Thursday, September 1, 2016

There are some things you can only dream of...

When you're counting the days, weeks, and months while your child is in the NICU, there are certain things you dream about. Sometimes it physically hurts to even dare think about. For me, sending Jack to school was right up there. I love school. And I've always wanted my child to love it, too. 

The reality of being born so very early, is that there is no guarantee to make it. There were some days were I was certain he wouldn't. Wouldn't get up one crisp morning, put on his backpack, and head to school. 

But then it happened. Preschool. And seeing that this kid can be in the world. Out of isolation. (Barely) Strong lungs, breathing in that school air. 

3 yrs old 

To experience the joy that finally! he gets to be around other children. He gets to learn his ABCs and 123s just like any other kid.

4 yrs old 

Growing taller. Getting stronger. More independent. Not as afraid. Loving life. Loving school.

5 yrs old

Then kindergarten. This was the year where I was acutely aware that all those dreams in the NICU? Well, they came true.

6 yrs old

And this week. Our big first grader. In a mainstream classroom. Doing such a great job. So proud of him.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Jack's One Level - Home

We are home. We have been in our house for a month now and I thought I'd better write about it before the rest of the year takes off from me.

Last fall, Jon was killing some time and took a left on a road he'd never been down before. He glanced over and saw this perfect little spot for sale. It's funny actually, because we had our eye on a different plot of land for years and the owners kept telling us it would be put up for sale. We waited. And waited. Then Jon takes a drive and calls me right away. He says to meet him after work to see this land. We could not believe it was available, one of the last in a sweet, tiny town south of Helena.

We took a walk along the creek behind the property and immediately fell in love. It was a minute from Jack's school. It was the perfect distance from Helena. All interstate and no frontage roads to contend with during our wicked winters. I remember shedding a few tears on this walk. It felt right.

And in the dead of winter, we signed on the dotted line and our new adventure began.

I documented most of the construction process (which was so much fun!!) on Instagram, but today, I want to take you on quick iPhone-snaps tour. Cause ya'll, it is DONE. We may not have a single thing on the walls and I may move our furniture around a hundred times, but we are moved in and loving every square inch of our new home.

I present... Jack's One Level!

This was right after the glorious sod was laid. Never underestimate the power of green grass, friends. Dirt flying and a white house don't mix! It's hard to tell from the photo, but that is a navy blue front door and shutters. And those are hanging plants from my parents that I have kept alive for 4 weeks!

The first room you see when you walk in the door is our dining room. We've already had friends and family over (yay!) and have had heart to hearts and numerous spills on this table and rug... because life! and we live here. It's so fun to realize this after dreaming about it for so long.

And then the heart of the home - the kitchen.

We spend most of our time around our green island.

One of our favorite things about the kitchen is the side-by-side gas ranges. We got the idea from chris loves julia. This saved us major $$ while giving us the look of a professional range. Jon made a batch of his famous pretzels for the neighbors last weekend and we got a taste of the time-saving that we'll have with two ovens!

And just a couple of my favorite little spots of the kitchen - the place for our cookbooks.

And our two open shelves, filled with such lovely housewarming gifts.

Here's the view from standing in the kitchen, looking into the living room. We have an open floorplan and wide spaces for Jack to get around.

We are shopping around for art for our walls. We have a lot of photography, but I need ideas for art to fill large walls. Send me ideas if you have any! We are slowly filling up our built-ins, too, and love that we finally have a place to display small photos and books.

We also have an office on the other side of the kitchen that has floor to ceiling built-in book shelves. For years we lived with our books in boxes or in make-shift bookcases here and there. A place for all the BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On that side of the house is the kitchen pantry, a laundry room, a guest bedroom and guest bath.

So far in our adventures of new construction ownership, we've had the delivery of a faulty washing machine that had to be replaced (here's my dad watching/listening/diagnosing the issue) and we also had the HAIL-POCALYPSE where our lawn was primed and ready for sod (this requires major delivery, placement, and smoothing of nutrient-rich dirt) when a hailstorm wiped out all the work in a matter of ten minutes and sent a mud river down the road.

Anyway, back to the house tour. Next to the living room is Jack's room!

This is a house built for him and his needs and there's nothing we like more than watching him enjoy his room.

And then the master bedroom, which Jack also thinks is his.

And that red barn view.

And finally, the master bath.

And my favorite spot most mornings, the back porch.

That's all the photos I have! I really can't believe we are here. Every step of this process smoothly fell into place. It is a dream come true and just in time for Jack to start 1st grade next week. We will walk along the creek, over the bridge and right to his school door.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Calm Before The Storm

It's so like me to pick the MOST DRAMATIC TITLE for this post (well, every post, really). Because feelings. We are quickly nearing our move date to Jack's one level and along with all that excited/happy/joy is the realization that we are ending an era. One that saw us through our early days in Helena, through Jack's birth and everything that's happened since. These walls have been our protection. They sheltered us in every sense of the word. When being at home was doctor ordered, it was our sanctuary where we could watch Jack get stronger and stronger. We've taken a thousand walks around our loop. The pine tree smell is in our blood. If you can't tell by now, I just adore our little home in the woods and appreciate everything it has been for us. Bittersweet feelings for sure.

But then we walk through our new home and know - this is the best move for Jack. This is looking more and more like our forever home. When I told you about Jack's one level, I explained our vision and that it would be built so he has access to everything. I won't have to worry about him falling down the stairs. This is a very real fear of ours that will go away as soon as we're there. He can come and go as he pleases. Our back's will get a nice break! When I wrote that first post telling you about the land we purchased, this was all in the dream stage. But to see it come together has been exhilarating. It's will make a huge, tangible difference in our lives.

Right now life is a crazy, fast-paced mix of moving boxes, trips to Lowes and Home Depot and a steady stream of builders, contractors, and the like. Building a house has been a crash course in "we don't know what we're doing!" and "we're having the best time ever!" It really has been so much fun. It's super exciting right now because we can see all the finishes of the house, so we are finally seeing how all our choices turned out. It's also scary because those are our choices, they're already in, and hopefully they don't look like a 7 year old put them together (please, dear baby Jesus).

In the midst of all this, we decided to take a breather and head to the family cabin. We needed some calm. No internet. No cellphones. Just the rumbling river to listen to. Oh, and Jack's Elmo's World collection. (Side note: Jack still loves Elmo. He didn't grow out of it. This makes us wonder if Jack will be 38 and still watching Elmo. Please start fasting and praying.)

Ah the cabin. The place where I read all the books and eat all the s'mores. Is there anything better in life? No need to answer my rhetorical question, because no.

First, there's something magical about sleeping at the cabin. All that fresh air and we had a little sleeping angel on our hands.

Carver Jon was in full swing. He has the busiest second job, I tell ya.

Don't feel too bad about his blistered hands, he got in some good reading time, too.

Jack was just chill. I love that he feels so comfy at the cabin.

I was really into this book. I know I'm late to the game. Quiet... wow, life changer.

(I was out with some close friends last week, lamenting how I wasn't seeing them enough. I'm one of those people who needs to keep friendships, conversation, etc. highly connected and deep. They said read this book! and thanks to the 2-day shipping gods, was able to dive in right away. It explains so much. As I came into my thirties, I was realizing that I had some introverted tendencies. I was cherishing alone time to recharge. I was enjoying my solitary and cerebral work as a PhD student. I was appreciating and longing for deeper friendships with a tighter-nit group of people. No fluff for me, please. Then I took a Meyers-Briggs personality test and yep, INFJ (I for introvert). I was still confused, though, because I don't have all of the introverted aspects one may first expect. I don't fear public speaking and I can small talk with the best of them. I enjoy blogging and sharing about my life through social media. I have times where excitement, adventure and loud are my jam. I'd say I'm slightly just over the introverted scale and Quiet explains so much about introversion, how introverts operate, and the power they have. Highly recommend, ya'll.)

Back to the cabin. Off course, lots of Jack cuddles.

I also wanted to do the annual photo on the cabin steps. This kid.

And now we're back to reality. Packing boxes and running around tying up loose ends. We pray Jack loves his new surroundings. Change is not easy for him and if you think of it, say a little prayer that he feels at ease with his new space and routine. Jack's one level is our next stop!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Seven Years Old

Our strong, sweet, funny, effervescent boy is seven. It feels like we are entering a new era. Something about being seven just seems OLD to me. Like total kid status. It doesn't help that Jack is growing like a beanpole and seems to shoot up an inch every week.

It wasn't until late afternoon on Jack's birthday when my thoughts went there. Although I find myself dwelling on it less and less as the years go by, it's still there in the back of my mind. I went to the moment when I was told I would have to deliver him so, so early or I would die. Around 4pm on May 15, 2009 the nurses brought in extra pillows to surround me in the bed (they were concerned I was about to experience eclamptic seizures) and through tears the doctor told me that Jack was not viable as a 23 weeker, but alas, I could not remain pregnant. Such is the scourge of preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. Delivery of the baby is the only way to save mom's life. Or you both die. Even as Jack was turning seven, I briefly paused, remembered, looked at the clock, and then went on my merry way. I only thought about Jack's birth one more time, around 8:45pm. That's right around the moment when he was born. When we heard his tiny voice wail. It shocked everyone that a one pounder could make such a noise. Then he was quickly intubated and our four month crash course in the neonatal ICU began. But enough about that. We have a seven year old boy to celebrate.

Birthdays are tricky, bittersweet things. Thoughts and memories come and go. But birthdays get better. In fact, a lot better.

Since Jack could care less about loud celebrations and birthday cake, we did what he likes. After a quick search for "big indoor pool at hotel" (which is kind of a hard find in Montana) we headed over to Bozeman for a weekend of swimming, Jack's favorite. Pure joy in the pool, I tell ya.

I kept looking at Jon wondering how in the world we happened to get the best child in the universe as our very own. I wish everyone could experience his joy, his sparkle, his love, his affection. He is sweet in every sense of the word. And he's also fiery and opinionated. He's so strong. He clears every hurdle with gusto. He had a hard year with his hip surgery, but he takes what life hands him and continues to be that same fighter he was when he was born.

Seven years old is a big deal. There were so many days when Jack was younger where I imagined, longed, and pleaded for him to get to be a kid. I prayed for the day where he would be strong and healthy enough to just live his life free from hospital walls or our own walls of RSV isolation. And here we are. There is so much to celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Jack. We love you so much.
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