The Most Magical Place on Earth

The Most Magical Place on Earth

I was quiet on the blog last week because my family went on vacation….to Disney World!

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It was a dream come true kind of trip.  We had been planning it for about 6 months and even though we didn’t know it then, the timing was amazing.  We all needed a break from the difficulties going on at home.

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It’s more proof that God knows what is ahead for us and sets His plans into motion to take care of us. 

With so many of us there, it was hard to stay together so we ended up splitting up most of the time and meeting all together for dinner each day.  We tried to stay connected, but you know how it goes.

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We did manage to ride a few rides all together.

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We would divide into groups and I ended up spending most of my time with the two youngest boys.

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It was fun just to ride whatever they wanted and see the shows they were interested in.  We rode the train around Magic Kingdom and the carousel and everything the older kids had no interest in.

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But don’t think I had a slow paced time.  I love the roller coasters and occasionally I would sneak off with the fast action crew for some thrill rides.  The more loops and twists and turns the better in my opinion. (the girl on the end is a sweet friend who went with us)

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We would use our fast passes then run right back around to wait in line to ride the ride again.  Fun, Fun and more Fun.

Speaking of fast passes, I want to shout out how amazing our Disney travel agent was.  Amy, from Polka Dots N’ Wishes planned the whole thing for us and got us a great deal!  Plus she gave us tips for things we would never have discovered on our own.  I was thrilled with their service and will use them to plan another trip again for SURE!  If you’re going to Disney, contact them and let them know I sent you.

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It’s so great to be in a place where you look normal wearing costumes.  But my Minnie Mouse ears were hurting my head, so the next day I made my own.  I may start wearing my hair like that all the time.

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We met quite a few celebrities….including the biggest celebrity of all.

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I even made friends with a Lego muscle man.  He’s a little angry, but he’s still cute.

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While it was an amazing trip and I would do it all again, I am hoping to go back again with just James and I.  It seems weird at first to think of going without our kids, but then we realized we were spending the entire time doing what everyone else wanted, taking people to the bathroom, looking for lost hats, finding people to trade pins with, etc.  It’s what a parent does and we were totally glad to do it.  But it also sounds nice to do whole thing at our own pace.  So we are thinking of calling Amy and having her set up a “Mommy and Daddy only” kind of trip.  (ignore the black man in the photo with me – it’s from a ride – just pretend that’s James)

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And another great thing about the trip….it was our Christmas gift to the family.  So my Christmas shopping is done except for a few friend and teacher gifts which I have already ordered.  Booyah!!!

Have a very merry week!

 

The Ups and the Downs

The Ups and the Downs

This post contains affiliate links.

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So many of you have been asking me about how things are going with our daughter that left home.  I appreciate it very much!  I haven’t given an update because there’s really nothing to tell.  She is still gone and we haven’t had much communication with her.

What I can tell you about is how we are pulling ourselves together at home.  We have been making an effort to find our new normal without her.  It has been really hard and we all miss her terribly, but I have learned a lot about how to deal with grief throughout the past month.  And one thing I know, as hard as it is to accept, is that I can’t stop my own life because of someone else’s choices.  (That doesn’t lessen the heartbreak, but it does help with feeling permission to move forward.)

I have been reading books that people have suggested to me.  Two that have really helped are A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss and Surviving One Bad Year: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning.  Both of them have deeply touched on what I have been going through and helped me get not only perspective, but gather strength from knowing that other people have felt what I am feeling.

The 10 of us at home have definitely drawn closer as we work to stay in communication with each other and how we are individually handling it.  Each of the kids will come to me at different times and want to talk about it.  They will be hurting or confused and we will just chat about it until they feel hopeful again.  There is always a lesson to be learned.

I definitely have days when I feel like I can hardly breathe and just cry for no reason.  Like, hard crying.  I know that’s part of the process.   Oh, those crazy stages of grief.  I swing from one to the other over and over…sometimes I go through the first four all in one day.

Then I will have 3-4 easier days.  The weather is nice and the kids will be doing OK and I will feel closer to God as I spend time in His Word.  I will think it’s going to be OK.  And honestly, I do know that it will be OK.  I really never doubt that.  Then I will think about how long that might take and I will suddenly swing back into grief again.

OK God, I am so over this rOlLeR cOAstEr.

From a practical perspective, we have made ourselves try to close the giant hole that she left and find ways to either take over her roles or learn how to do without them.

You always know it’s going to happen….that your kids will leave.  In fact, you really want to see your kids go off and make their lives out there in the big ol’ world.  But in that knowledge, you have some comfort that you will know where they are and what they are doing and what they want for themselves.  And if you really get your dreams you are able to help them a little.  You also, under normal circumstances, have some time to prepare for their leaving.  Three months of prepping for college or wedding or moving into their own place gives you time to make the transition.

But we had nothing.  Not even a goodbye.

I think it’s natural that we need time to recover from that.

But I have said it before and I will keep saying it as loud as I can…..GOD IS GOOD!  I trust Him, I love Him, I walk with Him.

And if He has me on this roller coaster for a reason, I can accept that.  The ups make me thankful and the downs make me pray harder.

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Candy Crushing

Candy Crushing

Our weekend started off with a bang.  Since we don’t celebrate Halloween, we decided to christen our new rec room with a movie for the whole family on Friday night.  We all crowded in there and I surprised the kids with 2 huge bags of candy.  We very rarely buy candy so when I announced that they could eat all they wanted there was a collective outcry of jubilation.

And within about 30 minutes there was a pile of teeny candy wrappers on the coffee table that would eventually challenge Mt Everest in height.

The theme of the night: Laughter with a Sugar High.

The next morning I had planned to work on filling etsy orders and help the boys clean out their closet.  But when I went into my bathroom to get dressed for the day and started the daily search for my favorite essential oils I broke under the pressure.  Two hours later I emerged from the bathroom with reorganized oils and a clean bathroom.

While I worked I could hear the kids calling out, “Where’s MOM?!  I can’t find her!”  But my drive to get that bathroom in ship shape overshadowed my drive to help them find their one lost shoe or figure out where the last of the candy went.

I took all of the whole bottles (that the oils come in) off the shelves and organized them in a drawer that was empty.  Can you believe I actually have empty drawers in my bathroom?  I think I deserve some kind of award for that.  Anyway, then I refilled my diluted rollon bottles and organized them on my shelves by the way they are used instead of alphabetical, which is how they were before.  And I must say that even though I am only 2 days into this new system, it’s working much better.

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It will make it much easier for the kids to find oils when they need them.  Not that they don’t know the alphabet, but they don’t necessarily know what oils to use if I am not there to make suggestions.  This way they at least have an idea what to try when they can’t sleep or feel a cold coming on.

Speaking of oils….if you don’t know….I am having a romance with Thieves.  As I get ready for winter I am stocking up.  We love the cleaner and diffusing it all winter, but I have now discovered their lozenges which, in my humble opinion, are better than cough drops and throat soothers and any number of hard candy combined.  I have been using them even when I am well because they make my breath nice and, if I am being completely honest, they keep me awake during church.

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I am sorry to say that I have a slight issue with staying awake during a long service and need something in my mouth to keep me from the strong temptation to check my email or worse, play a game.  Candy Crush and I are going to have to break up anyway if I can’t get past this level.

I love these lozenges so much that I am sending a bag of them to everyone that joins Young Living through me this month with a Premium Starter Kit or Premium Starter Kit with Thieves.  PLUS I am still sending you my favorite reference book.  Y’all….don’t wait.  You want this for the winter months!

Click HERE now to get started!

And have a great week!

Rec Rooms and Old People

Rec Rooms and Old People

Being the last day of October I am feeling a little like waxing poetic over the passing of time.

But then I would have to think of rhyming words and watch how long my sentences are and the thought of working that hard makes my dream of becoming the next Emily Dickinson fly out the window.

Today our family will lie low and just be together playing games and hanging out.  We don’t celebrate Halloween at all….it’s just another day to spend with the family.  We may even order pizza and check the Redbox to see if there’s anything fun to watch.

For the past couple of weeks we have been turning what used to be the etsy shop into a rec room for the older kids.  They needed a place of their own to host their friends, watch grown up movies and stay up late.  By late I mean after 9:00, since I no longer have the ability to remain conscious after that.  But the kids like to stay up and talk and make noise that keeps old people awake.  It was either give them their own space or go hoarse calling out for them to “HUSH!” every night.

Good grief.  I have turned a geriatric corner.

I gave them full freedom to fix the room up however they want.  They have been pulling furniture out of storage and dragging junk in there and making it all their own.  I heard whispers of choosing paint colors, so I guess they’re going all out.  Have fun kids!  Mom will be in her bedroom taking a nap.

To be clear, the etsy shop is still in business.  We have just taken a ton of items out of the shop to make it a little easier for the boys. They have taken over the production of our top seller, the essential oil shelves.  It’s a great way for them to earn money and save for college.

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The girls are still making the jar lids and a few other favorite items.  I do all of the customer service and upkeep.  It’s a full fledged family operation.

And since we took our product list way down we were able to move the shop into a smaller space, which left the big room wide open.  I thought I might have a hard time letting go of the decorating and furniture arranging.  But it turns out that I am not struggling with it one bit.  They can turn that place into a sci-fi museum for all I care.  I fully expect a Tardis to be constructed in the corner.  I am just happy they are enjoying it so much!

Our weekend is full of plans to clean the house and get caught up on shop orders.  I also am hoping to get some reading in since I brought home about 20 new books from the conference last weekend.  And to be in bed before 9 every night.

See you in November!

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Chore Ideas for Kids!

Chore Ideas for Kids!

Chore Ideas for Kids-2

This week on YouTube I am answering some follow up questions from another video about kids doing chores.  I am sharing how we manage a simple afternoon chore system.  We call it, “3:30 Chores.”  Every afternoon the younger kids (that’s the kids still in school) do a quick chore and it helps keep the place spiffy and gives them something to be responsible for. Here is an idea of the types of jobs I have on their 3:30 chore lists: Ages 2-5: pick up toys, dust, carry laundry, put silverware in the drawer, put pillows on the bed, wipe the table, folding washrags Ages 6-9: dust, sweep, wash the pet bowl, wash front door, wipe light switches, sweep porch, wipe doorknobs, clean under sofa cushions, windex mirrors, straighten books, fold towels, rake, water plants Ages 10-13: vacuum, fold laundry, cut up vegetables, mop, wash windows, get trash out of car, clean TVs, wash dining chairs, pull weeds, wipe off the fridge, straighten the DVDs,  wash sheets Ages 14+: dust ceiling fans, clean leaves from gutters, shake rugs, organize a drawer, straighten a shelf, get Sunday clothes ready, clean trash cans, wash one window, clean cobwebs, sweep under furniture, wash ceiling lights The idea is for these to be small jobs that can be done once a week.  Try walking around the house and just writing down everything that needs to be done.  Then divide that list into small bits, each taking only about 10 minutes to do.  Those would be the 3:30 chores in our house!  :)

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I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

The big event here has been the new family member we have welcomed into our home, also known as my iPhone6.  It came to live with us last Friday and has pretty much taken all of my attention since it had to be practically nursed into usefulness.

Being technically challenged, getting my new phone to act exactly like my old phone only better feels impossible.  But I do have the advantage of having several teens who think it’s SO fun to teach their old mom new things.  If they didn’t know I would punish them with brussel sprouts for dinner they would probably pat me on the head while transferring my contacts.

Another issue besides the technology obstacle was the case/cover.  Those cases cost upwards of $30 and no way am I going to spend that much unless I completely love it.  So I decided that I would make myself a cover until they come out with one I want.  I got a plastic bubble envelope and some washi tape and made one.  It is actually working pretty well for a free, temporary solution.

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Sure I look like a Hillbilly.  I’m OK with that.

In other news, I am leaving this week to spend a few fun-filled days in Nashville with my peeps at Thomas Nelson.  I’ve been writing for them for over a year now and I am so, so excited to meet these friends I have made online.  It’s amazing how close you can get to someone you have only communicated with through Facebook and email.  Well, of course, we’ve also built a relationship around Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.  ;)

You will like my latest post there all about how to keep it together when your kids can’t.

I got out my suitcase yesterday and started planning what to take.  Now that I am exercising in the mornings I have a harder time trying to squeeze everything in a small carry on.  The running shoes alone take up half of the space and even though I shove underwear and hairbrushes in them, it is hard to make myself sacrifice an extra pair of adorable wedges.  The price you pay for health and wellness shouldn’t involve a choice between ugly shoes and your favorite sandals.

Having so many trips between now and mid-November, I will be planting my suitcase on the trunk at the foot of my bed and leaving it there during the week, refilling it, then whisking away again.  Normally I would be worried about getting too tired, but I am all oiled up and ready.

What are you up to this week?  Anything fun happening?!

 

 

Do You Have a Dream?

Do You Have a Dream?

I have been about to BUST to tell you my big news.  But I waited, because patience is a virtue.  Also because I am a person who holds in information in case it doesn’t actually happen.  A little insight into my sad, sad personality.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time you know that I have dreamed of writing a book.  In fact, I did write a short one last year and planned to turn it into an ebook.  It was in the works when God, in His beautiful way, flipped that plan upside down and used that ebook to get the attention of a literary agent and then a publisher.

And now that all Ts and Is have been crossed and dotted I can tell you…..I am writing a real book.  One you can hold in your hand and buy in a store.  Even as I type it out I have to pinch myself.

I thought about waiting a while longer to tell y’all.  It was a favor to you really.  So you don’t have to keep yourself from asking me constantly, “Are you REALLY writing a book? Because I haven’t seen it anywhere!”  It turns out that the process takes much longer than I ever thought….in my case about a year….before it will actually be on a shelf.  But you all are amazing and kind so I overcame my hesitation.

My book will come out next fall, in 2015.

However, I have discovered that it is next to impossible to keep up with 3-4 blog posts a week AND write a whole book.  I simply can’t do it without ignoring my kids and all efforts to eat healthy.  So until my December first deadline I will be posting just once or twice a week and occasionally re-posting some content that you might not have seen before.  I am also considering letting my girls write for The Pennington Point once in a while.

I didn’t ever dream this would be a reality….honestly I am blown away by God’s grace.  He has been my guide and comfort all along the way.

If you get anything from my big announcement let it be this: Whatever He planted in your heart long ago, He will lead you to that.  It will probably not happen the way you expect or even look the way you thought it should, but don’t ever stop going for that goal.  I have dreamed of this since I was a child and here I am….about to turn 50 (another thing I can’t believe when I type it out) and it is just now happening. Never give up!!!!

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My book doesn’t have an official title yet, but it is all about joy and gratitude and giving thanks in all things.  I promise you will love it.  As soon as I finish writing it.  And we design a cover.  And all of the other details that I can’t even think about or I start to hyperventilate.

It will be based on my most popular post called,20 Ways to Reset When the Kids Are Having a Hard Day.”  It’s a beautiful, freeing concept that I have a lot more to say about plus tons of very funny stories to share with you!

Our whole family is blessed by what God is doing through this.  Despite my pitiful fear of shouting it from the rooftops.

What’s your dream?! 

 

When Your Adult Kids Still Live at Home

When Your Adult Kids Still Live at Home

Tips and thoughts for ways to handle adult kids still living at home

Right now we have 4 adult kids living at home and 1 more graduated that’s just under the wire of official adulthood.

This is a whole new level of parenting.  People say toddlers and teenagers are hard….we didn’t have big struggles with those ages.  But adults, that is a topic that needs some attention!

Our kids have always had responsibility and had to learn hard lessons.  They pay for their own things and work from home (mostly) and earn their own money.  They help around the house and are generally pleasant.  But there are still some things that we are working to figure out.

1. Where does the authority of the parents end and the “child’s” begin? (I am calling them child for the sake of clarity, but I know they’re not children)
2. How much of their needs should they pay for?  Rent?  Food?  Insurance?
3. Should we let them use our car?  Our wifi?  Our phone plan?
4. How do we handle discipline?  Or do we?

This is just the tip of the iceberg of adult children living at home.  If they were someone else just moving in with us we would have set clear boundaries from the beginning, but since we eased into this for the past 18+ years it’s not so cut and dried.

The good news is that we do all believe in the Bible being the Word of God and even though not all of those things are addressed directly, is it clear how to handle disputes and so we manage to keep the peace.  That is a victory all by itself!  If you are still raising your young children keep that in mind.  Teach them now to love the Lord, do hard things and care for other people.  It will benefit them now and forever more.

I am sympathetic to my kids’ situation.  They are adults living a child’s life.  They need to break out and believe me….we want our little birdies to fly from our nest.  I am not anxious to be the head of an adult living center.

Even though I am still in the midst of this season and I do not have a full view from the rearview mirror, I have learned a few things that might help anyone headed this direction.

1. If it belongs to me I have authority.  My house, my car, my food….I can say how it gets used and if I let you paint the room you are living in your favorite color then I am doing you a favor.  And you should be grateful.  But if it’s yours…..your purse, your clothes, your car then I should leave you alone about it, even if I have a great idea that would help you undoubtedly achieve great future successes.  I close my mouth.
2. They should pay for themselves as much as possible.  We haven’t moved to having our kids pay rent, but that is because they are responsible with their money and they voluntarily hold themselves accountable to us about how they use it (accountable, not obedient).  But we do require them to pay for their phone (they are on our plan) and they buy their own special foods (so if they like a certain cereal or drink they buy their own, but they eat meals with us).  I have thought about charging my son for laundry services.  Free if you do it yourself, $2 per load if you convince a sister to do it for you. ;)
3. Easing into adult responsibilities.  Our two oldest kids are each saving to buy a car and when that happens it will be 100% their responsibility.  For now they use our cars, but there are rules.  They have to ask.  Every time.  They have to tell us where they are going and when they will be home and if that changes they have to let us know.  And they have to pay for insurance and whatever gas they use.
4. Discipline is a harder issue.  For example, if we request they get up and be dressed by 7:00 in the morning and they don’t do it….what should happen?  Basically, we give them adult sized consequences for these things.  A week without the use of our car has been a consequence we used in the past.  That wasn’t fun.  We do give them a lot of privileges that we could take away if necessary.  I mean, eating here is a privilege and so is having your own room.  If you want that privilege then you have to show respect for our needs as a family and joyfully do what we ask unless we discuss it and all agree to something else.

We expect our adult children to take care of more than just themselves.  By age 18 you should carry your own weight and help those around you.  That means they have responsibilities for kitchen, cleaning, car maintenance, helping with siblings, working for Mom or Dad in our business, etc.  Their whole day can’t be just about them.  That is not good for them and it certainly isn’t good for the parents.  We can’t carry our adult kids around and we shouldn’t have to.  Each adult in the home must be making a large contribution to the cost (financial, physical, emotional, etc.) of living in the home.  We expect them to contribute a minimum of 4 hours per day on family needs, but this can include working for us in our businesses.  If they have jobs that allow them to contribute financially then that time requirement would change.

But what happens when they just don’t agree?  They shouldn’t have to agree with us all of the time of course!   And all of our kids disagree with us on various topics.  That’s when the relationship becomes so, so important.  James and I work hard to spend time with our older kids and listen to them.  What’s important to them? How can we support their dreams?  How are their friends doing?  What are they struggling with right now?  How can we help without jumping in and rescuing them?

It is a delicate balance for all of us and one that we can all become more like Christ through the process. 

If you only have young children now or are looking at being in this situation soon, hear me when I tell you….keep the lines of communication open.  Your adult children still need you.  But you have to practice self-control like you never have before.  No more swooping in and saving the day.  No more endless streams of motherly advice.  No more being bossy (come on, it’s not just me).  They need to make mistakes….sometimes big ones…..to learn and be able to fly away.

Be strong mamma……we are growing and learning too even though we’re supposed to be the more mature one.  It sure ain’t easy.

And when all else fails I can remind my adult kids of what it says in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them,  then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.”

;)

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Who Says I Can’t Pull Off a Surprise?!

Who Says I Can’t Pull Off a Surprise?!

I am writing my Monday post on Tuesday because, well, I’m tired and it was a long weekend.

I remember in college I could stay up all night for a week then recover with a nap and some cold pizza.  Now I require three days of sleep and chicken soup (without the noodles) to get over staying up until midnight.  Which I did on Saturday night.  You would think I’d learn not to do that but I was hanging out with some of the most amazing women and I decided it was worth the sacrifice of being coherent for the next week.

On Friday I drove 8 hours to Oklahoma City for my husband’s law school graduation ceremony.  I didn’t tell y’all I was going because I didn’t tell him.  It was a huge surprise.  It’s not that I don’t trust you all and I am sure you would have kept my secret, but I couldn’t risk it.  My 9 children already knew about it and just keeping them from spilling the beans was all I could manage.

I rented a zippy little red car and drove myself to Oklahoma.  Considering a 15 passenger van has been my mode of transportation for the past dozen years I felt like I had been released from some kind of prison.  I was all in and out of parking spaces like I hadn’t a care in the world.

James was so, so surprised and it was fun to pull it off with my son.  The graduation ceremony was beautiful and I am so glad I went.  It was better than any church service I have been to in a long time.  On Friday night after the first part of the ceremony each graduate took a turn sitting in a chair while the faculty prayed over them.  How often do you see THAT at a law school graduation?!

On Saturday after the actual graduation I went to a meeting with the Winter Summit planning team.  I hope y’all will go to the Summit in January either in Texas or Oklahoma!  It’s going to be an incredible weekend of refreshment and encouragement.  You do not want to miss it!!

Then on Sunday came the dreaded 8 hour drive home.  It was rough.  I got about 2 hours down the road and it felt like I couldn’t drive any more.  I kept stopping and walking around then I’d drive another hour or 2.  Stop.  Walk.  Repeat.

I finally got home around 6:00 PM and was so glad to see my family that I fell asleep.

Have a great week!

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Our Boys’ Attic Lego Loft

Our Boys’ Attic Lego Loft

A great room for boys and their Legos! #legos #boysroom #kidsroom

In my Summer Home Tour I showed you my boy’s loft bedroom.  But I thought I’d show you it again with a little more of the details.

A loft room for boys and their Legos!

This room is so small, but we only keep the Legos and two beds up there, so it works.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

There are mattresses on the floor at each end of the room.  We got new mattresses and I am surprised at how comfy it is.  I went to Target and got the dorm-bed-in-a-bag kit.  They were happy to have matching bedding and it didn’t cost me much.  I added a couple of accent pillows.  Doesn’t every guy want throw pillows?

A great room for boys and their Legos!

I decided to add red because I found these AWESOME red metal lockers at IKEA (my happy place).

A great room for boys and their Legos!

The fence looking thing is the rail that you used to be able to see through from below.  But with the room makeover we put luann in front of it so they have more privacy.  To make the best use of the space we built a white shelf at each end of the lockers that faces the beds and one in the middle to hold all of their Lego books and manuals.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

It creates one long surface for them to build their Lego creations.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

On the opposite side of the room is the only wall.  With one weird shaped wall you have to get creative about how to use it.  We built shelves that were completely fitted to the wall and filled them with containers for the….you know what…..Legos!

A great room for boys and their Legos!

Most of the containers I got at IKEA.  Duh.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

If you’re wondering what the wooden thing on the floor is….that’s the door to the room!

The boys have organized the Legos how they want, which is basically not organized at all.

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 I left empty spots on the shelves for them to put some of the things they’ve built.

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I even added (again, IKEA) little lights on each end of the long shelf for them to hit when they need light in the night.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

The whole room was done with 1x8s, paint and 1x2s for the brackets!  It took some measuring, but we got a lot of storage in a small space and it doesn’t feel cramped because the middle is completely empty except for the seat cubes.  They need a place to sit while they build.

If you like attic spaces, I’ve found some more really cute ones over on my Attic Makeover board on Hometalk!

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