Reid and I celebrated 12 years of marriage on Sunday.  Every anniversary I like to reflect back on God’s faithfulness to us.  We’ve lived in 3 cities, had 5 kids, countless disagreements, joyous date nights, lame day nights and more challenges than I can count, pale in comparison to the many blessings, and days and nights with my best friend.  A good marriage is like tending to a garden, it needs a lot of care, weeding, hedging, and planning. I can relate keenly to this because our back yard after kids is pretty sad and neglected but I don’t have time to tend to it. And you can tell. A good marriage like a beautiful garden doesn’t just grow, it is “tended to,” lovingly protected from predators like bugs and weeds. Read honest marriage tips we’ve learned by experience in 12 years:

Tip #1:

Spouses can’t read minds. Coffee in bed was always my marriage dream and I used to have an expectation that he’d bring me coffee in bed as the morning birds were chirping outside my bedroom window.  Well…He didn’t bring me my coffee without me asking for it first and wow did I get upset.  Kind of a pathetic thing to get upset about, so skip the fight and just ask nicely.

Tip #2:

While I want coffee, Reid wants to workout in the AM. Team work is about compromise. Let you spouse do what they enjoy and he’ll let you do what you want to do.  Find out what makes him tick, what makes his day?

Tip #3

Put his needs before yours. This takes God’s help, I don’t naturally do this.

Tip #4

Put the cap back on the toothpaste and don’t yell at him if he doesn’t.  But never leave toothpaste in the drain.  That I can’t get over.  Just don’t do it.  No excuses.

Tip #5

Take one day at a time, don’t feel like you have to tackle all the marriage goals in one day.

Tip #6

Marriage always takes priorities over kids. Reid and I put each other over the kids.

How we met: Not many of you know, but Reid and I met in a Bible study downtown Chicago. It was a great place to meet and observe each other without going out right away. I encourage our kids when of the age to seek this kind of wholesome group in which to meet a possible spouse.

I went to coffee with another guy before Reid and he had so many red flags, I told him, let’s stay friends, I’m not interested in moving forward. That wasn’t an easy conversation to have, however, I wasn’t going to allow my heart to lead before my head. I would rather wait for the right one than settle and be unhappy the rest of my life. Girls, it’s ok to have a list of things you would like in a spouse, only have a friend keep you accountable on your list for yourself. We can’t be waiting on near perfection if we aren’t working on ourselves in the meantime. Also, it’s ok to note red flags. THEY SERVE TO PROTECT YOU.

That leads me to the question, how did you know he was “the one?” I get asked that a lot on Instagram when I show Reid or mention our relationship. I’ll start by saying I don’t believe in a magical formula, but I do believe in counsel and prayer. Ask your parents about this person, or a mentor, or someone older than you what they think. Ask them if they think you’re compatible. If that sounds old fashioned, call me old fashioned. It’s only your WHOLE life that you are promising to be with this person in marriage. That’s quite a commitment. I prayed a lot for closed doors if Reid and I were not meant to get married, after all, I wanted this to be a blessed union, despite how sexy he was or his job title.

In the beginning, we fought a ton about stupid things. It’s normal. Some of them included, If we should sign up for Sprint or Verizon, should we keep or toss a dozen spools of ribbon from our wedding, cheap date nights vs splurge date nights, and I can’t remember more but believe me, there was more! Now, we laugh about it!

Now 12 years in and I love him more than ever. 

So, today marks our 10 year anniversary. Those were some fast years … some smooth, some rough, but all pretty great as a whole. Since 10 years is hardly a drop in the bucket in the great scheme of Life, I recently interviewed a couple special, more experienced people, to help me put together 10 pieces of advice to married couples and singles! Marriage can be wonderful, but like anything worth having, it takes work. Read on . . .

keep realistic expectations of yourself and your spouse

recognize you both will have different gifts and abilities. don’t fight it. and no, you can’t change it.

you will fight over stupid things. just expect it. and when you do, talk first to your spouse, instead of your girlfriend and mother.

listen to your spouse, not your parent.

go on dates and do the things you did when you were dating to keep the romance

read scripture together

try to do what the spouse likes to do. if its a football game, watch it. if she likes photos, help her.

have dinners together, despite the busy schedules

don’t compare your relationship to other couples. its really tempting, but avoiding this will ensure more contentment.

go on dates. (it bears repeating)

Your turn. If married, what is your advice? Feel free to weigh in. Happy Anniversary Reid! Love you to the moon and back.



10 years ago this week, we got engaged. Here’s our story . . .

We had been dating for about 6 months when my family took a trip to Southern France to stay in a cousin’s chateau.  Although Reid and I had a rough journey there, with cancelled flights and unexpected layovers, we made it.  Vineyards and lavender fields dotted the countryside and the charm was undeniable. We picked fruit, perused french markets, and did all the things you think people do in Southern France. I had no idea that Reid was going to propose, but after a dinner date one evening we returned to the field behind the chateau where music  from Pride and Prejudice came floating out from under the canopy of the willow tree. Stepping through the hanging curtain of leaves, there was a gorgeous table spread with desserts, flowers, and candlelight … and an uninvited yellow lab, no joke. It was breathtaking, and obviously, I said yes. We’ve had some great years and some rough years, with 4 children pretty close together (hello, Irish twins), countless diapers, too many moves to count, and 7 architecture exams. He was and still is my best friend and I hope and pray our children have a similar story if not one to best it! And if I could tell my 20 year-old self some advice? It would be to worry less and take risks. God is good.

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To celebrate my 3-year blog anniversary, I’m giving away what I would want to receive: $100 to spend at Nordstrom. It also happens to be the Nordstrom Anniversary sale this week. Get excited. It’s seriously so good and I usually score some great essentials that carry me through to fall. 

I started shalicenoel.com after I had my 4th child and needed an outlet. Hooray for hobbies that turn into legit jobs! I painstakingly created flatlay #ootd’s on our wood floor, took 100 shoe seflies #fromwhereistand and chased the light before I went in to make dinner. I use the word ‘painstakingly’ because I was doing the flatlays between replenishing my little people’s water cups, wiping bottoms, answering the door, and cleaning up the baby powder before someone slipped in it. To say it’s been a roller coaster is an understatement. So many highs, like awesome partnerships with Burberry and Nordstrom, and lows – oh, I have a sick kid AND a deadline. Hmm, how’s this going to look? I’ve learned by trial and error what works and what doesn’t, but I always seem to be reevaluating weekly. I have days that I question what I do, and I think any working mom will empathize. But at the end of the day it’s about relationships and you only do what you can do. We’re only human. I’m thankful to my omnipotent God, my supportive husband, patient children and good coffee.

To thank YOU, for following along, leave a comment below and I’ll choose a random person below to give them the $100 Nordstrom giftcard. Not sponsored. Winner announced Wednesday 7/13.

Good luck!

See a flashback below . . .

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a Chicago back alley that happens to match my thrifted dress #winning

my guest blogger 😉IMG_5334 IMG_4293

Wearing an all thrifted look. My friend Georgia, took my first blog photo’s.IMG_6984 IMG_4323My oldest peeking through – her idea!