Thanks for the guest post from my Aunt Diane! One of my memories from when I was a young parent was when I took our son Dean to DisneyWorld.  We stayed at one of the nicer villas in Orlando on that vacation, thanks to the generosity of my parents, and we had a great time!He was only four years old at the time, and he was thrilled and fascinated with DisneyWorld!  That was back in the day when video cameras were really large and heavy, and we ended up renting a stroller just to carry the video camera that we brought with us!  Sadly, my hubby wanted the very first attraction to be the Pirates of the Caribbean, which scared little Dean to no end, and he screamed and cried almost the whole time we were on that ride.  That almost soured the entire trip because whenever we entered a dark room he started to scream.  It got to the point that whenever we went into a building I’d have to put my hand over his mouth to keep him from screaming.  Eventually he would grab my hand and put it over his mouth by himself!  (What must have the other parents thought of us?) Anyway, he LOVED Cinderella’s Carousel ride, and Dumbo’s flight, and the spinning tea cups.  He loved the Dumbo movie and wanted to ride Dumbo over and over and over again! We went to a character breakfast that was held on a big steamboat in the Disney Village, and that was one of the greatest highlights.  Different characters came to our table to visit with us, and Dean enjoyed himself thoroughly getting their autographs in our autograph souvenir book that we bought.  We sat next to a middle aged couple from Spain that were enjoying themselves immensely watching us.  Before the breakfast was over they tried to start up a conversation with us (which was difficult because they only spoke Spanish and my high school Spanish was very limited and rusty!) But we came to understand that they were in Florida staying in the same villas in Florida that we were! They were on a convention business trip and had to leave their children behind in Spain.  They asked if we would allow their photograph to be taken with Dean for them to take as a souvenier.  We exchanged addresses and became pen pals for a short while – they wrote in Spanish, which I translated using my Spanish-English dictionary (this was before the Internet was invented!) and I wrote back in English, which their son translated for them.  We came to understand that the husband was diagnosed with cancer and he invited us to come and spend a month with them in one of their villas in Spain.  He said that they spent two months every summer taking holidays and would love for us to come join them.  That would be a dream trip for us!  Sadly our budget would not allow for that, but we kept writing for a couple of years.  The last letter that I got from him informed us that his health was faltering and although I replied I never heard from them again.  That, my dear, is a bittersweet memory.
My gal and I have such different tastes when it comes to our television viewing pleasure(s) which is why we usually end up in different rooms in the house after dinner is done and over with, each with our own computer and our own TV ready and waiting for us. We have tried and tried and this has been the only solution that works for us both. I am like most men in the fact that I have to be in charge of the remote control, along with that responsibility comes the constant channel surfing that is necessary to keep up with what is on and what is coming on. Where as she finds a channel turns it on and it usually stays there for most of the remaining time that she is in that room. She watches MTV, VH1, A&E, Bravo, The Animal Planet and The Comedy Channel and lately she has been tuning in to the many new shows that she has discovered on TLC, like Sister Wives, DC Cupcakes, Cake Boss and now she is totally into one of their newest programs “Four Weddings” which is where they have 4 different brides competing for a first class honeymoon. These four women attend the other’s weddings and rank them for points. You can see and hear the nastiness that these women have for each other, while trying to be nice to each other for a chance to improve their own scores with each other. Interesting to hear all of the snide and tacky comments being passed around the tables about the cheap bridesmaid dresses or the bashing of say the wedding invitations or the music selection, the flowers, the church, the food, the weather, the flower girls, they just go on and on and totally pick each other apart, but ever so nicely you understand and never to each other’s face, I mean this is going to be aired on National TV.  Apparently this isn’t the only show that is on these days about weddings, what gives here guys? Anyway, give me the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, SyFy, USA. BBC, FOX, of course any of the Sport Channels and the one channel that we both agree on – The Comedy Channel. I hate to admit it but South Park is still way up high on my list of all time favorites, but I’d be well to bet that it is very, very low on hers, along with soap opera’s, sports and and anything that has to do with any type of Thriller/Horror show/movie, that much we still have in common these days.
Being involved in real estate, I understand the importance of curb appeal.  If the exterior of a house looks shabby and neglected, potential buyers will not be interested in going inside to look and see if the house meets their needs.  There have been several times over the past few years when I’ve had clients decide to not even get out of the car when going to show them a house that does not have good curb appeal. One way to enhance curb appeal is with a nice looking mailbox.  Dented mail boxes simply look shabby.  Prospective house buyers can easily assume that the appearance of the Mailboxes reflect how much pride the seller has been taking in the upkeep of the house in general. I’ve heard people say that you should always keep the foyer to a house clean and neat because it gives a first impression of the cleanliness of the rest of the house.  Similarly, a nice looking exterior of the house will make a good first impression as well.
DIY free clip art

DIY free clip art

Teri and I have always enjoyed watching the HGTV and DIY television network shows. Our favorites usually involve a situation where an experienced interior designer takes on a project where they are going to remodel and update part of a home. Some of our favorite shows from recent past years include “Design on a Dime” and “Decorating Cents” because the designers are always sticking to a very limited budget. We can relate to having a limited budget! We would love to have the money to spend tens of thousands of dollars redecorating and remodeling, but the reality is that we are trying to stretch every dollar and pinch every penny just as much as most everyone else in the country is doing! We’ve entered all kinds of contests we’ve seen online, on TV shows, and in magazines where the big winner gets a remodel of part of their home done as the grand prize. So far, we’ve won absolutely no prizes! So, we are doing the best we can with remodeling and redecorating ourselves a little bit here and there, when we have the money and the time. Sure wish we had the money to pay a pro to help us out! We recently replaced the wall-to-wall carpeting in our living and dining room with wood laminate flooring. When we finished doing that we realized that the brand new floor made our walls look very dingy, so now we are looking at our options for updating the walls. We can’t quite decide whether to paint (which is what I’d rather do) or hang wall-paper (which is what Teri would prefer.) She has brought home several books of samples of wall paper with texture that she is really excited about. In the spirit of compromise, I suggested that we use the textured wall paper as one accent wall behind the TV in the living room, and I have the feeling that she will go along with that idea. In addition to the walls in the living room, Teri and I have been talking about reorganizing and redesigning the closets in the foyer, the laundry room, and our bedrooms. We live in an area where there are four different seasons; we just do not have enough closet space to accommodate all of the clothes and coats for the changing of the seasons! We’d love to figure out a better way to maximize the space that we have to store our coats, clothes, boots, and shoes! Right now we have our hats and scarves in cardboard boxes on the top shelf of the foyer closet – there really must be a better way to store these in a way that keeps them clean, easy to see, and access! We will be researching the best ways to maximize those valuable storage spaces. There are so many different options and organizing gadgets and gizmos for closet storage that it is enough to make your head spin!