Happy Anniversary! {August Date Night}

Being more intentional about getting time together as a couple sans kiddos meant we had to put it on the calendar. At the end of 2013, I added a monthly date night onto our Google calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. (I wrote more about Marriage Goals in Action at Next Level Mama.) We haven’t planned the dates much beyond that point. Most of our date nights have been having dinner out (because we’re wannabe foodies), but we have stretched ourselves to be creative before, so hopefully we can vary things through the year. Any date night ideas?

August Date Night
So for real, anyone know of restaurant critics jobs? :p Norm and I would be perfect! This was our anniversary date, so it worked out that it was a nice and looooong dinner date. We got to chat…uninterrupted!! Thanks to awesome grandparents who hung out with their grandkids so mom and dad can go out! So anyhow, wow, we’ve been married for 9 years + 1 year engagement + 5 years dating! Ups, downs, and all arounds. It’s been an exciting adventure for sure. Looking forward to our 10th anniversary and beyond!

The Place
Simply Fondue in Livermore

The Food
We had the Fondue Feast, which was a complete four-course fondue dinner featuring a shared cheese fondue appetizer, individual gourmet salad, choice of six (6) selections from the columns below, and a shared chocolate fondue dessert. There are more photos in the album for any one who is a foodie and want to know what we ate. :p

GORGONZOLA GREENS – field greens, tomatoes, cucumber, walnuts, herbal croutons, gorgonzola, house raspberry vinaigrette dressing  = YUM!

The entree cooking style we chose was Fondue Grill – a healthy and lite cooking style grilled right at your table.

“our one-of-a-kind incredible chocolate fondues are flambéed tableside and served with moist rich pound cake, jumbo marshmallows, triple chunk brownies, fresh oranges, banana chunks, fresh pineapples, strawberries, chocolate chip cookie dough, rice crispy squares, rolled cookies, and cinnamon sugar donuts”

This was our first time going out for fondue, and no one warned us that it is a whole evening event. :p We were doing this for a long time.

Us
It was dark inside, so this was the best our server could do.

Me…

…and my date

Related:

Let’s Eat! {July Date Night}

Being more intentional about getting time together as a couple sans kiddos meant we had to put it on the calendar. At the end of 2013, I added a monthly date night onto our Google calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. (I wrote more about Marriage Goals in Action at Next Level Mama.) We haven’t planned the dates much beyond that point. Most of our date nights have been having dinner out (because we’re wannabe foodies), but we have stretched ourselves to be creative before, so hopefully we can vary things through the year. Any date night ideas?

July Date Night
We should just get new jobs as restaurant critics. :p Norm found out about this restaurant through some show about restaurants (KQED’s Check Please! Bay Area). I suppose he will review it soon. 😉 We read this place had great tapas. This has nothing to do with the restaurant itself, but when we arrived, the table next to us had empty dishes that were not cleared. I thought they just didn’t have time to clear it, which was not the case since the restaurant was not full at this time. It turned out the patrons went outside for a smoke, and they did that one or two more times during their meal. They were also very loud, and as we were right next to them, it was a little distracting during our meal. At one point, Norm was taking a photo of the food, and the lady got quiet, put her hand toward her mouth and whispered to her date. He looked over and said, “They’re Yelpers.” haha! I love it, we got mistaken for Yelpers! And at another point during their meal, they started up a conversation with the waitress about her private life. TMI!! Anyhow, I hope you don’t get seated next to super loud people when you eat here.

The Place
Federicos in Union City



The Activity

Bruschetta Alla Romana: Grilled Italian bread topped in your choice of style | We got the Mediterranean, which is shrimp, roasted red bell peppers and feta cheese.

Chicken Mole Tacos: Served with avocado, queso fresco and cilantro

Mexican Sea Bass Tempura served with a honey mustard glaze (I think there was mango in there too.)

Shrimp Ceviche: Assorted seafood in a spicy lime vinaigrette over a bed of mixed greens
Choose from the following: Shrimp, Fish or Octopus.  Another waiter thought we ordered this, but it was actually for the loud table next to us.

Eggplant Tower: Grilled tomatoes, eggplant and melted mozzarella cheese with sun-dried tomato…this was not my favorite out of all the dishes we ordered.

Tiramisu

Us
Not the best pic (I need selfie tutorials!), but we got one of us! 🙂

My date and I

This was another Parents’ Night Out sponsored by our church. We are very thankful for this community who encourages us to grow in our marriage, and not only encourages us, but puts it all into action. Free babysitting and dinner for our kiddos while we get to spend some time being husband and wife instead of dad and mom. 🙂

Note: Our laptop is dying so we haven’t even gone through our photos to see what we took photos of…we will share about our fun trip soon. 🙂

Related:

MOPS and Pops {March Date Night}

Being more intentional about getting time together as a couple sans kiddos meant we had to put it on the calendar. At the end of 2013, I added a monthly date night onto our Google calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. (I wrote more about Marriage Goals in Action at Next Level Mama.) We haven’t planned the dates much beyond that point. Most of our date nights have been having dinner out (because we’re wannabe foodies), but we have stretched ourselves to be creative before, so hopefully we can vary things through the year. Any date night ideas?

March Date Night
We were planning a date night on our usual 3rd Monday, but with an unexpected trip to the ER (not that they are ever expected), we decided to have a low key week and just keep our MOPS and Pops night as our date night for the month. MOPS, the mom group that I’m a part of, has a yearly event. There have been different things planned in past years (bowling night, themed dinners, etc), but this year we had a Retro Night. There was childcare for the kiddos (the Gomez family rocks!!) and they had pizza. All the parents got to hang out together for dinner, play some fun games, and heard a great talk by one of the mentor moms and her hubby.

The Place
We were at Redwood Chapel for MOPS and Pops. I liked that this year we were in a smaller room, so that we didn’t seem so far away from other tables. Some of the leaders did a fabulous job setting up the room according to the Retro Night theme.

There were TVs with Atari games that we could play.

The centerpieces on the tables and on the buffet table were great!

The Food
Our food was catered from Texas Roadhouse! Yum!

It was a great spread of food along with the Texas Roadhouse meal – fruits and chips and salsa.

The mashed potato bar was a great idea from MOMcon.

Hostess cupcakes

Activities and Friends
We didn’t do too well on the trivia questions, but our table won Pictionary.

There were some great retro outfits. We were boring and didn’t participate. :p

Great talk about mentoring our kids

A wonderful evening with some great people 🙂

Us
Woohoo! There’s a photo of us for this date night because there was a photo area. 🙂 Thanks Genevieve for some great pics from the night.

A huge thanks to my sister who came at the last minute to hang out with the girls since E’s wound was still pretty fresh and sore.

Related:

Closed on Mondays {February Date Night}

Being more intentional about getting time together as a couple sans kiddos meant we had to put it on the calendar. At the end of 2013, I added a monthly date night onto our Google calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. (I wrote more about Marriage Goals in Action at Next Level Mama.) We haven’t planned the dates much beyond that point. Most of our date nights have been having dinner out (because we’re wannabe foodies), but we have stretched ourselves to be creative before, so hopefully we can vary things through the year. Any date night ideas?

February Date Night
No one shared date night ideas on the last post, and our brains didn’t want to work too hard to think of what to do, so since we’re wannabe foodies anyway, we wanted to try iSushi. We had takeout from there once. When we got there, we found that it was closed. Bummer! We decided on Aroma Cuisine of India. So we walked across the parking lot, and remembered right before we got there that it was closed on Mondays. I was craving sushi since that was the original plan. As we walked back to the car, I remembered that my parents’ restaurant was closed on Mondays, and that restaurants that are opened on the weekends probably took that day off to rest.

The Place
We didn’t want to drive too far for sushi, so we headed to Koyomi. We had been there once before. We settled in, and there was a good trickle of customers the whole time we were there, which was good for a Monday evening. It was kind of a get in and get out kinda date since it had been a long week and weekend.

The Food
Sushi Combo: California Roll with 8 pieces of very fresh chef-selected sashimi.

Lion King Roll: Your typical baked salmon roll.

Caterpillar Roll: Think green as in asparagus and topped with avocado. Interesting with the crunchy asparagus on in the inside.

Us
We didn’t even remember to get a pic of the both of us while we were at the restaurant. I think I was too distracted by the basketball game and the basketball highlights that were showing on the TVs. We did take one when we got home. I seriously need to find out if someone has a “selfie” tutorial. I don’t know how people take such good selfies. :p

So a note to anyone who has regular date nights…don’t expect too many restaurant choices for Monday evening because lots of restaurants are closed on Mondays! :p

Berkeley Restaurant Week {January Date Night}

Being more intentional about getting time together as a couple sans kiddos, we had to put it on the calendar. At the end of 2013, I added a monthly date night onto our Google calendar for the 3rd Monday of the month. (I wrote more about Marriage Goals in Action at Next Level Mama.) We haven’t planned the dates much beyond that point. Most of our date nights have been having dinner out (because we’re wannabe foodies), but we have stretched ourselves to be creative before, so hopefully we can vary things through the year. Any date night ideas?

January Date Night
For January’s date, Norm planned for us to go to a restaurant that was participating in Berkeley Restaurant Week. When we were living in San Francisco, we used to go out during Dine About Town, so it was great to hear that they have something like that in the East Bay.

I can never tire of sunset (or sunrise, but I need to wake up earlier for those) photos.

My date is illuminating. 😉

If you know Berkeley, you know that parking can be just as crazy as SF on the busier streets. We found parking, but there wasn’t any other way to get to the restaurant besides walking with the traffic. Classy, I know.

The Place
Norm’s restaurant of choice was Joshu-ya Brasserie, which is evidently, a Zagat 2014 pick, as well as loved by Yelp.

If it wasn’t “freezing” outside, it would have been nice to be seated near the little pond.

Berkeley Restaurant Week restaurants have special prix fixe menus that have 3 courses for $30 (for dinner).

Have to document that the lights outside turned on. 🙂

We had just ordered, and then we saw that Wendy Hagen was stalking me. Not really. They had just come from a basketball game, and someone recommended this restaurant to them. And they were celebrating her oldest’s 10th birthday. If you have no idea who Wendy is, you should really find out. She’s just a celebrity friend of mine. Again, not really. I just stalk follow her on IG. No, really, go stalk follow her too. She is real, and funny, and inspiring.

The Food
I suppose Norm will write up a review of the restaurant, and let you know what all the yumminess is about in the photos below, but for now, you just get to look. 🙂

Getting ready to dig in!

Dessert

Every time our waiter came by he kept telling us that we were doing a great job finishing our food. He sounded super impressed that we had eaten so much. I’m not sure what to make of that. Thoughts? :p And also, we had a HUGE brunch with my family for dim sum, so we were actually super full when we got there. I guess it really was impressive that we only had a bit of food left at the end.

Us
And I guess this was the only photo of both of us…we weren’t even trying to get a pic of the both of us. We were trying to be sly and take a pic of the cool heat lamp thing outside with the flames going crazy. There were tons of people seated outside because there was a never-ending line out the door after we got there. Good thing I suggested we get there before dinnertime!

Marriage Goals in Action

There is something about a new year that makes all the possibilities seem endless! It is a blank slate to be filled with resolutions or goals. You might have chosen one word to focus on for the year, like I did! There is a  fresh calendar to be filled with activities with friends, family, church, and whatever else is out there.

And then, life happens. We are chaperoning kids’ field trips, chauffeuring kids from one activity to another. Kids get sick. You get sick. The car breaks down…again.

You’ve got a vision for your marriage with your Marriage Mission Statement. In Marriage 101, I have you all set with instructors and resources. You’ve got your community after Meeting Other Couples With Kids. And of course, I know you are thankful for that hubby of yours. So let’s get going.

Instead of giving you some fluff about making goals for your marriage this year, I’m going to challenge you to take action by the end of today, right at this moment if you can!

marriagegoalsI’m a blog contributor at Next Level Mama. To read the remainder of THIS POST, head over to this awesome site!

How will you be more intentional about keeping marriage and your husband a priority this year?

Marriage 101

The back-to-school ads are out, and despite the fact that summer actually ends in mid-September, summer break ends soon for most of the kids in our lives. Whether your kids are in public or private school, or you homeschool or unschool, we all have to agree that this whole ‘learning’ thing never really ends. From elementary school to college, and from job training to workshops, if you really want to ‘master’ anything, you need to study and continue learning.

It is the same way in our marriages. We can’t expect that once we say, “I do” we automatically know how to be a great husband or a great wife. So, let’s go back to school and take a look at a “beginner’s” course on marriage.

Welcome to Marriage 101! While I will be your facilitator for this course, the syllabus is flexible. Choose your own instructors and textbooks, but make sure you complete the assignments for a good grade.

Course Description: Take the Marriage Mission Statement that you have created to find resources that will guide you in building a healthy marriage.

marriagebooks

I’m a blog contributor at Next Level Mama. To read the remainder of THIS POST, head over to this awesome new site!

Do you have a mentor couple in your life? What books have you read that have been helpful to growing your marriage? Complete the assignments, and come back here to let us know how it went.

– Joyce

First Comes Love, Then Comes a Marriage Mission Statement

The Beginning
The other day my six-year-old asked me, “How did you and Daddy meet again?” So I told her about the first time we met. We were in high school at the time. My husband had come to see the youth group musical that I was performing in. “Did you look into each other’s eyes and fall in love?” (I have “Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer” to thank for this question.) No, not exactly. We were actually friends for two years before we started dating. Her questions brought back a lot of memories of how we have grown in our relationships with each other to where we are now.

Image Source: Arguelles Design

Image Source: Arguelles Design

Us as a Couple
I am not a marriage expert by any means, but what I do know in our five years of dating, one year engagement, and almost eight years of marriage, is that marriage takes a lot of work. Once children come into the picture, we have to be even more intentional about setting aside time to be just us as ‘a couple’, instead of us as ‘mom and dad’.

I’m a blog contributor at Next Level Mama. To read the remainder of THIS POST, head over to this awesome new site!

Do you have a marriage mission statement? If not, would you join me in taking action this week to write up a marriage mission statement?

– Joyce