Time is what really matters

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I was having a discussion with a co-worker earlier. I told her a story about taking my daughter out for ice cream at Dairy Queen and how much we enjoyed it. This prompted her to tell me about a new custard creation at Sonic and how delicious it was. I told her it sounded intriguing and that I may just have to try that out. Then she jokingly said that my husband and I should do that for our date night.

Here’s where the conversation went from a simple exchange to something a tad more serious. She was cracking up at her “joke”. I looked at her seriously and said “why not?” And she said “Oh you wouldn’t want to go do that for your date night you need to do something much fancier than that!” I repeated my question of why not. She shrugged her shoulders and said “Oh I guess it doesn’t matter for you anymore because you’ve been married for so long.” (We’ve been married 16 almost 17 years by the way…)

I looked seriously at her and took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I should attempt to impart some wisdom to this young, single girl or not. I truly think that a lot of people are quite confused about expectations when it comes to so many things in the world today, like love/dating just to name one. My co-worker then gives me a perplexed look because my facial expressions hide nothing so she knew my brain was working overtime.

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“Let me just give you a little wisdom from a married woman who is also incredibly cool. If you truly love and care for someone it doesn’t matter where you are, or what you are doing. All that really matters is that you are together and spending time with the person you love. Whether you are at McDonald’s ordering off the value menu, or at the fanciest restaurant in Memphis … it doesn’t matter. As long as you are together with the person who means more to you than anything else.”

She then tries to argue her point with me by saying, “But if you are going out to the theatre to see a play you don’t want to go to McDonald’s or Sonic before a nice evening out like that!”

So I plead with her to see the error of her ways. “I’m serious here. Whether you are taking your private jet out for the flashiest date in the world, or both at home on the couch or in bed sick as dogs just watching TV. It wouldn’t matter if you are at a park eating PB & J and home made microwave popcorn that you brought to the park with you. All that matters is that you are spending time with the person that you love. That is ALL that matters is the time not the activity or the fanciness of any of it.”

She then looks at me and questions me again with a Really? I reassured her and told her that sometimes it’s nice to go out for a fancy night out, but even then it wouldn’t matter one bit about the fancy place or activity if my love wasn’t there to share it with me.

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Listen, all relationships have their ups and downs. However, it seems like so many marriages are failing in recent times. Divorce rates are through the roof and there are definitely times that a divorce is the right decision. But what if a lot of times divorce wasn’t the right choice? What if a simple adjustment of expectation was really what is necessary. Now I am not saying that adjustment would be a one-sided thing. A marriage is something that takes BOTH people to make it work. I am just really wondering how many marriages could possibly be saved a conversation about what each of you expect from the other person and trying to come to a compromise on some things or at the very least a realization that with a little work you might be able to save your marriage.

I have never once thought that marriage was going to be easy. I can promise you that I have learned that it is even more difficult that I thought it would be. Marriage is NOT a fairy tale and no spouse is perfect (husband or wife). We all have our flaws and that means every single marriage is flawed in one way or another. All we can do is try to communicate with each other and work towards bettering what we have with the person that we love enough to call our other half.

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Sure there are lots of things that make a marriage work or not work, but in the end what it all boils down to is time.

  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Love
  • Devotion
  • Finances
  • Careers
  • Housework
  • Kids
  • Family Obligations

This is a short list of things that come into play on a regular basis in my marriage. Not all inclusive by any means, but it gives you an idea for arguments sake. EVERY single thing on this list comes down to time. Taking the time to be there for someone other than yourself means all the world to others. Spouse’s included.

A person can’t communicate with themselves. All the people involved in a conversation have to take the time to listen and participate in the conversation so that everyone feels like they are being heard and not ignored.

Respect is something that people have to take the time to invest in with other people. Yes it isn’t just given out, but you have to put the time in to earn respect with someone and through that it helps you to gain respect in return.

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Love is shown in so many ways however, every single one of those ways takes time. Even a simple kiss on the forehead or cheek takes time away from something else that you could be doing in that moment. That moment may seem insignificant, however, taking that moment to show your love for one another can be earth shattering at certain times in your lives.

Do you see the point that I am trying to make? I doubt you all need me to continue on point by point through the list explaining it to you.

The bottom line for me is how much every single moment means. I have realized over the last few years that moments matter. Some moments are good, and others are bad. However, they ALL matter. I try to learn from the bad moments both about myself and about the other person involved in the bad moment. I can take those bad moments and try to improve how I handle myself in a similar situation when it comes up again. I can learn how to better interact with people through those bad moments too. Everyone reacts to things differently so if I need to adjust my behavior with certain people to make my experience with them better, then I can try to do that. It’s not me changing who I am, but it is me choosing to adjust. Me taking the time to make that adjustment for others could mean a world of change for myself and for all of the people around me.

We should not expect for everyone else to always live up to our expectations. We can attempt to communicate those expectations to others, however, that doesn’t mean they have to meet those expectations. What we expect from others isn’t always what those people are willing to give back to us. We have to take what is given to us from others and truly accept it for what it is. That may be the best that person can give at this present time. If their best isn’t what you expected, that doesn’t make it any less of a gesture.

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This whole thought on time for me definitely applies to my marriage, but I also believe that is applies to pretty much every aspect of my life.

Time is the greatest gift that we can give to anyone. Don’t put off the gift of your time when it comes to anyone that you love or care about. It’s too important not to lose another moment.

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The Butcher Shop in Cordova, TN: A Cut Above the Rest

My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. The kids got shipped off to their grandmother’s house for the weekend so we could enjoy some time to ourselves. We wanted to make our dinner out special so we chose to go to The Butcher Shop in Cordova, TN.

The Butcher Shop specializes in steaks. However they have lots of options on the menu if steak is not your thing. The evening that my husband and I ate there, we both chose steak to eat. However, we also enjoyed an appetizer,some wine, and a fabulous dessert. We chose the Crab Cake Remoulade for our appetizer. They cost $9, for 2 crab cakes. They were absolutely delicious! One for each of us to eat, and the flavors were so intense yet not overpowering. We each also had a salad that came with our meal. My husband went with the Ceasar salad, and I chose the house salad. They both were very well put together and fresh. For our entrees my husband chose the 14 oz fillet mignon for $29.00, and I chose the Stuffed Fillet for $26. My husband said his fillet was cooked to perfection and was one of the best he had ever eaten. My stuffed fillet, was heavenly! It was stuffed with sauteed portabello mushrooms, Gorgonzola cheese and fresh rosemary sprigs and served with Au Jus on the side. We both chose to have a baked potato for our side item. We were able to choose whatever items we wanted to go into our baked potato. My husband had his loaded, and I chose a few of my favorite fillings cheese, sour cream, butter, and bacon. The presentation of our meals was gorgeous, and most importantly they were so flavorful that we really enjoyed them. The Waiter was so helpful. My husband knew exactly what wine he wanted, however, I was unsure. The Waiter brought me one to try and when I didn’t think it was the one for me, he brought me another which I loved and chose as my wine for dinner.

Even though we were almost stuffed, we couldn’t resist asking what was on the dessert menu. The Waiter described each of the dessert items to us. They all sounded divine, however, there was one that stood out. They were offering a special dessert at that time, it was Banana’s Foster. I had never had this before, but heard it was amazing, so we ordered it and enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant while we waited. The Banana’s Foster arrived and it looked exquisite. The Butcher Shop does not light it’s Banana’s Foster, so that was one aspect of eating Banana’s Foster we did not experience. I took a bite and looked over to my husband and asked him “Where is yours?” This dessert was so amazing, I couldn’t believe it! We ate the entire dessert and then enjoyed the atmosphere a little longer while finishing up our wine.

Since it was our anniversary, we asked the Waiter to take our picture so we could remember the night forever. However, even without the picture, I don’t think we will ever forget that night. The food was amazing, the atmosphere romantic, and the service impeccable. The prices are much too high for us to eat at The Butcher Shop on a regular basis, however, I will definitely want to go back there on our next special occasion!

Holiday Visiting

I remember being a child and making coupon books for my mother for Mother’s Day. The small handmade book would have several coupons in it for things like a hug, a kiss, a clean room, breakfast in bed, and so on. My mother always loved those home made pictures and coupon books, or else she just told me she did! Now I am a grown woman and a mother myself. The thought crossed my mind as I mapped out my families plans for the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. Where is my time to relax and enjoy a quiet moment on Mother’s Day? My schedule for the holiday weekend goes a little something like this.

Friday – take the kids to school, work, clean the house, do the laundry, pick up the kids from school, make dinner, have family fun time (our Friday night ritual), get the kids to bed and any other chore that pops up.

Saturday – breakfast, get all three kids bathed and dressed, get myself bathed and dressed, drive an hour and a half to visit my mother and my grandmother for the day, drive an hour and a half back home, cook dinner, clean up, get the kids to bed and do more laundry.

Sunday – breakfast, get everyone bathed and ready again, drive an hour to visit my mother in law for the day, drive an hour back home, cook dinner, clean up, get the kids to bed, and do laundry yet again.

Where in this packed schedule is there time for me to bask in the joys of motherhood or enjoy this holiday at all? Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly looking forward to each moment that I get to spend with my mother, grandmother, and mother in law. Each of them are such wonderful women and I love them all dearly. The problem is not just with Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It is every holiday. At Christmas time it is the same thing. Days of packed schedules and no real time for our children to sit and enjoy the gifts they have received or to learn the true meaning of the holiday. We are too busy carting them from one place to another to just enjoy time together during the holiday. At Thanksgiving, we find ourselves so stuffed from eating three separate Thanksgiving dinners over the course of the weekend, that we may need to be rolled home instead of drive ourselves home.

I found holidays much simpler before I was married with children. Back then, I only had my parents and extended family to worry about seeing on any given holiday. Those were simpler times. Then I got married and that added a whole other set of parents and extended family to see on each holiday. Then you add in children that you are having to cart around with you each time you go visit anyone. You have to carry diapers, bottles, changes of clothes, baby wipes, formula, baby food, pacifiers, and whatever else your child needs to make it through a day away from home. Not to mention keeping the child entertained in the car while you drive to and from your destination, or keeping them occupied while at your destination. Luckily, I have wonderful parents and in-laws that have toys at their homes to entertain the children so we don’t have to bring something along to keep them happy at the grandparent’s house. Many people are not so lucky though. You begin to feel like you are taking your entire home with you. As you drive, thoughts start circling in your head. “Why can’t they come to visit us?” “Don’t they realize how hard it is to travel with children?” “There has to be an easier way to do this every year?”

After the whirlwind of the holiday ends, you sit down and start trying to think of a solution to make things easier the next time around. Thoughts of trading off each year and only visiting one set of family each year instead of all of them every year. Well, that isn’t fair of course. Then the family you don’t get to see that year will feel left out, and you will miss seeing them and so will your children. What about having everyone to your place instead? Well, this poses a whole other set of issues. Do you have room for everyone at your house? Would everyone be willing to travel to you instead? Every option comes to the same conclusion. This is the way it has been done for years in ‘my’ family.

I have found, there is not any real solution to this problem. Of course you feel obligated, they are your family. You love them and want to be with them and enjoy the holiday with them. They raised you and cared for you just like you are doing for your children. It is a matter of respect, love, and devotion to your family and your roots that keeps you running on every holiday. As my husband has said in years before, our parents had to travel with us when we were young, they have earned the right for us to come to them. Now it is our turn to teach our kids to not forget about their roots, and to continue loving and cherishing family even once you are grown and have a family of your own. It is an important lesson for every child to learn. At times while traveling from place to place on the holidays, I find myself frustrated and tired. The kids may be fighting in the car, or cranky and tired of riding for so long. Whatever the frustration is at that moment, I try to remember how much fun we had while visiting this time, or how much fun we will have at the next place. I try to remind my children of those things too.

Why do we feel obligated? Because that is the way it is, and I don’t think it should be any other way.

How to Avoid Sibling Rivalry

I am the mother of three great kids. It amazes me how when I am with each one individually they are so different than when the other children are with us. Sometimes it seems that I am dealing with three little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s. The problem is they are all wanting my attention and my attention gets stretched out as much as possible, but at times it still isn’t enough to go around.

I began to try to figure out ways to help fight back against sibling rivalry in our house. Here are a few tips that I have found extremely helpful!

Comparisons
Let me start off by saying that “never” is not a word that I use lightly. So when I tell you this tip, please realize how serious it is. Never compare your children to one another. This is so easy to do and not realize that you are even comparing them. Think back to the last time you told your kids to clean their rooms. One child got the job done quickly, and the other child took much longer. When you check in on the slower child, what did you say? Did you say something along the lines of, “I am so glad that you are taking your time and getting the job done the right way.” Or did your statement sound more like this, “Why is this not finished yet? Your sister/brother finished her/his room over an hour ago!” If you said something similar to the second statement, then you were comparing your kids. Even if you are the perfect parent, your children are going to compete against one another. That is inevitable, however, the better we can get at not comparing our children to one another, the less the children will feel the need to be better than the other. The best thing to remember is that each child is different and one child may be better at one task than the other, but that other child is going to be great at another task. Recognize these differences, and acknowledge that your child is doing their best at each task, or push them to strive for their best no matter what the task is! All you want is that child’s personal best, which may not necessarily be the same as your other child.

Falling into this same category, is playing favorites. This can not help any sibling rivalry situation. The only thing that playing favorites will do is make things much worse! Beware of favoring a certain child over another. Your children do notice it no matter what age they are, ad chances are they will not forget it.

Cooperate, don’t compete
Let’s use dinner as an example for this tip. I know I have children who like to dawdle at the dinner table. Instead of having the children try to beat each other to finish first, set a timer. The children can each try to beat the clock and finish eating their dinner before the time is up. This way they are not competing against each other. This works the same for picking up toys, books or clearing the table. Whatever the chore or task, this timer trick will work. Not only does it keep the children from competing, but it also helps them to cooperate with each other on many occasions. An added bonus with the timer trick, it turns just about anything into a fun activity. Cooperation works when it comes to fun projects too, not just the difficult stuff. If you are having the children make something for a holiday gift, have them all cooperate to make one gift instead of having each of them make their own gift. This way each child can use his or her own strengths and not feel like someone else did a better job.

Routine
If you find that your children are arguing at the same time each day, then it may be a time to change your daily routine. Something as simple as moving dinner up by half an hour can make a huge difference in the way your children react to one another. Making sure that you have a set schedule for your day makes children feel secure because they know when to expect meals, bath, bed, and any other activities that your family does on a daily basis.

Attention
The main reason that siblings bicker is because they want the attention of the parents. It does not matter what kind of attention they get, as long as they are getting attention. To a child, any attention is better than no attention. So a child will get attention any way that they can. Sometimes children will achieve the attention they crave in positive ways, other times in negative ways. You need to teach your children that negative attention is not the appropriate way to gain time with you as a parent. Negative actions will have negative consequences. The same must happen for positive actions, reward those with a positive reenforcement. There are always going to be circumstances when negative actions will happen. No child is perfect, and they will do bad things. This is one of the many ways that a child learns. It is our job as parents to help guide them toward making more positive choices rather than negative choices.

Family Time
An easy way to fight back against sibling rivalry is to show your children how much fun you can all have together as a family. Family time is a blast for everyone. Decide on a weekly or monthly activity that you all can enjoy as a family. It could be a ball game, a day at the park, a trip to the zoo or museum, a movie, or even a game night. See my other articles to find great ways to enjoy family time together.

Time & Space
Children need to have individual time to themselves or with a parent. Having time alone to do what they want without a sibling joining in or tagging along can change a child’s attitude around completely. I know that I need time to myself on occasion and this can be important for children as well. Each child should have their own time in their own space and not be interrupted during this time. Also, time just you and each child on an individual basis is just as important. Sometimes children are more willing to open up and discuss situations that are troubling them or even things that they are proud of if it is only you and your child. They need to have solo time with each parent so they have time to connect with each of you and feel important to each of you.

Even if you follow each of these tips, arguments will happen between siblings. The best thing to do in this situation is to sit and talk with your children about the best ways to handle conflict. This varies from one family to the next. Some families prefer children to work things out on their own, other parents want to be involved in the solutions. It all depends on which way works best for your family.

Even with sibling rivalry, my life would not be the same if I didn’t have my sister, and your children’s lives would not be without their siblings. I can’t imagine growing up all alone, without my sister. Life just would have been missing something! Arguments or not, siblings are something to be treasured and loved. Remind your kids of that when conflicts do arise. One day they will appreciate these life lessons that they were able to learn early on thanks to their siblings!

10 Great Games for Family Game Night

For the past few years, my family of 5 have had a weekly family night. I am sure we had family nights before this, but it was not necessarily a weekly occasion. This family night has become something that our children look forward to each week. We chose Friday as our night for family night. It seemed to work best for us and our schedules.

Since starting our family night, we have done a variety of things to enjoy this family time. Our favorite thing to do by far is play games! Playing games together is such a wonderful experience. It is a great time to teach your children about life, and a great time for you to learn from them as well. Here are some of our favorites.

Yahtzee
The game of Yahtzee has been around since 1956. It is a classic dice game. The object of the game is to get as many points as possible by rolling 5 dice into certain combinations. Some of these combinations are 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, full house, straights, and Yahtzee (also known as 5 of a kind). There is also another way to earn points with the dice, by rolling as many of each number at a time as possible. If you were to roll four ones, you would choose whether or not to count that as 4 of a kind, or as your score for your ones. The game is over once all of the score boxes are filled. If you do not roll a certain combination then you take a 0 for that score box. This game is by far our families favorite game to play on family night. The kids learn about numbers, counting, and winning and losing. They have a blast rolling the dice. Even our youngest enjoys the game! Amazingly, she wins most times that we play. It must be beginners luck!

Uno
This card game was introduced in 1971. You must have a special deck of cards in order to play. The deck has 4 different colors and special cards. The object of the game is simple, be the first one to use all of your cards! Just don’t forget to say “uno” when you only have one card left, or else you will have to draw two cards. This game is a great game for all ages. My almost 4 year old can play with only a little bit of help. This game can be long, so make sure you are prepared for that. last time we played I was hoping for an early night and we played Uno for several hours. It was a blast the whole time though!

Life
That is the game, of course! This game was first on the market in 1860, however was revamped to the version we all know today in 1960. This was one of my favorites when I was a child. You get in your car and literally move your way through life. You go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, the whole nine yards! It is so much fun to play with your children even when they are small. They giggle and laugh about all of the different things that The Game of Life throws their way.

Pictionary
This team play game is a blast for those families out there with artistic ability, or even families without it! Your team has to guess what you are drawing. This can be much more difficult than you would think!

Scattergories
This game is best for families with older children. The rules say it is for ages 12 and up. This is a fast paced game where you must think of items in certain categories that all start with the same letter. It seems easy, but it is actually rather difficult at times. It is so funny to hear what each team comes up with each round. I have played this game and laughed so hard I was crying. It truly is a blast for any family to play!

Charades
To play this game, you do not need to buy a special deck of cards, or even a board or dice. It is all about your own creative imagination and how well you can act out your thoughts. This is also a better game for older children. I have tried to play it with my younger ones and it seems to just frustrate them more than they enjoy it. This is another game that will have you all laughing until your sides hurt.

Battleship
I know, this seems like it is not a family game. It is originally meant for only two people. However, my family of 5 loves playing this together. We will get into teams and play against each other. The teams decide together where to place the ships and where to hit next. It really is a great game to play as a team. the game doesn’t take that long to play either so you could even play more than one round if you wanted!

Twister
This is one for everyone to get up and get moving with! It is a mat with different colors and you have to contort your body in order to put your hands and feet on the right colors without falling. The last one standing wins. Of course, many times this winds up in a big pile up which is just as much fun as winning! This also should be played with players that are all about the same size. If there is an adult falling onto a smaller child, someone could be hurt.

Sorry
The game is called “The game of sweet revenge”, it is family night need I say more? What family member won’t enjoy sabotaging another family member’s game? It is just a blast to play this tricky board game!

Jenga
A tower of toppling blocks make for a very tense time! Each player takes turns pulling out a block from the tower. as long as the tower doesn’t fall the game is still on. You make the tower fall and you lose. This game is great, because each time you play there is only one loser, so everyone else wins. Plus the game does not take a long time to play, so several rounds can be played in the same night.

No matter what game you play, whether it is one of the games I mentioned above, or some other game that your family enjoys, Family Game Night is the perfect way to spend time together as a family!

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 4

The Crock Pot Cobbler was a BIG hit! It was super delicious and I wish I had more of it ready so I could eat it again tomorrow. Definitely try that recipe!!!!!

Tonight we made Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes. Here is the recipe.

Crockpot Breakfast Potatoes Recipe

What You Need
• 4 potatoes, sliced
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 4 ounces American or cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Layer potatoes, butter, onion, bacon, cheese in crockpot. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a layer of cheese.

3. Cover crockpot and cook on low, 8-10 hours.

My hubby is incredibly excited about this one. He loves bacon and he loves potatoes. I’m pretty sure that this one will be his favorite of the whole week. We shall see what the verdict is tomorrow though! Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-potatoes.shtml for this recipe.

tune in to tomorrow night’s post for everyone’s opinions of their favorite recipe for the week.

Crock Pot Breakfast Day 2

eatwell

In yesterday’s blog post on the Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole, I promised to let you all know my kids’ opinions on the casserole. All 5 of us ate the casserole for breakfast this morning. However, only 3 out of the 5 of us liked the casserole. My older 2 kids both said the casserole tasted good, however, they didn’t like the texture of it. I think that next time I will let the bread dry out a bit before I put the casserole together. Maybe that will help with the texture issue?

Tonight I am putting together Slow Cooker Cinnamon French Toast for tomorrow morning’s Brain Food Breakfast. Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
2 16oz. loaves cinnamon swirl bread, sliced into 1/4’s and left to dry over night (or for a few hours)
1 dozen eggs
4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Spray the crock with non-stick spray! Place all the bread in the slow cooker.
Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and pour it over the bread.

Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Admire the smell while it cooks! The last 1/2 hour or so, remove the lid to let the moisture absorb some. Dust with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream and/or drizzle with syrup when serving!

Thanks to http://newbaltimore.patch.com/blog_posts/slow-cooker-cinnamon-french-toast-casserole for this recipe.

I plan to cut this recipe in half because I’m only serving the 5 of us. I can’t wait to taste it because it sounds delicious!

By the way, today was a wonderful day. The kids all feel like their first day of testing went very well. Work went well, and I had a nice break in the middle of the day. My hubby took me out for lunch! We just went to a fast food place so it wasn’t anything fancy. However, getting to spend even 30 minutes with him in the middle of the day makes a bad day better, and makes a good day great. I know, we are a mushy couple and that annoys a lot of people. We love it though. We feel so happy that we have a connection and relationship where we can show affection and enjoy each others company all of the time.

Yesterday’s tip was to enjoy the small things. Today, I am telling you not to be afraid to show love and affection to the one that you love.

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Sincerely, James

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