DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I live in a house of colors. My spouse keeps painting rooms. Our office is red, bedroom is orange, and bathroom green. I love colors, but the house seems choppy. We have painted all rooms and are repainting. I would prefer classic off-white, as it seems to have a calming effect. Should we continue the rainbow effect?
-- ALL COLORED OUT
DEAR ALL COLORED OUT: Don't paint your spouse or yourself into a corner. Decorating a house is not easy and can escalate to a power struggle. While off-white is a safe choice, it can start to look boring builder-beige. Color brings warmth and personality to a room and, if coordinated and accessorized with the rest of the house, will provide stunning results. Before you pick up another roller, get some advice from a professional color consultant and tweak what you have with some new hues for a more harmonious blend. Work with your spouse on this one so you don't end up with a palette neither of you likes but is too stubborn to admit it. Paint colors are not forever decisions.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My friends and I have been discussing the appropriate ages to end trick-or-treating and organized birthday parties.
-- TIRED PARENT
DEAR TIRED PARENT: Boo! Halloween has become a major American holiday. In most neighborhoods, however, door-to-door trick-or-treating stops when the child reaches the eighth grade. Some communities have eliminated the practice altogether on the 31st in favor of a Main Street parade on a Saturday at the end of October. The merchants hand out candy to little witches, ballerinas and cowboys, and the community lines up to cheer, shop and enjoy the fun. Trunk-or-treating is popular in other communities. Cars form a large circle in a school lot with trunks open and facing outward; volunteers and parents distribute treats from decorated car trunks as they socialize and admire the costumes. With driveway trick-or-treating the hazards of tripping in the dark on uneven walkways or porch stairs are eliminated as the ghosts and goblins collect treats at the front of neighborhood driveways. These options also have the advantage of eliminating the maddening hop to answer the doorbell every 10 minutes. Still other parents don't like the practice of evoking spirits at all, and on Halloween they choose to take their children out for ice cream or to socialize with others of similar beliefs.
Organized birthday parties seem to follow the natural progression of change as the child's interests and friendships develop. About the time a child reaches double numbers he or she enjoys special events with a few invited friends. When pin the tail on the donkey seems babyish you know it is time to move off the birthday party circuit. Trust your instincts on moving to the next level with your child at Halloween and on birthdays.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: email@example.com or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published October 14, 2013 8:00 PM