20 Things and Challenges

Well hello and Happy New Year! New year, new goals – right? I know that for some people the fresh year means a clean slate. Time to start anew. Others are just looking to change their holiday habits {reintroducing exercise and sugar detox mostly}. Others aren’t looking for quick fixes but lifestyle overhauls. I think the key to success is baby steps but I also think that some challenges thrown in are fun.



The Daily Quotes

I’m currently doing a couple of different challenges.

  • A 7 day healthy eating challenge with my sister in law. If you know how much sugar I’ve inhaled over the past month, then you know how much my body needs a reset. #imissmyicedcoffeewithvanilla #whatsthatgreenstuff
  • A 31 day challenge with Rachel Hollis over at The Chic Site. I signed up for this one a few days ago and I am getting daily email updates. It’s a lot of the basics – eat better, drink more water, move your body and I love that she added in journaling 10 things you are grateful for at the end of every the day.
  • A 31 day blog challenge. This just popped up on my Pinterest feed today so I am a day behind but you have to start somewhere, am I right? So each day has a topic. Follow along, it’ll be fun 🙂 Click here for the full 31 day list.

20 things about me:

  1. My full name is Gabrielle Erin, I went by Erin up until I was 15 years old. I changed towns and schools so I figured I would just make the switch. I was always correcting Gabriel {the boy version} to Gabrielle and then asking teachers to call me Erin. Of course it was immediately shortened to Gabby.
  2. I am the mom to two boys – ages 11 and almost 14.
  3. I love Instagram {click to follow me}. It’s my favorite form of social media.
  4. I love home decor.
  5. I work part time for a tax office that also does financial planning.
  6. HGTV is on in my house a lot. Fixer Upper is my favorite.
  7. My husband is a firefighter.
  8. I am super emotional.
  9. Sometimes I wish I was less emotional. It’s draining.
  10. I am taking a class on anxiety and depression this month because of my intense emotions.
  11. I think taking care of yourself is HUGE.
  12. I love walking and I try my best to get out for 2-4 miles a day. I love my FitBit and aim for 10k steps a day.
  13. I always walk with my pit bull rescue, Ollie.
  14. I couldn’t survive every day life without my village of girlfriends. They are instrumental in my sanity. Seriously.
  15. I am a big sister to two sisters and one brother.
  16. I have 2 adorable nephews and a set of twin nieces on the way. I love being an auntie.
  17. My house is home base for the holidays. I love it.
  18. I love organizing. It makes me feel so accomplished.
  19. Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places and it’s only 1.5 hours from my house.
  20. Fall is my favorite season {if you already know me, then you are well aware of this}.

Thank you for stopping by! I wish you a goal kicking 2017.

Day 27: 31 Days of Being Present – Movie Night

Ah yes — kids movies. Sometimes you need motivation like popcorn and candy to get through it. More often then not, the fact that you child is so excited for movie night with his mommy and daddy is all the motivation one could want. Tonight was one of those nights. My oldest went to a haunted house with his Auntie while the little dude stayed home. We went to Raley’s earlier for some milk and other basics. Of course Redbox called and we were going home with a movie.

This is such a small thing but Mason spent the rest of the afternoon planning for it. We would have popcorn with M&M’s and also the Nutter Butters that we bought ‘special’ for the night. He had his blanket and favorite stuffed animal and snuggled up to daddy {I wasn’t his person tonight}. It was really sweet and really it was just about hanging out, just us 3 doing what he wanted to do. It was a no brainer.

Sometimes being present just means doing what others want us to do. Spending the time watching this movie was special to him and that in itself made it special to me.

Photo taken summer 2012 — one of my favorites

Day 26: 31 Days of Being Present

This day of being present is brought to you by my super handsome and fabulously creative son, Mason. He got this Lego Hospital at Downtown Disney and he built it in under two hours. He is super focused when it comes to Legos and he is also super fast! This is the end result:





Pretty awesome uh? He was so proud that he had me take a photo send to his daddy at work. Daddy also thought it was pretty awesome.





Day 25: 31 Days of Being Present – Disneyland

Well sometimes the best of intentions go array!! I had to skip several days of my 31 days series. I had the best of intentions to pre write my posts and set them to actually post while I was on vacation and then the unspeakable happened {gasp!}. My wifi went out at home!! Yes, this happened right before we left for a 4 day family vacation. We returned late Monday afternoon but after a busy few days, I just got on the phone with our provider yesterday afternoon and a new modem is on it’s way. So I have had very spotty computer access and well, attempting a blog post from my cell phone is far too complicated for me!! Today I am typing this from my local Nugget Market. I’m here all the time buying groceries so hey, why not blog from here? 😉

What can I say about the past several days? Was I present? I think so. We did a family trip to Disneyland. We loaded the van up with our family of 4 plus my dad and sister. We spend three days at the parks. How can you not be present at Disneyland? On day #1 we were luck enough to be joined by my brother, Michael and super adorable nephew, Maverick. My poor sister in law got hit hard by the stomach flu the night before. Bummer!! It was a 24 hour bug so she was able to come and spend the day with us on Sunday {my brother works for Disney Studios so they get in for free — so they can pop over whenever they please. Nice eh?} My other sister, Carly also joined us for a few hours on our first day. Seeing my So Ca family is a wonderful thing!!

That’s my family. There are 4 of us but I am the oldest {and most awesome — just kidding!!}. Well I am the oldest 😉 Carly lives in So Ca and so does my brother and his family. My youngest sister, Holly and my dad are local. My dad does not like to look at the camera and my nephew was shocked by the flash. Sorry dude. I didn’t mean to scare you! My kids are so lucky to have amazing aunts and uncles on both sides of the family.

So day #1 was running between parks, spending time with family, riding rides that were awesome {Haunted Mansion at Halloween? Amazing!!}, eating yummy {but bad for you} foods and of course I was in charge of rocking my nephew to sleep. Poor me uh? Who am I kidding — I love rocking babies to sleep!! He made me work for it though. I don’t think I have ever sang Rock a Bye Baby so many times in a row! It worked though. Conked out little fella! Happy and asleep in his Auntie’s arms.

Day #2 was more of the same except we really didn’t spend too much time at Disneyland. It was so incredibly crowded that we felt like cattle being pushed through. It was tight quarters every where we turned. So after a few rides and lunch at Downtown Disney, we headed back to California Adventure. I have to say, I actually love that park more. It has had a total overhaul since we were there two years ago and it is amazing!! I mean seriously. Cars Land is up and running. That was my favorite place to be. It really felt like you were in the movie. I don’t think they could have made it any better. Every detail was covered from characters driving through, cozy cone snack shacks and the buttes. Wow. It was seriously breathtaking. Plus I loved the energy. The music was so fun and everyone was just happy.

Day #3 was all about getting on the Cars Racers so we basically got to the park when it opened. Thankfully my sister Holly is a bit of a pro since she just went to Disney about a month ago. She navigated for us to get this ride done. There are so many rides throughout the parks but the most popular by far was the Radiator Springs Racers. This was a must do. Worth the wait but there is an average two hour wait time. Even the past Fast Pass line was an hour wait right when the park opened. This is when we hustled over to the actual ride which was 1 hour right when it opened. Any other time of day it was 2 hours. We only did it once but it was super cool. We still waited awhile but it was so worth it. Let me just say, I am not a roller coaster kind of girl. This ride has a minute of  ‘racing’ {cause McQueen is all about the speed you know}. I was white knuckled during the race cause I’m a big baby but it was still so worth it. After that we managed to squeeze in other rides and then we headed out of the park for lunch and to meet my brother, sister in law and nephew. We also spend a little time at the Lego Store {I have an obsessed 7 year old who thought this trip was about him and the Lego Store and not so much the family and Disneyland!}. Afterwards we headed back to the park for some Animation Academy as well as Turtle Talk with Crush. We wrapped up our time with my brother and his fam with some delicious ice cream from Ghirardelli. They have the best sundaes and they are totally ginourmous share worthy. We continued on to some more rides and wrapped up the night watching World of Color. This was an amazing show but I will tell you, grab a fast pass for some better seating {I was told these are all gone by 1pm} and prepare to plant yourself about an hour before the show. It’s a great time to take a load off. Maybe grab some snacks and just chill. We did not do either of these things and we stood. It was such an amazing and beautiful show but after three days of nonstop walking, our feet were killing us so standing for that long {20 minutes} felt like an eternity and kinda took away from the experience.

A few of my favorite things:

  • Turtle Talk with Crush is a super cute interactive show with Crush from Finding Nemo.
  • California Soaring is a family favorite.
  • Starbucks {listen, it’s an addiction I tell ya!}
  • Pirates of the Carribean
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Toy Story Mania {another must}
  • Cars Land — all of it!
  • Churros {yes, really!}

Steve’s favorites:

  • Screamin’ {which I am terrified of!}
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Beer {we all have our vices}
  • Soaring
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Tower of Terror 

Ben’s favorite things:

  • Grizzy River Run
  • Goofy’s Flight School
  • Churros {takes after his mom}
  • Pirates of the Carribean
  • Pin Trading  {this was a new thing for us but Ben had a blast trading his pins with the cast members}
  • Disney Animation Academy
Mason’s favorite things:
  • Goofy’s Flight School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Snacking {this kid carb loaded whenever he had the chance}
  • “italian icee” which was really just a Minute Maid frozen lemonade 😉
  • Mators Junkyard Jamboree 
  • The Lego store at Downtown Disney.
Where we stayed:
I am not one that likes to pay a lot for lodging when we won’t be at the hotel much {we are also on a pretty tight budget so we have to plan for that as well} We stayed at the Annabella during prior trips and this time we stayed at Best Western Stovall Inn. It was a great price and a short walk to the parks. Of course we cut through the California Grande which I think would be so fun — someday
Are you a Disney Fan? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them!!


Day 17: 31 Days of Being Present

Today has been a pretty busy day. We are leaving for Disneyland in two days so I am getting ready. Shopping, packing, cleaning, washing dogs. You know, all the stuff that goes with leaving your house. Why am I washing the dogs? Cause I have a dog/house sitter and these pups are stinky. I feel I owe her that much at least! So aside from gearing up for a trip, crafting, blogging and the kids school stuff — I ended up with visitors this afternoon. It was actually pretty funny. I was down to one child {the other one went fishing with his buddy}. My friend Jeff was coming over to put a luggage rack thingy {don’t I sound technical? Ha ha} on my van. Anyway, his wife, Jenelle, {who is this amazing kind of friend that any girl would be lucky to have} had driven separate and was heading home but I knew she wanted to come over. I know her so well! So anyway, I said, “Come on over”. She didn’t hesitate. So that happened which was awesome cause I planted my butt on the couch and just hung out. A rare but beautiful thing! Then I got a call from my friend Lisa who needed someone to watch her son so I said, “Of course’. So by this point there are now 4 happy children in my house and Legos everywhere. Well that wound down and Jenelle and her family left as Lisa and her hubby showed up. It felt like a revolving door and as much as I thought I was going to be prepping for my trip — I didn’t and I loved every second of being with people who mean so much to me. So the point of this day of being present? Friendship. Sometimes you put other things aside to spend quality time with people that make a difference in your world. I’m feeling pretty thankful for that 🙂

Day 16: 31 Days of Being Present

Today is a simple post. It is really not even about me – it’s about what my husband did that made me feel all better. I have been a stress ball lately. Trying to find a job, juggling home, wishing for more money, being a mom and keeping up on this blog. I was starting to feel like I might just crack. He came up and hugged me. Tight. And said, “Everything is going to be OK”. Well even though I have moments where I go dark and feel helpless {I am pretty optimistic but sometimes I have moments of despair — I think we all have our moments!}, I really do feel blessed and like I have so much more then so many. It’s not a ‘poor me’ type of feeling. It’s more of a “I can’t control everything and I don’t like this” type of feeling. Anxiety. Anyway, we are all human, we all have struggles but today this simple gesture really kinda snapped me back to reality. Cause he’s right, we will be OK. So today my husband made me be present because he was — I only needed that moment to make me feel sane again.

Day 15: 31 Days of Being Present

Today was super fun and very easy as far as being present. Probably because I got to spend it with my friend, Julie,  at one of our favorite places, Apple Hill. It’s our annual thing. The kids love to go but we like to sneak up on a weekday when things are less hectic. There are so many fun places to eat. I mean really, it’s gorgeous and all but I {heart} the food!! Apple pie, crisp, donuts, sauce, cider and then there are the caramel apples. Oh. My. Goodness.

Some of my favorite spots:

Ables Acres has an amazing selection of caramel apples. My personal fave is the apple pie one. Whoa. I can’t even put into words how amazing it is. They also have apple fritters as big as my head. Yep, that was breakfast! With a Starbucks of course.

I love the pies at Apple Ridge Farms although I hear that Hooverville makes a pretty amazing pie as well. That being said, we made the journey to Hooverville which is actually off of Highway 49 heading towards Coloma. Let me just tell you a funny story about this  spot. For two girls who are very used to the Apple Hill ranches and farms, this was off the beaten path. Down a one lane road that had arrows that kept pointing us in the right direction. Then a sign that said, “you are 1/2 way”. Wow, seemed like we should have been there by that point. As we are cruising along Julie tells me this story about a TV show she saw years ago that took place in the middle of nowhere and it involved creepy men and peacocks. Oh great story!! Where were we at anyway? Did we have cell service? Well we finally reach Hooverville and parked. There is only one person working but it has a lot of picnic tables and looks like it could be busy on a weekend. It’s Monday. So it was not busy. We parked and got out of the car and guess what I saw? Seriously. Guess. Peacocks!!! I was giggling and said, “Julie” and she said, “Don’t tell me, peacocks?” Yep — lots of them in cages. We just had to laugh and laugh and laugh. What are the chances? I can recall seeing peacocks at two places, the Folsom Zoo and Daffodil Hill. They were not caged at either place. Anyway, it was worth the journey for all of the laughs. Oh the pie? We each bought one so I will give you the verdict on that one later!!

High Hill Ranch has a great selection of food including burgers and sandwiches. I also love the apple cider {free samples} here. There are also several vendors on hand for handmade crafts and gifts.

Boa Vista has great prices on apples. We didn’t even realize this until we overheard someone at High Hill say, “They are $5 cheaper at Boa Vista“. Um OK — on it!! We popped over to Boa Vista and grabbed some apples and they also have other produce as well. Wish I remembered that before I went grocery shopping yesterday. Bell peppers were 69 cents each!

To cap off our day we popped into Placerville and grabbed lunch at The Shoestring. Cause after sugar you need some grease, right? I had a western cheeseburger and Julie had a hot pastrami. Of course we shared fries. They also had crushed ice for the sodas. I have a crush on crushed ice. Seriously. I even asked for a refill which I NEVER do cause I love the ice so much. It’s the little things 🙂

How often do you make the time to be present doing something that you love?

Day 13: 31 Days of Being Present

Today is a ‘marathon day’. Nope, I do not run. Only if someone was chasing me would that be happening 😉 What it means is we are running from one event to the next. First Starbucks {mama needs her fuel}, then soccer, home for a short while, off to drop off raffle tickets for the kids school Fall Festival, home to pick up my dad and sister and then we are off to see my hubby get his badge pinning for his recent Captain Promotion {yeah Hubby!!}. Of course that will be followed by an early dinner and then the drive home. Did I mention that he works an hour away? Anyway – It’s days like this where it is so hard to be present cause I am in go mode. Already thinking of the next thing to do.

Guess what? I don’t think it matters what I am doing or what is happening in my busy, overloaded little brain today. What matters is my husband and his big achievement. This afternoon is all about him and how hard he works, not only for our family but also at his job. He is a dedicated man and he deserves for me to be 100% present to celebrate HIM. So today I shall be present for my man.

Day 12: 31 Days of Being Present

Being present — what makes us be present? Well I think it depends on the day and where we are in our own heads.

This lil’ post is about babies. One in particular. Let me tell the story of Miss Alyssa. One of my neighbors has become one of my best girlfriends. Really, I adore her. Our hubbies are friends, our kids are friends and even our dogs are friends. I love that we are neighbors and can check in so regularly. A year ago my sweet friend was trying to get pregnant with baby #3 and it was proving to be a challenge and then it happened {it was a journey for sure}. She showed up with another BF of ours and presented the positive test {yes, we are that close}. Of course we all got weepy and giddy and happy.

Obviously the journey takes 9 months so we got to watch her belly grow, feel the baby kick and even throw her a pretty awesome baby shower. It was fun for all of us to follow along in all of the moments. Baby #3 was a surprise baby so we all made our guesses. A lot guessed boy. Those people were wrong {yes I was one of them. Sheesh}.

I got an early morning call on the 25th of June. She was heading to the hospital with contractions. Well because I have NO PATIENCE, I decided to plant myself in the Roseville area. You know, just to be close so I could be a stalker in case she needed me. They sent her away to ‘walk’. Well that seemed to do something cause I texted her to get an update {but not overbearing – nope, not me!} and she was getting ready to be admitted. Well you know, I was in the area. It worked out — she said come on over. So I did. Immediately.

So it begins. At first it was her MIL, hubby and me. Then the party continued with another one of her best friends and her parents. More neighbors. We all hung out, took turns walking with her and rubbing her back. She was a trooper. No meds. Yet. Her body seemed kinda at a stand still and then — her mom and dad who literally had just flown into the SF Airport after being in France walked through the door. Game changer. The tears started and so did the contractions. I think her body waited till her parents could be there.

We all carried on. Between visits in the room and then taking over the waiting room. The energy was amazing. Everyone was so excited and we all had a buzz about us. Then her hubby came our of her room and said, “It’s game time — grandmas come to the room please”. I think we all get super high pitched and squeaky when this announcement came.

A few more friends arrived and I had another dear friend on the phone when the proud daddy  came into the waiting room to make the announcement, “It’s a GIRL!!!”. Of course this was followed by a lot of hugs, tears and just overall happiness.

Soon enough we all filed into that delivery room to meet this sweet baby girl. I am certain that she felt all of our energy as she is one of the most social babies I have ever met. I know her mama felt our love that day too. It was one of the sweetest and sentimental days I have ever been apart of.

Fast forward to today. Alyssa is almost 4 months old. I love holding her and hearing her find her cute little voice, laughing for the first time and just showing us the innocence of life and knowing that we all started so small.

If I have a bad day, guess where I go? Yep, right for that baby girl. I hold her and I forget that I am grumpy. I turn into this pile of mush and don’t care how silly I sound. With her in my arms, I am completely present. Oh, I also get the title of Auntie Gabby. {love}. So there you have it, my little take on being present with babies.

Day 11: 31 Days of Being Present

Ok — so this post is not mine. I did not live this but I feel like it is a very important message. One that all of us can relate too. We live in this world full of technology and although being plugged in can sometime be a good thing, it can also make us very distracted. Very. Sometimes these small distractions {and most of the time very unnecessary} can be life changing. The difference between life and death. Read on and you will see what I am talking about. Finding Joy is a blog that I love to read. She is real. She is honest and she makes me feel like a better mom. Also, this story does end well. It could have not ended well — which is why we must be present. Especially when behind the wheel. Those seconds saved from texting, talking on the phone and looking anywhere but forward could be life saving.

Read -> Save lives. Do not drive distracted.

I was driving down the interstate with my daughter —  we were both mildly irritated as we had left late and we were trying to hash out why —  and then in a second our lives and perspective shifted. Up ahead, with two cars inbetween, was a car that all of a sudden swerved into the median area where it was full of gravel. As the car began to fishtail the driver slammed on her brakes and proceeded to spin out multiple times in the middle of the busy interstate. I screamed at my daughter to sit back and I swerved to avoid the cars veering everywhere while trying to not hit this spinning car in front of me.
Then the car spun out one more time and smashed head first into the metal barrier {thank goodness they have those} between the two lanes of the interstate. I slammed on my brakes and stopped about ten feet from her car – in the middle of the interstate. And there we sat – in the middle of racing traffic – stopped. I yelled to Hannah to sit back again and I sat there looking in my rear view mirror at traffic unaware of what just happened, and me, and my daughter sitting in the car with nowhere to go. All I could see was that line of cars racing toward our car that was now sitting on the interstate going zero.

Not now. Not here.

A semi-truck racing towards me slowed down and pulled up right behind me and stopped. After we both jumped out and checked on the girl in the car {she was okay, but simply and understandably very shook up}, we talked in that stunned way – that way where two people never expect to talk – right in the middle of the interstate where you only drive. And that driver, that man in the semi, he told me I knew I had to stop in back of you. I saw the smoke and dirt and then you and I knew that if I didn’t stop you’d be toast. You’d be toast because someone would be looking at their phone and slam into you, but they won’t slam into me. I looked at him, this man whose face is forever imprinted in my mind, and I thanked him over and over and over again.

He stopped his truck to save me and the girl whose car was in front of mine smashed into the median.

When I sat in the middle of the interstate for those long seconds before that semi truck stopped the thing that kept running through my mind was see me see me see me – pay attention – please – stop – slow down. I knew that if people weren’t watching they’d slam right into me and my daughter stuck in the middle of a place where we never wanted to be sitting still.