May 31, 2009

Jess & Rob sittin in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
No this pic is not of Jess and Rob (its of Jess and Cat) but this weekend Jess and Rob got engaged! Woohoo! I've been asking Jess for probably a year what the hell is the hold up. No more hold up. Way to go Rob. I'll give the nutshell version - he proposed at her place after seeing Dave Matthews Band at Fenway. Perfect. And he called her dad the day before to ask for the blessing. Even more perfect.

I really don't have much else to say besides "Woohoo!" I love Jess and I love Rob and I am so happy for them. They are going to be a super cute married couple.

May 28, 2009

Circle Searching

A few weeks ago Ross came home and told me about GAGLE - Gab and Give, Let's Eat! It's a women's giving circle based around dinner parties and check writing. I'm not sure what talk radio show he was listening to that he heard about this. Believe it or not, women's charity is not nearly as popular a topic on his radio as baseball or football. Go figure.

We got to chatting about giving circles and he says to me "I wouldn't mind being part of one...I'd write the check and you could go do the social part. I'll come to like the end of year party." Now not to say my honey isn't charitable but I've never heard him suggest we write checks to people. I'm the bleeding heart. He's more of a "you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps but if your home burns down, I'll pull you out" kinda guy.

As a side note, as I read The Daily Beast today, I realized this is pretty normal. We've talked about it at the office before but men and women have different motivations to give. Women want relationships and communtiy health. Men want to be the best. So is it surprising that I am the bleeding heart and Ross is more action baseed? Probably not.

Anyways, so Ross said that once the Team Black cause is met (ie we buy a house and fill it with a little bit of new furniture) a giving circle could be part of world. Well this thrilled me. I love the idea. I love the charity, community and common demoninator implied in it. It's really all the things I would look for in a church but without the personal conflict (for me) about faith. SWEET.

I looked online today for Austin giving circles. There's Impact Austin but its all gals. I found a statewide circle but its all for the arts. I have nothing against the arts but I'm personally more into education and health.

So how does a young couple who wants to be simultaneously charitable and social do this? Do I need to start a giving circle? I could do that but the last thing I tried to start, a book club, quickly turned into a very flexible wine club. Is Austin's cuture right for a giving circle? I'm inclined to say yes but maybe not. Maybe we should join the United Way's Young Leader's Society but then its UWCA deciding where the money goes. I mostly think UWCA does a pretty good job but I would like to be involved in the process. That's part of the appeal of a giving circle.

We're not quite ready to be notably charitable. Not to sound greedy or selfish, but for the moment, time is the only thing we can give in hefty contributions. Between YNPN and the Sam Bass volunteer fire department, we're doing about all we can do. We've got a few years for Austin to develop an appealing giving circle or network. Maybe the I live here, I give here campaign can get something going. Or a new branch of the United Way or the Austin Community Foundation. Whoever does it, I hope it happens and we can jump on board.

Otherwise I may have to do it myself.

May 25, 2009

Personal Social Media Plan

I realize that just because GSCTX is about to have a social media plan - woohoo! - I as an individual do not also need one. But I would also like if in at least one of the...counting...1, 2...5,6, if in at least one of the six social media tools I use, I could do something more useful for the world than get on soapboxes about the top 10% law or share my excitement for my honeymoon. Something more productive and helpful than telling you how cute my wedding shoes are.

Don't expect this blog to be that thing though. No, I think I am going to focus my Twitterings on sharing useful, inspiring information with others. I'm sure not every tweet will make the world a better place but if more do than not, that's a good thing.

And in a digression, I was chatting with Mom weeks, maybe months ago, about what is it that I am most passionate about. Brittany for example knows its heart health. As I thought about tweeting to make the world a better place I was reminded of my personal mission statement which entirely revolved around the health of my family and community. Maybe whereas Brittany might one day tweet or blog all about heart health, maybe I should just be tweeting about a billion ways to make my family and my community healthier and happier. Whether the tweet is about ways to reduce breast cancer risk or creating awareness of online predators, maybe its just all about sharing what I learn and employ to make my life better with others so their lives can be better too.

I get that "making the world a better place" is a pretty broad and ambitious mission for any organization or person. However when I think about it, I think that might be mine. I don't mean to say "well I'm this wonderful and ambitious person who is going to cure everything from over-priced shoes to genocide through social media." I guess I mean that I can't pick just one narrow focused mission. I can't dedicate myself just to one thing. There's too much else that needs help!

Now maybe you are thinking "oh H-E-double hockey sticks, she's jumping ship on the Girl Scouts" but no, I'm certainly not. I may want to make every part of the world better but honestly, I can only have one job at a time. And Girl Scouts is good because its all about helping millions of girls go out and do good things. Millions of girls, plus all their parents, plus all the grown-up Girl Scouts is a pretty hefty chunk of people. If you are trying to help other people live better lives and help their communities grow, starting with the Girl Scouts ain't half bad. And, as a bonus, its a "teach a man how to fish" type of organization which is what I love. I understand that some basic needs just need to be handed out sometimes but for me, teaching someone how to balance their checkbook, use Microsoft Word, read a book, speak in an interview, say no to drugs, set a goal, cook a healthy meal, all these things and more prevent that person from needing charity and hand-outs later in life. That's what Girl Scouts and many other organizations do and holy cow, it feels good.

Anyway, I guess this all stemmed from thinking "I can't twitter about just Girl Scouts. Too many other things need to be out there too!" and from loving the passion and holistic approach of organizations like We Are One Central Texas, the United Way and YNPN. Organizations that say "lots of things need to happen and we're here to make them happen." I hope I can help make all those things happen a little bit faster by doing some do-gooder tweeting.

May 21, 2009

Woman v. Red

This week I've had dinner with my in-laws, chaired an event and worked a benefit night. But what story am I going to share with you via blog? My battle with the big red stain. Because let's face it, beating a big red stain, sometimes, that's just life.

I came home from work today to this. Actually it was worse than this because this is on round two of carpet foam cleaners. What happened, I can only assume, is that this red drink was left on the coffee table and Lexi knocked it over. And holy cow did it leave a BIG RED STAIN on my white (beige, whatever) carpet.

Folks, I carpet cleaned, I bleached (watered down but nonetheless) and then I googled. It took two hours of various trials but toward the end I found: the red stain remover from God. It must be from Him because that is how well it worked.

Next time you have to fight a big dirty red nasty stain, here's what you do. Mix 2 cups of hot water with 2 teaspoons of dish soap. Pour it on the stain to saturate it. Then get a white towel and put it in hot water. Wring out the excess water, fold it and put it on your big red stain. Next get your iron and put it on a steam setting. Place the iron on top of your towel (and therefore big red stain) and let it sit for 2 minutes. Check it occasionally. The heat and hot soapy water should case the red to be soaked up into your white towel. Keep rinsing the towel and repeating til you are pleased with the results. Then use some clean water on it (soaking up any left over sugar so it doesn't attract dirt and turn the spot into a big gray stain). They WHALAH (sp?)! You will have beat the stain as I did.

That spot is now actually closer to white than the rest of my carpet. Hopefully when the whole thing gets cleaned next month it will even out.

OK that's the end of being lame and discussing carpet stains. But the point is - I WON!

May 18, 2009

The Bachelorette Blog

I started with a couple comments on Twitter but it just wasn't sufficient. Besides, what if reporters start following me on Twitter and realize how mildly in love with reality romance I am? That can't be good for my career.

That said, here's the play by play of the Bachelorette... (btw Mom if we just lived in the same town I would have someone to share my guilty love with and I wouldn't have to subject all these smart, nice people to such trash, but alas you don't and I need a commentary outlet.)

Starter Scenes
Jill lose weight? She looks hot. Good for her. Still though one bikini scene would have been enough. You don't need to sell America on this girl. We already love her!

The Guys
  • First handful of guys - seems to be LA/NYC or bust. need some variety
  • Texans - how stereotypical! An oil man from Houston (really Tiki Island which is closer to home than Houston probably) and a musician from Austin. But so far they are my favorite, from my two hometowns
  • Billbro - what the hell man? dude anyone who renames himself Billbro...
  • Another Texan - and I liked him before I knew he was Texan! Hottie pilot!...Oh wow, yeah if I was not marrying Ross, this guy would be who I'd call. HELLO JAKE!
The Clothes
  • Do you think if I promised not to fall in love, Ross would let me go on the Bachelorette just to collect the sweet clothes?And how many people does it take to make someone look that nice on TV? Could I get them for my 5 a.m. TV interviews during cookie season?
  • Jake will be remembered for his tie if nothing else. Way to go out on a limb.
  • Another Texan! And a bartender. As Ross knows, I love a bartender but especially if they are also firefighters.Oh and this is the clothes subtitle...yeah, he wore some.
  • That is a hot cowboy hat. I wish he were a Texan. I should ask Ross to wear his cowboy hat more.
  • I LOVE that they gave the Brit captions ("to wear," keeping with our clothes theme). As if he doesn't speak English. GREAT.
The Bachelorette Blog is now giving way to dessert... but holy cow I am excited for this season of the Bachelorette! My DVR is set and ready to go!

May 16, 2009

Where's the Ross?

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Oh, he's in Dallas. Ross, Rick and Ryan (no actually we don't have friends whose names start with a letter other than R, funny you should ask) are all in Dallas for a buddy's birthday. Will there be mayhem? Yes. Will they party like college kids? Yes. Will Ross have bruises from paintball? Yes. Are Sus and I upset about being abandoned with the dogs? No. In fact, I might go out on a limb and say we're pleased about it.

As you know I like Ross, quite a bit even. And I like Rick and Ryan. I even like the birthday boy, Aaron, and most their other Dallas friends. But there is little if any reason that the wives need to be around for those shenanigans. We can't keep up no matter how hard we try.

So til tomorrow night, its just us girls. Me and Lex during the day and Kandi, Sus and I tonight for Kandi's birthday. I'm in to co-ed groups but sometimes a weekend with the girls is A-OK.

May 14, 2009

My Mission

When I went to DC I met Rosetta Thurman, a rockstar nonprofiteer who not only rocks at her own job but is sought out as a resource for young nonprofiteers nationwide. ROCKSTAR. Since then I've been following her on Twitter which has led me to a variety of her online genius-sharing forums. Today she tweeted a blog list she created about advancing your nonprofit career in 44 different ways. Number 13 rocked - Create a personal mission statement.

So guess what this blog will do...begin the personal mission statement!

First here's a tid bit from Rosetta about writing a personal mission statement

I have been developing my personal mission statement for almost a year now. It’s been a truly rewarding process to write and revisit my goals and values for my life and compare them to how I actually balance my priorities. There’s something really powerful and empowering about being able to say YES or NO to opportunities that come into your life based on how you want to live out your personal values. Dumb Little Man has a great definition of what a personal mission statement is:
Your personal mission statement should be a concise representation of what’s most important to you, what you desire to focus on, what you want to achieve, and, ultimately, who you want to become. In its purest form, it’s an approach to your life, one that allows you to identify a focus of energy, creativity, and vision in living a life in support of your inner-most beliefs and values. Also remember that your mission will change over time as you and your life change.

You can get the full scoop on her blog. I'm going to follow her steps for drafting and you lucky reader will be privvy to it all.

First, Rosetta says to make a list of your values, those things that mean a lot to you
  • Ross
  • My family
  • Lexi
  • The health and happiness of the aforementioned people (yes Lexi is a people)
  • Making the world a better place
  • Teaching my kids to make the world a better place
  • Empowering people to help themselves
  • Harnessing my strengths - writing, talking and connecting - to achieve great things
  • Inspiring others to use their strengths to make the world a better place
  • Being an integral part of my community
  • Tactful honesty
  • Meeting personal challenges and coming out on top
  • Taking care of myself and the people around me
Second, what are your goals? How do you want to be remembered?
  • Good wife and mother
  • Inspiring
  • Kind-hearted
  • Ambitious and successful - I'll be honest, I want to be a nonprofit CEO or ED
  • Debt-free
  • Giving
  • Mover-n-shaker for the greater good
Third, write the mission statement. Whew, OK here we go.. draft 1

I am committed to my family and my community. I value the health and happiness of both and strive to use my communication and relationship-building skills to empower them to reach their goals, build a happy future and identify and give back to their passion.
I don't think that sounds half-bad. It's the last clause that is most mission statement-y to me. It's very results oriented but I think the first parts are still needed. It's my mission statement afterall. I can decide what's needed.

May 12, 2009

Working Girl, Wife, Mom and/or Me

Yesterday Haila and I had a conversation about how much time each element of your life is allocated and how that changes. Even now, when I'm not quite a wife and the closest thing I have to a child is an adorable puppy, I'm already feeling the tug-o-war of time. Would a 25 hour day change it? Probably not. It would just be another hour to split.

I don't mean to be a negative Nellie. That's not the goal here at all. In fact its just a reflection on the many directions and commitments in life once you reach "a certain age."

And a more interesting thing is when I started this post it was titled "Working Girl, Wife and/or Mom" but after about two sentences I realized I wasn't in any of those things. Yes, those are all things I am or aspire to be but they are all focused on serving or caring for someone else. Where was the me time even just in the blog title? So as an after thought I added myself to the list. Is that foreshadowing for life you think?

Anyways, Haila was saying that in the pre-Kass world, she was satisfied being the job, the working girl. But post-Kass, no way Jose. She's a mom first. On that same note, I'm comfortable, even happy, to put my career very close to the top for the time being. Climb that ladder and get someplace comfy that I can hang out at for the baby making years. But is the job really that important? Should the job ever come before the honey and the puppy, or in the case of later in life, the babies?

Joel's asked me before "If you had 1 week to live, what would you do? Would you come to work?" and of course the answer is NO. At most I might call the office and let them know it was time to look for additional help because I was checking out. That's assuming I thought about it. Honestly, I would probably pack up Ross and Lexi (knock Ross out with some powerful pain killers so that I could drag him onto a plane) and fly to paradise.

And when I do die, hopefully much longer than a week from now, will anyone say "Wow, she was a rockstar at social media and press releases" ? Christ, I hope not. Unless I invent something as world-altering as the Internet, what will hopefully be said about me will relate to the way I was a friend, wife, mother, daughter and granddaughter. If the blog or press releases get mentioned, all the better but God help me if they are the focus. That said, the most energy in my life should go to family and friends.

I know you say "duh" here; I say "duh" here. But I would be lying if I said it was always that easy. Nothing against the 1950s housewife, but that's not my goal. I want to have it all: my own identity, a hubby, kiddos, puppies and a career. So how to divvy it up?

Long story short, I sorta forgot the point I was going to drive home, and rest assured, many ramblings ago I was going to drive it home hardcore. However I guess you could say its that because I am a woman, because I am Type A, because I am anal retentive (thanks Melissa for defining that for me), I'm already, before becoming a wife or mother, feeling the inevitable tug-o-war on my time. And every time I feel it, even the slightest, it makes me admire my own mother that much more. When I was in high school, she balanced being herself, a wife, a mother, a career woman and a student. And ya know what, as her child I never felt neglected. In fact even if I didn't realize it then, her ambition and drive was building my expectations for myself. If she can do it all, I can too. I know her education took a temporary backseat so she could have babies, but she still earned her master's degree before I graduated high school. I'm sure her career also slowed at points because of a need to do things for us kiddos. I think ultimately she's OK with it; at least I've never heard her complain.

So maybe the take away point is way to go Mom. Way to rock at life, when I was a kiddo and now that I am a grown-up-ish person.

If you made it this far, you just read a serious stream of conciousness. You deserve a cookie.

May 10, 2009

The Rules of Engagement

When we first got engaged, I heard two bits of advice:
  1. Elope.
  2. If you insist on having a "traditional" wedding, hire a wedding planner.
I did neither and now think both are swell ideas.

Understand, I'm very excited to get married. I love Ross with my whole heart and can't wait to officially be his wife. We make a great team. We have a wonderful life together and I know the best is yet to come.

But holy cow, weddings are stressful. Whether its because you can't decide on napkins or because you really want to please everyone (because you do love them all), its stressful. That said, after being engaged for more than a year, I have a few rules of engagement for all brides. I'm even going to try to follow them myself.
  1. Become a team: Start practicing for life as a team now. There's no time like the present and it sure is nice to have someone on your side with any decision.
  2. Set your priorities: Figure out what you want to invest time and money in and stick to it the best you can. When we first got engaged, I said 3 priorities: getting married, having fun and one more I can't remember any more. That shows you how important the last one was. Well I still want to have fun by all means but now I'm really only asking "Will this make us any more or less married?" Getting the minister to contact us seems to be the only to-do that really qualifies as important given this priority. But, for the record, this is the rule of engagement I'm worst at. I'm still debating flower arrangements even though they don't impact our wedded bliss.
  3. Remember why you are getting married: I don't know that we consciously do this but even after price-comparing honeymoons and tackling the finances of it all, I know I still want to marry Ross more than anything. The wedding stuff may stress us (me) out but we still want to marry each other. I think that's pretty important.
There you have it. In all my infinite wisdom, those are my rules of engagement. I'm going to try to focus on number 2 a little more and let the details just work themselves out. In the end, so long as I become Mrs. Cheryl Black, not a whole lot else matters.

May 7, 2009

Bermuda BAHAMA come on pretty mama

We are officially going to the Bahamas for our honeymoon! Woohoo!

We had a mild freak out yesterday because I checked the price for Sandals again and it had gone up $400. Now if you knew how much it cost in the first place you would say "really guys? After THAT price you are going to sweat $400?" But the answer is yes; we're cheap. (If AJ were to read this that is where she would roll her eyes and yell "YES!")

But being cheap is good for us right now as we try to save for our first wonderful home. So we did some shopping around and found the original price on (as opposed to which we had been using). If we used Expedia though we couldn't use our $200 Orbitz coupon. Bummer. And then the real shopping started.

A million mixed reviews for a dozen hotels later we decided that EVERY hotel, even our coveted Sandals, got bad reviews. If they are all getting mixed reviews we didn't need to drop the big bucks and risk anything less than perfection.

After all that we settled on an all-inclusive hotel that only ranked .2 stars below Sandals but was $1200 less: Breezes Bahamas $1200 is worth a .2 star sacrifice don't you think? And we were able to book it through Orbitz so the coupon applied. AND we have travel rewards on our Capital1 card.

See pictures of our lovely honeymoon resort, courtesy of the resort itself:

Now I know this blog may seem 1) a little tacky for dealing with money and 2) like an ad for Breezes Bahamas/Orbitz/Capital1, but you read this thing for a sneak peak at the life of Cheryl and Ross and this week, that's the life of Cheryl and Ross.

Long story short: Breezes Bahamas, here we come! For a full honeymooning week!

May 3, 2009

Flowers from one, graduation for the other

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
When I got home from DC last week, Ross had cleaned the house (I envision like in the movies when the husband realizes the wife will be home in a matter of hours and clothes are on the ceiling fan, dishes piled above his head and he and the dog are sharing a plate, suddenly a mad-dash done montage style starts), bought me these lovely flowers and was starting dinner. Now ladies, if that's not a good man then there is something out there that I've really missed. I was incredibly pleased with him.

Nearly a week later I think the flowers are actually blooming more. The house is almost as clean and he's fixed me a couple meals.

And Friday we went to Waco for little bro's college graduation. Woohoo little bro! He looked so educated and snazzy in that cap and gown. (The only instance in life where a man can wear a gown and where a gown can be worn with a cap.) Mom and Dad officially have got both their kiddos through college. I think that's a pretty good record. They are batting 1000 on college graduations. Anyway I am very proud of him and as soon as I can pull the photos off my camera I will share them.