How to Thanksgiving Table Ideas

No one warns you.

You’re just curling your hair and drinking coffee and trying to figure out if spaghetti squash is a thing when suddenly life lifts you up and spins you around and makes your heart flip because you discover that your kids are teenagers…

…and you haven’t buckled your seat belt.

Who knew?

You’re still filling sippy cups and replacing binkies and washing spit up out of your shirt.

And then one day you blink….

…and someone asks you for mascara.

I found this story in the archives when I was working on a project and I literally laughed out loud.

This one’s for the teenager in all of us. 🙂

Thanksgiving Table Decor

After the twins were born, I stood in the middle of my living room one evening, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep with seven day hair, wearing pajamas covered in spit-up…

…and wailed plaintively to my mother.

“How can I do this?”

“I’m not going to make it.”

“They are totally winning.”

Then I wiped my face, brushed the hair away from my eyes, inhaled and exhaled several times and then stood patiently waiting for her words of wisdom.  I mean, after all, my mother is brilliant and experienced and wise and….

…has never met a good piece of advice she didn’t like.

(total aside:  I’m not sure how it’s happening, but my mother is getting smarter and smarter with every year that passes)

Thanksgiving Table Ideas

But for once, she didn’t say a word.

She just took one look at me and laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed some more.

Then she offered up this sage piece of wisdom that made my heart beat faster and my palms sweat and shivers run up and down my spine…

“This is nothing…just wait until they are teenagers.”

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That was 12 years ago.

But I’ve never forgotten it.

Sometimes I would look at those cherubic faces and sweet smiles and tiny hands tucked into mine and bright blue eyes so full of wonder and joy.  I’d listen to those little voices that chirped out the funniest things that made me laugh out loud….

….and think about what she’d said.

Was it possible?

Could they?

Would they one day roll their eyes at me and say things like “Whatever” and “I am so sure” and toss their hair and stomp their feet…

…and demand a tattoo and jeans full of holes that cost $200.

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And even though I worried, I thought I kept all these concerns to myself.

I thought I played it cool.


I mean, why borrow trouble?  Why give anyone ideas about what might be ahead on the horizon?  I wasn’t even sure they understood that sometimes being a teenager could be challenging for parents.

Until the other day.

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The twins tromped into the kitchen whispering and laughing and hiding something behind their back.

“Umm..Mom?  We have something we want to show you.  Something to make you feel better.  Something so you won’t worry.”

Two sets of twinkling blue eyes looked at each other conspiratorially and then smiled at me with mischievous grins and handed me a piece of paper.

“This is for you, Mom.”


It was a one-day-I’m-going-to-be-a-really-nice-teenager contract written on a purple piece of construction paper scrawled in their own handwriting that read:

“I promise you that I will try to be a good and nice teenager.

And if I am not…you may pull out this contract and show me.

I will try to be nice and kind to all people around me 

and follow rules

and the ten commandments.

Thank you for your appreciation.”

And at the end, it was signed and dated.

Super official looking.

Thanksgiving Table Ideas DIY

I wanted to laugh.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to call my mother and tell her she was wrong….because the next couple of years would be a breeze.

I mean….seriously…..I had a contract, right?

But I didn’t pick up the phone.

I simply smiled and told them how proud I was and tucked that purple construction paper contract away in a drawer for safe-keeping.

After all, I want to be prepared in case someone turns 13….

….and decides to appeal.  🙂

PS  When I wrote this story originally, they were 12.

They are 14 now and I still have the contract and so far, so good.

I haven’t had to pull it out once. 🙂

PPS  I added a little thanksgiving inspiration in case you stop by here for the pictures.

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  1. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    That's another little early-morning tear jerker, Miz karianne. So cute. And you may be right....I mean, a contract IS after all, a contract! Right?

  2. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Sometimes KariAnne, I get so caught up in your story I don't pay close attention to the photos. This was one of those times. I actually had to go back and scroll through the photos at the end! The girls are too precious! So glad you haven't had to pull that contract out! ? PS My daughter was a delightful teenager. Hugs, Cecilia

  3. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I love your stories! And my boys were easy, it was my daughter that was the challenge. Oh, not with me! She and her daddy were stubborn all with the eye rolling and stomping off. Perhaps he needed the contract :-) Have a wonderful day and yes we mom's get smarter every single day.

  4. Image for Maureen Maureen

    Sweetest daughters ever! They will become even more fun as they become adults. I love spending time with my adult daughters. You will too! Beautiful pics as always!

  5. Image for Suzy McCowen Suzy McCowen

    So funny! My kids are now in their 30's and many times they are still kids, but these days they are my friends!

  6. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    Good parenting takes a lot of hard work. You and your husband are obviously very good at this. I can look back and see where I made mistakes with my children but they have turned out to be very impressive young adults and I am so proud of them both.

  7. Image for Shirley Shirley

    Your daughters are adorable KariAnne.Hope they are recovering. I always hoped I'd have twins. My Dad is a twin & so was my Mother in law& my Dad's sister had twins so I thought it would be a possibility. I had my two children five years apart & it was hard work - I can't imagine how you cope with all the feeding& poop X two! My daughter was a nightmare when her hormones kicked in . But I was awful to my parents when I was 13. What goes around comes around.... They are amazing lovely grown ups now.

  8. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Wonderful contract-and they didn't have to do it! My daughter signed a pledge when she was 6 yrs. old...she's 33 now and she has held fast to it:)

  9. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    You know how this works don't you? We first read the post...then we go back and look at the pictures! Loved this story! My 3 sons, late twenties...early thirties...never gave me a lick of trouble. I thought they were angels. Only now, am I hearing some of their mischievous stories! Gotta love teenagers! ;)

  10. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    FOURTEEN!! You blinked! I'm sure your wise Mom told you not to blink. Your boys and the twins are a credit to good parenting! When children are well-loved and taught to respect others and love God, they usually turn out to be the cream of the crop. You are blessed, they are blessed!!

  11. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    oh, girlfriend... mine are now 19 & 21 (with birthdays coming soon). I, like your mother, laugh and laugh!!! Although I wouldn't really want to relive teenagers again, it's a whole new set of DAILY LIFE, every single stage. I'm still praying for quick healing of your babies. Sometimes, it's harder when they start feeling "better" and want to over-do it. Hang in there.

  12. Image for Liz Liz

    Enjoyed reading your post. My son is 37 and I feel blessed to have enjoyed all the years of his growing into a man...I just wonder where the time went. Each year brought new moods, new adventures as well as knew lessons for both Son and Mom! I do want to ask about your room color. This is a beautiful shade and I would love to know what brand and shade you have used here. Thank you-

  13. Image for jenni jenni

    yeah...about the whole contract thing. i made up the contracts for my half dozen. it was simple, to the point: you hereby promise not to turn into a weird teenager, a mean-ager. to always be kind to others, especially your mom and dad, and to be cool. that was it. not asking a lot. i needed to sue for breach of contract. it was one of the hardest things i've ever done to raise those teenagers. right there next to burying my 11-year-old son. i thought i had saved the best for last...the twins. they took the longest to change into something else in those teenage years. i wept, i shook my head, i wondered if they would ever amount to anything. so i figure...the harder the work you put into raising a child, the better they turn out to be. even if they break your heart during those years and ignore the contract. "don't take any of that personally," my daughter said when i went to visit her. truth told...i raised the most amazing people and they have the most amazing people.

  14. Image for Michelle Michelle

    How sweet of those girls! I especially love the ten commandments promise. Yes, I would hang on to it...just in case. But I have a feeling, even if they might slip with an occasional eye roll or two, those girls aren't going to give you too much trouble. They're just lucky they have a mom with a sense of humor, who can laugh in the face of adversity. Should it come up, that is. Which I don't think it will. Seriously. Don't worry ;-) Bwwwaaaahhhh

  15. Image for Tania Tania

    Count yourself lucky! My only child has put me through HELL... hell I tell you!!! She is 26 now and we are both still reeling from the things she has gotten into! Don't get me wrong, I love her to death and we have always been super close and had a great relationship... but as kids sometimes do, she got herself into some trouble that she just had to live and learn through and unfortunately as her mother I was drug along for the ride!! Tania

  16. Image for Susan Susan

    The best Mom has the best babies and that's as it should be! Thank goodness you are the type of people that can appreciate one another...bless you all!

  17. Image for Toni Toni

    Priceless! Thank you for sharing! And may you never have to pull out that contract! God bless you and your 14 year old angels.

  18. Image for Kathy Kathy

    You're very lucky! I was with my daughter too. But the aliens do come. At some time, some place, some age, even for a day or two. . . or years. The aliens do come and take your perfectly wonderful child and replace him/her with a copy that looks just like them, but is nothing like them. At all. Being on the other side now, I can pretty safely say, that one day the aliens do return them. Grown up. And wonderful. All over again. Thank heavens. Your daughters are just darling. I have a good feeling about them!


    KariAnne. just love reading your posts! You are just such an amazing lady! May God continue to bless you and your hubby with raising your precious family. Have a blessed week-end! We continue to pray for your twins and trust that the healing process will go well for each of them. God Bless you and your wonderful family.

  20. Image for Lisa Hains Lisa Hains

    What special young hearts this story reveals, Karianne! Many years ago, as our family gathered around the dining room table celebrating our son on his 13th birthday, he had a similar inspiration! Taking one of the special birthday napkins, he inscribed a beautiful "contract" on the back, promising to be a good and well-behaved teen! It was so precious---and like you, I saved that important document...until a house fire.... And by God's grace, he was a well-behaved teen! He stayed true to his promise, and gave us much joy and many happy, proud memories! I have believed that if we expect the worst from our teens, they won't disappoint us...but the same can be true for believing in our children...that regardless of how turbulent the times may be--loving them unconditionally...and always being there, encouraging them in what is good--has a profound impact on their dear hearts!!!!! They deserve and need that love from us! As invaluable gifts from God, they are too precious to treat otherwise!! Sounds like you are doing a great job! THANK YOU for sharing your delightful heart...and inspiration!! HUGS! Lisa

  21. Image for RAMANDA RAMANDA

    had a sign on my fridge during teen yrs at our house that read Teens Get a job Move out WHILE YOU STILL KNOW EVERYTHING!!!

  22. Image for Sheila F Sheila F

    I'm laughing out loud! For REAL! L?VE your Mom! L?VE your girls! L?VE you! You've GOT this! (ALL of y'all's GOT this!) ? ❤️❤️❤️

  23. Image for Heather Heather

    This totally made me tear up. I have 5 year old twins and right now THEY. ARE. KILLING. ME. Like seriously, I thought their infant/baby years were hard. I feel like I already have teenagers. Don't get me wrong, they are so sweet and loving but so FULL of energy and sass and I can barely keep up. But reading this post gives me hope because I could totally see my girls writing up a contract like this. And if they don't, I'm pretty sure age 5 is preparing me for the teen years. ;)

  24. Image for Richella Parham Richella Parham

    Love this post! Let's hope you don't need that contract, but whatever happens it'll be better faced with a good sense of humor than without one. Bless you and your sweet 14-year-olds!

  25. Image for Mary Mary

    How sweet those girls are! You are a lucky Mom (and Dad) and it shows you've done a great job with your children. Kudos to you and your family.

  26. Image for Beckie Beckie

    This brought tears to my eyes . How proud you must be of your children . I especially loved the part of following the Ten Commandments. Feeling a little blue though . I'm feeling like I didn't do a good job with my son . We raised him in church we taught him Gods word . But he chose different ways . Makes me sad . You are doing a great job ! Always pray over them . I have a feeling you already do <3

  27. Image for Mary Anne Russo Mary Anne Russo

    Beautiful story! I have raised four wonderful children myself, they also gave me a contract, and I have never had any issues with anyone one of them. They are 31, 28, 26, and 24, . They're all God loving adults, doing great things for society ! You are doing a great job with your children, keep up the great work!

  28. Image for Kim Kim

    I have four daughters, no contract and it was a breeze! The now range between 27 and 32 years old and I would do it all over again! Enjoy your daughters because obviously you have raised them right! Congratulations!

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