How we Celebrated our First Anniversary

Recently, my sweet husband and I celebrated our very first anniversary. I wanted to give you a sneak peak into our celebrations and share some ideas for your anniversary!

Advice I Received

I once received the advice to always (always!) celebrate your anniversary… Even if that means doing something very small or very cheap. To be honest, I had high expectations. We had an amazing honeymoon (thanks to some generous people), which had probably set my expectations a little too high for the next year. Fortunately, though, when my husband and I looked at our upcoming expenses, we opted for “First Anniversary on a Budget.”

How We Celebrated our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

How We CelebratedHow We Celebrated Our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

As our anniversary was Sunday, we began the festivities on Saturday. We decided to go out for breakfast to our favorite fast-food place (Chick-Fil-A!) and use our 2017 calendar cards (free food!). We picnicked at a local park for lunch and took a nature hike there. Then we ate dinner at the same barbecue restaurant that catered our wedding – what a fun memory! Since we rarely go out to eat, this was a super fun way to celebrate.

On Sunday, we woke up early and headed to a nearby state park in the mountains that offers zip-lining. We completed two parts of the zip-lining course (part three will be released later this summer!) and had a blast! We then ate lunch and walked around the historic town near the park. Our day ended with my husband cooking dinner for us.

Building Intimacy

I am a firm believer in something called “recreational intimacy.” You can read more about it in Josh Squires’s article about intimacy for Desiring God. Basically, recreational intimacy is fostered when couples do fun things together. This fuels mutual enjoyment that leads to connectivity. Also, men typically form relationships “shoulder-to-shoulder” (as opposed to women who typically enjoy more face-to-face interactions), so it makes sense that couples, being one-half male, need to form experiences together.

We were able to experience a first anniversary within our budget and still a celebration. We built our relationship by doing something fun together. This helped us recommit to giving each other grace upon grace and building our marriage over many more years together.

What is a fun and cost-effective way you would recommend to make much of an anniversary celebration?

Mother’s Day: Beautiful Unique Gifts

As a newlywed, this year will be my first mother’s day with a mother-in-law. I have been racking my brain for what would make a nice gift. Honestly, this sweet lady raised my wonderful husband during his difficult years – I want to honor her with something special! I am so excited to have collected these gorgeous and unique mother’s day gift ideas to share. These gifts are perfect for mothers and mothers-in-law, and also grandmothers, aunts, nieces, and sisters-in-law. If you are looking for beautiful, unique, personalized, precious, and not-too-expensive mother’s day gifts, keep reading!

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Mother's Day Gifts Guide | Grace Upon Grace Today

Personalized

Mason Jar From the Kitchen Self-inking Stamp
Personalization is so fun! Why not personalize a self-inking stamp for your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law? I love this “From the Kitchen of…” stamp by arrayforhome at Zazzle.com. It comes in nine different colors and two different sizes. It would be perfect for a lady who likes to cook and bake. Isn’t that mason jar image adorable?
Woodland Wildflower Personalized Social Stationery Notepad
You can completely customize this Woodland Wildflower notepad by kat_parrella (right) because Zazzle.com makes it so easy! What a beautiful design for mothers new and experienced! See more notepad designs here. Zazzle.com can personalize almost anything… Yoga mats and aprons, too!

DecorativeWatercolor World Mom Hand Lettering Quote Throw Pillow

When you picture your mom’s home, does it seem as if she is missing something? Perhaps a couple throw pillows on the couch or something to hang on the wall in the kitchen? This watercolor throw pillow from JunkyDotCom communicates Mother’s Day sentiments in a cute way. It’s also available as an outdoor pillow!

If a special lady in your life has a favorite or cherished china pattern, like my grandmother does, a piece that she’s missing might make a lovely gift. Replacements, Ltd. has one of the largest collections of replacement china and glassware patterns, and they make beautiful custom pieces out of extra china. For example, I ordered a clock made out of a plate from the same pattern as my grandmother’s china. It made a memorable gift for both of us. (You can see my grandmother’s china pattern in this post’s featured image. Isn’t it lovely?)

I also love the gorgeous monograms that I’ve seen on front doors recently. I even got one for my wedding! Initials are not just for newlyweds, though. Mothers and grandmothers would love this more refined take on modern monogram signs. Look how gorgeous that circle design is!

Faith-BasedDevotional Journal for Moms | Morgan Harper Nichols Shop

I am honored that my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law are all believers. What joy this brings to my heart! If you share your faith with the special lady you are gift-hunting for, why not give her a gift that will bless her soul? Morgan Harper Nichols (the lovely lady behind Her Binder Project) has released these gorgeous devotional journaling for moms pages. They are beautiful and are a perfect match to the monthly Her Binder Project devotionals. (You can also catch seven days of the mom journal for free here!)

A lovely gift to celebrate a significant mother’s day would be a Bible or devotional book. The New Mom’s Prayer Bible comes highly recommended, as does the Mom’s Devotional Bible, and both are New International Version. There are other lovely options for mothers who prefer the New King James Version (this gorgeous large print edition) and ladies who would like to journal in their Bibles (see my review of two popular journaling Bibles). A woman who is interested in learning more about Scripture might enjoy studying the Women of the Bible yearlong devotional. Don’t forget to write a personal note in the front cover of the book!

Which mother’s day gifts best suit your mom or mom-in-law?

P.S. Want to share this gift guide with your friends? (Or give your husband some ideas?) Pin this for later!

Mother's Day Gift Guide | Grace Upon Grace Today

How to Divide Household Chores {Plus Freebie!}

Of all the aspects of married life, one of the most difficult parts of our first few months of marriage was the division of household chores. We got married in June and, as teachers, went back to work at the beginning of August. Suddenly, we both went from working 0 hours per week to working over 40. We had to reevaluate how to divide chores, household maintenance, and cleaning tasks.

I would like to say that I instantly knew how to solve the problems of what I perceived as an unequal division of labor. Unfortunately, that’s not true. I ended up complaining and arguing with my husband about who had to do what. What I should have done was begin a conversation. When we finally sat down and talked about it, I realized that I had no reason to be upset. We were able to solve our problems so easily just by being honest with each other!

Here are my steps to fairly dividing household chores.

How to Divide Household Chores | Grace Upon Grace Today | how to divide chores, how to share household responsibilities in a marriage

Make a List

The first step in your conversation is to make a list of everything that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, twice-weekly, monthly, twice-monthly, and yearly basis. The good news is that I have already done for you in my beautiful chore chart. It is three pages of a variety of tasks. Subscribe to receive it free!

Once we created that list, we were able to see exactly how much had to be done around the house. It was a lot! I felt that my husband and I understood each other’s concerns better when we had a written list. This alleviated the “Why do you never put away the laundry?” complaints.

Assign Tasks and Frequencies

Someone once said that if your spouse hates vacuuming, but can tolerate washing dishes, you should take on the task of vacuuming. It’s just polite and thoughtful. It shows love and consideration towards your spouse, and helps you work together as a team. My husband and I followed this after we had written our list. I do not like washing the hand-wash only dishes, but I do not really mind any of the other chores. My husband signed up for dishes first.

It is also important to consider the frequency of tasks.  How often do you want to change the sheets on the beds? Or take out the trash? Or check the smoke detector? How often should you? Thankfully, I have already done this for you on the chore chart!

Fair is not Always Equal

In an imaginary world, husbands and wives have exactly the same number of household duties that perfectly match their desired jobs. (Or they have a maid!) However, this does not always work out in real life. For example, a stay-at-home spouse should have different duties than a spouse who works full time. If both spouses work equal hours, one should not have more duties than the other. A spouse who has physical limitations should not be assigned the outdoor lawn-care tasks.

Some of this is common sense, but it is important to note that neither the husband nor the wife gets a free pass when it comes to chores. As a team, each must contribute to the cleanliness and safety of the home. Since my husband and I had both lived on our own before we got married, we both felt confident doing our own dishes, laundry, and yard care. I’m so thankful for that opportunity.

Set a Routine

The best way to alleviate arguments over who does what at home is to make the household chores run efficiently. It’s almost like a machine. If I always empty the wastebaskets on Monday nights and my husband always rolls the trash can out to the road on Tuesday mornings, there’s no fuss each week. The key is establishing those routines and sticking to them early in your marriage, and then reevaluating every so often. For example, if my husband studies for a Master’s degree or if I stay home with children, those pre-determined chore assignments might change. In addition, a family with older children might assign certain jobs to their children.

Write it Down

I’m a visual person. It helped me tremendously to write each chore and mark when it had been completed. That’s the beauty of my chore chart: I have already labeled the weeks and months. Just place a checkmark in each box as you complete it. I keep my chart on the refrigerator, but it would also be perfect in your homemaking binder. We’ve been using our copy of the chore chart for over four months, and the fights about chores and duties have all but disappeared.

How does your family avoid arguments about household duties?