One of my favorite writing assignments when I was a traditional classroom teacher was “This I Believe” Essays. No matter the writing ability of my students, if they tried they would write a poignant and beautiful piece. It was a great way to empower them and help them love writing. It was also low pressure because it didn’t require a ton of research, it was acceptable to use lists or bullet points rather than the usual 5 paragraph structure, and it was something they wanted to write about.
So, as part of my countdown to my thirtieth birthday, here is my This I Believe Essay: 30 Things I believe.
As a wife, I believe
1) Miscommunication is the true root of all evil.
2) Insufficient sleep leads to many misunderstandings
3) Being loving is more important than being right. (This was hard for me to learn.
4) Making time to spend together is important.
5) If your spouse isn’t your best friend, you need to reevaluate your priorities.
As a mom, I believe
6) Every child is a blessing, no matter the circumstances.
7) Coffee should be its own food group.
8) There should be special parking for toddler moms. Especially twin toddler moms.
9)There are no better sounds in the world than: hearing little feet patter across the floor while I’m working my office, my babies giggling while playing together, my babies snoring in the back seat on road trips, the sweet way my boys say “hi” when they see me in the morning.
10) Being a mom is the most wonderful, most difficult, and most important job I’ve ever had. I have never felt the weight of responsibility more than I do now. And I love it.
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As a humanitarian I believe
11) Human suffering should be addressed wherever it is found. It is unacceptable to put children in cages.
12) Building a wall is the stupidest thing ever.
13) Black lives matter
14) I am in charge of my body. No one else. I am responsible for the consequences–both good and bad–of my choices. No one else.
15) Education is important. We should fund it and pay teachers what they deserve.
As a person managing an anxiety disorder, I believe
16) Hope is stronger than fear.
17) Chocolate can make you feel better, even if only temporarily.
18) Choosing to be positive, to practice gratitude, or to work out CAN fix a bad attitude but it CANNOT cure depression or anxiety or any other mental illness. Telling someone who has a mental illness they need to choose not to be sick is just as effective and stupid as telling someone with cancer they need to choose not to be sick.
19) Disconnecting for some peace and quiet is good for the soul.
20) Self care is not selfish.
As a recovering workaholic, I believe
21) Indifference is just as important as passion.
22) You should never stress yourself out for a job that, should you die, would replace you within a week.
23) Every employee is replaceable–and so is every job.
24) It is fun to be the leader, but sometimes the best way to be a good leader is to be a good follower.
25) Having a job is fun. Working is fun. But it’s not the only fun you can–or should–have. Let everything go sometimes and do something that makes you happy. It is okay to take a mental health day sometimes.
As a dog mom, I believe
26) Dogs are the best example of love I have ever seen. No matter what, they love unconditionally.
27) Dogs are the best judge of character. If your dog tells you someone is bad, don’t question it. If dogs seem to think you are bad, evaluate yourself. You probably need to make a change.
28) If you’re having a bad day or are stressed out, hug a dog. You’ll feel better.
29) If you need to cry, hug a dog. He will let you cry into his fur and then he will lick away your tears and he will not stop until you smile again.
30) Humans really aren’t good enough for dogs. We don’t deserve them. If you need proof that there is a loving creator out there, adopt a dog. Someone had to love us an awful lot to bless us with them despite our faults.
What do you believe? Tell me in the comments!
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Why Date Night is Important
I think the most common–and probably the most valuable–marriage advice Steph and I have received is to continue to date each other even though we are married. It is so important to continue to make time for one another and to make one another feel valued and seen in the midst of life.
Life is crazy busy and it’s always going to be, but your spouse is the most important person in your life and he or she needs to be made a priority.
How Our Date Night Has Changed
Our date nights look incredibly different and happen a lot less frequently now than before our boys were born. Friends have offered date nights for us, but we just don’t like to be away from our babies. We’ve taken friends up on these offers, with varying degrees of success. On one of our not-so-successful dates some friends gave us the time and a gift card to see a movie and have dinner. We saw a movie but skipped dinner because we just missed our babies.
Instead of going out, we have more at-home dates such as ordering take out and watching a movie either when the boys have gone to sleep or while they are playing at our feet. But we rarely go on “Big Dates” now. For example, we love live theater. Love. We used to attend shows all the time. For my birthday, Steph bought us season tickets for the local theater that hosts the Broadway tours. It was a great lineup and we were very excited. And about a month later we finally–finally–got the long-awaited positive pregnancy test. We still had every intention of going to the plays and recruited my mom to watch the babies long before they were born.
We saw zero shows.
The first show was scheduled the weekend after we brought the boys home from the NICU. We hadn’t been home for a whole week yet, and leaving the boys to see a play was just not an option for either one of us. The next one we weren’t interested in, and a snow storm made the hour drive to the theater to see the next show unsafe. We completely and totally forgot about the next one. And finally, it looked like we were going to make it to the last one–which was the musical we wanted to see the most. It was summer break, my mom came to watch the babies, and we were ready.
And then there was a fire at the theater and the show was cancelled.
But we already had a baby sitter and wanted to spend time together. Actually we needed to–the month leading up to date night had been even busier and crazier than usual and we needed some time to pause and laugh together. Steph usually plans our dates, but she had just started a new position as a high school basketball coach and was getting to know her team and coaching staff and involved in practices and spent time away for a tournament, so she passed planning on to me for this one!
And that’s how my Date Night Scavenger Hunt was born.
A friend of mine believes a good date should be three phases (think dinner, movie, dessert/coffee), so that was the outline I used to plan this date. We splurged a bit of money on this date, but you can make it an inexpensive date. I will share some ideas for how to recreate this date on a stricter budget later.
Date Night Phase One: Dinner
Phase One was the quintessential nice dinner. We went to a cute restaurant nearby that neither of us had ever been to, sat across from each other and ate slowly while our food was hot and while enjoying adult conversation. (I had spent the month prior working at the summer reading camp with second graders. I needed adult conversation). It was fun to try a new place, though I think we both missed our usual spots a little bit.
Date Night Phase Two: Scavenger Hunt
After dinner, we headed to Target for our Date Night Scavenger Hunt!
Here is a disclaimer: this scavenger hunt was not easy. Steph thought it was going to be easy (and even though she would never ever admit it in a thousand years, I think she thought it was going to be lame, too). I thought it was going to be easy–especially since I wrote it. But it was not. It was HARD, man. Neither one of us finished finding all the items in the time frame we agreed on, and we were both shocked by that.
What made the challenge difficult is that it requires intentional thought about your significant other, which isn’t necessarily hard–but taking that intentional thought and associating it with something tangible that you can take back isn’t exceptionally easy.
Despite the scavenger hunt being much harder than we expected, it was SO MUCH FUN. Seriously. It required both of us to think outside the box and created a lot of giggles and “aw, that’s so sweet” moments. It was time well-spent.
After we were finished showing one another our picks, we narrowed down which items we were actually going to purchase and walked around the store together to put away the others. Putting things away was just as fun as finding them because it created fun conversation as we explained our thought processes and items that didn’t make the cut.
Phase Three: Painting
We are both artsy people. Steph has always wanted to learn to paint, so we went to a local art studio and painted. We planned on hanging the finished pieces in our bedroom, but we loved how they turned out so much we wanted them to be somewhere people would see them. They are currently in the guest bedroom, but we’ve talked about putting them in the bathroom.
This was so much fun. There was some kind of random street festival/concert going on outside the studio, so we were pretty much the only people there. That made it easy for us to relax and have fun without worrying about bothering other people. We were able to support one another and learn new things together. Steph made fun of the way I painted my background because I was being way too literal. One of the best things about her is that she relaxes me. I can be so type A and can get so uptight about the dumbest things. She knows just what to do and say to reset my my perspective so that I’m able to truly enjoy myself. And that’s the whole point of a date night, right?
Need a Date Night On a Budget? No problem!
Even thought we splurged, this is a date night that we could repeat without breaking the bank.
Date Night Phase 1–Food and conversation is the point
You don’t have to go to a pricey restaurant to have a great time. The main purpose of this phase is sitting down together and having adult conversation together.
When was the last time you went inside a fast food restaurant and sat down? For us, I think it was when we first moved into our house. It took longer than expected to set up internet, but we had both started brand new jobs and needed internet at home to prepare for work. We went to McDonald’s several days after work and sat with our laptops so we could use the free internet. It wasn’t healthy by any stretch because we believed if we were going to use their facility we should make purchases, but we still talk about how much fun we had those couple of weeks.
If you are wanting a more romantic venue or healthy menu than a convenient burger joint, try packing a picnic and heading to the park. You’ll have a great view, great company, and great food. PLUS check out this adorable picnic basket. Who doesn’t need an excuse to use this?
Date Night Phase 2–Location, location, location
We chose Target. It’s one of our favorite places to shop and it has a great variety so we could both find unique items to complete the scavenger hunt. We bought more items than I intended because neither one of us can practice self-control in Target. I know we are not the only ones.
If you have self control you can agree that you are not actually going to buy anything OR you can agree that each person can only purchase ONE item the other person chose for him/her. One of the Scavenger Hunt Rules is that every item has to be $25 or less. You can change the max amount to meet your budget. OR you can choose another store. I think the Scavenger Hunt would be a lot of fun to complete in a dollar store or a thrift store. This could also be a Saturday Morning Date; each person takes the list and a budget and they have to purchase as many items as possible at yard sales. That would be so much fun.
Date Night Phase 3–DIY
Painting–creating art–is something we both really love, so going to an art studio and learning some new painting techniques was really special and fun. However, you could pick up some canvases and inexpensive paints and paint at home while the kids are sleeping. Or let the kiddos paint, too. Or head back to the park and use nature as inspiration. Plus, paint supplies are fairly inexpensive if you don’t already have them on hand.