Our Staycation on Coronado Island

Tanner and I went on a little staycation to Coronado Island this last weekend and it was absolutely wonderful. I've mentioned before that Coronado is my favorite place in San Diego, and this weekend just solidified that fact even more. 

On Friday night, we ran all of our weekend errands to allow us to have a worry-free weekend getaway. We woke up on Saturday morning, packed our bags and headed to the island. One of the nice things about the staycations, and being relatively close to home is that we didn't have to pack a huge gigantic bag. We just grabbed the essentials and hopped the car.

We arrived on Coronado way before our checkin time and killed time by walking down the main strip. I love the town of Coronado and I especially love walking around the beautiful Hotel del Coronado. We weren't staying at that hotel, (maybe someday) but anybody can walk through the luxurious lobby and peruse underground specialty shops if your in the mood for a $400 shirt or a $30 box of jelly beans.

After stretching our legs, we had a quick lunch and headed to the Navy Base to go to our hotel. We checked in with a rather unpleasant hostess and put our bags down to go explore. The hotel we stayed at had a "rooftop terrace". It was basically an area on the top of the building with nice chairs and tables overlooking Breakers Beach. Tanner and I just recently discovered this private beach. It's amazing because you have to have a military I.D. to get on the base, so there aren't many people that get to go to this particular beach. It's way less crowded making it so much more relaxing and enjoyable. After checking out the rest of the hotel, we got in our swimsuits and headed down to the water. Tanner loves swimming in the ocean. He doesn't care how cold it is or what time of day it is, you'll always find him in the waves. I also enjoy swimming in the ocean, but only when its extremely hot out... I'm a bit of a baby;) Tanner swam and I relaxed for a few hours. After we had our fill of the beach, we cleaned up, grabbed a bite to eat
, and went into town again. 

There are an unbelievable amount of Pokémon on Coronado Island... There's even a median down the main street that people literally camp out on to play. Of course we just had to join them... How could you not? It was a fun atmosphere and everyone was having a great time. After about an hour of being lazy and enjoying playing Pokémon, we went back to base to see the new Jason Bourne movie in the free base theatre. The movie was just okay but what I love about being on base is that before every movie, they play the national anthem. I think it's amazing how a crowd of loud, excited people instantly stand, and come to the position of attention the second the national anthem begins playing, silently giving respect to our country. 

We ended the night with a moonlit walk on the beach. There's something almost magical about being on the beach at night. I love how peaceful and empty it is. I especially love the feeling of the sand in my toes and the cold beach air blowing in my face while I listen to the waves crash over and over. 

On Sunday, Tanner and I woke up and immediately went to find breakfast. If you know me at all, you know that the second I wake up I have to have food in my mouth. We were beyond disappointed with the contintental breakfast at the hotel, so we hopped in the car and headed to our favorite breakfast place on Coronado, Claytons. Clayton's is a little hole in the wall place but it has some of the best food that I've ever tasted. It is all homemade and fresh and the atmosphere has an old-fashioned diner feel that I love. After breakfast, we headed back to the beach for an hour or so for some last minute swimming before we had to check out of the hotel. The ending of a fun trip like that is always hard but our short staycation really gave Tanner and I some much needed relaxation time. I felt so refreshed and energized for the new week and I am looking forward to doing another staycation again sometime very soon. 

Have you taken a staycation recently? What do you like about them?

The Happiest Place On Earth

I'm sure most of you are familiar with The Happiest Place On Earth, Disneyland. I was lucky enough to grow up going to Disneyland pretty frequently. My family went about once every two years, sometimes even more. Disneyland was a magical place for me, and even now as an adult, I still feel a sense of peace when I walk through the gates.

I have so many childhood memories at Disneyland. One of my favorite parts when I was younger was getting to see all of the characters. My parents would get autograph books for my sister and I and we would make it our mission to see all of the characters. I also used to love the different themes in different areas of the park. Disneyland does a great job of having all the rides, restaurants, and even workers meet that theme. I remember walking around the different areas of the park and being simply in awe at all the different magical landscapes. I never had to worry about a single thing at Disneyland. My only concern was when I would get to have ice cream next and how many rides I could fit into one day. It was a state of carefree bliss that only Disneyland was capable of providing.

I'm on the right and my sister Amber is on the left, (gosh look at my hair!)  year: 2000 

As I got older, I still enjoyed those parts of Disneyland that I mentioned, but new things also started to peak my interest. I discovered how fun roller coasters were and the biggest, fastest rides quickly became my favorites. My family loved the fact that I outgrew It's A Small World (which is quite possibly the worst song to get stuck in your head) in favor of Space Mountain. As an adult, certain things about the park have become less enjoyable. I now have to worry about things that I didn't have to as a child. For example I now have to concern myself with ticket prices, parking, where to eat, and most importantly when the best time of year to go is so that I can avoid the terrible lines. When I was a kid, all of those things were taken care of for me. Nowadays, Disneyland can sometimes be tainted by the adult lenses that I see it through today. 

On Tuesday, I got the chance to see Disneyland in a new way. I met my sisters, brother in law, and nieces in Disneyland. The experience was different this time because it was the first time I've ever been there with kids. I went on rides that I haven't been on since I was a child and I got to see my nieces faces light up when they saw their favorite characters. It was so much fun re-living some of my childhood memories with my nieces. 

Brooklynn, my younger niece, thought the characters were great but only from afar. She played peek-a-boo with Goofy and even talked to Pooh about his "yellow shoes" but the second they'd get close and try to give her a hug or high five she'd say "no please!". The poor characters ;) I don't blame her, those costumes sure can look big and intimidating when they're up close! I absolutely love the age that Brooklynn is at right now. At the end of the night, she got two fish stuffed animals as her souvenirs to bring home. I made sure to teach her how to make fish faces with them, she thought it was the funniest thing!  I hope that these memories and my fish faces will entertain her for years to come

My favorite picture<3 I have the cutest nieces 

Sofia, my older niece, begged all day to have her face painted. We promised her multiple times that she could but we just kept getting distracted and it kept getting pushed off. Right before the night time parade started, Sofia remembered and wanted nothing more then to get her face painted. My sister (her mom) and I ran across the park to get to the face painting station only to find out that they were closed. My sister used her charm and convinced them to paint one last face. Ironically, Sofia fell asleep while getting her face painted! The highlight for her was waking up in the chair and realizing she had her little face painted and she kept saying to me "Auntie Cole, I was the last one in the whole park to get my face painted" :) We ended the night by rushing over to catch the end of the parade and wave goodbye to Mickey. 

Disneyland will always be a magical place for me and I am so glad I got to experience it with my nieces. Being around their young, innocent hearts allowed me to see Disneyland through the eyes of a child again.

My sister Jessica and my niece Sofia

Still Waiting for my Hard Work to Pay Off

This isn't something that I usually like to talk about, but I thought with school back in session, now is a good time to discuss something that has been on my mind.

First, let me start with some background. I graduated college with my elementary education degree in 3 years. Typically, the program takes 4 but I wanted to be done with college. I went to my advisor after my first semester and I asked her how I could graduate in as little time as possible. We created a plan that included taking classes all year round. I was taking 6-8 classes each semester while everyone else was taking 4 or 5. I took summer classes and winter classes and I just did not stop. When graduation day came last May I was so relieved to finally be finished. I had worked my butt off and I was so proud of my accomplishment. I was so excited and I felt ready to start my career. 

Prior to graduation, I knew that I was going to move to San Diego. In April, I began applying for jobs in all of the different districts in the area. I moved in August and about two days after school started last year, I realized that getting a teaching job was not going to happen. I applied to so many different school districts but there weren't many jobs out there. Feeling defeated, I applied to be a substitute in the Poway Unified School District. I began substitute teaching in September of last year and it ended up being a great opportunity. I'm extremely thankful for my year as a substitute teacher because it gave me a chance to experience the different grade levels. Prior to subbing, I thought I would always want to teach elementary school. However, last school year I had two long term sub jobs at different middle schools and I absolutely loved it. I had a great time and found that middle school was where I "fit" the best. I related with the students in a way that I hadn't been able to before and I just loved going to work. Substituting also gave me a chance to try different classroom management strategies and to see how other teachers ran their own classrooms. I was able to make contacts with principals and the administrative staff. Overall, it felt like a really productive year where I learned what kind of teacher I wanted to be. 

This year, I started applying for jobs in Poway Unified and all over San Diego to be a full-time teacher. I had made many contacts in the Poway District and at the start of summer, I felt hopeful. Unfortunately, school started a week ago and I am still without a teaching job. Just like last year, there just aren't jobs available. It's a huge let down. I graduated over a year ago and I can't seem to find a job in my field. It makes all of my hard work seem pointless. I know many people in different fields of work have found themselves in a similar predicament. It's so easy to feel sad and discouraged about it but I'm choosing to look at things in a different light. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Looking back at my life, I can usually see why things have happened the way that they have. Right now, I don't know exactly why I'm not meant to have a teaching job but I know there's a reason. Maybe it's because I'm not prepared enough or maybe its just because it's just not my time yet. Whatever the case may be, I'm confident that something great is bound to come out of this. So for now, I'll spend the next year working on my teaching skills through substituting and I won't get down about not having my own classroom. Instead, I will try to touch the lives of the students that I do get to be with, even if its only for a day at a time. 


Do you have a similar experience to share? I would love to hear from you! 

Why I Sleep in a Sports Bra

Exercising in the morning isn't easy. Especially if you're like me, and you would do anything to get an extra 5 minutes of sleep. But I choose to exercise in the morning! And here's why: 

1. It gives me less time to talk myself out of it
This is a big one for me. If I waited until later to workout then by the time the afternoon rolls around, I've come up with hundreds of "really good" reasons why I shouldn't workout. I make working out my number one priority and the first thing I do in the morning so there's no room for excuses. If my schedule changes, so does my alarm. 

2. It puts me in a better mood.
Im hardly ever excited to get up an hour early to exercise (especially when my pillow and bed feel SO comfy). But when I'm done I almost always have a better attitude and it sets my day off on the right foot. When you exercise your body releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings. I've come home from the gym or a run in the morning many times and Tanner will say "wow you're in a good mood! Bet you're glad you worked out this morning!" And it's true. I never regret working out. But I almost always regret hitting the snooze button and going back to bed.

3. I feel more focused.
My morning workouts give me a huge boost of energy. I always feel more awake and focused on the job in front of me. By the time I get to work, I've already been up for a couple of hours so I'm ready to concentrate on the tasks I have ahead of me instead of feeling groggy and distracted. 

4. I eat healthier.
This one may just be me, but when I start my morning with a workout, I usually eat healthier that day. I don't want to screw up my early morning workout with unhealthy food. I feel healthier having worked out so I crave things that are good for me. Your body is smart, it knows that an eggo waffle doesn't have the nutrients it needs to recover after a workout. 

5. I am more productive. 
No matter what lies ahead of me each day, after a morning workout I feel better knowing  that I accomplished something. I like to set goals for myself and one of my goals is to work out 4-5 times a week, so when I do wake up and exercise I feel great knowing I'm working towards my goal. Another benefit of morning workouts is that they free up your evenings. There's nothing better then getting home after a long day of work knowing that the only thing left on your schedule is guilt-free relaxation. 

How do you stay motivated to wake up early to exercise?

Well, it isn't easy. I can't sit here and say that I wake up every morning excited to workout but I do one silly thing that helps me to get out of bed in the morning. I sleep in my workout clothes. I sleep in workout clothes almost every night because I've found that even the few minutes it takes me to change out of PJ's and into workout clothes is enough time for my bed rope me back in. Sleeping in my workout clothes allow me to just jump out of bed, put shoes on and run out the door before my mind has time to figure out what I'm doing. 
I encourage you to try exercising in the morning! Set your alarm an hour earlier and go out for a run or hit the gym. I promise it will do good things for you and you won't regret it.

 Who else enjoys morning workouts? What motivates you?

Summertime, What a Difference 400 Miles Makes

It is the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year here in California. There was so much adventure for my first summer in San Diego. Running, swimming, hiking and getting to know my new home has made for an exciting few months. However, it’s been quite a different summer then I’m used to having lived in Arizona the last few years.

In Arizona, summer is known as the worst time of year. It's so hot and miserable that you pretty much can't do anything outside. It's the time of year where you are so sweaty that your legs stick to the leather seats of cars (because of course, we all wear shorts) and you can barely open the door to your own house because the handle burns to the touch. A summer in Arizona also comes with the famous monsoon season. A monsoon usually means that you'll walk into your backyard to find it covered in layers of dust and there will randomly be moments or hours of rain mixed in with a thunderstorm. That may sound nice because in most places, when it rains the temperature cools. Not in Arizona! Rain just means you're getting wet on top of being covered in sweat. I was always looking for ways to go north to Flagstaff for the day or just leave the state. Now don't get me wrong, I don't hate Arizona all year round. You can't beat their fall and winter but summer is the worst.

If you're from California, then you know that summer is almost nothing like how I described it in Arizona. I live in San Diego, where the summer heat is paired with a cool breeze. There are so many outdoor activities to enjoy. This summer I enjoyed spending time at the beautiful beaches, walking along the surfs, hiking in numerous locations and exploring different areas of San Diego. Towards the beginning of summer, Tanner and I moved into a condo that has a pool at the complex so there were many days and nights spent in the pool. I also enjoyed walking through the different towns and parks (yes to catch Pokémon... but also to see the beautiful scenery). My favorite place to be this summer was Coronado because it has a little piece of everything I described. This summer in San Diego has been one of my best summers yet.   

As sad as I am to see summer come to a close I am looking forward to the cooler weather, crunching of leaves and of course, the pumpkin spice lattes that come with fall. 

Where is your favorite place to be in the summer? What are you looking forward to about fall?

Our Wedding Day

All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography | www.sashareiko.com
I woke up early on June 25th, 2016 feeling butterflies in my stomach lying next to my best friend since childhood, Megan. She looked at me and said “You’re getting married today!”, in the most excited sleepy voice I’ve ever heard. I smiled and jumped out of bed and showered feeling so thrilled that the day was finally here.  I had spent over a year and a half putting a tremendous amount of work into planning our wedding day and it was finally happening! All of my bridesmaids and I had spent the night in a hotel room the night before the wedding. We woke up, got showered, and headed to the salon. Our hair took less time then we had anticipated so we went back to the hotel for a little bit before heading to the venue. It was wonderful spending the morning in my pajamas not having to worry about anything. My bridal party was amazing, and between them, my mom, my aunt, and my grandma, they took care of everything.

 Our venue was absolutely beautiful. When Tanner and I came across it, we just knew that it was the one. We’re both super outdoorsy people and having our wedding at a tree farm seemed so fitting. The girls and I arrived at the venue about an hour before the guys.When we got there, I ate lunch and my papa gave me  my “something old”. For my something old he gave me my great grandmas wedding ring. This was the first of many times that day that I cried. I felt so honored to get to wear my great grandmas wedding ring. She was an amazing women who unfortunately passed away when I was in elementary school,  I felt like a part of her was with me on my big day
My mom and younger sister helped me put on my wedding dress. I had to be ready before all of my bridesmaids because Tanner and I had our "first look" to do before any other pictures could be taken. There was quite few moments laughter shared between us while they were tying me into my dress. I was standing in the bridal cabin when I heard people say “He’s here! He’s here!” (talking about Tanner). We had forgotten to close all the blinds to the bridal cabin (which Tanner had to walk by to get to the groomsmen loft), so there was an immediate hustle of everyone rushing around shutting the blinds and hiding me. 

Waiting to see Tanner was the most torturous part of the day. We’re extremely close and I usually tell him everything but I had not shown him my wedding dress before the wedding day. I was so scared he wouldn’t like it. After spending almost an hour getting my dress and shoes on, I was ready to go see him. My sister walked me part of the way to the area where he was waiting and then the photographer walked me the rest of the way. His reaction was perfect. I could tell by the look on his face that he loved my dress and I immediately relaxed. We took some time to read our vows to each other and then we were ready to take on our big day together.

After getting pictures taken with just the two of us, the bridal party came out to join us. I hadn’t seen anyone dressed and completely ready because they were all still in pajamas when I left for my first look. Can I just say we had a stellar looking bridal party? They all looked so amazing and I don’t think Tanner and I could have picked a better group of people to be by our sides on our big day. My two nieces were our flower girls that day. My older niece, Sofia, was one of the last people to walk up. When she saw me, she took off running. She gave me the biggest hug and refused to let go. It was such a sweet moment and something I will cherish forever. 
 The bridal party had a break while Tanner and I went off to take pictures with our families. When I walked up to take pictures, I saw my dad for the first time that day and he immediately started crying (he’s a softie), and of course he made me cry in return.
 Tanners side 
My side
When all the pictures were said and done, we hid away to get ready for the ceremony. The best part about the bridal cabin was that it was right in front so I could peek through the window and watch our guests start to arrive. I was feeling nervous, giddy, and excited all at once. When it was finally time for the ceremony, we lined up and got ready to walk out in pairs. It was exciting to watch my friends, my sisters, and my nieces walk down the aisle while I stood in the back with my dad. My younger niece and flower girl, Brooklynn, walked down the aisle throwing the flower petals and promptly picking them up again. Everybody was laughing and it lightened my nerves before walking down the aisle. Then, the song changed and it was my turn. My dad looked at me and asked if I was ready, and tears filled both of our eyes. Happy tears, but tears just the same. I remember walking down the aisle and looking out in the crowd, seeing all the important people in my life sitting there, bearing witnesses to our special day. My mom was in the front row, bawling which was even more surprising because she’s not one to cry. I then looked at Tanner, standing up there looking so handsome and a feeling washed over me. A feeling of knowing that I was making the best decision of my life.
Our ceremony was absolutely beautiful. The best man and officiant, Jacob,  did an outstanding job. My Grandpa Bob did an opening prayer and my aunt Kelly read a passage. I felt like the words of the ceremony spoke right to my heart and it was so sentimental.

We had a break during cocktail hour where Tanner and I sat in the bridal cabin and just decompressed. It was a lot of excitement all at one time so it was nice to take some time to  just be by ourselves. Then we all lined back up to do our entrance into the reception area. Tanner and I picked clips of different songs for each of the bridal party couples to walk/dance to as they were announced into the reception. We didn’t tell them the songs in advance, and it was hilarious to watch them rock out while walking in. We all ate dinner and Tanner and I got to walk around and greet all of our guests. After that, the toasts began. Starting with my dad, then my sister and maid of honor, and finally Jacob. They were all unique and memorable in their own way. After that, Tanner and I had our first slice of cake before moving on to the dance floor. 

My favorite part of the day was probably my first dance with Tanner. A few of the groomsmen performed the song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. Tanner and I have been a long distance couple for the majority of our relationship. We always talked about how "wouldn't it be nice when we were older and then we wouldn't have to wait so long" described our current situtation. Listening to this song was our way of signifying that chapter of our lives closing and a new one opening because now we are older and we don't have to wait weeks or months to see each other. It was so heartwarming hearing the words that mean so much to me played by some of our really close friends. They did a phenomenal job. When we were dancing, I forgot that everyone else was there and just got lost in the moment.

All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography | www.sashareiko.com
My daddy daughter dance was next. I’ll do a post all about this at a later time, but my dad and I have a really special bond (hence all the tears between us on wedding day).The song we danced to was “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. I still can’t listen to the song without crying. It describes my relationship with my dad perfectly.

All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography | www.sashareiko.com
 When our song ended and the applause subsided, the room began to fill with dancing and laughter from all of our friends and family. Another thing that I liked about the venue, was that for people who weren’t interested in dancing, there was a fire pit outside for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. The bouquet and garter toss both spurred some passionate competition (see below) in the end the maid of honor caught the bouquet and the best man caught the garter. There was so many smiles and I had a genuinely wonderful time. All too quickly, the night came to a close. Tanner and I had a sparkler send off, and then climbed into this car and drove off. Looking back, it feels like such a long day but it went so fast. It started and was over in a blink of an eye. Throughout the day I made sure to take little moments to myself to really try and soak it all in. It really was the best day of my life and I feel so blessed that so many people came from near and far to celebrate with us. Our wedding day will be a day that I always cherish and hold close to my heart.

All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography | www.sashareiko.com

If you enjoyed this post, check back on Tuesday morning for my next one.