The Evolution of Toddler Scribbles

What are some fun, artistic things that you have done with your little ones?

Hello, friends! I haven’t written about Liam’s developmental milestones for now, I have been planning a post about it, but since he is creeping up on his 18 month mark (what?!), I figured I’ll just wait until then! Today, I wanted to share with you all something that I have been having a lot of fun doing with him lately… coloring! Well, drawing. Doodling? Whatever. Toddler scribbles, yay! Continue reading “The Evolution of Toddler Scribbles”

Photo Challenge | Pure

They only see the wonder and beauty that the world offers.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge | Pure

Young children are as pure as you can possibly get. They have not yet been touched and molded by all of the judgment and hatred that fills the world. They only see the wonder and beauty that the world offers. They will make friends with anyone willing to play with them, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or handicap, because they do not see the differences that divide us. They just want to play, and share their enjoyment with those around them.

Innocence is pure. And beautiful.

Mom’s Visit | Day 6

Hello, friends. Today has been very… trying.

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

Hello, friends. Today has been very… trying.

Kyle went back to work today, though I had him with me all morning and early afternoon. I had planned on getting some housework done, since it has all gone undone ever since my mom arrived, but that never ended up happening. Liam was incredibly fussy all morning, despite sleeping for nearly 13 hours straight, and was being quite naughty. On top of dealing with a cranky toddler, Kyle had a meeting with the financial aid office about getting financial help with his CDL class… and they basically told him there is nothing they can do to help him. So he came home very upset, which only made me more upset about this whole day getting off to a rough start.

Liam took an early nap around 10:15, despite only being awake for 2.5 hours, and ended up sleeping for 3 whole hours. I decided to put off doing anything with my mom until after he had his lunch, in the hopes that his long nap would put him in better spirits. This did not stop her from driving all the way to the park up the street from our apartment, and texting us about all the comings and goings happening there. It made me feel bad, and a little annoyed, that she drove all the way here, when we didn’t want company for a while, but whatever.

After kiddo woke up and had his lunch, my mom came over, and we all sat around, playing with Liam’s blocks, doing puzzles, and chatting. Kyle left for work, and my mom and I left shortly after to take Liam to the play area at the mall. We stopped to get some concrete mixers from Culver’s (basically, for those who don’t know, it is just building your own delicious, frozen custard treat with all sorts of candies and toppings to mix in), since we’ve all been craving them lately. We brought one to Kyle at work, and visited with him and one of his co-workers for a while, then headed to the mall play area.

Unlike yesterday, we had the entire play area to ourselves, and Liam had a blast, running around and screaming like a silly boy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that fun for me, as my mom was driving me absolutely insane. She was crawling around, playing with Liam, and chasing him, and kept stopping every so often to proclaim loudly, “Oh, I better stop, I’m probably embarrassing mommy!”, despite the fact that there was no one around, and I had not said anything at all. She did this at least 10 times. That’s just something she does, and it honestly drives me insane. She always says things like, “I’m just so stupid, don’t listen to me.” or “I’m probably wrong, I’m wrong about everything.” or always assumes that you are embarrassed of her, even when you aren’t arguing with her, or correcting her, or anything. It is so irritating, and she has been like this my entire life. I was hoping that she had changed, even a little bit, in the 8 years since I’ve lived under the same roof as her, but she hasn’t. I’ve called her out on it before, and tell her to stop saying things like that about herself, but it just makes her angry.

Anyway, after a little while, it started getting close to dinner time, so we headed to the bathrooms at other end of the mall to change Liam’s diaper. Once we got there, my mom told me she was going to just go wait for me by the car, which was parked outside of a totally different entrance, and I told her I was going to be a minute, because I wanted to take Liam to say goodnight to Kyle, since he wouldn’t be home in time for bedtime. She just walked off without a word.

Back in Kyle’s work, where it was absolutely dead, I found myself ranting irritably to Kyle and his co-worker friend, while Liam ran around, playing with the various things that hung from low hooks. I eventually went to meet my mom back at the car, where she argued with me over where we should eat dinner, and we ended up eating nowhere, and she just dropped me off at the partment.

Ugh. I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just been so exhausted lately, emotionally and physically, and it has put me so on edge. I knew that this was going to be a hard week for me, as even spending 24 hours with my mom gets under my skin, but this week has been hard for so many reasons. Tomorrow is her last visiting day with us, even though her flight leaves Saturday night, but she doesn’t want to stop by that day. I’ll be honest, I really missed alone time with my son. I missed cleaning my apartment. I missed taking naps. I missed spending Kyle’s days off with him, cuddling on the couch, watching Netflix. I missed normality.

I guess that’s it for now. I want to spend tomorrow driving around, looking for garage sales and yard sales in the area. My mom is still pushing that she wants to buy me stuff, so maybe I’ll be able to find a decent dresser somewhere for her to get me. Who knows.

Well, Kyle literally just walked in, and I want cuddles. We’ve been watching The Adventures of Merlin on Netflix, and I know I’ve mentioned it before, but seriously, you should check it out.

Also, before I go, I wanted to add something else that she does that I find… odd. Whenever Liam does literally anything, like how he plays with blocks, or babbles, or runs around excitedly… just the things he does normally, she never compares him to me at his age. Not at all. She always says that everything reminds her of herself, or her and her mom, from when she was little. She never even talks about me as a baby, or her and I. I just find it strange. Is it? I don’t know. Meh.

Anyway, thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 5

I sat on the floor with this stranger’s children, and my own son, and we all talked about milestones, and the joys of having boys. Their father was an absolute doll, and his words about raising his boys, and when they each started talking, walking, and getting their teeth, were so comforting to me, as I often worry about Liam hitting his milestones on time. They were such a lovely family.

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

Hello, friends! Today was another great day, with only a few minor low points to share. Today is my mom’s 50th birthday, and once again, we decided to go to the pool at the Metro Center in Princeton, and it was even better than it was yesterday! We decided to schedule our whole day around the pool trip this time, so that we could get as much time in the water as possible, and left much earlier than yesterday, as soon as Liam finished his breakfast, and we all got showered and dressed.

It was barely 11:00 when we got to the pool, and there were only a handful of swimmers in the large pool. Once again, we had the kiddie pool to ourselves, and Liam could hardly contain his excitement as we approached the shallow pool. There was no hesitation this time, no clinging to my legs, no fear, just pure happiness, and so much splashing. He really wanted to put his adorable, new swim shorts to good use! He came 100% out of his shell, wading through the water, going after the pool toys, dunking them, pouring them, and being so much more curious and adventurous with the water. My mom managed to get a dozen more pictures of him today, and he was smiling in every single one of them. It filled my heart with so much joy to see him having so much fun.

Cj5SakrWsAUUB3S

We stayed at the pool for about an hour, but had to leave around noon to grab some lunch, because Kyle had a meeting about a scholarship for his CDL class at 1:00. Luckily, the meeting was in the same town, so we stopped at a nearby Subway to get some lunch, but because the lines were so long, Kyle had to leave his sandwich with us, and leave for his meeting. While he was gone, my mom drove me a bit nuts, which has been happening off and on for the last couple days, but I managed to have a good time. I ordered Liam his own sub for the first time, and he sat in a booster seat at the table with me for the first time ever. He did so well! It was amusing to watch him pick apart the sandwich, and decide which veggies he did and did not like (his absolute favorite Subway veggies are pickles and olives, just like his mama!).

Unfortunately, my happiness faded when I saw Kyle pull up, just a short time later, with a very obvious frown. He did not get the scholarship. His income was too high, thanks to his last two, abnormal paychecks, and he did not qualify. He was upset, and my mom kept saying that she would pay for it for us, which made me upset. She already paid $5000 toward my failed college education, and I still owe my old school, and her, money. I didn’t even want her paying for things for us while she was here (despite her many protests), let alone dish out thousands for Kyle’s class. But without her help, we don’t know if we can make it happen, and that is absolutely crushing. Maybe I should put my pride aside? I don’t know.

After lunch, we headed back to Peru to do a little grocery shopping. Despite our fridge being absolutely empty, and only having $80 to buy food for the month, I found myself feeling offended when my mom offered to pay for our groceries, and turned her down yet again. She left the store to have a cigarette (she quit years ago, but started smoking again recently, and hasn’t told her boyfriend), and never came back in. Things were a bit tense between Kyle and I, as they usually get when the topic of money comes up, and we grabbed only a handful of things, like milk, bread, bagels, cheese, and bananas, to try and stay under budget. We warmed up again once we left Walmart, and headed home.

Liam had not taken a nap yet, so I put him down as soon as we walked in, and he passed right out. I put something on Netflix for us to watch, but our internet stopped working shortly after that, and despite our best efforts to revive it, I ended up having to call our internet provider, who had me do a handful of ineffective things, before informing us that there was a actually massive service outage in our area.

Fantastic.

With no internet, cable, movies, games, or really anything to do, we all just kind of sat around in silence for a bit, not knowing what to talk about. Eventually, the internet came back on, and we continued on with watching Netflix, and fiddling with our phones. Around 4:30, just about when Liam would be waking up from his nap, my mom suddenly stood up, and left, telling us to text her if we wanted to get food or something later. Sure enough, not even 10 minutes later, Liam woke up, and we texted her to come back. She hadn’t even gone back to her hotel, she had gone to the park up the street, because apparently the trees and grass are better company than we are.

We decided to go to the large, Chinese buffet in Peru, located right near her hotel, since it is a favorite spot of ours. We pigged out hard on all the delicious things, and left feeling miserable, and hating ourselves, as usual. It was delicious. Afterwards, we decided to take Liam to the mall play area to burn some energy, and tire him out, since he had taken such a late nap. When we got there, there was only one man in the play area, with four boys. We immediately hit it off with him and his sweet boys, and Liam made two friends. He was there with his wife and mother, who were across the way getting their nails done at the salon. He had a baby with him, who was just four months old, and the sweetest little thing I’ve ever seen. He made my ovaries weep, and made me crave having a tiny baby again. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

He also had a little boy who had just turned two, and another boy who was four. They were absolutely enamored with Liam, and the four year old asked me a million questions about him, and me.

“Does he like cars? What kind of car do you have? We have a Diesel truck!”
“Does he eat a lot of food?”
“Does he cry a lot? I cry a lot, and scream, because my parents irritate me.”
(LOL!)
“Does he talk a lot? My brother is two, he doesn’t talk.”
“Do you like bouncy balls?”
“Do you live here? We’re from far away. We’re driving.”

He was adorable. I sat on the floor with this stranger’s children, and my own son, and we all talked about milestones, and the joys of having boys. Their father was an absolute doll, and his words about raising his boys, and when they each started talking, walking, and getting their teeth, were so comforting to me, as I often worry about Liam hitting his milestones on time. They were such a lovely family. The four year old kept giving Liam hugs, and saying he wanted to be friends, and the two year old would walk up to me and share his bouncy balls. They were the absolute sweetest, and it was so wonderful. We talked and played for a while, before we all had to go our separate ways and head home.

Oh, I forgot to mention that right before we left the mall, my mom got a FaceTime call from her boyfriend back home (who she has been with for 20 years, but they aren’t married, so I still call him her boyfriend instead of my step-father), and we were able to introduce him to Liam and Kyle, and chat for a little while. It was nice to see him, and for him to meet the boy who is basically his grandson.

We also stopped to introduce my mom to our upstairs neighbor when we got home (the one who has helped us with many, many problems we’ve dealt with since living here), and we all chatted outside for a bit, before I insisted on going inside, since it was an hour past Liam’s bedtime. Liam was half asleep before I even put him in his crib, and I sat down with a cup of coffee, and began typing shortly after. Kyle goes back to work tomorrow, after having these last two days off, and I think I might take a day to myself to catch up on housework and cleaning, which has gone completely undone since my mom’s arrival. We’ll see.

I am also trying to arrange a nice dinner with Kyle’s mom, my mom, and Kyle, Liam, and I on Friday, since it will be my mom’s last full day in Illinois, and we really want her to meet Kyle’s mom, who is basically my second mom. It is the only day Kyle’s mom has off, though Kyle works until 6:00 that night. I’m hoping we can work something out.

Anyway! That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Cj5SbstWsAAFCZq

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

Take A Walk With Jan #8

Hello, friends! Yesterday, the weather was hovering around 67 degrees and partly cloudy for the majority of the morning and afternoon, so I decided to take Liam to the park. I wanted to let him spend as much time having fun in the sun, since he had a pretty traumatic night the previous day. He fell down while running through the kitchen, and almost bit through his lip. It was so swollen, and there was SO much blood. It was awful. He’s handling it like a champ, but I wanted to give him a really good day.

I made the mistake of wearing a long-sleeve shirt and yoga pants, both black, and started sweating just a few blocks from my apartment. As we walked, it got warmer, and sunnier, and I was very relieved to go into the shade of Subway to get some lunch to bring to the park. However, I had an absolutely bizarre experience once inside. There was a woman finishing up her order when I walked in, and I stood off to the side of where the line would be, since I wasn’t ready to order. An older women walked in behind me, and I immediately smiled and told her to go ahead of me, since I was still deciding, this is a transcript of how this ridiculousness began:

Me: Go ahead in front of me, I’m still deciding.
Woman: *Moving in front of me* Oh, thanks, but I don’t know what I want either.
Me: Oh, that’s okay!
Sandwich Artist #1: What can I make you?
W: *Staring at the menu* Uh, I don’t know… hmm… uhhh…
[4 minutes pass, while the employee and I exchange glances, wondering if this woman has fallen asleep with her eyes open. Two more people walk in and get in line behind me.]
SA #1: Ma’am? Have you decided yet?
W: If I did, you would know. *Turning to me* Bet you wish you hadn’t let me go in front of you, huh?
Me: Oh, no, it’s okay, we’re not in a rush.
W: Mmhm. Okay, well, I’m going to have a ham and cheese on white bread, American cheese.
SA #1: Do you want it toasted?
W: Did I say I wanted it toasted?
SA #1: Right, not toasted then. Any veggies?
W: Nope.
SA #1: Any sauce?
W: *Sighing dramatically* Nooope!
SA #1: Any other sandwiches for you today?
W: Oh, yeah, he’ll probably want something, too. *Turning to me again* Sorry!
Me: Yup. No problem.
W: Steak and cheese, deluxe. NOT. TOASTED. NO. VEGGIES.
SA #1: … Okay. Got it.
[At this point, SA #1 slides the sandwiches over to SA #2, who appears to be new, who is standing at the register, and tells her what they are, before turning to me to take my order. SA #2 does not appear to hear her, and asks her again what the sandwiches are. SA #1 does not hear her ask, so SA #2 just stands there, while W glares impatiently at her.]
W: Hello? How much?
SA #2: Um… what were the sandwiches?
W: Are you joking?
SA #1: *Realizes what is happening* Ham and cheese, steak and cheese deluxe.
[The woman pays, and walks away to a table to fiddle with her receipt and purse. I finish my order, and start the payment process, while the couple behind me begins their order.]
W: OH, I need two drinks with these. Hello? HELLO? I need two drinks.
[No one responds, and she does not get back in line.]
W: FINE, I guess not! I’m going to Casey’s! Bye!
[She leaves, and we all exchange WTF? glances.]

Seriously. What a bitch. Why, lady? Why? There was zero reason for any of the attitude!

Anyway, we left Subway, and headed to the park. Liam started squirming and going a bit crazy once the park came into sight, and as soon as I set him down, he ran off. We were alone at the park, and Liam took full advantage of running, climbing, and going nuts all over the playground. After just a few minutes of being there, I heard, “Mommy! Look! There’s a baby!”, and I turned around to see an adorable little boy charging the playground. He immediately ran up to us, introduced himself as Gideon, and informed me that he and his mommy saw dog poop on their way to the park.

So. Freaking. Cute.

His mom was really nice, she was around my age, maybe a few years older, and had purple streaks in her hair, and a band tee on. Gideon followed Liam around, and every time Liam stumbled, he reached out to help him up. He talked up a storm, too. Telling me about how he was three years old, and how he likes to take naps after he goes to the park, and how he wishes he could sleep at the park, because he liked it there, which made his mom and I laugh. He was the sweetest little boy, and after a very short time, Liam was running around with him and following him as well. It was really nice to see him having fun, as we really don’t get to see other parents and kids very often. At all… ever.

He also may have eaten a very small pebble… still waiting to see if that was actually a thing or not.

After a whopping hour and a half at the park, we headed to Dollar General to pick up a few things. I was sweating so bad. I also walked by a really stupid fight going on in front of the high school a few blocks from our apartment. It was nearly 70 degrees by the time I got home, half dead.

Then we napped. And it was glorious.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Take A Walk With Jan #7

Hello, friends! Yesterday was a bonus day, and Kyle got off of work 7 hours early, thanks to a conveyor belt breaking on his line, so we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather, and have a family day. After Liam woke up from his nap, and ate a yummy lunch of brown sugar squash pancakes (I’ve been slipping extra vegetables into damn near everything he eats lately), we decided to walk to the park. The weather has been in the high 50’s/low 60’s off and on this week, and yesterday was going to be the last beautiful day for a while, so we wanted to make the most of it.

We stopped at Subway to get some lunch, then walked to the park. A block away from the Subway, I saw Liam’s black and gray, striped beanie, which he lost three days ago while we were out walking, lying on the ground! I was super excited that we found it, as it is my favorite hat of his. When we got to the park, I was happy to see that there was another woman there, with two small little girls. After chatting with her for a bit, I discovered that she was their “grandmother” (long story involving the death of her son, I didn’t quite understand it all), and that the little girls were 20 months old, and 5 years old. Liam immediately adored the little girl, whose name is Jersey, and followed her all around the playground. She was a bit better on her feet than he was, since she is 7 months older than him, so he couldn’t follow her up onto the play area, or down the big slide, but he was so smitten. I found it funny that despite her being 7 months his senior, Liam was a head taller than her, and his feet were easily double the size of hers. She had the cutest little Puma sneakers on! He doesn’t very often get to see babies his age, but when he does, he comes out of his shell beautifully.

We talked to the woman and watched the kids play for a long time. She was very friendly, and introduced us to a very nice man named Big Al, who lives by the park, and was out walking his golden retriever, Dante. Liam LOVED Dante (he loves dogs), and Big Al let all the kids pat him. He was a very well-behaved dog! Liam was so talkative, and wanted to talk to everyone, including the adults, which he never does. He would run excitedly up to baby Jersey, waving his arms around, babbling up a storm. And his smile. It was so nice to see him making a friend.

Unfortunately, the older of the two girls put a bit of a damper on our playtime, as she kept pushing her baby sister away from Liam, and demanding that he not play with them, because he was a stranger. Their grandmother tried to reason with her, and I would smile and re-introduce Liam, telling her that everyone starts out as strangers, but she had some serious attitude, and was a bit mean. She actually tried to trip Liam when he was running by her on the slide, and later slid down and almost hit him when he was standing at the bottom. She glared at him the entire time, and tried to steer her sister away. I was a bit annoyed, because the grandmother was fine with them playing, and Liam and Jersey were having fun, but it wasn’t my place to correct her behavior.

After a while, we said our goodbyes, and continued our walk to the store, where we picked up some charcoal for our grill, and some yummy treats. It was starting to cut into Liam’s nap time, so we reluctantly headed home. It was so beautiful out, and sunny, and I wanted to stay outside all day! Despite being sleepy on the walk, Liam refused to take his afternoon nap, and was a fussy little dude all night, resulting in an early bedtime. I think he is finally teething again (he is 13 months, and still only has 4 teeth!), because he has been fussy, drooly, and has been biting me every chance he gets.

Overall, it was a perfect day. Kyle works a 12-hour shift today, but has the next THREE days off, which has never happened. Ever. I’m looking forward to getting out of the house some more, even though it will be really cold, and we won’t get to take our walks to the park.

Hope you’re all having a great day today! How did you all spend your extra day yesterday?!

Thanks for reading!

Jan