Three Things to Expect if You Host Thanksgiving

Do you find yourself hosting the Thanksgiving feast at your home this year?

*Warning – Do not read this post if you don’t have a sense of humor or understand the gift of sarcasm.

Not sure what to expect? Use this handy guide to help!

  1. Expect people to come to your home and complain about how full they are from the last three stops. Yep. True. You may have spent the week cleaning things you don’t normally clean like your oven (on the inside) and making sure all the closets look neat. You may have prepped, shopped and baked for the whole week while the guys are out hunting. And to top it off, you probably baked cinnamon rolls and made coffee for everyone that morning. You’re wearing nice clothes, you set the table and you have make-up on. What’s the thanks you get, a complaint? If you expect it, maybe you won’t be so shocked and slap someone. Just think, it only means more turkey for you, plus when that overstuffed relative tries to play speed scrabble with you, he won’t be able to think straight and you’ll win.
  2. The person who starts the political discussion will disappear and park himself in front of the football on TV while everyone else continues to discuss. True story. It’s okay. Politics will probably come up with family together. The important thing to remember is being in total agreement with each other on issues of politics, theology, child rearing and fill in the blank isn’t the qualifier of being part of the family. Just ask God. How many of His kiddos got along? Or take it one step further, he’s got a batch of the Hunter/Allen/Craven/Guire/ family members in heaven that didn’t agree one bit in the political, theological or fill in the blank arena.They sure liked to discuss the topics though. If your family likes to have discussions, just have some guidelines. No fist fighting (just kidding, not really). Our boundary is when people start yelling, Jerry shuts it down. It’s a pretty firm rule. *Just a note, if someone brings up abortion, adoption, human trafficking or anything to do with kids from hard places, I’ll be sure to blubber. It’s okay. It’s all part of the family experience.

You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day

3. You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day. Even the worst Thanksgiving moments become written in the family history. No one will ever forget when someone dropped the whole turkey, told the joke that no one got, listened to Grandpa say, “Did I ever tell you when…?” for the 500th time. Those normal, irritating. loud, innocuous moments are treasures. Store them up for the years you don’t get to see everyone. Save them to retell when Grandpa is no longer with you. Do the turkey crafts. Drink the coffee and talk about everything under the sun. Go for the walk after dinner. Throw the football around the yard. Fill your memory bank this Thanksgiving.

I know hosting at your home is hard work. I can say this from personal experience. I took over hosting over twenty years ago when my mom died. It’s hard work, but good work. I love having family here. If you are hosting today and you’re exhausted, leave the dishes for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Smell the smells. Watch the animated conversations. Hear those kids running around the house dressed in their pilgrim and native American costumes, chasing each other with plastic forks? Drink it all in. Savor it. And if no one else says it, “Thanks for hosting this year! You did a great job!”

Ten Lessons from Camp Lemon Lime

Every year our family has a family camp here at the Guire Shire. My kids, grandkids and some friends join us for four days of swimming, eating, trampolining, crafts, camp fires, hammocking and berry picking.

Life likes to show us things. They may not be new things, but how many times do we need to learn a lesson before we get it?

Here’s some observations from the family:

1. Have a plan. If the plan doesn’t work for the moment, pitch it.

I made up cute index cards with chores for everyone. They got handed out to the first family who arrived. I picked them up several times and thought about handing them all out. I didn’t. I pitched them. It was a great idea, but my family seems to work like a well oiled machine and they just do the stuff. The cards suited my planner-type personality, but they were just paper reminders that we didn’t need.

2. You are going to be uncomfortable. It’s okay.

Being comfortable has become a goal in our culture. We want the temperature perfect, food just the way we like it and all of our circumstances to be favorable (count me in for all of the above). It’s just not reality when you are building relationships with family or anyone for that matter. There is a lot of denying oneself for the greater good of family. It means not always saying what you want to say. It means not getting your turn first or the fourth S’more.

“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this easily managed.”
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

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3. There are going to be meltdowns.

When people are out of there comfort zone, especially kids with capital letter syndromes, there are going to be meltdowns. Sometimes, it’s the adults melting down. Sometimes it is a kids. Often the fix is as simple as a snack, water or a nap for both of the above.

4. Don’t wait until you are too tired to make a pot of coffee.

One afternoon, one of the adults promised to make a pot of coffee. An hour later, there was still no coffee made. Isn’t that human nature? We wait until we are at the end of our rope before we ask for help. Coffee is help in this house, incase you are wondering. When adults can’t regulate because we are too tired, neither can the kiddos.

5. Don’t let five little girls vote on a movie.

Yep. That’s it for that one. Just pick the movie.

6. Keep the rules simple and short.

Our camp rules this year:

1. Be kind

2. Clean up after yourself

3. Have fun

*The rules are a modified ‘yes’ sandwich.

7. Have fun applies to the adults too.

This family has this lesson down pat. See the pictures above. No couch potato parents here which makes me proud. Swim with the kids. Play on the trampoline. Read stories. Have a tea party. Do the crafts. Enjoy the moment.

8. By the end of camp you drink from anyone’s water bottle.

We had a great system. We did. It involved a sharpie to put a name on water bottles or Gatorades. It worked well until the last day. I brought Moira up on the deck after swimming and she grabbed a Gatorade that was on the coffee table. No name on it. She took a big swig and so did I. Hunter was drinking it too. He admitted he had no idea who it belonged to. We share things, guys!

9. Kid mirror whomever they are around.

 Six month old Merrick watched his baby cousins escape the blanket and the family room by crawling. Soon, he followed suit. He is now crawling. Another child was afraid in the pool. Another child followed. It’s a chain reaction. Watch what you say. What what you do, because it will come back to you through a child. This is also a great thing. When we have great actions and reactions, the kids eventually follow suit.

10. Be thankful and say so.

There are so many things to be thankful for. We often forget these when everyone is cranky (I’m speaking of the adults here). When the whole family is together, we must remember what a blessing that is. It’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s a gift. My kids are a gift. They are amazing parents (the ones who have kids). All of them work together for a common goal such as getting kids changed for the pool, from the pool or making dinner. They get along. I know that is rare. It is a blessing.

We had a great family camp this year! It’s well worth the effort. If you missed the podcast about it, you can listen below or find us on iTunes!


Working Through the Seasons of Marriage

Episode 26: Jessica and Kathleen talk about the different seasons of marriage. Consider it the prelude to our Marriage Habits Course! (Find more about this and how to sign up on our Facebook page!)

We are constantly entering new seasons in marriage – when babies are born, homeschooling, teens, and empty nests. Each time we have to make adjustments and pivot. If we don’t change to meet these new seasons, we can get stuck. We must evolve and make transitions to keep our marriages healthy. It’s important to get education, support, and encouragement from married women who have more experience and years of marriage under their belt, and Jessica and Kathleen want to offer it!

Podomatic link here.

iTunes link here.


Show Notes:

However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].- Ephesians 5:33

Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf (book mentioned)

“You may be wondering which came first, the chicken-feminism-or the egg- male selfishness and immaturity. I believe the answer is feminism. From the first day The Feminine Mystique hit the bookstands, feminism did not focus on equal pay for equal work, but on how marriage, husband, men in general, and children in specific were ther enemies and the oppressors of true womanhood.” -Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage


When Your Child Leaves the Nest…

I cried myself to sleep every night after my oldest daughter graduated and went to college. Then I had  a brief respite of four years before five kids graduated in a row.

My friend Lori is going through her eldest graduating this year and it has been an emotional roller coaster for her as well.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was like this?” she asked me.

I told her I hadn’t recovered from the trauma of it myself.

No one ever tells you that part. We go through seasons of just wishing this part was over when the sleepless nights drag on and on. We Moms wish the kiddos would get to the next stage, whether that is walking, talking or just plain growing up.

And then it happens. Senior year rolls around. It flies by. The independence has already heightened by this point. Part time jobs. Volunteering at the soup kitchen, babysitting, being a camp counselor. We’re so proud. We pat them on the back and say, “Great job!” So many accolades the last few years of school. Then senior pictures roll around and we Moms feel as if we have been sucker punched in the gut.

It’s almost as if we want to call it back, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t really want you to grow up!”

But it’s too late. They are looking ahead to the future with stars in their eyes and we are looking back with tears in ours.

There are all these spiritual mantras about shooting your arrows into the world. When you train a child up in the way he should you, you shouldn’t be afraid to let them go. All of these are true. But, let’s talk about our emotions. Those are real. They don’t just disappear when someone preaches some platitudes.

Three things I want Moms to remember about your kids growing up:


  1. We worked all these years to attach. Detachment is a hard job. We have to detach in a healthy- go make some decisions kind of way without being a helicopter parent. That’s hard. Like REALLY hard. And even if our child seems as if he isn’t making the decision we want him to, we need to let him decide (I’m talking about selecting majors or getting jobs, not illegal stuff).
  2. It’s okay to mourn. When our kids leave home, we go through a grieving process. We need to. If you don’t cry, you can’t move on to the joy that comes in the morning. Lori-It’s as if sadness and crying is looked at as a weakness or a problem to fix. If you’re not a crier, find another way to grieve. There’s a time to mourn and a time to cry…that’s where I am.  I know there will be a time to dance. But you have to let all those times happen….not squash them.

Don’t skip the crying just because it’s hard..png

Don’t skip the crying because it’s hard…work through it and realize it’s only a season.  Then the dance will be so much sweeter

  1. Find friends who have gone through what you are going through. Cling to them. Ask them questions. Don’t try to bear the burden alone. There is wisdom in many counselors. Find some people you consider wise and pick their brains.

When it’s time for your kids to start adulting, prepare for the emotional roller coaster. You’ll be happy and sad at the same time. As Lori said on the podcast this week, when she realized that she was graduating her son, “I did it!!!! OH, WAIT, I did it.”

We Moms spend years attaching, teaching life skills, helping our kids learn how to read, how to fill out an application for a part time job, keeping them safe and the list goes on. We teach them to be independent. Suddenly, they are. They want to make choices without us. We rejoice over this, but with it comes a feeling of being left behind. It’s okay. Perfectly normal. Grieve. It’s okay. It’s just a stage in the journey. That same son/daughter who doesn’t want your opinion on a major will be calling you next week to ask you how to make mashed potatoes. True story. Hang in there Moms. it gets easier. It gets different, but easier. Before you know it, your son or daughter will be coming to you as a friend, a companion. There is a season for everything. This is just one of those seasons.





World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  Something I never really thought about before until my sweet youngest niece, Lydia, graced this world with her presence.  Of course, I knew about Down syndrome.  I knew that people with Down syndrome seemed to have such a innocence and wonder about them and that the people that had the privilege of having these people in their lives were so incredibly blessed.  However, I never knew how it felt personally until the birth of my niece.


Let me back up to almost a year ago.  My sister, who was already a mother to three, got the surprise of her life when she found out she was pregnant again.  At the gender ultrasound, she got the second shock of her life….she was having TWINS!!  Babies are a family affair in our family so I went to almost every appointment I could (AKA ones she let me come to, lol).   I was so excited for my baby sister that I jumped out of my seat….then ran to her side to hold her hand as the news sunk in (five kids is a lot to process, you guys).  It was a crazy day, to say the least.  As the ultrasound appointment seemed to go on forever, and the ultrasound tech got quiet, I began to wonder if something was wrong.  Back in the examination room, the doctor walked in with the weirdest face.  I’ll never forget it, he looked like someone kicked a puppy in front of him and he was there to tell us about it.  He looked so sad.  That’s when he told us, he said “with the measurements on the ultrasound, one of the babies looks like it could have Down syndrome.”  Me and my sister looked at each other, then back at the doctor and pretty much said “So?” at the same time.  The doctor started going over tests they could perform to know for sure and talked about “options from there.”  My sister looked him dead in his face and said “No, it doesn’t matter what the tests say.”  Talk about a proud big sister moment!

The twins were born five weeks early.  One boy, and one girl….and they were both beautiful and perfect.  I was there to witness the little joys coming into this world and my heart swelled as they breathed their first breaths.

They just recently celebrated their first birthday’s.  Lydia’s twin brother, Liam, is a little ahead of her, but she is definitely catching up to him quickly.  She has this way about her….she stares so intently into your eyes, like she’s looking into your soul.  She holds onto your face while you talk to her.  I never want her to stop holding my face while looking into my eyes.  She gives the sloppiest kisses and smiles all the time.  This world would be seriously lacking without her in it.


I’ve recently read articles about places that instantly abort babies with this syndrome, and it makes me sad.  Not just for the children who were aborted, but for the people who could have experienced so much joy and love and snuffed it out before even giving it a chance.  I’m not going to say that it’s easy….being a parent isn’t ever easy.  Even when all events line up to the mythical perfect time to have a baby, it’s still hard.  It’s hard because being a parent means we have to stop being selfish and care for someone other than ourselves…and that is hard…but SO INCREDIBLY WORTH IT! 

I asked my sister what she would want people to know about having a child with Down syndrome, and this is what she said, “Having a child with Down syndrome is one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I’m not only teaching her, but she is teaching me as well.”