June 8

How to Build a Father–Step by Step (Part One of the Fatherhood Series)

If you want a man to be a great father, you have to give him the time, the tools, and the title that he needs in order to succeed.   It’s that simple.Page_1  How to Build a Father–Step by Step.

Men are not complicated creatures.   If they’ve had an opportunity to grow and mature into men, the rest is pretty simple.   Give him a mission and some space to work out his own way to accomplish the mission, and he’ll get it done.   Fatherhood is no different for him.
Give him the title:  Dad.  Pop.  Father, or whatever other title you decide.   Give him his mission: Raise happy, healthy, well-rounded, disciplined children.  And give him some space to figure out how to get that done.  Then stand back.  And, most importantly, resist all urges to meddle with his methodology.  Let him decide how best to be a father.  Let him decide how he will interact with, guide, and discipline his children.  Do not try to alter his methods.

I’ll bet those last few lines made your stomach lurch, didn’t they?   Well it’s true.  I think what makes poor fathers is meddlesome mothers.  I think what makes aloof fathers is nagging mothers.   And I think what makes absent fathers is wives and mothers who drive those men away.

Now before you get your tail in a twist, I acknowledge that there are bad seeds in every bunch.  Some men are just not cut out to be husbands and fathers from the start (just as some women shouldn’t be wives or mothers).   Some simply don’t want to be there.   I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about the men who set out to be amazing husbands and fathers and put their all into the job just to have their wives and sometimes even the children demoralize them and beat them down until they throw their hands up in frustration and quit trying.

There was a time when dad’s rules ruled.   I believe we need to get back to that.  Here’s why.

If you want your man to provide for your family and lead your family …
If you want your man to commit to your family …
If you want  your man to put his family before his very own life . . .

then you have to agree to be lead by him.
You have to agree to commit to him.
You have to know and understand in your bones that to him, you all come before everything else.
You have to trust him.

And if you do that–truly honor him, respect him and trust him– he’ll give it everything he’s got.  The man will die fulfilling his commitments to you.

If you second guess him, correct him, belittle him, reverse his decisions, sneak behind him, make his children question him, nag him, laugh at him, or ignore him, he will not know where he fits in to your home life, so he will steadily remove himself from it.

That’s how most men’s brains operate.  Yes, there are exceptions, but the vast majority of men need to know where they fit into the family dynamic in order to take their role seriously.  And once they know where they fit in, and once they know that you have placed full confidence in them to get the job done, they will move mountains for you.

As part of our fatherhood series, we are going to talk all about how to create a plan for parenting that you can both live by that will strengthen your bond as husband and wife as you grow as a mom and dad.    But it all starts right here.   Today.  Ask yourself these questions:

Do you want a strong father figure in the lives of your children?  Or do you want to make all the decisions and do all the work of raising the children alone?

Do you want a father figure who is mentally and physically available to your kids?  Or do you want a man only on the periphery, merely providing a paycheck to help with financial support?

Do you want a parenting partner?  Someone to help with frustrations? Someone to offer ideas and support?  Or do you want to navigate the waters of parenting alone without anyone meddling in your decisions–be they right or wrong, good or bad.

Lastly, what are your biggest fears as a parent?

Think about those, and then move on to Part Two.

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June 11

Old Fashioned Blueberry Muffin Recipe

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Ahhhhh…big, sweet blueberry muffins just like grandma used to make!  Who can resist them?   Here’s a quick and easy old fashioned blueberry muffin recipe to bake with the kids, or for that perfect weekend morning treat.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or melted shortening
1 cup fresh blueberries (or 3/4 cup frozen)

Sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees for regular size muffins or to 350 degrees for giant muffins

Grease bottoms only of muffin cups

Combine first 4 ingredients

Mix in remaining ingredients just until moistened.  Battery will be lumpy.  Do not over mix!

Spoon into muffin cups filling regular size muffin cups 2/3 full and giant muffin cups over full.

Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake regular size muffins for 20-25 minutes or bake giant sized muffins for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Run knife around edge to loosen.  Remove immediately.  Serve warm.

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June 7

Old-Fashioned, Spicy Hermit Bars

Old fashioned hermit cookie recipe

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Any seasoned cook will agree that vintage recipes are the best recipes!  Here’s one for good, chewy, soft, old-fashioned hermit bars.  They are a treat for kids ages 1-95.   Here’s a quick and easy recipe for the perfect bar, just like your mom used to make.

These are extra good on a cold winter day!  Eat them with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Fabulous!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

1 egg–large (NOT jumbo!)

1/4 cup Molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/4 cup unbleached, white flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

OPTIONAL:  1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Step One:  Mix first 4 ingredients until well blended.  I like to use the flat end of my silicone spatula to cream the ingredients together.

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It’ll look like this:

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Step 2:  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

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It will be thick.  Turn your spatula to the mixing end so you can easily scrape the bowl clean and blend everything well.

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and after a minute or two, it will make a ball.

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Divide the ball and make into 3 sausage shaped strips.  Place on UNgreased but well seasoned baking sheet.

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Flatten the strips like this:

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Bake in 375 degree oven until little cracks appear. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT OVERCOOK!  They won’t look quite done, but there will be little cracks all over them.

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Cut into strips and enjoy!  They will have the consistency of very moist brownies and be soft.  See the one in the photo that has dark edges?  That’s because this batch is overcooked.  Don’t do that. 🙂

They are great warm or cooled.  Especially tasty paired with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!!

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June 5

How to Create Perfect Love

Crazy, sweet, passionate, true love.  The kind of love that makes a man experience a feeling almost like pain deep in his heart.  Where he feels completely captivated by her.  When he feels a tenderness and a desire to protect and shelter her from all danger, harm, and difficulty.   It’s the kind of love we all hope for.   It’s what we dream about as little girls.  It’s old-fashioned, life-long love, and we can all have it right here right now.  How to create perfect love . . .

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Perfect, true love is not selfish.  The woman who can bring about this kind of love in her husband helps him find a deep happiness and fulfillment.  The woman who does not robs him of one of life’s greatest sources of joy.  And vice versa.  We owe it to ourselves to learn how to build such a relationship.   And it need not be a difficult task.  All we, as women, need to do is to learn how to understand men.   Yesterday we touched upon one of the steps to understanding men.   Today we talk about the qualities in women that men look for in a potential bride and lifelong soulmate.

Have you ever seen a couple that included a strikingly good-looking man and a somewhat homely woman and wondered what he sees in her?   The ideal woman in a man’s eyes is a very different creature that what you’d imagine.  Studies conducted throughout the last one hundred years have shown that when asked about what is important when looking for a potential mate, female physical beauty was nowhere near the top of the list for men.  Nor were the other qualities that women tend to assume men would seek like talent and intelligence.   Consistently men have shown a strong preference for girlishness, tenderness, sweetness in character, and a deep understanding of men.  Men have a very different interpretation of female beauty.  They place more importance in the “sparkle in her eyes”, how she smiles, how she radiates joy, and her feminine manner.  In other words, we are all able to cultivate the magical aspects that attract men and perfect love regardless of our physical presentation.

In the book Fascinating Womanhood, the author breaks down the attributes of an ideal woman into two parts–The Human side and the Angelic side.  The Angelic side has to do with a woman’s basic good character and her ability to understand men.   It also includes her domestic skills and her sense of inner happiness that she radiates to the world.  The Human side refers to a woman’s appearance and actions and her feminine qualities.  It also speaks to her dependence on a man for care and protection.  And lastly it includes a woman’s good health and her “spunk.”  Together, the two sides create what most men would call the perfect woman, and both sides are essential in winning his perfect, true love.

Each side awaken different feelings in a man.  The angelic side awakens feelings akin to worship.  It brings him peace and happiness. The human side awakens feelings of fascination and enchantment.  It awakens his desire to protect her from all danger.  And when he has the opportunity to feel all of these things for a woman, a man is said to “cherish” her.

That’s our goal.  We all want to be cherished.   To do that we need to find all the pieces of this puzzle and put it together.  Yesterday we talked about the most important step to understanding men.  Acceptance.  Accept your husband as he is.  Do not try to change him.  That step falls into the “Angelic side” of the female character.   No man really wants to be in a relationship with a woman who he does not see as a little bit of an angel.  He might enjoy her very much, but he would not ever fall deeply into love with her because to do so he must admire her to the point of worship.   I know this sounds like a lofty goal, but really the Angelic traits that can create this state of mind are not difficult to achieve.

There are four parts to the Angelic qualities–Understanding men, deep inner happiness, a worthy character, and good domestic skills.   If you read and completed yesterday’s post, you’re already well on your way to understanding men.   The next thing to know is that that men don’t think like women do.  They don’t approach problems like women do.  Nor do they have the same needs that women have or the same sense of values.

For example, love is essential to both.  To be admired is essential to both.   But to be loved is more important to women and to be admired is more important to a man.   One of our biggest problems in our marriages today is that we assume that our husbands will want to feel the same things that we feel, so we supply him with the same.   Unfortunately, that’s not what he needs.   So he doesn’t respond with the same tenderness that we expect and all sorts of hard feelings and misunderstandings result.   Next thing we know, we are snowballing our way to a miserable existence.

To avoid that, we need to be aware of the 6 Characteristics of men.  Here they are:

1.  His need to be accepted just as he is.

2. His need to be admired.

3. His ego/ his pride

4. His need for you to understand him

5. His need to be number one in your life

6. His need to be the guide, protector, and provider for his family

Tomorrow we’ll continue on with our lessons by looking at number 2–His need to be admired.  If you have not yet read and completed yesterday’s lesson, tonight is a good time to do that.   See you back here tomorrow!

June 4

Proven Steps for Improving a Marriage

Is your marriage as happy as it could be? Do you fear your marriage is heading for divorce? Is your husband distant? Does he seem cold and uncaring? Does it feel like your marriage lost its spark?  Read on for some possible insight as to what might be going wrong as well as some proven steps for improving a marriage.

Are you living a typical, modern American marriage where everything is split 50/50? The bills? The chores? Childcare? Do you have separate checking accounts? Do you have and plan separate retirement accounts, if you have one at all?

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On a typical night, is it unknown who will prepare dinner? Are you thinking right now that it won’t matter because it’ll probably be take out? If we are in agreement so far, it’s likely that the kids don’t care who is home because they are on their electronic devices, and it doesn’t matter anyway because they don’t seem to respect mom or dad. Mom and dad are both exhausted and they fight a lot. The house is a mess. The laundry is piling up. The lawn needs to be mowed and there’s no time to do it. Grandma is wasting away in a nursing home and you only get out there once a week, if you’re lucky. Life is a mess.

Is that you? Or something similar?

If so, I’ll bet there is an underlying sense of distrust. Disgust. Anger. Jealousy. And Suspicion. Living separate but equal lives –which is what you’ve been doing until now– breeds those kinds of attitudes. Why? Because you have only “become one” on paper. You’ve left a wall of distrust between the two of you in every other area. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

For thousands of years there was a system for marriages that worked, and it worked because men have certain tendencies and needs and women have some very different tendencies and needs than men, and it just so happens that the two –when honored–fit together like a lock and key. The new modern system of living doesn’t honor any of our natural tendencies or needs. That’s why you are miserable. That’s why your husband is unhappy. If your marriage is suffering, you might benefit greatly by giving the old system a try.

The system works beautifully. Think of how many elderly couples have beautiful marriages that have lasted a lifetime. How did they do that? Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share the answer to that question and more with you. If you want to improve your marriage, you can. It’s not too late. But it will require that you clear your mind and open your heart to the possibility. Are you ready? Here we go. Step one.

Now I know that your opinion of your husband might not be terribly high right now. Hard feelings will deflate anyone’s passion and understanding for another, but I’m going to talk about the single most important step in repairing your marriage right now.

That step is to accept your husband for the man that he is. <GASP!> Yes. I know. How can I say that? And how can you do it? He’s a mess. He doesn’t put out as much effort to your home or to your marriage that you do. He spends money on stupid things. He doesn’t spend as much time with the kids as you’d like. Or any one of thousands of other complaints. Yes. I know.

But the first step to fixing all of the things that ail your marriage is accepting him and his ways of doing things. It means accepting his hopes and dreams. Accept his weaknesses and faults. Accept that he insists on wearing gym socks with sandals or the way he eats one row at at time off of the corn on the cob. Accept his quirks. You do not need to agree with everything he thinks and does. You just need to accept and respect his right to think and do them.

I’m also not asking you to ignore his weaknesses or tolerate them. Acknowledge that he is human. Acknowledge that he has faults, but then turn away from them. Find his positive traits and focus on those instead. You will find that with some practice your own attitude will turn to one of happy acceptance. You will no longer feel the need to change him. Instead you can focus on building a life together with him.

More than likely if you haven’t completely accepted him in the past, you’ve tried to change him. And it’s likely that you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you don’t try to change him. I used to think the same so I’m going to respectfully argue that you do, but perhaps in ways that you are not even aware you are doing it. Maybe you see yourself in this list of ways that women try to change men:

Attempting to change his eating habits and/or table manners

Nagging him about his driving–speed, directions, or choice of vehicle.

Complaining about his cleaning habits or lack thereof.

Advising him regarding swearing, drinking, smoking, belching, or talking too loudly in public.

Telling him where and how he should spend his money.

Nagging about his playing video games or watching t.v.

Nagging about his neglecting household duties or repairs, yard work, and household bills.

Complaining to him about his lack of social graces or courtesies.

Pushing him to spend more time with the kids.

Complaining that he doesn’t attend church or spends too much time on church activities.

Leading him to be more manly or to be more strict with the children.

Pushing him to have more ambition or maybe even less lofty dreams.

Do you see yourself in these? I’ll bet you do, but you have good reasons for doing those things, right? Yes. Women try to change men for lots of reasons. But whether it be to improve life for yourself or your children or for his own good, you still need to stop doing it. Why? Because it is causing problems in your marriage and nothing else is going to get better until you stop doing this first.

When you nag and push and complain and try to change him, you are destroying the love between you. You are creating tension and resentment. You are hurting his ego–a huge no no, and one that we will discuss at length tomorrow. When that happens, the love between you can actually be completely destroyed. Trust me. He is aware of his weaknesses but he expects you to look at his good points just as you expect him to look at yours. How would you feel if he suddenly decided to compare you to other women?

Trying to change him doesn’t work. He will simply dig in and rebel. You will only find yourself in a worse position than when you began. You will find yourself in a place where he can’t bear the sight of you. He will start staying out later and later. Your marriage will crumble.

So how can you help him to improve himself? You can’t. You have to be ready to accept that he is going to stay exactly how he is today. But here’s the thing. He can change himself, and when a man feels that a woman completely accepts him as he is, he is often inspired to become even more. When he believes that you are proud of the man he is, he will want to become a better man.

So where and how do you begin this process? Start by giving him his freedom. Let him do everything exactly as he wants to do it. Don’t coach him on how to dress, what to pack for a trip, what to eat, where to go, how to do anything. Don’t counsel him on religion or politics. Don’t lecture him on health. Let him solve problems for himself. Let him learn as he goes. Let him know his choices and allow him to use his own free will to make those choices. Let his spirit be free. It’s the only way he can develop as a human being. Why is it that we as women have such difficulty with this? Why do we struggle with allowing men to be the kind of men they want to be without interference? Why do we try to control them?

One of the hardest lessons I had to accept was surrounding my own self-righteousness. But it was true. When I pointed out my husband’s faults, I was putting myself in a position to judge. But did I have that right? Was I better than he was in any way? Am I a better person? No. I just didn’t believe I shared that particular fault, so i felt qualified to judge him. But I certainly had my faults. I may be better with cooking than he is, but he’s better with budgeting than I am. I might be better with deciphering legal contracts, but he is a better negotiator than I. He stays naturally lean and fit while I struggle with my weight. And the thing is that he has never once tried to point out his superiority over me with any of those things. Never. He accepts me just as I am. Yes. My greatest lesson was learning that it was I who needed changing. Not him.

I needed to stop demanding, giving ultimatums, criticizing, nagging, pushing, pulling, pressuring, suggesting, hinting, or comparing him to others. I needed to accept him. I needed to look beyond the faults and see the positives. When he was not paying as much attention to the children as I thought he should, and I looked past that, I saw a man who was working 60 hours a week then coming home and trying to fit in household repairs and other domestic chores. That was admirable. To then nag him for not spending time with his daughters was ludicrous. He was already stretched beyond his means as it was. He was doing the best he could.

Likewise when I was tempted to scold him for being difficult at work, I had to look past my worry about him possibly losing his job as a result of his defiance. I had to look into his world where i was shocked to discover that he walked into a literal battle ground every day. In his world there is a constant battle of one man over the other to try to stay on top or risk their jobs and everything else in their lives. He had to fight at work just to maintain his position so that he could care for us–so that he could keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. That was also incredibly admirable (and humbling.) My husband was not careless or inept. He was a warrior. And I’d failed to see it.

And when I did and he saw that I respected him and trusted him to do things on his own, his attitude began to shift to one of a more confident and happy man. From that point on, everything began to improve.

In fact it’s true for most marriage that women marry then try hard to change their husbands, but men marry hoping that the woman never changes. Unfortunately it is the exactly opposite that happens in both cases.

So here’s your assignment for tonight.

Step One: Accept your spouse in every way.

Step two: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Gather your courage. Punch down your ego. Sit him down and tell him that you’ve messed up. Tell him that you are sorry. You’ve judged him in the past. You’ve not been supportive of him. You had not understood him. Tell him that you are very happy with the kind of man he is and that you are happy he didn’t let you push him around. You are glad he’s held to his convictions. And then ask him to forgive you and let you prove to him that you are ready to accept him exactly as he is.

Step three: Make it a point every day to see his better side. What are the qualities that he has that you can admire. Find them. Focus on only them. If something comes up that makes you cringe, turn away from it. Do not criticize. Focus on the positive.

This is the beginning of a major change for your marriage. The moment you begin to focus on his better side, you will see an evolution beginning to occur. You will see hope.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the next key.

Feel free to comment below with his reaction to Step 2. Some will be shocked and relieved that the years of his agonizing self-doubt are over. Some will be pleased. Some will react with sarcasm because your relationship has been so rocky for so long that they won’t trust what you’re saying. No matter how he reacts, just listen. Don’t criticize. Don’t argue. Just listen. Agree. If he says he doesn’t believe you, agree. Tell him you can see why he might think that because you’ve never respected him in the past but you’re ready to change and you want his permission to try.

Tell him you’re reading about how to change, and you’re going to give it everything you have.

And I’ll see you here tomorrow.

PS. Please note that problems with alcoholism, drug addiction, and abuse are specifically excluded from any of the above. Those issues should never be blindly accepted and all require professional assistance for all parties involved. Please do not hesitate to seek assistance in any matter that jeopardizes the safety of you or your children.