We all love the holidays. The traditions. The food. The giving. Time to slow down and enjoy one another...except that rarely happens until the holiday is actually here and over. The lead up is quite the production and that is part of the fun...until it’s not. Finding some balance this holiday season by doing a few of these simple things...
Turn off your phone. Now I know this isn’t totally realistic, but set aside some time each day where your phone is out of sight and out of reach. Mine is usually between 2:30-5:30. At first I thought that this wouldn’t work for me, with real estate transactions always in play, and there are times when it doesn’t, but for the most part, it does. Believe it or not, no one actually dies if they can’t reach me for an hour and a deal has never fallen apart because of it either. Shocker.
Once you put your phone away, you’ll realize how much time you spend checking it. It’s a waste of so.much.time. and brain power. Not only that, when you’re not constantly seeing someone else’s elaborate Christmas vacation or over-the-top-tree or holiday family picture, you’re able to enjoy your own space so much more. For the record: all those people’s Christmas’ and family life look more similar to yours than you realize.
Trim the fat. We all have too many things on our to-do lists. Go ahead and give yourself permission to take two...or a dozen off that list. I’m sure they are all great and wonderful things, until you’re up all night trying to get them all done, yelling at your kids to ‘hurry up and help’. Perhaps my house is the only house that can get a touch too hectic and then we’ve really missed the point all together.
Don’t have time for neighbor gifts? Stop doing them. Really. You’re neighbors are not keeping track of who is knocking on their door and dropping treats (if they are, that’s their own issue :)). They’ll still be your neighbors and if you really can’t handle the guilt of skipping neighbor gifts, just move your gift to Valentine’s Day and make that your thing. We all have too many neighbor gifts sitting on our counters anyway.
Do your own kind of giving. You don't need to follow that calendar you found on Pinterest, or from your church. I realize that everyone has good intentions with giving here and giving there, and we all want to give everywhere. The thing is, it wears me out physically and emotionally and then I have nothing to give to the people that matter most to me. Please, don’t get me wrong, it’s great and good and wonderful...until it has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to produce these magical experiences for my kids. Instead, I’ve looked around to see where I can help and give a little more and we’ve just done that. It's enough. You're offering is enough. It doesn't need to be elaborate to be enough.
Keep your wrappings simple. I honestly love a beautifully wrapped gift. It’s probably more important to me than it should be so I try to get ahead of the game. Even still, every year I’m up until all hours on Christmas Eve. So I’m simplifying. I ordered these boxes on amazon — because I get tired of gift bags and I’m using a whole lot of bakers twine instead of ribbon.
I've spent the last week, fine-tuning all my lists. Making returns and swapping an item here or there to ensure all my gift-giving is just right. I know it's perhaps a little silly, but I really do love thoughtful gift-giving. This weekend I noticed Anthropologie was 30% off EVERYTHING and naturally, had to scope it out since it is one of my favorite places to find the perfect gift for my mom, sisters, friends, teachers -- all the lovely ladies in my life. Here's a round up of a few items I love for gifts, as well as a few items I'm considering for the home. Bonus? Almost everything single thing on here is under $100 and so many good stocking stuffers under $25. I'm obsessed with this cute hair bow that's under $10!
You asked for it, so here it is, my gift guide for all the favorite girls in your life!
We've gotten all of our kids these watches...which I've found really helpful when they're out riding bikes and at friend's houses. I can say, 'be home at this time!' and they have no excuse to not know the time! ;). They come in a million color combinations, have a stopwatch on them, which my kids love because we often times make up obstacle courses in our backyard and then time to see who can do the course the fastest. We've also thoroughly tested their waterproof capacities, Zack's was still ticking after a whole summer of swimming with it.
Thesetumbling mats might drive you crazy, but all your kids will love them. We borrowed my SIL and while Liv practiced tumbling on them, the boys wrestled on them. win-win.
This3D printer pen has been the talk of my house this weekend. Bonus! It's on super sale.
I'm still avoiding smart phones and iPods, loving this camera instead for all the pictures she wants to take and videos she wants to make. I'm certain one day she'll thank me for not allowing her to post anything to social media and I KNOW I'm going to thank myself when I compile these gems at her wedding dinner. ;)
These scrunchies are our favorites -- tight enough that they hold that top knot all day long.
This is for sure on my list for a little lady at my house. It comes with free online lessons, but I know so many that have taught themselves & it never gets old.
Liv and I have been using this back and forth journal this year and it really is a favorite. I've learned so much about that girl with this and I'm pretty sure I'll always treasure her 9-year-old handwriting.
If you're feeling like being the 'cool mom' this will put you at the top of the list. For the record, I'm not a cool mom, but my daughter wishes I would be. ha!
This card game and this card game are family favorites. They are fun and quick, we have both and they each get played often. Would make a great stocking stuffer.
These little skateboards (penny boards) ride more like a long board, nice and smooth, but are tiny and easy to transport. Lots of colors to choose from.
These roller skates are about the cutest thing I've seen & they've got great reviews!
These dresses never get old -- she's had the yellow one she'
These blankets, really they make every gift guide in the history of ever. We all have one, we all love them.
These tees, they're what she wears almost every single day.
This series is good for early readers and is an all-time favorite around here
Currently though I'm likingthis for reading options.
And the clothes...here are a few of our favorites, all under $50.
Today is the day! My Real Estate 101 course is available for purchase (scroll down for an awesome discount code!) I've thought about this day for well over a year. At the end of my first year in real estate I had to pinch myself, wondering if what I thought had just happened, had happened. It was a crazy end to a crazy year.
I was hugely pregnant and not sure if we'd have insurance when it came time for Luke's c-section. Scot's company had been acquired 9 months previously and during that time, we literally had no idea when they'd decide to close the Arizona operations. The good news was that they wanted to keep him, the bad news was they'd need us to move to San Antonio, Texas.
I wasn't wholly opposed to moving, but, for the life of me, I couldn't get the numbers on this move to make sense. While Scot's career had the potential to grow with the move, it would utterly tank mine. Suddenly, my real estate career was a viable reason NOT to move, even if Scot couldn't secure another job.
Never before had we charted these territories.
Through the process of deciding, I realized I did not want to put my fate in the hands of another company, in a different city, with a new baby on the way. Never has a company taken care of my family. Never have I been able to control what decisions they make in the board room. Never have they put us ahead of themselves. They never have and they never will and I get it. This isn't to bash the company he was with, they were always very good to him, but business is business.
What I did know was that even if Scot wanted to take a year off, I could support our family.
He didn't love that idea, and I agreed it was our 'worst case scenario' but can you imagine the freedom that brings to the table? Suddenly our backs weren't against the wall. We didn't HAVE to accept the move. We didn't HAVE to depend on this company. We didn't even HAVE to have Scot working.
Holy heck. I'd been in real estate one year, and suddenly these were my options?!? Imagine if I had decided to sit on the sidelines one more year?!?
So we chose to stay. We gritted our teeth, and turned down the move, without another job on the table. Marching forward, we prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best. Thankfully, after that decision a new job appeared on the horizon and just like we bought this house & accepted a new job on the same day, this time we had a baby & accepted a new job in the same month. Go big or go home I suppose.
All of our circumstances are different, but I think we can we all agree that our circumstances can change on a dime. Real estate is my way of being prepared. I don't ever have to rely on a company again and that feels so good. It's my way of taking care of myself and my family. It's my 'back-up' plan that can also be my main plan if I need it to be.
And now, I want to help you open up your options. I want you to experience what I've experienced. I can assure you it will make you feel uncomfortable. I can assure you it will keep you up some nights and I can assure you it will be the best thing you ever did.
I cannot think of another industry where you have the opportunity to grow as fast as you can in real estate. So come join me as we grow together.
My first Real Estate 101 course will be on Thursday January 17th from 7pm - 9pm and guys, I'm hosting it at MY HOUSE. I debated a couple different options, but I just want you in my home. It's where I feel the most comfortable and where I think we'll be able to get to know each other the best. We'll have a soda bar & appetizers and then we'll get to learning.
Tickets will include the live 2-hour course, along with course workbook...& there might be a special surprise in here as well, if the stars align! On top of that, we'll be creating a private Facebook Group -- which will be such a HUGE source of strength. This is the place where I'll be popping in once a month throughout the year with monthly goals and motivation. This is the place you'll come when you have a hiccup in a deal & you're not sure what to do. This is the place you'll come when you hit your 10th closing for the year & we'll celebrate with you!
I know SO many were hoping for a digital ticket to the event & I just can't quite guarantee that that will turn out like I want, so I'm not going to offer that up this go around. What I am considering, is offering access to our Private Facebook Group -- would this be of interest?!? Please leave a comment below, DM me, email me, something so I'm aware you want it and I'll get that worked out.
To purchase your ticket, head here. The first 5 people to register can use code FIRSTDIBS to save $50!
I cajoled Zack into scouring the internet for all of his favorite things. It's easy to write-off this age of boys as hard to gift, but once we got going on year's past and this year's 'mom-I-gotta-have-it!' we couldn't hardly stop. Best news, it doesn't involve one single video game.
Zack loved hislong board and all my kids use it a ton. I liked it so much, Scot got memy own one year. They are super easy to ride, even if you're not a 'skater.' If you're debating between a few, I like the ones with the black grip tape better than the clear. The clear tends to get brittle a crack easier.
Regular skateboards are also a staple around here. Depending on how familiar they and you are with skateboards, I'd recommend buying a complete set to start with. Then you can change out the trucks as you get more advanced. If you're local, we love the guys at Freedom Boardshop, otherwise find a local skate shop and ask them all your questions. I usually ask them what the best deck is that they've assembled recently...they'll tell you all about it & you'll get some good ideas. Then they'll hook you up with stickers on your way out. Tuck those into your kids' stockings for their water bottles and helmets.
If you give a skateboard, you'll want to pick up a helmet, ramp and rail too. My boys and their friends have spent countless hours perfecting their tricks on their boards.
I use stockings to stock them up on their favorite socks and underwear. This underwear is so good, Zack does his own laundry when he runs out.
I'm always encouraging my boys to find an adventure, so I also outfit them with the tools to really have a good time. Pocket knife, air-soft guns, paint-ball guns, mini nerf guns and sling shots with foam balls. Yes, they're all weapons. Yes, we have rules about them. Yes, they love the ever-living heck out of them. If you're wondering how to have weapons without injury, two things: first, you'll probably have a minor injury, just accept it. They'll peg each other, get hurt and probably won't do it again. Second, create games and storylines that don't involve them shooting each other. We've set up hunting obstacle courses with empty soda cans and timed who can get through it the fastest with the most amount of hits. Seriously, it's fun.
Sports. Basketball shoes, soccer goals, basketballs, sweats, tees, water bottles and a bag to carry it all.
Outdoor games. Our winter weather is why we live here, so we stock up on all sorts of outdoor games and toys. Spike ball is always a favorite, along with Ripstix, rollerblades & these scooters that are always fought over. And yes, I'm serious about the rollerblades. Make sure you have a friend on a bike and some rope hanging around when they open them & watch them behave like 12-year-olds.
If it's too cold where you live, bring the game inside with this amped up mini hoop.
We love playing this game and this game.
Zack loved reading this series and this series.
As for tech for my boys, I've steered away from nearly everything, including the Amazon Dots, Google home and all those type items. Instead, I've done the iPod Shuffle (which they don't even make anymore, but you can still find some here) and someheadphones. The last thing I need is them asking Alexa how to do their homework or what _______ means. PS -- the shuffles won't work with blue tooth, so make sure you're got them wired in!
One thing ALL my kids have loved are these blankets from KB Cute. I got them all a different pattern and they all sleep with them every single night. Bonus, they fold up compact & travel well!
And then the clothes! Oh the clothes. I try hold back on giving them anything they need so that I can wrap them all up, but I'm also notorious for seeing Zack come down the stairs ready to go somewhere and in horror, go retrieve a much needed new shirt for him. ha! My mom always used to do the same thing and I love it. These are some of Zack's current favorites -- look for the arrow on the right to scroll.
If you caught me yesterday on my Instagram stories, then you know I was in a bit of a funk. You know the morning when you wake up with a headache and you just can't get into gear alll day long? That was yesterday. I tried to jumpstart myself at the gym and while it helped, it didn't get me across the finish line. Naturally, I self-medicated with tacos and Target after that.
While I was pursuing the aisles, I started snapping all the fun finds I came across...hope you enjoy some of these simple pleasures like I did yesterday. Prepare for photo overload. :)
Shoes never actually solve any of my problems, but somehow, they also make them better. Loved these cute slides, and their sister.
This is the item that started me snapping in the first place, because how could I not share this with you! I can't find this on Target's website, but here is the original. I like the Target version better...along with the price tag too.
The bib is equally amazing...and also not online, but here are the originals to choose from.
I always love a good hat and this faux leather one was really cute for those days you're stretching your hair washing one too many days.
I can't find this bag online either and it's driving me crazy! Big and roomy, it's a lot like the MZ Wallace bag, but a fraction of the cost & I love the floral. Run and get it in store.
I realize the photo is not doing this one justice, but this polka dot rain jacket had me wishing we saw more rain.
This table runner made it's way into my cart, because it has the perfect touch of whimsy. Also loved this one too.
Wanted to take this lamp home with me too...this one is similar.
Anthropologie had a wreath similar to these several years ago and I actually made one (back when I was willing to DIY something) and it turned out so good -- it still hangs on my front door. This one is good and full and costs less than my DIY version.
There were a few other things, that really caught my eye for little girls. This jacket, these pants and holy cow, these toddler shoes & these toddler shoes.
My newest listing will be hitting the market soon, but if you want to see it prior to it going 'active' shoot me a text at 480-332-3450.
This house is full of possibilities! The owners have lived in the home for over 35 years and have taken such great care of it! Located on .8 of an acre, on a cul-de-sac in the heart of Mesa, it's brimming with mature trees and almost total privacy in the backyard.
Coming in at 3,000 livable sq ft, offering 4 beds, 3 baths, living room and dining room. It also offers, an additional family room, which is currently being used as an office.
In addition to all this space, the home boasts a large play pool that has been resurfaced AND a 900 sq ft workshop at the top of the carport. Like I said, SO MUCH potential in the heart of Mesa.
1725 E. Fountain Street, Mesa
Before heading back to real estate I was running a successful online storefront, designing and selling the most comfy tee you'd ever wear. I was happy with it. It was a hobby that generated me a great income while I was in the thick of having babies, but more than that, it was a creative outlet, a space that was solely mine. I built the website, designed the logo, ordered the inventory, photographed the inventory and shipped it. It was exhilarating to see a small idea grow into something substantial.
Over time I began to outgrow what it had to offer me...even though some days I still have the itch to design a tee or two, I knew I wanted to pursue 'something' else. In all honestly, I also knew that the 'something else' was real estate, I just wasn't sure how to get back to it. That...and I told myself all sorts of lies so that I could stay in, what I thought was, my nice comfortable spot. For two years, I debated going back to real estate. For two years, I told myself a variety of different lies & if you've been hesitating on pursuing something you love, I bet you're telling yourself some whoppers too. Here's the 3 big lies I told myself and how I moved through them.
1. It will be detrimental to my kids. Part of my hesitation leaving my online storefront and going back to real estate was that it felt like I was leaving a hobby and pursuing a career and I had a lot of untruths in my mental space about working mom's. I grew up in a culture where most mothers didn't pursue careers outside of the home. My mother never worked, my friend's moms never worked, I had not ever seen it modeled & I kept wondering what was wrong with me that I wasn't satisfied with what was going on within my four walls. Why wasn't that enough for me? That question swarmed in my head for YEARS and I grappled with the guilt and shame that followed the lies I told myself. I spent many nights crying to my husband, apologizing if he was upset that I always pursued career endeavors over laundry endeavors. For the record, he never was upset and was always the quiet voice of reason. Reminding me that in fact it was just the opposite. While I had always pursued outside interests, I never was willing to compromise my kids in the process. He'd quietly remind me that I didn't go to law school, that I quite my job when I had a baby and that I had turned down other opportunities that would have taken me out of the home.
It took a long time to clear the mental garbage to come to the realization that not only would pursuing real estate NOT be detrimental to my kids, but just the opposite. Two years in, I can fully attest that while they do have to make some sacrifices on my behalf, it has always been an asset instead of a liability.
2. People will think I'm a slimy salesperson. Truth is, they might, but those people aren't your people. The people that think your a slimy salesperson probably have time to think that about you because they aren't doing anything worthwhile. At least that's the story I tell myself. In all honesty though, EVERYONE that owns their own business is a salesperson. Seriously. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers...they're all trying to sell you something. Doctors need to sell procedures, lawyers & dentists need to sell services and teachers, well they're selling education.
3. I don't know what I'm doing. This one I was certain was absolutely true. In the purest of senses, I didn't feel experienced enough. I had literally never written a resale contract prior to shutting down my online shop, so this felt like a big leap. Even worse, I had gone to real estate school ten years prior. Ask me how much I remembered? About nothing. Turns out, that while yes, the paperwork needs to be done properly, its only about 10% of the transaction. So much more of real estate is about marketing, listening and angling. Turns out, my previous experiences in running businesses and raising kids made me really good at those things. Honesty, if you're a mom, you're built for real estate. You've learned to be a good listener, compassionate and read the non-verbals. You also might not know this yet, but you're also a master at marketing and negotiating, but that's another post for another day.
At the end of the day, all these lies were just silly stories I was telling myself in an effort to try and keep me 'safe' and 'comfortable.' Two years in though, I can look back and tell you that they didn't keep me safe, nor did the serve me well in any way. It took some time, but I developed a different story line for myself. Instead of telling myself that it would be detrimental to my kids, I told myself that them seeing me take a chance and pursue something I loved would give them the permission to do the same one day. Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure, I'll be in a position to be a huge support to them when they're ready, because I can say, 'yeah, I've been there, here's a thought.'
Instead of telling myself people will think I am a slimy salesperson, I now ask myself, who needs my help today? My goal is to always be of service and people can think what they think. Instead of telling myself that I don't know what I'm doing, I know tell myself, I'm uniquely qualified to handle each client's situation and guess what? That's actually the truth. I am uniquely qualified and I can handle it.
No matter what you're wanting to pursue, if you're struggling to get started, take inventory of the stories you're telling yourself. Do they match where you want to go? Are you creating scenarios in your mind that aren't true? Take the time to sort through it and change your thoughts. As you change your thoughts you'll begin to feel differently, which will allow you to take the action you've always been hesitating on...and then, then you will get the results you've always wanted.
Whatever it is you're after, I'm rooting for you.
Last month I took some time to focus on speaking my praises. I'm a firm believer in the process of managing your thoughts in order to manage your feelings, which lead to your action and then your results. Over the years, I've gotten really good at in the wisdom of Peter Pan, 'thinking happy thoughts,' and I can tell you it has made a bigger impact on my life than I originally thought it would.
Last month, I worked to take those thoughts a step forward and speak them. Whether by a comment on Instagram, a quick phone message, text or a quiet word while tucking someone into bed, I worked hard to speak my praises. I already knew that managing my thoughts had a profound effect on keeping myself settled, that I wasn't all that surprised to realize, that speaking those praises, well it magnified that settled feeling. Each time I did it, I realized that not only was it a gift for the person receiving the kind words, but it was also a gift to myself. As I spoke those praises, I began to notice more and more things worth praising, and it was a bit humbling to recognize more fully the goodness and abundance in my life.
Moving into November, I'm switching my focus up a bit and it might seem a touch counter-intuitive, but this month, the phrase I'm going to focus on is: Take time to be curious about yourself.
I realize November is supposed to be the month of giving and extending ourselves to others and while I am certain that will still hold a place for me, I often times feel so very stretched this month & I think most women in my stage of life feel the same.
Most mothers & women I know are natural born givers. They give and give in any way they can. They are happy to help in the classroom, and want to host a wonderful birthday party too. If you've had a baby, they want to bring you dinner as well. They want to coach the volleyball team and if you need a volunteer for the soup kitchen, well they'll do that too. On top of that, they'll wake up early for work, pack lunches for their kids, drive carpool, a make homemade neighbor gifts for everyone around them. I've noticed the problem is never a lack of givers. Perhaps it is that we ask too much of our givers, that flat wear them out before they are able to cultivate their ultimate gift to give.
And then November shows up and so much is asked of us this month. It starts with Halloween parties, rolls into family photos, charges towards Christmas with a full day of cooking and family at the end. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every single one of those things, but if I'm not careful I can get so caught up in being a part of those things and doing them to a level that I'm satisfied with, that by the end I'm completely deflated and verging on resentful.
And that's not who I want to be.
So this month, I'm going to take time to stay curious about myself. I'm choosing to check in on myself more and perhaps not to give my whole entire self to all of those activities. I'm choosing to carve out some time and space for opportunities for me to waste time doing something I enjoy, because if I enjoy it and it refills my tank, it's not time wasted. It is going to take some trade-offs. It might be choosing a simple dinner, so that I can go on a hike with my family (November is the best hiking weather!). It might be allowing myself to go to bed early so that I can tackle a full day the next day. It might be practicing my lettering, because every year when I'm addressing Christmas cards, I think, 'gosh! I wish I would have practiced this more.' I know it will certainly include wasting away a Saturday, planting my flower pots, full of red geranuiums. It's not necessary, but its enjoyable and I'm seeking out more enjoyment for me this month.
I realize these are simple examples, but the enjoyment is usually in the simple. What happens when I allow time to march on by while I toil away planting flowers is pure magic. Instead of rushing from thing to thing, I find myself thinking of my grandmother and her flower gardens. I think of the letters she wrote me prior to my marriage and the advice contained therein, I think about the amount of effort she exerted on my behalf, planning elaborate family reunions and sacrifices she made to love those around her. Then my mind wanders to my own mother and the time we used to spend planting red geraniums. The care and precision she had in her process. Preparing the soil, removing the weeds, making sure it was done just right. By the time I'm done planting those flowers, I'm a different person than when I started. I'm renewed to try a little bit better, be a little kinder and full of gratitude. Each time I water those pots I'll be reminded again and again. I encourage you to take a minute and ponder on what you want to explore and pursue this month, then set about doing it. It doesn't need to be grandiose, but it does need to feed your soul.
I'm saving this as my screen saver on my phone to remind myself to not take myself for granted. To take care of myself, so I can better take care of those around me. To feed myself, to cultivate my gifts, so that I can more fully and deliberately give them to others.
You are worth being curious about. Do not lose yourself in this season of giving.
One more thing I'm getting back in the habit of since having a baby, is reading before going to sleep. I've always been a bit of a book worm, but that first year with a baby, well exhaustion always takes over and my eyes close before I can get through a page. Hard to keep a story line together with that kind of performance.
Just finished reading The Accidental Empress and really loved it. I will start by telling you that I tried listening to this on Audible and wasn't a huge fan. I know so many swear by it, but I didn't love the reader on this one. I found myself focusing so much on the reader that I was missing the story! That and I love a good book in my hand before bed. So I bought the hard copy as well.
This is historical fiction, which might be my favorite genre. I find myself falling in love with different time periods, all while realizing that there isn't much difference in them at all. Stories always tend to boil down to family and relationships, but I love the backdrop of various time periods. This takes place during the reign of Franz Joseph of the Austrian Empire. A time period I haven't read too much about.
Without giving up too many details, the main character Sisi finds herself on the thrown with Franz Joseph and tumult ensues as she adjusts to palace life all while trying to grow up at the same time. Throughout the book, I had to keep reminding myself to read without the lens of my current reality.
It was such a different time for women, that even though she did step so far outside of bounds on some issues, her hands were tied on SO many. The book spans about 15 years and its fascinating to see her growth.
By far, one of my favorite parts of the book was her study of a German poet, Goethe, using his words to speak her thoughts which mirrored so many of my own. She writes, "Things which matter most, must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." I found myself dog-earing pages on so many of his thoughts throughout the book and admired her quest to learn.
While each character had their flaws, I couldn't help but fall in love with every single one. Loving her one moment and frustrated with him and in the next moment, loving him and rolling my eyes at her. Their marriage and their reign most certainly charted new territory and in the end, I admired them both.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.