A Full Complete Happy Person

This afternoon I listened to the latest episode of a podcast called Empower Her that my friend Lexi recommended to me. This is the first time I’ve listened to this particular podcast and it was basically a 20 minute blast of hard truths, but things I (and probably many women!) needed to hear. The episode topic was on boundaries, which is definitely something I struggle with. But the thing that really jumped out at me is how many times the host, Kacia, said the words “what I need to do to be a FULL COMPLETE HAPPY PERSON.” That description really got me thinking about what I need in my own life to be a full complete happy person. I decided I definitely needed to make a list to help me remember these things when life starts feeling tough. I challenge you to write one as well!

Time to Myself

This is probably the biggest one. The biggest truth for all introverts, right? We need time alone to recharge. Not enough time to ourselves and we basically implode. This is the number one reason why summer is so hard on me. Even though my kids aren’t in my face and needing my attention every minute of the day, they’re still HERE. I crave quiet and solitude like I can’t live without it. I think the most important time of day for me is right when I wake up. I’ve always been a very early riser and I revel in that 30-90 minutes I often have before anyone else comes downstairs. But there are also days where a kid gets up early and follows me down the stairs. Those days my heart immediately sinks because most of the time it’s the kid that wants to talk talk talk and is doing his own reveling in some one on one attention. The one little extrovert of the family. Don’t think I’m terrible because I’m glad to have the bonding time with him too. But it sets me up for emotional exhaustion from the get go and it’s so hard to recover from that. I also really need time to myself in the afternoons to read and rest. It works out perfectly during the school year. It’s much harder in summer. And I always end my day alone, reading in bed. I essentially need a good chunk of time all three points in the day to feel the best. If I’m not getting those regularly, then I need to get out of the house and find it elsewhere – usually at a bookstore or movie or dog park or walk.

Daily Connection with Greg

Greg and I don’t have a ton of things in common. And we don’t honestly spend a whole lot of time together because he’s usually doing something with the boys whenever they’re all home (which is basically all the time). But I still feel like most of the time we have a pretty strong connection because we make a point of talking to each other throughout the day. He’s at a computer programming and is usually able to message with me throughout the day. I can tell him any random thing that comes to mind without feeling like I’m bothering him too much. Though I try not to be TOO annoying. We also end almost every single night watching a tv show together while he rubs my foot and ankle. It’s not a lot of time, it’s nothing extravagant, but it’s a routine that I think we both depend on to be in touch with each other despite all the distractions of family life. And we usually have one night a week where the grandparents take the boys, and we can spend more together. Once or twice a month we usually have a date night out of the house, which I think is our best way to connect.

Books

I don’t think I could survive without my books. I’m pretty sure a day has never gone by in my life without at least a few minutes to read. I NEED THEM. Reading is my greatest escape from reality and my all time favorite way to spend any available down time. Even when I’m not actually reading, I’m always on the hunt for more books, researching new authors, checking the weekly new releases, following bookstagrammers, meandering through bookstores, contributing to bookish conversations on facebook, tracking all of my own reading habits. It brings me such unadulterated joy. A day with little time to read is never a very good day.

Creative Outlets

Fortunately for me, being creative is my job. I love the thrill of creating something new. It’s how making ragdolls became such an obsession that turned into a pretty lucrative part time job. I hold that creativity so tight that I often struggle with accepting custom orders or remaking dolls that I’ve already done because it so strongly stifles my desire to always be thinking of something different and unique. Most of my creative energy is funnelled into doll making these days, but I used to direct it toward baking. Which I also still really enjoy, I just don’t have as many people or places to share the finished products with, so I try not to bake as often as the urge might strike. I also love being creative with decorating my house and putting together gifts for people.

Writing

Writing really is the greatest fuel for my emotional well being. It’s so cathartic as I gather my thoughts and spit them out into the world. Most of my writing is actually in the form of daily emails to my best friend. Which certainly helps maintain our almost 30 year friendship. But I do wish I could put more of that energy toward other writing projects. It’s just nice to have a response! I also go through spurts of writing journal entries, I just find it hard to get in the habit of that because there are always so many other calls on my time. I went through something really tough last fall, though, and writing extremely long journal entries is the only way that got me through it.

Female Friendships

This is the biggest hole in my life because it’s the hardest thing to accomplish on my own – I really need another person to have a fulfilling friendship! I think if I could design my perfect friendship life, it would be to have a standing weekly night out with maybe 1-3 other moms. Not enough of a demand on my time that it feels overwhelming, but often enough to really connect with a few people and truly feel like we care about each other. It feels so tricky for me because during the school year, the moms that are still available during the day almost all have young children and are only interested in getting together for play dates. I have no kids at home anymore, so of course I’m not asked out. I’m almost always available at night because Greg is a super parenting partner and our kids are rarely involved in things, but everyone else is SO BUSY. It’s nearly impossible to schedule something, especially once you get more than two people involved in the planning. Spontaneity is nonexistent and when it takes over a month, sometimes more, to actually get something on the calendar it ends up feeling pretty depressing. The last time I tried to get together with two of my closest friends it took us five months to find a time that worked. FIVE MONTHS. Even when I do get things scheduled, someone almost always cancels. And then I feel rejected. Honestly, I think of all my attempts to gather people together in the last year, I’ve been fully rejected at least 75% of the time. And maybe people just don’t like me! So I need to find the people that do. Female friendships, even in the busiest season of life, are so important. I truly believe that.

Close Extended Family

I think this is pretty important for general family happiness. We’re so lucky that our kids are growing up with grandparents so supportive and immersed in their lives. I’m so happy to have my mom, who I text totally ridiculous pet pictures to all day long because she’s the only one who would appreciate them. She’s probably the only person in the world I actually have a ton of things in common with, so I’m glad we have that bond. I do wish I were closer and relationships were easier with all our siblings. There sometimes feels like a lot of strain in those relationships and I honestly don’t think it’ll ever go away unless we spend a lot of time together just living life. And…that’s not going to happen. But it would be nice!

Good Food and Lots of Variety

I spend way too much time thinking about food. I honestly wish I didn’t. But…it’s also a great avenue for creativity and personal pride. I love finding that perfect cookbook that is going to provide me with a plethora of incredibly flavorful meals. I am obsessed with walking through every grocery store I ever come across, searching for unique chip flavors or spice blends or ethnic sauces or hearty breads or smoked cheeses. Whenever we go on vacation I spend so much more time searching for restaurants with delicious food than looking for things to actually do. I’m also constantly on the hunt for great new coffee companies and flavors, and most recently – hard candy companies (because hard candy helps me eat less!). I really love food, especially spicy food. And I love new and special treats. It adds a lot of joy to my life.

Exercise and Dogs

These go together because I basically don’t exercise without Annie at my side. (More accurately – pulling me down the sidewalk.) In those few months after I broke my ankle last year, I was LOSING MY MIND not being able to go on walks with her. In part because I know she didn’t understand it and was overly hyper and it was so frustrating not being able to do anything about it. But also because walking really is a great way to get fresh air, burn some calories, and just generally be healthier and happier. I’m struggling this month because my allergies are just so terrible I’m avoiding long walks at all cost. It sucks to know that as summer goes on the mosquitoes are also going to get even worse. But I’m definitely happiest getting a really long walk in first thing in the morning. I just need to be a whole lot better about actually doing it, even when it’s tough.

Space of My Own

Much like needing time to myself, I also need space to call my own. I’ve honestly been pretty selfish about it since we moved into our house three years ago. I have the entire dining room as my sewing room. Which I genuinely do need the space for because it is my real job and I spend every day there. But I’ve also basically claimed the living room as my own as well. It’s definitely the best room in the house. And everyone else is welcome to be in here, but there are no electronics in this room (except my computer). They like electronics more than an awesome room, so it’s mostly mine. Last year Greg bought me an amazing huge and cozy chair, and I really went all out making it into the best book reading corner of all time. I love it there. I can’t say this for my sewing room, but I do put a huge amount of effort into always keeping the living room clean. It’s a sacred space I can always count on to offer peace and quiet, even if the entire rest of the house is in disarray.

Solo Vacations

This is something I started maybe four years ago, when I decided to take a winter weekend trip to Galena on my own. Since then I’ve gone to Door County, Chicago, and Minnesota for solo vacations. Coming up in August I’m going to Texas on my own for six days! In November I’m going to North Carolina for five days. Honestly, even if it’s just a single night in a hotel room an hour away – it is SO WORTH IT. I see it as an absolutely necessary retreat for my soul, to get away from my life and to do lists and constant stress, just to spoil myself with great food, awesome shopping, beautiful nature spots, and endless time to read and relax. It might feel hard to justify the expense of a vacation by yourself. But it’s honestly about my favorite thing in the world. I can guarantee you it’s really helping me get through these harder days of summer, knowing I have an amazing trip coming up in less than two months. It’s going to be the perfect reset that’ll leave me refreshed and ready to tackle those final weeks of summer and the crazy pace of September.

Lots of Treats

Okay, so maybe I sometimes go overboard on this. But I try to keep myself motivated to get through the hard times with plenty of treats to bring me up. One of my favorite things is to get lunch at Qdoba or Chipotle almost every week after I’ve run all my errands. I also like to take special shopping days to my favorite stores when I know I need a break from life. I enjoy treating myself to a new book if something comes to my attention that sounds amazing. I sometimes splurge and order myself some special chocolate or candy that I won’t have to share with anyone. I am obsessive about taking an afternoon break every single day to read, at least try to nap, and then make myself an amazing cup of coffee when I wake up before I get back to work. I enjoy looking for little things that I know will make me happy – my most recent discovery is Maybelline Baby Lips. They’re so cheap and every single color makes your lips look amazing! I mentioned this a month or two ago, but gifts are my love language, and I’m not getting many gifts from other people (Greg got annoyed with me for saying this, but it’s the truth!). Which is fine! But it’s also why I gift myself things. It may sound super selfish if this is not your thing. But it’s a form of self love that truly keeps me happy and motivated and better equipped to deal with life when things are hard.

Well, this turned out to be quite the list! If you made it to the end – congrats! (lol) Now write your own list and refer back to it when you need a reminder of how to reset your life to become your own full complete happy person.

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.23.2019

I’ve been in such a writing rut lately. Not necessarily because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m struggling with how honest to be. I’ve really been feeling the weight of judgment , or at least potential judgement, from my small audience base. I truly value vulnerability and authenticity when I listen or read things from others and hope to always let my own shine through, even if it’s not a shared opinion. But. I don’t like to be judged. Or rejected. Or seen as a bad parent or person, particularly in these three hardest months of the year for me. Every time someone tells me that summer is their favorite time of the year because they get to spend so much time with their kids it feels like a slap in the face of backhandedly telling me that there’s something wrong with me for hating it so much. I try to make the most of it. I really do. I chose to be a stay at home parent and I chose to continue being one, probably for the entire length of my kids’ childhoods. But I’m also not a stay at home mom at this point in our lives FOR THEM, the way I was when they were babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Now I’m home FOR ME. For my own career aspirations, for my introverted sanity, and for my general contentment with life. And having kids around me all day, with the added pressure of parenting them correctly with the perfect amounts of active time and reading time and limited screen time and proper meal eating – all while I’m TRYING TO WORK – it’s exhausting. And overwhelming. And sets me up to constantly feel like a failure at everything. But I don’t want to be seen as the parent who can’t stand her kids because that’s not the case either. It’s just so very hard. And I don’t often feel like I can be very honest about that anymore. Which stops me from sharing all together.

I’ve also been feeling the weight of loneliness. It continues to amaze me how much almost all of my friendships have fizzled out in the last year or two. Sometimes I’m busy, just like most people, and it’s easy to get distracted from the fact I almost never see my friends anymore. But sometimes it becomes jarringly obvious how empty my life has become without the awesome joy of getting together and sharing life with other women. What’s even more frustrating is that I sometimes meet new people and think that we could be the greatest of friends, IF friendship worked the way it used to when you were younger. If it WERE EASY. I don’t know how to make and keep real and lasting friends anymore. I’m so shy and then maybe I’m too honest and a major oversharer. I never know how to say the right things or just jump into an uncertain situation because I am so completely terrified of being rejected. I’ve become so awkward that I’ve decided it’s really just best to hide away and not even try anymore. But that doesn’t make the loneliness go away. It just makes it more of my own fault.

Anyway. Life slowed down a lot this past week. Which makes me think and dwell in my own emotions a lot more. Which maybe isn’t a very good thing and I should actually hope for the busier weeks? It WAS great to have almost nothing on the calendar. I think we all needed the reprieve after how crazy the week before was.

Because I’m only capable of handling one major project in my life at a time, I realized on Monday that I still really wanted to make a go of a garden, now that the garage sale was over. It felt too late to try and convert the sandbox the way we originally intended – maybe it can be a project for this fall and we’ll have it ready right away next spring. Instead I went the container garden route, putting all the pots right on my back steps where it will be literally impossible to ignore taking care of them. I went a bit crazy at the stores because all the plants were already on clearance. I ended up with EIGHTEEN different types of pepper plants. No doubles! And there were still a bunch of varieties I passed up. I also bought three kinds of mint to hopefully remember to add to iced tea. And Caden has his huge pot of chives that grows back every year that he just eats whenever he’s outside. Because I waited so long to buy the plants most of them already have mini peppers on them, so I think we will have a very successful crop in a few weeks!

On Tuesday I convinced the boys to go to an astronaut ice cream making event at the library. Shepard and Willow went to a slime making event a few weeks ago and loved it, so I hoped this would be similar. I didn’t take into account how busy it was going to be! We were in line for almost a whole hour with the boys touching and irritating each other the entire time. We finally made the ice cream and took it outside to eat, but I didn’t realize the heavy door was going to slam shut behind me and it knocked Shepard’s right out of his hands. Of course he immediately burst into tears, so we rushed home and made some pretty extravagants malts ot make up for it!

Wednesday was a big work day and a big food prep day. My one big labor intensive meal of the week was this huge bowl of corn salsa and some spicy pork tenderloin tacos. Pork is something we almost never, ever eat (except bacon!), but it turned out fantastic! You could barely tell it wasn’t chicken. 🙂

I ran my Monday errands in Beaver Dam, but realized by Thursday I really needed to make a few Madison stops, so I spent another day out and about. I only had time to get to about half the stores I wanted to (darn those short summer school hours!), but I did make it to Joann’s where they were having some incredible sales on things I use all the time and rarely drop in price. So worth it. Then Caden had a friend unexpectedly come over for rest of the day. Another thing I’m trying to adjust to this summer since I guess it’s now going to be a thing – extra kids here that I’m not used to. Extra kids that sometimes make me realize how amazing the kids I AM used to really are. To all the neighborhood kids – you are great and we are so lucky.

Friday was just a big work day. I also spent a lot of time on food prep making individual pretzel crust pizzas. And I took Annie to the dog park in the evening. Poor girl is not getting nearly enough exercise lately. I hope to make it up to her once the grass allergies settle down. Which will hopefully happen ASAP.

Saturday was a huge day! It started bright and early at the park for a kids mini triathlon. I was obsessively checking the weather all week because storms were forecast, but it ended up being a beautiful day! Shepard’s youngest age group went first biking one mile, running 1/4 mile, and swimming 24 yards. He did it all in about 7 minutes! Caden’s group which ended up being kids 9-15, had to bike two miles, run one mile, and swim 100 yards. He finished in 19 minutes. I was very impressed and proud of both of them! It was a really nice event that ended with t-shirts and medals and free hot dogs and chips and popsicles.

I took Annie to the dog park again afterward for awhile. Then Shepard went to a birthday party for the afternoon, Greg went to play Dungeons & Dragons, Caden played games, and I took a nap.

We finished the night at the Mallard’s baseball game. It was Greg’s work’s annual outing, though this year was a little different because they had us in the backyard section – almost ground level with the far outfield. We had to bring our own chairs, but we still got unlimited food from what they provided. I wasn’t too sure at first, but it ended up being really relaxed and fun. I was worried about mosquitoes with a night game, but I didn’t even notice them!

After being outside all day, my eyes were in pretty bad shape. Downfall of this whole weekend. I’m still trying to recover and I’ve barely gone outside at all today.

There was a free balloon station, so Shepard spent most of his time there getting additions put on his giant rocket pack. He was also making new friends with kids in line. It was pretty much one of the best days of his life!

We always take my parents to this game for my dad’s father’s day present.

Caden was surprisingly really into the game, watching the whole thing and keeping track of all the outs. Maynard the Mallard came through blasting out t-shirts and he got one! His third new shirt of the day. He was really excited! Overall, it was really a perfect night. We stayed till the very end to watch the fireworks show too. I wish every day went as well as yesterday!

And then there’s today. Would you like to know how my day started and swing back around to how this post started? Caden spent about two hours sitting on a chair next to me while I worked whining and crying and begging and yelling and poking me and tapping his chair, all in attempts to convince me he should be able to play games. Greg wants me to buckle down on limiting his screen time more, so I had to keep saying no. But let me tell you, that was a REALLY FUN TIME while I was desperately trying to finish up these mermaids as early as possible so I wouldn’t have to spend the whole day on them. But I finally got them done around noon, about four hours longer than I expected to have to work on them. I’ve sold six of the eight already, so they were a good idea, I think! Not my favorite of creations, but I do really love their mixed yarn hair. It was fun to do something different.

Sunday Intentions

Ahead we have a medium busy week. The last full week of summer school, and maybe my last week to reserve a little bit of sanity and alone time? I’m hoping to put off errand running until Wednesday, trying to get another batch of dolls done in the next two days. I want to hit up the farmers market on Wednesday, though I’m also contemplating getting to the Madison one as well. And on Thursday night Greg and I are going to see the comedian Daniel Van Kirk at a show he’s doing with Andrew Young (I don’t know who Andrew is, but LOVE Daniel Van Kirk). I think it’ll be a really fun date night and extra nice that it’s actually in Madison so we don’t have to deal with going to Milwaukee! And then on Friday I have a dentist appointment. Not so fun.

My intentions for the week are to pace myself with basically everything. It’s the end of the month so I have all my usual posts to write. Which I absolutely love doing! But it’s time consuming. I definitely want to make at least one, hopefully two, more batches of dolls. They are all selling out so quickly (which is great!), but it’s so hard to keep my shop stocked with enough to bring in new customers. I’d also like to start working on a plan for the rest of summer. I feel like such a slacker when I see all the non-summer school taking moms doing all these day trips and fun things every day, when I can barely even keep my eyes open by the time my kids get home. We always plan our summers this way with fun activities saved for July and August, but we also usually have those activities written down by now. I’m considering implementing an overarching rule of no screens before noon. Perhaps that’ll eliminate most of the fights that always arise when we need to run errands or I want to do something that sounds really fun, but they (“they” being Caden) think sounds like torture. I’m assuming the first few days of that kind of rule will be horrendous, but maybe they’ll get used to it??

Well, that’s about it for now. I have lots of mermaids to pack up and more dolls to start. Hopefully this week won’t be filled with quite so much emotional angst.

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.16.2019

Today I’m celebrating the fact that the hardest week of summer is already behind me! Well, I’m assuming it will have been the hardest week. The dreaded garage sale week. I have a huge sense of relief that it’s now behind me, though I’m not exactly jumping for joy because it was a pretty tough week. Again. Mostly because I somehow thought having a garage sale that would require me to be outside every possible minute for a week straight smack dab in the worst of allergy season would be a good idea. Um, no. It was a TERRIBLE idea. No wonder I’ve thought I had my allergies mostly under control the last few years – I was just being smart and going outside as little as possible! This year I was STUPID. Ugh, these last four days have been terrible. Can June just be over??

Ignoring the fact I was pretty sure I was going to either go blind or flat out die multiple times a day, the week went pretty smoothly. We were all too busy to have time to be in bad moods. (Trust me, it caught up to us this weekend, though!) The boys both started summer school on Monday and found enough friends in their classes that they’re pretty content with going every day. Caden also had a basketball camp immediately after school Monday through Thursday. He was disappointed he didn’t know anyone there and I think it was a hard pill for him to swallow that he wasn’t instantly a basketball star. But he didn’t complain about it and I’m proud of him for actually wanting to try something. Three of his summer school classes are basically gym classes, so after six hours of being fully active every day, we really just let him play video games all evening. Shepard alternated between games and friends and helping us set up the sale.

On Tuesday my mom came over and we worked all day to get just about everything set up that we could in the garage. But my greatest accomplishment was making this Chile con Carne from my Tex Mex cookbook I raved about a few months back. I’m not really a fan of chili in general because I don’t eat beans, I don’t like beef (only in tacos!), and big chunks of tomato are a turn off. (I don’t like noodles either, though we’re not noodle in chili people where I grew up!) But I was intrigued by this recipe with no beans, no tomatoes, WITH BACON, and a cacophony of amazing spices with a homemade chili paste. I made it in the crockpot in the morning and the smell all day long was driving me wild. It didn’t disappoint either! SO delicious. But also crazy spicy. Greg seemed irritated with the spice level and Caden kept smacking his head it was so hot. Shepard, who usually tends toward milder eating habits, actually loved it as much as me, though. I was just so excited to find a new beef recipe that we’d all at least eat!

I spent Wednesday morning running errands and afternoon making a couple batches of chex mix and cookies. Then we went out to dinner with Greg’s parents to celebrate Steve’s birthday a few days late and Father’s Day a few days early.

Shepard just really loves trying to take over every holiday and celebration and make it about him!

Thursday was go time! I made a couple more batches of cookies in the morning, just to be safe. In hindsight, I really should have made the cookies smaller, but I wanted them to be big and soft and extra appealing, so I used the muffin scoop for all of these. I’m pretty certain we didn’t even come close to making a profit since each batch only made about 10 cookies! I got smarter when I was making cookies late Thursday night and used the next size scoop down.

I somehow thought it was going to be pretty leisurely getting everything set up, but my mom and I were practically running to get everything up and going by noon like I had wanted. We had SO MUCH STUFF. And I wanted as much out on the driveway as possible for all the people that just slowly drive by to see if it’s worth stopping. Our garage is so far from the road that we need a good driveway draw!

We stayed open until 7pm on Thursday and sales were pretty steady. It might have been busier if I had had more time to strategize my advertising tactics. I just ran out of time. We had our prices super cheap because we were really just desperate to get rid of everything, not trying to make a lot of money. It was fun how excited all the customers were about the prices. I think almost every single person told us what they were going to use the things for and how happy they were to find such great deals. That part of the sale was really fun! I have so few interactions with people in my daily life that it felt really good to have so many positive ones in such a short span of time.

I let the boys stay home from summer school on Friday with the agreement that they had to help me run the sale and could not play games. You can see in the photo that Caden went against that from the start. Then they came up with some sort of rule that whoever was at the stand when a customer came was the one who would get the money and only one of them could be there at a time. So they were at each other’s throats fighting all morning about who got the customer and the money. We kept saying that they should just split the money evenly, but they were way too competitive to make that happen. Just dealing with them fighting and crying and screaming at each other made Friday much more stressful. Annie was also a lot more antsy and was sitting at the window behind our heads whimpering and whining ALL EIGHT HOURS.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault, though I also don’t think it would have happened if one of them had actually been sitting at the stand, but it was super windy on Friday and it knocked the umbrella over that was next to the lemonade stand and everything crashed to the ground. We got it all cleaned up and remade some more lemonade in a pitcher, but they were both just totally over it by then.

We had a lull in customers in the afternoon and I was so tired and itchy and sneezy that I was ready to just lay on the ground and take a nap. Instead Shepard and I ran to Kwik Trip to get some “fancy” coffee drinks to try and perk us all up.

I woke up early on Saturday with renewed vigor and made three more batches of cookies – making that 14 total batches almost entirely sold in the 2.5 days we were open!

Caden was at a sleepover birthday party, so the three of us stayed open until noon and ran a $1 fill a bag special. I was enormously entertained at how full people were stuffing their bags! Overall, I think the sale was a huge success. No, we didn’t make a ton of money, but we made enough that I think it was worth the effort. Our main objective was to just get rid of everything and we did pretty good! I basically had an emotional meltdown by the time it ended, I was just so wiped out and sick of trying to shred my eyes out of my head they were so itchy. Greg sent me in to take a nap and by the time I woke up he already had most of the stuff packed for Goodwill and had taken all the borrowed tables back to their owners! I just couldn’t really deal with anything anymore, so Greg took the boys to his parents for the evening and I stayed home to clean the house, trying to bring some sort of normalcy back to our lives for this week!

And that brings us to today, Father’s Day. For perhaps the first year ever, we decided to stay home and have a chill day to ourselves. We all needed the break after how exhausting the week was. Though it’s honestly turned out to be kind of a bummer of a day. Even with low expectations, things never work out the way I think they’re going to. The boys are cranky and full of attitude. I’m cranky because I’m so dang tired. Greg’s cranky because we’re cranky and ruining his day. Instead of just relaxing, he’s spent hours sanding our kitchen table so I could restain it, he worked more in the garage, he mowed and trimmed the lawn. Our meal schedule was thrown off because he sleeps in and eats breakfast around the time we’re all ready for lunch. So we had a “lunchish snack” at 11, but the boys and I were pretty hungry a few hours later. I ended up ordering pizza, Greg’s meal of choice, but then he wasn’t very hungry so it was a waste of the good meal he picked. This is a regular weekend problem we have, but I thought I had it figured out, but…I was wrong. So now we’re all just doing our own thing and maybe by tonight we can be happy and eat the special dessert I made him. Hopefully? I’m really just over holidays. There are too many of them. And they’re always a let down.

Sunday Intentions

So that was probably all WAY more than you needed or wanted to know about our garage sale! But hey – it’s over! I don’t have to talk about it ever again! 🙂 I am now blissfully looking forward to our week ahead. Life is going to SLOW DOWN. For real. I’m going to make it.

The only thing on the agenda for the next few days is summer school! There’s a fun looking library program Tuesday afternoon we might stop in at. And I want to go to the farmers market on Wednesday if it isn’t raining this week. Otherwise…nothing. I am planning to WORK. I am so excited to start sewing again. It always feels amazing after a little break. And it feels reassuring to notice how much I missed it! Plus the end of June and most of July are a rare time of year when I don’t NEED to be sewing for a specific holiday. So many months of the year are dedicated to that, but in summer I finally have a bit of freedom to be more creative.

Our only big day this week is Saturday. The boys are both going to do mini triathlons in the morning! I really hope the weather holds out because I think it’ll be so fun for them! Then Shepard is going to a birthday party. And then we’re all going to the Mallard’s Game for Greg’s work appreciation day. It should be a really fun day if we get good weather!

Well, that’s about it. I think I’m going to head out to the dog park with Annie and finally let her get out some of her pent up energy. And, you know, start up the allergy attacks again. 🙂

Saturday Reflections 06.08.2019

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re just filled with so many negative emotions that you wreck all chances of anything good happening to you? I feel like I’ve had a whole week of self-sabotaging mental anguish. I don’t want to have a whole summer like this. But…it’s been a sucky week. Nothing really went the way I wanted it to, or thought it would. I’m STILL trying to reconcile the fact that my kids are completely their own people with their own emotions and agendas that VERY RARELY align with mine. It’s making for nonstop arguments and resentment from all sides, which really isn’t a very fun way to live, especially in your own home.

It started last Sunday when I finally gave up on anyone helping me clean the boys’ rooms. They were disastrous and I spent the entire weekend talking about how important it was that we work together to get those two rooms cleaned once and for all. My voice went unheard. I spent hours by myself cleaning their rooms to perfection. And then I had a full blown tantrum when I finally went downstairs to them all playing their video games and demanding dinner. When I said I wouldn’t make dinner for people that didn’t listen to me and help out with THEIR ROOMS, they looked at me like I was crazy and told me I never said to clean their rooms. What?! Are you kidding me?? I think those are the kinds of things that make me most angry. I tell my children to do something. Often more than once. I finally get angry and yell because they never did the thing. And then they look at me blankly and start arguing that I never told them to do it. Am I invisible?!? Can they not register the wavelengths of my voice? It’s absolutely infuriating.

So I took the anger from that day and carried it with me the rest of the week. A lot of resentment can be stored up when you realize you are 25% of a family, doing 100% of the mundane daily chores. It’s an easier pill to swallow when 75% of the family is gone for most of the day and not making mess after mess after mess, and requiring meal after snack after meal. It was also easier to get over it when my kids were little and not really capable of actually cleaning something up. But at 10 and 8? They can do it. They SHOULD do it. And they should do it without constant nagging and arguing and eventually threatening to take things away. I don’t know how to change this dynamic, though. And the lack of control over my own life right now, and knowing it’s going to be like this for three more months, is what’s eating away at me. I like my life to be tidy and organized and go the way it’s supposed to go. Kids, at least mine, don’t cooperate with that.

Anyway. I decided to spend my last two days alone doing only the things that I like to do. I ran some errands and went to a few of my favorite stores on Monday and then took a long nap. On Tuesday I stayed home to just read and rest. It was an appropriate personal goodbye ceremony to another school year behind us.

Tuesday was the last day of school. They got a lot bigger this year! And grew a lot more hair. Shepard’s really come into his own this year, getting over most of his social anxiety. He’s quite the popular little man these days!

Probably the best picture of the three of them I could ever hope to get!

The sucky part about Tuesday is that allergies hit me HARD. They haven’t been that bad yet – sometimes they start as early as Mother’s Day, so I just assumed I finally had it under control this year with the four different medications I take for them. Nope! I have been trying not to shred my eyes out the last five days, they are so ragingly itchy. It just adds another layer of why I’ve been so cranky. I hate this time of the year. I hate that it’s finally nice out, Annie is desperate to go play outside all the time, and every time I walk outside I feel like I’m going to die, but guess what – I’m a mother and a dog owner – so I have to go out whether I want to or not. It’s just so ANNOYING. The good news is that they’re usually gone by early July, so at least once they get really bad I know the end is in sight!

Caden wasn’t feeling very well on Tuesday either. They went to Grandma’s and his head hurt so bad that he couldn’t eat. Then he woke up with a really red eye on Wednesday. He was also coughing and stuffed up. We had plans in the morning to meet a few friends at the park for a big donut picnic, so we went over for an hour and then had a pretty lazy day. Next week is going to be so busy – mostly for him – so I really wanted him to get rested up. I was also worried he might have pink eye because it was so swollen and droopy. The only real thing we did was walk over the farmer’s market in the afternoon to pick up a few things for dinner.

I didn’t plan on working this week, but sometimes it’s better to funnel my stress into something productive, so I whipped up a batch of 10 patriotic ornament sized dolls – my customers’ favorite size. They all sold in the time it took me to make dinner.

I thought Caden’s eye actually looked better on Thursday, but he was up early and crying because both eyes hurt, so I called as soon as I could to get him into the doctor. Of course we couldn’t get in until afternoon, so I was really angry at myself for not just calling on Wednesday instead of waiting it out. It’s frustrating to feel so in limbo with plans. I basically just let him play video games all day to contain his potentially contagious germs. Then the verdict at the doctor – allergies, definitely not pink eye. Which obviously makes sense because mine hit the same day he started feeling miserable. But the doctor also said cottonwood got bad this week – we saw some flying around at the dog park – so Caden is choosing to believe he has a cottonwood allergy instead of grass, like me.

I was ready for a break by Thursday evening, so as soon as Greg got home I left to see Rocketman in the theater. It was so good! And such a great little treat for myself. I plan on seeing a lot of nighttime movies in the theater this summer by myself. 🙂

Friday was also pretty uneventful. We were going to have lunch with my mom, but she wasn’t feeling well. So our only big event was walking to the library so I could pick up some books I had on hold. Shepard and Willow basically spent the entire day making batch after batch of slime. I mostly read. Caden mostly gamed. And then Greg took the boys to the pool for the night.

I finished my evening with a much needed yoga video. I started this book last weekend called Burnout which talks about the importance of dealing with your STRESS, not just your STRESSORS. It was such a mindblowing concept to me – thinking about actual stress that just sits in your body until you do something about it. Earlier this week I tried to eliminate some of my stress by taking Annie on as lot of walks. But then allergies. And bugs. (Why are there already so many bugs?!) So yoga was a great alternative – at least for me, not so much for Annie.

And that was the week! Not very exciting, not much fun. I genuinely don’t want the whole summer to go this way. So I’m going to try and get my act together and figure out what I need to do for myself to make my life better. I think a lot of my negative feelings this week have also been stressing about next week. It’s the big garage sale week. Which also means being outside every waking minute to work on it. (Maybe I should wear goggles?) And the first week of summer school. And Caden’s basketball camp. And Annie has a grooming appointment and I’ll need to run errands and Caden is going to another birthday party. (We have three birthday parties this weekend.) I’m feeling so overwhelmed, but also so tired and unmotivated. But I wanted to do the sale early in the summer to get it over with and not feel like this anymore. So I need to suck it up and power through. It’ll be worth it.

Sunday Intentions 06.02.2019

It’s a big week! Two more days of school and then five days of “summer” before summer school starts. I always feel the pressure to try and make those in between days something special, though the span between the two is shorter than ever this year thanks to all the cold/snow days. I definitely don’t think it’s going to be particularly memorable this year. But honestly, I’m so irritated with my kids this weekend for not helping me clean their rooms after I repeatedly told them how important it was to me, I’m not that concerned with giving them an amazing couple of days. They can make their own days amazing. Or not. I seriously need to stop trying to control everything and everyone and take all of their rampant mood swings as any kind of indicator of how I should be feeling about myself. It shouldn’t be on me to shoulder their anger and internalize it so deeply. I am the parent, right? Right.

To celebrate (or mourn) my last two days alone I am spending Monday going to a few of my favorite stores and getting something delicious for lunch and Tuesday staying home and doing anything my heart desires – probably reading and napping and maybe some writing. I’m hoping the combination of doing all my favorite things will be kind of a closing ceremony to the last nine months of school (and having total control over my schedule). And maybe then I’ll be more mentally prepared for the weeks ahead!

We’re kicking summer off with a donut picnic on Wednesday morning at the park. I don’t even remember the last time I was at that park just to watch my kids play! We’ve been phasing out of that era of childhood, which is really sad! They will surely still play with friends around, though. And it’ll be good to see some of my own friends. I was so focused on just surviving the month of May that I got to the end of it and realized how lonely I am again. I need those people in my life. I wish it weren’t so hard.

Thursday and Friday are pretty open. If I’m feeling good about garage sale prep I might work on one last batch of patriotic dolls. The boys can play with their neighborhood friends/game/probably go to the pool. They’d be happiest just having some freedom to do whatever they want, so that’s probably the path we’ll take this week.

And Saturday we’re going to a birthday party for a chunk of the day and will spend the rest of the weekend starting to set up the sale! Lots to do.

My main intention for the week is to just go with the flow and keep my sanity. My stress levels today have been pretty high and I don’t want all my summer days to be like this. I’m working on some coping mechanisms to start applying when I do start feeling like I’m about to lose it. But…it’s going to take time.

That’s about it! Happy summer!

June 2019 Goals

Ready or not, June is here! With just two days left of school, it’s basically summer. I still don’t feel ready, but will I ever? I admit I’m definitely looking forward to some less structured days and making fun memories with my kids. I’m just dreading the days like today where Caden starts whining and begging and freaking out about NEEDING to play video games at 6am. And who am I kidding, despite all the rules we already set up to try and avoid this sort of thing, basically every day will start this way. Guaranteed. I am SO not ready for the constant arguing and negotiations and pushing all my buttons with the sole purpose of wearing me down to the point of letting them do whatever they want before I totally lose it. Summer strips me of all control and makes me feel very, very weak. At its core, that is why summer is my least favorite time of year. BUT, I’m going to try my best to suck it up and make the most of it.

June is still a pretty busy month. We only have a couple days of break before summer school begins next Monday. That’ll give me a few hours of reprieve each day to get some work done and run errands without needing to bring them with me just yet. (Stores are Caden’s WORST NIGHTMARE and he acts accordingly.) But we’re also having a garage sale that week, so I’ll really just be spending all my time doing that. Caden’s also doing a basketball camp that first week immediately after summer school, so it’s going to be a lot of rushing around with a VERY exhausted and cranky child after three of his four summer school classes essentially being gym classes, followed by two hours of basketball. Can’t wait.

With most of our days still being fairly structured – just in a shorter time frame – I’m not giving myself too many goals this month. I’m still in survival mode. June is also the worst month for my allergies, when I try to avoid going outside at almost all cost. I don’t have any lofty visions of day trips or making memories beyond hanging out at home or the pool. That’ll come in July and August. Instead I want to focus on things that make me happy and bring some joy to my days.

1 – Read like it’s my job!

I want to devote every possible spare minute of my life to reading this month. It’s been so busy the last few I haven’t had time to read the way that I want to. This month I give myself full permission to sit down and read ANY time I don’t want to do something else. So far I’ve already read two books this month (okay, technically one was on the 31st, but I already wrote my book post, so it’s counting for June) and it’s only the 2nd. I’m also all about the FUN books this month. I normally try to intersperse the lighter books with things that are a bit more serious and heavy, but I just want to go wherever my heart leads me in the next few weeks. Though I would also like to buckle down and read two nonfiction books on my stacks that I think will help me mentally get through all my summer challenges. They probably won’t be much fun to read, but hopefully so very helpful.

2 – Have one awesome clutter clearing fresh start feeling garage sale!

We had our last garage sale two years ago and left all the remaining items in boxes in the garage for the next year. But I was recovering from my broken ankle last summer and literally could not fathom the idea of having another sale. So this is the year! Our goal is to basically get rid of every single tiny thing in our entire house that we don’t want. And to list everything as cheaply as possible because we just want it gone. It’s already taken up a lot of our time the last few weekends, but it’s basically going to be my full time job for the next two weeks. I hate all the prep work, but always think it’s so fun to have the actual sale! The boys are really excited too. I’m going to let them skip that Friday of summer school if they agree to actually help out.

3 – Embrace the chaos

In other words, let go of all my perfectionism and need to control every aspect of my life at all times. I want to give myself grace to rest and relax and just go with the flow. Do things with my kids they might not expect instead of always hiding away with my to do list and agenda (last night we played basketball!). I also don’t want to place too many work related expectations on myself this month. Normally I’d still try to be working pretty hard while the boys are in summer school and I have a few uninterrupted hours to get things done. But the garage sale is kind of throwing that off and I expect I’ll be crazy tired and need a break the week after. I don’t want to stop working entirely, but I’ve lowered my expectations and know it won’t be a very productive month. I also just want to be more open to taking the boys to the pool if they ask to go, taking the pets on walks, and just plain giving more of myself and my time to the people I love.

4 – Designate Writing Wednesdays to work on my Hope*Writers course

So despite all the plans for goal #3, I DO want to be disciplined enough to spend a solid chunk of time each Wednesday this month working on my writing course. Enough to feel like I’m accomplishing something, but not so much that it feels overwhelming or like I’m setting myself up to fail.

I had one more goal in mind, but I think four is enough for June. It’s certainly enough to keep me busy! I hope if I can just keep these four actions in mind, it’ll be enough to direct all my decisions toward the path of having a great summer. Wish me luck! And if summer feels like stressful insanity to you too – know you’re not alone. If summer is the greatest three months of your life every year – I don’t want to hear it. 😀

Saturday Reflections 06.01.2019

This last week of May was a little bit less crazy than the ones preceding it. Not by much! But enough to let me feel like I was starting to get control of my life again.

We spent Sunday gathering more things for the garage sale. I know that I really should be pricing things BEFORE they go out to the garage, but I can’t handle that extra step just yet. It seems that in three years at our house we’ve accumulated about a whole apartment’s worth of stuff we want to get rid of. We also want this to basically be the last garage sale we ever need to have. It’s such a big undertaking. But we’re pricing everything crazy cheap because we just want to get rid of it. Hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end! I can’t really say I’ve given it my FULL effort yet, but I’m doing a little bit every day. Last Sunday was my clothes. I collected four garbage bags full.

Monday was Memorial Day. We were still trying to recover from all the craziness, so we just had a low key day at home. We did walk down the street so the boys could be in the short parade Columbus puts on every year. It was a really nice little service.

Tuesday was our 13th anniversary! 13 still feels like such a small number. We’ve been together for 19.5! Practically our whole lives, it feels like.

I spent the day running a few errands and then the grandparents took the boys and we went on a nice date to Buck & Honey’s in Sun Prairie. We went all out with our drinks and meals. I think it’s pretty clear why we normally stick to cheaper and more informal restaurants lol. But it was a nice treat.


Shepard woke up with a fever and what was maybe, probably, a migraine on Wednesday morning, so he stayed home to rest. I gave him ibuprofen and took his temperature 45 minutes later and the fever was totally gone, so I’m not quite sure what was going on. He’s been coughing for almost five months, but it’s gotten a lot worse again this week, mostly at night. I’m sure his sleep has not been great. I wish I knew what to do. This seems to happen every winter/spring and the doctor always says it’ll just have to go away on its own. Five months is a LONG time. But I’ve also been coughing for months. Not as bad as him, but enough to be obnoxious.

Anyway, I spent a lot of the day working on things in the kitchen and then we met Caden after school and walked down to the farmer’s market again. I love how quickly it’s growing! There were two new cheese stands this week that we bought from. And the meat people remembered to bring spicy beef sticks and they had more chicken with them.

Greg got home from work and said he’d been feeling sick all day, so he went straight to bed. Kind of a bummer since I had an awesome rice bowl meal planned for dinner (he’s by far the biggest rice lover). I also made the salted, malted cookie dough ice cream I’d been planning for weeks. It turned out so good!

I also made some pickled jalapenos which Caden insisted on eating even though they were still boiling hot.

Greg took a sick day on Thursday. I know this is really hard for anybody to understand because it’s not like having my husband home doing his own thing in his own space is physically bothering or interrupting me. But, considering this was basically my last week of having time being home alone until September – and I only ended up getting ONE day – that I spent out running errands…it was hard for me to just accept that emotionally. I’m trying so hard to be okay with summer basically here and losing all semblance of solitude. I just wanted these last few days.

Anyway. I worked all day and finally finished up eight more patriotic dolls. My goal was to get these done and then I was going to give myself a break from doll making until school’s out. Maybe even until after the garage sale, though I think I might try to get a few more out this next week. We’ll see how I’m feeling. I needed to earn that break, though.

On Thursday night we went over to the pool to buy our summer passes and check out their open house. The pool officially opened today, but the weather is kind of crappy. Greg’s been gone most of the day, so I was going to take them but I’ve flaked out. Greg’s going to be back home soon for a two hour window, so he offered to take them then.

On Friday I wrote three blog posts. 🙂 And made this almond brittle salted ganache ice cream. I didn’t think I made the brittle correctly because it was SO sticky/chewy, but it tastes pretty good frozen in the ice cream. I like the cookie dough better, but this was still good.

I felt a lot more post-symptom sympathy for Greg’s mysterious illness when it hit me on Friday. It was weird. For me, I felt light-headed, but also like my heart was racing like crazy. It was the worst when I was walking around. I felt it in the morning at the dog park with Annie and then it felt SO much worse in the afternoon when we walked to the library’s summer reading program kick off. It was really hot by then and I didn’t even think I was going to make it home. I have no idea what it was – just some sort of random, mild virus? I spent the whole night reading. I mostly feel fine today, just tired.

I woke up early this morning (nobody except Caden is getting much sleep this week thanks to Shepard’s nonstop coughing) and went to the farmers market in Madison. It was a lot less crazy than the last time I went Mother’s Day weekend. But about halfway through the skies suddenly got really dark and it was thundering, so I sped through it. All I bought were two donuts for the boys, asparagus, and radishes. Then I ran a few errands before coming home and reading for most of the rest of the day. I did corral the boys into helping with garage sale prep for an hour. They spent the entire hour sorting out paper by color… SO helpful. 😛 All I managed to do in an hour was go through all of Shepard’s books. And Caden has more books than Shepard, so I still have that. Their rooms are SO messy. I’m hoping as a family we can power through and actually finish up with their bedrooms tomorrow.

That’s about it! Nothing terribly interesting or exciting, but still busy busy. Maybe we all needed to get randomly sick to force us to slow down for a little bit. I have to admit it’s been kind of nice doing almost nothing but read for the last 24 hours. I needed it. More later with my June goals! 🙂

May 2019 Reflections

This long, insanely busy, and thoroughly exhausting month has finally come to a close. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a pretty great month filled with a lot of awesome memories. But it was also overstimulating and too chaotic for our introverted homebody thriving family. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re all ending the month with a variety of mysterious illnesses. We’re so burnt out.

Despite the crazy, I think I did a fairly good job of completing all of my goals for the month – except the one I failed at miserably. But I refuse to berate myself over it because there was honestly NO TIME. It was way too ambitious to think I could have fit it in.

1 – Have an awesome vacation!

We did! I loved seeing Colorado for the first time with Greg. After what was also an unusually busy April, it felt at the time like a good opportunity to get away. In hindsight, I don’t want to take a vacation the first week of May ever again. It made the rest of the month way too stressful trying to play catch up. But the vacation itself was great. Probably one of the best we’ve ever had! Colorado was so gorgeous and we had the greatest time just reveling in the natural beauty and eating a lot of delicious meals. It was a really special way to celebrate our 13th anniversary.

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

Honestly, this already feels so long ago that I don’t even remember exactly what I did. But I know I protected that Saturday before as a day for myself as if my life depended on it. I believe I went to the farmers market, shopped at all my favorite stores, and ended the day with a movie. It’s one of my favorite May traditions.

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

I was worried this wasn’t going to happen since I had to keep pushing it back after the trip. But I was able to pull it all together last week with a special giveaway and a two day sale. Somehow, unbelievably, it was a record breaking month for income. And it was my second highest month of all time for number of dolls sold. Almost all of those happening in the last week, which is crazy. I also celebrated my 1000th Etsy sale, gained a lot of new followers after the giveaway, and drummed up some new customers. Of course the highs are always followed by the lows of not being able to have this consistency with new inventory and oodles of sales a day all year round. But it was certainly a month to be proud of myself and all I’ve accomplished to create this successful business all on my own while balancing a ton of other things in the last six years.

4 – Finish my Hope*Writers 90 Day Directions course

This was my big fat fail. I didn’t even open up my coursework ONCE. Not one single minute put into this class over the entire month. I’m disappointed in myself, but there’s just no way I could have handled it. I was busy all day with work and errands and household chores and busy all night with kid things. There was literally no time at all for extra writing or learning about writing.

5 – Go through all my new cookbooks

Okay, so I still haven’t gone through all of them. Namely, the two I got myself for Christmas and are still sitting in the exact same spot I set them five months ago. But I did go through three of them AND made recipes from each of them, which is really saying something. This last week in particular I’ve been trying really hard to focus more of my time and energy into creating good food. I was desperately craving that outlet after weeks of barely having time to scarf down sandwiches in the evenings, let alone make real meals. It’s been a surprising source of joy.

Overall, I’m just proud to say I survived the month. We went on a six day vacation. We celebrated Mother’s Day, Greg’s 35th birthday, my Heartstring Annie 6 year anniversary, our 13th wedding anniversary. Shepard had soccer practices and games 2-3 times a week and loved it. The boys had dentist appointments. Shepard cracked his head opened, needed staples, got the staples removed. I went to a Happier with Gretchen Rubin live podcast event in Milwaukee. Shepard had a poetry reading at the library. Caden had a music concert. I hosted a week of doll related specials. I had a night out with friends. I had a dog park date with another friend. We had an anniversary date night. We went to the farmer’s market in town a couple of times. The boys walked in the Memorial Day parade. Greg took the boys to Cedar Lake for a day. We got to spend an evening with Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson. And we started the massive undertaking of getting ready for a huge garage sale in a few weeks. It has been A MONTH. It was grand, but I am so very happy it’s over.

What I Watched May 2019

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet this month! Spoilers included because that’s pretty much the only reason I write these quick recaps. 🙂

TV – ALONE

The Resident

I’m kind of disappointed in how this season ended. It was a cliffhanger for sure – did Nic’s dad or sister die after surgery? But it was so not the type of cliffhanger I was expecting that I didn’t even realize until later that it was the finale. I desperately wanted something more to happen between AJ and Mina – my favorite not quite a couple, but still a couple. They can continue to slow burn their way together, but I wish we were getting a tiny bit more.

Modern Family

I hate writing about this show every month. I have nothing to say about it. Everyone is so annoying.

Jane the Virgin

WHY did they have to bring back Michael from the dead, only to have Jane divorce him and send him away?! I have no real attachment to Raphael, and it bums me out that now Jane is just back to being alone. I think this is the final season, right?? I think it’s come to a natural end that I am more than ready for.

Good Girls

I like this show more and more! I loved the forbidden chemistry between Beth and Christopher, though it definitely is over now. I also love Annie’s FBI boyfriend. Such a cutie!

Single Parents

I wasn’t aware I was watching the finale of this show either. Maybe I’m just clueless? I was so excited about the small hint of romantic feelings between Angie and Will that was then smashed to pieces. Though I have to admit I’m very excited about the possibility of Adam Brody joining the cast, especially as he’s Leighton Meester’s real life husband. I’m anxious to see where it goes.

A.P. Bio

Why is this show on so sporadically?! I feel like it only appears in my feed about once a month. I’m much happier watching shows I can binge. Or, you know, watch at their regular once a week intervals. I stop caring when there’s so much space between each episode.

Life in Pieces

Same with this. It just came back on, but I don’t think it’s been on two weeks in a row. I loved it so much when I first started watching it and I find myself just not really caring anymore.

The Good Fight

Ah, this show is so great. So smart. I really loved this third season. Mostly because of the Michael Sheen addition.

Whiskey Cavelier

So long, Whiskey. It was somewhat enjoyable while it lasted. I stopped liking it when they brought on Scott Foley’s real life wife as the romantic interest of another character. It felt very weird to me.

iZombie

I’m so over this show. It was one of my favorites for awhile. Now with all the zombies vs humans and the closed off Seattle where they all live together…I just don’t like it. It was so much more fun when Liv was portraying different people each episode and Clive was none the wiser.

Sneaky Pete

It came back! I binged the third season in like two days. I love it. So much. So, so much. I hope it comes back, even though it seems to be a full year in between seasons. I am basically in love with Giovanni Ribisi in this. So much nuance to his character. LOVE.

The Bachelorette

Okay, I was seriously dreading watching this. I only watch it so I can get more out of the (paid for) Popcast Patreon recap episodes each week. I could not stand Hannah on Colton’s Bachelor season. I thought she was the worst pick ABC could have possibly made to star in her own Bachelorette season. BUT – she has surprised me, greatly. I kind of think she’s pretty dang awesome now. And I love the cast of guys. So many standouts! I think I’m going to get way too emotionally invested by the time some of my favorites are sent home. Right now I’m rooting for Jed or Peter. Is Peter not the most adorably sweet faced man ever?! I also think Tyler and Mike are fun.

Dirty John

I ran out of shows to watch this week and decided to start this one up. I loved the podcast and was curious to see how they televised the same true story. I have to say that the voices of all the characters are even more annoying than they were in real life. But I’m intrigued. I’m surprised by how much ground has been covered only three episodes in. I think Connie Britton is fantastic in it.

TV – TOGETHER

Killing Eve

We watched all of the second season this month. I liked it! It was a bit bizarre. I mean, it’s been bizarre from the get go. Villanelle is just such a fascinating psychopath to watch. Eve’s infatuation with her is harder to understand, though I guess I’m infatuated by her too. I also didn’t care much for Nico in the first season, but found him quite attractive in this one! I’m curious to see if (spoiler) Eve is really dead. She can’t be, right?

The Umbrella Academy

I just don’t know what to make of this show. I thought it was so corny and dumb when we started it. We watched it every night on our Colorado vacation and then took a break until this week when we picked it up again. I’m kind of highly invested, but also don’t really have a clue what’s going on. I love the characters and also don’t really care about them? And the unexplained monkey and robot mom? It’s just so bizarre. Maybe the expectation is that you should read the comic books before you ever even think about watching the show. Which I of course did not do.

You’re the Worst

These people really are the worst. And yet I love them. I’m not sure how it took me five full seasons before I knew this show existed, but it’s proved to be a fun and hilarious addition to our tv nights in between the more serious shows. I LOVE Jimmy. I have mixed feelings on everyone else.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Meh. Same old, same old.

Superstore

Ditto.

MOVIES

The New Romantic

This was a really weird and off-putting movie. I was grossed out by it. I think Netflix is trying way too hard to just churn out movies with no real interest in great content anymore.

The Hustle

I thought this was okay. I wanted it to be hilarious, but found myself just so sad watching Rebel Wilson cast once again as the fat and clumsy girl next to someone tall, beautiful, elegant, poised. I wish she could just be A PERSON. The movie itself was fun, but not particularly funny. It made for a nice night out by myself, though.

What I Read May 2019

This was a rough month for reading! I was so incredibly busy and had such a hard time getting in the right headspace to relax enough to get into a story. Kind of a first for me over such a long period of time. I did not like it! I only ended up reading ten books, and three of those are cookbooks so I feel like they barely count (though I DO read them cover to cover). I also read one great nonfiction and then what is probably a record breaking low of only six fictional titles this month. Though my numbers were down, the books themselves were almost all fantastic. I can’t wait to tell you about them!

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Rating: 3 stars

This was a slow “thriller” about Hen, a woman who is fairly certain her next door neighbor Matthew is a murderer. The problem is that Hen is bipolar and has a history of being manic and accusing people of violence that was not real, so she’s not taken seriously by the police, even when she witnesses something first hand. I wrote this little review about a week and a half after I read it, and it took me quite awhile to jog my memory on what happened. Never a great sign for a book. I liked it while it was reading, but it was also somewhat predictable (if you read a lot of psychological thrillers) and ultimately, forgettable.

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: 4 stars

I thought this was a fairly straight forward and sweet YA love story. Hugo, a British sextuplet who just broke up with his girlfriend decides to go ahead with the train trip across America she had planned for them. The only problem? He needs to find someone with the same name to claim the tickets and travel with him. He ends up with Mae, an aspiring filmmaker who is on her way from New York to start college at USC. I think a big part of why I found this book so enjoyable was because of the unique and fun supporting characters. Hugo’s amazing set of siblings and parents and Mae’s two dads and spunky grandma. Even though none of them were on the train and in the picture for most of the book, their presence was still felt and really rounded out the characters. I liked this book a lot!

Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever
Rating: 3 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted a comprehensive guide (rather than searching pinterest) on making marshmallows. Last year I found a company that makes the most amazing marshmallows, but they cost a fortune and shipping is ridiculous, so like all foodie things it seemed time to take matters into my own hands and just learn how to do it for myself! I liked this one because the cover is colorful and fun and a glance at the original vanilla marshmallow recipe looked easy to do. And it was! I think if you’re interested in learning to make marshmallows and could see yourself doing it often for gifts or whatever, this would be a great guide. It’s straightforward and easy to follow. My only complaint is that there really aren’t that many recipes. There are many tips and hints for things you could change to enhance a recipe, however. I mean, it’s hard to really flush out a cookbook centered around one single thing. The recipes included looked delicious and I loved all the fun photographs. So far I’ve still only made the vanilla marshmallows, but I’m looking forward to figuring out how to recreate my favorite salted caramel version from what I learned in the cookbook.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Rating: 4.5 stars

I had a really hard time deciding what to rate this book. I felt a lot of it was somewhat mediocre as you follow the lives of Annika and Jonathan, jumping back and forth between when the met in college and when they reconnected ten years later. I was definitely interested enough to keep reading, but nothing was really gripping my attention until at least halfway through when you start to notice how much Annika, who is on the autism spectrum but doesn’t want people to realize it, is growing. The last about twenty percent of the book took such a turn that I was literally sobbing through the entire thing. I have never rooted so strongly for a character in her own personal journey. I went pretty lackadaisical to deeply emotional about everything. By the end, I have to say that I highly recommend this. And stick with it. It was so worth it.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Rating: 5* stars

I loved this book! The enemies to lovers trope is one of my all time favorites in a romance, and this book did it justice! It reminded me a lot of The Hating Game, one of my all time favorites. There is so much snappy dialog, hilarious circumstances, and total delight immersed in all of the character interactions. Unlucky Olive and grumpy Ethan find themselves taking their siblings’ honeymoon package when they’re the only two people at the entire wedding who don’t come down with an immediate case of violent food poisoning. They hate each other, but after being forced to spend time together they realize how wrong they’ve judged the other. The first half of the book had me laughing out loud almost nonstop. I didn’t want to put it down. The second half got a bit more serious, but I loved it just as much. This book is definitely finding a place on my very limited shelf of books I want to re-read in the future. It was great!

The Big Bottom Biscuit by Michael Volpatt
Rating: 4.5 stars

I’ve been finding myself very drawn to specialty cookbooks lately. Can you tell?? This was another new cookbook I happened to see before it was released and thought it was definitely worth the $12 to check it out. And now that I have it in my hands I think it was definitely worth it. The original biscuit recipe was fabulous – and easy! And there are tons of variations, toppings, and recipes for related things they make at their restaurant. There’s even a chapter on how to use leftover dried out biscuits. While it was a comprehensive guide, I’d say about half the things listed did not align with my personal taste buds. Not the cookbook’s fault obviously, it’s just not the kind of book that I marked everything down as wanting to try. But there were still enough I’m definitely going to keep this cookbook around. I also found it a little odd that most of the biscuit recipes only make 6 or 9 biscuits (clearly not enough for my small family of four that would definitely want at least two each!), but the recipes for spreads and compound butters were enormous. I’ll have to wait until I actually make a few things to see if they even out a bit, but just from reading the ingredient lists, they seem very disproportionate. I took it down half a star because the writing itself was not particularly passionate, the way most cookbooks made by restaurant owners are. While the recipes looked great, the descriptions and stories just didn’t feel overly personal or interesting to me. But if you like biscuits and happened to be looking for random things to add to your meals, this would be a great book!

Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
Rating: 4 stars

To be honest, reading a YA love story centered around 9/11 did not sound that interesting to me. But Julie Buxbaum wrote one of my all time favorite books (Tell Me Three Things), so I was definitely willing to give it a shot. This is the story of Abbi, who was the focus of a famous 9/11 photograph as a baby holding a balloon on her first birthday as she’s being carried away from the towers. Now 16, she meets Noah, who had his own related 9/11 tragedy. To me their relationship was pretty boring at the beginning. It felt more juvenile than the type of YA I get the most enjoyment out of. But it really pulled through later on and had me in tears quite often. Even though I was around for 9/11 and will never forget about it, I honestly haven’t read much about people who were there and still live in New York and have to process their loses again and again. It was worth finishing and gave me a lot to think about.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook by Tyler Malek
Rating: 4.5 stars

Now this is a cookbook written by someone who is consumed with passion for his craft! These are the specialized restaurant founded cookbooks that I adore adding to my collection. I first found out about this new release from a Tasty video I saw on facebook of the author showing off a recipe for Salted, Malted Cookie Dough Ice Cream that looked incredible. Instead of pinning the recipe, I preordered the book. I was quite disappointed to find out that the recipe isn’t actually in the cookbook! So I had to go back and find it and pin it anyway. (By the way – I made that particular recipe earlier this week and it is AMAZING.) But still – the cookbook is filled with innovative, unique, and fabulous looking ice cream recipes. In theory, the ice cream itself looks very easy to make, but it also has many different mix-ins you should/could make before you can throw them into the ice cream. I love all those included recipes, but it also makes it a lot less likely I’ll ever follow through on actually making many of them. They look like a lot of work! With a lot of forethought – which isn’t really my style when it comes to whipping up a dessert. I’d say I marked about 1/3 of the recipes as ones I wanted to try, which normally would make me feel iffy about the book as a whole. But the recipes looked so amazing I can see myself loving them and making them again and again. A lot of the flavors are just totally crazy and I’d probably never spend the time to risk something I’m fairly certain my family wouldn’t touch. It really just made me wish a Salt & Straw store was in this part of the country so I could take the easy way out and just buy some! Anyway, I’m taking off half a star for those reasons, but the cookbook itself is gorgeous and interesting and made me very excited about making my own ice cream in the very near future!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Rating: 5*

This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it – did I really want to read a memoir about therapy? Do I really need a nonfiction book about other people’s problems? Did I need to hear all about the merits of therapy when I’ve had such an unimpressive journey with my own bouts of therapy? It turns out that I did. Gottlieb’s writing style as she jumps back and forth between her patients and her sessions with her own therapist made the book both fascinating and useful. As nonfiction it still took me a little longer to get through than fiction would, but it certainly held my attention in ways that nonfiction almost never does. I finished this book feeling like I had a better grasp on how to live my own life and its search for meaning, rather than happiness. I would highly, highly recommend this book.

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Rating: 4 stars

I almost gave up on this book. It’s the perfect example of why I’m so hesitant to DNF books too early – they really do have the potential to get so much better! Honestly, I was wavering about the first 30% of the book. The main character, Calla, was so entitled and materialistic, I had no desire to get to know her. But then it got good. Really good. I am in love with the male lead, Jonah. The rest of the Alaska characters are so sweet and supporting. The ending is bittersweet, but you’ll know that from the get go. It had me crying my eyes out at 3am last night when I finished it. If you can stick with it for that first chunk, it’s really worth reading.