Finding ways to recharge when life gets hectic

This week was a rough one. Foster kid ran away for the fourth and fifth time, then ultimately moved out. It was emotional, it was tense, and I felt “grounded” at home trying to keep tabs on our foster teen. I’m not going to lie, it was ROUGH. Thankfully I found a little time each day just for me, or me and my husband, to recharge and replenish our mental strength. It doesn’t always take a special experience to make me feel better, sometimes it’s just something simple and normal at home, but here’s how I took back control of my attitude and rediscovered my inner calm for the week.

First of all, what would I do without this little cutie at home?

I swear, if this dog can’t make me smile, nothing can. Whether it’s taking a quick walk, playing fetch with the tiniest cutest tennis balls, or cuddling, my Dart knows exactly how to cheer me up. Lucky for him, I had the motivation to add a new treat to the mix this week. I’m calling them SCOBY snacks, literally made from the symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria (SCOBY) that was ready to be retired from my kombucha brewing.

Making SCOBY snack jerky involved a little ingenuity on my part. You see, the recipes I googled called for a either a dehydrator or and oven set at 90℉, and I can do neither in my kitchen. Also the recipes didn’t give me any clue as to how long it would actually take to turn SCOBY into jerky dog treats. So, toaster oven to the rescue! I made thin little slices of SCOBY and heated them on “warm” and “convection” settings in my toaster oven for a few hours, and we got one tiny dish of tasty healthy dog treats. Well, tasty according to Dart (I’m not brave enough to try them). These treats are hopefully still filled with all the beneficial SCOBY probiotics to strengthen Dart’s healthy intestinal flora.

The other activity that totally save me this week was volunteering. Lucky for me, I chose to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. This week I volunteered on a day with no riding lessons, so it was all horse care, cleaning, and beautiful desert and mountain views. I love this idea of using horses in therapy, I could actually get a hippotherapy certification after a few more years of work as an occupational therapist. In the tack room there’s a Ghandi quote: “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.” By volunteering at the horseback riding center, I help ensure that kids and adults of all abilities have a chance to gain new skills, develop, or recover in their mental health journey. It’s magical watching people heal and grow through their interactions with horses!

And here’s the best part of my week: my husband knew I needed a little break and drove me up and out of the valley for a new adventure at 7000 feet! He’s been working an electrical job up by Mount Charleston, and he just insisted I also go see all the sights someday. With foster kid moved out, “someday” was upon us, and this daytrip up the mountain was just the distraction we needed.

We’ve always been able to see these snowy mountains off in the distance, but the drive up was quicker than I expected, only an hour-ish depending on where you start from in Vegas. As we got further from town, I quickly realized we were actually entering my favorite Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just from a different direction than usual. The desert kept changing as we climbed in elevation, having more Joshua trees, more pine trees, and eventually snow! The wind at the top of the mountain is pretty chilly (who knew!?) so I didn’t last more than 5 minutes the first time I got out of the car with no hat or coat, lol. We couldn’t actually visit Kyle’s work, so back down the mountain we went to find more touristy things to do. My absolute favorite part of this trip was finding a wild horse being escorted off the road by police!

Eventually we made it up to actual Mount Charleston. We were lucky enough to beat the biggest crowd of tourists up there and enjoy an early lunch. Seriously, families think they can just drive up there, park on the side of the road (so not allowed), and take their kids sledding. Haha, us Midwest people know better, all this “snow” is really just boring patches of ice made out of melted and re-frozen old snow. Also, my public service announcement for the day: don’t let your kids sled down a hill that deposits them directly onto the road ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We soaked up all the scenery, I finally learned to dress for the weather, and we enjoyed the best view from our table at the lodge’s restaurant. (Thank you, Nevada, for letting us go to restaurants without reservations again!) Who knows, maybe we’ll come back and stay at one of these log cabins one day. Even better, we might finally take the plunge and learn how to camp from our Nissan Rogue. The Fletcher View Campground we found on our way back down the mountain had all kinds of woodsy, picturesque campsites for us to escape from the desert sun in an upcoming summer. I’m bursting with ideas for future getaways! One day we might venture fully outside the Las Vegas valley, but for now, I’m good right here ❤

Anyone have experience camping in a car?? I’d love to hear all your tips and tricks!

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