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First Home: Making A Place Your Place

Two kids in our family bought their first homes this month. Whether renting or buying, moving into a new place usually means facing some empty rooms waiting to be filled with furniture, beds, art, rugs, decor—the stuff of life! Yes, it can seem daunting and a bit costly, but what a pleasure a beautiful home can be. It’s immensely satisfying to flip through design magazines, watch HGTV for ideas, browse furniture websites, look at Pinterest and create your own castle. Even if you can’t afford to make it all happen at once, it helps to have a master plan. Most of us are not super talented at designing the home of our dreams. Would you let an amateur paint your house, perform an appendectomy, give you legal advice, fix your car? Probably not. But it’s always surprising to me how many people don’t bring in professional interior design help when it comes to making their house a home. The American Society of Interior Designers offers an online find-a-pro directory. You may think designers are too expensive, but many offer consultation services on a limited-hour basis. I once asked a local designer to come to my home for just a [...]

2017-06-07T08:24:32+00:00 June 6th, 2017|

Choosing Baby’s Next Bed

Some kids start climbing out of their cribs early, but my daughters were pretty content to wait until age 3. That’s when we made the transition from crib to twin. My oldest daughter was so reluctant, we put her first big-girl mattress on the floor for a few weeks to smooth the way. Why do we automatically go from cribs to twin-size mattresses? A twin mattress measures 38” x 75” (a twin XL, often used in college dorms or for taller teens is 38” x 80”). A full (sometimes referred to as a double) measures 53” x 75”. Here’s a perhaps heretical idea I came to later in life: If the size of the room permits, I vote for getting kids a full size mattress. “You’re kidding?” I hear parents say when I suggest this, but think about it. Who’s lying in that bed? Think about how often a parent snuggles next to a child to read a bedtime story in a twin bed. It can be a tight squeeze, right? What about those watchful nights when kids have an ear infection or chicken pox or need comfort after a nightmare? Sometimes kids just want to cozy up with [...]

2017-06-06T10:37:52+00:00 May 24th, 2017|

Sleep Games for Insomnia

During my decade working with the Better Sleep Council years ago, our spokesperson was Dianne Hales, a prolific writer and author of the wonderful sleep book “How to Sleep Like a Baby.” There’s an entire chapter in the book devoted to cognitive-focusing exercises (aka mind games) that, in essence, bore you to sleep by using the left and right spheres of your brain simultaneously. It works! Counting sheep is the most famous example—your left sphere is occupied counting and the right sphere is busy visualizing sheep. Serta’s long-time advertising campaign is based on sheep for this reason. The idea is that Serta’s mattresses are so comfortable and sleep-inducing you won’t need to count sheep to fall asleep. Here are three sleep mind games that work for me: Think of famous people (your choice: celebrities, athletes, artists, musicians) whose first and last names begin with the same initial and go through the alphabet, letter by letter. For instance, Alan Alda, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Chaplin, Danny DeVito, Emilio Estevez, Farrah Fawcett, Greta Garbo... you get the drill. I never get too far past Marilyn Monroe before falling asleep. Don’t want to do double initials? Go through the alphabet sequentially naming athletic teams, [...]

2017-06-06T10:39:23+00:00 May 17th, 2017|

My Life on a Sofa

Family photo albums tell many stories—what clothes you wore in various decades, the hairstyle mistakes that now make you cringe—but often it’s the furniture that reminds us of the where and when. Going through old pictures recently with my adult daughter, I was struck not only by the wonderful family faces, but also by the backdrop, in particular our sofas over the years. Those sofas bore witness to many changes as my children grew and treasured pets came in and out of our lives. Sofas might be the most loved and abused pieces of furniture in our homes: spilled on by babies, toddlers and careless adults; clawed by cats and gnawed by dogs; flopped on casually by rowdy teenagers. Our couches see our kids through countless sick days and cradle us through life’s highs and lows. The only photo I can find of me pregnant with my first child is on a stylish linen sofa (purchased with the help of an interior designer family friend) in our first house. Not so stylish is the wild floral thing my three girls are sitting on while mugging for the camera. How did I ever think that sofa was beautiful? Maybe I never [...]

2017-06-06T10:40:36+00:00 May 10th, 2017|

Can Stress Make You Sleep Less?

It’s Better Sleep Month. This is a good time to focus on what’s standing in the way of getting your best rest. In our fast-paced, 24/7 world, with smartphones notifying us of every text and email, it isn’t easy to turn off the noise—literally and figuratively—and get to sleep. And, the cruel joke is that the less you sleep, the less likely you are to be able to cope with the problems creating stress in the first place. Talk about a vicious cycle. Now is a good time to re-evaluate and try some strategies to reduce stress and get the sleep you need. Here are a few tips to break the cycle: Don’t bring work into your bedroom. Make the place where you sleep a safe haven from the day’s angst. Turn off your phone. OK, maybe that’s impractical if you need to be available for a family emergency, but most phones can be set to ring only for designated callers. Get into a bedtime routine. Whether it’s a book, a warm shower, hot cocoa or gentle stretches, try to do the same things in the same order each night as a way to train your body to wind down. Take a [...]

2017-06-06T10:41:14+00:00 May 1st, 2017|