Sitting in the Lap of Luxury

The lap of luxury as defined by The Free Dictionary is “a freedom from financial difficulty that promotes a comfortable state.”  Some of us are able to live in the lap of luxury and others are only able to have a few moments there.

Regardless, where is your lap of luxury?  Is it cooking or baking in your state of the art kitchen?  Is it sitting in your own backyard paradise?  Or maybe for you it is sitting in a massage chair having a pedicure while listening to your favorite music or visiting with your friends.

As an office we have been reading Luxury World:  The Past, Present and Future of Luxury Brands by  Mark Tungate.  A couple of things struck me as they discussed luxury and its forms.  First, a representative from Bentley Motors defined luxury as not something one can necessarily afford but as something one feels they deserve.  I think we can all relate to that idea.  After a long hard week of work or reaching a goal that we have strived for most of us will do something to treat ourselves that may not necessarily be in the budget.

The other point that struck me that I believe most of us can relate to is that in this busy world time has become a luxury.    How I crave to sit on the couch and read a book without falling asleep.  However, my daughters, their activities, my commitments, and housework begging to be done after a day of work deny me this luxury.  Or how about quality time with friends and family simply enjoying each other’s company?  I’m not sure if my daughters enjoy it more or if I do, but the simple joy of them crawling into my lap is a luxury I will too soon miss.

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Contributed by Amber Fasig. All images are the author’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day Memories

Memorial Day weekend has become the time when many celebrate the start of summer & a long weekend with barbecues, picnics, and general fun-in-the-sun, ready to leave the cool, drizzly weather of spring behind. Amidst all the holiday sales, parties, pool openings, and other distractions, the true meaning of Memorial Day has gotten lost in the buzz. Memorial Day started shortly after the Civil War, when survivors remembered those who fell on the battlefields by decorating their graves & hosting parades in their honor. It wasn’t until the 1970s – nearly 100 years later – that Memorial Day became the holiday it is now.

Memorial Day weekend is especially dear to me because it is the weekend my family hosts its annual reunion – a gathering steeped in a tradition that spans generations. My parents took me to my first one at the age of 8, and I expected it would be much like the family reunions my friends’ families had: everyone meets at a park, they grill out & eat burgers with potato salad, and then the kids run around and play while the grown-ups mingle & chat.

I should have known ours would be different.

papa bear

I mean really, when your dad looks like this, you should learn to expect the unexpected.

I should have known ours would be different when my dad insisted we make the 7-hour drive from our home in Dayton, Ohio to Crossville, Tennessee in the middle of the night so we could make it in time for breakfast. I was plugged into my Walkman headphones, probably listening to New Kids on the Block & wondering why breakfast was such a big deal. I mean, milk & cereal or eggs & bacon weren’t that exciting, right? (It turns out, breakfast was a big deal because my great-uncle Burl made the meanest biscuits & gravy in Cumberland county.)

I should have known ours would be different when we pulled up to Uncle Burl’s modest clapboard house at 6:00 a.m. & discovered that he didn’t just have breakfast ready for me, Mom & Dad, but rather a pile of hot biscuits & pot of steaming sausage gravy big enough to feed us, his wife Mattie Mae, my multitude of cousins (Cody, Gary, Rachel, and who knows who else), their parents, my great-uncle Fred, and anyone else who happened by. With leftovers to spare.

I should have known ours would be different when we bought ornate flower arrangements at the flea market that Saturday morning, then drove from cemetery to cemetery, replacing faded blooms with our fresh displays & sticking small American flags into the soil by the graves of our family’s soldiers. Dad narrated as we went along – “This right here is the grave of your great-great…and this was his wife…and their son fought in World War I….”

uplifting msg

“And this is the grave of the family optimist!”

I should have known ours would be different when I woke up in the guest bedroom of Uncle Burl’s house the morning of our reunion & he wasn’t making breakfast in the kitchen.

I should have known ours would be different when I sleepily made my way to the front porch & saw him slicing lemons into a Styrofoam cooler while Uncle Fred dumped in a 5-pound bag of sugar & my dad held a running garden hose, the water filling the cooler at a slow, steady pace.

I should have known ours would be different when I asked them, “What are you doing?” and Uncle Burl answered in his thick, throaty southern accent, “Makin’ lemonade.”

I really should have known.

But it wasn’t until we drove down the shady, winding road to our reunion that I fully grasped just how different our reunion was. For one, the road we drove down was named after us.

pugh cem rd

Hey! That’s my name!

And, most tellingly of all, my dad parked our enormous blue Cadillac Fleetwood not in front of a sunny park with swing sets & charcoal grills, but instead in front of, well, this:

decorated

Yes. That’s a cemetery.

What is going on here?! I thought, slightly panicked. Instead, I asked my dad, “Where are we?”
“This is our family cemetery,” Dad said proudly, waving at people walking by carrying covered dishes & buckets of fried chicken.
“Why are we here?”
“This is where the reunion is. We get to eat, then hang out with our ancestors.”
He’s making fun of me! I thought and flopped back in the seat. “I am not eating in a cemetery! That’s gross,” I said, with the kind of defiance that only a preteen girl can muster.
“OK, but your mom & I are getting out & taking the keys with us,” Dad replied, opening his car door.
Sigh. “FINE.”

I reluctantly got out of the car & saw at least 4 full-size picnic tables set up just outside the cemetery gates, covered with delicious food – chicken & dumplings, potatoes, biscuits, cakes, pies, and puddings – with the Styrofoam cooler perched at the end of one of them, people already eagerly ladling lemonade into disposable plastic cups. “You gotta get some before it’s all gone!” Cody said as he rushed by to get his cupful.Well, I guess I’ll try some…I took a sip from Dad’s cup, and then immediately joined the throng of my chatting, back-slapping kin around the cooler.

It is still the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted.

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And don’t even get me started on the food.

food 1

Really – have you ever seen so many deviled eggs in one place?

I started to look forward to visiting my large, loud, strange family & spending the holiday weekend “eating with the dead” as my dad calls it. I learned to appreciate the utter weirdness of it all – from the tour d’ tombstones, right down to the hose-water lemonade. I looked forward to Uncle Burl & Uncle Fred’s stories, and was amazed by their youth & vigor, even as they aged well into their 80s. I remember the year Uncle Burl went hunting – with a crossbow! – and bagged a large wild boar that we later barbecued & ate, and I remember how Uncle Fred, a World War II vet, would give me a hug at the end of our visit, covertly stuffing a $10 bill & handful of Werther’s Originals into my hand as we embraced. Both men passed on a few years ago, but they never lost the spark in their eyes or the vitality with which they lived each day.

uncle fred

Uncle Fred at one of his last reunions.

I won’t be at the reunion this weekend – it’s a bit tougher to get from Seattle to Crossville than it is to make the trip from Dayton to Crossville – but I’ll make it back someday, and I can’t wait to once again see this sign & drink some delicious lemonade.

pugh cem


All pictures are the author’s own & may not be used without permission.

Contributed by Renee Pugh.
ReneeWeb

 

 

Happy Holidays, From RSVP!

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Warm holiday greetings, from our family to yours! We appreciate your continued support & look forward to serving all of your advertising needs in 2015. Please note that our offices will be closed both tomorrow, Wednesday Dec. 24th & Thursday Dec. 25 to allow our employees to celebrate with their families. We will re-open at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 26th. Until then, have a safe & joyous holiday!


Contributed by the RSVP Staff
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Families & Communication Breakdowns

Am I the only one who asks my child, “What happened at school today?” only to get a disinterested “Nothing” in response?  Or have a spouse who responds to “How was your day?” with “Fine,” or “It was OK”?

Doesn’t it seem like everyone around us is always rushing off to their myriad of electronic devices: TVs, Play Stations, and smartphones?

We all lead busy lives, and the snippets of conversation we do manage to have – before and after school, or wedged in between activities and homework, or during mealtimes –  can suffer from the halfhearted participation and inattentiveness of all parties. What can we do to rebuild our broken communication systems? How can we make good old-fashioned conversation more appealing than the constant distractions that surround us?

I’ve asked a few friends and colleagues.  They admit that they are facing the same communication hurdles in their own families. Who can we turn to when we can’t find the answers we need?

© 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

Ah, yes. Of course! © 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

When all else fails: Google it.

If the volume of expert advice out there is any indication, my family must not be the only one struggling with a communication problem! I found some great suggestions, and here is what our family has implemented:

art of manliness

  • But what do you say once you’re gathered around the dinner table? Aha! Parenting suggests asking nonjudgmental questions that require real answers. Questions such as “What was the best thing about school today?,” “Do the kids at school ever talk about boyfriends and girlfriends?,” “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” or “How did the soccer game go at recess?” will get you a lot further than “What happened at school today?”
  • Parents Magazine suggests some other conversation starters, as well as helpful do’s and don’ts, such as: “Do allow your child to say he just doesn’t feel like talking, but don’t let him get away with ignoring you…Don’t barrage your child with questions if you notice she’s getting anxious or seems distressed.” Following these tips will help prevent communication shut-downs.
  • Who doesn’t love a compliment?  Feeling trusted and appreciated helps everyone feel more open to talk.  Every night, our family plays a little game we made up called “What We Love About Each Other.” Each family member takes a turn complimenting another. While these comments are admittedly superficial at times, there are also heartfelt thanks peppered throughout. Sometimes it will be simple – “I love your shirt!” – and other times it will be deeply emotional, like when someone recognizes a sweet gesture or little act of service that happened to them that day. This little activity makes us want to do more nice things for one another!
  • Our son is just 5 years old, and I live in terror of the day I wake up to a teenager. I can only imagine the struggle conversation becomes with teenagers. Yet, talking is never more necessary and the topics never more urgent than during the teen years: friends and peer pressure, driving and responsibility, dating and boundaries, college and independence, drugs and drinking. As a parent, you never want to see your kids in trouble or suffering – but one or the other (and sometimes both!) will happen to our teens. The best way to prevent or minimize this pain – for both you and your teen – is simply by engaging in open and honest communication with them. Check out this list of 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids From Doing Dumb Things, and offer your teen the support he or she needs to make good decisions.

I hope that our family is setting a good foundation for open, healthy conversations – and I hope that perhaps a few of these tips will start similar conversations in your house, too.


Google logo © 2012 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.
Ronald Reagan picture & quote from http://content.artofmanliness.com/uploads//2014/04/ReaganQuote.jpg

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
Heather

Why Do We Celebrate the 4th with Fireworks?

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Christmas has presents, Thanksgiving has a turkey, and Halloween has costumes.  Each holiday we celebrate has its own tradition.  So why does the Fourth of July have fireworks?  Why don’t we hold parties to knit American Flags instead?

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John Adams, 2nd President

Although the Fourth of July didn’t become an official holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the signing of The Declaration of Independence, we can thank the second President of the United States, John Adams, for the suggestion of how Americans should celebrate the fourth.  Around 1817, Adams wrote about The Fourth of July:

 “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”  He went on to write, “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…

Declaration of Independence Soon after The Declaration of Independence was conceived in 1776 by our founding fathers, it was read publicly, and supporters of the War of Independence erupted in cheers and celebrations.  In 1777 in Philadelphia those celebrations were done with ringing bells, guns fired, and firecrackers.  However with the country in its infancy at that time, Fourth of July celebrations were not common.  It took Adams’ writings almost a century later, along with the re-circulation of the signed declaration throughout the nation, to jump-start the traditions of the Fourth of July.

The original, smaller celebrations in the 1770’s, and the later, more formal celebrations were separated by so many years, yet it seems we were destined to celebrate the Fourth of July with spectacular explosions of some type.

So while you are enjoying fireworks this Fourth of July take a moment to remember those founding fathers who took enormous risk in declaring our independence and how that has shaped the United States into the greatest country in the world.  But also take a moment to thank John Adams for prompting Americans to celebrate our freedoms and liberties in the loudest and proudest way possible.  Without that we might be celebrating The Fourth of July in silence.

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Jeff

Shout out to Cincinnati!

I am very proud to oversee the prospecting here at RSVP in our Cincinnati, Ohio zone. Of course we love all of our zones (all 12 of them!) but Cincinnati will always be very special to me. I was born and raised here in Dayton, but I have considered Cincinnati to be my home away from home. Surprisingly enough I traveled there a lot while I attended the University of Dayton. Sometimes my roommates and I would need to get away from it all, and Cincinnati was just close enough to take a day trip. I was fortunate to have one of my roommates from there so she knew all the hot spots.

One of the many things I love about Cincinnati is their beautiful parks. Most of the parks in the area are free to AultParkexplore and even have events and activities in the summer. Ault, Eden, Hyde Park are just to name a few of the many  that are located in the city, all of them unique. My favorite is probably Ault Park. It isn’t the biggest of the parks and it doesn’t have any restaurants or shops. It does have a large overlook that is fun to climb. I think it is one of the most beautiful places.

CinciSubwayStationThe city of Cincinnati is  full of history. Did you know that during the 1800’s Cincinnati was actually considered one of the top ten most populous cities in the country? It’s true! Also, the growth rate during the end of the 1800’s was compared to New York City and Chicago. Wikipedia says that “6 million dollars was going to go towards a Rapid Transit system similar to Boston and Chicago.” In today’s numbers, that would be like us spending nearly $74 million on it!  City Council delayed progress on the terminal because WWII had started. After the war the estimation of how much it would cost to finish the subway had almost doubled. The stock market soon hit which made it even harder for the subway to get completed.

Unfortunately the subway never did get completed, but I have faith that one day Cincinnati will have an active subway station that will be a wonderful addition to the city. Until then, twice a year the Cincinnati Museum center and the Over the Rhine Foundation operate tours through the historic tunnels. I haven’t been yet, but it is definitely on my list.

Most recently Cincinnati has been the host to a few big named celebrities. Cate Blanchett has been spotted in the city filming the movie Carol and also Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor will be in the city to shoot a film about jazz musician Miles Davis. If you’re in the city keep an eye out and you just might run into them or get to be an extra in one of the movies??? Okay that might be a little much, but still very exciting to look out for while walking around downtown.

With the summer coming soon, take some time to visit a new city. Whether it is Cincinnati or just a place you’ve wanted to visit for a long time; even if it’s just a short car ride away. Wander around the parks and explore a little of the city’s history. You will be glad you did!

Happy exploring!

Contributed by Crista Kling.

 

Crista

 

 

 

Perspective from “the New Guy”

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Being a recent graduate of Centerville High School has been an accomplishment and success.  I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in marketing at The University of Cincinnati.  I felt that the co-op program at Cincinnati offered me the best chance for success in the “real world.”  Having completed my freshman year at The University of Cincinnati, I feel as if I learned a good amount of information about not only marketing, but business in general.

I have just recently started working at RSVP this summer.  Working at RSVP will be a great opportunity to contribute to this business, develop practical real-world experience, further myself in my long-term job search and enhance my resume this summer.  It has been my first real job in the career path that I have chosen.  As I started working at RSVP, I felt as if I needed to prove myself to my fellow employees and demonstrate that just because I am the boss’ son, I can “bust it” and earn their respect in the office.  I have started working part-time, with my first of several assignments being converting hundreds of businesses paper files to our new paperless database.

While I am converting files, I feel that being the new intern with a fresh set of eyes in the business, I can offer new ideas to the company, and more efficient ways to do daily tasks.  Even though I lack experience in the workplace, I feel that I can make up for it in creative and new ideas, and energy and passion for life.

Being “the new guy” allows me to be in a position where I can challenge and inspire myself and others to excel, while simultaneously generating new ideas and process improvements for the RSVP business.  That is a perspective that I have now, and hope to maintain throughout my career.

Contributed by:
Anthony J. Sucato
University of Cincinnati
Carl H. Lindner College of Business

 

AnthonyWeb

Creating a Fun {and inexpensive} Summer To-Do List!

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Every summer, as the school doors open and close for the last time, every family wonders the same exact thing, “What are we going to do with our kids for the WHOLE summer?!”

For the past two summers, my family has created a “Summer To-Do List,” and I thought I would share with you some of our favorite no-cost ideas that our kids look forward to doing every summer.

~ Jump in puddles! My children LOVE to run outside after a storm (once all the lighting and thunder has passed, of course) and jump in the puddles and splash around!

~ Catch some fireflies! This is something that I loved to do as a child, and I have passed my love of this to my children. We love to run outside at night and count how many fireflies we can catch and watch glow in our hands.

~ Go for a hike! We like to call them “Adventure Walks” where we count how many different flowers and birds we can find along the way.

~ Have a picnic! Why eat inside on a beautiful day when you can throw down a blanket (preferably in the shade) and eat outside.

~ Build a worm farm! This might be geared towards boys, but who doesn’t love digging in the dirt and finding some worms?

~ Splash Park! If you are lucky enough to live near a splash park then make sure to make use of it! On a hot summer day, this is a great way for your kids to cool off and have fun!

~ Go to the library! In addition to all the wonderful books to choose from, most libraries also have DVDs and video games you can rent for no charge.

~ Go fishing! Go ahead – grab your fishing pole and bait and head to the closest pond and try your luck at catching dinner!

~ Lemonade Stand! What better way to entertain the kids and have them earn a little bit of spending money? The kids will love creating and decorating the stand, and also have a blast serving the best summer refreshment to friends and neighbors!

These are just some of the fun activities you can do with your family this summer. What memories will you add to this list during the summer of 2014?

 

Contributed by Marcella Gillespie

Marcella