Thursday, October 25, 2012

monster-in-law


Remember the movie with Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and Michael Vartan? If not, go here read the summary and come back. It’s about a girl who is engaged and her future mother-in-law is a jealous, conniving, crazy woman who doesn’t want her baby boy to marry this chick.
I started thinking about it because I feel like I hear, what I will call, “mother-in-law horror stories.” I feel like girls are always making comments about how terrible their MIL is - how much she spoils her baby boy, how she give unsolicited advice, and how much drama the MIL brings.
It’s sad really. I feel like a MIL could become your best friend and closest ally if you let them (key word is could).
Now, want to know the dirt on my MIL?
Well, I have been married to her oldest, most loved, baby boy for over 4 years now and I can say without any hesitation that I consider her one of my best friends. She isn’t your average mom, that’s for sure, but she has become a very important part of my life.
Notice I said become. My MIL and I don’t always see eye-to-eye and it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. Just ask my main-squeeze.
From the start the MIL and I got along just fine. I mean, I got married at 18 so it would be difficult to say we were friends because let’s face it – I was still a kid.
When the main-squeeze went to Parris Island for boot camp in 2007, I didn’t get to talk to him (except through letters) for 3 months. For a 17 year-old girl it was pure torture. Plus it was the last summer before my senior year so I was mad at him. Anyway, once the main-squeeze was able to make a phone call he called him mom first. Ugh. He “claims” he couldn’t remember my phone number… mhmm… sure. ;) At his graduation the following week, his mom and I literally raced to get the first hug (I’d like to add, I was closer to him but she sprinted like a gazelle being chased by a cheetah). She got the first hug. Ugh. But I got the second and since we weren’t married, I guess I’ll forgive them ;)
When we got engaged that same year, I didn’t tell my family because I was afraid too, but his family knew. His mom supported us. I mean let’s be real, she could have totally been talking smack behind our backs and whatnot, but to our faces she put on a strong face and supported us.
When Vincent was in his accident, I called her first. The minute I said her name, it was like she knew something bad had happened. I told her to stay in SC until I knew for sure what was going on but three days later when they transferred him to the trauma center, I told her to do what she needed to do. Thankfully, that was drive up. She stayed with him the first night at the new hospital so I could sleep and I am forever grateful. We managed to make the most out of the situation – enjoyed the hospitals amazing sweet-tea, hit up Kohl’s since she didn’t pack any socks or shirts, and ate normal food.

It’s not always been pretty. I got into a HUGE, I mean mega-WW3-type fight with my sister-in-law, which basically lead to us not talking for a year and a half. The main-squeeze and MIL were trapped in the middle.  Our relationship suffered immensely.  We even got into a fight at Wild Wings – whoa, talk about drama!
Anyway, I’m done with the stories. Here is an open letter to my MIL:

messing around on the USS North Carolina

Lisa,
Where, oh where, to begin? It was this time 7 years ago that I met you. The band kids were having a sleep over at y’alls house and I stopped by to say hello. I remember thinking how cool you seemed and how youthful. I would never have guessed that that night would be the start for a beautiful, crazy relationship.
I know our relationship has been anything short of easy but I could not ask for a better MIL. I thank God for putting you into my life as a mother and friend.
You’re opinionated, passionate, and committed. You are kind, funny, and smart. You can cook cube steak like a 5-star chef and your enchiladas are to die for. You are a great listener and you are great to vent with/to. You are beautiful. Stunning. Captivating. You are an inspiration, shoulder to cry on, and great source of unabashed support. You buy my dogs Christmas presents and our gifts are pretty rad too. You are uber competitive. You make me angry and you call me out on my crap. You are strong, independent, and patient. You raised an amazing son (did I mention sexy ;) who is determined to not let a life changing injury slow him down. You raised a daughter who is funny and youthful – not to mention gave birth to the cutest curly headed boy. You have a smile that can light up a room and you know how to install blinds. You are moving in with us when we have kids (ok… well maybe not but a girl can dream). You challenge me and you respect other’s opinions even if you don’t agree. You are adventurous but down-to-earth. You share in joy and in pain. And sometimes I like you more than the main-squeeze! ;)
Thank you for being a friend and for telling me when I am in the wrong. Thank you for being there for myself and for the main-squeeze. Thank you for calling just to chat. Thank you for not treating me like an idiot when I don’t understand something. Thank you for allowing me to love your son. Thank you for loving me.
Seven years ago, you came into my life and have changed it for the better (cue song from Wicked). Through all the good times and bad times, I could not have asked for a better MIL.
I love you so very much.
ML

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

date night ideas by price


Since my other post was such a hit, I thought I would expand my date night list.

Sometimes we want affordable or at-home date nights but what about those nights where we have a little cash and want to do something different? Here is a list for you!

I provided links where applicable to help you out.

Enjoy!




Free(-ish)

Dream Home Blue Print
Sketch out a blueprint of your dream house. Make of list of must-haves in your dream home (laundry chute, three car garage, spiral staircase, etc.) Check out this site for some ideas and make a Pinterest board for inspiration!

Anniversary Vacation
Have a milestone anniversary coming up? Sit down and plan the vacation you both want to take! Grab the laptop and go to town! Look for hotels, airfare, and attractions for your trip.

Where I’d like to visit
Make a map of places you have been and want to go. Make a list of places and sites to see.

Hobby Love
Teach each other your favorite hobby. Sometimes you don’t really know or understand something they love – take the time to learn!

Build a fort and watch a movie
Grab all the blankets and pillows in the house and build an awesome fort. If possible, pull a blanket over the TV to make it really authentic!

Watch home videos
Embarrassing and fun, it’s a great way to bond.

Build out bucket list
Building one as a couple and as individuals. What on your list have you already accomplished? Here's my list and my pinboard

Volunteer at the local shelter
It's a great way to give back

Why I love you List
Make a very specific list of things you love about each other. Share lists over a glass of wine

Go on a picnic
Take food, wine, and a blanket to your favorite location and enjoy

Historic walking tour
Sometime we don't appriciate the little things, like our town and it's history. Don't live in an historic town? Take a day trip out to a nearby town!

Watch stand-up comedy all night
Netflix has a ton of stand-up on it's Instant. Laughing is a great way to bond!

Make a list of potential baby names
This could literally take all night! Imagine how you will feel when you have kids – do you think you’d still like the names??

Make a 5, 10, 15 year “basic” plan
I say basic because life doesn’t always go as planned but it could be fun to dream it out!

Go on a long walk

Go through that junk drawer!
Ew! I know! No fun- but it can be if you do it together! Plus you may find some things you thought were "lost!"

Rearrange a room.
Just for a change.

Play video games all night.
Battle it out or work together. Racing games are always a good choice!

Pajama party!
Pop some popcorn, make a pallet, and watch a cheesy show or movie.

Mix CD
Make a CD of songs that remind you of your time together.

Long drive to nowhere
Roll the windows down, turn up the music, and hold hands

Favorite childhood movie
Watch each other’s favorite movies from childhood. May have to get a VHS player ;)

Have a rapping or singing contest

Movie script
Mute your favorite TV show or movie and make up your own dialogue. :)

Start a new exercise routine. 

Go window shopping downtown
Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a fun way to spend the afternoon

Head to a local park and catch a game!

Board Game tournament
Break out some old board games - think Guess Who, Life, Candy Land, Connect Four, Mancala, Jenga, or Battleship. Don't have them around the house, go to Pogo and play some together for free!

Morning date
Who said date night had to be at night?! Get up and cook a big breakfast together, then climb back into bed to eat it!

Have a marshmallow war
50 mellows each and may the best person win! ;)

Go for a hike or bike ride
Check out this site for trails near you!

Hit the courts
One-0n-one basketball game or play HORSE or Around the World

Kissing challenge
100 kisses in three hours.

Snowing outside? Go build a snowman!
Don't be skimpy! Grab the scarf, carrot, coal, and hat to make a cool looking snowman!

Play 20 questions
or use this list!

Grab a blanket and head outside to go star gazing

At home drive-in
Have a car with a DVD player in it? Put the seats down, make some popcorns and have a “drive-in” night. Laptops work too ;)

Test drive your dream car.
I mean I feel bad for “inconveniencing” the sales guy but hey, you can dream and you have to know if you’d like it for the future ;)

YouTube Date night
Spend time watching funny videos! This couple has a list already made for you to see (scroll to bottom of her post for the link)

Bubble bath, wine
.... need I say more ;)

Night time picnic
Cook a yummy meal and have a night time picnic. Candles and wine are a plus!

Bookstore Date
Head to the local bookstore and browse the books. Pick out a coffee table book and look through it together. Check out this Bookstore Date Challenge idea!! 

Grab your suit and find some water
Beach, lake, pool - your choice!

Read a book together
Read out loud together or read separately but read the same thing. Then discuss!

Go climb a tree
Really doesn't need more explaining... ;)

Jump on a trampoline

Break out a deck of cards
Go Fish, poker, gin rummy, solitare....  


Under $20

Baking for others
Deliver cupcakes, cookies, etc to friends, family, or nursing home

Attend a festival
Greek, Italian, art, or music - check out a local festival.

Spa night at home
Grab the face mask and foot lotion. Enjoy pampering each other

Cookie bake-off
May the best baker win!

Make a time capsule
Plan to open it in 10 years!

Go to a bar to watch a game
Eat, drink, and root for your team

Go bowling
Enjoy the junk food!

Go to a Flea Market

Water balloon fight
Have a water balloon fight with friends. Make it girls vs. boys, full on battle!

See a movie at the dollar theatre

Goodwill shopping spree
Go to a Goodwill or Thrift store and pick out one crazy item for the other person. $10 budget

Get up early and go eat brunch somewhere nice

Make a gift for someone else.
Just because.

Flirty bar date
Go during happy hour and flirt mercilessly with your man! It’s sure to spark something ;)

Go to a driving range.
For about $6-10 you can buy a bucket of golf balls and borrow a driver. It's actually pretty fun!

Go to a shooting range
You can rent a gun and buy ammo. It's a great way to blow off steam and it's something different

Go to an outdoor concert
During the summer, there are a lot of places that offer free music. Grab the pups, some drinks, a blanket, and enjoy the show!

Karaoke
... need I say more?

"Let's go fly a kite..."
Grab your honey and head to the park to fly a kite :)

Slip-n-slide
Release your inner child and break out a slip-n-slide!

Dessert only date

See what musical or play a local school is having and go check it out!
Support the arts!

Go play mini-golf

Puzzle mania
Grab a 1,000 piece puzzle and settle in for the night

Batter up!
Go hits some baseballs at the batting cages

Make your own pizza

Garage sale spree
Get $20 out of the ATM - $10 a piece – and go around to garage sales and see who can get the best item/deal

Check out the local drive-in theatre
Old-school lovin'. This website has a list of theaters all over the country!

Play Twister.
For added fun: get spray paint and make an outdoors Twister

Fro-yo challenge
Go to your local frozen yogurt place but let your significant other make you a creation

Old school candy
If your city has an old General Store, head to the candy buckets and pick out some fun candies to try!

People watch
Head to the mall, grab a pretzel and people watch. Make up fun stories about their lives

Marshmallow war

Live near the beach or visiting soon?
Head to the pier and get an ice cream cone!

Magazine dish
Grab a girly magazine and a magazine your man would like and read the cool articles to each other

Netflix instant
Find a new TV series to watch together. It could become your weeknight date!

Head to the racetrack or drag strip.
It will get your adrenaline pumping!

New York Times crossword puzzle

Here ya go!

Visit a historic location
Old battle ground, historic home, monument, or park. Some are free but don't forget to leave a donation!

Go pick some fruit!
Fall - check out an apple orchard. Spring/Summer - head to the strawberry field. Enjoy gathering some yummy fruit together!


Cheap-o date
Go to a fast food place but skip the drive thu and sit outside

Put together a model car
This will surely test your patience!!

Check out a small town nearby
Don't plan the day, just get up and go!

Carve a pumpkin

Lights at the Zoo
Afterwards go get coffee/hot chocolate

Build a bonfire
Roast your dinner and dessert!

Egg Art
Break off the top of an egg, dump the insides, fill with paint, and take turns throwing at a canvas! Sound nuts? Check out this blog for more "info" ;)





Under $50

Fresh dinner
Head to the Farmer's Market and pick out your dinner. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

Picasso night
Make a work of art for the house

Paint your own pottery
Check out a local shop and paint something for the house

Paint each other’s portrait

Go see a local band

Cook an exotic meal or cook something we have always wanted to try.

Take a cooking class

Take a dance class
Swing, salsa, ballroom - just get up and get moving!

Nerf gun war anyone?
One person starts at the back door and the other at the front - game on!

Arcade fun
Head to the arcade and play a game of laser tag, ride go-carts, and eat pizza 

Around the world in meals
Cook food from a country of choice and set the mood

Go play BINGO

Go wine tasting
and buy a bottle of your favorite!

Go rock climbing

Ripley’s Believe It or Not
They are wicked fun!

Go tubing down the river

Go shopping together
I can hear all the men going "NOOOOOOO!" but there are ways to make it fun! Go pick out outfits for each other to wear out to dinner or another event. Or maybe go find something for the house together.

Check out the local museum

Find a local fair, carnival, or festival
Ride the Ferris wheel and eat all the yummy food

Head to the zoo

Ice skating
Find a local ice skating rink and drink some hot chocolate!

Rent a tandem bike or scooters and hit the park.


Check out a kick-boxing class.
Get in a great work out and spend time doing something fun together - who can ask for anything more!!

Head to the aquarium or go deep sea fishing

You-pick dinner
Let your partner pick out your entire meal and you order theirs! If you have a cool waiter, maybe you can tell them what's going on and point to the items. That way it would be a total surprise what is brought out.

Make home-made ice cream

 


Under $100


White water rafting

Get a 60 minute couples massage
Check out
Groupon and Living Social for deals!

Food crawl
Eat your appetizer, entree, and dessert at different restaurants (don’t forget to leave a great tip if you have a great server!)

Go get a pedicure

Go get a facial

Rent a canoe or kayak and head down stream

Go horseback riding

Go play paintball

Not up for horseback riding? What about a carriage ride?!

Scuba diving
If you live near the coast, why not go scuba diving?


Go on a Segway Tour
What a great way to check out a city!

Hot summer day? Head to the water park!



Over $100

Spend the night at a Bed and BreakfastGroupon and Living Social sometimes have great deals!

Dinner at a fancy restaurant
Try
Ruth Chris, Melting Pot, or something local of that nature. Don't forget to get all dolled up!

Stay the night at a nice hotel

Head out of town for a weekend get away

Get tickets to see your favorite band

Check out a pro-team game

Skydiving!

Nothing says out-of-this-world date night like thowing your body out of a plane! ;)

Bungee jumping

Take a dinner cruise on the lake

Go for a ride in a hot air balloon
Do a quick search for locations near you or check this site out.


Cruise
If you live near a cruise port, sometimes you can find great deals on
weekend cruises!

Limo lovin’
Rent a limo for a few hours and ask the driver to just drive around. Bring some champagne, dress up real nice and enjoy!

Take a helicopter ride!

Go swimming with dolphins

Head out to an amusement park
Ride all the rides and eat all the yummy food. Maybe take a photo with one of the park's characters!?






Up in the Air (price depending...) 
Recreate your first date or the night you got engagedHow romantic?

Camping
Price depending on your level of experience and access to equipment. Don’t forget to turn off your electronics and really enjoy nature

Pinterest craft night!
Find a craft you both like/want to do and make it together

Learn together
Check out a local college and see if there is a one night class/session you'd both like to take together

Secret Agent Love
You HAVE to check this out! It's a great gift idea too!!

Pretend to be tourist
Do the things only tourists do in your town. It'll give you a new appreciation for where you live!

Photoshoot
Hire a photographer and update your photos! Keep them up-to-date and print them off! Find one locally here or here! Or you can message me on FB and I can find someone great for you!





Have more!? Comment below and I will add them on!

Don't forget to follow me!
And please "like" me ;)




**Please note these are suggestions and estimated prices. Obviously prices vary in different areas.**

Thursday, October 4, 2012

speaking out against bullying... from a former mean girl


My bestie posted on her blog about October is Bully Prevention Month. She was a victim of bullying, as you can read here.
It got me thinking about bullying… when I was in middle school and high school, I didn’t bear witness to a ton of bullying. Very little, if at all. Maybe it was the people I surrounded myself with or the school I went to, I’m not sure. I read all these horrible stories about bullying and think to myself, “wow. I didn’t know that it was that bad…”
I had no idea.
Ignorance is bliss…
Well, I am stepping forward to say this – when I was in elementary school – I was a bully.
Not in the “normal” sense though. I bullied MY FRIENDS. My very best friends to be exact. I was much nicer to the underdogs, outcasts, loners, and “losers” than I was to my own friends. If there was a new kid, I always introduced myself and tried to make them feel less alone. If I saw someone standing/hanging out by themselves, I would go up to them and try and get them to join my group. If my friends made fun of someone, I was the one that told them to knock it off and that it was mean.
The irony.
Oh but MY friends? If they said something stupid, I would elbow them in the stomach. Yes – you read that right. I would elbow them. I would tell them they were fat or tell them to shut up because they sounded stupid. I would say they couldn’t hang out with me and my friends because I didn’t like something about them (clothes, appearance, etc). I even made a comment about a friend’s glasses. The comment was truly not meant to be rude, I made a comment about the shape of them not that she was wearing them or looked funny, but still – it hurt her feelings. I had no problem “putting people in their place.”
You're thinking, "gah, how did she have friends?!" aren't you? It's ok... I wonder the same thing myself.
I was a bully. I was a mean girl. I was everything I can’t stand, no, everything I hate now.
I don’t know why I was so mean but it wasn’t until after my dad’s death that I seemed to mellow out. I started pushing people away just to see if they would fight to stay. Being popular wasn’t important anymore. Being happy and having good friends was.
You may be thinking I am a hypocrite for writing this post but I lived through bullying as a bully. I am more attached to this epidemic than most and I was one of the fortunate to snap out of the habit by middle school. Who knows what kind of pain I could have inflicted if I would not have changed. It is never too late.
My husband, was on the receiving end of the bullying. He is a beautiful, quiet soul, and some jerks back in school didn’t appreciate that. He is now a strong, smart, and damn-fine looking man. He has bounced back from a life changing injury and he works everyday to better himself. He didn’t let the bullies get the best of him and ruin the rest of his life. He was able to rise about it and shine through it all. He is a survivor. He is proof that life does get better after school.
I am no longer friends with any of the girls I knew in elementary school, and for good reason. When I see them out and about or on Facebook, I can’t help but think about how much I missed out on. The beauty of whom they have become and a friendship I killed. I have even had some of these girls tell me that what I said or did still affects them and it hurts my heart. I am not the same person and I am so sorry.
Am I perfect? Gosh no. Do I still say or do mean things? Yes - I am human. But I try everyday to be a positive addition to society and to the people around me. I try to be kind and sweet. I try to be polite and not condescending.  I try to be understanding and considerate. I try to not judge. I am trying. I think that if each of us at least tried to be good, the world would be a much better place.



If I bullied you, I am so sorry. I never want to cause someone emotional and mental pain. If what I said or did to you has haunted you to this day, I am sorry. I am not that mean little girl I was 14 years ago and I would do anything to rectify the situation.
I am a former mean girl.
I am not a bully.
It is my prayer, that when we have children, Vincent and I will be able to use our past as a lesson and will be able to prevent our children from being bullied or becoming bullies.
Those bullied - don't ever think that you are weak for stepping forward. Know that you are not alone and that someone out there loves you and will help you get through it. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, contact the CyberBully helpline or School Violence Helpline. You can also message me, I am here for you.

 And bullies - don't think that what you say or do is just "for fun" or you were "just playing around." You should never play around with people’s emotions. Your words carry more weight than you can ever imagine and you cannot take back harsh words once they are spoken. If you need some help or someone to talk to, you can talk to me too. I am here for you too.

Check out these stories -  you will see you aren't alone.