Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DAY 1477-1487... THE LOVE DARE PART 2

 Day 11 – Love Cherishes

Today’s Dare was to meet my spouse’s needs. I was to choose a gesture that says, “I cherish you” and that does it with a smile.

I kind of hate driving to Idaho Falls.
I just do.
It’s a boring drive to get to a place that has more than we have but still not enough.
Ugh!

I had already gone to Idaho Falls with my Mom earlier that day (I even drove), with both kids, and all I wanted to do was to rest and chill at home.
But that never happens, right?

Spencer wanted to go to Idaho Falls.
Badly.

So I packed up the kids and we went. I smiled and we really did have a great time.

I feel as though I may have went above and beyond in this one because when it came time to eat, he suggested Panda Express. Now, I love Chinese food, like I crave it when I’m not craving Mexican food love it, but I personally feel as though Panda isn’t the best and is way overpriced. But I smiled and said, “Great choice”. The food was really good and it made my Panda obsessed 3 year old so happy!

I feel as though because I really pushed myself to do these things that maybe I really didn’t want to do, I was blessed by having a great time and tasting amazing food.

Attitude really changes everything!
I guess my Dad was right about that too.

Day 12 – Love Lets the Other Win

Today I was to demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between me and my spouse.

We have actually been having a significantly less amount of disagreements since I started this dare, and the day was pretty calm.

Spencer has been talking about wanting to buy his parents some sort of tablet to use. I was confused at why this was our responsibility since he is the youngest child and still in school and we have other needs to meet.
I mean he has older siblings who have real jobs and are in real life and are more than capable of doing something like this for their parents.

Do I see that my husband is trying to be an amazing son and do something nice for his parents? Of course! I think his intentions are amazing, I just didn’t really get why this was our responsibility.

So I made a point to agree with him and support him in this decision to help his parents out by buying them something like this.

The part of the dare I didn’t do was to tell my spouse that I was putting their preferences first. I felt like making a statement like that would be what would start an argument or make the entire situation blow up past where it needed to be for sure. So I ignored it.

Day 13 – Love Fights Fair

Today I was dared to talk to my spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement, and then abide by them when the next argument occurs.

Really?
This is something that we have tried and tried and tried in the past and it only leads to worse arguing and nothing is ever accomplished.

But, it was my dare, and so I did it.

Although I was really nervous that having this discussion would lead to an argument, it didn’t. We only laid 1 ground rule for future arguments, but, in my opinion, it is a really BIG one and will greatly lessen the length of the argument.

Day 14 – Love Takes Delight

Today’s dare was to neglect an activity that I would normally do so that I could spend quality time with my spouse.

Today was a rough day. I just really felt on edge and Spencer got a haircut and was late getting back so Aniston was 4 minutes late to dance/gymnastics and there is almost nothing I hate worse than being late. I would definitely rather not go than be late. And I really dislike taking responsibility for someone else’s actions.

Anyway, I took a deep breath, calmed myself down and relaxed.

Spencer was using a new program for a school project and needed some help. Of course, he needed help right during my workout. Although I have been trying really hard to work out and to drop the baby weight, I stopped what I was doing to edit his project and help Spencer with his project.

Not only did I help him during this time, but I made sure to praise him and to let him know that I thought that the work he did was great.

I’m sure there are a thousand ways I could have made this dare so much better, but I was impressed with myself for even accomplishing this dare on such a rough day.

Day 15 – Love is Honorable

Today’s dare was to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine.

Sometimes, I feel like I already do a lot for Spencer, so that made finding something that was out of my normal routine tough to find.

It was a clean check day… Doing clean checks for 168 college guys can be rough and stressful. We didn’t get done until super late and we hadn’t eaten. I quickly ran to McDonalds, ordered up his favorite and brought it home for him to enjoy.

Have you noticed that most of my good deeds involve food?
Is that unhealthy?
Like, not unhealthy because it was McDonald’s, but unhealthy psychologically?
No wonder I can’t get rid of the baby weight.

I know it probably wasn’t the most grand or amazing thing that I could have done for Spencer, but it was something that went above normal and a way, that I felt, expressed my respect for him and all his hard work around our apartment complex.

Food makes everything better.
Yep.
It’s unhealthy.

Day 16 – Love Intercedes

Today’s dare was to pray for my spouse and to specifically pray for three areas where I desired God to work in your spouse’s life and in my marriage.

I didn’t want to do the dare today.

I am so annoyed with Spencer today and with his time management skills… or lack thereof, and I am feeling incredibly stressed because the University is coming to our complex today for an inspection.

I feel as though I have gone above and beyond in my duties and had to do Spencer’s as well because working out and eating were more important than getting these jobs done by the deadline. I feel as though he doesn’t understand that anything that he does incorrectly or doesn’t get done at all falls back on me and I get to take the blame for it. I absolutely HATE taking responsibility for another’s actions.

To make matters worse, Benson is super clingy and teething and is crying all the time because he absolutely needs to be held 24/7. Holding a screaming, teething baby on top of my office hours and my hours alone with the kids at home while Spencer is in school makes for a pretty rough and long day.

Sometimes I feel as though I have gotten absolutely nothing done.
Either that or that I have annoyed all my tenants because they have to put up with that when they come into my office.

But I have learned that prayer can truly help you in life especially in those moments where you feel as though you are about to break.

So, today’s dare was perfect.

It’s funny how many times I have said that, but I’m finding that some of these dares are falling on the most appropriate days for them. Crazy how it works out like that.

Today I prayed for patience in my marriage, I prayed for Spencer to have a clear and open mind so that his school work would come easier to him, and I prayed to love Spencer more.

Praying to love someone more may seem like a really weird thing. But I prayed to love him more because I feel like when you are reminded of love that you have for someone and feel that love frequently, you can be more understanding and forgiving and you become more willing to work harder towards your relationship.

I needed to pray today.
So I did.

And you know what?
I felt so much better afterwards.
I felt peaceful and less anxious about our inspection.
I felt like I could handle Spencer a little better.
Benson didn’t stop crying.
But I guess you can’t win them all right?

Don’t get me wrong here.
I still felt plenty mad and annoyed.
The prayer didn’t cure me of all my ill feelings.
But somehow I was able to push them aside for a while and get the stuff done that needed to be done.

I definitely prayed more than once today.
For the same three things…
Over
And
Over
And
Over.

Day 17 – Love Promotes Intimacy

Today’s dare was to talk to my spouse about issues that we may have, and resolve to love my spouse despite these issues.

It was really important to me that during this dare that I really take the time to really listen and to do my best to understand what issues are most important to Spencer and also to be able to voice my own issues as well.

This was an uncomfortable and unproductive conversation in my opinion.
It’s always awkward and weird to talk about problems and issues you have with someone who you are constantly with, but obviously it was something that needed to be done.

The conversation was short.

The resolution to love despite these issues is something that I have to choose to do. I have to make that a priority.

This dare was not one of my favorites.

Day 18 – Love Seeks to Understand

Today’s dare was to prepare a special dinner and to spend this time focusing on getting to know your spouse better.

So in our world, dinner is tough.
So we did breakfast instead.

Spencer and I really had a whirlwind of a courtship and engagement.
From first date to wedding date… 6 months.
I know… that’s straight up insane.
Add to that finding out you’re pregnant on your 2 month wedding anniversary.
We really didn’t get to know each other as well as some other couples may.

I feel like I really do learn new things all the time about Spencer.

I find that the best way to get to know your spouse better is to constantly ask questions.
Sometimes that means pretending to like something that maybe usually you wouldn’t have an interest in.
But I know that when people do that for me, it means the world to me.
So why would I not want to do that for others?

This is definitely something that I have to constantly be working on and continuing all the time. This is not a one-time ask questions for a day then it’s over.
This is a 24/7 job and I absolutely have to be willing to dedicate my time and energy to be able to get to know Spencer better all the time.

This dare was enjoyable for me and I think that Spencer really enjoyed me asking questions and digging deeper into who he is and what he enjoys.

Day 19 – Love is Impossible

Today’s dare was to review the past dares and to consult with and ask God for strength and grace in order to meet my goals in my marriage.

I can pray.
I definitely know how to pray.

I am no stranger to asking for help from my Heavenly Father.

I prayed for patience… again.
I prayed for patience to be able to understand Spencer and to not raise my voice or my temper when things were not going the way that I intended or wanted.
I prayed for strength to be mindful of Spencer’s needs and wants.
I prayed for the motivation to see this challenge through until the end. There are definitely days where I feel like things have already improved so much that I don’t’ need to keep going.
But then I remember that I’m not even halfway through.
And if things have already gotten so much better after 19 days, then I can’t even imagine how amazing they will be after 40.
I prayed for understanding and knowledge.
You name it, I prayed for it.

The motivation and desire I feel to be better after I pray is amazing!

Day 20 – Love is Jesus Christ

Today’s dare is to take God at His Word and to trust Christ.

I can do that.

I’m surprised at how these dares have changed from focusing purely on Spencer to changing my focus more towards Christ, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

I have seen in the past how as my love for Christ has grown, so has my love for those around me.

I feel strengthened by this dare.

It’s like one of the Sunday school teachers at church said on Sunday, “I feel as though I can do no wrong when I feel the Spirit.”


I feel as though I can do no wrong when it comes to my marriage if I have the Lord’s help and especially if I consider myself strengthened by the Lord.


If you want more information about the Love Dare check it out here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

DAY 1486... Elder Kinville

My younger brother Jake, is currently serving a 2 year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Scotland/Ireland mission.

This is something that I admire greatly because I cannot even begin to imagine putting my entire life on hold for 2 years to teach and to serve others.

I am daily amazed at the strength of my 19 year old brother doing so out of his own free will.


Every week he sends us e-mails, talking about his adventures as the life of a missionary in the UK. 
His letters are uplifting and inspiring.

If you are interested in reading his letters, I promise, they are super entertaining, you can do so on the following blog:


He has about a year and a half left, and I can guarantee you that his letters will never get boring!

Monday Munchies... No Bake Cookies



I am definitely more of a salty food kind of gal as opposed to sugary food kind of gal.

But every now and then I just need something sugary and amazing.

Usually this happens late at night.

Growing up my Mom would make killer no bake cookies, and lucky for me, they are amazingly simple to make and usually I have everything that I need in my cupboards so I can make them at 2am without wishing we had a store open past 6pm in Rexburg to buy ingredients. (Yes, that's an exaggeration, but the only thing 24 hours here in Rexburg is McDonalds. This became an issue when it came to pregnancy cravings late at night or early in the morning. Boo.)

SHOPPING LIST
1 1/2 cup of Quick-Bake Oatmeal
1/2 cup of Coconut (optional)
3/4 cups of Sugar
1/4 cup of Milk
1/4 cup of Butter
3 tbsp of Chocolate Cocoa Powder

1. In a pot, mix together sugar, butter, milk and cocoa.

2. Bring to a boil, constantly stirring.

3. Remove pot from heat and stir in oats and coconut.

4. Mix well.

5. Drop cookies onto wax paper, lined in a cookie sheet, and place in freezer.

6. Remove after 2 hours.

ENJOY!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

DAY 1483... 10 Months Old


I don't think that I will ever get over the shock of how quickly my children grow. 
I am so amazed at the constant change that comes with having children.
It's scary!
Change scares me almost more than anything, besides snakes, but here I am living it every single day.
It's insane!

Our little Benson is 10 months old!
I cannot believe it!
He is awesome!

Although he refuses to crawl... he has crawled backwards a few times... he is a master of moving!
He scoots himself on his belly or on his bum to get where ever he needs/wants to get.
And he does it incredibly fast!


His hair is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
I always loved Aniston's little curls, courtesy of Spencer, but Benson's little fohawk with his curls melts my heart!
He is such a little stud!
Aniston has never had a hair cut.
Pretty sure Benson is going to need one really soon and that makes this momma kind of teary eyed and nervous!
That's my child's hair!
What if they mess it up?
Nerves!

Benson loves his hands.
We call him Ricky Bobby sometimes because he is always putting them up in the air like he doesn't know what else to do with them.

He does wave, just not at the most appropriate time.

He now says "Dada", "yay" and "Nana".
No "Mama" yet, but I try really hard every day.
He yells all the time!
Yells and blows raspberries.
It's hilarious.


He is a teething beast right now and has been quite miserable.
We just ordered an Amber necklace for him to give that a shot.
I'm desperate!
Spencer didn't love the idea of a necklace on a boy, but something has to be done!
Aniston never had an issue with teething. 
She is super tough.
But I just want my happy little Benny back.

Benson is still super obsessed with Aniston.
Every morning when I get him out of his crib he smiles at me and is so happy.
But the instant he sees Ani, life couldn't be more perfect!
Lucky for us, she still really loves him too.


You know, sometimes I forget how blessed I really am to be a Mom.
That's not fair to my kids or to me.
I am so incredibly lucky and blessed that they are in my life and call me Mom.
I am a Mom!
Sometimes I still can't believe that.

Happy 10 months Benny Boo!!!
You are seriously THE BEST!

And just because... I whipped up a little comparison between my little Benny Boo and Ani Kate both at 10 months.
I definitely still think that they look alike, but I am starting to see more and more of a difference between the two of them.


DAY 1480... Apple Picking

It has been a crazy past couple of months!

Aniston has had so many firsts! 
First day of school
First day of dance
First day of gymnastics
First fishing trip
So it seemed only right to add another first to the list.

First field trip!!!

Aniston was so excited! Like, Christmas morning excited.


(PS - We just bought our first Christmas gift of the season 2 days ago. Way too early!!! But no one should ever pass up a killer deal on Minnie Mouse roller skates, especially when they have a Disney obsessed child who pretends to roller skate on the wood floors. I know roller skates in December in Rexburg? Really? But it is what it is...)


Aniston has been obsessed with Shirley Temple lately, animal crackers in my soup anyone?


So it's no surprise that Snow White just happens to be her favorite Disney movie at the moment. I still remember when I learned that Shirley Temple voiced Snow White... It was mind blowing. 
Snow White was honestly never a movie that I watched a lot growing up, but considering that it's been on rapid replay at our house for the past 2 weeks, you could probably consider me a Snow White expert now.
I guess I did go through a phase where I would tell anybody who would listen that I wanted 7 kids and I was going to name them after the 7 dwarfs, but hey, I was 9. What 9 year old doesn't say weird things?

Anyway, Snow White eats an apple right? Well, to Aniston, that made her field trip of apple picking at the BYU-Idaho Apple Orchards the best thing ever! Because no one else has ever eaten an apple on a movie? And this even confuses me. Why are children so excited about apple's when the apple was poisonous? It hurt Snow White! Why aren't are children comprehending this? Shouldn't this movie instill a fear of apples?



She definitely wasn't the only preschooler to pretend to be Snow White when eating an apple.


First of all, it was a gorgeous day! Thank goodness too because we have been having some nasty weather here lately. It was maybe a little too warm if you ask me. It probably didn't help that I had a 22lb baby, who happens to release body heat like crazy, strapped to my chest. 
Just in case you were wondering, parents were invited and Spencer and I brought Benson and attended Aniston's field trip together.

Family field trip.
Kind of the best thing ever if you ask me.


The BYU-Idaho Apple Orchards have so many different types of trees and apples.
Seriously, apple's of every color!
It's gorgeous! 
It's actually the location of Aniston's 1 year old pictures.



PERFECTION!
Brief moment of shock... 
Benson will be 1 in a little over 2 months!
WHAT?!?!?

Aniston was so lucky to have her 6 foot 2 Daddy there to lift her up so that she could actually pick the apple's directly off the tree. It kind of made me feel bad for all the other kids who didn't have Mom or Dad there and had to take the apple's that the teachers had picked off the tree.
Spencer offered to assist the other children, but no one took him up on the offer.
Their loss.



Together, all of the preschoolers picked 55lbs of apples. 
Pretty sure Aniston accounted for 20lbs of that.


Anyone need any apples?


I'm somewhat of an apple snob, so I actually buy the presliced apples to eat.
My front right tooth is actually fake, cheerleading accident - long story, and so I was always told to never directly bite into an apple or there was a possibility that my front tooth would fall out. 
That seems super shady right?
Nevertheless, I do not bite directly into apples, and although I own an apple slicer (one of the best inventions ever), buying the apple slices presliced is just amazing.

The point is, we now have so many apples in our house and I hate to waste food.
Aniston did eat 3 apples yesterday, so maybe she will surprise us all and stop eating goldfish and pretzels for snack and switch exclusively to apples for the next couple of weeks.

It was a fantastic field trip and such a blessing to be able to attend it as a family.
One of the benefits of having a husband in school I guess.
Positive thinking.

It is so much fun to watch your child interact with other students and to be in a learning environment.


And it was a great activity to put little Benny Boo to sleep.
BONUS!


Those curls!
L-O-V-E

Two thumbs way way up for apple picking.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DAY 1466 - 1476... THE LOVE DARE PART 1

Marriage is tough. 
PERIOD!
There are definitely amazing moments and it can be great, but it also takes a lot of work.


Spencer and I just celebrated our 4 year anniversary.
Probably not a big deal for a lot of people, but when the marriage is between two very

Stubborn
Independent
Hard Working
Opinionated
Strong Willed

People... 
Sometimes it get tough.

I recently noticed myself having more bad thoughts than good thoughts about my marriage.
In fact I found myself being more negative than usual in general.
That's not at all how I wanted to feel about my marriage, and I knew that it could be better and I knew that I had the power to singlehandedly change the way I was feeling about and viewing my marriage.

I know that I married an amazing strong man.
I know that I married my best friend.


So I decided to make a change.

I remember watching the movie Fireproof, and I googled "Love Dare".
I found myself facing a 40 day challenge.
I'm the kind of person where if you dare me to do something, it's on.
So I dared myself to take the dare.
Dare accepted.

This is my journal of the first 10 days of my dare.

I figure it's safe to post here because Spencer doesn't read my blog.
You see... I haven't told him about this yet.

Day 1 – Love is Patient

FACT: I am the most impatient person in the world. One time, when I was 20, I was silly and I prayed for patience. I didn’t end up getting married until I was 25, and in my mind, that was my Heavenly Father’s way of teaching me patience.

Anyone who knows me knows that I speak what’s on my mind. I rarely have a filter and I am known to be very honest. Brutally honest. So today’s dare was hard for me. To bite my tongue and to only speak kind words, when I’m use to speaking sarcastically at times and speaking my mind which is not always pleasant, was definitely a challenge.

It is an insanely stressful week around our house. We manage men’s housing at BYU-Idaho and it’s check-in week. On top of that all of our units were remodeled during the past 7 weeks and they are behind schedule and it’s crazy. Lots of stress to say the least.

But I completed the dare. I watched my tongue and spoke kindly, and I saw a difference.
I was insanely shocked. I truly didn’t think that it would make a difference really.
Spencer reacted well and was kinder in return, whether he knew it or not, and we both seemed to gain patience and understanding, and despite the stresses and insane life we have right now, we had a good day.

Surprise!

Day 2 – Love is Kind

Every day, you are supposed to build off of the previous day’s dare. So you do the dare assigned to the current day along with continuing what you did the day before. At least that’s how I understand it.

That could get tough.
Not sure I will be so successful in that aspect of the Love Dare.

Today’s dare was to do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

Since it has been so stressful around here getting ready from check-in’s, we have really neglected our needs. Like eating. We usually remember to eat around 5pm. So when I went to drop Aniston off for Preschool at noon, I thought it would be nice to run to Wendy’s and pick up Spencer some JBC’s (Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers) for lunch. I got there, got in the drive through, ordered, and then remembered that Spencer had my debit card.

So embarrassing!
At least I tried.

Spencer asked me what took so long when I got home, so I told him that story, and then told him to leave so that he could buy himself lunch.

Part of me feels as though I have failed in this dare, but the other part of me thinks it all worked out in the end. I mean, Spencer still got a yummy lunch and it was still unexpected.

Fun Fact – Day 2 was our 4 year anniversary!

Day 3 – Love is not Selfish

Today’s dare was to buy your spouse something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”

This was hands down the hardest and longest day of the year for us. It was the official check in day. 9 crazy hours of 168 tenants checking in, maintenance needs to be met, cleaning to be done, parents to deals with.

INSANITY!

Spencer and I literally were running nonstop and did not eat 1 bite until 7pm.

What a day!

We escaped out of town the minute the office closed for the day to avoid late check-ins. After we finally ate, we went to some stores. Spencer found a really nice, I mean really nice, long sleeved Henley shirt that he liked. So without throwing a fit, or asking for something in return, I told him to get it. I think he was actually really surprised. Man oh man does he look good in that shirt.

Win-win right?

It felt really good to just allow him to get something without any strings attached. I mean I can totally see how this purchase also benefits me, but it was definitely something that I would like to do again. I don’t often say yes when he requests a purchase without asking for something for myself. It made Spencer incredibly happy and it made me feel really really good to do something unexpected and specifically for him.

Day 4 – Love is Thoughtful

Today’s dare was to contact your spouse someday during the day with no other intention except to ask how their day was going.

This was the perfect dare for this day! It was the 2nd day of check-ins and things were still a little crazy. We were both super busy. It was really easy for me to find a minute to pick up my phone and call him to ask how he was doing. Spencer totally thought that I was calling with another job for him to do, so it seemed to me that he was really shocked when I told him that I didn’t have another job to give to him and was just wondering how he was doing.
I mean seriously, I had been calling him all morning with more and more jobs, so to take a break and to just make sure he is okay and doing well, was a HUGE surprise!

This surprising him thing, by changing the way I am acting in our marriage, is really making me really happy and makes me really excited to see what the next day’s dare will be.

Day 5 – Love is Not Rude

Today’s dare made me a little uncomfortable. I was to ask my spouse to tell me 3 things that cause him to be irritated with me. I was not allowed to attack my spouse or justify my behavior.

Tough.

Spencer didn’t even want to tell me 3 things because I have a history of justifying my behavior and fighting back. I think he was surprised when I didn’t fight back, but there was also 10 minutes of awkward silence after he named the 3 irritating things I do. Of course in my head I was justifying and attacking, but I remained calm and really focused on listening to him and his concerns. It was definitely not easy and definitely not comfortable, but I survived and so did he and it didn’t cause any further issues or an argument at all so that was fantastic.

I’m honestly not sure what to do with this information though…

Day 6 – Love is Not Irritable

Today’s dare came in a few different parts. First I was to react in loving ways to tough circumstances that may arise, as opposed to reacting with irritation.

I was asked to make a list of areas in, my marriage, where I needed to add margin to my schedule. My list is as follows:

I could add more margin in my marriage when it comes to:            
  Patience
  Unselfishness
    Spirituality
    Intimacy

Honestly, I felt like the list could go on and on. There are so many ways that I can do better in my marriage! Obviously, that’s why I’m doing this dare.

The next part of the dare asked me to list any negative motivations that I could let go of. Here is that list:                        
Netflix
 Hulu
TV in general

Basically that’s it. I feel as though I do really good as a wife, but when it comes to watching my shows, that’s when I can literally see myself getting distracted and becoming lazy and a whole lot of things that I do not want to be as a wife or even as a mother. I really need to set some limits when it comes to watching my shows. I think that too often I justify it by watching them on my iPad, so that I can still be mobile and get things done, but that’s not a good enough excuse.

Time to make a change.

Day 7 – Love Believes the Best

Today’s dare was to spend a few minutes and write down, on two sheets of paper, the good qualities of your spouse and the negative things about your spouse on the other one.

I am not going to share these with you for obvious reasons.
                       
Then I was asked to hide both sheets of paper.

Sometime throughout the day, I was to take one of the positive characteristics and thank my spouse for this.

Honestly, I almost forgot to do the actual thanking. We were literally in bed falling asleep when I remembered. But I did it. I rolled over to him and thanked him for being a good dad. He seemed surprised that I said that out of nowhere, which really got me thinking. I apparently must not be as appreciative as I think I am due to all of the surprise that he has as I have been attempting this love dare. Something else to think about for sure and to make sure that I am doing more often.

Day 8 – Love is Not Jealous

I LOVED today’s dare!

Determined to become your spouse’s biggest fan, today was a day to focus purely on Spencer’s achievements. First I needed to take the list of negative characteristics that I made yesterday and burn it. Well, it’s raining in Rexburg, and our tenants are not allowed to have open flame, so I figured I needed to set a good example and abide by that rule as well, so I just popped it in the shredder.

Side note. I shred a lot of things. When I get a mean e-mail, I print out a copy and shred it. It really makes me feel awesome. I still have to deal with the issue obviously, but I am able to feel better for a brief moment.

The next part of the dare was to share with Spencer how excited I was for him and a specific achievement that he has accomplished lately. I really do love praising people, especially my husband and children for their accomplishments. Spencer has been working hard towards so many different things lately physically, spiritually and academically. There were so many different things I could praise! Narrowing it down was the difficult part.       

So I decided not to narrow it down at all, and I just praised the heck out of him for absolutely everything I could think of.

And it felt really good to do so!

Day 9 – Love Makes a Good Impression

For today’s dare I was asked to think of a specific way to greet your spouse. Then once I have done this I was to determine to change the way I greet my spouse to reflect my love for him.     

I know that the way I am greeted really has a significant impact on how I feel from that point forward. I like to be acknowledged and to feel welcomed, so I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to do this for someone who I truly care so much about.

It felt so good making Spencer feel welcomed. I somehow mustered the energy to run and jump and throw my legs around him as a greeting. I’m shocked that he could even hold me! I married one strong dude!

Seeing his surprised reaction really made this day’s dare so much better!

Seeing his reaction throughout these dares have really made this more of a game than a hard effort to change my marriage. I mean, the change is still happening and things have improved like crazy, but it’s actually really fun.

Day 10 – Love is Unconditional

Today’s dare was to do something out of the ordinary something that would prove to my spouse that my love is based on your choice and nothing else.

Besides doing the things that I always do to show my love like cleaning, laundry and meal making, I really wanted to do something more.

Earlier in the day Spencer had mentioned something about craving this tiny Mexican Taco place in town and how good that sounded. So I told him I was planning something else for dinner, but when dinnertime rolled around, I was dressed, the kids were dressed and we took Dad out to dinner.

It was AMAZING!

I, of all people, know the power of fulfilling a craving. I seriously crave something every day.
It’s the worst!
But I could see how happy it made him to have something that he desires simply fulfilled and to be able to do it with his family was surely the cherry on top.


Let’s be honest. It was a win for me as well because Mexican food just happens to be my favorite type of food. 


So far, this Love Dare has been an AMAZING experience. 
Seriously.
I love that there are still 30 more days.
I can truly see a HUGE change not only in my marriage and the way that I am viewing my marriage, but I also see a huge change in Spencer, who has no idea that I am doing this and working really hard to make my marriage the best it can possibly be.
Just simply by changing the way I am acting in my marriage it has changed my husband, and only for the better.
He has become the man that I knew I married and I can't help but to be so happy.
I cannot wait to see where this next 10 days will take me.

If you want more information about the Love Dare check it out here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Munchies... Chicken Avocado Burritos


I am a lover of all Mexican Food.

It's to the extreme, that my husband, who does like Mexican food, doesn't love it anymore because I want it all the time. 
Like every day, for every meal want it.

I want it right now, for breakfast!

I think I NEED chips and salsa ASAP!

So good!

These easy burritos are delicious and amazing!

SHOPPING LIST
1 Chicken Breast
Cilantro
1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 an Avocado
1/2 cup of Low Sodium Black Beans
Creole Seasoning

1. Cut and cook chicken. My secret to amazing chicken? Add some Creole seasoning.
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!


2. Cook black beans.

3. Cut open and dice avocado. (I learned that if you put the unused half of the avocado in a Tupperware container with half of an onion, the avocado will not brown. Interesting.)

4. Chop Cilantro and combine it with avocado.

5. Add chicken to cilantro and avocado mixture.


6. Heat tortilla over stove until crispy. A griddle works best.


7. Top tortilla with black beans, chicken mixture and top with cheese.


ENJOY!

Such a simple meal, perfect for lunches!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Family Fun Friday... Game Night

Aniston has been begging to go on a family bike ride for the past week. 

Unfortunately, for those of us here in Rexburg, the weather has been super nasty and super cold.

Aniston is not impressed.


So instead of taking the bikes out for a ride, Aniston was more than happy to settle for a game night.

We let her pick the games and the order in which we played them.


All of them lasted an entire 3 minutes except for Chutes and Ladders which was played until someone won.
Can we talk about how long that game can actually take when you're playing with a 3 year old?!?!
It's a patience builder for sure!


But we really had so much fun.
Free fun!

She is at the perfect age when she is starting to understand rules, makes up her own rules and really turns the game into a huge part of her life.


We did have to wait until Benson went to bed to play, since he is mobile now, but we will make it up to him today.

I forget sometimes how much fun it can be to whip out one of our millions of games and just play as a family. 

Here's to more game nights!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Munchies... Malibu Chicken


I love chicken.
Understatement.
And I am always looking for new ways to cook chicken.
I really don't like to bore my family.

This recipe was perfect and a total hit!

SHOPPING LIST:
Chicken Breasts
5 Egg Yolks
Minced Garlic
2 cups Bread Crumbs
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper
Thinly Sliced Ham
Swiss Cheese Slices

1. Mix egg yolks and minced garlic (as much or as little as you like, I used about 5 TBSP and you could taste it well) into a ziploc bag. Shake then add chicken to bag. Marinate chicken in fridge for 4+ hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and salt and pepper into a bowl.

4. Pour dry mixture into 9x13 baking dish.

5. Add chicken to pan and coat chicken evenly with dry mixture.

6. Cook chicken for about 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

7. After 40 minutes place 1 slice of ham covered by 1 slice of swiss cheese on top of each chicken piece and bake for an additional 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.

ENJOY!!!



Saturday, September 12, 2015

DAY 1468... We've Only Just Begun


It's only been 4 years?
We have only been married 4 years?
Isn't it crazy when you get married and you can't really ever remember anything about life before?
I seriously feel like my life now, is the life that I have always had, and more importantly the life that I was meant to have.

It's been a crazy 4 years!
We have moved 5 times
In 2 states
We had had 4 cars
We have gone through 3 years of school
Have graduated with 1 master's degree
We have had 2 kids
Countless jobs
Millions (literally... do the math) of midnight Taco Bell runs
and
Still no honeymoon.
Someday. Right?

Marriage is truly an incredible experience.
You are spending all day everyday with someone who you chose to be with.
You are spending time with someone who can make you happier than anything else
and can also make you more angry than you have ever imagined possible.


Marriage is an incredible experience.
The more I experience it, the more I understand why I needed to wait until I was 25 to start a marriage.

You cannot be selfish in marriage.
You cannot be dishonest in marriage.

It's so crazy to transition from everything just being about you, to every decision that you make now effects someone else either directly or indirectly. 
And once there are kids involved... forget about it.


There are times when I want to be selfish, and at times I probably have been.
I could blame it on the fact that I was older when I got married so I was more set in my ways.
There are a thousand different things I could blame it on, but in all honesty, it's just a flaw of mine.
Sometimes I have brief moments of weakness.

Marriage has taught me a lot.
I am learning to be more patient.
I am learning to say sorry.
I am learning to put others ahead of myself.
I am learning to compromise.
I am learning to love deeper than ever.
I am learning to respect.
I am learning to be open minded.
I am learning to communicate.
This list could go on and on...

I understand why people get divorced now.
It's an out when things get really tough, and let me tell you, things do get tough.
I will say that there are definitely times when divorce is okay,
but irreconcilable differences... BS.
Irreconcilable differences = laziness, impatience and selfishness
In my opinion.

Marriage is hard.
It takes time and effort and sometimes it's not fun.
But it is worth it.


Family is everything and I have had a blast the past for 4 years creating and loving on mine!


Happy 4 year anniversary to us!
9/10/11

Let's not forget our cute babies!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

DAY 1459... Back to School Traditions

I spent so much time researching and exploring every outlet I could find in search of some fun back to school traditions for our family.
I know, I know, I probably could have spent that time being way more productive, but it is what it is.

Since Aniston is our first child to go to school (preschool counts right?), this was totally unexplored territory.
Setting up lifetime traditions distributes a crazy amount of pressure!
There are so many fantastic ideas and options!

I love traditions and I think that it's important to have traditions in your home. Traditions are what I remember most growing up. But it's really tough to figure out what is going to work best for your family and to know your limits and what you are going to be able to follow through with.

After several weeks of research we finally settled on our back to school traditions.

Back to School Feast

For our back to school feast this year, we chose Hawaiian Haystacks. This was the perfect dinner for this year because Ani ate a ton a vegetables and loves the options that this meal offers her. It's so awesome to have the ability to pick and choose what you want, and knowing that it's pretty healthy. Aniston loves options! I used rainbow colored circles on fishing line to decorate our dining room and made cute name plates for everyone, including Benny Boo.







Benson could not stop staring at the circle's hanging from the ceiling. 
He LOVED them!

While we were eating, we talked about what Aniston was most excited for when it came to school (the playground). We also talked about her fears. Her biggest fear?  Not knowing where the bathroom is. I made sure that she knew where it was and we practiced telling our teachers that we needed to go potty. I am happy to report that there have been no accidents (knock on wood).


I think it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed the feast!

Back to School Blessing

Every year, growing up, my Dad would give us each a Father's Blessing the night before we went back to school. This year Aniston got her very first back to school blessing from Spencer and it was AMAZING! For such a rowdy child, she was so quiet and so calm the entire time and then reached for Spencer to give him a hug right after he was finished. It was AMAZING!


Family Theme

So we I picked a theme for our family for this school year. This year I chose a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley that I absolutely love! The quote simply says, "Try a little harder to be a little better."

Once I settled on a theme, I got onto publisher and designed the print and had it printed, framed, and placed in our living room so that we can see it every day.


Hopefully it will inspire all of us to be a little better in our daily activities.

School Clothes Shopping

School clothes shopping was always one of my favorite things to do to prepare for school growing up. I was surprised at how picky my little 3 year old was when it came to buying new clothes, but we were able to agree and settle upon some super cute clothes!

I'm sure that this is one of those traditions that will change in the future and that she will rather go with friends than with Mom so I just really need to enjoy this time while it lasts for sure!

Back to School Pictures

We took our very own back to school pictures. I know to many they aren't anything special, but it was another opportunity to capture an important moment in our lives and for me to get more practice using my nice camera. They turned out AMAZING!


You can view all the images here.

Back to School Treat

The night before school started, after our Back to School Feast, we let Aniston pick any place that she wanted to go for dessert. She picked frozen yogurt, for the gummy bears and sprinkles of course.


First Night Pizza

For dinner on the first day of school we hit up Papa Murphy's for an easy and delicious dinner option. Aniston is obsessed with Mini Murph's and it really made for a simple evening especially after such a crazy busy day. 


Yes, she is wearing gloves... Weird, I know, but she loves wearing gloves even in 90 degree weather.

I am completely aware that these may change or adjust as time goes on and we have more children attending school, but for now we are pretty satisfied with our back to school traditions. We had blast implementing them and I can't wait to do them all over again next year!