The new year has come and gone and hopefully we have all made a few goals to become better people! I know this is a lot easier said than done and sometimes new year’s resolutions set us up for failure leaving us feeling hopeless and lost in reaching any of our goals. Well, ever since I can remember I have been setting and reaching my goals. I have learned a few things along the way and hope these tips can help you reach your goals as well!

 

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  1. Be honest with yourself.

We are all capable of gauging where we are in different aspects of our life and there is no “one size fits all goals”.  So really think about the type of person you want to become better at being and set small goals that will lead you on that path. It’s easy to set high expectations and goals for ourselves in the future, but it’s very important to research our ideas to get a better sense of what they entail first. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to set unrealistic and unreachable goals. We think we need to drastically change something in order to see result or reach a certain point, when the truth is, goals are reached day by day, little by little.

  1. Research and think about your resolutions.

Goals don’t have to be a life changing event. They can be simple and something you know you can realistically achieve on a daily basis. I say, start small. Set a few goals for the month. Choose the ones that have the highest priority and start with those. If ultimately you want to loose 30 pounds, well we all know it starts with eating good and exercising. So start simple by saying “this week I am going to replace all fried food with grilled food.” “And I am going to find a workout plan that works for me.” These are both very simple things that will get you on the right path and make you feel like you have accomplished something. After the first week, continue to do your previous goals and add a couple more. For example: I am only going to eat out 2 times this week and I am going to work out 2x this week. Once you have accomplished these goals, move on to a couple more challenging ones and build upon what you have already done! Starting simple with realistic goals will help build your confidence and start habits that will lead you to your ultimate goals.

  1. Make yourself accountable.

WRITE your goals down!! Without a plan to achieve your goals, you will be lost and it will be hard to see your progress. Display your goals where you can see them daily. I like to set my weekly goals on my bathroom mirror so that is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning. I display my monthly goals right on my calendar in my office so I can track my progress and physically see where I’m at in reaching those goals. If you feel you need support, let your friends and family know what your goals are so they can help keep you accountable and on track! Help them understand how they can help you and exactly how you need them to support you.

       4. Make your resolutions flexible and gradual.

Setting up our resolutions in small increments helps them to feel more manageable and much easier to accomplish. This is why I prefer the weekly and monthly goals. Try and be flexible in your goals as well. While we all like to make goals, and stick to them, maybe something just isn’t working for you or you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for. If something clearly isn’t working, then take a day or two to figure it out and readjust. Or maybe something you thought you really wanted just doesn’t make sense anymore. Life happens. And our priorities change from month to month, day to day. This is another reason I like to stick to larger monthly goals and more specific weekly goals. This give us a chance every 30 days to reevaluate where we are and if we need to continue the same path or make adjustments.  Don’t beat yourself up about not achieving a goal or two. As long as you are taking initiative and being active on becoming a better YOU, you are doing great

 5. Come up with a reward system.

For me, just reaching my goals and knowing I am on track to becoming a better me is the best reward I can give myself. But some of us like a little more than that. If giving yourself small rewards helps motivate you and keep you on track then set up a rewards system! Each time you reach a small part of your goal or do your resolution consistently, reward yourself with something special. Doing so will keep you trudging forward! Good luck and I hope you find these tips useful in setting your new goals!

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Along with home design and renovations, our family enjoys traveling… like A LOT! Ok, ok, it may be one of my passions and I take the fam along with me… but I know they enjoy it as well! As some of you may know, we just got back from an AMAZING cruise to the Bahamas last week. I wanted to write about it as it’s fresh on my mind and I want to go back!! Lol… We LOVE cruising with our kids… as a matter of fact, it’s the ONLY way we will go on vacation for a long period of time with them! (eeek!) No, but really, once you cruise with kids and see how easy, AFFORDABLE and fun for the ENTIRE family it is… you’ll have a hard time doing anything else! 

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Family vacations should be fun, relaxing and memorable, BUT sometimes they can also be very stressful! So when it comes to cruising – and cruising with kids – it takes a whole different kind of planning to ensure it goes smoothly and everyone has fun… including you momma!! But don’t be discouraged! While it’ll take some research and preparation, you’ll be able to look forward to a family-friendly getaway that caters to everyone, no matter their age! The more you know, the smoother your vacation will go and the less you’ll have to worry!

As you look forward to your next family vacation at sea, check out these 8 tips for smooth sailing with kids of all ages!

 


        1. Do Your Research

Planning a vacation always requires research, but when traveling with kids, there are certain things that you must look into. Family-friendly entertainment is a must. While you may be happy lounging by the pool all day with a piña colada in hand, kids get bored easily – so make sure there are plenty of things for them to do! Check to see if there are shows, movies, games excursions, even swimming pools that cater to the ages of the children you’re bringing. (Some lines have designated wading pools for children who still wear diapers.) If you have little ones that need to be with you at all times, make sure the activities are something that you can all enjoy as a family, like live musical shows or kid-friendly moving screenings. Also, consider how many days are appropriate for your family to be at sea, and what kind of activities and excursions are offered at each stop.

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  1. Enlist the Help of an Expert

Whether you’re a novice or a pro when it comes to planning vacations, setting sail with the family takes special preparation. I’d recommend that anyone contact a cruise expert to help them narrow down which cruise would best cater to their interests, needs, and budget (this service is free… just call the cruise line and talk with a specialist!) Most importantly, an expert will bring up things that you haven’t even thought of before. They may be able to help you get better deals, plus they’ll assist you in registering and preparing all the paperwork that you need in order to safely board the ship with no departure-day hiccups (yikes!). Overall, a cruise expert will help provide you with a vacation experience that is best suited for your family.
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  1. Check Out Childcare Options

While family vacations are supposed to be about spending quality time together, you and your spouse probably want to enjoy some “adult” time, too (hey, you deserve it!). When cruises offer on-site childcare options, you can get the best of both worlds! If a day at the spa or a romantic dinner for two appeals to you, make sure the cruise you choose offers a service to watch the kiddos for a few hours. When looking into childcare options, check out availability and age limits. Some cruise lines even offer private babysitting services for an hourly fee and come right to your cabin!! (how cool is that?!) If your kids or teens are old enough, scope out options for supervised activities and areas that are designated just for them…ALWAYS something fun going on while cruising! This brings me to my next point…

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  1. Look Into Kids / Teens Clubs

Maybe your kids are social and love engaging in group activities. Perhaps your teen is adventurous and would prefer to be with others her own age. Or it could be that you and your spouse want a safe place to send the kids while you enjoy some quiet time for awhile! Whatever the case, supervised clubs are a great resource to take advantage of while you’re on a family cruise. From arts and crafts to games to dance parties, your kids will have a blast hanging out and meeting new friends! Travel Mamas suggests taking your kids down to their clubs on the first day. That way, they can participate in orientation and ice-breaker activities. If they make friends immediately, they’re much more likely to want to go back later in the week. Also, it’ll give you a chance to check it out, for yourself!

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  1. Pack Appropriately For Your Family

Especially when traveling with youngsters, parents need to make sure to pack all the essentials. It should be noted that just because you’ve boarded the ship, it doesn’t mean you’ll have immediate access to your room! With this in mind, have everything in a handy carry-on that you’ll need for those first few hours on board (including BATHING suites, sunscreen, a change of clothes, sunglasses, and a few toys). You should definitely keep your ID and necessary documents with you until you can lock them safely up in your room. With little ones, you’ll want your diaper bag to be fully stocked: diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, pacifiers, and baby food. What’s more, make sure to pack a generous supply of these items with you for the trip. Some cruise lines may carry these things in their stores — most likely, for an exorbitant price — and some may not have them at all (this is definitely something you should find out before booking your vacation!). If your child is in diapers, Travel Mamas even suggests bringing your own inflatable wading pool if there are no designated splashing areas for youngsters on the ship. Additionally, make sure you have a carrier or small stroller for your young child- I cannot express this enough! There are SO many lines, and lots and lots of walking on the cruise ship… a stroller is a MUST! . Some cruise lines allow travelers to rent strollers for free or for a fee, but they may only have a certain amount available. Some ships don’t have this option at all. It’s also helpful to know that some ship cabins have a limited amount of power outlets. Especially if you’re traveling with teens (who always seem to be recharging their phones!), you may want to consider packing a power strip. Or, challenge the family to “unplug” during the trip and communicate from a distance the “old-fashioned” way: walkie-talkies!

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  1. Prepare – And Don’t Procrastinate

I learned this the HARD way guys!! My daughters birth certificate went MIA two hours before we were suppose to leave and to make a long story short… we had to leave our sweet baby home with grandma! It was a terrible overall experience but a great learning experience… (pretty much the reason I wanted to write this article) There is a ton of paperwork and registration forms to complete before embarking on your vacation. This will most likely mean you’ll have to gather birth certificates, passports, visas, etc…and you don’t want to be running around doing this last minute! To be safe and have peace of mind, I would suggest printing off and gathering up ALL paperwork, documents and ID’s two weeks before you embark on your vacation. That way, if there are any mishaps — say, you realize your passport has expired, or you forgot to pick up sunscreen on your last errand run — you’ll have time to correct them without going into full-on panic mode!  Many cruises require your kids to have wristbands that contain camp admittance or safety information, that you will need to print and fill out before you get on the ship. You’ll also have to put down a deposit, or even the vacation’s entire expense, long before you leave shore, and most ships don’t use cash on board, so pre payment is a must! It’s also a great idea to start planning what you’re going to pack, even if it just means writing your checklist down on paper so you don’t forget anything!

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  1. Plan an Itinerary

If you have older kids who will want to go off and do their own thing, consider planning a daily itinerary including excursions, special dinners, and family activities that you’ll have scheduled. If applicable, print out the kids club schedules and have your kids choose what  they’d like to participate in, and when. Go over your daily schedules together every morning and designate times and areas for when you need to meet up again. Not only is this a great way to spend your time efficiently, it’ll help everyone know where the others are, should you need to find each other before your meeting time. (This is another great reason to pack those walkie-talkies!) Also, a lot of off shore excursions take several hours so plan ahead of time when you need to wake up so you’ll have enough time to hit the beach too!

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  1. Arrive A Day (Or Two) Before Departure

Although fun, vacations can be very stressful. For me, planning extra time during travel days helps me relax, in the event that something does not go according to plan. It’s always smart to arrive in your city of departure a day or two before you set sail. That way, if your flight is delayed or your luggage is lost (eek!) you’ll at least have a cushion of time to adjust your plan and re-prepare before setting sail. If you’re departing in a city that’s in a different timezone than you’re used to, factor in an extra day, if you can, to give everyone some time to rest and adjust. Boarding the ship — along with thousands of other people — means crowds, long waits, and stress! With little ones, you’re definitely going to want a stroller. If it’s an option, check in early at the airport. I highly suggest looking into purchasing round-trip shuttle tickets if they’re available. The shuttle will bring you from the airport to the cruise ship (and back to the airport, when you return home). By taking advantage of pre-check-in and avoiding lines, this is one instance where the extra money is well spent.

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Most of all… HAVE FUN!!! I hope this article helps in planning your next cruise and let me know if you have any other suggestions! Thanks – Heather

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When designing my athletic, football-loving 11-year-old son’s bedroom, I wanted it to reflect his active personality while still looking clean, modern, and not too childish. Since kids grow up so fast and their interests change, I wanted to make sure that the decor could easily evolve with his hobbies.

I started by painting the room in a fresh neutral color, choosing a custom dark grey that matches my son’s comforter from Pottery Barn Kids. Next came the thick white stripe to accent the walls, bordered by two thinner black stripes. Not only do the stripes give the room a sporty vibe, they provide a great background to make wall art pop.

Now, I’m going to be honest; these stripes took me FOREVER to paint! But I think it was well worth it. First, I started with the wide, 18-inch stripe painted in Polar Bear White by Behr. The key to keeping the painted lines looking clean is to make sure that they’re perfectly straight, so one of my tricks is to use a board.

I placed a 5 ft board on the floor and against the base of the wall so that the top of it marked the the top of the stripe. I penciled in a line every 8 inches or so to make sure that the tape would stay level when I applied it to the wall. Afterward, I had my husband cut the board 14” inches shorter so I could mark the bottom line of the stripe, repeating the same process.

My other “secret weapon” to make crisp lines is to use caulk, which, in my opinion, is the best way to do this. I used thick green frog tape to mark my lines, smoothing it on the wall so that there were no gaps or bubbles (remember this especially for textured walls), and traced the edges of the tape with a calk gun.

Be careful not too much caulk, as the line applied should only be the width of a string of yarn. Using more than that could result in the excess sticking to the tape as you pull it off the wall, ripping the paint off with it.

Next, I pressed the caulk with a damp cloth, which helped it sink into all the little crevices, then I let it sit for about a half hour. I peeled the frog tape when the caulk was almost dry – if you let it dry completely, the tape will adhere to the wall and ruin your beautiful new paint job!

After I had painted the wide white stripe on all walls across the room, I took off the tape, making sure that all the caulk and paint were dry and the lines looked straight. Once I knew that my lines were PERFECT, I placed a strip of thick green frog tape evenly along the top and bottom of the white stripe. The plan was to paint the black border stripes along the outside edges of the white stripe (as opposed to above and below the white stripe, directly onto the grey wall).

Once I had my strip of tape in place, I marked the top and bottom of each – these marked the thickness for my black stripes. Next, I peeled off both pieces of tape and placed new strips above and below the marked lines I had just made (that way, I’d be able to paint black in the space between). That’s how I knew exactly where my stripes were suppose to be placed and that the lines would be clean.

I proceeded to caulk all edges along the tape, as I did before. After the caulk was set, I painted the black stripes with Tricorn Black by Behr. When the paint was almost dry, I took the tape off and finished by doing minor touch-ups. Voila! My beautiful, three-lined stripe was complete!

All this prep and careful painting resulted in over 10 hours of work. Luckily, the end product made it all worth it! These striped accent walls look extra sporty and add interest to the room. I love how the white stripe pops against the grey wall, while also picking up the white paint that’s elsewhere in the room. The baseboards and barn door are all colored with Ultra Pure White by Behr in a semi gloss to make the trim pop.

After the walls were dry, I wanted to make sure that the room’s finishing touches were perfectly personalized for my son. I ordered some vinyl football decals from Sweetums Signatures, which look especially bold against the background of the white and black stripe, then hung some canvas prints of him playing his favorite sport. Instead of a boring ceiling light or a fussy lamp, I installed this cool silver multi-way light that’s almost like a mini spotlight for my little sports fan. And, perhaps the best part of the remodel (at least in my son’s opinion): a custom-made DIY Nerf gun wall. (Stay tuned for the tutorial!)

Now, my son can play, cheer, and dream in his new sports-themed space. If he ever grows out of his football phase, the decals can be peeled off and the pictures can be replaced. (But somehow, I have the feeling he’ll never grow out of that Nerf gun wall!) The beauty of the wall paint is that it’s neutral without being boring. It could be converted into a nautical-themed study, a film-lover’s entertainment room, a chic guest room… just about anything!

 

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Eeeeekkk!!! SO excited to finally show you all the full reveal of the Keck house! We renovated the whole first floor of this house in 7 days. It went from boring brown builder grade (see previous posts) to modern, fresh and bright with TONS of style!! We renovated this home from top to bottom including new hardwood floors throughout, all new paint (baseboards, walls, stair railing and ceilings) newly painted cabinets, new back splash, two planked feature walls, a painted fireplace, all new lighting, new furniture and all new decor! Phew!! It was a CRAZY week full of lots of projects, loss of sleep, a couple freak outs and of course a little drama! But it was all worth it!! Check out the pictures for yourself and enjoy friends!!

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Here are just a couple more before and afters of two of the 5 spaces we designed! Stay tuned for the full reveal tomorrow after the contractor open house!! Looking back at the before pictures and comparing them to the afters… I am BLOWN away!! When I was designing this space I kept hearing from the home owner that she wanted it to be brighter… over and over again. She didn’t really know what her design style was but she is my good friend and I knew what it was 😉 . I wanted to create something warm, colorful and modern yet add some rustic touches and give it an overall very clean feel.  By painting the cabinets, trim, doors and ceilings a crisp pure white we were able to truly brighten up the space.  I decided to go with a modern navy color (that I custom made by hand) to give the space an overall warmer feeling and add a gorgeous pop of color. We tied the Navy in throughout the whole first floor with pillows, throws, and chairs. I brought a couple more warmer clean colors (taupe and cream) to bring everything together and stay with that warm clean look. The rustic wood tones and black accents give it that little pop of modern rustic I was going for. We added all new modern lighting throughout the space to make it feel fresh and add clean lines. In the end, the homeowners were speechless and said they LOVED every inch of each space. It all came together so beautifully and exactly what they were hoping for!

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