13 things to do unplugged with your spouse

Is your love language quality time?  Is your spouse’s love language quality time?  Do you hate how much time we spend staring at our phones instead of being present with one another and fully invested in the moment?  Friend, I am here for you!  

But first thing’s first—if you want to follow along with our adventures of newlywed life, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile).  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

Friend, today I have 13 fun and unique things to do together with your spouse that do not involve social media, computers, or screen time of any kind.  Put those phones away and stare into each others eyeballs for a sec, okay?

Let’s get started.

#1. Make something together.  Whether you just picked up a new piece of furniture that has much assembly required or you want to repaint a dresser you picked up at a garage sale, get to work together!

#2. Have a picnic in your backyard.  Spring is springing, the grass is greening, and the sun is shining.  Break out your biggest floppy hat, spread a quilt on the driest patch of grass you can find, and have no fear of drinking wine outdoors.  It’s your private property, after all!  And no one has to drive!  Don’t forget the sunscreen, though.  Winter has left you pale and vulnerable.

#3. Break out the instruments and have your own concert.  Will and I play piano, guitar, and all manner of brass instruments.  I love having worship nights together.  Print those chord charts or piano music ahead of time and put those phones away.  This is time for just you two.

#4. Bake something!  Make banana bread, cheesecake, or all manner of unhealthy treats.  You can share them with friends, or be greedy and enjoy the whole thing together.  Bonus points if you enjoy the fruits of you labor by candlelight.  

#5. Prayer time.  Write a list of prayer requests and pray over them together.  Pray over your marriage, your spouse, your family, your house, your dog, your cat, your jobs, etc.

#6. Create a vision board for your marriage.  This is about your vision, your goals, your mission statement, and your desires that you create together for your marriage.  Like I desire regular date nights with each other, no matter what season of life we are in.  Side note: if you are NOT crafty—like me—you can just create a fancy list or excel spreadsheet.  It’s basically the same, right?

#7. Go on a leisurely walk (don’t forget to bring the dog).  Whether around your neighborhood or a nice nearby park, pick a sunny day and take a long walk together.  If you’re on the east coast, don’t forget that bug spray.  The mosquitoes are coming!

#8. Have a double date and go try a new local restaurant or ask your friends where their favorite place in town is.  Don’t forget to splurge on dessert.  It’s the little things.

#9. Have a bonfire, roast s’mores, and tell ghost stories.  Bonus points if you camp out in the backyard afterwards.

#10. Game night!  Whether you play Nertz, Monopoly (not suggested for sensitive/competitive souls such as myself), or some crazy deck building game, make sure there’s a prize for the winner.  

#11. Couples who work out together stay together.  If you’re both active, create a workout plan that combines both of your favorite moves and techniques that you can do at home.  You could go on a run, or complete a squat and pushups pyramid challenge.  Will and I enjoy showing off our best ab moves to each other.

#12. Go out to the ball game.  Eat a hot dog and cheer on your local team.  Make sure to dress in team colors but watch out for the kiss cam.  

#13. Have a coffee date on your front porch.  Watch the world go by and just enjoy the moment with each other.

The world is so busy and fast!  We sometimes forget to just slow the heck down and enjoy the little things.  Even if you literally need to schedule a block of time to be with each other and enjoy each other, DO IT.  It is so very important.

Do you have any ideas that I didn’t mention?  Leave them in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

our puppy is a genius

Blue update #2—Weeks 10 & 11

In the past two weeks we dog sat another puppy, marveled at Blue’s genius, and had a potty training regression.  

My favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • Transitioning to only getting up with Blue once every night.
  • Getting lots of good puppy snuggles and kisses.
  • Watching tiny Blue climb up and down our stairs.

My least favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • The great potty training regression of 2018.
  • Hand bruises from sharp puppy teeth.

Things I have learned:

  • That Blue is really really smart.
  • That Blue is already great at posing.
  • That Blue loves to please us.

Blue has gained over five pounds since we brought her home.  At her eight week vet visit she weighed 10.8 pounds and at her 11 week vet visit, she weighed 15.8 pounds.  We feel pretty good about her size and are hoping she is right in the sweet spot when she is an adult, which should be between fifty-five and sixty-five pounds.  She is happy and healthy and still learning daily.  It is amazing to watch her pick up on things.

For the most part, things got easier for us as a family these weeks compared to the first two.  I have definitely grown more attached to our high energy fur ball and absolutely love her snuggles and puppy kisses.  She is really good at hugs and snuggles, especially when she is tuckered out after playing with a puppy friend.

On the weekend Blue turned 11 weeks, we dog sat our friend’s puppy who is one month older than Blue and twice her size.  He is a shepherd mix—a herding breed—and is much more calm and less high energy than our girl Blue.  He is also better at sleeping through the night than she is.  And while they were both mostly house trained in their own homes, this weekend turned into utter chaos that caused both dogs to regress a little bit.

Our visiting pup wasn’t sure how or where to potty at our house, so he decided that inside was the perfect spot.  We had a lot of accidents the first couple days, especially because he refused to go outside.  At first Blue just observed this, but eventually she started to go inside as well.  As you can imagine, this got pretty frustrating.   

The short story is, we got the dogs on a strict schedule for going outside.  If they weren’t in their crates, they were going outside every twenty minutes, whether or not we thought they had to go.  This cut down on the accidents dramatically, and improved our relationship with them as well.

Dog sitting also emphasized repeatedly how intelligent our Blue is.  Not in comparison to the other dog, but just in the way that she would help him when he didn’t understand.  For example, he was terrified of going down our stairs, so Blue got right next to him and went down every step with him one at a time.  He also kept chewing my carpet, so Blue finally laid a chew toy across his paws and showed him to chew on that instead.  I have never been more proud in my life.

We are growing closer daily, and as Blue learns more and more, Will and I enjoy her more and more.  Often times before bed you will find the three of us sitting on the floor and playing with a ball or rough housing.  By the end of week eleven Blue weighed in at almost 19 pounds.  It’s safe to say she is heading into a big growth spurt!  She is still fearless and resilient.  We didn’t go a lot of places during these two weeks and she is definitely learning that the house is her den.  We still keep doors to a couple rooms closed to avoid temptation for her, but in the rooms she is comfortable, she is great at only chewing on her own toys.

Until next time,
Jamie out

Read more: 
Weeks 8 & 9Bringing Blue Home

the pitfalls of potty training

Blue update – Weeks 8 & 9

If you didn’t know we got a puppy, go read this blog post ASAP!

Being a puppy mom has been incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding at the same time. Blue is a smart cookie. I can tell when she’s just ignoring me, or when she’s sneaking off to do something she knows is naughty. But I also rejoice with her as she begins to get it. As she begins to ask to go outside so that she can “go potty” and as she obeys when we say “come” and “sit.” I am so surprised that at nine weeks old she knows so much. Obviously there is still a lot to learn, for BOTH of us. 

Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

My favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • When Blue learned to go up and down the stairs to the bonus room.  She’s still so small that she looks like a bunny hopping up the stairs, and I have to encourage her down every step when we go back down.  It’s adorable.
  • The first time she asked to go outside to “go potty.”  
  • Watching her grow right in front of my eyes.
  • Her play date with our friend’s three month old puppy where they played until they literally dropped.
Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

My least favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • Her tiny sharp puppy teeth as she grabs onto my hand and won’t let go.
  • How dry my hands got from cleaning up pee accidents inside and washing my hands afterward.
  • How much she cries at night and how much we had to get up with her the first week.
Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

Things I have learned:

  • It is okay to change your mind and do what is best for your family and your pup.
  • She is really really smart.
  • If she is acting “bad,” it is most likely my fault, not hers.
  • I cherish my sleep.
Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

Her first week here was hard on all of us. We coddled her a lot at night and she struggled to sleep. We got up with her seven or eight times one night.  She learned that crying would be rewarded, so in her second week here we had to try to unlearn that.  We all lost some more sleep.  But we are confident it is what is best in the long run.  We want her to be comfortable and confident when she is home alone and when she is sleeping at night.

It was our intention to not crate her, however after having her for a week we caved and got a crate.  She went in voluntarily on the first night to go to sleep, but after that it got a little harder.  She is attached to the stuff IN her crate—like her blankies—but she isn’t so keen on the crate itself.  As her fur mama I know that she is safe in her own little den while I am gone, and I have peace of mind that my home isn’t being destroyed while I am at the grocery store.  And I am certain that she will grow to love her place once she realizes it isn’t a punishment and she isn’t lonely.

Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

Potty training is no joke. We are finding a better routine and schedule that we can all adhere to, but as our days are never the same as one another, that can prove challenging. After four or five days of training she asked to go outside. A week after we got her she asked us three times in one night to let her out. This is where I feel the rewarding aspect of training—to finally see results of hard work. 

She is super smart and Will loves putting her brain to work to train her and then practice things they have learned.  We got her a puzzle ball we can put treats in to help her work her brain also.  A tired puppy is a good puppy, and even though she is very high energy, tiring out her brain is just as important as tiring out her little body.  

Or not so little body.  Two days after we got her I took her to the vet and they weighed her at 10.8 pounds.  By the end of week 9, she weighed a little over 13 pounds.  She is going to be too big to pick up and carry in no time so I am enjoying the lap snuggles while I can.  

Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

With full disclosure and honestly, we did not enjoy our first week with Blue.  We were very sleep deprived and potty training proved to be very stressful.  Once we got the crate, things began to improve and I started to get attached.  We made a plan for taking her out at night that would negate some of her crying and got us all on a better schedule. 

We are so excited to watch her grow, to learn with her, and to be the best fur parents we can to this little ball of energy.  Stay tuned for the perils and pleasures of puppy ownership as I take you along for the sometimes bumpy ride over the next several months.  There is so much that we will all learn and experience.

Do you have any puppy advice for me?  The biggest one right now is how to make her happy with her crate and cut down on the crying.  Please leave any knowledge in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe to join the family if you haven’t already.

Until next time, 
Jamie out.


Golden Retriever Puppy: Blue at 9 weeks

I am thankful for…

At my job, every day we start the morning by sharing our good news.  Sometimes it is a struggle to think of something, but I can appreciate it all the more because it forces me to chase the good and positive.  

Even if I have been dog sitting another puppy all weekend and I feel like I cleaned up more messes than when we were in the thick of potty training our pup Blue.  Even if I am struggling to adjust back to North Carolina busy life.  I know that my good news this morning is that I got to spend some much needed quality time with my husband this weekend and that we actually weren’t that busy the past two days.

So here is my challenge to you—life is hard, and busy.  There is always something responsible to get done, like laundry and the dishes.  There is always something that will throw off your routine, or be frustrating.  The good news is that you are in control of yourself and how you react to things.  My challenge for you is to chase the good.  Do it with me—every morning think of what your good news is.  

Did you just get a cute new pair of shoes?  Did you successfully try a new recipe?  Did your kid accomplish something awesome, like good grades?  Did you have a great date night?  

Be thankful.  Have an attitude of gratitude.  If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  

It isn’t going to do your life much good if you are only thankful on Thanksgiving.  It is time to create a habit of gratitude.


our Thankful family our Thankful family our Thankful family

Until next time,
Jamie out

Mini House Tour (Before)

We bought a house!  Our very first home purchase.  It is a big deal and we are excited and nervous.  But mostly excited.  

So excited that we are bringing you along on the adventure of home ownership.  From the $300 microwave that needs replacing within the first month, to the fun paint colors and new furniture, we are bringing you along for the ride!

First up are our “before” photos.  I took these literally the day we moved in, and as moving days go we were running behind so my photos have some of our stuff in them, despite my best efforts.  Oh well!

mini house tour-before mini house tour-before

Our living room!  It has an electric fireplace and is the central hub of the whole house.  Right now our intention is to not have a television in our living room and make it a place of conversation, reading, and quality time.

mini house tour-before mini house tour-before

Here is our little kitchen, with not quite enough cabinet space and no pantry whatsoever.  That door leads to our tiny laundry room, which we will be creating additional storage space in to use as a pantry.

mini house tour-before mini house tour-before

It is a three bedroom, two bathroom house. As a couple with no kids but a good amount of friends who will likely come over, the second bathroom is ideal for guests. Eventually it will be great for kids too, but for now it is just a luxury to have two bathrooms and we LOVE it.

mini house tour-before mini house tour-before

The master bedroom is just the right size for us and gets great natural light throughout the day. There is a perfect amount of space for me, Will and Blue and once we got our furniture it became a lot easier to keep it pretty clean. Also, I never knew that a jetted tub is what my life was missing, but that thing is a dream.

mini house tour-before

The bonus room is our favorite room. We are going to create a great relaxing hang out space. We are going to have movie marathons and game nights and plenty of room for my at home work outs. We literally get so excited to go upstairs and watch a show or just relax together as a family.

mini house tour-before

Last but not least is our beautiful, roomy two car garage. I never knew that I as a grownup could get so excited about a garage. I love that our cars get to live inside. That I don’t have to go out in the cold or the rain to get in my vehicle at home. That we have a place to store our lawnmower (that we will eventually purchase). I feel like such an adult, but honestly. Pulling into our garage every day is so cool.

Stay tuned for updates and decor throughout our time in this home.  We are so excited to share!

Until next time,
Jamie out

everything is new

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes it is camping, hiking and exploring the great state of Arizona every weekend.  Usually it is more of an everyday moment that turns into a great story.  For us, our November was exciting and eventful, sad and overwhelming, and definitely a period of growth.  

We closed on our house, refurnished almost our entire house due to our storage unit flood, replaced my totaled car, and got a puppy.  We also sprinkled in some babysitting of my nephew, my getting back on the worship team at our church, and starting new jobs.

November 2018

Home Life

We closed on our new house at the beginning of the month and were super grateful to get the keys the same day.  (You can read all about buying our first house here)  The very next day, our family and friends came out to help us move items from our storage unit to our house.  Unfortunately our unit flooded in Hurricane Florence and we lost almost all of our furniture due to water damage and mold.  We are still working through the insurance claims process.  That blog post is linked here.

November 2018

Within a couple days of moving in, the microwave handle broke off, which was not surprising since it had been glued back together.  Despite all of the stress from no furniture, chaos in boxes strewn throughout the house, starting back at work, and replacing everything that had been irreparably damaged, we were still very grateful to be in our own home with a roof over our heads.  The first few nights felt like a dream.  An air mattress padded dream.

November 2018

New Stuff

A few days after we closed on the house we bought a new (to us) car.  If you haven’t read about my car being totaled on our move out to North Carolina, that is linked here.

If you didn’t know, you canNOT finance a car while you are under contract for a house because it will seriously mess up your mortgage process and you could lose the whole thing.  Thankfully we were scheduled to close very shortly after returning home so we only had to wait about a week before we could replace my car.  

My dream car is a 1996 4Runner, and while financially that is attainable for us, I wasn’t excited for the upkeep of an older vehicle with a lot of miles.  While I may be drooling over the new 4Runners, we decided to be more financially responsible and get an all wheel drive RAV4 four our adventuring.  I am super pumped!  I love all of the bells and whistles that my little Mazda2 was lacking.  Cruise control, bluetooth, and a sunroof?  This girl is a happy camper.

November 2018

While we had to replace a lot of things that were damaged, we also got to indulge a little on things we didn’t have before.  We have a bonus room over our garage and our intent is to turn it into a cozy and fun movie room with a game corner and space for me to work out.  We got this super beautiful sectional from Ashley Furniture and we are in love.  It is so nice to unwind at the end of a long work day by watching some Brooklyn Nine-Nine in our nice little get away.

We ALSO got a washer and dryer and I am over the moon, even though I am doing laundry almost every day.  I have never had my own washer and dryer and having them in my house feels like such a luxury.  What do you mean, I can do laundry whenever I want?!

November 2018

#everydaymoments

Our new dish set survived the #GreatFlood of 2018.  We love them!  We got them as wedding gifts and they are from the Ellen collection.  I personally think that pizza looks very good on them, but I suppose all of the other healthy meals we have been having look just as good.  

I also began reading Eragon (not for the first time, don’t worry) but it has been hard to find time to read while we are SO very busy.

November 2018

My family lives in Fayetteville and every Sunday we all get together for dinner and quality family time.  My nine month old nephew has grown six teeth since we saw him in June and is basically walking.  He also ADORES music and he plays the piano with just one finger and gets frustrated when he can’t play as well as me or my mom.  

I don’t think I have ever mentioned EyeBuyDirect on here but I LOVE them.  You can get prescription glasses for a fraction of the price that you would spend somewhere else.  You can also invest in more trendy frames if you’re feeling it.  I spent less than $50 on these two pairs!  Click here for $10 off your own pair.

November 2018

Being back at church is amazing.  We love all of our friends, the culture, and the events that Manna has.  We arrived back in Fayetteville just in time for their yearly missions event called The ROC.  Last year I played with the band through the event, which ended up being a huge time commitment but I had a blast.  It was nice to just be an attender this year and not commit to serving.  I did hop back on the worship band the Sunday before Thanksgiving, though, and I sure have missed it.

November 2018

Holidays

We celebrated both Halloween and Thanksgiving since my last monthly round up.  We had just arrived in North Carolina when Halloween rolled around so we were very “chill” with our costumes and dressed up as “Netflix and Chill.”  You have my permission to steal this costume idea, because we sure did.  

My nephew was an adorable lumberjack and at this point he was still pretty unsure about us.  A couple weeks later he was giving me hugs and sloppy kisses though, so I’d say he has warmed up to us.

November 2018

I got to eat three glorious Thanksgiving meals this year.  Everyone brought their A game.  Our Friendsgiving was probably the best ever, with our traditional southern fried turkey, sweet potato casserole, and my huge bowl of mashed potatoes.  The spread at my mom’s was just as delicious and I made two dishes I have never made before.  They both turned out great!  I am so glad that we live here so that I don’t have to brave making my own turkey yet.

November 2018

Adventures

Fayetteville had a fantastic Harry Potter themed event downtown the weekend before Thanksgiving.  There was a horcrux scavenger hunt that involved riddles and we explored all of downtown while freezing our buns off.  We stopped in at The Coffee Cup for some delicious Harry Potter inspired drinks (mine was a golden snitch coffee).  

What would have qualified as an adventure in Arizona came in short number this month, but we have a LOT going on!  Hopefully in the new year we will be able to get out of town a little and explore more of the east coast.  For now we are content to work on the house and play with our puppy.

Yep, we got a puppy.  Also on the weekend before Thanksgiving we drove up to Virginia to pick up our girl Blue (read her blog post here).

November 2018

Blue’s November

We brought her home when she was 8 weeks old and weighing in at a little over 10 pounds.  She was unsure and timid the first couple days but we worked hard to help her feel safe and loved with her new forever family.  She is a Golden Retriever (my favorite dog breed in the world) and is super sassy, but also super snuggly.

November 2018

Her first night here was the one and only night that she could fit under this couch.  She almost immediately grew too big and if she tries to jam herself under there now, she just gets stuck.  It’s super adorable.  

We are making sure to have her meet a lot of people, men, kids, and other dogs while she is this age to get her nicely socialized.  My nephew loved her when they first met and my sister’s dog  got super excited!  We were careful about those two meeting.  Our friend also just got a puppy who is a month older than her and they had a great play date.  

November 2018

These were taken on her first few days with us.  She is already so much bigger!  I can’t wait to compare photos of her side by side.  We think she is super adorable, a LOT of work, and are excited to help her become a good girl with great manners who loves hiking and exploring with us!  

November 2018

I hope you enjoyed this monthly round up!  My goal is to do this on the last Friday of every month, so stay tuned for some glorious iPhone photos from December in a few weeks.

Hoping you all had an amazing month.  Share your top three favorite things from your November in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe and join our family if you haven’t already.  

Until next time,
Jamie out

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