Summer Bucket List

DSCF6939Now that the school year has officially ended and I’ve completed my required summer trainings, I’m ready to settle down and create a routine that embraces and affords allotted times for my new commitments. Even with new endeavors ahead of me, there are still some fun and relaxing things I want to take the time and enjoy this summer. If I achieve them all, GREAT! If not, I’ll have fun trying.

  1. Eat a bowl of cereal – While this seems very simple, eating a bowl of cereal is difficult for me. I am not a morning person so I plan my mornings with having  enough time to leave the house and arrive to my destination on time, without having to rush to get there. This means I often eat breakfast in the car and we all know eating cereal and driving is not a good idea. If you know me, you know sitting and having a bowl of cereal means I am in a mode of total relaxation. Eating a bowl of cereal means my day is going to be slow and deliberate. These are days I can stop and smell the roses. I am hoping to eat a bowl of cereal at least twice a week this summer.
  2. Attend an Astros game – I have not been to an Astros game since I was a kid. Even after winning the World Series title, I still failed to jump on the bandwagon and support the home team. This summer I would like to revisit my childhood by going to a game and enjoying peanuts and a Dr. Pepper while sitting in Minute Maid Park with the roof open.
  3. Take another wine tour – I am definitely what one would consider a social drinker so I don’t know much about wines and whatnot. However, after attending a couple of wine tours/tastings, I have enjoyed assessing different wines. What I’ve discovered about myself is while I dislike blueberries, I love wines with blueberry flavor.
  4. Read at least six books – My reading has fallen off in the last couple of years. I use to read 2-3 books/month. Now I read 5-6 books a year. I want to get back into the habit of reading and enhancing my knowledge of different topics. One of the reasons my reading has fallen off is because I’ve expanded my choice of reading selections. At one point my library consisted of mostly drama and erotica. I am now reading more self help, nonfiction books and children’s fiction. This adjustment has caused some delays in my reading goals but I’m very task-oriented so I’ll make myself uncomfortable to achieve this goal even if it’s only for the sake of satisfaction and elation.
  5. Attend a drive-thru movie – Again, this is another pastime favorite. As a young girl, this was one of our monthly outings as a family. My small family went to a drive-thru movie a few years back. My son really enjoyed the movies while my husband and I enjoyed relaxing, napping and the concessions. It was a very quiet evening and time well spent with the ones I love.
  6. Participate in restaurant week – Restaurant week occurs around the time of my birthday. I usually pick a new restaurant to enjoy dinner for my birthday but this year I would like to make an effort to try at least four to five new restaurants during this time. I will probably go during lunch hours since the prices are slightly lower. I know the portions are smaller but I would rather a sample before spending the big bucks.
  7. Take an impromptu trip – My trips are usually planned well in advance. I want to pack a bag and take a small getaway at the spur of the moment this summer. It doesn’t have to be a far away destination, it can actually be a staycation. I just want a chance for a different scenery for a brief moment.
  8. Attend an outdoor concert – I attended my first concert a couple of years ago and I would have never imagined having the fun I had. I love music but I am not a fan of crowds so I didn’t know if I would be able to relax and focus on the music instead of the people. My husband and I were were able to get seats with very few people behind us and even fewer people on the same row. Since I love being outdoors, I want to combine my passion for music with being outdoors.
  9. Improve my photography skills – I took a photography class some years ago. I was able to meet some dynamic people and many potential photographers. I learned so many things I was doing wrong not only in taking pictures but having others take pictures of me. I practiced a lot after taking that class but in an area like photography, I need reinforcement. Because I did not continue to practice the craft, I went back to just snapping pictures.
  10. Use my passport again – The process for my passport was quite overwhelming. Due to some name changes that were undocumented, it was a tedious process for me to gather paperwork to support the name listed on my ID versus the name on my birth certificate. With all the trouble I went through just to get the passport, I think I owe myself a few more stamps.

What are your plans for the summer? Are you planning fun-filled activities, trying something for the first time or are you “just coolin”?

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Summer??? Is That You?

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With less than two weeks to go in the school year, I am anticipating the last day of school. In an effort to leave on the last school day when the clock strikes 12:00 (noon that is), I have started my own check out procedures. I am looking forward to taking time away from other’s kids and spending more time with my own. I want to have a moment of selfishness and relax, focus on my family and live life as if I have not a worry in the world. Yes, it’s safe to say I am looking forward to summer (break)!

My summer break has to include trips to the beach. I can’t swim but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go to the beach and listen to the sound of the waves. The sound of water mixed with laughter is pure joy to me. And besides hearing sounds of pleasure, I also like putting on a cute bathing suit.

Another reason I look forward to summer is the thrill of taking our summer vacation. We finally narrowed our options down to two choices and before summer ends, I will surely post about our destination of choice and the fun we had.

In the midst of finalizing travel plans, taking a trip to the beach, coaching and starting school, again, I am looking forward to having down time. I am planning to catch up on my reading, watch all the reruns of Law and Order until I fall asleep, go to the gym for Zumba classes, and lounge around the house listening to my son’s stale jokes. Oh, and I plan to intake at least half of calories I burn at the gym eating “fun foods”. Hurry up and come through summer, this girl has been waiting on you!

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And I Quote…

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As much as I enjoy reading, I don’t always have time to sit and bury myself in a book. Sometimes it takes months to read a book and other times I can finish a book in a couple of days. Reading daily is essential for me, so many days I have to look for books or passages that are short and easy reads. When reading new material, I keep a journal and I often write phrases/sayings that I come across that are appealing to me. On some of those days when I can’t peruse a good book, I will skim through my journal of quotes. Listed below are quotes that are definitely some of my favorites:

  1. ” Don’t bite me with my own damn dog.”
  2. “Expectations lead to disappointments.”
  3. “The gate that locks others out also locks you in.”
  4. “The heart plays by its own rules.”
  5. “Can’t trap somebody who’s already in a cage.” –
  6. “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
  7. “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”
  8. “Whoever I am or whatever I am doing, some kind of excellence is in my reach.”
  9. “You win some, you lose some and some get rained out but you still have to suit up for them all.”
  10. “We are twice armed if we fight with faith.”

While my journal of quotes provides easy reading, it also serves as a motivational tool. On days when I feel overwhelmed, being able to find a few encouraging words definitely lifts my spirits and sometimes the words on the page just remind me to keep going.

 

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“We Girls Can Do Anything”

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If you’re a fan of Barbie, you know the philosophy of Barbie was that, “Through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be.” Barbie was always there to represent the idea that a woman had choices. As Barbie has grown over the years, we have witnessed Barbie unfold not only as a beautiful woman but a woman of substance. We’ve seen the firefighter, astronaut, nurse, pilot, teacher, president, and even mother. Over the span of her existence, Barbie has had over 200 careers and through it all has remained the epitome of elegance and intelligence.

Beginning at the age of five, I always added a Barbie to my Christmas list. It didn’t matter how many I had or how much they looked alike, I wanted another Barbie and her latest fashion collections yearly. Barbie made me feel like I could conquer the world. I lived in a world full of hopes and dreams and I always believed if I wanted it, it was mine to have. Barbie had a dream house, a nice car, a good looking man and the hottest fashions. But Barbie was also created with the idea that you had to work hard for these types of gains.

For years now, I’ve lived a comfortable life. But lately, I’ve found myself so satisfied that I’ve become stagnant. Everything has become robotic and so full of repetition that I don’t feel I am doing all that I can do or all that I desire to do. I have excelled at being an educator. I am a selfless, diligent and supportive mother. I serve as a strong, determined, and dependable wife. And while I thoroughly enjoy being a wife, mother and educator, it’s no longer enough. This year I decided I was going to revisit my “Barbie” years. I decided I wanted to do more, add a little more substance to who I am, and give myself an opportunity to play by my own rules.

As things are starting to unfold, I sometimes become overwhelmed. For the last couple of years, I have said I wanted to go back to coaching next year. Well, according to God’s plan, coaching was on the agenda this moment. It has given me an opportunity to have a major influence over the direction my son is going in as it relates to track and it has also given me the opportunity to work with a group of amazing young ladies that I can impact beyond the track.

Twenty plus years later, I have also officially enrolled as a graduate student. When I graduated college, I wanted a break and said I would start a master’s program after five years. Five years later, I was an educator and preparing for motherhood. As my son approaches the ending of a new beginning, I have found this to be the most opportune time to jump in and go. While I am nervous, I am excited about the direction I am moving in. This is the next step of making all of my dreams come true. And as I move into the territory of the unknown I walk boldly in my purpose knowing that “The fate of the world is in the hands of one beautiful girl.”

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Looking towards the future.

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Reflecting on my past.

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For the Love of Mickey

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I think we can all agree Mickey Mouse is an all time favorite for kids and adults alike. Whether it’s his popularity, his personality or his positivity,  people love Mickey Mouse. I, myself, have been a fan of Mickey Mouse for years. I adore him for his creativity and longevity. After a few interactions with most people, they tell me, “This is what I know about you from observation. Your favorite drink is Dr. Pepper and you love Mickey Mouse.” Whenever I  am dressed in casual, comfy clothes, I am sure to have on some type of Mickey Mouse paraphernalia. Not only do I love Mickey Mouse gear, I love many of the quotes associated with Mickey (via Walt Disney). Listed below are a few of my favorites:

  • ‘To laugh at yourself is to love yourself.”
  • “Don’t stress over anything you can’t change.”
  • “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”
  • “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

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Helicopter Parenting – Enough is Enough

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Clearly there were two cameras here. LOL!

One of my goals for being a parent was to always be the best parent I could be. That included knowing everything about my son, going to all of his events (school and extra-curricular), chaperoning field trips, fixing lunches, placing love notes in his lunch box, helping with homework, and even sitting outside the school waiting for him to finish after school activities. I envisioned him jumping in the car, grabbing his afternoon snack and enjoying the ride home. We would have dates at least every other weekend. We would go to the movies, dinner, sporting events and take mini getaways. Clearly, I was delusional.

I spent the first half of my son’s life doing most of these things. We were inseparable. I would go to work and commit the rest of my hours to meeting his needs. I was always available to be the “team mom” because I knew I would be at whatever event he was a part of. I never missed a program and was even the fundraising coordinator for his school because I spent that much time supporting them through supporting him. I literally sat at the table with him doing nothing while he did his homework because I needed to understand what he was learning at school. We recited scripture daily for Bible drills, practiced spelling words, and I checked every single assignment he completed. When I would go to complete a task, he had to be in the same vicinity so I could keep a watchful eye on him. I figured he would make few mistakes or get in little trouble if I kept him close to me. I would forever be there to guide him. And then life happened.

The first thing I realized is my son was capable of doing so much more but I was actually hindering him by trying to do it all. I needed to allow him to find his own voice and stand up for himself when things didn’t go as planned. The second thing I realized is I was making my life miserable trying to separate my life as a mother, wife and educator. I needed balance and he needed independence. The more control I gave him over his life, the more control he took over his life. But because I had always been right by his side, I worried over every little thing. One day my husband asked me would I consider myself to be a “helicopter parent”? LOL, of course I did, at that time.

Seventeen years later, I’m still learning to let go. But thankfully, during the early years, I woke up and realized one day my son would move on and I would have to figure out life all over again. Would I have friends? Would I know how to date my husband? Would I be able to identify myself outside of motherhood? Not knowing the answers to those questions caused me to adjust quickly. It registered in that moment that enough was enough. I needed to keep my own identity while allowing him to develop his. Being a helicopter parent was not the most rewarding thing that could have happened. Allowing him to make mistakes, correct them and grow from his own experiences has been more gratifying than anything I imagined.

 

 

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Lace and Leather

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Dressing up is so delightful for me. I spend so much time in sweats and jeans, I get a thrill out of getting fancy. My husband and I planned a date that consisted of dinner and a night of jazz. As stated previously, I always try to put together a fresh look when we are headed out for dates.

This “hot” number was purchased from a boutique I found on Instagram. When I received my purchase, while I was very pleased with the skirt, the original top was too revealing and a tad bit small for my liking. Because I was obsessed with the skirt I didn’t want to bother with trying to send the items back and having to find another product due to their “exchange only” policy. I pushed the skirt to the side and figured I would come across something at a later date to pair with it.

While cleaning out my closet a few weeks later, I came across a leather and lace top I had purchased from Express and placed in the back of my closet. It still had the tags on it and I had contemplated donating it on a couple of occasions. After doing a once over, I realized it might work with my new purchase that had placed in the back of the closet as well. This combination turned out to be perfect and my husband actually thought the top had been bought with the skirt. This outfit was full of comfort and sensuality.

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Mini Skirts for the Win

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As we approach spring, I am looking forward to warmer weather, sundresses and mini skirts. I am fond of the vibrant colors that seem to come with spring selections in my favorite stores, sandals and a level of comfort I can only feel in a skirt or a dress. While I love the flow of maxi dresses, I tend to opt for just the opposite when choosing my skirts.

I am always in favor of a mini skirt. Growing up I always bought a mini skirt or mini skirt set when shopping for school clothes. Honestly, I love to show my legs and I also believe you can add more “flavor” to a mini skirt. You have the option of flats, thigh high boots, sandals, tennis shoes, etc. Mini skirts give you diversity.

This number was found on the clearance racks of Express and the color caught my eye. Since I opted for a simple, white blouse, I chose to add some color with my shoe selection. I chose a shoe that totally contrasted my skirt but had shades of pink in the design. And let’s not forget that belt to give that waistline a slimmer appeal. This turned out to be a very cool, casual and comfortable outfit for the win!!

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California Knows How to Party

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As stated in Always Ready For a Trip, my husband loves to drive. He feels we have more options for our vacation when driving and driving also eliminates timelines. When we decided to head to California, I thought we were going to make an exception this time and purchase flight tickets. But NOOOOO, my husband was ecstatic about the 24 hour drive to California. He had it all planned out. We would leave at 5:30 A.M., drive for 12 hours, have dinner, rest and finish the last 12 hours on day two. I was tired from thinking about the first 12 hours so I definitely couldn’t fathom the idea of doing it twice on back to back days. However, I thought California was a perfect vacation spot for our small family and as long as he didn’t ask me to drive, I was willing to endure this lengthy and extensive trek.

When we got to California, guess what we did? You guessed it, rest! We had a full trip planned so we actually scheduled a day of relaxation before getting the party started. We officially started our excursion in Anaheim with a trip to Disneyland. Upon arrival at the park, we discovered the MLB All Star Parade was passing by the entrance of the park. That was a very nice surprise and we actually stood around taking pictures as if we had come for the parade. We spent two days at Disneyland because we wanted to take our time perusing the park, ride as many rides as we could, eat as many snacks as our stomachs could take, visit both parks and stay until midnight to see the fireworks at the end of the night. Buying two-day passes allowed us to get a late start if needed and we were able to move in and out the park for breaks. Best idea ever as it gave us time to regroup when needed and come back for more fun.

 

 

After Disneyland we drove into Los Angeles and went to The Hollywood Walk of Fame. We walked the streets looking at the stars and we absolutely had to find the Hollywood Sign. While in Los Angeles we also toured ESPN and had lunch in the ESPN headquarters. After leaving ESPN we decided to walk around the street to Staples Center and view the statues. A gentlemen that was a host at the circus thought my son was exiting the circus and gave him an opportunity to provide commentary. My son was laughing because he didn’t have a clue what to say but he was too shy to tell the gentlemen he had not been at the circus. He loved the idea of being at the booth so he just stood there with a smile.

 

From Los Angeles we traveled to San Diego to visit the San Diego Zoo. This is where we failed to prepare. We were not expecting the zoo to be of such great magnitude. We purchased one day passes but we just couldn’t cover the property in one day. We visited as many animals as we could and eventually gave up and called it a day. While we didn’t get to see all the zoo had to offer, we saw enough to understand the excellence of this menagerie.

 

Of course we would end this trip at our favorite place, the beach. We all know California is known for its beaches and after this trip I fully understood why. We spent time at Mission Beach teaching our son how to ride a surfboard, relaxing and watching the sunset. This was a great ending to our trip before heading back to the great state of Texas. By the time we left the beach I was so rejuvenated I took the wheel for a few hours heading home. California is definitely a lively place and I enjoyed the ambiance of “Cali”.

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Sssh! I’m Reading

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” Dr. Seuss

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As grade age students, we are all encouraged to read. Then we hit puberty and think we have more important things to do other than reading a book. Like so many others, I was a book worm in elementary school but honestly can’t recall a single time I picked up a book for recreational reading in middle school. In high school, I was force fed the grade level English curriculum. It required me to read novels and I did what was necessary to complete the requirements and nothing more. Between sixth grade and my junior year of college, I never read a book unless it was essential to me earning an excellent grade in class. My junior year of college a professor recommended we read three books for recreation. I thought it was the craziest suggestion an adult could ever make to another adult. Did this lady not understand I was there to earn a degree and not read a book because she thought it was a good idea? She would remind us every week to grab the three books The Bridges of Madison County, Brothers and Sisters and Sisters and Lovers.

A year after completing the class, I found myself passing a bookstore and two of the books were on the shelf outside the store. For some odd reason I could still remember the name of all three books. Since I could recall the names of each of the books and two of the three were sitting outside of the bookstore, I figured I was supposed to read these books at some point in my life and I had gotten to that point. I ended up purchasing all three books and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. From that point on I couldn’t resist buying a good book to read and shortly after falling in love once again with reading I found the book Will the Real Women Please Stand Up by Ella Patterson.

I consider this book to be a “women’s bible” to enhance appropriate social interactions, relationships, etiquette and personal appearance. Ella Patterson discusses physical fitness, how to own your sexuality and even how to turn a man on without turning him away. As stated in Want to Get Away?, this book is the very reason I refuse to walk around with broken nails and chipped nail polish. The author gave me a true awareness of self. Using this book, I self assessed who I was and I’ve continued to use it to have a full understanding of who I want to become. While this is not a goal setting book. there are tips to get you recognized as soon as you walk into a room be it for a job interview or date.

Will the Real Women Please Stand Up is a book I read every year. While I don’t read it chapter for chapter, I do focus on areas I can refine and I refer back to it for the sake of doing “touch-ups”. This book was a life saver in my younger adult years. There were so many subjects I would have never thought to approach that I became totally comfortable with. I was truly able to embrace who I was as a woman because of this book and the professor that unknowingly gave me the passion to read again.

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