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My mom relayed that when they volunteer together, she gets to see my dad in a new light–he’s focusing on the needs of others and working in service of them.My parents have performed a gamut of volunteer activities over the decades–everything from building houses with Habitat for Humanity to serving Thanksgiving dinners at homeless shelters to fundraising for their church.

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Giving your time to your partner is a perfect way to demonstrate respect and compassion. Ask each other questions, be passionate about listening, and be fully present and engaged in the conversation.

Sounds majorly simple, but this is actually what I want to do this year. FW and I are so often dashing around “accomplishing” things that it’s rare for us to really sit down across from one another and engage in conversation that doesn’t necessarily have a purpose (like creating a Costco list or brainstorming techniques for teaching Frugal Hound how to do tricks). But now that we’re running a household and being parents, I find that the vast majority of our conversations are, necessarily, about logistics and planning.

While she might not have done that, she does have a massive collection of photo albums documenting their lives together (all organized by date and labeled! As a person who never even prints out a photo, I’m quite impressed by her photographic fortitude.

Now I really want to make such a memory book–I’m loving the idea of flipping through it with Mr.

FW in 20 years and remembering that one time when we lived in Cambridge, MA…

I’ll probably just type it up in a Google doc because I am the This was my sister’s wonderful tip as a way to squeeze in celebrating your relationship when you happen to be parenting three kids ( one dog), working, and taking care of chickens, grape vines, and sundry other garden/farm/house projects as she and her husband are.With no grand expectations of holidays, I’m thrilled by simple gestures and pleasures.In the vein of relishing the simple beauty of life, I polled my mom and sister for their musings on Valentine’s Day and on what makes a relationship special year after year.I happened to call my mom yesterday and she and my sister were in the car together, so they put me on speaker and I figured since I had the brain trust, I’d go ahead and ask for suggestions.But we had to cut the conversation short because my sister had to go teach a ballet class, my mom had to take my niece to horseback riding, and I had to take out Frugal Hound (which has become a serious feat with Babywoods in tow–I am positive we look ridiculous).hate is the rampant commercialization of these holidays.

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