#herestothegoodlife

Why is it that #thestruggleisreal? This is a legitimate  question for me. Tonight, I came home to find my kids’ bedroom was in the process of being taken over by ants. I live in the south. These are red ants. They bite. They leave welts. They freaking hurt. I spent the better part of an hour shaking ants off the kids’ clothes on the back porch, only to find that I shook the majority of them onto myself. Then, I vaccumed, sprayed, vacuumed, washed, re-washed their clothes and vaccumed some more. #thestruggleisreal.

Oh…and I am trying so hard to watch what I eat. Except that I haven’t been home a single weekend this month, so I haven’t been food prepping. After working two jobs, taking care of two kids, and generally just stressing, my eating habits have been out of control. One night this week, I had ice cream for dinner. ICE CREAM. FOR DINNER. Tonight, after ant emergency, we had pizza. Let’s be honest…I ate it. A lot of it. Now, I’m laying here looking at my food baby and wondering what I will eat tomorrow. #thestruggleisreallyreal

Yesterday at church, I was carrying my 11 month-old in my arms, plus the church bag (full of fun, awesome games that don’t make noise) while my almost 3 year-old walked (okay was threatened to stay) beside me. Anyway, some of the sweetest people attend church with me. Here I am, standing in the aisle with my kids and they are all giving me compliments on my mad mommy skills when it happens. Mrs. Smith was mid sentence about how she is so proud that I am able to get kids to church alone and…BAM. I feel a cool breeze. I continue to act like I am listening to every sweet thing she is saying while I wonder in complete ignorance if my 3 year-old has just lifted my dress far enough for everyone behind me to see…or if he just moved his hands in a forward motion which caused a breeze. I wonder these things all the while I am still listening to sweet Mrs. Smith. I am sure the anguish of not knowing was in my eyes because she quickly ended her sentence and scurried off. I found the closest empty pew and plopped down in it. I was too embarrassed to turn around and meet anyone’s eyes behind me. It seems to me that I remember similar situations happening around me when I was a tiny human. I think all the other adults just pretended it had not happened….so I decided to do the same. #thisstrugglecannotbeforreal 

Oh hashtags, how did we ever define our feelings before you existed? With help from hashtags, life makes sense again! I think I can officially answer my own question. Why is it that #thestruggleisreal ? The struggle is real so that every day we have the opportunity to be thankful for the things and people in our lives. The struggle taught me to be thankful for ant spray, carbs, my church family and my kids. Without struggles, life would be easy, but it sure would be boring. #herestothegoodlife

For your viewing pleasure, I have added a few examples of #thestruggleisreal 

     

    
   
    
   
 

   
     

  
 

Scroll On 

I have the worst habit. I follow all these amazing shops on IG. I follow kid shops. I follow home decor shops. I follow clothing boutiques. 

Every day…I window shop via Insta. I will scroll through several times a day. I will start following shops that other shops suggest. I have found some of the most interesting companies and blogs this way. I guess you could say this is my guilty pleasure. 

Are you ready for my bad habit? My bad habit is this: I will see one of these shops is having a “Flashsale” or they are offering a discount code. I will spend time shopping on the website and adding everything I want to the cart. I will apply the discount code….and wait for it…wait for it….do NOTHING. The page will stay open on my phone until the discount code fairy dies. It’s like a way for me to dream about owning things without actually taking the plunge and spending the money. The next thing I know, I wake up the next day and feel like I am hungover. I’m hungover with regret. Does this resonate with anyone else? 

  
That’s how I feel. All. The. Time. 

Please forgive me if all this nonsense bores you. Truth is…these are all just things. But dang it, they are pretty, fun, awesome THINGS! Hey, a girl can dream…can’t she? Anyway, here is a very short and condensed list of things I am currently swooning. 

 
This recycled canvas map of the U.S. by Painted Fox. To check it out click here

  
These super cute bangles by Brin & Bell that can be personalized. Check out this great gift idea here

 
And last but not least…the most adorable tank for the smallest men in your life by Wild + Bear. To snag it..click here

I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy my “bad habit” too much to stop. No bank accounts are damaged in my dreamy process. If I had endless funds, this probably wouldn’t be so addicting. For now, I will continue to scroll, add to my cart, and let my little heart flutter. 

Travel Porn 

I enjoy new perspectives. One of my coworkers is married with kids. On her breaks, she searches realty websites for what she calls “house porn.” These are like fantasy houses. They are the epitome of her dream home. She has shown me a few. Let me tell ya, they ain’t bad! 

I enjoy my own dream home fantasies, but I recently decided that I don’t do “house porn.” I do “travel porn.” In my spare moments, I find myself dreaming of adventures. I dream of open spaces or beaches with no itinerary. But, no matter what, it’s ALWAYS about adventure. Lately, I have been stuck on Montana. I dream about hubby and I taking the kids camping in Montana. I dream of waking up, unzipping our tent (my dream, not hubby’s) and enjoying a cool morning sunrise over the mountains. I dream about having a morning cup of coffee while sitting on a log and taking in the silence and beauty of nature.

  
Yes, to be more specific, this is the view I’m dreaming about. I want to be there. I want to take in a cool, crisp, deep breath in this exact spot. Thank you @visitmontana for putting this sponsored link in my IG newsfeed. I will stalk you and your pictures for my sanity. 

Oh, and in case you are wondering what my primitive coffee cooked over a campfire might look like…

  
it looks like that. In case you love this adorable mug as much as I do, it comes in other colors. It is made by Sea Jay Shop. Check them out here

I have no idea what made me chose Montana to dream about. I guess I equate Montana with the word ADVENTURE. I’m pretty sure my dad went on a hunting trip in Montana when I was younger. When he comes for a visit this summer, I plan to pick his brain. I also plan to buy camping books and educate myself on camping essentials. My kids are still pretty young, 1 and 3 to be exact. But, they are both boys, I hope that works in my favor here. I would love to take them camping in Montana. I plan to go to Ohio for a few weeks each summer from now on. Hopefully, we can use some of that time to practice tent camping at one of the state parks there. Since most of Ohio is sans bears, I’m thinking the most I have to worry about are some raccoons. 

It will happen though. I will complete this dream. We will camp in Montana. We will wake up, unzip that tent, and step out into adventure.

The (Not So) Very Bad Day

I woke up in a bad mood yesterday. It was one of those days that you just want to stay in bed. I was aggravated. I was tired. My kids didn’t sleep. I wanted to scream because all I wanted to do was work out, but I couldn’t because the baby was asleep in the bed with me. Every time I tried to move him back to his crib he woke up crying which, in turn, woke my almost 3 year-old up. I felt like all the odds were stacked against me. I felt like screaming and crying because it’s like asking for a miracle to just have an hour to myself to sweat out some stress. SWEAT. I don’t think I’m asking for much…right? It’s not like I’m trying to go to a movie, or shopping, or dinner, or get a pedicure. All of those things sound amazing by the way. No! Instead, I care for two kids under the age of 3 ALONE. FULL TIME. My husband gets to go to the gym at his own leisure. He can work out for hours if he wants to! He gets whole nights of uninterrupted sleep. Yep. Now I’m mad at him. 

I go to work, my rampage continues. I have so much to do. I can’t focus. The same people I deal with on a daily basis are on my nerves. I sit through meetings and mentally roll my eyes. I contemplate running away for a few hours. Correction: I contemplate running away to my bed for a few hours. An old lady eyes the hem of my dress the wrong way. WHAT? NOW MY DRESS IS TOO SHORT? It covers my knees! Insert teenage “I can’t do anything right” whiny voice. I decide its best to keep to myself the rest of the day. My new motto has become, “Get your crap done and get out.” A kind of stay below-the-radar till it’s over day. 5:00 p.m. comes and leaves. I’m STILL working. Finally, I wrap everything up a little after 6:00. (Hubby has been at the gym for two hours by now.) 

I go and pick up my kids, who are both ecstatic to see me. This is not sarcasm. My oldest greets me at the sitter’s door and wraps his arms around me. My youngest bounces up and down in his walker when he lays eyes on me. I instantly feel my hardened heart melt. I pack my precious cargo into the car and head home. I take care of all the farm chores when we get home, fight with my oldest about him trying to pick his brother up/dinner/how he doesn’t want a bath. I get both kids bathed while washing my face and brushing my teeth with their bath water.  

 My youngest sacks out. I talk briefly to my husband. I fight with my oldest about going to bed. I finally get him down. I sleep walk to my room and crawl into bed. Why am I ranting about this seemingly normal day? I don’t keep a Facebook account, but I do reactiviate it from time to time. My friend got married in Vegas last week and I wanted to see her fun pictures. Anyway, as I’m scrolling through my news feed, or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days…I see that not one, not two, but three of the people I am friends with on there have recent posts about their sweet babies having to be hospitalized for health problems. One is batteling with seizures. One was hospitalized for 11 days because of kidney problems, and the other family was just asking for prayers with no explanation. 

What is wrong with me? Yesterday I am about to cry because I can’t have an hour to myself. Today, I am seeing all these poor heartbroken parents pleading for prayers for their sick children. SOMEONE please smack me. My “problems” are nothing. Parents out there wish they had my “problems.” I quit Facebook because I didn’t feel that it added any value to my life. That’s so not true. Sometimes I need the reminder that I should be thankful for what God has blessed me with. To all my friends wishing they could fight with their healthy kids, I am sorry for complaining. I pray your children regain their health. I pray you have God to get you through this time. But, most of all, I pray that I never forget how I feel in this moment. My heart is with you. 

  

Who I Am

Who am I? I find myself asking this question a lot. When I was an 18 year-old flame burning and itching to graduate, I thought the World was so many things. I thought the possibilities were endless. I was selfish. I was reckless. I was naive. That attitude and thought process continued throughout my early 20’s. I know I wasn’t alone in those kinds of actions, that seems to be what those years are about. Looking back, I am extremely appreciative to my parents. They afforded me (and my sister) many opportunities that they themselves never had. For example, my mother dreamed of being an interior designer. She would have made an amazing one. Instead, she began working for the phone company at age 17. She retired from there in 2009, the year after I graduated from college. 

I have always worried that my resume looks as though I don’t have any clue what I want to be when I grow up. I have several customer service positions (bar tending and serving) listed on there. I worked for Child Protective Services for two years and now a newspaper for two years. At the age I am right now, my mother had already worked for the same company for 13 years. Comparing myself to my mother here is only to reference the fact that I have tried many different occupations and have been able to better pinpoint the things I enjoy because of it. 

I am thankful for my morally corrupt years of my youth. It makes me know the person I never want to be. I am thankful for the many different jobs/careers I have tried, they have made me better understand what I do not want to do. I am thankful for my parents. Without their love, support, and years of working for the same company while putting their dreams on the backburner, I wouldn’t understand the magnitude of what those actions have meant for my life. 

  

I am not done with this process yet. I am on a road to discovery. Who am I? I am an evolving person. I am not measurable. My experience is not limited. I am more than my resume. I am more than my degree. I am more than my dreams. 

Levels 

Life is scary on scales and levels. 

  

Working towards a new career, I would give that a level 6 on the rating scale. (Disclaimer: if you are trying to break into the stuntman business or studying to be a brain surgeon, your rating is going to be considerably higher than a 6). 

 Moving across the country away from everything you have ever known, that gets a 5. If you are moving alone, it gets like an 8…maybe a 9 depending on where you are moving to and from. 

If you are a first time mother, giving birth gets like a 6. If you are having twins, that automatically goes to an 8. If you are a mother of 3 kids under the age of four, your scary scale is off the charts. 

What is the point in all these scales? In our minds, we all have these levels. We may not correlate them at the time they are happening to us, but when we look back, we realize just how scary things really were. 

Yesterday, my 2 1/2 year-old was at the sitters. While the sitter was making the bed, he found a pill bottle in her bedside table. Let me clarify, my sitter is the most amazing lady in the world. She loves my children as if they were her own grandchildren. As far as I am concerned, she is an angel from heaven. I never worry about my kids or the care they recieve from her. EVER. I NEVER WORRY. Moving along, she is a hard worker. She works outside. She is Mexican (I’m sorry if Mexican offends anyone, but they have told me they prefer to be called Mexican instead of Hispanic) and all she has known her entire life is manual labor. Anyway, she sometimes takes a muscle relaxer at night. Fast forward to yesterday, my child is sitting in a corner with the muscle relaxer pill bottle. She then finds two of the pills on the floor and they are wet. She asks my son if he ate any, he tells her he spit them out because they were “yucky.” 

I won’t go into all the details because I don’t want to be judged by the decisions I made as a mother. All that matters is that he was fine. When I left to go back to work, he was happy and jumping on the trampoline. MY CHILD IS FINE. I don’t blame the sitter. Any type of situation like this could happen at any time. It could have been something at my home. 

I shared this moment of motherhood because at the time it was happening, my mind wasn’t telling me, “hey, this level of scary is 10.” Somehow my brain functioned through one of the scariest moments in my life so far. Somehow, being strong, brave, and completely scared all at the same time happened. 

Don’t let the levels fool you. Get through your moments and then look back and assess your levels. If you try to assess your levels first, you may never take that next step or you may freeze. You are stronger than you know. 

Red Rock Recap

We just got back from Sedona, Arizona. The trip was planned to mark the occasion of my 30th year of existence.
It was an amazing trip. I would say a trip of a lifetime. The cast of characters included me and hubby, my friend H (who subsequently happens to be my husband’s first cousin) and her Hubby, and my other friend Yo. The trip went something like this:
Thursday- Travel day. We drove up from Phoenix around dark. It was dark when we stopped at Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante to eat dinner. It was mouth-watering Italian food. The restaurant had come highly recommended by H’s hubby’s friend who was a local. We drove to the resort (in the dark) after dinner and called it a night.

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This was our cozy room.
Friday: When we woke up Friday, I was so excited to see what I could not see in the dark the night before. The surroundings were absolutely breath-taking.

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View from our balcony.
We got up and hubby and I snuck in a little morning workout sesh at the gym (that never happens).
After our workout, we met everyone for breakfast, which consisted of delish healthy options, also very hard to come by where we live.
After breakfast, we went downstairs and met our guide for a hike. We traveled less than a mile from our resort and walked onto the trailhead. It was the perfect day for a hike.

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Our guide Roy, was extremely knowledgeable about vegetation, about the environment and about search and rescue. He was an awesome guide! If there was a survey at the end, I would have given him a ten!

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Agave cactus plant. Be careful with these mo’s.
At the conclusion of our hike, we all split off and got ready to go to town. We drove into Sedona and had lunch at Pisa Lisa.
Hands down…the BEST pizza we have ever had. This is a sister restaurant to Dahl & Di Luca, where we ate the first night.
We hung around town a bit and then headed over to jump on our Pink Jeep Tour. We did the “Broken Arrow” which was basically a thrill-seeking combination of crazy uphill climbs and downward descents. The views were epic.

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Just a few examples of our jeep tour.
After the tour, we went to dinner at our resort. We had a cute little picnic dinner in the secluded dining room bedside the fireplace. It was romantic, lighthearted, and jovial.

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Saturday (my day of birth): Hubby and I got up and worked out. Shortly after, he came down with the stomach bug (whomp, whomp). We left him in bed and went to town to explore. We went to a few shops and the cute little Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. We browsed through the shops and had lunch at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill.
My friend back in Ohio had lived in Arizona. She recommended we try it. We had the soft pretzels and fondue (totally worth it) and H’s hubby had the fish and chips (one of their staples), and I had the cute little flight of beer called the “Seven Dwarfs” which after including the two seasonal brews, really ended up being nine dwarfs.

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After lunch, we traveled to check out the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This was such an awesome, soul-soothing place to see.

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Afterwards, we drove UP to the airport in Sedona because it was recommended to us for the view. Again…nothing like it in the world. A must see.
We returned to the resort so we could get ready for dinner. We had a relaxing, wine-filled dinner (sans hubby, boo).

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Sunday: I slept in a little, we had a small breakfast, and then headed to the spa. Hubby and I had a very relaxing couple’s massage and then I had a facial after that. We then did a hike on a trailhead that left from right behind the spa. Hubby and I had a quiet dinner alone and called it a night early.
Monday – travel day. We woke up to rain.

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Thank goodness the rain came in on the day we left.
After a quick workout with hubbs, we had breakfast delivered to our room. We packed up and headed back to Texas.
Overall, I would say this was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever been on. It had physical aspects as well as relaxing ones. It was secluded enough to be romantic, but diverse enough that it was comfortable as a couple’s trip. We really want to adventure back when the kids are old enough to hike.
Oh, big shout out to Grandma and Papaw. Thank you for taking care of our children and animals for 5 days. If it wasn’t for you….my 30th birthday would have consisted of dirty diapers and take-out!