4 Ways to Address Your Anxieties About Starting a Family

4 Ways to Address Anxieties about Starting a Family Wow, you guys, have I missed blogging! This unexpected blog break went longer than I anticipated. These past few months have been filled with wedding planning and enjoying the summer with my family, but I can't wait to get back into a regular blog routine. Today, I'm super excited to have Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory sharing some great ways to address anxieties about starting a family. Caleb and I fall into the absolutely-we-want-children category, but I have some friends who are still on the fence. Undecided or not, these four tactics are a must when it comes to deciding to start a family. Be sure to leave some comments on what you all think!


It seems like there are two types of couples in the world: Couples who are absolutely sure they want children and couples who are absolutely sure they do not want kids. In reality, there’s also the category of couples who can’t decide whether or not they want kids.

It makes sense to be in the undecided category. Children can simultaneously be a tremendous blessing and a heavy burden. Child-rearing is not for everyone. There are many concerns that need to be addressed before you take the jump and decide to start a family. Everything from financial planning to discipline techniques will cross your mind as you consider having kids. However, there are ways to confront and dispel your anxieties. If you don’t know whether or not you should start a family, start by addressing your concerns with these four tactics.

1. Involve Your Partner

You definitely must involve your partner in your decision making process. If you are on the fence about having kids, you need to see where his feelings lie. He may surprise you and be totally on board with having kids, or maybe he has no desire whatsoever. If you haven’t had the “when are we having babies” conversation yet, the time is now!

As soon as you figure out what your partner wants, or if he even knows what he wants, the process will be a little easier. Plan your family together. Talk through all of your anxieties. Is this the right time for you? Will there ever be a right time? Discuss what frightens you about children and discuss what excites you about having kids. Talk about what you want your lives to look like in 10 years. Are there kids in the picture? Are you happily married and childless? If you are undecided, a long conversation about what you and your partner want is just what you need.

Also, before you start a family, you need to be sure that your relationship with your partner is in a healthy place. Plan practical ways to nurture your marriage while raising children. If there are any signs of abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical, you cannot have children. An abusive environment is not a safe place for babies and it’s certainly not safe for the person taking the abuse. Put your relationship’s health first before considering having children.

2. Observe Your Friends With Kids

Chances are strong that you have good friends who already started their families. They may absolutely love being parents. Good for them! You already know their outward opinions. What you need to do is have an open and raw conversation with them.

What is parenthood really like? When will you get past the sleepless nights and, really, how bad is potty-training? They will probably say the kids are worth all of it. Of course it is worth it for those parents because they truly love their kids. Be sure to push them to be honest. What’s worth it to them may not be worth it to you.

Don’t just talk to those friends of yours. Observe them. Do they seem happy overall? Do they seem run down, worn out and just plain tired? To an extent, these are symptoms of parenthood, but are you willing to go through that?

3. Plan Financially

Do some smart financial planning as you consider starting a family. A huge anxiety for couples who can’t decide if they want kids is the financial burden. A child costs a lot of money to raise. A 2010 USDA report on Expenditures on Children by Families says that it can cost anywhere from $8,480 to $23,690, depending on the age of the child. Ask yourself if you are in a good financial position to raise a child. Do you want to raise a family on one income or two? Plan carefully and use logic and reason to think through this concern.

4. Do Your Research

Think about all of the fears you harbor about having a baby. Labor, long nights with no sleep, breastfeeding and even diaper-changing might discourage you from starting a family. Those things are difficult to handle, but certainly not impossible. Read books, follow mommy blogs and ask for advice.

You don’t have to be an expert before you have a baby. There are plenty of resources out there for parents. The internet has everything you need to make an informed decision about even the most specific events. For example, this video checklist tells new parents everything they should consider for their child’s first road trip. You can’t get much more specific than that!

If you’re undecided, someday you’ll need to make a decision. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time you need to research, plan and carefully consider starting a family!

What about you? Do you want to start a family? Or are you still on the fence?

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Image by Viktor Hanacek

I'M GETTING MARRIED!!!

Caleb and Brittany are getting married on August 7, 2016 Yes, you read that right! I'm engaged! As of last Wednesday, April 6 :)

Caleb is the sweetest man on earth. I'm beyond blessed to spend the rest of my life with him. Not only are we best friends, but we're business partners and each other's biggest cheerleaders. I've loved watching us grow together these past few years–from Maplewood (our high school) social rules to figuring out college, to running a business and celebrating life's little moments, he's always been my partner in crime. I'm beyond excited to be his wife!!

Ok, enough mushy stuff, I bet you're all just dying for the story of how he asked, am I right? :)

On Wednesday, April 6, after my class got over at 12:30, I got dressed up because he told me that we were going out to Omaha. (Pause here for a moment. I had an idea that he was going to propose, because he was only here in Nebraska for a few days, and who goes to a big city in the middle of a week after lunch haha! BUT, I had no idea what he had planned or how he was going to ask.)

So we get in the car and head off for the city. We stopped to have a delicious picnic that he planned for us (it was soooooo good!) and then he took me to the zoo because he knows how much I love Australian animals. So here we are, me in heels and a dress and him in a dress shirt and church shoes, walking around the zoo, being stared at by moms pushing baby strollers in yoga leggings and tennis shoes. And it was fun! :) I loved seeing the penguins, monkeys, and the cute wallaby!

After the zoo, he took me to Modern Love, a top-rated vegan restaurant in Omaha. I had wanted to go here for Valentine's Day, but they were booked in advance, so I was excited to find out that he had reservations for us at 5:30pm!

After eating a ton of food, we went to the Old Market, the historic district in the city. We found a parking lot and Caleb went to go pay the $5. Turns out, the machine doesn't give out change. He only had a $10 bill, so it took all $10 and he never got his $5 back. So we said, "oh well!" and decided to move on. He asked me to look up directions to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, 3,000-foot footbridge across the Missouri River between Iowa and Nebraska.

Well, the bridge was actually a 30-minute walk from where we were, so we decided to give up our $10 parking and drive there :)

Caleb and Brittany are getting married on August 7

It's now about 7:00pm, and a bit chilly. As we walked onto the bridge, Caleb reminisced on the past four years we've spent together. He told me how, after one of the first days we hung out, he was on the sidewalk at our high school and prayed, "Dear Lord, please let her like me!"

As we get closer to the middle, he explains to me why he picked this bridge for a special occasion (cue tears!) In short, he said that no matters what happens in life, through the ups and downs, we will always make a bridge back to each other.

He stops, turns me around, gets down on one knee, and says those magical words, "Brittany May Houchins, will you marry me?"

At this point, both of us are crying! Of course I say yes, yes, yes!! We hug and kiss and then he remembers the ring and says, "Wait! Take this!" :) haha!

I don't remember any other people being on the bridge at the time, but it turns out that there were actually a bunch of people and their dogs who witnessed the whole thing! They congratulated us and then we went our separate ways.

From then on, I was on Cloud 9! I called my parents and sister to tell them the great news, and then went back to school to find our friends.

The next day, I booked my dream wedding venue for August 7, 2016, a.k.a the best day ever!!

I can't wait to marry my best friend! :)

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Getting Active This Spring

Tips for getting active this spring. Springtime is finally here! Seeing the cherry blossoms blooming and watching the grass turn green make my heart leap for joy! :) There's just something about the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days that gives me an energy boost.

I was talking with Caleb the other day on ways we can make exercising a habit. One thing we've decided to do is Crossfit workouts at home (because joining a Crossfit box is expensive). I've also decided to go to the Christian yoga studio across the street a few times a week (yes, there's a Christian yoga studio!).

As we were talking, I realized that getting active really isn't that hard. With a few basic tools, the long-awaited springtime can be full of fitness and fun. Will you join me? :)

Tips for getting active this spring.

Yoga pants: c/o Yoga Outlet Athletic jacket: Nike [similar] Shoes: Nike [similar] Water bottle: BKR

Tools for getting active this spring

A sense of adventure

Keep your eyes open and you may discover that there are opportunities for getting active right in front of you. Do you drive past a park, mountain, or path every day without a glance? Try stopping the car and exploring the area; you may discover some new favorite spaces. Do you reflexively get behind the wheel to do an errand? Try walking there; it may take longer but you will feel great when you return.

Comfortable yoga pants

Yoga pants are my go-to if I'm doing anything active, whether I'm going on a bike ride, practicing some yoga, or simply running errands on a Sunday morning. Not only are they comfortable, but they come in some pretty cute and flattering styles too!

Supportive shoes

Wearing the right shoes while you're doing anything active is important to avoid any joint or back pain. Keep in mind that not all shoes are created equal; the activities that you will be doing matter. Running shoes are not the same as trail hiking shoes, and you want to be sure you give your feet the best shot at supporting your body through your springtime activities.

Hydration

Water, water, water; staying hydrated is key to feeling great as your activity increases and the temperature rises. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to make sure you always have something to drink.

"Getting Active" bucket list

Sometimes the hardest thing about getting active is finding the motivation to do so. One way to get encouraged is to create a "Getting Active" bucket list for the spring/summer. Here's a snippet of mine:

  • Go on a walk around the block after dinner every day
  • Do some spring planting
  • Ride bike on 5 different trails around the state
  • Play frisbee golf with friends
  • Take a yoga or pilates class
  • Do yoga every morning outside
  • Walk around the local zoo or aquarium
  • Bike to the beach instead of driving
  • Play with the neighbor kids outside
  • Rock climb
  • Play tennis with my sister

Something to remember as you're making your "Getting Active" bucket list: Do what you love. If you are not a fan of going to the gym, why go? I'm not big into running, so I didn't put that on my list. I considered training for a 5k that's in the fall, but I decided against it. Why? Not because I'm lazy. Because I simply don't enjoy running. So do what you love. And soon, you'll be checking off items on that bucket list of yours in a snap ;)

Tips for getting active this spring.

What about you? What's on your "Getting Active" bucket list? How do you stay active every day?

#RealTalk: Blogging Less Doesn't Make You a Bad Blogger

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in over a month.

And you know what? That's ok.

 

Honestly, just a few months ago, the thought of not blogging for even a week was hard for me to wrap my mind around. We're told that to have a successful blog we need to:

1. Be active on ALL social media

2. Have a new blog post up 3-5 times a week (but the more frequent, the better)

3. Be constantly thinking up ideas of what to blog about

But the truth is, most of us don't have the time to do all of that. And if we try to do it all (while maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family, managing school/work, raising children, running errands, cooking food, exercising....basically living a life) we might not put our 100% best into what we're sharing with the world.

Now don't get me wrong, I give major props to all you full-time bloggers! I'm so inspired by you guys and happy that you've found something you love and are doing it! (and making some extra moo-lah, too $$$) ?

But honestly, I haven't even thought much about blogging this past month. I was just so engrossed with school, spending time with family, and working on our Kickstarter project.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

It wasn't until people at school started telling me how much they love my blog that I realized, "Oh no, am I a bad blogger? I haven't blogged in so long. People are counting on me, and I'm letting them down."

Insert mini panic attack.

Five days later, on a surprisingly warm sunny day, I sat outside doing absolutely nothing. It was during that quiet time, where I paused from all of life's demands, that I realized three things:

1. I've developed a love-hate relationship with technology. I don't like always being tied to my phone and having to constantly keep up to date with Twitter, post my life on Instagram and Snapchat, all while growing my Facebook page and remembering to pin to Pinterest. So, I'm adopting a new philosophy:

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there's time.

What if we spent just half the time we do on the internet and social media on something else? What new adventures would we have? What relationships would improve? I'm not saying to swear off of internet and social media completely, but I do believe in being intentional about how we interact with it—directing and using it for good, rather than letting it direct our time.

2. Blogging less doesn't make me a bad blogger. I am going to blog less, but it will be consistent because I do love blogging! I'm aiming for 2-4 posts a week to keep burnout at bay.

3. Blog post ideas are everywhere. You don't have to sit at your desk to make a list of blog post ideas. The best ones seem to hit you when you're taking a walk, talking with a friend, listening to a lecture, or just observing people in the street. Those ideas tend to be the most unique as well.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

I don't regret not blogging for a month. I feel like I've come out of my break refreshed with a new outlook, and that makes me excited! Frequent blogging doesn't make you a good blogger. Being your authentic self, sharing ideas, encouraging others to grow and learn—that's my definition of good blogging.

So, if my updates seem quiet online, it's because I'm engrossed in simply living. ✌️

What about you? I want to hear your thoughts! How often do you blog? Do you feel like it's the right frequency for you?

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Fresh Thyme Farmers Market + Skin Care Giveaway

 

*I was compensated with free products from Fresh Thyme to use in this giveaway*

Fresh. Healthy. Natural. Organic.

Those words are big in today's society. It seems like everyone is jumping on the healthy bandwagon...and that's a great thing! I'm all about eating organic and incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out a new store here in Lincoln called Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and just had to share my thoughts with you. At first I thought it was just another expensive health food store, but boy was I wrong!

Think Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

Now imagine they both met and had a baby.

That’s Fresh Thyme.

It's relatively cheap, with an extensive produce department with organic and local fruits and vegetables, a natural meat department, healthy deli foods, bakery goods, 400 bulk food bins, dairy and frozen, and health supplement products.

Even better, they carry "normal" foods as well, such as Pillsbury biscuits, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Campbell's Soup cans. What's not to love?

I visited the store twice in it's opening week, and both times the parking lot was so crowded I had to park across the street at Barnes and Noble and walk over. People love this place! Right now, Fresh Thyme is primarily in the Midwest, but it is rapidly opening new stores. I highly recommend checking out if there's a store near you!

Another thing I love about Fresh Thyme is that their body care section is full of natural products. From paraben-free lotions, natural makeup and facial care products, to fragrance-free shampoos and aluminum-free deodorant, all your skin essentials are on their shelves. This is definitely my new go-to grocery store.

And so, to celebrate healthy living and Fresh Thyme new stores, I have an amazing giveaway for all of you! :)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals skincare set AND a $25 gift card to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market!

The set includes:

  • Perfect C Serum, an ultra-nourishing serum that helps brighten and tighten your skin, improving overall skin tone.
  • Remarkable Retinal Serum to help fight fine wrinkles around your eyes! The skin around your eye is thinner, more sensitive, and has fewer oil and water glands, so it needs more moisturization. It's never too early to start anti-aging products. I'm 20 and I use an eye cream at night. Since we're constantly smiling (because we're happy), it causes the skin to crease repetitively, which eventually leads to wrinkles over time. So, the earlier you start using an eye serum or cream, the less fine lines you'll notice later down the road.
  • Sun Shield SPF 28, an environmentally safe, full spectrum, translucent daily UVA/UVB sun protection that contains soothing aloe to rehydrate your skin and calm sun-induced irritation. Perfect for all those trips to the beach!

The set also comes in a cute little MyChelle cosmetics bag. It's the perfect size for traveling!

MyChelle Dermaceuticals is just one of the many natural product lines Fresh Thyme carries. This specific skin care set is worth $110! And you just might win it! :)

Giveaway ends 2/23 at midnight (CST) and is only open to residents of the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever been to Fresh Thyme?

 

Emotions. Life, Death. Sadness, Joy.

photo-1444167827109-712640e22c8e

What a week.

If I were to put my feelings in emoticons, I would have felt every single one within the span of 7 days. Two major events occurred, one on each end of the spectrum: one very sad, one extremely happy. Let me give you a timeline:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I find out that my grandpa is in the hospital with pneumonia and sepsis.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Good news! My grandpa is doing much better and may get to go home if he gets enough strength back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Caleb and I finish a project we've been working on for the past few months: a Titanium portable phone charger! We submit it to Kickstarter to be approved! Huge sigh of relief :)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

8:00 am | I wake up and find out that my grandpa took a turn for the worse overnight. He was intubated and transferred to a hospital in Minneapolis.

9:00 am | I go to class and can't focus.

10:30 am | Dad calls and tells me that the whole family is at the hospital. Grandpa isn't doing good.

11:30 am | I go to another class.

12:40 pm | My phone rings. Dad tells me that grandpa has passed away peacefully. My heart breaks.

1:00 pm | I go to Caleb's and reminisce of my childhood with grandpa the rest of the day.

Arlo and Marjorie Houchins| August 17, 1957

Arlo and Marjorie Houchins| August 17, 1957

Friday, January 22, 2016

Caleb and I find out that Kickstarter accepted our project! :D

Saturday, January 23, 2016

We officially launch our T-Bolt Kickstarter around 5:45 pm! Within five minutes of launching, we get over $200 in pledges!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our project gains momentum! As I'm typing this, we've got $3,321 pledged! We surpassed our $2,000 goal within 17 hours.

What a week.

Caleb and I will be going home on Wednesday for my grandpa's funeral, which is on Saturday. He was such a good man! I'm so proud to be his granddaughter :) Here's a bit from his obituary:

Arlo Houchins

Arlo L. Houchins, age 85, of Cambridge, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on January 21, 2016.

He worked for Northwest Bell for 37 Years in the Cambridge area. After retiring, Arlo worked at John Hirsch Cambridge motors, where he logged 770,000 miles shuttling cars around the state and country. He was a Korean War veteran and a lifetime American Legion member.

Arlo loved taking long walks, especially with his grandchildren to places like the park and Dairy Queen. He was an avid hunter, fisherman, as well as a card player.

He sure loved to walk. He'd take us to the Dairy Queen down the street and while we were walking, I'd find pennies along the side of the road. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that he would somehow fling them ahead of us as we walked without me knowing/hearing. Grandpa, I can't wait to see you again someday. We can take a walk and I'll be sure to find all the pennies you'd leave for me to find. ❤️


The other major event that occurred this week was our Kickstarter launch! Caleb and I are so grateful for all the support we've received.

The T-Bolt is amazingly strong and gives you up to 17 hours of extended battery life. If you're new to Kickstarter, think of it as pre-ordering. Once our campaign is over, we'll begin making the product and ship it out to you.

Even if you can't/don't want a titanium phone charger, we'd really appreciate if you'd share our project page (just click the image below!) I am so proud of Caleb and the work he put into this!

Fund the T-Bolt on Kickstarter! | Titanium phone charger

It comes in lots of other colors too, like light blue, pink, and gold! :) Let me know if you have any questions.


While I'm extremely sad about my grandpa's passing, I know that he'd want me to go on and make a difference in my life. He was a go-getter.

And while life is always full of ups and downs, I have hope that one day, when Jesus comes back, everything will be made perfect again. No more tears. No more sadness. Only joy.

What a week.

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Set Goals, Not Resolutions // My Word for 2016

Set goals, not resolutions It's time we lose the long list of resolutions.

You know, the ones that seem so appealing, promising yourself a better life at the end of 365 (or in this case, 366) days. The ones that the majority of people forget less than a quarter into the new year?

Or maybe you're one those who laugh at the thought of resolutions. Most of those so-called resolutions are silly, nebulous things anyways. “I’m going to give up carbohydrates.” “I’m going to exercise more.”

This year, instead of setting resolutions that you're likely to break, try daily and weekly goals to help keep you focused. The difference here is that one's a hope, and one's a plan.

And if goals are still too much for you, then at least do this one thing:

Choose a word for the year.

Just one word. Because a single word can create a longer lasting change than a dozen New Year's resolutions.

Last year I wrote about my word for 2015: Actualize. My aim for the year was to "make real or concrete; give reality or substance to" my dreams. I even simplified my goals down into six categories to make them easier to actualize.

  • Blog
  • Relationships
  • Faith
  • Creativity
  • Health
  • Business

Overall, 2015 was a pretty good year :) Did I achieve all my goals? No. Is that ok? Of course! Whether I achieve them all or not isn’t the point at all: all that matters is that I’m working towards what makes me happy.

My Word for 2016

But now that 2015 is over and we're already more than a week into 2016, it's time for me to come up with a new word. It wasn't easy.

For one thing, I needed a word that would encompass all that I wanted 2016 to be. I also needed it to create a spark in me that could carry throughout the entire year.

Then I encountered another problem! I began to have too many options :( Words began to flood my brain.

Pause. 

Ease.

Simplify.

Love.

Peace.

Mindfulness.

What was I going to do??? I took a little break to get a glass of water and that's when it hit me.

Serenity // the state or quality of being serene; calm; tranquil

Serenity. The perfect combination of all those other words I was considering before. (I also realized that it's one of Pantone's Color(s) of the Year for 2016. That's probably why it popped into my head!)

Calm. Peaceful. Untroubled.

This word is calling me to step away. Breathe. Focus. Take time to choose.

It calls for a life of balance; the perfect counterpoint to the fast-paced, fractured and hurried lives we live.

Because really. What's the rush?

I want to live with ease. With so many things calling for my attention, what and who really matters? Is the perfectionist inside me willing to simply let go, and just be?

This year, it's my intention to be an activator of life instead of a passive bystander. I want to live with serenity.

Now it's your turn. Choose a word. It's better than a New Year's Resolution.

P.S. If you need some ideas, check out MyOneWord.org.

What's your word for 2016? Share it in the comments below!

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How to Get Out of Any Rut and Stay Inspired

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through rough times. I hope you all had a great Christmas spent with those you love :) I've been enjoying every minute of being home. As we gear up for a new year (already?!), sometimes we need a little push to get and stay inspired. Giving us some amazing advice to do so today is blogger Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory. She's guest posted on the blog before, sharing great tips for getting in the habit of getting up earlier and making time for hobbies while working full time. Check them out!


If you’ve ever found yourself in one of life’s ruts, you know it can be somewhat difficult to bounce back to your normal, happy self. Maybe you’ve just been stressed at work or have been dealing with additional responsibilities in your personal life. Whatever it is, there’s no rut a positive attitude and bit of inspirational material can’t fix!

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through those rough times.

1. Replace Bad Thoughts With Good Ones

Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, replace it with a positive thought. For instance, if you catch yourself ruminating on a mistake you made in the past, stop yourself and replace that thought with “I’m allowed to make mistakes. What’s done is done, and it’s time for me to move forward.”

Keep track of what negative thoughts haunt you the most and develop a list of positive affirmations to counter them. With enough practice, positive thinking will become second nature.

2. Make Positive Lists

Making lists is another great exercise in positive thinking. Once a day or whenever you need a little pick-me-up, challenge yourself to list 10 things you’re grateful for or 10 things you like about yourself.

Having a hard time getting in the habit? Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Make a pact that you’ll text each other something you’re grateful for every day.

3. Set SMART Goals

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated. Increase your chances of success by setting SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely — goals.

Remember to set both short- and long-term goals. Long-term goals are the big things that keep you inspired, such as graduating from college or buying a house. Focusing on long-term goals alone can be overwhelming, though. Short-term goals — such as going to bed by midnight all week or passing calculus — are the stepping stones that help you achieve those long-term goals.

4. Listen to Music

Music can be a powerful motivating force! Find the music that inspires you, whether it’s hip-hop or movie soundtracks, and use it to get yourself going. Try putting together a playlist to energize yourself as you work toward your goals.

5. Do Something Creative

It’s important to set aside time for creativity. Nurture your inspiration and turn it into something tangible. Regardless of your skill level, creative self-expression is the perfect way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and into a more shareable form.

Whether you write, draw, craft or code, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment as you look over your own creation after finishing it.

6. Learn a New Skill

Learning new skills can do wonders for your confidence. Pick something that’s fun and interesting to you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try skateboarding, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to pick up a new language or teach yourself to code. Why not start now?

7. Know When to Ask for Help

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, knowing when and how to ask for help is a valuable skill that everyone should learn!

There’s a common misconception that asking for help takes away from your independence, but that’s just not true. Karley and her service dog, Kaiser, are a perfect example of how getting the help you need can make you more independent, not less.

8. Find a Community

Seek out people who share your struggles. If you’re raising kids alone, join a support group for single parents. If you’re struggling with a chronic disease, find solace in a Facebook group for people who share your illness. Whatever your situation, there are sure to be other people going through something similar.

Learning how your peers deal with their challenges will give you ideas and inspiration for tackling you own. Plus, you’ll have people to confide in when things go awry.

9. Take a Break

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to recuperate. Make the most of your lunch breaks, weekends and vacations. Instead of working through your lunch break or sleeping through the weekend, focus on taking care of yourself during your precious free time.

10. Update Your Resume

Even if you’re not planning on applying for a job anytime soon, updating your resume is a great way to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished. Once you’re done sprucing up your resume, print it out on nice paper and keep it as a reminder of what you’re capable of.

The key to all of these strategies is to make them part of your routine. Don’t just pull them out during your darkest hour — make them into healthy habits and stay inspired for the rest of your life.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Top Gifts for Guys

 

*This post contains affiliate links*

Gift Ideas for Men
Gift Ideas for Men

Every year I struggle with what to get the guys in my life. Men are so simple, but that's what makes it hard. Most of the time they want something like tools (which I have no idea which one to get, they're so picky!), something expensive (like a TV or computer), or they simply want nothing at all! Thankfully, there are some options when it comes down to this. Here's some my favorite items for guys that would make great Christmas, birthday, or anniversary gifts.

1. A Stunning Watch | Price Varies

JORD makes incredibly gorgeous wooden watches. The Dover Series (pictured above) is perfect for the man who likes to build things. With gears in full view and structured style, this self-winding automatic watch is sure to be on his wrist day in and day out. Check out JORD's full collection to find the right watch style for the man in your life (and you ladies as well!). Order before December 20, 2015 to get it in time for Christmas!

I've also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you've had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below - it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

2. Dollar Shave Club | $3 – $9 per month depending on blade preference

Guys tend to use the same razor blade over and over because they're so expensive to buy repeatedly. The Dollar Shave Club solved that problem. Every month they send four high-quality razor blades straight to your door at an affordable price. The $6 razor is perfect and comes with free shipping! That’s less than you pay for Netflix! And as a bonus, women can use them too :) I got this for Caleb last year, and he loves it so much.

3. Gingham Tie | $19.99

A gingham tie is so classic and instantly brings an outfit up a notch. Get your man a nice tie to wear on some fancy dates with you. Or just dress up in your house. I mean, he’ll want to wear this tie even when he doesn’t have to.

4.Weekender Bag | $98

If your man travels often, consider gifting him a stylish, yet durable weekender bag. Everlane's quality is by far my top choice, as they show you transparent pricing right on their website. Meaning they show you how much it cost to make, and how much competitors are charging for the similar items. I have the reversible denim and black leather bag on my wishlist :)

5. Tommy John Trunks | $29 $26

Does your guy complain about, err, you know where? Consider gifting him something he'll be thankful for: super soft micro modal underwear. As with all Tommy John underwear, they come with a "No Wedgie Guarantee." No more complaints!

6. Thinsulate Gloves | $30 $11.99 Sale

Give your man a good, warm, stylish pair of gloves for the cold winter months. This pair features Thinsulate insulation, touchscreen friendly fingertips, ribbed cuffs, and a leather palm.

7. Box O' Balls | $9

Toss one of these balls into closets, gym bags, or smelly shoes and they'll do wonders to absorb noxious odors. Made of aromatic Eastern Red Cedar, they are a self-renewing non-endangered natural resource, meaning that they are reusable as well!

Shop more ideas for men below. Be sure to check out 75+ Stocking Suffer Ideas for Men!

 

The Perfect Last Minute Holiday Gift for the Ladies: JORD Wooden Watches

*I was compensated with a free product from woodwatches.com*

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Gift-giving is a real struggle for me.

It's not that I don't know what type of things they like, but rather, I just want to make sure that their gift is something that they truly love. Do you ever feel the same way?

Last month my beautiful friend Noemi lost the watch she wore every day. And when she told me, I knew immediately what the perfect gift for her would be: A wooden watch from JORD.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

You may remember how I gifted a JORD watch to my dad on Father's Day and was amazed at the wonderful craftsmanship. These watches are made from a variety of natural and sustainably sourced wood from all across the globe, are extremely lightweight, and have a crystal clear face. Absolutely beautiful!

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

Gifting the watch to Noemi was so much fun–her face lite up like it was already Christmas morning! The Sidney Series in Maple and Rose Gold is absolutely gorgeous. She gets so many compliments on it. It even has a stopwatch built in! This is not your regular everyday watch; it’s a unique and stylish accessory.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

JORD prides themselves on their prompt delivery with their aim to get the watch to you within 1 – 3 days with free worldwide shipping. It comes in a gorgeous wooden keepsake box, and you can even have the watch sized beforehand so it can be worn immediately!

So if you're looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift for a special lady (or man!) in your life, I highly recommend checking out JORD's collection. I gave my boyfriend the Dover Ebony and Copper watch and he loves it so much! That one is a self-winding automatic, meaning that there is no battery–just the fact that you wear it helps make the gears work (which you can see through the face of the watch too, btw).

The watch I have an eye on is the Frankie Zebrawood and Champagne watch. It is so luxurious and minimalistic!

I’ve also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you’ve had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below – it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

Don't forget to share your pictures with the hashtag #JORDWATCH. Enjoy! ;)

Which JORD watch is your favorite? Share it with me in the comments below!

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Currently... // December 2015

Four Year Anniversary Wishing / for the new iPhone, JCrew giftcards, this amazing oversized watch in gold saddle, a random assortment of Rifle Paper Co. greeting cards to add to my collection, and this coffee table book.

Remembering / our four year anniversary last month! :) I can't believe it's been that long. It feels like it was just yesterday we were in high school.

Wrapping / some small stocking stuffer gifts I got for my family. I'd mention what they are, except my dad reads these posts haha

Baking / is on hold for now. While I LOVE baking, I just don't have the time right now. I did send my dad a "very subtle" hint for a Christmas gift though. It's this cookbook that I've had my eye on forever now!

Decorating / our dorm room for Christmas! We have some hanging snowflakes and things to decorate our door, but we need to purchase more Christmas lights because someone stole our last year :(

Working / on a project that I can’t wait to share with you all. Stay tuned! I'll probably announce it next week :)

Counting / down the days until Christmas break. Ever since coming back to school after Thanksgiving, I've had no motivation to do anything, which isn't all that good, since finals are in two weeks... But on a brighter note, there's only 23 days until Christmas itself!

Planning / on buying a small fiddle leaf fig tree! These trees are all over interior decorating magazines and Pinterest. I'm not very good at keeping plants alive, but hopefully this will be different. Oh, and I'm planning on naming him, Wilson. Good plant name, huh? :)

Needing / a haircut. I love having my hair long (it's down to my waist), but because I straighten it so much it's a little dead at the ends. I'm going in to get it trimmed soon, but I'm not taking too many inches off!

Writing / this post during Business Finance class. Blogging is more fun :)

What’s currently happening in your life? What are you wishing / wrapping this month? Come linkup with Jenna and Anne for the currently linkup each month! :)

Currently... // November 2015

Currently... // November 2015 Cooking / the most wonderful, easy, quick and delicious pizza ever! We followed Gordon Ramsay's pan cooked method and it tasted amazing. It's cooked different than the traditional method because you pan fry the crust for 5 minutes and then put the toppings on and place the pan in the oven under the broiler for another 5 minutes. If you're looking for something fun to try and cook, try this!

Planning / lots of blog posts for you all! :) I know I was MIA in October, but my schedule is full for the next two months! I hope you enjoy them!

Smelling / the delicious pizza mentioned above. I'm still drooling.

Appreciating / good friends, as they are hard to come by these days. I'm blessed to have gone to school with some of my best friends since high school and make some new ones too.

Anticipating / Thanksgiving break. It may still be nearly three weeks away, but it's never too early to begin dreaming of home and all the food you can eat.

Using / the new emojis!! They're so much fun and they finally have a volleyball emoji! ?And a squirrel! ????<-- Wait, can you guys see these?

Listening / Adele's new single "Hello" on repeat. I was wondering when she'd come out with a new song and sure enough, it's a hit! I love how her style is undefined and can change at any moment within a song. That’s why I love "Hello", it’s passionate but soft and apologetic but bold.

Shopping / at Target for some nice winter sweaters. They are such a good price! I also snagged an amazing dark floral blouse that I've gotten so many compliments on!

Disliking / one of my college classes...

Wondering / when the weather will actually stay fall-like and I can finally put away my summer clothes. I was going to pack away my shorts and other summer outfits, but then the temperature got into the upper 70s.

Nerding / out by watching Big Bang Theory with Caleb. I only wish they had all the seasons available to watch on Hulu or Netflix :(

What’s currently happening in your life? What are you appreciating / anticipating this month? Come linkup with Jenna and Anne for the currently linkup each month! :)

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Adult Coloring Books: Beautiful Fun at Any Age

adult coloring I've officially become part of the coloring craze. Just wanted to share that :)

Last month, a friend and I went to a free event at a local bookstore where they provided coloring pages and colored pencils to use to relax and have a good time. It was so much fun to sit down and get lost in the intricate designs and patterns.

Since then, I have had my eyes on Tropical World by Millie Marotta, and yesterday I gave in and finally purchased it. I found that I can listen to lectures much better when I'm coloring than if I'm distracted on my phone or computer.

Because adult coloring books are often marketed based on their therapeutic value, I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a simple, fun way to ease your mind and relax.

Not sure if you're ready to commit to a full on coloring book?  Try out the many free coloring pages online, giving you the freedom of not having to jump into purchasing a book. All you have to do is print them and color!

What do you think? Does coloring help you relax? Are you part of the coloring craze? Let me know in the comments below! :)

adult coloring

owl

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Five Frugal Fall Activities

Needing to save money for the holiday season? Make the most of the rest of your fall bucket list by enjoying these five frugal fall activities! Someone pinch me. Is it really November 2 already?! It still feels like it's early October and autumn was just beginning. But now the days are getting shorter, the air crisper, and I'm getting the urge to bake warm goods because there's a seasonal change up ahead. One where, from November to April, we hibernate in our cozy houses.

But don't let it happen just yet! There's still time to finish that fall bucket list and enjoy the last few warm days of the year. Yesterday, the temperature here got up into the mid-70s, and today's forecast is 81! Granted, that's more like summer weather, but still. Even if you're saving up for all the holiday shopping that'll happen within the next two months, you can still have loads of fun with those you love before winter hits.

To encourage you to get out and make the most of the last few days of autumn, here are my top five favorite frugal fall activities that show that you don't need lots of money to have a good time!

Five Frugal Fall Activities

1. Stroll through a cornfield maze with warm apple cider

While most cornfield mazes will have a cost, usually they are less than $10. That being said, many cornfield mazes are located at local farms or sites that have other frugal fall activities to do as well, making the trip well worth your dollar.

2. Make a twist on the classic caramel apple

Fall food is some of my favorite food. Use the abundance of apples available to experiment and bake some delicious desserts. You can go classic and try a bunch different toppings for your caramel apples or, you can add a twist and make an Apple and Cranberry Crumble. Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of the best, if not greatest, chefs in the world. So obviously this recipe is going to taste great if he's the one who created it, right? :)

3. Picnic and/or hammock in the park (or go camping!)

Although you may think of picnics as more of a spring or summer activity, the milder temperature and climate in fall can make for an enjoyable time outdoors. There's just something about getting out in nature while the leaves are changing. Soak up the beauty. Make some sandwiches and trail mix and head out to relax or have an adventure. Either way, be sure to take some deep breaths of the fall air.

4. Explore a new bike path

Biking is one of the best frugal fall activities because you don't have to worry about baking in the sun and sweating heavily when you're simply trying to get up a hill. If you're short on time, take your bikes out for a spin around the block after dinner. Or make a day out of it! Bring your bikes out to a local bike path that you've never been on and enjoy seeing the fall colors and your new adventure.

5. Attend a local community event

Many communities host fall fairs and festivals for free or a small price. I've found some of my favorite fall festivals just by going through the events that are being hosted on Facebook. You can also check out your newspaper or go online to your city website.

Hopefully this short list of frugal fall activities can inspire you to get out and enjoy the rest of fall without spending much money. I've found that the sweetest moments in life aren't found through material things, but by the people I spend time with and how we choose to spend that time together.

If you're still looking for more ways to save for this upcoming holiday season, using a free financial software to keep track of your finances is a great place to start!

How do you make the most of the fall season? What are some of your favorite frugal fall activities?

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Currently... // October 2015

Goldenrod Pastries

(Photo credit goes to Angela, the owner of the bakery, from her Instagram account. I'd use a photo of the pumpkin cakes I ate but, well, I ate them too fast.)

Eating / delicious pastries from the vegan / gluten-free bakery across the street. My favorite thing to do is grab a mini pumpkin cake and share it with Caleb for dessert. I think opening up a bakery would be such a cool business to have. Just think, you could bake warm, homestyle bread as well as little cakes and other delicious treats.

Exploring / (online) where I'd like to travel someday. Right now at the top of my list are Greece, Iceland, and New Zealand. I feel like Iceland gets overlooked because of it's temperature, but just thinking about swimming in the Blue Lagoon is what changed my mind (as well as the beautiful landscape and northern lights).

Wearing / vests and boots! Granted, I only wore them for a few days last week when the temperature dropped into the lower 60s, but having the chance to wear boots again gets me excited for the rest of fall. Unfortunately, it's supposed to get back into the 80s this weekend, so my fall season is postponed at the moment.

Admiring / those who balance work, school, social life, relationships, meetings, and blogging. Tell me your secrets, please!

Collecting / some great cookbooks. Now that fall is finally arriving, I'm in the mood for soups and baked goods. I just recently bought Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking book and spent an hour just skimming through all the great recipes and tips that he shared.

Feeling / tired. Time is going by so fast! I'm actively looking for ways to slow down my very repetitive days, so any suggestions are welcome!

Missing / blogging :( Life has been so busy that I don't have the time to sit down and write posts very often, which makes me sad, because I love blogging so much! Hopefully with this upcoming break I can finish all the drafts I have sitting in my schedule.

Smelling / Burt's Bees Toasted Almond soy wax melts in this adorable fox candle warmer! It makes our dorm room smell AMAZING.

Looking / forward to this Friday, where there's no school for a fall break. It's much needed.

What’s currently happening in your life? What are you eating / collecting this month? Come linkup with Jenna and Anne for the currently linkup each month! :)

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Committing to a Daily #ActOfKindness

The goal is to do one simple act of kindness a day. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Gratitude. Kindness. Being caring towards others. These are the thoughts that have been lingering in the back of my mind for the past week, specifically kindness.

Have you ever noticed how a simple act of kindness, when done repeatedly and consistently, can become an expected act? Sometimes we can easily take these acts for granted.

For example, I have such a gentleman of a boyfriend that he opens every door for me. In fact, he insists on it (if I try opening it, he'll push it closed and then open it himself). Over time, I expected to have the door opened for me.

Same thing goes for holding the door open for another person when they're right behind you, so they don't get hit by the closing door. At busy times during the school day when everyone is entering and exiting a building, it's almost expected of you to be curious and make sure the door doesn't slam in someone's face. So what happens when the opposite happens?

Well, last week I was walking to class directly behind another girl. We were going the same speed, so it didn't make sense to pass her. I could tell that she had seen me and could also hear my footsteps. She opened the first of a set of doors we needed to go through to exit the building...and didn't hold it for me to get, resulting in my elbow getting bruised. Same thing happened with the second door. I wasn't angry, just a little annoyed.

As we approached the building our classes were in, I wondered if she'd hold the door if I was literally right behind her.

Nope.

She didn't hold any one of the three doors we went through. At this point I was pretty upset. I mean, how hard is it to just hold the door so I can grab it?

COMMITTING TO A DAILY #ACTOFKINDNESS

Later that evening I was thinking about how I had expected an act of courtesy. But how often do I display an act of kindness? That thought challenged me to make a change in my life:

A daily #ActOfKindness

This isn't a new idea, but it's something most people don't actively seek out to do. I found this blog post from the owner of Goldenrod Pastries (the adorable vegan/gluten-free bakery across the street!) was really inspiring. She said

"Leave a piece of cake or two, wrapped up, on someone’s porch. Text them later to say it’s there. They got so excited! Leave a miniature honey cake on a coworker’s desk with a sticky note saying ‘Happy Tuesday! It’s honey cake.’ Then she got excited." 

I love that!

My goal is to do one simple act of kindness a day, and I encourage you to do the same whenever you can! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

#ActsOfKindness Ideas

  • You don’t have to use a pastry like Angela did. Instead, leave their favorite drink, a magazine, or a handwritten letter.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • Leave some extra quarters in the laundry room.
  • Pay the tab for the person behind you.
  • Send flowers.
  • Write a thank you note to an old teacher who made a difference in your life.
  • Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
  • Help someone struggling with heavy bags.
  • Help an elderly neighbour carry the rubbish out.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • Offer a couple of hours of free babysitting to parents.
  • Rake your neighbor's yard.
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just the elderly.
  • Clean someone's windshield.
  • If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.
  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do something nice.

What are some acts of kindness you do where you live?

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Date Idea: Apple Picking

Fun fall date idea: Apple picking DATE DETAILS

$11-25

printer day-date-icon

Materials Needed: Printable Invitation (optional)


This past weekend, Caleb and I had the chance to go to the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, NE. The AppleJack festival is one of the top 10 Fall Harvest Festivals by USA Today. This historic festival annually draws between 60,000 and 80,000 people to Nebraska City to celebrate the kickoff of the apple harvest.

What better weekend to take have an apple picking date!

It was a beautiful sunny day and the town itself was amazing. The buildings were historic and you could sense the small town feel. We didn't stay very long at the main festival downtown, but we did walk through the classic car show and a small craft fair.

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

We then headed out to Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard where they had different activities for kids such as pony rides and balloon animals. We stopped to see a blacksmith making small objects for little boys, an amazing wood carving booth, and bought some of the most delicious creamed cinnamon pecan honey. So good!

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

After walking around for a bit, we went into the orchard itself. This orchard was much bigger than the ones I'm used to back in Minnesota, so we did a lot of walking (they had a hay rack ride, but it was super crowded). We were planning on picking two bags worth, one for eating and one for baking, but most of the apples on the trees were rotten :( I don't know whether it's due to all the good ones being picked by all the people earlier that weekend or what, but eventually we found a tree with good apples on the inside. We ended up only getting a bag of Honeycrisp, but that's ok. Honeycrisp are the best anyways! :)

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

AppleJack Festival 2015

This date ended up costing us more than we hoped, but apple picking only happens once a year so it was definitely worth it! I recommend finding local family-owned orchards, as they tend to be some of the best. So get an apple cider donut or two and a warm cup of apple cider and enjoy the fall weather together!

Have you ever gone apple picking? What's your favorite type of apple?

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10+ Keys to Successful Communication in a Relationship

Because I believe that you can be in a healthy relationship and still not fight with each other, I’ve listed my top suggestions when it comes to having successful communication in a relationship. In this month's currently post, I briefly shared how I prayed for the happiness of my friends. My desire for each of them is to find someone who they can unconditionally love and become best friends with. Some have asked Caleb and I how it is that we've stayed together for nearly 4 years at such as young age. While I believe that there are many factors that play into that, one of the top reasons is:

We don't fight.

That's right. We don't argue. Usually at this point I get crazy looks from whoever I just said this to, but just stay with me. If you look up the definition of "Argument" on Google, you'll come up with this: “an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.”

This first part of that definition is fine; an exchange of diverging or opposite views is simply a discussion. It is the latter portion of that definition that should (and can) be avoided. A "heated or angry" exchange makes it difficult to take turns listening to each other and solving the problem at hand. A discussion should be both of you against a problem, not both of you against each other. 

Because I believe that you can be in a healthy relationship and still not fight with each other, I've listed my top suggestions when it comes to having successful communication in a relationship. I also should mention that by no means do Caleb and I follow these perfectly. We're human! Our discussions aren't all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes we tend to become walls and bring up the past or criticize. Tears are often shed (by me haha). But we don't talk angrily to each other. Why would you talk to someone you love like that? You aren't against each other; you're a team.

Keys To Successful Communication in a Relationship

1. DO express your expectations

Sometimes we tend to think that our exasperation will lead the other person understanding what it was that we want. We get upset because they don't take out the trash, do the dishes, or they complain too much. But there’s a simple solution: Just use your words. Kindly express what your expectations are without attacking them. They aren't mind readers.

2. DON'T attack

Even if we mean well, sometimes we can come across as harsh because of our word choice or tone of voice. Using “you” can make it sound like you’re attacking. Instead, try using “I” or “we.” For example, say “I would love if you could take a short break from (whatever they're doing) so we could spend some time together” instead of “You're always working and don't take time to be with me.”

I also heard of this saying, which I find very true: 10% of conflicts is due to difference in opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice. Think about that.

3. DO check your body language

Sit up, face them, and make eye contact when speaking. Don't cross your arms or roll your eyes. Let them know you’re listening and that you really care.

4. DON'T become a wall

If need be, take a short 10 minute break to calm down before talking. But withdrawing from interactions and refusing to communicate at all will only amplify the problem at hand and drag it on. Couples need to communicate about their issues. Giving the other person the silent treatment is about as useful as a goldfish with a bicycle.

5. DO be completely honest

Little lies turn into big lies. Hiding things from your partner can lead to distrust and even more relationship problems.

6. DON'T criticize

Going along with #2 up above, don't attack their personality or character with accusation and blame. Not only is that hurtful, but it doesn't help solve the problem at hand.

7. DO listen and force yourself to hear.

Really listen. Sometimes we can let words go in one ear and out the other without truly hearing what it is the other is saying. Rather than using the time to decide what it is you're going to say next, stop and force yourself to hear what they're saying. You might find that the discussion will end a lot sooner with both of you hearing one another.

8. DON'T bring up the past

Stay focused in the here and now. It's easy to veer off the road and talk about everything but what the discussion really is about. Whether or not things were resolved in the past, this is not the time to bring up another discussion from the past. If it wasn't resolved, bring it up at another time.

9. DO understand differences 

You are both different people with different backgrounds and different ways of seeing the world. Sometimes these differences can get in the way when one person expects the other to behave a certain way. Understand that what one person might find as normal, the other might not understand. Communicate these differences to each other and put yourself in their shoes sometimes.

10. DON'T assume that it's the other person who always needs to change

When you really listen with an open heart and ears, you might find that you're the one who needs to make a change in your life. Admit to it, and work hard on changing that. Sometimes it can be difficult, but it's definitely worth it.

What do you think? Can an argument free relationship exist? What are some other ways to improve communication?

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State Fair Snapshots

Minnesota State Fair Labor Day weekend was a blast! This was the year where I could finally take my Washington roommate to the Minnesota State Fair. Going to the fair is a must if you live in Minnesota, and many people make it an annual tradition. This was the first time I've gone in about 3-4 years, due to always being away at school.

On a serious note. The Minnesota State Fair is a fair like none other. Check out these facts from the official state fair fact sheet:

  • It's the largest 12-day event in North America, attracting nearly 1.8 million visitors annually.
  • It's the third largest event in the country and the second largest State Fair in the country.
  • The Minnesota State Fairgrounds covers 320 acres.
  • Typically, the fair attracts nearly 1.8 million visitors each year.
  • The CHS Miracle of Birth Center is the birthplace of nearly 200 calves, lambs and piglets during the fairʼs 12-day run.
  • The International Bazaar is filled with fun and flavors from around the world.
  • Nearly 25 local radio and television stations broadcast live from the fairgrounds daily
  • The Eco Experience is an interactive environmentally-focused exhibit designed to educate visitors about sustainability, green living, organics and renewable energy.
  • Princess Kay and her court have their likeness carved into a 90-pound block of butter in the Dairy Building each day of the fair.

Minnesota State Fair

I did happen to rain while we were there. Thankfully, we found shelter underneath the awning of a concession stand right before it poured. It did clear up later in the day though.

With my recent obsession over goats, we HAD to stop at the barns to look at some. I saw one eating the fence and got a video of two others play-fighting. I really wanted to see baby goats run and bounce around, but I don't think they had any there :(

Minnesota State Fair

With more than 450 foods are available at 300 food concessions, deciding what to eat is pretty difficult. Our first stop was at the huge french fry place, where Naomi got to spin the wheel and see if she could win some free french fries.

Minnesota State Fair

And she did!!

Minnesota State Fair

Going to the fair is the last event for the summer, and I'm glad to have gotten to spend this weekend with some great friends. If you're ever in Minnesota the two weeks before Labor Day, stop by! You won't regret it!

Minnesota State Fair

Does your state have a state fair? What's your favorite fair food?

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Date Idea: Back-To-School Lovin'

Back-to-School Lovin' Date DATE DETAILS

FREE-$10

printer  day-date-icon

Materials Needed: Printable Invitation, Printable Schedule (or make your own), Crayons, Scissors, Coloring Sheets, Food for lunch, Movie, M.A.S.H printable from the Dating Divas, Head of the Class Printable


For the past year I've been compiling an insanely long list of date ideas. Caleb and I finally decided that we need to make weekly date nights (I also call them date days, because we go on some of them on Friday afternoons) a habit. To keep us accountable, and to provide all of you with ideas for your own dates, every Friday on the blog I'll post information on last week's date.

To also make it easier for you to see the date info at a glance, I've included some icons: today's mean that there are free printables included and that it's a day date.

Since it's back-to-school time, we went on an elementary-school themed date! I combined ideas from Love, Actually and the Dating Divas, while also adding in some of my own. The date began when he found this beautiful, handwritten invitation sitting on the table ;)

Back-to-School Lovin' Date Invitation

Then, we compared class schedules. What a coincidence! We had the same classes! ;) I made the schedule in Word using a table, so you can easily make your own if you'd like. Some other ideas for class periods are Math: see who can finish a hard sudoku problem fastest, or Music: Play some musical instruments and do a sing-a-long.

Our first class period was Art, so I found printable Finding Nemo coloring pages online and we colored them using crayons. You could also use a coloring book if you have some available. Can you guess who colored which? ;)

Back-to-School Lovin' Date

For storytime, we took a trip to Barnes and Noble and wandered around the children's section, reminiscing about all of our favorite childhood books. Caleb found one of his favorites and read it outloud in the storytime chair.

Back-to-School Lovin' Date

After that was lunch, where we planned on going to the park for a picnic, but it was way too hot outside, so we stayed at home and ate there. Sometimes you have to improvise! It was still delicious :)

Because it was too hot outside, we had recess indoors, where we played some games. One was a more grown up version of M.A.S.H, and the other was a game called Head of the Class. Then, we finished with our last period, History. I thought that watching a movie during History was such a clever idea because that's always what happened when the teacher was gone when I was younger! We rented Big Hero 6 from Redbox.

Overall, this was such a fun date! It didn't all go according to plan, but hey, spontaneity makes life even more exciting :)

Do you go on dates with your significant other? What's a date idea that you're excited for?

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