Friday Reflections 07.13.2018

It’s been an emotionally devastating week. Every single day brought bad news and I’m feeling a bit shredded at the moment, which is why I decided to write a day early.

The worst of it is that Hudson, our only nephew and the boys’ only cousin, and Timmy and Brittany, are moving out of the state. This news came as an absolute shock that none of us were prepared for. It’s heartbreaking. We’ve had one amazing year with Hudson in our lives and we assumed we’d be able to consistently be in his life – for the rest of his life. Doing every holiday and birthday and special event and random thing – together, at every possible opportunity, because it was so incredible to finally have that nephew/cousin/grandson in our family. That one year was so awesome for us, but it’s a year he’ll never remember. I have a whole lot to say about this, but it’ll surely get me in trouble. So I’ll just leave it that we’re incredibly sad, and hurt. It’s a loss I’m not sure we, as the collective rest of the family, will ever fully recover from. (Which sounds really dramatic. But, that’s how we’re feeling about everything that was said/ignored and is happening this week.)

Anyway. I guess I’ll get to the rest of the distressing news as I reflect on everything else that happened this week!

We started Sunday morning at the Swan Park Craft Fair in Beaver Dam. I go with my parents every year and we usually make a day of it, but timing got a little off once Hudson’s birthday party was scheduled the same day. So Greg and the boys came along with me and spent the time walking around the park looking for Pokemon while I browsed the booths. Everyone seemed late to set up this year, and a lot fewer booths than last. Every year it gets smaller and less enticing, which is disappointing! I walked through most of it three times and didn’t buy anything. Also, I realized that craft fairs are not places I like to be at by myself. It’s much more fun going with my mom who likes all of the same things as me.

Next, we headed to Milwaukee for Hudson’s first birthday party. He doesn’t want to be held for our selfies anymore, so I had to get on the floor with him.

He really liked the car we gave him!

So cute. I’m going to miss him so much. 🙁 🙁 🙁 I didn’t know about the moving yet on Sunday, otherwise I would have taken a zillion pictures.

It was a really beautiful day and they have a huge front porch in the shade with a lake breeze. We all spent most of the party outside. All of their friends – who also have babies! – were there too. I was thinking how amazingly blessed they are to have the same friends in their lives for so many years, plus the incredible benefit of raising kids at the same stages. It just got me thinking about the friends Greg and I lost when we lived in Minnesota and we had Caden years and years before those couples even considered having kids. And how we honestly never really got it back. I made mom friends once Caden started school, but we’ve never made couple friends. And without that pre-kid friendship foundation, it’s so much harder to stay in touch with people, even friends that lives in the same town. I don’t know. Summer is a very lonely and stressful time for me. I wish things were different and I don’t know how to change them, not when other people aren’t feeling the same way. Anyway. It was a very nice party. Hudson is so loved.

Monday was the start of a very, very busy week. We started our daily morning walks with Annie, which I’m hoping to keep up every single day. I let the boys play Pokemon Go on my phone to distract them, and Annie and I get some exercise before it gets too hot. After the walk I had an appointment to get my toe looked at. She agreed that yes, it looked like an infection. She put me on an antibiotic and I have a follow up appointment with a podiatrist next Monday. I made the mistake of not letting the boys bring tablets to that appointment and they were being so ridiculously obnoxious. It could be argued that they should just be able to behave without a screen in front of them, but yeah – I’m never doing it again without the screens.

The rest of the day was me trying to work, trying to do food prep, trying to listen to an audiobook and failing. The boys and their friends were running through the house nonstop and I had to keep pulling the phone out of my pocket to push pause every two minutes. I know this is just summer life and I have to get used to it. But it’s so frustrating sometimes!! I also spent two hours that afternoon making jalapeno popper chicken and a peach crumble that pretty much took up all my food making energy for the entire week. I just don’t have it in me to make real meals by 5 every day. Sooo much work.

I finished the night at the dog park while Greg took the boys to the pool. All in all, it felt like the day lasted a hundred hours. It wasn’t a bad day, but it zapped me. It also made me really scared about the next 50 plus days of summer that are bound to be exactly the same.

On Tuesday I was trying to get the boys registered for school, but there were all kinds of glitches in the system. I finally gave up for awhile, but not after much frustration! I was trying to catch up with a lot of things online. I feel like those kinds of mornings are necessary, but I also think I’m going to need to stop banning myself from having them so often because I’m not getting any work done!

In the afternoon I had a haircut. I brought the boys and Annie to my mom’s for an hour and a half so I didn’t have to deal with them sitting there watching me. My hair looks pretty much the same. I don’t usually get haircuts in summer because I just wear it up all the time in the heat, but it wasn’t curling any more when I wanted it to, so I figured a trim was in order. I did a fast grocery run before getting them and dropping them off at Greg’s parents’ and then rushed back home for our at home date night. Greg picked up a pizza from Salvatore’s in Sun Prairie. They have (had…) a $12 take out special every Tuesday that we’ve been trying to take advantage of for like six months. It FINALLY worked out that we could do it. So delicious.

About an hour or two after Greg was walking around waiting for the pizza, about a block away there was a horrific gas leak and explosion in Sun Prairie. It was devastating for the community, especially because a man died in the fire. Parts of the city – including Salvatore’s – are still deemed unsafe to return to, four days later. The whole thing was so crazy and sad.

After the boys got back home I quickly repotted some hens and chicks Cindy gave me from her abundant plants. I found the perfect planter at Hobby Lobby last week. I’ve actually moved all my indoor plants outside for the summer. I think the lemon tree is much happier! I finally have some new leaves growing and the lemons seem to be growing faster than they did in the house. My tall jade plant from Cedarburg is not so happy. I need to stake it, I think.

On Wednesday morning I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon about my ankle. It ended up being a very long morning of just waiting around. Waiting to get checked into the hospital, waiting for the x-ray, waiting to go back for my appointment, and then a full 45 minutes of waiting in the room. Thank goodness for tablets that day! Even with them, Caden started demanding we just leave after half an hour. It was definitely stressful, especially since I was staring at my x-ray the entire time, worrying about how it looked worse than it did the last time two months ago.

After a very brief visit, the surgeon said that I’m healing at the pace he would expect. My range of motion is just about back to normal in three directions. Turning my foot outward is still hard because of the sprain recovery, which is still there four months later. Since the hardware is not bothering me, it should be able to stay in. Many people get it removed by choice, but it’s not what the doctors would prefer. I’m totally fine keeping mine in! He said that my lower breaks look really good, but the top one still has a gap. He wants to see me at the one year mark and if it’s still open like that, I’ll need to have another surgery to take bone from somewhere else to fill it in, and probably switch to a shorter plate (and have all those screw sized holes up and down my bone?!). This was NOT news I was expecting to hear. The more I thought about it, the more upset I was getting. I was scheduled for that appointment at the desk in January, but Greg told me I really better call back and see if I could get it scheduled in December instead. Because we definitely hit our deductible for the year in February and if I have to have another surgery it sure would be nice if it were free!! Not happening in January when we’d start the year over again with massive hospital bills. It was fine to reschedule, but the appointment is now only nine months after the injury, not really even close to the one year mark! Three months left to prove it’s filling in.

Anyway, I don’t want this to ruin my life, but I greatly dislike the possibility of another surgery happening in six months. Right before Christmas, no less. Presumably the recovery would be a lot shorter, but there would still be recovery! It’s just hard to wrap my mind around right now and be okay with it. But…it is what it is. I need to get better. Fully better. I’m so tired of feeling like half a person, never feeling comfortable or confident in even the simplest of daily activities. I want to go back to a life where I don’t have to factor my potential ankle pain into every decision I make. It SUCKS.

Anyway, on Wednesday evening I met Cindy at one of our favorite stores, Twisted Sister, for a “Sip and Savor” event. They were offering samples of weight loss coffees and drinks to try out while you shopped. I actually thought the coffee tasted pretty good, but it gave me the most horrible aftertaste that I still couldn’t get rid of a day later. So, not for me, unfortunately! We weren’t there too long, but it was fun to do something for me. Afterward I got some quick tacos for dinner and then spent like two hours wandering around Walmart, savoring my kid-free shopping time!

Thursday was more of the same. We actually went on a much longer walk that legitimately felt like a workout to me. I was proud of myself for powering through, even though it meant being pretty sore the rest of the day. I don’t think I could handle those longer walks every morning, but maybe twice a week for now. It helped we left at 6:30, before it got hot.

I tried to work some more in the morning. It’s been hard with the whole Hudson moving away thing hanging over everything I’ve done this week. It’s been so sad and confusing and heartbreaking. It’s hard to get motivated for anything when you’re crying half the day and just feeling emotionally wrecked. I tried to cheer myself up with a big java chip frappuccino. The mix made so much that I shared with the boys. Now they think they love coffee and Caden keeps asking me if he can use my k-cups. I suppose I should just let him and maybe he’ll realize actual coffee tastes a whole lot different than a powdered mix whipped up with mocha flavored cold brew!

Soon after I started working, I got some news that made me realize I needed to do a mega house cleaning and basically launder every item in our house. It was fine, not a big deal, but definitely not how I planned on spending my day, madly cleaning every room and doing fifty loads of laundry.

Caden had a playdate in the afternoon, so even though I was dead tired and not really in the mood, Shepard and I went to Madison for a few errands. It’s apparently custom order season because I’ve gotten a lot this week. Which often means needing to hunt down new fabrics or accessories. So we went to Joann’s and then stopped at Target. It really was an unnecessary trip that didn’t need to happen as immediately as I made it out to be. But Caden is the one who often makes shopping miserable and I had to take advantage of a daytime trip without him!

I worked late and finally finished up a batch of dolls. This morning I did all the photographing and listing. I’ve been trying all day to actually accomplish something more than that and it’s just not happening. Shepard ended up going to a friend’s for the bulk of the day and Caden was outside with his friend Willow all day, so I really have no excuse. I just haven’t been able to focus at all. It turned out to be a mistake, but for a brief time this morning I thought I was being blacklisted by a major prim pattern maker that I ADORE. She’s extremely popular and often has problems with copying, reselling, or not giving credit for her designs. When I realized I had been removed from her many facebook groups I started freaking out that I inadvertently did something to offend her and I just could not afford to have some sort of professional disaster on top of everything else that’s happened this week. But – it’s been resolved. WHEW.

So that’s been my week. I’m feeling pretty discouraged by everything. Summer is just so hard. I’m not my best mom self when my kids are around me 24/7. I’ve had ZERO motivation for making dinner in the evenings. And work! I can’t work! I can’t stand being interrupted every five minutes and I constantly feel flustered and stressed out, with my attention going in twenty different directions at once. I miss my friends and I kind of wonder if I really even have friends anymore. Nobody’s exactly asking ME to hang out with them either. I feel so disorganized and exhausted and alone. I want to enjoy summer and the freedom we all have together, but this week was just so busy with all those random appointments. Next week is completely filled up too. I’ve never had so many things on the calendar so many days in a row! EVER! It’s overwhelming.

Anyway. Just to actually reflect on what I wanted to do this week – make lists – it hasn’t happened yet. I DID make the “What can I do to earn a check?” list. But still no go on the dog park list or the summer bucket list list. I haven’t written out a list of things I want to do for myself either, but I have been looking around. I did buy a ticket for the one time Rise documentary about Rachel Hollis that I really wanted to go to. I was hoping to find someone to go with me, but had no idea who to ask, so I just went ahead and bought a single ticket. I also wrote a few other nighttime possibilities for things I might do.

Okay, time to sign off on this super long and depressing post! We’re about to go out to dinner with Greg’s parents and cousin who is town for the wedding we’re going to tomorrow. We have a very busy weekend ahead!

Sunday Intentions 07.08.2018

Summer is officially here now that summer school is over and I’m back to full time parenting for the next two months. I’m terrified! In some ways it gets easier the older my kids are. In many ways it gets a whole lot harder. If they have friends available to play, they’re happy and content to find things to do on their own. If nobody is around, they whine and argue and have a million reasons why they shouldn’t do any of the things I suggest or ask of them. It makes for some extremely long and trying days.

I think the only way to combat all the problems I see arising in my immediate future is to make lists. Many, many lists. That is my main intention for the week. First, I need to make a list of all the ways they can get a check mark to earn video game time (ten checks = one hour of game time). We’ve been doing this system for a few months now and it seems to work pretty well – except they NEVER want to do actual work. They only want to get the easy checkmarks. And they still ask us eight million times a day what they can do to earn a check – usually by 6am when it is the last thing in the world I feel like dealing with (I HATE starting every day with this question). Especially because they want to argue about or flat out refuse every single thing we suggest. So I’m going to make a list. They ask me, I say look at the list. No arguing, no negotiating, hopefully no more asking me over and over and over again.

I also want to work with the boys on a list of things they’d like to do before school starts. I usually aim for 1-2 day trips a week to different parks, festivals, restaurants, etc. The problem I see with that this year is that they never really want to go anywhere or do anything. Thinking up the list might be harder than it’s be in the past. But maybe they’ll surprise me. Or maybe they’ll reinforce the idea that they really just want to stay in town and do things with their friends. And if that’s the case, I’ll try to respect that choice and try to make more playdates happen, even though arranging them always stresses me out.

I definitely want to make a list of new dog parks to check out in the Madison area. I’d really like to go to one once a week. If I have a solid list of the top ten or so that look intriguing, it’ll make actually going out in the future so much easier.

And finally, I want to make a list of events or things that I want to do to make ME happy. I see so many events on facebook that look interesting, but almost never actually go to anything. Part of the reason is that I just never know who to ask to go with me, and it’s kind of depressing going to everything alone. While I do value my alone time – especially in summer when I never seem to get it – it still kind of sucks going craft fairs and movies and things like that by myself. Experience has told me that my friends never really want to do things in the evenings and it’s given me a bit of a complex, trying to avoid any more rejections because I’m way too sensitive and upset by them. But, whether I do them alone or not, I want a list of things I WILL do. I think I’ll be a lot happier if I have special events on the calendar that I can look forward to every week or two. I find it really easy to get depressed in summer. Much more so than in winter, which is maybe odd. But I think I’ll feel a lot more cheerful if I’m actively making plans to get out of the house for something FUN.

Anyway, looking to our week ahead – I was hoping to kind of ease into this whole new summer routine, but it’s actually a pretty busy week. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning to check out a toe I’ve been having a problem with for over two months. On Tuesday I’m getting a haircut. On Wednesday I have x-rays and an appointment with the surgeon (hopefully the last one) to make sure everything is still looking healed and on track. On Thursday Caden has a playdate over at a friend’s house. And on Saturday the boys and Annie are having a sleepover at Grandma’s while Greg and I go to his cousin’s wedding. And on Sunday we’re going to a Mallard’s game and maybe to a pool event in the evening. Granted it’s just one thing a day Monday-Wednesday, but one thing a day dragging kids along can be exhausting! Especially when we need to also work in a half day to run errands, and hopefully a day to go to a dog park too. All while still trying to put in at least a couple of hours a day working. It’ll all get done and it’s probably actually good we have places to be almost every day. I’m just a bit nervous about everything. But the lists will help!

Once again, I’m not yet prepared to share a meal plan! Though I am planning to have jalapeno popper chicken tomorrow night. And potatoes, I think. And maybe some sort of peach pie/tart/crisp to use up the rest of the peaches. The rest of the week – who knows! 🙂

Saturday Reflections 07.07.2018

I know I am definitely in the minority here, but I really don’t like Saturdays. Even though I know every weekend I’m going to wake up feeling the same way, no matter how many pep talks and mindset tricks I try to perform on myself, I still end up being resentful and angry the entire day. It just seems so unfair that regardless of what day of the week it is, there is still going to be a mile long list of things that need to get done. And because we’re often more busy with family and extra things on Sundays, Saturday is the day where all the prep work for Sunday needs to be done, on top of a million other things. So while I’m spending every waking minute running myself ragged, everyone else in my family gets to have a day of leisure. And I can’t complain about it because Greg works really hard too and deserves to have down time. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s still a ton of stuff that needs to be done! I just hate Saturdays so, so much.

Anyway. I’m just completely exhausted with a throbbing ankle from stupidly walking laps around the dog park this morning, knowing full well how much I was going to need to be on my feet the rest of the day. And I’m frustrated that once again someone in my family decided to complain about a food item I was making this morning for Hudson’s birthday party tomorrow. Because apparently I am only ever allowed to make food that they want to eat, even when I’m making it with other people’s tastes in mind. Considering how many times this has come up in the last few weeks, I’m ready to throw in the towel with cooking in general. I give up, guys. Go back to shopping for and making your own food!

Okay, for real now – vent over. Sorry. On to my reflections!

Monday was jam packed with errand running. There were four different grocery/household stores I needed to shop at, and two fun stores I just really wanted to go to. Because of the heat, I did the fun stores first and spent way too much time at them. So I was racing through all the grocery stores and just managed to beat the boys home by mere minutes. I’m glad I was able to fit everything in, but it was a lot! I ended up with 11,000 steps on Monday, which is definitely my biggest walking day since I broke my ankle.

Tuesday was a big work day, trying to get some dolls done because I hadn’t had a sale in over a week. I also spent the day trying to find more creative uses for all my peaches that are quickly ripening past their prime! I made peach raspberry iced tea, a brie and peach grilled cheese, and peach salsa. I have to say between the pineapple, mango, and peach salsas I’ve made in the last few weeks, peach was definitely the one I liked the least. I kept meaning to make a pie or crumble, which is usually the first thing I do when I get so many peaches. I just haven’t had the time or energy to do the whole flash boiling thing to peel a ton of peaches. So much work.

Wednesday was the 4th of July, which is a pretty huge thing around Columbus. The in-law’s came over and we went to the parade, where I had spots saved since Monday. While the spot was shady when I laid down the blanket, it wasn’t to that point yet when we arrived. Caden was immediately throwing a fit because it was too hot. And it WAS hot. But it’s ALWAYS hot on 4th of July. We bought some food from the fire station for lunch and then Greg went back home to get umbrellas and spraying water bottles. The whole thing was quite an ordeal with a lot of moaning and complaining and not much enjoyment. I don’t think I’ll push everyone to go anymore. It’s not fun for anybody.

We had a few hours of down time after the parade to cool off. I took a nap. I’m sure everyone else was gaming. And then after a random short rain shower, we went to the big party we were invited to at Caden’s friend’s house. It was a little awkward for Greg and I because we didn’t know many people, but the boys had a BLAST. There was a huge slip n slide set up, as well as some sprinklers and an inflatable pool. They were having SO much fun with their gang of friends. We stayed about two hours and then came home and watched The Greatest Showman. We did a few sparklers and smoke bombs in the driveway and then headed out to the fireworks.

I wasn’t up for walking any more, so we drove to school and watched from the little park across the street. I look horrible in this picture! I thought that this is the first early summer I’ve gotten through without my allergies killing me. Now I think they’re just super late because they’ve been BAD this week. Especially Wednesday when I was outside all day long.

The mosquitoes were pretty horrific, so Greg was distracted constantly spraying bug spray, as if putting multiple layers on everybody would really help. Caden kept begging to just go home. Shepard was way more interested in playing with his glow sticks, which he kept accidentally throwing into the street. We finally gave up and left. I think overall, the boys had a good day. It was just frustrating for me that once again they proved how little joy they find in the things that kids are “supposed to” love on a holiday. I’m never that invested in this particular holiday, so it didn’t bother me that much. It was just a long, long day.

I was so wiped out on Thursday! As I’m sure most of the country was! Which was a bummer since it was my last day home alone for TWO MONTHS. I really wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, but I just couldn’t find the energy. I ran to get a few groceries in town and that was it. I didn’t even go out to lunch. It really kind of bummed me out! Then we had an at home date night and I could barely even move. We just watched tv and then Greg wanted to game so I did some more work.

And Friday – more of the same. Last day of summer school! I worked like crazy and just managed to finish up a big batch of dolls right before the boys got home. Then to celebrate we took them to this new theater that just opened in Madison to see Ant Man and the Wasp. It’s a brewhouse theater with a full menu and a long length of table in front of all the chairs. The boys had some kids meals and I had their soft pretzel. While it was a fun experience, I don’t really see myself choosing to go to that theater over the one in Sun Prairie that also serves food, has moveable trays that can go right above you without needing to lean way forward, AND has soft and comfortable reclinable seats. I’ll be very curious to see if they can stay in business. It seems pretty risky being only a few miles from the main theater.

Anyway – that was the week! Very busy. The boys are done with summer school now, though Caden was actually asking if he could sign up for second session just to take running again! I pointed out that he can go running anytime he wants – he doesn’t need to be in a class for it! Unfortunately (fortunately), it’s not offered second session. But maybe that desire to run will help motivate him to go out with me every morning when I need to walk Annie. I’m feeling pretty anxious about how we’re going to survive the next two months. But – more on that tomorrow!

What I Read June 2018

It’s book time! June was kind of a weird reading month for me. I felt so distracted and had the hardest time really settling into anything. But looking at my list and ratings, it was actually a pretty good book month. I think at the beginning I started and stopped at least five or six books, though. I might go back to them, but if they didn’t catch my attention in the first few pages I just wasn’t interested in sticking it out. I’m not usually so fickle and like to give almost all books the benefit of the doubt. It was just so hard to focus at the start of summer. Anyway, here goes!

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
Rating: 4 stars

Kasie West is one of my favorite authors and I like to read them immediately upon release. Like all of her books, this was a sweet and perfectly tame YA romance. Kate is a snarky teen who is roped into co-hosting her class’s podcast. She’s in the class with her best friend Alana and her arch nemesis, Frank. Alana has a crush on Diego and Kate is then roped into helping set Alana and Diego up, quickly realizing she has feelings for Diego as well. There are many cases of mistaken identity, mistaken feelings, and general confusion. I loved how everything worked out in the end, even though it was a fairly muddled way of getting there. Overall, a solid and quick read if you want something light and fun.

Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin
Rating: 5 stars

I savored this beautiful food related memoir. Each chapter was steeped with an aching sadness of a poor little girl who grew up with so little control and so much confusion, despite how much love was given her. I usually only read this a chapter or two at a time, but it stuck with me throughout the night and I couldn’t wait to pick it up again the next afternoon. I loved reading Sasha’s story and was infuriated with the way so many people treated her. I definitely enjoyed the childhood half of the book more, but it was fascinating reading about her adventures in cooking across the globe and making a meal from every single country once she became a mom and started a blog. Quite the challenge that brought her a lot of fame, though that wasn’t what she was seeking out. Overall, the best food memoir I’ve read to date.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 3 stars

I had the hardest time getting into this book. Which is disappointing because I loved Caraval and rated it 5 stars. I expected this one to be even better. I was also under the assumption this was the sequel, not the second in a series. I was not happy to get to the epilogue and realize it definitely needs to continue on. I wanted a happy ending! I also wanted the book to be a whole lot less confusing. Fantasy is not my favorite genre and it just took me so many days to get into. I loved Dante, but wish we had seen more of him. I didn’t feel particularly connected to Tella. I guess I struggle in general with switching narrators in each book of a series. So much investment in the original person only to be switched to someone else. Anyway, I didn’t really find this book “magical” in any way. Caraval feels like a week of horrors and I don’t understand the appeal. But that being said, I’m definitely going to be reading the third book in hopes of having some happy closure!

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is the story of a high functioning autistic woman who decides to hire an escort to help her become better at sex. She’s thirty years old and her mom is pressuring her to get on with her life and make some grandchildren, so Stella takes what she feels is the next logical step to figuring out how to find that happiness. It was an interesting premise that I really had a hard time wrapping my head around during the entire length of the book. It just seems kind of gross. And unlikely. At any rate, I really liked both Stella’s and Michael’s characters and their unlikely, yet inevitable romance.

The Dry by Jane Harper
Rating: 2.5 stars

Set in the Australian countryside where drought has ravaged the land for years, a small town is rocked to its core by the cold blooded murder-suicide of one of their own. Childhood friend and police officer, Aaron Falk, comes back to town for the funeral and is convinced to stay by his friend’s parents to try and prove his innocence. Being in the town brings up a different suspicious death of his teenage friend/girlfriend. While trying to solve both murders at once, Falk has run-ins with many of the same people in town who chased him away so many years earlier. While this book is well written, I found it to be incredibly boring. After so much hype surrounding this one, I was sorely disappointed. I don’t know if I just expect too much from my mysteries or I’m just having a really hard time getting into ANY books this month, but this one was not a favorite.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Rating: 5* stars

This is one of the most uplifting and inspirational nonfiction books I have ready in a really long time. Rachel’s writing style is funny, poignant, and so relevant to the lives of every woman in every circumstance. Each chapter is an essay on lies she once believed and steps she took to overcome them. I love books where you can sit and read a chapter and have something truly worthwhile to mull around in your head until the next time you squeeze in the next chapter. Everything she had to say rang so true in my own life and I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend this book to ALL women. And if you can find one, I think it’d be worth it going to Barnes and Noble to get the special edition with the bonus chapter the way that I did. Great book!

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
Rating: 4 stars

This is a forbidden love romance novel between a 19 year old and her lousy boyfriend’s 38 year old father – whom they both live with. The premise is definitely a little icky. But the author makes sure you feel zero loyalty to Cole, the boyfriend/son who Jordan has almost no actual interaction with in the entire book. She meets Pike, the dad, randomly at a midnight show of a movie on her birthday and they feel a connection that cannot be denied, despite all the complications that arise when they realize who each other is. Overall, if you can get past the age difference, it’s a pretty great slow burn love story. Jordan is very mature for her age and is a good match for Pike. Occasionally they play too much into the daddy thing, which is kind of disturbing. The book did feel incredibly long. But if you like slow burn and forbidden romance, this would be a great one to pick up.

Elites of Eden by Joey Graceffa
Rating: 4 stars

This is the second book in the Children of Eden series. I loved the first one – it was a fantastic and unique venture into a dystopian world. The release of the second book snuck by me, so I was very excited when I realized it existed. The problem – I had no idea what was going on. *Spoiler alert* Yarrow, the main character for the first THIRD of the book, is actually Rowan, who has been brainwashed. It was very confusing as she was a super unlikeable character and I really didn’t know what this book had to do with the first one at all. But once she had a breakthrough and realized who she really was, the story got a lot better. I love how Graceffa portrays Eden SO well. You can visualize everything about it in a way that isn’t always there in dystopian novels. This ended on a cliffhanger and I’m really excited to read the final book when it comes out in October!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 3.5 stars

I really struggled with what to rate this book. Honestly, I was pretty bored the first half of this 450 page book. A family of three that chooses to spend their life in a shack of a cabin without any electricity or running water in rural Alaska is not a very exciting premise to me. If it hadn’t been for so many raving reviews all over my social media, I would have put it down. But I powered on and about halfway through it got so interesting that I stayed up for five hours reading so that I could finish it in time for my June post! This book really does have a lot of heart and makes you question how much you should endure under the name of love. While I struggled to find the motivation to pick this up – it’s really so depressing! – I was definitely crying and quite happy with how it ended. The writing is beautiful, as always by Hannah. But it just didn’t hold my attention the way her books usually do.

Happy reading!

Sunday Intentions 07.01.2018

I think this might be the most boring Sunday Intentions post I’ll ever write. I’ve really got nothing, guys. I feel LOUSY this weekend. Very much like I did last Sunday, but for different reasons. I caught some sort of cold/cough thing from the boys a few days ago and the coughing part has been rough. I ended up not going to the Mallard’s game last night because I was hacking so much and could barely sit up and thought I just might die feeling like that AND going into a crowd of tightly packed people on a 100+ degree day. The coughing has greatly subsided today, but my body feels completely out of whack. Almost like a flu. But without the fever. At least I think without a fever, I haven’t checked. Anyway, I’ve really done nothing today but read and take short naps. It stinks. I wanted to get so much done on this rare summer Sunday without any plans. But…it’s not happening.

Anyway! It’s July. It’s the last week of summer school, which I have very mixed feelings about. It’ll be nice not to have to get everyone rallied and ready by a certain time every morning. And it’ll be fun to start going on more day trips and dog park adventures. But I really don’t think the boys are going to handle so much unstructured time very well. I’m anticipating twelve hours a day of begging, whining, and negotiating for all their various screen time desires. They definitely know how to wear me down to the point of giving in because I’m just so exasperated and exhausted by it all. I’m hoping I can still work at least a few hours a day, but the days can get pretty unpredictable. But I guess I can stress out and talk about this next week.

This week should be good. 4th of July on Wednesday. We don’t have any solid plans yet, but plenty of options. I always like to watch at least part of the gigantic Columbus parade. It’s just always so hot! Why don’t they have the parade start in the morning instead of noon?? One of Caden’s friends is having a big bash at their house, so we might stop by there in the afternoon. And presumably we’ll walk to the park to watch the fireworks at night. With my ankle and the heat I’m not really in the mood to make solid plans yet. Summer weather makes me grumpy. So does having an ankle that never seems like it’s going to fully heal.

I guess the most exciting news this week is that Hudson turns ONE on Friday!! It was a fast year! I’m very excited to see him at his birthday party next Sunday. Love that little guy so much!

My main intention for the week is to just survive it! 🙂 Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a whole lot better than I did today. I originally planned on running some errands on Thursday night, then Friday night, then Saturday morning, then at any point today – and it didn’t happen. And each day I think of more stores and more things I need to pick up, so tomorrow is going to be full blown errand running as quickly as possible while the boys are at school. The rest of the days I hope to get a lot of work in. Or if I don’t feel like working – revel in my last few mornings to myself before two months of kid filled chaos.

And that’s about it. Happy 4th of July!

What I Watched June 2018

It was a pretty intense month for tv and movies! I worked a lot, which always means I watch a lot of tv. Probably a bit too much this month!! But having good shows to binge keeps me motivated to keep working, and it keeps me happier. So worth it, I think! 🙂

TV – Alone (I should probably say *spoilers* at this point because I’m probably always going to talk about anything juicy that came up.)

Famous in Love

I was pretty disappointed with the way things turned this season. Jake and Paige breaking up?! After how excited I was at the beginning of the season to see she chose him?? This show is really filled with too much ridiculous drama.

The Last Man on Earth

I’m also disappointed that this was cancelled and they weren’t able to give it a proper send off. So many years of being the last people on earth only to have such a cliffhanger of an ending! Everyone was so obnoxious on this show, though, I guess I’m glad it’s over.

The Good Fight

While I really enjoyed the first season of this show, the second season was fantastic! I’m glad they got away from the whole Maya’s parental scandal and moved on to other things. I love, love, love the Luca and Colin storyline and I’m so glad they’re back together with their baby!

Quantico

Ah, Quantico, you never seem to know what direction you should move in. I like it, though. Jumping three years ahead was a nice way to distance everyone, but I’m pretty unhappy with the Ryan and Shelby marriage. It just doesn’t seem likely AT ALL. But I’m liking the new guy!

The Bachelorette

Okay, so I am not a reality tv person. I never in my life thought I’d be watching this, BUT The Popcast reviews each episode on their Patreon feed and I finally gave in and started watching. I listened to the episodes from the last season of The Bachelor without watching any of the show and I kept thinking how much awesome relatable content I was missing out on. So I committed to watching The Bachelorette so I could get the full awesomeness of their reviews. I’m paying for it on Patreon anyway, so I don’t want to miss out! Anyway, I’m actually really kind of addicted to the show lol. I like Becca a lot. I think my favorite guy is Blake. All the kissing makes me feel super uncomfortable and it still feels very unnatural to be dating so many people at once, all for the sake of television and “finding true love.” But…it’s a pretty entertaining show!

Younger

Charles knows! Charles knows! Charles knows! I was NOT ready for that little tidbit to happen right away in the first episode! I’m also not happy with how he’s handling the information. But hopefully it’ll turn out well. I see there are only going to be seven episodes this season, which makes me fear it’s coming to an end. This is such a good show! I’ll be very sad to see it gone.

Time After Time

Another short lived tv show that came to an unfortunate cliffhanger of an ending. Apparently ABC pulled it after five episodes, but they were able to finish off the series in a different country. Anyway, it was a fun little romp of a show. HG Wells was such an adorable guy. And Josh Bowman is just pretty hot!

Jane the Virgin

I FINALLY finished up this last season. I was spoiled about Michael coming back when it aired (which is fine – I’m good with spoilers!). As much as I loved Michael and was absolutely devastated when he “died” and felt horrible for how hard it was watching Jane try to get past his death – WHY is he coming back after she’s so happy with Raphael?! Because it’s a telenovela, that’s why. I really don’t know how I feel after that enormous twist.

Sneaky Pete

So Amazon first showed like an extended trailer for Sneaky Pete a year or two before it actually came out. I thought it looked really good, but then we forgot about it and never got around to watching it when it was finally available. But this week, in like three days, I binged the first two seasons. I really liked it!

Difficult People

I only watched two episodes of this before moving on to something else. I think it might be a bit too mean and crass for me. But we’ll see. It’s hard to find good things to go back and watch in the summer when nothing new is on.

TV – Together

Atlanta

Is it terrible to say that I really don’t understand what this show is about? I kind of liked the first season. There were some funny moments and some episodes a lot better than others. But this second season just felt so terribly depressing. We only watched a few episodes and I was ready to quit.

Arrested Development

Here we go again, the show that never ends. I don’t think they can ever bring back the love that came when watching the first few seasons. But – it’s okay. And funny at times.

Jessica Jones

We watched two episodes of the newest season and Greg was over it. I thought it was okay, so I might go back on my own to continue one of these days.

Better Call Saul

Greg’s been watching this in real time, but went back to watch the first season with me now that I’ve seen Breaking Bad. I really liked it! Saul always seemed like such a great character and now that I know more of his background I feel so much for him! I’m looking forward to continuing on with his story.

Waco

So I literally had no idea what this show was about. I just wanted to see it because people said it was good and Taylor Kitsch is hot. Even once it started I really didn’t know what it was about. I have no recollection of this happening or ever having heard about it. Greg said he watched part of the standoff on tv during school. In second grade? I guess my first grade teacher wasn’t interested in showing it to us! (Though I do remember watching the OJ Simpson trial in fifth grade.) Anyway, the content is pretty depressing and serious, but the acting was incredible. I highly recommend watching it.

MOVIES

Love, Simon

I watched this immediately after reading the book. And of course, the book was better. But this was a pretty great adaptation.

The Disaster Artist

While I thoroughly research books before committing to read them, I basically never know what I’m getting into when it comes to tv or movies. So again, I had no idea what this was and didn’t even realize it was based on a true story until the end. I just figured that I always like a Franco brother, so of course I want to watch a movie with them both in it! Though James? Yikes!! I would have liked this movie a lot more if I could have actually understood more than 10% of the words he said!! There were definitely some really funny parts, but it was kind of sad too.

Every Day

Kind of a weird premis. Also based off of a book – which I have not read. But despite the craziness of this ever happening, I liked the movie. And I loved how it ended.

Set it Up

I think my favorite social media influencers set the bar too high on how strongly they praised this new netflix movie. I eagerly awaited a week and a half before we had a night early enough to fit in a movie. And it was CUTE. But I’m not in love with it. I’d never watch it again. But I guess for a fresh romantic comedy, which you almost never see anymore, it was nice.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

We saw this yesterday in the theater. I haven’t heard a lot of great things about it and Greg is apparently against these movies entirely, even though he keeps seeing them in the theater with me. But I thought it was pretty good. Definitely some odd plot holes, but I’m always up for a Chris Pratt viewing!

And that’s it for June! Any good tv shows you can recommend for me to binge in July?? My docket is pretty empty!

Summer Goals Update and Saturday Reflections 06.30.2018

June is officially over and summer is already one month behind us! It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since school ended. It went by pretty quickly, but was also really packed. I accomplished quite a bit this month! Still trying to make up for my three months of being out of commission. I’ve had some super busy and stressful days where I expected way too much of myself, but I also think that overall I was pretty balanced. I’m feeling pretty good about how June went! I even accomplished quite a few of my summer goals. So many that I decided to give an update and add a few more!

Update on achievable goals:

  • Clean out my car.
  • Declutter all random piles in general living spaces.
  • Clean out the fridge and freezer.
  • Reorganize all sewing room supplies (new)
  • Clean out laundry room (new)

Car is clean! Greg did most of the work, but we finished that right away. I’m making pretty good headway on all general living spaces. My biggest problem is the family room, where the boys spend most of their time, where all the electronics are, and where everything coming into the house is dumped. It drives me INSANE that nobody else seems to care how crappy that room looks all the time. I just avoid it as much as possible, really only going in to eat dinner and watch tv with Greg at night. I’m pretty sure there’s no real solution here, but I’m trying my best to keep things under control in all other rooms of the house. Anyway, I cleaned the fridge and the basement freezer and Greg reorganized our basement pantry area. The main freezer is still a mess, but I’ve been trying to cook something out of it every day to minimize how full it is. I think this weekend I can finally clean it out for good.

As for my new goals – I have spent most of this week working on my sewing room! I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to work on new dolls, so I spent almost every day working on cleaning out and cataloging all my doll accessories, re-folding and categorizing all my fabric, and taking a better inventory of what yarns I have. It’s been great seeing all my stuff get back under control! With so many other rooms getting cleaned and organized, I decided to add the laundry room to the list too. It was pretty functional for a while, but then the boys and their friends decided to start playing hide and seek in the house – and the laundry room is pretty much the only place to hide. So it’s been destroyed. Seems like a good time to really go through everything we have and organize and get rid of what we don’t need.

Update on parenting goals:

  • Keep a large visual weekly calendar complete with any non-negotiable errands, day trips, or appointments. 
  • Enforce said calendar so they know that there’s no wiggle room to argue and complain if something was already planned for the day. 
  • STAY STRONG in parenting, not letting them take advantage of me in my weak moments (and not letting them knowingly make me weak with their incessant whining). Remember that I’m the MOM and if they’re mad at me, I will survive it. Having a child mad at me for enforcing perfectly reasonable parenting rules should not affect my mental energy the way it would if Greg or a friend or other adult family member felt that way about me!

I really like our calendar idea, though it hasn’t really said much this week besides going to summer school, play practice, and Grandma’s house. I’m hoping I can fully utilize it in the next few months when the boys need to know ahead of time which days we’ll be running errands or going on day trips so they can coordinate with their friends and hopefully avoid any meltdowns. Because our schedule has still been pretty static and mundane with summer school, I haven’t had a whole lot of fights come up – yet. They’re pretty happy if they have friends to play with. The biggest issue has been Caden not wanting to go to the pool anymore. None of his friends are ever there and he doesn’t like just swimming with Greg or Shepard. A few times Greg has asked me last minute to ask friends to join them, which is always fun because then I get to deal with all the rejections. 😛 There’s nothing I hate more than being rejected (even if I have no reason to take it personally)! Anyway, that’s probably been our biggest thing to deal with, which really isn’t THAT big. Just more frustrating to me because Caden ends up staying home and whining while Greg and Shepard go swimming and I still don’t manage to have any time to myself. I’m anticipating a lot more arguments and meltdowns once summer school no longer takes up half of their days.

Update on family connection goals:

  • Go on a two night family vacation. Make it happen.
  • Visit at least 5 new dog parks in the Madison area with Annie. 
  • After summer school is over, plan and go on at least one day trip or special outing a week. 
  • Take each child on an individual date night at least once per month. Try harder to have one on one time at home in between the date nights. 
  • Go on regular dates with Greg. (new)

I scheduled our family vacation! It was actually Greg’s idea. We’re going to LaCrosse in August. It’s actually turning into three (and a half) vacation ideas all crammed into a single week. We’re going on a weekend “trip” (half hour away) with Greg’s parents for two nights. Then we’re going to the State Fair with my family. Then I’m going on a SOLO VACATION to Minnesota just because I want to and I can. And then I’m meeting everyone in LaCrosse on my way home for two nights of family vacation. It’ll be a busy week! But fun. I’m really glad I made both trips happen and scheduled them as soon as possible once I realized that’s what I wanted to do.

I haven’t been to anymore dog parks yet. It was really rainy this month! And now it’s super hot. Annie likes hot weather about as much as me. 😛 Once summer school is out we’ll definitely take some more dog park adventures, though. I haven’t been great about individual dates either. I was supposed to go to the farmer’s market with Caden last weekend, but he flaked out on me at the last minute. I don’t know how to take him somewhere enjoyable when he flat out refuses to leave the house with me. I guess I just don’t give up, right?

I’m adding the goal to go on dates with Greg. This is always a tricky one. Technically, his parents take the boys one night a week, like 50 weeks of the year. We have NO EXCUSE not to go on an actual regular date. But somehow we’re always too tired, more interested in doing our own things, or it doesn’t feel like a justifiable reason to spend money. It also seems dumb to go back to Madison to a restaurant when Greg just got home from work in Madison. We always have an excuse. I’d like to make it more of a priority. In this season of our lives it’s so easy to drift apart. We have so little in common with each other, interest-wise. We’re so focused on parenting together that we don’t know how to have fun together anymore. I want to make this more of a top priority.

Update on personal achievement goals:

  • Prioritize self care. Know what you need to keep your sanity and DO IT. No excuses. 
  • Make at least 10 dolls per month. Work is not and should not be my highest priority over the summer months. But I know I need it to keep myself and my customers happy, so I need to at least do the bare minimum. 
  • Read. A lot. All the time. It’s worth it, it’s not being lazy. It’s important. And fun!
  • Write more than just my weekend blog posts. I love to write and this is a good time to do it more often! 

I’ve had good days and bad days with prioritizing self care. I’ve been a bit of a workaholic this month, but at least I can recognize it? I’ve tried to find ways to fit in at least a short power nap every day because it’s the only way I can survive. I think I’ve been doing pretty well at recognizing what I need to help myself mentally, but failing miserably at taking care of myself physically. I walk the boys to school each morning and this week I’ve tried to make my walks back home a little bit longer each day. But I was hoping to also add some indoor biking to my daily routine and I’ve only managed to do it twice. It’s just hard to talk myself into going down into the gross basement to bike when there are a gazillion other things I could be doing. I’ve also been AWFUL in my food making choices. I think it’ll be easier to stay on track when the boys are home all the time. I’ve noticed how they want to have a snack literally every half hour when they’re home. And I kind of feel the same way. But if I’m focused on them eating more healthy and balanced meals that don’t require twenty snacks a day, maybe I can get myself back on track too.

It’s been a pretty great work month. My goal was to make at least 10 dolls. I believe I’ve made at least 38. I’ve sold 37 dolls, which is more than I’ve sold in a month – EVER. I’ve really hit my sweet spot with Heartstring Annie, keeping people engaged and interested, putting out new dolls every few days – most of which sell out within an hour or two. I was doing really well until last week when I just lost all interest in sewing and decided to do the organizing instead. But I’m back in the middle of a bunch of dolls and hopefully July will be another good month. Though I also intend to take more time off with the boys home all the time. We’ll see how it balances out.

And reading! I had a rough start to the month, not interested in much. But I’ve been a reading maniac the last two weeks, finally finding books that I never want to put down. So I’m good on that! Writing hasn’t progressed a whole lot, but I did start writing for myself. Things that I’ll never publish, but still feed my soul.

Update on health related goals:

  • Be able to walk regularly by September. Hopefully with daily practice I can do that. I’ll start with trying to walk to and from summer school with the boys every day in June. Work up to dog parks and day trips. And hopefully be a lot stronger by fall. 
  • Keep healthy food stocked, prepped, and ready to eat. 
  • Keep meal planning simple, but in existence. Always have easy meals ready to make and on hand, so we don’t resort to eating junk food all day, every day. 
  • Stay cool, calm, and positive. I CAN DO THIS.

I guess I already talked about this in terms of self care. Physically taking care of myself has been a bit of a frustration. The orthotics have helped with my plantar fasciitis, but I definitely still have ankle pain. And if I take even a day off from a longer walk – which feels really necessary sometimes! – my hip starts hurting the next day. I do pretty well walking around on errands, grocery shopping and everything. But if I’m just out walking Annie, a few blocks feels like a few miles. I’m losing my confidence that I’ll be a lot better by fall. It’s pretty depressing.

I’ve been trying my hardest to keep healthy food stocked. But like I said – everyone seems to be STARVING all day long. I just can’t keep up! I cut up five mangoes the other day and Caden ate them all in two sittings. A whole watermelon is gone in a day. I’ve been buying yogurt and granola bars and string cheese that the boys run in and grab way more often than they probably should be. Everyone’s food intake seems to have increased tenfold which is requiring me to take multiple grocery trips a week. It’s been kind of overwhelming. I usually end up spending almost an entire day just prepping produce. It’s not really how I want to spend my time. But…I guess it needs to keep happening.

I definitely want to get better about meal planning in July. June ended up being a lot of one or two big meals a week that gave us leftovers for the rest of the days. Or we got leftovers from big family meals that lasted us a few days. Which is good! It’s nice to have fast and easy food on hand. But I think I want to try harder for ME. Find healthy meals that I actually like to eat for lunch. And breakfast. Plan out ahead of time all three meals all seven days. Make a solid grocery list and try to only have to go once a week. It should be pretty easy. But it’s things like this that often throw me off and stress me out the most. Organization and planning is definitely the key.

Saturday Reflections

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week! It’s been pretty straightforward with the boys in summer school and me cleaning up my sewing room. The boys both developed a summer cold that turned into me catching a major cough. I feel like absolute crap right now. Between overdoing it with baby holding and walking last weekend, allergies, pms, and now this cough – it’s been a rough week.

Caden had therapy on Tuesday that went okay. He really just talked to Greg and I the whole time and I’m not sure we really made any progress. I’ve noticed that he basically just asks us the same questions every single time, sometimes multiple times in a session. Is he listening? Retaining what we say? What is he doing on his laptop the whole time we’re talking? I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about it still.

Greg hurt his foot on Wednesday night, kicking the lawn mower when it was stuck in a thick clump of grass. I don’t think he broke anything, but he was in immense pain and has a few very bruised toes to show for it. I tried to keep the boys away from him, going to the dog park and pool that night.

On Thursday my sewing machine broke. I spent half the day feeling overwhelmed and super stressed, researching which new machine to buy. I was supposed to be spending the day relaxing and enjoying being home alone – the boys were at Grandma’s and Greg was working in Chicago. Then he got home and kicked the foot pedal (lots of kicking this week) and it turned back on. While it WAS a relief I don’t need to immediately buy a new one and make a decision I wasn’t ready to make, I ended up being more upset at how I wasted that extremely rare and precious night I had to myself.

And on Friday we went to see Jurassic World and had lunch at Chipotle. I was feeling pretty sick by then and not in the best of moods. But it was fun to do something together.

And now today we’re trying to take it easy and keep cool before going to the Mallard’s game tonight. Somehow we always manage to pick what feels like the hottest day of the year to go sit outside at a baseball game. At least it’s not until later in the evening when it hopefully will start cooling off. I can’t stand this heat!!

Well, that’s it for now! I’ll hopefully be back later with a tv and/or book post!

How I Fight My Seasonal Allergies

The spring after I gave birth to Shepard, I was shocked to find out that I suddenly developed seasonal allergies. Without really any knowledge, I dove into over the counter remedies hoping to find something that would help, to no avail. My itchy wretched eyes were my worst symptom and I think I tried every eye drop known to man. When I called to make an appointment with an allergist, they told me I had to have an eye exam and then a regular doctor exam before I could be referred to them. I was so annoyed with the system that I just decided I’d suffer through.

The next spring when it started happening again, I got the eye exam. No problems. I got the regular exam and was referred to an allergist – only to be told I couldn’t get in until the end of July – by then my allergies were done. I guess the good news is that I was no longer taking random antihistamines by then, so they were able to do official allergy testing. Turns out I’m allergic to grass, ragweed, fall mold, and cockroaches. Grass being the one that feels like it’s going to kill me, or at the very least make me go blind by my own scratching, every single spring and summer.

Anyway, it’s taken me seven years of deadly Mays and Junes to finally work out all the medications and tricks I should use to keep the worst of my suffering at bay. The problem is that there are so many different components I often forget everything I use from year to year, since I usually only have 2-3 months of suffering. So I’m writing this post mostly for my own benefit so I can refer back to it each spring and know what to do to make myself feel the best I can! But maybe it will also be helpful to other people suffering from the same allergy who haven’t perhaps researched or tried out more than just your basic antihistamine.

Zyrtec

My allergist told me that Zyrtec was the most effective over the counter medicine to take. I think by the time I talked to him I had tried all of them and definitely realized that Allegra made me feel like crap and Claritin didn’t help at all. The key is that you need to build it up in your system before allergy season actually starts for it to be most effective. I usually start taking it daily in March, when allergies usually hit me mid to late May. My allergist also told me it’s safe to take a double dose on the worst days. I try not to, but I know I’ve done it on occasion, especially on those days I know I’m going to be outside all day long. Also – buy the generic brand at Costco – you can get a bottle of 365 pills for less than $20. It’s massively more expensive to buy the name brand anywhere else.

Singulair (Montelukast Sodium)

This is my trickiest solution because you need a prescription for it. It’s technically a medication used to treat asthma, but it’s done wonders with making my allergies a little more bearable each year. My original allergist prescribed it to me, saying it’s often used to help with seasonal allergies. The annoying thing is that if you want the prescription filled each year, from the allergist, you actually have to go to yearly appointments. Which seems really, really dumb to me, especially with how hard it is to get an actual appointment. Fortunately, my regular doctor fills this for me each year without needing to see me.

Zaditor

Like I said before, itchy eyes are my worst allergy symptom. The sneezing, stuffiness, and coughing – I can deal with. Eyes that I want to shred out of my face every minute of the day are a little harder to ignore. Last year a friend of mine suggested this brand of eye drop, which I hadn’t tried before because it’s a little more expensive. And guess what? It works! Better than anything else I’ve tried, including prescription eye drops. Fair warning – it definitely stings going in. But give it a few minutes and you genuinely will feel some relief. It’s not the be all end all of eye itchiness, but it really does help.

Flonase

This is another remedy I’ve found to really be helpful in the last couple of years. It’s also the thing I always forget to take. I believe I originally was prescribed a nasal spray, but it was crazy expensive. Flonase is expensive too, but not as much as a prescription! The doctors actually said that a nasal spray helps a lot with eye symptoms, which seems odd. But it’s the truth! When my allergies were really bad a couple of weeks ago it finally hit me that I totally forgot about the Flonase. Once I started taking that again every morning I’ve been feeling so much better. (It just occurred to me that Costco probably has a generic and much cheaper brand of this too.)

Allerest PE

As you can see, I’m already very heavily medicated April through July! But on those occasional days when I’m still absolutely miserable, I’ll take an Allerest, or possibly a Sudafed (I think they’re about the same thing). I don’t know if pollen counts are lower this year, or I finally have everything under control, but I’ve only had to take this twice this year. But it’s good to have on hand, especially when the sinus side of things starts getting bad. My sinuses are usually pretty manageable if I don’t spend a lot of time outside. (Also – this is super expensive if you buy it from amazon, but I’m pretty sure it was only a couple of dollars at Walgreen’s or Target, or wherever I saw it and decided it was worth trying out.)

Eye Wash

A couple of times every allergy season I inevitably rub some sort of irritant into my eye that is impossible to get out. It’s so painful and so itchy and unignorable because I literally can’t open that eye up to see out of it. Last year after a particular awful episode, I was doing some mad googling and sent Greg to Walgreen’s to find this eye wash – something I had never heard of before. And guys, it’s pretty amazing. You pour the solution into a little cup, hold it over your eye while you open and close it a few times, and then dump it out. Almost always, it gets the dirt or pollen or whatever out. I felt like I discovered a miracle last year when I learned about this. It’s also just a good thing to use every night before bed if you’re having a lot of eye irritation.

Germ Guardian Air Purifier

I bought this two years ago when I was feeling particularly desperate. I ran it next to my bed day and night and I think it really helped. Unfortunately, once it needs a new filter it will no longer work. And the filter only lasted that one 2-3 month season. The purifier itself costs $85 and a single new filter costs $30. Quite the rip off! BUT if you’re absolutely desperate, I think this is a good idea.

Other Tips and Tricks

  • Always wear sunglasses outside! Seems pretty obvious, but I usually only bring sunglasses out of my car if I know I’m going to be outside for hours at a time. But if I remember to have them on every single time I’m outside, the protection for my eyes is noticeable for sure!
  • Keep windows closed! Also pretty obvious, but it’s a hard thing to enforce when you’re the only one in your family suffering from allergies and you just had your windows closed for the last eight months of winter and everyone is desperate for fresh air! We compromise by me keeping the windows shut in my sewing room where I spend most of my day and in our bedroom.
  • Wash your face before bed. I’m not always great about doing this, but I do ALWAYS use a makeup wipe. Maybe it’s mostly in my head, but it’s kind of crazy how much immediate relief I feel after wiping all those allergens away from my eyes.
  • Cold and wet washcloths are your best friend. Want the fastest and most immediate relief? This is your answer. At least for eyes. Which is always my biggest problem and what I most want to fix.
  • Shower before bed. Basically you just don’t want the pollen from your body and hair to ever get into your bed, where you’ll roll around in it all night and wake up feeling even worse. Unfortunately, I’m usually way too lazy to take this step, plus I hate going to bed with wet hair. But when I’m desperate, I’ll do it. I also change our sheets often in summer to try and avoid too much pollen build up.
  • Avoid going outside! Duh, right? 😀 June is always my worst month, so it’s the month I sign my kids up for summer school. Because they’re busy a big chunk of the day, I don’t feel at all guilty for not scheduling extra day trips or fun activities in the afternoons. I get away with spending very little time outside every June, and it really helps!

Obviously I am not a doctor and don’t take my word as truth for all. But hopefully some of these tips and tricks might give you a few ideas for dealing with your own seasonal allergies. It’s one of the most fun times of the year, and it’s not worth feeling the misery of just accepting your fate and dealing with it every summer. Take the steps you need to take to make yourself feel at least a little bit better!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.24.2018

We’re halfway done with summer school and almost done with June, and I finally feel like I’ve got a little bit better of a grip on summer life. I tried to be really in tune this week to what I needed and made it happen. I took the days a little slower, didn’t push myself so hard – at least not every day – and enjoyed everything a bit more. I hope to get better at this in the next few months, fully taking advantage of this short season of life before schedules get rigid and hectic again come September.

On Monday I had an early dentist appointment and ran a few errands. It was raining (most of the week, actually), and I was exhausted, and I was finally able to take an afternoon nap while the boys did some gaming. It was weird to take an entire day off of work. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, which was a bit disconcerting, but also a nice change from the frantic stress I usually feel every day.

Tuesday was pretty slow too. I’ve been trying to start my days by reading instead of working. It’s so hard to get past that NEED to be productive the second I’m out of bed. But I feel so much happier and more calm when I slowly ease into the morning instead. The only other thing of note that happened Tuesday is I walked to the library! Exciting stuff this week, guys. 🙂

On Wednesday, I was in the mood for a little fun! I stopped in the morning at a grocery store to buy a bunch of produce. Then I went to the Pardeeville Antique Mall and found all these goodies for my dolls. I haven’t been there since last fall, so it was fun to poke around. I haven’t been feeling super inspired with new ideas lately, and finding fun accessories always sparks my imagination.

On the way home I stopped at Johnson’s Sausage Shoppe for the first time. I was way too excited to go into a big meat market filled with pre-marinated meats and new flavors of things we love. We haven’t tried any of it yet, but hopefully this will be a new source for meal inspiration!

I then spent the entire afternoon cutting up produce. Literally. I wish the pre-cut stuff wasn’t so expensive! My reward for all my hard work was a big batch of mango salsa, which was DELISH. Also – have you had honey mangoes? I’ve never bought them because they look smaller than normal ones and if I’m already going to the work of cutting mangoes I want the biggest value! But honey mangoes were on sale too and Caden and I LOVE mangoes and oh my goodness, these were amazing! The sale is on for a few more days, so I’m planning to go stock up on a bunch more tomorrow.

Wednesday was also another pretty lame at home date night. I made bourbon chicken and we took Annie to the dog park. I think it’s about time we have another real date one of these days. It’s already been a month since our anniversary!

Thursday was a BIG work day. I had a Craft Night planned, so I needed to get my dolls to a certain point (stained and dried) before the craft night started, so I’d have something to work on that didn’t take up the entire table. I thought I’d reach that point by like 11am, but I was still madly rushing to finish at 4. I was stressed out and mad at myself for not planning better. I kept thinking I should just work on a different FUN project in the evening. I used to have those! Embroidery and mohair animals that take up minimal space and give me a break from doll making. But…I wanted to finish the dolls. Anyway, Laura is the only one who came to the craft night, which was just fine! We had a good time catching up while getting a little bit of work done!

I finished dolls up on Friday morning and after school we went over to my mom’s house to help her babysit Hudson. Except the boys were in awful moods and I’m sure we just made the afternoon a lot more exhausting to her!

We only stayed a few hours and then went home.

Still trying to have some positive and memorable interactions, I had a farmer’s market date planned with Caden. But then despite the fact that he was fully ready to go at 6:30 on Saturday morning, he refused to walk out the door. So after an exasperating five minutes of pleading, I left with Shepard. Again.

It was a good morning for the market! The weather was great after raining all week and it wasn’t that busy yet. Shepard was LOVING all the samples, especially cheese. Which was funny because he’s not really much of a cheese eater. But samples are samples, right?! He picked a giant cinnamon roll for his breakfast again and we got another one for Greg and a donut for Caden. I had my delicious morning bun, which I saved for today. And cranberry walnut bread, which is my all time favorite. We splurged on those homemade crackers which are AMAZING but so expensive. Shepard thinks we’re sharing them, but I hid them away to eat with brie because he can’t appreciate how good they really are. 🙂 We also got radishes, cilantro, and two kinds of that bread/fry cheese. Shepard was so obsessed with it!

Saturday turned out to be a lot crazier than I was expecting! If I knew we were going to be so busy, I wouldn’t have gone to the market. But it was all a lot of fun! Around noon Timmy and Hudson came over for a pizza lunch and then we went to the pool. Hudson wasn’t much of a fan, so I spent most of the time sitting with him and observing the swimmers while he downed a ton of goldfish crackers. The guys all got to do some real swimming then.

We went back to my parents’ after swimming for an impromptu cookout and campfire. It was a little chaotic, but a fun evening!

My mom found the first doll I ever made when I was around eight years old! A few years ago when they were thinking about moving and we were looking through our old things, I was trying to find this doll. I didn’t, so I assumed she was gone forever. Nope!

I was finding great amusement in watching Hudson try to feed himself sweet potatoes while the dogs swarmed around trying to get a taste!

Finishing the night with s’mores around the campfire.

Annie was trying to get into more things than Hudson, so it was kind of an exhausting day! I’m pretty beat today! Between keeping Annie from jumping fences and eating food off tables and stepping on Hudson, carrying Hudson around a lot, being outside most of the day during the worst of allergy season, walking on uneven surfaces all day without my brace on, and just plain not getting enough sleep – I am pretty much dead today. But I think it was worth it! 🙂

Sunday Intentions

It’s a pretty quiet week again – thank goodness! The only real thing on the calendar is another therapy session for Caden. I can’t believe it’s already been a month since the last one! The peach and blueberry truck comes on Thursday, so I’m looking forward to getting more fresh produce. They have the best fruit! And Greg took a random vacation day on Friday, so I’m hoping we can maybe have a morning movie date while the boys are summer school. And Saturday we’re going to a Mallard’s game with Greg’s parents.

My intention for this week is to keep being aware of what my body and mind actually need, instead of just pushing to keep checking things off my to do lists. I’d like to walk a little further each morning with Annie. My orthotics have really been helping keep the plantar fasciitis pain at bay, so I think it’s time to challenge myself a little bit more. But also take rest days when I need it. Like today, when I’m swollen for the first time in weeks. 🙁 I want to start a fresh batch of dolls, but also not freak out about getting to a certain point every day. I think the best way to keep myself in check is to stop letting myself work in the evenings. I rarely do these days, but I know from experience how much better life goes if I insist on giving myself actual work hours with a real stopping time. So, 1:00 when the boys get home, or 4:00ish when I need to start dinner, if they’re off with their friends in the afternoons.

Well, I think I need to end this post. I’m just feeling SO fuzzy and out of it today. I need a reading break! And maybe a nap. 🙂

Late Weekend Reflections 06.18.2018: Summer School, Alice in Wonderland, and Father’s Day

I’ve been struggling with what to say about this past week. It wasn’t an easy week. I felt very overwhelmed, stressed, completely wiped out, overworked, irritable, and angry. There is really nothing to blame for any of it, except that it was a busy week. The busiest I’ve had since I broke my ankle. It also felt like the first week in almost four months that I suddenly had to take back over all my original responsibilities. Walking the boys to school, walking Annie, taking Annie to the dog park, actually taking her outside to go potty because she refuses to go for the boys anymore, running errands four of the five days of the week, driving the boys places, picking them up, packing not one, but two meals a day for them, while also still making them breakfast and a late dinner and snacks in between. It was just a lot. While I was also working from 5am to 9pm with my only “breaks” being everything listed above. I was mad at myself for my workaholic tendencies that I just can’t seem to shake, while also wanting to lash out and blame the all the circumstances around me that make me feel like I NEED to work and cook and clean and do laundry every single waking minute of my life. This isn’t how I want to live. But it was a mindset I just couldn’t seem to get rid of last week.

At any rate, there were definitely a lot of high points to the week. The boys started summer school on Monday morning. Even though they had a lot of moaning and groaning about it, they ended up really like their classes. Even the running club that Caden was so mad about doing! He was actually pretty angry the alternating days this week where they did stretches and indoor activities instead of running outside. They’re both taking a class called Maker Space where they just create things out of everyday objects that has turned out to be both of their favorites. They’re still not thrilled about needing to go to school in the summer, but it definitely helps that they each like all four of their classes. And they have a meeting spot so they can sit together at lunch! It was pretty cute listening to them work out those details on the walk Monday morning.

On Monday afternoon the boys had their first play practice! It was three hours long and they learned the rules, had auditions, learned their parts, and started practicing! I ended up staying the whole time because I was waiting in great anticipation to see who was assigned which parts! The whole audition process was pretty crazy. Though after watching the play on Saturday I think they cast everyone perfectly. It was kind of amazing. Caden got the roll of Cook and Shepard was part of a very long caterpillar where they stuck all the youngest kids they didn’t know what else to do with. Shepard, who was most worried about the play, ended up really enjoying it. Caden wasn’t very happy with all the boring parts, but I think he enjoyed actually putting the play on in the end.

Tuesday was a big day because it’s the first time I took Annie for a walk since my broken ankle! I was a little nervous, but it went pretty well. I walked her every morning after that too. It feels good to get out with her, but also – painful. I have plantar fasciitis back in full force on my right foot. Something I suffer from every summer with the extra walks I do – though it tends to alternate which foot and never both at the same time. But one is painful enough to make walking kind of miserable. 🙁 I’m supposed to be walking more to keep strengthening my ankle, but now it’s at the expense of my foot which is supposed to be rested when it gets this bad. I tried to compromise by only walking in the morning and having the boys come home on their own after school. I ordered some new orthotics and a special ice wrap for my foot to use during down time, so hopefully I’ll find some relief.

I’ve spared you guys the sight of my ankle/leg until now, but here’s how the scar is progressing. The shorter one on the inner part of my ankle looks the same. It’s quite the battle wound! Anyway, I’m showing it off because on Tuesday, at the end of my physical therapy session, the therapist told me I’m done! I was supposed to go a couple more weeks, but I’ve hit all my goals. In the previous week I started doing all those final things that I’ve been putting off – walking the boys to school, walking Annie, etc. I still need to work on strengthening exercises at home, but there wasn’t really anything else they could show me. I was really happy! Therapy was always fine once I got there, but I still hated having that on my schedule every week. Now I am free! Well, I have one more appointment with the surgeon next month, but after that I will hopefully be done with this. At least in an appointment sense! I heard it takes at least a solid year to be totally back to normal. 🙁

On Wednesday I was already feeling the mental effects of doing too much, so rather than sit at home surrounded by my work, I decided to get out of the house to celebrate the end of physical therapy. I ran a few necessary errands and then got MOD for lunch, mostly so I could also buy a gift card for one of Greg’s Father’s Day gifts.

For fun, I meandered around Half Priced Books hunting down deals. I recently finished the book Life From Scratch and it reminded me how much I LOVE food memoirs. I’ve realized this year how much I love memoirs in general, but I particularly love ones that revolve around food. Food is such an integral part of every single person’s life and it’s fascinating to learn how many ways it touches people and influences their story. Half Priced Books turned out to be a great place for food writing books. I also picked up Off the Clock from amazon to try and get myself better focused both on and off the clock to live a more meaningful life!

Thursday and Friday were more work days. It somehow always turns out that I’m racing against the clock trying to finish dolls while I still have enough natural light to take a good photo. I get frustrated on those days when I have to work at a faster pace than I’d like, rushing the final touches that make the dolls most unique and special. It made me extra crabby. I ended every night just feeling depleted. Even though the boys were out of the house for most of the day all five days of the week, I was just SO run down at the end of every night. And I hated it. I don’t want my summer to continue in this manner.

Saturday was the big day with two performances of Alice in Wonderland! I honestly had my doubts about how good this show would be after only a week to learn everything. But it was great! The kids did amazing! And everyone was so perfectly cast to fit their roles.

I had wanted to pick them up early on Friday to try and get a glimpse of how things were going, but I was too busy madly trying to get dolls listed before they were done. I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled for the show in the end. It really blew me away how great everyone did! Shepard made the most adorable little caterpillar.

Caden actually had a bigger part than I thought, with this trio doing a bunch of singing and dancing and a little comedy routine. He did great each show, but the second one he was SO into it. I loved watching them!

As of right now, they’re not interested in ever doing this again, but I think it was a good experience for them. And really fun for the family to come watch since the boys never really participate in any extracurricular activities. I’m a strong believer in letting kids be kids and not forcing them into things they don’t want to do. But for just a week of their time they got to learn new skills, make new friends, and ultimately really did have fun during the performances. I was very proud of them!

To celebrate, we went to Culver’s for dinner after the show with the family. Fun times!

Oh, so before the show on Saturday, I spent hours working on this crepe cake for Father’s Day. I wanted to make something fancy that I’d never make for just the four of us. Crepe cakes have been on my mind since I saw one on a blog I like a few months ago. That recipe looked a bit too futzy, so I went with this one instead, knowing Greg really likes dark chocolate and raspberries. It took me six tries with two different pans and two different types of spatulas before I even made one successful crepe. But once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy, just took forever. I let them cool, made the raspberry cream, and then stacked them all up into this beautiful creation!

I put it in the fridge and checked on it five minutes later finding this. Devastating!!! I tried to slide it back together, but nothing was cooperating. I ended up taking it out in sections and piling it into a springform pan, with paper plates around the edges trying to hold it into a shape. My hands, arms, and the entire counter and fridge were covered in cream. It didn’t help that it was crazy hot and humid that day. Maybe I should have frozen the crepes for an hour or something to make them cooler. Or not put so much cream between the layers. Or just stopped at 10 layers instead of going to 20. I read so many different crepe cake recipes before landing on this one, and was so sure it would be easy to do. Nope! I was pretty upset about the whole thing. But also determined not to let it, and my entire morning that I really should have spent resting, go to waste.

I’m sure the troubleshooting of this cake is of no interest to anyone except me, but I take my dessert making VERY seriously. I spent the whole night agonizing over what I could do to fix it. A ganache covering seemed to be my only option. Except I didn’t have any more whipping cream and couldn’t stand the thought of going to a grocery store for like the sixth time in a week. So I googled it and found a very successful way to make ganache with good chocolate, butter, and milk. It worked perfectly! I re-layered the cake, cut around the edges that were still lopsided, topped with ganache, topped that with slivered dark chocolate, topped that with fresh raspberries, and garnished with a few chocolate mint leaves from Shepard’s herb garden. As good as it could get!

Moving on. 🙂 It was Father’s Day! Greg said we could wake him up with breakfast in bed at eight, so I made some freezer cinnamon rolls. We went up and left him alone with his food, waiting downstairs another stressful hour and a half before he got up. In the future, I hope if he wants to actually stay in bed until 9:30 he just says that from the get go, so I don’t have to deal with two boys freaking out for that long about wanting Daddy to get downstairs NOW. Hint, hint, Greg. It wasn’t the best start to the day.

Greg always complains that we give him too many presents. So we tricked him this year thinking he just got one gift. Until he opened it and found like 30 individually wrapped small gifts. Like it or not, I think he deserved to be a bit spoiled!

Mostly a lot of treats and snacks, with a few restaurant and movie gift cards thrown in. And a few garden tools he specifically asked for.

The guys settled in for a morning of video game playing while I kept working on the cake and made some jumbo cookies as a backup dessert. We had an easy lunch of frozen chicken strips and fries.

We went to the pool right when it opened and stayed for a few hours. It was packed because of the awful heat, but the water felt great! It was my first time there this year. I was a little nervous about my ankle, but no slipping occurred. My only slight hiccup was climbing the ladder to get out of the pool. It was an awkward position for my foot to take my full weight and not something I’m looking forward to doing again soon. But I’m glad I went along this time because it was fun! They all had ice cream cookie sandwiches for a treat before we left.

Back at home, I really couldn’t stay awake any longer. This week – whew! I ended up taking a two hour nap! I woke up just minutes before Greg’s parents came over for our celebration with them.

The boys were soooo hyped up.

It was a pretty low key evening of video games, ordering pizza, opening gifts, and eating cake. And for the record – Caden and I thought the cake was great. Greg and Shepard did not like it. I think it was a texture thing. I’ve never made crepes before, but I do occasionally make dutch babies which have a similar eggy texture and Caden and I are the only ones who like those too. I should have realized. Oh well – they had cookies.

Anyway, I think it was a pretty nice Father’s Day! It was really nice to have a slower paced day after the crazy week we all had. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoyed each other’s company. I think it was the kind of day Greg likes best, so I’m glad he was able to have it. He’s a pretty awesome dad. Seriously the best I could ever ask for as the father to my children! He had a wonderful example in his own dad and I’m so happy to have them both in my life. My own dad refused to celebrate Father’s Day, but we are going over there next weekend for a cookout to slyly celebrate in a different way.

New Week Intentions

And that brings me to this week! All I know is that I don’t want to spend the rest of the summer feeling the way I felt last week. I want to be rested. I want to be happy. I want to feel totally okay with taking a day off of work. I should be a mom foremost during these months. I also need to keep putting my health and healing as a priority above all else. I want to find a balance between getting the minimum done – laundry, basic decluttering, putting relatively healthy meals on the table – and actually just sitting back and enjoying life – reading, writing, going to dog parks, laughing with my kids. I’ve been on a bit of an errand running high after so many months of not having that option. It’s also hard to convince myself it’s not worth going when I know in three weeks the boys will be with me all the time and going then won’t be an option – again! BUT I should be reveling in my time alone AT HOME too. At least more often than I did last week!

Our actual schedule is pretty light this week. I had a dentist appointment this morning and picked up a few groceries before coming home. I’m guessing I might need a few more things later in the week, but I really want to focus on being at home as often as possible. On Thursday I’m having my monthly craft night, which will be fun. And besides that? Just summer school!

Well, that’s it for now! Have a good week!