Cutest Blog Layout

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Best Kind of Escape - Girls Getaway in the Smoky Mountains (sponsored by Visit Sevierville, TN)

We have done this for the past eight years - My college girlfriends and I make a priority of having a reunion and remembering we are more than mothers and wives, teachers, nurses, business women and keepers of our homes.  We are friends.  I am a huge fan of the girlfriend getaway!  I'm so lucky to live near Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all the fun of Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  If you are looking for adventure or a place to relax, I can vouch that this is where you need to be!  We are lucky to live nearby and visit year round, but if you can make it in the fall - come!

The first thing that comes to mind for me is fabulous outdoor fun. Whether you choose a serious and intense hike or a quiet wooded walk, you can enjoy so many local trails.

Yes, you will work up an appetite, but don't worry, there are so many delightful dining options to satisfy.  A favorite when hosting guests is the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  I've even enjoyed Christmas dinner here.

I love the chance to go shopping with my friends - who else would I trust to provide truthful feedback?  From vintage and antiques to high end apparel or outlets, your hunt will be rewarded with success!  There is such a wealth of talent that art lovers will adore the studios and galleries.

Ready for the highlight of any girls getaway?  Find yourself pampered at one of the spas.  You and your besties can enjoy a mani/pedi or indulge in an all-out pond side massage experience.  Hot stones, aromatic scents and natural elements will let you escape from everyday life and elevate your getaway to an all time high.

I am devoted to making time for friendship and I can wholeheartedly endorse our area as a fabulous place to plan a getaway.  There is something for the naturalist and the shop girl.  Whether you want to hike, shop, sleep, or enjoy some pampering, you will find the right spot in Sevierville.  Plan your trip today.

Find out more by checking out:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SeviervilleThe opinions and text are all mine.
If you are considering a visit - Don't miss these special discounts available!

Friday, October 24, 2014

More Than Just "I'm Sorry"

  • I know I'm not the only mom who insists that my children apologize after committing a wrong, an offense or even an "oops" against a sibling or friend.  But I noticed that my children were offering a brief, unsympathetic "sorry," as if inconvenienced by their own lapse.  A rushed, "Sorry."  Then the child was off to play, expecting the hurt, offended or insulted party to go on as if there was never an incident. Somehow, I had communicated that the word magically absolved the speaker of responsibility.  Hurt feelings, broken toys or wounded body parts remained.

In the worst cases, I would have two crying children: one who was genuinely hurt, the other because the hurt child wouldn't forgive.  "But I said I'm sooooorry!"  This scenario was becoming too common and I noticed a shift was needed.  

My goal was to encourage responsibility and ownership of wrongs and to foster empathy in my children.  So I began to insist on adding a phrase to the I'm sorry requirement.  I'm sorry for breaking your art project.  I'm sorry for knocking over your lego structure.  I'm sorry that I was mean with my words.  I'm sorry that I lied.  

I'm sorry + the reason that I'm sorry (responsibility) + question = Maturing Emotions 

The question point is where empathy can be developed.  What can I do to help?  Did that hurt your feelings?  Will you forgive me?  

We all want to raise empathetic and responsible children, and it is good to say "I'm sorry." But what we really want is a world of people who know what sorry means and how to show it.  For a long time, I believed the words I wanted to hear and now I know to believe the actions a person demonstrates.  In that vein of thinking, I'm teaching my own children that saying "I'm sorry" isn't the same thing as being sorry and showing it.

How do you encourage empathy in your family?  What's your experience with hearing, "I'm sorry?"  Do you make your children apologize?

PS - I'd love to know you as a reader.  Please click "Join This Site" on the right or leave a message today.  It helps so much to know you're out there!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I Love Mondays (Kind Of...)

I do adore a lazy Saturday and Sunday is my favorite - with worship to start the day and a nap usually on the agenda.  But I'm just nerdy enough to admit that I like the 'reset' of a Monday morning.  It's a fresh start, back to routine, I appreciate the order of a well-planned and predictable day.  That's what Monday means to me.

Routine, I am a slave to you.  I think it speaks about my nature and personality that I thrive on the rhythms of live more than the spontaneous highs and lows.  I often hear others bemoan the arrival of Monday morning, but for me, it's a new beginning.  I'm rested after the weekend and ready to manage the daily tasks of family, home, work and life.  It's a good thing!

These two do not share my admiration for Mondays.  What about you?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mother Matters: How to Get a Great Family Portrait

In-Studio (Sears),
Colors: Grey, Red & Denim.
Single moms, don't bypass
a family portrait!
It's that time of year where I'm looking ahead to Christmas cards and wondering which photo we'll use to include everyone and convey a message of warmth, peace and family fun.  Yeah, one photo is supposed to say all that!  I know, it's not necessary to send a physical card in this era of digital communication, but I'm a traditionalist.  I still love to give and receive the traditional holiday remembrance.

The Photographer - Who is going to take that shot?  Will you ask a family friend? Hire someone?  Set up the tripod?  This decision will impact all the other choices. I recommend the family friend route.  We all know someone who has photography as a major hobby with the equipment to provide a quality result.  It's even better is you have a family friend who is also a pro, just don't expect a discount on services.  When it's someone you and your family know, there will be a more relaxed and comfortable vibe.  Hopefully your photographer will capture the unique personality that marks your family.  Most likely, someone you know will be patient and understanding when inevitable glitches get in the way.

The Wardrobe - Coordinating colors make any group of individuals look like a unit, so working together to get a "look" is important.  No, you do not want to be too matchy-matchy and each person needs room to keep his or her own style.  The way I do it is to select a color palette and let each person choose from their own wardrobe.  I love neutrals, because they will always match your home decor.  But my favorite are rich, colorful looks with limited patterns. Still, don't be a style-nazi and if someone doesn't quite follow the guidelines, let it go.  You can always select a black and white or muted finish to help every better blend.
Taken on our Front Steps
Colors: Black, White, Khaki
The Setting - I love pictures in unique locations, downtown, industrial, gorgeous natural, etc.  But the reality for us is that to get all of us dressed and scheduled on site is tough.  Also, there is something about our own space that keeps us all more relaxed, able to grab and extra layer or adjust some erring makeup.  Gathering at home is the go-to spot for our family portraits, although someday I'd love to have a downtown photo shoot.

The Schedule - It's never easy to get everyone together!  Plan ahead, and just go for it.  Yes, somebody will likely have to miss some time with friends or get to a party late, but the photo needs to be a priority.  I'll admit, this is when I remind others of all I do for them on a daily/weekly basis and share how important this is to me.  Be considerate, but be firm and let your family know this is a big deal to you.  It's okay to care about a photo.

The Tone - Casual and Comfy?  Adventurous and Cool?  Classy and Sophisticated? Formal or Relaxed?  Let the personality of each member come through.  Even the smallest members may have a preference for what they wear.  My youngest is still in the goofy smile phase.  I don't sweat it, that's just how he is during this season (and the for the past year now).  Does your teen have wild hair? Let that shine through.  Is your middle schooler in a awkward phase?  That's okay, you will love the memory.  While your wardrobe draws you together, the tone of the photo will convey its own message.

Taken in our living room:
Colors: Maroon, Cream, Black & Denim

Recently I was talking with a friend about expectations and she shared about her last family Thanksgiving where expectations were impossibly high.  There was a large family gathering, including step parents and step siblings and a family portrait was on the schedule.  She said the photo turned out great but that she can't look at it without remembering the chaos of that day.  Don't let this be your photo story.  Plan a little, but go with the flow and strive to make even the photography experience a pleasant memory.  

Do you have a great family portrait? any horror stories? What are your thoughts when you view past pictures?  Do you send out a holiday card?  None of these are the ones we will use on our card this year, but I promise to share once I send them out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lessons Learned During My First Marriage (That Turned Out to Be Wrong)

We learn things throughout our lifetime.  Some are good lessons, some are not - sometimes we have to relearn to make up for the falsehoods that we pick up along the way.  Below are several things I thought were true, but I learned were not.  Have you had to 'relearn' anything?

1. It's better to keep the peace than prove my point.

2. Loyalty to my spouse is worth whatever losses may come.  I can't tell anyone about the trouble in my marriage.

3. Speaking my mind will create discord.

4. It's normal to feel less cherished and desirable as the years march onward.

5. Pouring myself into my children/church/job can fill the ache for intimacy.

6. As we grow and change, we will naturally grow more together.

7. It's okay (and normal) to go long stretches without sex.

8. My opinion is less valuable.

9. God values my marriage more than he values me.

10. My husband will know I love him if I keep a perfect home.