What’s in a Name? Typebird is Revealed!

So many times people have asked me where did the name come from? What’s Typebird mean? I guess maybe it’s time to explain in a little more detail.

This story goes backward. I started with a name, and the real reason for the name came about afterward. I promise it makes sense so please, keep reading.

Traveling home from a long trip, my husband and I started thinking about name choices for my business. As always I start with the domain name first, if you can’t get the website you will have a hard time directing people to find you. Typography has always been a big part of my life because of my profession choice, so that was a no-brainer to try and incorporate. Birds are different. I give people birds. No, not like I gift them birds in a cage, but I make them a bird in my mind. I know it’s silly, but to me, it’s means something. My grandfather was always told that he “watched me like a hawk” so now when I see one it reminds me of him. It’s comforting to me, and so when my husband said Typebird, it worked, and I immediately said that’s it!
During this time my father had been battling cancer. He was a Marine, a veteran who fought in Vietnam. His Cancer had come from being exposed to Agent Orange in the war. I kept thinking, why did it have to surface so many years later right about the time he retired. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. We got a year and a half with my dad after the diagnosis before he passed away. It broke me a little if I am honest, I don’t think one ever truly gets over losing a parent.

My father passed away in the summer and not too long after, a little yellow bird showed up at our house and slept night after night on a tree branch in the front of our house. It took me awhile to figure out what type of bird it was, and I kept saying to my husband, “I don’t know what TYPE of BIRD it is, but I will identify it.” He stayed there every night for three months, same tree, same branch, every night. I checked for him religiously. It ended up being a blue-headed vireo that visited for that whole time. He never came back, and I didn’t expect him to.

So the name sort of came about twice, if you will. I usually explain the first story because the second one is a bit hard to get through and a little deep for a business conversation, but it certainly means more. To feel comfort in something so simple does wonders for the soul. Now, everyday it makes me work harder as a small business owner and an artist. I had a little, feathered cheerleader for a short time that kept me going when I needed it most. Never will I forget that.

Hurricane Survival, What this Designer Learned

Hurricane Matthew, what a nightmare! I lived in Florida forty-three years before relocating to Georgia, never have I ever evacuated. Please know that I am not a rebel who refuses to leave, we just never got to that point where it was a mandatory evacuation. This time, it was no joke and with kids in tow, we weren’t taking any chances.

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Wednesday, October 5th – Storm is approaching. People ask the Floridian (me) if she is evacuating. I jokingly say, “Nah, I am a Floridian, we don’t leave for hurricanes.” Seriously though, I was kidding when I said this but truly in my heart I never thought it would get to the point where I actually considered leaving. Some of our neighbors already started to leave in the neighborhood. Electricity is still on.

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Morning of Thursday, October 6th – Storm is flipping huge and it’s coming to us, directly in our path and it’s a category 4 storm. Now, I am considering leaving. By noon nerves are completely shot with worry. Thoughts like did we get enough insurance, did we wait too long, why did I say I was working on this day when I can barely think, should we just hunker down or go now? And by the way, the “hunker down” word currently makes me cringe because until you actually have to do it, it has a completely different meaning. Facebook posts are running wild at this point with people posting that they are leaving. A Mandatory evacuation of Zone A in Glynn County comes over the news, we are Zone B. Real worry sets in. No work done. Electricity is still on.

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Afternoon of Thursday, October 6th – Our neighborhood is windy and overcast, many have already left. We are preparing to leave. We hadn’t fully committed but we were packing and getting things ready so in our hearts I think we were ready to go. Two kids, two dogs, the cat and two very nervous parents. Around 1:30 p.m. the mandatory evacuation came over the tv, we decided to listen and leave. We took my husband’s car, it’s smaller than mine but I need new tires and didn’t want to make a long trip longer. We only had room for the living things in our home, important papers, hard drives and a couple nights of clothes. The good things, the things you really wanted to take like my grandfather’s 100-year-old toolbox, had to stay. Although I know what matters in life and that this is just a thing, it is still a memory and it was difficult to leave it and many other items as well like photographs, just in case. We evacuated to Florida of all places, my hometown of Inverness. No work done. Electricity is still on.

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Morning of Friday, October 7th – Mentally exhausted from the whole ordeal and the trip that took almost six hours instead of the normal three. The hurricane is still moving at a snail’s pace in our minds. Spent the day trying to entertain the kids and checking in with the neighbors who stayed. Went to the movies with the kids, did a little shopping, never acknowledging the fact that there was a tropical storm warning in the town where we were staying, that explained all the wind. Checking Facebook, storm is still moving, would make landfall that evening at our home in Georgia. Those who stayed kept in touch. No work done. Electricity still on.

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Afternoon of Friday, October 7th – Lots of news channel watching, we were like deer in headlights as we watched these colors move across the screen. It was moving with the shape of the coast, slowly. Reports coming in of damage it left in it’s path. St. Augustine, one of my favorite places, took a monstrous beating. Our neighbors at home sent video of the wind and our house before it actually came. I worried, I wanted to know if the pines in the backyard would still be standing when we returned. Nightfall came and at 10:35 they lost power, the storm was at full force. No work done. I barely slept.

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Morning of Saturday, October 8th – It was gone. We waited patiently for those at home to report and no damage. We were so relieved, we had a home to come back to. There was no flooding, at most we would loose the food in the fridge. A sense of relief came until we started watching the news. Those around us were not as lucky. Shrimp boats sank, trees on roofs, they wouldn’t even let people back into their homes, we were one of the lucky ones. We packed up, anxious to return but State troopers blocked the exits into the county. Again, social media is our friend and with these reports, we sat tight because we didn’t want to pack up the circus only to be turned away. No work done. Electricity still off.

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Afternoon of Saturday, October 8th – Still determined to leave to come home. Unpacked and decided to go early morning instead. Better safe than sorry, poor husband is officially sick. No work done. Electricity still off.

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Morning of Sunday, October 9th – We are going home. Packed up everyone headed out. Many trees down along the way. Closer to home we see power lines down, homes with trees, very large trees toppled over, some were not so lucky with trees on roofs. After seeing this I am glad we left. We set an example for the kids and they understood why we did go. Our house is fine, our neighbors are fine, their houses are fine, everyone else has started coming home. We shared things like stories and food, we took care of each other, any differences of any kind were put aside. The kids played together outside, the sky was clear and the temperature was in the 70’s. We couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day after all that chaos. I felt connected to living here, I felt like this was my home for the first time since we moved here. I wanted to paint a wall. I know this will sound ridiculous, but I have never moved into a house that didn’t need something. This house was complete when we moved in, we bought it so we wouldn’t have to do anything since we worked so hard on our last house. However, I never felt like I owned it or that it needed me until we returned home. Tragedy, of any kind, whether you actually experience it or were grazed by it affects us all in the oddest ways. For me, this was something that I did not expect. Living here now instead of just being here. I found my place, right here where I had been all along. No work done. Electricity still off.

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Evening of Sunday, October 9th –  The sun went down and we had lost light for less than an hour, candles were going and the kids were putting on a show to pass the time when the electricity came back on. For a moment we were pioneers, it was nice. To my surprise they were disappointed, I was too. We lost power for a less than 48 hours, thanks to the awesome folks at Georgia Power.

I lost two days of work, just two. Many businesses couldn’t even open once they finally got back to work until a week later, some had damage and lost two weeks or more. For any small business, one day lost is huge, more than that can be crucial.  This act of mother nature, while it put things into perspective for me, affected so many people up and down ourFlorida and Georgia coast financially. It was a lesson on many levels and I asked myself what I had learned in all of this. The people, the places you worry about while you are gone, take note of those. Support those businesses after they are back up and running. We can’t do everything alone, but we can support each other by going to dinner at a local restaurant, by buying gifts in a local store, hiring professional services locally, it’s the little things that really add up. Have your friends and family come and visit where you live this year for their vacation to help put money back into this area, support the trusted people you know. At the end of the day we are all in this together. We are a community that supports each other. Electricity is back on and I am picking out paint colors.

 

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

Many people have said to me lately “I don’t know exactly what you do.” When I hear that I get worried. I think to myself am I not doing something right to communicate to my clients what I actually do? What can I do better? Have they not been paying attention to my posts on social media? But then it dawned on me, I truly don’t think people understand all that graphic designers do.

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If you Google this question here is your answer:  “Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.”  But what do graphic designers, freelancers like myself actually do? There is a long list so get a cup of coffee, sit back and be ready to be amazed! Ok, we don’t have to go that far but here is the list.

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Logos. Branding. Business Cards. Packaging. Menus. Brochures. Rack Cards. Promotional Items. Consultation for Non-Creatives. Invitations. Blog & Website Concept Design. Digital Banners & Ads. Letterhead. Custom Stationary. Billboards. Appointment Cards. Post Cards. Surface Pattern Design. Signage. Folders. Mailers. Stamps. Stickers. Posters. Printables. Thank You Notes. Tote Bags. Wrapping Paper. Gift Boxes. The Label on Your Favorite Salsa. Your Favorite Dress. Umbrellas. T-Shirts. Get Where I Am Going With This? We Are Literally Everywhere.

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My, my where do I start. There are truly so many things we are capable of. However, many of us have a strong point. Something we love in this crazy design world more than anything else. For me, it’s a logo. But it doesn’t just stop with a logo, I love all the things need for creating an entire brand such as business cards, letterhead, I love to make it all work together. Many times before people ask why I enjoy it so much and the truth is, I can’t stop it. I drive by businesses every day and think to myself, “How would I have done it differently.” I know that sounds crazy but I do believe there are some things you are just really good at in life. This is mine. Now, with this being said, this does not mean I won’t do anything else. Of course, I will! I have the skills needed to design and have printed many items on paper or digital or any surface really. We are the folks who set up the things you need for your life with programs you have no idea how to use. Like a plumber who comes to fix a leak in your house that you also would not attempt to do yourself. Hire a designer, be proud of your results. Hire a designer who is an actual person you can talk to and not someone somewhere who you will probably never meet or know their name. Hire someone who wants to make you and your business better, who invests in you equally as much as you invest in them.

Graphic designers have a skill set of style cultivated through many years of education, along with many aches and pains…kidding. Critiques are rough y’all! But we are flexible, we want to help you with various projects, not just your logo but also that menu that has the logo we helped you create on top of it. We know a lot about printing and could probably give you some money saving advice without compromising the vibe of your business. I highly encourage you to create a relationship with a designer you know. You just might find a sensible friend at the other end of the line.

Thank you for signing up to receive my newsletter! Every month I will send my latest blogs, work and a few little juicy secrets to help your small business grow.

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Digital

 

 

The Thank You Note

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EPSON MFP image

When I was little my grandmother, I called her Mamaw, used to send me letters. I loved them. I looked forward to their arrival. They smelled like roses and were written on thin stationary paper. She talked about tulips and the weather in Virginia, simple things. I felt connected to her in those letters, they were a gift in the form of paper and ink. All those conversations were mine and it meant the world to me to have that long distance connection.

Today the art of writing has certainly changed. The thank you notes are rare and the quickness of the email is often a convenience that we sometimes take for granted. Our hearts are in the right place of course, but it is the action that has lessened the meaning of our intent. My mother made me send thank you notes, for everything my whole life. I used to be impeccable at the thank you note; I had a lot of training. People complimented me on the thank you note. Then, I stopped writing them and I don’t know why. I have no reason to give other than I said in my head “tomorrow I will write it” and then you know what happens tomorrow. It never gets done, and it’s too late to write it when the thought pops up in your head again and by that time, the quickest way to go is an email which as we all know, arrives second later.

In business, I think making a client or a customer feel valued is just as important. Technology has taken over, and we are so busy that we can barely take a moment for ourselves. This got me thinking. Why is it so hard to do something so simple? Why do we have to talk ourselves into this moment, this very important connection, this thank you! I promised myself that I would change some bad habits in 2016, and this is one of them. I have vowed to take the time to sit down and thank my clients, people who inspire me and people who help me in a note from time to time. To take the time to thank a person who helps me in my business in any way, I want them to know I am grateful. I challenge you to join me. Even if it is a short note on an invoice or a handshake. Maybe that little extra something that shows your gratefulness will come back to you!

Thank you to all who take the time to read my blogs, that is one thing I am REALLY thankful for!

The Gallery Wall

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I have always wanted to do gallery wall, but I never had a great place to display things in our old house. We had a hallway filled with photographs in black frames, but it was hard to see them since the area was dark. When we moved into the new house, I thought “YES”, a second chance! Although excited about it I put it off for a couple of months and then I finally braved it and committed.

It was a time-consuming process, to say the least, but I took the advice of other pinners on Pinterest and made a map of everything. Pinterest can sometimes be your friend and sometimes your worst enemy because when you are up late at night and you start thinking to yourself “I can do that!” Hours later you ask yourself, “Why on earth did I do that?” Either way, it was the right way to go. I used old wrapping paper, the plain white side, to display just because the pattern makes it harder to decide in my opinion. I also used washi tape because it sticks enough to hold but does not peel the paint off the walls. It will also allow you to easily move things over and over again until you get it right. I did make notes on the paper too just to be sure. After a lot of rearranging and walking away, I finally committed and started hanging. Not having the actual wall paint color on hand if I had made mistakes probably was my number one reason for going this route. I wanted to be a little more meticulous about it than normal. I cannot lie, on more than one occasion I may have just not measured where the nail should go by eyeing it. My husband may have noted it once or twice. If you are smart, you can actually use the paper on the wall to be your nail guide as well.  Live and learn friends, live and learn!

At the end of the day, I love it! I think I made the right choice to incorporate antiques, artwork, and photographs to make it more interesting. However, I think it would look great with just family photos as well.If you decide to tackle your own wall, take some time to gather the items you wish to hang. If you don’t have enough, hit up your local thrift store. You can find some great pieces that you can revamp there for a fraction of the cost. Also, find a bit of a color story to stick with. Too many colors competing will make a total mess. I stuck with the wood, the black frames and that pop of green in the “F” to keep a good balance. Take a look at the final gallery wall below, what do you think?

My last and most important piece of advice to you is that when your husband returns home to see your great creation and asks you if you think it’s too much, walk on friends, just keep walking on.

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Getting Settled!

Many months ago my husband came to me with a potential job opportunity. The catch is it was in another state. I am not going to lie my first reaction was a hard “NO”! I had no desire to pack my entire family, my business, the home where I brought my babies and moved to another state. The idea of even selling our house made me want to pass out. I had done so much DIY to that space, it all was just overwhelming to me. It was at this moment I started to realize how attached to things I become and how change challenges me as a person. Then I made myself sit down and think about it. How much did he want to do this? It’s not just me, what about the kids? I realized that interviewing doesn’t mean we move. I should agree to the interview, what could it hurt? I certainly don’t even want him to pass up an opportunity; we are a team.

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With my fingers crossed, probably for the wrong reasons, he went ahead with the process. After the first interview, his mind changed slightly. I silently exhaled at this moment even though I secretly felt horrible about it. Don’t get me wrong, I always want my husband to succeed. He is great at whatever he sets his mind to accomplish in work. He is determined, and everyone who works with him admires his work ethic, including me. But fear immobilized me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. What if this did happen?

Days passed and turned into weeks and then after we had let the idea go until he got a call back for a second interview. The idea had been reborn, and I was more welcoming the second time around. We visited the city; I made sure there was a Target and a Publix, you know, the important things. I poured over available homes and schools in the area. He thought I was jumping ahead. I do this. I am a planner, and I want to be in control. I don’t mean to be this way, it kind of just starts swirling in my head and before you know I have mentally put an offer on a house just to be prepared and start the process. Interview number two and he was convinced the interview was ok but not stellar, and again we left the idea at the door. This time, I was a little sad, as if our adventure was cut short and I had honestly begun looking forward to the change. We had gone to visit the area, and it reminded me a little of the small town where I grew up. Maybe I wanted to do this after all. Crazier things have happened. The concept of moving can get you in quite a tizzy. Our kids kept coming into play, and I thought maybe smaller might be better after all.

A few weeks later we went to North Carolina for my brother-in-law’s wedding. While we were with family, we started to realize how much we miss being so far south. We have been away from grandparents and cousins for far too long. Plus, the mountains were calling. In all the chaos we managed to make it to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I grew up vacationing there, and my father’s ashes rest here too. It is one of the most prominent spots on this planet to me. With a fantastic trip under our belt, he got the call. Things had changed again, and I was back to stage one of being scared. We ended up agreeing it was the right move for our family, young and old. So the job was accepted, and a new set of emotions came to me. The common places in my life would change, I would have to give up my office, most importantly my friends, my children would have to leave their friends and my husband would leave his colleagues. What were they thinking? How would they do? Did we make a mistake?

The whole process of moving happened so fast, our house was put on the market and sold on the first day. When our realtor called to tell me, I could barely breathe. Homes in our area were sitting for at least two weeks before selling so it was a bit of a shock, in a good way of course. This was happening, I still couldn’t breathe.

A few short months we began our home search and after many bouts of stress and wonder, it all managed to come together. The movers came and packed our home, we were lucky enough to have family take us in the week we were homeless. The stress of the new Dodd-Frank rules almost shot our nerves but we made it all happen in a very short time. Yes, we could have rented but for our family buying a new home was the best decision for us. It just had to be done fairly quickly.

11136122_10206206842342357_3669368448281488874_oWe moved here to Brunswick, GA just over two months ago now. So far I can say it is different, again the change was a lot bigger for me than I imagined. We are only an hour away from Florida, so that is great news. I have lived in the state of Florida my entire life; I am proud to be from the sunshine state and I am sure I will miss it.

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Upon our arrival to the new home, the kids were greeted by multiple children in the driveway. They have already made several friends in the neighborhood which is fantastic! We live in a culdesac so it’s a whole new world for them. If they are happy it is so much easier for us. As a bonus, they love their school too. My husband seems less stressed and is easing into the new position nicely. I think he will do great things here. Things I liked and many things I have to work on every day. I think it’s important to see constantly yourself in others, determine if you like the things you see and decide if you need to work on them.

I will say I certainly learned so much about myself during this process. Things I liked about myself and many things I have to work on every day to change. I think it’s important to see yourself in others, determine if you like the things you see and decide if you need to work on them. If someone has a cure for worry and control please email me, haha!

Currently, I have placed my work office in the bonus room; it’s lovely and bigger than our last space. I am grateful for it, but I also miss my friends at the old office, the daily banter is greatly missed. All in all, we managed to pull off a very large task in a very short time and with that it will take the time to belong here. So I have pulled up my boot straps now, and I accept the challenge whether it be for five years or maybe more. I look forward to rebuilding my business here and become a part of this community. Cross your fingers and I will bring you all along for the ride!

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Inspiration, Where Do You Find It?

drawArtists of any kind tend to get antsy. We get to a point where it is time to do something new, something for ourselves, something to refresh the page. I have had this itch for a while, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what is was specifically. I thought at first I was unhappy and maybe I was questioning the job I once loved so much. Could this be? This small business I tried so hard to put together for years has come to fruition and now I am bored? Honestly, could I feel this way? As it turns out, that wasn’t what it is at all. I just needed something for myself. I wanted something to create that I was the boss of completely from start to finish. When I work with clients to create print pieces or logos they are paying for my design capabilities but at the end of the day they still want what they want. That is not a problem for me, I get that. However, I would be lying if I said sometimes I wish they would pick logo number three instead of logo number two.

With my new sense of purpose, it was time to start searching, what do I want to do for me? So many ideas have rolled around my brain, it’s a pretty constant thing. Do I want to look into learning more about designing websites, become a social media “guru”, should I go back in the direction of photography, should I paint? I call this time in my brain “squirrel” because I can not focus. I just keep thumbing through Pinterest in search of ideas and an hour later in my head I am now a pastry chef opening up my own local bakery. It’s exhausting. Not to mention if you would have seen that Thomas the Train cake I made for my son a few years ago, you would probably steer me in another direction. After much thinking, I decided to let it go and focus on specific things I want to do better. The number one thing that came up was drawing on paper. I am so used to using the computer I really wanted to get back to doodling and drawing and not being embarrassed to show my work. So number two was getting over that it was going to take practice, I could only get better if I did it every day. The third thing has probably been the hardest for me and that is sharing my work, will people actually like what I want to do. Instagram is a great place to put your work out there, it was my first baby step. Like dipping your toe in the water to see if it’s the right temperature.

I am not where I want to be with my personal project at this point, it is going to take time. I am however taking classes on the things I am interested in and weeding my way through this journey. One of the things I have found in this process is I need inspiration. Traveling is a great source of inspiration for me but with two children grabbing a backpack and a plane ticket isn’t as effective as it once was. Now I have to try to keep it a little more local and pull inspiration from other places. The internet can be your friend and I have a fantastic collection of artistic folks I would like to share with you! They truly make my day better whether it be through a social media post or seeing their work in a magazine. Enjoy the suggestions and please feel free to share some of your own!

Braid Creative – I love this sister team, not only are they a design firm they specialize in helping creatives. I have taken classes with them and they have really helped me decide the direction I want to go with my work.

Jessica Hische – Have you seen the movie Moonrise Kingdom? Jessica Hische created the font for this film. She is the queen of the drop cap and an extraordinary illustrator.

Clement Photography, Pioneer Goods – I found Clement Photography through a store I follow called Pioneer Goods. Clement works with tintype photography and he is good, really good.

Marie Forleo – Marie Forleo is known for B School which I have never attended, but I drool over it and wonder if I should. Each week she has a new little video for the entrepreneur and they are always chock full of advice for the small business owner.

Deluxe Modern Design –  This lady has a true sense of style and well, it’s just pretty.

Design Love Fest – Beautiful imagery and flowers, always so many flowers. She likes to travel and takes you with her on her journeys.

Yuko Shimizu – An amazing artist I admire. The way she puts ink to paper is awesome. I really enjoy seeing her work in progress on Facebook.

George Takei – I have a secret crush on George Takei! His humor is spot on with mine and his posts put a little laughter in my day, something we all need.

Steve Simpson –  This illustrator, graphic designer has incomparable style and color in his work, just go and check it out.

Geninne’s Art – You know I love birds and so does this artist. I watch her create different types of art with colors you won’t believe.

Seamless Creative – Husband and Wife duo that make graphic and web design look easy.

Genevieve Gorder – This girl has loads of style in all aspects of life. Once graphic designer turned interior design sensation, she’s awesome.

The Novogratz – I love this family. They give something new and exciting to the design world.

Spring Break, I Survived.

This past week my kids were on spring break so I was working from home. It’s been quite some time since I have done this so it takes a little retraining for myself and for them as well. I don’t really have a set structure for my days while they are here because I think the spontaneity of what we do everyday works. The key things for me are time limits on electronic devices and also limits on snacks. I seriously think they would eat me out of house and home in one week if I didn’t keep it in check. Fruit for all, all the time, but when you find a bag of Goldfish laying on the couch empty, we have problems!

So here are a few things I have as “go to” ideas for spring break and in the summer. My goal is to have fun with them and work my normal schedule at the same time! Remember, goals are not always attained so go with the flow.
Art table. We have a huge art table (it’s our old dinner table, painted with black chalkboard paint) on our back porch full of crayons, markers, paint, stencils, Playdough, Kinetic sand, and they even an easel. For my kids, this is their go to spot. Be prepared to watch the paper fly. We call my daughter the paper ninja. The kid can whip up some fantastic little drawings and lose herself in it for hours. Crayons and paper are relatively inexpensive but if you play it smart and watch the sale end caps at Target through the year you can buy new items to stock in the art area for half the price! It’s like Christmas when they go out on their first day of spring break to see the new goodies.
Slip and Slide. You know you remember! The slip and slide experience was my summer as a kid in the 70’s. Yes, we had access to pools but the slip and slide certainly was the most fun and I am proud to say it still is today! I bought my kids one for around $12 and they wanted to play on it every day. You can also just get a very large, long piece of plastic and it works just as well and probably cost a few bucks. Now we just have to battle their Dad about the dead grass we created, sorry Dad!
Games. Mustache Mash was this summer’s favorite at my house because it was easy enough for a five-year-old and a seven-year-old to maneuver themselves. They are also fans of Memory, Mousetrap, Connect Four and Battleship when I can take a break to play. Hide and seek is another one, they could play it for hours! I was also surprised to find that even after the Easter egg hunt was over they still enjoyed playing that game inside with empty eggs..who knew!
Science experiments.  One of my favorite blogs is Tinkerlab. It is the perfect place to find a science experiment or a craft project of any kind for kids. If you haven’t signed up to receive their newsletter and you have kids I highly encourage you to go! We made fake snow for Maggie’s last birthday party (Frozen themed of course) and handed them out as favors. It was a great sensory experience for my kids and the kids who received them loved it too. They have oodles of ideas and many of them just require things from the kitchen.
Baking.  Kids love to bake. They want to learn how to crack an egg and mix the dough so let them. Is it messy? Yes, of course, it is but it’s an easy thing to clean and they learn so much by being involved! Chocolate chips are their favorite because they get a little taste of the chips before the cookies even bake. I also encourage you to try to use applesauce as a substitute for sugar when you can. I am no angel myself but when I can sneak it in, I try.
Books. Read to them, have them read to each other and then talk about the story. Have them draw something they really like in the story. Take them to the library at the end of the day to reward them and get new books for them to borrow. Simple stuff I know, but it works. My daughter cannot read at the moment, but she gets the story and is pretty good at making up her own story but looking at the images. Encourage them to imagine by asking how they would rewrite the story themselves. Kids love to talk and share their ideas. I even talk about songs we listen to in the car and things we see on the road.
Gardening. We are big fans of a garden at my house, we do about two a year. However, if you are not into gardening and do not have a green thumb you can go the easy route and do something simple like a herb garden or tomatoes. Many of them work really well in pots and when the tomatoes grow the kids fight over who gets to pick first. Another fun activity is you-pick farms if you can find one in your area. Supporting your local farmer is great plus your kids can see what goes into growing food.
My favorite things. As stated in the previous listing, kids love to talk, especially about themselves and how they feel. My husband and I created a little thing we do with the kids called “My Favorite Things” and they want to play it all the time. It’s so simple, but you can learn so much about your kids and your spouse with this one. We do it while we are at dinner or even in the car and we
I bet you are thinking right now “Wow Superwoman, how do I do this all in one day?” The answer is I don’t! These are just ideas you can use to take mini-breaks with the kids and to reward them at the end of the day.  They are not all to be done in one sitting but they are all great ideas you can break up into small increments of time where you can thank the kids for letting you work and also to let them know you wish you were playing with them all day instead. Let’s face it, you only get so much time before they don’t want to hang out with us at all and then they go off to college. Take the moments you can and turn them into things both you and the kids can remember. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Disney for them to remember it!

Working From Home, How To Make It Happen

Working from home can be a wonderful thing and it can also be the most frustrating thing in the world, it’s up to you on how you see it. Seven years ago next week my whole life changed when my son, Jackson, was born. I was very excited about his arrival but I truly never thought how this would change my whole life, especially the working aspect of it. The first three months a very caring and loving boss understood my desire to work from home and allowed me to do so but eventually I went back to work. I cried everyday and found it very difficult to leave him with a sitter. Soon after my marketing managerial position was dissolved due to the decline in the real estate economy. It was the perfect timing to start my own business and now my employer became my first client. The solution to all my problems had been found until I tried to actually work from home.

Working from home officially began when my son 6 months old. He had started to become much interested in moving around and less interested in sleeping. This took some time for me to figure out. I would attempt to work normal hours, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all the while keeping the munchkin satisfied. Work for an hour while he is in the jumping jack, break for 30 minutes for bottle and playtime, work for two hours while he napped, break for 45 minutes for more changing, feeding and play time…you understand. My days were broken into sections of time; it wasn’t consistent for me at first. I began to get frustrated and I knew there had to be an easier way. Working at night gave me time to make up for some of the daytime work I missed but I was exhausted. Once I got a pattern down he would grow out of it and we would be back at square one. I knew this never-ending circle would have to end and I was bound and determined to figure it out.

I eventually hired a babysitter, a retired flight attendant who lived next store. She enjoyed playing with him and when he napped she would go home and the return when he would wake. This was it this was the perfect solution. The system was working and I felt like myself again. I took on new clients and was able to have conversations without the possibility of a screaming child looming in the background. I even made time to start running again with friends. I participated in the Susan G. Komen annual 5k and ran the whole thing. I was totally on the road to being myself again. I had the work thing down, I had the house thing down, I had a perfect helper to entertain my son and I was finding time to do things just for me. If you are a mom you know this rarely happens. Shortly after the race I felt nauseous. I assumed it was because I had pushed myself to finish. As it turns out, I was pregnant and it certainly wasn’t planned. I cried for a good three hours. My poor husband had no clue what to say to this independent woman he married who was crumbling before his eyes by yet another change. I have had a job since I was 15 years old. I work, it’s in my blood and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had to stop. What would happen to me, what would I do about the business, how could I manage all of this? Acceptance came with joy soon after, the next day to be exact. We had always wanted two children just maybe not so quickly. I found out I was having a girl a few months later; she would be named Maggie after my grandmother.

Maggie was born on a Monday and by the following week I was back to work and figuring it all out again with this little newborn angel who slept like, well like a baby, she slept like a perfect baby. About a month into this new routine my babysitter decided to start traveling again and gave me a one-day notice. I can honestly admit I thought I was in a bad dream, stunned to be exact. How am I supposed to handle two kids, a home and run my own business?  Once again I set out on a quest and found a solution, preschool a few hours a day right down the street. For a limited amount of time daily Jackson would go and mingle with other two-year-olds while I found time to work, my daughter stayed with me. This went on until she was two and old enough to go to preschool herself.

My son will turn seven next week and my daughter is now five years old. It has not been an easy road figuring this all out. I have cried and I have wanted to quit, multiple times. Most importantly, I never did actually quit. I wanted them to look up to me someday and say that I was Wonder Woman, minus that outfit because let’s face it after kids I could never pull that off.  

A little over a year ago I managed to find an office out of my home with a suggestion from a friend. It was a big step for me and I am grateful every single day that I get to go to that space and work. There is no magical solution to working from home. You have to choose to make it work; you have to want it bad enough. I made a promise to myself and to my family, I would be there as much as I could as they grew up and I continue to keep that promise. I love my profession because it allows me to be me, this independent woman who strives to be better and is constantly creating. But, I love being there for my family because that is the most important thing above all else.

I encourage the stay at home Mom and Dad’s of the world to cut yourself some slack. You are your toughest critic. You are in there every day, in the craziness of stuffed animals and Lego bits covering the floor. Nothing is ever cleaned 100% because you are trying to be five people at a time. You are doing laundry while making lunches and talking to your next possible client on the phone trying to keep out loud noises so you sound professional. Just think, that guy on the other end of the phone has no idea and probably assumes you are just sitting in an office checking your emails. Power on and don’t give up!

 

Bless their hearts.

Where I lived for three days, the Garden Manor Inn, lovely.

Where I lived for three days, the Garden Manor Inn, lovely.

As many of you know I have been out of town most of this week for the Circles Conference in Grapevine, Texas. Now the million dollar question…was it worth it? My answer is yes. It was amazing to meet other people in my field and to hear speakers describe scenarios I go through on a daily basis. It was a great “you are so not alone” type of moment for me. The two speakers I was most interested in listening to were Kathleen Shannon and Jessica Hische, frankly these two ladies are the reason I came. I have followed Jessica Hische for a long time. If you have not heard of her you have probably seen her work

It was informative and interesting!

It was informative and interesting!

in a Starbuck’s ad, her drop cap series with Penquin books or her lettering in the movie Moonrise Kingdom. Kathleen and her sister Tara own Braid Creative and they have a kick-ass way of getting creatives in gear. I admire their honestly and their style! Another speaker, Becky Murphy, was a breath of fresh air. She was honest, funny and charming, just like her work. One of my favorite new people I was introduced to is Danielle Evans, her company is Marmalade Bleue. She is a freaking genius, she creates typography out of food, I am not kidding. Last

Fantastic swag!

Fantastic swag!

but not least I was really impressed by Josh Higgins, not only does this man drop f-bombs like nobody’s business but he gets it done. His work on the Obama campaign was inspiring and I see many of his posters designs on my future walls.

All in all this trip was good for me on many levels for my home and work life, we all know they often meet. My take away is this, be yourself, miss people because they need to miss you and don’t be afraid or intimidating that you aren’t good enough, we are all feeling this at some level so put yourself out there. I promise you will be amazed at what you get in return. I got out of Texas without one person saying “Well bless your heart” to me but I sure heard it in passing a lot!

This says it all really.

This says it all really.