Saturday Reflections 09.15.2018

We made it through the second week of school with a lot fewer breakdowns! I’d say this has probably been the easiest transitional beginning school period we’ve ever had. Which is surprising with Caden at a new school and Shepard without his big brother to depend on. I’ve even had a pretty easy time transitioning into my own routines again, without feeling like my life has drastically changed. I like it!

Unfortunately, it still wasn’t quite a “normal” week. September is never normal since I’m usually preparing for birthday parties on more than one weekend. Which basically means a ton of running around trying to gather everything I need. My sewing always falls to the wayside, which is frustrating, but I don’t really know what to do about it. I think I just need to accept I’m never going to be as productive as I hope to be in September. Hopefully I can make up for it in October?

On Monday, I began my morning with that two week yoga challenge. It felt great to get it over with first thing in the morning and I was loving how I felt. But by Wednesday I was getting super sore, mostly my ankles, and wasn’t sure if I should power through or not. I don’t think I was actually injuring myself, but it was getting a lot harder to walk and feel good. By the end of the week I wasn’t feeling the greatest either, so the last few days have been very half-hearted attempts. I really want to complete this challenge, but I lost my enthusiasm for it after four days.

I tried going for another long walk after getting the boys to school, but that hasn’t gone very well either this week. The stupid mosquitoes!! There are honestly like twenty mosquitoes on your body at all times the second you walk out the door. It’s an absolute nightmare. And it makes me want to cry how beautiful the weather has otherwise been, but we’re all missing it because the mosquitoes are out to kill. 🙁 And poor Annie! She’s only getting out to the bathroom the absolute bare minimum of times every day, with almost no additional exercise. I walk her with us to school every morning, but then I rush her home as fast as possible because every time she stops to sniff or go to the bathroom, I’m attacked by ten times more mosquitoes. She probably feels like she’s being punished.

I ran to Walmart for some groceries and then stopped at my mom’s to drop off a few condolence gifts I picked up in Chicago. We had coffee together and then I came back home to try and catch up on all kinds of random stuff I had waiting for me. I hung up this big sign I got at the vintage market at the bottom of my stairs – I love it! I was going to hang up my colorful signs in my sewing room too, but realized they didn’t come with any picture hanger thingys. So I need to figure out where to buy those before they can get on the wall.

The rest of Monday I napped, worked a little bit, Greg took Caden to his first Lego League – an hour late because I never got the memo the time changed – and just laid around because I wasn’t feeling that good. I really haven’t been feeling the greatest all week. Not sick enough to be bedridden or anything, but enough to make every job a little harder and motivation much harder to muster up.

Tuesday I was bound and determined to actually get some work done. But I also had yoga, quiet time, school send off, errands at the post office and library, and I stopped in at a local morning coffee, but people who said they would be there were not and I was frustrated and sick of how often people think my time is invaluable, so I left. I don’t have time for people that waste my time anymore. Or time for people that have zero interest in maintaining a friendship. I went back home and worked, worked, worked, and still went to bed feeling incredibly frustrated with how little I actually got done. I feel like I used to sew so much faster! Am I being more of a perfectionist now? Or am I just plain slower??

I ordered this new bench ottoman type thing from Kohl’s with a bunch of Kohl’s cash I needed to use last week. It ended up being super cheap. I was hoping it would fit in our bedroom, but there’s definitely no space for any extra furniture. So I put it in the family room, hoping it might make the space a little happier. Instead it just looks more cluttered than ever. I’m really not a fan of that room. But I don’t know what to do to make it any better. It serves as our dining room, our main living/tv watching/video game playing space, the electronic charging station, the room we walk in and out of all the time and dump all of our shoes, coats, and bags, Greg’s office area, and where Annie’s kennel and toys and food are kept. How do you arrange a room that has to fit so many purposes? Anyway, the boys and pets love the new stool. I’d like it more if they’d actually keep it in one spot. I don’t know why everything I neatly arrange has to be moved and cluttered about two minutes after I arrange it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I went to the fall opening of one of my favorite stores, Twisted Sisters, on Wednesday morning. I’m finding that I like the things they sell there less and less, but I always enjoy looking around. I ended up buying a few stems of fake fall flowers. Then back home to work.

On Wednesday evening we met Greg’s parents at the new restaurant/bowling alley/arcade in town, Fast Lanes. We were celebrating Caden’s birthday with them because they’re off to Greece for the next two weeks and won’t be around for the party. I’ve been dying to check the restaurant out since it opened. I ended up just ordering the basic chicken sandwich and garlic tater tots. My only complaint is that none of the food was very hot, but it still tasted good.

We came back to our house for presents and cupcakes. Caden was super excited about a new video game and his very own RED portable charger! We’ve reached the age where gifts are much smaller in size and much bigger dents in the wallet!

His first 10th birthday dessert. It was a fun night!

Thursday was another big work day. I’m hoping maybe if I force myself to work and only work 2-3 days a week it will ease up some of the guilt I feel on busier days. It still wasn’t super productive, though, because I was super tired. Getting up at 4:30 every day to fit in my full morning routine is awesome, but I always pay for it by late morning which sucks. I forget how productive I was in those early hours and just end up mad at myself for how little I got done later on.

I was originally planning to go to that Madison Night Market, which looked so awesome. But by afternoon I was really feeling like my time would better be spent working and getting ready for the big weekend. Plus, it kind of sucks always going to these events by myself. I just wasn’t up for another one. Anyway, Greg offered to pick up a pizza from the other new restaurant in town, James Street Pizza. I was a little annoyed to see that they don’t let you change anything on any of their menu pizzas. (Almost all of them had onions, which is pretty much the most annoying topping to have to try and dig out before eating and we both hate them.) We could have built our own, but it would have been New York Style, and I really wanted to try their Old World Style with the fresh mozzarella. So we landed on the least offensive pizza choice and I just picked off the sausage. I think it would have tasted amazing with some pepperoni, but I did really like the pizza otherwise!

This is Caden’s new favorite reading position. Annie had to try it out on Friday morning. 🙂

I woke up super early on Friday, but was really stressed about my lack of doll progress, so I used the morning to work instead of do yoga. I wasn’t feeling very well all day, so it’s the first day I skipped a video completely. There was just so much to do! Shepard decided to pull a fake out sick tantrum when we got to school so Greg gave in and let him come home. Except he admitted like two minutes later he didn’t want to go to school because they had a substitute teacher who is really mean. TOTALLY faking the sickness. I was pretty livid, but I also had party running errands I needed to do, so I left Greg to deal with it. He ended up bringing Shepard back to school mid morning.

My main mission Friday was to get a ton of different donut holes and pick up everything else I needed for Caden’s birthday party without needing to run back out last minute. I think I succeeded! (I have two more hours to realize I might have forgotten something.) Then back home, a nap, and more work.

The facebook book club I’m in is doing a fall readathon this weekend. Despite it not being the best of weekends to making reading a priority, I decided to join in the fun because there was no hour requirement this time around. And I’m actually really glad I decided to partake because it’s made this weekend so much more fun and relaxing than it could have been! With a lot of Greg’s help doing house cleaning, I’ve had more time than ever to just read the last two days. I think that mentally I really needed to put my dolls aside and only focus on party prep and reading. I kind of want to do this every weekend now. It’s been great doing all the facebook related prompts too, with the reading group. I love being around other book lovers, even if it’s only through my computer.

Saturday was the big party prep day. Again, I was planning to go to the farmer’s market, but made the decision to skip out. Maybe next Saturday. Hopefully next Saturday. 🙂 This was the right choice, though. The boys had some friends over and at first we said they couldn’t come inside because we were cleaning. The mosquitoes were eating them alive, so then we said they could come in if they helped clean. Which they all willingly did, which was kind of hilarious.

We’re taking it pretty easy with this breakfast themed birthday party, so the only real baking I had to do was making apple cheddar scones. I also had to make a couple packages of bacon, cheesy hashbrowns, and sausage. Lots of little prep, but nothing unmanageable or stressful. Caden’s birthday cake is this donut “croquembouche.” (Thanks for the idea, Great British Baking Show!) It turned out pretty well!

Anyway, I’m off now to finish everything up for the party and then HAVE the party. More later!!

Weekend Reflections 09.09.2018: The First Week of School and My Chicago Mini Vacation

Hello!

I am writing this on about four hours of sleep after driving/walking/shopping for most of the last two days, so bear with me if I’m not making any sense! I thought about writing this post tomorrow instead, but I have enough stuff to do tomorrow!

Anyway, it’s definitely been a typical first week of school transitional period where everyone is in awful moods and ready to burst into emotional meltdown at the tiniest infraction. As much as I love this time of the year, it’s definitely exhausting. I was so antsy to get back into my own routines too, but I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to instantly be back in the thick of things. But we made it and live to tell about it, and hopefully the next few weeks will be easier!

Sunday and Monday were fairly uneventful. The boys were soaking up every available minute with their friends. Greg and I were trying to take it pretty easy, resting from our ailments. By Monday my pinched nerve was barely noticeable, thank goodness! I was hoping to have some sort of last day of summer celebration, but decided just hanging out with their friends was good enough. That’s all they wanted to do anyway.

Tuesday was the first day of school. Caden was actually really excited about it! Shepard was wavering, but I think he was looking forward to seeing his friends every day again.

Our annual photo session was done at superspeed because swarms of mosquitoes were out to kill! It was seriously miserable. We all had bug spray on too and it didn’t make a bit of difference.

Ran into Willow as we were walking. When they found out they were in the same class a few weeks ago they were crazy excited. I’m very happy for them. 🙂

The boys spent half the walk screaming because of the mosquito attacks. And half the walk ten steps ahead of me so they could discuss Minecraft. This past year I’ve often wondered what the point of me walking with them even is!

We went to the middle school first and met up with the neighborhood gang. The older kids seemed pretty chill about the first day. I think Shepard was a little sad that we had to leave them all behind when we walked over to the elementary school for him.

But once he saw his friends he was fine! I had to chase him down to say goodbye and he refused to give me a hug. Too cool for mom!

I spent my first day home alone deep cleaning the house. Those kinds of chores feel so pointless in summer when kids are constantly running through and destroying all of my efforts ten seconds after I do them. It felt really good to get everything fresh and ready for the week.

I picked them up after and it sounds like everything went well! The biggest news is that Shepard PEED! At school! During the day! On the first day! You cannot even begin to understand how much of a struggle the last two years have been. He has never, not even once, gone to the bathroom during the school day. He wasn’t even potty trained in preschool or 4K like he was supposed to be. And in kindergarten and first grade he just expertly held it in. The only time he had an accident was at the very end of the last school year and I think it was only because he wasn’t feeling well. Anyway, it’s a BIG DEAL that he went during school every single day this week and I think our struggles are over!!!

Caden is the more emotional one, so I didn’t get a lot of information out of him about how things are going, but he seems pretty happy. He likes his teacher. He gets to see some of his best friends at lunch and recess. I think he feels pretty cool being a big kid in the middle school now. Growing up!

Wednesday was picture day. They were both so mad at me that I made them wear these new shirts. I’m switching it up from the Chaps plaid button shirts I’ve made them wear every picture day to date. I can’t wait to see how they turned out!

I had a major errand day on Wednesday, though that wasn’t my original plan. But, things are breaking in our house left and right right now, and I had to go buy a new faucet for our bathroom sink. And if I already have to leave town for one errand, you better believe I’m going to make the most of the drive, fitting in as much as I can! I also went to Target, Woodman’s, the UPS Store, and ate some Wendy’s chicken on the way home. Then I took a nap! And worked the rest of the day.

Thursday was a HUGE work day. I finally forced myself to sit down and just get it done. I finished up all these dolls and got them listed by dinnertime. Then my friend Deja came over for a craft night. I wasn’t in the mood to start back in on new dolls, so I organized my huge stamp collection – a messy job that I’ve been putting off for about two months. It wasn’t particularly fun, but it felt great to get it done. And it was so nice to have a friend night! One of the best parts of the new school year is that everyone suddenly seems interested in rekindling friendships. I think we’re all just trying to survive in the summer and can’t handle that one more thing. But in fall our minds get freed up a bit and we’re more willing to go the extra mile to make friend things happen.

I don’t really remember what I did Friday. I was supposed to be working! But I didn’t, at all. Oh yeah, I made cinnamon rolls, I made salsa, I went to the ATM and got gas, I went to one grocery store on purpose, and then I went to another grocery store when I realized I didn’t have cream cheese for my cinnamon roll frosting. I walked Annie. I did some cleaning and laundry and packed for my weekend. We celebrated surviving the week with the cinnamon rolls.

The very sad news Friday is that my mom’s dog Juno passed away. 🙁 She was about 14 years old and going downhill fast, but it still took everyone by surprise how fast it happened in the end. She was a wonderful dog that was loved beyond measure by my mom. She had a very long and happy life with the best dog mom in the world. She will forever be missed.

Saturday was start to my big Chicago adventure weekend. On Friday when I was researching out my route I realized this awesome store in Beloit was on the way. I went to their facebook page to check out their hours and saw that there just happened to be a huge vintage market happening in Rockford on Saturday – also on my route. I was SO excited to find something unique to do that I’d absolutely love. And it didn’t disappoint!! I think it was even better than Cranberry Fest, which is one of my all time favorite days of the year. Though Cranberry Fest is also special because I go with my parents and we have a lot of fun together. But next year, we’re going to this too. FOR SURE. There were about 175 vendors and every single booth was filled with all the vintage type stuff that I adore. It was packed, but everything was fairly spread out so you never got that suffocated feeling like you do in the aisles at Cranberry Fest. And all the shoppers were just in the best of moods too! It was a very relaxed and happy atmosphere and I LOVED IT. I didn’t buy much, mostly because I wasn’t interested in carrying it back to my car (through a huge long grassed muddy and bumpy field – basically the worst possible walking conditions for my ankle). I picked out these two signs for my sewing room. And later I finally found a large wall sign with a great saying I couldn’t say no to.

The only downside is that the lines to pay and the lines for food and drinks were so long. I wish I had gotten lunch at like ten when I noticed nobody in lines. Instead I probably spent at least twenty minutes waiting in line at this marshmallow trailer to get a frozen hot chocolate, s’mores style. She also sold all kinds of gourmet s’mores, fresh and hot. I decided to skip that even though they looked amazing, assuming they’d be too messy. Butttt this was just as messy. If not more. My hands were immediately coated in marshmallow which I transferred to my phone when I took this picture. I kept trying to get my hands cleaned off, but my only option was my shorts or dry grass! The whole market was in the country with only outhouses and not a sink in sight. But, I think it was worth it. 🙂 The homemade marshmallow fluff was my favorite part. So tasty!

I stayed at the market for three hours, looking at everything two or three times. Then I headed further south to Schaumburg, where my hotel was. At that point I was starving, and desperate for something more substantial to eat. I just stopped at Portillo’s, as the first unique restaurant I came upon. I decided to go a little out of my restaurant comfort zone (i.e. chicken) and ordered an Italian beef with spicy peppers and cheese fries. I’m not sure I’d get it again, but it wasn’t bad! I was so hungry that I think anything would have fit the bill! Madison is getting a Portillo’s soon, so I’m curious to see if the restaurant is built in the same manner as the Chicago branches.

After my late lunch I had just enough time to stop in at a TJMaxx (of course) before checking into my hotel. I did a little reading and then spent way too much time trying to decide which of my outfits to wear for the big night and attempting to get my hair to curl and failing. My built in relaxing break of the day was not very relaxing!

While I definitely wasn’t super hungry at that point, I was still hoping to at the very least pick up a coffee or something at a gas station on my way to The Popcast show. But I underestimated how bad highway traffic was going to be at that time of day, or in that area, and didn’t have time. But I did get a great spot in line! My sister-in-law Melissa joined me before the doors opened. Though kind of defeating the purpose of the line, once we were inside we still couldn’t actually go in the theater for another half hour. But we got some great seats once we did!

Because I pre-ordered Knox’s book, I was actually able to get a signed ARC at the show! Lest you forget, I’m on the launch team for this book, which is crazy exciting to me. So you’re going to be hearing about it a lot in the next two months before it’s released. Or, you will be if you follow me on instagram or facebook! It’s genuinely a great book, though. So funny. So poignant. So relatable.

I splurged for VIP tickets, allowing us into the show early and able to watch the pre-show Q&A. That part wasn’t terribly exciting, but I loved the main show!! Melissa had never even listened to them, but I think she enjoyed it too. It was just so fun seeing the people I listen to 3-4 times a week right in front of me! I might be a tiny bit obsessed. But they also provide me a whole lot of joy in the most mundane parts of my day and I am devoted for life. If you haven’t already, LISTEN TO THE POPCAST. It’s so good. And then support them on Patreon because those episodes are even better. And then listen to them on The Bible Binge, their secondary podcast.

Overall, the whole day was awesome! My only regret was not going with Melissa to a unique taco restaurant after the show. I was starving, but I was also tired and didn’t want to deal with moving my car and finding another parking spot, late at night in unfamiliar territory. Instead I drove the half hour back to my hotel exit and then got a McDonald’s chicken sandwich that was stone cold by the time I got to my hotel room. 🙁 I was exhausted, but also super hyped up, so I took a long shower and then watched the movie Sierra Burgess is a Loser. It was a great night!

Today has not been as exciting. My original plan was to just chillax in the hotel all morning, but I was antsy to get moving and find something to do. So I went to an upscale grocery store in search of something for breakfast. Then hit up a Trader Joe’s and a Marshall’s. I walked quickly through Ikea because I was regretting not going when I was in Minnesota last month. And then I went to the gigantic Woodfield Mall. I didn’t have any great interest in being there, it just felt like something I should do. I didn’t stay long. Then I headed up to Beloit to hit up that store (Vintage Bliss) and finished my trip at Qdoba for a late lunch of knockout tacos in Madison. I got home around 3:30, totally exhausted. But I’ve been steadily cleaning and organizing and trying to get ready for the week.

Sunday Intentions

It’s kind of a weird week ahead. There’s not much on the calendar I NEED to do. But there are so many things I COULD do. The smart and driven part of my brain says I should forget all the extras and just work all week. I could use the sales! But the adventurous part of my brain wants to take advantage of all these cool things that happen in fall. I want to drop a few things off at my mom’s and do some grocery shopping in the morning. There’s a friend coffee date I’m planning to go to on Tuesday. One of my favorite stores is having a special fall shopping event on Wednesday. I might possibly have a friend thing Wednesday night. Thursday night there’s a Madison Night Market that looked really intriguing. I’ve been trying to keep the whole week open in case we’re doing any sort of early birthday celebration for Caden with Greg’s parents, but no word on that yet. And on Friday and Saturday I need to clean and shop and prep for Caden’s family birthday party on Sunday morning.

So…I’m not really sure how the week will go! I’m also feeling bad because I had all these plans to take Annie to so many dog parks in the Madison area, and I just can’t seem to fit it into my schedule because it’d basically take an entire day away from anything else. There are just so many things going on in September! So many birthday things for Caden too. Balance is what I’m striving for, I guess. I just don’t want to burn myself out and not be able to enjoy the fun times.

Anyway, I think it’s time for me to go to bed! It’s been quite a week!

September Goals

Happy September!

The calendar has turned, the kids have returned to school, and my heart is filled with joy! I can’t even tell you how much I struggle with summer and how much happier and free I feel in fall. I love my kids, but I’m a much better mom when I’m not with them 24 hours a day. I think they’re happier too, having a normalized routine, seeing their friends every day, using their brains and bodies for more than just laying around the house, eating three solid meals with a lot less random snacking, and feeling a greater sense of purpose in their own lives. I love the fresh beginnings, the cooling temperatures, and most of all – seven blessed hours at home to myself every day. I can breathe again and I love it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals now that the season has shifted and with what mindsets and intentions I want to carry with me into the fall. I was going to do an all-encompassing fall goals list, but I decided that September, October, and November are all so vastly different, I’m better off keeping these on a month by month basis. I do much better with short term goals that I can think about often and actually reach.

1. Get back to routine.

Easy enough, right!? I feel like with my own personal routines I’m pretty good at staying on task for 11 months of the year, and then August comes and everything slides away. I start sleeping in later, I stop persisting with Annie’s and my exercise routines, and I let meal planning and cooking really fall to the wayside. It’s hard to pick it all up again in full force come September. But I’m ready. The hardest part is going to be getting disciplined in the mornings. I never have much issue waking up early, but more often than not I end up wasting so much of my best mental energy just doing stupid things on my computer. Anyway, I’m going to write out what I’d like my ideal routine to look like. I think about 90% of school days should be able to follow this routine without much hiccup!

A. Wake up by 5:30 every day and take a shower immediately if it doesn’t interfere with Greg’s morning schedule. (I get way too lazy when I put it off until later in the morning.)

B. Start each morning downstairs with a quiet time, devotional, writing a short gratitude list, and going over my bullet journal – which I definitely want to be consistent about using again.

C. If there is any remaining time before the boys get up, use it to do something for myself. Read, exercise, bake, write, etc.

D. Fully focus on the boys from 6:30 until when we leave for school. If I’m not trying to multitask with work or the internet, I will be a much better mom in the limited time I have with them.

E. Walk them both to school and walk an extra 15-45 minutes with Annie before coming home. Never go on my computer until after this whole morning routine is done!

F. Get down to work by 9:00. Hopefully most days that means actually working! Otherwise if it’s an errand running day, don’t put it off. Just go and get it over with.

G. Pick the boys up from school and just focus on them and homework and dinner until after we’ve eaten.

I. End each evening going over my bullet journal, writing about the day, filling in my tracking stats, and preparing for the next day.

2. Focus on WORKING.

Summer is over! I have the great privilege of working for myself and taking any time off whenever I need it. But that doesn’t change the fact that people are relying on me and if I’m not producing enough dolls, I’m going to lose their interest. And their money! 🙂 I’ve given myself a lot of leeway over the summer, which I think is the right choice. But it’s time to stop coddling myself and just sit down and focus. Fall and Halloween dolls are always huge sellers and I’m definitely behind on where I should be at this time of year. So unless I have a grand excuse not to be, I’d ideally like to put in at least six hours a day for the rest of the month.

3. Take care of my body.

My high blood pressure at the doctor’s appointment the other day has been a bit of a wake up call. I often think of my being overweight as just being an inconvenience to finding clothes that fit and look good on me. When you realize that you actually have internal things going on that ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU, it’s kind of eye opening. I mean, I’m not stupid and I realize I’m not exactly healthy. But it’s also been hard to put exercise first when I broke my ankle and couldn’t walk for three months and the following three months have still been filled with pain. But it needs to be a higher priority here on out. I have sub goals for this too!

A. Walk Annie for at least 30 minutes every morning and take a second afternoon or evening walk when time and mosquitoes allow it. (They are a NIGHTMARE right now.) Always bring earbuds wherever I go because it makes walking a lot more interesting and takes my attention off of how my ankle feels.

B. Do the Yoga with Adriene Commune 14 Day Challenge. In January, I did a 30 day yoga challenge with her videos and I actually rather liked it. There were days and poses that I absolutely hated, but there were other days when I realized how much better I would feel if I made this a regular practice in my life. My doctor is all about the yoga. My best friend is all about the yoga. I think it’s time to give it another shot. I don’t see this as something I’ll do every day of my life, but I think doing a 14 day challenge will help propel in the right direction to do it at least 2-3 times a week.

C. Eat better. Just plain eat better. Plan meals. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Stop buying so much crappy food. Stop eating so many crappy snacks. Fill the fridge with healthy choices every single week. Drink a whole lot more water. Be a healthier person by making the healthier decisions.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month!

September is the start of birthday season in our family. Caden and I and at least half of our extended family has birthdays these last four months of the year. It gets a little crazy. (And expensive lol) But I think I have two good yet easy and manageable birthday parties planned for him now, as well as whatever he wants to do on his actual birthday. I still need to brainstorm some good gift ideas. But I’m on track for everything going well, I think! I’m not always the greatest at making people feel special, but I really hope he comes out of this birthday time feeling loved and important.

5. HAVE FUN!

The last few weeks have been very much about just surviving. Getting through life without losing my mind. I’m hoping September will be a lot more fun! It SHOULD be. But sometimes I let all the chaos overwhelm me and I can’t really enjoy anything. But starting with this weekend I’m going to a Popcast Live Show (CANNOT WAIT) and having a super mini vacation by myself. At the end of the month I have my beloved Cranberry Fest trip with my parents. I’m hoping to get to the awesome fall farmers markets as often as possible on the weeks in between. I’m hoping to reconnect with some friends after barely seeing or talking to anyone all summer. And I want to give myself a good amount of self care and fun excursions when I know I need them. It’s going to be great!

Quick August Reflections

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I wanted to write a reflection post on the month of August. Honestly, August felt like the longest month of my life. June and July flew by and I can barely even remember them. August seemed to last forever. It was five very long weeks packed with adventure, excitement, turmoil, sadness, pain, irritability, exhaustion, and memories. Lots of good, lots of bad. A huge part of me just feels like saying good riddance and forgetting about it all together because it’s already done and over. But I feel like I’m doing myself a disservice not to briefly reflect on it, because reflecting is how I make positive changes and move forward with my life in the right direction. But I will try to be quick! My mind is currently MUCH more focused on September and all the awesomeness that will begin tomorrow WHEN SCHOOL STARTS!!!

I had four goals in August and I think it really helped to keep them to a minimum and keep them obtainable! I’ll have to keep that in mind tomorrow when I write my post about September/fall goals!

1. Make Memories!

I definitely made a lot of memories this past month. We had our little cottage weekend vacation with Greg’s parents and relatives. I had my solo vacation to Minnesota which was equal parts fun and frustration. We had our family trip to La Crosse which went really well, not counting all the bed bug stress (but hey, it was a memory that we’ll NEVER forget!). We took care of Hudson and had two night sleepover. Caden got to see two theater movies with Greg and Shepard and I had a nice Mod Pizza date night. We spent another day with Greg’s relatives which is always enjoyable. The boys had tons of low key friend time with the neighborhood gang. I had a couple of evenings and a Saturday to myself, which I always appreciate A TON in summer when it’s so rare. Greg and I had a date night at a local restaurant. And the boys, my mom, and I had a really special day in Madison together. We were busy! We also had a whole lot of crappy things happen in August, but I think the good outweighed the bad.

2. Read 12 or more books!

I really tried to make reading one of my highest priorities this month, just because it makes me so happy. It’s always hard to get much genuine work done with kids running around all day in the summer, but I’m always able to read. I gave myself plenty of opportunity and validation to spend hours a day some days, just lounging and reading. It was pretty awesome! I read 12 books in total, just as I’d hoped. Books and reading are such a huge part of my life and my biggest hobby and I liked giving myself permission to just go ahead and do it when it’s the only thing I felt like.

3. Make and start an end of summer/fall doll schedule. 

I wasn’t super successful with this. With over a week of vacation at the beginning of the month and a whole bunch of stressful chaotic things happening the last two weeks of the month, it didn’t give me much time to work. I did make a batch of back to school dolls, which went over pretty well. I also ordered more fall and Halloween fabrics to make some fresh new dolls when I have more time. I was hoping to have a big release of new dolls tomorrow, on the first day of school, but the weird pinched nerve in my back these last four days prevented me from ever sitting down and working. Oh well, that’s just life. I know that summer is a very slow time for producing and for sales. I just expected more of myself this year after all the time off I needed to take after I broke my ankle in spring. But I’ll just need to remember next year that working simply can’t be my highest priority. It’s easier as the boys get older, but I still need to be available to them. I will have to make up for this in September.

4. Write every possible day.

Well, this was a big fat fail! As I feel like I’ve already explained three times, this month turned out to be insane. August is usually one of our slowest months of the year and this year it was so busy and packed and exhausting. I just did not have the mental energy or physical time to sit down and write in the ways I had hoped. Reading, which requires a lot less effort, was my go to when I got any sort of break from everything life was throwing at us. And I’m okay with it. But I do truly hope to start writing a lot more often in the future months.

Overall, I’d say it was one of my best summers to date. It helps that the boys keep themselves pretty entertained on their own now, especially if their friends are available to play. We didn’t go on as many day trips as we usually do, but we still had a lot of fun times together. I think that at least until this last week when I was just DONE, I kept a pretty good attitude and accepted the chaos instead of being incredibly overwhelmed by it (most of the time). I appreciate these few months a year I get to see my kids all day every day. I LOVE when they go back to school, but I did a really good job of pushing that out of my mind and not wishing the days away. As a whole, it was a good summer. But I’m also really glad it’s over. 🙂

(Side note: This photo is from a week and a half ago when I randomly decided to dye my hair for the first time in ten years. Can you tell?? Probably not! I don’t think a single person noticed. I was trying to keep it as close to my natural color, just hoping for a bit more vibrancy. I guess I picked a little too close because it looks EXACTLY the same.)

What I Read August 2018

I had a goal this month to read 12 books and I did it! Of course I maybe sort of cheated the system a bit by adding two graphic novels, a full length comic book, and an audiobook to make sure I could fit all 12 in. I felt like I was giving my books a huge amount of time this month, but some of them were really hard to get into and some were really long. But I did it! The majority of the books I read this month were pretty middle of the road, but I do have a couple of great recommendations.

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
Rating: 2 stars

This one really fell flat for me. It’s about Jane, a woman who has the gift of being able to see true love in all its forms. On her 29th birthday she receives a letter from another woman who has the gift and is told that before her 30th birthday she needs to identify and record the six types of true love in the lives of people around her. At first I appreciated the slow buildup and just assumed the book would get a lot more exciting. It didn’t. In fact I found myself incredibly frustrated by Jane. I was not a fan of how many “true love” stories meant tearing apart happy marriages. As if it’s perfectly acceptable and logical to leave the lives you have for a chance at love with someone new. Honestly, the only minor storyline that I actually had huge interest in were from her brother Flynn and the woman he fell in love with only through watching her from his window. Now that’s a story I would have loved to have read! I also felt zero chemistry between Jane and her love interest Cam. Overall, it was a pretty fast read and it wasn’t terrible. I just did not like it.

If I Live by Terri Blackstock
Rating: 4 stars

This was a solid third installment and conclusion to the fast paced If I Run series. Just like in the first two books, Casey is still running for her life, trying to stay alive while also gathering evidence to put away a huge grouping of corrupt cops that killed her father and best friend. Dylan is still slyly trying to help her, while appearing to be working with the force to capture her. Their relationship continues to grow, especially after they find themselves in even more life threatening situations. I really enjoyed this series. It was fast and thrilling with a worthwhile conclusion. Also, I just want to point out how much I appreciate the cover of the book stating which number in the series it is! Why don’t more books do that?? I avoid reading so many series because it’s frustrating and annoying to try and figure out which order to read them in.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Rating: 5* stars

A delightful, charming, and introspective book about a high school acapella group and a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join it. I expected this to be a very light and fast stereotypical YA book. Girl pretends to be boy, falls for boy in the group, misunderstandings and embarrassment follow. And while it did eventually follow that path, there was a whole lot more going on. Jordan is a tall, broad, first generation Asian-American poor girl, with a deep singing voice. She goes to a private arts boarding school on full scholarship with a theater concentration, but she’s never cast in any parts because of her voice. On a whim she decides to dress as a boy and try out for the prestigious male acapella group on campus and gets in. Being forced to dress and act like a boy makes her realize how much more confident she is in that role. But the more she acts like a boy, the more she realizes she really wants to be a girl. She questions her sexuality and is filled with a lot of confusion. I loved Jordan’s story and I especially love the wonderful cast of supporting characters – her fellow Sharpshooters. While this book does eventually end in a romance, it takes a good long while to figure out which of the boys she’s interested in. This is the first book in a very long time that I stayed up way too late to finish. I highly recommend it!

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Rating: 5 stars

I never read graphic novels. Ever. But I happened to see this at a Barnes and Noble and was curious so I bought it. I took it on vacation with me, hoping for a different reading experience. And I loved it! It’s the story of a hard working dressmaker named Frances whose work is seen at a ball and is secretly commissioned by Prince Sebastian to design him dresses and keep his secret that he loves to wear them. Sebastian and Frances go out in the evenings with Sebastian disguised as Lady Crystallia. Of course, his secret is eventually discovered and he’s filled with shame and embarrassment. Overall, this was a really interesting look at a twist in gender identity with a boy who just loves to wear dresses. Obviously as a graphic novel it wasn’t incredibly deep, but the illustrations were fantastic at displaying all of the emotion required. I ADORED the ending. If you’re at all interested in graphic novels, or just a new and fun (and fast!) reading experience, this would be a terrific book to pick up. But read it in hard copy, not digitally!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Rating: 3 stars

I wanted to like this book so badly. It’s been raved about everywhere! And honestly, I was underwhelmed. It wasn’t a BAD book. It was just very subtle and melancholy with the occasional funny quip, but possibly not so funny when it wasn’t meant to be that way when Eleanor said it. I loved the character of Raymond. And I enjoyed watching how Eleanor sunk further into her unknown depression, yet she perseveres and survives. And it’s worth celebrating. I just read an article that this is part of a new genre called “up lit” where the story is meant to be uplifting and make you feel good. And it did – but not until the last 10% of the book. I understand why it took so long to reach that point, but I just really, really wish it had happened a lot earlier on.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (audiobook)
Rating: 5 stars

I read the book last month and loved it so much. It popped up on my Libby app as finally being available on audio from the library, so I decided to go ahead and listen to it since I was saving up my favorite podcasts for a vacation. The audio was so well done! Each character was voiced by a different person and I loved how well the personalities shined through. I’m still pretty new to the audiobook world and after listening to the same thing I had previously read, I can definitely guarantee I get a much richer experience through real reading. But if audiobooks are your thing, this is a great one! (The netflix adaptation was also really great!)

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
Rating: 4 stars

It took me awhile to decide how I felt about this book. There are seven main characters and each chapter alternates between their points of view. You vaguely know from the start that there is an illicit affair going on between a teacher and student. But with so many characters, there are also SO many other things going on. It was interesting how each storyline wove together and formed a pretty strong novel, even though it seemed like each character could have had their own full book. I did struggle a bit with the teacher-student love thing, but it was pretty much EXACTLY how the plot of Slammed (Colleen Hoover) was, and that’s one of my all time favorite books. The only thing I didn’t like were how Juniper’s chapters were so choppy and stilted. Overall, it was a nice book.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Rating: 2 stars

I decided to give graphic novels another shot, this one with illustrations by the same person as The Prince and the Dressmaker, but a different author. I was pretty disappointed. It’s the story of a teenage girl who is recruited into playing an online game for the sake of empowering women in a largely male population. I’m not a gamer, but thought since I’m surrounded by gamers in real life, maybe reading this would give me some sort of connection point with them. But no, it was a weird story. So much going on, I couldn’t really figure out what the point or theme of it was. Just…not for me.

Most of All You by Mia Sheridan
Rating: 4 stars

I started this book thinking it was going to be pretty cliche. Gabriel had a horrendous thing happen to him as a child and as a result he can’t physically get close to people. He goes to a strip club and finds a woman who he hopes will teach him how to get past that barrier. Crystal/Ellie had her own rough childhood and feels worthless yet hardened to all men. But the story got interesting. And I was into it. I had a lot of other stuff going on in my mind while reading this book and it was hard to give it my full attention, but I liked it. I especially liked how Ellie knew she could never be whole if she depended solely on Gabriel. She needed to find worth in herself on her own before she would be free to love and be loved. This is a lovely story of growth born in grief.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Rating: 3 stars

I had a love hate relationship with this book. First of all, it took me an entire week to read which is pretty ridiculous. Partly because I was just really busy and unable to concentrate all week, and partly because I just could not get into the book. It had a slew of quirky characters which usually makes for a great story. But I just didn’t feel that close to anyone. Their internal struggles felt too far away to grasp. And it bothered me. There were some chapters that I adored and some chapters that I couldn’t stand to read. I didn’t want to abandon it, but I was never really into it. The end, however, was epic.

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka
Rating: 3 stars

I’m pretty sure this is the first comic book I’ve ever read. I only picked it up because I love Rainbow Rowell’s books and in the last year she’s only been promoting this Runaways series. I’ve never heard about it before, but assumed since this was a Volume 1 issue, it would be okay to jump into it. Unfortunately, I feel like I was lacking context of past adventures on every single page. Which isn’t the book’s fault, exactly. I just wish it had said somewhere you really should read the older versions in order to fully grasp what’s going on! Overall, though, despite the constant references to things I didn’t understand, it was interesting. And fast. A good way to get a book out of the way. 🙂

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5* stars

Wow, what a book. So much happens in this book it felt like reading three, even though this is only the first in the trilogy. I love how as a fantasy type book – which I often tend to avoid – it started out very straightforward and easy to connect with. I’m often turned off by books that immediately jump into all the random and specific things that you need to know in order to understand the story. Which honestly, I find very overwhelming and off putting. This was about a human girl, Feyre, as she fights against the odds to keep her and her useless family from starving to death. She ends up breaking a treaty between the humans the the faeries that she did not even know existed and is forced to be the captive of the High Fae Lord, Tamlin. This book is filled with exquisite yet flawed characters, which I really adored. Oftentimes in this type of book the heroine or hero makes all the right choices and is revered for it. This felt more true to life with a lot of anguish, sorrow, and regret in so many of the choices they each made. Maas really toys with your loyalties in which characters you should be rooting for as well. Overall, I absolutely adored it and couldn’t wait to jump into the next book! (Which I’m reading right now and can barely force myself to put down.)

Happy reading!

Saturday Reflections 09.01.2018

HAPPY SEPTEMBER!!!!!!

I am so happy to say goodbye to August! A lot of fun things happened, but it was a really stressful month too, and seemed to last FOREVER. This last week pretty much took the cake! Good riddance.

I wrote my last reflection post early, so starting with Saturday – we went to Oshkosh to hang out with some of Greg’s side of the family. We got to meet baby River, another second cousin for the boys.

They were having a blast playing!

On Sunday, I went to see Crazy Rich Asians by myself. I love going to movies on a whim, on my own. I treated myself to Chipotle for lunch and then did my grocery shopping before heading home for a nap. I worked in the evening and took Annie on a long walk. We finished the night with tornado sirens going off. We had just put the boys to bed, so I went back up to get them and gathered all the pets in the basement. Caden was really scared, shaking and crying. Even though we lived in our apartments a few years ago when Columbus got hit so hard, I don’t think he’ll ever forget seeing all that damage around town. He’s very frightened of big storms. Fortunately, it died down before it hit us and the warning was called off. That was Annie’s first time in the basement (I had to drag her down), so she was having quite the adventure! Now every time I go down she lays at the top of the stairs and whimpers. I tell her she can come down and she immediately starts running around like crazy, trying to get away from me. Apparently going in the basement is akin to taking a bath in her mind. I wonder if she was locked in a basement or something in her previous home. 🙁

I wanted Monday to be a really fun day, but then the weather was cooler than expected and I didn’t think the pool options were open. The doorknob that we use all the time broke on Sunday, so we pretty much had no choice but to turn Monday into another errand day. I had a package to drop at UPS, then we went to Menard’s for a new knob, Woodman’s for sunflower seeds, and finished up at Target with the boys getting their very own frappuccinos to celebrate (hopefully) the last time they have to run errands with me for a very long time!

I felt so lazy and exhausted by the time we got back home on Monday. It was really hard to get motivated this week in between everything that was happening. I was tired and grumpy just SO OVER the boys also being tired and grumpy and directing all of their bad attitudes at me. Caden was supposed to go to the last Lord of the Rings movie with Greg, but he was in trouble for how he behaved at Grandma’s on Sunday (I wasn’t there). Instead, I took the kids to the pool. It’s a good thing we went because apparently their sump room or something got flooded the next day and they just closed up for the season. It’s kind of a bummer we couldn’t go this last weekend, but it’s been pretty weird weather again.

The bad news is that we were about to leave the pool and my car died again. Three days at the auto repair place and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Tons of errands the next two days. And then it just dies again. I’m lucky it died in Columbus! I’m also lucky my friend Deja was at the pool with us and was able to come and give us rides back home. We could have walked, but that’s about the last thing I wanted to do at that point in the day! I dropped my key off at the car place and hoped they could figure it out this time.

My original plan for Monday night was to get the boys to bed early so I could enjoy a full evening of reading by my candle far in a CLEAN ROOM. But the car threw everything off and I had a really hard time relaxing. But I gave it my best effort. Keeping this room clutter free and beautiful is one of my highest priorities in the next few months! I love having this pretty reading retreat. My pets do too!

Tuesday was stressful. Shepard has been in the worst of moods. I just couldn’t deal with him. I was trying to get a bunch of work done, and some reading, and basically just let all the kids do whatever they wanted so they’d leave me alone. We were without a car because Greg really needed to go into work for a big meeting and Caden had his last therapy session with that therapist at 3. We were hoping Greg might get home early enough to pick us up, but his meeting ran late and he forgot that my car was being worked on in the first place… Luckily by the time I heard from him we had already walked all the way there. It was far and hot, but we beat the next storm that started as we were leaving therapy.

The rains were so hard on Tuesday night that the basement flooded. And it was in our back room, which usually is very dry. It’s also so far removed from the drain that if we don’t remove the water it’s never going to go anywhere. The only tool at our disposal was a sponge mop that we had to constantly wring out over the drain and a rusty holey shop vac. Greg definitely took the brunt of the work, but Shepard and I helped out too. Greg stayed up for most of the night, going back down over and over again to suck up another bucket of water. NOT fun.

After working on it all night, Greg took a sick day on Wednesday and his dad came over in the morning and helped all day. They took turns with the shop vac and Steve brought over a bunch of fans. By mid afternoon they finally got most of it dried up.

The boys had school orientation in the afternoon. They both keep insisting they don’t want to go to school ever again, but boy were they happy to see their friends! Shepard is Mr. Social Butterfly when he’s at school. I think he’ll be more than fine this year!

Getting the lay of the land at the middle school for Caden was interesting. He has a first year teacher this year and she seemed very nice. He found a few more friends will be in his class. I’m sure he’ll make new friends pretty quickly, but I feel better knowing he’ll at least be familiar with more people than we were originally expecting. Willow is also in his class, who has spent like 75% of the summer at our house, so they are both thrilled. I’m sure the first few days might be a little rough, but I think he’s going to feel pretty cool being the older kid in a new school.

We did go pick up my car before the orientation. They decided the problem was the starter. So I have a new starter. I hope that was really the problem. I HATE living in fear of an unreliable vehicle.

I had my annual exam on Thursday morning, so we had to leave bright and early for that. I was super excited my doctor’s office finally got on board with the national guidelines of having pap tests only every 3 years. That was a very happy surprise! Everything else was okay, except my blood pressure was high. I tried to explain it’s always high at these appointments because I’m so freaked out. But also, in the past week my husband had surgery and isn’t supposed to be doing anything except resting, my car has died and been in the shop twice, my basement flooded, my kids are in the worst of moods, I’ve barely had two minutes to sit down and work for weeks, and life is insane right now! I have a few reasons my BP might be on the rise! But I’m now monitoring it for a few days (it’s still high) and will probably have to see an internal medicines doctor to talk about next steps. Which is honestly just stressing me out a lot too on top of everything. I need to get my act together and get healthy. Breaking my ankle put a major dent in my exercise plans this year, but it’s time to get back out there.

Anyway. I drop my mom and the boys at a park when I go to that appointment each year and then we usually go to the splash pad. It was pretty chilly yet Thursday morning, so we skipped the pad and went to Trader Joe’s. And of course found all kinds of amazing treats! It was my mom’s first time there. I was amazed at her restraint! Of course I also had two kids with me that kept throwing things in the cart. We spent $20 on chocolates alone.

I was planning to just go to lunch and then go home, but the boys remembered The Mustard Museum existed, so we ended up going far in the opposite direction to taste test a bunch of mustards. They LOVE it there. And I really appreciate the employees that cater to my kids requesting a bunch of mustard samples without looking down on them or acting like they were a nuisance. She was smart enough to realize I was probably going to buy what they liked the most!

We had lunch at The Great Dane after, which was delicious. And then finished the trip at Target to get some Starbucks. It was the day I was dreading the most of the week and it actually turned out really great! I feel like I truly enjoyed spending the time with my kids (and my mom) and it was a great send off to summer. It was also just so nice to see them enjoying something other than video games! Even though they hate grocery stores, they were having the best time finding new treats at Trader Joe’s and the mustard tasting felt very special to them. It was good!

Greg’s mom picked up the boys in the evening, so we had our weekly night to ourselves, though this was a week of doing our own things. Greg wanted to work on some stuff outside to try and flood proof our basement. I took Annie to the dog park.

I woke up Friday morning with like a pinched nerve in my back. Every time I moved my right arm my back would scream in pain. So despite my best intentions to have a crazy awesome work day, I had a hard time with it. I did my best, but man, it hurt. It still hurts. Why does this always have to happen when I so desperately want to get things done?!

Today I decided to bow out of the family trip to Cedar Lake to do a few things on my own. I headed out to the farmer’s market for the first time in ages. I don’t think I’ve been there since June. I love these fall markets so much with produce I actually want to buy. It was sprinkling when I got there and full on pouring by the time I left, but I walked as fast as I could and came out with quite a haul! I also went to three different grocery stores afterward to get all my shopping in for the week. My fridge is now bursting at the seams with fresh and delicious foods.

The rest of my day has been spent alternating between reading while lying on an ice pack and trying to get some things done. I’d really like to have my life organized and back on track BEFORE Tuesday when school starts. I want to get everything organized and ready so I can get back into all my normal routines without any hiccups. I also want to pave the way to give myself all the time to WORK. Of course none of this is going to happen if the stupid pain my back, and now neck, won’t go away! So frustrating.

Anyway, that has been the week! A lot of “excitement.” A lot of stress. But summer is over! I am SO ready for September and fall and all of the awesome things coming up in the next few months!

What I Watched and Listened To August 2018

It’s the end of the month! I had plans to write all kinds of end of the month blog posts this week, but just like the rest of August – nothing is really going to plan! There might be a lot of posts coming this weekend! Or not, in case something else comes up! But it’s time to write about tv and movies. I watched a lot of stuff this month! Which is kind of weird because I didn’t really work that much and I usually only watch while I work. But here goes!

TV – Alone (spoilers ahead)

The Bachelorette

Well, I finished my first season of watching this and I liked it so much more than I expected. I mean, it was ridiculous. And I have such a hard time wrapping my head around someone dating/kissing/sexing with more than one person, going back and forth between men, and being totally mentally stable about the entire thing. But it was entertaining and I was invested. I only started watching because I wanted to get more out of The Popcast’s patreon recaps of it each week, but I’m kind of hooked, even without their commentary. Anyway, I really liked both Garrett and Blake, but Blake had my full vote from the very first day. I was definitely sad she didn’t pick him. But after listening to the Popcast episode with them solidifying all the ways that Blake was the better choice, I was kind of devastated! Hopefully he finds someone much more deserving of his love.

Younger

I still adore this show. I’ve been particularly excited about this season with Charles FINALLY KNOWING and after getting over the embarrassment and anger of being duped, he is HAPPY Liza is actually much closer to him in age. I was disappointed in how short lived their romance was, but appreciated they realistically found ways to make their relationship work without destroying their company. From the way things were going I assumed this was the final season, but I guess that’s not the case! And of course we’re still teased about Josh’s deep-seated feelings for Liza. I’ve always been Team Charles, but Josh is adorable and the sweetest guy ever, so I hope he can find love with someone else in the next season!

Quantico

I’m pretty annoyed how easily Alex just fell for the new guy. It was odd how they ended the show with her choosing to keep the little Italian girl after she was just forced to watch her dad die in front of her. I think I heard this was not renewed, so I guess that’s it for Quantico!

Confess

When I went to the Colleen Hoover book signing earlier this month, I found out that one of her books was made into a tv mini series. How did I not know this?! So of course I immediately figured out how to watch it. And it was good! I thought the characters were really great, though it was hard watching Auburn hit one impossible roadblock after the next trying to get her son back. It got pretty depressing to see on the screen. Colleen said the rights to multiple of her books have been bought in the last few years, but as far as she knows, nothing else is really in the works yet.

Making It

I’ve only watched two episodes so far, but I like it! It’s pretty corny and awkward to begin with, but I definitely laughed a few times. And I always appreciate other creators!

Riverdale

Greg and I used to watch this together, but he gave up on it at some point last fall. I decided to catch back up on my own last week. It’s okay. I really dislike Veronica and her family and that’s basically all the show is about anymore.

Bachelor in Paradise

Okay, I’ve officially entered into trashy tv viewing. I was just so curious about this and seeing a lot of the men from The Bachelorette in a different setting. And yeah, the show is so dumb. But I also can’t stop watching. It feels completely unbelievable that anybody truly finds happiness in that sort of situation. So much of it is totally cringe-worthy. But, I’m liking it.

TV – Together

Better Call Saul

Well, we kept trekking along with this and finished the third season just in time for the fourth season to start. After binging all summer it’s really hard to wait a week between episodes! I’m finding this current season to be pretty dark and pretty slow. I’m kind of hoping Jimmy turns into Saul pretty soon because maybe he’ll lighten up and it’ll be a bit more funny again.

Sharp Objects

This was really good! I hadn’t read the book, though I definitely want to now, hoping for a bit more clarification on things. It was really slow at times and I had a hard time understanding Amy Adams’ mumbling half the time. But the characters were pretty fascinating. It just seemed odd how the whole point of the show seemed to be focused on finding the town serial killer and then totally glazing over who it was at the end. But I liked it. Greg thought it was the best tv he’s watched this year.

Prison Break

We finally caught up on that additional re-make season they did a year or two ago. It was pretty dumb! So many stupid plot holes. And really, Michael? In prison AGAIN?? But it was still fun to see the old gang back together again. This was one of our favorites back in the day!

The Affair

We just started this most current season, so I don’t have a lot to say about it yet. It just continues to fascinate me how differently the stories shift between the two perspectives featured in each episode. So many details change, it’s worth watching just to compare and think about how differently people perceive their worlds! It really feels like this show as a whole has run its course, multiple times. But it’s still good.

Movies

Before I Fall

I read this book a long time ago and remembered thinking it was really sad. I wanted to see the movie, but kept putting it off, never in the mood to watch something sad. But, it wasn’t that sad! I actually really enjoyed it.

Rachel Hollis: Made for More

I saw this in the theater by myself and was quite excited about it! Rachel Hollis and her husband Dave put together a documentary of the conference they do once a year for women. It was kind of odd thinking about the movie as just a 90 minute commercial for their conference. But Rachel always has a ton of intriguing things to say that motivate women to be more. I gained some great insight from the movie and hope I might be able to go to a real conference that she’s holding in Minneapolis next summer.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I was so excited to watch this movie after reading the book last month and loving it! Unfortunately, I watched the movie on that bizarre night I was babysitting Hudson and he wouldn’t go to sleep and Greg and Caden were gone at a movie and I just for the life of me couldn’t settle down and relax enough to thoroughly enjoy the movie. But – I liked it. They changed a lot of small details to make it more adaptable for the screen, but the basic plot was the same. Lily James did another fantastic job! She’s truly delightful.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Another book adaptation! I loved this series of books and was SO excited when I found out it was being adapted. I thought it was going to the big screen, though, so I was shocked to just see it on netflix one day! I watched it immediately and loved it. It was pretty much exactly like the book. Highly recommend!

Call Me By Your Name

Also a book adaptation. 🙂 Though I haven’t read it. I liked the movie. It felt very slow. And it was kind of disturbing the difference in size of the actors. Like, Timothee Chalamet truly looks like a little boy in their love scenes which bothered me. But I enjoyed the movie overall. Made me very wistful for life in an Italian countryside where all people do are lay around in grass reading and talking!

A Quiet Place

I really liked this! We usually avoid anything remotely scary, but this was just more suspenseful. Greg actually burst out laughing when the first little boy got taken by the monster. It was a really good movie, though!

Adrift

Meh, this one I think you could skip. Very slow. And I was not prepared for the ending. (Also a book adaptation? Book adapted from the true story?)

Crazy Rich Asians

Okay, I guess I’m on a major role here this month. I started reading Crazy Rich Asians a few months ago because so many people rave about that series. I didn’t like it, though. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever given up on. But the movie looked great and I went to see it last weekend. I loved it! Seriously so good! Definitely see it. And feel free to skip the book.

Podcasts

My podcast listening has really gone down over the summer. Not much of what I listen to is appropriate enough to have on with kids constantly running through. And listening with headphones just doing things around the house feels like I’m kind of being a bad mom. Plus it just drives me insane because they inevitably need something from me every two minutes and I have to keep taking my phone out of my pocket to pause the podcast before I can listen to what they have to say. BUT I will never give up on my weekly favorites! I still most highly recommend The Popcast and of course their patreon only episodes which are amazing. Front Porch with the Fitzes is one I never miss, though I haven’t been super intrigued by many of their episodes lately. I love Spilled MilkHappier with Gretchen Rubin when I’m in the mood for happiness advice. I’m not quite caught up with that, but getting pretty close. And I’ve been catching up with The Bible Binge. I’ve been avoiding it because it was originally released earlier through the Popcast patreon and then one day they just stopped doing it and I couldn’t remember how many episodes I had listened to and didn’t want to waste my energy trying to figure it out. But I finally just picked one and got back on it. Anyway, besides all my usual, I have a few specific episodes to recommend.

Rise Together Podcast with Rachel and Dave Hollis

I’m starting to feel like I need to take a lot of what Rachel says with a grain of salt. She is probably the most motivated and successful women I have ever encountered online. And it’s intimidating. I love her message to women and have really felt encouraged by a lot of what she has to say. But it’s also a bit frustrating because she doesn’t have a realistic lifestyle. She has a lot of money to make her dreams come true. She always says she’s successful because they have a lot of help. But she has that help because she PAYS for that help. Full time nanny and full time housekeeper, to start with! I mean, of course you can be successful if you don’t have to deal with all the crappy parts of life! Anyway, I say all that to say that I don’t listen to her podcast geared toward women all that often, but I LOVE the marriage podcast she does with her husband. Nothing but hard work is going to keep a marriage as strong as theirs. They only started this podcast a few months ago so it would be easy to catch up, but if you want to just jump into an episode that will make a big impact, I highly recommend starting with We’re Married and We’re Dating! and Let’s Talk about Sex Baby. Both of those episodes were really, really great.

Penpals with Rory Scovel and Daniel Van Kirk

I recommended this last month and I’m going to say it again. I love it! They’re comedians, so most episodes hold a lot of humor, but they also have a lot of really interesting and more serious things to say about each topic. My favorite episodes so far have been Teaser 3 – A Nipple Conundrum and Chasing Your Dreams & Choosing Your Cookies. Check it out!

My Dad Wrote a Porno

It’s back! Season four/book four, it just started this week. I HATE how long they go between books. Like eight months?? But it’s so hilarious, you guys. Never, ever listen to it with other people around, but definitely listen! One of the funniest and most entertaining things you’ll find.

Let me know what you’ve been watching and listening to! I’m always up for more recommendations!

Sunday Intentions 08.26.2018

One more week! One more week! I’m excited and a little bit nervous. The pressure is really on to make the last week of summer memorable, fun, and just the right balance between getting ready to slide back into daily routines and still wanting to make the most of our days together. Usually I like to keep this final week free of commitments so we can take it day by day and choose the things that sound the most enjoyable to all of us. Unfortunately, we’re already pretty booked this week. But I think we can work around it and still fit in a few fun things.

Today I am once again sacrificing myself to the weekend shoppers that somehow think it’s fun to bring their entire families grocery shopping. I know the boys probably haven’t even noticed that I’ve purposely done my shopping this month at times Greg was home so they wouldn’t have to come with me (because they HATE it). But I did it for them!! Weekend errand running is the worst. But alas, I will do it one more time (okay, I’ll probably do it next weekend too to make sure I have lunch and snack foods for school). While I’m out and about I am also going to see Crazy Rich Asians. Greg had some promotional movie money that needed to be used by the end of the month and suggested I find a movie to see. I wanted to see this one anyway, and this is the only day it really works well to go. So I’m starting with the movie – a perfect way to relax before I start really feeling this week’s pressure. Then maybe Chipotle for lunch! And then errands. It’ll be good to get that out of the way again before the week gets underway.

Monday is my last chance to take the boys to that Dolphin’s Cove swimming place. I think they’ve forgotten about it, so it’s not the end of the world if we miss it. But I feel bad because we plan to figure out how to swim there every summer and it has yet to happen even once. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t looking that great for tomorrow, so I’m guessing this isn’t going to happen. I had two game room/restaurant ideas, but neither place opens until 3, which still leaves us with the entire day to find something else. We’ll see. Caden has the third Lord of the Rings installment with Greg in the evening, so I don’t want to the day to be TOO too busy for him.

On Tuesday I’m planning to make sure all school related things are in order. I’m pretty sure their school supplies are all set and packed up, but I need to double check. I want to get my calendar updated, pre-order school pictures, and just go through all my paperwork. And in the afternoon Caden has his last therapy session with the current therapist.

Wednesday is school orientation! I’m excited to learn more about the middle school (now technically “the intermediate school”) and what changes Caden will be adjusting to this year. Hopefully there won’t be any surprises for Shepard, but we will be having a teacher that Caden didn’t go through, so there will be a bit of newness. I’m really hoping at Caden’s we’ll come across a few more of his friends that will be in his 4th grade class. So far I haven’t found a single kid that he’s been in class with the last four years who will have the same teacher as him. 🙁

Thursday I have my annual exam. Ick. Every year it gets pushed back a few extra weeks, so this is probably the last time I’ll ever have it in the summer when I need to bring the boys along with me. My mom always comes too and they hang out at a park while I’m at the doctor and then we all go out to lunch. So that’s the plan again – hopefully the weather is nice!

Friday is totally open and I’m hoping to keep it that way!

And Saturday we are probably going to Cedar Lake, depending on the weather. Lots of stuff going on!

My main intention for the week is to let go of all my brewing work stress and just remember this is my last week with the boys home and try to enjoy it. If I don’t even work an hour this week, IT WILL BE OKAY. I will more than make up for it next week. I should be celebrating the fact that I SURVIVED the last three months! Maybe I’ll let myself take an actual vacation this week – no sewing at all, on purpose. Maybe. 🙂 Probably not. But I’m not going to freak out about it. It’s also the end of the month, so I have my fun blog posts to write too. Doll making will have to go to the back burner, even though I’ve barely gotten anything done in August. Oh well. September WILL be better!

Happy last week of summer!

Friday Reflections 08.24.2018

I think it’s pretty safe to say that every week is a hard week right now. Not always for the same reasons, but this season of life can be pretty tough sometimes. And summer. Oh, summer. Just one more week.

I spent Monday trying to get a lot of things around the house back in order. I try not to let clutter and messiness bother me in summer when everyone is home. But the calendar days are creeping by and I’ve been getting really excited about setting up my fall candle fireplace, actually keeping rooms relatively clean most of the time, and finally having space to breathe. I know it’s really just a mental block that I need to get past, but I have the hardest time concentrating or being productive if anyone else is at home with me. I can’t wait to get back to my early morning quiet times, filling out my bullet journal regularly again, and being able to actually enjoy the decorative blankets and pillows staying in the places I put them for more than three minutes. 🙂

A good chunk of Monday morning was spent making a huge batch of mango curry. It’s kind of a labor intensive meal that I can’t make for dinner because of Greg’s mango allergy. So every fall I usually make a big batch and freeze a bunch of servings for my future lunches. I usually do it after school starts, but Caden loves mango, and soups, and spicy food, so I thought I’d make it early this year so he could have some too. I’m trying really hard to start caring about the meals I make again. I slacked off SO much this summer. Plus, we were just so busy! It’s hard to make healthy and wholesome meals when people are constantly running out and about. I plan to be much better come fall! This was my start.

Last week Shepard told me he really wanted to go to Mod Pizza before school started, so we planned a date for Monday night. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. I apparently keep going to restaurants on Monday nights, expecting that’s a quiet night for eating out. But I’m starting to think everyone thinks that and also goes out on Mondays!

We went to Orange Leaf for dessert. Greg and Caden went to Culver’s for dinner and then to the second Lord of the Rings installment. There ended up being some crazy rains and storms that flooded half of Madison that night. Fortunately, Shepard and I got home before the worst of it and the guys had almost no visibility, but made it home safely.

Tuesday we had the vet in the morning and the sucky day that followed (my last post). The cats are still relatively healthy. Jack lost another pound and is recommended to have more blood work done, though I’m not sure it’s an expense I want to take on right now. I couldn’t deal with giving them an answer while I was there, but we’ll see. Rory just lost a tiny bit more weight (they’re both still technically overweight) and has an infection in his foot, which he got two shots for. But overall, still very healthy and happy 13 year old boys!

I finished a batch of dolls on Tuesday. I went with a back to school theme and included a couple more book dolls. I was going to hold off to post those until mid September when the promotion happens, but I haven’t heard anything else about it lately, so I decided to just go ahead and list them. I need some sales!!

Then Wednesday – the longest day ever. So, Greg had surgery scheduled and needed to be at the hospital in Madison at 9:30. I asked my mom to get the boys by 8 and she was there early, Caden was still in a horrific mood and refused to get dressed, Shepard refused to stop watching a Minecraft video I never really gave him permission to watch in the first place. Everyone was on edge and stressed and upset. We finally got the boys on their way and then got ready to leave because we had to drop Greg’s car off at Toyota to get his recalled airbags replaced. Except we went outside and my car wouldn’t start. Because OF COURSE of all days, that was the day it would die. Just like two years ago when it randomly died on Caden’s birthday and I was stranded in the Dells after Cranberry Fest. We both tried to start it multiple times and ended up needing to just leave it, cancelling the airbag appointment, and taking Greg’s car to the hospital.

Everything with the surgery went well. It was just a long day. I was expecting to have the freedom to at least wander around the hospital while he was in surgery, but apparently they really want you to stay in the surgical waiting room. Back in college I worked in “the coffee shop” at Meriter and was hoping to have lunch there to see how things had changed and spied around to see if anybody I knew was still there. But I never had a chance to do anything more than get a coffee in the new actual coffee shop next to the waiting room. The receptionist kept telling me that things were progressing quickly and to stick around. I was called to the consultation room to talk to the doctor and then proceeded to wait another 45 minutes. I was told it would be a max of 15 minutes after that before I could go into see Greg, but it was another hour because he was too sleepy yet. I was glad to hear things went well with the surgery, but I was just so tense and couldn’t relax enough to do anything more than constantly scroll through my phone. I know it was not at all about me, it just wasn’t the way I had expected the whole thing to go. Plus I had the car problem at the back of my mind, trying to figure out how to handle that without getting Greg involved.

I was finally allowed to see him in recovery, but he was still super out of it, so we had awhile more to wait until he felt better about leaving. We got back home around 4 and I got Greg settled then immediately called AAA, hoping for a tow to the car repair place across town. Except when the guy showed up an hour later, he didn’t have a tow truck with him. All the tow trucks were on the other side of Madison helping with the flooded vehicles. Of course, the AAA guy (whose job is normally office work, but they didn’t have anyone else available to send) turned the key three times and it turned on. Just like that. He didn’t even get into my car or open the hood or anything. It just worked. So he left it running, I grabbed Annie, we drove it to the repair shop, and then I walked her back home. I took a five minute break at home and then went to Walgreen’s where I waited an hour for Greg’s prescription. And then we finished the day watching a movie. It was such a long day.

Thursday ended up feeling even more stressful because I was so worried about what was going on with my car. They called me early to ask how he had gotten it started and then I didn’t hear anything the rest of the day. I had hoped to spend the day working, but I couldn’t concentrate AT ALL. I also thought maybe I’d spend time watching tv or something with Greg, but he just wanted to play games and didn’t really seem to want me around. I finally went to Walmart in the afternoon to get some things, took Annie for another long walk, and we watched another movie. I was just so mad at myself for my inability to set things aside and just get to work. I have so little focus these days and I hate myself for it.

This morning Greg took pity on me and called the repair shop to see what was up. And…they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. So just like two years ago, they spent over a day turning it on and off and on and off and never had a problem. They also ran a bunch of diagnostic tests and everything was fine. So I got my car back and just get to go back to living in fear of the next time this happens. I was dreading a gigantic repair bill, but this is stressful in its own way.

Originally, we planned on going to a Verona dog park today with my mom. But, I think the park we wanted to go to was flooded. Or we’d at least be driving through the flooded areas to get there. Plus it was raining today anyway. So we compromised by having lunch at Ponderosa since we haven’t been there in so long together. It was nice! Then I took the boys back home and we’ve all kind of been doing our own thing since.

I guess the good news is that I survived this week! Greg did too. His recovery is going more smoothly than he had expected, which is good for all of us. I’ve been feeling a tiny bit overwhelmed suddenly taking over all responsibilities, but I have no right to complain after Greg took over everything for months after I broke my ankle. He’s a much more patient and giving caretaker than me.

Anyway, I guess that’s about it for the week!

Vignette of a Hard Day

Parenting is hard. Parenting an extremely emotional and behaviorally challenged child is sometimes debilitating.

These hard days aren’t new. They’re not a surprise. I’ve been having days like this multiple times a week for almost ten years now. And yet they still have the power to knock me down and question my ability to be a mom, every single time.

Let’s start with this morning. We were at the vet, for the cats’ annual checkup. Both cats are pretty subdued and cooperative, but Jack was vibrating with a low growl the entire time. Caden assumed the growl meant he was in pain and was getting really worried about him. He reached over to pet him about the same time they were going to give him his vaccinations and the nurse gently said, “Oh no, don’t touch his face right now, we don’t want him to bite you.” Caden immediately burst into tears. He went to the corner of the room, curled into a ball, and cried the remaining 15 minutes we were in the room.

I understand why the nurse asked him not to touch Jack, and she honestly was not in any way harsh about what she said. But it almost killed me to have him reprimanded for doing something kind and loving, when that’s a side I see so little of. He was heartbroken, thinking Jack was being hurt, and upset that he got scolded for genuinely trying to give him love. I tried to comfort him and help him understand, but he’s not the kind of kid who wants comfort.

Jump to this afternoon. The third day in a row with no neighborhood friends available to play. This summer has gone pretty great when friends are around. No friends, though, means they turn on each other. Caden does everything in his power to push Shepard’s buttons. In his personal space, making disgusting noises with his mouth, sitting on top of his head, touching his back and arms. It is completely predictable how he will behave the minute he gets bored. In turn, Shepard eventually responds with violence, screaming, or crying. And it goes on, and on, and on.

My children are the best of friends. They also have NO IDEA how to spend time apart from each other. They truly believe they have to spend every waking minute within two feet of each other, even if they’re fighting. After a break in fighting they come and ask me what to do because they’re bored. I list a bunch of jobs. They tell me no. I list ideas of things to play with. They tell me no. They go back to fighting with each other and then come back to beg for screen time, which they’ve already had too much of, because it’s the only time I can ever get any of my work done. They thrive on taking advantage of me and wearing me down to the point of exasperation. They take all of my “I don’t know’s” as yeses and go ahead with whatever they wanted to do. I lose battle after battle because I don’t have any energy left to fight.

When it seems they’re incapable of doing anything except wrestling and getting on each other’s nerves, I tell them to go take breaks in their rooms for awhile. After telling me no over and over and over again, they eventually go, but I can hear that they’re still in the same room. I decided to let it go today because I wanted to take a quick nap. I’ve had a terrible time sleeping these last two weeks and my regular school year afternoon naps are few and far between in summertime. I thought I could have twenty minutes of rest until they charged back down. I swear the second I closed my eyes they were in the same room as me again. Wrestling on the dog bed across the room. Whispering, loudly, fully intending to keep me awake, but under the guise of “trying to be quiet.” I gave up on sleep, again. I yelled at them to find something to do. Caden responded by getting in my face and trying to push MY buttons, bored with pushing Shepard’s.

And then an entire afternoon of him being so dang proud of himself for getting under my skin. Me knowing full well he was pushing and still responding anyway. I tried to keep my cool. I always try. I’m onto him, always. But I can’t always be the bigger man. He wouldn’t go to his room for time outs. He kept babytalk begging me to play games, even though he knew I already took everything away. He kept pushing the doorbell over and over again because he knew I was trying to watch a show while I worked. When I yelled at him and couldn’t think of the word for doorbell he laughed and made fun of me. I chased him to the stairs. He went halfway up and refused to move. I gave up and went back to my computer, deciding ignoring him was the better option. While he was messing around he somehow tripped and fell down half the staircase, hurting his knee. I walked over to make sure nothing looked broken and then I walked away. I am a terrible mom because all I can think about is how if he would JUST LISTEN we would never be in these situations.

The afternoon continued with more of the same. I kept up my new ignoring tactic and he got even more in my face. I went upstairs to empty garbages and he got out a toy gun he got at the fair last week. He held it to my head and pulled the trigger. I ripped it out of his hands and threw it in the garbage bag I was holding. That is apparently what “broke him.” He ran to his room, slammed the door a few times, and cried.

I don’t want to have to get to the point of breaking him. Yet somehow, after literally hours of this behavior, I have to be a tiny bit relieved that it’s finally over. I broke him so he would stop breaking me. Because he did and he does. Today I was defeated. But believe me, I felt no triumph over my eventual win. These power struggles are so old. And so soul wrenching.

These are my days. Parenting is hard. Summer is SO hard. I’ve given it my absolute best effort, but I’m done. Just two more weeks. I hope we can all survive it.