Important Holiday Sanity Tips

Need some help keeping your sanity?

With the Holidays upon us, life is about to get very hectic for us Parents. As a Mother to one, and Aunt to six, I’ve learned a thing or two about survival during this trying time.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind that can help you get through the Holiday season.

 

Itineraries Are Awesome

And in my opinion, highly necessary. You are going to have enough going on with planning family trips, scheduling shopping excursions, keeping children entertained with crafts, and checking on Aunt Molly in the nursing home. It’s super easy to forget things.

Important Sanity Tips For The Holidays

Keep a Holiday Calendar and record EVERYTHING you plan on doing for the next few months, even if it’s just taking an hour to cut little pieces of construction paper into turkeys. It will help you keep things in perspective, not overwhelm and double-book yourself, and keep your schedule on track. You might think this is silly, but when you discover that you’re late to Grandma’s for pre-Christmas Day gift exchange, your hands are covered in glue, and you still haven’t bought your brother a gift, you’ll wish you had kept a scheduled list.

And with schedules in mind, that brings us to…

 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Yes, you have a huge calendar to keep everything perfectly recorded in detail; Visit the Grandparent’s at 2pm, followed by an hour of Christmas shopping before your Daughter’s recital at 5, then just before bedtime for the littles, you’ll decorate the tree. Once the kids go down, there’s about 30 mins before the youngest wakes up for a drink of water, in which during that time you can work on the office Secret Santa list. And at some point before you pass out from exhaustion, you’ll actually clean the garage for the New Year’s Eve Party ….remember; you can’t commit to everything.

The holidays are meant for family, and if you simply have full day after full day planned out, then skip a few office parties and social gatherings with that couple down the street (who have three dogs and no children). There’s no shame in it, and it will give you more down time at home to rest, and catch up on necessities-like cooking and cleaning.  One big tip I took full advantage of with a 5 month old…

 

The Internet Is Your Friend

You can totally do all your holiday shopping online – and really should! Avoid the malls and shopping centers altogether, and (usually) get a better deal, money-wise.

Cyber Monday follows Thanksgiving, so instead of fighting over stuff on Black Friday, stay at home and shop in your jammies. And Amazon Prime…hello?! Enjoy the free shipping and never leave the house. Basically, everything’s in boxes anyway, so you can just shove all that crap somewhere in the house and wait to wrap it. Then you don’t have children hunting down their presents for a sneak peek.  And with gifts in mind, let’s remember…

 

Keep The Big Gifts To Yourself

Or rather, make them “from” yourself-don’t give the Fat Man all the credit. Santa doesn’t have to bring all the gifts come Christmas time. Let him have given out the clothes and small toys. Let the big gifts, like expensive toys and electronics, have come from you (the parent) and other family members. Why? It’s hard explaining to children why Santa discriminates when it comes to presents. And it isn’t fair when the Jolly Fat Guy decides one child can have the newest “Hot Toy” of the year, and another can’t (because their parent’s simply can’t afford it ).

I’m not saying that if you can get your children the biggest, most expensive things, not to do it-I’m just saying to put your own name on the tag, not Santa. Because kids naturally talk, and then they can at least give that well deserved credit where it’s really due – and hopefully, save some hurt feelings that inevitably, will happen.

Hopefully some of these little reminders can help you get through the season. What’s some things that help you out during the Holiday Season?

 

Handy tips to help keep you sane during the Holidays!

Traveling With A Newborn? 5 Feeding Tips


Traveling with a Newborn?

The holidays are upon us! For most families, this means travel. And if you have a newborn in tow, this can sometimes be a more lengthy (and difficult) process.
The Honest Company, reminded me of the trips we took with my son, while he was a newborn. It isn’t easy, but here’s a few things I learned along the way.
Also, check out these great resources from The Honest Company that can help you, be it breast or bottle, with great products to help you feed your baby! Supplements, boosters for your supply, nipple creams, bibs…they have it all!
But when preparing for Thanksgiving or Christmas vacations, consider these tips that I used, for those long trips in the car…

Plan extra time for feedings

I exclusively breastfed my son, but this applies to everything – breast, bottle, or tube. You have to allow a certain amount of time for feedings. it’s important to know your baby’s routine, and plan accordingly. If they feed for an hour (every hour!), and the drive will be at least two hours long, then you have an idea of a timeframe.
Plan to strike out early. My son cluster fed like clockwork-so we left an hour early, and after the first session, he would be good until we reached our destination.

Comfort is key

Because we chose travel by car, I tried making things as comfortable as possible for me, and my newborn baby. Snuggly blankets, a neck pillow for Mom, space arranged in the back seat for optimal room (avoiding claustrophobia) – whatever it takes to ensure you and your child will be comfy during these stops. Traveling is hard on babies, and the easier you can make it on your baby (and yourself!), the better. And if traveling by automobile, remember you can sometimes…

Get Out Of The Car

We are lucky enough to live right on the Georgia/Florida border. So we never encounter snow! But if you are able to on a nice weather day, consider parking at a rest stop with a nice picnic area, and vacate the car. It will help you to refresh yourself and stretch your legs. And give your baby a different environment for a short change. My son was always a very active eater, and enjoyed looking around until the “milk sleep” took over. Plus, being outside the car for a bit should help you, and your partner, from loathing the car ride to the cousins who just have to live 3 hours away. Something to keep in mind while packing up for the trip, though…

Make A List Of Supplies, And Check Twice

Lists are super handy for all the little details. make sure you have everything you will need for feedings, and at least one extra item (if possible) on hand. Be it bottle, nipples, nursing covers, breast pads, gas drops…make sure that you have backups of anything that can get dirty, or can’t immediately be re-used without proper cleaning. You may not find yourself stopped at a place that will have access to water and soap (that you will feel comfortable using your baby items with), and you don’t want to add more time to your trip (spent washing things).
Pack just enough (not everything!) of the necessities that will get you to your destination, which at that point you can sterilize and clean. Because when baby needs to eat-baby needs to eat! And you’ll want to get back on the road ASAP.
But in the grand scheme of everything, always remember…

Take It Easy

Traveling is hard on anyone, including being stuck in a car for a few hours. Especially hard on newborn babies. The less stress you endure with the preparation, and execution of your trip, the better the ride will be for your child. Children feed off their surrounding energy – if you are calm and collected, it will rub off on them! So relax as much as possible, take moments to stretch your legs and smell the roses (or, at least, fresh air as opposed to the little tree freshener hanging from the rearview mirror), and make life easier on yourself by not rushing. The ride will be a lot more enjoyable for you, and baby!

Check out the feeding resources page on The Honest Company’s site for some awesome products that can help you nourish your little one, and as always, be safe while traveling this holiday season! And many thanks to The Honest Company, for inspiring this conversation amongst mothers! it’s important that we, as a collective, support each other with our experiences!

If you’re looking for more holiday posts, check out this linkup as well!

5 Feeding Tips For Traveling With A newborn

Hey, I Want To Know…

This is a new roundup series with a twist: I’m going to ask some fellow Bloggers a few fun questions, just to see what they think! I love reading blogs as much as I do writing them, and what better way to get to know someone? Follow us at the end of each month to see their answers, and be sure to check out some of these great blogs while you’re at it!


Dicia – It’s My Mommy Life Now

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Blog | Instagram |Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
I hate to admit this, but my favorite thing to wear in cool, fall weather is my red hoodie and my yoga pants. I homeschool my 9 year old and I’m always chasing after my two year old. I’m usually in something comfy. Oh and I can’t forget my socks and my sneakers. If I go out, I may end up in jeans and a t-shirt, but I still have my sneakers on.

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now?
Since I have two boys whose taste is completely different. I’ll list them by boy.
Kaeden (9) – Minecraft on PS3, fourwheeling, and Pokemon Go.
Karsen (2) – The movie Home on netflix, trucks and cars, trains, mommy, and food.

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
Cheering him up depends on why he is feeling down. Usually I will try to crack some perverted joke, get him to talk about it, hug him, tell him I love him and how much he means to me, and if nothing else works, then I make him food, lay in bed with him, and rub his back.

Sarah – Get Mom Balanced

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Blog | Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
I love a good pair of skinny jeans and a cute sweatshirt: Maybe something with a zipper or a cute detail at the neckline. I’m pretty simple and love basics that I can throw on. Shoes are always my challenge- I’m a flip flop girl and my feet got bigger with my last pregnancy so I’m on the hunt for new fall shoes!! 

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now? 
My 4yo son LOVES Lego. He loves to get sets and build them, and then play with what he’s built. He can sit and look at the instruction books over and over and also wants to look at sets on the computer and videos of people building!! He wants to go to Target just to look at the sets. Obsession is an understatement for him!! My 1yo guy loves throwing balls. He’s simple like that- give him a ball, toss it back and forth and that kiddo is happy!

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?Thankfully, my hubby is pretty easy going and doesn’t get down often, but the way to help him unwind or get out of a funk would be to have some delicious food. So that means I won’t be cooking it! We’d be going out to dinner because I am also simple in my cooking and he is more of a foodie. So, a great meal with beer or wine and my hubby is happy! 

Melissa – Baby Castan On Board

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Blog | Instagram | Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
Fall is by far my favorite season. The air is crisp, the holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to break out the sweaters, scarves, and boots! Not to mention all the flannel and denim that is in style for the season 🙂 

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now?
I have a nine-month-old so he is really obsessed with standing, walking and crawling. He loves putting something in front of himself and then when he reaches it pushes it a little further. He is so proud of himself. It’s the cutest thing!

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
The way to a man’s heart is food right? I like to take my husband out to eat, or sometimes I cook for him.

Tajuana – Healthy & Fit

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Blog | Instagram

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?  
Cardigans!!! Every color 🙂

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now? ***
Eek, I don’t have human children, yet I have fur babies. My cats are obsessed with hiding in boxes and eating paper.   ***(Fur babies count! -Jasmine)
3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
I like to leave my partner alone when they are not in the best mood because I would make it worse hehe, So I just let them have their space and when they’re ready they come back to life.

Michele – The Domestic Realist

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Blog | Instagram | Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
A hooded sweatshirt. I love putting my hands in the pockets and digging them in deep to warm my hands when it gets cool. Putting one on makes it officially feel like Fall! I especially enjoy wearing one around a firepit (with a cold beverage in hand!). 

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now?
My 3yo is obsessed with picnics right now. She likes to have us sit on the floor and she pulls the food out of her hair. I’m not why it comes out of her hair but I just go with it! There are always sandwiches, apples, napkins, and cookies! My kind of picnic! 

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
Wait until he is ready to talk about it. Men are different from woman, and my husband doesn’t always admit something is wrong until he is ready to. So after 5 years of marriage, I’ve learned to just wait until he let’s me know he is feeling down. Then I cheer him up by making extra effort to focus on him. Whether that is turning off devices and talking or getting a sitter for a night out, I make the effort I can. 

Brittany – Follow The Dyers

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Blog | Instagram | Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
So, we live currently live in Bangkok, Thailand, and the weather her is always warm. I love it so much, but sometimes I miss out on the Fall weather. Not too much though, because I LOVE the warm weather. One of the biggest things I miss in the Fall though is all things leaves. When I was a kid, I used to love to play in the leaves and make crafts with them. I miss seeing the colors of the leaves on the trees change, too. There are so many things you can do with the leaves once they are off the trees too! 

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now?
In Bangkok, they don’t really have many birthday party supplies, it’s just not something they do here, so we pretty much plan our birthday parties at least 6 months in advance because we buy the majority of our birthday party supplies when we visit the States. With that being said, my son had a Dinosaur birthday party this year and is still obsessed with everything dinosaur! My daughter is having a Hello Kitty birthday party next month and is obsessed with everything Hello Kitty! I’m sure the obsession will change in a few months when we start to determine what kind of parties they will have next year!

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
Usually, I just let him talk. Is that boring? Maybe I should look for other suggestions…what do you do when your husband is feeling down?

Julie Hoag – Julie Hoag Writer

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Blog | Instagram | Twitter

1: What’s your favorite thing to wear in cool, Fall weather?
I like jeans and my sweatshirt with my kids’ team logo on it. I also love the winter lined Crocs.  On warmer days I love to pull out the capris.

2: What’s your child(ren) obsessed with right now? 
My oldest son is obsessed with football. He plays it, watches it, and even participates in fantasy football with his friends. My middle son plays football too but he doesn’t watch the professionals play. He just enjoys playing the game. My middle son is very creative. He really loves to make things and watches videos online for ideas. He takes the ideas and makes his own twist on it. For example, he saw a launcher online made from a Gatorade bottle (top cut off), the ring from the Gatorade, and a cut balloon. He took the launcher to the deck and launched cheese balls. It was a genius idea because they were so light and airy they just soared all the way across the yard. My youngest son loves soccer right now. He is playing on a team and he is the most aggressive player. He really gets into it and very rarely does a ball get past him when he is goalie. He plays soccer in the front yard with friends. He’s obsessed with playing anything outside. My kids love Halloween and they are already making plans to make it the best Halloween they can this year. I love to write humor posts about life with three boys. I also write about being a mother, parenting, youth sports, anything kid related and pet related.

3: When your partner is feeling down, how do you cheer them up?
I surprise him with his favorite meat to grill on his Green Egg grill which is his obsession right now. He is so into being a grilling chef that he installed a spice rack for grilling spices in our basement. The Green Egg grill is a ceramic dark green egg shaped grill that can be used all year because it retains heat so well. He uses the all year long even in the cold winter. We are quite the pair because he loves meat and I’m a vegetarian, so I have developed some recipes I am posting on my website to accommodate myself as a vegetarian as well as the meat eaters who make up the rest of my family. Today my husband is grilling pork ribs on his Green Egg grill and my boys can’t wait to eat! I also buy him a specialty beer that he has never tried before to surprise him sometimes. 

Check out the great blogs above and come back each month to learn more about these bloggers!

 heyi-want-to-know

5 Reasons I Love/Hate Breastfeeding


This post contains affiliate links, but all views are 100% my own. I also don’t endorse products unless I absolutely love them and have used them myself.

So, to commemorate our breastfeeding journey that is going on 14 months strong, I have compiled my list of 5 reasons it absolutely sucks…and why it’s also awesome, at the same time!

It’s not an easy feat for any mother to accomplish-and many can’t, due to production issues and a variety of other causes. But, it did come somewhat naturally to us, for which I am very grateful. But that doesn’t mean I still can’t be frustrated from time to time. Which brings us to our first reason…

1. It’s time consuming…
Especially in the first few weeks (or even months!) when Baby is cluster feeding. You’re pretty much confined to one area for X amount of time. Some mothers are super-duper multitaskers and can do a lot of things while feeding, but I still can’t. Nope-when Bruce wants to nurse, we sit down and make a meal out of it. I learned early on if I tried walking through the store with him in a wrap, that boob was eventually going to come out, and then we have other issues, like for instance….

2. Leakage…
At first, if we didn’t nurse every two hours at the most, my shirt was soaked (if not squirting across the room with let-down). And every time we did nurse, I would have so much engorgement in the other breast, that ounces would be wasted on those nifty reusable pads that are absolute must for every breastfeeding mother. Bruce also has a habit of leaving the tap running if he pulls off quickly. But, there’s hope… a milk-saver is a life saver! You’re able to save all the let-down and use for extra feedings, milk baths, or freezing. And it will save you from a wet top. I really loved the Milkies Milk Saver for catching all the extra milk. It fit inside all my nursing bras, and bruce was able to get sometimes an extra 16 ounces by how much i was producing. It saved my laundry as well. For those times when we couldn’t use the Milk Saver, we went with these awesome Organic Bamboo nursing pads-so absorbent, and the best part? Reusable!


3. Nursing bras are the worst

I hate a very special hate for nursing bras. I always get mine tangled, the pads inside become wonky, and it’s usually a hassle for the less-coordinated like myself, to snap them back up very fast.It’s hard to find cute ones (or maybe I’m just picky…actually, I know I’m picky) and they don’t always accommodate every outfit. It took a while but I did finally come across some that I can deal with…removeable pads, easy to breathe material, and best part? Affordable!

4. Your body isn’t necessarily your own…
As I mentioned with the time consumption, be prepared that your breasts, aren’t really yours for a time-they belong to the baby. To be used whenever necessary, needed, wanted, or even just out of boredom. Breastfed babies love their boobs! Naturally, they will want them a lot-and when they do, you’ll know it. Sometimes even at the worst times. My son has tried pulling my top down in enough stores to confirm this.
5.  Some people are NOT pro-breastfeeding…
It’s sad, but it is true. Yes, there are laws in place that allow you to feed anywhere, with or without a cover, but it’s still a pretty taboo thing in today’s society. Nearly every day there is another report of a mother being shamed into a back room, bathroom stall, or asked to leave an establishment entirely, because she is trying to nurse her child. This makes most breastfeeding mothers anxious and angry, especially if like my child, their’s refuses to use a cover. I’m the first to whip it out whenever necessary to provide sustenance for my child (my “give a f*ck list” is incredibly short), but that still doesn’t mean I’d like to try avoiding confrontation with the small minded.
…but all these things aside, here’s my top 5 reasons it’s also, like, the best thing ever….
5. You have downtime (and an excuse to excuse yourself)
The time you’ll spend lounging on the couch (or in bed) while nursing will give you ample time to catch up on social media, binge-watch youtube, or even read a book. That’s after you’ve talked to your baby, sang to them, told all those stories you’ve been waiting to tell a little one since you learned you were pregnant. Whatever it takes to keep you from going stir-crazy while sitting in one spot. And in an awkward social situation, like visiting relatives, when you really want to get out of a conversation-the baby will magically need to nurse!
4. It helps you build a schedule
At least, it helped me. Even with cluster feeding, my son pretty much nursed about the same time throughout the day. So we got into a routine of nursing, napping, nursing, playing, nursing…you get the picture. Especially with a newborn, everything about your life will begin to revolve around baby and on his schedule. So let it help you rebuild yours.
3. Your boobs will look amazing!
If like me, you’ve been mostly small chested your whole life, you will love this phase of life where you look amazing in anything you wear (although you’ll probably go for breastfeeding friendly clothes most the time). It’s natures boob-job and so much more cost-efficient than a real one. Just enjoy them while they last…
2. Your body is doing something incredible!
While your baby has pretty much taken it over since conception, keep in mind that what you’re doing while nursing, is a pretty awesome thing. You’re providing the most nourishing, natural way for your child to grow and develop, and that’s a wonderful feat. There are a lot of women who, biologically, just don’t have the means to produce (and really want to!) and here you are-just doing it! Doing what women have done literally since the dawn of time, to ensure their offsprings survival (in the days before formula). Not to mention just how healthy breast milk is for your child, providing vitamins and nutrients still not synthetically developed or available in formula. And you are bonding with your child like only you and your baby can. Cherish these times, if anything, for those who cannot.
And the number one reason (I think) that despite all the annoying inconveniences, breast feeding is still the best thing ever…
1. If you choose to breastfeed, you will find an overwhelming amount of support
Yes, there’s always those people who will *try* to shame you and for some reason, don’t like to see it (or know that mothers do it), but there is actually a great support system surrounding breastfeeding. Entire groups and organizations built for the sole purpose of education, encouragement, and providing resources to help facilitate all your breastfeeding needs. One of my personal favorites, with a local league in nearly every town, is the La Leche League. Just by talking to fellow mamas who are going down the same path in terms of feeding their baby, you can find a lot of great advice, and support amongst peers. Breastfeeding is becoming increasingly more accepted with all the awareness spread by these groups, and fellow mother’s as well.
This list was written with humor, but all joking aside-I’m not bashing formula (or tube) feeding in any way, shape, or form. But honestly, breastfeeding can suck. It can be tedious, annoying, inconvenient, frustrating, and downright a pain (and I haven’t even touched on sore, cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis, or the disappointment of spilling 12 ounces of pumped milk that took an hour to get out).
But I believe it is worth all the tears to be able to provide what I feel is the best nutrition for my child, and to take part in one of the best bonding experiences we were ever able to have together. The pros really do outweigh all the cons.
Do you agree with these lists? What’s some of the downfalls (or upsides?) you have experienced as a nursing mom?
 5 Things I Love & Hate About Breastfeeding

 

Making A Marriage


The following is a guest post by Brittany Dyer on the topic of Marriage. Marriage, including making one work, means something different to us all. I love her take on the subject, and I hope you do too! Don’t forget to check out her website, Follow The Dyers

My husband and I have been married for 9 years this month. We have 2 beautiful children, ages 2 and 3. Yes, crazy, I know! My background is counseling, but I am currently a stay-at-home mama and pastor’s wife, originally from Tennessee, currently residing in Bangkok Thailand. We love this crazy journey and crazy marriage God has given us.

My husband and I have decided to make marriage a priority. First is God, then comes our marriage. We even place our marriage above our children. With children, this concept is a challenge, however, especially with littles because they are always wanting attention, but we know if we have a solid marriage, then our children will feel more loved and have a good example of what marriage and stability looks like. If my “wife cup” is full, then I will be better able to love my children. Therefore, marriage is our #2 priority in our lives right behind our relationship with God.

How do we keep our marriage solid? Well, we access our needs. We determine what we need from the other partner to feel loved. Despite what some people seem to believe, people evolve, and, therefore, so does marriage. I believe it is a good idea to access your marital needs about once a year to make sure your needs are being met in appropriate ways. This list should not be exhaustive and long, but maybe list the top 3 things each of you needs in your marriage and work toward meeting those few needs well. For example, my Love Language is physical touch, so I need affection from my husband. That need would be discussed when we talk about our marital needs. Let’s be real ladies, our husbands need sex, so be prepared for that one to be on his list! Not only does sex help men feel loved like affection does for women, but they are biologically created for and need sex. Commit to each other to work on these top 3 needs in your marriage, no matter what it is the other person needs.

We try to compliment each other often. Providing compliments builds up the other person’s confidence and self-esteem. It also allows them to feel loved, so make sure you are investing in your marriage by complimenting your spouse!

We talk about our issues. This concept is not always easy, but we try to come to a compromise on issues we fight about, and sometimes getting it off one’s chest can just make you feel better. By talking about a problem, we can usually come to some sort of a conclusion to move on and not continue to be upset about it in the future. This idea is not always foolproof, but we try!

We do not use the past against each other. We do not bring up arguments in the past in order to hurt one another. We do not bring up things in each other’s past that will cut each other deeply. We give each other grace, and we move on after an argument is resolved, and our marriage remains much happier because of it!

We remember the good times. We remember that trip to Florida we went on when we were dating to watch the UT/Florida Game, where I traveled and slept in a hotel room with 3 other guys and never told my family about it. We remember leaving our wedding and driving 1 ½ hours and all the craziness that went along with that drive (think lubricant all over the entire car-thanks to my husband’s buddies!). We remember the good times often and try not to get so caught up in the negative moments of life.

My husband and I keep our marriage exciting by allowing it to be adventurous. We invest in our marriage by going on dates, vacation and doing spontaneous things, even with our children in tow. In addition to the spontaneous things we do, we also have traditions that make life more fun because of the things we look forward to doing. Excitement and adventure keep marriage fun!

We try to forget expectations others place on us. The world places some pretty harsh expectations on marriages. Fairy tales, television sitcoms and romantic comedies all place this ideal man or ideal woman in our head that are completely unrealistic. It is important to realize these are television shows and movies for a reason-they are NOT real life! We have to accept our husbands for who they are and leave the expectations in the movies! Otherwise, we place unrealistic standards and expectations on our husbands that will always leave them falling short to achieve, and we will always be disappointed.

For all of the reasons, I remain secure in my marriage. We can overcome any difficulty in our marriage with the information given above. Enjoy and happy marriages!

Brittany is a pastor’s wife, living in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a former counselor, and now a SAHM to two wonderful children. You can read her blog, about Christianity and Parenting, at her site, Follow The Dyers.

Brittany talks about making her marriage a priority, how to keep things interesting, and overcoming unrealistic expectations