Monday, February 20, 2012

Big News!

If you caught my post last year sharing some money-making ideas (you can follow this link if you missed it)  I have a new one to add to the list which we are doing ourselves.

This April we will be opening the Derrick Family Farm-certified SC grown! We will be selling our own organic local honey, fruits, vegetables, vanilla extract, heirloom seeds and potted herbs. We'll be open one afternoon each week as a market stand, right here at our house. Since the closest farmer's market is a good 30 minutes away, we think this will be a great way to bring a market to our area.

It's a big investment and commitment that we have spent a lot of time considering, and while we're still a bit nervous about taking the leap, we are also very excited about the possibilities!

Talk about keeping to our New Year's Resolution of responsible spending, now we are one of those small local businesses...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cutting Out the Cable Bill

Many of you probably already know this, but I'll pass it along anyway for the few tech-challenged ones like myself who have been a little behind.

We decided when our two year contract ran out with our cable company that we'd cancel it since we couldn't justify the $70/mo bill, money better spent elsewhere. I'd already made peace with the fact that we'd only have three channels of low quality, but at least we'd be able to watch our favorites.

Since we have a newer model flat screen tv, we didn't need a converter box-that was a nice surprise. We just ordered an indoor antenna (it's flat and light and fits behind the tv, nothing like antennas from 20 years ago) for $40. That gave us over a dozen channels and the quality is actually better than it was with cable, not something I would have noticed but my husband certainly did. We also bought a VGA audio video cable for $19 that will connect our laptop to the tv, so now we can watch movies or shows that are online on our big screen.

That's it! A $59 investment, less than one month of our cable bill, and we're still getting to watch all of our favorites. The best part is most of the junky channels are gone now, and if it isn't there then we won't get sucked into a waste-your-time-on-a-brainless-show marathon. Like junk food, if it isn't in the house you won't eat it. I'm feeling smarter already ;-)

PS-If you've never seen Parenthood, rent the first season and let the addiction begin. Best show on tv, you'll thank me later...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Husband Is A Travelin' Man, and Why You Don't Get It

One of the reasons I decided to be a stay at home mom is that in my husband's industry (marketing) he spends a good amount of time flying elsewhere for events, meetings and vacations (he can tell me a hundred times that he really was working on that week-long fishing trip in the Bahamas but that one sure sounds like a vacation to me!). If I were also working full time (as a teacher), plus bringing home grading and lesson planning I'm just not sure our kids would ever see their parents! Thus, one stay at home parent was our solution.

All this to say we have definitely taken the preferred path but it hasn't by any means been easy. While it's added more financial stress to my husband (though I've been able to alleviate that by saving us money) it's added parental stress to me, spending 25% of the year essentially as a single parent. When I meet new people and they ask where my husband is, I might say "Oh he's in ______ for work and he'll be back in a week. He travels a lot." What I didn't realize in the beginning is that a lot of these people didn't actually GET IT that my husband is hasta la vista, in another state, not coming home to eat dinner and help with bath time and we'll be lucky if we get to say hi to him today.

Suddenly some of the husband's of these women were traveling or otherwise out-of-state for a few days and they were in a panic, falling apart saying "Joey no you don't get it, he's going to be GONE for 3 days!!!" This moment takes some serious restraint on my part, and I would respond "Yes I know, Chris leaves for a week at a time pretty often. It's hard." Here's the inevitable/kicker response: "REALLY?" Didn't I already tell you this??

Let me give you an idea of what this actually looks like in real life: I am the full-time care for my children and not too long ago that meant a newborn and 18 month old. They do not attend a preschool (now we are doing one 2 hr. church class a week) or have a regular sitter who comes to relieve me. I am going non-stop from the moment they wake up until several hours after their bedtime just to get everything done. After five or six days when I'm burned out and exhausted I cannot hand my child over to hubby and say "Give me an hour or I'm going to lose it". There is no burly man to come by and take out the garbage (out of the kitchen or out to the curb) and no super hero sleeping next to me when I'm sure I've heard a serial killer downstairs in the middle of the night and I want him to check it out. In emergencies, medical (involving a trip to the ER) or otherwise (accidentally locking my children in the car in the driveway) I am on my own.

I also find myself feeling a little jealous of women whose husbands get to go into work later in the morning, come home earlier or don't bring their work with them. Whatever happened to 9-5? Holding my kids off for a 6:30 or later dinner each night is not impossible but it also isn't a whole bunch of fun either. When I find myself feeling resentful that "everyone else" gets to see their husband twice as much as I do, I just remind myself that I got the best one anyway and quality beats quantity any day ;-)

If your husband is not a regular traveler, you cannot possibly understand parenthood from this perspective, just as I cannot fathom how on earth a military mother or father can handle 6-12 months without his/her spouse. Just as none of us can imagine what it is like to actually be a single mom for years on your own.
So if you're lucky enough to have your man-meat around consistently make sure to be thankful for it, and maybe even see if you have a single mother and/or military friend that could use a hand (or an afternoon off).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding The Sweet Spot of Car Ownership

When I played tennis, I learned that the sweet spot on a racket was the area in the middle where if you hit it just right you would get the most "pop" from the ball, or the most speed for your strength. I think of buying a new car the same way, I want to get the most bang for my buck, so here is what I've learned.

1. Buy used, duh. We all know how much a car depreciates in value as soon as it's driven off the lot. But you wouldn't believe how many people try to justify purchasing a brand new car because they will keep it "forever". Even if you keep it until the day it dies, you have to purchase a pretty inexpensive car and hold onto it for a very long time to beat my method.

2. Buy direct from a person. Car dealerships are a ripoff even if you're buying used. Just bring the car to a mechanic and have them inspect it first, if the owner balks that should be a huge red flag.

3. Choose the car you want to purchase and then wait for a good deal. We searched for over a month before finding a great deal on the make/model we wanted, and we still had to forfeit our color preferences to get it.

4. Save up and pay cash. Another duh, no matter what deal you get it's not going to be as good once you pay interest on it. If you can't afford it now, you can't afford it.

5. Always make an offer. Even when buying direct form the owner, people price their vehicles knowing they will sell it for less. Decide what you would be willing to pay and then offer a bit less, that way you'll have some negotiating room.

OK now the things you may not have thought of:

6. Do some calculations as to how much the car will cost you per year for the number of years you expect to use it. My ideal target is $1000-$1500 per year, so if it costs $10,000 and we expect to use it for 5 years and then should be able to sell it for $4,000 our per year cost is $10,000-$4,000 divided by 5 years for $1,200/yr.

7. Consider the costs of car insurance, registration, taxes and gas as all part of the cost! I do not factor these in for the per year cost, but do use them to compare costs of different vehicles. Insurance alone can be an extra $2,000 a year for a new car, get a gas guzzler and you're looking at several thousand additional per year. When I compared the cost of gas of a Honda minivan vs. a Honda Pilot we figured out it would literally save us $5,000-$10,000 depending on the number of years we kept it. That's a lot of money I'd rather spend on something else-like vacations!

8. Pick your top 2-3 features and stick with them. You can't have them all, especially if you're looking to save money so decide what's important to you. Having lower floors, sliding doors and easier ability to move about inside were all important to us, that's what ultimately made us choose the minivan over the SUV (practicality won!).

9. Stick with old and boring. You may be longing for a new shiny car, but as long as old faithful is still reliable and your family's needs haven't changed, there's really no reason to switch-and it will cost you.

10. On the other hand, once your car becomes unreliable and you're spending more on regular repairs than you would on the per year cost of getting a "new" car, it's not smart to continue spending more money on an inferior vehicle. Cut the cord.

All that to say, I've found the sweet spot of owning a car to be purcharing one that is approximately 4-6 years old and keeping it for 5-10 years (the ranges are due to the varying makes/models and their reliability, the mileage it has when you buy it and how many miles per year you plan to put on it).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moms, Stop "Treating" Yourself and Start Creating Yourself

I'm sure you've heard the advice, probably dozens of times before. Be sure to treat yourself to some "me" time no matter how busy you are. It's likely the advice you heard was followed with a list similar to the following: read a good book, take a bath, call a friend, go shopping, go out with your husband or a friend, spend some time cooking/gardening/yogaing, ok that last one isn't a word but you get the point. Yes, these are all great things, but I just realized we have the advice wrong!

While we're in what I call "survival" mode with small children, we're grateful for a few minutes even once a week to do one of the activities listed above in order to bring a little more peace and calmness back into our chaos. I get that, but it's the equivalent of treating a symptom instead of treating the disease itself (please do not misinterpret this to think I'm referring to our children as diseases!). While taking a few minutes to take a bath or call a friend will bring you momentary relief, it will soon be gone and you'll be looking forward to the next break to regain your sanity.

Remember the days when you were a teenager, and you'd put on your music and spend hours working on a drawing/painting/pottery/poem/short story/skateboard ramp/etc.? You would get lost in something you were CREATING and completely lose track of time. That's what we mothers need to do again. Figure out what it is you are passionate about, where hours could pass and feel like minutes-and do that! Even if you aren't good at it, even if it doesn't make or save you any money, even if you have to spend money to make it happen.

Now your "creating" may involve something on the first list-my friend Kelly is a yoga instructor and it's so cool how she can take what she loves and is good at and use it to help other people (although she was still teaching classes with 3 small children, one being a newborn so we're not entirely sure she's human like the rest of us). You could look at the same class and see two different things-Kelly creating, and someone in her class "treating". Physical fitness is such an important thing and there are many benefits to yoga, so obviously I recommend it (if you can bend that way) but the student in Kelly's class should also be looking for a way in which she can create something for herself. 

I still love to read a good book, but creating something has relieved me of the constant need for "me" time. I still get just as much of it, and I enjoy that time as well, but it doesn't feel like I'm desperate for it any longer.

So ladies I ask you to please put down the bubble bath and pick up the paint brush, then share with me your creations!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Someone Remind Me Again, Why Did I Do This?

I became a stay-at-home mom so that my hair and outfit would be done and in style at a timely hour each day, lest we fall into those lazy motherhood ways and "let ourselves go", (we always looked at the poor "old" mothers and PROMISED to never let ourselves go!) like the 35 year old mother who just cut in front of you in the checkout line wearing mom jeans, an untucked plaid button down shirt that is wrinkled and probably doesn't match and seriously old rain boots...she must be a working mom!  No really, we actually made this decision so we'd always have clean laundry, a full pantry, sparkling floors, a professionally decorated house, a four course dinner every night (with perfect manners and conversation had by all) and eventually someone from "O" Magazine would take notice and send a reporter to decipher how I manage to do it all so beautifully...go team me!

Riiiiiight. I've determined it's absolutely impossible to have children under the age of 5 (it should really be 12,  90 if you include only males) living in your home AND have a completely clean home top to bottom. All at the same time. With your children present, you can't photoshop them in later! Hasta la vista to this dream....

Let's cut to the chase: you know it, I know it, and I'm pretty sure even Anderson Cooper knows it and will be busting open our secret on his next ridiculist. We all became SAHM's so we could sit around and watch TV all day, bon bon free thank you very much-Good Morning America is the cheerleader that leads the pack, then it's a soap here, some Dr. Oz there, don't forget Ellen! I know my kids are around here somewhere, I'll find them just as soon as they read the verdict for the Casey Anthony trial...

WHO DOES THIS??? I can honestly say that in the almost 4 years I've been a SAHM there was one day we had the TV on for me, the presidential election. So I guess pretty soon I'll be able to say "two days". All of those other 1400 or so days my kids had the pleasure of enjoying a show geared to them, edited by me (just because it's a cartoon doesn't mean it shows good values) and the only channels they are allowed to watch are PBS or The Discovery Channel or any show when someone is whispering and about to shoot a "buck deer" and so we all have to whisper too. Some days we don't even turn the TV on, those are the best.

Seriously though, I stayed home because it's critical to my child's education and well being. Daycare and preschool are a joke, how does playing "house" help my child in the real world? He needs me around, or who else will be quizzing him on the 23rd president? That one time my son could name all 50 states and everyone thought he was so smart must have boosted his self esteem tremendously, at this rate he will be carried out of his SAT's by a squad of cheerleaders on 5 hour energy. Of course they will make sure to put him back down (nicely) at an approved Ivy League school of my spouse and I's choosing where he will continue to achieve and change the world--we'll know how well he's doing this by how much money he makes. All because I gave up my career so my little one could have his dream, I'm such a great mommy!

I missed my kids. I loved them more than I thought would be possible considering we'd only known each other a few weeks. I knew what I was willing to do for them each day whether it was reading a book or holding my baby comfortingly on my chest while she was violently throwing up. Would someone else do this? I saw the timer turn to start, the one that calculates how many years/months/days/minutes/seconds you have until your child leaves you and I immediately started converting to percentages-it made me panic. I wanted to fix all the mistakes my parents made with me. I wanted to give these kids the best childhood memories to last them for a lifetime. I wanted to give them the very best parents to last as role models for a lifetime. But most of all, I wanted to give them the kind of family where their differences are cherished, each person is valued, we work together as a team 100% of the time and we teach them everything we can about life in order to scaffold their path so that they can grow and grow and GROW into whatever it is God has planned for them...because I'm sure it's better than anything we could dream up.

Cole just loves to say "cheese", Leah likes to practice a serious face, or she's 2 and just does the opposite of what I ask ;-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Garden Pics

Here are some pics I promised of our "winter garden" and odds and ends from our gardening ventures. Had I known it was going to be such a mild winter here, I would have planted much more!

Our lime tree, planted 2 years ago when it was only about 6 inches tall. Our mistake was not putting it straight into a large planter like this right away, it will grow much faster that way.

Some lemons growing on our lemon tree...

Carrots and onions in one of our beds.

Sage and parsley.

The mini-greenhouse we built using 2 sets of shelves and some clear plastic. It will hold about 300 6" pots.

Before winter planting, the yellowish plants in the front are not dead-they're asparagus.

Not that you can see them through the rain, but we planted 37 fruit trees in our front yard: apple, pear, plum, peach, cherry and nectarine.

Our fruit trees before the storm.

We take the kids blueberry picking every year and get enough to freeze and last all winter. Last summer we panted 14 blueberry bushes along our back porch, they are still small and I don't have any pictures.

 Our garden last summer, our kids were known for helping themselves to the produce-they would even pick lettuce and eat it with almost the same gusto as the strawberries. Almost.

Our beehive.

Our chickens that we received as newborn chicks, we currently have 5 hens and 2 roosters (one will be going soon).

That's it, we're expanding our operations this year and will hopefully have some better shots to post in the fall!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gardening Questions Answered

Since my post "The Real Cost of Your Gym Membership", I have received quite a few questions about gardening so I thought I would take a minute to answer them all here. First, let me clarify that we are still very novice gardeners. We learn a little more each year, but two years ago we had no garden to speak of and didn't know all that much about how to start one.

Q: Where do you get your seeds?

A: I've found that it's best not to buy seeds from your local hardware or grocery store, definitely pick a seed catalog. You'll get much higher quality seeds, more will germinate and you'll have a greater selection to choose from. We prefer non-GMO (not genetically modified) seeds and my favorite company is Baker's Creek. Their seed catalog is gorgeous and the company is family owned and operated, they also have great prices for heirloom seeds. (Heirloom seeds are ones that have been grown locally for a very long time, sometimes hundreds of years).

Q: How do you know what to plant?

A: First, we choose the foods we like. If we won't eat it, we don't plant it. Then we get online search for what foods grow well in our state. That's it.

Q: HOW do you plant?

A: I promise it's not as hard as it looks, there are directions on each seed packet for that specific plant. After lots of direction-reading I've got it down to this science: if it's a big seed I push it about an inch under the dirt, if it's a tiny seed I sprinkle it on top, water both after "planting". If it's a large food (watermelon) plant the seeds farther apart, small food (beans) plant closer together.

Q: Where do I plant? Should I use beds?

A: Full sun, all day. We put in garden beds since we have sandy soil, they're more work to fill in with dirt the first year but SO much easier to till and weed. The second year is a breeze.

Q: What kind of beds?

A: We heard wood will warp so we decided not to make our own. The best price I found by far was at Sam's Club $50/each with free shipping (this is key since they are VERY heavy) for a 4X7 bed made of a composite material that won't warp or break down. Looks just as good after several years. No tools required to assemble, each one took us maybe 3 minutes to put together and could easily be taken apart if we wanted to move them. Plus they are stackable if you want to make a taller bed.

Q: How did you get so many strawberries?

A: The first year we paid about $25 for 50 strawberry plants and planted them in the spring after the last frost (beginning of April for SC). That summer we pulled the flower blossoms off anytime we saw them and prevented the plants from making strawberries so that they would put their energy towards growing the plant. The next summer we didn't do anything but weed and water and after saving only the best strawberries, we harvested about $77 worth. The plants will continue to grow and produce each year.

Q: If your kids are 2 and 3 can they really help out?

A: They can't push the wheelbarrow, but my son does help shovel (with his own smaller shovel) and the kids get very excited to drop seeds in and help water. A few weeks ago they also worked together to carry up 100 pots filled with soil to the mini-greenhouse we made on our porch.

Q:  Should I start everything from seed?

A: No, some things require plants to start (sweet potatoes) or take a few years if started from seed to produce (asparagus). Also, we've had a lot of success growing lettuce and spinach from seeds but cabbage and onions did better when we bought them as small plants from a nursery.

Q: How often do I water?

A: Every couple of days or more often if it's really dry/hot. We put a small stand in the center of our garden and then put the sprinkler on top. The sprinkler is connected to a timer (you can get one at any hardware store) that will automatically turn on and off at specific days and times so I don't have to remember to water. WORTH the investment!

Q: What if I don't have a big yard or space for a garden?

A: You can always put a few tomato plants in pots on your porch. We even have a lemon tree and lime tree that we started in pots inside two years ago, they are HUGE now and will likely be planted outside this year but we are getting lemons already!

Can you think of any other questions?  If not then you don't have any excuses, unless of course you don't like to get dirty.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Real Cost of Your Gym Membership

I love joining a gym! I think it's fun to go workout and I actually enjoy those monster kick-your-butt cardio machines, even the stairmaster. But last year I took a good hard look at our fitness expenses and decided in favor of canceling to replace with the physical labor of tending a garden, here's why:
  • The cost of our "family" membership was $75/month even though I was the only one working out.
  • We were spending about $3.50 round trip on gas for EACH visit to the gym (we live about 10 miles away)
  • We were spending an extra 45 minutes on travel time and signing in/out of the childcare for each visit
  • The REAL cost each month was more like $130

Once we replaced that time spent at the gym with working outside in our garden, this is what we found:
  • We were still getting a great workout, maybe better--try tilling all of that soil and shoveling two truckloads of dirt to fill your garden beds!
  • The cost of seeds, soil and even raised beds was still less than we were paying for our gym membership-plus the beds are a one-time purchase so this year there is hardly any expense at all.
  • We grew tons of fruits and vegetables, saving us hundreds of dollars! Strawberries alone, we picked $77 worth (based on the price at our local u-pick strawberry farm, we used their old buckets to measure) plus gas to get there and back (45 minutes away).
  • You can still grow food even if you don't know anything about gardening, just get some good dirt and throw some seeds in-you will be sure to get something!
  • Our kids have learned so much about planting and harvesting food, and it's been a great learning experience for them.

Considering the money we are no longer spending to go to the gym plus the money we've saved by growing some of our own food, I've calculated we are saving somewhere between $1,800-$2,200 this year alone. We did have the initial spending of $500 on 10 raised beds, but if you don't have sandy soil like we do then you may not need to make this purchase.

Now let's compare the difference over ten years. After ten years of having a gym membership I would have spent around $15,600 and have nothing to show for it. After ten years of gardening I will have SAVED about $20,000, served my family more fresh/organic fruits and veggies and will still have the garden beds, tools and knowledge learned over that time. I will also have given my kids two gifts: the skills to grow their own food and quality time spent working together as a team. (This past weekend we planted all 10 beds, 100 herb pots and built a mini-greenhouse and they were so excited to help shovel, carry, plant and now look for the sprouts to come up). If your goal is to get in shape, you will achieve this either way if you truly devote the same amount of time to working in your garden as you were to working out at the gym.

*Disclaimer: when my daughter was an infant, my son was 18 months and my husband was often out-of state on business trips, I NEEDED that gym membership for sanity reasons. More often than not, I would head to the sauna instead of the treadmill and take a short nap out of exhaustion and the desire to sit without anyone climbing on me. If you have small kids and your gym membership is your break time, please ignore everything I just said and go take a nap!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Stop Fixing Your Kid

Every adult I know has likes and dislikes. No one enjoys everything in life, whether it's food, hobbies or fears we all find some things unpleasant or uncomfortable. And here's the thing, WE CAN'T HELP IT.

I don't choose to hate seafood, but that doesn't keep many people from trying to talk me into loving it. Gee thanks for the pep talk, my taste buds have completely changed now. I never made the choice to enjoy football games more than chick flicks, but I do. Despite the extreme sports I've tried (including skydiving and bungee jumping) I will never scuba dive, even in a pool, because it terrifies me. My husband can tell me a hundred times that certain snakes are not dangerous, but they will always be a phobia of mine. It's just the way I am, it's what makes me "me".

You would never think about "fixing" all of these characteristics in your best friend, so why do we do it to our children? I do believe in encouraging my children to try new things. But once they've tried it and expressed their dislike, I need to respect that. Otherwise I'm sending them the message that who they are already isn't good enough. This doesn't mean I let my kids avoid vegetables, I just make sure I'm either serving a veggie everyone likes or offering an alternative veggie for others. I don't try to reason with them and explain the science behind it if they tell me thunder is scary. Instead I offer comfort and encouragement for being brave when they're scared. Most importantly, I try to never criticize their dislikes or fears regardless of how unreasonable or illogical it may seem to me, it's their reality and they need me to support them.

So the next time you feel your frustration growing because of a "problem" you don't agree with, remember how frustrating it can be on the other side when someone close to you doesn't take your fear seriously. And if your child learns you're not listening to them now, what are the chances they'll still be sharing with you when they're a teenager?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Note of Encouragement To My Fellow SAHM's

Nothing brings out the opinions of others like parenthood, as I'm sure you've noticed even complete strangers will feel comfortable offering you all sorts of unsolicited (and sometimes unwelcome) advice. It still amazes me how often people comment on my decision to stay home with my children as opposed to continuing my career and enrolling them in daycare.

Now let me first be very clear, I am absolutely not saying all moms should stay at home with their children and/or it's the "right" choice. The purpose of this post is only to tell you fellow stay-at-home moms to ignore other people's opinions and remind you of what an amazing job you're doing!

Sometimes people don't get it, why would you choose to give up an exciting career to change diapers and wipe noses all day? For the chance to be present for all of your child's "firsts", for the opportunity to be the primary role model and teacher in your child's life, and because we only have our children in our homes for a short time and we want to make the most of it. And what is shocking to many people, we actually enjoy spending time with our children. Most people do, but I've also seen plenty of moms (including SAHM's) who daily can't wait to hand their kid over to childcare, a relative, a program, or anyone else the majority of the time. When these outlets shut down for a week around the holidays and in the summer, these parents are tearing their hair out in frustration because it's only "them and their kids" for the week. That's our house every week, and I have a husband who works long hours and travels for work, sometimes making it only "me and the kids" for the week. Why would I choose to spend this time with them and then hand them off to someone else to raise them? Don't get me wrong, my children are involved in a church class and gymnastics class (each once a week) and they really enjoy both. But that's three hours total, the rest of the week it's up to me to create fun activities and special moments. Last night we brought the kids along to a meeting and decided to have an evening picnic--it was cold, dark and our dinner was pizza but the kids LOVED it! I try to remind myself each week that it doesn't have to be perfect, just remember what is important and why I chose this career in the first place.

Don't let anyone make you feel like you took a step down when you traded in your fancy title for "mommy", you must have been humble to put your pride aside for your children's benefit and I commend you for that. It takes sacrifice to live in this way, you won't get any recognition or financial rewards and you will never get a promotion, but I promise that you could not be investing  your time into anything better!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

Congratulations to Charlene the winner of The I Like Book For Couples!

What do you get a man for Valentine's Day? Especially when you've likely completed his tool collection at Christmas and between little ones and finances, a weekend getaway is just not an option. I struggle with this every year and usually choose something with dark chocolate, always a hit. This year my husband would be opening a copy of The I Like Book for Couples with his chocolate, if I hadn't already given it to him for our anniversary last fall.

What a gem of a book this is, there are so many wonderful things about it! There is plenty of space for each spouse to write something he/she likes about the other for everyday of the year, and even some pages for including cute pictures of the two of you. I already know one of my husband's love languages is "words of affirmation", so this is a good way to make sure he's feeling loved through my positive words about him. It's also pretty exciting to sit down and see what he's written about me, and sometimes I'm surprised (and thrilled!) by the entries. Now matter how busy we get, it's easy to find 30 seconds to write a sentence at the end of the day, and it's so important to us to make our marriage a priority.

The authors, Lance and Meredith Looney, are a married couple who first began writing "I likes" to eachother on pieces of paper. It was such a rewarding experience that they decided to turn it into a book! Lance and Meredith even offer a money-back guarantee on the book's ability to make a difference in your relationship, how often do you see an author do that?

My husband and I will definitely be making this an annual purchase for our anniversary, how fun these will be to look back on and read together in 25 years! 

Books can be purchased for $19.95 at

Guess what? One lucky reader will win a free copy of The I Like Book for Couples!

All you need to do to enter the drawing is "like" their facebook page and comment below when that's complete!!/theilikebook?sk=wall

You may have one additional entry for sharing either this post or my facebook post regarding this giveaway on your own facebook page. Once you have done so, comment below and let me know. Thanks and good luck!

*Drawing closes and a winner will be drawn using on Thursday, January 12th at 8:00 pm EST.