Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lessons from WHITE CHRISTMAS

One of my favorite things to do during the weeks leading up to Christmas is curl up in the double recliner with my husband and watch holiday movies. Okay, so most of them aren’t Academy Award material. In fact, usually they’re downright sappy. But that’s part of the fun, putting aside the stress of Christmas busy-ness and enjoying a little laughter and maybe a tear or two.

My all-time favorite is White Christmas. I never tire of watching Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera Ellen croon and dance and enjoy a little romance in that quaint Vermont lodge.

The movie has a lot to say about couple communication, if you’re paying attention. As Betty and Bob grow closer, Bob makes plans to surprise the general on Christmas Eve. Betty overhears only part of the conversation, and to her, it sounds like Bob is out for his own gain at the general’s expense. But instead of confronting Bob, she packs up and heads off to the big city, leaving Bob to wonder what went wrong.


Needless to say, things turn out fine in the end, and of course if not for Bob and Betty’s miscommunication, there wouldn’t be the same romantic conflict in the story. In real life, however, we could do without the additional drama of half-heard conversations and misconstrued motives. Don’t let misunderstandings spoil your relationship, whether during the holidays or year-round. Talk things out. Share what’s on your heart. Your marriage will be stronger for it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hello, folks.

I'm sorry. I know I said I would provide my list for the 12 Romantic Days of Christmas, but truth is, almost everyone in our family has been sick, off and on, for the last 3 weeks.

It started with one of my sons, then hit Hubby, worked its way to me, and has finally taken my daughter down. Only one child hasn't been sick through all of this, and I have a feeling he will get hit soon.

I'm tellin' ya, nothing tests the bonds of holy matrimony than like the "In sickness and in health" clause.

"In health" can be tough.

"In sickness" is downright impossible. Okay, not impossible, but very, very difficult.

At first, we were doing pretty well working as a team. One of us took care of the sick child while the other kept the two healthy ones in line.

Then Hubby got sick, and the dynamic shifted. He was doing good to make it out of bed in the morning and get to work. I was struggling to maintain the house and the children, so I abandoned the house and focused on the kids.

When I got the cold, the dynamic shifted again. I am a HUGE baby when I get sick. Whiny, grouchy, complaining, cranky. Not pretty. So then the team concept was abandoned and it was every man (and woman) for him/herself.

So we're both taking medicine to minimize our symptoms and trying to keep the children from killing themselves. The house became (and still is) a war zone, and neither of us really cared. We were both struggling to find a way to rest. Hubby felt better in the mornings, and I felt better in the evenings, so we worked from there.

Then our daughter got it, and Hubby and I just can't shake the stupid cold. Our son finally got over it, and the other is still immune (so far).

Basically, there has been no romance going on in our lives, the tension has been high, but I think we're finally starting to come together. Last night we both sat down on the bed after changing all the bedding because the toddler threw up on herself and the entire bed from a coughing fit. We looked at each other, not talking, and collapsed together - shoulder to shoulder - and sat like that for ten minutes.

Then we went to sleep. So I think we're getting there.

Nothing ever goes as planned, but learning to roll with the tide has kept us afloat so far.

Later.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Monday.

Or at least, I hope you're having a happy Monday.

While thumbing through the book 1001 Ways to be Romantic by Gregory Godek, I found a page devoted to Christmas.

The author suggested giving your spouse the 12 Romantic Days of Christmas.

The list seemed (to me) to be more of what a husband would give his wife and included:
(And you have to sing the music either aloud or in your head)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . (etc, etc, etc)

A red rose in a bud vase
2 Bottle of Champagne
3 French Kisses
4 Nights of Dancing
5 Golden Rings
6 Bubble Baths
7 Movie Passes
8 Beanie Babies
9 Coupons for Back Rubs
10 Shares of Microsoft Stock
11 Heart-Shaped Balloons
12 CD's of The Beatles

So I thought I'd go ahead and try to come up with a list of 12 things to do for, or give to, my Hubby for Christmas. Now mind you, our list will be different from what others might want to do because we are broke and struggle to find time alone with three kids as it is.

Next week I will post my list, and I'll just have to ban Hubby from reading the blog until after Christmas.

Now it's your turn to come up with a list of 12 things to do for your spouse for the 12 Romantic Days of Christmas.

Later.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Madness

Well, Thanksgiving is this week.

My feelings on the holidays are mixed this year. And lest any family members who happen to read this post become upset with me, let me explain.

I love visiting family on Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year's. Easter. The Fourth of July.

Any reason to get the family together to eat, laugh, and talk . . . I'm in. Regardless of which side of the family it is. Love spending time with Hubby's family as much as my own, and I know that is a rare and wonderful gift.

And I'm lucky because Hubby feels the same way.

Our problems with Holidays begin before we even leave the house. As usual, it's the kids who pose the problem.

As a side note, if you don't have kids yet, or your kids are grown and gone, you might not relate to this post, or you might just have Vietnam-like flashbacks, and not want to read any further.

Hubby and I are tense and angry before we ever get out the door because we spend anywhere from an hour to two hours getting ready to leave, and the kids are screaming and fighting the whole time because they were ready to leave hours ago and we're taking way too long.

We yell at the kids for yelling at us, and then we feel guilty and end up yelling at each other.

Then we sit in the car and stew about who yelled at who first, and what is your (insert spouse's name here) problem anyway. We have a long drive and a long couple of days ahead, and we don't want to spend the whole time arguing.

Then the kids start fighting. The Princess is hitting her brothers because they keep sticking their heads in her face because they are leaning over her trying to fight with each other because someone took someone else's toy, and they had it first, and give it back now.

And the Princess usually steals it from them both, and then screams her head off when they try to take it back, and Hubby and I usually end up screaming for everyone to be quiet, which one of the twins then feels obligated to point out that we're being loud, too. To which Hubby and I revert to six year olds ourselves, and everyone spends five minutes arguing about who yelled at who first.

Once we finally end this cycle of nonsense, Hubby and I are stressed and ticked off, and no one wants to talk to anyone. And then we arrive at our destination, and our families wonder what in the world everyone is so angry about.

And what does any of this have to do with romancing your spouse, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you. This year is going to be different because I am going to make a pointed effort to make it different. I'm going to try my hardest to stay calm in the face of chaos, and stand united with Hubby instead of letting the situation get out of control and turning on each other, too.

We're going to make a point of spending some time alone, even if it's just taking a short walk around the block after we arrive, to take the edge off the trip and enjoy just a moment of alone time.

Or we might do the dishes together.

Peel potatoes . . . together.

Set the table . . . together.

You get the idea. Traveling with kids is stressful. But we can't let it drive a wedge between us. No one wins, and we want to have the most pleasant holiday possible. So ANY time you can spend having a private moment with your honey is important. Take it where you can get it, and be sure to tell your sweetie you love them. And mean it.

I hope your Thanksgiving is a good one. Enjoy each other, and find a few moments alone with your spouse, even if you have to hide in a closet.

Later.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And the winner is...

Congratulations Karen you've won both books; Thirsty by Tracey Bateman & Touched by A Vampire by Beth Felker Jones!


I'll be sending you an email privately to get your mailing address.

Congratulations! Enjoy!

Amy

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dinner for two - Pasta Puttanesca

Many of you have asked us to continue the Dinner for Two series and since you are so important to us, we are happy to oblige your love of couple time as you linger over a delicious and easy meal. Here's to you and a happy marriage! Enjoy & God's blessings!


I found this recipe eons ago in a local newspaper when my husband and I first got married and moved to southern California and it's been a staple in our home ever since. Normally I pair this dish with a Caesar salad and of course, garlic bread to help "sop" up all those extra juices!


Pasta Puttanesca


4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

6 anchovy fillets, drained and mashed or 1.5 TBSP anchovy paste

3 TBSP. capers

1/8 crushed red pepper flakes - add a pinch more if you like it spicy!

1 handful Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 bunch fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp. dried basil

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

12 ounces spaghetti - cooked and drained - reserving a cup of the pasta liquid

Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses


Directions:


In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and saute garlic and anchovies, cook until dissolved. Stir in the next 5 ingredients and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If the sauce gets thick add in a little of the reserved pasta water. The sauce should not be pasty or runny, just saucy! :) Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and pour over pasta. Sprinkle with cheeses.


Voila! Dinner is served! And as they say in Italy...Mangia! Mangia! Eat! Eat!


As a side note: when I want this dish to be a little heartier, I've sauteed .5 pound of Italian sausage and added it to the sauce. The sausage compliments the sauce nicely and adds that little extra "oomph" factor that we need when my hubby has spent all day working in the garage. :)





Thursday, November 19, 2009

In sickness and in health

Want to find out how much your spouse really loves you? Just put the “in sickness” part of your wedding vows to the test!

And since this is the cold-and-flu season, we should have plenty of opportunities. I’m snuggled up in my jammies this week with a sore throat and stuffy head. Where is my husband? He’s been on a business trip. Convenient how he so often manages to be out of town while I’m home suffering! For two days I had to fix my own oatmeal for breakfast, heat up canned chicken noodle soup for lunch, zap a Lean Cuisine for supper, and generally take care of myself (and the dogs!).

Seriously, my sweetie doesn’t travel that much, and he’s usually very considerate and attentive when I’m sick. His “love language” is Acts of Service, so he takes great pleasure in doing little things for me even when I’m well.

However, one of my main “love languages” is Quality Time, and since my husband is often so busy doing, he forgets how much I appreciate his just being--his presence, focus, and attention. Especially when I’m sick, I enjoy comforting words, a foot rub, being read to, or just having my sweetie sit with me. The good news is, if I ask him, he usually obliges.

Whether you’re sick or healthy, what speaks love to you? Are some of your spouse’s messages getting lost in translation? Maybe it’s time to sit down together for a “language lesson.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game On!!

The other day as our boys were hanging out with their friends, looked across the room as my husband who had a zombie look pasted on his face and thought, “It’s time for a little fun!” But what’s a couple to do with a houseful of boys under their feet? Hmmm, time for some quick thinking…

Our youngest child is to say the least, a hockey freak! The child lives NHL. In fact, a few years ago, one of his teachers told us in a parent-teacher conference that she’d finally figured out the only way to get him to pay attention in math class was to put the problems into hockey terms, as in … “If a hockey team was sitting on the bench waiting to hit the ice and the Zamboni ran over two of the sticks, how many sticks would be left?” Way to go Teach!

All this to say, our child has an air hockey table in his room. Surprised? Don’t be. In fact, I think our son would much rather sleep on top of the table rather than in his own bed, but a mom’s gotta put her foot down somewhere, don’t you agree? So while the kids were busy burning out their brains on video games with their friends, I grabbed my husband and challenged him to a game of air hockey.

Now to some this may not sound like any fun. However, let me just say, I am a lone woman in a sea of males, and when times get desperate, the desperate play sports! With a wink and a nod he knew not to say a lick about what we were going to go do to the troops laying at our feet, lest they spoil our fun. Ever so quietly we made our way down the hall to our son’s room, quietly locked the door behind us and flicked on the table. Yahooie! Game On!

Now I will say that nothing spurs on my husband like a little healthy competition. He knows he can beat me at well, basically anything sports related and I’m ok with that. Yet having grown up with 2 older brothers, I’d like to think that I could hold my own… at least for a minute or two.

So there we were, jostling for the puck, slamming it down the boards and lovin’ every minute of it. Of course, it took all of 3.2 seconds for the boys to come pounding on the door…thank heavens for locks! They begged, they pleaded, they whined. Naturally we did what every other married couple would do in our situation, we screamed, “Go away! Leave us alone!”

When the kids realized we were not opening the door, they headed back to their video games and we continued our match. Pucks hit the wall, bounced off our son’s dresser and I think we may have chipped some paint off his desk, but…o-well, nothing a little touch-up won’t fix.

For the next half hour we laughed, cheered and taunted each other about one another’s awesome air hockey skills.

When at last the hockey paddles were laid down, we knew we’d built another fun memory. One that included me winning 2 games, I might add. Ok, ok, so we played 10 and he took the other 8 but who’s counting? You’re right; we both are which means there will be a rematch soon, very, very soon!


Spur of the moment games can be lots of fun. If gives you a chance to talk smack, beef up each other’s bravado and simply laugh until your sides hurt. Who says kids get all the fun anyway? So get out there, go hit a bucket of golf balls, play a game of ping-pong or shoot some pucks.



Comedian Victor Borge once said, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." Grab your spouse, spark a some laughter and get a little closer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog Tour Continues with a 2 book giveaway!

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope that you’re off to a great week. To help get things started in the right direction, I’ll be posting two reviews with a chance to win a copy of both books. Just read the review, post a comment and we’ll put your name in the hat. Winners will be announced on Sunday! Good luck and happy reading!

Touched by a Vampire – Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga
Beth Felker Jones
Multnomah Publishers

Back Cover:

Examining Twilight through a biblical lens.
People around the world are enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephanie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy – it’s teaching girls about love, sex and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire investigates the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers and youth workers. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.


My take:

Everyone you talk to nowadays has Twilight on the brain. Don’t you just love Bella and Edward? Isn’t he the most romantic guy you’ve ever seen? Wouldn’t you love to be Bella? On and on they rave until you have to read for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Millions of fans are raving about this new series by Stephanie Meyer and everyone seems to have their hands on a copy of these books and have waited in lines to see the movie. But as I was told as a child, everything that glitters is not gold. Such is the case, when you consider loving a vampire or a werewolf.

So what’s a parent or teacher working with teens to do when faced with teenagers who idolize this love story?

Enter in, Touched by a Vampire by Beth Felker Jones. Ms. Felker Jones has clearly done her homework and compared the angst-ridden teenage love story against God’s biblical teaching of what is true, right and pure.

Within in each chapter Ms. Felker Jones gives us the opportunity to talk with our loved ones about God’s love for us through the use of thought-provoking questions. Each chapter uncovers hidden truths that will get your mentee thinking twice about the glamour and the glory of being in love with a vampire.

For example, in chapter 2 titled, Dazzled, Ms. Felker Jones showcases the all-consuming love that Bella has for Edward and is quick to point out, “We shouldn’t view the destructive power of the love between Bella and Edward through rose-tinted glasses. At first glance, it seems passionate and intense to this about loving someone so much that you would die for him or die without him. Death should not be taken so lightly. Death is a terrible enemy, a monster that leaves grief in its wake.”

These types of comparisons are highly important topics that need to be discussed as you talk with your children and even your friends about the truths behind the Saga. Touched by a Vampire is a must-have tool in separating fiction from God’s truth as it applies to true love and how it is truly meant to be.

5 stars


For purchasing information please visit: http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/
***This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review purposes only. No cash or payment of any type was received for this review.***

Blog Tour - Book # 2

Thirsty
Tracey Bateman
WaterBrook Press



Back Cover:

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, THEY SAY.

“Hello, I’m Nina Parker…and I’m an alcoholic.”For Nina, it’s not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier—and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone—or something—igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like wildfire.Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina’s feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfolds to its startling, unforgettable end.



My take:

Ok, I have to admit, I’m a chicken. I don’t do horror movies, those paranormal shows scare me and Stephen King is not, I repeat, NOT my friend. So to be honest, I agreed to read and review Thirsty by Tracey Bateman for 2 reasons: first, I really enjoy Tracey Bateman’s writing. She’s an incredible writer with talent galore, especially when it comes to the Westward Hearts series –a few of my all time favorites! Secondly, I grabbed a chance to read her latest book, out of pure curiousity. Christian vampire fiction, really? There exists such a thing? How is that possible? Let’s see…

Nina Parker is a captivating heroine battling to get her life back on track after years of alcohol abuse. She’s lost everything: a thriving career, a gorgeous husband and her 2 sweet children. And when she heads back home after a stint in rehab you’d think she’d be on the road to recovery, right? Well, yes and no. Going home is never easy, especially when you have to face those you’ve hurt and those you’ve lied to. To compound the situation Nina’s teenage daughter has a major attitude problem and the once peaceful small town is being threatened by someone or something that is killing its residents and animals.

Thirsty is a captivating story about a woman who’s made all the right choices only to blow them all to pieces because of her addiction. Nina is a dynamic heroine who learns that she can be stronger than her addiction, one step and one day at a time even when life is hard and there’s a vampire waiting your return.

I have to mention there were two uncomfortable parts to reading Thirsty. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a scaredy-cat and I don’t like things that go bump in the night, so a few of the scenes in the book were a bit too graphic for me. However, for those of you who love horror movies with Freddie, Jason and Chucky, I’m sure you’ll feel right at home with the eerieness that caused me to look over my shoulder more than once. Enjoy!

Now for the tough part. This one area was a sticking point for me as a Christian reader. And while it may not be that important to some, for me, leaving out the God element in this book, left me feeling very disappointed. Thirsty parallels Nina’s thirst for alcohol and the vampires thirst for Nina. Ok, no problem. I also get that the book is a vampire story. No problem. So where’s the problem? No God.

I was able to suspend my disbelief about vampires and enjoy a really good book about struggles, sacrifice and redemption, but I wanted to see Nina understand and accept that God was in her life either because she came to know him because of her alcoholism or by seeing him mirrored in the lives of those she loved. However that did not happen. With one minor exception, there was little to no mention of God throughout the entire book. Now I understand metaphors and the good vs. evil battlefield. Obviously we're given evil by way of the vampire and his adversary, but where was the good? Where was God? I wish it had been clearly spelled out so that I could’ve not only cheered on Nina’s success over addiction, I could’ve read with anticipation as God trampled over evil once again.


Overall, I'd rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars for the author's ability to tell an excellent story - I just wish God had been prevelant in this Christian fiction story.

For purchasing information please visit: www. waterbrookmultnomah.com

*** This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review purposes only, no cash or payment was received for this review.***

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And the winner is...

Camille!

CONGRATULATIONS Camille!

Thanks to all who stopped by and posted. We, here at Romance Your Spouse appreciate your following and feedback and look forward to many opportunities to hear from you!

Be on the lookout tomorrow for another chance to win a free book. This week I'll be giving away 2 books to one lucky winner! Stay tuned and keep posting!

God's blessings to all,
Amy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just The Two of Us


Again. :) The kids all went on a church teen retreat this past weekend. They love going to those and Dan and I love that they do.

Once again we had the house to ourselves and a weekend to just go with the flow--and get some early Christmas shopping in. On Friday evening we went to browse for gifts and out to eat. Dan let me choose and of course I picked one of my favorite places--Olive Garden. The food was great, the time together even greater and we enjoyed talking about what to get everyone.

On Saturday, we left the house early so we could get that shopping done and be back for the football games Dan wanted to watch. We looked again, then made our decisions and I'm happy to say that most of our major shopping is done.

After lunch, we came home and I got in some household chores and a little writing while Dan watched the first of his games. A break for supper at IHop--his choice this time, and we had time to stop at Target before game time once more. Back at home, I hid all the gifts and read a little while the game was on.

It was a great weekend with time to just be together, whether we were talking or just keeping each other company. More romantic than it might sound--it's a blessing to love doing that, still, after all these years. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Book Tour and Book Giveaway!

This week I have been invited by Water Brook Press to showcase White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner. We invite you to take a moment and read the review and post a comment. Every person who leaves a comment will be automatically entered for a chance to wina copy of White Picket Fences. The winner will be announced on Friday!

White Picket Fences
Susan Meissner
Water Brook Press 2009
http://www.randomhouse.com/


Amanda and Neil Janvier and their two children, Delcey and Chase are the Norman Rockwell poster family of the 21st century complete with a proverbial white picket fence. However, when Amanda's brother disappears, leaving behind his sixteen year old daughter Tally, Amanda steps in to offer the normalcy of family life.

Chase and Tally team up to complete a school project interviewing two Holocaust survivors. But as they dig deeper into the history of the survivors they begin to unearth keys that will unlock many truths of the past that will possibly destroy the Janvier family. Can Tally help the Janvier's look for the truth and keep their family from falling apart? Or will long ago secrets destroy this perfect little family?

Author Susan Meissner has once again touched the heart of family relationships in her latest book, White Picket Fences. Through throught provoking characters and situational dynamics we learn the destruction that takes place when secrets are kept hidden. Ms. Meissner show us in White Picket Fences, the harder we try to hide a secret, the more it tends to surface in our lives. And what started out as a way to protect our loved ones, only leads to shame and heartache until, in the end, the truth is told.

For purchase information please visit http://www.randomhouse.com/

***This book was provided by Water Brook Press for review purposes only, no cash, or payment was received for this review.***

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Run for the door!

Like many of you out there, I'm a very busy mother. My life is constantly packed with work, daily chores, running children all over God’s green earth and taking care of my hubby who travels for work. It's not hard to imagine that we, as a couple don’t have much alone time. More times than not, our mantra feels like “seek, conquer and divide,” especially on the weekends when we're busy trying to balance sports and church activities and getting together with family and friends. Now don't get me wrong, we LOVE our family, truly we do, however, there are times when we both need some quality time just the two of us without one of our kids jumping on our very last nerve! {{grin}}

In fact this past month, for one reason or another, our life has been especially challenging. There never seemed to be more than just a scant half hour for meal time before we were being torn in a multitude of different directions. I dread those times, ya know the ones where you simply feel as if you're robots stuck in survival mode, ya those times. No fun, no giggling, just work, work, work. Blah, blah, blah, ugh! It's draining.

So last night as I returned home from gathering kids from school and sports, a lightbulb clicked on…it’s early afternoon, there are leftovers, a microwave and it’s a beautiful day outside AND none of the kids needed to be anywhere. What? How did this happen?! Immediately my mind went into overdrive. I pulled my hubby aside. Could he possibly sneak away from work a little early? Yes? Hot dog! We’re outta here!

Without a second thought, I yanked out the leftover spaghetti for the kids, gave reheating directions, a firm directive to finish their homework, grabbed my hubby and out the door we flew!


A gorgeous evening to ourselves! Wahoo! I think we left tire tracks in the driveway!! We headed to the lake, took a nice long walk and tried a new restaurant.

Let me tell you folks, those few hours were wonderful! Little did we realize just how much we needed a break from our daily grind. We laughed, talked about the kids, plans for vacations and simply kicked back and relaxed. Absolutely wonderful!


The problem for most of us is remembering to enjoy each other’s company. We’re so bogged down with responsibilities that we forget who we were as a couple before mortgages, kids and bills.

Ya know what made this fun? Spontaneity. My husband teased me about how fast I pulled out dinner for the kids and got their homework organized in order to get out the door. He swore there was smoke coming from my shoes from zipping around the house so quickly!

So, if an opportunity to grab a few precious hours alone with your sweetie presents itself don't think twice, just hit the door running!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holidays On The Way

Hello.

Normally, I am a plan ahead kind of gal, but rarely do I get the execution taken care of in a timely manner.

With the holiday season gearing up, it is easy to plan where you'll spend your holidays. Which side of the family gets Thanksgiving and who gets Christmas. If you're like us and both sides of the family are within easy driving distance, you might have more of a problem.

Then there are the kids activities this time of year, with school and church programs, class parties, etc.

So how do you and your spouse survive this time of the year with your sanity intact and your sense of romance going strong?

You plan. Just like you plan for the holiday meals and Christmas program, you plan time with your honey.

It may not be uber-romantic. It may not be spontaneous. It may not sweep you off your feet in a wave of soul-stirring passion, but seriously, did it really do that to begin with?

So work in the time whenever and however you can.

Spending an afternoon grocery shopping for a party? Make plans with your spouse to meet for an early lunch. Try not to focus on the stresses of the day when you're talking over the meal. Focus on the positives and the fun of sneaking in some time together.

Plan a wrapping/football watching afternoon together. You need to wrap presents, and he wants to watch the game. Get the kids out of the house (or lock them in their room), pop some popcorn, bake some cookies, and snack and hangout together.

Get the kids in bed a little early (and this may require extra effort during the day to wear them out) and spend the evening cuddled up in front of a fire, or watching the snow fall, or gazing at the stars, and enjoying the drink of your choice (whether it's wine or a Diet Coke).

Just remember, do your best to keep connected during the holiday season, and it will make for even more holiday cheer . . . and keep you from biting each others' heads off when things get stressful.

Later.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Romance Realities

Hello.

Well, over the weekend, between t-ball games, meetings, traveling, and baby showers (3 in all), I managed to fit in a little time to talk to my husband.

It was mostly on the trip home while the children were passed out cold in the backseat.

Hubby was very sweet and indulged me in letting me talk about the book I am trying to get finished this week. I discussed a scene I had already finished where the couple in my book have been arguing and fighting their growing attraction for reasons of personal baggage.

Hubby smiled politely, but I caught the slight eye roll.

"What?"

"I didn't say anything." He stared straight ahead.

"You're thinking something."

"No, I'm not." He sounded a little tense.

"You rolled your eyes."

"I didn't." Now he sounded desperate to change the subject.

"What?! Just tell me already."

Now he was more afraid of not telling me. "Okay. Fine. It's just that these two people have been fighting, right?"

"Yes."

"You've set it up to where they are so angry and annoyed with each other they are ready to strangle each other."

"Pretty much, yeah." I smile, thinking of all the chaos and mayhem in store for my characters.

"Then you have them kissing each other's lips off."

My smile gets bigger, thinking of all the tension and feeling going into the kiss. "Yes."

He shrugged. "Well, I don't ever remember us having a fight that ended up with us smooching all over each other."

Hmmm. "Sure we did." Didn't we?

He just raised his eyebrows at me, the look that said, 'Oh, come on. Who are you trying to kid here?'

And the longer I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. He'd go to the garage to work or mow the lawn or go back to watching the game. I'd go read a book (most likely romance), watch TV, or clean something until we cooled down.

Not a lot of lip-lock action going on before, during, or after our fight.

But maybe I should give it a try. Push the negative emotions aside and wrap Hubby in a kiss that curls his toes.

It would probably end the fight a lot faster and put us on the path to making up much sooner.

We'll see how it goes.

Hope you all have a great week and some smoochy-time with your sweetie, but hopefully no fights.

Later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wedding Anniversary

Hello everyone.

This past weekend marked my 11th Wedding Anniversary.

The kids were on Fall Break, and my mother-in-law graciously offered to take the children for a couple of days to give us some desperately needed alone time.

And to be honest, I don't think I realized just how badly Hubby and I needed this time together until we were sitting on the couch the first night they were gone. He looked at me with a mixture of intense relief and happiness, and said, "I'm so glad we're married."

Bestill my heart!

But actually, it surprised me a little, the depth of emotion in his statement. I guess sometimes I forget he needs quiet, uninterrupted time with me just like I need that time with him.

I'm the touchy, feely romantic one in our marriage. Don't get me wrong, Hubby comes up with some really wonderful, romantic gestures.

But I don't think about him needing time with me when I'm not the mother of his children or the practical wife. The one who works with him to keep our household running . . . not running smoothly, mind you . . . just running.

And to keep our children from killing themselves, each other, or us in some tragically funny way.

I forget he needs time just to be with me, the woman he met and fell in love with years ago. And I am still her, buried under layers of mom and wife, home-maker and writer, daughter, sister, and friend . . . and extra pounds, but we won't go there today.

The layers fall away (if only it were so easy with the extra pounds) and there's only us. Enjoying the quiet, talking about what we still want out of life, and remembering why we're still in love.

If you can find a way to get alone-time, take it. Talk. Go for quiet walks. Have dinner together. Make dinner together. Don't worry about making it fancy. Just savor the moment.

Later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anybody got a crowbar?

Confession time. I may write romance novels, but that doesn’t mean my everyday life is particularly romantic. In fact, more often than not, my life is decidedly unromantic.

So I have to ask myself, Whose fault is that?

Can I blame my husband for not being more creative in the romance department?

Can I blame work demands for draining our energy for romance?

Can I blame too much TV, too much Internet, too many chores, too many books in my TBR stack?

It’s much easier to tick off a dozen reasons like these instead of zeroing in on the real culprit--ME.

The solution sounds simple enough--eliminate what distractions I can and reprioritize the rest.

Unfortunately, there’s also the issue of fear. Fear of change. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Somehow the old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” doesn’t necessarily instill romantic confidence.

In fact, anytime we make excuses about our lack of romantic creativity (are you listening, sweetie???), I’m pretty sure that’s our own fear talking.

The problem is, once you settle into a rut, it’s not so easy to pry yourself out of it. As we’ve said so many times here at RYS, romance must be intentional. If I want romance in my life, I have to be proactive about it. Alter my TV watching habits. Change out of my baggy sweats once in a while. Exchange Wheel of Fortune for a romantic CD and candlelight dinner (even if it is takeout).

Yep, I’m thinking I need to get hold of a good, sturdy crowbar and start prying.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Be Read - One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson






One Imperfect Christmas
Myra Johnson
Abingdon Press
ISBN# 9-787770-052767
5 stars



The holidays, most especially can lend itself to one of two camps, those that love Christmas and those who slightly resemble one of Charles Dickens famous characters. I, however, completely relish every single second of the Christmas holiday season. The moment Thanksgiving dinner is over, I pull out my Christmas music, start decorating all while I’m enjoying a piece of pumpkin pie, of course!

But since I still have a little bit of time before I crawl up into the attic and start pulling down Christmas decorations, I chose to settle into my favorite cozy chair and read Myra Johnson’s debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas. What a true delight!

One Imperfect Christmas tells the story of Natalie Pearce whose faith in God, her family and friends is sorely tested when her mother suffers a debilitating stroke while taking down the holiday decorations. Natalie can’t seem to get past the burdening thought that had she been present to help her mother take down the decorations, she somehow might have been able to prevent her mother’s current condition.

As she struggles to accept her mother’s health condition, her workaholic husband and a tempermental teenager compound life. And as if that were not enough, as Natalie learns that someone is sabotaging her new business venture while the mounting pressures of the emotional guilt she’s carrying around begins to take its toll on her and her loved ones. Will Natalie be able to accept the healing love of through her family be enough to help her cope as the new holiday season approaches or will everything she loves and cares for, all fall to pieces like a shattered Christmas ornament?

What I loved about One Imperfect Christmas is Ms. Johnson’s way of reminding us through this story that life is not without its struggles and heartaches, even in the most beautiful and special times of the year. We see through Natalie that life can be filled with heartache, depression, fear and uncertainty. Yet there is one thing that always remains steadfast and true, God’s love for us.

If you want a good book that will capture your heart and not let it go from the moment you pick it up, this will be the book for you. I encourage you pick up a copy and enjoy all that One Imperfect Christmas has to share. Happy Holidays!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Okay, I have a confession to make.

I know I like to think I am the normal, stable, equalizing force in our marriage. The woman who brings out the best qualities in my husband, while striving to bring out the best qualities in myself, as well.

And in a sense, this is true.

But I don't think I give enough credit to my Dear Hubby.

The past week has been a perfect example.

I have been trying to make great strides to finish the manuscript I have been working on so I can submit it to an editor. Hubby gave me as much time as he could so I could write, even though his schedule at work has been crazy-busy.

And in the process, our house fell into even more chaos than usual.

So this weekend we were working on getting the house picked up and fighting our way through the jungle of laundry. And when I get my teeth in a project, it pretty much takes the Jaws of Life to pry me away from it.

The extra project I took on was sorting through our daughter's clothes, weeding out the things that don't fit anymore, trying to match up the clothes that do, storing the summer clothes for next year, and washing 8 huge crates of hand-me-downs given to us by Hubby's VERY generous aunt.

It took hours and hours to go through all those clothes. I know Hubby had other things he would rather have been doing, but he also knew it was important to me to get this project out of the way. So he bit the bullet and helped me wash, sort, fold, and put everything away.

It was a very generous, kind thing to do, and I really appreciated his effort.

So now it's my turn to do something equally generous on his behalf. And hopefully I will do it without whining, because Hubby was a really good sport about it, and kept his complaints to a minimum. I'm also pretty sure letting him watch a baseball game and two football games while we worked helped in the complaint department, but I'll take what I can get.

Later.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dinner for two please!


Hello everyone! It's been a long time, but I'm glad to finally be back with you.

In an effort to encourage everyone to share more one on one time with their loved one, I’ve been given permission to post weekly dinners geared specifically just for two.

This week I hope you’ll join me as I prepare one our favorite dishes. Salmon with roasted baby red potatoes and asparagus.

What’s nice about this recipe besides the fact that it’s easy to prepare and delicious, our kids hate it! Now that may sound a bit selfish, but let’s be honest most of us share quite a bit with our kids, so forgive me if I encourage to break away from the norm and make some time just for you and your hubby. Let's face it, we need it!

Now normally when we’re having our dinner date, I usually throw in a pizza for the kids, let them eat early and then send them out to play while our dinner is cooking. This way they’re happy mom’s not forcing them to eat horrible, nasty, smelly things and we, get to spend very precious time together without interruption. Gotta love it!

One other tidbit I’d like to share. Years ago, when my husband and I were dating, he went to the trouble to buy place settings for the two of us to use during the one and only meal he’s ever made for me! Haha! Needless to say, we still use those dishes when it’s our dinner date night. Those dishes bring back great memories of a very special Valentine’s dinner and encourage us subtly to constantly look forward to many more.

So go ahead, let the kids eat on paper plates, but for you and your sweetie, pull out the china, light some candles and enjoy a nice meal together. Take the time to enjoy each other, and remember it started with the two of you and once the kiddies are grown, it’ll be the two of you again so let's enjoy the walk along the way! With much love & many blessings! Until next week, Amy


Pecan encrusted Salmon dinner with roasted baby red potatoes & asparagus

Oven roasted baby red potatoes
1 lb. Baby red potatoes washed and halved. Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. Chopped garlic
½ tsp. Crushed rosemary
Olive oil - enough to coat veggies

Wash potatoes & halve. Par boil for approximately 10 minutes. Do not allow potatoes to get mushy. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and toss. Spread on a baking sheet and bake @ 425* until golden brown. Approximately 25 minutes.

Pecan Encrusted Salmon
Ingredients
2 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Directions
Place salmon skin side down on a greased baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the mayo, pecans, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley; spoon generously over salmon. Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Roasted asparagus

1lb. Asparagus – washed and cleaned, dead ends cut off.
Sea salt & pepper
Olive oil

Toss asparagus with seasonings to your liking, add to the baking sheet with the potatoes and cook until al dente. Approximately 10-15 minutes depending on how thick the stalks are.


Cooking timeline note: If you’ll start with the potatoes and let them roast for approximately 10 minutes, it’ll give you the time to prep the salmon and asparagus which can then be added to the oven and everything will come out at once. I normally cook the veggies together on one sheet and the salmon on its own baking sheet to keep the flavors from mingling but if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, feel free to put them all on one baking sheet, veggies at one end, fish on the other. Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Parenthood/Romance Balance

Okay.

I know last week I blogged about regular routines, and our (my hubby and me) efforts to establish good habits with busy schedules, and we would later try building in more time for romance.

And when I wrote that post I faithfully believed we would find a way to work those special moments into our week.

Ha!

Try explaining that to our two year old daughter.

If you are married with a toddler, you have my sympathies. This is a new, fascinating time for your child. They are learning quickly, absorbing knowledge like a little sponge, soaking it all in and making their adoring parents so proud.

And frustrated.

Because they are learning quickly. Too quickly.

My daughter has already figured out how to use the childproof doorknob covers to keep her out of, or in, certain rooms.

She can climb in or on ANYTHING she has a mind to: dressers, desks, tables, beds, counters, etc; and knows all the drawers and cabinets she's not supposed to be getting into . . . and then DOES! No area of the house is safe from her.

And naptime . . . gone. She refuses to take an afternoon nap, and frankly, Mommy needs her writing time about as desperately as she needs oxygen.

And going to bed at night . . . forget it. She's climbing out of her crib, opening her bedroom door (by bypassing the doorknob cover), and running into the living room where Hubby and I are trying to have a conversation . . . Oh, I don't know, fifteen or twenty thousand times a night!

SO all our plans for shared moments of romance and connecting are pretty much on hold until we can figure out a way to deal with out precious, but oh, so annoying daughter.

But we aren't giving up. I refuse to believe that we have no hope of grown-up time until she's five or older. We got there with the twins, and it took a while, but we made it. I figure we'll make it with her too, we've just gotta be persistent.

I guess today's post is more about hope. Don't give up on the idea of romantic time alone with your spouse, because even if you missed the mark today, there's always tomorrow.

Later.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Regular Routines

Hello, all.

So sorry the blog has been silent for the last week. It's been a crazy, crazy time at our house with a conference, the kids' activities, Hubby's job being super busy, a new baby in the family . . . the list goes on and on.

And as busy as we've been, one thing we've managed to do is spend 30 minutes-1 hour together every night to catch up on our day, plan our schedules for the next couple of days, and just take some time to decompress together.

This is the time of year when it seems like everything gets going again with school, and routines get established, and it's a good time to get into good habits with your spouse, too.

So Hubby and I will continue our nightly debriefing, we'll probably watch a little TV together to unwind, and hopefully we'll continue to incorporate more romance in our lives as the fall season moves in.

Hope you all have a wonderful week, and do something special for your sweetie.

Later.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Role Reversal

As you’re reading this, I’m in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. This year marks another major shift for me. Things had already changed dramatically around this time last year, when I’d recently signed my very first book publishing contract (with no idea a second one was only weeks away!). Now that my debut novel has been released, I’m anticipating my first time ever to participate in the huge multi-author book signing event this Saturday!

What does any of this have to do with romance, you may ask? I’m getting to that.

Here I am a couple of years away from . . . well, let’s just say my high school class held their 40-year reunion last summer . . . and my writing career has suddenly jumped into hyperdrive!

In the meantime, my husband, who took early retirement a few years ago from SBC (now AT&T) and is now a part-time consultant, has more and more free time on his hands.

Talk about role reversal!!! My husband could just as easily complain that I’m spending way too much time writing, too much time stressing over book promotion, too much time networking on blogs and social sites.

And not enough time doing fun stuff with him.

But he’s also walked with me every step of this writing journey, through 25+ years of finding time to write while raising a family, crying over rejections, celebrating contest wins and manuscript sales. He knows how much it means to me, how hard I’ve worked and how long I’ve prayed to reach this point.

See, that’s what romance is all about--sharing each other’s dreams, supporting each other through sorrow and celebration. Being willing to shift gears and give the other person space and freedom to pursue those dreams.

My sweet husband now does most of the grocery shopping, the occasional load of laundry, vacuuming, and general errands. He’s even willing to get supper started (provided I give him some clue of where to begin), and he has always, our entire married life together, done the dishes after supper.

Think about it. What sacrifices has your spouse made to enable you to pursue a dream? Have you done the same for your sweetheart? Are you willing to try?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You know you're almost at your third trimester when...

Can I just say how much I've enjoyed the second trimester of my pregnancy? Feeling the baby kick (a lot! I think she's going to be a dancer or a soccer player), losing the nausea, not having major back pains yet, not having as many hormonal surges...



...well, I think it's safe to say I am nearing the third trimester (27 weeks and counting).


This morning I was all set to go to work, makeup on and everything, ready to walk out the door. Then all of a sudden I am crying and I can't stop.


THANKFULLY, my hubby was home and didn't have to be at work until later in the morning. He has learned a lot since the early days of this first pregnancy (him: "what is wrong with you?" me: "it's called hormones and I CAN'T HELP IT!")


He was able to get me calmed down with a lot of hugs and calling in our dogs to give me kisses (can't help smiling when they do that). THEN he took me out for breakfast, which was completely spontaneous and helped me get hold of the rest of my composure before coming in to work. Needless to say, major husband points were earned today.


Even though the mid-week, mid-morning date was unusual and fun (and necessary!), the part that made me feel really special was how he prioritized and put my needs in front of everything else that was going on.


Now I just need to find a way to reciprocate tonight… maybe make a special dinner that I know he loves?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thankful for a Supportive Husband

In just a few short days I will be on my way to the same writer's conference Janet mentioned in last Thursday's post.

And though I am not so fortunate to have my hubby going with me to Denver, I am fortunate to have a hubby who understands and supports my dream.

Money is tight for us at the moment, and we discussed at great length if going to this conference was the right move. I've had the money saved for the trip for six months or more. I was willing to forgo the conference and save the money for something else we might need.

But Hubby said no. He wanted me to go to Denver, take the workshops, meet with other writers, and make connections with possible editors and agents. He would take a couple of days off work to look after the kids, and also beg my mother to help out (which she agreed to do), and they would all be fine.

And since I know what a trial it can be for a dad to handle the kids all by himself when he usually works full time, it meant even more to me that he insisted I go.

Now I will return the generous gesture and find a way to give him the break he needs in the coming months.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fabulous week and find the chance to do something sweet for your sweetie.

Later.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting Away Again

It's conference time again and Dan and I will be leaving for Denver next week. This time we're going to stay an extra night or two at the hotel, so that we can visit with family living there, and we'll be making a stop at Dodge City on the way home for some research material. We have decided to take more time on these trips, get off the interstate once in awhile and see what we can find, drawing out the time together.

And while we're looking at this as another chance to have some time to ourselves--our kids are looking at it as the same for them--so everyone is happy.

As always, it will be good to meet up with old friends and meet new ones and learn more about this writing business I'm in. There is a golf course very close to the hotel we'll be staying at and Dan is thinking about taking his golf clubs. Several of my writer friends' husbands will be there too, so I'm sure he'll find lots to do while I'm in classes, etc.

But busy as it gets at these conferences, it's great to have him with me. We've been walking regularly lately, and we're hoping we'll be able to get our walks in around the hotel, too. It will be a good time to reconnect and I'm sure we'll have plenty to share with each other at the end of the day. We've found that just being there for each other is one of the best ways to show how much we love each other and we're looking forward to getting away again.



Monday, September 7, 2009

I Gotta Crush On You

Sorry about the trouble with the blog over the last week, but I think all the problems are fixed and we should be back in action.

So . . . on to my topic of the week.

As I mentioned in a previous post - I think - I have been watching a new show on TV. The show itself isn't really "new", its just new to me.

And I have a total crush on the male lead, Jeffrey Donovan, in this series. It's hard to say if I have a crush on the actor from the show, or the character he plays, Michael Westen. I think maybe it's a little of both.

Now, my husband finds this amusing. He points out to me, "Hey, your dream guy is taking his shirt off. You might wanna hurry up with the popcorn."

And I'm in the kitchen yelling, "Rewind it! Rewind it!"

He also happens to find the female lead, Gabrielle Anwar, very attractive, and it doesn't bother me a bit. Because I know I am committed to my hubby, and he's committed to me. We have a joke that if Reese Witherspoon shows up on our doorstep one day and wants to steal my husband away that he'll probably have to go, and the same goes for Ben Affleck and me, but you get the idea.

There isn't any jealousy or hurt feelings when we discuss having a crush on someone else, since we know it's not really an issue.

SO now I have a question for you all.

How do you feel about your spouse having a crush on someone else?

Feel free to leave comments on this topic, but just make sure to keep it respectful. I fully reserve the right to delete ugly or negative comments. :) Hey, my blog, my rules.

Later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unromantic Weekend...?

Okay, so I spent all weekend sick and didn't have much enthusiasm about thinking about being romantic. I was ecstatic that the laundry and dishes got done (sorry, vaccuuming... maybe I'll get to you soon).

However...

My husband WAS being a romantic, even if it wasn't conscious on his part. Maybe it was. But I doubt it.

What did he do that was so romantic?

Friday night he picked up dinner and some movies and treated me like a queen - waited on me hand and foot. Saturday he didn't complain about me lounging around the house, resting & recuperating. Sunday he tag-teamed with me to get the laundry done.

You've probably heard before that the "little things" add up, and they do, but in this case my romantic feelings towards him stemmed from his attitude.

Even though hubby was tired out from working all week and could've complained about having to wait on/help out his sick, pregnant wife, he didn't. He waited on me with a cheerful heart. He helped out without even being asked.

So kudos, honey! Major brownie points for you!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fair is Fair

For all the things my husband and I have in common, there are probably just as many, if not more, things we don't have in common.

Our taste in movies would be one good example. I'm all about the feel-good romantic comedy; The Proposal, Sleepless in Seattle. Hubby is more interested in the dark, intense saga; The Godfather, anything by Quentin Tarantino.

So yesterday Hubby wants to watch a movie together while the kids are napping and/or playing. And since I have been the one to pick out the flicks we've seen lately, he insisted it was his turn. Fair is fair, and I crossed my fingers, hoping he would pick something suited more to my tastes.

Um, no.

He goes for the movie with lots of violence, cursing, and gore.

So I spend the majority of the movie hiding behind my hands and peeking out through my fingers.

But . . . I gotta say, whoever did the soundtrack for this movie knew what they were doing. I got to listen to some great songs, and Hubby got his fill of guys getting blown up.

I guess this silly story is to say that even though you may not be on the same page as your spouse, if you have a good attitude about it, you might find something you enjoy in the experience.

Keep it in mind the next time you have to be fair to your honey.

Later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 inexpensive things to do as a couple

Let’s face it--the economy hasn’t been very favorable for expensive dates or romantic getaways. But togetherness really doesn’t have to cost anything to be worth the effort. Here are ten suggestions for spending some inexpensive quality time with your sweetheart:
  1. The popcorn/drink special at Target. For only a buck fifty or so, you get a bag of popcorn and medium soft drink--can’t beat that anywhere! My sweetie and I like to find a spot in the back where we can enjoy each other’s company as we people-watch. It’s relaxing, fun, and oh-so-cheap!
  2. Window-shop at the mall. Okay, this one may be a little dangerous for your pocketbook if you happen to spy something you just can’t live without. But walking the mall is good exercise. It can also be a pleasant time of exchanging ideas and dreaming together about your future.
  3. Bargain matinee at the movies. Even better, maybe you have a discount theater in your neighborhood. The movies may not be the most recent releases, but what’s more romantic than holding hands and stealing kisses in a darkened theater?
  4. Walking the dogs at the park. Just as fun if you don’t have pets. Like the mall, good exercise. And there’s something about the forward momentum of a quiet walk to encourage pleasant conversation.
  5. Act like kids again. Find a park or schoolyard with a playground and take turns pushing each other on a swing or going down a slide. Brave the merry-go-round only if you think your tummy can take it!
  6. Read to each other. Try a series of books like The Chronicles of Narnia. Have fun with accents and dramatic voice inflections. My sweetie and I tried this one year, and it became one of our most treasured couple memories.
  7. Stargaze. Just Google “sky map” for a list of sites where you can learn what’s visible in your area and how to identify what you find. If you have a telescope, so much the better.
  8. Play a board game. It helps if you’re not too competitive, but games like Yahtzee and Scrabble are great two-person games and a fun way to stay connected.
  9. Garden together. If you have a green thumb--or even if you don’t--tending a garden or even just a few potted plants can become a shared activity and pleasant escape from the daily grind.
  10. Become birdwatchers. For a few dollars you can purchase a guidebook about birds in your area. Then spend a little money on seed and a feeder and have fun keeping track together of how many different kinds of birds visit your backyard.
That’s my list. What other ideas can you come up with? Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will have a chance to win a copy of my debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, about a couple who must find their way back to each other after tragedy drives them apart. Contest ends midnight Sunday, August 23, and the winner will be contacted by e-mail, so be sure to log in with a valid e-mail address.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Okay, Hubby and I had a really sweet romantic moment this weekend.

There was supposed to be a meteor shower a few nights ago. I wasn't feeling well the night the shower was supposed to be at its peak, but the next night I was much better.

So Hubby and I got all the kids in bed, and even though it was early in the night, we went to take a look.

We crawled onto the trampoline and cuddled together with the warm evening breeze flowing around us. We held hands, and stared at the emerging stars, and talked. We only saw three shooting stars before we went back into the house to check on the children, but it was just a wonderful moment of feeling connected and being together.

I hope you are able to find a moment, whether sweet or silly or intense, of connection with your spouse this week.

Later.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reconnecting

Sometimes we all let life get so busy that we don't realize there's been a disconnect in our relationships--especially with our spouses. A couple of weeks ago when our kids took off for Colorado, my husband and I were looking forward to having some time to ourselves.

What we didn't realize was that we needed that time much more than we thought, but the Lord did. Somewhere in the last three years...after Katrina, moving from down South to Oklahoma, a sister passing away, adjusting to so many new things-- and many deadlines that first year we were here, we had, without even knowing it...disconnected.

It is easier to do than one might think. My husband was just retiring, I was busier than ever with my writing. We began to adjust to all that without actually doing it together. He adjusted by playing golf and watching television of an evening while I wrote; I adjusted by writing just about all the time. Oh we still did things together and there was never a doubt of our love for each other. But we weren't simply enjoying each other's company, talking, sharing our thoughts as much as normal.

Then, right about the end of the first year, we all made the decision to buy a home together. While that is working out, much to everyone's relief and joy, it didn't give us the opportunity to see what was happening. There was, and is, always a lot going on around here, so it was easy to stay so busy that we didn't realize we weren't as connected as we once were.

Thankfully, two and a half years later--during that week to ourselves--we finally realized what was going on. I believe it took the Lord nudging us both to be completely honest with each other, a week alone, time together, time to talk, time to actually realize that two people who love each other with all their hearts...can disconnect. And He gave us the understanding to actually figure out when and how it had happened. And the realization that we could have kept it from doing so.

And now we are determined not to let it happen again. We will make time to share our thoughts, our cares, our concerns and our time with each other. We will make time to grow ever closer to each other as we'd planned from the beginning. We want no more disconnects!

But it can happen to any couple at any time. Life is busy for everyone. Children have needs that must be met, jobs have responsibilities, life is rushed. Denice's post last week was great! Communication is key.

Just beware that all the busyness in your life can take a toll on your relationship with the one you love. Watch for it, and don't let it happen to you. Stop it before it has a chance to hurt your relationship. If it has already happened, take the time to really reconnect with your spouse, try to figure out what is happening and get that special relationship back on track.


It will be more than worth it, I promise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Anniversary

On Sunday Luke and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. It was also a little nostalgic for me because I kept thinking about how this will be our last one spent by ourselves – next year we'll have our little girl with us!

We spent a lovely day by attending church together in the morning, enjoying lunch out (although we didn't eat at the first place we stopped at – it was already 1:30 and "mama" was so hungry I wouldn't wait the 20 minutes for a seat – so we went to a second choice restaurant that was just as good), went to a movie (not a romance but it was still a fun date), and a little shopping in between.

What did I get??? Well, okay… I don't think I've gained THAT much weight since the start of my pregnancy, but all of a sudden I can't get my wedding ring off in the mornings. Or afternoons. Not without lotion or washing my hands and using softsoap as a lubricant.

Right now, I'm blaming it on the swelling I KNOW my feet have been doing in the heat. :)

So hubby was a sweetie and got me a simple gold band that I'll be able to wear until after my hands shrink back to their correct size.

Then in the evening we just "hung out" together – played some Wii that Luke got for his birthday (who knew boxing with your spouse could be so fun??) and watched a TV show, just enjoyed being together.

All in all, it was a great day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random Thoughts on Romance

Hello.

I'm going to make a confession to the cyberspere this morning.

I am a romance junkie. Books, movies, TV shows, songs . . . I want it all to have a touch of romance to make my little heart sigh.

Silly, huh?

Well, I'll tell you just how far my silly romantic notions have gone.

Last week I was folding laundry and watching TV. There was a marathon of a certain TV show. It's actually an action/adventure/spy show. I don't usually watch this show, but I noticed an actor and actress whom I've always liked their movies. They were in this show. So I left it on the channel and started watching.

After 8 episodes, I felt like I was pretty much up to speed with these characters and the main thrust of the show.

The season finale was that night. It showed the promise of one of my favorite elements in the romance genre . . . the damsel in distress. Now, mind you, this particular damsel spends most of the show trying to blow things up (this is a spy show, remember), but it's still a favorite of mine.

So I watched the finale.

And I just fell in love with these characters.

The girl's in trouble, she gets kidnapped. The hero finds out his new partner betrayed him, arranged the kidnapping, and sent her to her death. The hero eliminates the bad guys, rescues the girl (and she doesn't just sit around swooning, waiting for the hero . . . she uses the hero's distraction tactics to break the kidnapper's nose, and jumps from a dock into the water), and they have that MOMENT on the shore where they realize how much they love each other, even if they are too proud and stupid to admit it.

I've watched that single episode five times in the last three days. And I'll probably watch it ten more before the end of the week.

I even had Hubby watch with me. He was into the shooting, running, and explosions. I was into the dialogue and subtext and emotional turmoil of the characters.

And the funniest thing was, after watching the show and talking to Hubby about it, noting the different ways we viewed the episode, he shrugged and told me, "I guess it's just what you make of it."

I was focused on the underlying romance, he was focused on the outward action, and we both liked what we got out of it.

So I guess romance, no matter where it's found, is what you make of it.

Have a great week.

Later.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vacation with hubby



This year in July my husband and I went to Hot Springs and stayed at a bed and breakfast that was an old Victorian house--about 120 years old. We had a great time enjoying the town and the surroundings lake and mountains. We visited a botanical garden and a tower that overlooked Hot Springs as well as took a National Park tour of the restored bath house. The place was beautiful. One of the highlights of our trip was having dinner on the Belle and cruising around Lake Hamilton and watching the sun set from the steamboat--very romantic (pictures above).

Getting away with your hubby is a great way to keep the romance alive. Where have you gone this summer? Want to share any good places to visit, especially with your husband?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Communication is Key

Hello.

Well, I'd like to be coming back this week to tell you that my plan for little surprises every day for my husband last week went well.

But the truth is life, as always, interfered with our plans and the romance factor got pushed aside for other concerns: kids needing attention, the house needing attention, visiting family, etc.

That seems to be the pattern we've fallen into for the last several weeks . . . the demands of other things, whatever they might be, taking away from our time together and even our desire to do little romantic things for each other.

But the one thing we haven't stopped doing is communicating with each other. So we both understand that we're in a holding pattern of sorts at the moment. And we're both okay with it. We know that summer nights mean kids are staying up later. It means we're on the go to visit family, friends, and spending more time together as a family.

So as long as we are both comfortable with the situation, and know that eventually when the kids are back in school, we'll be able to concentrate on each other and our relationship, then we're fine.

When the crazy and hectic are keeping you and your spouse apart, be sure to keep that communication up. It can help relieve stress and reassure you both that there is no neglect or frustration building. And if there is a problem, you'll be able to work it out together.

Talk to your honey and see where you're at in your relationship. Is one of you feeling ignored? Are you both so tired from summer fun that the moonlight and roses aren't a priority at the moment? Find out this week.

Have a great day.

Later.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nice Surprises

Ahhhh!

It's a rainy Monday in my neck of the woods, cooling things down, and bringing much needed moisture to the area. We're coming off of a busy weekend, and I hope you all made a little time to connect with your spouse.

Today's post is short because Hubby and I decided over the weekend to do one nice, surprise thing for each other every day this week. Well, how can it be a surprise if you know it's coming? you may ask.

For us the surprise is WHAT he/I will do, not THAT we're doing it.

It serves the dual purpose of giving each of us something to look forward to, and getting us both in a lovey-dovey, what-can-I-do-for-him/her frame of mind.

So, on that note, I am off to plan my surprises for my hubby. I'm sure they'll be simple gestures meant to show I care. And I wish I could share, but just in case Hubby is reading the blog today, he'll just have to wait until he gets home to find out what his surprise is.

Have a great week, and feel free to share any nice surprises you have for your significant other.

Later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's All About Timing

Hey, y'all.

I really wish I had something new and/or exciting to dazzle you with on the blog today, but truth be told, I'm beat.

It's been non-stop crazy at our house for the last week, and there has been zilch going on in the romance department.

Not to say we haven't talked about it.

And not to say we haven't tried to make plans.

But that meddlesome thing called life keeps getting in the way, and is preventing us from blasting into a romantic frame of mind.

So there have been no love notes; no romantic dinners; no music, flowers, or candlelight.

But there is still hope. Like Myra's post said last week, marriages go through phases. There are seasons in life, and in romance.

Summertime, three young kids at home, and wacky hours have thrown off our routines, but we'll get them back soon enough. And then we can figure out how to get our romantic life back on course.

So if you aren't feeling the passion and excitement in your marriage you once did, don't give up. Keep talking about it, keep making plans, and be sure you're both on the same page, because when the timing is right, and all the stars in the heavens align, or whatever it takes to make the moment happen, it'll be nice to know what you both need romantically.

Later.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Romance in Rhythm

I recently read a very thought-provoking book entitled Your Life in Rhythm, by Bruce Miller. Miller theorizes that the balance paradigm--trying to give equal time and energy to all the various aspects of our lives--is a recipe for disappointment and unnecessary stress.

Instead, he advocates paying attention to the natural rhythms of life and then learning to live within those rhythms. Look deeper and it’s easy to see the rhythm patterns in the everyday (waking up in the morning, mealtimes, your work routine, end-of-the-day rituals, bedtime), in the flow of a typical week (workdays, weekends), in the change of seasons through the year, in the life stages we all go through from birth to death.

The stages of a romance also have a certain rhythm: meeting, courtship, deepening love, marriage, starting a family, comfortable familiarity--and probably several phases of cycling between romance and disillusionment through the years. I believe one of the keys to a lasting marriage is recognizing the seasons, or rhythms, of romance and making the most of each one.

If you’re newlyweds, relish the passion, but don’t expect to keep up that intensity for the rest of your lives. If you’re new parents, you’ve entered a season of marriage with demands on your time you may not have been fully prepared for. But the children grow up--through a whole bunch of crazy and challenging seasons of their own!--and one day you find yourselves empty-nesters . . . and possibly wondering, Who is this stranger I’m married to?

Since these marriage rhythms are predictable, it makes sense to plan for them instead of chafing against them. What “season” of marriage are you experiencing right now? What pitfalls have you identified? What do you enjoy most about this season? Are there any expectations you need to release to live in this season more fully?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” --Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lists

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a list maker.

I like lists. Grocery lists, To Do lists, Honey-Do lists, Packing For Vacation lists . . . I really could go on forever.

And I'm sure you've noticed my lists of favorites on this blog.

So my ears just perked right up when our church sermon yesterday was about making a Bucket List. The sermon was about how should we spend the precious, limited time we have on this earth? How will our time here be remembered? And how does God feel about what we do with the time He has given us?

My husband and I have made lists similar to a Bucket List over the years, only we didn't call them that. We just called them Goals. What do I want to do today? This week? This month? Three months? Six months? A year? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

You get the picture.

My husband recently updated his Goals list and allowed me to read it. So now it's my turn to make a Goals list, but I think I will also do so with the Bucket List in mind.

And I will be sharing my list with my husband as soon as it is written. And maybe we can help each other accomplish everything on our lists.

What about you? Do you have a Goals/Bucket List? Maybe this week you and your spouse can sit down together and write one. It might just bring you closer together, and you may even find out something you didn't know about your sweetie.

Have a great week, everyone.

Later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just The Two of Us

Doesn't happen very often in this generational living we are taking part in, but once in a while, we do get a chance to have some time to ourselves. One of those times is coming up in a few weeks. Our daughter and her husband and the girls are going to Colorado for a week with the youth group at our church. They are really looking forward to it and I have to admit, Dan and I are looking forward to having the house to ourselves for that time.

Last time the kids went off, we had to change our plans because we were needed by another family member out of town. And while we know that the best laid plans can go haywire at the last minute, we're hopeful this time will workout. I'm thinking of the meals I can cook that Dan and I love, but not all of our family does. We'll go out to a favorite restaurant or two and maybe take a day trip or two for some research. Mostly, it will be nice to just go at our own pace for a few days and do our own thing, without working around all that goes on around here.

Oh, yes, we love the generational living. But we're looking forward to spending some quality time together, going and doing some of the things we enjoy that sometimes get pushed back or to the side, because we have so many other things going on. A week to just be together. What could be more romantic?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

She is a She & MoneyTalk

We had our first ultrasound yesterday and found out the baby is a girl! Here is a scan of one of the pics:

(That's a profile shot of her head/face and torso)


I know the results of an ultrasound aren't 100% foolproof, plus we're hoping to have at least 1 or 2 more kids after this one (God willing), so we're going to get a lot of the baby stuff in neutral colors. Right now the baby's room is painted a pale green, and I think we're going to leave it that color for now.


But I have already starting thinking about decorating...


Which is a great segue into talking about money, because hubby and I are also talking about redoing one or two of our bathrooms this summer. They're pretty out-of-style right now with not-great wallpaper and the tiles in the tub/shower need to be redone.


I know money is one of the things that a lot of couples fight about, but we've been blessed that this hasn't been a major area of disputes in our marriage.


We both have a financial background with our educations and jobs, but I really don't think that's why we've gotten along so well in this area since we've been married. The things that have really helped us are:


1) Set goals together (i.e. pay off student loans by this date, buy a house by this date) - we usually sit down together at least once per year and discuss what we want to achieve for the next 1-2 years


2) Make a realistic plan to meet the goals - we did this by making a realistic budget that we can both live with. The most important things for us when making our budgets were realizing that there were things that were important to one of us that wasn't really important to the other. For example, the people at my office eat out for lunch a lot and it is sort of a social activity for our workplace. Luke's workplace is a lot different and he brings his lunch a lot of the time or goes home for lunch. So my budgeted "spending money" is a little bit higher to take into account the reality that I'm probably going to eat out with the office on a regular basis.


I feel that making the budget together and agreeing on final amounts keeps us from thinking that the budget is unfair to one partner vs. the other. And it really brings home the bottom line. If I go over budget because I went shopping last weekend, I kNOW that the money has to come from somewhere,and I can see very easily where it comes from.


3) Spending less than we make - We don't live above our means. When we were still in school, we lived in a 600 sq foot apartment. It was TINY! But since we were paying for school ourselves, it was about all we could afford. We didn't go shopping every weekend or get to buy everything that we saw that we wanted. We just couldn't afford it.


4) Not carrying a balance on our credit cards - We use these for work-related expenses (that we'll be reimbursed for later), or to buy plane tickets or large-dollar items online/over the phone. We don't carry balances because we've both seen how that can build up so easily and then bury you (both had experiences like that before we got married). See number 3 if you need more clarification on this point.


5) Splurging - I don't mean all the time. In fact, very rarely did this happen, BUT one thing that is important to make our budget work is to splurge and spend money on things that are special to us. For a long time it was trips to see Luke's family (when they lived on the East Coast). Christmas is a big one - I love giving gifts to my family and to Luke. And this Christmas will be really fun with our DAUGHTER! Sometimes, just something that we wanted that we'd been saving a long time for. Like a new car stereo for Luke that he'd saved up for for months. I fully believe that there should be a reward for sticking to your budget (especially since it can be so hard at times).


6) Giving to our church - this has been really important to us since the beginning of our marriage. By making sure to give sacrificially, and making that an item on our budget, it keeps it at the forefront of our minds just Who our financial blessings come from. And knowing that Luke is just as committed to this as I am brings us closer together. Not to mention seeing some of the amazing things that God has been able to do through the use of our (and others') gifts back to Him.


Not to say that we never fight about money, because we do. But these six things have helped us to see where the money comes from/goes to, and also to stay on the same page about our goals and how we can realistically achieve them.