Monday, April 30, 2007

Love on a postcard

i love you (some more)
Originally uploaded by niznoz.
I was out of town a couple of weeks ago and my sweetie and a couple of the rug rats were left home. We have made it a tradition for me to send postcards home when I am away. It is fun to find postcards of the things I have been seeing and share that with the family back home.

Three postcards were purchased, addressed, stamped and sent at the same time. All were dropped into the same mailbox. You would therefore expect that the postcards would arrive home at the same time. You would be mistaken. The first arrived 3 days later. The second arrived the following day and the third two days after that. I wonder if the post office workers do that on purpose just to have a bit of fun.

I tell you that story to bring out the point: Let your sweetie know you are thinking about them even when you are not together. It is a very simple and effective way of bringing romance into a relationship. Some simple ideas:
* Send your sweetie a postcard, even if you are not out of town. You can send it to work or home.
* Send a greeting card with a hand written note. This can be a little more personal than the post card because the card is sealed in an envelope and now one but the addressee will read it.
* Hide some treats, notes or other personal items for your sweetie l in places where they will be found late. Hide it in their lunch, in a briefcase, under a pillow (treats need to go into a baggie), in the laundry soap, etc.

Do this soon and tell me what you did and how it turned out. If you have other ideas of simple surprises to let your sweetheart know they are being thought about, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is a great opportunity to spoil your sweetie. Try and think of something she would really enjoy. How about a note or even a video with the kids expressing their love and appreciation for all she does? For some other out of the ordinary gifts consider:
PajamaGram (Vermont Teddy Bear Company)Give her what she really wants this Mother's Day. Send her the gift of relaxation - a PajamaGram.
Personal CreationsPersonalized Gifts for Mom
Things RememberedMother's Day Top 10 from Things Remembered
Spa Finder, IncDay Spa Gift Certificate Offer

Monday, April 16, 2007

Phone Flirting

Fergus to Phone scale
Originally uploaded by belliebottom.
Consider body language. As humans, we think that most communication happens from mouth to ear. One speaks and the other listens. Reality is so much different. A lot of communication happens outside the spoken word. Through facial expressions, posture and position a lot is communicated. Am I bored, excited or interested? All of these are instantly communicated through body language.

Which makes conversing on the phone or the cell phone that much more difficult. There are currently some cell phone commercials that illustrate the point nicely. An employee is talking to the boss when all of a sudden the phone goes silent. Then the employee is left wondering: did I say something wrong? am I in trouble? Of course, in the commercial, the call was dropped. During a phone call you can't see how the person is reacting, making it more difficult to truly communicate.

Fours steps can be applied to any conversation and to phone conversations in particular. The steps are: ask, listen, follow up, show and tell. Each is a simple and natural part of human communication.


People love to talk about themselves. After all, we know a lot about the subject. Even if you are not an expert on anything else, you are the world authority on yourself. Asking someone about their life is a great way to get a conversation going and also to get to know the person better.

A good way of asking is to ask "open ended questions". These are questions that do not have a yes-no answer. A bad question is "Do you like your job?" while a good question is "Tell me about your job." Notice the difference. The first is a yes-no question. Yes, I like my job. No, I do not like my job. End of conversation.

The second is better. While both questions are asking basically the same thing, the second lets the listener know you want details. It encourages a detailed response or a story. Asking an open ended question shows that you are interested in the person.

It is ok to ask a yes-no question, as long as it is followed up by an open ended question.
  • Do you have a job? yes-no
  • Tell me about your job. open ended
What are some good questions to ask? The best questions to ask are related to the interests of the person: home, family, food, job, children, childhood memories, school, vacation, goals, interests and hobbies.

Talking on the phone makes some people uncomfortable. It is then easy to forget what you had wanted to say. For this reason, it would be a good idea to prepare a few questions beforehand. Before picking up the phone, pick up a pencil and write a few questions you want to ask. This way, you will be prepared even if you lose your train of thought.

Some good questions to ask to get people talking:
  • Tell me about your family.
  • If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be.
  • What was the best thing about being a kid?
  • What was one of your most embarrassing moments?
  • Do you have a hobby? How did you get started?
  • Tell me the most romantic thing that has every happened to you.
  • What are your talents?
  • What would you like to do but haven't been able to do?
  • If you were going to be stuck on a deserted isle, what 3 things would you take with you?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Where are you ticklish?
  • Tell me about your family traditions
  • What is your favorite meal?
Good questions include those that start with: Tell me about ..., How do you feel about ..., If you could ... By asking questions that show genuine interest, a person will be more willing to open up and talk. This is particularly true for people already in a relationship. We love it when our partners show a genuine interest in our lives.


Once a question is asked it is important to listen to the answer. Listening is not hearing, is is much more than that. Listening is not daydreaming and waiting for the speaker to take a breath. Listening is not thinking about what you are going to say next.

Listening is being an active listener. While your sweetheart is speaking, pay attention to what is being said. This would include removing any distractions such as turning of the television. Being an active listener is more important on the phone because all the non-verbal cues have been removed. Not only do you need to listen to the words, but also for the intent.

An active listener will respond to the speaker without interruption. Especially on the phone, your sweetheart will need to know that you are really listening. Respond with verbal cues like: "yes", "really?", "I didn't know that", "tell me more". These simple statements let the speaker know you are listening and are interested in what is being said.

Follow up

Once your sweetie has finished speaking on a subject it is time for you to follow up. This can be done in 3 ways: ask a follow-on question, ask another open-ended question (see step 1) or show and tell (see below). These three things will help to keep the conversation moving in a natural and pleasing way.

Asking a follow-up question is a great way to show interest and that your were really listening. A follow-up question is a question asked based on what was said earlier. For example, you asked about her family and she mentioned that her father is a bus driver. A good follow-up question might be: Your dad must see a lot of interesting people, tell me about them.

Follow-up questions allow you to show interest and keep the conversation going. They also let you know more about each other.

Show and Tell

Most people do not like to dominate a conversation. Your sweetie will also want to know details of your life as well. Be prepared to answer the questions you are asking. A great way to prepare is to have a story ready. Everyone likes to hear a story. When you are preparing your questions, also prepare a story to tell for each one. Try and make the stories be funny ones. Laughter is very romantic. This way you can also hold up your end of the conversation.

Cell phones have a camera. You can sending each other pictures and then talk about them. It is so easy to include your sweetie in whatever is going on, even when you are not able to be together. Some picture ideas:
  • Send a picture of yourself sad and say this is I how I feel when we are apart.
  • Send a picture of yourself smiling and say this is how you make me feel.
  • Send a picture of your lunch
  • Send a picture of the sunset
  • Take a picture of your sweetie and send it to them (if they are right next to you).

Following the four steps of ask, listen, follow up, and show and tell will help you overcome the barriers to communication that phones and cell phones create. These same principles apply to all sorts of electronic communication including email, instant messaging and texting.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Hope of Easter

In John 11:25 we read:
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

All of us have had love ones pass away. Death is an integral part of this mortal existence. When friends and family pass to the other side, we here left behind feel the void left in our own lives.

Easter reminds us that death is not permanent. That through the resurrection of Christ, all shall be made alive. This time of year then becomes a time of hope. To know that, though we are parted, we shall be reunited in the hereafter.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tell me a story

Grandma's Scrapbook Page 6
Originally uploaded by m0smith.
My youngest will say "Daddy, tell me a story". One of my favorites goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a girl named [insert child's name].

Daddy! No, it is Golidlocks.

Oh yes, Goldilocks.

and there were three bears. The mama bear cooks dinner but it is too hot so they go for a walk in the woods

la la la

[insert daughter's name] smells the food and goes into the house.


oh right, Goldilocks.

She tries the first bowl, too hot.
She tries the second bowl, too cold.
She tries the third bowl, and it s just right so she ate it all gone [make rude eating noises]

Then she wanted to sit down so
she tried the first chair, but it was too high.
she tried the second chair, but it was too low.
she tried the third chair, and it was just right ... but she broke it [crash]

The she was tired and
she tried the first bed, but it was too hard.
she tried the second bed, but it was too soft.
she tried the third bed, and it was just right ... so she went to sleep

[snoring noises]

Then the bears came home

Someone has been eating my food
Someone has been eating my food
Someone has been eating my food and its all gone

Someone has been sitting on my chair
Someone has been sitting on my chair
Someone has been sitting on my chair and they broke it [boo hoo]

Someone has been sleeping in my bead
Someone has been sleeping in my bead
Someone has been sleeping in my bead and they she is!

So the bears ate her. The end.


Stories are very important in human relationships. We tell stories to entertain, to teach and to inspire. Many cultures have maintained their history through stories called "oral traditions". Children are taught the stories of their ancestors by their parents. These stories give them a link with their culture.

Today, personal and family stories are being replaced by pop cultural entertainment: TV, video games, and movies. Through current technology, we are able to share in a global story. Movies, video games and TV can entertain, inspire and teach. But they are not personal.

While the media can tell a great story, it is important to keep our own oral traditions alive. The children love to hear stories of themselves, of their parents and their grandparents. Even though the story may not be as flashy as a movie, it is fun and important to hear. They love to hear the same stories repeated and play "Remember when".

Also, me and my sweetheart learn more about each other through these stories. Even after almost 2 decades of marriage, I still am learning things about my wife. It is a lot of fun.

Here is what you can do:
* Gather oral traditions for your family by asking you parents and grandparents about their childhood
* Make time to tell stories, like bedtime stories. Include your oral tradition some of the time
* Use vacation and other travel time to share your family stories

Do not worry that you are not a good story teller. It just takes a little practice and you will have a wonderful audience.

What's your story?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

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Just in time for Mother's Day or Easter, PajamaGram has a coupon code now through April 27, 2007 good for 10% off everything. Hundreds of sleepwear styles delivered in a beautiful hatbox.

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