Friday, October 30, 2009


Halloween is not necessarily may favorite holiday, but so wonderful when you are celebrating it with young children. My 3 year old son is especially excited now that he understands what to expect this year. He has decided that this year he wants to be a Pollen Jock...yes, you heard correctly, a Pollen Jock. Well, if you have seen the Bee Movie, you know exactly what I am talking about. The Pollen Jocks are the well-bred, strong, brave and tough bees that actually get to leave the hive, fly around with their Nectar Collectors and go to work, EVERY day. Well, it is without a doubt a creative ghost this year, but a bit of a challenge. I am embarrassed to say that I have NO talent for sewing and therefore his costume tomorrow may not be as spectacular as someone elses. But get this...he doesn't care, nor does he mind! He's 3 and I am SO thankful! What he will remember is that whatever Mommy says he is, he is...don't you love little kids.

My youngest daughter who will be 2 would be happy in a diaper...she wants the candy! No frills here! Due to living in Colorado, trick or treating in a diaper is most definitely out of the question! She will be content in a big, furry, pot-bellied Skunk suit from The Children's Place that my son wore last year! As long as you "show her the candy!" she will be happy as a clam.\

I wish all of you a fantastically frightening, candy overdosing and SAFE Halloween!

Jackie :o)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Got a "Bucket List"?

Currently I have been involved in a very intensive career/life class at my company and have gleaned much during this 8 week training course, so I want to share some of it with you. Did anyone see the movie, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? The movie basically deals with two older men in very different situations in life that meet during routine cancer treatments at a hospital. Freeman's character has been battling cancer for awhile, and Nicholson's character has just learned he has it and has started his first round of chemotherapy. The two men become unlikely friends and begin writing a list of things that each of them want to do before they die. They go even a step further and leave together, against some family member's wishes to experience and scratch off as many things on their bucket list that they can before their lives are spent.

In my class, we also worked on a bucket list of our own, slightly different but just as poignant. The challenge was in 10 minutes time, list 50 that answer the following questions:
  1. What do I want to DO before I die?
  2. What do I want to BE?
  3. What do I want to HAVE?
  4. What do I want to SEE?
  5. What do I want to GIVE?
  6. Who do I want to HELP?
  7. What do I want to KNOW?
  8. WHO do I want to know?

The key was to brainstorm so that no restrictions are permitted. We were not to justify, rationalize or define our ideas at this point, just write it all down as it flowed. I am confessing that it took me longer than 10 minutes, but I didn't take too long for fear I would over-analyze what I was writing and begin crossing things out. The exercise was enlightening, invigorating and insightful. I greatly recommend that everyone compile their very own bucket list. I find myself living in the "fight fire" mode alot, and by the end of the day, I have not given time to what really matters. The list gives you a peek into your innermost desires, passions and hopes. Then you can begin to design your life to help you reach your goals, your dreams and focus on what is truly important in life, whatever that may be for you. I am going to share a few of my bucket list items, and it is my hope that you will find your own bucket and start filling it. It is worth it!

Jackie's Partial Bucket List:

  • Love and appreciate myself in and out.
  • Learn to LOVE working out. (Ooh...this is tough!)
  • Always make time to serve others.
  • Travel to Finland and work on my family history.
  • Have a fun and fruitful real estate career.
  • Live in and appreciate the present.
  • Wake up every morning with a grateful heart.
  • Live in Italy for a summer.
  • Help raise healthy, happy children.
  • Pay for my children's college tuition.
  • Explore as much of what the world has to offer as possible.
  • Pray more and listen more.

So there you have have fun doing your list, it's worth it. :o)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Camping with Kiddos Update

It is official...I have survived tent camping with the kids! To many, I am sure this sounds silly. You probably have camped dozens of times with your kids and are thinking, "so what". Well, to me this was truly a feat! First of all, "tent camping" and "Jackie" don't get along, but surprisingly it was much more fun that I had expected. The 50 mile per hour wind gusts and sideways rain wasn't what I considered fun, the fact that our tent was only on the ground because we were all in it wasn't really fun, the stakes that we lost from the storm and the rain drizzling through onto our sleeping bag wasn't a joy... but was fun. After some friends let us borrow more stakes and helped my husband and daughter secure the tent into the ground and replace the rain shield, we were able to stay and actually spend the night.

Now, lets talk kids shall we? For the most part, my almost 3 year old and 20 month old had a fantastic time. They had a great time wandering around looking for dirt to embed under their fingernails and rocks to throw. They liked checking out the tent and seeing where they would be "sleeping" (not much sleeping happened though). The homemade ice cream we made in ziploc bags, shaking for about 5 minutes or so was pretty tasty, and of course the s'mores were delectable. All in all, the overnight camping trip was a success and the kids had a blast. I actually feel like doing it again very soon...but maybe I have blocked out all the not-so-great things about the trip so I will do it again...kind of like pregnancy and labor. Not fun, but the end result is satisfying. It was an inexpensive way to have a little fun with the family and make some memories, and definitely worth the effort!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Is it smart to hire a stager when trying to sell?

This is a great question. Hiring a professional stager can be extremely helpful in today's market. It is not a secret that we have a huge supply of homes on the market and not enough demand (buyers), so sellers are competing with other sellers like never before. A buyer has many choices these days on choosing their home, so the best strategy is to push your listing to the front of the pack. A stager can help you do just that, using their expertise in paint color, positioning of furniture, artwork and flow. A fresh set of experienced eyes can help to downplay the not so positive areas of the home and feature the great qualities.

Not all of us are in a position to take on an extra cost for a stager, but it can be done fairly inexpensively if you do your homework. If the property is vacant, it will naturally cost more due to the fact that furniture will have to be rented to fill up the space. But if you are still occupying the property, often a stager can use items you already have and take down things that don't help, only paying for her time, not rental furniture/accessories which could get costly.

There are many success stories of homes sitting on the market for months and then selling almost immediately after having it professionally staged. Lets talk money a moment:

If you have little to no equity in the home, the home is not selling and price reductions are taking place, it is only a matter of time before you will need to bring thousands to the closing table if it sells. Wouldn't you rather spend a much smaller amount at the beginning to have it staged and actually have a chance at selling it sooner and have to bring little to NO money to the closing table? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.

So, here are some pointers:

  • Make sure the entry to your home has great curb appeal. Things like keeping the lawn trimmed, the weeds pulled, mulch, flowers, a fresh coat of paint on the front door and dusting off all cobwebs and dirt from the exterior does a world of good. Clean those windows! If it doesn't look appealing on the outside, noone is going inside.
  • Keep your house "Q-tip" clean. All the nooks and crannies need to be spotless. Nothing turns off a buyer more than a dirty house.
  • Fresh coats of paint to the inside of the home is a great idea. Don't go crazy on the colors, but definitely use some. Stay away from stark white walls, use neutral tones, nice crisp white floorboards are a great contrast to the walls.
  • Play some relaxed music on days when you know you are getting showings, bake a pie in the oven beforehand or fresh bread. Homey smells help the prospective buyer feel comfortable and help them imagine themselves living there.
  • Decorate towel rods in bathrooms, candles on the bathtub, things that make you think, "Ahh, that's nice".
  • Price your home RIGHT. It could be a beautiful home, but if it isn't priced to sell, it just might not for quite some time. You will eventually need to reduce the price and the home will have lost its "new listing" appeal. If you price it right immediately, you will sell it much faster. Pretty simple.

I hope that this is helpful to all who read it. I certainly haven't touched on everything, but it's a little bit of advice to "take and run with". If you are interested in staging your listing, call around, get quotes, check out their websites and "before and after" shots, meet with them before deciding who to go with. If not, try to look at your home without the rose colored glasses, compare with others and be honest with yourself. It will do a world of good!

Camping with the kiddos!

Okay, I think I am in for a wild ride! Our family is going on our first tent camping trip. We have three wonderful kids, but we have yet to take our two younger ones, Kian (almost 3) and Ella (20 months). It is safe to say that is will definitely be memorable, the question is... will it be a good memory or a miserable one! :o) Fortunately, it is just an overnighter with our church to Chatfield Reservoir. I can only imagine the chaotic sleeping arrangement, and I use the term "sleeping" very loosely. Whatever happens, this is what I know: Every activity with my children is precious, even the not-so-good ones. It reminds me that life is messy...and that is what makes it fun. If all goes well, the kids will be the messiest they have ever been and have the widest grins on their faces. Now that is a kodak moment!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Breckenridge... "lovin' it!"

My family and I have been spending this week in Breckenridge and loving every minute of it! Okay, maybe not EVERY minute. It has finally occured to my almost 3 year old son that he is definitely tall enough to escape from his porta crib. He has also figured out how to unlock the deadbolt and escape through the front door of our condo! What a great time for him to get this epiphany! We have had it very easy for quite awhile, and now I think when we get home, it's "out" with the crib and "in" with the toddler bed. This probably should have been done already, but there is something very magical about putting your kid to bed and knowing he won't be going anywhere until he gets up in the morning! Other than that, Breckenridge is always awesome. There is something about the fresh mountain air, the awesome French Dip at Eric's, shopping and admiring the gorgeous views and laid-back feel. It's a great place to get away from the daily grind and enjoy the beauty of Colorado. It is not far away, but even if it was, it would be definitely worth the drive!

Have you done a Summer home maintenance check?

Doing a home maintenance check prior to winter seems to be a fairly easy thing to remember so we don't get caught unawares, a.k.a shivering in your home on a very cold night as you quickly realize that your furnace has decided to pick the most opportune time to "take a little break" and break down. But sometimes doing a summer maintenance check can get overlooked. Truth be told, it is a great idea to do a safety check in the warm months as well! Here are some tips from to help your home perform in tip top shape over the summer:

  • Heating and cooling: It is a great idea to change the filter in your heating/cooling system, and get the heater serviced. In the summer, you can rest assured that there is less demand, which means shorter waits and possibly lower rates.
  • Check those ducts: If there is a chance of dampness in your ducts, it would be a good idea to get them cleaned and checked for mold. Warm-weather moisture and moisture from your air conditioner may help mold grow, which isn't so great for your family's health. Homes with daily use of the heating/cooling system should have the ducts checked annually.
  • Fire safety: Change the batteries in all your smoke detectors. Making sure that extinguishers are in key places around your home is also a good idea in case of an emergency.
  • Fireplace: If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it is a good idea to have your chimney checked and cleaned to remove any residue that may have accumulated during winter use.
  • Inspect the Deck: Rain and sun can begin to damage your deck, so now is the perfect time to make repairs such as nailing down loose boards and applying sealant to protect it from water. If you have a concrete patio or walkways, check for cracks and significant separation. Resurfacing or applying filler to these areas will help keep the cracking from getting worse. Deeper cracks mean more difficulty in terms of repairing damage caused by shifting.
  • How's the Roof? Inspect the roof regularly for issues such as missing shingles, cracks, moss or damage from fallen tree limbs or hail. Have any damaged areas fixed right away before it becomes a bigger and more costly problem.
  • Gutters: Clearing the gutters of leaves, branches, dirt and other debris will help stave off problems later.
  • Doors and Windows: Caulk gaps around doors and window frames, remove storm windows and add screens. While you are working on the windows, why not clean them thoroughly on the outside and make sure all windows open easily when they are unlocked. Checking locks on all exterior doors and windows will also bring peace of mind.