“You, and only you are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are”
— Rachel Hollis
This is the first post on our new blog. I’ll keep it short and sweet. I decided that since I am such a story teller… I needed a place to tell my stories. So here we are.. Hopefully you’ll be entertained, maybe even uplifted. Who knows? Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates and find out for yourself!
Does anyone else feel like they are on a clock before school starts? I want things to run smoothly once school gets under way and in order to do that I want ALL the things done before we get on this new schedule.
I like to dejunk our house at least twice a year and before school starts is a great time. The hard part is that we have just been SO busy . We are hardly ever home it feels like and when we are its long enough to eat and change clothes and off we go again.
One of the biggest issues we will call it , is that I feel like I have enough time to stay on top of the normal everyday chores but when I take time to tackle a whole room, the office for instance the rest of the house goes straight to H-E-double hockey sticks faster than a New York minute.
Can anyone relate to that? I mean, I’ll walk out and feel all good about myself that I made real headway but my face quickly changes to …
Then I just wanna retreat into my new clean space and never come out hahaha. My dream is to have all my rooms clean at once. ALL the rooms. Even our very downstairs rooms.
We have a cold storage room that is in severe need of organizing and the room next to it has become a shrine of sorts to crap from my life and Greg’s life from before we met. I mean what the heck are you supposed to do with childhood stuff? I KNOW it was important once upon a time but when you haven’t looked at it in 13 years (or more) I feel like it’s safe to send it on it’s way.
One of the things that has taken extra time is I’m also going through a bunch of boxes of Mom’s stuff. When my dad moved out of the house they had shared I did something I never saw coming. I snapped and started hoarding boxes of stuff that was hers. I couldn’t believe what was getting thrown away and even though I had promised mom when she was alive that I would only be taking a few things, I ended up with 5 large boxes of picture albums, books, jewelry, journals and other stuff that would have just ended up in the trash or DI.
I was proud of myself though. I went through it all yesterday and got it down to a medium utility tote and a box. There are a few things like her wedding dress and a jean jacket that I am looking into fun ways to preserve and display them. I inherited a ginormous hutch from my grandmother and that’s where a lot of her stuff is and where I plan on putting her dress as well.
I’m excited to be getting things in order. It feels good to dig out and get my rooms organized again. That’s honestly when I feel best. Clutter and crap everywhere is a HUGE anxiety trigger for me. Anyone else? Or am I just the crazy one round here?! Starting the School year off organized and happy is a Win – Win for us all!
We recently made a big decision that I’m embarrassed to say took WAY too long to come to. A lot of the reason it took so long was that I was worried what others would think of my smart, adorable, crazy at times, little girl. I didn’t want anyone thinking badly of her. Mama bear instinct was STRONG.
Let me back up a little.. I first noticed something wasn’t quite right about 2 years ago. Illa remembered details, and caught on quick to a lot of things beyond her age but simple things like counting to 10 was a challenge. SO after working with her myself I decided we needed a higher power. I made an appt. with Brain Balance and we went in. They came back and confirmed what I had been thinking. Work needed to be done that I didn’t know how to give.
We hit Brain Balance hard. 3 times a week for 6 months I was driving there for her appt. She made progress, they were helping the pathways in her brain make lasting connections so that she could succeed in life and in school. I wanted more than anything for school to not be a “bad or hard” experience but rather something she loved and looked forward too.
Even with the help Kindergarten was a bit of a struggle. She fought me on homework, writing, letters, you name it. Math seems to be the one area she LOVED. (thank goodness because math and I don’t get along ha ha) At the end of the school year her teacher came to me and suggested I think about having Illa revisit Kindergarten in the upcoming school year.
I’ll be honest, my first thought was ” um, no. Not MY kid” I promised I’d work hard with her throughout the summer and we would test her in the fall before school starts to see if she was up to snuff for first grade.
I also noticed near the end of school that she was really struggling when she had to much sugar. So I made the executive decision to cut out as much sugar as possible. It was making both kids have similar symptoms to those children that have ADHD. I wanted to try cutting sugar first to see if it helped at all. The difference I saw was immediate and profound. It was rough getting Illa to understand that we didn’t need ALL the snacks all the time. It’s better now, she understands and sees the difference. Once in awhile I let her indulge but it’s rare now.
We worked hard this summer. Almost everyday we had “workbook time” For an hour we would work on sight words, writing, recognizing patterns, colors, shapes, numbers , all of it. I had prizes for both of them when they did well and we had fun. Finally the big day came where they were going to administer her assessment .
We went in and I felt confident it would go well… I was wrong.
When she came out of the assessment I went and met with the teacher that gave it and the principle. Right away the teacher said how lovely Illa was and that she was very bright and then she showed me the assessment results. The bottom fell out of my stomach. There had been no improvement at all. In fact it looked worse than her last report card at the end of kindergarten. I went through a lot of emotions sitting in that little office. I was upset, sad, angry, frustrated..
As she was flipping through the papers and showing me things and talking I was half listening. My brain had become a litany of questions. “What is going on here?” “I thought we had made progress!” ” I can’t believe what I’m seeing!” ” I have failed my child.” ” She can’t possibly go on to first grade, she will struggle so bad.” “I have wasted our time.” ” I wasn’t helpful to her at all.”
I cried. In the office in front of two grown women. I cried. I was just SO frustrated. They were both so kind and gave me their professional opinions which I took to heart. I walked out of there defeated and promised to think about if I wanted Illa to revisit kindergarten or if I wanted to push her and put her into first grade.
I was lost in thought for most of the day. All of the questions from earlier were swirling around in my head along with a bunch of new ones. ” What about her friends? Will they notice she didn’t move on with them?” “What am I going to tell everyone?” ” People are bound to notice when I post pictures about her going to school and doing all the same things again..” ” What about my schedule I had all worked out? That’s out the window.” “How is this going to work?” ” I don’t want her embarrassed by having to do this again.” And then something really important happened. I asked myself honestly the only question that mattered ..
“What will be the best decision for Illa?”
The answer was so clear that I was embarrassed by the way the other questions had bombarded me.
Revisiting Kindergarten was really the only answer to that question. It’s crazy the power your thoughts can have over you should you choose to let them take over.
I got this shirt for the reminder that Satan needs not have power over my thoughts and try to make a hard situation worse by bringing up all the questions and insecurities that I have floating around in my brain.
I had a close friend ask me in the middle of all of this “Have you asked Illa what she would like to do ?”
Uh…… NO, sadly that thought hadn’t even occurred to me. Here I am making important life decisions that directly affect her and I hadn’t even thought to ask her opinion on the matter. So I did and her response was simple and put the matter to rest.
She said ” Well mom, I think I should go back and do kindergarten again. I mean, I really don’t know all the things I need to know to go to first grade. So , yeah. I think I should go back. I’ll get it this time!”
There you have it folks.
So it is with great pride that we announce Illa will be headed back to Kindergarten . It was so nice , she gotta do it twice !
This last week was spent in Lake Powell with family. A little back story about me and Lake Powell.. we have a checkered past. I’ve only been a few times in my life despite it not being THAT far away. (three hours or so)
When I was a teenager we tried to go as a family and we never even made it to the water. My mother was trying to get to the beach in our suburban and ended up off the hard packed sand and in the soft stuff. Needless to say the suburban sank, people came to help and it took AGES to get it dug back out.
It would be a few years later when I went with Greg’s family. It was a fine time and we all had fun. But the last trip some 10 years ago was what put an end to Lake Powell for me.
When we first arrived at our camp spot on the beach everyone was asleep so we just slept in the boat. That would not have been SO bad if I hadn’t ended up with sand spider all over me. I HATE spiders. The next morning Greg went to launch the boat and took all of our sunscreen with him. I thought he’d be gone 15 minutes. It was an hour and a half. In that hour and a half I seared like a pan fried kipper. I had blisters . My face was a joke. I slept with a towel wet down with lake water to get any relief. I ended up with Greg’s 1000 SPF Pure Zinc sunscreen on my face. I looked like a lobster. I belonged in a bisque.
When that fateful trip came to an end I pulled a Scarlet O’Hara and shook my fist at Lake Powell and loudly proclaimed ” As God as my witness I’ll never come back!” This may sound a little dramatic, but well, I am a bit dramatic sometimes. After getting 4th degree burns on my face , shoulders and tops of the girls I felt a little drama was warranted. Anyway, moving on..
Our family has continued to go to Powell but every time we were invited I would just shudder and say “no thank you!” Greg, my in-laws and the kids finally badgered me enough that I decided to give in and go this summer. I felt I’d done pretty good, avoiding it for 10 years. The problem this trip was I had a new friend to go with me, anxiety.
You see I’ve always had a little anxiety but it quadrupled after our kids got here. We struggled for so long to get our little family that it terrifies me anytime that they are, or could be, or are next to anything remotely dangerous. So being in a boat hauling butt across the water is pretty much my own personal version of hell.
I tried to be a good sport. I really did. Illa and I have this thing where we say a mantra everyday to ourselves. ” I am Strong, I am Brave, I am Smart and I Love myself!” You better believe I was chanting the whole time ” I am Brave, I am Brave, I am Brave” Illa reached over when she heard my mutters and grabbed my hand and said ” Mom, you are SO brave!”
The problem with my anxiety is that it never really goes away. There are times when it’s more quiet and in the background and others when my brain sits and conjures up all of the situations in which things could go wrong. It’s like Final Destination is on repeat in my head. Not fun. I was able to enjoy myself on the boat, when we were going a slower speed. Those times were nice. I would also like to add that Greg is a very competent driver and I have faith in him as an operator, it’s just that ” what if this or that happens” in my brain that makes me ridiculous.
One of the things that gave me heart palpations was cliff jumping. Both kids really wanted to and I was good and said, go for it! They really enjoyed it and it made my mama heart proud to see how brave they both were!
Illa was most happy either on the tube or jumping off the swim deck. She LOVED the tube. I felt better sending her with my brother and sister in law because 1. They are both trained medical professionals and 2. She could have fun being spun around and hitting waves and I didn’t have to watch. It was a win- win situation.
I really enjoyed finding these alcoves with lots of shade to eat lunch in. They are so cool and pretty! Plus it was a nice break from the sun!
The kids loved teasing Grandpa (he loved it to) And we also had story time with Grandma. She tells the best stories and the kids love to listen!
The next day we found a sandy spot and hung out there for a few hours. Wesley played on the beach and also gained a lot of confidence in the water. He could just walk from where he was playing into the water and come to me. The look on his face was pure joy! I loved seeing him blossom!
One of the perks of chillin’ at the beach was every one could nap. We were tired that second day!
Wesley was worn the heck out. He napped for a bit both days!
He is such a character. Every time I point my phone and him and say smile this is what I get LOL
All in all it was a wonderful trip and I’m glad I gave Lake Powell another chance. While my anxiety took up more than its fair share of the trip, I am hoping that by going more and doing more things that push me I’ll be able to simmer the hell down a bit.
I’ll be honest. This post was hard to write. It’s taken me all day because I keep procrastinating, which isn’t like me. It was hard to open up about something that plays such a big part in my life, but I feel it is my duty as the storyteller to tell the whole story. Mom fear/mom guilt is a real thing and it can be crippling. I used to not get it, but I get it now. Boy, do I ever.
This past weekend I had the privilege to not only celebrate my Second year with this awesome company but to go to National Conference. What a blast! For those of you that don’t know , Thirty-One Gifts is a great company that provides Bags, totes, home décor and jewelry solutions. I was a customer for 5 years before I took the leap to become a consultant and I can honestly say its one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Before I get carried away with my weekend adventures I’d like to share my “why” . Why I joined, took the leap, whatever you want to call it.
My why is this: I’ve always wanted to be seen as a contributor in some way. Whether it be to society and my community as a giving person, or to my family by contributing to our way of life by teaching our kids to give back where we can, and by teaching Illa that you can go for your dreams AND be a kick butt mom. I just want to set the world on fire (in a good way) I love meeting new people and I love to light them up as well. By partying with new people I get to meet them,spread a little joy and have a lot of fun. I also wanted one outlet/area of my life I could control.
You see at the time when I decided to join, we as a family were elbow deep in trying to figure out what was wrong with Greg. We had been to SO MANY doctors. No one could tell us why he was in pain, where it was coming from and how to make it stop. I felt so helpless and frustrated. I mean there are only so many times you can call insurance and doctors before they start wanting to put YOU on a ” Do not call” list. I figured if I could just focus on one area where I got to be myself and throw my whole self into it I could focus on that and not what was scaring me to death with Greg.
So in many ways joining this AWESOME sisterhood has set me free! I have loved it.
Ok moving onto last weekends adventures .. SO to make matters even better.. my awesome friend joined with me on the same day and we get to go together. My sponsor is my great friend of 10 years as well. So this really is lots of friendships coming together when we meet up!
We flew out Thursday afternoon and with the 2 hour time difference it was 10:30 by the time we got to Columbus, OH. Some of our friends were kind enough to come pick us up from the airport and go back to the hotel. A lot of us were staying at the same hotel which made it fun!
Columbus was experiencing a heat wave and I don’t do HEAT very well anymore… especially combined with humidity. To say I was hot was a GROSS understatement.. here’s a look at my lovely sweat beaded face…
I sent this to Greg after walking outside for 10 minutes. Good grief. On a side note : I’d like to give a shout out to my Maskcara makeup. Y’all my eyeliner was the only thing that budged. Even with me sweating like a blacksmith my face stayed on. So props to them!
That first day was filled with sweating (jk) registration, picking up our amenity and shopping!
The line was long but thirty-one knows how to keep things moving so we had a blast. I got everything I wanted from the conference store and a dash extra. After all that we were tired and went back to the hotel for approximately 30 seconds before headed back out to meet up with our friend and sponsor.
That first night was filled with people getting recognized for achievements and a few tips for us to take away.
The next day we had an amazing speaker named Kindra Hall. It was on Strategic Storytelling . I didn’t even know that was a thing! She was amazing and I learned SO much from her! I also sensed a kindred spirit. She is a tiny blonde ball of energy and I instantly loved her!
I’m a big quote person (pun intended here) I feel like surrounding yourself with positive messages can TOTALLY affect your outlook and attitude. So I jumped at the chance to snap a pic with these. Both of them I loved for different reasons. I’m not sure if you’re aware but Thirty-one has what they call the Gives campaign. or Be the Give. They partner with different organizations throughout the year to help give back ( something very close to my heart) They have partnerships with Ronald Mcdonald house , Girls on the Run, National Network to end Domestic Violence just to name a few. The Domestic Violence Campaign Slogan this year is “Actually, I Can” This quote has just the right amount of sass and strong will in it and I’m 100% here for it! I have family members who have been affected by domestic violence, it’s a large reason of why I did the Zipper pouch Mothers Day fundraiser. I want to help in anyway I can.
Our last General session had another amazing speaker, Michelle Pohler. She talked about facing our fears and getting out of our comfort zone in a way I hadn’t really heard before. One of the best take aways from her speech for me was a story she told about facing her final fear . When about to face it someone asked her ” What’s the worst that could happen?” Now if you’re like me I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that question MANY times. Who hasn’t?! But my favorite part was when she said she changed one word that made it ALL different . ” What’s the BEST that could happen?”
After that Conference was technically over so we had lunch with some more amazing friends and had lots of laughs . Y’all I can’t emphasize enough how fulfilling, fun and rewarding it is to go to conference. You should just come with me and find out for yourself!
I’m so excited for Conference next year ! It’s gonna be blast as well! I’m already counting down the days.
We love to go to the Rodeo as a family. Illa and I love the horses and well honestly the food (corn dogs and funnel cakes anyone?!) Wes loves the tractors and heavy equipment and Greg loves watching the bull riding. It really is fun for all of us.
One of the things that Greg and I both love (and the kids are starting to catch on) Is the bringing in of the Flag and the National Anthem being sung. The Ute Stampede Rodeo has the most amazing way of doing it. A guy skydives in with a HUGE American Flag strapped to him . As he comes in Lee Greenwoods ” God Bless the USA” is played and because I cry at everything I tear up every time.
One of the things that got me extra teary this year was watching the National Guard members hustle as soon as the flag touched down. They scooped it up as fast as possible and then held it in such a way as the National Anthem is sung that it waves a little in the breeze. Why do I tear up? Because I think about what that flag means to me and to those that have served and how could you not be moved to tears?
I’m sure you are probably wondering why I’m going on about the flag and not more about the rodeo stuff. Well here’s why. It’s something that is very important to me. I’m not sure if it’s the way I was raised, or the fact that I had family members that served.
I LOVE the month of July. I LOVE seeing all the flags and pride in our country. I wished it was carried out throughout the year honestly. I wish that as a country we could pull our heads out of you know where and get back on track. Truly listen to each other and love thy neighbor.
To quote of my favorites :
” Love thy neighbor, not Love thy neighbor if they look and act and think like you. Not Love thy neighbor so long as they wear the right clothes and say the right things . JUST LOVE THEM”
– Rachel Hollis
I am personally trying my best to be better about this. Join me won’t you? Next time you look at the flag think about what it means to you. Dig a little deeper this July and Blast a little Lee Greenwood and let’s all remember what America is all about .
I’m gonna leave this pic of Wes because its just too funny not to. I was trying to get a cute pic of him and the flag… **SIGH**
This trip was interesting from the start. First off I had mixed feelings about going because I was unsure of my kids and being on the river with what I was picturing in my mind to be severe rapids. I mean what kind of mother takes small children in a boat on crazy water?!
I was finally convinced to go and we packed the motorhome and our truck and set off. It was actually really nice because Greg had both kids and Artie (our cocker spaniel) in the motor home with him and I had The whole truck to myself. I mean Moxie was in her kennel in the bed but basically I was ALONE . Peace and quiet for a 4 hour drive.. YES PLEASE!! It was glorious, I listened to my book the whole time and the only person I had to feed snacks to was me. (I think that was secretly my favorite part of the trip) Anyway back to the point, We started driving and were in the canyon and I was behind Greg when something strange caught my eye. A SUV in the oncoming lane was acting weird. It lost control and veered right for the bed of my truck. How it missed me is a miracle. It then over corrected and flipped. Rolling several times. I watched this all through my side and rear view mirrors. It was my greatest fear I was watching unfold. Many people stopped so I kept going to get to a spot where I could call for help because the signal in that area is awful. I was able to call it in and get help coming and to this day I wonder what the outcome was. Did help get there in time? Were they ok? I guess I’ll never know.
We continued on without incident to camp. We had the dinner assignment that night and I was ever so grateful that I had spent time before we left making the majority of the meal. Easy warm up and serve Fajitas! I even made and brought with me fried ice cream! We eat better out camping than we do at home ha ha .
The next morning was River Time! We had to pick up our rafts by 8 am so the morning was a blur packing our cooler and getting everyone dressed and out the door on time but we made it. I wanted to debut my new Family Picnic Cooler from Thirty – one but Greg was skeptical. I think because it was pretty and didn’t look sturdy enough to go down the river.
The time came and we all got loaded into the rafts and we set sail for adventure! I ended up being in a separate raft from Greg and looking back I will never do that again. The kids and I were in a raft with my brother and sister in law and their kids and we had a great time. A few small rapids, working together to paddle and singing songs it was a blast.
Meanwhile on Greg’s boat things were a little different. He ended up getting thrown out not once but twice. He got beat up pretty bad and once I finally laid eyes on him I could tell he was hurting pretty good. Thankfully (or not) all of this happened where I didn’t see because my boat was so far ahead of his. We were almost done with the river at that point and I was grateful.
The rest of the day was pretty chill but that was a different story the next day. So the little town we were staying next to was having a big 4th of July Celebration on Saturday. They had a car show and vendors, bouncy houses, the works. Well we had decided that we wanted to go to the car show because we love going as a family. We are all car nuts. So we went and it had a really good turn out for cars. I was quite impressed by all the cars that showed up. They also had a large sandbox with toys for the kids to play in. Of course that’s were Wesley wanted to hang out. So I let him play while Illa and Greg saw the cars. After they were done looking at the cars they joined Wes and I at the sandbox and the kids played while Greg and I chatted on the railroad ties that lined the sandbox.
As we were talking Greg and I noticed a commotion at the front of the sandbox. One of the cars that had been parked on the incline by the sand box was rolling towards it. I’ll be honest, it took me a hot minute to process what was going on . The lady that was driving the car laid on the horn and hollered out ” I HAVE NO BRAKES!!” As the horn was blaring and she was yelling this the car crossed over the railroad ties and into the sandbox filled with kids. MY KIDS. The car hit an older gentleman, knocking him down and running over his legs. As this was happening three men ran forward to try to stop the car and Greg went running towards our kids. He gently tossed other kids out of the path of the car. The car was finally brought to a stop by hitting one of those large Excavator sand toys and the help of the gentlemen. When it finally stopped it was 2 to 3 feet away from Illa and Wes.
Greg and I grabbed the kids and got the heck outta there. We got a few yards away and I bent down to ask the kids if they were ok. Illa just nodded blankly but Wes teared up and said ” Mommy that car scared me!” It scared me to. I mean Greg and I were RIGHT there and yet even being vigilant it could have been so much worse. I’m forever grateful that both the kids are ok. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful compared to all that .
There was a fireworks show that the town put on . It was really good. The kids loved it. I admit I loved it to . It was a good ending to a crazy day and trip.
I’ve never had ALL of us at some point in such a short amount of time be so close to an accident or worse. It made me really look at our family, the love we share, the fun we have, the little things that make us all crazy. It’s funny how you view it all differently when reminded that it could be gone in the blink of an eye.
Who are the Smiths? That’s a loaded question Ha Ha . We have been married for 13 years and have 2 kids. We also have 2 dogs and go on countless adventures. We are always on the go which is good and bad. I love keeping busy but sometimes it’d be nice to not have anything to do ( dare to dream right?!)
We love to camp and travel in our motorhome. We also love to ride the RZR and go rock crawling. We have a boat and enjoy boating and water activities although we don’t have a ton of time to go. We enjoy hunting and just being in the mountains.
Everyday is an a chance to build memories and I wouldn’t have it any other way!