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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. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

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.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

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.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

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Flag Etiquette and Protocol

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 and commemorates the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Second Continental Congress. Anytime the flag is flown, it represents our identity as a sovereign nation. It is for this reason there are certain etiquette rules that guide our use. Listed below are 15 points that will help you fly your colors with pride.

1. Display the flag from sunrise to sundown.

2. The flag may be displayed at night, but it must be illuminated.

3. The flag can be flown any day of the year, but it is specifically encouraged on national holidays.

4. The flag is hung in every public location including schools and election polling sites.

5. When the flag is hung horizontally or vertically on a wall, the canton (blue square on the flag, also called the union) should be to the viewer’s top left.

6. If the U.S. flag is carried in a parade with other flags, it will always be the flag on the right (from the flag’s position). Or, it can be in front of all the other flags.

7. When displaying the flag on a stage with a speaker, it should always be to the flag’s right (audience’s left).

8. In the U.S., no other flag is flown above the U.S. flag.

9. If the U.S. flag is flown with another state flag on the same pole, the U.S. flag is flown on top.

10. If the U.S. flag is flown with another state flag, but on separate poles, then the U.S. flag is flown to the flag’s right (the observer’s left).

11. If several state flags are flown with the U.S. flag, and all poles are the same height, then the U.S. flag is flown to the flag’s right (observer’s left). If the center pole is higher, then the U.S. flag is flown in the center and always on the highest pole.

12. Only a state or MIA/POW flag may be flown on the same pole as the U.S. flag. Any other flag, like a company flag, may not fly on the same pole.

13. The canton (union) should be flown from the top of the staff.

14. Although not specifically stated in the flag code, it is recommended that all flags fly at least 3-5 feet from the ground, at minimum. This tidbit becomes more important when asking yourself how high off the ground to mount your home flag. Home flags may be flown in any prominent place on a house or tree.

15. Dispose of flags that are frayed or damaged. Protocol is to fold the flag in a triangle (as you would see during a funeral) and burn the flag in its entirety. While the flag is burning recite the Pledge of Allegiance and/or salute, followed by a moment of silence. End by burying the ashes.

If you are a civilian, here is a quick trivia point you might not know. When my son was in the military, I noticed the American flag on his right shoulder appeared backwards. The blue union was at the top right, yet all the protocol I just wrote about states the canton is always at the top left. I asked him about this. He said, “The flag on my left shoulder has the stars at the top left. The flag on my right shoulder has the stars at the top right. This gives the impression, no matter which shoulder you are viewing the flag is moving forward and into the wind.” I researched this further, and I will always remember the answer I found. According to military tradition the flag is displayed on the uniform to appear as though a soldier is carrying the stars and stripes while constantly moving forward, presumably into battle. Thus the wind would cause the flag to wave backwards with the stars in the top right corner as the carrier of the flag advanced. Why is this visual important? Because a U.S. soldier never retreats.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

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