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    A New State of Mind and a New State – The Cruz Family Has Left California!

    As an adult, you’re faced with really challenging decisions. Life-altering ones in fact. As a parent, all decisions have to include the well-being of your children. They HAVE to come first, especially their health. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will DIE for these kids, I will risk and sacrifice everything.

    All over. Starting over. Moving… constantly. I know I expressed before that the only consistency in my life is my love for my husband and my children. At least if the scenery changes, that never will.

    So 2015 was rough. I was over-worked, anyone following me could see that. You know how over-worked I got? I have only seen up to season 2 of Breaking Bad guys… so don’t even talk to me about amazing shows out there like Game of Thrones where the ONE night Jeff and I tried watching the first episode we fell asleep, and not because of boredom, no way, but pure exhaustion. I did it to myself. Took on way too much work. From the 40+ weddings we took on last year to the two trips to Manila with starting up one livelihood project to attempting to start another brand/business completely and think that I had to know-how to manage it from overseas to yes, still cooking and cleaning and raising two kids under the age of 5… what was I thinking?!

    I wasn’t. I was swamped. I couldn’t see past my own nose at times which lead me to some pretty shitty decisions, even when warned. Yet the biggest problem that faced me was where and how I was going to send my child to school. Amelia started kindergarten in California and we kept getting letters and notes sent home from the school that she wasn’t up-to-date on her vaccinations. Most of you know how I feel about that topic and we will just leave it at that. I knew that SB277 was or already has started to take affect. I was being pushed in to a corner in terms of what to do along with work. Being self-employed in California is one of the stupidest decisions I’ve made. The taxes you pay, the random fines and how the government literally makes it not worth your time to run your own business, do you know how many times I debated going back to being a server because it just made no sense at times with how hard I worked vs what I got to keep!? Too many times to count… and really.. not with that many weddings…I was either gonna settle with that fact or settle elsewhere. I knew I would likely have to incorporate elsewhere, and I was already used to making the drive/trip from SF to SD at LEAST five times a year for work. That’s 8 hours one way folks. So what was the next best thing? What state could we move to that was still close enough to California and allowed parents to … well, PARENT and make decisions for their children?

    We made over 6 trips to Las Vegas last year. I know.. I KNOW. You could have never convinced me to move to Nevada, let alone… LAS VEGAS. All I knew of Vegas was the strip. Hotel-living, heat waves, great shows, amazing restaurants (cause every fabulous chef wants a restaurant out here!), just a great town to escape to… I felt that people who worked the strip were either strippers, casino workers and over-all just people with really scaley desert-skin (this is the 8-14 year old in me talking, just what I remembered from childhood. Yes, we went to Vegas often as children with our high-roller family members from abroad – best times ever!). I knew that it was that place you go to for a really fun weekend and then you go back to reality. I never thought in a million years that I could make a life out here. I really ought to stop saying “never.”

    The first trip we made was just to look around. Check out life AWAY from the strip (is there such a thing?).. we were left in shock. It was like… totally normal living. Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Vons, Home Depot… every neighborhood had these popping up! I probably sound like an idiot right now. Duh Talia… it’s like any other place. Well, can’t I keep my California-girl dumb-founded-ness for just a TAD longer?! There was so much construction going on and we decided to take a couple days to look at rentals. Of course we wanted to laugh when they would tell us the price. $1,900.00 could get you a SIX BEDROOM 3,000+ sq ft place in a gated community like Summerlin (15 mins from the strip/airport)… what!!? But wait, who needs 6 bedrooms right? The realtor who was showing us around must have thought we were crazy when we told her our budget. “You can pretty much get whatever you wanted at that budget!” she said. Really?! Cause we would luck out with getting a 3 bedroom in California. Okay okay so obviously Nevada is much cheaper. We saw maybe 20+ diff homes in all sorts of different communities that required gate access and while living behind a guarded gate doesn’t guarantee safety, that false sense of security sure does work when you’re making choices like this. You wonder… “how did I live before with just a front door blocking me from the outside world?” Haha! But hey… it that’s the cost of RENT, we were intrigued on how much the mortgage would be.

    But is it safe to raise your children there?! As opposed to .. where exactly? Is there really ANY safe place to raise you kids? I had an acquaintance tell me “how can you raise your children knowing that the Vegas strip is like ten minutes away!?” Okay WOW. Guess what? My children are 3 and (almost) 6. So #1, this isn’t a problem I am going to be faced with for the next 10 years and YOU live 15 minutes away from donkey-bar-central-Mexico… my point here is that if your child ends up wanting to go to these sinful, dirty places then they’re gonna do it regardless! If it’s in their backyard or if it’s a Vegas weekend with their buddies… it’s all on how you raise them, if that’s where they desire to go in their late teens or 20’s, hate to break it to ya, but that has nothing to do with location, and everything to do with how they were raised at home.

    We didn’t just make up our minds immediately. It took a lot of convincing, but we were going to put what mattered first in this decision: our children. Lots of the schools out this way have great if not excellent ratings, the state’s bread and butter are the casinos, so Nevada is one of seven states that does not collect a personal income tax. They have no corporate income tax as well, which is why so many businesses get incorporated out this way. No inheritance tax. Open carry with permit, and obtaining the permit is not hard. The friendly guy at the gun range told me I could learn over there for free, just pay for ammunition. I don’t think they will be mandating vaccinations any time soon since well, prostitution is still legal out this way along with holding an open alcoholic drink out on the street. Yes, I can walk with my wine glass.. not that I plan on doing that… often. Just about everything is open 24 hours. I found a VEGAN/ORGANIC restaurant a few blocks away and they’re open 24/7. Not that I’m Vegan, but how great is that that at 3am your choice isn’t only McDonald’s?

    Apparently we aren’t the only young crowd gathering out this way suddenly. With Tesla and Apple opening up shop, and it being called “The Next Silicon Valley” there have been over 5,000 people per month coming out this way. So many jobs, opportunities, and possibilities…I feel like every place I drive to I see “Now Hiring” signs! Since looking last Fall, prices have gone UP. We wanted to lock something in, and we didn’t want to rent and then have the landlord jack the prices up within a year or two since things got so busy out this way. So…

    Yes… we moved to another STATE. We didn’t just move to another state… we bought a house here. Yup. Armed-guard gated community and all. On a golf course. With a rec center that has a water park in it and full gym, drop-in classes from yoga to pilates to acting classes for kids to YOU NAME IT (at $5 rates for the hour! Haha!) 10 mins to the strip. 10 mins to the international airport (this was a MUST*)…we’re basically going to live like we are retired. Yes, I am still working in California. But since I only really work weekends during the summer, I know I can manage… it’s only 4 hours – I’m used to 8 one way, remember?

    I know what you’re thinking next. THE WEATHER. I’ve been warned about the Vegas heat in July. We noticed that by talking to neighbors that they pro-rate their electric bills so that nothing sky-rockets, and with temperatures as high as they get in the summer, and the worst bill we’ve seen out here from a resident was no where near what it would have cost us to run the a/c in California. You know, in Oceanside, it was getting to 110 degrees at times, we had some rough summers lately! And then in the winter it’s super cold, so you kind of experience seasons a little more. I’ll tell you what though! The first couple weeks here, it was apparently the coolest it’s been in May in a LONG time! It was in the 70’s, and people were losing their minds! I have some cousins who live out this way and they said it should be at least 95 already, so we like to think we brought some cool Cali weather for the first few weeks. Anyways, weather is weather. I never cared for the beach, so it’s not like I will miss that. The ocean breeze? You know what? I’ll get back to you on that, but I already know that the sacrifice we are making to move out this way was truly for the kids, so that’s just not going to be a priority at the moment. Heck, if weather is really that bad? LEAVE. Ohhh the places we will be venturing off to! Colorado is only 7 hours away, Lake Havasu, Havasu Falls, the Grand Canyon.. all just a 2 hour drive, Salt Lake City is only 5 hours away! Whaaaat… time for some mid-week vacation planning!

    YOU GUYS! Who knows!? Who knows what will come of this! I am still having to LIVE it currently, so I can’t answer the unknown. I know I’m more excited than scared. I know that I have to make some new friends and that will come eventually. I know that I miss my friends in California terribly, especially all my mid-week wine dates with my favorite girls. I know I had to drive around the other day and it took me 20 minutes to get to a Trader Joe’s and I spent money there like it was HOURS away (sorry Jeff!). I know that my kids are loving having a place to call home. I know I promised I wouldn’t move for AT LEAST five years. I know that every bottle of soap in this house has to have some sort of oil to it due to dryness. I know that I don’t know that much, but I’m feeling like a kid again who just left the nest and I’m discovering all sorts of new* around me, and I love it! I kind of love that I don’t bump in to people who know me. I love that I don’t know ANY ONE (yet) and there’s just no room for judgement. I know that if I ever miss California that it’s only a 4 hour drive away, and there’s enough people there to welcome my family and I with open arms.

    I know that moving to a new state means moving with a new state of mind. One more open, more welcoming, and more patient. Baby steps. So to those reading, don’t take this as bragging when I am pointing out all the exciting things out here, it’s also my way of convincing myself that this is going to be great! I have to throw out the positive in all of this because you couldn’t imagine all the negative that was and sometimes is, swirling around in my mind… like those 20 minutes while looking for a Trader Joe’s and other familiar spots… my stress levels were high. Not knowing my surroundings immediately, feeling like I have to use Google Maps every time I get in to a car, ohhHHh the DMV trips and just settling out here will be saved for another blog because dammmmit those were some shit days… but alas! Two wrong turns later and Trader Joe’s was found… in the same parking lot of a Nordstrom’s Rack. Made me think, “okay, okay… we can do this Talia. Now for some wine and cheese.”

    I also know… that I have to make like 17 more trips to California this year for work, and that’s fine by me. I am still booking weddings in California, so there’s that.

    The list of “knows” is far shorter and less-depressing than my list of “don’t-knows” because, well… there’s so much I don’t know. I don’t know if I will continue in what I’m doing. I don’t know if I will end up photographing weddings that are only officiated by THE KING HIMSELF (thank you, thank you very much—) and I don’t know if this experience will shape me or destroy me. I can only go about this with His Grace, I can only do this with support from those around me. So welcome to a whole new chapter! Looking forward to giving you more updates – in the mean time, thanks for reading along! <3 Talia

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