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Mommy, wife, family life.

How I taught my children to be grateful.

Some days I wonder if my kids really know how truly blessed they are. We all have those moments when we feel like life is falling apart because something goes wrong, but is it? Do we stop and take a minute to put things in perspective? Human nature dictates that we see the negative and dwell on it. Something goes wrong and it ruins our entire day. We are faced with a problem and we see the bad instead of looking for the good, instead of looking for the opportunity that the problem presents. I was pondering this, as one of my children was struggling. So I decided it was time for a serious intervention. After contemplating the issue, I came up with a plan. Dinner...served at the Gratitude Grill.

Here's how it works:
First, I created a menu.

Each item listed on the menu has a code name. Each person is given their own menu. They write their name on the front cover and then open it up to read the instructions.

I listed 17 items in the menu and numbered them.

4 courses will be served. Each person chooses what menu item they want to eat for each course. They can only choose each item one time.

The menus are collected and the first course is served.

The different combinations went from totally normal, to comical, to getting hardly any food. It was fun to watch the resourcefulness of the kids figuring out how to eat food without proper utensils.

After each course, everything is taken away before the next course is brought out.

Below is the menu and each item's code name:

Rolling Stones - Meatballs
It's a toss up - Salad
High riser - Roll
No guts, no glory - Spaghetti
Digit topper - Olives
Yellow brick road - Butter
Giant's demise - Green beans
Winter wonderland - Ice cream
Monster madness - Cookie
Snow white's surprise - Apple juice
Farmers friend - Water
Lovers embrace - Spoon
Divide and conquer - Knife
Magic wand - Fork
Pipe snake - Straw
Pine forest - Toothpick
Hip to be square - Napkin

You can mix it up, create your own names, the possibilities are endless! It was fun to create the code names and try not to let the older kids figure out what they were. My oldest daughter figured out "digit topper". And my second oldest figured out "lovers embrace". But those were the only ones! Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Some pointers I learned:

-Label each item with a sticky note and it's corresponding number.

-Keep a copy of the menu in the kitchen so you can keep track of what is what.
-Have help! Especially if you have a large group. My husband and I served our 7 children and it got a little crazy. (We ate afterward). If you're doing this for a large party, you could have someone dishing food, someone serving food and someone clearing the table.
-You can change the number of courses. We did 3 courses and it was a little difficult with 17 items. For the download. I revamped the menu to have 4 courses instead.

Click here to download my menu. Print it from a computer. Click on "print on short edge" under the print options for double side printing, otherwise it will print one side upside down.

After our dinner, we talked about having gratitude for the things we have. Even if they are small. Sometimes we go through life and don't realize how lucky we are to have so many little things we take for granted. I asked them what they learned from this activity. Some of the comments were,

"I learned that this is fun! We should do it every night for dinner!"

"I learned I am really grateful for a Fork!"

"Sometimes you have to be resourceful."

"It makes you realize that you are accountable for your decisions."

"I'm grateful that I got my salad dressing on my salad and not on my ice cream!"

After dinner was cleaned up, we all gathered around the table again to make a gratitude journal. The rule was,
Every night, you write at least 3 things you are thankful for. If you can, write a few sentences about each thing. The catch is, once you have written that you are thankful for something, you can't use it again. This trains our brains to look for the good instead of the bad.

You can easily make a journal. We folded a piece of card stock in half to make the cover of our book.

Next I printed pages for the center of the journal. You could print some here with this cover.

Or just fold your own blank paper.

Then we stapled the book together.

Each of us decorated our own cover with sharpies and washi tape.
Some of the older kids found quotes to add to their journal covers.

Everyone wrote in their journal. So far so good!

I hope that these ideas will help you and your family to be more thankful and show gratitude this holiday season.

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