Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Journey in the Jerz

Two months after my last update, here I am again, coming to you alive and well from the Jerz!

The past couple months have been a whirlwind of craziness. Last we spoke, Atlas had just turned one. He was just starting to walk, nurse less, and become a great eater. Now, I have a tazmanian devil on my hands, wreaking havoc wherever he goes. He is much more independent, not nursing OR WAKING at night at all anymore (FINALLY!!!! We had a good patch and then a REALLY rough patch, but back to normal now... I think... I hope...), and basically licking his plate clean every meal (except for the stuff he throws on the floor for Nym...). He builds block towers, plays with trucks, kicks and throws balls, and shares toys (and grabs them away again just as quickly). He is curious and smart and can figure out how basically anything works. He is also very manipulative, which doesn't fool me, but certainly fools all his grandparents in to being wrapped around his little finger. I will admit, it is hard to say no.

All of this positive change, despite the instability of our life.

When our family left from his birthday visit, Atlas came down with the worst cold he has ever had. 16 days of snot, coughing, barely sleeping, crankiness, and being confined to the house to prevent infecting all our friends.

Just as he was getting better and we tried to get back in to the swing of things again, Irma hit.

Being from NJ, I have no idea what to think about hurricanes. My only experience was with Former-Hurricane-Turned-"Super"storm Sandy, which nearly destroyed the Jersey shore, almost crushed my house (and did crush my neighbor's house) with a tree, and cancelled Halloween that year. So to me, hurricanes = not fun. Last year, my mom got stranded in Florida for Hurricane Matthew, and we spent the night at Kristin's house with my then two-month-old Bean. Everything was fine.

With Irma, everyone was freaking out a full week before the storm hit. Before we even KNEW if the storm was going to hit. On Labor Day, I went out in the early morning to get some food to grill, and the store was starting to get mobbed with people buying hurricane supplies. I grabbed a bunch of water, nonperishables, alcohol, and delicious snacks (all necessary for hurricanes), stopped at the gas station (which had already jacked the price up 20 cents), and got home ASAP. 

By that night, stores were reported being sold out of water. We got a call from the guy who was supposed to be installing our hurricane shutters, who told us that our parts were on backorder now due to the storm. Yes, we should have had shutters before now. We were planning on moving, but we didn't, so we decided to get them installed ASAP. Shitty timing.

Eric put an order on plywood and supplies, which emptied our bank account of hundreds of dollars, only to be told Tuesday morning that the store cancelled our order and wouldn't be giving us plywood. By then, every place Eric called was sold out, and lines were backed up on to the highway for Home Depot and Lowe's. We had no clue if we were going to be able to protect our windows, which are actually five giant sliding glass doors. 

Half the people we knew were evacuating, and half the people we knew were staying. Could we have stayed with friends? Yes. But if the situation got bad, what were we going to do with a toddler and a giant dog, especially if our cars were back at home or in a parking garage? I didn't want the stress of being a burden to my friends or getting stranded in traffic on 95, and I didn't want to evacuate to elsewhere in Florida in case the storm changed course (which it did... about 43895734985 times).

So, on Tuesday afternoon, we cleared the patio, packed as much as we could in a couple suitcases, put the rest of our valuables in our upstairs closets, took photos of everything, and up and left for a 20-hour journey to NJ with Atlas and Nym on Tuesday night.

Since we weren't expecting to take a giant roadtrip, we hadn't slept since the night before. I think we ended up being awake for 48 hours straight or something crazy like that. We did the whole drive in one pop. Mr. Structure was surprisingly good in the car, sleeping all night and taking several naps during the day. Nym was a champ as usual. We were mentally prepared to lose everything, which we probably would have, had a ginormous Category 5 storm directly slammed in to us with no window protection. Thank god it didn't. The worst damage we had was no power for a week.

I don't regret evacuating at all, even though everything in our neighborhood was fine. I think, in our situation, we made the smartest decision for our family. But what a lot of people don't understand is, everyone's situation is different. If we didn't have a dog and a baby, we could have easily dealt with going to a shelter. We could have stayed more easily with friends. We honestly would have preferred to stay in a safe, protected house with friends in the area, so that we could have more easily checked on our home after the storm. If the storm had been bad, who knows if we would have been able to get in touch with friends and neighbors to check on our home, or if Eric would have been able to fly back shortly after. The real threat is wind, not flooding, unless you are in a flood zone. We weren't, and neither were our friends who stayed in their homes. The area is very prepared for these situations, since they could happen multiple times every year. So, there is some perspective, if you are wondering why anyone would choose to stay. It's a tough decision to make.

On top of that, Eric and I were planning on staying in NJ for a month, from late September- late October. Which brings me to where I am now!

I decided to stay at my parents' house with Atlas, since we were going to be up here a few weeks after the hurricane anyway. We had three weddings for our best friends, and there is no way we were going to miss any of them. You know you have good family when you call them and say, "Hey! Our house is about to get demolished, so we are going to be invading your house, for two months, with our baby and giant direwolf... starting tomorrow!"

Needless to say, it has been difficult to be here. None of us were as prepared as we would have been with three extra weeks. There wasn't much room with Nym and her food in the car, and there wasn't time to think of anything but the essentials. On top of that, neither of our families had time to childproof their houses, so Atlas walked in to houses with ungated stairs, brick fireplaces, uncovered outlets, and small, sharp household objects within reach. We have been childproofing as we go, and Atlas hasn't gotten TOO injured. ;) My child who craves routine adapted shockingly well to being here. He has slept in the pack n play, gone down to one long nap a day, and only nurses in the morning and before bed now.

The worst thing has been being without Eric. Eric has spent most of his time in Florida for work, of course. That was always the plan. But we had to add on a LOT more time apart in the beginning of our stay, and this week he was asked to go back, when he had originally planned to work remotely from here. He works really hard and is good at his job, and he goes above and beyond. I am very grateful for and proud of him, but it has sucked for both of us. I have our parents here, which is a huge help, but I don't ask people to help a lot. I would rather just do things myself, especially since I am already infringing on everyone's lives just by being here. And they aren't his parents, so it's different than having Eric here. And Eric and Atlas miss each other so much.

The best thing, though, has been giving our parents and Atlas time with each other. He loves spending time with them. It makes me want to cry when I see how happy he is with them and then think of leaving.

So... that has been our life lately. We have two weddings down and one wedding left to go, and then HALLOWEEN! We were originally going to be back in Florida for it, but now we will be here. Eric moved his vacation to next week, since he had to go back this week. I am kind of ready to be back in my own home (our costumes will reflect that... hint hint), but I would be lying if I said I wasn't extremely pumped to spend Halloween up north again. Maybe next year we will go to Salem. :)

Hello, Irma.

Did I mention we evacuated on our three year anniversary? One of these years, we'll get to do something nice.

Driving through Jax

3am nursing session. Did not know at the time it would be one of our last middle of the night nursings.

Gooooooood morning, North Carolina gas station parking lot!

Gray skies to welcome us over the Delaware Memorial in to New Jersey. Typical.

Our first morning waking up together in my childhood bedroom

Beautiful day with family! Eric's dad, Eric and Nym, and Aunt Peg from across the street

My mom always does a nice job with the flowers and garden

Fun in Poppop's truck

Mummer's strut!

Outlet shopping to pass the time. It had been forever since he had fallen asleep on me, and I have no clue if it will ever happen again.

Eric's cousins with Atlas <3

Eagles game family time at Aunt Helen and Uncle Ken's cabin

Eric's cousins Emily and Angela came to visit

S'mores, pumpkin beer, and a firepit with friends to celebrate the news that our house survived the storm.

Yes, that is a jack o lantern ball...

Roe and Frankie are Atlas's new besties

This may seem like an ugly random photograph, but this was the first time I have ever gone through a drive through. EVER. It gives me extreme anxiety, but you do crazy things when you have a baby in the car, it's raining, and you need caffeine.

Sometimes the best toys are not actually toys.

Building a block tower

At the park I used to play in as a kid

First taste of pizza. He's obsessed!

FINALLY meeting THE Mrs. Speak!

Mommom is humming. He had never been so still for so long ever in his life.

Eagles game with friends

The highlight of his life: the fan aisle at Lowe's

Eric said the house was fine when he finally got home after the storm, minus the occasional lizard that found its way inside on our patio furniture...

Outlet shopping with Aunt Linny

He has really taken to watching Little Einstein's.

His first taste of water ice

Not too sure what to make of it

After over a month of sleeping through the night, he started the worst stretch of sleep issues he has EVER had. I tried to take in the cuddles instead of being upset that he was up literally ALL night long.

First Day of Fall with Arya and Sunny

Is it even Fall if you don't eat apple cider donuts and drink apple cider?...

... while looking at a pumpkin patch?! 
Showing off to Matt and Emily

Loving his new truck and car

Happy 5th Birthday, Baby Nym!

Naps in the sun with her new toy from Murph

Not a huge fan of using utensils

Silly boy likes to flop all over on the bed

Lazy afternoon

Fun day at the aquarium! 


The jellyfish were some of his favorites.

The shark tunnel was amazing.

He got a little flubby octopus as a souvenir. I got a mug with a jellyfish on it, so every time I drink coffee from it, I will remember our trip. :)

The Mad Hatter, clearly, at the play cafe



Playing with a wooden truck made by his great grandfather. It used to be Eric's.

With the maker himself! 
His favorite snack, apparently... shoes.

Snuggling with his pokeball pillow from Uncle Murph

Helen's wedding!

First night away from Atlas!




Happy to be back with my crazy boy

Happy birthday, Poppop! We had lunch at the Mexican place, where Atlas ate loads of guac.

Fun with Mommom and Poppop at the play cafe
At Eric's OLD old stomping grounds. Duffield's!

Once upon a time, I was spit on by a llama in that very spot...

Learning how to kick a soccer ball

Playing in the leaves

Running after a squirrel

Giving the utensil thing another go!

Eagles game? Check. Flyers shirt? Check. Miller Lite? Ew, but check. Relax, people. The can is empty. There is no way in hell I would give my kid Miller Lite. Maybe something from Civil Society instead... JK JK.

Loving his new toy from Great Grandmom Mazz

Morning fun at Barnes and Noble

The "big kid" playground at the park!

6am, and he finally fell asleep. Love the snuggles, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

Fun with Ellie!

His new favorite past time: Swiffer. I am going to take full advantage of this when I get home.

He definitely takes after me. My x-rays look very much like this, candy corn and all.

K and H came to play!

The stages of loving PB&J

Sleeping on the drive to Longwood Gardens. It was so clear you could see the Philly skyline from the Commodore Barry. Beautiful fall day!

So excited for our first day together at Longwood!

The Mum Festival

These big mums remind me of the flowers in Alice in Wonderland.

My favorite giant lillypads

Bonsai mums! This one's for you, Uncle Al! Ha.

The orchid room. My favorite. That guy? No clue who he is, but he was just standing there staring at me for a full minute, so I decided to snap my photo anyway.

I like to call these Penis Cacti. I take a picture of them every time I go and send it to Linny randomly throughout the year.

Atlas will be the 4th generation of DiGiuseppe to start a lifetime of memories at Longwood :)

He loved the fountains in the conservatory children's garden!

This is a doorway... for kids... that I can stand in completely upright.

Atlas got to see Aunt Lauren and Uncle Scott TWICE this trip home!

Morning fun on the bed

Thrilled to have his very own car in New Jersey

Sitting nice and calm with Mommom

Uh oh, he caught me being a paparazzi!

SO EXCITED TO SEE DADA after 20 days apart!

I don't always wear sequins and glitter, but when I do, it's for Eri's wedding!

Champagne with strawberries rimmed in rainbow sprinks! I wouldn't expect anything less.

Lots of sprinks and lots of sparkles!

Aunt Helen and Uncle Konrad, Aunt Nicole and Uncle Greg, and Aunt Katherine came to visit the day after the wedding! I thought Atlas was in love with Helen, but turns out he just likes her watch. ;) He had such a good time flirting and playing with everyone!

No captions are necessary for photobooth pictures.

This butterfly has been hanging around the garden. So pretty. Atlas loves it.

Going for a drive with Dada, Mommom, and Poppop

VERY EXCITED to see Dada this morning. Only one more day without him!

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