Category

Marriage

Family Health & Wellness Marriage Parenting Romance

A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT FOR A UNIQUE PERSON

February 3, 2018

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

My husband and I have been married for almost four years. For so long, we were that annoying couple that never fought and seemed to be in the honeymoon phase forever. This last year has been life-changing for the both of us. We recently had our first child, baby boy Axel, and it has been wonderful and also a lot of change.

I wrote a post a few months ago about how having a child impacted our marriage. I am happy to say that we have come a long way since then and we are starting to become a really great team. Before we had a child, we had stereotypical gender roles going on in our house and separate checking accounts – and it worked just fine. When you have a child, every aspect of your life changes so we had to reset the expectations and get on the same page. Communication is KEY!

Then Comes Baby…

Having a child has been life changing. It has helped us become better communicators and even stronger in our relationship. I was experiencing some signs of postpartum depression and anxiety and finally admitted I needed some help. I didn’t want to admit that – I wanted to be the super mom that my mom was and still is. Invincible, always going way above and beyond, making sure everyone was taken care of, just “Mamazing”. But I didn’t feel like that person. I felt very tired and anxious. I felt like I had this new never-ending to do list and when was I supposed to have time to just relax and enjoy some playtime with baby boy? I finally got the help I needed from my doctor and I was honest with my husband. I finally asked for more help and he was very receptive. He didn’t mind at all and it felt like I should have just asked him for more help sooner – so silly!

Today, all the baby responsibilities are shared. We divvy up bath time, washing bottles, changing diapers – all that good stuff. We play with baby Axel TOGETHER. For weeks we were doing almost a baton hand-off style of parenting. One of us would watch the baby and the other would scurry around trying to get chores done and then we would switch off. It was just not enjoyable and even though we live/commute/work together – I felt like I hardly spent any time with my husband. I missed him and he missed me – which made us argue, again – so silly. He felt more like my roommate then my husband. We have come to a point where we prioritize relaxing and playing with the baby together. This way, we can visit with each other, talk about our work day and laugh at all the silly new things Axel is doing! I know we will need to adapt once again if we add another baby to the mix, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it 😊

A Little Extra Effort Goes a Long Way…

I always heard people talk about how marriage and relationships can be hard and “take work”. My first few married years with Andrew felt so easy – almost too good to be true. I never knew what people meant by that until we had a child. It does take some “work” or extra effort to be intentional about showing your spouse you care. When I am so exhausted from working full time and my new 24/7 Mama gig, when do I have time to give my husband some much-needed affection?

I do a lot of the night shift stuff with the baby because it’s easier for me to just conviently nurse him. One night as I was crawling back into bed after I laid the baby back in the crib, my husband rolled over and put his hand on my back and said, “Good job Mama.” Such a simple thing but it meant the world to me. And I told him that the next day! I told him how good those simple words made me feel.

After we agreed that we were starting to feel more like roommates, I knew that I needed to change things otherwise we were going to be one of those couples that just lived separate lives in the same house. I started thinking of small ways of showing Andrew I cared for him. My list consisted of packing him good snacks and lunches for work, making him a hot breakfast every once in a while, rubbing his shoulders, and simply giving him a hug. Those little things make a huge difference. Once your spouse sees that even though you are tired, you are still putting forth effort – they want to reciprocate! I was also brainstorming of thoughtful gift ideas. Something that really showed him I was thinking of him. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I came up with!

The Things That Make My Husband Unique Are The Things I Appreciate Most

One thing that my husband and I love to do together is watch a good show or movie when baby goes to bed. It is a great way to wind down for the evening and we can usually find something good that we both want to watch. We recently watched the Netflix series, Atypical. It’s a great comedy about a young man with autism who is trying to make his way through life. He is high functioning (has a good tech job, does well in school and has a girlfriend). As I was watching the show, I couldn’t help but notice so many similarities between the main character and my husband. What gave me more goosebumps is when he gets a girlfriend who is bubbly, talkative and a bit quirky – just like me!

I never intended to bring it up but my husband turned to me during one of the episodes and said, “oh my gosh, do I have autism?!” He said it with a slight chuckle and I just chuckled back because I didn’t know enough about it to answer. Days after we finished the series I couldn’t stop thinking about it and started researching. I ended up finding a credible quiz online to help diagnose these traits in adults. He agreed to take it and scored within the range of strong signs of autistic traits or asperbergers. Here are some of the signs or traits that my husband shows from the autism spectrum:

  • OCD – very detailed and meticulous about maintenance/cleaning
  • Gifted – very smart! Can fix or solve most issues in such a creative way!
  • Fascinated by facts more so than people/feelings
  • Mild sensory issues with noise
  • Avoids social settings
  • VERY HONEST 😊

So, what does this mean for us? Not much because, in my opinion, there is nothing to “fix”. I view it more as something to be aware of and understand. Sure, there are times where my husband’s honesty can come across as rude to people that don’t know him but as far as our relationship goes – we’re going strong and we make a good team! It’s true – opposites attract! If anything, learning this about him has helped me to better understand how he operates and what I can do to be the best support for him.

My husband sometimes feels discouraged by these traits and his behavior. His OCD when it comes to cleaning and details sometimes even annoys him. He sometimes feels like most people don’t understand him or want to listen to him. He is smart ways of doing things and offers advice but people sometimes mistake this for being arrogant or condescending, even when he has the best intentions. There are times when he will make comments when I am cleaning something a certain way. His comments are honest advice but I explain to him how it can hurt my feelings at times. He has come a long way and I have told him that if he isn’t sure how somebody is going to take his comment or advice to just consider keeping it to himself.

These traits have impacted our relationship in many ways. I am spontaneous and easy-going. I can “go-with-the-flow” and make the best out of situations. Andrew needs to have a plan and know all the details. And when I say have a plan, I mean like – if we are going to go out to dinner, he wants to know about a week in advance, make a reservation (when it’s the least busy), look up where to park and the best route to get there. So with the two of us being so different in that regard, it has taken some compromising on both ends.

The only thing that bugs me about his traits are that he sometimes feels discouraged and like an outcast. It makes me sad when he asks, “is there something wrong with me? or when he says, “I hope our son is more like you.” I don’t want him to think that way. I want to live himself for who he is as much as I love him. If you are reading this and you know someone with similar traits, please share anything you know that can help! This is new territory for us and we are learning by research and meeting with a specialist. My ultimate goal is that Andrew accepts himself for who he is and is happy.

A Unique Gift for a Unique Person

So, of course, this Valentine’s day I needed to get something as unique as my unique, lumberjack husband. I got him this stunning, luxury watch (pictured below). This came in a beautiful wooden box that smelled like cedar. We also received oil and cloth with our box so that we can keep the watch looking nice! Andrew loves maintenance so that’s perfect! They had all kinds of different styles and woods to choose from. I wanted to make sure my husband LOVED it so I let him help pick it out before I ordered. Usually he is quick to make decisions like this but he had such a fun time browsing Jord’s variety. As I was helping him browse I realized that they also make gorgeous watches for women and I feel like Mama deserves one too! I might have to pick one out and treat myself. I have been eyeing up this Purpleheart beauty. 😊

As new parents, it is so nice to enjoy an accessory other than baby spitup and boogers! There was something about Andrew putting on the watch that made me go back to our dating days where we were so enamored with each other and always wanted to look nice for each other. This has inspired us to plan an upcoming date night and I requested that Andrew wear his new Jord watch and a splash of beard oil!

If you are tired parents or have been married for so long that you don’t “do Valentine’s day” anymore…well stop it because that’s lame! Keep the flame alive and invest in each other! Yes, it’s true that orchestrating a date night once you have kids takes extra work, but it is so important to continuously work on your relationship. Get your special someone a beautiful watch from Jord. They even do customized engraving, so you can make it extra special. Engravable watches make a perfect, thoughtful gift for any occasion.

Jord Watches – The Perfect Gift!

As I mentioned before, Jord has an enormous variety of personalized watches for both men and women. They have exotic woods to choose from such as purpleheart, bamboo, zebrawood and more! When you browse their website, you can chat with REAL humans who will help you with your shopping! They can help guide you to what you are looking for and what you need to decide before placing your order. How great is that kind of service? They also offer free shipping worldwide and they make it easy to get help with exchanges or repairs. Some companies make it SO hard to contact them for help, but they have a help tab right on their website and it is super user friendly! So, if you are browsing for unique men’s watches, look no further because Jord has you covered.

GIVEAWAY

Check out my giveaway where you could win $100 credit to Jord Watches! All entries will receive a special discount code.

I always love to learn a little more about how a company got started and what they are all about. I will leave you with this inspiring quote from their About page:

TELLING MORE THAN TIME

“The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time.”

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you love birds!

Wooden Wrist Watch

Marriage Parenting

UNPLUGGED: AN EVENING WITH NO ELECTRONICS

October 28, 2017

Shortly after I wrote the article about how having a child impacted our marriage, my husband and I had another quarrel. It was so silly I honestly have to take a minute to think back about what we were even arguing about.  It was a combination of me being over tired and over sensitive and him not fully thinking before speaking. We took some space from each and within a couple hours we were ready to talk. It’s much easier to discuss things when everything calms down. If you are in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to speak based on emotions and then you start to say things you really don’t mean.

After I had time to process alone, I calmly explained to him how his words made me feel. Baby Axel recently transitioned from the bassinet to his crib and he is now rolling over so I have had little sleep lately. Andrew apologized and explained himself. He was not trying to hurt my feelings, he was simply joking. I had no idea! I feel like I have been jumping to conclusions more lately.

The next day I thought about how we spend our evenings after work. It’s mostly made up of television, YouTube videos, blogging, scrolling apps on the phone – yikes. When are we spending quality time as a family? Yes, it’s relaxing to mindlessly scroll through Instagram but it’s easy to get lost in our electronics for hours. Yes, Andrew and I work together and sometimes commute together but it’s not like we get to spend quality time at work – we are working.

I took inventory and made a graph to visualize what we were spending our evenings doing. I did not count the time we are sleeping. This represents 5pm – 10pm on week nights. The electronics includes watching tv or time on lap top/tablet/phone.

I was a bit appalled by this visual. Did I really want to spend that much of my free time staring at a screen instead of my family? I am new to the blogging world and it is easy to get wrapped up in putting so much time into your blog (check out Why I prayed for my blog to fail). I know too much screen time is becoming a major problem today. I see friends or family out to dinner and they are sitting on their phones the entire time – what’s the point?! It seems like people put more of their worth into how many virtual friends or followers they have than their actual real-life friends.

I disabled my personal Facebook a few years ago and still don’t have one. I do have a business Facebook page where I share my posts. Some of my friends were kind of upset with me that I didn’t even tell them I was having a baby. I didn’t post anything about being pregnant on social media because to be honest I was scared and anxious about pregnant but also because I enjoy sharing that information face to face if possible (over the phone is the next best thing for me).

It’s not a bad thing if you announce this kind of information on your social media. I just have a different preference, that’s all. I do post pictures of baby Axel now because our families live a few hours away and they miss him so much!

So after reviewing the graph I made, I wanted to do something about it. I asked Andrew if he would be willing to have an electronic free evening. He thought it was odd but agreed to try it. So I laid down the rules.

The rules are:

  • No computers
  • No tablets
  • No phones
  • No Amazon Echo
  • No television

It is harder than it sounds my friends. Especially when you are so used to using electronics in your free time. I’ll admit that it was a little awkward at first and our house felt very quiet. The next morning, I woke up and felt the evening had been a HUGE success. I think Andrew would agree because he wanted to drive together to work and take me out for breakfast. What a nice surprise!

Here is what our evening consisted of:

  • Had dinner at our dining table for once (we usually eat separately on the couch in between holding baby)
  • TALKED – we shared stories from our day and talked about little house projects
  • Played with baby together – usually we are switching off taking care of baby but we played with him together and it was so fun. Andrew is so good at making him laugh.
  • Planned out how we could rearrange our living room to make more sense. Andrew made an awesome little blueprint with measurements and everything! (see image below)
  • Took the dog for a long walk
  • Mommy & Daddy time – baby Axel went to bed early and I so badly wanted to go to bed too but I stayed up and spent time with Andrew. It was just the two of us like old times and it was great!

Ironically, I am going to use an electronic as a metaphor to explain how I felt. You know when your phone or computer is all glitchy and freaking out and it just needs a restart and everything works fine again? That’s how the unplugged evening felt. I felt like it was a reboot for our marriage and was much needed. Who knew putting down the electronics for one evening would have such a positive impact?

We did this early in the week and I noticed a difference throughout the entire week. Andrew was doing all kinds of nice things for me without being asked. We were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. We even paid more attention to our Great Dane, Quinn. My favorite thing was how much we paid attention to each other. I wasn’t half listening to Andrew’s stories as I double tapped my favorite Insta pics and he wasn’t pausing his Youtube videos and looking mildly irritated as I spoke to him. We made eye contact and we were fully engaged in the conversations.

We aren’t going to do this every night but I think every once in a while it’s a good idea. Your evening will feel longer too, in a good way.

If you are going to try to get your family to do this, I would suggest the following:

  • Let them know ahead of time. Don’t just spring it on them last minute
  • Explain WHY. What is your intention of doing this?
  • Explain the guidelines. There may be exceptions like the kids need the computer for homework. As long as you are achieving the goal of more quality time.
  • If it works out, make it a regular thing!

Don’t give up if it doesn’t go exactly how you pictured it. It will take your family some time to adjust to this. When we started the evening unplugged Andrew said, “so are we just going to stare at each other all night?” Ugh, he has such a way with words sometimes 😊 It was weird at first but he did give it a chance and it had positive results beyond what I expected. So good luck to you and your unplugged challenge! Long live normal human interaction!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Blogging Faith Marriage Motherhood

WHY I PRAYED TO GOD FOR MY BLOG TO FAIL

October 21, 2017

I have put a TON of effort into launching my blog. I spent 60+ hours just researching before I even purchased my domain. So why on God’s green earth would I pray for God to let my blog fail?!

My prayer went a little something like this:

…Dear God, please help me on my blog journey. Please help me to find the right tools and meet the right people to grow my blog and inspire others.

Please let my blog FAIL if:

  • Let my blog fail if it starts to negatively impact my marriage or child
  • Let my blog fail if the money I could potentially make changes my character for the worse
  • Let my blog fail if I start to praise myself for my “success” instead of You

Amen.

Shortly after launching my blog, I listened to a sermon at church about how people strive to be GREAT in many aspects of life. People want to be great in school, work, sports, parenting…you name it. You’ve seen the mugs or T-shirts – “World’s Greatest Dad.” People strive for greatness! Now, in my opinion, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s awesome when people work hard and desire to be great at what they do! I am one of those people and I love working towards goals. But how we define success and how our successes can change us can be dangerous.

I am almost my first month into blogging and there have been days where I feel like I could explode with excitement with how things are moving forward. Some days I will receive approval emails from affiliates, positive comments/emails from followers with encouraging words and see my page views and earnings increasing! Sometimes, I feel I am running on so much adrenaline and excitement that I could stay up all night working on my blog. I recently realized that I was spending almost all of my free time working on it. I was accidentally ignoring my husband and missing my baby boy’s smiles. Ironically, I started this blog for baby Axel! Yet, I am spending so much spare time in the evening ignoring him! Yikes!

This type of stuff is exactly what I don’t want. Having goals and growing my blog is so fun but I don’t want to look back in a year and think of how much time I spent ignoring my family! I don’t want to be so distracted by blog stats that I am completely oblivious to my family’s needs. In the last week, I have made a conscious effort to check on my family before I start my blog sessions.

  • If baby Axel is awake – does he need milk? Diaper change? Can I play with him or walk him? Can I give him a bath?
  • If baby Axel is asleep – can I spend some quality time with my husband? Give him a shoulder rub or make him a snack?
  • Does our pup, Quinn, need a walk? Does she look neglected? Can I throw the tennis ball in the backyard for her or give her a belly scratch?
  • If the family is all doing well and doesn’t need Mama – then time for some blogging. Mama gets some time for herself, yay!

Balance is hard. At the end of the day, if I don’t have all the laundry done or I didn’t publish a new blog post – oh well. I work full time, I have a husband who needs me and a baby boy growing up way too fast. Fortunately, I switched my diet over to a more natural and organic one a couple years ago which gives me much more energy to get all my tasks done! One of my favorite quick, easy meals is a smoothie because it’s easy to toss in energy-boosting ingredients. I was nervous to try the below Super Greens powder but if I do a small scoop mixed in with some fruit, you can’t even taste all the greens. I have to hide the “greens” in my husband’s food because he is naughty about eating his veggies! 🙂

My husband knows that if at any time he feels neglected because of this new endeavor then I am taking a break or letting it go. I did the same thing when we opened our Etsy shop in 2015. I think this is how a lot of career-driven individuals push their family away without knowing it. Most people are driven to work hard for their families, yet they are neglecting them! One great thing we have found with our Etsy shop is that my husband and I get to work on it together! We love going to flea markets and antique shops and picking out interesting items. It’s quality time AND side hustling all in one! Check out my post on how our Etsy shop funds our hobbies. Lately, as I am sharing all the exciting blog news with my husband, we discovered that we can do some of that together as well! We both work in IT and are tech savvy so when I was sharing with him my web design vision, he helped me create it and it was fun! He also does woodworking on the side and asked if I could do a post with instructions and pictures of his next project. Um, YES! Of course I will!

I have seen money change people. I have seen material items impact relationships. Money and Greatness can ruin peoples’ lives. So, I want to be very careful on how I define success and where I attribute this “Greatness” to. I believe that God gave me the personality, education, relationships and parents that made me the person I am today. I like who God made me and where I am at today. Whether my side hustles make me lots of extra income each month or I just make back what I invested – I want my character to remain and remember who I attribute the greatness or success to, which is God.

Want to know how I earn money blogging? Check out my blog category for all my posts on how I started my blog, how I earn money and helpful tips. I share EVERYTHING. What’s in it for me? I could potentially make affiliate commissions on products and services I recommend at no extra cost to you but I share everything I learned about blogging because I found all of this information for FREE from other bloggers! Pay it forward, right? The world of blogging is full of encouragement and support. You will struggle if you try to do this all on your own!

My Affiliate Marketing portfolio currently consists of:

Amazon Associates

ShareASale

Cate & Chloe

Bluum

Tactical Dad

The Spoiled Mama

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Marriage Romance

5 REASONS TO DATE AN OLDER MAN

October 16, 2017

In my dating experience, I typically always dated guys my age. Some of my relationships were good, others not so much. There was a common pattern I was noticing in regard to maturity. At a young age, my parents told me it was important to date with the intentions of marriage. So if my relationship came to the point where I felt like I could not marry that person, I moved on.

At age 23 I was graduated from college, had a great corporate job and was feeling ready for those next steps to share my life with someone. I just needed that someone. Then I met Andrew.

Andrew is 7 years older than me. I remember wondering if that was too big of an age gap. I had never dated anyone that much older than me. I think his friends or brothers cracked a few jokes at him about how his girlfriend was so “young”. I remember flashing my little Grinch-like smirk and thinking about what their perception of me must have been. They didn’t know I was debt-free, paying my own bills and making a decent salary. They didn’t know how ready I was to be a wife and settle down. I felt pretty mature for my age at the time!

Here are the reasons I LOVED dating an older man:

  1. Experience – get your mind out of the gutter. I mean life experience. At age 31, he had already purchased and sold properties, knew a ton about home/auto maintenance and was also debt-free (once he sold his condo). He also helped me get my first credit card!
  2. A Man that knows what he wants – Finally! A man who also wanted to get married and settled down! He knew exactly what he wanted in a wife and said I was it! 😊
  3. Ready for babies – Once we got married we were able to talk about our future children. Since he was older, he was ready to start a family. We did take 3 years to strengthen our marriage and enjoy each other which was AWESOME. So glad we did this because having children definitely impacts your marriage.
  4. Established in his career – He was done with school and had a number of years in the IT world under his belt
  5. Awesome Movie Recommendations – This one is silly but seriously, I had never seen Star Wars and Andrew was shocked. We had a movie marathon and I couldn’t believe I had missed out for so long! WAAAAAAAAAGH – *Chewbacca’s voice* He also introduced me to a bunch of other classics (Back to the Future, The Goonies, etc.)

*Bonus Reason* Older men are more likely to have awesome beards. Well, maybe that’s not true but Andrew said he didn’t grow his beard until his mid twenties. I have seen him without a beard and it’s weird! He looks way younger. I like his older, sophisticated beard look 🙂 Did you know that beard oil is a thing? Andrew got one as a gift and then he bought two more! The Gentlemen’s beard oil below is unscented. Andrew also has one called “Dirt” (no joke, it smells like beets) and one called “Date Night” which I really like!

Andrew has beyond exceeded my expectations of what a good husband should be. I sometimes wish I would have met him sooner in life but timing is everything right? I believe we were brought together at the exact right time in our lives. I love his maturity when it comes to taking care of me, baby boy and our home. Not sure what I did to deserve this wonderful life.

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Baby Marriage Motherhood Parenting

DOES HAVING KIDS TAKE A TOLL ON YOUR MARRIAGE? HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED TO US

October 16, 2017

I’m starting to feel it. The tension in our marriage. The impact that others warned me about. I am writing this post for three reasons:

  1. I want to remember how I feel in this moment and give advice to my future self
  2. If my husband reads this post I want him to know my internal thoughts (sometimes it’s easier to articulate in writing than verbally)
  3. I hope to encourage others and help keep their marriage strong

My husband and I were married about 3 years before we had our first child. We are one of those adorable, annoying couples that never fight. Really, we didn’t fight. There were never any big disagreements, no raising voices and we never went to bed mad. I’m sure there were a couple times we irritated each other here and there but I can’t remember specifics. We even work together and often commute together. Don’t worry, this isn’t a post where I am bragging about how we are such a perfect couple. This is actually quite hard for me to share. Nobody likes to admit when they are wrong.

When sharing my fairytale marriage to others, they would tell me “Oh, just wait until you have kids.” That kind of scared me a little bit but I wanted children and I was determined to not let it impact my marriage. Here are the main things I noticed once we had a child:

  • Less alone time with your spouse – you know what I mean. After baby, you need time to heal and you are extremely tired. And of course, newborns are demanding!
  • Less patience – I can function pretty well on little sleep but when you go months with little to no sleep and all your energy is going into taking care of your baby, you don’t have much patience left for your husband
  • Date night? Don’t count on it. Our families live a few hours away so orchestrating a date night takes extra effort – we need to get better at this.
  • Decreased affection – My husband has literally walked up to me to give me a hug and I didn’t know what he was doing or what he wanted. He looks at me like a crazy person and explains that he is simply trying to hug me. My first thought is – but I don’t have time for that. Woof, what’s wrong with me.
  • Snapping at my spouse – I am so mad at myself for this. Things were going so well and on multiple occasions I have found myself raising my voice or getting irritated for no reason. I usually go buy Andrew a coffee drink and deliver it to his desk (we work together) because I feel so bad – he likes that 😊

Now, we love our new life with baby boy but I miss the old “us”. So, what can I do?

  • Prioritize together time – when baby goes down for a nap, all I want to do is tackle my chore list but I have been intentionally thinking about my husband. Baby nap time = us time
  • Work on having more patience – your spouse is there for you to make your life easier so remember that. Check out my recent post on how sometimes Mama needs a minute.
  • Ask for help – you have friends and family that are willing to help. Plan a date night and do it. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Take a second to hug your spouse – sounds easy right? But if you think of your crazy busy week, do you remember the last time you took a moment to give your spouse a hug and kiss?
  • Don’t take things out on your spouse. If you are feeling overwhelmed then communicate that.

Andrew and I had our set chores and everything just worked smoothly. When baby came along – I took on a lot. He took on more too but I wasn’t paying attention to that. I was paying attention to the constant night feedings, bath time, stocking the nursery with diapers, daycare drop-off/pick-up. It takes a lot for me to ask for help. I like taking on the world and pretending I’m super woman (probably get it from my mom). So when I asked Andrew for some help with baby the other day, I was shocked when he was resistant. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t ready to jump at the opportunity to take something off my plate. I instantly got defensive and started raising my voice.

As I began to shout, “It’s not a competition!” I HEARD the words I was saying. And I was silent. In that moment, I listened to my own advice. It’s not a competition. It’s not about who does more, whose tasks are more tedious or who is more tired. Because if you think of it that way, you will start to build up that ugly resentment that can quickly deteriorate a marriage. If I start thinking to myself that I do more because I am up feeding all night then it could lead me to also think that Andrew does less and is lazy. That is not the case. If I let those thoughts creep in, I could give Andrew a little glare the next time he is relaxing on the couch. How dare him sit there and relax while I only slept 4 hours.

  • PLEASE, be careful of your thoughts and communicate your feelings
  • Switch up tasks once in a while so you can genuinely appreciate each other’s efforts
  • Remember – YOU ARE ON THE SAME TEAM

New Mamas go through a lot. I get it. I’m there right now. But don’t forget this is a lot of change for new Daddy too. Check out my recent post 9 ways to encourage new dads. If you are looking for a fun gift for a dad, check out Tactical Dad. They have the below patches including “Dad on diaper duty”. They also have top quality dad packs which are basically military style diaper bags! A bag daddy will be proud to carry!

I am really not fond of reading books because I get easily distracted or my eyes get sleepy but back in the day I read the 5 Love Languages book. It’s about understanding how your partner feels most loved. My love language is quality time meaning I feel most loved when Andrew makes an effort to spend quality time with me. His love language is words of affirmation meaning he feels loved when I verbally acknowledge what I appreciate about him or what he does for me. It’s important to know how to make your spouse feel loved and appreciated!


So whether you are newlyweds, thinking of children or have been married with kids a long time – it’s not too late to patch things up and work on each other. Don’t let yourself have negative thoughts. Don’t think of it as a competition. Remember you are on the same team and CHEER EACH OTHER ON! Encourage each other, thank each other and love each other. That’s where it all started anyways right? Two people fell in love.

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Baby Home & Living Marriage Motherhood Parenting

MOM’S DAY OFF? IS THIS REALLY A THING?

October 16, 2017

Have you ever dreamt of a day where you could do whatever your heart desired, uninterrupted? I would like to begin by saying I absolutely adore my baby boy and husband, don’t get me wrong, but ever since getting pregnant and becoming a mom, I have daydreamed about the days where I could take a long shower and finish my coffee while it’s still warm. You know, the little things.

So recently I was thinking, can’t I have both? Can’t I have this amazing life with my family and also take some moments for myself again? The answer is YES and here is how I did it.

I took a day off work from my full time job in IT. I asked my husband if he could do the daycare drop off/pickup that day (I usually do it). I planned an entire day of things that I wanted to do and it was AMAZING. This is what my day looked like.

  • I slept in until 6:35 am, WOOHOO! Yes, that is sleeping in for me
  • I took a long shower and was able to wash my hair and even shave my legs – WIN
  • I made myself eggs toast and coffee and enjoyed it, uninterrupted
  • Did a whole bunch of chores – cleaning relaxes me (laundry, dishes, sweep, dust, etc.)
  • Got to snuggle with my pup! I feel like I have neglected Quinn since baby was born
  • Listened to Classical music on our Amazon Echo
  • Watched lots of FRIENDS (my husband gets sick of my re-runs haha)
  • Worked on my Etsy shop
  • Worked on my blog!
    • Wrote new posts
    • Created pins
    • Checked stats

Within the first hour I was having a blast but also ironically, missing my baby! I even asked my husband if he would take my jeep to work so I wouldn’t be tempted to go pick Axel up early haha (I can’t drive Andrew’s car since it’s stick shift). But Andrew didn’t want me to be stranded so the Jeep was home with me, tempting me all day.

The thing is, it is not selfish to need or want time to yourself. You are not selfish. You are not a bad mom. My only complaint about my own mom is that she didn’t prioritize herself, like, EVER. She has always put others’ needs before herself.

Taking time for yourself is healthy and good for your mental health. It actually helps you to be a better mom and spouse. My mom always worked AND was the homemaker so she was tired, a lot. Dad worked and was the “fun” one. Always making up games and playing with us. It was always such a special treat when mom had an ounce of energy left in her body to play with us! One of my fondest memories is when my dad and I went night crawler hunting. This is where you go out in the night to catch giant worms for fishing. That night, we invited mom to join us, assuming she would say no. But she said yes! It was so fun. My mom is always “extra” (as the young folks say these days) so she was diving on the ground for these crawlers and at one point she stood up with 4 giant crawlers in her hands. It was hilarious.

When my boy, Axel, is grown he is not going to think back and say, “wow, mom always took care of the dust in the house” or “I’m glad mom always pulled the weeds”. He is going to remember how I was patient with him or how I took a break from cleaning and helped him with a school project. Now, my little day off extravaganza isn’t going to be a regular thing but I now have more clarity and will be able to know when to ask for help and when Mama needs a minute.

So whether you have one baby, multiple babies or you are a dog mom, treat yourself because you work hard and you deserve it. Looking to treat yourself or give a gift to another hard-working Mama? Check out The Spoiled Mama. They have a ton of safe & organic beauty products like sugar scrubs, nipple cream, body wash, stretch mark oil and more! When you take care of yourself, you have more energy to enjoy life’s precious moments.

 

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Baby Marriage Parenting

5 THINGS YOU NEVER SAY TO A PREGNANT WOMAN

October 12, 2017

When I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with the amount of “advice” people were giving me. I did ask a lot of questions because this was my first child and I wanted to prepare myself for what was to come. During the course of my pregnancy, there are a few things that people said that really stuck with me (some of them came from my husband!).

So to anyone and everyone who is planning on chatting with a pregnant lady any time soon, here’s what to avoid:

  1. “Maybe you are so tired because you are sleeping too much My dear husband actually said this to me during my first trimester. I had an overall rough pregnancy but the first trimester was definitely the worst. I remember barely having energy to drag myself out of bed and go to work. I didn’t really show my baby bump until closer to six months so maybe in his mind he was seeing a lot of physical change even though there WAS a lot going on! I was going to bed around 8pm almost every night and napping during the weekends which is so not like me. I didn’t hold it against him, he meant well.
  2. “When are you due?!” I didn’t mind this question at all. I sure did get it a lot. But be careful to ask this unless you are certain the woman is pregnant! How awful would you feel if you asked this and they weren’t pregnant?! Awkward.
  3. “My labor was horrible…” Followed by some horror-film details. To be fair, I did ask plenty of women how their labor went. I was scared and wanted to know exactly what to expect. Some of the stories got very graphic and freaked me out a bit! Don’t share your story unless they ask and maybe leave out some of the graphics.
  4. “I had the most delicious donut the other day…” Oh my Lord. Don’t talk to me about delicious food unless you have some for me. I turned into a craving monster when I was pregnant. When people would talk about delicious foods that I didn’t get to enjoy in that moment, it made me crazy!
  5. “When are you having that baby?!” I got this so many times in my third trimester. Especially when friends and family know your due date. If you have had a baby you know exactly what I am talking about when I say I just wanted that baby out so badly. Every day the anxiety builds as your due date approaches, especially for new Mamas. You don’t want to be reminded every day that you are STILL PREGNANT. Fortunately for me, I had baby boy on his due date. To all the Mamas out there who were overdue – my condolences.

By the way, if you are pregnant and sleeping a lot, DON’T FEEL BAD! Enjoy that sleep. Sleep all you want. Once I got to my third trimester, I had such bad heartburn. (Yes, my baby had lots of hair which some believe is correlated to heartburn). My heartburn was the worst at night and it was so hard to get comfortable because I was so big! I highly recommend a pregnancy body pillow – check out the Leacho Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow. And of course, once baby is born, you won’t sleep well for quite some time. I’ve been a Mombie (mom zombie) for 4 months now. My baby was nocturnal his first few weeks but I was able to break those nocturnal habits!

There are plenty of things you should steer clear of when chatting with a pregnant woman so just be careful and think before you talk! My personality is social and chatty so I didn’t mind a lot of the conversations but not every person is like me so try to be respectful!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Finance Marriage

WHY MY SPOUSE AND I HAVE SEPARATE CHECKING ACCOUNTS AND IT WORKS!

October 1, 2017

My husband and I have been married for about three years now. Before we met we both had lived independently for years. I was 24 and he was 31 at the time. We were used to living on our own and paying our own bills. We were both very independent people and proud of it. When we got married we just never took the next step to join our accounts. We had many discussions about finances prior to getting married. We shared our debts, spending and saving habits, and annual salary with each other. There were no secrets.

Shortly after we were married, we had a brief conversation about joining our accounts. We didn’t really see the point of it because we both liked what we had and we divided up the bills pretty evenly. We have always made almost the same amount of money so dividing bills up down the middle is basically what we did.

Funny side story: ONE DAY after we were married, Andrew told me he had bought another car. I laughed because I thought he was joking. It was not a joke. We got married a few hours away in our hometown so I drove back to our new home by myself! How could I be mad at him the day after we got married haha – it was just too soon. I couldn’t be too upset because he bought it from his dad for just a few hundred bucks because he wanted a commuter car that could handle some wear and tear. This did stir up a conversation about how even though we have “separate money” it is important now that we share these types of purchases with each other – especially a car!

We created a couple of guidelines after that conversation:

  1. If it was more than $400, let’s discuss
  2. If it is something that will require insurance or some monthly/ongoing payment, let’s discuss

For the three years we have been married we have had separate bills, separate checking and savings, and separate credit cards. There are still no secrets and it still works for us. We both know each other’s passwords to our bank accounts (not that I have ever gone in to check on his). It is nice to feel that he trusts me enough with his passwords and vice versa.

Some people think we are crazy. Some people think it is even border line “unhealthy” for the relationship. It just works for us and I am not telling any couple to switch to this. I’m definitely not trying to convince you this is the best way. It’s just something non-traditional that we do and I thought I would share why.

Below is how we divide up the bills. If there is a bill on both of our lists it’s because we share it. We have our checking accounts through the same bank so we can easily transfer money over to each other which is convenient.

One of the top reasons why married couples argue is finances. I don’t think the magic trick is whether or not you have your finances combined or not. I think it is a matter of excellent communication and expectations set up front. If you have lots of debt, you need to share that with your partner. If you have a shopping or gambling habit that has got you in trouble in the past, share that with them so they can help hold you accountable.

We recently had our first child which can definitely shake up a marriage (check out this post on how kids impact marriage). Things that were one working great for us have had to be adjusted. So far so good. We have had lots of great communication which helps a lot. We used to have very stereotypical gender roles on our home and it was smooth sailing. Now, with the demands of a baby, that sometimes changes.

Here are a few common questions we get when people find out we have separate money:

  • What do you do with your tax return?
    • We split it down the middle! We don’t look at our individual income for the year or who got more tax breaks (school, etc). We simply split it down the middle and we usually both save our half. Boring I know.
  • Who pays when you go out to dinner?
    • We mix it up and don’t keep tabs. We don’t go out to eat too often but we do try to take turns.
  • What happens when an unexpected bill arises?
    • We usually split that in half as well. We did just have to get a new washer and dryer since our old set broke down. Andrew bought the new set since I was a little tight on money from being on maternity leave for 12 weeks. When the next big surprise bill comes, I’ll take it.

Now, I will leave you with my favorite benefits of having separate accounts from my husband:

  1. Giving gifts is so much fun! There is an element of surprise since it is so much extra work to go into his bank statements and try to see what he bought me for my birthday or Christmas.
  2. I still have a sense of independence which makes me feel confident. I don’t ever plan on getting divorced (who does) and I pray that never happens but if anything ever happened to my husband then at least I know I could support my family and have a good grasp on finances in general.
  3. COMPETITION! It’s a fun game to see who can save the most money in a year or who earned the most cash back bonus. It’s a silly thing we do but it’s fun!

One of my favorite financial Gurus is Dave Ramsey. His book, Total Money Makeover, helped me to be a better saver, a smarter spender and played a part in helping me graduate debt-free! I told Andrew all about this financial mindset while we were dating and he was all for it. The only tip we don’t follow is using cash envelopes to help with our budget. My favorite part of the book is the stories from families who were thousands of dollars in debt and they became debt free (including mortgage)!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Hobbies Home & Living Marriage

HOW TO ADD CHARACTER TO A NEW HOME

September 30, 2017

When my husband and I started house hunting for our first home, he had very specific taste. He had owned properties before and this was my first time buying a home so I took his lead. He enjoyed modern day conveniences and new construction but had a great appreciation for antiques.

We bought our first home together in 2014. It was brand new and we were the first owners, yay! I had been apartment living for a few years up until that point so I was overwhelmed with all the new space I had. I didn’t really have a ton of décor and all my furniture was mismatched and worn.

Fortunately, my husband had some amazing ideas. He is such a visionary and planner. His idea of furnishing our new home was to use graph paper and plan out every room to maximize space and bring character to our home. At first, I thought it was a little much but he had the right idea!

His first amazing idea was to create a tv stand out of an old door and crates. I can’t count how many times he tried explaining his vision to me and I just could not picture it. Finally, we went out to flea markets and antique shops to search for some pieces. It was so fun! With his vision and my haggling skills, we got all the pieces we needed for his design for around $150 and it was a blast.

Then came the fun part. Andrew brought his vision to life! Finally, I saw what he had been describing to me for weeks. After some significant rearranging, he finally drilled the pieces together. It was the most charming tv stand I had ever seen! The way we arranged the crates was practical too, because we had some storage space! As you can see, the stand is made up of different antique crates and an old door from an estate sale!

Our other great finds and projects include:

This book shelf we made for less than $20.  Andrew and I made the bookshelf shown below. We bought three smaller book shelves from an old local bookstore that went out of business. We painted them a light green and drilled them together. The back of the shelf is made from vintage farmhouse shutters that we got at a flea market. It’s also fun to shop for little vintage knick knacks and use them as décor around the house! Some of our favorites include vintage globes, fans, matchpacks, cigar boxes and license plates.

This amazing 100-year-old, mahogany airplane propeller. We didn’t do anything to it other than clean it and hang it. I got this for Andrew’s birthday last year and he was SPEECHLESS. When we were dating he had told me he always wanted a wooden propeller. I remembered it because I thought it was so random! I got in contact with a guy who lived about 10 miles from us who was willing to sell this piece. The guy had a hard time letting it go and shared with me that he got this from his great grandfather. I told him I would take good care of it and even sent him a picture of it proudly hanging on our wall. This thing is HEAVY! It was quite the task to bring it in our house and hide it on Andrew!

 

These spooky industrial pipe lamps! I say spooky because they have this dim glow that’s a hue of orange, perfect for Halloween! Andrew made these himself. We do custom orders on our Etsy shop so if you like these, please reach out to us for a quote!

Pictured below is a dining table that Andrew built from scratch, no kit! He used mostly pallet wood so it was super cheap to build. The chairs are the cheapest wood set from Ikea that we painted different tones of green.

My favorite part of giving tours of our home is pointing out all the pieces Andrew built, designed or dreamed of and remembering all the quality time we spent together making them happen! Some we did for super cheap, others were a little more expensive but it just makes our home so much more cozy and unique! Message me with any questions. Thanks for reading!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Etsy Finance Hobbies Marriage

HOW OUR ETSY SHOP FUNDS OUR HOBBIES

September 30, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

When I opened my Etsy shop in 2015, I didn’t expect to become rich or have hundreds of sales a month. I was actually in my second year of grad school, working full time and a newlywed so I didn’t have too much extra time to invest in my business. I decided that as long as my Etsy stuff didn’t take too much time away from my husband, I would allow it to be part of my life. The great thing about an Etsy shop is that there is not a big initial start-up cost at all depending on what you’re selling so you can invest as much or as little time as you want. I decided to incorporate our shared hobbies into earning money on Etsy.

My husband and I love to go to flea markets, antique shops and yard sales and find one of a kind items. We loved it so much that we bought too many items and our house quickly became cluttered! We started posting these items on Etsy and some of them sold quickly. Sometimes it was even sad to see a cool piece go! But it was a good feeling to know that it was going to bring joy to someone else. I love when people message me with a note or picture on Etsy about how much they love their new item. At one point, we had a listing for a vintage medical bag and a couple out East bought it for their son who was graduating from med school – so cool! We made a rule that we would only buy items that we loved and we wanted to display in our house. That way, if it didn’t sell, we weren’t stuck with some item that we didn’t really want. We also agreed that we wouldn’t buy too many of one specific item. We got really excited about buying vintage cigar boxes and license plates but we got to a point where we had too many so we stopped.

The coolest thing about shopping for these items was that sometimes we were lucky enough to hear the stories of where the items had been or what they meant to someone. One older couple gave us an antique at no cost because they loved the appreciation we had for the history behind it. We probably talked with them for over an hour about their collection.

We also listed several handmade items. At one point my husband was getting several custom orders at once which was exciting. I would work with the client to get the dimensions and design figured out and talk price. My husband would do all the handy work of sometimes designing from scratch and building beautiful custom pieces. Some of his best work included a storage bench, dining tables, and a wine cabinet. Unfortunately, we had to start turning away business because we do have full time jobs in IT. People told us we should do Etsy full time but Andrew and I agreed that it’s better to keep it as a hobby.

So, we didn’t make millions or anything from our Etsy shop but we were able to buy some nice woodworking equipment for my husband and some awesome craft supplies for me! Of course, we also use some of the money to go out hunting for antiques! We usually make about 5-10 sales a month which is a great pace for us.

Start your own Etsy shop, and let me know if you have any questions. You can easily make it your full-time gig if you want to. I know hundreds of people have so you can too!