Follow Along

I’m excited to announce that our Claire’s Neighborhood Instagram account is officially live! Be sure to follow along @clairesneighborhood and tag any friends who may be interested in either working as a caregiver or using our services 🙂

IG1
Now the work to gain followers begins–14 down, many more to go!

And if you’re not already, be sure to follow @meredithandcompany as well to keep up-to-date on all things care-related.

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Some of my personal faves to follow are:

@historyphotographed, @thebucketlistfamily, @petesouza (the official photographer of the white house), @whole30recipes (beautiful to look at and try!), @laceroots (a friend’s gorgeous floral company), @lipstickstainsandblackcoffee (another friend’s fabulous travel/career tip blog account), @jojolomelino (close friend of mine’s daughter went viral with her sassy videos last year–always a riot), @groundedapproach (my best friend’s holistic nutrition account), and @humansofny (because, obviously).

Are you on Instagram? If so, do you have any must-follows? Do share!

Olympic Fever

Have you been watching the Olympics? I love how the whole world stops to watch—more than 11,000 athletes from 207 nations this year! I’ve been out and about but loving receiving text updates and watching highlights. I’m most obsessed with Simone Biles, but shout outs are also deserved by Simone Manuel, MP, Usain Bolt and Katie Ledecky.

Simone Biles

How are you celebrating the Olympics? It’s not too late to jump on board and make a party of it!

This blog showcases some creative backyard olympic game ideas.

Another momma shares her celebration here (I’ve decided ribbon twirling should be incorporated into many more festivities year round). I liked this one too.

Olympic-themed craft ideas here.

Books to read with your kids about the Olympics and olympians.

Also a great opportunity to teach kiddos (and adults) international flags.

Olympics chalk

This chalk photo shoot is still my favorite (credit: Huffington Post from the 2012 Olympics).

You can view the full schedule in Rio here and remember the closing ceremony is this Sunday!

PS. My Pinterest research concluded that gold medals are best made (and enjoyed) out of golden Oreos and Fruit by the Foot if you’re in need of a little treat while watching this week.

Summer Days

I cannot believe it’s already August and talk of school supplies is in the air. I’m not ready for chilly weather and pumpkin spice everything just yet!

Sweet brothers relaxing after a long morning swim

Until school’s in session for the kiddos I work with, I plan to soak up as much time in the sun as possible and convince them that everything is simply more fun outside.

Bike, swim, snack, slides, swings, repeat. There’s hardly time for an outfit change in between the pool and the park!

What are your favorite summer activities in Santa Barbara?

Click here for Parks & Rec’s Summer Activity Guide.

Macaroni Kids’ August calendar here has some great recs. As does Parent Click, here.

It’s not too late to catch the last couple $2 kids movies at Paseo Nuevo Metropolitan Theatres as well (every Tuesday and Wednesday this summer).

The local libraries also have a packed schedule.

And so. many. camp options.

Oh to live in an endless summer. I hope you’re enjoying yours 🙂

Daring Greatly

In the midst of moving, bridesmaid-ing, traveling and quitting my job I took a little blog hiatus. While settling into my new home and self-employed life, I also decided to take a break from social media and TV (I had just finished Friday Night Lights, so clearly the timing was perfect #Texasforever).

Desk Pic

After assembling my new desk, I spent hours sitting planning (this is revolutionary), reading and writing. The past three weeks I’ve set aside daily time to sit, reflect and pen my dreams—there’s something powerful about visualizing and writing them down. I also charged through Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly and was SO IMPACTED by it.

Until relatively recent years, vulnerability was a cringe inducing word for me. In 5th grade I moved to the States and braved public school having previously lived in three different countries in Europe with no knowledge of things like dollars, inches and the Backstreet Boys. I quickly developed a lot of fear around being different, judged and not good enough. It wasn’t until college that I really learned how to be myself and celebrate the things that make me unique. As a teenager I adapted the classic “vulnerability is weakness” mentality to self-protect, and frankly it was quite difficult to break.

I’m sure many of you have seen Brené’s TED talk on vulnerability. I’ve raved about it for years as it really catalyzed an awareness of how important it was for me to embrace and strive for healthy vulnerability in my life. Daring Greatly took it to a new level; it’s a very practical and research-based book. I wish I could copy+paste 20 quotes in this post, but here are a few of my fave points:

  • “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage” (pg 37).
  • Normalizing discomfort is key—that is: real learning, critical thinking and change actually require discomfort. “The big challenge for leaders is getting our heads and hearts around the fact that we need to cultivate the courage to be uncomfortable and to teach the people around us how to accept discomfort as a part of growth” (pg 199).
  • By definition, entrepreneurship is vulnerable. It’s all about the ability to handle and manage uncertainty.
  • “Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting” (pg. 214). Full disclosure: her chapter on wholehearted parenting actually brought me to tears at points due to both heartwarming stories of parents connecting with their kids and stories of mishandled vulnerable moments.
  • Shaming is never okay. “You made a bad choice” rather than “you are bad” makes all the difference. Shame can easily lead to the fear of being unlovable and create an unshakeable (potentially lifelong) doubt of worthiness of love and acceptance.
  • Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage.

Nina Simone Quote

I recently saw and fell in love with this Nina Simone inspired print and had to add it to my gallery wall. My greatest goal in this season of life is to look fear in the face and courageously overcome it in an effort to (dare I say) dare greatly. 🙂

Have you read any of Brene’s other books—what did you think? Are there any other books you’d recommend? Maybe I need to find myself a book club!

Part-time Childcare Work May Be Exactly What You’re Looking For

I love companies like Uber, Airbnb and Etsy. I love that businesses can be run from a cell phone and people can make ends meet (or build a savings!) with a “side hustle.” I’m constantly inspired by stories of people waking up at 5am to write before going into the office or deliver pizza at night to help them fund their dream venture.

I just bought this custom art and am absolutely THRILLED (click on the picture to see her etsy shop)

We live in such an exciting time of professional possibilities and the longer I’ve been out of college, the more convinced I am that as a society we need to toss the expectation that a 9-5 is the best career for everyone, or that you’re supposed to land your dream job right out of school–or even know what that would be.

I hear countless stories from frustrated friends of all ages and industries wanting to make extra money while they work, transition out of a job, go (back) to school or fund a much needed vacay. Maybe a desk job just isn’t the right fit for you, you need a more flexible schedule, orrrrr…you just need more of that kid magic in your life.

Admittedly my own new flexible work schedule allows me to be working poolside. No complaints here.

May I propose working as a part-time and/or on-call caregiver for Meredith & Co.?

As a neighborhood care company, we strive to bring balance and ease to families’ every day lives by connecting families with lovely, pre-screened caregivers. We simplify your search for families to work for by connecting you to our network of awesome families and work opportunities. We search high and low for people with solid childcare experience, the kid-magnet sparkle and the professional sensibility of a nanny to fill the gaps in both the families’ and caregivers’ needs.

If you’d like to enrich your life professionally, personally and financially by working with kids in the Santa Barbara area, I’d love to chat with you more! If you’re already sold on the opportunity, click here to apply.

PS. I know I’m repping the 100+ Neutrogena sunscreen in this post, but I was just introduced to Sun Bum–have you heard of it? I’m so eager to give it a try!

Shop Local

One of my favorite things about Santa Barbara is the value locals place on small business. I love walking State Street and stopping for a salad at Savoy, tacos at Lilly’s, or a treat at Chocolats du Calibressan.

My favorite goodies from an event at Chocolat–those red Buddhas are caramel-filled and to die for!

Research shows locally owned businesses create more prosperous and connected communities (among other benefits). I love this infographic from the Huffington Post–undoubtedly small businesses are a vital contributor to our economy.

There are countless business owners I look up to in town, from Karim at Axxess to Lisa at Carlyle. I am hard at work setting everything up to become one myself and am so eager to join the club. What could be more fulfilling than meeting the needs of our community through business?

Prior to this new venture, I spent three years on staff at Women’s Economic Ventures (Santa Barbara’s nonprofit Women’s Business Center) where I worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs at many stages of business, all of whom I deeply respect for their tenacity and contributions to our city.

My last month there, we won the Southern California Women’s Business Center of Excellence award from the Small Business Administration. You can see I was ecstatic at the awards luncheon (above), but only because I truly believe in the profound importance of small business and feel privileged to be a part of our entrepreneurial community.

Consider this: If just half the U.S. employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. What an impact!

I’m curious…do you celebrate small business and shop local? What are some of your favorite spots? And to all the rockstar business owners out there–thank you for all you do.

Meredith & Co. Santa Barbara launches this fall! Interested in our waitlist? Click here.

Meredith Who?

If you’re reading this you probably already know Meredith is the founder of Meredith & Company (an LA-based neighborhood care company), that she’s also my sister, and I’m starting a branch of her company in Santa Barbara this summer.

Last month we celebrated Meredith’s birthday with the cutest, most Pinterest, pop-up picnic brunch ever and it was such a sweet time to gather and reflect on this impactful woman. What better way to start my blog than to share bits of it with you?

Meredith is kind, smart and driven. She cares deeply about everyone around her and it’s obvious her company grew from a genuine desire to meet the childcare needs of her community.

Meredith’s birthday crew (1/2 of whom work with her now!)

What I admire most about Meredith is that she’s fearless. She doesn’t shy away from challenges, confrontations or vulnerability–in fact, she dives deep into those situations and excels. She inspires me daily to be more unapologetically myself and celebrate every aspect of life.

She relentlessly invests in people, and this is reflected in every policy and decision she makes in business. I’ve loved watching her flourish as a business owner and am so excited to join the team. Because of who Meredith is, Meredith & Company is making a real impact on local families. How lucky am I that she’s in mine?

Me (right) and Meredith (left) adventuring together in Austria as kids (posts on growing up abroad to come)

The full birthday celebration included a post-brunch Sparks game (if you’ve never been to a WNBA game they’re the best and the Sparks are 11-0 right now) and family BBQ, as well as a pre-brunch trip to see Beyoncé at the Rose Bowl. I can’t help but conclude with this gem I found on my phone from the evening: “If you know exactly who you are, say ‘I Slay!'” I hope you can hear Meredith’s eager response in the clip below.

Meredith, thank you for knowing exactly who you are and using all your brilliance to improve the lives of those around you. You are an incredible friend, sister and mentor. Happy birthday and cheers to the next year of adventures! To read more about Meredith’s Neighborhood, click here.