Dan started a diary using a moleskin pocket notebook and wrote entries like a diary to me and mailed it to North Africa for me to read and write in. I kept it for a while, writing about my days and thoughts and mailed it back to him. We did this through several notebooks - back and forth. It's such a sweet reminder of what our days were like, what we were doing, sweet notes to one another, funny pics and drawings that we drew in them - just daily life- together, but apart.
Creative Dating Ideas for LDR
Each year as one of my Christmas gifts for Dan, I created a personal calendar with our own personal pictures. I used the Apple store to do this but there are many other stores like Blurb and Shutterfly that let you design and print your own. I uploaded special pics and wrote special notes on important dates that served as reminders and countdowns for when our time apart would come to an end. My favorite calendar was the second year when I used pics from our first year apart for special times - such as Valentines' Day and St. Patricks' Day and it also had four extra months when we were finally together!
So this ranks highest on the cheese chart but I'm going to share it nonetheless. Every few days we both would send a pic just to say, "I Love You" - something like this...
where ever we were, whatever we were doing... it was just fun to be silly and take pictures with the photo booth app on our computers and it was simple and quick to send a pic to each other.
This was probably one of the hardest holidays to celebrate apart. He couldn't just send me flowers or whisk me away to dinner - but Dan was super creative despite the distance. Our first year apart, He sent me a package that had things I could open on certain times, including my favorite Reese's Valentine Hearts and my "Red Roses" CD Mix. One the second Valentine's Day, we enjoyed dinner together. We both cooked the same meal, which was quite the task for me living in N.Africa. I learned that the word for blue cheese in arabic is the same in french... (blue...pronounced with a french accent) We had blue cheese smothered filet mignon with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert we had chocolate chip cheesecake! It was yummy to eat together at the same time, as if we were sitting together at a nice restaurant. He also made me a special Cd (not like the monthly cd's he would send) that had love songs and even a theme to it! I still treasure those cds and the work that he put into the covers and album artwork and the songs too!
Dan loves photography- like loves it! He often carries his camera along with him wherever he goes! It's one of the many things that I love about him! On the day that I left for North Africa, we started a photography journey of taking a picture each day that we were apart. Now 645 days later and nearly 1300 pictures from the both of us - we are back together- yeah! Now our goal is to publish our pictures together, side by side, to document our journey together, yet apart! It's going to be a BIG book!
You can check out our pictures on our flickr pages. (links on the side)
Every day we emailed back and forth. Normally I would email Dan first thing in the morning and he would email me at some point during his day and before he went to bed. At times, we had TONS to chat about. I could tell him all about what was going on in N. Africa and he could share about his job at QS1 and other things in our lives. But at times - well, honestly, we just didn't have a whole lot to chat about. Each week (most weeks) on Tuesday, we would send a Top 10 Thankful list to each other. Those were sweet lists and helped us to keep the focus and remember why we were on this crazy, wild, weird adventure together! It also gave us something to share together that we normally wouldn't email about. I was thankful for things like Dr. Pepper, taco seasoning, nacho nights with the girls, fun dates with Dan, sweet coffee with friends. He was thankful for yummy dinners with family, days off, cameras and flickr, coffee from starbucks, and other random things too!
Our TV show choices are pretty different! Ok - they are a LOT different. I love shows like Grey's Anatomy, Glee, and reality shows while Dan is ALL about shows like Lost, Psych, and Bones. While we were apart one of the things that we did together was watch Lost. I wasn't so sure about this at first but decided to take one for the team and start watching Lost from the beginning.
I got addicted!
While we were apart, I watched all seasons up to the final season and then each week we would watch the new episode together. It was just something fun to do together. It was also a way that we counted down together - we knew when Lost ended, we didn't have much time left apart. Now, it's his turn to watch a show with me!
We've had some pretty important days pass while we've been apart. None are harder than birthdays!! For Dan's birthday this past year, I enlisted the help of one of his sisters and had a special delivery just for his special day. I put together a party in a box, including a Strawberry Cake Mix, one of his favorites, icing, candles, a birthday hat and balloons!! He really loved it and I loved having his sister help too! They have been super supportive of our relationship and whenever I need them to play "elves" for a special day, they always jump right in there!!! For my birthday, Dan sent my package early with things wrapped up and specific to when I could open them. I was in Greece (I know, tough life.. hehe) so I was able to take the packages with me and celebrate with Dan on my special day!
Each Month, Dan has put together a playlist of songs for me to have!! It's always one of my favorite days - when the email comes with a link to five or six, maybe seven new songs that he's specifically picked out for me! I always rush to get the songs downloaded, added to my ipod, and listen away... They usually have a theme and some months he's even mailed me the actual cd and a really cool cd cover that he makes himself. Dan and I both love music and so to share some of the same songs and for him to take the time to put together the perfect playlists, really lets me know that he really loves me, yep - he does!
Dan and I love coffee!!! We had our first date at Starbucks, well - it was more of a "can I get to know you more kinda date..." but nonetheless... For our first Valentine's together, I got him a coffee grinder. Real Romantic, I know! I also added some other coffee goodies in there too. We both just love coffee. I know for me (Kimmy speaking here) it's more the memories and the conversations and the community, than the actual coffee itself. As we've been apart, that's probably one of the biggest things I miss the most - random coffee dates together. Before I left, I made sure to get Dan's Starbucks gift card number and pin number and every once in a while, when he's least expecting it, I recharge his card! It's just a small way to tell him that I love him and that I can't wait for future coffee dates together. We also have had "coffee dates" too. Because I'm five hours ahead, I prefer the decaf coffee when it's late at night. But both of us drinking coffee and just chatting through the computer, is a fun way to "connect". We're looking forward to making some amazing coffee drinks together in the coffee cookbook that I got him too!
Early on, when we first started dating, we took the time to read Prince Caspian, from the Chronicles of Narnia, together. On nights when we didn't have much planned, we would head to Barnes & Noble and sit in the kid section and read to one another, one chapter at a time. Finally, we got smart and decided to rent the book from the library to avoid all the stares from the moms who were weirded out by us just reading to one another. We finally finished the book after a few months! As we began our journey apart, we decided to read together again. We've read the first two books of Harry Potter and we're working on the third. We each take a turn and read a chapter at a time. We've also read books on dating and honoring the Father together, which has been great as well. It's just another idea and gave us something to look forward to doing together and sharing together. It was also good on nights when I was ready for bed and was sleepy, that I could just listen to him read to me (I am five hours ahead of Dan!)
Having a time difference of four to five hours is almost perfect (almost...) because we are able to have lunch/dinner together. One date that we had was a Pizza Date. I surprised Dan with a Papa John's pizza at his door. I told him to be home for lunch that day and then I went to work planning my surprise! I went online and ordered a pizza and had it delivered to him, paid for, and everything! I also made a trip to our local Pizza Hut and ordered my favorite pizza. Living in N. Africa, where time doesn't matter, It was fun timing the two pizzas to be delivered at around the same time! He was so surprised. He was expecting my mom or someone to bring him lunch, but nope... He had a pizza with all his favorite toppings, including jalapenos, which he can enjoy for now, while I'm away! Sooo... get creative, find out what restaurants near you allow online orders and deliveries and surprise your significant other when he or she is least expecting it!
I knew that going into our time apart, I was going to have to help plan some dates as well. It's hard and gets old after a while when just one person is doing all the planning. I decided before I left to put together 21 envelopes filled with a date for each month that I would be gone. Each month, Dan pulled a date from the big envelope and we would plan a time for that month to make sure that date happened. Each envelope was different. One envelope was dinner and a movie, one was playing scrabble, one was reading a book together, one was a $5 for a coffee date... We both looked forward to each month's date and what it would be. It also helped Dan see that I was working hard and being creative as well! It was fun to watch him get excited as he opened the envelope each month, and it was also fun to watch the envelopes dwindle over time...
Dan and I are both super competitive people and while we were dating and in the same place, we would play board games together. We played several games of Scrabble and had a running joke about who was going to win or lose. After I moved overseas, we signed up for a free account with Lexulous and played Scrabble against each other. The only downside is that I'm super fast and so I usually always WIN due to the time limit that often runs out on Dan. (He totally wants to edit that part!!! haha) We learned alot about each other through playing scrabble: 1. Dan doesn't like to lose 2. We can't keep passing back and forth when we don't have a word 3. After about 2 games, we need to call it a night before we get into a fight!