Monthly Archives: June 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Date Nights

Someone wise once told me that after marriage, couples should still court, or in other words, continue to date one another after the I do’s are exchanged. Dating remains important after the vows because it helps the spark in your marriage. Date nights do not need to be elaborate; the important thing is that you have a date night.

For Trae and myself, we tend to say we are going to go on a date and then never do. We figured out that we had to prepay for a date in order to actually go on one. We stumbled across an Irish pub when we lived in South Carolina. Once a month the pub had a themed dinner with entertainment. For forty dollars, you got anywhere around a four to six course super yummy dinner, several glasses of wine, and a local improv group putting on a small play (The Entire Works of Shakespeare) or a murder mystery. We started becoming regulars on these special dinner nights so much so that the servers started to give us extra special care and the actors and actresses would come up to talk to us. We loved these dinner nights so much that we even attended one the night before we moved to North Carolina. Instead of freaking out about the last random junk that needed to go in a box, we were feasting on food while trying to solve the murder of a 1920s gangster.

And you know the best part of these nights?? Costume optional! The restaurant encouraged patrons to dress up according to the dinner’s theme! Some of the dinner high lights are

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Sorry about the bad quality! These pictures are from 2011. Recognize the dress in the second picture? It is the Rose dress! I got to wear my old prom dress during a Titanic Memorial dinner. The restaurant cooked dishes from a second class menu, and it was one of the best meals I have ever had!

Sadly, we now leave six hours away from that restaurant, so it really isn’t feasible to do dates there anymore. We still do date nights, and I have a few tips on how to make sure you date nights are fun, unique, and inexpensive:

-Like your favorite restaurants on Facebook. Many times they will post specials.

-Like your town and surrounding towns on Facebook. We liked one small town, which is about a thirty minute drive away. About a month ago the town had a status about a beer festival. For forty dollars a couple, we went to a food competition and got to taste food from six of the best chefs in the town. Each food was paired with a local brew.

-Like museums and art galleries on Facebook as well. We are now regulars on the First Friday Art Walks. Each first Friday of the month the art galleries have open houses with tasty treats. Best part is First Friday Art Walk is free! Soon we are driving to an art museum that shows movies outside for free. Participants are encouraged to bring picnic dinners!

All in all, make social media work for you. Almost all businesses have Facebook pages. Many times events that you would have never known about are advertised on those pages. By liking the page, you are liking potential date nights!

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Gardens can’t be measured and neither can Marriages

When I was a little girl, my parents had a garden. The garden was rather large and filled with cabbage, sunflowers, strawberries, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, etc. The garden itself was encased in a large fenced-in area to keep out the dogs, especially the large and loveable Newfoundland Ginger. Then inside the garden space, you had perfectly tilled dirt with the garden separated into sections using boards. The distance of each plant was precisely measured out. Each fruit or vegetable had its own corral. In other words, my engineer father had made his garden an perfectly symmetrical gardening masterpiece.

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A really bad mock up of Dad’s garden.

I remember going over to my godparent’s house to play with my god-brothers and being secretly horrified of the zigzagged rows of beans and corn with stray weeds growing up between the rows. Weeds never lived in our garden; in my head, gardens were meant to be neat and not dirty. So you can imagine the mental expectations I had of our future garden when Trae and I moved into our very own house with a large backyard.

Our garden is not as big; it did not have nice fence around it. Tomato plants were not planted exactly 28 1/2 inches apart. We underestimated how big squash plants grow. Trae has to be careful when his mows because our butternut squash has escaped the confines of the fence. We have weeds; heck we even lost our collards to pests. Our garden is not an engineering marvel. I freaked out. We had to keep the weeds out; we needed to fence the garden off better. We weren’t doing it right. Our garden did not look like my dad’s garden. We were looking more like my godparent’s garden and that wasn’t right.

Guess what…I wasn’t right in my assumptions. One of the most important things to remember before going into a marriage is not go in with expectations created by other people. A marriage is something you build together as a couple, not something you build with yourself, your spouse, and everyone else.

Facebook is one virtual garden that I had to learn how to navigate. I see pictures of happy couples with wonderful messages of “So blessed” or pictures of couples traveling the world. I have always wanted to travel, and while I have been blessed to travel, I found myself feeling that I was not traveling enough and started to get jealous. My husband and I weren’t watching a sunset in Africa; we weren’t wine tasting. We were at home eating a frozen pizza. I started to measure my marriage against these pictures and statuses. Compared to these relationships, my marriage was sub-par and full of weeds.I started to dwell on the fact we didn’t go places; we didn’t do exciting events or outings.

Then I talked to one of my friends who I was envious of her Facebook persona. We were talking about her latest trip, and she mentioned–out of the blue– how while she loved traveling, she was jealous of my life! I was shocked. She longed for frozen pizzas on a screened-in-porch at a recently purchased house. Apparently we were lusting after each other’s gardens. In this case, the tomato on the other side is always redder. The Bible says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). If you dwell on jealousy, the roots of your marriage plant will rot. Take joy in the produce of your marriage. Your right, I am not in Africa. But every morning, my husband has a cup of coffee waiting for me when I get out of the shower. I am not doing wine tastings, but I went to a pot-luck “fancy” dinner party the other night. I focus on the positive things of my marriage, which in return gives us strong roots.

You can get help from others, even plants need bug spray once in awhile. But ultimately your marriage is your garden, not someone else’s. Our garden doesn’t look like the garden from my childhood, and that is ok. My marriage is what I make it. I cannot measure my marriage by someone else’s yard stick (or in this case, tape measure).

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Bonus picture: This is my dad measuring out his garden.

 

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Filed under Gardening Series

Gardening: The Start of Short Series

We garden. Makes us sound like hipsters, doesn’t it? Gardening takes a lot of patience and resilience just like a marriage does. In this series, I will be using our ups and downs with gardening to illustrate the ups and downs of marriage. The series will consist of five posts:

  • Gardens can’t be measured
  • Weeding: Keeping out the bad
  • Bugs: Not just for stomachs
  • The Importance of Water
  • Knowing when to turn off the Water Hose

I might even throw some yummy bonus posts of the meals we make from our garden’s bounty! (We have already made a super yummy chicken tacos with squash and zucchini.)

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Sweet Nothings and Morning Breath

Trae and I went out of town last weekend to my best friend Meredith’s birthday party. (I have known her since the sixth grade and have been on multiple vacations with her family.) She always throws elaborate themed parties and encourages party-goers to dress up according to the theme. This year the theme was Movie Masquerade, and I was very excited because I got to dress up with Trae. (My dates for last year’s party, which was eighties themed, were epic puffy sleeves. Literally I felt like I was flanked by two metallic green aliens all night. It was amazing.)

We decided to go as Jack and Rose from Titanic. I *might* have been in high school when the movie first came out, and I *might* have seen it either two or three times in theater. (In my defense, I had a fascination with the Titanic’s history years before the movie came out, but also I had a love affair with Rose’s clothes in the movie.)

 

When it was time for junior prom that year, I went shopping with Meredith to find the perfect dress. We even had a theme song for the shopping trip.

Please sing this song to the tune of “Deck the Halls”:

Deck the stores with puffy dresses

fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la

Tis the season to go prom shopping

accessorize accessorize accessorize

Now all she needs is a date

fal lal lal lal lal lal lal la LA

(The capital LA is to indicate a grand finale.)

Anyways, we shoved a ton of dresses into a refrigerator-box-sized dressing room at JC Penny’s, and I emerged in amidst of all the poof dressed as Rose from Titanic. I was in love, and it was my prom dress. Sadly enough I think I had the “perfect dress moment” more with this prom dress than I did with my own wedding dress. No Joke. I loved, and still love, the dress. I promise though that I did not go overboard with the Titanic theme; I did not wear the heart of the ocean with the dress to prom. This past weekend was the first time I had ever worn a heart of the ocean with that dress, and I find any chance I can to wear that dress. (Next Throw Back Thursday: Titanic Memorial Dinner and epic dress wearing.)

Moving on….I ordered my heart of the ocean from eBay, and Trae printed the iconic Rose sketch and put it in a sketch book he carried with him all night. To be honest, I think he really enjoyed “flashing” people at the party. Overall the party was a lot of fun, and Trae had a great time. He was apprehensive at first since he didn’t know a lot of Meredith’s friends. I think the fact that The Princess Bride was being played against the side of Meredith’s house was a big plus for him! A bunch of the guys, including Trae, stood around quoting along with the movie.

 

The next morning we woke up before the rest of the crashing guests and quietly went down stairs to make coffee. Knowing Meredith’s kitchen I busied myself with the coffee while Trae gave me an odd look.

T: “Whose Jared?”

C: “Huh?”

T: “Jared. You two seemed to really know each other. Something about waffles and other jokes.”

C: Looks at husband like he has lost some screws, marbles, or both.

T: “You seemed close.”

C: laughing “That is Meredith’s little brother!!”

T:  suddenly looks relieved “Oh. Now it makes sense.”

It had not dawned on me once to introduce Trae last night to Jared; Jared who gave me a bear hug as soon as he saw me, Jared who shook Trae’s hand and said Hey Trae!, Jared who came to our wedding, Jared who I’ve known for years. I just assumed that Trae knew who he was. I mean come on, the guy was at our wedding. Obviously Trae should know all the people that my side of the family invited to the wedding even though I will still ask, Who is that again? when looking at the photo album.

It was shocking to realize how even after almost of four years of marriage Trae didn’t know significant people, events, or things from my life. He had heard the story a thousand times of how Jared would jokingly demand I make him waffles to earn my keep during family vacations, but when faced with the person of the story, he didn’t make the connection. In marriage, you cannot assume that your significant other knows all about you. We have a life time of memories before marriage, and we spend the years after marriage making joint memories. We just assume that the familiar things in our life are also familiar to our spouse, but they are not. Years after marriage, you will find yourself continually learning new things–happy or sad– about your spouse, and those constant revelations is what makes marriage so special. One of my favorite things to do is pull out the game Chat Pack, which is a small box with cards. (Amazon has a bunch of different sets.) Each card has a question, anywhere from embarrassing moments to being at the right place at the right time. Long car trips and sitting around the fire pit are a great time to play this game and learn new things about your spouse. (I just learned that Trae was pants’d in middle school by his friend on the way home thanks to Chat Pack.)

           

Back in Meredith’s kitchen, a relieved looking Trae pulled me close to him and looked lovingly into my eyes.

“I love you.”

I nuzzled my head on his shoulder and gave him a big hug. Trae said sweetly, “I do love you.”

I mumbled back, “I love you too.” Apparently my nuzzling and mumbling was not the from-the-bottom-of-the-heart “I love you” exchange Trae was looking for.

Trae: “Hey, look into my eyes, I just want you….

Cutting him off, “I know, you love me but morning breath and sweet nothings don’t go together.”

Trae laughing, “Oh, yeah. Good point. “

At that moment, I knew I was married to my life partner, bad breath and all.

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