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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.

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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}

a gift from us to you for 13 years!

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13 years ago this month, I started a blog and a design company called Oh Joy! What was intended to be a side project while I was looking for a new job turned into my real life job. I went from being a graphic designer and designing for a ton of other people's brands to having a site to share my inspirations and ideas, collaborating with brands to make products, writing books about various topics I was passionate about, being a business consultant for hundreds of other small businesses, growing a team, and doing more things than I ever thought possible. I'll go into a bigger recap of our last 13 years at the end of the month, but for today, I wanted to THANK YOU all for being here and for coming to this site and visiting our site, purchasing our products, reading our books, and for your support in general.

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I can't hug each and every one of you, but I can thank you with some amazing giveaways we have planned over the next 13 days! I have always loved sharing the work and products of other companies I love, so I've partnered with 13 of them to give one of YOU something! So, please follow along on our @ohjoy Instagram account for a new giveaway every morning at 7am PST/10am EST with giveaways with: Sugarfina, Max Wanger, Clare V, Loeffler Randall, DryBar, Hedley & Bennett, Ace & Jig, Artifact Uprising, State Bags, Joybird, Maya Brenner, Jeni's Ice Cream, and, of course, the Oh Joy! shop!

{Top photo by Lily Glass, styling by Wilmarose Orlanes, styling assistance by Jess Hong, graphics by Angie Stalker.} 

a staycation for mom...

A Staycation for Mom... / via Oh Joy!

Today, we're partnering with Home2 Suites by Hilton to show you how to celebrate the end of summer and the start of school for the person who really deserves a break...MOM! You've been in charge of your whole family's summer and school year and it's always GO GO GO for you. So today, I'm encouraging you to take a night for yourself to get away, leave the kids with your partner, and have a staycation! See our fun video below to get your Mom's Staycation started...

P.S. Home2 Suites is giving away a 2-night stay to one lucky winner! Head to their Instagram page to learn how to enter for a chance to win!

{Photo by Lily Glass, Video by Jenner Brown} 

*This post is brought to you in partnership with Hilton. All opinions are my own.

happy friday + helping YOU achieve your dreams...

Oh Joy!

After my last two posts about working with a Life Coach (Why I Got One and Things I Learned That Could Help You, Too), I received so many great messages from you and how much you enjoyed reading about my experience. But also, there were so many of you asking more about how you could find one for yourself or those of you struggling with what the next step is in your life and career. I didn't go dishing out contact information for my own coach in the way that I would hand out referrals for everything else in my life because 1) I know she is very specific about the people she works with and 2) You have to be in a phase of life where you are ready to do the work that's involved.

However, there were a good number of you who were truly interested. So, my coach, Bonnie, offered a gift from her to me to you a session for THREE of you to have the chance to talk to her about anything you want. No strings attached. Just simply to gift the gift of guidance to a few of you. SO...if you're interested, please read this letter from my coach, Bonnie, below and how you can be selected...

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happy friday + my favorite podcast episodes lately...

Oh Joy!

This photo has nothing to do with podcasts, but I didn't have a good "podcast" photo so here we go! ;) Lately, I've been enjoying car rides alone (which rarely happen in the first place) because I get to catch up on podcasts. Driving is truly the one time that I can really absorb a podcast because I'm forced not to do anything else but drive and listen. So, I wanted to share not just my favorite podcasts, but my favorite podcast episodes, lately...

Jen Gotch is OK Sometimes — Are We Addicted to Social Media?

Rise Together — You Have to Fail to Grow

Asian Americana — Boba/Bubble Tea (not my usual suggestions but fun if you like learning about the history of things)

Out of Line — Jihan Zencirli on Reinvention

And two that I happen to be in recently that I personally really love and hope you'll enjoy, too!

Awesome with Alison — Mastering Growth, Confidence and LIFE with Joy Cho!

Raising the Bar with Alli and Michael — Jump for Joy

Have a great weekend!

my first major meltdown in the home build process...

Oh Joy Builds a House: My First Major Meltdown

I have something to admit. Building a house has given me a LOT of stress and anxiety lately. I have been hesitant to talk about it because I feel so very grateful to be able to even do this project and to be able to share it with all of you. But after cry sessions in front of my husband, kids, and life coach recently, I realized there are things here that I wanted to share. So, here's the deal...

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things i learned through my life coach that might help you, too...

 

Things I Learned Through My Life Coach That Might Help You, Too!

A couple weeks ago, I talked in detail about why I got a Life Coach. Today, I wanted to share some nuggets of information from some of the notes I've taken from conversations we've had or books I've read that could help you, too, in some way. These are pulled from various moments over the last several months. But I love that on their own (without the context of why we discussed them), they still make so much sense....

1. Any type of growth takes time and faith and practice. Growth hurts just like when you're exercising, and you get sore from using new muscles. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to grow and change and become the real you. 

2. Even though growth can hurt, you shouldn't stop it from happening. If you were to try and help a butterfly transform, you might do more damage then good. It needs to transform on its own to become what it can truly be.

3. Sometimes, if you prevent an experience from happening to someone else (because you are worried you'll hurt their feelings or they may react poorly), you’re holding them back from learning a lesson on their own to experience those emotions. They needs those lessons for their own personal growth.

4. Making an agreement with someone is much stronger than an placing an expectation upon them. This holds true for partners in marriage, employees, co-workers, etc. Others love to keep agreements that they can co-author with you. Then if something you're hoping for isn't realistic for the other person, you’ll find out in advance why something won’t occur the way you want it to.

5. The owner mindset is taking whatever life gives me and welcoming it in. Owning it and deciding what I want to learn and create from it.

The victim mindset sees circumstance as all powerful. And often those circumstances look negative and emotionally overwhelming.

The truth is we human beings have an endless, innate capacity for optimism and creativity already built-in that we can choose to tap into anytime we want.

6. We have to remember that the goal of life is not to be busy, it is to be successful. Often, it is when we let go of our busyness that vision returns, inspiration appears, and a new level of true success is possible.

7. Success is about being original and being collaborative. Success is about connecting with others and finding your team. Even the most original thinkers need to have backing and support for their visions and ideas.

{Photo by Lily Glass.}

happy friday + why i got a life coach...

why i have a life coach... / via Oh Joy!

At the end of last year, I started questioning myself and my work and felt lost. Those feeling and events led me to working with a life coach which I wanted to share a bit more about with you today. I've talked a few times on Instagram Stories about working with one and originally planned to post all the things I've learned from working with mine. But I realized that so many of you have questions about it in general...Why did I get one? How do you find one? What's the difference between a life coach and a therapist? So today, I'm focusing first on all your questions about it...

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