The Special Olympics Montana Spring Games 2017 took place this past week on the University of Montana campus, in Missoula, MT. This is the first year I was able to go to the event with my team. Even though I have been coaching track and field for a few years I always had a scheduling conflict. This was also my first year coaching the adults (Purple Hornets) track and field team. We had such a great but exhausting time because we went non-stop for four days. Jordyn accompanied me for this trip too which quadrupled my level of tired. Ha! We took a charter bus to Missoula, MT for the games. It was Jordyn’s first time on a bus trip and she loved it. Between seeing the animals outside and movies playing on the bus, she loved every second.
Yesterday, I attended the Women’s March in Helena, MT. It was such a beautiful and empowering day. I marched with my friends, Charelle and Stephani, and we had such a great time. One of my favorite parts of the march was seeing how many women, specifically white women, were holding up signs with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and #NativeLivesMatter. Considering the very small population of Black people in Montana, and the usual mistreatment of Natives, it was beautiful to see so many allies. I hope this causes more allies for both movements and that we will see a march of this size, by women from all over, at the next Black Lives Matter march/protest. My favorite part of the march yesterday was a special Native America n ceremony and song. It was powerful and sent chills through your body. Oh, and did I mention they estimated approximately ten thousand people showed up yesterday? Yeah, it was intense and insane.Read More
Happy thankful Thursday, everyone! It’s been about six weeks since we first found out our beloved German Shepherd, Ares, has lymphoma. Lymphoma is cancer which causes the lymph-nodes all over the body to swell up. Without treatment they eventually swell up until they’re too large for the dog to handle and have to be put down. Read More
Last week Thursday, November 10th, through Saturday, November 12th, was the annual Special Olympics Montana statewide basketball tournament. All of the Special Olympics basketball teams from all over the state, meet up in one Montana town, to compete against one another. The competition consists of 5-on-5 basketball, 3-on-3 basketball, and individual skills competitions. This year was my first year coaching the adults. As nervous as I was to make the switch, I had the time of my life, and met even more amazing people. This is also the first year I coached a 3-on-3 team and we walked away with the silver medal in our division!
It all started with the fun opening ceremonies where my team and I partied hard and got pumped up for the weekend. We cheered, celebrated, danced, hugged, and showed every other emotion possible to get ready for the days ahead of us. They were ready to compete and it made me happy to see them show up ready and prepared for the upcoming games.
As usual, we had the annual dinner, carnival, and dance, and it seems to be more fun every passing year. I danced until I couldn’t dance anymore with my team and some of my old kiddos from the previous team I coached. We ate plenty of candy at the carnival too, but we drank water with the candy so that counts for something, right? Ha!
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone for Spring games next year. I will be coaching track & field, so watch out world, the Hornets (team purple) will be back in a few months. Until then, we will all rest up and eat plenty of delicious foods for the holidays. Oh, and I guess a few of them will be doing Winter sports in between that time too. 😉
As part of my #ThankfulNovember posts for this month, this is the perfect opportunity to say how thankful I am for the Special Olympics organization, the awesome athletes, coaches, and parents. It’s really easy to get caught up in all the negativity happening around us, that it’s a nice reminder to go somewhere like this tournament, filled with so much happiness and pride. Volunteering with this organization you often hear people compliment you for dedicating your time, but if only you knew how much the people, and organization impact my life. They make me a better person. They make me push myself in all aspects of life. They are my role models. And for that: I’m thankful.
Happy Monday folks! I hope this week started off great for you!
Happy and blessed Sunday, everybody! I hope you all enjoyed your first Sunday of September 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s already September isn’t it? We’re officially 75% done with the year 2016. I know, I freaked out a little when I sat back and thought about it in terms of percentages too. Anyway…Read More
Happy Monday everyone! It is the day after Valentine’s Day, and I hope this past weekend was a great start to your week. If you’re one of the lucky folks, you have today off for, President’s Day. We had a very simple but perfect Valentine’s Day weekend. We decided to go to dinner on Saturday evening to avoid the crowd on the actual day, and not only was the food good, but a couple we met while in line waiting for our food paid for our meal. I’m still smiling due to their enormously sweet gesture towards two strangers. We bought them a bottle of wine to thank them for their generousity. They insisted it wasn’t necessary but we wanted to let them know how much we appreciated what they did for our little family. They shared and spread more love to others and that is what Valentine’s Day is all about.
On Sunday we decided to hang out and relax as a family. One of my husband’s favorite foods is cinnamon rolls so I decided to make him some, from scratch, using a recipe I found on Pinterest. They turned out super yummy and took SO long to make! But he was happy and that made me happy. He bought Jordyn a teddy bear and a pink soccer ball for her Valentine’s Day gifts and she LOVED them. When she saw her ball in his hands, her face lit up, and she yelled “BALL”! It was absolutely adorable. Jordyn made her Dad a beautiful canvas painting with her hand prints and message saying “I <3 DAD” for his gift. Dad loved it. 🙂
Later that evening we went to the community center on base to play some basketball, and run around the gym with Jordyn, before we came back home to make/eat a homemade heart shaped pizza, and watch a movie together.
I got my Valentine’s Day gift from the hubby earlier this morning when I went to a local spa/salon to have a two hour, Caribbean Spa Treatment, done. I can’t think of a word strong enough to explain how amazing this treatment was so I’ll just use GLORIOUS. It was a much needed and much appreciated Valentine’s Day gift from the hubby. He is the best.
Whether you spent the holiday with a significant other, friends, family, or even by yourself, I hope you felt and shared love in the process. Valentine’s Day is all about love and there is more than one way to love, show love, and spread love. I hope you are all recharged and enjoying your evening. Have a happy rest of your day and even though it still isn’t Valentine’s Day, tell someone you love them, today.
I’m sure you read the title of this article and figured it would have to do with the MANY diversity and racial issues going on in the United States right now. However, this is more so a open letter or venting session of how hard it is to be a Black woman living in Montana sometimes.
I haven’t had any aggressive or negative run ins with people of any color here in Montana due to my skin color. This, unfortunately, is not the same story for my husband, but that’ll be a topic for another day. If anything, Montanans have been genuinely some of the nicest people I’ve met in my 27 years of life. People smile and speak when they walk by you, and most even stop to ask you how your day is going, and expect a response! Crazy, right? This is still something I’m adjusting to coming from living in Chicago prior to living here where people don’t even make eye contact with you let alone truly care enough to speak and ask you how you’re doing. I share this information before getting into what I want to vent about because I don’t want to paint Montana as some unfair, terrible, place to live, when in reality…my life in Montana isn’t too bad. But at the end of the day, I still live in Montana, and as I’m sure most of you know, Montana isn’t know to be home to many people of color or much…diversity.
Montana lacks diversity so much that when we go out to eat people usually automatically apply the military discount to our bill because we’re Black, dining in Montana, and the only explanation of us being here is the military LOL. I’m reminded every time we go visit another city or state how much I miss seeing people of ALL colors on a daily basis. When we first moved into our house here on base and met our first set of neighbors, apparently she shouted to her husband (who is Mexican), with excitement, “WE HAVE BLACK NEIGHBORS”! Hahaha! To this day this is one of my favorite stories, but one of the saddest at the same time, because seeing a Black person in Montana is like seeing a unicorn. I have a handful of other stories like this one from run-ins with other people of color who were happy to see another one of “us” lol.
However, the hardest part of living in a place that lacks diversity, are the lack of culturally different activities and lifestyles around us. I sometimes get jealous seeing my Facebook friends and Instagram and Twitter followers post pictures of RSVPs to concerts and events I know I wouldn’t be able to find in the entire state of Montana. Some examples are R&B/Neo-Soul concerts, blues/jazz lounges, festivals, upscale evening lounges, restaurants, etc. When you live in a place where diversity is lacking you miss out on all of these amazing things to do, and see, which add appreciation and cultural value to our lives. Do you all know how much I took having authentic Thai and Caribbean restaurants within 10 minutes from my apartment in Chicago? Do you know how much I appreciate walking into a Mexican restaurant and seeing a menu in Spanish and seeing an all Mexican staff cooking my food? Do you know how much I would love to go to a Jill Scott concert for a date night with my husband instead of the two options we have here of dinner and/or a movie? Do you know much it means to walk down the street, through a store, or drive by people of all colors, ethnicities, shapes and sizes? For my friends who live in places that offer all of these options and then some, take a minute to just soak up the beauty that is diversity surrounding you.
As a military wife I try my hardest not to complain to my husband (in a non-joking manner) because I know he is/we are here because it is what is needed for our family at this moment. I also try to remind myself of the countless military spouses whose loved one is overseas or died serving this country before I complain. As upsetting as it is some days that I’m not surrounded by everything I want I remind myself I have everything I need. I know there are plenty of people who would trade places with me if it meant being with their loved ones everyday. Sometimes it’s hard to not be selfish and think about what I want, but I’m human. However, I feel it is important, no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live to be exposed to life outside of your little bubble. It’s much harder to understand someone else’s life and experiences if you’ve never had the opportunity to explore their culture and lifestyle.
As much as Montanans love their bejeweled flare legged jeans, cowboy boots, country music, hunting, rodeos, and cowboy hats…I miss professional sports, multi-cultural authentic food, big name concerts, date night in a little black dress, and round trip plane tickets for under $200. But the upside of being a military wife also means this won’t be my location forever, but man, it sure does feel like forever when diversity is missing.
Yesterday evening the weather here in Montana was finally above freezing passed 5pm. This means we were able to finally take Jordyn out to play in the snow for the first time, ever. Man oh man, did she enjoy herself! We were curious if she was going to like it at all (confused, too cold, unimpressed etc.) but she LOVED it. It only took her less than 10 minutes to figure out what her favorite part was: eating the snow. The story behind her tasting the snow for the first time is pretty funny too. She was walking in a deeper part of the snow and fell forward. While lying face down in the snow she decided to give it a lick and the rest is history LOL.
Jordyn wasn’t the only “child” of ours who enjoyed running and playing in the snow either. Ares, was having the time of his life chasing after his ball and was rather confused at me throwing snow balls at him. Now that I think about it, so was Jordyn, because every time I threw a snow ball at her she gave me this look like “okaaay” then proceeded to eat the snow. I did however enjoy throwing snowballs at my husband. (And yes, I threw snowballs at my one and a half year old and the dog 😉 )
We hung out and played in the snow until little miss Jordyn’s cheeks (and nose) turned a nice rose color. However, if she would have had it her way we would’ve stayed out there for another two hours. She didn’t want to walk inside the house because she knew that meant play time was over haha. It’s supposed to snow again sometime this week. Hopefully the temperature stays above freezing again so we can go out there and play again.
Have a great Tuesday evening everybody!
Kris, Jordyn and I were lucky enough to have my Mother-in-law a.k.a. Grandma Toni, here in Montana with us for about a month and a half. We really enjoyed having her here and we are so sad she had to leave us. Jordyn especially loved having her Grandma Toni here to follow EVERYWHERE like she was her little shadow. Jordyn adores her Grandma Toni (because Grandmas are always the superstars) and I’m sure she’s wondering where she is, and why she didn’t get to see her this morning.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the classic Mother-in-law horror stories, but I’m one of the select few who can brag about not only having an awesome mother-in-law, but a great relationship with her as well. As always when we’re together we always have such great, in-depth, conversations about life in general. It was especially nice to have an adult to talk to during the day while Kris is at work and I’m hanging with the munchkin. All of my fellow SAHMs (stay at home Moms) understand what I mean! Oh, did I mention how much she HELPED us around the house. I think I’ve done the dishes and laundry ONCE since she’s been here, and I’m not going to lie…I got spoiled rotten. While she was doing the dishes last night I said to her “I’m going to have to start doing my own dishes again” in the most pathetic sounding voice ever LOL.
From bath time, to potty training, to hanging out in the man cave watching movies on the projector and sharing popcorn together, Jordyn and her Grandma were able to create a lot of fun memories. I’m sure the little munchkin will expect Mom (as she calls me) to keep most of these fun traditions up now that Grandma has gone back home. However, she will surely miss Grandma Toni’s cell phone (and sharing Sesame Street videos to Grandma Toni’s Facebook wall LOL) because Mom isn’t as willing to let her play with hers since she broke Mom’s last phone -_-.
One of the hardest parts of being a military family is being based so far away from family and friends. You would think as many times as we have visitors we would get used to the “see you laters” but in all honesty they only get harder. Being married, and even more so, being parents, you learn exactly how much family means to you, and how much you took them for granted when they lived up the street. Thankfully, it is 2016, and we have amazing technology that allows us to be closer to loved ones even when they’re hundreds of miles away. There will be plenty of Facetime calls and Facebook posts until we are able to see each other again. (Prayerfully sooner than later!)
Thanks again for spending so much time with us, Grandma Toni. We are surely going to miss you around here. Safe travels back to Illinois, and we all love and miss you already. Try not to be too sad, because although it’s extremely hard to be so far away from each other, we’re blessed to have people to love and miss as much as we love and miss each other.
We love you!
Now that we’re in the year 2016 I wanted to make a list consisting of 16 goals to accomplish this year. I chose sixteen goals because who’s really going to write out two thousand and sixteen goals? Exactly. But in all seriousness I like to brainstorm things I would like to accomplish or improve, write them down, and hold myself accountable to these goals. I refuse to call them resolutions because goals that are taken seriously and strategically planned out tend to drive me more than the cliche new year resolutions ever will.
These are the sixteen goals I wish to accomplish in 2016:
1) Bi-Monthly Food Box
Now that I am getting into couponing I want to be able to bless others as well. I would like to put together a food box at the very least every other month to donate to a local family in need. It’s not major, but it’s a step in the right direction towards helping others beyond volunteer work in 2016.
2) Potty Train Jordyn
I’m pretty sure this is pretty understandable to those who have and don’t have children. However, we would like to talk about another child in 2017 (yes a whole year from now) but the conversation won’t even begin until Jordyn is fully potty trained.
3) Pay Off (A) Major Debt
As your average millennial buried in wonderful college loans, I would like to eliminate some, if not all, debt unrelated to my college loans. I’m aiming for financial freedom as soon as possible.
4) Visit 3 States BESIDES Illinois
My husband and I both are from the surrounding Chicago suburbs. Which means we always to IL for vacations to see family. However, in 2016 I want to explore and travel more than around/to IL.
5) Squat 150+ lbs
Because we all know strong is the new skinny. 2015 has shown us being fit and in shape is more important than being skinny. I plan to work on conditioning and strength this year.
6) More Base Activities
Now that pretty much all of my close friends have moved to new bases and states I need to find more friends. Haha j/k (sort of) I want to be more involved in base activities in general because I believe as a military community it’s important to be an important part of the community.
7) Visit 1 New Montana City
I’ve lived in Montana for almost 4 years and there are many large/popular cities I have never been to yet. Since we live here we need to take advantage of the places around us this year.
8) Visit The White House
We are planning another trip to Washington D.C. to see friends this year since we did not make it there last year. I want to reschedule a White House tour because this is the last year President Obama will be in office.
9) Spend <$100 On Grocery Trip
I’m officially one of those crazy coupon people trying to learn the ways of the couponing professionals. A major goal of mine is to spend less than $100 on a usual two week grocery shopping trip. I believe in me!
10) Take A Cooking Class
I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class. It has always looked like so much fun and would be a perfect date night idea. The husband and I have to make this happen this year.
11) Grow Blog Subscribers By 100+
I currently have 75 subscribers to my blog and would like to grow this list by at least 100 more this year. This is a huge challenge, but it’s one I am up for!
12) Do More Volunteer Work
As most of you know I am a (now level 1 certified) basketball coach for Special Olympics Montana. However, I would like to spend more of my down time helping others vs. doing things selfishly for myself. Selfless vs. selfish is the motto.
13) Eat Cleaner
This goes right back to fit being the new skinny. I want to eat cleaner for my health and my appearance. 70% of losing weight and getting in shape is what we put in our bodies so I need to do better this year.
14) Monetize Blog
I haven’t gotten a lot more serious about blogging. Writing is something I love to do and I would love to merge my passion with my purpose and create a job from it. Who doesn’t want to make money doing what they love?
15) Take A Dance Class
I’m not just talking about any dance class, I want to take a professional ballroom dance class. Learn to salsa, foxtrot, merengue, swing dance…anything!
16) Go To A Concert
Unfortunately living in Montana means we don’t have many diverse, main stream artists come here to perform. This year I would love to go to a popular artist’s concert even if it means traveling to a bordering state to do so. Especially if the artist is worth the hype.
You have officially read my goals (and reasoning) for 2016. I will try my hardest to accomplish all of them this year. What are your personal goals this year? Share in the comments below!