Bad Days Can Have Good Endings

Alexander screening familybringsjoy.comSaturday our family had the wonderful opportunity to screen the upcoming movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  That is a very long title for a movie.  Try to say that fast!  I will refer to the movie as Alexander for the rest of this post. 😉  Oh and in case you are wondering what the full movie poster looks like (since I couldn’t squeeze it all in my selfie pic to the left.)

Alexander movie poster

I’m always super grateful when there is a movie in which every member (our kids ages 16 & 11) of our family can enjoy watching it together.  Family values movies seem to be few and far between these days.  I watched the following trailer once before going to the movie.  In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

I wonder how many other moms might have cringed a little while watching the preview…wondering to themselves, “do I really want to pay to see a bad day?”  To be honest, I thought that.  Yet, I knew Disney would make it right and they did.  Alexander has something for every member of the family to relate and laugh about.  It turns out the movie is based on a children’s book written in the early 70’s by Judith Viorst.  If you liked Steve Carrell in Date Night then you will like him in this movie as well.  Steve plays Alexander’s father.

“As a dad I can totally relate to this movie. Things tend to not go the way that you think they’ll go. But there’s always a contingency plan. There’s always a backup. Things go wrong in life and I think that’s part of the charm of this movie: Everyone experiences those days. It’s all about how you struggle through and keep your dignity and your sense of family and fun and the kind of love that is pervasive between the characters in this film.”  Steve Carrell

steve as ben

I am a huge fan of Alias, so I’m always excited to see Jennifer Garner.  I enjoyed seeing Jennifer play the mother roll in The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  She doesn’t disappoint in this movie too.  It’s interesting I brought up Date Night and The Odd Life of Timothy Green, because if you mix those 2 movies together, you can sort of sense how Alexander is (without the magic aspect.)

“I don’t think I’ve ever played anything closer to my real life. Not that I have days as bad as this, but just days with the chaos of having a bunch of kids in the house—when there’s a kid peeing on the floor, and the dog is throwing up and somebody’s about to step in it, and you’re trying to get dinner on the table. I can definitely relate to the idea of trying to do too much in a day.”  Jennifer Garner

jennifer as kelly

The family portrayed in Alexander does have a really bad day, but what I like is how the family deals with the bad things.  The Dad is an optimist and is always telling the children to hop on the ship of positivity.  Families can learn a lot from these characters.  My 16 year old son really laughed out loud during the driving test scene. He is about to take his driving test, possibly tomorrow.  I’m truly hoping it doesn’t go the way this one did.

Alexander driving test scene

There were so many good quotes I wish I had written down while watching Alexander.  Most of them were said by Alexander.  The following quote, however simple, is completely true. “You gotta have the bad days so you can love the good days.”

Alexander card

Alexander is a definite family values movie…a must see!  You won’t be disappointed.  Let me put it this way…I don’t like to buy movies or watch them more than once.  Yet when I left the movie I thought to myself, “We need to buy that movie when it comes out on DVD.”  Bravo!  Well done!  Take your family to see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day this weekend.

Just for you, my awesome readers, I’m including the recipe to Ben Cooper’s Quiche he made in the movie.  Quiche is one of my favs.  Can’t wait to make it myself.

alexander quiche

Click on this link for a PDF copy of Ben Cooper’s Crustless Quiche Recipe

I will conclude with the Cooper family sitting down at the table for meal time…hope you’re family is sitting together for meals. (You know how I feel about that)

Hash Tagged blessed,

One Adventurous Family

Big Blue Bus Tour from Amy Earle on Vimeo.

Oh my goodness.  THIS IS SO COOL!

Look at what my friend and her family are doing. “Our family is on an adventure! We’re spending the next six months living and traveling on an old school bus!”

I found Amy on Vimeo back in January 2012.  You can see that initial post I wrote about her and video here.   I fell in love with her family.   The above video has made me do that all over again.

Since meeting her online, I’ve had the opportunity of taking one of her photography classes online.  Not only is Amy a great photographer, but she is a great teacher as well.  I am not surprised she is offering free photography workshops…she is a sweetheart!  If you live in the west area where Amy and her family are traveling, I highly recommend you take one of her FREE photography workshops.  Go visit this amazing family and feel of their warmth and strength.  You can find out more about Amy’s Big Blue Bus Tour by clicking here.

Amy Earle"s big blue bus tour

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Amy Earle to write this post.

Happy Tuesday,

The Art of Saying No to Your Child

Not long ago I shared a post about the difficulty of seeing our children experience disappointments.  This was a huge eye opener for me.  Even though it is difficult and quite heart wrenching for us as parents to watch our child experience disappointment, it is quite necessary for their future as a healthy adult member of our society.  That particular post titled Re-experiencing Life’s Disappointments the Second Time Around I focused on disappointments that are out of our control.  For example, not making a team they tried out for, not becoming first chair in the band, not getting the part they wanted in the school play, etc.

Today, I want to focus more on the disappointments our children face we as parents DO have control over.

I was reminded of a time when I was in elementary school.  I’ve always been social.  My friends and I enjoyed having sleep overs at each others house.  One day I asked my Mom if I could spend the night with a friend of mine and she said, “no.”  I think my friend and I had already talked about all the fun stuff we were going to do together that night, so I was very disappointed my Mom said I could not go.  In my mind I was sure I was going to miss out on what would be a life altering time with my friend.  I felt I was going to die.  I remember pleading with her over and over to please let me go to my friends house.

My Mom finally said to me, “You can ask me until the moon comes home and the answer will still be no.”

Has anyone ever heard this phrase before?  Where in the world did that come from?  The moon will not be coming home, which I’m sure is the exact point, but still…funny thing is…I found myself saying the exact thing to my Daughter when she would not take no for an answer.  Has something similar happened to you?

Over 17 years of parenting I figured out there are other ways to say No besides using the actual word No.  The word No usually solicited a horrible response from my kids, especially when they were younger.  More importantly, it was good to use these tactics while in public.  I’m not the kind of Mom who can tune out their kids whines and tantrums, nor do I want to be inconsiderate of others and make them witness my child’s fit.  Who wants to go shopping only to hear a child screaming in their ear?  I certainly don’t.

Shan’s tactics on saying No

  • “If it’s under $___, yes.”

For example, recently my youngest asked if I could buy her a book she found while we were at the store to buy groceries.  I knew how much the book was.  I think it was about $10.  So I told her, “If it’s under $5 I’ll buy it for you.”  She looked at the price and put the book back on the shelf.

I’m a firm believer in NOT buying your child something every time you go to the store {even if you have the money.}  If you do, you are potentially breeding entitlement.  If you begin the habit of purchasing something for your child every time you go to the store they will expect it.  What does this teach your child?

  • “I’ll think about it.”

Even if in my mind I know the answer is no, I’ll say “I’ll think about it” so as not to illicit a meltdown.  Since my kids do read this blog from time to time, I have to say that not every time I say “I’ll think about it” means I’m thinking no.  For the sake of this post, when I do know the answer is no, saying this phrase gives the child time to ponder the possible answer will be no and it alleviates an immediate tantrum or argument.  I find the kids are more likely to take the no answer after using this tactic…basically time.

  •   “Not today.”

This says, we aren’t going to get ice cream today after school but we will in the future.  Pretty simple, but not having to use the word No.

  • “Maybe”

This one is very similar to “I’ll think about it” and gives the child time to contemplate the reality of a possible no answer.

  • “Absolutely NOT.”

This is used in severe cases like when my Son asked me for an iPhone.

  • “Let’s do that next week.”

I use this when we are having a busy week and we really can’t fit the activity they are requesting into the schedule.  This could also be “let’s do that tomorrow” or “let’s do that next month.”

  • “I don’t have enough money.”

Early in our marriage and family we didn’t know if we could pay all the bills.  We had a budget and we tried diligently to stick to that budget.  When kids are young they don’t understand what a budget is.  As they get older I believe it is important to explain what a budget is, explain what a checking account is, explain what a credit card & debit card is.  The younger they are the more likely this answer will not be a fit preventive.  But as they get older and understand what this means, what more can they say to that?  It is completely okay to share with your children if you don’t have the money to pay for frivolous things they want.  I heard this phrase as I was growing up and I appreciate they saw fit to teach me about money.  Do not ever let your pride of not making enough money put you into debt because you don’t want to disappoint your kids.  One day they most likely will be where you are and they need to realize it’s okay; that you can make it through the tough time of making ends meet.

  • “You don’t have to like it.”

This is used when the kids say, “I don’t want to do _________.”  There are SO MANY things we have to do in this life that we don’t like to do.  It doesn’t matter if we like it or not, we have to do them to survive.

  • “Let’s do _________ (this) instead.”

This is a good one because the child doesn’t feel like they are losing anything.  And really it’s the art of compromise which is essential in relationships.

For example, it’s Friday and your child asks, “Can we go bowling tonight?”  Maybe you are tired from a long day at work and you don’t feel you have the energy to throw the bowling ball down the lane, so instead you say, “let’s go to the movies instead.”  Another example: “Mom, can we go to the mall and get me some new jeans?  The ones I have don’t fit anymore.”  You know you can’t afford mall jeans or you don’t want to go to the crowded mall on your day off.  Your reply could be: “Why don’t we check out the consignment store downtown instead?”  OR “Why don’t we go to T.J. Maxx {love that store} instead?”  OR “Why don’t we check out the garage sales tomorrow instead.  There are supposed to be some good ones in the neighborhood.”

  • “Sure, you can use your money to pay for that.”

Nothing like teaching your child the value of money then by allowing them to make purchases with money they’ve earned or have been given for a birthday gift.  I can’t tell you how many times I have said that to a child and they reply, “no, I don’t want to spend my money on that.”  They learn quickly how they can live without something if they have to buy it using their own money.

  • “No, no, no, no, no, no!”

This was my reply to a recent Son’s text about getting an iPhone.  Sometimes you do just have to say NO. 😉

Hopefully these No tactics can help you when you need them.

See the big picture,

A Promise For Families

Watching the convention together

For the first time in my life I watched the Republican National Convention this week.

My husband was in shock stating Wednesday night, “You don’t like politics.”

He’s right.  To me, politics is a bunch of people arguing and quite frankly I don’t like the negativity involved.

So why did I watch?

I like Mitt Romney.  I trust Mitt Romney.  I believe Mitt Romney will lead America to where our Country needs to be.  Besides, citizens need to be informed on matters this important.  It is our duty, before we vote, to research and learn about the candidates that will lead our country.

And yes, he is a member of my Church.  We share the same beliefs.  So why not support a candidate who shares my same values.  Think about it.  Wouldn’t you want to support a member of your Church?

Faith aside, I am impressed with Mitt’s success in life.  He is positive, upbeat and is passionate about America and the values our forefathers envisioned this country to be.

I was so impressed with all of the speeches…many filled with warm fuzzy moments including the following video:

No matter your political affiliation, it’s about great leadership and what’s best for American Families.

“My promise is to help you and your family.” Mitt Romney {last night}

I’m with Mitt,

The Healing Powers of Hope

Why do we have books?

We have books to learn, right?

It definitely depends on the book.

My Story

Scriptures aside, for many years the only books I ever cracked open were nonfiction books.  Still, the category of nonfiction is broad and can include many different types of books.  The books I used to read on a regular basis were considered Self Help.  For the first 14 years of my married life I immersed myself in reading about Organizing, Family, Parenting, Marriage, Home Improvement, etc.  However, included in the nonfiction category are also books that present facts about subjects, like real people, places, and events. Biographies, autobiographies, newspaper and magazine articles, personal and persuasive essays, histories, and textbooks are considered nonfiction writing.


It was in 2008 where I had my first taste of fiction books.  I realized how these books offered me a way of ‘escaping’ my reality for a short time.  Up until that time, I used television and movies to facilitate my ‘escape.’  So for the last 4 years {again Scriptures aside} I have read 110 books.  Out of the 110 only 4 were nonfiction.  You might say I have made up for lost time, huh?  Let me remind you, several were read by way of audio book format. {You can read more about how I do that here.}  Audio books have made even the most menacing tasks tolerable and sometimes actually enjoyable.

Enough with the history…

Her Story

Instagram photo I took

I shared with you last month how I ordered Stephanie Nielson’s book Heaven Is Here I received this book on June 28th.  I began reading the book on July 24th.  You see, even though Stephanie is my hero…even though I wanted to find out more about what happened in her tragic accident…this book, her book, is a true account of her life.  There would be no escaping reality by reading her book.  Sure, it’s not my reality, yet it is of someone I highly admire and look up to.

I feel it important to relay to you I have never met Stephanie Nielson.  I did not read her blog NieNie Dialogues before her tragic plane crash. {note: she had 200,000 faithful & devoted readers before the accident}  I was introduced to Stephanie and her family when the news hit about her and Christian’s {Stephanie’s husband} accident.  A good friend of mine {thank you Emily} told me about what happened. {I’m not a news watcher.}  My friend thought I might be interested because Stephanie is a blogger and a member of our Church {not our local congregation.}  Not only that, her blog readers were instrumental in saying prayers and raising money to help the Nielsons.

Since the Nielson’s accident I have read her blog, watched her videos and listened to a radio show {interview with Stephanie & Christian} about what happened.  I really don’t want to sound like a broken record and go on and on about how inspiring she has been for me.  The point I’m trying to make here is this 1) Nonfiction hasn’t been my thing lately 2) I knew it would be difficult to read the details of someone I admire share her experience of being burned over 80% of her body.  Thus the reason it took me a while to actually open the book and begin reading.

Once I began reading I thought to myself, “Shan, why did you wait?”  It shouldn’t have surprised me how easy it is to read Stephanie’s story.  There is a reason she has 5 & a half million visitors a day {mentioned in their interview recorded a couple of years after the accident.}  She is a good writer.

The first section of her book/memoir is called Part One and is 11 chapters.  These chapters are about Stephanie’s life before the accident.  More importantly, the strong bonds of the family she came from and the one she has created with Christian.  As I read Part One I learned more about her personality.  There were many instances where I saw, in a way, a younger version of myself.  She talked about how she had short hair and didn’t care if boys don’t like her because her hair was short.  She wanted them to like her for who she is on the inside, not just on the outside.  Plus, like me, she is a hopeless romantic.  This was a surprise.  Just as reading about her and Christian’s courtship was a pleasant surprise in the book.  Their love story is like a fairy tale.  And it definitely does not end after they are married.  They are very much deeply in love, even today.

It was chapters 7-11 that affected me in a way I never saw coming.  These chapters are the Nielson’s happily ever after.  It is the story of how their family came to be.  It is stunningly beautiful.  Their family life is also like a fairy tale to me.

My Story


In walked the comparison monster. {insert creepy music}  I began to compare my family life now, the one my husband & I have created together to the Nielson’s family life.

I know.  I know.  Comparison is not good.  Besides, a wise person once said, “Never compare someone’s middle with your beginning.”  In this case it would be the opposite.  Never compare someone’s beginning with your middle.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for the Nielsons.  I’m not jealous.  I just wish our family now is a fairy tale family like theirs.

“What?!” you might exclaim.  “The name of your blog is Family Brings Joy.  Doesn’t this mean your family is perfect and happy all the time?”

I wish I could say a resounding “YES!” to that question, but I can’t.  Life doesn’t work that way.

Right now our family dynamic is somewhat tumultuous:

Much Younger Me

I have always dreamed and fantasized of what it would be like when I had my own teenaged Daughter.  It was going to be awesome.  We would have so much fun together all the time.  We would be close.

I hate it when people would tell me how awful it is raising teenagers.  {Especially when my kids were colic babies}  I was determined to prove them wrong.  How could they be so negative?  Don’t they know we young parents don’t want to hear things are going to get bad with our kids.  We don’t want to hear about how they will want to ‘break away’ from the family to express their individuality and all that nonsense.  When we are in the thick of things, we want hope for the future.  Because each stage of our parenthood has a degree of difficulty.  We weren’t given a manual when they were born.  We learn as we go.  Most of the time we do what was modeled in our own families as we were growing up.  Anyway, turns out raising a teenaged Daughter hasn’t resulted in the way I dreamed it would.  And honestly, people telling me that her behavior is normal {hate that word} or not out of the ordinary does not help how I feel.

Raising a Son has been like learning a foreign language.  He’s almost 14 and very smart.  It amazes me all the trivia he has stored in his mind.  However, he lacks optimism and zeal for life.  I’m trying to put a positive spin on him being obstinate, oppositional and defiant.  He gives me the most gray hairs and knots in my muscles.

My youngest Daughter {9} works diligently at trying to make me happy.  Bless her heart.  Because of the older two, I accept her willingness to obey and her cheerful optimism about life.  I do it gladly and somewhat greedily knowing there might come a day that it will end {I still hope not.}  Her smiles and love notes are some times the only things that get me through the day.

My husband has a very demanding career where he puts in a lot of hours.  In addition, he puts in a lot of hours serving as Bishop of our local Church congregation.  One of his hobbies is running.  He currently is training for his 3rd marathon.  Are you seeing where 1+1+1= very little time with the family & I?


Now put all these people together, including me with all my imperfectness, in the same room.  It is not your fairy tale family.  There is a lot of arguing among the siblings.  The volume of the voices are at a level I do not like.  It does not matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to help.  As parents, my husband & I get emotionally drained refereeing.  I’ve worked diligently at teaching my children values.  I’m not sure you would believe that if you were around them very long.  I’m too tired to share all the ways we have tried to make a change.  Just trust me, there are MANY.

I started thinking, “surely there has been a time in our family where we were happy.”  Sure enough there is and it was when my kids were younger.  I remember my Son running to me, giving me a tight squeeze in the middle of the day and saying, “I love you, Mommy.”  I remember giggles and play-dates with friends.  I remember fun family reunions and vacations.

But, I wish we could still be happy while the kids are older.  Isn’t it possible?

Then comes the light bulb moment…more like a reminder.  We all have trials.  Every family has trials.  Every person has trials.  They are all different.


Her Story

Let’s go back to Stephanie.  I have not finished reading her book.  I’m at chapter 18 now.  It is Part Two where she explains what happened in the plane crash and horrendous aftermath.

I wrote the following on my personal Facebook page on July 26th:

I’m stopped at Chapter 15 for tonight. I can’t read anymore. It’s so heart wrenching. I hope I’ll be able to fall asleep after crying. I’m so grateful to know Stephanie’s progress since their accident. Oh my goodness what she went through…

Stephanie’s honesty about her days upon waking from her medical induced coma is difficult for me to read.  It makes me incredibly sad.  My heart feels for her.  This trial she endured {and continues to endure} is something I can not comprehend.  It is difficult to read her words without crying and sometimes sobbing.  This is why I can only read a little at a time right now.

My Story

Look at what I learned about myself while reading only half of this book?

Is it possible that my unhappy family right now, this huge trial for me {I know this might seem like a big stretch} could be likened to the Nielson’s tragic accident?  I mean no offense to anyone, especially not to the Nielsons.  I have not suffered the same physical agonizing pain as they have from being burned on 40-80% of my body.  I definitely don’t want to belittle what they have gone through.  {Don’t worry, I’m not asking for monetary support of any kind. Prayers are always helpful, though.} On the other hand, I have deep emotional ‘burns.’  I believe our Family can be together forever, beyond this life.  Family is very important to me. {Hopefully that is evident in this blog.}  It is agony to not feel unified in our family.  {Stephanie & Christian’s families played a crucial role in their recovery.}  Many times, being the Mother, I feel it is my fault.  This starts the cruel shame wheel that plays, “You’re a failure.” on repeat.  I then go over and over in my mind what I could have done to prevent this.  It’s sometimes easier to think it’s something I have done, so I can feel I have control and be able to make a positive change.  I can control me, not them.  Maybe I’ve been escaping too much to my fiction books and need to dust off those nonfiction ones again?

So is there hope?



Heaven Is Here‘s sub title is: An incredible story of hope, triumph, and everyday joy It is completely that.  Even though I haven’t finished her book yet, I know how this story in Stephanie’s chapter of life ‘ends.’  She is alive and well.  She just had their 5th child!  She is as beautiful as ever.  She is an inspiration…one of the most positive people I know.  Every time I see a photo she posts on Instagram I am grinning ear to ear for her.  If Stephanie can overcome being burned on 80% of her body.  I can overcome this trial in my life.  She gives me HOPE.

Last but not least, I HOPE after baring this burden, you will not give up on visiting this humble abode of a blog.  This is real life…I believe in families…I still believe families can bring Joy.

Disclaimer:  Once again, I have not been paid by anyone, including the Nielsons, to write this post.

Hope is powerful,

Family Friendly Resources









Internet Protection for your Family

Is your child safe from Pornography?

I am seriously looking into purchasing this product for our family.  It has porn blocking software, profanity masking, instant message and chat room monitoring, social media monitoring, and my favorite TIME MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE.  With Net Nanny’s Time Management Software you can establish limits and create schedules for the amount of time and/or appropriate times of day each family member accesses the Internet.

Family Gardening

Family Gardening Resourse






We used this wonderful resource to plan our family garden last year.


Family Friendly Movie Reviews

Family Friendly Movie Reviews





This site helps you to evaluate whether you want your family to see the latest movies at the theater.  I use it quite a bit.


Family Values

Values Parenting Resource



Values Parenting is a phenomenal resource for any family.  I highly recommend perusing through their awesome articles.  They have a whole course titled The Happy Family.

Concrete Mothering






I am linking you to the Concrete Mothering section of  I had the pleasure to see Shawni, Young Mother of the Year, speak at a Women’s Conference last year.  The Concrete Mothering section of Shawni’s blog is chock FULL of excellent advice from this special woman.

Family Dinner

Our family values dinner time together.  I have written about it here, here and here.  Blog For Family Dinner is AWESOME.  You will come away from this site with a renewed desire to have dinner together as a family.

Time At The Table Pledge









I just took the Time At The Table pledge.  Pledge your family today.  Make 2012 the year of family dinner!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to advertise or write this post.

Happy Family Friday,