A Quick Speed Through December

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December has come and gone in such a whirlwind I’ve barely had time to enjoy it this year. I had so many plans to relax this year and enjoy every tiny moment of the Christmas season. It didn’t happen. πŸ™ In the first week I had the flu. The second week, Greg had the flu and I still did not feel good at all. The third week I was crazy stressed about getting presents done on time. And then it was Christmas. It was a busy and exhausting month with many, many late nights and far too little sleep. There were some highlights, though, so I want to skim through them before I write my next post on Christmas itself.

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December first – the first day of Advent. After much debate I gave in and bought a Lego Advent calendar this year so the boys could each open a door every day, rather than always fighting over the one.

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I also went to my goddaughter McKenna’s birthday party on the first. She’s so big already!

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I gave her my very first playable Annie. She opened it and immediately hugged her. So sweet. πŸ™‚

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Such a cutie!

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December sixth was St. Nick’s Day. Twinkle our elf was pretty lazy this year. Most days he really just sat on various shelves. Occasionally he’d do something a little more exciting. πŸ™‚ I did St. Nick presents a little different this year by giving everyone a shared huge Lego set and individual candy for each person. I think that might be the new tradition.

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On December 7th I took part in my very first craft fair! I signed up for this craft fair in June, right after I started Heartstring Annie and was desperate for customers. I then spent six months stressing over it and if I’d have enough inventory.

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It was a very long day (still right after my flu, so I was exhausted to begin with!), but I made a few worthwhile sales. Overall it was a good experience, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again for awhile. I’d rather just sell online if I can and maybe once Shepard is in school full time I’ll think about doing more and bigger craft fairs.

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A week later, we finally did one of those memorable family experiences I was hoping to be doing all month long. We put together a gingerbread train.

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Greg was in charge of frosting…

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The boys were taking their decorating very seriously!

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The final train. I thought it turned out quite nicely for a two and five year old’s handiwork!

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After the craft fair was over my goal for the rest of the month was to sew everyone a handmade gift for Christmas. It was fun to take a break from Annie’s and try out a lot of new things. These are the bags I made for all of Caden’s teachers.

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Christmas mice for my mother-in-law. I’m in love with them.

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Standing teddy bears for my mom and I. I’ve been admiring this pattern from Sweet Meadows Farm for months and finally decided to give it a try. I was hesitant since I needed to cut dowels, drill holes, and stain wood, but I think it was worth all the effort. So cute.

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I made a few Annies for relatives, as well as trivets, mug rugs, tote bags, and book covers. Lots of new experiences!
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I also took a day to make something for myself. These turned out SO cute.

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Sometime around Thanksgiving I made a vow to go on a weekly date with Caden. And then something come up every time I planned on going out with him. Finally on the 17th we had our first date. We went to Chili’s for dinner and then Barnes and Noble so he could pick out a calendar. Despite his expression in this photo, I think he had a really good time. I hope once the holiday season dies down, we really can make this into a weekly tradition. Caden and I have such a rocky relationship at home and as soon as we leave the house together everything gets so much better.

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Just a cute picture of my babe.

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The 19th was Caden’s last day of school before Christmas and also his winter program. It was adorable to watch and he did so well! Last year he seemed kind of hesitant to get into the songs, but this year he was singing his heart out. πŸ™‚

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At the end of the program, Santa appeared! We avoided Santa all month because Caden didn’t want to see him, but he went fairly willingly that day.

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Then Shepard, who was scared to death of Santa last year, was all smiles and giggles.

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One thing I totally slacked on this year was baking. I usually spend the entire month baking! Sewing has definitely changed my life in that regard. Finally, because I decided to make SOMETHING, I decided on three simple cookies. Shepard was my helper.

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On the 20th, my best friend Dianne and her boyfriend Jack were in town for one night. She lives in DC, so I don’t get to see her very often, even though we talk almost daily. It was so nice to go on a nice date together downtown.

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I love our annual Christmas dates in downtown Madison.
The 21st is my dad’s birthday, though we weren’t able to see him. Being a Fedex driver around Christmas is bad enough, but when your birthday is right around then too you’re too busy working to enjoy much. Shepard and I did make him some chocolate peanut butter cookies, though.
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And finally, we had our first huge extended family Christmas party on the 21st. I didn’t take many pictures because it was super loud and chaotic, but we all had a nice time. Santa showed up there too and brought the boys each a change counting bank. A great idea, though it’s now made my children obsessed with money and given them yet another reason to fight, fight, fight. That seems to be all they ever do anymore. πŸ™
Anyway – that was December! It was quick! Christmas overview coming up next…

 

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Thankful

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As this month of thankfulness nears its end, I wanted to take some time to focus on the people and things that I am most grateful for in my life.

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Greg

I don’t know where I would be today without Greg’s unconditional love and support in our relationship. We’ve almost been together for half of our lives now, which always feels like such a blessing. Not many couples are able to go through so many growing phases together, and I’m so glad we got to be one of them. While marriage (and parenting!) can be tough at times, I know that Greg is by my side and going through it too. He’s the only one that can completely understand me and I love him for it. I am also thankful that Greg is a very hard worker and an amazing provider, allowing me to stay home for our boys’ early years. He’s also an incredible dad – better than I ever could have imagined. He is much more patient than me, much more rational, and he is always able to make me laugh.Β  I am so blessed to have Greg as my husband.

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Caden

Oh, Caden. Though my relationship with him has been put through more trials than I can count over the years, especially most recently, I cannot imagine my life without him. He can be so sweet sometimes. He truly has a good heart and is only looking for confirmation of our love returned to him. He is incredibly smart – we’ve been told that so many times by people and of course seen it on our own too. I’m excited to see what his future holds and which direction he’ll take. Caden is also creative and generous. He loves to make gifts for other people, he loves helping me in the kitchen, and he shows interest in absolutely everything Greg and I ever do. He wants to be just like his Daddy with their love for video games, and he’s also excited to learn how to sew and bake with me. He never wants to be alone, which is very trying at times, but it’s better than having a child who wants nothing to do with us. Caden is a good big brother and as he starts to gain more confidence in himself, he’s becoming a good friend too. I love Caden so much and I am glad to have him as my first born son.


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Β Shepard

Shepard is by far the burst of sunshine in my life. He keeps me laughing and reminds me how much fun simply being alive can be. While Greg, Caden, and I are very reserved in our expressions and emotions, Shepard is a refreshing breath of fresh air with his constant exclamations and joy. I can’t even tell you how many times a day he begins a sentence with “I love.” “I love snow, mom! I love these boots! I love this movie! I love Elmo!” It’s adorable, sweet, and kind of hilarious.Β  Shepard may only be two, but he’s open and affectionate in ways I never saw from Caden. He’s not perfect, believe me, but he brings so much happiness to everyone who knows him. I am thankful every day that I didn’t get that daughter I longed for and was instead blessed with this beautiful and entertaining little boy.

Parents

I am so thankful to live near and have such support from my parents and in-laws. It’s wonderful to know that they’re here for me, but even more great to know that they’re here for the boys. Grandparent relationships were a huge part of mine and Greg’s childhoods and I’m so glad that my children get to experience that too. It’s kind of nice that because they’re the only grandchildren on each side they get even extra attention (though I do REALLY hope they get cousins someday!). But back to our parents. They have taught us how to work hard and love deeply. They’ve taught us the importance of family above all else. And they’ve raised us to the be people we are to be and I am so grateful for them.

Siblings

I am grateful for my brothers and sisters-in-law. Though distance now separates most of us, we will always have a shared past and common bond. I don’t always appreciate the relationships with my siblings the way that I should, but I’m still happy that they exist. I’m also thrilled that they love my children and take their roles as aunts and uncles seriously. It kind of helps that once again, they’re the only kids around, so they get a lot of extra love and attention. Caden and Shepard are always SO excited to see their aunts and uncles. I am so thankful that they are in our lives and I’m excited to spend extra time with most of them in the upcoming month.

Friends

Friendships are pretty hard for me, which makes my existing ones so much more important. I am particularly thankful for my best friend Dianne, who has been by my side since kindergarten. We haven’t lived by each other in years, but we talk on a daily basis and I don’t know what I would do without her. I’m also incredibly thankful for my friend Liz. We met at my wedding rehearsal when she accompanied the best man and stood in as my maid of honor for the rehearsed ceremony. We seemed to bond instantly and now that we live near each other again, we talk often and try to see each other when we can. Like I said before, it’s really hard for me to open up to people and develop actual friendships, but when it comes easy for me I know that I’ve gained a friend for life.

McKenna

McKenna is my goddaughter and daughter of my longtime friend, Dana. Though I’ve only seen McKenna a handful of times in her year of life, I think of her often. Dana knew how much I wanted a daughter and that I’m never going to have one, so she gave me the gift of a goddaughter instead. I hope that as McKenna gets older we can develop a lasting bond and I’ll become as important to her as she currently is to me. I’m so thankful for her.

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Heartstring Annie

I began Heartstring Annie a mere seven months ago, but it has given me a sense of worth that I didn’t even realize I so badly needed. I’ve always been a creative person, which has been expressed through various mediums throughout my life. I feel like I’ve finally found a passion that will last, though. I love making dolls and bears and bags. I feel so accomplished when I can turn a pile of fabric into something adorable, useful, and appreciated. This business has also given me a source of independence from the rest of my life, allowing me to be an individual instead of just a tired and run down mommy.Β  As I wade my way through the world of other primitive sewers and buyers, I’m developing friendships and building dreams for what I want to do in the future. Something that has been missing in my life since I had kids and refused to ever think of what would come next because the emptiness terrified me. Though my housework has seriously suffered since I began, I am so so grateful to have Heartstring Annie in my life.

I am blessed. πŸ™‚

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Struggling

I’ve had a lot going through my mind the last few weeks and I’m to the point where I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t get some of it out, even if nobody reads this or nobody cares.

Life has been HARD lately. Very hard. We have been having some major difficulties with Caden and I feel like it’s tearing us all apart. I’m on the fence about if I should keep these battles private or if I should share them and perhaps find some support in other people that might be going through the same battles. The problem is that I feel like when I do start to share, the majority of people think I must be exaggerating or start to attack me for daring to say something negative about my child. People don’t believe me and I think that’s one of the hardest things to deal with.

The truth is, Caden has become a very angry and very violent child. He’s not like this at school, he’s not usually like this around strangers or extended family. But at home? It’s a completely different story. Caden hits, kicks, pinches, spits, bites, and throws things at me on a daily basis. Usually many, many, MANY times a day.  He does the same to Greg and the worst part – he does the same to Shepard. The other day Caden was hitting me with an umbrella. His newest thing is throwing objects at me, most often – kitchen chairs. He’s five years old. And he’s throwing kitchen chairs at me. I am devastated by what this is putting everybody through and I’m terrified of what he’s going to be like when he’s older if he continues on this path.

We shared some of our concerns with Caden’s pediatrician last month and she strongly suggested we start seeing a therapist to help Caden deal with his anger. For the last few weeks we’ve been going to a therapist now and though she seems to have some great ideas, Caden’s behavior has amplified considerably with the changes we’ve made. It’s getting harder and harder to see the good things in him when he spends so much of his day screaming at and attacking me. I feel very hopeless and very alone.

I love Caden and I always will. But we’ve had so many emotional struggles during his short life. We’ve struggled – and still struggle with – his speech apraxia and inability to be understood by most people, at least the first and second time he repeats himself. I know he must be hurting too in ways I probably can’t understand. He’s frustrated and feels like the only time he can let that go is in the safety of his own home. But…he’s hurting us. Physically, emotionally, deeply. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way. 

Halloween Fun

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Happy Halloween! Once again I planned on writing a bunch of smaller posts this week, but it’s been crazy busy and I’m once again doing a gigantic post. Sorry! Anyway – we started our Halloween fun off last weekend when the boys had a sleepover at grandma’s. Caden harvested his sunflower into a smiley face.

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On Saturday morning a large group of us went to Waldvogel’s, a local farm filled with fall activities.

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Getting tall!

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On the “train.” It was FREEZING and so windy.

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Shepard has hit the age where he does a lot more fake smiles than real ones. So sad. πŸ™

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The gigantic tunnel slide.

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Sweet little baby goat. I want to keep him.
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The boys opted for cupcakes this trip. And then threw fits that they couldn’t get caramel apples after their cupcakes.

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Sunday afternoon was trick-or-treating. We stopped at Grandma’s house first for treats.

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Finally ready! These costumes were almost the death of me. I spent every single minute one entire weekend working on them – plus a few afternoons. I guess they turned out pretty well, though, except for the hem on Caden’s pants!

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I like how even Juno has a cheesy smile in this picture.

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The poor pig and bumblebee had to stay inside.

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Trick or treating! The boys did really well. I was a little nervous when at the first house the lady gave Caden candy first and then Shepard yelled, “Give me candy too!”

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Door to door service.

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Their loot! And more fake smiles. I don’t think Shepard had a real smile all night. He seemed really tired and bothered by his mustache and went through everything in kind of a daze.

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Loading up the bags again. Caden counted later and they had 193 pieces of candy.

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On Monday night we finally got around to carving pumpkins. Caden was so proud of the face he colored on ahead of time.

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And then Daddy sliced right through the face and by the time he was cutting he wore all the marker off!

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They were not very enthusiastic about digging the guts out!

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Caden very delicately scooped a couple of seeds out and then spent the rest of the time bossing us around to make sure we got all of them.

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Scooping away.img_0682-pumpkin-family

 

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It was a really nice night in the midst of a pretty difficult week.

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Last night we had our official Halloween party, which I guess is now an annual tradition! Last year I didn’t make a ton of food and I went way overboard this year. It was great, though. Above is a chocolate graveyard dip I made to go with fruit.

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Monster fingers. Or gorilla fingers.

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Pumpkin seeds.

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Frozen banana ghosts.

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This was my favorite scary thing – eyeball punch! It was super easy too. Just buy a can of lychees, stuff them with blueberries and freeze. The punch itself is just a mix of 7up and Hawaiian Punch.

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Spiderweb dips my mom made.

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Dirt and worm cupcakes my mom made.

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Witch hats and broomsticks my mom made.

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Pizza bread snake. This was my favorite thing to eat! It was pizza dough combined with diced pepperoni, green peppers, garlic, and parmesan cheese and then stuffed with a ring of mozzarella cheese. So delicious.

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Mummy hot dogs.

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After we all stuffed ourselves, we built the Halloween puzzle together.

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That’s a lot of people putting together a 100 piece puzzle!

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And that’s it! It was a great Halloween!

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