The Date Jar: Week 7 (New York City Weekend!)

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Originally my Date Jar series featured family friendly dates that we experienced in the Columbus Metro Area; however, with this special post I am giving details about a recent trip to NYC that my family took. We embarked early Friday morning and returned Sunday evening. The cause of the trip was to allow my husband the opportunity to be a part of a television series for the basketball free-styling that he does. He was going to travel solo, but in the end we decided that we would make it a family trip. (see my post: My Husband the TV Star for more details about how he got this chance of a lifetime) This was my third visit to The Big Apple, but I still made plans to cram as much eating and shopping into the short trip as possible.

Friday

We ended up renting a car and driving to NYC. This drive should have taken approximately eight hours, but with a potty-training toddler on board it was a little closer to ten. I’m not  complaining though, because for some strange reason my daughter decided to go the entire trip without using her diaper. She was able to hold it between stops and even while in the city as well. This is something we have been working on for months, but she chose this to be the weekend that she would really show some progress. I’m a proud mama!

After arriving around 4:30pm at our hotel we decided to spend the first night in Times Square. It’s a great place to see in the evening and a good first stop for any tourist visiting NYC. My youngest sister tagged along on the trip and so Times Square was a great place for her to see first. We grabbed dinner at Connolly’s Pub and Restraunt. I ordered a delicious crab cake burger.

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Once we had stuffed ourselves with fatty pub food we meandered around Times Square hitting all of the must-sees: The Disney Store, M&M Store, Footlocker, etc. By 9pm we were exhausted from the car travel and decided to call it an early night and head back to the hotel. We stopped at The Bread Factory for coffee and Made by Melissa for miniature cupcake/macaroons.

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We stayed in the Hilton at Newark Penn Station. Of all the times I’ve been to NYC before this was by far the shortest and most convenient accommodation. The hotel was attached to the Newark Penn Station by bridge and had quick and easy access to the transit which traveled to downtown NYC.

Saturday

We were up and at ’em super early on Saturday. This was to be our only full day in the city so we had several events planned for the day. We traveled into the city together, but split up once we got into the heart of town. My sister, daughter, and I ventured toward the Rockefeller Center and my husband walked a few blocks east to meet the filming crew for his television special. His filming would take approximately four hours so my sister and I planned quite a bit of shopping during this time.

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Our first stop: Breakfast. If there is anyone in the world who tops me in the love of a good cup of coffee it is my youngest sister. She is the #1 coffee aficionado and I can only aspire to one day have as distinguishable a pallet as she. Nestled into the Rockefeller Center Plaza was a cute French bakery, Bouchon Bakery. It is here that I consumed one of the strongest coffees of my life. The rich, bitter coffee was complimented well with a bit of cream. However, one day I aspire to not require cream in even the strongest of coffees. I also ordered two macaroons (1 for me, and one for my daughter). We sipped our coffees and ate our baked goods in the plaza. The sun was beaming and the beautiful weather had begun.

From the Rockefeller Plaza we were off to do some Fifth Avenue shopping. It was a lot of fun bouncing from store to store and pretending that we could afford some of the designer offerings on the northern end of Fifth Avenue. We journeyed inside the famously beautiful Trump Tower and then ended up on the southern tip of Central Park.

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I could have spent the entire trip in Central Park. The weather was perfect and the scenery was so beautiful. We walked around many famous landmarks within the park and grabbed lunch beside the baseball fields at The Baseball Cafe. My sister is a huge JD Salinger fan so we ate our lunch near one of Holden Caulfield’s stops in The Cather in the Rye, the Central Park carousel. After lunch, I took my daughter for a ride. I loved how excited she was to be riding on the mechanical horses. Afterward she even said,

“Thank you for letting me ride those horses, mommy, it was so much fun!”

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We disembarked from the carousel and continued with our exploration of Central Park. We found a playground and let my daughter out of her stroller long enough to play around for a bit.

“Mom, I want this to be my park not New York’s park.”

Then, we got the call that my husband’s film session had ended and he was on his way to Central Park. Let me tell you one of the many lessons I learned on this trip: Trying to find someone in Central Park is no easy task. It took a bit of coordination which is a true struggle when one’s husband is directionally challenged, but eventually we met up.

Our next destination was The Strand. This is a world famous bookstore with over 18 miles of books. Once we entered the shop we each gravitated toward our favorite genres and remained separated for about an hour. We could have easily spent days in this shop alone, but we had to limit ourselves as it was nearing dinner time.  For dinner we found ourselves searching the streets near Union Square and ended up at Patsy’s Pizzeria. We shared a 17″ pepperoni pizza and it was so good!

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We rounded out our trip back at Times Square in search of a graduation dress for my sister whose high school graduation is right around the corner. This search proved a difficult one, but eventually she located an affordable white sun dress.

Here is a glimpse into the fitness level I achieved during this one day marathon trip through NYC.

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Sunday

We were up around 8am on Sunday and on the road by 9am. The journey home was quick and seamless.

Like any trip to the big city there was so much that we did not have time to do. We made this trip about our particular personalities and not so much about tourist must-sees. We traded the museums for literature because with the limited time we had in the city we wanted to search for gems off the beaten path which we did find. For us, NYC was all about the coffee, food, books, and shopping. We each did quite a bit of reading and enjoyed NYC from a new perspective.

I ❤ NYC, but it is always nice to be back home!

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The Date Jar: Week 6 (Family Movie Date)

My favorite part about this Date Jar series is the emphasis it has put on spending more quality time with my family. For as young as a family as we are we have quite a full schedule. It would be extremely easy for us to go several weeks at a time without doing much more than watching television on the couch as a family, but this series has gotten us to plan fun, inexpensive ventures and provided us opportunities to experience some of the fun and excitement that the Columbus area has to offer. This week our destination: Lancaster, Ohio.

My husband has begun a ministry opportunity on Saturday mornings. He is currently renting out a gym in Circleville, Ohio and holding one-hour training sessions for aspiring basketball players of all ages. He is a trained and professional basketball trainer and ball-handler. I am so proud of all of his accomplishments in both the UK and USA. Over the next few weeks he has some BIG opportunities coming up, and if you stay tuned I will soon be releasing information about a television program he is filming in New York City in a couple of weeks.

(PS-if you are interested in getting involved or having my husband work with your kids please send me a comment or email and I will get you more information)

This Saturday morning he was training ten kids during his session and my daughter and I were getting dolled up at our favorite hair salon. I love my stylist. About a year ago I started going to a new stylist near our home. She is young and fashionable and a super inspiring mother. Whenever I am getting my hair done we swap stories about our kids and I love it. Not many people in my day-to-day life have toddlers and so I look forward to my monthly hair appointments not just because my hair needs regular maintenance, but because my stylist is AMAZING. This week she even did a cute curl-style because she knew we had a date night planned. I loved it and had to photograph it, because let’s be real I could never make it look this good!

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After the hair appointment and basketball training session were complete we met at the home-base had a quick lunch before embarking on our family date for the week.

Over the past few weeks I have seen several commercials and trailers for the newest cartoon craze, Home. It looked adorable and with Rihanna and Jim Parsons as the voices of for the main characters I was intrigued. We showed the trailer to our daughter on the iPad to gauge her interest level and she could not stop laughing at the main character, Oh. We planned the movie to be the climax of our family date, but what date night is complete without a first a good meal?

I’m a high school teacher and it was also prom night so in an attempt to avoid the traffic, and students, associated with prom we decided to travel outside of our usual destination routine to a small town south east of Columbus, Lancaster. As always, I used my iPhone to locate some of the smalltown gems and favorites to explore in the area. We first ended up getting a wonderful cup of coffee at the SquareSeven shop in the Art and Clay On Main.

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As you can tell from the photo I took above this place was a charming, unique spot. The coffee was delicious and I enjoyed browsing the arts and crafts available for purchase. They also have shelves of pre-made ceramics that you can paint, heat, and pick up at a later date once they are dry. If I had planned things a little better I would have secured us an opportunity to get crafty, but I guess this just means we will have to return another time. The coffee was superb and one thing I really liked about the place is that they hire through a partnership with the Fairfield County Developmental Disabilities. They also offer art therapy classes. It’s a new favorite.

Next, on our list of activities was a trip to the River Valley mall. Really, the mall trip was to buy some time and allow my daughter a chance to release her energy in the mall play area prior to the movie. In my last post I talked about running into a student and her mother at the mall. Check out  “We All Need a Little Encouraging” for details about this meaningful encounter.

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After over half an hour of play and shopping it was off to dinner. We tried a local spot for dinner. Ale House 1890 on Main Street in Lancaster was awesome! Just like the Art and Clay on Main, the Ale House 1890 was charming and had the appeal of an old British Pub, which my husband appreciated. I ordered a chicken sandwich and green beans and shared it with my daughter. DELICIOUS!

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After dinner, it was finally time for the movie to start. We purchased our ticket at the new Cinemark Theatre in Lancaster and entered into the beautiful world of cinema magic. As soon as we entered through the double doors my daughter spotted the popcorn machine. As much as I know I didn’t need a bag of popcorn I also knew that her movie experience would not be complete without the warm, crunchy, buttery goodness of fresh Orville Redenbacher popcorn. We purchased our popcorn and tickets and headed into the theatre where Home was being shown.

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From the first preview to the final moments of the movie my daughter was in a trance. She was the best behaved I have ever seen her and she followed the plot line well for only being two and a half. Rarely, did she even speak throughout the movie except to ask questions for clarification. She laughed at appropriate times, and at the end when Oh was in danger she was visiblly nervous and shouted, “Oh, no!” Spolier Alert: At the end of the movie she had the whole theatre laughing when she yelled, “He saved the day!” Where does she learn these catch phrases?

In the end it was a perfect day as a family. I love watching my daughter experience things and enjoy them the way she did this movie. We each had something we particularly enjoyed during this day, and we left the theatre with all three of us exhausted. Taking time as family to intentionally have fun and make memories has been such a rewarding experience. We’re creating traditions and I love it.

Thanks for supporting my Date Jar series. See you in week 7 🙂

The Date Jar: Week 5 (Good Friday Happenings)

Today’s Date Jar consisted of three very different activities. All in a series of a couple of hours our family…

1. Ate brunch at Harvest Moon Cafe in downtown Canal Winchester

2. Completed our Easter basket shopping at Target in Grove City

3. Visited a horse rescue in the outskirts of Grove City

Like I said…very different adventures indeed.

Today is Good Friday. On this blessed day there is so much to be thankful for like how we have the death of such a sinless and selfless Savior for the lives of all humanity. I can’t think of a better way to spend and celebrate this blessed event than by spending time with my family.

As I do every day I woke up craving a good cup of coffee. With both my husband and myself off of work this morning we decided to sleep in a little and indulge in a delicious brunch to begin our day.

For months I’ve had my eye on a little organic cafe nestled in the heart of Canal Winchester. The cafe is called Harvest Moon Cafe. They boast about their natural foods and delicious coffees and after reading several reviews and enviously swiping through instagram photos published by friends I finally decided to take the family to try it out. I would describe my first impression as inviting and hipster. The interior of the cafe was pleasant with bright colors, natural wood tables, and one old original brick wall decorated with brilliant photographs of their menu offerings.

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It didn’t take long to scour the menu in search of a coffee to wake me up. I ordered a Milky Way Latte (mocha and caramel). I was not disappointed…it was delicious.

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For brunch I ordered a Tango Turkey sandwich which was lite and organic. The turkey sandwich was served on sourdough bread and included bacon, cucumber, tomato and a chipotle ailoli sauce. I loved the dressing that was on the side salad. Very tangy and delectable. My husband ordered his first ever Bison burger and he enjoyed that as well. It had half the calories, but more protein than a regular beef burger.

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After we boxed up the uneaten food (because portion sizes were huge) we embarked on the next phase of our mission…Easter shopping.

The one thing our daughter asked the Easter bunny for this year: a kitty cat helmet. I know, strange, right? This request was purely in response to me telling my daughter that she may not ride her tricycle outside until she had a helmet. I love her, but she is prone to accidents. She has a bad case of getting too excited and falling over. This occurs when she is simply walking so as a mom I cringe at the thought of putting her on wheels and allowing her the freedom of the sidewalk. A helmet may help ease those fears.

Before leaving the house I ordered a helmet on the Target website. One of the coolest inventions is the in-store pickup. I was able to send the helmet to the Target I was going to visit and while one of us distracted our daughter the other picked up the helmet from the front desk and ran it out to the car. Very sly… I know.

We picked up a few more miscellaneous items, because who ever goes to Target and leaves with just one thing?

Then, we met our friend and daughter’s babysitter at a horse rescue not far from the Target we visited. Our daughter is huge fan of horses. We are planning a day for her to ride a horse near her birthday in September, but today we allowed her to get her feet wet in the equestrian world by feeding and grooming some of the tamer horses. Our sitter frequently volunteers at this rescue so it was lovely having her wisdom as neither my husband nor I are really too familiar with horses. I love that my daughter adores animals and I hope to help foster that love despite my own lack of knowledge and experience.

We are back home now and preparing to attend a local Good Friday service this evening. Overall, it was a fun day out full of new experiences.

I love to date my family. (Even when my daughter pretends to be not impressed with our busy lifestyle like in the picture below)

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The Date Jar: Week 4 (Daddy’s Birthday)

Is there a better way to spend a Monday than as a family celebrating a birthday? I think not. Today was my husband’s 27th birthday and we spent the day doing some of his favorite things. We slept in, had brunch at Waffle House, visited one of his favorite parks, purchased a book at his favorite bookstore, and had dinner at a great restaurant. We ventured to historic German Village. This is one of our favorite destinations in the Columbus area. The atmosphere of this village is nostalgic for my husband, because it reminds him of his childhood in England. The houses and roads are brick, people are walking everywhere no matter the weather, and there’s a coffee shop on every corner. He loves to slip into this small neighborhood in south Columbus when he needs a little reminder of home.

We spent the day eating and playing (a divine day according to my husband). There was no plan in place when we left the house this morning (which put me a little out of my element), but that’s exactly the way my husband likes it. As we left the house this morning we knew only that our stomachs were growling and the weather was predicted to be beautiful to which it lived up to its forecast.

My husband made the decision to visit a Waffle House in Grove City, a nearby suburb of Columbus. I can’t recall the last time I ate at the good ole Waffle House, but I know it was before the birth of our daughter. In our early days of marriage we lived near a Waffle House and occassionally visited it for cheap diner-style breakfast when we were in the mood for brunch. There is nothing healthy about the place, but birthdays are cheat days, right?

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By the time we finished brunch it was after noon. My husband was in the mood for basketball (which is actually a state of being, not a mood in his world) so we headed toward a park in German Village, Schiller Park. This trip allowed my husband a chance to “ball” with the locals while my daughter and I enjoyed some time at the playground across the way. Everyone got a chance to get some exercise in the beautiful outdoors. It really was perfect weather for a park trip.

About half a mile from this park is a unique and trendy book shop called The Book Loft. This complex maze of books is a 32-room building in the middle of German Village. Each room is divided by genre. This is one of our favorite bookstores ever. (It helps from my perspective that it sits atop a lovely coffee shop) Each of us got a chance to explore our favorite rooms and no trip to The Book Loft is complete without getting lost at least once. So yes, that happened.

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Next, we walked another couple of blocks down the narrow brick street and ended up at a cute French bakery, Pistacio Vera. This bakery is famous for their macaroons, so of course we had to get a box. (Like I said earlier we basically ate and played all day)

On our way back from the bakery our daughter literally fell asleep walking. I didn’t know it was possible, but apparently there is such a thing as too much fun. She hit her limit and my husband and I took turns carrying the sleepy one during the half mile walk back to our car.

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Any parent of a toddler can attest to the fact that once the child is asleep they must not be awakened. Instead of letting nap time get in the way of our spontaneous day in German Village we decided to enjoy this time by letting her sleep in the car while my husband and I each cracked open a book. It was so unbelieveably nice to sit in the car with the windows down and do nothing but read for an hour. Some of you may be laughing at our idea of fun, but it truly was one of the better parts of the day. We find it romantic to sit beside each other reading.

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After an hour or so our daughter began to wake up in the backseat. We were on to the next phase of the birthday shenanigans: dinner. My husband chose to eat at Schmidts, a world famous sausage haus in German Village. They have an autobahn buffet where one can eat sausages and german potato salad until they explode. It was so delicious.

It was with full stomachs and no energy that we mutually decided to leave German Village and head home. My husband’s big birthday gift this year was a new television that he has been wanting for a while so we ended this perfect day on the couch watching Netflix on his new tv.

It was a great day with great people. Our daughter is a trooper. She genuinely loves to be a part of our Date Jar activities. As parents, we find “dating with our daughter” to be rewarding and so much fun, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I must say that my husband also did a pretty good job with this unplanned day of celebration. He’s such a great guy and deserves to have a fun and relaxing day.

Happy 27th, Babe 🙂

The Date Jar: Week 3 (Family Getaway!)

Alas, the day has come where my husband comes home straight after work and the late weeknight basketball games are no more. His basketball coaching season came to a close a little over a week ago. Although I support him in all he does, a little part of me is excited that his season ended prematurely during a single-elimination tournament. As much as I love to watch him succeed in his basketball season I also love having him all to myself at home. I know I know…it’s selfish. I missed having him home in the evenings and I absolutely can’t stand the times (although they are very few) when we are unable to eat dinner together. It’s the way I was raised…dinner at the table every night.

It’s only fitting that this being our first non-basketball weekend since October that we should plan an extended family date. We didn’t want to spend gobs of money on a getaway weekend, so we decided to stay fairly local. We purchased a hotel on the north side of Columbus in a nice suburb filled with many attractions, and set out with no concrete plans and a bunch of free time.

We woke up Saturday morning and packed. Our home is in a predominantly rural community about twenty minutes south of Columbus. With the weather being as cold as it has been lately we decided to find an indoor activity near the Columbus metro area to visit and look for hotels in that area. We settled on a really nice suburb of Columbus, Worthington. This was a perfect location for this “staycation” as it ends up being about an hour drive from our home. It is far enough away to feel like a trip and it is an area we rarely visit so it held new adventures and the visitor appeal from our perspective.

Our first venture during our getaway was a Hobby Lobby. I could have spent the entire trip in this store. I love the decorating ideas, crafting supplies, and inspiration that fill every aisle. I left the shop with so many new ideas for home improvement projects to tackle. My husband may loathe that store more than any other on the planet simply for the fact that a trip to Hobby Lobby tends to result in a new home project.

Next, we embarked on a shopping mall. Polaris Fashion Place is a very upscale shopping center in that area. We spent a couple of hours looking around and spending minimal amounts. Our goal for the weekend was not to break out budget, but to also get some much-needed retail therapy at the same time. The theme I guess: Sensability. I feel so pathetic saying this, but I have not been truly on a shopping trip since the week before Thanksgiving. So there were things (especially for my daughter) that we needed to purchase.

Each of us purchased a few new items. We are building up a new Spring wardrobe for our daughter so she got to pick out an outfit and due to great deals we purchased an Easter dress for her as well. I purchased a new spring top, lipgloss, and a book about Blogging. My husband, the basketball freestyler, bought a new basketball to use during his travelling ministry shows and a Christian life book which is one of his favorite genres. Here is a look at our spoils:

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After a couple of hours at the mall it was off to dinner for the three of us. One of our favorite restaurants in the Columbus Metro area is Carabbas Italian Grill. We are a pasta-loving family. We don’t eat pasta too often, but on special occasions we splurge on a good Italian meal. My husband and I each ordered Wood Grilled Chicken (mine with a side of fettucine alfredo and his with a side of garlic mashed potatoes). The meal was topped off with a luscious Tiramisu shared amongst the three of us. Right before we paid our bill a woman seated behind us shared a 15% off coupon with us. She said that our daughter was so cute and so well-behaved. Score! We left stuffed and satisfied.

photo credit: http://www.savingaddiction.com/10-off-at-carrabbas/

After dinner we ventured to Magic Mountain. If you are not familiar with the concept it is an affordable and family friendly indoor playground for various age levels. This spot has a kids jungle gym area, arcade, go-karts, put-put, and laser tag. With our daughter only being two years old we decided to just try the jungle gym. The cost: $3…TOTAL! Due to the temperatures the place was extremely crowded. It made me a little nervous, but our daughter had a blast. She ran around with other kids her age and enjoyed the chance to climb, slide, and play with balls (from a ball pit). She played hard, and it was a late night. From my perspective it couldn’t have been better. All of us getting a chance to do something each of us would like individually and enjoying it together. Such a great weekend 🙂

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We stayed at a hotel chain not too far from the shopping center/Magic Mountain. We enjoyed an evening of browsing through tv channels and reading. This is the perfect way to end any day in the Sisley home.

Sunday morning we were up a little later than normal, partially due to Springing Forward. Also, since we were not too far from home we were able to make it to a church service at our home church in Grove City. We went to a later service, but it was also a great way to end the weekend. (Especially since we hadn’t been to church in a few weeks due to various snow storms that always seemed to occur Saturday night into Sunday mornings)

The concept of family getaways to a fairly local location is one that every family should try once or twice a year. It gave us a chance to spend some quality time as a family doing things we love and mixing in some new adventures all while spending much less than we would to take a proper vacation. It was nice to have the time away from home where I didn’t feel obligated to wash dishes or do laundry. Family quality time always lacks a little bit toward the end of basketball season so it is always great to get some time just us to get back in sync and enjoy each other’s company.

I hope you are enjoying our Date Jar series. I know I’m enjoying the family quality time and I hope I’m inspiring you with affordable ways to date your family.  IMG_0355

The Date Jar: Week 2 (The Family Bucket List)

This weekend has been a busy one in the Sisley home. Sam’s basketball coaching season is winding down, but the time commitment level as the season nears the close seems to increase dramatically. Also, we spent a good portion of our Saturday working on our new car with the help of our mechanically-inclined friends, Travis and Katy. It’s great to spend time with amazing people like the Lucas family and we capped off the evening (once the car was up and running) at one of our favorite restaurants in Columbus, Bd’s Mongolian Grill.

Today, Sam is performing his awesome basketball tricks at a local church to close their Upward Basketball season and Arianna and I are once again snowed in and unable to breech the boundaries of our home. If you are unfamiliar with my husband and his basketball ministry you should really check out some of his videos. In college he started doing basketball tricks as a travelling ministry and he has been very successful. This ministry has taken him all over the United States and England. He is currently planning for an upcoming engagement in which he will be in a televised program in New York City. I’ll keep you updated. Here is a link to his website: www.sizzlabasketball.com.

While Sam has been busy off pursuing his basketball dreams this weekend I have been spending some time educating myself on Essential Oils and disinfecting the house with a new OnGuard Cleaner. I’m really excited to learn more about Essential Oils and use them to help my family toward a healthier lifestyle. I literally cleaned every surface in the house with this stuff. It smells wonderful and it is so rewarding to know that while I deep clean my home I am helping my family to fight off illnesses using a healthy and non-toxic product.

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So, although we were really busy this weekend and it seemed like we were being pulled in different directions it was perfect for us that the date night task we drew from the Date Jar this weekend was to create a family bucket list. We didn’t have much time to sit around for hours and discuss, but we had a very focused conversation on the way to the restaurant last night about our goals as a family and individually.

As a couple it is really important to take time to communicate your goals and plans for the future. Sometimes it is easy to be too caught up in the tasks of daily life to set goals for where you want to be as a family five, ten, or twenty years in the future. It is really fitting that we happened to choose this date night activity out of the jar at random, because this week in particular my personal Bible reading and devotions have been focused on the idea of being radical for God.

I’ve been reading a lot from the story of Peter walking on the water. It took guts to get out of the comfort of the boat during the storm and be obedient to Jesus’ call to do something crazy like walk on the water. Jesus makes it evident through this story that as long as our focus remains on Him He will be with us and keep us safe despite the storms around us. I’ve felt convicted this week to re-evaluate my life and listen for the voice of Jesus for areas where He may be calling me out of the boat.

So our bucket list conversation consisted of us discussing where God is leading us as a family. Both of us feel that God is preparing us for a big change or step in the road to come. Sam is so great at what he does ministry-wise and we both feel that some form of ministry is in his future. I know that God has called me to teach and has provided me with gifts conducive to that calling, but the platform for how He wants me to use my gifts is something I’ve given to God. I also really enjoy writing and would love to pursue writing in some way in the future. We planned what we think our family will look like over the next few years and talked about our goals and plans for our daughter. It was really refreshing to take some time to realign our goals and to measure the progress we’ve made toward our previously established ones.

So…week #2 is in the books. We went on a dinner date with friends, discussed our future plans and goals, and enjoyed some family time between the travelling, cleaning, and fixing up of a car. I’m going to leave you with my prayer from my journal earlier this week. Enjoy the end of your weekend and don’t forget to set goals!

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The Date Jar: Week 1 (Family Camp out in the Living Room)

While we are still nursing our two year-old back to health we decided not to cancel our weekly family date night. As a family we have resolved to regularly spend time together doing something inexpensive and enjoyable. Last Friday we took our daughter to her first movie theater experience to see Paddington which was adorable and an all around excellent experience for the three of us on Valentine’s Day. This week knowing that the weather is still not ideal and with Arianna still being quite ill we decided to try a stay-at-home date.

We have created a jar of date possibilities. The jar is full of color-coded slips of paper. Each color represents a category of date.

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Yellow= stay at home date with minimal costs required (family dates-created by both my husband and myself)

Red= Mommy and Daddy date ideas (created by me)

Blue= Mommy and Daddy date ideas (created by my husband)

The cool part is that I have no idea what my husband put on his slips and vice versa so when we draw date ideas there’s good probability of a complete surprise. This jar is a new family creation and we broke it out for the first time today. So the family date night idea for the week…

Camp out in the living room together.

This really is perfect for Arianna’s current condition. She is just beginning to rehydrate after a four day bout of the flu, so a date that doesn’t require her to leave the couch or living room is really ideal. As soon as she found out we were camping she was so excited to build a tent in the living room and play some games with Mom and Dad that require minimal energy.

So here is a chronicle of our family date night:

1. The tent: every good camping trip begins with the setting up of the tent, so here she is, folks. Arianna is especially excited it is a Sofia the First tent.

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2. The fun: We had high hopes for finishing a puzzle, playing a game or two, and watching a camping themed movie, however, Arianna maxed out after the tent building. She had about five minutes of total silliness which was really refreshing after her zombie-like week, and then decided it was time for her nap. Here is a photo from the few minutes she was able to resemble her usual self. She picked out this ensemble and sang her own rendition of “Let it Go”

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So even though the first date night didn’t go as planned we made the most of the few minutes we did have. It’s all about the memories and not so much the perfect execution of well-laid plans. Plus, my husband and I finally got a few minutes just us to watch some of our favorite grown-up shows and relax.

If you’re in the mid-west stay warm and brace yourself for more snow.