I’m trying to blog more often—mainly for my own practice, but if you like it, too, I’m honored! And I’m trying to be more thankful and focused on the positives in my life. To help both of those, I’m shamelessly borrowing this idea from Crystal Paine with Money Saving Mom, to write a weekly blog post on five things I’m loving each week. So here goes.
1) A New Purse
I’m not a shopper (especially when it comes to clothes), but I realized I needed a new purse this week when looking at the mirror at church I noticed all the loose threads from my purse strap hanging over my shoulder—that and my purse is distinctly a summer purse because it has a flip-flop decoration. Style is so not my thing, maybe partially because shopping can make me feel like hyperventilating with all the different choices and sensory stimulus, but on Monday morning I decided to give it a try, with Elanor along to “help.”
David is in a homeschool coop that meets on Monday mornings, and though I love it, it gives a different dynamic to our week—Monday morning is ironically my slowest morning of the week with David gone and no home school routine to follow. So on the way home from dropping him off, Elanor and I stopped in at Kohls, and considering it was me shopping (and her) it went fabulous. I found this purse within a few minutes, with a price tag for $69, but on sale for $18. Elanor wanted me to get a bright purple one, but I’m happy with this one and it will match with most of my clothes. Yay for successful shopping!
2) Hot Chocolate
I’m hoping to complain about the weather less this winter (remind me of this in February) and to enjoy wintertime experiences like playing in the snow, curling up at home under blankets reading, and of course drinking hot chocolate (which I think in Elanor’s mind is the reason winter exists at all).
I came up with an easy homemade hot chocolate recipe to get away from the artificial ingredients in some of the mixes. I pour however much milk I want into a saucepan over medium heat on the stove, and then spoon in unsweetened cocoa (about one spoonful per cup of milk). I also add any other flavorings I want—I’ve done cinnamon before, a sprinkle of salt, or vanilla, and this week’s discovery was a drop of peppermint oil. So yummy.
Then I use my immersion blender (which I love) to blend it all together while I pour in maple syrup or honey to taste. I’ve had the burner on this whole time, so by the time it’s mixed up, it’s usually just the right temperate for the kids, and a few more minutes makes it perfect for Ben and me. Homemade hot chocolate in about five minutes. We’ve done this twice this week. I don’t know that that bodes well for our chocolate consumption this winter :P.
3) Samaritan’s Purse Shoeboxes
Back when I taught at private school, we collected Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes, and classrooms competed to see who could collect the most. Our students were from wealthy and generous families, and many children were bringing in about seven shoeboxes each. It was amazing.
So when I saw the shoebox opportunity at church, I decided to give it a try with David and Elanor this year. We’ve been so busy that it wasn’t until Friday morning that we got to it, and I showed them a few You Tube clips to explain what we were doing. I expected that we would have to go to the Dollar Store or Walmart and buy everything for the shoeboxes, like I did when I was single, and ended up spending about $30. But after watching the You Tube videos, David and Elanor got so excited about giving Christmas presents to poor children that we started filling the shoeboxes right then and there with small gently used toys that we had.
Small gently used toys basically breed in our home. The amount we have is amazing. So David and Elanor had no trouble picking out tiny stuffed animals, a small soccer ball, little cars, little princesses, and other tiny toys. We also had new toothbrushes on hand. So when all was said and done, all we needed to purchase was two bars of soap.
It made me so happy to watch my kids excitedly gathering their own toys to give away to others. I told them that they didn’t have to give anything, and that they shouldn’t give anything if they felt sad about giving it, because we had just learned the Bible verse put to music, “God loves a cheerful giver.” I only wanted them to give what they were truly happy and wanting to give.
Elanor especially was running around singing, “God loves a cheerful giver, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” to the song, and piling up things for the shoebox. She filled up her entire shoebox and a plastic bag besides (that she wanted to carry all the way to the shoebox destination to give as its accompaniment). She even wanted to give up her brand new Rapunzel and Pascal dolls. David was so concerned she would miss them later that he felt badly for her, but she was adamant that she wanted to give them up. The combination of Elanor’s passionate generosity and David’s sensitivity is sweet, even if it does take a some time to negotiate!
Sometimes I can feel so discouraged as a parent with how my children are doing, but this was one of those moments when I was so proud of them both that I thought my heart could burst. And so glad we did this.
4) Starbucks Buy 1 Get 1 Free
One of the reasons I follow Money Saving Mom is so that I can find out about deals that would make fun outings for our kids—like free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day, for instance. So that’s how I found out that right now Starbucks holiday drinks are B1G1 free in the afternoon. I stopped by with David and Elanor as an award for their good work on shoeboxes. Then at Starbucks they made a mistake with our order and gave us an extra drink, so it was B1G2 free for us. Fortunately they were all decaf! I love going on fun outings with my kids.
5) Mom’s Night Out
This week I had two not-normally-scheduled evenings when I got to go out and visit with friends. I’m an introvert and I love my quiet time, and I love being home with my family, but I also love going out with friends and having conversation that is food for my soul. I’m grateful that I have opportunities for that in my community, and I’m grateful that Ben is willing to tag-team parent with me and take over to give me a few hours off!
So those are the highlights of my week! What are you loving this week?