Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Art of Staying In

I recently attended a bridal shower where our gifts were supposed to help the newlyweds in their new life together. I had a burst of creativity and bought them some items for a "Stay-In Date Night." It included a box of kettle corn, some gourmet cocoa, a great 2-player game (which I knew the groom was very fond of), and a card filled with instructions on how to keep dating your spouse without spending oodles of cash. I thought I'd share these thoughts with all of you, so you can also benefit, and so you can share your dating-on-the-cheap tips with me! So without further ado, here is my very piddly experience on "The Art of Staying In."

Anyone will tell you the wisdom of "continuing to date" after you're married. But dating is expensive! I feel Jon and I have a practical understanding of the art of staying in (this also cuts back in babysitter pay later on)

1. First of all, make an inventory of things you like to do together (or learn together) that can be done indoors. Nerf ball wars? Learning foreign languages? Puzzles? Then invest in some of those items. *Note: Although movies are nice, remember very little interaction is expected, so reserve these for the "my brain is fried but it's only 8 o'clock and I don't want to go to bed yet" nights.

It should be noted that the reason I specify "indoor activities" is because we have kids and can't leave the house unless they're along or we pay for a babysitter (which either ruins the whole "date" part or ruins the "cheap" part). If, however, you do not have kids, then your range of motion widens infinitely. Shoot for the moon, y'all.

2. Indulge a bit! Remember you'd be spending way more if you were going out. So maybe break open a bottle of cheap wine, or stock up on treats you wouldn't normally give into for these special occasions.

3. Two-player games. If you're a board gamer, make sure your games are suitable for TWO players. Jon and I started out with tons of games, but they were all party games. We have begun to invest in games that can be played with 2 or more gamers.

4. Dress up or Dress Down. There's no law that says just because you're not going out that you can't get dolled up! In fact it's kind of nice to slip into a summer dress in January and sit down for a good logic puzzle or game of Yahtzee! Conversely, the joy of staying in is you can be in your jammies and sip your cocoa in comfort.

5. Don't forget about the "spicy games." Nuff said!

I hope this is helpful those of you who are either newlyweds or more seasoned veterans in the marriage game. Dating your spouse IS important, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to do it :) Please share with me YOUR creative solutions to dating on the cheap!

P.S. Jon and I are so nerdy. Some of our staying-in projects include learning Uzbek, doing crosswords and other brainy puzzles, planning trips, any of a dozen different games, and (recently) creating our own World-opoly board. No, you do not have to be as nerdy as we.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Look Out World!

Our "Little Mister"

We are proud to announce that coming this fall, we'll be adding a little man to the family! We are definitely excited to have a little guy running around, off-setting some of the drama and estrogen that will be coursing through the family as the years progress. Yes, even I, who was afraid to ever have a boy, am excited to welcome a son into the family. You have to understand, we are not just having any boy. We are having a GILL boy.

For those of you who don't know, my husband is the oldest of three. Three boys. Three strong, charming, intelligent, handsome, witty, and adventurous kind of boys. Three wild, crazy, machete-throwing, blender-melting, garage-fire-starting, driveway-fire-starting, house-fire-starting, two-story-couch-jumping, two-miles-from-home-while-still-in-diapers-wandering kind of boys. So you can see where I might be a little anxious about beginning the next generation of "Gill boys." However, I have a few factors in my favor:

First, this boy has two older sisters who will tattle his naughty antics as fast as he can think of them, so there ain't nothin' that this guy is gonna get away with. Don't believe me? You must not have ever played with little girls. Second, HE IS HALF ME. While I do possess an adventurous nature, I also inhibit a great deal of caution and cause-and-effect rationale that may have been somehow erased from my husband's DNA. So our little boy has a 50/50 chance of inheriting a bit of think-before-you-act personality. (By the way, this trait can also be learned, so even if he doesn't inherit it, all is not lost. He will just come out of boyhood with double the scars and double the concussions).

Third, I am more confident in my mothering skills. While I am preparing for the differences in mothering girls vs. boys, I am not necessarily fretting about the same sort of things first-time-moms do. He may eat bugs, skin his knees, fall from a tree, lose a finger, fall face-first into the swimming pool - all before his first birthday and I'm probably not going to freak out too much. Maybe this is God's gift to me. Though I only have 4 years of parenthood under my belt, I've done a LOT of "on-the-job-failing" (I read that phrase in a book and I'm going to steal it) and have learned a lot from my mistakes. I'm fairly confident that my sweet two-girl buffer has readied me to raise a boy who grows into a God-fearing, risk-taking, compassion-giving, ever-learning kind of man. You know, a Gill man :)

P.S. Major kudos to my mother-in-law who was not given a sweet two-girl buffer. She's made of a sterner stuff I think :)