“Nearly” 1-Year Marriage Check In: Key to Happiness

Something to know about Jeff and I, we are talkers. Ever since the first conversations he and I dug deep into knowing about each other. Part of it is that we both had lots of first dates and we valued our time being a little older, so cut to the chase with the important “must know” deal-breaker questions out the gate. Ever since we continued to have long conversations about anything/everything and dabbled in books as well to explore additional levels of ourselves both as a couple and individually. My mom jokingly (still) asks us if we ever get tired of talking to each other, the answer… still no. 😉

I bring this back-up story to say, recently (Tuesday night) we got into a conversation talking about why we think our relationship seems so “easy” and the source of our happiness. I share this not to boast or brag about our relationship, but we found it as a valuable conversation to “check-in” if you will on where we were at as a couple, and focus on the positive attributes and things that have and continue to work. It also allowed us to be mindful where there is room for improvement!

It came down to 7 key factors:

  1. Very Similar Values: we share a deep rooted interest to maintain and grow our relationship(s) with God, our families and our closest friends.
  2. We were happy in our lives before meeting each other; essentially coming into this relationship as two whole people: this we found was an important factor, neither one of us was coming in lookin to fix or to change the other person but to enjoy the lives we built separately and how they would blend together as we grow. We still are working through this, if I’m to be honest, as we learn the quirky things we each do. As we prepare for baby I am sure this will change even more!
  3. We both knew what we wanted from a relationship coming in: we knew from the first conversations that we both were not looking solely to date and enjoy company, but to find a deep connection that would lead into a marriage. Pre-marriage counseling and our books we read leading up to that point definitely helped guide the conversations, but will say we were pretty aligned in most of the hot button topics: thoughts of marriage and divorce, thoughts on family growth and dynamic, thoughts on how religion and faith would be incorporated into our every day lives, thoughts on money, thoughts on career planning, & thoughts on what a healthy marriage looks like decades later.
  4. Both surround ourselves with positive & growing relationships: We both have been extremely blessed to be surrounded by so much love, support and positive people. They say the energy frequency you give is reciprocated, but we truly think it has come back to us 10 -fold. We both have valued keeping those around us be the ones who share the same values/foundation as we do, and both value steering away from toxic relationships. I mean why spend time being upset/mad/complaining when you can enjoy the beautiful life we can choose to live!
  5. Financially secure and stable before coming in with similar ideas about finance/money: They say 80% of most marriages end in divorce over money. Can you believe that?! Well, thankfully even early on in our separate lives we both valued limited debt and capitalizing on opportunities that propel us toward happiness but also financial freedom. We both entered our relationship debt free with the exception of our mortgages. Pretty proud of that! That has flowed into how we spend and value saving, investing and even splurging on memory-making adventures. 🙂
  6. Overlapping Hobbies: We both were pleasantly surprised when we found that our interests include active sports (rock climbing, hiking, swimming, biking, etc). This has allowed us to more easily plan day dates/vacations/times with friends and family.
  7. The desire to grow as people and be impactful to those we are around: professionally and as individuals we are constantly thinking and talking (LOL) through what we can do to improve. What positive influence can we provide in the relationships and conversations we carry? You can spend hours just talking about this one alone!

Would love to hear your success story and key factors from your relationship/marriages that has helped you stay happy too! Heck, the more tips/suggestions the better!

Anatomy Ultrasound (21 weeks)

This week Baby Roder has been moving and grooving in the belly. There’s definitely not a day now that I don’t feel him moving around trying to get comfortable. Before it was hard to tell if I was feeling him or if it was my body gassy or something. Now, it’s definitely him and bizarre as it may sound sometimes can lift my shirt and see my belly physically moving. Wild!

As my body has been changing I have been sharing with Jeff and a couple instances he too was able to feel Baby Roder for himself. Yesterday though, he admitted it got really real for him… it was his first time since COVID being able to come to my doctor’s appointment. And in great timing, it was a fun appointment to be allowed to come to as it was a meeting with the ultrasound technician for the anatomy ultrasound!

For those who may not know (was new to me until I got pregnant) this is an important week as they measure the progression of the growth for the baby and make sure he is growing in proportion as he should. They focus on the heart to make sure all chambers are there and beating, that blood inflow/outflow is strong and steady, that the baby has 10 toes and fingers, that bone growth has started, that nose & lips appear normal (sometimes they can tell if there will be any deformities during this ultrasound), and can share if the baby is a boy/girl for those who don’t do the blood work in advance.

Up to this point all news has been filtered through to me to family/friends, but Jeff was alongside me for this one. He held my hand and could see how they find the baby , see the measurements, and he could ask any/all questions. Jeff was super into it , paying close attention to what the technician was sharing and keeping an eye on me to make sure I was okay. Funny story: he didn’t know for the first 20 minutes (in total took 1 1/2 hours) that I could see on a screen what the technician and Jeff could see on the computer monitor, so Jeff was giving me play-by-play .. until I shared I could see on the screen on the wall LOL. Good news: all appeared normal! Of course, they can’t confirm 100% everything definitely, but from what we saw, he is growing in there… and definitely active! He was kicking me, turning and rolling over in the 1 1/2 hours we were in there.

The most enjoyable part for me was seeing Jeff’s face, seeing him get involved with questions, and definitely hearing his excitement after on how cool that experience was and how this pregnancy now feels more real to him. I guess as a woman I thought that this may not be as fun for him, since it’s not his body changing, but it really blesses me that Jeff continues to show me his depth of love and compassion even if he himself isn’t physically going through the pregnancy.

Here are a few photos from the ultrasound!

Week 21, Confirmed Boy, 1 Lb 2 Oz

Baby Roder sucking his thumb
Baby’s Foot

Finding Your Marriage Community

“I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock”

In creating a solid foundation Jeff and I have been revisiting “community.” If you wonder where your starting point should be on your journey, this is a good place to start! It may begin with the following questions…

  • Is community important to you?
  • What kind of community are you looking for?
  • Where can you find community?

Is Community Important to You?

One of the many things I’ve learned and admire about Jeff is his strong sense of community.  Early on in our conversations it was pretty evident that Jeff was not only surrounded by a close family, but was surrounded with long term friendships, family friends, church friends, college groups, etc.

Of course, community has been something that I have always admired.. but by comparison has not run as deep as Jeff’s relationships. I think it is important to look at our partner to see and acknowledge their strengths and try to aim toward those too… I haven’t been a believer that in a relationship the other person makes you whole… instead I believe two whole people learn to become one. With this mindset I also believe that self improvement is a requirement and should always exist. Although I will say this has become much enjoyable now that I have a partner who heightens the expectations for myself by leading by example. 

What kind of community are you looking for?

In discussions together talking about what we envisioned a successful wedding was and afterward, marriage, would look like we discovered that we both felt our connection with the church and with people our age(s) in the same phase of life has been lacking.

Shortly after discovering this we went to our church, 242 Community Church in Ann Arbor, and was put into contact with a Pre-Marriage Small Group Leader, Albo. We let him know that we were really looking for the following three things: (1) for Jeff and I to become better connected through guided dialog through the church, (2) our interest in becoming connected to the church in a community of people, and (3) the people we are to be connected with to be in similar phases of life with the goal that the relationships built are long-lasting.

Our prayers, were answered! As you may have guessed, the pre-marriage group is now completed with us now married, but truly blessed that we have been in contact with some within the group still and have valued what each couple taught us and continues to teach!

Where can you find community?

You will be shocked, or at least, I was when I was honest in a simple Facebook post that Jeff and I were looking to be more connected and to have a support system during this time of transition… if you’re social maybe that is something that is a place to start. From feedback I’ve gotten, here are other places to find community:

  • Be on the look out for people you know who are married and whose relationships you admire
  • Outreach to social media outlets that you may already be using; I’ve found it white humbling that when I am vulnerable and posting what is on my mind that people do listen and have genuine interest want to help
  • Explore local clubs or organizations that you both would enjoy together (there are apps like MeetUp where you can search “hiking” or “gardening” or whatever and you can see when they meet)
  • Try social events or gatherings where you know there are other people that you may be able to join and learn more about (ie: Trivia, Darts, Pool clubs, gym)

If you’re willing to share, feel free to share your story with your story in the comment section, or any ideas for what more we can look into!

Glass Half Full! (20 Weeks Pregnant)

Fam, we can’t even believe it… we are already half way through pregnancy with our first baby!

Flashback, we got married October 2020. Beginning of January I had a surgery scheduled that both Jeff and I decided we wanted to get done prior to removing my IUD (birth control) and trying for a baby. End of January my doctor cleared me from my surgery and the IUD was taken out. And if we are doing the math right, with expecting baby Roder November 28th 2021, we got pregnant within a month of trying! I say this in excitement because my OBGYN prepared us given our ages (30 & 36, currently) and because I have been on birth control for so long that we shouldn’t expect to get pregnant for at least six months. This would allow my body to re-regulate. From there be patient and track fertility for at least a year before worrying. So when we figured out in March we were pregnant the emotional shock was certainly there, but of course very much blessed.

Because of COVID up to this point with my, maybe, 10 appointments/ultrasounds Jeff has not been able to attend. But coming July 21st will be our anatomy ultrasound appointment & they are (finally) allowing Jeff to come! Now, for some this appointment would be finding out the gender, but we chose to take early blood work during Week 13 and found out then. The reason we decided to do the blood work, is because it would also test our baby for any potential medical conditions and we wanted to have time to prepare to be the best parents. Good news, everything has come in normal thus far and everything has been going as smoothly as we think it could be.

First Trimester: Figured out we were pregnant in week 3. We had a few scares earlier on. From week 4-8 was having some spotting, cramps, and no noticeable symptoms of pregnancy (morning sickness, tender breasts, cravings, etc). Because of this I was visiting with the ultrasound tech for nearly every week for those weeks as they considered me higher risk for a chance of miscarriage; also in fear that it was possible that my hormone levels weren’t adequately balanced since I was just taken off of birth control to continue to carry baby Roder. But through His love and plan officially and thankfully got out of high risk category in Week 13.

Second Trimester: We are in progress in this one folks. Today we are at 20 weeks, half way there! Things have certainly changed. Mentally more calm that we have made it to the second trimester, and the thankfulness and support thus far has been more than I thought I could feel. Also, more tired than normal. Physically, my body is changing daily. To this point I’ve gained about 10 pounds and see a baby bump for sure. Oh, and the cravings… they are now here! Cravings thus far: anything peanut butter, turkey burgers, hot chips, and ginger beer.

36 Hours in Chicago

36 Hours in Chicago

The story of how this trip came about follows the itinerary. I understand that most people come to my blog for travel tips and the itinerary for ideas to recreate, not for my personal development stories that initiated these trips.

Sometimes the best memories are created on a whim, created in a short time frame, and with little expectations. Life happens whether or not we are ready, so why not be a part of it, instead of being a bystander?  Not in just traveling, but in all we do. 2019 is about being present in the moment, appreciating it while it’s happening and not taking it for granted, and to give back because nothing is worth while if we aren’t sharing.

Transportation To/From:

Car. Living in Ann Arbor Michigan this drive is really quite easy, 3/12 hours on I-94 to Chicago. This car trip is especially good if you have a good audio book in cue, podcast, or someone awesome to share stories with and talk to.

Transportation Costs Roundtrip:

Gas: $80

Tolls (if taking the express route): $25

Parking: Used the Spot Hero app: $60 for the weekend Friday-Sunday

Hotel: 

Warwick Allerton 

Cost: $85/night

This hotel is a classic beauty. It’s an older building from the outside that has underwent a massive uplift inside. You walk into the doors and gave the vibe of money and ritz. Everything in gold and white, everyone greeting and opening doors with a smile, and assistant to the elevator that led to my anxiety; as if the welcome at the door didn’t do that enough. All in all the hotel was clean, the staff was hospital, and the location to downtown was perfect; if plays and the Magnificent Mile is the purpose of your trip.

screen shot 2019-01-14 at 8.26.21 pm

Day 1:  

  • Drive after work to Chicago (Arrive Around 10pm)
  • Checked in to Warwick Allerton 
  • Walked toward Broadway Downtown Chicago
  • Walked in search of clam chowder, stopped in at Fisk & Co

eeb1c4d65a6042e1322a22ab76fce52a

Day 2: 

  • Walked to the Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission)
  • Went to The Diag Bar to watch the Michigan football game (arrive VERY early for a seat)
  • Get ready for a play at The Allerton
  • Walk to the CIBC Theatre to see Hamilton
    • Cost for a Saturday show $170

Hamilton ChicagoDay 3: 

This trip to Chicago was a complete surprise… well kind of. I will share.

Disclamer: Before sharing, my blog site is like Planet Fitness, a judgement-free zone. It is my story, intended for to share my experiences for personal documentation too.

The end of September I asked the universe to listen to and help provide me guidance on my journey. I was at a point where everything seemed to be aligning perfectly. Work was becoming natural, my traveling had been on an all time high, family relationships were being resealed, my commitment with friends had never been better and I was at peace with my personal goals and development. The only thing missing was a genuine long-lasting connection, a relationship.

I signed up for Bumble.

Quite quickly my prayers were answered. I matched with someone and was well on my way on my first date with someone on the dating app. After a couple dates with him, this trip was suggested and quickly planned. Surprisingly, this is the first trip, ever, that I was planned 100% not.by. me. Our natural connection surely paved the path for some stops on this trip that were not planned… the zoo, Fisk & Co, and Grand Lux Cafe… but each cementing something meaningful and unlike anything I’ve felt before. This trip proved to me to trust my gut, trust my heart… but most importantly to have faith and ask for guidance when needed.

 

 

 

$40 for Your First AirBnB Stay

$40 for Your First AirBnB Stay

As many of you know I am an advocate of using hostels, since they allow a community experience, and have led me to many friendships along my international journeys.

For those of you who continue to roll your eyes to that idea, a safer alternative is to jump on board to the AirBnB train. Below are 5 suggestions based on popular questions I get. For those who want to try the AirBnB experience you can register for $40 off a $70 (or more booking) using the link below. Yes, $30 for a night stay, whaaaatt!

$40 Discount Code

How do I find a high quality home for the cheapest price?

Easy! Follow the steps for how to do it on your mobile device below:

Click the explore tab on the bottom of the app

  • Select the explore tab on the bottom
  • Select the dates you are planning to leave
  • Select the number of people (generally, it’s more expensive for each person)
  • Enter in the search bar the place you’re going
  • Select filters on the top menu bar
    • Adjust your price range
    • Enter the criteria that interests you-  I always check “super host” & “free parking on premise”
      • Super host means the host you’ve selected have been favorably ranked, have hosted a min. of 10 guests, have been rated 5 stars by at least 80%, and have had a response time of 90% or better within 24-hours

What is the average cost per night?

*Speaking for 1-2 people stays

Obviously location means everything. For smaller cities I never pay more than $40/night (before fees and tax). For larger cities, or on the weekends I increase this to $60. If I am going over that amount is when I start using my hotel apps for discounts.

Are Airbnb’s safe? 

Of the over 30 stays I’ve gone on have I never felt unsafe. And some of those times I have been traveling alone. I always do my research before booking, of course, which includes finding which neighborhoods are safest. In terms of leaving my belongings, I have always felt they were safe in the rooms/places I was staying. For safe keeping I know a few of my friends lock their suitcases before leaving  any of their personal belongings.

Please, read the reviews!

I can’t tell you how thankful I have been for always reading the reviews before booking. I focus in on cleanliness, quality, and location. If those three things are favorable for the last 5 reviews I feel comfortable in booking a lower cost home.  It’s in these reviews you’ll find the truth. Know, that reviews are not posted until both people have left a review on each other. So there is some biases in what’s posted. Easily, a host won’t review someone if they feel the person won’t leave a favorable review. 

That said, one time I read a review for this college student who was renting her home in Pittsburg. I generally support the college students… paying off student debt is no joke! Anyway, someone left a comment about she and her boyfriend arriving after going to the bar at around 3am. They were welcomed with people in the streets dealing drugs and people blaring music. The couple decided they didn’t feel comfortable and did not stay. It’s insight and reviews like that, that will indicate stuff about where you’re staying, and will help you make safer decisions.

Book early, or your loss!

This AirBnb hype has caused little supply and a lot of demand. I recommend tracking/saving your favorite places at least a month in advance, and booking no later than a week before your trip. I have found three days before the day you’re looking to book is when everyone decides to book. Unfortunately for me I learned this the hard way and ended up having to book a hotel a couple times because there were no available homes I liked, costing my trips an additional $40/night.

I hope these tips help you in your endeavors! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any additional questions, it’d be my pleasure to help answer!

$40 Discount Code!

 

 

 

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

If you’re a millennial on Instagram this rope bridge is a must see. I mean… it is your typical touristy photo that you see your favorite bloggers visit when in Ireland. And, that you’ll be disappointed to know is near impossible to get a photo of just you walking, unless you are there right at open (9:30a), but it is a must see… I’ll tell you why!

Photo 2

Yes, the view is near perfect. Crystal blue waters, beautiful sand, cliffs in the distance, but from here you are only 15-miles away from Scotland with their mountains in view! Additionally, there are spots once you cross over the bridge that provides good yoga, meditating, sightseeing, and relaxing places to get away from the noise and to hear the ocean. Which I had found it hard to find while visiting Ireland. But my opinion comes at a time when tourism is high, July.

Photo 1

Side note: If you are contemplating this visit or Cliffs of Moher, I recommend this stop! There are cliffs in the distance, far fewer people, and a nice bridge to cross! And for some history, supposedly this bridge was made by salmon fisherman over 350 years ago… if you want to trust Wiki.

 

 

Cliffs of Moher, What You Didn’t Know Harry Potter Lovers

Cliffs of Moher, What You Didn’t Know Harry Potter Lovers

There’s no doubt that if you are planning a trip to Ireland you’ll miss the numerous recommendations to visit the Cliffs of Moher. If you want my honest opinion, the cliffs were stunning no doubt, with there being 5 ledges you can see from afar…. but (yes, there’s a but) there are many places in Ireland that replicate the area and that are more serene, I think.

When you arrive, because even if this isn’t planned you’ll end up being convinced to go, you have two route options.

If you want the beautiful panoramic view, go right. This trail leads you to a small castle you can pay 2 euros to climb and you can get the views you’re looking for, which include the view of the 5 cliffs from the distance to give you the shot you’re looking for. Plus, there are places here where you can connect to Wifi and have seating options for a nice lunch.

I do encourage you, though, to go left. This trail takes you toward paths near the edge of the cliffs, and in my opinion, gives you the full spirit of how truly beautiful this place is. There are parts of the path as you walk you’ll see how massive these natural ledges are and how scary the fall could be. But, if your adventurous and unafraid of heights could pose a good place to find a flat piece of land and eat a packed lunch, which is what I did!

As I ate there and stared around I couldn’t help but be grateful to have come to Ireland. It’s beautiful natural landscapes, and wonder what secrets these cliffs held, considering the cliffs were so massive.

My answer was pleasantly answered while on the bus leaving the cliffs…

The tour guide went over all the movies the cliffs were featured in, and honestly the list was so long I tuned out, then she said it… Harry Potter.

Harry Potter lovers continue reading…. do you remember in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Harry and Dumbledore try to find the horcruxes, and one of those found in the potion of despair, located in a cave with crashing waves? Guess what cliffs they passed to get in the cave, and where the cave was located? Yes, the Cliffs of Moher, in fact, the entryway of this cliff is in front of the third cliff where there is a large rock emerged from the ocean floor, as shown in the image below.

Cliffs of Moher

From Harry Potter & the Half-Blood PrinceThe_Cave_entrance

Let’s just say, until that fun fact was thrown out I was a bit underwhelmed by all the hype…mostly so because the number of people swarming around, where I found myself more worried about bumping into someone than appreciating the gorgeous views. But, if you’re a Harry Potter lover and end up here… now you can be pleased to know it’s very likely you’ll be walking on top of the set of one of the final films! You’re welcome!

The Dark Hedges, Yes… a Hollywood Favorite

The Dark Hedges, Yes… a Hollywood Favorite

This is going to sound like a lie, but this story is true.

I often save, bookmark, or screenshot places other people visit and when I’ve accumulated more than a handful of different places located in the same country I consider that place for a visit.

One night (like many nights) I was researching all these places I wanted to go based on these images, doing Google searches for popular destinations, and some not-so-common places that may be of interest. While doing so my screensaver came up with a beautiful images of trees down what appeared like a long road to infinity. This peaked my interest for three reasons: (1) why were these trees so perfectly planted, (2) I questioned why there was no wildlife in any of the stock images I googled, and (3) where in the hell did that road go?

Needless to say my curiosity got the best of me, and you guessed it. It was the Dark Hedges. Come to find out that this location is quite popular and used for many Hollywood films including Transformers, a multitude of Irish movies, and grew popularity recently with the Game of Thrones series. Of course, I learned the rest of this while I was on a bus on my way to visit.

My point of this blog isn’t to divulge the secrets for the three reasons I visited, but to inspire you to visit the places you’ve been curious about, find your answers first hand, and who knows possibly you’ll find happiness and peace of mind when you find your answers.

Side Bar: If you are using a tour company to visit this location they don’t stop for long. It is cheap to rent a car (literally $5/day), and this location has very easy access if you want to experience this magical place for yourself! Admission= FREE!

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How to Get from the Dublin Airport to Downtown Dublin

How to Get from the Dublin Airport to Downtown Dublin

I generally plan transportation in advance to/from where I am going when landing to a new place. This time, however, I refrained because booking in advance was extremely extensive $60/each way, and I knew if I procrastinated when I got there I could find a cheaper option. And yes, even looked to see how long it would be for me to walk to the hostel if needed (1 1/2 hours).

When arriving to the public transportation section the typical methods, taxi, shuttles, and busses were available.

  • Taxi estimated cost 50-70 euros
  • Shuttle bus 25 euros
  • Bus 6 euros each way

Do you want to guess which one I chose? You guessed it!

Okay, so the bus… walked to the bus pick-up area. I arrived at 4am, so you can imagine the resources available to answer my questions were limited so I had to figure out. The map of which buses go to which cities and locations was of no help unless you know the district you’re staying. That said, I aimlessly wandered for a good 15 minutes, probably looking like an idiot to those who I thought had it figured it out (more to come). I finally found a website listed on one of the bus signs that noted “avoid the lines book your ticket in advance.” That website: http://www.aircoach.ie. Here you can book online.

Second obstacle, where are you headed? Again, it listed all these districts, but this time it had several “Downtown District” options. I could have researched where my hotel was relative to these district locations but at this point I was just in a hurry to get Downtown and away from the airport, so I selected the “Downtown District O’Connell Street.”

I headed back to the bus stop area, again passing by the people who I found out were waiting for the ticket office to open, which was not until 8am. Again, this was 4am…. uhhhh! I did let them know of the website, but they insisted that the ticket office would have to open soon… I hope they made it alright. Us stupid millennials and our technology (I’m just saying, we are resourceful!).

Okay next hurtle, buses started to come, but none of them said exactly where they were going. So like a true tourist I entered every bus asking the driver by showing my receipt if I was on the right bus. After 2 wrong ones, I found the right one.

Also, luckily, the ticket I bought to O’Connell Street ended up being the right one.  Thank goodness too because they don’t take credit cards on the bus. However, I will say all the people in Ireland are extremely hospitable and willing to help, so knowing that now that I have returned, if I hadn’t picked the right stop I am sure they would have taken me as far as I needed.

I used the same website to book my trip back to the airport, which is a hell of a lot easier since it blatantly lists DUB Airport as the destination. I will say if boarding from the O’Connell area there are about 5 stops to the airport, so plan at least a 45 minute trip (30 mins to get there and 15 mins worth of stops).

Resources:

Air Coach Bus Link