Christmas Compliments to Your Loved Ones – The BEST Gift Ever

“Christmas Compliments” are something I have used in the past and when I do I find them to be the BEST gift ever! Why is that? Well, it can be very rewarding when you trade “Christmas Compliments” with your family members. Letting each other know what you like about each other can go a long way to building and strengthening relationships. Family life can feel stressful and hard at times, especially as a parent when you are setting limits and children are not always so happy with these necessary boundaries. Or maybe as a couple you are feeling like you are way to negative with each other.

christmas stockings

So I hope you will consider this holiday season a time to balance what you are putting out there with words of acknowledgement of what you like about your loved ones. There is more than one way to give each other Christmas Compliments. Some possible ways you might consider are:

  • Have each family member write out (or dictate to a parent to write) a compliment for all the other members of the family. They can be deposited in the Christmas stockings and read when stockings are opened on Christmas morning or at the appropriate time.  If your children still thinks Santa brings their gifts and fills their stockings you may want to choose another option. For example: Each family member could have a special Christmas tin where their compliments are left. This option would allow them to have a fun place to keep their compliments too. Having each person put their name with their compliments makes them more meaningful.
  • Family members can wrap up the compliments like a gift for each other or use envelopes to put their compliments in for each other.
  • Have each family member verbally give each of the other members a compliment at one of your holiday meals.
  • One variation is using the 12 days of Christmas theme and for twelve days before Christmas each person gives other members a compliment. The Christmas tin or a Christmas cup may work well with this variation. Of you could have a nightly dinner ritual where you verbally share your compliments.
  • Use your imagination and personal knowledge of your family in finding ways to modify and use this potential strategy to appreciate each other more.

It may be necessary to explain what you mean by a compliment. Older children will of course pretty much know what you are talking about, but younger ones may not be so sure. You will have your own words. Some possible things you might include are: A compliment is something you say to another person that makes them feel good. It can be something that you liked that they did or something you admired that they did. It is positive and not negative. It is something the other person will like hearing.

Note: This can also be done as a couple. It can be just as fun and uplifting.


Family (or Couple) Travel Game – Mutual Story Telling – Builds Communication and Cooperation

As parents we know that children (well, actually adults too) can just last so long in the car before they become bored. Here is a game that can be used as a family or as a couple.

Here are some of the benefits of the MUTUAL STORY TELLING GAME:

  • This is a communication game in which careful listening is required by all players.
  • It encourages creativity and using your imagination.
  • Working together as a group is critical to making this mutual story telling successful.
  • It is also a cooperation game opposed to a competitive game. This story telling builds on what each person says.
  • There is no technology involved,  just your family.
  • Potential joint problem solving.

The Mutual Story Telling Game

Equipment Needed: None

Ages: 4 years and up; This can be used as a family game or as a couple game.

1.  Explain to family members how the game works. Keep it simple and consider the developmental age of your children. The explanation could be something like the following :

“We are going to tell a story together. There is going to be a beginning, a middle and an end. One of us will start with  – Once upon a time ….. Then then after a sentence or two, the next person will take over the story and

add something to the story that goes with what the first person started and then the next person will add something else, etc.

2.  It is important to note there is no wrong or right way for the story to be told or created. It may be a silly, fantasy story or a more serious one.  Whatever the members what to create is the order of the day.  This is also something you can relay to the family so they know that this is fun with no specific expectations or wrong or rights. Note:  If, as a parent, if you are concerned with the direction of the story you can add in with your parts ways to balance and interject your thoughts without judging or correcting.

2.  One possibility is to have a designated end time set up in the beginning that everyone is aware of. The ages of your children and the interest level may help decide this or you can decide as a group. Five minutes can give everyone several turns and not extend it out so long that folks become bored. You can always choose to end early if you feel interest is being lost, by simply saying lets each take one more turn and have our ending. You want this to be a positive experience. Note: An alarm timer on your cell phone can be set as a neutral time-keeper and then when that goes off you can each have one final turn.

3.  As to ending the story, you can have the person who started it, end it OR you can have another family member end the story. Deciding in the beginning who will end will help alleviate arguments.  

4. If there is enough interest, you can take turns starting a story, creating additional family stories.

Special Note: You might consider “Recording the Story” as it is told to create a fun family memory. Many cell phones have an audio record device.

The important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process of CREATING SOMETHING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY!

family travel


This activity can be done as a couple also. This will probably work best when there is some time involved, like an out-of-town trip, when you have miles ahead of you. It also works best when you are both feeling a bit light-hearted and playful and feel like experimenting a bit. It can be a fun bantering kind of playful story that ping pongs back and forth. Give it a try and see what you think. You might consider setting a time limit, like 5 minutes or less if you are just trying it out. As mentioned above you can set an alarm to end your story, with each having one more turn after your timer goes off.

Here is to lots of fun mutual fun story telling as a family or as a couple!

couple traveling

Annual Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Show – Pawnee, OK – May 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2013 – Sort of like a Mini Branson Trip !

Okay guys. This is one is for you! Of course, this is for everyone – males, females, couples and families. There is a little bit of something for everyone. This is an annual Pawnee, OK event,  normally held the 1st weekend of May. A fun out-of-town trip, but not too far, into a small country town. The event is held at the Steam Park Grounds. Adults: $8. per day and $10. for 3-day pass. Children: 12 and under are FREE. 

English: Peerless Steam Threshing Engine in th...

English: Peerless Steam Threshing Engine in the gardens of Pawnee County Courthouse, Pawnee, Oklahoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Steam Engines
  • Saw Mill / Shingle Mill
  • Blacksmith
  • Cornmeal Grinding
  • Rock Crusher
  • Quilt Exhibit
  • Rope Making
  • Broom Making
  • Corn Husking
  • Food Booths
  • Old Time Threshing Lecture & Demonstration
  • Case Steam Plowing
  • Parade
  • Steam Engine Spark Show
  • Kiddie Tractor Pull
  • Steam & Tractor Games

For more details and schedule go to


Pawnee Bill Ranch & Museum

This is a 500 hundred acre ranch with a museum honoring Pawnee Bill. The ranch has the following to explore:

  • original Ranch blacksmith shop
  • 1903 log cabin
  • Large barn built in 1926
  • Indian Flower Shrine
  • Bison and Buffalo

Ck their website:  for details on admission price and schedule.

Special Note: The last three Saturdays in June there are Wild West Shows performed re-creating the original Wild West Shows.

Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum

Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Creating a Romantic Picnic in the Park


It is Spring Time and the flowers are blooming and the grass is green. It  is a time of the year when it is not too hot and not too cold, for the most part. Of course, living in OK you never really know! In general a perfect backdrop for a romantic picnic in the park. One of the other upsides is that it is FREE.


1. Consider WHICH park you choose for your romantic adventure.

The ones that would be most conducive to romance might be ones that:

  • Are large enough that you can separate yourselves from playground areas that have lots of active children.
  • Have the least road noise
  • Are the most aesthetically pleasing – flower gardens, ponds, etc.
  • Potentially less frequented

2. Think about WHEN to have your picnic. 

  • Possibly choosing a less frequented time.
  • Or think about which day you go. If you have some flexibility this will offer you even more privacy.
  • Consider a breakfast picnic or an evening picnic.
  • A quick, sweet meet in the park during the week at lunch can be novel and fun and send the message to each other that you can take a quick breather with your sack lunch to be with your honey. Of course this means choosing a park that is close to work.  This short burst of time together can be uplifting and help to keep you connected.

3. What to Bring

  • An old blanket to spread out and lay on if you like. 
  • Your favorite picnic foods. But “no worries” if you don’t have time to cook. Stop at your favorite restaurant and take their food the park.
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes to be able to fully relax and walk and explore.

4. What Not to Bring

  • Your cell phone (or turn them on silent to preserve the mood)
  • Your lap top
  • Your paper work
  • Your children
  • Your friends
  • Your problems and issues

5. What to Do

  • Talk
  • Sit and enjoy your surroundings together
  • Feed each other
  • Hold hands
  • Talk a walk around the park together
  • Take pictures of each other or have someone take a picture of the two of you to remember your special time together

Currently in April in OK the azaleas are in bloom, but as you know not for long. Woodward Park in Tulsa has one of the prettiest shows in town and then Muskogee’s Honors Park has a very large display of them. But there are of course beautiful flowers throughout the spring and summer. Plus, fall is a beautiful time for a picnic too.

A listing of Tulsa, OK  parks and their addresses can be located through the following website: . Click into Parks and Places. You will not only find Tulsa’s parks, but other neighboring OK towns: Catoosa, Bixby, Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Owasso and Sand Springs.

Hope you have a wonderful picnic, just you and your honey!


Fun Family Picnics in the Park

family picnic

Children love the park. The wide open spaces to run and jump and be active. It is a wonderful place to connect as a family. Children are normally up to go to the park. Plus,  you add food and it is a winner for a family activity. I would like to offer ideas to consider for making this a time that families can connect and find this fun and rewarding.

Putting the “FUN & CONNECTION” in Your Family Picnic

  1. Plan together as to where you will go and when. Plus, what you will take and do when you are there. This extra piece of planning together as a family is connecting and it helps with everyone buying into going. Another possibility is to let each family member have a turn at choosing a park to go to opposed to jointly deciding. This would of course mean that you can plan enough picnics to accommodate all the family members.
  2. Have everyone in the family make or help make a food item to take to the picnic. Contributing is rewarding and can help each family member feel valuable no matter how small.
  3. You might consider everyone choosing an item they want to take to the park – toys or pieces of equipment or materials they wish to bring for fun. Examples: Balls, Frisbees, Sidewalk Chalk, Bubbles, etc.
  4. Have a “technology free” day. Cell phones can be silenced and texting, emailing, etc can be put on hold during your outing. Yes, you may get a few grumbles, but families can be in charge of technology and how it affects their family. Letting your technology have a rest, while you connect face to face is a good thing! Letting everyone know ahead of time can be helpful and it can also offer you the opportunity to explain why – that you want to be truly WITH everyone face to face and without the interruptions of the outside world.
  5. As parents attempting to give all the children a bit of your full attention and focus. It can be quite a balancing act, but worth the effort.
  6. Consider ending the time together as you travel home with everyone reflecting on their favorite parts of the picnic.  This can highlight the good parts of the family activity. Of course there will be hick ups and this is a way to keep focus on the successful parts of the trip.

Check out  if you need help locating parks in Tulsa, OK. This site also has the park sites for the surrounding OK towns of Catoosa, Bixby, Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Owasso and Sand Springs.

You might also want to visit the Tulsa County Parks website: .  This has information on the major Parks and Centers, Special Events, Activities, Maps and Reservations.

Hope you have lots of fun family picnics this spring, summer and fall!

family on slide

Can Technology Hurt Your Relationships?


How to balance our technology and our relationships is a complex issue. I feel it is one that is worthy of exploring and contemplating for all of us. As a therapist I see some of the issues that arise for couples and families in regard to technology. My post today is just to encourage us to think about our technology and how it might affect our relationships. This includes both family and couple relationships.

We live in a technology driven world and my guess is that it will continue to be more so in the future. So for me it is about trying to find  BALANCE and MINDFULNESS to use technology wisely. We all have a choice as to when and how we use our technology. 

Some of my concerns revolve around when we choose to use our technology so heavily that we are not interacting with our children or spouses or partners in a way that is needed to stay connected. It is ironic that technology is so many times today associated with social connection.  But with parents saying their children are spending all their time on Facebook or texting and couples expressing the same concern about each other, it raises questions about balance and limits and healthy relationship boundaries. So ….  let us all remember that we have a choice if we take a call, respond to a text or Facebook. We can decide how much time to spend on these activities and the many other technological activities we participate in …. surfing the net, watching endless TV, etc.

Yes, technology can bring us together when used wisely and thoughtfully.  So won’t you join me in this journey to find ways to use our technology with thoughtfulness and care to protect what is most important to us – Our Relationships.  


Plant a Mini Garden Together


It is that time of year – lots of green, growing things popping up everywhere. It can be so therapeutic to be a part of this process. Coming together as a couple or as a family and deciding what you want to plant and doing it together is a fun ongoing spring and summer project.  Getting your hands in the soil planting and caring for your mini garden as a couple or family is therapeutic by nature. Then experiencing eating the food you have grown together is so rewarding.

This mini garden can be done in a variety of ways. It can be done in one big container or in a couple of containers – flower pots or a half whiskey barrel. etc. The other possibility is to use some of your flower beds.

Some possibilities are:

Herb Garden – Everyone gets to pick out a herb seedling or two or how every many you have room for. You will find many of these are perennial.

Tomato Garden – Each person choose their own variety of tomato plant to create a mini tomato garden.

Salad Garden – Everyone chooses one or two things that they want for their future summer salads.

Mini Garden with Your Favorites – Everyone picks out their favorite veggie or herb to grow.

Gardening Community Resources:

Tulsa Garden Center –

OSU Oklahoma Gardening –

Tulsa County Extension Department –

Here is to a successful mini garden with lots of fun time grubbing in the dirt together!

Sand Springs Herbal Affair and Festival – April 20, 2013


Sand Springs Herbal Affair & Festival

April 20, 2013 (Saturday), 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Downtown Sand Springs near Broadway & Main Street

This is year number 24 that this event has been hosted in Sand Springs. It is FREE to the public. 100 vendors with herbs, perennials, natives, heirloom plants, herbal products, gardening supplies and folk art will be in attendance. Plus, lots of food of course.  Trolley tours of Sand Springs start at the Charles Page High School. A full schedule of entertainment is planned.

Check out the Children’s Tent with FREE games and inflatables to jump on!

This could be a fun outing for either couples or families. This is especially fitting if there is a strong interest in creating a mini herb garden together.

For more information you can check this link: