Friday, November 19, 2010

"Outdoor Adventure" Birthday Party

One of my ways to favorite outlets for creativity is in the celebration of life... BIRTHDAY PARTIES! For us, it's a wonderful time to craft together, which saves us LOTS of money on decorations and party favors. For my son's recent party, we stumbled on the best blog ideas. Thanks to all of you who gave us such innovative ways to entertain kids!
 For the invitations, I bought a $5 scrapbook packet at Walmart (outdoor theme).  I also bought a $5 spool of twine. The leftover twine was used to tie a compass around each gift bag (filled with plastic bugs, smore kits, and candy), and to hang forest/tree decorations from the ceiling,

Upon entering the party, each child received an adventure map, and was asked to select a bandana. (Each bandana had a different outdoor symbol on it: fish, bear, tree, water, moose, etc. I bought $4 worth of fabric, cut into 4-inch pieces, folded, ironed, and painted.)

My thanks to the creation-pro over at The Blackberry Vine ( for the coolest campfire cake idea, ever! We tried it, though a little lopsided (above), put the candles in it, and the kids loved it! For entertainment, we had a tent and archery outside. Hence... we "needed" an archery cake, as well. The arrows are made of "Pocky" sticks and fondant. And on his actual birthday, I took archery cupcakes to school (below).

The evening continued with hotdogs, glowsticks, pin the fish on the campfire, and many happy 7-year-olds.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Creative Communication": My New Approach

Originally, I began this blog (AND my public speaking career) to share helpful information about effective communication. I soon realized that I didn't feel like my true self in my professional life. Yes, I am a communcation-nerd, but... I am also a Catholic Christian, a wife, a mom, a cupcake addict, and so much more. My best lessons in communication come, not from the classroom, but from life. So here's my attempt at meshing my "worlds."

I invite you to check out "Creative Communication" here on this blog & at I hope you find plenty of helpful tips on communication, creativity, and living an abundant life (John 10:10).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bullying & the Power of Words

"Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

We all know how it goes. We were taught this by our parents, grandparents, educators, etc. But the truth is... this is a BIG LIE!

When I look back on my life, many of the most painful moments did not deal with physical pain. Instead, the pain was associated with someone's words. Now that I have a son in school, I'm noticing how adults falsely minimize the power of words. For example, if it's a physical altercation between youngsters, it's ok to tell. But if someone if name-calling, it's often called "tattling."

Now don't get me wrong. I understand that we need to teach young people to ignore and devalue mean comments, but we also need to simultaneously recognize the power of words. There was such a sad story in recent DFW news about an elementary school child who committed suicide because of hurtful words. Words can cause a pain that is far worse than sticks and stones, so words should be monitored and corrected.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Customer Service 101 - Don't use jargon!

It's Ebay drama week for me. When the local department store recently stopped carrying my husband's favorite cologne (no, not Brut or Old Spice), I ordered it through a perfume business on Ebay. That was over 3 weeks ago, and STILL NO COLOGNE on my doorstep!

Their response to my email looked something like this:
"We apologize. The problem is that our matrix equation... blah, blah... transaction ID... blah, blah."

WHAT??? I threw my hands up in the air & yelled at my computer, "Who cares? Just get me my cologne!" I, like other customers, don't understand their jargon. I don't speak "perfume business." Good customer service entails speaking in laymen's terms... clear & direct. Keep it simple.

Needless to say, I gave them my Customer Service 101. My package is being overnighted, disount & free samples included. That'll do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Dare You Say That!

Communication is a 2-way process. Effective communication must be made up of good sending AND good receiving.

If you're a boss, a parent, or a good friend, you've probably had to tell someone something that is not easy to hear. Hopefully, you've structured and sent your message in a dignified way (without raising your voice, without harsh language, with genuine concern, etc).

On the receiving end of the message, we find good receivers and bad receivers. Some can take constructive criticism, apply it, and learn from it. On the other hand, bad receivers get defensive and hurt. Often, this negative response is rooted in an insecurity, which is understandable, but still not effective.

For example, I taught speech classes for a couple of years. I told some students that they needed work. Some listened and improved. Others grumbled & felt hurt. The latter was not beneficial to anyone.

Another incident was when a dear friend accused me of gossip. My first response was, "What a jerk!" But soon I realized, he was right. Today, I appreciate his honesty, because it impacted my life.

Oh, the work it takes to be a good receiver.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Opening Ceremonies: What they speak about a county's culture

Tonight it begins... the 2010 Winter Olympics will kick off in a few hours with the opening ceremony. As I anxiously await what Canada will bring tonight, I can't help but fondly look back on the breathtaking memory of the 2008 opening ceremony in Beijing.

Beijing's ceremony was awesome. For instance, China had about one bazillion percussionists who all moved and played as one. People across the world raved about the spectacular choreography and their ability to look so unified, despite their number. But, this ceremony was only demonstrating the heart of Chinese culture and how they communicate.

Chinese culture is a collective culture. In the US, our culture is predominantly individualistic. We value autonomy & individuality. Collective cultures, on the other hand, place value on the group over the individual. Togetherness and the needs of the group are a priority. For this reason, the multitude of drummers working in unison simply told a story about Chinese communication & culture.

Needless to say, I'm anxious to see what tonight's ceremony will illustrate about our friends to the north.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are you a pseudo listener?

Communication is a 2-way process, and being a good listener is vital.

Pseudo listening means pretending to listen... faking it! Pseudo listeners often have eyes that are glazed over, a bobbling head, and auto-pilot responses like, "Uh-huh... uh-huh... yeah." This is bad communication.

Why do we pseudo listen? Often, our minds are on other things (that good show on TV or the "to-do" list in our minds). Other times, things like hunger or fatigue can impact our ability to listen well.

I know this stuff sounds so obvious, but so many of us are no less guilty! After the third "Hey Mommy, look at this," I sometimes zone out and say, "Uh-huh, uh-huh... Good... Oh!" But I have to remember that my loved ones want and need to be heard. So, let's all make a cognizant effort to say no to pseudo listening.