When In Napa

Jake and I have been dreaming about a trip out to wine country for years. Then I was pregnant for a good four years straight. No one wants to be preggo in Napa. So this year, we finally made it happen. We both turned 30, so it seemed like the perfect reason to get away. That, and we NEEDED time together. We can so easily slip into roommate mode if we don’t spend intentional time without the kids, so we try to take a trip just the two of us every six months or so, just to remind ourselves that we really do like each other, despite how crazy life is with four littles!

When we started thinking about where we wanted to go in wine country, I immediately thought of my friend, Emily, who has lived out there with her husband, Cody, for the last five years. (You can follow her awesome life on Instagram: @egrasmussen.) I reached out to her and asked which spots she’d recommend. She went above and beyond, and created a day by day itinerary for us, complete with reservations at some of the best wineries and restaurants in the area. We didn’t have to think about a THING, except showing up and sipping on wine. Perfection.

Where We Went

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We flew into San Francisco on a Wednesday, and stayed there for a night to check out the city. We’d never been, so we did all the touristy things, like riding a cable car, going down to Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate bridge. We stayed at Parc 55 which was beautiful, and right in the heart of downtown San Fran, a quick walk to shopping and awesome restaurants. I LOVED San Fran, and would totally go back for a weekend getaway there and check it out more.

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We grabbed lunch when we got into town at Bartlett Hall, just a few blocks from our hotel, and this pineapple cider was one of the best things I’ve ever had! The salmon salad was incredible too. IMG_9364

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We took the cable car from our hotel to Fisherman’s Wharf and had dinner at Scoma’s, which was like taking a step back in time, since they had their what seemed like their original decor, yet it was still super classy. I had something off their market fresh selection, which I thought was a no-brainer, because you actually see the shack where they clean the fish straight from the sea on the way in!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

On Thursday morning, we woke up, got a solid workout in, had a delicious breakfast at the hotel (the buffet was INCREDIBLE), and got in our rental car to drive out to Napa.

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Our first appointment was at 11am at Domaine Carneros. Based in the Carneros wine region, Domaine Carneros specializes in sparkling wines made in the traditional traditional méthode champenoise. Their stunning 18th century château-style building, completed in 1989, was architecturally inspired by the historic Château de la Marquetterie owned by Champagne Taittinger in Riems, France. It was drop dead GORGEOUS, by far the most beautiful building we visited during our trip. We went on the Art of Sparkling Wine tour which is available daily at 11am, 1pm, 3pm daily. I liked starting there in the morning, I thought it was a perfect way to start the day before getting to the red wines. They also have a program called the Sparkling Suite which we’ve heard is one of the most romantic experiences in wine country. I think we’ll have to check that out next time we’re in the area.

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Our tour guide, Neil, was incredibly knowledgeable and showed us the entire process of how the wine was made. I think this was my favorite tour, since they really went in depth about the entire process. I learned a lot!

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After that we headed to Pride Winery, which was recommended to us by one of the doctors Jake works with. Wow, this place was GORGEOUS. It was a super windy trip up to the top of the mountain where this winery sits, and it was well worth the adventure.

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This was taken in a private wine room that’s hosted several celebrities. Absolutely beautiful.

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Everything about Pride was spectacular. If I had to choose some highlights, it would be the wine (so good and served at top steakhouses across the U.S.), the amazing caves we got to walk through which store their wine between 50 – 60 degrees, and our tour guide, Jay. He’s been working there for 7 years, and is actually one of their newest employees. Pride employees are like family, and it’s a very desirable place to work. Jay was INCREDIBLY knowledgeable, and had a personality that made the tour a lot of fun. If you head there, be sure to ask for Jay!

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After Pride we headed to Napa to find our hotel. Jake travels quite a bit for work, so he had lots of Hilton Honors points which helps us greatly to be able to make trips together happen frequently. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Napa, which to be honest, was one of the prettiest hotels I’ve ever stayed at, and we’ve stayed at some pretty stellar hotels. I know there are lots of ritzy places to stay in wine country, but we will definitely be going back here again.

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On Thursday night, we went to downtown Napa and watched NFL draft at a sports bar before heading to Ristorante Allegria, and devoured some pasta. We didn’t eat enough that day, and needed to carb load a little. 😉

Friday, April 29th, 2016

On Friday morning, we woke up, worked out at the hotel, and ate a quick light breakfast. Then we headed into downtown Yountville, which is seriously the cutest place EVER. Emily suggested Bouchon Bakery, which I’m forever grateful for. The pastries were amazing, along with the coffee. We ended up going back a second time before we left because it was that good. If you go and see a line, don’t let that scare you off. It moves quickly, and is WELL worth the wait.

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After that we met Emily at Merryvale Winery. The family-owned St. Helena winery is one of the most historic and significant wineries located in the Napa Valley. As the first winery built in the valley after Prohibition, it has some amazing historical features, like the cask room, where our private tasting took place INSIDE a giant tank where they stored wine back in the day.

Our favorite wine here was called Profile whose label shows the profiles of the proprietors, Rene and Laurence Schlatter.

When we were at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse last weekend, we noticed they offer Merryvale cabernet on their wine list. I highly recommend it next time you’re there!

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We also stopped by one of Merryvale’s sister property the day before, called Starmont Vineyard & Winery which was a more laid back atmosphere that even has a kids and pets eat free program which I thought was really unique!

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After Merryvale, Emily took us to lunch at Farmstead which was incredible. It was all farm fresh organic, and all the food is made on their ranch right there in wine country. I highly recommend going there when you’re in the area!

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On Friday night, we ate at Glen Ellen Star, and it’s a good thing Emily called and got us a reservation ahead of time or we wouldn’t have gotten in. This restaurant was the most adorable thing, with a rustic contemporary feel, and food that I never wanted to end.

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These brussel sprouts and this bread. Swoon.

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It just so happened to be Emily’s birthday that day, so we she and Cody had a reservation the same night, so we got to see them in passing as we left. They’re good friends with the kitchen staff. 😉

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Saturday, April 30th, 2016 (JAKE’S 30th BIRTHDAY!) 

On Saturday morning we got a workout in at the hotel, and headed out to Sonoma for the day! We landed at the Sonoma Plaza. It was an adorable area where you can walk (key word) from tasting room to tasting room trying out the best wines in the country. We started at Pangloss Cellars and loved our tasting so much that we brought home a bunch of bottles to enjoy later.

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Then we headed over to lunch at Girl + the Fig. Again, such a good choice by Emily. Definitely recommend a reservation at this one too!

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After that we walked around and shopped a bit, popped into a couple other tasting rooms, and headed back to the hotel to freshen up. We opted to take an Uber to dinner and ended up over at Redd Wood, then got a ride back and shared a bottle of the wine we purchased at Pride Winery outside by one of the many fire pits our hotel had.

Sunday May 1st, 2016

This was our last and final day in Napa. We started the day at Bouchon Bakery again, and before we headed back to San Fran, we stopped at Sterling Winery & Vineyard. The highlight was taking a gondola ride to the top of the mountain where the tour was. This tour was unlike any of the other tours because it was a HUGE place. The scenery was gorgeous, but I don’t know that we’d go back again. We tend to prefer a smaller more intimate experience!

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We drove back to San Fran, flew to Omaha, then drove up to my parent’s farm where our kids stayed. We rolled in around 2am, and peaked in at our sleeping angels. It was amazing to have a weekend away, but just as amazing to be back with our sweeties again!

If you head out to the area, please let me know your favorite spots! We’re already dreaming about our next trip out there, and would love any and all recommendations you have!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

For business tips, you can follow me at Amber Kuiper Inc. on Facebook and @amberkuiperinc on Instagram!

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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I’m Not Settling For Normal Married Life With Kids

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Last weekend Jake and I were driving into the city for date night. Whenever we have a spare moment alone, we find ourselves talking about how WEIRD it feels to not be around our kids. This usually results in us reminiscing about what life was like before kids.

We were married for about three years before we got pregnant with our first baby. At the time, we thought we were SO BUSY. And I suppose we were. We both worked full time jobs which we poured our hearts and souls into. It certainly felt busy. But hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? I mean, after all, at the end of our work days, we went home to a QUIET house. To take a NAP if we wanted. To meet at HAPPY HOUR if we wanted. To EAT whenever we wanted. To have SEX whenever we wanted. To SLEEP for as many consecutive hours as we wanted. And the list goes on and on.

Back then, I NEVER saw those things as anything out of the ordinary. In fact, back then I wish I could have seen into the future a bit so we would have lived it up a little more.

I sometimes wonder when it all happened. When did my life literally become this thing that I barely recognize anymore? I mean, yes, having a newborn ROCKED my world, but then toddlerhood happened, then another kid, and another kid, and yet ANOTHER kid, and somewhere in there our controlled environment and flirty marriage died a slow death.

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When I’m in the midst of life these days, I often find myself wishing for just ONE of our “pre kid” luxuries. Even a FEW seconds of serenity would do the trick. Give me a trip to the bathroom by myself and I’ll feel like a new woman. Give me 10 seconds to passionately kiss my man without a kid vying for my attention. Let me eat my food while it’s WARM or let me have enough energy at the end of the day to put on something sexy. PLEASE, can they just let me be ME for a minute?

Because I’m pretty sure that amongst the potty accidents, and tantrums, and sleepless nights and runny noses and dirty floors, that I often forget who I am anymore. Is this really my life? When did CHAOS become my norm?

Will life ever be as smooth again as it seemed before kids? Will we be able to salvage our marriage after we make it through this all?

And often it takes me asking those brutally honest questions before I reach a point in my mind when I have HOPE. I have hope because the truth is, we ARE ENDURING this together. It’s not easy. We are being hard-pressed on every side. Some days we down right can’t stand each other. Some days our only communication involves changing dirty diapers. Yet we always end up getting back on the same page. We always FIGHT for each other, because we KNOW that the truth is that we are BLESSED to have these struggles.

We’re blessed to have these little people who call us Mommy and Daddy. We’re blessed to go home to a noisy house, to eat cold dinners and get touched by sticky fingers, to get woken up in the night because they want to snuggle or they’re scared of the dark.

We’re BLESSED by the chaos. We’re blessed to bicker and fight and figure this out together. Because if you’re willing to fight for something through the good times and the parenthood times, you know that deep down, you’ve still got the spark.

And so tonight, friends, I’m sending some extra feistiness your way. Fight the good fight and reminisce about the good old days. Think about what it was that got you all hot and bothered when you met your husband, and go give him some extra lovin’ when he least expects it.

I may be drinking some extra coffee at 7pm, but gosh darn it, I’m going to rally even when I’m exhausted because my man is WORTH it. Is yours?

Cheers!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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5 Tips For Moms Who Have A Husband That Travels

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This morning was nuts. My husband is in sales and covers four states. This means he spends a lot of time on the road. Today he left at 5am, like he does many mornings. I especially dread Tuesday and Thursday mornings when he’s gone because I have to get my oldest to preschool. That means the pressure is on to get everybody up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 8am by myself. You working mommas have this all figured out, I know. Have I mentioned you’re my heroes? But for a stay-at-home mom like me who’s used to keeping my kids in their pajamas for half the day, getting out the door looking presentable at that hour feels a lot like climbing Mount Everest.

Today no one was on my side. My preschooler had no interest in getting his clothes on. Nope, he just wanted my phone so he could sit on the couch and watch Transformers. And he wanted milk. And a blanket because his feet were cold. One of my twin girls was standing in front of the freezer wanting ice cream for breakfast. Since WHEN do we eat ice cream for breakfast?! Apparently on a day when I just needed her to cooperate and be okay with a waffle. A few minutes later, my other twin girl came yelling down the stairs for her sister. “Emmy! Emmy! You downstairs? You wanna play with me?” “Yeah, Mack, I play with you!” And off they went to play. Sigh. Whatever, I’ll get the boys ready first then chase down the girls. We’ll have breakfast in the car.

I ran upstairs to get my baby boy out of his crib so I could get his clothes on. “Good morning, Case Buddy! Can Mommy get your clothes on?!” He takes off waddle running in the opposite direction. “I’m gonna get you!” He loves that game. And I love his giggles when I final catch him. Fresh diaper on, clothes, and milk for his sippy. He’s happy.

Okay, deep breath. One down, three to go.

After several battles, they were dressed. Then came coats, boots, and hats, and frozen waffles to go, and we were out the door. Only 25 minutes late to school. We’re always that family.

Whoops, forgot Baylen’s blanket for rest time. I buzzed back home to get that and dropped it off.

By 9am I felt like I conquered the world! Or at least attempted.

I don’t love it that Jake travels. In fact, this morning I was fairly bitter about the whole situation and was swearing under my breath.

But there’s actually been some good that’s come out of it. When he’s gone, I learn just how strong I can be. I do things by myself now that I NEVER would have thought I was capable of when I was a new mom. I remember the first time he traveled when I had one baby. I cried. A LOT. Thinking about doing bath time and bed time and the entire overnight by myself overwhelmed me. But then I did it! He’s was gone for a five day stretch every month and we always made it through.

Then we had twins and he accepted a new job and was required to be gone for training for three months that summer. He was back for most weekends, thankfully. I was on my own a lot. But yet I found a way to get through it. I was forced to lean on the community of moms around me, and I learned to be a more relaxed parent because there was simply no way I could keep everything together.

These days, Jake’s gone one or two nights a week. His schedule is always different, and I think that’s the hardest part. He’s in surgical sales and can get called to help out in a surgery at any point and our schedule changes like that. It’s one thing if I can prepare for him to be gone, but when it’s unexpected, that’s when I almost lose my mind.

But yet, even then, I always find a way to get through it. We always reach the other side. I wouldn’t say it ever gets easier to say goodbye, but it’s definitely become more normal. I’ve learned that on the nights Jake’s gone I just have to keep things simple. I might order food in, or decide to skip baths or let them have a little more screen time, or sometimes I even let them sleep with me because I don’t have the capacity to fight bedtime by myself.

And then other times when he’s gone and things are going fairly well I feel like SUPERmom if I CAN get everything done so I’ll challenge myself to do everything like normal. BEST feeling in the world knowing I was strong enough that day!

I hope a day comes when he doesn’t have to travel as much, but for now it’s part of our story, and we’re gonna make the most of it. The important thing is Jake loves what he does. And we all know that having a husband who loves his job is worth SO much.

Plus, it really does make the time we get together that much sweeter.

For any of you who have traveling husbands, here are some tips I’ve learned over the last few years.

1. When your husband gets home, take the time to give him a REAL kiss when he walks in the door before just handing him the baby. Even though it feels like a relief to have him home, treat him like more than an extra set of hands.

2. Thank him for all he does for your family! Because even though you’re exhausted from being with the kids by yourself, and might be jealous that he got to have quiet dinners and a full night’s sleep in a hotel room, he was also working hard and deserves to feel appreciated!

3. Text him when he’s gone, and not just pictures of the adorable things your kids are doing. He loves those, but he also loves YOU, and wants to know that you’re thinking of him! Tell him you love him and can’t wait to have an at home date night when he gets home!

4. Talk about the great things that happened when he was gone! Tell him how you were able to go to the store by yourself! Or how you and the kids played games or read books. It’s totally okay to share frustrations as well, but try not to focus on those too much or he’ll feel even more guilty for needing to be gone.

5. Surprise him with a sexy night. I know, I know, sometimes (okay, usually) this isn’t my natural reaction. Honestly, by the time Jake gets home the last thing I want to do is have sex. I’m TIRED. But reminding him that he’s your man is SO important! For me sex is a lot like working out. I don’t always want to do it, but afterward I’m SO glad I did. So put the kids to bed, shower, and do your hair and make-up. Put on something sexy and pursue him! Show him just how glad you are that he’s home!

Keeping a marriage alive when you have little kids is a lot of work, especially with a husband who travels. We don’t have it figured out by any means, but I’m telling you, on the weeks when we make the effort to connect on all levels, our crazy life just works.

And above all, remember that you are enough. You are always enough. So walk confidently knowing that you have what it takes to get through thick and thin. You are stronger than you think!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

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What Raising A Boy Is Teaching Me About Loving My Husband

IMG_1540Two and a half years ago I had my first baby. My sweet boy quickly became my world. He consumed my time and filled almost every thought. That tiny babe was so sweet and perfect and handsome and every time I looked at him I couldn’t believe that I was chosen to be his mommy. I was the one who got to attend to his every need. He depended on me for everything and I LOVED IT.

That baby has now grown into a spunky little boy who is curious and busy and discovering that it’s a lot of fun to be independent. He now wants to climb in the car and buckle himself in, and yells “No mommy!” when I try to help him. He wants to peel his own bananas and unwrap his own suckers. And heaven forbid if I put the sticker on his potty chart. “Stop it! I do it, momma!”

During those moments it hits me that he’s growing up, and that this precious time I have with him is fleeting. But just when I want to go cry in a corner, I hear his voice desperately yell, “HELP! HELP! HELP!” and my sappiness subsides because I’ve been reminded that he’s only two and will actually still need me for quite some time.

And then there are the times I wish he’d grow up just a little quicker. The other day it had been a bear of a morning. He was acting like a typical two year old, stealing toys from his sisters, throwing a tantrum when I asked him to finish his breakfast, chasing the dog with the vacuum, and peeing all over my patio basil plant which I’d been planning to make pesto with that night. He’d put in a full day’s work by 10am. I was frustrated and my patience had worn thin. After he calmed down a bit, I took him upstairs to our room and set him up with a video so I could have a few minutes to salvage my disastrous house [and my sanity].

A few minutes later I went back to check on him, and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. There he was, sitting on the bed squeezing his teddy bear with a look of complete innocence in his eyes. I don’t think there are many things sweeter than seeing a little boy with his teddy. It’s an instant reminder that while they are “all boy” and perfectly rambunctious, determined, and strong-willed, they also have a tender heart that needs to be protected and longs to be loved. When I saw a glimpse of into son’s little heart that morning, all I could do was scoop him up, give him a big hug, kiss him, and tell him how much I love him.

I held him close and thought about how I don’t want a moment of his life to go by without him feeling unconditionally loved. No matter how he acts or what he goes through, I want his heart to be taken care of.

My mind often thinks forward to his future and the fact that I won’t always be the only woman in his life. Someday I’ll entrust that responsibility to a girl who will become his forever love.

In that moment, as I held my sweet boy close, I thought of my husband, who was once a little boy like him. I thought about how he too, started out hugging teddy bears. I thought about his heart, now as a grown man, and how it still needs to be loved and protected. Then I thought about how real life has its grip on him. I thought about him gearing up to go out into the big world day after day, so he can provide for our family. I thought about him having difficult conversations and navigating through intense meetings. I thought about the constant pressure he faces to perform and achieve and how he’s required to beam confidence through it all. But yet at the end of the day, underneath it all there’s still a tender heart yearning to be taken care of.IMG_0397I want home to be a place of refuge for my dear husband. When we see each other after a long day, instead of habitually greeting him by passing off a crabby kid, I need to remember to really take time to look into his eyes and tell him how grateful I am for him and what a great job he does taking care of us. When he’s stressed after a long day, I need to remember that he’s worked just as hard as I have and needs a break too. When he does something that annoys me to the core, I need to respond with patience. When we have arguments, I need to set my pride aside so I can understand where he’s coming from. And even though I’m exhausted most of the time from chasing around the kids, I need to pursue him frequently and prioritize intimacy.

More than anything, I want to remember that I’ve been entrusted with his grown up boy’s heart. I’m the one who gets to see him when he’s vulnerable. I’m the one who needs to recognize those moments, stop in my tracks, hold him close, kiss him, and tell him how much he’s loved.

I get to be the one. I’m his forever love, and as we grow old together, I don’t want a moment of his life to go by without him feeling unconditionally loved.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow us along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Why We Take Babymoons

Before we had our first baby, Jake and I decided to take a babymoon. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s a vacation that parents-to-be take before the baby is born. At the time, it just sounded like a fun idea, since obviously we had NO clue what we were in for. That trip ended up being amazing in so many ways. It seemed that we had been so busy preparing for the baby that even then we had started to take the focus off of our marriage and onto our sweet baby boy. Having a week to lay in the sun, forget about work, nursery decorating, and all other normal responsibilities gave us time to connect, talk, and just be us. We returned refreshed and ready to embark on the journey of parenthood we’d start a couple months later.

Before the twins were born, we took another babymoon, this time piggybacking it onto a work trip for Jake that I happened to be invited to. It was the first time we’d been away from Baylen for more than a night, and it was so hard. It was great to be with Jake, but difficult leaving a piece of our heart back home. I ended up talking about Bay a little too much. Toward the end of the trip we made a pact to limit the amount we talked about him so that we’d actually focus more time on each other. It was completely necessary and I’m so thankful we had that time before our world would change forever jumping from one baby to three.

When we found out I was pregnant this time, we immediately started conversations about when we’d take our babymoon. Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned over the past year and a half is how important it is to prioritize our marriage during parenthood. It sounds so cliche, but when we’re happy, our kids are happy. When we’re connected and on the same page, our kids feel secure. And the truth is, that doesn’t just happen. Their immediate needs often take precedence over “our time” and if we don’t intentionally schedule date nights and little getaways, before we know it we barely know each other anymore.

Last week we took our third babymoon. Yes, we missed our kids like CRAZY. But my goodness was it a treat to spend consolidated time with the man I love. There was time to look him in the eyes for longer than 30 seconds and remember why we fell in love in the first place. There was lots of flirting and hand holding, and sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping and napping whenever we wanted. And of course some little squabbles along the way as we adjusted to what it was like to interact with just the two of us. I found that I’m so used to leading our kids throughout the day and being in charge, that submitting and trusting Jake’s lead took a little extra work. In a way it sort of felt like a honeymoon again, rediscovering each other in a whole new way. We had great conversations that went beyond our children, and spent time just enjoying the blessing it is to do life together.

We had time to pause and get out of the trenches of everyday life long enough to reflect and remember how blessed we are to have made it through the baby stage with three healthy kids. Life with little kids feels like a constant whirlwind most of the time, so it was so good for us to be still.

If you’re going to be parents for the first, second, third, or tenth time, I can’t recommend a babymoon enough. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. We’re lucky enough to have lots of hotel points from the travel Jake does for work, so we capitalize on those. Maybe you have family friends who own a lake home, or maybe there’s somewhere local you could go for a staycation. Be creative, but I promise it will be worth every bit of sacrifice. Having the chance to get out of your normal routine and “just be” with the one you love is a beautiful gift you can give to your baby, who will soon take up so much of your attention.

Here are a few highlights from our babymoon! We flew into Boston, drove out to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend, then spent a couple days in Boston, and a few days in New York City.

The only way to get to Martha’s Vineyard is via ferry or boat. Here we are exiting the ferry onto the island!IMG_1581 We stayed at the Dockside Inn in Oaks Bluff. It was an adorable place across the street from the pier with lots of great restaurants within walking distance. We’d definitely stay there again. IMG_1577IMG_1647The food on the island was fabulous. Lots of fresh seafood and ice cream on every corner. IMG_1586The first night we were there we were, a local tipped us off about a place called Backdoor Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oaks Bluff that opens late night and while they’re making donuts for the next morning, they sell the fresh ones hot off the press. This was THE BEST apple fritter I’ve ever tasted. It was the size of my face! IMG_1593Martha’s Vineyard was gorgeous. Everywhere we looked we were taking in some of the most picturesque views imaginable. We explored the entire island while we were there. It consists of three main towns: Oaks Bluff, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven. It’s only about 85 square miles, and everything is accessible by public bus rides.IMG_1595photo-26One of the many things we loved about the island is that there wasn’t a chain restaurant to be found. The towns were dotted with quaint cafes with unique items on the menu. My favorite place we went for breakfast was a little place called The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven. IMG_1601My favorite town to walk through was Edgartown. It was exactly what you’d think of when you think cape cod. Gorgeous homes and an adorable downtown area with high end boutiques. I could get used to this view every morning. IMG_1630IMG_1627IMG_1639IMG_1636IMG_1638We also made the trek out to the far southwest corner of the island that’s filled with acres of trees which hide the homes of billionaires. At the very tip there are these breathtaking cliffs. IMG_1617It was tough leaving Martha’s, but thankfully we still had much of our journey to look forward to. We headed back to Boston where we spent the next two nights. We really just had one full day in Boston, so we seized the day. We started by taking a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery which was a lot of fun. More fun for Jake, who actually got to sample the beers. IMG_1665Then we headed downtown, did a little shopping for Red Sox gear, and went on a Duck Tour of Boston. This one one of my favorite things we did. We were able to see the important highlights of the whole city in about 80 minutes from both land and water. IMG_1680IMG_1678That night, even though they were playing the Twins, we became Red Sox fans for a night and embraced our first experience at Fenway Park. It was a memorable atmosphere and evening, enjoying baseball in the most picture perfect weather we could have wished for. IMG_1684IMG_1688IMG_1691Early the next morning we hopped on the Amtrak bound for New York City. We landed in Times Square just in time for lunch and an afternoon of exploring. IMG_1695We hung around Times Square for most of our trip, enjoying amazing food and shopping. We came out fairly empty handed on the shopping front. Being 7 months pregnant with my last baby deterred me from buying many maternity clothes. I’m holding out for a day soon when I’ll be able to fit in regular sizes again! Nonetheless, window shopping on 5th Ave is always fun. IMG_1712IMG_1814One morning we woke up early and were in the live Good Morning America audience. I was so excited about this. I have it on almost every morning while I feed the kids breakfast. It makes me feel like I still have a clue what’s going on in the world when most of my world revolves around my little people. We got there around 5:45 and surprisingly were the first people there! I guess it paid off because we were on camera! Fun stuff for small town folk!IMG_1744

10492043_10152133390457061_9214305473362698532_nWe ventured to lower Manhattan one afternoon to visit the 9/11 memorial that opened a few months ago. It was humbling and neat to see.IMG_1787The last night we ate at a Tuscan restaurant. It was quiet and romantic and we talked the night away. The food was to die for. I even enjoyed a half glass of wine. The waiter told me it was good medicine. I didn’t take much convincing. IMG_1800IMG_1796More than anything, my favorite thing about our trip was spending time with this handsome guy. I’m so thankful God paired me with this wonderful man and am excited for all that adventures that are in store for us as a family of six.IMG_1705

Have you taken a babymoon? What would you say to parents to be who are thinking about taking one? 

XOXO,

Amber

P.S. A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you goes out to my parents who took care of our kids while we were gone! We are so blessed by their generosity!

 

 

 

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Show Him He’s (Still) Your Man

simple-love

I’d love if you’d check out my post on Twin Cities Moms Blog today. It’s all about how I want to stop giving my husband my leftovers and be more intentional about keeping our spark alive!

Check it out here: Show Him He’s (Still) Your Man

XOXO,

Amber

 

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10 Seconds

Jake and I have spent a lot of time talking about how to prioritize our marriage in the midst of raising a family. When we found out we were pregnant, we started to come up with a game plan as to how we would continue to make time for each other. We made a pact that we would never settle for simply becoming platonic roommates. At that point, however, everything was hypothetical, since neither of us had a clue as to how a precious babe would change our world.

Shortly after Baylen was born, reality set in and we quickly learned that prioritizing our marriage was going to take a lot of intentionality. I remember those early weeks of little sleep, just longing for one night when Jake could hold me all night long like he used to. For our family, our strategy became how we could welcome Baylen into our existing family structure instead of completely turning our world upside down for him. As soon as he was old enough to sleep train we implemented things like an early bedtime not only because it was recommended by the doctor, but also because it allows Jake and I to have alone time at night to reconnect. We so cherish our nights together, even if it’s just watching shows on our DVR or playing a game together. Being able to take off the mommy hat for a few hours and just be Jake’s wife is incredibly refreshing. However, as much as I like to be structured and rely on schedules, the reality is that you can’t control or anticipate how much time it takes to raise kids. Just when I think we’re in a good groove, Baylen will start working on another tooth and won’t sleep well for a week or two. Or he’ll have a random dirty diaper in the middle of the night that he is NOT okay being in until morning, thus resulting in our focus being taken away from one another.

For this reason, when Jake and I are feeling a bit disconnected and distant from each other, we do something called, “10 Seconds.” It works like this: Whenever one of us says, “10 seconds,” no matter how inconvenient the timing, we drop anything we’re doing and simply stare deep into each other’s eyes without saying anything for the next 10 seconds. Whether you have kids or not, I think it’s amazing how we can become so distracted by life and how easy it is to go through the day without truly looking at the person who means the most to you in the world. This little exercise has honestly has been a game changer for us. Those 10 seconds have the power to reignite the spark and remind you how incredible that other person is.

Go ahead and try it! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how an intentional glance will act as a catalyst to continually prioritize your love.

As for Jake and I, the conversations are gearing up to a whole new level as we think about how twins will affect our relationship. We may be moving to 20 seconds come the end of March!

Go and passionately LOOK at your special someone this week! You can bet I’ll be looking at this handsome guy…he’s such a looker! 🙂

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What simple things do you do to keep the spark going in your relationship?

Amber

 

 

 

 

 

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Whatever You Think

This weekend while we were in Miami I had lots of down time and was finally able to finish a book called The Surrendered Wife that I started last Fall. The underlying principle of the book is about how women need to stop trying to control our men if we want to experience true intimacy within our marriages. One of the most difficult things about relinquishing control is that we don’t always know when we’re being controlling. I’ll be the first to admit that as I read through the examples there were far too many times when I thought about times I had made these mistakes and disrespected my husband. What I loved about this book compared to other marriage books I’ve read is that it gave practical examples of how to show respect and become a surrendered wife.

One particular suggestion I resonated with was about how to respond to our husbands’ ideas. When we squash our husband’s ideas it can be one of the most subtle and dangerous forms of control because we are telling him we don’t trust him. Without trust there can’t be intimacy. Therefore, it is so important to respect his thinking. The first step is to let him think out loud without criticizing, laughing at, dismissing, or insulting him.

Instead, we need to say with as much kindness and sincerity as we can muster, “Whatever you think” when he is telling you his ideas. For example, if he comes up with a nutty idea about how he wants to change jobs, you say “Whatever you think.” If he thinks the kids should learn how to ski, and this sounds dangerous to you, you say, “Whatever you think.” If he wants to go out for dinner and you want to save money and eat dinner at home, you say, “Whatever you think.”

It takes lots of practice, but I’ve tried doing this lately and I can honestly say I’ve noticed a difference. Using the phrase just as it is has the best results. In the past I’ve used phrases such as “It’s up to you,” “What do you think?” “That’s for you to decide” and “Whatever you want” but none of those communicates both trust in his thinking and a healthy detachment from his problems as well as “Whatever you think.”

My challenge for all of us this week is that we seek the Lord and pray about how we can respect our husbands more. Perhaps you’re already perfect at this, in which case you can totally disregard this post, but for most of us I’m guessing there is room for improvement. Whether it’s using this phrase “Whatever you think” or discovering another way to practically respect your husband, let’s be intentional about it.

Giving up control is really not as scary as it sounds – all you’re really doing is allowing him to be himself. Sometimes his ideas will materialize and sometimes they won’t, but if you trust him instead of trying to control what actually comes to fruition you will be one step closer to fostering intimacy with your husband. Instead of killing his spirit and rejecting him, we’ll build a sense of confidence in him which will give him a whole new feeling of freedom and responsibility.

Question: What are practical ways you respect your husband? Do you have examples to share that have worked well to foster intimacy within your relationship?

Make it a great Monday!

Amber

*The ideas in this post came from the book The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle. For more details on this approach that has transformed thousands of relationships, read the book!

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