Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everybody Makes Mistakes

Making mistakes is part of life. The real question is how much those mistakes we make cost us. My latest one, about $1,000. It all started off innocently enough. Our master bedroom cried out for a small renovation project. Our home was built in 1986 and I've worked really hard over the past 15 years we've lived here to not make our rooms look like 1986. There really isn't a room in the house we haven't renovated in some way (some minor and some major) to really make our house the home we enjoy daily. But through all those projects we've entangled ourselves with, the one room we really didn't touch was our master bedroom. So, needing a project, because that's just the way I operate, I decided to tackle the master bedroom on a very small budget. Small budget meaning remove the wallpaper myself (thanks so much Dad for doing most of the work helping). To all you novice renovators out there here's a tidbit I'd like to pass on to you all. When removing wallpaper that has been there for decades and you plan to paint, you MUST coat the walls with an oil-based primer before painting with latex paint. Why? Because when you remove the wallpaper, I don't care how much you wash down those walls, you'll never get off all the glue residue from the wallpaper. So, to make a new clean wall surface for your room's paint, you must apply an oil-based primer to the walls first. I was going with a dark room color so I actually got the primer tinted, as well. I highly recommend this! Also, oil-based primers smell to high heaven. Be sure to buy the "odor-free" kind. It's really not odor-free but it's a low odor that allows you to still breathe while you work.

You can try to take the easy route and not prime your walls and the room will look decent for about 6 months. But after that, you'll start to see bubbling of the paint for no apparent reason. That, my friend, is the wallpaper adhesive seaping through your paint, trying to bust out like a deathrow inmate from Alcatraz.

Back to my story...I removed all the wallpaper and was ready to begin painting on the primer. I put down my drop cloths (old bed sheets) and then it happened. What many wives who want new carpet would call an "accident" happened to me - but I swear not on purpose. I spilled the can of primer on the carpet in the middle of the room. The bed sheets soaked up the primer right into the carpet. (Note: Do not use bed sheets as drop cloths, use plastic tarp.) Did I mention it was oil-based!!! So, that was that. My $100-just-buy-some-paint project turned into a $1,000 getting-new-carpet-but-not-wanting-to-spend-the-money project. Hey, it happens, we all make mistakes (thanks for saying that line to me,sweatheart), and the carpet was original to the house so it probably needed replacing anyway. Always look at the positive!!! Now we have to get all the furniture back into the room, but at least we have new carpet.
Thought about doing nothing but it happened to be in the middle of the room (open space where we walk).

I love the new carpet smell wafting through the house when the breeze blows. Serenity now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

True Friendship Lasts Forever

Today's playdate. Waffles for lunch, what could be better?
My son has a great friend. These boys have been the bestest of friends since they were itty-bitty preschoolers. Six years later the friendship continues to grow strong. How is it that these two boys who don't live in the same neighborhood or go to the same school remain such close friends after all these years? I'll tell you how...parental commitment. My son's friend's mom and I make a concerted effort to keep playdates on the schedule year after year. Good friends are hard to find and when you find a good one, you don't want to let it go. But, the boys are young and it's not like they could schedule their own playdates by phoning each other and penciling each other into their own schedules. So to my son's best friend's mom, I want you to know that I'm grateful for your own commitment and steadfastness to our sons' friendship. Because we as parents make the effort, they are building a relationship that will last a lifetime - no matter where our sons end up - near or far. 
And what playdate would be complete without LEGO Hero Factory?

I've got a few friends like that from childhood that are such a blessing to me. Although we don't talk regularly or see each other often, when we do, we immediately pick up where we left off because we have so much history together from our childhood. Keep those childhood friendships going - it's what warms the heart when you're older.

Do you have any childhood friendships that have survived into adulthood? How do you keep in touch and how often?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love/Hate Relationships

We all have that special something that we love for so many reasons and can't live without but it's that one big issue we can't ignore that gives us a tinge of woe. Here's some of mine. What's yours? Comment and share if you dare.

The best. toy. ever. invented: LEGOs. My son loves them so much and it feeds his imagination daily. Love, love, love LEGOs! Hate the fact that there really is no good way to store and organize all the pieces. I have LEGOs strewn about all over my house, under the bed, inside the vacuum cleaner, you get the idea.

I love cooking. One way I like to show my love for my family is cooking homemade meals. With all that cooking comes a lot of dirty dishes and "equipment".  I hate the clean-up of all those dishes, pots, pans...(thanks for doing those dishes tonight my sweet)

I love everything there is to love about gardens. Beautiful colors and scents, compliments of Mother Nature.  I hate the gardening part of gardens. Here it is almost July and I just finished spring clean-up of the yard and garden beds. That's just wrong. If it wasn't for my son helping out each day (I paid him in Go-Go's Evolution packs - if you thought organizing LEGOs was bad, think again) I'd still be doing spring clean-up in August.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What is LOVD?

The obvious next question, right? I'll do my best to summarize briefly. My husband is a night-owl, and I, as fate would have it, am not. Although I wouldn't label myself someone who jumps out of bed at the crack of dawn with a smile on her face, I do manage to be an early riser even though most days it doesn't look pretty. But if I had to choose a label, I'm the early bird getting the proverbial worm.

You have to understand, my husband owns his own business and is up most days until 2 AM working, and working, and (you get the picture). Most nights when I'm sitting across from him, the head I see connected to his body is the top of the laptop computer with the brightly glowing piece of fruit (Apple) staring back at me (almost mocking me as if to say, "I've got his attention and you don't, so there!) Well, not being the jealous type, I find a comfy place in the room and have the TV lull me to sleep around 10:00 PM. I finally figured out it wasn't out of exhaustion that I was catching some ZZZZ's but rather boredom that took over my conscience state. My husband suggested I find a hobby that would keep me awake at night so I could at least make it until 11:00 PM before zonking out. Enter jewelry-making hobby. I found this really cool method of interweaving copper wire jump rings into bracelets. After my first attempt I was hooked. I now understand all you knitters out there. I love the rhythm I get into when I'm making a bracelet, and the challenge of figuring out a weave really feeds my engineering mind. I began customizing bracelets by adding personalized sterling silver charms to the bracelets that I stamp by hand. (More on that later.) I also got into glass pendants because I love designing new images and placing them behind glass to wear as necklaces.
Royal Pearl Bracelet

Jewelry Box Bracelet for a Communion
 I started wearing what I made and people started to notice. After several inquiries I decided to start making bracelets for people who asked. After all how many bracelets could I make for myself? I began taking custom orders and voila!, a business was born. Friends suggested I share my creations with the world so I'll be opening my Etsy shop soon. Keep an eye out!

I never expected to be a jewelry designer. In fact, I started a college admissions consulting business several years ago called College Driven so it's not like I was needing some new business venture. But this jewelry-making thing has become so much fun and really helps me explore my creative side. Very soon you'll see my wares at a local boutique in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. I am very excited about the opportunity (more on that later, too)!

I have no explanation of how I got from Point A to Point B other than this must be the journey God has prepared for me during this time of my life. I believe it, I'm going with it, I'm on board, I'm grateful for it. Everything has fallen into place so nicely that I can't imagine it could be anything but God. Where ever this leads, to God be all the glory.

Have you ever stepped out and did something not knowing where it was going to lead, but somehow you knew it was all going to be good?

Sunday, June 26, 2011


“Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true”, as the old saying goes. I was out to lunch with some female co-workers. The year is 2004. Many of us at this weekly ritual had been blessed with beautiful, healthy children but have been denied the luxury of deep pockets, thereby denying us of that world of mystery: stay-at-home motherhood. We could, of course, only dream of how lovely life could be as a stay-at-home mom. We all spoke of how wonderfully clean and immaculate our homes would be if only we stayed at home. We fantasized about the healthy, gourmet meals we would have time to make and present to our families at dinnertime. To us, lives as a stay-at-home mom would be as close to a perfect life as we could ever imagine.

My girlfriends and I would scoff at the mothers who had the nerve to patron busy lunch establishments like Panera Bread, children in tow, while we, the working moms, only had one hour to stand in line, place our order, scarf down our meal and help spread office gossip. Couldn’t these stay-at-home moms do just that and stay at home? Couldn’t they find another hour in their whole stay-at-home day to emerge out of their cozy suburban colonials just to grab a bite to eat with their screaming kids? Who could put a child through all that commotion and craziness? Didn’t these kids have naps to take like our own day care kids were doing at this exact time? Yes, the frustration was voiced often, but secretly, jealousy and envy were behind our words against the stay-at-home mom. The sisterhood of motherhood was never so divided as during our lunchtime conversations.

For as long as I can remember, if anyone were to ask me who I was as a person, I’d simply respond with what I was doing with my life at the time. My actions were the definition of me. When I was in college, I was an engineering student. When I got my first job, I was a design engineer. Revealing too much of my own personality was just to brazen, too egocentric to share with other people. At parties, I’d approach an acquaintance with the safest question there was, “Hello. So, what do you do?” Never was it a question of “What do you like to do”. Although subtlety different by just one word, the connotation of the phrase is dramatic. I have often believed one’s career defines the individual person. At least, that’s how I used to define myself as a person. When I became a mother, my perspective changed. I remember standing next to my son’s crib the first day of daycare and just sobbing. I pulled myself together on my way to work. Luckily, my work was only 5 minutes away from daycare so I’d count down the hours until noon just so I could spend my lunchtime with my little guy. I’d do this every day and I’d wish even more to be a stay-at-home mom. I still defined myself to others through my career but motherhood for me was too personal to ever throw out on the table as a job description. At parties I’d still respond with, “Oh, I’m an engineer” when asked the question of what I did. The fact that I was a working mom never entered into conversation. I’m not sure if it’s because the role of motherhood was too sacred, too complex of a role to define in one sentence, “…and I’m a mother…” I was much more than that and stating it in that way was too belittling. Or, was it the secret notion of longing to answer the question with the words, “I’m a stay-at-home mom”? No, either way, motherhood couldn’t be defined that simply and so I’d define myself to others, once again, through my latest career title.

But, by the time my son was 2 ½ years old, my career path was stagnant. Why not get out of the working world and take the plunge into stay-at-home motherhood? Well, easier said than done considering the fact my employer was funding my pursuit of an MBA. If I wanted to leave, I’d have to pay back the money or stay and “serve” for 2 additional years. After only 3 months of receiving my MBA my wish came true. My employer was forced to layoff 50 engineers and my name was on the list. I must have been the only one dancing to my car. Ironically, that day my son was at his grandparents’s house so I didn’t have to pick him up from daycare on my way home. After the news of my unemployment, I decided to take in a massage, my first ever, before heading home to talk with my husband on what our new future was going to look like.

I woke up the next morning just staring at the ceiling, alone in the bed. My husband was in the office down the hall. He probably figured he’d better get moving on gaining new business clients to ramp up his own business since our income had been slashed. All I could feel was guilt and a sense of emptiness and confusion. The bliss I experienced from the day before had vanished just like a dream over night. I had no job. I had no identity. Who was I now, without a job, without a title? What would I say at parties when I was asked, “So what do you do”? Ugh, for what had I wished? Was I a directionless person? I had no choice but to begin finding out the real me. The me without a job, without a title, just me.

I began my road of self-discovery almost 7 years ago. I had to learn to redefine my existence for myself and be happy in my own right. The day I was laid off was a turning point in my life. It was the day of new beginnings. Finally, I was able to stay home with our, at the time, 2 ½ year old son and raise him the way we had always wanted. Staying at home was right for us but it certainly didn’t please everyone. Many knew me as the career-minded, type-A personality, go-getter who was determined to “do it all”. My parents questioned where their $100,000 of college tuition had gone if I was not to continue to work in my field. I was given an opportunity to decide I didn’t want to “do it all”. I finally realized I had a choice. My husband and I have made financial sacrifices along the way. There were days when I thought I would lose my sanity. But since the “morning after” I have never, never regretted welcoming my wish into my and my family’s life. I know my son has benefited from my staying home and so have I, along with my husband and his business. Many wouldn’t dream of making the transition from one world into another, but for us it works. The day I was laid off from my job was the day I started finding myself and defining myself as a person, not a job title or career choice. It’s not that the day was important, but rather the importance that I got out of the day.

The cleanliness of my house may not meet the delusional high expectations set at that work luncheon with my girlfriends so long ago and I’ve been known to pick up fast food for dinner a time or two. But I no longer define myself as super woman. The world of working mom and the world of stay-at-home mom collided in my world 7 years ago to make my world and my definition of myself as just “me”. If you want to get to know me, then I can’t define it in one sentence. I’d be happy to tell you all about myself. Perhaps we could meet at Panera Bread sometime for lunch, say about noon? I’ll bring my son.

Friday, June 24, 2011

To New Beginnings

Well, this is it. I'll be starting my daily blog on Sunday, June 26th and I just cannot wait! I hope my random thoughts find a way into your heart and you take away a piece of inspiration, happiness, and love. I look forward to getting to know you as we share thoughts and ideas, slowly turning strangers into friends. See you on Sunday!

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