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Dealing with Suicide

Today, I brought my oldest daughter to her 14 year old friend’s funeral.

He committed suicide.

He was 14 years old.

We don’t know “why”. Rumors are that he was depressed, his parents were divorced and that he was having issues with his older brother.

When she told me that her friend had died, I was in the middle of blowing up balloons for the birthday party.

I was very conflicted at this point. How can be happy for two and sad for one? It is hard to express both emotions at the same time – especially when you are about to have 15 people in your house.

I brought her to the funeral today so she could say her good-bye. So she could be surrounded by other people who loved this young man and who are grieving his loss.

It was tragic.

It was tragic to see all of the children there to pay their respects.

It was tragic to see all of the young ladies crying and all of the young men looking lost – trying to stay strong and hold back the tears.

It was tragic to see that so many people cared for this young man and in the end it didn’t matter how many people cared for him.

They are all left wondering why.

They are all left wondering what they could have done differently.

They are all left questioning their mortality.

But they also are left with the images of grieving family and friends.

They are left with the image that death is truly final.

They are left with the realization that people do care. Even if it seems at times that they do not.

The strength that these young people showed today was tragic.

They should not be experiencing this type of loss at this age.

They should not be crying tears of pain.

They should not be wondering, for the rest of their lives, why?

And I don’t really know what to say to my daughter.

All I can do is be there for her; all I can do is let her know that I am HERE for her.

That I am here for her friends.

That I care about her pain and that I wish I could take it away.

Tragic.

The entire situation is tragic.

This young man had his entire life in front of him. He hadn’t even begun living yet. He was a Freshman in High School.

My heart breaks for his family.

My heart breaks for all of these children left behind who loved him.

Who will never get another opportunity to laugh with him or have a conversation with him.

Hug your children.

They need it.

 

 

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Card Tutorial: Thinking of You Retro Fresh

Card Tutorial thinking of you retro fresh This week’s FREE Card Tutorial! Thinking of You!

Using the Pansy Punch, Peaceful Petals, Retro Fresh Designer Series Paper, and the Petite Petals Bundle, this card is a sweet way to let someone know that you are thinking of them!

Get your FREE CARD TUTORIAL!!!

Tell me – what type of card tutorials interest you?

 

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Pinterest=inadequacy?

My friend Virginia and I were talking the other day about the Pinterest Inadequacy Syndrome.

All the beautiful houses, picture walls, kitchens, food, yards, living rooms…. it can make one mad with envy!!!

Pinterest Inadequacy Syndrome

I am not what anyone would call a “foodie”. I peek on Pinterest and see all these wonderful photos of food and think to myself that the recipes I use for my family NEVER look that amazing. I must be a horrible mother and wife.

I peek on Pinterest and see other peoples homes – and then look at my own unfinished home and cringe. Why isn’t it complete yet? Damnit! We have moved into our house in October!

I peek on Pinterest and see other people’s mad photography skills and then look at my pitiful photos and wonder when I forgot my photography lessons from a former President of the ASMP.

Pinterest peeking can make me feel like I am a total failure in life – even when it is meant to inspire.

It shouldn’t be a contest.

But damn it feels like one.

It feels like everyone else is doing things better. Everyone else is more organized, crafty, design savvy and certainly better chefs and bakers.

So, as I am getting ready for the birthday party, I wondered if there were enough decorations? Is it staged correctly? What are people going to think of my house?

Should I even let people into my house?

Anxiety attacks commence!

Then something magical happened.

Right after my daughter blew out the candles on her cake, one of her friends looked me straight in the eye and with a sense of certainty only a 12 year old can have, exclaimed, ” You have a PINTEREST HOUSE!”

It’s all about perspective.

And looking at my house through her eyes, the perspective is pretty awesome.

I am sure I will look at Pinterest in the future and feel envious of all the pretty pictures. I just have to remember that those pretty pictures don’t make my home.

My family does.

 

 

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Birthday Party Celebrations

This weekend, we hosted two Birthday Party Celebrations, on the same day!!!

I selected colors that were gender neutral – yellow, silver and turquoise blue.

Birthday Party Decorations

Of course, many of the products I used were from Stampin’ Up! They are just so darn cute and easily color coordinated, how could I not?!?

Celebration Banner Let’s start with this adorable Banner… from Stampin’ Up! This banner was so easy to put together and combined with the Bermuda Bay Add-On kit really added some pop of color to an otherwise boring backdoor curtain. I love it so much, I think I am going to keep it up for a while, just to remind everyone in the family to CELEBRATE!

Birthday Gift BagsNext we have these awesome gift bags – which come with the Celebrations Basic Kit with the banner! Using the Bermuda Bay Add-On Kit and the Hip Notes Stamp Set, I was easily able to add the tags and “Hip Hip HOORAY” stamped image. For the Girls Bags, I added a gold bow – the boys I left plain. But they are so stinkin’ cute!

Birthday Tablescape To create some decoration for my daughters tablescape, I simply spray-painted some of Pappa O’s beer bottles with silver spray paint and made some paper flowers using the paper that came with the Bermuda Bay Add-On Kit and the Spiral Flower Originals Die, with some baby breath flowers along side the paper flowers.

Birthday WreathWhat party would be complete without a wreath?!? Using some turquoise chevron ribbon I found at a local store, a wreath form, straight pins, the Starburst Sayings Bundle, and Tempting Turquoise ink, I made this adorable Birthday Wreath for the front door! I absolutely love this wreath!!!

Close Up of Birthday WreathHere is a close up of the stamped, die cut images for the birthday banner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stairwell Birthday Decorations

I couldn’t leave the Stair Banister out of the party! Using some burlap ribbon, I wrapped it around the banister all the way to the top, then, using the same turquoise chevron ribbon I used for the wreath, I made tied draped bows going up the stairwell, one about every three feet.

 

Birthday Party Family Room  Here is a (blurry) view of the kitchen/breakfast area/family room, because what kind of party doesn’t have balloons?

I am absolutely loving the way the decorations came out for this party. I love how Stampin’ Up! Products made it so easy!!! (I also used these invitations – which coordinate with the EVERYTHING!)

 

 

 

 

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Sneak Peek: Birthday Decorations

As The House of O preps to host 2 birthday parties on the same day, I decided to give you a sneak peak on the decorations….

Celebrate Banner Sneak Peek   More information to follow!!!

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Card Tutorial Tuesday: Peachy Keen

I am excited to announce a new addition to The House of O – Card Tutorial Tuesday!

Each and every Tuesday we will have a new Card Tutorial to inspire you to create cards to share with your family and friends!

This week, we have a wonderful “Hello Friend” card, from the Peachy Keen Stamp Set. I am also entering this card into this week’s Dynamic Duo challenge, which is to use the colors Tempting Turquoise and Melon Mambo.

Card Tutorial Peachy Keen  I absolutely LOVE how this card turned out! I used the Peachy Keen Clear-Mount Bundle for this card- Bundles make making cards so easy!

Do you want the card tutorial on how to make this awesomely adorable card?

Of course you do! This Card Tutorial is free for download!

Be sure to circle me on Google + and like me on Facebook!

 

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Conversation with my Daughter

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Break Up with Facebook and Date Google+

Why you should breakup with Facebook and start dating Google +

For years we have all had a wonderful relationship with Facebook. The newsfeed, even with its changes in layout, has saved us an abundance of time by showing us status updates from all of our friends, family and pages that we have “liked”. It has allowed us to interact with hundreds of people and brands without ever having to actually go to their “page” – which is one of the reasons why a relationship with Facebook was so much more appealing than our relationship with MySpace. No longer did we have to go page to page to leave comments or see new photos! It was all magically there for us in a newsfeed!

Businesses started to understand the power that Facebook had. I mean, BILLIONS of people, potential customers, were already on the platform. We went hardcore creating business pages when they became available so we could interact with our followers without them having to come to our websites daily to see what was new. We asked people to like our business pages so they could get those updates easily – because nothing made better sense than having an avenue where customers didn’t have to actively work to see our newest posts, products or sales.

Facebook vs. Google+

But then Facebook decided that our fan base didn’t need to see ALL of our updates. Only SOME of our fans needed to see SOME our status updates.

Add a link into the status update? Even less fans needed to see that. After all, Facebook doesn’t want you cheating on it with other sites. Facebook is jealous. It wants all of your attention, all of the time.

Now Facebook is saying if you want people who already decided that they wanted to see your business updates to actually see them, you have to pay. Not for new customers – but for those who ALREADY LIKED YOUR PAGE.

All the while, Google has been sitting around, waiting for our love affair with Facebook to go astray. While Facebook has started making our relationship difficult and frustrating us to a point where we want to pull our hair out, Google introduced Google +.

Google + is all about sharing. Google + is all about letting you see what you signed up to see. Not only that, but you can put people in sharing CIRCLES. You can select who gets to see what you want them to see! Not only that, as a user, you can select which circles you want to view updates from. Not in the mood for seeing your favorite food blogs at the moment – you want to see your favorite home décor bloggers instead? Just select home décor Bloggers circle and voila! That is all you see! No clogged newsfeeds! Instead, users are introduced to being able to see exactly who and what they want to see, when THEY want to see it!

Google+ allows this nifty function of not only SHARING other Google+ posts, but +1’ing them. Kinda like how Facebook lets us share and like other posts.

Only now, the Google Search Engine is jumping for joy.

You should be, too.

Every +1 you get on a Google+ post lets Google, the God who we all try to impress daily with our SEO strategies, know what readers actually LIKE.

Every Google+ “Fan” you get (within Circles), allows Google to know WHO people are saying has valuable content and authority.

Every interaction with Google+ is giving Google more information to give the end user, those using the search engine, exactly what they are looking for.

And they are looking for YOU.

That’s right, YOU.

They are looking for your ideas, your tutorials, your e-books, stories of your family, how-to’s, crafts, and products. They are looking for answers and YOU are the one with the answers!

How nifty it is that Google has decided to give the end user control over what shows up as relevant in the search engine?

How wonderful it is that you can cultivate a Google+ following and actually IMPROVE your Google Search Engine Rankings by the virtue of your readers?

How ecstatic we should all be where we can go post our updates and people who want to see them ACTUALLY CAN – without clogged newsfeeds! (Twitter – we love you too – but we can’t scroll down for hours to see what people posted 20 minutes ago)

Google+ is the future. Facebook will always be a relationship that we will love for all eternity – but it has stopped giving us what we need.

It has stopped giving us the ability to be in contact with our customers – unless we are willing to pay.

Google+ doesn’t want you to pay. Google+ doesn’t penalize you for posting links to your webpage.

While Facebook likes just means your status is making Facebook mingling rounds, +1’s from Google+ is helping your website rank a little higher.

While Facebook is giving you instant messaging chat capabilities, Google+ is giving you a hangout – where you can have LIVE STREAMING VIDEO!

Imagine the possibilities that free service can have on reaching your customers!

Facebook just isn’t the Social Media site you should be dating anymore. It has lost its flair, the butterflies in your stomach aren’t ones of admiration; they are ones of dread.

Google+ is bright, shiny and new. And it’s ready to help you get to heights you only imagined Facebook could bring you.

It’s time to dump Facebook and start dating Google+.

So go ahead, check out Google+. While you are there, go ahead and add me to one of your circles – I’ll add you back! Oh, and if you would +1 this article, I will love you forever and ever and ever.  Heck, I’ll even love you for liking on Facebook.

*This is an opinion piece based on observation – no one knows Google’s method for search rankings. However, it is a pretty educated guess that Google Users +1’ing and sharing content on Google+ should improve the viability of Google’s Search Engine – which is what Google wants. To match the user up with the best relevant content possible so users keep coming to Google instead of somewhere else.

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Teen Bedroom ReDo

“The best color in the whole world, is the one that looks good, on you!”
Coco Chanel

Teen Bedroom ReDo

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my daughters awesome trampoline chair (which she doesn’t even use!), talking with her about life and its complexity in regards to the opposite sex and what her friends are doing, when I abruptly shouted out, “THIS ROOM IS DEPRESSING!”

She looked at me, as if I were a lunatic for just coming to that conclusion and said to me, “It’s because the walls are WHITE, mom”.

I pondered this for a moment. Why are white walls depressing? Is it because we associate white walls with institutions? Or is it because life is colorful – and the absence of color in a place where we spend a good majority of our time starts to suck the life out of us?

I said to her, “You are right, white walls are depressing, so is not having curtains”.

I decided then and there that we were taking too long to getting around doing the kids bedrooms.

I mean, they spend a lot of time in those rooms. Shouldn’t they reflect who they are as people and not be so damn depressing?

So, I came up with a budget – $250 a room – for the kids to use to make their rooms more THEM.

We started with the oldest. She wanted new bedding, so we went to the store and I let her pick out a new comforter and some new sheets. We had to compromise on this. Yes, I want her room to be a reflection of HER, but she also had to have a color other than black and something with a pattern. So she picked out blue sheets, gray and white stripped pillow cases, a black/gray reversible comforter, and with a little prodding from me, an off-white throw pillow with gray chevron stitching.

She also chose gray umbre curtains, turning from white at the top to gray at the bottom. (They are pretty gorgeous)

While in the store, she saw a New York City skyline art piece that she really liked. We didn’t get it. She was a little sad. However, when I came home with three framed photos of New York City – that I scored for FREE – she was quite happy. I mean, she didn’t have to spend a dime of her budget on the art! Score!

Next was the paint color. She remembered she had a budget. She also remembered that we had some watery blue paint in the garage from another project. She chose to use that paint color so she could spend her budget on important things (that we have yet to find).

So, this past weekend was spent moving furniture around so we could paint the walls. Then, once we were finished, she kicked me out of her room and told me I couldn’t see it until she was done rearranging it.

It was like a big reveal.

Teen BedroomTeen Bedroom 2Teen Bedroom 3Teen Bedroom 4

The room looks so much better than it did before. It looks like someone actually lives there, instead of a place where someone throws their crap and walks out.

And she only spent $130 of her $250 budget. I imagine more shopping is in my future.

Along with starting on the next child’s room.

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Getting Ready for Birthday Part(ies)

My youngest daughter and my son were born a couple days (and years) apart.

So we have a double birthday party heading our way! Yippeee!!!

Hopefully the pool will be warm enough on the 12th of April for teenagers to take the plunge. Even if their lips turn blue.

So tonight, I started preparing some of the party items – a banner (of course), goodie bags and thank you cards for the kids to give to their friends for coming to their party.

Thank You Card Kids Birthday   I want my kids to sincerely and honestly thank their friends for taking the time to come celebrate the day of their births with them. I see a horrible trend with children these days (including my own) where they forget to thank people for the simple things.

Sure, they may be overly thankful on Christmas or when you replace their broken iPod – but I want them to actively thank people for other things. Everyday things. Birthday things.

And I want it to be more than verbal.

I want it to be a written record. I want them to get in the practice of giving people thank you cards. I hope that the experience extends beyond just when they get something – I hope that it extends to thanking people just BECAUSE.

Which brings me to another topic: In a recent conversation with my mother, she brought up the fact that at the last couple of baby showers she has been to, she has been asked to basically self-address an envelope so that the mother-to-be could send her a thank you note. My mother thinks this is crass behavior. I, however, am kinda torn between the idea that yes, ideally you should receive your thank you card addressed in a handwriting not your own and the time saved by just having to throw your note into the self-addressed envelope and mail it off.

Especially when these days it appears that hundreds of people are attending the baby/wedding shower. (Some of these events rival actual weddings! Still blows my mind….)

What do you think? Do you think it is rude to ask your guests to self-address and envelope so you can send them a thank you note or do you think that it is an acceptable practice?

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