Four years ago today, knowing not much about one another, Jarrod and I hopped in a car and drove to Colorado together on absolutely no sleep. We arrived early in the afternoon, went into the courthouse in the town of Golden, and got married. Then we stayed at a beautiful little bed and breakfast called Meadow Creek Mountain Lodge for our one-night “honeymoon” of sorts. We would have stayed longer but we had obligations back home.
Since then, we have been through an extraordinary amount of ups and downs. More than any one couple should endure in a lifetime, I dare say. And here we are today, still together and back in Iowa, raising our own child together alongside our 6 teenagers, and making many plans for the future. Four years ago our family and friends called us crazy. No one believed it would ever work. Everyone assumed we would fizzle out as quickly as we came together. BUT WE DIDN’T. We love each other not only as much now as that adventurous day, but so much more. We have learned many life lessons with one another and from one another.
Today for our anniversary, with Felix along for the occasion, we decided to visit the zoo and then grab some our favorite cuisine for takeout on the way home.
Felix wasn’t a real fan of the zoo, but he did pretty well. We grabbed some creole food from Buzzard Billy’s for our anniversary meal. And we’ve been able to just relax alone at home together the rest of the evening while Felix happily plays with his toys. It’s been a great day together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As some of my friends and family already know, since we moved to North Carolina we have not been pleased with the house or property that we moved into. But since finding a place that checks off all the requirements on our list doesn’t seem to be an option at the moment, I decided to put some love into the house that we are in. Our home needs to be our safe space, our comfort. And so I took steps to make it that.
Since it is a rental, and we can’t make permanent changes, I took a different approach to making this old ugly deck a place we can retreat to.
We got the deck table and chairs a few months ago to replace the ones we left in Iowa, thinking we would be able to use the set here. But since then, many large branches and spiky ball seeds have fallen onto our deck, squirrels and our outside cats have taken over the table and chairs, and of course the backyard is completely full of bugs. The backyard and deck has been a completely unpleasant place to spend time, to say the least. Not to mention rather unsafe.
As we can’t replace boards on the deck itself, I decided to just cover them with Astroturf. I was able to purchase the turf at Home Depot for cheap. That made a big difference all by itself. But the bugs and falling objects were still a concern.
So I set out to find some sort of way to screen in the area without any permanent structure. Any canopies I found seemed to be very expensive, and I didn’t want just some cheap tent on the deck. I searched and searched and finally found a couple of fairly priced canopies at Big Lots. Our deck is 12’ x 24’ so I wanted something to enclose as much of that space as possible. The best screened in canopies I found were 11’ x 11’. So I got two. I put one up the first night.
It was a lot more stable, tall and spacious than I expected. But as it got dark, I knew the rest was going to have to wait until the next day. In the morning, we all got up and had breakfast, and I continued working. I put up the second canopy, was able to attach the two together, nail the bases to the deck floor, and tether the outside to the deck rail. They are very securely attached. Trust me when I say, the canopies are not going anywhere. But I wasn’t done with just Astroturf and a couple of canopies.
I put up a few strings of lights around the frames, cleaned up the table and chairs so they were usable, bought a new hammock with a base, brought out a bunch of Felix‘s toys, a few houseplants, and we now have our outdoor oasis. It is a wonderful place to be day or night, with the perfect amount of light, and an Amazon echo in the kitchen window so we can tell her to turn the lights on and off, or play music for us. It is by far my favorite space in/out of our house. This definitely makes our home more comfortable.
To my friends and family, and those who know me far and wide: Shauna Mae is no longer who I am.
She was a victim, a failure, an angry and sometimes selfish and insensitive person. The trauma and abuse, grief and depression, sadness and anger inside that person was wrapped up and knitted into the fabric of her very being from childhood into adulthood. Breaking out of the cycle of abuse and self-hatred took a few years. But moving out of Iowa and away from all of the reminders of that life helped to lay that person to rest. I know the name was given by my mother, to honor her mother. And while I respect that naming process, and I don’t want to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings, I cannot be called by that name any longer. To me, that name is the representation of everything I have fought so hard to shed.
I have taken myself on a journey to find a name that suits me. It wasn’t an easy one to come by. I have used online nicknames for many years, but none of them were right. But then, I decided to name myself after what brings me joy. The soft sand and surf between my toes, the bright sunshine on my face, the warm breezes through my hair… What could be better than the best season of the year?
The name I’m choosing for myself: Summer Sky!
To my mom, I mean no disrespect by making this change for myself. I truly hope you can understand, knowing everything I’ve been through and overcome throughout my life. You have been there by my side through all of it, and I have the deepest respect and appreciation for that. I understand what the name means that you gave to me, and she will always be a part of me. I just feel it’s time to move on from her.
All of this being said, I am asking all of my friends and family, acquaintances old and new, to call me by the name Summer from today forward. Thank you for your respect on this matter. And thank you for being a part of my life, my growth, and my future.