Wednesday, June 19, 2013

App Review: Flipboard and Fancy

Recently I downloaded a bunch of apps because I was bored.  (Home sick)  Usually when this happens, only one of the many downloads turns out to be worth the effort.  This time, all the apps have been pretty intriguing.

The first app I'd like to review is Flipboard

Now if you've heard of this app, great!  You already know how nifty it is.  Yes, I said nifty!  The signup is quick and painless.  You pick categories you're interested in including any social media you follow / participate in regularly.  Now, I Facebook but I'm not a Twitter girl (yet), so it was really nice to have a single place to check out the news, see the latest FB post, check out a design topic, etc.  If you open FB in Flipboard, even your news is in the flipboard layout.  I really liked it, personally.  There is even an option at the end to add additional areas of interest.  For me, I plan to add Houzz and Pinterest.  I have their solo apps, but I like the idea of not having to go into a separate app.  The UI is intuitive and seamless.

I give Flipboard two thumbs up!

The second app I have come to spend a ridiculous amount of time on is Fancy.
I spend a large amount of time fancy'ing things.  Things I can't afford and will likely never buy.  Things I will look for at every store I visit, because I now consider them must haves.  Things I will lust after and pray someone buys me for a present one day.  It's the best kind of window shopping that results in a virtual bucket list of "I want that" items.  Harmless so long as you aren't charge happy - which thankfully, I am not.  There are deals and discounts popping up in my email regularly because of the things I fancy, so if I do ever decide to actually buy something - I can probably get it for a decent deal.  SCORE for the frugal girl with high end tastes.  Also - DIY ideas abound.  ABOUND I tell you...

I fancy this app - a lot!  Two thumbs up...

TTC: Handling Disappointment

One of the chief lessons you learn on this journey is how to handle disappointment.  At first every single time things didn't work right, before we started with the assisted route, I was devastated.  I felt loss and failure in such a keen way, it was crippling.

Obviously I couldn't continue on that emotional rollercoaster because it's not healthy for me or any future child I might carry.  At first I tried not getting excited or hopeful, but that made the entire process a chore.  I keep being reminded in so many subtle ways, that this is about my husband and I starting something amazing. 

We work on keeping things fun and remembering to focus on our love. 

It's hard at times.  Like last week when the clomid cycle went nowhere.  I'll admit to a few crying bouts and conversations with God that sounded a lot like whining, even to me.  However, I got busy living my life and spending time with people I love and found out that it's not the end of the world.

In fact, we made the incredibly hard decision to take a month off then try again.  Stress and anxiety aren't going to help.

Neither is wallowing in the lows - so here's to the next time, and the slivers of hope I cling to...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday Tickler: And that's how the fight started

You may have seen these before, I had not - but even if you are rereading them - I think you'll still get a chuckle!  Enjoy and may none of your marriages be anything like this!

One year, a husband decided to buy his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift.
The next year, he didn’t buy her a gift.  When she asked him why, he replied, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!”
And that’s how the fight started.....
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table.
My wife asked, ‘Do you know her?’
‘Yes,’ I sighed. ‘She’s my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.’
‘My God!’ says my wife. ‘Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?’
And that’s when the fight started.....
My wife walked into the den & asked “What’s on the TV?” I replied “Dust”.
And that’s how the fight started.....
A woman is standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She is not happy with what she sees and says to her husband, ‘I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.’
The husband replies, ‘Your eyesight’s damn near perfect.’
And that’s how the fight started.....
 My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.
She said, ‘I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 200 in about 3 seconds‘.  
I bought her a bathroom scale.
And that’s how the fight started.....
I asked my wife, ‘Where do you want to go for our anniversary?’
It warmed my heart to see her face melt in sweet appreciation.
‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said.
So I suggested, ‘How about the kitchen?’
And that’s when the fight started....
My wife and I are watching Who Wants to Be A Millionaire while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, ‘Do you want to have sex?’
‘No’, she answered...
I then said, ‘Is that your final answer?’
She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying ‘Yes’.  
So I said, ‘Then I’d like to phone a friend’. 
And that’s when the fight started....
When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace expensive.
So, I took her to a gas station.
And that’s when the fight started.....
I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Miller Light for $14.95.
Instead, she bought a jar of cold cream for $7.95.
I told her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream.
And that’s when the fight started.....
I rear-ended a car this morning... the start of a REALLY bad day! The other driver got out of his car and he was a DWARF!!!  He looked up at me, and said,  ‘I AM NOT HAPPY!!!’
So, I looked down at him and said, ‘Well, then which one are you?’
And that’s when the fight started.....
I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. ‘I’ll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.’
He said, ‘Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?’
‘Nah, she can order for herself’.  
And that’s when the fight started.....
When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the truck, the car, playing golf always something more important to me.
Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point.
When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors.
I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush.
 I said, 'When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.'
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.
And that's how the fight started...
The other morning I thought I would slip out of the house without my wife knowing and go fishing. I woke at about 4am, got dressed, got all my fishing gear and silently slipped out to my garage.
As I raised the garage door I noticed it was raining and the wind was blowing about 50 MPH. So, I slipped back into the house, undressed, and carefully slipped back into bed.
I rolled over and hugged my wife as she laid on her side, back towards me – a new plan in mind. I softly whispered in her ear, “The weather out there is pretty frightful".
She then replied, “I know, can you believe my stupid husband is out in that fishing?"
.........And that's how the fight started.
There was this guy who had just reached retirement age and he went down to the social security office to sign up. When he walked up to the front desk the woman asked to see his driver’s license.
Just then the guy realized that he had forgotten his wallet and would have to return home to get it. The lady behind the desk then asked the guy to unbutton his shirt. The guy did, revealing a thick gray hairy chest.
The woman then said that seeing all that gray chest hair was good enough for her, so she signed the guy up on his social security.
When the guy got home he happily told his wife what had happen.
The wife smiled and then said, “You should have dropped your pants.  You might have gotten disability, too".
........and that's how the fight started.
There was this couple that had been married for ten years, but the husband always insisted on having sex with the lights off.
One night while the couple was involved in some wild and passionate sex, the wife reached over and flipped the lights on.
That's when she shockingly saw that the husband was using a 'sex toy'.
Angrily the wife shouted,' All these years and you have been using a sex toy! Explain yourself!!'
The husband looked at her and said,' I'll explain the sex toy, just as soon as you explain the three kids!'
..........and, that's how the fight started.
A man and a woman were asleep at 3:00 am like two innocent babies. Suddenly, a loud noise came from outside.
The woman, bewildered, jumped up from the bed and yelled at the man, “That must be my husband!”
So the man jumped out of the bed scared and jumped naked out the window. He landed in a thorn bush, and then ran to his car as fast as he could go.
A few minutes later he returned and went up to the bedroom and screamed at the woman, “I AM your husband!”
The woman yelled back, ‘Yeah, then why were you running?’
And that’s when the fight started…
So I said to my wife “what would you do if we won the lottery”?
“I’d take half of it and leave you”, she said.
“Well, I won ten bucks today; here’s your five; see ya!” I replied..
..And that’s how the fight started...
A wife, one evening, drew her husband’s attention to the couple next door and said, “Do you see that couple? How devoted they are? He kisses her every time they meet. Why don’t you do that?”
“I would love to.” replied the husband. “But I don’t know her well enough.”.....
.....and that’s how the fight started.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I actually do like Disney...

But this link makes me laugh - because it's true!

Disney Posters Get Honestly Remixed

For example:

Private Message - Public Answer

Why don't I put pictures with my blog posts?

I honestly have no idea.  For being a graphic designer, I've been viewing this blog more from the writing perspective than the visually appealing perspective.  Graphics and images should add value.  I guess I never thought they were necessary, but as I am a person always willing to learn and try something new - I'm going to address this issue.  We'll see if it makes a difference!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LifeAlert: Driving Lesson #101

I just read this article today, which I will share part of below (there's no link or I'd share that - this was a message at work), that scares me in the DC area:

Have you ever nodded off while driving and snapped awake without remembering what just happened on your journey?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are 100,000 police-reported crashes resulting in 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries annually as the result of drowsy driving.

62% of drivers drive when they are tired.

50% of fatal crashes involve single vehicle collisions where the vehicle travels off the road, rolls over, or collides with a fixed object.

40% of adults are so tired that it interferes with their daily activities.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived drivers' reaction times and performance skills are as poor as alcohol-impaired drivers'.

There are two types of fatigue:
  • Physical - A tendency toward inactivity brought on by physical exhaustion.
  • Mental - A tendency toward inactivity brought on by mental or emotional stress.
Your body and mind both get tired. Recognize physical and mental fatigue so that you can be sure you never get in a vehicle when your body needs to sleep. Your brain will find the sleep it needs when you are fatigued, and falling asleep at the wheel or experiencing a microsleep (temporary loss of concentration) can happen when you least expect it.

Fatigue may be brought on by mental or physical exertion, stress, boredom, illness, or lack of sleep. Drowsy driving is now recognized as one of the leading causes of traffic crashes.

Can you imagine in this area of speeding tailgaters that 62% of them are falling asleep behind the wheel?!

Keeping a distance from the crazies (and getting enough sleep so you don't join them) is today's LifeAlert!

Monday, June 10, 2013

TTC: Potty watch

When you were a toddler, your parents spent a lot of time looking in the toilet after you and praising you for whatever they found there.  Even if you went and did nothing, making the effort counted. 

As you got older, until you hit puberty as a female, you never really gave what happened in the bathroom much extra thought.  Boys would exclaim over interesting finds to gross out everyone around them, but girls generally had it easy until puberty.  Then going to the bathroom was, once a month, dreaded and unpleasant.

Fast forward to your early adulthood and it's all "old habit".  You don't really pay much attention anymore.

Then you suddenly hit the age when you're trying to conceive.

Suddenly you're like the parent of the toddler, studying every movement in the loo.  You become an expert on cycles to the point that you're faily sure you could teach your OB/GYN a thing or two.  You scare your spouse with facts they never wanted to know.  You actually have started to annoy yourself.

That's all part of the TTC journey.

So much of this has been stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I was raised to "be a lady" at all times.  Certain things are never discussed aloud - ever.  With anyone.  So this series of "no privacy, invasive procedures and questions" has been a challenge. 

The nice thing is that it's freeing.  You begin to realize how silly and unimportant some things are, while other restrictions are reinforced in my mind. Somethings are personal and SHOULD be unless you and your doctor NEED to discuss them.

The stuff in the bathroom, however, is not.  At least judging by the multitude of online testimonials I've read - and trust me, I've read a lot!

PS:  As a total non-sequitur: I am reminded of the debate I used to have with a friend in college:  Charmin or Kleenex brand toilet paper?

(Kleenex brand obviously - less butt fuzz!)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Discover This!

Five  Seven new sites I found today:

1.  - This link will send you to a page on non-alcoholic summer drinks - but the main page is full of amazing topics you will be thrilled to learn about.

2. - This link will take you to my future next pet if I can talk my hubby into it.  The main page will lead you down a delightful rabbithole of truly "neat" things.  And by neat it can range from "that's amazing" to "that's weird".

3. - To be fair, I didn't just discover this today.  I rediscovered how much I love the design inspirations and thoughtful ideas on it.

4. - Not sure how to describe the stuff that will make you want to eat, shop and redesign parts of your life all at the same time - see for yourself!

5.  The Setup - We learn from those who have forged the trails before us much of the time.  Current day people who will be future inspiration are interviewed here.  It's fascinating to read how people get stuff done!

6.  Inhabitat - Not a new discovery either, but it's wonderful!  Beauty that can save the world!

7.  Stuff you never knew you wanted is what is all about.  I think it's supposed to be for men.  I like it!

Design Files: Look and Feel

The first question a designer asks is, "What's the message you're trying to convey?" or "What's the story we're telling?"  It doesn't matter if it's graphic design, interior design, cake design, event design - all design is meant to convey a look and feel that supports a message.

Unintentional design does the same thing.

Remember that college dorm room with the clothing all over, food cartons and bags in random places, the discarded beer bottle or twelve mixed in with stacks of books and projects?  Remember your impressions of that person?  Was it you?  Sometimes, it was me.  For as OCD as I can be about cleanliness and organization, when I get wrapped in a project - something suffers.  I stop cooking and eat crappy food or forget to make the bed (read: choose not to in rebellion to my childhood!)

As I've gotten older and my professional career has grown, my habits and outlook have changed.  I can't function if there isn't cursory cleanliness and organization.  I may still eat out, but there is no trash left behind or I eat somewhere I can sit down and brainstorm.  My clothing has its own management system so I always wear something that's clean, color coordinated and easy to access.  (There are women who have color coded their wardrobes while separating the tops, bottoms, and dresses respectively.  That's my goal when I finally have a closet big enough!)

Why the big change?

I had to change the message my life design was conveying.  I'm still the artist that gets lost in her craft, but I have tools in place now to keep my life looking controlled and professional.  It's taken a while to get there, but the look and feel matter.

Recently, I have been helping an acquaintance plan a family event.  She has a general sense of "what she wants the event to be like" for her guests, but no actual theme or design plan.  There was some random looking at Pinterest and other DIY sites and magazines, but as these ideas were being oohed and aahed - I asked that important base question, "What's the story we're telling?"

It wasn't just a family reunion, it was the return of a family member that for reasons that don't matter here has been out of the family bower for many years.  They have changed their life and are coming back - the family wants to give a "big welcome" but not "overwhelm" the prodigal family member.  The original plans had included renting out a fancy restaurant and making a huge spectacle of the person.  Not that making a spectable was the intent, but it would have been the outcome.  Also, considering what the person has been through as well as some of the family background, the outright lavishness of the event would have been off-putting.  The family discussed it as length and later came back with an alternate plan to have the event at someone's home.

As we discussed the location (an uncle's large home) and budget, it became clear what kind of event would  allow the entire family to be involved - which was a big part of the message.  Everyone wanted to do something to show their love.

We continue planning, not worried about colors or a specific theme.  I've been struck, in our conversations, how important proper planning of even a seemingly simple event like this can be.  The outcome of the event can either frighten the person into hiding, or give them access to an incredible support system in a positive manner.

So the girl who used to not "care what people thought" (and in some ways, still doesn't) has learned to control what people see to shape their perceptions.  I'm still the same girl - much like the the event above still has the same people involved - but everything in my life has been adjusted according to the story I'm trying to tell about my life.

What does the look and feel of your life say?  How much of it is intentionally designed?

As someone once said to me, "You can't control other people's perception, but you can control what they see to perceive."

Forks in the Road

"The Road Less Travelled"
"The Winding Road"
"The Narrow Path"

These, and many more, are terms used to describe the 'Road / Path of Life'.  They reference taking chances and making your own way. While important themes, rarely is referenced the fact that most people don't stay on the same road for very long.

Throughout your life, you come to points where you have to make a hard decision.  I'm not talking about cutting your hair or even changing jobs, but decisions that affect the fabric of who you are intimately.  Sometimes it involves having a confrontation or intervention with a family member to address an issue that affects everyone.  Perhaps you decide to give up a habit or make a life change that will make you healthier / unhealthier, but will certainly change your attitude and personality.  It can be something like choosing a certain group of friends and not making the effort to keep or include others at a pivotal development point.  Regardless of the situation, the choice is something irrevocable.  There's no going back to the way things are - no matter how hard you try to undo the choice.  Even if it's a mistake that you later make right, it does not erase the happenings in between.

Those moments are forks in the road.  They are rarely planned and, if made in haste or poor judgement, can turn you from a future you currently desire.  Which leaves you trying to get back on track or adjusting your plans.

I have recently had a number of these moments, mostly positive, occur in my life.  However in the past week or two, I've had one situation that has become more prominent every day that is decidedly negative.  Someone I have considered a friend for over half my life has taken advantage of a family member.  The actions were over time and not malicious, but instead careless and self-centered, but the damage is the same.  Because I was not directly involved, initially I stayed out of things, but recently the situation became something I could no longer ignore.

I have cried and grieved over the confrontation I feel I must have with this person.  I feel certain it will mean the end of a relationship I have valued for a very long time, but ultimately - I can't be ok with calling someone friend who would disrespect me and my family by behaving so callously.  The Christian in me keeps saying, "Perhaps this is their valley and they need the support and love more than the condemnation."  How, in that case, do I reconcile it with my love and support of my family?

I'm still working on the way forward, but I look around and think, "Wouldn't it be nice if someone addressed moments like these and gave you a quick quip to tell you what to do?"  There is no doubt that this will change me and my view on friendships going forward, not to mention my raising of children and what I teach them going forward.  I am risking the removal of part of my support system that has been with me for a long time.  Until recently, that relationship was a balanced give and take where we emotionally and mentally were there for one another.  All life experiences impact us - but making the right decision in these situations can be challenging.  Knowing the outcome will be painful adds a special stress to the situation.

As I go forward I think about my father and all the advice he's ever given me.   The one that sticks out with me the most right now is, "Doing the right thing and the easy thing are not the same thing.  Doing the right thing will never lead you astray." 

Now I just have to figure out what exactly that is...

Marriage Files #103: Thought Patterns

One of the things I've been struggling with is changing my thought patterns.  I know I'm a wife and totally committed to my marriage, but I still haven't changed my name.  I've started the paperwork, but haven't finished it.  Why?  Normally, I like to get stuff over with so it's not sitting on my "To-Do" list - so why can't I just get this done?

Then, my husband and I still have separate finances.  Money is such a hard subject for me.  I've been extremely poor at times and have worked so hard to be where I am that even though I know it's ridiculous, I struggle with turning over everything to a joint fund.  To be fair, my husband hasn't asked me to, but in my heart - I know that's what's probably best.  I just, once again, can't quite get there.

The problem, I think, is that for all that we happily live as a couple, make decisions together, and have joined our schedules and futures - I still think like a single person on certain topics.  Part of me keeps struggling not to lose my own identity as I become part of a new creation. 

I'm not entirely certain what to do in this situation except continue to work on it and pray about it, but I'm sure I'm not the only person who has entertained the same struggles.  So, here's me reaching out, if you have advice or thoughts - feel free to send them my way.

To my wonderful husband, I continue to thank you for your patience and willingness to let me figure things out as we go along. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The house that sadists built: Selling

So a little over a week ago, we got the surprising news that an offer was being made on the house.  (Hallelujah chorus begins)

Said offer was 8.9k less than our listed price.
(Awwss... chorus still plays, but more quietly)

However it is a cash offer with only the standard home inspection contingeny.
(Resume chorus at full strength)

We take the offer (with a quickness) and only ask for a slightly more realistic settlement date so we have time to move out.

The buyer agrees and arranges for an inspection the next day.  Turns out, he's an investor with staff.  We don't care - we're free!
(Holy Ghost Dancing? Why yes, thank you!)

After the inspection, the buyer is "surprised" to "discover" that we don't have AC in the almost 40 year old house.  Something clearly stated in our listing, by the realtors, and in the contract THE BUYER drew up and sent to us when he made the offer.
(Record rips to a stop.   Foot tapping commences)

We suspect he's trying to get a lower price.  We go back and forth for days, but ultimately it's still a competitive bid and it's cash.  We begrudgingly accept his new counteroffer but are informed that was a verbal offer (still legal in VA) but we haven't seen a signed contract.  I am starting to smell something rotten.

It's this house!

However, we still have tiny spurts of hope that this will still turn out to be a solid sale.  We were so closed to being free...