Category Archives: Our Travels

Closing Out 2021

2021 has been one of the longest years I have experienced as an adult. I’d say it’s probably the second hardest year for me in my 41 years in this body, on this planet. I started out the year watching fireworks with my family from our livingroom window in Garner, NC. At that time, I believed all was fine. I was getting over being homesick for Iowa, and we were finally moving forward. Life went on, and we were good.

Of course to start the year, being carried over from 2020 was COVID. A neverending sickness in the general population and everyone resisting any type of mitigation efford – from mask wearing, to vaccinations, from handwashing to social distancing.

In March, something I have not discussed publicly happened, and I decided in a very swift change of heart that we were headed back to Iowa immediately. It was what was best for our family, and I made it happen quickly. We were back in Iowa by May. Of course you already know, if you’ve been following me for very long, that the moving company screwed us over. They didn’t deliver our belongings and I had to go the legal route to get anyone’s attention. But more about that later…

In April, Jarrod and I were able to get our COVID vaccines. I was still breastfeeding Felix at the time, so he possibly got some of the benefits of the vaccine.

When I was making arrangements to move back to Iowa, I found a nice rental house in Des Moines that we had all set up to move into on June 1. When we got back to Iowa, Jarrod and I went to tour the home and sign the lease. We paid our deposit and were all set to move on time. But when we left Garner, NC, the moving company showed up right at about the last possible moment, and we were unable to finish up cleaning before heading out to the airport. So because that upset the NC landlord, he decided to be petty and contact our soon-to-be landlord and tell him about the mess (which was not even as bad as what we had moved into and had to clean upon arrival the year before). So the rental in Des Moines got revoked, our deposit refunded…. leaving us essentially homeless.

We ended up moving into TWO apartments at a very low-rent drug-ridden apartment complex so we had a roof over all our heads, since Jarrod’s girls needed to stay with us for a while as well. And a few weeks later we moved into our current home, a brand new trailer in a trailer park. The apartment manager claimed damages, and tried to bill us for things that were pre-existing in the apartment when we moved out. But I’m pretty sure we were the only ones who had taken such good care of one of those apartments in many years.

I swore I’d never live in a trailer, but I must say, the property manager here has been an absolute pleasure to work with. Maintenance has been on top of issues, its clean and quiet out here. We’ve only had a couple storms that I felt could have threatened our livelihoods, but we remain safe and our home in excellent condition.

We added two new kittens to our family – Sage and Daisy.

As a good point to the year, Jarrod and I were able to take Felix on a mini-vacation to St. Louis. We visited the St. Louis Aquarium, City Museum, and the St. Louis Zoo. More photos can be found on my Instagram or Facebook pages.

In September another wave of things happened; Felix got his official diagnosis of ASD. He is already in many therapies, so nothing much has changed for him. We will continue therapy as we were, and do what we can to educate ourselves and cater to his needs.

Cassy had a falling out with their stepmom and got kicked out of their dad’s place, landing them back in my home. We haven’t had room for them here, so they’ve been sleeping in the living room this whole time, cramping up the whole house and how we do things.

We got our belongings returned to us after talking with a couple of different police departments and starting the process of legal action against our moving company. Several boxes and a few big pieces of furniture were missing. And many more items that were returned were broken or severely damaged. Needless to say, we will never be using a moving company to move our household again. Doing it ourselves with a UHaul may be a nuisance, but its definitely worth keeping all our stuff, and having it all in tact.

I started having severe sciatic pain down my left leg. An X-Ray showed it’s due to degeneration in my spine due to arthritis. I never knew I had arthritis, and as of now, the last day of the year, over 3 months later, I still have not been able to find a proper diagnosis or plan for pain treatment. It has been a very rough and painful 3 months.

Jarrod and I have definitely struggled to maintain any type of decent relationship through all of these struggles, but we talk every day and we’re working through it to the best of our abilities.

In 2022 I look forward to the approval of the mortgage for our home (pending inspection and repairs), and the comfort and security of living there, knowing we will never have to move again. And I hope for COVID to be at a state of acceptable control so we can safely attend public outdoor events again, such as amusement parks, the Iowa State Fair, music festivals, and much more. As simple as that all sounds, I’m sure it won’t be. But I still maintain hope.

Thanks to all my friends, family and followers of my blog. I wish you all a very safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and may your 2022 be more bountiful and serene than 2021.

Moving Finally Complete!

It finally happened! We got our stuff back! Well, most of it, anyway.

If you haven’t read about our moving disaster, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Some time in late September I got a call from a random freight company. The lady on the other end said she had our load scheduled to get on her next truck headed toward the Midwest, and wanted to know if we were ready and able to receive it. We had plans to be away that weekend, but I said I’d arrange for someone else to be here for the delivery. She wanted me to make sure and call her the next day. When I did, she said there wasn’t room for our stuff after all. It made me angry to be “teased” when I had already accepted we wouldn’t be getting our stuff back, even though I was actively pursuing legal counsel.

Then about a week later the same thing happened. A guy called this time, saying our stuff was already on their truck and they were on their way through Chicago, and that they would be here the next day. I didn’t truly believe it that time, but still arranged my schedule so that I would be home. I let check back in with him to make sure he had the right address, and to make sure he was still on his way.

At about 7pm on October 7th the truck arrived. And the guys brought in our boxes, furniture and belongings! The guys who took the job from Sirius van lines were awesome. I’m so thankful for them. Our house was a complete disaster for about a week as we attempted to unpack, sort, organize and evaluate what was delivered. About 80% of our stuff was delivered. Of that, about 15% of it was broken or badly damaged. And I’d say another 20% was mildly damaged. The things missing were really random. Among them were: Andy’s TV, a hanging glass lamp, kitchen utensils, a few of Felix’s toys, our lawnmower, and most of my clothes.

Felix surrounded by boxes!

However, we’re very thankful to receive back what we did, after 5 months of waiting, and certainty that we’d never see any of it again. It was most important to me to have the sentimentals from when the older kiddos were little.

However, I’m still saying to anyone looking for long distance movers: RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. Or just do it yourself. There are way too many scammers out there.

We’re Home!

I never imagined myself living in a mobile home. And I certainly never imagined myself being excited about moving my family into one. However, the mobile home park is one of the places we applied to when our big Iowa house fell through in May. I wasn’t excited by the prospect, but I applied there and a few apartments, since no houses were to be found. As previously mentioned, we moved into an apartment in May after being immediately approved. We moved our few belongings in, and then got our approval for the mobile home. I declined the mobile home at that time because we had just moved into the apartment, but I knew it wasn’t permanent.

While living in the tiny, shitty apartment, Jarrod and I did some serious discussion of future plans. He had been talking about how much he’d love to travel to follow certain bands and musicians, and I had previously (years ago) brought up the idea of tiny living. At that time we wanted a large main house and tiny homes for all the teenagers. But we never went anywhere with the idea. And now that all the teens are going their own ways for the most part, we recognize that we don’t necessarily need a big house, or a lot full of tiny homes. So bringing the wanderlust and tiny living idea together, we looked in RVs and other such ideas. But ultimately we decided to convert a retired school bus into a mobile tiny home.

Then, while visiting someone in their mobile home, I realized how claustrophobic it felt to me. With the long, narrow layout design. At that moment I realized living in a bus would not work for me if I couldn’t feel comfortable in a mobile home. So I decided to make a decision to get myself adjusted. I talked to Jarrod about going back to the mobile home community and accepting the one that was offered to us.

The community manager told me it was no longer available, but that there were other options available. So Jarrod and I went out and toured 3 homes. The first was brand new but very small. The bedrooms were tiny. There was not room for us all. The second was used and smelly, but spacious. She said there would be a lot of work that would go into it before we could move in. The third was brand new AND spacious. But it had pending applications. We knew better than to get our hopes up, but made it very clear that we wanted the third one. It was just a matter of time to see if the other applications were approved, knowing we were already preapproved.

The outside, before it was ready for us.

The next morning I got an email saying we had been approved for home number three! It was everything we wanted. Brand new. Spacious. A beautiful kitchen with an island. And on the edge on the community with lots of greenery in the back. We were thrilled!! We ditched the apartment and moved within just a few days. That’s the only time I’ve felt thankful to not have much – because it didn’t take a lot of effort to move everything.

As of today, July 3rd, we’ve been in our new home for 5 days. It’s comfortable, clean, and OURS. We are renting, but plan to purchase. There’s a purchase program available that we will qualify for after 6 months. We don’t know what it will take to do so, but we’d like to move it to a private property in the future instead of a mobile home community. This will be a long-term home for us.

The kitchen and living room, before and after move-in.

Over the next several years (3-5) we also plan to work on finding, purchasing, and converting a school bus. That way we can have a homebase, and a fully functional home to travel in.

And since I know people want an update on our stuff caught up with the moving company: WE STILL HAVE NOT GOTTEN OUR STUFF BACK. At this point I truly don’t believe we ever will. I continue contacting them and trying to get an answer. They always say they’re working on it. And nothing more. It’s very hard letting go of all the sentimental things we’ve lost. I’m doing my very best to embrace it and see it as a fresh start.

We may have had a very large share of issues this year, but things are finally starting to settle down. With the stability, safety and security of a permanent home, near our loved ones, we can now focus on enjoying life and planning for our future. And to that I say CHEERS! 🥂

Clearing Up A Misunderstanding

I feel like there may be a small misunderstanding amongst our friends, family, and even our community who follows this blog and our life.

I just want to clarify….. our move back to Iowa was not us running back with our tails between our legs. There was no trauma or shame. We were making it just fine in North Carolina. We were fully capable and able earn enough money, pay bills, get proper medical care, etc. Our decision to return “home” was solely based on our desire to be near our family and friends. We were all missing each other pretty bad. The only real issue we had was the way our return moving plans fell apart along the way. But that was unforeseen and had nothing to do with any reason to return.

One day in the not-so-distant future, after the teenagers are all graduated from high school and able to stand on their own two feet, we may move away again… or at least look into a time share or summer home, because that warm/mild winter was FANTASTIC. But for now, we want to be fully here in Iowa for the kiddos. ❤️

Our Nightmare Move

Buckle up, folks. This is going to be a long story.

On April 7th, I found a moving company with an excellent price quote, to move from North Carolina back to Iowa. Move Smart LLC. They quoted us $1800 to move all our belongings…. to come into our home, help finish packing if needed, load the truck, drive our stuff up to Iowa, and unload it all into our new home. That included boxes, beds, appliances, and everything else. Our entire household. At that time we believed we would be moving May 19th. They said they were flexible on the date as long as we notified them at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

On April 16th we moved our date up to May 4th. I notified them immediately. And as we got more information, such as our new address and other details, I notified them of all that as well.

They gave me a 2-day window of May 3-4, and said it would likely be the earlier of the two. I was told they would call at least 2 days ahead of the truck’s arrival to give us more exact timing. So what it came down to is that they were supposed to call no later than Sunday, May 2nd. They didn’t. I called repeatedly. No answer.

I called again on Monday, May 3rd. No one could tell me when the movers were scheduled to be there. I called repeatedly throughout the day to try to get answers, as I believed they would be there that day. Very late in the day, they told me the truck would be there at 8am, first thing in the morning, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile at home, we were finishing up packing. We decided to sell our larger appliances to make the move easier and hopefully cheaper, such as our washer and dryer set, stove and deep freeze. We decided to replace mattresses, and give back our rent-to-own furniture. We were told we would be charged less if we had less than originally estimated.

Monday night Jarrod was preparing to leave by van to drive up to Iowa. The kids and I had plane tickets to leave on Tuesday, May 4th at 4:30pm. The plan was, once the movers picked up our stuff, we were going to get everything else out of the house and put it in a pile for previously-hired junk haulers to pick up. At around 10pm Jarrod left with as much as we could possibly pack into the van, and the pets. The kids and I went to sleep on the mattresses we decided to put into the junk pile.

Felix sleeping on a bare mattress.

Felix woke me up extremely early Tuesday morning. So we got up and around and continued preparing for the movers. 8am came and passed. I called the moving company a couple more times. Finally I was told they were on their way. They arrived right about 10:15am. Upon their arrival I told them all about my experience so far, and they told me they weren’t even notified of my move until 8 that morning. It was never on any schedule or calendar, despite scheduling it weeks ahead of time.

The moving truck, as it arrived.

The 2 guys were efficient and fairly quick. They listened when I said things needed arranged certain ways, or needed to be upright. They wrapped drawers and helped better tape boxes that we couldn’t get to stay closed. But about 2/3 of the way through, one of the guys said we had waaaay more stuff than was originally quoted (based on cubic feet in the truck), and told me it would cost another $1200. At that point it was about noon, and the kids and I needed to be to the airport by 2:30. I couldn’t say no or we would have had to leave everything behind. So I reluctantly agreed. They loaded up the rest of our stuff and were done quickly, around 12:45 or so.

This left the boys and I absolutely no time to do any cleaning or moving anything out of the house. The kitchen needed a fair amount of work, just taking food and trash out. The bedrooms needed the mattresses and a couple end tables removed. There was no damage or anything, just a bunch of stuff that needed removed from the house. And none of it got done. So I left the keys on top of the fridge, and we left. We got lunch at Subway and got to the airport on time.

deep breath That part is done.

While we were having lunch I discovered my phone was disconnected. We had service through Spectrum mobile in NC, but since we were moving I switched to Verizon. I was told our number port would not take place until we activated our new phones. They lied. So Jarrod was without service while driving across several states, and for a few days after. More on that later.

The flight went well. A little delay from weather. We got into Des Moines about half an hour later than originally planned. My mom and Jarrod both met us there. It was great to see my mom for the first time in a year! The boys and I had really missed her. We dropped Cory off at a friend’s, dropped Andy off at my mom’s with her, and Jarrod, Felix and I went to a hotel for the night.

Felix reading books on the plane.

The next day, Wednesday May 5th, we went to Des Moines to sign the lease on our new rental house. We got to tour it in person first, and I was so incredibly excited to have a big, spacious, old house again. It was gorgeous!! The photos simply didn’t do it justice. We put down most of our deposit that day, and went back Friday, May 7th to give them the rest. Our scheduled move in date was June 1st. And the moving company was set to deliver June 3rd.

We all continued staying with friends and family, shuffling around here and there. There were issues occasionally arising, sometimes Jarrod’s girls, sometimes my boys. Issues big and small, but rather stressful considering our living conditions.

Monday, May 10th I got a text from our new landlord. He said I’m sorry but I heard from your old landlord, and I’ve decided not to rent to you. You can come pick up your deposit whenever it’s convenient for you. I asked him why, and he said the old landlord told him we left a big mess, furniture and such, and stole the mailbox. WHAT??

So I emailed our old landlord and said hey I know we left stuff behind… and explained the whole situation with the moving company. He asked me why the hell we stole the mailbox, which we did not. Why would we do that?? In fact we left a NEW mailbox, post, and decorative cover for him to improve it since we never got around to it. Along with making other huge improvements to the property while we lived there like removing a massive amount of junk, trash, and litter from the backyard to make it somewhat livable.

I never heard back from him. And the new landlord held his opinion that we weren’t the right tenants. So that resulted in us being officially homeless. Jarrod was staying in a hotel with one of his daughters, I was staying at my moms with Andy and Felix. And Cory was staying with his dad.

Jarrod and I were forced to lower our standards for a home far below anything we ever wanted. And we settled for a very crappy apartment in a complex where neither of us ever wanted to raise kids. The most frustrating part about that is the problem was never money. There was just NOTHING else available to rent. No 3+ bedroom houses in the area at all! But we decided to go ahead and take the crappy apartment, save up more money, and be ready for a better place when it comes along.

Our apartment.

As of today, it has been over 2 full weeks since I notified the moving company that we have a place and would like our stuff delivered. All I ever hear back is “as soon as I have an update, I’ll let you know,” and “I assure you, we’re working on it.” At this point Jarrod has lost all faith that we will ever see our belongings again, and I am looking into finding us a lawyer. It’s not even about things like our TVs and grill and other furniture. That is all replaceable. What I’m upset about are things like coming-home outfits that all our kids came home in when then were born, crib cards, birth certificates, preschool and elementary school drawings, sentimental gifts, homemade gifts, and items that are irreplaceable. I don’t know if we will ever see those things again. And we know no more as of right now.

To return to the phone situation, we switched from Spectrum mobile to Verizon, since Spectrum ran off Verizon towers and we always had great service with them. So, they disconnected our Spectrum phones at a very bad time, as previously mentioned. I had placed the order for the new service and new phones online, and as it turns out they were shipped to the wrong address by no fault of my own. So I contacted Verizon, and it took not one hour-long conversation, but TWO hour-long conversations to get someone to cancel that order and place a new one to be delivered to the correct address. I had him repeat the address back to me three times. Later that day when I got the confirmation email, it was STILL the wrong address. So Jarrod and I went into a Verizon store in Des Moines. It took three hours in the store before we finally got things straightened out. It turns out their computer system doesn’t accept the Newton address format (it is admittedly odd, but its always been that way). And their system didn’t want to cancel out orders when the actual devices hadn’t been returned yet, but I had all the shipping information saying they were in route to the warehouse and never delivered to me. So the store manager found a work-around. And in the process of it all, I got offered a job! If our home in Des Moines hadn’t fallen through, I likely would have taken it.

So anyway, that’s been the hell we’ve been through for the last month or so.

As for now, we are in the crappy apartment, but doing our best to make it comfortable for ourselves until we find something better. We’re slowly rebuilding small appliances and furniture, thanks to friends and family and community. Everyone has been incredibly helpful, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Jarrod is working his new job, full time. It’s going well. I’m getting Felix set up with all his therapies and doctors again. We’ve been spending time with our friends and family, so that’s been great too! I have faith that things will continue to get better, now that we have weathered that ridiculous storm.