I have mentioned before on here, but we don’t tend to make a massive thing of Valentines between Nath and I. We see it as just a bit of fun, and therefore usually buy each other a soppy or flirty card, and then a cheapo gift with some cheesy slogan on it. Our budget every year is always £5 max and we welcome how inventive that enables us to be in sharing our love through a gift.

I usually end up with some tulips (which are my faves) and chocolate of some description with a reason why he bought it (Eg, Milky Way stars with “You’re out of this world amazing”)! I of course enjoy the challenge of being creative, and making him some cute and fun love notes on a treat, and have in the past given him anything from a bag of chocolate bars to a pack of muffins saying “You’re such a Stud muffin”! Like I say – It’s just a bit of fun and it always makes each other smile.

We use the day now (since having kids), as an opportunity to teach our kids about dating and take them out on a family date somewhere special. We big it up and give them a little treat each, and then reserve the evenings for us to have a sneaky dinner date from M&S (or take out) whilst watching a Rom Com! We have had some lovely dates with them for Valentines and is a tradition we really enjoy.

We used to have a goal of going away together but with the more kids we had this kinda fell by the way side and we felt it better to turn it into a family event of love, which is working wonderfully whilst we share our love in our own way.

In true thrifty style I have been on the look out for lovely things to get for Valentines that are under £5, so I though as a bit of fun (and just in case you too want some frugal gift ideas), I would share them with you on the lead up to V-Day!

Valentines Gift Ideas under £5

M&S Sweets 

When I saw these sweets in M&S last week I literally jumped for Joy. I instantly felt they had stepped right out of my mind! Nathan and I will be getting them for the kids as we thought they were so cute, but for £2.50 each they make for a lovely little gift for a loved one.

Glasses and posh pop

I saw these glasses in Poundland for £1 each and thought they were really lovely. Whilst they go with nothing else in my kitchen I still had to have them and think they would be great for a date night tradition. Why not buy a couple with a bottle of something lovely and write a letter to your loved one about how they fill up your heart with sweet fizzes!

Love Frame and some chocs!

I love this little frame I found in Asda on Tuesday and thought it would make a lovely gift for someone with a special picture in it and perhaps a £3 box of chocolates or even £1 ones from the pound shop. They had it in 2 different colours but I loved the pink and gold.

I am going to find a picture of me and Nath from back in the day to put in the lounge on our soon to put up picture rails!

Chocolate gift basket with slogans

I did this for one of the first years of us being married and Nathan loved it. I bought loads of chocolate bars and then wrote a love note on each one and popped them in a little basket. I believe he still has the notes, though the chocolate of course is long gone!

Reeces Pieces – Love you to Pieces
Galaxy – You are the best in the Galaxy
Maltesers – You are such a tease!
Peanut M&Ms – I am nuts about you
Wispa – I want to Wispa sweet nothings to you
Mars – I’d go to Mars and back to show you how much I love you
Starburst – My heart bursts for joy each time I see you

I know I had a few others but I can’t remember them!

Muffins/Doughnuts 

Posh or not this makes for a lovely little gift for a loved one or crush! Buy them a pack of doughnuts from Krispie Cremes and slap on “Doughnut what I’d do without a hubby like you”! (Or Boyf, Girl friend, Wifey etc).

And then of course the one I already mentioned. I bough Nathan some Chocolate chip muffins from the bakery and left them with a card that said “You are such a stud muffin!” – He LOVED it!

Flowers/Chocolates

Whilst the old cliche of valentines, these always go down a treat! A traditional rose can be picked up cheaply and most supermarkets are doing boxes of Thorntons and other lovely chocolates for about £3.

Shopping in Aldi or Lidl, you can buy bunches of Roses, Tulips and other lovely flowers for about £3 and then maybe give them with a big bar of Galaxy or like their favourite pouch of chocolates. Use my slogan idea to make it more cute and fun!

Dates for the year 

This is a gift that barely costs anything and yet is rather romantic and shows commitment. Making a little box or envelope with monthly dates inside of it to give to your love shows how much you are thinking of them and that you want to set time aside to do these things with them.

You could include; The cinema, Massages, A picnic, Rock Climbing, Trampolining, Ice Cream Parlour, A new City, Golf, A new restaurant, Farm/Zoo, Chocolate making etc. Sit down and write out some date ideas and give them as gift this Valentines with a commitment to have proper dates each month together!

Valentines to me isn’t about money and isn’t an excuse to get a pricey item we’ve had our eye on. Its about love and sharing your feelings with others..sharing a day with those we love and making it memorable and a little out of the ordinary and special. I love the opportunity each February to be creative and find ways to tell Nathan how much he means to me through the cheesy gifts and laugh out loud slogans I give to him! I love our family day dates and making it a day the kids can be excited for too and I love that we also use it as an excuse to spread love to friends and neighbours through heart shaped baked goods and little crafts.

How will you spread love this February?

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With 2 of our kids in school I often wonder (whilst at home with Alice) what they are both getting up to, or how they are and what their little routines are. I wonder what school is like for them and if they are having a good day. I put my hands up and say that I do miss my kids most of the time they’re away from home, and wish we could hang out far more than we do in term time… days are so busy and we don’t often get time to sit and talk and catch up.

Of course I can usually battle to get snippets from them about their day and friends, over dinner or on the way home, but hearing about it and seeing it for myself just aren’t quite the same. So when we moved here, we were all excited to discover that parents were allowed to go in to school and sit and have lunch with their kids if they wanted to (or take them out for a picnic at the front), and whilst I am sure we all have tales to tell when we hear the words “School Dinners”, I couldn’t wait to go in!

For my kids anything around food is the highlight of their day and whenever I ask about how their day was, its always what they had for dinner that comes up first. We play a little guessing game of what was on the menu and what they chose (even though I usually already know) and this is followed up by them asking when I will be coming in for dinner!

To be honest I had half forgotten up until a couple of weeks ago, and when I did remember I thought that I would need someone to watch Alice for me. The truth was that I didn’t at all and they welcomed us both last Thursday for School dinners with the kids and it was a lovely moment in our week!

It was the cutest thing to see them lined up with their little trays, and how good they were at getting their cutlery. They had excellent manners and I loved that the dinner ladies knew exactly what Ethan prefers and how happy he was to get peaches instead of a pudding! I loved how kind the dinner ladies were to Alice and I, helping me to get our food and pouring our water. And I loved how Megan was trying to be so sensible but wiggled in her own little way as dinner was put onto her tray!

We all grabbed our dumplings and stewed beef with veg (and shortbread with custard) and sat down on the little chairs at the little tables! We instantly had friends battling to sit with us and it was so much fun sat chatting in school with all of them about their morning and about what they were looking forward to in the coming afternoon. I pretended to be mischievous and the kids were laughing their heads off – “You can’t do that at school”! And overlooked by a couple of teachers we snapped back into best behaviour!

Alice chucked food around whilst we all gobbled up the (mostly) lovely lunch before having hugs and saying goodbye til home time!

School dinners aren’t anything amazing but it was one of my favourite lunches because of where I was and who I was sharing it with. I think they have come on a bit since we were there, and the shortbread and custard was a tasty bonus, but this moment of being sat together at their school enjoying lunch was just brilliant.

I love the ordinary moments of motherhood where we get to have a glimpse into their independent little lives and share special moments in our days that are just a little bit out of our ordinary routines! I loved seeing them in their school setting and sharing lunch together. I loved the day we went for School dinners and I look forward to our next lunch date!

The Ordinary Moments
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Facebook last week reminded me that this time 3 years ago, Nathan and I were in Prague. What a great place that was and the trip itself was amazing, we carry some great memories from it. But then there’s nothing like seeing the fun of being elsewhere and the drag of January in the here and now to make you feel a great desperation for some travel, and lots of wanderlust.

And so, on the last day of the Month we decided to take the plunge and booked a 2 week vaycay in America that we’ve been talking about for months! It’s going to be epic!

It’s been on the cards for us for a while as I want to go back and show the fam where I lived in Mesa, as well as visiting a few big things too like HollyWood, the Grand Canyon and Vegas, and our family and friends in Utah! I will do either a post or Vlog about it at some point soon, because in my true thrifty style, it was a right barg! But yes, we are ending the month on an absolute high with a great trip on the Horizon for us all!

January for us, like most has been littered with some seasonal illness, new starts and hibernation! We bought a new (to us) car a couple of weeks ago and Nathan and I started to eat better and cut out Sugar. So far we have been doing great and between us have lost 10lb. I am excited for Springtime and the hope of a flatter stomach and less bulges on the sides.

Megan and Ethan finally started their swimming lessons, which we go to every Thursday and they absolutely love it. They spend most of the time with huge smiles and laughter on their faces and it’s such a delight to see, despite the mad rush getting there! Megan also started Gymnastics and Rainbows, both of which have really built her up and given her some independence.

Alice and I haven’t done a huge amount out of our ordinary, and in fact probably not even that much.

But the highlight for us all this month (aside from the epic Vay-cay coming our way) was certainly the snow and cake we enjoyed right here at home!

We had several days of scattered snow showers and then a week or so ago we had a really good covering which was a lot of fun and very pretty too. The village looks great in snow and I feel being in the countryside its all so much prettier and fresh. And then last week we welcomed friends and neighbours over for an afternoon of fun and frolic (and tasty cake) as part of a collaboration I have been working on with Baking Mad. It was so much fun and lovely to socialise with everyone and have them in our home!

January has been nothing special and no major news to report, but it has been great to get back into normal life and routines and think about our goals, plans and what we want to make happen this year. I am really excited for the year ahead and to welcome in February with new fresh moments to enjoy – Not just because its a shorter month, but because we have half term to look forward to and buckets full of love coming our way too. I really love it and all the things you can make and do together around love!

Today the sun has been shining (and feeling somewhat spring like), and that combined with 4 or 5 days of feeling weak and rubbish with a cold virus, I just can’t stop smiling at what’s to come! We are all soooo excited for a trip, for a new month and for what lies ahead in 2018 for our family. I won’t miss January but I will be thankful for it teaching me a lot about patience!

Sorry about these dreadful pics!!! I promise more lovely ones of us in the coming months!

I hope if you have had a bit of a blue January that February will be kinder and filled with love for you!

This Month we are grateful for 

Grandma Smith lending us her car whilst ours is in the garage
The cake turning out brilliantly
Our Neighbour for taking Megs to Gymnastics
Ethan being Star of the Week
Megan and Ethan starting swimming lessons
Megan starting Gymnastics and Rainbows
Mummy having more work through her blog
A USA trip to look forward to

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful
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Before we get any closer to the end of January (and therefore any further away from Christmas), I wanted to to share with you why I regret some things about Christmas that we did with the kids. I guess it’s something I see as a bit of a parenting fail and something I have been harbouring for the last few weeks.

My Christmas Regrets

My Christmas regrets really came to light on the bus back from our annual NYRM trip. Whilst I had been feeling something I wasn’t 100% sure what it was, and then as I chatted with me sister in law and brother in law about their approaches to gift buying for their kids, and how Christmas went, I began to be able to label and own it.

R E G R E T!

I was feeling regretful.

We of course had an amazing Christmas time filled with lovely things, opportunities to help others, lots of family and yummy food. But as I sat watching the kids on Christmas morning, my joy of giving them a lot of what they had asked for was tarnished with feelings of regret! It was a hard thing to admit, but yes – I had regret for how much stuff they had and how this in return created attitudes that made me cringe!

The key there was that I had given them what they had asked for. There was no element of surprise and mystery, it was a bunch of stuff they wanted and that wasn’t necessarily the best things, and this suddenly made them all about self and a sense of entitlement – Of course they got this and that over there, because they had asked for it.

I didn’t like it – not one bit.

I wanted them to be gracious and grateful for what they had, and I wondered what happened to the days kids got one surprise of a well made gift they cherished for years to come? How far we have come from that and how off this Christmas felt. The gifts I went nuts over buying for them, felt so annoying for how they had made my children be.

Even after all the suffering they had seen in the homeless and refugees, all they had had a hand in doing in aiding others during December. It seemed to mean nothing and I was absolutely gobsmacked that it was all “me me me”! Excitement was there yes and that was lovely, but there was no thought for any one but themselves and a “Oh yeah, of course I go this and that!” type of smug attitude.

The gratitude and thoughtfulness was overshadowed by beastly children in the attitude of self and that was a lot to do with me buying almost all of what they wanted!

In comparison to others, they didn’t particular have loads, and what we spent wasn’t particularly excessive either, but somewhere along the way we had lost what we wanted for kids at Christmas time. I looked on that scene, and their behaviour following, and suddenly felt I had lost vision of what Christmas is, and especially what we wanted it to be in our family!

Christmas isn’t about them 

In our home/Family it isn’t about them – not really. I am not a tight skinflint parent, and I do not feel that this attitude is harsh. But I do not want them getting so much stuff just because it’s Christmas and then expecting that every year. I don’t want to hear “Me, Me, Me” leading up to the day and them talking all about themselves and what they are getting.

Christmas is not about them, and nor is it about any of us and what we are getting or wanting. It is about giving – giving gifts to loved ones, giving of our time, our means and our excess. It’s about giving our love to others in what ever way we are able just as Christ did when he came to the earth for us and helping to make the season brighter for those who suffer. It’s about celebrating what we have because of the Christmas story and singing praises about what that means and how wonderful and joyful it is.

It’s about playing our part to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all!

Its not about our kids and lists as longs as their arm because they saw it last week on an advert, it’s about others first and celebrating Christ! And because of that realisation early on in our parenting journey we quickly changed our “Want, Need, Wear, Read” approach to the kids gift giving, to just 3 gifts under the tree. Yes only 3 … to symbolise what Christ was given by the wise men and then a small one and stocking next to their bed from Father Christmas.

So yes we give gifts, and look forward to the magic of Santa coming, but we want them to realise that it is so much more than that!  And that is why this year I regret how it all panned out.

Next year there will be no lists 

And so because of that regret, next year there will be no lists. No expectations and no “I want, I want, I want”!

Our focus again will be about random acts of kindness for others, singing Christmas songs and being with family. We will have festive family outings and lots of treats and Christmas films whilst we snuggle, and they will have some lovely things under the tree to look forward to too, but none of them will be things they have asked for, gone on about and whined about! We will not be asking our children what they would like for Christmas and they understand that they will not ask, demand or expect either.

They won’t be writing lists, which take up their time thinking of themselves, and we will not be having weeks of talking about themselves and what they’re getting, or throwing tantrums and moods when you say “No, I don’t think so”!

Instead we will chose for them things we know they will like, and things that are appropriate and not too excessive. Things that are age appropriate and lasting. They will have just one good main gift and a couple of smaller things (not 3 big ones like this year), and these will continue to be in accordance to the budget we feel we can afford at the time and the symbolism of the 3 gifts Christ received. The stockings will remain with all the little bits, but the Santa gift will be toned down too to the one small thing (A little toy no doubt). We don’t want to take Father Christmas out of the equation because it is such a magical and brief part of childhood, but we don’t want our kids thinking he can just bring them whatever they want and ask for. I really don’t want another Christmas morning looking upon the faces of my kids and seeing that attitude. I want them to be grateful and appreciative of what is given, and far from an attitude of expectation at Christmas time.

Our kids want for nothing so I wonder why throw so much at them in the name of Christmas? This year, and in years to come they are going to have a great time and have lovely things and lovely surprises to look forward to, because we know our kids and we know what they love and what will be great. But we don’t need to ask and write lists of stuff because what will be good is often very different to what they think will make them happy!

I do not want Christmas regrets next year, but to get the balance of a magical Christmas and lovely gifts with gratitude and thoughts for others just right. We feel by making these changes that this way they can be, because that is what they will have received and they have a choice to whine about it or be grateful and love it.

Their Birthdays are about them – all the way. They can ask for anything then, but Christmas? No. That is about others and what we can give and how we can make the season better for those who suffer. Christmas is about moments, changing us and making us better people. It isn’t about stuff, but rather how we feel, the spirit of the season, and what actions that ignites with in us to make the world a better place.

Because of the love I have for each of them I want to nip any element of selfishness in the bud and I will not spoil them with all they ask for, but rather teach them gratitude, appreciation and the element of surprise and giving to others!

 

 

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