Tag Archives: Family

2015 Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

  1. Toddler
    • Make play dough and play together.
    • Play dress up.
    • Play in a toddler pool or water table.
    • Run around at a park.
    • Play in a sprinkler or with a hose.
    • Wash the car!
    • Eat popsicles or ice cream from the Ice Cream Man that drives around selling ice cream.
    • Make giant bubbles (there are recipes online).
    • Visit a petting zoo.
    • Have story time every day.
    • Watch all your Disney movies.
  2. Child
    • Make a giant chocolate chip cookie (or their favorite treat).
    • Catch fireflies.
    • Have a sleep over.
    • Let the child “camp out” in the living room – sleeping bag, flash light, tell stories, have a special treat.
    • Play catch.
    • Go to a pool.
    • Fly a kite.
    • Play hopscotch.
    • Go to a children’s museum.
    • Decorate cookies.
    • Have a treasure hunt.
  3. Teen
    • Interview an older relative.
    • Have a scavenger hunt.
    • Collect family history.
    • Write a short story.
    • Publish your own stories in a book – there is a site called Lulu.com that can be used for self-publishing.
    • Eat five things you’ve never eaten before.
    • Keep a journal.
    • Go to the beach.
    • Go to a water park or an amusement park.
    • Make friendship bracelets.
    • Go to a fair.
    • Get a summer job.
    • Set some goals, then achieve them!
  4. Adult
    • Take a craft class.
    • Go to summer school for something that fascinates you.
    • Make beer or wine.
    • Bake a pie from scratch.
    • Learn to bake bread.
    • Go to a concert.
    • Go to the symphony.
    • Be a tourist for a day.
    • Plant a garden.
    • Raise herbs in planters.
    • Have a yard sale.
  5. Outdoors
    • Build sandcastles.
    • Go to the zoo.
    • Go to a baseball game – or a game of your favorite summer sport.
    • Play basket ball or another team sport with friends.
    • Go stargazing.
    • Watch a sunrise.
    • Watch a sunset.
    • Play Frisbee.
    • Play golf.
    • Play tennis.
  6. Indoors – Hot/Rainy Day
    • Have a movie marathon.
    • Make treats for neighbors.
    • Go indoor rock climbing.
    • Learn a foreign language.
    • Watch some documentaries.
    • Read a biography or an autobiography.
    • Write and publish your own book.
    • Make a video tutorial and post to YouTube.
  7. On a Budget
    • Go bike riding.
    • Blow bubbles outside.
    • Drink your morning coffee on the patio or porch.
    • Read a book a week.
    • Tie-dye tee shirts.
    • Make jam.
    • Go play mini-golf.
    • Take a picnic to the park.
    • Collect seashells on a nearby beach.
    • Make a root beer or Coke float.
  8. Family
    • Have a weekly family game night.
    • Make pizza.
    • Cook a meal together.
    • Have movie night.
    • Go to a concert – some locals have free concerts or concert series over the summer.
    • Have a movie marathon.
    • Go tubing.
    • Take a day trip.
    • Put on a magic show.
    • Have story time.
    • Have water gun fights.
  9. Couples
    • Get a couple’s massage.
    • Learn a romance language together.
    • Build a blanket fort.
    • Take a dance class together.
    • Go stargazing together.
    • Kiss at the top of a Ferris wheel.
    • Share a soda or milkshake.
    • Work at a soup kitchen together.
    • Take a spontaneous weekend trip.
    • Take up a hobby together.
  10. Miscellaneous
    • TaMake homemade ice cream.
    • Take a picture every day.
    • Go a week without electronics.
    • Make s’mores or some other summertime treat.
    • Do random acts of kindness.
    • Cook out.
    • Write down something that makes you happy every day.
    • Learn to play an instrument.
    • Learn to scuba dive.

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10 Ways to Organize at the Start of a New School Year

Back to School

Ok, my children are in second and fourth grade.  I have put this off long enough.  I have been trying to find a workable system to keep track of appointments, school events, paperwork, things that are to keep at home, things to return to school, and so forth.  So…finally I have committed to doing this for 2014-2015 school year.  Go me…lol.  Better late than never!

This year I have started some new things in an effort to start getting my family more organized.  Here is my list of projects:

  1. Notebooks for each child.  Name, teacher’s name, grade, school year and school will go on the front page.  Name and year on the spine – if I can get that arranged.  In each:
    • Page with school address, telephone number, fax, school nurse name and contact information, and hours.  I will also put the teacher, her email address, contact number (phone extension) and hours I can reach her.
    • Copy of the school system calendar for the year, along with information on make-up day schedules
    • Section for correspondence with the teacher and with the nurse as needed
    • Section for IEPs, report cards, etc.
    • Section for notes from meetings and the like
    • Section for papers to save
  2. Create a place to save special artwork and larger documents.  Ideas include:
    • Files in a file cabinet
    • File specially designed for the purpose
    • Frame that allows you to easily rotate artwork out
  3. Put together a “study basket” with necessary materials (not all of these apply to my son, who is 9, but would be good for older kids):
    • Pens
    • Pencils/pencil sharpener
    • Eraser
    • Scratch paper
    • Calculator
    • Loose-leaf paper and clipboard
    • Crayons
  4. Organize school lunches.  One thing my husband and I have started doing is making up snack bag servings of sides and treats for lunch boxes for about a week at a time.  Sunday evening is when my husband usually gets these ready; we’ve broken down getting-ready-for-school activities – he gets lunches ready and I feed and dress the kids in the morning.
  5. For next year, I want to try following a checklist that I found here.  Mind you, the actual checklist is one on a list of organizational ideas linked from other locations.  Still, it breaks down all the different things you need to do to get ready ahead of time for the start of a new school year.  Great checklist to follow!
  6. Organize the calendar.  Put all of the appointments, school events (print out school system calendar as soon as its available), and family events – then color-code by individual.  It makes it so much easier to see at a glance who is doing what during the week.  Also, find out if there are any due dates known up front for applications to things, deadlines to have information in by, and the like – add those to the calendar and highlight in their own color!
  7. Designate a place in your house to store school supplies and store them there.  At the end of the year, place the unused supplies there as well – next year, you may not need to buy as much.
  8. Clean off the fridge and start the new school year fresh.  Put the new school calendar or class calendar for the month up, list of school supplies, and a plastic bag for box tops.
  9. Establish the daily routine early.  Kids do so much better with a regular schedule, especially a lot of special needs children.  Get them into the routine of doing homework first, relaxing, going outside and playing, dinner with the family (as much as possible with multiple schedules…sigh), and taking a bath.  Develop a bedtime routine for younger children and try to be consistent, even on the weekends.
  10. Establish a checklist near the door, if possible.  Ask some questions before leaving the house, or before breakfast:
    • Does anyone need lunch money?
    • Does anyone need money for a field trip?
    • Are lunches in backpacks?
    • Is homework where it is supposed to be?
  11. Establish good routines EARLY in the year.
    • Make sure everyone has enough time in the morning for everything that needs doing: getting dressed, eating, brushing teeth, and making sure everything is in backpacks.
    • Adjust after the first few days.  Get homework and supplies for the next day at night and put it in the backpack.
    • Lay out clothes, if necessary.
    • Get older children to help with younger ones, if possible – or to help with getting breakfast materials out and on the table.,
    • Keep bedtime at the same time as much as possible.
  12. A few extra tips:
    • Keep the school’s list of supplies that are needed each year.  If you maintain a file, it should help limit buying multiple items like calculators, rulers and so on that can carry over from one year to the next.
    • Make sure your child has a school planner.  Some schools are starting this process on their own; my son’s third grade class actually provided one.  If they don’t, start teaching your child to use one early.  There is a wide selection out there and many for different grade levels.
    • Some families use a checklist for each family member – morning checklist, homework or afternoon checklist, night checklist.
    • Consider using a hanging shoe organizer to keep scarves, gloves, water shoes, and other small things handy.
    • Organize your pantry and make sure you have supplies for easy meals.

School supplies

I will say that my circumstances – having a special needs child that gets into everything and pulls things off of the wall – changes the way I do things.  I have seen a LOT of ideas online for creating a communication center where put correspondence from the school that needs responses from parents or signatures, things that need to be paid, and the like.  I’ve seen suggestions for giant calenders on the wall, where you can put color-coded appointments for each family member.  All of those are great ideas, but unworkable for me, unfortunately.  At any rate, here are some suggested sites for good organizing ideas for families without the complications that our family faces:

Simplify101 – Back To School Organizing Tips

Babycenter – 12 Ideas for Back-To-School

 

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15 Father’s Day Gift Ideas – 2014 Edition

Older I get Smarter Dad GetsLast year, I tried to brainstorm gift ideas for father’s day.  My husband is NOT easy to buy for and I figured others are probably in the same boat.  That list and my list of gifts on a budget are two of my more popular posts, so I thought I would try this again last year (also, I had a request from a reader 🙂 .  Here are some updated ideas.

  1. A Father’s Day Weekend:  Take over the responsibilities around the house – for entire weekend.  For example, my husband let me sleep in both Saturday and Sunday on Mother’s Day weekend; normally, I sleep in Saturdays and he sleeps in Sundays.  If your husband normally takes out the trash, then take that over for the weekend.  If you are doing this for your father, then do things to make his life a little easier – take the car and put gas in it.  Cut the grass.
  2. Handmade “certificates”: good for “one day out without complaint,” “one day without taking out the trash,” “one day child-free,” “one day out with the guys – with no complaints,” and anything else you might think he’d enjoy.  Children could also make something along these lines –  with coupons for “one bedroom cleaning without complaint” and so forth.
  3. For the reader: handmade bookmarks, preferably by your child(ren).  Audiobooks are good for fathers that have a commute – even books for Kindles if they commute by train/light rail/bus or if they simply like to have things to read wherever they are! Other ideas:  a container with his favorite beverage, a snack, and a book (or gift certificate to a book store.)
  4. Dinner: with your little (or not so little) helpers, make his favorite dinner and have all of the family eat together.  Two years ago, I took my oldest with me and let him pick out things to make for dinner for Daddy; he did a very good job of picking out things that Daddy really enjoyed and I think it was good experience in thinking about others.
  5. Little every-day gifts:  Really listen when he talks.  If he has a bad day, step in without complaint and do the day-to-day things around the house that he normally takes care of and do it without complaint and without being asked.  Encourage him to spend some time with his friends.  Take pictures of him with the kids – frame his favorites.  Push him and the kids out the door with balls, rackets, etc. so they can play together.
  6. Touching: Write him a letter about how much you appreciate what he does as a father.  Have your kids write one too.
  7. Nuts: If he likes nuts, buy a big container of them and attach a handmade decoration that says “We’re Nuts About Daddy.”  Another idea:  take a peanut M&M bag (not the big bag) and put a string or rubber band around the middle to make it look like a bow-tie.  Then attach a note that says “To the best Daddy, from your little Peanut” (or peanuts…LOL).
  8. For a wife to give: go with him to do something that you don’t normally: monster truck rally, sports event, paintball, fishing, or learn to do something that he enjoys (like his hobby).
  9. Cute:  A bottle of soda with a tie and a note: For the Best Pop Ever, a container of Reese’s Pieces with a note -“We love you to pieces”.
    1. A Man’s Bouquet:  attach candy to his favorite pens/pencils and put in a cup of his favorite sports team or TV show.
    2. Make homemade ice cream cookies – using homemade cookies (his favorite of course), scoop out ice cream on to one and press the other on top.  Smooth over the sides and it is finished!
    3. Craft stores frequently have coffee mugs that children can put a drawing in; have the kids finish that and then fill with samples of coffee or his favorite candy.
  10. For the reader (2): have the kids make book marks, then laminate them (or use the laminating sheets you can get at an office supply store).  Another great idea:  scan your child’s artwork, shrink several down, and print out several in a row to create a memorable bookmark to laminate.  You can also use the scanned artwork to print miniatures out, put
  11. Picture:  Frame his favorite picture of the family in a beautiful frame – or have it professionally framed. You could also put a favorite quote about fathers or fatherhood in a frame – print it out yourself in a nice font.
  12. Super simple but from the heart:  write your father a letter and tell him what you love most, your favorite memories, and so on.  Have your children do this for your husband.
  13. Candy bars:  there are a lot of really cute printables out there that you can wrap around his favorite candy bar (“Million Dollar Dad”, “We’re Nuts over You” – over a Payday Bar, and more).
  14. Miscellaneous:  digital photo key chain (sometimes are found at drugstores relatively inexpensively),  cheese/sausage/cracker tray, his favorite beer, have a lawn service cut the grass for June.
  15. Shocking thought:  ask him what he would like MOST for father’s day…

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.  I’m looking for more ideas too!

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15 Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Now, I have to admit, this has taken some time and effort.  My husband, father of my two children, is not particularly easy to buy gifts for; he likes very specific types of games, very specific types of books, and very specific electronic items.  He doesn’t wear ties, doesn’t wear long sleeved shirts or sweaters, and doesn’t play golf.  This holiday almost always stumps me.  So, this year I thought I might brainstorm in advance and share what I come up with, in the hopes that it helps someone else out there with a similar problem.

  1. Sports gift basket: tickets to a game (obviously, has to be one that is currently playing…lol – like baseball), plus a shirt for his team, a hat, or something else team-oriented.  Sunscreen could be good, if the game will be outside during the day.
  2. Handmade “certificates”: good for “one day out without complaint,” “one day without taking out the trash,” “one day child-free,” “one day out with the guys – with no complaints,” and anything else you might think he’d enjoy.
  3. For the reader: handmade bookmarks, preferably by your child(ren).
  4. Also for the reader: a container with his favorite beverage, a snack, and a book (or gift certificate to a book store.)
  5. Dinner: with your little (or not so little) helpers, make his favorite dinner and have all of the family eat together.
  6. Little every-day gifts:  Really listen when he talks.  Take pictures of him with the kids – frame his favorites.  Push him and the kids out the door with balls, rackets, etc. so they can play together.
  7. Touching: Write him a letter about how much you appreciate what he does as a father.  Have your kids write one too.
  8. Nuts: If he likes nuts, buy a big container of them and attach a handmade decoration that says “We’re Nuts About Daddy.”
  9. For a wife to give: go with him to do something that you don’t normally: monster truck rally, sports event, paintball, fishing, or learn to do something that he enjoys (like his hobby).
  10. Cute:  A bottle of soda with a tie and a note: For the Best Pop Ever
  11. For the reader (2): have the kids make book marks, then laminate them (or use the laminating sheets you can get at an office supply store).
  12. Quotable: Find a touching quote about fatherhood, print in a nice font on nice paper and frame.
  13. Picture:  Frame his favorite picture of the family in a beautiful frame – or have it professionally framed.
  14. Brag book: make sure his wallet pictures or his brag book is updated – or replace it with something nice.
  15. Shocking thought:  ask him what he would like MOST for father’s day…

To be honest, I had hoped to have more ideas…but I didn’t allow myself enough time this year.  And I didn’t take into account that I would get sick just before needing to plan two birthday parties and Father’s Day.  Sigh.  At any rate, this list is a start.  If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.  I’m looking for more ideas too!

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October 2010 – Interesting or Useful Websites

Ok this month, I can’t say the sites are exactly USEFUL or exciting, but hey, they are thematic!  That counts for something, doesn’t it.  Actually, they do provide some interesting alternatives to common issues: sweets for children, for example.  And if you like history, I found some interesting history-related sites.  So…here are this month’s websites:

  • October Celebrations
    • National Arts & Humanities Month – the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the United States.  It was established in 1993, to encourage Americans to explore arts and humanities.  Here is President Obama’s Presidential Proclamation.
    • Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  The Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) is now a diverse partnership of “local, tribal, state and national domestic violence organizations and networks.”  They work toward collecting, developing, and distributing resources necessary to continue educating the public and working toward prevention of domestic violence. This website is such a wonderful source of information; they have a section for campaigns, about the network/partnership, materials that are available, video resources, and links.  Of course the provide a number for people in trouble to call – as well as a way to contact them.  Please take a look at this site – it may help you or someone you know.
    • Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  There are a lot of sites with helpful information on breast cancer.  One important thing to remember – that frequently gets overlooked – is that men can have breast cancer too.  Everyone needs to pay attention to this disease; the best way to fight it is to detect it early.  The National Breast Cancer site above is a wonderful source of information and there is a lot to learn.  For example, I had no idea there were so many different types of breast cancer.  There are FAQs, a list of myths, and a description of stages and types.  In addition, they have pages on ways to help, communities, and a blog.  There is also a newsletter.  Please go take a look – I bet you’ll learn something like I did.
  • Historic Events
    • Smithsonian Magazine has a wonderful section on This Month In History but the whole site is interesting.  You can spend quite a bit of time perusing it.   It has sections like:
      • History and Archaeology
      • People and Places
      • Science and Nature
      • Videos
      • Games and Puzzles
    • Another good site is BrainyHistory.  It lists events that took place on this day in history, birthdays, events by year and by month!  Apparently you can also add “Today in History” or “Today’s Birthdays” to your own site, but I couldn’t actually do that since I don’t have a site at this point!
    • On This Day is an interesting site as well.   It has Famous Birthdays, Today in History, Today in Music History, as well as many other sections that are pretty specific:
      • TV History
      • Middle East
      • World War II
      • U.S. Civil War
      • Sports sections
      • There is also a section for recommended books.
  • Halloween
    • Costume ideas
      • Costume Idea Zone.  This looks like an interesting site.  There are some cute ideas right on the home page and then there are different sections: unique costume ideas, couples, groups, traditional, and quick and easy. There is a section for advice and inspiration and tips.  I will say I got a pop-up as soon as checked out the site.
      • What better place to start than Halloween.com?  They have it all – forums, chat, screensavers, crafts, masks, stories, and so on.  This also includes cute last-minute ideas.  I really enjoyed checking this site out.  There is even a section on Halloween News.  Lots to see!
    • Traditions
      • A good site is Religious Tolerance.  Their page on Halloween traditions include Celtic traditions, traditions developed since then, origins of Christian holy days, traditions in numerous countries.
      • History.com has a good Halloween section as well.  There are videos, a photo gallery, and some interactive things.  There are links to related articles like pumpkin facts, and Halloween Around the World, as well as Haunted Historic Places.  The rest of the site is excellent as well, for history buffs.
    • Alternatives – Here are some links that I found for alternatives to Halloween for those who choose not to participate in Halloween:
      • Christian Alternatives.
      • Thrifty Fun has some interesting ideas, particularly if you want to do something a little more educational.  Their Halloween Alternatives article is here.  The rest of the site is interesting as well.  There seem to be tips, pets, requests for help, contests and more!
      • Here is an interesting article on alternatives to all the sweets for Halloween.
      • Modern Mom has an article on party favors that are less sugary or not candy.
      • Family Education has a short article on 10 alternatives to candy that I know my 5-year-old would love.  I will say that I got an advertisement every two pages or so, just as a heads-up to anyone who goes to check out the site.

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Helping Someone Who is Depressed

Some things to keep in mind if you know someone who is suffering from depression:

  1. First of all, this isn’t a case of the blues.  It isn’t a passing mood.  Clinical depression does have its ups and downs, but the person suffering won’t just “get over it.”
  2. Second of all, the person may push you away.  People who are depressed tend, involuntarily, to isolate themselves.  They tend to think that they are affecting people around them and to avoid that, they push people away.  Don’t take it personally and don’t let it affect your relationship!
  3. Third, this is a disease.

Now then, to help someone who is depressed, you may actually have to drag them kicking and screaming (NOT literally!) out of the house.  Reach out to them, get them out of the environment that they are trying to hide in.  This may not be what they think they want, but it is very, very good to get them out, away from the environment for a while.  Many people who are depressed tend to retreat from the world and isolate themselves.  Help them fight this tendency.   Go for a walk, go to dinner, go shopping, go to a park.  If they complain, be persistant but not unkind – recognize if they truly aren’t ready but keep coming back.

When you are helping someone who is depressed, it is VERY important to remember to take care of yourself as well.  Take time to do things you enjoy, to spend time with people who are NOT depressed, to do things unrelated to depression or the depressed person.  Get your rest.

Be there for the person.  If they just need an ear, listen to them and let them pour it out.  Avoid giving advice – just be supportive.  If  you’ve done some research about depression, share what you’ve learned and emphasize it is not their fault.

Try to remain upbeat and positive and be patient.

Spend some time together around animals: puppies, kittens, at the zoo, whatever.  Animals can help reach someone who is isolating themselves.

Know the warning signs of suicide – and DON’T be afraid to ask if they are considering it.  Do NOT ignore talk of suicide; take them to the emergency room or to a doctor immediately.

Ask what you can do to help.  Perhaps you can help get the kids to school, clean the house, cut the grass.  Does the car need to be inspected?

One other thing to remember:  don’t do too much for the person.  I know that sounds silly but people do also want to help themselves.  Don’t overdo the care!

Sources of Information

If You Know Someone Who’s Depressed

Depression.com – Help Someone You Love

Depression

WebMD: Supporting Someone Who Has Depression

About.com: Relationships and Depression

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52 Ways to Say I Love You

  1. Take the time to really listen to those closest to you.  Listen – don’t necessarily rush in to fix things;  sometimes people just need a friendly, attentive ear.
  2. If there is a chore the person really dislikes, take over doing it – permanently or for a set period of time.
  3. Cook a favorite meal.
  4. Leave love notes for your favorite person (people) to find throughout the day.
  5. If you have children, take a day to do things that they enjoy.  Do what they want to do: go to the park, the zoo, the library.  Make a special meal or allow them to chose what’s for dinner (or lunch or breakfast).
  6. Write a love letter to your spouse and describe all the things that you love about them.
  7. Write a thank you letter to your spouse’s parents, thanking them for sharing such a wonderful person with you.
  8. Be supportive – if someone you love is having a tough time, do what you can to make things easier.  Take an interest in their hobby and ask questions.  Run errands if it will lighten their burden.  Surprise them with a hot, home-cooked meal.
  9. Overlook faults!
  10. Cuddle together under a blanket while watching a movie.
  11. Take a weekend vacation at home – and really make it a vacation.  Discourage your partner to forget the chores for the duration of the vacation.
  12. Arrange a surprise weekend for your spouse – and arrange for grandparents to take the children.
  13. Make dinner reservations at their favorite place.
  14. Let him enjoy his favorite sports day – or let her enjoy hers – in peace!
  15. If she’s into musicals, watch “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound of Music,” “Funny Girl,” or other similar, romantic musicals with her.
  16. If he or she is not a car person, make sure the car is serviced for them.
  17. If she loves pens, buy her a nice fountain pen.
  18. For a gamer – if you aren’t one – ask friends which games would be good gifts.
  19. Admit it when someone you love is right.
  20. Get dinner from their favorite restaurant.
  21. Run a bath for your lover.
  22. Place chocolates on his or her pillow!
  23. If you love your partner, STOP trying to change them!
  24. Arrange for a weekend in a bed and breakfast, away from the buzz of everyday life.
  25. Hold hands.
  26. Take your partner – or your children – to lunch.
  27. For friend, find gifts that are really suited to their interests.  Take the time to go out of your way to do it.
  28. Change a bad habit that drives your partner crazy.
  29. Arrange a “midnight snack” by moonlight – wine, cheese, bread under the stars.
  30. Hire a maid, even if it is only a one-time thing.
  31. Hire a chef, even if it is only a one-time thing.
  32. Set up his or her tee time – voluntarily!
  33. Buy her a nice wrap – or something cozy – in the winter.
  34. Buy him tickets to a big sports event.
  35. Call in sick for them – and make sure they’ll have a peaceful day.
  36. For readers – buy them meaningful bookmarks, something that reflects their interests or something with a meaningful quote.
  37. Write a thank you card for your partner, or for your children or parents.
  38. For two weeks, spend one hour a night with your spouse.
  39. Learn to give a good massage.
  40. Learn to rub feet.
  41. For plant lovers, find an unusual plant that you know they would be interested in.
  42. Share funny things you find with friends.
  43. Reach out to those around you, in tough times as well as easy ones.
  44. Email, write letters, call people you don’t see often.
  45. Devote yourself to your spouse’s needs and/or wants for a night or a weekend.
  46. Rent a honeymoon suite for the weekend.
  47. Put “I love you” notes in your child’s lunch.
  48. Give yourself a weekend off.
  49. Stop the craziness of your life long enough to have family night once a week.
  50. Be kind.
  51. Empathize – put yourself in someone else’s shoes and respond appropriately to them.
  52. Try hard to be nonjudgemental for a week and see what happens!

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