Monday, December 26, 2011


Getting kids to write thank you notes isn’t always easy. They procrastinate, make excuses and ultimately parents end up having to force their little darlings to do the right thing. Well, guess what? It’s easier than that. The trick is to tap into your child’s personality and or talents. Here are 20 ideas that will have your child not only willing to send out thank you’s but, wanting to as well.

Create a Video. (the entire show need only be 5 minutes or less. Get Mom, Dad or a sibling behind the camera then e-mail or post to Aunt Annies' facebook page).
1. Kids can dress up, use props and act out a thank you skit.
2. Kids can sing a thank you song (little ones can use the Happy Birthday tune),
3. Play an instrument (doesn’t have to be well it just has to say “thank you“ somehow).
4. Perform a puppet show using stuffed animals, dolls, toy, props.
5. Perform a “thank you” dance

Capture the sentiment in pictures

1. Kids can spell out “thank you” with rocks, sticks, leaves and other backyard treasures.
2. Take photos of your child playing with her new toy then let her make a collage.
3. Let the child get behind the camera and shoot a “thank you” photo.
4. Cut out pictures from old magazines to make a unique card.
5. Create a pretend newspaper article with captioned photo image. “Awesome Grandma gives the perfect gift!”

Put it on paper:

1. Write a poem. It can be “roses are red, violets are blue…”
2. Draw a colorful “thank you” on a puzzle card ($1.50 at craft stores). Disassemble it and send out for the receiver to put back together.
3. Draw a maze leading to the word “Thank you”.
4. Draw, paint or color a picture.
5. Write “thank you” vertically on a lined piece of paper. Then use each letter to say something nice about the gift or person.

Cook something up:

1. Decorate cookies to spell out thank you.
2. Create a thank you “recipe” (one cup of gratitude, dash of surprise etc.)
3. Make brownies or treats, wrap in cellophane tied with a handmade thank you tag.

Use Technology:

1. Skpe a thank you
2. Use fun fonts, paint and draw applications, borders etc. to make a fun computer generated card.

And, of course, if your child is willing, there's always the old fashioned thank you note.
Tell us what your children do to say "thank you."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Better Not Pout...

photo from

When your child doesn’t get her way does she cross her arms, squint her eyes, scrunch her face then sink abruptly into a slump?

Ugh! Don’t you just want to say “.. I hope Santa doesn’t find out or you’re gonna be in trouble!“ Say the last part kind of singing and she might just look around nervously and collect herself into a model of cooperation.

Well, I’ve decided I am going to experiment with embracing the pout. After all, we’re Americans. We perfected the pout. In fact, this whole idea came to me the other night watching the news. A group of protesters were sitting in front of a government building bobbing signs telling everyone why they were unhappy.  Passers-by sometimes commented in favor of or against their cause, but as long as they were not breaking any laws, nobody sent the pouters to their rooms or took away their TV time.

That's when it occurred to me to turn the whole "you better not pout" song up-side-down.  I got so excited at the possibilities here that I almost wanted my child to pout.   What if we allowed children to pout or more specifically to air their grievances in writing or drawing in the form of  "pouting posters".  They would take a piece of paper and draw or write how they feel.  Maybe it would be, “I wanted the blue one," or "I don’t like my sister ’cause she won at Go Fish," or even, “mom‘s unfair”. We could even  help them tape the pouting poster to a stick and show them how to bob the sign meaningfully. No Santa threats, no lost privileges, just freedom of expression. It may or may not not change why the pouters are pouting, but they will get a chance to make their feelings known. They might even get so busy creating their signs that they forget all about  pouting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying pouting should be encouraged. Many kids don’t pout and are thoroughly annoyed when others do it. But, I guess if I had to choose between whining, a tantrum, swinging arms, or a pout I would choose the pout. Besides they’re going to learn sooner or later that pouting is protected under the United States Constitution (kind of?). So, I say, in the spirit of an American tradition, don't suppress the pout, experiment with it as an opportunity for your child to express herself”  Free printable  "pouting posters"  at then go to freebies

Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Interview with Santa Claus reveals that neat handwriting and good manners count!

Interview with Santa Claus
photo courtesy of
 This edited article is from 

Reached by phone at his workshop at the North Pole, St. Nicholas, commonly known as Santa Claus, gave an exclusive interview to the Journal & Courier Wednesday afternoon.

J&C: Good afternoon, Mr. Claus.
SC: Call me Santa. Everyone does.

J&C: You are probably aware of this, but thousands of children are preparing letters to you and our local postal carriers will collect them and make sure you receive them in time for Christmas.

SC: I'm so pleased. Mrs. Claus and I love to receive mail and I read a big stack of letters every night after we have dinner.

J&C: Santa, on behalf of the schoolchildren down here, could you please provide some tips on writing an effective letter to you?
SC: I'd be honored. It's important to ask kids to take their time and use your their best handwriting or printing. My eyesight isn't what it used to be, so make sure your letter is nice and clear.

J&C: Do some kids type their letters on a computer?
SC: Absolutely.

J&C: Does correct spelling matter?
SC: Well, I always like to see older children using proper spelling. It shows me that they are working hard on their weekly spelling words at school. But I know younger children sometimes spell words the best they can. I've read so many letters through the years I can usually figure things out.

J&C: What else is important to remember?
SC: The two magic words: please and thank you. It makes me so happy when I receive polite letters. Did you know that some children even write me thank-you notes after Christmas? Mrs. Claus has a number of them posted on the refrigerator with magnets.

J&C: Do you ever get letters from children who ask for things for other family members, not themselves?
SC: All the time. There are millions of children around the world who are very concerned about the people they love. I always enjoy hearing from them.

J&C: There are lots and lots of good kids down here who have been behaving well at home and at school.
SC: I know! Too many to mention, but, look I've only got time for one more question before I have to get back to toy-making. We're working on Lincoln Logs, Barbies and bikes today.

J&C: Will you be making some guest appearances  before Christmas?
SC: Oh yes! I really enjoy seeing the children so I always try to make time to do that.  Ho, Ho, Ho!

J&C: Thanks for your time, Santa.
SC: Your welcome. Tell the kids to keep those cards and letters coming!

I wonder if Santa will be handing out any Table Manners Cards?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Golly Gee-pers Joins Campaign To Raise Money For Our Schools

Moms Helping Schools 
About Us
Moms Helping Schools™ is a special place to shop!

Moms Helping Schools (MHS) is more than just a school fundraising platform. MHS was founded because we, as mothers, care about “our” collective children’s education. We also care about helping moms and women entrepreneurs start and succeed with their businesses. 
School budgets have been cut and our teachers, administrators and most importantly our children are directly impacted by this. One thing we see again and again is that parents, grandparents and caregivers tend to step in and do everything they can to fill in the gaps.
The purpose of the Moms Helping Schools program is to provide a new revenue stream for schools nationwide. When you proceed to checkout at, 40% of the total purchase will go direclty to the school or education foundation of your choice. These great products -- that your family will love -- will be shipped directly to your home for your convenience.
Where does the money go?
  • We give 40% of product sales directly to the school;
  • We pay the small business owner her wholesale price; and...
  • We use what is left over to administer the Moms Helping Schools program (including: warehousing, fulfillment, marketing, school outreach, public relations, product management and bookkeeping).
* We are deliberately giving away more than we make. 

To purchase a Moms Helping Schools Product go to

Monday, November 21, 2011

Table Manners Cards Get Some Air time


Phil talks to Staci Ericson, creator of Golly Gee-Pers and Dr. Travis Stork physician and co-host of “The Doctors

What is it like to be a guest on a radio show? I found out this past Saturday when I was invited to be on the popular national radio show Good Day with Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert and co-host Doug Stephan.

Because the show is live and goes on the air at 8:15 Eastern time, I had to wake up at 4:30am Pacific time. I consumed a couple cups of coffee to shake off the cobwebs,although I'm not sure it did much for my nerves. I then sat patiently in my robe and slippers waiting for the producer to call. When the call time came and went I started to worry. I checked my landline and my cell to make sure they were both charged. They were. I then rechecked the scheduled time; that was right too. Perhaps three minutes is too soon to panic, I decided. Just then the phone rang. It was the producer, Michael, "you're on in 90 seconds"

Phil Lempert is one of the country's leading consumer advocates when it comes to food and nutrition. He is also the Food Trend Editor for the Today Show and ABC News Now. Co-host Doug Stephan is one of the top talk radio hosts in the country with over 3.75 million listeners every week. This was big time. After the catchy intro song, "Eat Your Food; Don't Wear it" faded, I was introduced. Much to my dismay I discovered that I had a sleepy frog in my throat that continued to stay with me throughout the interview. On the other hand, Phil and Doug had both obviously done their homework, knew my product and my backstory and made it delightfully easy to talk about Golly Gee-pers! I have to say, but for their clever prompting and warm personalities I would have been a deer caught in the headlights. I managed to make most of my points with one grave exception. I never once mentioned that my game had just won two awards. Ouch! Then, just as I was starting to get the hang of the radio conversation thing, our time was up. Truthfully, I was relieved. I shuffled off in my robe and slippers back to bed hoping I hadn't just ruined any chance of my product really taking off.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I summoned up the courage to listen to the the tape of the show.

If you would like to hear what all this agony has been about feel free to click on the link and go to the archive for November 19, 2011. My interview begins about 16 minutes and 30 seconds into the show.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elderly Etiquette Reminders for Children

It’s that time of year when family and friends gather for holiday meals. Since few elderly live with children these days, it might be a good time to review how kids should engage with and treat their elders.

1. Show Respect:  Children may need to have the term 
    “respect” qualified.  Children can show respect by….

    - greeting elders and exchanging a few polite words:
      "Hi, Uncle Fred, it’s nice to see you.”

    - using proper titles of Mr., Mrs., etc. Children may know how 
      to address Grandma and Uncle, but what about the 70 year
      old neighbor that you call "Joe" or "Sandy"  

    - stepping up to assist in someway,
      “can I hold the door/take your jacket?”

2. Safety
    Remind kids to..
    - pick up any toys or belongings the elderly might trip over

    - be patient. Don’t try to squeeze past the elderly when stuck behind them in the hall
    - not run or horse play near where an elderly person it standing.

3. Kindness
    - The elderly might not be able to hear/understand what children are trying to say, so it
      might be nice to share an idea through a drawing or by coloring a picture.

    - If the older person has difficulty with mobility, children can offer them something to
      drink and/or deliver hors d’oeuvre etc..

4. Fun
    Bring generation gaps together by..

    - playing a simple game such as cards or checkers

    - deomonstrating a magic trick,  reciting a poem or singing a song.

5. Enough is enough
   - Remind kids that the elderly might not like excessive or prolonged activity around

   - Allow the elderly time to speak with other adults without interruption

   - Take loud or rambunctious activities outside or to another room

Most importantly we should convey to our children the value of our elderly. They should be put on a pedestal and appreciated for their knowledge, life experience and wisdom. After all, we will all be there one day too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Handle Bar Toys Looks Boo! tiful

Handle Bar Toys in Lafayette Ca. is decorated to the hilt for this year's Halloween.   I'll be there Saturday 10/29 from 11:00-1:00pm to demo the Golly Gee-pers! Table Manners Card game, answer questions and hand out trick-or-treat thank you pages.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Newsday Gets it! Golly Gee-pers and Others Featured

Help your kids give on Halloween
No doubt about it, Halloween is a "gimme-gimme" holiday: Knock on door, hold out bag, collect candy, repeat. But some people have found ways to turn Halloween around, making it a time of giving ...,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Concerned about the amount of paper in the Polite Trick-or-Treater Campaign?

(image from all

We received some concern about recommending paper thank you notes for our Polite Trick-or-Treater campaign. We love our Mother Earth too and want you to know that each print has six thank you notes per page which of course can be recycled. Most of us are aware of a few houses in the neighborhood where the special thank you notes would be appreciated and it’s unlikely that children are going to want to sign as many notes as houses they will visit.
Why not just teach our kids to say “thank you?”

The purpose of this campaign is two fold. First, as an interactive aid in teaching children to say thank you, not as a knee jerk reaction, but as a genuine feeling. Most young children enjoy giving as much as receiving and will embrace the effort. Second, the campaign is intended to foster good feelings between adults and young people. Older folks often lament that kids are not as respectful as they were in “their” day.
We hope that the Polite Trick-or-Treater campaign will help children connect in a favorable way with their community and practice an important social skill in the process.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


cartoon courtsey of

Thank you all for the feedback on this question.  HERE'S WHAT YOU SAID:

If it’s a very nice restaurant most people agreed that fussy infants and babies should be left at home. The reason being that diners have an expectation of and feel entitled to an undisturbed dining experience.

There was some empathy, however for parents who might have been caught in a baby sitting lurch and rather than forgo a special event decide to muster up the courage and patience to go out anyway. In this case diners were willing to overlook the intrusion as long as it was understood that a crying or disruptive baby should be promptly removed from within ear shot (or food shot) of their neighboring diners.

When it came to children there was much more debate. Some said it depended on the number of children while others thought it depended on their disposition. Still others felt fancy restaurant dining should be off limits to children under 10 years old, regardless!

1. If you must take a baby or a toddler to a fancy restaurant be prepared to promptly remove the little darling if she becomes fussy enough to disturb your dining neighbors. To be fair, Mom and Dad should take turns. If you do, people might notice and compliment your team work rather than begrudge your crying baby.

2. Don’t do it on a whim. Let’s say grandma and grandpa are celebrating their 40th anniversary and have invited you and the kids to their favorite restaurant. In this case you probably have advance notice and can prep the kids for this special event using games and progress charts (a little plug here for golly gee-pers! You know your kids best and if they are not ready to dine out in this kind of environment it’s best to own up.

3. Do start early in setting expectations for proper dining behavior. Too often in an effort to simplify life, we dumb down the dining experience for kids. Periodically sitting down at a real table with real dishes (not plastic) while having polite conversation may go a long way in improving your family’s next restaurant experience.

4. Resist abandoning your expectations just because you are at the local pizza place. Although the noise level may be louder kids can still chew their food with their mouth closed.

5. Qualify what you mean when you say “behave.” Manners are skills that need to be learned not a litmus test for good or bad kids.

6. Diners without children can do their part as well by complimenting a child for sitting up straight even if he’s lost a meatball to the floor.

Finally, even children with good manners can become disruptive if over tired or feel ignored. If you are going to bring kids along, make sure you include them in the conversation and know when it’s time to go home.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Thanks for the treat!

Imagine it’s Halloween night and the door bell rings. You grab the candy bowl and open the door. A group of trick-or-treaters dressed as witches, goblins and rock stars sing out, “trick-or-treat?” Each one selects a piece of candy, the usual routine and then something different happens. The trick-or-treater hands you a folded piece of paper. It’s a thank you note.

 No, this is not an episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s October 31, 2011. We are spreading the word and hoping you will join us in making this Halloween the most polite one ever.

To Participate:
Simply download the thank you notes from our website "freebies" button at: (available begining 10/9). The kids can cut them out, sign their names on the inside or make their own.  Either way they can deliver them to the generous folks who give out candy on  Halloween night. 
Thanks for the treat!

Cute Little Witch by Keith Russ
Cute Little Ghost by                                            

Monday, October 3, 2011

Golly Gee-pers! We're Moving Across The Nation

Families in Massachusetts, Minnesota , Texas and California are now playing the Table Manners Game.

                                         Emma (6 years old) gets Thumbs-up!


         (to purchase:

I follow Amy McCready on Twitter.  She is the founder of "Positive Parenting Solutions." In a recent tweet she challenged parents to ask their child to finish this sentence. My mom/dad always_______ and my mom/dad would never _____.  It's a wonderful opportunity to see yourself through your child's eyes.   I would like to adapt these questions for table manners.

So, ask your child...When we are eating, mom/dad always _______ and when we are eating, mom/dad never _______.  You can even ask the question about each family member at the table. Have fun with it and  tweet or post the antics on facebook.


What a surprise and delight at the support that Golly Gee-pers! Table Manners Cards has received from dads and men in general.

We tend to think of table manners as women’s territory. After all, many girls begin their training serving tea to stuffed animals at the age of 2 or 3 and proceed through life as the defacto manners managers to our boyfriends, husbands and children. Why then all the interest by men in this game? It might be the idea of a “tool” to solve a problem that speaks to men. It might be the lack of defensiveness that dad’s have in addressing their children’s table manners. It very well might be that these men can relate to kids, having being nagged about their own table manners and would welcome a more constructive approach.

In any case the genuine interest by men and the stories about their embracing the manners games are nothing short of charming. Just imagine the look of absolute startled innocence on Dad’s face as his five year old hands him a thumbs-down card for talking with his mouth full. Rather than making excuses for why it’s okay for him to do as he likes, these men are rising to the occasion, modeling good manners and telling their friends about it. Little do they know this is the kind of thing that makes women swoon!

Woman on the other hand may find it a little bit harder to be reminded of what they are already supposed to know. While the world will look the other way for men and children, woman are held to a higher standard. In fact, woman are held responsible for the manners of their spouses and children too! So, to imply that they or their family could use some help in this area might not be immediately appreciated. If you’ve ever watched Supper Nanny you will know what I mean. There’s not a mom on that show who doesn’t love her kids and work over time to be the best mom she can be. So, when it is pointed out that mom needs help and might have to do things differently, she often feels like she has failed. Didn’t all the necessary tools for great parenting come with the gender pool and the term “mother?” Men, don’t have this unrealistic notion. “Just do what it takes to get the job done” is their attitude. It’s all about the results.

So, kudos to you guys. You’ve entered new territory with the right attitude. In the process you’ve taken some of the heat off mom and you can bet she’ll be grateful for that!

Monday, September 26, 2011



I was out to breakfast with my husband and third grade daughter recently. We had only just sat down when my daughter gleefully pointed out that Dad had his elbow on the table. “Too bad we don’t have those Golly Gee-pers! Table Manners cards,” he replied. Then I remembered. I did have a deck in my purse. I promptly pulled them out and delivered the elbows thumbs-down card to Dad. Well, before the waitress had returned with the coffee there were three people and a doll sitting up straight with their napkins in their laps eying each other suspiciously.

I’ll admit I got caught talking with food in my mouth, my daughter couldn’t keep her hands out of the cocoa (after all there were marshmallows to retrieve) and despite his efforts my husband never did get rid of that elbow card. “Not bad” I thought, after all we were in a diner not a four star restaurant.

It was then that my daughter decided she needed some motherly love and proceeded to make her way under the table and over to me. I found myself scurrying to gather up the cards and started to make a comment to the effect that “after all your good manners you’re going to ruin it by doing that?”
Then, I stopped. It occurred to me that if my child had just recited her times tables and got a few wrong I wouldn’t consider it a total math failure. After all, I wouldn’t want to discourage her. “Well, of course,” you might say. “That’s a no-brainer.” And yet, I suspect we as parents tend to lump good behavior or good manners into one big category? But, isn’t that kind of a moving target? Why bother then? It’s too hard to be perfect.

Table manners like math is plural. It consists of a group of skills. Therefore, it’s vital to stay focused on the child mastering each individual skill rather than doing everything right. So, the next time your child gets one, two or three thumbs-up cards but not the Read-To-Dine-Out card, it’s okay. He has mastered some of the skills and with encouragement the others are likely to follow.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Come on, we all have some kind of story.  It could have been you, your child, someone in your family or a complete stranger. I've put mine on facebook and twitter and would love to have your's too or e-mail your's to   Best stories will win a set of Golly Gee-pers Table Manners Cards. 

Ok, here's one I heard about:  You know how your mother always told you not to point?  Well, this guy apparently didn't take that advise to heart.  Many years ago my uncle was making a sales call to some big wig in a sky rise.  The guy was showing off his beautiful 180 degree window views.  "Over here you can see such and such.... and over there... " That's when this guy turned around pointing and put his finger right up my uncles's nose!  Just a minor faux pas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Lamorinda Weekly - September 14, 2011


Golly Gee-pers! Table Manners Cards win two awards from one of the world's leading experts on play, toys and children's products, Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, also know as Dr. Toy (   Our Table Manners Card games were awarded one of the 10 Best Socially Responsible Products for Children as well as the 100 Best New Children's Product 2011.

    "...a unique game that enables children to learn from the fun of playing," was only one of the criteria for winning the Dr. Toy Award.  Others included, safety, durability, diversity, price and uniqueness and value.

Cards can be purchased on our website at

Another Bay Area winner was Tiny Green Bee's Crunch a Color game.  A game that encourages children to choose nutritious foods and donates a portion of their proceeds to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and Alice Water's Edible School Yard.


My debut Golly Gee-pers! blog with a perspective on and in defense of a giddy person (me).

For anyone who knows me, has spoken with me or observed me from a distance they will know that I can bubble up enthusiasm for any perceived achievement the way a child bubbles up soda with a straw.  If you don't listen closely you may think I have just won the lotto instead of succeeded at setting up a twitter account.  The same goes for my personal life.  I'll  go on and on about my incredibly amazing wonderful kids.  You'd think they were genetically engineered for perfection until you realized the great achievement in question was taking their personal belongings out of the car.  I've even been known to drive friends into a jealous frenzy over my husband when I was only referring to his annual one sock pick up.  Meanwhile I'm sure they went home and gave their spouses the what for.  Sorry guys.  It took me a while to realize this misunderstanding.  One of my sister's pointed it out.  "I always feel like my life is dog doo when I talk to you," she admitted one day.  I was taken aback because I admire her greatly.  She's a beloved mother, an amazing artist, a successful business owner and exudes love and compassion.  "Everything always seems to go right for you," she explained.  At that point I realized the error.  It's not that everything goes right for me.  It's just that I' so delighted when the smallest thing does.  So, if I ever sound as if the world is my oyster and my life is just a little too happy, know that someone else besides me probably plunged the clogged toilet that morning.

Having said that, I owe a tremendous thank you to friends, family, acquaintances and total strangers who for two years politely listened to me bubble on and on and on about Golly Gee-pers! Table Manners Cards.  No, they won't solve world hunger or win a Pulitzer prize for promoting good table manners, but they did win a Dr. Toy award and for that I am so honored and just tickled to death.  "Can you believe it?  Me?  My cards?  Somebody who is somebody likes them?"  I feel like Sally Fields at the Academy Awards.  My kids are equally excited and in truth they are the ones who deserve the credit.  They inspired the game, demanded excellence and tested me every step of the way.  With that kind of help how could I not be successful?  Besides, they have promised to keep it up!