Make Movie Dates More Meaningful for Your Marriage

I love movie night as much as the next person, especially for date night. Curling up on the couch together with your favorite take out, movie snacks and a good movie can be a relaxing date night! They always say that your first date should never be to a movie because it doesn't provide the best environment for getting to know each other. Because of the limited opportunity for deep connection, it makes sense to me to say that even after you're married, you should avoid making every date night a movie night. That being said, when you do choose to watch a movie together or pick that for your date night activity, I have a few ideas for how you can make those dates benefit your marriage relationship a little bit more.

Make movie date nights more meaningful for your relationship

Make a movie treat together

Whether you're watching a movie at home, going to the drive-in or sneaking your own snacks into the theater, making something together before the show can be a lot of fun! Maybe you have a favorite popcorn recipe (we love peanut butter popcorn with mini peanut butter cups added in) or maybe you prefer a sweet and salty snack mix, a frozen treat, nachos, etc. Don't just swing by the store and pick something up that's already made and conveniently packaged. Plan for extra time before you start your movie and put your snack together while you enjoy a little quality conversation and bonding time.

Create a change of scenery

If you always curl up in your bed together to watch Netflix, sit on the couch in another room to watch your movie instead. You may choose to watch your movie at a different theater than normal or try the drive-in. For some fun at home, bring your mattress out in front of the TV, enjoy your show together and then have a little sleepover in that same room. It could be fun to blow up an air mattress and take your laptop to the backyard to watch your show after it gets dark. You could also pile a bunch of pillow and blankets into the back of a truck and find a secluded place in the mountains or a nearby field to watch the movie!

Watch one of your favorites

This could mean watching a movie that you've both seen and know that you love but it could also mean watching each others' favorite movies. I had never seen Joe's favorite movie until a few years into our marriage and I still remember the night that we finally stopped saying, "We should watch it sometime" and actually pulled it out and watched it. He pointed out all of his favorite parts and loved being able to reference it in the future and have me know what he was talking about. We also have a couple of favorite shows that we watch together as a couple. We've seen them all at least twice and love pointing out things that we'd never noticed before or being able to talk about the movie without feeling like we're missing anything.

Watch the special features and deleted scenes

This idea came to me a couple of weeks ago when one of my Facebook memories was a video of my friends and I singing along to the karaoke videos that are part of the special features on The Wedding Singer. You obviously can't do this if you get your movie from Redbox or are in a theater, but there are plenty of other opportunities to pull out the special features. After you've finished the show, see what that extra disc has to offer. Some might have karaoke videos you can have fun with or games you can play. All movies will most likely have deleted scenes that you can watch and discuss whether or not you think they should have been included or if it was good that they were cut.

Go to dinner first or enjoy dessert afterward

Make your date night about more than the movie! Get take out and have a picnic at a local park, in your backyard or on the floor of your living room before you start the show. After the show is over, go out for ice cream or to your one of your favorite restaurants just to eat dessert. This will give you a chance to talk and connect in addition to enjoying the movie together.

Enter the giveaway below for the chance to win a $100 Redbox or Netflix gift card (winner picks the gift card they would like). and start making movie date nights more meaningful in your marriage!

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Prize: $100 Redbox OR Netflix Gift Card (winner's choice)

Redbox/Netflix Giveaway

Co-hosts: Coupons and Freebies Mom // Misadventures with Andi // SWEETHAUTE //  Splash of Teal // Jenns Blah Blah Blog // Pretty Thrifty // A Better Me // The Mommyhood Mentor® // A Prioritized Marriage

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Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 8/12 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

How Does Your Husband View Himself Through Your Eyes?

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Josh Groban's 'In Her Eyes' on one of my morning commutes and it had me thinking. The same song rotated through my CD's again yesterday (I get bored of the radio not playing anything I like) and I was thinking again. I thought back on some of the moments from our weekend and wondered how I could make my husband feel like more of a hero. I realized that I may be diminishing his worth a bit or making him feel like less of a help in my life just by the things that I'm choosing to focus on, whether I voice them out loud to him or not.

Read: Look for Grounds for Marriage in Your Relationship Every Day

Listen to the lyrics of 'In Her Eyes', and think about your own marriage. Do you build your husband up and help him see everything that he is capable of? Do you show him all of his strengths and how his weaknesses can be strengths as well? In your eyes, is he a hero? When he is with you, does he feel like he can do anything?

When we're in the dating phase of life, they say that we see each other through "rose colored glasses" and that at some point those have to come off and you start to see each other for who you really are. I've never liked this sentiment because I feel like that encourages us to start seeing the not so perfect parts of our relationship and our spouse as negatives instead of opportunities to grow or something that we can compliment with our own strengths and make better. I'm not saying that you should be naive and only see the good, ignoring all of the obstacles and challenges that your different personalities bring to a relationship. I'm saying that we can choose to celebrate all of each other's best qualities while embracing our differences and viewing our spouse's not so perfect parts as challenges that can give us a chance to grow and make us a better team!

Read: Viewing Myself the Way My Husband Views Me

Our husbands are human, they aren't perfect and they make mistakes like everyone else. We have the power to make them feel extraordinary, like the most amazing man in the world. I shared a quote on Instagram yesterday that I think fits this post perfectly. "There is no such thing as a perfect man or a perfect marriage, but the one I have is perfect for me." Start thinking about all of the reasons that your husband and your marriage are the perfect fit for you. Help your husband see the amazing things that he brings to your relationship and how perfect he is for you. Make him want to be around you all the time not only because he enjoys your company but because of how he feels about himself when he is with you.

Four Tips for Simple Yet Meaningful Mother/Child Bonding

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareYourMiracles #Collective Bias

I mentioned earlier this month that I set a goal when I graduated at the end of April to find more balance in the roles that I have in life. As a full time working mom, the majority of my time each day is spent at the office, and there are only a couple of hours in my day between work and Bensen's bedtime. Finding time to connect with him on a regular basis is important to me so I made a goal this summer to do something fun with him each week on my day off. I put together a whole list of activities that I thought would be fun and tried to plan one a week. While those big, weekly adventures have been a lot of fun, I realized that I needed to be more intentional and find a way to connect with Bensen on a daily basis. 

Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but I was all sorts of teary eyed while watching Miracles From Heaven this weekend and thinking about our Bensen and our baby girl who is on the way. I'm more determined than ever to make time with my little one (and future little ones) a high priority. Our days may not be limited that we know of and we haven't gone through anything challenging or traumatic that has made each day feel like a blessing. Even so, I'm aware of how much of a blessing and a miracle it is to have these little ones in my life and just how quickly they grow up. Bensen's first year of life flew by, and between school and work, I feel like we didn't have nearly enough fun together or time to bond and build our relationship.

Strengthen the bond that you have with your child using these four simple tips!

Making an effort to find balance in my life and taking the time to bond with Bensen on a daily basis over the last few months has made a world of difference in my role as a mother. I may not feel like I'm doing enough still, and I maybe never will, but I know that I am making my best effort to ensure that he is happy and never has doubts that I love and care for him! Keeping these simple things in mind each day has helped me out over the past few months and I'm hoping will continue to help me make time with Bensen a priority even after baby girl arrives.

Turn every day routines into bonding moments

My very favorite part of each day is bedtime, not because it marks the beginning of my most productive hours, but because of the time that it provides Bensen and I to bond. That half hour from the time we start getting ready for bed until his lights are off and the door is shut is full of some of the sweetest moments of my day. We giggle and laugh while we put pajamas on, sing silly songs while we brush teeth, read all of Bensen's favorite books together while we snuggle, and then we share kisses, rub noses and give more snuggles before I tuck that sweet little boy in and tell him how much I love him. I missed out on a lot of bedtimes while I was in class and completing my internship, but I didn't realize just how much I was missing by not being around at the end of every day. Joe and I would switch off at bedtime every night after I graduated, but I realized recently that I have started keeping that part of the day all to myself because it has become special time with my little man that I cherish!

There are so many different routines throughout the day that you could turn into an opportunity to build the relationship that you have with your child. Bedtime, naptime, meal time, meal preparation, etc. can all provide great opportunities for that mother/child relationship to blossom.

Don't let stress get in the way of opportunities to bond

In the movie, Miracles From Heaven, one thing that stood out to me was a moment when the mother almost allowed a stressor to let her miss out on the opportunity to do something fun with her daughter. Stressful situations in life can sometimes take over my thinking to the point that I have a hard time focusing on anything but making it through that stress. Taking time to have fun with Bensen is important, and I know that he recognizes when I'm not fully present because there is something else going on. Oftentimes, shifting my focus completely to him is exactly what I need to help me breathe and I'm better able to work through the issue later on.

Enjoy the small moments as much as the big adventures

Because of the limited time that I have with Bensen each day, it's not possible for me to create something big and magical for us to do. I've found that the little moments we have together on a daily basis provide just as much of an opportunity for us to bond and make memories as the bigger and seemingly more magical moments that I try to create on my day off. A lot of my favorite activities take little to no preparation and are over in thirty minutes at the most.

  1. Color - We just started coloring with Bensen not too long ago. One of my favorite things to do, rather than using a coloring book, is to pull out one of the large, flat cardboard boxes that our baby gates came in and color on that. We grab the toddler friendly coloring utensils, open the box up and sit on the floor together until we're bored. The same piece of cardboard can be used multiple times, it provides a larger surface for drawing so there's less risk of furniture or floor getting ruined and I have five or six of those boxes stored away, so we'll never run out.
  2. Water Play - Bensen loves all things water! That kid gets so excited when we put him in his swim diaper, fill a big kitchen bowl with water, grab a measuring cup and wooden spoon and take him outside. He will splash in the bowl for a good half hour, or until the water gets dumped. He bangs on the bowl with the spoon and pours water on his head with the measuring cup. It's quick and easy clean up and perfect for these warm summer days/evenings. We also love to fill up our kiddie pool with a couple of inches of water and cool off there, or run through the sprinklers while Joe is watering the lawn at night.
  3. Music - Another one of Bensen's greatest loves in life is music. Whenever he hears a song, whether it's on the tv, radio, coming from our phones or live, he stops to listen and dance. After dinner, we love to sit on the piano bench together and pound out a duet, play with one of his musical toys or turn on the radio and have a spontaneous dance party together. I've had fun introducing him to new instruments, styles of music and classic songs. Music is one of my passions and being able to share that with Bensen from such a young age makes me excited for the bonding that music will bring us in the future.
  4. Share a Treat - We love introducing Bensen to new foods, but new treats are especially exciting. Cookies, ice cream, smoothies, milk shakes, donuts, etc. are all better when I'm sharing them with my favorite little boy. And I'm probably better off because I'm not eating the entire thing myself. Recently Bensen has discovered a love of straws and drinking out of big kid cups. I bought him his own little straw sippies that won't spill, but even if it's filled with the same thing that we have, he thinks that it tastes better coming from the straw that I'm using. He gets so excited when I offer some of whatever I'm eating to him, but especially when I offer him a drink out of mommy's cup.
  5. Explore - Experiencing the world all over again through Bensen's eyes is one of the most exciting things. Each day I take time to explore my surroundings with him. We look at pictures on the wall, watch birds out the window, find different plants and animals on our walks and learn new words, sounds and skills on a regular basis. I have the opportunity to teach Bensen new things about the world that he lives in and see his face light up with wonder. I hope that he never loses that excitement for life!

Celebrate the little things

At the end of the day, when you feel like you haven't done much to build the relationship that you have with your child, think back and focus on the little moments. Some days I only get an hour of time to spend with Bensen because of traffic, long commutes, early bedtime for him or other life responsibilities. These are the days when I miss my buddy the most and I can't help but feel bad that we didn't get to spend time together. I think back to the beginning of our day and smile when I remember the animal noises that we made when I was getting him ready for the day before I went off to work and he went to grandma's. I can't help but laugh when I remember the dance moves that he was doing in his chair while he ate his dinner and I had the radio playing while I made dinner for Joe and I.

All of the little moments that I spend with my child pay off. I feel more bonded to him now than I ever have before, especially after a few months of life getting in the way of that time. If I skip a night of our bedtime routine or a day full of play because of another commitment, I feel like I'm missing out on precious time, even though I know that time for myself or on date night with my spouse is just as important as the time that I spend with my little one. It's all worth it when Bensen gives me little kisses, comes to me for snuggles and comfort when he's hurt or upset, and shares his sweet smiles and infectious giggles with me. I hope to continue to build simple traditions that provide opportunities for me to bond with each of my children and create a strong relationship that will last a lifetime.

Miracles of Heaven and the story of the Beam family is full of love and inspired me to make time with my family even more of a priority. You never know what life is going to bring your way, so make the most of every moment that you have together! When you buy Miracles From Heaven on DVD, $1 of your purchase will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network. I purchased my copy of the movie from Walmart and it was a great movie to enjoy as a family on Sunday!

What are some of your favorite bonding activities with children and why is that time important to you?

Our Next Financial Goal

Throughout the five years of our marriage, Joe and I have set two big financial goals together. The first goal that we set, before we'd even tied the knot, was to pay off our debt by the end of 2012 (a year and a half after we got married). We felt like we were shooting high with that goal because going into our marriage, we had over $15,000 worth of debt between the two of us, but we were successful and celebrated being debt free for Christmas in 2012! Another goal that we had before beginning our life journey together was to put me through college without acquiring student loans. This meant that we both were working full time, making extra money where we could, and that I took a slower path to getting my degree than I would have liked. The feeling of freedom when I graduated with my bachelor's degree without any debt to accompany it was so rewarding! I was glad that we had set that goal together five years before and been diligent in making it happen.

Joe and I sat down a month ago, after celebrating our five year anniversary, to set goals for the next five years of our marriage. We knew that it was time to work toward our next financial goal, baby step three of Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps. We've been slowly adding to our savings account since paying off our debt three and a half years ago, but because we were also paying for my tuition and books and bought our first home as well, our progress has been slow moving. Now that we've gotten rid of that extra expense, we are ready to jump on the fast track to saving up three to six months of expenses. We've set an end date for when we want to have this accomplished as well as milestone goals along the way to help keep us on track. Our goal is to have all of that savings built up by our six year anniversary in June of 2017 (next year).

We still plan on doing some fun things with our money while we are working toward our goal. In the next couple of months, we'll be getting a new front door and a new sliding back door (only as an adult is buying a new door considered fun and exciting). There are a few other little home renovation/decorating projects that are somewhat of a necessity that we hope to put money toward in the next year as well (ie the doors currently let in air/are drafty and replacing them will save on our electricity). Next summer, we really want to get a new deck, and it is somewhat of a necessity because it is starting to rot and has nails popping up in a few places. It's not safe for children to be playing on but it's not worth fixing up as it is now. We figured that it only makes sense to expand the deck into something bigger and nicer while we're building a new one that is safe for our little ones. And to celebrate six years of marriage, we plan on splurging on a weekend stay where we celebrated our honeymoon, since we probably won't get a night away together until then.

When was the last time you set a goal for your finances? What is something that you are currently working toward as a couple?

Bucket List Date Night - Hike and a Picnic

At the beginning of this summer, I was really excited for this date night activity but as this pregnancy started to take more of a toll on my body, I was afraid that we weren't going to be able to complete it this year. I knew that hiking in the mountains was not going to be at all enjoyable for me, so I started researching easy, flat terrain hikes in my area. There are plenty of trails and paths to walk on, including a nature path near our home, but I was looking for something that felt like we were hiking in the mountains without being quite so strenuous on my pregnant self.

I found a few different options that I'm excited to explore in the future, but settled on one that was just a few minutes from our house and had the added bonus of a really fun playground! When we got there, the park was under construction and the majority of the grass was dead. I'm hoping that the next time we go back, it will be a little bit better. We still had fun and enjoyed our time there though!

We started out with a picnic because Bensen had just woken up from his long Sunday afternoon nap and was ready to eat. He may not have eaten a lot while we were there but Joe and I were impressed that he sat on the blanket and didn't even try to move for the 15 minutes that we were eating. Bensen really just likes to be outside and I think more picnics are in our future, no matter how messy they might be.

After we were done eating, we packed our dinner mess into the car and started searching for the trail that I'd been reading so much about. I loved this trail because it wasn't just one long expansive trail, there were a lot of different directions you could go and loops that you could take. We made our "hike" a 15 minute one, following a little loop that took us a ways down the trail and then came right back to where we had started. From the map at the beginning of the trail, it looks like there are a lot of different trails you can take, some that go up in to the mountain and others that stay close by. We'll have to explore it again when my activity isn't limited by painful pregnancy symptoms.

Last but not least, Bensen and I explored the tot side of the playground. I'm excited to take him on the bigger playground one day and have him appreciate it, but the toddler playground was fun too! I love having a little buddy who I can enjoy climbing, sliding and swinging with, even if I looked a little silly pregnant and trying to sneak under the toddler sized opening to take my kid down the slide. Next year, when I start my mommy/son dates with him, I think going to the playground will need to be a regular activity for us.

This date may not have been what I'd envisioned it to be when I added it to our bucket list at the beginning of the year, but we enjoyed our family time and the added excitement to our usual second Sunday routine. The weather was perfect and I was content with the location that we'd picked. However, hike and a picnic may end up back on our bucket list next year to complete just as a couple when we can go on a more intense hike without the kiddos.