New On The Blog

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.

I recently asked a group of college students these questions showing them the same photos. I had them shout out adjectives for the pictures they were viewing. For the home I heard: beautiful; wealthy; cared for; loving family; a place I want to live. For the broken-down home they said: old; no curb appeal; I wouldn’t go near it; scary; unstable.

“Rules without reason equals rebellion.” -Cynthia Grosso, Charleston School of Protocol. This could be my motto! I have a stubborn streak that can serve me well, but when it gets me into trouble, I just blame it on my DNA. No matter the reason, I am not the best rule follower unless I know why a rule was created. 

Remove your hat! Don’t set it on the table! Never let someone see the lining! Women, keep your hat on! Women, take your hat off! Ahhh…..I’m so confused!!! The old rules of hat etiquette were so straight forward, and everyone knew what to do. A gentleman removing his hat inside a building was as second nature as brushing his teeth. In today’s changing society, there is much confusion about hat etiquette, for both men and women, so let’s solve this mystery by starting with the “why” of hat protocol.

Do you find your spouse often saying, “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you feel your child is not being an active part of the dinner conversation. If this resonates with you, it might be time to brush up on the finer points of being a good listener, while teaching your family to do the same. Below are 11 tips to help you get back on track so you can start enjoying deeper and more meaningful communication with those you love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV).

 

When I am tired and my mind does not seem to focus on a deep study of the Bible, I will flip to Proverbs to keep focused on God’s Word in a more simplistic way. Yet, every time I read this book, I walk away amazed at the power it brings and thankful for the renewal I feel. The verse I read today really resonated with me.

As a stay-at-home mom to 2 toddlers, a large part of my day is spent in the kitchen preparing food. Meal planning at the beginning of the week is essential to ensuring my family is well fed with home cooked nutrition (I give myself a break on the weekends)! If you get overwhelmed with meal planning like I used to, try these tips to sooth your soul:

As a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers, it is a challenge to get a home-cooked dinner on the table at a reasonable time. Pulling the children away from their toys, getting them seated at the table, cutting up their meal, blowing on food that is too hot, and calling my husband away from his work can be exhausting.

Sometimes you just need to re-post tips that were great to read. I find myself saying this quite often when it comes to The Gottman Institute. They are some of the leading relationship experts in our country, and the research they did on trustworthiness is very informative.

Meeting friends for dinner after work, grabbing coffee with your girlfriend or just ordering pizza on a Friday night with neighbors. We all have a deep desire to be connected in a world that often forgets the importance of relationships. Many of us have the desire to entertain, but we let our circumstances keep us from extending hospitality. Often it revolves around our lack of confidence in our ability to host events. I get this!

A perfect entertaining year for me would be hosting a different themed party each month! Will I do that? No. Will I dream about it? Yes! If I cannot have a party every 4 weeks, I can at least help my Lisa Lou family with ideas so hopefully a few of you can carry the torch of hospitality for the rest of us.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for. Read that again.

You are not allowed to complain about not getting something that you never asked for.

  • Lisa Lou

Happy Mom, Happy Dad, Happy Dog: 12 Tips on Dog Etiquette

Summer is almost here, and I am seeing more of our furry family members making an appearance in the neighborhood. With pets taking more prominent roles in our lives, I thought it would be good to brush up on basic dog etiquette as well as mention basic responsibilities of dog ownership.


It’s my dog, it’s my responsibility.


1. Pick Up the Poop: I think this goes without saying, but this is a must. We have all fallen victim to a shoe covered in doo. Yuck! Pick up after your animal. Take plastic bags with you on your walks. If you forget, circle back. Do not be that person that leaves a mess for others to navigate.


2. Stranger Danger: Maybe? Maybe not. Do not assume a stranger wants to meet your dog. Only allow your dog to approach if the person asks to pet or say hello. When someone wishes to approach our dogs, we make Colonel and Louie sit before allowing the person to come forward. This helps the dogs remain calm. We also need to follow our own advice. Do not take the liberty of approaching another person’s dog without asking permission. There may be reasons unknown to you why an owner would rather you keep your distance.


3. Instruct Others: When someone wants to pet our dogs, we show kindness by showing the person the best way to interact. Dogs have different personalities. Colonel is a big teddy bear, but he is protective of us. We learned early in his life he does not like men when they wear a hat. Yet, if the man removes his hat and kneels, Colonel approaches every time with kisses and a wagging tale. People want a pleasant interaction, otherwise they would not ask if they could say hello. Show others how to be successful with your canines.


4. Know Your Audience: People react differently to various dog behaviors. If your animal does something you feel upsets another person, remove your dog from the situation and apologize.


5. Leash: Keep your dog on a leash unless you are in a location that specifically states you may remove the lead. Some people are fearful of dogs, and we need to be respectful of this fact. A leash brings comfort to those around you that your dog is under control.


6. Dog Greeting Dog: When on a walk and your dog encounters another dog, keep them apart unless you and the other dog walker agree to let the animals meet. This is not play time, though. If both dogs are on a leash let them sniff for a few seconds and then move on.


7. Puppy: If you are introducing a new pup into your home, begin working on basic obedience the first day. Three words they should learn early are: here; sit; place (these are the words we use). Or you could use come, sit, stay. The choice of words does not matter but be consistent. If your dog learns these three commands, you will be able to keep him under control. Learning these words are for his own safety. Colonel was retrieving a ball we inadvertently threw into the street when a car suddenly came speeding down the road. My husband yelled, “Colonel, SIT!” Our lab immediately sat on command. It is the only thing that saved his life. No different than our children, dogs need basic obedience, and it is usually for their own protection.


8. Socializing: When your puppy is old enough (for health reasons) begin taking him out in public to socialize him with other humans. This will teach him to be comfortable around people and not bark when strangers approach.


Colonel enjoys a walk, even on rainy days.


9. Exercise Daily: Although our dogs seem human, they are animals, and animals need to walk, run, hunt, and release energy. By exercising your animal daily, you will help him release excess energy, which means he will be less destructive at home.


10. Fido is Not Invited: We might wish we could take our dogs everywhere, but not all people enjoy animals. If you are invited to an outdoor party, or a casual gathering with friends, do not assume you can bring Fido. Always ask.


11. Visiting Guest: The comfort of your guest is more important than your dog. If a guest is fearful or uncomfortable around animals, then keep Fido in your bedroom. Make sure your guest understands, before visiting, you have a dog in case there might be any allergies. If so, they should opt for a hotel.


12. Property Damage: If your pet causes destruction to someone’s property, it is your responsibility to fix it.


Just like people, pets thrive when they have healthy boundaries and know the rules of the house. But remember, dogs are animals, and they can be easily distracted. Training is important. Whether you hire a professional or opt for self-training, having a puppy takes a tremendous amount of time and money. The average yearly cost of dog ownership is anywhere from $1,400-$4,300, depending on the size of the dog, his needs, and his personal care. If you are not prepared to make these sacrifices, then a dog is not for you. No matter how cute they are from a distance, it will not be long before the sleepless nights and mounting monetary damage they inflict will make you question why you thought a pup was a good idea. Do not bring an animal into your home unless you are ready to take on the increased responsibility. Colonel was professionally trained, and I remember his teacher telling me, “Most dog owners get the pet they had hoped for when the dog is between 1-2 years old.” Yikes! Keep that in mind, because the dog you dream of may not be a reality for a couple of years.


If your dog is not looking you in the eyes when you give them a command, they are not paying attention. Make eye contact first.


It is up to you if you hire a trainer. Between my husband and me, we are now on our 12th dog. Through personal experience, for our last 4 pets we have chosen to hire a trainer for basic obedience. Having had a dog that destroyed our pool equipment three times, we decided a professional was less expensive! You can teach a dog basic obedience yourself, but it will take time. It will need to be your focus for at least the first 6-12 months they are with you.


After weighing all the pros and cons, if you are ready to take the plunge then make the most of it. Did you know most dogs can learn up to 165 words!?! And the top 20% of the most intelligent dogs can learn close to 250 words! Why would you teach them just the basics: here, sit, place? The more time you invest in your animal, the more a part of your family they will become. We have taught Colonel the names of all his toys. We can put them in a basket, and if we tell him to get “cow,” he brings us the cow. “Where is Blimpie?” He brings us Blimpie. Stick with one to two syllable words. It is easier for them to process. Colonel now knows the word “around.” He began jumping off a dangerous ledge on our driveway, so my husband taught him to “go around” this area. Now, if Colonel begins to jump, we just say, “Around.” Colonel dutifully obeys. He fetches the ball, delivers the mail, and plays hide-and-seek. Since he knows the meaning of many things my husband and I had to start spelling words to each other, so Colonel did not know what we were saying. I felt like I had a toddler in the house again. This did not work long, though, because he began figuring out what we were spelling!


Dogs are smart, and they want to please. They are loyal to their pack, and you are their leader. Help them be successful and teach them to be a welcome member of your family. They will be happier, and so will you!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou