Why Camping is the Perfect Dating Getaway

If you are like me and camped as a kid, you can remember all the fun times you had with your family sleeping in tents, making smores and exploring the great outdoors. Now that I am an adult and go camping myself with my husband and daughter I have a different appreciation for camping.

 

I am often asked why do you go camping? Don't you prefer to stay in a hotel? Yes, but not when my intention is to go camping. Camping removes all of the clutter, and all that is left are the few bare essentials you can pack into your car.  The act of living for two days or more with minimal belongings facilitates gratitude for what is truly important in life. On my last camping trip I realized to survive, we need very little, but we could not live without the love and laughs we share with our family.

 

So what scares people about camping? It is probably all of the prep before you head out and once you arrive at the camp ground. When we prep for our trip I make lists of clothes we will wear, the food we will eat, activities we look to do during the day and of course games and smores for our night time family gathering by an open fire.

 

Sometimes there is too much to think about, and I tend always to forget something even if I make a list and check it twice. Given the stress of prep and potential entertainment the Unbox team, whom all love to camp, are going to carry a little of that burden and introduce a camping box. The box comes with games, smores like you have never had, and ways for mom and dad to connect one on one.

 

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Interested in taking a prepared activity night with you on your camping trip? Click here to purchase your Camping box

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Anniversary Ideas to Dazzle your Partner!

Summer isn’t just wedding season, it’s Anniversary season too! And why not do something unique and fun this anniversary. Skip the boring dinner date and try one of these!

 

1) Take turns planning anniversaries! Every other year you get to plan the activities and every other year you get to sit back and enjoy your partners plans! Give it a try- it’s great fun!

 

2) Go on an adventure! Dare to try something you’ve never done before. Hot Air balloon ride, horse ride in the mountains, dinner and drinks on a boat… Look around your area with an open mind and you will find many opportunities of fun things you’ve never tried.

 

3) Re-create a special event! Perhaps you could go back to the place where you first met, or to where you had your first date. Re-create your first kiss. Re-peat the proposal and tell them you would do it all over again. Visit a special place where you’ve made some great past memories. And when you are there, share and remember what it felt like.

 

4) Create a puzzle for your partner to solve! Ideas could range from a scavenger hunt that leads her to a thoughtful gift or leads him to a bedroom. You could create a crossword puzzle that includes words about each other and your marriage, where you met, the special song from your wedding, etc. Maybe include clues in the puzzle as to what you have planned for your anniversary! (Crossword makers are easily found online)

 

5) Art! Go to one of the local DIY Art businesses that will help you create pottery or make a painting. Embrace the artist in you and create something cool for your house that will be a reminder of your awesome anniversary date. (Some of these places include beverages and even dinner.) And if you can’t find a place, buy some supplies and take advantage of youtube-how-tos!

 

6) Get outta town! Okay this one might take a little planning, especially if kids are involved. Live in the country? Schedule a trip to a high-end hotel in the city. Live in the city? Book a B&B in the country!

 

7) Reminisce! Get out the photos of your wedding. Watch the video if you have one. Share things that happened that weekend that you either may have forgotten or that you never shared before. Re-live the special moments, repeat your wedding vows and share that love again.

 

8) Plan a mystery day for your spouse! Each new destination could be a surprise. Brunch here, road-trip there, shopping here, beach or lake next, quiet dinner for 2, concert and dancing, a stop at the comedy club… The possibilities are endless. Take some time to plan and you won’t regret it!

 

9)  Write you partner a love note and then turn it into a song! Sing it to them on your anniversary! Okay if you are not destined for American Idol, you could write them a poem and read it to them. Or just place random love notes around that they will find throughout their day. (On the mirror, in their bag, on the steering wheel, in the fridge… you get the idea.)

 

10) Unforgettable Picnic! Rent your partners favorite vehicle and go for a ride. Rent a jeep and head for the hills. Rent a convertible and hit the highway. Pack an awesome picnic lunch and some beverages. Don’t forget the blanket and perhaps a couple pillows!

 

11) Head to the spa! Get a couple’s massage. Each of you pick out your favorite treatments. It’s okay to relax on your anniversary too, as you both deserve it!

 

12) Volunteer together! There are many opportunities to help out in the community. All are rewarding, and some can be pretty fun too!

 

13) Make your own romantic dinner! Not sure what to make or even how to make it? Take advantage of the new companies that send you all the ingredients for a great meal to be prepared at home. (Plated, Blue Apron etc.) Be sure to place your order a couple weeks in advance.

 

14) Get competitive! Play tennis, racquetball, golf. Try chess or other board games. Make some bets on the Wii. Be sure the winner gets a kiss.

 

15) Create a keepsake box! Put reminders of your date in it and add to it every year. (items, pictures, notes). It won’t mean much for a few years, but trust us, 10 or 20 years from now you will love looking back through it!

 

Finally, whatever you decide to do, either take some selfies or get someone to take pictures of you. Get a picture frame that holds several pictures and give it to them a week later. They will love you for your efforts. And remember, these things can also be done any time throughout the year. Invest in your relationship and it will make all the difference in the world!

What Makes A Good Date Night After You Are Married

Funny how once we get married and have kids dating takes a back seat. It shouldn’t, and we swear that it won’t, but for most of us, the truth is that it does. So how do we get back to dating when our lives are busy?

 

Let's just pause for a minute and acknowledge that, yes, we are swamped. We hear you; we are living in your shoes. We created this brand from that understanding.

 

Does this sound like your day, week... year:

 

Get up early, make breakfast, pack lunches, dress the kids, dress ourselves, drive the kids to school, rush to work, work a full day, drive home pick up the kids from school.  Now it is time to make dinner, eat, take baths and get ready for bed … AND do it all over again.

 

Just in case you were wondering- we do realize that was a mouthful of a run on sentence but our lives are a mouthful of a run on sentence.

 

So how do we make time for dating with our very hectic lives? Is this possible? The truth is... YES!! You can still date and, honestly, need to if you are going to keep the love alive for 25+ years.

 

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to do it:

 

1.    Don't plan your date on a Friday night.

 

My first tip is to skip the Friday night date night (when possible).  On Friday's you have not had a chance to recover from the week.  A date on a Friday is not as relaxed as you would want it to be to connect with your spouse.

 

Not that weddings count as dates, but my husband and I attended a wedding on a Friday, and all of the couples with kids were yawning and wondering how we would make it through the night. This is because Friday’s after a long week are tough.

 

Saturdays you can sleep in (unless you have very small children) hang in there; I promise sleeping past 6:30 is in your future.  Saturday’s there are practically no emails, so you’re in a better mood. On a Saturday you don't have 30 minutes between work and a date so you can spend some time pampering yourself to look and feel great for date night (again I get it, small children, "me-time" is not far off - I promise)

 

2. Don’t discuss bills, or problems

Please don't laundry list bills, or discuss family issues and just about anything that is bothering you. That is what family meetings are for (link to post).  Date nights are for connecting, not fighting. Another reason to have date night on a Saturday is that you already discussed your issues that morning during family meeting time, so it is no longer in the brain.

 

3. Plan a Stay-date

My last advice and I promise this I do this in real life; we just stay home. My husband and I have created a home that we love. We are extremely social people, but we just love our home. Our home brings us peace and the perfect setting for great conversation, playing games, or just hanging out. Connecting without needing to spend a fortune is why we love Unbox. It makes dating simple, fun and affordable.

 

Dating my husband keeps our marriage strong and gives us something to laugh about during the week. Do you have any dating tips?

 

 

 

 

Kacee Payne + Unbox Love

We are so happy to have been able to work with Kacee Payne from Keek Photography this past week! Kacee did a photo shoot with a couple who tried Unbox Love for their first time. Seeing their initial reactions to the box was so rewarding, we are so happy we can give couples that special one on one time everyone needs!

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Kacee Payne is a photographer from Utah, she is married and has two young boys. She is passionate about photography, and it shows through her work. We love Kacee’s work, particularly because she works with couples. She is able to capture everything in her photos from the emotions of engagements to the joy of families.  

 

 

Kacee currently posts her photos to her Instagram, Facebook, and website, where you can see what spectacular work she does. Below are some of the wonderful pictures she took with a couple trying out Unbox Love for the first time!

 

 

 


 

 

What Is A Family Meeting: Template and Instructions

When I first heard of a family meeting my initial reaction was to question the whole thing. "So you want me to ask my husband to have meetings where we discuss our family like a business?" ... HMMM

 

What do I do when he laughs at me for even bringing this up? Well, newsflash. He did not laugh because he has a very business brain he was all for it. I did not mention right away that we would be coming up with a family mission statement too.

 

So how do you plan a family meeting and what does it look like.

 

Below I have included a real sample of what our family meeting agenda looks like. I did not make it up for the blog; this is what we do about twice a month on Saturday mornings.

 

For your first meeting, you want to update the template below to meet what makes sense for your family. You want to be prepared and take it seriously just like you would for any other meeting.  You also want to have an idea of what your mission statement should be but don't write it all out yourself. The mission statement should be a joint effort so that it holds meaning for the entire family.

 

Step One: Mission Statement

 

Family Mission Statement:

Say it out loud when you start your family meeting. This encourages engagement, and you will probably not get it right the first time. We have edited ours every time we have a meeting. It is a work in progress, but like all mission statements, there will come a time where it is perfect, and the whole family will know it and live by it. It will be your north star.

 

We are committed to set examples of love, character, and fun. By building our community and our home, we welcome all who enter our lives.

We make this our daily reality through:

•    Balancing life and work

•    Finding a way to make a difference

•    Lessening our impact on the environment

•    Living into our top priorities of leadership, living with passion, compassion, and fun.

•    Creating a home environment that is a place full of great examples, laughter, understanding, and patience.

•    Encouraging and supporting each other by listening, connecting, and making time for each other.

•    Treating each other with love and expecting the best of each other.

 

Step Two: Sync Calendars

 

Once we review our mission statement, we move to sync calendars. Most families have one or both spouses traveling consistently. Taking the time to sync calendars helps to prevent potential calendar blunders.

 

Sit with your planners or computers open to write upcoming travel for each partner. Don't just write it down on paper have calendars ready. The likelihood of such paper making it to a calendar later is slim and will make this exercise pointless.

 

What to include in your synced calendars:

o    Upcoming Travel

o    Upcoming Babysitter Needs

o    Upcoming Events for your children

o    Upcoming Parties or invites

o    Possible Weekend ideas

o    Date night

o    Personal time (for each spouse)

 

Step Three: Family Review and Retrospective:

This one is my favorite because it helps to avoid fights. We are all human and things bother us, and they usually bother us a little, and it begins to escalate until it bothers us a lot.  If we have a safe space to discuss the little things, we can avoid the big ones.

What to review:

o    What worked well in our family this week? 

o    What went wrong in our family this week?

•    Snacks

•    Cookies

•    Pie

•    Home made power bars

(I left our list in because it does not have to be big things. My husband loves snacks especially cookies. When I forget to get cookies, he feels like I only pick up what I like at the grocery store and forget about him. I know he can go too but that point we all want to feel noticed. So include the little things so that we don't create big things in our relationships)

 

o    What will we work on this coming week?

 

Step Four: Money

Discussing money can be tough for many couples, but it is so important. When we are clear about our finances, there are so many headaches we can avoid. 

 

Money

o    Savings

o    Taxes

o    New cell phone plan

o    Cutting Dish

o    Life Insurance

o    Upcoming big bills

o    Home Improvements?

 

Fifth part: Requests.

 

This is just where the meeting is an open forum and everyone can add to the list including the kids. Our daughter is three and she is usually in the same room with us when we have our meeting. At this point, we bring her close and ask her what she would like to add. It is usually something like gummies or a dolly. I think it is good to include kids. They need to see all sides of mom and dad and how what they do to work on a healthy relationship.

Requests

Soleil

Mom

Dad

 

We usually close the meeting with a big family hug and a feeling that we are on the right track. I can't tell you what a difference family meetings have made in our lives, and I hope that it does the same in yours.

 

Want to try and create your family meeting? Click here to download our template.

How To Plan an Amazing Date Night Without Hiring a Sitter

Planning a date night with small children can be challenging and expensive. Not only do you have to splurge for your evening out but you also have to have enough money to pay for the sitter, and if you have multiple kids; well that number just went up. UGH!! So how do parents of young children keep the love alive? Can it be done? Well… the short answer is YES!!

 

Here are some ideas to get your date on with your hubby or wife.

 

Anniversary Day, Date Night

The concept is relatively straightforward, if you were married September 10th, then every month on or around the 10thof that month is date night. This way you are both clear, this week is the 10th after the kids go to bed we will grab a game, or activity we can do together and connect.  (words game and activity will link to a box subscription)

 

Family Date Night

Involve the kids! Yes, I know, how can we call it date night?  It honestly is so much fun and does end up feeling like a date.  

Here is how we do it; sometimes my husband and I will order in, pour some wine (she gets juice or water) and we have a dance party.  It is so much fun we all end up belly laughing and although this can sometimes be a very short date night the point is quality and deep connection.

 

The More the Merrier, Date Night

Make it a group date night. Often when we want to have a date night but don’t want to splurge for a sitter, we have friends over, and the kids watch a movie while the parents are in an adjacent room playing cards, chatting and enjoying couples night out just like our days before the little ones.

 

Breakfast, Date Night?

Sometimes the best date nights happen early in the morning. My husband and I will plan to get up early on Saturday or Sunday mornings and have breakfast together before our child is up. We get to catch up, laugh and connect over a warm meal before the day actually begins.

 

Grandparent Drop-off, Date Night (Okay it's cheating but counts if we are not paying for a babysitter)

Grandparent sleepovers are the best for date night with no sitter if you are lucky to have grandparents nearby as we do. Well, nothing beats the love and bonding the kids get to enjoy as well as the quality time you can spend with your significant other.

 

Dating your husband or wife involves some planning, but it is absolutely worth it. The strength of the marriage grows as your family grows and we need to take the time to reflect on our days together to create more of those moments. Every marriage has an emotional ATM that we need to make consistent deposits too. When this emotional bank account is full, we can withdraw from it on days that we may not be feeling as connected. This leads to more patience, greater appreciation and more love! So pick one or more of these ideas and go for it!

 

-Ana from the Unbox Love Team 

Get Your Massage On!

Let's put your new Massager and Plant Life Oil to use!

Here is a short video on the use of a 4-point massager.

If either of you have sore muscles in your back, neck, shoulders, calves or feet, trigger point techniques can really help release the tension. There are hundreds of trigger points throughout the body, and everyone can develop them in different locations. We have selected the most common location for this video (upper back and neck area) but you can find videos on any location if desired. While this video does not use a tool, hands get tired! So use your massager in the same way!

Baking Clay Ideas

We hope you are enjoying your date! Need some ideas about what to make? Check out these! How about starting with how to make a pinch pot.

What about some cool coasters? You can use cookie cutters or even lids to shape your ornament. A knife or toothpicks are good for carving shapes or words.

Some ornaments would be fun. Use anything with texture to add a pattern to your creation. Use a screwdriver to poke a hole for hanging. If you have a hot glue gun or super glue, use your magnets and put 'em on the fridge!

Rolling your clay and making a round pot is a fun challenge. You can share colors on this one as well.

We hope you make something cool! Share your creations using #unboxlove. Or maybe write about it in your Together Journal!  Thanks for being awesome!

Together Puzzles!

We hope you are enjoying your Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate & Rocky Mountain made pretzel sticks!

So how frustrating are those silly puzzles anyway? Check out these videos for some help. We will start with the easiest puzzle and an Unbox Love family member: 9 year old Cami!

Next are 3 silent films arranged from (easier to hardest) that show you how to solve the last 3 puzzles. Work together and good luck! And if you created an awesome crossword with your game of xoomcubes, post it using #unboxlove! Be sure to remember to share your Love Cards with each other throughout this week! From all of us at Unbox Love, Happy New Year!

Top 10 Ways To Impress Your Partner: Part 2

Continued from part 1- The top 5 ways to impress your partner!

#5- Pick them up a gift card and then leave them trail of sticky notes to find it, scavenger hunt style!

#4- Tonight in bed (or while watching TV) grab their hand and give them a 10 minute forearm/hand/finger massage! Then switch arms. They will love it!

#3- Create 3 Coupons for your love on to use. Ideas: Free neck massage/ Do all the dishes/ Clean the room of your choice/ Weekend sleep-in/ Kid free time. Then place them in their work bag or somewhere they will secretly find them.

#2- Secretly set a reminder on their phone that you love them and that you are counting the minutes until you can see them again!

#1- When you are with them, be with them. Look them in the eye. Listen. Love them for who they are and for all they are! If you do, they'll do the same for you!

Timesaving Tips!

Hello! Hope you enjoyed the time saving tips and recipe card from this month's date. Below are the links to the documents that will help make your life easier!

The Excel Grocery List has 2 tabs - a full page and a 4-page. Edit as you wish.

Print and place the fridge planner in a magnetic frame with a glass front and stick it on the fridge. A dry erase marker makes it easy to create/adjust a menu each week. 

Here are three additional tips that save time in the kitchen.

-Have a designated area on the counter for "cups in use." If a cup is in that area, someone is still planning on using it.

-While preparing a meal, keep a big bowl on the counter. Put all your chopping, cutting and peeling discards into it. Then make one trip to the garbage instead of 10.

-Keep an expired credit card or gift card at the sink to scrape baked food from pans and glassware.

If you have any time-saving tips, please add them to the comments below!

Next Month's Tips: How To Reduce Holiday Stress!

 

 

Top 10 FUN Ways To Impress Your Partner! Part 1

Looking for fun new ways to let your partner know you love them. Check these out!

#10- When your partner gets in the shower, sneak in the bathroom and write a short love note on the mirror in dry erase marker!

#9- Secretly quick clean the interior of their vehicle! Pick up the trash, wipe the dashboard, clean the windows, etc. Then leave them a piece of candy on the seat!

#8- Place a note inside their pillowcase before bedtime! Perhaps something like: Thanks for being awesome and for all the extra things you do to make our lives better! Love U! xoxo

#7- Whisper in their ear how your heart skipped a beat the first time you met. Share some small detail about that day that they may not remember.

#6- Collect some leaves and spell out I (HEART) You! on the front lawn! Indoor option: Spell it out in candies on the kitchen table or on the bed!

To check out the top 5 ways, come back next week!

Over... Next!

It’s Over, What’s Next?

 

Have you ever had a big event in your life that was awesome, but left you feeling depressed because it was over?

 

Conversely, have you ever had something happen between you and your partner that left you feeling angry, unappreciated or resentful?

 

Although very different, both of these scenarios can have a negative impact on you and those around you. So what’s one to do? I suggest taking the advice of 94 year-old Norman Lear, famed producer of shows such as All in the Family, Good Times and The Jeffersons.

 

During his recent appearance on NPR’s, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!, Norman shared advice centered around 2 simple words: Over and Next.  “When something is over, it is over. And we are on to next.” he stated. What great advice that can make a huge impact on your mindset and on the quality of your everyday life!

 

Without going into detail, I once carelessly ruined a new outfit my wife bought to wear that afternoon at a friends wedding. Although disappointed for a moment, my wife considered it over and we went on to have a great time at the wedding. How awesome on her part!

 

When we returned from our grand family vacation to Florida, we were all sad that it was Over. But we decided to enjoy today and anticipate all the great things that were coming Next!

 

Mr. Lear went on to say that “If there were to be a hammock in the middle between Over and Next, that would be what is meant by living in the moment.”

 

Consider this next time you are holding a grudge, or are a bit sad of something being over. Look to Next and enjoy this moment!

 

Making Life's Hard Decisions Simple

WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT?

What’s more important to you?

Kindness or Generosity

Faith or Patience

Determination or Courage

Compassion or Gratitude

Honesty or Forgiveness

Hard to pick, right?

The reality is that regardless of how great and important you think all these values are, you choose to prioritize some values over others every single day… often without even thinking about it.

The values you choose determine how you make important decisions in your life.

It influences whether you give money to a homeless person (generosity) vs. whether you don’t (self-reliance).

It influences whether you spend your money on cool experiences with people you love (loyalty), on things you really want (affluence), or you give it to charity (compassion).

It influences whether you are quick to apologize (forgiveness) or whether you occasionally hold a grudge (justice).

None of these values are inherently good or bad. And none of the above examples are right or wrong choices.

Each of these values is important to create the diverse, beautiful, and fascinating world we live in.

These values also shape your character, your beliefs, your choices, and your destiny.

Our shared values are what bind us to the people we love most… so much so that when our values change, often times our social circles change as well.

Ever notice when a single friend gets married, they often stop spending time with their single friends? It’s not because they don’t care about their friends anymore… it’s because they’ve had a change of values. Suddenly family, love and commitment take a priority over freedom, play and opportunity.

DO YOU KNOW YOUR CORE VALUES?

I’m amazed at how many people — especially couples — go throughout life without knowing what their core values are… they don’t even talk about it!

The very thing that binds people together goes completely unacknowledged.

When you know your values, you make more informed and inspired decisions in your life… especially hard decisions.

Your core values make it simple to decide whether or not to take the promotion. Whether or not to have kids. Whether or not to move to a new city. Whether or not to get married. Whether or not to buy a house, or continue renting.

Plus…

When you know your partner’s values, you get a window into their soul.

It’s like having a cheat sheet for their heart.

Knowing their values helps you understand the motivations behind their words, actions, and the things they get passionate and emotional about.

If they highly value equality, they may get really angry when they witness a social injustice.

If they value faith, they may be really hurt when they hear someone curse God, or speak unkindly of their religion.

If they value gratitude, they may become disenchanted and worn out if they don’t receive words of appreciation regularly.

Knowing your partner’s values will make you an incredible companion… the kind that understands, lifts, and inspires their partner to be their best self.

YOUR VALUES ARE CONTAGIOUS!

My favorite thing about values is that they are contagious.

A few weeks ago I worked out at the gym next to a friend of mine who is a complete workhorse. He attacked the workout like a bat out of hell.

His drive and ferocity inspired me to work harder, move faster, and take shorter rests.

His value of work ethic elevated my game.

Here’s another example…

Have you ever been in a situation where you were watching someone get bullied or publicly embarrassed? Maybe some people in the crowd were chuckling or outright laughing at the person being targeted. Maybe you even caught yourself laughing along.

Then somebody stands up and says, “Stop! This isn’t ok. Leave them alone.”

Other people start to speak up and defend the victim, break up the fight, or stop the bullying.

One person standing up for the value of kindness or equality will elevate the values of those around them.

When you live your values fully, you cause other people to rise to the occasion.

I invite you to spend some time this week and think about your core values. What are they? Why are they important to you? What experiences have fostered these values and shaped you into the person you are today? What are the values you share with the people/person you love most? How have those values impacted your relationship?

I’d love your responses in the comments.

If you want help identifying your values, check out the Rivets Card Game designed by David York. I’ve played it and it was an amazing experience that taught me a lot about myself and my relationship.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY THE GAME

A 75-Year-Old Study Give Away The True Secret to Happiness

For the last 75 years, a group of scientists have been following the lives of hundreds of men who come from the slums of Boston and the chambers of Harvard University.

The goal of the study has been to figure out what makes people happy.

The men being studied have seen it all.

War. Riches. Sickness. Love. Poverty. Health. Bankruptcy. Leadership. Addiction. And so much more.

Once the participants got to their 80's, the scientists went back to the data to see if they could find the data points that were most likely to predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy 80-year-old and who was not.

The findings were surprising. Are you ready?

It wasn't money.

It wasn't status.

It wasn't cholesterol levels.

It wasn't living location, education level, or number of kids.

The people who were the most satisfied with their relationships in their 50's were the healthiest at age 80.

The relationships you cultivate now - with your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, and your children - are the gateway  to happiness now, and in your old age.

I can't speak for you, but sitting in a small home surrounded by people I love as I breathe my last breath sounds far more attractive than sitting in a large home surrounded by a pile of money and a lawyer.

The best insurance you can have for your long-term happiness is to invest in creating quality, meaningful, deeply-connected relationships.

So, plan a vacation, play some games, go for a walk together, turn off the computer, pick up the phone and make a call to say hello, plan a date night.

Where you invest your time and attention will determine where you see the return. If you want high returns in happiness and health, invest in relationships.

How A Simple Game Can Transform Your Relationship

If you're a fan of Unbox Love, you know we love finding activities that bring couples together.

Well, we've found a real winner this week! (And it makes a PERFECT last minute Christmas gift. *wink*)

It's called KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES!

The objective is to work together as a team to defuse a bomb before it blows up. One person looks at the bomb and relays information to the other person (or people) who happens to have a bomb defusing manual. The person with the manual then tells the person looking at the bomb which buttons to push, and which wires to cut to defuse the bomb.

This game is a blast to play. It can be really intense, and you never get the same bomb twice.

But here's the deal... the reason I recommend this game isn't solely because it's fun. It's also a phenomenal tool to learn about you, your partner, and your relationship.

You will learn that sometimes you're not as good at communicating as you think you are.

Sometimes what you're saying is SO clear to you, but what your partner is hearing is not even remotely close to what you're trying to communicate. It makes you realize how conflicts can arise outside the game because of a simple miscommunication.

You'll learn how you and your partner both react when placed in high-pressure situations.

Do you get hyper-focused or do you freak out and shut down when the last few seconds on the bomb are ticking away and you're at the final stages of a puzzle?

You'll learn how you and your partner respond to failure.

It's inevitable when you play this game that you'll make a mistake that will cause your bomb to explode. How do you react? Do you want to stop playing? Do you try to avoid the series of wires or buttons that caused you failure in the past? Do you dive in and try to master your weakness?

You'll learn whether you're a leader or a follower.

Are you the kind of person who likes to take control, assign out the puzzles, defuse the bomb, and control the communication? Or are you the kind of person who likes to sit around and wait to be told what to do? This might give you a chance to ask yourself why you choose to be the leader or the follower... Do you hate it when other people don't do things the way you do? Do you prefer to avoid taking risks and looking bad? Do you like to be the center of attention, or do you prefer to be as invisible as possible?

You'll learn whether or not you're good at paying attention to the little things.

Each puzzle on the bomb has its own nuances and tricks. If you don't pay attention, moving too fast or misreading one little word can ruin the game for everyone. Are you the kind of person who doesn't pay attention to the little things at the expense of everyone else's efforts? Or are you a person who fixates on getting every little thing right thereby jeopardizing the game because you're so worried about doing something imperfectly that by the time you take action, it's too late?

There's so much you can learn about yourself in this game... I think EVERYONE should have to play it - first because it's fun - but more importantly, because it's an amazing opportunity to expose yourself to your real life weaknesses and flaws and ask yourself some important questions that can make you a better human being.

Click here to download the bomb defusing manual, click here to download the game, and click here to follow me (Nate) on Blab... a video streaming website where I occasionally get together to play with whoever is interested... or you can just watch.

Have an amazing holiday, enjoy the people you love most, and keep talking so nobody explodes!

And don't forget to sign up for Unbox Love if you haven't already!

A Recipe for the Perfect Apology

If you want to have healthy relationships that last, there is one skill you must absolutely master.

The apology.

The funny thing is, you were probably never taught the most effective way to apologize.

Lucky for you, I have a lot of practice with apologies... maybe even the requisite 10k hours worth that would qualify me as an expert.

So buckle up. I'm about to take you on a wild ride through Apologytown!


It's About More Than Being Sorry

Take a moment and think... what's the purpose of an apology?

Is it to absolve yourself of blame? Is it to avoid the consequences of your actions or to escape punishment? Is it so you can stop feeling guilty?

If these are the motivating factors behind your apology, your'e doing it wrong!

The purpose of an apology is to heal, repair and restore a relationship that has been damaged.

As a kid you're taught that an apology is saying, "I'm sorry."

Over time, those two words became the backbone of every apology. They were supposed to magically remove any harm, hurt feelings, or damage that you caused through your actions and words.

You say those words then act shocked when the people you've hurt continue to suffer.

"I said I'm sorry! What more do you want from me!?"

Here's the deal. I want you to forget that those two words exist.

They don't mean anything anymore.

"I'm sorry" doesn't magically make emotional or physical pain evaporate into thin air.

"I'm sorry" isn't the analog version of CTRL+Z that can undo our mistakes.

"I'm sorry" doesn't help us accomplish our goal of healing, repairing or restoring a relationship.

Often the words "I'm sorry" do more damage than good. We treat them like a magic healing potion (like the Grandpa uses Windex on My Big Fat Greek Wedding), but magic like this doesn't exist. There simply isn't a magic word that makes pain go away... and when we assume there is, it leaves our partner feeling hurt and invalidated and alone.

3 Steps to a REAL Apology

Now that you've ditched the ineffective, meaningless, and often hurtful "I'm sorry" strategy, I'm going to give you a strategy to apologize in a way that heals, uplifts, and connects you to the people you love.

Step 1 - Take Responsibility For Your Actions

When you hurt someone, it's typically a result of something you said or did... or something you didn't say or didn't do that you said you would.

Instinct would have you avoid the blame, and make up all sorts of excuses for your behavior, or even become defensive and try to shift the blame back on your partner.

"Sorry I'm late... traffic."

"I know I said I'd pick up the laundry, but my boss called me on the way home, and I just forgot."

"Yeah, I said some mean stuff, but I was really angry... and you were being a big jerk and you deserved it!"

Remember, your traffic didn't make the promise to show up on time. Your boss didn't make the promise to pick up the laundry. And your anger didn't make the promise to be kind.

You did.

Be responsible.

Avoiding accountability for your own actions is just bad form.

Instead say, "I screwed up. I made a promise and I broke it. It's my fault."

Then...

Step 2 - Feel Their Pain

When you do something (or don't do something) and an apology is warranted, you rarely take the time to understand the real consequences of your actions. You make the assumption that the sadness, anger, or upset is a direct result of the thing you did wrong.

Most of the time this assumption is way off base. Here's an example.

Let's say I tell my wife, "Hey babe! I'm going to be home from work to pick you up for our date at 5:30 tonight."

Then, for whatever reason -- I get stuck in traffic, or I get a last minute phone call, or I just lose track of time -- I show up late.

My wife is pissed.

Logically I make the assumption, "Oh, she's upset because I'm late," so my first instinct is to say, "Hey honey, I'm sorry I was late..."  followed by an explanation and excuse for my behavior. (Remember how this is a big no-no from the section above?)

In my brain, this tactic is supposed to free me of all responsibility and erase all harm.

But I avoid that instinct which most likely would just have makes things worse. (VICTORY!)

Instead, I take responsibility then seek some understanding. "Babe, I screwed up. I'm sorry. I know I'm late. And I see that you're upset. I didn't mean to hurt you, but I know I did. Tell me what you're experiencing or thinking or feeling. I want to understand the effect my choices had on you."

I know it sounds a little cheesy, but it's actually a beautiful offering to your partner.

This simple act of seeking understanding will open up a door and demonstrate that the simple act of breaking a promise and showing up late can have a much more profound and negative impact on your relationship than you thought.

You'll hear things like:

"I have been really looking forward to spending time with you, and when you showed up late I just felt like I wasn't important. Your work just seems like it means more to you than our relationship. I feel really lonely. I really miss you."

or

"I felt like I couldn't trust you. I want to know that my husband will always be there for me. Lately you've dropped the ball on a lot of little things... I sometimes ask myself if I can't rely on you for the little things, can I really rely on you for the big things? I want to be able to trust you, but when you break your promises, I get scared that I won't be able trust you at all in the future."

or

"When you didn't show up on time and I didn't hear from you, I was scared that you were hurt or that something had happened. I can't imagine my life without you. I love you so much and I worried that I had lost you."

When you take a minute to really listen to the impact your actions and words have, it gives you an opportunity to be feel your partner's pain. You're act of empathy and understanding act as two of the key ingredients to creating connection and intimacy and trust... something that you lost when you screwed up.

See how we're restoring the relationship!? Isn't this cool?

Step 3 - Make A New Commitment

Now that you've taken responsibility for your actions, and really taken time to understand the consequences of those actions, it's time to make a plan to move forward with more trust and connection.

Have a conversation with your partner about what you can do to rebuild trust and help them feel more loved and respected.

Tell them what you plan to do to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Create a new set of commitments, agreements, and promises that will leave your relationship fortified and protected... then keep them!

Practice Makes Perfect

Honestly, it's really hard to resist the decades of instincts and conditioning that come up when you screw up. I get it.

I still catch myself saying, "I'm sorry," in the hopes that it will fix everything, or making excuses for my behavior.

The best way to really master this new form of apology is to use it all the time, with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.

Practicing these 3 steps will make your relationships work so much better!

Take ownership... be responsible for your actions.

Listen to your partner tell you about the pain you caused. Feel their pain.

Make a new commitment to be better, to change, and to improve.

There will be less resentment, grudges, anger, and disappointment. Even when you screw up, you'll be reinforcing how important your partner is to you, and resolving any doubts, insecurities, or worries they may have.

Use the recipe! Make it your own! Create something awesome with it.

Let me know what you think about it in the comments!

Celebrate Love Note Day With A Free Gift!

Saturday is my favorite holiday of the year... it's NATIONAL LOVE NOTE DAY!

Love notes are one of my favorite things in life. They are fun to write, because you get to really think about what you want to say before you say it.

Then you get to see someone’s reaction as they read all the lovely things you feel about them.

And then they get to save your words to read later if they are every feeling blue, or missing you! It’s like wrapping up a memory and having it available for instant replay at any time…

I even love to write love notes for strangers and hide them in places like airports, parks, restaurants or shopping malls.

It’s amazing what one little note of encouragement and love can do for someone.

So, here’s the deal… I want you to celebrate Love Note Day with me!

Here’s how you can do that...

Step 1:

Write a love note. It can be to someone you love, or to a complete stranger… or even better, it could be both. You can even print off this sexy note that I had designed for you by the lovely Ashley Isenhour, designer over at Ike Studio.

It’s our gift to you!

Step 2:

Take a picture of your love letter and post it to Instagram or Facebook. Invite your friends to write love notes of their own.

Don’t forget to tag your photo with the hashtag #lovenoteday.

Step 3:

Bask in the awesome feelings of love that you’ve created in the world and in your life.

Thanks for helping me celebrate this amazing day!

Let’s go flood the world with some love!

If you want to share this post to invite your friends to participate, you can click one of these links to share on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest

Love you!

-Nate “Spread the Love” Bagley

 

How to make a Paracord Bracelet

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

The easiest way to make your paracord bracelet (and not screw up, or miss a step) is to follow the step-by-step instructions in this video.

DON'T LIKE VIDEO?

But if videos aren't your thing, here are some great instructions with pictures to help you create your rad wrist strap. Big thanks to Instructables for the images that we borrowed.

Step 1: Measure Your Wrist

Actual amount of cord used for the bracelet is about 1 foot of cord for every 1 inch of knotted bracelet length. So if your wrist is 8 inches you'd use approximately 8 feet of cord.

Wrap the paracord around you wrist and make a note of where the cord meets. Hold this point next to your ruler or tape measure and that's your wrist size.

Step 2: Find the center of the cord

old the ends of the cord together and find the center of the loop. Take the center of the cord and pull it thru one end of the buckle (either side of the buckle, it doesn't matter). Now pull the cord ends thru the loop until it's tightened up and attached to the buckle.

Step 3: Finding the bracelet length

Take buckle apart and and pull the free ends of the cord thru the other part of the buckle, sliding it up towards the attached part.  Now you're going to measure the distance between the two buckle ends for the bracelet size for your wrist.

Add about 1 inch to your measured wrist length, this will make the finished bracelet a comfortable fit. You're measuring from the end of the female part of the buckle to the flat part of the male end of the buckle (the part with the prongs, they don't count for the measurement because the fit inside the female part of the buckle when the bracelet is closed).

Step 4: Start making the knots

Take the cord on the left side and place it under the center strands running between the buckle ends.

Now take the cord on the right side under the left side cord, over the center strands, and thru the loop of the left side cord.

Tighten up the cords so the half knot you just formed is next to the buckle.

Now take the right side cord under the center strands. The left side cord goes under the right side cord, over the center strands and thru the loop of the right side cord.

Tighten up the cords (not too tight, just until they meet the resistance of the knot) and now you have a completed knot.

You will continue doing this alternating the left and right sides as you go. If you don't alternate, you'll quickly see a twisting of the knots, just undo the last knot and alternate it to correct.

Step 5: Continue knotting

Keep tying the knots until you have filled the space between the buckle ends. The knots should be uniform from one end to the other. Tie each knot with the same tension to keep the them all the same size.

Step 6: Trim the excess cord and melt the ends

You can now use your scissors to trim off the extra cord close to the last knot that you tied. I trim one at a time and use my lighter to quickly melt the end I cut.

Wait a second for the melted cord to cool just a bit and then use my thumb to press the melted end onto the surrounding cord so it hardens as it attaches.

You must be careful with this step. The melted cord is extremely hot, and it's possible to get burned. You might also try using a soldering iron or wood burning tool for the melting step if you wish. Or even use something like a butter knife, the side of your lighter, or the knurled section of a tool to flatten out the melted end of the cord to finish it.

An alternative to melting the ends, is to tuck/pull the ends under the last couple of knots (I have used hemostats to do this on the inside of the bracelet) then trim them to finish. It does work, and is just barely noticeable as the cords add a slight bulge at that end of the bracelet.

Step 8: You're finished

If you did everything correctly, it should look something like this finished one. Once you know what you're doing you can vary the amount of cord used by making the knots tighter or looser and pushing the knots closer together as you go.

We hope you enjoy your new bracelets... and more, we hope you enjoy the entire Prepare for Adventure date!

Incorporating adventure into your relationship stimulates the brain, releases bonding chemicals, and creates that awesome "in love" feeling. Take advantage of the amazing weather and go play together, or as Miss Frizzle said... "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"