I’ve mentioned a few times before that Corey and I love board games. We have a pretty big collection and we play on the regular. But, I’m not talking about Monopoly and Life. I’m talking about unique, creative, and strategic board games that you never dreamed of when you were a kid.
We’re always trying to recruit more people into this awesome world of board gaming, and so many people have no idea that these amazing games exist, so I thought today I’d highlight 10 of our very favorite games to play on date night. It can be hard to find games that work well with just two people, but these are the best of the best!
You can see the other posts I’ve done about board games here and here if you want more inspiration!
Corey helps direct the One Act Play in the district where we work, and they’re good. That means they usually make it pretty far in competition, which means lots of late nights, long drives, and weekend trips for competitions. I love how passionate he is about it, but it can be so draining on our relationship and on our family to have him gone that much! It doesn’t help that this is the season of meetings and paperwork and insanity for me in my job, so it all adds up to a lot of stress and challenges from now until about late April.
We learned the hard way last school year that it’s absolutely vital for us to be intentional about staying connected and close to one another in this crazy season. I’ve talked a few times before about our date nights and how much we value them, but there are a few other things that we like to do when things get particularly busy to stay sane and make sure we show our love for one another. So, here are 10 things we’re doing this year to minimize the negative effects of these busy, busy months:
Valentine’s Day is not a holiday that I typically put a lot of time, effort, or thought into.
It’s just a month after our anniversary and a couple of weeks after Jackson’s birthday (and still so close to Christmas!) and honestly, by the time February rolls around I’m just a little tired of celebrating things. I’m ready for a break.
Thankfully, Corey agrees and neither of us take this holiday very seriously. Some years we’ll make each other a little gift, some years we do nothing. Last year, he sent flowers to me at work, which was a lovely surprise but honestly probably the biggest gesture either of us has ever done for Valentine’s Day.
But! This year I’m feeling a little more inspired. The last few months have been busy and difficult and exhausting for the both of us, and I think we could both use a little extra love this Valentine’s Day. The only problem? After our big 5-year anniversary date and Jackson’s birthday party, our budget for celebrations is at about $0. I figure I’m probably not the only one looking for some creative ways to celebrate on the cheap, so I rounded up more than 30 ideas for how you can make this Valentine’s Day a little special, without spending a ton of time or money!
It’s not Thursday, but it’s time for a little throwback…
You may or may not know this about us, but Corey and I were high school sweethearts.
Look! Senior prom!
Last Friday marked 10 years of dating for us. Ten years! I’ve been with this man for over a third of my life. Absolutely crazy. I’ve shared so much of our marriage with you all throughout the years (heck, I blogged about our entire wedding from planning to honeymoon!) but I’ve never really shared much about “the early years.” So, when I was asked to write a post about the new Nicholas Sparks movie, The Choice, and share about my own love story, I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity.
Alright, I’m wrapping up my posts about The Husband Project today. I know I shared that I got a free copy of the book in exchange for posting about it a few times, but let me reiterate: I sought this opportunity out because I was so excited about reading the book – they did not approach me. I am so glad that I asked, because this little project has been so incredibly inspiring for me and it has helped me spend a lot more time focusing on making my marriage even better and pouring some extra love into our relationship. Read More
Okay, so last time we talked about The Husband Project I shared about my experience and how I felt about it – I can’t say enough positive things about this book and how much it impacted me! I did realize, though, that I didn’t do a great job of explaining what it actually is. So, here goes: The Husband Project is a book that encourages you to do kind things for your spouse on the regular. It’s a 3-week long challenge with different things to do every day that focus completely on making your spouse happy. It definitely was a lot of work but I had so much fun with the challenge that I decided to think up a few more things that I could do for Corey – I didn’t want to be done with it, so why not keep going? I probably won’t keep doing it every single day, but I want to do two or three a week to keep myself thinking of different ways I can make him smile! So, here are 20 more sweet little surprises that I’m going to try to do for him over the next few months.
Watch the sunset together
Stay up late in bed chatting
Cook a fancy meal together
Send him sweet texts all day long
Spend the evening totally focused on him, no distractions
Watch a movie in bed together
Suggest playing his favorite game or watching his favorite show
Make a list of reasons I love him and leave it somewhere he’s sure to find it
Surprise him after work with his favorite drink and a snack
Go out of my way all day to be kind to him or do things for him
Thank him for something that I don’t usually notice
Make breakfast for him before work
Pray for him (and let him know I did!)
Initiate a dance party in the kitchen
Let him sleep in on a weekend morning
Offer to run an errand that he doesn’t want to take care of
Order a small gift for him on Amazon – act surprised when it arrives!
Take Jackson out of the house for a few hours to give him some quiet time at home
I know it’s a little cheesy to have a list of things to do like this, but I’ve got to say that having it written down somewhere was a huge motivator for me to get it done! It really helped me stay focused on how I could make him smile, and it really reminded me of how much I love doing little things for him with no expectation of anything in return. I truly feel like a strong marriage has to have a lot of selflessness in it, and so that’s something I really want to focus more on over the next several months.
What are some of the little things you like to do for your partner?
I’ve always loved doing sweet little things for Corey to surprise him and make him smile. Acts of service is definitely one of my main Love Languages, so it’s also how I enjoy showing love. Over the last year and a half-ish since having Jackson, though, I have to admit that I’ve fallen behind on the job of showing him love in specific and intentional ways. So, when I heard about this book, The Husband Project, I knew it was the perfect way to kick-start me back into making him a priority on a day-to-day basis.
I’ll admit, when I first started reading it there was a part of me that scoffed at the idea of doing all of these sweet things for him with nothing in return. Isn’t marriage supposed to be all about give and take? But then I kept reading, did some praying, and decided that I needed to stop being selfish and spend some time focusing on making him happy just for the sake of making him happy. And of course, just as I suspected, I didn’t end up regretting a single second. It was so worth it, and I quickly noticed that the more sweet, unexpected things I did for him, the more he did for me in return. Within a couple of weeks I felt like we were closer than ever and we were suddenly both seeking out more ways to make the other smile on a daily basis.
I journaled in the book throughout the whole experience, and I thought the best way to share what the challenge was like for me is to share a few of my thoughts from my favorite challenges.
“30 Minutes is all it Takes” – I struggled with the idea of giving him 30 minutes all to himself when he got home from work…I worked all day too! I’m exhausted too! Where are my 30 minutes? But I offered anyways, and he actually chose to hang out with me and talk instead of being alone, and he was particularly grateful later that night when I offered to clean up from dinner for him.
“E-flirt.com” – We used to text each other throughout the day pretty often but this year has been so busy that neither of us has time. I did send one random, sweet text on this day, though. Even though he didn’t have time to respond to me, one of the first things he said when he got in the car at the end of the day was how much he appreciated it.
“A Little Hands-on Attention” – I surprised him with a back rub while we were watching television. He loves them and I rarely do it, so he was thrilled. I think the exact quote was “this is unexpected and amazing!”
“Stress-be-Gone” – I put his clothes away for him after washing them, and he actually seemed to feel bad that I did it! It showed me that maybe sometimes I do stuff like that for him and then make him feel guilty (“well, you were never going to do it so I figured I’d just do it myself…”) and that’s not fair. This one was a big eye-opener for me!
I was definitely surprised by the challenges that made the biggest impact (it was often the small, easy challenges!) and I had so much fun planning each day. It was an awesome way to reset my brain and get me thinking about what I can do for him instead of worrying about what he’s doing for me. I feel so much happier in general now that I’m spending more time on making him happy, and it just feels so nice to really focus on our relationship for a bit.
Now that I’ve gotten started on this, I don’t want to stop! I’m trying to think of more sweet things I can do for him to keep the momentum going.
Would you ever do this project? What little things do you do to make your spouse feel loved?
Corey and I are back at school this week and are trying to get settled back in for the spring semester – our Christmas break was fabulous but it always throws us for a loop when it’s actually time to get back to work! It’s a bit crazy around here lately, but I just had to pop in for a quick post about today because…
It has officially been four years since this amazing man and I got married.
We’ve been together for nine years now, and I can’t believe that next year we’ll have been together for an entire decade. He makes me so incredibly happy and sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to find someone that is so perfect for me.
I love our little family and how much our life has changed over the last year. I’m so excited to be celebrating four years with this man, and have a hard time believing that in just a few weeks we’ll be celebrating our son’s first birthday. How did that happen?
We’re celebrating this weekend with a date to one of our favorite restaurants, gifts (we don’t usually do them, so this is a big deal!) and a movie at home. It’ll be our first “real” date in a while, so I’m pretty thrilled!
No, seriously, let me say that again: having a baby changes everything.
I’m sure those of you who are already parents are rolling your eyes at me, but I honestly don’t think it’s possible to even begin to comprehend how much your life will change until you actually have that tiny little human in your home. Since becoming a parent, I find that I am more relaxed, more confident, and I very quickly learned where my true priorities lie. It’s a wonderful change, but I’m still figuring out what all of these shifts are going to mean for me.
One change that has surprised me the most (and that Corey is the most excited about) is that I have let go of a lot of the things I used to stress about. A messy house used to drive me so crazy that I was in a bad mood until it was fixed – the house had to be just about perfect before I would be willing to invite anyone over, and I spent the majority of my weekends cleaning and organizing. Now? I’m not saying I let my house stay super messy all the time, but I’ve realized that a slightly messy house isn’t the end of the world. I do a bit of cleaning each night to try to stay on top of it, but if Jackson is feeling extra cuddly (or if I am feeling extra lazy), I just don’t do it. And while I do a bit of cleaning on the weekends still, I don’t let it take over my life.
Why the change? Because I realized that a clean house isn’t nearly as important as spending time with my husband and my son. And I realized that if I spend all of my free time cleaning, I have literally zero time for myself. Between work, Jackson, Corey, and the dogs, I feel like I am constantly giving my time to other people – and the little time I have for myself shouldn’t be wasted on cleaning. Since I’ve let go of the cleaning a bit, I’ve found that I’m happier, Corey is happier, and Corey is actually much more helpful with keeping things clean because I don’t do it all before he has a chance to step in.
This is way more important than a clean house!
Another change that has drastically altered the way we do things around here is that we have significantly shifted our financial priorities. We have a bit of debt (from things like our new windows and other energy-saving upgrades to the house, as well as some we-were-young-and-dumb debt) and we have slowly been paying it down over the last couple of years. But now? Something about having a kid has made me realize I want to get it all taken care of now. I don’t want to pay it off slowly, I want to knock it out as fast as we possibly can and never have to worry about it again. That would be why you haven’t seen any home improvement projects around here in a while – they just aren’t happening because every extra cent we have (which isn’t much now that we are paying for daycare!) is going to debt. And I’m 100% okay with that, which is not something I think I could have said before Jackson entered our lives.
Do I still want to get new curtains for the dining room? Absolutely. Does our carpet still drive me absolutely insane? Yes – and I’m dying to replace it. But I know that if we deal with this other stuff first, we’ll be able to enjoy doing home upgrades with a lot less stress and a lot more wiggle room in our budget. So for now, I’ll let go of the renovations and improvements and live with what we have. And maybe every once in a while we’ll be able to splurge on something small (like we did for our bamboo blinds a few weeks back), but for the most part I am going to be focusing on making our house feel like home without spending any extra money. And I’m constantly repeating The Nester’s mantra to myself – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I’m looking for the beauty in the things we already have in our home, and I’m embracing the imperfections for now. There’s no sense in getting worked up about things we can’t change yet.
So, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, the blog is going to be shifting focus for a bit. I still plan to write about home improvements as we do them, and someday I will get back to doing them much more often, but for now they’re just not happening. But what is happening is still worth sharing, in my opinion. We’re learning so much about ourselves and our priorities, we’re having a blast with a sweet new baby, and we’re figuring out this family of three thing (six, if you count the dogs) one day at a time.
I hope you’ll stick with me as the priorities and focus of this blog grow and evolve. I’d love to hear from you on what you’d like to see more of. I’ve had requests for posts about baby sleep (our little dude is a rockstar nighttime sleeper!) and working outside of the home with a baby, so you can expect those coming up, but I’d love to know if there’s something else you’d like to read about! I’m excited about letting myself loosen up the parameters of the blog a bit and letting go of the DIY posts for now without feeling guilty. I have a lot of fun ideas, so I promise things won’t get too boring around here.
For those of you who have kids, how did it change your priorities and goals? Anyone else learn to let go a bit?