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2019. the year that i go back to trusting my gut...

Oh Joy!

Happy New Year! We're back after some time off spent with loved ones. In the past New Year's, I've written goal posts for the year, mantras, and things to improve upon. This year, while everyone was recapping their past year in Instagram highlights (and I loved seeing others' posts), I felt ready to move on and into 2019. Last year was a hard year for me. On the outside, everything seemed amazing. But, on the inside, I was questioning myself more than ever. I was doing all the things that I often tell others not to do, "Don't worry about what other people think", "Don't overcommit yourself", "Don't do the things you don't want to do!". And here I was overcommitting myself, doing some things I didn't want to do, and worrying about what other people thought. 

As the year progressed, things got better, and I turned a corner. I felt less pressure to be someone or something I assumed everyone thought I should be, and I just got back to feeling great about being me and TRUSTING MY GUT. I posted on Instagram the other day, that my key words for the year are to bring SURPRISE and DELIGHT into my work and my day. But, more deeply, I also am ready to get back into just going with my instincts as I know I can do and have done in the past.

So, here we go, 2019...I'm ready for you. And I'm ready to keep taking you guys along for the ride with me and my team!

{Photo by Lily Glass}

How to Stay Married (and Keep Your Sanity) While Building a House!

Oh Joy / How to Stay Married While Building a House!

When people find out that we're building a house, they always joke, "So, how's your marriage going?" Oftentimes, people say that when you do a large renovation or home project together, it takes a real toll on your relationship. Honestly, the process of building a house has made me the most stressed than I have probably ever been in my entire adult life...yet my marriage has never been better. I know, how annoying that I can say that, right? In contrast to how giant projects like these can be hard on a relationship, I think it's actually this process that has made my husband, Bob, and I communicate even more than we normally do and work through things because we HAVE TO for the sake of meeting deadlines. The urgency to communicate about our future kitchen's layout or where our outlets need to go has also led to more communication between us in general. So, today I am sharing our tips for How to Stay Married (and Keep Your Sanity) While Building a House (or during a major home project)...

1. Decide jointly upfront what's most important to you. Are you most concerned with form and style, function, budget, timeline? At some point, any one (or all) of those things will be called into question by you or someone who is part of the construction process with you. That's when you need to be firm and united on what can budge on or what can't.

2. Assign who will interact with vendors. You will make everyone's life easier (yours, your contractor, your architect, the bank, and everyone involved) if you designate one point person for each of them. If both you and your partner have the ability and time to be very active in the project, you can assign different teams to each one of you. But for us, it made sense for me to be the primary contact for everyone because I'm just better at quickly communicating, I have a more flexible work schedule, and because I spend more time in front of a computer than my husband does.

3. Put one person in charge of most of the decision-making. With a home build, there are a million decisions to make...from large ones like deciding the general layout of your house to tiny ones like what color knobs your kitchen drawers will have. Both of us were heavily involved in the overall look and functionality of our house. We had weekly meetings with our architects while in the initial design phase. But now that we're in the construction phase which has a lot of smaller changes and decisions that need to be made weekly, we jointly decided that I would be in charge of those. I will make the decision about most things, and if there is something I know my husband will have a strong opinion on, I'll wait for him to weigh in before answering.

4. Have regularly scheduled meetings about the project. Our architect team had weekly meetings with us during the phase when we were actively designing our house. Now, that we are in construction phase, we have a weekly meeting with both our contractor and architects to review progress and on-going updates. Those standing weekly meetings get built into our schedule and we try to work everything else around them. The meetings have helped SO much in keeping us up to date. And if one of us can't make it due to work conflict, then the other one still goes to represent us both. If your construction team does not have these regular meetings planned for you, get into a habit of doing that yourself, either weekly or every two weeks so you are both caught up on where everything is and there are no surprises. 

5. Be okay with compromise. I love bell-shaped brass lights that unfortunately make an annoying noise every time they get touched, but Bob HATES them because he somehow finds a way to bump into them no matter where they are. So as I am looking at light for our bedroom, I knew I had to consider both functional and beautiful options that we could both agree on. And although I imagined our yard filled with wildly colorful flowers, Bob also is allergic to pollen so we are designing our landscaping with low pollen or no pollen plants that would keep him from sneezing every day.

Check out my post on Architectural Digest's Clever where I'm asking tips from other married couples who have built a house together, too! And, next month, I'll be back with a construction update!

Have a great weekend!

happy friday + the LA Times!

The Oh Joy! Studio in the Los Angeles Times

OMG! The Los Angeles Times recently stopped by the Oh Joy! Studio to take some photos for an article, and look. It's HERE! It's been so fun (and definitely surreal) to see our space come to life in print. We gave them the grand tour and gave them a glimpse into what it's like working in the studio, sharing an open space, and how we designed it for our needs. For those of you not in Los Angeles or who missed it, you can read it here!

Oh, and happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

{Photo by Lily Glass. Sources shown: Castle stripe pillow, Castle petal throw blanket, Castle duvet cover. }

have a joyful weekend...

Joyful Book

Happy Friday! Have you read this book Joyful? Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how the seemingly mundane spaces and objects we interact with every day have surprising and powerful effects on our mood. It's completely up my alley but also a way to look at the world that gives us all hope and joy in the everyday. Ingrid's website, Aesthetics of Joy, is a beautiful and informative reference of various ways to find and incite joy throughout our lives...in schools, in hospitals, through art, in city streets, and more. See a few of my favorites that she's discovered below...

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Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

I'm so excited to finally start sharing the design process with you on our house! Let's start at the very beginning...and now queue the Sound of Music ;). Before I can show you every room we are designing and get into all that juicy interiors stuff, let's dive into the design of the physical structure of the house. This is the part of the process which you don't have to think about when buying a house because it's already there. But in our case, we're building from scratch and have the ability to customize and design our house based on my family's needs. It's been a long (but very fun!) process...

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

Previously, I shared how I found an Architect and Contractor for our house. So, now let's go back 4 years in time when we first began the process with our architects, Project M+.

Here's what we knew we wanted and some inspiration images we pinned for them:
- 4 bedrooms plus 3-4 bathrooms
- At least 3000 square feet. We didn't need a HUGE house but wanted more space than our current 1500 square feet that we've lived in for the past 8 years. We wanted a size that was reasonable for our land but also not too small that we would eventually outgrow.
- A flat outdoor yard so our kids could play and we could entertain
- We did not need both a formal and non-formal dining room since we wanted an outdoor dining area, too.
- We also did not need a formal and non-formal living room as we didn't have endless space to be able to build and we're completely happy with just one main living room area.
- We wanted the flow to feel very indoor/outdoor with large doors and windows. We love mid-century and Danish modern styles so we wanted those as inspiration while still feeling warm and cozy

Here were a few of my inspiration images from our Pinterest Board:

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

(Sources, left to right, top to bottom: Contemporist, Studio Ko, Ventanas, Blueprint Effect.)

Based on those images plus the information we provided our architect, here's a look at the evolution of the design process for the home's design...

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

1. Looking at the levels of the house and how it fits into the hillside. The first step was for Project M+ to explore multi-levels and play with modern shapes to create a continuous space that would be built into the hillside. This is where they were also considering our hillside view from inside out and where you find refuge and cozy areas as well. While we were open to three floors because it felt unique, we didn't like how the levels felt too boxy with and didn't connect as fluidly to one another. We also preferred two levels vs. three after seeing this first rendering.

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

2. Revising the general flow. Next, here was a two-story approach still working off modern lines but connecting them a bit more by having one large rectangle sitting on top of two smaller squares. We liked the large windows and the flow from inside to outside but wanted a mix of glass, wood, and some warmer materials.

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

3. A 3-D Model! Then, the house became more finalized as a two-story house that had a bit of a U shape from the top. Real-life materials were added in for reference and Project M+ even made us a small version for ants (ha!) so that we could begin to visualize it in 3D. From there, we made some more tweaks but were overall happy with the layout and structure of the house.

Oh Joy! Builds A House: The Design and Architecture of our Home!

4. Renderings. Then, we got more detailed renderings to help visualize the scale, materials, and how each part looks in relation to one another. After this step, technical plans were finalized and we were ready to go into the permit process (which took TWO YEARS after that)! A few things have changed from here, but this gives you a good idea of where we're headed.

The design process from start to finish took less than a year. We could have finished sooner than that, but I had a baby mid-way through the process, so we took our time. Then, the permits took about two years, and then we went and found a contractor. Hence, why I have to go back in time to tell you all of this, but it's SO, SO fun to take this trip back and still be very happy with where we are headed.

Check out my post over at Architectural Digest's Clever for my tips on what to consider when beginning to design your home! And, if you have any questions or other parts you'd love to learn about in this process, please leave a comment below!

{Unless noted, all photos by Lily Glass. Architecture, renderings and models by Project M+

must vs. can...

Must vs. Can... / via Oh Joy!

This year, I have been all in the mind set of being in control of my own destiny...worrying less what other people think, having a more positive attitude about all areas of life, and not letting fear get in the way. One simple way that I tell myself and others to do this is to change the way you work thoughts or sentences that usually include the word "MUST". For example...

I MUST be a good mom.

I MUST go to work to provide for my family.

I MUST accomplish all my goals.

Now change the MUST to CAN...

I CAN be a good mom.

I CAN go to work to provide for my family.

I CAN accomplish all my goals.

Not only does it sounds more positive (and not draining), but it sounds like something you have the power to decide how those things happen in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Have a great weekend guys! Not cause you MUST but because you CAN have one ;)

{Photos by Casey Brodley}

how we celebrate birthdays at oh joy!

birthdays at oh joy!

Ever since I started growing the Oh Joy team, it was important for me to celebrate everyone's birthday in a fun way every year. It started off with decorating their desk with a fun theme (often photos of their celeb crushes) and going out to a fun lunch. But in the past couple years, we started a tradition of doing a group activity after my team surprised me with a class at Cirque School! Here's a look back some of the birthday team trips we've taken!

birthdays at oh joy!

Flower Arranging - This was one of my favorites because we learned some fun tips but also came home with these beautiful arrangements

birthdays at oh joy!

Mini Golf - This one was just hilarious!

birthdays at oh joy!

Pottery Class - We've done both making pots from scratch and also ones where you paint pre-made pieces.

birthdays at oh joy!

Cake Making or Decorating - It's always fun to make something you can go home and eat after!

birthdays at oh joy!

Hip Hop Class - We got moving and decked out in 90's style for this one.

birthdays at oh joy!

Nail Salon - It's always a treat to get a mid-week mani!

birthdays at oh joy!

Bowling - It can be hard to find a bowling alley that's open in the middle of the day, but when you do it's pretty fun cause no one is there! ;P

Also, others we've done...

Virtual Reality - We went to a VR place yesterday for Jess' birthday, and it was SOOOO fun! We got in teams to go to these alternate realities and work together to conquer missions. I so want to go back!

Massages - Always a treat to get a massage in the middle of the day!

Movie - This is a fun one if there is a movie out with an actor that the birthday girl really loves.

Cirque School - This is the one that started the activities. It was probably also one of the hardest ones!

It's also VERY fun to all wear some sort of coordinating outfits (the same color, stripes, overalls, 90's gear, etc)

let's discuss: presents at kids' birthday parties...

Oh Joy! Gifts

I'm about to say something you might not agree with. I don't believe in kids getting presents at birthday parties. Eeeek...do you hate me? It's not that I don't LOVE giving presents (I do). And I will give a present to every birthday my kids are invited to unless they tell me not to. And it's not that I don't think kids should get something special for their birthday (I do). But, I have had a really hard time recently with the excess of presents that a kid gets at a birthday party. If you invite 10-30 kids to your birthday party, your child then gets 10-30 gifts. That's more gifts than they probably get for the holidays.

In my almost 7 years of of being a mom and throwing a birthday party every year for my kids, we have only accepted gifts once. Ruby turned 3 and we invited 5 friends to her party. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and I wanted to her to have a little party just for her before her world was about to be turned upside down by a little sister. So, I let her have 5 presents from 5 friends plus the couple presents we gave her as parents. 

I know not everyone has the means to buy birthday presents. My problem with gifts is for kids who already have plenty. They often have no appreciation for each gift when they get so many at one time. ONE gift or even a couple can feel SO special to them. But when they have 30, they go into hyper toy mode, hyperventilating to open them all back-to-back with no time spent appreciating each one.

Birthday-207-blog

So what's a better solution? I can't say this is for everyone, but for every other party I have thrown my kids we have asked for "no gifts" OR book donations that we donate to children in need. The book donation has been my favorite because it satisfies a guest's desire to bring something, but the gift is going to other children who need the books more than my kids do. Plus, I get my kids involved in taking the books to the donation center and get them excited about seeing how many we collected to give. Last year, we collected over 100 at their joint birthday party because everyone ended up bringing more than one book!

Maybe you have a better way of handling a mass amount of presents or feel more sane about it then I do! I have some friends who hide some of the birthday gifts and bring them out at different times during the year. Or some friends let their kids keep a few and donate the rest. How do you guys handle gifts at birthdays? Do you accept them or not? 

P.S. I asked this question (before I knew my own feelings on it) six years ago as I was approaching Ruby's first birthday. It's interesting to see how my feelings have solidified since then.

{Photos by Casey Brodley}

happy friday + oh joy from 2005 to 2018...

Oh Joy / 13 years!

You guys! Oh Joy is officially a teenager! When I started this business 13 years ago, I never expected to have a business that was so connected to a community of people through the Internet! I never thought I'd make real, live friends through it. I never thought I'd connect with people all over the world and get to share my vision with complete strangers. I never thought that it would give me the opportunity to create something from nothing and create a job I truly love doing every day.

In celebration, I'm looking back at the last 13 years to show how things have changed and evolved and grown (both personally and professionally) in the last decade. This is a long post (but a fun one). So I hope you'll hang out and read along...

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12 things we’ve learned from 12 years of marriage...

Oh Joy / 12 Things I've Learned in 12 Years of Marriage

This weekend, my husband, Bob, and I are celebrating 12 years of marriage and 22 years together in total. So, I thought it would be fun (with input from Bob) to share some things we've learned in our last 12 years with you. These things aren't only important for marriage but serious relationships in general. Here we go...

1. You don’t have to agree about everything, but you need to agree about some important things. Specifically: 1) Number of kids (and what happens if you don’t get the gender mix you are hoping for—do you stop or have more?).  We agreed on two kids, no matter the gender mix. 2) Who handles the money (joint bank accounts vs. separate vs. mostly joint bank accounts with small separate personal ones). We do the latter. 3) What religion will you practice?  What religion will your kids be raised in? 4) How will you handle your respective parents? Will you support them financially? How will holidays be separated and when family visits occur?

2. Don’t expect your partner to change any of those annoying habits. Embrace them or make peace with them as they will likely continue to persist forever. Appreciate the nuances of your partner’s personality and love them for it. But also find a way to poke fun at them from time to time to keep things light! 

3. Have your own life and your own friends outside of marriage. Often, your friends become friends with your partner, but those friendships need to exist outside your marriage to make sure you are personally fulfilled. It's also nice to have those separate friends and have someone to lean on when things aren’t going perfectly in your marriage and you just need friends to talk to through it.  

4. Make the right things matter. For example, we decided a long time ago that gifts for birthdays and anniversaries aren’t important for us—it was the opportunity to spend time together to appreciate the day. So we celebrate these occasions with special dinners or small trips instead of gifts.

5. You can be equals, but not all parts of your marriage have to be equal. Maximize what each person is good at and divide the duties of marriage appropriately. And don't hold a grudge against your partner because they can’t do something as well as you with regards to this. Bob isn't usually home early enough to cook dinner, so I do most of the cooking during the week. But he tries to make breakfast and dinner on the weekends because has has more time then. Bob fixes everything around the house because he's better at it, but I'm much better at keeping things organized. I plan almost all of our date nights, nights out, and vacations because I'm better at managing and coordinating. And then he handles most of our household bills so that I can focus on managing my business' bills.  

6. You don’t have to be around your partner all the time to appreciate them. This especially goes for couples where one person travels for work a lot or even couples in long-distance relationships. We were long-distance for 9 years of our dating relationship and while it was hard at times, it actually helped us in the long run. In fact, I think you appreciate them more when your time is limited because you make the most of every moment you have with them.  

7. Your partner still cannot read your mind. No matter how much you get to know each other year after year and you know their true selves more and more, you will never know exactly what the other person is thinking/feeling/wanting at all points in time. Which is why communication is still (and always will be) key to a good relationship, especially when you're disagreeing about something.

8. Never underestimate the power of a date night. It’s an instant reset button when life and kids and work and responsibilities take over! Don't give the excuse of not having time (make time), it being too expensive (you can go out for pizza) or not having a baby sitter (ask friends who will gladly want to give you a night out). If all else fails, date nights can also involve Netflix and take-out dinner on the couch at home after the kids have gone to bed. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to be dedicated time for you and your partner.

9. Don't go to bed angry. Sleeping before resolving an argument never feels good. While everyone's style of resolving an argument or disagreement is different, do your best to resolve it before the night is over. No one likes the feeling of going to bed angry so just don't do it.

10. If you have (or will have) kids, figure out your general parenting style. Before you have kids or while your kids are entering a new stage of their development, decide how you will jointly parent and how you will resolve conflict with your kids. You have to be on the same team so that kids have consistent responses from both parents and also so when discipline or rule-setting needs to take place immediately, you know where you both stand in quickly responding to the situation. You don't need every detail of your parenting to be exactly the same, but your overall style should be in sync. 

11. Favorite, least favorite, tomorrow. We do this at dinner every night with our kids every night during dinner, and I find it's actually so helpful for my marriage as well. By having everyone in the family go through what their favorite and least favorite things about the day were (and then telling what you're looking forward to tomorrow), it not only gives you a sense of something your partner might not have thought to tell you, but it allows an opportunity to vent about something when they might have forgotten to bring it up later in the evening.

12. Always be your partner's #1 fan. Whether they're interested in changing careers, taking up a new hobby, wanting to dye their hair pink, or just taking some sort of leap of faith or risk, be there to support them. It doesn't mean you have to agree with all decisions or that you can't speak up if you have differing opinions, it just means to support what they are aiming to do and you can give your honest feedback, if needed, at the same time.

If you have any other tips from your own experience, please share in the comments below! Stuff like this is helpful for everyone! Happy weekend!

{Photo by Morgan Pansing}