Farewell, North Carolina

My year in North Carolina has been educational.

I’ve learned the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. I always wanted to leave Iowa. But that’s my home and it’s what is comfortable. I have missed the less populated smaller towns and familiar faces that I felt trapped with before. I’ve missed it. A lot.

I’ve learned that city living is definitely not for me. Especially not a big city like the Raleigh area. Too much traffic. Lines no matter where you go. A simple trip to pick up a couple items at the store can typically take up to an hour.

I have learned I don’t need help to get the bills paid. Jarrod and I can do it all on our own. I can be very resourceful if needed, even away from anyone I know. This is something I should have learned long ago. It was a welcomed lesson.

I’ve learned I can forge new professional relationships without my mom having gone there first and referring me, like I always did before. No need to hide behind her and my anxiety.

I’ve learned that I definitely HATE the cold winters. And I loved the more mild winter months. (That was the best part of the year).

I’ve learned that it is very difficult for me to make new friends. I made some online friends, but in-person friends was a whole different deal. Part of that was the pandemic, but part is that no one wants to actually meet in person anymore. They say they do, but that’s all that ever comes of it.

I’ve learned that wildlife is different 1000 miles from home. Giant wood roaches and mosquitoes, slugs, snakes, and so much more I’ve never had to deal with. Gross!

And most of all, the biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that home is where family and friends are. And they are irreplaceable, important, and essential. I’ve learned a lot, but being without many of my loved ones for a year has been miserable.

In just over a week, Jarrod, Andy, Cory, Felix and myself will all be back in Iowa. Back in the company of our families and friends, and back to all we know and now have a newfound appreciation for (except the winter, lol). This year “abroad” wasn’t what we thought it would be, but it was certainly eye opening. As much bad came of it, at least I learned lessons I never would have learned staying in Iowa.

Thanks for the wisdom, North Carolina! Farewell.

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!

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