5 Ways to Surprise Your Husband

We all need a little element of surprise to spice up our days and our relationships. I started to think of ways that I try to surprise Conner or things he has done recently to remind me he was thinking of me. Our Anniversary was a few weeks ago and I knew Conner had planned an overnight trip to a hotel in Atlanta. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive and find that he had already taken my bag inside and had wine + flowers waiting for me in the room. Love that man of mine. It reminded me that a little surprise here and there spices things up! Here are a few ways we have tried to surprise each other and I hope you will find an idea or two to add an element of surprise to your relationship!

Surprise Flowers

  1. Playlist: Make a playlist or Cd and share it with your husband. Conner was traveling recently so I hacked into his Spotify Account (I’m a Pandora girl myself) and created a “get shredded” play list. I added songs that made me think of him or ones that I thought would pump him up during a work out. I then sent it to him right before I knew he was heading to the gym so that he would have a new playlist.
  2. Date Night Sneak Attack. We try to schedule out our date nights but this past weekend I got home late (as in 10pm) from being out of town. I called Conner and told him to make sure he had pants on and to meet me outside in 10 minutes. We then drove over to a local taco shop where they had live music going on. It was a fun little surprise date.
  3. Candle: I remember we were at a friends house last fall and I LOVED the way their home smelled. They told me it was a specific candle from Bath and Body works. I mentioned it to Conner, because I am always trying to figure out which candles smell the best. He agreed he liked the smell and that was it. A few days later I returned from work and my house smelled just like that luxurious smell from my friends house! Conner had gone out and purchased the candle and had it lit when I arrived home. Such a surprise! Find a candle you like, or your partner likes, and get them one.
  4. Make one of your Pins! We all know our Pinterest boards are filled with yummy goodies but rarely do they actually make it off the boards and onto our plates. Challenge yourself to actually make one of the recipes you have pinned. Whether you choose a healthy dinner casserole or splurge on a post work bean brownie, make something that will leave your hubby feeling special because you thought enough about him to make him a surprise recipe.
  5. DVR: Scan upcoming shows or movies that are coming on TV. See if you can spot one that you think your spouse would enjoy watching. Then record it for them and let them know it is on the DVR for them to watch. You could even make it a date night by popping some popcorn and pressing play on the show together.
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Anniversary Recap Part 1

We had an overnight stay last weekend in downtown Atlanta. Conner planned out the special overnight to celebrate our three year anniversary and play tourists for a few hours in the city where we met.Third Anniversary

Conner is afraid of heights but he pushed that aside for the night so that we could ride the new Skyview Ferris Wheel in Centennial Olympic Park. We picked the perfect time to ride because the sun was setting over the city and provided some really pretty views of the city and Centennial Park.

SkyView Atlanta

After the Ferris Wheel we ventured over to Cafe Intermezzo for dessert. We met with our “dessert tour guide” to get the low down of the handmade cakes and pies in the bakery cases. As if the extensive dessert collection wasn’t impressive enough, the drink menu was massive too. And I’m not talking cocktails. I’m talking any type of coffee or tea under the sun! I had a caramel infused tea that smelled better than it tasted but hey, that’s part of the experience!

Anniversary DessertOverall the first night of our touristy anniversary trip was memorable and allowed us some sweet time to be disconnected from everyday life and leave the phones in the pocket for the night.

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Rim Hugger: Dana Point, CA

At the beginning of this year, I was moved to a Georgia-only territory in an effort to keep me from traveling so much. That has not panned out to this point as I am in the air more than ever these days. However, I love business travel where I get to visit new cities, try amazing local restaurants, and add new places to my Rim Hugger list!

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This past week I was in Southern California with a customer doing some work at their factory. Conveniently, my Aunt Barb, Uncle Dave, and cousin Danielle live just 28 miles from my client’s site! It’s so nice to be able to leave work and head to spend time with family rather than a lonely hotel room. We had a fantastic time in San Clemente. Evening bike rides at the beach, dinner overlooking the sunset at the pier, and animated movie relaxation time (even though I fell asleep!).

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One morning, Barb and Danielle put up with my crazy East Coast body clock and woke up with me super early for a little trip down to Dana Point, CA. This place was nuts – ultra-rich neighborhood with mansions just stuck into the hillside over looking the beach. Each one had it own style and there was everything from Spanish palaces to giant farmhouses to super modern estates. One house had a huge, circular gym overlooking the beach. The owner had all the windows opened up and was on the elliptical listening to the waves crash!

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Our exercise was a little different than the traditional Rim Hugger fare. We walked up and down the beach, climbed on the cliffs on one side (where we found some really neat tide pools filled with fish and crabs!), and ran a ton of stairs! It was a great little workout and a really cool way to experience a new place together. You can see more in the video below and check out #rimhuggerlist on social media!

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Communication Check-In

I had a great conversation with a friend the other day in which we ended up talking about finances. Finances are a tricky thing in life but especially in marriage. I know people talk about communication being key within finances, which is true, but there is more than that. Finances can become a routine, especially if you are budget driven and like a plan. For us, Conner is the CFO of our family and I am merely a steward of our resources. That is just a fancy way of saying Conner knows how much “shopping” budget I have and I do my best not to make unnecessary purchases at Target. The struggle is real y’all, especially when you find a 4 story Target.

Target MeccaConner keeps tabs on what is spent throughout the month, balances our bank account, pays the bills, and gives me the status report of when to hold back in spending. And I will tell you what- I am glad it is not me. Those numbers drive me crazy.

This is our routine, and it has become the norm for us, but I never check Mint. (Mint is the way we monitor what we are spending).

Back to the conversation from my friend. We both shared in the common theme that since we know our spouses are the ones guarding our finances, we take a back seat and just trust. We have an idea of expenses and obviously are key contributors in determining the spending goals, but if you were to ask me how much our water bill is or for my friend, how much the day care costs, then we would look at you with glossed over eyes.

This made me pause. No, Conner isn’t holding anything back or hiding our spending, but logging in to Mint every once in a while or calling a family budget meeting shows that I am just as dedicated to helping with our finances beyond just showing self control when roaming around the bullseye.

I think we can become comfortable in the roles we assign each other in our relationships. I hate talking finances and avoid that portion of the family meeting like it were the latest strain of eboli, but maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should be more engaged and have weekly, monthly, quarterly check-ins on finances or other roles we have assigned each other. This can be true for the things I “oversee” in our family as well. It is nice to have buy-in from our spouse and have them know what concerns us about a specific area. Does Conner realize I have been making a shorter grocery list because I plan to have a dinner party at the end of the month? Probably not. Maybe he thinks I am just not making a good enough shopping list to keep him well fed.

Do I realize that a project we have coming up around the house is actually costing as much as it is and therefore taking away from another budgeted item within our finances? Nope.

Yes communication in terms of talking about the items is important, but I think there is a lot to be said for “check-in’s”. Call a family meeting, figure out what may be stressors or need to be communicated a little better. You will feel better after the meeting.

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Role Models

There are many sayings that reference the importance of role models, but one of my favorites is this one.

You are the sum of the people with whom you spend the most time.

Mandy and I have been very blessed to have fantastic relationships with people who have served as mentors for us. We are so thankful for the people who have influenced our lives and we really do believe that God put them all in our lives for a reason. In order to make ourselves better, we have to surround ourselves with people who will make us better. It almost makes too much sense when you say it that way, right? Why spend time hanging around people that put you down, make you feel insecure, or don’t line up with the values and morals that you hold? Sure, there are good people out there that don’t agree with you on everything and that’s just fine. However whether we like it or not, the people we associate with are going to influence the way the think, act, and speak – for good or bad. If you have a goal to improve in aspects of your life, find someone who you think is successful in that area and spend as much time with them as possible! Pick their brain, learn their habits, and find out exactly how they got to where they are. Building a network of folks who you admire is one of the biggest keys to success. Not only will you have great friends, but you can learn from them and grow as a person in the meantime.

I have a long way to go in my Christian life. I have come a long way from where I used to be, but I still have quite the mountain to climb in my walk with Christ. You know who is way higher on that climb than I am? Mandy. There are a multitude of reasons why I love to spend time with my wife, but her influence on my relationship with Jesus is very high on my list. Just seeing her go through her day gives me constant reminders of how I can be better. She may not realize it, but the little things that she does impact me, her high school girls, and anyone else she comes into contact with. Without getting way off topic, this is another huge point – a lot of the time we can’t see it but we influence others in a ton of ways. Some things may not seem important to us, but it could have a lasting impact on someone else. For that reason, it’s not only important to surround yourself with positive influences, but to live your own life as someone who others would want to be influenced by.

Being influenced by our friends is important if for no other reason than the amount of time that we spend with them. On the other hand, Mandy and I default to being intentional about things. Therefore, we made it a mission to seek out people in different seasons of life to help shape our own futures. We were so lucky to have had a fantastic small group at Buckhead Church led by an incredible couple. We learned so much from them and saw what a successful, Christian-based family can look like. They showed us how marriage can stay happy and how important these early years post-wedding can be in forming the foundation for our life together. Furthermore in Small Group Round #2, we are led by Steve and Sylvia Ypma and are in a group of people navigating the waters of pregnancy and young children. Mom and Mom-in-Law, if you are reading this – we are NOT pregnant nor do we have any intention of that happening soon. That said, this group has taught us so much about how we can focus on strengthening our marriage even through the incredibly stressful early years of children. They have been real about their struggles and not given us the rosy picture of the “Pinterest parents”. Even better? What a solid group of people who are wholeheartedly #FORGwinnett!2014-05-02 20.26.00

The influence of others has been pivotal in guiding the course of our marriage to this point and I only see that influence growing as we do. We have had a lot of experiences in our almost three years, but in many situations we are very much rookies. There are many things that we will run into that we will have no idea how to handle. In fact I would venture to say that I’ll probably fail at a lot more of those things than I will succeed, but I also know how to seek out guidance. Mandy and I aren’t afraid to admit when we need help and I believe that we will have an easier time for realizing that and reaching out.

Don’t wait until after things get tough – find a core group of friends who will build you up, seek out guidance from people who have been through it before, and listen to the advice of the people around you. You won’t regret it.

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Scavenger Hunt Budget Date Night

Recently we found ourselves dressed with no place to go. You know, those evening where you had plans and then they got canceled 30 minutes before walking out the door. Dinner was already eaten and workouts completed so the question became what do we do with our evening besides sit on the couch. We didn’t want to spend any “actual” money, so Conner posed the question “what free thing can we do”?

Scavenger Hunt.

Oh yeah

First things first, we scavenged around the house to find all the quarters possible. Armed with $10 in quarters (note to self, next date night will involve rolling the change in the house. Who knew?!?) we were on a mission to find the local dessert of King of Pops. Now, for those of you who may be saying “Okay a popsicle? Just go to the grocery store”. Nope, not that simple. These popsicles can only be found at Food Truck events, farmers markets, and on the streets of Atlanta. I knew some specialty foods stores had started carrying locally made treats so we thought that would be the next best option instead of driving all the way to Atlanta. The goal for the scavenger hunt was to find the popsicles before the sunset. So we could, you know, enjoy the treats while watching the sky turn to night.

Scavenger Hunt DateIt was quite the adventure; we swung by a Farmer’s market and two specialty grocery stores before finding the treasure! Just in time and we didn’t even use all the change. Woot for ballin’ on a budget!

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Date Your Spouse: Fitting in Date “Night”

I had lunch with a friend recently and the conversation of date nights came up. How it is easy to just go to dinner with your spouse and not count it as a date night. To simply declare it a “date night” gives it a sense of purpose and makes it more intentional. Yes, putting a night on the calendar is good so that you both can be prepared to set aside distractions to focus on each other, but sometimes a date night isn’t in the cards for the foreseeable future. Being intentional about spending time together doesn’t always come easy, but when you do make the time it is always worth whatever the sacrifice, even if it is just an hour of alone time.Ice Cream BreakLove this moment where we found ourselves with coupons to Chick-fil-A so we walked up to the one near our house to pick up some ice cream cones and sit on the curb chatting. We could have easily sunk into the couch for the evening and buried our faces into our cellphones but instead took the time to put on tennis shoes and get a little quality time in sans cell phones (okay except for the selfie snapping, duh).

As for other ways to fit in a date, think about a “day date”. Conner and I recently took advantage of a free weekend day to do just that! We went and saw a movie, did a little shopping, and ate lunch on an outdoor patio. It was a nice change of pace from the typical “must do dinner and an activity” type of dates we go on. What are your suggestions for “quick” dates when you only have an hour or the timing is a little unconventional?

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