Saturday Reflections 06.08.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Intentions 06.02.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s about it! Happy summer!

June 2019 Goals

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

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

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

1¬†–¬†Read¬†like¬†it’s¬†my¬†job!

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

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

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

3¬†–¬†Embrace¬†the¬†chaos

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

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

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

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

Saturday Reflections 06.01.2019

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 2019 Reflections

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

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

1¬†–¬†Have¬†an¬†awesome¬†vacation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Watched May 2019

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

TV –¬†ALONE

The Resident

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

Modern Family

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

Jane the Virgin

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

Good Girls

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

Single Parents

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

A.P. Bio

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

Life in Pieces

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

The Good Fight

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

Whiskey Cavelier

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

iZombie

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

Sneaky Pete

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

The Bachelorette

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

Dirty John

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

TV¬†–¬†TOGETHER

Killing Eve

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

The Umbrella Academy

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

You’re¬†the¬†Worst

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

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Meh. Same old, same old.

Superstore

Ditto.

MOVIES

The New Romantic

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

The Hustle

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

What I Read May 2019

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

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Rating: 3 stars

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

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

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

Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever
Rating: 3 stars

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

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

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

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Rating: 5* stars

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

The Big Bottom Biscuit by Michael Volpatt
Rating: 4.5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorial Weekend Reflections and Intentions 05.26.2019

So I somehow thought this past week was going to be less busy than the week before. I was wrong. I continue to wallow in this state of disbelief over how busy the month of May has been. Every single night – again! Plus plenty of extra things going on during the day too. It’s so exhausting. But it’s almost over. Shockingly, my thoughts have turned and I think I’m actually excited about summer! At least life can’t continue to be THIS crazy, right?!

Last Sunday I was finally able to start the giveaway celebrating six years of doll making. I had around 400 entries and over 12,000 people saw the post. I don’t often pay much attention the stats – I just want to sell my dolls! But it’s cool to think about how many people glanced at this picture. The giveaway, plus an additional discount code on Friday and Saturday, helped make up for weeks of almost no sales. I just wish I could keep up that momentum all the time. My inventory is pretty low at the moment, so I won’t have any more weeks like this until I’m pushing out a lot more dolls.

The only other thing we did of note last Sunday was go on a family bike ride. I mention it because it’s the first time I’ve ridden my bike since I broke my ankle. I was proud of myself for being able to do. But even though we only biked about half an hour, it somehow messed up ankle up really bad. This has been an awful week, pain-wise. I’d say I’m hurting as bad as I did last summer. Which is honestly just really discouraging. Am I ever going to fully heal? The doctor last December didn’t sound that optimistic about it ever feeling better than it did then. And now it feels worse. The first few days I thought maybe it was a good idea to push myself in a different way. A full week later and the pain even worse, I’m thinking biking is no longer going to be part of my future. It sucks.

On Monday I took Annie to the dog park and then spent most of my day in the kitchen making biscuits from this new cookbook I got last month. They turned out amazing! I shouldn’t make them too often, though, because I wanted to eat them at every meal and for snacks in between. Definitely the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I also made aioli and bacon and jalapeno jam and roasted tomatoes to make the blt on the cover of the cookbook. Unfortunately, the biscuits were so delicate they couldn’t hold up to being a sandwich, so it didn’t work out. But everything was still delicious.

Shepard had a soccer game on Monday night. He decided at the last minute he wanted to bike to the park, which meant Greg, Annie, and I had to speed walk to try to keep him in sight. I think it was a big contributing factor to my pain levels this week. Annie was pretty tired too! The soccer game was a lot of fun, though.

Even though the cats LOVE to be by Caden, this is the first time Jack ever settled in on his lap, so he was pretty happy!

Tuesday I tried to get down to business and work as much as I could. Jack, my ever present daytime helper. He knows how much I love brushing cat hair off of everything and fighting to keep him from sneezing on my finished dolls.

This was new! When Jack woke up and realized Annie had snuck up to cuddle with him he moved on to the arm and fell back to sleep.

On Tuesday afternoon Shepard’s class did a poetry reading at the library. It was short and sweet. ūüôā Greg and his parents came to watch too. Nobody can ever say my kids aren’t surrounded by love and support! I think Greg’s parents came to Columbus SEVEN times this week for them. They are fully committed grandparents!

In the evening Caden had a choir/recorder concert. We ate at Culver’s first. The concert was definitely interesting with all those fresh band students. I’m not sure instruments are Caden’s thing, but he sure loved singing!

Posing with his recorder next to his art project.

On Wednesday the boys decided it was about time they started using the breakfast bar at breakfastime. So far they’ve been fully committed each morning!

I worked all morning and then met my friend Deja at the dog park for a playdate. I was able to sneak in a nap back at home after with my favorite nap buddy.

I met the boys on their walk home from school and we went over to the new farmer’s market. It’s not very big yet, but is getting a lot of buzz. The boys both picked out popcorn, fresh squeezed lemonade, and some hot stix. We’re hoping to get some more meat and plants from Shepard’s school’s booth this week. Hopefully we’ll make it a weekly tradition this summer to head over there and see what we can find.

Shepard had his last official soccer game on Wednesday night. It was intense! For a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds, I think they really learned how to work as a team over the month they were together. They still lost every game, but they really improved each time. The coach was amazing and it was a great experience for Shepard.

I was working up until the last minute before the game and was able to get this batch of dolls listed after. They turned out so cute! Patriotic colors, but only two of them were actually patriotic themed. They all sold by Saturday.

I somehow managed to push off my big errand day until Thursday! We normally can’t survive the week unless I go right away on Mondays. I was happy to finally have some Qdoba for lunch too.

Then I picked Shepard up from school early to get his staples removed. It was much less painful than getting them in, he said. Notice he’s wearing such long socks, though – on Wednesday when he was biking to soccer he took a tumble and has some awful bruising on one of his legs. He was just as self conscious of that as he was about his staples. On Sunday night he was crying for hours because he was so worried people would make fun of his head. I talked with his teacher and it ended up being okay. I know he told a couple of people himself, but I don’t think anyone made a big deal out of it. I was surprised at how upset he was when he’s normally purposely doing things to stand out – like with his fancy hair cut and wearing tank tops and shorts in 30 degree weather.

Thursday night the boys went to Grandma’s and Greg and I had an at home date night to celebrate the third anniversary of owning our house. I can’t believe how quickly those three years flew by!

Friday was a no photo day! I worked all morning, took a really long nap, and then basically had an emotional breakdown over how exhausted I am. And stressed out. And angry at myself for never getting enough done yet never having time to do the things I really want to do. May has been filled with so many fun things and great memories, but it’s also killing me. I can’t be this busy. I’m falling apart.

And then we had to go to the last soccer practice – a parents vs kids game. It rained all day so it was held in the gym, drastically shortening the field and making the game that much more intense. I didn’t play, but still managed to get my ankle kicked three times. It was really fun to watch, though. The kids got so aggressive playing against their parents! Caden and one of the other older brothers joined the kids team too and he was having a blast. It was close, but the parents finally let up enough to let the kids have a victory.

Yesterday Greg and the boys went to Cedar Lake with his parents and I stayed home to clean the house and get a bunch of food prepped. I somehow thought I was going to FINALLY have time to work on my writing class – the class I was determined to finish this month and haven’t even opened up one single time. But no, it did not happen. I was able to get a short nap in before Hudson, Timmy, and Brittany came over, though. We realized pretty quickly our house is almost toy-free, so we walked over to the school playground to wear off some energy. It was so hot out, though, so we didn’t last long. It was the first day that truly felt like summer. And even though I HATE summer weather, it was kind of a nice reminder of the fun days that DO happen only during the summer months.

We were reading some books and I wanted to take our required selfie, but he wasn’t that into it lol.

Timmy and Brittany wanted to take a nap and I noticed our neighbors were outside, so we went to join them for a toddler pool and popsicle party. Hudson wasn’t too sure about that for a long time either, but he finally got in the water and was having a great time by the time my boys came back home.

I made chicken tacos for dinner – basically my standard guest/party food since they always taste delicious, can be made ahead of time, and are easy crowd pleasers. I also made watermelon agua fresca! I’ve been obsessed with agua frescas since I had one in DC last fall, but they don’t seem to be a thing at Mexican restaurants around here. Now that I realize how easy they are to make, it might become a regular summer thing. I didn’t take a picture, but I also made edible chocolate chip and fluffernutter cookie doughs for dessert. The fluffernutter was SO GOOD.

We spent the rest of the evening outside, checking out all of the neighbors’ toys. ūüôā

Hudson wondering why Caden thinks he needs to hold him down a two foot slide. Caden was loving it, though.

We were able to fit in one cousin pic before they had to leave. Such cuties!

Sunday Intentions

And that brings us to today! Another week. MAYBE a less busy one. After my meltdown on Friday I realized that I need to start forcing myself to make some work related boundaries again. I was so desperate to catch up on dolls after our vacation that I fell back into the habit of working every possible minute of the day and night, and stressing about it every time I was doing something else. I can’t live like that. Working at home is hard enough, I don’t need the added pressure of feeling like I need to spend my entire life sewing. So I actually stacked everything up and put it out of sight for the long weekend. It’s still in the back of my mind, but I want to get better about enjoying the time I have with my family. Seeing weekends the same way most people do.

Our only real plans for today and tomorrow are to start working on garage sale prep. Also something I really do not want to do AT ALL, but it needs to get done. And better to do it when Greg is home to help me. It’s a huge undertaking, but it’ll feel so good to get rid of all the crap we don’t want anymore.

Tomorrow the boys are going to walk in the short local parade. Well, Shepard wants to for sure, Caden can maybe be convinced. And that’s about it for the weekend! I’d also like to catch up on some reading, but…we’ll see.

Tuesday is our 13 year anniversary. We’re hoping to go on a date sometime this week, but nothing has officially been planned yet. I’m tired of making plans.

I think the boys have some school field trips and outdoor days this week. It seems like playing outside is almost all they do the last month of school – at least Shepard’s class. There’s also a pool open house…maybe Thursday? And the library program’s kick off is Friday. A lot of nighttime options this week, but nothing required.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I should spend my last six days home alone working my butt off, or totally relaxing and focusing on self care before the boys are home all the time and I’m losing my mind. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet. I think I might work to get this next batch of patriotic dolls finished up and then I’ll give myself whatever days are left off. Revel in my solitude before it’s gone.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday Reflections 05.18.2019

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget the sunflower seeds!

More selfies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Colorado Vacation

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

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

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

Where they baked their bread.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday

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

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