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Monday, April 29, 2013

Another 20 (or so) Acts

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I know that I've been a slacker and haven't provided you all with an update in a couple of weeks but I want you to know that I haven't forgotten about my personal challenge to do 100 kind things for my wife as quickly as possible. It has now been a little more than 4 1/2 weeks since I began so here is my update.

51. Cami was laying down because her legs were hurting so I got her a cup of water and her book
52. I cleaned the bathtub until "it sparkled" (her words)
53. Watched the kids so that she could go to a friend's babyshower (I've been watching them a lot lately, which is good for me, not so much for them)
54. Put the clean dishes away
55. Took her on an amazing daytime date to Appomattox Court House
56. Found a babysitter for part of the time we were gone for the daytime date
57. Because we live close to where I work I was able to drop by home for a few minutes on a Monday morning to surprise Cami. It was a good thing I did because she was having a really rough day already. I stayed and we talked for about 15 minutes until she was feeling better.
58. I took the van to go visit a few friends on Tuesday evening and realized that the gas tank was getting low. Cami doesn't like filling the tank up because she usually has the children and apparently they get really excited and unruly at gas stations. So, I filled up the tank for her before coming home.
59. Also on a Tuesday evening I stopped and picked up a hot fudge sundae for my woman on my way home. She had been talking about how much she wanted ice cream for days so this showed her that I DO listen to her.
60. I picked a wild flower on my walk home and gave it to her
61. One night Cami woke up frantic from a bad dream. I calmed her down and comforted her until she fell back asleep (I wavered on whether I should take credit for this one since I don't even remember it)
62. One evening, after a particularly tense day, I massaged Cami's shoulders for a few minutes to help alleviate the built up tension
63. We received a Kindle Fire for Christmas from my little brother and two weeks ago I decided to purchase a new game (Plants vs. Zombies, it's pretty awesome). I let Cami play it too.
64. I cleaned up the food, dining room, and kitchen after dinner (two days in a row actually, but I'm only going to count it once)
65. One evening Cami was particularly exhausted and fell asleep while we were watching one of our favorite television shows (Psych). I helped her to bed where she immediately fell back into a deep sleep. After brushing my teeth I read scriptures to her (we read scriptures each night together before we go to bed) so that we didn't miss a day.
66. I put away a load of clean dishes
67. Woke up before Cami and got her cereal ready so that when she woke up all it needed was milk
68. On the 17th I sent a very sweet text message completely unexpectedly
69. I have put the clean sheets on the bed for the last three weeks
70. Our lilac bushes are in bloom and we both ADORE the smell of lilacs so I picked some and brought them to her after work
71. One of my team members will be moving soon so we took her out to lunch to say thank you and "farewell". I brought Cami back some food from lunch so that she wouldn't feel so left out (she gets pretty irritated when I get to go out to lunch).  (This is Cami here, and I do not get irritated, I get a little miffed is all.  And Tyson bringing home lunch for me was a HUGE deal for me.  I LOVE take out and it was so fun to have a surprise visit from Tyson and to get a yummy lunch)
72. Before I left for Atlanta I wrote her a very sweet note and hid it so that she would find it after I had left
73. While I was in Atlanta I called her each morning before my meetings started to tell her I love her and pray with her
74. Throughout the day (still while in Atlanta) I would send her text messages at random times to try and put a smile on her face
75. Each night, again while in Atlanta, I called and talked to my sweetheart for an hour or more to find out about her day and share mine with her. We end every phone call with "I love you".
76. I mentioned above (see #63) that Cami loves the Plants vs. Zombies game, so instead of taking the Kindle Fire with me to Atlanta like I had planned, I left it for Cami so she could play the game to her heart's content
77. I helped fold a load of laundry
78. I got the boys all ready for bed
79. Gave Cami a head massage to coax her to stop playing games on her laptop and snuggle with me.  It worked.  :)
80. Told her I would still love her even if she looked like an Oompa-loompa

Okay, 80 down and only 20 to go. Here's the game plan: I'm going to work extra hard this week to crack out the last 20 kind things and then declare victory. If you all lived in my neighborhood I would invite you over and we would have ice cream and cake to celebrate. Wish me luck!

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Friday, April 26, 2013

I was "showed off"

Great news...

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Thanks to Jessica, Jules, Brittany, and Tiffany for showing off one of my posts!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bedpartner

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I don't like sleeping alone. The first time that Cami and I slept apart was about six months into our marriage. She was working on her senior paper (it was the BIG paper that every graduating senior had to turn in) and had to pull an all-nighter in order to finish it and get it turned in on time. About midnight I decided to turn in so I kissed her and requested that she join me shortly. Well, when I woke up six or seven hours later she wasn't next to me. I kind of freaked out. In all of our months of marriage I had never woken up without her by my side. Where was my Cami?!? (keep in mind I had just woken up and so was still half dazed) I jumped from bed and frantically ran for the bathroom to see if she was there. No luck. Next I ran to our living room (it was 4 steps further; it was a VERY small apartment). It looked like a backpack had exploded; there were books everywhere! And right in the middle of them was my sweetheart, asleep, with the laptop (which had also gone to sleep) next to her. I think her hands may have still been resting on the keyboard but I don't remember for sure. It was later that day, sore and feeling physically drained, that I realized I don't sleep well when I'm not next to my hunnybunches (that's what we call each other sometimes).

This week I was reminded of how much I dislike sleeping away from my wife. I was able to go to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia for work. I stayed in a nice hotel, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, on the 22nd floor (I always request the highest floor possible because I like the view and I figure if the hotel collapses there will be less rubble on top of me for the rescue teams to dig through in order to get to me). The pillows were great, the mattresses very comfortable, and the room temperature ideal. Yet each morning (I was there for three nights) I would wake up after seven or so hours of sleep (which is more than I normally get) absolutely exhausted. The first day I didn't realize what it was. The second day I did. I was lonely without my hunnybunches. I don't like being away from my lover girl. Suffice it say, I was pleased to be home last night sleeping in my own bed next to my sweetheart.

p.s. Cami managed to finish her paper that night, turned it in the next morning, and received an "A". She's pretty amazing!

Husbands vs the Children...Part Two

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This post is part two of a previous post, Husbands vs the Children. It is recommended that you read part one before continuing.

PART TWO...

I ended last time stating that the love I feel for my wife is different than the love I have for chocolate, sunsets, and reading. It is also different than the love I feel for my children. While I love our sons with all my heart it is a simple love; they were born and I love them. The love for a child is a gift from God to parents. My sons did not earn my love and they do not need to do anything to retain it. They do not even need to reciprocate it (though that would be sad indeed). The love I feel for my wife, however, I believe to be a more mature love. It began when I chose to open my heart to it. It grew as I chose to allow it. It blossomed as I chose to nurture it. It flourishes as I embrace it and the tighter the embrace the faster and stronger it grows. The point is that I chose and continue to choose to love my wife. I am not obligated to do so and while my wife is easy to love it is not always easy to protect our love. It is something that we work on each day and pray for each night. It is a more mature form of love. It is something that as children we were not capable of because we did not have the ability to comprehend what the love between husband and wife entailed; we were not yet mature enough. Simply put, it is the choice to love that gives our love for our spouse the ability to be the greatest love we feel. If, like Ms. Shaw, we are unsure who we love more, our spouse or the children, it is because we have not yet made the choice to love our spouse more than our children.

Now, don't get me wrong. Loving a child is a wonderful thing that can teach us many things. I am in no way demeaning that. What I am saying is simply that the love between husband and wife has an infinite ability to grow if the choice is made to pursue it.

The fundamental difference between the love for a child and the love for a spouse is found in the choice that we make to love our spouses. Making the choice to open our hearts to love is what is uplifting about the love between a husband and wife, and because love is a gift from God doing so brings us closer to Him. In response to the question Kristin Shaw raised, I declare that for me the love I have for my wife is far greater than the love I have for my children because I choose to love her. And she feels the same way.

I've shared what I think. I would love to hear what you think. Please tell me. :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

You should have helped her...

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I normally get up before my family each morning so that I can dedicate some time to writing and reading what others have written on their websites the previous day. Normally my oldest son wakes up first (he's five) and comes and joins me in the living room and we chat for a few minutes. I really enjoy spending this time one-on-one with him and hope that he enjoys it too. Well, earlier this week he comes out and sits down on the couch next to me. The previous evening Cami had been vacuuming the living room but, for whatever reason, hadn't finished so the vacuum was still out. He asked me if mom had finished vacuuming and responded that she hadn't and he looked me in the eyes and scolded "Dad, you should have helped her." I chuckled and agreed that I should have and promised him that I would do better next time. That seemed to satisfy him and he went to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

As I've thought about his comment I've been impressed and thankful for his understanding of how marriage is supposed to work. He already understands at five years old that marriage is a partnership. While we each have responsibilities to fulfill we need to help each other to fulfill those responsibilities. This vacuuming situation is just one example. In my marriage my wife and I have decided that I would leave the home each day and earn the money that we need to support our family and she would stay at home and nurture and care for our children and home. However, there have been times in our marriage where I haven't been able to make enough money to cover all of our expenses. My sweetheart was willing to do some babysitting and help earn a little bit extra money to get our family through those times. At other times when Cami hasn't been feeling well or it's been an especially hard day I help her by taking out the trash, doing the dishes, vacuuming, making dinnner, etc. Just like oxen pulling a wagon in the 19th century we are a team yoked to one another and need to pull together (no I'm not comparing my wife to an ox, she is the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on!).

Marriage is teamwork and the beauty of it is that when the going gets tough we have covenanted to one another and to God to "pull together" until we are through the difficult time. I am grateful to be married to a wonderful woman and that we are a great team. I can't imagine going through life without her. Now, think oxen and go "pull" with your wife (or husband, as the case may be).

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dandelions for My Honeysuckle

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My wife and I are poor. Well, we sometimes feel like we are (we're actually doing okay, we have enough for our needs, but money isn't usually plentiful). We establish a family budget each month and sometimes our income just barely meets that month's needs. That's okay because we're happy and we realize that our family is young and with time, hopefully, our income will grow. However, with funds being limited we often feel like we can't do some of the sweet things we would like to do as often as we would like to do them. One of the things that I rarely get the opportunity to do is buy my beauty flowers.  I know what she likes:

  • for romantic occasions she likes roses; they should be red or pink
  • for special occasions she also likes roses, however, since her favorite are yellow roses (that was our "wedding" flower) I will get her one or more of them
  • she also really likes irises and I've even brought her an orchid before (by the way, orchids are pretty cool flowers. They drink almost nothing and just need to be put in a window. Their blooms last for weeks and they are gorgeous)
Because I try to be creative and do kind things for my wife I learned a few years ago that it's not the flower that matters (except on Valentine's Day) it's the fact that I brought her flowers that counts. And, because there is beauty in pretty much all flowers, I began picking little wild flowers on my home from work to give her. Most of the time they are small and few in number but her eyes light up, she grins from ear to ear, and often she even giggles in delight (yes, she giggles). She's even excited with a dandelion or a clover flower.
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Here's my challenge: pick a wildflower for your wife today, even if it is just a dandelion.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Taxation vs Confiscation

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No, this will not be a commentary on the current state of politics in the United States.

My mom shared with me an experience she had recently. She was in her kitchen preparing a meal and opened one of her cupboard doors. A bag of Hershey kisses lay conspicuously among the dishes. She immediately realized that my dad had tried to hide them from her (they have a long history of purchasing sweets and hiding them from one another, they call them their "stashes"). So, as any loving spouse would do, she hid them in another cupboard and left a note for him. She made it into the shape of a kiss, taped a kiss wrapper to the back of it, and wrote a brief thank you note to my dad for leaving the kisses for her. That, in and of itself, would be a good story. What makes it great is that there's more.

The next day she happened to open the same cupboard where she had left the note the day before and, to her surprise, she found a note for her from my dad. She described it as scathing. It read "Taxation is okay. Confiscation is not." And then demanded that she return the kisses to him. She was concerned that dad was actually upset. When he got home later that day she thanked him for his note hoping that he wasn't. While she spoke a smile grew on his face until he was laughing. They both had a good laugh and mom put the kisses back for him. Now she's on the prowl for one of his other stashes. I can't say which as he might be reading this and I don't want to betray mom's confidence. Just be warned dad.

Let's make this week more fun. We all need more laughter in our lives, and especially in our marriages.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Husbands vs. the Children

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Kristin Shaw published an article with the Huffington Post on Tuesday (April 2nd) about the difference types of love she feels for her husband and her son. Her article was based on the question: "do I love my husband or my son more?" Her conclusion was that it is too difficult to decide because she loves them both differently. While I agree that there are different types of love I think that some clarification is in order.

I agree with Ms. Shaw that there are different kinds of love. I love my parents. I love my wife. I love our children. I love chocolate and anything with sugar in it. I love to read. I love the outdoors (especially sunsets). I love a lot of things, however, the kind of love and the intensity I feel is different.

My wife and I have three sons with a fourth child on the way. We love them so very much. We cherish them and cannot imagine life without them. It would be so empty if they were not here. The love that we feel for them is immense (and I don't even pretend to understand the depth and breadth of the love that she feels for them, I just know that it is greater because she is a mother, than what I feel as a father. That is a gift God blesses mothers with). The children did nothing to earn it and do not need to do anything to keep it. In many ways it is our gift to them. And they love us because we love them but could make the choice not to. We, however, will always love them. The love a parent has for a child, especially a mother for her children, is ennobling and helps us to understand to a small degree the love that God has for us, His children.

My love of chocolate and anything sugary is more like an addiction. My love of sunsets and the outdoors could be considered more of a humble gratitude for the beauties of the Earth (God's handiwork). My love of reading is a fascination with new things and the enjoyment of temporarily escaping reality. The love I have for my wife, however, is different from all of these.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another "100 Acts" Update

 
This is the latest update on my progress to doing 100 acts of kindness for my beautiful wife as quickly as possible. I'll be honest, I'm not getting there as quickly as I thought that I would. I really thought that after two weeks I would be done. This little "exercise" is opening my eyes to just how few nice things I do for my wife on a regular basis and helping me to commit to doing more in the future.

33. Last Monday I brought my wife a little present when I came home from work (a bite size Snickers candy bar) and told her I loved her
34. My wife made a delicious german chocolate cake for Easter. When it came down to the last piece left a few days later she saved it for me. I know how much she liked the cake so I made her eat half of the last piece (it would have been really nice to give her the entire piece but I'm not THAT good of a husband; the cake really was delicious!)
35. On Friday night we went and watched a movie with friends. I found the babysitter.
36. Wrote her two poems as we snuggled in the hammock on Sunday
37. Wrote one poem down on our whiteboard so she could see it (I believe it is a haiku) "I love Camden true/She loves me a whole lot too/We are so happy"
38. I shared my Snickers bar with her and gave her the very last bite (super nice because Snickers are my favorite)
39. After rudely ignoring her a little bit on Sunday morning, I apologized and promtly brushed her hair for several minutes so she knew how important she is to me (Cami wrote this one, I would not characterize my behavior as "rude", I did however brush her hair)
40. Brought her a cup of water late at night so she wouldn't have to get out of bed
41. I cleaned up after dinner
42. On Tuesday (yesterday) I stayed home with the children so that Cami could participate in a cooking class with some friends
43. I came home from work earlier than normal to help her get dinner ready because some friends were coming over (however, she is amazing and was already done. It was still nice of me to try)
44. I saved the last Cadbury Easter egg for Cami (we both LOVE them)
45. So that Cami wouldn't have to worry about making dinner, I suggested that we go out to eat on Friday night (and we did)
46. Cami's leg has been hurting a lot, we suspect it has to do with the pregnancy, so I have been doing what I can to help keep her off her legs
47. This morning she begged me to come back to bed and snuggle with her but I needed to work on this post. So, I brought the laptop back to bed so that I could be close to her.
48. On Monday I sent a random text message letting Cami know that I love her and was thinking about her
49. I'm leading a field trip on Saturday for the University that I work for and arranged for Cami to be able to accompany me. We're looking forward to spending most of Saturday together.
50. While this isn't one single act Cami insisted that I include that most days I get up early with the children so that she can sleep a few minutes longer

Well, after three weeks I'm half way there. Not as fast as I had thought but still pretty good. How's your progress?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Professional Development...for Moms

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My wife said that she thinks this top five thing is dumb and that I should stop doing it (these were not her words, she is much kinder than that). I have found that she is much smarter than I am and that my life is better when I listen to her advice. Therefore, this a notice that after only a couple of Top Five's I am discontinuing them. Wow, I feel better already.

A topic that I have been meaning to write about for some time now is personal development for wives. In my career I have opportunities for professional development the object of which is to hone skills that I possess, help develop new skills, and provide me with knowledge and insights that will help me be more effective in executing the responsibilities of my position. My beautiful wife is a domestic engineer (a fancy way of explaining that she is a stay-at-home mom). She works more hours at her job each day and week than I do and is not only mentally and physically exhausted at the end of each day but she is emotionally and spiritually exhausted as well. One of the many reasons that I love her so very much is that she is willing to put our children and family ahead of herself, as do so many women. Even those that are not stay-at-home moms invest so much into their families. Mothers are amazing. The problem I see in my wife's life and in many of our friends' and in my own mother's life is that because they invest so much into being a mother other areas of their lives are often neglected and remain undeveloped. There are periods of life where it is simply unfeasible to work on anything other than being a fantastic mother and wife and I understand that, but what I am proposing is that my wife is so much more than a wonderful wife and mother and she needs to know that.

I would like to suggest three ways that we, as husbands, can ensure that our wives recognize and remember their potential and help them develop skills and talents in addition to those required for motherhood. They are:
  1. Make time for your wife to pursue her dreams. My wife loves to write stories for children. Despite our meager finances we have been able to enroll her in several courses through the Institute of Children's Literature that have helped her improve her writing and learn how to work with publishers. She has already written one book (she isn't presently pursuing publishing it because of the time commitment she has with our three boys but she will!), is working on another, and has solid ideas for two more. Sometimes it's cooking or sewing or improving computer skills but whatever it is support your wife by paying for the activities or simply staying home with the kids or perhaps both.
  2. Point out the things that she is good at and emphasize your wife's talents. My wife often forgets that she can do more than just be a mother. For example, Cami was crazy fun before our kids were born. Once, actually it was probably several times, she made me dance in the rain fully clothed. I was soaked and she just laughed and giggled as she pranced around. She would sit upside down on the sofa so that the blood would rush to her head which, for some reason, also caused her to laugh uncontrollably. Once our first son was born the "fun Cami" (that's what we call her) became dormant along with some of the other "Camis". I try to bring those dormant aspects of her personality back from time to time to help her remember who she really is.
  3. Support your wife. Tell her that you love her. Express your appreciation for all that she does as a mother and as your wife. Make sure she recognizes the contribution she is making. When she feels successful at her calling as a mother she is much more likely and willing to develop other aspects of who she is.
Moms need "professional development" too. I would love to hear what you've done for your wife to support her (or what your husband has done for you). Please leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Love & Marriage from a Man's Point of View

For those that are visiting for the first time let me quickly introduce myself: I'm Tyson Cooper. I live in Virginia with my beautiful and amazing wife, Cami, and we have three boys and another one on the way. I love my wife beyond my ability to describe and we have a wonderful and happy marriage. She is my best friend.

This blog's purpose is to share some of the insights and lessons that we have learned about marriage and how to make a good marriage great. The emphasis is on small and simple things that we can all do to increase happiness and satisfaction in our marriages. The important thing, and what sets this blog apart, is that it is written from man's point of view (mine). However, that doesn't mean that much of the advice doesn't apply to wives because it most certainly can.

I love my wife and we are ridiculously hapy to be married to each other and we want the same for you. Thanks for stopping by!

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Some of my most popular posts that you might enjoy are:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

100 Acts of Kindness UPDATE

I'm having a lot of fun with this and my wife is enjoying it too! For those of you that haven't been following my progress I decided about a week ago to see how quickly I could do 100 kind things for my wife without expecting anything in return. It's a personal challenge that I shared with all of you. Every few days I post a "progress report" to help you track my progress. I also invite you to participate with me in this endeavor and see the blessings that come to your marriage because of it. And don't forget to share your progress with me! The last two reports are here and here if you would like to see them.

Here's my report:
18. I brought my wife a cupcake. I wanted to give her some sugar.
19. & 20. I put the clean dishes away and then washed the dirty dishes before going to work so that Cami wouldn't have to worry about it
21. On Friday night I stayed home with the kids so that Cami could spend some time with friends
22. I took some time off of work on Friday afternoon to attend an Easter egg hunt with my wife and children to help Cami with the boys (and spend time with them. If you've never seen a horde of children under 9 participating in an Easter egg hunt you're missing out)
23. Once again I put away the clean dishes and washed the dirty ones while she was out with friends
24. I took a Sharpie and wrote on our one year old's stomach "I love momma." I then sent him to find his momma. She loved it; hopefully it takes a couple of days to wash off.
25. On Easter I helped make dinner, cleaned off the dining room table, and organized and oversaw a "work party" (it consisted of our three children) to clean the house before company arrived
26. I took out the trash (I know, stereotypically that's the man's job anyway but in our house my wife typically does this)
27. We had some company over on Sunday and Cami wasn't feeling well so I "entertained" our company while she went to lay down in the bedroom
28. I cleaned up after dinner on Easter and put away food and dishes
29. On Monday Cami didn't feel like making dinner (I think she was burnt out from Easter dinner) so I took care of things by feeding myself and the children left-overs
30. I gave Cami a shoulder massage
31. I sent a text message to my wife letting her know that I was excited to come home and see her at lunch time (we live close to my office so I often come home for lunch)
32. Last week I was in a meeting with my boss (I have so many meetings each week I don't remember which day it was) and Cami called. I excused myself from the meeting temporarily to answer the phone. I told Cami that I was in a meeting but wanted her to know that I took her call to show her that she's more important to me than anything else (she REALLY liked that!).

Okay, I'll have another update for everyone by the end of the week. As you can tell I feel like I'm really building up steam now. As I've said before and continue to affirm it is the small and simple things that really build and strengthen love, marriage, and happiness. I hope that you have taken the challenge and are racing me to 100. We would all love to hear about your progress so please share in the comments.

Thanks for stopping!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekly Top Five

Here's my Top Five from last week (March 24th-30th):
  1. Animals have better date ideas than we do sometimes (http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2013/03/24/disney-animal-dates/)
  2. Chivalry from a college student's point of view (the first article by Jen Gallic)  (http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/viewpoint/chivalry-and-healthy-relationships-1.3014925)
  3. Advice on how to end the monotony that marriages can often fall into (http://simplemarriage.net/break-free/)
  4. This advice from The Generous Wife is a great one. It would help me and I know it would certainly help my wife. She is always losing her phone so the "drop off" for it is on top of our fridge (http://www.the-generous-wife.com/2013/03/25/a-bit-of-help/)
  5. Good cautions and advice about building and strengthening trust in a marriage (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-older-dad/201303/tests-trust-important-moments-in-relationships)
Let me know which ones were helpful to you and share with me any posts, articles, or videos that you found helpful from last week that aren't on my list. Have a great week!
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