Our Frugal Date Nights {plus a short rant}

Our Frugal Date Nights | RaisingArrows.net

All the marriage books and seminars will tell you how important it is to have a Date Night with your spouse, but I have to admit I’m a little skeptical of “great marriage advice” that only seems to be relevant to the last 30 years.  Ma & Pa Ingalls weren’t scheduling a weekly Date Night.  They were too busy and too poor.  So, before I go any further with this post, I want to say loud and clear that having or not having a Date Night with your spouse is not going to make or break your marriage.  Quit thinking that Date Nights are going to fix everything.  It’s going to take a whole lot more work than that.

Now that we have that clarified, let’s move on, shall we?

Ty and I do go on Date Nights here and there.  Most of the time it involves eating out and a trip to the store.  But sometimes we just need some couple time that doesn’t involve leaving the house or money.  It’s those “Date Nights” I’m going to share with you here.
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1.  Amazon Prime Streaming Movies – Nearly a year ago, we took the plunge and got Amazon Prime.  After Creed was born, we began to use the streaming videos feature (we had actually purchased it to save on shipping costs).  It was only $79 for the entire year and we got a free month.  So, on nights like tonight, Ty and I may snuggle up on the couch and watch a little Duck Dynasty Season 1 for a few giggles.  I actually have some very fond memories of those newborn days, watching Amazon Prime with baby and Daddy late at night as we got accustomed to our new little bundle.

2. Driveway Dates – Oh, how I love these! Ty will call me up when he’s on his way home from work and say, “Meet me in the driveway.”  Now most of the time when Daddy shows up after work, I yell, “Daddy’s home!” and they all come runnin’, but not on these nights.  These nights are just for him and I.  I slip on my shoes and sneak out the door, leaving the baby in the care of an older child (or bringing him along if need be).  Most of the time I’ll jump in the passenger seat of the car and we’ll sit there and listen to music, talk over the day, and talk about things to come.  It’s a time we can have all to ourselves.  Eventually, the little boys look out the window and see Mommy and Daddy just sitting out there and figure we must be lonely without them, but until that moment, it’s a Date Night…in the driveway!

3.  Coffee or Tea on the Front Porch – Another favorite!  This is usually a morning thing and it usually starts with a, “Hey, you wanna have coffee on the front porch before you go to work?”  We have to stress to the little guys the fact that Mommy and Daddy are having some alone time (we usually tell them it is a “meeting” because that sounds super boring and something they would not want to be a part of).  They are slowly learning that they need to refrain from opening the door nine million times to ask us when we are coming in.

If it’s coffee we are having, it is often Starbucks Coffee Blonde Roast, Willow Blend and I have some sort of creamer in mine.  If it is tea, it is a Sweet Cinnamon Orange.  It may not be night time, but it sure is special!

4.  Cook Something – Sometimes a Date Night is one spent in the kitchen together.  I don’t often get Ty’s help in the kitchen, so when I do it is a real treat!  Nothin’ says lovin’ like Ty cookin’!  It could be a recipe of my choosing or something like Elvis Biscuits (one of Ty’s favorites), but no matter what, we have a blast!

5.  A Walk Around the Outside of the House – This has become my new form of exercise.  Taking Ty along makes it twice as fun!

6.  Put the Kids to Bed Early – Don’t laugh, but sometimes Date Night simply means Without Kids Night.  Putting the kids down for some Rest Time and just relaxing in our own company is quite wonderful.  We need a strong marriage so we can be strong parents.  Putting the kids to bed early is a good way to take this time to reconnect.

These are some of our favorites, but I want to hear from you!  What are your favorite frugal Date Nights that are easy to pull off?

In Honor of Our 17th Anniversary {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Ty and Amy

This past week, Ty and I celebrated 17 amazing years together!  We’ve been through so much since we said “I do” all those years ago, but I love him more today than I could ever have imagined back then.  He’s my best friend.

So, in honor of our 17th anniversary, today’s Welcome Home Wednesday is featuring marriage posts from last week!

First up, Katie from Adventures as Mr. & Mrs. offers ideas for those times when you are apart from your spouse.  She and I share deployments as one of the hardships of marriage.  Seeing the photo in her post, brought back memories.

Here’s my man leaving for his first deployment back in 2002:

Ty's first deployment

Lori from Always Learning shares how easily a woman can tear down her home with her attitude.

What-is-marriageRebecca from Mom’s Mustard Seeds shares a beautiful post on the true definition of marriage.

And this post on how Keri from Growing in His Glory met her husband was just too cute to pass up!

Welcome Home Wednesdays
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The Dream Squasher Wife

The Dream Squasher Wife | RaisingArrows.netI am a dream squasher.

Ty will tell me about something he wants to do and the practical side of me jumps up and quickly blurts out something uber-insensitive.  In fell swoop, I squash his dreams.  Sometimes all it takes is a look.  Sometimes I add in words to land the blow.  I react first, think later.

The things Ty is suggesting aren’t outlandish, but tend to be contrary to what I want to do or outside my comfort zone.

Go hunting the entire weekend?

Flabbergasted stare.

Buy a cabin in Alaska and live off the land.

Are you kidding me?

I like to have things my way and I wasn’t raised with an adventurous flair.  My husband, on the other hand, is one of those men who has never been satisfied with mediocre.  Everything he does is full-tilt.  This is fine by me until it directly affects me

like taking away my weekend plans or taking me away my comfort zone.

A couple of years ago, I realized every time my husband came to me with an idea or plan or just something he wanted to talk about, I inevitably came up with some super realistic view of his dream that turned it all on its head.  He wasn’t allowed to dream in my presence because his dreams scared me, and if I could make his dreams look as if they weren’t well-thought out or simply a bad idea, then I wouldn’t have to worry about his dreams affecting me.  What I didn’t know was how much I was hurting him in the process of protecting myself.

When I finally saw what I was doing, I quickly changed how I was reacting and tried very hard to not say anything.  But, just recently, I realized even that isn’t the right answer because silence is still dream squashing.

I need to dream with him.

I don’t dream with him because I’m afraid of encouraging him.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of hardship.  Fear of not having my way.  They all frighten me.  My dream squashing is how I control the situation.  Keep the upper-hand.  Be the one in charge.

Not a lovely picture of biblical submission, eh?

I don’t want to be a dream squasher any more.  In fact, I want to take the extra step away from dream squashing and into dream weaving.

Up scene

Remember Up?  {I cry every time I watch it.}  It’s the story of a dream.  A crazy dream held together by love.  I want that.

None of the stuff we dream may ever come to fruition, but at least we dreamed it…

together.

The Marriage Priority

Making Your Marriage a Priority | RaisingArrows.net

If you look at the titles of the topics here on Raising Arrows, you will quickly see

I am a mother.

The minute I wake up (and often long before I wake up), I am mothering in some way.  I nurse the baby, I homeschool the children, I change diapers, cook meals, and wash laundry in copious amounts.  I hug, kiss, and snuggle from sun up to sun down.  I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world, but…

It would be easy for my entire life to become child-centered.

Amy and Micah

I was blessed to be raised in a home where my parents’ marriage was a priority.  I knew I was loved, but I also knew I didn’t belong in every conversation and every situation.  My mom and dad were strong parents because they had a strong marriage…not the other way around.

Many husbands feel they play second fiddle to the kids.  Many moms feel they could parent a whole lot better if Dad would get out of the way.  They aren’t in this together because they don’t do much of anything TOGETHER.

Our homes are not to be child-centered.  They are to be family-centered and that starts with a marriage that is grounded and focused.  The marriage must be a priority.

Not every moment of the day should be child-filled.  Not every conversation need involve the children.  Closed doors are good.  Locks are even better.

I want my children to know that mommy and daddy love them because they love each other.  I want them to know that the covenant between us is of the utmost importance and when the going gets tough, mommy and daddy stand united…not because we are their parents, but because we are of one flesh.

Here are a few ways you can help make your marriage a priority.  I hope you will see that it is often the little things that speak the loudest.

Have the children go to bed a little early, so you and your husband can have time to unwind together.

Make a special treat for him every couple of days.  Make sure you tell him you made it with him in mind.

Hang out in the bathroom while he takes a shower and chit-chat through the curtain (or surprise him by joining him behind the curtain!)

Have him call you on his way home from work so you can meet him in the driveway for a little “alone time” in the vehicle.

Keep him updated on the happenings at home (not always the bad stuff, please!) via phone, text messages, or email.

Pray together.

Share a pillow.

Don’t be afraid to lock the bedroom door…in the middle of the day.

Have him read the Bible to you.

Laugh together.  A lot!

Dance in the kitchen.

Kiss in front of the kids.

Teach the children not to interrupt conversations.

Don’t always choose family activities based on what the kids want to do.  It’s okay for the kids to spend the weekend doing what mom and dad want to do, going where mom and dad want to go, and yes, even eating where mom and dad want to eat!

May your marriage be blessed and your parenting a testimony to that love!

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6

The Two Newlywed Cooking Stories You Might Hear If You Visit Us

I’m almost certain every married couple has their own newlywed cooking disasters stories.  Here are the two most common stories we tell visitors when the topic turns to cooking and early marriage.  Have a seat in a comfy chair and prepare to be entertained!

Story #1
“Ty Loves Albacore Tuna”

As a newlywed, I did not know how to cook much of anything.  I had wooed my unsuspecting husband with some tummy tempting treats I had eeked out of a cookbook in my mom’s cupboard.  I looked brilliant!

Fast forward to a few months into our marriage and you will find me cooking out of boxes and cans.  One such can was an albacore tuna can.  You see, Ty’s mother had informed me that Ty loved albacore tuna!  In fact, she bought several cans for me and I was cooking Tuna Helper several times a week, despite the fact I HATED tuna.  I would nibble politely on the meager helping on my plate whilst serving up a heaping helping onto Ty’s, knowing he loved it so much he would never notice how much I had to scrunch up my nose to get the stuff down.  I even began to branch out from the boxed tuna helper and come up with my own casseroles centered around my new husband’s beloved albacore tuna.

One day, as we sat at our little dining room table (better recognized as a card table with folding chairs), my husband looked over yet another lovely tuna dish and into my eyes and said,

“I appreciate your cooking and all you do, and I’m sure you must love tuna, but I don’t know how to say this…”

Oh no!  My cooking really was atrocious!  Something was burnt?  It didn’t taste like his mother’s tuna noodle casserole!  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…..

“It’s ok.  What’s wrong?” I replied, bracing myself for the worst.

“Well…I don’t like tuna.”

“WHAT?!  But your mother said you loved tuna!  She even bought me your favorite kind!”

“Oh no, I HATE tuna!”

“I HATE tuna too!”

“WHAT?!  You mean all these months we’ve been eating tuna this and tuna that and neither one of us liked it?”

Yep, that’s right…we had both been politely choking it down, thinking the other one loved tuna.  And that, my friends, was the last tuna dish cooked in our house.

For the record, my mother-in-law really DID think Ty loved albacore tuna.  We’re not entirely sure how this misconception came about, but it sure made for quite a story!

Story #2
Hominy Casserole

Around this same time, my beloved husband informed me he really liked hominy.  Well, I made no bones about the fact that I seriously hated the stuff (I mean, come on!  It looks like blown up corn and tastes like mush…no thank you.)  But, I am a good wife and I scoured my Betty Crocker cookbook to find a recipe that would make my husband happy.

The only recipe in the book was one that called for jalapenos.  Remember me…the young wife who doesn’t know how to cook?  Well, I had never in my life cooked with jalapenos, but the recipe made it seem simple enough, so I purchased all the ingredients (including the disgusting corn-on-steroids in a can) and headed home to make my husband something he would rave about for years to come.

Alone in our apartment kitchen, I dug into those jalapenos like I’d been doing it all my life.  I sliced and diced, threw them in the casserole (seeds and all) and then it happened…

A hair got in my eye.

I brushed it away.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I fell on the floor, writhing in pain.  My eye was burning, my whole face was burning!  I couldn’t see.  I could only roll around on the kitchen floor begging for mercy!

Finally, I managed to get myself propped up to the kitchen sink and get my hands clean and my eyes open once again.  I finished the dish with love because, after all, this was for my husband and no amount of pain could deter me from bringing him a lovely meal.

That night, I proudly displayed my hominy casserole.  It really was quite beautiful with its golden color and flecks of green jalapenos peeking out.  And even though I had no intentions of eating it, I served it up with love to my wonderful spouse.

“Oh, it looks wonderful, ” he said as he lifted the first bite to his mouth.

Next thing I know, he’s croaking out something about needing water as his face turns red and he starts hiccuping.  Instead of waiting for me to decipher what in the world he’s talking about, he jumps up and runs to the refrigerator and grabs the milk jug and begins chugging.  When he can finally breathe again, he politely explains to me that the seeds of the jalapeno are the hot part and perhaps I put too many in.

Um…perhaps I put them all in.

Good times.

and yes, that was the last time I made hominy casserole.

Your turn!  Favorite newlywed cooking stories, line up here…

The Epidemic of Stupid Men and Useless Fathers

I started noticing it several years ago.  It seemed every child’s cartoon, every television show, every movie featured men who were downright stupid and fathers who were worthless to their families.  The families of the sitcoms and popular movies were driven, not by strong father figures, but by moms who could juggle everything, including the occasional dumb male.

Because we don’t watch a lot of television and have been pretty choosy about the movies we watch and own, I had all but forgotten my disdain for the typical big screen family.  That is, until my children, who had been watching clips of PBS kids cartoons online, mentioned the stupidity of a certain father on one of the shows.  As I sat down to watch this show with the kids to see what they were talking about, I noticed that he wasn’t just ignorant, he was a buffoon.  His only purpose on the show was act like a child and refer his son to his all-knowing mother.

What was this teaching our children?  And worse yet, what was this teaching our young boys about the role of husbands, fathers, and men in general in today’s society?

I know it is comical to watch the antics of Fred Flintstone and the like, but when our entire culture is saturated by this stereotype, is it no wonder that we begin to see the real flesh and blood men of our society, our community, and our own home as stupid and useless?

We cannot, as Christian families, perpetuate this stereotype because it is in direct contradiction to the Holy Scriptures.  God’s order for the household is

God – Husband – Wife – Children

This isn’t about women’s rights or defeating the male chauvinistic pig, it is about an order that brings glory to the Lord and blessing to our lives.  Men aren’t supposed to be wimpy doormats any more than women are.  Men need to get up off the floor and women need to stop wiping their feet on their men.

We must do our best to offer our children a positive God-honoring view of the family.  We need to teach them about fathers who were and are heroes.  We need to be vigilant about what we allow our children to watch and be ever-discerning of the stealthy messages and attitudes brought into our homes through media and other methods.  We also need to keep our own attitudes and actions in check.

Women, start treating your husband like a hero.  Tell your children about this man you married and give them a healthy view of marriage and manhood.

Men, take your rightful place and take responsibility for the steering of this family.  Be strong.  Be courageous.  Be the kind of man you want your sons to be and your daughters to marry.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13