Valentine – A Sonnet

To my love…

My Darling Husband, kind and loving man,
Though tested by my melancholy state,
You’ve wrapped your arms around my crying frame,
And lovingly have bourne much of this weight.

These storms have lately shak’n us both with grief,
Attacking peace and robbing us of quiet,
Challenging Love, our patience and belief,
As darkness loomed, obscuring, briefly, light.

And still you love me, sure of brighter days,
Creative bursts and energy restored.
You watch for smiles, where vision lights my face,
Sense resolution for the broken chord.

My grattitude, O darling, gift of mine,
Is offered here, beloved Valentine.

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Date Night Ideas When At Home With The Tots

vodka_martini

If you are like us- don’t have tons of expendable cash, work several evenings and have small children (we currently have two, aged two and one, and a third in the oven)– then you’ll know the challenges of setting aside regular quality time to spend with your spouse.

Either you have the bedtime routine down, but babysitters don’t come cheap, and there is a limit to how many favours you can call in, or even if going out was an option, you are so tired by the time the evening rolls around, that you don’t want to go anywhere.

Have no fear- there are some fantastic things you can do together at home, which will make the evening pretty special and only take an hour or so.

We really have to work at keeping our ‘Date Night’.
Too often it gets eroded in the craziness of life, but I’m convinced that if we want to continue to connect and grow in love with our spouse, we need to make having designated, quality time together, a top priority.

So here are just a few fun, affordable, home-based date ideas that we have either done or have on our to do list.

1: James Bond Night vesper-martini-006
(obviously this can be adapted, if James Bond isn’t your thing.)
Dress up in your finest tuxedo/bond girl formal dress, mix up a cocktail and drink from your ‘nice’ glasses, dim the lights, sit at a little table in your living room and watch a Bond movie. If you have access to surround sound and a projector- even better.

2: Dig out the cards
Unless you are already a big card-playing family, chances are you’ve forgotten just how much fun (and competitive) a good game of cards can be. Set up some snacks and drinks and play at your dining table. Cribbage is our favourite, but if you are stuck for ideas, there are a ton of suggestions and rules of play online.

3: Get Messyfinger painting swirl
How much fun do your little ones have getting their hands into all things gooey and messy? If they are anything like my two, then you probably have to cover everything with protective gear (or spend a lot of time cleaning up)! So why not do something simillar as a couple?

I’m not suggesting making mud pies in the garden (although that could be fun if it is up your street), but why not lay out a big sheet of paper and try foot painting together? Or finger painting? Or make some bread together, by hand, whilst listening to music? The options are many, and there is something about being practical, tactile and creative, which allows for good conversation.

4: Play Desert Island Discs
Pick three favourite songs that you would take if you were stuck on a desert island, and share them with each other. Take it in turns, and explain what you love about each track and why they are important to you. You may discover something about your spouse that you didn’t know.

5: People-Watching
If you have a front garden or balcony etc. which overlooks a street, then get wrapped up warm (depending on weather and time of year)couple on bench, prepare a beverage of your choice, take some chairs outside, leave your phones and social media inside, and sit together, watching the world go by.
If you don’t overlook a street, just sit watching the birds/stars/nature.
This can be a real challenge if you struggle with stillness, but is a wonderful way to slow down in order to connect with each other, and your surroundings.

6: Throw a Private Boogie Night
Push some furniture aside in your biggest living space, plug in some coloured fairy lights and turn off the main light. Draw the curtains, turn up some favourite music and procceed to dance your hearts out.
It’s important to remember, that unless seriously good quality dancing is your mutual skill, then stupid, exhuberant moves are the order of the evening, and if they have names like ‘The Lawnmower’  (my husband wants credit for this one?!) then so much the better!
The goal is to have fun, let off some steam and enjoy being silly and playful together knowing that you are loved unconditionally.

7: Dream together…
Write the numbers 1-10 down a piece of paper, and give yourselves one minute on a stop-watch to jot down the first ten things, you would like to do, places you want to visit, dreams you would love to fulfil if money, time and opportunity were no object. Then share your answers and talk about them. You may be surprised by what you wrote under pressure from the clock, and even more so if you both wrote some of the same things.
You could repeat this task with other criteria if you so desired.

8: Boardgamesboard game stash
Dig out Scrabble, Pictionary, or whatever your boardgame stash reveals, and play that for the evening. Try to choose a game that still works well with only two people (monopoly isn’t the greatest for this), and maybe start a tournament which you can continue over several subsequent date nights. Or make up your own game!

9: Go to bed together
You don’t need me to spell it out. If your kids are asleep, seize the moment!

Whatever you come up with, just enjoy being together and connecting as intimate friends who make each other giggle. There is so much stress and seriousness involved in the business of ‘doing life’ together, that it is such a gift to take moments out of the madness to simply be playmates together.

I hope that this gives you some fun ideas, and I’d love to hear how you got on, or indeed any other ideas for ‘date nights at home’ you may have. Please feel free to leave a comment.

The old ball and chain…?

I actually hate this phrase. It’s meant to elicit wry chuckles, filled with knowing. Usually in reference to wives.
Conjuring up images of chain-gang prisoners, dragging their heavy ball and chain everywhere, enslaved for their past mistakes. Everyone who would look on a prisoner in such shackles would be really glad that they weren’t in the same situation. Sometimes sypathising, sometimes condemning their stupidity, and sometimes just laughing at their misfortune. Certainly not something to be delighted in. The ball and chain is nothing but a BURDEN – if you could get rid of it, you would. Without a second glance.
Yet it is still in use today as a description of a spouse – a reference to marriage.
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If those of us who are married are prepared to admit it – sometimes it can feel a bit like a ball and chain around our ankle, stopping us from doing what we would like, and holding us back.
But only sometimes. For a few moments….

Marriage is a God-ordained, God-designed institution. It couldn’t be one of our own making, because it is TOO DARNED DIFFICULT, we would never come up with the idea. We are too selfish and too quick to give up. It is hard.

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