Category Archives: Raising Teens

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.

Returning Home

Alright, so I know I already made a big long post about the trailer we moved into, and being so happy with it. BUT as a blended family with 7 children (and undoubtedly grandchildren in the future), we should have known better than to believe we wouldn’t need more space. Silly us!

So let me give you a little back story on this home adventure. During my kiddos’ childhood, we moved around quite a number of times. Apartment to apartment, small crappy house to small crappy house. In 2014 I checked out a big, beautiful rental house. As soon as I stepped foot inside I knew this was my home. It was comfortable, homey, and so entirely welcoming, along with having all the space we needed. At that time I couldn’t afford it and we ended up taking a less expensive house. So when it came open again with my improved income, I jumped at the opportunity to live there. The boys and I moved in February 2017.

In September of 2017, right after we got married, Jarrod and his daughters moved in with me and the boys. We became a blended family there, enjoyed our family holidays and gatherings there, brought Felix home from the hospital and raised Felix for his first year there. When we moved to NC in May of 2020, that was the one thing (besides my people) I had the very hardest time leaving behind.

Early this year I heard the landlord was selling the house. I contacted him, knowing we were moving back to Iowa, and told him I wanted to live there again. He told me he could not offer any rental or rent-to-own opportunity, and to contact a banker. Knowing Jarrod and I had less-than-perfect credit (despite our impeccable rental payment history), we sorta dismissed the idea. But as months went by and the house still hadn’t gotten new occupants, I decided to contact a realtor just to give the house one last walk through, as I missed it so much.

When we all arrived at the house and went inside, I told the realtor we had lived there previously for over 3 years, and we wanted it but we needed someone to work with us. As we walked through the rooms of the house, I talked more about our history there and our love for the house. So the realtor gave me the contact info for a banker that was good at working for people in our sort of situation.

The banker took a preliminary look at our credit histories along with a few other factors, knew right away he could make it work for us, and gave us our pre-approval. The realtor helped us make our offer on the house, and it was accepted! We have been working diligently with the banker and the realtor to get all the paperwork and inspections and everything else done to close in January. We’re officially first time homebuyers!!

Details: it’s a 3 bedroom, 2 full bathroom home built in 1940, with a partially finished basement and mature trees. It’s got a little over 1800 sq ft, an attached 2 car garage, and a nice big yard.

We went from believing we wouldn’t have a chance, to being just a few weeks away from moving into our forever home, in less than a month! I’m so incredibly grateful that I contacted someone about the house, and that we’ve been given this opportunity. Now we can provide the stability and permanence for Felix that we weren’t able to provide previously. THIS WILL BE OUR VERY LAST MOVE, EVER!! ❤️

I have so many ideas for improvements and renovations we can do over time. I’m so excited to move in and start the rest of our lives in the home of our dreams!

Fur Babies

When I was a little kid I loved animals. My mom had a black cat named Scorpio who I took naps with and played with every day when I was 3-4 years old.

Then we moved to an apartment where we couldn’t have pets. We were three for many years. I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian one day. Once we got out of there (when I was 12), we moved to a house out in the country and had many, many pets. Dogs, a bunny, a pig, an iguana, large aquariums, ferrets…. but specifically a great many cats.

The cats were mostly all outside cats. They weren’t spayed or neutered so they just bred indiscriminately. In the spring and summer we would end up with around 40 cats and kittens. But by the end of winter we would be down to 6-8. Between the brutal Iowa winters, disease, parasites, and the highway, there was a high cat death rate. At first I was naming all of the new kittens and getting attached to them all the time. But by the end of 4-5 years of seeing them come and go, I deemed myself NOT a cat person. To me they were too “disposable,” for lack of a better description.

Fast forward to 2010. I was living in an apartment with my older 3 kiddos. One of my friends down the hall had a cat who had kittens. I picked the only orange kitten of the litter. We named her Sunny. She became a permanent member of the family.

Andy and Sunny became inseparable. She claimed him as her human. We got 10 good years with Sunny. Unfortunately she was let outside during our stay in NC and disappeared. Despite all our efforts to find her, she never came home. Out of guilt I got Andy a kitten after that. No cat can replace our beloved Sunny. But Hera has brought Andy a lot of joy.

Then I started evaluating why I didn’t like cats. Yeah, litter boxes are annoying. But if kept clean they don’t stink. Yeah cats can be assholes, knocking stuff over and shredding toilet paper. But they can be the best companions. Then I thought back to the farm life and I understood where my opposition to cats as pets came from. I just didn’t want to get attached to something that was going to break my heart.

Longer story shortened, I decided to get a kitten for myself. I started looking around and found a lady here in town with several litters. I wanted a calico kitten originally. So I went to pick one out and immediately bonded with a grey and white kitten. So I brought both her and a calico home.

Meet Sage (grey and white) and Daisy (calico).

They have been with us for just about two months now. They are both absolute terrors, and sweet little cuddle bugs at the same time. I adore them both, but Daisy is a lot more aloof with me. Sage is my buddy. She sits on me every time I’m sitting down. She gets in my face and grabs my phone for attention. It’s adorable.

These kittens have brought a lot of joy into my life. I’m so glad I was able to move past the trauma of many lost kitty lives, and learn to allow myself to be attached again. It’s been so worth it!!

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. ❤️