Progress

Homebody// Love at Home

In February, we wanted to go away for Valentines Day. We were saving money for it. And when it came down to it, it felt burdensome to even attempt. Kareem thought, well for the amount of money we were going to spend, we could buy our own inflatable hot tub! And that’s what he did. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, I was too. It sat in parts until my birthday in late April. Finally we assembled it, filled it, and let it heat up. The first night in the hot tub was truly blissful. I could not believe how much relief I felt.

Last year for my birthday, Kareem got me a treepod. Have you seen these? It’s ridiculous, kind of expensive, and incredible. It’s a “hanging cabana.” So he got this for me against my will and then it just sat around. Kareem and a friend were going to build a contraption to hang it from. Anyway, this year for my birthday, he got a stand together for it. And it is amazing!

My backyard is an oasis. My backyard dreams have really been coming together over the past few years. I got these ridiculous pieces, but I also wanted string lights since we moved in. Check. Trampoline. Check. Swing set. Check. Raised beds. Check. It is becoming my favorite place. And between every busy thing we have going on, I just want to hang out in my backyard!

We have been traveling less. Not only because it seems like our time is not ours and stuff is happening constantly, but also because pandemic and the joy of my perfect backyard. (jokes) But seriously, I am itchy to travel. It’s really the T I M E that is holding me back. I have no idea how I used to do it!

I guess one could say that I made time for it, but also I think the circumstances of life have changed. My job has changed and the commitments of my children have changed. Another huge change is sharing my kids with their dad and my stepson with his mom. There are just a lot of moving parts.

I flew twice in 2020, which I didn’t share much about at the time because it was somewhat a controversial choice. I flew to Utah and Orlando in the fall. Since then, we have mostly driven, though I did fly a few times last year. But I have not been out of the country since pre-pandemic. I had two international trips planned for 2020, but did not get to go of course. Now the world is opening up, but my schedule is not.

In the meantime, we are making things happen and at the end of the day, I have my backyard paradise. Adventure is out there, but it’s also right here. The kids are always singing the song Love at Home (sometimes by choice, sometimes by force). They’re right- there is beauty all around when there’s love at home. <3

Solo Hiking, Travel, and Selfies

**post warning: lots of pictures of ME in this post**

I used to hate selfies.

I thought they were dumb. This may really surprise you, since I now not only post tons of selfies both solo and with a group, but I also own a selfie stick. It was a gift, but an inspired one.

I didn’t really develop any selfie game until I was on my own a lot. I wasn’t yet a single mom, but my ex-husband was traveling a lot, and I was alone with the kids a lot. And I began taking pics of us via selfie. I’d love for my kids to know that mom was there too. 🙂 Once I was a single mom, then it was on. I also did a lot of solo travel and solo hiking at this time, so I would take selfies to document my travels.

Looking back at travel photos, I had tons of pictures of artifacts in museums or gorgeous landscapes, but my mom would be like, where are you? And I was like, she’s right! When I look at friends’ photos of trips and things, I’m looking for pictures of them, not of stuff I could go see myself. So I started taking more pics with me in it.

I also sometimes am somewhere by myself and see something weird and I’m like, okay I need photographic proof that me and this thing were in contact! 😀

I have had largely positive experiences with solo hiking and solo travel, though I have to say that in the past year, I have had a couple weird solo hiking experiences that have made me even more safety conscious.

I always advise that you bring the ten essentials on every hike you take. Recently, I was on a hike with another family and a kid scraped their knee. I left my pack in my car because it was only like a two mile hike. I never do this, but I did it. I wish I had my things! It’s always best to be prepared. And when you’re solo, it’s even more important.

I love solo travel. I’ve done domestic and international travel by myself and I enjoy it. Not too long after I got divorced, I went on a trip to Iceland, Wales, and England solo in summer of 2018. Often when I plan these solo trips, people will offer to come with me or come with for part of it. I declined these offers for this particular, mostly because I had already made my plans, gotten my tickets, etc and didn’t want to change plans around or cause undue cost to my potential travel partner. But I also knew that I would learn a lot doing this trip by myself, given what I had been through. Being completely by myself and responsible for myself on a trip like this teaches you a lot about yourself. And it reminded me of my own value and strength. I had a really great trip solo. I was able to be very flexible. After a particularly difficult hike climbing a mountain, I changed my plans and left Wales early and included a new stop in England. I also met some really cool people which I may not have been as open to had I been with others. Had a great trip!

Solo hiking is a little different. I don’t usually want to meet cool people on a solo hike, ha ha. I go for the solitude, peace and quiet, or I’m looking for something in particular. For whatever reason, I feel more cautious hiking solo than traveling solo. Not sure why. But I will say that I have had more negative experiences solo hiking than solo traveling. Being aware of your surroundings is very important in both settings. Choose your trails wisely. Let someone know where you’re going. Here are some of my tips for solo hikes.

At this point in my life, solo travel is not something I do often. I try to plan all of my trips with my kids. If I’m going to spend the money, I want them to come with me! And I’m remarried, so the kids can’t come, then the husband will! And I love it this way. But solo hiking does still happen. Or hiking with my non-human hiking buddy Jeff. He’s a pretty good pal. 🙂

I’m also totally open to hiking pals if you want to be one! Requirements- can’t be in a hurry and must appreciate really cool rocks. Litterbugs need not apply. 🙂

The Little Things

I’m going to try to blog more again this year.

I say this always, but lately I have had a legitimate reason not to blog. The shift key on my laptop hasn’t worked for a while. This has been super annoying and somewhat problematic. At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal. But the longer it went on, the less I’d use my laptop.

I don’t love typing long emails or blog posts or anything of significance on my phone. And I don’t do that stuff at work, so it has been only when necessary that I have really done it on my phone.

Life update: Kareem got a new job! We are so pleased. With this new job, he received a new computer set up- laptop, a couple monitors, etc etc. His old monitor from his old job was up for grabs, so I grabbed it. His old work computer was a Mac, which is what my laptop is. So he had a couple Mac accessories like a keyboard and mouse which I also commandeered.

We then adjusted our dining room. When school closed down in spring of 2020, we all worked from the dining room table. Before that, it had been a lovely dining table that I always had decked out for whatever season and sometimes we had dessert or played games on it.

When Covid closed everything down, the dining room became an everything room for everyone. We all had work and school from the dining room table at different points during the day, so there were like seven computers and a bazillon papers and it became like a mega desk.

For one day during the pandemic, it functioned as a dining room. That was our wedding day- aww….

Photo Credit: Ben and Becca Lee Munson

After a few months into the pandemic, Kareem switched jobs and they gave him a stipend for office furniture for his home since he would be working remote. He decided to purchase a desk and chair which was more comfortable and appropriate for his needs. We adjusted the dining room table and made room for the desk.

Since then, our dining table is used mostly when we have company. Or it collects piles of school work, backpacks, projects, gifts, mail, art supplies, and every other kind of thing you can imagine, until I can’t take it anymore and clear it all off. Since the dining room table is usually full of crap, then everybody does art and games on the kitchen table and then THAT has stuff on it until it’s time to eat. The stuff goes on the passover and then I get annoyed. We also all use Kareem’s work desk for our stuff when we need to do a Zoom meeting or something, because my laptop sucks and Rami just has his school Chromebook. So everybody leaves stuff on his desk, puts stuff on his desk, and does stuff at his desk so his work space is not really his. It hasn’t really been efficient for the family.

With the new work set up and my pirating of his old work set up, we decided to just accept what is happening and make the dining room function better according to our use of it- a workspace. It is not really used as a dining room anymore. So I moved the dining room table into my kitchen, took the leaf out of my kitchen table and moved it to the dining room creating a desk table of sorts. We set up two long table tops along the wall to function as a kid/art workspace, and we feel like this is going to function much more nicely for our family.

Really, I’m mostly glad to have a working shift key again. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Thursday Thoughts- A Beautiful World Awaits

“A beautiful world awaits you on the other side of fear.”


Well, ain’t that the truth.  I seriously believe this wholeheartedly.  

This summer, we were traveling to South Carolina by way of Tennessee and North Carolina.  Eastern Tennessee and North Carolina are mountainous with the Appalachian Mountains rolling through there- Great Smoky Mountain National Park is in Eastern Tennessee, and we drove right by.  If you’re not aware yet, I am somewhat anxious driving through mountainous areas.  By somewhat anxious, I mean very anxious.  And by mountainous areas, I mean southern Missouri.  But seriously- not my thing.

When Kareem found this out, he’s like wait but you climbed a mountain this summer.  Well, yeah.  And you drive all over and hike in mountains.  Well, yeah.  So you can’t be that scared!  Well, he found out.  🙂

Do I look scared?? I was terrified!

When we were planning our trip this summer, I almost changed the destination due to anxiety about the route.  Then we found a route that avoided what I anticipated being the worst of it, but it added several hours.  That was okay with Kareem, but while on the road, we kept getting delayed and we had an event and friends to get to.  So I took a deep breath, and said let’s just go through it.

Because at the end of the day, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it- you have to go THROUGH it.  As the bear hunt song says.  And it’s true.  

It reminded me of my divorce.  I spent lots of time being anxious about what was going to happen during and after.  I spent lots of time trying to prevent it from happening.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t.  I had to go through it.  And I’m way better for it.  I am not grateful it happened, I am not counting it as a blessing, but I learned and grew from it.  And on the other side- or at least further than I was at the beginning- it’s not nearly as scary.  I just had to begin.

These photos are from a trip I took at the time. This is my deep breath moment. When I finally thought, okay. You just have to accept this. You have to go through it. Let’s go.

So often that’s the case, right?  You just have to begin.  Can’t go under it,can’t go over it, can’t go around it- gotta go through it!  So let’s go.  

After we started getting through the mountains, I was amazed by the beauty.  I had moments that took my breath away- both from fear and from the magnificence. 

Sometimes, though, you make the decision to go through it and you lose resolve. You get scared again. Or you aren’t sure of yourself. That’s okay. There were moments in those mountains where I told Kareem he had to stop. He literally could not. There was nowhere to go. I had to take a deep breath and keep going.

It was worth it, in the end.  All the worrying wasn’t worth it.  And now I feel more confident for the next time.  The growth that happens through being courageous- being fearful but doing it anyway- well that growth is special.

That beautiful world awaited me on the other side of my fear.

Let God Deal with the Things They Do

There is this Will Smith lyric I quote pretty often. My kids know it. Everyone knows it. I wholeheartedly believe it.

Recently, I had the pleasure of being at Scout camp with my son for a few days.  In that time, I gained a lot of perspective on some things, but one of the most interesting things I got to do was be reminded of just how kind and loving my son is.  

There were several instances when someone was rude to him or left him out or whatever.  He did not typically respond in anger.  He did not respond by being rude back.  He almost every time responded with kindness and love.  And I thought, wow.  This child.  One time, he got pretty upset.  I was not with him, but it was reported to me by him and one of the other children’s grandpa.  We were talking about it and processing it, and during this, he quoted the Will Smith quote.  He also had a lot of grace for both the other kid and himself, and I was just so impressed with him.

Later that week, I had the opportunity to come in contact with someone who has been consistently rude to me and my children, as well as my husband.  The rudeness had culminated in two recent incidents in which she was more than rude, she had been mean to me.  I decided to ignore her.  Like, not just ignore her rudeness, but ignore her completely.  When she approached, I purposely engaged myself in other activities.  With my children.  As the time went on that she was standing there, I felt icky inside.  It did not feel good to ignore her.

When I was going through my divorce, I was devastated and sad and angry and grieving.  There were some times when I said or did things that didn’t feel good- I was acting on these emotions.  I started to learn how important it is to decide who you’re going to be and act accordingly.  I was learning through that experience who I was at my core, and that I am a kind person.  (I have a cousin who says I’m not kind and there’s nuance to this, but that’s another show….) And I need to protect my energy so that I can act in alignment with who I am.  I do not do this perfectly, but I consider it often.

Standing there, ignoring her, I did not feel good.  My kids were there and watching.  I thought, my son was such a beautiful example of this at camp- I have to do this for my kids!  And so I broke the ice and waved.  That simple act made me feel so much better.

I don’t have to let myself be walked on or treated poorly, but I also don’t have to be rude or mean.  That’s exactly the lesson I’ve tried to teach my kids, and this week, that’s one of the lessons my boy taught me.  I’m so grateful for his example and so proud of him.