comfort zone

if you are stopping by from Sugar & Dots, welcome! 
i'm so glad you decided to pop over to my little blog. 
i hope you stick around a bit and we can get to know each other. 
you can also check out my "Start Here" button on the side bar to the left to read some of my favorite posts. 
thank you for coming over!

pictures taken when we went out shooting earlier this week
a mother's love is pretty incredible. 
there are moments where i can be sooooo frustrated with motherhood... 
and in that same day, i can get really emotional because i'm totally overcome with love for such a little person. the same little person that can go from 0-60 in .2 seconds. 
but he absolutely still has me wrapped around his chubby little finger.

being a mom, especially being Elijah's mom, has tested me in ways i've never experienced before. 
when i thought about the day i would become a mom, i honestly thought it would be a piece.of.cake. 
i loved children and loved taking care of them. 
and because i loved being around kids so much, i would always try and babysit any chance i got and was great at it. i felt like it was my own calling. 
i just knew that someday i would be the best mom. 

all my theories were basically shattered when i actually became a mom. 
it hasn't been nearly as easy as i thought, no matter how many times my mom would tell me after a hard babysitting experience, "when you have your own kids it will be so much easier." 
false. i felt like it was easier being the babysitter. 

these last few weeks have been particularly hard. 
there are moments where i'm pretty convinced that i actually wasn't meant to be a mother, 
that this was definitely not my calling in life, 
and that i will never be trusted with another child because i'm failing so much with my first. 

{i know. dramatic...} 

after talking to a friend tonight and sharing some of my deepest fears that i was afraid to ever say out loud, i realized that i'm actually not alone. 
motherhood is hard for a lot of us. 
there's a lot of times that us mothers probably don't feel adequate enough for our perfect little babes. 
they try us and test us and push us to our limits. 
and we are just doing our best to stay ahead of the game. 

the phrase that kept coming to my mind was "being out of my comfort zone." 
i feel like that accurately describes parenthood for me most days. 
i'm not used to toddler tantrums and potty training and children running away and refusing meals. 
when i babysat i was always able to go home afterwards, i wasn't really there for every moment.
but motherhood... motherhood you are there for every little second, good & bad, and it's a huge, continual learning process. 

no matter how overwhelmed i get though with this whole process, i can take one look at Elijah and my heart bursts into a million pieces. 
he pushes my buttons, but he also pushes me to be the best person i can be. 
he frustrates me, but he also motivates me to live up to my potential. 
he annoys me at times, but he also makes me feel an incredible sense of love just by one kiss, hug, or cuddle. 

i know i'm completely & utterly out of my comfort zone with this whole mothering thing. 
but i know if i can at least still feel all that love, and give that love back in return, then i have to be doing something right. 
right? 

i can increase my comfort zones. 
and i will be able to look back and think all the struggling was worth it because not only would i have raised a great kid, but i would have become a better person through it all. 


February Group Giveaway

i feel like it has been a while since i have done a group giveaway on the blog. 
and what better way to kick off a new monthly group giveaway than with
over $50 worth of prizes!!

a huge thank you to my amazing sponsors for making this all possible! 
i have really loved working with them this month and getting to know them better. 
i hope you all take the time to check out their websites {and not just for a giveaway entry} and get to know them  as well. 

now, onto the giveaway.
there are three prizes that will go to one winner! 

GOOD LUCK! 

Rachel is incredibly kind, talented, creative, smart, amazing, and a lot more great qualities that are too long to list. it's kind of amazing all the things she is able to accomplish. she puts me to shame for sure. someday i'll be able to be as organized and on top of things as she is. you should definitely head over to her blog and get to know her better and be inspired as well!

Rachel is giving away an in-post sponsor ad for one month that includes a feature highlight posts, 2 guest posts, individual giveaway + group giveaway option, and social media shout outs. this package is worth $25.


not only is Amy incredibly talented in many, many ways, but she also one of the coolest people ever. i {kind of} totally stalk her on Twitter and Instagram before she became an official sponsor and wish she lived closer so we can be real live friends. she married one of my good friends from high school/college and i bet anyone who is around them often instantly has the best life. she is definitely one to check out and i know you will fall in love with her like i have!

today Amy is giving away one of her mint green rosette headbands from her shop worth $14.

kind of changing it up i guess, but i thought i'd throw in a little gift from me as well this month! as a little thank you for your support these last months. you guys are awesome and i feel humbled every day that there are people who actually read this silly little blog :)


[enter with the Rafflecopter widget below]


a Rafflecopter giveaway

easy DIY Lacing Cards

some mom friends and i got together to share some toddler-friendly activity ideas and do a Busy Bag swap. the idea behind Busy Bags is to have small bags of simple, learning activities for kids to keep busy {hence the name}, have fun, and hopefully learn a thing or two. 

for my bag, i decided to make some simple lacing cards for kids to practice their fine motor skills while learning about the shapes. it was a super easy and super cheap DIY. plus Elijah seems to enjoy it so... winning! 

i posted a picture of them on Instagram and after a couple of questions i thought i'd share with you the easy tutorial as well as some tips that i wish i knew ahead of time. 

DIY Toddler Lacing Cards 


items needed: 


-foam sheets 
i used a small pack from the Dollar Tree since i was making 10 bags and needed more bang for my {literal} buck. however, they were pretty small and thin. they worked okay but if i was doing it again for just one kid i would've gotten the foam sheets that they sell individually at craft stores. they are about 88 cents a sheet or something. so pretty cheap if it's just a few shapes instead of 40 (that i had to make for the Busy Bag swap). also, at Joann's they have a big pack of sticky back foam paper but you definitely don't want that. so long story short... non-sticky, thicker foam sheets :) 

-single hole punch 
{also i learned the hard way, the $1 hole punch from Wal-Mart is totally crappy and doesn't punch it all the way... so if you need to spend a little more that's probably better and will save your hand. and be quicker} 

-plastic crafting lace or shoelaces. 
however, with the shoelaces they can be a little too thick for the holes if you don't punch them big enough and can make them easier to tear. learned that the hard way... so the crafting lace is best. also, i almost tried yarn but it's too limp, can easily unravel, and is too thin to lace well.

-scissors 

-outlines of what shapes/animals/whatever you want to cut out 

directions: 

step.one. 
cut out your desired shapes out of the foam paper. 


i originally wanted to use animal outlines but like i said earlier the pack of foam paper i got was too small. so instead i opted to just cut out regular shapes like triangles and hearts and pentagons... basically anything symmetrical so i could fold it in half and cut it :) 

step.two. 
punch holes around the edges of the shape


make sure the holes aren't too close to the edge that it will rip when you put string through. also, you don't need a lot of holes in every little inch around the edge. not only will that leave too little space between the holes and could possibly rip, but it also will get too frustrating for the kids to have to lace too many little holes you want a good, simple, evenly-spaced amount. 

you can also tell by looking at the holes how some of them aren't perfectly round and that's because my hole punch sucked. so i had to rip the rest of it off by hand. took forever.... now i know for next time!

step.three.
have your child lace the cards! 


basically you're done. to start the lacing, tie a knot at the end of the string and teach your toddler to pull the string through the holes until the knot stops it. then repeat through the next hole and so on. 


see! 
easy peasy. three steps and you're done. 
i love having these Busy Bags and so does Elijah. 
he is able to play and stay entertained doing something educational instead of being glued to our phones [something we're working on, thanks to these bags!]. 

some other fun Busy Bag ideas that my friends made were: 
pool noodle rings 
going fishing game (with magnets)
popsicle puzzles 
play clothes line complete with little felt clothes 
dominoes made from tiles to match shapes and numbers
cup color sorting 
tracing games
popsicle matching game 

what Busy Bag ideas would you include? 

A Good American


this month for BlogHer Book Club, i was able to read "A Good American" by Alex George. 
the book tells the multi-generational story of the Meisenheimer family and how they came to America, starting with the grandparents. their story is told by the grandson, James, and follows their story up until present time when James is an adult. 

the story is beautifully written which was one of my favorite parts of the book. i loved how the author described things and captured the feelings/actions of the characters. it wasn't written like most modern books and i appreciate it. especially having to tell the different stories of each character in the family, i felt like his writing still kept up its stamina and didn't falter or get lazy.

George definitely knows how to get you looking forward to the rest of the book with teasing phrases and loaded words. he is able to make a normally boring story pretty interesting. there are lots of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.

though i must admit, even with the beautiful text of the author, there were still some parts that were a little dull. mainly, i felt like the book moved kind of slowly, especially at the beginning. i didn't feel emotionally invested in the characters until well into the book and even then it kept going back and forth. 

i felt it dragged on for kind of a long time {i mean, you had to go through the whole family!} and even with all the twists and turns eventually i felt like i didn't even know where this story was going or what the next part was going to be about. it still had moments that would keep me hurrying to the next page. but other times i just wanted to know how it was all going to tie together in the end. 

overall i thought "A Good American" was written well and was filled with stories that a lot of people could appreciate with their own family histories. i also felt like he captured the American spirit in a sense, showing that it's not all rainbows and roses when you try to make a name for yourself but also comes with lots of determination and sometimes tragedy. 

i would definitely still recommend reading "A Good American" to others, even with the slow start-up. 
[i mean in all honestly, it could've just been me :)]


This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. 

Not So Ordinary Designs

i'm very excited to introduce today's guest poster. Melissa from The Life of a Not So Ordinary Wife has been a great blogging friend of mine for some time now and i have loved getting to know her. she is incredibly talented {in many areas!} including being a wonderful graphic designer. she will be talking about her new business venture today and i hope you all take the time to check out her awesome website. she is definitely a great person to know for your next design project! 

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Hello Everyone! I am Melissa from The Life of a Not So Ordinary Wife and I am so exited to be guest posting today. I have had some really exciting things happening lately and I can't wait to share it with the world, well at least the blogging world!

I have over 10 years experience with graphic and web design and do it for a living, so when I started designing some blog layouts for myself and some friends it came really natural for me and was actually super fun! I have been doing some designs under the radar for the past year and thought maybe it was time I made a small business out of it! What's that? A Business that I LOVE? SIGN ME UP!
So... I am happy to introduce to you...


Not So Ordinary Designs is a place where YOU and I can come together as a team and create something FABULOUS!! 
I will work with you to design an amazing fully custom layout, 
social media backgrounds, shop banners and so much more!
Click here to check out my portfolio, packages and prices.
A SPECIAL GIFT FOR YOU!
Use the promocode 25OFF to get 25% off any package.

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thank you so much, Melissa, for posting today! i'm grateful to be able to know such talented friends. definitely check out Melissa's website! 

a little Eli love


i feel like now is a good time as any to share some of my favorite things about Elijah right now. 
even with all his screaming and hitting and whining and other typical terrible-two-like symptoms, he's really sweet and fun when he wants to be. 
{sometimes i just need help remembering that after his fits. ;)}
he's actually at a really fun age {when he's in a good mood} and i love seeing him learn new things and come up with new phrases each day. 

some of my {current} favorite things about Elijah are: 

:: when i give him choices for snacks/lunch/anything he says, "Hmmmm, let me think about it, Mom." 

:: he was recently obsessed with Tangled and has now moved on to Shrek 2. i prefer Tangled. 

:: when we would watch Tangled, during the song "I See the Light" Elijah would grab both my hands, look at me, move my hair back like Flynn does to Rapunzel, and ask me to sing. it is the sweetest thing ever and melts my heart to absolute mush. 

:: he still loves to cuddle. he'll find a spot right in the crook of my arm or legs if they are curled up and lay next to me. i hope he never grows out of that. 

:: we read scripture stories before bed at night and we first read about Nephi in the Book of Mormon. ever since, Elijah loooooooves talking about Nephi. i even taught him the "Nephi's Courage" song and maybe that was a mistake cause he wants to sing it all the time. he goes around the house saying, "I will go, I will do!" and throws his arm up in the air. the.cutest. 

:: and with reading stories of Nephi, comes more ways to convince him to do things. we have been trying to teach him about listening and obedience, which is a common theme in the scriptures especially Nephi's story {Nephi 3:7}. so if he is misbehaving we will say, "what does Nephi say?" and he'll say, "Nephi says sit down." he doesn't really but it gets the point across... 

:: he has become so independent {yet is still so needy} lately. he is constantly saying, "ZaZa do it! ZaZa do it!" [ZaZa being what he calls himself :)] i love it especially when he wants to help me do something. win-win.

there are a lot of other things i love about this little boyfriend of mine. 
i know that i stress out a lot and still have A LOT of learning to do in the motherhood department with how to handle toddlers. 

but i still seriously LOVE this little boy and know my life would be not be as joyful without him! 
and i would definitely miss squishing those chubby cheeks!!

oreo milkshakes = true love.


this is the picture of true love. 
seriously.
[true love for the item in the picture and for the man that bought it for me.
true love squared if you will.]

last week, and now pouring over into this week, has been really hard motherhood-wise.
i've had quite a few breakdowns including crying during playgroup and in the middle of a Costco aisle.

and when i start getting emotional, i crave junk food like it's my job.
i'm a hardcore emotional eater.
{as in... we have 3 kinds of Oreos in our pantry right now as we speak. plus more cream filled treats i shouldn't even admit to having... and they are all at least half empty. and we just bought them.}

Adam knows this about me, bless his heart, and sweetly speaks my sugar-loving love language.
Saturday night he had to run to the store for some quick groceries before Sunday and brought me back a package of cookie dough. "i got this for you because i thought you'd like to eat it," he says to me.
uh, heck yeah!!
that blessed man. 

then tonight [Monday], after he had to go to the school to study before helping me put Elijah to bed, who was being Terrible with a capital T today and i was ready to pull.my.hair.out., he brought me an Oreo milkshake.
a very large Oreo milkshake.

this guy gets me.
what a good, good man that Adam is.
and i'm reminded constantly of his true amazing-ness.

truest of love indeed.


how do you deal with stress?? do you eat junk like me? :)

Chocolate Lush


i had posted a picture of our leftover Valentine's Day dessert on instagram and had some requests about the recipe. since this is one of my all time favorites, i was happy to spread the chocolate & whipped cream happiness. 
cause it's seriously the best



Chocolate Lush 


Ingredients: 

Crust: 
-1 cube of butter/margarine, softened
-1 cup of flour 
-1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Filling: 
-1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened 
-1 cup of sugar 
-1 tub of Cool Whip 
-1 large package of vanilla pudding mix 
-1 large package of chocolate pudding mix

Directions: 

To make crust:
1. combine flour, softened butter/margarine, and nuts until crumbly 
2. Mix well. Press into 9x13 pan. 
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 
4. Let cool for 30 minutes before adding filling.
  
Next begin the filling.
5. Mix together package of vanilla and chocolate pudding mix. Follow instructions on box to make. Set aside to cool.
6. Mix softened cream cheese and cup of sugar with mixer until smooth. 
7. Once smooth, add in 1/2 of the tub of Cool Whip. Mix well and then spread on crust. 
8. When pudding is ready and cooled, spread over top of cream cheese layer. 
9. Top with remaining Cool Whip. 

i tried to show the layers with this picture but it didn't work very well... ha. 
And of course, ENJOY!
{just like Elijah did :)}


you know it's good when it's Toddler Approved

let me know if you make it!

gone shooting

[i should preface this post by saying this is NOT a post about gun control. just a fun outing with guns :)]
my friend's baby is the prettiest baby there ever was. i cannot get enough of her!


ever since Adam got a shotgun he has been wanting to take me to "learn" how to use it. 
i kept telling him that there is absolutely no reason why i need to know how to shoot a gun. 
mainly because i'm deathly terrified of firearms and constantly have images of me or someone else i love getting blown to pieces.

on one of the days that Adam got out of school early, i reluctantly agreed to go to the desert to go shooting for a little bit.  
after a minor anxiety attack {not an exaggeration. i was near tears.} Adam finally helped me work up enough courage to shoot the shotgun. 
it ended up being a lot of fun even though i'm a terrible shot and didn't hit a single thing. 
but i was just proud that i even did it at all!

it was such a small, cheap activity but was still really great to be able to spend time together and enjoy each other's interests, even if i kind of hate guns. 
plus any time alone away from parent life is priceless. 
in just an hour's time i felt closer to Adam than i had felt all week. 
[especially when he was trying to comfort me during my freak out]

and Adam thinks it's hot that i know how to shoot a gun now. ;)

day of love

February 7th to 14th is National Marriage Week. to celebrate, i will be sharing some thoughts and stories about marriage to help encourage you to strengthen your own relationships. i hope these posts will help you nurture your own relationship and rekindle the love you have for one another. you can also link up your marriage posts below to help celebrate this week.

i always thought Valentine's Day was kind of lame. 
well, not lame, just not for me
after elementary school was over and all the candy parties stopped, it seemed to all go downhill.
i always wanted a big, blow-out, awesomely romantic Valentine's Day but it never happened. 
{plus i was like in high school so it made sense it didn't happen, but still. hopeless romantic you know}

so instead of celebrating Valentine's, my friends and i would celebrate Arizona's birthday. 
because you know, Arizona was the best state ever and we were awesome so it made sense. 

AZ birthday party 2008
then Adam happened. 

our first Valentine's Day together he got me a velvety box of chocolates, roses and a daisy earlier in the day, a Hannah Montana poster {cause i was kind of obsessed with her}, a big giant card made from a poster board, and a candlelit dinner with sparkling cider and Panda Express [one of my faves]. 

he did all this without any hints from or even knowing i had dreamed of a date like that before. 
it was perfect. 
and then we went home and ate Arizona birthday cake :)

our first Valentine's Day together 2008
the next year, Adam topped the last Valentine's Day by asking me to be his beloved wife at the steps of the Mesa, Arizona temple. 
it was perfect. 
i never thought i would want to get engaged on Valentine's {all the cheesy, cliche-ness of it all}
but Adam knows how to speak to my hopeless romantic side perfectly & i loved every bit of it. 

right after we got engaged February 14, 2009
i didn't know what i was saying yes to then, 
i didn't know what life would have in store for us, 
but i'm so glad i did say yes. 

even though we have disagreements {like every couple} 
and hardships {like every couple} 
i'm so glad Adam is the one to see through life's happiest [and hardest] moments with.


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!

and be sure to check out all the blogs that linked up to celebrate National Marriage Week this week! there's some seriously awesome articles that linked up. 

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Bloglovin' Hop

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today we are spreading the {Blog} Love with our "I {Blog} Love You" Bloglovin Hop!


Bloglovin is my favorite way to follow my "must-reads." It allows me to see all of the unread posts from my favorite blogs, and I can "heart" posts that I want to revisit later on. Plus you can click through to the actual blog to read the whole post, so you see the blog and post as it was intended for viewers.

Don't have your blog set up on Bloglovin? All you have to do is go to Bloglovin and sign up for a free account to add your blog to the Bloglovin family! :)


On to the hop!

1. Link up your Bloglovin page

2. Follow the 5 hosts

3. Tweet that you linked up so others will come join

Happy Valentine's Day!


how i threatened divorce

February 7th to 14th is National Marriage Week. to celebrate, i will be sharing some thoughts and stories about marriage to help encourage you to strengthen your own relationships. i hope these posts will help you nurture your own relationship and rekindle the love you have for one another. you can also link up your marriage posts below to help celebrate this week.
our wedding rings. photo taken by Kate Lines Photography.
i got married with the possibility of the divorce in the back of my head. 
the day of the wedding, as i waited anxiously for the ceremony to start, i told myself it was okay to be scared and nervous. 
i could always leave if i was unhappy. 

after all the classes i took 
after all the books & articles i read 
after all talks i listened to {both from general authorities and prestigious academics} 
which all taught to never say the "D" word if you want a happy marriage, 
i still told myself after especially rough fights {that i'm sure we've all had} that marriage doesn't have to last forever if you didn't want it to, i could always leave. 

before i go on, let me first tell you that Adam is a really good guy
like, really really good. 
i don't deserve him for many reasons and i'm reminded of his goodness every day. 
he's truly my better half in every sense of the phrase. 
he is not abusive in any way, he doesn't have any harmful addictions, he doesn't yell, he has never been unfaithful, he is incredibly supportive & loving, calm & patient, he's never intentionally hurt me... 
he is everything a husband should be and has never given me real reason to divorce him. ever
{just want to clear that up before anyone worries for me throughout the rest of this post :)}

i have always known Adam was a good guy. 
that's why i fell in love with him and wanted to marry him. 
he completed me. 

having the idea of divorce in the back of my mind [when it wasn't warranted] made it hard for my relationship to really flourish. in fact, it threatened my marriage more than any disagreements we had.
but my fighting style was still so immature that whenever i got offended over even the tiniest things, i immediately thought to myself, "well i don't have to take this, i can just leave." 

when we fought i didn't have the courage to work through it. 
i told myself fighting equals incompatibility, i told myself we were never meant to be together. 
even though i knew all couples fought and no one was perfect, for some reason i took our disagreements more personally. 
other people didn't seem to have as many problems as we did, we should just end it because we would then be "happier."
[in quotes because really that was a lie, i woud be miserable without Adam] 

if i got really mad about something, i threatened to leave. 
instead of talking things out, i said i was done. 
this meant i forced Adam to have to beg for mercy and forgiveness, even when i was clearly the one who was wrong. 

Adam finally called me out on it, saying that giving those ultimatums were doing no good
there's no where to go from there! 
there's nothing to say once you threaten the worst possible thing, it's not a fair fight.
there's no room for conversation or compromise. 
it's a dead end. 

instead the problem gets swept under the proverbial rug with all the other issues that never were completely resolved, waiting to just bust free again and start the cycle all over. 
{not ideal} 

marriage is a lot of work, just like most good, worthwhile things in life.
it takes a lot of time and effort and patience and love and compassion and understanding,
problems aren't always solved in one conversation.
but you have to be willing to work our your differences instead of walking away from the problem. 
really fight for your marriage. 

i can honestly tell you now, after lots of hard work and love, marriage really is a good thing
and i hope to stay married for a long time. 

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more positivity, less complaints

February 7th to 14th is National Marriage Week. to celebrate, i will be sharing some thoughts and stories about marriage to help encourage you to strengthen your own relationships. i hope these posts will help you nurture your own relationship and rekindle the love you have for one another. you can also link up your marriage posts below to help celebrate this week.
i kind of love going through our old dating pictures. Jimmy Eat World concert April 2008
Adam is my best friend. truly he is. 
i always thought that was cheesy when people said that cause i usually think of other friends of mine first when i think of a best friend. but after being with him for over 5 years, it's the truth. he's my best friend. 

he has seen me at my highest and my lowest. 
he has seen me crazy happy and crazy crazy. 
he knows everything about me, he listens to all my silly stories and complaints, 
and he still loves me through it all. 

but sometimes when we are really close and comfortable with someone, we tend to let ourselves go. 
not in the sense of we don't shower or get dressed or wear make-up "let go" {though i do that too...} but we stop being careful about what we say, we stop being careful about what we do. 
we feel so comfortable and safe in our relationship [which is a GREAT thing to feel!] that we get almost too comfortable with the way we present ourselves.  

i am referring to our attitudes at home. 
i have talked before about our true characters and how we act in our relationships says more about us than how we act to people we meet on the street. but one key thing that i forgot to include in the list along with kindness, compassion, and charity was having a positive attitude.  

allow me to explain. 

when Adam comes home, i know that i can tell him about every part of my day.
i can share with him complaints that i wouldn't tell just anyone. 
and while i know he will listen and understand and probably even agree with me most of the time, i need to be careful that my conversations with him don't just turn into venting sessions about everything that frustrated me that day. 

i don't think i'm that negative of a person. {though i know i have room for improvement}
and especially when i talk to other people i try to be happy and positive. 
but to Adam, i just seemed like a negative and unhappy person all the time because i was choosing to only tell him the bad instead of all the good things that happened to me too. 

Adam told me one day that he thought i complained about Elijah a lot and i didn't seem happy with life. 
i was honestly pretty shocked. 
i felt for sure i was in a really good place in life and was expressing that well. 
and i definitely didn't feel like i was really that upset with Elijah as much as i guess it seemed like i was.
but to Adam, who was the one that listened to every little annoyance instead of only the silly Facebook statuses or Instagram posts, i seemed more unhappy than i really was. 

and because of my projected negativity, it was hard for Adam to know how to interact with me. 
he felt like it was his fault that i was unhappy. 
he didn't know if i was having a hard time and was then afraid to approach me with his own struggles. 
it was creating this big rift between us and i didn't even know it. 
i didn't realize that the things i was choosing to talk about were affecting our relationship. 

to me, i just thought i was opening up to Adam cause he's the one i'm closest too. 
and although that is true, i should be able to open up to him, i need to remember to not just focus on the negatives and only vent to him. 
i need to be more positive, i need to share with him the excitements and accomplishments more often. 

we should be able to talk to our spouse about anything. 
but we should remember that also includes the good and not just the bad. 
being positive goes a long way, not just with strangers or co-workers, 
but more importantly in our relationships. 

i know that when i'm more positive to those i'm closest to, 
i feel better about myself & about those around me. 

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creating marriage rituals

February 7th to 14th is National Marriage Week. to celebrate, i will be sharing some thoughts and stories about marriage to help encourage you to strengthen your own relationships. i hope these posts will help you nurture your own relationship and rekindle the love you have for one another. you can also link up your marriage posts below to help celebrate this week.


it's no secret that post-graduate school life is hard. 
Adam is studying hard, usually away for long periods of time. and when he is home, he is trying to juggle helping with Elijah while i cook dinner and cramming more study time in. 
so basically, there's hardly time for just us. 

at first i didn't think much of it. 
this was our new life, it's okay if we didn't get enough alone time. we still seemed to make it work. 
well... finally about 6 months later it all seemed to catch up to us. 

we were both unhappy, irritable, felt unloved and under-appreciated. 
our good streak that we thought we had going on turned out to be just a moment in time where both were just kind of pushing our feelings aside and building up little frustrations towards one another. 
it wasn't really a blissful moment in our relationship. 

as we got to talking and understand what the other person was feeling, we both realized that the little things we used to do before school started had gone by the wayside. 
we no longer were trying hard to create connection & love rituals in our marriage, an important part of healthy relationships. 

William J. Doherty, the author of "Take Back Your Marriage" {and my hero} said of rituals, 
"Connection rituals [...] are rituals of everyday life in which the spouses share time and attention with each other. They are often low key as opposed to intense, comforting as opposed to sparkling. Connection rituals are at the base of the pyramid of marriage, right above commitment." 

one part of connection rituals is love rituals. 
"Love rituals are more intimate ways of interacting than connection rituals; they are ways that couples express their deep affection and passion for each other." 
in short, love rituals are the way you say "i love you and you are special to me."

we were very much lacking connection rituals, especially love rituals, in our relationship. 
and in a time where life is hectic & stressful in many ways, to be missing a vital connection to each other was surely taking its toll on our overall happiness and stability and leaving us feeling unloved or uncared for. 

so we decided then and there that we needed to create more rituals in our relationship, focusing first on the areas that we are struggling with and making goals to create more connections with one another throughout the day. 

some things we came up with that i'm sure many other couples struggle with are:
  • more physical touch: we hardly held hands before or took the time to give each other a meaningful embrace when Adam came home from school. i even told Adam i want more PDA ;)
  • turn off distractions: our time on our computers and devices was coming in between the time we could be spending with one another. so we decided that we will work til a certain time at night and then turn it all off so we can focus on each other.
  • meaningful discussions: lately our conversations focus on logistics or family information, not our personal goals or feelings. we need to continually get to know one another.
  • saying "I love you" out loud: we go through the day doing things for one another and talking to one another thinking that the other person knows you love them because of your actions. and maybe that's true, but it's nice to actually hear it out loud often. we have made it a point to try and always say it before someone leaves or when we go to bed.
  • spend some time alone: all the others points i listed pretty much adds up to this last one but it's so important. even if it's after Elijah goes to bed and we watch an episode of New Girl, it honestly does wonders for us cause we are able to connect without any other distractions. it's something that we need to do more often and probably the one that yields the highest happiness and satisfaction rates. 
connection rituals do not have to be a big production. 
it can be as simple as texting one another during the day or spending lunch together. 
or it can even be watching your favorite show while eating Oreos {that's one of ours :)}
whatever it is, it is an important way to strengthen the bond you have with your spouse and show your love for each other. 

i know these rituals can make a big difference in a relationship, 
i have already seen the difference they make in mine. 
and i know as life gets busier, it will become even more important to have these rituals to be able to get through it all and come out stronger than ever. 

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who did you marry?

February 7th to 14th is National Marriage Week. to celebrate, i will be sharing some thoughts and stories about marriage to help encourage you to strengthen your own relationships. i hope these posts will help you nurture your own relationship and rekindle the love you have for one another.

one of our first dates. we're such babies!
for our first date, Adam took me to see the Japanese version of "Shall We Dance" at BYU International Cinema and to see the modern love exhibit at the Museum of Art on campus.
[everything was free. you know, poor college kids :)]
we held hands, he kissed my cheek, and i flirted and played games like any girl did at that age...
it was sweet, simple and perfect. 
[well, besides me playing games]

fast forward 4 years...
a few weeks before we moved to Arizona, we found out that International Cinema was showing "Shall We Dance" again and thought it would be a perfect last hurrah.
we held hands, kissed on the lips, and i flirted for a good reason this time.
it was sweet, simple, and perfect.

after a hard year, it was wonderful to be able to take some time to just be together and act like young people in love again, flirting and courting each other all over.
we needed that time to reconnect and remember the person we were attracted to in the first place.

school, work, babies, stress, life have ways of making us forget about what is really important.
as much as Adam and i see each other, there are times where i don't feel like i really know him.
we are both constantly changing and evolving. life has a way of doing that.
and when we don't make time to reconnect, instead of just talking about Elijah or how his test was that day, it feels like we're just roommates trying to get by with superficial conversation.

i remember my professor telling us once that most divorces happen after kids are grown up and gone.
he said couples who have been together for 20 years, who seem to have it all together, can have everything come crumbling down because of one simple problem:
they don't know each other anymore.  

he talked about how during the years they are together, their lives are so busy with raising children, starting careers (and possibly finishing school), running businesses, taking kids to soccer, family vacations, and more that it is hard to take time away to just be alone.
and at the end of it all, when all the distractions are taken away and the kids are moved out, couples look at each other and say, "who are you? what happened to the person i married?"

well they changed!
you changed.
life changes things.

that lesson has always stuck with me.
i don't want to be looking at Adam 20 years for now, wondering who he is and why i used to love him.
i want to be able to change together for the better,
grow together, not apart.

me and Adam are still not very good at making sure we have a consistent date night
[school life has a way of doing that].
but we are working hard to take time for one another doing simple day-to-day things so we can continually remember why we fell in love.

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National Marriage Week {link-up}


did you know that February 7th-14th is National Marriage Week
i first found out about it when i started writing for StrongerMarriage.org
while we get ready to celebrate the day of love, i think it is a great reminder that we should be doing things to continually strengthen our relationships instead of just on that one day. 

on the Marriage Week website it says, 
"From February 7th to 14th every year— is a collaborative effort to encourage many diverse groups to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture, which in turn helps curtail poverty and benefits children. Together we can make more impact than working alone."

this week to celebrate National Marriage Week i will be sharing some posts relating to marriage/relationships and i would love to read your posts as well! 
[you can read my past National Marriage Week posts here.]
if you have written a post about love or relationships/marriage [or even Valentine's Day!] link it up below so we can all read it and celebrate this week together.
{past & present posts accepts}

i would love to help make National Marriage Week a big, online success! 
so with all your help and with all your posts i think we can make that happen and create a big celebration. :)


New Hearts.com Pinterest Sweepstakes

Hearts.com is an incredible website that is changing the way the fashion industry is done. 
not only are their products gorgeous, but Hearts.com is helping create items that are better for the environment and make a different in people's lives all over the world. 
it is definitely a great website in many ways!

you can learn more about them from this little video: 



for the month of February [til February 25th] Hearts.com is having an awesome Pinterest contest where they are giving away one $500 gift card to their website and 5 $50 gift cards!
[and let me tell you, it's definitely possible to win!]

check out the Hearts.com Facebook page to enter the giveaway. 
you don't want to miss it!

GOOD LUCK!