Having a place to go - is a home. Having someone to love - is a family. Having both - is a blessing. ~Donna Hedges
Pageants are a wonderful hobby that I enjoy – they do not define me nor are they my entire life. Just as my husband is a cyclist, an avid runner and a gym-aholic... I am a community volunteer, soccer mom and occasional runner that competes in pageants. I have watched the Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America pageants each year since I can remember- always with my pen and paper in hand, back in the day I was taping them on the Beta then VCR to watch and re-watch the questions and winning moments. Pageants are not about one person... there is an ARMY of people behind each contestant; whether that is directors and coaches or family and friends. I am blessed to have all of the above. I have had GREAT coaches, directors, great friends and a WONDERFUL family. From the beginning my mom was always right by me through competitions, pushing me along and offering her constructive criticism... it became our thing. We would carve out pageant time, I would earn my entry fees by having yard sales, babysitting or selling mistletoe and off we would go. So many memories of driving to a pageant, picking out wardrobe and being with her. Now Grant and Krystina are my base and it goes from there.
Over the past 5 years I have competed and done appearances at various times each being a complete family decision with only a unanimous vote being acceptable. I never have felt that our daughter shouldn’t be involved in decisions like this because she is part of the family and her opinion matters to me; if she says ‘No’ then that’s the end of it. My family is my biggest fan club; supporting me, helping whenever possible and acting as a sound block without judgment. I couldn’t and wouldn’t compete without them in my corner. Family is so important to me whether it’s my parents/siblings or my in-laws, I couldn’t imagine life without either. I believe when you get married, you don’t just marry the person but you marry the entire family... and that is very true when Grant and I got married. I inherited another set of parents and a brother (and then a year later a sister) so I felt even more complete. Krystina has 2 Great Grandma’s, a Great Grandpa, 3 Grandma’s and 2 Grandpa’s on top of Uncles, Aunts and cousins... we are a BIG group. We may not see each other often since we are scattered in different states however thanks in large part to texting and Facebook we never feel too far apart and are all very blessed.
When my husband was deployed in 2010-2011 I won a regional title that came with a 30 appearance contract; the initial stress of how to balance work and childcare melted away when my 6 year old daughter looked up at me and said we were in it together. For the next year she attended every volunteer event alongside me; she cleaned the beach, fed sheltered dogs, volunteered at several homeless shelters and every other appearance I had. That year became one of my favorites because we grew so much together, she learned about the joys of giving back while I learned to see things through the eyes of my daughter. It was also a time that I got to show her what I meant when I said that you wear your true crown in your heart and NOT on your head.
My family will always come first – I will not miss a Saturday morning soccer game nor will I miss events with my husband. I will continue to leave time open that is just for my family because long after this amazing journey as Mrs. California ends I will still be Mrs. Grant Smith and Mommy... two titles that I cherish. I will continue to watch all major pageants on TV sitting beside my daughter taking our own notes and comparing our scores (she picked Miss USA based on introductions this year!) just like I did growing up. Competing is a family affair because if it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am nor would this win have been as sweet.
Always take time for those you love because life is precious and you never know when the last kiss will truly be the last.
|My mother in law, Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore Giunta, Grant and I|
|He's my biggest fan and I am his|
|My mother in law and I finishing our 4th Avon Walk for Breast Cancer|
|Seeing Groban in Santa Barbara|
|My Father in law, My Brother in law (Capt Jack Sparrow for Krystina's birthday) and my mother in law|
|Krystina and my nieces Hailey and Kylie being silly!|