Life Update

Happy Wednesday, loves!

It’s been three long, lovely months since my last post, and it was a much-needed break for me and my creative mind. The truth is that sometimes I feel relatively uninspired, and I don’t have much to say. If you want to dig further down to the root of that truth – and you should – it’s really because I’ve been in a less-than-stellar mood for most of the past three months, and it doesn’t feel authentic to on my end to sit down and publish a blog post that I hope will help even one person with even one aspect of their day.

There. I said it. I have been in a shitty mood for like three months now. It’s my own fault, and I recognize that the reason I’ve been in a shitty mood for three months is not one that holds a lot of validity or even weight. I recognize it is absolutely a first world problem and I have very little to complain about. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s not a problem.

I’m the problem.

I own that. I’m a very Type-A personality, and that means I like things done a certain way (mine), when I say, how I say, and to my standards. I’m not easy on myself, and I have high expectations because I know how I would handle a situation, and I tend to hold the same high expectations for everyone else…which I know is a recipe for instant disaster.

We are putting in a pool. And it’s been a journey.

I’ll spare you all the details, but it turns out I’m not a fan of contractors (something I’d not forgotten, but perhaps minimized in my mind in the 16 years since we built our first home), subcontractors, or people in general – though I never forget the latter.

It’s been a ride since day one. It began with needing approval from our HOA because we have some setback issues thanks to the way our house was situated on our property when it was built (corner lot, house sits in the back corner at an angle with the front of the house facing the front corner where our two streets meet. Our driveway is off to the side of our house along the garage on the secondary street, which is also our home address street).

Several years ago, we decided to add a pool to our yard. Our house sits on a small hill, the lower end of the hill in the back, and we have a wooden deck that was approximately 1,100-square feet with three different levels. Our lanai was screened in and opened to the deck, and we have two doors in the family room that opened onto the deck as well. We love the deck.

Okay, I love the deck. My husband loved it less. It’s a lot of maintenance. However, that’s not the point. The point is that we knew a pool in the backyard was not in the cards for us because the setbacks did not allow it. We need 25-feet from the structure (the pool screen) to the edge of our property line and because our house sits at a strange angle, the side of the house closest to the property line is only 35 feet. We can’t do anything with 10 feet (our deck was clearly constructed without any permission or HOA approval or whatever).

Anyway, we had pool companies come and tell us over and over we cannot fit a pool in the backyard due to setback issues, but that we could fit one on the side yard. We thought about it. We decided to pass. We didn’t want a pool sitting in the middle of the side yard with no easy accessibility to our kitchen or home, and that is sitting there in plain view of everyone who drives by our house on one of our streets. We decided to forgo a pool.

My long stories are never short, are they? Okay, I’ll try to wrap it up here. Long story shorter than it might be if I don’t wrap it up, my husband found a caveat in the HOA handbook back in May that stated that pools constructed in a side yard need only a 15-foot setback. We didn’t think much of it at the time because that’s not what he was looking through the handbook to find. But, a week or so later, he had an epiphany.

Our house sits at an angle. Our backyard, if you go by our address, is technically our side yard.

Hold. The. Phone.

So, we could angle our pool deck and have 20-feet on the small side and finagle a pool into the backyard and still have some gorgeous space to entertain? Cue the calling of all the pool companies in our county.

We met with four companies. Maybe five? I cannot even remember. We knew immediately upon meeting our pool guy he was the one for us. He had the best personality, the most amazing references, and he was good (and we maintain he’s been amazing). Of all the companies we’d called, we’d heard mixed reviews on all of them, but we heard not one negative comment about this guy and his company…and it is very easy to see why no one has anything negative to say. He does what he says, he gets the job done, his subs LOVE and adore him and speak so highly of him, and I cannot say enough nice things. He wasn’t the cheapest, but he had the best design and the best ideas, and he’s quick.

We spent weeks – and by weeks, I mean almost two months – nitpicking our design to ensure we maximized our space (and submitting designs to the HOA for approval while also fighting them to prove our backyard is actually our side yard and we can, in fact, fit a pool). We could fit a pool, but we still have setbacks that need to be met, which means we had to get creative in fitting it and still getting what we wanted. We also have a roofline that’s about 870384 different heights and angles because each side of the first floor is apparently it’s own entity roof-wise, and then there’s the second floor and the second floor terrace to think about when putting up a screen. There was also the issue of having a house that sits a good four-five feet above the ground in terms of door location, etc.

Basically, we didn’t get to do the easy thing and just add a pool to the back of the house. We needed 7 thousand loads of dirt, we needed to remove the screen to the lanai and incorporate the lanai into the new pool deck. That meant adding stairs there and adding a set of stairs to each of the family room doors off the entertaining side of the new pool deck. It meant needing stucco work and super gutters and all kinds of things.

Actually, our best friends had the beautiful idea that we have the lanai filled with concrete and pavered to match the pavers on the pool deck when we did the work (which was the best idea ever – a total game changer – but it also meant tweaking the plan and redoing the contract and ordering more pavers and adding to the total cost).

Long story short (you know I’m lying about my long story being short by now, right?), we finalized our plans, signed our final contract, and broke ground August 10 to construct our gorgeous backyard escape. It went by so fast and so well at first, but we did have a few hiccups along the way, including our first set of pavers being totally destroyed by a bad board during the creation of them. It added over two weeks to the timeframe because they had to make brand-new pavers and apparently both COVID and the fires and the hurricanes and all the things happening the world are putting a hold on a lot of construction supplies – and that meant we had to wait for the paver company to order good wood to press the pavers with. Before that we had a solid 10 days of nonstop rain. I mean nonstop rain. That was already an issue, but we lost a total of 25 days in that time because of the rain and the paver issues. Then the screen guy’s main man fell off a ladder and broke his back, and he ended up being behind on his work.

Anyway, long story short (I can’t stop saying it)…everything is going well and beautifully and I have nothing to complain about. However, Type-A Tiffany is a control freak, and she hates all the things messy and out of order. Add to the pool the fact that we were ripping up the first floor flooring and adding LVP flooring to the mix, and we had a LOT going on at one time. A lot.

It was a mess. Even when the floors were finished and it was just the pool, I’ve been living in a constant state of “OMG,” about everything. The yard was a mess. The grass was all torn up. The removal of the deck also meant the re-homing of every scorpion and wolf spider in the world that were apparently living under the deck all these years, and they’ve all come to our beautiful front porch – which was the only outdoor living space we had for a few weeks while the deck was gone and the lanai’s wood floors were ripped up – and gross. Just….gross. We have contractors using power tools outside our bedroom window at 6 am many mornings. There are always people in my yard, and I’ve been forced to wear pants around my own house for months now – y’all know I’m not a fan.

The mess. All the new furniture sitting in the garage taking up all the space and giving me anxiety. The lanai’s sectional cushions all lined up on top of the shelves and the cabinets in the laundry room to the ceiling made me feel gross about the mess. The piles of dirt in the back yard. The lack of cohesiveness. The mess. Did I mention the mess?

So, there you go. I’ve been living in a mess, even if it’s just the outdoors. I can’t handle it. I don’t like it, and it makes me feel all gross and anxious and lacking control of my own life. It’s put me in a bad mood even when I know I have no reason to have a bad mood. I don’t do disarray.

To summarize…I’ve been out of sorts. I definitely have more good days than bad, but I find myself obsessing over things being done and back in order and things not being as organized or tidy as I like them, and the yard not being super usable at the moment for the kids. It puts me in a funk. I don’t like the undone. I’m a do-er. I like a project started, completed, and cleaned up as quickly as possible…as in, I won’t stop a project to eat or sleep if I’m in charge of it until it’s done.

Seriously…when we bought this house six years ago, I woke up early on Saturday morning and came to the new house while my husband and our friends and family packed all the already organized and finished boxes and furniture into the moving truck and I painted all four of the kids’ rooms the colors we wanted in the morning. Our beloved friends and family helped us move everything into the house and unpack things like the kitchen and the bathrooms and bedrooms and whatnot. Meanwhile, after everyone left the night, I hung every single piece of art, unpacked every last box, and organized every last closet, drawer, and room in this house so that we could wake up Sunday morning and pour a cup of coffee, sit on our deck, and have nothing to do on our first full day in our new house.

Yes, I know. I’m insane. I did the same thing the day we got back from our honeymoon and moved into the house we built. I’m crazy. I get it.

So, I took a break. I needed it.

This space is one I want to mean something to me and to anyone who takes the time to come here and read. I want it to be a space that has a little of everything. Maybe a little inspiration when you’re not feeling it, or a little advice where you need it, or some insight where it’s helpful. I want you to laugh, to really think, and I want everyone who visits to take a little something with you when you go. When I don’t feel like myself, I don’t feel it’s authentic to sit down and offer up anything that isn’t coming from my heart. I don’t force my writing. I never have, and I never will.

However, as we round out the last little bit of work on the pool, I find myself feeling a lot lighter and more myself. The grading company came and flattened all the dirt. They put our plant beds back together, re-organized our yard and got rid of all the empty paver boxes and pallets and dirt and debris. The pavers are done and all the new furniture is assembled and out of the garage. We can use our space again, and I’m happy. Electric was done yesterday, the screen is going up this week, and the finish will be done following that.

But, the point is that it’s all clean, and there is no more mess. I feel like myself again. I feel in control and good and happy, and it’s my favorite time of the year.

This space is important to me. I write every day, but this is the space I write what I want, how I want, when I want, and without boundaries, and that’s important to me. I want it to be a happy space that’s open and realistic, honest, and not a place filled with bad attitudes and complaints.

I could offer you some advice now about how I handled living through feelings like this or how I dealt with the chaos and the noise, but I didn’t handle it well. I was negative and eye-rolly, and annoyed, and I drank too much wine, and I complained a lot more than I am proud of. Ask my husband…he’ll tell you what a delight I was. Advice is inauthentic here because I have no honest advice for dealing with that. I suppose I could have figured out a way to get my head out of my tight ass, but I did not. I can, however, tell you which ABC has the best sangiovese. Otherwise, I’ve got nothing other than the honesty that sometimes, I’m not my best self…and that’s all right.

Life Update

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I’ve been a little (okay, a lot) MIA lately. Our life has been CRAZY since Valentine’s weekend, and we’ve just been focused on our little family and what has turned into appointment after appointment after appointment after appointment.

You know that saying, “When it rains, it pours?”

(I wish it would literally pour because the only rain we’ve been getting is drizzly and it’s doing nothing to clean the 89 layers of pollen off our deck.)

It’s been metaphorically pouring around here.

Life has some curveballs, and I’m good with that. I expect most of them, and I know that they’re not uncommon, but sometimes it’s a little overwhelming when everything happens at the same time and you can’t live your actual life doing anything you actually need to do or want to do because of it.

To quickly run it down for you, we haven’t been home in six weeks. I mean, we’ve been home, but only Monday through Thursday. Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday has been filled with travel – and one hospital stay.

  • Cheer competition in Tampa
  • Texas for five days
  • Cheer competition in Orlando
  • Hospital for three days
  • Cheer competition in Daytona
  • Cheer competition in Naples

We finally get to stay home for the weekend this weekend, and you’ve never met people more excited than us. It’s been a while since we haven’t had to wake up at the crack of down to put pounds of makeup on our 10-year-old daughter’s face (don’t even get me started on that one…it kills me every single time I have to make her up for a competition. Makeup on children should be illegal).

As if we were not tired enough from the first three weeks of travel, early flights, and lots of long rides in the car, our son suffered a grand mal seizure almost three weeks ago. We were having dinner at our best friend’s house. We’d been at our nephew’s birthday party all day, and we went over there to grill filets and have surf and turf while the kids enjoyed their first pool day of the season.

It was a gorgeous day, and I was having the most fantastic glass of sauvignon blanc on the pool deck with my husband, our best friends, and our best friend’s brother (and our awesome friend) BJ when the kids decided to leave the pool and go out onto the driveway and ride power wheels.

That’s when our 10-year-old daughter began screaming that our 4-year-old son was lying on the ground throwing up, foaming, and shaking “ready bad” and we all ran. Time stopped.

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I don’t remember much other than seeing our sweet boy on the ground, a massive bloody mess on his head, foam coming out of his mouth, vomit running down his cheek, his left side totally still as his right side seized uncontrollably.

I don’t remember anything other than Geremy grabbing Carter and running to his truck while I yelled for BJ to call 9-1-1 as he had his phone in his hand. Craig began running to the truck with Geremy and Carter, and I remember running to it as it was backing down the driveway to head to the gate. I do remember the truck was moving when I opened the back door and jumped in. I think that I thought we were going to the hospital, but Geremy was amazing enough to realize that he had to run down to the end of their property (and it’s big) and open the gate for the ambulance, and the fire station is only a mile or so away.

He took us there. Laid on the horn while we beat on the doors screaming for help. They opened the doors, grabbed our son, and then I remember being in the back of the ambulance with three EMT/Firefighters, my husband, and our baby boy.

Corinna had our three girls, her own three kids, and our niece, who was having a sleepover with us. I don’t remember much else. I know I called Bridget, my niece’s mother, to let her know since we had her daughter. I think she called our moms? I don’t remember.

I just remember the tests.

I remember the moment our son stopped seizing in the truck while my husband held him and screamed for him to wake up and breathe. I remember Geremy yelling that he was breathing just before we got to the fire station. I remember his lifeless body and the fact that he spent almost a half hour unresponsive and out of it. I remember so many little things, and so few other things.

I remember my mom coming to the hospital with my handbag that I left at Geremy and Corinna’s. I remember Geremy and BJ coming to get my car keys from Craig and then coming back with my car and a bag of essentials. Carter was only wearing his wet swimsuit when it happened, and we left everything behind. I remember my mom telling me that my mother-in-law was with the girls and she was taking them back to our house to stay with them for the night.

I remember Geremy bringing with him a bag with dry clothes for Carter, water, his favorite snacks, toothbrushes and toothpaste and even a phone charger. Things we would need for an overnight stay that we didn’t have. I cried because we have the best friends you could ever ask for in the entire world. They took care of our girls, got the entire story about how he made a funny noise, began seizing, and then fell off the power wheel John Deere he was on. They talked to the girls. They cared for them. Geremy was back in the hospital by 7 am the following morning just to check on us and to see Carter. Brian and Bridget were there shortly after with coffee and some of Carter’s favorite things. Corinna and the kids were there right after that. Our moms brought the girls after that. My aunt was there with my nephew after that.

Our room was filled for three solid days with visitor after visitor while Carter went through test after test. A CT scan, an EKG, blood tests, urine tests, drug tests, and he did a 24-hour EEG test. Everything came back clear and perfect. Now he goes to Shands for an MRI to look deeper into his brain.

He was a champ.

And thank God for social media alleviating the need to respond to every single text and call that came through by posting updates there. And thank God for everyone who reached out to check on us, to ask us what we needed, to offer their prayers. Finding out our sweet boy was on the prayer chain not only at our church but at the churches of so many of our friends and family at the same time was powerful.

We are blessed.

Right now, he’s fine. He’s himself. We are not okay a lot of the time. Night is hard. The first week was really hard. Our daughters witnessed it and have been very emotional. Our oldest daughter doesn’t like to be away from him. Our middle daughter is acting out at school in a major way, and she’s overwhelmed when she has to say goodbye to her baby brother in the mornings. Sweet Charlotte is Carter’s twin, and she’s been quiet about the entire thing.

She’s been very close to him, and she doesn’t let him out of her sight. None of us are sleeping well. But we get better each day. It’s hard not knowing what caused it. All we know is that it was not a febrile seizure, it was not caused by trauma to the head, and it was not caused by dehydration or blood sugar issues. At this point, it’s simply unprovoked.

Yesterday, driving to school, he fell asleep in his car seat before it was his turn to pick a song. When I asked him what he wanted, he didn’t respond. In the rearview mirror, his head was down on his chest and he wasn’t responding. I panicked and started yelling his name, and that caused the girls to panic. A few days prior, he was outside playing while we were cleaning out the car after a trip, and he walked around the house. I called his name and when he did not immediately answer, the girls began to panic calling his name and screaming for him. Ava cried. He was fine, but it’s hard to realize that your own panic and fear is causing the same kind of panic and fear in your kids.

It’s a process.

And then there is everything else. We still have cheer, so that means we still have to travel every weekend or every other weekend depending on the week.

We now have a million and 12 follow-up appointments with our pediatrician and our pediatric neurologist. We have a pre-op appointment at Shands this week on top of a meeting at our daughter’s school with the counselor to discuss how we can help her cope with this better when she’s away from her brother, a hair appointment, a pediatric appointment, and an appointment with the plumber (more on that in a minute) on top of my husband working away from home yesterday. It’s been a lot of appointments. I can’t remember the last time I had a normal day when we didn’t have an appointment or I didn’t spend the day packing.

Just to make the month more fun, our AC decided to stop blowing cold air when we got home from the hospital – and it was almost 90 degrees every day. It was a slow stop we didn’t notice right away. It definitely felt warm at home when we got home, but our moms had been staying here with our girls, and they always crank it way up and like it so hot in here. Then it was a little cool, and then it was hot the day we left for Daytona – but we had to leave and we had to kick the AC guy out before he was done…which meant it was hot all weekend while we were gone, hot when we came home Sunday evening, and wasn’t fixed until Monday morning. That was a long day.

Fast forward to this weekend when we were in Naples, and we came home to find our toilets won’t flush but stuff keeps coming up the shower drains when we try to flush them or use the plunger. My husband called the plumber – no, septic people, since they are apparently not the same people – and they came out this morning while he was gone and I had to be home to let them do their job – and informed us that it needed to be pumped – fine – and that our drain field is totally shot to hell and back and needs to be replaced ASAP. So now we are getting a new one of those…whatever those are.

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And I haven’t even begun to work on my taxes yet, which means this month will only get that much more expensive when I turn all that in and find out how much we owe this year #selfemployedproblems. Fortunately, we are blessed and able to handle everything going on in our lives right now without worrying about it. It still doesn’t make it fun, but we are going to have what might as well be a brand-new house after all this! I’ll take it.

And that, my friends, is why I’ve been MIA. I’m currently finishing up a collaboration with an amazing company I should have posted the week Carter was in the hospital but did not, and a few other things. It’s been a heck of a time around here, and we’ve been so tired. Hopefully, this weekend at home will let us get some much-needed rest so we can rejuvenate and spend time with our loved ones….and hope our drain field lasts until they get out here to replace it.

On that note, you won’t get much more from me this month. I need a little more time to catch up and try to get back to normal, but I’ll let you know anytime there’s something new on the site.

Life Update: Diagnosed with the Flu and 3 Little Ways to Get Out of A Funk

Happy Tuesday!

I’ve been away from the blog for over a week now, and I really do hate that. I have some amazing content prepared and ready to share, but it’s been a very rough 12 days in the Raiford household.

The Flu

the flu

It hit. And it hit hard. I woke up 12 days ago after a lovely date night feeling just fine only to suddenly feel overwhelmingly exhausted, tired, and unable to function within an hour. I went to bed and didn’t resurface for a solid 48 hours. As suddenly as I went down, I felt amazing again. I lived with said feeling of perfectly normal for 48 hours until I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I thought I’d developed awful allergies all of a sudden. My head was so foggy and congested, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, and I couldn’t stop my eyes from watering.

My wonderful Instagram-fam sent me dozens of allergy-relief recommendations, and my husband picked up a few for me (which did not help….probably because it wasn’t allergies!) but I only felt worse when I woke up the following morning. That was Thursday. By the time I came home from picking up our kids from school that day, I laid down on the couch and fell asleep before 5 pm, slept until 7 am, and finally had to admit I needed to see the doctor.

So….I FaceTimed a doctor using the most amazing thing ever (MDLive). I didn’t have the energy to even get up to use the bathroom (not a problem since I was so dehydrated at that point, anyway), let alone go to my doctor, so I did it online. Literally, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

I had Tamiflu, two different steroids, and an inhaler in less than an hour thanks to the lovely doctor I spoke with. She didn’t like my deep cough, she diagnosed me with the flu though she didn’t test me based on the whole part where we were on the phone and all that, and within 24 hours of beginning my medications, I moved.

It was a big deal.

I’m still very, very tired. I can get up and function, but I’m slow and want to sit down and rest a lot. But each day is better than the one before. On that note, however, I’ve been spending a lot of time napping and resting – and I lost an entire week of my life. I actually slept through a hair appointment I forgot I had because I had no idea what time it was, what day it was or anything like that.

I missed over a week with my kids and my husband. They were here, of course, but I basically slept through their entire lives, and I really hate that. My sweet husband picked up my share of the parenting and life-doing without complaint (because that’s just the person he is) and held down the fort all by himself.

He is exhausted, and I’m looking forward to making this up to him even though he says there is nothing to make up. I literally could not do life without this man, and I’m so appreciative of him and all he does for us every day. I know how fortunate I am to know lunches are packed, kids are taken to and from school on time, homework is done, dinner is cooked, laundry is done, and the house is clean even when I’m unable to help at all – I know so many households fall apart when mom is sick and unable to help, and I’m so thankful to my husband for being sure that doesn’t happen here and that this mom does get sick days.

So, I’m working my way to being back in action. Today I woke up for the first time at my normal time (well, I laid in bed for an hour until 6, but I was awake, so that counts, right?) and we’re back to normal-ish. Carter is sick, so we’re headed to the doctor to make sure he’s not coming down with the flu, but otherwise, it’s back to real life as normal today despite the funk I’m in.

I finish one set of my medication today, one set of it tomorrow, and two more sets of it on Thursday, and I’m so happy. It’s got me in such a funk – well, that and just not being myself, in general, has me in a funk. I don’t love it, so I’ve been looking into a few things I can do to get rid of the funk I’m in and find my inner happiness again. It’s definitely not easy when you’re working on getting over the flu – which sucks – and on four different medications when you’re someone who never takes meds because you hate the way they make you feel – but these things do seem to be helping.

Read

While I laid in bed for more than a week, I did it with books. I read six books in the last week while I wasn’t napping. And that’s what makes my soul feel on fire and good. If you’re not a reader, I don’t even understand you. What’s more amazing than taking yourself into any world you want when you’re stuck in a less-than-desirable situation of your own thanks to the “F” word?

*Side Note: I’m not sure I’d have been able to read if it weren’t for my iPad Pro and its connecting keyboard because I can prop it up next to my face and read without using any energy to turn pages or hold a book.

Create New Goals

I may have felt a lot like I was dying for a good week, but that didn’t stop me from making new goals, creating new ideas, and taking ample notes regarding both on my phone when I had the energy to pick it up. I have a long list of really exciting new things to work on now that I’m back, and that’s thanks to focusing on new goals and exciting endeavors when I was lying in bed.

Appreciate the Little Things

As I began to feel better, this got a little easier. However, it’s not always fun to lie down and do nothing useful. All the things you’ve missed out on start to bother you, and it’s really easy to fall further into a funk because of it. I focused on the little things. Every time I felt myself feeling sorry for myself or upset that I wasn’t able to control life to the fullest for more than a week or that I wasn’t where I wanted to be at the moment, I forced myself to sit down and appreciate the little things.

I listened to my husband help our oldest with her homework, and I realized just how smart they both are and how well they work together. I listened to him make dinner for all four kids while also answering math problems, putting band-aids on booboos, and telling really bad knock-knock jokes with our six-year-old without missing a beat. I watched the sun come up over our back deck from the couch, and I really just appreciated the way the morning light hits the back of our house of glass and windows. I’ve always loved the morning light in this house, but I was really reminded just how spectacular it is when I take the time to watch it.

Once I was feeling better, I also really enjoyed listening to the day start when my husband opens the doors and windows on a beautiful morning. I swear, as materialistic as I am, the little things like this are really just my favorite.

The little things made me happy, and I’m definitely working my way out of my funk.

It sucks – for lack of a better term – to be sick and feel like this, and it’s difficult to get out of a medication-induced, flu-induced, feeling-sorry-for-myself-induced funk. But it’s getting easier every day.

Being able to stomach a cup of coffee for the first time in a while helped the funk a bit, too. Not gonna lie.

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