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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.

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.

  • Lisa Lou

My 10 Favorite Hostess Gifts

Updated: 4 days ago


Giving a party 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. I love the challenge of putting together a nice basket of goodies for pennies on the dollar. When trying to figure out what you should bring, keep in mind what type of party you are attending. Is it a formal dinner? A backyard BBQ? Also, know the likes and dislikes of your hostess. If she is allergic to flowers, you probably will not arrive with a bouquet in hand.


I like to give items that can be consumed in some fashion (and this does not just mean oral consumption). This way I have not taken up precious space in her home with something she might or might not enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite hostess gifts.


Wine

Yes, this is what everyone seems to say, but, if you have a hostess that enjoys great wine, it really is nice to give. Put some thought into the selection. Maybe the two of you tried a new chardonnay at a local restaurant, and you both loved it. Purchase a bottle of this with a note attached saying how much you treasure your friendship. If she enjoys vacationing in a certain region or country, see if you can purchase a bottle from that area. If you do not wish to bring wine, bring an elegant wine stopper to add to her collection.


Food

Food can be nice to bring, but make sure it is the right type of food. If the hostess has invited you over for dinner, showing up with a platter of appetizers would not be the best choice. She has worked hard on her menu and might feel obligated to serve what you brought. The added addition might mess up the food choices she has planned. Instead, bring something for her to enjoy later, or maybe something that has meaning to you. I love giving a small bottle of our favorite home-made steak rub. It is unique and shows I took time to give something made by hand. Or stir up a batch of your favorite pasta sauce. You can tie a raffia bow around the lid and attach a wooden serving spoon.


One of the more enjoyable gifts I have received was a basket filled with Graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows, and 8 Hershey bars. It was my own little s’mores kit! Memorable and delicious. If you decide to bring food, let the hostess know this is a special treat to be enjoyed after the party. By doing this you are saying, “I brought food, but I do not expect you to serve this during the party.”


Stationary

A box of notecards or a journal makes a wonderful gift. Maybe purchase a gratitude book where she can keep track of moments and people she is grateful for. Add to the beauty of the journal by writing on the first page how much you appreciate her. Attach a pretty pen and you have a memorable gift.


Paper Guest Towels

I never have enough of these, so this is a favorite item I enjoy giving. You do not even need to wrap these. Just tie a festive bow and attach your greeting card.


Soaps

Beautiful hand soaps are a favorite for many. A bottle of pump foam goes great in the kitchen or powder room.


Christmas Ornament

I love presenting a beautiful ornament during the holidays, but only if I know my hostess has an eclectic tree. Giving a hanging football with the name of her favorite college team probably does not work when her tree is decorated with crystal balls. Of course, ornaments can be collected and used in other ways. So, as with everything else, know your audience.


Candle

A candle is always a well-received gift. If the hostess has a certain brand she enjoys, then treat her to her favorite fragrance. Candles are a great item you can stack up on during after-Christmas sales. Most stores will mark down their seasonal merchandise from 50-75% off.


Reading Material

If your hostess is a reader, purchase the newest release from her favorite author, or bring a gift card to the local bookstore. A stack of her favorite magazines would be fun or a subscription for an audible book app are two other ideas.


Coffee

This could go under the food category, but it makes a wonderful gift, so I listed it separately. Purchase a fun mug and a bag of her favorite flavored coffee. This can be done with tea, too. There are wonderful little pots that come with a single teacup on top. Wrap this in cellophane, add a bow and include her favorite tea leaves.


Games

I enjoy giving board games, if I know this is something my hostess and her family enjoy. A nice deck of cards with the family’s initials printed on the front is a treat.


Many of the above items I have found for $10 or less at my local discount store. A hostess gift does not need to be expensive, but it should be memorable and show you have taken time to think about the recipient. This is your way of showing her that she is appreciated and valued for gifting YOU an evening of celebration.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou