Monday, December 5, 2011

“On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…”

Written by contributing writer, Trina Holden.
Chances are this week you’re in the thick of making a list and checking it twice and I’m sure you don’t think you need one more thing to think about. But even while encouraging simplicity this Christmas, I’m gonna throw out a unique challenge.
I’m gonna suggest you add one more thing to your list.
Your husband.
Yes, I know you have him on your list already, and maybe you’ve already found just the right gift to bless him on Christmas Day. But what about today?What about the busy weeks counting down to Christmas, when your time and energy are stretched to fulfill all that this season requires of you as a wife and mother and homemaker? Is there a way you can keep this most important relationship – this man God has given you, in the forefront of your thoughts, maintaining your friendship even in this hectic season?
There is a way you can add a little holiday spice to your marriage. It’s so simple, it’s almost corny. But I’ve been keeping this little tradition with my husband for 6 years and every year he says it’s his favorite part of the whole season.
We call it “Twelve Days” but it has nothing to do with Partridges and Pear Trees. The idea is that I give him a little gift on each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. The gifts are not big, often just a favorite cookie or candy, but the value of the gift lies in that I’ve thought of him. When he finds 3 envelopes on the ‘Third Day of Christmas’ or a half a dozen of his favorite cookies on Day Six, his eyes light up like a kid at Christmas, and I fall in love with the tradition (and him!) all over again.
If you’d like to start this tradition in your house, it’s not too late! I usually call Dec. 13th our ‘first day’, so you still have time to gather some things from around the house or on your next trip to town. Here’s a list of items to get you started…
Day 1: Any single object – this is where I usually spend a little money and give him something I’d otherwise have tucked under the tree. A hat, tool, piece of masculine jewelry, etc.
Day 2: Think pairs! Socks, gloves, matching mugs for him and her, sunglasses, pants, long underwear, tickets to a concert or a game.
Days 3, 4, 5, and 6: What comes in packs? Golf balls, socks, briefs, favorite candy, guitar picks, favorite beverage, refills for his razor.
Days 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: Higher numbers get a little trickier – just think ‘small’ and you can do it! Cookies, packaged and delivered to work. A CD with 11 songs. Post-it-note love notes hidden through the house.
Day 12: Think ‘by the dozen’ or ’12 months in a year’. A magazine subscription, coupons for a monthly date night or a dozen chicken wings for lunch.
More ideas…
  • A book or film with a number in the title
  • A series of emails or texts sent to him throughout the day
  • A gift certificate or coupons for his favorite meal
  • A collection of poems (Haiku is a quick and easy!)
  • One year I publicly praised my husband by posting 10 things I loved about him on my blog.
Get Romantic!
  • Decorate your bedroom with a number of lit candles
  • Love letters — New or old
  • A custom CD if your favorite love songs.
  • Coupons to redeem for a massage — given by you!
Once you’ve collected your little gifts, wrap the items up and stash them away where he won’t find them. I jot down which gift I’m giving him on which day in my day planner so I don’t forget. I also like to plan when and how to present each gift — under his pillow, on his vehicle seat, in his work boots — so I have everything thought out in advance, and I can pull off our little tradition with ease despite the rush of those final days leading up to Christmas.
It takes just a little extra effort on my part to fit this in with everything else, but it is totally worth it for the sparkle it brings to our relationship at a time where it might otherwise suffer. It helps me keep my man my priority even when so many other things call. I look forward to Dec. 13th and eagerly anticipate to the look on his face when he realizes his favorite tradition has begun again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Have I Done?

So there's a girl in ZoeBel's class that's not the nicest. She's not the head of the class. She's not the prettiest. But she's got Queen Bee and Mean Girl written all over her. She manipulates. She's alternately hot and cold toward the people who try to be nice to her. She has the top boy in the class (who'a kinda cute, too) wrapped around her little finger. Other moms dread their kiddos playing with her because of how she makes everyone feel. ZoeBel had her party this weekend, too. We had a good few kids that came since some were sick, some had been camping all weekend, it was Memorial Day and sometimes plans simply change. The other little girl's party was on Sunday. And two people came. It made me want to cry when I found out today. And then I found out ZoeBel was invited. When I asked her she said, "It was just _______. You don't like me playing with her anyway." And I wonder what kind of mother I am.

We've discussed this particular girl with ZoeBel before. How maybe she shouldn't hang out with her all the time but we still need to be nice to her and show her Christ's love. but PLEASE don't spend a lot of time with her or start acting like her. I've even suggested we invite her over for a play-date. ZoeBel was not too enthusiastic. I'm nice to her when I volunteer at school on Fridays. And this made me want to bawl my eyes out. I've never made friends easily. I'm socially awkward and flat out just weird. I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. I remember when my cousin asked why I didn't wear something since I liked it and I told her I wasn't confident enough. As I'm typing someone commented on a post on FB that I originally brought up-she agreed with the two people who commented on what I'd suggested. And I get upset. Now if I'd known about the party I would have urged ZoeBel to go. I worry that we don't have their friends over a lot.

So maybe it's time for another talk with ZoeBel. And time to schedule a play date with the mean girl. As it is I think I've only seen the girl's mama once, maybe twice. maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe I'll meet another mean girl. All I know is parenting is hard, sometimes we never grow up and I wonder what that mama thought about no one coming to her little girl's party-I know how I would have felt...

Monday, March 21, 2011

So what does it cost to feed a family of six?

Well, I decided to look at we use in a day. It's a bit more difficult because I'm not the one home with the girls, but Justin is all in for helping me, since he's rather curious as well. To start off let's get a few things straight. We shop at the commissary and Costco for the most part, looking for deals on produce at places like Henry's, Frazier Farms (local to our neighbourhood) and occasionally Sprouts. Our family size varies. We have RachelLynn half the week. The other three are gone every other weekend. Justin and I don't eat much when the girls aren't here, partly due to not knowing how to cook for two, partly due to apathy. We make most of our own bread and bread products-save tortillas. And I'd love top get a tortilla press but that's for a later date. We don't eat a lot of processed foods, though we do eat crackers, microwave popcorn and a few other things. Hopefully this will also curb our eating out. Not really a huge problem with the food, but Justin and I kinda (really) like Diet Dr. Pepper from McDonald's. But we'll see what happens with that...

So for today: Breakfast :$1.95
6 eggs. $5.89 for 5 dozen, so $.60
4 whole wheat tortillas. $1.83 for 11, so $.64
About 2 oz cheese. $12 for 5 lbs (actually close to $11 but couldn't really remember), so $.30
2 7 oz bananas, $.47/lb, so $.41
We forgot milk (don't worry, the girls get a ton of liquids and calcium).
Justin and I didn't eat-I know, most important meal of the day and all...

We're still figuring that one out. Like I said, we make our own bread. We've been meaning for a while to figure out how much it costs (definitely not $3 a loaf like at the store) but haven't sat down to do it yet. But the girls had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and carrots and ZoeBel had mango, crackers and a boiled egg for snack. ClaireBeth had somewhere between the two. I had leftover stew and biscuits (more stew than biscuits) and a boiled egg. And Justin doesn't remember to eat half the time...

Dinner: Total non-leftovers: $4.36
Pork chops. 1.95 lbs at $1.66/lb, so 3.24
Mashed sweet potatoes from leftovers, so no clue.
Same with the salad-spinach, boiled egg, mozzarella, craisins, carrots, corn, broccoli-yum.
For sake of simplicity we'll figure everyone drinks their milk, so today we're looking at 52 oz milk. So 2.75 a gallon (we'll stick with this throughout as well) and we're looking at 1.12.

Justin and Jessica Snack: 2.24
Smoothie pack. 1.79.
Last quarter of a bag of frozen strawberries. .45
handful or two of spinach. 2.5 lbs for $3.79 (the main reason we joined Costco. Seriously)???

Snacks we'll start figuring tomorrow, partly because it involves weighing stuff and the like. But we're looking at less than $10 a day, if we're conservative. Well, maybe a little more with the smoothies. And since we're going forward, not backward, we won't include the half a bag of Reese's Easter Eggs we've been noshing on...