Mom’s Visit | Day 4

I was a bit anxious about being mostly nude around other people, but a funny, older woman put me at ease by cracking some jokes, telling me a funny story about her husband, and chatting to my little guy while I wrestled some dry clothes on him.

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

Hello, friends! Yesterday was an absolutely lovely day, despite ongoing thunderstorms and several tornado warnings for our area. We had made plans to go to the Princeton Metro Center, where there is a gym, pool, kiddie pool, etc. (similar to the YMCA), after Liam’s nap, which ran much later than usual, but we also wanted to wait for the storms to pass, so we didn’t have to drive in the rain. As I said, Liam’s nap ran pretty late, so it was nearly 2:15 when we texted my mom to let her know that we were ready to leave. Of course, she was miles away, and had just gotten her lunch, so it took her another 45 minutes to get there. We left as soon as she showed up, and drove the 30 minutes to the Metro Center. It only cost $11 for a family pass (which allows access to the gym, pool, and basically everywhere else), and it was probably the best $11 I’ve ever spent in one place.

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The larger pool area was quite busy with other families, but the kiddie/wading pool was completely empty. I had never been to this place before, and was immediately drawn to the adorable, detailed, under sea paintings that covered the wall by the kiddie pool. It was large also quite large, and there was a basket filled with various, tiny pool toys for the littles to play with. I was nervous that Liam would be upset at the water, since he had never been in a pool before, and it was a bit cooler than a bath, but after just a few minutes of nervously clinging to me, he began playing with the floating toys, and splashing around happily. He even stumbled a few times, getting chlorinated water in his face, and it didn’t bother him one bit.

Unfortunately, since we left so late, we only got an hour and a half of swim time in before we had to leave for dinner, and I honestly didn’t want to go home. Showering off in the locker room while holding a shivering toddler was quite the ordeal (my mom decided to just take off and not offer any help), and while I initially wanted to get us dressed behind the curtained area, I opted to just put my insecurities aside, and get us dressed in the locker area, like everyone else. I was a bit anxious about being mostly nude around other people, but a funny, older woman put me at ease by cracking some jokes, telling me a funny story about her husband, and chatting to my little guy while I wrestled some dry clothes on him. I honestly don’t mind being surrounded by nudity. It has never bothered me. I’ve never been the prudish or modest type, though I struggle with my own insecurities with my postpartum body, and being nude around others. I felt comfortable. Sure, there were young, fit girls in the locker room, but there were also moms, and grandmothers, of all shapes and sizes. I felt oddly comfortable.

It was empowering!

After we were all dressed and dry, we went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant near my mom’s hotel. Despite hearing great reviews, we were very disappointed with our overall experience. The staff were very friendly and attentive, but the floors were dirty, and some tables desperately needed to be wiped down. It wouldn’t have bothered me that much, except that there was only one other family there besides us, and the staff were all just standing around talking. We had no problems ordering, but when we got our food, we were surprised at the small. The prices were similar to other Mexican and Mexican-American restaurants in the area, but the portions were much smaller. We were also disappointed by the fact that Liam’s food, a grilled cheese and fries, did not get to our table until nearly 10 minutes after the rest of us had gotten our food. Kyle finished his very tiny enchilada before Liam even got his sandwich, and we were all left waiting on him. Overall, not the best experience, but the food did taste pretty good.

After dinner, we did a few laps around Target, where I saw one of my good friends, Olivia, who told me all about her new internship with a coroner’s office, and how much she was enjoying it. We also bought Liam a new swimsuit, which you will see in the next post!

All in all, it was a nice day. I had missed swimming so much, and it felt so good to be in a pool (even if it was just a kiddie pool!) after nearly 7 years. We went back again today, but you’ll have to read the next post to hear about that!

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Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

5 Pictures, 5 Stories

Immediately, I volunteered Kyle and I to help him out. We got to work, lighting 300 tea lights, balancing them on the railings, around the benches, and spelling out “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” on the dock.

Hello, friends! I know I’ve been missing a bit lately, and haven’t been able to post my daily prompts and whatnot, but I have a good excuse, I swear. Well, kind of. To be honest, the last few daily prompts have been hard for me. I honestly haven’t been able to write anything on them. I couldn’t even think up a silly haiku in place of a blog post. I did manage to write out a couple of dream journal posts, but not much else. My son has also been going through a very clingy phase as of late, and I’ve barely been able to sit at my computer. I even spend most of his naps napping, because I’ve been exhausted lately. Ugh.

Anyway, I wanted to do something fun, and share a few random pictures with you guys, as well as some stories associated with them. I dug through my Facebook albums, and found some good ones to share, so here we go! 5 Pictures, 5 Stories!

1. The Ring
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On February 28, 2014, after a delicious dinner, Kyle and I went for a late-night walk around our favorite lake. It had been snowing for the last week, and there was thick, frozen snow on the ground, making it impossible to really walk. Kyle kept leading me towards this tiny fishing dock, where he and I would sometimes sit when the weather was warm. In the distance, we could see a young man already on the dock, lighting what appeared to be candles. Kyle and I walked over, and asked him what he was doing out on the lake, in the dark, wearing a suit, and lighting candles. He informed us that it was his girlfriend’s birthday, and that her mother was out driving her around, because he was planning to propose to her… but he needed to light 300 tea lights, and was having a hard time with the wind.

Immediately, I volunteered Kyle and I to help him out. We got to work, lighting 300 tea lights, balancing them on the railings, around the benches, and spelling out “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” on the dock. Kyle even had to make a run to the store to buy another lighter, once the one the guy had stopped working. The end result was beautiful (I took pictures), and we got to stick around to watch the proposal. After it was done, we talked a little bit, before parting ways. As soon as we got in the car, Kyle informed me that he had brought me there to propose to me, and that he was disappointed now, because it was ruined. I laughed, because I had already figured that out. Determined to still propose, we drove to another park in town, where he awkwardly dragged me to the gazebo, and attempted to propose. I couldn’t stop laughing. He gave up on the speech, and we kissed, and he put the ring on my finger. Sappy speeches are not his thing, and it was a perfect proposal anyway. That was two years ago today, and we are now friends with that other couple! Happy birthday, Kelsey! 😉

2. Boys and Girls Club
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One of my favorite things about working at Target was how often we had the change to volunteer. Over the course of just one year, I volunteered at a homeless shelter making meals, at a daycare center reading books, and my favorite, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Peoria. This was an amazing experience. The Boys and Girls Club that we went to was one of two in the area, as the cities are divided by east and west, and was located in a low income neighborhood, across from a school. We brought in new games for their game room, cleaned out the old games, painted walls, weeded and cleaned up their garden, and did crafts with the children once they got out of school.

I really wanted to do this because we did not have a Boys and Girls Club in my hometown, but we did have an after school program called Kids Out, which was for lower income kids, or kids who didn’t have anywhere to go after school. I went to this program for 3 years, and the counselors and volunteers were great. I was thankful to be able to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, and was so proud to be a part of something great, even if just for one day.

3. Hiking With Friends
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In June 2014, my good friend Corey came to visit Kyle and I. It was my first time meeting him in person, but we had been friends via World of Warcraft, my podcast, Twitter, and Facebook, for a long time, and he was one of my closest friends (still is, don’t worry!). We decided to all go to Starved Rock State Park and go hiking, despite the fact that NONE of us were dressed for hiking, or for the heat. I was wearing jeans and sandals for crying out loud! It was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to take my son there when it gets warmer. Corey took this amazing picture of me taking a picture of a mama deer. You can see one of her two babies off to the left. It was such a fun day! He also took a picture of Kyle and I by the waterfall, which is one of my favorite pictures of us. I was also pregnant with a tiny Liam during this time!

4. The Ginger Kittens
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In 2009, a little while after my ex and I started dating, I decided that I wanted to adopt a cat. I had had always had cats throughout my entire life, and it felt odd not having one now that I was an adult, living on my own. We went to an adoption event at a PetSmart, and fell in love with two, ginger kittens. I decided immediately that I wanted them both, if possible. We had enough to cover the fees for both kittens, and sat down with one of the employees, and began the paperwork process. We finished all of the paperwork, handed it over for them to look at, and went over to play with the little babies. A few minutes later, the woman came back, and informed us that we needed to be 21 or older to adopt. I was crushed. I had the female kitten in my arms, and had already fallen in love with her. As we put them back into the cage, and walked away, they climbed up their cage door and meowed loudly. I cried in the car on the way home.

A few months later, I bought my tuxedo baby girl, Jade, from a pet store (yes, this was before I knew better than to buy from a pet store). I had Jade until November 2014, when I was forced to re-home her with a friend, after struggling to find an apartment where we could all live. I cried for weeks, but I had no other choice. We have no animals now, as they are not allowed in our building, but I hope that we can bring another furbaby into our home in the future.

5. Out of the Darkness1383626_10200935288763954_1702612861_n

In October 2013, Kyle and I walked in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Walk for Suicide Prevention. The previous year, a classmate of his had committed suicide, and we made Team Dallas t-shirts, and walked in his memory, as well as the memories of others in our lives who had been touched by the tragedies of suicide. Myself included. I’ve written a bit about it in the past here, but I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, as well as self-harm, since middle school. I tried to take my own life twice, and was, thankfully, unsuccessful both times. At the time this picture was taken, it had been 6 months and 2 days since the last time that I self-harmed, and I am proud to say that I never self-harmed again after that. It was an amazing experience, and I met so many wonderful people, who were all there to celebrate the lives of the loved ones that they had lost. I was unable to participate in 2014 or 2015, but I hope to participate again this year, with the people that I love, who have kept me grounded, and saved my life.

Thank you for reading, friends. I’ll post another one of these in the future if people enjoyed reading it.

Jan

Dream Journal 1/25/16

Present day.

Kyle, Liam, and I were shopping at Target. Our cart was piled high with toys, and topped with a few frozen pizzas, and a bottle of juice. We walked to the front of the store, and walked out the front door without paying for anything in our cart. Dozens of others were also leaving with carts filled with merchandise that wasn’t paid for. No one noticed.

As we drove home, the roads were lined with people carrying comically large cardboard boxes, all staring and waving at us as we passed by. The closer we got to our apartment, the more people there were, crowding the sidewalks and streets. As we pulled into our driveway, we were shocked to see that all the people with cardboard boxes were gathered on our lawn. As we rushed to push through the crowd to get inside, they started taking  wrapped gifts from the boxes, in all different shapes and sizes. In unison, they started singing Happy Birthday to Liam.

We quickly shut our door, shutting them out, and turned to see that our living room and kitchen were piled from floor to ceiling with boxes and presents. I picked up my phone and called 9-1-1, but the officer laughed at me, telling me to be grateful that so many people would give us gifts for our son, but I was too freaked out to be thankful.

The officer hung up on me, and Kyle and I started boarding up our windows, trying to block out the many strangers still standing on our lawn, and their singing.

And then I woke up.