lukeandmanda

The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

Strawberry Shortcake With Two Spoons

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Last night, we had the most delectable strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream. As we are coming upon our 7th Valentine’s Day as a couple (fourth married), I want to explain why this kind of image is so important to us and for sustaining our love for each other “forever and always.”

Dessert is a treat…often we are counting calories (and dollars), so if we do go out to eat, which is fairly rare these days, we don’t indulge in dessert.

Also, because we are two busy, young, working professionals, we are usually running from Point A to Point B and most often never take the time to add another course to our meal. We simply don’t have the time to eat it.

Last night was different. We celebrated our official Valentine’s Date a few days early by visiting the Apache Casino Hotel’s 360 Restaurant. (There are not a lot of date places in Lawton, but we have heard great things about this one and wanted to give it a try. And, it was just like I pictured–nice, spacious, modern and delicious!) But, I’ll get to that in a moment.

Leading up to this date, we have had a very, very hectic few weeks with zero time to breathe in between. Lots of traveling here and there, not much relaxing on the weekends, combined with Luke getting sick for over a week in late January meant we had not had much couple time alone together in a WHILE. For those of you with kids scoffing at the idea that a married couple without kids must have all the time in the world together, that’s simply not our reality, at least in this season.

There are many days our work schedules are totally opposite and depending on Luke’s Army field schedule, we may see each other 1-2 hours or less on week nights (if that) before we drop into bed exhausted. And, even that time is not uninterrupted conversation time; we are rushing to get dinner ready, I am prepping my lesson plans and Luke is working to complete his PMP (professional project manager) certification. Needless to say, we were in sore need of a good date night.

We had it planned for weeks; Luke took me to the mall late Wednesday night to get my Valentine’s Day gifts, and I picked out the perfect red dress for our big night out. That is truly all I wanted this year–a new outfit!

This may sound silly, but I cannot impress upon you enough how excited I was to get all fixed up for this date. Luke and I both wear uniforms to work every day, and thus do not have much opportunity to wear “regular clothes.” The idea of having an hour plus to get ready, put on my make up, wear my hair down for once and wear my fancy new dress made me so happy.

To be very honest, I have felt a lot like an old frumpy married lady lately. I come home after a long day with my typical ponytail and my make up worn off my face from hours of wear, and then I change into lounge wear for the evening, and I feel that these are the only two bedraggled states my husband sees me in 90% of the time; not exactly attractive!

Last night, I felt like ME again. It’s amazing what difference taking the time to get ready can have for your self confidence. I know beauty is internal, but occasionally I like to look my best externally as well.

Anyway, I wasn’t even sure this date would happen because Luke came down with a stomach bug the night before. Fortunately, it was a 24-hour thing, and he was OK to go for dinner. I said half tongue in cheek that I feel Satan has been attacking our marriage lately. For the last few weeks every time we have something fun planned, literally every time, something happens, whether that be a work commitment, illness or other obstacle. When Luke called to tell me he wasn’t feeling well Friday morning, my stomach dropped, because I hated that he might be sick and was also sorely disappointed about our date possibly being canceled. I was so excited that he was so much better by early afternoon and fully up for going out! I had begun a Plan B V-Day celebration in my head–wine, fancy dishes and a home-cooked dinner, but there is just something about going out that is extra special for an old married couple like us.

So, we were playing the radio, both excitedly getting ready in our cramped cozy single bathroom, when I went to put on my dress and found that the lady at the mall forgot to take off the ink blotter security device. If we broke it, the dress would be ruined. We didn’t have time to go back to the mall, and there was a time I would have completely lost it over my expectations for both the evening and my attire being ruined. Fortunately, I have matured a little and was able to put aside the disappointment and pick another outfit. I knew I would have to rewear something, which is what I usually do, and had been hoping not to do for our special night, but I decided to settle on a dress I had bought for our cruise last summer and used my new brown booties (another part of my V-Day shopping excursion) to accessorize. The final effect (while not super Valentines-y), at least made me feel human again! I think we cleaned up pretty well; isn’t my date handsome in his charcoal sports coat, gray undershirt and perfect Justin Bieber hair flip? 😉

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I had to rework my jewelry scheme; the rhinestone bracelet, dangling earrings and black clutch didn’t go anymore so I settled on simple heart shaped brown dangly earrings with touches of navy and my gold Michael Kors watch (Christmas gift from Luke last year.)

Someone commented on our Facebook photo that our outfits matched, and I thought how ironic because it was absolutely not planned!

Dinner was incredible (and came with an incredible price tag), but for once it didn’t matter. We treated ourselves to not one but TWO appetizers, a couple of cocktails, dinner AND dessert. The whole meal lasted almost two hours, and we had lively conversation the whole time. I cannot tell you how much I needed this connection; in the day-to-day chaos of just surviving, I miss that kind of deep heart-to-heart discussion about our lives, hopes, dreams and future. It was literally the perfect Valentine’s Day with my husband, even without the red dress my heart had been set on.

At the end of the meal, Luke didn’t partake of the shortcake; he is not big on sweets, so I was happy to help him out by eating his part too. I savored it alone; I’m just so giving like that! 😉

We came home, and he opened a couple of his gifts. Because his birthday is in the next couple of weeks, I usually just order him a big batch marked V-Day/Bday and let him open a few at random. He found a Sonos Play 1 Speaker so we can continue to blast music throughout our house (some of our most fun couple time is getting ready and/or doing chores together with music in the background!), some undershirts (I’m nothing if not practical,) and a big stand-up party cooler he’s been eyeing for awhile. Our neighbors and good friends let us borrow theirs for New Year’s, and I knew I would get him his own when I saw how much he enjoyed that.

I have to give a shout out to my dear friend Lydia who kept me grounded this week when I was struggling that Luke and I have been apart more than we are together lately, and for helping me order and wrap all the gifts and prep for our big Valentine’s Day evening. She is truly a godsend in my life at Fort Sill.

I am going to get off of here now, grade a few papers and enjoy this beautiful sunshiney day with my husband. It’s 80 degrees with not a cloud in the sky, and for once we are both off work!

If you are in a long term relationship, I encourage you and leave you with this thought: There will be seasons that are hard, seasons that are lacking in quality time, seasons that seem bumpy. But, there is always strawberry shortcake, something to look forward to, something to get you through and something that just truly makes it all worthwhile. Of course, too much dessert can make you sick, and you may begin to take its value for granted. But, an occasional, well timed, intentional treat for just you and your spouse is literally invaluable in my book.

Disclaimer: Please know and truly understand that someone’s rosy social media pictures are not always accurate depictions of what is going on inside. Remember you are seeing their strawberry shortcake moments nearly exclusively and there are hard times and real struggles between the happy snapshots. But, it’s those hard times and getting through them together that makes or breaks a couple, in my humble experience.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from my heart to yours!

Manda

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