Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How do you "say" I love you?

Many of the ritual stories we receive reveal adorable expressions of couples, kids, parents, grandparents, sisters, uncles, and best friends who find creative, private, and/or unique ways of saying "I like you." "I love you." and/or "I'm glad you're in my life."

How do you "say" as much to someone special in your life? Do you surprise your spouse by filling up her gas tank on a frigid winter day? Do you leave loving little notes by the coffee pot? Maybe you bake your best friend a batch of gooey monster cookies -- for no particular reason? Or send your college-aged kid a care package overflowing with peanut M&Ms, his cherished childhood treat? Or have a saying, word, or hand gesture that privately means "I love you" .. an expression just between the two of you?

Do tell! These are kinds of small but significant rituals in all of our lives ... and we'd love to hear about yours!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A China-Free Challenge

The Bruess family recently participated in a China-Free Challenge. What's that? Check out the video.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bad Dreams, Najla, and Caramel Corn

Anna and I just returned from a few days in Chicago (yes, we drove by Oprah's studio ... still waiting for her to call!) attending the national communication association conference. Besides taking in a few new theories, networking with a bunch of other people who talk and teach about talking, and presenting a few papers ourselves (about rituals and marriage, of course ... as well as about teaching courses in family and interpersonal communication), the best part of the trip was meeting, eating with, and sipping a few chocolate martinis with my new friend Najla (one of Anna's best graduate school friends!) Okay, so can you get any more charming than Najla? No. Can you get any smarter? No chance. Can you be any funnier or more down-to-earth? No way. The mother of 4 boys (sainthood, anyone?), Najla is a funny and witty conversationalist, super smart (did I already say that?), and -- our favorite quality about her -- real. Yep, she's a real, soulful person.

Here are the other highlights (and lowlights) of the conference. You decide which are which:

* A guy on the elevator at the Hilton is so interested in What Happy Couples Do (Anna happened to be holding a copy) that he refuses to get off on his floor and continues to ride the elevator up to ours ("I'll just take another ride back down...") to hear more about it!
* Anna gets caramel corn -- Carol's most favorite food in the world -- from the most famous caramel corn maker in the world (Garrett's) but eats it all before she returns! What?!
* Chicago style pizza.
* Carol (why am I disclosing this?) has a really bad dream and wakes up Najla and Anna at 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning with -- as they report -- a 3-tiered scream that sounded much like a bad voice lesson.
* $8 bowls of oatmeal
* Seeing old graduate school friends (... is that a highlight or lowlight?)
* Hotels with 2 bathrooms per room.
* Mark Orbe (you continue to energize me with your vision!)
* Chocolate Martinis (yes, they are worth mentioning twice).
* Oxford University Press (gotta love Peter).
* Rich West and Lynn Turner (please stop writing such brilliant and engaging textbooks ... so Orbe and Bruess will sell more copies!)
* Big & ugly blue name badges (with zippers that hold lip gloss and cell phones, at the same time).
* A conference program that you would easily mistake for a chemistry textbook. Who makes 6 lb programs? Better question: Who reads them?

If I disclose any more, I might get in trouble. Happy Day of Giving Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Pretty (Cool) Pram ...

... graces the cover of our next book (What Happy Parents Do: The Loving Little Rituals of a Childproof Marriage)! And who is pushing the pram? Wait until you see! It's adorable. Loving. Happy. In this one image the artist captures "what happy parents do" with simplicity and complexity in this luscious design. And do you know who's responsible? Yep, it's Steve (our editor, for those of you new to this blog).

For those who aren't new to our blog posts, do you think we blog too much about our editor, Steve Deger? If so, oh well. We love him. He, once again, deserves a big happy hug for commissioning and directing the original art (and being patient with our chase for just the right color scheme, only to come back to the ones he first proposed) for the next cover. If anyone knows how to shriek via e-mail, it's Anna and me (in response to Steve's latest good news and/or great ideas!) And indeed, he's done it again. Can't wait to show you the insides (and outsides) of book #2 (which we'll post on our website soon. So stay tuned)!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Carol!

For 39 years, the world has benefitted from Carol's amazing ways. And today, on her birthday, I've (Anna) got to publicly state: Carol, you're the best!

Carol has made many lives (especially mine!) more joyful, peaceful, meaningful, organized, and simply better. Nearly every day I'm compelled to say, "How does she do it?" while watching her as a mom, wife, professor, researcher, colleague, co-author, friend, athlete, seamstress, card designer, photographer, and cookie baker! Who else can successfully fulfill all of these roles with such grace and style? Carol, everyone would agree, you're something else. Enjoy your birthday!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tay-Tay Wompy and BillyBob Barefoot

What a hoot! Students in my (Carol's) Family Communication course the other day went around and shared their nicknames (those loving terms of endearment bestowed by or on family members, friends, and significant others). We were discussing the way private language -- everything from those quirky nicknames to those phrases that have meaning just between friends and intimates -- serves incredibly important functions in relationships. And, to almost no one's surprise, we discovered that most of us take these terms, names, and creations for granted.

We also discovered that students in our class possess some incredibly creative nicknames, such as:

BillyBob Barefoot, Brown Sound, Keebs, Crisco, Schnitzle, Sr. Rantz Alot, Itty Bitty, Light-els, Shellyn, Twiglet, Pancakes, Scout, Shreck, Annie Margo, Taylor Womp Womp (or Tay-Tay Wompy), Buddah, and Blade of Grass. Others shared the wacky and intriguing details of a completely private language between friends (they call it their "Choo" language), using the term "oodabotchie" when rough-housing needs to end, and employing two claps followed by a stomp (of the foot) to indicate an attractive guy is near (!)

What a hoot, eh?

Take a moment to share (via "comment" below or "share your stories" on our main website) your nickname(s), private codes, and/or personalized ways of communicating. Don't worry, it's anonymous!