San Diego Staycation at the Rancho Bernardo Inn

Friday, November 18, 2016

I have a confession to make: my husband and I haven't gone away on vacation together since the early 2000's.

I know. I know.

It's entirely our fault. We didn't make getting away a priority. When Tyler was little, he would spend a week with his grandmothers, which, let's be honest, felt like a vacation even though Phil and I stayed at home.

Now, our travel is 95% related to Tyler's sports. For tournaments and games we've been up and down California, to Arizona and Lake Tahoe; and this year we add Las Vegas. But these trips can hardly be counted as getaways. The presence of smelly hockey gear is not remotely romantic.

You'd think, living in a city like San Diego, staycations would be a no brainer. There are so many things to do here! We have many distinct neighborhoods, miles of some of the best beaches in the US, mountains and deserts. It's ridiculously easy to find something to do no matter what your vacation style. For us to not take advantage of the awesome things our city offers is kinda ridiculous.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
So, it was a nice surprise when I found out I'd been chosen as Innfluencer for the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I applied on the fly and promptly forgot about it. When the email came with the available dates for our stay; I knew exactly what to do: surprise anniversary staycation!
Even though I do little things for Phil like buying his favorite ice creams, making sure he always has gum in his car and buying salt water taffy when I'm at a specific store; it's rare that I get to make a grandiose gesture like this one and treat him to something like this.

Hopefully, our stay at The Inn has exposed Phil to how nice mini getaways can be and he'll be more open to them in the future.
If you've never been to San Diego, the Rancho Bernardo Inn is a resort in the northern inland corridor between Escondido and Poway. It's tucked away in the community so that, if you didn't live there, you'd pass right by. The grounds are beautiful and the resort has plenty of things to keep you occupied like the 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, spa facilities and four dining options.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
If you've known me for awhile you know I love to read. I also think it's important to get kids to read. The fact that The Inn has a Little Free Library was really touching. I brought three books, left them when we checked in and two were gone the next day!
Photo credit Tonya Staab
We got to the hotel and had just enough time to check out the amenities in our room and wander the grounds before our dinner reservation at Veranda. Since we were early for dinner, we decided to catch the last of Happy Hour at Avant, the bar upstairs. They have live music several nights a week.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
We had a lovely dinner and it was nice to take our time and "catch up" with each other. We decided to hit the jacuzzi before bed and when we got back to the room, the hotel had left us a bottle of wine and a charcuterie tray.

Like most people who have been married as long as we have, we watched the news, continued our conversation from dinner and went to sleep.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
Early the next morning, we left the cozy hotel bed because Tyler had a game. Yes, yes, I know. What can I say? We love watching him play. Even though the room had a Keurig, we grabbed coffees and pastry from the cafe (which has a cute little gift shop filled with locally made products). After the game, one of Tyler's teammates was nice enough to take him back to their house so we could go back to the hotel for the breakfast that was included with our package. Sundays call for mimosas, right?
As part of our hotel package, the Eat, Drink and Be Merry, we had tasting room tickets to local wineries and breweries. After we checked out, we planned the rest of our afternoon around the football schedule. Since I don't drink wine or beer, guess whose husband got to bring a buddy? Just keeping my Wife of the Year title secure!

We visited three breweries: Iron Fist, Lost Abbey and Mother Earth. If you're visiting San Diego and book this package, you'll definitely need access to a car or service like Uber as the breweries are not close to the hotel.

If you or someone you know is planning a trip to America's Finest City, consider the Rancho Bernardo Inn resort! 

If you'd like to read about another package option, my blogging friend Maryann and her family stayed at The Inn earlier this summer and took advantage of the Family Fun Package. If you want to see what our overnight looked like in 'real time' I posted a few other photos on Instagram.

Thank you to The Inn for hosting us as part of their #Innfluencer campaign and to Tonya for her photography!


Three Tips for New Sports Parents

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Our son's sports journey started when he was six. He "played" T-ball for a season and then moved on to martial arts. We thought he was on his way to becoming a black belt, but he stopped after earning his yellow. I didn't play sports (I did cheer and dance for awhile) but my husband did and I'd watched my younger brother play so I know the value of participating in an organized sport. It was something we hoped Tyler would embrace but we didn't push it too hard.

competitive youth sports pros and cons

Then, when he was eight, he told us he wanted to play hockey like his friend from school. Since he'd never been on ice skates, we didn't think he was serious. But he kept asking so we looked into in. The hockey community in Southern California, is MUCH bigger than we realized. To see if Tyler was really committed, we made him go through two rounds of skating lessons. We thought he'd get tired of being out there with the figure skaters and give up. We were wrong. After skating lessons he'd ask, "how much longer until I can be a hockey player?" We enrolled him in the rec league thinking that he'd get bored at practice, just like he did for T-ball. But he didn't. He played his first season and didn't complain about practice being too hard or boring. 

In the middle of his second rec season, he started to notice the travel players. He saw their nice uniforms, matching track suits, coordinated hockey bags with their names and jersey numbers and heard stories about traveling to different cities to play.

"When can I try out for one those teams?" 

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into jumping from the rec league to Club, but Tyler was still really into the sport and, more importantly, he was working hard to earn his spot on the team. Tyler was so proud to put on his travel team uniform for the first time! He was 10 when we let him try out and has been playing travel ever since.

tip advice sports parents

Fast forward to present day and within the next few weeks Tyler and his team will be playing in both the So Cal finals and the state finals! We are incredibly proud of what he and his team accomplished this year. Though we've had our ups and downs over the years, we're impressed with Tyler's passion for the game and how he's grown and matured both as a person and a player. 

Deciding to let your son or daughter play sports can be a big commitment. If you've been on the fence about joining a team (because make no mistake, your player may be the one on the field but you're all in this together) hopefully my advice will help you. Here are three things I've learned in my time as a sports parent:

Be your athlete's biggest cheerleader, but don't be a sycophant

We're pretty fortunate to have several rinks close to our home. That means we have been able to attend at least 80% of practices and 95% of Tyler's games. Even when I have to bring work with me to practice, Tyler can see that I'm there. We videotape some games to upload privately to YouTube so family and friends can watch. We've Skyped people in for games and used FaceTime too. I have a team sweatshirt with his name and first jersey number and a matching hat. I've worn his jersey to games, and he tells me my voice carries in the rink and he hears me cheering for the team. We do everything we can to be supportive, but we're not "everyone gets a trophy" parents. Tyler has been really good about coming to us for advice and critique. He'll ask us, "what did I do well today and what can I do better?" 

We do our best to offer constructive advice and stick the the 'scold in private, praise in public' rule. Yes, it's the coach's job to bring out the best performance in their players, but coaches don't always have the time to really get to know each of the players and their personalities. We know our son best. That's why we have no problem telling him something like we could see the moment when he let the other team get into his head, or that he had a bad shift in a particular period. Building your athlete's confidence is important, especially in high contact sports. 

But telling your young athlete how awesome they are with no balanced feedback doesn't do them any good. We've seen players who were fawned over at lower levels of play become totally disillusioned with the sport when they got to higher levels and are no longer the top scorer, batter, etc. etc. There will always be another player who is better than yours, but there's a role for everyone on a team. How your athlete responds to not being the "best" is something parents can reinforce: they can either let it defeat them, or motivate them to work harder.

better sports parents

Give your athlete the tools they need, and then take a step back

Tyler is so fortunate to have extremely generous grandparents. They have been a huge help in allowing us to make sure Tyler's equipment is always properly fitting and high in safety ratings. When the budget allows we've done private lessons and clinics. We've done summer camps. Over the years we've accumulated piles of street sticks, street pucks, rollerblades, nets to shoot on, water bottles and miles of stick tape. I keep grab and go snacks on hand, his favorite Powerade flavors, and we bought a mini cooler and Thermos to pack food when we know he'll be practicing or playing for hours.

We've put as many tools in his toolbox as we can, it's up to him how he uses them. He needs to go out into the street to practice his shot and work on stick handling. He needs to treat practice seriously. He needs to give his best effort at each game. He needs to keep his grades up and be a good citizen of our home (chores, etc.) to earn the privilege of being on the team.

Tie athletics in with life lessons

Over the years we've probably used every perseverance cliche in the book: work smarter not harder, anything worth doing is worth doing well, we make time for the things that are important to us, set SMART goals, respect and positivity open doors, sometimes it's okay to not be the leader; but you still have to give it your best, it's called 'work' for a reason, and on and on. We've made a conscious effort to make a connection between sports and a larger life lesson whenever we can.

  • He's not always going to enjoy practice but it's part of the larger picture
  • There will be days when he doesn't feel well and doesn't want to go to practice (or his future job), but occasionally he'll have to at least try to power though
  • He's not always going to like his coach (or his future boss) but has to be respectful
  • He's not always going to get along with his teammates (or future coworkers), but he has to put that aside when he steps on the ice
  • He needs to remember that someone else didn't make the team because he did

In the past few years we've watched Tyler outgrow a bit of his shyness. He's been in situations where he's had to stick up for himself or a teammate, he's learned to advocate for himself by going to his coach to ask what he needs to do to earn more ice time.

Whenever I talk with my brother about his time in youth sports, he says it's life lessons that were his biggest takeaway. We really hope it's the same for Tyler.

Being a sports family can be a great experience. We really treasure the time we've had together and the memories we've created. Because of hockey we've been on mini vacations to San Jose, Arizona and Lake Tahoe. Our extended family and friends come out to watch him play. We've received discounted tickets for NHL games. We've been a billet family for two amazing young men from Sweden. Tyler has made some really strong friendships with his teammates and we have other families we can now claim as part of our "village."

Do you have young athletes in the family? What tactics have worked best for you in keeping them motivated and inspired?


About the POWERADE #JustAKidFrom campaign:

POWERADE believes that with the right motivation these everyday athletes can realize their potential and one day be just like the athletes they look up to. Sports have a major impact on our communities. Whether it is t-ball or the pros, every athlete in every league has a story waiting to be told.

Your young athlete can represent their somewhere with custom "Just a Kid" apparel that features where they're from purchased here. All net proceeds from the sale of "Just a Kid" apparel goes to the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Special Just a Kid sports bottle offer from Walmart:
1. Purchase two, 8-packs of 20 oz POWERADE at Walmart 

2. Go online, submit your receipt, and order a free custom “Just a Kid” reusable sports bottle. 
3. Visit to learn more. The offer is good until April 4, 2016 or while supplies last.

Special thanks to the post sponsors @SheSpeaksUp, @POWERADE and @Walmart.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

2016 Organization: 14 Free Printable Planners for Bloggers

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'm pretty sure I've confessed my type-a personality traits here before. I wish I could say they've lessened as I've gotten older. But no. They're alive and flourishing. I like order. I like organization. I'm not that good at winging it. Having a plan is good.

free printable planner bloggers

For this blog and another I write for, I found I was needing a way to keep better track of some specific data. I have the info spread out over too many locations and it's getting difficult to keep things updated in a timely manner. Other content creators and bloggers I know say they need to keep records of things like:
  • What they post and when it's posted
  • Future topic ideas
  • Relevant hashtags
  • Expenses
  • Invoices
  • Social media campaigns
Of course there is more, but those are the most common. I started researching content calendars, tracking sheets and budgeting sheets and realized there was probably an all-in-one system I should be looking for instead. I was right. And the results are glorious. I found printable planners specifically designed for bloggers. My school supply loving, list making heart can't be happier. 

If you've been in need of a system to help get your blog on track this year, these 10 printable blog organizers are a great place to start. The problem now is deciding which one I want to use.

Happy organizing!

A Virtuous Woman 

A Well Crafted Party

Celebrating Everyday Life 

Confessions of a Homeschooler

Cort In Session 

Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Designer Blogs

Design Decor

Essential Take on Life

Lime Tree Fruits

Mama Jenn

Tea Party Beauty

Yellow Bliss Road

7 On A Shoestring

Note: If you decide to use one of these planners, please be sure to read the descriptions and download rules for each. Some have guidelines and recommendations about how they need to be printed and many require subscription to a newsletter. Each of the planners here are free (!!) so please be respectful of the creators' rules for use. 

Image from

printable planners for bloggers roundup

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute at the 2016 Coronado Island Film Festival

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I received Press access from the Board to the Coronado Island Film Festival staff and venues to facilitate writing this sponsored post. 

The Coronado Island Film Festival: 85 Movies. 6 Spectacular Parties. 5 Live Performances. 4 Panels of Industry Pros.

I've lived in San Diego for a long time and one of my favorite places to go when I want to be a tourist in my own city is Coronado. The island is beautiful and filled with history. I didn't realize how much of a connection to old Hollywood and the film industry the island has. 

Dozens of movies have been filmed on the grounds of the world famous Hotel Del Coronado, Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum lived in a home on Star Park Circle, and there is an IMDb page filled with movies and TV shows filmed on location around the island. 

It makes sense that Coronado would be prime location for a film fest. And now it's here! The first annual Coronado Island Film Festival starts this week on Friday, January 15th and runs through Monday the 18th.

Coronado Film Fest 2016 Martin Luther King tribute

The festival is packed with appearances by industry leaders:
  • Leonard Maltin - film critic and author
  • Lisa Bruce - Producer of The Theory of Everything
  • Emmanuel Lubeski - Cinematographer for recent Golden Globe winning film The Revenant
  • Chris Lemmon - Writer and son of actor Jack Lemmon who will be receiving the inaugural Hollywood Legacy Award during the festival
  • Jonas Rivera - Producer for the recent Golden Globe winning film Inside Out
To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Coronado Film Festival is hosting a free tribute event on Monday the 18th from 3:00 - 4:30pm. The reception happens following a special Noon screening of Laurens Grant's documentary Freedom Riders. Grant won a Peabody award and three primetime Emmy's for her 2010 Civil Rights film. 

Grant's other documentaries, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Jessie Owens are also screening at the Festival. Freedom Riders will screen at Noon at the Village Theatre and the reception, with Grant as the special guest, is at the Glorietta Bay Inn. Light hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served. 

Laurens Grant documentaries Coronado Film Fest 2016

To plan your weekend of Festival activities, read the full Coronado Island Film Festival program online. 

Other film festival reads:

For a listing of other free events during the Festival, read this post by Danielle Simmons of Simm Works Family

Suzzette Valle, Coronado resident and author of 101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up, has a full Festival rundown on her site. You can buy a signed copy of her book at the Hospitality Tent. 

Kate Hammernik of Highlights Along the Way shares details on the animation panel and opening night screening of the new Disney movie The Finest Hours.

Rob, AKA Downtown Rob has a list of the parties and special events. 

To stay up-to-date with the Festival news and schedule, Like the CIFF Facebook page, follow the CIFF on Twitter and through the #CIFF and #CoronadoFilmFest hashtags. 

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