Weekend Reflections and Intentions 11.18.2018

The weekend is already almost over! They usually seem to drag on and on around here, but this one went mighty fast. This whole week has been fast as November zooms on by. It wasn’t a particularly exciting week, but I did have a few interesting things to share.

I wrote about it a little in my last post, but on Monday I made the official decision to stop counting calories. It seems to be going pretty well overall. I’m down 7.2 lbs since I started trying about three and a half weeks ago. Progress has definitely been slower after the initial two weeks, but most days the scale is still going down tiny bit by tiny bit, so I must be doing okay with keeping myself in check. I’ve had a few lapses (see my restaurant dinner below!), but nothing I felt I had to beat myself up over either. My biggest problems continue to be feeling like I’m starving to death while surrounded by my biggest temptations when I’m out of the house and running errands for long periods of time. I know there are definitely things I can do to try and avoid that happening, but it’s still pretty rough. That’s when I get crabbiest. But just general meals every day have been going pretty well. I’m trying to keep my portions in check and avoid excess snacking and only have one (or none) very small dessert a day. I’m hoping if I continue to focus on what my body actually needs and make my decisions based on what will make me FEEL better, I’ll continue to lose weight and get healthier.

That being said, I did plan a Qdoba lunch for myself after running errands on Monday morning. I even got nachos, which are probably about the least healthy thing you could get there! But I avoided all the temptation filled aisles at the stores, ate a very low calorie breakfast, and planned a light dinner to compensate treating myself at lunch. And the next day the scale dropped some more! It helps to know that I don’t need to deprive myself ALL the time. I just need to not eat like that every single day!

Okay, enough weight loss stuff! Monday was just a super active day with errand running and doing things around the house. Then both of the boys’ evening activities were cancelled due to teacher illness, so we ended up having a quiet night in.

On Tuesday morning I took Annie to the dog park. We were the only ones there, but she was having the time of her life! Just nonstop running as fast as she could the entire time we were there. It brings me so much joy to see her so happy and in her element! I love going on walks because it gets ME more exercise, but letting her just run and play unrestrained is the best. I even decided to do a little hiking around on my own, walking laps around the park. The dog owners often do that, but it’s been quite a struggle for me since I broke my ankle. All the uneven ground and big hills. I was definitely sore on Wednesday because of it, but I was proud of myself for making the effort!

On Tuesday night I had my date with Caden! We went to The Mineshaft in Hartford. It was about a 40 minute drive, but I think it was worth it. 🙂 We settled on sharing a giant soft pretzel and an appetizer platter with chicken tenders, haystack onions, and mozzarella sticks. I really should have made a better choice with the mega platter of fried food, but the pretzel was AMAZING. I will definitely be back someday to get another pretzel. Best I’ve ever had. The spicy cheese sauce that came with it was also fantastic.

The reason I picked this restaurant was because they have a huge arcade on the second floor. So after a really nice meal in which Caden shared more about his school life (which he NEVER talks about at home), we went up and bought ten dollars worth of game tokens. I assumed he’d want to play more than that, but he was pretty content to just use it up and then be done. He asked me to play a Pac Man battle game with him and he used the rest on his own. When we were picking out prizes with all the tickets he won, his first thought was to decide on what he should get Shepard. I love when that sweeter side comes out. It really was a great night and I hope I can follow through with making this happen every month. Or at the very least, every other month.

I went back to the dog park on Wednesday morning and Annie had the greatest time wrestling with a dog we hadn’t met before. They were so evenly matched for playtime. I just stood there and laughed at them for a solid half hour. I spent the rest of the day just working.

Thursday I was supposed to be working and I ended up spending a huge chunk of time working on Christmas present shopping and doing other things online. This is why I try to get my shopping done in November – it’s such a distraction to me! We have so many people to buy for and it just weighs on me until I get it done. I LOVE getting presents, but having such an overload all at one holiday is a bit overwhelming. I’ve made a ton of progress in the last few days, though!

We had an at home date night Thursday evening. It was pretty lame. Like super lame. Next week when we’re back to normal schedule, I’m insisting on a real date out of the house. Hold me to that!

On Friday morning I FINALLY finished up those custom order dolls and shipped them out. I can’t believe it took me all week. I also finished up this single doll that’s still available for sale! 🙂 I LOVE this huge size doll. But I can’t make them often because people don’t usually want to spend that much money on one.

Right after I finished the dolls, my mom came over for coffee! I wanted to show her my french press and aeropress and share some of my favorite Bones brand coffee with her. We hung out and had our coffee and then went on a mini shopping morning. The apple orchard I like to go to was having a holiday craft fair, so we stopped at that first. Then checked out two local stores we don’t get to often. It was a really fun morning! Exactly what I needed after a somewhat stressful couple of days.

Friday night I gave myself a real break! I had a pile of books, two of my babes, all the candles lit, and read in my chair. It was so wonderful. I want every night to be like that. Every night WILL be light that starting next week when the Christmas tree is up in the place of where that little chair is!

Saturday morning was pretty lazy. Then in the afternoon we were invited to a friend’s board game party. The four of us went over. I just hung out, but Greg had an awesome time playing games well into the evening. Caden and I left late afternoon because I had some things I needed to get done around the house, but Shepard and Greg stayed until bedtime. It was nice to be invited to something and have some unique social time.

Today has been pretty laid back too. Greg worked on Caden’s room for awhile (I cleaned Shepard’s room last weekend). I went to the dog park again – Sunday mornings are usually pretty busy which is a nice change from the weekdays when we rarely run into another dog. Then I took a nice nap and we headed over to the in-law’s house for dinner. Cindy and I ran over to the local candle outlet first and I bought yet another candle. I seriously have an addiction this fall. I want candles lit ALL THE TIME. Cozy overload. And now we just got home, had some shower battles with the boys (showering is apparently THE WORST), and now Shepard and I are ready for some Great British Baking Show before he heads to bed.

Sunday Intentions

My main intention for the week is to just go with the flow, don’t put too much pressure on myself for production, and enjoy family and friend time. I’m definitely a little bit stressed out with how few Christmas dolls I’ve made so far and would love to knock out a batch this week. But realistically I know it’s probably not going to happen. And I just have to be okay with that.

Monday will be errand running, as usual. I still haven’t made my grocery list or even made a final decision on my Thanksgiving desserts. I’m sure that’ll take most of the morning and then I’ll take my usual nap and make a fast dinner between the boys’ activities. Hopefully I can at least start a doll batch at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday will hopefully be a full work day. No other plans.

Wednesday is just a half day of school, which will zip by. I want to make my Thanksgiving desserts right away in the morning to get that done. Then in the evening Dianne and Jack are in town, so we’re going out to dinner while the boys and Annie spend some time with my mom. That’ll be a fun night!

And Thursday is Thanksgiving! I’m hoping to go on a long walk and/or take Annie to the dog park for a long time in the morning to burn some calories and energy. She’s coming along with us on Thanksgiving this year, if I feel like she’ll be calm enough in a new house! We’ll head over to Greg’s parents’ midday and enjoy Thanksgiving! My parents and brother will be joining us over there so we only have to eat once. I really enjoy this tradition we started a few years ago making the day a bit less chaotic (and food stuffed) for the four of us.

And I’m really looking forward to decorating our trees on Friday! We have the local Christmas parade in the evening. Probably more decorating on Saturday and my goddaughter’s birthday party in the evening. All in all, it should be a really enjoyable week that I am definitely looking forward to.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mid-Month Check In

One of my top goals for the month was to challenge myself to write something every day. I thought that the challenge would inspire me and actually get my creative juices flowing because I had permission to write before and above all else every single day this month. Usually, writing is pushed aside, even though it’s the thing I want to do the most. But when I’ve been giving myself the chance to make it a top priority? I suddenly have nothing to say.

The biggest struggle has been actually putting it first. I keep assuming that if I wait until evening I will have thought of something amazing to talk about by then. Instead I’m exhausted, my brain hurts, and writing is really the last thing in the world I feel like doing. I’m also highly distracted by the fifty other things I hadn’t gotten to yet that day and hope to squeeze in before bedtime. Writing under those circumstances is not enjoyable or affirming. It’s just another task on my to do list.

Overall, I’ve found myself just about as dissatisfied with life as I was in October, when I basically took most of the month off from work, thinking that was the source of my anxiety. And it really is still a pretty large contributing factor. I just do not feel like I’m producing enough and I can’t understand why. I guess if pressed for a solid reason, the answer is probably that I used to spend every waking minute sewing. I’d easily sew 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. Aiming for more balance in my life, now I’m lucky to get in 5 hours a day and I try pretty hard not to work much on weekends. I think it’s better to live this way, but it doesn’t change the fact that I used to make maybe 20 or more dolls a week and right now I’m struggling to even get a handful done. Last week I made six. This week it appears I’m making four. And most of those ten were custom orders – which is obviously still money in my pocket, but it leaves a huge amount of customers anxious and waiting for Christmas dolls that should have arrived in the shop by now and haven’t. It makes me wish I hadn’t worked so hard all those years (when it didn’t feel like work because I genuinely loved giving all of my time to it) because I set myself up with unrealistic expectations for how much I can produce in a week, now that I’m trying to find more balance in my life with everything else going on.

Another source of frustration is my lack of making self care a priority. I wrote about this last week, but I’m doing a pretty poor job of living that way myself. At night when I fill in all the tracking boxes in my bullet journal, I have a box for self care. I sit there for a minute and think back on my day and try to decide if at any point during it I put some area of my health or happiness before a mundane task or chore and the answer is almost always no. I have not been prioritizing myself and my enthusiasm for life has clearly been lacking. This isn’t the kind of life I want to live, but again and again and again it just keeps coming back to my stupid to do list and everything I SHOULD be getting done, yet no matter how hard I try I never feel like I’m doing enough. And how do you fit in a break for self care when there are six loads of laundry waiting to be folded, a pile of dishes at the counter, and you know you haven’t had a solid conversation with your husband in a week? I KNOW everything would feel better if I took the necessary time to feed my own soul first, but in practice it is so incredibly hard to do.

This whole weight loss ordeal has also been getting me down. I was using the Lose It app for a couple of days after I cancelled Noom. And I did really like it. It made calorie counting more fun because it attached little images to everything you ate during the day, and it gave me a more manageable amount of calories to strive for while still telling me I’d lose weight. But the actual act of counting – and more importantly, just needing to THINK about counting every minute of every day was making me so distressed and angry. This is why I hate actively trying to lose weight. It takes over your entire life and whether you want to or not, you’re forced to think about it with every decision you make during the day. Or it’s at least that way for people like me who work at home and have constant access to food and no one to witness me eating day in and day out. The stress of counting everything and feeling like I had to starve myself in the morning when I’m most hungry to try and save calories for dinner when I clearly would still want to eat the dinner I was making for my family was making me absolutely miserable. So…I stopped. It might be temporary, depending on how this week shapes up. Maybe I need that accountability even if it feels like it’s ruining my life. But I’d like to think that I’ve been learning enough after a few weeks of tracking, and because this is the first time I’ve genuinely wanted to live a healthier life, that I’ll continue to make better choices. And even if the weight doesn’t drip off, I’ll at least FEEL better. And while I don’t want to be defined by the number on the scale (more than a number!), I am continuing to weigh in every morning so I can keep myself in check and evaluate what I did right or wrong the day before and continue to improve how I take care of myself physically.

There are a number of other factors that have been contributing to my general malaise this month. I’ve had almost no connecting time with Greg. I think we need a real date, or something, but we’ve just been so busy. We’ve also been dealing with an onslaught of ten year old attitude problems. And “attitude problems” is putting it mildly, believe me. It’s hard to muster up much joy when every single night is hour after hour of battling and everyone just wanting to escape to their own corners of the house to just not have to deal with any of it anymore. Family time is supposed to be those sacred hours when you’re all together and you’re all made better for it. I feel like family time in our house just brings out the worst of us all. And I don’t know how to change that. The truth is that I’m often not even part of it because I’m still dealing with my stupid neverending to do lists every night. I’ve been trying to get the boys to help out more because hey, I wouldn’t have to work so hard if I had help. I don’t want to ask Greg for more help because he already works so hard during the day for us and then he spends every possible minute trying to keep the boys happy at night, at the sacrifice of never, ever having a minute to himself. But it makes sense that at ages 10 and 7, our children should seriously be held more accountable to help out around the house. They’re part of the family too. But at the mere mention of doing something unpleasant they retaliate in extreme anger and I usually just give up. Which leaves them resentful of me for even asking, me resentful of them for never helping out and putting everything on me even though I’m at least supposed to be working ON WORK all day too. And then it comes back to me being exhausted from to do list items and having nothing left to give Greg and him being exhausted from sassy and angry children to have anything left for me.

Anyway! I didn’t mean to ramble on quite so much and sound quite so depressing! To be honest, last week was just pretty sad because of those two trips I thought I was going to get to take next year and now neither of them are happening. I was also taking this all natural mood enhancing vitamin thing that I found at Costco, figuring it couldn’t hurt, right? Well, I think it did. I stopped taking it this week and I feel so much better about everything. I’m also going to release myself from my writing daily challenge and just write when the mood strikes. If I have something to say then I still have full permission to make it my highest priority of the day. But it’s no longer a requirement. What should be a requirement, though – SELF CARE. I think I should require myself to do something joyful and lifegiving every single day, no matter what. Ideally that will happen in the evenings when still working on household chores starts to really grate on me.

As for work, it still needs to happen. I still need to make those dolls. But maybe I need to set better boundaries for myself to help limit my anger over never feeling like I’m producing enough. I usually take it day by day and just work as much as I can in between doing everything else. But maybe I need to get better about setting nonnegotiable hours where I will do or think about nothing else except sewing. I’d probably get more done just by avoiding all the multi-tasking. I’ll have to think on this one.

I’m hoping the second half of the month will be much happier than the first half. It’s exciting that Thanksgiving is already next week with Christmas just around the corner! I’ve been having so much fun working on my holiday shopping and hope to make a pretty great dent in my lists by the end of November. There is a lot to look forward to and I think now that I’m starting to shake that funk I’ve been in for the last few months, I can finally start turning things around.

Sunday Intentions 11.11.2018

I keep saying it and then a million things come up, but I think this just might be the week when life actually slows down a tiny bit. There’s not much on the calendar! I hope I can use that to my advantage and finally make some headway on a few projects.

I was hoping to go see Bohemian Rhapsody tomorrow morning as a treat to myself after all the crap of last week, but I just noticed that they no longer have any daytime showings, even though it just came out like a week ago. So that’s annoying! Maybe something else new and exciting will come out in the next few weeks, or I can fit a nighttime showing in sometime.

So I’ll stick with running errands on Monday morning and then the usual after school activities with a fast and easy dinner in between. I’m also hoping to work on organizing our back door area where everyone just dumps all their backpacks and coats and boots and shoes. It looks AWFUL right now. I wanted to do it today, but ended up cleaning Shepard’s room instead. I think it’ll be easier to do all the coat stuff when I’m home alone.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I’m hoping to just keep my head down and WORK. I feel so incredibly behind. It’s already halfway through November and I’ve made a whopping three Christmas dolls. I still have those complicated custom orders I need to take care of first. I’m not sure why my productivity has gone down so much in the last few months when the opposite should be happening. But I need to tune out everything else and just GET STUFF DONE. No excuses this week.

Tuesday night I’m planning to go on my date with Caden. In an attempt to go somewhere new and show him that I can care about the kinds of things he likes to do, I think we’re going to go to The Mineshaft in Hartford. The menu looks great, but they also have a big arcade room. I remember going there a few times as a kid and it’s one of the places I kind of wanted to take the boys all summer, but never got around to. So this is the time to check it out.

Thursday night is our regular date night. It’d be nice to get out of the house this week, but since I’m already going out on Tuesday and Greg has a lunch date with a friend on Friday, this might not be the week for it. We’ll see. We could really use a real date, though. It’s been an extra rough couple of parenting weeks.

On Friday I’m contemplating going to a holiday craft sale at my favorite apple orchard. We’ll see how far I am on dolls by that point. It’s probably not worth taking a big chunk out of my morning, but maybe I’ll want the break.

And so far no plans next weekend! I think it’ll be a good week to just hunker down and get as much done as I can so I can enjoy baking and Thanksgiving festivities next week.

Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday Reflections 11.10.2018

Well, time to reflect on this rollercoaster of a week. Honestly, it was kind of a really crappy and disappointing week. But there were definitely some high points so this post won’t be a total bummer. 🙂

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to talk about it yet in last weekend’s post since it wasn’t officially announced, but the reason we were in Chicago last Sunday was to celebrate my sister-in-law Melissa becoming engaged to Andrew! He proposed on Saturday and then threw her a huge surprise party to celebrate. It was adults only, so we weren’t able to go, but we met the rest of the family down there on Sunday for a really nice brunch and then some hanging out time at their apartment. We’re all so happy to have Andrew officially becoming part of the family!

There was no school on Monday because it was the end of the quarter. Originally I wanted to take the boys and Annie to the Verona dog park, but we had just spent six hours driving in the car on Sunday, and another long drive was about the last thing I felt like doing. I still wanted to take advantage of the day rather than just sitting at home, so with the bribe of frappuccinos, we managed to get to Woodman’s, Target, Costco, and Marshall’s all before lunchtime! The boys were actually really good too! It was exhausting, but no fights or whining the entire morning. Miraculous.

At noon on Monday the tickets for Rachel Hollis’ one and only personal growth conference were supposed to go on sale. I’ve become a huge Rachel Hollis fan since reading her book and listening to her podcast and I really enjoyed seeing the documentary they made from their conference last year. When I heard her 2019 conference was scheduled to take place in Minneapolis I was SO excited that it was within driving distance and totally planned on going. Unfortunately, the Hollis Co. ended up putting those tickets on sale at 11:40, while I was still making lunches. By noon when I got on my computer, it was sold out. 3400 tickets instantly gone. They were of course psyched, but it was hugely disappointing for all the people that didn’t get tickets, especially because they went on sale earlier than we were told. To try and make up for it, they immediately said they would have another conference in July, place TBD. I feel like the chances of this second conference also being within driving distance are pretty slim, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to go to that one either. It’s a huge bummer.

Tuesday was a big work day. In a moment of insanity, I decided to open up the option of custom orders. I’m anxious to get going on Christmas dolls, but I often have a lot of people asking me for custom orders in December which is when I absolutely am not interested in doing them. I figured I’d give people one last chance – and have the solid proof that I offered it! Anyway, not many people took me up on it, but two of the people that did made it SOOOOOOO complicated. I basically spent the entire day Tuesday and Wednesday emailing back and forth with these ladies, digging out pile after pile of fabric, photographing everything to get approval and then having them change their mind an hour later. It was super stressful. Every once in awhile making custom orders is an awesome challenge, but for the most part….I just really don’t like it.

Meanwhile, I spent all of Tuesday agonizing over whether or not I should continue with Noom. My 14 day free trial was ending on Wednesday and on Thursday I was going to get $150 for six months of the program taken out of my account. I had this information in my original sign up email from them – November EIGHTH. Desperately trying to make a decision when the pros and cons seemed to keep canceling each other out, I started reading reviews online. Almost every single review was 1 star. Mostly because of how unfairly Noom automatically deducts money from your account once they have access and they refuse to refund you and they make it impossible to get in contact with a real person. One review told how to check your settings to see when your next billing cycle was going to go through. I decided to do that and guess what? They were going to take that $150 off out on November SEVENTH. A day earlier than they said they would, before the trial was officially over. And that seriously pissed me off, so I cancelled immediately. I had a few other reasons, but the main one being that if they’re that shady about their financial practices, then they don’t deserve my money.

Anyway, I was relieved to have finally made a decision after going back and forth on it a million times in the last two weeks. But then it left me with nothing to keep accountable and stay motivated. At the recommendation of some other people online I ended up getting the free app Lose It on Thursday. Unfortunately, after a 6 lb weight loss in the first 12 days, I’ve just gone back up since then. I’m feeling pretty discouraged with all of it. And hungry. And desperately wanting carbs all the time.

On Wednesday I got distracted doing online Christmas shopping. I’m definitely making progress toward my goal of getting 75% done this month! There are a few people I don’t have anything for yet, or any ideas, but most people on my list are getting close to done! Once I spent the morning working on that, I just worked on dolls the rest of the day.

We had an at home date night and I made a tasty pizza. It was pretty uneventful, we just ate and watched some tv. Late at night, though, the one good trip related thing that happened this week – Greg’s parents booked a trip to Universal Studios in Florida for the six of us in February! It’s a Christmas gift/surprise for the boys, so don’t mention it! But it should be really fun. We’re going to be there over Shepard’s birthday because it happens to be the only break they have from school this winter/spring.

Thursday I did the #onedayhh challenge. No need to go over that again. You can read the post if you’re interested!

We woke up to snow on Friday morning. As usual, we were not prepared for it! Spent the early morning digging through winter things and realizing that nobody’s coats or boots fit anymore. We made do and sent the boys off to school. I spent the morning working on the first round of custom dolls.

At 11:00, tickets were going on sale for another trip I was planning on taking. It’s a craft retreat for women at The Whatever Craft House in Newton, Kansas. I first heard about the craft house last year when a TON of people I follow on social media had a retreat there. It’s this incredible rainbow colored house filled to the brim with gorgeous arrays of art supplies and rainbow decorations and beautiful bedrooms with colorful vintage quilts. I’ve been hearing about the house and these particular retreats done by a fellow maker and how amazing they are. When I found out about one happening in January, another Wisconsin maker contacted me and asked if I wanted to go with her and we could carpool. I jumped at the chance, we worked out the simplified plan, and just waited for the tickets to go on sale! I assumed it would also sell out immediately, so I was on my computer constantly refreshing and purchased my spot the second I had the chance.

And that’s when everything went downhill. Again. I immediately told my friend I got a ticket and she told me that’s great, and that it’s too bad she’s busy that weekend. What?! Apparently she had a conflict and just never thought twice about telling me. I of course blame myself for not actually confirming with her again this week that we were doing this, but it was still really frustrating. It’s not like we know each other well – just talk at Cranberry Fest every year and occasionally on social media in between. I’m a pretty forgettable person, so no surprise she apparently forgot we had planned to do this together. It was just really, really frustrating and disappointing.

I spent the rest of the day just overwhelmed and stressed out and trying to figure out how I could make a 10+ hour drive by myself IN JANUARY, twice in four days. I don’t even like driving for two straight hours and have never come close to 10! Plus it’s pretty much guaranteed I’d have to leave the night before and get a hotel in order to get to the retreat early enough. Same on the way back, unless I drove late into the night which is a terrible idea for me. Plus it’s January, in Wisconsin, and the weather could be horrendous. I looked into flights, but there were no direct flights from any airlines and nothing less than $400. And I’d still face the conundrum of getting from the airport to the house, which would be another expense. Once Greg realized I’d be going by myself he was instantly against the trip as well. It just didn’t seem like there was any way to make this happen, without spending a ton of extra money. The only reason I could go on the trip in the first place was because the retreat itself was such a great deal. (3 nights, all meals but two, supplies for six group craft projects, and a bag of awesome things crafters around the country donate for swag, all for $500.)

After agonizing – again, theme of the week here – all day and night, I spoke to the retreat leader and explained the situation and asked if there was any way I could cancel my spot. She asked if I’d like to wait for awhile and see if anyone else from WI ends up signing up (still spots left). I told her I’d wait through the weekend, but after thinking about it again all day, I just wrote and asked her to cancel. I can’t go. And it really sucks. So…I don’t have my money back yet, so it’s not official, but 99% sure this trip is not happening either.

Anyway. In happier news. Last night I went to the annual Peddler’s Barn Christmas sale with my mom and Cindy. We go each year and true to form, it was FREEZING last night. It was also packed. I ended up with a full bag of fun doll accessories that I haven’t yet taken out since getting home, but I’ll try to take a photo tomorrow!

And today I spent the entire day early Christmas shopping with Cindy! We went all over the place – mostly our favorites: TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Home Goods, and Trader Joe’s! With a quick lunch at a place called Zoup. It was really tiring, but we found some great stuff! It was awesome to make some headway on all my stocking stuffers.

And that’s been the week! I’m hoping next week is a lot less mentally tumultuous. I need a rest.

ONEDAYHH 2018

Yesterday was the second year I participated in Laura Tremaine’s #onedayhh social media challenge. It’s an instagram movement for people all over the world to post random snippets of their day, on the same day of the year. I love this challenge because it’s not about being fancy or trying to glamourize your life. Rather it’s about sharing in the mundane, the boring, the everyday moments that are similar yet unique to us all.

To be honest, my day of sharing this year felt incredibly chaotic. It was definitely a pretty typical day for me, but I also didn’t feel like I had a moment of downtime to go photos of other people using the hashtag, which is kind of the whole point! Then again, that’s pretty telling of my life in general lately. On Laura’s final photo last night she commented on how documenting the day really made it clear how many things she’s trying to juggle at full capacity every single day and not doing the greatest job at it. I definitely feel the same way, but don’t really know what to do about it. It’s so hard trying to do everything. It’s hard working at home and not being constantly distracted by the zillion other things that are always going on and always need to be taken care of too. I can so relate to that neverending struggle.

Anyway, in case you were not following along on my instagram or facebook page yesterday, here was my day!

5:03 am – Daylight savings has really messed me up this week. I am on such a strict internal clock that it’s nearly impossible for me to sleep beyond 5 anyway, and this week it’s been closer to 4 each day. Yesterday it was about 4:45, so I’m getting there!

5:30 am – Showered and ready for my morning quiet time. Jack is always waiting for me. He really wants me to open the french doors so he can run upstairs and wake everyone up. But he settles for meowing at me and trying to sit on my lap or get me to pet him, all while pretending he doesn’t actually want the attention. Anyway, I have a plethora of devotional books I choose from each morning, usually reading from two, and then I finish planning out my day in my bullet journal.

5:53 am – As a rule, I try not to work this early in the morning. But I had some custom orders I really wanted to finish and knew it was going to be a busy day, so I tried to make a bit of progress. Most mornings I try to focus on doing something positive and lifegiving FOR MYSELF until 6:30 when it’s time to start mommy duties.

6:12 am – I brought up the space heater the other day because I’m freezing all day long. (Greg is NOT happy about this. I don’t know why it’s okay to run ceiling fans and extra fans in every room of the house all summer long, but one space heater in one room during winter is so sternly frowned upon…) The boys like to fight over it. Because they like to fight over everything.

6:36 am – Trying to put together a wooden golden snitch. They received these wooden building kits last Christmas and just rediscovered them in their rooms. They’re definitely pretty tricky for kids to do. Especially kids with zero patience.

6:42 am – Packing lunches, making breakfasts. Two things I despise doing in the morning, but there’s no way around it!

7:24 am – On our way to school after digging through the basement trying to find appropriately sized hats and mittens (Caden is still wearing mine anyway). Most mornings I try to go on an extra walk with Annie after the boys are at their schools, but it was so cold yesterday and I had so much to do, so I headed straight back home.

7:56 am – Finally time for breakfast. I try to hold off on eating until after the boys are at school, so I have time to actually make something, sit down, and enjoy it. If I try to eat earlier I end up scarfing down something I shouldn’t, just for the sake of staving off my hunger. Yesterday’s breakfast was particularly hard because I’m getting really sick of the limited number of things I’ve been allowing myself to choose from each day. The boys have been eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfasts and it is KILLING me not to have one too. Donuts, pastries, muffins, etc – I’m fine without those. But a savory bagel with jalapeno cream cheese?? Oatmeal, even with the toppings, does not compare.

9:16 am – Getting in an hour or two of work on my first Christmas dolls of the season. I had hoped to have a lot done this week, but I made the mistake of opening the shop up to custom orders and ended up with a couple that were all extremely complicated and time consuming to arrange, so it reallllly slowed me down this week.

10:46 am – Swinging by the post office to mail some dolls. It’s been a pretty good week for sales!

11:04am – I stopped in at the Christmas open house of Twisted Sister, one of my favorite shops, even though I rarely find things I want to buy anymore. This trip I found a large vintage plastic deer I plan to put with a big doll and a 1950’s puzzle of the United States that I’m going to take apart to make a huge batch of state themed dolls.

11:45 am – I stopped in at Kohls to return something and ended up standing in the boys section for ages trying to find Caden some new pants and pajamas. They always have such a tiny selection of the things I actually need that I wasn’t very successful.

12:55 pm – After a stop at Aldi, finally got back home and threw together a lunch of leftovers. It was just a rough day food wise. I’ve never wanted to get fast food so badly, but I’m trying so hard to stick to my goal this month of never getting food out and about unless I carefully planned it out. Which I did not. Most days I’m ready to eat lunch at 10, so pushing myself until 1 and being that desperately hungry was just a recipe for not liking whatever I was going to make myself.

1:08 pm – Nap time with Rory. This is when it started to feel like I was losing control of the day because I try to read and nap closer to noon, so I have more time in the afternoon to get more done. I only read for a few minutes and had a fast and restless nap.

2:15 pm – These three love to fight over who gets to sleep by me. Generally Annie rarely comes upstairs, but ever since I got back from DC she’s sticking pretty close to my side. There’s an understanding that nap time is when the CATS get Mommy time, but every once in awhile Annie thinks it’s great fun to jump up on the bed and get everyone riled up. The cats have also been fighting with each other lately because they don’t think there’s enough room for both of them.

2:29 pm – Coffee time. Went with a fancier mocha this time.

3:14 pm – The mail has been coming later in the day making it a lot harder for me to hide my packages before everyone comes! Can you tell I’ve been doing some Christmas shopping this week!? Though to be fair, both of those huge Target boxes only had one thing in them with a ton of plastic bubble fillers.

3:33 pm – Trying to get dinner put together. Should have done it a couple hours earlier to make it actually hot enough to eat by 5! I usually try and do a lot of dinner prep right after school, earning myself a bit more time to do something I want to do in the half hour before it’s time to cook and eat. Somehow that feels much more rewarding and efficient to me.

3:37 pm – Trying to cook more healthified breakfasts and lunches means making a much bigger mess all day long. Also try to get that done before dinnertime when it all gets piled back up again.

3:54 pm – Spending a tiny bit of time with Annie outside watching the boys play kickball. They were getting along really well yesterday!

4:19 pm – See, I had time to fit in something I wanted to do! Took a break to read the last chapter of my 100th book of the year! Probably the most exciting thing to happen yesterday, as I have a 100 book challenge for myself every year. Unfortunately, this is one of my lowest rated books of the year – I did not like it.

5:14 pm – Chicken tortilla soup for dinner. I blew my healthy eating for the day by having way too many fried tortilla strips. They’re just so dang good.

5:48 pm – Literacy Night at school.

6:29 pm – Trying to get these crazy kids to leave. Shepard pouted the whole way home because he was having so much fun and didn’t want to go.

6:47 pm – I didn’t think I’d get even close to my step goal for the day, but then we walked to and from school for Literacy Night and I only had 1400 steps to go, so I grabbed Annie and we hit that 10K.

7:22 pm – About the time I decide I absolutely cannot be productive anymore for the day, so I settled into my chair for twenty minutes of my 101st book. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. My book club always has so many rave reviews for it.

8:42 pm – Settling in for our nightly tv time. We finished the first episode of that new Sabrina netflix show and were both pretty meh on it. Then we started the other new netflix show, Bodyguard. Possibly better, once we wrap our minds around that thick accent.

9:45 pm – A bit later than usual, calling it a day. I read about ten minutes and went to sleep. Overall – fun to document everything, but also kind of wish this wasn’t such an accurate representation of my life right now. Always running from one thing to the next, never having time to solidly sit down and get anything done. I wish I could say things would slow down soon, but I thought November would be that slow season and every week just brings more and more new things to the calendar. It’s exhausting!

Self Care Practices

I am a big believer in self care. I know that if I don’t do something for myself on a daily basis, everything in my life starts to go downhill fast. When I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed or sad, I try to actually stop and think about what I need in that moment to lift me back up. Or if I can’t stop what I’m doing, I plan out something maybe more elaborate or time consuming that I can do for myself as soon as possible.

I define self care as doing anything that brings your soul joy. It doesn’t have to have any purpose other than it makes you happy. I feel like sometimes self care is seen as being overly indulgent or selfish or something that only spoiled people can have. And that’s just not true. Self care is loving yourself so you have love to give to others. Self care is giving yourself treats and pockets of time with no agenda other than to boost you up with joy and happiness. Self care is living your best life so that you have a longer life to live. It is vitally important and worthy of your time. YOU are worth taking care of.

The activities you choose to take care of yourself are different for each person. But I have a list of things that work for me that I thought I’d share today.

READ

Reading is always my go to because it can happen anywhere at any time and is virtually free. It’s the reason I wanted a huge cozy reading chair so badly for most of my adult life. I created a small oasis with the sole purpose of providing me a comfortable spot to relax and read. I also have books in just about every room of my house, started and bookmarked, just waiting for me to pick back up. Reading is an amazing escape and with the right genre at the right time, it can be the best pick me up. YA and romance are my favorites when I need a real mood booster.

WRITE

I know it’s not for everyone, but I can’t go a day without writing. Generally it’s in the form of an email (or two) to my best friend, but I’m trying to start shifting more of that energy into something more creative. When I’m extremely stressed out or irritated, nothing will cool me down faster than to sit down and just brain dump on the page. Writing is incredibly cathartic when I’m down and energizing when I need a lift. If you feel like you have a lot to say and nobody really to say it to – just write it down! It helps, I promise.

TV OR MOVIE AT A SPECIAL TIME

Nothing feels more special and indulgent than going to the movie theater in the middle of the day or sitting down to watch your favorite tv show at a time you wouldn’t normally watch it. I LOVE going to the theater by myself on a random Tuesday morning. It feels like such an escape from reality. Ideally I’d like to work this into my schedule once a month just because it’s such a treat. I also love saving my absolute favorite show (The Resident) to watch while I eat lunch – with NO sewing in front of me. This is pretty rare because it’s soooo hard to justify watching tv without multitasking. But when I do, it feels amazing. I also adore having a special movie night to myself, but Greg is only gone at night like two times a year, so that’s extremely rare for me. But I definitely make it happen on those super rare occasions I have the living room to myself in an evening!

BE CREATIVE

Since my entire life revolves around creative pursuits right now, I don’t turn to this option often. But it’s out there! It’s fun to try a new craft project, start something special for yourself or as a gift, or do a project you’ve been wanting to work on forever and never seem to find the time for. It’s so affirming to make something by hand from start to finish.

GO FOR A WALK

After breaking my ankle and not being able to walk for three months and then having four more really tough walking months, it’s been hard for me to shift my thinking and see this as a way of self care. But I’m really getting there. I’m slightly in panic mode about it because I know once the snow and ice come, there is no way I’m walking outside any more than I absolutely have to – I never, ever want to break a bone again. But at the moment, I’m trying to go on extra walks with Annie in the evenings just because I genuinely want to. It’s a good stress reliever after which is oftentimes a stressful dinner hour with super whiny kids.

GO TO THE DOG PARK

Get the fresh air, without needing to do the exercise (unless you want to) – plus be surrounded by cute dogs! Sometimes it’s pretty hard to get myself over there, but I never regret it. I love seeing Annie’s joy when she has freedom to just run and run. I love when there are other dogs she can play with. And I love when it’s just the two of us and we can soak in the fresh air and silence and beautiful scenery. It never fails to lift me up.

PLAN A SPECIAL SHOPPING TRIP

If you enjoy shopping. 🙂 I LOVE shopping, too much. I run almost all my errands out of town every week so I can go to more of the places I like with the best prices. Which is fun, but necessary. The real joy comes from planning and going on more niche shopping trips. For me, that’s maybe a few hours at the antique mall looking for new doll supplies. Or checking out the area thrift stores every few months. Or like this week, going to multiple stores that are releasing all of their Christmas inventory. Even if I don’t buy anything, it’s so fun to get out and see something different. Though who are we kidding, I’m usually going to buy something. But that’s how I find the best gifts for people and unique house decorations – something that brings me a tremendous amount of joy.

GO ON A DATE

I don’t know about other people, but I think it’s incredibly hard to stay connected to Greg when we don’t have any time away from our kids, our house, our neverending list of responsibilities. We’re fortunate enough that we usually have a weekly at home date night when the boys go to Grandma’s house, but I think it’s even more effective when we actually leave the house. I have something to look forward to, I have something to dress up a bit for, I don’t have to do any cooking or cleaning, and it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll feel closer to my husband afterward.

SEE YOUR FRIENDS

Friend time is so important. I always struggle to write about this because I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone that might read this. I wish friend time was a bigger part of my life because it’s almost always life-giving. It’s a chance to connect with someone outside your family, it’s time to vent and get things off your chest, and it’s usually a whole lot of fun!

MAKE A MEAL YOU WANT TO EAT

I’d say about 90% of the time, I want breakfast and dinner to be easy and fast. It’s stressful making food that everybody likes. It’s never fun trying to put together a meal when the whole family is hungry and cranky. But every once in awhile, when I know I might have some extra free time in the afternoon, I like to sit down with a beloved cookbook and pick out a meal that I truly want to eat. If I know the kids won’t eat it, then they can just deal with some chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly. I think it’s totally worth it to give yourself the freedom in the kitchen to actually create a delicious and incredible meal every once in awhile. For me, since I work at home, I’ve been trying to do this more often at lunchtime as well. If I have some amazing chicken tacos prepped and ready for my lunch, I’m a lot less likely to snack on crap all day long.

BAKE SOMETHING

This used to be my ultimate self care. I’ve loved baking my entire life. It’s kind of fallen to the wayside in the last few years because my family has very strong opinions on what they do and don’t like, and most people are watching their weight and just don’t want baked goods as a temptation. Which is kind of a bummer! But if there’s some sort of occasion (or create an occasion!) that might require a fancy dessert, go for it! Or just bake a loaf of bread! The reward of making something so simple can be such a delight.

RESEARCH SOMETHING

For me, it’s new books. I already have more books on my kindle than I’ll probably ever read. Same with books on my shelves. But you better believe that doesn’t stop me from my standing date with my computer every Tuesday to check out the new releases! I’m constantly looking at book blogs, listening to book podcasts, and grabbing book fliers from the library and bookstores about upcoming books. It’s my favorite hobby – besides actually reading. It’s free, it can be done anytime, and it makes me so happy. I also occasionally like to research things like future vacations, presents for people, or clothing I might want.

GO ON A TRIP

I know this isn’t always a feasible option, but if you can make it happen, it is SO WORTH IT. Solo vacations are kind of amazing. Greg always encourages me to go when something pops up (Colleen Hoover’s book signing in MN last August, The Popcast live show in Chicago, my trip to DC, my Book Bonanza trip to Texas next summer). But occasionally I try to get a night or two away with absolutely no agenda, like when I went to Door County last fall. It’s definitely an indulgence to justify a hotel and travel expenses and food just for a vacation by yourself. But it’s so refreshing and amazing, I totally think it’s worth it – at least once a year.

CREATE AMBIANCE

This is another super easy practice that can really give you a personal boost. I love having spaces around the house that are carved out for relaxing. While most of the house is filled with clutter and kid or technology related things, there are a few spots that I try really hard to always keep clutter free and clean. In fall and winter I love having scented candles lit in every room to add a huge cozy element to the house. Recently I added a candle to my desktop which I light every time I’m going to be at my computer for a longer stretch of time. It makes me ridiculously happy. I also like to do things like play soft worship music in the morning when we’re getting ready, use linen sprays on my bed and furniture, buy the softest pajamas I can find, have multiple blankets available on every couch and chair, and spray my favorite perfume on whenever the mood strikes. There are so many tiny little things you can give yourself every day to amplify the joy in your life.

This is far from an exclusive list of self care ideas, but these are my favorites and what work for me. Hopefully the list might prompt you to take charge of your life and start giving you a few options for your own self care plan!

More Than a Number

This is only the second time in my life I have actively been trying to lose weight. I don’t like diets, I hate feeling deprived. I have been of the mindset for the last many, many years that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and that generally includes making and eating delicious food. I want to accept who I am, no matter what I look like on the outside, as long as I’m doing my best to be kind and happy and joyful on the inside. I want to believe that I will be loved by my husband and my kids, whether I’m overweight or not. And if I love me and they love me, then does it really matter?

Well, when it starts to negatively affect your health, then yes, I think it matters. As much as I am loathe to admit it. Getting the high pressure blood medication two months ago was quite a wake up call to me. Having a liver ultrasound that could have potentially given me some very bad news was definitely the jolt that pushed me over the line and made me say that yes, I DO need to lose weight. I need to be healthier. I need to live longer. I need to set a better example to my kids so they can in turn be healthier and live longer and set good examples to their own children.

I have started making some pretty major changes in the last two weeks. I refuse to say that I’m on a diet, because I don’t want this to be a temporary thing. I am working really hard to genuinely change the way I think about food and what I decide to put into my body. I don’t want to live like I am denying myself. Which is definitely how it felt that first week. The second week has been easier. I still catch myself a little bit desperate to sneak into the pantry at the slightest hunger pang. It’s been taking an arsenal of tips and tricks to avoid the things that are bad for me. I’m not entirely confident I can stay on this path for the rest of my life. But I’ve also been seeing so many changes in just two weeks – changes beyond just the number on the scale – that I’m feeling much more confident about this journey than I was even a couple of days ago.

On the Noom program, they require you to weigh yourself every single morning. I believe on Weight Watchers, at least when I did it six years ago, you are supposed to weigh in once a week. I was strongly against doing it every day, until almost every morning when I see the scale drop a little bit more. That’s about the best motivation ever. But I also know there will be days it’ll go back up. Like the other night when I had my late night peanut butter toast and a Kit Kat bar after hating what I made for dinner and feeling extremely hungry. I knew the scale would go back up and it did. But today, even after eating out for lunch yesterday and sitting in a car for almost the entire day, it went back down. I love the encouragement of it going down, but live in terror of it going up. I don’t want to live like this either. I don’t want my entire life to be structured around food and calories and beating myself up over making mistakes or refusing to let myself indulge in special circumstances. I want to be more than that number and it scares me how much that number has affected my thoughts all day long in the last week and a half.

My goal as I continue on this journey to better health and happiness is to focus on all the changes beyond the number on the scale. I’m quickly realizing there are so many benefits to eating healthier besides my actual weight dropping. I love that to coincide with thinking about this, my Noom article this morning had a huge list of potential changes. I’m going to list a lot of them now (almost word for word from Noom), so I can remember them in the future. These are the things I want to focus on as I pick an orange from the fridge instead of pretzels from the pantry. As I skip that third taco and eat a small salad instead. As I avoid the aisles in the grocery stores that I know hold my biggest temptations. As I go for an evening walk instead of eating a dessert for the fifth night in a row. These are the changes I want to see and celebrate and take with me as solid encouragement that it is worth a little upheaval to be a healthier human being.

Physical Changes

  • Weight loss
  • Inches lost
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clothes fitting better (please, yes!)
  • Working out longer and with more intensity
  • Less aches and pains

Psychological Changes

  • More confidence in my skin
  • Less anxiety in uncomfortable situations
  • Limiting myself to one dessert
  • Conquering a trigger
  • Eating a mindful meal
  • Feeling empowered to make the healthier choice
  • Feeling pretty great about life

Social Changes

  • Being more social
  • Being complimented by others
  • Choosing healthier choices at a restaurant
  • Resisting temptations at the grocery store
  • Turning down treats I don’t actually want
  • Getting my family turned on to healthier food

Other Progress

  • Meal prepping for the week (yes! all three meals!)
  • Cooking new recipes
  • Bringing lunch with me on long errand days
  • Trying new healthy foods
  • Developing a distaste for unhealthy food
  • Cooking at home more often than eating out
  • Taking the stairs or the long route more often
  • Reaching step goals every day

For me, I really just want to feel better. Physically and mentally. I don’t want to feel bloated and slow and heavy anymore. I want to have a lot more energy to just be a better person overall. I’d like to think that despite a few temporary setbacks when knowing something I really want has too many calories, I’ve been happier this last week and a half. My brain has felt so much more clear and focused. I would LOVE to see the scale keep dropping and I’d love for my clothes to fit better and to feel more confident in my skin. But just plain FEELING better has been a pretty great motivator. I hope I can keep it up. 🙂

Sunday Intentions 11.04.2018

Let’s just start by saying daylight savings with kids is THE WORST. It’s also just the worst for people like me who absolutely cannot sleep in ever no matter what the circumstances, so now I get to start my day 4 instead of 5 every day for awhile. And then I get the added bonus of my kids up at 5:30 yelling at me and whining because I won’t let them play games and then retaliating by being as loud as possible and letting the animals through the french doors so it’s guaranteed Greg will also wake up way too early and be crabby with all of us. Fun times, daylight savings.

Anyway, it’s a new week and another busy one. The calendar really filled up fast. Though it’s mostly really fun things, so I can’t complain!

Today we’re off to Chicago to see all of Greg’s half of the family. The siblings and significant others aren’t able to come for Thanksgiving this year, so it’s the only time we’ll all be together before Christmas. Which is just super rare to begin with, so it should be fun. If the boys behave. Experience from the last few months tells me they won’t. But I can hope!

Tomorrow, unfortunately, is a no school day. Caden tells me it’s because the quarter ended. I’d like to try and do something fun with the day so we’re not just all sitting at home whining about and/or playing video games. I would really love to finally get to that Verona dog park we tried to go to a few times in August, but the area was too flooded. But it’s going to rain all day today and there’s a chance of rain tomorrow, so it’s not looking very promising. I don’t really have a backup plan, so at the very least I’d like to take them out to lunch or something to mark the day as being a little bit special.

By Tuesday I’ll be desperate to get out and grocery shop. Trying to keep the fridge stocked with an abundance of fruits and vegetables that I actually want to eat is probably the biggest challenge of this whole weight loss thing. I’m also tempted to go see Bohemian Rhapsody on $5 Tuesday, but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time. Maybe next week.

Wednesday will hopefully be a full blown work day. In years past I try to get all of my Christmas doll making done in November so I can just spend December enjoying everything else. But considering I haven’t even started a single Christmas doll yet, I have quite a lot of ground to cover in the next four weeks. I also have a few custom orders I need to work on first.

On Thursday my favorite vintage shop, Twisted Sister, is having their holiday open house. I plan on being there right when it opens to check everything out! Then Shepard has a Literacy Night event at school.

Friday morning I am going to be anxiously waiting at my computer to sign up for a limited spot craft retreat I REALLY want to be part of in January. It’s at the Whatever Craft House in Kansas and sounds amazing. But there are only 16 available spots, a ton of people that want to go, and it’s first come first serve. I’m telling myself that if I don’t get in then it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll be okay. But I really, really want to go. One of my fellow Wisconsin doll makers is also hoping to get in and then we’re going to carpool together. But I feel like the chances of both of us getting in is pretty slim. We shall see. I’m trying to push it from my mind so I’m not stressing about it all week.

On Friday night, my other favorite vintage place that’s only open two or three times a year, is having their annual Christmas sale. I missed the spring one because of my broken ankle, so I’m really excited for this one!

And Saturday I’m having a Christmas shopping day with Cindy, something we do every November. Should be fun!

Overall, a pretty good week ahead, I think! I want to keep focusing on sewing and following my healthy eating plan. And writing every day!

Have a good week!

(Also a little side note about the image above – So, I really like to just use my own photos on here. But at the writing workshop the other night the teacher told us about her favorite free stock photo site, so I think I might be using the occasional stock photo for these posts I can’t find a matching picture of my own for. Just want to clarify that point for future reference!)

Saturday Reflections 11.03.2018

As usual, I committed to writing something substantial every day and now it’s 7pm and I haven’t had two minutes today to sit down and write. Why does it always work that way?! I thought I was going to have this really lazy reading and writing day like last Sunday, and there have just been so many dang things to DO. It’s frustrating!

Anyway, it’s been a rather uneventful week. I’ve just had my head down trying to work and trying to stick with this new weight loss plan. Both have been successful – for once.

Monday I ran errands, Tuesday I worked, both nights the boys had their usual clubs and activities. It felt so great to just be at home all day on Tuesday, actually getting things done. I’ve been running around so much these last two months, I really want to try and slow down and settle into routine again.

Wednesday was Halloween. I made chocolate pumpkin muffins for breakfast – but didn’t eat any when I realized a single muffin has 400 calories.  Yikes. Not worth it for me. Greg had to go to Chicago for a work related Halloween party, which I thought was pretty funny. Annie and I went on a really long walk in the morning which felt amazing. And then Greg was home in time to take the boys to the dentist in the afternoon.

I kind of phoned it in and made a jack-o-lantern bbq pizza for dinner. I wanted to make something special for dessert too, but I couldn’t get motivated. I’m a bit at war internally right now between wanting to stick to very simple and wholesome foods to stay in my calorie limits and wanting to pick up my cookbooks and make something delicious.

Thursday marked the end of my first week with Noom. I lost 3.5 lbs in a week. I’ve lost another half pound in the two days since. So that seems successful, right?? I’ve been proud of myself and it’s gotten easier. But I also made a ton of pretty drastic changes all at once and I hit a slump every day where I feel deprived and sad. In general, I’ve been FEELING physically so much better. I’ve limited myself to one processed food a day – usually Simply Cheetos or Poppables chips in the afternoons. I have oatmeal or cereal with fruit for breakfast. I’ve been eating chicken breast on corn tortilla tacos for lunch pretty much every day. I haven’t eaten any Halloween candy since trick or treat night. I haven’t been to any restaurants. I’ve been trying to drink water and then eat a fruit or vegetable anytime I get hungry. I’m trying to trick my mind with mints instead of looking for a snack. I’ve been really active.

The calorie counting sucks, but I’m getting the hang of realizing what food is in which category and trying to be very intense about my portion control. So, it all seems to be working. But I don’t think I’m going to continue with Noom. I still have a few more days to make up my mind before they charge me for six months, but I think I’d rather do this same stuff with a free app and not the extra real person support. Support kind of annoys me. I’m a bit worried if I give it up I’ll just go back to eating the way I usually eat. But I’m hoping after two weeks of making real changes and physically feeling and seeing how much better I am, it’ll be worth it to continue on this path. It just gets hard on nights like tonight when I hated what I made for dinner, so I barely touched it, but then I was starving and angry and sad and just wanted to raid the pantry for anything I saw. Instead I took a long walk. And ate a piece of peanut butter on super whole grainy toast when I got back.

Thursday night I went to that creative writing workshop which I wrote about yesterday.

On Friday morning Greg wanted to go vote early, so I tagged along. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me to get there on Tuesday, but I’m glad I got it done! It was fun to go together.

The boys only had a half day on Friday. Caden had his well child checkup in the afternoon. He’s healthy and good. According to their charts, he grew 3.75 inches in the last year! On my measuring thing at home, he’s only grown one…

I finally finished up my batch of dolls by Friday night. This is my favorite one. Still available! 🙂

And that brings us to today. I was doing a bunch of random things around the house this morning and then Greg and Annie and I went on a walk. Then Greg went to visit my brother for a few hours and I took the boys to the dog park. It was only 40 degrees, but both boys refused to wear a coat. Shepard was even wearing short sleeves. I don’t know what is going on with them, but they both put up insane fights every single morning because they absolutely do not want to wear OR bring coats, hats, etc. It’s been in the 30’s every single morning!

I was so excited that I saw Annie’s twin at the dog park today! I’ve never seen a dog look so similar to her! Actually, there’s one other dog I occasionally see named Finley who looks exactly like Annie in size/shape/hair length, but she has red hair and blue eyes. This guy was exactly like Annie! Except a lot older. I was trying to be sneaky about taking a picture and then the owner just started wandering around outside the park by himself, so I had plenty of chances to take pictures of his dog lol.

After the dog park I took my usual nap while the boys gamed, then worked on some more random household things, made dinner, took a walk, and here I am! I’ve also discovered this week that I REALLY love having a candle burning at my desk when I’m going to be here awhile. My brother gave this one to me as a late birthday present and I love it. It just makes any long tasks I’m doing on my computer feel extra special to have a nice candle at my side!

And that’s been the week!

Thoughts on My First Creative Writing Workshop

Well, I did it! I pushed my anxiety aside and promptly walked myself over to the library annex last night to attend my first creative writing workshop.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. There were nine people, including the instructor and the library employee that didn’t consider herself a writer, but was sitting in. You didn’t need to be a writer to be there, you just needed to want to write, love to write, appreciate the written word. I think that was the best part – spending two and a half hours in a small circle of like-minded people who enjoy writing as much as me. Sometimes I feel so incredibly isolated in all of my passionate endeavors. I know they obviously must be out there, but it’s pretty rare for me to interact with anyone else in my real outside of the internet life that enjoy writing, reading, sewing. So it felt like quite the treat to meet a group of people that could come together simply for the love of writing.

The author who created the workshop writes YA and middle grade fiction. It was interesting that within the group there were two aspiring novelists, a legacy writer, a children’s book writer, two poets, a man who has never written anything but was curious about it, and me – who specified my writing as “nonfiction.” Which was apparently interpreted as wanting to write how to manuals? When I later clarified I was interested more in the personal essay type style, I received a lot of understanding grunts. I’m not even sure if that’s the correct classification of the type of writing I enjoy doing. All I know is that I don’t write fiction. And I’m not entirely sure I’d ever want to. But in order to stretch my creative writing muscles, perhaps it’s something I will soon try.

Over the course of the evening, we went through a packet of papers that was clearly geared toward writing a fictional novel. It felt incredibly overwhelming to me. Hence my aversion to writing fiction, as much as I LOVE reading it. It was things I heard before in high school and my college English Writing major courses. But it’s not something I’ve given thought to in the last fifteen years. I liked learning more about book structure and themes and dialogue. But it was also making me feel a bit panicked about how hard writing a novel must surely be. I keep hearing the advice that if you want to be a writer, JUST START WRITING. This workshop made me feel like I’d need to do a massive amount of research and planning before I could even sit down at the computer. And the pressure to word everything so perfectly is overwhelming!

We participated in three creative writing exercises while we were there. In the first, we were given a random photograph and were supposed to tell a story about it. This reminded me of an exercise we occasionally did in high school orchestra – the conductor would play a long piece of classical music and we had to write an accompanying story about it as quickly as possible. I LOVED when we did those exercises. This photograph prompt felt more challenging because I’m not used to making up stories on the fly like that. It might be something I’ll try again this month in my daily writing exercises!

The second exercise was to create a unique dialog between two characters from a list of ten starting statements. I chose, “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again!” I chose it because that line is said almost daily in our house when interacting with a very angry child. I didn’t need to make anything up for this one, I just wrote a version of arguments we have with him almost every single night.

The third exercise was supposed to be told through a one of the senses other than sight. I chose to describe a first kiss. Which may or may not have been factual. 🙂

One of the things I was most worried about when going to this class was being forced to share writing when I wasn’t prepared to. Fortunately, we were all given the option to share our responses to these prompts and there was no pressure to share if you were uncomfortable. About half the people shared for each exercise. I did not volunteer. But I was surprised to find that I kind of wanted to. I kept extremely quiet during the entire evening, only spoken when asked a direct question. But part of me really did want to jump into some of the discussion, which I’m taking as a sign that I was meant to be there.

My takeaway from the evening was that writing is awesome and it’s something I want to pursue with greater time and intention than I have in the last few years. I would love to write a book, someday, but also think that maybe it’s not really in the cards for me. I like to write for the sake of writing. I like to talk about my life. I like to set goals and evaluate how well I did on them. I like to journal about every tiny moment of interest that happens to me in a day. But to find a central theme and write an entire book about it still feels way too daunting. I did find out from a few people in the workshop that UW Madison offers a bunch of continuing education writing classes. I just looked up them up and they’re not very expensive, so I think that’s something I might look into in the coming months. Probably not this month – I have enough going on with all this weight loss drama. And next month is busy with Christmas. But maybe in January?!

Overall, it was an inspirational night that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope there will be another one offered soon!