Author Archives: Jill

Writing to Perfection


I have had an interesting summer so far. Lots of “free” time – meaning, lots of time to play with Finn. Not a lot of time to do the things that I had hoped I would be able to do like help my mom clean and organize her house or purge everything from me and the Count’s room. Finn isn’t the type of kid who will play by himself for an hour and let you get things done. He’s constantly in your space and wants to play with you non-stop. So, we do. Mostly. Or we go places. Which has been great. I feel like I have given him a truly great summer. Sure, there are days where I feel like a really shitty mom because we literally watch TV all day, but then I try to balance it out by taking him to a museum the next day. Life is a game of give and take. Something like that. I am definitely getting better and better at this “Mom” gig – always wondering how I can do better and how I can give him more.

I’ve also wanted to sit down and write and update my blog so many times. I thought that this would be the summer that I really blogged consistently and meaningful. Found my voice. Found my rhythm. Finally found what it is I wanted to say and share with the world. However, all too many times I’ve stared at a blank page because I feel like I have just too much to say or I have nothing to say at all and a total of zero people who actually care about it, other than myself for posterity’s sake. So, instead I let my brain go to mush on Netflix night after night. I’ve caught up on almost all of my shows and am back to trying to finish Gilmore Girls. This was also going to be the summer that I read “all the classics”. Haha. Wishful thinking. My Brit Lit professor last semester (who, by the way, convinced me to change my major from Secondary Ed to just straight English) gave me a list of all the greats I had to read. Needless to say, I failed miserably and I don’t see that changing before the summer is over.

However, here I am. One thing I learned from one of my writing classes last semester is that the important this is just to write. Don’t think about the content, the technical aspects, the audience, or anything else — just write. So, I am. When I can. Sometimes that is literally in the “Notes” app of my phone while watching a children’s program with Finn while annoyingly tapping with one finger at a time. Other times it’s while “watching” something on Netflix, aka it’s minimized on my screen while I write which the Count finds really really weird. But mostly it’s just in my head or out loud in the car – Finn really likes that! One thing’s for sure… you definitely haven’t heard the last of my rambling brain no matter how long in between posts it is. :)

Parenting in Public


I’ve come to the realization that I am never going to be this perfectly calm, collected, and put together mom. Or wife, or daughter, or *person* for that matter. That just isn’t me. I have this tendency to wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’ll share them with anybody whether they want me to or not, admittedly. Yes, I’m a bit of an over-sharer. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram- you already know this. I think about this a lot and sometimes I’ll try to change that and post less, but what it always comes back to for me is that I just like to share. If I get rid of Facebook for a month, I miss that aspect of my life for some reason. So, I’ve just come to accept it and instead decided that to those who don’t like it… don’t belong in my inner circle. I’ve carefully curated my “friends” list to under 100, because really… I don’t have 100 friends and once it starts creeping up there I have to go through and be really selective about who I want to share my life with once again.

But where was I going with this? Oh yes. Disneyland. Oh I didn’t already explain that? Okay, well let me get there. We went on a fantastic family trip to Disneyland a couple weeks ago and as an added bonus we got to also go with some of our best friends and their families! It was great. However, I was a hot mess at times. I would be *that* mom with the kid who wasn’t listening and because I had to be left with my kid while The Count went on a ride with his buddies (and totally vice versa of course), sometimes I’d freak out a little. I think I’ve mentioned a few times here that because of my different health issues I haven’t been the most “traditional” mom (what’s that anyways?) from the get-go with taking Finn in public places and bearing that responsibility on my own, so it is still, believe it or not, a challenge 3 years later. Anyways, only a few times Finn had a meltdown and of course it was when I was alone and I felt like I looked like the one mom of our group with the one out of control child and my embarrassment and anger would creep up and then my resentment towards The Count for being gone would take hold and I’d start to lose it in my mind and then take it out on Finn and *especially* The Count (bless his heart).

Where I’m going with this is that I never realized that I’d be judged for it. I felt like a shitty mom, trust me, I did. But I always had hoped that other people were more understanding. There was only one glimpse of this but it was enough to rattle my cage. At one point one of our friends (who I love more than anything and is in my top 5 of people who I love most on this earth, for reals) was going to go on one of the big rides with the guys and leave the three young kiddos with me and our other friend and I remember there being talk about leaving the two of us with three kids and it possibly being too much when one said to the other, “Oh I know *you’ll* be fine…” Needless to say, she didn’t end up going. It made me feel kind of sad. I wondered if she thought I just couldn’t handle anything more than my own, couldn’t be trusted, or am I just too paranoid and she was just trying to be considerate of the tantrum that my own son had just had and didn’t want to leave us stranded with three in case that happened again? Am I just overthinking this? Of course the Count says I am.

But I still wonder because I know I complain a lot about Finn’s little tantrums or if I have a hard day with him and maybe I’ve just given off this impression that I am this crazy mother that can’t handle my own kid, let alone any others and is ready to fly off the handle at any given moment? Have I been too trusting with my own feelings? Have I been too open with what goes on in my life? Maybe it’s not best to be an open book, even though I always thought it was. No secrets. Nothing to hide. This is me. This is who I am. And this is what you get. Then I start to think… I’m probably not the first person people turn to to watch their kid. Well how can they? I don’t even have my own place. For now. Then my thoughts turn to self pity and we go down a darker road that I’ll save for another post on another day when I’m feeling like dredging myself completely through the mud.

Bottom line, I’m a good mom. I’m a great mom. I know I am. I’m still learning how to handle temper tantrums in the privacy of my own home, let alone in public. My child is special and unique and not like any other. They all are. There’s no book that I can read that will tell me how to handle him in tough situations. Or he, me! I guess I really shouldn’t care what other people think about me or my parenting or my or my son’s temper tantrums because we’re both still learning and that’s not going to change for a very long time. Or ever.

This party just keeps on going…


I’m sorry… I’m still beaming. It just won’t stop! Dan’s graduation is over but the impact it left upon us is infinite. One thing that the speaker said that really resonated with both of us was how much this accomplishment is a foundation – a seed for the future. He talked about how important first generation graduates are for future generations and while Dan isn’t a first generation graduate (his dad had his Bachelors degree), he is definitely a testimony of that seed. His dad got his degree later in life and that was one of his only wishes for his sons before he died: that they finish their college education. When he died over 10 years ago, that felt so out of reach with all of the hurdles that needed to be overcome first, but both of Brian’s sons did get their degrees. And when the speaker talked about the likelihood of future generations going on to college because of this degree, it was like he was talking about our family— I was seeing this in action. And now hopefully this will mean a better life for Finn and on and on and on. Anyways, that’s all for tonight, but I’m sure not ever. :)

He Did It!

Dan is about to graduate. Tomorrow. This is the biggest thing in our lives right now. I am so proud of him. I can’t even find words that are worthy enough to escape my brain let alone put them into a blog post, but let me try.

There are so many directions my life took that at the time I thought were the wrong way. I am just now realizing that this path, right now, that we are on, is a good path. It is a long and windy path. It had a few “do not cross” tapes across the way, some scattered stones, some puddles, but man… it just got repaved and it feels good.

Dan’s path to where he is now has been a really long one. I’m not even talking about his health struggles. That feels like a whole different life. Like we were living in a different universe, even. As I sit here and write this, it feels so silly to even say, but I have tears. It’s like, I’ve read other people saying that and truth be told, it sounded dumb to me, so really, it’s okay if me saying it sounds dumb to you. But I’m overcome with emotion trying to even grasp how I am feeling and what I am trying to say and where I am going with it. We have been through so much since Dan began his journey back in 2007. Or was it 2008?

Sometimes he had semesters where he took nothing but art classes because he needed to step back and take a break. If you ask him he still gets mad at himself and will kick himself over those times. But not me. I think about all that time and while I am not at all suggesting anything towards this idea of “fate”, I am led back to thinking about our path. Dan may have had interest in the sciences back then (or even in high school) but he never had this passion or the confidence to want to explore it more in-depth until these latter years.

Ultimately, it was his original plan of nursing school that did lead him to where he is as it required several lower level science courses and with those courses he happened to have a few teachers that were pretty passionate about their subjects and that’s really all it took. There was no turning back. I can’t remember any specific moment where he turned to me and said “this is what I want to do” (I mean, we don’t live in the movies!), but I do remember a series of events where he’d come home excited to share with me what his professor had talked about in this lab or that lecture. He started to get really involved with his lab partners. He got very serious about attendance. He started taking more science courses. When it turned out he took an extra biology class that he didn’t need, he wasn’t even mad. It just started to all click for him.

Dan probably wouldn’t want me sharing this, but he does talk down and get mad at himself for not going to college right after high school. He’s extremely hard on himself and always has been. But then I ask him, “what would you have done if you had gone to college right after high school?” and he doesn’t know. And that’s just the thing. Some people know. They know their whole lives what they want to do and so right out the gates the are ready to go. Others don’t. Maybe those people spend some time in college trying to find it like Dan did. Maybe they get degrees in something they really don’t care about. Maybe they drop out. Who is to say that had Dan gone to college right out of high school he would have had the same discovery that he had 10 years later? Would his interests have been the same? Would his influences have been the same?

I think science found him. I really do. And I am so glad. I like to tease him behind his back about how much of a nerd he is because he watches YouTube videos of guys doing mathematical equations and chemical compounds and scientific discussions with scientific greats like Noam Chomsky and Lawrence Krauss, but truth be told, I’m pretty proud of that. I think it’s pretty cool. He enjoys talking about “smart stuff” and that to me is “cool.” I feel pretty cool standing next to him. And smart. I feel smarter just being in the same room as him. It is actually pretty high up on the attractive scale, too. *hubba hubba*

What’s next for him? We don’t know. When he first set out it was just thinking about a career. What is going to get him (and us) to the top and give us the best life? He now has a pre-med degree and could theoretically even become a doctor if he wanted. However, as his love for science continued to grow, his interest in doing something in the medical field got smaller and smaller. At least in any patient-care sense. He works in a pharmacy now and seeing a pharmacist’s life, he absolutely does not want to go that route.

This last semester he had to make a decision… science or medicine? He had many meetings with his professors and back and forth emails. Finally, his favorite professor boldly encouraged him to go for his doctorate in Biochemistry even if it is going to be a long, hard road. And he’s more at peace with that decision than he’s been with any decision he teetered back and forth with over the last 3 years.

So, as soon as finals are over and he walks that big stage as we all all beam back at him with pride, it is back to the books as he studies for the GRE for graduate school! But not before a little surprise graduation vacation planned by yours truly (which he has NO idea about). :))

Finn’s Favorite Books Part 2

Finn continues to be a little book worm. We read books before every nap and before bed every night.  He still has old favorites like Brown Bear Brown Bear, The Lorax, Mouse Mess, and Ned’s Rainbow, but we’ve added a lot more. And now that we have started going to the library every week, we are finding more favorites that we want to add to our home collection. We’ve checked out a couple multiple times and are thinking about just buying them. We love reading to Finn. I love when he follows along and really studies the pictures. We ask him questions all the time about what’s happening in the story, what’s going to happen, who the characters are, where it takes place… sometimes he answers and sometimes he doesn’t. We’re okay with that. Mostly he just loves the pictures and he loves being read to. And I love sharing his favorite books here and looking back on them!

Colours and Shapes Skippyjon Jones Rainbow Fish Put me in the Zoo Olivia Star StuffGreen Eggs Its MineWater in the ParkOh the Places Freight Train Crayon Box Clap Your Hands Cactus HotelMonster Mama 1 fish 2 fish


A Legit Mama

There are those moments where I feel like a total stand-in in my life, like I’m just playing a part. I have this a lot of times when I’m doing “mom things”. For some reason, I still view myself as the 22 year old who doesn’t have kids and so when I find myself doing these “mom things” I can’t help but think to myself, “Who are you fooling?” Half the time I feel like people look at my like I am Finn’s babysitter, not his mama. I don’t know why I feel like this. Sometimes I have to play back memories and remind myself, “Holy shit, you are a mom.” Sometimes the tune is more like, “You are that mom” when I am doing something I said I would never do or never let my kid do. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. In fact, I love it more and more all the time, but it still feels unreal. It’s flown by so fast that sometimes I don’t have time to come to terms with not only whatever next stage my son is in, but with what stage am in.

Today I felt like a legit mom. Like I was meant to be in this role and this day was mine. Ours. It was Finn and I’s day. And it was a great feeling. I went to school in the morning (was 4 minutes late and my professor wouldn’t let me take the quiz… which was a bummer but I got over it fast) and then rushed over to the rec center where my son takes a music class on Thursdays so that I could be there for the last 20 minutes of it. It’s a parent-tot class. I snuck a few pictures of him singing in Grandma’s lap and throwing scarves in the air before I went in and switched places with my mom. He was so glad to see me and gave me the biggest hug. He sat on my lap and we sang songs for the next 15 minutes until his class ended. I hate that I can’t be there for his preschool class Monday through Wednesday, but I am grateful that I get to at least make it to the end of his music class on Thursdays.


After class we played on the playground for a few minutes. He loves parks and playgrounds. And there’s one right outside the rec center, of course, which means that he doesn’t want to go to music class, and he can’t wait to get out, all because of that dang distraction going in! I usually have a hard time getting him to leave the playground; we leave kicking and screaming with him in my arms 1 out of 3 times. But today, I told him we were going to the “chefraunt” (his word for restaurant which I don’t correct because it’s adorable) for lunch. He happily walked to the car with me, thankfully, giving my back a break.


We went to this cute little taco place in our small downtown with some friends (old co-workers) of mine. Finn was awesome. He was perfect. Not a complaint out of him. He sat there the whole time happily eating his fruit, the orange slices that us girls gave him out of our tea, and coloring on the recycled kids menu (from the last kid which meant NO tic-tac-toe was happening), and of course didn’t eat a bite of his cheese crisp. He wanted to hold my hand the whole time and of course my friend reminded me to cherish this moment. He got his first (temporary) tattoo and was so proud of it. Both my friends loved him and couldn’t believe how well behaved he was. He may become a regular at our weekly lunch date!


That was a huge validation for me. That he behaves well in public and that I was recognized for it. For me, it means that I’m doing something right. My kid is really, really, awesome. He’s likable. I swear, getting a compliment on your child is huge. I spend so much time doubting and punishing myself over the littlest things when it comes to parenting, that a small compliment like, “your kid is awesome” goes such a long way. It’s also incredibly assuring that I’m not the only one who sees it. ;)

We both walked back to the car with our heads held high. So high, that I wanted to keep this momentum going. I think I have shared here before that I don’t take Finn alone to places a whole lot. I don’t think I took him alone anywhere until after he was 1. With my back and health, it just didn’t happen very often and because of that, I’m sort of stunted in that department. I get such anxiety about doing it. I think of all my mom friends as superheroes because they do it all the time – some with two kids, which is completely unfathomable to me. So, anytime I can do it, I feel accomplished.


We decided to go to the library and exchange our books (I will talk more about this later). Now, the last 2 times that we went to the library it did not end well. The first time was with Dan and the second was with my mom. Both times he had to be taken out kicking and screaming. So, I was really taking a chance with this. We got to the library and Finn got to feed the books to the return-machine which he thought was cool. We stopped at the giant dollhouse that he just loves to stare at. I was alone so I couldn’t leave him there while I went and looked at books, so after a few minutes I finally coaxed him to the children’s section where he could play with blocks and I could pick out our books. It went amazing. I got his favorite train book that he keeps wanting to check out and some favorites like Skippyjon Jones and How Do Dinosaurs _______, and many others that caught my eye. Finn happily played. We’re still trying to figure out how to get him interested in picking out his own books, but at this point, I’m just happy that he’s in a library. I packed up our books and then winced when I told him it was time to go, waiting for his reaction. Amazingly, he went. Just like that! We came up to the dollhouse again and I sort of panicked about how this would be the time I wouldn’t get him to leave. I left him to the dollhouse while I ran about 20 feet away to check out the books and when I got back I told him it was time to go and again, he went willingly. He really spoiled me today. He must have known I was alone and feeling anxiety and he wanted to help mama out.


It was overall a really wonderful day. I loved going around to all of the different places with him. I felt like a mom. A good mom. And we had a good day together and I’ll never forget it.

9, 10, & 11/52

I am going to be sharing a picture of my son once a week, every week in 2015. This makes me officially caught up. Again.


9/52: Dr. Seuss week, so we made Cat in the Hat masks. Finn was entertained for about 5 minutes.


10/52: For the first time ever, Finn said, “take my picture!”… so I obliged. How could I not?


11/52: St. Patty’s Day 2015. We got festive donuts from Dunkin Donuts and he hasn’t stopped asking for donuts since. We may or may not have gotten him another one on his birthday… =D


Chico, California

Finally getting around to posting about our trip to Chico last April for my cousin Tia’s wedding reception. Her and her husband, August, eloped but had a big celebration in town. This was a big trip for us because it was going to be the longest car ride that Finn had ever been on and also the longest that The Count had been apart from Finn, as he wasn’t making the drive with us due to school – he flew out for 2 nights at the end.

Overall the drive went good. For a barely 2 year old to sit in a car for 15 or so hours, it went phenomenal. It started with him vomiting in the car no less than 20 minutes after we left our driveway. And then he continued to several more times. He wasn’t sick, so the only thing we could attest to was that it was the first time he drove with his carseat facing forward and he might have been car sick. We kept him busy with toys, crayons, movies, etc. And we stopped fairly often for diaper changes, vomit clean-up sessions, and for stretching! He was a TROOPER.

The party was amazing. Pinterest Perfect, as I put it. It was like something straight out of Pinterest! My cousin and aunt planned everything to a T and it was absolutely perfect and we were so glad to be a part of it.

There were a couple trips to Sacramento squeezed in to pick up the Count from the airport and drop him off, as well as picking up my grandparents who flew in from Georgia. It was a crazy filled to the brim “vacation”. This was also the first time that my grandparents met Finn. Sadly.. no pics! Or at least that I could find. =/

chico_1 chico_2 chico_3 chico_4

We went to my aunt and cousin’s cupcake shop that they own in town called the Cupcake Crusader. Sadly, I didn’t take any pics. We also went to Thursday Market which is a big deal there in town. Vendors selling stuff, mostly farmer’s market foods, and then food trucks galore. My aunt & cousin’s cupcake truck being one of them! We were there to get flowers and strawberries for the wedding shindig. These strawberries were AMAZING and HUGE, and Finn loved them. Sadly, no pictures of him stuffing his face with strawberries, either.

chico_5 chico_6

The next morning was spectacular. Finn slept until 10am for the first time ever. Which means, I slept til 10am for the first time in two years. Well actually, I woke up before him and laid frozen in my bed for fear that I would wake him in the pack-n-play next to me. Finally I woke him up because I knew we had things to do!


The view from breakfast: my aunt’s backyard, complete with her own pond.chico_7

View from the front yard. Yeah, I could get used to this.


Their two miniature horses. I believe their names are Mickey and Flip. I could be wrong. Flip is definitely one of them. Don’t know which one.


The massive cat run that my uncle built for their, I don’t know… 9 cats? It’s too dangerous for the cats to be “outside” cats due to the natural wildlife around there, so this is an awesome area for them to hang.


And because my uncle’s the coolest, bee hives! Save the bees!



Grandma teaching Finn to play the piano…


What I did all day the day of the wedding. Made strawberry shortcake biscuits. About 100 of them to be exact.


The picnic baskets that people would take to the blankets across the property.

chico_15 chico_16 chico_17 chico_18 chico_19

This is where the music, slide show, dancing, and all of the party happened.


The bride and me (p.s. I miss my long hair so much).


When it got late, we retired to our room and watched movies. We weren’t out late at the party due to our little guy.


Deer on the property the day after.


Breakfast on the last day: one more delicious piece of strawberry shortcake with marscapone whipped cream. Also, Finn tried raw peanuts and had fun cracking them open (seen below) all morning. Which led to the works gastrointestinal situation we could have imagined.

chico_15Parting shot. Every kid is amazed by the windmills. I know I was as a kid.


And the saddest part of the whole trip. All of the cupcakes that we took home from the Cupcake Crusader cupcake shop… did not make it in that great of condition. Don’t think for a second that we didn’t eat them, though!


Right Now: March


Sad that I have not been able to blog much this year, but know when I say that I have had no time, that I literally have had NO time. 2 jobs, full-time school, AND a 3 year old make for a very, very busy life.

Really excited about my gel manicure that I got last weekend. I started biting my nails after 5 years of not doing so, and they were really ugly and short, so I decided to get a manicure. The gel is awesome! So shiny over a week and a half later.

Am fighting my urges to eat junk food. Seriously. It’s like, if it’s in the house, I cannot resist it. Absolutely no self control. See pic above.

So relieved to be on spring break! The week before kicked my ASS. Both my jobs at the school district and the university are on spring break and it coincided perfectly with my own school’s spring break. I love waking up to Finn everyday and having nothing to do all day except hang with him (and party prep).

Dealing with horrible back pains. I hope I didn’t rupture or re-rupture a disk. Saw the doctor today and just got put on 2 new medications for this. One is a muscle relaxer that I am supposed to take 3x day and the other is also to be taken 3x a day for nerve pain.

Really happy and sad for Finn’s 3rd birthday on Thursday. Happy because it’s going to be a blast as his cousin, Annie is spending the night for 3 nights and we’re going to be doing lots of party preparations and celebrating our little guy (as we have all week). Sad because, well.. he’ll be 3. :*(

Just received my Associates degree diploma in the mail this week. It is something that I could have gotten years and years ago, but just never applied. Finally did last semester and it feels awesome. Such a huge accomplishment for me across the span of so many years. It’s great to see it in writing. More to come!

Feeling surreal that I got into ASU and will be starting there in the fall. That’s been a dream of mine for so long and I’m so proud that I am actually going.

Trying to eat healthy. Trying. I’m on the P90X diet as I finally decided this week that this weight has got to go. It’s not helping my back one bit and I definitely don’t feel good about myself. I also did a P90X3 workout yesterday and felt AMAZING. However, I’m taking it a little easy now because of my back.

All caught up on my grading for the class that I am a TA for NAU. That was weighing heavily and I’m so glad to be caught up!

Frustrated with the feeling of being the one always putting the effort into relationships and not feeling like it is reciprocal.

Loving Jamba Juice “Strawberries Wild” and as always, my “Caramelizer” from Dutch Bros. Coffee. Those are just two things I can’t get enough of.

Looking forward to hanging with Finn and our friends on Saturday for his rainbow art birthday party!

Feeling a little at a loss as to what to do regarding a family member of mine who is spiraling out of control. The fact is… there’s nothing I or anyone else can do except watch it happen. And that SUCKS.

Annoyed that some people think it is okay for children to watch adult content such as Sons of Anarchy. There’s a story there, but I won’t go there. Just know that I’m very annoyed about it.

Hope you had a great St. Patty’s Day. We sure did! Post to come…

52 Photo Catch-up

So, I got just a wee bit behind on my 52 Photos project where I will be sharing a photo of my son, “once a week, every week”. Whoops! Here is week 5-8 which catches me up for February.


5/52: This was the week (or weeks?) that we had the plague at our house. Finn had a double-whammy ear infection which required 2 antibiotic shots. Here he was, still his happy self at the urgent care and making the best of it.


6/52: This tongue thing is something that the does when he’s concentrating and well all just love when it makes an appearance.


7/52: We took Finn on his first train ride at the local park and he loved it. I just loved that in the midst of the excitement of the train, he still needed to hold on to his mama.


8/52: Finn learned how to blow bubbles this week and he didn’t stop for DAYS.