Monthly Archives: August 2014

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 event was all about my son, college admissions, SAT, financial aid, dorm room shopping and more college stuff. There was much to be done and not enough time to do it. So when it all ended, the silence from the vacuum left behind was deafening. The elephant had left the room, but all of us were still side-stepping. So it became imperative that we all change our focus to life at hand. Here are the ones that saw us through the emotional times:

  • Our home: While my husband focused on DIY projects inside the house, I busied myself with the garden. Our home got a much-needed face lift and we were blessed with a beautiful garden that fall and following summer. It gave us tremendous satisfaction besides a constructive outlet to our emotions.
  • Our second child: She had all our attention now. The intensity wore off quickly as we backed away to an acceptable distance – letting her find her way through the maze of adolescence.
  • My career: With my son gone, I found the time to look outside my comfort zone and focus on my career – that has paid incredible returns.
  • We got a dog! Training and caring for the puppy was most therapeutic for the entire family.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?~Dr. Seuss

It’s time again for us to start preparing to send my daughter off to college now. Am I ready? By God – No! But I have the tools and the knowledge that “This too shall pass”! It is what my husband and I have worked for and wanted so much. I take comfort in the fact that we have done our job in imparting good values and life skills. It is now time for them to test drive what they have imbibed. This time around, my husband and I are looking ahead and preparing for the second journey.

I remember college being the happiest time of my life – where I made friends and memories, had heartbreaks and found my love, took life for granted and learned life lessons that I have never forgotten. I have to believe that the same lies ahead for my children and in the words of Lee Ann Womack – “I hope you dance”!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
~Dr. Seuss

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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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Work in the Financial District? Get Your Dream Commute

If you work in the Financial District, it’s very likely that you spend your days at one of the high-powered financial companies that make up a huge part of the DNA of this world-famous downtown NYC neighborhood. But whether you work in finance or some other demanding Financial District profession, it’s a safe bet that you’re going to want to avoid wasting a lot of time on your commute. Chances are, you’ll want to move to a transit-friendly NYC neighborhood that’ll get you to and from the office quickly, so you can spend more time at home decompressing from the day (even if your definition of decompressing involves sitting on your couch, continuing to work on your laptop in your PJs). Here are some great options.

Battery Park City

If you love city living but have fond memories of your life growing up in the ‘burbs (and wish you could inject some of that charm into your kids’ lives), you’ll probably love Battery Park City (BPC). A planned community birthed in the ’80s in the southeasternmost part of the city, BPC is born of this city and yet at times feels remarkably separate. The area is perfect for single folks and marrieds-with-children alike, with restaurants, shops, and services catering to all denizens of this neighborhood. Suburban feel or not, apartment prices reflect the location. Walking to work in the Financial District is a cinch.

Tribeca

Oh, to have a time machine; at one time in the not-too-distant past, Tribeca was ripe for the taking. Now for many people, it’s simply a nice place to visit. If you’ve got the bucks, Tribeca is a no-brainer when it comes to finding a home convenient to the Financial District. There’s no need to even hop on a subway here, since you’ll be such a short walk from work. With some of the best schools in the city, easy transit options at your doorstep, and a trillion New York Times–worthy bars, restaurants, and boutiques, Tribeca is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the world, let alone NYC. The prices for the palatial lofts here are some of the steepest in the borough, so unless you luck into some of the area’s stabilized housing, you’ll pay the price for living here.

Lower East Side

If you work dowtown but don’t have the cash for some of the pricier neighborhoods, the Lower East Side offers a relatively affordable alternative. It’s a very bikeable area, making it easy to keep in shape as you wheel back and forth to work every day. The F train stop is at East Broadway, while the F, J, M, and Z go to Essex and Delancey. Second Avenue folks can take the F, and anyone near Grand can hop onto the B and the D. These trains are all a direct stop or a transfer stop away from the Financial District. A diligent apartment hunter can find one-bedrooms for around $2000. The active club and restaurant scene make it a popular choice for single folks, while its quieter streets make it a nice neighborhood alternative for families hoping to stay in the city.

Image Source: Flickr/Brian Boyd

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Patio Grill Essentials for DFW Homeowners

Are you looking to create the perfect outdoor patio grill station? Whether you’re a casual griller or a grillmaster-in-the-making, everyone has to start with the basics. Here are all the essentials Metroplex homeowners will need to outfit your grilling station.

Choose the Right Grill

Your first step is to choose the type of patio grill you prefer. You have several options — charcoal, gas, electric, or wood-burning. Most experienced outdoor grillers can only agree on one thing: no one can decide which grill type is better. So to decide, think about your lifestyle and the types of uses you’ll have for your grill. Will you be entertaining often or only infrequently? Are you cooking for large groups or small gatherings? What types of food do you plan on cooking: simple hamburgers and hot dogs, or items that require more culinary finesse, like ribs, turkey, and seafood?

Chances are, your choice will come down to a gas grill or a charcoal grill:

  • A gas grill is considered easier to cook with, so that’s where many people start. This kind of grill will cook food faster and is easy to clean, but keep in mind that it may present some safety concerns, as it uses propane. If left on, it will continue burning until the fuel runs out.
  • A charcoal grill tends to offer better flavor and is cheaper in comparison with a gas grill, but it takes longer to heat and there’s more of an “art” to learning how to cook with it.

Grills have a wide price range — starting for as little as $50 (and under) for a small charcoal grill to thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line grill. Features can include rotisserie burners, built-in thermostats, side shelves, igniters, and vents and dampers to control the temperature.

Choose Your Location

Now that you’ve selected your grill, pick a safe location for it. It should be well ventilated and away from anything flammable, like decks, overhangs, and low-hanging branches.

Take a Grilling Class

If you’re a grilling novice, check your local area for a cooking class to teach you how to use your grill properly and safely, which will serve you better than trying to learn it through trial and error. There are also plenty of online resources. If you’re looking for expert tips on grilling, visit the Cooking Channel’s Grill Guide.

Must-Have Patio Grill Essentials

Once you’ve got your grill, you’re also going to want to stock up on accessories.

  • Meat thermometers
  • Skewers or shish kebab set
  • Basting brush
  • Fuel (e.g., charcoal, gas, lava rocks)
  • Grill brush
  • Heatproof spatulas, tongs, and barbecue forks
  • Ignition tool for gas grill like a chimney starter
  • Grill cover
  • Grilling basket (for veggies and other items)
  • Heat-resistant gloves or barbecue cooking mitts
  • Apron
  • Seasonings, spices, and meat rubs

Stay Safe While Grilling

When grilling, remember to put safety first. The best way to put out a grill fire is by closing the grill vents, which starves the flames of oxygen. (Be sure to use heavy-duty oven mitts when doing so!) Always have ready access to a water hose to douse escaping embers and a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency. But don’t use water to put out the grill — you’ll expose yourself to possible steam burns. Keep children and pets away from the grill while cooking. For more advice on patio grill safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website.

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be grilling like a pro in no time.

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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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10 Unique School Lunches

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Back to school season is here, which means the lunch box is back! We know it’s easy to get into a brown bag rut, so as part of Back to School Week on Blue Matter, we’ve compiled a list that is sure to give you some ideas beyond PB&J.

Here are 10 unique school lunches that think out side the (lunch) box!

The Elvis Burrito

The odd combination made famous by ‘The King’ is actually quite delicious. This fresh take on an old classic makes peanut butter, banana & bacon even more fun.

Sandwich Sushi

Make the ham and cheese sandwich fun again by rolling it out into sandwich sushi.

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Pizza Buns

This awesome idea combines pizza and cinnamon buns in the best way! Pop a pizza bun into your kids lunch for a sure hit.

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Build-You-Own Taco Cups

If your kids love to be independent, this is the perfect lunch to pack. Build-your-own tacos can be made by even the littlest hands.

lunch bento box

The Lunch (Bento) Box

This is perfect for little snackers. The lunch bento box gives plenty of options for those picky eaters.

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Banana Dolphin Snacks

Arent’ these the cutest?! These banana dolphin snacks are a creative healthy snack that will make you look like a rockstar class Mom.

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Mac n’ Cheese Pies

An old favorite gets a makeover. These mac n’ cheese pies are a great way to make the mac finger food.

Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Snack Packs

Opening “tupperware” has never been so fun! Your kiddos will love popping open these eggs for snack surprises. Fill the eggs with anything from baby carrots to crackers and mini sandwiches.

sandwich on a stick

Sandwich on a Stick

Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes and pile the sandwich ingredients on a skewer for a new way to display a turkey sandwich.

banana pbj dogs

PB & J “Dogs”

Hot diggity dog these are adorable! Peanut butter “mustard,” banana “hot dog” and strawberry jelly “ketchup” make for one creative frank!

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Washington Heights: A Neighborhood with Much to Love

Washington Heights is the brilliantly colorful upper Manhattan neighborhood that’s managed to maintain its diverse vibe while seamlessly integrating the many newcomers flocking to the area. While it hasn’t gone through the gentrification experienced throughout other parts of the city, it’s enjoyed its own form of urban renewal, and the neighborhood is a great option for people in search of more space.

Where It Is

Washington Heights is a narrow expanse of Upper Manhattan bordered by Harlem, Inwood, and the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. The Heights has its own distinct subregions, notably Hudson Heights, Fort Tryon, and Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson. The neighborhood is pretty hilly, offering spine-tingling views of New Jersey and the rest of Manhattan from different vantage points.

How to Get There

The A and C trains stop at the 155th Street, Amsterdam Avenue/163rd Street, and 168th Street stations. Once you’re on the train, it’s can be a solid 30-minute ride to midtown. Plenty of buses service the area as well, including the M2, M3, M4 and the M5.

The Community Feel

Washington Heights is often celebrated for its strong sense of community. If you’re looking for a close-knit neighborhood that manages to feel both connected to and yet separate from the rest of NYC, this area might be ideal for you. Once notoriously crime-ridden, Washington Heights has transformed into one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City. The area is chock-full of mom-and-pop shops, bargain shops, street vendors hawking every knickknack you could ever need, all contributing to its unique small-town-in-the-big-city vibe. People here are passionate about growing the community while taking care to preserve its identity. For example, when a pop-up bookstore made its debut, the community rallied to keep it open, underscoring the residents’ passion for coming together to bring and keep good things in this neighborhood.

The Housing Stock

The affordable housing stock is one of the area’s biggest draws, luring people with its attractive, livable housing options that don’t break the wallet. You can easily find two bedrooms for $2000 per month and less. Pre-war architecture lines Riverside Drive and other areas west of Broadway, while new buildings have sprung up throughout the area offering great amenities. If you want to see vintage architecture that will truly blow your mind and make you feel as if you’ve walked into the other side of the looking glass, check out the quaint, whisk-you-back-in-time mews of Sylvan Terrace, originally a carriage path that led to the famed Morris-Jumel Mansion.

Things to Do

The incredibly beautiful and architecturally stunning Cloisters museum is here, in Fort Tryon Park, offering residents and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy great art in a bucolic setting. Bennett Park is also here, the highest natural point in NYC. Grab a slice or three from George’s Pizza on your way home from work, and show off Manhattan’s oldest house to your parents when they’re in town.

Image Source: Flickr/Julia Manzerova

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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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