Works for me: The Spouse 4 Gift Formula

cmas tree

Christmas is coming! Are you ready?

I don’t know about you but we try to keep the presents from holding center stage in our celebration.  They are, however, a part of it.

There are all sorts of suggestions on how to give gifts to your children– 3 gifts to represent the Magi’s gifts, 4 gifts (want, need, wear, read), no gifts and donating or giving to others instead– but what I want to know is: what does one give a spouse?!?!?!

I think there are a few people who do well at this, you know, the ones with giving gifts as a love language.

Then there is the rest of us. The ones who said “lets not do gifts” but then, suspicious that the other spouse did rushes to CVS on Christmas Eve to find something…anything.  Or the ones who bust the budget on a completely misguided attempt at what they wanted or needed.

Why is it that the ones we love most and know best are the hardest ones to choose a gift for? Argh!

This year, I am saying “no more!” to my gift giving frustration and I am offering my formula to you in hopes that your gift-giving and Christmas celebration will be more relaxed and enjoyable as a result.

**A few notes: Consider this formula fodder for brainstorming,a place to start.  Each gift can be adjusted to fit your budget (from on-the-cheap to extravagant) and personality (if he doesn’t like to read, ignore the book suggestions…unless he might like an audio version).  Also, as a wife, I wrote this thinking about my husband but I believe the formula would work just as well for husbands to choose gifts for their wives.**

The Spouse 4 Gift Formula –

1) A gift for him as a man. This could be something he needs or wants (like clothes, shoes, a book) or something for his favorite hobby (fishing rod, golf balls & tees, a specialty tool) or something you know he likes (gift card to his favorite restaurant or store) or an item for his collection. This is where you really consider his tastes and interests, things he has mentioned wanting, and how he likes to spend his time.  You could stretch this category to include something he may need for work.

2) A gift for him as a Christian.  It is important to encourage our spouses in their personal walk with Christ, so give a gift that does that. Print out & laminate verse cards for the passage he wants to memorize, a devotional or Bible study book, a new Bible…maybe even arrangements to attend a Men’s Conference.

3) A gift for him as a husband. Plan a special date night or a whole year of dates, find a book you can read & discuss together (so many options here! Could be about marriage or any topic you are both interested in or the latest fiction bestseller or a classic), create some “love coupons” or buy something for you to wear for him…not gonna go any further on this one, I think you get the idea.

4) A gift for him as a father. Plan a family fun day, a gift card or supplies for an activity he can do with the kiddos (model to build, puzzle, bowling, movie…) framed pictures for his desk at work, put together a Hero kit. This is a great time to have the kiddos make or choose a gift!

That’s it.  Now I haven’t told you exactly what to give but hopefully I’ve given you a starting place to think about your man and ways that you can bless him in each area of his life.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Don’t forget to came back after Dec 25th and let me know what you gave. 🙂


Homeschooling Works for Me

This post is not so much about why we homeschool but about why it works for us…you know, the benefits that I love.

A lot of it boils down to flexibility. Allow me to explain:

~ We aim for a year-round schedule with breaks wherever we need/want them. Like last year, Eric was born on November 4th and we completely took off from all bookwork from then until January. Sweet!

~ Although I planned to work through the summer, I could tell we needed a break come late June so we did “school lite” just fitting the books in here and there. It has been a blessing…and we had more than one “ah ha!” moment when things just clicked on non-school time.


~ I planned to start our new school year on the day after Labor Day until we had the opportunity to take a mini vacation with family the next weekend. So we will start, officially, in mid-September. For now, we are easing in that direction–getting used to a new schedule, organizing the books, training in new household responsibilities…

~ During our evaluations this year, it became apparent that part of our current curriculum is not meeting all of our needs. We could keep plugging away and hope that someday it will work but we have the freedom to scrap it and try something new. Also, P & C have different– dare I say, opposite— learning styles. I love having the flexibility to choose the right curriculum for each child. As my friend, Melissa, would say: “The Curriculum works for you, you don’t work for the curriculum.”

~ Related to that, we are able to erase grade lines and work in each area wherever the child is. Just as age does not automatically determine maturity, age is not always the best gauge for what you are ready to learn or should be learning.


Besides the flexibility, the other benefit I love is recognizing that learning does not only happen during school hours with a textbook at a desk or table. Learning happens anytime, anywhere. We learn about nature when we play outside, fractions when we bake, and oh-so-many character lessons just in the normal course of the day.

Not to mention avian anatomy every time I cook a whole chicken for dinner. Not kidding.

It is not always hunky-dory.  Days do not always (ever??) flow smoothly. I have almost as much to learn as a teacher as my kiddos do as students.  We have highs and lows, cheers and tears. I’m sure I’ll write about all that another time, for today, my point is simply that homeschooling works for us.

What works for you?

Works for Me…

<newsflash> I do not have it all together. I do not have all the answers. I do not know all things.

Shocked yet? Or laughing hysterically?

Calm down, I’m trying to make a point.  So here it is…I may not have all the answers but I do know a few things that work for me.  Don’t miss that ‘for me’ please, because what works for me may not work for you. On the other hand, my trial-and-error may benefit you.  I would also like to add that what works for me today may not work for me next week.  (I may share some things that ‘worked for me once upon a time’ eventually)

So here it is (drumroll please) the first instalment of “Works for Me!”


Homemade Toothpaste

We’ve been on a slow journey into natural living– whole, real foods; natural cleaning supplies; herbal remedies. And now toothpaste.  “Why?” you may ask.  The answer is multifaceted but in an attempt to simplify I’ll just say that I became concerned with many of the common ingredients in regular toothpaste and most ‘natural’ options are either expensive or the same product in a different wrap with ‘all natural’ stamped on it.  So I did the research, I experimented. This may not be what we use forever but so far it is easy to make, my kiddos like it, and it works. I haven’t crunched the numbers– I had the ingredients on-hand– but I will…eventually. 🙂

I’ve tried a few variations but we are liking this simple version:

2Tbsp Baking Soda

1Tbsp Xylitol

1.5 Tbsp Coconut oil (I use extra virgin so it tastes like coconut)

pinch of salt

Mix it all together and keep it in a small container with a lid…a babyfood jar is perfect!

I’m still experimenting– I want to try a peppermint flavor and I’d love to make the right texture to use a soap dispenser (a new one that hasn’t had soap in it!) for easier dispensing, and, and, and :-)– but for now, this Works for Me.

Do you make your own toothpaste? What works for you?