"Eventually all the pieces fall into place....
until then, laugh at the confusion,
live for the moment, and know that everything
happens for a reason"

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Racism Is Not Okay

Racism is not okay. To me, it never has been. Some people are raised in racist environments but I wasn't. The first time I heard the "N word", I had to go home and ask my mom what it meant. Even then, in elementary school, I didn't understand. That word, or any other racial slur, wasn't used in our house.

As I got older, I learned all sorts of racial slurs including being called a "cracker". It goes both ways. When Paul and I first started dating, he used the "N word" all the time. He didn't use it in a racial sense, but somehow he'd allowed it to be a part of common phrases that had nothing to do with race. Still, I felt it was wrong. Like a cuss word, I didn't want him using it around me. It was offensive, regardless of it's meaning to him, and it made me uncomfortable. I haven't heard him say that word in 7 years. Racism is not okay.

In college, I overheard tons of conversations about "towel head" professors who graded their tests too hard, or were impossible to understand. During my nursing school clinicals, I had a black family who made fun of me as I learned, called me a "whitey" and wouldn't speak to me but would only  answer the questions of the black nurse I was working with. Racism is not okay.

When Paul and I moved here, we stopped along our route for supper in a small town along the interstate. When we walked in, we were the only white people among a crowd of Native Americans. Turns out, we had come upon an Indian reservation and there was definite tension. I haven't quite figured out which race dislikes the other race more, but we've been told to steer clear of the reservations. Racism is not okay.

And yesterday, in an event that inspired this post, a man working at the restaurant we were eating at called Mexicans "wetbacks" and then laughed. It was inappropriate and uncalled for and offensive to me. Racism it not okay.

I wish race didn't have to be an issue. If you don't like someone, fine. I don't like everyone either. But when I don't like someone it's because of their personality, their actions or their attitude not because of the color of their skin. How can we act like EVERYONE in a race can represent the same personalities, beliefs and attitudes? Believe me, I don't want MY character to be judge based off of how other white people act! Just saying.

Racism is not okay. I just wanted you to know....

Love and Happiness,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Be Entertained By Your Problems

You know those rough times in your life when someone says, "One day you'll look back on this and laugh"? And all you're thinking is, "Are you kidding me? This will never be funny." I've been there. And now I see that it's true. With time, things aren't always as dramatic or life changing and definitely not as serious as we think that they are. With time, and a good sense of humor, you will look back and laugh about some of the hardest things you go through. 

Time. Just like they say...it flies by. It's been just about 6 months since Paul and I were packing up all of our things into a PODS, having no idea when or where we'd be moving to a new home. It was all pretty rough for me. I had tons of emotions that included anger at our nasty landlord for kicking us out, frustration with our bank lender for misleading us on our loan status and closing date, sadness because I was leaving my wonderful co-workers, happiness that I was leaving my job, fear that we were essentially homeless and excitement because we were about to start our biggest adventure yet. Talk about overload. I literally thought that our lives were turning upside down. And even though Paul and I have a pretty good sense of humor, we had some rough times in the past 6 months. 

But just the other day, Paul and I were talking about our trip to Charleston. This of course led to the conversation about my jellyfish sting that was so bad and then the memories of those last 10 days in our apartment flooded my mind. I couldn't help but laugh uncontrollably as I kept saying, "Do you remember such and such?" and Paul laughing his funny faced laugh and adding details of our unfortunate but now funny situation. 

You see, in those last 10 days Paul and I camped out in our empty living room on an air mattress with nothing but a TV propped on a box and 2 lawn chairs. That was it. Everything else had been packed away. Piles of clothes were folded in the floor because we had no furniture to keep in it. We ate everything on paper plates with plastic forks and when my jellyfish sting turned into a moderate allergic reaction, we had to fish through boxes to find benadryl and benadryl cream. 

For some reason, we found it all so funny as we talked about it. But you see, it wasn't funny then. Then, it was a tragic life event deserving of a good cry...not a good laugh. But that's what time does. Time changes things. And a good sense of humor doesn't hurt.

Love and Happiness,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mama Moose, Baby Moose and Bighorn Sheep

Wildlife is everywhere we look.

When we moved here I was hoping that we'd have a neighborhood moose that just lounged in peoples yards. That didn't happen. I was a little bummed, to be honest.

But, I moved on and we've enjoyed seeing lots of wildlife on nearly every drive we take. Mostly we see deer. Lots of deer. They travel in packs or herds or gaggles, just kidding not gaggles, and don't particularly care about cars. One day we rode for 5 minutes behind several deer who preferred to walk down the middle of the road instead of beside it. They say we'll get tired of deer always being in our way but as of now, we still think it's pretty cool.

One time, on our way to a friends house for dinner, we pulled up on a group of pronghorn antelope. Not in a field, not on the side of a road. Right there in our friend's front yard eating his grass. He told us that they in fact do have neighborhood antelope that hang around like an outdoor group of pets. Jealous. Maybe we should look into buying a house in that neighborhood.

On our way to West Yellowstone we looked into a field and saw lots of elk. And when I say "lots", I mean thousands. You probably think I'm exaggerating but I'm not. They lined both sides of the road for   miles in huge groupings. There were so many that we just pulled over on the side of the road and watched them for a while. Supposedly, they come down from the mountains to eat in the fields. It was amazing.

Big horn sheep are a big deal here. People hunt them and they are supposedly commonly found in the mountains nearby. We'd never seen one until we were coming back from Yellowstone. Sure enough, these sheep were just hanging out on the side of a mountain, or in the road. We, of course, stopped to take pictures. I'm sure we annoy the cars behind us, but I don't care.

We also saw a wolverine. Did you know that wolverines and wolves are 2 very different animals. I didn't. I thought wolf was short for wolverine. That's wrong. Don't judge me. Anyways, we saw this wolverine, not knowing exactly what is was and were pretty excited. I mean, when you see an animal and have no idea what it is...you get real excited. Anyways...

Mostly, I've wanted to see a moose since we've been here. I was SURE we'd see one on our snowmobiling trip so when we didn't, I was bummed. So, on our entire drive home I scanned the river banks and mountain sides for a moose. Finally, I see this big brown thing. Could it be? We couldn't stop right where we saw it, so we parked down the road and walked back. When we got there, it was gone. Are you serious!? Thankfully, Paul spotted the moose in the woods. Turns out it was a baby moose! My excitement quickly turned to fear when I realized we were standing 30 feet from a baby moose and we didn't see it's mama. Then, this huge moose slowly appeared and stepped out of the woods towards us. She was big and beautiful and not upset at all with us. It was such an amazing moment. Bucket list item "see moose in the wild" can now be crossed off.

Baby moose is behind that tree on the right!

Oh, and there are bison here. I think they're kind of ugly but still cool to see.

Love and Happiness,

Snowmobiling Trip and Scenic Detours

Paul and I are just having too much fun. Every weekend it's something different...skiing, day trips, scenic drives, hockey games and sledding. Our latest adventure was a roundabout road trip to West Yellowstone for a full day of snowmobiling!

Weeks before Valentine's Day we started talking about making special plans. I didn't have much in mind, just our typical dinner and alone time at the house, but Paul was wanting to do something a little more special. When he realized that President's Day fell the weekend after Valentine's, he came up with the brilliant plan to snowmobile in West Yellowstone for the long weekend. I was so excited!

You see, West Yellowstone is known as the snowmobiling capital of the world and it's beautiful there. Miles and miles of groomed trails winding through snow covered trees, venturing to tops of mountains and running by picturesque streams. Another reason I love it so much is because we went there on our honeymoon! I'm a sucker for nostalgia and I couldn't wait to go again.

We headed out on Saturday morning towards West Yellowstone. The drive would take about 3 hours if we drove it straight but what's the fun in that? My mom bought us yet another book detailing scenic day trips and back-roads of Montana. (The teacher in her keeps our bookshelves stocked.) We picked a route along the way and detoured to some really cool places. We stopped frequently to take pictures or explore and it ended up taking us all day to make it to Yellowstone.

The drive itself was beautiful. I took way to many pictures of the same mountains, over and over again. At every different angle they would get prettier and prettier. Our detour took us through tiny little towns and back-roads that turned to gravel. Soon, road signs disappeared and after consulting a few different maps and our GPS we made it to our first destination: Renova Hot Springs. There are lots of hot springs around here; most of which have been tapped and fill swimming pools or hot tubs. Renova Hot Springs was nothing like that. This hot spring is a local spot in the middle of nowhere. There is no fee and the water levels and temperature are determined solely by nature. People have arranged circles of rocks to contain the hot water bubbling out of the ground and the icy cold river water mixes to make the water cool enough to get in. Sure enough, the water was hot despite the river being frozen up stream. I'd never seen or felt a hot spring so I thought it was very cool.

Next, we ventured through several other tiny towns to make it to our next stop. Ghost towns are all over out here. The gold rush created these cities and eventually they emptied out. Nevada City and Virginia City are these restored ghost towns, full of history and original buildings. It was so interesting. It's "off season" still so nothing was open. It truly felt like a ghost town. Hotels, stores, house and banks were all abandoned. We peeked through the windows and they are full of memorabilia from those times. We can't wait to go back in the summer when tourism in these little towns are in full swing.

We finally made it to West Yellowstone around supper time and settled into our hotel. On Sunday morning we headed out on our snowmobiling adventure. When we came on our honeymoon it snowed heavily all day. There were certain trails we couldn't go on because it was too dangerous in the heavy snow but on this trip the weather was perfect and we got to take some extra trails that were extra beautiful. It was perfect and beautiful and so much fun!

Monday morning we headed back towards Helena, but in a different direction than we came. This time we drove through Yellowstone Park for several miles and then detoured to Big Sky to drive around our honeymoon resort. We drove by our cabin that we spent our honeymoon in and explored the mountain roads. I loved, loved, loved being where we spent our honeymoon. It brought back such vivid memories of our incredible trip and I couldn't get over how lucky I felt that we lived so close to the place that inspired us to move here.

We really do feel lucky and blessed that we're getting this chance to be out here, exploring and making the most of every moment. The memories we're making will last a lifetime and all time we say, "I'm so glad we came."

Love and Happiness,