Reconnecting With a Little Extra Date-Night

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crisKevindancing

When I first met The Husband, I was instantly attracted the moment I laid eyes on him. We were seventeen and I was at a dance with another boy so that I could spy on a third boy, but the minute I saw The Husband I forgot the other two boys were even in the room. We had a great night of laughing and dancing and flirting our little hearts out. But we didn’t date then. Life rolled on and we didn’t see each other for three more years.

When I walked in to that pool party the summer after my sophomore year of college, I immediately picked The Husband out of the crowd, not because he hadn’t changed (he’d grown about a foot so he was close to unrecognizable) but because I felt in my chest the same thing I felt the first time I saw him all those years ago. Instant attraction. For the first few years we were together, we were inseparable and the chemistry between the two of us was almost available to the human touch. We needed to be near each other, with hands or feet or anything touching, whenever we were in the same room.

These two had the tiger by the tail, no?

Then, we got married and our lives got busy. Then, we had kids and our lives got busier and our days even more full than we could have ever imagined. We were tired. We were strung out and used up by everyone else in the world, so being near each other and touching became less and less of a need and more and more of another task on the to do list.

I love The Husband more today than I ever have. Physically, he has changed from the tall and skinny 24 year old I wed to a stronger, thicker, bald-is-beautiful 40 year old, and I dig it all. More importantly, he is an incredible father, and really, what is sexier than that? Attraction and love have never been our problem. Time and energy are.KingsDadBackBeach

Now that our kids are a bit older and our jobs are more secure, we haven’t slowed down at all, but our energies have shifted a bit. I don’t feel so used all the time, as there aren’t small people literally pulling at me for attention and needs. I’m rested. I’m active. I even get to put on makeup once in a while. As for The Husband, well, he’s killing it at work, he’s happy at home and he’s made time to take care of himself as well.

It seems we’ve hit a sweet spot, not just in our parenting, but in our personal life as a couple as well. We’re trying to capitalize on that. You hear all the time that in order to make a marriage work you need time to reconnect emotionally and physically. I remember, when my kids were smaller, those articles and editorial news pieces suggesting date nights and cuddling were one more thing to add to the list of What I Should Feel Guilty About Doing Wrong as a woman. We had no time and then we had no money for anything short of sitting on the couch watching television. So, that’s what we did.FamilyCommunion

Then, something funny happened. In the middle of the chaos of our lives, The Husband got laid off from a job. It sounds terrible, but it turned out to be the thing that saved our marriage. Suddenly, he had all this time. And while the stress of job-searching can take a toll on a person, the stress of the previous job had wrecked him so much, those few months jobless turned out to be almost like a vacation. He relaxed. He got to know us. He learned about the neighborhood where we had lived for four years (since moving for said job) and he began to rediscover who he was a member of our family and I remember why I couldn’t take my eyes off him all those years ago. We took long walks. We ate lunch together. We sat up late into the night just talking. We made time for (ahem) other stuff that had fallen into the cracks of a chaotic life.

Our kid thinks we're cute enough to Instagram.

Our kid thinks we’re cute enough to Instagram.

He’s been back at work for over two years now, at a job much different than the last. This one doesn’t suck the very marrow from his bones, so there is something left when he returns home at the end of the night. We’ve made a commitment to each other to make sure we still have days like those blissful ones where he was out of work. We make sure we still take long walks. We kick the kids out of the living room for “adult swim” on weekend nights where we reconnect over a glass of wine and conversation. We also carve out time of our busy weeks and weekends for (ahem) other activities.

Date Night Selfie

Date Night Selfie

This Christmas The Husband got me tickets to a Broadway show and a babysitter. For Valentine’s Day, we’ll spend the day in the city, see a show, eat an incredible meal and spend the night in a clean, quiet and romantic hotel. It will be reconnecting at its finest and we’ll have the time and space and privacy to get a little (ahem) creative in our reconnecting. A few short years ago, I never would have imagined such a thing. Lucky for me, The Husband could, and he made it happen. So we could keep making it (ahem) happen for our marriage and ourselves.walmartk-ydatenight

For more great ways to add a little (ahem) to your marriage this Valentine’s Day, visit K-Y.com. Check out the K-Y® YOURS+MINE and the K-Y® DATE NIGHT pack at Walmart.com for discreet purchasing. Feel free to share your ideas for staying connected in the comments below. We could all use a few (ahem) ideas.

Top Five Reasons Mom & Boys Love Nintendo eShop

BoyseShopThis week the boys got to download some cool stuff on their 3DS systems from the Nintendo eShop just in time for a snow day! I was pretty psyched that we didn’t have to leave the house to find snow-day fun,  but the boys were even more so. They came up with a list of five reasons why they love Nintendo’s eShop for buying games for their DS, or WiiU systems. I am partial to #5. I’ll list them here, but they talk about them in the video. Of course, I’m bias, but I happen to think it’s totally worth viewing!

Top Five Reasons We Love Nintendo eShop

5. Mom doesn’t need to drive anywhere: Which means kids don’t need to wait for her busy schedule to clear before they get to playing!

4. Never Sold Out: No empty shelves in eShop land!

3. Videos, Trailers and Demos: You can access special content just for eShop which includes playing a demo before you commit to buying the game. (Mom likes this one too. So does her credit card.)

2. Exclusive Content: There are some things on eShop that you can’t get anywhere else. So, coolness factor=high!

and the number one reason we love the Nintendo eShop…

1. Instant Game Play: No long drives home from retailers (that open “SO LATE MOM!”), no fighting with packaging, no wait at all. Just quick, uninterrupted fun.

Don’t believe my list? See for yourself. The Boys say it all better anyway!

Passing Down the Unmentionables: An Inspired Post

If-I-Fall-If-I-Die-FL2W-Book-Club-Banner

At dinner the other night, the kids and I were talking about what traits of theirs The Husband and I recognized as our own. In other words, what have we passed down, for better or worse, to our kids?
It turned into a funny conversation about my reactions to noticing certain behaviors in my kids. The Middle One recalled a time when he was so mad at a friend he told his sister about his wishes to do bodily harm to the boy.

My response was that I was glad I didn’t know about said incident because I would have inevitably started google researching how to identify sociopathic tendencies in a seven-year old. Yep, despite knowing how gentle and kind my kid is, that one utterance would have sent me over the edge with worry that his simple, angry turn of phrase meant deeper, darker mental health issues on the horizon.

Irrational? Yes, but worry always is for me.

My youngest, who has spent the better part of the year trying to unearth the mystery of his behavior issues at school, said to me in that moment, “So, mom, I get my crazy from you.”

Oh. Dear.

Let me be clear, my little man is not crazy. We just throw that word around more than we probably should in a politically correct house anytime we’re talking about our quirks. What we do know about the youngest is that he has a tendency to extrapolate pretty far and deep in the name of fear. He has extreme reactions to any and all incidents that cause him concern and many incidents cause him concern. Sound familiar? (Hint, see above google research reference.)

It seems my boy (and I) has some difficulty regulating the size and scope of his worry and that worry and the deeper fears that cause it, can sometimes cause him great strife.

For a long time I, of course, worried about the worst with him. Would he become so difficult at school, he’d require home instruction. Would home instruction then mean never wanting to leave home. In short, I went to the deep, dark place of his future as and agoraphobic paranoid because of my own fears.
Then he pointed out he gets his crazy from me and I sure couldn’t argue.

Strangely, this realization gives me hope. No, I don’t recognize the intense anger that seems to be a symptom of his fear, but I do recognize the fear, frustration and shame that comes with that fear. And of course, I see how the frustration and shame just make the whole vicious cycle worse. I am intimately familiar with the building blocks of anxiety and shame that can often threaten to stack into an insurmountable mountain. Thankfully, so far, there has been no mountain I can’t climb with a lot of work, both mental and physical. Yes, there are nights the swirling thoughts keep me up all hours, and of course my browser history will point to an ongoing tendency to prepare for the worst, but so far I’ve always been able to beat it all back before it gets too much so that I can go forward the next day and live a pretty great life.

I have managed the thoughts that love to spin far into the dark and twisty and trained them to remain just thoughts, not suffocating realities. As my baby fights the same tendencies of worry and shame, here’s hoping I passed on the strong parts of myself too, not just my crazy. Because with my strength (or maybe just his own) he can manage the thoughts and the worry and live a pretty great life with me.

 

This post was inspired by the novel If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie. It is about a boy who’s never been outside, because of his mother’s agoraphobia, but ventures out in order to solve a mystery. Join From Left to Write on January 22nd as we discuss If I Fall, If I Die. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Money Reinvention: Climbing the Mountain of Debt

Photo Credit SueBarrPhoto

Photo Credit SueBarrPhoto

Last week, we talked about the first step of reinventing your money story being the need to get real with your monthly spending. Chances are, when you got real, you saw that money out was greater than money in and possibly some of what was going out was borrowed.
It’s so easy in the beginning to use fake money. You can justify financing a million ways, especially if you’re just beginning an adult life. It’s a perfect storm of ignorance, hope and a predatory economy

Does any of this sound familiar?

“Oh, this couch is offered to us at zero percent financing. We can get it now and enjoy it while we pay it off. Who can pass up zero percent financing?”
“Oh, this car is about $100 more a month than my last car but they’ve approved the loan at a low interest rate so I should be able to do it. I mean, I’m sure I’ll get a raise this year.”
How about my personal favorite? “We need diapers and the only way I can get them is on this visa. I’ll just pay them off in small payments for the rest of my life.”

You need more than you have income for and credit cards and stores are more than happy to “help” you make that purchase that seems so necessary.

Personally, our history was a mix of all of this. I never had money growing up, so the idea that you were supposed to buy anything with cash was foreign to me. I mean, I always understood the concept of why you shouldn’t finance, but I never understood how to make it a reality. Like I’ve said before, we did not live lavishly, but it does not take much to live above your means. We always needed what we bought. Or so I thought. I’ll get to the mental stuff later, because is important, but for today let’s focus on the ABC’s of getting out of debt.If you’ve gotten real with your spending, you’ve already figured out the monthly non-negotiables. Now, you have to start cutting.

Six years ago, this process caused me great pain. Now I get excited about the prospect. It was such a challenge to live within our means that I actually started getting satisfaction figuring out how to come in under the budget every month. It is so freeing to have only the necessary expenses, you have no idea!

The first thing I did was figure out how to decrease our monthly spending on bills. By that point, it wasn’t jus credit cards (although there were plenty of those) there were also student loans, a car loan, medical bills, utilities from our relatively haphazard interstate move and of course two house payments; rent on the new one and a mortgage on the one we couldn’t sell.

Your Friendly Money Reinvention Girl talking about cash.

Your Friendly Money Reinvention Girl talking about cash.

Bankruptcy and foreclosure were not an option for us. I am sure there are plenty of arguments to be made for the sensible nature of both, and if I have learned nothing in these last six years it is to never judge someone’s financial decisions. That said, for me and probably The Husband too, there was a sense of personal responsibility that compelled us to avoid just throwing up our hands in defeat,  and also taking that credit hit for at least six years.

So, instead I got on the phone.

I called every single creditor from the huge Bank of America to neighborly Joe’s plumbing and asked them to work out a deal with us. We promised to pay every last dime if they could just help us make every month a little more bearable. We got interest rates lowered, late fees abolished, and timelines extended. Nearly every single creditor worked with us to make some change and I finally sought credit counseling either for those that didn’t or those I thought someone else could work a better deal with. The exception was our home loan which I’ll address later because it was such a debacle it warrants its own post.

At first, I was humiliated. I mean, imagine calling all these people and admitting you’ve screwed up you can’t even make minimum payments.

You know what happened though? Nearly every person on the other line was not only willing to work with us, but they were actually complimentary of us making the effort that I slowly started feeling less shame and more pride at the hard work we were about to do. Yes, we made mistakes, but we were trying to correct them and people really responded positively to that.
So, if you’re in a spot where you’ve got more month than money, get on the phone. Call and ask for reduction in interest rates. Call and close cards and work out a payment plan you can handle. Call and ask for help. You’ll be surprised how receptive people are to you taking control of your money.

Next Week: What is Credit Counseling? Or, how not to get duped.