The Real Story Behind the Smiling Faces

So we went on vacation.

It was fun and we all had a great time! But since I've heard many moms say they "read into" pictures of others that they see on Facebook and often are left feeling worse about our own lives, I thought about telling the real story behind the smiles you see in pictures.

I'm wondering if I'm the only mom who can relate to my experience, or if my telling of this will bring laughter and relief to others who then won't feel so alone in their mom-ness...

I, being the lone planner, already realized that summer time is not going to work for family vacation. Between missions, summer school, camps and jobs, there is nary a week that we will all 5 most likely be available. So spring break it must be. (Vacation doesn't happen every year, but our time is running out!)

I have to bring up vacation very delicately as plans are being concocted. Anyone else have a hubby who isn't thrilled about going on vacas?? Mine isn't, until we actually go, then he has fun and is glad we went. But I have to prepare myself for the slight face he will make when I bring the subject up, followed by a miniscule but discernable groan, then a resigned "just tell me where to be".

Great! Will do.

Now to work it out with the rest of the family. I fight the battle alone, which has its good points and bad points. Good points, I can plan whatever I want and just tell everyone when and where to be. For one who likes to make the plans, that works for me! Bad points, I have to carry the burden of being the one to fight through all the obstacles to get it planned, and "force" the family fun time with those not gung ho on going. Ha. Forced fun. What do I mean? Having older kids means they have a million things to do, so here we go.

College daughter had to decide what trip to go on, friend trip or family trip. I tried my very best to keep it open to her choice, without expectation. Cuz I really meant it. Of course I wished, but I also wanted her to be free. Will she come? It was sad to think of not having her, but I knew it was reality that she might not and that would have to be ok. Sad mom moment.

Middle daughter stresses about asking off work. She was really needed at work on spring break, but I had to tell her this is our only chance to go anywhere. She also loves to be home. Even as a newborn. I don't know how this is possible, but as a baby, if we left the house after 7:00pm in the car, she would scream at the top of her lungs from her little carseat until we got her back home where she wanted to be. And spring break is her birthday, so to ask off work AND be gone on her bday was a double whammy. So do I torture her for her birthday? Confusing mom moment.

Youngest is all for the trip and woo hoo-ing. Of course she wants college sister to go, but I tell her I'm not sure, it's up to sister. I have youngest on my side, so therein is my hope to continue planning. Happy mom moment.

I'm worn out at tiptoeing through all the want to's and don't want to's, the schedules to work around and the feeling that I'm the only one who seems to care. Though I know, through experience, that in the end, all will have a blast, and be so glad we went and thank me when it's done. Press on.

If they only knew how exhausting it is to get us there!

College daughter decided at last minute to go with us, so we had the whole fam. Middle daughter had a blast after all and found a perfect little gelato place to have birthday cone instead of a cake. Hubby turned into life of the party, had big fun, rode a rollercoaster 10 times in a row with the girls and was glad we went. Youngest loved it and touched a dolphin at Sea World so her day was made. Everyone thanked me at the end for planning such a great vacation. (ha) (cue credits)

I just want you to know the real story, when you see those perceived "perfect family photos" of us smiling in front of Sea World (so I've been told). Pictures look perfect, but there is a lot of normalness and realness behind the scenes, in our family too. In everyone's family...even in those that appear perfect on Facebook.

Why do we do that? I've done it too. Look at pictures of others that are posted on Facebook, and feel worse about our own lives? We assume others are perfect and amazing, because of a smiling picture captured in one second.

Let's be honest and bring some relief- no one family is perfect and there are struggles of some sort in every situation. Families are imperfect, with good moments and bad moments. That's the real story!


The Chocolate Pudding That Changed Our Lives

In the days of teens, jobs and busyness, family dinners that have long been a tradition have become much more difficult to secure!

To ease this problem, since January this year we have started Wednesday night dinners. That's the one night each week everyone should be home by 6:00, ready to eat. It's the only night of the week that we know everyone is free and not working. I somehow also declared that it would be a night that I would try new recipes.

Thankfully I added that no complaints could be uttered if I tried new things that didn't work.

Now it seems every time I turn around it is Wednesday and I'm scrambling for a new recipe and something homemade, wondering what possessed me to add that last declaration!

We've had taco night where I attempted my own soft corn taco shells (not so much), tilapia with corn salsa, brussel sprouts and mushrooms, individual little salads as shown above, a new homemade mac n cheese, and the chocolate pudding that changed our lives.

One of my cooking secrets is this: when I google for a recipe, I enter the adjective that I'm feeling. For example, "yummy cornbread" or "amazing homemade pudding". Isn't that goofy? But I find the best recipes that way.

The night I made the pudding, my daughter and I tasted it before dinner. We swooned and went into fits over how good it was, then secretly (between us) ate a whole bowlful each BEFORE dinner, as we watched an episode of "Good Luck Charlie". Then we silently ate it again with the family at dinner.

We were sick to our stomachs after dinner. We ate ourselves silly with this pudding.

It's good cold, it's good warm, it's extra good with Cool Whip.

Of all the recipes I've tried, this has gotten more comments than any others. Everyone says it's the best pudding ever.

So I know you'll be wanting the recipe, so it is listed at the end of this post. But first, another little thing we added to our dinners, well most of them...topics! Since everyone is older and can think through issues on their own, someone comes up with a topic to debate. Don't be too impressed. Sometimes it lasts 3 minutes because no one is into it, and sometimes it's long and almost passionate.

We've discussed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, teachers carrying guns in school, what we would do with a million dollars if we had to give it away, polygamy, the new pope and many more stirring controveries. Sometimes we have extras at dinner and they have to play too. Very interesting what emerges in conversation!

Anyway, here's the recipe. (Warning, take care making this. Stay with it, don't get distracted. It takes a little care and stirring). ENJOY!!!

This recipe is from TASTE OF HOME so of course it is good.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Directions:
  • In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. gradually add milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon into individual serving dishes. Chill until serving.  Yield: 6-8 servings