Fast, Furious, and Natural Labor: My Birth Story

This post is written in collaboration with The Honest Company. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

At 12:00 A.M. I felt my first contraction. At 4:10 A.M. I was holding my child. I’m a first time mom, and I had a 4 hour natural labor. This is my story.

Let me preface this story by telling you that every labor is hard. Natural, epidural, cesarean section, fast, dreadfully long, hospital, home-birth, water-birth, and everything in between. It’s emotionally taxing, and it tests every physical part of you! Sometimes there is the assumption that fast is synonymous with easy. I can assure you that this is not the case.

So it begins.

Denver and I were expecting to have little Oliver on December 31st, 2016. As the new year came and went, I knew he had to be making his appearance soon. Being 40+ weeks pregnant is incredibly uncomfortable. We were SO beyond ready to meet our little boy and every hour past our due date felt like ages.

In the weeks leading up to his arrival, I had been walking 2 miles a day, climbing a set of 99 steps up and down, and I had been using an outdoor gym. Anything to spur on labor!

natural labor exercise

I used an exercise machine that my husband and I have now deemed “the contraction machine”. Essentially, it spreads your legs apart and you squeeze them together (no weights attached). On New Years day, I did rounds of the above listed exercises. That night came and went and I didn’t feel anything progressing.

Bummed out and getting impatient, I decided that the next night (January 2nd) Denver and I should have a date to distract ourselves and to celebrate our last days as a family of two. We grabbed a coffee and walked around town, went out to eat, and then decided to go to the theater. When Denver and I were at the movies I legitimately felt like I was sitting on Oliver’s head. Little did I know, I was in early labor as I was chowing down on popcorn. Oliver had been low for quite a while, despite not being dilated at all at my previous exam (which is not what you want to hear at 40 weeks).

We had so much fun on the date, and we ended up getting home at about 10:30 P.M. We had decided to watch Vine compilation videos on YouTube because we are still mourning the loss of Vine (R.I.P.), and at this point the night felt like any other. At 11:45 P.M. Oliver was kicking around as per usual, but I had a little bit of back cramping. I had back pain my whole pregnancy, so a little back cramping was pretty normal to me at this point. I grabbed a heating pad and we continued watching videos.

Midnight.

I started to notice that my dull back cramps were coming and going in waves. It hit me. This might be the start of something! I told Denver, “Hey, I might have him in a couple of days!”. I texted a few of my friends to tell them that labor could be starting in the days to come, and upon hearing my symptoms, they all agreed it might be possible!

About 10 minutes later the cramping got worse. I felt like I just needed to live on the toilet. But nothing was coming out. Denver and I had been to a birthing class so I knew that this was a sign of early labor. I informed Denver and he was excited and started to pack up our toiletries into the hospital bag. I told him to calm down and that it could be days before we go into active labor. Then I realized my cramps were coming in stronger waves. I texted my friend Kylie (a nurse and a recent first time mom), and she said, “Time those. They could be contractions.”

I felt excited.

Now, I knew I would have back labor. Every hormonal occurrence I have had leading up to labor has been carried in my back. What I didn’t know is that with back labor, you might not ever feel one single contraction in your stomach. I didn’t feel any tightening, but I started to feel a lot of pain.

While standing in the bathroom with my pants around my ankles, I tried to determine whether I wanted to sit on the toilet or walk around. Denver came in, and asked if I was okay. I said, “I need to braid my bangs back, I think things are happening!”. Denver threw off his house shoes and put his tennis shoes on. I told him to take them off because we wouldn’t even go to the hospital until the next day. He looked at my face and said “Okay, but I still think it’s going to be sooner.” Silly boy. Didn’t he remember our class? Our instructor had said that in many instances, early labor can last hours and hours or even days before it transitions into active labor!

Early labor was likely with my symptoms, and I knew it was time to put our birthing class knowledge into practice. Move, move, and keep moving. I grabbed a microwaveable corn bag so I could start walking around the house. I told Denver to grab the timer and I would tell him when I needed him to time the “contractions” I had felt.

At this point, I had only felt a few waves of pain. We timed my waves of back pain for about 15 minutes. Denver said “Babe, these are 3 minutes apart and lasting close to 1 minute long”. We were confused. In our class we had learned that a good time to go to the hospital was known as 4-1-1.

Contractions 4 minutes apart.

Contractions are lasting around 1 minute long.

You’ve had these consistently for 1 hour.

Well. I had contractions less than 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute long, but I had only had them for 15 minutes. We were confused. Why did my contractions start out at the point you’re supposed to be heading to the hospital? Don’t you usually get to work up to this point? The pain was getting stronger with each contraction and I was practicing everything I had learned. I was breathing through them, moving around, squatting, leaning over the bed, swaying, and making low noises to push through it. While leaning over the bed, I felt a really horrible wave of back pain. I popped up and told Denver, “I think we need to go to the hospital, how many have I had?” To which Denver replies, “You’ve had 8 contractions”.

That’s when I felt fear.

Only 8 contractions had occurred and I already felt like I had been in a mild car accident. I have a high pain tolerance, so thinking we were probably in the earlier stages of labor was devastating to say the least. “How do people do this for 18+ hours?“, I wondered, not knowing I was already in active labor. I decided to try to labor for at least an hour at home so that it would be consistent with the 4-1-1 instructions. The pain started to get really intense, but I still never felt any tightening in my stomach or abdominal area. I hated this. Why was my labor so strange?

After an hour and a half had passed, I allowed myself to go to the hospital. Then I saw it. The car. How was I going to have a contraction in that thing. I found myself thinking, “Why do we have a Prius? It’s so small.” We got into the car and I felt a contraction coming on as soon as I got in. I pulled back the passenger seat and straightened my body out and took a big breath and groaned it out. Denver drove to the hospital and I had two contractions in the car and one in the hospital parking lot. We only live 7 minutes from the hospital (now so thankful for this), so I knew they were close together.

We walked into the hospital lobby at exactly 1:30 in the morning. The nurses politely asked me how long I had been in labor. When they learned that it had been just over an hour, they looked a little calmer and said we had time to get things together. I was breathing through the contractions but felt like I was going to vomit all over the lobby. I began pacing around and felt incredibly embarrassed knowing it could be a possibility that I came in too early. They wheeled me back to see how dilated I was.

I was terrified. What if I was barely dilated? I couldn’t imagine going back home.

When the first nurse came in to check me, she told me that she didn’t know how dilated I was because she couldn’t reach my cervix. I knew my cervix was far back because my doctor had told me the same thing in prenatal appointments. The nurse brought someone else in to try. I’ll never forget the pain as I looked up at the florescent lights in the little holding room while someone struggled to reach my cervix. This nurse couldn’t reach either. They said that Oliver’s head was in the way of checking.

I was freaked out. I’m a Type A personality! I like to know what’s going on.

The nurses came in and told me that they would check me in 30 minutes, and that I might not be far enough along for them to feel the dilation. I looked at Denver and I felt the panic in my heart. 30 minutes sounded like a lifetime. It felt almost impossible to breathe through the pain at this point. I hadn’t told them how much pain I was in, and I felt really alone. Why was this happening? Why could no one tell me how far along I was in the process? Denver sat there clutching my purse, and he and I exchanged silent glances of frustration.

After about 20 minutes had passed I had started grunting and holding the rail of the tiny bed I was on. When are they coming back? I told Denver someone needed to come in and check me, because I felt like I was going to poop him out! They sent in an entirely different nurse. She was tall, and strong, and she told me she wouldn’t leave until she knew how far along I was. As she was putting on her gloves, I felt a rush of warm fluid all over my legs. It was at this point that I realized my water had broken.

When this nurse checked to see if I was dilated, I screamed. It felt like it would never end. She took her glove off and got the other nurses. They started speedily wheeling me into the hallway and they told me that I was dilated to an 8 and progressing very quickly.

Two thoughts went through my mind almost simultaneously. Relief and fear. Relief that I was justified in my pain, and fear that I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural.

Going into labor, Denver and I had decided that we would listen to my body. I would like to try naturally, but if I felt like it was too much to bare, that I would get the epidural. In our birthing class, someone had asked how far along you have to be to not get the epidural. She told us that it was incredibly rare to be too late for an epidural your first time, and that you can even get it when you’re 10 cm dilated, so not to worry.

As they wheeled me into an actual labor and delivery room, I asked this question: “Am I able to get the epidural?”. They all looked at each other, and one sweet nurse looked at me and said “We’re going to try.” Did you hear that? Try. 

Every ounce of pain that I was feeling was in my back and my rear. It was excruciating.

The nurses quickly hooked me up to an I.V. and told me that they didn’t have time to move me to the nice delivery bed. That’s when I remembered, I wasn’t even admitted to the hospital yet! They started the I.V. drip, and I asked again about the epidural. The nurse looked at me and told me I had to get I.V. fluids for an hour before they could administer it.

An hour.

I looked at the clock and I felt defeated. I was clinging to the fact that it might happen and relief would be right around the corner. At this point I was starting to get light headed and I felt like I could simultaneously vomit and pass out. I wanted to push him out so bad. But all I saw was clip board after clip board of paperwork being handed to me. Signing agreements  in between frequent contractions was not my idea of a serene natural labor experience, but it’s exactly what was happening.

Although I had been breathing through contractions thus far, this is when I started screaming. I never thought I would scream! Why couldn’t I hold it together?

Denver looked at me and mouthed that I was doing well. I couldn’t even think about doing well, nor did I feel like I was doing well. I felt like I was screaming and was embarrassed to be doing so. The nurses told me that I was the only one in the wing and to let out whatever I wanted to. So I did.

I clung to the rail and laid on my side. My arms were shaking. I felt like I was on a ride and no one was letting me off. Denver moved over close to me for support. That’s when a labor and delivery nurse came in. This nurse would be my saving grace. She was confident, to the point, and supportive. She looked at me and told me that I had to breathe. That it wouldn’t get better until I could breathe.

I felt like my back was breaking.  I knew I would need to look into the eyes of the nurses and my husband, because  they were going to help me through this. The delivery nurse told me that it was time to push. I asked her about the epidural. “Can I please get the epidural now?”. She looked at me, and I knew. “Sweetheart”, she said. “You’re not getting the epidural”. I said, “Is there any way?”. That’s when she gave it to me straight. “If you sit up to get the epidural, your body will start pushing. He’s coming”.

I looked at Denver and I said “We got here too late.”

This is when I had to make a decision. I was either going to be strong, or I was going to crumble. As I grabbed my husband’s hand, he nodded at me in support. This made my decision easier. I chose to be strong.

Denver called my mom to tell her that we were close. They rolled my body over to push. I held my legs up to my chest, grabbed the back of my thighs, and listened to everything the nurse told me to do. Through pain and exhaustion, I asked the nurse a very important question. “Is he going to break me in half?” Although my husband and I laugh about this question now, at the time it seemed valid. She grabbed my feet and put them on her arms and assured me that he would not break me in half.

“He has dark hair.”, she said.

I could feel my eyes get big. That one statement made it all so real. I looked at the clock. It was 3:40 in the morning. I couldn’t believe it was all happening so fast. I had to grin and bare it. There was no turning back. I was going to have this baby with no epidural, and I was going to have him soon.

I began to push. It was the best feeling I had ever had. Pressure relief.  I pushed for a while and the nurse was assuring me that I was doing well. I kept asking the nurse how many more pushes she thought I had. She said that if I brought my legs up to my chest more he would come quicker. That’s when I got down to business. I was desperate to meet my son and wanted the agony to be over. I relate this feeling to the likings of pushing a watermelon out of a straw.

At about 4:00 A.M. she said it was time to go get the doctor. The doctor sat down in front of me and I began to push again. That’s when I felt it. I had heard about it.

They call it the ring of fire. That’s exactly what it is.

I could feel Oliver crowning. I remember in all that pain all I could say was, “Ow”. And that word felt so funny. I let out the tiniest laugh, the word “ow” had never held so much weight before. The doctor looked at me and Denver, and he told us that the baby had come so fast that I wasn’t stretched out enough.

This is where a fast labor has a downfall. I felt so blessed that I wasn’t worrying about him days on end or having contractions for hours and hours with slow progression. What people don’t often think about with this quick of labor is that your body goes from 0-60. The severe pain was coming from my body not having enough time to work up to it. And since every one of my contractions were in my back, my stomach and abs couldn’t help push him along.

The doctor told me that he never does these anymore, but that he suggested I get an episiotomy. I was surprised. Basically they wanted to make a small incision to help things along. He calmly looked at me and told me that I would rip badly, because of how quickly I progressed, but that the decision is totally up to us and to only do what we felt comfortable with. I looked at Denver and we agreed.

Let’s get him out.

I was scared. I didn’t have an epidural and I really didn’t want to get cut. How scary is that! He gave me a topical numbing shot and made the incision without me even noticing. There was too much pressure to feel a cut! He told me to push. I shut my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. I felt the worst burning and pain of my life, and I remember yelling, “I feel him”. That’s when I saw him cross over my knees and onto my chest.

He was here. If this moment doesn’t make you sing “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce, I don’t know what will!

We had done this. Denver stood over us and I felt blessed beyond belief. He had dark hair and I immediately knew that he looked just like my husband. They took him away to wipe him off and Denver went over to give our son a closer look. The doctor stitched me up and then I was handed my son once again. Being able to breast feed him right away was an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I was expecting to be bawling, and I was expecting my over-emotional husband to be bawling along with me.

What I felt was shock.

I had just been through a blur of the most unbearable physical pain, high adrenaline of my life, and then I had the emotional reality of holding my first child. I looked at Denver and said, “Well, you better text your family and tell them that he’s here.”

It had all happened so quickly and in the middle of the night, so we didn’t even have time to tell people we were at the hospital! We sent out our texts and pictures to family and friends and my mom came back to visit us.

The nurses came in and told me that it was an incredible delivery, and they hadn’t seen a first time mom deliver that quickly before. They also congratulated us because Oliver was the first baby of the new year born in our hospital! It was all so unbelievable.

I started to see light pour through our blinds. As I looked at my son, I said a prayer. A thank you to God for giving him life. A thank you for allowing me to be the vessel. He was my baby. He was my joy. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt like I had just won a battle. My heart swelled with the greatest and rarest love I had ever known. I was holding the embodiment of the love between my husband and I.

I was holding family.

Tears are rolling down my face as I write these words in a coffee shop, because I still can’t believe God’s gift to me and Denver. A four hour labor from start to finish was never what I expected. But I love it because it’s our story. Be it genetics, all the working out leading up to it, or by chance, I still don’t know what I can attribute the fast delivery to. But believe me that I will go to the hospital right away with our next!

While Denver and I still can’t believe his epic travels to get here, our journey as a family is just beginning! At three months old, he has the sweetest personality and is a reflection of the love I have for my husband. To keep up with our adventures as a family, you can follow my personal Instagram at BethanyMPoteet and our blog Instagram at OakAndEarth (my co-writers have lovely adventures as well).

Thank you so much for reading my story. We feel so blessed for our healthy little one. Every story is unique and special. The Honest Company is sharing many birth stories to unite us all in this beautiful journey we call motherhood. You can view their video about it here! Go celebrate other moms!

Until next time,

Bethany

Natural Labor

HERBventure is Out There: Starting an Indoor Herb Garden

Hello, readers. It’s Bethany here on Oak and Earth today, and I’m so excited to be writing during a time as wonderful as this—Spring.

Being 25 years old, I’ve been living in various apartments and duplexes for about seven years now. While I am completely enamored by the idea of owning my own home, I don’t hate living in an apartment or duplex either! I mean, simple spaces, low utility bills, convenient amenities at your fingertips etc., there’s really a lot to love. But there’s one thing that is always keeping my apartment from having that homey vibe I long for—not having my own garden! When I was little, Spring time meant dirt on my knees, tilling the soil, and eating grapes with my mom as we showered the garden bed with colorful flowers. I even grew my own corn! I miss this so much. If I were to walk outside of my place right now and grow a little garden, the lawn service would mow over it in five minutes flat. Not ideal.

As I have spent years sulking because I can’t grow a full garden, I had never thought about growing one indoors! Thank you, Pinterest, for giving me gardening hope. Instead of waiting for that perfect little starter home, I decided to start one right in my little duplex window sill! I love cooking with fresh herbs, especially in the spring and summer, so I have been thrilled at the thought of my own little indoor herb garden.

Herb2Below, I have listed some questions that I found to be helpful while starting this process:

Purchasing
»
What herbs will I use regularly?
»How many herbs am I comfortable starting out with?
»How obtainable are these herbs for beginners?
»Where can I purchase these herbs and my gardening tools?
»What kind of container will I need for proper growth?

Care
»
How much light do they need?
»Do I have the proper windows for this light? (South facing)
»What type of soil will I need?
»How often do I water them?

Harvesting
»
How will I know when to harvest?
»How do I prep them for cooking?

I found many sites and blogs that answered many of these questions and more, but here are a few sites that I found particularly helpful in my research:

← H E R B V E N T U R E →

I have never planted herbs before, so this herb-venture is completely new to me, and I am fully aware that I could kill them. Whether they thrive or die, I thought we could go on this journey together!

Choosing My Herbs

Prior to purchasing my herbs, I did a lot of thorough research. Besides the links above, I also asked my girls of Oak and Earth about their experiences! We all have been in a planting mood lately, so it’s been really fun chatting about what works and what doesn’t. Instead of starting from seeds, which can be very challenging, I decided to get the herbs from the garden section at Lowe’s. I chose to plant Italian Oregano, Spearmint, and Cilantro. Cilantro in my fresh salsa, mint in that refreshing Mojito, and oregano in a tossed summer pasta? That’s the goal! If you’re not sure what herbs to start with, both of the sites I linked above give a great list of herbs that are able to thrive indoors!

Potting My Herbs

Finding the proper pots is imperative to growth, and I wanted to make sure mine had a good draining hole (be sure to read up on this). They’re going to be a part of your home, so you also want to make sure they fit your style profile! There are a ton of ideas for different potting, shelving, and re-purposing indoor plants on Pinterest. Should they do well, I’m excited to try some of them. I wanted to keep it simple to start out, so I decided to paint my own terracotta pots! Painting them allows you to add your personal touch, and it made for a really fun project. I really love how they turned out, and they fit perfectly in my South facing window.

As I watered them today, I was wondering what their story will be this summer. Do they flourish? Do they die? Do they almost die but I swoop in to nurse them back to health? My hope is that they flourish enough to harvest! I have eaten my home grown corn on the cob as a child, and I am more than excited to cook with my fresh herbs as an adult. Either way, I am just giddy at the thought of taking care of my little herb babies.

Come summer, I’ll be sure to do an updated post about my herbs (dead or alive). I really hope that this gives you fellow apartment-living folk some great ideas! If you enjoyed reading this, you might also want to check out Shelby’s beginners guide to planting succulents here. Please feel free to keep up with our stories a little bit easier by following us on social media! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. If you like the “Let Your Love Grow Tall” banner in the background of my photos, I got it from our friend Sarah’s shop @PinAndThreadCo. You should definitely check her out, she has some adorable home decor! We have a lot of fun Spring-themed posts in store, so be sure to keep visiting Oak and Earth! In a home big or small, gardening is for all. Thanks for reading!

Happy Spring!

-Bethany

 

I Let My Husband Dress Me for a Week: Here’s What Happened

My name is Bethany, and I let my husband dress me for a week.

I’m sure you’re asking what I asked myself all throughout this process– why would I go through this? I wanted to stretch myself! I like situations that I can control. I like everything in its place, and I live by plans and organization. The only way to really learn about yourself is to get out of your comfort zone, and for me that means letting go. The rules of the project were simple. I didn’t have a say in what I wore, he could utilize anything in my closet, and when dressing me for work, it had to be office appropriate. Right out of the gate I knew we would have some challenges. Spring weather is unpredictable. Some days it’s cold and raining, and then it can warm up into the mid 80’s. I also have a pretty minimal wardrobe! I hate clutter and excess, so I try and keep it simple to mix and match. He didn’t have it easy.

I know that appearance isn’t an incredibly important part of life. This project tested that. Yes, I’ve known my husband for eight years, but there’s no one who knows you better than yourself. I know how to hide my insecurities, I know what makes me comfortable etc. I love being creative and fun and simple, and the clothes I choose help me guide that expression. Denver dresses well, but it’s not something he spends too much time on. Giving up my opinion was pretty tough.

Although he was nervous, Denver agreed to the project.

bloglovinphotoTo start us out, I asked him to describe what he thought of my personal style.

“Comfy Chic. You’re really fashionable yet you always look comfy.” – Denver

I looked up “Comfy Chic” on Pinterest. Apparently it’s a real thing. I love outfits that fit my personality, but I also value comfort so he’s not entirely wrong! How would he translate that himself?

Let’s take a look at how he did.

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Monday: “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me”

“I picked this because I think these pieces are really pretty, and I really like black and white.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Low

He chose this shear business button down, black and white sweater, and  black ankle slacks. An all black and white ensemble is something I love, but this just seemed over worked and awkward!  I love this sweater, but it’s for the dead of winter. It was sunny and 75, and I felt strange. Everyone else was walking around in t-shirts, and I wanted to shout “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me!”. He knew he wanted me to wear this shirt, but everything else seemed like a rushed after thought. I think he could tell I was sweaty and not thrilled, so I had high hopes for a turnaround! Overall, I like these pieces individually, but not necessarily together.

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Tuesday: “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain”

“I picked this because I’ve always like this combination. And I think you look good in this color. I like the patterns.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Confident

He chose this orange sweater, white and black button down, and black ankle slacks. He bought me this sweater a couple of years ago, and I love it! This day was a cloudy and cooler day, so this outfit was much more appropriate. I think the polka dot button down under the sweater was a smart pairing. I got a little scared when I saw him look over at my bright orange and white rain boots saying “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain.” Thankfully he grabbed my more professional shoes. I wear a lot of basics to work, so wearing this bright and patterned sweater is always a bit out of my comfort zone. I got three compliments before 9:00 in the morning, specifically on my sweater. Maybe Denver dresses me better than I dress me? I felt proud of him.

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Wednesday: “You need more pants”

“I picked this because I really like the lace detail on this shirt. The burgundy pants are different.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Moderate

He chose this denim lace detailed button down, burgundy ankle pants, and a gold necklace. Once he found out I only have three pairs of work pants, he went straight for these burgundy pair while saying “You need more pants”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my husband saying I need to go shopping. Maybe this experiment is golden. These pants are more like capris than ankle slacks, but I couldn’t say anything!  I felt okay other than my pants being too small. I feel good about the button down choice, and I love the lace shoulder detail. He put this gold necklace with it, and I think it pairs well. Overall, he didn’t seem as confident as the day before, but I think he did a good job. This day made me realize I need to donate these pants.

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Wednesday Night: “I thought the cardigan would fix it”

“I picked this because I think the pizza shirt is hilarious, and I really like the casual comfy look of the flannel with the leggings. Pom pom hats are awesome.” -Denver 

Casual–Life Group

Feelings: Exhausted, but happy

He chose this pizza t-shirt, zip up flannel, leggings, vans, and a beanie. We are always under a time crunch on this day, and that added pressure to this process. Denver knew that he wanted me to wear this pizza shirt, but he also wanted me to wear my boyfriend jeans. I already knew this would be a problem. They’re both relaxed fit, and I felt pretty sloppy when I tried it all on. The cardigan he picked out was too small to go over this shirt, and I legitimately felt like a stuffed sausage. He was really confused— “I thought the cardigan would fix it”. He went back to the drawing board. It was so hard to bite my tongue! I wanted to help him fix it. He had me try on different pants, shirts, jackets etc. Denver wanted nothing more than for me to feel comfortable and confident, and he finally landed on this. I felt a little bit like a black ninja, but over all I think he ended up picking something that was very me! This day he admitted that dressing a woman is much harder than dressing a man.

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Thursday: “You need a pop of color”

“I picked this because I really love this blazer. I think it’s  a trendier look  as opposed to a business suit. I think the burgundy top contrasts really well with the light blazer.” -Denver

Office Wear and Life Group

Feelings: Happy

He chose these high waisted black ankle slacks, burgundy tee, cream blazer, and a statement necklace. The weather was perfect for this kind of outfit. I was really excited about this one because I had never worn all of this together before. For the first time all week, I felt like I looked like me! I was really impressed that he picked out this necklace, and I got a lot of compliments on it as well. He was so cute picking this out. I could hear the hangers sliding around as he yelled “You need a pop of color!” On this day he learned to think of the outfit as a whole, instead of just putting together individual pieces. Progress.

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Friday: “Where’s your Papa’s flannel?”

“I picked this because I just love the over-sized flannel with the simple top and leggings. I like the fact that it’s casual and you can still wear it in public. It’s your grandpa’s shirt, and I think it’s really neat when you wear it.” -Denver 

Casual Wear 

Feelings: Comfortable and fun

He chose this flannel, white t-shirt, black leggings, and camel boots. This flannel means a lot to me, and I’m really glad he picked it out for me. I babysit on Fridays, so I felt comfortable. He knows that I run errands or do things afterward, so he wanted to give me something that I could also wear out and about. For the first time in this process, he had a couple shirts he wanted me to try on so that he could see what he liked best. Overall, I think this outfit looked the most like something I would pick out.

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After this experience, I realize just how much thought and care you put into getting dressed each day. You are always able to find multiple combinations of tops and bottoms to create a really great appearance. I didn’t realize how difficult that can be for a woman until this. As I was picking your clothes, I had to take more time to think than I would if I were dressing myself. I just really learned that it’s a creative process that takes time and consideration just like any other art. I can see why the fashion industry is a high art now. I had to learn how to paint with a different palette. -Denver

This process was both fun and exhausting, and we learned more about each other than you can possibly imagine. I learned that I’m hanging onto a few items that could be donated. I learned that Denver takes great consideration of wanting me to feel confident and comfortable. I learned how hard it is to let go of control. You don’t realize how much your clothing impacts your confidence, until you’re no longer given a choice! Denver is right. Fashion is an art, and I love having the freedom to express myself every day. If you think it’s not important to you, try this yourself!

Let’s keep the conversation going! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. You can also see our blog updates easily by liking our Facebook page, or following our blog Instagram @OakandEarth.

-Bethany

Simple Pleasures: D.I.Y. Minimalist Coasters

It’s Bethany here on Oak and Earth today, and I am thrilled to be sharing a few of my favorite simple pleasures and a fun D.I.Y!

Life often gets away from us. I was thinking about this a couple weeks ago. I was crawling into bed, and I realized I hadn’t been still for one moment. Sure I had sat down, but my mind was constantly working or running. Not to be too cliché, but I couldn’t think of a time that I had stopped to smell the roses (or the coffee in my case). That’s when I knew I needed set aside part of my week to enjoy some of my favorite simple pleasures. One of those pleasures being a warm cup of coffee.

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I have a cup of coffee every morning (more like a thermos because I’m always drinking it as I run out the door for work). Since this slowing down thing is a work in progress, my husband and I try to reserve a portion of the week to actually sit down and enjoy our coffee!  On Saturday mornings, we often have time to pour our coffee into mugs instead of thermoses. We can prop our feet up, stay in our jammies, and sip and enjoy it instead of guzzling it for energy. I love this little time at home. We also love to do fun activities together! So often we go out on the weekend and hit up one of the local coffee shops—another simple pleasure of mine.

While we are there, we set aside time to be still and do what we love! This includes simple things like writing, sketching, listening to music, or reading my favorite blogging magazine called Artful Blogging. If you’re a blogger and haven’t checked it out, it’s such a wonderful little magazine. A new edition comes out every three months, and it’s something I consider a treat and such an inspirational tool.

Sometimes I’ll bring headphones and listen to my favorite music. It sounds cheesy, but I often find myself getting emotional during this time. My head is filled with my favorite tunes, and all I can see around me is creativity. Our notebooks full of ideas, sketch books full of fun, magazines full of inspiration, my husband zoned in on his designs and sketches, a mocha filling me with warm energy, and people bustling all around me while I am still.

We always cap that time with one of my favorite simple pleasures ever created—conversation. Denver and I talk about our dreams, funny stories we didn’t get to share throughout the week, aspirations, and about our relationship. Most importantly, we laugh. I really enjoy being able to set aside time to go do this with my girlfriends as well. I love when we go out together. We often realize hours have passed by, simply because we’ve been enjoying each others company (shout out to my Oak and Earth girls who totally rock). These coffee dates are by far one of my favorite simple pleasures, and they only ever cost us whatever treat we bought at the coffee shop! I always leave feeling so refreshed and inspired. It’s such a nice time to reboot before more adventuring or going into our busy week ahead.

While I love these simple pleasures and experiences, I also love simple design! Minimalism in the home? Yes, please! On one of these coffee shop dates, I came across a D.I.Y for some simple color blocked wooden coasters. I have seen a lot of D.I.Y. coasters on Pinterest and other forums, but these are so simple that they easily became something I wanted to try for our home. I found this D.I.Y. on a fellow blogger’s site SimplyLivBlog. Olivia has such a cute family and blog, you must check it out (I’ll link more of her contact information at the end of this post). I told Olivia I was going to post my experience if I ended up doing the D.I.Y., and I am so excited to share how they turned out! I’ve already put these to use, and they look adorable in the home –a perfect match for our mugs on those slow and simple Saturday mornings. I am so grateful to Olivia for sharing this idea. I couldn’t believe how quick they are to make. Want to make some? Let’s get started!

What do I need?

  • 4” X 4” wooden squares **Note: You can pick up a 2 pack for $1.99 at Hobby Lobby.
  • Wood Stain **Note: Hobby Lobby has many choices so make them personalized to your home! If you like the color I chose, it’s called “Driftwood”. Don’t forget to use your 40 % off Hobby Lobby coupon on your most expensive item, in this case that’s the wood stain. Just google the Hobby Lobby 40% coupon and have the code pulled up at the cash register.
  • White paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Old rag
  • Paint brush
  • Design stencil if desired

What do I do?

  • Stain your wood blocks:

I simply followed the wood stain directions on the can. I put one coat on each side and edge. After 1-2 minutes, you wipe off the excess stain with your rag. This is an important step to ensure that you will be able to see the wood grain. If you would like extra protection from water stains, use polyurethane as directed. Keep in mind that this might make your stain darker. I wood stained mine at night, and they were ready to go in the morning. I love the color!

  • Tape off your designs: 

I loved Olivia’s designs, so I went ahead and mostly did those. You can choose any simple design you like. I also got a very simple Aztec stencil from Hobby Lobby, and I used it on just a few of my coasters.

  • Paint: 

To keep with my simple designs, I chose white paint. You can choose whatever color you would like! Paint around your tape. After my main designs dried, I added the stencil detail on a couple of the coasters. I simply taped down the Aztec stencil and painted. This step is only necessary if you want that little detail. Let them dry until the paint is no longer tacky.

  • Enjoy: 

I can’t believe how little time they took. Now that I have all this stain and paint, I can’t wait to make more! Here’s a few pictures of how mine turned out.

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I am so thrilled that I came across Olivia’s D.I.Y! Now I have some minimalist coasters to go along with our simple coffee breaks at home. What are some of your favorite simple pleasures? Let’s keep the discussion going! You can follow me on Instagram (@bethanympoteet), or follow along with our hashtag #OakAndEarthBlog. Want to see more from Olivia? Check her out on Instagram (@simplylivblog), and follow along with her blog at SimplyLivBlog. I am so thankful that she posted this D.I.Y. Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing in some of my favorite simple pleasures. Because of your constant support, Oak and Earth is now updating bi-weekly! We have a little bit of page overhaul coming up with some ideas to make it easier for you to keep up with us. So be sure to stop in and check that out soon.

Cheers,

-Bethany

Why "I love you" Isn't Always Enough

Hello, dear readers. It’s Bethany here on the blog today, and I am so excited to be writing again! I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my husband this weekend. He woke me up by bringing me donuts and a dozen beautiful roses. Donuts? Don’t mind if I do. We spent most of the day sitting over coffee and reminiscing on the six years we have shared together. What a special time!

With Valentine’s Day wrapping up, I found myself reflecting on the complexities of one of the most powerful feelings I have ever experienced—love. I mean think about how many things we say we love. I love Flaming Hot Cheetos, I love this song, I love Netflix. This feeling is so complex, that the Greek have several versions of the word reaching from sexual passion, to love for deep friendship, to longstanding love. I couldn’t find a Greek word for the love of Netflix, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

If love is so prevalent, why are marriages ending every day? Have you ever seen a marriage end and upon asking why, they say “love isn’t always enough.” You can love a person and your relationship or marriage can still end. Maybe it’s not love that keeps a marriage going, but instead, two people understanding and practicing the characteristics of love. If you’re happily married, single, in a long term relationship, divorced, widowed, or not even looking, don’t write this off as something to only be attributed to marriage. No matter what season of life you’re in, how to choose love is something to consider learning.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This is a highly referenced quote about what love really looks like when it’s broken down and put into practice. Whether you’re a follower of Christ, or not, these characteristics of love are undoubtedly admirable. I always end up feeling a little guilty after reading this scripture. We can agree to this all day long, but practicing this is so challenging.

We are humans, and when you tell me love “is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”, I can think of ten ways just this week that I have not kept that word, despite loving my husband more than words can express. When you argue in marriages, it’s easy to hurl wrongs at your spouse. Wrongs that you’ve supposedly forgiven them for. I feel like the words “you always” or “you never” tend to come out. It’s like you keep these phrases and record of wrongs just sitting in your pocket like ammunition. I know I’ve been there. In reality, it’s hard to choose to to keep no record of wrongs. In these types of situations, you have the choice to forgive, or to keep record of wrongs even after the behavior has changed. That’s why I believe that love is more than a feeling. Especially in marriage, it’s an action…a choice.

What does choosing love look like in a marriage?

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I am just one person in one marriage, and I want to grow as well. The only way to do that was to gather many opinions. What do other people consider the basis for a successful marriage? Did they believe in choosing love as well? After reading their responses, I believe they do. From friends, to family members, to acquaintances, I was blown away by the significance of what people shared with me when they were asked to complete the following task:

Choose one word that you believe allows a marriage to last “until death do us part.”

↔   C  O  M  M  I  T  T  M  E  N  T   ↔

“If you truly commit to forever than you stick to it. In times when you are in love you stay committed. In times when you don’t like each other you stay committed. There is no other choice than staying committed to your oath. And that commitment creates trust and love”. – Age 51, Married

↔   C   O   M   M   U   N   I   C   A   T   E   ↔

“The hard part about marriage is that we already have certain expectations in mind, but our spouse is not a mind reader. Communication allows you to express expectations and needs, set goals together, and discuss issues as they arise so they don’t grow and fester.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   S   E   L   F   L   E   S  S   N   E   S   S   ↔

“I could say communication or loyalty is most important, but it all really comes down to being selfless. Because within those character traits, the partner MUST be selfless. Must put the other first in every situation. If you’re doing that, and loving with all you have, you won’t fail”-Age 24, Married 1+ years

“If both people are completely selfless, considering the needs/desires of your partner before yours, then there will be no room for selfishness. Marriage breaks down because we start caring more about what we aren’t getting or what we want more than our spouse. Then we start linking for me instead of us and that is a slippery slope.” –Age 28, Married 7+ years

↔   S   A   C   R   I   F   I   C   E  ↔

“Dying to self every day is something he and I have to make a conscious choice to do. It’s putting each other’s needs in front of our own. Each choosing to give 100% daily, even on the hardest days. That’s why sacrifice is my word.”-Age 24, Married almost 4 years

↔   F   A   I   T   H   ↔

“Faith in Jesus that in good and bad times that He will bring you closer to each other and Him. Faith that God picked you two to support and love one another forever.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   P   A   T   I   E   N   C   E   ↔

“It’s something I’m not good with but I want to be! I heard a story one time about this little old couple who had been married for like 60 or 70 years, and when they asked how they made it work, the man wrote on a piece of paper front and back as many times as he could fit the word ‘patience’. I remember thinking when I heard that story- that is so true!”-Age 24, In a Relationship

↔   L   U   C   K   Y   ↔

“In my opinion, people want love so badly that they start to convince themselves that they’re in love, and often get married. Those marriages fail. It takes true love to stay devoted to someone for a lifetime. Those that find it are lucky.”-Age 27

↔   O   N   E   N   E   S   S   ↔

“Oneness isn’t two halves joining together; it’s two wholes morphing into one undivided being. You become an unbreakable force that nothing can stand between. When you give it all, you get it all. Focusing on what makes us a successful whole rather than two happy halves is important.” -Age 26, Engaged

↔   H   O   N   O   R   ↔

“To honor is to show the utmost respect to.”-Age 25

↔   L  A  U  G  H  T  E  R   ↔

“I always think that the amount of laughter in a relationship tells a lot about its state. Never stop finding reasons to laugh with one another. Laughter exudes joy, fun, understanding, and healing.”-Age 25, Married 2+ years

↔   C   H   R   I   S   T   ↔

“Always trying to keep Christ at the center of our relationship has only allowed us to love each other that much more. Because of this, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time my wife and I fought, but I can tell you the last time we’ve laughed together – this morning.” – Age 26, Married 2+ years

“If two people are wholeheartedly serving Christ, serving each other will fall into place and they will progress in their marriage together after God’s own heart.” –Age 24, Married 2+ years

What I love most about asking others is how they’re all coming up with this word based upon different life experiences and backgrounds. Many of their answers can be related back to the actions expressed within the 1st Corinthians reference. Words are tools. Imagine what would happen if we put these words to work in everyday life. How many relationships would be benefited?

Consider the COMMITTMENT you have made when you start to question your oath. Choose to COMMUINICATE instead of icing one another out when conflict arises. Choose to SACRIFICE your own selfish ways. Choose to be SELFLESS when you know your spouse needs those small wins throughout the day. Choose to have FAITH that God can rebuild relationships even after great hardship. When you could easily let anger control you, choose to be PATIENT (speaking for myself here, that  means in the car too). When it gets hard to be patient, choose to remember that you are LUCKY and blessed to have one another. Choose to stand as ONE when you and your spouse are tested. In doing so, you show that you are choosing to HONOR and respect him/her. Choose to share in LAUGHTER when pain is too great to carry on alone in sadness. Choose CHRIST to be at the center. From there, all of these other choices become much easier, and even habitual.

Why is saying “I love you” not always enough? It is if you equip the word love with the weight it deserves. When both people commit to do love instead of just feel love, that’s when a marriage lasts.

Some people come from broken marriages, broken homes, or have experienced painful relationships. Whatever your season in life is, I encourage you to apply these choices in any way you can find. Apply them to your marriage, your future marriage, or use them as a way to understand a broken marriage so that you’re able to move forward. If you haven’t already, you should check out this short book HERE, to find your top love languages! Denver and I did this before we got married, and it has helped us understand how we each  communicate love. Even if you consider your marriage to be a successful and happy one as I do with mine, there is always work to be done. Let this be a wonderful reminder from the mouths of many!

I really enjoyed having others contribute to this project, so thank you so much for those who participated and for those reading this week. If you have an questions, comments, or suggestions, let’s keep the conversation going! Leave a comment below, or find me on social media @BethanyMPoteet. As always, you can hashtag your experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We are starting to blog more frequently, so look for some exciting updates in the future. Have a wonderful week!

Thank you, friends.

-Bethany

15 Healthy Snack Food Alternatives

Greetings! It’s Bethany here on the blog today.

With New Years resolutions in full swing, I am sure many people are already struggling to keep one of the most common resolutions: eating healthy. I have decided to discuss the Achilles heel of any of my attempts to healthy eating —snacks. If I am exercising and eating healthy meals, why does a little snack matter? Snacks can  account for many of our calories throughout the day, and some days snack calories can surpass calories from our meals! In the past, I have tried cutting out snacks entirely. Not only is this not necessarily a healthy choice, but I failed miserably.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had decided to cut out anything that wasn’t extremely healthy. On day five, I could feel my will power fading. I went to bed pretty hungry, but I decided to “sleep it off”. The next morning, I woke up feeling full! What a miracle. Sleeping it off had worked! Except it totally hadn’t.

When I went to turn off my alarm, I had some peculiar observations – my hands were sticky with a powdery orange resin. Then I saw it. The empty family sized Cheeto bag I had purchased before my health plans. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a single shameful Cheeto stuck to my back. Not only is this not a sanitary way to sleep, but I had no idea how this even happened!

After this incident, I officially believe three things:

1. Sleep eating is a real thing.

2. You need to listen to your body. Don’t completely deny yourself of enjoying your food.

3. There has to be a way to be healthy and not compromise taste.

Whether you’re a working individual or a stay-at-home parent, unhealthy options are all around us! In my office, there is a full candy dish within arm’s reach, a snack machine right outside my door, and a free birthday cake for [insert coworker name here]. Since the Cheeto incident of 2014, I realized that I don’t have the will power to cut out every wonderfully tasting snack food available to me.

What’s the good news?

I have compiled a list of snack foods that have helped alleviate my cravings without completely compromising my health goals. In other words, the snacks can stay! In fact, I have found that these snacks in particular energize me throughout the day.  If you find yourself overthinking what you’re eating all the time, step back and make sure enjoying your food!

This list is not to completely cut out food you enjoy, but to equip you with some healthier options if you so choose! Eating some healthier options throughout the week also leaves some room for special treats (ice cream or lattes with friends etc.)  You can always try substituting out one or two snacks for the healthier version and go from there.

I made sure to try all of these snacks myself to ensure that they are easy to access, obtainable for busy individuals like myself, and tasty.

We are starting off this list with three healthy snack recipes that I recently made for the first time. I am really excited to add these three recipes to my collection. Let’s take a look!

1. Chilled Greek Yogurt Dipped Fruit

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This snack is great for your sweet tooth cravings. I’m surprised I have never made this sweet treat before now, but I was in love as soon as I tasted it. I am excited about all of the options with this snack. You can choose your desired fruit as well as your desired Greek yogurt. I used what I had on hand this day: a granny smith green apple and light berry Greek yogurt. I would suggest apples with plain Greek yogurt and local honey!

For this recipe, I simply sliced my apples, dipped them in Greek yogurt, and I chilled them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Chilling the yogurt onto the fruit is optional, but I suggest this for added dimension in texture. It’s also a lot less messy this way, and makes them easier to eat on the go!

Why Greek Yogurt? Find out HERE.

2. Baked Zucchini Chips

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As a person who is constantly craving chips, zucchini chips are a great alternative to the ones I would normally turn to. I was really excited to try this recipe, and for good reason. They turned out to be DELICIOUS. Since the baking time for these chips is two hours, I prep these at night and store them in an air tight container for next day use. The recipe was really simple to follow, and I’m incredibly happy to have found a chip alternative that I really enjoy!

You can find this recipe HERE. (Check out her awesome food blog while you’re at it.)

I like zucchini cooked many ways. It’s a side item to my meals several times a week. My next zucchini venture is try zucchini fries! You also might enjoy hearing about what nutritional value zucchini provides HERE.

3. Poached Egg on Wheat Toast (with optional avocado spread)

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While this recipe is not as travel friendly as my other options, I couldn’t resist adding a snack that contains eggs. Poached eggs are a great addition to your health plan. I pair mine with wheat toast so that I can have the complementary textures of crispy and soft. I would also suggest smearing on some slices of fresh avocado!

Poaching eggs can be a little fickle without a poacher. I learned how to poach eggs on the internet, and they turn out pretty great! To learn how to poach an egg, check out these simple instructions by one of my favorite chefs HERE. If you’re a visual learner, I have  found that the method in this video works as well: HERE.

Sometimes eating healthier is easier when you understand why you should eat certain foods. To hear some of the benefits of poached eggs, check out this article HERE.

List Continued:

The rest of this list is a compilation of my favorite snacks that I have made in the past or keep on hand. There is a mix of sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy. This allows some variation and a full pallet experience:

4. Hummus with Celery or Carrots

5. Air Popped Popcorn

6. Whole Grain Cereal

7. Dark Chocolate (in moderation)

8. Whole Grain Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese

9. Almonds

10. Dried Fruit

11. Sliced Cucumber  in Vinaigrette (soak overnight)

12. Edamame with Sea Salt

13. Kale Chips

14. Wheat Toast with Blueberries, and Light Cream Cheese (or Greek Yogurt)

15. Air Popped Popcorn with Dark Chocolate ChipI hope you enjoyed my list of healthy snack foods!

Please let us know if you try any of these recipes! I would love to see how you put your own personal preferences into these snack options. What are some of your favorites that didn’t make this list? I’m always looking to expand my repertoire. While I love these healthy options, I believe that food should be a great experience. So have fun with it, and don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet, and hashtag your blog experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We would love to hear from you!

Have an incredible week!

-Bethany

 

 

The 12 Dates of Christmas: Holiday Themed Date Ideas

HEREHappy Holidays, readers! It’s Bethany here today, and I am so excited to be sharing this blog post with you during the Christmas season!

All right, picture this: I’m sitting on the couch after work, and my husband comes in and asks, “What would you like to do tonight?”. To which I always respond, “What would you like to do tonight?”. We tear open our blinds for inspiration and are swiftly reminded that “fall back” has conquered the sky. At 5:00 p.m. it already looks and feels like midnight. At this point, it’s easier to watch Netflix and call it good.

I’m all for binge watching Parks and Rec, New Girl, or whatever show you might be captivated by (I’m told I’m crazy for not having started Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead). HOWEVER. The holiday season should be properly celebrated in all its wonder! How much easier would it be to have someone else plan your Christmas dates for you?

Merry Christmas!

I am giving you a list of 12 holiday inspired date ideas. These dates are designed to bring you together during the most joyous season of the year. Once you get out of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at how much closer it makes you as a couple. Don’t worry, I threw some binge watching dates in there as well.

While you may not have time to do all of these, you can save some ideas for next year, or opt to do a few off the list.

Let’s get started!

1. Ice Skating

I have a special place in my heart for ice skating dates. Ice skating was my very first date with my husband!  For some,  this date sounds completely romantic and movie-esque. For others, ice skating sounds like a humiliating situation waiting to happen. The good news is, laughter will surely ensue. Nothing brings out your inner child more than ice skating together. While this can take some getting used to, this activity leaves you plenty of chances for great contact. You might leave with some bruises, but you’ll also leave with some great memories.

**Helpful tip: Call around to some local rinks, and find out the best time to go! Some rinks will offer discounts on certain nights, and some close earlier than you would think. Call ahead for pricing as well.

2. Black and White Christmas Movie Marathon 

Yes, this is your binge watching date. While some dates are meant to be adventurous, others should have you in a relaxed and cozy environment. Get in your comfiest pj’s, and curl up with some hot cocoa or cider. Some of the best Christmas movies are the black and white classics! So, why not dedicate an entire night to them?

To get you started, I provided a short list of some of my favorites. There are so many great ones, you might want to make this a week long extravaganza!

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Scrooge (1951)
  • A Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

**Helpful tip: I have previously blogged a wonderful hot cider recipe that you can find HERE.

3. Downtown Date–Carriage Ride 

This is one of our “splurge” date suggestions. Go to a nearby square and check out the festivities and lights! Where we live, we have a couple downtown squares to choose from. It is worth it to drive to the best one around you, and really spend the night in awe. We usually bundle up, grab a hot chocolate, and walk around until our toes go numb.

This is a great date to soak in the wonderful holiday atmosphere as a couple. If you want to take it up a notch, many larger town squares offer horse drawn carriage rides. Denver surprised me with this once, and it was unforgettable. You  must do this at least once in your life. If you’re tight on cash, you can totally opt to just do the walking portion.

**Helpful hint: If you decide upon this date, I would suggest putting your phones away. Maybe you can walk around once and take some cute pictures together, but I would definitely suggest putting them away the rest of the night. This allows you to really enjoy each other in such a beautiful environment.

4. Paint Ornaments and/or Ceramics 

This is an activity that I would often do as a child; however, I recommend this activity for adults as well. Why? It gets your creative juices flowing, and it can end up being quite humorous. Last year, Denver and I decided to paint 12 ornaments together. We threw on a Christmas movie in the background and painted away. Some of them did not turn out so fabulously, but I really enjoyed taking it back to one of my favorite childhood activities.

**Helpful Hint: If you decide to do some ceramics, these make for wonderful little gifts for children. It might be fun to have this in mind while painting them. If you decide to paint ornaments together, Hobby Lobby sells some inexpensive clear bulbs that are very easy to paint.

5. Candle Light Service

I would highly recommend attending a Candle Light Service together. I understand that many families enjoy this activity together; however, there are several services offered before Christmas. We suggest this activity as a date because it is important to come together and really think about what Christmas should be centered around. This date allows you to have some spiritual time spent together. In addition to that time spent together, most of these services are incredibly beautiful.

**Helpful Hint: I would suggest asking friends and family for their favorite candle light services in the area.

6. Christmas Picture Scavenger Hunt (Group date!)

This is one of my favorite date ideas on the list. This is a good weekend activity, as you might need to start during daylight and end during the evening. Remember that we suggest this date to be a double date or a group date.

HOW IT WORKS:

This is a picture scavenger hunt! You will need to take your phone or camera, and take a picture of everything you can find on the list I provided below. Break up into couples and make sure you each have access to the scavenger hunt list. Set a time limit that you think is obtainable but challenging. Once your time limit is up, you must meet at a local coffee shop to compare pictures. The couple that has the most pictures of the listed items gets coffee/hot chocolate bought for them by the other couples. This is a fun way to get out of your comfort zone! It ends up being a good laugh.

**Helpful hint: It is even more fun to up the game by adding one extra point for every picture that has one of the team members in the picture with the scavenger hunt item. If you are driving to each destination, please practice safety at all times.

SCAVENGER HUNT LIST: 

  • Nativity scene
  • Charlie Brown
  • 3+ Light Up Reindeer in one yard
  • Christmas Wreath
  • Pinecone
  • Mistletoe
  • Someone drinking hot chocolate
  • An elf
  • Star
  • Moving lights
  • Inflatable decorations
  • Candy cane
  • A dog in a Christmas sweater
  • Decorated mailbox
  • Silver bells
  • A Christmas vest
  • Angel
  • “My first Christmas” ornament
  • A good deed taking place
  • Christmas snow globe
  • The Grinch
  • Short video of Christmas music playing in a store/shop
  • Christmas tree in a window
  • A light display that plays music
  • Santa clause on a roof
  • Over-sized candy cane
  • An employee wearing a Santa Hat
  • A gift wrapped present
  • A gingerbread house

7. Angel Tree

Often times, a Salvation Army or school in your town will have a large Christmas tree with paper angels attached to it. These paper angels will include the age of a boy or girl in need, along with a list of their most wanted Christmas items. Go pick out these items as a couple! It’s really enjoyable to do something for a child that needs some Christmas cheer. If you are completely unaware of what the Angel Tree organization does, you can check out their website HERE.

**Helpful Hint: You can often find out where nearby Angel Trees are locate by asking the local Salvation Army. The earlier into the season you look into this, the better.

8. Ugly Sweater Date

What is the holiday season without a little ugly sweater fun? For this date, you must be willing to go a bit out of your comfort zone. Instead of picking out your own ugly sweater, you must pick out the ugly sweater for your significant other with maximum embarrassment as the goal. Why? This is a friendly little competition.

Once you have exchanged your ugly sweaters, it’s time to have your friends and family vote on the ugliest sweater. This can be done by an easy Facebook post or by physically asking friends and family to vote. Once the ugliest sweater has been selected, the person that purchased the sweater gets a Christmas treat of  their choosing. Have you been wanting to see a certain Christmas movie? Have you been wanting to have a certain Christmas drink? The winner shall receive it! This date is much more fun if you continue to wear the ugly sweaters the rest of the night. You might be embarrassed, but you’ll be embarrassed together.

**Helpful hint: If you cannot find ugly sweaters, opt for the ugliest ornament instead! Christmas sweaters of all shapes and sizes can often be found at Good Will or a simple dollar general store. Please don’t spend heaps of money on an ugly sweater! They can get picked over this time of year, so the earlier in the holiday season you start looking, the better.

9. Attend a Local Children’s Play

This one sounds a bit odd, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Nothing will put a smile on your face like watching a children’s performance. You know those puppies that are so ugly that they are cute? This is a similar concept. Cheesy children’s plays= adorable. Laughter is sure to follow.

*Helpful hint: Contact friends or family for a list of local plays.

10. Christmas Lights Drive

Put together the best Christmas music playlist you can find, and hop in the car for one of the classiest Christmas dates around. My family has done this for years, but this can also be a super fun date!  Drive around local neighborhoods and take in all the festive lights that you can. Although we had some alternative dates in mind for you, this one just has to make the list.

*Helpful hint: We feel like 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm is a good time to start this drive. This gives people enough time to get home and turn on their lights, and this allows you time to drive around before people start turning them off for bed.

11. Volunteer as a Couple

While there are so many other activities that could have made our list, we feel that this one is incredibly important.  Let me tell you, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities out there. Denver and I volunteered in the community for Thanksgiving this year, and we will be doing the same for Christmas!

Why volunteer as a couple?

Volunteering in the community gives you more joy than you will ever know until you experience it. While this is a cheerful time of year for many, some families are struggling horribly. In the past, Denver and I have made excuses as to why we can’t do this. We’re too tired after work, or it’s more fun to do something else. You name it, we’ve thought it.  I encourage you to think differently for at least one date. Volunteering allows you to give one of the most precious gifts of all: your time. Not only does this benefit the community, but it is a GREAT bonding experience for a couple. Win. Win. Win. Speaking from personal experience, it is so worth it to give your time. Here are some volunteer ideas to get you started:

  • Deliver meals
  • Visit a senior
  • Angel Tree
  • Toys for Tots

**Helpful Hint: Contact your local Salvation Army or City of Commerce for some volunteer events in your local area.

12. Sunrise/Sunset Yearly Reflection 

Before you automatically discount this date because of the cold, I have a warmer option for you as well. I don’t think I’m alone in that I enjoy quality time and open communication.  But how do you make this fun? One of the best ways to do this is to spend some time watching the sunrise or sunset. There’s something special about dedicating time to wake up early just to reflect on God’s beauty. Not everyone is awake during sunrise, and there’s something about catching it together that is just plain magical. While it can be tough to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise, it would definitely be my first choice because of the seclusion. Bundle up and take a hot drink and some blankets, and find somewhere special to look back on the year. For example, Denver and I like to hike to a local look out spot.

If rising early is out of the question, opt for the sunset option. If hiking a mountain trail seems like an unrealistic option for you, we have found that lakes are also a great place to reflect! (pun intended)

What are these warmer options I spoke about earlier? For those of you who are less enthused for this adventurous idea, park at a local sunset location and talk in the heat of the car! As long as you’re talking and watching the sun go down or up, you’ve completed the task.

Sunrise/sunset dates are hands down some of the most cherished dates I’ve had with my husband. Don’t let the year go by without giving this date a shot.

**Helpful hint: Be sure to use an app or Google to research the time the sun rises or sets in your area and plan accordingly. Partly sunny days emit the best color. Completely sunny days are your next best option. If it’s completely cloudy outside, you’ll never see it. Trust me, we’ve tried.

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This concludes our 12 dates of Christmas!

We love hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment, ask questions, or say hello. You can keep up with our holiday experiences on  Instagram at @OakAndEarth and on my personal Instagram BethanyMPoteet. While I have listed some great options for couples, you can get a list of more family oriented ideas by visiting Tera’s latest post HERE! We have more Christmas posts to follow, so stay tuned.

Happy Holidays!

-Bethany <3

 

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Make Christmas Memorable for Your Family While Keeping it Simple

Merry Christmas season, readers! It’s Tera here on Oak and Earth today. This time of year is by far my favorite, for so many reasons! It is a time for family, a time of giving, a whole season of yummy foods, a time for Christmas lights and hot chocolate, and most of all a time to celebrate and remember the true reason for the season: the birth of our Lord and Savior! I have the most special memories of the holidays from my childhood years, and the excitement and fun my family had during the Christmas season has most certainly carried on in me into adulthood!

 I was reflecting recently on Christmas time and my own little family, and I tried to think of ways to make this a memorable time of year for Norah (and us), while keeping our main focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not getting wrapped up in the common mindset of, “more is more.” I want to instill meaningful and treasured memories into Norah’s core for Christmas time that teach her what principles are important to have and to pass down, and that will tug her heart strings (in a good way) for years to come. Simple moments that create a lifelong impact. So, I have created a list of some simple things you can do as a family that will make great memories, give quality time, and can respect even the most frugal holiday budget. I’m sharing my list below, and I hope you can be inspired for your family by some of these ideas! ‘Tis the season!

1.   Christmas Lights Outing  

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Downtown Siloam Springs, AR

This is an easy way for you and yours to have some fun during the Christmas season! My family would do this every year after our Christmas Eve service, but this is something you could do any time during December! Many of your local neighborhoods will have some fun light displays, or your downtown square (for us NWA folk, the Fayetteville square, for example). Some houses even connect their light displays with one of your local radio stations, and it’s really fun to see the lights flickering to the rhythm of the music! Your kids would love it if you all dressed in your comfy, festive Christmas pj’s, whipped up some hot chocolate, and hopped in your car together for a ride around town to see the pretty lights! It’s a nearly free activity (minus a little gas), and the kids will love starting this tradition with you!

 2.  Trim the Tree as a Family 

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My Christmas mantle in my pretty new house!!

Another fun memory I have from my childhood is helping my mom and siblings decorate our Christmas tree together each year! We would all get a new hallmark ornament every year to add to the collection. My own Christmas tree now is full of all of these ornaments (plus Jeremy’s and now Norah’s). There is something super special about those homemade ornaments and little hallmark collectibles that make a Christmas tree so sentimental and nostalgic! Pick a day where the whole family can be a part of this; and if you want to make a whole afternoon of it, visit a local tree nursery and choose a real tree to take home and decorate! The prices are usually very reasonable and it’s a fun and neat experience for the family. Set your tree up, stick some cookies in the oven, and choose a favorite Christmas movie to watch while you all have fun decorating (our tradition is The Polar Express). Let your little ones have a role in making the tree pretty! You can “touch up” some bare spots after they go to bed and disperse the ornaments that are stringing around the bottom half of your tree up and throughout (they’ll never know the difference), but, in the meantime, let them feel special and like they have an important part of this Christmas tradition! They’ll grow to love it, and their decorating skills should improve over the years ;). For the teeny tots who are still trying to grasp what a Christmas tree is, and from whom you’d like to spare some of your favorite glass ornaments from the game, “throw it on the floor,” try purchasing a mini tree and some plastic ornaments and set it up next to the big tree. We did this for Norah and let her decorate her special tree while we did the big tree and she loved it, (and we purchased her tree for $8)! Until they can better understand the concept of the ornaments and the tree, this is another way to get the littlest tots involved, and they’ll have their own special tree to decorate!

3.  Do an Advent Series Together 

Make some time during the month of December  for everyone to reflect on the ‘reason for the season’ by doing an advent series together. There is nothing more important that you can instill into your children’s hearts (or your own for that matter) than the love of Christ. Make sure in the hustle and bustle that your family stays grounded and that you make some quality time for this! I realize we are already part way through December, but this is something so important that I am adding it anyway to encourage you to do! You can play a little catch up, or just pick up where you are! It will help your whole family remember what matters most during Christmas, and you will instill this most important thing into your kids’ lives–and this is something you can’t put a price tag on! I am linking a great advent series for the whole family to partake in HERE. If you want to save money for budget purposes, there are some great online resources to pull verses and stories from to read each night as a family. Try doing this at a time where everyone is always together, like at the dinner table either before or after a meal (while everyone is still gathered). Making a routine like this is a good way to keep from having to try and squeeze it in at the end of the night while kids are dispersing to bed, or forgetting to do it altogether! After a long day at work or school, this is a great way to end each evening this month and will be so impactive on your kids’ hearts!

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My sweet little family at our church; New Life Church, Fayetteville

Free online resources:

4.  Christmas Cookie Decorating 

You can’t go wrong with a fun day of baking and decorating (and eating)! Tune in on your favorite Christmas pandora station, and you have a festive party right in your own kitchen! Google or Pinterest some easy sugar cookie recipes, pull the sprinkles from your pantry, and check Target’s Christmas aisles for some adorable (and cheap) Christmas cookie cutters! This is something you can do whether you have two or twelve people, and have fun doing it without breaking the bank! Take it to the next level on your baking day by trying a salt dough recipe and making some homemade ornaments that the kids can decorate and hang on the tree! This is a low stress, low cost way to get festive and celebrate the holidays, and will be a fun tradition the whole bunch can look forward to each year.

Fun cookie cutter set HERE ; Delicious sugar cookie recipe found HERE ; adorable and easy salt dough ornament recipe HERE !

5.  Christmas Caroling            

This is an outing to get your extended family and friends involved in! Take a big group around the neighborhood and sing some popular and well-known Christmas songs together! My family has not ever done this, but I think it sounds like a super fun way to spend an afternoon, and would love incorporating this into our yearly festivities! The more the merrier for this activity, so a little planning may be required to get the group together, but it would be well worth the effort, and would create fun memories for the whole family! End the night with some hot chocolate and a nice fire (because you can’t go wrong with hot chocolate)! This is a free way to lift people’s spirits and put a smile on their faces. If you want to go the extra mile this season, look into caroling at your local nursing home and share some love and Christmas cheer with our beloved elders…no one would love and appreciate it more! This is a totally free and fun way to get the whole family involved in some fun times together, and share some great memories!

6.   Gingerbread House Contest

  Nothing like some friendly competition to make for a fun night! You can purchase gingerbread house kits for fairly cheap at the store; why not buy two and make a friendly contest of boys vs. girls and have some fun?! You can have as small or as big of teams as you want, and that makes this activity super universal and accommodating to any family size! Spend the evening dressing your gingerbread houses up, and have some friends be the judge (without them knowing whose is whose). Let the winners choose the next Christmas movie for movie night, or spice it up with a bigger incentive for the winners! This is a tradition that your kids will want to repeat next year, and they’ll cherish their memories!

7.  Downtown Parade (or your town’s Christmas festivities)             

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Aren’t my besties totally adorable holding children?? 😉 We were able to enjoy the downtown parade together this year!

Going to our annual downtown Christmas parade is a tradition my family has held for years. It’s always a fun night of warm bundles, a hot drink in hand, and lots of pretty Christmas floats! Check your calendars for your town’s holiday festivities and make it a family affair! Bundle up, grab some extra blankets and a warm beverage (you know what would be great for this? Hot chocolate), and share some laughs together. If you missed this year’s, make it a goal to try it next year and start a new tradition together!

8.  “Christmas” Game Night

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“Louie” themed socks and hot cocoa are my secret to winning 😉

Here’s another fun idea for the entire family and even some of your friends to join in on! For the last few years, my husband’s side has done a fun game night together for our Christmas tradition, and it has been a huge hit! You can find some Christmas themed minute -to -win it games for your inspiration on Pinterest, or even google, and most of them look super fun! Get the group together, share some yummy snacks (and maybe some hot chocolate), split into teams, and let the laughs begin! What’s nice about these games, is that any supplies you may need can most always be found at the dollar store, so you can stretch your dollar and enjoy lots of games. Make your prizes as big or small as you want, or nix them all together and play just for the fun of it. There will be guaranteed a ton of laughs, and with or without the prizes, everyone will look forward to next year’s annual game night! Here are a few links to some very fun minute to win it ideas you can try:  Here , here , and here !

9.  Christmas Angels

Teach your kids the importance of giving during this holiday season. Magnify this and make it a higher priority than being on the receiving end. If we are honest, most of our kiddos who live in a warm and safe home do not really need much for Christmas! I’m not saying our kids don’t deserve gifts, or that we shouldn’t let them receive any. It’s so fun to watch Norah open her gifts and seeing her face light up! But, the more important thing we can give them is to teach them selfless love and share what we have with those who go without. Go to your nearest Christmas Angel tree and choose a couple angels to give a nice Christmas. Let your kids have a big part in choosing the Angels and the gifts. It’s important to show our kids that there are some big needs in our communities, and that they can have a part in making Christmas special for someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the same experience. Partake as a family in spreading love this season, and make it a tradition to give to others in a very tangible way every Christmas! If you don’t have Christmas Angel trees in your area, research some places that you can donate items and help make Christmas special for someone else!

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Here is our littlest angel, to give you all the feels!! *sigh*

10.  Wise Men Gifts

One principle we really want to keep incorporated into our Christmas as a family is simplicity. The excessiveness that is so common during this time of year we believe takes away from the specialness and “sacredness” that simplicity holds. Keep your gift giving simple with your kiddos this year by trying the Wise Men Gift method. This is a concept I first heard from Oak and Earth’s Bethany, whose family started doing this several years ago. Whether your budget is $3,000 or $300, this is a concept that you can easily incorporate into your family’s traditions. It’s very simple: each kid (and/or spouse) would receive just three gifts, and their stockings. You can arrange them however you choose; two smaller gifts and one big gift, three small gifts, one “Santa” gift, and two from you–there’s no method to it other than keeping the number simple with 3. We loved the idea and decided to start this tradition with Norah! It’s an awesome way to keep the sweetness of Christmas time by not drowning our kids (and our finances) in “more.” Our little ones will expect only what they are used to when it comes to gifts, so why not start this tradition now and keep your gift giving sweet and simple. 

If you want more ideas for gift giving methods, here are a few others you can try:

  • Do the “4 gifts” (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read)
  • For older kids (this is what we do for my husband’s side), draw names and each person gets one person a gift or two.
  • Sock exchange (buy your kids some christmas socks and fill them up with goodies, much like a stocking), or just their stockings!
  • Encourage your kids to read and grow their imaginations by giving books for gifts!
  • If you are opting for “no gifts” this year, try donating to a charity in honor of each of your children. It’s a great way to give back and will be a special way to honor your kids.

I absolutely love getting to start new traditions with Norah, and I’m excited to start with some of these ideas together as a family! Keeping our holidays sweet and simple by focusing more on the memories and fun, and less on the “things” will hopefully create a special place in Norah’s heart for this time of year, much like it did for me! I hope I have given you some ideas that you can start incorporating into your family festivities each year too! No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, try to do some fun things as a family that will make it memorable for everyone!  If you want some fun and creative date ideas to do with your special someone, make sure to check back in a couple days for Bethany’s “12 Dates of Christmas” post coming soon! Also be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth this month, as we have several holiday inspired posts that we can’t wait to show you!! Follow me on Instagram @terapianalto if you don’t already, so you can stay informed on all of our blog happenings, and make sure to hashtag any Oak and Earth experiences you have with #OakandEarthBlog. We love your feedback and would love to know what you would like to see us write about on here! We’ll do our best to try out your ideas! Wishing you the sweetest and merriest Christmas yet!


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Happy Month of December, and Holiday’s best,

Tera (with Jeremy and Norah, and Louie)   -xo

Becoming a Weekend Warrior

Hello!

My name is Bethany, and you can learn a little more about me in the “About” page of our blog. I’ll be making all different types of blog posts (adventures, cooking, how to’s, music, art, fashion, life battles, stresses and more).This first post explains a life transition I have made. I’m on the slow road to happier life, and it starts with the weekend! In the post below, I give a bit of info on my lifestyle change, why I chose this path, what I consider a “Weekend Warrior”, and 11 steps to becoming one. Enjoy.

Meet me ( Bethany):

Me and a Mocha. A divine relationship.

Meet the husband (Denver):

Denver. I call husband.

Meet our marriage. (The Poteets)

Coffee

My Lifestyle Change:

This is my marriage of nearly two years. We both have college degrees, bills, and day to day stresses. What we DON’T posses is the mundane desire to stay in one place and do the same thing every day. What we DO have is the itch and passion to do things differently. So, we do. What do I mean by differently?

For a while I was feeling depressed about living every day the same way: Wake up early, go to work, come home to make dinner, eat said dinner, watch Netflix, sleep (or try to ), and repeat. Occasionally there would be some Olive Garden thrown in the mix (crazy, I know), or some frisbee. Most week days were the same. Week days are busy and tiring, because the bills must be paid! So then what about the weeekends? I suppose we did typical married couple activities. The thing is, I  don’t think we’re particularly typical. One day I found myself asking,  why follow the pattern that society puts directly in front of you? This is when I learned that there is no right way to live your life. Life is not absolute.

The Pizza Theory

It’s like society tells you it’s time for dinner and the only thing to eat is plain pizza. What “the man” doesn’t tell you is that there are so many toppings that make life delicious! Better yet, you don’t have to eat pizza at all. In fact, you can eat dinner any time you want. So why do we always choose what society puts in front of us (plain pizza)? If it were so simple to live life on different trajectories, wouldn’t everybody? Living differently is not easy. You will face questions and hurdles. What you need to remember is that the life you live is what you create.

Why have I chosen a new path?

“20 Somethings”, as we are so often called, have a few different paths we tend follow. There is nothing wrong with any of these normal paths. I graduated college with a BA degree in Corporate Communication and a minor in Art in 2013. After college I went straight to work, and I had a great job. What I struggled with for years was feeling like my creativity was locked in a cage. I like to play music, paint, take pictures, hike, and write. My husband likes to do many of the same things, meaning I was not alone in this struggle. I felt as if I was not dedicating any time to my hobbies, let alone my passions. So why the change and how did it occur?

My husband and I moved states (a discussion for another post). The move was only about two hours away from where we were first located. With this transition I found it hard to find a job. I have had a lot of time to consider what makes up a life. I haven’t quite made the life I desire, but I am finally making steps toward it. My husband works full time, and we are often busy during the week. So why not take weekends and create steps toward a happier or more fulfilling life? A life full of many pizza toppings, if you will. For Denver and I, that meant dedicating time specifically for creative activities. Since this change, we have traveled, gone to concerts, hiked, biked, climbed, painted, made music, worked on video games, and made time for friends and family–we are becoming Weekend Warriors.

What does being a “Weekend Warrior” mean to me?

A Weekend Warrior breaks the mold of the average 20 Something individual. For me this means going the extra mile to achieve short term goals and to fulfill creative desires. It is not for those who tire easily. These steps are helping me get over repetition and mundane behavior. So if you’re looking to mix up your life and achieve some small goals, you might be able to realistically apply these to your weekend. While this phrase does have the word “weekend” in it, I am aware that some people do not have weekend off. If this is the case, apply the steps below to the time you do have off. If you prefer to chase bullet points, short cuts, and pictures, this next part is for you. These are my magic steps. 

11 STEPS TO BECOMING A WEEKEND WARRIOR

1) Stop accepting plain pizza. (Plain pizza theory explained above)

This first step starts by realizing what you want your life to be. We only have one. So what would you like  to improve on? What do you miss during the week that you really wish you had time for? If you want more out of life than what people typically accept, you’re already on the right path to become a Weekend Warrior.

2) Pick some rad activities, and practice your hobbies!

For my husband and I, we love to go outdoors. We love to do this because it feeds our creative bones. When I am writing music or painting, surrounding myself in nature is key. Nature is inspiring, and it keeps you thinking. We are also dedicating more time to practice our hobbies! This might mean a night of jamming on the guitar or painting. For Denver it usually means working on video game development. Whatever it might be, make sure you fit it into your weekend at least once.

Reach DenveronClouds

3) Get a partner(s) in crime.

Even if you do some of these activities by yourself, let someone you’re close to in on your change. They might want to come along with you. If they don’t, they might encourage you to keep going when you feel like slipping back into mundane life. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you in your endeavors is necessary.

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4) Kill your phone.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic. Something we have learned to do is to leave our phones on silent, stash them away, or don’t bring them at all. Sometimes I’ll turn my phone on airplane mode so it makes it impossible to get on the internet during my activities. When we hike we like to take pictures. So we will take our camera and phone and capture some amazing things we want to remember, and then we shut everything down. A moment of silence can go a long way. It can be easy for a phone or camera to ruin your experience. Don’t forget to be in the moment.

5) Be prepared to be exhausted. (Totally worth it)

So for many activities we start early and end late. Part of living the weekend to the fullest is being tired.  What helps is planning it out to have a day to recoup. Having a recoup day doesn’t always happen. If you can’t get this recoup time, you can’t complain. It’s a part of it.

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6) Make good Playlists.

Playlists can drive any weekend home. A really good playlist can put you in the mood to achieve great things. Trust me. (Future posts include some tunes I’ll recommend, and how they can amp up every day activities).

7) Be willing to drive…a lot.

We have gone from Arkansas to Colorado and back in one weekend (12 hours one way). We have also done this with Austin, Texas in one weekend  (9 hours one way). Both driving expeditions were to travel to see my favorite artist LIGHTS. They were both tiring but incredibly epic weekends. These endeavors are incredibly exhausting and induce a lot of driving, but it’s worth it to get to see something or do something you’ve always wanted to do. Sometimes we just have to work with the time given. These particular weekends were planned out, and the trip to Colorado required asking a half day off of work on Friday to kick it off. Life is too short to not go the distance. It helps that Denver and I enjoy driving.

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8) Be able to deviate from your original plan. (shiz-stuff happens)
Remember that you have to go the extra mile to obtain greatness. This is why being a Weekend Warrior is not for everybody. It’s not for people who require a lot of sleep, and it’s not for people who will break down if the plans don’t pan out perfectly (definitely guilty of that). When you’re doing multiple activities, the weather doesn’t always flow accordingly. When you get up and drive to see the sunrise and it rains so much you can’t see the sun, or when you’re hitting an ice storm on the way home from Austin, put in some awesome tunes and thank God for all the blessings in your life. Learn to laugh and go with the flow. Yes, these are real life occurrences during our adventures.

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 9) Face some fears.

Take this time to strive for something you have never done. Do something you’ve been too scared to do. Go places you’ve never been.

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10) Fulfill random thoughts.

You know when you have a thought like:
What if we got waffles right now?
What if we make a fort??
What if we leave said fort up for 2 months?
Want to sleep on the floor?
Do you want to go watch the sunrise in the morning?
Do you want to have a picnic?

DO THESE THINGS. My motto is–random thoughts are good thoughts.

12) End on the basics.
When my husband and I were choosing activities, we decided to go back to basics. What makes you inherently and uncontrollably happy? Forget what other people are doing. Live your life the way you desire, and take pride in being different. What makes you happy?

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I hope this helps you think outside the box a little. These steps can easily be adapted to different lifestyles. Get on the road to a happier and more creative you. I am open for questions, and I would love to get to know you!  If you end up doing anything different with your weekends, let me know! I would love to hear about your adventures. I’ll end with this quote from my favorite musician:

“You have to be uncomfortable in order to be successful, in some ways. Because if you stay in your comfort zone, you would never do the things that you need to do.” -LIGHTS

Peace, love, and rocketships.

-Bethany