Short Story | Among the Fireflies: Part 2

You can read Among the Fireflies: Part 1 here.

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved winter more than summer. I guess it has something to do with the fact that, in the winter, you can always put on more layers when you get cold, but in the summer, you can only take off so much before it is considered indecent, and you find yourself in a spot of trouble. Continue reading “Short Story | Among the Fireflies: Part 2”

5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2

Hello, friends! I recently posted a blog entitled 5 Pictures, 5 Stories, which people really seemed to enjoy! I really like going through old pictures, and reliving memories of the past, so I thought that I would do it again. So here we go, 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2.

1. New York, New York
215636_1002492342074_4118_n

Back row: April, me, Danielle. Front row: Barbara, Kat, Theoni.
The summer after my junior year in high school, I had the amazing experience of going to NYC with several of my soon-to-be senior friends in the Upward Bound program. This also happened to be the weekend that the final Harry Potter book in the series was being released, marking the end of our collective childhoods, and we all bought it, and basically all finished reading it that weekend. It was amazing. I struggled so hard, because I was the first person to finish the book, and I wanted to talk about it SO badly, but I had to wait. This picture was taken in Central Park, the day after the release. I still in contact with all of these wonderful ladies, and I miss them all so much.

2. Manduca Sexta
313163_2076525352228_1130850996_n

The summer before the summer that I went to NYC, I had an internship in the Biology department at the University of Southern Maine (I was part of the UB program for 4 years total). My boss was a very tall, very nerdy man, who was obsessed with Harry Potter, and we got along amazingly. I also worked with a young woman named Muna, and another guy… whose name I can’t remember. My main job, every day, was to take care of the Manduca sexta caterpillars, in all of their various life cycles. Every day, I would:

a) Scrape the eggs off of tobacco plant leaves leaves from the moth cage, and put them into little containers with slices of wheat germ loaf (which I also made).
b) Take out the hatched eggs from the days before, and transfer them into bigger containers with more food.
c) Take the even BIGGER caterpillars from the days before that from their containers, and put them in even bigger containers with food.
d) Take the biggest caterpillars, which were ready to begin their chrysalis stage, and put them in wooden blocks with holes drilled in them, and store them away.
e) And finally, take the oldest blocks, with the already formed chrysalis, and put them in a giant moth cage. However, I was not allowed to open the moth cage myself, because the dust on their wings was dangerous to inhale, and at my height, they would fly directly into my face. My very tall boss handled that part.

The best part was that all of this was for cancer and tumor research. Something about how the caterpillars go from having multiple eyes within an eye (sort of like a fly), to two eyes as a moth… or something… I never fully understood it, but it was an amazing experience, and I loved it so much. I enjoyed the work, and keeping meticulous records on all my little bug friends. I wanted to be a forensic entomologist for the longest time, and being able to work closely with scientists and these insects was an amazing experience.

3. Dancing Kings
36061_1428851600789_3225339_n

These are my friends, Julien and George. When I was accepted into the Upward Bound program as a freshman, which is pretty uncommon, I had a hard time making friends. As an upcoming sophomore, I was a whole year or two younger than everyone, and my awkwardness and shyness didn’t help me connect to anyone. Until I met Julien and George, who were two years older than me, and best friends. They were both genius level intelligent, and I still have no idea why they chose to befriend me, but I’m not complaining.

We had very similar interests in music (Julien introduced me to the Foo Fighters, George introduced me to Pink Floyd), books, and video games… including DDR. I had been playing DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for only a year, mostly in the privacy of my own living room, when I met them. We started a DDR group in the lounge, and spent all of our free time playing. They were both incredible, and pushed me so hard to be good at it. This picture was taken at the Friends and Family Night Talent Show, which I was too afraid to enter. They KILLED it. That was the last summer I spent with them, as they went to  different school, but they helped me become more confident in myself, and also helped me get on a healthy track with my weight loss. I lost 45 pounds between my junior and senior years, and I owe it all to them.

4. Little Sister
217747_1007436225668_6894_n

This is a picture of the last time I ever saw my little sister, Desiree. The picture was taken at her 4th birthday party, the summer that I left for college. Desiree had been taken from my father and his girlfriend, along with her other two girls, and had been adopted by a woman named Amy, and her husband. I was not able to visit them often, and was fed a lot of bullshit reasons as to why. In 2012, I flew to Maine as a surprise for my mom, and had planned to visit them, but my grandmother, who had known of my plans all along, told me that I could not. According to her, despite my sister knowing she was adopted, she would not understand who I was, or how we were related… yet she understood who our grandmother was, and she was allowed to visit frequently. I was so angry. This beautiful girl is 11 years old now. Maybe I’ll get to see her again at her wedding. Who knows? I also now have a 4 year old sister, who was also taken from my father, who I may never see again as well. Family

5. Relay For Life
10527375_10202503478447716_9172834201898847204_n

I had the honor and privilege to participate in our local Relay for Life event for 3 summers in a row. Kyle’s grandmother and mother both have teams, and Kyle had been doing it since he was young. His grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, as is mine, and my uncle died of a brain tumor, and I wanted to be a part of this so badly. This picture was taken in the summer of 2014, when I was 3 months pregnant, at the last Relay event that I attended. That is our stand in the background, which was boxing themed, to match the Relay theme of “Finish the Fight“.

We had our snow cone machine set up, which Kyle and I manned every year, as well as trinkets for sale, and a boxing ring and props for pictures. This was the first year that the event had to be held indoors, due to weather, and we had to fit our tent inside the hallways of the high school. The turnout was still great, and we ended up raising the second largest amount of money out of the two dozen teams there. Kyle’s mom joined a nursing program that same year, and we had to say goodbye to our Relay team. Hopefully we can do it again in the future, especially after this incredibly emotional year, where we have already lost so many to this disease. Fuck cancer!

Thank you for reading, friends!

Jan

UPDATE: Comfy Baby Universal Insulated Stroller Weather Protector Review

Hello, friends! A little while ago, I did a first impression review of the Comfy Baby Universal Insulated Stroller Weather Protector, which I received for Christmas, and now that I’ve had a chance to really give it some good use, I thought I would update you guys. In my previous post, which you can read here, I gave the stroller protector a good review, but had to make note that I had a hard time putting it on my Graco Fastaction Fold Jogger Click Connect Stroller, despite it being universal, and it looked a bit goofy. Well, after being told that I had been putting it on wrong, I tried putting it on properly… and that made a crazy huge difference!

On the left is the before picture, on the first day that I tried it out. I hadn’t put the protector on properly, and instead of putting the push bar through the corresponding opening, I just tucked it all into itself, making it look baggy and ill-fitting all around. The one on the right is the after picture, what it looks like now, put on properly. I love it even more now that I did on the first day, and I loved it a bunch even then!

Obviously, I don’t have much else to add, I just wanted to let you all know that it is just as great put on properly as it was put on slightly wrong. The weather has been hovering in the mid-high 30’s lately, so we’ve been trying to get out as much as possible. Just today, the sandwich artist who made my sandwich at Subway, as well as the expectant mother in line behind me, both complimented the protector, and were shocked to learn that it wasn’t part of the stroller. That’s how good it looks! We walked to Dollar General, and as we were leaving, two older women also complimented us, and thought that it was just a fancy stroller! We love it, and have been getting a lot of use out of it already. Even with the weather being in the 30’s, I only have to dress Liam in his lighter winter coat, and a pair of mittens (his fingers get cold easily, but he is still toasty inside his protector), which he usually takes off on his own.

In conclusion, we love our Comfy Baby Universal Insulated Stroller Weather Protector, and highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t wait to see how it performs once it gets warmer.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

15 (More) Facts About Me!

Hello, friends! I had so much fun thinking of random facts about myself on Twitter (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to read my previous post), that I decided to write a second post with more fun facts! The tweet that I posted on Twitter got a grand total of 23 likes! I wrote out 15 facts in the last post, so I’ll be writing about the 8 facts that I put up on Twitter, as well as 7 bonus facts!

Not that I am important, or interesting… but this is really fun for me. I had to really think about myself to come up with things to list, haha. So here we go!

Jan Fact #16: I desperately need to have a yard sale.
I have been meaning to do a yard sale for the last 2 years, but kept putting it off. Now it is winter again, so I have to wait until spring. I have so much crap! We have two massive boxes of misc. decor and clothes just sitting in Kyle’s mom’s garage, and now we have four trash bags of JUST baby clothes, some more adult clothes, and some other baby items to sell. So. Much. Stuff.

Jan Fact #17: I love Spelunker World.
We recently got a PS4, but the only game I’ve been playing on it is Spelunker World, which is super fun. We have other games, like GTA V, NBA 2k16, COD: AW, and a few others… but Kyle mostly plays those. I make sure to log in daily to get my rewards, but I only get to play for a little bit each day, usually during nap time. It is addicting though. And so infuriating. It is free, so if you have a PS4 (I dunno if it is available for PS3 or not), you should play it. You can play online with other people, too… but they are mostly 10 year olds. So, yeah.

Jan Fact #18: I’m openly Pansexual.
I’ve known that I was bisexual since I was 12 years old, and came out at 13 to my mom. The only thing she had to say was, “Gross.” but it never came up after that. She and I never talked about relationships and such anyway, so it was fine. I never really came out to people, I just lived out. I was always open about my sexuality. Luckily, I lived in a town that was pretty accepting of people. If I liked a girl, I told her. If someone asked if I liked girls, I was honest. Last year, I was told to look up the term “pansexual”, as my friend wanted to know if I could relate. I did. And shortly after realizing that this term described me, I came out on Twitter.

Jan Fact #19: My favorite color is green!
All the lovely shades of green. Green is such a happy color.

Jan Fact #20: I have siblings. Kind of.
I am my mother’s only child, but have an assortment of step/half siblings in my life. I’m not in contact with any of them. I have an older half-brother (26) named Dustin, who has two sons named Phoenix (2) and Ryker (1). I also have two younger half-sisters (11 and 4) named Desiree and Makaela. Although my mom never married her boyfriend, they have been together for 16 or 17 years (or more), and I consider his son, Lawrence (25) to be my step-brother.
Here is where things get complicated. Desiree and Makaela are my dad’s daughters, making them my half-sisters, but they were taken away from him and his girlfriend, Anthena. Desiree was taken away, along with Anthena’s other two daughters, whose names USED to be Miranda and Brianna. All 3 girls were adopted by a woman named Amy, and her husband, Sean. In the adoption, the two older girls changed their names to Jayla and Jamie, respectively. I consider both of these girls, now 19 and 17, to be my sisters, although I haven’t seen them in years.
28131_1295502667149_3234609_n
This picture was taken in 2008, the last time I saw the girls. This was at Desiree’s 4th birthday, a few weeks before I left for college. That is my grandmother. We won’t talk about her, but she is the main reason I haven’t seen the girls. I went back to Maine a few years ago, and had planned to see them, but she told me that Desiree wouldn’t understand who I was, despite being 8 years old. She said she didn’t understand adoption, or something, and it would confuse her. Yet, my grandmother was able to see her with no issue… whatever. So, yeah. I don’t talk to any of my family.

Jan Fact #21: I almost never wear matching socks.
I don’t know why. I don’t do it to be “cool”, or whatever. I think I am just too lazy to match them up. I wore matching socks yesterday though, and it felt weird.

Jan Fact #22: I refuse to wear pajama pants outside.
I don’t know if it is because I feel self-conscious, or if I just don’t like looking like a total bum, but I honestly don’t know if I ever have worn pajama pants outdoors. Certainly never to the store, or any other destination. Only yoga pants or jeans (maaaybe a skirt) for this girl.

Jan Fact #23: Liam was planned.
Despite what people seem to think, Liam was a planned baby. We never TRIED to have a baby (as in, we didn’t worry about positions, and ovulation, etc.), but we stopped trying to prevent one. When we started this journey, we were financially stable, and things were great. It wasn’t until after I got pregnant that everything went to hell, and we ran into money problems. So when people say things like, “Don’t have a kid if you can’t afford one.” it makes me want to scream. You don’t know what will happen. You just don’t. So shut up. It took over 10 months to get pregnant. According to my doctor, he was conceived on my birthday… haha. Best decision I’ve ever made.

*BONUS*
Jan Fact #24: I’ve always felt weird calling myself a “gamer”.
I love games. I love playing games. However, I don’t really play them anymore. I grew up with my N64 (which I still have), my XBox, and my PS2/3, and played a whole assortment of things on them… but, I don’t know. I feel like, for some reason, when I think of the term “gamer”, I think of games like Call of Duty, Halo, and such. I preferred games like The Sims, DDR, and Legend of Zelda. It is silly, I know. Gamers play games. All sorts of games. And those ARE games! I mean, I played World of Warcraft for 10 years, but even then, I didn’t feel like a gamer. And now, I get all of my enjoyment from watching other people (like Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, PewDiePie, and others) play games that I wish I could play. Meh.

Jan Fact #25: I love spicy food.
I have memories of my grandmother giving me jalapeno peppers off of her sub whenever she got Subway when I was really little, and now I love them. I add Tabasco sauce or Sriracha to everything I eat. Pasta, rice, soup, vegetables… I love it. Pepperjack is my favorite cheese. I need my salsa super hot. The Diablo and Ghost Pepper sauces at Taco Bell are a complete joke and are not hot!

Jan Fact #26: I love pickles.
I think it is the salt. I love dill pickles (get out of here with your nasty sweet pickles). I also love olives! All olives. When I was pregnant, and still working at Target, I used to buy jars of baby pickles and eat almost a whole jar on my lunch break… and it wasn’t because I was pregnant. I just used that as an excuse.

Jan Fact #27: I am an Atheist.
I don’t care what religion you practice, I really don’t. I won’t judge you, unless you are hurting people. Respect my (lack of) belief, and I will respect yours. I have my reasons for not believing in a deity, and you have your reasons for your beliefs. Do not try to convince or convert me. Do not get into a debate with me, or insult me. I’ve heard it all, and I don’t care. 🙂

Jan Fact #28: I want a daughter.
If my next child is a boy, I won’t be upset, but I might be a bit sad. We agreed to stop at two kids (we’ll see…), but I want three. I would love to have a daughter.

Jan Fact #29: I am secretly sort of girly.
My mouse is a very colorful owl, and my mouse pad is teal/white chevron. My wardrobe contains mostly black, but I do love color. I like boots, makeup, scarves,and jewelry… I’m just too broke/scared to wear any of it. Shh.

Jan Fact #30: I love tattoos and piercings.
I really, really do. I’ve had my ears pierced since I was an infant, and got my eyebrow pierced when I was 15. I had to take my eyebrow ring out a year later, due to infection, but re-pierced it when I was 19, and took it out just this year, due to grabby baby hands. Kyle and I both have several tattoos planned out, but no funds to get them. I also would like to get a few more piercings, once Liam is out of his grabby stage. I am very vanilla on the outside.

So, there you go! Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me. I am pretty open and honest about all aspects of my life, so if you ever want to ask me something, or talk about anything, please feel free!

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan