agree with spending one-on-one time with your children and being an influence, a role model, and an loving leader. But like most popular ideas these days, we have to take a wonderful basic idea and then label it, completely overdo it, and throw off the basic order of a solid family unit.

I believe I may have mentioned that using words incorrectly just gets my knickers in a twist! When we label this one-on-one time with our children--especially our opposite sex children--as a "date," we upset the balance. To date is to suggest equal compatibility and contribution--qualities that are not appropriate in the parent-child dynamic. Yes, I get that you're not dating your child, but remember that raising an adult starts today. Part of your influence is to teach and encourage your children how to approach dating when it is time. In our home, we teach that dating is for the purpose of preparing for marriage, not just to have a "good time." Purity . . . ingrain it early! Your children will thank you later, and so will their spouses. Using the word date when it comes to one-on-one time muddies the water. And, really, why do we have to label these moments anyway? For Pete's sake, just spend time with your children naturally. Every moment doesn't require great proclamation and approval from those you choose to compare yourself to.

These "dates" also take away greatly from the marital relationship, which should be THE relationship in the home. When you use the same words to describe time with your spouse that you do with your child . . . muddy! Sadly, I have also known families that really struggle with issues of jealousy in this area. It is primarily because one or the other parent has entered into a relationship with their children and exited the one they are in with their spouse. As John Rosemond says, "You didn't vow "'Til Children Do Us Part.'" It happens time and time again. These popular notions creep in and make so much sense, make you believe you're being a good parent, and before you know it, you're two perfectly frustrated strangers raising your children and you don't know where it all went wrong.

Stop putting your children in places where your spouse belongs. 

I want my children to look forward to and desire a loving marriage that compares to no other relationship they've ever experienced. Even in the little things. If I choose to date my son or if my husband dates our daughter, we take away a bit of excitement when they finally go on the first real date. I know, I know--it's not the same thing, blah blah blah. But think about it: keeping even the small things sacred and old-fashioned is HUGE. How many times do you reflect on something small that meant the world to you?

You may hear--even in strongly conservative, Christian circles--that a father should take his daughter on a date to show her how a proper date is supposed to go. We have a better idea: let your daughter have a front-row seat in the home to how you and your spouse treat each other--daily--not just during one dressy, picture-taking evening. If your children see a loving marriage right in front of their eyes every day, then you won't have any worries about how those dating years will go.

Another thought: fast-forward to your children's future relationships with their in-laws. Do you want your daughter's husband to be a little too into his mother? Do you want THAT for her?

"Date" is just a word, but it carries a lot of weight.








Saturday, February 20, 2016

Friday Favorites: February 19, 2016 Edition

Happy Friday, everyone . . . whew, what a busy week. Here's a quick look at some of our latest loves.

Stacey's Favorites:

I'm really getting that springtime itch and feeling all kinds of happy! Recently, one of the amazing ladies in the office where my children attend school starting making some bracelets as a hobby--very Bourbon and Bowties style, but they're a fraction of the cost and equally as beautiful! I purchased my first set from her this week, and even though they totes didn't match my outfit, I felt so pretty with them on that I just went with it. Yesterday she had my second set ready for pick up. I love these!!! It may become a problem . . . .

Check out The Twisted Kat on Facebook!



In the spirit of feeling pretty, gotta have some "smell-good" (as my husband calls it). Love and Sunshine from--of course--Bath and Body Works fits the bill! I cringe because I know that they'll discontinue this scent way before I'm ready (so rude--I know you've all been there)--so my plan is to stock up in the meantime.


And although I can't wear it, my next fave definitely makes me smile. This past Christmas, my mother-in-law gave each married couple a fabulous bag o' goodies, and she included these these too-cute scrubbing sponges. (You know you're good and settled in life when a dish sponge does it for ya!) These little guys are wonderful; so many features. Who knew!? And they smile at you as you scrub away. Love, love, love.




Andrea's Favorites:

Since reaching a certain milestone birthday, I've formed a new friendship: with a dermatologist. I saw this lovely lady earlier this week, and she has me thinking about preventing a spotty, saggy, dull future (skin-wise). In light of our visit, I thought I would share some skin-related favorites this week.

Winter, with its dry air and bonus hand-washing, has wreaked havoc on my hands. They've been dry and rough and dull.

If you advise me to stop taking long, hot showers (in the middle of winter when I'm cold and usually battling some kind of respiratory funk), I will throw a wet loofah at you.

Since I've spent quite a bit of money on a new bag (I'll tell you about that another time), along with my new Bath and Body loves, the funds for the famous Mary Kay Satin Hands kit are just not available (maybe next year, Miss Mary)! I have had great luck with making my own hand scrub (using a combo of scented bath gel, olive oil, and sugar) in the past, but I recently decided to try something different:



I know. I didn't even have the decency to buy the name brand. This big tube cost me a cool $1.97. I really don't like the scent, but it's not going on my face anyway--I bought it to use as a hand scrub. I wash my hands with regular hand soap first, and then I slather this on and gently work it into my hands for at least a minute or so. After rinsing (with WARM water), I slather on my favorite hand lotion (Jergens, Curel, or a thick cream that I got as a Christmas gift). Sure, it's a poor girl's satin hands, but it gets the job done. My hands are improving (and did I mention that I have the cutest new bag) . . . .

Another low-priced product that I like is this one:


This is a foundation primer called Baby Skin. I've used the Bare Minerals primer, and I honestly can't tell the difference between the two. I use this only on days when I'm going to wear a decent amount of make-up (not very often these days . . . maybe on holiday Sundays), and it does a nice job of smoothing out pores and little oily patches in preparation for make-up. Three dots will do the job, and as infrequently as I use this, this tube will last many moons.

If I remember correctly, I believe I read about Baby Skin here:


Like Stacey, I get a weeeee bit excited when I get a new magazine. This one is one of my favorites. Do I  know who these movie stars and singers are? Heck no. (Well, maybe one or two.) But this magazine never ceases to provide advice on the best products for the money, and I love seeing new nail polish colors and trends. There are some crazy pictures here and there, but for the most part, the clothes and makeup are relatively normal. And let's face it: the magazine itself provides at least an hour's worth of sheer woman time . . . a cup of tea, a smushy pillow behind the back, and a magazine packed with girly goodness. I mean, you could throw in a load of laundry before you sit down to read, and then you might as well call the whole thing work.

Surviving winter . . . and longing for spring,

--Andrea

Thursday, February 18, 2016

TRUST: Do you know what it means?






I think we throw around phrases like “God has a plan!” and “Just trust God!” far too liberally these days. I’m a firm believer in using words in their proper context and from a point of genuine understanding and truth. I believe this so much, in fact, that I actually forbade my daughter from using the words “I’m sorry” for a period of time because she repeatedly used them incorrectly and without real meaning. (Okay . . . moments like these are probably what prompt my husband to affectionately call me "the warden.") My point is that I, too, use these phrases and am guilty of doing so without truly understanding what I am saying at times.  Trusting in Him and His divine plan often leads us to the jumping-off point in life to be overcome with peace that can only come from above . . . that which sees us through the unfathomable.

So this is my story--the path I traveled to understanding His plan--and one I have no intention of leaving.



Growing Up

I was more than blessed to have grown up in a Christian home surrounded by faith-filled extended and church family. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior at a very young age and rededicated my life to the Lord as a teenager. The believers’ language and speech have always been quite familiar and such an integral part of my everyday life. Hearing testimonials of fellow believers who were “called” to serve was quite commonplace.

Of course, my deep southern upbringing coincided with these experiences and the expectation that we are all to serve humbly and with great doses of southern hospitality! But to receive a “calling” into ministry is something different entirely, something I was sure I understood.

Then I got mine.

You see, I had spent my whole life as the child of small business owners--a childcare center, in fact. My mother was a teacher and a child at heart herself. Work ethic and contribution were instilled practically from birth, with education and matters of children and families a part of everyday living. This was especially true around the dinner table each evening. I began working in the family business at age 13 and have been working in some capacity ever since.



A Passion for Teaching

These experiences served me well and no doubt provided the best background for an Early Childhood major in college. I completed my Master’s degree in teaching and, like most first year teachers, couldn’t wait to begin shaping minds and living the idyllic one-room schoolhouse teacher scenario with nary a book out of place and a freshly polished apple each morning from adoring, knowledge-hungry students!

You are waiting for the shocking, disillusioned reality, aren’t you? Truth is, I did have a great first year (well, minus the polished apples and neat-as-a-pin classroom). I was newly married with no children of my own, so my students became “my children; they had my full attention and all of my heart. What strides were made that year! What connections! What growth! And that was just me! But, it was not meant to last.

My husband and I found out that we were expecting our first child that year (to be born in the summer, so as not to upset the school year, of course). She would be the first grandchild on my side of the family and the desire of my mother’s heart! Georgia was born in July. She was beautiful, alert, and precious beyond measure. But what should have been the most joyous and irreplaceable experience in the lives of new parents quickly turned to devastation. 



Broken Hearts

My mother, the proud new grandmother, suffered a seizure at work the day after I gave birth. The days that followed are now just a blur of doctors, surgeries, diagnoses, and talk of the brain tumor that turned our world upside down. All the while, I couldn’t be at her side . . . my mother’s side . . . my best friend’s side. We were in separate hospitals, which could just as easily have been a million miles apart. More emotions than we’ve ever known and pain that would eventually lead to strength were dispensed in large doses. 

Facing losing my mother was beyond devastating.  We had become the best of friends and she had been so excited to be becoming a Grammy Bear.  The deep sadness of knowing my children will never grow to know her and not having her here to ask questions as they grow, comes in tsunami size waves some days.  

We all go through pain here on earth, and none is like another. Age doesn’t determine what we know in this life; it’s our experiences and faith in the aftermath. At 26, my “life” had essentially just begun with newness aplenty--new wife, new teacher, new mother, new home. But by 29, I felt as though I had aged two decades. By then we had two children, my mother had gone to be with the Lord, the family's childcare business that had prepared me so well for my teaching career was now my own, and between running the business, teaching kindergarten, managing the books, and forging ahead with new construction to expand, I was nearly at the end of my lucid rope.



Losing my mother and, in turn, losing the path that I had chosen for my life, put me in a spiral of unending busyness and shallow filler. Those who know me best know my life still emits an air of “eau de on-the-go!” But this was something altogether different. I was so frantically trying to get back to a place in my life where everything made sense again and where I had purpose (of my own interpretation). I learned a lot in the years to come about priority, worth, and my own faith.

As a good southern Christian girl, I would never dream of interpreting the Lord’s intent of the experiences in my life. But I will say that in all suffering, there is hope and there is renewal, at least for me. My husband and I had been a bit inconsistent in our church attendance in the years leading up to my mother’s death. But in the months following her passing, I had a strong desire to return to my smaller childhood church family. We returned to the wise council that our pastor gave us before we married: "to grow closer to Christ will draw you closer to one another.” My husband gave his life to the Lord and found a genuine, close friendship with our pastor. Our relationship became so much more than we could have ever felt on our wedding day. My heart leaps with joy in knowing that he will spend eternity with our Lord! 

A New Path

So there I was, off my track, but discovering newness of life in our darkest hour. I’d be lying if I said returning to my home church and finding comfort in our renewed relationships was the glorious rescue from my hurt and floundering. Don’t misunderstand--I was still able to work, teach, cope, mother, and be a wife to my husband . . . ever the southern belle on the outside, but I was a “hot mess” on the inside. I did all of that and knew in my head how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to be with my own children, to be their teacher, and to be my own boss (for those of you who are self-employed, feel free to insert your thoughts here).

The problem was getting my heart to understand. Pressing on, I heeded the advice of family and others I held in high regard to take charge of my situation. I made changes within myself as an employer and teacher. Dealing with families on a large scale required much more than just tending to children and teaching them in the classroom. (The children are the easy part!) I was longing for the life I knew as a child--a tight family, a very close relationship with my mother, and happiness.

Driving in to work one day, I realized it was me; I desperately needed an attitude adjustment. I needed to quit mourning the life and plans I had had for myself. I needed to just get over myself! I needed to be in a relationship with my Savior and allow him to use me as He intended; little did I realize, He was already at work. 



Using My Gifts

What blessings I did have! What gifts I had been given! Relinquishing control is not one of my strong suits, but looking back, I found the strongest sense of control as a result of this revelation. God took control of my life in a more powerful way than I had ever experienced. Everything in my life up to that point started to make sense rather than feel to be in such disarray.

As is the case with most life-altering experiences, they come out of nowhere. Unexpected opportunities fell into place. I got the amazing chance to continue my own education and to draw on my own experience to become a certified parenting coach. Having been in the classroom for a number of years, becoming a parenting coach seemed to be a great resource to have in my line of work and an enhancement at best. (But there I go again thinking that I have it all figured out!)

Just like that first-year teacher experience so many years ago, I was eager to share with parents. And so began Happily Parenting.  Over those next few years, I rekindled a friendship from my high school days and church youth group. Andrea, in her ever graceful and passionately steadfast manner, jumped in with both feet! This unexpected partnership continues to prove Him again and again.  I am always amazed at His timing and putting people in place just when we need them.  Andrea, too, has had a couple twists and turns in the road, but those are hers to share in her own time. Together, with a tremendous behind-the-scenes support team of family and friends, we pressed on. Word began to spread, and paths that neither of us had EVER considered crossed ours; before we knew it, He was practically screaming.  It was one of those surreal moments when you realize YOU are that child taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  We all have at least one kid like that, right?



Happily Parenting . . . Happily Obeying


In the early part of last year, my husband and I sat down and really went through it.  God was calling again, and we knew we had to heed. The life that I had known (so well that it was practically my own identity) was about to change in a major way.  We announced our plans to close our childcare center. We had a full house of 120 children, dozens more waiting, seventeen employees, and all the families they were each connected to.  



“God has a plan; trust Him.” But really, God!? I just knew that I could do both. I mean, the thought of closing nearly sent me over the edge with guilt and distress for those I felt responsible to care for. But I also was experiencing peace about the decision to close. So I said, “Yes, Lord!” and I trusted Him.



It took me a bit to get my bearings after closing those doors. This was a life that I had no idea how to live, and that first Monday was far too quiet. But I was still, and I knew without a shadow of doubt we had acted in obedience. Over the next few months, I took on a long-term subbing position because I needed to fill my days--and come on, not being in the classroom was just NOT an option! But once again, God said, “No! FOCUS, daughter!” (I’m pretty sure there was a “hard-head” muttered in there somewhere too.)

So here I am, 14 years from that start of things . . . graced and supplied with all my life experiences, gifts, and talents He saw fit to use through me, and supported by those He chose just for His work.

Grounded in Biblical truths, I am thrilled to encourage parents to raise humble, God-fearing, well-behaved children.  It was my plan to forever teach children, but His plan includes reaching out to parents in order to strengthen families. So after reaching a point in my life where everything seems to have regained normalcy and my joy has returned, He smiles down and says, “Now, go do this to further My Kingdom."


As with many other times in my life, I was thrown curves aplenty. But time after time, it wasn't WHAT is around the bend, but WHO. Allowing Christ to take full control of my life and to use me as His vessel is beyond any sense of control I can muster on my own--and it is so much more fulfilling! Allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me and use me has brought more joy to my life than any path I could ever lay out on my own. Through my trials, doubts, and fears, He has proven Himself. What seemed to be an eternity has been but a blink and has brought me to the place I was meant to be!

I still have much to learn and a lot more growing to do . . . but how exciting it will be! I love what I do, I love getting to be with my own children at this time in their lives, and my identity no longer rests in me, but in Him.  I. Am. Trusting.



So that’s my story; how I came to be at this place in my life. 
Many details--some that are super sad, some that are waaay funny, and even more that are real life, you-gotta-be-kidding-me, in your face--are not included here.  Those details I’ll save (for now)! 


 –-Stacey

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Birthday Brats


 
For today's Q&A, we decided to take on the many questions we get about parties for kids. Here are the top three:  

Q:  My son is 7 years old.  Almost every other week, I find an invitation for a birthday party in his book bag. I feel bad when I say no, and I just wonder what the norm is when it comes to attending birthday parties? I'm afraid if he doesn't attend, then he won't have kids come to his own party in a few months.

Q:  What is an age-appropriate party for my 10-year-old daughter? Most of her friends seem to have something big planned; one mother even rented a hotel room with some slumber party package the hotel offered.  I don't want her to feel left out, but I'm not sure I agree with parties of this scale either. Advice?

Q:  I have always had a party of some kind for my children (4 and 6) but never did anything at their daycare. Now that my oldest is in public school, I am finding this is sort of expected, mostly by other moms. They either bring in cupcakes for the whole class or a special lunch.  Most parents also go in to eat with their children in addition to these extra celebrations. Will I hurt my son's (and eventually my daughter's) self-esteem if I choose not to do these things?

A: Whew! Well, I won't disagree that birthday parties and celebrations of any sort have gotten waaay out of hand these days. I also won't disagree that there are so many dang cute ideas and party supplies out there that taunt me personally from the aisles and my Pinterest search history. That being said, as parents we have GOT to approach birthday parties as yet another leadership parenting priority.

When it comes to most things where our children are concerned, we tend to pump ourselves up with the notion that we are doing it "for" our children--as if there will be some monumental moment of gratitude and an expression of blown-away appreciation for our weeks of preparation for said birth event. The truth is, when all is iced and done, what we usually end up with is a birthday brat  (my mother used this term many, many times while we were growing up). Between the sugar and overly stimulated party shenanigans--not to mention the expected gift bag for all those in attendance--it's no wonder they drop hard. Things have been hyped for weeks; I've known children to plan for months, and when the party ends, there's nothing left but the clean-up (to which your brat will rear his or her ugly head). 

Okay, not YOUR kid, but all those other kids, you know.

Mothers especially tend to build up in their minds this scenario in which the child is so elated and grateful to her for making that special day AWESOME, they just don't even have the words to express such gratefulness, so all that's left to do is jump right in and help clean up, get a jump start on those thank-you notes, and rub your feet after all your hard work . . . because, after all, it was FOR them.

Get real.

It was for you. Parents--Moms--often use birthdays as a measuring stick of their motherly prowess--kinda like the kid whose mother does his class project for him because how would that look coming through the parking lot with marker smudges if I let them do it themselves! Scandalous!

Again . . . all those other kids' mothers . . . not you.

I totally get the temptation to do all these things. (I haven't quite figured out the hotel slumber party thing . . . 'cause, whoa! That sort of thing gets into a whole other realm of craziness. The short answer for me would be,  LOL...no!) But the truth is, if you are a hostess by nature, have even the teensiest gift of hospitality, you almost can't help yourself! My suggestion is to channel that kind of energy and creativity into gatherings for YOUR friends and families, perhaps even as service opportunities. It's a win-win: no pinatas (can I get an amen?), no screaming through your home or venue, quality adult time, no small talk with parents you don't even know or necessarily like, and a genuine appreciation for your efforts. Too often, we look to our children for validation. Your child, whether it is a birthday party or disciplinary action, will never fully appreciate your actions until he or she is a parent dealing with the same situation. So stop looking for that from them.

Let's keep birthdays simple. The bigger the deal we make about every single thing, the bigger the brat--I'm just sayin'! Yes, it is the child's birthday, and yes, you love your child, but love does not equate to a circus-like atmosphere and strain on the home, finances, time, and, in many cases, your marriage. An in-home gathering with a few family members . . . having a friend to sleep over . . . even dinner out and a movie can be celebration enough. Let them have their day, not days. I've known many families who have two and three celebrations. What!? It is just absurd, and in 95% of those cases, the children were horribly behaved.

A word about self-esteem . . . .

When we perpetuate this notion of "high self-esteem," we are saying to our children, "You think of YOURSELF first and always, my precious babycakes."  I realize that it is very counter-culture to say that I don't want them to have a high self-esteem. What I really want is for my child to have a peaceful confidence in who Christ created him or her to be. If we want to raise our children to think of others, be humble, respectful, and of good character, then their upbringing cannot be all about them all of the time. Period.

So it isn't about each of these specific inquiries over birthday parties and events, but more about how
you view the bigger picture and how you choose to lead your children. Let your children be children, and let them enjoy moments in life that are unscripted and far less hyped. (Aren't the spontaneous moments the ones that they remember the most anyway?) A homemade cake and a few buddies in the backyard for the afternoon. Done. If you can embrace this train of thought, then you already have the answer to your questions about attending all these parties. Go to one or two a year and pass on the others. They won't need therapy, and you don't have to endure the Hades that is a loud children's birthday party. And if you want to send cupcakes to the class, send 'em. If you want to go eat lunch with your child, do it. And if you choose not to do these Mom-pressured extras, feel confident in your expressions of genuine love for your children.

No is a very simple word. I highly recommend it!

--Stacey

Do you have a question for Whatcha Got Wednesday? E-mail Stacey at swatts@happilyparenting.com or send us a message on Facebook. You're never alone in this parenting adventure; we're here for you!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pray in Their Rooms


A few years ago, I read a short article about a woman who consistently prayed for her children and listened to praise and worship music in their rooms while they were away. I liked the idea, but I remember wondering what the big deal was about their rooms—it almost seemed superstitious to me. 

I’ve changed my mind. My little one started school this year, so for the first time in many years, I’m finding myself alone in the house. And while I can pray for my children anywhere, I see this lady’s point: there’s something special about praying for them while I’m in their rooms. (I love that line from Shadowlands where Jack is talking about prayer, and he says, “It doesn’t change God; it changes me.”) 

My kids are old enough to clean their own rooms, but I still spend time in there weeding out clothes and occasionally restoring order to the drawers. I like the idea of touching my son’s toy hammer and praying that he’ll grow up to be just like his father. I put my daughter’s toy tea set away and pray that she’ll live long enough to have joyous old-lady tea parties with lifelong friends. Praying for them inside their rooms gives me perspective: it reminds me that while correcting their behavior is absolutely crucial to raising them the way I want them to turn out, it’s even more important to point them to the Lord every day. The Holy Spirit can nudge them to behave much better than I can, right? And I’m all about setting this family up for success.

I haven’t tried the music thing yet, but it’s not a bad idea. If I do happen to scare off a demon or something—well, that’s just a cherry on top.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Week Series: Ten Ways to Love Your Children



As our former pastor used to say, "You can't spoil a child by holding him and loving him. You spoil a child by withholding discipline." AMEN, and well said! There's a big difference between loving and cherishing our children and serving them and spoiling them. This week, our focus is love--the kind that produces pleasant children who will love you right back!

Ten Ways to Love Your Children
  1. Allow them to be children; in other words, you be the parents. You make major decisions in the home and allow them to be followers. You may think that you're acting in a loving and inclusive way when you allow children to help with major decisions in the home, but the truth is that you're putting a burden on them. Parents who lack solid leadership often produce anxious children.
  2. Teach them some life skills. Sure, they may enjoy playing baseball or taking a ballet class, but be sure that you're allowing them to learn to do what you do in the home. Which skill will your child need more--executing a killer pirouette or knowing how to separate darks from whites?
  3. The next time you don't feel 100%, let your children take care of you. We're not talking about major care and responsibility--but if you have a slight headache or a case of the sniffles, ask your child if he or she would like to help you feel better, and see what happens. That question can lead you to discuss anything from practical tips that they need to learn to talks about compassion and putting others' needs before your own.
  4. Lighten up when it rains. Okay, maybe not now, when it's so cold, but the next time you have a warm, balmy day that turns rainy, we think that would be the perfect time for boat racing in a big puddle.
  5. Talk about Jesus. Make Him real to them. If you have smaller children, point out a beautiful sunrise and suggest that they tell Jesus that they like His art work. Tell them that He loves to receive compliments on His hard work. Talk about Him as often as you can, and use His name. Remember that there is power in that name!
  6. Read to them. If you have older children, read from a devotion book while still sitting at the kitchen table, or read an old mystery novel together as a family.
  7. Be honest with them.  No matter what age they are, children can always tell when you're not being honest. This is especially true when you get into the bigger discussions during the pre-teen and teen years. Establish a foundation with your children so they will come to you with questions. Answer what they ask . . . but be sure you understand exactly what they're asking!
  8. Spend some one-on-one time. In our house, we have a saying: "Girls with the girls, boys with the boys." Whether meeting up at a restaurant or spending a Saturday running errands or working around the house, one-on-one gives us time to share real life lessons and model being a woman and being a man for our children.
  9. Surprise them! This one works only if your children aren't accustomed to getting something ALL. THE. TIME. When they are taught to wait for special things--even little things--they, in turn, reap the benefit of a genuine surprise. It can be as simple as a box of Cracker Jacks in their seats when you pick them up from school to as big as a quick trip to the library or local yogurt shoppe. While these may seem silly and outdated to some, children are the same as they've always been--but we have changed our approach--which, unfortunately, now includes too much stuff way too soon.
  10. Pray for them and for their future spouses. Right now your child's other half is most likely out there in some corner of the world. Whether just down the road, across the seas, or friends since birth, begin praying for them now. Pray for their purity, humility, and character, and most of all, pray that their hearts desire Christ above all else.
Praying that you're happily parenting today!

--Stacey and Andrea

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Favorites: February 12, 2016 Edition

Stacey's Favorites:

Since I love a theme, I went for all pink faves today!

First up is this cutie patootie dish drying mat! I found this at the DG (also known as the Dollar General for you city folk). When you live out in the boondocks, the DG is literally the only store around. I've got a great panty purchase story from there, but I'll save it for later! HI-larious! Anywho . . . as I began decorating for Valentine's, I wanted something a little more than an old dish towel to put down for drying dishes. While perusing the aisles, I found this one, and have really loved it! It is a sweet little decorative addition, but more importantly functions top-notch; you know, when I'm totally on my game and very June Cleaver-like wash a single dish or spoon and place it to dry.  Yeah! Those days!


Second are these two festive staples: for a while, I got really into cake decorating. I'm so not a big sweet eater, so fear of consuming the goods was never an occupational hazard. But THIS cake--oh, my. There is just something about strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing that brings out my inner pigtail self. They remind me of homemade Valentines and cherished class parties. Yum yum yum!


Last, but certainly not least, is this lil' gem. About six years ago, my sweet honey brought this home. He always jokes that he will never be able to buy me a big enough car to carry all my "stuff."  He also knows I am also ridiculously headstrong against making more than one trip (drives me nuts)!  So he got me this cute, pink, lightweight, and collapsible hand truck. It stays in the back of my 'burb and is used quite often! I love it and would be huffing and puffing without it! Forget Jared . . . my man went to Lowe's!


Andrea's Favorites:

All this talk about love this week has made me appreciate my husband even more (if that's possible)! He is husband first and then father, and that loving leadership provides a peaceful balance to our home . . . most of the time! He works hard, plays with our children, and loves us all fervently . . . he even puts up with my crush on the fictional Seeley Booth.

Bonus: he finally shaved off that stupid beard he's had since September.

Now, to celebrate this lovey-dovey week, I think red nails are in order. This one is a favorite:



OPI's "Romantically Involved." I bought a bottle of this about a week before Valentine's Day last year. When I asked the sales associate for the color I wanted, she said, "Oh, part of the Fifty Shades of Grey collection!" (Surprisingly, I actually knew what she was talking about, but only because a former Once Upon a Time character appeared in that movie . . . put me under the category of several shades of vanilla.) Anyway, offensive movie or not, I bought the polish, and it's a gorgeous red for this time of year. When everything is dead and nothing is blooming, I need a good burst of color.

How about these stinkin' cute things:



Don't you just love hair ties? Yes, I have heard many times that these are easy to make and that you can make a hundred for the cost of one pack, blah, blah, blah . . . but I have to tell you, it was pretty fast and easy to stroll into Charming Charlie's and buy a whole pack of these cuties. I loved the 90s, but scrunchies were never this fun.

So when I'm snuggled up in my sweats and my Target slippers (I now own the cream, the purple, and the pink, y'all . . . couldn't love them more) with my red nails and my Happy Heart hair ties, there's a pretty good chance I'll be under a blanket reading a good novel; this book is one of my all-time favorites:  



I've adored nearly every book that Lori Wick has ever written (I'm quite despondent about the fact that she seems to have retired from writing), but this one is my favorite of hers. This is not a fluffy romance novel (I cannot hang with those)--my books have to have some meat, and this one qualifies. Wick tells the story of an amazing woman from Czechoslovakia who moves to America and helps a grieving family heal . . . I can't tell you how much I love this beautiful book! I've read it at least three times over the years, and I think it may be time for another re-read!

Happy Friday, everyone . . . celebrate some love and friendship this weekend!

--Stacey and Andrea

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Week Series: 10 Ways to Love Your Woman

Guys, this one is for you. Your wife is hard to understand? You have trouble knowing what she wants? We're going to spell it out for you . . . enjoy!




  1. Give her details about the day that you proposed to her. Don't leave anything out . . . if you remember what you ate for lunch that day, tell her. How did the ring feel inside your pocket? Were you afraid you would lose or drop it? If you don't remember, do the best you can.
  2. Play with her hair.
  3. Plan a date night down to every detail, including care for the kids.
  4. Stand with her while she prepares dinner. Talk to her, catch up with the events of the day, and just be with her (but run interference with the kids). Let her prepare a meal with your company but without interruption.
  5. Flirt with her during the day; send a text, e-mail her, or call her.  She needs to know that she is wanted.
  6. Bring--don't send--flowers. Go to a florist and select a bouquet specifically for her taste, and then deliver them yourself.
  7. Chances are, your wife has a best friend. If you've never done so, take some time to learn about her bestie and why she's important to your wife. Ask questions and remember the answers and stories she is bound to share!
  8. Make sure she's the only woman who gets your attention; she needs to have the starring role in all of your thoughts, fantasies, and desires.  Be intentional about focusing only on her.
  9. Go out of your way to make her laugh (and be sure your kids get to witness those moments).
  10. "Slow roast your woman!" as Mark Gungor puts it. Give her some time; rub her feet, massage her back, and cuddle on the couch . . . without an "expectation" (it will blow her mind).  Just dote on her and spoil her rotten for a day or two, and the lovefest that you really want will come. It's a win-win!
--Stacey and Andrea

In addition to parenting information, did you know that Happily Parenting also offers workshops and series on enriching your marriage? Are you interested in hosting one at your church or small group? We promise solid, Biblical teaching with a LOT of laughs! Contact Andrea at afuller@happilyparenting.com.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Whatcha Got Wednesday: February 10, 2016 Edition



Q: I have two children, ages 6 and 8. I love my children very much, but I don't really like them most days. What is wrong with me? I feel like a failure as a mother!

A: First, let me say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. The only thing you have working against you is also the same thing you have going for you: you were born! Each of us--born sinners that we are--are also created in Christ's image. We love because He loves us so much so he gave his own Son for us! As parents, how many of us would be able to do such a thing? Most of us can barely fathom the thought of them sleeping over at a friend's house! As John Rosemond puts it, "We are but sinners raising sinners." While we are shooting for sainthood, obtaining wisdom in this life is full of struggle and frustration.

No doubt you love your children, and I would even go so far as to say you'd give your life for them! For most parents, that is a given, even in cases where the definition of "love" is a bit skewed. But it would be absurd to suggest that you don't relate more to one child over another and that this itself will change as they grow. It's just simple logic and personality understanding. So it makes sense that you won't necessarily "like" your children all the time. My own children and I had this very conversation once.

WHAT!?!?!? YOU TOLD YOUR KIDS YOU DON'T LIKE THEM!!!???

Yes . . . calm down . . . wait for it . . . .

My daughter asked one random afternoon driving down the road (because the big questions are never set up like an after-school special) who I loved more, her or her brother? Both were in the car, by the way; it instantly became like rapid fire as they both tried offering their best and obviously self-absorbed answer to the question in play. Ya feel me? I told her that I loved them both the same; a mother's love can't be measured, but if it could, each of their cups would be full. I was sure to include that they were two very different people . . . very reminiscent of the book I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse (I taught both of my children kindergarten and first grade, so of course I use every opportunity to interject a book reference--I can't help myself!) Like most conversations of this nature, she pressed on and on, to which I calmly and very matter-of-factly added, "But sometimes I like you different." She immediately responded with, "Like right now, you like him more cause I'm bugging you?" Bingo, little girl.

Of course, my experience with this emotional struggle is quite different from other families I've worked with. I've known parents who have tried to fight every battle for their children from day one, never held them accountable, consistency was out the window, and the resulting self-induced behavioral challenges were too numerous to mention. I've had these parents sitting before me weeping when they had finally reached the point of breaking because of the "love" they thought they were giving the child. I asked, "I bet most days you dread picking him up from childcare after work?" The mother sobbed and simply said, "Yes." She was quick to defend her love but had to admit that she didn't "like" what her son was becoming and could hardly stand to be around him. As sad as this is, it is very common. 

I don't know the depth of your situation, but if you find that you relate more to the latter scenario, step back and assess your situation. Are you stuck in a season of serving your children because you believe that "that's what good mothers do"--yet you now realize that you're raising a narcissist? If you're there, I want you to know that getting back on track is not impossible. I would love to talk with you more.

Bottom line: truly loving your children comes in your parenting attitude and how well you lead your children. When we can love them in this way, chances are we are gonna like them on most days too!

Let's talk!

--Stacey

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's Week Series: 10 Ways to Love Your Man

Continuing our series on ways to better love our loved ones, today's focus is on the men. Now, I know that we talk a lot about beauty products and recipes and laundry secrets on this blog, but we must mention that Happily Parenting has a huge male fan base . . . probably because we have a tendency to urge women to spoil their men, not their children!

So as Valentine's Day draws closer, girls, try a few of these (and add your own)!




  1. Eat something manly with him. For some reason, a lot of men get a big kick out of watching a woman eat a messy cheeseburger.
  2. Make his breakfast and/or lunch before work. This is huge in our house . . . and don't forget the love note!
  3. Flirt with him during the day via text, cards, or email.  Let him know you're thinking of him, love him, and want him. Our big strong men need to know that they're wanted, too!
  4. Sit next to him rather than across from him in a restaurant booth.  My hubby and I are often guilty of rolling our eyes at couples who do this, but every now and again we go for cheesy!
  5. Ask about his day, and then really listen and ask questions. It's not always about you. Remember that the male species is the same no matter what age, so be specific when you ask about his day. This isn't a slam against our beloved . . . just truth.
  6. Be bold . . . yeah, you know what we're talking about. Spontaneously get into the shower with him, or as he walks by, pull him into the hallway and give him an I-mean-business kiss. Husbands and wives only, y'all . . . husbands and wives.
  7.  Thank him for the things he does at home. Point out specific repairs he's done, building projects he's completed, or even items he's purchased that have made your life easier.
  8.  Don't criticize him in front of anyone--especially your children.  Rejection and negativity are detrimental to even the manliest of men.  Support them in public and at home, and provide constructive criticism in private and with a lot of love.
  9. Give him an equally loving send-off every morning and greeting every afternoon. Pucker up.
  10. Share in his interests.  Even when it is the last thing on earth you want to do, chances are it means everything to him!
Sending you lots of love this week,

--Stacey and Andrea

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Week Series: 10 Ways to Love Your Child's Teacher


For all they do for our children and ultimately for our families, let's show 'em some love, people!

  1. Find out her favorite coffee drink or breakfast treat and randomly surprise her with it.  Nothing shows some love like an unexpected warm cheese danish from Starbucks . . . mmmmm.       
  2. Take her a bottle of 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets and some hand sanitizer along with a Walgreen's gift card. You know--Plan A and Plan B during flu season.                   
  3. Say nice things about her in front of your children. Not feigned flattery, but genuine complimentary acknowledgements. Children always know when you're being real; so do teachers.
  4. Send her a pack of smiley stickers . . . because . . . stickers!
  5. A handwritten card or note to just say thank you or to recant a specific impression she made on your child always warms the heart. (We are total suckers for old-fashioned cards and notes.)
  6. Support her in front of your child, period. You will instantly become the most favored parent in all the land; teachers from far and wide will speak of you and call you by name as you pass through the hallowed halls.
  7. On special occasions, give her a gift that she'll appreciate as a woman, not as a teacher. In other words, she'd probably rather have a gift card to a fun store instead of yet another coffee mug with an apple on it.
  8. Crack a joke every now and again. Remember that she does have a life outside of school (and we teachers aren't always so starched.) Teachers are some of the wittiest folk around! Get 'em to open up. You won't be disappointed! 
  9. Ask her how you can pray for her this week. A teacher is always "on" for your little one, and often the burdens are great, but they smile right on through. Genuinely pray for her.
  10. Let her teach. She's a professional, and she definitely didn't go into the classroom for the money. Rest assured that she knows what she's doing. If she needs you (or your advice on how to run her classroom, teach the material, interpret curriculum, or handle the "other kids"), she'll call you.

***We love our male teachers, too! Insert "him" as needed!  No hate mail, please.

--Stacey and Andrea

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Valentine's Week Series: 10 Ways to Love Your Pastor


Our pastors. Oh, how we lean on them. We call them in the middle of the night to rush to the hospital with us. We e-mail them our prayer requests. We sic them on our unsaved loved ones. We go to them with head-scratching moral dilemmas.

If yours is anything like ours, he responds to all of these requests with a smile on his face and a response something to the effect of, "YES, and what else can I do?"

We can LOVE them. That's what we can do!

During this season of love, we're listing ways that we can love on our people, and our pastor is at the very top of our list. Here's hoping that you'll use these tips, add to this list, and then go bless your pastor.



  1. Make him laugh. When his phone rings, he's probably getting a complaint or a request to visit someone in the hospital. Take a few minutes to tell him something hilarious that your child did or e-mail him a funny story. 
  2. Pray for his wife . . . you'll probably never fully understand her stress and personal burdens. Pray that she'll have moments of pure joy even today.
  3. Even if you aren't a note-taker, take notes from his sermon and then make him a copy of them. He will love a real-life example of what you took from his message and how his teaching is personal to you. (PS--If your pastor is a book lover like ours and if he recommends a book, read it and tell him what you loved about it.)
  4. Make him a cake or some kind of special dessert one week before his birthday; that way you don't interfere with his private family time, but you let him know that you remember his special day. While you're at it, find out what his favorite snack is (ours loves black licorice) and bring it to him on random Sundays.
  5. Tell him thank you! A note, a call, a text, or an e-mail just to say thank you means more than you know to those shepherding their flocks 24/7.
  6. Find out when his study time is; then sneak in, put his favorite coffee or tea on his desk, and get out.
  7. Ask him what he would be if he weren't a pastor. This question would be a great way to get to know him better and to realize that he has other hopes and dreams.
  8. Buy him a gift card to a car wash--or, better yet, ask several families to chip in and have his house professionally cleaned.
  9. Don't bother him with anything on Saturdays and Sundays that can't wait until later in the week. Most pastors' wives will tell you that these two days are mentally and emotionally intense for your pastor
  10. Ask him to give you three of his prayer requests--and pray fervently for them daily!
 --Stacey and Andrea

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites: February 5, 2016 Edition

Happy Friday, everyone . . . enjoy!

Stacey's Favorites:

So one of my favorite laughter go-to's (and the one responsible for coining my favorite phrase, "Difficulty is inevitable; DRAMA is a choice!") is Anita Renfroe (seriously, I even bought the shirt). She is so unbelievably talented, funny, and so on point! For women and mothers everywhere--she's got you covered! The first time I got to see her live was at a Women of Joy conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. Of course, along with her comedy, she has numerous books and DVDs. One of her books is co-authored by her husband, who is a pastor (the fact that she was at one time a pastor's wife is quite humorous to even her!) He is now by her side as they travel the globe making women laugh in Jesus' name.

This book is one of their couples' devotionals. It stuck out to me when she spoke about the book to the crowd because she mentioned its very intimate possibilities. She told ladies who were interested in purchasing it that they would be checking for wedding rings at the book table--it was hysterical! Check it (and Anita) out at http://www.anitarenfroe.com.



I'm on a book kick this week I suppose (I love a theme . . . just can't help myself . . . ask my friends).  In thinking about Valentine's Day--my favorite holiday--I would be remiss if I didn't share this one! The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett (if you're a children's book nerd like me, it really doesn't get much cooler than these two together!) is such a sweet story of a bear couple who share their first Valentine's Day. Of course, bears always sleep through during hibernation, so clocks are set to wake up for the special day. I love the underlying theme of pure love for one another by both husband and wife. My copy is a little more than worn as it was also my mother's favorite read-aloud to her kindergartners for so many years.  Just pure sweetness!






Andrea's Favorites:

Seven years ago today, I became a mother for the first time. As with many women, I anticipated a quick and easy delivery and a short hospital stay . . . I'm sure you can guess that THAT was not the case, so I was glad to have this packed in my hospital bag:

My sweet grandmother bought me an Aimee nursing gown and matching robe. Girls, you know those promises that you hear that you know are simply not true? ("See, you'll be able to wear this bridesmaid dress again!") Well, miracle of miracles, I can tell you that their claim that you can wear these gowns long-term is true. Now, I am not willing to tell you how much weight I gained during my little boy's incubation time, but I will tell you that my size fluctuated quite dramatically and quickly after delivery, and I still love and wear this gown and robe. These sets are soft, comfortable, flattering, and forgiving. The gown is perfect for nursing (no nursing bra needed--a nursing pad stays put fine), but even now that my nursing days are in the past, the gown is still pretty and modest. By the time I had my daughter, I had acquired three of these gowns and two robes. If you are planning to have a baby or if you're looking for a gift for an expectant mother, she'll love these pretty gowns.

So now that Mr. Groundhog is ready for spring, you might be too--and if so, you'll need a bottle of this at your kitchen sink:
I was at Bath and Body Works earlier this week with the intention of buying some hand soap and a candle . . . I walked out with a heavy bag and more than $40 poorer, but I could not resist this scent. Blushing Tulips and Peonies is a clean, fresh floral that shouts a big welcome to spring. It begs you to put on a yellow dress and go sip tea on your porch. (It has a lot to say.) Besides the foaming soap, they also have this scent in the hand sanitizer.

Finally, like Stacey, I love Valentine's Day. Not only does the day provide an occasion to romance your partner, buy treats for your friends, and break up the boring mid-winter, but it also provides a great opportunity to talk to your children about love and friendship. My daughter is in kindergarten and my son is in the first grade, and both have at least one classmate who isn't a favorite to play with; yet, both children know that it's important (well, okay, it's also mandatory) that they share a Valentine card with those children. We'll be working on those cards this weekend, and we'll talk about friendship as we decorate cards.

It won't be all about them, though . . . after more than 17 years with the same man, I still dearly love to flirt with him. Here's how I do it:








Love is in the air, everyone . . . celebrate!

--Stacey and Andrea