Saturday, May 12, 2018

DIY Wine Tasting

Wedding planning has been a little stressful at times but it's also been a lot fun!! I think one of the funnest things we've done so far was a Wine Tasting Night!! We asked all of our friends/family for cheap wine recommendations (cheap meaning around/under $10). We received a list of about 25 wines, but we knew we couldn't sample 25 wines!! We decided to use the Vivino Wine App to help us narrow down the recommendations.  

We came up with the following ten wines for our wine tasting night:
Carnivor (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Fall Creek (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Ravage (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Frontera (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Becker (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Menage et Trois (Red Blend)
Apothic (Red Blend)
Woodbridge (Red Blend)
19 Crimes (Red Blend)
14 Hands (Red Blend)

For the setup: We bought some burlap wine bags on Amazon for about $15 (link here). I used my lovely cricut to add some numbers to the bags, but you could just get iron on numbers from the craft store. I also made some scoring cards, which you can download here for free. 

How it works: Everyone gets a scoring card and a marker/pen. As the wines are being sampled, everyone ranks the wine on a 1 to 5 scale (5 meaning they loved it). We then asked everyone to pick their top wines, tallied the results, and the winning wine will be served at our wedding!! 

We had so much doing this!! It was such a relaxing evening just talking with family and sampling wine...can't go wrong with that!! So...which wine had the most votes??  I guess you'll just have to wait and see at the's just 50 days away!!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Power of Reflection and Silence

As we begin to talk about grief I want to emphasize one thing...never underestimate the power of reflection and the power of silence. As counselors we're taught a hundred different techniques...we're trained in special theories and we feel like to be the best counselor we have to use these higher level techniques. very different though. Whenever people talk about death/grief you frequently hear people say "well I don't know what to say to them??"  The reality is nothing you say is going to make it better...there is no magical statement. Stop looking for doesn't exist!!  So what do you do?? How do you comfort a friend struggling with the loss of a child?? How do you comfort your spouse dealing with the loss of a parent?? How do you counsel clients who are grieving the loss of a loved one??

The listen, you reflect, and you remain silent.

That's it...that's the listen, you reflect, and you remain silent.

Let's talk about the power of reflection and silence a little bit more....

A few weeks ago I asked one of my kiddos "What do you enjoy about counseling?" and they responded "I like that thing you do...where I tell you everything and then you say it back to me in a different way. That's why I keep coming to meet with you."  I was shocked!! Completely and totally shocked!! I wanted to say "Are you serious??? That's it?? You want me to reflect??? What about all these special art therapy techniques I've been using?? What about that new CBT activity we've been practicing?? I didn't need any of that?? You just want me to reflect??? AAAAHHHH!!!!!" Now I should say I firmly believe the higher level techniques are important and led to my clients growth...but it was a major wake up call about the power of reflection!! Such a simple and easy technique that I had forgotten about. Not that I had forgotten how to reflect (clearly I was reflecting) it was more that I had forgotten how powerful reflecting can be for our clients!!

Reflecting lets our clients know that they've been heard, it gives them words to describe their feelings, and let's them know that someone understands them.  This simple "low level" technique is so powerful to someone who is grieving. It helps them process their web of emotions and helps them organize their thoughts.

When you talk to someone who is grieving it may feel awkward to just reflect. You may feel like reflecting is "obvious" or "leads to an awkward silence".  The truth is talking about death and grief is awkward and it does lead to an awkward silence...but it's only awkward for you. If the other person is talking about it then that means they're ready to talk and they need you to listen. Remember to listen, reflect, and when that awkward silence comes...just let it be...because now comes the power of silence.

So what is this power of silence concept?? In college you probably read about the power of silence...but have you tried it yet?? Have you challenged yourself as a counselor and learned that silence is a powerful tool??

If you aren't familiar with the power of silence...I challenge you to try it this week!! Right after you've reflected or brought up a challenging concept with a client...just be silent.  And when you want to end the silence...wait just a little bit longer and see what happens.

Silence can feel awkward...but again it's only awkward for you.  Silence allows a grieving person to think about the situation and process things. The first phase of grief is shock and shocked people need time to think and process everything.  So while the silence may be driving you crazy....remember the silence is giving the other person time to process and think about everything.

The power of reflection and the power of silence...two simple tools that can work wonders in your counseling practice. Even if you aren't doing grief counseling...I challenge you to focus on these two concepts this week...go back to the basics for a bit and see what happens.

And for those of you who are intimidated by grief counseling...grief will walk into your office when you least expect it. You'll be sitting there wishing that you'd paid more attention in college and that you'd gotten a large coffee at starbucks that morning. Don't worry though...because all you need to do is listen, reflect, and be silent.

Check back next week for some grief resources for counselors, families, and teachers!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Starting a Grief Group word, five letters, and a hundred different emotions. When I first became a counselor there were certain topics that intimidated me...grief was definitely one of them.

Grief is so do we help someone see the light when they feel surrounded by darkness?? How do we help individuals struggling with survivals guilt??  How do we help individuals who have lost their support system??

Now take all of that and think about how to handle grief in children. How do we help children with this concept of death?? How do we help children feel safe again?? How do we help children define these new emotions and learn to cope in a positive way??

So yes I had a ton of insecurities about counseling grief in children....and I don't think I'm the only counselor who struggles with that insecurity.

Well this year I was forced to get over that insecurity. On the first day of school a student approached me and told me about the loss of her brother. A few weeks later I got a phone call about an accident involving one of our student's parents. At first I tried to do the typical grief activities...but I just felt like it wasn't reaching them the way I wanted.  I assumed it was my lack of experience with grief and reached out to some community resources. I reached out to a local grief counselor who met with our students...but after a few weeks I realized that wasn't working either.

So I started reading...and reading...and reading some more. After all of my reading, I came to the conclusion that a grief group was the answer. I always knew grief groups were powerful but leading a grief group?? I'm supposed to help multiple children with grief at the same time!?!?!? AH!!! Okay...okay...have your little freak out moment and then you're just gonna have to build a bridge and get over it!! Because at the end of the day...a grief group is exactly what kids need. They need to grieve together and learn that they're not alone in their struggles.  Children feel isolated in their grief. Their friends don't understand grief and their parents are in too much pain to talk about the they're left alone in their struggles.

So as a counselor...where do you start??

Step one...start with selecting individuals. Do you have enough students for a grief group??  What age do you want?? Do you want it to be just boys?? just girls?? both both and girls?? Do you want the loss to be recent (within the past year or two)?? Does the loss have to be within the immediate family or extended family/friends?

If you can't come up with enough students for your group, then ask the teachers if they can think of any other students.

For my group the only requirement I had was that the loss had to be within the immediate family. I had a few 6th graders, a few 7th graders, and a few 8th graders. Half of my group had experienced loss within the past 6 months, the other half had experienced loss 3-7 years ago. I didn't have a requirement on gender, but it ended up being just girls.

Step two...come up with a name. I called our group "The Roller Coasters Group" because grief can be like a roller coaster. It can go up and down, it can go for loops and turns, and it can be a complete mess sometimes.

Step three...start planning.  Groups require lots of get started!! But don't spend 4 weeks planning...get a few good ideas and then just go with it!! I'll be posting all of my resources/activities here on the check back for updates.

Step four...send your invites and parent permission forms.

Step five...just dive in!!

My group lasted about 15 weeks...and it was probably one of the most impactful things I've done as a counselor. I LOVED it!! Every week I looked forward to it!! Yes...I looked forward to grief group!! Someone came to observe my grief group once and at the end they asked how I didn't cry listening to their stories. My response "I'm on fire right now!! You have no idea how excited I am!!! want to jump for joy!!! Because during every session I can see growth...I can see counseling working!! I can see them connecting, growing, and moving forward!! It's amazing!!!"

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graduation is Coming Up

College graduation season is just around the corner...which means it's time for college grads to start "adulting"!! Yes that's right...they'll officially enter the real world and become an adult. 

So...what should you do with these last few weeks of freedom?? How can you use this time to help you be more prepared for adulting?? Here are some helpful tips about the weeks leading up to graduation:
  • Update your resume!! Update your resume for your job search and to give yourself a little esteem boost...after all it is a whole page dedicated to your awesomeness!!  Here are some really good tips for creating/updating a resume:
  • Buy a suit!! You never know when you'll get a call for an prepared!! Not all jobs require you to interview in a suit...but it seriously can't hurt. Plus it gives you a little more self confidence walking in. 
  • Buy an official briefcase/portfolio!! You might not have anything in it other than your resume but at least you look professional. My portfolio helps me feel prepared and more confident when I enter the room...sounds silly but it's true.
  • Don't stress to much about finding a job after college. No one expects you to have a job lined up for the day after graduation...besides you have enough on your plate.
  • Have a back up plan!! I got a job at Payless for a few months until I had things figured out. It didn't bother me at all because I knew it was temporary and that a good job would come along. Just don't let your back up plan last a's supposed to be temporary not long term. 
  • Pick up some extra transcripts. I was surprised by how many places wanted to see my get a few ordered just in case. You can get them after graduation but for some reason it's more complicated. 
  • Take some fun graduation pictures!! Grab some friends, a camera, and enjoy!!
  • Plan some time with your friends!! In a few weeks people will be moving to their new jobs or back enjoy the time you have left together.
  • Create a list of all of the things you're going to miss about college...and do them all one last time!! It's a great way to end your college years!!
I saved the best tip for last: You've spent the past 20-25 years in basically you became a professional student!! kicked butt at studying, turning assignments in on time, time management, group assignments, writing papers, completing projects, etc. But now you are entering an entirely new field. You will no longer be at the will no longer be considered an "expert". You will now become the a new a new world. You will have to relearn everything about this new phase of life...but that's okay. Just be prepared for change, keep your head up, take care of yourself, and keep working hard. You will get to the top of this new field in time...just be patient!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Neil and I picked out our wedding party pretty quickly...but 6 months later Neil still hadn't mentioned anything to his groomsmen....hahaha.  At first Neil wasn't interested in my "crafty" ideas...but then when I showed him my ideas he was are actually pretty cool!! So we spent an evening looking at funny cards and picking out the little bottle opener.  He did a pretty good job...he even wrote a hand written note with them!! 

We purchased the cards on Etsy here and the engraved bottle openers here

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bridesmaid Box

Should you do a "Will You Be My Bridesmaid" box OR is it a waste of money??

Well if I'm being honest it's probably a waste of money....but it's fun putting it together!! And it's the thought that counts right??

I absolutely LOVED putting my "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?" boxes together!!! I started with pinterest (of course) and listed all of the items I liked on my phone. Then whenever I was out running errands if I saw a good deal on one of the items I'd grab it. 

Here's what I ended up putting together:

My boxes included: 
$9 Tumbler from Walmart ($11 from Amazon)
$3 White Photo Box
$2 Bridesmaid DVD (Black Friday Deal)
$2 Initial Necklace (see details below)
$1 Hand Sanitizer (Bath & Body Works Sale)
50 cent Hair Ties (VS Outlet Sale)
Will You Be My Bridesmaid Card (not in photo but here's the Etsy link)
Free Color Swatches from Home Depot

You're probably wondering what I used the color swatches for...well I used them to show my girls the color scheme for the big day!! Which is funny looking at it now because we're not doing pink anymore...hahaha

If you decide to do bridesmaids boxes, then I suggest setting a budget and learning to get a little thrifty. For example...I created these $2 initial necklaces using a chain from the sales rack at a local jewelry store and an initial jewel from Hobby Lobby. Definitely cheaper than personalized necklaces from Etsy!! Think thrifty!! These little boxes can get expensive really fast!!

Here are some other awesome ideas for your boxes:
EOS Pink Lipbalm
Pink Nail Polish
Starbucks Coffee
Gold/Pink Chocolate
Rose (real or fake)
Mini Wine Bottles

I would have loved to put everything in my boxes but it's important to stick to your budget!! 

So back to the original question...should you do a "Will You Be My Bridesmaid" box or is it a waste of money? Yes it's probably a waste of money but it's fun!! So if you only have a few bridesmaids, your thrifty with your money, and you can do it for a reasonable price...then why not?? It's nice to treat your friends every once and a while!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flower Girl

Will you be my Flower Girl?!?!?! 

I remember being a flower girl when I was young!! I was a flower girl in a few family weddings and it was ssoo much fun!! 

Ah flower girl memories... I remember learning to dance to the Macarena and dancing my little heart out!! I remember tapping my glass so the bride and groom would kiss!! I would tap my glass so much that my mom would tell me to stop...hahaha...but I thought it was so cool that an entire room would tap their glass and cheer as the couple kissed!! I remember trying to catch the bouquet...I remember making a video for the bride and groom...I remember eating yummy cake...I remember making a tunnel for the send off...I just have so many great flower girl memories!!

I also remember the dresses I wore and the gifts my Aunts gave me. Aunt Krista gave me the Aladdin VHS and Aunt Cindy gave me a Barbie dressed up as a beautiful bride!!  Oh....Barbie!! haha...anyway here's what I put in my Flower Girl Box:

$1 Pink Bottle from Dollar Tree (added her name using my Cricut)
Flower Girl Card (purchased a set from Etsy)
$2 Pink Bag from Hobby Lobby (use 40% off coupon)
Markers (not in photo)

I can't wait to pick out her dress and help her make some flower girl memories!!