7 Ways to Stay Connected During Busy Seasons

April 14th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season

I told someone the other day that my husband and I aren’t even ships passing in the night right now. We’re more like ships in completely different oceans.

Thankfully, we do live in the same house. My husband isn’t deployed or traveling extensively for work. But he does work incredibly long hours on the night shift, which means our time together – as a couple and as a family – is extremely limited.

Recently we’ve been attending a marriage class at our church, and one of the topics we’ve covered is connection. In our particular group it felt like my husband and I have a unique struggle, but I know that’s not the case in general. I have many friends whose husbands are gone at either unusual or unpredictable times or for extended time (and sometimes both). When one or both spouses are away from home a lot, staying connected can be difficult.

If you or your husband work an odd shift, work more than one job, work in law enforcement or medicine, own or run a business, serve in the military, or any other number of things that keep you busy, connecting with him may take what feels like a superhuman effort. And, of course, if you’re already running on steam because of that exhausting schedule, that make seem impossible!

But it’s not. Staying connected to your husband doesn’t mean you need to plan (and pay for – ugh!) a weekend getaway every month. You don’t need to schedule walks on the beach or candlelit dinners, or fear the consequences. (Although, let’s be honest. If you live near the beach or own candles, those things never hurt!) Staying connected to your husband during super busy, crazy chaotic seasons can happen with a few simple, intentional moves.

First, maybe we should define “staying connected,” though. When I use that phrase, I mean that both spouses maintain a warm feeling about one another, showing each other kindness and attempting to make the other one feel loved on a regular basis. What keeping that loving feeling looks like, tangibly and practically, in YOUR marriage? That’s up to you (and your husband)!

Now, on to the tips!

7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season

7 Ways to Stay Connected During Busy Seasons

Date Nights: I know, I know – big surprise! Date nights = everyone’s solution for improving your marriage! But seriously, you guys. Finding time to spend together, alone, is crucial. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Last week we had our monthly date night scheduled but I couldn’t find a babysitter. So I reserved a movie rental and made sure we had popcorn in the pantry, and we still had time together after putting the girls to bed.

Eat a Meal Together: Since we’re already talking about busy seasons, it’s obvious that eating dinner together each evening may be difficult or even impossible. But if you can’t eat dinner together, can you eat breakfast at the same time? Meet for lunch? Feed the kids at the normal time and eat with your husband later? Skype while you eat your meals in completely different time zones? However you arrange it, something about sharing a meal creates a closeness that can’t be duplicated with other food-free interactions.

Send Him a Message: I send my husband a text message each night before going to bed. It’s the end of my day but the middle of his work day, and I just want to make sure he knows I’m thinking of him. We’ve also started using Voxer, a voice message (and text message) app on our phones that allow us to leave messages for each other when we’re thinking about it – without waking each other up (a problem since our schedules are opposite). Maybe those things would work for you, or perhaps you need nightly phone calls or morning Skype dates. The point is to keep communicating so you can stay on the same page, even if you’re not in the same room.

Watch a Show Together: One of the perks to having a husband who works nights is that I don’t have to share the remote or negotiate the shows we watch. However, it also means that we’ve picked a handful of shows that we record and watch together on the weekend. And when “our” shows aren’t on, we watch something together on Netflix.

Others might say that watching TV together isn’t spending quality time together. But for us, it is. It’s something we only do together and it’s something we have in common. And though you might not think deep conversations could come from watching the latest episode of Castle or catching up on all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, you would be wrong.

7 Ways to Stay Connected During a Busy Season

Share a Hobby: If TV isn’t your thing, maybe you could read a book together and discuss it when you finally have time together. Or plant a garden together or refinish furniture together or train for a 5K together. (Or train for a 5K separately and then run the race together.) As long as you’re doing something together that you both enjoy, you’re connecting!

Write Him a Letter: My husband doesn’t know it, but on the rare occasion he leaves a note for me (“Don’t forget toilet paper at the store,” “Please wake me up at 4:30,” “Here’s that check to deposit.”), I keep them. There’s something special about seeing his handwriting and his words written just for me – even if they are about mundane, everyday things. It reminds me of the days when we dated and exchanged notes and letters, the days when the most serious thing we had to discuss was our feelings for each other.

Today I’m more likely to send that nightly text or scribble a sentence or two in a birthday card than write him a love letter. But I do think about it sometimes. I wonder if I could convince him to share a journal where we left each other notes. I wonder if I could make time to actually write him a letter. On paper. With a pen. I can’t say I have experience with this tip, but after all my wondering, I’m certain that doing this – even every once in a while – would amp up my connection with my husband.

Think Happy Thoughts: Even before my husband worked nights, he worked evenings. And before that, he worked two jobs. So we’ve had lots of practice fighting the drift of missed connection. For many years I spent that time alone, annoyed and resentful. That strategy is NOT the way to stay connected with your husband, in case you were wondering.

I’ll be completely honest: I still struggle with resentment sometimes. A schedule like ours is super annoying and can be super frustrating, too. But when I maintain a good attitude, focusing on the good parts of our life, remembering all the many reasons I love him, and expressing gratitude instead of grumbling, it’s a whole lot easier to connect with my husband when he finally gets home.

How do you stay connected to your husband during busy seasons?

Photos by Richard Min, bigbirdz, and Natalie Lucier.

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Apron Full of Giveaways 04.14.15

April 14th, 2015

gingham apron via Etsy

Source: Wild Rose Farms,  $20.00


Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

April 13th, 2015


Looking for a fresh new idea for topping those summer salads? Today I am sharing an easy recipe for Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders that you can even make-ahead and freeze for your busy week over at the Wild Oats blog!

I’m so excited to be joining as a contributor at the Wild Oats blog this year to share fresh & fun dishes for busy families. I’m not sure if you have heard of the product line before, but it is the new organic line available at your local Walmart store. I agreed to the partnership because I know that organic food is important to many of you, but I also understand how difficult it can be to eat organic on a budget. It is the two things that our family struggles with too. When Wild Oats presented at a meeting that I attended for Walmart, their enthusiasm for their products and the pride they took in them was, frankly, contagious. When they reached out to me, I knew it would be a great partnership to encourage healthy eating.  I also think you will be pleased with the price point on these products when you browse the grocery aisles and I want to show you ways to use these affordable pantry staples in a new way you might not have thought of before!

I will be sharing an idea on their blog once a month and one idea on my blog! I hope you will love these recipe creations as much as I do. The bonus is that each of these dishes will also be gluten-free! Yay!

Now that you have heard why I am so excited about this, be sure to head over this delicious Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders recipe!



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It’s the 3 Little Things (With Lisa): The Bubbliest of Baths, Highlighting the Good Stuff, & Dark, Dark Chocolate

April 10th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

I am overwhelmed with the response from opening up our 3 Little Things to you all and can’t wait to start sharing all of these fun lists from some of my favorite people! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Today I have a guest happy list from one of my favorite commenters and supporters of MomAdvice, Lisa Whitney! She doesn’t  have a blog but reads several  with her morning cup of coffee and she says that this is one of her favorite parts of the day. She is a wife, mom of the sweetest 7-year old little boy and a Registered Dietitian in Reno, NV. She also happens to leave the BEST lists each week in our comments section so I am thrilled she offered to share another one today! 

Let’s peek at a few of Lisa’s favorites today!

Lush Brightside Bubble Bar

Brightside Bubble Bar (from Lush)

I don’t have a Lush nearby so when we travel and see a store I can never resist picking up a bath bomb or my favorite facial (chocolate cupcake!). This time we decided to try something new, the brightside bubble bar. The salesperson suggested I use half the bar on one bath. I cut mine in thirds and one section made a massive amount of bubbles. I cut back even more to make the bar last longer when I realized that breaking off just the smallest bit is still just as luxurious. The smell is like an orange creamsicle and it leaves the bath a beautiful bright orange (without leaving an awful film on the tub).

Mary-Lou Manizer

Mary-Lou Manizer 

I am more into makeup now than I was as a teenager and love discovering new things. This highlighter is so beautiful, it gives my face a shimmery sun-kissed glow. Bonus, I ordered mine from Amazon and it came with the softest brush for just a couple dollars more.

Trader Joe's Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bar

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate Bars

Trader Joe’s sells these huge bars for only $4.99. The bar is broken into several thick little blocks, one is the perfect after-meal treat. They come in several flavors, my favorite being the 72% dark chocolate. Since a high-quality single dark chocolate bar sells for $3-5 this is a bargain which amazingly lasts for a very long time. You can bake with it also although I have not done so. I don’t live near an Aldi anymore but I used to and remember they had something similar.

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Lisa, for generously sharing the happy today!

In my world… Capsule Wardrobe Ideas (current capsule HERE).  The April steal is my white blazer in the lower right corner from thredUP. Are you following me on Instagram? I post 4 outfits each week!

Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Flourish Boutique Accessories

Flourish Boutique Accessories


I had so much fun shopping at our site sponsor’s shop, Flourish Boutique, this past week for some accessories to update the wardrobe. If you are looking for some fun new Spring accessories, I can’t recommend them enough for cute and affordable costume jewelry. MomAdvice readers can get 25% off any of their regular priced merchandise using the code WEB25!

Happy Easter 2015 from the Clark Family

We hope your family had a Happy Easter! I’m pretty proud of my little crew this year. I don’t know about you, but I was scrambling until the last minute gathering Easter finery for the kids and stuff for their baskets. After some last minute shopping and a heck of a lot of ironing (oh, and a lot of leg make-up…ahem), I was so proud how we shined up this year.

As a side note, the doctor confirmed that my son is now beating me by an inch, confirming that he is now officially taller than me. As many of you have seen him grow up from the age of 1 on this site and now (almost) 13 (STOP IT), this is pretty darn shocking to me. I am now rocking the heels and bossing him around the house like usual!

Finally, here is a little LOL that I was busting up over (hat tip to Whoorl for finding this one).  What?  People don’t care when you leave FB? No way! Ha!  Happy Friday, friends! xoxo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?


Freebie Friday April 10, 2015

April 10th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we’re introducing our April M Challenge: focus on Loving Your Home and sharing a fun Loving Your Home Tour as well as 15 easy DIY updates to help you love the home you have. If you’ve got 5 minutes, you’ll want to make these reusable floor pads to easily clean your home, too! And our newest author interview is with Amanda Eyre Ward about her book,  The Same Sky, for our Sundays With Writers series, which I just know you’ll enjoy as much as I did.

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink

Coke Zero Beverage at Target

Reese’s Candy after Coupon

Health & Beauty

Cerave Sample Gift Box


The Secret Garden eBook

Little Women eBook

Veggie Eating Tracker Printable

Frog Activity Pack Printable

Minecraft Story Starters Printable

The Jungle Book eBook

This Week’s Freebie Events: April 11 – 17

11th – Barnes & Noble: Join storytime featuring I Wish You More, 11 am

11th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Sunny Days Birdhouse, 11 am – 3 pm

11th – Lowe’s: Build a See-It-Grow Gardening Kit, 10 am


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Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

April 9th, 2015

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

One of my favorite features on Design Mom is her Living With Kids series. I am constantly bookmarking ideas for my own space after seeing the spaces that these homeowners create.  As a DIY-er, I appreciate all the hard work and hours that go into truly making a space your own and since we are tackling the Love the Home You Have series this month, I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of someone’s home who has truly personalized her space.

You see, my friends are incredible designers of their spaces and I am sure there is something you have done in your own home that is incredibly YOU. If you are interested in sharing a space with me, I’d love to feature it! Just take some pictures and explain what you did and email them to amy@momadvice.com.  I would love to show off a corner in your home too that has helped you fall in love with the home you have.

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Today we are touring Anna’s home. I actually bombarded her at the gym when she posted pictures of her incredible step makeover. I begged to look at it and photograph it. One thing lead to another and somehow not only am I touring her space, but we are karaoking until the wee hours of the morning. She’s that kind of person. I’m that kind of person. Things just move rather quickly in our worlds.

Anna Drew (A.R. Drew) is an incredibly gifted painter who not only paints beautiful artwork, but shares her love of painting with others by teaching art classes to children in her own home and gives to her community through a new idea she has had called #projectblankspace. She’s been working with youth at the Center for the Homeless because, with her background as a therapist, she knows the therapeutic abilities that art can bring to our lives. She makes beautiful pieces for people’s homes and has a personality as big as her paintings.

I brought my camera so let’s take a virtual tour of Anna’s beautiful space today!

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

The first thing you see when you walk into this space are these incredible steps.  With the beautiful white canvas around them, your eye gravitates towards these gorgeous navy steps. This is one of their proudest DIY’s that she and Brian did.
Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

To create this staircase they ripped out their carpet and then ripped out one million staples (direct quote). They then used wood-filler to fill in the grain and sanded, then repeated this process three times. Next they primed with an oil-based bonding primer, added rope molding on the thread edge front and side using a miter saw and nail gun, and finished using Bondo to fill in any perfections.

Next they painted three times with the oil paint (they did have it deglossed at the paint store to have them look slightly matte and be less slippery) and added  then wallpaper as their finishing touch to this makeover. The couple said that it  took 5 or 6 weeks with the walls and painting wainscoting and about 80 hours of time, in total.

They admit that it was a ton of work, but both agree that the work paid off.

For those trying to replicate this project the step riser paint color is Naval (from Sherwin Williams) and the wainscotting is Westhighland White (also from Sherwin Williams). The wallpaper used for this project was also from Sherwin Williams and they say it cost approximately $160 for 3 double rolls, but said it only took 3 single rolls. The install cost approximately $100.

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

I love how Anna has her beautiful art displayed up the stairs to personalize this space. What could be more personal than your own artwork? The eye is naturally drawn to these paintings with the fresh crisp paint they have chosen.

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

The cabinets were painted a fresh white and the kitchen was painted the most lovely shade in Stratton Blue (from Benjamin Moore). I’m such a fan of these vintage theater seats that line the wall and this cool satellite photo of San Francisco, both affordable finds from thrifting and antiquing.

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Anna’s studio is so light-filled that I had a hard time taking photos in here, which is just the kind of bright and lovely space you would want as an artist to create your work. Not only is this her space, but it is a communal space that she shares art with kids and teaches them to release their own inner artists. In every corner there is something beautiful to look at and it is one of my favorite spaces in their home.


Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

The home is spacious and they had a room that they decided to transform into Anna’s own dreamy closet, complete with a seating area so she can have friends (or her awesome photographer sister) over to gab while they try on clothes. The wall was wallpapered with wallpaper from Target (who knew?) and the ladder and the vanity were created using thrift store items and painted to create this cohesive set. They had someone install this thrifted ladder to really complete the space.

I told her about my capsule wardrobe project and she was like, “No.”

Now I know who to borrow clothes from when I have an event. I kind of want to drag my 33-pieces and set up shop right in here.

Love Your Home Tour (With A.R. Drew)

I hope you enjoyed this home tour and please, please give A.R. Drew a LIKE on Facebook. She’s an incredible artist (who also teaches locally)  and that is one way we can thank her for this beautiful home tour and inspiration! What is your favorite spot in this space?



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15 Easy DIYs That Will Help You Love Your Home

April 9th, 2015

15 Easy DIY Updates To Help You Love Your Home

It’s no secret around here that we’re not living in my dream house. But in the last few years, thinking about all we have and our many blessings, this house has become our little-home-that-could. We love it more and more. That’s one of the reasons I am so excited to be focusing on Love Your Home for our April M Challenge – it’s been a life-changer for us!

Besides the change in mindset, one of the biggest ways we’ve increased our contentment with the home we have is by tackling small DIY projects that have had a big impact in our life in this home. Do it yourself projects always come with a great sense of accomplishment, but when that feeling also helps you love your space more? That’s a win-win.

So I’ve collected 15 easy DIYs that will help you love your home more from our archives and inexpensive ideas from other great blogs – let’s all find a way to love the home we have! (note: I’d love for you to pin the title image for this page, but for each project, please pin from the original sources – thanks!)

Easy Home Updates from Mom Advice:


Simple updates to refresh corners – or any spaces!


Turn an unused shed into a hideaway, guest room, office, or anything you need!


Refresh your space by styling (and decluttering!) your bookshelves.


Make your craft/office space work better with these organizing solutions.


Change up standard bookcases with an inexpensive fabric makeover.


Make guests feel welcomed to your home with a sweet basket (& free printables!).

 Other Easy Home Updates

Spray Paint Door-Knobs via Handle The Heat

Spray paint knobs & pulls @ Handle The Heat

Painting Tile via Live Love DIY

Paint your dated tile @ Live Love DIY

DIYBudgetBathReno-via Beautiful Matters

Redo your bathroom inexpensively @ Beautiful Matters

DIY Framed Bathroom Mirror via Liz Marie Blog

Or just frame out a builder mirror for a big impact @ Liz Marie Blog

$1200 Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel via An Oregon Cottage

Paint, add counters, sink and accessories to remodel a kitchen for under $1200 @ An Oregon Cottage

Peel-Stick Backsplash Tiles via Thrifty Crafty Girl

Or simply update your backsplash with peel-and-stick tile @ Thrifty Crafty Girl

DIY-Plank-Wall-with-Fence-Boards via Fox Hollow Cottage

Create an inexpensive plank accent wall @ Fox Hollow Cottage

Install a new light fixure via Sawdust and Embryos

Easily change out your light fixtures (this makes a huge change for low $ !) @ Sawdust & Embryos

Painting vinyl floors via Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body

Paint right over ugly vinyl or linoleum @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

So many great ideas! How are you learning to love the home you have?

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Amy’s Notebook 04.08.15

April 8th, 2015

Home Tour via Design Sponge

Source: Design Sponge


I’m swooning over this beautiful home tour.

Best online fabric sources.

World’s most adorable growth chart.

A great piece on the power in minimizing.

One of the best articles I have read on how to not over schedule your family.

This sounds promising.

A new way to look at giving- hat tip to Hollywood Housewife for this great find!

10 things productive people do before bed – oh, I want to be one of them.

The home I have is enough.

Travel Tips with Google Maps via Kelly Purkey

Source: Kelly Purkey


Everything I didn’t know about Google maps.

I love invisible jokes.

An inexpensive kitchen refresh.

Where did the litter box go?

I need to learn the art of jewelry stacking.

Design Mom goes blonde.

If you wouldn’t do it for free, don’t do it for money.

An interesting perspective on my new favorite show.

Yoga pants are ruining women.


I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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DIY Reusable Floor Pads

April 7th, 2015

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

Are you as in love with your quickie mop as I am? I have been feeling guilty about the amount of disposable pads we were going through to tidy our hardwood floors and I was super unhappy with the streaky finish we were getting on our flooring. In an effort to have streak-free floors AND be a little more loving towards our environment, I have the quickest and easiest tutorial to DIY both the wet and the dry pads for your floors!

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to get this quick recipe and tutorial for all of your cleaning needs. As a bonus, these also work brilliantly for wiping up messes on your countertops or bathrooms!

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m challenge: Focus On Love Your Home

April 7th, 2015

the m-challenge

Welcome to our fourth month  in the m challenge series.  If you missed our focus on Fashion last month, be sure to visit the syllabus where we have gathered everything you need to get caught up! I don’t want you to miss a single moment of this inspiring series. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am and I look forward to tackling another topic with you!


For this month, our site focus is on Loving the Home You Have. I will be sharing some ways that we have made the most of the space we are living in, tutorials for cleaning and caring for your home, as well as updating existing items in your house to make the most of them. We will also have some guest posts from others with advice on making the most of what you have. I am really excited about this month because this project has been so personal to me. Our little fixer-upper has taught me the challenges of really making the most of what you have and I have really been falling in love with our little house over the last few years.

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

This month’s book club selection to go along with the topic is Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels from The Inspired Room. Melissa will be joining us with some tips for loving the space you are already in (no matter what kind of space it is) and I have found this book both inspirational and motivational in making our home the best it can be no matter what your budget.

I look forward to another fun month of learning and chatting with you this month!