Manner Monday: The Power of Postcards

We’re (the Hub, Cub and I) wrapping up a family vacation where we road tripped to Michigan for my nephew’s wedding this past weekend. Last year I asked my friend, and fellow etiquette expert, Mindy Lockard, aka The Gracious Girl, to share her tips on the Power of Postcards.  Her post was such a big hit, I thought it was a perfect topic and fun reminder for us to take a few minutes during our trip to put the pen to paper.  Thanks Mindy for your great advice!!!

There is so much power in social media, no? From the ability to share our every meal to to play-by-play pictures from our travels it’s easy to feel connected. However, with the power of this immediate information it’s easy dismiss the value of staying in touch through the handwritten word.

After a recent trip to the East Coast where my ten-year-old daughter communicated to friends and family through the tradition of sending postcards, I realized there is still power in the postcard. This was most telling when we returned home and every person we sent a card to had the tail of our journey posted on their refrigerator or memo board. What was missing alongside our postcards was a print off of the many pictures I shared on facebook, twitter and instagram. After all, who prints off pictures or messages from their newsfeed? Nobody that I know.

That said, while our adventure is now old news in the social media newsfeed, it continues to be front and center for those we shared our adventures with. This my friends, shows that the handwritten note, while seemingly old fashioned, still is appreciated and valued.

Not to mention, receiving postcards is fun and one of the best ways to teach children how fun it can be to receive mail.

So this summer before you jet off or hit the road how about planning ahead to send a postcard or two?

Here are a few simple tips for sending postcards:

  1. Pack well, don’t forget addresses, stamps and a great pen
  2. On the airplane or from the road, make a list of those that you want to share your journey!
  3. When you arrive, find the nearest souvenir shop and purchase your postcards. Our suggestion is to purchase a few more than the number on your list. We always think of others as we go.
  4. As you travel, share your adventures through writing. We also find that when we are out to dinner visiting friends or have times when we might be tempted to hand our children a technological device, we hand them a postcard instead. It keeps them occupied and is a great life lesson.
  5. Find the nearest mailbox or Post Office and pop them in the mail! Don’t worry about them arriving after your return date. It’s the thought that counts.

Postcards

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Family, Guest Blogger, Manner Monday, Manners

Ex-Etiquette – Tips on how to handle ‘sharing’ your kiddos during the Holiday season

I recently posted on Facebook how I was working on MannerMonday topics and asked if anyone had a topic they would like to see included in a newsletter.  One of my friends who is recently divorced asked for tips on how to handle sharing her kiddos and maneuvering the new family dynamics of two homes over the Holidays.  My immediate thought was to reach out to a dear friend of mine Amy Urbach who does an AMAZING job handling ex-etiqeutte and blended families.  Amy is so passionate about the topic, she has even started a non-profit called ‘Blended and Bonded‘.  She is a true blessing and I know you will love reading her guest post.  If you have a friend who is in this same situation, please pass along this post Amy has some great advice that will hopefully help to make their situation the best in can be this Holiday season.

Here’s Amy….

“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas.” ~ Clark Griswold, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

If you’ve seen the movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you know that Clark is responding to a holiday gathering gone horribly wrong, with his guests headed for the door. Ever feel like this yourself? If you’re in a blended family, I know you’ve had a holiday like this at some point. If you haven’t, you will.

With the holiday season comes so much fun, excitement, joy, magic and STRESS! Often times, the stress can quickly and easily overtake the fun, excitement, joy and magic of the season. I usually start the season with such excitement and a mental list of all the things I want to do to make this year’s holiday season extra special for my family. All it takes is one trip to the mall as soon as the season starts and I’m out of fun, joy and excitement.

Divorce, co-parenting and blended families only compound the stress. Who gets the kids when? Let’s try to have all the kids at the same time. Will the ex be flexible with the schedule? Can we even communicate?

According to Ron Deal, a blended family expert, it can take up to 7 years for a blended family to “blend”, or come together and settle in to a family unit. With that in mind, if you can keep your expectations in check during the holiday season, you are less likely to set yourself and your family up for disappointment.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind during the holiday season:

  1. Plan ahead! Most co-parents have custody and visitation plans in place. If your ex is not willing to be flexible I highly recommend to sticking with what’s in writing. If you are able to be flexible with one another, by all means do what works best for your kids.  Make sure you have everything in writing and agreed on ahead of time to reduce stress. Stick to the plan.
  2. Don’t try to control everything. When you are no longer with the father/mother of your children, you no longer have control, influence or a say in what happens in their household. Aside from abuse or serious neglect (and I don’t mean the kids are brushing their teeth), you have to let go of what happens and how it happens in the kids’ other home. You will only add stress to the holiday season for yourself and most importantly, your kids if you try to control their environment from a distance.
  3. Give your ex and kids the gift of uninterrupted time. It is normal and expected to be sad the kids are not with you during the holidays. Just because they aren’t with you, resist the urge to interrupt the time they have with the other parent/family. It’s a tempting thing to text, call and/or Facebook them to get updates on what they are doing. While it may be with good intentions, it can communicate you NEED the kids to stay connected to you and that may put pressure on them to report back to you. Be willing to treat the other household how you would want to be treated while you are having your holiday time with the kids. Once a day check-in is plenty. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
  4. Be sensitive to the fact that kids are typically a few years behind us in terms of change to family dynamics. Holidays will likely never be the same for them. Give them space to process what things are going to look like for them. Kids at any age, including adult kids of divorce, can struggle with this. Depending on their age, they may be able and willing to communicate what their expectations are for the holiday season. If they aren’t comfortable just telling you, listen in other ways. They will communicate it their wants in one way or another.
  5. Don’t get hung up on celebrating on the exact day of the holiday. Whatever day you have with your kids, make THAT day your day to celebrate. If you have your kids on the actual holiday, enjoy. If you don’t, take that time to focus on you and other family members. Don’t get hung up on shuffling them around for the sake of being with them on the actual holiday. Give them time to relax and enjoy the season as well.  Give your kids your blessing to completely enjoy their holiday with their other parent/family with no guilt.
  6. Don’t try to be a “Disney parent.” It’s not a competition to see who can get the most and best gifts for the kids. When my kids were younger, my ex, his wife and I were actually able to communicate about what we were getting the kids as to not duplicate.  I know this can’t always be the case, but at least be open to the idea. If we over compensate we create entitled kids.
  7. Create new traditions with your kids. Ron Deal suggests it take several times to create a tradition. One time doesn’t mean it’s a tradition but over a few Christmases, you have created an expectation and anticipation of something to come. My kids and I have always made Christmas cookies. When I remarried we still do that, but we have added making gingerbread houses every Christmas with my kids and my step-kids.
  8. Be the example.  You may have an ex that is just not willing to be respectful of any or all of the things mentioned above. This is the time for you to rise above that disrespectful behavior and show your kids an example of grace, flexibility and love. This doesn’t mean you let the ex walk all over you, but it does mean you set some boundaries, read the situation and adjust accordingly.

Go into the holiday season with an open mind, hopeful heart and be willing to be fun and flexible. Experts suggest kids fair better when at least one parent is reasonable and consistent, so even if your ex isn’t, you can be.

Give the best gift of all to your kids this holiday season: Your blessing to LOVE all that surround them. The payoff is down the road when your kids thank you for allowing them to do so. My kids have thanked their Dad and me often and that has been more satisfying than always getting my way at my kids’ expense.

Merry Christmas!!!

- Amy Urbach

 

Special Announcements: 

Passport (9th-12th Grades) Program

We need a few more young men!!!
If you know of any young men in the 9th-12th grades, please send them our way!
We officially have a waiting list for young ladies.

If you have yet to register for the Passport (9-12th grade) Program, please do so soon!

We will be attending the Civic Center to see Beauty and the Beast and we will also be visiting the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to learn ‘museum manners’ and put them into practice as we get a behind the scenes tour of some of the exhibits.
Click here to view the schedule and to register for the Passport Program.

 

Thanks for reading!
- Carey Sue

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Etiquette, Family, Guest Blogger, Manner Monday, Manners

Manner Monday: Happy Valentine’s Day

With this particular holiday being one of the busier times of year when people are shopping for jewelry, I asked friend and local jeweler, Daniel Gordon, to share some etiquette tips from his perspective to help make the most out of your trip to the jewelry store.

Highlights from his post include:

  • Be a friend to your salesperson
  • Communicate clearly with your salesperson
  • and Due Diligence; spend a little bit of time to find a reputable retailer for the best shopping experience possible

Click here to read his entire post.

And don’t forget, when complimenting someone’s personal jewelry; don’t ask “how much” or “how many carats”? A simple, “that is a beautiful ring”, will suffice…no matter how much you are dying to know!  If you’re ever faced with such an awkward question: an easy answer is “Thank you, that’s a great question, I think it’s lovely as well”.

Are you running short on personalized stationery?  Please visit:  www.MannerMonday.PaperConcierge.com we have hundreds of styles and designs from which to choose.

Please visit my post ‘What is Manner Monday?’ to learn more about how to make the most of Manner Monday. Do you have a ‘manner’ you would like to see covered on Manner Monday?  Feel free to send me your thoughts.

And, of course, please share ‘Manner Monday’ with your friends and colleagues. If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive ‘Manner Monday’ in your inbox, please enter your email address in the ‘Subscribe to Newsletter’ box on the right.

Thank you for reading Manner Monday!

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Etiquette, Guest Blogger, Manner Monday, Manners

Jewelry Shopping Etiquette with Daniel Gordon

I asked friend and local jeweler, Daniel Gordon, to share some etiquette tips from his perspective to help make the most out of your trip to the jewelry store. I hope you enjoy his response:

Over the 15 years I’ve spent in the jewelry business at my family’s four-generation store in Oklahoma City, I’ve seen a lot and experienced many different types of interactions with thousands of clients. Some good, some leaving something to be desired. For the most part, the experience has brought me lifelong customers and even beyond into making true personal friendships. There is tried and true method to extract more value when shopping in any retail environment through simple steps of appropriate etiquette. As you might be shopping for jewelry or other gifts that require research and knowledge this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share what I’ve seen work to hopefully help you get the most out of your shopping experience.

Be A Friend
The better you treat your salesperson, the more likely it is that they will go the extra mile for you. I find that when shopping for any item in a retail environment, if you treat your salesperson just like you would your friends, you will maximize your chances of getting exactly what you want. In a world where we expect much more for much less, the simple act of being kind can go a long way towards getting you what you want. The secret to doing this is simple. Ask their opinion, listen to their answers, and consider some of their options. Once you do this, make it clear what you are looking for and make a final decision based on all of your information. In the end, you are far more likely to get what you want and also you just may learn a little bit more to help you make better buying decisions.

Communication
You always extract more value with more effective communication. I always recommend that buyers go in with all of their research and that you are upfront about what you’ve learned. It helps those of us behind the counter to understand which direction you are leaning towards and makes for a much better buyer/seller collaboration. The seller’s reaction to this should give you a pretty good idea on whether or not they are there to help or if they only see a commission. I find that if someone comes back to you with options, tries to educate you with valid documents to back up the information, and respects your opinions, you are on the right track. It’s human nature to not want to show our cards, but I find that in most cases this leap of faith will tell you if you should move forward or move on to another place of business.

Due Diligence
Before stepping foot in a jewelry store, make sure you research and list the places you want to go. Blindly popping in and shopping each and every place you’ve ever passed will only serve to frustrate you and is a far less efficient use of your time. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations, because no one will give you a better answer than those whom you already know and trust. Reviewing websites can be a nice repository of information, but take what you see with a grain of salt. Sites like Yelp and others can give you a good gauge, but one negative response is no reason not to give a local business a shot (several negative reviews is another story altogether). Once you’ve narrowed down your options, be sure to go in with an open mind, a clear picture of what you want and a smile on your face. I promise, it works every time!

Well, that’s about it: a base, and some guidelines that I have learned over the years that really will go a long way in your journey on finding that perfect item for the special occasion. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter, Facebook or by email info@samuelgordons.com. I love to answer questions and be of service whenever I can.

Love to hear your feedback in the comments section down below & Happy Valentine’s Day! Good Luck on your “Shopping Journey”.

Respectfully,
Daniel Gordon

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Etiquette, Guest Blogger, Manners

Workshop Etiquette

While ‘surfing the internet’ the other day, I stumbled upon this great blog post by Amber George, who lives in California.  I found it filled with great advice for workshop participants, from the organizers point-of-view.  Although her post is focused on art, I believe her advice can be applied to almost any ‘camp’ or ‘workshop’ experience.  I contacted Amber to ask if she would mind sharing her information as a guest blogger… and she happily agreed.  Please enjoy Amber’s post and feel free to leave comments for her here, or visit her website and thank her for sharing.

Enjoy Amber’s post:

… “I am getting ready to teach a two-day monotype workshop this weekend.  I have five students so it will be a nice small group, leaving me plenty of time to really help each person and maybe even pull a few prints myself.  I’ve taken dozens of workshops over the years along with leading workshops in a variety of subjects, and it occurred to me that there is an unspoken set of rules that apply to workshops that is seldom talked about.  So here’s what I think is important to keep in mind if you are taking a workshop, chime in if you think of one I miss.

1. Be on time, even 10 minutes early, but don’t be late.  Nothing is worse for me than feeling like that last student or two will walk in the door any minute, so I’ll hold off on starting. At some point I have to weigh starting without someone and wasting the time of the students who were on time.  Plus, once I am in the groove it’s hard to go back and catch someone up.

2. Don’t show up too early and expect to have the instructors undivided attention. This happens fairly often for me. I have students that show up 45 minutes before the start of the workshop, excited to start the workshop, filled with enthusiasm and I really appreciate the positivity. But honestly, I am trying to get everything in it’s place so that I can effectively teach and students have everything that they need to have a successful first day.  As much as I’d love to sit and chat, I can’t.

3. Be prepared to share.  In a workshop situation, I supply a generous quantity of what I think students will need and want but I don’t always have enough on hand for everyone to have one of everything.  Usually people end up sharing and while it’s not always a problem, if you are used to having something all to yourself, bring it. And if you have something that you’d like to share with others, you’ll earn the appreciation of your fellow students.

4. Be tolerant of other personalities. Every once in a while, someone comes to class and they don’t want to play nice. Whether they are pushy, bossy, politically incorrect or a slob, sometimes you have to look the other way. As an instructor, I try to deal with the offenders quietly and privately to see if I can moderate their behavior, for instance pointing out that their stuff is crowding someone else’s workspace. Grin and bear it if you can.

5. Label your personal things. I hate at the end of the workshop trying to figure out which brayer is mine and which is yours, and it happens more than you think. So mark your tools like scissors, brushes, x-actos and anything else that you bring so that we can tell them apart at the end of the workshop.

6. Avoid controversial topics. Try not to bring up issues that are controversial like politics and religion. While I find that most people that take workshops are open minded and well informed, you never know when someone in the room really believes that they were abducted by aliens, and they have the marks to prove it.  I am not saying be fake, just bear in mind that it can make it awkward to have these conversations go awry. And for the record, I neither believe nor disbelieve in alien abduction, just in case someone who took a ride on a space ship wants to take my workshops. wink.

7. Clean up after yourself. I know, this seems really silly to have to mention this to adults but it’s true.  Enough said.

Those are the things that I think a workshop participant should keep in mind when they take a workshop. I really love teaching workshops. I have developed friendships with many people who have taken my classes over the years. Teaching helps me be a better artist too, watching people create and solve problems, and as the Chinese proverb so wisely states, “When one teaches, two learn.” …”

Please visit Amber’s blog at www.ambergeorge.com

Amber’s Biography:

Amber George is a painter and printmaker. Her work is informed by her observations of nature.  Whether in her garden or on a sailboat, her eye is keen to search out shapes and patterns in nature. Growing up in California, she studied art from an early age.  She spent her summers around her family in the Midwest, where family vacations were spent camping, gardening, horseback riding in the Rockies and being outside.   She attributes these experiences to her profound love of nature and plants.

Amber George received her BA in Fine Art from UCLA in 1994 where she studied with some of the most notable contemporary artists in Los Angeles. Her work has received attention from writers and gallery owners alike. In 2008 she had a solo show, Roots and Branches, at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland Texas. Her painting Parasol Landscape was featured in the 2008 book Embracing Encaustic written by Linda Womack. She currently shows her work in galleries across the US.

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Etiquette, Guest Blogger, Manners