Category Archives: Raising The Younger Ones

Snapshot Of Our Lives

Life is ever-changing. Tastes change, circumstances change, people grow and change. I know where I am now, and what I do on a daily basis is far different today than it was a year ago. Or the year before that. So I’m going to make this post once or twice per year. This is a snapshot of what my life looks like today.

Today Felix woke me around 10:30am, which has gotten earlier over the past couple weeks. He was sleeping in until noon. He cuddles me for a few minutes before he goes to play, a morning tradition I cherish. He and I woke Jarrod, and then Felix played for a while while Jarrod and I checked our phone notifications.

Felix and Scout, just starting the day.

Then Jarrod cooked some eggs for the three of us, and I got our drinks. Today we had cold cereal with our eggs, other days we have toast with peanut butter, bacon, or oatmeal. While we have breakfast we watch something on the iPad. News, game shows, reality shows, or sitcoms. Today it was Big Bang Theory. Once we were done eating, around 11:45am, Jarrod left for work. He works noon til 9:00pm right now.

Today we had no appointments. So we didn’t have much to do. I took a shower while Cory hung out in the living room with Felix. Felix played with his toys in the living room and rode his horsey all over the house. Cory played on my computer for a while and had a show playing on the TV. I chatted with him and cruised social media. I also did some light cleaning, and watched our kittens play. Around 3, Felix crawled up into my lap and passed out for a nap. He naps on me, Jarrod or Cory when he naps. Typically he sleeps for about 30 minutes, but today it was about an hour and a half.

Sleepy boy!

Other days Felix may have a checkup or therapy, we may have friends to hang out with, or shopping to do. Sometimes my mom or Jarrod’s will visit, Evan or one of the girls will hang out for a while, or we will go out to eat. If Jarrod has a day off we usually find something to do outside of the house.

Once Felix woke up from his nap, I fed him lunch. After lunch he watched a couple episodes of the cartoons Pablo and Simon on Netflix while I placed an order online at Walmart for pickup, like I do a couple times per week. As of right now, COVID and RSV are quite common amongst children, and though everyone else in the house is vaccinated against COVID, I’m doing my part to protect Felix by reducing my contact with the public. So currently (again) I’m not taking him into stores much. So our trips to the store for pickup are regular outings as well.

When we got back from the store we had a snack, and I put on some music on YouTube for Felix. He LOVES Billy Strings, so I just put some videos on and he will watch and dance. That has bought me a little time to write this blog post. Even though Andy just decided to emerge from his room for the first time since I’ve been awake today. Nevertheless, I’m continuing to write because I’ve already had too many distractions over the last couple days. Once I’m done, I’ll get supper started.

Felix on his horsey, Billy Strings videos playing.

We will eat late, once Jarrod gets home from work. Usually around 9:30-10pm. He will take a shower before he eats, and bathe Felix once supper is over. That’s their bonding time, since he’s gone for most of Felix’s waking hours. While that’s going on, I’ll get the kitchen cleaned up, and maybe tidy up a few other things. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Sims 4 in the evenings before bed. Jarrod will have Friends or some other sitcom playing on the TV and will play with Felix or look at his phone if Felix is busy playing. We will talk about the day and update each other on anything important or entertaining that happened, or anything coming up either of us should be aware of.

Felix is usually ready to sleep around 12:30-ish. So we will head to the bedroom, read Felix a couple stories, and he and I will brush our teeth. And then we will get into bed. I hold Felix until he falls asleep, and then lay him down on his mattress, which is right up against ours. Jarrod and I both stay in bed at that point too. And the day is over.

The therapies Felix has are Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. He currently has referrals to get his vision and hearing checked again, and has an upcoming appointment with the Developmental Specialist, and Genetics.

Today was a mellow, rather boring day. Not all days are like today. In fact, often we have so much to do that we’re all exhausted by the end of the day. But right now, I love where we are. I love how Felix is my best friend, and is so much fun to play with and go to appointments with. He enjoys therapy and all of our outings. There are times I feel overwhelmed by my lack of alone time, but then I just take a step back and remember these days won’t last forever. In fact, these days will be short and sweet, and someday not too far into the future I will miss my little boy and our fun times together.

Not today, but adorable anyway. 💕

This is a snapshot of now. I know things will change so much, so it will be nice to have this post as a little reminder of today.

One And Done

When Jarrod and I discussed our sterilization reversals back in 2018, we thought about having 2-3 babies together. I got pregnant on the first cycle, but pregnancy in my late 30s was quite a bit more challenging than it was in my early 20s. So once Felix was born, we both wanted to wait a little while to relax and recover of course. However after just a few weeks, Felix started crying with “colic” that continued for months. At some time in the middle of that, Felix was also diagnosed with a global developmental delay and hypotonia. He got referrals for many specialists and testing, including therapies. The developmental doctor said they wanted to take an aggressive approach as early as possible to give him the best outlook later on. Meanwhile, the “colic” continued until Felix was about 10 months old. Now that Felix is 2 1/2 years old, and knowing what we do, I believe it was sensory issues and intestinal cramping that was causing his crying.

Back to the point… Jarrod and I had planned on more babies, but as time went on, and we got deeper and deeper into specialists and testing and therapies, we not only had less and less time for each other, but it began to become pretty clear that dividing our time further would not be in anyone’s best interest.

Then, a couple weeks ago I really got to thinking about the whole process of being pregnant and having another baby. As things are right now, Felix sleeps on his toddler mattress on the floor, right up against our mattress, which is also on the floor. So essentially he still co-sleeps. I go to bed when he does, wake with him in the middle of the night, and get up when he does. I stay home with him, and take him to his appointments, play dates, etc. He is very demanding of my attention, and trusts I will fulfill all his needs every day, which I do. It’s been difficult to carve out time not only for myself and my own health and basic needs, but also for my older kids who still need me, and my marriage! But the thought that really tipped the scale for me was the idea of me leaving for 2-3 nights to have the baby, and Felix not understanding why I’m not there for him. Then coming home with a baby in need of most of my attention and Felix having his whole life flipped upside down because of it. It was heartbreaking to think of. So after a very serious discussion with Jarrod weighing all the pros and cons of everything I’ve already stated here and more, I decided to get another tubal ligation.

I had an appointment with my doctor last week and made an appointment for a tubal ligation. This particular doctor removes the Fallopian tubes entirely (because most ovarian cancer starts in the tubes), so there will be zero chance of another pregnancy in the future. This time it will be permanent. I think at 40 years old, with 4 kids (and 3 bonus kids), I am more than happy to be done with that chapter of life.

Felix has completed our family. Though he will essentially be raised an only child, with siblings 12-17 years older than him, that just means he will have plenty of people to care for and look after him. And I don’t mind saying we all spoil him too.

My surgery is scheduled for September 27th. It’s an outpatient, laparoscopic procedure, with very little downtime.

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! 🥂

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.

Life Is Good

I haven’t had an easy life. Lots of adversity, mostly brought on by my own choices, actions, and energy. I’ve done a lot of quitting things that would have turned out good for me. I’ve been around a lot of negative people. I’ve had a lot of so-called friends that tend to root for negative occurrences in my life, and my depressed reactions. Even when things seemed to be going well for me socially, I ended up with another series of unfortunate events regarding my health. My depression took a turn for the worst, I started lashing out at those I love…. my life, from my perspective, really turned to shit.

Then we moved across the country. I hated it for a while, having brought my negative attitude with me. It wasn’t what I expected, and I wasn’t open to change. I got even more negative. Depressed. Anxious. Angry.

And then I stopped.

I was tired of being angry and frustrated. I started thinking about my kids, and how they see me. And how they deserved better from me. I started thinking about the early days in my marriage, and how in love my husband and I were with each other, and how he now deserved better from me. I started thinking about how happy I was back then, and how well I took care of myself, and how I deserved better from me, too. I started faking happiness. “Fake it ’til you make it.” And it helped.

I’ve gotten involved in a few things, giving me a sense of community, which helped dramatically. I’ve gotten more involved in my home, accepting where we are and finding joy in the little things. Who cares if we aren’t in the perfect house, in the perfect location? We are away from Iowa, like I’ve always wanted. We are in a home that is warm and safe. We have good food in our kitchen, warm clothing in our closets, working utilities and appliances, entertainment for our mandatory time spent at home during the pandemic, and the LOVE of one another. LIFE IS GOOD!

I’ve refocused my energy. I’m not concerning myself with that which is beyond my control. I’m recognizing how blessed I am. I am thankful beyond all words that I get to stay home with Felix and watch him grow and learn. That I am the one who gets to take him to all of his specialist appointments and therapies. That I am the one he knows he can trust to take care of his needs every day, rather than a child care provider. I am thankful that I can create a warm, comfortable home for my husband when he comes home from a hard day of working to support our amazing family. I am thankful for the outstanding man that he is, and how well he provides for us, not only financially, but as a loving father and husband as well. I am thankful that I am able to help Andy learn how to grow into an independent man, helping him navigate the work world and finances. I am thankful that Cory has been able to continue his education online during this pandemic, and not miss out on a year of high school. I am thankful we are only 2 hours from the ocean, 3 hours from mountains, and always in the middle of the woods. I am thankful for, and looking forward to, the variety of opportunities this new part of the country will provide for us all once things open back up and we recover from the illness that has surrounded us for so many months.

LIFE IS GOOD! And I will never take my blessings for granted again.

With all of that being said, this blog is now officially reopened, and I will post an update about once a month. I will share what new things we have been able to discover, what adventures we’ve found, and of course, updates on Felix for our family. 2021 is the start of something great… I just know it!!

Thanks for reading. xoxo