Sometimes we realize there is something greater…

There are moments in our lives that can crush us to our core. Often times, there’s something that will happen that will open sealed wounds. And sometimes, we realize that there is something greater… something or someone watching over us.

I was driving home from dropping my son off at his VC POP Warner practice one night this past September. It wasn’t anything new to me since I did it 3 times a week. As I was driving on Cole Grade Rd headed back home towards the High School, I noticed a car stopped in the on-coming lane with their blinker on to turn onto Ava Ln. They were yielding to me coming down the road. Just as quickly as I noticed them stopped, I noticed a car coming up quickly behind them. Before I could even process how fast they were going, they were headed straight for me in my lane. The person driving the car wasn’t paying attention and hadn’t noticed the car stopped with their blinker on to turn and they swerved to miss slamming into the back of the stopped car. They swerved in the on-coming lane- where I was. I quickly reacted and had to slam on my brakes and turn into the dirt embankment to miss them from hitting me head on in a 55mph zone. They missed hitting me, but not before smashing into the corner of the stopped car. All I heard were tires screeching and a loud crash. I had been spared, but that yielding car wasn’t so lucky.

I was extremely concerned about the people that had been hit, so I turned my truck around and rushed to make sure they were okay. Upon arrival of their car, I noticed two older women sitting still. I asked if they were okay, to which I heard one woman say very much discombobulated, “we think we are”. They were clearly in shock as to what just happened. The driver grabbed her phone and dialed 911 to report the accident as I proceeded to check on the person who had hit them. Luckily, she was okay and was able to get out of her very smashed car.

Looking back now on what happened makes me realize there was something more. Something beyond myself there, protecting those who were involved. I keep replaying it in my head- how much worse it could have been…

Jason Armstrong was a local Valley Center resident who attended Orange Glen High School down the hill from Valley Center. He was struck and killed by a passing car who failed to stop while Jason started to cross the street from getting off of his school bus one afternoon. This happened off of Cole Grade Road back in 1995, he was in the 10th grade. Jason Armstrong died by the street he lived on, Ava Ln.

Many long time VC residents may remember this tragedy as it made a huge impact on our community. I was only 11 at the time and didn’t personally know this story until a few years later when I started school at VCHS in 1998. It was a story that many knew and talked about over the years. As much damage was done by an event like this, a lot of positivity came from it as well. The Jason Armstrong Memorial Scholarship would go on to raise $100,000 in his memory over the years for High School seniors who were involved with farming, 4-H and FFA programs. His memory is held up by the protocols in place today for school bus safety (you’ve seen those red flashing lights and STOP signs, right?!) and those of us who continue to spread awareness of this issue.

Fast forward 26 years later, I found myself standing alongside Cole Grade Rd. facing Ava Ln. talking to two woman who were just hit by a driver not paying attention. While I stood there helping with what I could, an older gentleman approached the scene concerned and wanting to know what happened. I began to tell him what I witnessed and what happened. We began to chat about the circumstances of accidents like this one and how lucky I was that I was paying attention. He was a kind, sweet man and he began to tell me about his truck driving years and the driving techniques that most kids nowadays are not taught. He complimented me on my truck handling skills to which I gave credit to my driving instructor that I had in school, Mr. Swartz. We also talked about another accident that happened just up the road from where we stood back when I was in school at VCHS. He told me he was the first on the scene at that accident because it happened right in front of his farm. He explained that he heard the crash and ran out to help. It was at this moment that I felt something come over me as we stood there in conversation. I looked at him while he paused and took a deep breath- he began to tell me about his son who was killed just feet away from where we were standing. My whole body became engulfed with what I can only describe as grief. As he stumbled with his words, he began to well up with emotion while he pointed out the spot across the street to me. He became quiet for a moment and I softly asked him what his sons name was and he proudly responded “Jason”.

We exchanged some more words with one another until the EMT’s arrived. I stood there, healthy and without a scratch and heard the heart-breaking words from a father’s own anguished mouth. His wife, Jason’s mom, was one of the women in the car that had been hit, right in front of their street.

As the hours past and I arrived safely back home I couldn’t help but shake that feeling of grief and sadness. I had been given a glimpse of it from a man whose wound was still just as deep as the day it happened. I had exchanged some messages the next day with the wife and made sure she and her friend were alright, I had shared that I had been thinking about and praying for them through the night.

There are moments in our lives that can crush us to our core. Often times, there’s something that will happen that will open sealed wounds. And sometimes, we realize that there is something greater… something or someone watching over us.

I knew in my heart someone was watching over us all during that accident. It wasn’t until I stood there on the side of the road and heard the story about Jason that I knew who it was… and if you believe in that, I think we can agree on it.

There are such stories, history and people that make this community what it is. Even after 26 years from that tragic day, there are still bonds that were created from it, tightening and woven into this town. We can’t go back and change it- but we can continue to live in awareness and we can make sure that this never happens again in our town. It took me a missed accident to remember how unique this town is. May it be a reminder for you- you never know who might cross your path on any given day- so be kind.

Justified- a parenting win!

Justified- a parenting win!

“Mom! Why are you crying!?” Reilly, my teenage son, says to me followed by an awkward laugh. His curiosity isn’t too far off… yes, I was crying and for reasons that would take years to explain- 14 years in fact. I shrugged it off and whimpered “I’m proud of you, Reilly” followed by a ritual a mom and teenage son do best, the classic fist bump.

You see, if you know my journey with my son you would know exactly why I was crying. I have no hidden lurking shadows in parenting my oldest son. I’ve been an open book at our struggles- just go back and read my blog posts, especially “An aggressive researcher”. It’s a small glimpse into my parenting journey.

There you will read about a mom who struggled to the core. A mom who spent countless hours being mind fucked with questions on how her son would turn out. A mom who sobbed uncontrollably for hours at night alone when no one was around to see or hear. A mom who was broken-hearted after every single parent-teacher, doctors, therapist and psychologist meetings. I felt defeated as a mom- to my utmost core. I would cry out during my showers in hopes that God would surely hear me. I was pushed to the brink of every meeting I held. Countless meetings. Meetings that all ended the same- “there’s not much we can do. We don’t have the resources, in fact- in all honesty, he’s not going to even need to learn to spell or read anyway the way technology is progressing. It’s going to be obsolete.” And every “Here’s some medication that we think will help”.

As a mom and human being, I felt nothing but anger and rage in those moments. I knew without a shadow of doubt that there was something wrong and something more I could do. Those moments where I needed to up my game and seek more help than what the local Hawai’i schools and doctors could provide. But, I’m not wealthy. I can’t afford to send my children to a fancy prep school where the funds are there for children like mine. I felt trapped and pushed around. I was clearly up against a wall. Surely, his learning disabilities would be caught, seen and addressed a lot sooner had I had the resources. But, I didn’t. And damn did I try.

An astounding amount of people ask me “why would you move *FROM* Hawai’i *TO* California”. They ask in utter shock and awe with a snobby distaste. Like there’s no good explanation I can offer that will surely justify my reasoning. But I have one. Or two-

I was beginning to see my reasoning being justified when my son was immediately taken for testing upon my request to our local California School when we moved back. Then, justified even more so when he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Finally. Someone hears my cries! He was diagnosed with HDHD, Impulsivity disorder, and could barely read or write in Hawai’i, but that apparently wasn’t enough to get the district to give him the help he needed. This diagnosis came without shock. I knew he struggled with this, but to have medically trained doctors tell me was a sigh of relief.

Things were progressing and help was coming! I knew in my core Reilly was hindered with something. I always worked with him at home with reading and writing and I noticed early on a slight disadvantage within him. My concern was quickly disregarded in Hawai’i.

So deeply within me, I’m screaming “you can just fuck off with your whys and rolling eyes”.


But, clearly I still haven’t learned that I don’t need a “reason” or “justification” to do what I think is best for me and my family. I’m working on that.

However, when I watched my son, fist air pumping and smiling when they said his name for a Principals Award (which I learned is HIGHER than honor roll, I’m new at this!)-at that moment I did my own mental fist pump in the air screaming at the top of my lungs to all those times I hurt so deeply. I gave them a big FUCK YOU!!! Inwardly I did that. But outwardly, I ugly cried. Damn these confusing moments and my tendency to hold it all together.

I cried.

I ugly cried.

I’ve always lived within my emotions. Holding tight to them and never allowing them a glimpse of outward light. I’m typically as cold as this bourbon and coke i’m drinking right now, but I turn into mush when it comes to my children. I even just apologized to the concerned patrons I’m sitting next to on the airplane I’m on right now, because my tears are flowing just writing this. Luckily, my tears are soaked up with this mask I have on. And you know what? Surprisingly, the need to explain and justify my leaking face isn’t necessary. I’m shockingly okay with that. I’m holding on tight to this moment. Because in the future when I become and feel defeated again, I can honestly say that there is in fact, HOPE.

He’ll never fully understand the pain and hurt I have gone through as his mom. I took that oath when I gave life to him. To protect him- at all costs. Even if that cost is my emotional well-being. But with the pain, I have come out with a sense of pride. I never gave up. I pushed back when the times were the hardest. I stood my ground. I was his best advocate. And if you know me- you know I’m a freight train. A force to be reckoned with. Even at my breaking point, I’ve always mustered enough strength to hit it head on. Consistency. A never failing, never wavering, never going to take “No” from anyone. Especially when it comes to my kids.

I shall fight until I can’t fight anymore.

All the deep soul stomach aches, worth It. All worth it- when my son consoled me when I was ugly crying because he got the Principals Award for straight A’s. May he never know the pain and brutal endurance when he is a parent, but if he does- I believe that doing what I have done has made an impression on him. May it be the foundation of my strength and never wavering spirit that he takes with him into this world.

A mother’s love is deep- or so they say.

My hope is that one day when my son is old enough to process my writings, that he reads this with an understanding and love for his mom. A new awakening of the sacrifices I’ve made, the love I’ve given and finally realize where he got the “take shit from no one” personality he inherited.

Yes, son- you got it from your momma. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.

An open letter to Knotts Berry Farm

An open letter to Knotts Berry Farm

It happened two weeks ago, two weeks ago yesterday. The scariest thing I’ve ever been through. The most fear I’ve ever had to feel in my life. It wasn’t uneventful for me, nor the people I was with or the hundreds of others that went through the same thing that day- like the media wants you to think. The media and Cedar Fair (Knotts Berry Farm) won’t hear my side of the story unless I tell it. I don’t want to make it easy for them to sweep it under the rug like they are trying to do.

So, here’s my side of the story in a letter. Share if you’d like to.

Hello Cedar Fair Executives, Investors, Board Members and Media,

I am reaching out to express my concerns about an incident that occurred at Knotts Berry Farm Park on 7/9/2021.

“One man was yelling over the live band while running past us ‘THERE’S A SHOOTER IN THE PARK! HE’S GOT A GUN!!! He’s got a gun! Run! Run! Run!!!’ People were running in terror; for their lives at this point.” This is a part of what I want to share with you- the terror we experienced at one of your parks that day. 

But, before I do, I want to say that I have visited Knotts Berry Farm numerous times in my life and have always enjoyed my time there. I never had a reason to write a letter like this before, until now. My hope is that you will read this story and be compelled to make a change and acknowledge those of us that had to go through this. I’ll start at the beginning because I think it is a very crucial foundation of not feeling safe at your park that day.

Our group of 7 was very excited to finally take part in a fun family day to celebrate summer and Knotts 100th anniversary! We had planned our trip in advance and the children in our group, ages 4,4,7 & 10 were so excited!! My children had never been to Knotts and we were so thrilled to be able to go after a crazy year we had.

When we arrived at opening I was highly concerned about the lack in security and disorganization for bag checks and metal detectors. People were just walking right past bag checking and metal detecting straight into the park with no restriction. We stayed in line to get our bags checked and had our entire group metal detected, the young boy doing this even used the metal detector on our young children. We were a bit weary of the lack of professionalism, but dismissed it and went into the park after we were cleared to. When we entered the park, it was so crowded we couldn’t even walk together as a group. Although we had to make a reservation to arrive at the park that day- I’m realizing now that a reservation wasn’t honored or monitored due to the shear number of people in the park, even though your website clearly states a reservation is needed. Now, I’m not saying I want an empty park and I am fully aware of busy days, however this was beyond a normal busy day. This was over packed to the point of riding that fine line of hazardous to all who were in the park- later on in the night we would surely attest to this dangerous outcome.

We had three adults (including myself) and four children (two of which were mine) in our group. We waited in multiple lines for well over 2+hours with little kids. The waits were excessive due to the massive number of people allowed into the park! We waited over 2+ hours for the Log Ride just to get to the front and for them to shut down the ride. We waited patiently for another 20 minutes until we decided it was best for the kids to get out of line. During this time, we were witness to the employees trying to scramble to figure out what was wrong. Yelling across and through patrons. It was unorganized. There must have been many new employees there that day because we witnessed a lot of employees not knowing what to do when things broke down (3 rides broke down on us while we waited in those lines for 2+ hours each). We understand the hardship it is to find employees right now and even harder time to get them fully trained for situations that may arise. My concern is the knowing of how many employees are new (or understaffing issues) to your ticket count ratio. I say this not to complain about any employee in particular, in fact later in the evening when Hell broke loose (it was, in fact Hell for our group), there was two employees that did a fantastic job at helping us keep calm and lead us into a storage room where we hid from what we believed to be an active shooter.

I digress. 

While we weren’t having a best day so far because we were only able to actually ride 1 ride in almost 5 hours of being at the park already. We decided to try to make the best of it and had planned to stay until closing. We had purchased the all day dining plans and fed the kids to refuel them throughout the disappointments of waiting then not being able to ride the rides we had waited so long for.

As the day turned darker, we found ourselves near the stage of the live band that was playing for the Summer Nights event. We hung out for a bit and enjoyed snapping a few photo ops with the Summer Nights giant chair. We had heard there was going to be fireworks at 9 (it was around 8:15pm at this point) so we were going to head towards some games and then watch the fireworks show. As we walked towards the Bear-Y Tales area of the park we witnessed a few people running here and a few people running there. And then more people running. We had thought maybe one of the rollercoasters that was shut down all day might have reopened and people were headed to get in line. However, within the next few minutes we witnessed hundreds of people running towards us- just a sea of people! Screams were ringing out and people were frantic. We stopped one person to ask why they were running and they shouted that there was someone with a gun as they ran by us. Another person we stopped said they heard someone get shot over by the bathrooms. One man was yelling over the live band while running past us “THERE’S A SHOOTER IN THE PARK! HE’S GOT A GUN!!! HE’S GOT A GUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!!!”

People were running in terror; for their lives at this point. We quickly grabbed our children’s hands and told them that we were going to leave and it was time to head to the exit like everyone else. We stayed calm but moved as quickly as we could towards the front entrance of the park. Not knowing exactly what was happening we followed our gut instinct to get out of the park. There were abandoned freshly paid for meals sitting at empty tables and bags laying ownerless on the ground as we quickly passed by with hundreds of other people. We had parked in the south parking lot near the hotel and headed towards that direction. We were surrounded by people rushing, crying, screaming. As we quickly walked towards the parking lot, we saw shops, restaurants and stores locking their doors. I saw two young girls pounding on one of the businesses window crying and screaming to let them in. I picked up my youngest child and held my other child’s hand and started walking even faster.

Now, this is where the Hell I was talking about shows up. 

We continued to quickly walk down the pathway in front of the shops together in our group. I remember telling my friend “If we get separated, let’s meet at the car” because there was so many people weaving  and pushing around us. We passed the candy shop and the Market place emporium stores outside the walkway away from the main entrance. We were surrounded by multiple people who just wanted to leave like us. It seemed as though time had stopped when out of nowhere a group of people started running towards us screaming that the gunman was coming towards us, someone screamed out “HE’S AROUND THE CORNER!!! RUN!!!!”. 

I don’t know how to explain it exactly- shear chaos and terror broke out in that moment. But, what I do know is that I reacted with my natural survival instincts with the information that I had at that time. There was no information, no security nor employees who knew what was happening. So your natural instinct is to react for your life- for your children’s lives.

I was holding my 4 year old in my arms and had my 10 year old by the hand running. I frantically lost his hand when people trampled by us forcing us to lose our grip. There was people crying and screaming everywhere. People running for their lives, like us. I heard my friend behind me yell “STOP! STOP! STOP, JUST STOP!!!”

I quickly turned around to notice she was trying to help a young girl off the ground who had been knocked over by the rushing crowds. She was yelling for people to stop literally running over the girl. In the midst of the chaos, we don’t even know if she had a parent with her. While that was happening, I couldn’t find my 10 year old son. We had lost our hands and he wasn’t near me anymore. As a mom in that moment, my heart stopped beating and sunk down into my gut. I couldn’t breathe. WHERE WAS HE!! I screamed his name louder and louder over the rushing screaming frantic crowd. The majority of the crowd dispersed and I could see my son down the path a bit. The look he had on his face was something no mom should have to see on their children’s face, ever. My heart broke into a million pieces. He was terrified and crying. “Mom! Mom! I couldn’t see you, I didn’t know where you were!”. I grabbed him the fastest I could and continued to run away from what we believed to be an active shooter. At this time, we were just running away. Running for our lives and our children’s lives. I saw in the distance a man holding open a business door for people to come into. I continued to look back at my friends and their children to make sure we were all together. I ran towards the door and held it open for my friends. The man kept saying “once I shut this door it’s locked! Hurry! Hurry! Get in!”. We all entered the store and were told to go towards the back where they have a storage room. We entered the storage room where I could see about 30 people crouched down hiding. They closed both doors and locked them. People continued to whisper “shhhhhh, be quiet”. They turned the lights off and asked us to be as quiet as we could. The kids were crying and didn’t know what was happening. All we could do was get down on the ground and hold them. People were grabbing items to defend themselves from the storage room. You could hear close quiet cries and whisper prayers. My mind was rushing and all I could do was pray for a layer of protection. “Lord, put your angels around us right now, protect us and guide us. Protect these children Lord”. A prayer I never thought I’d have to pray in a situation like that. A prayer no mom should have to pray.

Fear engulfed me in that moment and I just hugged and kissed my children. I grabbed my son and told him with tears rolling down my face that I was sorry for letting his hand go. It hurt to even say those words to him. If you are a parent, you never want to see that much fright in your children’s eyes.

I quickly grabbed my phone and started to text 911 so if something were to happen they would know our location and that we were hiding in a storage room locked down. 911 responded quickly and told me officers were on the scene and if we were safe where we were, to stay there. We did. 

I then texted my husband “There’s an active shooter. We are held up in a locked room. Not a drill. Don’t call. I’ll text”. 

How shitty is that? To have to text your spouse, who isn’t there with you, those words. I wanted to breakdown- but held myself together for my children who were looking to me for protection and safety. 

About 20 minutes went by when one of the men standing by the door whispered that the gunman was outside the store and that we needed to be quiet. A man stood near us with his two babies in a stroller with tears rolling down his face griping a broom handle he had found in the storage room. There were two girls sitting near us shaking. My friend asked them if they knew where their parents were and they didn’t. They were so frightened. Employees were on their landlines trying to get help. It felt like a lifetime sitting there, not knowing what might happen.

After about 10 more minutes one of the employees had said that they got the “okay” from the police and we could go. They said we would wait for an escort to come before they unlocked the door to help us out. It wasn’t until I stood up that I noticed that there were rows and rows of people hiding, kneeling and laying down in that room, way more than the 30 I had thought.

We got up slowly and cautiously. We waited for others to leave the room first- we were in no hurry to leave first. We eventually funneled out of the storage room into a sea of people heading towards the parking lot again. They led us down through the employee entrance and out into the parking lot where we held our children tight and quickly walked to our car like we had tried to do before. We just kept telling the kids “It’s going to be okay, we’re just going to go to the car as fast as we can”. We constantly reassured them that everything was going to be fine when we didn’t even know that for a fact ourselves.

When we arrived that morning we made sure everyone knew that we were parked in Sally 2, so when we finally saw the sign for Sally 2, there was a little relief. We quickly loaded the children into the car and left the parking lot into a line of cars trying to do the same.

We left just in time, because there was a fire I hear that shut down the freeway just after we left. 

That day was something made up from a nightmare. After it all happened and we were heading home, I just kept thinking “what just happened?” I couldn’t even process it yet because I had little children that were watching me and looking to me for strength and to keep them safe. 

That’s my job. As their mom, it’s my job to keep them safe and away from harm. To protect their hearts and mental health. It’s my job. I take that job seriously. So when something happens like this, I find it painful and take it personal. 

There’s never been more anxiety I have ever felt in my entire life. Thinking about those cries and screams, they make you a different person. The depression is sinking in and I find it near impossible to even show a fake smile. 

I hold my children more tighter today and thank the Lord for putting his angels around us that day. 

I’m telling you my side of the story that day because I feel like it’s being dismissed. 

The article reads:

 “At least 1 wounded in drive-by shooting outside Knott’s Berry Farm”

But that’s not what I experienced. Shots were fired from the parking lot into the park area where we stood nearby listening to music, which caused a wave of mayhem to unfold. I don’t have to tell you about it, simply search videos of people who were recording from inside the park and you’ll bear witness to the cries and screams. Or better yet, pull up your security footage from that night- I bet you’ll see so many people running in terror, I bet you’ll see me and my children running in terror.

The dismissal of what people actually went through inside the park that night is disrespectful and doesn’t sit well with me. The people like me, my friends, other parents, kids who were alone and moms and dads who were separated from their children deserve acknowledgment. I wasn’t the only one to experience the horror that night. There were hundreds of people, especially moms like me, experiencing haunting trauma and still experiencing the trauma from that day- I know I am.

Knotts Berry Farm needs to be held accountable for their lack of communication, organization and security. I hope that there will be accountability, because if not- how can we as the human race ever feel safe at a place where we are supposed to smile, laugh and make happy memories? On your Cedar Fairs website you claim to “Take Fun Seriously” and to “Make people happy by providing fun, immersive and memorable experiences”. I feel you are not living up to this claim by dismissing the people whose lives were changed that day. 

Although you cannot control what happens outside your gates, you can however acknowledge the lack of security and the lack of discourse about what happened inside your gates that day. 

In closing, I would like to ask what plan does Knotts Berry Farm and Cedar Fair have to make this situation right? What kind of comfort can you provide for the families who experienced this and continue to deal with the impacts it has caused?

Thank you for your time in reading my letter and timely response. My hope is that you can have a glimpse of the fear we felt that day and hopefully make it right. 


April M. Reid

Reflection of her heart

Reflection of her heart

The tiny stone laid on the ground in the midst of the ordinary dull brown and black gravel. This was no ordinary rock; it was shiny and that of a white pearlescent diamond color- nothing like its peers. It sparkled in the morning sun as if it was trying to get attention. Attention is exactly what it found when my 4-year-old excitedly picked it up as we were getting into the truck this morning to head to school. She was thrilled to find a shiny new rock on the ground and lit up with great animation with further inspection of this shiny new treasure. She held it tight in her closed fist, making sure it wouldn’t fall to the ground of the truck, only opening her hand slowly to peek at it every few moments. Yes! It was still there. I told her to hold it up to the ray of the sun that peered through the window to see how sparkly it was when the light hit it. She proudly held it high and admired its’ beauty…

…while my daughter and I have had many great conversations in her short 4 years, I found this one- as short as it was, very inspiring and true.

As we drove to school, we were listening to a song on the radio called “Forever Girl” by Jon Langston. As the song is a slower song, I noticed my daughter’s demeanor change from “happy-treasure-finding-sparkling-giggle” to “This is a sad song, Mom”. I told her that, “It wasn’t a sad song, in fact- it’s a love song. He’s telling her that ‘She’s his forever girl and everything in his whole world. You see? The man is telling the woman he loves her with his whole heart.” My daughter, starting to light back up says, “Just like my Auntie Julie! Auntie Julie loves me with my whole…. um…. her whole heart. Just like my shiny new rock. It reflects the sun and it reflects like Auntie Julie’s heart.”

Her words, inevitably, made my face leak and not because it made me sad- but because it brought joy to my heart. A joy that only a 4-year-old could offer at that moment. A realization of the fact that her Auntie Julie makes her feel so loved and happy. A moment of clarity that in fact her Auntie Julie reflects so much shiny and pure authentic sparkle that she had made an impression on my daughter.

I immediately had to pull over my truck and write down our conversation, not because I thought that I would forget it, but it needed to be exactly how she said it. Because one day, I want her to read these posts and realize what a heart of gold she has, even at 4 years old. And, not just THAT- but I wanted my sister, Julie, to know how much she inspires my children and how much love is continuously coming from her whole heart. It explodes out of her like a fucking glitter bomb! You’d be finding it in your hair for days!

This, of course, had me thinking the whole day. Thinking about my children and how they can feel someone’s authenticity and truth. They can truly understand the love and reflect how people make them feel. It’s a sentiment that most adults have forgotten because we are always trying to please and slap on a smile. Genuine is a whole hearted treasure. A shiny, sparkling treasure. I am fortunate enough to have these kinds of people in my life and in my children’s lives…

…for they are no ordinary rocks, they are sun-reflecting, sparkling badass treasures in the midst of the ordinary dull brown and black gravel. Nothing like its peers.

Life is short, make it sweet.

❤ AM

Words for Wednesday- I’m a person too

Words for Wednesday- I’m a person too

I’m struggling right now.

I would be lying if I said this was the first time that I’ve succumbed to my maxed out capacity.

It’s been overwhelming.

I am at a loss about what to do during this time in my life. I’m trying to deal with the fact that I won’t be going back to my job, an opportunity that I was just starting to feel accomplished in. I have been forced into my previous role as a stay-at-home-mom and let’s just be honest- I’m not thrilled about it. I finally had something for me and it was taken away before I could even reach my potential. I’ve been thrown into this life of now being a Teacher- and all the things that come with having 3 kids all in different grades and one with an IEP and dyslexia. It’s okay tho- we’ll just wing it… right?

I see my children’s happiness and light dimming and fading away. Their normal is different now and to adjust to this new time in their life is confusing (not even mentioning that they were just taken away from their “home” and moved across the ocean to a new life). I see them struggling and hurting- which in turn makes my mama heart hurt. But what can I do about it? School was going to be a good outlet for making new friends for them- and hopefully ease the hardship of moving to a new state. However, it’s hard to make friends when you’re not physically meeting people.

But I get it. I truly do. I proudly support and want to protect teachers and staff. I can see their points of view- both sides. I see the caring teacher who will put themselves at risk for the mental health of their students. They know damn well that for a lot of kids, school is a safe haven. And for many, the only place they feel safe. A place to feel loved, supported, cared about and heard. Those teachers cry out for their students that are forced to be at home in bad situations without the help they need. This hurts my soul immensely. On the other hand- I see you teachers who don’t want to be exposed to something that might spread ramped. I see your concerns of bringing a virus to your home. A home where you may have elderly parents living. I see the frustration it will be to make sure your classrooms are sanitary and up to code. I see the worry that you’ll be spending most of your time making sure your students are following the new guidelines rather than actual teaching. I see you. I see the fight in your hearts. I see your worry.

In the end, what choice outweighs the other? Neither are less important, and neither should be on the auction block. It’s a sad, sad time in our world right now. I can’t even fathom the repercussions of either action we take. We are damned if we do, and we are damned if we don’t.

So here we are. At the end of August and diving right into distant learning. Whether we had that choice or not. And I’m overwhelmed…. and please don’t tell me “I’m not alone, the whole country is going thru the same thing”… I’m kind of tired of hearing that. My situation may be similar to yours, but we haven’t traveled the same roads. You don’t know how I deal with my battles and I don’t know how you handle yours.

Because, to be honest- I sometimes do feel alone- and you can cut the shit- because I bet you sometimes do as well.

It’s easy to overlook a mom who cares about everyone else, but I not only moved my children away from their “home” in Hawai’i- I moved away too. I am also learning and trying to adapt to this. There’s been a line I’ve been telling my kids lately when I feel overwhelmed with all their synchronized demands: “I’m a person too!”. The look they gave me when I said it for the first time proved that they never actually thought about it much. And I feel like I failed at that moment. I failed to teach them that not only am I their mom, their protector and safe place- I am also me. I have feelings, I have breakdowns, I have failures and that sometimes I only have so much to give before my tank is empty.

We, as moms, get so caught up in making sure our whole family is taken care of. We try to make sure that our kids have everything they need to succeed- from food to good mental health. We make sure our homes are tidy and livable- We make sure our bills are paid, wipe asses and schedule appointments. We do so much for so many other people that we forget to teach them that we are humans too. That we are just as deserving of self-care as they are. That our mental health is just as important.

I never knew how important it was for me to keep my mental health in check until I started to build my tribe of supporting woman around me. I quickly saw the benefits of having that time with them- away from my “mom duties” and to actually connect and identify as me- as a person and not just as “mom”. This taught me to keep *my* cups full. But sad to say, I haven’t been keeping my cups full lately and it shows. My tribe that helped me keep my cups full is an ocean away and I am left to scramble to find substance in lieu of them. I no doubt still have them to call on. They will always be apart of my core. But I need something here. I need that connection in person- It took me 15 years to find that connection with my tribe in Hawai’i, and I know nothing can replace that. But I so desperately want that here. I want that instant gratification of filled cups. But it takes time. It takes building up friendships and relationships that have been put on the back-burner. How to go about it is confusing. Especially now in the time of Covid. Familiarity is comfort. And I just want comfort. *shoves chocolate chip cookies in mouth*

Learning to take care of yourself when you’ve been programmed to take care of everyone else first is hard. It’s even harder to put your oxygen mask on first before your kids- It goes against my paternal instincts. But in the end, your family needs you to be happy and healthy to be able to take care of them.

So, here’s to knowing when you’ve hit your limit-
take the time for you… fill those cups and continue kicking ass.

Life is short, make it sweet.

❤ AM

Words for Wednesday- Your Greatest Gift

Words for Wednesday- Your Greatest Gift

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about the question “What is the greatest gift that you can give the world?”… And as puzzling and complex that question may be, it is also inspiring and impelling.

I’ve spent a lot of my life wondering what my gifts were. What talents God has given me and what I could do to use those gifts to help others around me. I’m a firm believer that we are all here for a reason. In this moment in time. And after all the years of pondering what the reason is that I am here, I can honestly say I’m still not 100% sure. Gasp! Big shocker I know! 😉 Yes, I have things that I am good at and I have things that I am still trying to get right. But, what is my greatest gift that I can offer this world…

The issue that I have with this greatest gift thinking is it’s suggesting that whatever you have to offer, it must be the greatest! What if what I have to offer now isn’t what I know I am capable of offering in the future- I’m just not there yet. In fact I’ve had so many failures in my gift that I have fervently questioned if it’s even my gift to begin with. I know where I want to be, but my current productivity just isn’t meeting what I know I can do and who I want to be.

Natalie Warne shares in one of her Ted Talk discussions on failure:
“It’s normal to have seasons where things just aren’t working out”
and I think we need to adapt and realize that in fact yes! It’s normal to have set backs and to not fully reach what you can offer to this world immediately. It’s normal to feel defeated in the face of failure. It’s how you grow your gift from that failure.

Ira Glass, the founder of “This American Life” said it best:
“Many creatives get frustrated when they go through a stage where the work they produce doesn’t match up with the taste they’ve developed. The successful ones are the ones who break through this roadblock.”

And I don’t know about you- but I want to break through to my full potential. Break through to my greatest gift! I am going to get there one day, and I can’t be disappointed about the failures I experience along the way.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.”
-Maya Angelou

Life is short, make it sweet!

❤ AM

Words for Wednesday- Which carrot are you?

Words for Wednesday- Which carrot are you?

*I originally wrote this post back in 2017- but its’ message is current and I wanted to share it here*

Which carrot are you?

Last summer we planted some carrots in our garden. We spaced them out evenly and made sure they each had the same amount of soil and water. We cared for them by watering and pulling up any weeds that may have popped up to steal the nutrients away from our crop. It was a long couple of months being patient and waiting for the right time to pull up our harvest.

We got impatient a time or two and pulled one or two up here and there, but they were never the size we wanted or expected. So we waited more…

Until yesterday when it seemed fit to finally pull up our remaining crop for a dinner I was preparing. To my amazement, they were all different in size! None was like the other. You’d pull up one and it would be a really nice straight one and then you’d pull up the one right next to it and it would only be a couple of inches long.

The tops of the carrots all matched in height, their greenery was long and luscious, a deceiving outward appearance and not at all a real testament to what lies beneath.
It was a suspenseful moment in time pulling up all the carrots. A rewarding time, a “pulling of straws” if you will.
As I washed and sized up the harvest I laid them side by side. The biggest carrot next to the smallest. I wondered how two carrots could be completely opposite, yet had grown in the same elements; given the same amount of water, sun and attention. Two carrots who looked identical on the outside, were so different on the inside.

I began to get deep. I do that sometimes.

I thought about the adversities that one carrot can come into contact with. Carrots need a deep space to grow big and long, a hard accomplishment for a carrot when grown in soil above a land mass made of hard lava rock. Clearly they all had faced the harsh reality of the solid lava rocks below. A small carrot root is no match against it. So why, again I pondered, was one so much bigger and stronger than its counter?

I can’t speak for the carrots, but I can take a guess. Ready?

The longest and biggest carrot we pulled up was pulled up from between the lava rock cracks. It had found a way, underneath the soil and lava rock, to grow to its full potential.

Life is like this. People are like this.

On the outside you may all look the same, but on the inside, deep down beneath the surface is where your strength lies. We are all faced with challenges, lava rocks per say. Some of us choose to quit growing because we think that there is no more room. We see the obstacle and find it immovable, so we stay. We slow down our growth and stay where we think is our limit. We feel safe there because, hey, this just might be the end of the road. So we give up growing without even trying.

While some of us don’t give up. We see our lava rock and we laugh at it. We search for a hole, for a sliver, for a crack of light… because sometimes that’s all we need to grow to our next level, and we aim our roots and we push through it. We push through our battles, we push through our hard places, we push because we know if we can just find one open space, we can flourish.

So, I ask again…
Which carrot are you?

Life is short, make it sweet!

❤ AM

Words for Wednesday – Make you think

Words for Wednesday – Make you think

I recently had my aunt share something that really hit me and I wanted to share it here. I’m not sure who the original author is.

“Six Little Stories With Lots Of Meanings”

Once all the villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer, all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That’s Faith.

When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them. That is Trust.

Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up. That is Hope.

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That is Confidence.

We see the world suffering, but still, we get married and have children. That is Love.

On an old man’s shirt was written the sentence ‘I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.’ That is Attitude.

Have a happy day and live your life like these six stories. Remember- good friends are the rare jewels of life, difficult to find and impossible to replace!!

These are all really good things to make you think. The first one hit home the most for me. Because ‘Faith without works (action) is dead’. You have to have faith to the point where you absolutely are for certain that you’ll NEED that umbrella. Not “oh, well *if* it does rain, I’ll sure be happy I had my umbrella”. No. That isn’t faith. Faith is believing something so true that you are prepared for it’s certitude.

Faith without action is dead.

I am a firm believer in having Faith. Sometimes Faith can come so easily- and in other times- it can be the toughest thing you’ll choose to do. Because Faith by itself is a nice thing to think about, it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk snuggled in a warm blank by a fire. It’s comforting… the word “Faith”. But one does not know the impact of Faith until you physically do something in a manner of expecting a precise goal. A leap of faith, perhaps. BECAUSE FAITH WITHOUT ACTION is just a fuzzy feeling, a pretty cliche written on a canvas above your couch. But Faith with action can be ugly. It can make you question every choice and before you know it- your actions are being controlled by your mind and not your soul.

Every day I have to fight to silence my mind. My mind thinks it’s in charge of my actions and it tries to shove all of its disorder onto my choices. I am in this continual battle of mind and soul. My mind is always telling me to be impulsive; to worry; to try to take the easy way. But my soul is always trying to appease me. To trust. To lean on faith. To quiet the mind is, in a nutshell, a shitshow. It’s an habitual encounter. And rightfully so. Faith isn’t just something you have to have every now and then. It’s a constant. A fight that seems endless can often make you tired and want to throw your hands in the air and say “fuck it”! Yes, it can often come to that. But that’s when you prove what you are made of- that you still have control over your mind.

Just some thoughts for today!

Have Faith my friends!

Life is short, make it sweet!

❤ AM

Frankly My Dear- 2020 isn’t over

Frankly My Dear- 2020 isn’t over


I sincerely don’t know where the last two weeks have gone. My days rolled into one another and I feel like it was just the Fourth Of July then I woke up this morning wondering what happened to the days that proceeded. Anyone else? I hope I am not alone in this galactic space travel. At least I didn’t wake up to the year 2050 to discover that I have been a frozen science experiment for an Under Ground Secret Organization that so happened to be linked to letting loose COVID-19 into the human world by a crazed bat that was infected with the virus and was “accidently” released and that I was one of the select few that they had taken for experimentation (because I’m smart of course)… I mean, it could have been worse. *writes down idea for blockbuster movie* Or did they already make that movie? Something about Resident Evil comes to mind….hmmmmm…..

I digress.

2020 was going to be my year. My families year. It was destined to be a breakthrough year of growth and change. It was a “fresh start” in a different state, a different life, and a promising new career. At 36 years old, I had finally felt like I was being an adult.

And then the shit storm happened.

And like the last two weeks, I feel like it was just St. Patrick’s Day and I just woke up and it’s 4 months later. I play back the last 4 months of my life and I can’t help but to think… “what the fuck just happened?”. 2020 was supposed to be my year! 2020 was supposed to be a year of triumphs and celebrations. But, here we are. Knee deep (or elbow deep) into one of the worst years to date. Can it just be the Holidays already? Can we take a vote on this? Christmas in July CAN ACTUALLY BE A THING PEOPLE!

I have had a lot on my plate with this new “normal” bullshit that I wasn’t expecting. And it’s gotten me pretty low. I bet you can relate. I’ve spent a lot of effort into forcing myself be positive, be happy, be grateful, be nice and patient. It’s been hard. I’ve found solace in reading meme’s and laughing about the most absurd things. I’ve found hope in taking risks and letting life happen. I’ve found that I can still make 2020 my bitch. Instead of remembering 2020 as the year that I lost my dream career; that I was pushed to the limits of trying to be a homeschool teacher; that I was irritable and cranky by having all my humans around me 24/7; that I couldn’t qualify for a new home loan; that I was trapped in limbo…
… we don’t have to remember 2020 that way- because frankly my dear, 2020 ain’t over yet!! (Said with ummmphh like Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind *swoooon*) We still have time to make 2020 our bitch and do something amazing, regardless of how the world around us is spinning. I can still reach my goals. I can still set plans and leap for them. I can still crush it!

I want to remember 2020 as the year that I finally bought acreage out in the country for my future home; that I revamped my baking business; that I made it 15 years of marriage; that I became a more patient mom (still working on that one) and that in spite of the uncertainty 2020 brought- I stayed true to being me. I continue to have faith. I continue to push forward. I continue to trust that through the toughest pressure we can grow. It takes courage, a shit ton.

Who the hell knows how the next few months are going to go- and maybe I might just wake up a few months from now in a comatose state with Turkey hanging from my mouth- But I will continue to try to make the best of it all. I mean, can you really go anywhere else but up? And if there is a bigger shit storm coming, I packed my poncho bitch- BRING IT ON!

Life is short, make it sweet!

❤ AM

Words for Wednesday- Taking the Leap

Words for Wednesday- Taking the Leap

Decide on the outcome-
even if you don’t know the steps to get there.

-Tony Robbins

I’m coming up on a year of making a drastic move. To say I was scared shitless would be an euphemism. It was much much worse.

I had this vision in my head of what I wanted for my life and what I wanted for my family. I had faith that we would one day not have to live paycheck to paycheck. I visioned a life free from the bondage and worry of money. To truly be happy. I dreamt of land- lots and lots of land. I dreamt of so much land that it was covered in trees and smelled of orange blossoms. It would echo sounds of life by my children laughing, riding bikes and playing by a creek bed chasing chickens until the sun set. I wanted a life where I didn’t feel drained of all my families resources and hard work. I knew this and so much more. I knew what I wanted. I made that choice. Because If I know anything at all- it’s that you have to have an end goal, a projected outcome, before you can set out for it. Even if that goal takes you until you’re 85 to reach it.

I jumped last year, I fucking leaped! I stepped back and I wound up my feet like the Roadrunner and released. I had a trusting moment. A moment where I let my faith and knowing what I wanted to take me to my next step.

Taking that leap was like deciding to drink an entire bottle of tequila the night before and waking up to yourself in the mirror in the morning-  it was ghastly. It hurt in so many ways. But as much as its hurt emotionally to make that leap- I have become closer to my goal. One step down, so many more to go.

No one can ever prepare you for the personal successes or failures you may experience in *your* lifetime- they are unique and catered to you. You could be scared shitless- like I am right now- about when your leap of faith will come to fruition. It’s a scary place to be, this limbo of faith and worry. Hope and defeat. The constant questioning oneself if the leap they made was the right one. No one can ever prepare you for that.  But I have my eyes set on my prize, my outcome. Do you?

In my random thoughts for today- I guess in the end, I just want to encourage you to decide on an outcome for your life. It can be anything you have been dreaming about, desired, or visioned. Be strong in your decisions, because once you are, you can figure out the steps you have to take to get you there. I’m not saying it will be easy because if you wanted something easy you can tell yourself you’ve decided to have an outcome of having Taco Bell for lunch. Well Fuck, now you know all you gotta do is drive your ass to Taco Bell. done. easy. –But if it’s a dream worth risking and leaping for, it’s going to take instinctual faith- and a little bit of impulsivity. Because, frankly sometimes you have to bend when the wind blows and sometimes you may feel as though you’ve taken a step back from your outcome- and that’s okay. Don’t allow yourself to be demoralized but in lieu set your eyes on your goal and keep pushing forward. Take the mothafuckin leap.


Life is short, make it sweet.

❤ AM