YOU WENT WHERE? VEGAS! (WITH KIDS)

When planning our first family road trip to Viva Las Vegas; my cynical kids (and a few grownups) asked “Are kids allowed?” “What is there to do?”

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We hopped off The Big Bus at the Historic Las Vegas sign!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED…
The mission we accepted was to find something memorable for each of us that we wouldn’t find back home in Southern California.  …Oh, and swim, people-watch and eat!  Where to start?

NOTE:  This trip was not swayed by sponsors – only my pennies!  I did graduate-level research on “Vegas for kids” and visited Groupon, Goldstar, Yelp LasVegas.com to find details and deals!  Here is my Vegas with Kids thesis – I swear it’s more interesting than my Master’s thesis. (Full extended reviews of each stop found here: Vegas Road Trip)

WE STARTED WITH A SPLASH!
We started by deciding what pool we’d want to play in, the room was secondary. We checked out everything from lazy rivers to sandy beaches but the Shark Tank pool at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino won. You can slide THROUGH the shark tank!

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Shot from the hotel’s website because my phone/camera isn’t waterproof!

THE ITINERARY FELL INTO PLACE…
FREESTYLE FREMONT STREET:
We timed our arrival to coincide with the electric evenings of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas!  We immediately headed towards SlotZilla ziplines to get a birds-eye view of the fun below under a video screen doubling as a technicolor sky!  I’d checked the weekend music schedule beforehand, reserving our zip time to soar during a rockin’ Bon Jovi song!  

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No really, it’s night!

My daughter and I flew, I screamed while praying that my son (waiting on the ground) wouldn’t get lost for the few seconds apart. He didn’t. He was stunned still by the circus that is the Fremont Street Experience!  It’s an amazing experience to bounce between multiple stages featuring different bands, while soaking in nostalgic old Vegas steaming with brand new, colorful energy!  

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Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel (Back to the Future 2) 

DAY STRIPPING:
To really take in the Strip, without wearing out our feet, Groupon sold me on a deal for the Big Bus Tours!  

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They picked up near our hotel and we hopped on and off again at many different locations including the photogenic Las Vegas sign, Circus Circus (also a transition point between two routes), and Everything Coca-Cola store (they’re not lying). Here we treated ourselves to flight of soda floats featuring Coca-Cola drinks from around the world in a variety of cola and fruity flavors!  

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Between us we were really full after sharing 1 flight of 8 mini floats!

TAKE PAUSE:
After dressing for the evening, we chilled at a coffee shop.  I sat on the sidelines sipping my cappuccino while my kids played chess.  When the older challenged the younger on a rule, only then were phones brought out to settle the disagreement. My younger daughter emerged victorious! My older accepted defeat gracefully – even giving her kudos.  That NEVER happens at home – call it vacation magic.

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NIGHT STRIPPING:
The kids were dazzled by casino lights and sounds as we walked through on our way to see the Blue Man Group!  Booking seats through Goldstar provided upgraded floor seats so we felt like part of the action (though not close enough where ponchos were needed)! We embellished ourselves with bright yellow strips of paper which later translated into a fantastic part of the show! As the show really got rocking, my kids’ senses worked overtime!  My 14 year old son felt like this was the closest thing to a rave he’d experienced!

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After pouring out of the theatre and matching the pace with the stream of people walking through the pulsing lights and music on the Strip, we decided late dinner was a must! The Hard Rock Cafe never disappoints and this location had a club pumping while we ate. We all loved our meals and probably even dream about them in between trips.

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THRILL OF DANGER:
Despite a late evening, the kids jumped out of bed the next morning to meet the Humvee chauffeuring us to Battlefield Vegas!  Groupon provided a great first-timer package for my son. Not the first time he’s shot at a range, just the first time he’s shot large guns.  The driver explained that Battlefield is run by ex-military and police officers who all know and respect firearms.  They impressed me with the lengths they go to prepare and protect you before entering the range.  Afterwards, we strolled around the tanks, helicopters and other vehicles in the yard!  We hoped someone would flatten a car with a tank – but we have to save something for next time!

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We returned to the hotel to finally slide through the shark tank!  One little girl had the right idea and slowed herself down in the tunnel so she could actually see the sharks – otherwise it’s a funtastic blur!  We splashed around the pool, and floated with our noses pressed against the glass of the huge shark tank!  We followed the sun as the afternoon progressed. Though tempting, I didn’t do any pool-side gambling.

As darkness took over, we headed to KISS Glow golf!  It totally rocked!  The kids enjoyed the rock-n-glow with the signature KISS obstacles on the course such as platform boots and guitar axes. The music rocked, but their collection of rock and roll memorabilia (from all sorts of rock bands) available for purchase impressed me even more! I really hoped someone would get married so we could witness a Vegas wedding in the chapel of KISS.

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WTF: (Whatever Teen Face) This IS my son’s face when he’s having fun.

 

The next day, we met my folks (who also happened to be in town) for a casual breakfast and then hit the road home.  The kids slept the whole way dreaming of what else to see next time! Not only did we blow the challenge out of the water, but so many things remain for us to return and discover!

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This is their old location, they’ve since relocated to the RIO!

What about you?
Have you had a great adventure in Vegas that you think we ought to try?  Let us know in the comments!
Anything only a local would know about?
Anything for even younger kids?

 

#GoldenNugget #FremontStreetExperience #CocaCola #EverythingCocaCola #Soda #Floats #MiniGolf #Glow #KISS #SharkTank #Pool #BattlefieldVegas #ShootingRange #Humvee #BlueManGroup #BigBus #Tour #RoadTrip #Vegas #LasVegas #TheStrip #Teen #Tween #FamilyFun

FAVORITE (& A FEW NEW) HOLIDAY ALBUMS

Whew, what a long spell without blogging! I’ll admit that I was surprised how events happening earlier this month on 11/9/16 scrambled my brain a bit and threw me off my blogging path!  Though I’d love to blame it on the election chaos, the truth lies in the fact that holiday music started playing around the clock on one of my favorite stations that same day – weeks before Thanksgiving!!  Now don’t get me wrong, music single-handedly gets me in the holiday mood faster than ugly sweaters and outlandish Christmas lights! Just call me old fashioned (or call me scarred from when I used to work in music and would hear holiday music heralding the halls in July) but I can’t listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving is done.

Now that you know my quirks, here are my traditions. We always buy one new Christmas album every year.  Below I’ll share with you our all time-favorites, and the highest contenders for this year.

CLASSICS
ELVIS PRESLEY – IF EVERY DAY WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS

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Nobody keeps you warmer on these cold winter nights. He’ll wrap you in his voice and sing to you as if you were cuddling by a fire. It has my all-time favorite song “Blue Christmas” and even has a holiday message from the King himself.
Runner up:  BING CROSBY – White Christmas

COMPILATION
THE BIG 80’s

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From Billy Squier to Hall & Oats, Pat Benatar, Queen, The Pretenders, The Smithereens and The Ramones – to name a few – my childhood favorites come together to perform the ultimate holiday concert!   It features the funtastic “Christmas Wrapping” song about the girl and the guy trying to hook up all year but holiday magic brings them together for cranberry one holiday eve!
Runner up: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS

DIVA
MARIAH CAREY – MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Just last night on the Disneyland Holiday TV special, this diva belted out her instant classic (that she wrote back in 1994) and the world sang with her: “All I Want for Christmas Is You!” Her gospel tracks on this album get you rolling into the holidays and praying for her to do a whole gospel album. I know there was MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU but it just wasn’t as DIVAlicious!
Runner up: CELINE DION – These Are Special Times

CAST
GLEE: THE MUSIC: THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM VOLUME 2

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Not only do we miss our favorite voices singing to us regularly, but the arrangements on this show have always been worth a closer listen. They artfully highlight everyone’s voices through their choices of songs and partners. My favorite features Santana (Naya Rivera) singing “Santa Baby.” I love how her voice captures the classic tune, but one can sense the power she’s holding back!
Runner Up: A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

CHILDREN
DISNEY CHRISTMAS FAVORITES, VOL. 2

 

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Honestly, pick up any Disney Christmas album and you’ll find a wonderful collection of classics and a new song or two. Characters will make you smile with songs, or you’ll find classic holiday tunes from the Parks.  I’ve never gone wrong with any holiday album from them and my kids love each one.
Runner Up: TIM BURTON’S A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A CAPELLA

THE NYLONS – HARMONY

xmasnylonsWhile Pentatonix is bringing a capella to the forefront again, I’m guessing The Nylons probably helped influence them.  You may know them best from their song “Lion Sleeps Tonight” but you need to know their version of “Carol of the Bells! Rather than a Runner Up in this category, let’s turn right into… 

2016 CHRISTMAS MUSIC

PENTATONIX – A PENTATONIX CHRISTMAS

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Speaking of Pentatonix, their career crescendo has hit a high note with the release of this, their 2nd, Christmas album. This group of vocalists who came from a variety of colleges (even one high school) and singing backgrounds to form the group that got its start on Youtube.com. Their “Hallelujah” video, released just 5 weeks ago, already has close to 12 million views.

SARAH MCLACHLAN – WONDERLAND

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Sarah’s angelic voice brings me to tears when singing any song, so pairing her with classic Christmas tunes truly brings the most golden sound you’ll hear.  After hearing her ethereal version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” you’ll feel as though angels were singing directly to you.  

SHE & HIM – CHRISTMAS PARTY

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Amazon Exclusive Deluxe Edition!

For those of you who may not know who makes up this duo, it’s a musical partnership of actress Zooey Deschanel on vocals and ukelele and M. Ward on guitars.  Their throwback sound perfectly teases us with an island holiday wishing “Mele Kalikimaka” – a classic everyone knows the chorus to, but now you can learn the rest of the verses.

What about you?
What is your favorite Christmas album?  Will you add to your collection?
If you wrote a holiday song about your life what would it be called?

 

#Pentatonix #Elvis #SheandHim #TheNylons #Glee #Gleek #Celine #CelineDion #Mariah #MariahCarey #Christmas #Holiday #NewYear #Soundtrack #Album #Disney #DisneyPixar #IBelieveInDisneyMagic #BingCrosby #NightmareBeforeChristmas #TimBurton #CharlieBrownChristmas #Peanuts #SarahMcLachlan #80s

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

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My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

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Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

19. IF YOU HAD TO MOVE TO A STATE OR COUNTRY BESIDES THE ONE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN, WHERE WOULD YOU MOVE AND WHY?

This question fits well into the conversations being held about the results of tomorrow’s United States Presidential election. While everyone else who threatened to move to Canada packs their bags, I’ll be heading to a different region. Right now it’s a two-way tie between 2 locations where it’s a gift to be able to take up residence in either town.

PROVENCE, FRANCE

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Click on photo to book a room to stay here. I don’t earn commission but I might beat you to it!

To me, this charming yet sturdy medieval area offers a romantic lifestyle filled with rolling lavender fields, weekend mornings spent walking through narrow streets to wide-open markets only to return with a basket filled with fresh flowers, produce and meat. One’s country home truly may be a castle, as sturdy as the medieval ones sprinkled throughout the valleys.  Walking into the ruins of any castle sends you back in time in history.  

Life feels simpler, yet more luxurious when starting the day rising slowly from your cloud of down beds and comforters. Vibrant purple lavender covers the countryside, bright yellow sunflowers populate the fields, and lemon yellow, blue, green and red cover many tables in town.  At the same time, one may wander from their farmhouse into a Michelin starred restaurant that serves the region’s best vintage wines and unforgettable food.

SANTORINI, GREECE

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Rent this spot through airbnb by clicking on the photo. Save our spot in the chairs, I’ll grab wine!

A certain confidence comes from living on top of a volcanic eruption, separate from other parts of the world on this island in the Aegean Sea.  One feels closer to God (or the Gods, based on Greek Mythology) based on the altitude and the frequency of beautifully domed churches.  In other parts of the world the layout of the island, with literally so many people living on top of each other, could test even people’s strongest nerves. In Santorini, the proximity means you have others to appreciate nature’s gifts with – as witnessed by how the whole island seems to take a break during the transition from day to night celebrating each sunset.

One feasts like the Gods with fresh Greek salads, feta cheese, phyllo dough drizzled in honey, fresh meats and sea foods nourishing our bodies. Suddenly the sculptures of the Greek Gods seem accurate in their portrayal of health and strength and totally achievable… until the ouzo and baklava comes out.  

Both of these places slow life down unapologetically and remind us that we are fortunate to inhabit this Earth. They’ve both been around for ages so stop and sit, listen and learn a while.

So VOTE in the comments! Where should I go? Where would you go?
Would you stay in your country, but just visit another state/province/territory?
Where have you visited that was the strongest departure from where you live?

 

#Greece #Santorini #Provence #France #SouthofFrance #MedievalFarms #MarcandAngel #HackLife #Vote #Election2016

CURRENTLY: November 2016

Here I am again, daydreaming and trying to distract myself from the election!  I’m hopeful for a quick and final decision so that we can shrug and move onto holiday preparation!  If you’d like to give yourself something else to think about and and do this exercise, share your links below!

CURRENTLY LOVING
Holidays are a family affair and I received this fun Knock Knock stuff that will weave the family together for this season. The 20 Holiday Vouchers help you enlist the family for assistance, but also remind you all to take family time over the holiday. The sweet Spread the Love journal becomes a keepsake remembering what about that person tugs on your heartstrings …and I guarantee it’ll pull on theirs!  Sorry, but the Vouchers already sold out for this year, but browse the Spread the Love journals – available in a variety of styles!

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CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
Don’t ever feel guilty about only sending a card again!  Letterpress Holiday cards by Papermum Press are a gift in and of themselves. The impression of the letterpress gives your card depth, and emphasizes the quality of the paper. For every color on the card, they pass each card through the printing press again. The printer’s expertise and artistic eye comes through in every card. Maybe we’ll get an up close look one day soon

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CURRENTLY DAY DREAMING ABOUT
My next themed birthday party.  I love doing themed parties – in the past I held a non-tragic TITANIC party for my son, a SPY TRAINING CAMP for my daughter.  For work, we recently hosted a conference but gave the guests the true California experience. Now, I’m creating an Oceans 16 themed event. Being a Walt Disney fan, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me. Pictures to come!

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
This music choice perfectly represents my gemini-ness:
21 Pilots Heathens perfectly portrays the delicate line between pained control of Marvel’s Suicide Squad’s outward appearance but also the betrayal that deeply scarred their hearts.

The Weeknd (featuring Daft Punk) produced a song Starboy that takes me away! The strong beat supports The Weeknd’s dreamy lyrics and the melody just makes my body move –  I’m a star girl!

CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH
In a world where life is often lived online for the world to see a gift with a secret code feels like something my loved ones would cherish. Though Morse Code was built for communication to connect two individuals, reinventing it into cherished modern jewelry as a way to connect two individuals warms my heart.  The style of the code easily fits with the styles worn by men or women!    

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CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
Every amazing movie from the 80s culminated in the new series Stranger Things!  My children and I binge-watched the series over two nights.  Though they don’t appreciate all of the symbolism from my teen years in the show,  they love the characters and the suspense.  We were thrilled to see that STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 recently started production!

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CURRENTLY WANTING
I know I’m in my mid-40s but the sloth ring may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I love the way the designer builds multiple parts to the ring to create depth with her animals. Maybe I’ll get one for myself “and for my daughter” (but it may escape and wander over to my jewelry box one night…)

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WTF: What?! Toes? Feet?

CURRENTLY AVOIDING
The media of all kinds (at least for the next 60 or so hours). Though this blog lives online and we all live in a social media world now, I feel as though the news agencies’ competition for ratings result in exaggerated, sensationalized and even falsified news. This crazy election exacerbated the problem.  So until the election washes over, my screen will be dark except to write my #NaBloPoMo posts. Now if only I could stop political mail from hitting my mailbox.

What favorite song represents you the best?
What indulgence reminds you of your childhood?
What happened to Barb?
Did you vote?

What about you? Consider these:
CURRENTLY REFLECTING
CURRENTLY DRINKING
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY PANICKING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

 

#Election #Vote #StrangerThings #MorseCode #Holidays #Sloth #Ring #Jewelry #Journal #KnockKnockStuff #TheWeeknd #21Pilots #Disney #Marvel #SuicideSquad #Heathens #Starboy #Letterpress #HolidayCards #NaBloPoMo #StarboyAMAs

TAKING A BULLET (JOURNAL) FOR YOU

I’ve always wavered between paper time management tools and electronic ones, probably because I deal with a daily showdown of my left and right brain. I love setting up new organizational systems but the first time the post-it notes start to take over, I know my system has failed.  

Until now, I used a combination of Outlook calendar, iCalendar on my phone, and a shared document spreadsheet to keep my family and life in order.

Rather than explain my madness, I’ll simply say that an “Analog System for the Digital Age” flew by my head one day, clipping my memory and leaving a lasting mark. It appears to be mindful, simple and succinct like my paper systems, yet stores and recalls info like a computer. Ryder Carroll invented this system called the BULLET JOURNAL (BuJo for short).

WHAT I LOVE:

  • This system seems streamline, visually clean, very adaptable and customizable, and works well with my creatively chaotic mind.

  • The scheduling system reminds me of a refined Franklin Covey system (which I used 15 years ago) so it already made sense to me. Like the Franklin Covey system, it’ll be the best thing that happened to me or the absolute biggest time suck.
  • I love that I can create layouts for any project or goal I have from reading books to exercise!

  • I love that I can be as streamline or embellished as I want – I decided to start simpler to form the habit of using it.
  • I love using colored pens – they make me happy! Pens that don’t get bloppy keep my hands clean and pages smudge-free! I have pens stashed in my purse, in my car and at my work desk.

      • Knowing how much I love books – carrying a bound journal with me feels elegant. 

      WHAT SCARES ME:

      • I’m a researcher and decided to do an internet search for Bullet Journal and almost lost my mind.  This system has blown up and evolved into:
      • So many creative systems (Pinterest)
      • Support groups (Facebook)
      • How-to videos (Youtube)
      • Fandoms (Instagram)
        for a second I was regretting finding this fabulous system.  
      • Seriously what started as an efficient dot, square, and journal system was taken hostage by all the scrapbookers and now the pages have doodles, washi tape, fancy folds, and calligraphy!  The way my mind works, if I can’t do it that beautifully – do I want to do it at all?
      • My OCD (self-diagnosed) and Type-A tendencies.  Though I did set up my journal and survived a few mistakes without hyperventilating.  

        MY JOURNAL:

        I researched what journal to get as well. Many people preferred the Leuchtturm1917 Journal with dots on the pages to help guide your pen. Due to the fact that I “had to” start my journal right away, I walked to the university bookstore where I work and walked out with a Moleskine graph journal with a pocket in back for forms I collect. No pen loop? No problem. 

        I started with a simple layout based exactly on Ryder’s system featuring:

        The Index

        The Weekly Layout (see Ryder’s video to learn how to set up your journal)

        Again, I started simple with the following key to guide me, but used colors to keep my categories separate.

        The 2nd month I decided to try a new Weekly Layout that allowed me to separate Household, Blogging/Social Media and Appointments/Miscellaneous.  This allows me to better visualize the plates I have in the air.


        NOTE: My Secret Code: Cursive! My kids can’t read it easily – which is another blog post all together!

        Will this be the perfect system for me? Only time will tell – but being in November, I’m starting to feel the pressure to commit to a system for 2017. Stay tuned…

        What about you? Have you tried bullet journaling? Do you have any layouts that have changed your life? Do you have a different system you love?

        #PILOT #ACROBALL #bulletjournalformoms #bulletjournal #bujo #organizers #calendar #organization #Moleskine #journal #Leuchtturm #RyderCarroll

        PJ WILDERNESS: 2nd STEP – ASK FOR TIME OFF

        Welcome back to the PJ Wilderness!  So now you’ve picked a destination but aren’t sure if you have the time.  Why is it we slave away being everything to everyone, meeting every deadline, closing deals, racking up vacation time, yet when it comes time to use it we feel guilty!?! Yet, how crazy do we feel when Monday rolls around, as always, and we haven’t found Me time?  These tips will help you find time to wander off through the PJ Wilderness whether you have vacation time to burn or not.

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        WTF: Wanted – Time Found

        Give yourself time off:
        You must give yourself permission to pay attention to you – it’s not selfish!  Your inbox will constantly overflow and your house will continually get messy (rapidly, if you have a family or roommates). Whether you feel the stress creeping up on you, or you have hit the wall and need to change now, you deserve to be a priority in your life.

        How Much Time?
        Start small: I am re-reading “Don’t sweat the Small Stuff” in my restroom.  It’s a small book broken down into even smaller chapters of 1-3 pages so I go in to brush my teeth and promise myself I won’t leave until I’ve absorbed another lesson.  It takes me off of auto-pilot and brings me to the present and I’ll chip away at the book (and it keeps me from rushing through my dental hygiene)!

        …or leap! Following my divorce, I forced myself into a large goal and recurring commitment to train a few hours a week for a marathon.  Also, because it was for charity – it got me around feeling guilty about taking the time for myself.

        Be flexible: You may not have the luxury of months off like Elizabeth Gilbert did. Bill Bryson didn’t make the journey in one large chunk of time, he took breaks.  Stay flexible like Cheryl Strayed did, whether you encounter spots that are tough to navigate through, or unexpected things pop up that require you to detour.

        Where to find time:

        • Hit snooze 1 less time (10 min) to meditate or pray
        • Hit snooze 2 less times (20 min) for yoga/stretches
        • Occasionally while eating (20 min) bring the company of a good book over people
        • Leave the phone home: Instead of checking texts, emails or social media, consider closing your eyes and listening, feeling, or with eyes and minds open, chat with someone close in proximity or people watch. Take a mental break to let your mind wander.
        • Stay in a hotel (Min. WHasdfasdf 1 night) and order room service, hog the bed and the remote, and indulge in comfort items such as lavender plants, potpourri, favorite pillow, or lotions to help you relax.
        • Make lists (varies) and you’ll spend less time looking for things, trying to recall where they are or what you were doing

        But it’s not “alone time”

        • At the stop lights (Varies) to stretch, take a few deep breaths, turn up the volume of your favorite song and sing along or feel the steering wheel to get present!
        • While at kids’ practices: (varies – 30 min to an hour) walk around where their practices are held. 
        • Divide and conquer: While folding laundry, I catch up on shows I have recorded. While the kids empty the dishwasher I blog or take a pinterest break. When they’re making their beds, I tend to my plants outdoors.
        • Change it up! Grab friends or family and shock your routine to supercharge your creativity and increase your fun tolerance!  Movies on a school night; take a long-cut on the way home to stick your toes in the ocean; get a mani/pedi – though I can do my own nails, I love going to the salon to catch up on my gossip magazines

        Simply put, when you decide to make something a priority, it will be. So put yourself at the top of your list.

        Next time we’ll talk about mapping your destination!

        What about you? Where do you steal a few moments for yourself?
        Which do you find easier: Time Management or Time Travel?
        When’s the last time you did something just for you?
        Have you read any of the above “Find yourself in the wilderness” books?

         

        #EatPrayLove #Gilbert #Bryson #AWalkInTheWoods #Strayed #Wild #Time #MeTime #PersonalTime #AloneTime #Down Time #MentalBreak #NaBloPoMo

        HOW’D I WIND UP LIVING IN ONE OF THE 10 BEST PLACES IN CA?

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        Shhh! Don’t tell anyone or housing prices will continue to skyrocket, but [whisper] my city was voted one of the 10 Best Places to Live in California! Upon hearing this announcement, (you can call it a midlife or nostalgia) I wanted to retrace our journey that directed us to Redondo Beach.

        On my first visit to the area, 15 years prior to setting down roots here, it wasn’t the sunshine that drew me in, but the taste of the salty air and sound of the waves crashing against the pier pilings. Running between the hot spots, lost in the woody maze of the pier, the texture felt familiar. It was reminiscent of the boardwalk edging the east coast of my childhood. That night, I was there for one fun time and didn’t realize that the sites and sounds would seep into my being (and eventually dictate the feel of my blog).

        Later, when I found myself rewriting my 5-year plan (divorcing, starting over), I felt going home to San Diego would be giving up, but I knew I couldn’t stay put either as my time was up. Initially, upon moving to the coast, I didn’t recall having been there before. Plus, I didn’t know how long I’d stay. 

        Our lives were a bunch of moving parts: Me going through a divorce and starting a new job, my oldest child entering kindergarten, and the youngest at her most active age of 2. I was falling fast, flailing my arms to pull together loose ends and create a new normal.  I’d chosen the area for the following 3 reasons: 1) Great schools; 2) Closer to family; 3) I felt I could just slip right in unnoticed.  Part of me was led by a romantic notion that the sea air and sunsets would heal my uprooted spirit.

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        At first, I felt I was nothing but noticeable (in my own head) as the divorced mom in a field of adorable married couples. But that big D on my shirt got less noticeable as I focused on helping my kids build their new community as quickly as possible by joining teams! Through my son’s soccer, daughter’s t-ball, and my Team In Training, we met amazing people and slowly started tipping the scales as our happiness grew and life experiences became richer.  

        We met other parents who helped me set the kids on a positive and hopefully long, windy path of discovery about themselves.  Growing up, I’d moved a lot and lived places for on average 4 years. I started a lot of things, then left many of them undone. I never did a drastic mid-school year move or anything, but as soon as I’d get to know people, or be introduced to something fun, we’d move, and do something different. So when it came time to choose where we’d move, it was a significant decision that I didn’t take lightly.

        I love that our city that feels larger than some of its neighbors, but occupies a small footstep within our county. It is anchored with main streets with entertainment, food and shopping, yet at the same time, the horizon is wide open with opportunity and possibility. I love that we’ve actively worked to become a Blue Zone – I’ll explain in the next few weeks – which increases the strength and health of a community!

        10 years is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I laugh as I ponder that to newcomers, I’m a local! While I never hope to repeat the circumstances that brought us here, I’m certainly glad for where we landed and grew roots.

        KEEPING UP WITH THE KID ACTION:  POKÉMON GO – WHAT ARE THOSE?!

        So sorry! Seeing a Pokémon ball, Pokémon hunter, and a Jigglypuff out Trick-or-treating made me realize I left y’all hanging since my last Poképost!

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        While wandering around the Pokémon GPS map, a fantastic, mythical creature popped up in your path! What now?  Today’s goal is to get you out there catching any and all Pokémon, plus tools to help you! Pokémon types, evolutions and powers come later*! Again, I use an iPhone 5 – if there are differences with Samsung or better iPhones, leave comments in the bottom.  *Topics with an asterisk will be discussed in a future post – coming soon! If you have specific questions or advice, leave them in the comments below!

        TO CATCH POKÉMONS
        When the Pokémon first appears near you on the map tap on it!

        LOOKS LIKE: The Pokémon will become roughly centered in your line of sight. You will now see the character either where it appears in your reality, or in its world. 

        WHADDYA DO:
        You should have a red, white and black Poké ball at the bottom of your screen. 
        Put your finger on the Poké ball.

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        You will see a white stationery circle and a colored circle that gets smaller form on the Pokémon’s head. Slide the ball up the screen then release your finger to launch it towards the circles. If you miss, keep going. If you catch one a ray of light draws the Pokémon into your ball.

        TIP: The Pokémon’s CP number and the color of the inner circle indicate how difficult it will be to catch. Green is easiest, yellow a bit tougher, orange harder still and red is hardest. As you get more practice, aim for the inner colored smaller circle.

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        IF YOU CAUGHT POKÉMON
        The ball opens and captures the Pokémon. A red light flashes and after 3 pulses, it shoots stars celebrating your capture.

        A screen shows much Stardust and Pokémon Candy you earned (to help you Power Up* and Evolve* Pokémon) and how many XP points you earned (notice more points for fancy throws) to help you level up.

        The second screen shows your Pokémon’s CP (strength) and other powers* we’ll cover to build a strong team.

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        If it’s a new Pokémon, it gets registered in your Pokédex.

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        Then you are returned to your map view.

        IF POKÉMON ESCAPES THE BALL
        You can:
        a)
         Keep trying
        b) Run away (by clicking small running man button in top left of screen)
        c) Use more advanced throws.*
        d) Use tools from your bag such as a Razz Berry or a more advanced trap (once you’ve reached a certain level). Tap on the backpack button and it shows you what in your bag is available to be used to help you.

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        NOTE: Occasionally the Pokémon disappears in a cloud of smoke. You’ll have to wait until the next time your paths cross.

        WHAT’S IN MY BAG
        When on your regular GPS map view, click on the red, white and grey Pokémon ball at the bottom of your screen. The click on the backpack icon “ITEMS” to find these things (and if you don’t, you will as you level up):

        POTIONS

        To help heal or revive your Pokémon after battling in gyms. Sometimes you’ll have to apply more than one.  If you click on them, it’ll show you which Pokémon need to take it. Clicking on the trashcan next to the name allows you to get rid of some to help keep your bag balanced.

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        POKÉ BALLS
        You must have these to catch Pokémon! As you level up, you’ll earn balls capable of catching higher and higher CP Pokémon. You can buy more – but instead, visit Pokéstops to collect more!

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        SUBSCRIBE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS:  HOW TO MANAGE MY POKÉMON and WHAT DO ALL THE NUMBERS MEAN?

        I know school limits the amount of time people can play, but the new Buddy feature* helps  you evolve Pokémon faster and I’m hopeful there will be more special promos like they did at Halloween with double the candy earned.  Happy Hunting!

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        WTF: Walk to find!

         

        Are you still playing? What level are you?
        Do you have any tips?
        How has Pokémon changed your lifestyle?  I’ll let you in on our changes next time.

        #PokemonGo #Nintendo #Niantic Labs #Pokemon #Updates

        TOP 10 BEST ADVENT CALENDARS

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        Now that we howled through Halloween I feel like life becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders leading up to Christmas!  On the one hand, time slows down the hourglass a bit as your to-do list becomes filled with larger projects and many social gatherings. On the other hand, it always comes too fast for me. I always wish I had a few more paychecks between now and then to play, gift and donate to everyone I want to.

        So let me start by leap-frogging to December 1st!  For me, anticipation builds my excitement for any holiday! For Christmas, my internal clock gets a break because Advent calendars builds my holiday spirit – one day at a time! While some people carry a traditional method of counting down, I love to mix it up a bit to keep my kids on their toes.

        In no particular order, because my vision of the holidays changes annually, here are my family’s favorite Advent Calendars!

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        So many adventures come from one tiny calendar! Play well with other Legos too!

        1.  Lego Star Wars – After getting this calendar you may not need to do Christmas.  Lego and Star Wars tie for favorite toys with my children so while this calendar carries a larger lifetime – the life of its daily toy is longer than any other from this group. Plus these daily lego toys spawn creativity and the engineering side of my children’s minds which also goes a long way.

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        Treat yourself!

        2.  Chocolate – Coming off of Halloween, you may not be as eager to rush out and get a chocolate calendar – until I tell you it’s made by Cadbury!  You may want to buy one for yourself (and a bottle of red wine) and treat yourself during the season where you’re considering everyone else’s treats!

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        For a how-to tutorial, click the picture!

        3.  DIY Paper Rings – I’d say most of us made these rings out of construction paper and hung them on the wall or framing our door to count down days for the holidays or vacations. Whether as a calendar or decoration, its a fun tradition to sit together and make these. During these still quieter moments, the fun stories of old come forth again.  

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        4.  Melissa & Doug Tree – This lovely calendar will become a family tradition as everyone remembers their favorite ornaments to hang on this wooden tree.  The whole family’s excitement will grow as the ornaments decorate more and more of the tree! Melissa & Doug products last long enough to be passed down.

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        5.  Nativity Scene – As a beautiful reminder for the reason for the season, these calendars recreate the Nativity story with a new addition each day. This gives one plenty of time to ponder each new addition to the story and stop to really consider its significance!

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        WTF: Welcome These Favorites to your home!  (C) Disney

        6.  Tsum Tsum – Your favorite Disney characters win you over again now that they’re adorably oval! Tsum tsums were this year’s hottest collectible and create stacks of smiles! Again, the hours spent with these will outlast the holiday!

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        I love the simplicity of this look from the allfortheboys.com blog!

        7.  DIY Grab bag – Who doesn’t love opening presents?  This way your family gets a small daily gift you can tailor to fit your style!  Go as simple as a brown paper bag with raffia, all the way to decorative cellophane bags. Gifts can range from Bonus tickets: Watch an extra Christmas special! to favorite treats, or notes to your family! To really torture them, give them 1 clue a day about some surprise that will come their way at Christmas!

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        Click thru to learn how to make the Gratitude Calendar (originally from pragmaticmom.com blog)

        8.  Gratitude – I saw this idea on another blog and LOVE it!  This idea is similar to the one above, only fill each bag with a random act of kindness to complete for others.  OR you can create a Gratitude Journal as they do in the blog post and write down the things you’ve completed – or write down one thing you’re grateful every day. Warms your heart better than hot chocolate!

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        9.  Alcohol calendar – To warm your hot chocolate one step farther – may I suggest Alcohol Advent calendars.  I found a company that creates a calendar for you featuring scotch whisky, bourbon, rum or vodka (to name a few). You can peruse their site like a kid in a candy store and custom make your own calendar.  You’re welcome!

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        10. Wedgewood blue and white jaspar ware (Limited edition of 3; only 1 available online) – For that relative who has everything, why not surprise them with this amazing calendar. Wedgewood’s delicately decorative exquisite pieces set the tone for an exquisite holiday.

        What about you?
        Do you mix it up each year or use an heirloom calendar?
        Can you share other ideas for wonderful ways to count down to the holidays?
        Feel free to share ideas or links!

        Please note that some of these posts contain affiliate links through which I may earn a few coins should you purchase your calendar through them.

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