Weekend Recap {6/23-6/25}

Folks, I don't know what the temperatures have been like where you live, but summer is in full force here in Florida. With the exception of one year, I've lived in Florida my entire life. Yet, the heat and humidity levels never cease to surprise me from summer to summer. I love it and I hate it.

Slade was out of town for work this past weekend, so I took the opportunity to catch up with some friends and cross some stuff off of my to-do list. Here's a recap!

My friend Ashley came to stay the night with me on Friday. We went downtown and started the night with drinks and dinner at Boca Fiesta. It was my first time there, and I can honestly say that I think they have the best margaritas and steak tacos in Gainesville. After dinner, we walked around downtown for a bit, had a few more drinks, and wrapped up the night with a bit of dancing. I always have such a fun time with Ashley...it was exactly the kind of night I needed!

Saturday morning was spent lazing around my apartment. We did make a quick trip to get some breakfast from Chick-Fil-A, but that was about it for the first few hours. We eventually had to get up and get ready, as Ashley had to head home and I had a hair appointment. I have to admit, I am that horrible person who gets a haircut/trim a whopping one time a year. And, the older I get, the less I can tolerate long hair in the hot weather, so that one time a year always involves chopping several inches off. It just feels so much better!

After my hair appointment, I went to lunch with Taylor, who is one of my best friends from high school. We hadn't seen each other in a little over a year, and it was wonderful to spend a couple of hours catching up. She also had her niece Camilla with her. She is just over a year old, and is the absolute cutest.

I spent the evening at home, making myself relax...which for whatever reason has been super difficult for me to do lately. I feel like I always have to be working on something...not sure what my deal is. I discovered World of Dance on On Demand, and got sucked in. I am such a sucker for any type of dance show, and this one is awesome!

Bell and I slept until about 7:30, and then I got up and did my weekly Sunday morning cleaning. Once that was done, I left to go to the gym. Sunday is normally a rest day for me, but I didn't go to the gym on Saturday morning like I usually do, so I had to make up for that. During the week, I do cardio and strength training, and on the weekends I focus just on cardio. I had a great workout on the treadmill this day!

With my workout out of the way, I drove over to Kohl's to see if they had a pair of sandals I was wanting. They did have them, and even better, they also had my favorite sports bras on clearance for $10 apiece so I got two more colors. I then had to run into Publix to get a couple of things I needed for a new recipe.

Bell and I went for a walk when I got home, then I showered and hunkered down to write blog posts for the week. I also finished up the last couple of available World of Dance episodes, and then moved on to catching up on the new season of So You Think You Can Dance. (It's an addiction, I tell ya.)

It's now another Monday, but I'm choosing to believe that this week is going to be a good one. After work I have to head over to an appointment at David's Bridal. One of my best friends got engaged back in May, and her and her fiance have decided to get married this fall, so it's bridesmaid dress time! I'm really looking forward to it, and all of the wedding festivities!

How was your weekend?



"Some things fill your heart without trying."

In the first post I ever wrote about her, this was the quote I used to describe the way Babybel makes me feel. That post was written back in December, when Bell was just a clumsy, playful, and completely precious two-month old puppy. She was 11 pounds, full of snuggles, and at that perfect, curious puppy age. She thieved my heart the moment I picked her up out of the squirming mass of her brothers and sisters. I immediately knew she was going to be Slade and I's first big adventure.

Now, Bell is 51 pounds, constantly exudes crazy amounts of energy, and only sits still long enough to snuggle on the rare occasion. She likes to walk by and give me random licks to remind me that she does love me, even though she's super busy doing dog stuff. If Slade and I show the slightest bit of affection towards one another, she has to get right in the middle of it. Her favorite past-time is running full speed to the kitchen whenever she hears a cabinet door open, because she just assumes that we're pulling out the peanut butter jar.

Bell isn't always easy, and she definitely isn't always well behaved. She's quirky, and stubborn to boot. But, the joy she brings into mine and Slade's lives every day just can't be measured. She isn't just our pet, she's our child. (Call me dramatic, I don't even care.) She completes our little family, and with every pound she grows, our love for her grows ten fold. 

We adopted Bell from Helping Hands Pet Rescue here in Gainesville, Florida. The Gainesville area has many reputable pet rescues, and I know people that have adopted from most of them and had great experiences. Slade and I knew that we wanted to adopt instead of buy. Our main reasoning for that pre-Bell was that we wanted to provide a home to a dog that desperately wanted/needed one. I think that is the primary reason that anyone wants to adopt a pet from a shelter, but after learning more about Helping Hands and actually getting a dog through that process, we learned so much more about how "adopting rather than shopping" benefits pets in need everywhere.

As you keep reading, please keep in mind that I'm absolutely not saying that there is only one "right" way to obtain a dog or cat. Pets are one of the greatest gifts in life, regardless of how they are acquired. I'm simply sharing some information about something that is near and dear to my heart.

According to the National Humane Society, around 3.7 million animals are euthanized each year. The ASPCA has also done studies that show these animals are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them, and only 10-20% of animals owned are adopted from shelters. That is a super small percentage, especially when you stop to think about how many animals we have in the world. 

So, you see, when you adopt instead of spending possibly thousands of dollars on a new pet, all of these things happen:

*You give an animal the opportunity to grow up in a loving environment.
*You support the shelters that make it their mission to save as many abandoned and neglected pets as they can.
*You take support away from puppy mills and breeders, and the often horrible treatment that takes place within some of those establishments.

Maybe you aren't in a position to adopt and care for a new pet, and that is completely understandable. There are others ways to help if you are interested in supporting rescue shelters. Here are a few ideas:

1. Donate money or food to a local shelter. Your contribution can go towards the care that the animals receive while they are in the shelter waiting to be adopted. 

2. Sign up to volunteer. Shelters are always looking for people to help with feeding, transportation of the animals, and adoption events. 

3. Apply to be a foster. Give a dog or cat a place to stay while they are waiting to find their forever home. 

4. Fund raise, fund raise, fund raise. Work with the shelter you volunteer for to create new and exciting fundraising events. To make the process easier, use an event planning service such as Eventbrite to promote and advertise. 

5. Follow shelters in your area on social media. Help them spread the word about their amazing animals and events. 

Ready to get going? You can find a list of animal shelters by state here. A quick Google search will also bring up a list of the ones in your city. Even the smallest contributions can make a huge difference in the lives that we are able to give innocent animals. Just prepare to have your heart completely stolen by wagging tails and cuddles.

*This post was written in cooperation with Eventbrite, in order to spread awareness about their non-profit event planning platform. The topic was chosen by me, and all opinions are my own.*


Getting Hired with VIPKID

Last week, I mentioned that I was going through the hiring process for an online ESL teaching job. I'm now really excited to say that I was offered the position! I'll be working as an independent contractor for VIPKID, which is a company located in Beijing, China. I'll have the flexibility of building a schedule that will work around my full-time job and other obligations, the pay is nothing to complain about, and best of all, I'll get help young Chinese students learn another language.

VIPKID is actually in the middle of a pretty large hiring spree at the moment, so I thought I would share a bit about the job and the hiring process for anyone who is interested in this type of work. Teaching English as a foreign language is such a rewarding opportunity. I earned my TEFL certification in Prague, taught there for a year, and I've been looking into somehow getting back into teaching ESL since I returned home a year ago.

Here are some questions I would ask anyone who is interested in teaching ESL. More specifically, since VIPKID is geared towards teaching children ages 5-11, here are some questions I would ask anyone interested in teaching ESL to young learners:

1. Are you encouraging, upbeat, and energetic?
2. Are you okay with being silly?
3. Do you have a passion for seeing students learn and improve?
4. Do you have a good grasp of English spelling, pronunciation, and grammar?

If you answered yes to all of these, VIPKID may be a good fit for you! So, what else do you need in order to apply?

*At least 7.5 hours of availability each week. 
*A willingness to work strange hours...peak times are super early morning (5am-9am EST, and even earlier for other time zones, or there is also the opportunity to work overnight hours on Friday and Saturday.)
*A Bachelor's degree in any subject. 
*A native North American/Canadian accent. 
*Experience working with children. (This doesn't necessarily have to be teaching experience...babysitting or camp counseling or anything like that is great as well!)
*A headset with a microphone, a webcam, and a well-lit, appropriately decorated teaching space. Props, flash cards, etc. are also encouraged! (You don't absolutely have to have all of this for the interview...but if you are hired these are must haves!)
*Bonus: A TEFL or TESOL certification. (Not required, but helpful if you happen to have one!)

Still feeling like this could be for you? Great! The first thing you'll need to do is fill out an application. If you use my referral link to apply, I will be more than happy to answer any questions you have and provide support to you during the hiring process. Well, I'll be more than happy to do that anyway...but I would really appreciate if you would use the referral link. :)

If your application is accepted, you will have the opportunity to choose an interview date and time. During the interview, you will have a basic question and answer session with a VIPKID representative in Beijing, and you will also teach a demo lesson to that same representative, who will pretend to be a young child. (Sounds strange, I know. But...it works!)

If you pass your interview and demo lesson, you'll have to review the VIPKID protocols and course content, then pass a short quiz. After that quiz has been passed, you'll go on to teach a mock lesson with a mentor teacher. Within a day or two after the mock lesson, you'll get an email letting you know if you have been offered the job or not. The final step will be uploading all necessary documents (degree, certification, ID, etc) and then creating your teaching profile and opening your availability.

Trust me, I know it sounds like a lot. That's because it is, but it's totally doable and completely worth it if you really want the job. I'm planning to do some more in-depth posts on the interview and mock lesson portions, but for now, please let me know if you need further clarification on anything!

I'm also excited to share my new home office and classroom space with you very soon! I've had a lot of fun preparing for this. I can't wait to see where this new endeavor takes me!

Happy Wednesday, and Happy Teaching!


Weekend Recap {6/16-6/18}

I haven't done a weekend recap in a while. I would say I'm not sure why, but honestly it's just because the past couple of weekends have been pretty low-key. This one broke that streak though, so let's get going!

When I got home from work, Slade had a really yummy dinner of Asian style short ribs and cauliflower fried "rice" ready. (He really is the best.) After we ate, we went out to run a couple of errands. I wanted to go to Target to pick up a few odds and ends in the dollar section for my new teaching job. (More on that later!) Slade also bought me a new desk so I can start creating my in-home work space/classroom. Once errands were complete, we spent the rest of the evening at home, and went to bed embarrassingly early.

Saturday started with an early morning visit to the gym, followed by a vet appointment for Bell. A quick Starbucks run later, we were back at home to spend a couple of hours catching up on some stuff. If you follow my Instagram stories, you also already know that I started prepping our spare bedroom for my office space.

Then, it was time for the fun part of the day! Slade and I hadn't had a date night in a while, so we headed out to see a movie and have a cheat meal. We watched Wonder Woman in 3D, and it was so empowering. It made me want to leave the theater and kick some evil butt. For dinner, we decided to try V Pizza. We shared an order of the wood oven roasted chicken wings, I ordered a calzone, and Slade got the quatro formaggi pizza with pancetta added. Let's just say we weren't disappointed. Dessert came in the form of custard from Culver's, and then we went home and went to bed embarrassingly early again.

Slade had to get up super early on Sunday and head out for a work trip. (Insert sad face here.) I wasn't able to go back to sleep after he left, so Bell and I got up for the day and I cleaned while she tortured our cat Rizzo. My parents arrived later in the morning, and we met up with my grandparents, aunt, and cousin to have lunch and see a movie for Father's Day. We watched Megan Leavey, and it was really good, but I don't recommend watching it unless you're okay with crying.

After the movie, we ran into Target for a bit and then came back to my place where my dad put my new desk together for me. I told him he didn't have to because it was Father's Day, but he still did it and I couldn't be more grateful! They left later in the afternoon, and I made some dinner and got started on blog posts for the week while Bell harassed Rizzo some more. She did, however, take a few moments to nap on her new sloth toy from Bark Box.

And here we are...Monday, Monday, Monday! How was your weekend?
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