Mom’s Visit | The Final Day

Liam was barefoot, and as I placed him down on the grass, I remembered that he has never walked barefoot on grass, or sand. It only took him a few minutes of funny walking to get used to the it, and enjoy it… but he definitely did not care for the feeling of sand between his toes.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, and Day 6 here.]

Hello, friends. Yesterday was my mom’s final day visiting with us, though her plane doesn’t actually leave Illinois for another 3 hours or so. It was a very mixed day. I felt really on edge, and anxious, from the time I woke up, to the moment we said our goodbyes. I tried so hard to make it a good day, but it felt like my mom and I were butting heads more often than not, and it created a lot of tension.

Kyle worked from 10-6 yesterday, so it was another day of just my mom, Liam, and I. Liam has been in quite the mood for the last couple days, including yesterday, which resulted in an early nap, which I was hoping to avoid doing, since we were going out to eat that night, and I didn’t want him being fussy. Ah, life with toddlers. Everything revolves around them.

My mom came over just after lunch, and we left in search of local garage sales, since there are signs littering the entire town. After over an hour of driving around, which was pretty quiet and uneventful, and not seeing anything of interest, we decided to drive to the mall so that Liam could play a bit before dinner. I stopped by Sears to see Kyle, but was told that he had just gone to lunch. I asked his co-worker if she could get him for me really quickly, as there wasn’t a single person in the store, and she was just standing at the register, but she told me she wasn’t allowed to (which is bullshit). Since I don’t have minutes on my phone, I couldn’t text him to tell him we were there, so we left, and hoped that he would be there when we came back through.

My mom bought me a late lunch at my favorite spot in the mall, and I shared a delicious, pretzel bread turkey sandwich with Liam, who already eaten lunch, but always insists on eating everything in sight. We also went into Maurice’s to scope out the huge clearance sale they were having. My mom tried to buy me every single article of clothing that I touched, not I kept telling her not to. She was not happy about that.

When we got to the play area, it was empty. I ran around with Liam for a while, but he was being naughty, and kept running out into the open mall, and I had to chase after him. There is a ramp and some stairs right outside of the play area, and he always runs toward them, which is frustrating and exhausting. My mom sat at the opposite end of the play area, taking videos and pictures the entire time. As we were going to leave, I asked her if I could see them to send some to myself, but she told me that she had deleted all of them, because none came out.

Well, okay then…

We left the play area, and my mom insisted on going into the mall bookstore to look at children’s books and puzzles for Liam. I saw so many books that I wanted to get for him, but I let my pride and my bad attitude take charge, and wouldn’t let my mom get any of them for him.

I don’t know why. I really don’t. I wanted them, he wanted them, and she wanted to buy them. I said no. What is wrong with me? Ugh.

I headed to the bathroom to change Liam, and my mom disappeared. When I came out, I was stopped by a young couple with a tiny baby, and we chatted a bit about babies and whatnot, before I went back to Sears. Luckily, Kyle was there this time, and he gave me the details on our dinner plans for the night. We were to meet his mom and step father at Applebee’s at 5:30, which was an hour from that point, and then he would be meeting us there at 6:00, after he got off work. I gave him a hug and kiss, and he got some cuddles from Liam, and I went back out to meet my mom and let her know what was happening.

Since we had an hour to kill, we decided to head to a local park that I had been to before, but had never visited the playground. It is a massive plot of land, with a cute lake, a bunch of walking trails, and a large playground, lined with sand, and surrounded by grass and trees. It is a beautiful park, and I wish we lived closer. Liam was barefoot, and as I placed him down on the grass, I remembered that he has never walked barefoot on grass, or sand. It only took him a few minutes of funny walking to get used to the it, and enjoy it… but he definitely did not care for the feeling of sand between his toes. It was funny.

There was another mom there, and she had two little ones with her, a toddler boy, and a tiny infant. Her son was about 2.5, and he watched us closely from the picnic area while Liam was on the swing. My mom sat herself beneath a tree, and watched us from a distance. She didn’t have much interest in playing until the end of our playground adventure. After nearly 15 minutes on the swing, we decided to explore the rest of the large playground, and the other little boy joined us! Rather than telling you about it, here are some pictures I took!

So that was fun!

We left the park around 5:20 and headed to meet Kyle’s mom and step father at Applebee’s. They were already there when we pulled up, and we sat in a large corner booth, and ordered our appetizers and entrees without Kyle, since he would be joining us a bit later. I ordered the Southwest Steak and Black Bean Soup, as well as the Crispy Cheddar Bacon Potatoes, for myself, and the kid’s Chicken Grillers and broccoli for Liam. It was all super delicious. I forget what Kyle’s meal was called, I think it was one of those “Build Your Own” things, but he got sweet potato fries, a steak, and some seriously amazing looking mac ‘n cheese.

It was a nice dinner. My mom and Candace politely went back and forth over who would pay the bill, as I expected, but they settled on splitting it evenly, which I also expected. We then gathered in the parking lot to put Liam’s car seat back into our Lincoln (it’s been in my mom’s rental all week), chat about some upcoming family events, and say our goodbyes.

There were hugs, and thank yous, and my mom cried.

And then it was over. She leaves tonight, and though her plane doesn’t leave for 3 hours still, and she has been sitting at the airport for 2 hours, she did not want to come by today. I’m okay with that. I had a nice week, and it was honestly good to see her, and for her to meet Liam, but I am completely drained. I don’t know when I will see her again, but I do know that I am happy to have things go back to normal around here. We definitely work better with a thousand, or more, miles between us.

I have a few other blogs I need to write, but I don’t know when that will happen. I need rest. I need to recharge.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

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

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

Egg-less, Oil-less, Boxed Cake Recipe

Hello, friends! Today is Liam’s first birthday! In honor of this momentous day in our lives, I decided to write a post about Liam’s birth story, which you can read (if you want, it is a birth story after all) by clicking here.

We quietly celebrated this special day yesterday, since Kyle is working all weekend. Unfortunately, Kyle’s mother was also working, so we celebrated at home, with just the three of us. We started the day off with blueberry birthday pancakes, which were a hit, but the real treat of the day was Liam’s birthday cake!

Well… cupcake, that is.

Liam doesn’t have any allergies to eggs or anything, but I still wanted to find a cake recipe that was a little bit on the healthier side. I also don’t bake, and couldn’t really afford to go out and buy a bunch of baking supplies and ingredients, that I will never use up. After hunting around online, I managed to stumble across a “healthier boxed cake” recipe, from the Dr. Oz Show, and decided to go with a boxed chocolate cake recipe (because it had the lowest calorie count and sugar content, surprisingly), though I did have to tweak it a bit.

The recipe reads as follows:

  • 1 package cake mix
  • 1/2 – 1 banana, mashed
  • 3/4 – 1 1/12 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • water (amount not specified)1. Just use a normal chocolate boxed cake mix (that calls for you to add water, egg, and oil), but make the following substitutes:
  • Instead of egg, use a mashed banana (1/2 banana per egg).
  • Instead of oil, use 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt per cup of oil.

2. Then follow the instructions on the box to finish making          the cake.

Now, I ended up using the recommended amount of bananas, but needed DOUBLE the amount of Greek yogurt (my recipe called for 1/2 cup of oil, but I used about 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt). Since the amount of water wasn’t specified, I used only 1/4 of a cup, but I probably could have used a bit more. I also added a bit of cinnamon to the mix, since I planned to top it with cinnamon graham cracker crumbles. It was very difficult to mix by hand, and the batter was very thick and sticky. This also made it quite difficult (and messy) to put into the cupcake liners. Usually when I bake cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc. the cooking time is fairly accurate, but I needed to take these out about 3-4 minutes earlier than called for, and they still felt slightly overcooked.

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They smelled amazing, and the batter (which I shamelessly ate from the bowl) was delicious. However, it ended up not making 2 dozen, which it should have. We ended up with 16 total cupcakes, and they were yummy! The bottoms did end up being slightly overcooked, but the cake itself was surprisingly moist, all things considered. The banana and chocolate combination was really tasty, and reminded me of banana bread, or even cocoa zucchini bread, both of which I love!

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I topped Liam’s birthday cupcake with whipped cream, instead of icing, cinnamon graham cracker crumbles, and a blueberry. His favorite part was the whipped cream and graham crackers, but he did finish the entire thing! He didn’t care for the blueberries, however, which were still slightly bitter and firm (which is how I like them). But overall, as you can see, he loved it!

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I’ve also been snacking on the cupcakes, and love them! They are slightly better for you, as far as boxed cake mixes go, and are a good alternative for moms who can’t bake, or don’t want to waste baking ingredients that they may never use, and kiddies with allergies. I recommend!

Thank you for reading, friends!

Jan