Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get Creative With Your Kids For The Holidays

Light up your kid's eyes and warm your friends' & family's hearts with thoughtful, useful gifts made with love~

I'll bet your kids would rather roll up their sleeves, have fun, get dirty and creative with you instead of going shopping at the mall for gifts this year! It's certainly worth a try!!!

Below are three ideas for homemade gifts that will not only be fun for you and your kids to make, your friends and family members will appreciate them more than most store-bought gifts!

The really great 'hidden' secret to making these is that you are spending quality bonding time with your kids and creating priceless golden memories of a lifetime! The ‘prep’ work and follow-up plans can be as fun as actually making them…
And, they are NOT your typical handmade gifts … these will truly be enjoyed!

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? I am giving a brief overview here to keep things simple; if you would like more details or specific recipes/instructions, please email me at harmonypublications@hotmail.com and I will be happy to share them with you!

1. Meal-in-a-jar: (The busy folks on your gift list can relax; you’ve got dinner covered!)
a. Potato & Onion Soup
b. Cornbread Muffins
c. Salad Dressing
i. The ingredients are simple and few. Simply mix specified amounts of each dry ingredient and place in jars with home-made labels ‘from our family to yours.’

2. A Cup of Cocoa: (A quiet moment to warm a friend amid the hustle-bustle!)
a. Mug
b. Measure out powdered hot chocolate mix in small plastic bag and add a few mini marshmallows
c. Tie bag with holiday ribbon and stuff it into the mug
d. Make homemade ‘To’ and ‘From’ tags and tie to mug handle

3. Tea-light Candle Holders: (Light up someone’s holiday with love!)
a. Save tin cans. Make design templates to stick on can. Mom or Dad hammers holes around the designs then removes templates from cans. Kids spray-paint cans in festive colors then sign and date the bottoms of cans. Place small candle in and watch the light shine through the holes.

I can say from experience that the folks on your gift list will LOVE these ... ALMOST as much as you do!

Remember, these weeks of holiday preparation hold just as much fun for you to enjoy as the actual holiday does!

It is my wish that you find joy in the simplest moments ... they are really practice for the bigger moments to come!

Now, go build some great memories~


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My 'Thank You' Gift to You

I am grateful that you are a part of 'Color My World' and I appreciate that you want to learn more about creative self-expression, living authentically, and improving relationships.

With that said, I am offering a free gift to thank you for being a part of my world. I know that as someone interested in living true to yourself, you will enjoy this gift, but I don't want you to keep it all to yourself! It is meant to be shared.

Here is what I mean ...

My gift is a 2-part audio download which is valued at $19.99. I invited a colleague of mine, Dr. Nancy Mramor (drmramor.com), a renowned psychologist, to join me in some free-creative playtime which I recorded for you. In the audio file, I demonstrate 4 solid ways for you to incorporate creative self-expression into your everyday life, and not only is this audio download free to you, the tips that I demonstrate cost you nothing ... so, you don't have to 'find' the time or spend a dime!

You will learn ways to nurture your creativity, and get the whole family involved while you are doing chores, driving to soccer, preparing dinner, etc. Now, car-time and chore-time go by quicker, you'll have more fun, and here's the priceless part ... it's a great way to get to know what is in your kid's head and heart!

Oh, yeah ... you will also be creating golden memories of a lifetime!

These invaluable Tips 'n Tools are so successful that you may never have to purchase a board game again!

Also, here is another way this gift can be shared ... If you have friends/fans you think would appreciate my Tips 'n Tools, please pass this link (FREE GIFT) along to them with a personal note from you letting them know that as my friend, you are sharing in the spirit of giving. They'll love you for it, and I'd love to meet anyone who is a fellow friend/fan of yours! ... Now we are also sharing the love!

Here's how to get your gift ... and again, it is totally free ~ you don't even have to pay shipping/handling or tax! ...

First of all, make certain that you already 'Follow' me on this Blog ... then drop me an email at harmonypublications@hotmail.com letting me know your email address so that I can send you your free gift. If you don't already 'Follow' this Blog, follow the quick two-step process below:

1. Just sign up for this blog by scrolling down the page and hitting the 'Follow' button under my photo where it says 'Friends and Followers' ...
2. Then email me at harmonypublications@hotmail.com to let me know your email address so that I can send you your free gift.

That's it ... it's that simple! You are now on your way to creative authenticity ~ just in time to create some amazing holiday memories with your friends and family!

Welcome, and enjoy~

"It's never wrong to write!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks~

Don't you just LOVE this time of year? The fact that there is a special holiday dedicated to the act of being thankful is indicative of how important gratitude truly is. Although I keep a gratitude journal, and am mindful to maintain it every day, there is something even more humbling about building an entire day around it, and doing so with people that I treasure is extraordinarily special.

It is my hope that you, too, are surrounded by a bounty of beauty, along with a grateful heart.

Now, you KNOW that I've got to get creative here ... and that I also have to share a way for you to get creative with your family this Thanksgiving. However, I know that you are busy, so I will keep this post brief and get right to it:

This link is my special gift to you [click here] ... It leads you to a fun way to get your kids involved in helping set your Thanksgiving table this year. While you are busy putting the finishing touches on dinner, your kids can color these fun place mats and personalize them with names and festive messages for each person at your table ... Make certain that you select the 'landscape' print option ... and use fun colored paper to match your other decorations!

Thank you for being a part of my life!

Bon Appetite~


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creativity and Sports

Creativity is important in every aspect of our lives. We simply have to know HOW to tap into it and WHERE to apply it in order to maximize our results. The one question I had never thought of caught me by surprise recently when a morning show TV host asked me WHY we should want to tap into our creativity. “Hmm,” I thought …. “Is she kidding?” Nope … she was serious, and she brought up a great point from a perspective which I had never acknowledged.

We all know I’m a ‘right brainer.’ I involve some level of creativity to everything I do. You could say I ‘stand out from the norm.’ As a result, it never crossed my mind that someone would be puzzled by the thought of applying creativity to their daily life.

My lovely host gave an example of an accountant who is ‘formula-oriented’ and might wonder WHY they would want to look at things differently. For them, two plus two always equals four. My immediate on-camera response was, “Sure, but so does three plus one!” Why would anyone want to limit their thinking when alternatives can broaden our horizons and lead to fun stuff? Although invaluable in certain situations, a laser-focus can really hinder us.

You see, I like to make everything fun … hey, it’s one of the perks of being eternally stuck in fourth grade and writing for children! However, I use it in almost every aspect of my life. Yes, it gets me in trouble sometimes (harmless trouble) but those moments are outweighed by the joy it interjects into my life.

For example, my anchor book, “Color My World” is a huge success. We made it to the Best-Seller list within 18 months, and my book tour was an awesome experience. However, while I was on the road doing book signings, workshops, radio and TV shows around the country, I was approached by several parents who said that they learned so much while they were watching me work with their kids.

Before I knew it, I was doing corporate workshops and seminars for adults. Now, I could have ignored those leads because “I work with children; I write children’s books; my products are not geared toward adults.” However, my audience told me what they wanted, I designed programs specifically for adults, and now I’m enjoying the fruits of a different labor. If I had written off the opportunity because I was laser-focused on my main mission I would be missing the rewards I’m currently reaping.

So how does this apply to kids and sports?
Well, first I feel it is important to remember that we should be enjoying the things we do with our kids … even if it is an intense and serious issue to them … in fact, I should say ESPECIALLY if it is an intense and serious issue to them! Isn’t it our job to help our kids enjoy life while they figure out where they want to go and how to get there?

With that said, whether your kids are playing sports for the fun and social aspects or if they are aiming to be the world’s next Olympic star, we’ve got to teach them to enjoy the journey. That journey includes surprises along the way … those alternate routes can be just as rewarding as the original journey, if not more so.

How do we transfer that to our kid’s sport training? Don't over think the situation. Go with our gut, and be compassionate. This is not brain surgery, but the key is to get a good blend of intellect (technical information) and emotion (experience and compassion). Once we have a fair balance between the ‘nuts-n-bolts’ angle and the personal side, the rest should fall into place.

Think about how you might help a new recruit tackle something at your office. You’d most likely share the research and analytical information with them, and probably feel inspired to take them under your wing and help them succeed. So often we approach co-workers with more patience and compassion than we extend to our family members. Try talking to your child as though they were a young recruit at work.

While offering technical advice, give some positive input and try to see the situation through their eyes. They want to learn from you, but more importantly, they want your support and acceptance as well. I’ll bet your kid is no different than that new office recruit.

Helping our kids learn to play a sport can be difficult … or it can be easy. We simply have to make the choice upfront.

Choosing to make it easy is … well, easy. Often times the question we must ask ourselves is, “Do we want drama or results?” Chances are that we are going to get the drama no matter. After all, we are dealing with our kids, right? Well, the good news is that we can direct the drama to work in our favor in the form of positive energy instead of draining negative drama if we focus on results.

First, we have to identify the forms of drama; there is good drama and bad drama. Focusing on what is wrong will obviously lead to bad negative energy and will most often result in more of what is wrong, beginning the downward spiral to tantrums, fights, and perhaps dropping out of the sport altogether.

Focusing on what is going well typically leads to a more willing participant and better results which begin the climb to the top. Sometimes ‘the top’ can mean the best of the best, and sometimes it can simply mean the best that your child can be. Either way, it harnesses the energy, delivers more fun and becomes more productive for you, your child, and ultimately the team.

This sets the tone for many of life’s ensuing endeavors on and off the field. Isn’t that what kids’ sports are all about? I believe the goal is to prepare them for life as well as a potential career in sports.

Here are examples of negative and positive approaches:

A negative approach can be as innocent as telling your son or daughter that s/he is standing in the ‘wrong’ position. While a more positive approach which uses the same amount of time and energy can have a much better end result. This could be something as simple as showing them the ‘right’ position in which they should be standing. Suddenly, instead of criticizing and turning the situation into a negative battle, you are focused on the positive side, the solution.

Think about when your child first learned to walk. As their little legs clamored across the room and your heart sank at the thought of watching them fall onto the corner of the coffee table. A natural response might have been to yell, “Don’t fall!” However, those ‘innocent’ and well-intended words merely put the idea of falling into their head and the next thing you saw unravel was the scene you had played out in your head and wanted to avoid.

Now, since we have the ability to recreate that scene in an instant replay, we’ll choose your words more carefully. Instead of planting a negative thought, you tell your child, “Be careful!” Chances are, the kid’s mind will take that command seriously and the scene will play out safely. Of course, those wobbly, newly-discovered legs still are not graceful, but they’re more likely to successfully carry your child safely to the other side of the room!

It is the same in sport training. Positive reinforcement goes further and more smoothly. Just keep in mind that practice is not limited to the sport or the child … it is also important for parents to practice. Practice how to reframe your thoughts and directions in a more positive way, and chances are, you will see more positive results.

On that note … remember the positive reinforcement after the swing, hit or miss. “Good hit, great swing, nice try, fun game!” A little goes a long way.

Just like employees, our kids crave the simplest acknowledgment. That is truly a reward in and of itself which can propel them to their next great move! Look, it doesn’t happen often for us, but doesn’t it feel good to creatively outsmart your kid?!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Setting Homework Standards

Today I’m sharing some creative tips on how to set the homework tone for the rest of the school year, now … BEFORE it becomes a problem.

School is back in session. Most parents I talk to are happy about that except for one thing … they seem to dread homework almost as much as their kids!

When you hear the word 'HOMEWORK' does scary-movie-music play in your head? ... If so, listen-up~

OK, here’s the deal … homework time does NOT have to feel like tax time!

There are a few things you can do to nip this in the bud … I’m going to cut right to the chase here …

I’ve got ONE SECRET WEAPON that works for almost anything when dealing with our kids:

Let them share in the decision-making process.

Here’s how:

Give them some control, let them know that their opinion matters and that you trust their judgment.
• Of course, we typically have to steer them toward the right decision, but they don’t have to know that.
• You might also want to be prepared to negotiate a little because you KNOW they will have their own ideas … although this might be frustrating, it really shows good independent thinking skills, and if you are prepared for it, you can still maintain control.
• You really enter the ‘danger zone’ when you are not prepared!

Here are 3 things that will help make this school year run a little smoother:
1. Decide on homework time TOGETHER
2. Choose a homework spot TOGETHER
3. Gather tools to help make homework successful TOGETHER

Notice that one key element there … TOGETHER!

• Instead of demanding that homework be done at a specific time, talk it over with your son or daughter and get their input … give 2 or 3 choices:
o Right after school, right before dinner, right before bed

• Perhaps you can also give them 2 or 3 places from which to choose:
o In bedroom, at kitchen table, on family room floor

• Talk out the pluses and minuses of each … together

• Gather tools to make it easier:
o Laptop, lap-desk, pens/pencils, erasers, protractor, calculator, clip-on book-light, snack(!) … doesn’t food make everything better?

• Talk about how it trains their brain to get into ‘homework mode’ so that they understand the importance of consistency.

• This might also be a good time to discuss the importance of certain ‘brain foods’ and how they help the thinking process: Foods high in Omega 3; certain veggies like cauliflower and broccoli, nuts and seeds, raspberries…

These tips made a huge difference in my son's attitude toward homework time, and as a result, made a more peaceful time for all of us!

Believe me, a little planning can truly be the difference between success and failure this year! ... for everyone in your home~

Ahh! ... Isn't that better?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Transitioning kids from summer fun to a school year structure does not have to be difficult!

With the anticipation of a new school year comes the rites of passage that go along with stepping up a grade, or walking into a new class or school, or perhaps even starting school for the first time ever. So often, we focus on the ceremony of shopping for a new wardrobe, backpack, binders and markers, but we forget that we should spend some time acclimating our kids' minds for the classroom environment.

This doesn't mean we should hold mock school sessions at home for a month prior to the first day of school; we can ease their minds into 'school mode' without them even realizing it. You simply have to prepare a little and before you know it, you'll be slipping lessons into your everyday functions and passing them off as mere fun! Isn't it a delicious thought to be able to fool your kids into learning something? Well, it might be way easier than you thought possible.

The three most important things to remember are:

1. Make it fun!
2. Make it Fun!!
3. Make it FUN!!!

The fourth thing … dab their baby toe in first ... ease them back in ~ and yes, MAKE IT FUN!

Below are some quirky yet entertaining brain exercises for every age group.

Young kids:

* A trip to the ice cream stand(!) … or their favorite restaurant! … Woo-Hoo! … hold on, there is one caveat: everyone must only use their non-dominant hand (if you are right-handed, you must eat with your left hand and vice-versa).

* Folks at your neighboring tables might think you are nuts; however, those with kids will thank you when you explain what you are doing.

*Benefit: This is a great exercise to engage both sides of the brain to get them working together.


* Of course, most tweens will also enjoy a trip to the ice cream stand or their favorite restaurant to eat with their non-dominant hand. However, we might need something a bit more challenging at this age level.

* If that is the case, play some fun word games with them to get their brain juices flowing. For instance, have them try to say their name backwards, then have them spell it backwards. Still using their name as the template for brain engaging fun, challenge them to hold an entire conversation over dinner while beginning every sentence with a word that begins with the first letter of their first name. For example, Debbie must try to begin every sentence with a word that starts with the letter ‘D’ … Do you understand what I mean? Did you try it yet? Don’t knock it till you try it. Difficult, huh?

* Benefit: Nurtures creativity and independent thinking skills.

Teens/Young Adults:

* This one might take a little homework on your part; however, like most activities involving our kids, the older they are, the more involved it typically becomes. Focus on something that your child is really into … music, reading, sports, etc. Research the newest/latest happenings which revolve around that particular subject and start asking them questions about it. For instance, if your kid loves baseball, identify his/her favorite players, ask them to recite their stats (RBI’s, ERA’s, number of home-runs) for the current season; if they are not a rookie, how do their current stats measure up to last season? What is their team’s current record; wins, losses, ties, and placement in the league. Quiz them on these stats. Same for music; pick a favorite singer or band, and their newest album; name all the songs on the CD; which were hits? Do they know their placement on the charts?

*Benefit: Gently wakes up the sleepy-summer brain, and gets your kid thinking again.

These might seem like rather ‘mindless’ exercises; however, the goal is to get creative juices flowing to encourage their own individual learning styles. There is no better way to do that than to appeal to them with something that lights up their eyes, and to do so in a comfortable environment. Remember, you’ve got to keep their head in the game, or it won’t do any good.

Although there are many benefits to each of the examples above, the byproduct is that you will be spending top-quality time with your child. Keep in mind that free creative playtime is a great way to learn what is in your kid’s head and heart, no matter how old they are! ... BONUS!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tips for Teachers

It’s that time of year again~

• You’ve got your syllabus prepared
• Your lesson planner is rockin’
• You even have most of your tools and props ready
• Yay!

If you are looking for some ideas, you’re in good company. Some 'Color My World' followers have asked me for tips to help teachers facilitate a good comfort level and set the perfect tone for the rest of the school year.

You know, my Mom always had the best little Italian sayings; some of them did not transfer well in English. However, there is one that I believe would have the same impact in any language. In fact, it applies well in this situation … but in reverse.

Here’s what I mean:

Whenever something was amiss, whether it was a business situation or a family matter, my Mom would ask who was in charge. She’d tell me to look at the person at the top of the chain-of-command and I’d probably find the problem because people usually take their lead from that person, and if something was wrong in the middle or at the bottom, something was typically wrong at the top.

She would say, “A fish stinks from the head down.” That’s pretty insightful; it illustrates the point well, and I find it to be true a lot. However, I still prefer to paint prettier pictures. The problem is that none of the 'pretty' scenarios I’ve come up with get the point across as well as the stinky fish.

Which brings about a more popular saying, “If it ain’t broke …” Well, I won’t try to fix my Mom’s brilliant little ditty, but this is how I believe it also holds true in reverse. If things are going smoothly in the middle and at the tail end, someone at the top is setting that tone as well.

We’ve all seen the signs posted in a lot of homes that read, ‘If Momma’s not happy, no one’s happy!’ Well, the same seems to hold true in the classroom; the teacher sets the tone for this ‘family.’

With that said, it is important to be well-rested and prepared so that you are able to then prep your students for a smooth year ahead.

A great way to set the tone is to make each student feel welcomed and important while getting acquainted.

Here is an idea that might help:

•Once you have your student roster, take some time to research their first names.
•Using large index cards or construction paper, write each student’s name and its definition on a card.
•Remember to also make a card for your name.
•Place a Post-it over the name on each card so that only the definition shows.
•When class is in session, make a game out of guessing who matches the description on each card by randomly passing out cards and making certain that no one gets the one with their own name on it.
•Give each student a chance to read the card in their hand while the rest of the class guesses who it is.
•This is not just a good way to learn everyone's name; it also gives a glimpse of each personality right up front. For instance, my name ‘Deborah’ means Queen Bee. I’m not so certain that was a good fit in grade school since I was rather shy; however, later in my life, I’d have to say that I proudly accept that description. I’m in charge of my life; I know what I want, I know how to get things done, and I appreciate the fact that I am well respected for what I do.
•By the way, these name cards can also be used as name plates for the fronts of the desks.
•And at the end of the school year, you can use them again to compare how the definitions fit or changed with each personality since the beginning of the year.

Hey, are we talking about the end of the school year already?! ... Time flies when we are happy~

Here’s to a happy Classroom!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Parental 911 ~ Summer’s End is Near

Are You Still Trying to Find Ways to Make This Summer Memorable?

Well ...

It’s NOT too late to have the BEST summer EVER with your kids! …

In today's issue, I'm sharing tips that fit into what’s left of your summer schedule and BUDGET

The key here is to SCHEDULE the time together; put it on your calendar as if you had to be at the airport hopping on a plane for a quick vacation.

Keep in mind that the goal is to make it a summer to remember, so let’s build some fabulous memories.

The best way to do that is by beginning with something that your kid loves. What lights up their eyes?

Here are 10 EASY tips to get you started:
  1. Music
    • Check out local Concerts in the Park (typically free_
    • Or, how about setting up snacks/drinks in your backyard, along with your laptop on a blanket. Everyone in the family gets to choose a music video or two to watch TOGETHER
  2. Art
    • Have you been to the museum lately
    • Or, how about packing a picnic, stop at the library and check out some art books, then heading to the park to share your bounty together
  3. Animals
    • Zoo/Aquarium, Aviary, visit local farms/petting zoos; for older kids, try horseback riding
    • Or, how about volunteering some time TOGETHER at an animal shelter
  4. Sports
    • Plenty of major league games left this season, try just visiting the ballparks, or drive to a Sports Hall of Fame
    • Or, how about stopping by some local little league games to support neighborhood ‘stars’ … even if you don’t know them
  5. Movies
    • Movies in the Park typically run through the month of August
    • Or, how about doing your own movie fest 3 nights in a row at a local drive-in … everyone participates in making the plans (choosing movies, popping popcorn, packing drinks, etc.)
  6. Cars/Motorcycles/Races
    • Check out local speedways to enjoy inexpensive entertainment
    • Or, how about racing each other … bumper cars
  7. Getting Dirty
    • Off road racing … rent a 4 wheeler if you don't own one, and see how dirty you can get it
    • Or, how about a spontaneous walk in the rain
  8. History
    • History Center or Museums
    • Or, how about researching your family tree TOGETHER
  9. Mind Exercises
    • Science Center
    • Or, how about fun online mind games … Braingym.com, ZiggityZoom, colormyworld.info, my blog gives LOTS of tips, tools, ideas and exercises
  10. Ask Your Kid
    • You might be surprised at the fabulous ideas they have ... if you just ask and listen
    • Chances are, they simply want to spend time together ~ building memories!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get the Heck out of the Way!

As adults, we truly do try our best to help our kids move down the 'right' path, yes?

Well, I've got great news for you ~ sometimes we don't have to try so stinkin' hard!

That's right, I'm giving you permission to NOT work so hard at it!

Sometimes, the best thing we can possibly do for our kids is to get the heck out of their way!

Watch this short (about a minute and a half) video to see what I mean:

"Child's Creativity"

Now, relax and go color something YOUR way!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Are You Having Fun Yet? ...

Now that summer is in full swing, inspiration is all around us! And so, I believe this is the perfect time to use our summer excitement to catapult our creativity... Need a gentle nudge?

Here's a great way to get the creative juices flowing:

Whether you've been away this summer, or have been having fun at home, choose your favorite moment so far, and write a poem about it. Remember that there is still plenty of summer left to create more magical moments! Perhaps you can use that anticipation to write a poem about an upcoming event ... Also keep in mind the fact that poems do NOT have to rhyme.

You know that I LOVE it when you share your poems and stories with me.

With that in mind, I wrote this poem that I'm sharing with you about my recent trip to Oglebay:

My favorite Oglebay Moment …

There’s too many to choose!

I can’t pick just one … I refuse!

So, I wrote this poem to give you a feel

Of a heaven on earth that is oh, so real:

Quiet mornings were spent on the balcony
While birds performed a symphony.

Flowers and trees were in full bloom
Then we returned to a peaceful room.

My ‘work’ was doing workshops with budding poets,
They LOVE ‘Color My World’ don’t you know it?

What an opportunity to teach and share wit,
And I’m grateful for the chance to relax a bit.

We enjoyed soothing massages in their tranquil spa,
Oglebay certainly has something for all!

While I worked, my hubby took a Segway tour.
He had a blast, that’s for sure!

We dined on sumptuous meals with a panoramic view.
And witnessed two beautiful weddings, too.

After a vigorous workout in the gym,
We relaxed in the sauna, then off for a swim.

We walked along nature trails and around the pond,
It’s as though Mother Nature waved her wand.

There were mountains in the distance and a cozy lake,
No better place for a well-deserved break.

Off in the distance, we heard a golfer cry “Fore!”
On our way to the museum and to do shopping galore.

With all that we did, there’s way more left undone,
So, we’re returning soon to scoop up more Oglebay fun!

Meanwhile, I end this poem with a question, though;
There is one thing I’ve got to know …

The director of every fun-filled fiesta
Never seems to get a siesta!

Anne is there, working night and day,
And her enthusiasm doesn’t ever sway.

It’s obvious that her goal is to ensure a good time
But Anne, you’ve GOT to rest sometime!

It seems that you never get to sleep.
When is it YOUR turn to count sheep?

You are certainly the most gracious hostess
Who delivers the absolute mostess!

Your guests are filled with appreciation,
Because you exceed the highest expectation.

So, Anne, my hat is off to you,
For the heart-felt job that you do!

I hope my friends and fans get a chance to visit Oglebay sometime soon! Meanwhile, thanks for being part of 'Color My World' and remember to click on over to my website for more fun and inspiration!

As always, whatever you do, do it creatively and authentically ...

Enjoy the magic~

Monday, July 12, 2010

This Might Seem Like a No-Brainer... BUT...

Yep, that's a big ol' BUT ... buuuut, bear with me here.

Isn't it typically the things that are right under our noses which go unnoticed or taken for granted? I'm thinking ... YES!
Today's Laser Tip is one of those~

One word: Crosswords

Seriously, doing crossword puzzles together with your kids is a great way to:
~keep their brain (and yours) sharp
~build a strong vocabulary (no matter what age)
~spend time together
~build memories
~have fun!

I remember many special moments doing crossword puzzles with my kids, snuggled under a blanket on the couch or in front of a fire in the winter. Other times when we were on vacation and my husband was driving, I'd be doing a crossword puzzle in the front passenger seat, and I'd call out a clue to our sons in the back seat. Often times, it was a collaborated effort to get the right answer; however, some of the 'wrong' answers would spur opportunities for a 'side' lesson.

In addition to filling in the answers on the puzzle, we'd take turns spelling the words and using them in a sentence. This is especially beneficial when there are various age groups participating. Crosswords are generally easy to keep age-appropriate since there is typically a mix of short words and big words.

To make it more fun, you can make 'rules' that the sentence can only pertain to a particular subject or scenario. For instance, all sentences must somehow relate to a zoo. If a clue to a particular puzzle is: Six-letter word for 'a place to learn.' And the answer is 'school,' someone must spell the word 'school' and use it in a sentence pertaining to the zoo. Teens might say something along the lines of, "The last week of school was like a zoo because there was not much structure in our schedule." Younger kids might say, "I'd rather go to the zoo than go to school!"

Either way, there is a hidden bonus here ... insight to what your kid is thinking and feeling. The first sentence might clue you in to the fact that your older child is beginning to prefer structure, even though they might resist it from you at home. And, although it might not be a surprise that your younger child would rather do something more fun than school, it presents you with an opportunity to broach the subject in a gentle manner.

VOILA! Time spent with your kids, future memories, sharpened vocabulary skills, and built-in lessons ... Oh yeah, and you had ... um ... what's a three-letter word for enjoyment? ...

Remember, for more creative ways to have fun with your kids, check out my free interactive website and watch segments of my NBC and CBS morning show appearances on my YouTube Channel. Also, stop by your local book store and pick up a copy of my Best-Selling interactive book for kids of all ages, 'Color My World.'

As always, I LOVE it when you share your creative successes with me ... here or by email: harmonypublications@hotmail.com.

And, I appreciate it when you pass my information along to your friends!

Until next time,
Enjoy the magic~

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Going Somewhere?

My goal here is to provide you with quick, easy-to-apply Tips 'n Tools to nurture creativity and get to know your kids better.

Today's Laser Tip:

Whether you are in your car for 10 minutes headed to a ballgame, or 10 hours on a family vacation, here is a fun tip that you can do together ... everyone can enjoy it at their own level:

  • Spot a billboard with people in it; name each person in the billboard, and build a story around them.
  • Example: Take turns going around to each person in the car. On the first round, identify each person in the billboard and what they do for a living or for fun. Next round, say where they just came from. Where are they going? Is one of them a stay at home parent? What conversation would they be having now? ... Etc.....
  • One billboard can last a long time, or you can start anew with a different billboard.
  • See how long you can keep it going~

Oh, and please post your stories here so that the rest of us can enjoy them, too!

Until next time, have the BEST summer ~ EVER! ... Creatively, of course~


Monday, June 21, 2010

Creative, INEXPENSIVE Ways to Build Memories With Your Family This Summer!

Here are some FUN ways to get to know your kids this summer:
  • With younger kids: There’s no better way to get to know their thoughts than to have them write and act out a play. Try this easy ‘puppet’ show:
You will need
  1. magazines
  2. scissors
  3. glue
  4. popsicle sticks or straws
  5. imagination
-Cut out various faces and glue them to sticks or straws
-Name each character, identify who they are (Mom, Dad, etc.) and what they do
-Write an outline script (not too detailed … you’ll want them to be spontaneous!)
-Gather an audience and put on a puppet play

  • With Tweens: My favorite time and place to bond with my sons is in the kitchen! Food is typically the byproduct of the time we spend together. Try making these ‘edible crayons’ and make certain you have your secret list of topics already in your head to get a good quality discussion going while you ‘work’ at this fun project:
You will need:
  1. pretzel rods cut into 3” pieces (adult with serrated knife works best)
  2. fun-colored melting chocolates (from craft or kitchen store) melted
  3. wax paper or foil
  4. wrappers for your crayons (check out my colleague‘s link to download free ‘end of school’ labels here: 24/7 MOMS
-Cut labels apart
-Dip ends of pretzel rods into colored melted chocolates
-Set on wax paper or foil to dry
-While chocolate is still tacky, wrap a label around each ‘crayon’

  • With Older Kids: This is a great time to teach your kids to journal. Perhaps at this age, they will also need one ‘private’ journal of their own; however, to get them in the habit, get a journal for each of you with the intent that you will share what you have written with each other.
You will need:
  1. journals or notebooks
  2. special pens (this makes it more ceremonial and special … and perhaps gives incentive to write)
  3. specific topics that will help you get to know each other a little better (for instance: What was your favorite age, and why? Did you have a favorite birthday, and what made it special? What is your favorite holiday? What was your most embarrassing moment? …)
  4. quiet time separately
  5. quiet time together to share your journals
-Choose a specific topic and set a time frame to write about it (perhaps you can give each other a day or two)
-Decide on a time and place to get together and share your journal entries (it might help if you keep the same day of the week and time slot as your special appointment)

No matter how old your kids are, these exercises will allow you to spend quality bonding time with them now while building memories of a lifetime.

Enjoy the magic,

Friday, June 18, 2010

School's Out!

What now?!

Wouldn't you LOVE to have the best summer EVER with your kids? ... If your answer is, "Yes!" keep reading:

To start this summer on the right track with your kids keep an even playing field (or at least make it seem as though you are! :) by giving them the opportunity to help design your summer plans.

Everyone's input counts here ~
  • Set goals for things you'd like to achieve this summer
      • Be somewhat flexible so that this is more fun and not a pressure-cooker item
      • Perhaps the goal can be for a certain week rather than a specific day to help ease the urgency
  • Let your kids set goals, too
      • Is there theme park close by that they'd like to visit?
      • Have you been wanting to eat at a restaurant that is further than you'd typically drive for dinner?
      • What would you like to do that is out of the family 'norm?'
      • Would you like your child to read a certain book?
  • Ask every family member to make their own 'wish list'
      • Each person should write down 10 different things (depending on how many family members are participating)
      • Pass your lists around and vote on 5 items from each person's list (again this number can change depending on family size)
      • Assuming there are 2 parents and 2 children, you might have 20 goals to hit, and you can spread them out accordingly
  • When summer comes to an end, make a family night out of reviewing your list and reminiscing about each goal ... Perhaps each family could come to the table with something they wrote about each goal, or simply one specific 'fave' ... this is also a great time to put together a scrapbook of photos and mementos you collected ... and include what each person wrote, too!
  • You've not only had the best summer, you've got it documented so you can relive it for a lifetime of memories!
Stay tuned for more fun tips from Mrs. Wilson!

Enjoy the magic~


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Yeah, I remember my first blog in which I said something about 'blogging on a regular basis.' Oh, boy ... did I set myself up! BUT ... yep, I've got a big ol' but ...

But, I've been busy feeling my way around a new arena. Please don't think I've been slacking off since that first post. To the contrary, (I will brag for only a moment, promise!) I hit Best Seller status over the '09 holiday season, and just last week my book made it to the White House! I've traveled to some incredible places and met the most awesome people, and I'm finding that my journey has only just begun! With that said, I believe I've finally realized that there will be no perfect time to commit to writing more regularly in my blog, and so I am diving back in today!

Since this Sunday is Mother's Day, 2010 ... I'm posting an article I wrote for the occasion. I hope you enjoy the read, and that my ideas and tips bring Mothers and Daughters around the globe a little closer.

What do you want for Mother’s Day?

Photo: My Mother’s Daughter
By Debbie Mancini-Wilson
Best-Selling Author
Family Creativity Expert

Wouldn’t a glimpse into daughter’s heart be the best gift ever? Especially if it was willingly delivered to you, personally and exclusively mapped out by your daughter? I’ll bet right about now, there’s a bubble over your head with a great big, ‘Yeahbut’ in it. ‘Yeah, but how do I get that?’ ‘Yeah, but how do I even ask for that?’ ‘Yeah, but is it even possible?’

I’ll answer the last question first; it’s not only possible, chances are great that your daughter WANTS to give it to you! And, if you think you’ve got a big ol’ ‘Yeahbut’ rest assured that your daughter’s is even bigger! ‘Yeah, but I’m not sure my Mom wants to know what I’m thinking!’ ‘Yeah, but I don’t know how to do that!’ ‘Yeah, but I don’t know where to begin!’

Your first question (‘Yeah, but how do I get that?‘) is the easiest to answer. Just ask! OK, stop laughing, I’m serious here! You really should be paying attention:

The BIG ‘Yeah, but’ in the middle … ‘How do I even ask for that?’ is tricky, but the answer might just surprise you because you don’t really have to ask for it. You just simply lead her to it in a fun way.

I’m all about creativity … especially when it leads to warm-n-fuzzy moments that end up being lifetime memories!

With that said, let’s get creative and lead your daughter right into our perfect little plan! It’s totally acceptable to rub your hands together (mad scientist style) right about now.

“Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not.” (Dr. Frankenstein)

Shall we begin? …

One of the easiest ways to get this party going is to offer to do this, too. In other words, you are not only asking your daughter to do this for you, you are doing it for her and swapping with each other on Mother’s Day. Below is an outline of how to write a special recipe … don‘t worry, there is no cooking involved.

First, prepare an outline similar to a recipe card and ask your daughter to fill it out as if she were giving someone who had never met her a recipe teaching them how to get to know a particular side of her inner-most self. You can repeat this fun exercise many different times, each time asking for a recipe to make a different ‘dish.’ And, of course, you will insert your name and your daughter’s name in place of ‘Debbie’ and ‘Shannon’ in the examples below.

Some ideas are: ‘The Debbie Dish’ that co-workers ask for when they need help with a project, or ‘The Debbie Dish’ that your charity of choice asks for when they are trying to raise funds, or ‘The Shannon Dish’ in the example below.


List of items in Shannon’s personal pantry: (Key ingredients that make Shannon the person she is today) Note: you might want to ask some friends or family members for words that describe you.

sense of humor
plain old silliness
charity work

Now design a recipe for a special ’Shannon Dish’ … This is a recipe to make: The ‘Shannon Dish’ friends ask for when they are in a dilemma.

List of ingredients pulled from Shannon’s personal pantry (in order of importance):
5%-sense of humor
Note: the ingredients total 100%

Instructions to make this ‘Shannon Dish’:

In a large bowl:
-Listen with 20% compassion because usually they just need to know that someone cares
-Add 20% understanding into the conversation, even if I don’t completely understand their point of view, I try to imagine their pain
-Even though I’m 100% sincere, mix 20% sincerity into my attitude when speaking; too much at this point might be mistaken for ‘sugary-sweet-shut-her-up-detachment’

In a small bowl:
-Try not to use too much kindness; limit it to 10% to give a fair opinion (not just jump on my friend’s bandwagon because she’s my friend) but still be kind
-Temper the 10% love with the kindness to keep a fair opinion
-Then add the remaining 4 ingredients
Faith is always needed
Creativity will help when you must toe the line between compassion and fairness
Honesty is a must; however, this smaller dose might be best to keep from hurting her feelings (can adjust accordingly with sense of humor to make up total combined 10%)
Always keep at least a small amount of the sense of humor (can adjust accordingly with honesty to make up total combined 10%)

Stir contents of small bowl in with the large bowl.

Once all ingredients are combined, mix them together with the friend’s emotions and allow to gently simmer for as long as the friend needs.

Then, remove from the heat of the moment, and allow to cool until set.

Now, Mom … this is a great way to get to know a lot about your daughter and her perception of herself as a friend, student (ask for a recipe that she’d give to her teacher), or even as a daughter (ask for a recipe for you). It is also a chance for you to open up and reveal a precious side of yourself to your daughter. I believe that she will feel honored, special and touched to know a deeper part of you.

And I bet I know how you will feel. You’re probably already feeling giddy with excitement because this will just about guarantee access to a part of your daughter’s soul that you might not even know existed. The bonus is that since she will be writing her own thoughts at her own pace, she will most likely be more open and free with her information.

There’s no better way to get something we want from someone than to make them feel like it’s their idea and that they are giving it to us on their terms. And hey, let’s face it, there’s something thrilling about pulling off a sneaky caper … Now, enjoy your Mother’s Day, you’re going to be awfully busy once the Oceans 11 casting crew hears about you!