House fire sparks loss and gratitude

“While away on vacation, a phone call woke Becky Ogorek, 59, and her husband Keith in the early hours of July 18, 2016. Their sleepiness vanished when their neighbour back home said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your house is engulfed in flames.” The neighbourhood was frantic as she worried that the car parked in the driveway could indicate that someone was inside.

Except for their oldest daughter, the Ogoreks were gathered together on vacation at a cottage in Michigan. The oldest, in her late 20s, had flown back to Indianapolis to attend a work conference and was staying at her parent’s home. What Becky and Keith found out in the following heart-wrenching minutes was that she’d spontaneously decided to squeeze in an overnight with cousins in Chicago. She wasn’t home. No one was in the house when it had literally burst into flames.” 

Read in full on Forever Young News.

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The Girlfriend’s Guide To Renting Out Your Home While You’re Away

My Texan girlfriend Paulina is one smart woman. She has demonstrated how to parlay their home investment into disposable income for her family of four. Five years ago, she listed their Austin home on the popular short-term home-rental site Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO), and her efforts have paid off.

You can list your home for rent not only through VRBO, but also through Airbnb or HomeAway vacation rental marketplaces. But you need to know what you’re doing.

Read in full at AARP The Girlfriend.

The Girlfriend’s Guide To Essential Oils

Essential oils have won me over because they stand ready to meet today’s smelly challenges, and more.

So, how do I love thee, essential oils? Let me elaborate here:

1. Last time I opened my washing machine I nearly fell over backward after inhaling rank mold and mildew. It was disgusting. I bet I’m not the only one with a smelly washing machine,no? To banish the stench, I recommend following this formula, which includes 20 drops of any antifungal essential oil. Antifungal oils include: citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint and tea tree.

2. Shoe deodorizer fueled by the power of natural essential oils? Yassss, please! Try Poo-Pourri’s spray, Shoe-Pourri. It deploys cedarwood, eucalyptus and grapefruit to extinguish shoe odors and earns a solid five-star rating from over a hundred customers. You also might want to try Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray, which seeks to eliminate odors with antibacterial and antifungal oils.

Read in full on AARP The Girlfriend.

Stirring Up Peace In The Home, Complete With Love And Mutual Respect

With all the confrontation and strife around us, who doesn’t wish for a more peaceful world? I’ve watched people become embroiled in polarizing issues and hope that they’re paying attention to the sphere of influence where they are in control. As one concerned parent, I’ve decided to look first into the place where I can directly stir-up peace: my own home. Here are some straightforward tips to help encourage other parents in the realm where they hold significant influence.

Resist yelling around the house, no matter the size of your home. Walk into the next room and talk face-to-face with your child.

With her characteristic transparency Lori Borgman, grandmother of eleven, syndicated columnist and author of, “I Was A Better Mother Before I Had Kids” pleads guilty to sometimes raising her voice around the home. But, she says, that though it may be momentarily expedient, in the long run, it’s “a horrible habit to develop”. So, if we mess up from time to time, don’t give in. Work intentionally—like Borgman does—to prevent this oops from morphing into a hardened habit.

“Face-to-face is always better,” Bellaire High School counselor Susan Childs told me. She continued, noting that when one person’s voice is raised, it’s reciprocated and pretty quickly, no matter the topic, the point of conversation is lost. Meredith Bodgas, mother and editor-in-chief of WorkingMother.com agrees that the message is affected by its delivery: “Get down on their level so you’re talking to them, not at them or above them. Not only will they may be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying but you’ll also be less inclined to raise your voice since you’ll be so close to their little face.”

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.

Happy Kids=Happy Mom: Summer Help for Bored Kids and Exhausted Parents

“Whoever first penned the phrase, “the lazy days of summer” surely never had kids. Parents with young children are especially apt to be scratching their heads or on the couch in a fetal position, wondering how to manage the open, unconstructed stretch of time called summer. Even if you’ve successfully penciled in camps and a trip to visit grandparents, there will still be slow days, hot days, blah days, when boredom rules the house like a tyrant and brings out the worst in the kids—and you. 

Nat King Cole’s song “Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer” ends with, “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.” If that phrase rings ridiculous, here are 5 freshly-hatched ideas to think about implementing this summer to create enriching, memorable moments.” 

Read in full on Houston Family Magazine.

Living in Jane Jacobs’ Neighborhood

In the Rainey Street District of Austin, Texas, a stranger approached my dog, hand extended. “Puppy!” she shrieked weirdly, a piercing decibel, especially for the hour of day. My first thought is that she closed the bars and is drunk, but, she’s not. She and her friend are in fashionable workout gear, probably all ginned up on coffee and ready for some speed-walking.

Otherwise, relative calm prevails early mornings in my neighborhood when I slip out the door to take Ezzy for her walk.

My neighborhood is a trendy downtown bar district, home to live music, food trucks, drinking holes and raucous partying. But early mornings, it’s even better, with neighbor brushing against neighbor and work crews quietly coming and going, cleaning up what was left behind from the previous night’s revelries. I stop to put a beer glass on an outdoor table that someone has left on the sidewalk outside of Bangers and exchange hellos with the manager.

“How’s the girl?” Brian says. My daughter worked for him the summer before college. He wrote a warm reference letter on her behalf for a volunteer program she’s now involved with at university. When my husband and I stop in for drinks, Brian sometimes says they’re on the house and we trade stories about vacation and raising teenagers.

In the early 2000s I read Jane Jacobs’ magnum opus, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, on the workings of a great city. This 585-page hardback enjoys a prominent place on my shelf, standing proud though dozens of fuchsia post-it-notes marking the best of the best sections from my first read protrude like a child’s unruly tufts of hair. Jacobs was a long-time resident of Greenwich Village and she starts her book at the beginning, with the humble sidewalk, the fundamental building block of a city.

Read in full on StrongTowns.org

Filipinos Finding Each Other In Washington, DC

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I published a personal essay about my childhood in the Philippines in Story|Houston a few years ago. But recently after moving to Washington, DC, I found myself frequently walking past the well-positioned Embassy of the Philippines. It got me thinking about the Filipino-Americans living around me. Although I grew up in the Philippines, I later lived the expat life with my husband (and eventually, kids) in Germany, Dubai and London. Did Filipino-Americans in Washington, DC feel lonely like I sometimes felt as an expat? Did they long to be with others who ‘get it’? Maybe they’d been away from the Philippines so long, immersed in American culture, that they felt detached from their homeland and longed to refresh their understanding of Filipino customs and culture. If so, how did they find each other to reconnect and enjoy mutual refreshment?

The point is, it takes a long time to carve out a place in another country enough to call it home. When you are with others to learn from, to commiserate with, to exchange stories and experiences with, it’s going to be a little bit easier. Gathering with others who share the same ethnic background could set things right.

This article I wrote for Taste.Company shows where this line of thinking took me. Special thanks to Editor Jenny Dorsey and Executive Director Jason Tengco of National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). Read in full here.

Teaching My Kids The Simple Life Gave Them A Taste Of The Good Life

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Our values as parents will be past down to our #kids. What do you #cherish? Happy to be adding my voice to Red Tricycle‘s #March discussion on #minimalism#stuff #materialism #place #space #recycling #goodlife#parenting #location #publicspace #purging

“We knew that our young daughter had internalized our commitment to place over space. At school she was asked to define “neighborhood” and she wrote confidently from her own experience: “A neighborhood is a place where people live, work, and play.” Not bad for a six-year-old.

At its core, the simple life for us was wrapped up in our appreciation for walkability. That summarizes our family’s definition of a good place, and that’s what we tell our realtor every time. We want to be able to walk to the coffeeshop, grocery and pub. We’ve resided in apartments and townhouses. Once we even tried a single-family home. Today, as a family of four, we live in a downtown high-rise with two teenagers. We haven’t owned a lawnmower since 2001.

The urban life necessitated a smaller home out of which blossomed the simple life.”

Read in full herehttp://redtri.com/teaching-my-kids-the-simple-life-gave-them-a-taste-of-the-good-life/

My Son Listened To A Book, Not Me. And That’s OK.

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“I know I can’t take any credit for this victory and honestly, it doesn’t matter. I long ago accepted that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, I recognize that books are influential members of this community as well.”

Parents, sometimes the best thing to do is to step back and shut-up. Intervention can happen for your tween/teen, too…and often from places you didn’t expect. Parenting is not a solo job–it’s welcoming the ‘village’ around you! Thank you for reading  my essay on Today Parenting Team and sharing with others.

Read in full: http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/my-son-listened-to-a-book-not-me-and-thats-ok_1475022188