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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Candy Bartering: get the candy you love, get rid of the junk

This post is the final one in a series of five posts that I've published this month teaching you how to maximize the amount of candy you (or your kids) collect this Halloween. In case you've missed any of them the four prior posts are linked to here for your convenience.

  1. Trick-or-Treating: From A to Z
  2. How to Pick the Best Neighborhoods: Go Where the Candy Is
  3. Going Out Properly Equipped: What You Need to Be Successful
  4. Logistics: How to Coordinate the Efforts of Your Trick-or-Treaters
Assuming that you followed the advice I've given this month tomorrow night there should be TONS of candy at your home, probably more than you've ever seen on any one Halloween before. That's wonderful! The mistake that many make at this point is assuming that trick-or-treating is over. The final and best part is still ahead.

It's time to make sure you get as much of your favorite candy as possible. Let the bartering begin!

Bartering is an ancient method of exchanging value. In days gone by (thousands of years ago) bartering was the only way to get something that you didn't have but needed or wanted. If your neighbor had a chicken that you needed a chicken then you would ask him what he wanted for it. He would tell you a gallon of milk. If you didn't have a cow you would need to find someone with a cow and give them what they wanted in order to get the milk. Then you could exchange the milk for the chicken. Get it? That's bartering.

Today, bartering isn't very common as most economies in the world use a form of currency that connotes value (e.g. the dollar, pound, yen) and we trade the currency for the things that we need and want. Currency simplifies trading because we don't have to barter.

When you are trick-or-treating you take whatever candy the kind trick-or-treatee provides. However, it may not be what you actually want. I can't remember the number of times I received Milky Ways or Three Musketeers (they're okay) when I really wanted a Snickers (my favorite candy bar). At the end of the trick-or-treating I have two options: 1) settle for what I got and be thankful, or, 2) barter with it. That is what we're talking about today. Bartering best-practices.

First, you need a strategy. Here are some questions to consider as you develop your strategy:
  • What candy do you REALLY want to end up with? 
  • What is it worth to you (what will you trade for it)? 
  • What is the candy you have worth to those you're bartering with? 
I would have gladly traded two packages of Smarties for one Snickers but would NOT have traded two Three Musketeers for one Snickers because a Three Musketeers is worth more than that. I would trade all of my suckers for a couple of KitKats though. I recommend selecting your top five favorite candies and building your strategy around them. If you can ascertain what other peoples favorites are it gives you more insight during your negotiations.

Second, get rid of what you don't want. If you don't like the candy don't keep it. Be willing to trade it for something that you like more even if it isn't one of your favorites (but only if you can't get one of your favorites). Too often we get held up on the quantity of candy we have. At this point it's more about the quality of the candy you have.

Third, decide for yourself what a fair exchange is BEFORE you begin bartering. Are two gumballs worth a Reese's? What about a Snickers? How many suckers would you need to get to make losing that Snickers worth it? Set an "exchange rate" in your mind before you begin negotiations.

Some tips on negotiating. Remember, it is not a zero sum game (that means that only one party can win). You negotiate so that both parties win. Offer something to the other person that is of value to them so that you can receive something of value to you. When you're done all parties should walk away satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation. If they don't, then you weren't negotiating, you were bullying. Don't bully.

That's it. I've shared with you all of my trick-or-treating secrets. If you have any questions leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer them (I will be traveling tomorrow so I won't be in front of the computer all day but I'll get back to you as soon as I can). Also, I would love to hear how it goes (the trick-or-treating). Please tell me. :)

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

$200 ToysRUs Gift Card Giveaway

Christmas is just around the corner. Here's a chance to make your Christmas a little less burdensome on your family's finances. Good luck!
Hosted by:  

Co-Hosted by:

One lucky winner will win 

$200 Gift Card for Toysrus

Dates:  October 29 12:01am to November 19 11:59pm.

US Resident Only

We appreciate the support of our co-hosts, please show your support by following them on their social medias pages.

Disclaimer: is not responsible for the awarding of the prize.  NYSavingSpecials is responsible for prize fulfillment.  If you have any question about this giveaway, please email the host at nysavingspecials

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Inner Child: How to Have More Fun

We all have an inner child. They're in there, sometimes buried really deep, but they're in there dying to play. Remember playing make-believe? Pretending to run a store? What about being an astronaut or an archaeologist? Right now my boys are big into the dinosaur thing. For the last few weeks they go out into our yard each morning to look for dinosaur bones. According to them they've even found a few.

Photo courtesy of Vial Photography
If you can't recall what it felt like to be a kid go to the nearest park and just sit and watch the kids playing. It doesn't matter how hot or cold it is, whether it's sunny or overcast, or even if they have friends to play with little kids will find a way to have fun. Just sit and watch them for a while.

Now, what happened to you? Where did that fun little person that you used to be go? I bet he or she is still inside of you. Here's how to get them to come out.

First, this is most fun to do with your spouse. Little kids can have fun by themselves but the fun is magnified many times when they play together. Make a date night out of it.

Get out the coloring books and a box of crayons. Color a picture for each other.

Pick a game for young children, like Candy Land or Sorry, and play. Other game options are go fish, war, and crazy eights.

While playing make-believe might be pushing it, if you're so inclined and so is your spouse try it! Have a sword fight. Pretend to be pirates. Play doctor (though this may lead to more adult games). Use your imagination and be creative. Think like a kid.

When you play like a kid your marriage is strengthened in three ways:

  1. You create shared memories. These are happy times you can look back on, especially when life is hard, and remember how much fun your spouse and being married can be. It will give you hope.
  2. You laugh and have fun. Having fun will relax you and your spouse and diffuse and tension that may have built up. The theory is, and it's true, that the happier and relaxed you are the less likely you will be to find fault with one another. Fewer disagreements and more happiness in your marriage.
  3. You strengthen the trust in your marriage. This is especially true when you play make-believe. Acting like a kid can be embarrassing so when you do you're showing your spouse you trust them not to make fun of or belittle you and vice-versa. You strengthen your relationship of trust this way.
Cami loves to color so from time to time I try to sit down and color with her. Coloring helps her relax. And an added bonus is that I get to spend time to her. We can talk while we color or just sit silently next to each other. It really is quite relaxing to color with Cami.

The short of it: the secret to having more fun is to play like a child.

I think I'm going to go get in my rocket ship now.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm headed to Las Vegas

It's bitter-sweet traveling without my family. On the one hand it's kind of nice not having to lug around what seems like a hundred bags and suitcases and strollers and car seats for the kids. On the other hand I don't have my best friend with me (Cami) or the kids so it's a little lonely.

Nevertheless, I am on my way to Las Vegas right now and will there until Wednesday. I will be attending a conference out there for my job and I'm excited. I haven't been to Vegas in more than a decade and it will be neat to see it again.

Any suggestions of what I should do or see while I'm there?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Too Close to Home: Male Labor Pains

This video is quite funny, however, it hits a little close to home as my wife and I went through this just three months ago (she does think it's funny though).

I also want to declare that if this technology existed I would use it to help my wife because I love her and would do anything to help, protect, and provide for her.

I'm glad it doesn't exist though. :)

 I'm curious, would you use this technology if it existed? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Marriages Show Some Respect

In August I wrote a post entitled "80 Percent of Divorces are Filed By Women" in which I discussed this statistic that I had recently come across and what I thought about it. I encouraged husbands to work a little harder at keeping their wives happy. I recommend doing a few small and simple things like telling her you love her and supporting her in her pursuits. It was a pretty good post. :)

I received a couple of comments on the post (I really appreciate those of you who take the time to share with me, I love to read your comments). One of them was from a man named Jack. I am so grateful that Jack stopped by and left his comment. It has caused me to do some serious reflecting and led to a few very good conversations with Cami.

Jack, thank you! I appreciate your honesty and candor. I want to respond directly to your comment with this post. I have never done this before so know that your comment really is appreciated and I would love to hear your response to what I am about to say.

To summarize the comment (you can read it in full on the post), Jack asked whether men not treating their wives as well as they ought might be caused by the woman not showing the proper respect for her husband. I agree, this can certainly be a downward spiral. The wife is disrespectful to her husband therefore he responds in kind which lessens what respect his wife still has for him and she acts accordingly so the husband reciprocates, and on and on it goes until divorce is imminent.

I do think this does happen. It is sad and unfortunate and nearly always was never the intention of either party but by the end neither has any respect for the other and so they dissolve their union. Jack referred to this death spiral as "chicken and egg". Let me deviate for just a moment.

When I was a teenager someone posed the question to me "which came first the chicken or the egg?" I had heard the question many times before and the arguments in favor and against both options. I really didn't know the answer but in that moment it came to me. It was obvious. Drawing on what I had learned in Sunday School I responded "the rooster." That stumped the questioner. So I explained.

If you ask was the woman or the child created first the answer is the woman. We know this from the Bible. However, the woman wasn't really first, she was just before the child and helped make the child possible. The man was actually first. Therefore, it stands to reason that the rooster was actually first, then the chicken, then the egg (so technically the answer is the chicken but I stand by my rooster answer).

Now don't take my teenage response as doctrine, it was just the thought of a boy. But the same out-of-the-box thinking can be applied in this case. Whose fault is the divorce? Or more specifically, who started the disrespect? The rooster did. Just kidding. It doesn't matter who started it (though I still believe it will nearly always be the man, albeit generally unintentionally). What matters is that it doesn't continue, that it isn't perpetuated.

So, in response to Jack's suggestion that a lack of respect is the problem, I wholeheartedly concur. However, it is a husband's responsibility to love his wife and treat her with the respect that she deserves as his wife (whether or not he feels she deserves it). And, conversely, it is a wife's responsibility to show her husband the proper respect. The key (or the rooster) is that no matter what my wife does or does not do it cannot and will not excuse me from my responsibility to respect her.

Jack, thank you again for your comment. I would love to hear more of your thoughts.

And to the rest of you, you must have some thoughts about this. I want to hear them. Please share them with me by leaving a comment (**big puppy dog eyes**).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Logistics: how to coordinate the efforts of your trick-or-treaters

Traditional trick-or-treating requires little preparation and planning. Typically selecting and procuring a costume are the extent of it. Then you walk around your neighborhood, knock on a few doors, and bring home a few pieces of candy.

This Halloween I'm on a mission to help open your eyes to the possibilities of all the wonder and satisfaction that the holiday can hold. The key: competition.

This is the fourth post in a series of five explaining the well kept secrets of the most successful trick-or-treaters. If you have missed the first three posts you'll need to review them along with this one in order to fully understand what you need to do dramatically increase your candy collection this year (Halloween is next Thursday and Cami and I still need to get the boys' costumes together!).

Here's what we've already discussed:
  1. Trick-or-Treating: From A to Z. The back story to how I acquired this trick-or-treating wisdom I am sharing with you.
  2. How to Pick the Best Neighborhoods: Go Where the Candy Is. Location, location, location. Selecting the right place to trick-or-treat will make or break the night.
  3. Going Out Properly Equipped: What You Need to Be Successful. There is more planning required than meets the eye. I show you what needs to be considered in addition to the costume.
Today we're going to cover the logistics of highly successful trick-or-treating ventures.

At this point you've already picked your neighborhood(s) and you're eagerly anticipating the big night. Now that you know where you'll be trick-or-treating you can map out a route. Choose the route with the fewest gaps between houses and work through the neighborhood systematically. This will maximize the amount of time you're actually in front of a house receiving candy and reduce the amount of time moving between homes.

Here's an example. Let's say that the neighborhood you selected has a series of cul-de-sacs. You could do one then cross the street and do the one across from it then move to the one next to that then cross the street again, etc. What would be better in this scenario is to go from adjoining cul-de-sacs to minimize the number of times you cross the street. After all, there aren't any houses in the street and, therefore, no candy to be had.

The other advantage to mapping out the route ahead of time is that you can give a map to the kids. That way if they somehow get lost they know where to go and how to get there.

Designate a specific ending point. Make sure that everyone knows where you will stop. This will also serve as the end of the evening meeting place should the group get too spread out. If you have children of varying ages in the group then I guarantee this will happen. Pick an ending spot to meet up at.

Last week I mentioned choosing a small candy bag or bucket for the children to carry. What you need to do is have a van or car following closely behind the group with the brown paper bags in it for the children to dump their candy into. When the bag/bucket they are holding gets heavy they just run over to the car and dump it out and on they go to the next house.

If you have a larger group of trick-or-treaters have at least two adults that will be accompanying them either on foot or following in a vehicle. When the groups get larger (more than 4 or 5) typically they will naturally subdivide into smaller groups with the faster trick-or-treaters pushing ahead. You don't want to lose anyone on Halloween so having more than one adult to keep an eye on everyone really helps.

A given, and one I almost left out, is to have enough seat belts in your vehicles to safely transport all of your trick-or-treaters. I don't think I need to say more but I felt that it should be said.

Last, know when the sun goes down. Nothing is tackier than trick-or-treaters that show up before the sun goes down (unless you're in one of those towns that does that). However, you want to be the first to show up so that you know all of the houses will have candy and you can spend as much time trick-or-treating as possible. Visit and type in your zip code to find out when the sun will be setting on Halloween.

To quickly recap:

  • Map out your route
  • Give a map to your trick-or-treaters
  • Designate a specific ending point
  • Have a vehicle following closely behind
  • Have at least two adults
  • Have enough seat belts
  • Know when the sun goes down
You're almost ready to have the BEST Halloween ever. Just one more post and this series is complete. Check back next Wednesday to learn the art of candy bartering, the final piece in this puzzle.

Thanks for stopping by today. I would love to hear your thoughts about Halloween, trick-or-treating, or anything else you'd care to share.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Anatomy of the Classic Fight

While Cami and I have had our share of arguments and I am, therefore, intimately familiar with "the process" I've never seen it broken down so clearly before. :)

Let's use this moment to reflect on our role in arguments with our spouse and imagine how it would go differently if we changed just one little answer or reaction. Would it end the same? Worse? My bet is better. :)

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Love is GREAT

This past spring I was thinking about Cami one day and thought "love is wonderful." Immediately after that the idea came to me to make the word wonderful into an acronym and do a brief post about it. Then the lazy side of me kicked in and I had to find a shorter synonym for wonderful. I settled on great.

Love is gratitude. When we love someone we feel grateful for them and grateful to have them in our lives. We should not only feel that gratitude but show our spouse that we are grateful for them, grateful that we love them, and grateful that they love us.

Love is respect. Loving someone requires some level of respect for them, or at the very least respect for their potential. We see in them what they are and what they can be and honor them as best we can. When we love someone we show them respect.

Love is enthusiasm. Are you excited about being in love? You should be! Loving someone should be an adventure and one that you are thrilled to be on. Be enthusiastic about being in love and you'll discover the joy that is yours to claim because you're in love.

Love is appreciation. We should appreciate the wonderful things that those we love do both that help us and that are simply great things that they have done or accomplished. But it's not enough to just appreciate what they do we need to show them as well. When we love someone we appreciate them and show it.

Love is thoughtfulness. The more we love someone the greater the tendency we have to think about them. Employing these thoughts by turning them into action is being thoughtful. How much does your loved one do? Can you help ease their load? Perhaps a kind word or quick note expressing your love? Be thoughtful.

Love really is GREAT. I have never been a better person than I am now and that's because of the love that I have for my beautiful wife, our sons, my family, friends, and others. Love uplifts us, helps us become more than what we were, and does the same for those whom we love. 

Let's love a little more today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Christmas Presents

I know, you're probably thinking "It's not even Halloween yet! Who does he think he is bringing up Christmas already?!"

And I agree with you. I believe in celebrating one holiday at a time. However, when I also believe in preparing for upcoming holidays early. Therefore, this is not a celebratory post about Christmas but rather a preparatory post for Christmas. I want to make sure you can get your spouse the PERFECT gift. And, in my experience, in order to do that you need to give it plenty of thought.

To help you I have prepared two things: a worksheet and a list of places to get Christmas gift ideas. The worksheet will help you identify what kinds of gifts you should be looking at for your spouse, the category if you will. The list places to look for popular and unique gifts should help you think more specifically.

First, the worksheet. It looks a little daunting because it's a couple of pages but most of that is just room for you to write and take notes. Don't worry. You'll be fine.

Second, the list of popular and unique gifts. I spend several hours searching for a few tools and sites that would give you ideas of things to get your spouse. However, these ideas are to be used in conjunction with the answers from your worksheet.
  • is like the king of online shopping and they make it increasingly easier for us to find the perfect thing to spend our money on by maintaining and making available to everyone lists of their most popular items and most wished for items. Definitely look at these lists for some great ideas.
  • is a pretty cool site that only has unique (and sometimes bizarre) items for sale. Just beware because the editor of the site is a practical joker and occasionally posts products that don't actually exist (he tells you if you try to buy one).
  • is another site that, while not as far out as Shcoon, has interesting items for sale. The other day I found a blueprint of Yankee Stadium. I have friend who would love that.
  • I found just the other day. Again, it's choc-full of unique gift ideas.
  • is yet another site. This one seems to specialize in gummy products (like a 2 foot long gummy worm or 5 pound gummy bear). They also create some pretty hilarious product videos to promote their products.
By using these two tools (the worksheet and the gift ideas) together you can find the perfect gift for your spouse efficiently (I can't say "easily" or "effortlessly" because those words devalue your gift. You're still working hard on it, I'm just making the process more clear).

Let me know if you have any questions or need suggestions (especially for gifts for husbands). I'm pretty good at gift giving (I'm sure Cami will chime in in the comments and we'll see if she agrees) and I would love to help you make this Christmas extra special for your spouse. Either leave me a comment and I'll respond (which means you should check the "notify me" box so that you know when I did) or send me an email (tysontcooper at gmail).

Early Merry Christmas!! (make sure you celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving too!)

Caveat: the links to and are affiliate links and should you decide to purchase something for your spouse through them I will receive a commission and be extremely grateful.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Killer Whale Submarine

Alright. This post and the video have nothing do with marriage really. However, I wanted to share it because it is just SO COOL!

As you know I love orcas. I have given some serious thought in recent years to quitting my job and becoming and orca trainer (obviously I haven't and I probably won't, but I've thought about it). So when I saw this personal watercraft the decision was made. I will have one someday.

So, if you're looking for what to get me for Christmas now you know. :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Going Out Properly Equipped: what you need to be successful

This week I'm tackling the topic of trick-or-treating gear. This is the third post in a series this month about maximizing your trick-or-treating success. If you missed the first two you can still enjoy them and should definitely read them to fully understand my trick-or-treating for success system ("Trick-or-Treating: From A to Z" and "How to Pick the Best Neighborhoods: go where the candy is").

When I accepted my friends invitation to go trick-or-treating with his family I was given instructions on what to bring and wear. Of course my costume was one of the things I was supposed to wear. Guidelines were given on my shoes. A candy basket/bag for the trick-or-treatees to put the candy in. A brown paper grocery bag with my name on it. And pajamas (but those were because I was spending the night, not for the trick-or-treating).

Equipment & Supplies

Let's discuss each item (except the pajamas) individually and what guidelines were given for each.

The Costume. I was instructed that I should pick one, if possible, that would be warm enough that I wouldn't need a jacket or coat but that also would not be too hot since I would be running all evening. If I could come up with a way to layer my costume that would be even better.

For example, if I were going to be a ghost a white sheet would not be enough. I would be too cold. What I could do to layer that costume would be to have several sheets or use an old white blanket on top. That way when I started the evening and was colder the blanket would keep me warm. Once I warmed up from the running I could take the blanket off quickly without losing any time and be fine temperature wise.

I think that year I was Batman so I wore all black with a black jacket/coat over my black shirt. It worked like a charm. About thirty minutes into the trick-or-treating I needed to take the coat off to keep from overheating (even though it was like forty-five degrees that year).

The Shoes. Sometimes people don't think about their footwear when they plan their Halloween but when we look at Halloween as a competition (and it rightfully should be) we need to think like an athlete. Athletes take great care of their feet, especially runners. If their feet become sore or injured it impacts their performance. The same is true of trick-or-treaters.

We wore tennis shoes, our most comfortable pair. This is, however, one place that you may have to compromise on the costume. A princess or a warlock don't typically wear tennis shoes so that part of the costume may be unrealistic but keeping your child's feet protected is worth the deviation. Wear comfortable, broken-in tennis shoes!

The Candy Bag. We're going to be collecting a TON of candy, right? Therefore, it stands to reason that we should carry a pillowcase with us to hold all of the candy. WRONG. You want a small bag or bucket that maybe holds a pound or so. If the bag becomes too heavy it will slow you down. But what do I do when it is full? Am I done trick-or-treating? No way. Here's where the brown paper grocery bag comes in.

A Brown Paper Grocery Bag. We'll be discussing trick-or-treating logistics in detail next week but we need to quickly hit on one aspect of that today and that is the brown paper grocery bag (you could also use a plastic tote or anything else that will hold its shape; plastic bags are no good, pillowcases are also bad).

When the hand-held bag or bucket begins to get heavy the trick-or-treater dumps it out into their own designated brown paper grocery bag. Then they can continue on unburdened by the weight of others' generosity. The brown paper grocery bag will be in the support vehicle which I will explain more about next Wednesday. Suffice it to say, you must have a brown paper grocery bag for each trick-or-treater.

Another positive side effect of this is that right after you empty your bucket you tend to get more pity from the houses because they think you are just beginning your trick-or-treating and they are often more generous with you. I know that Cami and I are. :)


It's pretty much this simple. Keep in mind layered clothing, tennis shoes, a small candy bag/bucket, and a brown paper grocery bag and you're well on your way to increasing your haul this Halloween!

Next week I'll be explaining the logistics of Halloween night. Don't miss it!

What gear do you recommend? Leave a comment and tell us. Pretty please?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's the Jim, not the John

About six months ago I decided that I needed to get really serious about losing weight. I'm not hugely obese or anything but I do weigh more than I would like and my clothes are tighter than desirable. 

You have to know a little bit about me. I'm lazy. I don't like doing any more work than I absolutely have to in order to get the job done. Some of my coworkers say that I am very efficient. Nope. I'm simply lazy. Why do twice the work when I can get the same results with half the effort?

Please keep this personality trait in mind as I relate my story.

My first attempt at losing a few pounds was to swear off sugar in May. I have a friend who doesn't eat any sugar each January as a way to lose a couple of pounds after the holidays but also to remind herself that she's not a slave to it. And I was successful. I went a month without sugar. It was actually quite liberating. Total weight loss for the month of May: 0 pounds.

I then thought I would step it up a notch and began working out in the mornings (at 5:30am! That's how determined I am) with my brother-in-law. He's been a great personal trainer and I am in WAY better shape. BUT...I didn't lose any weight. Total weight loss for the months of June, July, and August: 0 pounds.

In September, Cami invited her family to participate in a family "biggest loser" competition. At this point, because of my competitive spirit and with money on the table, I got even more serious about losing weight. Total weight loss for the month of September: 3 pounds. WAHOO!

Now we're into October and so far I'm down another pound or two. I'm hoping to be down about six more pounds by the end of the month.

One of my good friends, who knows that I'm trying to lose some weight, emailed me this picture last week. I got a huge kick out of it.

I think I've found the next phase of my weight loss program. 

What do you recommend I do to lose some weight?

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Crucible of Tribulation

I remember reading The Crucible when I was in junior high. The book itself doesn't really have anything to do with this post that was just the first time I had heard the word "crucible". It left an impression on me because I remember it, and use it, to this day.

For those that didn't have the privilege of reading The Crucible and haven't been introduced to this awesome word one of its meanings is "a severe, searching test or trial."
A crucible (used to melt metal and other substances).
This image is from Wikipedia.

Back to the title of this post. What am I talking about when I say the crucible of tribulation? And what does this have to do with marriage?

Let's tackle the first question.

We are all bound to experience difficult times in our lives. They can be spiritual crises, losing a job, the death of a loved one. They are sometimes our own doing and occasionally the result of others' choices. Often they are short in duration but occasionally they do last for months or even years. No matter what shape or size the difficulty takes we will all experience them.

And that's okay. It's a part of this life and these difficult experiences, these trials, help us to learn and grow. If we are able to approach them with the right attitude and mindset we can truly capitalize on the lessons they teach us. It is when we are in the midst of these tribulations that the most rapid growth can and often does occur. In other words, in the midst of the crucible of tribulation.

By now you may be asking the second question: what does this have to do with marriage?

The answer: EVERYTHING!

Approached with the correct attitude and perspective (that tribulations are learning and growth opportunities) these trying times can actually solidify and strengthen your marriage if you and your spouse turn to each other to get get through them.

Image courtesy of iClipArt
Cami and I have some friends who recently suffered the loss of one of their children. It was after a long and difficult journey of medical treatments, prayer, and fasting. They are closer today and their marriage is stronger than before it all started. Why? They relied on each other and the Lord to get them through.

A couple of years ago Cami and I suffered a financial challenge. While it was no where near the magnitude or severity what others go through (and what we assume we may one day experience) it was a trying time nonetheless. What did I do as it started to get hard? Nope, I didn't turn to Cami. I blamed myself. If I were a better husband, father, and more capable man this wouldn't be happening. My family wouldn't be going through this.

Cami, and I thank the Lord for her every day, metaphorically slapped me back to reality (she may have gently slapped me for real too...). She reminded me that we were a team and that no one had failed. We were going through a struggle and together, with the Lord's help, we would make it through and be better for it. We then discussed what we could do TOGETHER, got on our knees, presented our plan to the Lord, and moved forward.

Guess what? It all worked out. Our oldest son is now an indentured servant but we made it through (just kidding, we didn't sell him into indentured servitude, that would probably be wrong). Cami took an opportunity to babysit a little boy and thereby bring in some extra cash and we cut back on expenses. And we made it! Now we look back and our hearts are full of gratitude for that tribulation we passed through that brought us closer together and further solidified us as a team.

I am grateful for the crucible of tribulation and what it has done for my marriage already. And, while I don't seek out trials or look forward to them, I am excited to see the strength our of marriage and the depth of our friendship and love in the years to come.

How has your marriage been strengthened through trials? What did you and your spouse do to make sure you made it through? Please share with us in the comments. Cami and I read every one and LOVE to hear your suggestions and advice.

And if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, do it now! You'll get a free gift... :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Want a Happy Marriage? Laugh!

Cami and I stumbled across some television show clips on YouTube about a month ago. The show is called Studio C (we're not exactly sure what the "C" stands for, comedy maybe?). All of the comedy is clean and very funny (at least all of what we've watched and we've spent FAR too much time watching it so far). Here's one of my favorite clips.

We hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Eternally Indebted

I am eternally indebted to my wife. Yep.

She's amazing. Let me tell you why:

  1. She gave birth to our first son
  2. She gave birth to our second son
  3. She gave birth to our third son
  4. She gave birth to our fourth son
  5. She is going to give birth to our first daughter (someday, hopefully. We are NOT currently expecting)
  6. She puts up with my constant teasing
  7. She loves me
  8. She does our laundry
  9. She teaches our boys about God and how to be good people
  10. She cooks for me
  11. She thanks me for the things that I do
  12. She lets me blog
  13. She supports me in all of my crazy business ideas (there have been A LOT in the last seven years)
  14. She reads books with me
  15. She tells me what she's thinking and feeling
  16. She indulges my obsessive compulsive tendencies
  17. She tells me that she loves me
  18. She thinks I am attractive
  19. She encourages me in my crazy business ideas (one of these days they'll pan out and we'll be rich!)
  20. She takes out the garbage
  21. She vacuums our home
  22. She pays the bills
  23. She babysits other people's kids so that we have enough money each month
  24. She manages our basement apartment (we rent it out)
  25. She loves to read
  26. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen
  27. She loves to laugh
  28. She shares her chocolate with me
  29. She coordinates our social calendar and makes sure that I see our friends occasionally
  30. She shares her room with me (it really is her room, I know that I am a welcome guest though)
  31. She keeps the throw pillows on the bed to a minimum
  32. She folds my clothes
  33. She loves Subway too
  34. She understands the way that I think
  35. She lets me surprise her
  36. She remembers my half birthday
  37. She lets me take her on dates
  38. She lets me watch "good" movies sometimes (not chick flicks)
  39. She has grown to appreciate Star Trek and Boy Meets World
  40. She gives me her black olives
  41. She doesn't like seafood (neither do I)
  42. She understands my sense of humor
  43. She laughs at many of my corny jokes (not all of them deserve to be laughed at)
  44. She gets hooked on my TV shows (like Star Trek, Fringe, Lost, and Boy Meets World)
  45. She supports me in my service in our church and community
  46. She helps me see when I am wrong
  47. She encourages me to be better but loves me exactly the way I am
  48. She chooses to be a domestic engineer (a stay-at-home mom)
  49. She helps me work in the yard
  50. She is my partner, my lover, my best friend, my companion, my wife
I am eternally indebted to her. I am so grateful for my beautiful wife.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coach Ashley Signature Carryall Bag Giveaway

As a man I will be the first to admit that I really don't understand anything about bags or purses. However, from what my female friends tell me, Coach bags are the cream of the crop and all women would love to have one. Hence my participation as a co-host in this giveaway. I figure that this is a giveaway that every one of my readers can participate in (the women for themselves and the men as a gift for a special woman in their lives).

Good luck!

Hosted by:

Co-hosted by:

You can be the lucky winner of a 
Coach Ashley Signature Carryall Bag 
Value $358 


Dates  October 10 12:01am  to November 17 11:59pm

US Resident Only

All entries are optional

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: is not responsible for the awarding of the prize.  Host is responsible for prize fulfillment.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please email the host at

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Pick the Best Neighborhoods: go where the candy is

When planning out Halloween evening and the trick-or-treating route you're going to take you need to take three things into account:

  1. The proximity of the houses to one another. You want them close together, that way you don't have to waste time going between houses. If each house is on a one acre lot and it takes you two minutes to run between homes then you spend as much time running from house to house as you do collecting candy. You should be able to run from door to door in less than a minute.
  2. The size of the homes. If the homes are too large they will probably be on larger lots and put them farther apart (see point #1). If the homes are too small they may not have the financial resources to purchase the best candy, in other words, you might get tums (I think I saw a sitcom where that happened once). Middle class families tend (not always) to give out good candy. Things like fun size candy bars. Sometimes you'll even get lucky and they'll give out full size candy bars but don't count on that. 
  3. The number of homes in the neighborhood. New housing developments that have been fully or nearly fully filled are usually ideal. The homes are reasonably close together, the families are firmly middle-class and have children that will be trick-or-treating as well (which means they will have candy to give out), and there are TONS of houses in the development. You can literally go from street to street and cul-de-sac to cul-de-sac knocking on doors. Ideally there will be between 100 and 200 homes in the development. If you give yourself two minutes a house that will easily take up the entire trick-or-treating time.
That's it. It's pretty simple. Find a middle class neighborhood with a lot of homes close together and you're set. I recommend scouting out neighborhoods a week or two before Halloween so that you don't waste time that night. 

While you're performing reconnaissance another good indicator of whether or not there will be candy in the neighborhood on Halloween night is by the decorations. The more Halloween decorations you see the more likely it is that there will be candy there.

As you've been reading I know that you've had a few thoughts as to where you're going to go scout around. Don't miss next Wednesday's post "Going Out Properly Equipped: what you need to be successful". We'll talk about what types of shoes to wear, clothing choices, and trick-or-treating equipment.

See you next week!


What did you think about my advice? Anything to add? Please share with us in the comments! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What's in Your Purse?

Another insight from Dr. John Gray. I promise you'll laugh. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013


As of this moment, the 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge is officially underway!!

Good luck to all of us! As Cami would say at a moment like this "may the odds be ever in your favor!" (she loves the Hunger Games books)

If this is the first you're hearing of the challenge check out these posts, they'll catch you up.

Even if you weren't able to officially sign up we would love to have you compete with us! 

Now, go do something kind for your spouse!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Last Chance! 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge!

Today is the last day to sign up for the 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge. If you haven't signed up already you should do it NOW!

Sign me up!!!

We've got a lot of great couples signed up and everyone is chomping at the bit to get started. I can't wait to beat Cami to 25.

In case you've missed them previously, here are the rules/guidelines and the prizes.

Here are the guidelines:
  1. You AND your spouse must BOTH complete 25 acts of kindness for each other (50 in total)
  2. You may NOT repeat any of the actions. For example, if I pick a flower for my wife and give it to her I cannot do it again and have it count toward my 25. However, she could give me a flower and it would count toward her 25. 
  3. You and your spouse may not end up with identical lists. You may both do a few of the same things but there must be definite variety.
  4. While each of your 25 actions does not need to be stupendous and "show stopping" each should be meaningful and from the heart.
  5. The first three couples to complete the 25 acts of kindness AND submit their lists to me will win a prize. The first will pick which of the three they want, the second will pick from the remaining two, and the third will receive the last prize.
 Here are the prizes for the first three couples to finish and send me their lists:
  1. One month of Datelivery, an online service that helps couples break the mundane dating routine of dinner and a movie that we often fall into
  2. Broadway Basketeers Gift Tower of Sweets (includes: black taffy, butter toffee peanuts, chocolate chip cookies, a cajun and cranberry mix, pecan popcorn, honey roasted cashews, and caramel cookies)
  3. A Halloween Smile Box AND a Redbox gift card for 5 movie rentals!
Let me know if you have any questions. We are super excited for Monday!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's Me, Cami

Hi y'all!  It's Cami again.  I decided to hack into Tyson's website and write.  I like messing with him, and I especially love disrupting his very strict sense of order.  I like to think I keep him balanced.  :)

So, I just wanted to tell everyone that I am so excited for the 25 Acts of Kindness Challenge!  I know, it is kind of ridiculous to be so excited to be nice to someone, but I seriously want to win.  I mean, I love being nice to Tyson, but I really love prizes, especially if that means they come in the mail.  I totally love getting fun mail, especially if it is food.  It is so boring to get bills all the time.

Tyson said we don't qualify and the prizes have to go to people that signed up for the challenge, but hello, if we are competing against you, then why shouldn't I get one of the prizes if I earned it right?  It is only fair.  :)

I mean, I would get to pick from a tower of gifts (AKA yummy food), a box of Halloween fun stuff and free movie rentals, OR a Datelivery box (I think that is the one I would personally pick, even though I love food, I love dating Tyson more...which is really saying something, cuz I LOVE food).  The thought is so exciting, it is a competition I might actually have a chance at winning.

So I have been planning all kinds of awesome nice things to do for Tyson.  At first I thought, that is so easy, I can do that no problem.  But then I got to thinking, what can I possibly do for him??  Usually when I do nice things, it is kind of selfish.  Like, if I get him a candy bar, I know he will share.  I have come to see that I am not as selfless as I always imagine myself being.  :)

Okay, so I have a few ideas of things to do...but not a ton.  But I still really want to win a prize, so I think that is good motivation, right?

If you haven't signed up yet, you should.  It is fun and a good thing to do, because it pushes you to think more about what your spouse likes and needs.  But if you don't compete, that's okay, more chance for me to win.  (evil chuckle)  :)

If you HAVE signed up, then picture me, at the starting line of a race, looking over at you with narrowed eyes and saying "the race is on, Buddy."  

It starts THIS Monday, October 7th.  Sign up here.

So do you think Tyson will laugh that I snuck onto his website and posted this, or do you think he will get a pretend cranky face, roll his eyes, and say in a growly voice "urgh, Camden"  Haha.  I love torturing him.  :)  Good thing he never actually gets mad at me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trick-or-Treating: From A to Z

Halloween is an awesome holiday, especially for the little ones and for those of us that are kids at heart. Trick-or-treating, costumes, candy, parties, caramel apples, candy; it's just a great time!

I recently wrote a guest post for my friend Jessica at about one of my all-time best Halloween memories. That Halloween was so much fun and I got a TON of candy. As I was writing I realized that I had learned a lot about trick-or-treating and realized I have never really shared that information with anyone.

Today I begin to rectify that. I am going to write a series of four posts detailing the strategies I learned about trick-or-treating that provide hands-on, real, proven, and effective strategies for increasing your (or your child's or grandchild's) candy receipts on Halloween.

I hope that you'll share your thoughts with me and suggestions you have on improving the strategies in the comments. My kids are almost to the age where I will get to take them trick-or-treating and your comments will prove valuable.

The four fundamental, core strategies that I will discuss are:
  1. How to pick the best neighborhoods: go where the candy is
  2. Going out properly equipped: what you need to be successful
  3. Logistics: how to coordinate the efforts of your trick-or-treaters
  4. Candy Bartering: get the candy you love, get rid of the junk
I will publish one post each Wednesday this month with the final post being on October 30th, the day before Halloween.

As a precursor, and to show you that I know what I'm talking about, here's my story. It's how I learned the art of trick-or-treating.

I learned the art of trick-or-treating when I was 13 years old. Up until that year I had gone trick-or-treating with my parents and siblings in our neighborhood and to a few friends. We'd get some candy (more than my parents would have liked), come home and sort it out, pay our "taxes" (dad always levied a tax on our candy), and eat the best pieces. And I thought it was fun. Little did I know...

That year one of my two best friends invited me to go trick-or-treating with his family. Halloween fell on a Friday night that year so I also was invited to stay the night at his house. Mom and Dad said yes and I accepted his invitations.

Next, I received a set of detailed instructions: I was to ride the bus home with him after school, my costume needed to be with me, we would get to his house (about 3:30pm), eat a meal, change into our costumes, be assigned to one of two teams, and then load up into their van (they had six kids and the four oldest each got to invite a friend or two so I think there were 10-12 of us total).

We then traveled across town to a predetermined set of neighborhoods arriving almost exactly as the last rays of sunlight kissed the rooftops. Game on!

Group 1, the older kids, disembarked from the van at the appointed starting place and began to sprint from house to house collecting candy.

Two hours later we were absolutely exhausted and there were no more houses giving out candy. We slowly loaded up into the van and traveled back to my friend's home.

When we arrived we had regained a little bit of energy, mostly in anticipation of eating the candy (we had been strictly prohibited from doing so until this point). We carried our brown paper grocery bags into the house and a scale was waiting (no pun intended) in the kitchen. Each child weighed their bag of candy. Mine was 10 pounds 11 ounces.

That's right! I had collected almost 11 pounds of candy!!

Not only was that a personal record it was enough for me to take first place (the next closest was only an ounce or two behind). I had won!!!  My first year I had won!!

All together I seem to recollect that we had collected upwards of 80 pounds of candy. Not bad for two hours. :)

We then took our grocery bags to their basement where they had a large playroom. We each selected our corner and began sorting through the candy and the bartering began.

When the night was over I was exhausted, but it had been the best Halloween ever!

By the way, my friend's family did this every year. I was able to participate one more time the next year and then I was deemed "too old" to go trick-or-treating.
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