Saturday Reflections 05.18.2019

This week has been CRAZY. I don’t know how people survive when they have chaotic and busy evenings week after week, year after year. This one week of having something going on every single night just about broke me. Well, this week plus all the busy weeks before it and the busy weeks ahead. I can’t handle it. It’s been a really fun week with a lot of fun activities. But I miss my quiet and boring life so much. Why did things get so insane this spring?! When did we become a family that only seems to be home to eat together once a week? I don’t understand. I’m so tired and stressed out and I know May is like this for everyone, but it’s just TOO MUCH.

On Monday night, Shepard had a soccer game. Greg and I missed his first one last week when we were flying home, so it was fun to watch them this time. At what age do kids start getting GOOD at sports? Just curious. ūüôā Watching them play definitely made me really appreciate Shepard’s coach! I’D be crying if we had the other team’s coach. We play the same team each time since this is just a small little fun league. Afterward Shepard grabbed this free desk from the neighbor and immediately had to set it up perfectly.

Tuesday was Greg’s 35th birthday. I got my hair cut in the morning, so I had to take some selfies. It doesn’t look much different, but it curled better than it’s been curling for awhile. I wish hair wasn’t so much work. I mean, I could just put it up every day, and I will once it gets hot. But I HATE how it looks in photos. Fat head, no hair.

We had a little pocket of time between Greg getting home from work and going out to dinner, so he opened his presents. I think he liked them! Chocolates, legos, a rice cooker, Guster tickets, honey.

Don’t forget the sunflower seeds!

More selfies.

The boys wanted Greg to ride in back with them on the way to the restaurant.

We had dinner at Sake House in Beaver Dam with Greg’s parents. He didn’t want to go back to Madison with all the crazy construction that started up a few weeks ago. The meal was good, though! He got a pile of fried oreos for a dessert. Overall, it probably wasn’t the most exciting of birthdays, but I think he enjoyed it. Hopefully.

On Wednesday after school I brought the boys to the dentist. Always an ordeal because our dentist office is SO disorganized. It drives me crazy every time we go. They’re all friendly and everything, but the appointments seem to take three times longer than they should because they never have the right things in the rooms, they’re always trying to multitask beyond what’s reasonable, and it’s just so dang chaotic. The boys even went with separate hygienists this time and their cleanings still took an hour and a half! Then they both cried all the way home because they were STARVING TO DEATH and they can’t handle eating a minute past 5:00, EVER, no matter how weird our evening schedule might be. I was hoping dinner would magically be ready when we walked in the door, but Greg was mowing the lawn because it was crazy long and when else would he have had the chance?! TOO BUSY.

After I was done literally tossing food at the boys, I had a few minutes to whip up the butterbeer Greg requested for his birthday dessert. I think it turned out pretty good!

The tiny amount of work I managed to do the first half of this week. I’m so behind. So, so, so behind.

I’ve had my eye on this book for a few weeks, but my facebook book groups started reading it and obsessing about it, so I decided to order it for myself. Seemed like the best week of all to jump into it. I’ve only read the intro so far, but I’m hoping it’ll help me. Though really, just May being over will probably help a lot. Two more weeks. I’m both excited and dreading it with all my heart.

It was raining on Thursday morning, so rather than trying to haphazardly fit in some work, I just read and took a nice nap in preparation for spending most of the rest of the day in Milwaukee. I left after lunch and stopped at stores in Johnson Creek, Hartland, and a few places in Milwaukee. I had a restaurant all picked out for dinner and then I noticed a new place called Cantina Milwaukee: Taco and Tequila Bar. So of course I had to go there instead! I guess I’m on a mission to try every taco restaurant I ever see in every city I ever visit! I was surprised to see the restaurant was relatively empty too, so I had plenty of time for a relaxed taco meal. I picked sweet plantain with jalapeno crema, Caribbean pork with mango avocado salsa, and a Gochuchang Asian fried chicken taco. The chicken taco was one of the spiciest things I have ever eaten. I was dying. And I live on spicy food.

I still had a little time to kill, so I found a bench near the river and just relaxed for awhile. I kept expecting a storm to blow in, but I got lucky!

My purpose for being in Milwaukee was to see the Happier Podcast live show with Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft. Their podcast is one of the ones I’ve been listening to from the very beginning of my podcast obsession. I love it! It’s so positive and interesting and chock full of great tips for being happier. I was a little bummed I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, but the atmosphere of fans in the room was enough. I had so much fun!

The only downside to that trip – I couldn’t find my car afterward. I went to the exact spot I came out of a garage earlier, but the door was locked, so I had to find another entrance and it just messed me all up. I was seriously freaking out. But, I found it and made the long drive home.

I spent Friday morning working, FINALLY, and then I took a really long nap since I only got 4.5 hours of sleep the night before. I’m used to getting around 6 most days, which isn’t enough either, but 4.5 was pushing it! Then Greg took Shepard to soccer practice and I did some cleanup around the house. And then we all went to the school carnival. I had to check on my raffle baskets. They didn’t seem to have as many tickets as I was hoping. But hopefully whoever won them is very happy with all the goodies I put together! I think maybe one basket will be enough next year.

And finally today, the last in a long chain of busy, busy days. I went grocery shopping early and then to my goddaughter McKenna’s dance recital. I’ve never been to a recital before – it was so much fun! I loved all the colorful outfits! It made me really want to start going to all the local dance recitals filled with kids I actually know. It was a very lengthy event, though, and McKenna wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t get to see her afterward. Instead I had to go pick up some more cold groceries and head home.

Once at home I found out from Greg that I missed the police being here, asking about a string of car burglaries that have been going on in the area. So that was crazy. Then I tried to take a nap, but there was just too much going on. Right after I gave up, Shepard came running into the room crying and Greg took his hand away after a hug and saw he was covered in blood. So we rushed Shepard to the ER for a gash on his head and he ended up getting two staples. So now both of my kids have had staples in their heads. He was very brave, though, and got to pick out our dinner meal. He wanted Mod Pizza, but I seriously could not deal with leaving town again tonight, so we went with the local joint instead.

And now here we are. The week is done. FINALLY. Besides the boys – Caden especially – being pretty grouchy and difficult all week with the added pressure of needing to “be good” on Mother’s Day and Daddy’s birthday, it WAS a good week. I’m just really tired. And so behind on work and feeling very discouraged about ever being able to catch up with summer just two weeks away. And a garage sale two weeks after that with a MASSIVE load of work that will need to be done first. I just need to breathe.

Our Colorado Vacation

At the beginning of the month, Greg and I took a trip to Colorado to celebrate (a little early) our 13th anniversary. I’m still not sure if the timing of the trip was the greatest idea because we really needed to get away and didn’t want to wait until late July when it next worked out best. But it also left me frantic and more overwhelmed than ever to get back home having missed an extremely valuable week in keeping up with everything that needs to be done in the month of May. I don’t think I’d purposely go with that timing for a vacation again, but the trip itself was definitely worth it! We really had a great time exploring a state that neither of us had ever been to before.

Wednesday

We began our trip on Wednesday after bringing the boys to school. Even though we had a direct flight and no delays, it felt like one of the longest travel days ever. But we finally made it to Boulder in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, it rained that entire first evening we were there, but it was the only day we had bad weather, so I can’t complain.

Our first order of business was getting SOMETHING in our stomachs. We ran out of time to eat at the airport as planned, so we found a coffee shop first thing and I got a mocha and Greg had a smoothie. Then we went to the Boulder Farmers Market, which was our main reason for heading straight to Boulder from the airport. It was their first Wednesday market of the season and fairly small, but still worth checking out! Every booth had samples and at least half of them were various hot sauces and dips. We bought a sample pack of six sauces to bring back home with us that were delicious. Then we walked around Pearl Street, checking out some of the shops. We were basically the only people there! It was my favorite of all the shopping areas we went to. My favorite store was the Art Market Gift Shop, filled with cool things local artists made.

We also went to this amazing kitchen store called Peppercorn. They had the biggest selection of cookbooks I had ever seen. Absolute heaven!

We had dinner at a restaurant called Mountain Sun. The decor was very eclectic and unique. Greg had a chorizo burger and I had a blackened chicken sandwich. This was probably my least favorite meal, though Greg liked his. I also just wasn’t feeling the greatest that whole day and not super interested in eating anything. After dinner we headed to Target to buy some water and soda and then checked into our hotel – The Westin in Westminster.

Thursday

We started our day mid morning at a restaurant right by the hotel called Snooze an A.M. Eatery. This is a chain restaurant around Denver which is apparently VERY popular in the mornings. I have to say, it did not disappoint!! Greg loved his french toast and my sandwich was incredible! It was a soft but toasty everything seeded bun with green goddess cream cheese, an egg, bacon, and some sort of citrus vinaigrette arugula. So good.

I took a picture of this same view on Wednesday afternoon when it was completely gray with the windshield coated in rain. This day it was so much nicer!! We could actually see the mountains as we headed toward Estes Park.

We drove all the way up to the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and then decided against going in. There’s a $25 fee and at the beginning of May, very little of the park is actually open due to so much snow left on the roads. Instead we drove back to a little information building and walked around.

So I mostly wanted to go to Estes Park because my parents are having their vacation there next week and I didn’t want to find out they did something really cool that we had missed because we chose not to drive that far into the mountains. Unfortunately, we didn’t really find much to do there, other than walk around the little town and stop at a few mountain and lake scenic spots. It didn’t help that we were FREEZING and definitely not dressed for such high winds and cold temperatures and snow beneath our only pairs of shoes.

We drove really high up to Lily Lake, which had a simple trail around the edges. But I was way too cold to even attempt it, plus there was still snow and slush on everything. But it was pretty! We had enough after that and headed back east.

Our next stop was the Sawmill Ponds hiking area near Boulder. It was a 1.2 mile loop that took you past 18 different ponds! I think this might have been my favorite thing we did on the trip because it was absolutely gorgeous and there was hardly anybody else there.

I will admit that the trail was so deserted that for the first time in my adult life I had to pee “in the wild.” I was desperate!

So beautiful! Perfect weather, perfect everything. I loved it there.

We had dinner at another really unique place called The Sink. We got some happy hour martinis, jalapeno poppers, and a delicious bbq chicken pizza. It was all really tasty!

Before heading back to our hotel we stopped at another park to view the Flat Irons in Boulder. I think Greg would have liked to have walked a little further into the trail, but my legs were SO tired and that martini hit me harder probably than anything I’ve ever had before (I almost never drink).

But we sat on a big rock and just enjoyed the views. We really loved all the gorgeous nature areas we could just pull off of and revel in. Our best vacations together are the ones filled with beautiful outdoor sights.

I felt pretty bad about it, but we went back to the hotel at 5:30 because I was so tired. Strangely, this was the vacation that Greg wanted to go go go and I wanted a little more resting time. We’re usually very much the opposite! Though to be fair, I was still waking up at my normal time, meaning I was awake 4-5 hours before him every day!

Friday

I was a little on the cranky side Friday morning. Mostly frustrated with my body and how out of shape I’m in and how much my ankle has just wrecked me from ever feeling normal and good. We went to The Denver Biscuit Company for a late breakfast, which is a restaurant I absolutely wanted to check out. But the wait took forever and then we were seated at the bar and the food did not sit right with me. Greg had a chicken biscuit with local honey, stone ground mustard, and pickles. I had a Nashville hot chicken biscuit with ranch dressing and pickles. Somehow the combination of flavors on mine just did not taste great, but I wanted to go there so badly I tried my best to finish it off and then felt kind of crappy for the next half the day.

Our next stop was the original Tattered Cover Bookstore. We realized later they have locations all over, but I think we went to the biggest one. It was amazing! So big and unique. Our only sadness is that only a small portion of the store was actually used (and cheaper) books. But we spent quite a long time just looking around at everything. I bought two books and a notebook.

Our next stop was the Denver Botanic Gardens. Honestly, I was not that impressed. I think Olbrich Gardens in Madison is nicer. And it’s free! I was also just cranky and tired and not feeling great, so all the wild and loud school groups touring, plus all the very slow elderly people looking at every single plant, were just all getting on my nerves. It was hot too! That Colorado sun is blazing, even though the temps were only in the 60’s. I’m not sure how long we actually spent here, but it wasn’t probably more than an hour. There were certainly some pretty flowers, but nothing that blew me away. It all felt a bit artificial and contained compared to the amazing mountain views just twenty minutes outside the city.

Next we searched out Union Station. I love food markets and Denver apparently has like five or six of them. Once we realized how horrific the parking situation was, we just picked one. It was kind of a nightmare trying to find a place to park that wasn’t going to cost a fortune and then we had to walk so far to get there. I was surprised to see how few stores were actually in Union Station, which is, in fact, a working train station. But it was cool to see and Greg got some ice cream and I had a delicious blackberry honey latte. I love checking out new coffee shops hoping they have some sort of signature or seasonal drinks. This is the first place on the trip that actually did. After the station we walked a few blocks to Milk Market, another food market. That one had tons of options, but we were saving up to eat at a taco place. We finished our two hours we paid for of parking by checking out the Millennium Bridge.

We had dinner at a place we both found independently on our searches and really wanted to go to, Tacos Tequila Whiskey. They just had a menu filled with tacos and salsas and you filled out which ones you wanted. Greg had some sort of fried chicken and pork tacos. I had a saucy chicken and a vegetarian one with grilled cheese and poblano peppers and corn in a chipotle sauce. They were SO good. I ordered another vegetarian one and Greg ordered their special taco, which was pork belly and some sauces. Overall, a really delightful meal!

Our next hotel was in Colorado Springs and the traffic was pretty terrible for a Friday evening, so we took a short detour to Matthews-Winters Park to walk around and sit by a stream. It was SO beautiful there. Everything was beautiful really! But this particular spot was like in the center of a valley and we had mountains on every side. I loved it.

We managed to go to these new mountain ranges every night about the same time – they were amazing to see in person, but terrible for taking photos when the sun was hitting at exactly the wrong spot!

We finally made it to The Academy Hotel in Colorado Springs. We were here for three nights and I was really disappointed to see that our only window looked over the hotel lobby/pool/breakfast area/fire pit resting area. I can’t believe anyone would design a hotel next to the mountains and not let every room have an outdoor window!! I think the hotel tried really hard to still provide a great experience with an awesome breakfast and lots of amenities, but the lack of a view made our room just feel very dark and depressing.

We finished the night going to Ute Valley Park, a few miles from the hotel. Gorgeous! There are no bad views in Colorado if you’re outside!

Saturday

On Saturday we split up. The entire reason we picked Colorado in the first place was so Greg could visit one of his college friends before he moved out west. He was planning to take a trip no matter what, so we combined it into our anniversary vacation. We had breakfast at the hotel and then went to Poor Richard’s, which was a unique book/gift store. Then we wandered around Colorado Springs until Greg eventually got picked up and I did some more shopping on my own. I’m not sure if it was because it was so early and a Saturday, but Colorado Springs seemed SO much nicer than Denver, in terms of just walking around and checking out shops. And ease of parking! I had lunch at TByrd’s Tacos with a chicken and fried avocado taco. They were good, they were just unexpectedly both piled high with onions (descriptions both said peppers) which I had to take off, which then took off most of the sauce and cheese. But it was a good choice for eating on my own.

I really liked the store Terra Verde and some fancy chocolate shop where I bought these blonde pearls which were AMAZING. I really wish I had bought the bigger bag. I stopped at Pikes Peak Lemonade, at the recommendation of someone on facebook. I don’t like lemonade, but I tried a few samples and then bought a raspberry puree iced tea. My only complaint about Colorado restaurants is that they don’t seem to believe in using ice with their water, so it was nice to have a refreshing cold drink! I was pretty tired after that, so I went back to the hotel for a nap. Then I sought out this recommended Decadent coffee shop for a coffee, which I didn’t really like much.

I met Greg and his friend for dinner back in downtown Colorado Springs at Bingo Burger. I wasn’t super hungry, so I just got the loaded tater tots, which were sooooo good. I love that in Colorado they have green chile things added to so many menu items. I had some version of them on almost everything I ate the whole trip. Loved it.

Greg and his friend spent the day at Seven Falls, exploring the outskirts of Garden of the Gods, eating, and playing at an arcade. Greg and I went back to see the official Garden of the Gods park after dinner. Amazingly, very few people showed up in my photos, but there were a ton of prom kids everywhere posing for pictures. But the further we walked the less crowded it was. I’m really glad we went that night instead of saving it for morning as planned.

I kept looking for the “kissing camels” part of the rock and we didn’t find it until the very end. I realized last night going through my photos it was actually right at the entrance and I had already taken a photo of it without realizing!

We finished the night seeing the Balancing Rock. Couldn’t avoid getting extra people into those pictures.

Sunday

By Sunday we were kind of floundering on what to do. I didn’t plan the second part of the trip as well as the first because everything was really up in the air with Greg’s friend and I didn’t want to overschedule us. But, I should have found the time to make some solid lists of ideas because it would have avoided some stress of the day. But I think it worked out okay. We started at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which I didn’t realize was something we had to pay for as it’s also a museum and large gift shop. The dwellings were a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it was still really interesting to see and imagine the Pueblo Indians actually making their lives in such cramped quarters.

The only time of the trip we had perfect selfie lighting! ūüėÄ

Where they baked their bread.

As we continued down the road toward Pikes Peak, we stopped next at the top of a mountain for Cave of the Winds. The shortest tour was an hour and a half and cost a lot, so we opted to just walk around the grounds. We were there for the mountains anyway, not the caves! Plus we didn’t have anything with us to get warmer underground, as that was the hottest day of the trip so far (only low 70’s, but that sun!).

I was legitimately terrified driving up this mountain, but the views at the top were stunning. We actually spent quite a bit of time here just walking around and taking it all in.

Caden really likes ropes courses, so we took a photo of this one to show him. Even though he’s scared of heights and it’s hanging off the side of a mountain, he said he definitely wants to do it and expects us to take him to Colorado ASAP just for this attraction. I couldn’t even go on the overhanging decks because I was so freaked out.

We stopped in Green Mountain Falls (thinking there would be falls, but if there were, we never found them) and walked out to this little island gazebo. There was a drawing next to the walkway of the town in winter with all the kids ice skating on the pond. It was so idyllic.

We drove as far as Woodland Park, trying to get some good photos of Pikes Peak, which never happened. We stopped at a place called Coffee Leo where I ended up getting a chocolate banana coffee shake and an everything bagel for a snack. The one frustrating thing traveling with Greg is that our eating (okay two things – also our sleep schedules) schedules are so polar opposite. I was STARVING by the time we ate this around noon, and he was still full from his small hotel breakfast. We didn’t have a plan for any specific restaurants that day, so I convinced him to get a bagel too (they were so good!). Afterward we stopped in Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City for me to walk around and check out the shops. I wasn’t prepared for how touristy they were going to be. But it was still nice to see what was there. I was pretty exhausted and we were getting pretty crabby with each other by that point (lack of a plan is never good for us), so we went back to the hotel so I could take a nap.

Because it was Cinco de Mayo and Mexican food is always best, we decided to join the masses and went to a Tex Mex place called Chuy’s for dinner. After a ridiculously long wait (about an hour), we engorged ourselves on all this food. I know Mexican food never photographs well, but it was SO good. My chimichanga was on a bed of Colorado green chile sauce with a side of green chile rice – perfection!

We stopped one last time at a “scenic overlook” right off the highway before turning in for the night.

Monday

Our last day kind of turned out to be a bust. Our flight was at 7pm and our original plan was to spend the day in Denver doing whatever we missed on Friday. But neither of us liked Denver that much and didn’t want to deal with the traffic and people again. So we were packing up and trying to decide what to do when we got a text from the airline that our flight had been cancelled! I’ve never had that happen before. Fortunately we were able to quickly book another flight four hours earlier. So we originally would have gotten home after midnight, and now this put us at 8:30. Which is a lot better! I’m not sure why I didn’t pick that flight originally, unless it were a lot more expensive. So it worked out, it just ended up being kind of a waste of a day. We went to Castle Rock and checked out a few shops, returned the rental car, and then spent a long time at the airport. This is the only photo I took the entire day. I had a super dry and totally generic $10 turkey sandwich with a peach tea and Greg had a giant bowl of Asian food. We made it back in time to surprise and say goodnight to Caden. Shepard was already sleep.

And that was our Colorado vacation! It was genuinely one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken. I had so much fun seeing all the beautiful sights with Greg and we got to eat a lot of great food. What more can a girl ask for?!

May 2019 Goals

Whew! I didn’t think I was going to get this post written today. It’s been a day of total insanity, trying to get ready to leave on our vacation tomorrow morning. I only got about half the things done I wanted to do, with no break in the last 15 hours. It probably would have been fine if I hadn’t spent three hours running unexpected errands in Madison. But Greg apparently really needed mouthwash. And Target FINALLY had a deal on cat litter. And Shepard was desperate to get the new sandals I ordered, but weren’t supposed to come until we were gone and I wanted to see if I looked at a different Target if I could find them. (I didn’t. But then they came in the mail today anyway, even though tracking still says tomorrow.) I was doing twenty different things in five different directions and I am about at my wit’s end. I’m ready to call it, though. The only major thing left is three loads of laundry that should have been folded and put away. But it’s just going to have to wait. I can possibly get it done before we leave tomorrow. Maybe.

Anyway! I really wanted to write this out tonight so I could have my goals in mind this coming week, even if I’m not officially counting it as a time frame where I NEED to be thinking of my goals. I know I’m going to feel just as stressed the day after we get back as I do today, so better to be prepared! I’m trying to take it easy on myself again this month because there is SO MUCH going on. There isn’t much spare time for anything besides getting through life and all the fun activities and celebrations coming up.

1¬†–¬†Have¬†an¬†AWESOME vacation!

I need it. Greg and I both need it. I feel like there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun or relaxation in the last couple of months. I really can’t even believe how busy our schedule has been without our kids really even being in more than one activity at a time. Plus my sleep schedule has been so messed up for like six months which never helps with anything. I’m looking forward to GETTING AWAY . I was actually quite stressed about it, but multiple people have told me I’m allowed to forget about everything for a week, so I’m going to try. As best I can. ūüôā We have a pretty loose itinerary for the week, which doesn’t always work out very well with our super anti-spontaneous personalities. But way too often I go on trips expecting to do so many things and then I’m disappointed if we can’t fit something in. So I created large lists of possibilities with a ton of restaurant choices and we’ll just see what we feel like. Or do that the first day and if it feels too stressful I’ll create super detailed plans each night for the rest of the days! At any rate, I’m really excited to see Colorado – a state we’ve never been to before. It’ll be really great!

2¬†–¬†Treat¬†myself¬†to¬†a¬†special¬†Mother’s¬†Day¬†weekend

So because I have very little control over what happens on actual Mother’s Day, I have a longstanding tradition of spending the Saturday before out shopping by myself. Last year I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t drive yet and I could barely walk with my crutches. My family still took me to the farmer’s market, but that was a far cry from the kind of day I like to have. This year’s Pre-Mother’s Day will be my first time at the farmer’s market this season, so it’ll be extra special! I already informed Greg that I will be gone the entire day. Maybe I’ll see a movie or just browse every bookstore in Madison until I don’t even want to look at another book. No matter what, you better believe I’m going to make the most of that day! I also strongly encourage other moms to do something like this too, especially if you spend most of Mother’s Day celebrating grandmas. It’s SO worth it treating yourself to a special day doing whatever YOU want to do.

3¬†–¬†Do¬†a¬†6¬†year¬†anniversary¬†Heartstring¬†Annie¬†giveaway¬†and¬†sale

I was hoping to have my giveaway doll finished up today so I could jump into this right when I get back, but no such luck. But hopefully by the middle of next week I can get going on my belated anniversary celebration. It’s a great way to drum up some new customers, plus I’m sure I’ll be needing that boost in sales!

4¬†–¬†Finish¬†my¬†Hope*Writers¬†90¬†Day¬†Direction¬†course

So it’s still a little unclear to me if this course is supposed to take 90 days to complete, or it’s supposed to give you a timeline for your first 90 days of deciding the direction you want to take in your writing. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, because I think most of the videos are taken from the conference they did 2 years ago. So three day’s worth of conference material spread out over almost four weeks. It’s going to be tough with all the doll stuff also going on, but I’d like to make it a higher priority than I have these past two weeks since I signed up. I’d love to have some sort of plan for how I want to proceed with both of my career directions over the summer, so hopefully this will help me figure out how much time I should be devoting to writing versus everything else in my life!

5¬†–¬†Go¬†through¬†all¬†my¬†new¬†cookbooks

I still have the two cookbooks from Christmas. I have another I bought a few weeks ago. And two more came today on release day. So five cookbooks. A ton of new recipes to peruse. Infinite possibilities and inspiration! Even if it takes me an entire day, I want to get through them all and actually start making new foods.

I think that’s enough! I didn’t want to make it an actual goal because it sounds kind of dumb, but basically I really just want to enjoy the month of May. There are always so many fun things going on, but I can’t help getting depressed about the school year coming to an end. Summer is really, really hard on me. I am an extreme introvert and not the most patient or fun mom, especially when I’m often trying to continue on with my own full time working in the middle of all the added responsibilities of kids being around all day. I’m hoping this is the May I can let go of my worries and just enjoy each day as it comes. We have a week of vacation, which will be great. I have a long overdue night out with a few friends scheduled. My pre-Mother’s Day festivities. Actual Mother’s Day. Greg’s birthday. The Happier Podcast live show in Milwaukee. My goddaughter’s dance recital. The school carnival. Shepard’s soccer practices and games. Our 13 year anniversary. And maybe, I think, seeing Hudson for the first time in almost four months! It’s such a busy month, but it has the potential to be really great if I can just get out of my head and enjoy my life. I think I’m ready.

April 2019 Reflections

Another month behind us. April felt rough. It was honestly an extremely stressful month for me. It’s normally one of our quietest months of the year, but this year it was so filled with angst over everything coming up that I could never really relax or enjoy myself. There was just too much to do. I hate this side of myself, the inability to just find joy in life, no matter how crazy it is. I like knowing that everything is under control and April seemed to be slipping through my hands day after day. My goals for the month weren’t at the forefront of my mind the way they usually are, but I think I did okay despite the circumstances.

1¬†–¬†No¬†unnecessary¬†spending

Okay, so I failed at this one. I didn’t want to put off the gift buying I needed to do for May, so I went ahead and ordered Greg’s birthday presents and Mother’s Day presents, which was acceptable, but then I always find Mother’s Day gifts and also buy something for myself from the same store because I can’t help it. I also ordered a lot of summer clothes for myself. And I’ve been on a desperate hunt to find new sandals, which resulted in like six different online orders and five of those returned because my feet are ridiculously wide, even more so since the broken ankle and nothing fits. I also bought a few books that I shouldn’t have, and two new pillows to spruce up the futon in the living room. And I purchased quite a few things for the raffle baskets I’m working on for school. I think when everything feels out of control, I turn to retail therapy way too often. I recognize this and I’m trying to turn it around, but it’s hard. I like pretty new things. I like to treat myself with gifts (like new books) because gifts are my love language and I’m not getting them from anyone else, so I might as well get them for myself. Especially when I’m stressed out and exhausted and just want to find some tidbits of joy. Anyway, I will definitely admit I failed 100% at this goal for April.

2¬†–¬†No¬†fast¬†food

I did okay. We did eat at Culver’s before Shepard’s concert, which I was assuming would happen and it’s fine. And there was one day last week where I was desperately needing a day away from my life, so I treated myself to a sausage biscuit from McDonald’s (my fast food breakfast weakness, even though I don’t generally like sausage at all, so it’s a weird choice), a Starbuck’s cold brew, and Qdoba for lunch all in one day. Don’t judge me. ūüôā I’m not sure I can call it fast food, but I also got a fried chicken sandwich and fries at the movie theater last Saturday and felt like total crap for the next 24 hours, which is a good reminder of why I’m trying REALLY hard to stay away from all things fried. So yes, I admit I had a bit of weakness, but overall I think I did pretty well. With the exception of this last week, I barely ate out at all. And I tried to make better choices when I did.

3¬†–¬†Take¬†a¬†walk¬†every¬†day

I meant to record this in my bullet journal to be absolutely certain I followed through, but…I didn’t. But we walked to school every day except yesterday when it was raining. We went on a few evening family walks. There were two or three days where I went on much longer walks with Annie. I walked to the post office midday a couple of times. It wasn’t a great month for exercising, but it was better than the months before!

4¬†–¬†Read¬†a¬†new¬†cookbook

Okay, so I cheated a bit on this and instead of reading one of the cookbooks I intended to read, I bought a new one and read it immediately. And it was amazing. So I definitely want to carve out some time in the next few weeks to go through all the others I haven’t yet looked at. It’s so wonderful getting that new inspiration of things to make. It’s just a matter of forcing myself to sit down and do it.

5¬†–¬†Finish¬†two¬†or¬†more¬†shelf¬†books

I read three. Though one of them was that new cookbook, so it probably doesn’t count. And one was a new April released book I had pre-ordered, so that probably shouldn’t count either! But I’ve been verrrrrrry slowly reading my huge stack of nonfiction books too. One of these days they’ll all finish around the same time and I’ll have a crazy nonfiction filled month of book recaps!

6¬†–¬†Plan¬†for¬†May

Ready or not, May is here (well, almost)! I think I succeeded at this, stressful as it was. All my Heartstring Annie doll making plans were what stressed me out the most these past few weeks and I ended up rearranging and changing what I wanted to do multiple times before it felt right. I ended up making teacher dolls this last week and saving my giveaway doll and hopefully a sale for next week after we get back. Vacation is fully planned out with tons of options and a loose itinerary. I have some simple Mother’s Day gifts bought and ready to go. I have Greg’s birthday presents. I’ve made significant headway on my raffle baskets, I just need to finish making all the dolls to go in them. I think our May calendar is pretty well scheduled and planned out, as long as nothing new pops up. The only thing I’m not prepared for is teacher gifts for our own teachers. Though if the ones I made for the shop don’t sell, I might just take them back, though I’d prefer to do something a bit more personalized. We’ll see on that. But overall, I think all the stress of this last month was worth it because May is going to be pretty awesome! And I’m prepared for it. ūüôā

What I Read April 2019

This was a pretty boring reading month. I did read one amazing YA fantasy book (which I typically avoid at all cost!), a pretty great nonfiction book on sex in long term relationships, and found an incredible newly released cookbook. But everything else? So middle of the road and bland. But, here goes.

F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher
Rating: 2.5

I was really disappointed by this book. This is now my third Tarryn Fisher book and just like the second one I read, this one fell so far from my high expectations after reading Mud Vein late last year. I just realized she wrote Mud Vein BEFORE this one, so I can’t even blame it on a significantly evolved writing style. Anyway. This started out with such a great twist – a fantastical element that gets you excited about the rest of the story. Unfortunately, while it’s referenced, this is never actually explained for the rest of the entire book. It could have been SO GOOD if she had used this and actually wrote a fantasy book. I was really let down by that. There was also a very bizarre character twist thrown in at the end that I just could not understand. I wanted to like this book, I even read it pretty quickly. It just did not hit the spot.

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Rating: 4 stars

I picked this book up on the glowing recommendation of Kaytee Cobb on the Currently Reading Podcast. It sounded intriguing, even though I generally shy away from historical fiction because it’s just not my thing. I mean, I’ve read plenty of it, but it’s not something that usually draws me in. But I gave it a shot and found this to be a very pleasant book! It was almost alarming how calm the characters were about the constant bombing around London while they continued to live their lives and go about their duties. Emmy was a very likeable character – it reminded me so much of Helene from 84, Charing Cross Road. I do feet there was some missing element that could have really brought this story up to a 5. But it was a mostly fun read celebrating a great friendship and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Rating: 5* stars

If you’re looking for a unique re-telling of Beauty and the Beast by a fantastic author – this is the book for you. I was enthralled by it. At first I found myself wanting to savor it because I knew it was going to be so good. Then I found myself reading way too late into the night, desperate to know the ending. Our heroine, Harper, is kidnapped from the modern world and brought into a parallel universe enchanted castle by Grey, Prince Rhen’s guardsman, and only remaining person at his side. She fights her kidnappers at every turn until circumstances change and she begins to learn about their world. She puts aside her own worries to help Rhen and his kingdom. Overall, I truly loved this book. I loved that the characters were together and interacting in almost every chapter. I was surprised at how much actually happened beyond their forced attempt to fall in love to break the curse. I was honestly more intrigued by Grey than Rhen, however, and the epilogue left me very excited about the second book coming in early 2020 (I already preordered it!). I can’t wait! I was really hoping this would be a stand alone book so I wouldn’t have to wait, though. But I think it’ll be worth it! As someone who very rarely reads fantasy, I think this book was well worth my time!

Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
Rating: DNF

This is a story about a family that falls to pieces after the older son is severely injured in a school shooting and spends the next ten years in a coma. I was intrigued by the premise, but the book started out SO slow. The writing was very “literary.” Basically – wordy. Not the type of book I usually enjoy reading, as I get the most enjoyment from snappy dialog and character interaction. The chapters alternate between different members of the family, so some of them are a lot more interesting than others. I put the book aside to read a couple of others and then when I still didn’t really want to pick this up I decided it’s not the book for me.

The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron
Rating: 3 stars

Okay, so I really hesitate to say anything negative about a person’s memoir – a life story filled with terrible things no child should ever have to go through. But this book fell a little flat for me. It was hard not to compare it to The Sound of Gravel, which is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. The authors are cousins and put out books around the same time, though they didn’t know each other before that. Between the two of them, this book just felt SO factual. It was just a straight forward retelling overview of the most striking moments of her life, but without any of the real emotional depth or storytelling behind it. If that makes sense. I was definitely interested and read the whole thing in two days, but it bothered me during the entire reading. It felt like a therapeutic retelling of one’s life. I’ll leave it at that. ūüôā

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn
Rating: 3 stars

So there’s a pretty big chance that I’m just really burned out on books about musicians on tour. I’ve read my fill of them in the last two months. Of all of them I’ve read recently, this has been the least interesting. It also really skimmed over the tour life, but still held all of the usual stereotypes – getting drunk and using women. This particular story is about two 18 year old country music stars with tragic family histories that find a way to come together after a summer on tour. Overall…it was okay. Not memorable. I was so desperate to finish it up that I just skimmed through the last few chapters and didn’t even read the epilogue. It’s pretty rare for me to be that desperate to be done with a book.

The Party by Lisa Hall
Rating: 3.5 stars

I thought this book had a pretty strong beginning. A woman wakes up in a strange room without half of her clothing and feels like she has the worst hangover of her life with no recollection of the night before. She realizes she’s at a neighbor’s house after a wild New Year’s Eve party and she’s pretty sure she was raped. The rest of the book is her struggling to get her memory back while she does her own investigating of everyone that could have been involved after the police deem the case unsolvable without any sufficient evidence. The main reason I enjoyed this book is that it was fast and easy and kept my attention during a week that very little else was. But near the end I was so sick of her repeatedly trying to figure out who her attacker was with still no memory of the incident. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters. So if you’re looking for a fast thriller, this is a good pick.

After by Anna Todd
Rating: 2 stars

I hated this book and I LOATHED these characters. I picked it up without knowing anything about it – I just knew the movie version came out and it seemed intriguing, so I wanted to quickly read the book before I went to the theater. (It ended up only being in the theater for two weeks so I missed out.) Then I started reading and could not stand the characters. Let’s talk about a boy who gives off every single red flag that could possibly exist for being bad relationship material. Throw in a girl who thinks it’s fine to overlook those flags, cheat on her boyfriend, ignore her mom, give up her friends, all for the sake of winning over red flag boy. Seriously, this book was the worst. I finished it basically so I could write this review. I also had hopes that they might redeem themselves by the end. I didn’t realize until it was abruptly finished that there are FOUR MORE BOOKS. And sadly, I kind of want to read them. Hate read them? I mean, I was invested enough to spend an entire week of my reading time getting through this book. But I hated every single character SO MUCH. So unless you want to see horrible people make terrible decisions again and again and again, I would advise staying away from this series!

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Rating: 3 stars

April is really shaping up to be the month of mediocre reads. Slow books that seem to take me three times as long as it normally does to get through them. In part because I’ve been so busy and distracted and in part because the books just aren’t drawing me in. This is another middle of the road story for me. There was nothing wrong with it, I just wasn’t that interested in it. Two teenage amature sleuths get together to solve a mystery at the hotel where they work. It sounded like the perfect kind of YA that I love, but I just never got into it. The characters behaved how real life teenagers probably would – which was honestly kind of boring. I just wanted a lot more personality from Birdie to amp up everything. Overall, it was fine, just not the best.

Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship by Stephen Snyder
Rating: 4.5 stars

This was a compulsively readable book about sex in long term relationships. I’ve started reading a handful of similar books over the years and lost interest so quickly because they were too scientific, too technical, and too boring. This was interesting and relatable from the first to last page. I enjoyed the deep perspective of a 30 plus year sex therapist and how he’s worked with couples over the years. Even though it’s technically about sex in relationships, the emphasis of every chapter was much more about the relationship itself and what could inherently be causing hang ups between the couples. I only knock it down half a star because the majority of the book only followed about three couples and their specific issues. I wish it had provided more examples of differing relationships or struggles, even though it might have gotten hard to keep track of. Overall, I’d highly recommend this for any married or long time couple.

Tex Mex by Ford Fry
Rating: 5* stars

This was perhaps the most exciting cookbook I have ever purchased because it was filled with all the foods I actually want to eat every single day of my life. There were tons of gorgeous photos accompanied by a colorful and fun design. There is a lot of background information about tex mex food, but it’s interesting and succinct enough that you won’t lose interest. I bought this cookbook completely on a whim when I saw it listed as a new release and I’m SO glad I did. With the exception of the seafood and alcoholic beverage chapters, I marked almost every single recipe as something I want to try. I loved that all of the recipes looked flavorful and delicious without any hard to find ingredients or techniques. I’m so excited to dig in and start trying out these recipes. I think this will prove to be an essential cookbook in my collection that I will turn to often!

The Roommate Agreement by Emma Hart
Rating: 3.5 stars

If you’re looking for a light, fast, sweet romance, this was a good one. Two long time best friends end up living together and despite their very different living styles, end up feeling more for each other than friendship. I liked the characters and that they were pretty kind to each other, despite the constant sarcasm and quips. I didn’t feel extremely invested in their lives and felt that some things were a bit repetitive (how many times can you talk about Shelby’s introversion and say the words “best friends?”). But that didn’t stop me from reading the book in a day and a half. Overall, it was enjoyable and a nice palette cleanser.

What I Watched AND Listened To April 2019

I guess this is no longer worth reiterating, but I watched A LOT of tv this month. I wonder how much I would actually watch if I weren’t watching while I sewed. Probably none, other than the one show a night I watch with Greg. It’s kind of awesome being able to binge watch so many things while I work, but I realize it’s also probably slowly rotting my brain. This past week I’ve mostly been listening to podcasts AND music. It’s been a nice change of pace!

TV¬†–¬†Alone

Shameless

I finished out the current season, though I’m not entirely convinced I actually watched the last episode. I thought I maybe just saw the preview for the last episode and thought I watched it?? It’s a mystery that will probably never be solved. Shameless continues to draw me into its crazy mess, but frustrates me to no end how every character just continues to destroy their lives. I think there’s just one more season planned and I really, really, really hope most of the kids can find some redemption.

Jane the Virgin

Oh, Michael. Sweet Michael. So much more interesting and exciting than Raphael. Did they always plan to bring him back?! I can’t believe how long they went trying to get Jane and Raph back together only to have Michael appear back in their lives. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t introduce him back if he wasn’t meant to end up with Jane. It’s just such a sad and depressing love triangle to watch week after week. I want everyone to be happy.

God Friended Me

This came to a nice close. I’m not sure if it’s been renewed for next season, but I certainly enjoyed this dose of positive tv every week.

The Resident

WHY are they messing with Conrad and Nic?! Are AJ and Mina going to have some sort of bonding moment in the season finale tomorrow?! I love this show with all my heart. I think I cry during every episode. So, so good.

Whiskey Cavalier

This has been an interesting thing to pick up. The only thing I’ve ever seen Scott Foley in was Scandal and I loved him in it. So sexy! It’s definitely been hard to wrap my head around seeing him in a similar agent type role, but as a super sensitive/happy/friendly guy. I basically watch this show for him. The rest of the cast is pretty meh to me right now.

Modern Family

Same as always. It’s okay. It’s there.

Good Girls

I’m enjoying the twists and turns of the second season. It’s definitely not one of my favorite shows, but I enjoy it.

The Good Cop

Basically I’ll watch every show with the word “good” in the title. I just picked this randomly on netflix to watch one day and ended up binging it this week. I liked it! I’m fascinated by Josh Groban as his nerdy perfectionist character. I couldn’t care less about Tony Danza and all that drama, though.

The Good Fight

I’m glad this is back! I am LOVING Michael Sheen as part of the ongoing cast for awhile. He’s just so insane! It makes me really happy. I’m not too sure about the rest of the show and it’s extremely politically focused agenda. I always watch it and feel like I might be hunted down for watching it. I’m kind of amazed it’s on regular cable like that.

Life in Pieces

This was off the air so long (or at least it felt like it) that I wasn’t even sure it was still on. But it’s back!

A.P. Bio

I love this one too. So ridiculous, but also surprisingly funny!

TV- Together

Santa Clarita Diet

So I admit this show’s premise is pretty outlandish, but I’ve always really enjoyed it. I feel like it has a lot of physical comedy, which is kind of rare. You just really need to be watching everyone’s facial expressions (especially Joel’s) to really get the most out of it. Unfortunately, I just heard it was cancelled, so we’ll never get any kind of closure. I’m really happy with how the third season ended between Abby and Eric, though.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

It’s finally over! WHEW. I really hated it by the end. I guess I can understand how the whole point was for Rebecca to grow and find contentment from her own inner strength and health. But…I just totally stopped caring.

Superstore

I feel like this is really falling flat lately. There are definitely funny moments, but as a whole I’m just not that interested anymore. Maybe because so much of the show is about Amy and I just don’t like her very much. I don’t like Jonah that much either. That makes it hard to enjoy as a whole.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Same as Superstore. It’s okay. All the characters are pretty annoying.

Killing Eve

It’s back! So excited! I’m so glad Villanelle is still alive. What a total psychopath! She is so incredibly entertaining, though. I really like this one.

You’re¬†the¬†Worst

So we’re only two episodes into this five season series that I’ve literally never heard of it before. But it’s kind of hysterical. Again, mostly because of the hilarious facial expressions. It’s pretty crass, but I think we’ll probably stick with it because it was surprisingly funny.

Movies

Blockers

We picked this movie at random one weekend when we were out of current tv shows to watch. I thought it would be really stupid, the way most comedies are these days. But I might have laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed before. Don’t get me wrong, it WAS stupid. But it was also SO DANG FUNNY. I was on the floor choking because I was laughing so hard.

Shazam

I liked this! I wanted to see it just because I’ve loved Zachary Levi since Chuck. I really liked the band of foster kids and how they fought together to be a family. I was not so impressed by all the genuinely scary monsters and long scenes in a stone dungeon type place. But it was sweet and funny and I really enjoyed it.

The Perfect Date

Netflix is really milking Noah Centineo for all he’s worth! Of the three movies I’ve seen him in now, I liked this one the least. I don’t regret watching it (while multitasking), but it wasn’t that great.

Avengers: End Game

We saw this yesterday and I thought it was great! No spoilers, I just wish that some of the characters had a lot more screen time than they did. But it was a very worthy conclusion to all of the Marvel movies thus far.

Someone Great

I watched this today and honestly thought it was pretty dumb. I didn’t understand the point of it. It was just SAD. If you have such an amazing relationship, why would you give it up so easily? I thought the female friendship aspect was so exaggerated with a ridiculous amount of swearing. I definitely do not recommend wasting your time on this movie.

Podcasts

It’s been awhile since I’ve recommended any new podcasts because I just keep listening to the same handful again and again. But I’ve finally been in the mood to venture out a little bit and have a couple to suggest if you’re looking for something new!

David¬†Tennant¬†Does¬†a¬†Podcast¬†With…

This podcast is a delight! I’ve always liked David Tennant, at least since Broadchurch,¬†which is one of the first things I remember seeing him in. This podcast makes me realize what an amazing person he actually is. Each episode is an interview with a fellow actor or actress that he’s worked with. They just sit and have a conversation. So far I’ve only listened to episodes with people I actually know – Olivia Colman, Krysten Ritter, Jennifer Garner, James Corden, and Michael Sheen. But because David has a working relationship with them, their conversations are full of ease and excitement. He mostly sticks to career related topics to respect their personal privacies, but it’s still very interesting.

Blackout

I’ve only listened to two episodes of this fictional suspense podcast, but I think it’s going to be amazing. The dramatic quality to the entire thing is fantastic. I love Rami Malek as the main character and all the mysterious plot twists. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to a fictional podcast, so I’m excited to continue on with it.

And the usuals, in case this is the first podcast post you’re reading of mine and want my tried and true!

  • The Popcast (DO IT!)
  • Popcast Friend of the Show (Patreon – I pay for this and it is SO worth your money)
  • Penpals (I love it so much!)
  • Spilled Milk
  • Front Porch with the Fitzes
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • 10 Things to Tell You
  • The Lazy Genius
  • Lazy Sisters (Patreon – I pay for this)

Music

Music?! What?! So I’m not hugely into music. I like it, I listen to things on occasion. But I’ve never been super into any bands or been that deeply committed to finding new bands. But I’ve recently found myself OBSESSED with The Jonas Brothers. I never, ever listened to them when they were a band before. I only listen to Christian radio, and most of the time that’s the only music I’m really exposed to. But I follow Priyanka Chopra on instagram, which led me to some interest in Nick Jonas, which led to their new releases of “Sucker” and “Cool.” I have listened to both songs probably a thousand times by now. I’m kind of obsessed. I can’t wait for the full album to release in June! I’ve also been listening to a little Josh Groban, due to his influence on me in The¬†Good¬†Cop. I really like this newest song “River.”

Well, that’s about it! Normally I’d go back and add photos for all of these, but because we have a guest staying in Caden’s room tonight, Caden is on the chair next to me trying to fall asleep so I need to finish up and get off my computer. I’d love to hear your recommendations for any of these things!

Sunday Intentions 04.28.2019

May begins this week! Eek! I almost had a panic attack this morning when I realized that the three months of kids being around me every minute of the day (constantly wanting food) while I’m trying to work is almost here. It’ll be here in a snap. I’M NOT READY. I’m never ready. It’s certainly gotten easier over the years. But Caden still whines nonstop that he doesn’t know what to doooooooo if he’s not allowed to be playing games at that moment. It’s really fun.

In exciting news, Greg and I are heading out to Colorado on Wednesday to celebrate our 13th anniversary a few weeks early! Neither of us have ever been there and it’s a state we’ve always wanted to visit, so it should be a lot of fun! I’ve been pretty stressed about a lot of stuff lately, but my goal is to seriously just forget about everything else and have a good time while we’re there. Dolls and writing and everything else can be put on hold for a week and it won’t kill me. It might even make me better by the time I get back! I’m a bit nervous about leaving the boys so long during the school year – I’m not sure we’ve ever done that before. It just gets tricky with the longer commute and cold lunches and homework and soccer practices and everything. Not that I think the grandparents can’t handle it, but I still feel bad about it. But it’ll be okay. It’ll be worth it.

That’s about it for my intentions for the week! I’m hoping to make a little more headway on some dolls tomorrow so I’m in a better place to start my giveaway right when we get back. And Tuesday will be spent madly packing for everyone and all the directions we’re going. With Jack’s prescription foods and medicine, even taking care of the pets is pretty complicated right now. But if I can just get through the next two days smoothly, the trip will be amazing!

Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday Reflections 04.27.2019

I get daily emails from hope*writers with tips on focusing my writing. Today’s question was whether I want to be the kind of writer that writes for myself, or one that writes for others. I think this blog is pretty clear evidence that I mainly write for myself. I definitely appreciate those that read the bulk of my posts which are centered around my life and probably not that interesting to the masses. But then the end of the month rolls around and I desperately wish I had more readers to discuss books and tv and podcasts with me. And the occasional post where I pour my heart out on a topic that’s been weighing on me. The email I just received, however, told me that if I want it both ways I’m sure to be filled with disappointment in the long run. This is a tricky place to be, feeling called to write, but not sure how to find my direction or my audience for the things I truly want to write about. I’m curious to see if my attitude changes as I work through this direction course I’m doing. I wonder if the direction of my blog will start to change as well. It’s certainly something to mull over.

Anyway! It’s been a fast and fairly unexciting week around here. We had so many Easter leftovers that I decided to skip my regular errand running day, which turned out to be a good thing because I got a call from school that Shepard was sick. Apparently he was complaining about a headache, but it took them over two hours to call me about it. I have it written in all his health papers that if he ever says his head hurts he needs medicine and sleep IMMEDIATELY or he WILL throw up. But this is also the first time it’s ever happened at school, so whatever. He had so much sugar on Easter with almost nothing else, so I was not surprised in the least that it resulted in a migraine.

Even though it was migraine induced and therefore not contagious, because he did throw up at school (minutes before I picked him up – ugh!), he had to stay home on Tuesday too. He spent the day doing quiet activities while I worked like crazy. I thought it would be a great idea to organize all the dolls I want to make in the next month and then trace them all out and cut all the dresses, so I’d have a head start. Instead of feeling on top of the world over that choice, it just stressed me out SO MUCH. Because I really, really want to make these dolls in the next few weeks and I’m not so sure it’s logistically possible and I therefore just set myself up for failure. It also got me thinking about fifty other dolls I’d really love to make before the need for patriotic dolls hits (technically May is when everyone starts wanting them so I’m basically already behind). Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out on Tuesday. And really this whole week.

So of course instead of buckling down on Wednesday when both boys were back at school, I treated myself to a day of fun shopping! I went to all my favorite places and got some more things for my school raffle baskets (they’re going to be epic!). I also got a Starbucks coffee in the morning and Qdoba for a late lunch on my way back home. It was good to get out of the house and do something fun. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to just let go and enjoy anything. I need these occasional days away from it all.

I went to my last yoga class on Wednesday night. She said she was taking it easy on us, but I was shaking by the end! I’m glad I took the class, but I’m also glad it’s over. It was a good reminder of how amazing stretching and moving your body around really does feel. On those long sewing days I get so stiff and sore and yoga is basically the only solution. I just need to remember that!!

I spent almost all day Thursday at my sewing machine working on the doll making step I like the least before choosing the first set to start completing. Then the boys went with Grandma and Greg and I went on a date to Chili’s. It wasn’t really the most ideal time in the middle of a lot of eating out for other things and right before our vacation, but honestly, I’m sick of waiting for the ideal time for a date. It never comes. Everyone is getting busier and busier and ideal is a thing of the past. We had a gift card from a long time ago and I wanted to go out and use it!

I’m not sure if we’re the only ones, but Greg and I talk and connect like a million times more when we’re out of the house. Walks, hanging out at school functions, and especially on dates. When we don’t have all the distractions around us, we finally remember the other exists and have real conversations. It was great to get out. Unfortunately, another migraine hit Shepard on his way to Grandma’s and he slept almost straight through until Friday morning.

Friday was so chaotic and busy! Greg had a friend who drove cross country to go to a wedding and he stayed with us Friday night and will be back again Sunday afternoon. Greg took both Friday and Monday off of work to spend time with him. It’s something I was stressed about, so we were both working to get the house clean and ready for our very first houseguest. I also had like my fifth day in a row of starting to sew around 5am. My coughing is getting a little better, but now I’ve reverted back to my super early wake up times. I just can’t win!

Greg and Caden went to End Game with a few friends and I took Shepard to soccer practice. We were planning to go to a school science night, but I think everything that happened this week was really dragging Shepard down, so we ended up skipping it in favor of getting to Mod Pizza for a special dinner as soon as possible after soccer. Then we ran a few errands that will hopefully eliminate my need to leave town for anything else before our Colorado trip. It was a pretty late night. Not a great idea in retrospect because today Shepard is coughing almost as bad as he was a month and a half ago and he seems to have developed into a major cold overnight. But…it was a fun time together. I like hanging out with him out of the house too. He’s probably my best date because he’s always up for anything!

And back to today! I got VERY little sleep, got an impromptu breakfast ready for our guest, and then took Annie to the dog park for a long time. She’s been fairly neglected this week and it was showing! Then the four of us went to see End Game. It was good! I pretty uncomfortable for the entire last hour with a coffee filled bladder, and was getting pretty irritated by Shepard’s sniffling and refusal to even try to blow his nose, but the movie itself was really great! When we got back home Shepard and I both took naps. I was originally planning on getting a lot of sewing done today, but…I just don’t want to. ūüôā

That’s it for this week! Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow, but then nothing else until we’re back from Colorado!

Easter and Other Updates

Happy Easter Monday! I’m not really sure what that is, except that it’s on the calendars. Oh, it’s also Earth Day, so more appropriately – happy Earth Day! It’s been a really busy week with a jam packed holiday weekend. Lots of updates to life around here!

I forgot to mention in my post two Sundays ago that we were supposed to be at Great America that day for Greg’s employee appreciation day. But for the second year in a row the weather was horrible. They didn’t cancel it all together this year, but apparently only four rides were open and they shut down early. Such a bummer! We might be given free tickets to go at some point during the summer, but it’s always fun to go on the employee day when it’s a lot less crowded and they feed us an awesome lunch.

Shepard started soccer on Monday night. Unfortunately, he was the only one there! Apparently only he and his friend signed up for the 4:00 slot and his friend was sick. So the coach asked if we’d stick around for the 5:00 group which was a little bigger and then he spent an hour giving both boys a private lesson on all things soccer. They loved it. Caden was invited to play with them at the 5:00 time too. They decided halfway through the week to eliminate the earlier session entirely, which is kind of a bummer. They also extended it until 6:30, which is making our dinnertime a whole lot more complicated. But it’s only for a month, so we’ll deal.

Jack had another vet appointment on Tuesday to get his blood and urine rechecked after a few weeks on his prescription food. Apparently, this is common with kidney failure – he has very high blood pressure. So while his protein and kidney levels were stable enough that he doesn’t need medication yet, he DOES need to start taking high blood pressure meds. I was worried about shoving a pill down his throat every day for the rest of his life, but so far I’ve been smashing it into a soft cat treat and he gobbles it right up. Whew! The pharmacists at Walgreen’s thought it was hilarious that the prescription I brought in was for a cat.

Shepard had his open house at school on Wednesday night. It was cute to see him so excited to show off everything. He’s really come into his own this year. He’s grown up so much and even looks like a completely different kid!

The biggest news on Wednesday – for me, anyway – is that I signed up to go to a Hope*Writers conference in North Carolina this November! I’ve been aware of the Hope*Writers community for awhile and have had it at the back of my mind as a thing to join when I started feeling really serious about writing. Well, I’m starting to feel that way! The actual community is closed for new memberships at the moment, but the writing conference sounds AMAZING. It definitely felt a bit self indulgent to plan another cross country solo trip when I’m already going to Book Bonanza in Texas in August. But the more I thought about it the more it felt like the right decision. This is a valuable investment into my future and a career I have felt called toward my entire life. I still have a lot of details to work out, but I’ve bought my ticket and I’m really excited about it. I also signed up for a 90 day Directions course through Hope*Writers that is hopefully going to focus my writing and get me on the path I want to walk. I haven’t had a ton of time to delve into the coursework yet, but I paid to be in it, so I’m going to give it my best effort in the next few months.

Back to my reality career, I finished up these 12 little Mother’s Day dolls on Thursday. Most of them sold pretty quickly.

Friday was a pretty crappy day. First of all, there was a lot of pressure to make the day somehow special because it was the one and only day we got off for Spring Break after all the snow days this winter. Fortunately, Greg went to work at his parents’ house which eased up that extra layer of also trying to stay out of his way all day. Because it was so nice out, we went to the dog park for awhile and then got some Burger King drive thru food for an early lunch. Then I just gave in and let the boys play video games for awhile because I desperately needed to get stuff done. I’ll admit I had a pretty poor attitude the whole day. I was a little angry that I felt forced into having an egg dyeing party that I fully intended on not doing this year. I was resentful of how much work goes into parties and holidays and vacations and how little credit I get for doing all that work. Every once in awhile I just want to rant and scream about how it is not easy to make all of these things come together smoothly, even if it somehow appears that way. I’ve also just been terribly stressed out about my doll making plans for the next month. I want to have specials for my six year anniversary, I need to make more Mother’s Day and teacher appreciation dolls – for selling and for my kids’ teachers. I also offered to make raffle baskets for the school auction, which I LOVE doing, but the timing for it is just awful. Plus we have a six day vacation coming up very quickly, I need to have Mother’s Day gifts and Greg’s birthday gifts all settled before that. Greg is having a friend stay at our house next weekend, a friend I’ve never met and our first ever houseguest, and the logistics plus my messed up anxiety around having strangers in my space, has been difficult to wrap my head around. And there’s just a ton of end of the year things going on with school. Plus, you know, kids and pets and cooking and cleaning and laundry, and oh yeah, this intense writing course I just signed up for at the worst possible time of the year. It’s a lot.

But, I made it. A lot of the stress is entirely my own fault because I don’t like to do anything halfway or take the easy route when it comes to having people over. In general, I really do love having parties and the more the merrier. It’s the reason why I keep trying to gather people for taco nights and craft nights and then get so incredibly sad when nobody comes. But the exact timing of this late Easter and everything happening in the coming weeks was NOT GREAT. But it was worth it in the end.

Saturday was the big day! I was really excited about all the egg hunts this year because last year I couldn’t walk yet, so I didn’t do any of them. I seem to remember the year before that everyone was very uncooperative about going, so we skipped out. But this year, we were all gung ho! The boys and I started with the early Pick n Save hunt where there are the least amount of kids and the most and best candy.

I took Annie to the dog park after and Shepard showered and styled his hair…

Next we went to the Culver’s hunt and brought Willow along. She was with us for most of the day, which I really think helped Caden stay in a positive mood. He was SO much more into all of the festivities than he ever is. It was such a wonderful change! Willow and Shepard made out with a good amount of free ice cream tokens and Caden got as many large tootsie rolls as he could grab.

There was about a three hour gap between the second and third hunts, and I totally just chilled out and read and took a nap. I felt really guilty because the weather was gorgeous and basically the entire neighborhood was outside doing various yardwork and such. But I figured I put in my time on Friday and I just didn’t want to do any more work.

The big park egg hunt was insane, as usual! This was the first year the boys were in the same age group (for all of them), which was really nice! Caden still has one more year for the park hunt before he can do the Friday night flashlight egg hunt, which sounds awesome.

I got my homemade salsas and a few other snacks out for the party. Greg’s parents brought some Aldi pizzas for the main course. It was about the longest egg dyeing party ever because everyone came in batches over a number of hours, but it was fun! Caden and Willow were having the greatest time with their egg decorating. And then we had our usual egg pecking contest at the end. Willow was declared the overall winner.

Greg’s family stayed for a few more hours to play board games and I made a peanut butter pie. Super easy, but very indulgent.

We finished the night loading up baskets and hiding eggs. I bought some bigger baskets at Walmart this year so everything actually fit for once! Mine even looked a little bare! Though I realized later I had just gotten some new coffee on Saturday that I should have thrown in to fill it up. I love gathering stuff for baskets and stockings and any other holiday that might include a variety of unique goodies!

Easter morning was surprisingly relaxed! Caden and I were up first and Shepard slept till 7:30! Even Greg was up before that because he thought we were all waiting on him. (Like we usually are!) I had time to make two kinds of scones for breakfast before the boys were ready to hunt for their baskets. The pets found theirs first and were very happy! It was like the best day of Rory’s life getting a nice catnip stick to wrestle with.

We went over to Greg’s parents’ house mid-morning for an outdoor egg hunt. I can’t believe how great the weather was, especially considering it was snowing and below freezing just a week before! I always think it’s so fun to do the hunts outside.

Forced everyone into one family picture. The boys wouldn’t wear the nice polo shirts I bought them for the occasion (shocker), but they did agree to wear the Peeps shirts, which I wanted them to wear on Saturday and they refused.

We had a huge brunch after the egg hunt. Yum!

More board games.

It was a lovely first (second?) Easter celebration!

Next we went to my parents’ and the boys did a scavenger hunt to find their baskets.

MORE board games. ūüôā Caden’s really into them. I was just relaxing and watching Shepard shoot nerf guns outside.

We had a delicious Easter dinner! My dad heated up the ham on the grill with a glaze. Grills are just the best. I hope to have one again someday!

And we finished up the night with pie. Overall, it was a really nice day. It was actually a great weekend! I think it’s maybe the first holiday of all time that Caden was happy and engaged with no blow ups. Shepard was great too. Though he did eat WAY too much candy yesterday and came home from school with a migraine halfway through the day. After a long nap he’s already feeling a lot better, though.

Looking at the week ahead – still pretty busy. I want to plan out all the dolls I hope to make in the next month and get them traced and cut and ready to sew. That was actually my plan for today, but then I got way too distracted by a ton of other stuff. I was hoping to run a few errands tomorrow, but Shepard is probably going to have to stay home, so I’ll work tomorrow. I will. Wednesday is my last yoga class, which I fully intend on going to this time after three weeks off. And Friday is when our houseguest arrives, Greg and Caden and him are going to see End Game while Shepard and I go to soccer and out to dinner. And the four of us are seeing End Game together on Saturday. Meanwhile our Colorado trip is coming up really fast, so I need to finish making plans for that. So much going on!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 04.14.2019

I’m going to try and keep this brief! I really want to put last week and all its negativity behind me. Having a pretty rough weekend has not helped matters any. So I’m just going to quickly skim over the highlights of last week!

We got our air conditioner installed on Monday! It was such a long day. I said last weekend that I was mentally prepared for them to be there all day working, but I didn’t expect it actually would take all day. This is seriously all my own issues with having strangers in my space, but it made for a really, really stressful day. But it was worth it to have a cooler house this summer!

Monday night was the big school board meeting. I don’t even want to get into this again. It was hard to be there and hard to deal with all the things that were said there.

I had a lot of errands to run on Tuesday. I was curious to find out that Costco on a Tuesday is SO MUCH less busy than Costco on a Monday. But Tuesday is stocking day at Target, and all those extra employees with all their huge carts of stuff in almost every aisle makes me a bit crazed. I think I’m going to stick with Mondays for errands whenever I possibly can! My week was off to such a distressing start that I rewarded myself with a special lunch at Tipsy Cow after my shopping was over. I also stopped at a Sun Prairie coffee shop for an iced salted caramel latte that was one of the best cold coffee drinks I’ve ever had. I might try and sneak over there tomorrow too to try something else.

Wednesday I really had to get back to work! I finished up two dolls that I didn’t think I was going to like, but ended up loving. I think it’s the mixed textures and colors of yarn. I should try to do that more often, so pretty.

I should note that the temperature reached 70 on Tuesday and we had every window open. The pets LOVED it, though it also made them a bit crazy after six months of being so cooped up. But Wednesday? 30’s again. And snow. NO.

It was pretty much a full blown blizzard right at the time school let out. I contemplated going to intercept the boys on their walk home, but chose not to. They ran all the way and thought it was about the coolest thing ever.

I made Shepard his favorite breakfast for his concert day Thursday.

We had dinner at Culver’s with Greg’s parents and then headed over to the elementary concert. Shepard did great! We were sitting so far back I didn’t even try to get a picture this year, but he was awesome. He looks so grown up in this picture with his nice shirt (should have seen the battle we had over that one!) and combed hair!

Friday I worked. Fridays are actually turning into my most productive day because of the peer pressure to stay on task with Greg also working from home. It used to really annoy me, but now it keeps me focused.

And finally Saturday was my Uncle Tom’s memorial service, so we were there for a big chunk of the day. It was a nice way to gather family members and remember our happiest memories of Tom. I hope that the service, as well as finally receiving the cause of death this week (heart attack), will help everyone gain some closure over his untimely passing and all the stress these last few months have held.

We went over to the neighbor’s later to play with the kittens. They’re definitely bigger than when we last saw them in January! But super cute and SO friendly. Shepard is absolutely in love with them.

I spent the rest of last night and all of this morning finishing a batch of more uniquely themed dolls. This was my favorite of the batch (the hair!).

Sunday Intentions

Moving on to the week ahead! I really hope it’s a lot more emotionally calm than this last week was!! I can’t handle much else. It’s going to be busy, though. Our schedule just keeps getting crazier and crazier from now until the end of the school year. Lots of fun stuff, but also, just…a lot.

I have tons of random errands to run tomorrow and then Shepard starts soccer after school. That’s every Monday and Friday for the next month. Caden still has Chess on Tuesdays. Shepard has an open house on Wednesday, so I won’t be going to yoga for the third week in a row. (Way too coughing sick last week to even attempt it.) Thursday, nothing! There’s no school on Friday – that one single day is our entire “spring break” this year. I’m hoping to convince the boys we should go out and do something fun, but I’m sure they’d rather just sit and play games all day. We’ll see how the weather is, I suppose. It’s supposed to be wet and rainy and gross all week. Saturday I’m hoping that at least Shepard will go to all three local egg hunts with me. It’s sad that they’ve just about outgrown events like that! But without Caden tagging along to make him think it’s dumb, I think he’ll still enjoy it. And we’re going to dye some eggs after the park hunt. And Sunday is Easter!

My highest intention for this week is to FEEL BETTER. This coughing thing is the worst. It’s a hundred times worse when I’m trying to sleep, but it’s pretty bad during the day if I’m actually needing to talk to people too. I want to try and keep prioritizing rest so I can hopefully get better completely. I really, really, really do not want to still be sick in just over two weeks when we head out on our vacation.

I’d also like to complete 12 small Mother’s Day dolls this week. If I want to try and do some Heartstring Annie 6 year anniversary specials the following week, I really need to get a few Mother’s Day dolls out there first.

And I want to get ready for Easter! I have boxes of decorations that I didn’t even open yet. Decorating is getting harder and harder for minor holidays because I just don’t have decorations out in many places anymore than can be swapped out over the seasons. Most available space is for books or electronics. I even ended up buying new Easter baskets the other day because they were so big (the Noe Easter Bunny brings a lot of stuffers!). But I want to get out the eggs – tomorrow – and make sure everything is set so I’m not stressing out on Saturday night when it’s time to hide everything.

Well, that’s about it! Hope you have a great week!