The Basics of Design With Tessa Allen

On the podcast this week, special guest Tessa Allen shares some design tips and a little about her background in interior design. It’s encouraging to listen to her perspective because she doesn’t come from an attitude of “having it all together” or “knowing it all.”

It’s okay to copy color

In Tessa’s home, the color flows from room to room. It’s cohesive, calm, and comforting. What’s amazing about the color? She copied. The ideas/tones/color palettes came from looking at other people’s homes. She picked her mindful gray (Sherwin Williams) and navy from friends’ homes and a model home.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s okay to copy. This isn’t a third-grade spelling test — it is your home. If you feel comfortable with a color in someone else’s home, try using it in yours!

Don’t follow a trend you don’t like

On the podcast, I share a story about a blue couch. I bought a blue couch with those tufted pillows attached to the back because it was a trend. Neighbors and friends were putting this style of couch in their homes, so I followed suit.

Guess what? I didn’t like it. I bought it because I wanted to follow a trend. I put that couch in my basement family room hoping the kids would jump on it, spill stuff on it, and it would need to be replaced. They did all of the above, but I didn’t get to replace the couch right away. Instead, I had to live with the stained couch for quite a while until I passed it on to my younger brother.

The lesson? Don’t buy something you don’t LOVE just because it’s trendy.

If you love a Trendy Idea, use it in Moderation

I have a wall of shiplap in my family room. I love it. The truth is, the shiplap wall was birthed out of a need to cover some holes — big holes that meant the wall needed to be replaced or covered. I chose shiplap, and I love it.

I also love bright colors. Sometimes they are the trend, sometimes not. Although I learned the hard way not to cover the walls of my house with them, I still have lots of accents of color that can easily be changed. If you see a new trend such as the popular navy or blush, try doing an accent wall, or a paint a piece of furniture that can be changed with little effort.

Shop for Used furniture

Let’s face it: We don’t all have unlimited funds to purchase furniture and wall art. I can’t tell you how many times I see a piece and tell my husband, “It’s all in the details,” as if he will jump on board for my purchase. The truth is, he doesn’t really care about the details until he sees it all together. It’s just a personality trait, not a fault. He often doesn’t mind my logic or my latest purchase at Hobby Lobby of a coffee mug to display on the coffee bar — if there is money set aside for it.

If there is no money, there is no money. If there is a bit of money, then consignment stores are the way to go! Consignment, second-hand stores, and yard sales all have treasures waiting to be found! You just have to go find them. Just don’t go hog wild without Tessa’s next point in mind.

Know your color Palette before you purchase

Tessa suggests carrying your paint swatch in your purse when shopping for decor. Brandi Panson mentioned this on last week’s podcast (and article). “Begin with the end in mind” is the way she phrased it. If you have no color palette, no end in mind, no style in mind, you will buy whatever appeals to you (raising my hand) and waste money. It doesn’t save you any money to buy all kinds of knick-knacks and decor unless they fit your home’s style and color palette.

They don’t make it like they used to

My parents used to say “they don’t make them like they used to.” I thought it was weird, then. What’s weirder is I say it myself now. I have wanted a yellow chair for years because yellow is my favorite yellow! I’ve looked at ones at IKEA for many years, but I just couldn’t plunk the money down to get a yellow chair that doesn’t fit my style.

So I waited. This past Christmas season, my sister Anne found a vintage yellow chair in a local shop, The Looking Glass. She sent me a photo. As soon as I opened the message, I knew that chair was yelling my name! “Kathleen! Kathleen! Kathleen!” I immediately contacted the owner of the shop and asked her if it was available. She said yes, but she could only hold it one day.

I texted hubby: I found my Christmas present. I waited a few minutes and shot him this text: We have to pick it up tomorrow, and we need the truck. A few minutes later: It’s this much $$$$. He got a laugh out of it, and I got a vintage yellow chair that I love… which leads me another one of Tessa’s points:

It’s okay to wait

We have been conditioned by HGTV to think that a whole house can/should be done in a weekend or a matter of months. That’s not realistic in many scenarios and not always the best idea. When you move into a home, it’s important to see how your family functions in that space. It’s also important to figure out what style you want to see. This takes time.

And with a limited budget, often we have to design in the most cost-effective ways. That may mean stripping wallpaper off the dining room walls is the first design step. It may also mean that sectional you want for the family room will have to be on the back burner for a while, even if you are shopping second hand. That’s okay. It is more important to be content with what you have then to have everything look perfect.

If you are struggling with this concept, I hear you. I struggle to. For years I made my home an idol. You can that my story here.

Make your home fit your family

I think we alluded to this on last week’s podcast, but it’s worth repeating. You may be looking at all the photos of homes from our social media this month and thinking, “That’s just not me. I don’t like any of that.”

If so, that’s okay. The point isn’t to pattern your home after someone else’s (unless you want to) — the point is to make your home fit your family. Your home should be unique. It should speak your name, not mine. My family affectionately calls our home “The Guire Shire” (we’re huge Lord of the Rings Fans). Maybe you could try naming your home, too.

Whatever you do, make your home fit your family, then invite me over for a cup of coffee.

Tessa and her daughters

Hi, I’m Tessa.  Daughter of the King, wife of Jess, mother to Lexie & Alivia.  I love to laugh and have fun (not the wild and crazy kind of fun, just simple fun).  I also love music! I play piano, teach piano lessons, and accompany local choirs and soloists. I love teaching, whether it’s piano lessons, general music class, or teaching my girls something new.  I also love to learn.

Interior design has always been something that I have enjoyed.  As a freshman in college, I took an intro to Interior Design class and really liked it.  While I was working on my music education degree, design was always in the back of my mind.  So, once I completed my music degree, I stuck around and got an interior design degree 😊  

I used my design degree for a few years once I graduated, although it didn’t really look like what I had envisioned while in school.  Throughout the years, I have always loved putting my house together, choosing colors, figuring out where things go, discovering new items I want, and deciding how to put it all together.  Since we have moved four times, I’ve gotten to do that a lot!

For me, design and having people feel comfortable in my home is important.  If it brings peace to my soul and my family and friends feel at home, then I consider it a success.  

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Basics of Motherhood – You don’t need to fix your child.

This week on the podcast, Amerey and Kathleen finished up the Back to Basics Series with Basics of Motherhood.

Are you a mother?
Do you often feel isolated or alone?
Do you feel as if you need to “fix” your child so they are like everyone else?
Do you have doubts, struggles and wonder if other mothers have the same issues?
Then this is for you!

You don’t need to fix the child.

On the The Whole House Podcast  this week, Amerey and Kathleen talk about a lie that mothers often believe. What is that lie?
That your child needs fixed. From the time our child is an infant we encounter people who tell us:

The child isn’t sleeping – fix it.
The child needs to be rocked to sleep – fix it.
The child is not reading by the time they are 4 -fix it.

It’s a never ending list.
While there are guidelines and stepping stones of development, your child doesn’t need pushed through them. God made her the way she is. Your job as a parent is to meet her where she is, not to fix her.

Your child can’t be wrong in her makeup. She is born a certain way. You can’t say that a baby’s sleeping/eating/coping patterns are wrong. You don’t need to fix the child. Don’t stress yourself. Don’t say, “Her child is right and my child is wrong.”

If you just accept your child as she is then you will feel free. You will be free to parent the child the way she needs parenting.

Don't believe the lie that your child needs fixed

You have probably already found things that work for your child.

Don’t feel guilty for doing those things. Don’t look at other parents and measure yourself against their yardstick.  You’re not failing just because you aren’t parenting like another mother is. You are doing exactly what your child needs right now. That’s good parenting.

 You are doing a great job! Go YOU! Your job is to make them feel safe, secure, and cared for. If a child has a capital letter syndrome, then we make special accommodations for her (or we should).

Even if a kiddo doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, we should parent her in the way she needs parenting. Cecilia is Amerey’s little one who has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, but at age five, she uses a weighted blanket and needs melatonin to sleep.

Adults are picky. Why can’t kids be picky?

Our culture expects kids to conform to whatever we tell them to do. Kids are humans. Each child has a personality. They will have likes and dislikes just like adults. It’s okay. Don’t force your kiddo to like something because you think she should. It will backfire. Don’t try to shove a square peg in a round hole.

Eating Issues.

You want your child to feel comfortable at the table. So, if she doesn’t like what is always being served, don’t make it about the food. Make it about nutrition and relationship. Family dinners should be about connection.

Do unto other’s as you would like to be done unto you.

Listen to your kiddo when she is expressing a need, fear, like or dislike. That’s what adults want. Kids want the same thing. Think of your child as a person.

Motherhood is steeped in whatever is going on in the current culture.

When you’re born, whatever your culture is doing, we naturally do it. That is dangerous.

We have a family culture. A church culture. A culture.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why are we parenting this way?

What is my purpose as a mother?

What are my morals and values? What are my morals?

Am I living out those values.

Pause. Examine yourself. We should be laying up our treasures in heaven. Do we want to not invest in our children so when they grow up they are floundering. They are asking – is this the right religion? Is this the right religion?

Find a Group of Moms who support you.

You can feel isolated. You can feel like a lone wolf.  Then you isolate and the then hyper focus especially if you are a perfectionist.

Moms tend not to talk about the things they really struggle with. They tell poop stories and other things, but are often afraid to tell the truth about the struggles they are going through.

 You need to reach out to other Moms and find some who are going through similar situations.

Walk away from groups/friends that don’t encourage, equip and educate you! Friends who support your on your journey and don’t judge your child or want you to fix her are the kind to keep around.

Keep in mind your mission is to raise up a well-balanced child. Your mission is NOT to create a carbon copy of everyone else. Parenting a child as if she is “right” not “wrong” will help her navigate life with confidence. The end goal is heaven and a “Well done good and faithful servant” from God, not an “Atta boy” from the world.

Want the rest of the story? Listen to the podcast!

 

 

 

Nutrition has Been Thrown out the Window! How can we get it back?

We’re doing a Back to Basics Series here on The Whole House. This week we’re focusing on brain development. If you missed the beginning of the series start here.

What does food have to do with brain development? Everything. You’ve heard the old saying, “You are what you eat?” That’s not just for grownups. As teens and children, we are told we have a fast metabolism and we can eat anything. But, should we?

Should you be concerned about what your kids are eating? Or should you just wait until they are old enough to know better?

The value of good nutrition.

“When you child eats regular, balanced meals and snacks, blood sugar levels remain constant and steady. This boosts learning and stabilizes moods. When we cheat ourselves out of meals, however, we’re also reducing our brainpower. Skipping breakfast or snacking on sugary sodas and sweets are just some of the ways that our daily habits can undermine healthy brain functioning.” –The Connected Child

Good nutrition isn’t just counting calories. When my newbies came home through adoption, they had health issues, including rotten teeth and malnutrition. The dentist informed me the rotten teeth were a result of the malnutrition. My kids hadn’t had access to sugary sodas or candy. The kind of calories my kiddos needed were specific and intentional. They needed protein and complex carbohydrates to grow their bodies and their brains. All kids do.

Deficiencies go hand in hand with a variety of health and behavioral problems. ADHD and diabetes have been linked to a shortage of magnesium. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, maybe you are in the same boat, but you want your child to have optimal health and brain function. My advice? Do some research. That’s what I did when my kiddos come home. Don’t take my word for it.

My youngest son, who is on the spectrum ate gluten-free for years because it “calmed his inner hulk” (his words). Children who have health and behavioral problems may need more vitamins and minerals in the form of a supplement. It’s not a cure, just support. It may be the difference between their inner hulk raging all the time and just making appearances.

“A growing and compelling body of research suggests that nutritional supplementation is extremely beneficial for at-risk populations. In one study at a Canadian hospital, two boys with explosive rage and volatile moods showed dramatic improvement – without lithium or other traditional psychpharmacolic agents – when they took a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. When taken off the nutritional supplement, their rage returned, but once the supplementation was restored, their behavior improved again.” – The Connected Child

Maybe your child is neurotypical.  Maybe he doesn’t have any capital letter syndromes or behavior issues. Should you be concerned about his nutrition? YES!

Eight years ago, I watched a Teresa Tapp seminar about health and nutrition. She said something that haunts me to this day. If we don’t change our eating and exercise habits, then this generation will have more serious health issues in their thirties and forties as opposed to their seventies and eighties our grandparents did. I’m serious paraphrasing here, but she said if we don’t start eating God-made (closest to their natural form) foods and moving, our kids could end up in nursing homes in their forties. YIKES! We don’t want that._The food your child eats becomes the building blocks of his or her brain chemistry._

Throw out the myth that because our kiddos have fast metabolisms, they can eat anything and everything. Food is fuel. Food is medicine. We must fuel our kiddos’ bodies with what will grow healthy brains. What they are eating now is building their future body, brain, and immune system.

“The food your child eats becomes the building blocks of his or her brain chemistry.” – The Connected Child

Just a few tips from The Connected Child to end on. You may already have a handle on this, if so, GO YOU! Maybe you just need a restart, some reminders to get you back on track. I need those often!

  • Make sure your kiddos drink lots of water! Dehydration cause mental (cognitive) function to deteriorate. (I notice this in myself. If I have been working at my desk for hours, I start craving coffee and sweets. I get a quart of lemon water instead and feel fresh and ready to go!)
  • Avoid deep-fried foods. They make the brain sluggish.
  • Use yogurt as a healthful snack.  The live cultures improve digestions and intestinal health. The intestines help produce serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter. Get the whole fat kind with lower sugar content. Kids need good fats! Don’t do fat-free! Use probiotic supplements for kiddos who can’t do dairy!
  • Keep a food dairy. I love this suggestion. Sometimes we don’t know what the food offender is until we take the time to write down reactions.

Get your kiddos eating as many God-made foods as can and go you! Every time you get nutrition and water in your kiddos, you are enabling better brain function. You’re building strong bodies and immune systems for a long and healthy life.

 

 

Have the Basics of Brain Development Been Left Behind?

We don’t often think about brain development in our children. Often we just follow the right steps and our kiddo’s brains develop. Until. Something. Is. Off.

I know. With my first child, I had some brain science under my belt from my education degree. I had a skeletal view of the developmental steps she should go through, but that’s as much as I thought about it. Maybe you’re like me. You’re doing some great things to improve your baby’s brain function. If so, think of this as a cheerleading session. I’m cheering you on! Great job! Maybe you are practicing some of these principles to grow you child’s brain and you are tired of doing the right thing. Maybe you are growing weary. Let me encourage you.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6: 9

The truth is most of the hard work you do to grow your child’s brain, no one sees. Not right now anyway. When you keep practicing the principles that grow your child’s brain, it will grow. You can’t open their brains and check it. Just as when you plant a seed in the ground, you water and wait. You don’t dig up the seed every few days and see if it sprouted. You wait and one day, it pushes a tiny green sprout through the soil. Your kiddos will follow suit. One day, your toddler will sign “more.” One day you child will regulate and use her words. One day, your five year old will recognize her need for a snack. This glimpses of brain growth will happen in bits and spurts. You can’t grow a tree in day, neither can you expect your kiddos brain to mature after a few practiced principles.

While genetics play a role in a developing brain in a newborn, scientists now know that relationships and experience shape the brain.

  When an infant is  born he has 100 billion neurons just waiting to connect. They are like loose wires flailing around waiting to connect. Think of your middle school science class and the electricity board, you have a light, a battery and a switch. You have to connect all three with wire. Then you flip the switch. You are the wire. Your babies brain already has the light and switch, just waiting to turn on. How do you connect the wires?

 Relationship grows the brain. 

This is one of the most important parts of brain growth. Relationship has the power to grow the brain. Interactions make the connections. This is why it is so important to engage with your child starting at infancy. The more you interact with your infant in positive ways, the more you grow the brain.

Here are some easy ways to grow an infants brain:

Baby wearing.

Singing to baby.

Comforting.

Soothing voice of mother.

Being on the shoulder of daddy.

Mother holding baby and gazing into her eyes.

Reading to your infant (you can start in utero).

Singing with and to your infant.

Playing music.

“A well-tended child is fed, cradled, and soothed when she cries from hunger or crankiness. This scene plays out hundreds of times in the first month of life alone. Through this exchange, the baby learns to trust that her needs will be met and that she can rely on people.” – The Connected Child

Repeated experiences also grow the brain.

Whatever the experiences are, that is where the brain will grow. If it is fearful, then the downstairs will grow (more on upstairs and downstairs brain here). If a child is soothed and learns how to talk things through and sort out feelings, the upstairs brain will grow.

This is the Hebbian Principle: What fires together, wires together.

An infant who is fed when hungry  regularly expects to be fed every time she is. She develops the belief that her needs will be met.

An infant who is soothed when upset develops the belief that her voice will be heard. She is on her way to healthy emotional intelligence.

An infant who is smiled at, laughed with, spoken to, read to, and sung to (no matter how off key) believes that she is important. She is developing social skills.

The basics of brain development are so basic, they usually come naturally. Maybe they come naturally to you. Think of this post as a booster shot. You are already doing all the right things to enable your infants brain to keep growing -Go YOU!

Want to learn more about this subject? Listen to our latest Podcast, “Baby Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Your Child’s Memories: Why Retell and Read Aloud

When my four of my children came “home” through adoption, we began to build memories together. Actually when we lived in the orphanage for a month, we began the memory building then. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time scientifically. I just practiced what I had done with the original three Guires which was lots of retelling. LOTS. I suppose it was a practice instituted by my mother who didn’t accept monosyllable answers to questions and read aloud to us (even as teens) on long road trips. I can’t take credit for what she did or that I carried it on to my children. It was part of my nurture. If someone in the family asked how the day went, she/he expected an answer with lots of words. Turns out, my parents were building my memory and emotional intelligence.

What is retelling?

Some call it narration. It’s when a child tells back to you either something they read or something that happened. This helps the child process the event or portion read and helps solidify the information in their brain. A young child or toddler may need lots of prompting or reassurances in the retelling. It’s also an opportunity to help the child put the event or story in place in their mind.

“You fell. That was scary. Are you okay now? Do you have a band-aid on now?”

“The car stopped pretty fast. You are right. It felt super scary.”

“Tell me what happened in the story. What happened to _____? Do you think he was happy or sad?”

 

” …children whose parents talk with them about their experiences tend to have better access to memories of those experiences. Parents who speak with their children about their feelings have children who develop emotional intelligence and can understand their own and other people’s feelings more fully.- The Whole-Brain Child

I naturally carried out the practice to the point where my children sometimes acted out their retelling and demanded I watch. Audrey once fell down some concrete stairs at the library after story-time and reenacted the fall for me as she told me how she fell. She was four years old. Audrey is a word lover, admittedly, probably due to her nurture and nature.

I quickly found out that my newbies, “home” from Poland, needed lots of extra help and cues in retelling and had difficulty remembering many of their experiences before becoming Guires. Part of the issue was obviously the language barrier. I began reading aloud to the new Guires in the orphanage before I grasped the science behind it.

We learn the language from hearing the language.

Our new four year old didn’t speak English and the Guire family spoke some rudimentary phrases in Polish with a great deal of assistance from our interpreter. She was being introduced to English one letter at a time and through listening to the read aloud. In the evenings, we did round two of read alouds with all the children. Gregory’s favorite was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, we listened to it over until he began to repeat phrases.

Reading aloud is a great way to learn a new language, but it is also how we learn our native language. We learn a turn of a phrase, context, vocabulary and all through hearing the written word.  Reading aloud activates the brain.

 

“Children whose parents reported more reading at home and more books in the home showed significantly greater activation of brain areas in a region of the left hemisphere called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This brain area is “a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” said the lead author, Dr. John S. Hutton, a clinical research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.” –www.blackenterprise.com

The brain is being activated in the left hemisphere, it is logical, literal (it likes words), and linear (it puts things in sequence and order) ( Read The Whole-Brain Child for more info on this).

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When a child hears more sophisticated language than he can speak, it stimulates the left hemisphere of the brain. His vocabulary grows. The more he hears, the more he knows.

“Since children acquire language primarily through the ear, the words they hear are central to their ability to understand and use words in speech and create meaning from words in print. If children don’t regularly hear new words in new contexts, they will not be able to add them to their mental storehouse of words. Moreover, children will be limited in their abilities to read and write based on the number of words and language structures they have in their minds (Orr 2000). “-www.education.com

Why read aloud? To grow the left hemisphere of the brain, increases vocabulary,  inables one to learn words in context, broadens verbal abilities and most of all,  helps you connect with your child (which also grows the brain, but that’s another post). So, grab a book, a comfy spot and read! Why allow or encourage kiddos to retell an event one hundred times? You are helping your child build memories and gain emotional intelligence.