I can’t believe today you turn six. What’s even harder to believe is you were diagnosed with a heart defect when you were only in my belly for six months.
This day six years ago we couldn’t wait to meet you. We were excited to see if you would look like daddy or if you would resemble more of me. We hoped we’d be able to hold you and kiss you but we knew those hopes were uncertain to take place. My greatest hope though was that you would be breathing, thankfully you were! Hearing you cry from across the room while your team of doctors worked on you was the greatest gift.
Fast forward to now, here I sit six years later at your tackle football practice!! How amazing!!! At one point we didn’t know if you would be able to play contact sports but just as you’ve done this whole journey you proved everyone that you’re a strong fighter who will never give up.
I have to tell you what I’m most proud of and it’s your academic accomplishments. We moved to Arizona not knowing much about the schools and hoping you would adjust well and then there you go the first month of school getting student of the month! Like who are you?! It is so amazing to watch you come home excited about what you’re learning and then watching you practice those skills all on your own. Daddy might tell you sports is most important but know mommy thinks academics comes first!
The world around us has been crazy lately and I want you to know that daddy and I will continue to do everything we can to protect you. We will not teach you to live in a world of fear so know that if you look back and realize there are things we didn’t tell you it’s because we wanted you to be a kid and enjoy your life free of fear.
I hope that when you read this when your older you are still thriving. I have the highest hopes for your future and I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish but for now I look forward to what this next year brings because I know it’s going to be awesome😃
Always remember you’re my warrior, my fighter, and my hero.
So there’s all these weird superstitions revolving the number 13, the most common one being when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday, you know the dreaded Friday the 13th? The 13th of the month has a whole new meaning to our family significant to our new journey in Arizona. Yesterday being the 13th marked one month since the kids and I got on a plane and arrived in our new home but it also marked four months since my husband started his job here. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been together again as a family for a month but I guess no matter how long you are apart if you really are family it will always automatically be right again. Don’t mistake that for its been easy because transitions like this with young children are hard. It has been and is still at times hard for them to accept that I am not the only one that can help them. They relied soley on me for 95 days, give or take the few days daddy was home here and there, so the adjustment back to having two parents being able to do things for them is hard. The most difficult time for this is bedtime. We had such a routine about how shower, pjs, teeth brushing, story time, and getting tucked in went that trying to add in the second parent was something neither of them were willing to accept, if it wasn’t mommy doing it then it wasn’t happening. It seems that having daddy help certain nights doing certain things works for them so if thats what makes nighttime not so stressful we will go with it plus I love reading to them at night even if I know the books by heart.
For the first time on Wednesday I actually felt like this was home. Dying to know why? My daughter had dance class. Its kind of crazy right that after a month its taken a simple dance class to make Arizona feel even remotely close to home. Even after registering my son for kindergarten and my daughter for preschool and doing dance and football registration, having my grocery store and don’t forget Starbucks of choice and the Walmart I favor and I of course had to find the closest Michael’s which is conveniently smack dab between a Target and a Starbucks (thank you shopping Gods) it still just didn’t feel like home. Maybe because the last month has been filled with unpacking, having no schedule and not knowing anyone that the lack of emotional attachment to this new place we call home just wasn’t there. But Wednesday when I got her dressed for dance class and we got in the car and pulled into the studio parking lot and I put her ballet shoes on and she went into class like she knew exactly what she was doing did it finally seem real. She walked in with such confidence like this new studio and teacher and classmates weren’t going to stop her from doing what she loves and this is why having kids is so amazing. It took my 3 year old to show me that this new place doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the things we love or our ability to do them we just have to be open and adjust to this new adventure. Boy was she open, she kicked butt in class and I’m so proud and thankful for the confidence she is able to radiate, my star in the making. Of course the no family thing is hard but as we start planning our first trip home and we continue to FaceTime with those who are making the effort to stay active in our lives I know that we will see eachother again and be able to embrace the time we have together.
As we put this first month behind us we have so many things to look forward to. Football practice starts in nearly two weeks followed by school starting just a week later. We get to do fun things like school shop and open house night at school and get the family pictures taken I’ve been secretly dying for since we made the decision to move. I know as time goes on things will get easier and hopefully this new place we consider home will truly start to feel like it.
You were thinking 4th of July – let’s party – while I was thinking first holiday without- home, family, friends, and baseball. The morning was hard, I woke up to an almost empty house since Jay was off being an awesome boss and taking breakfast to his employees who had to work and he took Bray along since he was up before us and is always asking about the new plant. Makayla was still sleeping so I picked up my phone like I do every morning to check my messages and emails and then I opened my Facebook app and up pops the On This Day. I of course have to click to see what comes up and it’s all of our great pictures from the last few 4th of Julys at the baseball field and the park and pictures of my brothers and I together.
[ It’s not easy being away from family especially on the days where you typically have a tradition. I know that once we meet people that these things may get easier but probably never fully be okay.]
So after going through the pictures I chalked the day up to be a loss in my head and half shut down. Jay called and asked what I wanted him to get me for breakfast and unlike myself I said nothing just come home. By the time him and Bray arrived Makayla was in bed with me and we were watching Paw Patrol together. Bray comes upstairs and handed me my Starbucks drink of choice which I didn’t ask for but the gesture from my husband was nice. After talking about his visit to daddy’s work everyone left and I decided I needed to start the day. I ended up taking my sadness, anger and annoyance on cleaning my car and I have to say nothing makes me happier then a vacuumed, wiped down Pilot😍
Jay and I had a nice conversation about our plans for the next few weeks and where we want to visit followed by our plans for the day. I made fresh burgers which we grilled for lunch and then we all got to relax and take naps before we headed over to the entertainment area not far from our house. Side note- events don’t start around here until 4-5pm because it’s just to hot.
We decided our first piece of business at Westgate was to get dinner so we went to Mama Gina’s Pizzeria and got a delicious pizza…
We did have to wait a few minutes for a table so the kids took in the sites and checked out the fire trucks shooting water on daddy’s shoulders
After dinner we joined the crowd and walked around the plaza ending up at these really neat fountains…
We hung out for a little while and listened to the DJ before we trekked back to the car to set up for the fireworks and boy were we in a good spot. We happened to park right in front of where they were setting them off the downside to this was the hour wait getting out of the parking lot😐 Needless to say our attempts in not letting today go to waste were successful. We had a nice night as a family celebrating and experiencing new things together and that’s what makes this crazy journey we’re on so special.
From my family to yours we hope you all had a great 4th of July too,
Two weeks ago the kids and I boarded a plane unsure of what life was going to hold. Now two weeks in I can tell you we are surviving and making great strides in becoming settled and also preparing for the looming school year. Don’t let my “were surviving” fool you, a lot of things are different in Arizona then back in Pennsylvania.
Let’s just get it out in the open – the H.E.A.T. – yes it is Arizona and it is hot. Temperatures have been anywhere from 110-120 and yes it’s HOT! The heat is totally different though, in PA as soon as you walk out of the house you get drenched with sweat from the humidity but here instead of getting sweaty you can feel the sun on your skin hence why on the 100+ degree days you stay inside, go to a park under a canopy or stay in a pool and don’t get out.
Grocery shopping is different too, they don’t believe taco kits should come with soft shells so now I have to buy a shaker of taco seasoning and a package of shells separately. Grocery stores also don’t carry Italian sandwich bread in their bread aisles which is all we use in our house so this was a major issue but finally I found some at Walmart and all is good on the bread front again.
Street signs. In Pennsylvania we were used to seeing signs for Bethlehem, Allentown, Harrisburg, Quakertown and Philadelphia. In Arizona we see signs for Phoenix, Tucson and the one I still can’t believe I see is Los Angeles! It’s so unreal to me because I just never imagined I’d ever see a sign for L.A.
You also have to be conscious of things like – will my electric bill skyrocket if I do laundry between 12pm and 7pm on a weekday? The answer to that question is yes since electricity is triple the price during those hours (in the summer months). So you adjust and do laundry first thing in the morning, late at night or save it for the weekend!
I don’t want this to be seen as one big complaint because it’s not. So far I have loved being in Arizona, heat and all. I of course wish my family was here but thanks to technology texting, Facebook and FaceTime is making it easy to communicate with our family and friends. One of my favorite things is the amazing mountain views when I’m driving. They are so spectacular I don’t think looking down the palm tree lined road to the mountains in the distance will ever get old.
In two weeks I’ve accomplished a lot. My Arizona drivers license is on its way, Brayden is registered for kindergarten, Makayla is registered for preschool, we took care of finding a new bank and the boxes are starting to disappear from our house. There is still a lot to do especially with the school year only starting in a mere 40 days. This life change hasn’t been easy but taking it one day at a time seems to work best.
If you can’t tell I’m sitting in the corner of my sons room with my Starbucks with only one sip left sitting to my right. This is just a very tiny glimpse of my life, my disaster, my stress. I’ve got an overflowing laundry basket full of stuffed animals (we’ve already filled two trash bags and donated them), I have another (my 4th) bag from ThredUP that I’m packing and will ship off next week, Bray has trains (which he hasn’t touched in months) scattered on the floor, I have clean laundry in piles from vacation I can’t bring myself to put away because I need to be packed for an unknown amount of days in just 5 short days and well I’m done. I don’t want to sort anymore. I don’t want to take things out to put them back because I can’t pack myself. I don’t want piles of – donate – sell – trash – laying around. I don’t want to finish going through boxes in the basement. I don’t want to coordinate roofers, drywallers and property management companies. I don’t want to go through Toys for the fourth time and I definitely don’t want to be in this move any longer.
It’s coming quick with only 11 days and 56 minutes until the kids and I arrive at the airport to start a new chapter, one I’m not sure the three of us are ready for. Regardless it’s coming and I try to remind myself at some point these trash bags and boxes won’t be my life. Until then it will be Starbucks, take out and plenty more trash bags for me. I never expected this move to be easy but I definitely didn’t expect it to be this hard but when you’re alone in a situation like this how can it be anything but hard? My exhaustion and lack of motivation will have to step aside because time keeps ticking and these things don’t take care of themselves.
It’s hard to believe that last night my baby boy graduated preschool closing this chapter of his life. I am so proud of how hard he’s worked and the determination he’s shown, especially in the last few months where he really worked on the areas he was struggling most. He’s a social butterfly and will play with any child which is a quality that puts me at ease as we get ready to move. His love for learning is amazing and the way he absorbs information like a sponge is so impressive. I’m serious the facts he remembers during different class topics and lessons blows me away heck half the time he’s teaching me new things!
As proud as I am I couldn’t let the opportunity to celebrate his achievements pass me by, yes even at this age I believe it is important to show your children just how proud you are. Let’s be clear though it wasn’t a blow out type of celebration. Who doesn’t love a beautifully decorated cake with balloons and plates matching the occasion?
For me not only was it a celebration of his achievements but also a celebration of his life. Does that sound morbid? Well I apologize if it does to you but for me every milestone Brayden gets to hit is a celebration of his life and now I’m sure your asking yourself why. When Brayden was diagnosed with his heart defect I still had plenty of time left in my pregnancy to think. What a lot of people don’t know is that in those last 15 weeks of my pregnancy I had a lot of dark times. There were songs on the radio that instantly triggered me to cry. There were days where my brain acted as a tv screen playing reruns of the most devastating episodes of Greys Anatomy, you know the episodes where the patients don’t make it? And even though his diagnosis had a high rate of successful outcomes it was hard not to fall into the slump of what-ifs. And for the record continuing to hear “it’s all going to be okay” and “he will be just fine” are really not comforting after about the tenth time. Fast forward 5 and a half years and here I am out of the dark slump I once found myself in being able to look at the little boy who I once couldn’t think about without crying sad scared tears thrive and bring me to the happiest proud tears I could ever imagine. These emotions I have during these celebrations are so much more then just the event, they are the overwhelming emotions of “we did it, look how far we’ve come together after all we’ve been through” because not so long ago I really believed I would never get to share these moments with him.
So when you see the pictures of the pretty cakes and the balloons and decorations it is not to make anyone feel less about how they celebrate it’s just that these celebrations are everything to me because I’ve been given time with my child I never thought I’d have and I intend to make every part of this time -his life- a memorable celebration.
Take the time now to celebrate anything and everything because time goes fast and these moments will be gone before you know it.
In every journey there’s a low. I mean how can you expect there to not be since nothing in life is perfect. Every new adventure has its downright unforgiving moments. Yesterday morning was my low.
Our Sunday morning started off better then most I made chocolate chip pancakes and we sat down and ate together at the table which hasn’t happened lately (mom fail). The kids went and played while I folded and put away all the laundry and cleaned both the bathrooms. I got a nice hot shower with only one little visitor and without any fighting the kids got ready and packed up. Shockingly enough I even had time to grab my morning frappucino from Starbucks and no not the unicorn one.
The soccer field parking lot was full when we got there but without hesitation I backed into a spot between two cars like a pro, you should understand I never back in to spots so go me! We got to the field and set up our chairs while Bray practiced and then the game started. This soccer season is frustrating for Bray and I because well to put it frankly his team sucks. I know I know they are 5 and 6 but I swear half of them don’t know which way the ball should be going and the other half just stand there and don’t even try. Regardless we made it 50 mins into the game before Bray ran off the field to me telling me he had blood on his finger, well he didn’t in fact there wasn’t anything wrong at all. So then it began, he refused to go back on the field so he got the ultimatum; go on the field, go to the bench or we were leaving. This confrontation of course resulted in tears for him and me feeling embarrassed and like a failure because this was the second crying incident from my kids at the field. Thirty minutes prior to this Makayla had a meltdown resulting in tears and drama all because I wanted her to sit in the new chair she picked out instead of my lap.
In these moments how can you win? You have two choices 1. Let them have their meltdown and ignore it or 2. Fight with them making the issue worse. Problem is regardless what you do their is a scene made on the behalf of your children and everyone around you is judging your parenting. For me it’s hard because there’s a lot going on in my kids lives. We have just hit 6 weeks of Daddy being in Arizona and yes he has gotten to visit briefly twice but those visits are never long enough for the kids. In 6 weeks we have gone from a structured house with 2 parents to a divided house with one parent having to be the good guy and bad guy and getting few chances to really have a conversation with the other parent. It’s hard. It’s hard for me so I know it’s hard for them. In no way did I expect this to be easy but how did we get to this point? Where/when did I start failing my kids? Yes I cried on the way home from soccer because I couldn’t believe what just happened they were basically telling me something was wrong, actions speak louder then words.
How do you come back from the low? I made the kids lunch and put them down for naps and then I sat outside and thought about what’s been going on since dads last visit home, what adjustments I could make, how I could make the next 54 days easier on them. Do I have all the answers, no. What I did have was an ice cream date last night with my kids to end what started as an enjoyable turned to disaster turned to minor heartbreak kind of day.
Last night, well really early this morning, laying in bed trying to fall asleep mommy guilt started to set in. I had cleaned the house did all the laundry laid out their clothes for the next three days and even somehow managed to pack myself and although everything was done to make my trip away easier for them I still felt guilty. Why mommy guilt? Well for starters Makayla is 3 years old and I’m pretty sure our time apart has only ever consisted of one night away from each other. She’s my sidekick, my extra arms, sometimes a pain in my ass but nonetheless my baby. For Bray it’s different. We’ve spent time apart I think really just Jay and I’s honeymoon but he’s also older now and I know if he needs something or something is out of routine he won’t be afraid to voice it, a comforting feeling. But then there’s his soccer game, the first game of the new season this weekend and as the involved mom I always try to be my heart is breaking I can’t be there but again all of his stuff is laid out and the latest email about our weather conditions and instructions has been emailed to the family member caring for them so really everything is taken care of and his Grammy will be there too so his support system is in place.
So as I sit here and try to eat this oversized greasy slice of pizza waiting for my plane my heart still breaks. Being a stay at home mom is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing that I get to be with them everyday watching them grow, helping them when they need it and helping shape them into the little human beings they are becoming. A curse because being with them everyday is my place so when separation which should be extremely exciting for me because breaks like this are as often as seeing snow in the town we are moving to in Arizona I should be ecstatic. Not sure it helps that Bray followed me around all morning like a lost puppy instead of his usual routine of going downstairs and playing with his cars or on the iPad.
Regardless of my feelings and anxiety about the kids I am excited to see my husband and the town I am uprooting mine and the kids lives to live in.
As I sit and indulge in a vanilla iced donut from my favorite local bakery in my hometown these are the things running through my head:
It better NOT snow tomorrow because let’s be real it’s MARCH!
Is my little girl seriously turning 3 in one week?!??
My husband leaves tomorrow and what the heck are the next three months going to bring
Tonight while I made the requested final meal of chicken quesadillas we discussed the things that needed to happen, in the forefront is booking all the plane tickets we need for the next three months. I haven’t been on a plane in years and now I am going to fly ALONE, umm yeah still not sure I’m ready for that one.
Later while our family sat in the living room our son kept saying he was going to miss daddy, what do you even say to that? All we could do was remind him daddy would be coming home and in a few short months we will all be together in our new home on a new adventure. Easier said then done. Although I’m optimistic this first week will be okay since we are lucky enough to have my husband come home for our daughters birthday, I know after that as time goes on it will become difficult for them or will it become normal? I say this because the earlier conversation about plane tickets proved just how long the kids will have to wait between daddy’s visits home. Don’t get me wrong I know we are lucky we have this luxury where those who serve our country go months and months without seeing their loved ones so in a sense we are blessed.
My duties now as Mommy are to make sure this doesn’t become normal. Of course we will fall into our new routine of me juggling dance class and soccer practices at the same time but where there is a will there is a way and I will do my best to make sure the kids have the fullest last few months in PA and as much FaceTime with daddy as physically possible.
Reminder to myself…
Here’s to making it to the end🍻
P.S. Doesn’t it look like we are packing a college student?! (picture at the beginning)
Three weeks ago it was any typical Monday morning. My son Brayden was at preschool, my daughter and the kids I babysit were playing in the living room and I was taking a quick second to hide and chug my Capri Sun in the kitchen. It was a little while later when I got the text message that another plant in my husbands company was hiring for a position he had been commenting about for weeks prior.
First reaction: this is such a great opportunity!
Second reaction: Arizona is across the country from Pennsylvania…
After lots of conversation the decision was made to submit his resume and see what happens. Little did we know a little over a week later he would be on an airplane to interview for this job in a state nether of us had ever been to. Sounds crazy right? Things got even crazier a week later when my husband received an offer that it didn’t seem we could pass up. More conversations about our life here, family, friends, baseball, dance, our house ensued and the lingering in the back of my mind was if we don’t try we will never know. Then there was the conversation of positives- our kids could be outside almost all year long of course except the afternoons in the summer when it’s 115 degrees, they had baseball and dance studios, and even some of the schools had higher ratings then our current situation and well I haven’t started my career yet so besides missing my babysitting kids my sacrifices were minimal in the work department.
Then there were the dinner time talks with our kids consisting of daddy might be getting a job in Arizona, how do you feel about moving? Of course our 5 year old was hesitant he had just started to play sports and had school friends – those of which he wouldn’t be going to school with next year anyway but that concept he doesn’t quite get. Our nearly 3 year old doesn’t totally seem to get it, I explained to her that there are 3 dance studios we can look at and she can pick one and that’s all that really seemed to concern her.
So what do we do? Do we pick up our life and move nearly 2,200 miles across the country? Is this an opportunity my husband would have here? Could the kids adjust?
The new opportunities not only for my husbands career (huge opportunity) but for our kids and our life as a family outweighed our reservations about moving. Now don’t get me wrong leaving our family will be the hardest thing ever but agreeing to have a plan in place on when we visit home and a separate account to fund our plane tickets was reassuring.
Now I remind myself, if we hate it it doesn’t have to be permanent and if we don’t try we will always wonder what could have been.
And now I have to deal with my husband leaving in 3 short days to start this journey without us.
I look forward to sharing this crazy journey with you all.