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4. No one wants to hear your conversation. When you must speak on the phone in public, remove yourself and take your call in private. If you cannot find privacy, step at least ten feet away so you minimize the chance of disturbing others. No matter how private we try to make our call, our body language speaks volumes. Patrons enjoying a dinner out do not want to be disturbed watching someone throw their arms around while arguing on their phone.

​I am convinced we need to start thinking of our phones as a human persona. I do not care if you make it look like your spouse, mother, or college roommate. If we were to add eyes, a nose, hair, and a big smile to the front of our phones, we might begin making the connection that every time we converse with someone via text or email, we are allowing them to become a part of whatever we are doing.

  • Prostrate on the ground praying earnestly for those in his life.

  • Living on 3 hours sleep for months to build something special to improve the lives of thousands.

  • In all his busyness, never making me feel I come in second. Even when it means sacrificing himself.

“The hardest job kids have today is learning good manners…without seeing any.” Fred Astaire. 

 

Women have great influence in their family, and much of the work falls to us to provide each person with the tools they need to succeed. But how can we pass along knowledge that we do not possess? 

It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

It is summer in Houston, and last night our bedroom A/C went kaput! My first reaction was to grumble, but then I reminded myself to “choose happiness!” I was thankful we had a guestroom to sleep in that had cool air and a fan. As we crawled into an unfamiliar bed, I was quickly reminded of the times I preached to others: “Every good hostess should sleep in her own guestroom for one full night. You will immediately see what is missing!”

Today, where we see every form of fashion on our streets, the question of men and shorts still produces uncertainty among many. There is a reason for this that is embedded in our DNA, and to fully understand we need to explore a little history.

“What are the main table manners children should know?” A common question I am frequently asked. Yet I have a tough time narrowing my answer. I pick my top three, then a fourth pops into my mind. Then a fifth. We may not all attend black-tie events, but we do all eat. Your children will one day be placed in a situation where they need to skillfully know their way around a dining table.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I would like to take a special look at the precious women in our lives that hold the title of Mother-in-law. 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.

  • Lisa Lou

7 Ways to Save on Gifts this Holiday Season



Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!


1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person. If some of these people are couples, combine their money and buy one gift worth $100 they will both enjoy. A $100 gift certificate to their favorite special restaurant? Great idea! Do not feel pressured to spend more than your budget. Maybe it is time you cut down on who you give gifts to. Do you have a large family: aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, 10 nieces and nephews? Where does it end?!? There comes a point you need to rein in the gifts.


Communicate early in the fall if you decide it is time to decrease the quantity of gifts, reduce the amount you will spend on a gift (maybe you agree each family member cannot spend more than $30), or if you plan on discontinuing gifts all together. This way others have time to digest the news, and you avoid that guilty feeling when the person says, “Ohhhh, I already purchased your gift!” Be firm in your decisions. If someone complains or tries to guilt you into giving “just one more time,” politely say no. Putting boundaries around your family budget is important for the health of your financial situation. By the way, you might be surprised how many family members sigh in relief, because they have felt the same way!


2. Instead of a physical gift, create coupons for your TIME. A coupon to wash mom’s car, to organize dad’s tools, or to give your cousin a homemade manicure. What about treating your sister and brother-in-law to a romantic, homecooked meal followed by free babysitting so they can enjoy a night on the town? There is no end to the creative options you have.


3. One way to increase your holiday spending allowance is to adjust your yearly budget. Look at areas you can cut to have a little extra money during this month. Do you normally eat out two nights a week? Tell yourself in October and November you will not go to a restaurant. Use the extra savings to increase your gift giving. There are always ways to reduce your spending, but you might need to get creative, and you will also need to practice a little self-discipline and self-sacrificing.


4. Did you know Christmas and Hanukkah come every December? Surprise! The holidays should not sneak up on you. They occur the same month every year. If you are organized, and plan ahead, you can find little jobs throughout the fall to earn extra cash. This could be as extreme as taking a second job, or you can focus on odd tasks people need help with during this busy season: dog walking, baby-sitting, yard work, gift wrapping, helping serve at private parties. These are just a few ideas.


5. Do you have old gift cards lying around you never used? Did you know you can sell them? Why not gather these up, cash them in, and increase your holiday budget? Here are two sites you can research: https://www.cardpool.com/ ; https://www.raise.com/ .


6. Save money on expensive wrapping paper. This can kill your budget! If you have children, a fun way to wrap gifts is to use their artwork. I used butcher paper when our son was young (you can also use the inside of paper grocery bags). I rolled the paper on the floor, and our son would draw whatever was on his mind. It is a great art project, and parents and grandparents love receiving homemade gifts from the children. (You can also choose to wrap the gift and then let your child showcase his artistic side. Whichever is easiest.) Tie the presents with natural twine you can find at the craft store, and you are set.


7. Never discount re-gifting! There are some rules you need to follow, though. Re-gifting does not mean giving junky gifts you received that you did not like. If you did not like it, the odds are other people will not either. Proper re-gifting means utilizing what you already have that you know will bring happiness to someone else. After all, the reason we give is to show our love and affection for someone else. So, make sure it is something the receiver will enjoy. Were you given two copies of a book by an author your sister loves? Then this would be a good re-gift for your sister. Whatever you give should be new and in its original box. You should not give away a gift that someone spent time and love giving to you. Example, no matter what my husband gives me, I would never re-gift it! This holds true with family heirlooms. Hang onto these, no matter what you might think of the item, because you have been entrusted with a piece of family history. Do not re-gift within the same circle of friends, and make sure you re-wrap the gift. You should treat your re-gift with as much love as you would something you purchased with your own money.


Remember when it comes to gifts, you are dealing with one of the 5 Love Languages. If a person’s highest love language is receiving gifts, you will need to be creative to avoid making them feel you are withholding your love. For the person whom gifts rank high on the love scale, remember it is not about the physical item as much as it is about what the gift means (the time you spent creating the gift, the thoughtfulness you invested). To learn more about the love languages, I highly recommend you read Gary Chapman’s books and review his other resources.


Above all else, remember why we celebrate this time of year. Do not let the commercialism of the season override the true meaning. It is in your control to keep the priorities of your family in check. Happy giving!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou