Category Archives: Family

On being a swim mom, a room mom, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend…

$10 Date Nights-Savoring my Valentine

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!  We don’t do much special for Valentine’s day, but this year, we’ve added something new to our weekly plans—a date night!  Honestly, this hasn’t been possible in the past.  Our parents don’t live in town and babysitters are expensive.  But, now that the kids are older, we are able to get away.  Date nights can get expensive quickly, so we’ve had fun finding “cheap” things to do.

A year of $10 (or less) date nights.

Here are the rules for our date nights:

  1. On the calendar
  2. Intentional
  3. No Phones (except to consult the Scrabble dictionary)

Our goal is simple: Have conversations about life, about dreams, about fears.  Savor our friendship with one another.

If your kids are younger, see what you can do to get away for a bit.  Ask your parents, trade babysitting with another family, find free kids’ nights out at churches or gyms.  Whatever you do, make it intentional and spend a little one-on-one time savoring your valentine.

A Handmade Christmas


A Handmade Christmas.

What does that mean to you?  To me it means handcrafted ornaments, personalized gifts, and lots of extra love.

I always have a grand plan to create personalized pieces for each family member, but something always gets in the way, maybe time or money or even the thought that my work isn’t good enough.

This year, I have a game plan.   If you’d like to create your own handmade Christmas, you’re welcome to follow along with me.

handmade Christmas

Let’s get started!

Let’s start with a few questions:  Why? Who? What? How? When?

  1. Why?  Why are you giving gifts?  Why this list of people?  Why DIY?
  2. Who do you need to gift to this upcoming Holiday season?  Family? Friends? Teachers? Your hairdresser?
  3. What do you want to gift?  Will everyone get gifts created around a theme?
  4. How are you going to craft these gifts?  What is your favorite hobby?  Do you love to sew?  Would you rather bake?  Is glitter more your style?  Do you want to learn a new skill or try something new?
  5. When are you going to do all this?  What kind of time do you have between now and Christmas (be honest)?

I’m taking the next few weeks and answering these questions myself.  I won’t answer all of them publicly because I do want my Christmas gifts to be surprises.   But, that “Why?” question:

Why am I giving gifts?

I know that for many people it seems super-early to be discussing Christmas gifts.  And it is, unless you are planning on creating them yourself.  But before I dedicate all this time and effort to creating gifts, let me tell you why I do it.

I give gifts at Christmas out of tradition.  We follow this tradition because it’s an opportunity to show my family and friends that I love them with a tangible presentsitem.  My kids don’t get lots of extras throughout the year.  It’s fun to spoil them with something significant at Christmas as a tangible way to say “I love you.”  They get a few small things (books, pjs, cds, new goggles or swim caps, art supplies, etc.) from Santa and then 3 gifts from us.  Usually these 3 things are a store-bought biggie (budget $75-100), something Mom-made, and a gift that the whole family will love (video or board games or movies).

I show love at Christmas because that’s what Christmas is all about.   I believe Christmas is the date we have selected to celebrate the earthly birthday of Jesus Christ.  The act of Jesus coming to earth as a humble human baby was an act of love as part of God’s ultimate plan for us.  You can read more about that here.  What better way to celebrate than to show love to my family and friends!

LOOK FOR FUTURE HANDMADE CHRISTMAS POSTS about making time to craft, the true cost of handmade, wrapping and presentation inspiration, and ideas for dads, teens, the family chef, the diva, the boy, the doggie Momma and more!

There are links in this post.  Some link back to this blog.  Some link to things I love and just want to share.  Some link to referrals for which I am compensated.  For more info, please check out my Shipping Links and Disclosure Statement.

Back to School 2015

5th and 8th grades


Just to compare: 

2014 (4th and 7th)


2103 (3rd and 6th)

2012 (2nd and 5th)

2011 (1st and 4th)


2010 (K and 3rd)


2009 (2nd)


2008 (1st)


2007 (The very first 1st day!)

100_1419[6] (1)

JUST A NOTE:  The past two years, I’ve taken a pic every single day of the school year.  These collages are so much fun to look back at.  This year I’m posting my pics to instagram.  You can see them at #countingtheschooldays.

Our Holiday Spruce Up List

IMG_4049_thumb1_thumb.jpgWe have 42 days until Christmas.  Between now and then, we have to finish one 7th grade science fair project,  2 camping trips, 2 swim meets, an orthodontist appointment, 3 Christmas choir concerts, and a Saints game.  And somewhere in there, I’d really like to get a few things done around the house.

Enter Organized Christmas’s Holiday Home Spruce Up.  I’m sorta following along with their plan for getting your house and heart ready for Christmas.  I’ve made several lists.  The list that has been the hardest has been our holiday spruce up list.

Now, it’s not hard to find things we want to do around here.  It’s hard narrowing down the list to something manageable!  We started with a dream list of 40 items and got it down to a list 10 items that we can do ourselves in less than a few hours.  Here they are:

  1. A  replace garbage disposal  $150ish
  2. C  clean spider webs out in carport
  3. B  attic ladder :  $175ish
  4. C  deep clean laundry room
  5. B  new mats at door
  6. B  hang shelves
  7. C  organize bathroom cabinet
  8. C  LEGO organization
  9. C  hang pics in hallway
  10. A  boxes GONE

The As, Bs, and Cs are how we’ve prioritized them.    I should also note that 2 other items made our short list–if we can find a really good deal.  We’re watching Groupon for carpet cleaning and duct cleaning specials!

So…what’s on your honey-do list for Christmas?