5 For Friday: Marriage Edition

These weeks of 2014 are whipping by!  Time for another 5 for Friday!  This week I am going to focus on my top five tips for keeping your relationship/marriage strong and on the right track.  I do not claim to be an expert.  After all, I’m coming up on my fourth wedding anniversary in June.  However, I have been in a relationship (I guess we were dating???) for 13+ years.  Yes, that’s right.  My now-Mr. “asked me out” when I was 16 and he was 15.  So crazy to think about!  I’m pretty sure no one except me thought we would get married someday especially way back then.  I had a master plan though, so I went to work on practicing writing my new name shortly after we started dating.  Good thing too!  It’s a long one!  So here are my top 5 tips!

{ONE}

Share some interest/hobbies but not all! – I see so many couples who morph into the same person.  Although everyone usually has a decent amount of self-love, we typically don’t want to marry/date ourselves.  I know myself annoys the crap out of me sometimes!  It is important for couples to have interests and/or hobbies that don’t directly relate to the partner.  However, do not create lives apart from each other.  DO NOT have tons of single friends whom you go out with WITHOUT your partner.  Danger, danger!  I’m more talking about ladies keeping up with their college best friends and visiting them (coming to see you, Miranda, I promise!), or gentlemen taking time out to golf or hunt (we know the Mr. understands this tip!).  A little time apart can be refreshing!  I truly think it is best if the Mr. and I are not crammed in a deer stand 24-7 during hunting season.  That is his time to decompress.  My time at the gym is my time.  I do like to work out with the Mr., but we truly don’t have the chance anymore.  Plus, I definitely wouldn’t make a habit of it.  I need that time to be alone in my thoughts and focus on me for just a bit.  

{TWO}

Say you’re sorry and mean it! – Now, this one took me quite a while to get straight.  Saying “I’m sorry” can be the two most powerful words in a marriage.  More than “I love you!”  Apologizing recognizes the hurt you’ve caused and tries to correct it.  Of course, your partner has to accept your apology, but it is ALWAYS a step in the right direction for reconciliation after a yucky “discussion.”  Even if I don’t 100% think I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.  I’m always truly sorry for the upset that fights and disagreements can cause.  I always feel better after I say it, and it speeds up the “let’s move on” process.  This leads to happy times ahead!   🙂

{THREE}

Communication – We are big on communication!  I’m sure the Mr. would be shocked to hear me saying this, but we are!  In high school, we talked at school and on the phone usually each night.  In college, he or I would call at 11 o’clock just about on the dot each night to talk for a half hour or so.  Since living together, we just get to talk all the time!  I tried to understand that the Mr. isn’t a phone chatter (he claims it makes his ears burn…hmmm…), but it is really so important to connect and talk – especially for women.  It might just be a recap of the day, a discussion of current events, or sharing funny/troubling stories about friends or family.  Talk talk talk!  In this tech age, I try to text him or call him sometime during the day.  This might seem like a little much to you, so I would do whatever feels right.  The important thing is that he or she is your go-to person to call when things are going down the tubes or when things are awesome or even when things are mundane.

{FOUR}

The lady leads the way. – Now, I know this is a little gender stereotypical…but I’ve definitely found this to be true.  If the lady of the house ins’t happy, then no one is!  I don’t want my mood or bad day at work to affect my home and those in it.  This bit of advice is to leave the other stuff at the front door.  This is a hard one for me and probably for most women.  I know I tend to just think on things and, as the phrase goes, beat a dead horse!  Doesn’t that just sound terrible?!?!  The point is that I can’t let things go.  When I don’t let things go (i.e. Holden had a rough day at daycare, I struggled working with a student, I felt inept at a meeting, or I missed my workout), I change the course of our whole evening/time together at home.  It’s just the way it is – the lady is the true captain of the feel of a home.  It’s important for me to set the stage by having the right attitude.  See!  I know these things, but I still struggle with them.  Fortunately, the Mr. is very understanding of my work-in-progress state.  

{FIVE}

Prayer – Another taboo one.  Well, I pray about my marriage.  I pray about my child.  I pray about my students.  I pray about my dog.  You name it, and I’m probably trying to write it down in prayer.  I truly believe that my marriage has gotten stronger since I got pregnant.  And guess what?  I started having a regular prayer life when I got pregnant.  How about those apples?  Try it out.  I don’t pray that the Mr. will buy me things or finally understands that all my opinions are right.  It’s more along the lines of asking for guidance and growth and understanding in our marriage.  Praying for both of us.  

Hope you enjoyed the humble tips from a relative newly wed who snapped up her Mr. way-back-when since he was such a dish.  🙂

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P.S. Check out Donna Good Photography here.  She is wonderful and located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  

Snowed In Yet Again!

Another chilly day means no snow melting around here!  We continue to keep ourselves busy with all sorts of stuff…no cleaning though!  I’m convinced that snow may just be the most messy stuff around.  I was thinking about waiting until the weekend aka snow starts to melt, not so many layers coming on and off, mucky feet coming inside to clean, and then I talked to my dad about the NEXT weather system that is coming through next week which may dump more snow on us!  Yikes!  Although it is still far out to make predictions, I’m thinking using the snow as an excuse not to clean may just not hold up much longer as it seems to be a permanent visitor around these parts.  

We started off the morning with a good breakfast, some TODAY show (talking about those poor people in Atlanta!), and a little card game.  Holden is a matching king, and he’s really getting the hang of this turn-taking.  Sidenote:  I had to restrain him to get him to understand taking turns when we first played a “game” together.  It was no game at first, believe me.  Before anyone panics, maybe I should have said bear hug him to pieces versus restrain, but facts are facts.  Then, we spent about an hour outside in the winter wonderland that is our backyard and neighborhood.  The sun felt wonderful, and it is so peaceful with not many cars on the road.  Holden even called out “Birds!” each time he would hear one go chirping by.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch together where Holden and I argued over who was going to hold the milk cup since he is working on learning how to drink out of a cup with no lid.  I won, but it was close!  We both enjoyed one of the delicious fruit pizzas cooked up yesterday as a trial run for his daycare birthday treat.  I’m thinking of sending them in just frosted with the healthy-ish topping (cream cheese, whipped topping, and a bit of powdered sugar) with diced fruit for the kids to decorate their own “pizza.”  Anywho, here are some pics of our day so far…  I’m using this precious nap time to work on H’s birthday plans and prep dinner.  We’re having a delicious pork recipe which basically means I’m going to marinate some pork and sauté with baked acorn squash.  Yummy!  I love winter squash so much more than the summer stuff!  There’s a plus to this season!

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Yes, I know the snow ramp looks a little scary.  We were super careful, and the Mr. carefully engineered it so that H would safely fall (if he did fall off his sled/boogie board) into the powdery snow.  He had a blast!  Unfortunately the boogie board is now only good for sledding! Happy snow fun!

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Snow Day Activities for a Toddler

Greetings from Snowland!

Mother Nature dumped 8-ish inches of powder on us last night.  Therefore, I’m happily typing from home while the little, busy guy is napping.  I confess that I absolutely adore being home with H in the summer (I’m a teacher!), but being home with him on snow days can get tricky.  The thing is he loves to go…go outside…go to the store…go to the beach…go to see family…just as long as he is going all is well in the world.  Favorite phrase right now is “I go in Daddy’s truck!”  Seriously, he just wants to go.  Snow days aren’t a good match for a toddler who likes to go.  Our current snow is too deep for him to even walk in.  Plus, the temps are so crazy low that he can’t really stay outside for too long.  So, what are we to do?  Watch countless hours of TV?  No, H is not a fan nor am I.  Play quietly in our room for hours on end?  No, not happening.  Lose our minds and run around like crazy people inside our house?  Maybe…but only after we’ve finished everything else on our “Snow Do” list.

Snow Do List:

read books

build a blanket tunnel (using coffee table and sofa)

play outside in small increments of time

go for a wagon walk

cook up something delicious (we’re making fruit pizzas later today- recipe here)

paint/color/something artsy

long bubble bath with various cups and kitchen tools to make it novel and fun

Youtube some Elmo videos – H’s favorite

Just a few ideas to stop the insanity.  Holden is a great little helper, so I also will have him “help” me put away clothes or even dust/vacuum.  He has his own feather duster that he likes to use.  Plus, he likes to hold the vacuum cleaner attachments.  I’m thinking some cleaning work is in our future if we’re off from school tomorrow too.  It is certainly looking that way!  Check out these snow days pics!

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Hope you’re able to enjoy your snow day at home (if you have one!).

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Easy Meal Planning with Your DIY Recipe Binder

We’re back into this weekday business, and I know that I personally find these busy days, Monday through Friday, to be the most challenging of the week by far.  To help ease the dinnertime rush, I always plan out my dinners.  I made a little menu frame which you can see here, and I write out all the entrees and sides with a dry erase marker that wipes right off at the end of the week.  Back before baby, I got the idea to consolidate my recipes collected over time from magazines, websites, and just plain old recipe cards.  I chose the binder method.  I got a nice 2 inch-ish binder that I’m pretty sure I recycled from college that was super durable.  Then, I got protective sheet covers (to go in binder), a three ring hole punch, and plenty of patience aka reality TV on in the background.  I sorted all my recipes into categories and started to assemble.  By the way, I’ve tried nearly every recipe in the binder.  As I try these recipes, I throw out the so-so or not good at all ones.  No sense keeping something that isn’t good.  I confess that I haven’t tried all the dessert recipes, but I have a whole bunch of those.  Besides, I feel sure that any containing chocolate are just fine, thank you very much!  Here’s what my handy dandy binder looks like…

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I definitely need to take some time to add new ones and refile used ones.  This is also handy as you can take it out of the binder when you’re cooking.  When I need to plan up some meals, I do check Pinterest, my favorite magazines, cookbooks I own, AND my recipe binder.  If I’m feeling less than inspired or pushed for time, I go to my binder first and just get it done.  Nothing beats knowing what dinner is at 5 o’clock on a Wednesday night.  Hope this helps any of you who are in need of life preserver when it comes to weeknight meals and meal planning.  Believe me, it’s worth the start up time to have a variety of recipes handy.  Bonus:  Make sure you have healthy meals in there!  Treats are okay, but healthy is best 90% of the time.  Happy eating!

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Just smack me already!

Well, it is the conclusion of another weekend.  I confess that I’m looking forward to being a work tomorrow to give my mind a focus on something besides the constant running theme of our home.  I confess that the Mr. and I are at a crossroad.  Do we put our home on the “market”?  Do we look at houses in this neighborhood or that neighborhood?  Do we move to another city?  What do we absolutely need in a home/a neighborhood?  What is our budget?  Is this REALLY our budget?  The questions just go on and on and on and on…  Like most women, I struggle to turn off the questions.  I’m running any ten given scenarios in my head at any time.  This weekend ramped up my questioning to an all time high!  I’m so blaming my recent I’m-a-teenager-again-with-terrible-acne bout on all these stress-causing questions.  I know that no matter what I’m going to be somewhere in a house with four walls, a roof, and the people plus dog who I love the most.  We will continue to enjoy full bellies and spending time together.  Sometimes, I really wish I could just smack all the questions right out of my head.  Hard.  Since that would just result in more issues, I’m going to share some of favorite blessings from this weekend.  Note:  The Mr. is not pictured, but he was totally the ringleader on the s’more making project.  He’s always full of good ideas and not nearly as many questions as me.

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Pictured Above:  S’more making and enjoying around the gas stove, a hearty breakfast, pink tulips purchased on our snow day, new running shoes purchased with a gift card (awesome, I tell you!), Holden being my sit-up motivation when Jillian Michaels was rocking my world through the 30 Day Shred DVD, Venison Burger cooked by the Mr. in a lettuce wrap->amazing!, Holden’s fascination/obsession with birthdays (makes me so excited for his 2nd one

As you can see, I have not one legitimate complaint.  I’m whiny by nature, but I like to think I’m working on that.  Here’s to a happy, less stressful week filled with more contentment than questions!

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5 for Friday

Good Saturday Morning!

This post is a bit late since I got busy with that whole concept of “work.”  We had two great days off which made for a grand total of 2 days spent working this week.  That was thanks in part to snow and in part to the MLK holiday.  The snow was so pretty (for a while), and little H loved playing in it (I was frozen in 5 minutes).  To be truthful, I’m really craving spring.  Bad.  I was evening pinteresting (is that a verb???) spring clothes, spring decor, spring anything last night.  What a wild Friday night, right?!?!?  Here is my winter-longing-for-spring-themed 5 for Friday.  Enjoy!

{ONE}

Pioneer Woman’s Hot Chocolate – I never grew up having hot cocoa.  It was always hot chocolate, and I was so excited to get Holden to try some.  This proved tricky since he hates hot/warm foods and drinks.  After several sessions of blowing on it plus the addition of a fun straw to our mug, I got him to try it.  Of course, he loved it!  How could he not?!?!?  His mom has a serious chocolate addiction.  Seriously, I get concerned sometimes.  Here is the link to the recipe we did.  We had the basic hot chocolate although I’m not too sure there’s anything “basic” about it.  Note:  I had 0 half and half, so I used some of H’s whole milk instead.  Beware!  This is rich stuff!

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{TWO}

Art time – Holden loves “coloring!”  I confess I don’t give him as many opportunities as I would like to get messy.  Sometimes, it seems there is just no time during the week to drag out the paint and such.  We did take time this past Tuesday to dot and swipe with paint.  I have used these Bingo markers from Dollar Tree for like 100 years, and I “thought” they were perfect for Holden.  He loves to dot the paint on, and there is easier for him to control than a paint brush.  However…I finally read the label which said nontoxic, but it also said keep away from children!  😦  Mom fail.  I’m on the look-out for replacement ones that are child friendly.  I confess these bingo markers have been in use for 7, count them 7 years, and still work.  Perhaps it is something scary inside them!  

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{THREE}

Tulips – Holden and I took a mini field trip on our last snow day.  Unfortunately, the main stop we were heading to as closed, but we did end up at Whole Foods.  Now, I hardly ever go here.  It is typically slammed pack full of people.  Not to mention, their prices are quite out of my food budget range.  When I do go, it’s almost like I’m on a tour at a museum.  Just to look.  We did end up picking up some organic popped popcorn which has been a nice treat since I never buy popcorn.  Did you know corn is the most genetically modified food on the planet?  I’ve had to resort to buying organic frozen corn and just trying to ignore the fact that most corn add-ins are GMO.  Anywho, this popcorn was NOT GMO corn.  Yay!  We also picked up some beautiful pink tulips.  They are currently very chilly but oh-so-pretty by my kitchen window.  

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Note:  This is obviously not my kitchen.  This picture was taken from the Whole Foods website.  Here is a link for taking care of your tulip beauties.  

{FOUR}

Swimsuit – Dreaming of warm weather is my number one daydreamin’ job.  I did a little looking on Victoria’s Secret on our snow days and found some cute (and on sale!) swimsuits.  There are my top three picks.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think.  

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Then, there is this one.  But which color…

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Here is the link to swim sales at VS.  

{FIVE}

Valentine’s Day – I have some V Day plans in the work to surprise the Mr. and the little one.  I also put up my Valentine’s Day decor and use an inexpensive frame to make a quick little-something to decorate a tabletop.  I recycled my pink garland used to decorate my sis-in-law’s shower and draped it over the curtain rod above our sliding glass doors.  Here’s the festive look at our house…

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I picked up the little grapevine 3 hearts from Goodwill for about $2.  What a find!

I’m planning a fun menu for the big day since we’ll be at home together with nice dinner out planned for the following evening.  This is what I’m thinking…

Breakfast 

  • Diced Strawberries
  • Cinnamon Buns (made heart-shaped, of course!)  See link here.

Dinner

  • Cauliflower Pizza Crust with toppin’s  (This is going to be interesting!  Link here. )   I may make one small one, and then do Bagel Bites-esque pizza for the Mr. and H in case they revolt against my cauliflower!
  • Salad with Cranberries
  • Dessert – I’m thinking something more decadent since we’re eating so healthy with our veggie pizza!  Chocolate Mousse!  Link here.  

Do you have any special plans for Valentine’s Day?  Any traditions?  

Have a wonderful weekend.

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How to Marry Your Political Opposite and Live to Tell the Tale

Happy Snow Day (again)!  We are off another day due to the weather, and I have to say that I’m really getting cabin fever.  I am so in need of getting out and about even if it means going extra slow and having to start my car about 30 minutes before we leave.  H and I are going to “try” to get to my local running store to deal with a shoe issue.  More on that later!  What’s really on my mind today is a ten second scene from a TV show that led to an hour or more long “discussion” between the Mr. and I regarding our political views.  There were attempts made at nice, adult-like conversation.  Then, (as these things tend to do) there was insult slinging and party generalizations made.  You would have thought the fate of the United States hung on who won made the best point.  This led me to turn to trusty Google to see if there are any good guidelines for marrying your political opposite.  My tips are…

  • avoid in-depth discussions of specific issues
  • give it ten minutes and then make a joke and move on
  • avoid name calling or blanket statements
  • respect your partner’s decisions and choices

As you can see, I broke all of these last night, and I’m pretty sure the Mr. did too.  Although, I’m not sure he would admit!  He admits nothing to me, the enemy (JK!).  Here’s other tips I found…

How to Keep Your Political Differences From Hurting Your Marriage

    • Bridge your differences by agreeing to disagree.
    • Stick to unbiased, provable facts.
    • Don’t ridicule one another’s opinions.
    • Allow your partner to have his/her own convictions.
    • Do not try subtle politicizing in your comments about budget planning or when you remind your spouse about needing to get gas in the car.
    • Remember to use your listening skills when discussing politics.
    • Remind yourselves that when talking politics, your friendship with your spouse is what is important 
    • Show respect for each other’s political views.
    • Don’t try to change your spouse’s opinions. Instead try to understand those opinions. You can understand something without agreeing with it.
    • Look for what the two of you have in common on the political issues.

See original article on About.com here.

I confess I do love my political opposite.  We are on the same page in so many ways and on so many issues.  Variety is the spice of life.  I guess politics is one of our spicy areas!  Plus, he is pretty cute to boot!

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