Those Sweet Moments

He has grown and changed so much, in such a short period of time, and while I absolutely love my crazy little monster, and am so proud of his loud, silly personality, I treasure these sweet moments so much.

Hello, friends. This blog has no real significance, or important message, other than to tell you a short story about something that happened to me tonight. This will be a sappy little mommy/baby story, so if you’re not into that, then feel free to click away. I won’t be upset, I promise!

Now, it may not seem like much to many of you, but tonight, my 16-month-old son let me read to him. Let me preface this by telling you that I read to him all the time, usually several times a day, but very rarely does he sit still, or pays any attention, during story time, and honestly, that’s perfectly fine. I just love reading to him. I’m usually just reading to a room full of toys, while my crazy toddler tries to empty his sippy cup into his wagon, or throws his Mega Bloks into the kitchen sink, etc. But tonight, after brushing his tiny teeth, I asked him if he wanted to read a book before bed. With a smile on his face, he ran to his bookshelf, and grabbed Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, his current favorite book, and climbed onto the couch.

I sat down and began reading, with him cuddled against my side, and was not that surprised when he jumped off the couch about 30 seconds into the story. However, I was surprised when he went back to his bookshelf, grabbed two more books (his 100 First Words book and Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo), put them on the couch next to me, grabbed his Froggy, and climbed back up, leaning into my lap. He sat perfectly still, engaged and smiling, while I read all three books to him. Twice. He didn’t run away, he didn’t try to take and throw the books, he just sat there.

You guys, I honestly nearly started crying. He has grown and changed so much, in such a short period of time, and while I absolutely love my crazy little monster, and am so proud of his loud, silly personality, I treasure these sweet moments so much. Him letting me read to him, and showing interest, and wanting to actually sit and snuggle with me, instead of destroying something in the living room, meant so much to me, and was exactly what I needed after this really hard week.

Sorry, I just wanted to share that.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Mom’s Visit | The Final Day

Liam was barefoot, and as I placed him down on the grass, I remembered that he has never walked barefoot on grass, or sand. It only took him a few minutes of funny walking to get used to the it, and enjoy it… but he definitely did not care for the feeling of sand between his toes.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, and Day 6 here.]

Hello, friends. Yesterday was my mom’s final day visiting with us, though her plane doesn’t actually leave Illinois for another 3 hours or so. It was a very mixed day. I felt really on edge, and anxious, from the time I woke up, to the moment we said our goodbyes. I tried so hard to make it a good day, but it felt like my mom and I were butting heads more often than not, and it created a lot of tension.

Kyle worked from 10-6 yesterday, so it was another day of just my mom, Liam, and I. Liam has been in quite the mood for the last couple days, including yesterday, which resulted in an early nap, which I was hoping to avoid doing, since we were going out to eat that night, and I didn’t want him being fussy. Ah, life with toddlers. Everything revolves around them.

My mom came over just after lunch, and we left in search of local garage sales, since there are signs littering the entire town. After over an hour of driving around, which was pretty quiet and uneventful, and not seeing anything of interest, we decided to drive to the mall so that Liam could play a bit before dinner. I stopped by Sears to see Kyle, but was told that he had just gone to lunch. I asked his co-worker if she could get him for me really quickly, as there wasn’t a single person in the store, and she was just standing at the register, but she told me she wasn’t allowed to (which is bullshit). Since I don’t have minutes on my phone, I couldn’t text him to tell him we were there, so we left, and hoped that he would be there when we came back through.

My mom bought me a late lunch at my favorite spot in the mall, and I shared a delicious, pretzel bread turkey sandwich with Liam, who already eaten lunch, but always insists on eating everything in sight. We also went into Maurice’s to scope out the huge clearance sale they were having. My mom tried to buy me every single article of clothing that I touched, not I kept telling her not to. She was not happy about that.

When we got to the play area, it was empty. I ran around with Liam for a while, but he was being naughty, and kept running out into the open mall, and I had to chase after him. There is a ramp and some stairs right outside of the play area, and he always runs toward them, which is frustrating and exhausting. My mom sat at the opposite end of the play area, taking videos and pictures the entire time. As we were going to leave, I asked her if I could see them to send some to myself, but she told me that she had deleted all of them, because none came out.

Well, okay then…

We left the play area, and my mom insisted on going into the mall bookstore to look at children’s books and puzzles for Liam. I saw so many books that I wanted to get for him, but I let my pride and my bad attitude take charge, and wouldn’t let my mom get any of them for him.

I don’t know why. I really don’t. I wanted them, he wanted them, and she wanted to buy them. I said no. What is wrong with me? Ugh.

I headed to the bathroom to change Liam, and my mom disappeared. When I came out, I was stopped by a young couple with a tiny baby, and we chatted a bit about babies and whatnot, before I went back to Sears. Luckily, Kyle was there this time, and he gave me the details on our dinner plans for the night. We were to meet his mom and step father at Applebee’s at 5:30, which was an hour from that point, and then he would be meeting us there at 6:00, after he got off work. I gave him a hug and kiss, and he got some cuddles from Liam, and I went back out to meet my mom and let her know what was happening.

Since we had an hour to kill, we decided to head to a local park that I had been to before, but had never visited the playground. It is a massive plot of land, with a cute lake, a bunch of walking trails, and a large playground, lined with sand, and surrounded by grass and trees. It is a beautiful park, and I wish we lived closer. Liam was barefoot, and as I placed him down on the grass, I remembered that he has never walked barefoot on grass, or sand. It only took him a few minutes of funny walking to get used to the it, and enjoy it… but he definitely did not care for the feeling of sand between his toes. It was funny.

There was another mom there, and she had two little ones with her, a toddler boy, and a tiny infant. Her son was about 2.5, and he watched us closely from the picnic area while Liam was on the swing. My mom sat herself beneath a tree, and watched us from a distance. She didn’t have much interest in playing until the end of our playground adventure. After nearly 15 minutes on the swing, we decided to explore the rest of the large playground, and the other little boy joined us! Rather than telling you about it, here are some pictures I took!

So that was fun!

We left the park around 5:20 and headed to meet Kyle’s mom and step father at Applebee’s. They were already there when we pulled up, and we sat in a large corner booth, and ordered our appetizers and entrees without Kyle, since he would be joining us a bit later. I ordered the Southwest Steak and Black Bean Soup, as well as the Crispy Cheddar Bacon Potatoes, for myself, and the kid’s Chicken Grillers and broccoli for Liam. It was all super delicious. I forget what Kyle’s meal was called, I think it was one of those “Build Your Own” things, but he got sweet potato fries, a steak, and some seriously amazing looking mac ‘n cheese.

It was a nice dinner. My mom and Candace politely went back and forth over who would pay the bill, as I expected, but they settled on splitting it evenly, which I also expected. We then gathered in the parking lot to put Liam’s car seat back into our Lincoln (it’s been in my mom’s rental all week), chat about some upcoming family events, and say our goodbyes.

There were hugs, and thank yous, and my mom cried.

And then it was over. She leaves tonight, and though her plane doesn’t leave for 3 hours still, and she has been sitting at the airport for 2 hours, she did not want to come by today. I’m okay with that. I had a nice week, and it was honestly good to see her, and for her to meet Liam, but I am completely drained. I don’t know when I will see her again, but I do know that I am happy to have things go back to normal around here. We definitely work better with a thousand, or more, miles between us.

I have a few other blogs I need to write, but I don’t know when that will happen. I need rest. I need to recharge.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 3

I picked out two shirts, two pairs of shorts, and a package of socks for Liam, and we found a cute sensory animal book for him as well. It has words I can read to him, as well as pictures of animals, and little patches of “fur” textures for him to touch. When you press on the textured spots, it makes the noise of that animal. I was excited, because I’ve been looking for a book just like that for him, and this was the first I had seen. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized that the whole back half of the book is a misleading block of fake pages, where the batteries and noise boxes are, and that it is actually only a few pages long. Very misleading, and definitely not worth the $13 it cost.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, and Day 2 here!]

Hello, friends. Despite yesterday being not-so-fantastic, today was pretty good! It was unbearably hot, and we had made zero plans for the day, but I knew I wanted to stay indoors as much as possible. I wanted a little bit of alone time with my son, just to bond and relax, so I told my mom that we could meet up later in the day, some time after Liam’s lunch and nap, and then maybe do some afternoon shopping. I made delicious grilled cheese sandwiches for Liam and I for lunch, which had provolone cheese, parsley, avocado, and tomato (his was deconstructed, since he still doesn’t have many teeth), and they were so delicious. I haven’t cooked, or really made anything at home, in days!

We ended up meeting up much later than planned, thanks to some technical difficulties on my mom’s end with Facebook. Even though she was on it all day, she never saw any notifications for the half a dozen messages I sent her telling her she could come over at that point. After over two hours of waiting for her, I messaged Kyle and asked him to text her (I still don’t have minutes), since I knew she would get that right away. Sure enough, she did, then messaged me back immediately, very upset that she had missed all my messages. I was thankful for the time I got to spend with Liam (as well as a fantastic nap that I snuck in before lunch), but happy to finally get out and do some shopping.

She picked us up, and told me all about her morning and afternoon exploring the town. She went down to the waterfront, somewhere I didn’t even know existed, and relaxed by the water, sipping her coffee. We talked about possible plans for tomorrow, and I pointed out a few possible dinner options for tonight. We got to Walmart, and did a couple laps around the store. I picked out two shirts, two pairs of shorts, and a package of socks for Liam, and we found a cute sensory animal book for him as well. It has words I can read to him, as well as pictures of animals, and little patches of “fur” textures for him to touch. When you press on the textured spots, it makes the noise of that animal. I was excited, because I’ve been looking for a book just like that for him, and this was the first I had seen. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized that the whole back half of the book is a misleading block of fake pages, where the batteries and noise boxes are, and that it is actually only a few pages long. Very misleading, and definitely not worth the $13 it cost. Oh well.

I didn’t see anything there that I liked, mostly because Walmart only has three options for women: Too tight junior clothes in neon colors, workout clothes, and… well, clothes that even my 50 year old mother thinks are too old for her. So I got nothing, which was fine with me, since I’m still not comfortable letting her spend money on me. She bought some cute things for Liam, so that seemed to satisfy her urge to spend.

After Walmart, we went to Culver’s for dinner, since she had never been, and talked about the past. She asked me if I still kept in touch with the handful of friends I had in high school, which I do, and told me that she bumps into them every now and then. She asked me questions about my ex, and his family, and about our breakup, which I honestly didn’t mind answering. It’s not like I really have friends I can talk to about it, even though it was over 3 years ago, it was nice to be able to bitch about him and his family for a minute, ya know?

After dinner, we headed to the mall to visit with Kyle before he got off work, and Liam happily ran barefoot through the empty store. We decided that since Kyle has tomorrow off, we would head to one of the neighboring towns, where there is a huge indoor swimming pool, and do some swimming. It is supposed to be stormy and yucky for the next few days, so this will be a nice alternative, assuming it isn’t really crowded. The hotel pool where my mom is staying is still being renovated, and we spent a lot of money on swimsuits, and don’t want them to go unused. I am excited. Liam hasn’t had a lot of exposure to water, aside from the tub, and when he dumps his water cup on himself, so I am hoping he has fun. As for me, I haven’t been swimming in nearly 7 years. And I looove swimming.

It was a good day. I got some alone time with my kiddo, as well as a nice nap. Kyle is home now, so we are going to cuddle up on the couch and continue watching The Adventures of Merlin on Netflix. I can’t remember if I recommended that yet, but seriously, you guys should check it out if you’re into magic and fantasy and lore and adventure. It is quite fantastic!

Hope you’re all having a fantastic holiday, thanks for reading!

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 2

Hello, friends. I am so exhausted. My mom has been in Illinois for three days now, though we’ve been visiting for two, and I am already emotionally drained. The first day was nice. She got to meet Liam, and the four of us took a road trip, and we all caught up and whatnot (you can read about our first day here)… but yesterday, it was just my mom, Liam, and I… and it didn’t go as well as our first day.

WARNING: This will be a looong blog. Grab a drink, adjust your butt, and go pee now!

To be fair, it was a decent day. It could have been worse. Kyle worked 10-6, so it was literally just my mom and I all day, and I got zero time to myself, or any alone time with my son (which has certainly thrown us for a loop), because she wants to come over early in the morning, and I just don’t have the heart to say no, or make her wait. She came over about an hour before Kyle left, and we all just sat around, chatting politely, and playing with Liam’s blocks. After Kyle left for work, my mom asked if we could go to the park that Liam and I always walk to. I was hesitant, because it was very hot and sunny, and close to Liam’s nap time, but I slathered Liam in sunscreen and we drove there anyway.

Since Liam and I usually walk to the park, we get out of the stroller at the park, and he doesn’t really know the rest of the park. We parked in the parking area, pretty far from the playground. Liam started running away from me, so I grabbed Liam’s hand and said, “The playground is over here, bud.”

My mom then turned to me and said, “Don’t drag him, just let him lead the way.” But her tone… her tone, guys. Like she was scolding me. I ignored it, but it definitely put a damper on my mood. I don’t know why.

Once we finally got to the playground, Liam ran to the swing immediately. As usual, the rest of the playground was in the shade, except for the swing, which was in direct sunlight. I don’t like it, and try to limit his swing time, but it is his favorite. After a few minutes standing by the swing, my mom started complaining about the sun, and saying we should let him go down the slide. I told her that he really only likes the swing, and would fuss if I tried to get him out so soon. She stopped and returned to the shade of the tree.

A few minutes later, she came back and started trying to take pictures, but was getting frustrated because they weren’t coming out right, or Liam wasn’t looking at her… because he was on the swing. Eventually she gave up and went over to the playground, where she proceeded to repeatedly slide down the largest kid’s slide, screaming, “Wheee! Wooo! Yaaay!” at the top of her lungs, and urging Liam, who was still perfectly content in his swing, to come and slide with her.

It was so embarrassing. It reminded me too much of all the embarrassing moments I had endured in high school with her.

A little while later, kiddo gestured for me to take him out of the swing, and my mom thrust her phone at me, and tried to wrestle him into her lap in the grass so she could get a few pictures. He was not too happy about that. He was trying to push her away, but she wouldn’t let him go, and he eventually caved, and we were able to get a few nice pictures. I have told her a dozen times that he will warm up to her eventually, definitely before she leaves, but this was only the second day. He still doesn’t want her holding him, and he especially did not want her restraining him to her lap when he was trying to play. There will be plenty of opportunities to get pictures that won’t involve making him angry.

All day long, she just seemed so impatient with everything. I just kept thinking, you’ve had a child, remember? Do you not remember how toddlers are? Especially with strangers?

Then we went back home. Liam had his lunch, and went down for a nap, and my mom proceeded to drive me absolutely nuts with every word she said.

Me: Mom, I’m making coffee, do you want some?
Mom: Only if it’s already made.
Me: Well, I’m making some now, do you want some?
Mom: Um, well, I don’t want you to go out of your way.
Me: … I’m up. I’m making some. Do. You. Want. Any?
Mom: I mean, I guess…

YOU LOVE COFFEE. YOU ARE AN ADDICT. I AM OFFERING YOU SOMETHING THAT I AM ALREADY MAKING. WHY ARE YOU BEING LIKE THAT?

Then, instead of sitting in awkward silence for a few hours, I decided to put something on for us to watch.

Me: Do you want to watch something? What kind of shows to you watch?
Mom: I don’t watch TV, I’m too busy.
Me: Okay… what about movies? Want to watch a movie? Netflix has a million.
Mom: Oh, what about American Idol?
Me: Oh, no, they don’t have American Idol…
Mom: Oh… I don’t know then.
Me: Okay. Um, movie then?
Mom: I don’t know.
Me: Well, what movies do you like?
Mom: I don’t know.

She was acting like a pouty toddler, and it was getting frustrating, so I just decided on one of my favorite comedy specials. Everyone loves comedians, right?

Five minutes into the comedian’s special…

Mom: *sigh* She isn’t funny. I don’t like her.
Me: Okay… what do you want to put on then?
Mom: Nothing. I don’t know. This is fine.
Me: Fine.
Mom: *long sigh*

Silence.
*In my head* Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Nothing has changed. She is the same as I remember 4 years ago, and 4 years before that. She thinks that everything she says or does is so damn bothersome, that she can’t have any opinions. Any time you say anything against her, even if it is in the politest way possible, she just shuts down, and she gets pouty, and then it becomes bothersome. She thinks you’re constantly angry with her, for no reason. She just can’t act… normal. It’s like we are constantly stuck as strangers, butting heads over everything and nothing, and going nowhere. We don’t even feel like family.

Anyway, we spent most of Liam’s nap in silence, except for when I tried to help my mom work her iPhone, which has been an absolute pain (I hate iPhones!) After about two hours of Liam’s napping, she started saying that she was getting impatient that he was still asleep. I already told her a dozen times that he naps for 2+ hours, but she just kept saying, “Wow, this is the longest nap ever…”

I eventually went in to wake him up, which he was not happy about, and we went to the mall to visit Kyle. She wanted to stop at Dunkin Donuts and get coffee, and something for Kyle and I. I told her I didn’t want anything, which set her off on a pissed off rant about how she brought hundreds of dollars that she wanted to spend on me, and it made her angry that I didn’t let her buy me everything, everywhere. So I told her I would get a smoothie, since that is really the only thing at DD that I like.

Guess what? They were out of yogurt. Yup. My mom was not happy with this at all, and said some snide comments about how, “that never happens at my Dunkin!”. I opted to not get anything, but she got a medium coffee… but then, she didn’t get cream or sugar in her coffee (she didn’t ask for any, she forgot, it was her fault), so went inside in a huff, and ended up getting a large coffee as an apology.

We got to the mall, just as Kyle was taking his lunch break, and the four of us headed to the play area, which was packed with kids, mostly over the age of 5. Almost all of them were too big (according to the height rules) to be in there, and most of them also had their shoes on, and were running around and being a bit reckless. Two moms actually left in a huff because their little ones kept getting bumped or knocked over by these bigger kids, whose parents were paying zero attention to them.

Liam was perfectly content standing by us, as he normally does when there is a lot going on, and watching the other kids. He loves it. He ventured out a few feet at a time, surveying the area, while Kyle told us about his day thus far. Then he had to go back to work, and we were back to three.

Then… this.

A family came in with two young girls, both about 6 years old, and a toddler boy. One of the little girls was in a motorized wheelchair, which she got out of once they were in the play area. My mom, who has zero filter on her mouth, or any idea what is and is not appropriate to say out loud, said the following:

Mom: I see a wheelchair, but there is no one in it.
Me: One of the little girls was in it.
Mom: One of those two in the dresses? They look fine to me.
Me: Just because she looks fine doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong, mom.
Mom: I’m just saying, don’t spend all your money on a wheelchair like that if there is nothing wrong with your kid.
Me: You don’t know what’s wrong with her. Stop it.
Mom: What? I’m just saying. She looks fine.

Then she proceeded sip her coffee in silence. I was annoyed, and thoroughly embarrassed, because while I don’t think the girl and her parents had heard her, I was certain that other people had.

I cheered on Liam while he climbed around the play area, and my mom continued to sit in silence, watching everyone but her grandson.

The family with the girl in the wheelchair got their stuff together to leave, but as she were leaving, the young girl accidentally bumped another young boy with her chair. He was fine, and didn’t even cry, but her and her parents were very apologetic, even as the boy’s dad comforted them and told them it was perfectly fine. They were all smiles. Everything was fine.

Well, for them. My mom was upset about the whole thing, of course.

Mom: That wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t have their daughter in that unnecessary chair.
Me: Stop.
Mom: What?
Me: Just stop. That’s a very ignorant thing to say. It’s none of our business.
Mom: Fine.

Then we sat in silence, until I picked up our stuff, thoroughly frustrated, and proceeded towards Sears to say goodbye to Kyle. On our trek to the other end of the mall, we passed by several stores again, and she tried to force me to let her buy me stuff, when I had already told her when we passed by the stores the first time that they do not carry my sizes. She was not pleased.

I swear, I’ve had to repeat everything that I’ve said to her at least three times, and answer every question twice. I don’t know if she just isn’t paying any attention to what I’m saying, or she is forgetting it all immediately. Either way, it keeps making her angry with herself, which puts her in a worse mood.

We went to Subway for dinner, the first thing she agreed to eat all day, which was uneventful enough, but then we ended up going back to the mall afterwards, because my mom lectured me again on wanting to spend all her money on me. I tried to look for a pair of decent sneakers that didn’t cost a fortune, since I’ve had mine for years and they are totally worn out, but didn’t have much luck, which only seemed to aggravate her further. It feels like she has been upset with me for no reason on this entire visit thus far. We left empty handed.

She didn’t stay long after dropping Liam and I off back at the apartment, and I am trying to limit how much time we spend together today, because honestly, I think I need a break. I need some space. I politely told her that we could meet up later in the afternoon, after Liam’s nap, because I had some things to take care of. I haven’t cleaned anything in my apartment, or spent any alone time with my son, in days. I just want to sleep, and snuggle, and relax, and breathe.

Hopefully today is better… we’ll see.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Days 0-1

Day 0:
Hello, friends. I had mentioned in a previous post that my mom was coming to visit me, and meet her grandson, for the first time ever. She was due to arrive in Illinois around 4:00 pm yesterday, and should have arrived to her hotel around 7:00 pm. We decided that she would not come for a late night visit, as Liam would already be in bed, and she would probably be tired anyway. The morning of her departure, I remembered that I hadn’t given her Kyle’s new number (my phone has been out of minutes for ages), and messaged her around 6:00 in the morning, well before she left for the airport. Unfortunately, my mom did not check her computer before she left, and did not know that she could check Facebook or her email on her new iPhone, and this created a few problems.

We waited around for a call or a text, and started getting worried once 8:30 pm rolled around, and we hadn’t heard anything. She hadn’t seen my FB messages, and I was worried she hadn’t seen my emails either. At 9:00 pm, I remembered that I could check her flight online, and discovered that she had been delayed in Detroit for 3 hours, and hadn’t even landed in Illinois until 8:07, much later than scheduled. She wouldn’t even be getting to her hotel until after 10:00. We waited some more, but never got a call. I assumed she just went to sleep. We watched several episodes of The Adventures of Merlin, which we just started watching Netflix, and then went to bed.

Day 1:
We woke up this morning and realized that we still hadn’t heard from my mom. Kyle decided to re-read the email that she had sent me last month, and discovered that she had actually given me her phone number, which I didn’t think I had. Kyle texted her, and we figured out our situation, and then we showered and got ready for her visit.

Her hotel is only a few minutes from us, so her drive was short, and then she was here. Kyle and I were nervous. Kyle had never met, or talked to, my mom, and didn’t know much about her. I hadn’t seen her in over 4 years, and our last meeting wasn’t the greatest. It went surprisingly well.

We greeted her, we exchanged hugs, and Liam cried immediately when she sat near him, which we expected. I gave her the birthday drawing that Liam had made her, as well as the card and bracelet that I had gotten her, and we took some pictures together. We decided to play with his Mega Bloks on the floor, and within minutes, he was building towers with his grandma. He warmed up to her quicker than most. We had some coffee, played some more, and decided that we should do something, so we went on a looong drive to the Fox Valley Mall, about an hour and 20 minutes away. Liam sat in the back with my mom, which made me nervous, because I thought he would get upset, but he was surprisingly comfortable, and even played with her for a while, before falling asleep. We stopped to eat lunch at Golden Corral, since my mom had never been, then continued to the mall.

We love walking around malls, especially when they are enormous. And this mall is enormous. Three stories, and massive. We forgot Liam’s stroller, since we were taking my mom’s rental, and it took us forever to find the rentable strollers. Once we did find them, it was smooth sailing, and Liam was much more behaved. We went into several stores, like Lane Bryant, Torrid, a gaming store, and a few others, and my mom tried to coerce us into letting her buy us everything we passed. We politely declined several times, and she finally stopped, but I know it will come up several times over the next few days.

After three hours walking around the mall, we left for home. The ride was uneventful, and we talked about Kyle’s job, my mom and her boyfriend’s plans to build a new house, and the future and potential moves for us. It was pleasant. We got back to our area, and stopped to get some dinner at Steak ‘n Shake, another first for my mom. Afterwards, we went to Target for a few things, and I got to see my good friends Aubrey and Lindsey, who were both working that night. I introduced them to my mom, and they got to see Liam, who was happy to see them as well, and proceeded to be an absolute little flirty ham. It was SO cute. Then we said our goodbyes, as it was almost bedtime for the kiddo, and came home.

My mom said some goodbyes, and we told her how to get to her email and Facebook on her iPhone, so that she could keep in touch better, and upload the pictures that she took today. My mom has been in the state for a day and a half, and I thought it would be terrible… but it has been surprisingly nice. Her questions and energy can be exhausting, especially when they are deeply personal, and we have been estranged for a while… but it was okay. She will be here until next Saturday, and I won’t always have Kyle with me for morale support, but I am hoping that it continues to go well.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Dream Journal 5/27/15 | Baby

Kyle and I were walking in a large department store, and several women kept stopping me and asking me when I was due. I got embarrassed and angry, because I wasn’t pregnant, but said nothing to them. After the 10th woman asked me, I turned to Kyle and asked him if I looked pregnant, and he looked at my stomach, hesitated, and told me that I looked very pregnant. I looked down, and sure enough, I looked 9 months pregnant, ready to pop.

Sure enough, as soon as we got home, my water broke, and we rushed to the hospital in a panic, because we were completely unprepared for a second baby, and hadn’t even known I was pregnant.

My delivery only took minutes, and then the nurse handed a very large baby boy to me. He was huge. She informed me that he was 18 pounds and 6 ounces. I was speechless. Everything was foggy, and the nurse brought in a birth certificate, and told me I had to write his name down on it. Kyle had stepped out of the room, and despite the fact that we already had our names picked out for our potential future kids, I wrote “Joseph James” on the birth certificate… which is not the name we agreed on. Then, I fell asleep.

When I woke up, Kyle was waving the birth certificate in my face, asking why I wrote that name down. I didn’t know. I asked the nurse if I could change it, since that wasn’t the name we wanted, but she said it was too late, and told us to pack our bags, because they needed the room. I protested, as I had literally given birth a few hours prior, but she continued to rush us, and then pushed us out the door. I cried the whole drive home, completely overwhelmed, and not sure what we were going to do. We only had one crib, and absolute not clothes for a newborn, even though he was very large.

When we got back to the apartment, we sent the babysitter home, and I crawled into bed with my toddler and my newborn, and just cried.

And cried.

And then I woke up.

5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!)

Hello, friends. I’ve encountered many types of animals in my life, in both positive atmospheres, and negative. I’ve had experiences with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, horses, pigs, chickens… you name it. I’ve lived in the city, and fed feral cats. I’ve lived in the country, and helped board horses on my ex’s family farm. I’ve owned cats. Today, I want to share with you 5 stories about some of the animals that have graced me with their magnificent presence. I will only be sharing positive stories today (well, some a bit sad). I hope you enjoy a look at some of my old, fuzzy friends in 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!).

1. Snoop
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Snoop was the first dog I ever owned, though he wasn’t technically mine. Snoop was a purebred, English dalmatian (he even had royalty papers!), and he was my mom’s boyfriend’s. When my mom and her boyfriend started dating, I was just a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. We moved in with her boyfriend and his son, who was the same age as me, shortly after they started dating. I had only had cats as pets up to that point in my short life, though my mom’s old roommate’s kids had a turtle and some hamsters, who met… not-so-great ends, and I was really excited to have a dog. Snoop was a big dog, but I wasn’t afraid of him. He was a lovable lump, and wasn’t very active.

When we moved in, Snoop was 4 years old, just a year or so younger than I was. I loved him immediately. I have so many fond memories of trying to take Snoop for walks down the country roads we lived on, with him dragging me along like an inconvenient weight behind him. My mom’s boyfriend and his son didn’t play much with Snoop, or take him for walks, but I did. I loved him. I was even the one who helped my mom remove his ticks, and helped take care of him when he got mange one year. Snoop loved me more than anyone else, and would always try to climb into my lap while I was on the couch, despite his large size.

I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was alive. I had 11 years with Snoop. In 2006, when I was 16 years old, my mom was backing out of the driveway in her Jeep, when she accidentally ran him over. Everything slowed down, and chaos ensued. That was the first time I ever saw my mom’s boyfriend cry. Snoop was rushed to the vet, where they checked him out extensively, but deemed him to be “fine“. Three days later, Snoop died in his sleep. My mom woke us up in the middle of the night, tears in her eyes, and told us. I didn’t go to school the next day. I cried for weeks. Even as I type this, I am crying. This was the last picture I ever took of Snoop, taken a few months before his death. He is buried in my backyard back home, tombstone and all, and my mom has a memorial shrine with his picture and collar set up in our living room. He will always have a special place in my heart.

2. Napkin
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Napkin (who my mom later renamed “Hunter”), was my pet from 2005-2008, until I left Maine, though he lived until 2013 with my mom. Before Napkin, the only cats I had owned were from my toddlerhood, and I did not remember them at all, so I consider him to be my first cat. We rescued Napkin from a household that had a pet hoarding problem, after many of his brothers and sisters had run away, or had died. My mom brought him home to me late at night, and he was so terrified, that he jumped from her arms, and hid behind our computer desk in the living room for almost 24 hours. He eventually come out, with a little persuading using a can of tuna, and became my best little buddy. He received his silly moniker after I asked my best friend at the time to help me pick a name. I told him the first thing he came up with, I’d keep. He said Napkin, and I loved it. He was the cutest little fluff ball, and he would sit on my desk all day. Snoop, who was still alive at the time, had never been around cats, and we were afraid how he would react to such a tiny creature, but he loved him. He covered him with slobbery kisses, and tolerated his rough, kitten play. When Snoop passed away later that year, Napkin was noticeably distressed.

Napkin was an indoor/outdoor cat, and often brought us home “presents”. He brought a dead, baby mole into the living room once, and I cried for the whole night. I buried the baby mole in the backyard the next day, underneath my tree house. I left Maine in 2008, after graduation, and that was the last time I saw Napkin. In 2013, my mom emailed me to tell me that Napkin had been missing for a week, and she was worried, because he always came home. Two days later, she found his body on the side of the road. I was heartbroken.

This is the last picture I ever took with him, in the summer of 2008 (yes, I know this technically makes 6 pictures in this post, sue me):

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He did love me, I swear!

3. Link299274_2076525152223_1240033652_n

You all know about my baby girl, Jade, who I unfortunately had to re-home after 6 years of companionship… but I don’t know if I’ve ever talked much about this little guy. This is Link. In 2011, I was living in a sketchy neighborhood by East St. Louis, where feral cats roamed free, and everyone and their mother from the apartment complexes fed them. I fell in love with a sweet little tiger cat, who had been coming to my door for months. I eventually noticed her large belly, when she was just under a year old (I know her age, because I fed her mother as well, and remember her giving birth), and watched her closely throughout her pregnancy. One day, I came home to find the small cat waiting by my door, no longer pregnant, and meowing loudly. I followed her to the other end of our deck, where she disappeared beneath my neighbor’s grill cover. When I lifted the cover, I found the tiniest kitten I had ever seen, completely white, except for three small, black dots on his head. I left the kitten alone, but kept an eye out. When mama cat did not come back for two days, fearing for the kitten’s safety, I took him in. Mama cat eventually came back, and still came to my door for food, but never seemed bothered by her lone, missing kitten.

I bottle fed this kitten every few hours with special kitten formula, and reached out to a vet about his flea infestation. She advised I give him a bath in Dawn dish soap, which did the trick. It was scary, raising such a tiny creature, but I was between jobs at the time, and had all the time in the world to care for him. Once I knew that we were out of the woods, I decided to name my new friend. I decided to name him Link, because the three dots on his head reminded me of the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. Everyone loved the name.

Despite terrorizing my grumpy, older cat, Jade, the two eventually became friends, and spent a lot of time cuddling and playing. In 2012, we moved 4 hours north, to my ex’s family farm, where we almost lost Link, after my ex’s brother shut his leg in a door, breaking the bone on the growth plate. Link was still growing, and the surgery and medication would have cost us over $1200 to fix him. We were devastated. Luckily, family helped us with the finances, and we were able to get him his surgery. He spent 6 weeks confined to a large cage, unable to run or jump, which was very hard for him, as he was born feral, and had loads of energy. He also had to wear a cone, which he hated. In the middle of his recovery, we were kicked out of our house by my ex’s family, who hated me, and were forced to move to a new town with our injured cat. He made it through just fine, however, and recovered very well. He was back to his usual self a few months later. Unfortunately, when my ex and I broke up in 2013, he kept Link, and I kept Jade. I don’t know what ever became of him after I left.

4. Zelda329342_2104142522640_434875432_o

As I mentioned before, I lived on a farm with my ex for a little while, watching his family’s farm while his older brother ran off to Texas to chase a girl. A week or so after we moved in, my ex’s sister showed up with a tiny kitten. She said someone had left him in in a taped up cardboard box front of the restaurant that she worked at. We already had a handful of outdoor barn cats, as well as Link and Jade, plus my ex’s mother’s elderly dog, and two horses… but we decided to take him in. I named him Zelda, despite later finding out that it was a boy. He was skin and bones, and had a loud, wailing meow. He ate non-stop for the first few days, before he began to mellow down and socialize. He was an absolute sweetheart, and I was fairly certain that he was older than he looked, despite his stunted growth. He got along fantastically with both of our other cats, and was the only cat that wasn’t afraid of the elderly Cocker spaniel in our care. Our biggest issue with this little baby was his refusal to use the litter box, no matter how clean it was. He would poop and pee right outside it, meaning I had several messes a day to clean up. He was also very food aggressive, and would bully the other cats, who were double and triple his size, when it came to feeding. He would growl and make bizarre noises, acting as though he was starving at each meal. It was strange. He was still too little, and it was far too cold, for him to live in the barn with the other cats, so we kept him inside for the remainder of our stay there.

After we left the farm and moved into our new apartment, that behavior continued, and worsened. Despite being a cuddly, sweet, love bug, he would attack you viciously to get your food, and began getting violent when the other cats would try to eat. We also now lived in a carpeted apartment, versus the hardwood covered farm house, and he began peeing and pooping on the carpets, and even our furniture. He eventually started spraying once he became of age, and our apartment was starting to stink. Nothing we did remedied the behavior, and I debated re-homing him, or bringing him back to the farm to live with the other feral cats. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to. One night, after picking me up from work, my ex pulled over and said to me carefully, “Don’t get upset.” I immediately knew what was coming. He then told me that he had taken the cat back to the farm, and had put him down. I was devastated. Link and Zelda were best buddies, and I knew he would be upset about his sudden disappearance as well. Despite his bad behaviors, I loved that kitten, and he was absolutely enamored with me. It broke my heart, and I was both devastated, and furious. I wasn’t all that surprised, because that’s just how he, and his family of cowboys were. If an animal was sick or broken, it got put down. Period. Luckily, those people are no longer in my life.

5. Chelsea10399152_1093156928632_3894545_n

One of my favorite past times has always been visiting various pet stores, and spending hours among the animals. I especially love smaller pet shops, verses large, corporate stores, because they have more unique animals, many of them loose in the store, which I find so cool. Shortly after moving to central Illinois, I stumbled across a family owned, exotic pet store, which specialized in rescued animals, and I visited it frequently. They had snakes, birds, a giant tortoise, and tons of lizards and fish… and Chelsea. Chelsea was a cockatoo, and was one of three birds that was allowed to be free in the store. Chelsea said a handful of phrases, and was very friendly. I had never held a bird before, let alone a large bird like Chelsea, so when the owner told me she was affectionate, and asked me if I wanted to hold her, I was hesitant. Luckily, I got over my fears, and held the beautiful, white bird. She nuzzled my face and hair, and repeated, “I love you” and “Hi Chelsea” over and over. She also had a loud, happy shriek. It was amazing. I never thought of birds as being affectionate, but Chelsea showed me just how wrong I was.

I love animals. I’ve always had animals around me for as long as I can remember. Ever since my son was born, we’ve been without a pet (due to our lease), and we hope to get more animals when we get our own home. I hope you enjoyed reading this and learning a little bit about the fur babies from my past.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

And as a bonus… here are some old pictures of my fur babies, Jade, Link, and Zelda, when I had them all together. I get emotional looking at the picture of the three of them.

Dream Journal 4/18/16 | Medieval

Liam and I were visiting family up in Maine, and we were staying at my mom’s boyfriend’s mother’s house. Liam and I were staying in her split level house, while everyone else was staying in the obscene large mansion that she had casually built onto her old split level. I was sitting in the dining room, Liam on my lap, talking to a few family members, when I started feeling tired, and curled up on the floor with Liam. Everyone kept on talking, and I fell asleep.

I opened my eyes and it was morning. I could hear whispering, and turned to see my mom’s boyfriend’s son, and his girlfriend, staring at me from the hallway. I was still lying on the kitchen floor. They were wearing nothing but towels, and they hurried past me, through the kitchen, and out the door, without a word. I stood up, and suddenly started to panic, because Liam was not with me. I ran around the house calling his name, but he wasn’t there. I entered the mansion part of the house through a massive, iron gate on the other side of the living room, and tried to find someone to help me look for him. Several family members saw me running from room to room, but none of them offered to help, and just ignored me.

I found my mom, and her boyfriend’s mother, sitting at a long dining table in a great hall, and asked them if they had seen him. My mom told me that the only available bed was in the attic, so they locked him up there. I started crying and ran to find the attic. Upon reaching the room, I found it empty, and I screamed dramatically. I opened a door on the other side of the room, and was suddenly on a rocky beach. A few yards away sat Liam, kicking his feet in the shallow, ocean water. I ran and scooped him up, squeezing him against me, sobbing, while he playfully tried to push me away.

I went back inside, and found all of the family members sitting at the large, dining table now. I started shouting about how awful, and irresponsible it was for them to leave him alone in the attic, especially when there was (freaky magical) access to the beach. They all just stared at me, and my mom’s boyfriend’s mother laughed and told me to stop being so overprotective. I was livid. I put Liam down and grabbed a chair, chucking it forcefully at her head. It crashed against the table, and everyone started screaming and running away.

I grabbed one of the chair legs, stuck the end into the nearby fireplace, and threw the flaming torch into the scattering crowd. One of the family members called me a monster, and she threw a mug at me, but it missed and shattered on the ground. Liam started crying, and I picked him up, calmly walking out of the large room, while everyone kept shouting fearfully.

We walked back to the split level part of the house, and walked out the door. I checked each of the dozen cars parked in the driveway for an unlocked door, and ended up stealing a black sports car. I drove the car to a nearby park, we got out, and started heading toward a nearby swing set.

And then I woke up.

Trolls, Stress Cleaning, and Milk Showers… Oh My!

Hello, friends! I know my blog has been quite bare as of late, but I promise that I will be back soon! After exactly 4 weeks of nonstop sleep regression and separation anxiety, resulting in what seemed like endless rocking in our very uncomfortable rocking chair, we are now on day three of kiddo getting himself to sleep without needing to be rocked, and sleeping through the night! I have slept more in the last three days than I have in over a month… at least, that’s how it feels.

I don’t have anything specific to talk about, and I can’t focus enough to do today’s prompt, so I thought I would just tell you a little bit about the crazy day that I’ve had.

My day started off with being fortunate enough to be able to sleep in until 7:30, the latest I have been able to sleep in since Liam got sick. Kyle decided to wake up with us, and he offered to make breakfast for the first time in… well, ever. So we had a yummy family breakfast of French toast, which was nice. I then spent the rest of the morning trying to convince Kyle to help me clean around the house, and that went absolutely nowhere, so on top of doing a huge load of dishes, I finally got around to taking all of Liam’s 12 month clothes out of his dresser, which haven’t fit him in months, and putting all of his 24 month clothes in with his 18 month stuff. I also cleaned his room, and organized his shelves, with his “help“, of course. It is absolutely insane to think that my sweet, little 14.5 month old boy is already wearing 24 month clothes. WHAT. HOW?!

I also spent much of today trying to get my son to keep his clothes on, as he has been stripping himself completely naked every chance he gets lately. I’m not joking. While I was doing the dishes, and Kyle wasn’t watching him, Liam walked up behind me, got naked, and proceeded to hug my legs from behind. I looked down and all I saw was a cute, naked baby! I didn’t get to finish the dishes, because Liam was being a clingy butt, but  he was ready for his nap, which he went down for without a fight. Once he woke up, I decided to walk to the playground with him after his lunch so he could burn off some oh his crazy, toddler energy. We were completely alone in the park, which made me feel really tired for some reason. It started getting chilly, so after nearly an hour pushing him on the swing (his absolute favorite, he will not let me take him out until he is absolutely ready), and several (almost) mouthfuls of rocks, grass, dirt, and twigs, we walked back home, stopping at Casey’s for a cheese stick snack for Liam, and a huge slice of veggie pizza for me.

After we got home, Liam played for a bit on his own, and I engaged in a war of words with several trolls on a parenting article about attachment parenting, and the CIO method, and other things. I really hate when I post a logical, thought out comment, and people just attack the fuck out of it, and pull wild assumptions out of their ass about me. So fucking annoying. So unnecessary.

Then, it was time for dinner! I put Liam in his seat so he could eat, went to the bathroom for no more than two minutes, and returned to find that he had given himself a shower with his milk. He doesn’t use a sippy cup anymore, he uses a regular cup with a lid and straw. Lately, he has been doing this thing where he takes his straw out, tips his cup upside down, and watches the liquid pour out. Today, he decided to do it on his head. Fun. I then wiped up the floor, his chair, and the table, all while he tugged at my hair, and gave him an early, emergency bath. I decided to stress cleaned my bathroom while he splashed around happily, so it worked out for both of us. My bathroom is now spotless!

Oh, why have I been stress cleaning you ask? Well, let me tell you. My mom messaged me a few days ago, and decided to inform me that, without speaking to me about it first, she went ahead and booked a plane ticket, car, and hotel to come and visit us for an entire week at the end of May. All non-refundable, of course.

So, I’ve been losing my mind.

My mom and I are not close. At all. Never have been. In fact, she is the reason I moved halfway across the country. After not seeing her for a few years, I decided to surprise her for her birthday, and flew back home to see her. I was supposed to spend three days at her house, and one day at my dad’s…. well, that isn’t what happened. My mother is immature, passive aggressive, and just… I honestly don’t know. After one day of dealing with her, I couldn’t take it anymore. I spent the night at her house, but ended up spending the rest of the time at my dad’s. She didn’t seem to care.

That was four years ago. Now, I have a child, her first grandchild, and I can certainly understand why she would want to come and see him, but I am furious that she did not even run it by me first. She has been talking about coming out here for a whole year, but always cancels or flakes at the last minute, and spends her vacation time doing something else. Whatever. Not only did she spring this on me out of nowhere, but she ignored me telling her several times in the past that a week is way too long. WAY. TOO. LONG. For one, we live in the middle of nowhere. There is NOTHING to do here. At all. Nothing. Second, I am broke. Broke as shit, and I do not want her spending a fortune on me. Third, Liam doesn’t know her. He has never met her. He still doesn’t even want to be around the people he DOES know, but she doesn’t get that, and seems to think that she will get to spend all of her time playing with him joyfully. Nope. Not going to happen. Besides, he goes to bed at 7:00… what the hell are we supposed to do after?

So not only ALL of that, but she also tried to guilt me into uprooting my family, and spending an entire week with her in some lodge. Are you joking? No. Absolutely not. She got so offended when I tried to tell her that, not only can we absolutely not afford that, but Kyle is still looking for a job, and we have NO idea what will even be happening then.

Speaking of Kyle and work… still no luck on the job front. He had a Skype interview with AT&T, which went really well, but they ended up not choosing him for another interview. That was the only job, out of dozens, that even gave him a call back, so we are starting to stress. A lot. We have enough in savings to cover bills for this month, and for May, but nothing else. He finally has been getting house at his other job, but they have been cutting hours so badly for everyone, and it is so unpredictable. I have a lot of baby stuff that I can sell, but that takes time. I’m keeping my hopes up, but we’ve been here before, and it took months and months…

So there you go! That’s what’s been going on with me lately. Since kiddo fell asleep right away, I’m off to stress clean my living room.

Thanks for reading!

Jan