Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When is the right time to get your CHILD a Phone?

The Headlines:

We finally gave our daughter a phone. 

Here's WHY we did. 

And why we DIDN'T... for such a long time.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat.   The answer to the title question above is:  NEVER.  There is never a RIGHT time to get your child a phone.  But the fact is... they're going to have one sooner or later.

For a long time we opted for "later..." until we decided we could no longer hold out.

These days, lots of parents give their kids phones early.  There are some pretty valid reasons to do that...   divorce, parents working, busy children's schedules.  I wouldn't argue with any of them.  Each family is different.

But at our house... none of those reasons were good enough reasons to get our girl a phone.  Why?  Many many things... but here are the TOP 3 reasons our child didn't get a phone:

Mainly, I didn't want to face the undeniable responsibility that comes when your child holds their own phone.  Last year, there was someone texting people at school posing as other students.  My daughter's name was in the mix but I didn't care much.  Why?  Cause she didn't have a phone.  She wasn't really involved.  The other mother was about to call 911.  I didn't have to... and I loved that.  It was much easier.   For me.

2 - Kids grow up fast when they get a phone
Information is so readily available, too readily available when they have it at their fingertips.  It is incredibly handy but not always healthy.

3 - We want our daughter to learn the art of speaking
Before she succumbs to texting her entire life away she needs to learn how to talk to people.    Because here's the problem, communicating face to face is going to become a lost "art form" I guarantee you.   We, as a society, are doing it less and less.  We're texting, twitting, insta-talking so much we're forgetting how to talk with each other.  Huge, vast, ginormous problem.  I can't even think about how bad it's going to get for our kids as they grow up.

But, after those 3 big reasons and about 1,000 others we chose to ignore... we decided it was time to jump right in to the biggest foreseen firestorm facing parents today.   We're all gonna get burned at one point.  But... we did it anyway.  Our 7th grade daughter got her phone.  She was ecstatic.

Here's why we took the plunge.

TOP 3 reasons she got a phone... (which just so happen to be the exact same reasons we were holding out):

1 - We want our daughter to learn the art of speaking (via phone)
Like it or not, this is the future.  If she doesn't get on board soon... she may miss the boat a bit.  I believe it's good for kids to stand out but not necessarily stick out - if you know what I mean.  She needs to correctly learn how to communicate the way everyone else is in the the entire world.  If she can't... she'll not only be the only one not invited places but she may not get a job that requires her to have certain "media skills," if you will.   Learning these skills responsibly is imperative.

2 - Kids grow up fast when they get a phone
Having a phone will test her.  In many, many ways.  It will test her self control, time management, ability to follow rules... it will test her social kindness, the list goes on and on.  I'm kind of excited to see what she does with it... who she will become?  I hope she makes some right decisions.  I know there will be wrong ones.  One thing's for sure... she will mature more.  That's both good and bad of course.  But at least it will be under our watch.  We'll just have to be very aware of what's going on, who she's talking to, what she's looking at and reading.  ALL THE TIME.

3 - Easier
Yes, with this new capability... life will be much easier... for me.  Truthfully, it came down to this... I needed her to have a phone for my sanity.  Communicating with her is much less complicated now.  I am able to talk to her whenever I want, which makes my life better.  And probably hers too...

So, how are we handling this new found responsibility of a child with a phone?  It started with a simple "contract."  I'm pretty sure most parents do this now.  They write something up.  Their child signs it.  If they don't follow it - phone is GONE.   Good plan.  Here's what we made up:

New Phone Contract 

*No phone usage after 9:00pm

No social media posts until agreed upon by Mom & dad

Any social media apps must be approved by M/D

All passwords are to be shared with M/D

All homework must be done before any phone time (unless necessary & allowed by M/D)

M/D can look at phone at any time

DO NOT erase any texts under any circumstances

*Show M/D any questionable texts/pictures/posts right away

Phone can be taken away by M/D at any time to be monitored  

No D or F grades on any tests

Absolutely NO grade below B- on a progress report/report card

Any violation minimum 1 week without phone(unless otherwise specified by M/D)

Phone plan to be partially paid for by phone holder ($10 per month)

-She signs and dates it and then there's this little addition:

* friends may have to abide by starred line items

That's right.  My house.  My rules.  Especially when it comes to the phone.  Here's the thing.  I've discovered getting rid of the phones can, at times, take pressure off kids.  And give kids, well, a chance to BE kids!

A few months ago my daughter had a new friend over.  And each time she was with her, my daughter didn't have a phone (the friend did).  Turns out that girl went home and told her Mom she really liked hanging out with my daughter.  "It's nice..." she said,  "we're not always on our phones!"  Wow.  Really?  After all this, maybe the most important point to remember is that the phone can be a part of their life... it just can't be their whole life!!!

If it is... there's a big problem.  A problem that will just get bigger the longer it goes un-checked.

Will we regret giving her a phone?  Probably.  But it had to be done.  She's already gotten it taken away.  Twice.  Plus, I got an alert yesterday...

Recognize that puppy?  Yea, and we still have over a week to go until the end of the month.  My daughter just kindly informed me on the way to school yesterday that I should just get an unlimited plan "like all her other friends parents..." of course I heard that, snickered then chuckled a bit.

Yes, it may already be time to add another line to that Phone Contract.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Cantaloupe Martini Cocktail

The Headlines:

Every Fall Party needs an Orange Cocktail!

I don't even like Cantaloupe.

Best Cantaloupe Martini recipe EVER!

Plus a cute, kid version. 

This can be downed all year long (hello Summer) but it's orange so, come fall, the drink really fits! 

We've made this cocktail for years.  It is major yum.  Blows me away every time I taste it.  It's so easy, so refreshing and so beautiful!  Yes, it's a Cantaloupe Martini and I will tell you it's like biting into that fruit, but better.  Because, honestly, I don't even like cantaloupe.  I love watermelon, honeydew... but cantaloupe... I always leave in the fruit bowl. 

Here's What You Need:
2 oz Orange Juice (I get medium pulp)
2 oz Marie Brizard Watermelon Liqueur (found at Total Wine or ask your local grocer)
1 1/2 oz Three Olives Vodka (1 of my favs)
Splash of lime

Here's What You Do:
Mix all together...
Shake well over ice in a shaker and pour.
Makes 1 drink.

 It's a little taste of heaven, I promise!

At our house this year, we'll be throwing a Halloween Night Party -- and for something like that you've got to get the kids a special drink too!  And yes, it has to be orange.  Rather than just throwing orange juice in their cups I came up with a version of my cantaloupe cocktail.  And it's almost as good as the adult one.  But... not... quite. 

Here's What You Need:
Orange Juice
Fruits Punch Gatorade
7-Up or Sprite 

Here's What you Do:
Mix about 2/3 orange juice, 1/3 Sprite and a few splashes of the Gatorade to give it a "cantaloupe" color.  It's really yummy and will look good in a large pitcher!

Yea, may not be my favorite holiday... but it's getting there.   

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Monday, August 20, 2018

When PETs are SICK

The Headlines:

Love is always hard. 

Love in the face of sever sickness or death... even more difficult. 

When it's your Dog (and you've never had a pet before)...  

It's unchartered territory. 

As a child, I never had a pet.  My Mom was overwhelmed with just one living thing to take care of...  A pet was never going to be a part of our household.  So when BP, the husband, insisted on a chocolate lab about a year after we were married I was like, ok I guess I need practice keeping something alive if I want children someday.

We found Maverick.

But a couple weeks ago, we came home to him struggling a bit.  My dog, in his old age tends to gasp for air... it's called Laryngeal Paralysis and it's fairly common for labs who are, well, old.  So, he's done this before.  I thought, he'll get better.  But he didn't.  He got worse.

Let me back up a bit, Maverick came to live with us after 3 months of being introduced to the world.  He was gorgeous.  A deep chocolate Labrador.  We flew to a special breeder in Northern California.  Picked him up there.  Drove him to Arizona.  I fell for the pup on that trip.  He spent the whole time on my lap.  Once at home, we had him live with a trainer for a couple months.  He hunted, got into trouble,  ate a tiki torch (including the kerosene).  He was attacked by 2 dogs on a walk.  Got in a car accident with my husband.  He liked to escape. You know, the whole 9.   It was and has been a full life.

But Mav turned 14, in people years, last month.  By my calculations that would put him right at 98 dog years old.  He's definitely slowed down.  Laryngeal Paralysis isn't a death sentence but it's the start of something towards that.  The condition is one that strips the nerves and muscles from working properly.  Not only in their throat but other places, like their hind legs.   Surgery is an option, but not always a good one.  Especially for his age.

That means, my poor dog sometimes (especially when he gets agitated or hot) has trouble breathing.  It comes and goes but it hasn't been a huge issue.  Let me say this, my dog is old, maybe a little wobbly, skinny...  but he has never seemed to suffer.  Until this day.  The day I came home and he couldn't breath.  I think the house got a little warm (we have a NEST and there was no movement so no AC was kicking on).  I kept thinking he would get better, relax and catch his breath.  But he didn't and that turned into a completely sleepless night.  He couldn't get comfortable, he couldn't sit still, he just wasn't getting enough oxygen.

Early the next morning, after I had dozed off ever so slightly... I knew he couldn't take it any more.  This was it.  I woke up my children and told them to grab their stuff.  There was a good chance they would have to say goodbye to the only dog they'd ever really known.  We all hopped in the car, not Maverick, he was carefully carried, and I drove as quickly as possible to the ER Vet location.

Because of his clearly poor condition, they took him back immediately.  We were told it seemed the condition significantly worsened and he was tranquilized to get him through it.  There wasn't much we could do at this point but make him comfortable.  The vet on duty did think it may be a good idea to do a lung x-ray.  Just in case it was more than the Laryngeal Paralysis.

In the meantime, they discharged him, we went home and I started preparing for his death.  Lots of tears were shed on this day.  BP was away and it was just me trying to figure everything out.  Yet, I had never known how hard it would be... I was unprepared for the heavy duty emotion I would feel.  People pain I get... pet pain is new.  But it was almost just as hard.

Late that same night the ER Vet called me back and left a message.  Mav may not be just suffering from the LP... the test revealed he had pneumonia too.  Apparently, this illness can go hand in hand with LP.  So the decision was made to put our dog on anti-biotics.  Within hours the old Maverick started to come back.  1 day later he even barked.  A lot.  A sound I truly thought I would never hear was ringing out like a song on stage.

But I fear it's just a reprieve.  Yes, today,  he's stronger than I imagined I'd ever see him... but I'm not sure how long it will last.  I'm giving him all his favorite foods and he is getting more special attention than he's seen in a while.  Plus, lots of sleep.  I want the remainder of his time here to be comfortable and sweet.  Just like him.

I still don't fully get dogs.  I don't agree with people putting pets above human beings.  But after having, loving and crying over one for so long I think I understand why they're such a part of the family:


That's it.  No matter what... in good times, bad times, all times.  They don't go on vacation, off to college, to the library, shopping, they don't get married.  They just stay by your side.  Who else does that?  If you're a Christian the answer is God but the Dog you can actually see.  People come and go, marriages break apart, kids grow up, Grandparents pass.  Pets are the ultimate companion.  That is, as long as they're physically able.  The only time your pet will leave you is when it's not up to them.  That's pretty special.  Very rare.  Incredibly powerful.  Even comforting.

When my 7 year old son saw our Dog after that horrifically painful time in the ER - he looked at him, gave him a long, lingering hug and as he turned to me he said,  "I'm glad Mavy didn't die today... because then I wouldn't have had this moment."  Heart melt.  I feel like we may have a few more moments left with our Dog.  Maverick will not be around too much longer... but he's here for now.  Weeks, months, maybe he'll even live to see 15.  We'll enjoy the time we have, while we have it.

As long as we can all... catch our breath.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Kitchen Brick Wall

The Headlines:

Want to do something special in your home?

Try this...

Everyone wants to be noticed for something.  Singles want to show off their shoes, girls want to wear their Ivivva shorts, boys want to be good in sports, Dad wants to have a great car and Mom - well she wants a fabulous purse - and - great kids of course!

Homes also want to get noticed.  They want, at least one thing, that people stand up and applaud.  Is it a great kitchen island?   A fab back yard?  An amazing office?   Maybe even a light fixture that catches everyone's eye...

Or your home can have a stand-out wall.  Like this one:

Often... the story starts like this: sell or remodel, remodel or sell?  That's how it started for this client - who in the end - decided not to sell and move but instead give her place a facelift.  She had lots of plans.  Including paint the cabinets, paint the walls, re-do her shower, take down a "wall," get new counter-tops, sinks & faucets, put in a barn door and finally add some "texture" to her kitchen wall.

Now, there are a few ways you can do that.  Wallpaper, paint, tile or wood.  She was leaning towards the reclaimed wood paneling look.  It's clearly all the rage.  I'd even go as far as to say it's a little "trendy" right now!   This girl... not trendy.  She's got great style but an Antique/ Traditional/Classic  DEFINED STYLE  is a more accurate description for her.

So we came to an agreement that brick would work best.  Now, when you say brick many people start to panic.  It seems heavy and scary.  Not when you do brick veneer.  I hear the screeching brakes now.  VENEER people say?  Absolutely not they reply.  That is, until they see it.

This ain't your Grandma's veneer people.  It really does look like the real thing... and it's actually still fairly heavy.  Just about a quarter of what a full brick would be.  So for cases like this or a fireplace.  Heck, in a almost every case... it's absolutely what you want to use! And we did.  

**Sidenote, I also used veneer on my own fireplace (years ago).  Turned out great too... click HERE to see it.

She had thoughts about applying it to her island as well.  But I reminded her too much of a good thing... is never a good thing.   So we painted the island a different color instead.  That too... home run.

Of course, we didn't stop there.  We did all of those things above that we mentioned too.  The place looks like a million bucks.  Here's some before and after shots.

In Bath 1, we painted the cabinets, walls, added a new mirror, new counter and sink.  Plus a brand new shower, top to bottom (excuse my bad photography).

In the kitchen, we removed a wall, and then same drill... new counters, painted the cabinets and walls, added new hardware and a new sink/faucet.

She chose these 3 counter surfaces for Bath 1, Bath 2 and Kitchen.  Highly recommend New Carrerra Quartz.  If you want Quartz... looks great installed.

She also desperately wanted a barn door, which she loves:

But in the end, as I said, the showstopper is certainly that brick wall.  It's classic, not too costly and cool... everything a house wants to be!

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Parenting Your Parents

The Headlines:

There comes a time...

When Parents need to be parented. 

It's like flipping a switch.  And everything changes.

Parents are like your right arm.  You arm helps you get things done.  It's a part of you.  You love and need it.  Until one day it gets a sprain... still works but it just isn't the same anymore.

When you're a kid you can't wait to get old.  "I'm 6 and 3/4 almost 7," they say.  Or "It's 1 day until I turn TEN" kids scream!  They constantly compare ages at lunch and on the play ground.  The pecking order can be decided based on the earliest birth date.

Until one day, usually around 29, it all changes.  You're going to be 30.   A real grown up for sure.
Birthdays then start to mean a little less... in fact you savor the years rather than wish them away.   You get married, start your family and all is well for a while.  Until something changes.

And suddenly it hits you - your PARENTS are old.  That moment in time is one you'll never forget.  You may cry, you may laugh a bit... but one thing's for sure.  It's going to get interesting.

Mind you, there's a good chance you have children, possibly small, who still really need their parents.  So you're kind of in a pickle.  Or sandwiched?  However you say it, you're getting pulled in two directions.  By 2 simultaneous "Parenting" jobs.

5 Clues Your Parents Need Parenting

1 - Driving - This "skill" is one of the first to go.  It can be slightly less noticeable than some of the points below.  Because, we all know driving can be a challenge at any age.  But for old people, the challenge is, shall we say, elevated.  Like when your parents start bumping into things, veering off roads, scraping sides, blaming everyone else for THEIR bad driving.   Or the scariest one: falling asleep behind the wheel.  Then you know, old age has definitely set in.

Time to get in the driver seat every time you're around them.  Let them drive on an "as-needed" basis only.   And pray.  Every night.

2 - Memory - This comes and goes over time.  It will be better, than it can get worse.  It will cause arguments and frustration.  But the best option is to laugh it off - tell them what time you'll be leaving for the movie 20 times.  Then, 20 times more.  It's okay.  Frustrating but okay.

They may have Alzheimers, they may have dementia, they may just be old.  It probably doesn't matter.  It's during this stage your parent is just not how they used to be.  Unable to do the things they once were so good at.  That special dinner made from memory is now missing a few ingredients.  It may not even really taste the same.

Time to cook for them.  Or go out.

3 - Traveling - Have you noticed as people get older they don't like to travel as far?   First, they no longer want to go overseas.  Then, they don't want to travel outside the country, after that getting on  a plane can be too difficult until finally going far beyond their own city seems like a daunting task.  Unless of course, they go with YOU.  You are now their only escape route to a true vacation.

Memories will be made that way.  Wait, hopefully memories will be made (see #2)!

Time to travel together.  Remember, patience is a virtue.

4 - Socializing -  This becomes a lot less important to your parents when they're getting older.  They will talk to who they want to, when they want to.  They may even be a little rude to servers, random strangers and the occasional friend.

They could start to isolate themselves more.  Everyone will be hanging out having a good time and your parents take a seat.  This can prevent them from saying something out of line but it can also just be a big bummer.  Everyone's not necessarily enjoying themselves.  Or maybe it just looks that way.  Sometimes old people need some peace and quiet.  Perhaps hard for you to understand.   But not for them.

Time to make sure they have someone to talk to (if they want)?  This is something you do for your kids... now do it for them.  Remember, your parents probably used to do it for you too!

5 - Medical -  Now this is the hard one.  Nothing funny about it.  Things start to crumble during this time of their lives.  Let's be clear... things start crumbling after 40 but this is different.  At least according to my Mom. She reminds me every time I talk to her.  She's tired.  She aches.  She's breaking down.  Like a beloved old Volvo.

This can hit you like a ton of bricks like in my case, where my Dad almost died from a brain aneurysm.  I wrote about that HERE ... it was devastating and I thought I had lost my Dad as I knew him forever.  But he actually came back (side note).  Orrrrr it can be a slower process.  Week by week, doctor to doctor, phone call to phone call.  Each time, something new.  Health problems are hard for everyone.  Hardest on the people experiencing them... until you're the one taking care of the person with the health problems.

Time to appreciate time.  You never know how much there is...

Parenting You Parents... if you're around my age - you've lived it and you know - it's a weird experience.  Parents used to be strong - let's call them SUPER HEROES fighting for good in every corner of your life.  They'd defend you from bad dreams and wrong turns.  They rarely (seemingly) made mistakes in your young eyes and you respected the heck out of them.  You took their advice and life was better because of it.  Most of the time.

The problem now is... the tables have turned my friends.  The advice sought... is yours.  You help them, heal them, make the phone calls.  You order off the menu.  You plan, find the triggers, collect the papers, hold the holidays.  You love the heck out of them.  They are still your parents but a completely different version of the parents you once knew.  And it will never change back.

They still care about you... they just have more focus on them.  Their life requires them to... the days of being your cheerleader, while not over,  have just shifted a bit.  They celebrate your wins a little less because their losses might matter more.  Their long term aim becomes short term hits.  While your life has rolled, their lives have rocked and that's a lot of moving.  Especially for someone who's getting old.      

My parents took care of my Grandma(s) as much as they could when I was younger.  I witnessed the whole thing.  It was a hard, long process and I saw my Mom, miss her Mom, when she was still alive.  But, like everything, it's so different when it's you.  So hard to understand until you're there.  Now, this is your new normal.  Not bad, not always good - just different.  So mourn for a minute.  Shed a few tears.  Talk to God.  Then pull up your boot straps and get comfortable.  But don't choose to wish it away 'cause the only change that lies ahead probably ain't the best alternative.

Until it is...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to make a Small Bathroom - LOOK BIGGER

The Headlines:

Make a small Bathroom...

Large with Life!

Here are some ideas.

A small bathroom can be a really big deal.  Especially if it's an en suite.  You want it to gleam with pride.  It can make or break the whole room.

So, when it was time to re-do my daughter's bathroom I knew there was some pressure.  Maybe there always is...  It needed to be fantastic yet not too glam, not too sweet.  Just right.  And bigger.

So let's get to it.  A small bathroom can look even smaller if you choose the wrong way to remodel it.  Here's how to make your small bathroom look larger than life!

Tip #1
When you do ANY room - start with something you're positive you want.
In this case it was that penny tile.

Penny Tile is so cute and so not overdone.  Now I had a jumping off board for all of the other things I had to pick.  Which led to this...

Tip #2
Use the same tile (and same grout) in the shower as your bathroom floor 
Simply because it can make the small space seem a little bigger.  It keeps the eye moving and almost creates an optical illusion the area is larger.  Maybe not much, but when you're not working with a ton of space, take what you can get.

Tip #3
Small spaces look bigger when covered in light colors.  
We went white.  For many reasons. You can read why I often choose white HERE but when it came to this bathroom... there were 3 reasons it HAD to be done.  One it was small.  Two it was dark (not a window in sight).  Three, I needed it to stand the test of teenager.  White would accomplish all of these things.

Tip #4
Use a glass shower door.
So you can see through it.  Shower curtains, for obvious reasons, shortens the room.  Glass doors make the room more spacious.  Not that it is...

Plus, obviously you can see the details that you undoubtedly added to that fabulous shower of yours!  And that deserves some attention.

Tip #5
Add flair with lights, pulls and backsplash 
We did not use flashy backsplash on purpose... but if you're going to go crazy do it here.  It's fairly easy and inexpensive to change out.

Lights aren't too bad either but pulls/handles are the easiest and cheapest to re-fresh - so go crazy!
Now, have some fun making that small bathroom a big hit!

Fore more info:  nicole@onepickychick.com

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MOMs in Middle-School

The Headlines:

I knew it was going to be hard. 

For HER.

What I didn't know is how hard it would be for ME

You ever notice how things change but really stay the same?  Even down to the name of 6th/7th/8th grade.  It used to be called Junior High when I was going.  Now they call it middle school.

It honestly doesn't matter what they call it... the name change doesn't make it any easier.  It's still, typically, the hardest time in a persons life.  Not just for the kids in school.

Everyone else in the family suffers too.  Especially Moms.  I first wrote something about my daughter entering "Middle School" back in August, when it happened.  You can read that HERE ... what I didn't know is how the transition would also affect me.  As a Mom, going through it with your child, it's like you're being traumatized all over again.  It's almost as if they throw you back into that very same situation that you experienced yourself ump-teen years ago.

But it's not you.  And as a parent that's the first thing you have to remember.  No matter how much your child cries.  No matter how hurt they are.  You have grown since those days.  You, as a parent need to keep a cool head.  You have to advise and diffuse.  Stoking the fire is not an option.  Putting it out is your job.  Though sometimes, the trauma and drama may feel like towering inferno... it is not.  No Fire Department is needed.

So put down the phone and talk to your child.  Let him or her vent.  Then take a moment... and think.  Think about how most all kids, especially at this age, are good.  They're just trying to muddle through this difficult thing called the "pre-teen" years.  They're dealing with raging hormones and changes they knew not physically possible.  They're getting challenged in school un-like ever before.  Sports are harder.  Emotions are stronger.  Parents seem meaner.

Friends... well they're there to help you through it.  Until they're not.

Remember in all "situations" there's one side, another side and the truth... which lies some where in the middle.  When times are tough I think about the fact that while my child is hurting, she probably also hurt someone along the way as well.   Because hurt people hurt people.  And all kids, this time in their lives... are hurting.  It's inevitable.  While you may always want to blame the other side, it takes 2 to have a "fight."

Our school year started strong.  It went down hill in the Fall.  I'll be honest, my daughter made some poor choices.  Not pretty but a part of growing.  I explained to her that by acknowledging the mistake we take that power away from the problem.  Then change happens.  Change did happen in our household.  Not just for her... but for our whole family.  I wrote about that HERE & HERE ... we took the opportunity to seize the moment and produce a difference.  It is, and always will be, a work in progress.

The work continues today.  But as we strive to be better, kinder, more forgiving people bad things will continue to happen... especially in middle school.  So what is a Mama bear to do?  If it was only as easy as producing a list on a blog.

It's not.

So everyday on the way to school  I will tell my kids 1 thing:  be nicer to people than they are to you.  Someday, it will come back ten-fold.

Will they be?  Everyday?  Of course not.  But if I say it enough times... it will resonate.  Then, she/they will be better than before.  I think it already seems to be working.  I see a confidence building, a heart that is warming, a head that is focusing.

Many times my daughter gets frustrated with me because she thinks I take the other side.  I don't take it, I help her look for it.  Because, like I said, there's always more than one way to look at a situation.  Like views of the same Sunset... everyone sees something different.  And I will help her sort through those views.  However painful.

This conversation can happen multiple times for us during any given week.  My best guess - that will continue through the next couple of years.  It's good for both of us... as we march through Middle School - together.  As long as... at the end of the day,  she lets me hold her and remind her -I love her.  Always will.  No matter what side she's on.

I'm forever on hers.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What's Your Family Brand?

The Headlines:

In this brand rich world... I think we all need one.

So what's yours?

I took a walk this morning.  Not a big deal, I do this on many mornings.  Honestly, walking is my main form of exercise.  On most days I take an hour plus walk in my lovely neighborhood and I do the exact same route.  Every time.

But here's what I did different today.  I turned around.  I was ready for a change and guess what?  The world looked completely new.  It was really incredible.  Everything that I was used to somehow, from another point of view, was revealed in a different way.

I think that's how we are in life.  We do the same things over and over, the way we know, the way we're used to it.  Until one day... when you're ready to change.

This year, my kids will turn 7 and 12.  The years haven't just gone fast... they've gone at lightening speed.  I feel like I'm blinking and in that one tiny second I'm missing so much.  BP, the husband, wants me to slow down, enjoy it more.  I do too many things he says, I'm on the computer too much (rarely doing social media), on my phone. planning, scheduling... he's right - it's exhausting.  But I love my kids, my friends, my house, my work, my shopping... what's going to give?  Anything, he says, everything.  But the stuff that's truly important.

He's right.  We are ready for change in my house.  Ready to look at the world from a different point of view.  I spoke of it first in my post about children and entitlement.  You can read that HERE ... that book helped open the door for my family and I to change things.  Christmas was also different around here.  We adopted a family and spent almost as much on them as we did on us.  My kids also contributed their hard earned cash to the quest.  It was a defining moment when we walked into the home of the woman who had lost her husband to a brain tumor.  My son built legos with her boy and my daughter talked with her little girl about her favorite sport.  The sport she couldn't afford to play.  And as we visited with her... where she raised her 3 children under the age of 9, in a two bedroom apartment, all by herself, I couldn't help but think that the vision of her tiny, 2 foot tall tree would remain in their heads forever.

And we're not stopping there.  I'm reading a new book.

The Book, called "Having a Mary Spirit" by Joanna Weaver, was born out of the story about Mary and Martha in the Bible.  They were two very different people and sisters.  In a nut shell, Jesus came to visit them and Martha was scurrying around prepping and cleaning, making food.  She was doing it all FOR Jesus.  But Mary was doing nothing except being WITH Jesus.  Martha got annoyed with Mary for not helping but Jesus was glad.  Two totally different ways of showing their love, gratitude and support.  But one... better than the other?

I am Martha.  Many of us are Martha. I will try to be more like Mary this year.  I'll probably fail at it... but that's ok, trying is better than nothing.

Which brings me to our family brand.  The pastor at our church brought this up on a Sunday a while back.  It's such a good, valid question.   See a swoop, you know it's NIKE.  A big red spot and it's Target.  Golden arches, McDonalds.

What about your family?

What do people see when they look at you?   This year, it's time to define who we are.  So, when I made our last Christmas cards I started that "branding process":

I wrote on my Christmas card the things that we deem truly important.   I'll list them here:

Care more, worry less
Love everyday
Learn to fall... and get back up
Other before ourselves
Be better than good
Live God Centered

Our thought is... we will live our days, through those 6 "pillars" trying to get better.  In case you're wondering, we don't have an official family brand.   Our brand is not truly visible through the eye... it's not on a commercial, not on the side of a truck, not on a bottle.  It's a feeling hopefully seen and felt by those who know us.   

So the question is, are you ready to find your family brand?  Don't even attempt if you're not prepared for change.  Because things are seen, movement happens, cracks occur and life truly alters when you decide it's time to take a different path then the same one you've been walking down for years.

If you don't find it - I promise - it will find you.  The trick is, you have to be ready and willing, like many of us aren't, to see it.  Acknowledge it.

I have a friend... who had a crappy year.  One thing after another.  Deals fell through,  sickness happened, robberies occurred, literal "disasters" inside the walls of their house... people even died.  Through it all I would occasionally ask (hopefully not "judgey" like - that was not at all my intention): "Do you think someone's trying to tell you something"?  It was received with a hard laugh.   My friend wasn't ready.  And that's okay... 

Things can only be seen from a different perspective when you're willing to turn around.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Window Screen Art

The Headlines:

Want some art for your wall?

Buy a painting.

Or do something different.

When I was a kid, yea a long time ago, I would bring a friend home from school.  They'd come in... and chuckle.  There were always odd little scenarios everywhere you looked.  Our beach house was far from the norm.  There weren't cool, new furnishings.  There were old, odd things placed in nooks and crannies.  My mom.  Her decor... was unusual.  There was an old bird cage - with no bird in it.  A torn up mannequin (better known as a dress form) but no seamstress.  A peeling Coca Cola cooler, with no soda in sight.  My personal favorite(s)?  The school desk she found on the side of the road, the huge radio she got in her crazy Aunt's attic or maybe it was the bench she took (with permission of course) from an old, abandoned church while we were on vacation in the midwest.

Thank you Jesus.  

Turns out Mom was before her time.  She was Shabby when it wasn't Chic.  She was distressed when that was just stressful.  She like ripped when it was rare.  Her taste was true to her own self.  Trendy she was not.  But her unique style was classic with a twist of her kind of cool.  

Am I like her?  No.  BUT do I take some cues from her never written rule book?  Sure do.  
Like this...

I recently did this for someone else after she was inspired by what she saw at my own house.  I put up a window screen "frame" in my living room.  It's one of the first blogs I did years ago because it was one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest updates I ever did!  Excuse the XOXO from the picture below... it's Valentines Day soon.

You can see the full blog HERE 

Now, the room below needed something bigger.  As you can see... this lonely little art piece looked a little out of place and just couldn't carry this large of an open space.  Screens were perfect.  Mixed with this homeowners Rugged/Rough/Glam "Defined Style" it totally works!  Read more about "Defining Your Style"  HERE

So how do you pull off this unique look?  It's clearly not that hard.

Find Your Window Screen 
This won't take much effort because old screens are kinda everywhere.  For now.  They're often overlooked in antique shops or at salvage yards because I'm not sure people know what to do with them.  Until now.  Due to that,  the cost is significantly lower than windows.  I chose one large screen for my house.  For the other house, we went with three big screens.  She wanted to make a statement and the room is very large.  It completely holds your attention.

Decide What to Feature
I like pictures or fabric.  My client went with fabric because she has lots of pictures on the walls.  I went with pictures because I have no pictures around.  Beware, some fabrics won't be very prominent behind a screen.  These fabrics were bold and sparkly so they could be seen.  You need to test swatches.  What you like in the store might not work in your house (behind a screen)!  You can easily staple fabric.  Or mount your pictures to the wall.

Hang Them UP
This step is easy, screens are light.  Project is done.

Well that was difficult, not difficult.  But it certainly is hard to ignore how fabulous the place looks because of something someone might have otherwise thrown away.  

Yea, long ago my Mom was ahead of her time.  Today... I'm just trying to catch up.   Aren't we all?

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