Category Archives: 50 dates in 2013

The 50 Dates Challenge & A Giveaway!!

For Christmas 2012, my sweet husband gave me the most amazing gift: a year of 50 dates. Inspired by our friends Jessie & Jeremiah, he promised me that in 2013 we would go on 50 dates. This was huge! The previous year we maybe went on 15 or so dates, so it was definitely going to be a challenge.

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It was one of the best things we have ever done for our marriage.

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After 7 years of marriage, intentional dating had unintentionally been pushed aside. We went on dates when we could: when we happened to have free childcare, or a scheduled event (like tickets to a concert), or decided that we desperately needed time together so we would fork over the money for a babysitter. We had a lot of valid reasons what it was hard to go out: our schedules were crazy, our budget was tight, we didn’t have family in town to watch them and we were just exhausted at the end of each day. Our nights at home together (which only happened a few nights a week) often ended up with us sitting on the couch watching a show “together”. Our marriage was good and healthy, but it wasn’t thriving like it could have been. I think that the main reason for this was not prioritizing quality time together.

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When you are dating someone, the point of going on dates is to get to know each other better and better, to make memories, to grow your romance and to have fun together. Why do we so often let dating end when we get married? It is even more important in marriage to continue to grow our relationship with our spouse, to build memories and to have fun together. Once I started to think of dating my husband in this way, it greatly impacted how I viewed our time together.

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Making a commitment to dating each other was so incredibly huge for our relationship. Yes- life was just as crazy, if not more, than the year before. No, we had not run into a ton of extra money. But we made a promise to each other that we would make time together happen. Here are some of the things we noticed throughout this project:

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*Our communication was better than ever, because we were spending more time together.

*Even if we couldn’t get out for a date, we could plan great dates at home after our kids were in bed. This has revolutionized the way we think of dating as parents.

*It forced us to be creative and think differently about what makes a good date night.

*There were a crazy couple of months when my husband was working more than ever before. In past years, we would have likely let those weeks go by without a date night because we were so busy. We probably would not have noticed until we reached the point where our lack of time together was manifesting itself in more disagreements, increased miscommunication and feeling very distant from each other. Because we knew we had to stay on track with our dates, we made it work. We planned ahead and fit that time together into our nutty schedules. And it saved our sanity those months.

*Intimacy naturally grew.

*We both felt more secure in our relationship and our family thrived as well. My 6 year old already has a basic understanding of why mommy & daddy going on dates is so important. This is so huge for me- I hope and pray that our marriage will set a good example for our kids so that they have healthy expectations when they get married one day.

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50dateschallenge

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One of the most exciting parts of this project to me was seeing it inspire other couples to commit to dating. From newlyweds to couples who had been married over 30 years, I love hearing people say that they were encouraged to commit to intentional time together because of seeing what we were doing.

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So, I decided to make it official. It’s your turn! I am challenging you to make a commitment to dating your spouse in 2013. I already have a few friends who have told me that they are going for 50 dates in 2014, which is awesome!

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It doesn’t have to be 50 dates though. That is what we chose because it worked out to one date a week, with a couple of mulligans. But for some, 25 dates in 2014 is more doable number. My challenge to you is to pick an number of dates that is reasonable for you and your spouse, but would still be a challenge. That may be 25, 40 or even 12. Each marriage is unique and no one number is perfect for everyone. Figure out a good number for you and stick to it.

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This coming year, we’ve decided to do 30 dates. Yes, it is significantly less than last year, but it is still going to be a big challenge as we are having another baby join our family in April. I know that this season of our marriage is going to look different than the past year, which makes me want to commit to intentional time together even more. So we are going to be creative. This past year taught me we could do it. At first, we said we were just going to try to have a date every couple of weeks. But then, I was reminded of this brilliant advice from my pal Yoda: “Do or Do Not. There is no try”. If we were just going to “try” to date more, it would not happen as much. There is something about claiming a number of dates as a goal that makes it much more concrete.

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If you are going for it, I’d love to hear! If you are going to share your photos on instagram, like we did, I suggest making your own hashtag, rather than using #50datesin2014, so that you have your photos all cataloged together, not mixed with a stranger’s. So, something including your last name, like “#toney50dates2014″.

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I am going to be sharing some tips and creative ideas along the way.

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Here are some rules we set for ourselves, but again- feel free to set up yours in whatever way will work best for you as a couple:

*Dates had to include alone time, rather than doing something with a big group of friends. We did have a couple of double dates, but there was also time for just the two of us incorporated into that date as well (like having dinner on our own, then meeting another couple for dessert).

*We could do at-home dates. These were after our kids were asleep. The main rule is that they had to be something planned and intentional: a late night dinner, making dessert together, reading together, etc. Not just plopping down on the couch and turning the TV on.

*We tried to include an overnight date once a season. Leaving the kids with their grandparents and getting at least 24 hours together was incredibly life-giving to our marriage.

*They could be something simple, like a morning walk to the Farmer’s Market or a short afternoon walk. If we had family staying with us or were visiting family, we would try to sneak away for a bit for a date, even if it was only for an hour.

*We tried to not do the same thing twice to keep things fresh & creative. A couple of things made multiple appearances, but we didn’t want to fall into the rut of “for date night we go to dinner & a movie”.

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To kick this off, I am doing a giveaway! I am going to giveaway a $25 visa giftcard to use for a date night. To enter, comment on this blogpost, telling me how many dates you are committing to for the year. You can earn an additional entry for sharing on facebook, instagram or twitter- just post a separate comment telling me where you posted. So that is a total of 4 opportunities to enter. I will randomly pick a winner next Friday, the 24th.

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Here is a list of our 50 dates. You can see more details here: dates 1-20, dates 11-20, dates 21-30, dates 31-40 and dates 41-50.

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1. Dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants to kick off the new year and our year of 50 dates.

2. Snowboarding in our local mountains

3. An amazing candlelit dinner after our kids were in bed, made by my husband

4. Dessert & drinks at our local car dealership (yes- the Lexus dealership has a swanky restaurant on the top level)

5. My husband made pasta from scratch and we had dinner and drinks together while watching the Grammys

6. Valentine’s Day breakfast in Santa Barbara (while visiting family) followed by a walk down State Street & some shopping

7. We used up an old gift card for some cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. Not all dates have to be super exciting :)

8. Breakfast at our favorite coffee shop, followed by some surfing and reading on the beach.

9. Pizza & movie night: we made homemade pizzas together after the kids were asleep and watched a movie.

10. A picnic dinner at Balboa Park, followed by a walk around the park and dessert and tea at Extraordinary Desserts.

11. A hike at Torrey Pines.

12. My husband had never seen The Sound of Music. We remedied this while making and eating homemade ice cream sandwiches.

13. Dinner and game night at home after we put the kids down.

14. While on vacation in Italy with Daveed’s parents, we snuck away to walk around the small town we were staying in and to have lunch and gelato.

15. Another night in Italy, we explored the seaside village we were staying in: skipping through tunnels, stopping in a local bar to get internet access and a glass of wine, then buying some dessert and eating it while sitting on the cost watching the nighttime waves. We spent a couple of hours just talking and dreaming together.

16. Back in the US, we made brownies together from scratch and had some time reading the bible together outside under the stars. We also listened to old Foo Foo Fighters records, which made us reminisce about our early dating days.

17. We went to see a movie- The Great Gatsby- which only happens about once a year.

18. We got frozen yogurt, checked out a new local store for tea, beer and good cheese, then headed to our favorite local restaurant for some french fries. Yes- dessert and then french fries :)

19. Going to a Padres game.

20. We checked out some new fun cookbooks from the library and looked through them over drinks and appetizers. From those cookbooks, we planned a menu to make for one of our future date nights.

21. We were headed to the Midwest for a friend’s wedding, so we planned an extra night in Chicago right after we flew in. We checked out the Bean, listened to a free orchestra concert in Millennium Park, took a long walk to get the best deep dish pizza in town and then took in fireworks and the view from the top of the Hancock Building.

22. A breakfast date in the city, during which we were reminded why I should not be the person to look at a map and direct us. What I thought was a couple block walk ended up being a couple mile walk :)

23. A hot date to my husband’s best friend’s wedding in Michigan.

24. Dinner at Karl Strauss brewery thanks to a generous gift card. It was a much needed date night in the midst of some really hard stuff- a time of processing, sharing our hearts and grappling with questions of cancer & God and looking back on the story he has given us.

25. We made the meal we picked out from the cookbook date a few dates back. You can see the full menu at the link above :)

26. Free summer movie night at Stone Brewery & Gardens- a perfect low-key date during one of the hardest weeks of  my life.

27. Later that week, I needed a night to talk, process and mourn together. After the kids were down, we sat in our back yard around a fire pit and talked for hours.

28. Dinner out at a hip new casual dinner spot and ice cream and drinks at a swanky place next door afterward.

29. A night in San Diego’s Little Italy, reminiscing about our trip to Italy with pizza, gelato and browsing little Italian markets.

30. Some lazy beach time, kayaking in La Jolla and a picnic burger dinner with a Sprinkles cupcake to end a perfect summer date.

31. Another Stone Brewery movie night. When something is awesome, local and free, you gotta hit it up more than once :)

32. 8th Anniversary day date: a round of bocce in Liberty Station, paddle boarding in the bay and lunch at my favorite sandwich spot.

33. Anniversary dinner date at Seersucker, one of our favorite restaurants. I even wore my hot pink wedding shoes :)

34. Daveed’s birthday date: breakfast at Snooze and browsing some record shops in Hillcrest.

35. Seeing “The Last Goodbye” at The Old Globe theater. Amazing.

36. We both were attending a conference in Nashville, so we headed out a couple of days early to explore the town. Our first date was a BBQ dinner at Puckett’s and listening to a ton of live music.

37. Our second Nashville date was lunch at The Whiskey Kitchen, following by some shopping at the largest used bookstore I’ve ever seen and some downtime reading and talking at a cute coffee shop.

38. Our last Nashville date was dinner a great local restaurant, The Lockeland Table and delicious ice cream at Jeni’s, where we met up with a friend from college & his wife.

39. Another amazing dinner cooked by my husband with much needed time to process together as we had just found out that our 3rd baby was going to be another boy.

40. A morning walk to our local farmer’s market for a waffle and some groceries.

41. Scored major wife points by going to dinner at a wings place that had 30 TVs. We cheered on our alma mater (UCLA) and ate ridiculously slow so that we could stay until the ending to watch them win.

42. We snuck away to Palm Springs for 2 nights for a good friend’s wedding, where we played music and sang for the ceremony.

43. While visiting family for thanksgiving, we walked to breakfast through the neighborhood I grew up in and then grabbed donuts to take back to our kids.

44. An at home date, decorating our Christmas tree while listening to Christmas records and starting our advent reading together.

45. We went to see one of my favorite bands, The Head & The Heart perform in LA.

46. Dinner at a fancy restaurant in La Jolla, thanks to a generous gift card, followed by driving around looking at lights.

47. Another wedding date, for a friend from college, where we got the honor of singing their first dance song.

48. Sushi lunch date- which was a big deal for my hubs since sushi is pretty much my least favorite thing ever.

49. Gift card date night! We used gift cards we had been given for dinner, gelato and a movie.

50. New Years Eve party hopping: one party for our friends who were celebrating their 20th anniversary and another for a midnight gender reveal for friends who are expecting their first baby.

 

 

 

****GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. Beth is the winner!

50 dates project: dates #41-50

We did it! We actually reached our goal of 50 dates in 2013!! What a year it was. I am going to be posting a recap in the next week with my thoughts looking back and a challenge for others but, in the meantime, here is a look at dates 41-50 (you can see dates 1-40 here).

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Date #41: I scored major wife points by going to dinner at a wings place that had 30 TVs. Only for my husband and only to watch my bruins play (and they won that game to top it all of. Yay UCLA!).

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Date #42: We snuck away to Palm Springs for 2 nights for my dear friend Jenna’s wedding. We played music & sang together before their ceremony started and it was so fun! Music has been a part of our relationship since back when we met in Jr. High and it has been such a blessing to have such an amazing thing to share.

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Date #43: While visiting my family for Thanksgiving, we took an early morning walk to breakfast in the neighborhood I grew up in. We grabbed some donuts on the way home to surprise the kiddos. These are the streets of my childhood- riding bikes to get ice cream, walking to McDonald’s on long summer days, chasing the ice cream man in our bathing suits. Walking them with my love was a sweet thing.

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Date #44: An at-home date, decorating our tree while listening to Christmas records and starting our advent reading together. Mellow, merry and a lovely way to kick off the holiday season.

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Date #45: We went to see one of our favorite bands, The Head & The Heart, in concert. It was so so good. Going to concerts has been one of our favorite ways of dating since we were teens.

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Date #46: Thanks to a generous gift card from a family in our church, we went out for a fancy dinner in La Jolla and drove around looking at Christmas lights- including the house shown which had it’s own radio station that the lights danced to!

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Date #47: Another wedding date- this time for the wedding of one of our college friends. It was at an amazing new event space in Long Beach called The Loft on Pine and, once again, we had the honor of getting to be a part of the music for the wedding. David played for the ceremony and then we sang a song called “When the Right One Comes Along” for the first dance. It was a magical moment that was so special to be a part of. Wedding dates are extra special- getting to spend time with my love, all dressed up, while we celebrate love and the amazing gift that is marriage.

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Date #48: Sushi lunch date (don’t worry- I didn’t eat in raw fish!). This is a big deal- I do not like sushi, pregnant or not, so it never happens. Daveed loves it though, so last Christmas, I gave him a coupon for a sushi date and he just now redeemed it. He was a very happy boy :)

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Date #49: gift card night! We used a gift card for dinner, a gift card for gelato & a gift card to see a movie. Such a fun casual date night- made even better by the fact that it was free! :)

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Date #50: New Years Eve party hopping. First stop: celebrating the 20th Wedding Anniversary of our dear friends. Second stop: a gender reveal party for friends of ours having their first baby. What a great way to end our year of 50 dates: getting dressed up & celebrating life’s big moments with friends that we love.

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It has been an amazing adventure. More to come soon! :)

50 dates project: dates #31-40

I was about to write the wrap up post for our 50 dates project when I realized that I never did a recap of dates 31-40. Oops! Here is a look at the dates we had this fall. Next week, I will share dates 41-50 and some thoughts on what we learned through this year long adventure. You can see dates 1-30 here.

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For date #31, we went to another Stone Brewery movie night. That night, the movie was Zoolander. This is our best attempt at Blue Steel. Know that there were about 10 outtakes that were even worse than this one :)

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On September 9th, we celebrated our 8th anniversary with a two date day. For our day-date (#32), we had lunch at my favorite sandwich spot, Con Pane in Point Loma, then we headed over to the new Stone in Liberty Station to play some bocce. He beat me by one point, for the record :)  We then headed down to the bay for some paddleboarding, which was so fun and peaceful.

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After some time at a coffee shop, where I heated up my hot rollers next to all of the laptop cords, we got dressed in the car and headed out for an amazing dinner date at Seersucker downtown (date #33). Daveed got bone marrow, I got a fun mocktail alongside our amazing meal and they brought us an anniversary dessert plate with three incredible desserts on it, so we were happy campers. I love taking time each anniversary to think back through our wedding and bring to life our favorite memories from that day. We then talked through God’s goodness over the years and how we have seen our marriage grow from anniversary to anniversary. We sat next two a couple who were getting married a couple of days later, which made it even more fun to look at how much our relationship has grown in 8 years and what a fun adventure marriage is.

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The next day was Daveed’s birthday. We usually try to go away somewhere for our anniversary and his birthday, since they are back to back, but it just didn’t work out this year. Unfortunately, I felt very nauseous that morning (hello first trimester) so we got a slow start. Once we got out of the house, we headed down to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Snooze, where I forced down an English muffin and Daveed got a fancy breakfast drink. We then spent some time browsing record shops and finished off our date (#34) with lunch at his favorite North County restaurant, Urge. This was a simple date, which I felt bad about since it was his birthday, but he was so gracious and supportive of how I was feeling. Proof that dates don’t have to always been extravagant or super exciting. We were just happy to be able to spend some time together that day, celebrating his birthday in simple ways.

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Date #35: We went to see “The Last Goodbye” at The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park. It is a modern take of Romeo & Juliet- Shakespeare’s script, but with Jeff Buckley songs added in to make it a musical. I’m a big musical theater fan and Daveed is a big Jeff Buckley fan, so it was a perfect combo for us. We both loved it.

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In October, we were fortunately to be able to take a trip to Nashville together for a conference, thanks to our family jumping on board to watch our boys and the amazing generosity of some of our friends. It was an incredible trip- we headed out a couple of days early to spend some time exploring the city before our conference began. Daveed had been a couple of times before, but this was my first time in Nashville and I fell in love with it. The conference we went to, Hutchmoot, was amazing and greatly impactful. That took up most of our time there, but the dates we planned in the first couple of days were special times together that I will always remember.

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Date #36: BBQ dinner at Puckett’s and listening to a ton of live music, both in the restaurant and all over the downtown area. Daveed didn’t like the ribs at all, as you can tell :)

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Date #37: Lunch at Whiskey Kitchen (so tasty) and some shopping, including the largest used bookstore I have ever seen. We also had some time to read and relax at one of the cutest coffee shops ever.

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Date #38: Amazing dinner at a great little local restaurant, Lockeland Table and delicious ice cream at Jeni’s, where we met up with an old college friend and his wife who live in the area.

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If you were to say what we do the most when traveling is eating, you would be correct. We can remember almost every meal we’ve eaten on every trip we’ve been on. I love researching ahead of time and asking for recommendations from friends so that we can find the best local restaurants to try.

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Date #39: This photo may just look like a plate of food, but it is much more. First of all, it is an amazing meal that my husband cooked for us. Again, we are food lovers and I am so thankful that he is a wonderful cook. But even more than being a really tasty meal, it takes me back a difficult day that we walked through together. It was the day that we found out this baby, which will be my last pregnancy, is another boy. Over dinner, I was finally able to let out the tears that I had been holding in all evening since our ultrasound. Our boys were so excited about having another brother and I didn’t want to ruin that for them or to give them any reason for concern. So, for the couple of hours until they went to bed, I held it together- which meant I couldn’t look at Daveed or talk to him about it all or  I would break into a river of tears. So when they were asleep and the two of us were finally sitting down alone, I was able to process. To cry, to list all of the things that I always thought I would get to do with a daughter that I now had to let go of and mourn and to hear how he was a bit heartbroken over the fact that he would never have that father-daughter relationship. Those moments over pork tenderloin, risotto and brussels sprouts were so important and so necessary. If we hadn’t carved out time to have an at-home dinner date that night, we may have not had the opportunity to communicate in depth what we were feeling and thinking. To mourn together the dream that we would one day have a daughter, so that we could wake up the next morning and start getting pumped up about having three boys.

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Date #40: We walked to our local Farmer’s Market for some waffles and groceries. Another simple date, but one that I loved. It’s rare that we get to do normal everyday things like this together without our kiddos, so we soaked up the time to be able to leisurely walk through our neighborhood and to take our time sampling goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and strawberries without chasing after our sweet little guys.

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Looking back at these memories from just a couple of months ago makes my heart swell. What a gift these dates have been- treasured time together that has helped build up our marriage in ways that I never knew a handful of dinners and walks could do.

The 50 dates project: dates #21-30

We are over half way through our year of 50 dates and I am even more excited about it now than I was when my husband gave me this gift for Christmas. It has blessed our marriage than I could have ever imagined. It is the gift of prioritized time together- no matter how crazy our weeks are, we make it happen. A commitment to each other and to our kids- to create the kind of marriage in which they will grow up seeing what a healthy, loving and God-centered marriage looks like. To see us making time for each other so that we can feel refreshed and loved, which makes us better spouses and parents.

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Dates 21-30 were a mix of super fun and just breathing and being together in the midst of a difficult season. You can see dates 1-10 here and dates 11-20 here.

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Date 21: A Chicago date! To get to david’s best friend’s wedding in Michigan, we had to fly into Chicago. We decided to fly in a day early and have a night in the city together. It was SO fun! I love adventuring with Daveed and exploring new cities. Some of my fondest memories from our relationship are from our travels, starting way back when we went on a missions trip to Africa together while we were dating. Having kids and limited funds definitely affects our travel dreams, but we try to fit in little trips where we can. Even though we were only in Chicago for one day and one night, it was a sweet time in a great city that I will remember forever.

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We started off with a visit to the Bean (can you spot us?), then enjoyed a free orchestral concert in Millennium Park (that amphitheater is awesome!), took a long walk to get the best deep dish pizza in town and then took in the night view and fireworks from the top of the Hancock Building. We loved the city and hope to make it back someday for more adventures.

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Date 22: The next morning, we ventured out for a breakfast date before our friends picked us to head out to Michigan. I looked up a restaurant on my phone that multiple people had recommended and told David it was close- right by Millennium Park- only about a 5 block walk. So we took our time waking up (a luxury, as those of you with young kids surely know) and packed up leisurely before heading out on our walk. Something you should know about me: I am not the best at reading maps, which drives Daveed crazy. Usually, he grabs my phone and looks at the map himself, which drives me crazy. Usually I say something along the lines of, “can’t you just trust me to be the navigator?”, which, in this case, the answer was a resounding no. 20 minutes later, we were still walking… with no restaurant in site. Turns out, those 5 blocks were the big city blocks- in between each of those was a handful of other blocks. I didn’t zoom in enough to see that- oops! So, 40 minutes and 2 1/2 miles later, we arrived. 10 minutes before our friends were supposed to pick us up. We ordered in record speed and ate half of our delicious meals before our friends arrived to pick us up. As we finished our meal in the car, we laughed about my terrible navigation skills and I knew that David would always have this day to back him up when explaining why he doesn’t trust my map reading :)

 

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At least we got to see more of the city, right? :)

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Date 23: A hot date to Ryan & Laura’s wedding! What a joy it was to be in Holland, Michigan to see Ryan, daveed’s best friend, getting married to Laura, a wonderful midwestern girl who was the answer to years of our prayers. Daveed was a groomsmen and sang during the ceremony and we had a wonderful time celebrating and dancing the night away. Then there was the great stolen bag/computer/ipad/other valuable stuff debacle the morning after the wedding, but that is a story for another time…

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We have always loved dancing together. Daveed is a ridiculous dancer- someday I’ll share photo or video proof of that- so it is always crazy, entertaining and slightly dangerous to dance with him. We don’t get opportunities to dance very often, so weddings are always extra exciting because of the fact that we get to shake it on the dance floor together.

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Date 24: dinner at Karl Strauss, thanks to a generous gift card. It was a night of deep conversation, sharing our hearts, grappling with matters of cancer & God and reminiscing on the story He’s given us.

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Date 25: We made the meal that we planned during our cookbook home date night (which you can see here). It was an interesting night- I will write about this more another time- one of the many times that expectations have lead to arguments in our marriage. The meal turned out delicious (with the exception of one dish), even though we forgot to cook all of the veggie side dishes we had planned (oops!). The menu:

*tomato scallion shortcakes

*champagne risotto

*balsamic & beer braised short ribs

*peach dumplings with bourbon buttercream sauce (which was one of the best desserts I have ever made!)

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This was also the night that I found out I was pregnant and told Daveed. There was joy and also some interesting conversations… those dang expectations attacking us again.

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Date 26: A week later, I had a miscarriage. It was a really hard week, dealing with loss, hormones and also having it be right smack in the busiest month of work for Daveed ever. In the midst of the emotion, sadness and dr appointments, I needed a break. We needed a break together. So we went to a movie night at Stone Brewery. During the summer, they show free movies in their gardens and it is awesome. We’ve been going ever since we moved down to San Diego- it is one of our favorite summertime activities. The familiarity of it, the easiness and the laughter were just what we needed. We got there early and had dessert, then had a little down time in the gardens before the movie started. It was unhurried and we were able to just relax together. I didn’t feel like talking much and we didn’t need to. We just held hands from our beach chairs, laughing at Ron Burgundy and his San Diego news team (side note: this movie is much funnier now that we are san diegans. side note #2: I’m really excited for the sequel).

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Date 27: The next week, I did want to talk. I wanted to just sit with my hubby and process everything, now that the miscarriage was over. We made a fire in our backyard and sat for hours, opening our hearts to how each other were feeling and taking in the beautiful clear night sky. Again, it was simple, but just what we needed during that tough time.

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Date 28: a night out at Soda & Swine (a fun, hip casual restaurant in north park) and drinks at Polite Provisions (their swanky bar next door). And I may have had a gigantic waffle cone of coconut chocolate soft service ice cream in the middle of the swanky bar :)

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It was the week our church was moving facilities, so it was pretty much the only time I saw Daveed that whole week. I was super glad we could fit it in, so we could connect on what was going on in the midst of that insane time. It was an example of a big thing we have learned through our 50 dates project: when you make the commitment to have a date each week (give or take), you make it happen. In previous years, there is no way that we would have squeezed in a date in a week like this one. David would have stayed at work to get extra stuff done. But we agreed that having a slice of time together was worth him working later on other nights to make up for it. It kept our sanity during that week and this perspective we’ve gained will continue to encourage us to make dates happen no matter what is going on in our lives. It is that important.

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Date 29: A night in Little Italy, reminiscing about our trip. We started with tasty pizza at Napizza, then hunted for authentic gelato (found at Pappalecco) & stopped to browse in multiple little Italian markets along the way. We then ended the night with another slice of pizza for the road. Too much pizza & gelato? It was just like we were back in Italy :)

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The date was completely unplanned. David had planned for us to go to the beach and have a bonfire and picnic dinner, but the second we got off the freeway near the coast, it was overcast and ugly. Not ideal for a sunset dinner. So we hopped back onto the freeway and drove downtown, having no idea what we were doing (which, if you know me, you know that this drove the planner in me a little bit crazy!). I embraced the spontaneity, consulted my list of restaurants that we want to try, picked Napizza and we were off. A reminder to me that letting go and going with the flow sometimes is much better than anything I could have planned.

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Date 30: This day also did not go as I had planned. I will elaborate on this date at a later time as well :) For now, a quick summary: we had a beach day, enjoying laying out with our feet in the sand and our noses in books without having to chase kids around. Then we went kayaking in La Jolla Cove (so so fun!!), grabbed burgers to go for a sunset picnic on the cliffs and then we stopped by Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert. We felt like we were college kids on summer break.

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20 more to go! I cannot wait to see what God continues to do in our marriage through these dates. Truly one of the best gifts I have ever received!

 

the 50 dates project: dates #11-20

This past Christmas, my husband gave me the gift of 50 dates in 2013. We are almost half way through, and it has turned out to be the most amazing gift ever. Last year, our dates were too few and not planned frequently and what a change it has been now that we have this challenge of making 50 dates happen in 52 weeks. Having *almost* weekly dates has been refreshing, kept our marriage more spontaneous and made our time together more fulfilling and special.

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We have also learned to value at-home date nights. It has helped us be much more strategic with our time together in the evenings. We don’t have many nights a week when we are both home, so it has been wonderful to plan something for us to really connect and spend quality time together, not just sitting in front of the TV, watching New Girl (although there are many nights where that happens and it is great and needed decompressing time).

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A couple of months ago, I recapped dates #1-10. You can see that post here.

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Now, onto dates 11-20!

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Date #11: We went on a hike at Torrey Pines, one of my favorite spots in San Diego. It is a pretty mellow hike, so we could talk the whole time, and it’s an incredibly beautiful hike, which makes it seem like a treat.

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He laughed at me for wanting to jump on his back for the photo, but, for some reason, it just felt right.

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Date #12: Watching The Sound of Music while eating homemade ice cream sandwiches. I cannot fathom how my husband had never seen this movie. It was a huge part of my childhood- I memorized that movie, which my parents had recorded from the TV onto a VHS tape. I can still remember the American Express and JC Penny holiday commercials. I played Gretl, the youngest Von Trapp, in a children’s theater production when I was about 6. As I grew up, I performed in the show 3 more times- making my way up the Von Trapp family order, finishing with Leisl with I was 16. All of this made it even harder to believe that Daveed knew nothing about this story.

He agreed to watch it with me, as long as I did not sing every song and recite every line (which I could have done). It was a done deal and we snuggled on the couch with our dessert and I forced my mouth to remain closed. Most of the time.

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What was the verdict? He enjoyed it, for the most part. He realized at the end of the movie that he had always thought The Sound of Music was Heidi. Aye.

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Date #13: Daveed made a delicious late-night dinner after the kids were asleep and then we had a game night.

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This is a bigger deal than it seems, friends. You see, Daveed does not like playing board games. I do. I cannot tell you how many times I have suggested that we play a game and he quickly found a “better” option for our time together. So, for him to suggest a game night, was very much out of the ordinary. He won scrabble, I won Scattergories, for the record. If it hadn’t been so late, I would have suggested a tie-breaker :)

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The next two dates took place in Italy. As I mentioned in my last instafriday post, they will win as best dates. Because they were in Italy.

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Date #14: exploring the little city of Grosetto (our home base throughout the trip), which included touring the beautiful cathedral, eating lots of gelato and an unhurried lunch at a small cafe, sitting on the sidewalk. The town was deserted because it was the afternoon (apparently people in small Italian cities follow along with the Spaniards and have siesta time), so we roamed the city, only passing a handful of people. At first I was bummed that all of the shops and most of the restaurants were closed, but it ended up being so peaceful. Like we had the whole place to ourselves. Which also had a bit of spookiness to it, but it was dreamy. It even started to lightly sprinkle while we were sitting outside, which only made it more romantic.

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Date #15: adventuring at night in Viamaggiore, the seaside village we stayed in in Cinque Terre.

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Cinque Terre was my favorite part of our trip to Italy. We ate the best food there, it was relaxing and adorable and we had a great date while Daveed’s parents stayed back at our apartment with a sleeping Isaiah. Our first stop was to a bar- the only place in town that we could get wifi. I know it seems like a lame start to a date but, after a long day of exploring and hiking, it was nice to sit with a glass of wine and look back through the photos we had taken that day. And then posting them to instagram, of course. We then skipped through the train tunnel, hand in hand, only to decide at the end that we didn’t want to take the train and, instead, wanted to stay in our little village. We grabbed a half bottle of wine from a little market and a rich chocolate dessert from an overpriced restaurant and headed to the coast. We sat on the cliffs, taking in the lights of the sweet town and the peace of the dark sea. As the waves slowly crashed against the rocks, we ate, drank and talked about deep things. Two hours later, we felt more connected and on the same page than we had in a long time. It was a simple and magical night.

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Posting that made me realized that I never shared our Italy pictures. Oops. I will get around to that some day soon :)

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Date # 16: Back in the US, we baked brownies from scratch (delicious), read the bible together under our backyard lights and listened to old Foo Fighters albums on vinyl, reminiscing about our early dating days. After the craziness of traveling for two weeks, it was nice to sit at home together, refocusing and remembering old times. And the amazing, rich brownies didn’t hurt either.

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Date #17: Movie date to see Gatsby.

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Much like playing board games together at home, going out the movies happens very rarely. We love movies, but never get to them. We end up watching them on DVD, which is fine (and much cheaper!), but it makes getting out to a movie extra special. So special, that I had to wear my gold sparkly shoes, which just felt right as I was watching Gatsby’s parties. (We loved the movie, by the way)

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Date #18: We got frozen yogurt (I had been dreaming about it that week), checked out a new local spot, Brother’s Provisions, which is great for tea, cheese & drinks, but ended up leaving because they closed early that night for a private event. We then headed over to our favorite north county restaurant, Urge, which was complete with a guest appearance by our good friend Ryan (who is a manager there).

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It was one of those dates that was not well planned by either of us, so we ended up just hopping in the car and seeing where we ended up. In spite of our lack of planning, we had a great night together.

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Date 19: Padres game!

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We love going to baseball games. Our friends Geoff & Holly let us tag along with them and we were blown away with the great seats. We could hear the ball hitting the catchers glove! And they won, which made the date even better.

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Date #20: We checked out some new cookbooks from the library and read through them with drinks and snacks. We then picked out some of our favorite recipes and pieced together a menu that we are going cook together for our next at-home date.

Our first 10 dates out of 50 in 2013

I’ve often heard couples talk about how they have a date night every week. I’ve seen it recommended in books on marriage and have always thought “how is that possible with kids?”. The cost of babysitting weekly is beyond our budget to start with, let alone finding the time every week for it.

 

Then, for Christmas, my husband gave me 50 dates in 2013. So awesome. It works out to roughly one date per week, with a couple of mulligans.

Yes, our schedules are crazy, but we make it work. Prioritizing intentional time to hang out together weekly has been SO good!

Yes, our budget is super tight right now- but we make it work. One way we do that is having some at home dates- having a late dinner with just the two of us and an activity after we put the kids down. While it is not ideal, it works for this stage of life. While we have paid for babysitting a couple of times for these dates, we’ve been able to work out most when we have grandparents visiting :)

 

It has been such a great way to start out the year. Every week, we look at our calendar and figure out a time we can either get away or have a date at home. If there isn’t an open night, we move things around to make one. I am so thankful for this thoughtful gift from my husband- it has forced us to get into a routine with dates and I love it! Also a big thank you to my friend Jessi who did this with her husband last year, which inspired Daveed :)

 

We’ve had 10 dates so far. I have shared some in my instafriday posts, but thought I would do a little recap here.

 

Date #1: Dinner at one of our favorite San Diego restaurants: BO-Beau (thanks to a giftcard from a generous member of our church!). SO GOOD! I cannot even tell you.

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Date #2: We got to get away to the mountains for a night with another couple and went snowboarding together (my Christmas gift to him). So much fun!

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Date #3: Delicious candlelight dinner made by the hubs after the kiddos were in bed.

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Date #4: Dessert & drinks at a car dealership. Yep. Our local Lexus dealership has a nice restaurant on the roof.

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Date #5: Daveed made pasta from scratch (delicious!) and we watched the Grammy’s- complete with lots of hilarious commentary between the two of us.

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Date #6:  Valentine’s Day. We had a night away up in Santa Barbara while visiting Daveed’s grandma and had a delicious brunch, followed by a walk and some window shopping on State Street.

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Date #7: We used up an old gift card at Cheesecake Factory. Banana creme Cheesecake with a side of hot fudge. The best.

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Date #8: Breakfast at our favorite coffee shop, surfing, reading & a beach walk.

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Date #9: Homemade pizzas (prosciutto & arugula, tomato basil and prosciutto & caramelized onions) and watched Argo.

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Date #10: Picnic dinner at Balboa Park, followed by a long walk and dessert & tea at Extraordinary Desserts.

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I cannot wait for the next 40!!