Category Archives: Husband

Game of Love Basket {Valentine’s Day Gift Idea}

I promised last week that I’d have a few practical ways to get the kindness ball rolling in our marriages, so that’s what I had intended to do today.

And since I am far from the fountain of all marital wisdom, I had planned to share a few ideas from the book The Love Dare–which I had picked up at our local Christian bookstore when I was there about a month back, scouting out some homeschooling materials.

Problem was, it had disappeared. I finally found it in my husband’s office, but when I tried to take it downstairs, he snatched it back. I gave him “the look” and said, “Hey, Mister, I bought that for me.”

He started to hand it back to me, then hesitated and said with a sheepish expression: “But I’m in the middle of it.”

Well, as you can imagine, I dropped it like a hot poker. Sharing marriage tips with you guys is great and all, but ain’t no way I’m going to get in the way of my husband’s reading a book on the subject. I love y’all. But…ain’t no way.

ANYhoo, in lieu of tips from the experts, I thought I’d share what I’m getting Shaun for Valentine’s Day, just in case–like me–you sometimes struggle to come up with a meaningful and specific gift that you know your hubby will love.

This is basically a twist on the “Favorite Things” basket that I made him for Father’s Day a couple of years back.

This time, though, the theme is: Game Night.

Why? Because for the last several years, it just hasn’t been convenient or–let’s face it–worth the effort to go out for Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it’s fun to get all gussied up for a night on the town, but when you’ve got a newborn to feed, and every dress you try on is far from nursing-friendly, it feels a bit tedious. Even without a newborn, sometimes it’s just too much trouble to make reservations, find a babysitter, fight the traffic, pay the inflated prices for the “Valentine’s Specials,” and on and on.

So, we’ve had a lot of fun the last several years staying home and cooking a fancy meal together, love songs on repeat in the background. (This Ed Sheeran gem is, by far, our favorite right now).

This year, I thought it would be even more fun to jazz things up with a game night basket for Shaun. He loves board games, card games, word games–really any sort of competition. And so do I.

game of love

I was inspired by a trip to Marshall’s, where I scored that basket, the “Bulls and Cows” game, the wooden target game, and this (which wouldn’t come close to fitting in the basket)…


…for $35.

They had all of their “guy-themed” Christmas items on major clearance. Otherwise, even at Marshall’s prices, the Bingo set alone would have cost $50.


Of course, considering that it’s made of real wood and is really good-sized (hard to tell, but the metal ball tumbler is over a foot tall), I thought $20 was a steal!

All three of the games I bought were two-player-friendly, and I made sure to include lots of his favorite snacks from our local Whole Foods-esque grocery store.


Pictured here: Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda, Murray’s Ginger Snaps, Deep River Olive Oil and Rosemary Kettle Chips, Kettle Popcorn, and–to top it all off–Marish English Toffee Caramels (pretty much THE BEST chocolate/toffee/carame I’ve ever tasted).

Of course, these are all tailored to Shaun’s specific tastes, but I can picture all kinds of creative options like a poker-themed basket with lots of–ahem–chips. Or, if you want to get super-creative, a carnival-themed basket complete with water pistols, bean bags, targets, and cotton candy.

Even if your husband isn’t all that into games, I bet he can be persuaded for at least one night by adding the all important word “strip” to the description of any game (okay, maybe not Monopoly, unless he’s got the patience of a saint).

After all, it IS Valentine’s Day.

Just sayin’. ;)

What about you guys? Any big plans for V-day?

Do you struggle to come up with great Valentine’s gifts? Or do you guys skip the gift exchange?

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5 Things Thursday: V-day

Here’s what Valentine’s Day looks like around here:


This guy has been out of town since Sunday, but I get him back this afternoon.


I swiped this shot from Instagram.

{I think Della will be pretty happy to see him too; every morning this week, she’s asked me “where Daddy?” as soon as she wakes up}.


This is the outfit I landed on in my attempt to “Dress My Love” for my husband.


  • Those jeans that I mentioned yesterday that he loves so much.
  • A simple striped top from my J. Crew haul.
  • A monogrammed circle pendant necklace that I asked for as my gift for Valentine’s Day (I got to open it early since I already knew what it was when it came in the mail).
  • Fun, floral flats (say that five times fast)…because he kind of, actually likes my funky accessories when I keep them to a minimum
  • Bobby pins to pull the sides of my hair back from my face and leave the rest down. It’s his favorite hairstyle (I think, because it makes me look young and girlish), and he always notices when I wear it this way.


I’m making him a repeat of his birthday dinner as a surprise.  He’s been talking about that dinner for weeks now.


Horseradish crusted filet mignon, rosemary garlic roasted veggies, and four cheese toast.


We’ll probably also partake of some of this:


Chocolate Chip Heath Cookies + Symphony Bars = two of our faves. (I’ll share the cookie recipe soon).


I imagine we’ll listen to this song at some point today.

We’ve never really had something we call “our song,” but if we did, this would be it.

Not only is the melody achingly beautiful (when the choir joins in on the chorus at the end, I get goose bumps), but in a sea of love songs that talk about how the lovers feel about each other or about how “it’s so wrong, it’s right” (*gag*), the words to the chorus stand out:

I won’t give up on us

Even if the skies get rough

I’m giving you all my love

I’m still looking up


How’s your V-day shaping up?

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Wardrobe Wednesday: OPERATION Dress Your Love

My husband has a rotating screensaver of pictures of me on his computer in his office. I didn’t even know until I was talking to him one day, and suddenly there I was, doing some pose or another. When I asked him about it, he said that each time he sees a picture of me from Wardrobe Wednesday that he especially likes, he adds it to the rotation.

There are lots of reasons I do Wardrobe Wednesday. When I first started this blog, it was because I figured it would draw traffic. After all, some of my favorite posts from the bloggers I read were always the “real style from real people” types. So, it stood to reason that others might like it if I did it. My linear thinking skills are quite advanced, no?

Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, putting outfits together kind of makes me a little giddy. So getting to share that with a bunch of friends and get your feedback and participation is just plain fun. Knowing (or at least trying to anticipate) how y’all will react sometimes makes me think twice about going with something boring over something unexpected and fresh. And Thrifted or Grifted is definitely one of my favorite posts to do every single time because the best thing about this blog is getting to know you. And T+G always gets a big response. (Speaking of which, it’s about time to bring that back, huh?)

But, if I’m completely honest, I hadn’t really thought much about my husband’s opinion of my Wardrobe Wednesdays. Because I wasn’t really doing them for him.

For me, yes. For you also. But not so much for him.

Let me switch gears for a moment and point out that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. You were aware, yes?

Oh good.

(More importantly, though: your husband/boyfriend/fiance is aware, yes?)

I get that Valentine’s Day is a bit of a ridiculous “holiday”—a forced Day O’ Love, if you will. Because everybody knows that love is so easy to force.

And yet, I’m not terribly averse to V-day. After all, it’s pretty much a nationwide-sanctioned excuse to go on a date with my husband. Plus, I’m likely to get flowers out of the deal. And that’s never a bad thing.

Also—and this is maybe the best thing that St. Valentine’s did for us—it’s a reminder to love more. To stop and take a moment to let your husband/kid/aunt/grandma/best friend/neighbor/barrista know that you care.

And, I don’t know about you guys, but, sadly, I need that reminder more often than not.

So, I’m issuing a little challenge to myself. And to you too, if you’d like to join in.

This Valentine’s Day, don’t dress for you. Or for the folks in the restaurant that will, no doubt, gasp at the exquisite style of that perfect dress you picked out. Dress for him. (Well, first of all, I suppose I should say dress for HIM, since: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” can definitely apply to what we wear).

Let’s call it:


And, no. I don’t mean pull out your favorite outfit for him to wear. Quite the opposite.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to express my love for my “him” by dressing how he likes—even if it’s not my thing.

My husband and I have very different styles. I like layers and accessories and saturated color. He likes pared down simplicity and neutrals. There are things we both dig, though—like striped tops and jeans.

But when I think “striped tops and jeans,” this comes to mind:

Source: via Abbie on Pinterest


Cute, right? And oh-so-accessorized, just how I like it. I honestly don’t think he’d hate this. But I guarantee you that he’d prefer this:


Or, better yet, this:

Source: via Abbie on Pinterest


{Because he does like me in red}

Now, before you get the idea that my husband is some kind of wardrobe tyrant who criticizes my choices, he’s not. At all.

In fact, if he’s not a big fan of something, he doesn’t say anything at all. But silence speaks so much louder than words sometimes, doesn’t it? And tomorrow, I want to provoke a response—a “Dang, you look amazing!” response, to be exact. And not because I look particularly great in my mind, either.

In fact, there is this one pair of jeans that I’ve had for ten (yes, 10!) years that are his favorite. They’re faded and worn and stained and certainly not the latest style. And they fit me differently than they used to after 5 babies and lots of exercise, which produces an odd combination of both fat and muscle in places they didn’t used to be.

And they’re not my favorite. They don’t make me feel stylish or hip. But they do make him happy.

So, maybe I’ll wear those.

Or this dress from last year:

red dress 

{Without the sweater when we’re at home, of course ; ))

The actual piece of clothing doesn’t matter nearly so much as the attitude with which I wear it. There’s nothing wrong with wearing things that I like, things that make me feel beautiful and confident. But if all I ever do is dress for me or for you—or never get dressed up at all because, well, that’s just easier—I am bypassing an entire love language. And what an important language it is too, seeing as how men are such visual creatures. 

As “The Love Chapter,” itself, points out, “Love is not self-seeking.” Which I am translating something like this: “Love does not insist on wearing what makes me feel best/most comfortable/most noticeable, even if he can’t stand it.’”

So, what do you think? Are you up for the challenge?

Or does your husband love you in everything, even sweatpants?

(Newsflash: he’s probably not being entirely truthful)

Even if that’s what he claims no matter how you press, trust me on this one: he’ll notice if you wriggle into that dress that reminds him of your dating days or wear the color that always makes him compare your eyes to sunflowers.

It’s worth a try, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’ve got a closet to raid.

Linking up with: The Pleated Poppy


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Feature Friday: An Amazing Birthday Made Possible by an Even More Amazing Man

Okay, so you may be reading the word “birthday” and feeling a little queasy since I’ve mentioned it in practically every post this week (or at least two : )). But, I assure you that birthday week is almost over (although birthday weekend is still to come—*evil chuckle*), and, after Monday, you won’t have to read about anything to do with my birthday anyway for a whole year.

But I couldn’t resist sharing some of the details of my day yesterday because it was pretty incredible.

It started with sweet little boy voices chirruping, “Mama, wake up! It’s your birthday!” at 7:30 AM (actually, it started when Della woke up and wanted to be nursed at 6:30 AM, but then I went back to sleep). Now, the 7:30 AM part may not sound too birthdayish, but when you see why…just keep reading.

So, I came downstairs, and my husband had gotten me an assortment of pastries from our fancy new Fresh store (Brookshire’s semi-organic grocery)—I wasn’t in picture-taking mode yet (think sleep creases on my face, half-open eyelids, and probably a bit of drool-crust…cuh-ute), or I would have shot a quick one of the almond croissant, blueberry muffin, and pecan sticky bun that I (partially) consumed.

The boys sang happy birthday, and Shaun informed me that I was to eat first and then get ready because I was going somewhere until 2 PM (that’s 6 1/2 hours of kid-free time, people!) at which point they would join me.

I was genuinely surprised by this announcement, but the minute he said it, I was pretty sure what he had up his sleeve. Many moons ago, he told me that someday he would like to treat me to a spa day. And a few weeks before my birthday, I said something like, “Baby, do you think I might be able to have a couple hours off one afternoon to go get a pedicure or something sometime around my b-day?” and exasperation flashed across his face for the tiniest instant, and I knew what that look meant: “Woman! Would you stop stealing my thunder?!”  I also knew it meant that he was already planning to give me some time off, but when and how (and HOW!)…I hadn’t a clue.

So! First pic of the day coming…and it ain’t pretty.  I mentioned when I showed you how I style my curly hair that I often let it air-dry, and yesterday was no exception. Hello, wet-head!


Shaun had programmed the address for my destination into the GPS, and about halfway there, I figured out I was heading to The Ranch at 7 Mile Hill, a local spa retreat set in the rolling countryside.

At that point, I started thinking super-deep thoughts like, “I wonder if I get a manicure.  If I do, what color should I choose? Hmmm…I would love it if they had a really deep, non-shimmery peacock blue. Probably won’t, though.”

And that, folks, is what really goes on in my brain sometimes. Oh boy.

Well, lo and behold, I walk in, and the lovely spa owner greets me and take me to get dressed in my fluffy spa robe and then I meet my manicurist, Erica, who I recognized from the only other time I had ever gotten a treatment at this spa—5 1/2 years before when I was 8 months pregnant with Ezra, my firstborn. How time flies.  But I digress.

So, Erica asked me if I had a color in mind, and I started to say, “Well, I was really  hoping…” and then I stopped. Because there it was.  The perfect shade of peacock teal. No shimmer. Just gloss.

OPI’s Ski Teal We Drop


…which looks like this on my fingers.


Enjoying my spa manicure, complete with scrubs, hot-towels, hand-massages, and even a “luminescent gel” to make my hands glow. Fan-cy.


And then the pedicure, of course. Another truly luxurious experience that included a paraffin treatment. Let me just say that, with all the abuse my feet take in the name of fitness (plus a natural propensity for calluses), I haven’t had feet this smooth since birth probably.

Next up was lunch, which I got to eat in this lovely space:


30 minutes all to myself to eat this yumminess and read magazines in a lovely room while soothing music plays in the background and not one single person asks me to get them a drink?

Heaven. Or as close I’m getting on this earth.


Mmmm. Now my mouth is watering!

Next up was my hour-long Swedish massage with Andrea, who, I’m convinced, has magic hands. It was only my third massage ever, but it was far and away the best.


My hair finally dried (with hair as thick as mine, it usually takes about 3 hours), and here’s what it looks like after Andrea got after it with my head massage. Just as a side-note: if you ever want to bend me to your will, rub my head. And yes, I realize that makes me sounds like a genie and probably gave a few of you the willies.  But don’t worry. I’m not actually inviting you to touch my head. I’m simply saying that I reeeeallly love me a good head-rub.

I left the spa with pretty hands and toes, moisturized skin all over, and not a care in the world. I called my husband who had said he would meet me in town, but he wasn’t quite ready, so he told me to go do whatever I wanted until he called me back.

So, what’s a girl to do with unexpected time on her hands? Hit up the local Tar-jay, of course…

…where I scored some awesome deals…but took no pictures, so we’ll just move right along so that perhaps you can finish reading this before my next post on Monday.

I had an appointment for a haircut at 4 PM, and by the time I got done with Target, it was around 3:15, and Shaun had called to say he would meet me at the hair salon.

So, what’s a girl to do with even more unexpected time on her hands?

Put a hole in her head, of course.



I’ve been thinking about getting that nubby little bit of your ear cartilage pierced for a while now and remembered that there was a not-too-divey looking tattoo parlor on the way to my hair salon. So, I pulled up in the parking lot and stared at it for a while, trying to decide whether I really wanted to do it.


A placed called Resurrection Ink that displayed the American flag and had flower-pots and wrought-iron benches outside (that you can’t see) couldn’t be too scary, right?

So, I charged right in and informed them that I wanted that nubby bit of cartilage on my ear pierced, and they said okay and informed that it’s called a tragus. Good to know.

So, I forked over $30 (my husband just gasped) and marched boldly into this room:


Here I am, about to let a very nice young lady named Jennifer punch a hole in my ear and testing out my mirror-picture skillz (pretty terrible).


The hole is marked with a pen (can you see it?).

I can still turn back, but I’m not stopping now.


If you are the least bit squeamish, please don’t look at the next pic. It’s not gory, but it is a little funky-looking.


Yep. That would be me with a giant needle sticking through my ear. It was kind of interesting, but it really didn’t hurt that much.


Sorry for the blurry shot, but here she is: my new (and last) ear adornment.

I walked out of the tattoo place at 3:59 and drove 3 minutes down the road to my hair appointment, where the lovely Hollie (It makes me inordinately pleased that she spells her name with an “ie” too) did a little thinning, a teensy bit of trimming, and restored my bangs—which had gotten completely out of control—back to order.


See that cute little blonde boy in the background? Yeah, we were having quite a party. Hollie is incredibly patient.


Della was fascinated by all the hairdryer noises. By the way, aren’t you impressed that my husband dressed my daughter in an actual outfit with a matching (albeit slightly askew) clippie, and I didn’t even set it out for him? I was.


Okay, I know this pic is kind of gross, but I wanted to prove to you that, even when I get the barest of trims, there’s a lot of hair on the floor.

Hollie was even nice enough to give the boys impromptu (much needed) haircuts. You rock, girl!


Next up? A trip to the movies to see The Lion King in 3-D with my newly shorn cuties!


…and then a jaunt to the Dollar Store so the boys could use their stockpiled chore allowance to buy incredibly cheap knock-off action figures that I have spent a good portion of this morning putting back together every time they fall apart. Heck yeah.


By the time we got home, it was time to hustle all the munchkins into bed, so we did, and then just Shaun and I sat down to enjoy this:


Yes, you are seeing that right: homemade turkey chili (I loooove chili!) and cornbread prepared by this amazing man:


It was absolutely scrumptious too!

And here comes the part of the program where I do an entire commercial for my husband:

Mamas—if you’re like me, you’ve probably said something like this: “I am so glad that my husband helps me with the kids, and it’s great when he watches them for me, but really, it’s not the same as my day at all. When I’m with my kids, I’m doing a million things—laundry, dishes, homework, cleaning sticky hands, changing diapers, ad nauseum. And when he does it, he feeds them corndogs, plays with them on the floor, then lets them watch a DVD, and sticks them in bed. I’m grateful, but my version is so much harder. Wah, wah, wah.”

Well, although that is sometimes true (let’s face it: meal-prep and multi-tasking are not most men’s strongest suits), yesterday, Shaun smashed any Daddy-as-babysitter clichés to smithereens.

While I got pampered and dawdled to my heart’s content, he got up at 5 AM and proceeded to spend his day like this:

  • Revamping my blog site (did you see how much more space there is and how much better/prettier everything is?). Such a fun surprise!
  • Feeding/taking care of our children (I didn’t set a single thing out for him or prep anything because I thought I was going to be around to do it all)
  • Cooking dinner for me
  • Cleaning out/organizing our disastrous, as-yet-unfinished master bathroom, which had become a dumping ground for unused home décor and leftovers from projects. I don’t have a before picture, but I’m not sure I’d show it to you anyway. It was that bad.
  • Taking multiple trips to our barn with all three children in tow to stash all of the things he cleaned out of the master bath.
  • Taking an hour-long conference call with a very important client while Della was strapped to his chest (awake) in the ErgoBaby and both boys were playing downstairs (and coming up every 5 minutes to ask him if he was done talking)
  • Learning to sew with my sewing machine (yes, you read that right) so he could create a custom laundry net (complete with a zipper) to catch the portion of clothes from our upstairs laundry chute that had formerly been falling behind the washer where they languished until I crawled back there to yank them out—not fun
  • Spending the entire movie watching Della out in the foyer because she decided to blow up her diaper and then be fussy 
  • Changing who-knows-how-many poopy diapers because my sweet little angel is finally getting her first two teeth, and it’s wreaking havoc on her digestive system
  • Helping to wrangle the kids while I got my haircut
  • Reading the Bible to our children and singing our usual bedtime silly songs even though I know he just wanted those little critters in bed!
  • Watching Downton Abbey with me until midnight, even though I know he was beyond exhausted

Just reading this list makes me want to take a nap! And yet, he never once complained or acted resentful. He just told me I deserved a day off and did everything in his power to show me that he loves and appreciates me. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more thankful/prouder to call him my husband. He is a true servant-leader and the sweetest man. He is not perfect. But he is beyond perfect for me. And I thank the Lord Jesus that he is mine.


I love you, Alby! Thank you for making a birthday that I wasn’t really even looking forward to one I’ll always remember.

P.S. I think I told you that I would have the October Giveaway up today. That’s been bumped to tomorrow, but I promise it will be worth the wait.

P.P.S. Shaun wanted me to tell you that he does own more than one shirt.

P.P.P.S. I am guest-posting for the incredibly sweet Rebecca of Simple as That today sharing a fun fall Family Tree craft that’s brand-new! I hope you can take a minute to go check it out and browse Rebecca’s absolutely lovely site, which is chock-full of fantastic ideas for easy crafts with kids and features her stunning photographs (she’s very talented, folks!).

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