Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Random Thoughts by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

I think we’re overdue for a Random Thoughts post! Here’s what’s on my mind right about now.

– I arrived from the Hawaii birthday trip with Betty after midnight last night. Ben Blair stayed up late so he could pick us up. It was a terrific trip. Gosh I loved it. And I’m excited to share the highlights in an upcoming blog post. If you’d like a sneak peek, you can check out my story highlights on Instagram.

When we first bought plane tickets for Hawaii, I was picturing a really relaxing trip, hanging out poolside/beachside with a book and a fancy drink served in a coconut. And I’m sure that’s an option. But it turns out our particular trip was super active and fairly physically demanding.

As my head hit the pillow last night, I realized I was completely exhausted. I woke up to help the kids get ready for school, and then fell asleep again immediately. It’s one of those situations where you need some time to recover from the vacation. : )

Betty and I picked out some fun souvenirs for the family, and we’re excited to open them up when everyone’s back from school today.

– Though I took a bunch of photos and tried to update my Instagram stories, I wasn’t really consuming news, internet updates, or social media while we were gone. I don’t think I checked Twitter or Facebook the whole trip, and I didn’t really consume Instagram either — I would just quickly post when I had a minute. 

Typically I really appreciate an internet break, and I’m mostly glad for this break, but it was interesting to start catching up on today on updates. I’m feeling so behind. Our news cycle moves so fast! I think I’m feeling extra behind because I was at a conference and then basically went straight to Hawaii, so I’ve been out of the loop for 8 days. That is like a year in current news-cycle-time. Hah!

– As I’m sure you know, Sunday is Mother’s Day. Which means: I get to videochat with our oldest child, Ralph! He is on a mission in Colombia. We only get to videochat on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so this will be the last chance to do so until he gets home. His return date is August 30th. It sounds like our chat will actually be on Saturday instead of Sunday, because it works better for his schedule.

Speaking of Ralph, his weekly emails from Colombia are always fantastic — full of cultural observations and funny stories and tidbits about what he’s learning. His mission will be getting a new mission president in July. Mission presidents are assigned for 3 years, and the current president’s 3 years are finishing up. I thinking it will feel strange for Ralph to have a new leader be the one to send him home in August. But I’m glad he’ll get to see the transition from one president to the next.

– Maude, who is at Berkeley, has finals this week. And she has to be out of the dorms this weekend! So moving-Maude-home is next on my to-do list. I can hardly fathom that her freshman year is over. Holy cow, that seemed really fast to me as a parent. But when I think of my own freshman year, it didn’t seem fast at all. I’m having to remind myself that time works differently at different ages.

– Speaking of college, I need to write a full post on the latest happenings with Ben’s startup, Teachur.co — which offers a college degree for $1000. It’s so exciting to see students enroll from all over the world. These are students who aren’t able to come to the U.S. to study (for a variety of reasons — costs, student visas, responsibilities at home, etc.), but who are intent on furthering their education and know how valuable a U.S. university degree is. I’m thinking I’ll do a Q&A with Ben so you can get up to speed on the latest updates.

– A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of job opportunities here at Design Mom. I’m still setting up interviews and figuring out who to hire. Hiring is it’s own skill, you know? Everything takes longer than I think it will.

– While we’re on the topic of Design Mom, at your request, I’m making good progress on a podcast. My goal is to launch it by July, to celebrate the 12th birthday of this blog. I’ll be honest, I’m having the hardest time deciding on a format and what sort of focus the podcast should have. I would LOVE any feedback. What do you want to hear from me? Would you prefer guests? A co-host? Do you love podcasts that are really tight and produced? Or do you like them to feel a little looser and more casual? What’s your take on length and frequency? Is twenty minutes too long? Or too short? Is once a week about right?

– Remember La Cressonniere? The house we rented when we lived in France? We just heard from the owners that it’s become available again. It sounds so tempting to move back for 6 months or a year (or longer) and work on our little French cottage. As I’ve mentioned before, we finally realized we just aren’t going to work on it unless we move back for awhile — it’s very much out of sight, out of mind.

– I started watching season two of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I have to watch it pretty slowly — like I can only handle 30 minutes and then it’s too much. I’m wondering if now that the series has gone off book, that I’m finding it more stressful. Not sure. In a total contrast, I’m enjoying The Last Man on Earth. What are you watching these days?

That’s it for now.

Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts.

Or you can leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. – More random thoughts.

66 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. Two comments:
    1. I’ve been looking forward to hearing your always well-reasoned thoughts on the split between the Boy Scouts and the Mormon church. Do you think it is still valuable for Mormon youth (and youth in general) to participate? Are you surprised by this split?
    2. Fox just cancelled Last Man on Earth so don’t rush through the episodes :(

    1. Thanks for the heads up on Last Man on Earth. I hadn’t heard!

      Here are my condensed thoughts on the Mormon Church splitting from Boy Scouts:

      I’m a fan of the Scouting program, but I’ve wanted the split to happen for over 20 years, since the time I was asked to be the Scout Committee Chair for our congregation. That was the first I really got to know the Scouting program (FYI: my kids weren’t old enough to be involved yet, the oldest was just 2 at the time).

      It was clear to me then that Scouting required way more resources (manpower, time, and funds) than were needed to run the church programs we had for girls. I didn’t like that discrepancy. And I also didn’t like that we had to go through Scouting red tape as a volunteer for a church organization. I found it really inefficient to be running the Scout program through the Church.

      It also seemed clear to me then that the Scout troops that weren’t run through the cChurch were stronger and more active, because the Scouts and families were actively choosing to be involved. Whereas for Mormons it was the just the default and didn’t feel as much like a choice.

      Additionally, I could see that the Scouting program wasn’t a good fit for all Mormon boys and it seemed obvious that a more flexible, intuitive, customizable program would make more sense and be more inclusive.

      So I’m glad to see the split. Honestly, I would have liked to see it happen decades ago when it didn’t feel like there were social issue overtones to the decision.

      That said, our son Oscar is way into Scouting right now and will be spending a week at Scout camp this summer. He would like to earn the Eagle Scout award, and I think he could be there in a year or two. I’m not clear yet on how the Church will phase out Scouting, but I’m confident we can find support for Oscar to go as far as he would like to in Scouting, whether it’s with his current troop or another one not associated with the Church.

  2. Your trip to Hawaii looked amazing, I was following along on your stories and feeling a bit of travel envy. Guess that means I need to book a trip for myself ASAP!

    After hearing you talk about the podcast on Instagram and seeing it mentioned here as well I thought I’d mention that I work for a company called The Project Designer (www.theprojectdesigner.com) and we do hiring as well as project management (for things like a podcast launch). Not sure if it would be a fit for you, but thought it might help take some things off your plate! :-)

  3. Gabby, I have followed your blog for longer than any other. I have always loved your voice because you seem just so wide open to everything in this modern life that comes with being a mom.

    I love podcasts – I can’t wait to see what fun things you do with this format. It would be great to hear from Ben Blair!

  4. I love podcasts that have a flowing conversation but with the same subjects or segments to ground things – does that make sense? I also would love a mix of your voice with guests sprinkled in every few episodes. I’d love to hear from Ben Blair and your kiddos, too!

  5. Of all the podcasts I listen to, Dear Sugars has a format that could be a place to start. I’m sure you would get lots of thought provoking questions to answer!

    1. Great suggestion. I do get a lot of reader questions even now. Maybe I could start with those and then gather new questions from future podcast listeners.

  6. Re: Podcast
    20-30 minutes once a week-ish is ideal. I think you doing solo is best at first and once you feel comfortable, bring in guests occasionally. I hate listening to poor audio quality. I’m sure I’m spoiled from all those NPR podcasts, but making sure you sound good is important. As for topics, you always have interesting things on your mind. Children, the world, design, please don’t limit yourself!

  7. I’ve had to do the same thing with Handmaid’s. I’ve been watching half an episode at a time this season. It’s so anxiety-provoking!!

  8. I listen to A LOT of podcasts and would love by you! My favorites always have a structure but sound less produced. Forever 35 does it the best in my opinion! I love Young House Love’s and the By the Book podcast but they’re the most “produced” podcasts that I can get into. 45 minutes – 1 hour are my favorite but I have a long commute! I would love to hear you talk about motherhood and being a small business owner. Your family has amazing traditions that I love to be inspired by. I would also love to hear about the organization and leadership that goes into putting on Alt Summit each year. Share all of it!

  9. I’ve just recently started getting into podcasts, but I think anything under an hour is perfect. I enjoy interviews or listening to two people talk about a subject. I usually listen to them while walking or driving. I can’t wait to hear about Hawaii more! And happy early Mother’s Day!

  10. Feel the same way about Handmaid’s Tale. Last time I watched as soon as each episode dropped. This time, I’m actually afraid to watch. I keep telling myself that it’s actors and no one is really hurting anyone, but haven’t been able to get over that hump yet.

    Loved the IG stories of Hawaii. I wish I could have done something like that with my Mom when I was a kid!

    1. You bet!

      Funnily enough, the first two days we couldn’t find shave ice anywhere. We tried 5 different times and everything was closed. But we had great luck on day 3 and 4.

  11. I just came back from my holiday and turn off my internet life and have same feeling like you. Glad to visit your blog again and hear that you will start making podcast. In my opinion, 20 minutes is proper (because it takes me 20 minutes go from home to my office). Hope will can hear your podcast soon! Welcome back, Gabby!

  12. Gabby-how did Maude like her first year at Berkeley?? My daughter is transferring in this fall and she’s excited/nervous. Any words of wisdom from Maude about being at Cal?

    1. Great question. She seems to really have enjoyed herself, and I know she’s excited to spend time in Berkeley and on campus this summer. I’ll have to ask her for advice. Maybe she can be a podcast guest. : )

      Congrats to your daughter on the transfer!

  13. I’m up for anything. I, too, listen to Young House Love, and I also enjoy What Should I Read Next, and Karen Walrond’s podcast. I enjoy conversations. I love your design posts, as well as your design posts, and your guest posts with house tours. Whatever you decide to do, sound quality is key. Whatever you decide to do, I’ll be tuning in. :)

  14. I’m feeling the same way about the Handmaid’s Tale. It seems so intense this season. Although my cousin, joked with me, “Did you even watch last season?!”.
    I get what she’s saying, but maybe because I read the book, I kind of knew what would be happening. But this season, especially the first episode, messed with my head.

  15. Hi, Gabby! I’ve been following your blog for five years, since you lived in France, and love the content. We are also an American family living in France. Would love to hear a podcast from you! My husband runs Podcastmotor.com if you’re looking for a few resources on getting started with your podcast.

  16. Handmaid’s Tale – I’ve wanted to watch this, but we don’t have Hulu. However, I see season one is available on Amazon. Yay! I’ll be way behind the rest of you, but I’ll be glad to finally start it.

    College – That freshman year did go fast! I’m in the early stages of the college whirlwind with my daughter who’s a junior in high school – visiting schools, figuring out what she likes, imagining what she might study. I’m trying to enjoy the process since I know it will all be over in a flash.

    Hawaii – Your trip looked amazing. I followed along on Instagram and I loved seeing what you and Betty were up to. I’m still harboring hope that my family and I could get there this year, but we’ll have to see. It’s a much more expensive proposition to travel there from the East Coast. If nothing else, I lived vicariously through the two of you!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  17. 15-25 minutes (or even 30-35 if you get into a good conversation) is good for podcast episodes, and I really like guests – even when they have nothing to do with your theme, it’s fun to hear new perspectives or ideas. One per week sounds ambitious, but good on you if you can do it. One every other week feels reasonable too.

  18. I felt the same way about Handmaid’s Tale as you (and the other commenters above) did. I can’t even make it through the first season, and I’ve read the book! I think I just need to let myself off the hook of finishing and decide not to feel bad about it. Especially knowing that others feel this way too:)

  19. I have a short attention span and want to be able to complete a podcast within a task, ex. on drive, cooking dinner, ironing, etc. so I like podcasts that get directly to the point. I don’t like a long intro but want to hear the content immediately. I like guests when they’re experienced speakers but don’t like a lot of chatting between hosts. I like 20 minute podcasts.

    I think any of the parenting topics that you include regularly would be great.

  20. Speaking of La Cressonniere, my husband and I are hoping to move to the suburbs of Paris within the next year and are visiting the area in June. You wouldn’t have a recommendation for a realtor, would you?

    1. Ooooh. So exciting! The only realtor I know in France is the one who was on our episode of House Hunters International. I believe her name is Adrian, but I would need to go rewatch to be sure. : )

  21. I’ve been wanting to watch Handmaid’s Tale, but feel like it’s too intense for my pregnant self. Of course, I say this after watching all of “Wild, Wild Country” within a few nights. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    And, super excited for the podcast! 25-ish minutes is good. The shorter ones go bye too quickly. I listen mostly on the subway and find the longer ones take too many “rides” to complete.

  22. We’ve been watching “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on Netflix and it has been delightful so far (we’re not thru the 1st season of watching yet!) – maybe for a light counterbalance? The songs are HILARIOUS!

  23. I love podcasts and tend to actually be productive while listening, which is a bonus. I don’t tend to do that while watching a show and I don’t really care for audiobooks. As for format, once a week is plenty because I can’t keep up with more than that, and very few podcasts, even the ones I love, can I listen to every single episode. I LOVE short podcasts or ones that are longer but easier to listen to in sections. Some faves- Armchair Expert (Dax Shepard)- a celebrity chat show format, but with themes of self improvement, overcoming obstacles, and other big, meaty topics like addiction, racism, etc. 3 in 30- Rachel Nielsen- a podcast that is concise advice for moms, with three actionable takeaways. About Progress- Monica Packer- tackling many subjects, but mostly focused on self improvement over perfectionism. And Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is always amazing. Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness is great, too. Super interesting and fun to listen to! I have listened to Stuff You Should Know and their chatting for 15 minutes always drives me crazy. I just want them to get to the content.

  24. I love podcasts and look forward to yours! I consume a lot of them when I go hiking or trek about the city on my lunch hour. I appreciate podcasts that are 30 minutes to an hour. I don’t need structure/overproduced content. Have you listened to Call Your Girlfriend? They cover current news and issues and I think you could do something similar… Or you could interview guests about specific issues or their life stories? A lot of your blog content translates.

  25. Back to tell you my show recommendations! :)

    I love Life in Pieces- it’s one of those ones that looks so cheesy but is super hilarious. Other good ones- The Good Place (Ted Danson is everything), Splitting Up Together has been super funny, Speechless is so good, the Will and Grace reboot is consistently funny. I am not a great lover of dramas- they tend to be too dark for me. I love PBS/BBC type shows- Call the Midwife, Victoria, The Crown were all faves last year.

  26. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcast lately since I have no time to read and I can listen as I cook, clean or drive around. I like podcast around 20-40 minutes. I listen to longer ones but I often have to pause those and lose the thread of conversation/topic. One things I would love either on the podcast or blog: a beginner’s guide to interior design, to help someone who finds just the thought of design scary and overwhelming. I’ve been reading your blog for 6 years and often skip over the design posts, especially the house tours, because they make me feel inadequate. I would love my house to look and feel more welcoming instead of just functional but I have no clue how or where to start. I am now preparing for my 5th move in 8 years (and the 2nd cross country) and I would love tips on quick and not too expensive ways to make a room feel welcoming with the limitation of not being able to paint.

  27. So happy to hear that about the podcasts, I LOVE podcasts. To answer your questions….
    1. Definitely well edited podcasts. I don’t especially enjoy meandering talking or laughing to be honest. I love laughing in real life, but having someone laugh right in my ear while I’m running is extremely unpleasant and I had to stop listening to a podcast I used to love because she keeps hyperventilating/breathing/laughing and even my 6 year old noticed it. I would keep in mind people are usually listening to podcasts to help pass the time while they are doing something they find inherently boring or unpleasant anyway (exercising, cleaning, driving etc.)
    2. 25-40 min.
    3. I think reoccurring segments is best. Segment ideas could be home design, listener question, family travel, raising kids, dinner solutions, current dilemmas, updates (to previously discussed issues)etc. They could be rotating so not necessarily the same segments each week. One could be a guest, but my guess is people want to hear from YOU.
    4. All the podcasts I listen to have at least two hosts.
    Good luck!! I am sure whatever you do will be awesome and I can’t wait to hear!

  28. I would love to see you hire a woman of color. I think the design/ blog world needs to hear from lots off different types of people and this is a great opportunity!

  29. I can’t believe Ralph is coming home in August! I remember when he left, you made it sound (or I perceived it this way) that one of you — Ben Blair or you — was more on board with the mission idea than the other. I’m curious about how you feel about Ralph’s mission service now that it’s nearing its end. Glad he went? Glad for HIM that he went? I remember you writing about wanting a more humanitarian-focused mission experience. ???

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