Archive for December, 2012
I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, but I did set a goal for 2013. This year I want to focus on accepting the things in life that I cannot change. As I was walking my son through the neighborhood this afternoon I couldn’t get the following verses out of my head:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Some things in life simply don’t change. Take people as an example. You can hope they will mature or become selfless as they age, but the truth is most of us don’t radically alter our personality traits from year to year. If you don’t like to share as a child, odds are that you won’t want to share as an adult.
Of course, I want to see the good in people, but so many times it is the bad traits that cause us heartbreak and distress.
This year I don’t want to focus on the negative. I don’t want to think that people will change. Instead I want to accept people for who they are. I want to change my reactions to their behaviors. I want to avoid the topics and interactions that cause fights to erupt and emotions to soar. Some of that will be possible and some won’t, but overall I want to limit time spent dwelling on the negative.
I thought a lot about this as I walked outside, feeling the warm sun on my face and the cold wind all around me. My son couldn’t seem to fall asleep this afternoon, so I took him out in the stroller in the hopes that the motion would help him relax. Within a few minutes he fell asleep and I looked down at his little face with red nose and bright cheeks and prayed for his future.
I hope that he gets the best parts of my husband and I. I hope that he is patient like his mother and driven like his father. I hope he is humble and compassionate. That he thinks of others, but sticks up for himself whenever necessary. I hope he is smart and kind with a good sense of humor.
As I looked down at his little cherub cheeks I couldn’t help but hope for a life full of joy and happiness.
As my son grows I know that many things will be beyond my control. I fear that the motherly worry gene will kick in and that I’ll stay up nights worrying about all sorts of things, few of which I can control. I hope to keep the serenity prayer in mind in 2013 and beyond. I want to accept that there are things in life I cannot change and also search for the wisdom to change the things I can.
I want to focus on the good in the world. I want to fill my life and the lives of those around me with joyful moments.
For the past two years my husband and I have given my son one gift each. He was born in October of 2011, so last year he was only two months old when Christmas rolled around and this year he was just a few days over 14 months.
At this age he doesn’t know the meaning of Christmas, he can’t tell us what games he really wants to play with and he certainly doesn’t know if he should receive two gifts or a room full of presents.
This year he received a bottle of Mr. Bubbles for extra special bath time fun and a toy that sings when he turns it’s pages. The toy was intended to distract him during long car trips to North Carolina. He opened those two gifts then helped my husband open the four gifts, (two each), that we bought for each other.
Some friends and family members seemed surprised by the lack of gifts under the tree, but for the time being I decided that my son simply has enough. Thanks to the generous hand-me-downs of friends and family members our living room already looks like the toy department at Target.
I’ll never forget some of the early Christmas’s for my niece and nephew. They received box after box of brightly wrapped paper and spent little more than a second or two looking at the gift before ripping into the next one.
I want my son to have time to reflect on the gifts he receives and to take the time to thank the gift givers for all that he receives.
This year my son received only one gift each from my grandmother, parents, brothers and sister-in-law. The rest of the money that would’ve been spent on gifts was funneled into his 529.
As my son ages I know he probably won’t be happy with my two gift rule (one from mommy and one from daddy). I’m sure he’ll circle pages of the circulars and provide long wish lists for us.
In fact, I wonder how long I can continue the two gift policy and I wonder if there are any parents out there that feel the same way I do?
On Christmas Eve my husband and I placed $50 grocery store gift cards into holiday cards, loaded my son into the back of our car and drove to two nearby fire stations to deliver them. At both stations we were welcomed in by friendly volunteer firemen who were elated to receive an unexpected Christmas gift.
My son is too young now to understand the value of our gifts, but I believe we may have found a new Christmas tradition. As he gets older we can explain that these men and women volunteer their time to keep us safe. In light of all of the negative things in the world I want my son to know that there is a lot of good on this earth. The fact that people are willing to step into burning buildings to protect total strangers has always astounded me. I want my son to remember that in light of troubled times there are everyday heroes who walk among us.
Of all the Christmas gifts I purchased and wrapped this year, these gifts cards were by far my favorite. Isn’t it funny how a gift to a stranger meant more to me than all the gifts I wrapped for loved ones? It’s not that I don’t love my family. I definitely do. It’s just that this gift seemed extra special, because it was so unexpected by the people who received it.
I would like to continue this tradition for years to come. While we will probably provide a gift for the firehouses each year I would also like to think of other unexpected ways to give. As my son gets older I hope that he can join in on the fun. Maybe we can pay for groceries for someone in line or provide an extra large tip to a friendly waiter or waitress. Maybe he’ll want to provide a gift for his school bus driver or for the woman who reads stories at the library. The key is to spread a little holiday joy for someone who isn’t expecting it.
Have you ever provided a gift to someone who wasn’t expecting it? If so, what did you give?
We’re on tap to cook a bunch of dishes this Christmas, so my husband and I prepared a roast, two batches of sweet potatoes and two batches of mashed potatoes. All of that is currently waiting in the fridge until the big heat up begins tomorrow.
Our presents are wrapped and delivered to our parents houses. On the big day we just have to get ourselves ready and drive. No need to load the car with gifts and no chance we’ll forget something important.
Last year Christmas was unbelievably hectic. We rushed from one location to the next with no time to relax and no time for ourselves. This year I hope we’ve prepared enough to kick back, drink some eggnog and enjoy the time with our families.
I’ll celebrate a quiet Christmas morning with my husband and son. We bought the little guy two presents. I think that’s the same number we purchased for him last year. He’s only fourteen months old, so honestly he’s happier with the wrapping paper and box then he is with the gift inside, but I’m still excited to see him rip into the wrapping paper.
I probably won’t jump online tomorrow, so I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas! I hope the new year brings you health, wealth and happiness. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Before my son was born I intended to blog every week about his growth and development. At fourteen months I’ve written a total of 11 posts.
I intended to make sugar cookies from scratch and bake two big batches for the grandparents this weekend. Instead I bought a roll of cookie dough from the grocery store and made a total of 6 cookies.
I have every intention of making it to the playground every afternoon, but some weeks I don’t make it there at all.
I intended to wash my son’s clothes in eco-friendly baby detergent, but some days I wash all of our clothes together and just toss in the regular soap.
I had every intention of feeding my son an organic diet, but suddenly realized I’m feeding him non-organic cottage cheese.
When my son turned one I intended to write down everything he learned in his first year. You know, how he can point to his toes, clap, wave bye-bye and all that other fun stuff. Well I managed to write it down, but then somehow lost the piece of paper I wrote it down on.
When my son wasn’t sleeping through the night a friend told me to let him cry-it-out. I wrestled and worried about her advice for days. Should I coddle him? Should I console him? Should I leave him to cry? If I let him cry will he grow to hate and resent me? If I rock him to sleep will he want to be comforted before bed for the next 18 years?
My worry was unfounded. Ultimately I left him in the crib and found he didn’t cry at all. He fussed for just a few minutes and fell asleep. All that worry was for nothing. He was perfectly fine.
I am a perfectionist at heart. As a child I felt utter disappointment at any grade other than an A+. As a first-time mom I want everything to be perfect. I want to do everything just right. I love my son so much that I don’t want to disappoint or damage him. I don’t want to do anything wrong.
I keep having to remind myself that motherhood isn’t graded. The Facebook pictures I see of mom’s baking cookies with four immaculately dressed children are unbelievably impressive, but those moms aren’t me.
In truth I want my son to know that we all make mistakes. That no one is perfect and that we should not pursue perfection at all. I would give anything to tell my former self to relax. That I was good enough. That I didn’t need straight A’s. If you spend all your time trying to be perfect you’ll never be yourself. Your life will never seem worthy enough, the goal of perfection is simply unattainable.
Above all else I want my son to know that I love him more than I ever could have imagined loving another little soul and that every decision I make and every action I take is being made to the best of my ability.
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Over the years my Christmas wish lists have changed dramatically. One year I asked for practical gifts, one year I asked for fun gifts, one year I wanted to focus on consumable items, the next I concentrated on interesting experiences.
As much as my overall desires have changed one thing has remained steady. Every year, for the last ten years, I have without fail asked for one thing. It’s a simple, but very expensive request: a gift certificate to the spa. It’s a luxury I often feel guilty buying for myself, so I truly love it when someone else splurges for me.
There are so many products targeted at pampering women, but very few available for men, so when BlogHer contacted me and asked me to promote the Art of Shaving, (a site full of pampering shaving products for men), I jumped at the chance.
My husband and I recently took my son for his first hair cut. Well I should say hair trim, because I only let the barber trim his bangs and right above his ears. We walked into an old school barber shop where men line up and wait their turn in the big black chairs.
I’d never stepped foot into a barber shop before and I was quite fascinated by the old-school barbers who warmed towels, lathered up a man’s face with thick brushes and shaved his beard with a flat edged razor. When they finished the man’s skin looked as smooth as my fourteen month old son’s.
The Art of Shaving website helps men get this clean, pampered, professional feeling in their own home by focusing on 4 elements of the perfect shave. Those elements include preparing, lathering up, shaving and moisturizing. They sell shaving kits and shaving related products that help men achieve the perfect shave.
If you really want to pamper your husband consider buying him the ProGlide Power Shave Set for Christmas. This set includes a razor, battery, pre-shave oil, shaving cream pump, shaving brush and after-shave balm pump in an elegantly packaged gift box.
Right now the Art of Shaving is offering Free Ground Shipping and 10% off ProGlide Power Save Sets, through 12/30/12 when you use promo code 10PowerShave at checkout.
There are lots of gift sets available on the Art of Shaving website. The set above retails for $175, but there are much less expensive kits available starting at $25. If you are interested in pampering that special guy in your life this might be the gift for you.
Here are two other deals you might be interested in:
- Free Ground shipping and $15 off your purchase of any The Art of Shaving Full Size Kit, until 12/30/12 with Promo Code: 15offFSK at checkout
- Enjoy 20% off your purchase of The Perfect Shave Solution. Valid unitl 12/30 No code needed. Discount automatically applied at checkout when you purchase a full size Pre Shave, a full size Shaving Cream or soap and bowl, Shaving Brush, Razor and After Shave.
In all the years I’ve known my husband I don’t think I’ve ever bought him a pampering present. In fact, I typically buy his razors for free or close to free using a combination of coupons and drugstore deals.
Maybe I need to rethink my gift giving strategies. Have you ever splurged on pampering gifts for the men in your life and if so what did you buy?
If you haven’t completed all of your Christmas shopping yet, definitely check out free shipping day where you’ll find 1500 merchants guaranteeing free shipping in time for Christmas Day!
I just reviewed my Christmas expenses and couldn’t believe how little I spent this year. As I mentioned earlier this week my brother and I recently decided to stop exchanging gifts with one another. Instead we’ll focus solely on providing gifts for the children. That change resulted in two fewer gifts under the tree and $50 to $70 less to spend. Total cost for my brother and his wife = $0.
I bought my nephew’s gift from a local toy shop on Small Business Saturday. (A day I absolutely love by the way!) I paid $39.99 for the toy, but received a $25 credit back from American Express. Total cost = $14.99.
I purchased my niece’s gift from ecomom using a voucher I bought from plum district. I spent $20 on the voucher, but used it during ecomom’s green friday, which resulted in additional savings. I received $100 worth of stuff for $40.00. When you break down all of the purchases, (I bought a bunch of toys for toys-for-tots and to store as future birthday gifts), I paid roughly $5 for her gift. I also bought a set of $6 head bands on sale for $1. They are green, pink and purple and unbelievably sparkly. Total Cost: $6.
I bought two of my son’s presents using that ecomom deal. I spent less than $5 for each them. I also plan to wrap a bunch of boxes and fill them with tissue paper and bubble wrap. At this age he’s more interested in the box than the gift and we have a room full of toys already. Total cost: $10.
Some members of the family will receive specialty chocolates. I used a gift card I won in an online contest to pay for those purchases. Total out of pocket cost: $0. I also bought myself a box of candy. Yum, yum, delicious!
I bought my mom a gift from NOVICA using a gift certificate I received last year for blogging about their site. Total out of pocket cost: $0.
I also cashed in $200 worth of credit card rewards for gift cards. (Thank you Chase Freedom.) I thought about using the gift cards to buy gifts, but ultimately decided to lighten my load on Christmas day by just handing out the cards.
I’m also giving my aunt and uncle a gift card to Starbucks. My husband and I each earned e-gift cards for completing surveys related to our 401(k) provider. I combined them onto a physical card that was already worth $5. Total out of pocket cost = $0. By the way kudos to websites like Starbucks and Subway that you let you combine gift card balances. I love being able to move all the money onto one card so I don’t have to drag a bunch of cards around wherever I go.
I used a Hallmark coupon for $5 off a $10 purchase to buy an adorable little Christmas dish set for a friend of ours who loves to entertain for the holidays. Total cost = $5.
Finally I dug through my gift box. That magical box holds items I purchase on clearance or at deep discounts throughout the year. Included in the box was a beautiful $50 scarf I bought for $5 after sales and coupons and a gorgeous set of candle holders and candles that I bought for $7. Total cost = $12.
I did splurge on two items for my husband. I can’t say what they are because he reads my blog, but they cost roughly $125.
So how about you? Did you manage to save a lot of money this year? If so, what were your tricks for saving money?