Friday, July 25, 2014

Five Things Friday 7.25.14 {+ Entertaining with Blue Diamond}

Hi Friends!

It's been awhile! Let's jump right into some updates, shall we?

1. We're back from Colorado and had so much fun! 
The weather was great, we saw many great sites and ate some really great food! Full recap coming soon...err, well, whenever I can get to it and find some motivation to actually blog a full post.

2. Wedding weekend
I'm headed home after I hit publish on this post for some fun wedding events for my brother and his fiance, Kerstin. It's the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette party weekend. Should be a fun weekend with lots of family and friends!

3. Entertaining with Blue Diamond
Last night I had some friends over to watch our favorite summer TV show, Big Brother. What easier snack to share than some Blue Diamond almonds. After we had dinner, a homemade tomato and pesto pizza and salad full of veggies, we broke out the wine and rosemary black pepper almonds. Actually a pretty great pairing. The next time you have some friends over, break out a can of Blue Diamond almonds for everyone to snack on!

Kristyn, Traci, and Summer

4. Girl time
Tim has been in Colorado almost the last two weeks for his Graduate School of Banking program. We, of course, saw him last weekend while we were there, but Kaydin and I have had the last two weeks together just us. He was gone last summer in CO for a couple weeks, too, and we made along list of fun summer activities to complete. This year we did the same and have had lots of fun! I'm still ready for Tim to come home though!
Our finds after picking wildflowers along country roads.

A trip to the aquatic center.

5. Back to School  Mode
We're turning the corner into back to school time. In the next week or two the summer will wind down and all the school-age kids will be filling their backpack with all of their supplies. It's such a nostalgic time of year, one that always brings back lots of memories. This year Kaydin is starting at a new school district so we're all pretty excited and anxious for mid-August!

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I was compensated with almonds. No monetary  compensation was offered. All opinions are my own.

Linking up with Clare for 5 things Friday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Volunteer your's important {+ 5 ways to give back other than monetarily}

Hi Everyone! It's PSA time.

I'm going to interrupt our regular programming with a little public service announcement today.

Are ya ready? :)

New Directions Shelter

This summer Kaydin and I have been spending our Monday nights at the Hawthorn Hill New Directions Shelter. It's a shelter in Des Moines servicing women and children. We became involved by chance really. 

Last fall, Kaydin and I watched The Pursuit of Happiness and Kaydin was really touched. She was confused and sad that a child would not have a home, a place to sleep at night. Since then I had been making calls and looking into websites in and around Des Moines to try to find a place for us to get more involved and give back. Nothing seemed to be working out, and I couldn't connect and get feedback from people. Sometimes we hit a road block not being able to find the right place or activity that would also allow Kaydin, too.

It all fell into place though one day when I saw a posting on Facebook from someone I went to the same college as. She posted about a charity event being held to benefit Hawthorn Hill. I'd heard of this organization before but didn't know much about it. I immediately clicked over and started learning more and came across a volunteer orientation being held in the near future that encouraged kids to attend, too

We attended that orientation session in April and have been fairly active with the organization ever since. 

On Monday nights Kaydin and I spend an hour or two at the shelter playing with the kids. We have done a variety of activities including coloring, talking in general about health, fruits and vegetables, having taste tests of fruits and vegetables, and playing outside.

Kaydin and I both have a great time every week we are there, but last night was really great! The weather was gorgeous and perfect for playing outside so I knew that's what we would be doing. We stepped outside to head to the play area and the youngest girl slipped her hand in mine to lead me around the house. I knew then it would be a great night. 

The boys were happy to play basketball most of the time and the girls stayed close to the playground and swing set. After some time swinging in the evening breeze, the girls moved on to playing tea party, restaurant and cooking me up lots of pretend foods. I loved seeing their imagination run wild. I see this in Kaydin every day and she was right there helping to set the plot and building on the other girls' ideas.

Later the boys joined in and we played a few games of tag, freeze tag, and hide and seek. The smallest little girl again took my hand and stayed close always wanting me by her side. It stole my heart and made me realize how just the littlest thing can really make a difference. Showing them some full-on attention and joining in on the fun really made their night. They were so shocked and amused when I climbed up fire pole at the playground and slid right on down just like they were (that was only a one-time occurrence though, lol). It took many tries to get everyone rounded up and back in the house once it was finally time for Kaydin and I to head home for the night. If our stomachs weren't starting to grumble I would have happily stayed even longer.

It didn't take much of my time, I got to enjoy a gorgeous summer night outside, spend time with my daughter and at the same time teach her some important values, and most importantly give back and spend some time with great kids that need some more happy in their lives and just play as kids without a care in the world.

I highly encourage everyone to reach out and find a way to be involved in your community with those less fortunate or organizations that are doing good for others. I bet there are many out there that are in need of more volunteers. And there are lots of ways to be involved at a greater, more meaningful way rather than just giving money.

5 Ways to Give Back to Your Community other than Monetarily
  • Take your donations to a homeless shelter. Since becoming involved with Hawthorn Hill, I take my boxes of items that usually ended up at Goodwill to the shelter instead. These items directly benefit people with a real need for clothes, shoes, household items, etc., for free! 
  • Give your time. There are so many tasks that shelters could use help with- cleaning, yard work, organizing. There is always so much to be done.
  • Spend time playing with children in the shelters. Kids need time to play and just be kids. Parents also need some time for a breather, too.
  • Provide a meal. Shelters are always in need of food to provide their residents. It can be as easy as bringing in a bag groceries or providing a full meal to the house.
  • Be informed. Sometimes all it takes is being informed and knowing what's going on the community and who needs help. From there you can move on to more beneficial and meaningful ways to help out. Hawthorn Hill is located just a half block down from the campus where I work. It was 2 1/2 years later before I even knew it was there! 

If you have any interest in getting involved with Hawthorn Hill, let me know and I can connect you with their staff or reach out through their website. Tim is involved heavily with Children and Families of Iowa. They are another great organization in our area that is always looking for volunteers for a variety of different needs.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Things Friday 7.11.14

Well, heeelllllooooo out there!

{Tap, tap, tap} Anyone there??

Ha! It's been awhile. So much to do in summer and so little motivation to blog! We've been doing lots of fun stuff and I'll fill you in on all of that soon!

First though, just a few other odds and ends to fill you in on.

1. The Color Run
The Des Moines Color Run is tomorrow and I'm pretty excited. Some of my friends will be there and also some family is coming into town to participate, too! Last year we had great weather, not too hot and really sunny. I'm hoping the rain stays away and we get lucky again this year, too!

2. The Little Free Library- Waukee
Just want to give one more shout-out about the Little Free Library Kaydin and I helped to get set up in our community. The response has been amazing! I've seen great turnover in books which means we have some steady visitors coming! I also wanted to share the link to our interview one more time in case you missed it. Miss Kaydin was a little natural in front of the camera. She gave some great information and the story that came together made her shine and I couldn't be more proud! Tim joked that she hi-jacked my project and interview, but I'm glad it turned out that way. She did great! Check it out if you haven't already.

3. Summer Happenings
We have checked many things off of our summer bucket list and have lots of plans to keep that up in the next few weeks. I'm excited to do a final recap at the end of summer to remember all the adventures we partook in.

4. Fall planning
Even though it seems summer just started, it can almost be thought of to be coming to a close. I've been working on getting Kaydin registered at a new school as well as some other exciting changes and events that will be happening in the coming months. Along with those things comes my brother's wedding. The closer it gets, the more excited I get!!! Can't wait!

5. My Birthday, July 19th
Ya know, the older you get, the more birthdays just aren't that exciting of a day. Sure, it's fun to celebrate, but really it's just another day.  That said, this coming birthday marks the beginning of the last year of my 20's. This year should be fun as we'll be in Denver/Boulder rafting the river! A fun way to ring in 29! I really wanna make a list of some things I'd like to do/accomplish before I'm 30 {yikes, just saying that is weird! lol}. If I'm going to make that list a reality, though, I'd better get brainstorming!

Linking up with Clare for 5 Things Friday.

What should I add to my "Must Do Before I'm 30 List"? Help me think of some great ideas!

What have you been up to this summer?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vacation Week Happenings {and our news interview link}

I have thoroughly been enjoying my days off and not having to beat the clock to get to the office by 8:00am every morning!

We've been partaking in some fun activities around the city as well as having some fun family time together in the evenings by going on bike rides, running the dogs and checking in on the garden.

I thought I'd check in quickly to share a few photos from our week so far and also share our news story! It aired last night and I'm so pleased with how it turned out! The story and message was awesome and Kaydin did so great in front of the camera. In case you aren't local, or even if you are and missed the news story, here's the link to the video here!

We've learned!

We've indulged!

We've been entertained at the movies!

We've saved!

And we've created! 

And we're only a few days into our vacation! Keep up on what we're doing this week through Instagram!

I hope everyone one else is having a great week, too!!

Did you see us on TV last night?