The Soccer Chronicles

As a parent, you have all kinds of illusions of how things will work out. Then of course, there is always the reality J For us, having Westley play soccer was one such little scenario. We ordered him ADIDAS from head to toe, the cutest cleats with neon green laces, and on the very first Saturday of the season, we arrived on the field with the highest hopes and excitement. Our wild man looked so adorable and he loves the kicking the “soccer ball” with his dad. So introducing him to a full on team of other kids and a sport a week after turning three should’ve been a great idea…right? WRONG. Oh boy, was it not our best move. The universe has been laughing at us for this decision.

We made it five of the seven weeks of soccer. But, real talk, it was PAINFUL. Every week, we went out there and gave it our all, but for me and for my husband, it was an anxiety-ridden hour. You tell yourself every week: “Let’s have fun. Let him do whatever he wants. We won’t get stressed or frustrated.” But it’s just so hard when your kid is just not listening or interested. Granted, he loves kicking the ball and running, but it’s on his own terms.

It’s been a rollercoaster and truthfully we only have ourselves to blame. Clearly, we were too eager to get him going in a fun sport. But I had no clue when we signed up for the team that said “age 3” that his entire team and most of the kids playing in general were four, four and a half and some almost five. If you’re a parent of a young child I’m sure you can appreciate the wild difference six months make. I know I definitely do after this experience.

Our other big issue is Westley’s size. He looks a lot older than he is because he’s tall. So I think most people automatically assume he’s three and a half or even four. He was bigger than most of the kids on his team, but developmentally he literally just turned three, so he’s not on their same level. That’s always been something I deal with and I try and make it a point to let people know his age right away, so they’re not expecting him to behave like a much older kid.

I talked to a lot of parents on the field and most of them were incredibly understanding and kind – mainly because either their own kids were not listening or participating or because they’d been through two to three seasons before arriving at where they are today. It was re-assuring to hear this from other parents. Our kid wasn’t that different from theirs and basically the first few seasons of any sport with a small child is torture for the parents. Of course, there were a few judgmental glances and comments. One in particular from what I imagine are some kid’s grandparents. An older man laughing and pointing at W and saying: “he has no interest in this.” (hahahaha) As a Mama Bear, I wanted to yell at him, but that’s not how I roll, so I let it roll off my back.

It may just be me, but I think a lot of older people forget what it’s like to have very young children and definitely love to either openly judge you or give their opinions. C’est la vie. I just hope I remember these days two decades from now and show other parents some grace and kindness. There’s not enough of that in the world.

We did our best and I think for the most part Westley had fun. He sure looked adorable every Saturday. I will say i9 Sports and his coach as so sweet. Coach Marcel was so patient with him and encouraging and I was so proud of the time Westley did spend on the field whether practicing or his 2 minutes of playtime.

We will definitely be back. But the lesson here is we need to hang back and let him mature a bit. Our soccer dreams aren’t over, they are just on hold. We’re going to try again this summer during the Soccer Clinic, so he can be in a smaller group and learn the basics. By then, I hope he’s more mature. And if it doesn’t work out, then it’s on to the next thing. I never want to force anything on my child. Every kid is different, with different skills and passions. As a parent, we need to support and encourage whatever makes your kid shine.


I definitely wasn’t blessed with sports skills and my mom never forced anything on me. I distinctly remember when ballet and choir became too demanding along with school responsibilities and she told me, just pick one. You don’t have to do everything, especially if it’s not fun. So I’m taking her advice and my own.

I’ll report back this summer and see how “Soccer Take 2” goes.

Until then, W can kick the ball around with his dad and play on his own terms.








Cliquish: Influencer Networking Event

A few weeks ago, a friend and colleague sent me info on a networking event and panel – “So you want to be an Influencer” featuring a variety of veteran and up-and-coming influencers who were going to share their experiences and insights.

I decided it would be fun and interesting to attend and put myself out there in a scenario that was a bit unknown. Not going to lie, I was pretty sure I would be walking into an event where I was the oldest (by a decade plus) and would stick out like a sore thumb. But I decided, in my third decade, to step out of my comfort and just go for it.

Arriving at the event, I was greeted by a variety of faces, women of all ages, interests, race and ethnicity. It was refreshing to talk to so many different women who are passionate about sharing their interests and lives with others in a very public platform.

The panel was a slice of the social world from Ms. Danti, a make-up maven and PhD student, who has been in the game before there was a game to an 18-year old YouTuber, who started blogging in middle school and took off last summer when she made daily relationship challenge videos with her boyfriend. (Apparently this is a huge area of interest for younger girls.)

Loved hearing each of their journeys, tips and perspective. While they were very different, the one common denominator was their desire to connect with people through authentic content and giving others a glimpse into their lives and passion. There’s a lot of power in being vulnerable and opening yourself up to others. And I connected instantly with that part of each of their journeys.

I was reminded that networking is such a powerful tool and got to know a lot of new ladies, and even left with a new friend – a fellow Mama Bear of three, who is also Hispanic and loves sharing her journey of motherhood and passion for fashion.

If nothing else, there is always value in putting yourself out there, meeting new people, talking about common interests and making connections.

This event solidified why I do this. I enjoy having a creative outlet that is all mine, not dictated by others, and the ability to share with people the things I love. If I can make someone smile, try something new or even step out of their own comfort zone, then it’s the cherry on top!



A Wild West Birthday

Ok I’ll admit I probably enjoy planning Westley’s birthday parties a little too much. I usually lock in next year’s theme the day after his party. Type A extreme? I think so. But also I recognize I only get a finite number of years where I get to be the CBO (Chief Birthday Officer) and I am fully taking advantage.

I was especially thrilled for his third birthday party because he’s now at such a fun age. He’s immensely enjoying everything, fully participating and really into his birthday. From the song and blowing out the candles to the party and of course the presents.

Because W has a January birthday, immediately following the holidays, I want to make sure he feels like his big day is special and not lumped into the Christmas craze. This may be the June baby (celebrations and gifts every six months) in me speaking, but I’ve always felt bad for people who have birthdays around the holidays because so often you hear – “this is your Christmas and Birthday gift.” Or worse, there is no celebration because everyone is holiday-ed out. So this mama has made it her mission to ensure her wild man’s wildest birthday dreams are realized.

Ever since we landed on the name Westley, I’ve been dying to bring to life a “Wild West” themed party. And lucky for me, Westley is absolutely obsessed with horses. He watches Spirit on Netflix repeatedly, rides his rocking horse and loves cowboy boots. So naturally, I decided this was the year for Wild West.

Here are the details on throwing a party that will have guests saying, “howdy partner.”

The Venue

A venue should bring the theme to life and there’s no better place than a horse farm to create your own version of the Wild West. Lucky for us, North Florida provides the perfect backdrop. We landed on Happy Trails Horse Ranch because the birthday party package includes a variety of activities for the kids and the location is roomy and open for the adults attending. Ms. Nikki, the owner and party host, is incredibly sweet and patient with kids!

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The Décor 

Being outdoors, surrounded by pastures, horses and nature, the décor doesn’t have to be too extravagant to create the Wild West feeling. I landed on the traditional red bandana print to pull everything together, ordering table runners for the picnic tables and a table skirt for the cake table from Oriental Trading. I used large mason jars with fresh sunflowers as the centerpieces and voila, the West is born.

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The Goodies

This theme is perfect for maximizing party favors/goodies since they serve a dual purpose as part of the décor. I wanted each child to feel like they’re part of the Wild West, so I ordered cowboy hats, bandana, sheriff stars and mustaches! Oriental Trading has a great party pack that included most of the favors for a really affordable price. The best part, these favors were used as table settings, adding another visual element to my tablescape.

I also wanted to provide some fun propos for photos, so I purchased a giant “Wanted” sign along with a pack of western themed props on a stick. This is a fun and inexpensive way to highlight the party theme and inspire people to capture fun photos!

The Cake

The cake to me is the centerpiece of the party and should really embody the theme. We have an incredibly talented cake artist here in Tally who has been making Westley’s cakes since his first birthday. Her cakes are not only works of art, but they are so delicious. My favorite part of working with her is I trust her vision completely. I usually tell her my theme, send a few inspiration pics and she comes back with a description of the cake creation. Of course, the final product is always ten times better than I imagined.

This year was no exception. This is my favorite cake yet. It captured the Wild West theme perfectly incorporating denim, cow print, a cowboy hat, sheriff’s star and rope. It was absolutely gorgeous! The inside was equally satisfying with red velvet (my favorite) and chocolate cake with buttercream icing. Nom nom.


The Food

When I think Wild West, I think hot dogs…no clue why, but in my head it made perfect sense. I researched a few options and landed on a hot dog cart called Frankly Delicious. It was a cool visual with the cart and big red umbrella, but it was also a great decision because I did not have to worry about picking up food, setting up, getting plates, etc. The hot dog cart was a one-stop-shop. Party guests could choose from hot dogs, Bradley’s sausage or chicken sausage along with fun toppings including coke onions, chili, cheese and traditional toppings like mustard, ketchup and relish. The meal came complete with chips and drink. This was the perfect meal for both kids and adults! I highly recommend a food option like this because it’s totally hands off for you as the host, kid approved and nostalgic for adults.


The Fun

The party was kid and adult approved. The kiddos got to meet the horses, feed the horses, go on a hay ride and then ride a horse. It was a perfect mix of activities that kept the kids engaged and entertained. It was an absolute blast! After all the fun, we sang Happy Birthday and wrapped up a very magical and memorable birthday.


Motivation Monday: The 30-Minute Challenge

For the last month, I’ve been waking up about 30-minuets earlier than normal to see what I can accomplish during this time. Everything from laundry and loading/unloading the dishwasher to quiet “me time” and reading.

It sounds simple, but giving up 30 minutes of sleep has been a game changer in terms of productivity and taking back my weekends.

This idea came out of a recent workshop I attended/guest hosted given by my friend and life coach, Chelsea Quint. The workshop was all about approaching the holidays stress free and having more joy, but it turned out to be much more beneficial than just for one season.

As the women gathered in the “living room” of a lifestyle retail space, Hearth & Soul, sharing their thoughts on what brought them joy versus what induced stress, one of the attendees shared a simple, yet transformative idea. She had started waking up 30-45 minutes early to do chores around the house with the goal of not spending her entire weekend doing these very things.

I could immediately relate. While we usually run errands and do house work as a family unit (with the toddler usually undoing what we do), it would be way more fun to do other things during our time off from work. Things we enjoy much more than laundry!

The idea struck a cord in me and on that rainy Sunday, I committed to waking up 30 minutes early as a test. Certainly 30 minutes is doable and would not result in me giving up too much precious sleep.

The results have been phenomenal! First, I feel much more energized and ready to take on the day by the time my old “wake up time” rolls around. I’ve already accomplished so much, had some quiet time and am ready for the day.

I also have noticed a difference in the amount of weekend chores we have to do. Laundry is usually finished (or close to it) by Friday and the house is in pretty good shape.

This extra time also let’s me exercise creative outlets outside of work. For example, I wrote this blog during a few of these early morning sessions!

I also use this extra 30 minutes to sometimes get ready earlier, and run an errand before work like dropping off dry cleaning or running by the post office.

My verdict – I’m committed to giving myself these 30 minutes. It’s life changing. It makes me happier, healthier and more energetic. Win win.

What would you do with an extra 30 minutes a day? If you’ve tried this, I’d love your thoughts!



Toddler Travel Tips: Brace Yourself + Have A Drink

Optimistically or naively, we decided to take our first official family vacation (or trip as some of my wiser mama friends have told me – vacation is just the two of you) to Maine. This meant a two flight journey there and back (four flights total) with our strong-willed two and a half year old toddler. I know, I know, you probably think we’re crazy…jury’s still out. The trip was a roller coaster in the sky with ups and downs, but certainly a trip we will never forget. 😆 After flying with our sweet and spicy W (tantrums on the floor and all 😱😱😱), here are my tips for traveling with a toddler (tyrant):

Invest in Delta Comfort (or 1st Class)

  • Feel free to apply this to whatever airline you choose — just choose one that offers some kind of upgrade 😃 First things first, there are drinks for mommy and daddy. 🙌🏼 Second, it’s closer to the front and you have more leg room (especially nice for the tall hubby). We chose aisle 10, which is the first seat behind first class, to ensure even more leg room and the closest seat possible to the front.
  • While the ticket may be a bit pricier (not wildly different from coach), is there really a dollar figure to keep you sane? Exactly. 😜

Buy a Jetkids

  • This little invention is definitely worth the investment. It’s a BOGO — a riding suitcase + airplane bed. Need I say more! W was definitely the talk of ATL – everyone from flight attendants to travelers asked about this amazing contraption. It kept him busy and entertained, provided a fun ride, storage for toys and books and a bed on the plane. Now, if they only made these for adults 👌🏼

Sky Club It

  • If you have a long layover (we had a 2+ hour layover), do yourself a favor and go straight to the Sky Club (or airline equivalent). It is much more safe and intimate than the gate and provides a welcome change for parents and toddler.
  • Outside of the food options, coffee, juice and water, there are complimentary adult drinks to help you deal with toddler travel. I enjoyed some white wine, while the hubby partook in Bloody Mary’s. Another win, the private bathrooms with a nice changing table and plenty of space for toddler play time. W enjoyed his time in the Sky Club and it paid off majorly, when he fell asleep on the flight. With a Delta Platinum Amex, it’s $29 per person. Best $60 I’ve EVER spent.

Tire Them Out

  • First, make peace with the fact that you will have two kinds of people to deal with: the sympathizers (those who have been in your shoes and totally understand) and the judgers (those who have selective memory or have never been in your shoes). Once you have come to terms with that, focus on your give zero f$&@s attitude and let your kid run wild in the airport, sky lounge or wherever. Trust me, this paid pay off BIG when he immediately passed out upon boarding the plane, sleeping for 2 hours. 👌🏼🙌🏼🙏🏼

Board LAST

  • When I travel for business I’m happy to board early with Gold Medallion. As a traveling mom, zone FAMILY (aka last to board) is a blessing in disguise. Our strong willed toddler is equally awesome as he is restless. We learned during our first flight that early boarding was not a good thing. He wanted freedom and was not interested in his seatbelt. Our second flight, we waited until last call, making the wait one before take off minimal. You live, you learn.

Gummy Bears FTW

  • This was a Pro Tip from my work wife BFF, KA who suggested gummy bears during taxi, take off and landing. As most kids don’t know how to pop their ears and can’t chew gum that young, gummy bears are a welcome treat that will keep your child occupied and chewing during critical flight times. Since W doesn’t often get to enjoy candy, this was a highlight for him and avoided any ear issues. Win, win.

Overall, travel days were better than anticipated. I set expectations low to then be pleasantly surprised. W is not scared of flying, which is awesome and between our four flights, the first was the toughest, but after that it was smooth-ish flying.



Motivation MOMday: Kimberly Hand

Motivation MOMday is back with one of my favorite mamas who is also an old friend. While we’ve traded clubbing for playgrounds, this Southern doll always keeps it real. Enjoy my dear friend Kimberly Hand’s profile and the sweet pic of her family. Hilton is a total ham 🙂

  1. Mom 411 – a little about you and your family: My husband and I met when I was 14 years old! We were high school sweethearts and of course soul mates! Jason joined the Navy in 2000 and we were married in July of 2002. Right after we got married we moved to Washington State and then to California where he finished his Navy career in 2006. We knew we wanted to move back to the South, so we packed up and found ourselves back in the best town, our hometown of Thomasville! We were blessed to find jobs pretty quickly and started spreading our roots back down South. In July of 2015 we were blessed in finding out that we were having a baby. On March 28, 2016 we welcomed a happy and healthy baby boy into our lives! Boy….we had no idea how amazing and full our hearts would become.
  2. Mommy Mantra – Words you live by: I saw a saying once that I love…. Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own. To teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is… and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.
  3. Me Time – Favorite escape, activity: Love to escape for a girls day with my beautiful mom and go shopping.
  4. Mom Peeve – Biggest pet peeve as a mom: Judgy moms….we are all trying to be the best mom we can be, we may all have different opinions on things, but in the end aren’t we all in this together?
  5. Mom Hack – Necessity is the mother of invention: Love any kind of good app, or anything to help keep organized.
  6. Mom-preneur – Work, work from home, work it out, advice on work life balance: I work in the fast paced environment of advertising, however, it’s so important to have a good work/life balance. You have to set time for yourself and your family! It’s hard at times…but you learn how to adjust.
  7. Mom Squad – Who do you look up to, who’s in your tribe, thoughts on mommy hood and friendships: I’m blessed with some pretty bad-to-the-bone friends…I definitely have an awesome tribe of mom friends, as well as single friends! They all help get me through this fun thing called life.
  8. Mom Goals – Aspirational, inspirational: I think my main mom goal is to continue to be there for my family! It’s hard at times when you are a working mom to balance work, family and friends. However, at the end of the day when I look at my life, I want my son to continue to see me as a strong woman and know that I gave him my all!
  9. Mom-cation – Dream vacation: Would love a mini escape to somewhere tropical…but who wouldn’t want that?!
  10. My Children’s Take – Ask your child or children how they would describe you, their favorite thing about you: Hilton isn’t old enough to ask him how he feels about me yet. If I had to guess I would say he thinks I’m silly and make him laugh a lot! He would probably also say that I give really good hugs…but I kiss him on the face a lot and squeeze him which embarrasses himJ

This is 34

It’s hard to believe I turned 34 today. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been around for three decades and some change. My Aba is definitely right that the older you get the faster the years go by.

With a new year ahead, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last decade and how much has changed. At 24, I had just started my PR career after deciding to leave TV reporting. I had no idea what I was getting into with public relations or how far it would take. At the time the PR folks were the nicely dressed, friendly people at news conferences who handed me press kits and business cards and weren’t carrying 50 pounds of equipment including a camera, tripod and bag with batteries, tapes and microphones and trying not to sweat, while looking “camera ready.” I remember thinking on a number of occasions, I’m not sure what else these PR people do, but I want to be one of them someday 😉

At 24, I was still looking for love, dating guys I’m glad ended up being exes and enjoying being a 20-something spending Saturdays getting dressed up, dancing way too late (or early into the next morning) and singing along to every song in the club like NO ONE was listening. I’m so grateful for the years of growth and different relationships that taught me what I wanted and did not want and what kind of partner would be a true partner when it came to “forever.” At the time I only knew Sam as a friend of a friend who came out with us sometimes, joined a birthday dinner or weekend get together ever so often. I had no idea we would be married one day and what an awesome adventure awaited. Glad I was patient.

At 24 I was probably still a little too concerned about what others thought of me. Were they judging how I looked, what I said, etc. I was still getting comfortable being an unapologetic version of me.

Ten years may seem like a long time, but for me it’s flown by. I’ve had a few different jobs (all within PR and all at agencies), but each career move has taught me an incredible amount and with each year in my industry I feel more and more confident in the professional I’ve become. I love doing what I do and I think I’m pretty damn good at it. I also enjoy the challenges, learning and growing that each year brings. I hope to never stop seeking that — no matter how old I get. I truly feel there is always room for learning and improvement.

In the last decade I’ve gotten married (to that friend of a friend) and found a life partner who truly makes me a better person. We make each other better. We challenge each other, have great conversations and cheer each other on. We’ve moved three times including a stint in South Florida, while he pursued his Radiation Therapy specialty, had a baby (read all about that in previous posts), built a house and a life.

I can honestly say that my 30s have been the best decade yet and there are still a lot of years left of it. I feel like I’ve come into my own from my personal and professional relationships to the people I choose to surround myself with to taking care of my mind and body.

Motherhood has by far taught me the most about unconditional love, patience and the incredible role we play in shaping a little person’s life. Now, I have also learned that you can only influence and teach so much. My son definitely has his own personality and it differs from mine and my husband’s.

I’m not so much worried these days about what people think. I know in my heart who I am and I live that truth everyday. It’s refreshing. I intend to live each day to the fullest, savor each moment and look forward to who I will become in the years to come. Being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and colleague is rewarding. They say with each passing decade you say what you want, do what you want and live how you want. Watch out world…don’t know what I’ll be saying at forty. HA.