Sunday Intentions 01.14.2018

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We’re still cold. But managing. If we’re right next to a space heater it’s wavering between 50 and 55 degrees. And our upstairs, which is set to 63 all the time, now feels like a tropical paradise. I spent the entire morning immobilized on the futon with an enormous pile of blankets and books. Greg and the boys have spent the entire day (weekend) playing video games. Sometimes you just have to let them do what they want.

I’m hoping the new furnace part will be installed tomorrow, but we’re also expecting a big snowstorm, so I’m just assuming we won’t get it until Tuesday. Because obviously what makes having no heat even more fun? Being snowed in during it. ūüėõ Considering school was let out early last week due to rain, I’m just going to assume school will be cancelled tomorrow. And if it’s NOT then I will rejoice and maybe attempt to actually get some work done. If we’re all home again? I’m going back to my books.

Anyway, it’s a relatively low key week. On Wednesday Greg and I will celebrate our 18th anniversary of being together. We’re going to go to Chili’s for dinner because we ate at Chili’s all the time for “fancy” dates in high school. And because we have a gift card. And because we’re terrible at making decisions and don’t have enough time to do anything more elaborate on a weeknight. But it’ll be tasty.

On Saturday we’re going to Mt. Olympus in the Dells. Greg’s parents gifted a night there to the boys for Christmas and Greg and I maneuvered our way out of sleeping there. Greg is NOT a joy to be around in the morning at a hotel stay with kids. But we’ll still go with them on Saturday to swim and hang out. It should be fun! It’s been so cold these last few weeks that I think we’ll all be ready to do something unique and fun together.

I was thinking that it’s a really normal week besides that, but I just remembered we don’t have school on Friday. So basically, I should just give up hope right now of getting anything done this week!

I guess my main priority this week is to just go with the flow. I’ve been pretty cranky this weekend. I can’t stand unexpected changes to my best laid plans. It was super frustrating to get so excited about joining that Book Club Readathon and then wake up to a sick husband and a broken furnace. The whole weekend has been stressful and chaotic and it didn’t need to be. I have to be better at accepting things sometimes don’t go according to plan! So while I really do want to – and need to – get some work done this week, I also want to be better mom if my kids get snowed in tomorrow. And I want to be a better wife, fully celebrating our 18 years together. And I want to stop thinking about what I’m missing out on doing and just have fun with my family on Saturday. LIFE is more important than lists.

Meals Plans…tentatively

Monday – Sandwiches and/or maybe some sort of thrown together soup

Tuesday – I think I’m going to attempt to try out my instant pot for the first time and make Butter Chicken or Tikka Masala

Wednesday – Chilis!

Thursday – Okay, I don’t know. Everything I want to make is chicken. Chicken is really the only meat I like. Everyone else likes chicken, but it is pointed out to me if we had chicken more than two days in a row. So….we’ll see. Maybe I’ll be more inspired in a day or two.

Friday – Pizza, of course

Have a good week!!

Saturday Reflections 01.13.2018

Well, it’s been a pretty quiet and uneventful week. Until today when I woke up to Greg being sick and our furnace dying. As it quickly feels like we’re about to freeze to death, I figured I should pump out this post! We’re anxiously awaiting from the service tech to see if he has the part we need (the “blower”) to get the furnace running again. If he doesn’t have it in the shop, it won’t be fixed until sometime Monday. It’s like one degree outside. We need it fixed NOW.

I should probably point out that we won’t actually freeze to death because we also have an attic furnace that heats the second floor of our house and it’s working fine. But our pipes in the basement and lower half of the house are going to need some heat! Or we’ll have a real mess on our hands!

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Anyway. This week! So on Monday morning Caden insisted that he was sick and needed to stay home. Does anyone else absolutely agonize about whether or not to let their kids stay home if they’re not showing any actual signs of being sick? I have the hardest time EVER making the decision when Caden says he doesn’t feel well. With Shepard it’s so easy. I only need to look at him for five seconds to see if he’s sick and he never has to say a word. Caden is much harder to read. Caden is a lot more cunning. Caden often manufactures an illness because he just doesn’t want to go to school. Caden will cry and refuse to get dressed so I don’t have any option but to let him stay home. And 95% of the time – he feels magically so much better an hour later. So I’m not usually a very nice mom when he tells me he’s sick. I get angry because I think he’s messing with me. But I also don’t want to send him if he’s actually possibly going to get sick at school! It’s a position I HATE being in. Even more so on days like this past Monday when I had a full day of errands meticulously planned out. But what can you? That’s why I’m a stay at home mom still, right? Need to accommodate the kids. So, we ended up having a very low key day. He was fine. We drank a bunch of lemon water. He read books for hours and hours. I worked. We made it through.

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I was able to run all my errands on Tuesday instead. That was pretty much my day.

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I’ve been continuing work in my bullet journal and Shepard requested that I buy him one. He wanted it dotted like mine, and purple. I was actually shocked to find exactly what he wanted at Michael’s for only $5. I got Caden one too, but Shepard has been a lot more excited about filling his in. I hit up all the craft stores that day and got us both a bunch of fun stickers.

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I spent Wednesday working pretty hard and then we had our at home date night. I feel like such a slacker wife. If I work all day I don’t have any time to come up with a good dinner plan. I wanted to try and make the night special, but I just felt bleh and stressed. So Greg offered to pick up Chinese food and then we made a puzzle together. We’re super exciting people.

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Caden had his first baked potato at Grandma’s house Wednesday night and brought home another one for breakfast on Thursday. I never make baked potatoes because they’re too bland and boring for me. But I guess I’ll have to figure out how to do it since Greg loves them too.

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Thursday afternoon we had an unscheduled early release due to “expected dangerous precipitation.” It was raining pretty hard. But it was also 47 degrees. So it all ended up being fine, my day just got cut short again. Annie was super cute when we picked them up from school that day, trying to cuddle on Caden’s lap. She doesn’t normally do things like that.

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On Thursday afternoon I FINALLY finished up the batch of dolls I spent two weeks working on. I’ve never felt so slow and behind on a batch of only seven dolls before! They were really tall which does make them a little more unwieldy to work with. Four of them were also custom orders, which I don’t like doing because they slow me down so much. Three of the four dolls required special fabrics and it was just a huge hassle. But they’re done. Hopefully I can start speeding up now. Cutting out those night and weekend hours is really cutting back on how many dolls I can make. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with it.

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But to cheer me up – more stickers! I’ve been trying to find cool sticker companies online and there aren’t many to choose from! I discovered Pipsticks which has a lot of tiny funky and unique stickers. And these I got from Violette Stickers. I love how vintagey and cute they are. They just make me extremely happy. I’ve always loved stickers and now I’m really excited to have a place to use them again!

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The boys working on their journals before school Friday. I spent Friday working again and then went out to dinner with a few friends. It was so nice to see them! And get out of the house for something fun.

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Later Friday night I decided to join this 24 in 48 readathon with my facebook book club group. The goal is to read 24 hours over the weekend, but really it’s just about the spirit of finding as much time as possible to dive into books. I knew there was no way I’d have time to read 24 hours, but I wanted to at least join in the fun. It’s exciting to see everyone’s posts and just feel part of a group of likeminded people. It doesn’t seem like I know many book lovers in person, to my GREAT disappointment.

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And now today! Where I was hoping to spend the majority of my day. It’s not really turning out that way. ūüôĀ

So the furnace verdict that came while I was writing – the guy doesn’t have the part. And won’t have it until Monday. OR Tuesday. Seriously??? He brought over two space heaters and said they’ll heat the house enough that the pipes should be fine. So. That’s irritating. I’m kind of really ticked off. I guess it’s going to be a cold couple of days!!

Ramblings on Creative Pursuits

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. I’m reading the book¬†Big Magic where the author Elizabeth Gilbert¬†talks about catching your creative passion or idea before it passes you by. Whenever I sit down to read a chapter, writing is the creative pursuit that comes to mind. When I spend six hours a day sitting at my work table sewing, I’m constantly coming back to¬†thoughts of what I could be writing in that time. Whenever I’m tired and overwhelmed, writing is what I want to do. Usually in the form of an email to my best friend across the country, but often just because it’s the best outlet for me to get out everything inside me. At the end of the day when I’m evaluating what I did well or poorly, I’m often frustrated that I didn’t have time to write anything. Writing is what I keep circling back to. Writing is that dream that’s constantly swirling around my brain. Writing feels like what I’m meant to be doing.

So why am I sewing? Why am I using this rare freedom that I have at this time in my life to spend six hours a day watching tv and mindlessly sewing doll parts together? Money is probably the main reason. It’s very exciting that I found something enjoyable to do – at home – that will bring me a small income and a ton of flexibility. It allows me to still be home with my kids in summer and breaks and whenever else they might need me. It brings in enough money that I can buy myself extra things or splurge on bigger gifts for people. It also brings in money that I can use to take guilt free and desperately needed little trips by myself once or twice a year. Selling dolls legitimizes my purpose in staying home and not going out and finding a “real” career.

I DO love making dolls. But I also feel so held up by my shortcomings. I’m one person. I can only make so many dolls a year. And now that I’m genuinely trying to cut out my night and weekend hours, I’m guessing my doll production might be cut by as much as half. There’s a very definite limit to how much I can create and how much income I can cultivate in doing this. It’s not the kind of business where I can bring in another person to help me. This is a one woman show, all the way. And it’s frustrating. I’m doing well! I have a large customer base and I often sell out of new dolls I list within a few days. Which is great! But it also makes me feel like I’m constantly behind and there’s just no way I’ll EVER catch up. When I have this bottomless pit of urgency and failure to keep up, it makes me wonder if I should even be doing this at all. Is it a life giving pursuit if I always feel behind and like I’m letting people down?

I think I’m a pretty talented doll maker. I don’t take shortcuts, I don’t put out anything less than my best work. I’m proud of my creations and I have such joy when I finish them and people actually want to buy them. I don’t think it’s something I can give up. So I need to find a way to blend them all together in a way that makes me feel complete and fills my soul.¬†I need to carve out more room for writing and fulfilling that part of me that I desperately want to satisfy. It’s probably going to mean even less time a day to work on my dolls. And I NEED to be okay with that. Writing is what I’ve always wanted to do with my life. And that scares me. Because saying that out loud and then openly letting my words by judged is terrifying. I might not be good enough. I’m out of practice. I don’t have any worthwhile topics to write about, unless it’s directly related to my life and just the random jumble of emotions I constantly feel. I feel like I have SO MANY words inside of me, but no direction in which to mold them. I can’t change my life to revolve around writing when I don’t have a plan.

So. For now… I’m going to be blogging more. It might be a lot of rambling posts like this one. But I want to challenge myself to just start. Start where I am and write, write, write. This is probably my safest space because I don’t have much of an audience! My words will be out there, but also relatively secure. I can say whatever I want and get the peace that comes with putting my thoughts to the page. It’s a start. I don’t want this creative passion to pass me by because I’ve ignored it for so long. It came back to me and I’m not going to let it go this time.

Sunday Intentions 01.07.2018

Finally a regular, normal, boring week ahead! I’m really craving some daily routines and getting back in the swing of things. The holidays are a lot of fun, but I’m ready to slow down for awhile.

I’m pretty exhausted today. I slept horribly because there was this weird chattery whiny noise coming from the ceiling all night. Sometimes the boys talk about hearing a squirrel in the attic when they’re trying to go to sleep, so I just kept imagining a hundred squirrels running around and being responsible for the incessant noises that kept me awake most of the night. I told Greg about it in the morning and he said, “Do you mean the sound the fan makes sometimes?” So yeah – idiot here! The noise was varying enough and seemed to be coming from different areas above me, so I didn’t even consider the fan. SIGH.

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Anyway, it did warm up a bit and Annie and I got to the dog park this morning in 16 degree weather. And after lunch we were finally able to go sledding! It was about 27 by then. We took Annie with us and I had her attached to a leash that goes around my waist. If we lost her at Astico Park I’m pretty sure we’d never see her again. I wish I could trust her off leash! I don’t even know when is the appropriate time to start trying her without one. In a few years?? She’s really great with staying near me and coming when I call at the dog park, but with total freedom I’m sure she’d just take off. As proven by all the times she got away last spring and summer. Anyway, I actually went down the sledding hills twice and Annie ran along beside me, both absolutely loving it and totally confused. At one point she was running right next to me and looking at me like she couldn’t figure out what in the world was happening. I was laughing SO hard.

After sledding I decided to go run some errands. I ran out of polyfil of all things while I was working yesterday, so I was at a standstill until I got some more. I figured it was better to just go today even though I really didn’t want to. So after not getting sleep, trekking around the dog park, doing yoga, making breakfast and lunch, getting pulled all over sledding hills by Annie with her crazy strength (amplified by the harness), and then running errands for a few hours, I am WIPED OUT. And a bit cranky. Is it bedtime yet?

Highest Priority – Back to Work!

I planned on getting back to work last week, but like I said in yesterday’s post, I just ran out of time for it. This week – no excuses! I’m getting in that panic mode where there are just so many things I want to make and I get super stressed out and resentful about how long the more mundane tasks of doll making take. I definitely love the finishing touches a lot more than the process. Stuffing dolls for hours on end is not fun.¬† So I’m just hoping I can really power through these custom orders I’ve been working on and then finally get back into a productive routine that results in many beautiful dolls! Valentine dolls are some of my best sellers and I’m already down to only a few more weeks before it’s too late to sell them. I know I won’t have time to make nearly as many as I’d like. But I’m trying to be okay with it.

Other Priority – Keep Up Goals!

At least at the beginning of the year I always want to have my New Year’s resolutions at the back of my mind. I need to continue with my daily yoga. It’s been getting harder and harder to make myself do it every day, but I always feel so much better afterward. It’s worth it. I want to be aware of whatever else I need to be doing to take care of myself too. Just stay home, work, read, rest, enjoy my family. I can do it.

Meal Plans

Monday – Chicken with Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce (I hate lemons and have never cooked anything using them before. But a huge bag of Meyer lemons for $2 at Walmart today caught my eye, so I’m going to try some lemon recipes for my lemon loving family members.)

Tuesday – Cuban Chicken Bowl (This is one of my favorite chicken recipes because it just has such AMAZING flavors. I haven’t made it in quite awhile.)

Wednesday – (At home?) Date Night – haven’t figured it out yet

Thursday – Probably leftovers. Thursdays are quickly becoming regular leftover night. But maybe breakfast for dinner if we don’t have enough leftovers.

Friday – I’m going out! With friends! But I’ll still make a pizza for Greg and Shepard. We had frozen pizza last week and they were not thrilled.

Have a great week!

Saturday Reflections 01.06.2018

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I just love January! Life feels so full of potential with all the chatter about¬†fresh starts, goals, and positive life changes. I know most people drop their resolutions within a few weeks, but that doesn’t stop me from hoping my path for the year might be different.

One thing I don’t like about January – particularly this one – is how cold it STILL IS. It’s not like I’m a huge outdoorsman, but it’s driving me a little bit insane to feel so trapped in the house, never quite warm enough. I just want to take Annie for a twenty minute walk every day without feeling like we’re both about to fall over from frostbite. The good news is that it’s supposedly going to warm up next week. I’ll believe it when I see it!

Overall, it’s been a pretty great week. I love getting back on track after the chaos, excitement, and exhaustion of Christmas break. Seeing everyone head off to work and school and then coming back to a quiet house with just my pets? It’s the BEST. I had some lofty ambitions of really jumping into everything I’ve been slacking on the last few weeks, but I didn’t make much progress. But… I’m okay with it. I’m really trying to live by taking care of myself first. And this week I needed more life giving genuine down time than working myself ragged productivity.

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On Monday morning – New Year’s – we went to Greg’s parents’ for a game day. My parents came too. I was so tired from actually staying up until midnight, so I declined any actual game playing. But it was nice to just have a chance to sit and read without needing to really do anything for a big chunk of the day. The food was delicious too.

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This is the bottle of that $20 ice wine I got at Costco for New Year’s Eve, just fyi. ūüôā It was so good! Quite the splurge, but maybe worth making if it comes around every year. It has mango flavors in it, so I got the bottle to myself (Greg is allergic). And a bottle is about less than two glasses, so¬†I was glad not to share!

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On Tuesday I was more than ready to run some errands and stock up on groceries. Christmas clearance was 90% off at Target and I was pretty excited to find some good stuff. I always want these scent things for my artificial trees, but it seems¬†crazy to pay $7 on them full price. 70 cents I can handle! I also really wanted some white lights to hang inside our bay window next year so it looks like we did some house decorating from the outside – hopefully. We don’t have any outdoor outlets, so we can’t put lights up outside and our house looks so sad and un-festive. I put the tiny white lights around our bedroom and when they’re on it makes me ridiculously happy.

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Target also had Lego Brickheadz 50% off. I’ve been eyeing up these Belle and Beast figures for quite awhile and finally had an excuse to buy them. I made the boys build them for me and now they’re on one of my bookshelves.

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Wednesday was a teensy bit warmer in the morning and we were able to venture out to the dog park for half an hour. Visits have been pretty sparse these last few weeks! Walks have basically been nonexistent. It needs to warm up.

Both Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be big work days, but I was still so busy doing things around the house I couldn’t afford much sewing time. Wednesday was actually the one really, really low day for me. I was giving myself too much to do, stressed out, upset about some friendship related things, and just not in a good place. So I devoted Thursday back to self care and taking time to read and relax and get my head back into a positive space. It worked.

Friday was a bummer day because I had to have two cavities filled. I’ve only had one cavity before and it was so tiny they didn’t even do any anesthetics. It was on the top of my tooth too and I didn’t realize how little of a deal that was compared to bigger cavities that form between teeth! Anyway, it was just a sucky hour and a half at the dentist, but I survived. I was more just annoyed about how long it took with the dentist constantly going in and out of the room to attend multiple people at once. Just get it over with! I rewarded myself with a Chipotle bowl to take home and have for lunch. It tasted like the best thing ever. Total Chipotle game changer for this devote taco eater too. Bowls are now my future. Especially when they travel so well to eat at home!

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This week has birthed a few new obsessions for me. One – cold brew coffee. In blue mason jars. With homemade creamer. Which is also stored in pretty blue mason jars in my fridge. I haven’t brewed any of my own yet, but I did get a bottle of Stok Not Too Sweet cold brew at the store and it’s delicious! And it actually wakes me up enough to not need a nap. I’m still loving my Keurig (the boys REALLY love it), but cold brew is probably going to be my new daily lunch beverage of choice.

This week I am also completely in love with my bullet journal. I seriously recommend that book¬†Dot Journaling if you’re at all intrigued by the idea of bullet journaling, but are too overwhelmed by how complex the internet makes it out to be. It took me a few hours to set it all up, but I think I created a system where I’ll really get the most out of using it. I love it for daily to do lists and as many other lists as I want. But I also really like the habit tracking and actually using it as a real journal at the end of every day. And the creative options once you start! I’ve already ordered more stickers and washi tape because it’s just so fun to make it colorful and full of happy beauty. I think it’ll be a really great little outlet AND productivity tool this year.

I’m not sure I can call it an obsession yet, but another thing I started this week is a daily yoga practice. I’m following the free 30 day program for January by Yoga with Adriene. Early every morning I get an email with a few inspirational messages and a link to the day’s video. I leave it unopened until I’m ready to do it because unopened emails drive me insane. There’s no way I can forget or ignore the video. The first four days I did it first thing in the morning, which was great. Yesterday and today I had to put it off awhile and it made me a little stir crazy. I think that maybe, after only six days, I’m liking yoga! I really like Adriene. I feel like this is something I can maybe actually stick with. Not necessarily as a way to lose weight, but as a way to connect more with my body, stretch, and just overall feel better. I’ll keep you updated on how I feel after every additional week. I’m determined not to miss a day.

Anyway, despite the bit of depression I was struggling with on Wednesday, it was a pretty good week! Now today we’re working on finishing all the post-Christmas cleanup. Trees are down and I’ve been working on all the clutter. The boys are currently mini-golfing with the grandparents. Greg is crawling around hand scrubbing all the floors. And I’m hoping to spend the afternoon sewing. Not because I feel like I NEED to. But because that’s genuinely how I want to spend a chunk of my day. I miss it.

I hope you had a great week too!

Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren
Rating: 5 stars

Holland is a 23 year old living in New York with an MBA in Creative Writing that she doesn’t know what to do with. While she tries to figure out a direction for her life, she works for her uncle at a broadway theater. She has a major crush on an amazing guitar busker that she goes out of her way to watch and listen to every single time he plays in her closest subway station. Her infatuation is so deep that basically everyone she knows teases her about it. Near the end of his first run of an extremely successful musical, her uncle is suddenly in desperate need of a solo musician. Holland immediately drags him to see the busker and they officially meet Calvin, the Julliard taught Irish musician who has been living in NYC illegally for the past four years. In order to bring him into the show Holland hatches a crazy plan to marry Calvin to help both him and her uncle.

This book is definitely about the unique relationship that buds between Holland and Calvin. But it’s also about how much Holland struggles to find her own identity. She basically lives as a side character to the most important people in her life and finds that she’s pretty lost internally. From a career perspective, I felt that was incredibly relatable to both me and so many people I know. You go to school and have your dreams. And then you realize real life is pretty dang hard and you get lost on the way to making those dreams come true. Holland had so much passion for helping those she loves, but needed to learn how to also love herself.

I really enjoyed this book. I think I expected it to be more of a fluffy romance going into it, but it really had a lot of heart. Holland may have been working a dead end job that she really had no ambition for, but her priorities with putting her family first were honorable and sweet. She definitely had trust issues with Calvin’s intentions, but he was good through and through. They had a lot of ups and downs, but really learned how to communicate and fight to the end for what they both truly wanted. It was a sweet read.

Book Review: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Rating: 4.5 stars

Abby is a 17 year old teenager who is completely in love with her best friend Cooper. She confessed to him a year before and he was so shocked that she played it off as a joke. She didn’t want to lose their friendship and decided to continue on as if the words were never spoken. This summer she finds herself alone with Cooper as their two other best friends are out of the country and unavailable. They spend all their time together and her feelings continue getting stronger. In the meantime, Abby is working at¬†museum and trying to get her paintings into an art show that would guarantee her a spot at a creative winter camp. The man in charge of the show, also her boss, tells her that she doesn’t have enough heart and her paintings are too one dimensional. This forces Abby to write a list of all the things she could do over the summer to grow her heart and produce paintings worthy of the opportunity.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was¬†due to the witty and sarcastic dialog between almost all of the characters. Abby lives with her mom and her grandfather and her dad is fighting in Iraq. Her mom is nearly agoraphobic, but also a loving and supportive member of the family. But her grandpa is hilarious and plays a huge role in her life. The friendship between Abby and Cooper is light and fun, but it’s hard to understand how Cooper can treat her so wonderfully and still not return her feelings, or at least acknowledge them. I liked list they created to grow their hearts and the adventures that took them on. It was a tender hearted yet laugh out loud kind of book that also brought to commiserating tears.

Overall, this is one of Kasie West’s bests. I love all of her books, but this one felt particularly delightful. I highly recommend it.

2018: Celebrating a New Year

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Happy New Year!

Last night we celebrated the way we always do Рstaying home with food and movies. We had a big taco feast followed by a creme brulee tart for dessert. As a family we watched Captain Underpants, Boss Baby, and a bunch of Netflix countdown videos as we ate popcorn and drank sparkling juice. The boys went to bed around nine and Greg and I finished the evening watching Logan Lucky and half of Battle of the Sexes. He drank a beer, I drank some of the amazing ice wine I found at Costco last week. It was about the least exciting celebration ever, but at least we were together. And hey! I actually made it to midnight. I NEVER make it to midnight.

Anyway, like most of the world, I’ve spent the last week contemplating the ups and downs of the last year and what I would like to do differently in my life and¬†approach to¬†2018. I re-read my resolutions from last year¬†and realized that I basically feel exactly the same way as I did a year ago. If anything, I’m even more of a slave to my to do lists. The frustrating thing is that I’m completely aware of it and still struggle day after day to just let some things go. I so often link my worth to how many things I accomplished in a day. I set impossible standards for myself and am constantly wracked with guilt and disappointment in what I wasn’t able to check off my list by the end of the night. And quite honestly – I’m sick of living this way.

In the midst of trying to just DO all the time, I’ve really lost sight of what’s truly important in life. Family, love, laughter, joy, contentment, connection, dreams, acceptance, and simple happiness. I somehow want to find my way back to all of that this year. I want to live by my the words of my current favorite book and choose¬†ONLY LOVE TODAY. Again and again and again. That is what matters. I only have this one life and I want to make it count. For me. For my joy. For my acceptance. That will be my focus this year.

Personal

  1. Practice Self Care. 
    I want to learn how to love myself this year. I have a lot of self hatred, especially with how I look. And sometimes with aspects of my personality and how I treat other people. I’d like to take a journey this year in finding things that make me happy. Looking for joy in little moments. Being completely in tune to what I actually need to loosen the stress and smile more. Let go of the to do list slavery. Show gratitude for the best parts of myself. Learn to accept and even love the parts of me I sometimes can’t stand. This is all so much easier said than done. But I think it’ll be my highest priority for the year. And also my hardest.
  2. Take Better Care of Myself. 
    My first goal is to take care of myself emotionally and mentally and my second goal is to take care of myself physically. I would love to lose some weight. I need to lose some weight. But I’m not going to give myself a number or even any extreme pressure to do it. I do want to start making better decisions. Remember that the food I put in my mouth not only affects my size, but also my blood and my heart and my ability to live (or not live) a long and healthy life. I want to move more too. If it ever stops being negative temperatures, I need to get back into taking long daily walks. Preferably in the morning, but at night if necessary. I’d also like to find some sort of online exercise program that I’ll actually enjoy and stick with. Especially on these cold winter days when spending long hours outside just isn’t possible.
  3. Be Happy With What I Have.
    I think this became a real problem last year. I always want more. Whenever I found myself stressed out and overwhelmed with life I’d often go to my computer to at least window shop on amazon and other various websites. Shopping shouldn’t be my solution to anything, but especially emotional turmoil. Though I will say that going to thrift stores and antique shops is an active way that I DO give myself self care. But shopping just for the sake of shopping, because I’ve had a bad day? I need to cut myself off. I don’t need more books. I don’t need more clothes. I don’t need more clutter. Whenever the urge to mindlessly shop hits, I want to stop and take stock in what I already have. I think this is a weird habit that maybe only people with the same love language can understand. Gift giving (and receiving) is my love language. And in many circumstances, especially around my birthday and other holidays, I like to shop for myself. I like to give myself gifts because it does fill me up, even if it sounds to people with all other love languages like a ridiculous excuse. That’s how my love tank works, though. I just need to cut back.

RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Get My Family Back.
    I feel like I’ve lost them this last year. Or…they’ve left me behind? You know how in most families the mom is the glue that holds everyone together? That’s not really the dynamic in our household. Yes, I do all the organizing and shopping and cooking and school things- all the behind the scenes stuff that makes a household run relatively smoothly. But I’m not¬†there. I’m not actively present for so many little life moments. Part of the reason is because I just don’t feel like I fit in with them. They love video games. They love Legos. They love complicated board games that always end in screaming and tears. I don’t want to sit in a room with them and watch them play video games all night when there is ALWAYS a huge running list in my head of other things I want to do. Another reason I’ve lost them is that I’ve honestly just stopped trying. The truth, which I should stop using as an excuse, is that Caden never wants to do ANYTHING. I love getting out of the house with my kids and even the tiniest request is always, always, always met with extreme outrage from him. I got really sick of fighting it. If he doesn’t want to do things with me, then what’s the point of fighting it out? It’s SO MUCH EASIER to just drop it. Walk away. Go live on my side of the house where I can at least spend my time doing something productive, even if it’s not the connecting activity I was hoping for. But it finally occurred to me the other day that I’m still the mom. I’m not allowed to give up on my kids. I try so hard to almost never push him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. But it’s come at the cost of me feeling emotionally empty with my own family. Empty and a more than a little resentful because it feels like they’re not letting me live the life I really want to live. They don’t need me anymore. They certainly don’t want me. Daddy is their everything. But it’s time to do a little fighting back and not give up.
  2. Prioritize Marriage.
    I was looking through all my instagram pictures last night trying to pick out the best memories of the year. One of those was a picture of Greg and I when we cut out of someplace we were supposed to be to do something for ourselves. It was definitely met with a little outrage, but for once we didn’t care. We have to stop letting our need to please other people always make our own relationship slide to the back burner. We also need to stop letting our kids rule the roost. I just want to approach our relationship as being one of my highest priorities this year. Because it’s not, for either of us.
  3. Make Friendships Important.
    It’s so easy to let this slide in the craziness of family life. You begin falling into the trap thinking that you don’t actually need friends because your life is so full and busy with your family. And the reality is that making time for friends is HARD WORK. No matter how much fun you had the last time you were together, it’s still so hard to get out the door the next time something comes up. But it’s important. It really, really is. And even though I know it’s going to require ME to make the effort, I’m not going to give up this year. I need my friends. And I’d like to hope that they might need me a little too.

WORK

  1. Set Work Hours – It’s just a job!
    This is a really hard for one for me. Without the clearly defined boundary of leaving my house to go to an office, I am surrounded by and often consumed by work all the time. I often think of it and act like it’s my entire life. Especially when I’m in the middle of a big batch of dolls. Setting it aside for anything feels like a huge loss to my productivity. But working from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed does NOTHING for my personal happiness. It burns me out, stresses me out, and makes me feel extremely resentful of everything I’m missing out on. The ridiculous thing is that I put all of this on myself! I have no clock to punch and no boss to demand more of me. It’s just me. I have the freedom and because of that I feel like I owe it to everyone to put in my absolute best effort every waking minute. But I don’t want to live like that anymore! So set work hours it is. Preferably – just when my kids are at school! I’d really like to end at 3pm when I go to pick them up every day. And maybe a little bit more until dinnertime if they’re busy doing other things. But I really want to limit myself to only working one evening per week and one weekend per month – and only if I absolutely feel like it’s completely necessary. It’s just a job. And I’ll have a much richer life and a lot more joy if I start treating it like it’s not the be all and end all of my existence.
  2. Give Myself Grace.
    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m just one person in an actively creative and artistic career. If I want to do my best and maintain a level of care and precision in my dollmaking, I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month. Yes, the income from a hundred dolls a month would be incredible! But it’s just not going to happen. I also need to remember that there are a few months of the year (May, September, December) that are just SO busy with actual life events, it’s really hard to keep up with sewing. I want my life to be my priority. And I want to give myself the grace to let up a little in those months. Take breaks when I need them. I DO have this freedom and I should let it GIVE me freedom to do what I need instead of letting it restrict me to feeling like I’m never doing enough, the way it has this last year.
  3. Work in Smaller Batches.
    I also need to remember that this is actually a business and I’d like it to continue being successful! And while I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month, I can do my best to continually produce my best work. And my best work is often done when I only make a couple of dolls at a time. I get excited about all the details and really make my most precious dolls when I’m not struggling to get through a never ending pile of arms and legs. It’s also a lot better for business to be releasing new dolls every few days instead of every few weeks. When people are always watching for something new they get a lot more excited and immediately purchase those new dolls. It often feels counterproductive to make three dolls vs. twelve, but it’s worth it in the long run. For business and for my own wellbeing!

HOBBIES

  1. Read, read, read!
    Reading is my favorite thing ever. But lately when I’m stressed I find myself reaching for my phone to mindlessly scroll instead of picking up my kindle which is also always within reach. Books are going to enrich my life a whole lot more than my phone. I mostly read for entertainment and escape, but this year I’d like to put a little more emphasis on the nonfiction books that could uplift and change my heart. I have so many of them already in my possession, it’s time to crack them open!
  2. Write, write, write!
    I’m really loving having this blog as an outlet for a different form of creativity. For awhile I was hoping that it might grow into something more. But I’m realizing that’s probably a whole lot harder than I expected. And that’s okay. I’m making a small, but valuable income making dolls. And I love doing that. I don’t need to make money writing. It’s worth it for me to just have the availability to pour out my words on a page. Even though I’m pretty sure the only people that read this are my mom, my mother-in-law, my neighbor, and my best friend. (Hello, and thank you!) But that’s okay. It’s more about what writing can do for ME. I love it and I’m not going to stop.
  3. Bullet Journal!
    Because I apparently don’t have enough creative outlets in my life already, I decided to try out bullet journaling again this year. And I’m super excited about it! I’ve found ways to integrate actual journaling, habit tracking, and lists galore so it’s more than just writing down my daily to dos. I don’t want to get ahead of myself the way I did last time I tried this out a few years ago. But I’ve invested in some fun stencils and washi tape to really make the book more of a fun and artistic expression that I guess I can’t find in sewing or writing!

Well, I think that’s it! Longest New Year’s resolution list ever. You’ll be happy to know that in the middle of writing, Caden came up and asked me to play a board game with him. I immediately stopped and we played. Progress already, on day one!

My Favorite Books of 2017

I’ve been more than a little obsessed with reading every top books of the year list I’ve been able to find online these last few weeks. Sometimes I think I might like reading about and finding amazing sounding books more than I like actually reading. You can never be disappointed in a book if you’re only hearing about how great it is! But¬†don’t worry – reading will NEVER not be a part of my daily life. ūüôā It’s just terribly exciting to know how many amazing books are out there waiting for me to discover!

This year’s list of favorites is another eclectic mix of genres and writing styles. YA continues to be at the top of my list because I often find it delightful and tingly, without all of the hardship and realism that comes with adulting. I’m also discovering how much I enjoy memoirs. Basically, I fall in love with any book that completely manipulates my emotions to the extreme. I love books that make me cry and books that make me laugh out loud. I crave books that I can’t put down and yet want to read as slowly as possible to savor every delicious word. I don’t read a ton of literary fiction, so my top book list looks a lot different than most of the more official lists out there. But I’m confident that just about any one of these books would be loved and adored by most. So check them out!

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

This list isn’t in any particular order, but I will say that this was my all time favorite of the year. Perhaps favorite of all time? It made me cry over and over again. For beautiful and tender and joyous reasons! It’s the kind of book that will restore your faith in mankind because it is just so GOOD. Read it.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

This is an extremely powerful memoir that you’ll have a hard time believing is actually true. It reads like a novel and is completely fascinating. You’ll follow the childhood of Ruth and her family as they struggle heavily in a Mormon polygamist colony in Mexico. It’s heartbreaking yet uplifting. It’s an amazing book that I will never forget.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

This book almost wrecked me. It followed my favorite trope of characters writing letters to each other while not knowing who the other person is in real life. But it’s deep. And so heavy. Which maybe doesn’t appeal to a lot of people! It’s probably not what I’d want to hear in a recommendation. But it’s also beautiful and lovely. You can read my whole review on it here.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

So give me any book where the main characters fall for each other both through anonymous letter/email writing and in person and I’m probably going to adore it. I liked this one because Bailey was actively trying to slueth out her mystery man, going so far as to move across country to where he lived, without telling him. It was a lighter read, but had great character development that left me truly rooting for the best of each person.

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Historical fiction is not my favorite. Fiction is that spans multiple generations is also something I actively avoid when picking out a book. But this one? It has both and was incredibly captivating. It’s a story about the Romanov family during the war and a young soldier named Dmitri who was immensely in love with the daughter Tatiana. You follow Dmitri, as well as his great-granddaughter who is trying to piece together his secrets with very few clues to go on. It was a great read.

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys

Last year Sepetys’ book¬†Between Shades of Gray was also one of my top reads. Both explore things that happened during WWII that I was completely unaware of and never heard about in a single history lesson. This is about a ragtag group of people who walk across Germany trying to catch their freedom on a boat across the Baltic Sea. It’s harrowing and heavy, but will stay with you for a long time.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

I don’t read many mysteries, but when I do they always surprise me. This was a really great one about a woman who is known for finding missing children. Chapters alternate between her and the eight year old girl she is looking for, who has been lost for three years. It’s surprisingly imaginative and hopeful despite the dreary circumstances that bring them together. Truly a fantastic book. Read my full review here.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover for the win! Again! Her books are all my favorites. This one strayed from her typical romance a bit and revolved more around a dysfunctional hodgepodge mix of a family. The characters were highly flawed, but incredibly relatable. Her books always give me all the feels and this was one of the best. Full review here.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

The theme of this book is about how much stock you put into your own physical beauty (or lack of) and how it shapes you as an individual. It’s a beautiful story about friendship, love, and loss. The characters were all amazing. If you can get past the third person point of view which was a little odd, this book is amazing.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

This is my third time writing about this in the last week or two, but it was truly one of my favorites of the year. It was just so incredibly delightful! It was also exciting that I never would have found it if I weren’t wandering around Barnes and Noble one night. My window shopping trips through bookstores can sometimes result in a treasure! I mean, this isn’t the great American novel by any means. But it was a really fun and laughter filled Christmas book that I look forward to reading again next year!

And that’s my list! I guess I actually kept it to my top ten! What have been your favorites this year??

Saturday Reflections 12.30.2017

So I sat down at my computer to write a post about my favorite books of the year. But I’m not really feeling it at the moment. I think I need to ramble a little bit about this Christmas vacation, something I didn’t plan on writing about at all this week. But here I am.

This has probably been¬†the most uneventful Christmas break yet. We’ve all been tired and cranky and OH so irritable. The boys have been at each other’s throats and¬†both of them are just a huge emotional meltdowns waiting to happen. Greg and I got in a massive fight about it on Tuesday, which certainly hasn’t helped make this week any better. Greg thinks Christmas is hard on them because I do too many things earlier in the month and that wears them out. Examples being a big St. Nick’s Day and Twinkle the Elf moving locations every day. (Which for the record, helps them wake up every morning of the month with a smile or laugh instead of whining and arguing about something.) I think they’re difficult at Christmas because we do way too many things in a very short time period and the expectations for them to be happy and excited is just too much pressure. This is the second year in a row of the huge extended family party happening on the 23rd. And both years it has really put a strain on all of us to be rested and happy on the 24th and 25th. The 24th is the most important and most exciting day in our holiday rush and I want to go into it being happy and relaxed. It’s just too much. I understand why the big party is that day with so many people traveling. But it a strain, especially on our child that doesn’t ever want to go anywhere for any reason whatsoever, especially day after day after day. Anyway, I’m sure it’s just a mix of everything. And all that stuff is fun! But it’s overwhelming. Especially for Caden. Which in turn makes it so much harder on the rest of us. Consider yourselves lucky that you don’t see just how hard it is to get him out the door – EVER.

At any rate, I had very low expectations for this week! I was highly looking forward to a week off of work to just read, rest, relax. And I did it! I think I’ve read four books in the last five days. I’ve also spent a huge amount of time setting up a new bullet journal for 2018, which I’m extremely excited about! I set up my regular calendars (two this year to hopefully increase my productivity!). And I did the bare minimum of household chores. I did go clearance shopping on Tuesday morning and we went to the dog park twice. But I’ve been a total recluse the rest of the time, which I’m kind of okay with! I feel bad because I did plan on taking the boys swimming, but the idea of going swimming when it’s negative temperatures outside was just more than I could handle. I actually wanted to go sledding, but it was just too cold. So home we stayed. Reading, playing video games, and snapping at each other over everything! Fun times. Fun, for real, but also….yeah. I’ll be very happy when Tuesday morning arrives!

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At the dog park on Wednesday. It’s been soooo cold this week. I’m normally okay with winter. I prefer winter weather to summer weather. I HATE being hot. But now that I actually have to go outside multiple times a day with Annie, winter is becoming a little bit brutal! Temperatures in the teens and twenties? Fine. But negative degrees with even lower wind chills? Not so fun. The one bright spot is this ridiculous looking coat from LL Bean which was worth every penny I spent on it. When I’m wearing my very warm boots there’s only about two inches between the two where my legs are chilled. But it’s otherwise pretty warm!

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Lots of time to play with new presents this week! The boys started their rock tumbler (the one thing I was excited about doing with them, but they did when I went shopping ūüôĀ ). They made rainbow slime. They’ve been doing multiple art projects, shooting nerf guns, playing with balls, reading, and of course playing video games.

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Shepard showing off his sign again. He’s been begging me to hang it outside so everyone knows he lives here.

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I wanted to keep my delivery person treat box out until the new year, but the squirrels caught on to me. This box was overflowing when I set it out that morning and half gone by the time I realized they were taking things. We’ve since found torn open bags of chips, granola bars, and cookies strewn all over the neighborhood. Our neighbors saw one running down the sidewalk with a peanut butter cup. Dang squirrels!

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This week I was desperately craving some home cooked food. I made a giant batch of chicken tamale chili¬†one night and one of our favorites – PF Chang’s Copycat Mongolian Beef another night. I’m hoping in the new year I can be a lot better about making wholesome and delicious meals on a much more regular basis. AND enjoy it.

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Greg went back to work on Thursday and Friday. Thursday we had a super lazy day and the boys went over to their friend’s house for the afternoon. And Friday we went to the dog park and then out to lunch at Culver’s. It wasn’t much, but it was nice to get out of the house for a little bit and do something special. I planned on going out anyway, but they actually asked me before I could say anything. They don’t usually see going to a restaurant as a treat, so it was nice that in this circumstance they did.

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And today’s big accomplishment was getting haircuts. You would not believe how much of a fight one kid puts up about getting his hair cut (not the cute one making cocoa in his new pizza shirt). Like cutting the hairs on his head is literally the same thing as slicing him with a million knives. But it’s done.

And that’s been our week! Emotional, lazy, a little bit productive in creatively fun ways. I didn’t want to stress out about cleaning up or taking down the decorations. But as the break comes to a close I’m getting pretty antsy to move ahead into the new year. I’m excited to start sewing again. I feel fresh and ready to tackle some new projects. I’m hopeful that 2018 will be a much better year and I’m ready to get it started!