July 4th

July 4th

Our fourth of July was rainy and dreary. It was kind of a depressing way to celebrate independence, but then again, the weather was probably a lot more true to the trials and tribulations our forefathers went through to get us there (not to mention the many who died in the pursuit of such freedoms!)

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It was also our first official day back after Key West, so we were pretty “hung over” from traveling almost all day the day before. We chilled out at home and bought some fireworks which were marked down from a tent just outside the grocery store. It wasn’t our intention–we simply went for groceries–but then we saw the tent and it was on! Mortars are legal for us now, but we didn’t buy any.

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Evangeline was enamored with the sparklers. I loved sparklers as a kid and we never really considered how dangerous they were, haha. They burn really hot, so you definitely don’t want to touch them. We kept a close eye on her while we had one, holding onto her arm so she didn’t try to touch it.

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She was not, however, a fan of the bigger fireworks. All the loud bangs, pops, cracks, and definitely the whistles had her screaming in terror. It was hard not to laugh. I tried comforting her and holding her, but she didn’t care one bit. We had some pretty impressive bundles that shot off smaller mortars. I loved them, Evangeline did not.

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I was just thankful we had a brief reprieve from the rain so that we could do this. It had just finished a downpour about ten minutes before we set off any fireworks! It’s been years and years, probably an entire decade, even, since I’ve really had any up-close experience with fireworks. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a show.

It’s really fun experiencing these things again with Evangeline. I love watching her face when she’s going through something new and exciting. As much as I hate to see her grow, I’m happy I get to see the world through her eyes a little. It’s like throwing a fresh coat of paint on something new.

Key West 2016

Key West 2016

We had a lot of fun in Key West this year! It was leaps and bounds better than October, which we certainly enjoyed. Evangeline was better able to get into the spirit of it this trip, though. She absolutely loved it! Every morning, she wanted to go out and about. Actually, she wanted to be out and about pretty much the entire time.

Our trip started off pretty rocky. We had delayed flights and maintenance issues on both legs of the trip, which made us arrive a lot later than we were supposed to. We arrived at the airport in Key West around 7 or so when our original arrival time was around 3 or 4, if I remember correctly. It was rough. We’d been going since around 10 that morning! Evangeline was quite a trooper, though. Everyone was impressed with how well-behaved she was for a toddler who had just had enough.

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We arrived, we ate, we swam, and then we promptly passed out. The in-laws were nice enough to not only keep Evangeline in their room, but they even gave us the big room! It was awesome. We got to sleep in and just enjoy a level of privacy we don’t really get anymore. It was truly a vacation this time.

Our first day was pretty low-key. The husband and I had lunch at our favorite Cuban place. We hung around the condo, still pretty worn out from our previous day of travel. We swam and did explored a little bit with Evangeline.

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Tuesday was a pretty lax day, as well. The husband and his dad went on an all day fishing excursion, leaving us ladies to our own devices. It was ridiculously hot and humid, so we mostly hung around the condo. We got some photos with Evangeline and swam a bit. By the time we got her to nap, it was pretty late in the day. We had expected the guys home around five, but they ended up catching so many fish that it took them until around six to get back. The husband and I packed up Evangeline and headed down to Duval. She was pretty done at this point, but we got in some sight-seeing and she enjoyed it before she became overtired.

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Wednesday was our ‘let’s do a bunch of cool stuff for Evangeline’ day. We set out early and took her to the aquarium, which she loved! We dropped by Build-A-Bear and she got her very first thing there, Skye from Paw Patrol. It was incredibly humid, so we headed back to the condo and played in the pool until it was time for the sunset festival. We took Evangeline down and she loved it. She ended up being up quite late, but a good time was had by all.

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Thursday was another pretty packed day. The in-laws went to the beach early and then came back to pick us up after Evangeline’s nap. She ended up napping until 3, which is when we finally tried waking her up. By 3:30, we were at the beach. She hated the sand! Every time she touched it, she cried. She loved the ocean, though! The sun is pretty intense down there, so she was only in the ocean here and there. We sat under the umbrella and watched the seagulls. We left around five because the husband and I had a sunset sail scheduled. It was awesome. Afterwards, we went and had our yearly anniversary dinner at our favorite Cuban place. We love the food, the atmosphere, and the live music! We came back to the condo and did some late night swimming.

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Friday we went to my favorite place on the island–the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Evangeline was amazed. When we took her as a baby, she found it interesting, but this time… she just seemed to be in awe. She said, in hushed amazement, “butterbye…” It was too cute. She loved the flamingos that they had and one even came right up to her and said hi! The husband ended up taking her through a second time while I trolled through the gift shop and picked up a few things.

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She also had her first taste of candy and Key Lime pie. She wasn’t very impressed with the pie, haha. We had swam randomly throughout the week and she was really beginning to warm up to it. By this day, she was jumping in and getting really brave. She’s still not ready to go underwater or anything, but I’m just so happy she’s excited about it now! We went to our Cuban place again. The in-laws took Evangeline to the sunset festival and then ended up coming by so Evangeline could enjoy the music. She loved it and even danced a little!

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Saturday was our last day there and we did a little of everything. The husband and I trekked out fairly early to enjoy breakfast at our favorite French Bakery. It was amazing. There was also lot of swimming! We went to the pricey seafood place and then hung around the docks in the evening. Evangeline loved feeding the fish! The in-laws went to the sunset festival on their own while we started packing up with Evangeline running around like a crazy person.

The next morning, it was loading everything up so the father-in-law could drop us off at the airport. Our flight left around 11:30. He dropped us off a little after ten. We hung out in the airport and had some fun before boarding the plane. We had a very tight time between flights, but we made it with time to spare, thankfully! Once home, we ate some Panera, collapsed into our doorway, and rested up. Phew. It was a long, eventful week. It took Evangeline a lot of time to recover, haha, she had so much fun!

It definitely took her mind off weaning, which we’ve started. We’re now down to one nursing session a day! I’m trying to look at the positives so I don’t get too sad about it…

Summer Begins!

Summer Begins!

We’re in the full swing of Summer around here after some dismal weather. Evenings spent eating dinner and chilling on the deck, lots of water stuff, and a lot of time outdoors after we get home from work. Evangeline loves being outside and she doesn’t care how hot it is.

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We finally got some pool time in, too. At first, she was not a fan but she warmed up to it gradually. She’s certainly nowhere near as accepting as she was a year ago at this time… but we’ll get there. I’ll make a water baby of her yet! I don’t think it’s possible for me to give birth to someone who dislikes water.

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Father’s Day was pretty chill. We spent the day with his grandparents in Parkersburg because it was his grandmother’s birthday. There’s a long path into the woods behind their house, which was perfect for photos! I can’t wait to get my new camera. I’m super excited. I got some decent photos of Evangeline and the husband, though.

The day went without drama until we contacted his maternal grandma to visit. She was being dramatic and we didn’t end up seeing her, which bummed out my husband. His family doesn’t have near the mental dysfunction that mine does, but they can still be Grade A assholes sometimes.

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We got our photos done the week before, as well, finally! We’ve only got the teasers so far, but they’re fabulous and I’m so happy with what I’ve seen so far. Our photographer does such a wonderful job! She’s definitely got a client for life, haha.

We had to wade through a waist-high meadow to get some of the shots, but that’s okay. Evangeline found a puddle in our second location and she played in that… while wearing all white. I didn’t have a panic attack, amazingly. I can ‘let loose’ sometimes.

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Every day I feel like Evangeline’s personality is becoming more and more apparent. She’s regressing a bit with her talking and behaviors, but I think that’s due to me trying to urge her to wean. I’ve stopped the after-work nursing and now only nurse her when she requests it before bed. She’s handling it better than I thought she would… she’s been doing a fantastic job weaning herself, but I want to get off the mini-pill ASAP as I’m having complications, so I’d like to wean her within the next two months if possible… I’m not going to force it, though. I don’t want her to be too upset and view it as some sort of traumatic loss.

She went through a bully phase at daycare, but that seems to have ended… Thank God. She’s always surprising me with the things she does and says. Her dance moves are pretty priceless, too. Even on the trying days–and right now, there are a lot of them–I have a hard time remembering what life was before her or how anything even mattered. It’s as if the world before was in black and white and now it’s filled with bright, magnificent colors.

She’s strong-willed and stubborn; passionate and fiery. She’s all of the things that make a person so difficult sometimes, but it’s also going to help her so much in life if she can learn to temper and master it. Her emotions will run so deep and so strong, but she’ll care and love so deeply. Her will and her might will make her a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t have to worry about life getting her down. She’s strong and amazing already. I can only imagine the things she’ll be capable of some day… and she’s still growing and learning. There’s so much she has yet to reveal to us.

Growing Pains

Growing Pains

I keep telling myself that I’m going to be more consistent, that I’m going to do a better job at keeping up with this… and then I fail miserably. It sucks, because this is just such a perfect way to encapsulate everything that’s going on in a moment or a period of time–my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Sigh. At least I try.

Evangeline is nearly 19 months old and I’m left wondering where time went.

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She is an absolute chatterbox now with new words almost every day. She says “umbrella” alongside silly things like “dog-dog” instead of just plain old dog. It’s fun getting to know the little habits and ticks she’s developing as we watch her personality grow and come into its own.

She’s quick-tempered, stubborn, and willful; yet also compassionate, passionate, curious, and deeply observant. We struggle sometimes with bad behaviors she picks up from daycare, but at her core, she is a fantastic little girl. Watching her grow up is going to be like watching a storm build and gather all of its might. Much like a storm unleashing its will upon the world, so will Evangeline when she is finally cut loose.

IMG_3673 I feel like this time we have with her is desperately fleeting, that she is a force to be reckoned with and that this fierce independence she already has will only grow and blossom as time moves forward. She will leave, most assuredly, and she will endeavor in whatever it is she decides to do.

It’s an emotional thing and I’m fiercely protective of her because of it. Like any flame, it can be snuffed out or diverted, turned from a triumphant, glorious bonfire in the night to a burning inferno swallowing everything in its path. She will face her own hardships and some of those will come from within her, but they will not be the same ones that I faced, this is promise both her and myself.

It’s hard to be a parent, but it’s significantly more difficult when you struggle with your “own stuff”… and I mean that in that your brain isn’t wired correctly or you’ve suffered traumas that make it difficult for you to pretend that you’re normal. I try and try, but I know that it’s a lie and that someday, she will see through the facade. I just hope that when she does, she’s prepared for it.

Even though my family is toxic, we’ve been trying to ensure that she is aware of most–if not all–of her family members. My mother, of course, is currently excluded because she is untrustworthy and exceptionally manipulative in that way that narcissists tend to be… but the rest, they are safe enough… for now.

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Before we visited them on Memorial Day, we went to the Relay for Life. It was a small affair this time, as they decided to schedule it much earlier than the usual June date. It was in May and in a small auditorium because of rain. That’s what happens when you move the date. The event itself was a bit of a mess, but our baby girl got to walk with her daddy, who is a thirty year survivor of leukemia and that’s honestly all that mattered. She also danced with her grandpa. She had a lot of fun… before coming down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.

That was an event. Poor thing was so sick! But she recovered quickly and though my sick time at work suffered, she’s much better now.

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We’re all excited for summer and for everything that it entails–backyard shenanigans, swimming, grilling out… but it’s a slow process. The weather is pretty crazy right now and Evangeline’s suddenly not so sure about water that’s not warm like a bath tub!

It kind of sucked that we were away during Memorial Day weekend, as it was beautiful and perfect here… but we stayed with my dad and his wife this time and that was a lot of fun. Certainly a lot less stressful. He’s on his antibiotic IV for his assumed osteomyelitis so that wasn’t great but it certainly brought a smile to his face to spend time with Evangeline!

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We grilled out, he spent mornings playing with her while I got to sleep in, and everything on that end went perfectly. We had a lot of fun there and I look forward to staying with them again. They even bought Evangeline a swing set, which she absolutely adored! Her favorite part was the seesaw.

Unfortunately, the other side of my family was bitter and accusatory. We surprised my grandparents because we didn’t want them to know we were coming and tell my mother. We were not there five seconds and they were jumping on me about my mum and saying some pretty hurtful and mean things… all in front of their great-granddaughter. She was mostly ignored while they read me the riot act in how I was ‘treating’ my mother. I felt trapped and annoyed, but I stuck to it. My husband saw my grandmother’s ability to be downright hateful for the first time. We only stayed about an hour before leaving.

When we visited the next day, my mum ‘unexpectedly’ came in and walked over and hugged me. I did not hug her back. I barely spoke to her. My grandparents nodded and smiled, convinced everything was back to normal while my husband boiled with anger on the opposite side of the room. We dealt with my mother, who was convinced the same as my grandparents. She even had the nerve to corner me and say that ‘this’ wasn’t helping her and some other bullshit I blocked out. We got out of there and did not go back, not even to say goodbye.

I’m honestly not sure if I’ll ever go back. Kind of a bleak thought. I might never see my grandparents house again until they’re dead.

It’s a difficult time for me right now. I’ll write happier things later.

Never Enough Time…

Never Enough Time...

It really sucks. I feel like I’m constantly out of time! Weeks fly by now. Having a toddler is like putting your world into permanent fast-forward. I need time to slow down, just a little. It’s like getting swept up into a whirlwind and you can’t escape. I’m running out of breath!

IMG_3558Evangeline is into everything and her attitude lately is abysmal. I’m sure it’s just a mental leap she’s going through, but the transition at daycare hasn’t been going great, either. Her primary care teacher retired and left before she moved to the next room… filled with much older kids. So, she’s been stuck with people who know nothing about her and in a place where biting is normal. She’s bit, scratched, and been bitten. It’s been kind of awful. She’s usually quite cranky and difficult to deal with. I hate it, it makes me so sad.

On the rare chance that she’s in a good mood, she’s chattering away. She says tons of words now and loves trying to repeat what we say. She’s learned to blow bubbles and absolutely loves being outside. It’s so fun watching her discover the world, I just wish she were in a better mood 80% of the time…

IMG_3606I’m trying to be patient, but it’s hard. I’m going through hell right now. I’m doing it so it won’t hurt Evangeline in the long run, but I’m running into the issue of it possibly messing with her now. There’s nothing to be done for it, though. My family sucks, plain and simple. I won’t have their toxicity touching my daughter. I’ll light the damn world on fire before one single thing that I was forced to endure at too young an age gets thrust carelessly upon her. She will have her own demons to battle, I’m sure, but they’ll not be any I faced if I can help it.

I know that I need to take care of myself and I’m trying. We’re working out again, I went to a doctor, I’m trying to sort of not stress out so bad… but it’s difficult. My situation is not enviable. How do you cut off a metaphorical limb? It’s hard. Most of the time I just want to curl up and cry. I’m tired of everything being so damned hard.

Evangeline fell asleep on me tonight after crying for almost an hour. She refused to eat dinner and was terribly fussy. I had to stop eating and hold her. I forced her into a bath so that I could scrub the sunscreen off of her. She cried and cried. I dried her off, dressed her, and then held her. She quieted and fell asleep on me. It’s the first time she’s fallen asleep on me in ages. I held her for quite awhile before putting her in her crib.

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This sweet little thing deserves so much better. She deserves more patience, understanding, nurturing… all things I’m trying desperately to give, but I know I’m failing. I’m falling short. That realization alone enrages me. I’d be able to give so much more if the people in my life weren’t such ignorant sacks of useless crap. My family does not nurture, it destroys. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. I’m sick of it. I’m done with it.

Seeing my daughter’s beautiful face juxtaposed with the reality that perhaps Christmas was the last time I will ever see my grandparents alive is difficult. All of this because one person cannot stop making stupid decisions. I’m tired of my world revolving around the whims of an alcoholic. Done.

It will get better. Evangeline’s difficult period is a necessary part of her development and I’m not upset or angry about it… I’m just sad. Sad because I can’t be the parent she needs because I’m trying to protect her future. What is truly right in this situation? To be present 100% and allow her to be tainted, or to pull back and protect her from what will undoubtedly affect her forever? I’d like to think the bigger picture is more important… at least I know where that road leads.

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So many decisions, so many possibilities… whatever it takes, she’ll be okay.