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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Moments Mommy Captured: 1/20/2013

As I mentioned on Friday, Jake and I were in Miami this weekend! Jake’s company held their annual holiday party there and invited spouses to come along! He had to spend just a few hours at meetings and we attended a couple meals with everybody, but the rest of the weekend was ours to do whatever we wanted. Since the schedule was pretty flexible, we decided we’d treat it as our babymoon as well. It doesn’t get much better than an all expenses paid getaway!

We stayed at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. Everything from the views to the restaurants to the gym to the beach and beyond was absolutely beautiful. We were spoiled.

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We didn’t have the sunniest of weather, but we did manage to sneak in a few hours here and there when it peaked out. It was still FAR better to be in Miami enjoying temps around 80 degrees than in MN where we were welcomed back by a single digit.

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Wearing a bathing suit while seven months pregnant with twins wasn’t exactly an experience I’d want to repeat too often, but when you’re a midwesterner desperate for some rays, you’ll do whatever it takes.

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On Friday night we went out on a date! It’s always a treat to be out past 7:00pm.

photo-31 We went to a local seafood restaurant called AltaMare which was recommended to us by the concierge. I’m not normally a huge fish person, but decided to venture out and try the lobster linguine with house made linguine.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever had!

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I loved the presentation!

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After dinner we walked around Lincoln Road Mall, found a couple cute outfits for the twins, and ended with ice cream from Tasti D-Lite. It was the perfect date!

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On Saturday night we had the pleasure of dining with Chef Fabio Viviani! He entertained us by putting on a live cooking demonstration of the food we were eating. Most of the things on the menu I’d never had in my life, but everything was delicious!

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There was a vegetarian at our table, and she didn’t get the eggplant she ordered in place of the fish the rest of us had, so Fabio came over and personally embarrassed her and made sure the top guy in the kitchen got it out to her ASAP.

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Jake and I had an amazing time away together. While we certainly missed our little man, having a weekend with just the two of us was much needed. We are refreshed and ready to get tackle the next couple months as we prepare for our girls’ arrival! Special thanks to Grandpa and Nana Kuiper who watched Baylen while we were gone! Also thank you to Jake’s company who went above and beyond to make it an unforgettable weekend.

Question: What was the last getaway you took? If you have a special someone how often to you make it a priority to get away together? 

Enjoy your Sunday evening!

Amber

 

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Becoming a Tartelette

When it comes to make-up, I’ve always considered myself a minimalist. Most days my make-up routine includes a bit of blush and some mascara. I’ve never used high quality make-up, but this year when my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them I’d love to invest in some.

So off I went with my Christmas money and explored all that Ulta had to offer. Learning about make-up was like being exposed a whole new world. I knew that I wanted to go with a natural line, so thankfully that limited the overwhelming amount of product lines I had to look into. After chatting with several beauty consultants from the natural/mineral brands, I ended up deciding on Tarte for a few different reasons. Their products are full of healthy and nourishing ingredients including amazonion clay and maracuja oil. Our skin has the ability to absorb so much, and I want to make sure I’m not feeding it unhealthy, synthetic formulas. I also liked Tarte because it fit with my minimalist mentality and doesn’t require me to cake on the layers. The way they suggest to apply the products includes just enough to add a little freshness and to make certain features pop.

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My new make-up routine includes putting concealer under my eyes, brushing on a little bit of amazonion clay powder all over which actually goes on clear, adding a little color with blush and bronzer, and finally some eyeliner and mascara. It only takes me a few minutes, but I feel so natural and fresh!

Question: What’s your make-up routine? What are your favorite products or product lines?

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! Jake and I are in Miami enjoying the beach and warmer temps. This is where you’ll find me for the remainder of the weekend…

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Amber

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Home Decor Shopping

Good Morning! I missed all of you yesterday! Instead of a workout, I enjoyed being pampered at the salon last night…it was PURE BLISS. A good rest day is just what I needed.

Now, on to home decor shopping! After living in our house for just under a couple months, I’m slowly but surely making progress on decorating, but still have so far to go. I’m the type that would rather have bare walls and wait for the perfect piece or idea to come along instead of just throwing something up there to fill the space. However, I feel like I’m on somewhat of a time crunch because I’d really like to have a bunch of the rooms finished before our twins come in late March. I know my time for extra things like decorating will be very limited after their arrival.

With that said, I need your help! I would love your suggestions on where you have had luck finding home decor for your home. I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to decorations, so I’d welcome recommendations for places that give you a big bang for your buck. I tend to like a bit of a rustic and antique style of decor. Truth be told, most of my things come from Home Goods. My house would be completely bare without that place!

Here’s a sample of the type of look I’m going for with my house…we found all these pieces for our mantle at…you guessed it, Home Goods! I especially enjoy the decorations when they’re paired with watching Sean on Live! With Kelly & Michael. 😉

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Question for YOU:

Where do you buy your home decor? Where can I find good deals, friends? Please share your secrets!

Make it a wonderful day today, finding a few minutes of “me time!”

Amber

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Snickers Bar Ice Cream Dessert

IMG_8464 My husband has an amazing memory. He doesn’t forget much. He especially doesn’t forget when he’s eaten something delicious. We laugh about it, but at the most random moments he’ll remember that one time when his mom made a pepperoni meatloaf that he liked, or when his high school friend’s mom made a specific kind of cookie that they’d always have before basketball games. We’ve been married for five years, and there are still times when he’ll recall random recipes he’s had that he wants me to recreate that I’ve never heard him mention before. Most of the time I’m happy to oblige because he also happens to be a picky eater and likes to eat the same things all the time. So when he suggests a new recipe, I get pretty excited.

Lucky for him, most of his random recipe recollections are almost always delicious, and this one is no exception. The other night we were headed over to some friends’ house and in charge of bringing dessert. As we ransacked our minds about what to bring, this one popped into his head. I’d had it once before and agreed it would be perfect. If you’re a fan of ice cream cakes, then this will be right up your alley. I added caramel to the original recipe to make it taste like a Snickers ice cream cake!

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Snickers Bar Ice Cream Dessert

Crust:

-1 package Oreos

-1/2 cup melted butter

-caramel (the kind used for topping ice cream – I use the Hershey’s brand)

Ice Cream Layer:

-1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (square container is the easiest to work with)

-1 cup salted peanuts

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Topping:

-2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

-2/3 cup powdered sugar

-1/2 cup butter

-1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

-1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

1. Crush 1 package of Oreos and mix in melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Freeze. Add a layer of caramel. Freeze.

2. Create an ice cream layer on top of the Oreo layer by cutting the ice cream into equal sized squares and piecing them together in the pan. Smooth out with a spoon until you have one uniformed layer. Press salted peanuts into ice cream layer. Add another layer of caramel. Freeze.

3. Topping: For about 8 minutes, gently boil the chocolate chips, powdered sugar, butter and evaporated milk together. After boiling, stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Let chocolate cool and pour over ice cream layer. Freeze. After chocolate layer is frozen, cut into squares and serve!

Recommendations: In order for this recipe to turn out, you NEED to allow enough time for each layer to freeze.  

This would also be a great alternative to serve for a birthday party if you don’t want to fork out the big bucks to buy a professional ice cream cake!

The next time your man suggests a recipe to try, take him up on it! It may just turn out to be one of the most delicious choices ever!

From my kitchen to yours…ENJOY!

Amber

 

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Unexpected Blessings

In just a couple months, we will be welcoming two precious baby girls into our world. Two identical baby girls, to be specific. Finding out I was pregnant with twins was certainly one of the last things I was expecting. I originally found out I was pregnant when I was about 6 weeks along. After spending a lovely day hanging out with my friend and her kiddos, Baylen and I came home and I was feeling nauseated. I happened to have a pregnancy test in the bathroom, and decided to take it to give me peace of mind. Although we hadn’t officially been trying to get pregnant, we hadn’t been doing anything to prevent it either. We’ve always wanted our kids to be close in age, so we were open to it happening whenever. Sure enough, the test came back positive! Since I never got my period after I was done breastfeeding Baylen, I had no idea how far along I was so I set up an appointment with my doctor. According to my HcG levels, he confirmed I was about 6 weeks along and wanted me to go back for an ultrasound in a couple weeks. We went back at 8 weeks, had an ultrasound, and saw the precious heartbeat! Notice heartbeat was not plural in that last sentence. We walked away from that appointment assuming we were pregnant with one.

Soon after that we moved out of Chicagoland. Jake started working and living in Minneapolis, and I started living with my parents in Iowa for the next couple months while we waited for our house to sell and close. I continued to go to my monthly doctor appointments, and was measuring normal for being pregnant with one baby, and when the doctor found one heartbeat each time, we assumed everything was progressing as normal. A day before Thanksgiving Jake and I went in for our 20 week ultrasound. We were so excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl! We were greeted by the sweetest ultrasound technician. I laid down on the bed, and she looked around for a bit. Then she looked at me gently and said, “Did you know that you’re having twins?” My immediate response was, “Are you joking?” I totally thought she was. She assured me she wasn’t, and proceeded to show me two heads. TOTAL SHOCK SET IN. AND PANIC. AND WORRY. AND QUESTIONS. Were they okay? Were they healthy? Were they identical? Fraternal? Would I have to be put on bedrest? Am I now considered to have a high risk pregnancy?

Thankfully Danielle, the technician, did a great job of keeping a calm atmosphere in the room. I don’t think Jake and I said more than five words to each other the whole time. Shock will do that to you. She took a look at both babies, used affirming words as she measured and located each body part, and by the end we found out we were having two girls and that they were measuring perfectly for how far along I was. After a short visit with the doctor afterward, we were on our way, still in shock, but incredibly grateful that the Lord was entrusting us with another sweet babe. We were now a family of five!

As exciting as it is, it has honestly taken me a while to get fully adjusted to the fact that we’re having two more babies. Since we found out two months ago, it has been a process of daily surrendering the whole situation to the Lord. The girls are sharing a placenta, which makes it a higher risk pregnancy, and means I have to go to the doctor a lot. Being pregnant with Baylen was a total breeze, and pridefully before I knew I was having twins I sort of was expecting the same thing this time around. I had this allusion of being in control and handling it on my own. God has stripped me of that pride and has humbled me many times. He has taught me to surrender each worry, fear, doctor appointment, ect. to the Him. It hasn’t been easy, and there are times when my flesh has been weak. During those harder times, I’m thankful for the friends and family I have praying on my behalf, and I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit is alive within me, guiding me toward truth.

Although I’m considered high risk, the Lord has blessed me with a healthy pregnancy so far. The girlies are doing great, and growing at the same rate. I get to see them via ultrasound every two weeks, which is so much fun for me. I haven’t had to be on bedrest at all, which is a huge blessing considering I have a 15 month old to chase around all day. When I’m able to keep my perspective clear and eyes on the Lord, I’m discovering each day that the blessings surrounding this surprise are abundant. I’m trading feelings of overwhelming uncertainty for confidence as I remember that He, who started a good work within me, will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6).

Questions to think about this week:

As you think about your own life and circumstances, what has God surprised you with lately? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, are you willing to surrender the situation to HIM? What unexpected blessings have come from your surprise? What does it look like to praise God through the surprises of life?

If you’re willing, I’d love to hear testimonies about how God has been moving in your heart.

May your week be abundant as you recognize the blessings God wants you to notice!

Amber

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Moments Mommy Captured: 1/13/2012

Highlights from our week included…

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Cuddle time on the couch after Baylen’s 15 month shots. It was our first time at a new pediatrician, and Baylen did great. He weighed in at 24lbs (75th percentile) and 31 inches (75th percentile).

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A lovely mocktail/cocktail dessert date with my dear friend Christy!

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Another haircut for the little man. His hair grows SO fast…thank goodness he doesn’t mind getting it cut. The stylist at Kids’ Hair was so good with him!

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Another week of consistent workouts at the gym. At 27.5 weeks, I’m feeling grateful that my body is still allowing me to work out. It’s helping me maintain a sense of normalcy throughout this whole twin pregnancy journey.

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Lot’s of family time! We were in Iowa this weekend at my parents’ farm celebrating a late Christmas. Baylen loved playing with Aunt Ali!

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Our failed attempt at a family picture. If you have tips on how to get a 15 month old to look at a camera long enough to capture some good shots, let me know!

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Baylen chatting away with “Pa-pa!” as he calls him. Bay LOVES being held by Papa and looking at the cows and tractors with him. There was lots of mooing going on!

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Grandma helping Baylen open his presents!

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Watch out, there’s a new tractor driver on the loose, folks!

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Giving goodbye hugs to Uncle Joey and Aunt Madison. Soon he won’t have to say goodbye anymore because they’ll be living in MN too!

And that does it! Here’s to another great week!

Amber

 

 

 

 

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Leggings

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, Baylen, I was at my biggest point during the summer and early fall, which meant I got to cop out of a lot of maternity clothes by wearing comfy sun dresses instead. Most any dress with an empire waist worked perfectly!

This time around I’m due in April and live in Minnesota, so the baby bump needs more than a cotton dress to keep it cozy during these frigid months. I can only handle so many days of maternity jeans before I start feeling frumpy, so I’ve been opting for lots of leggings. They’re as comfy as sweatpants but still make me feel like I’m wearing real clothes. I stocked up at Old Navy where they’re super affordable, and just bought them a size bigger than normal. Thankfully they have lots of stretch so I think they should last me through the rest of the pregnancy.

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When it comes to leggings, I’m one that needs to cover my booty in order to be comfortable. I’ve been on the lookout for long tops and sweaters this winter, and have had great luck at H&M, Target, Old Navy, and Motherhood Maternity.

I’m sharing a couple different ways I wear leggings in my photos today. First, a casual look, where I like to pull on a vest and my new high top wedges. They are perfect for running around town with a toddler. Thanks to Jamie at Stylin Mommies for recommending these shoes. If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do so. She is incredibly inspiring and super cute!

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Second, if I want to dress up my leggings a little, I add a big sweater cardigan and some booties. I can transform from mommy into a hot date for my hubby in a matter of moments!

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If you haven’t given leggings any love yet, I highly recommend adding some to your wardrobe. Instead of another day in sweatpants, you can feel just as comfy but I bet you’ll feel cuter!

Shirt: Loved by Heidi Klum via Motherhood Maternity
Leggings: Old Navy
High Top Wedges: Target or Steve Madden
Booties: Carson Pirie Scott
Vest: Gap
Sweater: Loved by Heidi Klum via Motherhood Maternity

Question of the Day:

Do you like to wear leggings? If so, what do you ususally pair them with?

Have a great weekend and remember to take a few moments of “me time!”

Amber

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DIY: Ladder Towel Rack

Upon moving into this house, we discovered that none of the bathrooms had towel racks. We installed new ones in our last house and knew that it could turn into an expensive project if you simply go to Home Depot or Menards. Therefore, this time around we tried to be a bit thrifty. After several trips to Home Goods I found enough matching towel racks to cover most of the bathrooms, and they were only a fraction of the price of home improvement stores. With the last bathroom, which is a small water closet on our main floor, I wanted to doing something more creative.

I decided a ladder would make for a perfect towel rack, so we set out to get the supplies. At the home improvement store we purchased wooden dowels, a couple wooden strips for the sides, and wood screws. We had leftover stain from my DIY: Pegboard Jewelry Organizer, so we didn’t have to worry about purchasing more of that.

I put Jake to work and within about 20 minutes he had the ladder assembled. After that he put a couple coats of stain on, and voila! Done and done! All it took was a few measurements, cuts, and drilling, and we had not only a functional towel rack, but a decorative piece for our water closet. Even if you don’t have much handyman experience, this project isn’t too tough to figure out.

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The total price for this little baby came in at around $10! I’m thinking of decorating a couple other places in our house using ladders to perform other functions. I’ll keep you posted if we come up with something that’s worth sharing!

Question of the Day: 

Do you have a functional DIY piece in your home that you’re particularly excited about? I need inspiration! 

Make it a wonderful day today!

Amber

 

 

 

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Arm Workout Using Household Items

Happy Wednesday Everybody! The sun is shining here in Minnesota this morning which always makes for a good start to the day!

Another way to get your day off to a great start is by working your arms a little bit. I have a workout for you today that is simple and can be done using products we all have in our homes.

Just like last week, I have a few videos below for you to watch so you know how to do the moves. Then check out the actual workout series below for the amount of repetitions I suggest for each move. After doing these moves for a week, I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to getting those toned arms we all want!

Arm Workout Using Household Items

You’ll need some weights to perform this workout. If you have free weights, feel free to use them. If not, use milk gallons and canned goods! 

-50 Bicep Curls (25 each arm)

-50 Hammer Curls (25 each arm)

-100 behind-the-back tricep pushes (50 with each arm in front)

-25 tricep dips

-2 minutes door frame resistance pushes (30 second intervals, taking a short break between each set)

-25 forward arm circles with cans

-25 backward arm circles with cans

-25 reverse flies with cans

Get to work, mommies! Just because we’re mommies doesn’t mean we have to give up feeling GREAT about ourselves. Take a few minutes for yourself today!

Amber

 

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