Happy Birthday! 🎉🎈

I wanted to wish two of my dearest friends a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Maddy’s birthday is actually today and Cait’s was last Friday 6/26. Love these girls more than ever and I am so very grateful to have them in my life!

Cait and I were freshman college roommates at UCSB and have been best friends since then. Maddy and Cait met through the crew tream at UCSB and that how I then met Maddy. Once we graduated college the three of us got an apartment in downtown Santa Barbara and lived together for two years. We have shared so many laughs, memories, and good times! They were bridesmaids at my wedding in 2010. Cait and I were then bridesmaids at Maddy’s wedding in 2013. I’m so glad we have been able to keep in touch and visit each other even though we have lived all over the country. THANK YOU both for your friendship, support and love over the years! Here’s to many more years of friendship and celebrations! Love and miss you both! ❀ ❀ ❀ HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Maddy just moved to Providence, RI and I really hope to make a trip out there to visit her! I have always wanted to visit Boston and now she is pretty close. This weekend I get to see Cait in Santa Barbara and I can’t wait!

Hope you all had a great weekend! We had a BBQ at our place Saturday night and sadly I took no pictures! It was a blast having our friends over and doing some grillin’! Next time I’ll be sure to take some pictures.

Looking forward to a short week at work and then getting out of town for the long 4th of July weekend! Can’t wait to get to SB and visit with our friends. Have a great week everyone and Happy (early) 4th of July!

Happy Father’s Day! 

I may be a day late, but I wanted to wish my wonderful Dad an amazing Father’s Day! I love him so much and can’t thank him enough for all that he has done for me and our family over the years! My Dad is truly awesome and I’m so lucky to call him my DAD! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!! ❀ ❀ ❀ I love making these collages with a bunch of different and fun pictures! My Dad really liked getting a copy of this too!

Saturday afternoon I drove up to spend the night at my parents. We relaxed in the backyard, had champagne (don’t need an excuse to drink some bubbly), watched all the crazy schnauzers play together, had appetizers and then had a delicious dinner that included some amazing artichokes! My Dad really enjoys cooking so I love having dinner with them. For the artichokes, my Dad steamed them with lemon, olive oil, a little garlic and onions. OMG they turned out just perfect and so yummy!

I really enjoyed spending some time with both my Mom and Dad. Not living just 10 minuets away from them any more I sometimes feel a little left out of the family loop! It was fun to just kick back and relax with them. I’m so thankful to have such wonderful, loving and supportive parents! ❀ ❀ ❀

On Sunday morning, for Father’s Day we had brunch as a family at the house. It was nice to have a little more laid back morning then trying to get in to a busy brunch place. After brunch my Dad opened a few presents and then we had the worlds best/delicious carrot cake from Susie Cakes! My Dad loves carrot cake and really loves Susie Cakes so it was perfect for his celebration! I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my parents and running  few errands with them. I think my Dad had a great day and I loved spending time with them both. Happy Father’s Day again Dad. I love you! 

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and celebrating all the great Dads out there! Have a great week!

P.S. I’m already looking forward to the weekend! Haha

Exhale: A Mini Mindfulness Retreat & Reunion 6.7.15

On Sunday 6.15.15 I had the pleasure of attending another one of Cassie’s fabulous retreats, Exhale: A Mini Mindfulness Retreat & Reunion. This retreat took place at the beautiful Mercy Center in Burlingame. Exhale was my second retreat at the Mercy Center and I just love being there. It is simply the perfect place for practicing mindfulness and meditation. Not only is the Mercy Center beautiful and peaceful, you also feel a real sense of spirituality while being there.

During the mini retreat we started with a light lunch made by Cassie. She is such a wonderful cook and her food is always so vibrant in color, tasty and made with so much love! One thing that Cassie always practices at each retreat is the idea of activity and rest, activity and rest. So when we get into our practice that’s exactly what we do. We start with an “activity” and then do something to “rest”. We started the retreat with the body scan. To be honest, the body scan is not one of my most favorite meditation practices haha. For some reason, I just can’t really get into it and sometimes I just have a hard time focusing. However, I’m going to keep trying! If anyone wants to sample a body scan, try it here.

After the body scan we did some mindful stretching and then got the opportunity to watch The Connection. The Connection: Mind your Body is a documentary about understanding the link between your mind, boy and health. The film features scientists, researchers, writers and doctors, as well as remarkable true stories of people adding mind body medicine to their healing toolkit to recover from a variety of issues. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn was featured in the film; he is known for developing the 8 week Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). Cassie is trained in MBSR Certification with the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the UMASS Medical Center. The film also featured Dr. David Spiegel who has done a lot of work at Stanford University. Small world…his daughter Julia and I went to middle and high school together! Pretty cool to see her Dad feature in this documentary!

It was amazing to view such a powerful documentary. Time and time again it not only shows, but really proves that there is a strong connection between the mind, body and health. Meditation and other relaxation techniques play a vital role in stress reduction and in leading a more health and balance life. I strongly recommend everyone to view The Connection if possible. It might be the best thing that happens to you!

After viewing the movie we headed to another “activity” which was a walking meditation on the outdoor labyrinth. This is probably one of my favorite things to do at the Mercy Center. On the way to the labyrinth you walk through/pass by so many beautiful trees, flowers and little seating areas. There are also a variety of statues or figurines throughout the gardens. Below is one of my favorites. I’m really drawn towards anything Japanese related. This pagoda and Japanese maple along the path to the labyrinth just embodies peace and clarity to me.

Here is the beautiful outdoor labyrinth at the Mercy Center. Fr. Thomas Hand, SJ (founder of the East-West Meditation program at Mercy Center), built the Mercy labyrinth in 1997 as a place for walking meditation. I learned that all the work was done by hand by a small group of volunteers under Fr. Hand’s direction. It is stunning and so peaceful to me. I love that all around the labyrinth are fragrant roses and other lovely trees and bushes. One of the things I love most about doing the walking meditation on the labyrinth with a group is that throughout our journey on the path there are times we are all close together and then at other times we are separate and alone on the path. There is a sense that we are “doing this together” while also having a solo journey. Another thing I enjoy is that once the group makes it to the center, we all pause for a few minutes and just take in what a wonderful experience we all just shared. Then, people slowly start the path back out. It’s truly wonderful what happens on the labyrinth and I find it hard to completely articulate the experience…

I suggest anyone interested in walking a labyrinth to do so! The one at the Mercy Center is always open to the public! 

I feel so grateful to have had another opportunity to re-connect with former MBSR classmates and connect with new people! Meditation and mindfulness has become a huge part of my life and I have to thank Cassie for that introduction! I have experienced first hand the profound benefits mediation and continue to work hard to keep up my practice! It’s always a pleasure and joy to spend an afternoon with Cassie. I really value her insight and find her to be such an inspiration! If you’re reading this Cassie, THANK YOU again for such a wonderful and very relaxing afternoon! I am always amazed at how these retreats come at exactly the right time and when I need it the most!

Mom’s Decade Retirement Party đŸŽ‰đŸŽ‰

CONGRATULATIONS to my wonderful Mom who is retiring after teaching for about 35 years!!!!

Way to go MOM!! We are so proud of you and the career you have had!

On Saturday we had my Mom’s “decade” retirement party! It was an absolute BLAST! Decades was a unit that my mom was a part of creating at Hillview and was something that all students looked forward to in 8th grade. Each 8th grade teacher was a different decade. My mom, who loves everything 1940’s had the 40’s as her decade. For the unit students had to write a research paper on a certain topic, person, or event in their decade. At back to school night each 8th grade classroom was transformed into their decade and the students would put on mini skits for their parents, family, friends and fellow classmates. Decades has been a huge part of my families life! With my Mom being a teacher, we were always at Hillview. When decades came around my entire family spent the weekend transforming her classroom into a WWII bunker. My Mom’s room was completely covered in black butcher paper and my Dad would create a tent in the middle of the room. On back to school night people would sit under the tent an watch the 8th grade skits. I have so many fond memories hanging out in my Mom’s classroom, getting everything ready for decades, putting up lots and lots of black butcher paper, ordering/eating pizza and hanging out with her cool students. Decades was one of the things I really looked forward to the most when I was an 8th grader. Although this event no longer happens at Hillview today, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my Mom than with a big “decades” retirement party! Here’s to the guest of honor! Let’s PARTY!!

Everyone probably knows that I love getting dressed up so putting together a costume for my Mom’s party was a piece of cake. My Mom really loves the 40’s so at first I thought of honoring her by dressing up from that decade, but I had to honor my own 8th grade decade, the 1920’s (my sister had the 1920’s too). Here are a few great pictures with my best friend Ashley who I met at Hillview in the 7th grade. We have been best friends ever since and are going on 18+ years of friendship! For 8th grade Ashley actually had my Mom as her core teacher so of course she had to be at the party!

One of the best things about my Mom’s retirement party was seeing so many old teachers, friends and family. My Mom’s first principal Mr. Johnson was there along with the man who actually hired her in the first place! It was also truly wonderful to hear such lovely things about my Mom. I already think very highly of her, but it was remarkable to hear how many people she has touched and how inspiring she is to other teachers! My sister and I both spoke and I think the common theme was that she has been such an inspiration to everyone! Both my sister and I look up to her and I know want to be like her! We also feel so honored and lucky to have been a part of the Hillivew community. We grew up at Hillview and all of those teachers are really a part of our extended family! Here are some great candid pictures of people toasting my Mom and the fabulous teaching career she has had!

To end the afternoon we had the pleasure of viewing the 8th grade teachers dance!!! This was hilarious! During decades each 8th grade class learned a dance from their decade and performed it for their classmates. One thing that the students never knew was that the teachers had their own decade dance to perform…from the 80’s! It was always a big surprise and huge hit to see the teachers performing their own dance after all the other students went. Some of these pictures are just too much! A real fun way to close out the party! At the end they covered my Mom in silly string! I just love her expression!

After all the dancing and toasts it was my Mom’s turn to speak. She gave a really great speech that was so thoughtful and just the perfect to say thank you to everyone she has worked with over the years. She is such a wonderful woman and someone that I really admire! Here are a few more pictures with her fellow colleagues and people I have known my entire life!

Everyone in my family sure knows how to dress up! Love these pictures! It was also really fun to have my three uncles, aunt, cousin and her family at the party! So thankful and glad they were able to make it to the celebration!

And that my friends…is a wrap! My Mom has finished her last year of teaching for FOREVER and we celebrated her in style! This picture of my Mom is just perfect! I think retirement is going to look good on her!

My Mom’s party was so much fun! I know everyone at Hillview and all of her students are really going to miss her! She is truly an amazing mother, teacher and real inspiration. She has impacted so many lives and is loved by everyone! I really enjoyed hearing so many great things about my Mom. What a way to celebrate such a fantastic career and an even more fantastic lady! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who put this party together! It was so special and I know my mom just loved it! Congrats again Mom! You SO deserve this and so much more! Thank you for being an inspiration to our whole family. We LOVE you so much and can’t wait to see what this next chapter for you holds!