20 date night in ideas

Happy Valentine's Day! In honor of this day of looooove, I've put together a fun list of date night IN ideas! My husband and I made a goal for 2014 that we were going to be more intentional about dating each other. We used to be really good at this and had "nonnegotiable date night", but after being pregnant and having babies for 3 straight years...that sorta stopped happening so often. We would go out when we could, and our focus slipped away from dating one another to surviving the everyday with our kids. During that season of our lives that's just what happened. It wasn't a bad season at all! But each season brings new things, and we are ready now to enter a season where we focus more on our marriage.

We can't afford to hire a babysitter every week, but dating each other is so important. A couple of years ago, "date night in" became one of our favorite things. We would put the babies to bed, cook dinner and spend some quality time together. But since our goal for this year was to have 52 UNQUIE date nights, this is where we have to get creative!

I'm always surprised how many people never think about the fact that they can date their spouse at home. Every time I post a picture on social media of our date nights in, I get so many comments about how they had never thought to do that! Let's fix that, shall we? Just because you can't afford to go out every week doesn't mean you can't enjoy time with your spouse every week!

datenightin

1) Fancy dinner Put the kids to bed, get all dressed up and cook a fancy dinner together. Enjoy it over candlelight.

2) Have a "slumber party". Make a pallet on the living room floor with lots of blankets, pillows. Get in your pjs, pop some popcorn and enjoy a classic movie you both love.

3) Recreate a special night from when you were dating. An old movie or a favorite meal you had. Maybe a favorite trip you took somewhere and recreate it at home!

4) Play a favorite board game. Twister is always a winner for date night in!

5) Have a coffee house night. Look up recipes for your favorite coffee creations and make your own! Enjoy a little coffee date!

6) Turn your bedroom into a fancy resort room. Light candles, play some soft music, remove all of the toys and distractions. Turn on some waves and imagine you are on the beach in a fancy hotel.

7) Plan a surprise night for each other. Take turns planning a special night in for the other person. Do all the things they love to do!

8) Make your dream vacation happen. Always dreamed of going to Paris? Bring Paris home! Decorate and eat food from the place you would most love to go.

9) Treat each other to a massage. Get out the oil, candles and music. Turn the lights down and enjoy a relaxing evening together!

10) Time for dessert! Bake something together from scratch and then eat it straight from the pan!

11) Have a picnic! If it's summer, take a monitor out in the backyard so you can hear the kids in case they wake up.  Lay out a blanket under the stars and just talk for hours.

12) Take a walk down memory lane. Watch home videos of each other from when you were kids. Pull out some old photo albums and tell each other childhood stories you don't know.

13) Laser Tag! Rent a laser tag suit and put the kids in bed and have fun!! See how long it takes before you wake up one of the munchkins!

14) Truth or Dare! No one is too old for a good game of truth or dare!

15) Have a friendly cooking competition. Separately go to the grocery store before your date night and get a bag of groceries for your spouse. Switch bags and race to create a dish for each other!

16) No clothes allowed. Really. That's it.

17) Climb in bed with your laptop and watch funny YouTube videos. There's nothing more fun with laughing until you cry with your best friend!

18) Get crafty! Have a DIY project you've been wanting to do? Work on it together!

19) Have a "theme night".  Choose a movie and choose food, decor and attire that goes along with it. Maybe you choose to watch Oceans 11, so set up a casino theme and dress up in your best Julia Roberts and George Clooney attire.

20) Make s'mores on a cool night. You can do this inside if it's too cold or outside if you have a fire pit! Enjoy the mess and the tasty kisses!

Have fun dating your spouse!!! What are some of your favorite date night in activities to add to the list?

you've lost that newlywed feeling

In the past year we've started to replace some things we got as wedding presents. Sheets, towels, bedspread, and random kitchen appliances. This struck a huge realization for me. You know the feeling. The newlywed phase is gone. You've been married long enough that the newness is gone. Not only are the "things" starting to get worn in but it's time to make the intentional choice about your marriage. thriveorsuffer

I'm choosing a marriage that not only thrives, but keeps that newlywed feeling. That feeling where you are overwhelmed with love when he glances your way. When you can't stand to be in the same room without touching one another. You crave the company of your spouse and you are seriously better when he's next to you.

So what practical steps can you take to make sure you keep that newlywed feeling alive? Here's what we are doing, and we would love you to join us!

newlywedfeeling

KIDS COME SECOND. This is tough, especially when they are little. They are needy little humans and your spouse can make their own pb&j. I always remind myself, the kids will be here for 18 years...he will be here for life. I watch too many families fall apart because the wife pours every ounce of energy into her kids and forgets about her man. The last thing I want to happen is to watch my husband feel neglected and go elsewhere to feel loved and appreciated. He comes before my kids. Not in a call DHS kind of way of course, but there's a healthy balance for that.

HAVE FUN. It's easy to get into a routine and get comfortable. What were the things you enjoyed doing before you were married and had kids? Maybe you're not 22 anymore and don't have the energy to go play paintball on a saturday morning, but do it anyway! Make a list of fun activities you want to do together this year and go do them!

HOLD HANDS. Flirt. Sneak into a corner for a mini make out sesh. And do other stuff too. Even if you need to put it in your busy schedule, go for it. Designate Friday nights as clothing optional nights. Get back to the honeymoon stage and it will rock your marriage. Yup, you get it.

COMMUNICATE. It doesn't take a marriage counselor with years of training to tell you this one. Communication is tough and communication is key. This is an area I really stink at. When things bother me, I would rather sit on it than bother him with what is going on in my hormonal girl head. If you don't talk, you will hurt no one but yourself. And if I've learned anything in 6 years of marriage, it's that men are clueless when it comes to understanding women. If we don't tell them, they won't know. Simple as that.

SAY THANK YOU. It's so important to respect one another and appreciate the things we each do for our family. He works hard to provide for our family. I work hard to try to remember to feed the kids three meals a day. Nothing beats a simple "thank you" every once and a while (or DAILY!).

SPEND SOME TIME APART. This one is tough for me because we are best friends and I always choose to spend time with him. Over the last year I've been more intentional about growing in community with my girlfriends, which means girls night out. I am pouring into my passions (blogging, designing, etc.) and spending time working. I'll go to blogging conferences and maybe even a trip away with my friends. Time away means something huge for me: I can't WAIT to get home to him. It helps me refresh my soul and break free of the routine that a marriage can settle into. Sometimes absence really DOES make the heart grow fonder!

52dates

Our challenge for our marriage this year: 52 unique date nights

We have set out in 2014 to make dating each other a priority. It's something in the past few years that have become all too easy to rush past and put last. We don't like to hire a babysitter (I have trust issues with leaving my kids, and he doesn't like to pay). Our oldest is almost 4 and we've NEVER hired a babysitter. Yes, that's right. Never. See, I have control issues. We are blessed to have family that loves to keep our kids, but that's not always easy to schedule either. This year, our date nights will be the first priority of our week, and I believe this will make a huge difference in our marriage.

It's not about fancy dates, it's about the time. Maybe a date night is just turning off the tv and playing scrabble together. Or sitting at the table with coffee and talking after the kids go to bed. It's more about creativity than anything.

I'm so excited to walk into this year of our marriage and see how God blesses our efforts to become newlyweds again!

What are you doing to see your marriage thrive this year? 

Join us and use the hashtag #52dates2014 to encourage one another to strengthen our marriages! 

 

this day

On this day, 4 years ago I changed my name.

I became a wife. I stood hand in hand with the man of my dreams and promised to love him forever. We had no idea what was ahead for us, but we walked into our future excited. We were together, and that was the best way to go through life. Together.

We didn't do a big fancy wedding, but it was perfect for us. We drove go-carts at our rehearsal dinner and laughed with our friends. We were surrounded by hundreds of people who love and support us.

It was the perfect celebration of our love.

Over the years we have learned how to love each other, and how to serve each other. We are learning every day how to do that better. I will serve this man and be his bride until the day that I die.

Brook, I love you with everything in me. It's a joy to be your wife. I've had the privilege of standing by your side through good times and bad, and will continue to be there through it all. Thank you for loving and cherishing me. I feel even more loved today than I did on that beautiful day. It's an honor to be your pride and joy. 

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All photos taken by Prints Charming Photography (an incredible photography team if you're in the OKC area and looking for a photographer!!)

how to not kill your husband {after having a baby}

They say the first year of marriage is hard, but "they" don't tell you much about the first year after having a baby. That's the year that will rock you. Next to marrying the love of your life, the greatest joy you will ever experience is having a child. Your heart completely explodes when that child is born and every bit of your energy and time goes into that tiny little person. So, what about your husband? Your marriage gets put on the back burner. That's just the way it is. Your husband is perfectly capable of making his own sandwich and washing his own clothes. But the baby? Not so much. They need you every second of the day. They 100% rely on you.

For the first year, you as the mama are the primary caregiver. Then Daddy becomes the primary fun giver.

Yes, you share responsibilities with your hubby to raise the child, but when they are teeny little humans...mama just knows best. We are born with parental instincts, while for the most part men kinda have to figure their way around a baby.

Here's my best shot at advice to help you survive that first year, and come out on the other side still over the moon for your man.

1. Give yourself some grace. You just had a baby. Even when 5 months has gone by, you still just had a baby. You can't compare yourself to those super moms you see on tv who walk out of the hospital in their size 2 designer jeans. That's just not normal. Remind yourself that this is a very short time in your life, go eat some ice cream and give yourself a big bear hug. Grace is the key.

2. Take your time. Ahem, in the bedroom that is. Just because you get the "all clear" from your doc at 6 weeks, doesn't mean you may be ready to jump in the sack. Seriously, take your time. It all changes after having that baby. Ease into what works for you, don't just rush it because the doctor says it's ok and you feel like you need to!

3. Talk it out. Are you struggling? Tell him. A lot of things change around your house after a baby and it's important to keep the lines of communication open and talk through things with each other. Figure out what you expect out of one another, and be open and honest!

4. Make a plan. Do you both work and plan to trade off night feedings? Do you expect him to put the baby in bed? Do you want him to help you with some housework or do the grocery shopping? Figure out way to help each other, and don't be afraid to ask him for some help! Make a plan, ask each other for help! Do it!

5. Go on a date. Or several actually. It's so easy to barely spend any time together away from baby. Your life becomes wrapped around this person, but you have to remember in 18 years they will be gone and you still need to like each other. Get all fancied up and go out to dinner. It's ok if you talk about baby all night, just talk! Enjoy each other! Hold hands and love each other. I promise a few hours alone will be a HUGE breath of fresh air after diapers, spit up and sleepless nights.

I promise I'm no expert on this subject, but I'm in the middle of doing it for the second time. I've learned a lot and failed a lot. My husband and I will come out on the other side still crazy about each other, because we will continue to work at it. I guarantee you that it's hard. Sometimes you'll just want to punch him right in the face for not understanding you...but remember he's a man and he's not going to understand you. Give him the opportunity to try and work at it every single day!

There's something about that moment on your child's first birthday, as they tear into their cake that you make eye contact with your other half and sigh a deep sigh and say "WE MADE IT!"

her love language is paper towels.

We all have a love language. We all know this, and most couples have read The Five Love Languages together. If you haven't, I suggest you do. Actually, I suggest the man reads it to learn how to best love his wife...and the woman just needs to give him some lovin'. Because come on, I guarantee you that 99.9% of men have "physical touch" as their #1 love language. Disagree? I didn't think so. The concept of this is fantastic. To learn to love a person based on the way they best feel loved. BRILLIANT. My husband knows I like gifts. Even the gift of cleaning up the house for me these days shows me tons of love. For him is physical touch. **shocking**

Sometimes it's the little things.

Sweet Tea is totally my love language. Yesterday hubs and I went for a drive and he said, how about we stop for a tea first? Ummmm, YES. I about pounced on him right there in the car. He knows the little things that make me happy and by him offering me something that I enjoy, I feel loved.

My daughter's love language: paper towels. Seriously, I could give this kid a roll of them and she would go to town. Content for hours. It's what makes her happy. It makes her cup full. As her mommy, I know the little things that make her happy.

Yes, children have love languages too. If you have several children, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that each of them feels loved in a different way.  My daughter is a quality time person. She's only 7 months old, but she likes the security of having mommy & daddy close. Sitting in the floor and playing with her for hours makes her so happy.

Are you loving your spouse and your children in the way that fits them individually? I encourage you to find out their love language. Because your blanket of "love" covering your family isn't enough. Make it specific and intentional.

What do you think your husband & kid's love languages are? Please share them here!