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2nd Birthday at the Elderly Home

IMG_7882smallThis year I decided to make her birthday party a more service oriented birthday because she only cares about having a cake and blowing out the candle at this age.  I got this idea from a post I saw on Facebook  about a kindergarten which went to a rest home (care center) once a month to visit the elderly and how it made them sooo happy. We also recently had a friend who had passed away who was at this care center so we decided to pay them a little visit. I also believe that having  the elderly in my children’s lives can teach them many things from compassion, service to love and so much more! I know I was abundantly blessed by living with my grandma for many years.

At first when I called them to ask them if we could do this, they sounded confused why on earth I would have a birthday there because they had never had this done before. Even those who I had invited was a little confused at why her birthday party was at a care center. We also asked guests to not bring a gift but a gently used toy that can be donated to a kids charity.

I tried to keep it as minimal as possible so all we had were a few balloons, snacks and the cake. I think all up I spent under $10 on this birthday so yay!!!I was the main entertainment, we just sang songs and recited nursery rhymes. For the elderly is was just a lot of fun to interact and watch the little kids run around and play. Many of them wishing they could have a little of their energy haha. (don’t we all) It was also sooo sweet to hear some of the elderly say that they never see their great grand babies so this was a real treat for them.

It was such a simple little birthday idea that I encourage any of you to do. I’m not one for big birthdays but if it can brighten someones day I will do it. In doing this I hope that my little one when she looks back on these pictures will also be able to find her own ways to serve those with high needs in our community.

Big thanks to our family and friends that came out to help us celebrate!!! We love you!!!!!IMG_7844small IMG_7850small  IMG_7864small

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4 Simple Family Valentines Traditions

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Hey  just so you know in advance you won’t be seeing me posting any pictures of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a new pair of shoes, or an expensive dinner this year because we are going minimalist this year.  (I don’t know why but I seem to enjoy them more when they are on sale lol.   But if anything it just means we get more quality and meaningful time to spend on each other without any filters!!!!Anyways here are ways we are going to show love to each other in our home this year.

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  1. Valentines Breakfast with the Little Ones. (Breakfasts are so much easier than dinner together its easy to prepare and we get yummy pancakes or waffles and some good old OJ) Or switch it around and have breakfast for dinner
  2. Thoughtful notes: throughout the month.. My husband loves receiving notes from me and photos of the little ones. So this is nice and easy for us. You can either send them by text, email, or a good old card or even a video there are lots of ways to express your love through words. On valentines we may just stick a few extra hearts on the door to make them feel extra special.
  3. Service: Look for somebody who needs extra love: Brainstorm a few people that you want to stop by and give them a HEART ATTACK on their front door. Even a simple note of thanks and gratitude works wonders. If you are feeling extra loving a visit to an elderly home or a homeless shelter will go a long way.
  4. Service Trade: If gifts are wanted gift certificates are always a fun gift to give, such as a massage for 30mins, a foot rub, or even, daddy daughter ice cream date. Valentines is more about quality time together not necessarily a gift of some sort.
  5. Home made cards: With a hand print and paint or crayons you are sorted!!! Give them to grandma and grandpa, to the mailman to your neighbors, its such a small thing that will help your children get in the habit of giving. 

What are your favorite SIMPLE valentine traditions??? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


4 Ways to keep the Romance alive with a New Baby

Lets face it, this is just a difficult time to keep the romance alive. You just had a baby, you are still feeling bloated, and your bodies trying to adapt to the hormones and everything post pregnancy whether you are breastfeeding or recovering from a c-section.  But all reasons aside we can’t just abandon this aspect of our marriage completely. If anything this is such an important time for you and your spouse as he may be feeling more neglected with the new baby in the house. The truth is if you are not looking after yourself and your marriage first, this will reflect in your parenting. So in order to be a better mother be a better wife first. ( p.s this photo was taken literally a day after we had our 2nd baby at the hospital! first official date night after baby and she was in the nursery just down the hall hahaha)

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  1. Try and have the baby sleep in their own crib or bassinet. This is hard at first especially if you are nursing and fall asleep during it (like me) But if you prefer to co-sleep use one of those attachments to your bed so that you and your spouse still have your own space.

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2. Self Care! This is something I always neglect but have come to see the importance in lately. Even  just waking up earlier to have a nice shower, even putting on makeup and doing your hair can do wonders for you. For me I just enjoy going for a walk in the morning. It is so easy to get caught up in the drab of being in your p.js all day long. At least dressing up will make you look more cuddly even if you don’t really feel like it.

3. Communicate with your spouse. Help him understand that  time together will be less but when you do get time together ensure that it is QUALITY TIME! Talk and plan what things you can do as soon as you get that time alone.

4. Set specific Date nights. Right now we can’t really leave our little one with anyone so we always set at least 10mins aside each day to talk with each other. It really has become my favorite part of the day, even though I get sick of his work stories I just enjoy where our conversations end up. While the kids are asleep pop out the ice cream or the goodies and have a date night in the kitchen or on the deck outside. Creativity is KEY!!

Would love to know your ideas and thoughts. Email me or message me at info@ourhappytalk.com.


The Conscious Family – Episode 2: Setting Family Goals

 

  1. Find Problems or things that can be improved in the family. Identify the Goal
  2. Ensure everybody is on board with the Goal or has a say in the Goal
  3. Steps to achieving it & Identify obstacles that may prevent from achieving it
  4. Date to accomplish this  goal by. Or if it’s an ongoing goal how often you will revisit it.

Goals for Mummy and Daddy

  • Date Night Monthly
  • Temple Night Monthly
  • Quarterly Night Away
  • Weekly planning session

Goals for the Little Kids

  • Make Bed before breakfast
  • Pick up toys before dinner

Goals for Mummy and Daddy and Kids

  • Dinner or Breakfast Together 3times a Week
  • Morning and Evening Prayers and Scripture Reading
  • Pick up the house before Bedtime
  • No Electronics between 6-9pm
  • Family Vacation 2times a year

New Podcast Series – the CONSCIOUS FAMILY

New podcast series alert!

Because I am lazy at writing and also getting dressed for videos I have found my perfect medium podcasting!!! Check it out would love to hear your feedback!

p.s be gentle on the sound quality and I also have a really bad cold!!! PRACTICE = PROGRESS!!!

xo  Tracy


Budgeting for Family Vacations

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(photography by Conner and Tracy at the Grand Turks Island 2016)

We love going on family trips therefore we always need to factor in family vacations into our budget. We love going from the simple overnight camping trips, to staying at a bed and breakfast to going half-way across the world to visit my family in New Zealand.

My husband and I live a pretty simple life with one car, one phone and occasionally go out for a pizza or thai food once a week. We also live on a pretty tight budget since he is the only provider right now therefore we may have to scrimp at times but we never lack. We also have pretty strict rules on debt and the only debt we have is that of our house. We will never do trips or purchase anything if they put us in any financial burden. We maintain a good emergency fund of 6 months and find other ways to invest the rest. (So let’s say we scrimp on daily spending so we can enjoy more fun family vacations.) So there’s some background for you. Today I thought of sharing some ways that we budget for our family trips.

  1. Get a Vacation Calendar – This isn’t always the easiest when sometimes we end up going with other family members. But at least getting out a yearly calendar and slotting in the times when you want to go on vacation especially the big ones that you know for sure. Seeing the different times you want to go and where you want to go will help you allocate a budget to each vacation
  2. Budget – Now you know how many times you are going out of town and roughly estimate how much you will be spending at each place. Once you know how much you are spending at each place divide that by weekly or bi-weekly however you get paid to know how much you have to put aside each week for the trips.
  3. Get Creative – I am a firm believer if you don’t have the money for it and you want it then go out there and get the money for it. Life’s too short to go without! (to a certain degree) If the vacation is out of your budget then don’t just end it there, get creative!!! If this is something you really want you will make the money for it. Whether you pick up extra hours doing something on the weekend, sell extra things out of your house or start up a new craft to sell.
  4. Research – So for me I can go pretty extreme. I don’t care about where we stay…Just as long as I am there I will hitchhike to get around or sleep in my car if necessary . (it’s all part of the fun adventure for me) But do your research into all the free activities and all the discounted places you can find to eat, sleep and activities to do while there. The more research the better idea you have and how much money you will need to allocate to this place.  Many times they will charge you for having a tour but if you walked around yourself it would be free. Some people enjoy living luxuriously and that’s great every now and then but if I can save enough for another trip I am down for that!!
  5. Scale – If big trips are just out of your budget just opt for smaller trips around your hometown or a few cities or state away! These vacations are just as fun, they don’t need to be elaborate or fancy. The most important thing about vacations is dedicating extra time to be with the people you love the most and strengthening those bonds.

Vacations and Holidays are times for us to build family memories and to bond on a closer level. Therefore we value this time together as something extra. Yeah the photos are fun and posting it on social media has it perks but it’s no fun if you are going to be in debt for it. So be smart!

If you have any questions or comments feel free to message me at info@ourhappytalk.com. I would love to talk to you about strengthening your marriage and family and creating a vision for your family that you have dreamed of and making it a reality.


Self Awareness in Relationships

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” -Gandhi

You may wondering what is all this self awareness stuff got to do with relationships and marriage.Being self-aware in marriage or any relationship is an amazing skill that will allow you to communicate effectively and truly understand your environment and be able to take control of your own emotions.  I guess for me my understanding is that if you don’t know yourself how are you able to get to know and love anybody else. Love comes from within, we need to give love to receive love and therefore being aware of who we are can help us develop love for ourselves. (Wow that’s some deep stuff right there haha) But for real though. All healthy relationships come from a deep understanding of self.

Self-awareness (sometimes also referred to as self-knowledge or introspection) is about understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs.

We are literally like a onion we have sooo many layers to us to uncover and understand. I seriously find that the more I go on in life and continue to self reflect the more I connect the dots to why I do and think the way I do.

Self-awareness includes:

  • Understanding our emotions—what we’re feeling and what triggered it—so we can effectively work through and transform our emotional responses (instead of using them to justify unhealthy choices)
  • Recognizing our destructive thought patterns so we can redirect them
  • Tuning into what’s going on in our bodies so we can learn from it and access our intuition
  • Noticing our behavioral patterns and habits so that we can make adjustments to change negative ones
  • Understanding our beliefs, assumptions, and expectations, and how they influence what we choose to do
  • Accepting that we are responsible for our actions—even if we developed certain patterns in response to events from our past

Here are some activities that you can practice and implement into your life to help be self reflect.

  1. List You: What are your beliefs? What do you stand for? What are your likes and dislikes? What are fears?  What are your goals? What do you believe your relationships should look like? What qualities do you have to contribute to your relationship?
  2. Question your thoughts or beliefs. Look at what you have written about yourself and now its time think objectively. For example ask yourself why do I prefer to demand that my partner come straight home after work? Why do I want him always with me? Why do I get mad when he wants to spend time with his friends? Ask yourself these questions whenever those times come up when you are frustrated at something your partner does. If you can’t in the moment then do it when you have calmed down. Is your belief legit or where does it stem from. You can dig deeper and deeper and find the root cause of your beliefs. It may be helpful to do this with a trusted friend, coach or therapist to guide you in the right direction.
  3. Keep a Journal: Not just what you ate for breakfast but include feelings and anything that will help you understand and reflect on yourself more. Like including what you ate for breakfast or why you didn’t how you were feeling in the moment can help when you go back to read and reflect. Writing a journal helps you identify patterns a lot more easier. So being consistency is key for this exercise. Journals are most effective if done over a long period of time from 6months-12months will give you some good insight on yourself.
  4. Evaluate: Now you have seen some of your qualities and recorded your behaviour in your journal.  Set some goals on what you want to work on to improve your marriage or relationships. You can always keep on track coming back to your goals on a weekly basis to see how you are changing your behaviour. Some people need this written down others can just work on one at a time so it’s easier to keep track of. Remember you will not change overnight so keep working on it. Make your goals easy to monitor so you don’t feel too overwhelmed and give up.

 

 


Am I ready for Marriage?

Lets face it we will never be completely and fully ready for anything in life? How many of us were ready to go to school for the first day? Or start a new job or college or anything. I know I wasn’t ever ready but I did it and I became better because I jumped in it with faith and hope and an attitude to work at it. Marriage is a big step and although we may never be completely ready for it there are some things that we can do to better prepare ourselves for this lifelong commitment. Here are some general questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if you are ready for this marriage thing!

Is my relationship with God priority above all else?

If you do not have solid foundations you will not be able to stand. Do you feel your relationship with God is superficial work on it? Your relationship with God is the foundation for any marriage if it is strong you will be able to withstand whatever trials that may come your way.

Have I fallen in Love with Myself?

One of the worst things a girl can do is going into a marriage being self-conscious, jealous and emotionally unstable. We need to love ourselves first. We need to have a deep knowledge and understanding and love of who we are wherever we are at in our life. When we can find love from within us we don’t need to compare ourselves to other women and feel insecure about ourselves. Many women break down and fall apart when their spouse isn’t there for them but as we know how to love ourselves wecan handle these situationsWe enjoy love from others but also know that we don’t heavily depend on it because our love from inside is greater and we know that we have a greater source of love which is God and His love is unconditional.

Am I willing to be Selfless in all aspects of my life?

Marriage is selfless. You need to be doing things for the sake of the marriage not for your own personal gain. From the children to your sexual intimacy marriage is doing things for each other.

Am I willing to be open and vulnerable in my marriage?

When we are open and vulnerable this is where REAL TRUST is built. When we communicate our true feelings and emotions it builds strength in your relationship. Some people may look at this as a sign of weakness but know that when you do this your partner will be able to confide in you as well and you start building true foundations of trust, love and commitment all because you were willing to be open and vulnerable.

Am I humble enough to admit fault and learn?

Humility is big if you are humble enough to know when you are wrong and also willing to admit fault this will take you a long way. Communicating is vital to let your partner know how you are feeling and expressing it in a loving and calm way.

Am I committed to being with this one person through thick and thin and accept where they are at?

Who you decide to marry is not going to change overnight. Too often we want to change them but the fact of the matter is we can’t change anybody. It has to come from within themselves. We as partners need to love them for where they are at and how far they have become. It does not mean we lose sight of their potential but we love them along this journey.

What would you add to the list? Would love to hear your thoughts? If you are working on some of these and would like to get some more personal advice I would love to talk to you. Email me at info@ourhappytalk.com.

xo Tracy


7 Topics to Discuss while Dating

Some of these topics may be hard to bring up especially during dating. But create an environment where you can discuss this openly and honestly. The more open and honest you are with these topics before marriage or serious courtship the less headache and heartache it will be down the road. Keep in mind that this is not the end all be all, opinions and views can change over years of being together.

Childhood Upbringing/Previous Relationships

How did your parents handle arguments? How did you communicate with your parents? How long before issues were solved in your home? What would you do different? What did you love about your upbringing? What were some difficulties in your previous relationships? Whether you realize it or not your upbringing has a massive part to play in how your relationship will unravel. Talking about what your families did and what you liked and didn’t like will help you and your partner know why you do the things you do and what things you want to change. Previous relationships also play a part if you came from a emotionally abusive relationship you may bring these emotions to your current relationship which may hinder your progress together. Talk and discuss ways you can start fresh with each other and not let the past affect what the bright future is able to hold for you both.

Faith and Core Value Beliefs

What church or congregation you want you family to go to? What values you want to instill in your children? What traditions you will be bringing into the home? What morals you wish your children to learn? Are you okay with your spouse having a different faith to you? With different cultures talk about the differences in beliefs and ways of thinking. Find a good mix between the two but don’t feel like all has to be set in stone right now.

Previous or Current Addictions

Have you viewed pornography? How often? To what extent? Have you been addicted to any drugs or alcohol or any form of medications? Knowing this may be able to help you understand your spouse a little better. If they seem to be going back down that track you have already discussed it previously and your partner may be able to help and give support during these times.

Finances

Do you have debt? How much debt do you have? How much are you willing to spend on a car? or shoes? How well do you save? Are we going to have a split or separate bank account? Talking about your finances in the beginning can save a lot of assumptions and headache down the line. Be open about where you are at financially so you can be there for each other and keep each other accountable as you both set goals together.

Autonomy & Boundaries

Do you like your independance? Do you enjoy doing hobbies alone or together? How often do you want to do your own thing? How often do you want to do things with your friends? Do you want a shared FB account? Do we share passwords for all email and social media accounts? Do we have a date night once a week? Do we go to our in laws one every other week?

Children

Do you see yourself having children? What if we can’t have children? Are you wanting or open to adoption? Who will be the stay home parent? Will you both be working? What kind of day care or education do you want your children to have? Will you be paying for college tuition? Children are a massive part of marriage and family life so let’s iron out some of the bigger topics.

Dream Life

Where are you living? What are you doing? Where do you see yourself? How do you vacation? What kind of home are you living in? What are things you want to accomplish? What things can you not live without? What things are you willing to compromise on? What things can you not stand in your current life?

Discuss these topics on a date night? Go through one each day take it slow and go into as much detail as you like. This exercise may take several weeks but as you do enjoy learning about each other and your views on life marriage and family.

 

 

 


Is this TRUE LOVE?

IMG_1400The million dollar question! When we are dating somebody and things have been going steady for a while figuring out if you are truly in love with this person can be a complicated question. For some people can be an ongoing question for years and years on end. There are many types of love, the love of a parent and a child, self love, love of humanity as a whole, superficial love and the list goes on. Today I wanted to focus on the most truest and purest Love ever known to humanity which is the True Love of God.

One of my favorite verse that talks about Love is that which talks about Charity in Corinthians. Charity is the pure love of Christ. We know that Christ had the purest form of love for us as shown by his sacrifice at the garden and on the cross.  Therefore as we try and evaluate our love for somebody we are free to compare it against this definition of Christ. Of course we will never reach his level of perfection but we can try to emulate his love.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the love that Christ has for the children of men and that the children of men should have for one another. It is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul

Charity suffereth long

When you love somebody you are patient with their flaws. We are patient in all aspects whether they are suffering emotionally or physically. We see it through to the end. You understand they are not perfect but you are with them every step of the way in this journey.

Charity is Kind

Being around your boyfriend or husband may mean that they see sides of you that no one else sees. They get the tired you at the end of the day. They get grumpy snappy you. But this is no excuse they don’t deserve to be treated this way. Our spouse is the one we love the most, therefore we need to be our kindest self towards them.

Charity Envieth not

In marriage this can also be referred to as resentment in marriage. Sometimes we resent that our husbands get to go to work all day while we stay at home cleaning cooking and watching the kids. Sometimes we are envious that our wives stay home while we have to go make the money. Envy in marriage can come up in so many ways. So let’s try and appreciate what our situation brings. Let’s not be envious and play the score card game.

Charity seeketh not her own

Marriage is definitely not a selfish road. If that’s what you want you obviously should be looking elsewhere. Marriage is all about serving and loving and giving of yourself. Both husband and wife give of themselves to each other. One is not above the other we are looking to put their interests first always.

Charity is not easily provoked

Oh how easy is it to get bugged at the smallest little thing that your loved one does. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the weeds and not be able to see the bigger picture of the flowers blooming around. Sometimes it’s just easier to let things slip by, pick your battles my friends.

Charity thinketh no evil

Our imaginations are king at this. We love imagining up scenarios that we play in our minds that are seem totally true but in fact our a mere creation of our imagination. Let’s not assume that our partners are always trying to flirt or find someone new. Let’s not assume of the worst possible scenario. Let’s assume the best in our spouse and let them assume the best in us. That is where trust begins.

Charity rejoiceth in truth

Communicating to your spouse can be the hardest but the most rewarding thing you can do in a marriage. When you are open and honest with each other about all areas of your marriage, physical, sexual, financial, emotional you will be able to grow and excel to greater levels of intimacy and trust.

Charity Beareth & Endureth all things

Similar to the first, in marriage we work together to solve and workout whatever trials that come our way. Having charity which bearth all things means that we are there till the end when the going get tough, that is not our time to call it quits we will see it through together until the end.

Charity Believeth & Hopeth all things

Marriage means that you believe and have faith in your marriage. You have a positive and optimistic hope in your marriage that things will work out. You have faith in each other and help see the great things that you can accomplish together. You set a wonderful vision for where our marriage is heading and you have hope and faith in what the future will bring for your marriage and family.

If you can tick these off in the ways you feel for your partner you can know that you working towards true love. As husband and wife or partners this is our goal and our aim to develop this kind of love for our spouse. The same kind of love that Christ has for us. His love is perfect and it never faileth!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this piece. If you have questions or thoughts comment or message me at info@ourhappytalk.com.

With Love xo



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