Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Fred Chronicles

Carol is away. And guess who is privileged enough to take care of her itty-bitty, cuddly-wuddly Yorkie, Fred? Me! And my dear hubby, too. We've been having such a blast with this fur-ball! On Friday we took him to a cookout where he saw his long-lost friend, Boulder. Everyone raved about how cute Fred was, "he's so endearing!" and "I don't even like small dogs, but this little guy is so fun and adorable!"

On Saturday, we took him to another cookout with Brent's family.

He hung out with Brent's twin cousins, Brooke and Bridget.

And became the surrogate pet of the band, TelluRide. Brent's uncle, Jeff Catton, is their manager and they are in Minnesota playing some tunes. They're extremely nice guys who played baseball in the park with the cousins and roasted marshmallows outside with us. Check out the band:

Band member, Jimmy, became a huge Fred fan. He carried him around for most the night and threatened to trade Fred for his dog at home!

Don't worry, Carol, we brought him home in one piece. He was quite tuckered out, though. Be warned. You might have to pry him away from Brent's chest!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We Love the Rain

I (Anna) spent an extended Father's day weekend in NYC visiting my brother Mike and his wife Jill. New York has seen lots of rain this past month, some of which we were able to enjoy over the weekend. As astute readers may have noticed, Carol and I fittingly dedicated our second book, What Happy Parents Do, to our own parents. On the dedication page, I thanked my parents for teaching me to love the rain.

The little phrase, "we love the rain," holds significance to me and my family on many levels. We do, quite literally, love the rain. When it storms we often step out on my parents' huge front porch to take in the the beauty of lightning and sheets of rain. This love, however, is something we have learned through experiences. One in particular.

When I was a child we took a trip to Boston and went to a baseball game. It rained "cats and dogs." So, we ended up purchasing large, blue plastic ponchos to keep dry. Rather than allowing the rain to ruin one of our favorite "American pastimes" we created a song while stomping in the puddles: "We love the rain!" (sung in a clever/unique tune, sung over and over again). As newer family members join and hear this story, they ask: "Where are all the lyrics?" My sister-in-law, Jill, and 3 year old nephew, Jacob, have attempted some very fine lyrics; we're hoping to add them to our legendary song. Soon.

On another level, we believe "loving the rain" is the equivalent to embracing life for all it offers. The good. Bad. Sad. Fun. Ugly. Tragic. Beautiful. Wet!

We love the rain, indeed.

Happy belated father's day.


It's something I (Anna) depend upon for survival. Especially while I'm working. It's 1,000% more effective than caffeine, I'll tell you that much. There's just something about the energy derived from people focused on similar goals. Synergy is one of the many reasons I adore my friends from the University of Kentucky and the experiences we shared together. And I can't help but find myself yearning for my fellow "synergists" from Kentucky. We'd find our spot in the library (one of my favorite places on earth) and work, work, work. And somehow we'd laugh, laugh, laugh our way to productivity. Check out my darling friends, Rachel and Shades, discussing a paper idea in William T. Young library.

And me. And Kelley. And my unpictured but not forgotten UK besties.

These days I'm craving synergy like I usually crave chocolate. Thank goodness for Carol! The energy she feeds me is priceless and unstoppable. I'm also reminding myself that marriages are also a perfect place to ignite some synergy. As John Gottman has found in his brilliant research on healthy and happy marriage, positivity begets more positivity. That's synergy, folks! And I'm on my way to finding more as I continue my transition back to Minneapolis.

Happy Wife, Happy Life

That's a direct quote from my buddy Tim, uttered earlier tonight. My utterly honest response? "You are one smart man, my friend."

But what I was really thinking (yes, Tim, you are an incredibly brilliant guy. But I was reflecting more broadly ...) about how happy couples seem to be those in which each person is making sure the other person is happy. First. And finally. And often. And sincerely. In big ways and mundane ways. And not all the time, but as a matter of principle. "Happy you, happy me." Doesn't that just seem right?

Lest we forget how building up another comes immediately back to us (and usually many fold), keep this in mind: it is only through interaction that we come to know and create ourselves. Our most basic sense of worth (dare we say happiness) is, as human beings, only as great as the happiness of those significant others around us. It's all one big fat exchange (of emotions, notions, and actions).

Kind of fun to consider how this works in our daily lives, eh? Like when it's time to empty the dishwasher. Or celebrate a birthday. Or adopt a dog named Ellie from the Minneapolis Humane Society.

Ellie! She was the inspiration for Tim's "happy life" comment this evening. Because my BFF Molly and her two kiddos found the most perfect little pooch for their perfect little lives today at the Humane Society. She had a powerful "take me home right now I'm so adorable and well-trained and have the biggest blackest nose and the sweetest pinkest tongue that will greet you with kisses every single day of your amazing life please take me home with you, please, please, please, I'm very perfect" quality.

Tim, we know you have said "no dog." But just one more word and I'll shut up: "In a deep and profound way, if Ellie will really make Molly happy, you know you will be happier too. And, as a bonus, all of that happiness will stir up an awesome centrifugal force of happy people in your life. And as an engineer, you know how cool centrifugal forces are: they get energy from themselves! Self-sustaining. What a beautiful thing (especially when it's about good feelings and happy couples ... and the most adorable non-shedding, already-trained, perfectly sized, rescue dog ever)."

For the rest of us, all of this raises a central/ifugal question: What have I done to make life for my partner a little happier today?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Shower Season

My friend, Tara, sent me the following email:

Hi Anna.

I was just looking at my friend's baby shower pics on Facebook and look what I spotted as a gift?!?! :)

Yes, that's right. It's our own baby What Happy Parents Do being joyfully gifted to the mom-to-be. I can't help but wonder which story it is they're laughing about. I suspect "Naked Dinners."

Thanks and congratulations to Karin Kish, the guest of honor!