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With Father’s Day coming soon, you and your family will be celebrating one of the most important men in your life- Dad. As a child, he was your hero, your protector, and your solid rock. Now that you are older, you admire him for all that he has done for you and you still look to him for advice and wisdom. Picking out the perfect gift for Dad is not easy!

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

Graduation is a pivotal point in a young person’s life. It is the beginning of a season of responsibility, coming of age, and independence. As these twenty-somethings are about to discover the meaning of “adulting,” here are some gift ideas that will no doubt be a blessing in your college grad’s new life.

If some of you are thinking, “I believe I have read this letter before,” you would be correct. Our son and daughter (in law) had a beautiful wedding ceremony planned for April of 2020. As with thousands around the country, they had to postpone the big event, but chose to hold a private covenant ceremony in our backyard. Well, we are finally celebrating their wedding vows, and it was on my heart to re-post the letter I wrote to my son last year. Some things have changed (he is now 25, not 24 as the letter states), but I hope you enjoy!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! As a busy mom, Mother’s Day can sneak up on you with the chaos of end of the year school activities, home projects, and travel plans. Moms have a heart of gold and do not have expectations of presents, but we still love the gesture of gifting to make the day special and show our appreciation for everything she does for the family.

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

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.

  • 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