Monday, January 31, 2011

Marriage Monday: Laugh Some More (Men's Brain Women's Brain)

A couple years ago we were visiting my parents house and my dad and mom couldn't stop talking about this fun show they'd just gotten. They brought it up several times over the course of the evening so before we left we made sure to start watching it. We enjoyed it so much we've watched the entire series a few times (4 discs worth, so thats saying something).

Today I'm sharing with you an excerpt of Mark Gungor's Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage Seminar.

I share this video for a few reasons
  1. It's Monday and you probably need a laugh.
  2. Life is better when you laugh.
  3. Marriage is better when you laugh together.
  4. He's got some interesting points that are valid.

Did you catch yourself nodding your head?
Does any of this ring true with you?

This video is from Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage Seminar by Mark Gungor
You can find more information and see a few other videos on his website Laugh Your Way

Find my other Marriage Monday posts here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Club: Matched (special guest Ally Condie)

For book club this month we did Ally Condie's latest book MATCHED so of course we had to do a lot of bright green. My book club is infamous for going all out. It's in the details people. Sure we've had our fair share of meet ups where we dont decorate but it really packs a punch when we do!

Jenni and I planned the evening and I was so thrilled with how it all turned out (when everyone's things came together) --how similar it was to what I saw in my head. The tin plates, the dessert buffet, the pills, the posters (100 poems, 100 music), the balloons. It was great. We tried to pull a lot of things from the book so if you've read it you'll hopefully see/understand where we were going.

The wonderful gals in my writing group.

Again, from the book we tried to replicate the scene with Cassia's grandpa.

I want you all to appreciate the lovely colors of our 'pills'. I made my mom go to a specific store to get just the right color jelly bellys (but I forget to tell her to go bright and not dark) so then I had to go to two other stores to find just the right ones. But aren't they lovely? Everyone was sent home with their own capsule of pills and a poem and a compass (courtesy of Shauna).

Our very own Fancy Nancy got us all one of these beautys. It was like Christmas morning all wrapped up and beautiful and we all had to wait and open it together. Now we can all have our own compact just like Cassia.

We asked everyone to bring a momento to share and went around the room telling why we chose the item we brought. It was interesting to see the items and hear everyone's stories.

My book group lovelies! We've been meeting together now for over 3 years!

Did you see the beautiful miss Ally Condie in there?

She was so sweet to come play with us and let us ask her all sorts of questions. I seriously adore this woman. And every time I learn more about her I like her more!

You can see our other party with Ally when we had her come out for Freshman for President about 2 years ago.

(Thanks Rachel and Jenni for the pictures. I brought my tripod but forgot my camera, cause I' cool like that. *insert eye roll here*)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Colors make all the difference

Two fun tricks I learned from visiting preschool with my kids over the years.

1. Colored Milk is fun
2. A 2 Cup measuring cup is perfect for letting small kids practice pouring. We use these at dinner all the time!

One of my kids only likes to drink crystal light or juice (which I don't let them do too often) and it always amazes me that just making milk fun makes her willing to drink it.

Plus of course it's fun to match the holidays or have a 'color day' complete with matching clothes, games and food! And the kids all love when they get to pick the color!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marriage Monday: Percentages

I can't remember where I heard this piece of advice but it's a favorite of my husbands and mine as it helps clear up one of those blurry areas in communication. The idea is simple. And hopefully so is the practice.

Here's the gist of the idea.

You want to go out on a date this weekend but neither one of you have a real idea of what to do so one of you throws out the idea "we could go mini golfing".

Even though neither one of you want to go, you think the other one does so you both agree thinking it's for the others benefit. While this isn't a bad thing obviously it does save us from some of those times when really neither one of us would enjoy it.

When we can sense this is happening one of us will throw out, 'ok well I'm only interested about 40%. You know I dont mind going but it's not my top choice.' And either they want to go more like say 80% or they too dont really care and assign it something like, 'yah I'm 50% probably.' This is just a fun way to get a clearer picture of what you're both really thinking or feeling and can help make better informed decisions. This works for many things. Furniture shopping, spending money, date ideas, etc.

What do you think? Can you see this being useful to you?

*You can find other Marriage Monday here.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Mawbooks is hosting a fun event called bloggiesta featuring the fun mascot Pedro.

Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize.

The idea is to spend a few days working on your blog (cleaning it up, organizing it, planning future posts, etc). She's got mini challenges set up, helpful information, RSS feeds to meet the other bloggers participating, and of course if you're on twitter you can join in on the hashtag #bloggiesta to see what other folks are doing.

If you're interested in participating, it's not too late. This is going on from Friday January 21-Sunday 23 and you can sign up anytime (hop on over to Maw Books Blog Bloggiesta post for the details).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Five Year Olds Meow (or Rock!)

Today is my daughters 5th birthday! She's my sweet, peacemaker, concerned about others, always the first to say, "thank you for this delicious dinner mother", middle child (I only mention this because I easily see the oldest/youngest thing but I'm still figuring out the middle child thing).

This morning I went to preschool with her where she got wonderful attention with all her 'special day' privileges (she got to bring a toy for show and tell, wear special badges, ring the bell for recess and a few other things).

After school we had her friend birthday party. She chose a Hello Kitty party so I set to work trying to find some fun ideas. I got two cat dishes for table decorations and filled them with goldfish and swedish fish for the girls to eat. We also picked up some new headbands and hair bands for the girls to have kitty cat collars and we made cat ears (I cut out black triangles the night before). We played cat, cat, dog and played pin the nose on the cat. We also had a bunch of our stuffed animals seated on the couch when the guests arrived. They each got to choose one and later we played 'vet' and the kids all got to take their animals to the doctor. They all got a turn using all the fun tools.

My sweet 5 year old! After she chose the theme my mom happened (searched and searched) to find this outfit for her birthday. She was THRILLED to open this as her first gift. I made her cake and I was happy it turned out decent. And as a small side note for the next three months exactly my kids will all sound two years apart (7, 5, 3).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marriage Monday: Conscious Responsibility

I was first introduced to the works of Dr. Neil Clark Warren when my professor invited us to earn a bundle of points in his class. We had a list of items and had to choose several to earn our points. One of them was to tune-in to a the weekly radio show he then contributed to. (You may recognize his name or face now though as the creator of eHarmony.)

I'd like to share with you a few excerpts from one of his books that I think holds such a key message!

". . . when the Los Angeles Rams football team lost to the Chicago Bears in the National Football League playoffs, Coach John Robinson took all the blame.
'The reason we lost,' he said, 'is because I was never able to communicate to the team a vision of our winning. And without a vision of being able to do something, you can't do anything.'
Just like football teams, when spouses do not have a vision, they risk losing--and losing at something far more important than a game.
On the other hand, what an enormous qualitative difference it makes for two lovers to dream together about their marriage! Too often, people 'wander into' this high-requirement game of marriage with a totally inadequate dream. Without this kind of guiding vision, they become easy targets for disappointment, temptation, conflict, boredom, and confusion."

There is a reason that in business people are always creating and updating their 5 year/10 year plan. Or in weight loss it's been proven that those who write down their goals will loose more weight than those who don't.

Why not apply these principles to marriage? Talk with your spouse about what your marriage will be like in the future. Where would you like to live? What would you like to be doing? How will your spirituality increase? How can you serve more? How will your parenting change? What can I improve on? What can we improve on? (It is good to do this every year as obviously we change, our circumstances change, our kids grow, etc. and we must refocus and create newer, updated visions.)

He adds,
"Dreams and visions stimulate the brain and mobilize the action centers. Whatever it is that you dream about with regularity, you will begin to hope for. Hope stimulates planning. Planning produces behavior designed to move you forward. This brings progress. It all begins with a dream!"
Such a good reminder. I love the lines 'stimulate the brain' and 'mobilize the action centers'.

Then later he says,
"Every couple needs to take conscious responsibility for choosing the course their marriage will follow."
That one is worth reading again! Seriously, I'll wait. Go read it again.

Conscious responsibility. Our days are going to continue to happen whether we're proactive or not. Life can just pass us by or we can enjoy it and be happy by being conscious of our future and being active in what happens to us.

There is so much goodness in this one chapter alone, just imagine the rest of his book. I can't urge you all enough to look into getting a hold of any of the books I've talked about and read them in their entirety.

*All quotes in this post come from Learning to Live With the Love of Your Life. . . And Loving It! by Neil Clark Warren, Ph.D.
*Images found using Google Images.

If you're interested in reading more Marriage Monday posts, click here. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our perfect gifts.

We celebrated our 9 year anniversary on Monday, 1-10-11. It was awesome!

Hubby has night school so we were able to take a lunch date (with the kids, and it was fun!). Plus this year we both totally nailed the gift portion of the day.

He got me Boy Meets World season 4 (I've been waiting a looong time for this to come out) and I got him Futurama Volume 5. We were both totally surprised so that was fun!

You can read last years post and find out why we were eating a hamburger before we cut our cake.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Marriage Monday: Positive Moments

A big part of my studies in school involved a lot more than sitting in a classroom listening to lecture after lecture. In fact one specific professor of mine encouraged us to find a handful of books on relationship topics that interested us most, purchase them to always have in our home library and study them often. He told us that because of the field we'd chosen to study, when people found out what our degree was in they'd inevitably have stories and questions for us.

I quickly discovered as I read through a handful of my books that I generally favored the research, findings, style and advice of one more than the others. One of my most favorite experts in the field of marriage and relationships is Dr. John Gottman. He says,

"A lasting marriage results from a couple's ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship." 1
Whether you're argument style is on one side of the pendulum or the other (couples who are generally calm and compromise vs those who erupt in passionate disputes) his point is that it's not the fighting that is going to cause problems it's the way we can resolve the conflicts that can increase or damage our relationship.

Then he adds,
". . .I believe we grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That's how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage."2

So with the knowledge that arguments are going to happen, negativity is going to creep into our relationships, and life is going to be hard, in his research Dr. Gottman found,

"You must have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together if your marriage is to be stable."3

What are some positive interactions you can think of?
(Please share with us in the comments!)
Or situations when you've given or received a memorable positive encounter?

While many of these things may come naturally and without much effort for some it may take getting back into the habit or increasing the ratio. May I suggest being vigilant in this? Perhaps to even help yourself get into the habit and try to remember constantly to do this maybe prepare a list (don't worry it may only take one time for this to sink in) the day before of things you'd like to try (realize this positive/negative ratio also works with our children, parents, roommates, etc).

For example my list could be:
  1. Leave a note where my spouse will see it during the day when we're apart (on the front seat of his car, on the bathroom mirror with dry erase marker, a sticky note on his computer).
  2. Before we part ways for the day we'll share at least one kiss and hug.
  3. While we're away I'll do at least one thing (if you already have an idea write it down) to show my spouse I thought of him.
  4. Encourage him or check in (I know my spouse has a big day/appt/todo list. I'll call him at 3pm to see how it all went).
  5. During dinner I'll thank my spouse for their hard work today with ____.
  6. Plan some time for your spouse to enjoy something they want. "I'll put the kids to bed tonight, why dont you sit down and read for a while."
  7. Plan something fun to do together. "After the kids go to bed I thought it'd be fun to___ play this game/watch this movie together."
  8. Before we go to sleep I'm going to ask my spouse how his day was and listen with interest.

I love the way he sums this up.
"Like the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that in closed enery systems things tend to run down and get less orderly, the same seems to be true of closed relationships like marriages. My guess is that if you do nothing to make things get better in your marriage but do not do anything wrong, the marriage will still tend to get worse over time. To maintain a balanced emotional ecology you need to make an effort --think about your spouse during the day, think about how to make a good thing even better, and act."4

1-4 Cited quotes are are from Why marriages Succeed or Fail . . . And How YOU Can Make Yours Last by John Gottman, PhD.

You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.

*Photos in this post were found using google images.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What I read last year:

Oh how I love to read. And what's even more fun is being involved in the book reading community with other big readers and fabulous authors and all the fun events (especially the great ones held here in Utah).

I love Goodreads (where more friends and authors are) and Shelfari (I like the visual 'shelf' look of it better) because they help keep track of what I read. I can also see what my friends are reading or wanting to read and easily add it to my "to read" shelf so I dont forget later when I'm looking for another great book.

I update my Goodreads account (more often then Shelfari) so if you're interested in my ratings and reviews or lists of books you can find them all there. You can find me as Debbie Cranberryfries.

In order from most recently read (in Dec 2010) to what I started the year off with (in Jan 2010).

*Utah Authors

  1. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
  2. Wither (Chemical Garden, #1) by Lauren DeStefano
  3. Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare
  4. *Welcome to Stalk Lake City by Sheralyn Pratt
  5. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
  6. *City of Angels (The Rhea Jensen Series, #1) by Sheralyn Pratt
  7. Defensive Tactics by Steve Westover
  8. *Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
  9. Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1) by Kiersten White
  10. *The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith
  11. *Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
  12. *The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby
  13. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins
  14. *Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie
  15. Spells (Wings, #2) by Aprilynne Pike
  16. White Cat (Curse Workers, #1) by Holly Black
  17. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
  18. *The Loser's Guide to Life and Love: A Novel by A.E. Cannon
  19. *Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
  20. Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
  21. Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5) by Richelle Mead
  22. *Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, #4) by Brandon Mull
  23. *Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven, #3) by Brandon Mull
  24. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
  25. The Diamonds by Ted Michael
  26. *Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
  27. Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1) by Becca Fitzpatrick
  28. Wings (Wings, #1) by Aprilynne Pike
  29. *The Hourglass Door (Hourglass Door Trilogy, #1) by Lisa Mangum
  30. Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4) by Richelle Mead
  31. *The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen
  32. Mouth To Mouth by Erin McCarthy
  33. Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3) by Richelle Mead
  34. Sarah's Quilt: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906 by Nancy E. Turner
  35. What the Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie
  36. Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars, #1) by Sara Shepard
  37. Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2) by Richelle Mead
  38. *My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
  39. Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) by Richelle Mead
  40. *Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter
  41. *Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell
  42. *Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston
  43. *Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden
  44. *Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon
  45. *Dangerous Connections by Julie Coulter Bellon
  46. *Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven, #2) by Brandon Mull
  47. *Being Sixteen by Ally Condie
  48. City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare
  49. *By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager
  50. City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare
  51. City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2) by Cassandra Clare
  52. *Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley
  53. *The Journal of Curious Letters (The 13th Reality, #1) by James Dashner
  54. *Lemon Tart (Culinary Mystery, #1) by Josi S. Kilpack
  55. Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris
  56. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson
  57. Airhead (Airhead, #1) by Meg Cabot

What was your favorite book you read last year?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Marriage Monday: Mutual Toleration

When I first headed off to college I started studying for my degree in Marriage and Family studies I thought the only route to take was continuing on to be a therapist. After taking a couple of intro therapy classes I decided if I were to make it my lifelong education I just wouldn't be happy dealing with so much negativity all day. (*While it wasn't the right study area for me, I still feel like it's an incredible profession and one that I think more consumers should take advantage of.)

Luckily for me I had awesome professors and classes that I enjoyed and I found instead some fun research based studies to participate in and decided to steer my studies towards a Marriage Enrichment focus.

The other day I was admiring my shelfs of wonderful books and material on marriage education and thought it'd be fun to share what I'm passionate about with all of you. It may or may not be occurring once a week.

So . . . introducing my very own Marriage Monday. To start us off here is a great quote.

"There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks, to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and ravishing wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear, the divorce courts are jammed.

Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .

Life is like an old-time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

--Jenkin Lloyd Jones, newspaper columnist

I love this quote and hope that it reminds us of the positives more than negatives.
I hope that it helps us understand that it's a choice (yours to be specific) to be happy and experience the joy in life (in marriage, in your job, in your friendships, in your family).
I hope that it reminds us all to be grateful for what we do have.
I hope that it inspires us to want to strive for that higher degree of mutual toleration.

What are your thoughts about what Jenkin Lloyd Jones had to say?

You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.