Wrightsville Beach

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I had a picture in my mind of exactly what a North Carolina beach looks like. 
Perhaps it was formed by a Nicholas Sparks novel.
You know, the quintessential white sand, shrubs and distressed wooden fences.
Wrightsville beach was just that.
This beach was of course charming, like the rest of North Carolina.
It had a completely different feel than the beaches I've been to in California.
More laid back and relaxed. And slow. In and good way.

 Again with the beautiful homes. And right by the ocean! What a dream.

The water was beautiful but a little too cold for me, so I enjoyed it from afar. 
The weather was perfect and I even got an awesome tan line from my sandals. Gotta love those.

The beach didn't feel crowded at all which was nice. 
It could have been because it's not quite summer yet or because we were there on a Monday.
Regardless, we really enjoyed how quiet and peaceful it was.

We loved Wrightsville beach! 
It is only about a 15 minute drive from Wilmington and we loved experiencing an east coast beach!

Wilmington, North Carolina

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Derek and I have always wanted to visit North Carolina and the opportunity finally presented itself this week.
We flew into Raleigh and drove the 3 hours to Wilmington.
I'm not quite sure why we decided on staying in Wilmington. 
I had heard it's a cute town and it's close to the ocean, so we thought it might be a fun place to visit.
It took approximately 2 seconds for us to fall completely in love with it.
I had a huge smile on my face as we drove into the neighborhood where we were staying and at that moment I decided: I could live here. 
Maybe not anytime soon, but I would be a happy camper living in this neighborhood.
First of all, everything is so green! Trees and flowers everywhere.
It is also incredibly charming; the town looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale.
Just look at these cute houses:

I'll take one of each, please.

These historic homes are absolutely gorgeous! They have so much charm and personality. 
We saw families sitting out on their patios, just chatting and enjoying the warm weather. 
Neighbors waving and making small talk as they passed by on their evening stroll.
Basically, my dream.
All of the houses have a plaque by the front door that tells you when it was built and a bit of history about it.
We saw many that dated back to the 1800's.

We stayed in the guest room of this cute little pink house that we found on Airbnb.
We were so glad we chose to stay here rather than a hotel.
It created a more authentic experience and the owners of the home were so sweet; 
they gave us suggestions on places to visit and where to eat.
The guest room had its own separate entrance and my favorite part was the little balcony!
It was the perfect place to hang out after our morning run or to relax after coming home in the evenings.

I think we chose the best time to visit North Carolina. 
The weather was beautiful and warm and every house had a full blown flower garden.
The first thing we did when we got there was go for a walk to explore the neighborhood.

Downtown Wilmington was just a few blocks away from where we were staying so we walked there a couple nights for a bite to eat. 
Our first dinner was at the Copper Penny. 
We could tell it was going to be good because it was crowded with locals. 
We had a delicious dinner and brought home some chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert.
So, so good!

We ate this in bed while watching The Book Thief (great movie, by the way!)

Or second dinner there we ate at Elijah's Restaurant right by the water. 
The food was mediocre, but the view was amazing. 
The clouds were looking pretty threatening, so we took a risk sitting outside. 
We got to enjoy about 15 minutes on the patio before it started pouring in true North Carolina fashion.

Our three days in Wilmington flew by way too fast.
On the plus side, we put Wilmington on our list of potential locations to retire. 
So, we will see you again, Wilmington! Even if it isn't for another 30-40 years.

I will write about our time in Wrightsville Beach, Southport, and Raleigh later this week!

Working-Mom Series Week 5: Erin

Monday, April 7, 2014

{You can read the Intro to the Working-Mom Series here}

Erin graduated from BYU with a degree in Business. After graduating, she worked for Adobe as a web analytics consultant and currently works full time as an independent consultant. 
She is married with 2 sweet daughters.IMG_1451.JPG

Tell us about how you approached the decision to work after having a baby?

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother who was either stay-at-home or more involved than what a regular full time position could give me.  At the same time, I always had a personal drive to have a successful career.  It was a subject that I thought over in my head many times during my college years and early married years.  During an undergraduate business course, Dean Ned Hill of the business school came and spoke with his wife, Claralyn.  She had just returned to work as a lawyer.  She said something that stuck with me.  “Women are living longer than ever before.  Quit worrying about one way or the other.  There is a time and season for everything.  You can do it all, just not at the same time.  If you have the choice, choose where and when to give your 100%.”  I realized that day that I didn’t need to stress about how to handle my future.  I started a consulting career at Omniture (turned Adobe) and was pregnant 3 years later.  I once again started to stress about my decision.  Randomly, one of my clients told me that you can’t really know what to do with your career until after you’ve had the baby.  I relaxed again and realized she was right.  As soon as I had my first child, I knew I wanted to be home with her.  A busy consulting job was definitely not for me as a new mother.  I confidently left my work to be at home with my baby.  For me, it was the right decision.  The day after I left, I was given a nice offer from an outside agency to work 10 hours a week at home.  This was the perfect way for me to stay in the tech industry and to make a little extra income for my family but also to be at home where I wanted to be.  I consider myself very lucky to find this perfect fit for me.

Why was it important for you to work after having a baby?

I am in the digital marketing industry, specifically in analytics.  It is one of the fastest moving industries out there.  I knew that if I left the space, it would be very hard to get back in.  Working part-time from home was ideal since my husband’s job was very busy but also payed the bills so I could work in this situation.  Working from home also helped me with my personal independence.  I realize other women can find this independence elsewhere but for me, having my skillset on the side was rewarding and oftentimes a good break at night when my daughter went to bed.  I also knew that with my husband in finance, I always wanted to be ready in case his career had any hiccups.  I enjoy the feeling of knowing that I can take care of my family if necessary, which happened last year for our family.  The experience has been very empowering for me and I feel strong knowing I can be the breadwinner.

What has been the easiest part of keeping up with the demands of work and family?

There is an easy part?  I’m not quite sure I know an easy part. If you are going to make the choice to work from home, you need to realize it’s going to be hard. Worth it?  Possibly. Easy. Never. I guess I could say that working from home has allowed me to still see my kids. This part also has it’s cons but I’m grateful for that part of my situation.

What has been the hardest part of keeping up with the demands of work and family?

If I’m completely honest with myself, the hardest part is not the lack of sleep or unorganized house.  The hardest part for me is the guilt I feel that I can’t be there with my children.  Sometimes my 4-year old will wait at the top of the stairs in the evening for me to be done.  Sometimes I hear my 1-year old screaming in her crib when she doesn’t want to take a nap.  My motherly instincts are telling me to go pick them up and play with them.  I realize that all women handle this guilt differently.  For me, I just keep reminding myself that they are well taken care of and loved by me and my husband.   In addition, I want my daughters to be strong independent women and to make good decisions with their family first in their minds.  I know that I’m a living example of an independent woman and they will always have an example to look to when they grow up.  

What are your current childcare arrangements, what will they be once you start working, and how do you feel about them?

When I was working part-time from home, I had no childcare arrangements other than a neighbor who would watch my daughter on a conference call here and there.  I mostly timed my calls as close as possible to naps or times when she would play quietly for a few minutes.  I also became an advanced mute-button user!  After my husband left his company last June, he took some time off and watched the kids while I worked.  I’m in process of hiring a twice-a-week nanny so my husband can get back in the workforce.  I am very lucky that we’ve been able to take care of our kids within our own walls.

If you had to pick one trick or tip that helps you make it all work, what would it be?

Always know that your career is flexible.  Sometimes, decisions seem life-or-death but in most cases, change can happen.  Don’t be afraid to switch it up if you need to for your family or even for yourself.

Big thanks to Erin!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy April everyone! 
I have been anticipating this month for so long now and I can't believe it's finally here! 
I love Aprils in general, but this April is especially exciting because of everything we have planned this month.
Here's what we have on our schedule (in order of when they are happening):


Last month, Derek and his team represented BYU's MBA program at the Venture Capital Investment Competition and got 1st place! His team is now competing in the "Global Finals" next week which will take place at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
We've always talked about going to North Carolina together, so we figured this would be the perfect opportunity to go!
It might be because all of the Nicholas Sparks books/movies take place there, but North Carolina seems like such a beautiful  and romantic place.
We might just have to rent a canoe. And we might just get caught in the rain. Who knows?


We can't leave Utah without going to Zion National Park!
It will be a quick day trip on our way to Las Vegas, but we're hoping to get some amazing hikes in.


I've never been to Vegas before (only driven through) and honestly never had much of a desire to go.
For someone who doesn't drink or gamble, it doesn't seem like the most happening place.
BUT I admit that it seems like a city with great energy and lots to see.
Plus, I have to finally see the Bellagio fountain for myself!
The Bastille concert was the perfect excuse to make a trip to Vegas this month.
They have quickly become one of my new favorite bands (do yourself a favor and listen to their other songs besides just Pompeii--they're awesome!) and it just so happens that they're playing at the House of Blues on the strip.
Win-Win situation right there!!


We don't have a picture for this one yet--but we'll be so excited when we do!
Derek will be graduating with his MBA degree at the end of this month.
I am so so proud of everything he's accomplished in these 2 years.
I could go on and on, but I'll save that for another post :)
We're also so excited for all of the family that will be with us that weekend.
Two other family members are graduating from BYU as well so it'll basically be a big family reunion!


California is home for me.
I was born and raised there and have grown up with such a love for everything this beautiful state has to offer. It's not perfect but, in my opinion, it comes pretty close.
I have always appreciated living in California, but I think these 2 years away will help me appreciate it even more (not that I haven't enjoyed living in Utah).
We are moving back for exactly one day before we....


I can hardly believe we've started the same month that we are heading to Europe for our big trip.
We have been planning this trip for over 6 months and it has always felt so far away.
We still have so much to do before we go, but I get butterflies just thinking about how soon we'll be starting this adventure!

Any fun plans for you this lovely month of April?