John’s LA Week

John was in LA for a work conference from Sunday-Thursday.

I was dreading morning drop-off four days in a row with a couple of extra early mornings at school, but Elijah spoiled me. I even had time to grab Starbucks twice. Thank you, mobile orders.

Our 80-degree weather was warmer than John’s, but he had a pool view. While we were embracing the warmth for park dates, John was able to take in a Lakers game. I’m glad his trip wasn’t all work, but I was jealous when we FaceTimed and I saw the palm trees and his balcony. If only the timing would have been different, I would have spent my week along side of him. Another time.

Fall in South Bend

It’s not fall until we’ve cheered on the Irish.

An extra day during Labor Day weekend made the trip to South Bend a relaxing one. Combing the 49-16 victory over Temple with the picture-perfect weather, and the weekend was perfect.

We arrived to campus early Saturday morning and scored an outdoor table at O’Rourke’s. John went straight for the Guinness, but I loved sipping an Irish coffee on a cool morning as we watched the crowds arrive.

We made our way around campus to all of the hot spots before the game and finally took in the newly remodeled stadium. It was the first game with the video board, and it definitely changed the experience. The cheerleaders are no longer in charge of pumping up the crowd because the video picture and sound take over. My favorite moment was when the video board showed the team saying the “Our Father” in the locker room and then followed them the few steps onto the field immediately after the prayer. I love that a fall football weekend can spotlight faith and tradition more than tailgating.

Thank to my parents who kept our little bear for a few days and spoiled him with plenty of ice cream and love! We’re so thankful we can get away and know Elijah is in good hands and having just as much fun as his parents.

The Markket

A group of English teachers didn’t let the fact that The Markket is spelled “wrong” bother us once we were blown away by its beauty and charm.

The Markket in Edgewood, IA, a new destination to all of us, was just one stop during our day trip. This home decorating store opened a couple of months ago and displays gorgeous home furnishings, full kitchens, and stunning woodwork. The gray/blue kitchen cabinet model gave me some serious home envy. The store also features paint, decorations, rugs, curtains…etc. from the Joanna Gaines collection in Waco, Texas. If you watch Fixer Upper, this store is her style of modern meets rustic. Is that a style?

Another highlight of the trip was time outside at Franklin Street Brewery. Even though we work together every day during the school year, a lot of our conversations revolve around our students. Time away from school and out of town was a breath of fresh air. It put a limit on the “teacher talk” and allowed us to just catch up with each other as friends.

If you want to join us next year, let’s get a date on the calendar NOW. Summers fill up too fast. Destination TBD.

The last two years we’ve spent a summer day at the White Water Park and a couple of days soaking up Life at the Lodge.

Blank Park Zoo

Introducing Elijah to his first zoo was on this year’s summer bucket list. Even though I’m convinced he thought every animal was a “pup-pup”, he loved it. Side note, he gets very distracted on walks when a puppy goes by, and I absolutely love his excitement and curiosity. He can also hear a dog barking long before I hear it. Little ears but a lot of love for animals.

Our friends Paige and Tony joined us with their little girl, Harlow. Watching Harlow and Elijah interact was a joy in itself. Even though we live a couple hours apart, more playdates for these two are a must!

Choosing a Vacation Hotel

Following our California vacation, my friend Katie asked how we always manage to find incredible hotels/resorts when we go on vacation. My answer might surprise you.

Instagram.

I use Expedia to book flights and hotels, but Instagram tells the honest story. I started using Instagram to look into hotels because I wanted to know if pictures people were posting at these places actually looked like the sales photos sponsored by the hotel. Written reviews only tell you so much. Instagram gives you real, present time photos. You simply search the hashtag of the hotel (or surrounding area), for example #hyattregencyhuntingtonbeach or #marriottwaikiki and judge for yourself. Most resort style hotels have their own Instagram, so make sure you’re looking at people’s photos who aren’t getting paid to tell the story.

Since this extra step really seems to work, I wanted to share.

Celebrating Seven Years


John and I celebrated our anniversary at Santa Catalina Island- Avalon.

We started our morning in Huntington Beach and took an Uber to Long Beach before boarding the Catalina Express for a hour boat ride to the island.

I’ve been to California a handful of times, but this was my first time on the island. It’s charming. The bright beach homes nestled in the hill, the seafood restaurants right on the ocean, the ice cream and coffee shops lining the streets, and of course the rows and rows of boats docked make this worth the travel.

The pictures only begin to highlight the island’s beauty.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to celebrate marriage with a man who challenges me to be a better version of myself each day. Love doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Seattle Highlights

I learned my way around downtown Seattle quickly. I had breakfast and coffee at the market every morning, and I usually wandered down every afternoon, too. Since the original Starbucks is located in this area, early mornings were the only time without a line all the way down the street. I walked right in, ordered my Venti coffee with hazelnut syrup, and I was on my way for the day. I’m not one to purchased souvenirs when I travel, but a Starbucks ceramic mug from the original shop was a must.

Another highlight from the trip was the Josten’s adviser appreciation dinner Saturday evening. This event was held at the Crab Pot right on the water. We took in a ferris wheel ride prior and were then served wine and more
seafood than we could consume. It was a night of trading stories and strategies with other yearbook advisers. Check out the ferris wheel views! The beautiful sunset helped me forget about the cool temperatures.

I returned home with a handful of goals to accomplish before next year’s conference. These include spending more time on our newspaper’s website, submitting student work for contests, and completing my own JEA journalism certification with the hope of someday presenting at the national level. Just typing those make me need another cup of coffee…

NHSJC Seattle

NHSJC = National High School Journalism Conference

Sunshine greeted me when I arrived in Seattle yesterday afternoon. I even had time to explore downtown a little before the convention officially kicked off at 7 p.m.

The time change of two hours behind made this tough. Thankfully there is a Starbucks everywhere you look, so a venti Americano helped me through the adviser meeting, keynote, and adviser reception.

The time changed worked in my advantage this morning as I took in Pike Place Market while most people were still sleeping. Gorgeous flowers, fresh fish, and an endless supply of coffee keep this city running.

My sessions today included a lot of adviser collaboration. We talked about grading, meeting standards, and being able to retire without an ulcer. An adviser luncheon introduced me to adviser from all over the United States.

What I’ve learned so far- We’re doing a lot of things correctly in my school’s JLAB.

The Magnolia Story

I don’t buy very many books because I have a hard time justifying the cost when the library is full of books I haven’t read. The library didn’t have The Magnolia Story, and I’m glad I splurged.

If you’re not familiar with Chip and Joanna, they star in HGTV’s show Fixer Upper. The show follows these two as they help someone else find a home and remodel it to be their dream house. Their renovations are incredible! They are located in Waco, Texas with their four young children.

Even if home remodeling isn’t your thing, this book has an element for every reader. It is mostly told from Joanna’s perspective, but some chapters are all Chip. These two share their love story among all the challenges it took running a business and flipping homes. The financial struggles these two overcame is almost as inspiring as the advice Joanna offers to couples and mothers. The irony of this TV couple is that they have never owned a TV in their home. They were given marriage advice to live the first six months of marriage without one, and they’ve never turned back. The stories of Joanna talking about raising their children and watching Chip be a dad had me laughing out loud. Joanna even inspired me to clean out one of my kitchen cabinets and devote it to whatever Elijah wants to throw in there, even if that means him crawling in and out of it.

The other element I love about this book is their faith and trust in God. Through the struggles and among the blessings and fame, these two praise God.

The show highlights how much energy these two provide to one another while working side-by-side. The book is honest and inspires even more passion for life from the reader.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into their story, here is a blog post from 2012 on Design Mom that features Joanna and their beautiful home.

My college housemate lives in Waco, Texas, and a visit is overdue. I’m adding a trip to the Silos and Magnolia Market to my travel plans if we can ever coordinate our schedules.

Baby Lewis

Saturday offered an opportunity to meet up with my friend Kathleen and meet her son Lewis. Happy parents = happy babies. Lewis is one smiley babe! We were friends immediately!

Thanks for letting us visit, Kat! Elliot, thanks for letting Elijah play with your train set.

A summer playdate for these three boys is a must, because I miss their mom too much!