Exactly three years ago, our family shared some very special news: that we were expecting our first child, a baby girl born in January of 2015. Now, at age two and a half, Alexandra August has some big changes coming up in her future… Ryan and I are expecting our second child! Alexandra will be Big Sister to a little mister! Baby BOY Wiese is due in February 2018.
After nine years of married life, my husband and I have evolved into gifting each other more practical, useful gifts for the holidays. Case in point: we recently celebrated a wedding anniversary and our gift to each other was a new vacuum. –Seriously. It was a really nice hi-tech vacuum, but a household cleaning device nonetheless. We figure, we have everything we need and buy ourselves what we want –within reason and many times after each other’s counsel. Now, for milestone birthdays & anniversaries, we favor the gift of experiences: i.e. international travel, concerts, weekend staycations, etc. But especially since becoming parents, for those “greeting card holidays” like Valentine’s Day & Mother’s/Father’s Day, we appreciate unique everyday gifts that are consumable and practical. For starters, he’s asked for a tub of Tacodeli’s “Dona” sauce (now available at Whole Foods Market!) and it’s already in the fridge waiting for him. Here are some other ideas:
For the Clean Freak Dad: Caffeinated soap. DirtyBird Energy is dedicated to creating products to help productivity for active, busy lifestyles. Whether it is at the office, during a workout, or raising children, they want to help everyone be at their best and most productive. Each DirtyBird Energy Bar is infused with ingredients to help achieve this goal.—The Energy Soap bars are infused with caffeine and peppermint oil to energize the body and mind. Scientific studies show caffeine absorbs through pores and hair follicles, which will energize the body even before your first cup of coffee in the morning.
—The Relax Soap bars are infused with lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and ylang ylang essential oils. Each of these oils absorbs to relax the body and mind as well as soothe the skin. An evening shower with Relax helps to promote a restful sleep allowing him to wake up refreshed & ready for the day ahead.
And the soap isn’t the only thing that’s special! Each soap comes packaged in a patented reusable container that snaps shut and allows Dad to take his soap anywhere (the gym, camping, vacation, etc.) or use it to keep other goodies in. And DirtyBird Energy is proudly made in the U.S.A. — another plus! DirtyBird Energy Soaps are available in singles, a 2-pack variety, 6 packs or in a monthly subscription, delivered right to his doorstep every month.
For the Traveling Dad: Alkaline water. With summer around the corner, the whole family will be drinking a lot more water. These alkalizing sachets by Coral LLC help raise the pH of his drinking water, buffer chlorine, and add Vitamin C & antioxidants by way of ionic trace minerals. This is a great thing to pack in his backpack during summer travel — useful for weekend camping trips and international excursions alike (both places where the tap water can be suspect!)I especially love their portability — perfect for amping up water fountain tap water when refilling your reusable water bottle. Whether at home or on the go, the convenient mineral sachets can easily transform ordinary water—bottled or treated—into a boosted beverage that may help support optimal energy and hydration. Alkalized water has also been known to help the body maintain a healthy pH balance, hydration level, and metabolism, as well as support natural detoxification.
For the Dad Who Does It All: Spirulina supplements. ENERGYbits spirulina tablets fire up your thinking, improve your alertness and protect your brain health all WITHOUT caffeine, chemicals, sugar or gluten. After his big day, RECOVERYbits step in by speeding muscle recovery. These supplements are a 1-2 punch that will improve everything Dad does, from his golf game to his career. He’ll love how razor-sharp his thinking gets with ENERGYbits and it’s all thanks to their high concentration of healthy fatty acids, plant-protein, chlorophyll and B vitamins, with no caffeine, chemicals or sugar. These tiny little algae tablets are the healthiest way for everyone to focus better, recover quick, and work smarter not harder. Show your dad (and yourself) some love this Father’s Day and feed your brain with bits. One size fits all!
Hint: it’s not flowers. It’s not chocolates. It’s not a store-bought greeting card. Many moms are over-scheduled, burdened by the day-to-day routine, and weary wearing the hat of caregiver for the whole family. We mamas keep this ship afloat, fo’ real. While we manage it all and love doing it, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming being everything to everyone. Sure, our hearts melt at a hand-crafted creation made with love from the littles but Dadas, consider breaking from the traditional gifts this Mother’s Day:
–What service would provide a momentary vacation from her daily responsibilities at home?
–What hobby did she enjoy pre-kids but is kinda missing out on these days?
–What is a luxury she could use & enjoy but just simply would not buy for herself?
Yes, her heart is bursting with love for your family, but what about the refreshing power of time for herself? –Self-care isn’t selfish! A long brunch with the girls, a week of dinners delivered-in, a surprise mani-pedi appt. — these are just a few thought starters. It doesn’t even have to be fancy or expensive…a drawn bubble bath or a morning to sleep-in goes a long way. I’ve rounded up a couple more ideas below:
A Toast: Breakfast in bed is certainly a treat, but a glass of rose’ is even better! Pour, serve, and cheers to her. After the kids go down to bed, escort her out to the back patio…think about & share a few words about what she means to the family or what you love about her as a mom. Perfect for sunset-watching and porch-rocking, these new canned wines are portable, safe around the pool, and easy to pair with even the most casual of meals from the grill. The Chicago-based Backpack debuted in September and is available in two blend varieties, Cheek Rose’ and Snappy White, in four-can packs. Backpack Wine offers a unique combo of great-tasting, quality wine in an approachable, rebellious and fresh manner.
Adults-only: Ok, family time is the BEST but we all could use a little adult-interaction from time to time. –We need to talk predictions for Game of Throne’s last season with people who are actually allowed to watch the show! Child-care cards from Toybrary hold a $25 value, which can go toward daytime drop-in care during the week or Parents Night Out on Saturday evenings. Date-night? Summer blockbuster on the big screen? Appt. at the blow-dry bar? –The gift of a child-free excursion is up to her! Whether she’s thinking a couple’s candlelit dinner or lunch with the ladies, these gift cards are little tokens of your support toward her independence. Might just give her the push she needs to get out there and reconnect with an old friend or try that new restaurant in town.
In my last post, I shared how I’ve been learning to set a regular date-night for my marriage and to keep it a priority. However, instead of the usual dinner & movie, I’m really digging the idea of 1.) day-dates vs. date-night and 2.) planning active & fun excursions to keep things fresh. I plan to begin cultivating ideas & places to check out and will post ’em here! Our first foray in achieving this type of couple’s activity was at iFLY Austin. Home to our city’s only indoor skydiving tunnel, this place is legit. So legit, in fact, that when we arrived for our mid-morning “flight,” the freaking ARMY was training there. Legit soldiers were in full gear practicing for when they’ll have to jump out of planes to keep America safe. Understandably, they wouldn’t allow me to take pics. Seeing a few minutes of their training was an honor.
Once they moved out, it was time for the recreational side of indoor skydiving to begin. My group was instructed to suit-up, remove all jewelry, and find a locker for your wallets & phone. Then, we attended a short & casual training class to prepare us for the experience. Our flight instructor informed us that we’d be communicating with him via hand signals and the most important rule is to RELAX. –I can certainly try & do more of that, right?!Then, we were ready to fly! Neither of us have gone skydiving before so it was our first experience with anything like this. –SO hilarious to see each other’s reactions! With the basic level ticket price, you get two flights. For the second round, we chose to upgrade a bit…the instructor takes you on spins and way up high to the top of the tunnel. This way, even though you’re a beginner, you still get to experiment with trying some tricks!
It was an unexpected adrenaline rush that left us energized for the week. So, if you’re like me and feel like you & partner’s typical date-nights are in a bit of a rut, definitely give indoor skydiving a try. It’s the “something different” you’ve been looking for, trust me! They’re open until 9 or 10 p.m. most nights, so it can really fit into any schedule. Safe to say, we definitely bought ourselves return flights before we left. Thanks to iFLY for a truly unique day-date experience — we’ll be back!
Two years into this whole parenthood thing, I’m just getting used to the concept of “date-night.” When you’re married & childless, any occasion, day-or-night, can be turned into a “date”…heck, your whole life outside of work is one big date! And score! –each dinner out, movie, concert, whatever all result in getting to take your hottie home at the end of the night. Young married life is pretty freakin’ great. International travel. An MBA. Spontaneous weekend getaways. Fancy meals at hot new restaurants. I look back on that stage fulfilled to have gotten so much time together, just as husband and wife.
Then comes baby in a baby carriage! #Blessed, but married life as you know it won’t be the same for at least 20+ years. I’ve talked about Fearless Mom before but just as a quick refresh, it’s a moms lecture series with small group breakouts that meets weekly on Wed. mornings. It’s a ministry of Lake Hills Church here in Austin and it’s been a place of comfort, learning, and camaraderie for me as a mom. I’ve absorbed so much parenting truth. Things like:
- Marriage: how the parenting pendulum swings between wife and mom
- 20/20 Parenting: discipline for the next 20 years, rather than the next 20 mins
- Mom Guilt: be aware and intentional with your thoughts – YOU are enough
- Social Media: Wherever you are, be all there. #putdownthephone
All. of. this. Seriously, I’ve loved it so much! If you’re not in Austin, you can follow along at home. Anyway, one of the lessons of the past couple sessions has been to set a date night and keep it regularly. –But it’s hard, y’all! Here are the reasons why we’ve never been able to keep a regular weekly date night:
- Babysitters are expensive. No lie, I had a professional nanny who babysits on her off hours quote me “$15-$17/hr. for one child under the age of 5.” –Ugh, our ‘one child under the age of 5’ goes to bed by 7:30. The sitter may be super-qualified, but I just can’t allow myself to pay someone $17/hr. to sit at the house while my little one sleeps. I need to find some good minimum wage-level high schoolers in the neighborhood, for real.
- Movies are pricey, too. Many of the cinemas around where we live are these new luxury-style set-ups where you choose an assigned seat in a comfy leather armchair and have servers wait on you throughout the show. Plus, all those bigger recliners with tables and wide aisles for food service = less space available in each theatre. Anytime we get an itch to go to the movies on a whim, it’s like NO –tickets sold out a week ago.
- I’m tired, honey. Frankly, I’m tired all the time. But I’m especially sleepy after like 9 p.m. And honestly, on a Friday night with a glass of red wine in his system, so is the husband…I’ll catch him crashed out on the couch by 9:30 at night. Also, no one enjoys looking down at their watch during a date. If I do happen to get a second wind and want to party ’til midnight, the child’s still waking up at the same early bird hour that she always does the next day. Um, where are the babysitters for the morning after?
But still, the notion of prioritizing your marriage during parenthood remains so important. At Fearless Mom, I’ve heard it put like this: Connect daily. Date weekly. Retreat annually. So, dating doesn’t need to happen at night, right? Here are some alternative date-night periods where we’ve carved in some couple-time:
- During Preschool: Our little one goes to a half-day program twice a week at the local church. They call it Preschool, but it’s more of a Mother’s Day Out. It’s rare, but if the hubs is open for lunch, I’ll throw out the idea of a lunch-date…he loves to eat out, so it’s not a hard sell. Sometimes we’ll drive to the East side to check out the latest buzzed about restaurant that just opened. But really, any meal out that we can eat together, hot & uninterrupted, is “date” enough for us!
- When the Grandparents are Around: Whether they’re visiting us or if we’re home for the holidays, we try to find an opportunity to sneak off for a moment to ourselves. Just get in the car and find something to do outside the realm of parenthood! Usually, it’s just us going see a movie or grab a drink with a friend. BUT If you can get Grandma to sign-off for the overnight shift, this is an ideal chance for a one-night staycation at a hotel. It’s amazing with the illusion of a real vacation can do for tired parents’ souls.
- Daytime: This is our key window! I’m all about the day-dates vs. date-night. Saturday mid-day is a great time for your weekly date. Babysitters are less likely to be booked up, and the littles are awake & energetic so they’ll be earning that hourly rate 😉 Plus, there are opportunities for fun, active, outdoorsy dates. Something to spice-up that married dating game besides the usual dinner & a movie, ya know? We recently went on an indoor skydiving day-date that I can’t wait to tell y’all more about. Blog post on our experience at iFLY coming soon!