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!

A New Heart

I woke up yesterday morning and felt a strong need to make something right in my life. I can’t explain the feeling, but I can say that it was overwhelming. So, without giving it a second thought, I put the wheels in motion. At 6:00 p.m. last night, I was baptized at the age of 29.
I wish that I could say a lot of planning or thought went into my decision, but if I am being completely honest, that was not the case at all. One of my goals for the new year was to be closer to God. That was as much planning or thought that I had really given it. I have written before about how I didn’t grow up in a religious home. We were always invited to attend church on Sundays with my paternal grandmother. My sister always went more than I did. She was even baptized there. I remember her marching down the isle during church one Sunday, soaking wet. She might have been seven. Anyway, I never felt right going to Sunday school. I had never read the Bible stories and I always felt lost when the Sunday school teacher would talk about them. It felt like a secret language that I hadn’t been invited to learn. It’s not that my parents didn’t want us to practice religion, it’s just that they did not practice any themselves.
I became friends with a girl in high school, her father was a baptist preacher. I attended church with her on many occasions. I even went to church camp with her the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. Slowly, we stopped hanging out and slowly I stopped going. Then, I began attending a Gospel church while I was dating my high school sweetheart. Music was a very large part of that service and they often spoke in tongues. They had a really great youth group and one of my friends from school would go with me on Wednesday nights after I got my license. I stopped going after I got a job at the end of my senior year. I got a job which required me to work on Sundays. That was basically the story of my life until I got married. I know for a fact that I worked almost every Sunday for the last two years that I lived in Ohio. Sometimes, I would pull two shifts on Sunday. I was a waitress, so it was always one of the busiest days of our week.
After moving to Texas, I slowly began attending church with my husband’s family. I went a few times before we were married. I went more after and even more when I was pregnant with our first son. Something about being there was calming for my soul. It was like I had a hand on my shoulder guiding me through the week. I have been going ever since. Some days, with two little kids, it can be a challenge. But, I am a firm believer that it is the only way to start our week.
When I voiced my belief in Him last night and was dunked into that water, I felt a giant relief come over me. Mind you, that relief was quickly replaced with the vocal needs of two kids under the age of 3, expectations for my presence at a work event, and the ongoing struggle to juggle everything in my life. But, for those few brief moments, I was free. Life stood still so that I could silently acknowledge my love for Jesus.
I thought I would have many things accomplished in my life before I turned 30. I do have many accomplishments. I also have failures and I have committed sins. The best part about moving forward into the next chapter of my life is that I can do it with a new heart.

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My sweeties and I right before.

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God is good.

Dance Party

I should be asleep. Instead, I’m thinking about awesome songs for my dance party for one. Let me explain. I want to workout. I need to workout. I have come to the conclusion that the only way that will happen for me is if I throw a dance party for myself several times a week. I love to dance. I love to try ridiculous moves that I would never dare try in front of people. I firmly believe that if you can have a great time while making yourself sweat like a pig, then you must be doing something right.
Just a moment ago I was laying here in bed and I thought of that old Gwen Stefani song called “Spiderwebs.” It’s a great song. For anyone who doesn’t know, it goes like this:

You think that we connect
That the chemistry’s correct
Your words walk right through my ears
Presuming I like what I hear
And now I’m stuck in the
The web you’re spinning
You’ve got me for you prey

[Pre-chorus:]
(Yeah) Sorry I’m not home right now
I’m walking into spiderwebs
So leave a message
And I’ll call you back
A likely story, but (Yeah) leave a message
And I’ll call you back

You’re intruding on what’s mine
And you’re taking up my time
Don’t have the courage inside me
To tell you, “Please let me be”
Communication, a telephonic invasion
I’m planning my escape…

[Pre-chorus]

[Chorus:]
And it’s all your fault
I screen my phone calls
No matter who calls
I gotta screen my phone calls

Anyway, I will spare y’all from reading all the lyrics. You get the idea. So, I think it’s a good start to my dance party for one playlist. Maybe I could add “C’mon ‘N Ride it (The Train)” to the list. Okay, if that Quad City D.J.’s song isn’t showing my age, I don’t know what will. It seems like yesterday that these songs played over and over on the radio. I guess I am just feeling nostalgic. There are plenty of old and new songs I could choose from. I find myself feeling very dated because some of the songs, I just don’t know their names. I find myself identifying them by saying, “you know…that song they play on the new AT&T commercial where the guys are walking in slow-mo.” I swore more than once when I was a young adult that I would never identify songs in that manner. Identifying songs in that way automatically makes you old. You are not hip or cool if you don’t know the name of the song, the artist, the recording label and all the dance moves they do. I wish someone would have told me when I was a young adult that sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s more important to remember the dosage of your kids medication or if you mailed the stack of bills on your counter. Sometimes keeping your head above water is more important than remembering who sang what. For those other times, when you wish to forget your problems of the world, when all you want to do is have a one person dance party in your living room and burn off all the internal fights you have been having with yourself all week, for those times, there is music. It can be the music of your heart. It can be the music for which you don’t know the name. It can be the music that you secretly hope your children will never hear or sing. The thing to remember here is that it’s your music. So, sing the words (or what you think the words are) loud and proud. Dance your little heart out. Try not to think about what you look like. Just move your body and feel that sweet release. Yes, this is my one person dance party. Please do not interrupt.

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How I feel when I dance.

Old Typewriters

I’m using this opportunity to write. I drank a “decaf” Starbucks at 3:30 in the afternoon yesterday. I have maybe slept for three hours. I think the sweet military barista who prepared my drink got it wrong. I say military because she was screaming the orders. This particular location was swarming with college students with laptops. I felt like I was in another country. I live 30 minutes away from the closest Starbucks. I never go in there. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy it, but it’s a little pricy, so I reserve it for special occasions. Like I was saying, I think it was the military barista because the little square on my cup had an X in the decaf box. This leads me to believe that my order was placed correctly. It could just be that I have not had coffee in so long (decaf or regular) that my body doesn’t even distinguish between the two. This may cause for some research on my part. Despite her screaming “Ryan” or “Kasey” or “Fill in the Blank” every minute and 30 seconds, she did seem sweet. She had a good amount of cheer in her voice. She also was personable. I appreciate these types of people. Yes, they work in customer service, so it’s fully expected that they stay politely composed, but it’s outwardly obvious that they are genuinely friendly. I like genuine people.
My mom and stepfather just left to drive back to Florida. I always feel that pang in my heart whenever my family members leave after a visit. It’s hard to see them go. It doesn’t make a difference how long they visit, it always seems short. My dad and his significant other will be here in a few weeks. I look forward to their visit. This will be the first time my dad will meet his second grandson. They share a special bond. My youngest was born on my father’s birthday.
I have noticed lately that my writing on here is more of an ongoing update. I am okay with that because I know what this space is for me. It’s my space, it can be whatever I want it to be. It has occurred to me though that I would eventually like to write. I would like to write about all the wonderful and beautiful things I hold deep in my mind. Not that I don’t enjoy writing about my life and my children. I think I would just benefit creatively by having some other type of writing outlet. I have had several forums suggested to me. I am open to any ideas that will help me write professionally. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated (and considered). The only real guideline I have is that whatever the platform may be, it can’t be something that requires a set amount of time each week. One day, something like this will be of interest to me, but with two kids, animals, a house, and a husband who is gone during the week, something with time constraints is not on my list of things to do. I love the freeness of this space because I can post once a week or once a month. There is no added pressure or consequences of not having something submitted at a specific time. I feel like that is what my full time job is all about. I get paid to have things completed by a deadline. This area I’m talking about for my writing should not come with that specific boundary. At least I do not believe it should.
Maybe this space I am dreaming about is less of an online domain and more of a physical place. I may just need to set up a room in my house and designate that as my “space.” I have always thought that this would be a necessity in my life. I should just do it. I could have all the freedom in the world. Of course, I would have to hold myself accountable, but it can be done. I have always wanted a place where I can physically go to work that was in some way part of my home. There is a little building out behind my house that I would love to turn into a personal office space. A space free of kid toys. A place that can be just mine. That would be the most amazing gift.
It can happen. I can make it happen. I don’t require diamonds or expensive bags. I don’t want designer clothes or shoes. I want a repurposed storage building with heat and air conditioning. I want to decorate it so it’s a little sanctuary. I want natural sunlight, a desk with a comfortable chair and an oversized, fluffy sofa. I want a rug I can walk around on in my bare feet to brainstorm. I want a table with a coffee pot. A vintage typewriter would be a nice added touch. I would need some art for the walls in order to be inspired. I would need a laptop. I can see an old bookcase full of pretty things. This is all I need. Oh, and a babysitter to come to the house. I don’t think I’m asking for much. Okay, it’s a little more than the necessities. I would settle for heat and A/C, the rug and a laptop. Perfect.

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My dream space.

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Inspiring art for my space.

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I like the natural light with this set up.

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Old typewriters make me happy.

An Hour

I read in a book that everyone has an hour each day when time stands still. An hour of calm. An hour of meaning. An hour of clarity. This hour is different for everyone. The book correlated this hour with the hour of birth. Apparently a proverb says that the hour in which a person is born is “their hour.” I think this may be true. I haven’t seen my birth certificate in a few years, but 4:00 a.m. seems to be my hour. I have an overwhelming feeling of happiness at 4:00 a.m. I feel closest to God at 4:00 a.m. The day is new. The slate is clean. Yes, 4:00 a.m., I own you.
I enjoy just sitting propped up on pillows. I listen to the sounds of our home. The breathing of the baby. The bark of a dog down the road. I also leave the television on the World News channel (I like to know things). I had a professor in college who taught a communications class. We had a quiz every morning about what was going on in the news. In college, I worked late hours and thought sleep was better than gold. The last thing I wanted to do before class three days a week was check websites for news. Looking back, I know she was trying to teach us a very important lesson. I think the lesson was that we should seek to know relevant things. We should seek to care about the things going on around us and not just the things happening to us. I feel that I benefited from this professor. I may not know or understand everything that is going on in the news, but I darn sure know something about what is happening. 4:00 a.m. is my time to get educated on these things.
When the news stories start to repeat, I change the channel to the country music videos. This is soothing to me. I don’t watch. I just turn the volume to the lowest audible setting and prepare my mind for the day ahead. This could mean a prayer to God. It could mean a to do list. It could mean dreams about the future or reminiscing about the past.
Yes, I know my hour. I know it well. What’s yours?

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Renovation

The small hours of the morning are my safety net. It’s the time of the day when my thoughts are all my own. I’m not forced to listen to anything I don’t want to hear. Even my three month old is still on my chest.
Today, I am dreaming about renovations. There are so many things I want to do to our home. I catch myself dreaming of them often. My kitchen is the thing that I wish to change the most. By all descriptions, it’s a large kitchen. That’s because the kitchen also includes an office area and a wall with built in cabinets and drawers. It’s dated, of course. It has dark cabinets. It has older appliances. The counter tops are cracked in places. Oh yes, in my mind, I’m giving my kitchen a giant kick in it’s 29 year old face. Yes, my house is as old as me.
At 4:00 a.m., I am dreaming of all white walls. I want dark gray laminate flooring to replace the awful tile patterned linoleum mess that is there now. I want all the appliances replaced. I want a large, white, porcelain farmhouse sink. I dream of painting all the cabinets a light gray. I want to take out the cabinets above the waist around the sink and appliances. I want open shelving where everything is exposed. I want to take the cabinets out in the area where we have our bar set up. That area will be converted into a eat-in area. I want seating for our table to be built into the wall. The backsplash will have white subway tile covering it. Did I mention the butcher block counter tops? I want a coffee bar and a place for a small television on the wall.

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I love this open shelving.

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My dream kitchen includes rustic lights.

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Built in seating is a must.

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We can’t forget the butcher block counter tops and (a lighter color) of gray cabinets.

In my mind, this isn’t just a kitchen. This is the place where my family will bake cookies for Santa. It’s where I will sip coffee with my mom when she visits. It’s where I can sit in the corner and make lists for the grocery store or write bills at midnight. It’s a gathering place for my family. A place where I can open the blinds and we can watch the foals graze while we enjoy our pancakes on Saturday morning. While it may sound boring to most, this kitchen will breathe life into our old house. Come on, who doesn’t need a little sprucing up after almost 30 years? I do, and so does my kitchen.
Yes, these are the things I dream about at 4:00 a.m. Right now, any extra money I save goes towards Christmas. It’s only seven weeks away. Eeek! But, I am making plans to make this kitchen happen. Until that day comes, 4:00 a.m. is a time for dreaming with my eyes wide open.
Cheers y’all!

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