Sunday, March 30, 2008

Giddy and Quippy

Well, I (Carol) love celebrating others' birthdays. Especially my kids. And although I've implemented a rather-new "no-birthday-party" rule at our house (no "over the top" birthday parties for us anymore), we have been sustaining (with great effort, you're about to learn) the "birthday week" ritual at our house.

Birthday week consists of the birthday girl/boy/man/woman receiving a solid 7 days of adoring treatment. Surprises. Dinners. Treats. Compliments. Bed making. Friends over. Notes. Signs. Singing telegrams. Funny voice mails. Pet-visits to school. All that and more. Problem is, each year I try to out-do myself, coming up with the most creative, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly, yet still inspiring and delightful surprise(s) for the birthday-week receiver.

Window paint! I thought I had stumbled upon this year's simple-little surprise. But not on the windows at home; we already had constructed and hung the yearly hand-made sign facing streetward for all our loving neighbors to see. I planned on painting the windows of the car. Even better! A sign on wheels.

All it took was a quick stop at Hobby Lobby, $6.78, and I was on my way. I felt giddy applying the quippy sayings to the front and sides of our station wagon, driving in the much-welcome sunshine of our first spring-like day in Minnesota to my daughter's school. I then sat eagerly as my birthday girl came skipping down the sidewalk with her best friend Celie.

They both stared at the car. Celie smiled wide and giggled. Gracie, however, walked around the car slowly. Glancing without expression at my handwritten flowers, puffy number 8's, and exclamations of how great it is to be 8! I was announcing to the entire city that Gracie is having a birthday. That 8 is SO GREAT! Isn't it?

But she didn't appear to think my surprise (something I had thought for sure would become a new ritual in our family) was all that great. Hmmmm. I was not phased. She was so delighted, I assured myself, that she wasn't sure how to express herself. That must be it.

Fast forward to our bedtime snuggle; mom and birthday girl cozied up for our nighttime chat: "Did you like the car-painting today? Were you surprised?!" "I did," my little Gracie responded with the similar veiled enthusiasm I sensed earlier. "Except it was kind of embarrassing."

Yikes! My 8 year old - literally over night - transformed from "EVERYONE - LOOK AT ME!" to "DON'T LOOK NOW - MY MOM IS EMBARRASSING ME!" She finally uttered those famous words. Ones that I expected to hear some day, but not for about 4 more years. Embarrassed! I've succeed at embarrassing my little darling.

Darn it. And I hadn't even tried.

Oh well. At least I still have some leftover window paints, so when my soon-to-be-12-year-old (boy!) has birthday week, I can "try" not to "embarrass" him too painfully (by sprawling some of the other quippy birthday sayings that wouldn't fit onto my car's windows this week). Stay tuned; his big week is at the end of May.

Anna was at B&N this afternoon ...

and took this photo.

Yes, it's our little baby, snuggling up to a book we actually looked to for inspiration when in the process of birthing our own (the orange one on the left: Live the Life You Love).

Why NOT live the life you love? As I am oft heard saying to my students: "You're going to be somewhere in 10 years; why not be where you want to be?" Over 10 years ago I began dreaming of a book just like What Happy Couples Do. Really. And then I found Anna. And then Anna and I found Steve Deger. It's been such a joyful process.

Speaking of process: More soon on the birth process of our second baby (What Happy Parents Do). She's off to the printers in 2 days ...!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh, and while you're at it ...

.... read the comments posted by two VERY smart women under NOTE THE GOOD (a post about 4 before this one).

Simply inspiring.

Thanks for sharing, blog-readers!

Happy Couples Make Change

Think about it:

Being a long-term, happy couple - whatever your age, stage, or relationship status - requires that you adjust. Adapt. Acquire a sensibility for flexibility. And when things aren't going well, you MAKE sure they change. For the better.

Many happy couples also use their strength as a twosome to make change in the world around them. They combine their efforts and goodwill to mentor others. Serve others. Be with others when they most need a boost.

In the next few days, we'll share a few stories of couples who have - through their loving little rituals - found ways to make change in and around their relationships.

In the meantime, identify what you can DO to make even a tiny change in your own marriage. Such as: Say thank you. Fold the laundry WOBA (without being asked). Call unexpectedly. Point out how much you love his toes.

Positive change is contagious. Infect your relationship with a little right now!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Best Thing About Being an Academic?

Spring Break!

We're on it.

We're enjoying it.

And we are, while catching up on sleep and going to matinees, appreciating our meager salaries. A week off in the middle of March: It's priceless!

And even though we're not spending the week tanning (amen). Or traveling (who needs the added stress of crowded beaches and sidewalk cafes?) We are doing a (very tiny) bit of touring to further promote What Happy Couples Do: Carol's hometown coffee shop, Books & Brew in Milton, Wisconsin is hosting a book signing on Saturday. Come one. Come all, Milton-ites! If not for the book, come on over for some brew.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Fred.

Yes, I (Carol) am a dog lover ... a very newly discovered and rather shocking (to all of my closest friends and colleagues) part of my personality.

As many of you know, we adopted Fred, the sweetest little guy, about 8 months ago. And he turned one yesterday. We sang. Made him doggie-cup cakes. And had his brother Romeo (who lives right across the street) over for a party. But since they were too busy trying to pee on things and jump for joy, I could only capture the photo of Fred. Photos of Romeo (yes, he's got a big red heart dog tag) will be posted soon.

Happy Birthday, dear Fred!

Clean Car, Dirty Words

We just received a submission on our website about a really creative - and beautifully metaphorical - family ritual submitted anonymously by a mom of two kids. It is a must-share!

The mom explains that when her children were at the age where they were starting to pick up on swear words, she had a brilliant idea one day as she was waiting in line for the car wash, kids happily buckled in the back seat. She instructed her kids: As soon as we're in the car wash, you can spout and shout out as many swear words as you wish! But when we emerge, there is no swearing. Ever (until our next wash).

At first, she writes, the kids were dead silent in the back seat, likely wondering if she was serious or not. Then, to her delight, one of them tried out a rather mild word. No reaction from mom. Quickly, each kid began saying as many swear words as he or she knew. But it all stopped once the water stopped and the door to the wash lifted.

To this day, this family uses the car wash as a safe time, place, and space to cleanse themselves of all the bad words they might like to say at other times!

Creative, practical, and proactive, don't you agree?

And yet another reasons for getting that car of yours nice and shiny clean ....

Friday, March 7, 2008

Note The Good

Although maybe not true in your marriage or partnership, many of us tend to only note what's wrong: With how the dishes are stacked, the shirts folded, the car parked, the bed (un)made, or the lunches packed.

Consider how your relationship would feel if you decided to "Note The Good."

How? Write a note in which you point out a "good." Recognize something done right. Acknowledge a small task done well (or just done at all). Or simply say something good out loud: "Thanks for picking up your socks" ... "For coming home a little early" ... "for being positive with the kids" ... "for being a great pal."

So simple. Yet so powerful when all of us are so rushed that we usually only find time to note the bad.

Try it. And then tell us the results.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Smart Women" Woman

If you're a smart and socially-conscious woman, you've surely heard of Smart Women Company ( SO COOL! Check out their products. Their passion. Their philosophy. It's not only smart, not only green, not only grounded .. it's all of that X500!

So, why are we writing about Smart Women Co? For all of the X500 reasons above + 1: Last week, we had the chance to not only sit down at our favorite local Coffee Bene with Julie Hellwich, founder and president of Smart Women Company, but to also start discussions about a little project together. What? Do tell? Huh?!?!? ...

Sorry. Cannot say yet. But stay tuned (especially if you're a smart man, woman, or couple).