Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Expressing Thankfulness and Appreciation

The importance of gratitude has been expressed throughout the ages. For example:

Thanksgivin' Tilt
Originally uploaded by LeggNet.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.
-- Buddha

Gratitude is to marriage as oil is to an engine. It needs to be applied liberally and throughout and is of such importance, that a fresh supply must be added regularly to ensure success and longevity.
-- Matthew Smith

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The importance of gratitude cannot be overstated. A marriage that is full of gratitude is also full of romance. A marriage devoid of gratitude soon loses its flame.

Take a moment and let your sweetheart know of your love and appreciation. Create a list of the things you appreciate about your sweetie. Maybe even write it in a nice Thank You card. Include several, maybe ten, specific items that your sweetheart may not know or that you have not expressed gratitude for in a long time.

Here is part of my list to get you going.

I am grateful:
* for your beautiful eyes and the way they shine when you smile
* that you have chosen to stay home and be there for the kids. It has made a big difference in our family.
* for pumpkin pie -- yours is the best
* that you are my friend when I need to talk
* for your parents and the fine example they show to the children
* for a warm hug after a hard day at work
* for your ability to sing and play -- I love to listen to you sing
* that you cut my hair
* for how you help the kids with their school work and help keep them motivated

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Romance on a Budget

An explosion of light
Originally uploaded by fabbio.
Think of the most romantic thing ever. It could be something you have done, something you would like to do or something you have heard about. Get a good picture of it in your mind. Go ahead, I'll wait.....

Let me guess. Your romantic idea is not "spend $100.00" or some other sum of money. Am I right? Of course I am. Spending money in and of itself is not romantic. However, it is a fair bet to say that your idea of romance includes spending a fair amount of money. What this says is that the romance is not in spending the money, but in what the money buys. It also means that we can be romantic without spending a lot of money. Remember, it is not the money being spent that makes the romance happen.

Of course, everyone's idea of romance is different. Some of my ideas are:
  • A trip to Hawaii
  • Dinner for 2 at a nice restaurant
  • Going to the Shakespearean festival
  • A walk along the beach holding hands
  • Going to see all the Christmas lights
  • Roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
Notice that "spend a lot of money" is missing from the list. Of course, several of the items would include spending a lot of money. But the money itself is not romantic. As an example of "romance without money", let us consider each one and see how the romance could be achieved without money being spent.

Roasting marshmallows by campfire

As mentioned before, S'mores are easy to do at home. To add to the camping ambiance, turn off all the lights, computer screens and televisions in the house and do everything by candle, flashlight or lantern. The kids love this one, too. You can even buy one of those Fireplace DVDs or a camping sound effects CD.

Note: Do not use kerosene lanterns in the house! By lantern I meant the battery powered ones. Also, be careful with candles as well.

Going to see the Christmas lights

This one is already cheap, if there are lights close by your home. And it is Christmas time. Of course. most holidays include some sort of public displays. There are fireworks and parades in the warmer months. Keep in mind that most towns have various public activities throughout the year and keep your eyes open for the local events to enjoy.

One thing our town does is has Santa Claus ride through town on the fire truck. Later, the kids can sit on Santa's lap and there are treats for all. Maybe its not all that romantic-sounding, but the kids enjoy it and it makes for an inexpensive break for the parents.

A walk along the beach holding hands

I love the beach. Of course, living in a desert 1500 miles from the nearest ocean means that the simple and inexpensive sounding walk along the beach will probably cost me about $1000.00.

First, we can walk holding hands without a beach being involved. It is fun to walk together and with the kids. It is great exercise and gives you an opportunity to talk and see the world at a slower pace. It can be done is all sorts of weather. Walking is even fun in the snow.

Also, part of the fun of the beach is going swimming. I know that swimming pools are not the ocean, but they are a lot cheaper. Swimming is also very good for you and the kids love to splash around in the water.

Going to the Shakespearean festival

We are lucky to have a top-notch Shakespearean theater company in our state. Of course, it is on the other end of the state and going is usually a 2 to 3 day affair. Of course, entertainment of that caliber does not come cheap either. The ticket prices are pretty steep, but worth it when I can afford it. The price is not that for a walk on the beach, but it is still expensive.

Most communities have community theater. The local high schools also perform plays. While not the world-class acting available at pricier venues, they are still a lot of fun and a whole lot less money.

Of course, little kids aren't going to be able to go, but once they are a little older the kids enjoy seeing these plays as well. Often there will be some acquaintance performing which makes it even funner.

Dinner for 2 at a nice restaurant

A nice evening out at a fine restaurant can be both romantic and expensive. Getting dressed up and being waited on while having uninterrupted conversations has a lot to be said for it.

With just a little preparation, a nice dinner can be had at home. Get out the nice table cloth, the good dishes and fine linen. Put on a CD of your most romantic music. Fix your sweetie's favorite meal and serve it by candle light. Be sure and get dressed up like you were going out.

A dinner like this is a great way to show your kids what good manners look like as well.

A trip to Hawaii

Going to Hawaii is always considered romantic. I want to go one day and find out. Sure sounds romantic to me. It also sounds like a lot of money.

One thing to do is have a luau at home. First make some leis and grass skirts. Have a meal with glazed ham, fresh fruit and tropical drinks. Put on Beach Boys music and dance. Everyone needs to dress in their swim suits or Hawaiian wear. This can be a lot of fun in the winter when it is cold outside. Oriental Trading Com has lots of fun stuff in the Everything Luau section.

Inviting another family or 2 over can make the luau even funner for both the adults and the kids.

I hope this has given you some ideas to have romance even with budget restraints and with little children. Other ideas for romance on a budget:
What romantic things have you done that don't cost a lot of money?