Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall of Remembrance :: Footprints Blog Tour

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This post is dedicated to Share's Walk of Remembrance and the Wave of Light, shattering the stigma of infertility and child loss. Fifteen of us bloggers are participating in spreading the word with our own words about our personal losses.

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As soon as September hits, the weather changes ever-so-slightly, even here in the desert. I quickly transition my mood as it changes. I'm feeling it. It's another step closer to his birthday and the cooler months, with plentiful tears as December returns.

I feel closer to Andrew here than I did in Illinois. You'd think living three miles from the hospital and driving past the funeral home where we picked up his ashes nearly 6 years ago would have provided obvious closeness, as those are the only places his body visited outside of mine. But really, it's out here in nature and on our trail walks and explorations in the mountains that feels like my home and where I believe Andrew is now-- in beauty and glory. It's the calmness, peacefulness and lack of negative feels. While that same hospital Andrew was born into also brought us Benjamin and Claire, I still felt a pit in my stomach every time I would drive by. I couldn't shake it. I'd sort of avert my eyes every time I found myself on Washington Street in Naperville. Nevada is a clean slate and clean state.

On frequent nature walks with the kids and trail runs alone sometimes, I plant little A's out there for Andrew. We construct them of sticks and branches, pine cones and flower petals. We walk and run and explore, always remembering the first of our babies, leaving behind a little bit of the love he brought to our family.


Benjamin is attending a Christian preschool here and the daily line leader gets to pray before lunch. He's had the opportunity to be line leader now and carries these practices to our home life. His prayers are the most adorable I've heard, complete with thanking God for his family, including Andrew almost always. It makes me feel like we're doing the right things with them in displaying their brother's beautiful sketch drawing in our living space and talking about death and love and their brother in heaven. It shouldn't be out of fear or sadness, but out of love always.

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In the fall, we come together with families across the world and light a candle as a Wave of Light to remember all of our children. We walk in unison, together, in a Walk of Remembrance as an act of love for our children and those children we love in other families that have impacted our lives.

If you're walking to REMEMBER and shatter that stigma, we'd love to see those photos posted using hashtag #ShareWalk2016 on Social Media from wherever you are around the world. In addition, light up those candles on Oct. 15th for the Wave of Light at 7 pm (#WaveOfLight and #PregnancyAndInfantLossAwareness) and post those photos. Spreading love and awareness and light in the unfortunate lonely and dark reality of Infertility and Loss will shatter the barriers and bring to light the importance of support and love for so many families across the world. Infertility and Loss affect people from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders and races. No one is safe. Chances are, someone close to you has fallen victim. You do not have to be victim to support and create awareness.

Check out Lisa's post from yesterday and tomorrow Lindsay is sharing about her own journey of loss.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Month Out

Our house sold a month ago yesterday. ::Insert choir of angels singing.::

Seriously, we might rent forever. Okay, probably not, but right now it's awesome. It's like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders and we're free again. Relating to owning a home, the proximity from the mountains and also E's former job, we just felt like Chicago was always so heavy. Grief aside, the home projects list and E's job were more than enough to make things feel heavy. We like the idea of being free to go. Wherever, whenever.

SO boring here. And ugly.
We're feeling so light! We officially have all the money from our home sale in our possession and I'm selling even more of the stuff we brought with us. Over the last 8 months, I've probably sold off 20% of our possessions. Less is definitely more. Six years in a large home means an accumulation of things. So gone be the excess!

In fact, yesterday we did a 3-mile Diabetes walk at University of Nevada at Reno with work colleagues and then went on to summit Mt. Rose at another 10.6 miles. We followed that up with dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants that has THE BEST happy hour and a bike ride for the kids. While they were bike riding at sunset with Dad and Gramie, I was selling the playhouse I bought for them just two months ago. 

Why? They never play with it! Every time they go near it, they complain of a cobweb that appeared overnight. I bought it because we finally had an enclosed backyard and the kids were still waiting on their stuff from Illinois. I was feeling weak and guilty because they were living off sticks and rocks as their sole toys. So I caved. And instantly regretted it! Now that their stuff is here and they won another fun play thing from the local library summer reading program, we're kind of bursting at the seams with toys here. Seriously, two indoor climb-in play house things, two tunnels and a bounce house. That playhouse was a wee-bit impulsive.

I made back 75% of my money and now I don't have to watch the thing get old and dirty anymore. And the kids didn't care at all. In fact, it took them over a day to realize it was missing, after playing outside in the very place it once stood! It's maybe getting a little bad, though, because Benjamin is starting to ask me if I sold his creations and things when he has misplaced them. Never! Those just go straight to the trash. I kid. They get saved for a year, photographed, made into a booklet and then tossed in the recycling.

The kids took a bike ride in their jammies tonight and we watched the last of the glorious sunshine dip over the mountaintops until tomorrow. Reno probably won't be forever, but it's sure great for right now. So now... which mountain should we hike next weekend? Just kidding, we don't have a babysitter. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

That Reno Life

With moving comes that long list of things to accomplish.

Immunizations, updating credentials, listing crap you don't need for sale and all. the. freaking. doctor. appointments.

"I'll book that dermatology, well visit and dental appointment when we get settled in our new place." And so here we are. Settling and booking appointments. Adulting at its worst.

Lemme tell you. Seven hours of kid-free time goes by very quickly. I manage to get in a little exercise and like a phonecall before having to pick up the kids. 

This week resulted in adulting of the dental appointment nature. My own. I picked this place because of proximity to home and because the Yelp reviews told me they give complimentary lavender paraffin hand wax treatments, warm neck pillows and soothing eye cucumbers at each cleaning. The place even smelled like a spa. (That wax treatment was freaking incredible.)

Somehow it made the news of two more stupid freaking cavities and one more forming a little easier to handle. There go two more hours of kid-free time during preschool and a few hundred more not-covered-by-insurance dollars. Which then also resulted in me buying another Sonicare because the one I have is old and ancient and each replacement brush head costs the equivalent to taking my whole family out to lunch. No matter how insane the routine (brush, floss, pic floss, flouride rinse), I still manage to receive bad news from the dentist.

And somehow I left the office buying a tube of extra flouride toothpaste to the tune of $20 that I later found online for $15.

I'm starting to recognize the locals here in Reno, because I ran into a mom at the dentist that I've seen at the library before. She's one of those moms with three perfect kids who are totally smart and agreeable and she herself wears a perma-smile that just screams we can't be friends because she probably doesn't have a dead baby. It's not that I think these thoughts always, but it's sometimes clear as day. She probably didn't have any cavities either.

The weather is starting to chill just a wee bit here and the nights are down into the 40s. Pools are closed and I'm actually breaking out some long sleeves on occasion. We bought ski passes for the boys up at the coolest little co-op near Mt. Rose that we plan to spend every weekend in the winter. We'll cross our fingers about the cooperation level of our kiddo, but hoping for the best. I'm thinking the chair lift will be the incentive he might need to participate, at least for the first few lessons. And perhaps knowing he has the power to glide at top speed down a hill without his parents being his second piece of motivation. 

I'm attempting to sell on Craigslist to clear out the garage junk that didn't make the cut being stuffed into every crevice of this (half the size of our IL) house. Andrew, Benjamin and Claire's crib sold today. I'd say it was bittersweet, but it wasn't. I was ready for it to leave. I had a ton of time to think about it because it sat on Craigslist for like 10 days before anyone bothered to actually come buy it. And to top it off, I'm sitting on some currency that I'll have to verify authenticity because I fear we have some counterfeit on our hands. Seriously, selling used goods in Reno is turning out to be a crazy ordeal. Whether you're buying or selling, communication is shockingly slow and almost impossible.

I had a dream last night that we went back to our IL home and just went to stay for a night while the new owners were living there. We didn't really communicate or acknowledge one another, but I vividly remember our awesome former neighbors having a pool with a slide and about 30 teenagers (and us) enjoying it in their backyard. The new owners were tearing up all kinds of stuff to change and exposing brick (that didn't exist). Then we left without tidying up or anything. Just poof. I'm happy to be free of home ownership, at least for now. We're busy as can be, but none of that is related to caring for an enormous yard, painting, or replacing something broken. Maybe we'll own someday again. Not ready yet.

Tomorrow I'm taking the kids to the Nevada Museum of Art, followed by waking up at like 3 a.m. Sunday for the Great Reno Balloon Race. September is turning out to be one heck of an awesome month living here. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Write Blog Post

It was on the list for today. I'm barely squeaking by with this one, so I'm sure it's gonna be a real winner. Don't mind me... between dental appointments and enduring rigorous Nevada immunization updates for Benjamin (5! At once! And they were combined! Note: Nevada is cray and Illinois is lax, but that's the only time those two qualities are switched).

We're just a little busy around here.

After day 1 of terrible Pre-K, I cried. After day 2 of terrible Pre-K, Benjamin literally refused to go and I cried even more. Like, kicked and screamed and full-blown tantrumed on the exact day and time the movers were to be arriving at the house. So while the movers were there and Benjamin was condemned to his carseat (because I was pissed and to keep him out of the way while 2937 boxes and furniture pieces were being moved in), I was feverishly calling preschools to check for availability and setup tours to get him out of terrible Pre-K #1.

We visited one that was actually pretty fantastic. I had to drive past the fabulous "sorry, we're full" montessori school on the way, but this new place just felt RIGHT. They even have a sight word wall, which are things we're working on at home because this kid has an uncanny memory and is totally well on his way to reading success. He's obsessing over words lately, so we're running with it and making sight word flashcards based on words he already knows (so, go, I, no, ice cream, pizza, pink, the, they, yes, stop, bump, Reno, etc.). He's now getting sassy about the words and only wants to tell me words that are also on his school word wall, but anyway. He's learning. Just don't make him color in the lines. #rebelwithoutacause

Today was day 1 of new preschool and when I arrived for pickup, Benjamin was smiling and happy and told me, "This one is a good fit, Mom." Now, if only little sister wasn't totally jelly about him getting a new school because she wants all. the. same. things. In her defense, his preschool is pretty bomb and hers is kind of dismal. But she needs a routine-based program to prepare her for potential full-day preschool next year and Mama possibly going back to teaching. I toured a school I'm hoping she attends next year and it's super cool. So big. So many resources.

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Little sister is zero percent potty trained. Like, we ask her daily and she says, "not yet. Tomorrow." We've had a WHOLE lot of tomorrows. Bootcamp coming soon. Stay tuned.

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In other news, my kids don't sleep anymore. Like, Benjamin was awake at 2 a.m. last night telling me about some random ailment I can no longer remember that is clearly no longer an issue. And Claire was completely awake between 3-5 a.m. absolutely refusing to sleep in her room. She no longer crib sleeps and there are no locks on the doors. It's just really... unfortunate. And so after literally seeing the clock every single hour from 2-5 a.m., we relented and she slept on my side of the king bed and I happily headed to the guest bedroom for a catnap before my alarm chimed to get the kids off to school.

And because it was the only morning I had kid-free this week, I knocked out a 5.5 miler on like 4 broken hours of sleep and I'm practically falling asleep at the keyboard here. And since Claire is currently sleeping in the hallway and screams bloody murder if you dare wake to move her to bed, she will definitely be in our room tonight and I will find my way to the guest bedroom once again. I do not co-sleep. I can barely co-sleep with my husband in a king bed. I'm a light sleeper even with earplugs. Tomorrow pack'n'play whether the little tyrant likes it or not because #mamacannotdeal with this no sleep business anymore. Send coffee. And a nanny perhaps.

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The house in IL is sold and that's at least a burden off our shoulders. We're officially Nevada license holders and visiting the mountains on weekends and currently planning a gondola ride, swim and skating at the top of the mountain in Squaw Valley this weekend. I'm joining the children's museum this week with the kids and we're looking forward to a huge hot air balloon festival next weekend and a couple date nights this weekend when my mom comes into town.

It's not all roses with all the tears about preschool and husband working long hours and #teamnosleep and ZERO people wanting to buy any of my stuff on Craigslist (seriously, people in Chicago would've been clawing down my door for a crib, mattress and AngelCare for $50), but we're definitely enjoying the mountain life with a side of mullet and huge side of leg tattoo that Reno proudly sports as a culture.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Day Recap

I sent my little petunias off to preschool/pre-k this morning and then did a happy dance. Well, in the form of a 4.5 mile run, but yeah. It was glorious(ly hot). But the rest was...weird.

The whole day was a little off, to be honest. The morning with the kids was great. After a full day of 4yo tantrums Monday, this morning was a breeze. Special toaster waffles with chocolate almond milk for breakfast, dressed in cute clothes, teeth brushed and even a cute picture in front of the house before hopping in the car for school.

Benjamin's drop-off was first. Apparently his school director sent out an email about an open house last week, but only some of the parents received it. I wasn't one of them and missed the open house. I was pretty bummed about that because I like to be informed. Plus, I want to know what the standard procedures/instructions are for the school. When I expressed my disappointment to the director, she told me I couldn't "do preschool wrong" (but seriously, couldn't you have called if you were concerned about email issues? Or text? I did sign up for text messages!).


We show up at 8:25 (for an 8:30 start) and not another parent is in the parking lot. Were we late? Early? I didn't know. We rang the doorbell and then rang it again. No answer. I knew people were inside, because I saw a teacher walk in a few minutes prior. I looked inside to see the director in her office with the light off. I picked up the phone and started calling. Just then, she opens the door. We were the first ones. Apparently drop off begins at 8:30 and they are really flexible about times. Weird. Benjamin's first two preschools were very prompt and had a set procedure that is necessary, IMO (and also the bonus of car drop-off and pickup).

We walk in and were then informed that they received his medical records and we weren't up-to-date on his shot records. Huh? We switched to a new doctor for insurance reasons at the beginning of his 4th year and apparently they didn't administer the shots he needed. I remember him having none, so it looks like we have to shell out a co-pay for shots. Ridiculous. Not her fault, but the delivery was off. I was just not getting the SUPER SUGARY SWEET INVITE you'd expect from an early school experience we are choosing and paying for. Anyway. I mean, you knew I missed the open house because your email system didn't send to half of the parents. And so at the very least, open the stupid door a couple minutes early on the very first day, you know? Turns out I could "do preschool wrong" at this point.

Pickup was just as odd. I walk in (after waiting for other parents to arrive... I learned), sign him out and then head to his room to pick him up. He's standing next to his teacher, washing his hands. His teacher is digging in a cabinet for changes of clothes and informed me that Benjamin did not have to use the bathroom at the designated time (stupid) and she thinks he "may have had an accident" but said she could be wrong. I look, I feel. I do the crotch grab mom move. Not a drop of water or pee or any type of excrement on him. So exactly what kind of accident? I told her it didn't appear so and then she told me I can bring a change of clothes to leave at school (which is when I told her that change of clothes she requested was in his backpack). Perhaps she could do a little checking.

I'm sure it's a good school. I'm not over the moon just yet. His school in Chicago was just really great. Other than the short hours, it was perfectly ideal for Benjamin. So we'll see. He was his usual self of not telling me anything, but that's not school specific; he never does.

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Claire was through the moon about going off to her school. We dropped Benjamin off and then were early for her school, which I'm convinced might be run more like a daycare (some kids dropped off hours earlier) than a preschool. But our goal was social time and getting her into a structured environment. I'm not really counting on much more than that. And for $53/week for 7 hours, I doubt we'll be getting more than that. I think I'll just let her binge watch LeapFrog videos and practice her fine motor skills cutting things she isn't supposed to (because she does anyway) to fill in the gaps. At this age, Benjamin was definitely legit spelling his name and knew most of his letters.

We arrived early but Claire couldn't contain her excitement any longer, so we headed inside so I could learn where to put her things, etc. We put her stuff in the designated cubbies and it was off to play outside with her classmates. I signed her in 5 minutes early, hoping they don't charge me by the minute extra for first day excitement. When I arrived to pick her up, my iPhone read 2 minutes early. Their clock read 2 minutes late. The director sat nearby and didn't really acknowledge me. I stood there for some moments before asking if I was to go back and get her myself. I headed back to find her in the middle of about 15 cots (with hardly sleeping kids) just reading a book. I think that's what happens after lunch is over. Rest time or book time before pickup. All was fine, but I was expecting more of a verbal update on how things went and perhaps some parent coddling for first day dropoff and pickup.


Neither kid appeared to be phased by the transition to their new school environments and headed home like usual. The afternoon brought a short nap for Claire and lots of book reading with Benjamin before heading to the park. Claire cried her eyes out as we left because she was leaving behind new "friends" at the park she had just met. The usual evening routine and the day is over. From here on out, I will never have a kid who won't be in "school" of some kind.