Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to the present fathers, step-fathers, adoptive fathers, fathers of loss, fathers of divorce or separation, fathers-to-be, and future fathers who are trying to so hard become fathers.

Hello, friends. Today is Father’s Day, and for many, this is a day for celebrating the man, or men, in your lives who have helped to shape you into the person you are today. Unfortunately, for many others, this can be a sad, or upsetting day. To those of you who are struggling on this day, whether it be from a sense of absence, loss, or some other type of pain, I just want you to know that you are not alone.

I want to take a moment to thank three men in my life who all had a hand in making me the person I am today. My relationship with each is wildly different, but they are the fathers I have known in my life.

First and foremost, I want to wish a happy second Father’s Day to the love of my life, my rock, my everything, Kyle. I wish I could put into words how much you mean to Liam and I, and how much we appreciate how hard you work for us. The love you have for our son shines through your every interaction, and I know that he absolutely adores you. We both do. I wish we could celebrate Father’s Day today, but you’ll be at work, working your butt off to make sure that Liam and I have a good life. I am so proud of the man and father that you have become, and I love you very much.

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Secondly, I want to say happy Father’s Day to a man who has been in my life for nearly 20 years. A man who I have always had a rough relationship with, but who was always there for my mom and I. I don’t even have a single picture of you and I, but Happy Father’s Day to my step-father, Larry. You took in a woman and her daughter who were down on their luck, gave them a roof over their heads, and supported them financially until they could get back on their feet. You had a son of your own, but accepted me as your second child, even though we butted heads constantly. You were never easy to get along with, but you have come a long way, and have made my mom so happy. Thank you for all the gifts you paid for, but took no credit for. Thank you for trying, even if it didn’t work out the way you wanted. Thank you for keeping my mom sane and happy. Thank you.

And finally, I want to say happy Father’s Day to my biological father, Mike. I haven’t seen you in many years, and before that, many years more. I never knew you growing up, and I wish you had cared more about me, and your other children, than drugs and stealing. It was hard growing up without a father. I blamed you for a lot my my mom’s unhappiness, as well as my own. I blamed you for every bad boyfriend, every crappy apartment, and every toy I wanted but never received. I know now that you were sick. You are sick. And you are incapable of caring about anything, or anyone, including yourself. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you are taking care of yourself today.

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Happy Father’s Day to the present fathers, step-fathers, adoptive fathers, fathers of loss, fathers of divorce or separation, fathers-to-be, and future fathers who are trying to so hard become fathers. Enjoy your day!

Thanks for reading, friends.

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

Daily Prompt 3/13/2016 | Incomplete

My apartment is currently a disaster. I’ve been sick for three days now, and my tiny toddler is using up every ounce of energy that I have left in me, which isn’t very much at all. I have a long list of things that I desperately need to accomplish, and just haven’t had the time to do.

In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 3/13/2016 | Incomplete

My apartment is currently a disaster. I’ve been sick for three days now, and my tiny toddler is using up every ounce of energy that I have left in me, which isn’t very much at all. I have a long list of things that I desperately need to accomplish, and just haven’t had the time to do.

Fun fact: Just because you are a stay-at-home parent, and spend the entire day inside the walls of your home, that does not mean that you will have tons of free time to get things done, and clean, and make your home beautiful. Nope. Basically the exact opposite, actually.

I thought I would share with you my list of things I need to get done, and share with you my excuses as to why they remain incomplete to this day.

1. The Dishes
I’ve written about my dishes before, and it hasn’t gotten any better. The dishes used to be Kyle’s one chore, even back when I was working full-time, and he was unemployed, I only tasked him with the chore of doing the dishes, and it was such a fight to get him to do them more often than once a week. For those who don’t know, Kyle is my fully grown, adult husband, and not a teenage boy.
After the baby came, I stopped working, and Kyle started working full-time, and getting him to do anything, especially the dishes, was impossible. At one point, and I am embarrassed to even be telling you this, our dishes had gone undone for 3 months. Every few days, I chipped away at the top layer of dishes, but the ones at the bottom… absolutely disgusting. After a few weeks, I was able to get them done, and they were easier to keep up with after that.
Recently, Liam has been in this needy, clingy stage, and will not let me leave his side to do anything. I can’t pee, I can’t cook, I can’t do the dishes or clean, or get on the computer, or he loses his mind. The only free time I get is when he is sleeping, but my apartment is so small that I can only do quiet activities (like sleeping…), which means no dishes. So, they are stacking up again. Ugh. I’ll pay some one to come do them for me. Please?

2. Toddler Proofing
My house is reasonably baby proof. The outlets are all covered, and dangerous items are high up, and out of the reach of my tiny human. However, my apartment is NOT toddler proof, and I am learning very quickly that my 13 month old son is way smarter than I give him credit for. He has started climbing, and opening, and grabbing, and getting into so much trouble. I have a book shelf in my living room, which contains Liam’s baby books on the bottom two shelves, and a miscellaneous assortment of not-for-baby objects on the top three shelves. Well, my toddler is now tall enough to reach all but the top shelf, and keeps getting into our stuff. Same goes for my desk, and the DVD shelves next to my desk. I am running out of places to stack my crap, so I really need to actually clean up my living room, and organize my stuff, so that it looks presentable, and safe. I was prepared for a baby, NOT for a toddler!

3. My Toilet
Anyone else have a man in their house who always manages to get pee on the outside of the toilet? Or on the floor? I find myself constantly wiping up after the grown man in my life, and it drives me nuts. Honestly, I blame the toilet. Our seat has been broken since we moved in, and the toilet is REALLY small. Kyle and I have lived in several apartments together, and this was never a problem. I find myself having to clean the toilet all the time, and I hate it. I also recently decided that I would invest in bleach tablets or something for my toilet, which means I am now a certified adult, right? I hate cleaning the toilet, man.

4. Liam’s Crib
I’ve been avoiding it for a while, but the time has come to drop Liam’s crib down to the lowest level. My 13 month old is just getting too tall, and has been trying to climb out recently. He can’t climb out yet, but I want to be proactive, just in case he figures it out. Where has the time gone? What happened to my tiny baby? I have this nearly 3 foot tall child now. WHAT? I also have a toddler bed sitting in the closet, waiting to be put together, but that won’t happen for a little while yet. Ahhh!

5. Landlord Crap
I’ve never met my landlord. Instead, I go through a realty company, who then relays messages to him. This is a bullshit, awful system, and nothing gets done. Last spring, I called realtors to tell them that none of our windows have screens on them, and thanks to the spiders, lady beetles, and misc. stinging insects that reside outside of my apartment, we were unable to open our windows at all. We also have no central air (which they lied to us about, another story entirely), and did not have an air conditioner at the time. The woman I talked to said she would send someone out immediately to measure our windows. Yeah, that never happened. Almost a year later, we still don’t have screens, and the weather is warming up, and I have to call them. Again.
Not only do we need screens, but our back door is crooked and bugs literally just waltz into our apartment, along with debris and weather from outside, but we have also had a hole in our ceiling, as a result of the leak in our ceiling that we experienced during our FIRST NIGHT in our apartment. The leak was fixed. The hole was not. Renting is just so fun.

Those are just a few things that I need to be completed, that probably won’t get completed any time in the foreseeable future. Ugh. Adult stuff. Ugh. Stress.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Dream Journal 2/28/16

Future.

All I remember is that Kyle, Liam, and I were living in a post-apocalyptic city, which resembled the city from the movie I Am Legend (NYC?). We went walking down a street, littered with old cars, piles of debris, and overgrown plants. Liam was 3 years old or so, and had long, curly hair. I was wearing him in a large, custom baby carrier on my back, which was also equipped with swords, machetes, and all sorts of other weaponry.

I was wearing a torn shirt, which revealed my tummy, which had miraculously developed some hardcore abs. Kyle was shirtless, and had some pretty intense ab action going on as well, as well as a massive gun strapped to his back. We were walking down the empty street, when a large pack of dogs ran by, yet didn’t seem to notice us. I could see the shadow of a large bird fly over us, though it looked more like a pterodactyl. Kyle made a series of hand signals to me, and I shushed Liam, before ducking behind one of the cars on the side of the road. Kyle hid behind a nearby tree, just in time for the large, bird/pterodactyl shadow to circle back around, flying over us again, lower this time. After it was gone, Kyle motioned for me to run, and I ran ahead, and shut Liam and myself into a nearby building. I heard a loud, terrifying siren, like the sirens in Silent Hill, and a few moments later, Kyle was standing in the doorway.

Darkness fell over the city, with nothing but the moon to light the streets. We left the empty house, and headed back outside. Kyle said something about meeting up with the rest of our group at camp, and moments later, we were sneaking into the back of a huge, empty mall. We were greeted by a large man, dressed in a nice suit, who unlocked the padlock to let us in. In the next room was an elderly woman, a two twin boys around 13 years old, a blonde woman, who may have been their mother, and a middle-aged man, who was wearing nothing but dark green swim trunks. They all waved and clapped enthusiastically when we walked in.

The elderly woman was cooking a large turkey over a fire in the middle of the room, and the twins were throwing clothing, straight off of the store racks, onto the fire to keep it going. The middle-aged man was complaining that there wasn’t enough butter for everyone, and the large man offered to make a run to the store to get ingredients to make more, but the other man just kept yelling. The elderly woman threw a chunk of turkey at him, and he stomped away, and everyone laughed.

I offered to go and get butter ingredients with the large man, but Liam started crying, and told me not to go, so the twins offered to go instead. Liam brought me a soccer ball and asked if we could play, and I smiled and walked into the main lobby of the mall…

And then I woke up.

Daily Prompt 2/10/2016 | The Perfect Storm

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 2/10/2016 | Sudden Shifts

“You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hail starts descending from the sky. Write a post about what happens next.”

Liam! Nooo!” I shrieked, as my one-year old son dropped a fistful of wet sand into my head. I pulled out my ponytail and shook my hair violently, trying to disperse the itchy particles from my scalp. My little terror smiled brightly, turned on his heel, and took off in the opposite direction toward his father, who was doubled over with laughter.

I rolled my eyes, giving up on my hair, and leaned back into my lime green beach chair. My eyes adjusted to the shade provided by my comically large beach umbrella, and I sighed in defeat. I looked over at my husband and son, who were happily attempting to build a sand castle, with little success. Life with a one-year old, never a dull moment. I smiled, and turned my head to survey the rest of the beach. Families and groups of friends, both big and small, were scattered across the vast, sandy beach, frolicking beneath the warm, July sun. It was the third day that week that we had spent the day at the beach, as the weather had been perfect, and despite having to dig out sand from every nook and cranny of my body, and having a slightly pink complexion, I was definitely not tired of it yet.

Is it supposed to rain today?” I heard my husband’s voice, and turned my head lazily to face him.

No, I think it’s supposed to be sunny the rest of the week. Why?” I asked him, sitting up in my chair to embrace my tiny toddler, who was now climbing into my lap.

He made a confused “hmm” noise, and turned away from me, staring out toward the water. I suddenly became aware that the sun was no longer shining brightly down on the beach, replaced by the shadows of storm clouds, dancing across the sand. A chill entered the air, and I wrapped my beach towel around my son and myself. Kyle turned to me, opening his mouth to speak, when suddenly, something heavy landed on top of my umbrella, startling us.

What the hell was that?” I asked, picking Liam up tilting my umbrella to investigate. A large ball of ice slid down my umbrella, and landed with a thud in the sand. Confused, I looked up into the sky, now dark with storm clouds, and shivered. Was that hail? Was it hailing? How? I heard a loud curse from behind me, and turned to see Kyle bending down to pick up another large ball of ice from the sand, while rubbing his head gingerly.

My eyes widened as he presented a baseball-sized piece of hail to me, and we stood there speechless. All around us, concerned voices, as well as cries of surprise, rang out, and families and friends ran to gather their belongings. Without another word, we quickly packed up our chairs, towels, and other beach accessories, and ran as fast as we could toward the parking lot. I held my umbrella over heads as best as I could, nearly tripping several times.

This is crazy!” Kyle shouted, but it was still hard to hear him by my side over the roar of hail falling around us.

We got to our car and quickly barricaded ourselves inside. The pounding of hail rang loudly in our ears, and I was surprised to discover that my tiny toddler was remaining calm, and seemed to be amused by the balls of ice raining from the sky. We sat in silence (well, not really), and watched hoards of people as they dove into their cars in desperation. I couldn’t help it, and I began to laugh at the bizarre shift in the weather. I turned to Kyle, and saw the intensity melt from his face, and he too began laughing, reaching for my hand, and squeezing gently.

He started the car, and we followed the herd of other vehicles to the main road. Less than a mile later, the sky opened up, and the sun made a welcome appearance. We drove home with smiles on our faces, both ignoring the fact that the outside of our vehicle now likely resembled the craterous surface of the moon. I glanced in the rear-view mirror at my son, now sleeping soundly in his car seat, and sighed contently. We drove home in a happy silence, hearing only the sound of our tires crushing the occasional ice ball on the road. What a beautiful day.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Dream Journal 1/15/16

Present day.

Kyle and I have just finished a date night, we are both dressed up. Liam is at his grandmother’s. We stop at a gas station convenience store to get snacks before going home. We are waiting in line with several other people, when three men wearing masks come running in, waving around guns, and telling us all to get down.

Terrified, we all get down on the ground, while the three men go to the counter and demand money. The leader of the group seems anxious, and he is threatening the cashier, pointing the gun right in his face, screaming at him to hurry. The other two guys repeatedly tell him to calm down, and that they just want the money, they don’t want to shoot anybody. The cashier reaches for the alarm button, and the robber shoots him in the head.

We all scream. There is a middle-aged couple in the store with us, as well as a man who later explains to us that he is an ex-marine, and a young mother with a little girl. The two other robbers rush to the leader, and an argument ensues. They are angry that he shot the man, and they didn’t want to hurt anyone. The leader shoves one of the men and hits him with his gun, knocking him out. The other robber runs out the door.

The leader begins pacing, talking to himself angrily, while waving his gun around. The man on the floor starts moving again, and he pulls him up violently, yelling at him for not following orders. While they argue, the ex-marine quietly instructs us how to get out. He motions for the young mother and her little girl to get to the door quietly, and they manage to get out without the men noticing.

Next, the older woman and I are told to go. We crawl to the door, breaking into a sprint at the threshold. We join the woman and her daughter in the parking lot, who are already calling 911. Next, all three men make a break for it, but the armed men notice, and start firing.

They manage to make it out the door… but aren’t fast enough. Kyle and the ex-marine are both shot several times in the chest, and collapse on the curb. The two men take off running.

I scream, rushing over to Kyle, who has two holes in his chest, and blood trickling from his mouth. He is struggling to breathe, yet tried to speak to me. I cradle his head in my arms and sob, urging him to save his breath, and begging him not to die. After several minutes, the older woman pulls me away. I look down at Kyle’s lifeless body, and collapse back to the ground. I crawl over to him and try to give him CPR, but he is gone. I grab his hand, kiss it, and pull off his wedding band, slipping it into my pocket.

The police come to take our statements before releasing us all to go home. I watch them cover Kyle’s body and load him into an ambulance. They don’t bother turning on the lights as they drive away. The older woman and her husband offer to drive me to my mother-in-law’s, and we get into their truck. I take out my phone to call her, but my entire body is numb and heavy, and I can’t move.

When she answers, she doesn’t seem to notice my violent, hysterical sobbing, and brightly talks to me about our plans for Liam’s first birthday. She asks where Kyle is, and all I can do it hang up. We get to her house, and the couple helps me inside, where Kyle’s mom and two sisters are waiting. They don’t seem to notice the blood on my hands, face, and clothes, or my red eyes, still crying.

I collapse to the floor as the woman and her husband tell them what happened. I can’t hear them, but I know they mention Kyle, as his mom falls back onto the couch in tears. She then turns to me and says that I need to find a job now, or I will lose our apartment. She asks me who is going to take care of Liam, and if she can have our vehicle, since I can’t drive.

Liam walks over to me and gently tugs on my hair as I curl into a ball in the middle of the floor, shaking and crying. The older woman is patting my shoulder, telling me everything will be alright. Then they leave, and I am left on the floor, sobbing, while Kyle’s surviving family members stare at me.

And then I woke up.

I woke up with a pain in my chest, and tears in my eyes, as I rolled over in a panic to make sure that Kyle was still there. He was, but it had felt so real…