Tag Archives: joy

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!!

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.

Outdoor Oasis

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.

Before the transformation. Ugly old deck.

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.

Turf down

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.

Canopy number 1

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.

Both canopies up

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.

All done!
Time to relax and enjoy!

My Name Is _____

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.