Dream Journal 6/2/18 | An Ariana Christmas

I was in a large, fancy dining room, sitting across the table from Ariana Grande, circa her red-headed days on Victorious. Continue reading “Dream Journal 6/2/18 | An Ariana Christmas”

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Sorry for the Silence

So we’re all stuck in this sinking boat of misery.

Hello, friends. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write a post (just over two months), and a lot has happened. Most of the things that have happened aren’t really worth mentioning, but there are a few things that I’d like to share with you.

15995039_10208147301339761_8093609280292525493_oFirstly, and most important in my eyes, yesterday was my son’s second birthday. He’s two. I have a two year old. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have been a mother for two years is just… insane. I was babysitting all day, so we really couldn’t celebrate, and my entire household has been battling the cold from hell for a few weeks, so we were all more than happy to lay low. We had a cookie cake, took some pictures, and enjoyed some family time at the end of the day. Liam had an actual party a little over a week ago, when we went up to visit Kyle’s grandmother, and the whole rest of his family, for the big, annual family Christmas party. We bought Liam a really nice, super delicious cake, and he got to open a massive pile of Christmas AND birthday presents. He’s gotten so many amazing gifts this season, I might have to start doing some more toy reviews. There’s plenty to report on!

Luckily, we got all of our holiday and birthday shopping done early this year, because as you all know, whenever things are going too well for us, something goes wrong. Now, I went off on Facebook and Twitter recently, ranting about the medical lab where Kyle had his blood tests done last year when he was starting his new job. He had to be screened for diabetes, which we then discovered he had. Well, what I may not have mentioned, is that the clinic ordered a number of other tests, which we did not ask for, and in the end, we were charged roughly $1,000 from the lab, and nearly $500 from the clinic. For BLOOD TESTS. Gotta love America…

So, since Kyle is unable to afford insurance through his employer (oh, he no longer works two jobs, just the one driving now), and doesn’t qualify for state aid, it all had to come out of pocket. His mom agreed to help us with the clinic bill, since she was supposed to put Kyle back on her insurance and forgot about it, but the rest was on us. We were making the minimum payments for a while, but since Kyle’s job pays pretty well, he decided to pay half of it all at once on the site. Well, he screwed up and accidentally hit “Pay In Full”, and over $800 was taken from our bank account… and we didn’t have that much in there.

We got slammed with an overdraft, and a fee to go with it. Of course, he didn’t tell me this was his mistake until after I went off online, blaming the company, but when we reached out to see if we could maybe get half of the money back, they wouldn’t work with us. Not even a little. Luckily, I got paid enough the next day to pull our account back from the negatives, but we’ve been riding on $32 in the bank for over a week. Thank goodness for Christmas cash and gas card gifts. Tomorrow, Kyle gets paid, and then I get a few dollars on Friday from babysitting, and we will be all set again. But it sure threw us for a loop.

And speaking of babysitting… that’s all over.

It’s been rough. I had to put my Twitter as protected, because I found out that someone has been stalking my tweets, taking screenshots, and sending them to people who don’t follow me there, which has caused me some drama. Ridiculous, high school drama. I have a good feeling I know who it might be… though I’d like to think it isn’t one of my friends who follows me. I don’t trust anyone anymore.

I feel empty. More alone than ever. I feel like there’s been too much to deal with, but I haven’t been letting myself deal with any of it, because there was always something that needed to be done. Something more important than me, and my feelings. I didn’t let myself feel, or deal, or vent. Blah.

I also recently became an aunt again, to a little girl whose name I don’t even know, and who I’ll probably never meet, we lost my grandmother’s husband, Richard, to cancer right before Christmas, and I gained 45 pounds in 2016.

Oh, and Trump. That happened. So we’re all stuck in this sinking boat of misery.

Thanks for reading, friends. I should have more time to do writing prompts, reviews, etc… I missed writing. Talk soon.

Jan

Dream Journal 12/29/15

(I’ve been meaning to write out several entries from my dream journal, and finally have time to do it. Here is the first.)

Present day.

I am sitting in a large, beautiful living room with my two sister-in-laws, Kristen and Kelsie. I don’t know whose house we are in, but it is massive, and beautifully decorated. There is a large television mounted on the wall, complete with several, large speakers splayed around it. We are all sprawled out on a cream colored sectional couch, watching some kind of romantic comedy that I’m fairly certain does now exist. We are drinking red wine from colorfully painted wine glasses.

An actor comes on the screen, and Kelsie exclaims, “I loved him in Jurassic World, he is so hot!” Kristen agrees with her.

I ask them who he played in the movie, because I don’t recognize his face. They inform me, in unison, that it is Chris Pratt, and I laugh. The actor on the screen is at least 50 years old, and looks nothing like Chris Pratt. I know makeup can do wonders, but there is no way that it is him.

I tell them this, and they get upset, insisting profusely that is it definitely Chris Pratt. I frown, realizing that they are not joking. I pull up imdb.com on my phone and type in the name of the movie, which I can’t recall, other than the word “Indigo“. The name of the actor is Christopher Plant. Not Pratt. I show my phone to them, and Kelsie pushes it away, insisting that the site it wrong.

I frown, and look back up at the screen. The actor has now aged at least 15 years, and is sporting much thinner, grayer hair, and liver spots on his head and hands. I point enthusiastically at the screen, desperately trying to show them that this actor is not Chris Pratt. They start to get upset, and Kristen takes out her phone to check for herself.

Kelsie pauses the movie, and opens a browser screen on the TV (which is apparently a futuristic smart TV), and scrolls through the cast list for the movie. They both see that the actor’s name is Christoper Plant, and get even angrier, arguing that the sites all have him listed wrong.

Kelsie plays the movie, and the male actor has now aged another 10 years. His hair is white and wiry, and he has deep wrinkles in his face. One of his eyes is milky white.

Kristen says something along the lines of, “You can not tell me that he doesn’t look like Chris Pratt!” Kelsie nods. I just stare at them with my mouth open, completely frustrated.

Kristen shakes her head and gets up to check whatever is cooking in the oven, and Kelsie mumbles grumpily under her breath about me being ignorant. I am upset, and grab my whine, retreating to the balcony off of the large living room.

I can see snow on the ground and trees, but it doesn’t seem cold. I am wearing just a red and white, striped t-shirt and black yoga pants, and don’t seem to be bothered. The house in on a large hill or mountain, overlooking the city, which is lit up like a Christmas tree, with lights twinkling for miles in various colors. It is beautiful.

I take a large gulp of my wine, finishing the glass, and return to the living room, where Kristen and Kelsie have turned off the movie, and are now decorating a very large, white tree, which wasn’t there when I walked outside. I offer to help them, and they ignore me, only acknowledging that I spoke with sideways glances. I shrug, sit down on the sectional, and begin scrolling through the guide to find something to watch. I can hear them whispering behind me incoherently, and I start laughing.

Kelsie drops a large, green ornament on the ground, shattering it, just as the phone starts ringing in the kitchen. She swears loudly, and stares at me, as if blaming me. I look away to Kristen, who is giving me the same stare. I get up to answer the phone.

And then I woke up.

Holiday Toy Haul Ratings (6-36m): Part 2

Hello, friends! Happy 2016! I hope you all had a safe and fantastic holiday. I won’t talk too much about our New Year’s here, since this is another toy rating blog, but we did have a good time doing things with family, and Liam got tons of new clothes, books, and toys, which I will tell you all about in upcoming post, hopefully sometime soon. But here we go with five more toys!

Just like last time, I will post the name and link for each toy, as well as an image. Beneath these, I will be using a 4-star system, rating each toy on their:
Attractiveness: Colors, shapes, detail, and how well it captured and kept my son’s attention.
Interactivity: Age settings, movement, how much can he do with it, etc.
Noise: (If applicable) Music, sounds, volume control, sound quality.
Quality: Flimsy plastic, not baby-proof, etc.
Overall Score: A mix of my opinion and my son’s opinions.
I will also list Pros and Cons.

1. B. LucKeys Toy Car Keys with Lights and Sound
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Keys are made from stainless steel, and are easy to clean. They look and sound like real keys, which keeps baby’s attention. Makes several realistic car noises. Light up.
Cons: Price. We found these keys at Target (though they are only available in-store), and just like with the B. Toys HiPhone, we only paid around $10. However, both toys are listed well over $35 on Amazon. Not sure why. No volume control, but the noise isn’t loud to begin with.

2. Fisher-Price Musical Lion Walker
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Volume control. Piano keys play notes and tunes. Has a tiny mirror with flippy animal images, and several other little gizmos for baby. Lion’s nose lights up (is also a button they can press). Walker makes noise as baby walks with it.
Cons: Walker is a bit on the lighter side, while pushing it, baby knocked it over easily. Wheels do not turn. Not many play options for babies who aren’t interested in pushing it.

3. VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Very interactive and realistic. Is an actual “touch screen”! Screen lights up in several patterns. Screen slides to reveal two, different screens, each with different activities (number keys and music/sounds). Each number key does several commands. House button (to the right of the “0”) allows you to program your home phone number, so that you can teach your little one!
Cons: No volume control. Screen looks cheap. Lights in screen are red, as opposed to blue or white, and show up dull. Have read reviews about the lights/sensitivity in the screen not working after a short time, but no issues so far.
** As of 2/24/16, this toy no longer works. It repeats the same tune all day long, and no other buttons work. We had to turn it off permanently.

4. Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers – Crawl ‘n Pop! Turtle
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟✰✰
Noise: 🌟✰✰✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟✰✰
Pros: Cute and colorful. Shapes are easy to put into their corresponding spots. Baby enjoys chewing on shapes.
Cons: No volume control, and VERY noisy when moving. Moves somewhat erratically, as opposed to a straight line. The popping noise it makes when popping the shapes out is very loud and may startle baby. Shapes sometimes get stuck and do not pop. If the turtle is not turned on, shapes do not stay in place very well, and may fall out. Cute toy, until you turn it on.

5. Oball Rattle and Roll Car
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Colorful, fun design. Comes in 4 different colors (my son has the red and blue pictured). Durable. Surprisingly quiet for a “rattle” toy, but still makes enough noise to satisfy baby. Moves very fast with just a tiny push. Doubles as a teether. Baby can put fingers into holes for extra grip.
Cons: Wheels are a bit loud when on hard surfaces. A bit too lightweight.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope these posts are helping at least a few people with potential gift ideas! I’ll be writing another post or two soon, depending on how many more toys I have left to score.

Hope you’re all enjoying 2016 so far!

Jan

Holiday Toy Haul Ratings (6-36m): Part 1

Hello, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and got to spend some quality time with your friends, loved ones, pets, or even some quiet time with yourself. We had a pretty good Christmas on this end. We celebrated our Christmas on the 24th, and went to Kyle’s mother’s in the afternoon to open presents with the rest of the family, after opening presents at our house. It was loads of fun!

Liam received lots of fun, learning toys, so I decided that I wanted to post a multi-part toy haul series, telling you about the toys that he got (all in the 6-36 month age range), and what we think of them after playing with them all. Just in case anyone needed any gift ideas for their little ones, or other peoples, in the future!

The reason I chose to do a series is because we have one more family Christmas to go to in January, and then Liam’s first birthday (omg!), which is also in late January.

I will post the name and link for each toy, as well as an image. Beneath these, I will be using a 4-star system, rating each toy on their:
Attractiveness: Colors, shapes, detail, and how well it captured and kept my son’s attention.
Interactivity: Age settings, movement, how much can he do with it, etc.
Noise: (If applicable) Music, sounds, volume control, sound quality.
Quality: Flimsy plastic, not baby-proof, etc.
Overall Score: A mix of my opinion and my son’s opinions.
I will also list Pros and Cons.

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As you can see, he is pleased with his haul! I will only be rating the toys today, and not any of the books or his toddler learning kit. We’ll see if I do those in the future. I will be rating 5 toys today!

1. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy
k2-_560785b4-9f33-489e-ae88-0eca8afe5e6f.v1
Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: 3 levels of play, grows with your baby. Good learning tool for body parts and colors. Has over 50+ songs, phrases. Colorful. Heart lights up. Volume control.
Cons: Flimsy material, not sturdy. Looks and feels a bit cheap. Can feel the sound discs in the hands, feet, and ears, which makes it less cuddly that it appears. Sound is a bit high-pitched, even with the volume on the lower setting. We already have the My Pal Scout toy, but Puppy seems slightly less popular in our household.

2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
pTRU1-3023135dt
Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: N/A
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Colorful and timeless. Rings double as durable teether. Caught baby’s attention, and he squealed happily when he got the rings on by himself.
Cons: Base is not flat, it is curved, which makes it tip over easily when baby tries to put rings on.

3. B. Toys HiPhone
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟✰✰
Pros: Personalized message recording, touch screen that reads off numbers, several realistic messages and songs. Looks like a “real” phone, caught baby’s attention. No volume control, but volume is lower than other baby toys I have seen.
Cons: Price on Amazon is very expensive, but you can buy from Target for around $10. Cheaply made. The Home button and Record/Play buttons stopped working less than an hour after opening. They now work only occasionally. The phone is for ages 18+ months, but doesn’t appear to do well with baby drool. As of yesterday, half of the lights in the screen stopped working. Baby has since lost interest.

4. VTech Musical Rhymes Book
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Caught and kept baby’s attention immediately and is a current favorite. Parent can play and read with baby, or baby can play alone without issue. No volume control, but noise is not too loud. Very colorful. Two play settings for music or story. Several classic nursery rhymes, as well as instrumental noises. Pages turn and have objects to move on each page. Buttons are colorful and easy to press. Volume control.
Cons: None.

5. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Smart Train
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Another very fun favorite (for both of us). Volume control. 3 levels of play, including colors, shapes, and the alphabet. Comes with 3 removable figures, and two train parts, and no assembly. Very interactive. Train can be set to move across the room while singing the ABC’s, and baby loved to crawl after it. Fun learning toy.
Cons: Frog figure is a bit small, despite being a 3-36 month toy. Baby did put it in his mouth, but was not able to fit it in entirely. Be watchful with smaller toddlers.

So there you go! I hope this helped give you guys some ideas for future gifts (or post-holiday exchanges). We’ve been having a lot of fun learning and exploring! I can’t wait to post more.

Happy holidays, and thanks for reading!

Jan

Take A Walk With Jan #4

The weather has gotten chilly, and December has finally arrived! I’ve been neglecting our outdoor time lately, mostly due to the fact that I don’t own a winter coat, and the temperatures have gotten frigid. However, this entire week is supposed to be in the 50’s, so I am going to try to get as much time outside as possible, even if it means layering myself with sweatshirts!

It was a big cloudy today, but not overly cold or windy, so we decided to go for our usual 2 mile walk to Dollar General and back, which takes roughly an hour and 15 minutes, if we decide to take the long way through the park. I bundled Liam up in a long-sleeve, a thermal onesie, jeans, thick socks, his new C9 jacket (which match his sneakers!), a red flannel hat, and red mittens. He was SO happy to be back outside again! Between the teething, and his stuffy, drippy baby nose, I think we were both going a little nuts being inside all the time!

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Look at that happy boy!

We left right after Liam woke up from his nap, around 3:00, and ran into crowds of high school students, who were just getting out of school (we live on the same street as the high school). I couldn’t help but laugh at the girl that passed us… not a single pair of jeans in the bunch. Leggings, leggings, leggings. They all looked the same. It was funny. What the hell happened to PANTS?

I decided to go through the park, since it had been a while since we walked through, and Liam always laughs when the squirrels run up the trees. I also decided that I was going to attempt to jog the full length of the road the runs behind the park. Bad idea. My legs are killing me.

We walked around Dollar General for about 10 minutes, but I only had $4 to spend, so I ended up only buying a can of sweet potatoes, and two 100-calorie candy bars. I made some pretty awful diet choices today.

Today’s walk was uneventful, and pleasant. On our way home, we admired the houses that were already adorned with Christmas decorations, though… some were… interesting… to look at.

Funny enough, these two houses were across the street from each other. Festive neighborhood rivals? I don’t know. They could definitely give Kyle’s mom’s decorations a run for their money though.

We went back through the park on our way back, and I attempted jogging again. Bad idea. Lungs were on fire. Nope nope nope.

And then we were home, snuggling on the couch, walking Johnny Test on Netflix. Then Liam fell down and hit his mouth on the coffee table. There was blood. It was an interesting day.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Dream Journal 12/2/15

I kept looking at Kyle and his mom and waiting for someone to stand up for me, but no one did. I was so angry. Her tone of voice, and how she addressed me, everything about it. I was pissed. Mostly, because it felt so REAL, like it was something that could actually happen. Seriously.

Present day.

Kyle, Liam, and I drove up to Kyle’s grandmother’s house for Christmas (she lives over two hours away, on top of a very large hill, in the middle of nowhere, and always insists on having EVERY family get together and holiday up there). The whole family was sitting in the basement, opening presents, when Kyle’s grandmother turned to us, and informed us that she would be having Liam’s first birthday at her house (his birthday is at the end of January), without even asking us.

I was shocked, and Kyle and I just looked at each other. I politely told her that we didn’t want to have the party at her house, and that we were planning on just having a small party back home, or at Kyle’s mother’s house, because she lives just a few minutes from us. The conversation went something like this.

Her: So, we’re going to behaving Liam’s party here on January 20th.
Me: … Um, no, that’s alright, we’re just going to do something back home with him.
Her: No, it’s fine, we already ordered him a cake.
Me: Oh, no, don’t do that, I’m making him a vegan cake.
Her: Vegan cake? No. He should have a real cake. We’ll just do it here.
Me: No, we aren’t doing it here. I’m sorry. I’m not driving 2 hours for his party. You’re welcome to come down though.
Her: Well, we’ll just come get him then.
Me: No. No, I’m sorry. We’re not having it here.
Her: Well, you don’t have to come.
Me: Excuse me? It’s my son’s first birthday.
Kyle’s Sister: Just have it here, your apartment is too small to have a party anyway. We don’t want to go there.
Me: We aren’t HAVING a party. He is having a cake, which I am making, and it is just going to be the three of us, and maybe your mom.
Kyle’s Grandmother: Well, we’re going to have it here, so we’ll just come pick him up. You’re welcome to come if you want.
Me: ……..

I kept looking at Kyle and his mom and waiting for someone to stand up for me, but no one did. I was so angry. Her tone of voice, and how she addressed me, everything about it. I was pissed. Mostly, because it felt so REAL, like it was something that could actually happen. Seriously. All the women in his family can be so controlling, and I felt helpless. I woke up feeling anxious. I picked up Liam and walked outside with him, and just started walking down the road, in the middle of nowhere. In the snow.

That’s all that I can remember, but I think it ended around here anyway.

I was so mad, you guys. Holidays seriously stress me out, clearly.

J