DMB & Texas Road Trip Re-Cap

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Ok, so this post is waaaaaay loooooong overdue! Please excuse my lateness in posting about our Texas trip from MAY. Things have been a little busy over here with work and getting ready for the arrival of baby girl.

Back in May we took a totally crazy road trip to follow DMB at the start of their summer tour and see some sights across Texas. We were originally supposed to go to my besties wedding in Jamaica in March, but once we found out we were pregnant we had to cancel our trip, thank you Zika. Part of our flights were with JetBlue and all we could get was a credit. With baby girl due at the end of August, our chances of seeing DMB in CA at the end of their summer tour wasn’t looking all that likely. Tof had the great idea of trying to see DMB somewhere outside of CA so we could also use some of our JetBlue credits since you only have 1 year to use the. What a wonderful idea! We ended up deciding to see them in Texas since there were multiple shows we could attend and the dates/timing with everything just seemed to work out better. I’ve been seeing DMB in CA since probably 2002 and always see them at the very end of their summer tour. We were beyond excited to attend the very first TWO shows of the summer tour! Waaaahoooo!

Our travels took us from Austin — Houston — The Woodlands — Dallas — Waco — back to Austin. Woah! It was a lot of driving, but I seriously had the best time with my best friend/hubby!   

Texas Day 1 [5.17.18]  — Austin

We flew from Long Beach, CA into Austin, TX. The only trouble with using our credits from JetBlue was that we only had one choice of airports to fly in and out of. Thus we also had to rent a car to get around Texas.

Can you say this handsome guy is ready for a VACATION?!?!? I think so! How’d I get so lucky?!35065632_10106510893998067_6135609005675905024_n

Once we arrived in Austin we were greeted by some heat, picked up our rental car twice (first one reeked of cigarette smoke) and headed to our hotel. After a quick change of clothes (shorts were necessary!) we headed into downtown Austin. First up was Congress Bridge to hopefully watch the bats fly out!

The view and sunset from Congress Bridge was so beautiful. There were a lot of other people who had the same idea as we did haha call us tourists I guess. It was fun to see the park across the way fill up with spectators and more people crowd onto the bridge.

Apparently there are 1.5 million (and growing) colony of Mexico free-tailed bats that live under the South Congress Bridge. Millions of tourist (like us) from across the globe gather to see the beloved Austin bats take flight every night from late March until late September. Sadly, they didn’t really “take flight” from out under the bridge. I was hoping it would look like this 11126441_10153854142033902_8314003723955811472_o-1e56b407, but all we really got was the sound of them scurrying around and a few glimpse of them darting out in the dark haha. Not quite what I/we had imagined, but we still had a blast!

 

After dinner we drove around downtown a bit and then ended up driving through the University of Texas and found the football stadium.

OF COURSE we got out of the car and took some pictures FIGHTING ON!!! Heck yay!!! FIGHT ON! 80c0467b7756abd66b1b6b4179dfb573--usc-trojans-tailgating

We kept driving through campus just to check things out. Commencement was that weekend so there were a bunch of people setting up chairs for the next days ceremonies. I can’t imagine having to sit through a graduation ceremony in the Texas heat!

Next up on our night adventures of Austin was hunting down and finding theCHIVE location. They are based in Austin and Tof loves everything CHIVE. So glad we wore our Bill Murray shirts because we got a lot of attention haha. That’s actually the case everywhere we go, but it was fun to get so many comments while in Austin.

After lots of driving around we FINALLY found theCHIVE office! It was pretty tricky to find it, but I’m so glad we were sneaky and able to find it! So wish we could have taken an actual tour, Tof would have LOVED that! You can take a virtual tour of the office. Looks like such a fun place to work! Clearly I am in the wrong field haha.

Texas Day 2 [5.18.18]  — Morning tour of the capitol

We spent the next morning taking a tour of the state capitol and doing a little exploring before getting on the road to our next destination, The Woodlands! I always love going on tours of capitol buildings when I’m in a new state or finding other free and fun things to do. We learned a lot on this tour and thoroughly enjoyed the AC and a break from the heat!

Before checking into our hotel we made a quick stop at POPBAR for a refreshing afternoon treat! Basically, you select a frozen gelato and sorbetto base (they have so many flavors) and then you can add a variety of toppings. I ended up with chocolate dipped strawberry and Tof got a very minty chocolate something! So delicious and refreshing. We walked around a little (scoping out a place for dinner) before checking into our hotel to relax and get ready for DMB.

For dinner we ended up at this crazy crowded pub. The food really wasn’t all that great (I hated my dinner), but the drinks for Tof were good haha. On the way to the restaurant and back to the concert venue, we walked along this really pretty path called The Waterway District. So many cute condos were located along this walkway along with plenty of green space to picnic or hang out. Next up…DAVE MATTHEWS BAND!dmb

The whole point for our crazy Texas road-trip was to see DMB! We were beyond excited (as I am sure you can tell from the above pictures) to be seeing DMB and for the 1st show of the 2018 summer tour at The Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion! WHAT A NIGHT! We had an absolute BLAST. It was a little weird to not have Boyd Tinsley with the band, but the guys still rocked it! It was pretty warm that night, but the Texas heat didn’t bother us! We ended up with great seats courtesy of The Warehouse and met lots of fun DMB fans! People were shocked that we weren’t Texans and that we came all the way from CA for the show. Really?!?!?! Ha ha ha. I guess we know how to fit in.

Texas Day 3 [5.19.18]  — On the road again…to Dallas

Slept in (isn’t that one of the greatest things about vacation?!) after an AMAZING DMB show. Had a late breakfast at Another Broken Egg and OMG was it delicious!!! I had the Pancake Trio for breakfast and selected a regular pancake, mixed berry and a lemon blueberry goat cheese. Soooooooo GOOD. Tof always knows where to go for breakfast or any meal. After breakfast, it was on the road to Dallas!

We were both surprised by how open the roads were and how much greenery Texas had. Most of the time we couldn’t really see past all the trees that lined the side of the road! Totally wasn’t expecting that.

Along the way we stopped for gas at Woody’s Smokehouse. This place was LEGIT and we had no idea this was the place to stop for BBQ! Too bad we had a late/big breakfast…neither one of us was hungry, but the BBQ looked so good. We picked up a few items for the road and some souvenirs for our families.

We arrived in Dallas mid-afternoon and checked into our hotel. We stayed at The Westin Downtown Dallas. Check out the view of downtown Dallas from our room below.

Felt kinda weird to be in a “big” city after driving through so much open green fields. After resting a bit and freshening up, we did a little exploring, grabbed some “Royal Wedding” cupcakes at Sprinkles in honor of the royal wedding and had dinner at Hopdaddy Burger Bar before heading to another night of DMB.

DMB Night #2 and 2nd show of the 2018 summer tour was at Dos Equis Pavilion. Another kick ass night! The black and white photo of Dave I found on Instagram, P.C. Rene Huemer. Such a great photo I just had to snag it!

We definitely liked The Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion venue better, but still had a great time! Again we had great seats courtesy of The Warehouse and survived another sticky night in the Texas heat. So very glad to have seats instead of having to sit on the crowded lawn. We met a couple and their two kids the night before and ended up sitting like 4 rows behind them for night #2. After the show we chatted with them a bit more. LOVE that DMB fans are so friendly, easy to talk too and overall just awesome!

Texas Day 4 [5.20.18] — Breakfast before driving to Waco!

Woke up to a RAIN storm in Dallas. We knew we might get some rain on our trip so we did pack jackets and shoes just in case. Good thing, because we needed them both! We started our day (after sleeping in again) with the most delicious breakfast at Commissary before getting back on the road. My hubby seriously knows how to pick the best places to eat! He had the Croque Madame – ham, gruyere, brioche, mornay, fried egg and I had the Butcher’s Breakfast – two meats, eggs, and potatoes. We also started with a croissant and a some sort of strawberry/passion fruit tart. YUM.35049217_10106511040903667_4950943230280597504_n

Next stop…WACO and the Dr. Pepper Museum. We had NO IDEA that Dr. Pepper started in Waco, TX of all places. Clearly we’re bad Dr. Pepper drinkers/supporters hehe. When I found out there was a museum it was a must on our list of things to do. This is also the day that my baby bump seemed to make more of an appearance. Or maybe that’s just the maternity shorts and tank?!

After touring the first part of the museum, we headed across the way to look at more Dr. Pepper memorabilia and get some treats! Did you know you can make all kinds of desserts with a variety of sodas? We got to attend a demo lab and even tasted one of the cupcakes they made! So good! Check these out.

Next up was some tasty treats from Frosty’s Soda Shop! I had a Dr. Pepper float (amazing, who needs root beer?!?) and Tof had a Dr. Pepper sundae that had a special Dr. Pepper sundae sauce. YUM!

We had a blast at the Dr. Pepper Museum! So glad we had time to do this.

Next up, we checked out the SILOS! Well, they were actually closed since it was a Sunday), but we were still able to walk around the outside of the property and take pictures. This ended up being a great idea because nobody was around! On Monday it ended up being somewhat crowded, so I’m really glad we got to take some pictures without a bunch of people waiting around or all the crowds. Also, very glad Tof was down to take so many pictures…who are we kidding he loves Chip/Fixer Upper and was totally into visiting the Silos!

The day we were there Chip and Jo were totally at the Silos too! We saw some kids playing on the lawn and then we found BOTH Chip and Jo’s cars on the side of the property!! We were sooo excited and of course hoped that maybe they would step out and we could meet them. Sadly, that didn’t happen 😦 but we did “find” them at the Visitor Center haha.

After the Silos, we explored Baylor (second college tour we did on the trip), Harp Design Co., the original location of Magnolia “The Little Shop on Bosque” and more around downtown Waco.

On Fixer Upper you always see shots of the ALICO building and we finally got to see it in person. Apparently the building is currently owned and operated by the American-Amicable Life Insurance Company of Texas.

That evening we headed to the Waco Suspension Bridge to catch the sunset. It was so pretty! Fun fact: the bridge was built with cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. You can read more about the history of the bridge here.

After dinner we headed back to the Silos to see if maybe we could still meet Chip & Jo and to see all the lights at night. Sadly, Chip & Jo were gone, but man did everything look great with all the lights! For a little dessert we went to Heritage CREAMERY…yum! Heritage is practically on Baylor’s campus so we took a little drive through campus again before heading back to our hotel.

Texas Day 5 [5.21.18] — All things MAGNOLIA! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Our last and final day in Texas started BRIGHT and EARLY…at 6:30am to be exact for breakfast at Magnolia Table! We had heard and read online that this place gets suuuuuper busy and it’s best to get their first thing. We also wanted to make sure we had enough time at the Silos before heading to Austin for our flight back to CA. 

Magnolia Table was charming, fun, hearty and delicious and so very Chip & Jo! We got lucky and walked right into the restaurant and got a table! I guess it pays to get their early. For breakfast I had the Skillet Porridge Oatmeal and Tof had Chip’s Ham Sandwich. Both of our meals were so tasty. We also had to try some of Jo’s Buttermilk Biscuits with Strawberry Butter…drool. Wow those biscuits were beyond yummy! You can check out the full menu here. If you’re planning a trip I recommend going early! We originally had thought about going for lunch, but heard from our waitress that the lunch wait can be 2-3 hours! If you want to read or know more about the history of Magnolia Table check that out here.

We had a great breakfast and really enjoyed ourselves at Magnolia Table. Love this quote that’s in the restaurant and all that Chip & Jo are doing!

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“There’s always a seat at Magnolia Table”

 

 

After breakfast and taking a look in the gift shop we headed over to the Silos Baking Co.! Again we heard that the Silos Baking Co. can get really busy/crowded. We noticed the day before they have stanchions set up kind of like at Disneyland to control the lines. To our surprise (again) there was NO line and we could walk right in! Although we were totally stuffed from breakfast we still ordered some sweet treats for later.

The shop is so totally cute! We ordered the Siolbration Cupcake (vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles) and a Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie. Both were perfect airport treats!

Since there was no line at the bakery, we had some time to spare before the MAGNOLIA store officially opened. We walked all around the Silos and explored every inch of it! We loved taking a bunch of pictures, walking through the gardens and finally just being there!

Checking out the garden area. So wonderful! We need some raiser planter boxes like this.

The Market (Magnolia store) officially opened at 9am. We were ready and excited to get in the store and do some shopping!

INSIDE the STORE!!! OMG, OMG, OMG!

Clearly someone is excited and can’t believe we FINALLY made it haha.

Inside the store was BUSY! So. Many.People. We initially were only going to buy a few things…but we might have gotten a little carried away. “When in Rome” the say…

After we left the store we signed the guest book and decided to hang out on the lawn area before getting back in the car and heading to the airport. We ended up with a lot of extra time because we were planning for everything to take a lot longer than it did. We took full advantage of these comfy bean bag chairs and just relaxed on the lawn (in some shade) and talked about our trip. There are also a ton of food trucks, so you can totally make a whole day out of visiting the Silos and even eat all your meals at there.

The Silos and all Magnolia stuff was really, really fun! I’m glad we made time for Waco on our trip. It felt like we really did a lot and took advantage of as much as we could. Next up…back to Austin and then the airport. Since we were ahead of schedule we had some time for a little more sightseeing…

Any Friday Night Lights fans out there?!?!? Well, although the TV series was set in the fictional small town of Dillon, Texas, it was filmed in and around Austin. Since we had some time before we had to head to the airport we found this map of Friday Night Lights locations and had to make a few stops. First up was Coach Taylor’s house.

Outside Coach Talyor’s house!! Looks a little different, but that’s so the Taylors house!! Clearly I was very excited to be at Coach Taylors.

Next up was Tim Riggins house! Looks very different than the show and has totally been updated. We LOVED that these people just went with it. They had a Dillon Panthers football sign in the window for Tim Riggins #33 in their front window just like they have on all the lawns for the football players on the show!

Where are you Tim?!?!

I wanted to find Matt Saracen’s house, but it kept showing up as Tim’s house. After a few attempts we decided to head to the airport. A lot of other places on the interactive map were too far spread out across Austin or were places we just didn’t need to see.

Here’s one last snap shot of the map for our crazy road trip! Yes it was a lot of driving and mileage, but it got broken up so nicely. We would have loved to see more in some of the cities we stopped in, but DMB was our main reason for being in Texas! For me the only other place I still need to visit is San Antonio..maybe next time. Really had an amazing time with my hubby and best friend! So glad we booked this crazy trip!

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GOODBYE TEXAS and GOODBYE to our car that took us all over the state!

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Clear Eyes
Full Hearts
Can’t Lose!

#texasforever

Xo

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Off to the LONE STAR STATE

That’s right folks we are headed to TEXAS!

 

The hubby and I are off on a crazy Texas road trip to see my favorite band of all time, Dave Matthews Band. We’ve never seen the start of their summer tour before (usually we see the CA shows at the very end of the tour) and are beyond excited to attend the very first TWO shows of the summer tour! Waaaahoooo!

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I’ve been a huge DMB fan and going to their concerts since I was in high school…probably circa 2001 or 2002. Looking back on all those years and concerts I don’t think I have missed a summer tour yet! There may have been a few summers when they didn’t tour, but outside of that I have made it every summer. We’ve mostly seen shows all over CA but are excited to add Texas to our list of out of state concerts (saw them in Vegas at the MGM Grand before).

I feel sort of  like a DMB groupie by following them through Texas for two shows 😉 🙂 but I am pretty ecstatic for this trip! Our great adventure is going to take us from Austin — Houston — The Woodlands — Dallas — Waco — Austin. Below is our route hahahaha. We’re crazy I know, but when in Texas you gotta do it big!

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Hopefully we can squeeze in some FUN in all these cities we will be stopping in before the concerts too. I need to remind myself we are going to Texas to see DMB and for vacation, not to see every darn thing possible! Ha ha. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I CANNOT WAIT to go to WACO and visit the Magnolia Silos! Chris and I love show Fixer Upper and really hope to casually bump into Chip and Jo and become their new besties!

I have a lot of ideas of what we can do on this trip and I can’t wait to share it all when we get back! See you next week!

 

Xo

I’m Back! Conference Update

Happy Monday Everyone!

I returned from my conference last Tuesday (election night), stayed up way too late watching disappointing results, worked two days and then had a 3-day weekend (thank goodness)! Now I’m back in the routine of work …nothing like being back to reality haha.

Last year I attended the Annual NODA conference in Denver, CO and had an absolute blast! This year that conference was in Indianapolis, Indiana and was just as much fun! I flew out on Friday 11/4 so most of that first day was just traveling. On Saturday 11/5 my colleague from SJSU, Rigo went exploring in downtown Indy.

We started our downtown tour at Monument Circle which is considered the “true heart of Downtown Indianapolis” and is “truly a must-see for anyone visiting the Circle City!” Well lucky us! While walking around Monument Circle we decided to tour the Soldiers and Sailors Monument as well. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument was designed by Bruno Schmitz and was dedicated in 1902 to Indiana’s heroes who died in wars before World War I. Erected as a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of the War for the Union (1861-65), it also commemorates the War with Mexico (1846-48), Indian and British Wars (1811-12), War of the Revolution and the capture of Vincennes from the British on February 25, 1779. Visitors can hike up to the observation level, located 330 steps up (yikes) or take the elevator (which I ended up doing) to step 290. Too many steps for me! Once at the observation deck you can see stunning views of downtown and even the capitol building in the distance. Great way to start out tourist day in Indy!

After, we headed towards the Capitol building and even got to join a tour group! Our first day was clearly all about Indiana HISTORY haha. While on the tour we discussed/visited all three branches of of the government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial; got to see Mike Pence’s office; take a seat in someones actual seat in the House of Representatives; and tour the Supreme Court Room. We learned so much about Indiana, it’s state capitol, the Indiana flag, etc., etc., etc. It really was a history day haha.

After our capitol tour and lunch we headed back to the hotel to hang out and change before the offical opening of the conference. I stayed at the JW Marriott and that’s also where the conference took place. The hotel was super snazzy and a perfect great place for a conference. To kick things off before the start of the conference we had regional meet ups and then a sit down dinner. Yum! So nice to be able to sit down and actual hear the speakers. Great way to start NODAC 2016!

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The person in charge of social media for the conference created NODA snapchat filters so of course I had to try them out. Haha too funny! I don’t know how to do anything with snapchat except the filers.

After the first featured speaker on Day #1, I headed to the first education session where I was going to be PRESENTER!! This is the SECOND time I’ve presented at a national conference! Waahoooo. Checking off those professional bucket list items!

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Our group presented about our OPI/NODA experience from last year and what to do with all that we learned. Attending a conference like NODA can be really overwhelming, so we thought our session would be helpful to new attendees and OPI grads. We had a pretty good turn out and even had a few OPI faculty members attend! Yay!

Presenting at a national conference has been something I have always wanted to do and I feel so excited and proud of myself for accomplishing this two years in a row! I hope to continue to attend NODA and to keep presenting! THANK YOU again to my co-presenters Natalie, Megan, Allison, Genna and Paige! You ladies were fabulous to work. Who knows, maybe we will be presenting again next year… 15056259_10105046099023937_4976138298608371360_n.jpg

During NODA I love being able to meet so many new people but also reconnecting with friends/colleagues! Here I am with my friend Heather who works that UC Riverside. We first met at UCSB and were on O-Staff together! It was great seeing/catching up with her again. Go Gauchos!

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During the conference I always look forward to the featured speakers. Somehow NODA always gets truly phenomenal featured speakers. This year was no exception! We had unbelievable folks talking to us about topics that are so prominent and true on all of our campuses. One of my absolutle favorite speakers was Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn. He was beyond AMAZING. He is probably one of the best speakers I have ever seen, incredibly inspiring and motivating. Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn is a professor of Higher Education at The Ohio State University and also serves as the Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE). He gave a talk on what is belonging research shows and why NODA should care. At times, the audience was crying, sitting on the edge of their seat, tweeting in responses and standing up and singing! I have never felt so moved or empowered. THANK YOU Dr. Strayhorn for your incredible talk!

#thisiswhataprofessionallookslike

#dogoodwork

#mamabelievesinyou

#ibelieveinyou

#youareaneagle

#openthewindowandletthelightshinein

WOW is all I can say! This guy is AMAZING!

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After Dr. Strayhorn’s talk we all went to the Eiteljorg Museum for a networking event called NODA Connect. The Eiteljorg Museum was a stunning place for a networking event. The entire museum was also open so we got to explore all the exhibits. Clearly Rigo and I had a blast hahaha. We even got to see a GEORGIA O’KEEFFE!!!

Another highlight for me during the conference was the Author’s Luncheon. Last year I had no idea what this was and didn’t participate. So glad I went this year because it was really fun and I got a bunch of FREE books! Who doesn’t love free books?! There were 5 different authors that shared a little about their works and then signed our books after. We heard from the following:

Margot Lee Shetterly – Hidden Figures

Ken Ilgunas – Trespassing Across America

Jennie Capo Crucet – Make your Home Among Strangers

Patrick Phillips – Blood at the Root, A Racial Cleansing in America

Michael Puett -The Path

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I seriously can’t wait to start reading each of these books. Their stories all sound so interesting and it was grerat to meet the authors! In the future I plan to always attend the author’s luncheon. Can’t wait for next year!

The last featured speaker we had was Courtney O’Connell who talked about becoming innovative educators. She too was really inspiring and touched on so many important issues. I learned so much on how to become an innovative educator and even got a list of more books to read! #booknerd #ilovetoread book

When seeing these kinds of people speak, I get so inspired and often feel like I want to be just like them! I truly want to be someone in my field, not just another person working in an office. Sometimes I dream/wonder if some day I will be the person on a big stage speaking to an audience at a conference…do I have the power to motivate and inspire people? I sure hope so! That would be pretty cool…to sorta come full circle. #futuregoals

I love going to these types of conferences and getting inspired! Often I get back and truly feel like I can do anything! I know I can, but I just need to do it one step at a time…

For my last night in Indy, I spent it hanging out with my friend Heather and her co-worker Lizze. We explored more of Indy, had dinner at this great place called The Eagle, walked around Massachusetts Ave., did a little shopping and took a few more pictures of the capitol all lit up at night. Such a great way to spend our last night!

As the conference comes to a close I always get a little sad..I had such an amazing time and didn’t want to go leave. Over the last few days I loved being able to soak up so much knowledge, meet and talk with so many people and truly feel recharged. Although it’s sad to see NODAC 2016 come to a close, I’m already looking forward to next year! For 2017 the conference will take place in LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY! I’ve never been to Louisville, but it looks awesome!

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During the conference I learned so much and realized this really is what I want to do with my career/life! It felt good to get reconnected to my profession if that makes sense. I also feel so thankful for the opportunity to have gone to another conference and to have presented for the second time in a row! Can’t wait unitl next year!

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Xo

Indianapolis Bound ✈️

Happy Thursday everyone! Tomorrow I fly to Indianapolis, Indiana for the NODA conference. Waaaahooo!!!

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I’m really excited to be attending NODA again. Last year was a blast and I learned so much. Really looking forward to reconnecting with some of my OPI peeps and other colleagues. During the conference last year I fulfilled one of my professional “bucket list” items; presenting at a national conference. Guess what?! This year I get to DO IT AGAIN!!! YAY for PRESENTING two years in a row!

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Can’t wait to explore a new city (I’ve never been to Indy!), meet/connect with more higher education/orientation professionals, present AGAIN, see some old friends and learn even more about the field of Orientation Transition and Rentention! #higherednerd #otr

I’m going to be pretty busy during the conference, so don’t expect any blog posts. When I get back next week, you’ll get a full update with lots of pictures.

Have a great rest of your week and weekend! See you next week!

Xo

Happy Friday: Disney Edition 

HAPPY FRIDAY!!

Only two more weekends left until Christmas…I can hardly believe it.

Super excited to get the weekend started because we’re going to…DISNEYLAND!!!!! YAY!!

My mother-in-laws neighbor works for Disney and often gets us free passes, which is totally AWESOME! She is seriously the nicest person and we are so thankful for the passes. They expire on 12/16, hence the quick trip down there.

Chris and I both LOVE anything/everything Disney and are really looking forward to this mini trip. I love seeing Disneyland all decked for the holidays and can’t wait to see what they have done for the 60th Diamond Celebration!

P.S. Sure miss those season passes we had…

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It’s been a busy week, but we are both really looking forward to this quick trip. Can’t wait to see Mickey & Minnie as well as the rest of the gang! We’re coming for ya!

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Hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll be back next week for Disney updates.

XoXo

I’m Back! Conference Update

Greetings everyone!

I returned from my conference late Tuesday night and going back to work has been a little rough…ugh. Work has been so so busy and I’ve had a hard time just getting back into the swing of things. Anyway I’m here and ready to blog!

Three words…I LOVE DENVER!!! That city is just awesome and I’m almost ready to move there! I got off the plane and was greeted to RAIN and 42* temps. So delightful! No joke, it was such a pleasure to get away from the warm temps in San Jose, CA and be in a place that actually feels like fall. It was pretty easy getting out of the airport and catching my shuttle into downtown. Got all checked into the hotel (only three took three rooms-don’t ask) and then I was off to eat and explore a little.

I headed to Denver early for my conference so that I could attend OPI (Orientation Professional Institute). This was 2.5 day workshop designed for professionals new to orientation and transition services with 0-2 years of experience with direct programmatic oversight. We covered topics such as developing mission and goals; assessing campus realities and politics; program design and planning; staffing, training, and supervision; identifying campus resources; and evaluation and assessment. Since grad school I have always wanted to participate in OPI and I am so glad that I did. It was such a rewarding experience and I got to meet so many fabulous individuals! Not to mention working and talking with some top faculty members that led OPI. These folks are so inspiring and people I hope to aspire to be like.

During one of our long lunch breaks, a few OPI folks and I headed over to the capitol to walk around. Located at the capitol is a step that reads “One Mile Above Sea Level.” So totally cool! We had to take a group picture and individual ones with the sign. Denver is regarded as the Mile High City since its height is one mile – 5,280 feet – above ocean level. Can you believe that? Kinda hard to imagine.

I was so excited once my SJSU peeps and Emily got into town! Friday night (10/23) was our first night out exploring downtown Denver. We walked along the 16th Street Mall which is awesome. The mile-long, pedestrian friendly Mall is packed with shopping, restaurants and attractions.The 16th Street Mall is considered the “heart” of the city. Free electric shuttle buses travel up and down the Mall, stopping on every corner. You can hop on and hop off, or just walk it like we did. Either way this downtown area is really superb!

For dinner, we ate at 5280 Burger Bar. OMG so good and delicious! One of my students suggested we eat there and I’m so glad we did. Hit the spot!

Saturday 10/24 was the last day of OPI. Here is the entire OPI class of 2015 as well as my foundation group. Shout out to Jamie’s group!! Seriously some of the most amazing people I have ever met! It was such a pleasure to spend 2.5 days with these folks! I know that we will stay in touch and I can’t wait to see everyone next year at the OPI reunion! Feeling really thankful to have a good group of colleagues that I can reach out too. Keep doing good work!

After OPI was over I met Emily, Nancy and Lauren and we headed to Red Rocks! Emily rented a car and we headed out of the city. Going to Red Rocks was the BEST.DECISION.EVER! Colorado is beautiful, but OMG Red Rocks was something else!!!!! I was like a kid in a candy store!!! Beyond excited to be visiting and secretly hoping DMB would show up haha.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge DMB fan and have always wanted to see them play at Red Rocks. DMB recorded Live at Red Rocks on 8.15.95. It was then released to the public on October 28, 1997. Tim Reynolds was a guest guitarist during this performance (he’s now a full member of the band). Love me some Tim! Live at Red Rocks was the first of many live releases by DMB. Interesting fact…this release has so far been the band’s most successful live release to date!! It’s still on my bucket list to see them play at Red Rocks (the Gorge in WA too) and I know we will make it happen. For a little preview of DMB Live at Red Rocks, check this out!

Red Rocks has an awesome museum that was fun to check out. Of course I was searching for DMB and I found them listed on the wall. I also learned that the Beatles played there in 1964. We had fun walking around the museum and then walking all the way down to the stage. I felt like such a kid being so excited haha! I stood on the stage where so many amazing musicians have played!!!! Ahhhhh!

On our way to the Performing Arts Center for the official conference opening, we walked by the Denver Convention Center and found this big blue bear! This guy is 40 ft. tall and peers into the Convention Center creating a sense of fun and playfulness. The big bear was created by a local artist,  Lawrence Argent and was installed in 2005. Gotta get a picture of the bear!

Saturday night was the opening reception for the annual NODA conference, so we got all dressed up! Looking good ladies! The reception was held downtown at the performing arts center which was really beautiful. There were so many stations of food and fun things to eat. Great way to kick off the start of the conference!

#NODA2015 I’m ready for you!!! Love all the decorations for the conference. The planning committee did a really good job! Everything was so organized and easy to navigate. The conference had 1,000+ attendees, but it was always easy to get around, find your room and attend sessions. I don’t think any of my sessions ever got too full which was really nice. Way to go planning committee!

The first morning of the conference started off with a welcome from Dr. George Kuh. I remember my first semester of grad school in my foundations class we had to do a project on someone who was considered a pillar in the profession…this guy was on the list! I was totally nerding out during his entire talk. Where are my other PASA peeps at?!?!

After Dr. Kuh’s welcome I headed to the first education session which I was actually going to be PRESENTER!! This conference had a few professional bucket list items for me. One was to attend OPI, which I am so glad that I did. Second was to present at a national conference!!! Waaahooooo!

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Emily and I presented on how to effectively serve our out of state students and used SJSU’s first off-site orientation in Hawaii as an example. I was so honored to be representing SJSU, presenting with Emily and feeling so accomplished! Our presentation went really well and we had a great turn out (about 25 people). People also seemed really interested in the work we were doing at SJSU. I hope we can continue to build that off-site orientation and keep going to Hawaii.

Presenting at a national conference is something that I have always wanted to do and I feel so excited and proud of myself for accomplishing this! I hope to continue to attend NODA inthe future and to keep presenting! Nothing can stop me now! Thank you again to my co-presenter Emily, I couldn’t have done it without you!

One thing that I loved about NODA was being able to meet so many new people but also reconnecting with other friends/colleagues! Here I am with my friend Heather who now works that UC Riverside. We first met at UCSB and were on O-Staff together! Small world! It was great seeing/catching up with her. Go Gauchos!

More fun with my SJSU peeps! We loved exploring downtown and just hanging out.

During the conference there were several panel discussions that were really fantastic. The Career Advancement Panel was excellent and featured two OPI faculty members that I got to know earlier (Marcus Langford and Jeanine Ward Roof). I learned so much about career advancement and felt so inspired by these individuals. The big take away was to “do good work” and when you think you have accomplished that then it’s time to move on. So powerful. I also attended the Transition Summit. Wow! This was unbelievable.  This session had key players from across the field of higher education to discuss issues in transition for students on our campuses. The last panel I attended was the Women in Leadership Panel #NODAwomenlead. I loved hearing these women speak about leadership and also their experience as being a women in the field of higher education. It was great that they kept things real and didn’t try to sugar coat anything. Again, I felt so incredibly inspired by these amazing women. I really hope to some day be on a panel like this talking to professionals about my own journey.

For our last night in Denver, Lauren and I ate at 5280 Burger Bar again and then walked all over downtown. We ended up at Union Station which was awesome! The train station has been completely re-done and includes a hotel, bar/restaurant and a few other shops. How cool would it be to stay at a train station?

On our last day in Denver, Lauren and I skipped out of the last education session and headed over to Capitol Hill and Congress Park. We had another gorgeous day so we took advantage of the good weather and explored outside. We both love to take pictures so there was a lot of that. We took a few more pictures on the “one mile above sea level” step and then took a quick tour of the capitol building. After our little outing we headed back to the hotel for the conference brunch/wrap up.


I was sad to see the conference come to an end especially since I had such an amazing time. Participating in OPI was a big highlight, but I still really enjoyed attending the entire conference. Over the 7 days I was there I felt like I learned so much and got reconnected to my profession if that makes sense. I feel so thankful for the opportunity to have checked off a few professional bucket-list items as well! I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Indy and staying connect with my new colleagues.

Hope you all have been doing well! TGIF

XoXo

Denver Bound ✈️

Happy Wednesday everyone!! I’m currently at the airport waiting for my flight to Denver and couldn’t be more excited!

I will be attending the NODA conference and also participating in OPI (Orientation Professional Institute) the 2.5 days prior to the actual conference. I have always wanted to participate in OPI so I am really excited to finally participate! This trip includes a lot of my professional “bucket list” items because I will also be PRESENTING at the conference!! Yay! Since graduate school I have always had on my  professional “bucket list” participating in OPI and presenting at a national conference. I’m beyond excited to be able to do BOTH of those things! I’ve come a long way and have worked really hard to get to this point in my career. So excited to be in Denver for the week, meet/connect with other higher education/orientation professionals, present at a national conference, see some old friends and learn a ton! Looking forward to so much and enjoying some cooler temps…it’s going to be chilly in Denver and I can’t wait!

I’m going to be pretty busy this next week, so don’t expect any blog posts. When I get back next week I’ll be sure to post an update. I’m sure I will have lots to share and of course pictures.

Have a great rest of your week! See you later!

XoXo