All you need is love, love is all you need. 

Celebrate Love

If you've been reading this site for long you know I am not into commercialism, but I am into LOVE. If there is any excuse to show love, I'm all in. This month I focus on several fun things to do to show each family member love. 

1. Hearts- I write something I love about them and put it on their doors

2. Tea Time snacks- I make heart/love themed snacks for after school. Cake with valentine sprinkles, cookies with valentines sprinkles, heart shaped brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries, Valentine float, and more ideas here

3. Homemade cards- homemade valentines, just simple notes in the lunch box, notes and treat on their pillow

4. Family Valentine's Day- We spend the entire day with the boys doing fun stuff, if it falls on a Saturday. If its a school day, we plan a quick evening out and settle at home with a movie or game.  Our day out-Eating somewhere fun and different, having a fun walk in the city/we live in the Memphis area, movies, or even game night or movie at home.

5. Valentine crafts- I find simple ideas on Pinterest. I find things around the house or outside to use for our crafts. I don't believe in spending a lot of money on Valentines.

6. school lunches- I don't spend extra money on this, either. I purchased a different size heart cookie cutter several years ago, and have used it for their sandwiches, brownies, cakes, etc... I add a cute note

7. Valentine's with Spouse- Valentine's Day to some people may be so commercialized that they really don't want to celebrate it anymore. Don't be discouraged! I love Valentine's day. I think it is a great way to break the mundane, day-to-day monotony of life. We can become very complacent with life. We can also take our spouse for granted. Have I really shown my spouse how much I love them lately? I mean, the way they feel loved, not how I show love. Everyone has their own "Love Language". Read the original book By Gary Chapman for your spouse. Figure out and understand what makes your spouse feel loved. You will see that it will make a huge difference in your marriage! Your spouse may be trying to show you how much they love your in their way and you always thought they didn't care. Then, you'll see they really do! 

On my "Frugal" page I have ideas for dates. I chose the frugal section for this because finances should never come in the way of being able to spend quality time together. 

Make sure you purposely arrange your time and things to be able to spend more time with your spouse. I arrange my whole day to wake up and put God first, then help spouse with their need before work. Then I arrange my day so that the kids are in bed a certain time so spouse and I can spend quality time together. I even greet him when he comes home from work everyday with a hug and kiss, no matter what I am doing. I make sure the kids are clean, the house is picked up and decently clean, the house smells good, and dinner is ready. But we always have time alone in the evening after the kids are in bed and before we retire for the night. That's why it is so important to me to have a daily schedule. I honestly have so much to do during the day/week, I have to have it organized to get it all accomplished. The order:  God, spouse, the kids, and then I. ~Like J.O.Y- Jesus, Others, Yourself.

Have your thought about what you are going to do for your spouse?

1. Make a homemade card?
2. Make his favorite meal?
3. Give spouse a love not in his lunch?
4. Make a surprise visit to his work for a lunch date?
5. Get a daily devotional book for couple, for alone time at night?
6. Give a massage, because they work so hard for you and your family?
7. Take to favorite restaurant?
8. Give season tickets to  favorite place, or ball team?
9. Go to a coffee shop to just sit and talk?
10. Tell them you love him in a special way?

What ever your do , do not take this holiday for granted! Show your spouse how much they mean to you! This day may never come around again!

8. Special Valentine's Day Breakfast- I like to make a simple yet sweet breakfast for my loves. I set out a Love Bucket filled with candies and Valentine cards. The table is set up with special hearts and plates and center piece. I have made several things throughout the years. Our favorite is heart shaped pancakes, hearts shaped bacon, and strawberries.

 Building Relationships

Family is one of the most important things to me. I thrive when I am with them. It's part of my extrovert personality. I realize not everyone has the same personality type as I do, so I have studied all of my children and spouse, too. What may feel like love to me, may not be the same for others.When I purposely show them love in their language, I am able to build a strong relationship. Read more about this HERE AND HERE. Understanding their temperament is also important to learn, more on that HERE

Teen night out- it's difficult to please everyone in a large family. I would rather all of us do everything together. But, it's just not possible. Teens have growing interests in more adult subjects and more active things, while the younger ones still need to live in an innocence without trying to keep up. We can also get so busy with the demands little ones make, that we can neglect the emotional needs of teens. They are growing up and growing towards independence, but they still need us. I brainstormed some ideas for great nights out with teens, and here are a few/ some exclusively in the Memphis area and surrounding- ziplining, rock climbing, escape rooms, Backbeat Tours, Graceland, Haunted Tour, air boat ride, concert, overnight kayak/camp on Wolf River, overnight kayak/camp on Mississippi River, nice restaurant out, movies, IMAX. 

We have also made our home an inviting place for all ages to hang out. We have a bonfire area in the backyard, stock the outside fridge with foods and snacks- teens eat a lot, and have a playroom set up for tv and gaming. 

Family Fun Day- this is probably my favorite day. I can get through my week when I know we have something great planned on our Family Fun Saturday. After we work around the home during the morning, we get out and about for something fun in the afternoon. We usually end our day with pizza and a movie or board game. Here are some things we do- bike downtown Memphis, bowling at Bass Pro, Putt-Putt golf and games, Shelby Farms/parks to play on playground, frisbee, football, and hammock, museums, art mural scavenger hunts, free events around Memphis/ find ideas here and here, go out to eat, hikes, zoo, and more ideas HERE

Date Nights- it is very important to spend time with your spouse. If you have children, you know it can be difficult because you are exhausted by the end of the day. That is why I think routines and planning are so important. I dedicated a whole page on this site for it. Once you have your daily rhythm down, you will find it easy to make time for your spouse. I also have a whole page dedicated to marriage, so read more about that HERE . There are endless ideas for a date night at home and dates out, free dates and pricey dates. 

Indoor Fun

Although we are outside people in any kind of weather, we still bring the fun indoors during the coldest winter months. Last month I talked about making the home cozy with blankets and pillows. We also began focusing on fun indoors. 

limited electronics- I do not like devices. I wholeheartedly believe children do not need IPhones or tablets or gaming. And my ideals are backed up by research that proves the dangers of addiction to electronics worse than cocaine, and it producing several other issues. So, when someone tries to argue the benefits, I simple know the dangers far outweigh anything in comparison.  The lack in development in our children today is a concern. I personally want to raise my children with emotional intelligence, creativity, and natural play the way God intended. All that to say, we still let our children play video games and play things like Minecraft on a tablet. I use the Disney Circle to monitor usage, limit times, and set off times. That way they can play while knowing their limits, and there is no arguing about it. 

game nights- at least once a week- or more- we play board games or card games. Our favs are monolpoly, skip-bo, headbandz, say anything, watch ya mouth, bounce off, would you rather, dragonwood, dominos. 

puzzles- my adhd tendencies make it hard for me to sit still. So, in realizing I needed more calm in my life, I began doing puzzles. It's funny how it brought the whole family together without even making it a big deal. The puzzles are a family effort. We have the best time talking and laughing while we work on these. My favorites are the Thomas Kincade Disney puzzles. 

read alouds- I love reading classic books to the boys. Not all share the love, but I know how important this time is for a child. I've read classics such as Tom Sawyer, 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, My Side of the Mountain, Wind and the Willows. I've read chapter books like Junie B Jones, Magic Tree House,  and others. For the younger children, we've enjoyed several picture books like the Little Critter series, Berenstain Bears, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and more.

audios- sometimes we will settle after dinner, chores and baths and listen to audio books or series. The boys will color, draw, or play with legos as they listen. Our favorites are Adventures in Odyssey, Jonathon Park, Darien's Rise.

Library- we are blessed with such great libraries in Memphis. The Central library is located far away from us, but I make it a plan to stop by on a trip to town. The boys can play games, check out books from a huge selections in the children's area, and find movies to rent. We also find family tv series to rent. It gives us something to look forward to watching. 

movie nights- I absolutely love movies. I could go to the movies every single day. But, I don't. So, when there is a new movie that is coming out we rent it from Redbox. After we have spent a family day out, and after the baths, we settle down with air popped popcorn and homemade cookies to watch our family movie. 

books stores- Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite store. I draaaaaag my kids along often. I just love the atmosphere, the soothing music and several areas to enjoy. A small hot chocolate and cookie or blondie are always the boys favorite treats. Then we browse magazines, the kids books, and find new adventure travel ideas. 

 Outdoor Fun

I briefly talked about family time out above in building relationships section. Being intentional in this area makes all the difference in a family. When the cold sets in, it's hard to get everyone out and about. It's easy to settle in the home and in different rooms. But, it's essential to our health to maintain an active lifestyle, even in the winter. Even the sunshine in the winter still has benefits.

We still ride bikes when it's cold. We bundles up in layers, with hats and gloves, and always find new parks or trails to ride. We will even just bike around the streets of our little town. The Memphis area has several biking lanes and many trails to ride. 

 I love to hike. Although we live in the city, we can still find several trails. We recently took the kids on a quick hike to show them a scene from The Firm with Tom Cruise. We have two state parks here. West Tn is pretty flat but the hiking trails in these parks are amazing. You can go on an adventure so close to the city. 

My boys also love to skate. We have three skate parks in or near the city. We frequent them more often in the warmer months, but still enjoy them on a dry cold day. 

We have several really awesome parks. We love having a park and play day. We pack a simple picnic of PBJ, egg salad or tuna along with nuts and fruits, chips and salsa. We fill our Stanley thermoses with water and hot cocoa. We bring along hammocks, frisbees, football, soccer ball, anything they want to play with. We dress in several layers so they can be comfortable. I love how they can make new friends every time we go to a park. 

Anytime we have a fun outdoors, it's always fun to stop for a hot chocolate. If I am really organized I will have made hot chocolate and put in our Stanley thermoses. We also bring a bag of several nuts, fruits, and snacks, And then some days, we will surprise the boys by going out to eat after a full day of fun.  

It rarely snows in the south. But, when it does I make sure we have fun. When it does snow we are usually snowed or iced in since we live in the country. In the colder months I make sure the freezer and pantry is stocked. We use the kids whitewater kayak as a sled. It is the best. It's better than any sled we have ever used. We have hours of fun with it. I make a veggie soup or potato soup with fresh bread. The pantry is stocked with hot chocolates. I always like to have warm cookies or brownies and hot cocoa ready to warm up their bellies when they come in from the cold. Most of the time, I am out there with them, and I'll slip inside to start the cookies. We still go outside to have fun in the dark . Large outside lights and glowsticks add to the fun. At the end of the fun snowy day, we take warm showers and settle down with a game night or movie. 


Franklin's Valentine's

Franklin says I Love You

I Love You , Mama - Disney

I Love You When... by John Edward Hasse

The Night Before Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day , Little Critter

The Biggest Valentine Ever


Lady and the Tramp

Beauty and the Beast

The Princess Bride


Princess Diaries

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

Ever After

My Fair Lady