Friday, August 21, 2020

What I will Tell my Child about High School

The Headlines:


You have a baby...  

And they grow up.





Has this happened to you?  You head to the hospital to have a baby and then you take them home.  They go to sleep... you wake up and they're in high school.  

That's truly how life works.  It's just that quick.  

They are your little boy/girl and then overnight they are a complete adult.  Their voices change.  They have opinions.  They get boy/girl friends.  They find themselves.  They lose themselves.  They go out ALL THE TIME.  They seem to not need you.

But they do.  They definitely do. 

My daughter is ready to grow into her own person but she also still wants my input as to how that happens.  She wants to know if a sharp right turn is a good idea or if veering there is better.  And I want to tell her.  But I'm treading lightly.  

Why?  Because I want her to know that many decisions are now hers to make.  Now,  I'm here to see her make them.  In 4 more years, I won't be.

After 14 years, this time of input isn't "my way or the highway"  but rather, here's what I would do - so what do you think you should do?  It's hard letting go of that control but I've seen what happens if you don't... either clear cut resentment and anger or a child who never knows how to make decisions on their own.  

Neither is good.  



It's like High School is a 4 year training program: into adulthood.  Cause they're going there with or without our help.  

High School is also the last time we get full time with this little girl in our house.  And that, my friends, is somewhat excruciating, isn't it?  My husband lived for almost 3 years in California doing his job.  Good job experience - not so great for the family.  He missed her entire Middle School.  Time he will never get back.  He "moved home," a few months ago.  I thank God he won't miss her High School in the same way.  These next few years will be a fresh and fast new reality that will go a little like this...

Freshman - pretty similar to 8th grade.  She's new to HS... she will proceed with caution. Make new friends.  It's still Corona time.

Sophomore - she'll be more comfortable.  Lots of friends and activities will follow.  Life will start to speed up (COVID will be mostly behind us - hopefully), she'll be preparing to drive.   

Junior - so much happens this year.  Freedom abounds. College visits, studies and sports hit a high,  she is in her High School prime!

Senior -  she's speeding up while winding down.  she may begin to hate us.  She's practically out the door. 


And then she is... gone.  Off to college.  

As suddenly as she came roaring in to our lives - she darts out.  So what can I tell her during these 4 incredibly formative years?  Do I have any knowledge to share?  I do.  You do too. Maybe it goes something like this:


Dear Dream Come True, 

Get ready for the time of your life.  

These 4 years can be incredible.  There will be major highs and deep lows.  Studies will consume you.  People will confuse you.  You will find a Best Friend Freshman year who may not be a Friend Senior year.  There will be opportunities before you that you have to take advantage of and focus on.  Be true to yourself while remaining supportive of others.  Do not pretend to be someone you're not.  Try something new.  Something unexpected.  As long as it's legal.  Remember three's a crowd so maneuver that carefully.  Be on Social Media, do not rely on it.  Talk to people more than snapping them.  Make friends for who they are, not what they can do for you.  Find a crush but don't marry them.  Laugh ALL THE TIME.  And don't eat frozen yogurt with sourdough bread every afternoon.  That did terrible things to my rear when I was your age.  

Let me break it down: 
Find yourself and through that you will find others.  
Help others and you will become true.
Be true and kind and kindness will follow.  

You have so much to give, so much depth and potential that I cannot wait to see where it will lead you.  Or where you will lead.  Because the girl you are today is just the beginning of the woman you will be tomorrow.   

Please know, during all 4 years of high school... your family will be here.  By your side.  The entire time.  We will wait to see you soar, stop to catch your fall, dry the tears that come and cheer when you stand tall.  By yourself, not alone.  

That's not reassure you.  It's our Promise to you.  

Trust in that...  trust in God and trust in yourself.  If you do that, fully and heartily - the rest will be "easy".


All our love and prayers,
Your Mom, Dad and Brother


Yes, High School is fleeting but I contend it leaves a lasting mark on many.  It can set the tone for the rest of ones life.  In many different ways.  

In this day in age, of COVID, I am certain the "Coronnials" as I call them... will not only have the typical trials and tribulations of growing up but they will have so much more.  

Perhaps the challenge will make some rise.  It will also make others crumble.  It's their choice which path they take.  As a parent of a high schooler I want to encourage my child to push her limit beyond what others would have imagined.  The opportunities will flow like a thriving waterfall if they see and live it that way. 

When I brought my little bundle home from the hospital I knew we were in for a wild rollercoaster ride.  Just never thought the ride would take us to High School... the very next morning.  









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Monday, July 6, 2020

Family Movie List

The Headlines:



Families have been inside a long time.

So, it's time to watch some movies.  

Here are our favs!





Ohhhhhh Corona Virus.  You have definitely slowed us down.  You have demanded a re-set within the American Family.  

For that, I thank you.  

You have also ruined and taken many lives.  

For that, I hate you.  

As discussed earlier in another post, my family slowed down and came together unlike ever before.  We did things that families should do but don't because we're all too busy.  Living our lives.  In the past few months we've taken road trips, gotten a puppy, cooked more and... watched lots of movies.  An indulgence we've never taken on.   


I love being stirred into emotion.  Emotion that provokes and stokes.  Feeling is good.  I think crying is helpful.  It gets those thoughts out of our head and into the world where we can deal with them so much better.  Many of us shrivel when we think of our emotions.  Movies make us deal with them head on.  In a safe zone.  They're not really OUR problems - they're on screen.  That's how and why Family Movie Night can be so beneficial. 

Problem is, the last time I went to a theatre I bought a ticket and didn't watch one lick... I just talked to my friend the entire time.  Don't worry, the theatre was pretty empty.  I, if I'm lucky, perhaps see 4 movies at home and 2 in the theatre every year.  That's about a half dozen movies for 12 months.  

However, with the virus, times changed.  

For the first time in a long time we had time.  We sought out old(ish) movies (that we watched when we were young)... as well as a few newer movies.  My one requirement was simply this:  the movie must touch our hearts.  It has to have a message, make us tear up, stir something inside.  Like I spoke of above.  I, personally, will not sit down for Marvel Movies.  No offense.  Just not my jam.  I wanted this time spent sitting in front of a screen... to be worthwhile.  

There are 2 children in my house right now.  A 13 year old girl and a 9 year old boy.  So the movie we picked had to be for everyone.  Many of them are sports related.  Sport themes really touch on the inspiration factor.  A few of them were Christian centered.  Some both.  Others neither.   Pretty sure they're all PG-13 or PG.

This is what we came up with...  


COVID Family Movie List 

Mr. Holland's Opus

Stand By Me

My big fat Greek wedding 

Top gun 

Forest Gump

Fried Green Tomatoes

ET

It’s a Wonderful Life (obvi better at Christmas)

Mary Poppins

Sound Of Music

Saving Mr Banks (if u watch Mary Poppins you HAVE to watch)

Can’t but me love 

Hatche (about a dog) 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off 

The Pursuit of Happyness (Father's Day)



(Christian based)

Case for Christ (great movie for non-believers)

**Greater (also Sports)

I can only imagine 

Overcomer

Full Count (also Sports)

I Still Believe


(Sports themed)

Racing in the rain 

The Perfect Game

Rudy 

McFarland, USA

Trouble With the Curve 

Remember the Titans 

We are Marshall 

Secretariat

Miracle 

Hoosiers 

Karate kid 

The Legend of Bagger Vance (this could be considered Christian if you believe Bagger was God or an Angel) 

The Blindside 

Karate kid 

Field of dreams 

League of Their Own 

The Natural

Twelve (a little cheesy, no big actors, but worth the watch.  Esp for your a young ball player

Seabiscuit 




(For my 13 year old girl - only) 

Steele Magnolia   (Mother's day)

Mothers & Daughters (Mother's Day)

Notebook

Bridges of Madison County 

Sliding doors 

Titanic 

Goodwill Hunting 
Dead Poets Society 

I hope you enjoy the list and more importantly, appreciate, all of these movies.  Like I said, many, if not all, made us feel.  I truly believe not enough of us allow ourselves to feel.  Especially men and boys.  Our boys need to learn how to have other emotions besides just happiness and anger.  They need to know it's okay.  My son cried during some of these movies.  That, is exactly what I wanted him to do.  And keep doing.  Long into his teen, adult, parenting years and beyond.  

Crying doesn't make my boy soft.  It makes him layered.  It will help him get through the tough times that are bound to happen to him.  To all of us. 

Finally tonight, 
By far, our most favorite movie on the above list is GREATER.  It hits all the marks.  Plus, it's a true story.  If you like that sort of thing... I do.  I like to know there's a little bit of girth behind the story on screen.  This movie has that... and more.  So - much - more.  

Don't miss it.  Thank me (and CORONA) later...  

Love, 
Nicole 


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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Happy Father's Day... p.s. Thank You God

The Headlines:



How Do You Celebrate Father's Day...

When He's Gone?



The other day my daughter asked my husband what he wanted for Father's Day... he simply replied, "My Dad back"


This Father's Day Is Going to be Hard
Not because it's the first Father's Day without my Dad but because it's another one.

Wow, does time fly.

3-3-2019 was my Dad's last day on Earth.

It was one of the most painful days for me.  As it is for anyone who loses someone.  Now, as we go through this crazy time of our lives... (COVID)  I, all of us actually, have more time to think about the way life used to be.  Before his death.  Ironic how a person's death can change your life.


I've wanted to write this post since he passed.  I first started doing so within a day of him being gone.
I planned on writing it more for me than anything else.  My hope is the words that come out here will set them free from me forever.  Perhaps it will lessen the stabbing pain that, over time, turned into a dull hurt that just exists within...

But maybe not.  I have cried many tears.  I'm almost fresh out.

Crushing News
It was February, 2019.  My Father called to tell me they suspected he had lung cancer.   I was gutted.  But thought... this will be a long battle we can take on.  See, my Mother In Law had just dealt with lung cancer herself and she had made it through the storm.  A "survivor" for just shy of 3 years now.

Two weeks later, as my Father was scheduling his appointments and making his plans, his breathing suddenly got worse.  Now, mind you, he already had the chronic condition of COPD so breathing trouble was something we were all familiar with.   But this was different and I was worried so I told him to go to urgent care.  He didn't want to... until later that day when he had no choice.  He landed in the ICU with Pneumonia.  We all figured he would be given a walking breathing machine which he'd have to lug around the rest of his life but that was not the case.  He was in ICU for 4-5 nights before they moved him into a regular hospital room.  I didn't know it yet, but this was because doctors felt between the COPD, Pneumonia and Cancer (which had metastasized to his adrenal glands and bones)... they didn't suspect he'd live very long.

They were right.

I'm an only child.  We were a close family of 3.  Life never gave my parents anything they didn't work for.  Dad went to night school to earn his BA, while he was working full time and a father to a newborn.  My mother quit her job to raise me.  She didn't buy special purses.  They didn't go on tons of big trips.  There were no huge peaks and no deep valleys.  I felt safe, secure and very loved.  Until now... for some reason I felt that safety slipping away.

While my Father was in the hospital, I was in Arizona being a Mom.  My daughter had a dance competition and had gotten sick with the flu during it.  I caught that flu so I couldn't rush to my Dads side when I was needed.  Finally, when I did reach the hospital I was quickly given the news.

There was nothing else they could do.

Those are words that crush you.  You feel powerless, devestated and maybe a little mad all at once.   Doctors believed the best option was hospice.  My Father felt so bad... not for himself.  For me and my Mom.  He felt responsible for this horrible predicament we were in because he was the one who didn't stop smoking even after I repeatedly begged him for years as a child, teen and adult.  I wished I wasn't right.  Or maybe I just wished he had listened to me.  Not because I knew better but because he did.  My Dad had always taken care of my Mom and I and suddenly he would no longer be able to do so.  I would lose the biggest cheerleader of my life.

"Are you happy?" he asked after I received the dire news.  A sweet homage to something I used to say all the time as a child when people seemed down... "NO Dad," I said, "No I am really really not happy" and neither was he.  But, as he clutched the stuffed animal from his granddaughter and the blanket from his grandson (below), the man kept a brave face the whole time.  He would "keep pounding" for as long as he could.


The next day was spent laughing and talking, discussing and crying.  The decision had been made to go home so the preparation began.  The doctors gave him a couple weeks.  I was focused on those weeks... appreciating the time I had ahead to love on him as much as I could.

He was released to go home on a Friday and when he got there he adamantly told my Mom "it wouldn't be long,"  I thought that was his way of trying to ease her mind.  He always tried to do that... but now I'm not sure.  I now think he knew something the doctors didn't.

He perked up when he got home.  I was surprised but encouraged.  It was on this day he relayed the last stories he would ever tell.  I had heard the same stories at least 333 times before... about how I got my middle name and how all 3 of our birthdays and my parents anniversary lined up in a very sweet, coincidental way.  But this time, as he spoke, I knew it was different.  Because I had a feeling those proud stories would never be heard, from his lips, again.

Now I longed to hear the stories I dreaded over the years.

You know, the ones where you roll your eyes as they're being told?  He would talk endlessly about me to anyone who would listen.  Stories about the day I was born - when the raced from Corona Del Mar to the Newport Beach Hospital - where my Mom almost had me in the car.  Or the first time I tasted ice cream or chocolate or when another pre-schooler thought I was a boy.  I'd never hear about the best friend he named Begonia (her name was Tanya) or the time one of his clients kept calling to hear the voicemail I had left on the machine because it was so funny,  or when I called him from college crying about having no money in my checking account,  or the time he dropped me off in Kennewick, Washington for my first TV job in the dead of Winter and feared for my life.

I would never hear any of that any more... and it was crushing.

I cherished those stories for that brief and final time.  It meant he was in a good spot.  But I was not.  My sickness had come roaring back in.  I needed to rest.  So we all went to sleep.

I thought we could pick up where we left off the next day.  But he couldn't talk very well.  His breathing had gotten worse and he wanted nothing to do with food... though he let me slowly stuff an Italian Ice down his throat.  It was during this time that he said to me, "this is taking too long."  Dad never wanted to be hooked up to stuff lying in a bed waiting to pass away.  He had made that abundantly clear over the years.  Shortly after that through his hoarse voice he said, "I want to go home" to which I replied, "You are home Dad."   But he was not in the home he was speaking of... he was ready to go to Heaven.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving  
That was the greatest gift he ever gave me,  teaching me, that home was always where your Lord lived.  It was a lesson that some may take for granted.  I have not.  I never will.

I said goodbye to Dad that night.  Nothing poetic or special... I just tearfully gave him a kiss and told him I'd be back.  I had to leave California and go to my Arizona house because I needed to repack, see my children, get healthier and come back to him.  I would be gone a little more than 24 hours.  As I knew it... he had weeks.  I spent the next day calling friends, getting his Pastor to make one last visit (Dad's request) and arranging for around the clock care.  Care we would have to pay for... I was happy to do it.  Dad was not.

No matter, he didn't have to pay for that care.

They called me that day and said he was barely responding.  The 4 breathing machines we had learned on Friday were no longer needed by Sunday.  He was one step above life support.  Hospice would not be leaving his side.  My Dad would be happy to know we wouldn't have to pay a nurse $25 an hour.  I think he pulled some strings with God for that one.  In the middle of the night, the day after I left, they called to say he was gone.  It was his 3rd day on hospice.   March 3rd.  I wasn't there.  Greatest regret.

You'd think the story would end there.  But you'd be wrong.



God was Not Finished Yet
My 8 year old son sent the above text to my Dad's phone a couple days after he passed.  I'm not sure why.  Grandpa Gordon wasn't going to answer.  Apparently it was his way of trying to reach out to someone he loved and missed dearly.  If only he could answer.

During the time my Father was sick, our family dog, Maverick, who also had his share of breathing problems, declined.  His favorite person on earth (besides us)... was my Dad.  He was on some meds but they didn't seem to be working.  Maverick was old, 16 years old.  That's like a serious senior Labrador.  But the decline was too hard to ignore.  His breathing was more labored than ever before.  Oddly, similar to my Fathers.  But he carried on.

It was about 3 weeks later after my Dad died that my husband called to tell me some horrible news about his Father.  After dinner and a brief celebration of his Mom's recent Cancer "clear" news - his Dad had some sort of stroke (hemorrhage) in his home, was found unconscious and was rushed to the ER.

The news was grim.

He never woke up after that.  Doctors soon explained there was no hope for any positive recovery.  I got on a plane a day later to say goodbye to the man who had raised the person I have to come to know as one of the strongest, most loyal and caring individuals I have ever met and it was excruciating.  But we did it.  Together.


We then came home to tell our children the shocking news and watch our daughter in a dance competition. I remember being so worried about our dog, Mav, as his decline was incredibly noticeable.  When we went to bed that night we were both emotionally exhausted.  I tried to feed Maverick but he wasn't much interested in his food.  That was odd but after what we'd been through I didn't push it.  He laid in a corner of our bathroom I'd never seen him in before, while that too was odd, I just let him be.

Goodbye Again 
It was in the middle of that night that he wailed in a way I'd never heard before.  It was like a howl.  I immediately woke up and turned on the light.  Before me was a dog who could no longer move the bottom half of his body.  It looked as though he was paralyzed from the waist down.

 Fortunately, due to the cicumstances,  my husband was home.  He was supposed to be in Florida.
We gave him a portion of a tranquilizer to calm him down and in the morning I told my kids they should say goodbye to the only pet they've ever known.  When we got back to the house after taking the kids to school Maverick was in yet another corner.  I'm sure he shimmied himself there since his bottom half was not working at all.  We retreated to the office to talk about what to do and the same yelp wailed from his gut.


I couldn't believe this was happening.  For a third time in almost as many weeks.

We rushed him to the vet and he gave us some choices.  None of them good.  All of them almost cruel.  So I asked him about the last choice... the one no one wanted to mention.  He agreed that was the best option.  That dog looked right into my eyes - almost begging for me to let him go.  I had just seen those same eyes in my Father.




The next step was peaceful and painful at the same time.

If you ever have to do it you'll know what I mean.  We left and I'm pretty sure I had a panic attack in the car.  Once home I walked in to the house and because it was so silent - I walked right back out.  I just couldn't do it.  I needed to sit outside and cry.  But as I did my husband came over, comforted me and said... "You're not gonna believe what I'm looking at..."

Sign From Above 



As I sat on the wall, the sun high above my head, my shadow was a spitting image of our dog's silhouette.  How could that be I asked?  It just was... the shape of my shadow was him.

It was all I needed.  Those 3 were together in Heaven looking down on us.  Together.

They were happy.  We were devastated.  So much sadness.  So many tears.  All of it a coincidence yet none of it a coincidence. God was certainly talking to us.

The Power of 3's
People always say things happen in 3's.

Even though I didn't know it - it has always been significant in my life.  Why?  I think it's to remind us of God's presence.  The number 3 holds huge significance in the bible.  Think about it.

Father/Son/Holy Ghost.  There were 3 crucified when Jesus was up on that cross.  He rose on the 3rd day.  Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus.  3 Wiseman (or at least 3 gifts).  The list goes on.  So I'm pretty sure this was all part of a plan I wasn't privy to... but a part of...

The Greatest Lessons
I have never experienced death like I did in 2019.  I hope I don't have to again anytime soon but I did learn some things.  I learned in the weeks before death everything you do are mountains, not mole hills.  Every word said, step taken, picture snapped.  They all matter more.  So soak them in... take your time.  You will never get that moment back.  Ever.  And the loss will be felt.  Some time.  Either right then, or when you're driving down the street.  Perhaps when you're at a park or watching a commercial.  It will hit you when you least expect it.

So in order to avoid having any regrets... take your time while going through this time.

I also learned life after death, for the living, is just like the movies.  You wake up in the home that used to be filled with noise of that person no longer there and the silence is deafening.  It is an unreal, new reality.

In my case, I learned that when your parent dies you finally and officially grow up.  I think this is true for everyone.  You can be 70, 50, 30 or 13.... but under no circumstances can you run to them anymore and ask for help.  It is totally and completely up to you now and forever more.


I should mention my Father left behind not only me but the woman he loved for years.  My Mom was his responsibility.  He (maybe sometimes begrudgingly) loved caring for her.  But he had been telling me in the years leading up to his last day that her memory was fading.  He was right.  She is now officially diagnosed with Alzheimers.

So we will celebrate this Father's Day together.

God is speaking to you.
Perhaps most importantly, this whole experience left me with one glaring and blaring message.  I believe it's the most important lesson I learned during this time.

That is simply this... God speaks to each and everyone of us throughout our lives.

But in order to hear him we have to be listening.  Because he's not picking up the phone.  There are no door bells ringing.  No one's coming over an intercom saying "Nicole, God's on line one!"  We have to be looking and willing to hear his voice.

On my last Birthday while my Dad was alive, he wrote me a letter.  He had never once done that before in his life.  Just wasn't his style.  

My daughter asked him to... she knew words mattered very much to me.  In it he said that he was proud.  That it had been such a joy to see me grow.  He said, "You wear many hats.  You are a daughter, wife and mother.  All hats look very good on you which means you are doing things right."

Dad made me believe I was the best.  Not the best Realtor or Journalist or Party Planner.  But I was simply the best daughter and person he could ever know.  He always made that abundantly clear.  And that filled me up.  I can only hope that I am doing that for my children.   At the end of the letter he reminded me, "all of us our blessed" and closed with "p.s. Thank You God"

Through this process the good Lord was shouting at me all of those things.  And he's constantly seeking my attention now.  He still has more to say.

Yes, I miss my Dad.  More than anything.  But when I look back on the time I wrote about here it's like I was living out a good, long Novel written just for me (and my family).  Each and every move orchestrated by someone from above.  I wish he was still here today but (among many things) God was telling me he was needed more in heaven.

Today, our life continues to be blessed, even through the madness that has followed us as well as the entire country in which we live right now.  Since Dad left I now manage all aspects of Mom's life.  I am happy to do so... because she has always taken care of me and my family right back.  For that matter, in some ways, so too does my Dad.  Directly and indirectly, he is still there.  

That... all part of God's plan.  Glad I was listening.  

So what may God be telling you?  Because I promise he's trying to get your attention.  Somehow.


Finally tonight, 
A week ago, more than a year after we lost our dog Maverick, my Dad and Father In Law.... we decided it was time to get a new puppy.  A Silver Lab.  Seen one of those?  Many have these gorgeous blue eyes when they're young.  They're kind of rare.  This, we believed, was the perfect Summer to get a pup.  Not much sports or traveling happening so... we drove all the way to a small town called Pearsall in the SouthWest part of Texas to pick up the new addition.  As we made our way to the Ranch where he was born... we turned the corner only to see a big sign that read: "Maverick Self Storage".

Turns out Pearsall, Texas is home of the "Mavericks"... now isn't that a coincidence?



Actually... no it's not.  It's really not a coincidence at all.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  Thanks for still being there... even when you're not.
P.S. Thank you God.












Tuesday, April 21, 2020

5 EASY Improvements to Sell Your House (after COVID Quarantine)

The Headlines: 


Stuck in Your House?

Has it made you realize... you need a Home?  




April 2020 is the month we all spent inside.

I wrote a blog on this a few weeks ago explaining why I think this could be a good thing for families all over the world.  You can check that out HERE

But I also predict 3 other things will happen during this time of "quarantine":
  1. Agoraphobia cases (a type of anxiety disorder which can eventually lead to a fear of leaving your home - going outdoors) in the U.S. will rise.  While people will soon get the OK to go back to normal, some won't feel comfortable doing so and sadly it could impact them... for a long time.   
  2. There will be more Divorces.  The number of cases in China have already gone up.  Typically, a bad marriage won't get better in isolation.  It will end.   
  3. People will want to move.  Left in their place of residence long enough - essentially trapped - they will decide it's time for a change of scenery.  Let me explain this one a little more.
There are two kinds of residences.

One is a house.  Simply used as a place to rest your head and eat a couple meals.   Many of us currently live in a house.  Why?  Because we're too busy working.  Keeping up with kid sports.  Shopping.  Catching a movie.  Going out to dinner.  Meeting people for coffee.  Going on vacations.  All of the things that have stopped happening for now.

The other place people live is a home.  This is a place where those inside really enjoy being.  They bought it because they wanted to be there as much as their schedules would allow.  They decorate, cook, play sports in the driveway, swim in the backyard.  They have friends over.  Watch Netflix.  It's a place that they leave because they HAVE to... now that's a home.


It's my contention that after the COVID conclusion... many people will be determined to leave their House and look for a Home.  Suddenly finding a home will become a priority,

If that's you... you may be thinking about selling sooner than later.  So here's some food for thought...

5 EASY Improvements to Sell Your House 

1 - Paint Baseboards
They immediately make your house pop.   The difference is worth the time & low cost.


2 - Install new Light Fixtures/Fans  
I'll be honest, I've taken buyers into homes and they immediately are smitten with the cool chandelier/pendant.  Do you then know how many times sellers will say, "light fixture does not convey."   Really?  That was one of the reasons my buyers perked up to begin with... it won't necessarily kill a deal but a scene stealer light will sweeten it!



3 - Take DOWN Curtains
Many curtains either scream - I'm dated or are too heavy for the room.  There are definite exceptions to this rule... but not many.  If you have curtains that truly enhance the room and you don't mind parting with them, leave them up.

But consider this, if you really like them and take them down before you market the house - YOU can keep them for your next place!  See, win-win.

4 - Replace faucets
It's easier than replacing a counter top and can give that extra sparkle that buyers will notice.


5 - Change the Door Handles/Knobs
This could cost a bit of coin, depending on the quality.  But if you've got old, perhaps brass knobs - you know what I'm talking about.


Consider doing it.  It's like sporting an awesome outfit and wearing old jewelry.  Conversely, put on some fabulous new earrings, throw on an amazing bracelet and it completes the new look!  SOLD!

***Bonus  
This is a no brainer but it warrants mentioning.  Spring cleaning is great for selling a house.  The less stuff in it, the bigger it looks.  Think closet.  Stuffed closet means you don't have enough room.  Closet with space looks bigger.

And do a deep clean.  I mean get out those Magic Eraser Sponges and clean your place up!  You'd be surprised how many people DON'T do this and it's not good.

Finally tonight, I will say one more thing.  I've said it before multiple times.  I did a blog on it HERE  but it doesn't hurt to talk about it again in this forum.  Since we're on the subject and all...

Paint all your Walls White.   This, if you really want to take it up a notch and give your house the most opportunity to SELL FAST.  Painting clearly takes a little more work and possibly time and money...  But, WHITE walls go a loooooooong way.

I know everyone has a white obsession right now.  I always have (see above Blog Post).  But the reason is bigger than that.  No doubt White makes rooms looks larger.  But even more than that, color, even the slightest bit of it... can be offensive.  Think orange accent wall or purple bedrooms.

You may love it - but that potential buyer... hates it.

If you're thinking about buying or selling and want help doing it... don't hesitate to call or email me nicole@onepickychick.com or my brokerage Posh Properties.  Until then, stay safe, healthy and busy!  You may have some work to do...


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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons...

The Headlines:



Since COVID-19 our entire country is stuck inside.

Are you going to panic? 

Or...?



The other day my neighbor asked me if I wanted some lemons.  Her trees produced too many and she wanted to share if I was up for some.

Ahhhhh.... YES!

See, I like to "decorate" with produce.  It just brings a fresh, Spring feel to the house.  Little did I know that those lemons would come in handy.   I would not just use them for decoration.

Since the Corona Virus, aka COVID-19, came racing into our lives it's pretty clear these are  unprecedented modern times. We've heard much about past pandemics.  Like in a far off, historical way.  Including the Asian Flu, Spanish Flu, AIDS.  For the record, turns out Ebola was not a Pandemic but an epidemic since it was confined to West Africa.

With today's Medicine many of us thought this day would never come.  But it's here.  And it has a lot of us concerned, uncomfortable and downright scared.


So now the question is... how are you handling COVID-19?  What are you showing to your kids?  Who are you becoming?  Really?  Think about it.  Are you fighting for toilet paper or picking up some goods for your neighbor.  Taking or giving?  Are you praying or pouting?

Do not get me wrong.  It's bad.  Some people are affected greatly and sadly by this virus.  My cousin is one of them.  She was in the ICU in the west side of Washington State for about a week, doctors say she almost didn't make it.  She is not 75.  She's my age.  Which means a young chick.  Just kidding.  Let's leave it at - not 75.  She's now healing at home and is expected to be okay.  We continue to hope.

I'm really not trying to be some high on herself Mom who has no worries or concerns.  I know this is not good.  I am aware people are losing their jobs, struggling to make ends meet, worried for their children and their grandmothers.  I am one of them.

But I'm also choosing to see beyond all that is horrible. Stop and think: Has there ever been a time or will there ever be a time again that we will be with our families with nothing to do but be together?  In fact, quite the opposite.  When this is over - because it will be over - we're all going to have to get to work.  We'll have a lot of catching up to do.  The appointments will come back, sports will start, work will pick up.  YOU WILL GO TO THE MALL and OUT TO DINNER.

Until then, consider this - those lemons -  know what we did with them?  We made lemonade for the first time.  We made lemonade.  Something so simple.  Something we have never had the "time" to do before.  What else are we doing?  We're sleeping in.  I am writing in this blog (which I never get to do)!  We discuss, together, what we're having each night for dinner.  I've seen families walking in our neighborhood.  Never seen that before.  We hang out in the backyard, the front yard.  We watch TV shows together.  In fact, we're running out.



Any ideas?  Seriously, let me know.  What do families watch these days?

I'm even playing basketball with my son (a first).  My daughter is creating art for her room.   All of these things were not happening 2 weeks ago.  Instead, we were on a hamster wheel trying to catch up.  Never stopping.  Constantly running.

The world is a different place and while it's a change we didn't see coming it may be the 180 we needed.  I ran in to my friend at Target today.  We stayed (almost) 6 feet away and she said something I believe is true, "God is trying to get our attention."  I agree with her.  Someone (I choose to believe it's God) desperately wants to remind us to take a break, slow down and look up.  See what's right in front of you.  Appreciate what you have.  Pay attention to it.

Now... grab hold of it.

Yesterday I watched the local news.  I live in Arizona so I was watching CBS 5 and my good friend Paul Horton (we did news together years ago in WA state and then re-connected here) was doing the weather forecast FROM HIS HOME.  His two adorable children were climbing all over him and it was precious.  When will that happen again?  Maybe never.  But it's happening now.

This time will come to an end.  We will be healthier.  People will go back to work and school (thank you Jesus).  The alarm will wake us up at 5:45 again.  And then, this one moment in time, will be gone.  That brief period of your personal history when we got to be together with no strings attached, nothing to do, no where to go...  will be all over.  We'll tell our grandkids about it in story book fashion and, contrary to popular belief now, one day, we may actually long for it.

Because the bottom line is, if you stay healthy, have food (toilet paper/paper towels) as long as you have some dollars (which lawmakers are about to roll out a stimulus) if you have a roof over your head... you and your family will be ok.  You'll be fine.  Remember that.  Believe it.  Tell your kids that... they need to see and hear it.  Not from President Trump.  From you.


Finally tonight, Sunday I saw 60 minutes.  Haven't watched that show in a while either.  They had a man by the name of Neil Kashkari, the current president of the National Reserve Bank and a former Treasury official who helped get us out of the 2008 economic crash and what he said was good.  He admits this Corona Crisis will be a difficult financial situation that could get better or worse, depending on how long we stay "sick."  But he also said something we need to hold on to - a message that is so important for us to remember right now (which covers yet goes beyond the financial assessment he was speaking to)... he said: we got through the last devestating financial crisis and we will get through this one.  

Together.

And while we're waiting... make some Lemonade.
Here's to being cautious and careful, my friends, but not crazy.

Love and blessings,
Nicole

To see his Neil Kashkari's full interview on 60 Minutes click HERE




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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Transform Your Office

THE HEADLINES:


Find your STAR


Follow it.

Change what's bugging you.

Today. 



Sometimes you look up and find a guiding light... it will shine brighter than you knew possible.  And make a simple dream become reality.  This is true with anything... even a room!

An office is a big deal.  This, may not occur to you since most people think about kitchens and bathrooms first.   Or if you go to someone else's building and do work this will not pertain to you.  This is for the person with the home office.  Because if you have one and use one, there's a good chance you spend most of your days in it.

Therefore, an office needs to be 2 things:  functional AND cool looking.  Promise, you'll work better in here.


Let's take the 3-2-1 approach.

Like you're blasting off, into greatness.  Below was what I had to work with.  Not much.  We had already painted this room and put in new wood floors.  So at least there was that.  Everything else was... bad.  This desk was my husbands old work desk from when he first put his home office together in let's say the ripe old year of 1998.  It had to go.  We also had the chair that we rocked our kids in for like 4 -5 years, maybe more, I'm not sure.  So... we had a clean slate.


Countdown begins...
THREE - Define It.  As I always say when decorating.. first you have to Define Your Style.  See that full explanation by clicking HERE.  Basically, you just decide: What's your style?  What do you want your home to be?  Modern-Minimalist?  Rustic-Romance?  Desert-Farm-Cottage?  Beach-Casual-Chic?  You need at least 2 to 3 words to describe what you're aiming for.  Typically this is done for an entire house but sometimes... it's just one room.  As in my case.  My house is very light and white - for which I have coined the term - Desert Cottage.  But for my office I changed it up a bit.  It's the only room painted an, obviously, different color. I wanted it to be warmer, more masculine and highly functional.

Therefore, my Defined Style here became Rustic Ranch (w/ color).  Now that I've got "Defined Style" it's time to get moving!

TWO -  Gather it.  Clear out your current room and shop for your new one.  On-line, in stores, look for what will fit your above plan.  Gather all of it up, sell it, buy it, give it away... whatever means you need.

***TIP  Get especially friendly with your tape measure - bring it everywhere with you!

I bought two desks so I could wrap around the room.  I contemplated making desks (which shouldn't be that hard) but knew my husband would never get around to that...  the key here though was making another work space and opening up the room.  The way the desks hugged the wall accomplished that as opposed to the old huge desk that took up the whole space.

What else did I gather?   I found a comfy leather (leather always screams office to me) chair to watch some TV if someone needed a break!

I looked for fun accessories like in the form of this side table.  I just love the (fake) cowhide look.  It works in so many "defined styles"!!! 


I also housed all my office pens and paperclips in jars to bring some flair while adding practicality.  I'll need those things often and they'll be easy to find now!


We put up some wood shelves (found on Etsy) held up with pipes and added a lot of boxes (Ikea).
I run my household and business out of this room.  I practically live here.  So lots has to be stored.  All those Boxes allow me to do that,  But I also wanted some extra pendants to shine, well, more light on the writing spaces.  Plus, add to the look...

 ***TIP set up pendants in already existing canned light spaces to make install easier!


Now, the super fun part...
THREE -  Set it.  Sometimes this takes a day, sometimes 4 weeks.  Depending upon how efficient your planning is... this is also where some mistakes can be made.  Like... something might not fit.  Or doesn't sit well with you.  Then it goes back.

***TIP Check the return policy before you buy,  sometimes there's a re-stocking fee or no returns at all.

If you don't take it back... it gets re-purposed.  That's what happened here...

I love this rug.  But it just didn't work at all with this room.  The room needed more texture and warmth.  And the return policy on the rug stunk.  Therefore, I had to Plan B it.  In this case, I knew if I couldn't use this rug here I could use it outside or where it ended up...


in the dining room.  This is where it belongs.  And when I'm done with it... it can head to the patio!

P.S.  Note the new large light fixture over the dining table - I happen to love that new addition too.

Finally tonight,
Getting rid of that rug made me look for what became the clear STAR of the show.  You know, whether you're choreographing a dance, putting together a company or decorating a room you have to have one STAR - to shine!  This often happens when you start a project.  An old heirloom, a special piece of art, something that just makes the place.  Then, all decorating centers around that one STAR! But sometimes, like in this case, it comes later.


When I got rid of the striped rug I found the one that belonged...  it brought everything together.  It was the STAR and it made the room sing.  The new rug also gave me some colors to play off of and add to the room... which is why I brought in the flowers and candies.

It was a perfectly well priced, colorful, low pile, large piece that my chairs rolled over while my heart "swooned"...


And the STAR takes a bow... Now blast off!





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