It wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly. I had given myself until next spring to get accustomed to the idea of leaving this little house that we’ve called home for 8 years. This little house that, when we moved in, I never fully embraced and thought of a temporary location, truly began to feel like “home” over the last few years. I started to see the mark we’ve left in the creaky floors, itty bitty kitchen and hallway of multiple doors.
What was supposed to happen in a year has been crunched into a handful of short weeks, and I’ve had my moods shift from sadness and loss to frustration to a more consistent, “let’s do this.”
Since 2012 or around, Steven and I had thrown around the idea of buying my parents’ house on the northeast side of Indy once they had downsized into a condo. There was never any urgency given that Wesley likely won’t start Kindergarten until fall 2016 (or maybe even 2017), when we would hope to be settled into another township for school purposes. And in a house with more than one bathroom.
This past winter, we and my parents decided to plan for spring 2016 as our moving time period. The weather got warmer, and for fun, my parents started looking at available condos in communities in which they had interest. A few came and went quickly, so they knew that the areas they were looking at were desirable.
Over Mother’s Day weekend, a condo went up for sale that was in the neighborhood they liked best, and after a walk through, they knew it wouldn’t last on the market long. They acted quickly and put in an offer. Within a handful of days, their offer was accepted, and a couple weeks later, they claimed the keys.
We really haven’t begun to pack until now. Some boxes are easier to pack than others. I’ve only shed a few tears, and the momentum is moving forward – we’re ready to move now. The plan is to help Mom and Dad move big stuff out this week, and we will move our big stuff in next week. From there, we will likely list our house to sell.
I had Wesley help me create a video tour so that we can always remember our little house – especially him, as he’s likely to forget the place he spent the first few years of life.
Pros – big yard, lots of house space, established & safe neighborhood, quick commute to jobs and church
Fears/Cons – having more rooms to clean and the fear of accumulating more stuff, missing our eastside friends and neighbors and businesses, making my childhood home into OUR home
I’m sure this won’t be my last post about making our way into a new home. Stay tuned, friends. I’m also sure I will be needing help choosing paint swatches and decor and everything else!
While I was organizing and setting up my webinar for 5 p.m. today, I noticed my phone ringing from Wes’ preschool. You know you better answer the phone when school calls. People started arriving into the digital waiting room, but I answered the call anyway.
“Hi, Leah. Wesley had a big fall today.”
Uh oh. “What happened? Is he alright?”
“Well, we stopped the bleeding from his head, and he’s been a good trooper.”
I’m not sure I heard most of what she said next because I was immediately thinking concussion. And then my mind raced to stupid scenarios which likely were too creative to be true. All I gathered was that there was a basketball hoop, some major dunking and mulch. Something at some point hit Wes in the back of the head and left a small puncture wound.
I talked to him over the phone and told him he would be alright. Daddy would pick him up soon.
whimpering “Okay, Mama.”
I hung up the phone and tried to plow through leading a webinar. Afterwards it took me nearly an hour to get home, but I did, eventually, and he was happily sitting on the couch.
“Hi, Mama. My head got hurt today. I was playing basketball.” I saw the ridiculous amount of blood that had stained the back of his shirt. It took all my strength not to pick him up like a baby and rock him. (What is wrong with me? It’s just a small cut!)
We played outside for a little while, tried to clean up the wound with hydrogen peroxide and rinsed the blood out of his hair in the fun form of a bubble bath. He seemed to act fairly normal all evening; we read a couple books and said a prayer thanking God for keeping him safe.
“My teacher picked me up and I was crying a lot. She was nice to me. And Daddy was nice to me and picked me up from school, too.” Sometimes he talks causally to God about his day. I’m sure God thinks it’s as sweet as I do.
He quickly drifted off to sleep.
Sweet boy, keep that noggin of yours safe. And don’t ever need stitches, please. This mama can’t handle it.
I am not old. I don’t even look my actual age. However, my body is starting to show its wear and tear, but you know what? I love the changes.
As a child I looked forward to turning two different ages: 25 (because supposedly you have access to everything and all your life in front of you) and 32 (because that was the year I had thought I would get married and start a family). Twenty-five was a good year: I was in my first job and second year of marriage – even though my 15-year-old self would likely scoff at the idea of being married at that point (I was supposed to be CAREER-DRIVEN!). We had bought a house the year before and were making it our own. We met new friends and neighbors and hung out, and life was great.
And now I’ve reached my other proclaimed milestone year, but I already have a ring on my finger AND a child. (Scoff!) What has 32 brought me instead?
My first age spot! I have one on my right cheek bone, and I’m pretty proud of it.
Poor acne problems. Please tell me I don’t need to take Accutane again.
Two new face moles. In fact, one of them was formerly a zit. Did you know that could happen?
A reason to trim nose hairs.
Finicky eyes. No more extended contact lens wearing. And I have to change them every month or it feels something terrible.
Spider veins. Oh joy!
Permanent forehead creases from years of making silly faces and being surprised.
Even though the list isn’t glamorous, I feel great. I spent my birthday a few weeks ago feeling wonderful. I’m proud of where I’ve been to make it to present day, even on those particular days where I feel tempted to splurge on wrinkle cream or night cream or some other cream that doesn’t hold up to its promises. I like my buggy eyes and my thin upper lip and my big teeth and nostrils. And yes, I can even sorta like my pale skin.
I like my aging face because it’s the one that gets my husband’s attention and my son’s touches/smudges. I love the way they look at me; the way they tell me and show me I’m beautiful. It makes it easy to believe them.
In the last 4 weeks, Wes has averaged one accident every day. He’s been potty trained for nearly a year, but with warmer weather, it’s hard to pull him away from activities before his bladder explodes. I’m tired of doing extra laundry and changing sheets, and I can hear my irritation creep into a reprimanding voice at Wes. I’m also tired of getting mad.
Wes is a great self-rewarder. He loves this cute British show on Netflix, Octonauts (he’s already planned his July birthday party with an Octonauts theme), and he’s set his own reward system – allowing two 10-minute episodes to watch after school but only if he “stays on green” throughout the day. If his behavior and lack of following directions lands him on either yellow, or heaven forbid, red, he does not allow himself to watch for that day.
I’m fully in support of this system. I mean, 20 minutes of TV a day isn’t bad. And it’s such a pleasant show that I don’t mind watching with him or hearing it in the background as I’m making dinner. What’s best is that HE instilled his own system for rewarding positive behavior. I can’t argue with it.
Since we’ve regressed in bathroom practice, I’m grasping at straws to find an encouraging reward like his own creation. A potty sticker chart seems almost juvenile for him, but I think it’s necessary since this weather isn’t going to get bad any time soon. His teachers haven’t said anything about accidents during the day – either it isn’t happening until he’s at home or the accidents are so minor that it’s nearly unnoticeable. (But, man, he STINKS!)
Another area of constant thought in my worry-brain is Kindergarten. As a child who spent first grade recess finishing seatwork while the rest of my classmates romped outside – which then led to a mid-year transition back into Kindergarten – I worry about Wesley’s readiness next fall. He’s a July baby, so he would be one of the youngest kids in his class. However, he is extremely social, confident and independent, and he absorbs everything I put in front of him.
My 3.5-year-old is READING. Holy moly. One free day last week, we picked up the first set of Bob Books, a great set for very early readers. A gradual introduction to sounding out words, Wes quickly understood enough to read the first book aloud after 5 minutes of prep. That excitement?! Contagious.
We have another full year to monitor readiness. Then the next decision is WHERE to send him to Kindergarten… In the meantime, I have to get a sticker chart hung up in the bathroom.
Dear friends and family,
As many of you know, my career path also holds a large part of my heart – I value and desire to serve caregivers and individuals living with dementia.
Me with Grandma Fernsler
My grandma Fernsler developed dementia while I was in middle school. I know that I am blessed to say that I only have fond memories of her and how our family loved her — even during those last few years — because I have seen and heard many sad experiences completely opposite of my own. I know that I am even more blessed to say that my grandma Ashbaugh, who met Jesus in January, was spared from this terrible disease entirely, which is nearly uncommon these days (1 in 3 seniors dies with dementia).
Because of my experiences, I’ve become very passionate about doing what I can to assist those living with Alzheimer’s. I’m not the best at asking for donations, and I’m very spotty at fundraising, but I do realize the great need to help families touched by this awful disease. During the next few weeks, I’m hosting a couple online fundraisers in memory of my grandma, Jennie Fernsler, and my grandma, Maxine Ashbaugh, leading up to Mother’s Day.
If you have a special mother, daughter or aunt in your life, please consider a gift through one of my online “party” sales to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association care and support programs.
I have set a personal goal of raising $1,500 for the fight against Alzheimer’s in 2015. If you are interested in supporting me with a tax-deductible donation, you can give online at my personal Walk to End Alzheimer’s page: http://act.alz.org/goto/leahshattuck.
This morning, we somehow got around to talking about the careers of our relatives. Wes was fascinated to know what his aunts and uncles did “at work.”
Me: Did you know that Aunt Hannah, Uncle Jason and Aunt Kelly are all teachers?
Wes: You mean like my teacher at school?
Me: Yep, just like that.
Wes: I have a teacher. Her name is Miss ____.
Me: And when Grandma went to work, she helped sick people.
Wes: Yeah! Because she’s my grandma.
Me: Aunt Katie and Uncle Lee also help sick people get better.
Wes: What does Grandpa do?
Me: He’s called an engineer – he fixes things and uses wires and gadgets. (I really didn’t know how to best explain.)
Wes: And Pa and Nana, too.
Me: Sorta. They both work at an office like Grandpa does. And so do I and Daddy.
Wes: Why do you work with markers?
Me: Oh, you mean “marketing.” Yep! That’s what Daddy and I went to school to learn to do. And now we do it at work.
Me: Annnnnnd! Did you know that Uncle Chris works on houses? And he builds them too?
Wes: (hitting a sweet spot) HE WORKS ON HOUSES?! Like the song… (launching right into it)
Uncle Chris built his house upon the rock
Uncle Chris built his house upon the rock
Uncle Chris built his house upon the rock and the rain came tumblin down
The rains came down and the floods came up
The rains came down and the floods came up
The rains came down and the floods came up
And the house on the rock stood FIRRRRRRMMMM
And then later,
Wes: When Uncle Chris is sick, that means Aunt Katie makes him feel better. And then he builds houses.
Over the last few weeks, Wes has enjoyed playing “Put Mama to Bed” before his own bedtime rolls around. This consists of him insisting that I lay down on the couch and close my eyes and assuring me not to be afraid because there are no monsters in the room. I then recite all of his pre-sleep stalling tactics – more stories, a drink of water, being scared, more songs, etc etc, and he gleefully plays along.
Tonight I asked him to sing me a few songs, and he participated by singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and a few others. He then prayed for me and told me to go to sleep, got up, and left the couch. I pretended to sob and beg for a story. Trying to hide a pleased smile, he came up with this little bit:
Once upon a time there was a little girl. And she was a princess and played dress up. And she was really pretty. She’s you! The End
And then – biggest, sweetest grin you ever saw! I told him I could sleep all night after that cute little story. He followed up by telling silly stories of Steven, then one of Jake and Lucy.
Our child has the “oh, please, Mom” look DOWN. Every night he and I have a little conversation that goes a little something like what I captured on video this evening.
Sometimes there’s a little more reading aloud than chatting, and sometimes there’s a little more cuddling, but I love that he cooperated enough to show a glimpse of his budding personality – part ham, part sly, part smart (in both aspects of the word). And through it all, you can still see his sweetness.
PS – Wes corrected me later that we forgot 1 & 2 Timothy.
Post-bedtime whimpering coming from Wes’ bedroom. Instead of rolling my eyes, I just went with it tonight.
Me: What is it, sweetie?
Wes: Mama…(unintelligable whining)
Me: I can’t understand you, babe. What’s wrong?
Wes: I…my toe hurts.
Me: Your toe hurts?
Wes: Yeah. (whimpering)
Me: I’m sorry. Is that what’s keeping you awake?
Wes: Uh huh.
Me: Can you show me? If I kiss it, will it feel better?
Wes lifts his sweaty foot out of the covers and holds it to my nose. There’s clearly nothing wrong with it, but I leaned in and kissed his clammy foot anyway.
Me: There now. You can go back to bed.
Wes: Okay, Mama. I love you.
Me: I love you, too. If it still feels hurt in the morning, we’ll put a bandaid on it in the morning.
Wes: Okay, Mama. You’re my best girl.
Me: Goodnight, my boy. I’ll see you at breakfast.
Wes: Night, night.
We’re going through another disobedient phase, and I admit that I’ve been quickly irritated when Wes hasn’t followed directions or stopped to listen.
But, sometimes he just needs a little more time with me before he nods off to sleep. And if I remember this as I enter his room, instead of being annoyed that he isn’t yet asleep, I’ll usually experience a wonderfully loving moment with my son.
We successfully made my work trip into a family excursion! Nervously, I left my boys to fend for themselves for a day and a half while I traveled with my coworkers. Steven sent me text messages while I was in breakout sessions for the Alzheimer’s Association Leadership Summit conference throughout the day, giving me updates about their airport experience.
I was super bummed not to be able to witness his first airplane experience, but Steven caught the whole takeoff on video.
He’s the best.
My coworkers and I were at Epcot during the time they arrived. I don’t remember a thing about this park when I was last there at age 5. The place is amazing, and it’s spectacular to walk around at night. Our group ended up in “Italy” for some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Perhaps because that’s Disney magic, or maybe because it was just that good.
I was greeted by the guys in our hotel room, Wes excitedly telling me about his plane, train (shuttle) and bus rides over the last few hours – I mean, seriously, a little boy’s dream! We somehow slept that night and woke up to another beautiful, cloudless day in Orlando.
The pool at the Marriott World Center is breathtaking. I was able to join them outside in between my conference sessions, watching Wes wreck havoc on his knees and feet from playing so hard in the splash area. I loved knowing that my family was just a few yards away, even though my sessions were fun and encouraging. Basically I was on Cloud 9.
While the rest of my coworkers hung out that evening, Steven needed to get away from the hotel and his babysitting duty. We headed to Downtown Disney (soon-to-be Disney Springs) for the LEGO store and street music and entertainment. I had gone for dinner there a few nights before, so I had scoped out areas that I thought Wes would enjoy.
He was busy building a car to race when I met up with long-time mentor, teacher and friend, Lisa Meharry. She has been living in Orlando for several years, and it’s been just about that long since I had seen her last. Lisa taught me how to read music and eventually how to play the clarinet. She helped me navigate some of the rough patches of adolescence and into college transition. She’s been a prayer warrior for me and many of my peers, and I know it’s because of the example she and two other women demonstrated during my “who am I?” phase of life that I have come out ahead. It was so refreshing to see her again.
The following morning was the day we had been waiting for…Magic Kingdom!
Wes woke up very excited, but not really knowing what to expect. Packing everything we could think of, we set off and took a taxi into the park. Hey, did you know that you can instead be dropped off at the Polynesian Resort and take the monorail, free of charge, directly into Magic Kingdom? It avoids the $17 gate fee as well as parking.
We walked right into a Main Street performance to the Muppet Movie’s “Life’s A Happy Song,” got Wes’ 1st visit button at City Hall and THEN
MARY POPPINS stooped down and talked to him in a British accent for, like, 3 minutes. He was super shy, and I was super starstruck. It was great.
He ooh and ahhed at Cinderella’s castle and was quickly ready to move on. We headed directly to Fantasyland and hopped onto It’s A Small World instantly – no line. His expressions were priceless. He was amazed at the boat and the building and the characters and everything happening all at once.
We had FastPasses for Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh and saw/rode a few other things before the day turned into a chore. Partly because he was tired from the day before, partly because lunch plans weren’t until 2:30, Wes was done with Disney within the next hour. I’d say we had a solid, good 3 hours, but it wasn’t really what I had anticipated.
I did try to enter the day with low expectations, but going to Disney World with two homebodies who prefer the quiet comforts of home over swarming crowds, coupled with bouts of “hangriness” (even my packed crackers, fruit snacks and granola bars weren’t good enough) made the day a little bland.
Not to say we didn’t have any fun. After venturing around Adventureland and Frontierland, we showed up for our reservation at the Crystal Palace for a late buffet lunch with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. I’m pretty sure I melted when I saw Wes’ eyes sparkle at the first sight of Tigger, his current favorite-of-all-characters.
I mean, look at that face! Unfortunately, Tigger was busy hugging the other side of the restaurant, but we were able to converse with the other guys until we finally stalked him on our way out the door.
To see all of our photos from Magic Kingdom and beyond, click here.
By this point, we resigned ourselves to leaving the park well before any fun night parades; he just wouldn’t make it. And we probably couldn’t, either, with all the handling of cranky-kid and all. Before we left, however, we made sure to pay Mickey Mouse a visit, and it was perhaps the best part of the day.
DID YOU KNOW THAT MICKEY MOUSE TALKS TO YOU?! Wes, a fan of Nintendo’s Kingdom Hearts, had really wanted to run into Sora and, disappointed, couldn’t find him in the park (duh). Steven suggested he ask Mickey Mouse about it when we saw him. Though he was too shy to ask, we still stumped Mickey on that question, and it led into a slightly awkward “hey, let’s instead pretend we’re trains!”
Mickey said the right word and captured Wes’ heart. It was a terrific way to end our day, though short, at Disney World.
We headed back to the hotel before the sun went down. Wes was just as excited, if not more, to swim in the massive pool as he was to do anything Disney. At first I was irritated, but later realized he was happy to spend time with us in a quieter place. We stuck our legs in the heated pool and warmed up by the outdoor fireplace before ordering Giordano’s pizza and watching a movie. Despite our change in plans, it was a good day, and we were all ready to head home.
Waking up at 7:30 the next morning – this morning, Steven saw that we could bump our flight from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. and be home before the worst of the predicted weather hit. I agreed and we were in a taxi within 30 minutes. We’ve spent today in our own home and with our own stuff. We weren’t due to land in Indianapolis until late tonight, but instead, I’m lounging on the couch with the dogs. It feels good to be home.
Here are the lessons I learned: there’s not much magic in Disney World with a cranky, testy preschooler. Sometimes the hotel pool provides the magic. For all you prepare in advance, the attitudes of your party are not in your control. (Save your money and wait until your child is at least 4, unless he or she shares your love of Disney or is a big fan of Disney princesses.)
AND probably the best lesson learned: Who cares where you are? To quote Mary Poppins, “You FIND the fun…and SNAP!” It can be anywhere. The trip itself – the plane ride, the hotel stay, having the guys nearby during my conference – was indescribably wonderful. We had an amazing opportunity to be together in an otherwise unlikely situation, and we even had a little Disney fun on the side. It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, but it was a good trip and it is good to be home.