March 29, 2009

The 5 Love Languages

If you want a great book to read about relationships, read: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

My sister Beckie gave me this book to read when I first go married and I loved it. I could not put it down. Basically the book helps you realize that, like many things in a marriage, you and your spouse have different ways of loving and expressing that love. Here are the what the author identifies as "The Five Love Languages":

• Words of Affirmation
Positive talk, compliments, hopeful words, affirmations, pleasant tone and conversations, etc.

• Quality Time
Trips, vacations, focused attention, eye to eye communication.

• Receiving Gifts
Flowers, services, etc.

• Acts of Service
Cleaning house, door opening, caring for children, taking out the garbage.

• Physical Touch
Hand holding, intimacy, back rubs, affection.

Now that Nick and I understand what category we fall into, it has helped out immensely with Birthdays, Anniversary's and especially with just the day-day dynamics of a marriage.

Nick is definitely in the giving gifts or acts of service category of both showing his love and receiving it. Every birthday or Christmas he wants me to give him of list things I want, and for a while I had to always tell him that I didn't care about gifts as much as I did about a heartfelt card. Also, Nick likes me to show him that I love him by having a clean house or making him his favorite meal or dessert. And even though now I am well aware of his love language, I still struggle with meeting his needs. Keeping the house clean is not a problem. I enjoy having a tidy home. But cooking is a whole different story. Not only do I not enjoy cooking, but Nick is an extremely picky eater (my whole family can vouch for that) so it completely quenches any desire for me to cook.

My love language is definitely words of affirmation, quality time, with a dash of physical touch. I love to talk, I crave praise or recognition after a hard day with Toby, and I really enjoy spending some quality time with Nick. The physical touch part is kind of a funny aspect in our marriage. I love to hug and rest my head on his chest when we're watching a movie, but that is pretty much the extent of our affection. Nick has never been the lovey-dovey type, especially in public. We rarely hold hands or kiss around other people. Even when we were newly weds you would never catch us in a bear hug or scratching each other backs in Sacrament meeting. Thats just how we are, and we're both comfortable and content with it. Nick has come a long ways in speaking my love language. As I said before, he use to want to shower me with gifts and give me a Hallmark signed, "love, Nick" but now knows that a thought-out letter or card is much more meaningful and appreciated.

We are both "works in progress" but the fact that we are aware of what makes the other person feel loved and valued has really added so much more meaning and happiness to our relationship.

I got this outline of "The Five Love Languages"off of a morning show's website that was spotlighting the book. I thought they were quite sobering and applicable. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

1. Everyone wants to be loved differently.

Through our upbringing we have learned how to be loved in different ways. The frustration comes because we think if they loved me, they would obviously love me my way. A great way to figure out how your partner wants to be loved is to see what they complain about most?

2. We tend to love others the way we want to be loved not the way they want to be loved.

One of disconnects that couples have is that we're always serving each other the way we want to be served. So we're always acting and never receiving our love. If you're always looking for cookies and your partner always serves cake, than odds are you're both going to be disappointed, both the giver who serving and receiver who "never gets what they want." We think that our partner "never" does anything for us. Really they do a lot for you but it's all in the wrong language so you don't understand what they're saying.

3. Remember the recipient always determines if they've been loved or not.

To love someone their way means they've got to see they are being loved…it's not just enough that you did something…they have to receive it as love. Make sure you're noticing the love that your partner is trying to do.

4. Learn to love your partner their way.

Identify how your partner most wants to be loved. Do the daily special…"What's the most important thing I can do today to love my partner their way?" Set a goal and offer the daily special - one thing you can do for your spouse each day to make them feel special. Learn more ways to do the same thing. Just because your partner wants more touch doesn't mean you always have to have intimacy. There are 1000 ways to touch someone. Learn how you like to be loved by ranking. Have a conversation with your partner about your different styles so you understand theirs. Love them regardless of their mood circumstance or event. Don't feed them just to be fed, feed them because it's just right.

March 12, 2009

My first year of motherhood

Thinking back through Toby's first year of life is both emotional and rewarding. I don't think anything, anything could have prepared me for the wondrous and challenging calling of motherhood. While perusing through a handful of baby pictures of Toby drooling and bursting with chub, I smiled as I reflected on some of the little things I would miss, and not miss, during our first year together. I felt like the best way to describe it would be to do a little bio on Toby:

Every woman dreams of having the perfect baby. The baby that sleeps all the time, doesn't get upset easily, smiles at everyone who holds him, and is easy to tote anywhere. Well, I am proud to say that I did get the perfect baby.... just not in the way I was expecting.

I should have known from the beginning what kind of baby Toby was going to be. Even before he took his first breath I felt a constant stream of kicking and pushing right up until I delivered. Nothing could have foreshadowed my future adventures with Toby better than when one of my co-workers stared in awe at my turbulent tummy and exclaimed "I have never seen somebodies pregnant belly move like that before! Is he always that active?"

The first 4 weeks with Toby was probably the most taxing month of my entire life. Every night, around 10 o'clock he would scream and cry until about 3 or 4 am, and then just fall asleep from exhaustion. Nick and I were completely baffled and frustrated by his behavior and tried everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to get him to stop crying. Nick rocked him, I nursed him, we both sang to him, we took him for car rides, we swaddled him, burped him, gave him gas drops, and then repeated the whole process over again. I was so grateful and relieved for the night when he slept 3 hours at a time and woke up just to nurse. Needless to say, when people asked how he was sleeping at night I would give them the vague answer of: "well, he is sleeping."

Then as he approached 3 months, some things got easier, but new challenges surfaced. He was sleeping for longer durations at night (4-5 hour chunks), but his naps during the day were almost non-existent lasting only about 30 - 40 minutes. This gave me very little time for myself. And even if my body screamed for sleep my mind was always on what needed to be done around the house. I learned how to get housework done in record time and even send a few emails before I heard the first sounds of Toby stirring in his crib. Also, I should mention that when Toby was awake, he was (and still is) a high-need baby. He bored easily, he wanted to be held constantly, he was much LOUDER than most babies and protested at the slightest discomfort, he could not be in his car seat for longer than 20 minutes, and nursed about every two hours until he was 9 months of age. I can remember for the longest time telling myself, "I can't wait til he reaches ___ age because then it will be easier."

My wishful thinking always proved to be true...and false. Every milestone brought some relief and feelings of excitement, but also new obstacles and anxieties. It wasn't until a mother of a rowdy two year-old commented on how easy I had it with Toby only being 10 months, that I realized how very wrong I had been about there being a "perfect age" for my son.

"Just wait til he gets to my daughters age and then the real fun begins." she said sarcastically.

I looked at her in pure disbelief with my droopy, blood-shot eyes. Toby was still not sleeping well at night and continued to suck every ounce of energy from me during the day time. She must of had an easy baby, I concluded. But still unsettled by her flippant remark, I desperately wanted to convey what I had gone through the past year. Sadly, the only thing that came out of my mouth was how Toby gets into everything and I can't take my eyes off of him for a moment (which really only grazed the surface of my rambunctious, very demanding, little boy). As expected, she easily dismissed my attempt to compare him to her daughter who ran around wildly.

"Oh that's nothing." she scoffed.

Feeling extremely annoyed at this point I hoped to silence her with: "You know, I honestly feel no matter what the age, there will always be a challenge."

To this day my words have proved to be prophetic.

But as hard as it was to have a baby that seemed to need more of everything (other than sleep!) I fell completely in love with my little Tobe-man. Even with all of his "spirited" traits, he is the sweetest, most cuddly, curious, little boy in the whole world. Whenever he meets someone new he won't just stare at them with that glazed over baby stare, he actually listens to them interested in everything about them to their voice, to how their mouth moves, to the way they gesture their arms. And then its like once he has them figured out will he charm them with his fantastic jack-o-lantern grin. Probably one of the sweetest memories I have with him is when I was really upset about something and I was crying pretty hard. I don't remember how old Toby was but he just stared at me curiously for a minute and then gently put his chubby little hand on my shoulder as if to say, "its ok mommy, I still love you." My heart just melted. Another thing about Toby is that he is incredibly affectionate. I was at an Enrichment activity and one of the ladies picked up Toby before he could escape the room. Toby immediately threw his arms around her neck and rested his head on her chest. Stunned and pleasantly surprised, she laughed at how cuddly my son was with her being a complete stranger.

I can already sense that some of my fondest memories with him will include: watching old "Saved By the Bell" episodes together in the early morning hours, playing hide-and-seek in the house, dancing in the kitchen together, and falling asleep curled up on the couch for our afternoon nap.

Yes, I will admit that being a mother to Toby is probably the toughest job I've ever had. I've had moments where actually asked myself "Am I really cut out for this motherhood thing?" and and thought about how easy I had it when my life revolved around waiting for the weekend and punching out at 5 everyday. But when my son looks up at me and gives me that priceless smile or peacefully falls asleep in my arms or when I see his reaction to falling snow flakes, I have to confess that I know I wouldn't change one thing about my life. Every sacrifice, every challenge has molded me and refined me into a person that I never knew existed inside of me. A person who now realizes that motherhood is probably the most sacred and underestimated callings in this confused and crazy world.

And to all those women approaching this new adventure in their life, the only piece of advice I have about being a mother is: be prepared to be surprised...

March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Toby!

Toby is officially a one year old today! We celebrated his birthday with mine and Nick's family Saturday afternoon. The lot included: my parents, my sister and her husband, Nick's parents and Nick's sister and niece. We started out our little party with light snacks and then began opening presents.

Of course Toby was more interested in eating the wrapping paper than seeing the actual present.

Then we brought out his own special little cake (made by Nick), sung him "Happy Birthday" and let him go to town.

As you can see, he didn't hesitate at all and dove right into his little chocolate mountain. He ate the whole cake! It was great.

After hosing him down, we decided to chow down on his big birthday cake. All in all, it was a great little party.

Today we gave Toby his first haircut since he was growing his own little mullet. My brothers and sisters liked calling him "pilgrim" or "founding father" because seriously all he needed was a black buckled hat to complete his colonial look. I honestly loved the little fluff growing on the back of his head. Nick on the other hand could not wait to get rid of it, so today we got out the clippers and Toby rejoined the 21st century.

I'm going to miss my little pilgrim... :(

March 6, 2009

You spin me right round...

Well, he's not walking yet but he sure is one active little boy! We might have a future gymnast on our hands...