Simple City Life

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

southwest by midwest.

I am currently knee deep in camping gear. Us and the rest of America will be heading out into the wilderness to enjoy a break from it all. Seriously, I think every camp site in this state was booked after several searched I found a site at a KOA. I'm not one for the commercialized camping experience, but the thought of telling the boys we were not going camping was too much to handle! This is after all one of the very reasons we are here in Arizona, to enjoy the mountains, desert landscape, and all this great state has to offer. After 9 years of plotting and planning and trying and begging, we are finally here, in Phoenix, in the west, the great Southwest. How did we get here and why? Let me share a little about our quest that started many years ago when I truly fell in love with the Southwest.

The Midwest was never really part of my plan. At the age of 21, I packed my bags and headed west. I was on the quest for adventure and new found places...and let's be honest a husband. After spending my whole life in the Midwest, I was ready for a change.  Breaking the news to my friends was the hardest part. With the help of my mom's van and my little Dodge Neon, I set out to conquer the West. Not really knowing what my plan was, I was excited to start a new chapter of my very young adult life. No job, no friends, and in reality no money, I took a leap and found a life I never dreamed of. In time I wrangled my friends from back home to join in on my adventure,. Eventually, I managed to find myself a very nice groom who happened to be moving to California. We were young and stupid at best, but we found ourselves in California, newly married and soaking up every ray of sunshine we could. As a very young married and poor couple, you can imagine that California wasn't very nice to us. Once the money short, we started our journey back to Colorado, tails between our legs. Shortly after arriving back, we found ourselves expecting our first born. Exciting, yes. Terrifying, very.
The Flatirons. Boulder, CO

That first born little nugget is now 13, bright hazel eyes, and exactly as tall as myself.  Shortly after her birth, I longed to be near my family. I was young, and in all honesty, I just wanted my mom there to help me out. As if I was hitting the rewind button, I ventured down that long boring road back to the Midwest. It wasn't exactly our plan, but we quickly learned that life isn't always going to go according to plan. Life has a way of sending you in places you never imagined, and typically for the better. Small town life grew on us. We thrived on family gatherings and worked hard on our marriage and raising our little girl. Our family grew once more, we now had a baby boy in the mix. My parents owned a home in Arizona during this time, I had my first taste of the desert one winter after spending a month with my little girl in the beautiful Southwest. This was the first time in a long time I began dreaming again. However, we were feeling comfortable that this, the Midwest, was our forever home. So confident, we purchased our first house. Life laughed at us. Within a few months, we were offered a job in Milwaukee, WI. The big city had called us back.

Milwaukee became home. Although we had moved away from our family our lives were enriched with friends that turned into family. We reached a new level of maturity in our adult life. We grew our family once more, I poured over school choices and found a perfect fit for us. The children grew up with the best neighbors and friends. Our lives were filled daily by those who poured themselves into us for years. Even though the longing for the West was still there, I felt content to stay in our city. I daydreamed about better weather, but after countless years, we finally settled in and bought our dream house. After only being in our house, a company reached out to us about a job opening in Phoenix. In the end, the offer fell through and we laughed about the luck we have with buying houses, only to have to sell them. However, that job interview sparked something in us and it wasn't going away.  It was time to move on. We started to apply for jobs, we talked about being reckless and moving without a job, and then we decided to go out on a limb and just ask if we could relocate. The wait for our answer was long, three long months to be exact! To our shock and delight, we were granted permission to move!

We will have our Midwest Roots! Shirts via +Danielle Lussier. Check out her shop today! 
Why Phoenix you ask? Well, it boiled down to two factors- family and finances. We both have snow bird parents (parents who winter in Arizona) and we wanted to continue to raise our children in a diverse urban environment. We settled on Phoenix due to its similar cost of living to Milwaukee, our parent's locations and the abundance of nature. I want my kids to grow up surrounded by mountains, hiking through deserts terrain and mountain trails. We wanted more school choices and a larger city to allow more opportunities for our kids.  The move has had several trying moments for sure. Our teenager has spent the last 5 months hating our guts for making this move, we had to switch our kids from a Montessori education to public schools, we went from a 2100sf home to a 1200sf apartment, but we have also gained so much. We have grown closer as a family, we found schools that cater to our kid's interest, I have hiked countless miles just blocks from our home, and we have found a beautiful art community here in a city that is growing and blossoming.  We really couldn't be happier...well, perhaps if some of our friends joined us here-that would be the icing on the cake!
Phoenix Mountain Preserve

I'm excited to start blogging again. There is a lot of reasons I practically fell off the face of the earth for the past year. But that is for another post because if you made it this far, you are awesome. *fist bump*

~Courtney

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Get Ready for Earth Day With Envirokidz!

          Daily, my newly seven-year-old loves to run outside before school. His mission: to observe how the spring bulbs and lilies are growing and changing every day. It has been good for my soul to see him so excited, he rushes back into the house to grab me and show me what he sees. I get a full report on what is new growth, how much taller they are and his triumphant guesses what is going to happen tomorrow. It is a beautiful reminder of joy and beauty in the simple things. Watching our earth wake up after a cold, long winter. For these reasons, I love celebrating Earth Day! We should all be in such wonder and amazement over this cycle of new beginnings. I am excited to share with you some fun ideas to get your family ready for Earth Day!


          Make a family pledge this year to recycle more. Learn about your local recycling programs to be sure you are following the proper steps to ensure your items are able to be recycled. This year I am finally committing to getting that second recycling bin- one just isn't cutting it this anymore!

          Commit to reducing your waste. Take advantage of those bulk bins at the grocery stores. Did you know that you can bring in your own containers and kick the plastic bags to the curb? Just have a cashier weigh your reusable containers before you fill them up! 

          Don't be afraid to talk to your kids about the environment how to treat our earth. Believe me, respecting isn't just for the hippies of the world. Educate your family about the effects of harmful chemicals that are placed on our yards, dumped down the drain and put on our skin. As our kids grow older, I have been bold to teach them about these things in order to empower them to make better choices as they grow up. 

          Spend family time learning more together through books and movies. All ages can benefit from watching a family movie like Wall-E together. We have also enjoyed several nature movies like March of the Penguins, Disney's Bears and so many others you can find on this great list from Envirokidz.

          Plant a garden or shop your local Farmer's Markets. I love gardens, but unfortunately, our yard is full of plant killing black walnuts. We have replaced much of what we used to grow with product from our local markets. Not only are you fueling your family better you are also supporting a hard working family. 

         Support companies that are working hard to preserve our environment. Did you know that Envirokids donates 1% of sales towards endangered species, habitat conservation, and environmental education? It's important to speak with your dollars, communicate to the industry leaders that you believe in giving back to our earth and keeping your family healthy. 

Now through April 28th, you can enter your family to win an EnviroTrip to Belize with Envirokidz! All you have to do is enter your code from specially marked boxes.  Click the image below to learn more!


And remember Envirkidz is certified gluten free! Making it one of our favorite snacks and breakfasts! 

Happy Earth Day! 
Courtney

*i was sent products to try for our family, I was not paid for a positive review or for my post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Expo Time! #GFAFEXPO



We are very excited to be invited back to the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo for the 4th year! This year we are also on Spring Break- so I think we will do a little more sight seeing this trip. A visit to Sweet Ali's Bakery is a must this year, and maybe a day at the Shedd Aquarium? 

I know I rave about this Expo every year, but it is seriously heaven for anyone with food allergies/sensitivities. Owen looks forward to this each and every year. He can't wait to visit his favorite brands and try some new ones. Consistently his favorites are Enjoy Life Foods, Sweet Ali's, SunButter, Pamela's and Simple Mills. 

For me I love seeing the innovation and how brands are really going above and beyond to provide the best foods for everyone. Gluten free foods have come so far since Owen was first diagnosed. Foods have transformed from mediocre at best to better than "regular" products. Not only has the taste of foods exceeded our expectations, but the quality and health benefits have skyrocketed! 

At the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo- you are surrounded by others who understand and care. It is a safe environment, free from assumptions, judgments and rude comments. People and brands truly care and work hard to give you security in their products. 

If you haven't attended an event yet, you really should! Even if you just know someone who has allergies, it is a great place to gain knowledge and understanding. 

Are you already going? Look me up! I'll be there covering all the great products, and sharing them on Instagram. 

~Courtney