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Dangers of Denver’s Roads: RAGE

ROAD RAGE. It’s estimated that nearly 80% of all drivers have experienced an extreme level of anger while driving.

For the second time in five days, I’ve been involved in a frightening road rage incident in Denver. Sadly, this morning the offender caused a terrible accident in a busy intersection throwing a vehicle from oncoming traffic into my neighbor’s yard. My daughter, on her way to school, was horrified. Thankfully, a kind lady walking her dogs came over to help calm her from frantic tears. The offender had pulled up behind us, honked, inched forward a couple of times aggressively, then zoomed around us. We had been waiting for a safe break in traffic to turn left. It all happened fast, and I tried to give the offender a warning, but it was too late, and we had to watch the collision with front row seats.

The loud honk, followed by the crunching of cars, one almost flipping over before jumping a curb and landing in the grass, was horrifying, especially for my ten-year-old. The officer said the offender’s driver’s license was invalid and he had an extensive record including 12 open tickets. Sadly, he had his young son in the car with him. Everyone was ok.

The other incident of RR happened last Wednesday, after I had dropped Noelle off at cotillion. I was alone and headed to REI downtown. I heard someone behind me honk, but traffic was heavy so I thought nothing of it. As I merged onto the Interstate, a guy pulled up aggressively next to me and was shouting and gesturing. He was dressed like a young businessman, so I wasn’t immediately alarmed and even wondered if I had a flat tire or something wrong with my vehicle. I rolled my window down and he told me I had hit his car. My mind was racing, I was sure I would have noticed something like that.

I took my exit, because it was right there, and he followed me. He started to get aggressively close, flashing his lights and honking hard. That was then that I knew this wasn’t a normal situation. I panicked, missed my turn, and ended up doing a U-turn in a well-lit intersection by the Downtown Aquarium (before I headed too far into a Denver neighborhood I was unfamiliar with). The guy stopped his car perpendicular to me in the middle of the intersection and jumped out. I rolled my window down and told him to back off (with tears, I’m sure) and that I had the police on the line (which was a lie). I took a photo of his license plate as he tried to point to some damage on his car, there was none. Realizing this, he started calm down and said “Well, you at least cut me off.” followed by, “I’m not crazy.” He threatened to call in a hit-and-run, which I welcomed as I drove away. When I stopped shaking and truly did call the police, there was no report of a hit-and-run. The photo I had taken was blurry and I was a mess, I clearly need to be better prepared. And that makes me sad.

I currently live and work in both Hawaii and Colorado. In Hawaii, there’s a driving concept referred to as Aloha (this term is used for many beautiful things). Driving With Aloha is letting someone in when you may not legally have to, or even pausing on a busy road to help keep side traffic moving. People go out of their way to help everyone, shakas and smiles are frequently exchanged.

In Colorado, driving is a different experience. People are in a hurry and don’t often exchange courtesies on the road. I sometimes see an act of Aloha, but it’s a rarity. I hear a lot of angry honks and see people rushing around without much consideration for others. I’m sure I’ve been quite guilty of all of these things myself, and that’s an awful thought.

Road rage, however, is something bigger. I’m not sure I can explain it, and I don’t think I experience the sentiment as some people do. I know that road rage scares me. I saw today that the consequences are very real.

I don’t like to talk about it much, but I almost lost my mom, brother, and baby sister in a car accident on a two-lane highway when I was in high school. It wasn’t a case of road rage, it was an unfortunate accident. It was life-changing. I was left to care for my two-year-old sister while my mom and brother fought for their lives in the hospital (Jordyn had a fabulous nanny and several adults helped me in many ways). Two years prior to that, I was in a rollover accident with young drivers (too young) that resulted in friends teaming together as we lifted a truck bed off of a fellow teen trapped in the ditch. It was also a life-changing event and a hard lesson learned. While my mom and brother were still recovering in the hospital, I was in a school bus crash. It was much less serious, but lots of glass and a beam from an old woodshed broke through my window (slow motion per bus speed, thankfully). That one is a bit funny now, especially the look on everyone’s faces – I’m from a small town, so everyone knew my situation and was very compassionate. I didn’t freak out or even cry then (shock is a helpful emotion), but I’m pretty sure all of it instilled a permanent feeling of insecurity in a moving vehicle.

Even after 23 years, seeing the photo of our family’s car after the accident makes my stomach turn. The smell of fresh blood mixed with my brother’s bottle of cologne, shattered inside his duffle bag in what was once the trunk, is memorable enough that I often try to forget. One of my good friends quit wearing that scent for me back then, I’m still grateful. The car metal trapped most of my family; I walked away, out the unfolded convertible top, with a couple of bruises on my shins. It didn’t ever feel like a great blessing that I was fully aware and unharmed, but it helped me realize some things that teens often forget. My brother told me, after surgery and when he was conscious again, that he was glad it was him and not me. It was a feeling I wish no human ever has to endure.

It may be hard to imagine when you are feeling pissed off at the person annoying you on the road, but in an instant, your next decision could change lives forever.

Embarrassing confession: I get irrationally scared as a passenger in a vehicle sometimes, my best friends know that, most of them understand.

I suppose I think things happen for a reason, and I certainly believe in purpose and a higher good. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make my bad memories go away. I definitely don’t feel comfortable talking about it. But, as a subject that continues to cross my path, I felt I should share my stories, talk about my concern, and do what I can to help make our roads in Colorado a safer place for everyone.

This morning was hard for my daughter and me, but it was far worse for the victim of road rage. Please help raise awareness of the dangers of road rage and spread a little extra Aloha on your drive home today.

25 Pranks to Become a Certified “April Fool”

The first day of April, not a legal holiday, but who can resist the fun of a little tease or prank just one day out of the year? This silly tradition has been around for centuries, with the first recorded account in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, dating back to 1392. Some countries end the fun at the noon hour – after that you’d be considered an “April Fool” for trying! Thankfully, in the U.S. we can act silly all day long, so why not start extra early this year…like 3:00 a.m. (Check out prank numbers 12 & 13.)

Simple Decorating Tips From a Not-So-Professional Home Decorator

No, I’m not trying to scare off readers with the title of this article – I just want to be real clear in case my advice doesn’t work out so well and moms everywhere come looking for me, yikes. So, now that you’ve been warned, feel free to read on!

Fall. Though our long, lovely days are growing shorter they still pose ample opportunity for several quick but beautiful alterations to your home’s appearance. Take advantage of the still-warm weather, leisure time and kids that are back in school.

A quick way to liven up a room is by adding some color. Many decorators suggest combining colors opposite each other on the color wheel. I use a variety of greens in our home and have accents in red, rusty reds and oranges. I throw in a teal here and there to bring it all together. Sounds funky, right? Done the right way, I think almost any scheme can be successful. Just remember – it has to be what YOU like, so do it your way and don’t be afraid to break the rules because there are no rules, just guidelines to help you along the way.

Choose your colors
I suggest starting with one color you love. For me, this would be a shade of green. Find your color the wheel. Take a look at the colors next to your choice – these “next to” colors will always accompany nicely because they coordinate and match. Sounds easy, but here’s the tricky thing…if all your colors coordinate perfectly, you may be loosing some of the possible effect. Most rooms will have a better overall look if there is an opposite color splash – to keep it interesting.

Blend appropriately
With green, I choose to blend olive and a bit of blue-green or teal. Then I look directly across the color wheel for some splash inspirations. With the shades of green I’ve chosen, I prefer a rusty red or the red-orange. This color pairs well with reds and oranges, so I shop with that in mind.

Don’t skip the neutrals
Neutral colors can be thought of as a clean slate – something to work with, not around. I like to have most of my wall space in a neutral shade and vary the shades for depth – then, I can add color as I please. An example of using neutrals includes the ability to add a dramatic paint accent – applied to a small portion of the room – over a fireplace, on a dividing wall or any space providing simple paint boundaries in a small area (too big and it won’t be an accent.) Talk with a paint store consultant for suggestions on the best shade of paint for you needs.

I prefer neutral furniture as well as walls…some dark, some light. That way, I can switch up my color craze as the times and trends change and won’t have to spend a fortune on staying in “the now” with our large purchases. Throw pillows are more affordable than loveseats and couches.

However, we have inherited a good amount of furniture, and I’ve discovered that if you wait long enough, the style might come back around, wink.

Grab a Magazine
Nope, not time for a break yet. We’re going to use some examples to formulate a plan. Sometimes I think I know what I want to do but then I see it in a magazine – or see something better – and realize I was all wrong. So, find some looks you like and use that as a framework for what you’ll do with your colors.

Use what you already own
Now that you have your colors and a guideline for the type of look you’re going for, shop at home…where everything is FREE! Some of my ideas…

~ fabric or an old quilt to be reworked into a pillow or table runner

~ old photos in storage to make a collage…scan and print in sepia or black and white

~ a large, odd item that might work with the new look

~ glass vase to be filled with wine corks, rocks, flower petals, colorful candy

~ things to be painted: planters, storage containers, rugs, frames, wall hangings

After shopping at home, shop at your neighbor’s homes #yardsales. Don’t forget to check out off-retail shops, and then, if you see something you love in the mall, you’ll have the extra cash to get it. I love a designer look but not the price tag.

Add foliage
Everything looks better with a touch of green…and I’m not just saying this because it’s my primary decorating color of choice. I’m certainly not an expert on Fung Shui, or any decorating theories for that matter, but I do like the way the Fung Shui system of aesthetics pulls a mix of nature indoors.

For extreme simplification: add plants to your decor. To prove I’m not certified: use fake ones too – honestly, we’re moms, and keeping our children, spouse, and a pet(s) alive is a lot of work – we can’t expect to have a house full of living plants, beautiful yard, garden and potted flowers too, whew. So, absolutely, add a lovely, fake plant of your choice…and if you mix it in with living ones, people might not even notice. It’s a great way to brighten a dark corner or add flair to an otherwise plain overhead space.

Transition the look
I love to see a home with an assortment of color usage. Each room can have it’s own, individual look…but it helps to transition. The way I do this: I choose “across from” colors as my main choices – when the rooms are visible from one to the other. I then select “next to” colors from the wheel to transition. The transition colors are the colors I choose to be in sight when standing in one room, looking into the next.

The “reds” room in our home has red-orange visible from the “greens” room. So, when a visitor comes to the front door, they can peer in and see the “greens” transition into the “reds” room with the help of the red-orange accents (curtains and throw pillows.) The deep red color splash atop the fireplace mantle is not visible until entering the “reds” room. A teal potted plant is also used as a transition item – it sits atop a half-wall between our “greens” room and our “reds” room. The teal planter is visible from both rooms and moves one from the “reds” into the “greens” nicely.

With all that being said, hard to believe there are no rules, right? Just remember that you and your family have to like it and that’s what matters most. Enjoy the time decorating together…and laughing when it doesn’t work out quite right.

-Jaime

The Gifts Teachers Really Want

It’s that time of year again, when children pack up their desks, say goodbye to friends and give a final farewell before springing into a summer of endless sunshine and fun…followed by dog days of summer, indoor air conditioning, boredom and whining.

And that’s when we gain a true appreciation for our children’s teachers!

10 Fun Things To Do Your Leftover Halloween Candy…

OK, so apparently some people actually have this problem because I was asked to write a little something on this delicious Halloween dilemma of what to do with all your soon-to-be-leftover candy.

When I did a little research on the topic (yep, I researched it too) I realized it’s a rather common occurrence…one of life’s sweetest mysteries. Now, I’m not sure what the problem is at our house – maybe my children neglect to collect an adequate amount of sucrose, fructose and glucose in arrays of shapes, colors and flavors – but I don’t think that’s it because we seem to have loot-a-plenty. Maybe a leaky Halloween bucket or Bermuda Triangle looming near the candy dish, but we have a way of making our stash disappear quickly.

Want to update your home for a fraction of the cost? Upcycle DIY!

During a recent trip, I had the opportunity to assist with a renovation project of an historical Hawaiian cottage-style home in the town of Kailua on the island of Oahu. This style of home, common to the area, originated in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, making these homes a perfect candidate for a modern-day makeover.

Update Your Home for Less

Aging structures, endearing to the land; these homes capture a unique essence of the island. Similar to older homes in Colorado, the ambiance created with the notable architecture is irreplaceable – making a complete overhaul of the structureless desirable, particularly in the sake of prosperity. To preserve these cultural landmarks, we chose to upcycle only necessary conveniences and leave much of the original appeal remaining.

We began with the bathroom, comprised primarily of original materials, as the bathroom sink faucet was only partially functional. With the demolition of the sink underway, a rustic masterpiece unfolded. The exposed pipes that had been masked by large counter were exquisitely aged with artistically placed rust and stain. A wood-paneled backdrop was ideal for the effortlessly quaint scene. It was a picture painted by time, a story passed through generations.

The sanding and staining of an old wooden door would soon be the foundation for the recycled porcelain sink – which was fetched from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Honolulu. Corroded pipes were replaced with new parts, and the damaged floor (hidden for decades beneath blue and yellow floral tile) was repaired and again concealed with a layer of laminate tile.

Several miscellaneous parts, tools and paint were thrown into the mix. After several days, hours of labor and insurmountable creativity; this small, Hawaiian cottage bathroom was transformed into an upcycled centerpiece of preserved history (including a trendy, mod-industrial flair).

ReStore Reused Sink = $40
Upcycled Door for Counter Top = $0
Updated Laminate Floor Tile = under $15sink

With the use of recycling, upcycling and resourcefulness of on-site supplies, the entire project came in well under $100. A do-it-yourself project in the name of historical sustainability.

====If you’re working on your own upcycle DIY, Colorado has over 20 ReStores where you can donate or purchase new and used building materials at affordable prices–everything from appliances to paint to rugs, lighting, furniture flooring and more.

Parenting a Digital Native #Generation

Digital Natives…they’re children born after the year 2000, thrust into a culture immersed in computerization, dripping with technification (that’s a technical term, obviously). Having experienced only a life absorbed in the digital revolution, these children – *our* children – possess a unique understanding, a specialized OS if you will, of the world in which they live.

#generation, Net Generation, Millennial Generation and Generation Z may all be fitting terms for the cohort of people considered to be born digital. The level of understanding in digital technology and UX for these children is as looking through a lens – a lens of relativism to the tune of Google Glass.

Born into cultural consumption, the metadata and memory management capabilities of GenZ have a type inference not coded in the minds of their parents. Our children see, hear and comprehend in ways that we, as digital immigrants, have never had the opportunity to experience. The gap between digital natives and digital immigrants can be narrowed with our efforts to speak the language, but with roots in the pre-digital age, immigrants face the struggle of understanding second language practicalities from a foreign standpoint.

The level of understanding in digital technology and UX for these children is as looking through a lens – a lens of relativism to the tune of Google Glass.

One of my favorite demonstrations of information age interaction is the YouTube video of a digital native toddler attempting to swipe a traditional magazine. Clearly, her view of the world around her is consumed by her exposure to digital technology. She even tests her finger against her leg for stylus functionality when it fails to activate touchscreen capabilities on the print page. Her world embraces technology in a way that ‘phone is to wall as computer is to desk’ will be an absolute and incomprehendible reality in which innovation exceed constraints. All this will be made increasingly possible with little brains wired to create just such.

Early exposure to technology may fundamentally alter the ways in which people learn, but the ability to become increasingly tech savvy remains quite attainable. As parents to digital natives, I believe we should jump in feet first, seeking to understand this young culture. Our contribution is invaluable, yet the innate knowledge of our children has potential to spark future modernism in ways we simply can’t imagine…and certainly can’t ignore. Adoption of digital technology and an increased conception of human-computer interaction are a couple of ways digital immigrants can begin to see things through the eyes of a child…a digital native that is.

 

 

Five Healthy Halloween Treats for Kids

Zombie Repellent and a Recipe for a Healthy Halloween

 

As a dedicated trick-or-treat bag enthusiast (gratis my two kiddos), I know first-hand how tricky it really is to stay healthy this time of year. Thing is, treats don’t have to be unhealthy to be creepilcious. So, with the help of Pinterest and a few creative spins on some spooktacular ideas, I’ve come up with a list of top edible haunts for this Halloween.

Trick your little creatures with these five Treats

5. Creepy Crudité

Fresh veggies and a nutritious dip and voila!

Emotional Intelligence (EI)…tips for success in modern parenting

Emotional Intelligence (EI) It’s a bit of a modern buzz word; particularly as we move further into a world dominated by the ease of accessibility to ones and zeros. As a recent Chicago Tribune article explained, “In brief, the growing interest in emotional intelligence stems from a slow-but-steady recognition that the people who inhabit office spaces are, in fact, human beings.”

The interesting thing is that while the workplace may be the focus for many studies, home life is also impacted by EI, as it applies to the entire family culture. The inability to not only understand one’s personal feelings and corresponding reactions, but how these actions could affect others (particularly in the wake of a personal emotional response,) is essential in creating a happy, healthy home life.

Device Vice? A panel discussion you won’t want to miss…

Five more minutes. It’s all I need to wrap up that last thing I’m working on. Publish and…ugh, ok, just five more.

As a woman – and mom – both working and continuing my education in the field of technology, I find it difficult to strike a healthy balance between my relationships and the world behind the screens of the many devices filling – often flooding – our homes in this digital age. I absolutely love the fact that I can learn new tricks and tips from my small digital natives, but I do find it challenging to pull everyone away and achieve true, quality (device not included) family time.

So, when I saw that Douglas County Library was hosting a panel discussion on navigating family through an increasingly technologized world, I knew I had to attend. This series will include distinguished guests discussing pop culture, buzz topics and vital concerns – all on the dynamics of technology as it relates to families, daily lives, relationships and our futures.

If you’d like to attend: