Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!

25 12 2011
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To all my friends from this blog, Twitter, Facebook, or my travels along this road of life, I treasure you all. I’m sorry if I wind up not being able to acknowledge each and every one of you on a one-to-one level (although God knows I’m trying before Christmas turns into a pumpkin). Thank you for all the support you’ve shown me and my family over the past year. Thank you for laughing at my odd sense of humor and accepting all the craziness that is wrapped up in me. Thank you for those moments where I needed uplifting because I was so exhausted. Thank you for supporting me through my chronic health issues this year. Thank you for the radical honesty for the times when I’ve needed that. Thank you for encouraging me when I had self-doubt. I am blessed by your friendship more than you will ever know. Next to my family, you are the greatest gifts in my life and I will be remembering you on this day.

I intend to kick 2012’s ass. Perhaps it will kick mine. But it will be interesting whatever happens. It is comforting knowing that you will all be a part of that.

Love Languages

14 02 2011

During our 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have read many relationship books to help improve our marriage. One of the books that have had an exceedingly profound impact on our lives was “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. With Valentine’s Day here, I thought I would share what we learned.

Everyone has a love language; you may have a primary and a secondary. Many times, we will try to communicate our love to our partner based on our own love language and then we don’t understand why this person doesn’t feel loved by us. For example, my husband’s love languages are quality time and physical touch. For me, words of affirmation and acts of service are my love languages. When I buy him cards (which would be “words of affirmation–my love language), although he appreciates them, they don’t make him feel deeply loved. When we would quality time together, I was fulfilling his need, however, mine went unnutured. When he let me sleep late without me having to ask, or would tell me how proud he was of me for doing XYZ, my heart swelled. At that moment, I never felt more in love with my husband. That is how you can recognize the differences between the love languages.

My husband and me on our wedding day

My husband and me on our wedding day


After you read the book, you think to yourself, now that just seems too obvious, why didn’t I get this? Recognizing what your love language is and making an effort to do that every day are two very different things.

He also has a chapter for parents and their kids. You often hear parents saying, “I raised them exactly the same way and this one turned out differently from this one.” Likely the one who turned out well was the one whose love language was being met. Let’s say child 1 likes quality time and child 2 likes words of affirmation. If you spend quality time with both of them, child 1 is going to feel loved, but if you never say affirming words to child 2, they will appreciate the quality time, but won’t feel truly loved.

Love Language #1:  Words of Affirmation. These are verbal compliments or words of appreciation, like “You look sharp in that suit.” “You must be the best potato cook in the world. I love those potatoes.” These are encouraging words (how can I help?), kind words, and humble words. If this is your significant other’s language, then help improve your relationship by writing “Words are Important” as a reminder, writing down all the words of affirmation you gave to your spouse and then reviewing it at the end of the week to see how well you have done (or not). If you are clueless as to what to say look in the media and observe people in conversation and write down things people say. Write a love letter, paragraph, or sentence, compliment your significant other in the presence of parents or friends, look for your significant other’s strengths and tell him/her how much your appreciate those strengths, tell your children how great their mother/father is.

Love Language #2:  Quality Time. Go places together, do things together, sit quietly together (not necessarily together but at least in the same room). For example, a father sitting on the floor rolling a ball to his child, the focus is not on the ball, but the child. If the father, however, is talking on the phone, then his attention is diverted and this is not being together. It also can include quality conversation, sharing thoughts, feelings and desires without distractions. If this is your significant other’s language, some suggestions are to ride bikes together and go to a park and watch the ducks, roll on to the rose gardens, find out what each other’s favorites plants are and why. Surprise your significant other with an impromptu lunch, ask him/her what their favorite activity is and join her/him in this activity and learn more about it. Ask questions “Who was your best and worst teacher at school and why? and other questions like that. Have a picnic in the living room and talk like you did when you were dating.

Love Language #3:  Receiving Gifts. Gifts must be purchased, found or made. Some gifts are expensive, others are free. If this is your significant other’s language, you could stop along the roadside and pick a bouquet of wildflowers or you can make a card. There is also the gift of self.

Love Language #4: Acts of Service. This is when your significant other does things for you without having to be asked. If this is your significant other’s language, you should ask what four things that you could do that would make her/him feel loved. If they are within reason to you, then you should do them with joy and with love, not done out of fear, guilt or resentment.

Love Language #5: Physical Touch. This would include holding hands, kissing, embracing, etc. Obviously, if this is your loved one’s love language, you need to do more of it. However, the author cautions not to think that a desire to have sex means your love language is physical.

To help you figure out what they are, he says to ask yourself these questions:

1. What does your significant other do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply. The opposite of what hurts you is probably your love language.

2. What have you most often requested of your significant other? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

3. Finally, in what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.

What is/are your love language(s)?

Kinecting Times

3 01 2011

I have never played on a Nintendo Wii. We have been an XBox family for a very long time. This year, XBox unveiled their new technology, Kinect, formerly known as Project Natal.

With the combined monetary gifts for Patrick’s birthday and Christmas, we thought this might be an excellent gift for Patrick this year since he was playing on a Wii at school. If he needed to have a controller in his hand, we had many in the house for various other electronics we could substitute. With Patrick’s sensitivities to people touching him (because of his autism), it is going to be something that will take a long time to nurture.

Jeff got it all hooked up and played some games on his own. When I became available that day, and I got a taste of what this new toy was about, it was like catnip. It is now My Precious. The fierce competitor in me re-emerged, a part of me I haven’t seen since my high school days. I was playing to WIN; however, it sucked all the joy out of my husband’s playing. I said, “If you aren’t playing to win, then WHY BOTHER?” He said, “How about for the enjoyment?” I pondered that for the moment and quickly discarded it, “No. Playing to win IS my enjoyment.” Game after game, I played as if I were playing the games in real life. And game after game, I won.

Kinect Sports

Now this would not mean so much unless you knew that my husband works out 1-1/2 hours a day at the gym. Me? With my fibromyalgia and body pain as a result of increased intracranial pressure, I have to be very careful about my exercise. Sometimes I cannot even exercise aerobically because it increases my intracranial pressure. With the rush of adrenaline going through my body I was feeling JUST GREAT. However, by the next afternoon, my back was hurting me a tremendous amount. Then it dawned on me that my exercise was not virtual; it was quite real.

The second night, we played again, and I remained undefeated. After a valiant try and both of us working up a sweat as we volleyed the ball back and forth in table tennis, I won 15 to 13 (had to win by 2 and it was a very close game). We decided to try boxing. Having enjoyed immensely virtually shooting Jeff in Call of Duty Special Ops Deathmatch Split Screen a few nights previous to this, I knew this would be a treat. The bell rang. I knew I didn’t have endurance on my side, so I went balls out, as if I was fighting for my life. His avatar was on the ground. All I heard him saying was, “Huh, what?” His avatar got back up, the bell dinged, and in less than 30 seconds, I knocked him out in a TKO. He thought it was his avatar that was doing the damage to my avatar, but it was quite the reverse. I could barely breathe–but it was from my hysterical laughter and not my aerobic effort. I told him I had been watching too many James Bamford stunt moves–quick, fast, and deadly.

The people who created Kinect must have thought of every possible contingency. As my heel hit the front of the couch and I fell backwards, I did not realize I had a bowling ball in play. So when I got up, my arm went flying, as did my virtual bowling ball, flying into the virtual crowd, complete with screams and glass breaking. The commentators even had something to say about it. Once again, I found myself in a ball on the couch hysterically laughing. I am now awaiting my virtual lawsuit. It was that game, however, that broke my winning streak.

It was on to track and field for awhile where Jeff schooled me on the finer points of hurdles, javelin, discus throw, a 100-meter dash, and the long jump. The entire time I was whining about how unfair this match up was. My kryptonite. I suddenly longed for the days when I was 16 years old and running a 7-1/2-minute mile. Soccer turned into one, long arguing match. It reminded me a great deal of our times in Splinter Cell co-op or the previous Call of Duty games.

Last night, we decided to ease Patrick back into lesson number 2. He did better with the touching, and actually understood when I asked him to hold his arm up in the air, but by frame 5 of bowling, he started to cry. It broke my heart. Sometimes it is hard to tell when to push him for more and work through the tears and when he truly has had enough. He sat back down and enjoyed watching Jeff and I play. When I took a break on the couch, he came over, curled up in my lap and fell asleep.

On its way to my mailbox soon is Kinect Fitness. I’m looking forward to the yoga and tai chi programs.

Kinect Fitness

Kinect gets two thumbs up in my book. It is great not only for family fun and entertaining friends, but also for fitness, especially for those people, like me, who have gotten out of shape over the years.