19 Ways to Protect your Marriage

19 Ways to Protect your Marriage

In the busyness of raising children, we often forget that we need to actively and intentionally protect our marriages. Here are 19 Ways we can do that. |the House of HendrixBefore I tell you about my encounter with the 6 foot French goddess, you need some back story.

We had a 3 1/2 year old, a 12 month old, and I was pregnant again. My husband decided to get his MBA through a Business School program designed for those already in the workplace; therefore classes met nights and weekends.

A week into the program, the college held a cocktail party to welcome the spouses, thanking them in advance for the sacrifices this program required upon their family time. It was a nice touch.

The dean of the program gave an inspiring speech about the life-long relationships the students were going to form and suggested we get to know the 6 individuals assigned to our spouse’s “Study Group” because this is who they’d be spending much of their time with over the next 2 years.

I was ready. I was excited. I was supportive.

I met 4 middle-aged married men and a very lovely, engaging single woman. We chatted about their careers and families.

Then the sixth member of the group walked up, or should I say slinked. We all stood silently, mouths hanging open. She possessed the French Goddessthat type of beauty that wasn’t subjective. She was unaware of her exotic, stunning presence, but at 25 years old and 6 feet tall commanded the room.

In the strongest of French accents, she said “Hallo” and for a moment I thought she was seducing me.  The next thing I heard her say was,  “Maybe some of you men could help me move into my apartment on Saturday? Yes?”

As we wiped our drool, I quickly saw other wives speak for their husbands regarding prior commitments to soccer games and birthday parties. My husband locked eyes with me, and with the biggest grin whispered, “Honey, I can hear you. Do you realize you are laughing out loud?”

I covered my mouth attempting to suppress the increasing humor I found in this situation. I just couldn’t contain my pregnant myself. This French goddess is going to be my husband’s late-night-and-weekend study buddy for the next 2 years? It felt like an episode of Punked. Can somebody wave a Red Flag please?

I have never been a jealous wife. I trust my husband completely but I am not naïve.

When we got into the car after the party, we shared more than a laugh. I asked why he hadn’t mentioned there was a French goddess in his study group. He explained he wasn’t sure how a pregnant wife with a baby and toddler at home would receive such information. He reassured me of his love and devotion which was unnecessary but always good to hear.

Then my tone turned serious as I asked him to be discerning of the situations he put himself in knowing we were both entering a period of sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

The next morning I called my sister with residual laughter about my husband’s new study buddy. After a few witty jokes, we committed to praying for protection over his heart, his study group, and the coming two years. Prayer was our strongest line of defense.

A week later my husband called me from work saying the French goddess had to switch to a different MBA program due to scheduling conflicts.Prayer Works

Yes my friends, it works. Sometimes it’s not answered quite so obviously or exactly how we imagined, but it has the power to transform situations and relationships.

Although I have much to learn about marriage, I have been surrounded by quite a bit of divorce. What I do know is that we have to intentionally protect our marriages and that starts by protecting our own hearts.Great and funny story! In the busyness of life, we often forget that we need to actively and intentionally protect our marriages. Here are 19 Ways we can do that. | the House of Hendrix

  1. No marriage is immune from conflict or temptation. Not one.
  2. Pay attention to red flags. At the beach, a red flag cautions us of potential danger, often an undertow which can’t be seen. Sometimes we don’t see the hidden danger behind a choice. Listen to your discerning friends and family. Read scripture. Pay attention. Notice the signs so that you can head the other direction.
  3. Understand each others love language – I highly recommend The 5  Love Languages by Gary Chapman. You can read my post on it here. It suggests we each have a predominate way we show and receive love. Understanding yours and your spouses can strengthen your ability to effectively communicate love more meaningfully in your marriage.20 Ways to Protect your Marriage
  4. Forgive easily and often – Don’t wait for apologies. An angry heart can lead us to regrettable choices.Forgive easily and often. Great ways to protect your marraige. |the House of Hendrix
  5. Be careful with relationships of the opposite sex. – There are only a few men that I will text or e-mail. They usually involve my children but I make sure my husband is aware. Similarly, my husband does not even drive female babysitters home.  Our choices have nothing to do with an insecurity in our relationship. We want to protect both our hearts and those of the opposite sex with whom we come into contact.
  6. Keep short accounts – I once gave my husband the cold shoulder for several days regarding a dirty pan. Frustration can turn a heart bitter so we try and talk it through before it escalates. I love the verse “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” although sometimes a good night sleep provides a much needed break from conflict with a renewed perspective in the morning.I'd chose you every time
  7. Don’t compare spouses – Resist the urge to point out how Super Dad down-the-block takes the kids all afternoon so his wife can go to the spa. None of us want to be judged or compared to another. Our families are not supposed to look alike. Embrace the one you got.Protecting your relationship
  8. Pursue your spouse – Men want to feel desired. Leave a note in an unexpected place, send an amorous text. We would be naive to think nobody is flirting with our spouse. Last week I watched a saleswoman giggle a little too loud, flip her hair, and touch my husband’s arm while she checked him out. So I of course sent the kids over to hang on him.  But when somebody flirts with my man,  I hope it’s simply a compliment to his ego, and his innate need to feel desired is being filled by me.20 Ways to protect your marriage |the House of Hendrixvia

  9. Stop using the words “always” and “never”. You always leave your towel on the floor. You never help with the kids. Such exaggerations are unnecessary and divisive. My husband reminds me of this often.
  10. Password privacy – Don’t keep passwords for phones and computers from your spouse. If you don’t want your spouse reading a text, ask yourself if you should even be sending it.
  11. Date Night and Little Moments - As parents we often pour into the needs of our children but overlook our marriages. In the busyness of the life, we forget to really see each other and simply co-exist in our daily routine. Last year it had been too long since my husband and I had gone on a date alone, so we took advantage of having a babysitter for a funeral and actually went out afterwards.  It was a little creepy awkward at first but, it is necessary to steal little moments of time for each other where ever you can get them.
  12. When he is discouraged – you have a choice. You can beat him down further with your own frustration, or use it as an opportunity to breathe life into him. The latter is going to strengthen our marriages a heck of a lot more than the first.We are in this togethervia
  13. Marriage is not a scoreboard - Do you keep track of who’s doing household chores or putting kids to bed? Sometimes we forget marriage is a relationship not a game with a winner and loser. Marriage is not a scoreboard. the House of Hendrix
  14. Finances – Debt or financial pressure can destroy a marriage. I used to closet-shop and leave the shopping bag hidden in the trunk or closet until my husband wasn’t around. If you have to hide it, you shouldn’t be doing it. Get on the same page with your budget. Being financially united is the unglamorous work that adds tremendous depth and trust to your relationship.Are you a closet shopper? Do you hide purchases from your spouse?
  15. The Internet - The temptations are obvious and often hazardous to marriages. This goes beyond simply looking at inappropriate images and coveting homes on Trulia that you can’t afford. Over the weekend, my husband and I sat in bed for several hours each on our own Ipad…not speaking. Simply the presence of the internet took away from an opportunity to connect. How does the internet affect your marriage?via
  16. Respect around the clock - We know not to belittle our spouse at a cocktail party, but are we showing that same respect in the home? Do we unwittingly show disrespect with our off-the-cuff comments?  Disrespect is not strengthening our marriages.
  17. Accountability – Find trusted people in your life you can confide in about your marriage and personal struggles and be there for them as well. My husband has a men’s accountability group where they share temptations and ask each other hard questions. I don’t know what is said, but I am grateful beyond measure.Marriage
  18. a Heart of Gratitude – What about your spouse are you thankful for today? Tell him. Who and what in your life are breathing refreshment into your soul? Being thankful is the quickest way to bring joy to our hearts, and that joy produces a renewed ability to love our spouses and families well.
  19. Don’t give up. – Fight for your marriage even when you can’t stand one another. Pray for God to intervene and replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. I have seen Him reconcile the messiest of relationships, mend the broken-hearted, and restore peace to the most fractured of homes. It can happen. But if your marriage has failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. Trust in the lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3: 3

May your home be filled with peace, your hearts with thanksgiving, and know how deeply you are loved. May we remember to protect our marriages even when we’d rather not, and let us rest knowing that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

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* If you are in an abusive relationship, please get help. You can call 1-800-799-3224 or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. In Florida, you can call Safe House at 855-655-safe.

5 ways to be more Intentional today

Just a few little changes can make all the difference (the House of Hendrix)One minute they’re there, the next minute they’re gone. 20,000 photographs…births of my children, school plays, Christmas mornings, the last photographs of grandma…all gone. In a matter of moments, with the crash of my computer hard drive,  they slipped through my fingers and became a memory.

If I had to name my most treasured possession, my pictures are it…They were it.

Next to my computer is an external hard drive…in its package, untouched. I intended to back everything up, but I regretfully put it off.

Life is like that. We carry-on taking for granted so many things. In a moment, they can be gone.

our health, our marriage, our money
a friendship, a sobriety, a career

What else in my life do I intend to “back up” but simply haven’t? What is it I treasure? My photographs, YES! They are a visual representation of my life until now. But they are not my life. They are just pictures of it….and pictures which I can manipulate to tell any story of my choosing.

What is it I truly treasure?…the people in those photographs…the relationships in my life today. Do I live in a way that says “I TREASURE YOU”?

5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today {the House of Hendrix}

So today I embrace not what I’ve lost, but what I have. My heart is thankful and challenged to live life more completely.

Today I want to be more intentional.

Today I want to

Not rush through the bedtime routine with our children.  They feel my love through the tickling of their backs, my breath on their foreheads, and my arms snuggling them tight. They crave my touch. That trust, that physical closeness brings, opens up their hearts for deeper conversations. As the lights go out and their minds settle from the distractions of the day, I get that glimpse into their soul. Their anxieties. Their passions. Their unanswered questions. But I rush it. Every night, I cut them short. But not tonight.

Today I want to5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today (the House of Hemdrix)

Encourage my spouse more- There are certain areas I feel awkward intentionally encouraging him in. It feels contrived.  It’s easy to compliment him on what a great father he is, or his handiness around the house. But in other areas, I listen, offer my perspective, and problem solve…but I rarely encourage. Yesterday I decided to intentionally encourage him before work. I affirmed in him some of his God-given qualities which were going to be utilized in him that day at the office. I half-expected him to laugh, but he didn’t. He hugged me and didn’t let go. Today I’m going to encourage him more.

Today I want

The people in my life to know my heart. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. A car crash could change everything. It did for my aunt who left her 4 children weeping over her grave. Do the people I love know it? Have I told them, shown them? What about my friends? Do they know what I cherish about them? Sometimes I don’t say it. Do you have a friend who has made a huge impact on you but she doesn’t know it?  I do. On her birthday I showed her my heart. I told her why I thought she was different. Why I cherished her insight. I shared the impact and influence she has had on my life.  I laid it all out there. We weren’t at that intimate level in our friendship either, so I was vulnerable…but I wanted her to know. She could die tomorrow. I could. Nothing was left unsaid and our friendship is that much stronger. Today I am reminded to not withhold my affection from those in my life. I want them to know my heart.

Today I want to

Stop the judgement. Life’s hard and we don’t know what other people are going through. I want to be filled with compassion not comparison. I want to extend forgiveness. Am I holding on to a subtle grudge? Are there areas I need to put aside my pride to forgive? Today I want to be sensitive to the needs around me, the ones that may be disguised in condescending comments, cold shoulders, and abrupt tones. Today I want to see through them and meet their real needs with understanding and love.

Today I want to

Celebrate life. I don’t want to wait for the weekends to have fun. I want to live it now. I want to celebrate my family. I cherish a life with dance parties on Tuesdays and board games instead of clean kitchens. I want an ice cream sunday party just because we’re all together. Today I want to celebrate that I get to live this beautiful, imperfect life for another day. Today is a gift I treasure.5 Ways to Live Intentionally Today

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How a coach inspired his athletes to let it go

This is a simple story with a big impact. Great character lesson from a coach to his cross country team.Yesterday I stumbled across beauty.

It wasn’t a rainbow or a sunset. It was a highschool cross-country team, sweaty after a long run.

They were gathered on the field, hours after the rest of the school had gone home.

I saw red balloons and a sharpie. Something was happening, I just didn’t know what. I watched from afar as the coach spoke.

They broke into small groups and were writing on the balloons. They were focused and serious. What were they writing?

Then their arms huddled around each other and they started praying. Great story about the way a high school coach inspired his team to stop believing what they couldn't do. |the House of Hendrix

I had to catch my breath. It was a beautiful vision to see middle and high school students in such a humble state. I was thankful my daughter was part of this team. Great story about how a coach inspires his cross country team to stop believing the lies of what they can't do. |the Hosue of Hendrix

I stepped closer to read the writing on the balloons.

I’m not good enough.

I’m too big to run.

I am a disappointment to my teammates

How a cross country coach inspired his athletes to stop believing the lies of what they couldn't do.

Emotion shot through me. These written words were the lies they quietly believed.

They stayed in huddled prayer as they took turns surrendering these lies. Amazing story about how a high school cross country coach inspired his runners to stop believing the lies about what they couldn't do.

Then the red balloons were symbolically released into the sky.Surrender the Lies The kids watched quietly. I stood mute.

Great story about the way a coach inspired his cross country team to stop believing the lies of what they can't do. |the House of Hendrix

The next morning, they ran their meet with the confidence that their worth was not determined by a time on a clock, nor their identity defined by a race.  They simply ran with joy and let the lies go.

And 22 of them had a breakthrough performance.

Box of Memories

Perfect sentimental gift for the parent, grandparent, and loved one. Fill a chest with memories and enjoy the experience of reminiscing together. Check out how to involve your kids. | the House of Hendrix #fathersday

Certain people in my life are hard to buy a gift for. They have meant so much to me, that simply spending money on them does not feel like a meaningful expression of my gratitude for their presence in my life. Father’s Day is one of those occasions.

In case you are still searching for that something special for your husband, father, or grandpa, I wanted to share an idea I used on my dad’s birthday.

A Box of Memories

My father was turning 65 so I filled a box with 65 of my favorite memories with him. Any amount would obviously work for Father’s Day. The first 5 are the hardest to think up, but after that I found it hard to stop.

I printed them on the white side of scrapbook paper so the color would add a cute pop.This gift will absolutely delight the recipient. Great tutorial on creating a box of memories for a loved one. |the House of Hendrix #fathersday

I cut them out and put them in a small chest I found at TJ Maxx. Great tutorial for creating a box of memories.  Such a thoughtful gift for a parent or grandparent| The House of Hendrix #fathersday

This best part of this gift is the experience of reading each memory out loud together. You laugh and cry as you delve deeper into each story.

This gift brings people together and is relationship-based.

The chest can be set on an end table for decor, but each time it’s opened, it brings a smile to one’s face.

Kid’s Corner

Adapt this idea by having your children decorate a wood or plastic box and fill it with their “Favorite Things” about that person. This is sure to melt the heart of the recipient.Incredibly thoughtful gift for a parent or grandparent! Have your child decorate a box and fill it with memories and their favorite things about the person. |the House of HendrixOther fun stuff:

  • Create a fully customized (and adorable) personal planner here
  • Check out my latest sock obsession (and perfect gift) here
  • Great Father’s Day photos, here
  • What to send your child at sleep away camp, here

My Quest for Gentleness

How often do we skip gentleness in our routines as we rush through our lives?

A friend asked me today, “How are you?” I paused for a moment before answering,

“Raw.”

Have you ever felt that way? Like you are walking around emotionally vulnerable, free of any pretense that could suggest to someone otherwise. A simple hug or compliment just might bring you to tears?

I’m experiencing something in my life right now that I can’t fix. All of the love in my heart can’t make it better. And it leaves me…raw.

Even though I feel like a fresh wound walking around without a Band-Aid, this place of unsought vulnerability is reshaping me…for the better.

For starters, my heart is acutely sensitive to the Lord. I’m shooting up prayers left and right like He’s my best friend. That’s a good place for me to be: for anyone to be.

Secondly, I’m learning there are times I wish I could wear a “Fragile” sign around my neck because the unnecessary comments, the subtle jabs, and the harsh tones sting. But then I come across a person who breathes a soft word of encouragement into my soul, and I find an inexplicable refreshment.

So here’s the beauty about being stripped down. We can quickly see where we need to change. I want an increased sensitivity to the tired and tender.  I want to be that breath of gentleness to the raw people in my life. I want my words, actions, and judgements so saturated with gentleness that it can’t help but encourage. I want my gentleness to be evident to all…and it’s often not.

It’s so simple yet in the rush of our lives, we often skip it in our interactions with people.

My prayer is that I remain in this raw state until my desire to be more gentle becomes an extension of who I am. We are used in each others lives with great purpose, and today I am incredibly thankful for the gentle ways people have touched my heart and ministered to my spirit.

May our raw days reshape us to better love one other.

♥ Allison

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14 more ways to make kids feel Special on their Birthday

Birthdays are a day I delight in making my children feel special!

The House of Hendrix blog just celebrated its 1st Birthday. Our most popular post over the past year was surprisingly not the post on Girlfriends, but rather 20 Ways to Fill Your Child’s Love Tank of their Birthday This tells me that there is a universal desire to make our children feel loved.

So today I am sharing more ideas…Part 2 so to speak.Need some fun and fresh ideas to make your child's birthday memorable? These will not disappoint.

14 More ways to fill your child’s Love Tank on their Birthday.

(Disclaimer: I do not do big birthday parties with extensive decorations, party favors, and games….anymore.  My focus had become about making the party guests feel welcome and comfortable, more than my child.  So I now use the time and energy I would have spent on party planning, and create a day that will delight my children doing wacky and memorable stuff that I hope fills their love tank….but I desperately miss and fully appreciate the creative detail of a good party. So please keep inviting us to yours!)1.

1. Decorate the inside of the Car

Remember in the first post when we decorated the outside of the car with window markers saying “HONK, It’s my Birthday”?  Well, lately we’re focusing instead on the inside. Simply throwing a few Hawaiian leis over the head rests adds a festive touch. This is such a simple way to bring a smile to your child’s face…particularly in carline when surrounded by their friends.Surprise your child when they hop in the car on their birthday! Decorate it!

Imagine getting into your car on your birthday and it's fully decorated! Pure delight! Check out these fresh ideas from the House of Hendrix

2. Party in the Potty

That’s right. It’s the first thing a boy does in the morning, so why not start the birthday off right. I quickly printed a picture of my son on copy paper, taped it to seat, and wrote a message with dry erase markers. I even squirted blue toilet bowl cleaner in there for festive blue water.It's the first thing a boy does on his birthday so why not start it off with a surprise! These 14 ideas are sure to create many Memorable Moments. (the House of Hendrix)

3. Chalk Message on the Trampoline

What does your child do right after school? Decorate whatever it is. The moment we get home, my children head outside. You could imagine my son’s squeal on his birthday upon seeing the trampoline! It was such an unexpected mid-afternoon surprise!What does your child do after school? Decorate it! Check out these 14 ways to delight your child!

4. Text the Teen – “Top 14 Favorite Things About You” List

Do you have an older child with a cell phone? Send him/her an initial text entitled “Top 14 Favorite Things About you”.  Send one every hour so they are staggered throughout the day.  Obviously change the # based on their age. Top 18 for their 18th birthday. I have even done Top 50 for a beloved girlfriend.Text a Favorites thing List to somebody on their birthday. Stagger the texts throughout the day (# of texts according to their age). The House of Hendrix

5. Follow the streamer to your presents. “Scavenger Hunt”

This not only adds an element of excitement, but prolongs the gift opening experience. Kids follow a streamer to their first gift. They open it and then continue following the streamer to the next gift….and then the next. Because this is so much fun, I wrap small things like chapstick and packs of gum to extend the experience. It is the “scavenger hunt” my kids remember more than the presents.Tie streamers to birthday presents for a scavenger hunt. Child follows streamer from gift to gift. Wrap small items like gum to extend the experience. Check out these other fresh ideas from the House of HendrixTie streamers to birthday presents for a scavenger hunt. Child follows streamer from gift to gift. Wrap small items like gum to extend the experience. Check out these other fresh ideas from the House of HendrixYou can also use string (below), a pretty ribbon or rope to guide your child around the house.Tie rope around birthday presents for a scavenger hunt. Child follows rope from gift to gift. Wrap small items like gum to extend the experience. Check out these other fresh ideas from the House of Hendrix

6. Affirmation Yard Attack

When my sweet friend, Kourtney Street, recently turned 40, her front yard was attacked by messages of love and encouragement from her friends. Talk about filling somebody’s Love Tank! I am adding this to my MUST DO list asap.Imagine waking up to a yard of people's favorite things about you on your birthday! Pure delight. Check out these other fresh ideas to bring somebody joy on their birthday.

7. Candy in the Balloon

We took our tradition of wrapping the items in the lunch box one step further. Now they need to POP THE BALLOON to get the surprise. Not sure how the teachers feel about this one.Stuff candy into Balloon. kids have to pop it for their treatLunchbox Surprise - stuff a candy into a balloon and wrap your child's lunch. They have to pop the balloon to get the birthday treat. Check out these other fresh ideas from the House of Hendrix

8. Wear the number on your face

Your face is a visual reflection to your child of your celebratory heart. Siblings enjoy this too. Your child will be reminded again and again of your joy over their birth. (we’ve done this for daddy too.)Kids love seeing their Birthday # on things. Why not delight them with it on the cheeks of their family.

9. Age Age Everywhere

Kids love to see their new number! I love this idea from Martha Stewart of creating a number out of candles and balloons.Make a number out of candles

Kids love to see their new number on their birthday. Tape balloons with double-sided tape to a wall.

Use double-sided tape to adhere balloons to a wall.

Giant balloon numbers for the yard!

Balloons Everywhere creates these Giant Numbers for the yard. You can DIY with an aluminum rod.

11. Build excitement with a Count Down

We are constantly trying new ways to count down. The kids love changing the numbers as each day draws closer.Birthday countdown build excitement

12. Make a Birthday Video

Our family loves to use the Photo Booth camera on our computer to make video’s for people on their birthdays. Sometimes we pretend to be normal and simply sing Happy Birthday. But more often than not we will pick a pop song, change up the words, dress up ridiculously, and make a Birthday rendition. Except we have no talent.

Remember when Call Me Maybe spread across the nation? Here’s a small segment of that video. (I am resisting a disclaimer)

13. Party in a Bag…for a needy child

That’s right, not everybody gets a birthday party. Many families have financial limitations which is why I nearly jumped out of my seat when I read this next idea over on my friend Courtney DeFeo’s blog. Her guest writer Deanne, shared the concept of a Birthday Bag (here).

Let your children help plan a birthday party for a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Let them pick out cake mix, iciing, plates, table clothes, candles, party favors and balloons. Make a special birthday card and even throw in a Target gift card. Then donate the bag. This is an idea I hope spreads and spreads. Thank you Courtney and Deanne.

How does this make your child feel special on their birthday?

Just try it and watch.Birthday Party in a bag for a Needy child

Serving others makes kids feel purposeful, needed and special….even on their birthday. A few years back my daughter incorporated service into her birthday party, taking her friends corn picking for the homeless. You can read a guest post I wrote on that here.

14. Share your favorite memories

My children never get tired of hearing stories about when they were younger…sticking their face in their 1st birthday cake…holding their baby brother for the first time…crawling out of their crib in the middle of the night to sleep in their sister’s bed. They love it! Crave it.

At the end of the day though, the most important thing we can do for our children is to communicate in words and affection how much we ADORE being their mommy, and how deeply and unconditionally loved they are.  That connection with you is what fills a Love Tank. The rest is just fun.

Allison

The Truth behind Mommy Magic

What is it behind that special mommy quality that can make a scraped knee feel better with a band-aid and a kiss? Keep reading (The House of Hendrix)Mommy magic is the ability to make a scraped knee feel better with a band-aid and a kiss. It’s that sixth sense that knows where to find a lost lovey at bedtime.  It’s how a million little details quietly get done to make a birthday special.

Last night I returned home to my family after a short trip away. As I was putting my children to bed, we were going over our checklist for today. I asked Campbell if he and Smokey, our hamster, were ready for the Pet Parade at school the coming morning.

 He rushed over to the cage and cried as he remembered ,“Mamma, Smokey escaped a few days ago and I didn’t make a float! Why hasn’t he come back?”

Tears, and fear of having no pet for the Pet Parade, ensued. After he shut down my idea of Smokey being an ‘Invisible Hamster’, I kissed his head and said I would find him.

Today at 12:30,  I showed up at the Pet Parade with Smokey, the Escape Artist hamster. Campbell was overjoyed because I had worked my Mommy Magic.Mommy magic is the ability to make a scraped knee feel better with a band-aid and a kiss. It’s that sixth sense that knows where to find a lost lovey at bedtime.  It's how a million little details quietly get done to make a birthday special.

But it’s not magic at all, is it? Let’s rewind.

I went to bed last night wondering how I was going to find a nocturnal hamster. Was he under the kitchen sink? The bathroom sink? In a bedroom? I laid in bed waiting. Praying. Hoping. I heard a ruffle at 2am. Was it Smokey?

I put on a headlamp as to not wake my husband. I crawled around the floor…in my nightie…with a headlamp…following the noise for an hour and a half. I finally caught him.

I returned him to his cage but wondered how long before he escaped again, after all escaping is his specialty. So I put the cage in the bathtub, a double barrier of sorts. At the moment,  I think I’m brilliant.

Come today about 2 hours before the Pet Parade, I tweak the wires of the cage for the journey to school. It appears secure. A quick shower later, I return to an empty cage. Thankfully he hadn’t gotten far and it was an easy capture.

This time I grab a deep kitchen bucket, one with walls too high to scale. We hop in the car. I exhale but a little too soon.Why we do ridiculous things for our children

At a stoplight a mile from school, I see the hamster on the passenger floor mat jetting into the crawl space leading to… who knows where. The engine?

I pull into the Publix parking lot and, in desperation, buy celery and peanut butter to lure Smokey out of hiding. Not immediately, but it worked. Ten minutes later, I arrive at the Pet Parade.

There are spaceship-themed wagons with astronaut dogs. There are chickens on a hay-rides. There are princess cats, Ballerina bunnies, and Magician dogs.Why we go above and beyond for our childrenThe hamster that almost didn't make the Pet ParadeWhy we go above and beyond for our children

I show up with a dirty kitchen bucket, a dishtowel shoved into the bottom, and Smokey peeking out from underneath. Although uncharacteristically uncreative, I’m thrilled with the result, a living hamster.Mommy magic is the ability to make a scraped knee feel better with a band-aid and a kiss. It’s that sixth sense that knows where to find a lost lovey at bedtime.  It's how a million little details quietly get done to make a birthday special.

When Campbell saw his beloved pet, his eyes looked into mine and sparkled. “Mamma! You found him! You’re the best!” He carried that rodent around with such pride letting his friends take turns ogling over it.

I had a secret story today that nobody else there knew. As I looked around this amazing display of pets and parents, I realize that I’m surrounded by a lot of secret stories. The dad who snuck out of an important meeting just in time to see his daughter twirl with her cat. I watch a mom work her magic as she calms her anxious son’s nerves over parading in front of a crowd. Whatever she whispered into his ear worked.

The truth is mommy magic is simply the result of an unexplainable love that makes us do over-the-top ridiculous things to delight our children, to avoid catastrophic meltdowns, and to bring peace to our loved ones souls.

We can find missing shoes because our minds never shut off. As we walk from a bedroom to a garage, we’re cataloging everything we see for future use…a channel changer peeking out from a couch…a shin guard in the pantry…a stuffed animal in the backyard.

This deep love also makes us willingly, and without hesitation, give our time, sleep and energy to our children. Love is interesting like that and sometimes doesn’t make sense to an outsider. Because finding that hamster was important to my son, it was important to me. You may spend hours making a birthday cake shaped like a Lego robot to create that magical moment for your child. Or you may go to 7 stores looking for the perfect pair of shorts that don’t have an itchy tag in the back. Maybe you work an extra job so your child can play club soccer.

Or maybe you have simply brought peace to a home that desperately needed it.

Today I celebrate mothers because you make magic happen each and every day. Your stories may never be told and your sacrifices never acknowledged, but you change the world around you with your love.

♥Allison

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How sibling fighting led me to drive a car covered in Nerf bullets

How bullets brought peace to my worldFor two weeks, I’ve been driving around town with Nerf gun bullets on the outside of my windshield. I forget that they are there until people stare, point, pretend to shoot at me, and ultimately laugh. Other kids get a kick out of them in the car-line at school, particularly the high-school students.Do your kids fight in the car? Check out how this parent put a stop to it with her unconventional method. (the House of Hendrix)

Let’s back up a bit. My children have been fighting in the car recently. It drives me crazy. I’ve tried time outs, loss of privileges, pulling the car to the side of the road, strategically seating my children away from one another, and even positive reinforcement tactics.  Somewhere between their close proximity to one other and a few sensory issues (mostly mine), that stuff just isn’t working for us.

“You’re breathing too loud!”

“You crossed the line onto my side of the seat!”

“Stop humming to the music.”

What ultimately ends the fighting is my mean-mommy-voice yelling “ENOUGH! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!”

Here’s the thing, I don’t like yelling, nor want to. I truly believe there is always a better option…but sometimes I just can’t find that solution in the parenting books.

So a few weeks ago when my youngest shot my windshield with a Nerf bullet in protest to my new rule of ‘No Eating in the Car’, I had an idea. I explained to my three children, that I would leave that Nerf bullet on the windshield if they didn’t fight on the way to school.

Guess what? Nobody fought. In fact, they laughed, were kind and complimentary to one another, and acted as if they were on the same team. The ride home from school that day was the same way. With dark clouds in the sky, they chatted for 30 minutes about what would happen to the Nerf bullet if they windshield wipers went on. Their laughter was contagious.Because sometimes the parenting books, don't work. (the House of Hendrix)

So the rules to our Nerf Bullet Game were established:

  • Every day that you don’t fight, you may add a Nerf bullet to the car.
  • Every time you disagree or complain about anything, we turn on those windshield wipers and a bullet is removed.
  • You may not relocate somebody else’s bullet without their permission.
  • A bullet though may be relocated or removed by mommy at any point.

Not only are my kids not fighting in the car, I’m enjoying listening to them interact and plot the destination of their next bullet.

I’m obviously not suggesting that everybody go put Nerf bullets on their windshield to keep their kids from fighting, but I am suggesting that sometimes we can’t find the answers in the parenting books. We need to stop feeling inadequate that great parenting tools aren’t clicking with our family.

Each family is uniquely designed and made up of specific personalities. Parenting is not one size fits all.  What works for me, may not work for you, and that’s ok.  I’m learning that sometimes an unconventional idea is exactly what my family needs to push through a tough phase to move on to the next.

Our family was struggling in the car and we needed to break that cycle of fighting because, only then, were my kids at a teachable place to address the deeper issues of respect and tolerance.  This game will hopefully not be around in a month, because I’d prefer to drive around town not looking like the victim of a Nerf Attack, but it broke our cycle of fighting and yelling, and has allowed us to engage in more effective conversations about changing the way we treat each other.

So consider embracing that unconventional idea that just might click with your family. You may find your instincts are more effective with your children than anything you read, and that adding a dose of laughter to your area of greatest frustration, opens the door to joy where yelling once reigned.

AllisonHow bullets brought peace to my worldHave you checked out our Intentional Parenting or All Things Kids board on Pinterest? I’d also love to invite you to receive future posts by the House of Hendrix below and join our Facebook community. If this post resonated with you, you are welcome to share it through the icons below.

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