Valentine's Day is around the corner, and although I'm not huge into Valentine's Day, I know a lot of people are! Also, our anniversary is at the end of the month. And while we typically try and do a weekend getaway for our anniversary, sometimes we like to do a date night that's a little different, too. And because we like to get out of town, we don't want to spend tons of cash on a fancy dinner.
So I've rounded up a couple of ideas for dates you can enjoy that won't break the bank! We have done most of these at one time or another. Some are really simple, others require a little more research, but they're all fun and can all be done for way under $100!
A couple of years ago, on Valentine's Day, we decided we didn't want to go to crowded restaurants anymore. So we decided to go to an area of Miami where you could park your car right up in front of the water, and we had ourselves a picnic. We picked up stone crabs (one of our faves), brought some wine, and some prepared sides from the grocery store deli. I brought a couple of candles and we had a moonlit & candlelit picnic on the water, looking at Miami's skyline. It's probably one of my favorite Valentine's Day memories.
A Drive-In Movie
There isn't a drive in theater in every city, but if you have one near you and you've never been to one, it's pretty fun! It transports you to another time, and you can bring your own snacks and food.
A Dance Class
I know, there are some places where dance classes can cost an arm and a leg. I'm not talking about that. In Miami at least, there are half a dozen salsa studios where you can go and take basic salsa lessons for $15. It's a big group setting, and after they teach you the basics for that course, they do open floor dancing. I took these classes in middle school and I loved them.
Check Groupon for this! Some tastings can run a pretty penny, but in our area for example, Groupon typically has a special for a local winery where you can have wine tasting for two including two souvenir glasses, for about $35.
Find yourself an old school lounge or bar where they play live music. Grab a drink at the bar, and enjoy the sounds. I love to listen to live jazz music, and there are a couple of hotels where they have that regularly. Just do a quick search and I'm sure you'll find some in your area! (Maybe you can even put those dance lessons to good use!)
So get planning! Would love to hear some of your favorite inexpensive date night ideas!
This is the busiest time of the year, right? So I'm crazy for telling you to stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment. But I'm not. As a matter of fact, even though I have things to do, I felt compelled to sit down and tap this out for you. Because if I don't tell you, will anyone?
Last week, I was like you... make lists and checking them twice. Finishing Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, editing photo sessions, preparing for a vacation with two legs on opposite sides of the country. Forgetting. Forgetting what Christmas is all about. I was being swallowed up by Christmas. I was bickering and I was not spending enough time with my son and my husband.
And then God, in his infinite wisdom, sent me a sign that said, "SLOW DOWN." What might that sign be, you ask? Caleb and I both got sick. The most convenient way of slowing down? Definitely not. But it gave me a chance to pause. It gave me a chance to think about what I was giving importance to this season. And I wasn't giving importance to the right things.
But getting sick made me stop. It made me spend time with Caleb. Real, quality time that I had been neglecting. As much as it pains me to say it, I had been letting him run amok and then freaking out because I had to pick up after him a thousand times a day and correct his behavior BECAUSE I WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION TO HIM.
So I napped with him. We sat on the couch and colored together (relax, they were Ultra Washable markers). I watched Frozen with him and we made commentary on the movie together (yes, Frozen fever is currently happening in my house). I sat and ate lunch with him and talked to him through the meal.
And while he still had a few moments of toddler rambunctiousness (if that's even a word), overall, his behavior was so much better, even though he was sick. And I realized, I've been a terrible mom lately. I've been so busy and I allowed the busyness of the season to catch up with me.
Last night, after nearly coughing up my lung, I decided to take a steamy bath, and while I was sitting in there, I realized that getting sick had been my biggest blessing in disguise this Christmas season. So I prayed, and I gave thanks, and this morning I woke up with a renewed sense of thankfulness and joy. Joy to last me through Christmas and far beyond. Because really, while we pile all these unnecessary things on ourselves, we are forgetting the meaning of Christmas. And whether that meaning for you is the birth of a Savior, or the closeness of family and loved ones, I'm pretty sure it's not about being busy. And let's be real - I still have a to-do list. But I'm a lot less stressed about getting it done. Because at the end of the day, it always gets done - because you're pretty amazing.
So in the next few days, mama, take a break. Enjoy your kids. Make a mess with them. Take a bubble bath. Snuggle up on the couch with your significant other. Watch your favorite Christmas movie - together, without thinking of the 75,000 things on your to-do list. There will be time to check things off your list tomorrow. And if the gifts don't get wrapped? Tell them Santa ran out of wrapping paper. ;)
A long time ago, Eddie and I made a promise to one another. After hearing about several friends' relationships ending, we talked about what some of the things were that drove a wedge between those couples. When relationships end, it's not usually one factor - there are typically many reasons that make a relationship reach its final stages.
One thing that we kept coming back to was the fact that many of these couples didn't go to bed together every night, despite living in the same house and not being away from one another for long periods. Not that the husband was out until all hours of the night, not that the wife stayed late at the office. They just didn't go to bed together most nights. Why? One stayed up late watching TV in the living room while the husband went to bed. Another worked on his computer until 3 am while his wife slept. Still another stayed up late doing Pinterest projects while her husband stayed in bed waiting for her.
So we decided that in our marriage, we were going to make every effort to go to bed together as many nights as possible. It's not always easy, but we have made it a habit. I had recently started my photography business, and was finding that nighttime was the best time for me to do my editing. But I quickly pulled in the reins on that and discovered other systems that worked for me and my editing. Some nights I would love to sit at the computer and edit my photos without having anyone interrupt me. Other nights I want to decompress and sit in a dark, quiet house and watch whatever TV show I feel like watching or read a book until 3 am. But as much as I want those things, my marriage takes priority over them.
So every evening, Caleb goes to sleep and we get to unwind. We'll usually watch a TV show or two and then decide to go to our bedroom. Sometimes we have to shower, other times we have to pick up the room, still other times one of us will shower while the other is doing something else in another part of the house. But 9 nights out of 10, we go to bed within 5-10 minutes of one another. There are exceptions, of course - I'm not saying I never stay up late by myself - but this is our norm.
And it's not about sex. It's about intimacy. It's about ending your day feeling the closeness of the one person with whom you have chosen to live this life. It's ending the day playing footsie, or enveloped in a hug, or having a tickle fight (because we're all adults here and this is obviously the most mature thing ever). It's about having a conversation about your day and connecting to one another when there isn't a little human between you.
This is also why, once Caleb was old enough and we both felt comfortable, we made a conscious choice to not let him sleep in our bed anymore. He was moved to his crib, and unless he wakes up crying and screaming, that's where he stays. In the mornings, we all cuddle together and spend some time in bed as a family, but our nighttime routine is ours.
Like I said earlier, I can't attribute whether or not a relationship is successful to this one factor, but it is a factor that we have found makes a difference in our marriage. And as long as we keep this promise to one another, there is the understanding that we will continue to work for and choose our marriage over everything else, every day.
Try it, you never know what it will do for you!
Yesterday morning, I got a text message from my dad. He explained that my mom wouldn't be home until late and if we wanted a last minute date night, that he was available to watch Caleb for us. Naturally, we jumped at the chance, because duh, free babysitting. We decided on a movie (Jason Bourne, so good!) and dinner. Since we were doing something a little more low key, I figured I would keep it casual.
Since it's Labor Day weekend, I figured I'd break out a true summer outfit one last time. I know we're all gearing up for fall colors and flavors (seriously can't wait for all things pumpkin), but it's still officially summer so I'm going to enjoy my white jeans and my espadrilles. I'm also a huge fan of statement necklaces, because I tend to dress on the more simple side and I feel like statement necklaces really help me express my style and personality. I also don't change my earrings, so necklaces are my favorite way to change things up.
Eddie actually gave me this shirt for my birthday and I knew it would look perfect with white jeans. However, that was a problem, since I didn't own white jeans. So I gave in and bought this pair of boyfriend jeans. When I put the outfit on, I felt like it could use a pop of color, and this neon necklace was exactly what it needed. I had bought it at the beginning of summer and had only used it a couple of times, but I was happy with this look! It was perfect for our low key date night and the hubs loved it!
I I also put him to work and made him take these pics of me. ;) I think he did a pretty good job, right?
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy your last official weekend of summer... Cheers to sunshine and happy days!
necklace: New York & Company
jeans: New York & Company
bag: Louis Vuitton
This past weekend, my hubby and I went out for a day date. While we were out, he said something like, "If I were single, I'd be living in a sick apartment in Brickell."
My reply, of course, was, "But aren't you glad you're not single?"
His response? Pretty much sums up marriage.
"Eighty percent of the time, being married is amazing. I love you, you know that. But ten percent of the time I don't want to talk to you, and the other ten percent of the time I want to throw you into the bay."
Well, gee, thanks, I think? I guess 80/20 is a decent ratio.
We've been married for six and a half years. Not a lifetime by any means, but long enough to see marriages shorter than ours not make it. We didn't get pregnant until four and a half years after we were married (we waited a few years before we started trying and then it took a little while for it to happen), and we survived major construction on our house while also surviving pregnancy.
There were bound to be rough moments. And there are bound to be many more rough moments. He's not perfect, and neither am I, by any means.
I read an article a while back that talked about Generation Y and how we are such a paradoxical generation. We are capable, educated, socially conscious, multi-talented multi-taskers, and we have big ideas. But when those big ideas don't work out exactly the way we have planned, we jump to the next one.
And I feel like that is what is wrong with the way many people nowadays view marriage. If we can't put a Band-Aid on it or if it doesn't make us feel good, we toss it. And on to the next. But marriage isn't easy. Nothing ever worth it is easy.
The best advice I ever heard about marriage was at a friend's wedding. The priest said, "Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision. You don't always wake up in the morning feeling good and happy and in love. The same way you sometimes don't feel like going in to work every day, but you get up, put your pants (or skirt) on, and do it. That's marriage." Make a conscious effort. If you feel happy more often than you don't, then it's worth the fight.
Because love isn't just a feeling. Love is most certainly a choice. Feelings are fickle, and so are humans. And we are humans, aren't we? So every morning, I wake up and I make the decision to love my husband, no matter how bad the day before was. And I have to say, my husband makes that choice daily, as well. Every day for us starts off as a clean slate. And when you make the choice to love, love continues to grow. It makes the percentages my husband was talking about, that 80/20, get a little closer to 100/0. It might never reach 100/0, but 80/20 isn't half bad. It's definitely better than 20/80 or even 50/50.
So what am I trying to say? The work is worth it. If you can make it through the hard times, you'll come out so much better on the other side. And look for the love in every day.
It's worth it.
P.S. I am not telling you to stick it out if you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. There are some situations that love can't fix or take care of.