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Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.


1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

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4 Quick Points to Know About the Thank You Note

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.

Never underestimate the power of hand-written communication for someone you care for whether it is a thank you for a gift, or to show appreciation for a job interview. A personal message will be greatly appreciated and leave a strong impression on the recipient. Here are 4 quick points to know when it comes to sending a thank you:

1. When to Send a Note: When do you send a thank you card? When you have received something…anything. This can be a gift, a dinner party you attended, a gathering thrown in your honor, or even for something as simple as a meal delivered to your home. The only time you do not need to send correspondence is when the gift received was a thank you to you. Example, if you host a party, and someone brings YOU a hostess gift, this is their way of expressing gratitude for including them in the party. No need to send a thank you for a thank you. (Exception: If you receive a hostess gift that is just too wonderful not to acknowledge, go ahead and send a letter or an email. You can never go wrong by doing this.)

2. I Don’t Like the Gift: Loving the gift is not a prerequisite for showing appreciation! A present is not about the physical item, it is about the heart behind what has been received. An unwrapped necklace arrogantly tossed in your lap by your significant other does not mean very much. A hand-painted rock from your spouse expressing his love for you might mean everything. You may need to be creative but find something you like about the item when expressing your thanks, even if your letter says nothing more than, “I will always think of you when I gaze upon my rock.” 😊

3. Stationery: There are all types of stationery that can be used for personal correspondence. Wedding notes will usually be on high quality paper similar to the wedding invitation. A marriage ceremony is an important occasion, and your stationery should reflect this. I also recommend having fun personal stationery, that does not break the bank, for less formal occasions. Remember, though, that what you choose says a lot about you. If you wish to portray elegance, keep this in mind with the quality of paper you choose. If your personality is more casual, then you might go a different route.

4. Be Timely: A thank you should be sent within the first week of receiving the gift. For a wedding present, the bride and groom are given more time as to what is considered acceptable. If you send a note of appreciation within a 3-month window of the wedding, this is fine. Some people put off sending hand-written notes because they feel it is a burdensome chore. Change your thinking and make it fun! Grab a glass of wine and use the time as an opportunity to watch your favorite TV show while completing those special notes. From beginning to end, it should not take more than 5 minutes, including addressing and stamping. Stay organized when it comes to your letter writing. Choose a designated location to keep your stationery supplies. I have a desk in my dining room that holds my paper, pens, and stamps. Everything I need is right at my fingertips, which translates to faster production and a more efficient use of my time. Here is a great tip I learned for moms with small children. After the Christmas gifts (or birthday gifts) are opened, set each item aside until the child writes their thank you note. As soon as the letter is written, the gift is theirs to enjoy. You can imagine how quickly those words of appreciation are completed!

Even when writing a thank you note, my faithful companions are always with me.

Side note: I want to comment on when you should send a hand-written thank you verses some other form of correspondence. In today’s world of electronics, it has become acceptable to send words of gratitude by text or email, but only in some situations. If your mom or close friend takes you out for a quick dinner, it is fine to send them a text the next day with a big thank you. A phone call might even be better. Just keep in mind that an email or text can give the impression that you could not spare the time to thank the person adequately. A written note is a GIFT of your time, just as our cutout hearts were a gift to our parents.

The rules have changed when a gift is opened in front of the person that gives you the present. Protocol states if they see you open the item, and you thank them in person, you do not need to send a hand-written note. An exception to this is a bridal or baby shower gift. I have a different opinion. If someone has taken the time to honor me with a gift, I can take the time to send a thank you. Whether you agree or not, I do want to caution you to know your audience. Younger generations might understand if you do not send a note, but more senior friends might not. For a person in an older generation, I think a hand-written note is important, even if you opened the gift in front of them. I also recommend sending correspondence by hand after you have been on an interview. An electronic missive does not have the same impact, and yours will be lost among all the other emails received by the employer. When deciding if you should write a hand-written note, know your audience, and when in doubt, always write!

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

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