Letting Go: Sending Your Child Off to College

Guest post by Kalpana Krishna-Kumar, Project Specialist – Broker Platforms at Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Open confession – I have a problem with letting go – of any kind – people, places and things! I spoke about letting go ofmy country of birth in an earlier blog post about relocating to America. Another huge event in my life was letting go ofmy first-born – sending him off to college. It really was a watershed time in my life. I still remember walking away fromhim, thankful that my husband and daughter walked right next to me because I could not see anything in front of methrough the curtain of tears that simply would not stop. The next month felt like, felt like, felt like…. Remember DianeKeaton’s crying scene from the movie Something’s Gotta Give? That was me – except I was crying because I had sent offmy baby into the wilderness called LIFE. But since I am here to tell the story, it behooves that I survived! It wasn’t easy,but I did do a few things that helped me through it. Here’s a peek:

Talking helps

I talked to as many people that would suffer me and as many times as I needed. Jokes apart, I spoke to family, friends, and other parents who had done this before me and those that were going through it. I realized,

  • I was normal
  • I was not alone and I had awesome friends and family who reached out to me with their experiences and those I could reach out to.
  • I was not the first mom or the last to send her “baby” off to college.
  • It really is the Circle of Life! I had to move on. I could not continue to live under the cloud – a realization I had, thanks to those who whined longer, louder and shriller than me – Gosh, I could not be the one inflicting that on others.
  • Time is a great healer

Comfort in Routine

It was important for us to continue the family routines that we had before my son left. For instance, family dinner continued to be at the dining table sans electronic devices and TV. In addition, keeping an open channel of communication with the college-bound was paramount. So a call or text from him became part of our routine. I am eternally grateful that my son was good about staying in touch – not only in the first month but throughout his college years. Though it did not take too long to adjust to the low volume of laundry or dirt that was dragged through the house, it did take me much longer to adjust to cooking for just one less person. However, routine was a great healer, as was time (by Thanksgiving, my son was back with his load of laundry).

There isn’t a child who hasn’t gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn’t ad carrying a bundle of dirty clothes. ~Art Buchwald

Shift Focus

The months (and perhaps couple of years) leading to this …read more

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September brings a new garden season

Grab a cup of coffee and head out on an early morning stroll to study your garden’s strengths and weaknesses.

Water-loving plants include spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.), swamp lily (Crinum americanum), water cannas, cyperus, variegated sweet flag (Acorus), Louisiana iris, thalia, yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus), noninvasive varieties of taro (Colocasia spp.) and pickerel rush (Pontederia cordata).

Mowing days are winding down, but keep an eye out for brown patch, a fungal disease that can be treated with horticultural cornmeal.

Start a compost pile with grass clippings, fallen leaves and kitchen scraps (except meat).

Water newly planted seeds and transplants with a rain wand to avoid disturbing plants with shallow root systems, Richter advises.

Mulch to conserve soil moisture, keep roots cooler and discourage weeds.

Add 2-3 inches of leaves or dried grass clippings, or 1 inch of compost around annuals, herbs and vegetables.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of granulated sugar and stir until dissolved.

Nectar plants include Turk’s cap, hamellia, shrimp plant, firespike, salvias, lobelia (cardinal flower), Mexican oregano, Pride of Barbados, flame acanthus and cuphea. …read more

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Garden calendar grows with fall programs

First Tuesday Master Gardener Lecture – Growing Pollinators: with beekeeper Jeff McMullan. 11:30 a.m. hamburger lunch, noon program at Harris County AgriLife Extension Service, 3033 Bear Creek; 281-855-5600, tamu.edu/public.

Garden Master Class: identifying trees and shrubs, planting, watering, nutrition, amending soils and mulches; first of four Thursday classes with horticulturist Linda Gay. 9 a.m.-noon at VFW Post 4709, 1303 Semands, Conroe; gardenclasses4@gmail.com. $25.

The Endangered Houston Toad: with Cassidy Johnson of the Houston Zoo, part of Coastal Prairie Chapter – Texas Master Naturalists meeting. 7 p.m. at Bud O’Shieles Community Center, 1330 Band, Rosenberg; 281-633-7033, mmcdowell@ag.tamu.edu.

With Tony Avent, founder of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery, in Raleigh, N.C., presented as part of Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens’ Distinguished Lecture Series. 6:30 p.m. at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive; 713-639-4629, hmns.org/lectures. $12-$18.

Harris County Precinct 4 will provide free round-trip transportation from Mercer to the lecture for ages 50 and older; reservations, 281-443-8731.

In Search of Overlooked and Exceptional Native Plants: with Tony Avent, founder of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, N.C. 10 a.m. at Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, 22306 Aldine Westfield; 281-443-8731, hcp4.net/mercer. $12 for Mercer Society members, $18 for nonmembers.

Saturday With the Fort Bend Master Gardeners: 9-11 a.m. in the vegetable and ornamental Demonstration Gardens at the Fort Bend County AgriLife Extension Service, 1402 Band, Rosenberg; 281-341-7068, fbmg.com. …read more

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5 Ways to Get Out the Door on Time

One of the hardest parts of getting into the Back to School swing is getting used to the routine, especially the early mornings. Here are 5 ways to getting out the door on time.

1. Prep the Night Before – There is just something about mornings that spells frantic rush! Avoid the morning battle by preparing as much as you can the night before. Assemble lunches, lay out clothes, pack backpacks, and even prep breakfast. Why spend a few minutes making the coffee in the morning when you can program the coffee maker the night before? The less on your to do list in the a.m., the better!

2. Make a Family Calendar – Use a shared calendar application, or post a family calendar in a place where everyone can view it. For even better organization, assign each family member a color. Having everyone’s activities and commitments in one place makes planning infinitely easier.

3. Assign”Catch All” baskets – Assign each family member a “catch all” basket in the entryway or mud room. Whenever you collect something you’ll need to remember in the morning (a signed permission slip, sports equipment for tomorrow’s game, itinerary for tomorrow’s business trip) drop it in the basket. It will make getting out the door in the morning much easier. No more running around the house to find what you need! Best of all, you’ll avoid the dreaded “I forgot (fill in the blank) at home” feeling.

4. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! – You know the saying “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for the day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”? Well, this applies to many aspects of life. It may take a few extra minutes in the beginning, but teaching your children to pitch in where they can, can save everyone time in the long run. Depending on the age of the child, choose one or two tasks that he can handle on his or her own. It may be as simple as letting your child choose what to wear. Perhaps your seven year old can prep the breakfast table, or your ten year old can take the dog out.

5. Wake up earlier (sorry!) – We’d be remiss if we didn’t add this. The most obvious way to get out the door on time is to wake up earlier. If 20 minutes sounds like too much beloved sleep to give up, try setting the alarm earlier by smaller increments, say 5 minutes earlier each day. You’re less likely to feel the sting of the early wake up call if you make it a gradual process.

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Living Home and Going to College

I made the decision to change my status from a resident to a commuter student two weeks before my first year at college was set to start. The decision was easy and made with the help of my parents. Living at home with my family was natural to me and it seemed like the best decision. As I begin my senior year at school and reflect on my choice, I believe commuting the hour to campus was the right thing to do.

Most people question my decision and think that I’ve possibly deprived myself of the “complete college experience.” I can see where they’re coming from but choosing to stay home where I am most happy is something that I could never regret. The idea of missing almost 4 whole years worth of my brother and sister growing up is an overwhelming nightmare. And being around to help my parents whenever they should need it simply outweighs any social activities that college could offer me. Living at home while in college has also allowed me to focus all of my time on school during the week and leave me completely available for fun on the weekends.

Throughout the course of your life, you’re only home for a little while. Enjoying every moment I can with my loved ones is something that I know I will look back on fondly. You have your whole life to figure out adulthood and I enjoy milking the last of my adolescent privileges while I can. Home and the security of family is a true gift that I will continue to treasure for the rest of my life.

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Home Tip of the Day: Create a Kid’s Workspace

Is your dining table covered in math homework? Is it a struggle to find art supplies for that 6th grade science project?

Today’s Coldwell Banker Home Tip of the Day has your solution: create a dedicated kid’s workspace to give students an area all their own that they can use to complete homework and projects.

For more great home tips and tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location.

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Kid Friendly Work Spaces

Back to school season is in full swing which means lots of excitement and loads of homework. I’m not sure how things work in your household but growing up I remember the kitchen table was the hub of all excitement for my siblings and I.

Everything happened at the kitchen table, particularly homework. While it was fun to be around everyone and in the mix of everything going on it wasn’t the ideal work space to get school tasks done.

I have to admit, I did have a beautiful white wicker desk in my bedroom which would have been perfect for completing assignments but I almost never used it. My favorite spots were always either the table or my bed. My back always ached so badly when I would hover over my books in bed. Looking back I wish I had utilized that special work space more often but it’s too late now. The desk has been passed on to my younger sister.

Check out these awesome kid friendly work places that are great for intense study sessions and the like.

When kids have a work space of their own they can freely decorate it anyway they choose.

With a book shelf like this one, they (should) never lose track of their important reading materials again.

Not all work spaces need to be huge.


Reading is such an important part of education. This room was transformed into a mini home library.

This unique work space is right off of the bedroom.

This bedroom utilized extra space for a work area.

A work space that perfectly blends in with this room’s decor.

This kid’s bedroom has cute little bookshelves and a small desk.

cover by alamosbasement

To see more beautiful work spaces please check out our Pinterest page:
Follow Coldwell Banker’s board Libraries & Offices on Pinterest.

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Know the Pet Policy Before You Move into That NYC Apartment

If you’re a pet owner, a building’s pet policy is critical to you and your four-legged loved ones. When looking for an apartment in NYC, it’s better that you know what a building’s policy is regarding pets before you fall in love with it.

Mention your pet situation right away when looking for an apartment.

If you’re working with brokers, tell them right off the bat that you have a pet. Once brokers know what they’re working with, they won’t waste your time steering you toward buildings that have strict anti-pet policies. Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I just won’t say anything because I want to see everything that’s out there. Plus, when building management sees how incredibly adorable and brilliant Mr. Fluffy is, they just won’t be able to say no!” You’d be surprised how many landlords can, in fact, resist the cuteness.

Read your lease carefully — many leases include a standard “no pets” clause.

You may have found the apartment of your dreams. The landlord even assured you that you could bring Duke the Doberman to your new home, but when you checked over the lease after you moved in, you noticed that there was a clause forbidding pets. You can probably relax — most standard leases have “no pets” language written into them, and many landlords use these standard lease template forms. Just make sure to double-check with your landlord. You can ask the landlord to initial your lease, which will indicate that the landlord knows that you have a pet and is fine with it.

Did you sneak your pet in?

You may have heard of the three-month rule regarding having pets in a building. This “Pet Law” essentially states that if you’ve kept your pet “openly and notoriously” in your no-pets building for three months and the landlord hasn’t said anything to you about removing it from the premises, you will probably be allowed to keep your pet.

Still, honesty (with cash incentives) is the better policy.

You’ll experience far less stress if you’re totally honest with your landlord up front. Before you take the apartment, try to negotiate a pet deposit with your landlord. Agree to have the floors or any part of the apartment professionally repaired if they’re damaged by your pet, and make sure that agreement is spelled out in your lease. The landlord-tenant relationship should be one filled with kindness and respect on both sides. If you show that you respect the property, landlords will probably be a lot more willing to work with you on their pet policy.

Image Source: Flickr/Lon Martin

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College Students Swapping Dorms for Homes Purchased by Mom and Dad

UW-Madison campus

Do you ever secretly wish you could head back to college and re-live the good old days, maybe for just one semester? If it seems like college life is only getting sweeter, you may be right. On more and more college campuses, a few lucky students are ditching the crammed dorm life and tiny off-campus apartments for bigger digs – courtesy of mom and dad of course.

In a recent informal survey of its sales associates, Coldwell Banker found that more than one-third of agents across the country are seeing more buyers looking to purchase properties for their children now than in previous years. The reasons for the investment are varied – some are taking advantage of low prices and interest rates, while others are anticipating inventory may be scarce when their child enters school.

Ed Feijo, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Cambridge, Mass., has seen international buyers purchase homes for children as young as 14! No, these child prodigies are not yet at Harvard or MIT. But their parents certainly have high hopes, so they are determined to snatch up a desirable property while they can.

Whether you’re a parent looking to make an investment, or a student who wants to persuade mom and dad, here are some listings within a two mile radius of a few iconic college towns:

Cover image via wikimedia.org

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The Complete List of Important Questions to Ask A Contractor Before Hiring Them

When you set out to do a remodel, addition or other major home renovation, you will need a general contractor to oversee the work that needs to be done. Hiring a general contractor means getting the best person, and while there are many general contractors in your area, you will need to screen them.

Part of that screening process is asking the right questions and getting a sense of their work history and ethics. There are a lot of questions you could ask, but here are some of the essential ones:

What’s your business history?

Asking a contractor’s business history is one of most important steps to finding out more about the work they’ve done, how well they did it and if their past clients were satisfied. If they are unwilling to give you references or talk about their history, it’s a good indication you might look elsewhere.

Some follow-up questions to ask around this question include:

  • How many years have you been doing contractor work?
  • How many projects have you completed like mine in the last year?
  • Do you have a list of references I could call?
  • What kind of insurance do you have?
  • Are you licensed?
  • Do you carry worker’s compensation for your employees?
  • Do you have insurance in case something in my home is broken during the remodel or addition?
  • Will you sign a “time and materials” contract?
  • Do you often finish a project within the allotted time frame?

Who will be at the site and how will it be supervised?

Knowing who will be at your house every day during the renovation is important. You should know who they are, if the contractor will be there and any details about the team working on your home. For example, there might be a construction manager hired, which can cost between $3,200 and $4,400. It will depend on the extent of the project, and if the general contractor isn’t going to be the manager.

Some additional questions to ask:

  • Can I meet the job foreman or project manager, if there will be one for my project?
  • Will you be using any subcontractors on this project?
  • Who will be on the site every day during the project?
  • Will you be onsite every day or stopping by, and if the latter, how often?

Can you give me a timeline?

There should be a timeline for the project, so you know what to expect and when. Having a timeline will keep you aware of whether they’re behind or ahead of schedule. It will also let you know when you might need to be out of the house or specific rooms during the renovation.

You should ask the contractor:

  • What is our schedule?
  • Will this require a permit and who needs to pull them?
  • When will you start and finish?
  • What will be the start time and finish time every day?
  • Will you work seven days a week?
  • How will you communicate with me after hours?
  • How will I know when I need to make decisions?
  • What documents will I receive when the project is complete?

What guarantees can you give me?

Guarantees may or may not be part of the contract you …read more

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