{How to Keep Dating Your Spouse When You Can’t Afford to go on a Date}


There are seasons to life.

When hubby and I were dating before marriage we could pretty much afford to go out to eat, or get ice cream, or attend a sporting event whenever we wanted.

Early in our marriage we took trips, went to concerts, went to an actual theater to watch movies, ate out a few times a week.


Then, the babies came. This definitely decreased our ability to leave the home. What with a nursing child and such.  Add on top of that a major decrease in salary for me (going from working full-time to maternity leave to part-time to maternity leave to online work-from-home teacher) and dates were no longer even affordable.

I think we went a full seven months before we went on a date just the two of us after our second daughter was born.

However, I didn’t really feel deprived.  Having two babies so close together and living on a tight budget taught us some awesome ways to keep dating, even when we couldn’t go on dates.


I read, in Women Living Well, by Courtney Joseph, that date night is a cultural thing.  Meaning, it doesn’t exist in most of the cultures of the world.  It is also a generational thing.  Meaning, generations ago it didn’t exist either.

So, what did people do in the past?  What do people do elsewhere?

I think the answer is simple.  They simply BE. Being together is the vital ingredient necessary to date night.  If you have flowers, fancy clothes, delicious food, and great entertainment it still isn’t a date unless your significant other is there.  The BEING together is what makes it a date.

I’m sure you already do many of the things that I am about to list, but it is the intentionality and perspective behind these things that can change them from routine to a date!


So, here is how hubby and I date when we can’t afford a date:

1. We Find a Common Interest:

One way we do this is by choosing ONE show at a time to follow.  We find something on Google play or Netflix that we love and then we only watch that.  That way, instead of having a “whaddya wanna watch” moment where we simply veg out at the end of an exhausting day, it is something we look forward to.  We talk about it.  We get excited to watch “Our Show” as we affectionately call it.  It doesn’t feel like wasted time.  It feels like purposeful time.  A show is also much shorter than a movie, so we watch one episode and still have time to chat or do something else.

Another way we connect is through food, because FOOD!  This may seem silly or gross to you, but we take pleasure in a spontaneous decision to pick up Criss-cut fries at Carl’s Jr. or to skip cooking dinner and grab some T-Bell after the kids are asleep.  Often hubby will run out to grab it and also come back with our favorite ice cream treat from the grocery store.  These moments don’t feel like man-we-can’t-afford-a-fancy-dinner or I’m-too-tired-to-cook-just-go-get-something, because they have become special to us.  Bonded us.  We choose to look at the act of sneakily eating greasy, bad for you, fast food as a fun thing that we do together.

2. At-Home Movie Nights:

This is not a revolutionary idea by any means, but we try to make it extra fun.  We watch movies here and there, typically from Rebox (often with a free rental code). However, we always try to make it fun!  We pop popcorn in the Whirley Pop, eat a favorite dinner while watching the movie (Breakfast for dinner, Pizza, Cobb salads with tons of bacon). I usually reserve our rental during the day and then send hubby a text telling him I rented a movie.  I might say something like, “Movie and Pizza tonight!” or “Can’t wait to watch a movie and pop popcorn with you tonight!”  Hubby always says that getting that message makes him excited.  It adds anticipation.  It feels like a “date night” when there is a formal invite and a specific plan.

3. Reading:

This, in some ways, is a new one for us.  We have nights where we both read separate books and while we are near each other, I wouldn’t count that as BEING with one another.  With the movie “The Giver” in theaters, we decided to read the book aloud together in the evenings.  So, we get ready for bed, snuggle up, and read a few chapters.  We often chat about what is happening in the story.  Doing this together bonds us in new ways.  We are connecting intellectually and I love it!

4. Outdoor Entertainment:

We do a lot of outdoor activities with the kids, but escaping to the outdoors with just the two of us is rare. Although, we totally could and should and it would be awesome and free!  However, there are ways to be outside together while at home.  We use our yard!  Sometimes this looks like coffee outside on the patio, or eating  snacks on the lounge chairs while the kids nap and discussing our dreams for our yard.  Sometimes we sit in the hammock and rock.  We have even built fires in the fire pit and had s’mores by ourselves or just simply sat and talked.  Once we went up on the roof and watched the sun rise (and now that we own a ladder we will do it again).  We could even star gaze up there. It is much cheaper to invest in items that make your yard seem like a special place than it is to go out to eat or to seek entertainment at special places.  In fact, I just ordered solar twinkle lights for over the hammock and I foresee many more outdoor “date nights” in the yard as a result!

5. Games:

We don’t do this enough, but whenever we do it is awesome.  A favorite is Sequence.  We’ve also had fun in the past with our Wii.  Being competitive with your spouse is always fun. Again, we try to make it special.  We’ve played at a card table by candlelight before with hot chocolate in fun mugs. This can overlap with outdoor activities if you have lawn games and lights!


As you can see, I don’t really have any new ideas.  In fact, most of my ideas might just sound like LIFE to you.  But, here is where it is different.  We view these simple moments as special.  We cherish them.  We anticipate them and enjoy them thoroughly instead of wishing for a fancy night out on the town.

Then, when we do get those nights, they are AMAZING!  It feels like something incredibly special and no moment is wasted.  Just this past weekend some friends blessed us with a gift card to a nice restaurant and babysitting!  We went for a mini-walk to a local dried up lake (to see what it looked like without water during this CA drought), then we went to dinner.  It was such a special time.  We enjoyed every moment from choosing an appetizer to share to sharing a dessert at the end and we talked about everything under the sun.

And you know what?  When we came home, we still had time before bed and you know what we chose to do?  We watched “our show” and snuggled up to read a few chapters of “our book”. And that was so good too.

I encourage you, if you are in a season where “dating” is difficult, be intentional.  View the time you do have differently.  So many ordinary moments can be special.  In the long run, you aren’t going to be saying “remember that restaurant we went to on September 8th, 2014?” No, you will be saying, “Remember how we use to always snuggle up on the couch and watch shows with our greasy criss cut fries after the kids went to bed?”

Don’t look down upon your inability to go “out”.  Don’t feel that your relationship isn’t as good or as romantic as someone else’s who is able to eat out and go to movies all the time. Who knows?  They might have been fighting about where to eat or how much to tip!  Instead, just love your spouse.  That can be done anytime, anywhere.



Oh hey.

Insta-friday, I have neglected you, but I have not neglected Instagramming (I’m jenanninga if you want to follow).

I love instagram.  It’s quick, easy, beautiful, and inspiring.

I love how it makes me treasure simple moments and inspires me through the special moments of others.

On that note, please follow @joyprouty on Instagram . . . you will thank me . . . you will also basically know every childhood dream I ever had because she is LIVING THEM!

Anyway, here are a hod podge of instas from the last few weeks.  I’m linking up with Life.Rearranged, so head on over and check her out as well . . . Oh, and buy the twinkle lights she links to because they are amazing.  I did!


We had a lovely vacation in Yosemite and this was the view . . . from our TENT!  Amazing.

Also amazing is our little Elle. She is basically this happy all. the. time.  I do not exaggerate.

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Baking with mom is one of Addie’s new favorites and it is sort of mine too.

Also, their room.  I love it.  I cleaned it this day . . . well at least the half you can see.





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Our bedroom, however, has been temporry quarters for child #2 for the past 9 months.  She takes her afternoon naps in here and starts her nights in here because an unnamed toddler takes FOREVER to go to sleep.  I was tired of stepping around the Pack ‘n’ Play and too lazy to put it away twice a day, so this is the temporary solution. In 816 square feet, we are always rearranging.

And then there is the unnamed toddler.  She is a passionate and persistent one, which has its difficulties and its wonders.

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Littlest one can sit up in a cart now and it is pretty much the cutest.

Also the cutest are those buns . . . the hair buns to be more specific.

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I love the relationship between this girl and her Daddy. Everything we discuss she has to tell daddy, everything she accomplishes she has to show daddy.  He teaches her special things, like the art of peanut cracking.  she was so proud.

I am in love with all of the unfinished wood thingys at Michael’s.  I want them all.  So, I bought one for a buck and made this because, again, 816 square feet . . . and knocking delivery men.

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This photo of me gardening in a dress caused a bit of a stir, so allow me to clarify.  Yes, I garden.  Yes, I often garden with a child on my back.  No, I do not typically garden in a dress.  We were headed out for a drive to some apple farms (So, a gingham dress was necessary, obvs.), but I wanted to get our lettuce plants in the ground first.  Lettuce plants that I do believe are already dying.  Fail.

Not a fail is the chair upgrade in our backyard. They don’t really fit  perfectly since they are designed for World Market chairs and these are old school chairs I got for free, but they work and I can alter them, and they were $4.50 per chair!  I have big, grand plans for this section of the patio, but I’m lacking the cash flow.  I am content with this and have been using this area a ton!

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Well, summer is officially over in the sense that I have begun working again.  Two days a week I teach online classes.  I begin at 6:45 am.  I teach 5 classes.  While part of me wants to grumble and imagines all the time I would have for other things if I didn’t have to teach, I am humbled and awed that I have been blessed with this opportunity.  I mean, I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE to go to work.  That is HUGE!

Addie has also started “school”, basically this means that I am increasingly intentional with her play time and we take some time here and there to do very specific learning activities. You may think this is ridiculous with a two-year-old, but girl knows all her colors, shapes, letters, memorizes songs, books, and Bible verses easily, talks in paragraphs, can legitimately count, understands abstract concepts, and remembers everything I ever say.  So, she needs a challenge!

Elle, however, is content to swing.  She is also adorable.

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You. Guys.  This dollhouse.  It was mine.  It was my favorite.  Peaked roof rooms?  A balcony on the roof? Chimmneys, scalloped shingles, a staircase? My dream home!  I am redoing it for Addie.  It will be her Christmas gift.  I told hubby, “I am going to decorate it the way I would decorate our house if I was brave, so it will be awesome!”  I plan to do it all for free, but there will be painting, “wall-papering”, furniture upcycling and more.  Be prepared for more posts on this bad boy.


I leave you with these two photos.  Sweet Ellery spent a lot of time crying last night because a certain older sister didn’t go to bed.  Instead, this certain older sister did some climbing and got into the diaper bag.  Then proceeded to smear lip gloss on the wall and in her hair and to drink hand sanitizer.  Mom and Dad had to wash her hair in the sink  (and again this morning) and call Poison control and then pump her full of juice and cookies and observe her for an hour.  All the while enduring numerous tantrums resulting from exhaustion.  816 square feet is not conducive to sound-proofing a baby’s room.  So Ellery had to get up as well . . . BUT she said “Mama”.  It has been, “Dadadadadadada” all the live long day until that moment . . . and since, but I heard it . . . distinctly.  So, it was worth it.


I decided to take today easy and to make it a good day after last night’s shenanigans.  We turned the praise music up real loud and baked muffins (which Addie refused to eat, ha) and it was a good morning.i2 i1


Phew . . . that was a lot.  You are officially caught up.  What have you been up to?  Any toddler shenanigans in your life?  If not, I have plenty more to share . . . like the fact that my daughter has been not-napping for the past two hours and has torn her room apart . . . in fact . . . I better go . . .

{Yosemite Vacation 2014}

I love Yosemite.  I always have.

I grew up visiting there almost every Spring break. Hiking up waterfalls, eat lunch on the banks of alpine lakes.  It was heaven to me.

I feel so blessed to be able to continue this tradition with our family!

I got up early one morning and used both my phone and laptop in an attempt to book a campsite in the valley (the book within seconds) and – Praise the Lord – I got one!

This was our view.
























Literally.  We sat watching the sun rise over the top of half dome while eating breakfast and we watched the glow of the sun fade on the face of half dome while eating dinner.  It was magical.

There was river access AT our campsite.  Scott could sit in a chair a few feet from me sipping his coffee while he watched Addie splash in the water (since that is pretty much ALL she wanted to do).


I know this pic is washed out, but HER EYES!  I can never really explain their color to people, so I love this pic!


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Early mornings by the water.


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Oh you know, just chillin’ in my pack ‘n’ play, watching the sun set on Half Dome._MG_3346 

We found Ellery Lake! Of course, we had to get some photos of our own little Ellery there.

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 I brought only books and crayons, but they were pretty much only used in the car.  The girl dug in the dirt, splashed in the water, and hiked with the best of them.

We made sandwiches and packed snacks for our outings and cooked on our camping stove (a wedding present) in the mornings and evenings.

We all slept in one tent.

We could have stayed all day at Lake Tenaya and we probably will the next time we visit!IMG_3330 IMG_3312 _MG_3303

Her shirt, her smile, the sunshine, the water . . . I love everything about this._MG_3301 

I remember, before Addie was born, I worried that she wouldn’t share my passion obsession for the outdoors and beautiful places, and trees, trees, trees.  I worried for no reason.  She sat excitedly each morning, waiting for the sun to rise and would warn us, “Here it comes! The sunrise’s coming!”

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My wild little wilderness girl.

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We had an impromptu photo shoot and Addie was less than cooperative until we bribed her with Ice Cream. Please note the difference in her expression.

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Wait . .


for it!


It was a blast and I can’t wait to go back again! Where is your favorite vacation spot? Do you prefer hiking and roughing it or a resort by the ocean?  Personally, give me mountains, and rivers, and tall trees!


{8 months}



We love her more and more each day. She is pretty much the sweetest baby that ever was.  She is changing every day and it is so fun to watch!




Welcome to my life . . .



Mom, no more pictures . . . I wanna play!



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Also, I will now try to crawl away during all sitting up photo shoots.



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Already choreographing dances together.




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{The Daily}

Well, hello there.



Yes, it has been awhile . . . again, but I sorta like it that way.  Just me and my girls and my man and our sweet little home in our sweet little town.

Life is busy, but in a simple sort of way. That is beginning to change as we near the start of the school year and my online teaching responsibilities begin.

Here is a peek into some of the things that make up our daily:



-laundry washed and on the line, dishes, wash the kitchen and bathroom floors, clean all surfaces in kitchen and bathroom. Water the plants, rake up the weeds in the front yard, collect eggs, tidy up the backyard, paint a board to hang hooks from, attach hooks, hang on outdoor wall, breakfast, lunch, dinner, naps, Bible study, lesson plan, send work e-mails, complete online reviews, spend some time on online job #3, frame a picture, make important phone calls, make the bed, work on potty training, read books with kids, color, paint outside, baths, host women’s Bible study.



- laundry, change Addie’s sheets, water all the plants, put soil in garden beds, collect eggs.  Let Addie paint outside, more lesson plans and e-mails, make baby food, wash the outside of the window, go for a walk and to the park, rock fussy baby.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, plant pumpkins, put away laundry, Bible study. Tacos with friends and a movie in the backyard.



- work in the garden, read with kids, paint with Addie. Collect eggs, laundry on the line.  Cook all meals, naps, Bible study, lesson plans, Online jobs. Put laundry away, make bed, continue potty-training. Wash dishes, put dishes away, play outside, Bible study. Plant seeds. Read five pages of a book for fun! Time with hubby.



- breakfast, laundry, gardening, paint a coffee table I got for free to use outside.  Clean kitchen, pack a lunch.  Head to Barn with kids and brother and cousins.  Attempt naps, work online (lesson planning, writing reviews, job #3). Scour craigslist for freebies. Play Duplos. Blog. Shoo the cats away that have recently been heckling the chickens. Make meals, including dinner for eight and more baby food.


It’s a busy life.  Often, a repetitive life.  But, it is repetition that I love.  Truly it is such a beautiful, wonderful life. Despite the difficulties and exhaustion that accompanies motherhood are so many tiny moments of ordinary wonder.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Appreciate your daily.  Treasure it.  Focus on the positives or the negatives just might steal your joy.




Would you like to see 5 million photos of my life?

Here you go.

I am linking up with Life.Rearranged again to share my daily life through the lens of instagram.  (I’m jenanninga if you want to follow).

Life is full and I am often overwhelmed, but truly I am so blessed and my trials are so small compared to what others face.

Hubby and I snuck out for a date night.  Sushi, followed by a delicious and overpriced milkshake. It was a special treat and such a great time together.


I threw an impromptu baby shower and was obsessed with this chalkboard.  I just need to have a baby boy and I can make a permanent version of this for his room.


There have been many early mornings here lately, so I am making the most of them.  Blankets and babies and books.


This truth.


I got some really cute new shoes for under $1 at Target.  I also got a rug for about $3.  I took a cute pic and then to keep it real I took a pic of what you typically find on my feet when I am doing laundry and taking out the trash.


I’ve been drinking more tea lately and the little one loves to drink it with me.  It is decaf, so I pour a bit into her tea cup and she sips away . . . with dirt on her nose.  Our little wild one. I so wonder who she will become.


Then, here she is looking adorable as we walked downtown.  I tend to have a lot of fears regarding safety, so the fact that I was letting her walk by herself without holding my hand or sitting strapped in a stroller was a pretty big deal!  She did great and it was a fun outing.


This one.  Crawling.  Everywhere.  She went from nothing to crawling, sitting up, and getting herself into a sitting position all in one week!


I was sewing a nursing cover for a baby shower gift and decided to make a little something for the toddler.  I didn’t use a pattern, but Meg’s aprons from Craft Weekend (basically my dream vacation) were my inspiration.

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She has been really into the hammock lately and again I am letting go of my hovering nature and letting her explore on her own.  I worry she will fall out, but I am trying to worry less.


Date Night #2 for hubby and I.  A movie downtown at the Mission!  It was a blast.


I’m doing informal preschool at home with my toddler and we are working on letter recognition and sounds.  Puzzles it is.


School begins in a month, so I have begun getting my online classes in order.  Busy, busy, busy, but at least my office is nice.


I try to bake once a week and I had some bananas that needed to be used, but I needed two eggs.  So, I went outside to the coop and lo and behold there were two eggs.  I love having chickens!


Their accomplishments astound me:  sitting up and tracing letters! I love watching them grow and learn each day!

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How was your week?  What are your weekend plans?  I am doing comfort food and a movie with my man tonight and then hopefully a lot of time outdoors this weekend as well as working on some projects and fellowshipping at church!  Whatever you do, do it well!

{Adventure Themed Baby Shower}

I threw an impromptu gender-neutral baby shower this weekend.  As in, the invitations went out one week before the shower.

Due to various circumstances that was all the notice that was possible and all the time we had to plan. In fact, I can’t even tell you who it was for!

However, it was so fun to plan and prepare for.  I wish I could just plan parties for a living.

Thankfully, I was able to host and decorate the party with things I already had on hand or made using items I already possessed.

I created the invitations on picmonkey as usual. Then, I mailed them in my favorite, inexpensive brown envelopes from Michael’s.  I like using fun colored pens and big, cute fonts on the envelope, along with the occasional ink stamp.

I made numerous word art items using picmonkey and adventure-themed phrases that I stole from the internet.

Then, I pulled together any items in my stash that fit the color scheme!

Some gingham fabric, a lace tablecloth, napkins and paper straws I have been hoarding. Notecards, leftover decorations from Addie’s first birthday party.  Random furniture from my house and my mother-in-law’s house.

I made some additional decorations using scrapbook paper, cardstock, baker’s twine, traditional twine, stick on letters, and window crayons.  It was a blast and turned out great!

My awesome girlfriends helped out with food and some extra flowers and all I had to do the day of was set up, make coffee, take photos, and clean up.

I love throwing parties for friends and am so glad that I have another shower to plan for October!



We wrote encouraging notes for the mama to read during her baby’s first year.



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Hubby made adorable mini cupcake stands for party favors.



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Sunflowers (later adorned with green hydrangeas) and a guessing game of “baby” spoken in different languages.



Shower curtain photo booth, pom poms, and paper straws.




Iron-on, adventure-themed onesies.


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Delicious breakfasty goodness made by my friends!  Literally, all I did was heat up syrup.




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We took some awesome group shots, but the pregnancy hasn’t been officially announced and I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, so I leave you with this adorable shot.  You’re welcome.

Time to plan for he next one.  Hooray!