Our Adventures Thus Far

So, I had every intention at the beginning of the year, to really be more consistent with the blog. I am just not feeling the writing stuff as much as I am listening to Podcasts and I have thrown around the idea of starting my own, with just Punky and I talking. We have some crazy fun conversations sometimes. But, I think since I’ve been following most of the same people here and on Facebook/Instagram I don’t really have anything new to talk about that I don’t already do on Facebook/Instagram.

But, I did come across the most amazing thing this month. It started with me being gifted a Birchbox subscription for Christmas. I love it. I am not a big make-up girl, but I love getting mail that’s not bills and it’s always like opening a present every month. I get stuff for my hair, perfume, and then random make-up things I play with or give away. All in all it’s been a pretty awesome thing. Upon seeing Mommy receive these fun boxes in the mail, Punky expressed that she wished people sent her mail.

So Kim and I looked into subscriptions for kids. There are a lot of them to choose from, but man, this one is my favorite. We got Koala Crate and I’ve been eyeballing it since I first saw it many moons ago in a Facebook promoted post or something. But, I’ve always been kind of skeptical about doing subscription stuff for Punky. She flakes out pretty easily. I bought a subscription to ABC Mouse and while she loved it, she needed a lot of help or had to use one of our computers when we needed it and the subscription soon lost its value. We got her a subscription to an android app for books. And she spent a great deal of time with it, I don’t remember what its called right now, Owl something or another, but it’s just books for all ages and topics and she just had to touch the picture and it read the book her. She played it for about a week and that too went off on the wayside.

So imagine my skepticism when I read I was going to have to spend $20 a month just to send my kid some trinkets in a box. And I didn’t get to pick the topic or the theme for the month. I didn’t know what would be coming until she opened it. I can’t prepare. It’s a bunch of crafts and I’m a crafty mom, but I don’t want to make a mess or have to do too much that I have to be involved in. So, all in all, this seemed like a bad idea, but Punky really wanted mail. They had a special for $10 off the first box and since I pay $10 for my Birchbox a month, I figured, we could try it out and see what came of it. And if Punky really didn’t care for it, or wasn’t engaged enough, I would just say $10 well spent, no more needed.

Our crate came today and I did a huge post on Facebook about how much I love and how awesome it was and it was only after the first of THREE activities. Now, I’m blogging about it, because I needed a better space to give me the time and attention our fun today really deserves.

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Punky immediately noticed there was a package on the porch and while she didn’t know it was for her, she sure loves opening the boxes that come to the house. She just loves it, no matter who it’s from. THEN, I read who the box was addressed to and it said her name and she was so excited that she got a package in the mail. She was just delighted.

We opened it up and found all these neat things she couldn’t stop touching. But, all the pieces were durable and kid friendly. So that was nice. She man-handled the latches on the cardboard for the windcar and it didn’t rip or break, and I was impressed. Because she is good at destroying stuff.

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We put the car together and there are four sails to go with it, made with different shapes, sizes and materials. She was able to follow my simple step by step instructions and put the car together, ‘mostly’ by herself. Which was awesome for me, because while I like to do things with my kid, I am not a sit down and play kinda mom. I really liked that everything came in the crate. Like, literally everything was in there. From the stickers to hold it together, to the oil pastel crayons to decorate. Once I sat at the table with her, I didn’t have to get up again to go get tape or scissors or whatever else might have been needed. It just came with it.

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So, I balked at the $20 a month when I went to check it out originally. But, since the box has come; I realize the $20 is probably a lot less than it should be priced. It’s affordable for the quality, attention to detail and the genius idea they have. It’s tailored to my kid’s age, so I don’t have to worry about it being too big for her or too little. They made WIND fun for my kid.

With the windsock, the second activity we did, she was able to see how the wind outside moves things and in what direction it moves. All the stuff came with it, down to the string you need to tie it to something. Seriously. Every piece that you need for these activities is in the crate. It’s so easy to use and it’s exciting to see her eyes light up when she makes something on her own and then gets to play with it.

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We took the windsock outside and let it blow in the wind, talking about how the wind moves and such. The final activity in the box was a “weather chart”. It has a laminate type surface and re-useable stickers with the different weather on it. Sunny, Windy, Snowing, etc. she gets to change her chart everyday to show the temperature and the weather and then check her windsock to see how windy it is. She’s absolutely delighted.

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As a mom who’s not hands on all the time, this is the perfect amount of activity and engagement for me. The supplies are phenomenal and the quality of the items inside are both kid friendly, simple, and well worth the money. I am looking forward to the next crate to come. I am hoping to blog on this each month, because this Koala Crate is not just teaching my kid about different things, this month being wind, but it’s teaching me ways to spend time with my kiddo that doesn’t involve disingenuous Barbie dialogue or playing an app on my phone.

So, if you are intrigued and you want to try it out, I think you should! They have crates that are specific to the child’s age. We have the Koala Crate for 3-4 year olds, but you can get crates for up to 16 years of age I believe.

If you want to try it out and you want the $10 off your first month. If you are skeptical like I was, use my code and you can get that $10 off using my code to refer you to this awesome company. http://doodle.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=RachaelF6

I’m excited to go on this Koala Crate journey with my kid and hopefully you will join us! #koalacrate

 

 

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Trapped Inside My Racing Mind

Dear Punky,

Mommy is so in love with you. So in love with your smile and your laugh. With your imagination and your creativity. Mommy is so in love with being your mom. So thankful to have that chance. But, while I sit here and think about all the things I am so thankful for and so happy to have, a weight lays heavy on my heart.

I will never be the mom who participates in school functions that involves ‘fitting in’ with other moms. I won’t be the mom who chaperones your dances (I’m sure you will be thankful for that). I won’t be the mom who is actively involved in a play date group. My mind doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable in any of those settings. I hope that when you get older, it will not weigh on your heart as heavy as it weighs on mine.

As you get ready to turn 3 and a half, AND A HALF (where did the time go), I wonder what I have done to facilitate friendships for you – or have I contributed in isolating you. I try. I hope you know that I try. I intend to do so many things with you.

Even a trip to the park makes me uncomfortable. Makes me tired. Makes my hands sweat and my mind blur out of focus.

Will that strange mom I don’t know try to talk to me? Did I encourage her to come over with some look or something? What is so interesting about me that she has to come over here and talk to me? What do I possibly have in common with that woman? What does my face look like right now? Oh my god, I know I must be the most awkward person on the planet. This woman thinks I’m weird. Oh look, I’m the weirdo who came with her kid to the park by herself and doesn’t make any attempt to talk to adults, just her kid. That mom says you are adorable, of course you are. Did that come out snotty? Shit, I didn’t mean it to. “Your little girl is brave!” Is she secretly judging my parenting, letting my three year old climb this gigantic damn tower. A tower that the sign clearly says is made for 5 and up! Is she waiting for me to fail. Am I waiting for me to fail? Do I look fat in the shirt, I probably shouldn’t have worn this color, the pattern is too much. Maybe I can go sit on this bench over here, oh, now the whole park can see all my rolls. You’re the kid with the fat mom, awkward mom.

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All these thoughts go through my head, in a matter of mere minutes in the park. I want to enjoy my time with you. I hide behind the camera instead, so that I don’t have to engage with random people. Oh, but look, now I’m the mom on the cell phone, not paying attention to her kid. The park is exhausting.  So when you ask me to take you, I want to say yes, and in most cases I say, “Yes, baby, we can go later.” Because I have every intention of getting off my couch and out of my laptop and taking you outside to play with other kids. But, my dear one, Mommy buries her head deeper into her own thing, so she doesn’t have to think about what will happen when we step outside the door and greet the day you are sure to have a blast in. SO we don’t end up going.

Let’s don’t forget the ride to the park.

Are you buckled in right? Is the carseat proper? Oh jeez, don’t post that picture, someone will surely have something to say about the way she’s sitting in there. It’s probably wrong. Look both ways as we drive across the street, what if someone side swipes us? What if she unbuckles herself back there? Those M&M’s you just had to have at the store and just couldn’t wait til we got home to open, I opened it. But then all I could think about is – it could choke her and then I won’t be able to get back there fast enough. Then I will have a wreck and I will kill my kid. Knowing my luck, I’ll be the one to live. I can’t live without this kid. And if we don’t crash, what if I leave her in the back, no baby don’t stop talking back there, I zone out sometimes and I don’t want to forget you back there. Sing me a song, tell me a story, and though I don’t sound like I’m listening, I am. Oh I am. It is reminding me that you are back there – because there are so many times that I have looked in the back seat and expected you back there and you aren’t. It only takes one slip of the mind. No matter how precious you are to me.

Sweet girl, I know you get sad when I go to work, I get sad too. Believe me – it takes every ounce of my energy to push myself out the door every morning. A battle, a war inside my mind. And I love this job. Don’t you know, this job is the best thing that could have ever happened to Mommy. But I still war with myself about leaving and driving there and being gone and not seeing all the things you are doing here. I would rather be sitting on our couch, watching you build a fort or serenade with a new made up song. But mostly, I would just like to zone out and not be in a car on my way to work, away from you.

What happens if someone tailgates me too close in the morning traffic? What if I sneeze too hard and close my eyes, veer to too much to the right and cause a wreck? What happens to you when I die? What happens to your mama? If I don’t make it to work, we don’t have the money for the new house we live in. If I don’t make it to work, you don’t get food in your belly. If I don’t make it home, who will tuck you in at night? If I don’t go to work, I can’t get you presents and fun stuff. But why go to work, it doesn’t pay enough to get you into preschool, where you could socialize, where you could be with other kids and not be sitting at home, bored and stir crazy. But to work I must go.

My mind is not that of a calm and peaceful stream. Instead it is a raging rapid of thoughts and worries. irrational thoughts. It should probably only get worse as you get older and though I am so thankful for all the things you bring to my life, I’m sorry you got me for your mom. Because it won’t be easy. It will be frustrating. For both of us.

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We will butt heads, we are similar in that way. Stubborn, strong willed, whatever you want to call it. My psychiatrist (that’s the fancy doctor who gives me medication for these thoughts that don’t quiet) just says I might be made to be irritable. Basically, this moodiness, this reactive nature I have is not going away, it’s not something we can medicate. It’s his clinical way of saying, your Mommy will always be a bitch. Always lash out and always react to the most ridiculous of things. So in some ways, I’m a lost cause, in that way. Something we just have to live with – work together with. My patience is thin, my nerves are short, my worries are plenty.

But I will always wrap you up in my arms when you are hurt. I will always tell you that your drawing is beautiful, even as you beat yourself up because you “messed it up” or “ruined it” because to me, all the things you do are beautiful. You are the beauty of my world. You bring the bright spots to my mind. I will always hug you and kiss you as I tell you that you can’t lock your Mommy out of your bedroom. Not because I don’t respect your need for space or “alone time” or even privacy at three years old; but because the only thing I can think about when I can’t get to you is that if you get hurt, I can’t be there at a moment’s notice to kiss it away, make sure you are alright.

When you jump off the side of the couch, I don’t scold you because it’s wrong, or that I don’t want to encourage your adventurous spirit. My heart catches in my throat every moment. And while you are having the time of your life, flying through the air, the end result for me is seeing you face first on the hardwood floor, bloody lips or worse.

I’m not the mom who will toss you up in the air and catch you. I’m not the mom who will encourage you to swim in the deep end. And for that, I apologize. Its selfish of Mommy, it’s not fair to you.

May you always keep your creative spirit. May you always keep your adventurous spirit, in spite of me.

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May you always know that I love you in the best ways I know how. May you always know that I want to keep you safe from harm, but I recognize I’m not able to do that. I also recognize you aren’t as breakable as my mind makes me think you are. You are a strong little girl. A smart little girl. Sometimes too smart.

So as you grow, let’s grow together, love. And hopefully, I won’t damage you. I won’t break you down to where I am. My hope is not to teach you to be afraid of the world. My hope is to help you venture out and see the world. My hope is not to teach you to mistrust everyone, to second guess a compliment or a friendship. I hope you don’t grow up to wonder what your friends really think of you when you aren’t around.

And maybe, just maybe, even when we fight and butt heads, because we will; oh we will, my love; you will know that I love you more than any person on this planet. In the whole universe. I keep you with me, you lighten my burdened mind and my worried spirit, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

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I’m a mom with agoraphobia with associated panic disorder and PTSD. It’s a part of who I am. It’s who I will always be. I’m the mom that is described in this letter and so much more that I can’t put into words. My mind doesn’t stop, my world doesn’t stop spinning, but my sweet sweet little girl keeps me grounded, here in the present and as light as my mind will allow me to be.

Blue is for Boys. I am a Girl.

I really didn’t expect that phrase so soon. I mean … THREE.

I’m sure I helped perpetuate the norms of boy and girl separation. We are potty training, so when we were out at Olive Garden once, she attempted to go into the men’s restroom and I redirected her to the little icon with the dress and said, “Girls go in this potty.” Mostly , so that she would know that boys and girls don’t go to the bathroom together, but well, I think I just made it stick in her head that girls wear dresses and boys don’t.

Now I’m frustrated. Not because it’s that big of a deal and frankly, she can like what she wants, be what she wants.

She’s old enough now to make her own choices. I’m doing my very best to make sure she knows she has options. She doesn’t have to be stuck in the social norms of what is expected of her.

She loves pink. Absolutely loves it. And I’m okay with that. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday theme to be, she told me Minnie and Mickey. I asked if she wanted Minnie to wear a pink dress or a red one. She picked pink. No hesitation. So pink it was and that included her pink castle cake. (Yes, that’s a cake, thanks Grammy!)

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Her Minnie Mouse Tea party was a little more low key than we have been used to, but with my being out of work right now, we didn’t have the money we usually have to rent the clubhouse and hold all the people we wanted to invite. So we invited her friends and mostly immediate family like grandparents and aunts/uncles who could make it.

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She likes to climb shit. Loves it. She loves to climb, the higher the better. And I’m well, I’m not okay with it as it gives me anxiety, but I’m okay with it.

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The pyramid she’s climbing in that second picture is 30 feet high made of metal and ropes. The sign outside the pyramid says for 5+ years and it probably makes me an irresponsible mom, but she’s been eyeballing the damn thing for over a year. Kim came with us to the park this last time and convinced me to let her climb it.

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Kim helped me keep my cool while my heart was in my throat, threatening to pump right out of my body! Literally, I was having small panic attacks the whole time, small squeaks emitted from my mouth and I was bouncing around on the ground like a spotter in gym, waiting for her to come tumbling down from that thing.

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But no matter how terrifying it was for me, so much so that Kim had to remind me to take pictures, which never happens. I am ALWAYS taking pictures, I don’t want her to lose that adventurous spirit. I don’t want her to be stuck in a box that says Boys do this and Girls do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want her to be “girly” or traditionally feminine if that’s what she wants to be. I’m not bucking society just to be “progressive”. I just want to make sure that she know she has choices, that she has options. She can be whoever and whatever she wants to be!

Since she has had her birthday, we have kicked up our bedtime routine a notch. We read a story or two before bed every night and I think she really enjoys it. She can actually sit through a story and she can interact with me. It’s amazing to me the things she remembers.

We even went to the library the other day and she got to pick out her own book. From the time I told her we were going until we got there, she told me she wanted a “spider book” (YUCK), so we got her a spider book and she loves it, so much so, I may have to purchase it. She also got a Princess book, the “mouse and cookie” book, and “Llama Llama mad at Mama”.

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Along with a bed time story, I always ask her what her favorite part of the day was and what she wants to do tomorrow. I also ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s been pretty consistent for the last several months in saying “Doctor”. Guess I better save some money!

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Whatever she wants, I just want to nurture her spirit, her imagination and creatiivity. I want her to know she has so many options that she doesn’t have to stick to the norms of society, the gender stereotypes. I was just so disheartened today when I heard the phrase come out of her mouth.

“I don’t like blue. Blue is for boys.”

But blue isn’t just for boys. How do you relay that to a kid? She has to have heard that somewhere and it makes me sad. I have been working really hard to break those thoughts and really steer her down her own path, where ever that will be, I will follow her lead. And if she really just doesn’t like blue, that’s OK! I just don’t want it to be because she’s a girl and girls don’t like blue.

The more she grows, the more personality she gives and shows. I’m enjoying seeing her grow into this little person all of her own, but I want her to be the one making those choices, for herself. Because I love her with my whole heart and I want her to love herself with her whole heart.

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Hi My Name is Rachael, And I’m A Pinterest Mom

Yes. I have a little obsession.

It’s called the Pinterest party. I also have another obsession.

It’s called a daughter.

So, once again, it’s that time of year, where we get all sides of her family (PS, that’s huge) and put them in one room and say, “CELEBRATE OUR KID!”

I know –

So people think its weird. Some people think its over the top. Some people thought we would just go all out for her first birthday but the rest would be low-key. Some people think we spoil her. Some people think its too much.

Her MOMMY thinks its awesome.

And this is the first year that Miss Punky will be interested in actually participating.

She picked out the theme this year. Her first birthday was Dr. Seuss. Her second was Cars.

I’m sure you are dying to know what she picked. SURPRISE SURPRISE!

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It does help that her Mommy is a graphic designer and a party planner in her spare time. So with all the practice I get in my Etsy Shop (SHAMELESS PLUG: While on the subject, don’t forget, ladies with recent BFP, you get a 50% discount in my shop that caters to same-sex baby shower invitations! Just use the coupon code BFP50 at time of purchase) making invitations, this one, was a no brainer.

Minnie AND Mickey must be equally featured in her party this year. But she prefers the pink Minnie to the red Minnie, so it’s making things very, very difficult. So, we will have a dance party (for the hotdog dance of course), a homemade Minnie Mouse pinata, and Grammy is making a Minnie and Mickey cake, and a bow making station!

I am also – if all things go according to plan, taking her to see Disney on Ice. Where she will get to see Minnie and Mickey on ice – for her actual birthday. Just Punky and Mommy. Something special for the two of us to do together. I’m quite excited about it. It will be a surprise and I plan on getting her all dressed up in her Minnie Mouse costume from Halloween or buying a new dress up Minnie Mouse dress from Walmart I saw the other day – because really, who doesn’t find this Minnie Mouse, simply irresistible?!

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So last year, with her party invitation, I also slipped in an update card with an updated picture and all her favorite things. Along with height, weight, phrase of the moment, things like that.

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This year, I am doing something similar – but it will be more interview style, as I will ask her questions and she will answer them. I have yet to figure out which picture from the past year I wanted to use.

So I put it to a vote on Facebook. 52 people have weighed in so far, and I’m looking for your opinions too! I can’t decide! Help me, ladies, help me pick the cutest picture to represent my darling Punky in her second year of life as she gets ready to turn THREE.

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I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we are already planning for birthday #3. When did this happen? It makes this mommy very sad and unhappy! I miss that sass-free baby that did nothing but cuddle, sleep, and poop. LOL.

Christmas Countdown Out of Whack

Well, I’m terrible at updating the countdown this year. But we have done all sorts of fun things.

Day 11: Pick out ornament for the tree (2012 was Cat in the Hat, 2013 was Tow Mater, 2014 is Minnie Mouse) This was the first year that Miss Punky picked out the ornament herself. Its going to be a very Merry Minnie Christmas. Literally. She has asked for only two things from Santa. Minnie Bike and Light Up Shoes. I have the bike in the works (her godfather is painting an old bike we had) and the light up shoes I got for her are Minnie Mouse and the bows and hearts light up. She’s going to love them.

From her moms so far I have gotten her a zebra print Minnie Mouse bath robe, because she’s so dramatic about being cold when she comes out of the tub and dries off. The small walk to her room or down the stairs in just a towel brings on the jitters and shivers. Its pretty darn adorable. I also found the cutest Minnie Mouse duffel bag for traveling and it comes with a sleeping bag. So when we go visit my family, she will have her own bag to take! Just like a big girl.

So – Minnie Mouse is the theme of this year.

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Day 12:Angel Tree and Senior Tree at Walmart. Walmart always sponsors children for Christmas. Kim and I have been picking stars off the tree for several years. This is the first time Miss Punky picked her own star. A 6 year old girl who wanted a baby doll and stroller. Miss Punky picked out the baby doll and I added the cheapest stroller(cause we aren’t made of money) to give to the little girl. Our bank sponsors seniors. I always try to take one of those as well. Punky picked a Grammy instead of a Papa and we bought their wish list item of art supplies.

I always feel bad that the paper ornaments with all the senior citizens on it are not usually touched. In fact, when I went to put the gift in the their collect box, there was trash inside of it, but no gifts. When we went back to Walmart the end day of the collection, there were still the same amount of ornaments on the tree. No one ever thinks of the senior citizens – at least that’s the way it looks. It’s pretty sad.

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Day 13: Kim’s grandfather’s union always has a Christmas Party and he gathers all his grandkids and great grandkids together for chili and nachos at 9am. We adults are getting to be a little less steel stomached for it. But they have Santa and pictures and lots of great things for the kids to do. Its a nice time normally. I didn’t get to attend, because with this midnight shift, I have been sleeping in late. So, I’m not in the family picture with Santa. But! Miss Punky is sitting on Santa’s lap! How exciting is that development?!

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Kim, Mrs. Claus, Santa, Uncle Eric, Punky, and Aunt Ashley

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I very small portion of the very large Italian family that I married into. They are all the grandkids and great-grandkids and their parents.

Day 14: We colored plastic ornament balls with sharpies for our neighbors and their kids as well as her godparents. She had fun just scribbling and it really added character to the gifts.

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Day 15: We filled the ornaments with hot chocolate and then delivered them to their new owners. They are lucky they got any marshmallows though, because she kept putting them in her mouth, instead of in the ornament!

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So that’s what we have been up to so far. I have also mailed all my Santa Letters this year. I dropped them in the mailbox to be picked up yesterday, so they are on their way to all the kids on the list. 140 of them this year!

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We have 9 days til Christmas. This has been the most interactive holiday with Punky – the one where she has participated, started to fully understand that this is a holiday, and really gotten into the spirit. I can’t wait to keep on making traditions with her!

2014 Christmas Countdown Day 4,5,6 And the headless wise man…

Yep, I suck at blogging this year when it comes to the Christmas Countdown this year.

Day 4 – Making Christmas Cards for family and friends. She got to color all the cards and then we put wallet sized pictures of her and Santa inside and will mail them to our family and friends. Mostly, my family who is out of town and we don’t see them as much as we do Kim’s side of the family.

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Day 5 – Write a letter to Santa.

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I think she really enjoyed the letter writing to Santa. This year, she’s really getting interactive and that’s why the activities that I picked for this year’s countdown was more interactive and meaningful. If you notice, she asked Santa for … TWO bikes. I also love that she made her squiggles on the lines, like she was really writing a letter.

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Day 6 – Christmas Movie Night with Moms. We watched a movie on Netflix called Little Brother, Big Trouble. About a little reindeer who has to come to terms with his family being different than he wanted. His dad was Prancer and he lived with his mom. His mom was getting married again and the new step reindeer dad had a son. He was not happy about a new ‘dad figure’ or a ‘little brother’. It was kind of touching and nice to see a family with divorced and remarried parents. I don’t remember seeing much of that, reflecting my own family dynamic growing up.

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So far the countdown has been quite the success – and its awesome because she’s sooo interactive. She’s so excited about Christmas and since its my favorite holiday, I’m excited share it with her.

Of course, with this holiday, comes the beginning of the questions that haven’t been asked yet, but I am mentally preparing myself. She loves all the decorations, all the fun stuff around the house, and thus far, she hasn’t really caught on that Christmas, to some people, is not just about baking cookies and getting presents from a jolly fat man who flies the world. To some people its something more. Something we don’t necessarily believe in – her mama and I.

I’ve been bracing myself for the questions. For the why and who and what for that kids always have – and maybe this isn’t the year that will happen. Maybe this year, it will be simply having fun and celebrating with her moms.

She loves all the decorations, especially the talking Santa.

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But, she also loves the Nativity that Grammy has out right now. Complete with Mary, Joseph, the wise men and baby jesus. She likes to play with the little figurines, so much so that the heads have been popped off of the porcelain people.

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She knows that the baby in the manger is baby jesus and she isn’t supposed to hide him. She knows that the two people next to baby jesus are his parents, Mary and Joseph. That’s the extent of what she knows. She likes to hold the baby jesus – even though she hid him that one time. She likes to hold them. So far, she hasn’t asked why Grammy has a Nativity or what its for. She just knows its fun decorations for Christmas time.

I know, the time will come – when she wants to know the story behind that Nativity. And its a story I know well – I can recite it in my sleep. But, Kim and I have not really discussed how we will approach the subject when it comes up.

I mean do we proactively tell her the story that other people believe or do we wait until she asks. Is she really too young to have that discussion? We have lots of different faiths in the family right now. Our own family – her moms – are atheist. We don’t really believe in the ‘spirit of Christmas’ in the same way that Grammy and Papa do. Of course, we also have a set of cousins that are Jewish converts, they are celebrating Hanukkah this year and won’t be having Santa visit their house.

With all the different beliefs in our blended family – what is the appropriate way to approach the subject? Or, maybe I’m just making it too complicated.

I’m so on guard about how we will discuss it. I’ve just recently, in the last few years, myself been more in tune with my non-believing side and what that comes with. I have grown up as a Christian – listening to the story of Jesus’ birth every Christmas Eve, listening to the Christmas carols and thinking of the Christ who saved us, and attending or participating in the Christmas pageants at church.

So, like all things that come with the religious upbringing that has been put in my head from a very young age, it still creeps up. It also makes it difficult to decide how we should approach the subject with our own daughter. The daughter we want to make her own choices, ask her own questions, think her own beliefs.

But, she’s two. She’s interested in tutus and fairies (that’s what she calls the angels around the house) and Santa. So why complicate it with another story, about another imaginary man in the sky?

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I suppose I will enjoy the innocence. The oblivion to the religious undertones that surround her during this holiday. The history and the stories – the beliefs and non-beliefs of her family and friends. She just thinks its a pretty holiday – one filled with magic and presents, and soon with our countdown it will be one of giving as well as receiving, so in the end, that’s all that matters.

But, I struggle with the anxiety of what to say, when the questions come. Because they will come. She’s a smart cookie. She has questions. She’s full of curiosities. It is going to be inevitable. My anxiety disorder is starting to dampen my on Christmas spirit, with the whys and what ifs and the questions that are soon to be coming. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have to enjoy the non-questions this year, and simply wait until they come.

Until that time, we will spend time with our daughter and celebrate the magic and joy of Christmas.

The Holidays Are Here

Where the hell did 2014 go? I also can’t believe it’s taken me so long to update this blog! I’m one of those people who get sad when people have their babies and then get “too busy” to blog… and here I am, I inherited a toddler suddenly and I am “to busy” to blog!

Believe me, if I could stick this two year old back in the bottle I would. She came with a demon inside her. Literally. I don’t know what happened, but she has such a mouth and an attitude that would infuriate just about anyone. We also just got the first “I hate you.” and “Mommy I don’t love you.”

On a brighter note, we had a nice Thanksgiving, hanging out with family. Where she stole my camera and took her own pictures of everyone. She’s really become such a little photographer.

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And she helped her Grammy make lots and lots of sweets. And of course she got to taste test them.

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Last Saturday we had a little date day, and she got to get her haircut and blowdryed at Shear Madness for Kids. I will highly recommend them always! They are just awesome for kids. She got to pick out the car she sat in while the girl cut her hair. She also watched Frozen the whole time. Afterwards, she got a new bow for her hair.

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Have I mentioned that my aversion to large bows and headbands has been overridden? This kid loves all things bows and headbands. SIGH. She wore the new headband when we went on our cupcake picnic. When we go on a date and get her haircut, she usually gets to pick between a cupcake(Smallcakes) or frozen yogurt(Yogurtini). This time she picked cupcakes. The place was packed, so we had to eat outside. Luckily for us, the weather didn’t get bitterly cold until after that weekend!

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Sunday we went to the local mall and saw Santa. It’s been something interesting every year. The first Christmas, she screamed and screamed. Last year, she just sat near him but she clutched her doll the whole time. This year, she almost cut the whole line to tackle the big jolly Santa. I had to stop her before she could get to him and we could wait our turn.

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And then, in true Punky fashion, once it was our turn, she got up there and didn’t want to sit on his lap. She almost didn’t sit at all. Which is why Santa had his hands in his lap, he didn’t want to scare her.

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But, she did tell him she wanted a Mickey bike…. where the hell she got that …. I have no idea. Not to mention that we aren’t really sure when she will get to ride that, since Christmas around here usually turns into Snowmageddon and we won’t be doing bike riding for quite some time.

After we visited Santa, we took a ride on the carousal. That’s another thing that she has always been afraid of. I have tried to get her to ride the horses in the past, or the riding toys in the grocery store and she would just scream and scramble to get off the thing. This time, she  climbed right up there and had a blast.

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And on Monday, we started our Christmas Countdown. We started this little Christmas tradition last year. I made a similar envelope and card system for her. Since we are still living with my mother-in-law, we don’t have anywhere to hang it like last year, but its still been pretty fun. You can find my Christmas Countdown cards here. You can download them if you would like, or come up with your own! I’d love to see what other people are doing with their kids this holiday.

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Day 1 – She got a message from Santa. (I used this site and its free). I didn’t take as many pictures of Day One as I would have liked. But, I have video of the whole thing.

Day 2 – We got to help out up the Christmas Tree and decorations with Grammy, Papa, and her cousins.

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Day 3 – We made a salt dough hand print and compared it to last year’s hand print.

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So far the end of the year has been pretty good. Last year I tried to post our countdown every day, so I will do my best to do that again this year. I swear, this kid is a handful, my Etsy Shop has been blowing up since the legalization of gay marriage everywhere and so many new two mom families have been emerging. I’m also working late shift at work, so I am constantly tired when I get home!

Well, I’m off to catch up on all the blogs I’ve been missing out on! Hope everyone’s holiday season has started out as special as you want it to!

A Great Big Impromptu Announcement

At approximately 1:40pm we found out the very county that we live in was issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples at 2:00pm. Now, the Missouri ban was put in place in 2004 and put into our Constitution. Ya know, ridiculous. Right? So, St. Louis has been issuing marriage licenses. And today, my county announced their own intentions to issue marriage licenses in our two court houses; in downtown KC and then in the adorning town to mine.

I called the office in that town to make sure. You can’t always believe the internet. And it was the hot topic of Facebook in Missouri friends and family on my timeline. But, there was no way I could vet the issue until I called the office personally. Besides, it wouldn’t help my anxiety disorder until I figured it out.

So, we looked at each other; Kim and I. There was NO plan. NO more waiting.

This was it. This was the time.

11 years later and a 2 year old later; we were getting married.

20 minutes or so later, we were doing this outside the courthouse:

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We got a nice and pretty new marriage license. We also had an all dressed up Punky holding both our hands. Singing about how she was so excited her Moms were getting married. However, for Punky, a marriage is where she gets to dance. A party where she gets to dance her heart out. She was sorely disappointed. She cried for a good 2 hours about wanting to get married. We tried to tell her we were getting married and we would have a party for her to dance at later. And we will.

She was not at all happy about that answer.

I told her she could help Mommy plan the wedding party. So she will help me plan the wedding party.

Instead, we had our fantastic friends and Punky’s godparents came over and we had a little wedding moment on Kim’s parents’ couch, in their living room. Punky’s godfather is ordained and he helped officially marry us. It was a no fuss event, with pretend sipping of champagne (except that I don’t drink and Kim doesn’t care for champagne). We took a few pictures and now, its official.

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We announced it on Facebook, made it “Facebook Official” and we have had nothing but love and support from both our family and friends. Its been nothing but excitement and overwhelming love and its the best possible outcome we could have asked for. I called my mom, to tell her – it’s her 21st wedding anniversary today! We got married on my mom’s wedding anniversary. Woah.

Kim and I had a very rough week this week. Its been, tough. Kim had a bit of an episode with her Bipolar disorder and it was emotional, scary, and made me worry that we would break – our rope, on a thin strand of fraying edges, would snap. But, looking at my little girl’s eyes and seeing them light up when she said “My moms are married!” made me remember that we have weathered a lot of storms in the 11 years we have been together.

It made me come to the conclusion, that no matter how much hard stuff comes up, we made the most beautiful thing in the world – we made Punky with our love. We went through a ton of tough stuff to make her. This episode, this scary, emotional, and hard episode is not our first rodeo – its not like it hadn’t happened before.

Besides, we never expected this ruling to happen so quickly. It wasn’t something I thought would happen in Missouri until the last of the states were called for marriage equality, so when it happened – out of the blue…. I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in fate. But, I do believe in instinct, and this felt right today. We have waited 11 years. That wait is over. They will appeal the decision, that is inevitable. It will happen – but it’s also inevitable that we will be married. We ARE married. And though we had a rough week…..

We are strong enough. And after 11 years, we are officially married. I am officially a MRS. and its strange and weird to think of myself as married. I’m a wife. Not just a mother. Not just a daughter. Not just a sister. I’m a wife…. well, shit just got real didn’t it?

Road Trip to Visit The Fam

So with  my uncle having his seizures lately and then as soon as he came out of the hospital my grandpa fell off his lawn mower and broke his leg above the knee – we thought maybe it might be good to go visit. We haven’t visited for some time, my family lives about 3 hours away. So, its always a ‘treat’ to visit.

On the way there, we started with excitement. Two semi trucks had rolled over in the median and then one was splayed across the other highway, luckily we weren’t on that side! The roads were blocked and the cars were stopped for at least 15 exits, it added another 30-45 minutes to our trip.

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With the smell of soybean (my hometown is pretty much the capital of Soybean Production) and this bumper sticker, I knew I was home….

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When we got into town, we got to spend some time at my Grandma’s house waiting for her to get home for dinner from the nursing home. While we waited for her to come home, Miss Punky got out the toys and talked to Grandma “Scotch” (Scott) on the phone. Is it just as weird for you guys as it is for me that Punky won’t really know what that phone is when she’s big enough to use a real one of her own!?

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My grandparents have a lot of land full of just grass and trees. Punky wanted to go outside, so we went out and had a little modeling session. She’s been having a lot of those lately! (before our trip, Miss Punky had the opportunity to get her pictures taken for a local designer’s clothes with a local photographer. I will be plugging both of them on the blog as soon as I get the pictures from the shoot and I am allowed to share them!)

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Then my grandma came home. We actually stayed at her house this weekend. She and my grandpa are usually in Arizona when we visit, so its nice to have a chance to hang out with them and spend some great time with at least my grandma!

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I asked Kim after this picture if she wanted to have two Punkys. We both decided it was a bad idea to inflict this much cuteness and attitude on the world TWICE.

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On Saturday we had a great time a my nephew’s SuperHero Fourth Birthday Party. I helped his mom with the decorations and planning the details. We had some good times, and Punky got to spend some time with her cousins. It was fun all around!

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The newest addition to our cousin clan in this generation is our sweet sweet nephew Archer. He’s the first baby of my brother and the star of the “Littlest Avenger” over at my sister-in-law’s blog. My little Punky Monster took quite the liking to the baby and made her moms nervous that she may start asking for a brother or sister. Not happening. For sure. No, we aren’t changing our minds!

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We had some really cute decorations and it was pretty much a hit.

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After we spent some time at the party, watched my nephew open all his presents and spent some fun times in the photo booth, Punky and I went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home. He broke his leg right above his knee, so it was sad to see him in that wheelchair. He has the onset, or full-blown depending on who you talk to, Alzheimer’s. Last time I went to visit him, he was confused as to who I was, and it makes things a little difficult to figure out how to explain who Kim is – so while she loves my grandpa and would have loved to visit too, she didn’t want to upset him, so she stayed home while Punky and I visited with my grandpa. I don’t really know if he knows who I was, he was pretty quiet, he did a lot of smiling and nodding and I don’t really know how much he retained.

Punky spent most of the time climbing on this particular chair and looking out the window of the very first nursing home she ever visited. All the older people were very excited to see her and she of course charmed them with her smiles. She was wearing her light up shoes, stomping through the dining hall – they just got a kick out of her.

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After the nursing home, yes – we are still on Saturday, and Yes – we did a lot of running this weekend. We headed out to my dad’s house, one of the houses I grew up in and hung out with that side of the family for the rest of the evening. Their air conditioner went out, so it was super hot in their trailer.

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But we had a nice time visiting and hanging out with them, my step mom has Lupos so she’s usually pretty ill and not feeling well, she was sleeping when we got there, but boy did she get up when Punky came in the trailer, because she’s smitten with our kid and that just makes me so very happy!

Punky also met her first rat during this visit. My goodness… she kept wanting to hold the rat, and then when Kim would put it on her or would try and help her feed the rat, she would FREAK out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no room to talk, I wasn’t holding the rat for sure! But, it was kind of hilarious to see her curiosity and then fear and then curiosity again.

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So Saturday down on the very long weekend and Sunday was just another really long day! We love visiting with  my family but by the end of the weekend, it is just sooooo tiring. Sunday was full of more cousins, more parties, more cake and more dinner.

Sunday morning, my friend and fellow blogger over at “A Redhead’s Guide” was so kind to meet us at a local park and take some super awesome pictures of Punky. She chased my spirited kid all over for about an hour and I think we got some great shots. Especially with all the movement she made and the sneak peeks she posted on her Facebook page, makes me super excited to get the disc in the mail!

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Her Aunt Brittany brought that dress home from Florida for her older cousin. Its a maxi dress for a 7/8 kid – like for real? My kid isn’t even wearing a ‘toddler’ dress. Her necklace is also from Florida, brought back from her Aunt Jourdan (godmother) – its a little big for her, so I always tie it shorter around the neck. And of course, she looks beautiful, I’m not at all a modest mommy.

Jeebs, I made a pretty baby with a little work, lots of love, and a tremendous amount of luck!

After her little photo shoot, we did visit with my dad and family again. We had another smaller version of my nephew’s birthday party with that bunch. Which really consisted of my dad riling up all the kids and making sure they were all good and sugared for their moms later.

As you can see, Miss Punky just isn’t sure about all the rough housing. She’s pretty timid when it comes to that stuff and really she’s not really sure how to play like that. Her cousins are wound up most of the time, I’m not sure how my sister doesn’t have a perpetual migraine every day of her life and again, I am reminded why I only one the ONE!

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The end of our trip was full of roast and potatoes at my grandma’s and a ridiculous game of Pictionary with my mom on the Xbox 360. We had a blast over there, as we usually do, hanging out with my. Punky was so very interactive with everyone, but she definitely loves her Grandma Stacie and Grandpa James. It was great to see her interact with them and really get to spend some quality time with them!

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My stepdad introduced her to the spoonful of peanut butter and warheads. Neither of which got the reaction we were expecting! She came back for seconds and thirds of both things.

All and all – our trip was a success, we really had a great time and for the first time in her little life, while there were a lot of names to remember and people to remember  – she did a great job interacting, charming and of course making my family fall even more in love her with spunk and spirit.

Adjustments and Changes Coming Soon

Of all the memories I can think of my childhood, very few would be considered “normal”. Very few would be considered “happy”. I’m sure I had lots of happy, normal childhood moments, and yet, I really can’t remember many. I bring it up, because of all the childhood memories, I remember one so vividly , at least the emotion that it sparked in me at the time – that sometimes I have to wonder if I made it up.

As I come out of Punky’s room after 45 minutes of cuddles, rocking, singing, and back rubbing – it reminds me of a time when my Mom did the same for me. I don’t remember the specifics, I couldn’t tell you which house we were in, I can’t tell you how old I was. But I can remember trying so hard to fight off the sleepy feeling as my mom rubbed my back, skin to skin, for how many minutes, I have no idea.

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I knelt next to Punky’s bed, as she was hysterical tonight, not wanting to sleep, scared, just being stubborn, who knows, but she needed some Mommy time. We are a cry it out kind of family in most cases, but I have been extra sensitive to her neediness since the move. She’s been more clingy, more whiny, just more needy in general. She’s also more busy than normal, she doesn’t want to settle down -there’s too much to talk about, too much to do, too much to see and take in.

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While I rubbed her back, humming and making up the lyrics to a tune I didn’t know – I thought about what my Mom was thinking all those years ago. When she was rubbing my back. When she watched me fight the sleep, shushing me and whispering to me to close my eyes. What would go through her mind as she tried to help me fall asleep? Was she worried about missing what was going on in the room next door? Was she overwhelmed with overflowing love for me in that moment? Was she so exhausted that she didn’t really have a thought or time to think about anything specific?

I don’t remember singing, though its possible that occurred. I don’t remember much other than a slow motion sleepiness that happened when I asked her to rub my back and she would roll me on my tummy and sit on the side of the bed until I fell asleep. As a mother now, I haven’t quite mastered the staying long enough to ensure that Punky is fully asleep, but she’s drowsy enough to get to sleep minutes after I shut the door.

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This isn’t her actual bed, but she looks adorable on the baby shower gift Aunt Ashley and Grammy made for someone’s new baby coming soon!

Punky went back to school today, a banking error on the daycare’s part, but its caught up now, so I won’t protest too much. She was delighted to go to school and I know the adults in the house were delighted to sleep in, take a little break and make the day a quiet and peaceful one. She came home from school full of stories about her friends and playing outside, complete with green paint in her banks and glitter on her cheeks. Its nice to have her back in school.

This is my last week with day shift at work. I will start working 1-midnight and contrary to what other people think – I actually picked the shift! I am looking forward to it. I worked it about a year ago with my interim supervisor role and I loved it. I get to see Punky in the morning/afternoon and can take her on early play dates to the park or the library. Its also a 10  hour shift, which means that I will only work 4 days a week with rotating 1 weekend a month. Its the perfect and ideal situation for us. Kim and I have both discussed it and decided with our many doctor/therapy visits – a day off during the week is going to be great.

It will also give me time to decompress during the week. This Monday through Friday 8-5PM is supposed to be a dream job spot for most people, its just not working out for me and I am slowly, well no …. quickly feeling the candle burn out. So a few new change and routine will do me some good – my therapist agrees.

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The changes keep coming for Miss Punky though and I’m not at all delusional in thinking this won’t be a shock to her system. She’s tough – I know toddlers are more resilient than we give them credit for, but I feel like all the changes are overwhelming her delicate little brain and emotions. She’s just so clingy to me right now – but hopefully, this will mean I get to spend MORE time with her instead of less. I may not be able to put her to bed, but I will be able to come home and eat dinner, maybe read her a story before bed.

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Kim’s health is doing better, thank goodness. It was quite a scare for a while. But she has gotten the use of her legs back and her Lithium levels, I believe, are back in the normal range. We are getting into a routine and its about to change, but we can only do what we can do and so for now – I will be thankful that she is better health wise – as as good as she can be. We are happy, anxiously waiting for Missouri to overturn the ban on gay marriage. I’m planning a wedding for my friend, but I’d really like to be planning my own wedding!

In other news, my Uncle had some sort of stroke on Tuesday, I don’t really have all the details. he’s no longer in the hospital and I talked to him this afternoon. He seems as well as expected, tired but alive.

My grandpa fell off his tractor a few days ago and broke his leg right above the knee. He’s currently in the hospital, my poor grandma has been running around taking care of both of them! He’s been showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s for quite a few years now and it doesn’t bode well for his condition. They all live three hours away and I don’t feel like I’m getting enough information to feel comfortable about being away. But they tell me he’s out of surgery and doing as well as can be expected as well. They will be moving him to a nursing home rehab center to get some help with walking, like he doesn’t already have a hip replacement as it is.

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So, while that stuff is all scary and the changes just keep coming, the adjustments are being made and we are rolling with the punches life has been dealing out. That’s all one can really do, right? Hang on for the ride…. we are hanging on ….