Sorry for the Silence

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

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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

Daily Prompt 3/14/2016 | A Fleeting Moment of Confidence

There were rapid-fire holiday and birthday get-togethers, and I found it harder and harder to control myself around all of the sweets and savory foods. So I didn’t. The weather had gotten gloomy, and sucked all the energy from my body, and I slowed down on my exercise, until I stopped completely.

In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 3/14/2016 | Fleeting

I have a very love/hate relationship with diet and exercise. As some of you may already know, from the middle of October to the end of December, I decided to make some changes, and started eating a mostly vegan diet (I still ate eggs). I didn’t do it for any moral reason, and I don’t care if you eat meat, or don’t eat meat, I did it for me, to be a healthier individual. I struggled a bit at first with giving up dairy, as a large part of my diet tended to include cheese, or milk products, but I found that giving up meat was pretty simple, as I never really ate much of it, and didn’t really crave it in any way.

Not only did I make this change to my diet, but I also decided to actually DIET during this time. I downloaded a free app called Lose It!, which I had used previously to lose weight, and began tracking my daily calorie intake, as well as my weight loss. If you are counting calories, and want a free, simple app to help you out, I highly recommend it. Between this complete overhaul in my diet, and counting calories, I found myself struggling to stay on track early on, as well as struggling with cravings. I had many, many slip-ups and cheat days for the first month, and kicked myself over it, feeling guilty and disgusted with myself. I tried to keep junk food and dairy out of my fridge, but that becomes incredibly difficult when you live with a dairy crazed carnivore who wouldn’t touch a vegetable if would save his life. Every other day he was bringing home cookies, or ordering pizza, or bags of chips, and it was unbearable. I even asked him to stop, but he never did.

I was losing weight, slowly, but not at the rate that I wanted, so I started exercising. I was already going on somewhat regular walks with my son, around 2.5 miles each time we went out, but with the weather getting colder, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would be forced to stay indoor. At the recommendation of a few friends, as well as my mom, I started looking up beginner Zumba videos on YouTube, and was instantly hooked. I was able to burn several hundred calories in 1/4 the time as walking, and it was fun. The weight started to melt off after that.

I lost 10 pounds. Then 15 pounds. Then 25 pounds. I had already reached my pre-baby weight, as well as my lowest weight since college, and I felt great. My skin had cleared up from the lack of daily in my diet, and I was able to buy clothes, several sizes smaller, for the first time since getting pregnant. I even began considering buying a bathing suit, and shorts, for the first time since college. I am not joking, I haven’t owned a bathing suit in 7 years, or work shorts in probably 5 or 6. I felt good, and I looked good.

For a fleeting moment, I was the happiest I had been in years.

Then, the holidays came. I tried to have some self-control, but no one in Kyle’s family seemed to understand my struggle with my body, or my diet. Despite being very open about my dietary restrictions, and politely turning down their cooking (they are the type of folks who cook everything with ten pounds of butter), they would just repeatedly tell me to “Just have a cheat day!”, or “You look fine, just eat!”, and it drove me nuts. Even when I did eat, his grandmother would keep pestering me to eat MORE, or actually BRING ME PLATES OF FOOD when I politely declined. She would get offended when I said no. I hated being forced to eat, but I allowed it to happen, just to please her.

That was the start of the end.

There were rapid-fire holiday and birthday get-togethers, and I found it harder and harder to control myself around all of the sweets and savory foods. So I didn’t. The weather had gotten gloomy, and sucked all the energy from my body, and I slowed down on my exercise, until I stopped completely. Over the course of barely two months, I gained back 9 pounds of the 27 total pounds that I had lost. I noticed the definition in my legs and waist going back to being flabby, and the new, smaller clothing that I had bought stop fitting me in a flattering way. And once again, I hated myself.

I tried to get back into my diet several times, but no longer had room on my phone for my calorie tracker app, and used that as an excuse to ballpark it, which ended in failure. I would get stuck eating my son’s leftovers from his meals, and using that as an excuse to eat other meat or dairy items, as I had already lost it for the day. I made a lot of excuses, and it showed. It showed all over my body.

The weather has started to warm up, and I have been able to get outside to walk more with my son, and he is finally old enough to play with me at the park. This has given me hope, and determination, to try to get back on track. My birthday is in a month and a half, and I have decided that I want to lose 10 pounds by then. I ate a vegan diet today, and managed to get a good walk in with my kiddo, as well as a brief Zumba workout (I am astonishingly out of shape from my time away from it). I felt great… until Kyle got home, made two amazing smelling pork burritos, and only ate one of them. He was going to throw away the other… and I ate it. Granted, I didn’t go bonkers on the calories today, but I ate a burrito that was basically nothing but meat and cheese, and I hate myself for it.

As I’ve written about in the past, self-control is my biggest downfall when it comes to anything. It has ruined everything in my life at some point. I love eating healthy, and I love exercising. I love fruits and vegetables and salad and cooking… but between the weather, my empty bank account, my un-supportive, carnivorous husband, and my horrible lack of self-control, maintaining any sort of healthy lifestyle is a massive struggle.

I’m hoping my self-hatred can outweigh my lack of self-control… otherwise, I fear I will never be happy with my appearance. And I can’t live like that anymore. I miss my fleeting moment of confidence.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Self-Control

Self-control… I have none.

As of today, I am down 26 pounds since I started my diet in October. Now, this might sound like quite an accomplishment… but I don’t really feel like it is. Right up until the middle of December, I had been busting my ass, making sure to stick to my diet (no meat, no dairy, and a calorie limit), and to get my walking and/or Zumba workout in. And it was going well! I was losing around 2 pounds a week, my skin was clearing up, and I felt amazing. I was less tired, and just happier in general.

Then… the holidays came.

I never wanted special treatment, or pity, or for people to go out of their way to prepare special dishes for me so that I could eat at family parties. I also never wanted people to say things like, “It’s okay to have a cheat day every once in a while!” or “Come on, it is Christmas! You can indulge!” Because, you see, for me… I have no self-control. None at all. I wanted to live in my happy little bubble, where I could surround myself with my healthy foods, and not worry about the cookies, hams, and cheese plates (all of which are super delicious, and evil). But, alas, the holidays came and went, and I was forced to be in the same room with these delectable dishes… and I caved.

I caved, and I gorged, and I can’t stop.

They say it takes 90 days to make or break a habit. I almost made it. I’ve been kicking myself so much the last few weeks, mostly for allowing myself to nod along and say, “You’re right, it is the holidays!” because I should have known myself better.

I should have known that those cookies were a slippery slope. That eating from the cheese plate would mean that in a few days time, I would be sneaking to the fridge in the middle of the night for a handful of shredded cheese, straight from the bag. I wish I had more support at home. But I don’t. Despite being quite overweight, my carnivorous, dairy addicted fiance insists that I am fine. He doesn’t care about my diet, or my need to have zero junk food in the apartment. He brings home packages of cookies, bags of chips, and random Buffalo Wild Wings, then ends up not touching them. So they sit in the cabinet or fridge, next to my brown rice, quinoa, and dried fruit. Taunting me.

And then, I snap.

Some days, I am so proud of myself. I stay within my calories, eat my veggies, keep my sodium down, and feel good about myself… but when the sun goes down, and my baby goes to bed, something inside of me just… snaps. I crave. Everything. It gets so bad that sometimes I find myself pacing the kitchen, wondering what would be “acceptable” junk food to satisfy my cravings. Carrots and hummus? Sure. Followed by 3 iced oatmeal cookies. Followed by a peanut butter sandwich. Followed by a handful of Tostitos…

I CAN’T STOP.

Is it boredom? I have no idea. Maybe.

On top of this, my son is going through a developmental leap, and has been a tiny (adorable) demon lately. Refusing to nap, taking forever to get to bed, throwing fits, and being clingy… making finding time to workout or do Zumba impossible. So the calories add up.

My weight loss has slowed… significantly. Actually, it has stopped. And it breaks my heart.

I know, I know. I have no one to blame but myself. Old habits are hard to break.

Can someone come and take all this junk food away? And yell at me to get my butt back on the right path? Please?

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
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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
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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