Hello, North Carolina!

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The U-Haul getting all finished up.

Saturday, May 16th at around 4pm, the driving crew set out from Iowa to drive to our new home in North Carolina.  Jarrod, Andy, Cory, Amber C & Amber DC, and their friend Sheila all got into one of our cars and the U-Haul truck (towing our other vehicle), and took off.  Amber DC kept in touch with me along the way, letting me know status updates periodically about the kids and the dog.  Jarrod let me know every time they entered a new state.

Saturday night I had planned on staying at my mom’s house with Evan and Felix.  However, things didn’t work out quite as planned, so Evan ended up staying at a friend’s house, and I ended up staying with a different friend.  Felix did fine overnight, for the first night ever spent away from home.  And the next morning we got ready, and my mom picked up us, and then picked Evan up, and took us all to the airport in Des Moines.  It was a tearful good-bye, and very hard to walk away from my mom.  I knew she and I would miss each other miserably.  After many hugs and tears, we parted ways and we were on our way to our gate.

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Above the clouds and the mountains.

We flew from Des Moines, IA to Charlotte, NC.  And then we switched planes and flew from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC.  It was the first time Evan ever flew, and he swears he will never do it again.  He was not impressed.  It was also the first time Felix flew, and he did amazingly well.  He didn’t cry or complain in any way except for about the last 10 minutes of the first flight, and that was because he was just bored at the end of that 2 hours on my lap.  The second flight went very well too.

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Arrived in Raleigh!

It took the driving crew about 25 hours to make it all the way to our new house.  Once our flight landed in Raleigh, we had to wait about an hour for Jarrod to get the U-Haul parked at our new house and take a car to pick us up.  It was so great to be able to see him again after being apart for a little over 24 hours.

 

When we pulled up, the house looked exactly as it did in the pictures.  However, going inside and looking around, it was a bit dank.  It smelled musty, as though no one had lived there for a few months or so.  There was a bunch of junk on the back deck like old interior doors and broken blinds.  The lawn was long and neglected.  The place wasn’t very clean.  I was pretty unhappy, feeling like I made a mistake in choosing this house for our family home.  However, over the following few days, Jarrod and I cleaned and tidied and arranged our belongings in a way that has really made it come together as our home.

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Our new backyard.

Now that we’ve been here for a couple of weeks, Jarrod and I are both much happier.  Besides a handful of boxes left to unpack, we have everything where we want it to be.  Coming from such a large house into one that is considerably smaller, we had to make some adjustments.  For starters, we had to rent a storage shed for quite a few of our belongings that simply won’t fit into this house.  Our dining table was far too large for our current diningroom, so we had to put it in storage and buy a smaller one (used).  We weren’t able to bring any living room furniture with us in the U-Haul, so we are doing a rent-to-own deal for a sectional couch.  Most everything else we needed I was able to find for free or very cheap on Amazon or Facebook Marketplace.

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Felix enjoying the view out the front windows.

Jarrod has started his general manager training for the restaurant where he was hired.  He will be training for a few weeks, and then he will be managing his own store.  I am still in the process of getting Evan and Cory enrolled in school, and finding a pediatrician and PT for Felix.  Some of that depends on government and school offices opening up again.

I’ve been a little lonely with Jarrod working full time already.  But I know this is a temporary thing.  Eventually life will be able to resume and I’ll be able to set up play dates for Felix again.  And in so doing, I’ll be able to make some mom friends locally.  I really look forward to that.  In the meantime I’m just finishing up the paperwork and registration for all the boys and their various needs.  I’m making our house feel more and more like our home.  And I’m just living our normal life here in North Carolina.  It doesn’t really feel like we are so far away from what we’ve always known.  The biggest difference is that I can’t see family and friends.  But I know they will visit us here, and we will visit in Iowa as well.

Remembering

Iowa has always been my home.  My mom moved us here to Newton when I was 5 years old.  Newton is where I grew childhood friendships, and where I started and attended elementary school.  A huge chunk of my childhood was here, and nearly all of my adulthood.  I was only away from Newton long enough to finish high school and learn about working and being on my own in a larger city, and then I came right back here.  My children were all four born here, and my three oldest have attended school here always.  Jarrod and I met here (and he’s been a lifelong resident as well).  We worked a job together, built a happy home together in the only house we’ve ever been in as a couple, and created a life and family together here.

Newton-IA

I have learned about love and heartache.  The gift of life and the devastation of loss.  All the good times full of laughter and joy, along with all the deeply desperate and bad times.  Driving through Newton, every street has a memory.  Every park holds a part of my personal history.  Many houses contain pieces of my childrens’ upbringings.  And here we are, in our last few days within it all.

Among the things I will miss, of course, my mom is the one I will miss the most.  She’s been the one here for me always, no matter what.  She’s been my best friend, the one I can go to and lean on for anything.  She knows me inside and out.  I love her so very much.  I will miss my best friend Amber.  Though this pandemic has kept us apart a lot more than we’d like to be, it is going to be rough knowing I can’t just drive down the road and hang out.  I’m going to miss Skyla and Shane, new friends that Jarrod and I have made through Felix.  I’m going to miss our wonderfully spacious house that has been our family home through the duration of our marriage so far.  This house has more memories for us than I could even begin to count.  I am going to miss our favorite breakfast/lunch spot, Midtown Cafe, and the owners, The Sharpnacks.  They have been like extended family to us.  Felix was basically grown in my tummy on their delicious creations.  I’m going to miss the helpful therapy providers and medical professionals Felix has needed during his infancy.  We’ve gotten so much support from them for his developmental needs.  And of course many more friends and acquaintances I have made throughout the years.

New-chapterHowever, I very much look forward to turning the page in my life story.  Jarrod and I will be presented in our new home as a couple, from day one.  No one will be asking us how our exes are, or what happened years ago.  They will see us as a family unit, and accept that from the beginning.  We will no longer be questioned or doubted for our longevity or commitment.  The older boys can all take their lives into their own hands and put out whatever part of themselves they want to be known for as well.  Felix will have more opportunities as he grows than he ever could have been provided here.  Jarrod already has career opportunities and options in NC he could not achieve here.  And I’m looking forward to finding my path wherever life takes me out there as well.

Though I’m looking around and realizing all that I will miss, I am also very excited to turn this page and create my new chapter.  One for not just myself, but most of all for my family.  This is going to be the amazing, refreshing turn of events we all need in our lives.

4 days until MOVING DAY!

My next update will be from our new home, about our journey and our new beginning.  Stay tuned…

We’re Moving!

For years I have been talking about moving away from Iowa.  When I was quite a bit younger, in my early 20s, I even attempted it a couple times.  But my plans were always half-assed, and I was never quite aware of all the planning and preparation it took to move far away.  That ignorance got me into a couple of predicaments, and I always ended up back in Iowa with the help of my mom.

However, a few years ago I visited Florida and I knew then and there, for absolute certain, I was not meant to stay in Iowa.  I fell in love with the trip halfway across the country, and especially with the ocean.  At that time I had decided I would move to Florida at some point, I just didn’t know when.  I had a job and a relationship and family tying me to Iowa at the time, and no real opportunities at my destination.  So I stayed put and planned.

ncWhen Jarrod and I started planning our future together, before we even said “I do,” we agreed that we would move away.  I had said Florida, but he expressed how much he didn’t like the climate down there.  Over the last two years or so we have been discussing just where we may want to go.  The idea of North Carolina came up because of the trip we took to get my tubal reversal surgery.  While we were there we explored Raleigh a little bit, and we really felt at home there.  The weather was nice, the scenery was beautiful, and there was plenty to do.  We looked into a few other locations around the country too, including where we got married near Denver, CO, and of course a little bit around Florida and Georgia… and even other places in Iowa.  But after serious consideration of our options, we landed on moving to North Carolina.

We knew we were going to move either this year, 2020, with the help of our tax returns, or in 2021.  Jarrod and I both started looking for job opportunities, and I started looking into rental housing.  He submitted a few applications just to get a feel for the area, and I continued to look into rental prices, neighborhoods, schools, and other needs and desires we have in a place we’d like to call home.  And as if it were meant to be, Jarrod got a serious job offer making more than he could make here, and I found a rental house that suits our family at an affordable rate, both at the same time.

As Jarrod moved forward with his phone interviews, and we moved forward with our live video tour of the house we had chosen, it became clear the move was going to happen sooner rather than later.  It was just a matter of arranging the actual move and letting our family and friends know it was going to happen.

I told my older boys first, since they are to go along.  All three of them are okay with it, and even excited to go.  Then I told my mom and a couple of my friends, and Jarrod told his family.  And finally I announced it on social media for our online friends.  While I was met with congratulations, encouragement, and offers to help us out however possible from my family and friends, Jarrod was met with skepticism and doubt from his family.  He was showered with resentful comments about pulling away from his family, and questions about his motives and preparedness, as though this wasn’t a decision that was thought through or planned out.

Through it all, we chose to accept the encouragement and leave the rest.  Rest assured, years of thought and planning has gone into this decision. It is not something we are taking lightly or doing on a whim.  All our bases are covered as far as income and jobs, housing, utilities, and a network of other parents who are ready and willing to guide us in the right directions as far as medical and educational needs for the kids.  Not to mention the fact that we are grown adults and are able to figure things out on our own as well.

NC (1)Anyway, the point to all this?  We are very excited to announce that this month we are moving from Iowa, our lifelong home, to North Carolina.  And we will only be a couple hours drive away from the beach!  We are ready and excited to start this new chapter of our lives.  That doesn’t mean we are leaving anyone behind.  We are just looking forward and following new and greater opportunities.  It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, any and all of our friends and family members are always welcome to visit us.  Of course we will visit when we can, as well.  And we can all keep in touch through social media, texting, and phone calls in the meantime, just as we do now.  I’ll keep this blog updated as we go about life in our new place, and no one will need to miss a thing.

xoxo

Quarantine

I feel like its been forever since I’ve published a blog post.  So much has happened in the last couple weeks since I wrote about Felix’s amazing progress.  Not so much just in our home, but in the world.  And since this is a blog written mostly for me and my family to look back on, I’m going to state facts and opinions that most everyone has already either said, read, or heard otherwise.  So sorry if I seem like a broken record with this one…

The world is sick. A new strain of corona virus, called COVID-19, has made the jump from animals to human, and over the course of the last several months it has spread to over a million confirmed human cases so far. I say confirmed, because testing is strictly limited, and unless it’s an extreme illness or a high risk situation, you can’t get tested. The first case was in Wuhan, China. It spread across Asia and Europe, Australia and the United States. It’s almost everywhere now. Italy, Spain, and China have been the hardest hit so far, but USA is closely rising to the top of that list. USA has the most confirmed cases, but not as many deaths yet.  COVID-19 attacks the lungs. Most people that end up hospitalized need to be on a ventilator to recover. It typically attacks those who immunocompromised, have a heart or pre-existing lung condition, or are older than 60.

People have been given orders across the states to stay in their homes, and only go out to get essentials for survival like groceries. Social distancing has been a requirement, where everyone is supposed to stay at least 6 feet away from each other in public. All private gatherings are supposed to be limited to 10 people or less. All church services, concerts, festivals, and even many businesses have been closed, cancelled and/or postponed. Restaurants, theaters, playgrounds, bars, salons, gyms and casinos are all closed. Restaurants are allowed only to do delivery and carry out. Schools were closed until April 13th, and now that’s been extended until April 30th, though it is expected school will not resume until fall.  just yesterday the CDC announced that everyone should wear masks in public, to prevent the spread of the disease even from the asymptomatic.

Early on, before it got real bad here, people went out and bought all the cleaning supplies and toilet paper. It has been difficult, even weeks later, to find toilet paper and diapers.

Over a normal 2-week period in the United States there are about half a million unemployment claims. In the last 2 weeks there have been over 10 million claims. The stock market is crashing. The government is attempting to help the American workers and small businesses by sending out relief checks for $1200 per individual and $500 per child, also stimulus for small businesses. But the future is looking very grim right now. Medical supplies are running critically short and the cases are just now ramping up. The country’s top infectious disease specialist says he expects around 240,000 US deaths by the time we’re done. This is where we are today (3 APRIL 2020):

At first I thought people were being ridiculous with all the closures and whatnot. Now I take it a lot more seriously. My mom is diabetic and has a heart condition, Jarrod’s mom has a heart condition, my best friend has a lung condition…. this virus has the potential to really rock our lives. So I’m doing everything I can to be as safe as possible. Perhaps I’ve even gone a bit overboard… time will tell.

Jarrod is frustrated because he’d rather stay home and be safe, but his employer (a restaurant) refuses to close despite their restrictions and slow business. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before our state closes everything down and has us Shelter In Place like many other states already have.

Having to stay home and not be able to go anywhere or do anything at all (except grocery runs and walks in the neighborhood) has definitely been hard to adjust to. I think most people expected this to pass quickly, but the fact is, it will go on for many more months. All we can all do is take this one day at a time, and do all our best to stay safe and make the best of our quarantine.

Amazing Progress

In the last four weeks a lot has happened with Felix. Just four weeks ago, he wasn’t even trying to get himself around. He would scoot a little bit, maybe roll here and there, but that’s it. Then, he started doing the army crawl, where he was pulling himself around by his forearms. For the past couple weeks he’s been full-on crawling on his hands and knees!

For the past 3-4 days he has been pulling himself up into a stand both in his crib in the mornings and during play times in the playroom. Also at that time he started babbling at last! He’s become very focused on the exersaucer and all the things he can do with the different toys. He’s working hard on making his hands work.

And today he took a couple of self-assisted steps! This boy is taking off in development all at once. Jarrod and I are so very proud of him!

Felix is 1!

We made it!  Felix is a year old!  He has grown and changed so much since he was born.  For the first six months of his life I didn’t think we’d make it to this day, but we sure did.  Nowadays, Felix is a very busy boy.  He is working very hard in physical therapy, building up those muscles that it takes to crawl and eventually walk.  He crawls a little bit at a time once or twice per day, so he DOES know how.  But he finds it easier and faster to army crawl on his belly to get to what he wants.  He likes to use his walker toys to pull himself up onto his knees or his feet.  But he’s not at all steady on his feet yet.  I am excited for him to learn how to use his body in these ways, but I am in no hurry.  He’s moving on his own timeline and I’ve finally come to a place of acceptance with that.  He’s healthy and happy and that’s what matters the very most.

Felix is still breastfeeding, though less these days.  He eats breakfast, lunch and supper with the family, mostly eating what we eat.  He still has some purees and softer foods because with his motor delays, he has some delays in how he eats as well.  But its getting better every day.  He loves bath time…. in fact I think anything involving water is his favorite!  He splashes and crawls around in the tub.  And when I take him to the pool at the local YMCA, he is very excited and kicks and splashes the whole time!  His other favorite part of the day is breakfast time with mommy and daddy before work.

I don’t want to jinx anything and say everything is on track with sleep… because nothing is perfect.  But for the time being things have improved.  In general he’s sleeping more at night, but still never took up napping.  I’ve accepted that as well, and quite enjoy him being awake and keeping me company during our days.  He’s so fun, smiley, and really likes helping me do household chores and having me play with him in his playroom.  He also has a couple of friends for play dates now.

Some things coming up for Felix: he had an eye exam and they found he needs glasses.  Hopefully that will help inspire him to keep working on crawling.  We’re hoping if he can see further and more clearly, he will want to explore his surroundings more.  Also, when he stands, he has a tendency to turn his feet over and stand on his toes and the tops of his feet with his toes curled under.  The PT says that is what some kiddos do for stability, though it is terribly counter-productive.  So he’s getting SureSteps (braces) for his feet that will go with shoes and help create the habit of standing on his feet properly.  He is expected to need them for only about 6 months, since he’s so young.  Also, since we’ve been working so hard on large motor skills, we’re going to get new evaluations for fine motor skills and feeding.  He’s making wonderful progress, so we expect a little extra help will help him get caught up all the quicker.

This has been a challenging, but exciting year.  I’m very happy with how far we’ve come, and where we are now.  I’m excited to see what the next year brings and beyond.  Felix has become such a wonderful little boy.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Felix’s 1st Birthday Party

Felix had his birthday party on Sunday, February 2nd… 2 days before his birthday.  It was a BEAUTIFUL February day, at 50 degrees!  Finally, a day people were able to show up!  Attendees included me and Jarrod, of course, all 6 of his older siblings, both of his grandmas, Akasha, Vincent, Earl, Amber & Amber, and Nate.  He had a pirate/sea creatures theme going on, with lots of fun decorations, a cake for sharing, and a smash cake just for Felix.  Grandma Connie brought her awesome ham and cheese sliders for guests, and cheesy potatoes.  We also had punch and chips for everyone.

Felix had an awesome day!  He didn’t get grumpy at all despite not being able to have a nap at his usual time.  He REALLY got into his smash cake, and enjoyed every gift he received.  Nearly a week later, he’s still enjoying his new toys.  Jarrod and I consider this party a HUGE success for Felix.  He definitely enjoyed his day and all the attention.

Thank you to everyone who helped make Felix’s big day a memorable one!