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A blog to support, encourage, and mentor at home moms in all aspects of home making and family life.

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Men Are Simple Creatures

Men Are Simple Creatures.

That's not an insult.  Men are simple creatures!  If only we women were as straight forward as men, the world would be a much easier place to live!

When I was getting married my mother-in-law told me, "Men are simple creatures, feed them, respect them and love them, and they're happy."  We've been married twenty-eight years now, and almost 3 decades I wouldn't disagree with her.

A dear friend recently reminded me of a very instructive and insightful book, that I had read years earlier, on the topic of understanding and living with our husbands,  Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands."  Now whether you remember Dr. Laura from her radio show, which aired from 2000 - 2010, and whether or not you're a fan, (many people found her abrasive), you can't dispute, the woman had some good points.  Basic, straight to the point, unvarnished and often offensively delivered - insightful advice.  Personally I prefer her in written form, because I like what she has to say, but not how she says it.

In the portion I'm reading currently, a caller to her radio program, who is happily married describes her husband and her marriage;

"Men really are not as complicated as we think they should be.  Men love to hear that their woman is happy and that they are the source of this happiness.  Men deserve the same respect you would show a visitor in your home - even more…  I always thank my husband for working so hard for us, and I encourage the kids to do so too.  

Men are grumpy when they are tired or hungry.  Anything they say while they are in either one of these states is not to be taken seriously.

Men don't like it when women talk about them behind their backs.  Men are not your 'daddies,' they are your contemporaries and get stressed and scared about things just like you do…  Men have dreams too, and it doesn't matter if it's logical or not, don't walk all over them. 

(I'm not saying) we don't have problems - everyone does - but it's a lot easier to work them out with a man who knows you love and respect him." 

If you're new to marriage or are still learning how to speak man, trust me, this is very sound advice.  Simply put, he has certain ways of saying and understanding things, he has certain needs, if they're met, and he feels loved and respected, he'll be happy, and love you devotedly.

To go through them;

He means what he says  ~ No more, no less.  It's highly unlikely that there is a hidden agenda in what your husband is telling you.  "I don't thinking I'm going to want to go out Friday night."  Probably means he has a busy week and knows he's going to be tired by the weekend, and just wants to stay home with you and watch Netflix.  It probably does not mean, "I know you're going to want to go out with your best friend and her husband, I don't like her, and he's a blow hard, so I'm pre-emptively telling you that I don't want to go out, so I won't have to go out with them."  He didn't say that.  He didn't mean that.  He's not trying to ruin your social life or drive a wedge between you and your friends, he's just tired.  Take it at that, and move on.

He does not understand what you think was implied.   ~  If you need to pick something up on the way out to dinner, say to him, "I need to pick something up on the way to dinner, can we leave an extra 10 minutes early?"  Not, "We need milk for the morning," and then get annoyed when he's still on the couch, not dressed for dinner, 20 minutes early.  Leaving the house tonight, and milk at breakfast have no correlation in his mind, in fact, even though he'll probably nod when you tell him, in his mind he's thinking, what does milk have to do with anything right now???

If it takes 10 minutes to get to dinner, and all he needs to do is change and brush his teeth, he's not getting off the couch until 12 minutes before you have to be out the door.  Men like things simple, specific, clear.  Remember "implied" is not in his vernacular.

Respect is how men receive love.   ~   The bible says, "Men love your wives, women respect your husbands."  I've heard it said that this is because respect is how men receive love.  Remember, your husband is not another one of your children.  He's not to be nagged and scolded, or for you to roll your eyes at.  Ever, but especially not in front of your children.  Nothing will crush a man's spirit quicker, and drive his affections away from you, than disrespecting him.  

Treat him with respect.  Honour his way of hearing and understanding what you are trying to say, and you'll get a lot farther.  Honour the unique, masculine things he brings to the marriage, these things are not to be forgotten or taken for grated, anymore than the talents and gifts you contribute should be.  He is a man, not a bumbling cartoon character who needs to you guide him through life, honour him, treat him like he's valuable and with respect, this is his love language.

Feed him.  ~   If you're a full time at home mother, or even if you work part time but the home is your responsibility, so is the food.  This is not to be taken as insulting or demeaning.  Cooking is not a slam against you or a commentary on your value as a human being.  It's simply a daily requirement of every home, one that takes an inordinate amount of planning, shopping, prepping, labour and clean up.  Schedule time for this.  If dinner didn't just fall out of the fridge yesterday, it's highly unlikely it will tomorrow.   

With the internet being common place, there has never been more available information on the subject of meal planning, efficient grocery shopping techniques, meal preparation and nutrition.  With all the crockpot "dump dinners" and suggestions for menu planning on Pinerest, and every possible celebrity chef posting their recipes on line, there is absolutely no excuse for claiming ignorance when it comes to providing timely, nutritional meals for your husband and family.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are just going to keep happening day after day, best not to live in denial and just get a handle on it.

And please don't ask your husband to "just pick a few things up," on his way home.  The shopping, as well as the cooking is your job, not his, he has a job and I'm guessing he doesn't call you up to come help him out with it.  Make a list of the things you need on an on going basis and keep them stocked, if you're out of milk, then you need to plan better.  Make  notes of the meals you're going to need this week and schedule your time accordingly.  Feeding not only you husband, but your family, keeps everyone happy.  

Men like sex.  You're married.  Have sex with your husband.  ~  The end.  Don't act like it's a bother.  Don't always be too tired.  Don't have a get it over with attitude.  I knew a woman who said, "I tell my husband, 'Just put my nightie down when you're done.'"  They're divorced now.  No.  I'm not blaming their divorce on her attitude in this one part of their marriage, there were many issues, but it was certainly a tell tale symptom of how far she'd gone from understanding, or caring, about what is important to a man.  If you have to, schedule sex.  Now, personally I find that rather insulting and unromantic.  "I know you want it, and I'm too busy to be bothered, but put it on the calendar and I'll oblige you."  But that doesn't mean you can't decide, silently in your own mind, that it's been too long and you really need to make sure it happens within the next 24 hours, and plan your evening around it.  It also let's you mentally unwind, so you can be emotionally present, and not just rush into bed still frantic from everything you had going on right before hand.  

Sex is a big part of a man's level of happiness and satisfaction in marriage and life, don't fall into the habit of belittling this very real need.

And that's it.  The end of my men are simple post.  Plain and simple.


Oh, and Dr. Laura also mentions in her book, that in all her years of hosting and counselling, not one man has ever said he was offended to be called "simple."  :)




Bring Back The Breakfast Table!!

I say bring back the breakfast table!

Recent wisdom tells us that we need to return to eating dinner together.  There a countless articles and studies showing the many benefits of eating dinner together around a table (sans devices or TV).  Here are a few listed in an article from Health Magazine;

"A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber..." says Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School."

The article goes on;

"Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them…  This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents.  

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report. "While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it]," says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report’s researchers, and the center’s vice president and director of special projects."

The article also mentions an experiment, where a group preschoolers were presented with sweet red bell pepper everyday for 5 days and told they could eat as much as they liked, by the end of the week, the children were eating more of it, and more children said they liked it by day 5, than at the beginning of the week - so, as indicated in this article, if you have a fussy eater, by simply exposing them to the same healthy foods over and over, incents them to eat more healthfully, and to do so more willingly. 

So if we get all these benefits from eating together in the evening, wouldn't it make sense to assume that families would also benefit from sitting down together in the morning?

Now I say this, and suggest this, from the far side of parenting.  My girls are grown, and have families of their own.  I also need to confess here, that I am decidedly not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination - in my defence I have an auto immune disease that makes me exceptionally tired, so there's that…  But!  What if!  In a perfect world, we sat down to breakfast together??  Before work or school.  Is this totally undoable in the modern age???  I don't know.  

When the girls were little, they would sit at the table and I would give them their their cold cereal, orange slices and orange juice while I stood making their school lunches.  I don't think this really counts as "together," but I did know what, and if, they were eating before school, and they could talk to me while they ate, again, I can't vouch for my responses, because you know - morning.  When they became teenagers, breakfast became smoothies they drank in the car.  

But when I look back on those years, I often wonder, 'Why on earth didn't I have oatmeal in the crockpot each night???'  Seriously!  How hard would it have been?  I know I would have eaten some, as I was usually the one going without breakfast, racing around until we rush off to the car for school.  But what if there was oatmeal in the crockpot.  Raisins, nuts and brown sugar on the table - set out the night before maybe?  Grab the milk out of the fridge and you're golden!  Mother of the year stuff there!

So why aren't we doing this?  Or are you?  And if so, what does that look like?  In a realistic, practical way? 

I'm a huge proponent of dinner together, in fact the idea of raising a family without sitting down to dinner each night, is completely foreign to me.  We did it with our girls, and growing up my family always ate dinner together.  How else do you get teenagers to ever leave their rooms???  Or hear about their day?  Or tell them about yours.  Dinner is one of the few occasions where families get actual face to face time, with nothing else in front of them.

But what my parents didn't do, and, as I've confessed, I never really mastered with my own kids, was the breakfast table.  When I was little, and we would visit my grandparents, we would sit down to hot Red River Cereal, as much brown sugar as we wanted, and my Grandpa would read the bible to us, every morning.  It was dreamy!  Heavenly!  Okay the bible reading sometimes went on a little long and was mostly over my head, but the whole ceremony of sitting together as we began the day was so lovely, and…  calming.   Calming?  Yup, that's the right word, but at the same time when we finished I always felt I had been given a good start.  That I was ready to go.  And to be honest, I think it was a huge influence in my belief in starting the morning with God's Word, as few and far as between those visits were.  It just goes to show the power of example, as my Grandpa was simply doing what he always did, he wasn't trying to indoctrinate or impress us.

So, I am - somewhat hypocritically, suggesting, that you plan, not only for dinner as a family, but breakfast - quick and frantic as it may be.  Bring back the not only dinner together, but breakfast too!  Bring back the breakfast table!!  Looking back I wish I had.







The Thing I Disliked The Most About Motherhood

The thing I disliked the most about motherhood?

Being rushed.




From the minute they were born.  Waking up to their frantic, hungry cries.  "Hurry!  Feed me!!  I'm about to die of hunger!  HURRY!!!!  GET UPPPPPPPPP!!!"

To the countless years of school mornings.  From pre-school to graduation.  Get them up, get them dressed, do their hair, get them fed, stop fooling around, hurry up!!!  Eat!!!  Come here, I need to wipe your face.  Stop it.  No, it doesn't hurt.  Get your shoes on.  Where's your backpack?  What do you mean you forgot your lunch?!!  I just packed it for you and told you it was on the counter!  Now we're going to be late.

To the moment at the end of the day, when you've just put your feet up and turned on the TV and now they need a ride somewhere, or to be picked up from somewhere.  And so you hop in the car, and rush out to get them, hoping to get at least an hour in front of the TV before you pass out from exhaustion.

And you know what?  It never let up.  Not until the day they each married.  Literally right up to that day.  Get up!  Hurry!  We've got hair, and make up, and photos!  

And then they moved out.  

And it was quiet.



It was weird.  And I ached for the busyness of a family.  I ached for it for a long time.  I missed them.  I missed the commotion.

But now I don't.  

Now I love the slowness of my empty nest, retired full-time mom, life!  Slowness is my absolute favourite thing about empty nest!  The ability to set my own pace and my own schedule.  And the knowledge that at the end of the day, when my husband and I lay out on the couches to watch Survivor, that no one will interrupt us.  We can just lay there until we decide to haul ourselves off to bed!  And when our little grand daughters come over to play, that's all we have to do.  Play!  I don't have to make sure they…..  fill in any of the thousand and one things you young moms have to make sure your kids do in the course of each day.  Or when I want to snuggle my newest grand-love, my baby boyfriend Skipper, I can pop over and sit on the couch and just snuggle.  And listen to him coo, and look into his beautiful, baby eyes, while his mom takes advantage of the time to race around, tidying the kitchen, finishing up computer work, flipping loads of laundry.  Because she's rushed.  Of course she is.  She's a full-time mom!

But I'm not.  So I'm not.

Young mom's take heart.  You're busy.  We know that.  All of us who raised you, before you were raising them, recognize that.  

And know this.  It's not going to let up.  You know how you think; 'When they go to kindergarten, I'm going to…'  Ya, that's probably not going to happen.  Because there's never as much free time as you think there's going to be.  There will always be something, some demand, some unexpected errand, that takes longer, and requires more attention, than you had expected.  But you know what else?  You'll miss it when these days are over.  You'll miss being the hub.  The centre of your family's life.  The one who kept all the balls in the air.  And know this too.  When that day comes, and your house is quiet, that it's okay.  It's nice.  It's weird at first, but, there's a whole other stage waiting for you.  A stage that's much more about you!  So rush around.  Keep everybody on track.  It's tiring, I know.  Very tiring.  But enjoy these rushed years.  Try to steal moments in the midst of it, and breath in the blissful chaos of family life.  Because one day you'll be where I am, and then it will be your turn to rest.


A Blessing For Your Grandchildren

As many of you know, I'm quite in love with being a Grammy to my grandchildren, and how devestatingly heartbroken I was at the loss of our fourth little one, Goldie Bloom.  Who I will write about one day, but today is not that day...

Today I wanted to share with you a blessing.  For our newest baby love, Skipper Augustine Menzel.  Born on my 48th birthday, the most wonderful birthday gift I have, or ever will, receive, and the answer to tearful, heartfelt and anxious prayers.

This is something I've done for each of our little ones, and if you're a grandparent, it's is something I encourage you to do.  It's been a wonderful blessing to me as I've thought through writing personalized blessings for each of our grandchildren, and something their mother's can keep, and each child can look back on as they grow.  A legacy of love and faith, they can carry with them, and over them, for their entire lives.

Presented to Skipper and his Mommy, at his baby shower this March ~


Skipper Augustine Menzel,

You are the fifth of my beloved grandchildren.  Having you in our family is an answer to earnest and heartfelt prayers.  Yours was a conception we barely dared pray for, and your gustation was one that tried our ability, yet again, to rest and trust, in God's goodness, as we waited anxiously for your birth.

We're a family that has been tested, and tried, and who have found God to be steadfastly faithful in both our sorrow and our joy.  And to speak of your birth without recognizing all that God has faithfully walked us through would be ungrateful.  We know better than most what a tender and precarious miracle each new little life is, and so we thank and praise our God for giving you to us, strong and healthy and oh so beautiful.  You, little boy,  have brought a light back into your mother's eyes.

And so my darling baby boy, my blessing over you is;

May you grow in strength and stature.  

May you be blessed with health and safety.  

May you always bring joy to your parents, and to this whole family.  

May you come to know the Lord early, use the strength of your youth to serve Him, and despite this culture, keep yourself pure.  

May you establish a home and family honouring to Lord, one to whom you will be unwaveringly faithful, and lead well.  

May you love, fear and serve our God all your life and find wisdom in the frequent reading of His Word.  

May you be an example to other men and bring pride to your parents.  

May you find rest and peace in your old age, and die, full of years, surrounded by those you love.

We pray these things over you this day, my precious grandson.

With love and prayers,
Your Grammy

Skipper's birth
Chatty Skipper 



In Favour of Marrying Young

To Brady on his wedding day~

There's something very special about witnessing the kids you watched grow up, marry.

Today, our very dear friends, are celebrating the first wedding of their three boys.  Their middle son, Braden, will marry his long time girlfriend, Hannah.  And they couldn't be more excited.  

They're darling.  Exactly what you hope a young couple will be.  Starry eyed, innocent, optimistic.  They both live at home with their parents, and after today, will move into their first place together.  They will, as the saying goes, "Begin a life together."

And this is what has become so rare, and in my opinion, is still so special.  To begin together.  

We did it, our parents did it, and our own girls did it.  We began life the day we married.  None of us owned homes, or even condos.  We didn't have our careers all settled; Braden is still a student, Hannah a dental hygienist.  Our furniture was bought, during our engagement, during weekly, very exciting trips to Ikea, because that was what we could afford.  And any pieces that hadn't originated in Sweden were hand-me-downs from our parents.  Every stitch of cook wear, every dish, cookie sheet, knives, forks, everything - had been given to us at bridal showers along the way.  And the day we arrived home from our honeymoon, we went straight to my parents' house to open our wedding gifts so we would have sheets to sleep on that night, hoping someone had filled that registry request.

I often talk to 23 years olds, who are madly in love, who tell me that they're waiting to, "get things settled" before they marry.  I'm here to tell you, and trust me on this one - life is NEVER settled!  I've been married 27 years, and life still isn't settled.  Materially, financially - you will always need or lack something!  Situations change; homes get bigger, babies arrive, yards need mowers, kids need hockey gear - you will NEVER get to the point where you can say, "Great!  Got everything we need, let's sit back and just be in love for the next 50 years."

If you're in love, don't wait until it's stale.  Don't take the magic out of it, waiting years and year to finally settle down.  Here are the things to worry over, to get settled before you say I do: 

Do you have a shared, common belief system - are you from the same faith back ground?  This is a big one!  This can cause a lot of problems down the line.  Not only between the two of you, but between your families and how future children are raised.  How will this look in your everyday life?  Will you attend church, temple, mosque together?  Will you take your children?  Talk about this now.  Seriously, I know you're madly in love and it will just "work out," but it won't.  You need to articulate your expectations around this topic.  In my opinion, this is a deal breaker.

Do your families and closest friends, approve of him/her.  If you're parents don't like your beloved, there's probably a good reason for that.  Actually listen and consider what they have to say. 

Have you discussed what you want your future to look like?  Do you want children?  When?  Will you work after they're born?  If no, are you willing to make financial sacrifices to make that happen?  Will you stay in the town you're living in now?  Move?  Talk about this stuff, don't assume you're on the same page.  Just because that's how your parents did it, that doesn't mean that's how everyone expects things to go.

How do you expect to spend your leisure time?  Do you spend your down time together now?  Or do you head out with the girls and he meets up with the boys?  Once you have kids, whose going to be the one staying home Saturday afternoon, while the other heads out to "relax"?  

This is just my opinion, and the opposite might work just fine for you, but I find couples are happiest when they enjoy spending their leisure time together.  I've known lots of women who become very resentful of husbands who are taking off to "spend time with the boys," every chance they get.  Golfing, playing in ball leagues, having a beer with the boys, while she's the one left running kids to lessons and games, alone.  

Do you have common activities you do together that you can continue to do once you're a family?  One night a close friend of ours nailed the key to my husband's and my relationship on the head, so incredibly accurately, that I was shocked.  My husband is an introvert, I'm an extrovert, so we've always thought of ourselves as the proverbial "opposites attract".  That was until our friend said, "Ya, you're opposites with common interests.  You both love spending time with your family, you both love to watch movies in bed, and you both love to get dressed up and go for dinner."  Boom!  That was it!  Those three simple things completely summed up how we'd been spending our leisure time for the past 30 years!  And it works.  Introvert or extrovert, it doesn't matter, these are the things we love to do, and we've always done them together 

Be sure you enjoy doing things together, before you commit to being together for the rest of your life.  If you don't you'll end up feeling like you're both just separately contributing to the business of a family.

And finally, do you know how to resolve conflict with each other?  Do you know how to work through a disagreement in a healthy, respectful way?  This one is tricky.  With us being opposites, we come at disagreements completely differently.  We've had to learn over the years to simply give the other time to cool off, and then in plain, simple language, with dredging up past history, explain why we were upset.  Sometimes owning that it was just because of a bad day or hormones.  Not every disagreement is a commentary on the state of your marital relationship, sometimes there's just too much traffic on the way home, and it's fine to just leave it at that.

This is where pre-martial counselling with a pastor, priest or counsellor can be so helpful.  They can equip you with tools you'll need in the future.  Teach you non explosive, non exacerbatory language for arguing.  "When you do that, it makes me feel…"  "I felt angry when you…"  "I was hurt when you didn't…"  Not - "You always…"  "You never…"  "You think…"  They can also teach you not to bottle things up.  To learn how to communicate, and that it's okay to express anger or disappointment.  We've found one of the most important parts of avoiding conflict is simply letting the other person know our expectations, to avoid, "But I thought were going to…"  "But you never said that!"  "Isn't it obvious?!  We always…"

Learning how to argue fairly, and also learning when to simply leave the other person alone, is a big part of a harmonious marriage.  This comes about over time, as you learn each other, but starting out well equipped is always a good idea.  If this is not part of your pre-marital counselling, ask that it be added, you'll be glad you did.


That's it!  Well, it's not, there are thousands of little things, but these are some of the big ones, the things you need to settle before you say I do.  Not two cars, a starter home not more than 30 minutes from the core and two weeks in Hawaii every Spring.  Building a life together might be an old fashion notion, but I can tell you from experience it's lovely.  A LOT of hard work!!!  Don't get me wrong!  But the year we went on our first fly-away vacation, (5 years after we got married), bought our second car, (when I was expecting our second child), and bought our first, incredibly crappy, run down, out in the boonies, but oh so exciting first house, (the Summer after our second daughter was born), were some of the most exciting times in our marriage.  And those financially poor, early years, were some of our sweetest.  Yes, there were tears, but they were over a young couple learning what the other needed and how to give that to each other, and what the other wasn't capable of giving, the things that friends and family were better at providing.  These were the biggest challenges we faced, and they wouldn't have been any different inside a beautiful, mortgage free home with two Audi's in the garage

If you're in love, make sure you're ready, ask for your parents' blessing and advice, and then jump in!  Financially things will come together over time, that's honestly the least of your concerns.  Marry well, marry seriously and soberly, marry with the intension of marrying for life, and you'll be just fine.