Rustic Box Centerpiece

photo 2

If you’re a DIY-selfer like me, and like to make your own stuff for your home when you can, here’s a good one. I made this rustic chic box, after enjoying the fun over at Shanty 2 Chic’s website.

Here’s how I made mine:

1. Go find some wood to recycle in your garage~or your neighbors. 3/4 inch by 6 inches pine thats old and weathered is best.

2. Cut the ends 5 inches wide.

3. Cut the length16 inches long.


4. Use Gorilla Glue (the super glue of all time)


5. After gluing, nail the ends on with brads (headless nails).

6. Stain with Minwax Wood Finish. I used English Chestnut #233 for this darker box. (I usually like Gunstock, its redder but still richly dark).


7. Wait for stain to totally dry. Wipe with a rag. Wrap with jute twine, or butcher’s twine. I added a bottle cap from Reed’s Ginger ale. (To get the hole, I pounded a nail through the cap).


Then find pretty bottles, vases, or whatever suits your fancy in the kitchen, bathroom, or living room decor fancy! I found antique coke bottles and filled them with pussy willows for a natural effect.





Disciplining young children with “3 Tickets”


Does your young child repeatedly get back out of bed, leave their room, refuse to go to sleep? Does your young child refuse to share with a sibling, constantly bicker or squabble with a sibling? Even hit? Do they refuse to eat the healthy food you prepare for them? Do they refuse to help clean up in a timely manner? Do you find yourself repeatedly giving the same request, or getting into power struggles with a very small person? You are not alone.

images-6I once came from the parenting philosophy “Let children unfold in their own glory, as they are naturally harmonious and cooperative young beings.” Over time, I realized kids actually need tons of, well, parenting.  With the amount of influence TV and other children/families have on our kids, our soft touch and gentle coaxing may not be enough. Most kids need lots of explicit information about our values and expectations and then they need a system of clear consequences for not cooperating.

imagesHere’s one of my favorite ideas from parenting expert John Rosemond called “The Ticket Method”:

Here’s a brief summary of the ticket method: List no more than three specific misbehaviors on an index card (e.g. throwing tantrums, refusing to obey first-time instructions, being mean to the dog). Those are the misbehaviors you are targeting for elimination. Post that list on the refrigerator. Stand your child in front of the list and go over the new system, with clarity and good cheer, explaining what happens if they “lose” all of their tickets.

Next, using a magnetic clip, clip a certain number of ticket-shaped pieces of colored construction paper to the refrigerator, above the target behavior list. The child begins every day with, say, five tickets. Every time he/she acts out one of their target behaviors, the parent vocalizes that out loud and walks dramatically to the refrigerator and removes a ticket.  Kids hate that.

Remember: the first four tickets are “free.” They are the child’s “margin of error” for any given day. When the child loses their fifth (last) ticket, they spend the remainder of the day in their room (first reduce the room’s entertainment value) and go to bed an hour early. As the child’s behavior improves, losing fewer and fewer tickets per day, reduce the margin of error gradually, but to no less than two. Or, keep the same number of tickets but add more target behaviors.

Another favorite application of the Ticket Method: When kids are bickering in the backseat of the car. Pull over, hand them each 3 tickets and tell them: “You may not argue or raise your voices for the rest of the car ride. The child who still has a ticket when we arrive at the destination, gets to go to bed at the regular time tonight. The child who has no tickets left will go to bed right after dinner.”

Tip:  Things get worse before they begin to get better. When things get worse, parents often conclude that the strategy isn’t working and the system, whatever it is, promptly collapses. As a result, the child learns how to get her parents’ goat, and the next time they try a systematic approach to the behavior problems, the child tests even more strenuously. And around and around we go. Stick with it.

Tip: Choose a small amount of specific misbehaviors, and only take tickets for those target behaviors. Or things will spin out of control fast.

images-7Tip: Be super clear with yourself and partner about exact consequences before setting this system in motion with your child. Example: no play date, or no playing outside after school, or going to bed early (my personal favorite), no screen time, etc.  Nothing messes things up worse, than parents who triangulate and fight about this stuff in front of  kids. Avoid that.

I know its hard to believe that kids thrive on this kind of clarity, this kind of authority, and this kind of discipline system. But honestly, its 10 times better than yelling, nagging, complaining, losing your cool, living in chaos, screeching and crying in front of them, or taking a lot of breaks from them because they “stress you out.” Create clarity in your home. Create a system with consequences. Then you can really “chill out.”

Ideas? Questions? Feedback? I’m eager to hear.

2 Helpful Money Ideas

My 15 yo son and I left the bank today and he said, “money stresses me out.”  I was surprised to hear my sheltered, over-indulged, under-achieving (jk) son say that. Being the therapist mother that I am I wanted to dig into that. But he couldn’t say why.
I think money just hits us all in primal place inside.  Classism is such a hugely defining aspect of our life experience. Survival hormones run rampant at times.  Like when we’re  racing around in a primal panic, because we’ve lost our wallet~or debit card. And then there is that big, fat scary bill for the auto, or the furnace that broke down, or sudden dental thingy. It just hits you in the gut.
This should help.  I’ve got 2 Top Tips that are tip top when it comes to HOW you do your money. This can really take the agony out of a sudden big bill. It is great for singles or couples.
These 2 tips have made the single most difference in our financial life, of anything we’ve ever done!
1.  Each month, pay ALL of your bills at the same time. Arrange bill/dates with companies to align with that timeframe. Super time saver. Throw every bill into a bin or drawer until then.
2. One day, set up sub-accounts at your bank. You can have as many as you want, because my banker told me that you could. Then, at that same time you’re paying your bills, transfer online from regular checking into your sub-accounts:
Auto         $100
House       $200
Vacation   $300
Dental       $50
Mom’s fun $75
Dad’s fun   $75
Savings      $500
These $numbers are just examples, of course. When your family grows, you can increase those numbers, or create a sub account for childcare, or entertainment, or pedicures. Wait, no, that comes out of your “fun” account!
When you have an auto or house expense, or head out on vacation, transfer monies out of those sub-accounts into regular checking!  Voila.
Does anyone else have a tip to share?

Easy Rituals: Keeping Your Marriage Warmer


I counsel couples all week long. Its more dynamic work than individual counseling, and more mental work, and yet I thrive on the synergy in the room during break-thrus.

That said, there are some tediously repetitive patterns to why couples feel disconnected, disappointed, frustrated, deprived. One pattern I notice almost constantly, is that married couples rarely prioritize their marriage. My sense is that people focus on their work first, then their children, then running the household/maintenance, and finally their relationship. And it doesn’t thrive being in 4rth position.

Its freaky how our culture puts “money” at the top, and everything else has to get in line for a hard-working American.

Here is a pivotal tip: arrange a “date night” that you and your partner can rely on, schedule around, and guard with your life. Over the months and years, if you’re disciplined and head out on your date, it can save your marriage, as you can “hold” a lot of grievance and emotional starvation if your mind and body know that you get exclusive access to each other~even one night a week.

Additionally, if you’re feeling slumpy and disconnected in your marriage, try a few of these rituals from John Gottman’s “Science of Marriage” work:

Partings: Don’t part in the morning without knowing one interesting thing that will happen in your partner’s day– that you can ask them about when you see them next. You can go your separate ways after a 3-second kiss~

Reunions: Reunite with a 3-second kiss, followed by a stress-reducing conversation in which each of you share your frustrations, stories, and a brief recap of what happened in your day. Remember, this is a time for you and your partner to engage in active listening. Rule: Avoid interrupting, giving advice or fixing your partner’s stuff.
Spend 20 minutes a day upon reunions~


Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way every day to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation toward your partner.
Dedicate 2 minutes a day

Affection: Kiss, hold, stroke, pet, sit close. Hold hands. Play together. Go to bed at the same time, and work in a  kiss before going to sleep.

Love Maps: Do you know what a love map is? Its knowing all kinds of details about what your partner enjoys, whats comforting to them, whats special for them

There is no GOOD reason to not make your relationship a priority. Every bit of mutual effort comes back to bring greater connection, health, and meaning. Have a great date this weekend!