Category Archives: marriage

We Date and Paint at Home: January

spirograph art and pen

I love date nights. Looooove them. However, we have 5 kids, recently moved to a new area, and don’t live near any of our family. We totally strike out in the babysitter department. That shouldn’t stop us from having a good time and spending some quality time together though, right? Didn’t think so. For a long time we had one or two shows we watched together each week. Then we chose to get rid of our satellite tv services, so we switched to renting or buying a movie once or twice a month. Life got crazy, and that got pushed to the back burner. This year, we’re revamping our date nights in with a Date Night Challenge. If you missed my last post, or want to join in, go check out the intro post.

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January’s date night wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but we did get to spend some time together creating some fun art, so I’ll call it a success. The baby decided to take a super late nap and then wasn’t ready to go to bed, so he joined us in his highchair. The activity I chose for this month’s date night in was fun though, and I’ll certainly pull it out for other crafts too. I have yet to let my kids touch it. 🙂

First reactions:

Me: Yaaaay! These are so fun! Back to my childhood! I’ve been wanting one of these for years.

Steven: (peeking in the box) You’re such a kid.

January’s Date Night Activity:

The Original Spirograph Deluxe Set

the orginial spirograph set box

My husband’s initial reaction may be a tad bit true. I’ve never denied it though.


The Spirograph set has mostly stayed the same over the years. However, some special edition kits have been added, such as the Spirograph Cyclex.

The appeal of the Spirograph was the open it and go aspect. I wanted something quick and fairly easy to master. As I mentioned before, I’m not very gifted in the drawing area. Who wants to be discouraged on a date night? Not me. I was thankful for the nifty design guide included in the set. The guide gives pictures and instructions on how to create many different designs – from extremely simple to rather complex.

spirograph set box with wheels and pens



Date nights at home definitely don’t have to be elaborate. Sweet tea, good conversation, and the Spirograph Deluxe Set made a fun and quick at-home date night. I’m sure we’ll get it out again for another date night in. I have a few other ideas for using it to create different crafts too. (And at some point I may even let my kids in on the fun. :-p )

Looking for more Spirograph fun? Check out my Spirograph ideas board on Pinterest!

So what fun activities did you come up with for a January date night? Share them in the comments or over on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me (@mommythezookeeper) and use #wedateandpaintathome! I can’t wait to see what fun y’all had!

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Filed under art, Dating Your Spouse, marriage

We Date & Paint at Home: Our 2017 At-Home Date Night Challenge 


I have rarely made New Years resolutions. It’s just not my thing. This year though, I happened upon an idea or two I’d like to try.

The last Friday night of 2016, I found myself standing in Wal-Mart with my husband when the crafting bug struck me. I suggested (ok, begged/demanded) that he step out of his “always go by the plan” box and do some painting with me that night. We bought a couple of cheap canvases, paints, and brushes, and headed home. I was glad he didn’t ask if we had any at home. I didn’t want to ruin my chances by telling him I did have all the supplies….packed away in storage 😆🙈

It was the funnest date night we’ve had in a long time. (Nothing will ever top the Valentine’s Day date to Chuck E. Cheese though. Oh yes, we did, and it was awesome! I nearly peed on myself in the front seat of his truck from laughing so hard as we took selfies with bubba teeth.)

Anywho, I stink at painting. My husband is crazy talented at drawing, and apparently painting too. He hadn’t touched paints since high school, and yet, he could have outdone me blindfolded. We did have a great time, despite my lack of painting skills! Our painting supplies, a pot of coffee, and cookies from my mother-in-law, and good conversation made for a fun, cheap date night at home that didn’t involve watching tv or movies, which is usually our go to. My husband even told some friends and family it was a really good idea, and he’d enjoyed our at-home date night!

All of this got me thinking. Why not do a different date night craft or art activity once a month? Cheap, fun, lots of opportunity for conversation, and it won’t require a babysitter, which we don’t exactly have easy access to.

So that’s my goal – 1 at-home date night per month that involves some sort of art or craft and is inexpensive. I’ll try to stay at $20 or less.

Then, each month I’ll share our date night activity here!

PS-If you’d like to share your own at-home date night arts and crafts, be sure to post them and include #mommythezookeeper and #wedateandpaintathome in the comment! I’d love to see what ideas y’all come up with!

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Filed under Dating Your Spouse, marriage

What I’ll tell my daughters about marriage and Valentine’s Day

What is Valentine’s Day without all the other days?

I love extravagance just as much as the next hopeless romantic. Even if I knew the number of times I have watched The Notebook, I wouldn’t tell because I’m certain it’s an embarrassing number. We spent a ridiculous amount of hours DIYing our wedding because my romantic ideas far surpassed our budget. My favorite color is pink and favorite flower is antique roses. I am truly a hopeless romantic. I cry happy tears over movies that aren’t even romance-themed.

This morning though, when I was lying in bed at 1 a.m., I was whispering the words I have so many times before over my sleeping husband, “Thank you God for this man,” and just like all the times before, it wasn’t storybook romantic moments that were flooding my mind. Yes, he brought home chocolate yesterday. Yes, he brought home a little rose bush for my garden. I’m grateful for those, and it meant a lot to me that he remembered the times a few months ago when I said I wanted a rose bush. Those things aren’t what had my heart fluttering while I watched him sleep though.

It was when he opened a bag and handed heart-shaped boxes of candy to each of our kids – even the baby.

It was when he held me when I cried.

It was knowing he went to bed exhausted, hoping his phone wouldn’t ring with a call from work before morning.

It was that he was getting up to go to work in a few hours, on a Saturday – because they needed him to, not because he wanted to.

It was when he suggested we volunteer to babysit at church since he would be on-call on Valentine’s Day.

Those moments are so special. That’s what makes Valentine’s Day even worth celebrating with him.

Every once in a while my husband does really surprise me, catch me off guard with a big gift or really sweet gesture that makes me feel like a princess for a bit. But those wouldn’t mean anything at all without the day in and day out, everyday love in-between.

Valentine’s Day is fun. It’s a day like any other though, and it has the possibility to go 100 different ways. If this one is perfect, that’s really great and a fun memory. If it isn’t perfect – the babysitter cancels, he has to work, the kids cry and fight all day, the dog throws up in the one room of your house with carpet, and/or you burn the cookies…and the steaks. Even if he waits until the last minute and runs out of time to even buy a card for you – it’s still one more day that he’s yours and you are his.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…

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Serve him pt 3: wisdom

This is part 3 of a series I’ve been doing on my one word for 2014, serve, in relation to wives serving their husbands.
Here are part one and part two.


A few weeks ago I chose Proverbs 31:26 as my memory verse.    She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

The next day I was reading in Proverbs chapter 4, and verses 4-9 deal with gaining and cherishing wisdom and understanding and it brought me back to that verse.

Get wisdom, get understanding: do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor. (Proverbs 4: 4-9)

You know how you can read a passage 100 times and suddenly see it differently? That’s what happened to me today. The word she stood out.
Women are to speak with wisdom and faithful instruction. How important our gaining of wisdom and understanding is to that of our husbands! I read the passage again and repeated Proverbs 31:26 after each verse.

Proverbs 4:6  – Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you.
She spoke with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (31:26)

Our gaining of wisdom can not only protect us, but also our husbands. It is important, not only for our own benefit, but also that we can be a benefit to others.

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Filed under Christian Living, marriage, my one word, Serve

Serve him pt. 2: With your words


At the beginning of the year I mentioned my word for 2014 is serve. This is part two of my Serve him series. It started with Serve him part one: Pray.
We so often think of serving others with our hands, by doing things for them. However, everyday we have the opportunity to serve others with our words, especially our husbands. With your words, you can build your husband up or tear him down, both to him and to others. Today I’m talking about serving him through our words to others.

Choose your words (and your audience) carefully.

We’re all pr0bably familiar with Ephesians 4:29.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Often the focus is on the first part of the verse though, when the end (…that it may benefit those who listen.) is just as important. When talking about someone, whether good or bad, usually the person being discussed is thought to be the person helped or harmed. That’s not the whole picture though. When you speak of your husband, you have the opportunity to not only build up his reputation but to also set an example for those listening of how Christians view and speak of their spouses. I think women especially have a tendency to unintentionally tear down their husbands to others, under the guise of “venting” usually. This can be a dangerous practice though. The next time you start to vent about your husband to a friend, stop and ask yourself these questions first.

1. Am I complaining or am I seeking counsel on an issue I’m not sure how to handle or resolve?
Complaining isn’t going to do anyone any good. In fact, it will probably only make you feel worse. And the listener isn’t likely to forget the harsh things you say about your husband. Their view of him will always be tainted by that. When I start to complain about something, Philippians 2:14 and 15 come to mind.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Don’t point out his flaws to others just to complain. How would you feel if you heard he was speaking poorly of you to his friends? Be kind. Don’t boast. Don’t keep records of wrong doings. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

2. If I am seeking advice, will this person have a worldly view or a biblical view of the issue? And will they be honest with me if it is something I need to fix in myself?
Choose your audience wisely. I’ll say it again. Choose your audience wisely.
You don’t want to receive (and use) poor advice from someone who doesn’t have a biblical view of the issue or marriage. You also don’t want to set a poor example of how other women should treat their husbands. I promise, people are watching you more closely than you think.

3. If they’re a trustworthy Christian friend, and I am seeking advice, how can I word it so that I’m not making my husband out to be the bad guy who never does anything right? Is there an aspect of the issue where I am at fault and need to work on or ask forgiveness for?
Do not be afraid to seek godly counsel and prayer over issues. Just go about it with humility and grace. You’re not perfect. Neither is he. Show grace and kindness to your husband when you speak of him to others. Again, others are watching, and many you would never even suspect are learning from your actions. You’re also more likely to get better advice and resolve the issue quicker if you approach it with humility and realize there’s probably a lesson in it for both of you, maybe even you more so than him. (Ouch. Yes, that happens to me too.)

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:11-12)

It (love) always protects… (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Serve your husband by protecting him with the words you speak to others. Bring him good, not harm.


Filed under Christian Living, marriage, my one word

Serving him: Pray {part 1}

I’ve spent the last few weeks studying and thinking on several things. One of those is my one word for 2014, serve.


One of the first things I did was update my daily to do list.

image from instagram

This simple act reminds me of my priorities throughout the day as I check things off my list. While returning those library books is important, it’s not exactly serving my family if I’m the only one that cares and they aren’t due for another week. Getting supper started on time however, is a bit higher up the list. 🙂

Then I started looking at different ways I could serve God, my husband, my children, and others each day.
After filling a few pages in my notebook, I figured it would be good to share some of my thoughts and what I’m learning over here. I’ll start with sharing some ideas about and ways for us wives to serve our husbands. This will be part one of a series.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

The most important way wives can serve their husbands is to pray for them. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. Every day. Pray for wisdom. Pray for courage. Pray for patience. Pray for endurance. Pray for strength. Pray for contentment. Pray for whatever the Lord lays on your heart for him. Before going any further, I’d like you to know I’m not perfect at it! I thank God for the man I married pretty much every single day. He’s amazing, and I see daily what a blessing he is to my life. However, I tend to forget that he needs daily prayer for the everyday things he deals with, until something comes up anyway. I actually wrote it on my to do list today to be sure I didn’t let the day slip away without taking my wonderful husband to the Father and at least praying for his safety and for him to be granted wisdom and courage.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

Between the everyday prayers, do pray for him through the big stuff too. God is more productive with us through prayer than we ever will be on our own. Also, pray for yourself as his wife. Don’t be afraid to ask God to transform you into the wife he needs you to be. What a better way to serve your husband than by allowing God to refine and change your heart? We always have room for growth and refinement. It’s not always fun, but it is well worth it.

If you are looking for a good place to start for a daily prayer for your husband, I really love this infographic from Jennifer over at Loving Life at Home. As soon as we get moved, a copy of it will be displayed on my desk. 🙂


Filed under Christian Living, family, marriage, my one word

It’s what we do.

This was taken at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere on a chilly December Monday morning on our honeymoon. There was ice on the rope. I wanted to cross it, but he insisted on going first to help me across. Steven took one step onto the ropes and fell flat on his rear. I, being the sweet wife I am, laughed. He did too.

Are there moments in your life that are forever etched in your mind? I don’t mean big moments like when you got engaged or when you gave birth to your first child. I mean smaller moments. Moments that will make you smile 50 years from now, even though when it happened it seemed small and unimportant.

This is a picture of one of those moments for me. It reminds me of what my husband and I do best together. Laugh. For a long time, I felt strange when people would ask us, “What do you do together?” I always felt a little embarrassed that we didn’t have a joint hobby that we do together regularly. I’m not too interested in playing COD4 on Xbox Live, and he isn’t too interested in scrapbooking or watching Desperate Housewives. Now don’t get me wrong, we take our annual trips to the zoo together, go to car shows, play a mean game of Uno or Scrabble, and do other little things together here and there. However, none of those are things that we do together on a regular schedule. Of course, with Steven’s work schedule, “regular” isn’t really in our vocabulary.

Anyway, I worried that we weren’t normal and that our marriage was doomed because we weren’t enrolled in dance or cooking classes together and didn’t share a love for something like Star Wars movies (although, strangely, we do both appreciate romantic comedies starring Ashton Kutcher). Then I thought about my parent’s though. When they were newlyweds, they took a compatibility test. The person giving them the assessment told them they really weren’t sure how my parents made it past the dating and engagement to end up married to one another. They’ve been married nearly 30 years.

Then I realized there is something my husband and I have in common with my parents. It’s something we do together. It’s something my husband and I do together everyday, whether we are in the same house or hundreds of miles apart. We laugh. Sometimes it’s just a giggle or two, and sometimes it’s a side-splitting, tears pouring down cheeks, me screaming for him to stop whatever he’s doing that is so funny, need to run to the bathroom laugh. Sometimes it’s even over those romantic comedies starring Ashton Kutcher that I mentioned earlier. Either way, it’s what we do together. Although, my mother might say that arguing holds a close second place. 🙂

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Filed under marriage

Snowball, Arkansas

Last Friday, Steven and I headed out for a relaxing weekend away to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. When we planned our honeymoon we were torn between renting a cabin in the Ozark Mountains and going to Nashville. In the end, we decided on Nashville because…well, because I got 2nd row seats to see Andy Griggs! haha We had a ton of fun though! We did something different and fun every single day we were there. However, we weren’t anxious to rush back into a big city this year. Actually, Jonesboro is getting too big for us day-by-day. So, we decided for our first anniversary we would go with our second choice for our honeymoon.

After doing some research on the Internet, I came across a huge listing of getaway rentals in Arkansas. We finally agreed on a beautiful old farm house in Snowball, Arkansas.

Where is Snowball?
Right here…

It is far enough out that we got zero phone service at the house we rented. Imagine that! A weekend without a cell phone ringing? Oh, it was marvelous!

(Ok, ok…I admit it. I did check my e-mail/facebook/texts when we drove into Marshall on Saturday. )

Anyway, this is what we saw when we arrived on Friday night.

And the outside during the day

Here are some photos of the inside of the house.

This is the living room, where you enter from the front door.

We spent a lot of the weekend reading here, next to the fireplace in the living room.

Above is the second bedroom. This room is just off the left of living room. It has two full beds, a door that opens to the screened-in back porch, and a door that opens to the front porch (the solid green door seen in the picture of the outside of the house).

This is the kitchen. The door in the back of the first photo goes to the bathroom.

The main bedroom. This one was hard to get a picture of because of the shape of the room. It isn’t as small of a room as it looks in the picture though. There was a queen size bed with plenty of room to walk around, with room to store shoes, suitcases, etc. on the sides. It is off the left side of the kitchen.

The pretty back porch

Ok, it’s really late so I will post more about our trip later.


Filed under marriage, travel

My early anniversary gift!

What could it be?

I got an iPhone! Steven went out and looked at them Friday morning, and we went that night to pick it up. Yes, I’m already obsessed and in love! Don’t worry, he didn’t get totally left out. He got to keep my BlackBerry.


Filed under marriage