Category Archives: Spouse dates

Criminal Minds

dinner detectiveSometimes you learn something about your spouse on a date that really surprises you.  One of our “outside of the box” dates was to go to a Murder Mystery Dinner.  Ours was at a hotel in downtown Austin, but I’ve seen them advertised in multiple cities.  If you are looking for a double date idea (or a larger group) this would be a great idea.

We parked in the hotel parking garage and then went up to the ballroom where the dinner was being held.  Upon checking in, everyone had to get a name tag.  On the name tag you wrote a fake name and that was your persona for the rest of the night.  Before dinner, there was a “meet and greet” where you wandered around the room and introduced yourself to other people there.  The idea is that you get to know some people before the mystery unfolds and you have to solve the crime.  Some of the people you meet are actors who are going to be playing roles in the dinner and they have elaborate backstories.  Was the person I just talked to really an accountant in Austin or was he an actor who is playing a role in the story?

This is where I was surprised.  I’m the introvert and Amanda is the extrovert, but walking around the room and talking to strangers was a lot of fun for me.  Amanda was very uncomfortable and just wanted it to end.  Who would have thought?  We could have had an extra date just exploring that curveball!

After the “meet and greet” you went back to your table where you have dinner with eight to ten people.  Several things are happening at this time.  You are meeting new people (and will soon be trying to figure out if they are actors or regular people like yourself),  eating dinner that is served by a waitstaff, and having a murder unfold before your eyes.  There are detectives and witnesses that tell the story and there are plenty of clues given to you throughout the night.

At the end of the night, each person turns in their report of who they think the murderer was and the reason why the murder took place.

I thought this date was a lot of fun.  Amanda thought it was horrible.  I guess you win some and you lose some.  You can find a lot of deals on Groupon.  I looked when writing this blog and you can get a Groupon for $69, but when I went to the Dinner Detective website we used, it was only $60!

If you want a quiet night out, this is not the date for you.  On the other hand, if you want to do something very unique and meet some new people then you’ve found a winner!

Happily Ever After


Date boxes were a pretty genius invention!  The concept is like other subscription boxes.  Your monthly subscription gets you a date idea mailed to you and it comes with everything you need to spend some creative time together.  I love the idea, but Amanda’s favorite date is always going to a movie.  My favorite thing to do is be creative.  When I’ve subscribed to a box, I’ve always taken the smallest subscription, usually three months, because it takes us about six months to carve out time between movies and creative dates.

Recently, I subscribed to Happily Datebox and we tried the very first box that was sent.  You can consider this blog a two-for-one deal.  You can find out what a Happily Datebox is like OR you can take some ideas and do it on your own!

I was very pleased with the quality of my first box from Happily (and I have a few more that we’ll walk through in future blogs).  It is a very professional presentation all the way down to the box that it arrives in.  Our date was a two-part date.  The two parts didn’t necessarily go together, but they were both fun.

The first part was a card game that was all about who knows the other person better.  We took it with us to lunch and found a table in the back corner of Rudy’s where we could eat and spread the cards out.  Each person is given six cards that have a question on them.  You answer each question on a sheet of paper that you keep hidden from your spouse.  After your answers have been recorded, you lay out the cards for your spouse to read.  She has ten tokens that she spreads out over the cards based on how confident she is of your answer.  She tells you her answers and if she is correct, then she gets points that are equal to the tokens she wagered on the card.  It was a fun game!

The second part of the date was making homemade ice cream.  Before you even open your box there is a list of a few supplies that you are given for the date.  Several ingredients for the ice cream are in the box (sugar, rock salt, several types of ice cream toppings, etc.), but there are some supplies that are harder to package or can’t ship in the mail (vanilla, heavy cream, etc.).  We had all the ingredients on hand, so we didn’t have to make a stop at the store, but if you didn’t you could find yourself in a predicament.  The box comes with instructions and plastic bags that you mix the ice cream ingredients in and then shake in the bags. It did require freezing for 25-30 minutes, but you could do that while you play the game.

My first experience with Happily was great!  The only downside was that they supplied a card for a Spotify playlist web address and a “lean to dance” web address and both of those links were no longer active.

If you want an easy date, you could subscribe to Happily.  The cost is between $33 -$40 a month depending on the length of your subscription.  The six-month subscription is cheaper per month than the month-to-month option.  There is also a digital datebox that is $8 a month, but obviously comes with no supplies.  You can usually find a discount for your first box.  At the time of this blog, one of the codes was “SAVE 20”.

If you want to be creative, you could come up with your own set of questions to make a similar game and you can find a recipe for homemade ice cream in a bag here.

If you are the first person to respond and post a comment on the blog, I’ll send you the game and the ice cream recipe that we have.


Add Some Creativity to Your Anniversary


Did you know that each wedding anniversary has a gift assigned to it?  I don’t know how it was decided and there isn’t even one definitive list, but I adopted one of the lists a few years ago.  Our 18th wedding anniversary was coming up so I figured I’d buy something that matched the 18th year.  It was “appliances.”

Now my wife has actually asked for a Swiffer before on her birthday.  One of her spiritual gifts is cleaning and I think she finds great joy in it, so I wasn’t too worried about her being offended by me buying her an appliance of some sort.  The problem was that I didn’t know of an appliance that she actually needed or wanted.  After a little searching, I came upon the perfect gift . . . not just for her, but for our family.  I got a sno cone maker!  Now before you gather the pitchforks and a mob, it wasn’t the ONLY thing I got her.  It was just one thing that matched the theme.

The next year was the Jade Anniversary.  I searched Amazon and there was nothing she would like.  I googled idea and came back with the same result.  So creativity kicked in.  I found out there is a place where you can find jade in northern California, but with all the things happening around our life that year, a trip wasn’t in the cards.  So instead, we went to Jade Restaurant in Austin.  For what it’s worth, it was a fantastic restaurant.

This was our 20th anniversary and it was the China Anniversary.  We don’t use china in our house.  It’s odd to unwrap a Taco Bell burrito and place it on such a fancy dish.  Taking a trip to China wasn’t going to happen either, so I used Trip Advisor to find the highest rated Chinese restaurant in Austin that was not in the $$$$ category.  So for our 20th anniversary we went to Wu Chow for dinner.  If you ever plan on going, make sure you make a reservation.  I had the foresight to do that, but the people in front of us at 6:15pm on a Tuesday night had an hour and a half wait.  I also ordered some envelopes that are traditional gift giving envelopes in the Chinese culture and I put her presents in those.  It is our twentieth so we’re also taking a trip to Boston next month, but we had to do something before that.

If you want to start adding creativity to anniversaries, here is the list I use.  The 21st anniversary is “fire” so make sure you check back in a year for now.  I’m going to burn something down!!!!


Dave and Buster’s


Several months back, Amanda and I went on a date where we were throwing axes at Epic Fun.  They gave us a game card to play some free video games.  There were hardly any people in the venue so we used all of our game card on the Jurassic Park video game.  We kept swiping the card until we beat the entire game.  We had a lot of fun playing the game so when Groupon offered a deal on “all you can play video games” at Dave and Buster’s, I jumped on it.

Dave and Buster’s was pretty crowded so there were some games, like air hockey, that were pretty crowded all night long.  Amanda was very excited because she beat me in basketball multiple times (and she beat me in some racing game where you blow people up with missiles).

There are a lot of games that you cannot use the card for (primarily the ones that have tickets), but there are enough games to keep you busy for a while.  The nice thing is that you could choose to eat at Dave and Buster’s while you are there, but we went just for the games.

Total cost: $25.00 for a two person game card

Foot Golf

Limerick Footgolf 810x456

I hadn’t heard of Foot Golf until a few years ago when a youth minister friend told me about it.  We took students one summer to play and had a great time so I put it on the date list.

What is Foot Golf?  It is golf with a soccer ball and no golf club.  You take the ball to the tee box and kick it towards the flag.  The hole is obviously big enough for a soccer ball.  Each kick is the same as a golf swing.  The holes vary between about 170 yards and 90 yard and they all have the appropriate par assigned to them.

We went out to the Harvey Penick Golf Course where they have a nine hole golf course and a Foot Golf course that is eighteen holes.  The Foot Golf course is a part of the regular golf course so they have limited times when you can play.  It can also be difficult to schedule because they only let you book it five days ahead of time.  We purchased a Groupon so it only cost us $12.40.  It would have cost $15.50, but I used a Groupon code to save more.  That cost includes 18 holes and soccer balls for two people.

We dropped the kids at school and went early in the morning to avoid the heat.  I took us about 90 minutes (I think) to play the course.  You cannot wear cleats, but if you can wear shoes with a harder toe it might save your some pain.  I’d also bring mosquito repellent and sunscreen with you.  There used to be water stations, but I didn’t see any this time through.

Hawks vs Spurs


I grew up a fan of the Atlanta Hawks which has caused people to ask hundreds of times, “How did that happen?”  When I was growing up, Ted Turner owned the Hawks and he also owned the television channel TBS and the Hawks games were the only way I could watch NBA basketball.  Thus, a fan was born.

For Christmas, Amanda bought me tickets to watch the Hawks when they came on their annual trip to San Antonio.  I can confidently say that this was not a date that my wife would have picked out for herself, but she knew it would be one of my favorite!

Sporting events are not for everyone and they can be fairly expensive.  A friend of mine connected me to TickPick.  If you are on the website (not the app) you can bid on tickets.  You pick the quality of the ticket you want and then put in what you are willing to pay.  If anyone who owns tickets in that area are willing to take your bid, it buys the tickets for you.  I haven’t been successful in bidding yet, but I have found tickets for cheaper than other tickets outlets because TickPick has no fees.

As I mentioned earlier, the basketball game probably wasn’t the highlight for my wife, but it was more than a basketball game.  There was four hours in the car which isn’t exciting, but it does provide for some quality time if you’ll redeem it.  We also had fun in trying to find a place to eat.  We ended up at Texas Burger Company which was a glorified drive-thru with some outdoor seating.  It wasn’t romantic, but it was fun!

The good news was we had a great time together.  The bad news was the Hawks lost ☹

Lupe Tortilla and Datelivery

Lupe TortillaA lot of our dates revolve around dinner and our last date was no exception.  We had not been to Lupe Tortilla yet, but we had heard a lot about it.

I have had a subscription to one of those date box sites where they send you a prepackaged date once a month.  I’m planning on reviewing some of those along the way in case any readers are interested in finding out more about them.

About a month ago I stumbled upon an offer to try out Datelivery.  All I had to do was pay for the shipping so I jumped on it.  As of now, that offer is still up on their website if you want to take advantage of it.  We took the box with us to Lupe Tortilla.  That’s probably not the wisest thing to do because most date boxes work better at your house (or at least you should open it to see what it included).  When I opened the box, the note inside explained that this was not a full box, but rather a sample.

It came with a scavenger hunt for around your house (clues were included . . . you just had to place them) that led to a massage.  The box included massage oil and Hershey’s Kisses.  The Kisses were in a ziploc bag and the massage oil looked like someone had bought a travel shampoo container, filled it with oil, and then printed a sticker off of their computer that said “massage oil” and put it on the bottle.  It seemed a little odd, but I was going to get a short subscription anyway to give it a chance.  Unfortunately, the only thing you can actually purchase on their website is the sample box.  So this is the first and last blog about Datelivery for the time being.

At the restaurant, we read the scavenger hunt clues (they were very easy) and I have no clue what happened to the candy.  The box also had some discussion questions to get couple’s talking.  We did those over dinner and they were well done.  Here are a couple to give you an idea or to discuss the next time you go out to dinner.

1. Describe what a “perfect day” looks like for you.

2. If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?

Captain Marvel isn’t Creative, but it Works

Captain-Marvel-Poster-new-look-1I try to be very creative when it comes to making memories of fun and laughter with the family, but I may be the only “creative” in my house.  So while I’m dreaming up ideas, my wife is simply wanting to go to the movies.

Amanda loves nothing more than going to the movie theater.  In fact, the other night over dinner, we were describing our “perfect days” and her perfect day had a movie in the afternoon and a movie in the evening.  I think that may be what happens when you grow up in a small country town where the nearest movie theater is over 30 minutes away.

So a lot of our dates are to the movies.  It’s not creative, but it’s what she loves.  The good news for me is that I can pick whatever movie I want to see and she’s usually in.  Last week we went to see Captain Marvel.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super hero movie I didn’t like . . . yes, I’ve seen Electra, the Hulk made by Ang Lee, and the Batman movies with Ben Affleck.  Even though the world would agree that Pee Wee Herman would make a better Batman than Ben Affleck, I still enjoyed the movies.  Captain Marvel was a win for me and since it was a movie, it was a win for Amanda.

Find something your spouse loves to do and do it often.

One of the things that worked for us when our kids were younger was “tax payer childcare.”  That may not work for everyone, but “tax payer childcare” was on Friday mornings.  Friday is generally my day off and Amanda makes her own hours, so we would go to the movies when the kids were in school. The matinee was also a cheaper option so it was a double victory!

What are some creative ways that you’ve made childcare work for you if you were going to the movies with your spouse?

Rodeo 2.0

josh turner

Sometimes you get those blessings in life where someone gives you a gift.  My love language is “receiving gifts” so I absolutely love those days!  Earlier in the week a friend of mine asked if I wanted two tickets to the Austin Rodeo to see Josh Turner.  It took me all of about two seconds to accept that gift.  I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but Josh Turner was on my bucket list.

I’m not going to write about a date to the rodeo since I just wrote about a Family Date to the rodeo a few days ago.  Instead, I was going to share with you our conversation on our date AND offer up a suggestion that might give you some guidance into intentional parenting.

Several years ago we made some values for our family.  This is a picture of our values.


On the way to the rodeo we spent some time walking through our values and evaluating how we are doing living them out.  In a social media world, we often see all of the exciting things a person is doing.  We see their best because we don’t want to post about the bad days in our life (unless we’re seeking attention from people).  I’m going to give you full disclosure on how our evaluation went.  We’re not a perfect family by any means.

1. Making Jesus First – We both felt like we were doing a pretty good job at that.  We spend intentional time as a family reading the Bible, praying together, and having spiritual conversations.  We’ve made our small groups, worship, and home group a priority for our family.

2. Impacting the World Through Missions – Our kids our young, but we’ve done some intentional serving in our community and in our church.  Our oldest volunteers once a month in the nursery to help out.  As parents, we serve a lot, but I didn’t give us that great of a grade.  We sponsor two children through World Vision (one for each daughter).  We haven’t done a great job of making our ministry to them all that it could be, so after our conversation on the way to the Rodeo, we decided to get that in gear and do better.

3. Making Memories of Fun and Laughter – We gave ourselves a pretty good grade here.  We like to laugh and we like to have fun together, but sometimes it is challenging because we don’t all have the same idea of what fun actually is . . . but we’re trying.  Stay tuned to the blog and I’m sure you’ll hear about the ideas I thought would be great that turned into open family rebellion.

4. Revealing the Heart of God by Loving our Family – I felt like this was an area of growth for me (I’ll say that Amanda does a better job at this than I do).  I was convicted that I often find my sarcasm and joking going to far at the expense of my kids.  My mentor told me years ago that we are to be to our kids as God is to us.  I’ve never forgotten that and as we evaluated our values, I felt like I needed to work on that area in our family.

5. Honoring God by Always Doing our Best – We have kids.  If you saw their bedrooms you’d probably conclude that they aren’t “doing their best,” but we felt like they were doing a pretty good job for their age.

So what is the takeaway?  First, have friends who give you free dates!  Second, think through what you value as a family.  What do you want your kids and your spouse to hold important?  Discuss these with your spouse or your family and write them down.  Hang them somewhere in your house where your family will see them regularly.  Come back to them and align your actions to what you say you value.