Simple City Life

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Settled.

I have successfully survived three weeks without WiFi. It's not like I am completely disconnected from the world- I have my phone which is always connected- however, we have managed to move to the one place on earth that Verizon has poor service. Literally, in the past 10 years, I have never had one issue with my service, until now. Thankfully, they are sending me a device to hopefully help boost my signal. It is not a huge deal- we have been incredibly busy getting ready for our new home! Three weeks ago we packed up our apartment and loaded all our earthly possessions into a PODS container. I have honestly never been more ready to move in my life! And let me tell you I have rented some pretty insane places. Our first rental in Milwaukee had rats and mushrooms...but the most amazing upper neighbors, so we loved that place regardless of the Scumlord in charge. Once my best friend and I rented the cutest little house. We felt on top of the world! It was cozy and we didn't have to share a wall with anyone. We had a yard for the pups to play in and we could walk to the little historic downtown area. However, the house was sitting on an angle and without our rose-colored glasses, on the place was truly a dump! We made it a home though.

Now the apartment wasn't falling into the ground and we had no critter issues, but it just never felt like home. All the bizarre things we have endured in our rental history may have been quirky, but it still feeled like home. No matter how hard we tried, our apartment here never had that feeling. I felt like a guest and an uninvited one at that. I would have to believe that it is partly to do with the fact that we started building our house in November- we knew we were out of there, we just had to wait. Thankfully, with three kids, time is constantly flying by. Between school schedules, play rehearsals and prepping for the move, time did go by quickly. Here we are, one full week under our belts in the new house and we couldn't be happier.

We did have a small delay in getting into the house- two weeks. I decided to take the kids on a post-school adventure. We moved all the way out here to explore more and take advantage of the beauty we are surrounded by. We loaded all our camping gear into the car, took the dog, left the husband and drove to the Grand Canyon. I was about Raichlen's age when I first saw the canyon. I have a very vivid memory of that trip. My memories consist of me, so very car sick, throwing up on the side of the canyon roads. I was really looking forward to seeing the canyon, vomit free and giving my children the memories of seeing something so awe-inspiring. Thankfully, our trip was completely vomit-free and full of exploration. Each of the kids had different takeaways. It was really fun talking about their expectations of this magnificent landmark and then their thoughts after seeing it. The older kids both agreed that it was way bigger than they imagined. Raichlen expected there to be a bridge to the other side. I can't wait to go back sans doggo and take the kids for a hike into the canyon.

We enjoyed four amazing days in the pine-covered Kaibab National Forest. We stayed at an awesome Koa Kampground. I was able to rest and recharge my batteries while the kids were able to romp around in nature. This is our second stay at a KOA since arriving here in Arizona, and I have to say we are getting hooked! The campgrounds are super clean and the amenities for kiddos is great! I offered to take the kids to all sorts of local attractions but they only wanted to stay at the campground. I was not going to complain! I did manage to get the kids to wander around the town of Williams a little for some shopping.

Once we arrived back in Phoenix, from our trip, we were able to stay at my inlaws home while we awaited our closing date. The big kids started tech week for their show and time literally flew by! The kids completed six amazing shows of Singing In The Rain with Pinnacle Creative Arts, took a day of rest before we received our keys and started moving into our new home. My kids are pretty much legendary at this point. This year has challenged and stretched these kids to new limits and they have taken it all in better than I would have at their ages. I know we are all feeling a lot more settled in our life here in Arizona. There are still struggles, and we all miss "home" dearly, however, one year later, I'd say we are doing pretty well!

I'm anxious to get the kids out exploring a ton more this summer- we only have seven weeks left until school starts! I will do my best to keep you updated on our adventures- hopefully we will have a decent internet connection soon.



Happy Summer Adventures!
Courtney


Friday, May 11, 2018

Gluten Free? Here is the place to be this June! #GFAFEXPO

I am so excited to be planning our 5th year as a blogger for the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo. This expo has become a great place for Owen and me to escape the craziness of our daily lives and spend time together. It has become a very safe place for Owen to let loose and be himself. I can see as he ages that living a different life than his peers is getting harder. He is starting to want to cheat and see what happens, he is starting to decide that gluten-free foods are not as good as regular foods, I'd like to personally thank his sister for putting that into his head. Being at the expo, Owen doesn't have to deal with criticism or the feelings of being any different than other kids there. If anything he starts to realize how easy he has it only being gluten-free.
One thing I am excited about this year is learning about more nut-free food available. All three of the kids will be switching to a new school next year and the campus is 100% nut free! I love that this school takes special attention to make sure kids with severe allergies are learning in a safe environment. I need to up my nut-free game this next year and learn some more about gluten-free and nut-free lunch options.
If you are looking for a great place to escape the heat, you really should head to the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo. You will find a fun place to stay cool, meet awesome brands, learn a ton in the workshops and meet new friends! Even if you are not Gluten free or have any food allergies, chances are you know someone who is and you would benefit greatly from an expo like this. Imagine the impact you can have on your child's friend with allergies if you are knowledgeable and can host them without worry! I tell you it has been amazing with school friends parents understand and go the extra mile to make my child feel included, I want to always give the same respect back to those with other allergies.

In this day, we are not going to get away from allergies anytime soon- Why not jump in with both feet and learn how you can make a difference? Join me June 23-24th at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa (Media Center). I promise you will have fun and leave with a ton of knowledge and swag!

Grab your tickets now! Purchase before 5/22 and save 30% use code EARLYBIRD! Just click here to buy your tickets today! 

See you at the Expo!

~Courtney

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

12 things in almost 12 months.

Attempt number 653. I may be a little off, but needless to say, there are several attempts saved here to get this blog back up and running. I have no idea how I was able to manage this blog so well back with the kids were tiny. I guess those naptimes were extremely useful. That being said, what is my excuse since the kids are all in school full time? Yikes. I think guilt is my main culprit. I feel incredibly guilty if I am sitting down during my day. I must keep moving, cleaning, planning, organizing and prepping. At least that is what I tell myself. It's pressure I put on myself. It is a little excessive and unrealistic. One of these days I will learn to fully let go of these imaginary expectations. I'm hoping that as I do, I bring you along. But before I move forward into newness, I would love to catch you up on all that has gone on. We have learned a lot over the past 11 months since uprooting our lives voluntarily and relocating to a brand new city. Here are 11 key things we have learned.

1.  At the end of the day, We will never regret moving near our family. Watching our kids bond with their grandparents has brought so much joy. Being able to help our parents out when needed is such a blessing. After 10 years living away from our parents, we are taking full advantage of this new closeness.

2. Finding a good school is really hard! I realize I am super picky, but our children's education is extremely important to us. We found some decent schools for this year, however, I am very excited about the kids' school they will be starting in the fall-a huge bonus- all three will be attending the same school, different campuses.

3. Middle school still stinks. It doesn't just stink- it is downright horrible. My kid received an education well beyond any classroom walls this year. The era of cellphones and social media creates a perfect storm for middle schoolers. Yes, you hear about cyberbullying, but let me tell you these kids are into far worse things. The amount of vulgar language, porn obsession, drug references, and drinking is mind-blowing. Kids now have two accounts- one for parents to see and typically one that flies under the radar. Take caution, these accounts are beyond anything you could ever imagine for 11, 12 and 13-year-olds.

4.  Kids are brave. Meeting new people, learning new places, navigating through school halls ways and neighborhoods is challenging and scary. Kids may feel nervous and shy, but they push themselves and are brave little souls.

5. Arizona is so much more than a desert. Drive an hour and you will be in a completely different terrain. We are officially State Park and National Park pass holders and are chomping at the bit to visit as many parks as possible.

6. Broken bones are no joke. Since moving here we have experienced our first broken limb. I was taken by surprise the full extent of an injury like the one we had. Owen broke his tibia over Christmas break, thinking he would be back to normal in a reasonable time was completely unrealistic. We are at 5 months and counting...physical therapy 2x per week.

7. For the love of all things good and glorious, why is there not better coffee in Phoenix? I guess you could say we were extremely spoiled in Milwaukee, but we really need to find amazing coffee, preferably locally roasted too.

8. Palm trees never get old. Every time I look up they catch my breath. I smile and think to myself, "I can't belive I live here."

9. Arizona has horrible drivers.  I really thought I'd be moving away from the horrible Milwaukee drivers, but no I dare say Arizona drivers are just as bad. For the record though, Milwaukee is the only city I have watched a man drive backward as though it was completely normal, staying in his lane and minding traffic lights. What we have noticed is the merging is a foreign concept here as well as planning ahead for lane changes. Other than the driving, the people are friendly and the city is nice. There are little things here and there that are different from what we are used to in the Midwest, but overall other than driving issues, the people are very nice.

10. Apartment living has its perks, but I'd rather not do it again. It has been convenient and a good place to call home temporarily. However, losing the freedom of a neighborhood is really hard. The boys are very limited in their outside playspace, needless to say, their playing has caused many complaints over the past 11 months. No longer can they ride bikes freely, run through a backyard or get too loud playing at the pool. Believe me when I say we are counting the days to moving day! We are currently at 19 days.

11. Building a house is flippin' fantastic! As much as we all miss our Story Hill home, I can't wait to get into our brand spanking home. This house is going to be clean and exactly the way we wanted. I loved that old house, but let me tell you the obsessive cleaner in me could not for the life of me get over the fact that there was 100 years of dirt in those floorboards!

12. Hiking is life. I'm so happy to be back in the mountains. I could (and have) spent hours a week wandering the trails. No matter how ofter you go there is always something new to see and a different trail to venture out on. I'm pretty impressed with how many miles I have put on my shoes and can't wait to break in my newest pair!

There are way more things that I could share, but there is more time for that later,

Courtney