Browsing Category

Family

Family, Health, Uncategorized

Hand Out a High-Five- A Little Tip

Do you hi-five? I mean do you really hold up you hand with the corny gesture to tell someone “way to go” or “hey man good job”?

I gave my husband a high-five today for eating all his corn and chicken at the dinner table (for the pure audience of our children- hey parents will do anything to get their kids to eat). I also gave my husband a high-five for putting a backyard playground together. And you know what, it’s so cheesy. But you know what else, it feels great to hold up your hand and slap some recognition right into someone else’s being.

I don’t remember ever giving my husband a high-five before last week- how sad is that? There are so many missed opportunities. I am going to have to make it up to him! For those of you still here reading on about my kooky high-five banter, here’s the back-story.

My daughter would not eat the other day. This was her regular performance. We would set down her dinner and she’d turn her head and say “I don’t like” without ever trying it. This has been going on for weeks. It started to really concern me sooo I got desperate and did the first thing I could think of. I looked at my son and started giving him high-fives for every single bite he ate. My son was stoked and my daughter felt left out so she started shoveling food in her mouth. Hunger strike over! I was shocked! I mean, yes it was a desperate idea and I tried it out for size, but I never thought it would work!

My little experiment makes me realize how little effort requires to make someone feel engaged and appreciated. We have been handing out high-fives in our house ever since. My daughter is eating better because she doesn’t want to feel left out. She cares about being appreciated.  And what I took for granted is that my son WAS eating well and we weren’t giving him credit for that.

Here’s my challenge to you. Try out your high-five. Start with your kids, your spouse and your family and move to co-workers. Throw in a stranger for good measure. I promise you, most people can’t leave a high-five hanging. Plus, showing appreciation for other’s efforts with a high-five is totally cheesy, but strangely rewarding.

Side bar: We also tell Alexa to set a timer for a five minute count-down when our kids just take forever to eat- it drives my son BONKERS! (I can’t give away all my wonderful parenting tips in one post!) But the high-five approach has much better results around our table.

Cheers to high-fives (if a cheers and a high-five at the same time is even possible)!

~Ashley

Family, Food & Wine

Friday Favorites {8.11.17}

Hello and welcome to Friday! So Friday is always the day that I think things will start slowing down for the weekend, but it ends up being one of the busiest days of the week for me each and every week. It’s like everything I haven’t had a chance to wrap up all comes together on Friday and there’s an energy to complete all the things.

This Friday I thought I’d share a few favorites I’m loving for fall season (I know say it isn’t so!), a few fun things we love to do as a family, and food I thought was worth mentioning. I hope you’re settled in for a great weekend, how are you spending your Saturday and Sunday? We are running the Elvis 5K that I talked about in this post– wish us luck! We’re also headed to an adoption meeting our church- more on that journey (if you’re just tuning in) here. I also just posted about the baby shower my mom and I threw for my sister if you’re interested to see how we planned it.

If you’re new and want to read more feel free to click around and/or follow along: FacebookInstagram

And now, on to the favorites…

Family Fun

Earlier in the week I posted about one of our city adventures, a visit to Crosstown Concourse, located in Memphis, TN. Here’s a snapshot of some of the fun we had. Be sure to take a look at the full post.

I also loved this origami décor in one section of the lobby.

We are die-hard fans of our city so you will be seeing more content on how we explore and get out into our town.

Our family also partied hard at a friend’s birthday last weekend and this shot is one of my favorites. I mean that little girl of mine sure knows how to have a good time!

 

Beautiful Things

I have been scanning Etsy and look at these finds! I ordered this wall hang below. I posted it outside on my brick for better lighting so you can see all the colors, but I’ll be displaying it inside on a more neutral, tan wall.

I found this simple fall wreath on Etsy and I’m contemplating buying it…

And at Dinner Club we visited a fun new Colombian place; I just loved their décor. It makes me want to go visit Colombia wearing all of the below.

Eats

Finally, I am loving this zucchini “pasta” salad recipe I found on another Memphis blogger’s site…

And I’m snacking on these bars for a healthier option when I’m on the go and I’m forced to have a late lunches.

In other news, my sweet neighbor dropped by all these tomatoes because she was leaving town and couldn’t possibly eat them all.

And that brings my short list of favorites to a close…

(Sorry, this song is on a constant loop in my head- eek!)

I’m so happy you stopped by. Thanks for letting me share all the favorites I’m loving these days. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

~Ashley

Linking up with Erika | Friday Favorites, and Katie | High Five for Friday

Family, Food & Wine

A Summer Shower- Baby Shower!

This summer, my sister will be having her first baby, making me an aunt. Actually, any day now, so I thought maybe I should update you all on how we showered her earlier this summer.

The celebration was in my hometown, Pensacola, Florida. The weather was expected to be incredibly hot and my mom’s sweet friend opened her new home for the festivities; it was the perfect space to celebrate.

Planning a shower from another city requires a bit of conscience coordinating. It’s also not easy co-planning with a highly engaged, and highly active partner, ahem, my mother. So, I’ll share the pics, but I do have to confess, I turned over the reigns to her early on regarding the intricate details for most of the decorations because well, she loves this stuff. And frankly interfering in her vision is like waving a red cape at an active bull in an open field. Kidding. Kind of. Eeek!

I’d love to share some of the plans with you if you’d like to see, but most of the credit goes to my mom!

Party planners selfie!

We knew we wanted the shower to be women only and my sister requested that it be a forum for celebration and a way for her to converse with her friends and allow her time to connect with the tribe of women who support her most in life.

To collaborate with that mission our main staples were food, champagne, and these mini petifores from J’s Bakery (love them so much)! My mom got the little bottles to scatter on top. We also had a white cake version with pink frosting for variety. My mom already had these cake stands- aren’t they lovely!

We had a hard time settling on food. In the end we chose catering from Moe’s Grill because I wasn’t sure when I was going to arrive to town and I didn’t want my mom handling the burden of cooking or heading to multiple places for pick-up on her own. They deliver for a small fee and do the complete set-up. Overall I was really thankful we decided to use them. Guests made a variety of entrees using the ingredients including tacos, nachos, and burritos.

My brother made a fun drink for this drink pitcher and we popped champagne to extend a welcome glass to each guest as they arrived. This is something simple that I’ve done at some work events for customers. Greeting people with a drink helps make them feel part of the party faster and people are generally pleasantly surprised to be welcomed this way. We also walked around to fill up drinks so people could continue mingling without putting a hault to their conversations.

My brother made this homemade salsa below- so sweet! Especially since he didn’t get to stay for the shower.

My brother and my mom settled on the name, the “skinny stork” for this special drink.

In order to stick to our original objective, we decided (with my sister’s blessing) not to have her open gifts at the shower. We also avoided planning a lot of games; we organized just one fun activity to join everyone together, a “gift pass around game” with cute little sayings regarding which direction to pass the gift- it ended up being the perfect game! The person it landed on in the end got to keep the gift. We also gave gifts away as favors for the mom with the oldest child, mom with the youngest child and mom with the youngest girl, since my sister’s having a sweet baby girl. It did take a while to gather the troops to pull people away from conversations and join together for the game and gift give-away. We entrusted one of the guests with the largest personality, and voice, to demand attention!

I’m orchestrating the directions to the fun game!

Here are some other fun photos and little details from the shower if you’d like to see…

The guest book was a children’s book; each guest left little notes throughout the white space of the pages.

These sweet friends all came together to celebrate this new little girl that we are all patiently waiting for! We were so thankful for their company and the sweet gifts that are preparing my sister and her husband for their new little bundle. This wagon though- I can’t wait until my niece is old enough to ride in it and she’s not even born yet!

At the end of the shower, my son stopped by with my brother and my brother-in-law to enjoy one of those fun little cakes. It wasn’t until the afternoon when we all compared notes that we realized none of us had fed my son lunch- ooops! His entire day consisted of jelly beans, donuts, fruit loops, and cake- he had enough sugar for one whole entire month! #minorparentingfail

I got increasingly sick and ended up having to lay down after the shower and my brother, his girlfriend, and my mom and brother-in-law all rallied together to break everything down- throwing this shower required a true mini village. And then after he helped clean everything up, my sweet brother brought me medicine and made me take it- love him!

I sure was so glad to have been able to bring my little side kick along to town to attend this shower though. We had a bash together that weekend playing at the beach and getting in some extra family time.

Thanks for hanging in there to see all the little details of our gathering for this new baby girl we are so excited to meet. At the end of the shower I advertised my mom’s services for anyone looking for a good party planner!

~Ashley

 

Family

What’s Up Wednesday {7.26.17}

Hey it’s Wednesday! How are you this mid-week? Are you dragging through the week or are you coasting towards Friday? Work training has my routine all mixed up; I’m trying to find my bearings, but it’s so great to shake it up every once in a while and get the brain cells movin’. Today I’m writing about what’s new; here’s a quick glimpse of what I’m sharing!

This link up is a fun way to check in with all of you to share just what’s been going on; I’d love for you to share what you’re up to in the comments!

What we’re eating this week

We are in survival mode in this department. My husband is taking night classes two nights a week and we head to church one day a week so that equals 3 nights of easy suppers. Think quesadillas, make ahead meals, homemade chicken nuggets and Annie’s Mac and Cheese.

What I’m reminiscing about

July! How did this month slip by? I wrote a post about all the things we were up to in July; we had a great month! Here’s one fun picture from our stay-cation.

What I’m loving

Right now I am excited for all of my Nordstrom items to arrive from the SALE! I am also loving this backpack that I bought for work- I’ve had so many co-workers ask about it, and every single time I tell them it’s less than $20 they’re shocked. I also bought my husband this one and both are extremely similar in size and quality. Finally, I’m back-to-school shopping and ordered the nap map below. We have one just like it in another pattern and we love it- it has a soft inside.

What we’ve been up to

We have been hanging at the pool and had a stay-cation in downtown Memphis. I talked all about our fun month of July here. Here’s one fun picture of us scoping out the sunflowers in Memphis right before sunset.

What I’m dreading

I am dreading an early school start time. Right now we’re in a daycare format where drop of is between certain hours. The structured school year will have us shooting for a more punctual approach. Don’t leave me summer!

What I’m working on

For the blog, I just ended two great interviews with two inspiring people. You can check them out here:  Why Limit Happy to an Hour and Hola and Hey Mon!

Personally, as a family we are working on our adoption plan and our FPU plan. Click the links to learn more!

What I’m excited about/ What I’m looking forward to next month

I am excited for the Elvis 5K. We do it every year. We live in Memphis and August is Elvis Week which is actually 10 days of activities with an Elvis theme. One time I flew back to Memphis at the start of Elvis week (I had forgot about it) and there were 4 Elvis impersonators on my flight! What we really really love most about the race is that they give out Krispy Kreme donuts, Old Venice pasta and Jim ‘N Nicks biscuits at the end… so basically whatever we burn off is immediately wasted away on a full feast of carbs!

PS: Speaking of Krispy Kreme, they came to my work to talk about their social media plan and so I started following them on Intagram and their posts are so fun!

PSS: Since we’re talking about Elvis, I ordered the Memphis Moonpie in Nashville off a menu once and they brought me this- what??? That is Elvis’ face in chocolate!

What I’m watching, reading, and listening to

I just finished up this book. It’s a great read and I’m sad to see it end. I think this one is up on my list next. I did a full recap of all the resources I am loving right now here.

We are listening to Johnny Lang (a quick snipet of his music) on Pandora right now. It’s been so long but I feel like this music really belongs in our house right now!

What I’m wearing

Well right now it’s “dress for your day” at work so I’m dressing down any time I have the chance because this all changes when summer ends. On weekends it’s shorts and swimsuits and flip-flops on repeat. I’m also wearing this necklace and still loving it. I have a blue one. She sells them right through her Instagram page.

What I’m doing this weekend

We are headed to meet friends at a fun art studio for kids for a play date. Here are some past pictures of some of our previous masterpieces in action. I am so happy to say that when we leave the studio I don’t have to clean up a thing! The kids also wear the cutest aprons.

What else is new?

In 4 weeks I am going to be an aunt to my sister’s baby! I am stoked and my sweet little niece can’t come fast enough.

I also did this post on getting organized with spaghetti jars, flower delivery vases, and potted plant containers.

Otherwise we’re trying to enjoy the last of summer and keep cool in this 100+degree weather until school starts. 

I hope you’re all having a great week! If you’re visiting this site for the first time I’m glad to have you here. Feel free to take a look around and follow me on social media for info regarding the most updated content.

 

 

 

 

Family, Food & Wine

Life Lately- What Happened to July? {7.25.17}

Happy last full week of July- can you believe it? This month has flown by but we have been enjoying every minute of it. Soon it’ll be stricter school schedules and cold weather, but for now, we’re all about finding ways to keep cool and that usually means squeezing in all the water activities and family time we can!

First, before I get down to business, be sure to check out two fun interviews that went up this month. The first is with Brian, titled Why Limit Happy to an Hour and the second one is with Nicole, titled Hola and Hey Mon! Both interviews are unique and genuine and I just love all the inspiring chiclets of information in these great stories.

Well like I mentioned we sure sought out the best ways to stay cool.

My daughter showed us all how to live the summer dream- eating Doritos poolside in a bathing suit. I mean, I hope she’s always confident enough to indulge while she’s hanging out in her bathing suit.We dusted off our water table and brought it out for an entire evening of fun complete with ice cream on the porch! We threw every bath toy we own in there just in case you’re wondering!A snow cone truck visited my son’s school; I pulled up to this!My husband and I squeezed in a date night. Somehow the only picture I took was of this monstrous margarita- yum! It’s from Frida’s Mexican Restaurante.We dressed up as princesses and ate more cold food items.We also squeezed in a couple of game nights with my oldest. We also found ourselves searching high and low for potted plants.And I made it to a girl’s night at Loflin Yard for Dinner Club. Isn’t this drink (titled Battle of the Greensward) and this cheese plate so pretty! All the cocktails have funny or local names! The food menu is pictured below in case you’re local and want a sneak peak. We had the street corn and the chicken wings in addition to that cheese plate- so yummy!

We rounded out July with a stay-cation in downtown Memphis where we rode the hotel escalator 20.5 million times (complete with serious bedhead), made important phone calls and visited two of our favorite eateries, Rendezvous (for dinner) a famous Memphis BBQ institution and The Arcade (for breakfast) where we sat in the Elvis booth (Elvis was a regular at one time; people kept coming over to the booth while we were eating to get a glimpse). My daughter had her first biscuit and jelly and I think it’s safe to say she was in heaven.

Finally, after church one night, my son and I visited the field of Sunflowers. They’re huge and the sun was setting over them when we arrived.

And that wraps up our July! I hope you’re having a wonderful month. If you’re looking to get organized, be sure to check out this post! And stay tuned for What’s Up Wednesday and Friday Favorites this week.

Family, Uncategorized

Hola and Hey Mon!- An interview with Nicole Marley

I am happy to introduce you to my long-time friend, Nicole Marley. We met in Miami through work, but we’ve kept in touch ever since and I’ve always admired her, her family dynamic, her cultural upbringing and her overall good-natured spirit. She had such a positive impression on me back in the good ‘ole days when she was juggling work and tiny little humans; I was very young in my career trying to find my way in a multi-cultural city managing projects in a region I’d never visited before. Here’s a peak into her life including her background, her upbringing, one famous relative and some of her life philosophies.

Nicole, can you tell me a little bit about your background and upbringing?

Although I was born in Jamaica to Jamaican parents, we moved to Dominican Republic when I was only 3 years old.  It made for a very fun and interesting upbringing.

I went to a bilingual school until 2nd grade to help me learn Spanish (even though the best Spanish lesson I got was hanging out with the neighborhood kids).  In 3rd grade, I transferred to an American school, where I stayed until I graduated high school.  The funny thing was that when we were home, my brothers and I would speak in Spanish but turn around and speak to my parents in English.

My life was a mixture of Jamaican culture (and food) with the Dominican lifestyle that surrounded us.  The Dominican lifestyle was not only the language, but also the food, people and culture.  I have great memories of my childhood.  We lived in an apartment complex that was packed with kids.  Afternoons were spent outside playing tennis, tag, roller skating, hide-and-seek, to name a few.  I never went to summer camp as we spent all our days outside playing.  This was during a time with no cell phones.  So your parents couldn’t find you until you decided to go home for dinner.  It was definitely a very carefree and relaxed upbringing.

Now that you’re a parent, have you thought about what that might have been like for your parents to make such a big transition and did watching them inspire you at all in your own life?

It was definitely an incredibly brave thing for my parents to do.  They landed in a new country with 3 very young children, no family support, and couldn’t speak any Spanish at all.  Back in the 1970s, you didn’t come across many people in Dominican Republic that spoke English.  As an adult, I can now recognize that, as difficult as they knew the move would be, it was in the best interest of the family.  I am so impressed by how well they adapted to their new life.  They made it a priority to learn the language and make sure that my brothers and I did too.  They didn’t let fear dictate their decision.  It definitely has inspired me as an adult.  Whatever challenge I face, I don’t let fear of failure or of the unknown dictate the decision/outcome.

What brought you to the US?

Growing up my mom would constantly tell me how important it was to get an education.  She wanted to make sure that I could stand on my own two feet and not have to depend on anyone.  She also believed that the Dominican Republic offered very limited growth opportunities and she wanted us to study abroad to broaden our horizons.

After graduating from high school, I came to the US to get my undergraduate degree.  Upon completion, I returned to Dominican Republic for 3 years to work.  Then in 1999, I left again to go get my MBA.  I never returned to Dominican Republic after that as I was offered a job in Miami once I graduated.

You have a daughter and twin boys. Tell me a little bit about your daily and weekend routine.

Victoria is now 13 and Nicolas & Sebastian are 11 years old.  7 years ago I made the decision to leave my full time job to focus on the kids.  I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible and make sure that I was there whenever they needed/wanted me.  I joined the PTA at their school and spent countless hours volunteering.

Our daily routine, which by the way changes as they get older, is a bit hectic, as you can imagine.  I have to wake up at 6am to get Victoria ready for school.  She gets dropped off at the bus stop at 6:45am.  Then it’s back home and time to get Nicolas ready, as he needs to be at school by 7:45am (he’s a safety patrol).  Sebastian is the last to leave as he doesn’t have to arrive until 8:30am.  Once everyone is in school, this is now time for me to work out, volunteer at school or the classrooms (I was room mom for Sebastian’s class this year), supermarket, and run all house related errands.  The boys arrive home from school at around 3:15pm (Victoria arrives an hour later).   This will change the next school year as the boys will be switching to a new school and will leave home earlier.  It appears that I will now have to drive Nicolas to school and probably pick him up (we will see if I can work out a carpool).  Now that they will be gone for a longer period of time, I am looking to start getting back into some flexible work and maybe take some classes (cooking or photography for example) and I started exploring being a travel agent.

Once the kids are home, the craziness begins..  All 3 of them participate in different sports/activities and schedules vary by day.  Victoria dances 2-3 hours a day, Nicolas has water polo, tennis, robotics and piano and Sebastian has tennis, basketball and dodge ball (it would be too easy to have any of them participating in the same activity at the same time, right???).  Getting everyone to their classes means a lot of driving back and forth and making sure I remember who is where and what time they finish J.  It gets a bit tricky when two of them have to be at different places at the same time.

Once I was sitting in the kitchen with Sebastian and Victoria around 9 pm.  I asked Sebastian to please call his brother down for dinner to which Sebastian replied, “But he’s not here.  You never picked him up.”  OMG!!!  Can you believe I had completely forgotten to pick him up from tutoring (the tutoring was in preparation for a standardized test for their new school and it was not part of the normal routine).

Marcelo and I try to have a least one adult outing a week.  This could be something as simple as a dinner or a movie.  It’s always great to just have time to have a quiet conversation.  We also used to take a yearly trip for a couple of days without the kids.  The kids loved that trip because my dad would babysit and he would give them ice cream every day!!!

I definitely also try to have lunch or dinner with friends once a week; girl time is always such an energy recharge for me.

I heard that you have some pretty fun family reunions. Does your family go on vacation once a year together? Where are some of the places you’ve been?

My brother Paul and his family live in Canada, my parents still live in Dominican Republic and my brother Brent and I live here in Miami.  We always try to get the family together at least once a year.  It is so wonderful when all 17 of us get together.  The kids have such a wonderful time playing with their cousins and building unforgettable memories.

We have been to Dominican Republic (Punta Cana), skiing in Canada, Mexico, Miami, Orlando, and North Carolina. It’s always fun to watch all the kids playing with each other and with my parents.  During our last trip to Canada, the kids decided to have a snowball fight with my dad.  It was too cute because they would run up behind my dad pelting him with snow and he was fighting back.  One of the favorite things that the kids love playing with my parents is monkey in the middle in the ocean.  It definitely becomes quite competitive.

When we get together, we always try to take a family picture.  The last time we were in Canada in December, we decided that it would be nice to take a picture outside in our pajamas.  We were freezing but the kids were such good sports about it and all smiled on cue.

You have kind of a fun family tree and some famous relatives. Tell me how that has made your life interesting and any how this background has influenced your upbringing?

Our colorful family tree includes Bob Marley.  Believe it or not, he was my grandfather’s cousin.  His father and my great grandfather were brothers.  People have a hard time believing we’re related simply because of the color of our skin.  The thing is that Bob Marley’s father was English (the Marley’s were English) and his mother was Jamaican.  I have met people in person (after speaking with them over the phone and them learning my name) that are surprised to see that I am light skinned.  They assume that I would look more like the famous singing Marleys.  I definitely didn’t inherit the singing or performing talent J  Being related to Bob Marley honestly didn’t influence my upbringing.  I never met him or any of his children.  We left Jamaica when I was very small and never had contact with that side of the family.

Funny story:  Can you believe that once I was in Jamaica buying something and they asked me for my full name.  When I said Nicole Marley he answered, can you please spell your last name?  Really?  In Jamaica???

I have been around you long enough to know that you have a very neutral English dialect and I have heard your Spanish dialect is also pretty neutral. Are people surprised when you explain your background and how has this provided for fun opportunities?

The funny thing about my accent is that it does change depending on the person I am speaking with.  All my friends know that my accent when speaking with my parents is totally different than if I’m speaking with you, for example.  It was hard when I worked at FedEx in the Caribbean and had conference calls with my mom on the other end (we both worked for the same company for a time).  I tried to avoid speaking directly to her because I just can’t control the change in the accent.  My kids get a kick out of it.

People always assume that I don’t speak any Spanish.  I guess because of the way I look, everyone always assumed I was American.  Once I was standing in a line at the airport and this group of girls standing behind me started talking about me in Spanish.  They obviously assumed that I couldn’t understand.  So I just waited for them to finish and then turned around and calmly asked them, in Spanish, what time it was.  The look on their faces was priceless.

FedEx was looking for someone with a neutral accent to record the messages for the call center in Dominican Republic and they asked me to do it (free labor).  It was funny because I had friends calling and listening to the messages and then they would realize it was me; I was getting calls asking me if I had a new job.

What languages do your kids speak? What language does your family speak at home?

My kids speak English and Spanish.  We have made it a priority to make sure that they learn to speak, read and write in Spanish.  My husband Marcelo is from Uruguay, so Spanish is the only way the kids could communicate with his family.  We also wanted to make sure that they were fully bilingual.  At home you will hear both Spanish and English being spoken.  I really try to speak to the kids only in Spanish but that never happens. The conversations are a mix of both.  Victoria is the one that will speak the most in Spanish.  The boys understand everything in Spanish but will always answer in English, unless they are forced to speak in Spanish.

What advice would you give someone in integrating more culture into their family?

Our house is not only a mix of Jamaican, Dominican, Uruguayan and American cultures/traditions but don’t forget that we also have 2 religions in the house.  I am Catholic and Marcelo is Jewish.  We decided to also raise the kids Jewish. This makes for a very colorful household.  Marcelo has never asked for me to stop believing in my faith or to stop following my traditions.  So, for example, we still celebrate Christmas in our house.  The Christmas tree goes up, with decorations and all, but you will also find Hanukkah decorations.  We light the candles every night and the kids get their little gifts every day.  My brother Brent’s kids are Catholic, so my kids have participated in their family’s first communions.  We always make sure to explain to the kids what they are doing and the beliefs behind it.  I feel that it is important for them to grow up knowing and accepting that we are not all the same and we don’t all believe in the same things but that doesn’t mean we can’t get along or love people that are different from us.

The most important element to making this work is respect and open communication.  We discussed the religion issue at length and how we would raise our kids, even before we got married.  It was a deal breaker. If we couldn’t reach an agreement, then both of us knew that we couldn’t continue the relationship. This is something that has to be discussed and decided BEFORE you have kids.  At the end of the day, we both agreed that we wanted to instill our kids with the same values.  If we as a society could learn to respect others and accept that we are all different, it would make the world a lot happier.

Do you have any fun plans coming up for your family?

This July we traveled to Ireland (my parents, our family and my brother Brent and his family).  My maternal grandmother was Irish and I had never been there.  My mom has always made fun of us because we all hold Irish passports, yet we had never set foot in the country.  It was a fun to visit to the country to see where my grandmother was born and where she came from.

Marcelo, the kids and I will also be visiting Croatia and Scotland.  We have tried to expose the kids to many cultures and let them explore the world around them.

I have a cruise planned with just myself and the kids through the Western Caribbean.  They are really looking forward to this trip, as they are excited about the ship and visiting new Caribbean islands.

Our summer will then end with our annual visit to Dominican Republic.  I try to take them once a year to spend some time with my parents.  We will also include a visit to a very poor area of the country to give 50 kids much needed school supplies for the upcoming school year. This will be our second year doing this.  I wholeheartedly believe that they need to learn that they have a responsibility to help others that are not as fortunate as them.

Thank you Nicole! What an inspiration you are! Your background, your family, and all the cultural aspects of your life have definitely had a beautiful impression on me and I’m sure others feel the same!

 

Career & Resources, Family

Friday Favorites 7.21.17

It’s Friday! This weekend (if I have to predict) we will be pool lounging and cleaning, and my son keeps asking me to go to the Zoo (they have veterinarian week at school this week complete with a visit from a vet and coco puffs to simulate dog food) so there could be a potential quick trip to visit our local animals. We’re also getting our retirement funds in order (I know total snooze fest). And my husband switched my waze app to the voice of Mr. T so he tells me things like “turn left sucka” and “go straight fool!”and it’s been cracking me up.

For the next few weeks my husband is taking night classes several times a week while I man the ship at home. If you’re like us, a little motivation, encouragement and fun-spirited suggestions go a long way during a long week. I’m sharing my latest favorites fool-proof for a positive week!

This Podcast| DAIS- Dr. Margaret Martin, Founder of The Harmony Project

If you’re looking for an inspiring podcast, this one is extremely engaging and encouraging, educational and eye-opening. Dr. Margaret Martin fought herself out of a difficult situation around the same time that she created The Harmony Project, a non-profit organization that provides multi-year mentoring through music to at-risk youth in the high crime gang reduction zones of Los Angeles. She talks about winning the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor in the US, how to take a walk when you feel terrible, getting emotional perspective from emotional perspective, and how just surviving was just not enough for her. She believes music is something we can use to elevate our spirits, develop a form of expression and become part of a community.


Public Speaking| Get On-board

“The fear of public speaking grips many people who avoid it at all costs.” Skip Pritchard reviews 7 Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Public Speaking in his article. He includes points of how public speaking allows you to influence others, increase personal power and increase empathy. If you feel like you’re not great at speaking in public you’re not alone, but the good news is you can get better. Baby steps! Check out a local Toastmasters group or read more about how to beef up your public speaking tool-box. And if you have small children- don’t underestimate the importance of speech contests and clubs in schools- encourage your kids to get involved. Speech club and speech contests in middle and high school helped improve my confidence in public speaking and elevated skills I use today in business and even just during social toasts or gathering people together in social settings. I am always trying to improve my public speaking skills so this article really hit home.


Fun Kid Reads

My son’s teacher, in the industry for 17 years, told us if we do nothing else this summer, we should read to our kids! Obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this; it’s pretty much a pediatrician recommendation every check-up, but I thought I’d share a few of our favorites lately: I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, I Was So Mad, and The Nose Book. These books are just as fun for the adults reading and our kids have heard The Nose Book enough that I think they’ve memorized it, reciting almost every word during our readings.


This Book| The First 90 Days

I’m listening to this book for business on Audibile. It talks about how to make good things happen right away, how transition (either yours or someone else’s) is always impacting us at work (or even home), how to adapt and excel during these transitions and how your network need changes as your role changes. It includes what to focus on, how to accelerate your learning and how to secure early wins. And if you just aren’t a reader or don’t have time to read this book in its entirety, but you’re intrigued, there’s a PDF summary available.


This Icebreaker

How do you shoot the small talk? I’m not very good at it, but one thing that always works for me and that’s incredibly genuine (I don’t ask it just for the sake of filling the silence) is “Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?” It can tell you a lot about a person (i.e. whether they have kids, what they like to do for fun, or any hobbies they might have) without asking more personal and intrusive questions. What engaging things do you do to break the ice?


We’re Revisiting this Show

Michael Jackson, what can I say? I was in for the long haul when it came to Michael’s music. We popped in this video the other night and had the kids watching it. It was a fun trip down memory lane.


This Devotional|[RE] SOURCE

A sweet friend of mine and Assistant Pastor of Ministry at our Church, Jessica Morris created these devotionals called [RE] SOURCE. Download them, print them, write on them, do them- they’re a great way to revamp your devotional time (if you’re one of those inspiring people who wake up before 6 am- I am praying to make it there one day!) She also has a heart-felt Christian blog that is humorous and real. One of my favorite posts is this one.

Have a wonderful weekend! I’d love to hear more about your reads, what you’re watching and what you’re listening to!

Career & Resources, Family, Health

Why Limit Happy to An Hour: One fun interview

When I started this blog I was most excited about interviewing people about a range of topics from building their businesses, to tips on how they implement special things in their life that would benefit others, to general philosophical views on happiness and personal inspiration. I’m so excited, because today I’m sharing an interview with Brian, who shares his life with Tommy, and both are a couple of fun guys from North Alabama. When the blog first began, I had people that I know tell me that they would be the absolute best people to interview. They’ve been together for fifteen years and today they’re talking about a range of things, including their background, their spin on Dubsmash videos, their fun Christmas card tradition and how they stay positive.

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Tommy and I are both from North Alabama. Tommy is from Decatur and I’m from Moulton. Although we didn’t meet until college at the University of Alabama, our parents only live about 10 minutes apart. Tommy went to a city school and I went to county high and he’s two years ahead of me in school.

Tell me something unique about your upbringing.

Hahaha, neither of us feel that we had a truly unique upbringing. Both of us had amazing childhoods! Something we have in common is that our parents are still married. Tommy’s until his mother passed away and mine are still going strong! In this day and age, that is something that not everyone can say; not that it’s a positive or negative, it’s just a fact about us. Also, we both were able to know and spend time with all four of our grandparents and those memories are such a treasure!

Tell me a little bit about your daily grind.

Our days start early and finish late! Through the week, we wake up at 5 am, go to boot camp with Erin at 4 Shore Fit, back home to shower, grab lunches, and head to work; we own a hair salon. We work from around 8 am until about 8 pm, then head home to tidy up the lunch dishes, wind down for a few minutes with conversation about our day, and hit the bed as close to 9 or 9:30 pm as possible! On the weekends, we generally host company at our home or are out of town. Our shared hobbies include travel and entertaining. On those random down-time weekends, you’ll always find us by the pool or at the beach, Kindle in hand; we’re both avid readers! We don’t even own a TV, our house is filled with music from the moment we wake up until we go to bed.

People generally see you as a positive person. Where do you think your positive attitude stems from?

Having a positive attitude is a conscious choice! We wake up every morning with a purpose to be positive and share that same feeling! We also surround ourselves with people who share our same outlook- your vibe attracts your tribe! Life happens to everyone, but our reactions are what make us who we are and Tommy and I choose to be happy, positive, and outstanding! We’re the Sunshine Boys!!

Tell me a little bit about your relationship with Tommy and how that came about.

Tommy and I met in college and had a brief fling, but after college, I went back to North Alabama and Tommy stayed in Tuscaloosa. We would bump into each other periodically over the next ten years, in the mall, at a restaurant, anytime Tommy was home for the holidays. Then, one fall, I saw his sister and brother-in-law (whom I also knew) and passed my phone number along, asking them to share it with Tommy. I was planning to be in Tuscaloosa for a wedding and thought we could meet for drinks- no big deal. Tommy called and mentioned that he’d be in near my home in Decatur before the wedding and asked if we could get together then and of course the answer was yes! It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I was working late at a salon there, Tommy was doing dinner with his family and we agreed to meet afterwards. I get to the meeting spot for dinner and grabbed a table for four (Tommy said that his sister and brother-in-law wanted to come along). The two of them arrived just after I did, then another guy and his wife come in a pull up a table to join us- which turned out to be Tommy’s brother and his wife- then a cute blond curly hair gal comes in a sits down with us (Tommy’s sister from Memphis)- and finally, Tommy showed up, apologetic with good-natured laughter. HIS WHOLE FAMILY IS CHAPERONING OUR FIRST OFFICIAL DATE! But it all turned out as it should and that evening is our anniversary; we haven’t been apart since and we’re going strong 15 years later!

How do you and Tommy hold each other accountable for taking on a more positive spin for life?

We hold each other accountable through conversation and commitment, especially since we don’t have the distraction of TV. We do find that it allows us more face-to-face chat time and those moments and conversations are when we reaffirm our desire to be beacons of light and hope and kindness to everyone we encounter! Each weekend, we do long walks around our neighborhood or at the beach and just chat about the world and everything in it. Sometimes our conversations are light and sometimes we solve all the problems of the world; we can be very philosophical!

I understand you have a ritual for drafting up your Christmas cards each year. Can you tell me a little bit about that ritual?

Christmas cards are a big deal to Tommy! It’s something he looks forward to doing every year! We also work hard to be inclusive of all of our friend; we send Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards, Kwanzaa cards, Solstice cards, and Thinking of You cards. Receiving a card that lets others know we appreciate how a person celebrates the holiday season is exactly what is special about that time of year! We start writing the cards in August, collecting updated addresses, and sorting our list. This all happens on the beach or by the pool and some people have even commented about finding sand in their card! And to commemorate the season, we HAVE to sip on Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice) while all of this is happening!

You have a reputation for your humor. Tell me about your dubsmash videos and other things you do to keep things light and upbeat.

Our Dubsmash videos are a highlight of our life together! (PS- the Elvis version was linked for Memphis followers but follow their account for more videos). Laughter together and my persistence for prefect videos makes our dubs shine. We share the spotlight, sometimes the background dance moves can overshadow the lead performer! We take requests and if we go too long without posting a Dubsmash, friends always comment on how these funny snippets of our life are missed. We have been told that we make people’s days and how often they share them with others. We’ve done them by the pool, on vacation, in the car, on a walk, with friends- basically everywhere!! That app is endless hours of fun and excitement! We will think of a singer or a band and just have a weekend of dubbing with them.

Are you intentional about your interactions with others? Do you have a philosophy on the mark you hope to leave on others?

I can’t say that we actually and intentionally deliver happiness on others, we just simply try to share in our own passion for life and living each moment to the fullest. We saw a cocktail napkin once that said “Why Limit Happy To An Hour?!?” and took it to heart!

Any favorite shows, podcasts, books or music that you’d like to share?

As I mentioned earlier, at home our music choice is generally background, upbeat sound, but when we run our 5Ks, we have definite anthems we like to pace ourselves with. Working in a salon, our days are filled with conversation and pop hits so at home it’s a bit more subdued. As far as books go, we love to read for escapism and pleasure. Everyday life is real enough, when reading we look for adventure and get-aways. We love books that invoke emotion within us- laughter, tears, joy, peace- emotions are a gift, and we like to show and share ours freely!! There is a fabulous book by Giovani Livera called ‘Live a Thousand Years: Have the Time of Your Life’– we’ve both read it and do try to stay on point with the message of the book. It’s all about moments and experiences. We also share the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman with friends and clients often. It’s about how we each share and receive love, and how we aren’t all the same, but when we know another person’s love language it makes the communication so much more fulfilling!

Anything else to share?

We are currently working on being present in the moment, whether it be by ourselves, with just each other, with a group of people, or one-on-one with someone else, just focusing on that moment and the task or activity at hand. People truly appreciate conversations where you actually look them in the eye, don’t think ahead on the conversation, smile, and give them your full attention. When alone, we try to keep our mind focused on what we are doing at that particular time and enjoying the experience of it. For example, gardening is so much more fun when you put your full mind, body, and soul into what you’re planting. I guess you could call it mindfulness- that’s our new focus!

Career & Resources, Family, Health

Friday Favorites {7.14.17}

Hey it’s Friday! As my son would say, only one more day until we get to “just hang-out”. As working parents we sure cherish weekend family “hang-out” time with our kids.

This past week was my first week back to work after a long stay-cation and I’m hanging by a thread. I’m so thankful I’ll get to charge my batteries soon!

As for fun Friday favorites, I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways on how we recharge.

1.Coffee helps you live longer!

It’s no secret on this site that I love, love coffee. If you love coffee too then you’ll appreciate this new announcement that talks about the new-found benefits to drinking coffee. Coffee is my first line of defense for a mid-week recharge! In fact, our office carries the local brand Ugly Mug  (pictured below) which most of our office is extremely happy about. PS: If you live in Memphis, the I Love Memphis Instagram account is capturing Memphian’s favorite coffee spots.

 

2. This Book

I started reading this book this week and it has been captivating so far. It gets to the point immediately, doesn’t drag on setting up the opening scene and has me wanting to flip to the end to see what happens (no one else does that?) It’s definitely a great read for escaping a busy week.

3. This article

I am doing research for a project a work regarding mentoring and I came across this article. Listen, if you’re not in business that doesn’t mean you don’t need to rely on people to mentor you for guidance and insight. This article reviews ideas on what to talk about with a mentor (which can sometimes be awkward); I found it to be so refreshing. It actually got me excited about my next mentor conversation.

4. This podcast

This podcast was actually a recorded public speaking event for Jen Hatmaker. If you listen, keep that in mind that it was recorded at a conference and she does refer to a few things they put on screen that you’re obviously not going to be able to see on the podcast. However all that aside, I just loved the message, how she tied her knowledge and conclusion together, and I always love the personal insertion she incorporates in her speeches of her everyday family life. It is a Christian message and basically indicates the importance of being a faith mentor.

5. We’re gardening!

Well sort of. We bought plants at Lowe’s and we put them in pots with dirt. Every night my son is watering them. This is a huge step for us because I basically kill every living plant. Check out these plant boxes. Aren’t they inspiring? If we get serious we may upgrade to a more elaborate set-up. For now, we’re sitting on our porch, eating ice cream after dinner and watering our plants to help us recharge. I also found the pretty outdoor pillow pictured below at Lowes, because after all this gardening I need a chair with a pillow to relax in!

 

PS: This random picture just makes me happy! A petting zoo came to the kid’s school and my daughter ran right up to the Llama and gave him a big fat hug while screaming Llama Llama! She knows the animal from this book.

What are your Friday favorites? I’d love to hear. This weekend we don’t have much planned other than pool-time and family time. I also get to head to Dinner Club! Last weekend was pretty full so we’re looking forward to low-key plans. Stay tuned for a fun interview I’ll be posting this Saturday. Happy weekend.

 

Family, Health

Life Lately {7.5.17}

Well the 4th of July is over, so naturally we should all skip to Halloween because summer is over and fall is the next best thing! Kidding. Except not according to Hobby Lobby. I went in the store for 4th of July decorations for our wagon and found pumpkins.

I’m off this week and I’m so excited to be doing fun stuff like: cleaning out closets, washing moldy bath toys and painting things. I promise we’re doing actual fun things here at our house if those things don’t excite you!

First, we had a fun video shoot last week at work. Each year awards are rewarded to employees throughout my work organization, which all happens through a nomination process, and these awards are usually a secret until the winners are announced. Before each VP gets up to present the awards for their work group, a short video skit is shown to introduce each Of their teams. This year I dressed up for our team’s video; the theme is Super Heroes. The skit usually makes fun of something work related, features people that report to that work group, and in past years these skits have even imitated various SNL skits. I think I am some sort of underwater dish queen here…

We committed to spending every weekend day possible at the pool and the weather cooperated. This one right here is a mess!

On Monday we did something we have never done… we sent our kids to school and took the day off to accomplish some things around our house.

Both kids had class parties for the upcoming 4th holiday so it worked out. We stopped to buy yummy cupcakes prior to drop off. It was the perfect day for this because it was rainy and the weather was horrible; it wouldn’t have been much fun for the kids to stay home with us.

After drop off I headed to meet my husband for coffee at Café Eclectic, except when we got there we decided to have breakfast too. I had the crème brulee coffee and the bacon and egg quesadilla and my husband had some sort of breakfast sandwich and we had the perfect little breakfast nook looking out at the rain. After that short lived relaxing moment we left to put in a hard day’s work at our house.

I am currently working through a mile-long home to-do list. Monday’s list included:

Washing all of the bath toys… This mom did a whole post on how to clean your kids bath toys and I can’t stop thinking about it!

Re-purposing a chandelier… I also found this one that is similar and would be fun to paint. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up of the finished product! This one was in our house hanging in the dining room. We replaced it with something more modern in that spot and will be putting this up in our guest bedroom.

Finally, Monday consisted of getting back on track with my workouts. This one is from fitnessblender.com.

That night we picked up the kids and headed downtown where we had dinner and rode one of the horse carriages together although our picture is a bit dark!

Tuesday it was time to celebrate our country. I talked about our fun neighborhood parade in one of my posts. This year it poured rain on the entire neighborhood right before the parade was scheduled to start, but cleared up enough for us to walk the parade route in our decorated wagon. The kids also got to play in the water from the fire truck, an annual tradition. This parade has been going strong for 68 years!

I got my husband his fun shirt a while back and he broke it out of the closet for the 4th– it’s the perfect shirt for Independence Day! Here are some other fun ones showcasing this favorite movie of ours.

Squints Shirt

You Play Ball Like a Girl!

Legends Never Die

Also, I had to stop and appreciate this Yard we saw on the parade route! I love it!

We closed out the 4th by putting together this huge puzzle while my husband indulged in the movie The Sandlot.

We never made it to fireworks because of the heavy rain and well, toddlers who head for bed before 9 pm.

I hope you had a fun long weekend. If you’re back at work, just remember, it’s a short week!

Don’t forget to enter the contest if you would like to try to win these two books and a $10 Starbucks gift card! Just follow me on Instagram or Facebook to find out more about how to enter.