February Date Night – Progressive Dinner With a Twist

This was a group date. We had an amazing night. A year or so ago we did the Progressive Dinner With a Limo Date Night. It’s basically a roll of the dice chooses where we go for each course. We still did the limo and the dice that decided which restaurant we were going to go to but the twist was that we acquired people as we went along. My husband thought that it was just he and I and was pleasantly surprised to find that we were picking up friends along the way. We started with Biaggi’s for our before dinner drinks. We moved on to Swig for our appetizers and drinks. We went to 5th Street Pub for our entree and Stella’s for dessert. It was a great night with great friends.

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I Can’t Believe I Actually Did It, and I Think You Should Too!


There are things in your life that are within your comfort zone and then there are all the other things. You could almost imagine this as a box within a box, within a box, etc. There are the mundane everyday life things that would be in the most inner box and then everything else radiates out from there. Maybe in my second layer box I would have public speaking, but public speaking for you would be 7 box layers out.  Every time you go outside of your inner box, you grow a little. It is important to understand that not everything in life is comfortable or easy but when you go ahead with it and give it your all, you will definitely grow from the experience. In these last few years I have experienced so many life changes including, “Empty Nest,” syndrome and the inevitable marriage difficulties that come with it. I decided that it was important for me to grow as an individual in order to be successful in other areas of my life as well. This is why I will always without fail, say, “Change, no matter what, is always good.” Change causes growth because it is forcing you outside of that inner box.

I enjoy taking classes on anything new. I truly do love to learn. I am not very concentrated in my educational efforts and take on way too many new projects, but I still love the whole process. I have taken photography, oil painting, pottery, glass blowing, a mixed media art class, and am getting ready to start my archery class soon. These are all within the last year. Yes I have ADHD and can’t stick with one thing to save my life. But, I love it!

I have been really striving to try different, new things for the last few years. I went on a trip by myself all through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Well I didn’t go exactly alone. I had my 6 pound dog, Brutus with me. We took off without a particular destination in mind and had an incredible adventure. It still surprises me that I did it but, I had a blast and want to do another one this summer.


I also went with a girlfriend and climbed a 14,000 foot mountain in Yosemite National Park. I love adventure!

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This all brings me to my latest, outside of my comfort zone, growing, activity…I decided to do a Boudoir Photo Session. I know the majority of women at my age (49), or any age for that matter, are sadly, not all that comfortable with their bodies. This includes me. I was a nervous wreck! I did some research, looked at photo samples, and checked out all of the area photographers. There was not one major defining reason for my choice. It just felt right. We have some amazing photographers in the area so the choices were endless. I went with Jennifer Mott Photography. I was drawn to her tasteful, classy style and I’m not going to lie, the fact that she is a woman.  www.jennifermott.com

For anyone who doesn’t know, a Boudoir Photo is a picture that is taken in a bedroom setting, and has a romantic, sexy feel to it. My kids all just died if they are reading this… It can be as innocent as a picture in your long sleeve, floor length nightgown or as racy as… well you can imagine. In my mind, it’s more suggestive than explicit. For my purposes, I revealed nothing more than I would feel comfortable revealing on a public beach or waterpark. Anyone who knows me, knows that I wear pretty conservative swim wear.

I honestly didn’t even know if I would ever show anyone. I really did this for me. I know my plan at the beginning was that it would be a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband but, to be perfectly honest, I had no idea if I would even order a single print.

My little adventure began with scheduling the session. I then started trolling the internet for my Boudoir session apparel. I found a website, with extremely reasonable pricing, incredible quality, and fast delivery. I ordered a few evening wear items, shoes that I cannot stand up in, and some very interesting nylons.  www.lovelywholesale.com  The time came for my session. The plan was to have some liquid courage before I went, but I had to drive there straight from work so that was not an option. I showed up frazzled, rambling, and nervous. Her studio is actually a historic home in Downtown Perrysburg. Each room is set up with a different type of session in mind. She does every genre of photography from babies to weddings to…Boudoir. She took me upstairs to one of the studio bedrooms and we discussed our game plan. She left the room so that I could change into my first of many outfits. We started with conservative and moved through to not so conservative. I drove the pace and the mood. I was never asked to do anything that made me uncomfortable and she was purely magical with putting me at ease. You get swept up in the moment and I actually had so much fun! It was liberating and is a great self-esteem booster. One thing you have to understand, photographers are masterful at having you stand, sit, or lay in a position that optimizes every one of your finer qualities, while disguising some of your lesser.

I did forget to mention one little hiccup. Remember the shoes that I mentioned earlier? Well, picture this: Me walking (please picture me skinny) across the bedroom in my very seductive costume, wearing 24 inch heels (approximately). OK, first of all, the term walking is over exaggerating. I was grasping at furniture while my ankles were wobbling to and fro. I hobbled across the room for a costume change while Jennifer waited in the hallway. Well of course my ankles buckled and I’m shocked I didn’t fracture something but, I did barely miss piercing my thigh with one of the 24 inch heels. I can’t imagine the horror of riding in an ambulance with the heel of my shoe impaled into the back of my thigh, while dressed in questionable attire. Needless to say, I crawled across the room to the chair and didn’t attempt walking again.

Now, all that I had to do was wait for the final product. She sent me the proofs online and I chose the shots that I wanted to have placed into a photo book. There were many options available for printing but somehow a life-size portrait of me scantily attired above the mantel just didn’t seem to be a good idea. When I first looked at the proofs I went through a series of reactions. First off, in my head during the session I looked like a supermodel because that’s how she made me feel. So my first hurdle was to face reality. I was a little freaked out. I’m not going to lie. But, you have to understand, I avoid full length mirrors unless I am fully dressed. I closed the site down and felt a little disappointed. I opened it up the next day and thought, “Wow! I can see a tiny glimpse of a supermodel in there somewhere.” I actually grew to feel comfortable with them and I’m not ashamed to admit, I believe that I look pretty good in them.  I did end up showing them to my husband and I think he is still trying to process what I actually did. This is very far outside of my inner box. This could possibly have been box layer 15. The two photos that I included are definitely not a complete product. I honestly have no problem showing the pictures to anyone who would ask because they truly are so tastefully done, but I didn’t want my children to have to suffer any more damage than they already have. These are not professionally cropped either. I just cropped them down for a quick sample.



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To put your minds at ease, I did a quick interview with Jennifer to ask the most pressing questions that I had prior to my experience.

ROAG (Ramblings of a Grandma): What do you do to put a nervous woman at ease?
JM: (Jennifer Mott): Every woman is different, but most of the time just talking helps!

ROAG: Do you have any interesting or amusing stories that you would feel
comfortable sharing?

JM: I’ve had some really interesting inquiries since I started offering
boudoir sessions, including an escort who wanted pictures for her
agency’s website and a college student who needed full frontal (male)
pictures to submit to Playgirl.

ROAG: Have you ever or would you consider doing a couple’s boudoir shoot?
JM: I’ve seen these kind of images done beautifully, but I haven’t done a
couple’s session yet. I turned down a few requests just based on
instinct from the questions that were asked…I think I would be most
comfortable with a couple I already know, maybe a past wedding couple
because these images are so intimate.

ROAG: How do you determine the pace or the limits for each individual situation?
JM: Most sessions last about an hour or an hour and a half and result in a
good variety of images to choose from. The number of outfits or ideas
that the girls want to fit in gives me an idea of how much time I
should spend before we change things up.

ROAG: What would you do to put a woman at ease who is not completely
comfortable with her body?
JM: I’ve learned almost every woman has some areas of their body they
aren’t comfortable with. It usually comes up as we talk and I try to
make sure they know they look beautiful. Posing and posture makes a
huge difference! I love these sessions because they show women how
gorgeous they are!

ROAG: Anything else you would like to share in regards to a woman trying to
decide whether this is right for her?
JM: It’s fun, will boost your confidence, and your partner will love it!


I believe that this is something that every woman should experience. If you’re like me, the last pictures that were taken solely of you, were your senior pictures in high school. Of course we have the family portraits and wedding pictures and all of that but, this is a photography session that is just focused solely on making you look amazing. We all need to feel like a supermodel sometimes. Every woman needs to experience how empowering it is to embrace your feminine, sexy side. Now just imagine the looks on my great grandchildren’s faces when they stumble across this book!

Check Jennifer out and let her know Ramblings of a Grandma sent you!

A Man’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Valentine’s Day


Love is in the air! Can you smell it? Wait a minute. Is that  the smell of unrealistic expectations. Valentine’s Day can be amazing or nothing more than a Hallmark holiday that is stressful and makes most people look like unromantic jerks. But, it doesn’t matter.  It exists, therefore we must pay tribute. There are such high expectations and no real guideline of how to meet them. What does one buy for Valentine’s Day? It’s not a holiday like Christmas where you can buy clothes, electronics, or some type of physical gift. I personally feel that this should be a holiday where the gift is not purchased but created. I’m not talking about a set of pot holders you make on a loom. It is a time for thoughtful preparation and consideration. This is the time where you need to pull out every creative ounce of energy from your body and put together the most ridiculously amazing, Earth shattering, selfless romantic gesture to truly capture the essence of St. Valentine. How many people usually hit the mark on this? Frighteningly few! Not everyone has that creative gene and honestly for the most part it is the women with high expectations. Let’s face it, we make it very difficult for men to figure out that one perfect act of Valentine love. We are relatively simple to please. Men just need to figure out the Code.  The truth is, men and women both have the same code but it just varies in degrees. Here are a few basic rules to follow that will set you on the path to unscrambling the code.

Rule #1 Flowers are amazing, but only when they are unexpected.  This shows us that you were thinking about us at a time when you didn’t have to. So I say “No,” on Valentine’s Day.

Rule #2 Going out for dinner is a wonderful idea, when there are no televisions in the vicinity, and when it is an experience, not just a means to fill your stomach. Go to a fondue restaurant, or make a game of the evening by letting the roll of the dice or a draw of a card choose the path of your evening.


Rule #3 Turn your phone off and say, “I want to enjoy every minute of our evening and I don’t want anything to interrupt our time together,” is pretty much the most romantic, sexy thing you can say.

Rule #4 Staying home for dinner is wonderful if there are no little ones around and if you place a chair at the counter where we can watch, “You,” cook while you make sure our wine glass is full and you ask us, and listen, to questions like; Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What things do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime, or this year.  Nothing sexier than a man in the kitchen. Especially one who really is interested in what we have to say.

Rule #5 Prepare an evening laden with ambiance and thoughtful preparation. The pictures below are from a Date Night entitled, An Evening In Paradise that I did a month ago. You can get the gist.

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Rule #6 The time and thought you put into a gift, or evening, means more than the gift itself. (See Rule #5)

Rule #7 Do not ask us what we would like to do or where we would like to go. To me that is the same as you saying, “Hey, I haven’t thought once about you in the last couple of weeks, so I don’t have anything planned. You pick so I don’t have to think about you right now either. (See Rule #6.) You could give us options. That shows us that you still thought about us but wanted to get our feedback. Here is a picture of a Create Your Own Date Night sheet that I came up with for my most recent Date Night.  I created it, and printed it out. My husband circled all of his options.

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He chose an all day Date that included: Photography, Videography, Relaxation, Alcohol, Food, Drinking Games, No phones for three hours, Just us, Sporting attire, remaining indoors, Out on the town, and the theme he chose was, “Sports, Sports, and More Sports.” I had to work each of these items into the day while incorporating the overlying theme. He also had a write in option where we had to compliment each other every 15 minutes. We covered every one of them except we weren’t great at the complimenting thing, but every 15 minutes? We were very creative with our compliments though:-) We started the day at a place in West Bloomfield Township, MI called Play Golf 365, a year round virtual golfing facility that you can choose whatever course in the world you want to play on. You actually swing your clubs and hit the screen and it records everything. Then we went hunting, virtually of course at the same place. We had our own private room with a waitress who would come at the flip of a switch. Awesome! Next we headed to the Palace in Auburn Hills for a Detroit Pistons game and dinner. We came home and played beer/wine cooler pong to cover our drinking game portion. It was actually a fun challenge to fit everything in to the night. We have both decided that we want to do this again. Here is the link to the page that I created. Create Your Own Date Night

I have included a link to a new Create Your Own Valentine’s Date Night.   Create Your Own Valentine’s Date Night   Just click and it will take you to the Valentine’s Date Night. Feel free to print it out and your Valentine’s Day is taken care of for you. You just have to give the paper to your significant other a week before Valentine’s Day to make their choices. Then you have one week to put all of the pieces together and make it happen. This will work for a woman or a man.


So what is the code?  Time, thought, and interest. You put those ingredients into any gift or Date Night and you will always end up creating a wonderful night of memories. Love each other and make your loved one feel as if they are the most important thing in the world to you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


Bullet Journaling

Trying something new and hoping that it will finally help me to get my life under control. I came across a concept on the internet called Bullet Journaling. It’s for people who are list makers and sticky note creators. I can’t attest to how amazing it is yet because I am currently only on Day 1. But I know I have lists everywhere and on every type of media. I have so many that I don’t know where some of them are. This concept has you putting all of your lists, ideas, inspirations, events, tasks, etc., in one place. It is a method of organizing yourself and being productive, not busy. This will be huge for me if it works. I have included 2 links. The first one is a link to the direct site. The Bullet Journal This next one is an altered version of the first but just another way of looking at the same thing. Rocket City Mom. Very hopeful!!! I will let you know how it works for me. Let me know if you try it and have good results, or negative.

Christmas… Nailed it… Sort of

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Well it’s official. I made myself absolutely insane for Christmas. What started out as a beautifully well planned, organized (in my head) holiday, became absolute chaos and mayhem. I am pretty proud of my different ideas for gifts, but I have to keep my mental health in mind next year. It wouldn’t be bad if I just had one crazy idea, but I had to throw several huge projects that made my life nuts!
It started with my husband and I choosing a family and creating our own rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas. We left presents on their porch that corresponded with the 12 Days and rang their doorbell/banged on their door and ran like crazy. This may or may not have resulted in me face planting in a snow drift… Running in the snow is a little more difficult than I remember. I also discovered that my husband did not have a normal childhood. He acted as if we were breaking and entering, and were in danger of being arrested each time we did this. I lived for ding-dong-ditching and toilet papering growing up. Maybe I’m the strange one… No it has to be him. Anyways, each night we left a poem that went along with that particular day of Christmas and a gift that correlated with it. The first day included a mild threat regarding their cooperation in not trying to catch us. We can’t run fast we discovered and needed time to run away, get in our car, start it and drive away. Only once did one of the kids actually see me, but I found out later the description was sketchy.:-) We revealed our names at the end but asked them not to rat us out so we could do this again next year for another family. Before anyone gets on their high horse, I know that the 12 Days actually begin on Christmas Day but for the sake of the kids, we thought ending it on Christmas Eve was a great way to lead up to the big day. Some of the poems were long so I will only include the first one, but if you would like to read them all, I will post them soon. I am including the gifts that we left also. Some of the gifts may not make sense without the poems but believe me they are all tied in.

Day 1 Poem
‘Twas the first day of Christmas and all through your house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
But, your front porch is quite the opposite,
Your sneaky friends have paid you a visit.

Tonight’s the first night of 12 and with each a gift given,
One ring of your doorbell, from friends with night vision,
From every night hence you will hear the bell ring
To signal the arrival of awesome Christmas bling.

The first night of Christmas calls for a partridge in a pear tree,
But partridges are tough to catch, you see.
So, how ‘ bout some yummy pears, instead of the bird.
They are going to be amazing, or so we have heard.

Now don’t be alarmed for truly good friends are these,
They have included some facts to put your mind at ease.
(I included several personal pieces of information in poetry form here so they would know it truly was someone they could trust)

Now beware of this warning – your friends will be here,
But you better not look, or they’ll disappear,
And then all your gifts that were carefully planned
On some other front porch will surprisingly land.

The list of gifts:
The 1st Day of Christmas
Partridge in a Pear Tree
We left a basket of pears

The 2nd Day of Christmas
Two Turtle Doves
A box of Dove chocolates and chocolate turtles

The 3rd Day of Christmas
Three French Hens
3 stuffed toy chicks wearing berets and holding French flags

The 4th Day of Christmas
Four Calling Birds
4 Frosted sugar cookies with birds talking on cell phones on top

The 5th Day of Christmas
Five Golden Rings
5 Ring Pops

The 6th Day of Christmas
Six Geese a Laying
6 Silly Putty eggs for the kids and 6 Geese a Laying Ale for the parents

The 7th Day of Christmas
Seven Swans A-swimming
7 Beanie Baby swans

The 8th Day of Christmas
Eight Maids A-milking
A gallon jug of ice cream

The 9th Day of Christmas
Nine Ladies Dancing
9 Pairs of socks

The 10th Day of Christmas
Ten Lords A-leaping
10 Toy parachute jumpers and 10 toy leaping frogs

The 11th Day of Christmas
Eleven Pipers Piping
11 Toy slide whistles

The 12th Day of Christmas
Twelve Drummers Drumming
A box of 12 Drumstick ice cream cones

This brings me to my next bright idea…In my head it was a great idea, and where everything took a very stressful turn.:-( I decided that one of the major gifts for each of my children (who are all grown and out on their own) and my parents would be the gift of food. I came up with a menu of 20 meals. I dragged my sister into this crazy scheme, so add in her children and now we are talking about 22 people that we were creating 20 meals for. No big deal. I set aside the Friday evening and the Saturday before Christmas to whip up these meals. Fortunately we own a restaurant that is only open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays so we were able to go there to prepare the meals. Five days later and cooking until 2:00am on 4 of them, I was close to a breakdown. I had a million things I needed to do but was completely tied to the restaurant. At some point we realized that we were preparing 440 meals. What the heck is wrong with me? There were a few moments that my sister and I were close to killing each other. We called each other some pretty creative names those late nights. I actually called her on Christmas to tell her that I didn’t hate her as much and she told me that she didn’t hate me as much either. On Christmas Eve our manager and our baker took pity on us and jumped in and helped until we got everything done. We finished at around 3:00 in the afternoon. Oh good, that gave me time to do some shopping because I hadn’t set foot in a store up to that point!!! The major presents were done. I just needed some fill in items.

My next crazy idea was to make some memories for my 89 year old mother. She doesn’t need any knick-knacks or clothes. The only thing that gives her joy in this world is the opportunity to spend time with family. So, I asked my children and my sisters’ children to come up with a Date Night for their grandmother. Each of them were more than happy to do this and were very creative in their choices. My sister and I filled in the rest. I spread them out over the next 6 months so she will have 2 Date Nights each month with a different grandchild, my sister, or myself. She has 12 envelopes and she gets to open 2 a month to find out her Dates. She was ecstatic. Her first Date Night was, Movie Marathon. We saw 3  movies and had dinner. She also received the meals that we had prepared.

My last idea was to give each of my children, and their significant others, a short, surprisingly inexpensive train or airplane trip to either Chicago or New York, depending on their tastes. I reserved hotel rooms as well for them. This was their favorite gift I believe.:-)

The changes this year meant only a few presents to open. This was a huge adjustment for me. I felt bad each Christmas if I didn’t have a mountain of presents for each child.  I am trying to make it so every gift is meaningful, creates memories or is a service gift from me. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be received but, I truly felt that each of the recipients was extremely happy with their gifts this year. I really feel that I was successful with my goal of having a (semi) non-materialistic Christmas. I just need to figure out how to do it without sending myself to the hospital. And I still need to take it down a few notches to go 100% non-materialistic. I’m still a work in progress.

New Year’s Resolution: Work on time management and self-control!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

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Here are a couple of sites where I found some of the ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas;  The 12 Days of Christmas, a Ring and Run,  My Favorite Christmas Tradition, and  The Dating Divas 12 Days of Christmas for Printables.


Create Your Own Date Night

Preparing for a January Date Night. The theme is Create Your Own Date Night. My husband was given the sheet below and needs to fill it out. If anyone has any interesting ideas that we have to do without for the Date or that we have to include in the Date feel free to comment:-)

Create Your Own Date Night

Stupid Christmas Lights!!!!

I remember why I stopped hanging Christmas lights outside!:-( I am making my third trip to target in two days for the same stinking string of lights that I’ve been attempting to hang now since yesterday!! I had purchased a beautiful string of lights to be the showcase of our front porch. And I bought an awesome little stapler gun thingy that is specifically designed for hanging lights so I figured this would be a snap 🙂 So I got all of my materials ready out on the front porch yesterday and went to hang up these beautiful icicle shaped lights only to discover one of the icicles was missing 🙁 There were supposed to be 20 and there were only 19 🙁 I put all of my materials away including The other sets of lights that were going to attach to the beautiful icicles. Anyone who knows me knows that returning things is not especially my strong suit :-/ In fact normally I would rather throw something away and take the financial loss instead. But this was different! I was bound and determined to get these lights up. I went back today and low and behold, there were no more:-( So I settled for the next best thing. I bought these awesome little globe thingies that have their own remote control with 16 crazy settings:-) I took them home and loaded up my awesome staple gun thingy and climbed onto the porch railing clinging to the gutters with my finger nails. I hold up the end of the light cord thing and go to use my awesome staple thing. Nothing! It jams! I attempt a million more times only to become more and more frustrated! So I take it into the house to “fix,” it. I tried everything but couldn’t get it opened and was ready to give up. I was walking towards the door when the stinking thing decides to fire, barely missing blinding my dog who I haven’t seen since this incident. So with the gun fixed I go back to work only to find that it is useless. I get an assortment of random nails and screws laying around and a few that I found in the porch wall that I pulled out and attempt to hang off of the railing while alternating between hammering, dropping nails, and hitting my fingers. I get the lights up and turn them on!!!:-) Beautiful blue lights:-) Ok so now I want to see what this baby can do! I open the box to get the remote control and it’s not even in there! Now I am back at target with a picture of the stupid lights cause I sure as *#$@ am not going to take them down to return them!!! Somebody will pay with their life if I don’t leave target with a remote!

Giving the Gift of Memories

After spending an entire lifetime of stressful Christmas’ and struggling to make sure I found the perfect gifts for all of the people on my list, I finally have given up. But, in a good way.  My children are all adults.  They are for the most part done with college and settled into their own respective careers. Do they really need socks, shirts, gift cards or electronics from me? No. If they need something they buy it or I do on one of many shopping trips throughout the year when I see that perfect something. I can’t hold off until Christmas. If they need it, or can use it, they get it right away. I’m not the most patient person. This new Christmas attitude started with my mother several years ago. My mom is 89 years old. There is very little that she needs other than day to day items and the company of her family. We started taking her places, usually a casino for an overnight stay and dinner. She just wants our time and we just want to build memories that we can hold on to forever.

This whole concept has eventually transferred itself onto my children and my husband. Through the Date Nights I have done with my husband over the last year and a half, I have come to the realization that doing a service for someone or making memories with someone is so much bigger and lasts so much longer than any sweater ever will. We made the switch with our kids last year. I bought plane tickets, theater tickets, and hotel rooms. Everyone was sent on a trip. I sent my husband with my youngest son to see their favorite 2 basketball teams play each other in Florida. I went with my daughter and oldest son to New York for a Broadway play and shopping. Yes, of course I made sure I got to be a part of it.  Now for all of you who are thinking that these are extravagant gifts that would be difficult for a family to afford. I am really good at watching and waiting for airline ticket sales and the same with hotels (www.spirit.com, www.travelocity.com, www.groupon.com are just a few of many great websites.) You just have to be vigilant at checking prices and your email every day. The tickets for the events are a little more difficult to come by cheaply. But, I still spent the same altogether that I would have on an average Christmas. Now this still may be too extravagant. These things can be done on a much smaller scale as well. It’s all a matter of giving memories instead of presents.

Now, I know that many of you have smaller children. And, I’m sure the idea of them racing out on Christmas morning to find one small box with a piece of paper explaining that they are going on a trip in 2 months will not go over well. But, remember that the Christmas excitement will wear off after the first 20 presents are opened and they will be lost in the blur of plastic, color, and sound. And you haven’t even gone to Grandma’s yet!! That’s where the whole giving memories idea comes in. Tell your child they may ask for 3 or 4 gifts each year from Santa or you, depending on how things work in your household. Then tell them that you will be creating memories and that will be your gift. Then after they think you’re totally crazy, tell them that they will understand on Christmas morning.  I guarantee you they will eventually begin to highly anticipate your gift over the “toys,” that they will open. Toys, clothes, and all other material things become less exciting after they are received. It’s all about the anticipation. The toys will be forgotten but planning for that fun weekend a little later down the road will be something they have to dream about for days to come. I recently read an amazing article written by Christella Morris, a fellow blogger. Her article was featured in the Huffington post. She actually asked all of her extended family members to stop buying gifts for her children because they already have everything they need. She asked them to instead make memories with her children. Take them to a movie. Spend a few hours at the Park. Arrange a “Date,” where they would sit and play games with them. She pointed out that so many times our children lose touch of our extended family and what better way to make, keep, and build those connections.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christella-morris/the-gift-of-not-giving-a-thing_b_4236040.html

It doesn’t have to be a trip. It can be Family Date Nights that are planned ahead of time and sealed in envelopes to be opened at the beginning of each month for a year. That’s something for them to look forward to the entire year. These can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like.  If you look back through the Date Nights that I have posted in the past, you will find that most of them can be altered into a family night; Slumber Party, Progressive Dinner, Drive In Theater, Backyard Camp Out, Photo Scavenger Hunt, etc. All of these can be found in my blog history. You can also Google, Family Date Nights and a ton of ideas come up. (www.thedatingdivas.com is a great site for regular, or family Date Nights.)

Another idea is to have your family start a new tradition. Teach them about the importance of giving, and do a service project. Adopt a family for Christmas. Work in a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve. Tell them that they may ask for 4 things for Christmas. 3 things for themselves and one for a child in need. On December 14, 1982 an article entitled “My Most Moving Holiday Tradition,” won first place out of thousands of entries in Woman’s Day magazine.  The woman in this entry talked about her husband who really disliked the commercialism of Christmas. She came up with an inspirational plan that became her gift to him for that Christmas and every one after. It’s a beautiful, moving story that I don’t want to spoil so click on the link to find out what happens… after you finish reading my post of course!

Now for your spouse you can make things a little more interesting. Hand your significant other a small plastic container with 18 small folded up pieces of paper in it. Then hand them another container with 18 more pieces of paper in it and tell them that the first container holds 18 fantasies that you have written down on those little pieces of paper. Now explain that you need him or her to write down 18 of his or her fantasies and fold them and put them in their container. After they are done, reach in without peeking and pull out one of their fantasies. Tell him or her that you have 2 weeks to make it happen. When you have completed your task, they will get to take a fantasy from your container. They will then also have 2 weeks to complete it.  This will go on and should last the whole year. However you carry them out will be up to you but, it would be best to set some ground rules first. Nothing could ruin this faster than somebody being a little too freaky with their fantasies. Make them fun and spicy but keep in mind each other’s’ limitations and reservations. This is supposed to be fun, not terrifying. Unless you’re into that kind of thing, then have at it!

You could also create fantasy nights for your spouse by making non-traditional coupons that you will have to follow through on. These should be scheduled immediately so they actually feel as if they are a gift. When you are gifting this to your spouse give them a coupon that promises to go and do that thing that you hate doing but they would love to have you do: A baseball game, bar hopping, a play, a movie, a night of being a “HAPPY,” designated driver, etc. You could also give one that lets them invite all of their friends over for a football game, poker night, Bunco, game night, etc., and you will “HAPPILY,” act as waitress/waiter for the event. It’s all about sacrificing and doing something that you know would mean the world to them that you normally would NEVER do, and did I mention happily?? It’s one night. You will survive it, I promise! Suck it up!

In the end, memories are all you really have. You won’t remember that sweater, video game, pair of socks, etc. You will remember that great night, or weekend, or week with your loved ones. Go out and make some memories!!!

November Date Night

An Evening In Paradise

I attempted to re-create a scene from the Arabian Nights…costume and all:-) I created a tent-like structure in our family room and incorporated some Middle Eastern decorations, furniture and food. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and a ridiculous amount of food from a local Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant called Beirut. My husband was allowed 3 wishes. He chose to have a foot massage.  The rest can be left to the imagination. It was very relaxing and just nice to actually spend an evening together.

I created the lamps using a variation of canning jars but any glass jar would work. I painted the outside of the jars with a mixture of Mod Podge and a few drops of paint. It took a couple of coats but it almost gives it a sea glass type of look. Then I took gold fabric paint tubes and decorated the jars with traditional designs. I put the battery operated flickering flameless votive candles. For the tent, I screwed tiny hooks in the ceiling and placed dowel rods in the hooks and draped the fabric over the dowel rods. The material was gathered and draped to the center. I used another hook and tied the ends together using a strip of cloth and then placed an edge of the strip into the hook.

There was also a bucket with dry ice in it that didn’t quite work the way I had anticipated. My guess is that the bucket was too tall and the fog dissipated too quickly. I had hoped to just add to the mystical, dreamy quality of the evening. Better luck next time.

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