Family: Marriage & Parenting, Spiritual

Remaining Thankful, Especially When It’s Hard

November always ushers in a season of thankfulness. Everyone seems to crack down and place lots of focus on what they’re thankful about. However, what I’d like to introduce is the fact that remaining thankful – especially in hard times – is, well, hard.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can put on a nice little gratefulness show. I can smile through the pain. And I can even talk up some good encouragement. All the meanwhile, on the inside I am crumbling, stressed, and everything but thankful.

How to Deal

What do we do about this, because surely I’m not the only one that knows or feels that “acting” thankful can be overrated?? Am I right?? My suggestion is that we talk about it. We need to talk about this topic of remaining thankful, especially when it’s hard. 

I believe there are some real breakthroughs waiting to happen because we are willing to address the “why me’s” and “how could this be happenings” that often occur in life. There is also some growth in admitting that being faithful, grateful, and blessed are sometimes farther than we’d like to admit.

The Ugly Truth

Truth is, somewhere along the lines we’ve been taught to not talk about the ugly side of faith, or not being thankful or grateful. We cover it up in rehearsed reactions of fake smiles and recorded, “It’s okay’s!”. When in all actuality, no, it’s not okay. Life sucks sometimes, and there are times when we simply find it hard to have a good day, let alone a thankful one.

My Personal Suggestion

I joined in a 30 Days of Thanks blog series where I chose to talk about this very topic. My family and I are experiencing some not-so-bubbly times right now. Finding the umph to be thankful is taking A LOT of work. And I talk about it in my 30 days of thanks guest post on How to Homeschool My Child’s blog.

CLICK HERE to read my take on Remaining Thankful in the Hard Times.

While you’re there, check out the [limited time] giveaway and posts for other contributors. Oh, and I have a free printable for you over there too! 

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Family: Marriage & Parenting

We Did, And Still Do: Our Marriage Story

Although six years has flown by, I remember what it was like. I remember thinking I was ready for another serious relationship and wanting to push all chips in – as quickly as possible. This time was different. It wasn’t built on drugs, alcohol, or a delusional lifestyle.

We had an understanding, hope of a great future, and most importantly, the Most High God. Even still, I wasn’t quite prepared for what we’d endure in just six short years.

Let’s Go Get a Ring

Those were the words Bryan said one day when he came home. He poked his head in Alex’s room and said, “I’m going to marry your mother.” Then he pops into the kitchen where I was washing dishes and he said, “Let’s go get a ring.”

Of course my heart jumped and probably skipped a few beats because by this time we had been dating for almost a year and I was more than ready to say I do. I knew Bryan’s struggles, I knew his quirks, and I knew that whatever else happened would be worth it.

Same for him. He knew my issues, he new my struggles, and most of all – he saw all my baggage. Beyond all that, he still wanted to “put a ring on it.” If you ask him, he says he felt like God put him in me and Alex’s life to help make it better and (in my words) show us the true meaning of love.

And that’s when it all began…

I Wasn’t Ready

To be completely honest, Bryan knew before I would be ready to admit that I wasn’t quite ready for another relationship. I still had some sabotaging kinks that should’ve been worked out, but so did he. So I thought, “Why wait?!”

What I wasn’t ready for was how to properly handle my husband’s struggles. His struggle with pornography was one that I thought I could handle, but like most women I made it about me. I questioned what was wrong with me, if he truly loved me, and why he couldn’t stop.

I also wasn’t ready for helping him in his down moments. Instead of being the encouraging and praying helpmate, I was the belittling, trash talking wife that figured my words – no matter how harsh – would light a fire under his butt to do better.

Little did I know that my reactions and words were planting seeds that I would (much later) have to help pluck out and replant with new seeds.

Even in the midst of him showing me how to handle situations, I still chose not to pay attention. When I got angry and went “ape” (as him and the kids used to call my episodes), he remained calm and gave me space. He suggested I take drives or baths to help calm me down. But I still ignored it.

It All Changed When…

I’d say that our marriage changed once I decided that divorce, or any other ploy to fill my holes, was no longer an option. For Bryan, it (divorce) never has been. Not to say he didn’t think about it, but he never used it as a threat. He’s always (jokingly) said that even if he has to stay in the closet, he was never leaving me and our children. Even in the height of my rage and anger, wall punching, furniture throwing, and downgrading words – he said, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Things also changed once I started to realize how selfish I was – okay, still [partly] am. I love when things go my way. Surely I’m not the only one, but marriage really tests that, am I right? Then add to that four children (and one on the way), and my goodness. It seems like test after test.

Seeing our marriage through the covenant to which we vowed on also created a major shift. Just the other day Bryan was explaining the vows we took to our children – for better or for worse, through sickness and through health, for richer and for poorer…  and it brought our wedding day back to life. Those are some serious declarations that shouldn’t be taken lightly!

So, What Is Marriage?

Sure, marriage is supposed to be built on love. But that four letter word can be just as bad as some other ones we know so well (that aren’t so good to say, LOL). Marriage looks like letting your tired, hormonal and pregnant wife rest – even if that means handling the kids and fixing dinner (Bryan does that quite often).

The love in marriage looks like making your husband’s coffee and laying out his boxers because you know that’s what he likes – even when he said something to piss you off.

Marriage is when you want so desperately to say something that you know is out of line, but you choose silence (and prayer). Love between two people knows no end, but respects boundaries. This kind of love is patient, kind, apologizes, recognizes when things have changed, trusts, protects, and endures.

Bryan and I have been married six years now, and I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a thing I would change… because the truth of the matter is I would’ve changed myself a long time ago. I wouldn’t been the wife that I needed to be when he needed it most. But even still… this is marriage, and this is love. Traveling the journey together.

We did, and still do.

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Family: Marriage & Parenting, Home Education

Using Hands-On Activities to Include Dad in Learning

It’s no secret that homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular. Moms and Dads are deciding to home educate their children for a number of reasons, realizing that it’s not so bad.

For most families the question isn’t necessarily, “Should I homeschool?” The question has now become, “How do I do it, and what should I use?” Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling isn’t just for moms. And families shouldn’t feel forced to choose one set method or style.

One method that every homeschooling family can benefit from, which includes dad in the learning process, is using hands-on activities (also known as the hands-on method). The hands-on method caters to several aspects of learning,*  including:

  • increases retention
  • increases engagement
  • provides extra practice
  • accommodates to different styles
  • improves problem solving

Four Ways to Boost Learning with Hands-On Activities

Find a family-friendly resource

Whether you’re homeschooling one child or multiple children, finding resources that encourage learning for everyone is a plus. History Project Kits by Sonlight is a resource that we personally use as a way to add extra learning fun to our schedule (especially in the summer months). When you’re looking for hands-on activities, always keep unique family dynamic in mind.

Schedule a day and time to do the activity

If your family is like ours, things can get pretty busy and sometimes just down right hectic. When Bryan and I establish a set day and time to do something as a family, the plans are least likely to fall through. It also builds excitement and gives the children something to look forward to doing as family.

Improvise when necessary and have fun

Often times homeschooling parents get caught up in thinking they have to do everything by the book. Give yourself some leeway and don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit. For the medieval catapult activity we did, Bryan used a huge saw to cut one little piece (which was super funny), while I used a serrated knife. The younger children couldn’t participate in much of the building, but they were able to hold pieces. And throughout it all, everyone had a fun time!

Stretch the learning

As I mentioned before, there may be times when you’re homeschooling children who stretch across a wide age range. If you have younger children who may not have been able to participate much in the hands-on activity, consider outsourcing and using other resources to stretch the learning fun. We personally incorporate YouTube videos, Netflix, and Usborne books.

Ways to Incorporate Dad in Learning

Discuss the hands-on activity with him

Dad may need help with choosing an activity, but given the opportunity, he may just surprise you. For inspiration, give him a few choices to choose from. The History Project Kits offer a great list of activities to choose from with easy-to-read instructions and everything for completing the activity included.

Put him in charge of the activity

Men are already built with a sense of leadership, headship, and control so what better way to give dad the reigns than by putting him in control of implementing the hands-on activity for the family.

Invite him to take the learning further

This is where outsourcing comes in. Perhaps dad would like to take the children on a trip to the library and read books geared toward the topic of the hands-on activity. There is also the idea of watching a good movie or documentary with the children.

Hands-On Activities are Perfect for any Homeschool

Hands-on activities, such as Sonlight’s History Project Kits are perfect for any homeschool. If you are looking to:

  • solidify history learning
  • break up your homeschool day
  • homeschool special needs learners
  • incorporate more crafts
  • include dad in learning

then I invite you to look into the hands-on method. Use the tips and tricks listed above and you’ll be well on your way to having a hands-on learning good time… as a family.

CHIME IN: What are some ways you incorporate dad in learning? Do you use hands-on activities? If so, how and what kind?

A Look at The Huddlestons Using the Medieval Catapult activity from
World Cultures History Project Kit

Disclaimer: As an influential lifestyle blogger, occasionally companies will send us free stuff or even pay us for a review of their product. There are also times where we are paid a small percentage by affiliate links to track their sales while other times they simply send us free product to show and try. This is part of how we support our blog but please know that we only choose products that we would personally buy and recommend. This post is sponsored in one of those ways.

Family: Marriage & Parenting

4 Tips for Parenting Aggressive Kids

A guest post by Stella R.

One of the biggest challenges in life which parents face is dealing with their child’s difficult behavior. There will be many occasions when the child’s behavior makes your heart melt and go “aw”. However, there will also be many times when the little one will drive you mad.

Most importantly, if you have a young child on your hands, then he or she will probably lack the self-control to express anger and frustration, and thus lash out and create a scene.

Even though temper problems and outbursts are typical of young children, there are a few helpful tips which parents can consider to manage the tantrums from an aggressive child more efficiently.

1. Always tell your children what you expect of them

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is assuming the child knows exactly what is expected of him or her. Above all, remember to avoid falling into this trap! Children are not mind-readers and they frequently do not know how to behave in certain situations.

When it comes to optimal parenting, remember that the way you give out the instructions is just as important as what you are trying to get across. Firstly, be direct and concise. Never ask a question when you should make a clear statement! For example, you want to say “Please take out your books!” instead of “Will you stop playing games?”.

When it comes to older children, remember to stay clear when defining what you want them to do, but never appear to behave in a patronizing manner.

2. Do not give out negative attention

Every child values the attention of the main adult in their lives, and it is absolutely normal for a kid to need attention and approval. Nevertheless, seeking attention can become quite a hassle when it happens constantly. As a result, an attention-seeking child may rule over your life and misbehave whenever the chance is presented.

In fact, many children do not know how to grab their caretaker’s attention, so he or she results to misbehave. From a psychological standpoint, children value attention so much that they do not care if it is positive or negative, as long as there is a response! However, negative attention (for example spanking or shouting) may actually increase the bad behavior in the long run.

Parents who struggle with serious behavioral issues are always welcome to consult with professionals. In fact, behavior management strategies for problematic children are highly recommended in order to lessen potential anger outbursts in the future.

3. Set house rules and teach them to your children

If you struggle with setting proper house rules, then you are not alone. As a matter of fact, many struggle with putting together a list of the main household rules and letting their children be aware of them. Setting and keeping house rules are mandatory when you want to have order and discipline in your family.

Experts claim that one of the best ways to teach children what is expected of them is to make a written list (of course, if the child is old enough to read) and have it hung up somewhere in sight. Rules are a must not only to keep things in order but also to help the child feel safer and more secure at home.

Also, when the rules are crystal clear, there are fewer chances of getting into future power struggles. For example, tell your child that he or she should always pick up after himself/herself. Plus, make sure to explain what you meant by “pick up after yourself” and include simple examples. One way to do this is to have the child put his or her dishes in the dishwasher as soon as the food has been eaten. Or have your child pick up the toys after playtime has ended.

4. Teach your child that fighting is bad

Sometimes parents have to deal with children who are not only aggressive at home, but also in other environments. Even though it is not an easy task, parents need to react as soon as possible and deal with the issue. Whether it has to do with physical or verbal bullying, if the action is not dealt with, children may develop more serious issues in every aspect of life.

First of all, have a discussion with your child and understand the reasons for the inappropriate actions. Some problematic children bully for different reasons. For example, some may not be aware of the fact that children of different size, race and religion are no different from others.

Other bullies might enjoy picking on weaker pupils because they get the feeling of being powerful and important. Instead, try teaching your child to treat others with genuine respect and kindness, as well as teaching them to develop a sense of empathy. One way to do this is to involve your child in a group with children of different backgrounds.

In summary, a parent needs to establish an approach which works for the whole family. Above all, remember to give your child a secure home with loving discipline and constant supervision. Have a nice day!

CHIME IN: What are some ways you promote appropriate behavior while parenting an aggressive child? Share with us in the comments below!


Stella Ryne is an art historian, traveller, conscious consumer and a proud mother. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book. She’s deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable living and sustainable travel will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. Stay in touch with Stella via Twitter and  Facebook.



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Family: Marriage & Parenting

4 Organization Tips for Kids’ Closets

We all know just how chaotic our children’s room can be. There are toys everywhere, and there’s always a spill of one thing or another. Even after you’ve tidied up, it never seems to stay neat and orderly for too long. However, with a bit of planning, we make it all the more straightforward to keep it in tip-top condition.

If all the room is neatly organized, it’ll be much more difficult for a child or anyone else to turn the room upside down. While we work hard to keep the room clean, what about the closet? Below, I run through a few organization tips for your child’s closet space.

What Are They Wearing?

Your child will likely have a lot of clothes, shoes, and so on, but when you really think about it, how many of these pieces do they wear on any given week? In all likelihood, there will be a third that’s worn in summer, a third that’s worn in winter, and a third that’s worn in the in between periods. You’ll find it much easier to organize the closet if you’re not trying to cram all their clothes into their closet, but rather just the clothes they’ll realistically wear in the coming months. For the rest, put them in a box and store them away until they’re needed.

Making the Space

Of course, this is all good and well if you already have a fair amount of closet space. But what if you don’t? What if you haven’t upgraded their wardrobe since they were babies, when their clothes were much smaller? Now’s the time to get a little smart, and create more space in the bedroom. One smart action is to convert a bookcase into a closet system. It’s easier than it sounds, yet will give the room some much-needed storage. To make space elsewhere, take a look around the room, and if anything doesn’t need to be there, then get rid of it. It’s always a good idea to have a clear out every now and again.

Smart Organization

There’s a correct way to organize clothes. First and foremost, it should be ordered by category. This has benefits that exceed making it easier to find, say, a t-shirt when it comes to getting dressed. If everyone belongs in its right place, then you and your child will be much more likely to keep things tidy. It’s oddly satisfying to be in a room where everything is sitting exactly where it belongs.

Can They Reach?

Keep in mind that you’ll need to ensure that your child can reach their clothes. It’s all good and well creating a system for the clothes based on what you can reach, but this isn’t your room — it’s theirs. If needed, take a look at adding a little stool so they can reach the top shelves — they’ll be more inclined to put things back if it’s easier for them to do so.

And there we have it. Get organizing now, and you can achieve the unthinkable: a clean and tidy children’s bedroom!

CHIME IN: How do you keep your kiddos’ closets organized? Share in the comments below!