Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Things I've Learned After 5 Years of Date Night

Brad and I have had some kind of a date every week for the last 5 years. (Can you believe our 5 year anniversary is next week??) We’re pretty proud of that! In a spirit of full honesty, it hasn’t always been the perfect date. Some weeks were truly magical. Like a gondola ride on the lake while our gondolier sang romantic Italian arias. Some were a typical dinner date. Some were fun stay at home dates. But others were a last minute game after finally getting the girls to sleep. And still others were slightly forced, quick Netflix dates simply because it was Friday and we were “supposed” to have date night. While date night is more often awesome than not, it’s rarely perfect. But in the end, I’m always glad when we make it happen, make it a priority, and make it fun. 

Today, I’m thinking about some of the things that I’ve learned in these 5 years simply because we made date night a priority. 

A marriage is only as good as the time you put into it. 
Our marriage is at its best when we are making each other a priority. I can seriously see a difference in the way we communicate when we’ve made date night a priority from when we haven’t. 

Having a go to date for busy weeks when you haven’t had time to plan might make you “an old married couple,” but is there really anything wrong with that? 
I sometimes think about my Grandparents and their predictable weekends. They’d usually hit up a buffet and then watch TV together. Predictable. Sometimes Brad and I aren’t all that different. On busy weeks, we’ll likely grab some ice cream and play a game. Nothing wrong with an old standby. 

How you connect is more important than what you do. 
When we first got married, we planned more elaborate/involved dates. But with time and children, we’re usually more laid back about what we do. I care so much more that we get time to talk, catch up, and reconnect than I care about what we’re doing. I’d much rather grab some Chinese takeout and sit on the floor talking and laughing for an hour than I would spend that same hour in an escape the room where we don’t have any time to talk. Don’t get me wrong.... I love the more exciting, more elaborate date nights as well. But as time has gone on, I mainly just want time to actually talk and connect. 

Date night allows you to see your spouse in a different light. 
During the week, I’m in full mommy mode. And Brad is in full attorney mode. I’m spending magical days reading books, singing songs, and make believing. He’s spending stressful days researching and writing, making conference calls, and meeting clients. I’m worried about finding the laundry room floor and he’s worried about getting his project in on time. I’m rocking the pony tail and T-shirt. He’s sporting his slacks and dress shirts. I’m driving to swimming lessons and the grocery store. He’s commuting 40 minutes each day. But on Friday night, I’m a wife and he’s a husband. I put on a little blush and he wears those jeans I love. I {might} actually do my hair. He wears a little cologne. It’s different. We get to see each other for each other. 



So no matter where you are in life, I hope you’re making date night a priority. If finances are tight or if you can splurge every week, if time is short or you have hours on end together, if kids take your mental and physical energy or it’s still just the two of you, making date night a priority is worth every effort. What have you learned from dating your spouse? 


Monday, June 4, 2018

When Date Night Becomes A Chore

Things have been pretty silent around these parts for the last few months. Life has been in full swing. Brad’s work schedule shifts between totally manageable and totally insane busy. Mothering two little ones is my continued joy and I can truly say that I love it. I’ve thrown myself into it and it’s been busy and beautiful. Brad is serving with the youth at our church which takes him away on Wednesday evenings. I’m serving in the women’s organization which takes me away on Tuesday evenings and some Thursday evenings. We joke that we can’t survive without our calendars, but it’s actually mostly true. Who will be home with the girls on which days? What time can we squeeze in a quick family dinner each night? When is your big project due? Will you be home in time for a date on Friday, or should we move it to Saturday? I have an extra meeting next week—can you be home both nights? Who will pick up the dry cleaning? Can you pick up the grocery order on your way home tomorrow? When are we ever going to get that overdue oil change?? 

So unfortunately, having an intentional date night has just become one more item on my to-do list. I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I was absolutely still looking forward to date night, but then suddenly it was Friday and I realized we hadn’t planned anything and suddenly it became just one more thing to do. One more thing to put on the calendar. I wasn’t intentional. I wasn’t treating date night any differently than I was treating my Tuesday night meeting. A couple weeks ago, Brad mentioned that it had been quite awhile since we had gone on a legitimate date night out and told me he’d like to get a sitter for the weekend and make it happen. I instantly went into calendar mode. Did we have time? Could I bear to leave my girls? Couldn’t we just play another game after the girls went to bed? And then it hit me. I wasn’t treating date night as something special. I needed to refocus. 

So I was beyond excited when my friend Justine reached out to me and told me that she was going to do a second year of her Revive Date Night series. Because boy! Do I ever need to revive date night around here. I’m committing to doing three things to get out of my date night rut and make date night fun again. 

  1. Leave my watch (and mental calendar) at home. I am so guilty of turning date night into a planning meeting with my husband. I talk about how the girls are doing, any upcoming plans we need to coordinate, when Brad’s next work project is due, etc. And I check my watch about twenty times because I’m so worried about getting home to nurse the baby. But I’m going to leave my watch behind from now on. The baby is 7 months old. I generally get her down before I leave on a date. And if I don’t, she can go a four hour stretch or more without nursing. And if she can’t, I have milked pumped and in the freezer. I need to be present with my man. 
  2. Allow some spontaneity. I’ve become quite the planner in the last year. If Brad suggests something for date night that I hadn’t been planning on for days, I’m struggling to just go with it. (What about bedtime for the girls? What about getting a sitter? I don’t want to call my parents last minute and surely I’m not ready to leave the baby with the neighbor girl...) but I’m committing to letting myself be spontaneous. I’m going to be more flexible and go with the flow. I’m going to run to the soda shop for a favorite treat on a Thursday night. I’m going to dance in the kitchen. I’m going to go for an early morning walk and still hold hands even while pushing the girls in their strollers. Date night can be fun and exciting, even after kids! 
  3. Treat date night like it’s something special. My biggest commitment is to remember WHY we committed to a weekly date night when we got married. We didn’t do it to have a full calendar. We didn’t do it because it was a check list chore. We did it to reconnect. To keep the love alive. To step away from the daily grind for even just an hour or two and prioritize our marriage and our commitment to each other. So I’m going to treat date night like it’s something special. Even when it’s just a game night at home (because let’s be real... I’m still not ready to leave the baby all that often if ever), I’m going to make a big deal of it. I’m going to wear a little blush and put on a fresh shirt that doesn’t have baby drool down the front and sweet potato purée on the sleeve. I’m going to have a legitimate conversation that isn’t about schedules and deadlines. I’m going to treat it unlike any other day of the week. 
Date night after kids can be fun and exciting. It can give you the recharge on your relationship that you need after a week of diaper changes, grocery store tantrums, and never ending laundry. It can be the cherry on top of a week of laughter, books, hugs, cuddles, and giggles. Either way, it's so important to keep date night alive after kids. 


Does anyone else feel like Date Night became just a calendar item recently? What will you do to revive date night? Make sure to follow along with Justine as she posts new ideas to #ReviveDateNight on her new Instagram hub @revive.date.night





Tuesday, February 6, 2018

And Then We Were Four

Well, it's been almost three months since I've touched this little blog of mine... but I have good reason. I have been slowing down and enjoying the magic of ordinary days with my two little ones and it has been something truly special. My days are spent playing make believe, nursing a baby, reading books, cuddling, creating masterpieces that hang proudly on my fridge, and having tea parties. And I've loved every moment. We've just started to settle into a nice little routine and magically, both girls are taking an afternoon nap at *almost* the same time, so I have an hour or so of solo time. So I think it's about time that I updated the world on our little portion of it.


Adalynn Rose joined our family back in November and she has truly blessed our home. If you have been around for awhile (truthfully, is anyone even still here after a three month unannounced blogging break? Mom? Grandma? So the usual crowd ;) then you might remember that Kymri's birth story was quite eventful, relatively long, and even a bit painful. Well, this is about as opposite as could be, and I am truly grateful.

The day before Adalynn was born, I had finally painted the nursery. We were really behind on a number of things, mainly due to moving in to a new house just a few short months before welcoming our new little one. She was still 9 days from her due date, and I wasn't showing any signs of labor... so I was fully prepared to go over my due date. I had the entire week leading up to her due date all planned out. First, paint the nursery (actually did that), then hang the pictures and decorate, then make freezer meals, then write and schedule future blog posts... you get the idea. Well, baby girl had other plans.

The day that Addy was born, I woke up at 3am and (super embarrassed) couldn't tell if I had wet myself or if my water had broke. I tried to be as quiet as possible so as to not wake Brad, and because like I mentioned, I was pretty embarrassed thinking that I had wet myself. I got all cleaned up, but as I was just about to get back into bed, Brad woke up and asked if everything was okay. I sheepishly told him that I thought I had wet myself. Pregnancy problems. He sat right up in bed and said something like "you have never wet yourself, pregnant or not... are you sure your water didn't break?" I told him that I really couldn't tell for sure but that he had a valid point. After some googling, I was almost convinced that it was my water. This was around 3:45 or so. Finally at 4, I was convinced and Brad insisted I call my doctor. Dr Holmes answered right away. Apparently he hadn't been to sleep that night. I was his 4th phone call with broken water. Surely something was in the air that day! He asked if I was having any contractions. I wasn't. He told me to wait awhile before going in then because it would be a long day if not. We wanted to have the baby soonish after the water broke, but I was okay to wait awhile.

So I went and did 2 loads of laundry, cleaned up the nursery the rest of the way, threw the last minute things into my hospital bag, and when it was a bit later called my mom to give her the update. Somewhere in there, my water came gushing out the rest of the way and there was no longer any question that it was definitely the water.

By 11:00 I still wasn't having any contractions and I was getting a little antsy. I had a small bit of blood as well, so I called the doctor. He said I should probably head to the hospital and get on some pitocin. We took Kymri to my in-laws house, grabbed some lunch (who knew when I could eat again), and headed in.

It took ages to get through triage. They had to make certain that my water had broke. Once I was through there and in a labor and delivery room, it was about 1:30. I met my nurses, who I loved, got changed, and prepped for baby number 2. I knew that I didn't want an epidural right away so that I could progress (hopefully) a little quicker. I started a very low dose of pitocin and contractions started soon thereafter. With Kymri the cervix softener mixed with the pitocin sent me into some majorly uncomfortable contractions. But these weren't bad at all. I was mildly uncomfortable with each one, but nothing that I couldn't handle. Brad and I took a few walks, read, talked, and just enjoyed some time together.

By about 5:30 I was starting to really feel the contractions, and I felt pretty ready for the epidural. They checked me and I was dilated to a 5.5! hurray! So we called the anesthesiologist and got the epidural going. Let me tell you, that needle was the hardest part of the entire day! The epidural was in by about 6:00 and I was feeling amazing. I don't know what was different this time around... my first epidural was not nearly as effective. With my first, I could still feel the contractions and by the time it was time to deliver, I was really hurting. This time, I could feel a little pressure, so I still felt like I was aware and experiencing it, but there was no pain. Amazing!

Sadly, my nurse's shift was done right before I was ready to deliver. I sort of wish they had checked me right before she left because I think I may have been ready... but I wasn't really feeling like it was time, so it's okay. When they checked me at 7:15, I was surprised to see that I was at a 10 and ready to go! My doctor was already at the hospital (remember how I was the 4th broken water... well a 5th called right after me. He had a busy day), so he was in the room by 7:40. He prepped everything. I was feeling great. Brad was by my side through the whole thing and so supportive. It wasn't anything like our first where I was basically killing his hands as I pushed through intense pain. This time, I was calm and collected. Dr Holmes, Brad, and the nurse guided me through three pushes and our precious little one was in my arms at 7:54. Fast and easy and oh so perfect.


They placed her right on my chest and Brad and I talked to her telling her how much we loved her, how glad we were that she had joined us, and how happy she already made us. My heart swelled with love for her right away. My mom came into the room moments after Adalynn was placed on my chest and I was so glad to see her and have her there. Addy was absolutely perfect. She filled our hearts and we were instantly in love. When Brad held her, my heart swelled with love for him all over again, just like the first time he held Kymri.







The most precious moment was the next morning when Kymri got to come and meet her baby sister. She was so enchanted, holding her, kissing her, talking to her. And she has continued to be the best big sister I could have hoped for. Three months later, it's hard to remember life before Adalynn. This just seems to be the way things were meant to be. We are loving every moment and I'm looking forward to sharing glimpses into the magic with you.




Thank you Janel Morris Photography for the incredible pictures!

Monday, December 11, 2017

How to Run a Silent Auction for Charity: Jord Wood Watches

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Christmas season and everything about it. I especially love how giving and generous everyone seems to be at this time of year. Whether it be a gift for a loved one or a donation to a charity, people seem to be more giving and aware of the needs of others.

Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity of planning and executing a Masquerade Ball for Hurricane Relief. It was such a wonderful event and we were able to raise a lot of money while having a wonderful time. The bulk of the donation came from a super successful silent auction. I am so grateful for just how successful the auction was, and I wanted to share how we were able to pull it off while highlighting one of the items that was donated--Jord Wood Watches. Jord donated a watch to the silent auction in return for my honest review. As always, all opinions are my own. 

First, reach out to potential donors. I must have sent 100 emails in order to get about 20 items donated. Your email should be short and to the point while also explaining exactly where the money raised by the auction will be donated. Companies generally want to know where their donations are going. Also, partnering with an official nonprofit made all of the difference here because I was able to offer donors a tax deduction receipt. So the email should look something like this:

Kind greeting and compliment of the product.
Request for a donation. 
Explanation of where the funds raised will go. 
Offer to send a tax donation receipt. 

Some people will turn you down, some won't respond at all, but many will come back with such incredible donations that you will be blown away by just how generous people are. Jord was one of these donors. Jaci from Jord Wood Watches was so wonderful to work with! She donated a watch to the auction and sent me a number of amazing watches to choose from. I chose the Dover Koa and Black watch, valued at $295. It was definitely a hot item for the silent auction. Unlike many other wood watches, Jord uses super high quality wood, is splash proof, and is hand finished. I love that both the face and band are wood, rather than many wood watches that you see with only a wooden face. These watches are truly unique, one of a kind, and a cut above the rest. 

wood watch Jord wooden watches dover koa and black

The next step to a successful silent auction is to prepare the auction forms. It is important to include the name of the item with a brief description, the value of the item, a minimum bid, and a minimum increase. The minimum bid ensures that you will raise the funds you are hoping for and the minimum increase makes it so that you don't have people outbidding each other by 50 cents. It just makes the auction go smoother. Include a column where people can write their name, email address, and bid. 

Next, set up the auction to display each item with the forms and a pen next to each one. 

Then, make sure to announce the silent auction frequently during the event and let people know when there are 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and 1 minute remaining to place bids. For the Jord Watch, there were people hovering by the page to try to get the final bid. These watches are seriously gorgeous and people were so excited about the chance to win one. This was likely the hottest item at the auction and there were two bidders going back and forth in the last minutes in the hope of winning. So many people commented on how beautiful the watch was, what a perfect gift it would make, and how unique it was. I loved having such great items in the auction that people were talking about and excited over. 


Once the auction is closed, collect all of the auction forms immediately. Check that the final bidders followed the rules, and then announce the winners. 

Finally, collect payment and distribute the goods. Luckily, all of my winners were still at the event when I announced the winners and were able to pay at the event. If any of your winners had already left, you will need to email them to coordinate payment and pick up. I was glad that all of my winners were present, paid, and took their items at the event. But truthfully, it wouldn't have been a terrible thing to have to coordinate and pick up later. On a side note, I absolutely recommend being able to accept Credit Cards for payment. Had I only been able to take cash or check, I am certain that I wouldn't have had as many bidders as I did. Everyone but two winners paid with card. I suggest signing up with Square Up to be able to accept card payments right on your phone. Easy, safe, and so convenient for the bidders. 


After the event, make sure to send thank you notes to all of your donors. It's a nice touch and will help companies want to work with you again in the future. Truthfully, I am really late on mailing out my thank you cards. The day I had calendared to do so, my water broke and I headed to the hospital. But I did finally get them out, and I feel so much better about that! 

I am so grateful to Jord and my other donors for their generous contributions to my silent auction. And the most exciting news is that Jord has generously offered each of you a 25% off coupon for one of their incredible watches! You can download your coupon HERE. This is a great deal because they rarely discount their watches. You won't want to miss this chance to snag a beautiful watch at an incredible price. I have given two of their watches to Brad as gifts, and they are among the best gifts I've ever given him. I especially love that Jord now offers engraving on the back of these wood watches, which makes for an especially unique and sentimental gift. Make sure to grab and use your coupon code before it expires on December 19th so that your unique gift has time to arrive before Christmas. 


Wooden Wristwatch

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Embracing the Bump

"You must be just about ready to pop!"

"Are you super uncomfortable?"

"Wow, you are much bigger this time around."

Just some of the lovely things I hear from day to day at 38 weeks pregnant. And while yes, I am much bigger this time than last time, yes I am super uncomfortable, and yes, I sure to hope I am just about ready to pop... I usually don't want to hear these comments from strangers. Or even from loved ones. I think that a general rule should be to just tell pregnant ladies they look great. Or say nothing at all. Probably go with that one, based on the emotional state of pregnant ladies. 

But in the last two weeks, I have been able to embrace my bump more than I have in the past. I'm not sure exactly when it started to happen, but I know that I had been really down on myself. Truthfully, I have gained a. lot. more weight this time around than I did with my first pregnancy. Nothing was fitting correctly. I am so swollen and uncomfortable that I simply didn't want to do anything.  

But then one day, my amazing little girl came up and rubbed my belly and said "Mommy, you are so pretty. Your belly is so big and beautiful!" And I realized that even if I was feeling so huge and down, my little girl could see beyond that. She helped me realize that a bump can by beautiful. So I decided that I needed to stop lounging around in my jammies and start embracing that bump. Maybe if I dressed it up a little, I would feel a little more confident in my bump. And let me tell you, I am now a firm believer that every pregnant lady should have a dress or two that she can feel fully comfortable in. Good clothes really do make all of the difference. (I received some items from Grey Rose Boutique in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own). 


I think that one of my struggles with dressing myself during this pregnancy has been that I just don't like maternity clothes. They are either really cute but SUPER expensive or terribly ugly. There just aren't a ton of options for great maternity wear. That's why I was so happy when Amber from Gray Rose Boutique sent me some pieces that have been absolutely perfect. While they aren't maternity pieces, they are both high waisted, which work perfectly for a growing belly, without breaking the bank or screaming "maternity clothes." 


And can we please talk about this green stripe dress for a minute?


I have literally been living in it for the last couple of weeks. It is the most comfortable fabric! I feel like I'm wearing my pajamas without looking frumpy. It's light weight and flowy, which has been perfect in this terribly hot fall in the desert. Pregnancy is not for the faint of heart, and getting through an Arizona summer just to stay in the 90s during fall can make it hard for anyone to want to get up and get dressed in the morning. But this dress has made a huge difference.

Gray Rose Boutique has a ton of amazing options for all body types, pregnant or not. I've loved my dresses and I can't wait until after this pregnancy to try an amazing pair of joggers as well as a super cute T-Shirt. They seriously have such great pieces!



In all, I am so pleased with my experience with Gray Rose Boutique. I will definitely be shopping with her again, even post baby bump. I love finding clothes that make me feel comfortable and confident, even when I'm pregnant and large. Perhaps I can even see in myself the beauty that my perfect little daughter is so quick to see. I'm grateful for this amazing little girl who can see in me what I can't see in myself.


If you are part of My Wife Tribe on Facebook, make sure to keep an eye out for our GIVEAWAY featuring a date night outfit from Gray Rose Boutique


Monday, October 30, 2017

Dressing Up My Bump with La Belle Bump

Last week, I had the great pleasure of hosting a charity Masquerade Ball for hurricane relief efforts. It was such an amazing experience, and I'm looking forward to sharing all of the details with you. One of the things that I was most worried about was finding an appropriate dress for the occasion. It was a formal event, and my 37 week bump is seriously gigantic! I had no idea what I would wear, and I definitely didn't want to buy a dress that I would only wear for one night and never be able to wear again... you know, unless I just so happen to be super pregnant for another formal event sometime in the future. As the event got closer and closer I was seriously stressed out. And I had basically just settled on wearing one of my Sunday dresses and calling it good. But I was secretly (or not so secretly) pretty sad about it.

Which is why I was beyond excited to stumble upon La Belle Bump.
(La Belle sent me a dress rental for the event at no cost to me. All opinions are completely my own).


La Belle is one incredible option for pregnant ladies. They rent out clothes to dress the bump and have everything from casual wear to formal gowns. And the best part? You don't have to totally expend your budget on clothes that you will only wear for a few short months.

I really wish that I had discovered La Belle Bump sooner! They have a few different options for subscription box rentals, and I definitely would have used their services during my entire pregnancy. It was so difficult for me to justify purchasing maternity clothing... clothes that usually cost twice as much as regular clothes, are not nearly as cute, and that I will only wear for a few months. So my maternity wardrobe consisted of about 5 staple pieces that I could mix and match with a couple of different bottoms.


But La Belle Bump is seriously a game changer. They have the cutest clothes and personalize a box just for your needs! And when you are done, you just send the items back in a prepaid envelope. It's seriously the best solution to the maternity wardrobe problem.

And if the day-to-day question of what to wear wasn't hard enough, if you happen to have a formal event to attend while pregnant, it is almost impossible to find a cute and affordable maternity gown. Believe me, I looked. They were either suuuuper expensive, or super ugly. Or both! But La Belle has an incredible formal line of rentals to choose from. I found the perfect dress for my event, and La Belle was so much fun to work with. They had me fill out a style questionnaire and then sent me a few picture options to choose the gown that was just right for me. And I was SO happy with my choice. The gown was comfortable and classy. I felt beautiful, which is really difficult for me at this point so far along in my pregnancy.


This was the first date night in a long time that I was actually excited about what I was wearing!


The event was a big hit, and I felt like a million bucks thanks to La Belle Bump! And when it was over, I simply packed the dress back into a prepaid envelope and shipped it back to them. Easiest thing ever.


So for all of my lovely pregnant friends, I hope you'll check out La Belle Bump for some amazing maternity wardrobe options. You won't be sad that you did!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Couples Getaway Box

Brad and I are always looking for new and unique date ideas. It's always so much fun to try new things and switch things up a little. We're also big fans of little trips with just the two of us. With life as busy as it has been recently, both of those things have been a little more difficult than usual. It's tricky to plan new dates when time is limited, and it's most definitely hard to get away with a little one at home, another on the way, a new home to get in order, a new job with long hours, and the usual daily grind. That's why I was so excited about the idea of the Couples Getaway Box! 
(I received a free box in return for my honest review. As always, all opinions are my own). 
\
The Couple's Getaway Box is such a versatile subscription box! It is meant to either inspire an actual couple's getaway or create a great getaway inspired stay-at-home date night. Since jetting off to Florida was definitely not an option right now, we went for the latter and had one awesome stay-at-home date!


To start our date, we broke out the Conversation Starter cards that were included in the box. These were probably our favorite part of the box! It was as though we were actually on a road trip, talking about all sorts of things that we wouldn't usually talk about. I am a big fan of conversation starters, since they open up a whole world on topics that you just don't usually talk about. I think these were my favorite part of the box, because they got us away from talking about paint colors, health insurance, bills to pay, and appointments to keep. They helped us have an at-home getaway of sorts.


After our little "road trip," we enjoyed reading about each of the items featured in the box so that we could learn about different places we might have visited had we actually made the trip. This was even more fun than I would have guessed! It was like a virtual vacation! This box was centered on Key West, Florida and included a few great treats from the area. It was as though we had actually taken a trip and come back with some fun souvenirs. It was a blast to snack on the yummy key lime cookies and guava jam. And the bath bomb was one of the best smelling bombs I've ever had. Seriously so relaxing!


Overall, this made for one really fun date! It was a blast to do something different, pretend like we were having a romantic getaway, and forget about the day-to-day stresses in a way that only a vacation can. If you're interested in trying our own Couples Getaway Box, you can sign up HERE to receive bi-monthly boxes. Whether you are going to take an actual trip, or just need to shake up your usual date night routine, this is a great option for all couples!

If you are a member of My Wife Tribe (my Facebook group), make sure to watch tomorrow for a Giveaway for a chance to win a FREE Couples Getaway Box.

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