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I shared a bit on Instagram last week. It was a Wednesday, I had been in a horrible mood all day, I yelled too much, I had no patience, I never said yes, then I felt bad for being in a bad mood which put me in a worse mood. Aaron and I decided that a hike date just the two of us while we spared the kids any more time with their ogre mama would be best. We headed to Baldwin Hills stairs and hiked around after climbing to the top of the monster stairs. It didn't really help, to be honest. I so appreciated everyone's sweet comments on Instagram about how sharing real life and honesty in a snapshot of time is always refreshing, since we all have our moments. And trust me I have mine. 

Summer is winding down and I always end up with a pit in my stomach right before school starts. It's a mix of dread, anxiety and excitement. Once school actually begins I'm usually feeling great, but the time leading up to it is torturous for me. Just so much unknown, scheduling to be done, organizing for the new year, personalities to get to know. This year will be a big challenge for me. Three kids in three schools with starting times within a block of 15 minutes. Pray for me, and don't try and communicate with me until after 8:30am in the mornings. I am not looking forward to the rush of our mornings and the hurrying out the door. I think waking up early will be my saving grace and that's what I plan to do to make our mornings as smooth as possible. 

A little fitness update since it's been awhile. We are about 17 weeks in since we started our new program and can you believe we still are working out 5-6 days each week? Insane. But we really enjoy how we feel, have never been stronger, and are healthier than ever. We still do circuit training 3 times a week for a half hour. Sometimes even late at night if we have no other choice. They're high intensity interval training. And then about 2-3 times a week we are either power walking or taking a gym class. I wanted to update on a few supplies we recently purchased, we finally decided to invest in some fitness accessories since we mostly work out at home. 

This medicine ball is fabulous. I had been using one barbell of 4 lbs before, and it was time to up the weight and get a real one. I use the yellow one, 6-7 lbs. 

Aaron got new dumbbells which have been great. 

Still love my Fitbit Blaze, although now I am so used to wearing it, I feel naked without it. I use it to track not just my steps, or the distance of our power walks, but mainly for my heart rate. I try to keep my heart rate in a certain zone for a period of time and this takes all the guesswork out of it. 

Don't forget to enter this giveaway, and family you can enter it too! I have nothing to do with picking the winner, so you have just a good of chance as anyone haha. And while you're at it, enter this one too! So much to give away this summer to readers, I love it. 

We have high school orientation in the am, so signing off before I go back and look at more video footage of Gunnar as a toddler because I'm a glutton for punishment. High school! How did we get here...

 

Hiking & 365 Adventures with U.S. Bank

 

Image: Deborah Harju

 

 

Summertime is memory-making time for our family. We often take where we live for granted and the close proximity to beautiful nature trails is ignored for busy schedules and errands. Summer provides time that we so desperately miss during the school year–time to explore. We made a goal recently to go on one hike each week that includes a visit to a new spot we've never explored, and the benefits have been immense. We have seen parts of Los Angeles that we never even knew existed.

This particular week, we went to Eaton Falls, and in every turn we made, we were surprised by how beautiful, and dare I say wet, the landscape was! We are living in a horrendous drought in Southern California, and the thought that there are real waterfalls and creeks just a short drive and hike from our home was pretty exciting for us. This trip met every one of my criteria above. It IS possible! 

 

Image: Deborah Harju

 

 

As much as we love adventures close to home, all year long we crave adventures far from home even more I don't want to wait for summertime to make our memories. I want it to be possible each and every day, 365 days! I mean, why settle for an adventure like this just one season a year? Look at this water! 

 

 

Image: Deborah Harju

 

 

We are pretty good about budgeting for travel and saving toward a goal. But having some perks like points or rewards that we can cash in from a credit card makes it even sweeter. Previously, my family had been using the same credit card for years simply because the thought of comparing all the available options was overwhelming. But after saving our rewards for years, we were disappointed when we realized our family of five could only purchase one and a half airline tickets with our points–whomp, whomp.

Low and behold, just as I was about to start the research process, U.S. Bank contacted us about their new credit card, U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card. I was all ears. However, I wanted to make sure it met a few of my must haves:

  • Cash back: after years of dealing with points, we really wanted to see a cash flow return to us.
  • No annual fee: I decided I wasn't going to consider a new credit card if it had an annual fee.
  • No expiration for rewards: Expirations stress me out and I feel rushed and uneasy about using them just for the sake of using them up before a deadline.
  • American Express benefit: I wanted to have all of the above PLUS the Amex benefits that allow us access to great specials, venues, etc.
  • Signing bonus: I wanted some kind of qualifying incentive to push me to make the leap.

I figured my must haves were a tall order, and I might never find the credit card that meets everything I desire, but I was wrong. U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card is launching and it met each and every one of my criteria above. It can be done. Check, check, check, check and check! I'm pretty excited to share with you the bonus that they're offering right now: Right now, with the U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card, you could earn a $100 customer relationship bonus! The card is offering $100 for customers who spend $500 in the first three months and have a relationship with U.S. Bank. If you do not already have a relationship, you can open one and still receive the bonus if done within 30 days. Very cool! If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Bank Cash 365™ American Express® Card, or to apply, click here!

AND the sweepstakes prize for My Life at Playtime readers–a $100 gift card! Here are the details, friends:           

What travel necessity would you first spend your cash back on? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 8/1/2016– 8/31/2016

Be sure to visit the U.S. Bank brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check In

If you could believe me that the photo above came straight out of my camera without edits, you should. Because it's true. As I have been archiving away day in and day out, I have been slowly sifting through our summer vacation photos. And this is pretty much how the sunset looked every single night in Mexico.

I just completed archiving all our photos, videos have been taking a lot longer. The gems I have come across, I am seriously holding myself back from flooding the blog with old photos and video clips. But I will refrain since I think you're less interested than me and my mom in the kids' old baby photos. Looking back on footage has been more emotional for us than we expected. 

Recently there has been so much sickness and death all around our family and within our family. I feel strange not sharing a bit of it here. It's been a heavy week, no, more like a heavy month. It feels like we are constantly reminding each other that this is all temporary. Although that is true, we still grieve and mourn and wish for better days right now. The mundane things that are so routine include a dark cloud with them at the moment. But sunshine will come. Isn't that the saying, 'there's always sunshine after a storm'? Yes, that must be it. 

Hoping you all have a good weekend. I know today is only Thursday, but I think we all need to start the weekend a little early, mentally if by nothing else.