Building a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime (from a not-so-perfect wife)

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 13, 2015

I remember my Grandmother telling me before my wedding, and just after she and my Grandfather celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, that I did not yet know true love. She explained that making it through hard times together would intensify my love for Ray, but ultimately loving him would be a daily choice. I couldn’t imagine then that I would ever not have loving feelings towards Ray, or even that I could love him any more than I already did, but I can say with all certainty that my Grandma was right.

Our journey, mine and Ray’s, has not always been easy. There have been many bumps in the road, huge potholes, and quite a few hills. We certainly didn’t expect marriage to be easy, and we knew it would take work to maintain a healthy relationship, but we didn’t quite expect to be traveling down the road we have traveled thus far.

Thankfully we have had many great people, like my Grandmother, share priceless nuggets of wisdom over the years. These gems are what got us through the the last 15 years. While I know we have much to learn, I would like to share what we have learned thus far, mostly due to trial and error.

Building a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime

Make your spouse a priority

With seven kids, and our own businesses, it can be easy to forget about making each other a priority. As soon as we start to feel disconnected, Ray and I make an extra effort to re-establish our bond. At times this means simply a quick lunch date, and at other times we feel the need to go away alone for an entire weekend. For us, praying and being in God’s Word does wonders for our connection. With Christ as our center, we have more of a desire to put each other first.

Talk it out

Don’t let issues fester and build up until you explode, as I am so often tempted to do. It’s important to talk about what you are feeling, when you have these feelings. Regular and consistent communication helps prevent misconceptions and insures you are both on the same page.

Cultivate trust

You simply can not have a healthy marriage without trust. The trust Ray and I have for each other has not always been strong. There have been times when I didn’t think I could trust him, and times that he broke the trust I did place in him. Ultimately, Ray is my best friend and I am there for him through thick and thin, as I know he is for me. I’ve failed him many times, but the assurance that he has the same trust in me is very important to me.


You will mess up. You will hurt and disappoint each other. Admitting when you are wrong and choosing forgiveness will strengthen the bond you have as a married couple and increase your trust in one another.

Always sleep together

I have heard many people claim they never go to bed angry with their spouse, but  in our 15 years of marriage I can honestly say that it hasn’t always been possible. And, for us, that’s been okay. There have been issues that we’ve had to deal with and heal from that require more time than what would have been allowed in one day. That said, I only remember one occasion in which we did not sleep in the same bed (sans when one of us was traveling). There have certainly been plenty of nights when there was no touching, or even talking, and we slept the entire night with our backs to each other (or didn’t even sleep at all). No matter how I felt about the situation with which we were dealing, however, I knew my husband was there with me and wasn’t going anywhere. That was a great comfort, even in the midst of trial.

Do your own thing

I enjoy my husband’s company and often choose to spend time with him in a way I may not find to be the most enjoyable – like watching a soccer game on tv…ahem. While it’s key to cultivate similar interests and hobbies in a marriage, I believe it’s equally important to remember that it’s more than okay to have your own interests. Ray is great about encouraging me to pursue what I enjoy even if it doesn’t include him, and I am so grateful for that!

Don’t air your dirty laundry

In the age of social media and over sharing, this one is tough. Many Facebook updates and blog posts have been typed out in frustration, only to be deleted after realizing that airing my dirty laundry would cause more damage than good. Instead of going public with our problems, we have been pretty good about keeping them between us. If we need counsel or prayer, we will talk to a trusted friend instead of turning to our social channels.

Choose to love

To make a marriage last a lifetime, remember that feelings ebb and flow. When those warm and fuzzy feelings of lust and desire fade, you must choose to love. Just as my Grandmother advised me, I choose every day to love Ray, even when I don’t really like him.

I could go on and on, but I’d love to hear from you… What words of wisdom do YOU have to add?


Cheese and Olive Stuffed Chicken {Recipe}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 7, 2015

As you may know, Ray loves to cook. He finds being in the kitchen very therapeutic and makes quite the production out of making us all a meal, be it breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. I, on the other hand, am always looking for ways to cut my time in the kitchen short… unless I am baking.

When I was introduced to Pearl Olives to Go!, I instantly began thinking of ways I could use these cups of yummy goodness to make time in the kitchen a bit easier. They come in a variety of flavors, including Kalamata (my fave for snacking) and even sliced black. All are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, trans-fat-free, GMO-free, vegan and Kosher –  what healthier way to snack on the go? Of course, these individual cups are perfect to throw in the kids lunch, or even my purse, for a quick snack, but they do make using them in salads, main dishes, and more, that much easier.

Find Pearl Olives to Go! at Walmart – in stores only.

 photo Cheese and Olive Stuffed ChickenWe recently made a delicious chicken breast stuffed with provolone cheese and black olives. Oh, my! SO GOOD!! Here’s what we did.

Cheese and Olive Stuffed Chicken - step by step photo Cheese and Olive Stuffed Chicken - step by stepGather your ingredients:
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
2 Pearls Olives to Go single serve cups, chopped black (Or you could use the sliced black olives, to make it easy!)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large egg white
1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare Cheese Mixture:
Combine shredded provolone, chopped black olives, and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare Chicken Breasts:
Slice each breast horizontally, nearly through.
Add cheese mixture to each sliced chicken breast.
Beat egg white, dip closed chicken breast, and dredge in breadcrumbs.
Heat oil over in a large nonstick skillet medium-high heat.
Add chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes.

Transfer chicken to the prepared baking sheet, browned-side up, and bake until it is no longer pink in the center – about 25 minutes.

All of my kiddos loved the cheese and olive stuffed chicken. In fact, we didn’t make enough and ran out! I’d like to make a yummy sauce to top the chicken, or perhaps just add more cheese next time. But, we all agreed – This was a pretty tasty meal!

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


6 Ways to Rediscover That Lovin’ Feeling

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 6, 2015

I’ve always loved Ray with a very sincere and passionate love, but it felt for a bit as though we had “lost that lovin’ feeling.” I suppose it could have been the fact that I was either pregnant or nursing for the majority of the first eight years of our mariage. Or, perhaps, it was stress over finances and the cares of running a household of so many. I suspect, though, that it was as simple as taking each other for granted and losing sight of why we fell in love so many years ago.

Falling in love again with your spouse is definitely possible. Ray and I are proof. Recently there was a major shift in our relationship. We, once again, feel like giddy newlyweds and are often mistaken for such when we’re out on our bi-monthly dates. I believe it’s because we’ve made each other a priority, we take time for meaningful conversations, and we’ve just plain relaxed.

What else?

Texting – When I receive a quick “thinking about you” or “i love you” text from Ray it immediately brings a smile to my face. This simple act can go a long way to let your spouse know that you care. It’s fun to get creative with your messages, too!

Handwritten love notes – Before the age of iMessage, email and Facebook, Ray and I got to know each other through hand-written letters. Now, many years later, little notes, sometimes scrawled out in a hurry, brings back those warm memories of young love.

“Parking” dates – It’s easy to get in a rut on date nights. A friend, just the other day, recommended ordering fast food and finding a great place to “park.” With the music turned down low, just go with the flow and relax together.

Going away together - Ray and I are big believers in taking time away to focus on each other. In addition to our regular date nights, we try to go away for a night or two at least once a month. This mini-vacation restores intimacy and proves to each other that our marriage is a priority. It also shows our children know that we  value alone time.

Quickies – I know what you are thinking, but I am referring to just a quick phone call, a brief visit to the office, or just a quiet time out in the evening to focus on each other. It doesn’t have to be long, but proving to each other that nothing is more important is so necessary for a healthy marriage.

Reminiscing – I recently sat for hours and looked through old letters, cards, and photos from early in our marriage. Seeing our raw emotions and feelings expressed in words brought back that warm feeling of joy and happiness. Reminiscing together about your firsts as a couple is sure to spark some pleasant conversations.

How do you and your spouse keep the spark alive in your marriage?

photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor via photopin cc, text added


Spring Refresh #WearWalmart

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on March 31, 2015

It’s been quite some time since I’ve worn a dress. I mean, I love to wear skirts, but my typical busy mom attire in the Spring is jeans or capris and a tank. So, I was excited to find some cute and flattering dresses on

 photo #WearWalmart Spring Refresh

So, I did what I needed to do and freshened up my closet for Spring with the hottest new styles from Walmart. I even chose some t-shirts and a wrap. I am totally digging the bright colors and comfortable fabrics.

Spring Refresh #WearWalmart

I wore the belted skater lace dress (shown above – mine is in turquoise) to church on Sunday and my husband and older boys were so complimentary when they saw me… I felt so purty!

The floral kimono will add a very flirty touch to my typical capri and tank ensemble. It will dress it up a bit and get me out of my fashion rut.

Does your wardrobe need a spring refresh? Be sure to head to Walmart first!

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Easter Goodies at Walmart

March 27, 2015

My kids and I just had a fun little tasting… We are trying to guess the Mystery Flavored Peeps. Have you tried them? What did you think? Personally I thought they tasted like a tangy kiwi-strawberry. Yum! My kiddos were way in to this taste-testing session. There were many giggles, let me tell ya! They […]

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Family Movie Night :: Annie

March 17, 2015

Movie night is one of our favorite nights to spend as a family. We pop popcorn, make hot chocolate, and snuggle up on our much-to-small-for-us couches, eager to view a new story. Most often that story is fun and crazy; something we watch and enjoy, but we get much more from the movies that teach […]

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LUVS Super Absorbent Diapers {Review}

March 16, 2015

I was very particular about the diapers I used with each of my babies, but it differed with each one. Julia was my LUVS baby, and boy how I wish their Super Absorbent diapers were available to us then! They are up to 15% more absorbent than regular LUVS, have a contoured shape for a great fit, and have […]

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Easter Candy Baskets {DIY}

March 15, 2015

I have always been a sucker for sweets, especially sour gummies. They are my downfall, I must admit. In spite of trying hard not to have too many sweets in the house, I figured it IS Easter. And what makes a better basket than the goodies themselves? So, Julia and I set out to make […]

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Easy Easter Pudding Cups

March 14, 2015

My kids have always loved to play with me in the kitchen. With Easter coming up, I decided to let them help me create a special treat. They like to call them “dirt cups”, after a dessert served at their favorite restaurant, because that is exactly what they look like! They all helped me shop for […]

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5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

March 5, 2015

As a mom of seven, I know how difficult it is to get a good night’s sleep. Trust me, I’ve had many sleepless nights. But, there is hope! It’s even possible to help promote a restful night’s sleep for your kiddos. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to try my 5 tips to a better night’s […]

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2015 Beauty Trend: Coconut Oil

February 28, 2015

Did you know that coconut oil has some pretty amazing uses? Not only is is great for cooking, but it is wonderful for skin, hair, and nails. I prefer to use unrefined, cold-pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil and Walmart carries one of my favorite brands – Nature’s Way. It’s nice and creamy and doesn’t taste too […]

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What’s in Your Closet? #WearWalmart

February 26, 2015

My wardrobe consists of a few basics that change as the seasons change. As we near Spring and warmer weather, I pull out my tank tops, basic tees, and maxi skirts. In addition to my favorite jeans that I wear all year ’round, I am set, but every now and then I like to add […]

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Laundry Made Simple

February 23, 2015

We have long been fans of Tide. I just don’t trust any other brand to do the job needed to clean the clothes, sports equipment, and linens for six rough and tumble boys. With Tide Pods, laundry is made simple with the lack of measuring or scooping. But, what’s more is that each pod contains […]

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Five of Christian Grey’s 50 Shades We Should Be Discussing (Instead of Sex and Bondage)

February 11, 2015

I have a confession to make. I read the 50 Shades of Grey books. All 3 of them. In spite of the horrible writing, and the fact that I skimmed through at least 1/3 of the contents, I devoured the books. Now, several years later, I am reading all of these articles that are vehemently against […]

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Orange Chocolate Bath Soak

February 10, 2015

What better way to gift someone special than with spa-like goodies that calms, relaxes, and soothes? Homemade bath salts and soaks make a great gift for teachers, friends, and loved ones this Valentine’s Day. The best part is that they are super easy and, with only 2-3 ingredients, relatively inexpensive to make. So, instead of buying a […]

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My Invisalign Experience

February 9, 2015

A guest post by Ethan Young When my mom told me that I would possibly be getting Invisalign to correct my crowded teeth, I was a bit worried. I was afraid it would hurt, kids at school would make fun of me, the aligners would be irritating when I eat and frustrating to clean. But, […]

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Scrapbook Your Way Through the New Year

January 26, 2015

I used to make scrapbooks. In fact, I have one for each of my twins’ first year. I may even have one for Julia’s… It’s been so long, I honestly don’t remember. My goal was to create a book for each year, even if it was a family album. I would spend hours and hours cutting, […]

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Top 5 Shows for Preschoolers #StreamTeam

January 25, 2015

Timothy is the only kiddo home with me during the day, while all of his siblings are at school. Often he gets quite bored with me and Bella, and I resort to putting on a Netflix show or two for him in the afternoon. Of course, he has his favorites, but fortunately his favorites are mostly entertaining […]

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Stay Fit and Feel Better

January 23, 2015

I always feel best when I am most active. Unfortunately, with the holidays and such, I wasn’t able to work out at the gym as regularly as I’d like. I was, however, able to do some simple stretches and exercises at home just to stay fit, so I would feel my best. Simple Stretches: Neck Roll Shoulder […]

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The Holidays Have Come and Gone

January 6, 2015

If you are anything like me, you hate to see the holidays go. After all of the planning, prep, fun, and excitement, the regular everyday busyness of life takes over again and the holidays become just a memory. This year, mainly because of our pending move, but also maybe because we bought a dead live tree, […]

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Ring in the New Year with King Julien #StreamTeam

December 30, 2014

Our “grown ups only” plans for ringing in the New Year fell through, so we are spending a quiet evening here at home with the kiddos. Are you spending New Year’s Eve with your kids, like we are? If so, I have some great news – Netflix and Kind Julien have made it possible to […]

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Drunk Gummy Bears

December 28, 2014

Are you looking for a tasty last-minute addition to your New Year’s Eve plans? Well, look no further, because I have the perfect thing – Drunk Gummy Bears! They are incredibly simple to make, requiring only a couple of ingredients most you will be able to gather at your local Walmart. There are just a […]

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