Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Graduate

It's been a bit quiet around here, as I've been busy getting the nursery ready (WHOOP!) and also preparing for the trip we made to Syracuse, NY. I have never been to NY, so when I think of the city, I think of nothing but traffic, taxis and many many many buildings. BUT we were in a very rural area where there were nothing but country shops and farmland. It was almost as if we never left Nebraska. Nonetheless, we got to be with family in a cute little AirBNB home relaxing and enjoying each other's company!
My sister graduated with her Masters in Public Relations, and I am SO very proud of her huge accomplishment. School is no joke... and the higher level you pursue, of course, the higher the pressures are. She breezed through 2 years of her Communications program with such grace and perseverance. Now comes the part of "adulting" and finding a career that she purely enjoys!

I can't tell you how many students graduate from high school and college and just aren't sure of which direction to head in. This is one of the many reasons why investing time into strengths and passions is so beneficial before jumping into any job that is offered. I encourage those newly graduated students (my sister included!) to take time and really think about what strengths you have to offer in the workplace. What product or service interests you the most? Which types of companies offer the best opportunity for you to grow? Can you see yourself working there for the next 5 years? What type of manager can you envision yourself working for and alongside? These are just a few questions of the many that can help you gain some insight into where you should take your resume and interviewing skills. If you need some assistance organizing all of this, you can read this post about how I might be able to help!
Congrats to you, my sister!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekend Tips to Help Your Monday

Monday morning is here... how often do you think to yourself, "Man... I sure can use one more day of the weekend!"? I think that's why most of us drag on Mondays. It's not an extension of Saturday or Sunday, but instead it's the start of a new workweek.

I came across an article titled, How Successful People Spend Their Weekends which really helps me put things into perspective on the weekends. Although I'm not back in a grey 4-walled cubicle in the corporate world, life is still busier than ever these days. I have a 19-month old boy who needs attention at all times, I'm 27 weeks preggo and constantly nesting in my home making room for a family of four, I'm teaching a graduate course online and I am striving to find the direction I want to head in with my career, whether it be entrepreneurship or not. I want to ensure that my time is used wisely on the weekends because whatever I do (or don't do) on Saturday and Sunday affects how my week starts off.

// Spend time with the Hubs
My hubs has a job that's not a typical 9-5, Monday through Friday deal. He's around the clock, primarily 6 days a week. The minimal free time he does have is SO valuable for us, that it forces us to prioritize that time wisely. On the weekends, I want to ensure that we spend some QT together, whether it be over a movie, sharing a meal, or just talking without any electronic disturbance. This time helps reset for a longgggggg workweek ahead of us!

// Get some YOU time
The one, sometimes two, days that my Hubs is home, I carve an hour or so to be alone. I like to escape to the nail shop, to Target by myself, or even just lounging on the couch catching up with my shows. Try and make this YOU time about relaxing, not working or cleaning... it brings another side of you that allows you to just breathe!

// Get some type of work done
By work, I mean something that will help you progress in your passion. Whether it's soul searching for a new direction in work, or assessing your current career, there's always room for improvement in how you make your living. As the Forbes article says, pursuing a passion can help stimulate different creative ways of thinking. Give yourself that creative space to think outside of the box!

// Focus on at least one home project 
I have been fascinated with minimizing my closet, my kitchen, my kids' rooms... anything and everything around my house. I just tend to look at things and think if I would honestly utilize it in the near future. If I haven't touched it in the past year, I have no problem letting it go. Things such as cleaning out the basement, putting up new shelves, or even gardening really helps my week ahead by having a comfortable home to live in. I'm sure there are many things you need to get done around the house, but if you put one project on the list each weekend, you will see slow and steady progress and also thank yourself during the week!

These weekend things definitely help me have a better week. What are some of your successful weekend tips?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend was amazing! The Husker Football team had an excellent run at the Spring Game on Saturday with over 78,000 people. Can you believe that many Husker fans came out to support their guys in some good ol' rummaging against one another? Another reason I love the state of Nebraska... the fans show the utmost support in all of America!

On Easter Sunday, the family kept it light and mellow. The LO was able to dig through a few Easter baskets he graciously received, and played with all sorts of toys that caught his interest a few minutes at a time. The greatest thing was watching him pick up the eggs the Easter Bunny left behind on our lawn and putting them in his basket.... well that's until he discovered they had goodies inside. Once he discovered the taste of a jelly bean (thank you Trader Joe's!), it was GAME OVER. He stopped picking up the eggs and wanted to open the many in his basket just for the one jelly bean I mixed in with cranberries and Aunt Annie's cheese rabbits.

The neighborhood kiddos were out and about, so Mata got to enjoy some fun and play with them and Dada!

We wrapped up Easter Day with a delicious dinner, and called it an evening (after some ice cream). Though we weren't home with all the kiddos to hunt for eggs, we made special memories with our little family here in NE, AND enjoyed my Dad and Stepmom's lovely company! It warms my heart watching the LO interact with family.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter

Easter is such a special and spiritual holiday for me. We typically start our Easter day bright and early back home, by attending sunrise service. Sunrise service is always special... the message of Jesus rising from the dead is such a powerful one, and to celebrate that together with family, friends and fellow Christians completely fills the heart. Then we usually visit our loved ones who passed away, paying respects to our family at the break of dawn. For the past few years, we found a park that accommodates our huge family and allows us space to play sports, run on the playground, and hide Easter eggs for the little ones to collect. We love spending the entire day there, lounging, eating, laughing and watching the little ones play and dance together. It's GLORIOUS!

This year, we won't be home to join in on the festivities with the family... so we'll have to start our own Easter tradition as a little o'hana here in Nebraska. Fortunately, the community we live in hosts tons of different Easter festivities, beginning the week before Easter (last weekend). I took the LO to Michaels a few weeks ago to paint some eggs, which was a ball! We might partake in some Easter fun Saturday morning before the Husker Spring Game (WHOOP!)... then I think we'll set up a nice easy-peasy Easter egg hunt for the LO at our home. There's nothing cuter to see than the kiddos actually finding the eggs all around and putting them in their basket!

What are your plans for Easter weekend?

P.S. Isn't the shot above stunning?! Nebraska sunrises will make for another beautiful Easter indeed!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Husker Babies

As time ticks closer to July, things become more and more real about having another sweet little baby join our family. We are three months (and some change) out and much to get done before she arrives. I bought our first item for the nursery last week and it's motivated me to get a move on her nursery!

We also started to get cute little outfits and pink thangs for baby girl from dear family and friends. One of my FAVES by far has been baby's first ever game day attire... as you know how important game gear is for us! Our sweetest sitter, Claire, gifted Mata and baby girl the most adorable vintage Husker gear for the season. One of her good friends opened up a shop, where she makes and sells  cute Husker gear and also customizes based on what your heart desires.

I mean, how adorbs are these two fits?
Her shop is called H.Flynn based here in Lincoln, NE. Check out her website if your local or not!

We are STOKED for football season to begin later this year... and of course d-day!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Social Media Chat

I think most of us can all agree on the fact that social media has taken a huge BOOM in our society as of the past 7 years or so. Just think about these questions for a second... how many times do you pick up your phone to check Instagram? Then switch it over to Snapchat? Now time to check Twitter? Then see what's the happs on Facebook?

I am certainly guilty of picking up my phone quite frequently to see what's the latest and the greatest with everyone and everything. Commercial on TV... check it. Break from working and grading papers... check it. LO is playing on his own or fell asleep... check it (and record it while I can!). It happens so frequently and quickly that when I stop to actually think about it, it scares me!

I think there are some amazing advantages of social media in today's world. Some of which are:

// Hearing about BREAKING NEWS other than waiting until late at night to watch the news. Reading about the news on Twitter has helped keep me in the loop with the things I find most important, instead of hearing about things that I would rather not engage in.

// Reading about BUSINESS ARTICLES that help in today's work environment. Today's workforce is changing, one reason being the immediate access we have to the internet (great article on technology and generational differences). Word travels fast, which can make competition a bit more interesting. But it can also help benchmark on current trends and what's possible.

// The ability to read or hear about PERSONAL STORIES from others who might be going through similar situations as you are. This point is HUGE for me and social media. I love following business people, moms, wives, go-getters... people that align with my personal values. It's extremely helpful to read about what worked for them, how they reacted, or referring someone in any situation.

On the flip side, social media and technology alone can also be...

- Draining of presence and time
- Unrealistic [come on... how many times can you think about yourself taking bright lighting pictures or plunged yourself in beautiful looking blooms?!]
- Depressing to compare yourself to others

All that said and exposed, it's time I take a serious minimalistic point of view on this social media ordeal. I pledge to utilize different technology for all the right reasons and purge all those bad reasons!

What's your stance on social media today?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Springing Outside

Yesterday was the official first day of Spring, and I am excited for spending more and more time outdoors with my LO! I'm sure you can tell by now, but playing sports and staying active is a huge part of our lives, from both my hubs family and mine. Not to say I'm a sucker for reminiscing about the good ol' days of playing outdoors with all of my cousins... from kickball... to pretend carnivals... to ice skating (aka rollerblading). We LOVED being outside and using our imaginations to be whatever we wanted to be. And I will fully support that with Mata and his sister-to-be!

Yes, it would be great if he picked up a sport here and there (football never disappoints my cheering game!), BUT I also don't wanna be a parent who pressures him to be this or that... not as young as he is anyway. So you can imagine how excited I am that Mata loves any type of ball, ever since he was able to hold his first Husker football. He loves watching me chase after the ball that rolls down the street when he throws it out to nobody. I may get tired after the 5th ball rolling down the street, but it's well worth hearing him laugh and giggle.

I swear there's such a huge difference in my LO's attitude and sleep from when we spend time outdoors rather than staying inside the whole day. Moving to Nebraska requires some tolerance of winter days meaning you just can't seem to leave the house when it's freezing and snowing. BUT it also makes us that much more grateful for gorgeous days where we can actually enjoy the weather outside!

In any case, if you're wondering what we've been up to lately... a whole lot of sunshine and catching some fresh vitamin D outdoors!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 Translations of Football to Business

I just LOVE when sports and business are intertwined (especially football!). When I worked for USC, we spent time on professional development as a team once a quarter. We would utilize these days as a condensed version of a retreat, where the day would be structured around spending time away from the computer and connecting with one another. There was always some type of theme we would base our day on, and when it came to the day where I had a part in planning, you KNOW I was about to do my all to insert sports in the day! We ended up heading to the football practice field, and spent the afternoon with my fave coach (the Hubs) talking about how football translated into our business world... same discipline... same teamwork... same leadership.

I came across an article on Football Scoop written about how Pete Carroll breaks down his practices for the Seattle Seahawks. I couldn't help by get a sparkle in my eye when I heard ALL TYPES of my lingo in the video interview. I've actually read about Pete Carroll's leadership philosophy in a few different books, and I've got to say... he's got this leadership thing working on his side. Just look at the successes he has carried throughout his coaching career!

I thought I would share the three main areas of importance Pete Carroll mentioned in his interview, which I thought were key in his leadership approach:

1. ENERGY
Pete (yes, on a first name basis now) talks about how his coaches meet 30 minutes before practice every day to get on the same page. They are expected to exert the energy they want to see in their players. Just as managers and leaders in an organization should demonstrate... leading by example in a transparent manner helps employees gain a clear perspective of what is expected of them. A key quote from Pete... "It starts with ME." ** Leadership stars all the way around! **

2. TIME MANAGEMENT
The Seahawks spend 2 hours practicing, and no more. They key is shaving down time during and in between drills by saving the chats with teammates for before or after practice. They also run to their next drill alongside the coaches to bank even more time. Although it's important to network and socialize at work to work on personal relationships, the more employees are mindful of how much time is spent socializing vs. getting work done, the less they have to jam pack in a day's work.

3. COMPETITION
I love this point Pete makes about his players! He says competition is about striving for what you want, and not beating the other person down. Many employees get caught up in showing up another person so they can prove they're more qualified for a promotion or bonus. The only person we should be competing against in life is ourselves, striving to get better than what we were yesterday. "The guy across from you is the guy that makes you."- Pete Carroll

One other key thing Pete mentioned was effort. If players don't execute the way expected, coaches will first and foremost critique their effort. The effort players demonstrate is much more important to provide feedback on than the mistake they made in the run, play, or whatever went wrong.

These types of tips will not only help the leader (coach) out, but it also benefits the employees (players) as well as the organization (NFL or NCAA) in entirety. I'm excited to finish/start reading a few books that also translates sports into business... The Inner Game of Tennis and Legacy.

What speaks to you when you think of leadership?

Monday, March 13, 2017

3 Things That Can Help With Spring Cleaning

Spring is here and the time change has made it real deal for me! What I thought would be a nice wake up call for my LO at 7am instead of 6am didn't happen for us... instead he decided to keep to his schedule and wake up same time, which actually would have been 5am. Needless to say, time has changed but our routine hasn't (and that's fine with me!).

There's something about the sun being out longer that makes the days feel longer, which means more time to get errrr done! Spring cleaning is something on my mind as of late, and I've already started to make a list of things I aspire to get done this month. I've successfully been able to check off a few things on my list, thanks to some key items that are helping me check off my to do's:

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda
This is ONE amazing combo right here, folks! And if you add some freshly squeezed lemon in there, it can help tolerate that strong vinegar scent. I used this amazingly simple solution to wipe down my dusty cupboards throughout the house, and clean the bathroom floors!

2. Magic Erasers
I've been sleeping on these bad boys. It's the most simplest thing in the universe to use... soak with water, squeeze out the excess and wipe anything and everything down! I wiped down my windowsills and baseboards and it did the job I've been forever procrastinating to do.

3.Vacuum Storage Bags
Since my LO was born, I knew I wanted to keep all of his clothes just in case God blessed our family to expand with other boys. I've always kept his clothes, accessories and shoes in freezer bags, neatly marked with a sharpie and stored in nice big bins. Now that Mata is growing like a weed, so are his clothes, and I can probably get one pair of pants per freezer bag. I found these bad boys on Amazon (of course!) and I'm excited to store a ton of his clothing items in one bag alone... vacuum sealed and all!

The sooner I complete my list, the sooner I can enjoy some nice Spring weather (once this cold spell is GONE)... and the more we can enjoy Spring Break with the Hubs which will be a nice break from Spring Football!

What are some of your spring cleaning faves?

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Positive Week

Reflecting back to just this past week alone, it has been amazingly productive and positive for me! Last week I chatted here about finding my legacy in life and leaving something behind that will live on through others. I really wanted to put some action behind my thoughts, and that's just what I started to do.

First off, I had great hands of help with the LO so I can actually take time to focus and work. I had a sitter come over twice this week which enabled me to actually work while the sun was up opposed to waiting late at night for the hubs to get off work! She is a doll, and Mata loves her!

If that wasn't enough, we had a surprise visitor pop up on our doorstep (literally!) late one night. First reaction to the doorbell ringing at 1:30am was for the Hubs to grab a weapon before answering anyone! But after a follow-up knock and a peep out the window, he decided to open the door cautiously, and to our complete and utter surprise was one of our fave Aunts who flew all the way from Cali to spend some QT with baby (and us). BLESSED!

In the beginning of the week, I made a to-do list for work, for blogging, and for my legacy research! What I can say about my research is that I have a better understanding of myself and my strengths results. I really thought long hard about how my strengths play into my daily life and how they help create my call to action. I'm an advisor and a provider... basically meaning that I love to create intimate unique relationships with others, while bringing the best judgment I can into someone's life. All that said, I know that I'm meant to coach others... to listen... to bring forth the best solution possible, knowing that each person is individually different. I've had this epiphany before, but I'm seeing opportunities differently through a new set of lenses. THAT is exactly what I needed to move forward with this mission of mine!

All to say that my week was extremely productive and motivating for me. I am ecstatic to continue this path of discovery and reflection!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Playing Indoors


Mata is in a really fun stage right now! Language is blooming as he's learning to repeat actual words that we say (filter times ten!), he's understanding more dialect, and he's using his imagination quite a bit! Anything with buttons on it has to be a phone that he puts up to his ear as he says, "HOOOOH" which translates to Hello. Now that I can see him responding to words differently and in a more advanced way, we also try to explain things that may or may not be acceptable. I'm not sure if he quite gets it, but he certainly does talk back in his jibberish!

It's fun for me to snap away and capture his adventures on camera, but it's also nice to document things down in writing to reflect back on in his baby book! Here are a few of his favorite things (**in my Julie Andrews voice**):

// FOOD
- Goldfish
- Chicken
- Quinoa
- Blueberries
- Oranges
- Strawberries

// PLAY
- Any shape, size, weight of a ball, although he's been favoring his football lately!
- Reading books
- Puzzles (more-so banging them together like they're cymbals)
- Coloring
- Cars

// WATCH
- Bubble Guppies
- Peppa Pig
- Color Crew
- Curious George

I try and advocate more play than watch, and he's a pretty good sport about exploring. He LOVES being outside so much, but the weather hasn't been consistently cooperating lately. In fact, it's supposed to snow again on Saturday (folks... we just had high 70-degree weather last week!). With that said, we'll have to make the indoors playing our thang for just a bit longer until those spring flowers start to bloom! I wanted to update his tent a bit and make it more comfy for him to lounge in as we read books, play his piano, or just sit and chat! So we did just that and stocked up on some staple pieces at Home Goods.

I'm excited to spruce up the play area a bit with a few new things to promote fun interactive play, especially when baby #2 makes her debut this summer!
What are your tips for making inside more inviting for the LOs?

Friday, March 3, 2017

What's Your Legacy?

I've been pondering about something as of late... which is what type of legacy I will leave behind on this earth when I am gone. I get so caught up in the daily routine I establish for myself (cleaning, caring and entertaining my LO, teaching, cooking, etc. etc. etc.), that I tend to lose focus of the bigger picture. The bigger picture being about what type of service I can provide for others. That's what life's all about, right? Serving others to gain a better understanding of yourself and your purpose in life. Well, that's my interpretation at least!


I think a starting point to answering this question for myself is to reflect, as I've been trying to make habit of lately. Here are some of my fave posts that can help address my thoughts...

// Strength. And not necessarily the kind you will find in the weight room!
I love reading my thoughts at any given point in my life (hence why I love the act of blogging!). It centers me around what my values are and also validates what I'm capable of. Completing a few assessments to learn even more about myself shed some light to those possibilities I've been pondering lately.

// Spring Ball. March brings Spring all the way around!
I remember going through Spring Ball when we were at Oregon State. Working in the football office meant that this was a nice reunion for the coaches and players on and off the field! Husker Spring Ball starts this weekend, which means the whistles will be blowing and the drills will begin yet again since we ended the season with the Bowl Game, and I AM EXCITED!

// Athleticism. I value this more than ever.
Asking questions to athletes is so intriguing to me because it's a time to get up close and personal beyond what we see on the field. Understanding Kyndra behind the softball and bat gives me such a deeper appreciation for what she does and who she is! There's a story to be told behind all of these jerseys, and I think they all deserve a moment to tell their stories!

Highlighting some of my favorite reflections is already helping me develop a mind map of the legacy I would like to leave behind... I think it's time for me to create a vision board and create some goals. That's just what I'll be up to this weekend (oh and going to watch the first Husker practice, of course!).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sleep Work

It's been quite a week and a half in our household! All three of us have been working long and hard at sleep training, getting our LO to transition out of 1. co-sleeping, 2. weaning off of nursing to sleep (I know... it was a horrible habit all the way around!), and 3. sleeping IN his room IN the crib!

When I was preggo with Mata, I was adamant on him sleeping in his own space because I knew how much I wanted him, the hubs and I to sleep well without disturbing one another. We started him off in his bassinet and a nap here and there in his crib. BUT it eventually morphed into him sleeping in bed with hubs and I when we travelled. It was just easier on everyone!

Fast forward to 17 months later of restless nights and early mornings, extremely early morning wake-up calls, soar back and bones and watching the monitor like a hawk so baby wouldn't roll off of the mountains of pillows we surrounded him with to contain him on our bed. The time had come to get this baby in his own space to sleep, not just at bedtime but for his naps too.

We began our journey with the lovely Lauren at Sleep and the City who I discovered through another blogger who sought out help from her as well! Lauren was a breath of fresh air to work with. She definitely knows a thing or two about babies and sleep, and totally helps customize an approach based on baby. Yes, I read books on the Sleep Lady Shuffle, the CIO method, and others in between. What was missing for me was all the tips for babies who didn't follow the instructions as directed. There were way too many things that happened outside of the text, I didn't know where to go or what to read for those what if's. When we started working with Lauren, she helped the hubs and I understand our LO in ways we hadn't, particularly because he isn't able to verbalize his thoughts and feelings as we did. So we didn't know if his breathless cries meant that we were hurting him and causing emotional damage... and so on!

Here we are... almost two weeks into the process after implementing multiple transition phases and a sleep plan consisting of: a consistent structured schedule of eating and sleeping, tweaking his sleeping environment, having the answers to our what happens if moments, and a TON of patience. We have made SO much progression in this half-way mark to the 3-4 week period of seeing a consistent change in sleep habits!
1.  Mata is solely sleeping in his CRIB
2.  He learned how to self-soothe himself to sleep (from a whine, to chatter, or just silence)
3.  Mata is sleeping a whopping 11-12 hours at night with one to NO wakings at night
4.  We are nursing LESS and definitely not to sleep
5.  Hubs and I have a decent chunk of time in the evening to enjoy each other as husband and wife
The picture above was taken the first morning he woke up from sleeping in his crib... and it's proof that he made it out alive and HAPPY!

I totally recommend reaching out to Lauren with SATC to see how she may be of help!

Have you been through similar issues with your LO? What worked for you?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Growing

When the Hubs and I first thought about expanding our family with a child, we were excited... anxious... nervous... JOYFUL. We didn't anticipate it would take so long to conceive, but it surely did. God's plans included us waiting for over a year from when we decided to start trying. It was a heck of a journey in that time, as we had to deal with some health concerns that we had no idea existed. When we did find out we were preggo on New Years Day in 2015, we were over the moon!! Reflecting back to that time, we were actually beyond grateful that God had selected Hubs and I to be the parents of some precious little child... He entrusted us to be responsible for shaping someone's life... He loved us both enough for us to teach our baby what life lessons we had learned. We knew it wasn't something that was a fluke or was handed to us, but rather it was God's plan the entire time on His own terms and in His time.

My little boy is a gift to our family every waking day. I try to never to take things for granted with him, from having the luxury of staying at home with him, to temper tantrums, to hugs and kisses, to screaming at the top of his lungs because he thinks he's coaching like Daddy. I wouldn't trade the good, the bad and the ugly with anything else because he's God's special gift for us.

Hubs and I knew we just couldn't stop there... we wanted so bad to give Mata a little brother or sister. Under the circumstances of trying to conceive the first time, we just didn't know how it would go or what would happen. What we did know was that God had our back (as He always does) so long as we kept talking to him and praying for what our hearts desired. And that's just what happened...

I'm happy to announce that we are expecting our second baby, and as we were the first time... we are over the MOON!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day lovers! Though my 17-month old isn't quite in school yet, we still had an opportunity to make some darling Valentine's Day cards for a little Valentine's playdate we went to. I opted for bubbles this year because they were TOO cute to pass up with their heart wants and colorful packaging! I designed the card and we attached the bubbles with adorable Valentine's themed washi tape.... gotta love our Target stores!

Since this year's lovers day falls in the middle of the week, my LO and I will be enjoying some gym time, outside time, and hopefully NAP time until Daddy comes home from work! Maybe I'll make the Hubs breakfast-in-bed with one of these fine recipes I posted on Friday!

What are your plans for this fine Tuesday?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Valentine's Day Breakfast in Bed

[source]
We're in the double digits of February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Whether you have been in a relationship for 15 months or 15 years, it's always great to treat your partner to something special. But, what is the best way to pamper and impress someone?  Well, they say the key to one's heart is through their stomach! 

Shari's Berries has created the perfect guide to breakfast in bed. It includes tips, tray ideas and recipes to sweep your sweetie pie off their feet. Pulling this off is easy if you prepare ahead of time. This may mean waking up extremely early - but rest assured, the reward will be far worth it. 

I have to be honest... being that Valentine's Day falls on a weekday AND the hubs leaves for work at the crack of dawn, I might opt for the pretty avocado toast OR perhaps breakfast-for-dinner in bed!

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Making it a Valentine's Day weekend?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter Faves with Baby

We're going on our third year of being in Nebraska, and I am still not able to embrace the cold winter months. Being cold just hurts my bones... I'm a true Cali girl who thinks anything below 70 calls for a sweater (borderline blanket!). Being at home with a LO because it's too cold outside to enjoy the park or mother nature can take cabin fever to another level. I just have to get ourselves out and about a few times a week, even if it means bundling up the both of us just to walk from the car to an entrance!

I thought I would share a few things the LO and I enjoy doing to escape our household throughout the week. If you have a baby at home in the winter months, I highly recommend checking out your local community for some of these hits:

// Indoor Gym or Play Area [MyGym is FAB!]
This is probably one of our faves to do during the week. MyGym is an amazing opportunity for kiddos to explore with various gym equipment and with other kids their age surrounding them. Once a week they have a structured class for one hour, where the instructor leads songs, specific activities to practice and a bit of separation time from the parents! They also host so many other events such as Free Play, where kids can play on their own time with parent supervision. Another event I love to take advantage of is Drop and Dash, where you can leave your child for up to 2 hours with the best of the best staff who keep them busy and active (oh, and best part is no appointment necessary!). Find an indoor play area that allows interactive play with others and that also can help strengthen the kiddos and explore new limits with their little bodies!

// Library Story Times [or Barnes and Noble Story Time]
Our local libraries offer various story times for infants, toddlers and older kiddos. They usually last about a half hour, and are extremely interactive. At our library, they have a sheet with all the songs they sing so you and the LO can follow along. Typically, they read a book, sing a song, read another book, sing a few more songs. They incorporate puppets, cars, colorful scarves, and of course books! It's a great opportunity to incorporate some song and dance into literature.

// Children's Museum
I've seen and heard of other cities having their own children's museum. We found one in our neck of the woods, and the LO loves it! This museum has 3 different floors, each having a variety of activities for kiddos to explore and partake in. One floor has all the local shops and destinations as you would see in Lincoln (from the post office to the local grocery store and even to the Husker football games!). Another floor has a huge play gym, a water playing area, sensory rooms, and a stage for theatre with costumes, wigs and spotlights! The third floor has all things arts and crafts, trains, airplanes and more. There is so much ground to cover here, that when we go and visit, my LO finds something new to fascinate over each time.

These are just a few ideas of things we enjoy doing, particularly in the cold winter months. I challenge you to bundle up and get out there so you can hurry up and get inside a heated area that your LO and you can enjoy!

What things do you and the kiddos enjoy doing that take place inside?

Monday, February 6, 2017

What a Close Call!

Man, was that a close game last night or what?! Personally I didn't favor one team over the other, but I loved watching the game since football is football! After the first half, I thought it was going to favor the Flacons for sure! But what a come back The Patriots had in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter. They ended up tying the game with the Falcons and of course, they took the victory in the first drive of OT. WOW... what a close call!

Got me thinking of close calls and how often they occur in life. Have you ever had a butt-clenching moment in life that made you think "Whew! That was a close one!" or even "Bummer! I was so close!" I've had this occur with sports games I was cheering for, tests I've taken, or even meeting deadlines at work.

Since last year, I've been juggling being a mommy to my 16-month old and working from home. There have been a few days of this journey with getting some help watching him, whether it be from Daddy on the weekends or a Drop and Dash at MyGym. I certainly don't have a consistent routine with daycare or a babysitter, which means I'm trying to work during nap times and bed time. This makes for some close calls with my deadlines that I don't always favor. I'm the type of person who likes to plan my day and have a window to complete certain tasks, work or personal. The way that I work right now (on my LO's schedule) is stretching me in ways I never planned. In hindsight, it may have not been what I planned it to be, but it's working in the way it is now, even if it comes down to having close calls. BUT I am also learning that I would prefer it not to be this way forever! I need to balance some of this time I love spending with my LO and time for work (which I also love!).  The hubs and I have been visiting a few different potential schools that we might be interested in signing up our LO for on a part-time basis, which would totally allow me that planned time to work uninterrupted. So we're on a few waiting lists and shall see where this journey leads us to!

Lesson learned for me was always about the process. No matter what the outcome was in any given moment, it was more about HOW I got there and how hard I worked. My tip for you and those close calls in your life is to enjoy the process and appreciate the work you put forth to get to that outcome. Don't look back at the negatives and wish you coulda' shoulda' woulda' this and that... but look back and rejoice because I'm sure it helped you grow!
How do you deal with those close calls?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Spruce up your Romance

February has arrived and love is in the air! Later this year, the hubs and I will celebrate our 15 year annie (5 years of being married) and I'm just feeling blessed. I haven't loved the hubs any more than I do today, and my heart just feels like it keeps growing and growing. Being that it's the official month of LOVE I thought I'd share some tips in how we've been able to keep the romance alive for so long!

// Treat each other like you're still girlfriend-boyfriend
It's so easy to slip into routine as hubs and wife, especially when there are children involved. You both go to work, come home, make dinner and get ready for the next day of events. But back in the day when we were dating as girlfriend-boyfriend, we would go see a movie at the theatre on a weekday, or meet for coffee at a coffee shop, or even go to the mall and just people watch. I recommend to shake things up from the regular schedule and revisiting a place you used to go to when y'all were just dating [better yet, don't plan it and just suggest to go spontaneously on a Monday Funday!].

// Make time for date nights (or days)
This has been a challenge for us in the last 16 months because of our energetic spunky baby boy. BUT who says dates have to occur outside of our own home? When baby is asleep for the night, we love to watch movies together, eat dinner alone without chasing the LO around the table, and even just sit and chitter chatter about life and our future. It's so nice to break away from the phones and computers to just be with each other and connect in an intimate way.

// Tell each other I LOVE YOU
My hubs and I have always been A students at this point. Every single phone call, departure for work, and sleep time is capped with an I LOVE YOU and a kiss. It's second nature and just feels bare if it's unsaid. Until the next time we speak again, I want the last thing my hubs to hear that I appreciate him and all he does for me and our family, which is captured in the word LOVE. It makes us feel complete and adored by each other. If it's not a habit in your relationship, try and remember to end your convos with an I LOVE YOU as you would with a goodbye.

When you find the one you love, magic changes your life. You become more selfless, your eyes and ears open up to other perspectives, and you grow alongside each other. I couldn't imagine living this life with another best friend and partner in life other than who I have today.

Have any tips to spruce up the romance?

Monday, January 30, 2017

5 Ways to Manage Your Money

You ever pay a bill, clean your house, do your laundry, and think... wouldn't it be great if this was complete forever? Like once your house is spic and span clean, why can't it be like that for the rest of your life without having to break a sweat to clean it the following week? The same goes for paying bills. You pay utilities, car, mortgage and everything else under the sun monthly... but why can't you pay it once and be good for the rest of your life?

Well I'm here to remind you that life just can't be unicorns and rainbows. We're expected to adult in our lives, taking responsibility for ourselves, our children, our loved ones. A huge part of adulting is managing our money. I learned about managing my money when I first started working. I wasn't great at it, but I did learn a lesson or two that once it was gone, it was GONE... and how I spent every dollar determined a little bit more about my future.

As I got older, I got more strict with myself and spending habits. I thought I would share a few tips that might help you help your future as it did for me:

1. Set a budget for everything
This worked (and still works) for me like a charm! Each month, I allocate a certain amount of money towards things I know I need that month. For instance, I have a category for Food, Cleaning, Beauty Items in which I set a certain dollar amount. I keep track of every cent I spend in every category I have for the month, and if I'm getting close to the budgeted dollar amount, I know I have run out of funds for the month and will have to wait until the following month to purchase whatever it may be. On the flip side, if I don't spend what I allocated for the month, that "leftover" money gets automatically dumped into my savings.

2. Write down what you spend
The good ol' check registry worked wonders for me back in the days... until I got tired of collecting those little booklets. Then I moved onto Excel spreadsheets! I love using spreadsheets instead b/c I can digitize or hand write if I choose to. Going back to point #1, since I set budgets for various categories, I typically categorize my spending by what exactly I purchased. This helps me see where my money is going and what it's being spent on.

3. Check your bank account daily
Since I write down every cent of my spending down, I also cross reference it with what my actual online banking reads. I like to keep track myself instead of solely relying on my bank because who knows if someone charged an automatic payment to your account, or if there is some mysterious fee that is attached to your type of checking. Bottom line is that I like to see what I'm spending and ensure the bank agrees!

4. DO NOT expense it to your credit card if you can't pay it off the following pay cycle
I used to charge it to the card for every little thing back in college. Books, food, parking passes... everything I couldn't or didn't want to spend my paycheck on I would charge! Why not when the minimum payment was so minimal?... or so I thought! Looking back, the amount that I owed credit card companies was MUCH more than what I actually spent because of that wonderful interest fee that gets tackled on each month. Now, I use credit cards, but only for the benefit of cash back, keeping a good credit score, or 0 interest... AND I pay whatever I spent the following month which means it comes right out of my paycheck. Nothing owed for more than a month!

5. Put away for a rainy day
I once read that you should have at least 6 months of your salary saved in case you were to ever lose your job. You wanna make sure your house/rent is taken care of and your bills are being paid while you're looking for another job. And it's always nice to have a stash in case any type of emergency were to arise.

Becoming more and more aggressive with my budgeting has helped my husband and I in so many ways. I just wish I were this determined when I first started working!

How do you keep yourself in check with your money?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly Reflections

Looking back isn't the hardest thing to do, and I choose to look back for positivity, growth and appreciation for what I have today. Some of the things that I struggle with today seem so minimal when I really think about what I went through 5 or 10 years ago. As I said here, I want to take time to reflect on memories to help appreciate today for today!

// My Hubs Career
As hard as it is to think about, less than 10 years ago, the Hubs and I (at the time- the fiancé and I) were in one of the lowest lows financially we have ever been in. He had the opportunity of a lifetime to intern in the weight room at Oregon State University, so we packed up our goods and 2 doggies and hit the road from Cali to Oregon. I left my full-time job and he left his high school coaching job to endure this journey which we had no idea would lead to. Almost 10 years later, we survived many months of being more than broke, away from our family, and in the midst of busy football seasons! Today, I'm so proud of where he is with Nebraska Huskers, and we are blessed to own our first home with our first baby!

// Learning is my Game
I was in school for what seemed like a lifetime! I loved (most of) everything about it... from the new term school supplies, to my classmates, to my professors, to just learning new theories and research about topics I was passionate about! School brought me lifetime relationships that I still hold onto dearly today, from classmates to professors. Nobody understands the hustle and grind other than the peeps that surrounded me day in and day out. To my surprise, I'm still in the educational setting, but this time I'm the one teaching. There's something about education that is new, exciting and ever-changing!

// Professional Coaching
Coaching has always been a fun topic in my books! I love helping people in general, but to actually help someone help themselves is on another level. I worked quite a bit to get through coaching training, and then thereafter with clients to actually practice coaching. What I would love is to continue that journey and coach student-athletes towards career goals upon graduating and playing ball.
 

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