Dads: Red Fish Blue Fish

As parenting roles have blended over the last few decades, dads aren’t just responsible for “bringing home the bacon”. Sometimes moms are the bacon-bringers and dads are the primary caretakers of the kids and the home. Usually, however, it’s a mix, which I think is better for everyone involved.

I’m pretty sure playfulness is a universal dad trait. I suppose that’s part of why “dad jokes” are such a thing now. Even the most serious, masculine dads often get to be the “fun parent”, cracking a terrible pun with a wry smile. While Mom reminds the kids how to correctly brush their teeth, Dad splashes them with sink water. While Mom has a heart-to-heart at bedtime, Dad becomes the tickle monster. These roles reverse often, but for many families, Dad likes to think he’s just one of the kids.

This is in stark contrast to the career-oriented dad, who is all about performance and work and planning. This dad works long hours and expects the same from kids regarding schoolwork. He is very driven and goal-oriented and probably wants his kids to go to Harvard. He wants the best for his kids, like all of us, but might not be quite as playful as other dads.

Some dads are very casual in their parenting, very free-range. “Eh, he’s fine!” is this dad’s mantra as his toddler goes headfirst down the slide and face plants in the dirt. Others are the distinct opposite: the helicopter dad, the safety dad. Whereas the “whatever” dad shrugs off suggested car seat regulations, helicopter dad has his 14-year-old in a five-point safety harness.

Then there’s the emotionally tuned-in, sensitive dad versus the stoic, man’s-man dad. One says “let it out” while the other says “be strong”. Both love their kids to the moon and back, but one prefers tough love and the other wants to discuss feelings. And let’s not forget Mr. Fix-it, who is both handy and athletic. He can build a deck and install a light and then go coach soccer. He’s a bit of an overachiever, like career-dad, but with A.D.D. He doesn’t know how to relax, but he’s really excited about it.

Of course there are countless combinations of these dad personalities in each individual, and lots more types of dads than I can list. Dads are fun, dads are strong; dads are strict, dads are loving. Some are quiet, some are loud. Some are silly, some are serious.

To quote the great Dr. Suess…

“Some are thin. And some are fat. This one has a yellow hat. Some are fast. And some are slow. Some are high and some are low. Not one of them is like another. Don’t ask us why. Go ask your mother.

From there to here, from here to there, Funny [dads] are everywhere.”

No matter what, if you have a dad that loves you, he’s doing his best, so take this holiday to express love and appreciation to your special, unique father (aka fish).

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Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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You know how people say, “This is why we can’t have nice things”, usually pertaining to their pets or children? Well it’s also true for us. Yes, our pets and children ruin everything constantly, but we are no better.
A few years into owning our first house we got new appliances. A whole. New. Set. It was a very exciting moment. Yet we, the responsible adults, each ruined a new appliance the moment they were installed. Thinking he was handyman of the year, my husband messed with the door on the new dishwasher and broke it. I used Goof Off on the new microwave to remove sticker residue, permanently damaging the shiny plastic. This was THE FIRST DAY we had them. But that’s not all. I also managed to MELT aluminum foil in the bottom of the oven, and crack one of the plastic crisper drawers in the refrigerator when I closed the outside door on it. I’m officially worse than kids and dogs.
 
I also went about repainting some walls and trim, and accidentally poured half a can of white paint on the carpet, which was a lovely dark shade of plum. I always thought how great it would be to get rid of our purple floors, but I knew the moment we installed beautiful new carpet, it would get trashed. As far as I know, the purple carpet lives on to this day with the new owners, for the same reason: pets and young children. I can’t imagine the adults are as bad as we were, but who knows.
The good news is that carpet can be replaced. Appliances can be repaired. One day we’ll get new furniture and update the house; maybe even one day we’ll have a clean house. In the meantime I’ve learned to forgive myself, ignore imperfections and enjoy life through the mess…and blame it on the kids and pets while I can. 

Moving, Market Swings, Remodels, and Raising Kids

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We moved into our first home a month before our son was born in 2009, at the height of the recession. We had looked at countless trashed foreclosures before lucking into that “needs work” HUD home with purple carpet. We were able to buy it dirt cheap with first-time home buyer incentives. It was on two dry acres of middle-of-nowhere prairie where the kids could drive their little electric cars (once they could reach the pedals). My sister and I rolled out a tiny patch of sod one summer so the kids could have a lawn, but they still always found mud to play in. My husband finally built us a magnificent new deck… right before we moved out of it.
It was the house where they grew from newborns into kids that read and write. It was the house where we worked and cleaned and painted and mowed. The house where we screamed and yelled and laughed and cried and played as a family. I hated the prickly weeds, how far we were from things, and how the neighbor’s dogs never stop barking, but it was our home.
 
When job changes prompted us to move after seven years, it was such a crazy mixture of excitement, sadness, and fear. I found some consolation in the fact that the couple that bought our house loved it. They had a baby boy of their own. They also had horses. We listed our house for sale on the *same day* they got out of a problematic contract with another house. I’m told that the wife said something to the effect of “everything happens for a reason…this is the one”. Our house sold in four days, over asking price, with a bidding war. The market had more than recovered from the recession at that point.
 
Even though they gave us two months of rent-back, we still ran out of time and had to settle on a house in the suburbs—not in the mountains west of Denver that we had originally wanted. It was a 1970’s trilevel, like every other house in the neighborhood, in dire need of updating. It still wasn’t cheap. We scraped popcorn ceilings, ripped up carpet, tore town unnecessary half walls, put in new floors, painted the entire thing—inside and out—and that was only half of what needed to be done. The yard was tiny, but it backed up to a big, beautiful park: our connection to country living. The kids, much bigger at that point, still played in the mud. They enjoyed the fact that there were trees to climb. We enjoyed the proximity to work, shopping and school, but it didn’t feel like home.
 
A year and a half later, we were able to move to the mountains. The market was still nuts, but our city house sold instantly and we lucked into the place we’re in now, only because we were able to see it before it was officially listed. We had made maybe 5 failed offers on other places before that; we offered on it before I even saw it. Outdated and overpriced, it doesn’t have a coat closet or a guest room. The property is steeper than we’d like, but it has amazing views and a great little barn. And most importantly, it feels like home.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from these moves, it’s flexibility. Flexibility in search criteria, including location, price, and even closet space demands. Flexibility in your timeline–even if it means living in town for a year or two. (Also, kids are way more flexible and adaptable than you might realize.) Patience, faith, and a willingness to work on the property have come in handy too. 
Just remember “everything happens for a reason,” and one day you’ll find yourself saying “this is the one”.

Unsung Heroes of the Home

In honor of moms everywhere…

 

If a mom wants to do a workout video, she’ll see that the floor needs to be vacuumed first.

If she gets the vacuum out of the closet, she’ll see that the canister needs to be emptied.

If she takes the canister to the garage to dump it in the trash, she’ll see the garage needs to be swept.

If she goes to get the broom out of the laundry room closet, she’ll see the litter box needs to be cleaned.

If she cleans the litter box, she’ll notice the washer and dryer are both full of laundry that needs to be processed.

If she processes the laundry, she’ll have to fold the dry clothes so she can put the next load in the dryer and another in the wash.

If she folds a load of laundry, she’ll have to take it to the bedroom to put it away (or at least to let it sit on top of the dresser for a week).

If she goes to the bedroom, she’ll see that she needs to pick up the kids’ toys and bring them to their rooms.

If she goes to the kids’ rooms, she’ll see that they are a complete disaster and she’ll holler at the kids to come pick up.

If she hollers at the kids to come pick up, she’ll realize it’s their lunchtime.

If she heads to the kitchen to make lunch, she’ll see all the dishes in the sink.

If she goes to do the dishes, she’ll see that the dishwasher needs to be emptied.

If she empties the dishwasher, she’ll see how badly she needs to organize the cup cabinet.

If she organizes the cabinet, she’ll need to have a beer (seriously—it’s that bad).

If she gets a beer out of the fridge, she’ll see how much the refrigerator needs to be cleaned.

If she cleans the refrigerator, she’ll have to throw away her husband’s old leftovers.

If she throws out his old leftovers, she’ll remember his laundry.

If she puts the laundry away, she’ll see her new dress and have to try it on.

If she tries on her new dress, she’ll see how wide she thinks she looks from behind.

If she sees how wide she thinks she looks from behind, she’ll want to do a workout video.

If she wants to do a workout video, she’ll need to vacuum first.

 

Thank you to all moms by birth or choice and those that bless others by acting like one.

Creating a Practical Home Office

Is your home office the dining room table? Is it anywhere you can sit down undisturbed with your laptop? If so, you might be interested in converting a room or nook into a dedicated home office. Depending on what you do for a living, there could be a tax advantage to creating this space too.

 

The first step is to pick a spot. Ideally, you want an area where you can work without too many distractions.

 

Next, make sure the spot you’ve chosen can accommodate a desk and any other furnishings you’ll need. Think about what you want within easy reach of your work area. Will you need a place for books and other papers? An extra chair for client meetings? A flipchart? A filing cabinet? Think about all of the options in advance.

 

Then, you’ll want to make sure the spot you picked has the electrical outlets you need, especially if you’re going to have a printer, special lighting, a computer and other items that need power.

 

Finally, you’ll want your home office to be a place where you can enjoy working. So decorate it with that in mind. If you like plants, get plants. If you enjoy golf, have your golf trip pictures hanging on the wall.

 

With a little work, you can quickly create a home office space that is comfortable, functional and enjoyable. It sure beats the dining room!

5 Ways to Make the Selling Process Stress-Free

For some homeowners, the process of listing, showing and selling their home can be stressful. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make it much less nerve-racking—and even exciting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to show your property, search for a new home, view listings, etc. Block out these times in an agenda book or calendar. That way, you and your family can see what’s coming up.

  1. Be flexible. Few things go exactly as planned! So, it’s important to build in flexibility. For example, you may plan to see homes for sale on Saturdays, but if an opportunity comes up on a weeknight, give yourself room in your schedule to jump on it.
  2. Eat well. There are numerous studies that connect poor nutrition with increased stress. When people are selling and moving, there’s a tendency to rely on quick fixes, such as hot dogs and pizza! Try to plan more nutritious meals that will keep everyone healthy and energized.
  3. Get stuff done early. Doing things last minute, such as finding a real estate lawyer or getting rid of clutter, can quickly lead to stress and frustration. Whenever possible, get tasks done early. That way, you won’t have to worry about them.
  4. Hire the right professionals. By far, the surest way to a stress-free move is to get the right professionals working for you: everyone from contractors to mortgage brokers to movers.

By the way, a big part of what I do for clients is help make every aspect of buying, selling and moving go smoothly. Contact me to learn how I can help you.

Spring has Sprung!

The first “official” day of spring is March 20, but temps started warming weeks ago, in the schizophrenic manner typical of Colorado. The birds will start chirping, the tulips will start poking up, and the heavy snows will fall. As most of us know, spring can bring the biggest snows. But it usually melts a moment later because, of course, the day after a big storm will be sunny and 60.

Spring is that time of year in Colorado when you have both your snow boots and your flip flops out at the same time, when you have the heat on in the morning and the A/C in the afternoon, when you can go snowshoeing in a t-shirt. It keeps you on your toes but offers endless possibilities in outdoor activities—as long as you’re willing to prepare for rapidly changing weather. Listed below are five awesome outdoor activities for spring in Colorado.

Spring can be the best possible time for skiing or snowboarding. Ideally, you can hit the slopes on a beautiful sunny spring day while simultaneously enjoying some fresh, beautiful *pow*. Here is a list of ten favorite Colorado ski resorts (Copper, Vail, Breckenridge, and the likes), complete with info on the towns and links to purchase tickets. If you want to go somewhere smaller, less crowded, and more affordable (Cooper, Wolf Creek, Echo Mountain, and 11 others), check this out.

Snowshoeing is an increasingly popular outdoor activity in Colorado, and spring is the perfect time to try it out. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and it can take you to some seldom-traveled gorgeous trails on a spring day. This article lists five great beginner snowshoeing hikes, but snowshoes.com is a great resource for new and avid snowshoers alike.

To ease those sore muscles after skiing or snowshoeing, who doesn’t love soaking in a hot tub while it snows? Even better, soaking in some natural hot springs, with all those mineral benefits and lovely scenery. Colorado has an abundance of hot springs locations. This list tells you about 30 of them.

Scenic horseback riding is yet another way to enjoy the Colorado outdoors in spring. It keeps your own feet out of the mud while your furry friend does the work. You can do anything from a few hours’ ride to an overnight trip and feel like a real cowboy. Check out horsey ideas on this page.

Finally, after the snow melts, spring wildflower hikes can be incredible, especially in the Crested Butte area, known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Closer to Denver, Roxborough and Staunton State Parks have some great trails for wildflower viewing as well, although there will be wonderful sights in any of our beautiful state parks this spring.

Just remember to pack your flip flops AND your winter parka.

Tidy Tips

Maintaining a home is a lot of work, even as a tidy adult—even a tidy, single adult. Throw in a partner and couple of kids and pets, and you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you. “This is why we can’t have nice things!” you may find yourself saying. But you can, with a little help, make your home a (relatively) clean and happy place to be. Let’s talk about chores and pet hair, and how to minimize the destruction and live harmoniously with those fur babies and non-fur babies.

To begin, buy stock in the Magic Eraser. Invest in Lysol wipes. Fill your cabinets with carpet cleaner. Have touch-up paint on the ready. And most importantly, have your kids help with chores! It will take some of the workload off you, teach them responsibility, and give them the satisfaction of making a contribution (albeit begrudgingly at times). It will also get them in the habit of general tidiness and hopefully will create less work for you in the future.

Just don’t insist on perfection, praise them throughout, and restrain yourself from jumping in and doing it for them. Kids can start helping as early as 2 years old—picking up toys and clothes, feeding pets, etc. Slightly older children can make their beds, clear and set the table, and pull weeds. My favorite was when mine started folding their own laundry at 7. They didn’t do a great job, but I was happy to let them at it anyway. Kids 8-10 years old can help with dishes and cooking and cleaning bathrooms, which is glorious. They are much more capable than you realize, so definitely let them (make them?) help! Creating a chore chart and bribing them with a little allowance can be advantageous in this endeavor too.

Of course turning chores into a game is great whenever possible. For example, you can get your human minions to clean up animal hair with a balloon: blow it up and let them rub it on their heads. The static electricity will then suck up the pet hair; kids can wipe it off in the trash and start again. Magic! Other ways to remove fur from furniture and clothing include using a damp cloth, packing tape, rubber gloves, or (duh) a lint roller. You can also throw your hair-covered clothing in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet. Naturally, brushing Fluffy will help with the hair problem too—and I highly recommend getting the Furminator. It’s a serious miracle pet brush ($15 on Amazon!), and you can have your kids brush your pets!

Other ways to help with the pet hair and dander, beyond the obvious steps of washing your pet and their bedding regularly, could involve designating the bedroom of anyone with pet allergies as a pet-free zone. (For you animal lovers, however, this might be as impossible as keeping them off your furniture. I know I still want to squish my kitty on my face even if I have a horrific sneezing fit right after.)

If you have the option of choosing your flooring, go with a low pile carpet and steam clean often. If possible, go with wood, laminate, or tile flooring; then you can just use a dryer sheet to wipe up the piles along the wall instead of vacuuming your life away. Either way, vacuuming and dusting will mitigate the flying fuzz. Here are some of the best vacuums for pet hair: http://bestreviews.com/best-pet-vacuums. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Shark because it’s cheaper than a Dyson and still great. Try to get one with a HEPA filter. On that note, you can get a whole separate air purifier to help remove pet hair and allergens from the air. A popular one on Amazon is on sale for around $200 (https://www.amazon.com/Winix-WAC9500-Ultimate-PlasmaWave-Technology/dp/B004VGIBZK), but you can find little ones as low as $30.

Unfortunately, you can’t really train your pets to help maintain your home the same way you can your children. But you CAN get the Pet Sweep. Please oh please send me a video if you do: christy.seabourne@gmail.com. Also if you are in over your head with all the messy creatures in your life and need a referral for a housecleaner or organizing expert, pet therapist or child wrangler, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or give me a call.

SPRING CLEANING

Spring means warmespring cleaningr weather, but it’s also a good excuse to assess your home. Is it in need of a good deep clean? You may feel as though there’s never enough time in the day to really get scrubbing, but this is a job that everyone in the family can help with. Whether you’ve just moved into your new home, or getting your current house ready before buying a new one, I have all the tips in the book! Feel free to contact me for resources on buying a home!

Spring Cleaning Tips For The Whole Family by Jaymi Naciri. Copyright © 2013 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved.

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HOW MUCH HOME CAN I AFFORD?

When looking for a new home, it’s important to have a reasonable budget. In order to create that budget, you have to know what range is feasible to spend on that future house. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I get this question all the time when working with mortgagebuyers. The answer to this will vary based on a few different factors, and will be heavily influenced by where you decide to settle down. Please let me know how I can help. I look forward to working with you!

Here’s How Much Salary You Need to Buy an Average US House by Beth Braverman. © 2016 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBCUniversal.

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