September 27, 2010

Meet Reed, Thank You Austin, Forgive Me Blogosphere.

After 41 weeks of waiting and growing giant-sized with a grand finish of enormous stretch marks, I now have a son who toots on me daily. I couldn't love him more. His name is Reed Austin and he is the single reason I haven't written in say...oh, a lot of weeks.

I haven't done anything as insane as become a mother since I married. After marrying my husband (who I am convinced is mostly saint) I was in shock for six months. The single life I'd known was gone. For the first time I was accountable to someone other than myself. It freaked me out. Some panic attacks followed while my saintly husband patiently waited it out. Then, things got good. Then, they got great. Six years later we have a son.

Our house is now filled with baby noises. We have a jungle gym in the living room along with a car seat. A squirmy, warm body with big beautiful eyes toots on me at every feeding. And I'm exhausted. Sometimes I shower and sometimes I don't. Sometimes we bathe him and sometimes we don't. Life is now taken in moments, day by day because we're never really sure what it will hold. For me that's probably the best part. The surprise of a new day when, after an exhausting evening of little sleep, I wake up and my son is doing something new. Grabbing a toy, looking more alert, growing every day. Honestly, this is the best journey I've ever been on.

Saturday was my sixth wedding anniversary. Thanks to toots-a-lot I didn't get hubby more than a kiss and hug. So I'd like to take a moment to thank the man I love. Austin, you're the best husband and father I could ask for. Remember, "grow old with me, the best is yet to be."

After weeks of sabbatical, I hope (fingers crossed) to be a more diligent blogger. Again, remember the "day by day" thing. Reed and I will do the best we can.

August 6, 2010

Start Up Advice from a Pro, Sew Crafty's Sarah Gabbart

It takes some nerve (some might say stupidity) to walk in to a business owner's establishment to conduct an interview without any prior experience. Nonetheless, this is exactly what I did today. Being 39 weeks pregnant, I blame it on hormones and the raging Houston heat.

While sitting with Sew Crafty's owner, Sarah, for our informal interview I took note of the cheeriness of the joint. Bright colors, smiling faces and fun grown-up toys surrounded us. These "toys" consisted of crafting tools, glue guns, fabric and thread- all the makings of the business' mission: to bring a fun crafting environment to the Houston Heights and beyond.

There were a few things I wanted to know. Why did Sarah start Sew Crafty and how did she coordinate the funding and the nerve to risk.

After chatting a bit about various topics, we got down to the nitty gritty. When asked whether she wanted to puke starting her own business, Sarah jested, "my mom always says I have more courage than sense." She and I agreed having courage and a capability for decisiveness were probably good strengths for an entrepreneur and small business owner.

Starting Sew Crafty became a passion pursuit for Sarah as she traded her penchant for for crafting blogs. After being a life long DIYer, crafter and attending the Parsons Art School in NYC, Sarah returned to Houston to finish her degree at St. Thomas University in communications. After graduation, she worked in PR at the Natural Museum of Science, as an operations manager for Alexandra Knight (a local hand bag designer) and as a copy writer for David Weekly. Although she found it difficult to leave a comfortable position at David Weekly, it was time to make her dream of building a crafting lounge come true.

So, how did she fund her passion project? She recommends starting with a very strong business plan. The next step is to pitch your plan to banks and/or investors. These days banks are much tighter with lending and she recommends making loan inquiries through the Small Business Administration where minority and women run businesses are of particular interest. Starting her business, she and her husband were able to limit their debt and save in order to put their money where their mouth is. They expected to turn a profit in 2-3 years and recommend having enough saved to weather the storm and run as lean as you can. "The hardest thing about running your business is you never really know how you are doing. Sure, there are sales and employee retention numbers but you always know there's something you're not doing."
As advice for upcoming or new business owners Sarah says this: "Take the plunge and be decisive" and "Be quick to admit your weaknesses then seek answers, resources and address the problem quickly."

Sarah finds having a realistic and relaxed view point of herself helpful. To her, it's more important to admit when she doesn't know the answer than to fake it 'till you make it. She finds the most joy in her business when she reads a good review or hears something positive said of her business. Also, she loves making people happy.

Her willingness to make the customer happy is evident in the classes Sew Crafty offers, in the cheerfulness of the lounge itself and its retail. As a two time class member (sewing boot camp and Amy Butler birdie sling), I highly recommend experiencing this unique crafting lounge for yourself. Be sure to check out Sew Crafty's Web site and blog for future offerings including crafting kits for out-of-towners who can't attend classes and starter kits for class members.

August 5, 2010

Houston's Restaurant Week

"Do you eat to live or live to eat?" was the question posed from my grandaddy to my newly chubby Uncle Mike. As the family story goes, Mike didn't really appreciate grandaddy's interest in his weight and huffed off, annoyed.

Regardless of poor Uncle Mike's feelings, the question is valid. And, here's my answer: Both! Food is sustenance but it's also entertainment, fun, fulfilling. All great reasons to get involved with this year's Houston Restaurant Week. Wait, but there's more!!

When asked why I'm participating in Houston's Restaurant Week my answer will be "to donate money to the Houston Food Bank, of course." But my tummy knows different. The donation is icing on a beautifully gourmet cake from places like Mark's, Ibiza, Feast and Catalan, restaurants offering pre-selected menus at reduced prices through August 21.

Most of the restaurants on the distinguished list offer both lunch and dinner. At lunch, for $25 per person, you'll choose one dish from three pre-selected courses. Then, $3 of your meal goes to the food bank. Similarly, dinner will cost $35 and $5 of your meal goes to the food bank. What better way to feed the hungry than to feed yourself? Everybody wins! (I'm only half kidding.)

Seriously though, the opportunity to assist a very worthy non-profit organization and enjoy a special meal at a reduced price is something worth checking out. So do it!

Check out restaurants serving it up to help the hungry here.

July 19, 2010

Vindicated! It's about TIME.

Living life as an only child is, at times, similar to being born blind and blamed for it. People anticipate you're a brat because your parents didn't spit out a few extra siblings to "round out" your personality. I've lived with the only child label for thirty years and only recently feel vindicated.

According to The Only Child: Debunking the Myths article in the July 19, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine, more American families are choosing the method of one and done. Citing reasons from financials to women bearing children at more advanced ages, only children are born and raised at a rate of 1 in 5 today, almost doubling the number of only children in America since the 1960's.

The perception of the only child as spoiled and selfish began 120 years ago thanks to the work of Granville Stanley Hall, deemed history's first child psychologist. After conducting a famous study in 1896, he concluded that only children were ill-equipt to adjust to life because they lacked siblings. And, ever since his study was conducted and research published, we only children have suffered the label of "spoiled, selfish, solitary misfits".

Apparently, most of society forgets the part where only children are forced with greater pressure to make friends and adjust in social situations. We don't have the sibling to lean on at a party or day care. Instead, we must learn early on how to adapt and make friends. Also, most folks don't realize that only children (at least the ones like me) play by themselves a lot. As a result, we tend to be independent and free thinking. Not bad characteristics if you ask me.

Perhaps this article is not the most unbiased. The author is an only child herself raising a daughter who she thinks will be an only child as well. But, in spite of possible bias, the author also knows the only child scene like only an only would.

The link to the article is included above. Check it out for yourself and make decisions based on what's best for your family. Onlies can be cool, raised in the right environment, just as kids with siblings can become great when brought up with good values. My two cents are this: It's not the number you have, it's the way you teach them.