Sunday Intentions

Well, one week of summer down, twelve to go. This week has had a lot of really fun days and one absolutely horrible, going down in the books as one of the worst days EVER, day. I wanted to try and fit in some adventures this week as summer school already starts tomorrow. There won’t be a lot of opportunity to get out of town between that and afternoon pool trips, which are basically a requirement in summer. (At least for my kids – I could happily live without ever needing to be at the pool!) So we tried to make the most of the week!

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Monday 

On Monday we went over to my mom’s – with Annie – to see how she did with all three of her dogs on their turf. Even though boarding at the vet seemed to go relatively well a few weeks ago, at least from what I can tell, it’d be really nice if occasionally Annie could stay with my mom too. So I actually know what she’s doing during the day. Anyway, Juno (the yellow lab/golden retriever mix) had zero problems with her. And Annie seemed to realize Juno was too old and fragile for playing, so they just sniffed each other and then Annie left her alone. Gracie (the dachshund) was meeting Annie for the second time and a lot more curious than scared, like our first meeting at the dog park. She was occasionally engaging in Annie’s “play” by yipping and running after her. And Pip (the Boston terrier) was just about as vicious as the last time they tried to meet. They were only outside together for a few minutes and Pip never really let up. Though Annie can definitely outrun her and I don’t think she could really do any harm. Anyway, it was a mostly successful trip. We’re trying again in a few days.

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Tuesday

I wanted Tuesday to be a work day for me, but it started bright and early with Caden yelling at me about something, so I knew we needed to get out of the house again. It was a lot cooler at the beginning of the week, so I wanted to spend more time outside while we still could. We decided to take Annie and walk to Fireman’s Park. The boys were having such a great time and decided that they want to walk everywhere this summer so we can take Annie with us. Then they realized Annie can’t go into restaurants, so they nixed that plan! At the playground Annie nicely sat while hordes of little kids pet her. Then she started noticing all the squirrels and couldn’t relax after that. We walked over by the stream and she jumped right in. The first thing she did was squat to pee in it, which the boys thought was hilarious. That excitement really hyped her up, so our walk back was a lot more arm destroying than the walk there. We stopped at another park before going on. All together, about 3.5 miles of walking.

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After lunch, we headed to the pool for quite awhile. It was too cold for me, so I sat and read. Shepard got out and took a little zoning out break. It’s hard for him when we go to the pool and no friends are there and I don’t feel like going in. Caden only wants to hang out in the deep end and Shepard isn’t there yet.

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They always want treats at the pool, but it gets so expensive. So I’m trying to devise a way this summer that they can do extra jobs to earn money to use for treats at the pool. At least they’re actually learning a little bit the value of money that way. And get jobs done. But…they haven’t done a whole lot yet! They were so cute at the front of the line counting out all their nickels and dimes to pay for these treats.

Tuesday was really a great day! I didn’t get a shred of sewing done, but I’m okay with that. I want to be more in the moment with my kids and make sure they’re always the priority these few months we have together. Even when it means I’m really not going to get much done.

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Wednesday

On Wednesday morning we went to the Madison Farmer’s Market. I haven’t been to the Saturday market in awhile and thought it’d be a fun excursion. Caden got one of his favorite, over-priced, spicy beef sticks. I also bought romaine lettuce, cilantro, jalapeno cheese curds, asparagus, and some garlic dip that the boys insisted on.

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We walked around Monona Terrace for a little bit after the market. My mom had never been on top before. We had fun watching a stand up paddle boater zoom across the lake.

After this we drove a few blocks to Gotham Bagels to pick up some of our favorite super egg everything bagels. The guy who waited on us was a super huge jerk about everything, though, and it’s going to be awhile before I go back again. Which sucks because I LOVE those bagels. And their jalapeno garlic cream cheese.

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We ended with a french fry lunch at DiscoFries on State Street. Our third parking place in like a one mile radius. 🙂 I ordered the Southern Fried Chicken Poutine. Everyone else just had fries and dips. I’m not really a huge french fry person, but it was fun to go somewhere unique. And actually, we ended our Madison trip with a stop at Sun Prairie Target. I did some speed shopping while Grandma filled the boys with Starbucks cake pops. 🙂

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Wednesday was also Greg’s dad Steve’s birthday. So we met everyone at Pizza Hut in Beaver Dam for dinner. Greg and I split a four pepper pepperoni pizza with salted pretzel crust, which was actually really good. The boys split boneless wings. Steve and Cindy had a sausage pizza.

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Back at Grandma’s house for presents. We gave Grandpa tickets to the Star Wars themed Mallard’s game on Saturday.

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Some lawn mowing headphones.

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Birthday desserts – lemon meringue pie and flourless chocolate cake.

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Recreating a photo the four of them took on Steve’s birthday six years ago. Kids are much bigger!

Wednesday was also a really nice day! I was feeling pretty happy with how our first few days of summer were going.

Thursday

And then Thursday. Oh, Thursday. It began at 5:45am with Caden screaming at me because he wanted to play tablet. He had his tablet taken away for the week because of how he acted at the end of our time at Grandma’s house on Monday. I gave them back for our drives on Wednesday because he was so good on Tuesday. But we’re trying to establish some screen time rules this summer where they need to clean their rooms and read before they can play. And well, neither of those things happened by 5:45 in the morning, but he didn’t even give me a chance to try and explain that.

So. I don’t want to rehash everything that went wrong that day. But it was horrible. An absolute nightmare of a day. With Caden. And allergies. It’s gotten to the days of grass allergy season where I absolutely want to shred my eyes out of my face they are so itchy. And I’m constantly getting little irritants stuck in them that I can’t get out and make me want to scream. For most of Thursday I could barely even open my eyes. I was so itchy and in pain, I was SO fed up with the way Caden was acting and treating us, it was just a TERRIBLE day.

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On the bright side of Thursday, Willow spent much of the day here playing with Shepard. They seem to be getting along extra well these days. It really helped having someone to keep Shepard busy in the midst of the Caden chaos. Though it was very embarrassing to have another person around to witness him that day. He doesn’t normally act so fiercely when non-family members are around. So I guess he considers Willow part of his inner circle now.

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After Greg got home, I took Shepard and Willow to the pool as a reward for playing so nicely all day.

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They had fun. And were adorable. 🙂

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Friday

Friday was a work day for me. I really needed to get SOME work done. Photo is showing how lately Annie seems to think Jack is her play toy and spends half her day trying to chase him around. He most definitely fights back by smacking her in the head over and over again. But she’s starting to think it’s all good fun and enjoys the occasional chase through the house. I don’t think Jack is too bothered by it. Keeps him young. 🙂 Annie still steers clear of Rory, though the last two days I had both animals in bed with me for a nap. Annie at my feet, right in front of the air conditioner, and Rory pressed up against my face. Fun.

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Willow was over again and all three were playing together fine. No residual drama from the day before. I wish I knew what triggered these days with him. They suck.

Meanwhile – our lego area?? Yeah, legos have taken over this entire room. I’m glad they’re having fun and using their imaginations, really. But I kind of miss my beautiful peaceful room I had all to myself!

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Saturday

Saturday morning was more work for me. I just get so much more done when Greg is home to take care of other things. I don’t like that that’s the way it is. But…it works. I finished up my last patriotic dolls for the year. And I sold four of the six right away, which was awesome. Sales have really dropped the last few months, after record breaking sales earlier in the year. I just need to keep making. Which is very hard in summer.

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Saturday evening we headed to the Mallard’s game! It was super hot out, but I was smart this time and bought tickets so we wouldn’t be facing the sun. It was also super windy, which helped keep things a little bit cooler. I didn’t really feel like it was TOO hot. Anyway, the game was fun!! Usually when we go the boys are so much more interested in walking around and checking out all the kid activities. But this time around we mostly just stayed in our seats and watched the game!

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We all had our unique ballgame dinners and then the boys had cotton candy.

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Grandpa bought them duck whistles. Which made the end of the game so fun. 😛 Actually, the game really heated up in the eighth and ninth inning. We ended up losing, but it was really enjoyable. The boys were even really into the game!

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Cuties.

Sunday

So that brings us to today! We had a birthday party to go to, which was fun. But also kind of miserable because my eyes are little sockets of itchy death again today. Then I got home from the party and randomly saw this article about introverts at social gatherings. It definitely hit home seeing as I just came from a party where I spent the majority of the time by myself, playing with their puppy. I’m getting worse in social situations these days. I don’t know how to be in the thick of friendships anymore. I need work.

This Week

So! The week ahead. Summer school starts in the morning and that’s every day from 8:30-1. It’ll be nice to reclaim a few hours to myself each day. I’m hoping to get a lot of sewing done in that time. I only have 2.5 weeks before REAL summer begins, so I need to make work a priority now.

Top Priority – Work!

Second Priority – Take Care of Myself

I’m not generally a fan of summer. I can’t stand being hot. I loathe being out in the sun. BUT one of my favorite parts of summer is going on adventures, exploring new areas of Wisconsin, and getting treats. Treats, treats, treats. Which is all awesome. But definitely not healthy. So starting this week I’m going to pay a lot more attention to the food I put in my body. Hopefully try harder to think about meals ahead of time so I’m not just snacking on whatever is easiest to find. I continue to gain weight and I know I only have myself to blame. I want to turn things around this summer. For good.

I also want to get back to my exercise goal. Starting with hitting 10,000 steps a day, no matter what. Even if that means I’m taking a walk at 10:00pm. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it means walking in much cooler temperatures, it’ll be worth it!! I’m hoping this week I’ll get most of my walking hours in after I drop the boys off at school. With Annie.

Third Priority – Have Fun!

I need to keep my overall summer goals always in mind. Even though I have more hours to work this week, I still want to have fun. This week that will probably just mean pool time with my kids. And hopefully lots of reading. It will be a good week!

On Friendship

Friendship as an adult is so hard. Friendship as a parent is even harder. You want friends, you need friends, but family has to be a priority. And family life is busy and full and leaves very little room for friendship. At least deep and committed friendships. This is something I’ve really been struggling with the last few months. And to be honest, the last ten years.

When you’re a kid, friendship is so easy and carefree. You find the people that make you happy and you spend as much time with them as possible. You laugh, you play, and you definitely never feel any guilt over the time spent together. You know time with friends will make you happy and you cling to that.

When you’re a teenager, you live for your friendships. Your friends are your allies against the world. You want to spend as much time with them as possible because they understand you. They crave the same kind of connection that you do and they’re willing to sacrifice whatever to keep that friendship alive.

As a young married couple, at least in our experience, you look for friends in the same situation as you. You hope to find couple friends that you can both connect with, You want to be with your spouse as much as possible, and it’s all the more fun when you find another couple that wants to join your circle. It’s still relatively easy and a priority to stay connected.

And then you have kids. Life changes in ways you never even thought possible. It’s probably the time in your life when you need adult friendships the most, but they’re thrown to the wayside. How can you possibly give up time with your precious baby? Family should always come first when a tiny person depends on you. Right?

This is when my dilemma hits. Because I know my family is important and I want to be with them. But I still desperately crave the deep connection with other women. I feel guilty for feeling that way because nobody else seems to feel it. So many of my friends are so enamored with their children and can’t bear the thought of even the occasional night away from them. And I get it…and I don’t. Can’t our friendship sometimes be the priority? Aren’t you lonely too?

Perhaps my problem is that I always expect too much out of friendships. My best friend Dianne and I have been friends for 27 years. From the time we were five and I moved into her neighborhood, we’ve had the greatest bond. Almost all of my childhood memories revolve around time we spent together. It’s certainly gotten harder as we’ve gotten older. Mostly because we haven’t lived in the same part of the country for the last eleven years. But we try to see each other at least once a year in person, and we talk every day. Emails back and forth every single day. It’s not the ideal form of friendship because I wish we could hang out in person. But we’re still so close. She knows about every single up and down in my life because we talk about it. Every day. Because I’ve known and continue to know that deeper level of friendship with my best friend, I want that with other people. And it’s an impossible standard.

Making friends has always been incredibly hard for me. In high school I had Dianne, and I had the people that I worked with. I got a job right at the start of freshman year, so all four years of high school were spent working. Which I don’t regret, because I made some very awesome friends in that time. But then came college and I was thrown into a world I wasn’t prepared for. I had a single dorm room, so I was never forced to spend time with any one person the way most college roommates are. Greg and Dianne were both a mile or two away at the UW campus, so I didn’t feel that huge need to search out other friends. I joined a few things and made some friends, but none those relationships stood the test of time.

After Greg and I got married and moved to Minnesota, it felt even harder. The only reason I made any friends at all was because I got a job and started to get closer to a few people. Greg met a few people at work and we started having game nights and get togethers. We had two couples we felt especially close to and life was feeling pretty good. And then I had Caden. And became a stay at home mom. And never saw anybody because my entire world revolved around him and his needs. It suddenly became impossible to make new friends.

In the years since I birthed that always hungry, never sleeping, heart consuming little person that needed me, I’ve had a different purpose in life. But that’s never changed the fact that I miss friendships with other women SO MUCH. When we moved back to WI, and Caden started speech therapy and then preschool, at least I had opportunity to start meeting people. But I’m very shy, reserved, and taking the initiative to get to know new people was incredibly difficult. I started to make bonds with other parents in Caden’s classes, spending time together over playdates and parties and school events. It was easier to see people for a few minutes a day, share a tidbit of information about life at that moment, and then go back to our mommy duties. I had friends. But it wasn’t enough.

Which I guess brings me to now. The stay at home mom without any kids at home. Want to know how hard it is to keep up with your friends when you no longer have a little one at home to make playdates for?? My days are spent trying to work. Their days are spent watching their kids and having playdates with other friends that still have kids at home during the day. All of our afternoons are packed with after school activities. Evenings are for family dinners and spending quality time together. Nights are spent with our husbands. There’s little to no room for each other in our daily lives. Not in the ways that it really counts.

I do have friends. And I appreciate them. But I miss them, if that makes sense. I’m not very happy with quick exchanges here and there. I want more and I don’t know how to get it. Sometimes I get sick of being the one that always takes initiative. That’s not intuitive to me. It’s not easy for me. But looking back over this last year, if I didn’t take the initiative I never would have done anything with my friends. NOBODY invites me to do things. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to hang out with me!! Or maybe it’s because everyone feels too busy and overwhelmed and just as lost as me at finding better ways to connect and fit our friendships into our lives. It’s a struggle that I don’t really know how to deal with anymore.

Lately I’ve been finding myself becoming more reserved than ever. I want to protect my heart. I’ve had too many friendships over the years fall to pieces over something that could have been worked out, but nobody made the effort. I always get so excited after I have a meaningful conversation with one of my friends. When we actually talk about something beyond the surface stuff. And then it’s weeks before another conversation happens and I simply feel deflated. It takes so much work for so little long term fulfilment.

I wish I had some sort of hopeful and encouraging way to end this post of rambling. One thing I’ve been reminding myself lately is that the friends I have right now do not necessarily need to be the friends I have for the rest of my life. I HOPE to still be friends with some of the wonderful ladies in my life. I hope that as our kids get older we’ll somehow find ways to stay in each other’s lives. But I want to be open to new friendships too. Maybe find the people that feel the same way as me. The women that deeply crave an emotional connection with someone outside of their family walls.

So with summer ahead of me, I’m going to add this as another little goal for myself. I want to try and be more open with the people I usually just say a passing hello to. I want to put out feelers for people that I could get to know a little more. And I want to try harder with the friends I already have, even though it leaves me feeling very uncertain to always be the initiator. TIME is the only way to make a friendship work. Sharing and honesty are important too. I hope I can come out of this summer feeling a lot better than how I’m going in.

School Year Reflections and Summer Intentions

Like it or not, summer is here! Tomorrow is my boys’ last day of school. Today was my last day home alone for three months. Okay, I can’t technically say that because in just over a week they’ll already be starting summer school and I’ll be alone from 8:30-1 every day. Minus walking and waiting time. But still! The life I’ve lived the last nine months is about to drastically change and I’m not so sure I’m ready for it.

School Year Reflections

I had a lot of expectations for this last year. The first year both kids were in school all day, every day. I thought my life would suddenly be so structured and clearly defined. I would actually get stuff done. I fully expected that at least four days a week I would bring my kids to school and then come home, sit down, and work all day. I thought I would actually be on top of things. With children only around to mess up the house a few hours a day, there would be so much less cleaning to do. Dinners would suddenly be easy to put together and get on the table on time every night. I would only sew during the day and fully devote my nights and weekends to my family. I would regularly exercise and feel great about myself. I would have time during the days to have breakfast, coffee, or lunch dates with so many of my friends on a regular basis. I wouldn’t be so tired all of the time.

Want to know how many of those expectations became my reality?? None of them. It’s kind of been a really hard year. Maybe because I put too much pressure on myself and I constantly feel like a failure. It was so discouraging every single day to think about how much I thought this year was going to be different and if anything it felt more chaotic and crazy than ever. At least when I had a kid home with me all day or half a day, I was allowed to sit around and do “nothing” with them. When I’m home alone without kids, I have something to prove so people don’t think I’m sitting around living the privileged life of leisure. Or at least I feel that way. So the pressure is constantly weighing on me and there were VERY few days I actually felt like I had the schedule and peace of mind I was supposed to be having.

First of all – the house is always messy. ALWAYS. It will never all be clean as long as I live with other people. Particularly people who have zero desire to actually find homes for all the possessions they bring into the house. People that couldn’t care less about clean countertops and peaceful spaces. And the laundry! Why is there so much laundry?? I feel like I learned this year why housewives actually exist. There IS enough to keep me busy every minute of the day, even if I wasn’t trying to run my own business on top of it. I don’t know how working moms do it. I really don’t. I feel like I’m drowning in just the daily tasks on a very regular basis. It’s exhausting. The planning, the list making, the organizing, the shopping, the putting everything away, the breakfast making, the lunch packing, the snacks, dinner, more clean up, homework, a constant influx of useless school papers and artwork, random rocks and pieces of junk that are “so special” to the boys, the laundry, the cat responsibilities, the dog responsibilites. It never ends. NEVER.

I somehow thought that being home without kids would afford me more time to see my friends. That definitely didn’t happen. I remember going to coffee with one of them once. I had another friend over for lunch once. Both of those occurrences were in September. I don’t think I’ve done a single thing with any of my friends during the day in the last eight months. I’ve gotten together with friends at night maybe four or five times? In nine months. My entire social calendar has subsisted of thirty second stilted conversations on the playground after school between kids and chaos. It’s been a lonely year.

I also fully expected I could start taking care of myself this year. Ha! I did do pretty well with continuing my long walks back in fall. But when it got too cold and icy I had a hard time keeping up. And then it all slide away over winter and spring. I thought I’d be able to start up again once I got Annie, but it’s been hard. I don’t enjoy walking with her for long periods of time. It’s stressful.

And work! I think that’s been my greatest disappointment this past school year. I was so hoping for clearly defined work hours. And I’m pretty sure all year long I continued to put in the most time at night and on weekends. The constant list of other things that “needed” to be done were almost always the higher priority. I was SO easily distracted this year. Some good distractions, some not so good. But it was nearly impossible for me to just sit down and work for hours at a time. I wanted it to happen, but it was just so dang hard. Around January things did get a lot better. But there are still weeks at a time when I can barely put in two hours a day. I don’t know how to work at home yet. It’s amazing, it’s the dream, right? At least for creative super introverted people. But focus was lacking. So much.

I didn’t really mean to go vent crazy there, but I guess that proves how much of a frustrating disappointment this school year has been. I feel like I failed in every area of my life. And I feel more tired than ever. I’m trying to give myself grace and remember this is only the first year of many. Hopefully Heartstring Annie will be career for a long time. I will hopefully start settling into better routines the longer I’m doing this.

School Year Reflections – Caden

It’s also been a tough year for Caden. Second grade did not seem to be a lot of fun. He really seemed to genuinely enjoy school the last few years. He loves seeing his friends and learning new things. But second grade has been a game changer in a pretty sucky way. I think it has a lot to do with his teacher. She wasn’t terrible by any means, but she was a lot more strict than what he’s had in the past. At the beginning of the year he was always upset about not being able to have a snack break. He doesn’t drink milk, so his few sips of water in the morning definitely didn’t do anything to fill him up. In first grade snack was always the highlight of his day. He took great joy in picking out his snacks every morning. It was really hard for him to go without it. He was always hungry. The only thing we could do to try and alleviate the problem was by sending him extra food for lunch every single day. So hot lunch or not, he brought an extra bag of food every single day.

Besides that, it just seemed like his class never did anything FUN. At their charter school they’re supposed to go on a lot of field trips and field experiences. They’re supposed to spend a lot of time outside and in nature learning. His class didn’t do that. When we finally brought it up to the teacher in February, after many, many months of Caden being upset about going to school, she said that she didn’t trust his class as a whole, which is why they never did any of that. It seemed very unfair, and very against the policies and intentions of the charter school they belong to. I think they went to the woods one time. Once. And had two regular field trips. His class was also often given a list of fun incentives that they would receive at the end of the week if they do well. And every single time that list would be completely taken away by the end of the week. Caden was constantly disappointed and sad that things he was so excited about were taken away from everybody because of the behavior of a few. Obviously I’m not in the classroom and I don’t know what it was truly like for him. But he had a hard time. And it’s contributed to him being a lot more difficult at home again.

I guess the good news is that third grade at their school seems pretty awesome. I think they go to the woods almost every week. They do a ton of gardening. They code all the time. He’s probably going to love it. But I hate that he had to have such a hard year before he could get to that point. I’m dreading Shepard’s second grade year.

School Year Reflections – Shepard

For the most part, Shepard has really grown into himself this year. After crying every single day of preschool and 4K, and then last year’s horrible summer school experience of needing to be held by the teacher, kicking and crying, while I run out the door – I was SO worried about kindergarten. And the first few months were hard. The few days that he had to go to school when Caden stayed home sick were a nightmare. On more than one occasion I had to carry him all the way into his classroom while he was crying and fighting with his life to get away from me, trying to run back home. But for the most part, especially in the last few months, he is FINE. He loves school. He loves seeing his friends. He loves learning new things. He walks down the halls like he owns the place. He’s turning into the class clown I always fully expected he would be. Which isn’t really the best thing to be because it gets him in trouble. But he’s happy, he’s positive, he basically loves life. His attitude about being at school and away from me has done a 180 in the last year. And I’m so thankful for it.

On the downside – he still won’t pee at school. An entire school year, never used the bathroom once, even when we had to stay late for a conference with Caden’s speech teacher and Shepard was crying in agony because he had to go so bad. Nope! No school bathrooms for him. And no accidents either. Just a whole lot of rushing home every single day after school, almost never getting to stay and play the way we used to. I just keep telling myself that one of these days he’ll just make the decision and it’ll all be fine. He’s the most stubborn kid in the world if he doesn’t want to do something, and peeing at school is a big fat no way. It’s INFURIATING, but I guess it’s his choice. And if he can hold it? I guess that’s just the way it’ll be.

Summer Intentions

So! Summer. I hope I can look back in three months and be happy with the way I spent my summer. I hope I don’t have these seem feelings of failure and frustration with myself. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these last few days and came up with three goals for myself. I think if I keep these in mind on a daily basis, I’ll be in for a good summer.

1. Read More

I hereby give myself permission to read as much as I want this summer. I’m always reading fiction, I don’t think I’ve gone a day of my life without it. But I also have stacks and stacks of nonfiction I collect over the years. Books that look so good, but I never get around to reading them because I’m so immersed in my current fiction book. This summer I’d really like to make my to be read piles shrink. I want to read those books that I know will be good for my soul, even though they take me longer because they require so much extra thinking. But I also want to read more of my beloved fiction too. As much as I want, whenever I want to. It’s my summer right!

2. Keep Working, but No Pressure

I want to keep working, but I don’t want it to consume me. My biggest problem is that I always feel very all or nothing about my projects. If I have something started, I want to keep working on it until its done. But if I have nothing started, I let things distract me and it’s so hard to start again. I’d like to always be somewhere in the middle. Have a project going so I always have something to do – IF I need something to do. But I’m not going to stress about it. I’m not going to put super high expectations on myself for productivity in the next three months. But if the boys are busy doing something, the house and laundry situation are mostly under control, I want to work. It will keep me sane.

3. Have Fun!

I like to think of summer as a constant adventure. As I’ve said in the past, I have a hard time connecting with my kids when we’re just sitting around at home. But I absolutely love getting out of the house and trying to find new and exciting things together. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it’s just the getting out that makes it special. I want to have picnics, go to parks, do a little hiking, maybe find some new places to take Annie. I also want to be open to even simpler pleasures. Gardening together, looking for recipes we can make together, setting up the sprinkler, going to the pool every afternoon, family bike rides. I just want to let loose a little and let the fun side of myself out. She doesn’t come out often! I want to make happy memories this summer. As many as I can.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m kind of freaked out that I’m about to go three months without any peace and quiet. But I’m also optimistic that I can make the most of this opportunity. I know that I’m blessed to be able to be at home and have these summers with my kids. There aren’t that many years left and I want to make them the best they can be.

Happy summer, everyone!

What I Read and Watched May 2017

It’s book time! Four 5 Star books in a single month. That’s got to be a record for me. Page turners, tears, deep emotional connections. They have them all. I can’t wait to give you all of my recommendations!

BOOKS

the beauty of darkness

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Rating: 3.5 Stars

If you remember last month, I finished the second book in The Remnant Chronicles series and highly recommended it. I thought the grand finale in the series was a bit disappointing. Still worth reading the trilogy, but this book seemed bogged down with all the political stuff and had very little interesting interaction between the main characters. A lot of emotion was pushed aside to fight for their territories. Which some people love reading about, but I much prefer the inter-character development to be first and foremost in every story.

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Come Back to Me by Mila Gray
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I had a hard time reading this book because I felt so certain I’ve read it before. I realized later that it had a very similar storyline to Karen Kingsbury’s Ever After/Even Now books, which used to be some of my favorites. Anyway, that’s probably not a valid reason to rate a book 2.5 stars – one of the lowest ratings I ever give a book that I actually finish. But it just felt so familiar in a frustrating way. Forbidden romance, tragedy in war, a lot of messed up emotional responses. It wasn’t really for me.

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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Rating: 4 Stars

This is a book about a series of characters that find their way into circus life during WWII. While circus set stories are something I usually tend to avoid, it was interesting to read about how they managed to continue performing in the midst of so much tragedy. The main characters are a former Nazi’s wife who was divorced and sent away because she was Jewish, a young woman who was disowned by her parents when she had her soldier’s born baby taken away right after birth, and another baby that was taken off a train car filled with mostly dead babies on their way to work camps. The only thing that really bothered me about this book was its title. Who was the orphan? Probably only the baby – and the story really wasn’t about him. If I realized this book was about the circus I probably never would have picked it up. But it was definitely another eye opening account of lives set in WWII Europe that I never would have considered until reading this book.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I’ve heard this book recommended on numerous podcasts in the last few months. It’s also a book that Greg read and really liked. We don’t often have the same taste in books, but since it kept coming up, I decided to give it a chance. I do have to say it took me about a full week to read this. It felt SO LONG. The first 20% of the book (thanks, Kindle for the number) was setting up the story. If you can get through that, the rest of the book is much more exciting. It’s about our future world that has become so destitute that just about everybody lives most of their lives in a virtual reality universe. The book was very heavily focused on 80’s nostalgia and video games, which I had no interest in. But the premise was unique and kept my interest to the end.

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Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Rating: 5 Stars

This is a story about the after effects of two families when their parents have an affair. The daughter of the man and the son of the woman meet under random circumstances and instantly have a connection. The boy soon realizes who the girl is, but she is left clueless for most of the book. There is a whole lot of emotion packed into this book and how it feels to be betrayed by those you love the most. People pick up the pieces in different ways and choose to be bitter or choose to forgive. This is definitely one of my favored YA books that I had a hard time putting down. It’s a little on the serious side, but it was good.

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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I never, ever would have picked up this book on my own. But I received it in a book exchange I did a few months ago and felt like I should give it a chance. It’s basically a memoir of a woman who suffered for twenty years from a mysterious illness that left her completely bedridden and unable to do almost anything on her own. A friend brought her a snail that she found out in the woods and the author learned to come to terms with her own existence and contribution to the world by spending her days watching the snail beside her bed. While the book was beautifully written and mildly intriguing, it is still just basically about the life of a snail. I don’t feel any richer for have read it, though I do know a whole lot more about snails!

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Rating: 3 Stars

I bought this book for Caden soon after we got Annie. It’s about a boy and the connection he has to his fox, and I thought Caden might appreciate the similarities between him and his new dog. But he read two pages and said he didn’t like it. So I read it myself! Meant for ages 8-12, it was still a full length book, but had some beautiful pictures thrown in the middle. Each chapter goes back and forth between the boy’s and the fox’s point of view. It was an interesting read. Slightly boring at times. But it had a very bittersweet and appropriate ending. If you or your child is into more introspective books, this might be a good one.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 5 Stars

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. But I kept seeing it every time I went into bookstores – in the YA section, of course. I kind of assumed it was about a carnival, which is much like a circus, and I already said I’m not interested in those. But it wasn’t. This was kind of a dystopian/fantasy type story. Two poorly mistreated sisters sneak away from their father with a handsome sailor and join in the magical game called Caraval. I admit the background information was a bit confusing. It was constantly repeated that Caraval was magical, but also it was just a performance. But if you don’t focus on all of that, the actual story and character interactions were truly wonderful. I love the connection that was made between Scarlett and Julian, the sailor. The only disappointment was getting to the end and realizing that there will be a second book coming. I try not to read books with sequels until they’re both out. I hate waiting!

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If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock
Rating: 5 Stars

I hate waiting, but I did for this one! Though I was extremely upset to get to the end and find out that the story still isn’t over! Anyway, this is the sequel to a book called If I Run. Both books were fabulous. It’s the story of a woman who is wrongly accused of murdering her best friend. She is on the run while trying to find ways to prove her innocence and show that the dirty cops working on her case were also the ones to stage her father’s suicide many years before. The main character, Casey, distantly teems up with the private investigator who was hired to find her, but believes in her innocence. What I love most about these two books is that despite being one of America’s most wanted, Casey is constantly finding ways to reach out and help other people. In the first book she rescues a girl who was kidnapped. In the second book she stops a man from committing suicide and helps a young girl who is forcefully being abused by her parents’ drug dealer. There’s a lot going on, but I love Casey’s clear cut purpose in always doing what is right and fighting injustice. I can’t wait for the third (and hopefully final) chapter in this series.

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Windfall  by Jennifer E. Smith
Rating: 5 Stars

The situational premise of this book is that a girl gives her best friend a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and he wins. Previously very down on his luck with a history of family financial woes, Teddy’s life drastically changes with a sudden 55 million dollars in his possession. Emotionally, this book is about Alice, a girl who lost both of her parents at a young age and despite growing up with a loving aunt, uncle, and cousin, continues to feel lost and alone on many levels. Despite not being an orphan or having any experience with coming into piles of money, this book really resonated with me. There were a lot of tears watching Alice learn to deal with change and truly learn to accept the love around her and let people deeper into her life. While Teddy definitely isn’t my favorite male lead in a book, I enjoyed watching the two of them grow and change throughout the story. I highly recommend this one!

MOVIES

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Greg LOVES the first movie, so of course we had to see the second one right when it came out. We went on a Friday morning, which was fun. I really liked this movie – more than the first. It was so funny! Chris Pratt is just the best.

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Deepwater Horizon

Just another movie I’ve kind of wanted to see and finally got around to watching. It kind of bothered me how they just immediately jumped into the tragedy without much happening ahead of time. I guess it was a bit entertaining, but not that great.

TV – Alone

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I’ve been avoiding watching this Good Wife spin off because I figured it was just the same show, except with Diane instead of Alicia. And I always hated Diane. But really, this show was so good! Definitely worth the watch, even if you’ve never seen The Good Wife.

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I finally caught up with the latest season. Young & Hungry is so ridiculous, you guys. But it never fails to make me laugh out loud either. The main character Gabby is so obnoxious, there are way too many fat jokes, and the on again off again romance between Gabby and Josh feels like it will continue on FOREVER. But it’s still funny. And cute. Good for when you need something lighthearted.

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I think I heard this is the last season of Last Man. It’s okay. I continue watching, but it definitely lost a lot of its earlier charm.

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Still love it! Still recommend it. The newest season is especially good. I love Wednesdays when I can watch the newest episode from the night before.

quantico

I’m not sure if this one has been renewed, but I’m okay if it wasn’t. It finally ended with everybody being happy. I’d like to imagine that’s it, no more insane drama.

modern family

It’s getting old, guys. But…it’s there. I need these sitcoms in the middle of the more serious shows I watch.

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While I’m still bitter about Michael’s death, I am enjoying this season a lot more than I expected.

TV – Together

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Master of None is SO good. I really hated Aziz Ansari for such a long time because of his character Tom on Parks & Rec. But on this show his character is so much deeper, and yet still deeply hilarious. Each episode is like a random slice of Dev’s life. Which I feel makes it really unique, but also slightly frustrating when they act like we should just know who everybody is, when there’s no introduction of them. But overall – I love this show. A lot.

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Watched the finale at the beginning of the month. I’m not going to stop recommending this one. I LOVE IT.

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This season really seemed to drag, but in one of the final episodes when Barry’s memory was taken away and he was suddenly happy and carefree – it was so funny. I hope the show somehow gets back to its humorous side. That’s the reason I’ve always liked this superhero show best.

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While Arrow is not my favorite, I did really like this season’s nemesis.

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I think I maybe liked this show less with every episode. But still thought it was worth watching. I’m interested to see where they go with it next season.

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Still funny. Still makes me laugh so much. Such a good show!

And that’s it! It was a busy month. What have you read or watched?!

11 Year Anniversary Weekend Getaway

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On Sunday we celebrated our 11 year wedding anniversary! Every year we struggle with trying to come up with a unique vacation spot, usually just for a couple days and within easy driving distance from home. This year felt especially hard and I was leaning toward skipping a trip all together. Spring has been super busy, we had a big vacation in fall, we’re going to New Jersey in June, it just felt overwhelming to add one more thing to the calendar. But we were super lucky and there just happened to be a cancellation at A Secret Cottage posted on facebook at the exact time I checked when we were all in the car together – for our actual anniversary weekend! This is the one place Greg really wanted to go back to, so it seemed perfect. He doesn’t usually have much of an opinion on where we go or what we do, so it was really nice we could go somewhere that he loved this year.

A Secret Cottage is an adorable little cottage that we came across when trying to find a place for a fall getaway a few years ago. When we don’t have other bigger fall vacation plans, like the last two years, Greg and I have always tried to have a getaway around my birthday in October. We were fortunate enough to find this little place and spend my 30th birthday here. It’s only about an hour from home, but in the middle of a bunch of rolling hills and farmland. Basically in the middle of nowhere. The cottage is down a private drive and has its own private little lake. The building is clean and cute with a loft bedroom and large jacuzzi overlooking the lake, a full kitchen, a living room stocked with tons of dvds, a large shower room, two porches, a fire pit, a dock with paddle boat, and walking trails all around the property. It’s pretty great! It’s also very hard to get into if you’re not booking a year in advance. But if you’re looking for a secluded getaway sometime this is a great place to check!

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On Saturday morning, Shepard and I took Annie to the vet for her first boarding experience. It was so sad! She put up a big fuss when they took the leash from me and tried to get out of her collar to get back to me. That’s the first I’ve ever seen her try that maneuver. It was only for two nights, but I felt really bad. We’ve only had her for two months and I really didn’t want her to think we abandoned her the way her original family must have. 🙁 But we didn’t really have any other options. Dog owning is a lot more complicated than cat owning in this regard. You can never just pick up and leave for a night without a lot of planning.

Anyway, next we dropped off the boys at Greg’s parents house. They had lots of fun plans with the grandparents for the weekend. And finally, Greg and I headed off to the Dells for a big lunch. Since the cottage is so far removed from everything, we were planning to just eat out once each day so we could spend the majority of the time just relaxing and hanging out. I did restaurant research ahead of time – we never seem to have much luck just randomly picking places. So Saturday’s lunch was at Dells Distillery. We got the sampler appetizer platter with tots, chicken fingers, fried pickles, and cheesecurds. They were all pretty blah and bland.

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Greg had a burger and I had a chicken sandwich. Also fairly disappointing.

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There was a fudge shop next door, so I stopped in to find a dessert after that disappointing lunch. I bought a $3 smokehouse caramel square. It was pretty good.

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We never considered that being Memorial Weekend, it was also Dells kickoff weekend with all the outdoor waterparks. The city was jam packed. We didn’t have any interest in doing touristy things or walking through the crowds. But we still had some time to kill, so we went to one of my favorite places ever – the Craft Mall. In the antique section I was super excited to find some Steiff and old teddy bears. Those are my absolute favorite thing to collect because they are so hard to find. The hunt is always so rewarding when I finally come across an adorable little bear. Greg bought me this one as an anniversary gift. I love it!

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We made it to the cottage at 3:00 on the dot.

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Turtle and fish feeding is highly encouraged at the cottage and they have a tub of food for all the guests to use. This huge snapping turtle was right by the dock waiting for us. We fed him right away. No sign of him on Sunday, but fed a bunch of painted turtles. And then this guy came out to say goodbye on Monday. It’s such a little thing, but it really made the whole cottage experience so much more fun!

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On a paddle boat ride. Boating makes me pretty nervous, even on tiny little pond lakes. Pond lakes filled with turtles and gigantic fish, mind you!! But it was fun to paddle around. It’s the only boat ride we took because it was super windy on Sunday.

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Do you think I can pull off a hat?! I keep seeing women online with big hats and I always think they look so cute! Since the sun is basically my arch nemesis in summer and I HATE being hot and blinded, I bought myself two hats to try this year. But I’m nervous about actually wearing them in public because I never see real people wear hats like this! Dilemma. 🙂

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On our boat ride we also saw a beaver swimming around us. He hung around the whole evening.

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Next, we went for a walk around the trails. We saw some deer, but I didn’t get a picture.

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Saturday’s dinner was frozen pizza and these frozen peach margarita type things I found at the store last week. They were pretty good!

The rest of Saturday was for relaxing and watching part of a movie. It was a really good first day!

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The cottage owners supply guests with a small container of biscuits and four eggs. So that was our breakfast on Sunday morning.

20170528_110643 11 years

Eleven years married! Seventeen and a half years together! A lifetime, basically. A lot has happened in the last eleven years. Two jobs for Greg, four jobs for me, four years in Minnesota, two kids, two apartments, one house swap, six months of living with the in-laws, two houses, two cats (actually they came before), one dog, six vehicles, a lot of ups and downs, and a whole lot of memories. I kind of hope the next eleven are a little less eventful. 🙂

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We spent a long time on Sunday morning just chilling out. I was pretty tired and into a really good book, so I wanted to read. Finally around 10:30ish we decided to go out and explore. Our first destination was Observatory Hill in Montello. Well, really in the middle of nowhere. We never would have known about it except it was listed in a brochure at the cottage. There were zero signs on the way there. The hill was at the end of a road only marked “dead end.”

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There was no clearly marked trail, only a few little spots like this. We picked the right one.

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A little history for you.

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We made it to the top! It was a bit more of a hike than I was expecting. Not a good sandal hike! But it was so pretty when we reached the top.

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So sunny! But it was only about 65 degrees and felt really good. I’m so glad we ended up with such amazing weather after weeks of rain and gloom.

I didn’t take any pictures, but our next stop was Lunch Creek Winery. Also only found because it was in a paper brochure. I was expecting it to be more of a full scale vineyard, but it was basically just someone’s barn that they open up on weekends. We had a free wine tasting, trying out all the sweeter wines. A lot of fruit wines. We ended up buying a bottle of their sweetest, a caramel apple wine. I think I’ll save it for fall.

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It was an hour back in the other direction, but we decided to go back to the Dells for a late lunch. I kept looking at the menu and really wanted to go here, to B-Lux. Greg got a buffalo chicken sandwich, parmesan dusted waffle fries, and an oreo hard shake that had Bailey’s and Kahlua in it. I love our vacation meal pictures. 🙂

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I had a southern fried chicken sandwich with cajun mayo, sweet potato fries with maple bacon salt, and a “long weekend” hard shake, made with Creme de Cacao, vodka, nutella, toasted marshmallows, and graham crackers. I thought the whole meal was delicious! I’m glad we made the drive back there.

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At this point we were both really exhausted, so we went back to the cottage for the rest of the night.

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More fish feeding! Because it’s a private lake you can fish without a license. The cottage also has a variety of poles we could have used, but Greg didn’t want to deal with taking the fish off the hooks for me over and over again. I’m sure it would have been an awesome fishing experience because there were just so many around, but I don’t blame him. I’m a fish wimp.

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A pretty panorama of the cottage’s yard area. We didn’t really make use of the fire pit or porch seating. It was pretty buggy out already. And allergies…they’re the worst.

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Trying to watch the sunset, which wasn’t very magnificent that night. But a sunset nonetheless. I look pretty awful at this point. Allergies suck. I try to ignore them. The medications I started taking last year really helped with a lot of the sinusy stuff, but I haven’t yet found anything that really makes my eyes any better. It’s such a beautiful time of year to be outside, but also hard not to be halfway miserable anytime I’m out. 🙁

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Panorama of the porch and lakeside of the cottage. So pretty!

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Toasting our eleven years with my favorite pink moscato. I loved the champagne flutes they had there!

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To many, many more years! (And maybe a vacation past its grass allergy season next year!)

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Ended the night with one more walk around the trails.

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Monday morning and time to leave. We didn’t really linger around after we were both up. I forgot a picture, but we had some fancy cinnamon roll frozen waffles for breakfast. None of our cottage meals were too thrilling, but I wanted a real vacation where I didn’t have to do any work. So simple it was!

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Next we picked up the boys. Sounded like they had a really good time! Popcorn store, zoo, movie nights, a day at Cedar Lake with the cousins, and lots of time in the sandbox. I’m glad they got to have a little vacation of their own.

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And six very long hours later, I was able to pick up Annie! She survived! According to her report card she missed us, but did pretty well. She didn’t eat very much, but she doesn’t eat very much at home either. And she enjoyed playing with the toys. She was definitely super excited to see us! She started whimpering as soon as we turned onto our street. Usually she only does that when she realizes we’re almost to the dog park. We were all very happy to be reunited! Well, except for maybe the cats who got the long weekend and house all to themselves!

So overall, a really sweet eleven year weekend getaway celebration. I wish it could have been at least another night longer, but we’ll take what we can get! The weekend was exactly what we needed to connect and feel closer after some pretty crazy months.

Happy anniversary, honey!

1 Year House Anniversary!

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One year ago today we closed on our house! It was one of the happiest days of my life. After five years of apartment living and one year of being “homeless” while our Minnesota house was on the market, we were definitely ready to make the move into a house that we could call our own and stay at for a long, long time.

There are many reasons owning a house is pretty dang awesome. And I never want to take them for granted. Our apartment situation was great for what we needed when we first moved in. And it worked for us quite well the first few years. But last spring we knew it was finally time to move on. After a few whirlwind weeks of looking at every possible available house in town, and a couple of disappointments, our awesome realtor and friend helped us grab up our house just hours after it was put on the market. It was worth the wait!

The Best Parts of Our First Year of Home Owning (again)

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No Downstairs Neighbors!

Our last year in the apartment was pretty rough. We had an extremely cranky old lady living below us who had complaints about everything. I lived in a constant state of anxiety about how loud the boys were being. And they’re ALWAYS loud. She freaked out if any water or dirt or toys dropped from our deck onto hers, so I wasn’t able to keep up my container garden or let the boys play out there anymore. It was just getting too hard to constantly be worrying about how our family life was affecting the people around us. I love that it’s no longer a concern. The boys can run wild through the house and nobody cares! Well, it’s kind of annoying, but at least it’s not bothering anybody else. I hate confrontations with people and it gives me such peace of mind that I no longer have to worry about sharing a building with somebody else.

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A Yard!

One of the main requirements on our house hunt was getting a house with a decent sized yard. We had plenty of room to run and play at our apartment, but people were always watching us. ALWAYS. I craved a yard of our own. And while our yard here isn’t huge, it’s big enough. Big enough that the boys have plenty of room to have adventures and small enough that Greg can mow the whole thing in 20 minutes. I hope that someday, maybe, we can fence it in to get a little more privacy. But it’s definitely better than nothing right now!

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One of our first yard projects last summer was putting in a big sandbox. It’s provided many hours of entertainment!

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We also have the perfect two trees to hang a hammock in between. This was our trial hammock, but Caden got one for his birthday last year that they’ve played on more than anything else in the yard.

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We also have our garden! This year we’ve expanded quite a bit from the tiny plot we carved out last year. The boys love to garden and I always think it’s so exciting to grow your own food. I’m hoping this will be a productive summer project for us to work together on every year.

Our yard also provides us with a tiny little patio behind the garage for a table and chairs. We have our freshly planted fruit trees. My two flower gardens. And a long driveway with additional space for kids to play on.

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Friends! Neighbors! Friends for Neighbors!

One of the most exciting things about this particular house is that one of Caden’s best friends lives three houses down. While we haven’t seen him in awhile (I think he’s scared of Annie 🙁 ), the boys go through phases of being inseparable with him. They also spent every waking minute last summer playing with their other friend Willow and the kids her mom babysits for. There were rarely other kids in our apartment complex, so it’s felt so incredible that they had instant friends to play with anyday, anytime. It’s always a concern when you’re moving to a new place and wondering who you might be stuck living by. But I think we really lucked out!

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Walking to School!

I think I’ve been more excited about this than anyone else since it’s something I was never able to do growing up. But we live a mere four blocks from school. And it’s awesome. I LOVE that we can walk there. Except for the coldest and iciest days of winter, we’ve walked just about every single day to and from school. It provides us some extra conversation time and also gives me a jumpstart to do some exercising every morning. I used to occasionally walk in this area of town and dream about living here, assuming it would just never happen. But it did! I love how close we are to everything. And Columbus is so small we could walk just about anywhere in 30 minutes or less.

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Parties!

One of the coolest aspects of home owning, is that we can throw bigger parties! Not that we’re huge party people, but it’s certainly nice to have the option. We had our first party on 4th of July last year. Since then I think we’ve had a party for my brother’s birthday, a couple parties for Caden’s birthday, a party for my sister-in-law’s birthday, a Halloween party, a party for my dad’s birthday, my Favorite Things party, my mom’s birthday party, a Valentine party, and a couple of parties for Shepard’s birthday. It’s been a full year! But really fun! I think I need to throw another party soon because it’s the only reason we ever have to deeply clean the house. Things are getting pretty messy these days. 🙂

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Space!

I think the greatest part of our house is having multiple living areas. Even though there’s only four people in our family, it really helps to have the room to spread out when we want to do different activities. We have the large family room in the back of the house where we eat, watch tv, play video games, etc. Then we have the quieter and prettier living room at the front of the house which is mostly for reading or playing with legos. There have been multiple rearrangements over the past year to make sure everybody has spots to call their own, but I think we finally mastered the perfect set up. At least for now!

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My favorite area continues to be this little nook by our candle fireplace. I love reading here. Caden loves reading here. Annie loves napping here. It’s cozy and girly and I just love it.

I also love that the boys have their own rooms here. I don’t love that those rooms are messy pretty much all the time, but at least the mess is contained! I think Caden especially really needed that place to call his own. I’m so glad that he has it.

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Sewing Room!

A top priority when we were looking for a house is that it needed to have a room or clearly designated space where I could set up shop. I’m in this sewing business for the long haul and desperately wanted a space that I could just be creative in. And so I took over the formal dining room. It didn’t feel that great at first because I’m smack dab in the middle of the house and everybody needs to walk through here constantly. But now I’m kind of glad for its location because it keeps me from secreting myself away from everybody else. I may be doing my own thing, but I’m still right here. This room alone has already gone through so many transformations in just a year. I added a folding work table last fall. And then at Christmas my in-law’s gave me a much nicer wooden table. So now the room can also double as an actual dining room when we have people over. I love the dual purpose! But it’s definitely great as just my sewing room too.

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Annie!

Can’t have dogs at apartments! 🙂 I was hoping that when we got a house I would one day be able to get a dog. I expected it would take me years to wear Greg down, but ten months in we got our Annie! It’s definitely been an adjustment and a lot more work than I was expecting. But she’s added to our family and now I can’t imagine life without her.

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It’s been a good year! I look forward to many, many more years here filled with tons of beautiful family memories.

Sunday Intentions

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Is anybody else having a lot of attitude problems with their kids lately? This last week has been rough around here. I don’t really know what to say about it, other than that it’s really discouraging. More and more often I feel like such a failure as a mom because I’ve lost basically all control over my children. They’re constantly ganging up on me with their backtalk and snotty attitudes, ALWAYS looking for a loophole in every single thing I say, just so they can argue with me about it. It’s worn me down to just about more than I can handle this week.

I want to be a gracious, fun, and loving mom. But day after day I feel like they box me into this corner and the only thing I can do is scold or disagree or get angry at them. I want to hide from them because it feels like they force me to be this ugly and terrible person that I really don’t want to be, but I don’t know how to not be her anymore. It’s been a hard week. For a lot of reasons, but this one especially.

Anyway, despite all the wallowing in negative emotions, it’s been a fairly productive week. As you might recall, I really wanted to spend most of this week taking care of myself and trying to recharge after the insanity the first half of the month brought to my life. I spent a lot of time reading every day and let myself take lengthy naps each afternoon. I had a reward lunch at Chili’s on Monday for surviving the garage sale. And I did some cleaning, but tried not to stress out or be too worried about any of it. As always, the days went by too quickly and they weren’t quite as fulfilling as I had hoped. But at least I felt a little break from the pressure I usually put on myself.

My biggest accomplishment of the week was getting my garden planted and fenced off. It was probably technically done in a timely manner for Wisconsin weather, but I felt like this has been hanging over me forever. So it was such a huge relief to finally get things planted! My father-in-law came over on Tuesday night to rototill the big vegetable garden and a little sunflower/wildflower garden I’m putting in next to the garage. Then I spent all of Wednesday morning putting up the fence that will hopefully keep the bunnies out, and planting our seedlings. I planted two kinds of carrots, two kinds of radishes, jalapenos, some variety of sweet pepper, two kinds of peapods, a gourd mix, mini pumpkins, and mini white pumpkins. We are feeling very ambitious this year! I left enough room in the garden to buy some bigger pepper plants and a single cucumber plant. We’re big pepper fans and like to plant every variety we can find. Caden also has some container herb gardens going by our backdoor, so we probably need to add some bigger plants to those too. We definitely have a lot going on with the gardens this year!

The downside of gardening is that I’m now very aware that grass allergy season has begun! I was pretty sore the second half of the week just from all the gardening work, and then add on mega allergies, some pms, and a whole lot of arm pain from longer walks with Annie – it’s been rough! I should probably start doing some kind of yoga to try and be more limber and a lot less tense. But I think this almost daily and never do anything about it.

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I also spent the last couple of days getting back to work. Finally! It’s really hard to find motivation when I’m feeling so crappy, both mentally and physically. But I pulled it together and really got to work this weekend. I finished a couple of patriotic Annies and I’m so happy with how they turned out! It’s always so thrilling to finish a new set of dolls.

This Week

Moving on to this week… First of all, there are only nine days of school left. Cue the hyperventilating. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to handle summer. After nine months of both boys being gone all day…it’ll be an adjustment, for sure. But yeah. Just nine days left on my own. Technically only seven because Greg works at home on Fridays. I want to be productive during these remaining days, but I also want to enjoy the quiet while I still have it! I need to find a good balance so I can go into summer with a great attitude.

My top priority in the next few days is continuing to work. I’d like to get another batch of patriotic dolls done as soon as possible. Sales have been few and far between this month and I need to remedy that asap. If I don’t keep pushing out new dolls, I don’t get the sales. So Monday and Wednesday and most of Thursday are devoted to sewing.

Wednesday night is Caden’s last night of soccer. I feel like we really got ripped off with this soccer program. Only three games were scheduled and two of them got rained out. One practice was rained out. Twice the coach didn’t show up so a parent had to step in. And the few remaining practices never had the same coach twice. I’m not sure if it was all just a lot of bad coincidences, or if they’re always this unorganized. I don’t want to be the parent that attacks the lady in charge for how messed up it all has been. But I’m still a little disappointed. Caden definitely had fun the days he did play, though.

I also need to get ready for next weekend! It’s our 11th anniversary and we’re going on a little getaway. The boys are going to grandma’s and Annie is having her first boarding experience. I’ll have a lot of packing to do on Friday. And some more research to try and find a few potential restaurants and places Greg and I can go in between relaxing at the cottage. I also just really want to be in a good headspace for the weekend. So the more I can get done earlier this week the better.

Meal Plan

Monday – Grilled cheese, maybe?

Tuesday – Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Waffles

Wednesday – Probably something crockpot-y…

Thursday – Steak? Maybe? I’m really not prepared to be making this meal plan lol

Friday – Pizza

Have a good week!

 

Let Me Be Me

I’ve been trying all day to think of a straightforward, cohesive way to write this post. But it hasn’t come to me, so I’m just going to write.

First of all, I’m no longer going to be sharing my new blog posts to facebook. I might still do it if it’s my monthly book post, or something equally light and non-personal. But the posts that actually mean something to me internally are not going to be shared. I’m fairly certain nobody checks my blog if they don’t see a new post on facebook. And I’m okay with that, because I’m really just writing for ME. Because I need it. But just in case you do stumble across this post, you’ll now know to occasionally check back for more. If you care to read it. If you don’t, that’s okay too!

I’ve been really struggling lately with how much I can say publically. I don’t want to hurt people that are close to me. But I also want to write what really matters to me. I want to have a voice. Unfortunately, having a voice comes with consequences. It doesn’t seem to matter what I say – if I verbalize an opinion about something – and it can be anything – there will always be at least one person who wants to argue with me. Which you might be thinking is just the way life works. But I’m highly sensitive, deeply internalize any negativity that is thrown at me, and have a very, very hard time of ever letting it go. So I guess for my own protection, I’m going to start trying harder to not say anything anymore. Except in places like this blog, where the only people now reading are the ones who cared enough to actively find out what’s going on in my head.

Something that bothers me more than just about anything else, is when I’m told by a friend or family member that I’m not allowed to feel the way that I feel. If you want to instantly destroy a part of my soul, insist to me that I’m not allowed to feel disappointed, upset, or hurt by something that happened to me. One of the strongest examples I have of this is an argument I had with, at the time, a close friend over the boys’ t-ball coaches. I won’t go into the details, but I was disappointed in how lacking the coaches were in teaching young kids completely new to the game, any type of explanation or actual coaching on what to do. It caused Shepard to be crying in confusion at nearly every practice. Isn’t being in a new situation and having no clue or instruction what to do one of the worst places to be? Was it my right to be upset that the people in charge of changing that for him were doing absolutely nothing? According to my friend, absolutely not. I was supposed to be bowing in gratitude that they were volunteering their time. Speaking an ill word against their methods (or lack thereof), was apparently the worst thing I could have done. Anyway, the end result of this story, is that I basically lost one of my best friendships. I’ve felt that I had to be constantly on guard with her and what I say to her forever after that. And it still hurts me, years later, that I can’t just be myself.

Another huge example of this, is when I say something negative about Caden. Maybe not directly negative about him, but I mention how much his attitude and bad behavior, oftentimes violence and insults, have ruined something for me. Caden HATES going places, hates doing anything outside of the home. Every vacation, special dinner, outing, birthday, etc. – he finds a way to ruin it. I’d say 80% of the time. IT SUCKS. And more often than not, people try to tell me I’m not allowed to be upset. That whatever he’s doing can’t really be that bad. They’re under some illusion that he’s a perfect child and surely I’m exaggerating the problem. Don’t get me wrong, he CAN be a great child. But in a situation where I say it hasn’t gone well – believe me. Unless you’re Greg, you have no idea the depths of issues we’ve faced with Caden over his lifetime. So do not tell me I’m not allowed to be upset. Do not tell me I’m exaggerating. Do not tell me I should gloss over the situation and pretend it’s all fine for the sake of someone else who isn’t even there and sharing the experience with us. It hurts me so much that people who are supposed to be close to me, tell me I’m not supposed to feel the way that I do.

Another thing that really irks me is when people accuse me of not thinking about the repercussions of what I say. I may not always be great at censoring myself in person in the spur of a heated moment, but more often than not I just keep my mouth shut because I know it’ll get me in trouble. And confrontation scares the heck out of me. But when I post things online you can be sure that I’ve really thought about what I said before I say it. I know that sometimes whatever I say might not make every person feel absolutely perfect. And I try very hard not to directly say something hurtful about someone because that’s always fodder for the gossip mill. But sometimes I just really need to say something and I need people to accept that.

I think what hurts the most is that most of these issues occur between me and a family member or close friend. There’s a difference between having a friendship that’s open and honest and a friendship where one person continues to tell the other that they’re not allowed to be themselves. I realize I’m probably not always the easiest person to get along with. I’m very easily irritated, usually because I feel misunderstood, overwhelmed, or frustrated. While I like having someone take an interest in my life, I don’t like feeling like I’m being under interrogation. I’m easily offended, sensitive, and hold on to grievances for a long time. But I also think I’m a pretty good friend when I feel like I’m accepted for who I am. I deeply appreciate the few friendships I have that go beyond the small talk and illusions of life perfection. I crave the relationships in my life that are honest and real. And I’m hurt again and again by the people that should accept me, but don’t. The people that always see me as the bad guy, even though it’s usually because I’m advocating for someone in my immediate family. I’m pushed out more often than I’m included, and on days like today, it really hurts.

So that is my plea, thrown out into the universe. Let me be me. Please stop telling me I can’t feel how I feel. Stop telling me what I can and can’t say because of how I feel. I need to be me. And I will continue to be.

Greg’s 33rd Birthday and The Official Mother’s Day

IMG_1897 pancake breakfast

Yesterday was Greg’s 33rd birthday! And also Mother’s Day (officially). I’m REALLY glad those days only fall on the same day every once in awhile. (Next time – 2023)

So! I asked Greg what he wanted for breakfast a few days before and he said he’d just eat cereal. But I was up really early, did a ton of cleaning, and decided to make a real breakfast. So I made strawberry sauce, bacon, and chocolate chip pancakes. I’m usually the world’s worst pancake maker, but I think I’m getting better! I’m pretty sure every pancake was fully cooked and none were burned. A vast improvement!

IMG_1899 caden's card

Present time next, obviously.

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Caden picked out a Switch pro controller and a bag of sunflower seeds to give Greg.

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They were so giggly happy! If only it had lasted all day. (Ominous foreshadowing intended.)

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Daddy is green.

IMG_1913 lucas amiibo

Shepard was a little greedy in what gifts he picked to give! 🙂 First Greg opened a Lucas amiibo. It was apparently one of his favorites, and Annie chewed it beyond recognition a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I was able to find another one from a secondhand seller on amazon.

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Not shown – a big bag of dark chocolate covered cherries. Now on to the main gift!

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He was pretty excited!

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Expert level Palace Cinema set.

IMG_1931 dancing groot

I gave Greg a dancing Baby Groot and a gift card to Mod Pizza. Jack, Rory, and Annie gave him the newest Guardians of the Galaxy lego sets. Greg never buys things for himself, ever, so we like to spoil him when we can!

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Annie’s always watching out the back window and it’s so dang cute!

IMG_1940 the dancing groots

Got out the older baby Groot and had them dancing together.

After present time, the guys played video games for awhile. I spent a long time getting ready and doing my nails as a little Mother’s Day time to myself. At some point during game time, Caden got super frustrated and switched over to his mean side. HOW do you get kids not to ruin special days?? It’s just so draining. Disappointing. Sad. Caden can be so great sometimes. And then the switch flips and he’s spewing as many insults as he can think of, hitting us, being totally uncooperative. I feel like maybe overall, in his lifetime, these episodes have gotten a little more spread out. But the older and bigger he is, the more intense he can be. I don’t know what to do about it. And it just plain sucked that he picked Greg’s birthday to act this way again. It’s almost always triggered by video games. Like 98% of the time. But video games are also his greatest happiness and the one thing he always wants above all else. So how do we make him happy without him turning into a monster???

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Anyway. Around lunch we headed over to Greg’s parents’ house for the big Mother’s Day party. Shepard planted a second lemon tree to give Grandma. He was standing in front of it so she wouldn’t see it when they called her outside.

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The big reveal!

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The boys and their cousin Jeremiah spent most of the day climbing this tree. It was so beautiful!

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The kids’ table. There were three girl cousins there too, but I think they were still playing in the sandbox. It was fun to see them having so much fun with other kids! Since they’re the only grandchildren on both sides of the family (for only two more months!!), it’s pretty rare that they get to hang out with the extended family little relatives. I’m glad they’ll have some of these fun memories that I so fondly remember from my own childhood of running wildly around with my cousins.

IMG_1964 greg's birthday cupcakes

Taking a minute from the mega Mother’s Day celebration to remember Greg’s birthday. Those boys really wanted some cupcakes!

IMG_1979 shepard singing

IMG_1990 waiting for relight

I guess Shepard insisted that Grandma buy trick candles, so they were all waiting for them to re-light.

IMG_1993 greg present

IMG_1995 lighthouse legos

IMG_1997 cindy melissa magnolia

Cindy and Melissa and the magnolia tree she gave her. If my neighbors didn’t have a gorgeous one in their backyard, I think this is a plant I’d want to get for myself too! So pretty.

IMG_2000 all the moms

That’s a lot of moms!

IMG_2005 all the moms

It was a very nice party. We only planned on staying for lunch, but Greg didn’t really want to go back home only to have Caden flip the switch again. Because it would have surely happened. 🙁 I wish he could have had the perfect day he would have wanted. But children are very unpredictable. Or perhaps predictable, because something always goes wrong.

IMG_2032 pizza buddies

Greg requested buffalo bacon pizza for dinner. Shepard and I made it together. It was good! My favorite little trick for buffalo pizza is adding buffalo cheese curds to it. It gives some big chunks of gooey cheese mixed in with the regular mozzarella.

IMG_2033 pizza smiles

IMG_2034 pizza crazy eyes

IMG_2038 birthday dessertBirthday dessert was peanut butter bars. They’re seriously the greatest dessert ever. Not so pretty, but super easy and delicious! Non salty side for Greg because he abhors the salty sweet combination (blasphemy!), and salty side for the rest of us. Because salty chocolate is AMAZING.

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After dinner we got word that the crib Timmy and Brittany were looking at buying (from the Columbus garage sales) was still available and we had to go pick it up. We drove the car over hoping there was some way we could finagle it into the trunk with bungee cords. That most definitely wasn’t going to happen!! So I put the extra crib side and mattress in the trunk, drove back home, and “ran” back to meet them. It was about four blocks away – fortunately, but four blocks carrying a heavy crib feels like miles! It was hilarious, though. A really nice humorous way to end the evening. And we maybe worked off our pizza and peanut butter bars!

The rest of the night was pretty low key. We put the boys to bed and then started the second season of Masters of None. (So good!) I guess I can’t speak for him, but I hope he had a relatively nice birthday. I feel like pretty much all birthdays for everybody end up being a little bit of a let down. But we tried. At least he didn’t have to work! This is kind of an odd year with all four of us having weekend birthdays. And next year three of us will again.

Happy birthday, Greg! Happy Mother’s Day, everyone else! I hope you were treated like queens and had a wonderful day. And if you weren’t treated that way, then go out and do something for yourself asap. You’re in charge of your own happiness. 🙂 Be a little selfish. I definitely am this time of the year!

Sunday Intentions

Well, guys – I SURVIVED THE WEEK! I survived the last two weeks! It’s been a lot of hard work and very little fun. Stressful days, not enough sleep, and a lot of ridiculously simple meals. But I made it!

Unfortunately, I’m feeling like it wasn’t worth the time and energy and stress I put into it. The garage sale was kind of a bust. I assumed holding one during the city wide sale was the best time to do it. But maybe because Columbus is competing with all the other nearby cities that also do citywide sales this weekend, we ended up screwing ourselves over. Which is really disappointing. Timing, location, weather, everything seemed perfect. But hardly anybody came. 🙁 I was alone most of Thursday and Friday and it was SO boring. I was trying to read to the fill the time, but was also constantly wondering when people would start showing up. I didn’t feel like I could ever leave my spot just in case someone wandered in! It wasn’t fun. Not really at all.

Anyway, we made a little money, but not nearly as much as the last few years. We got rid of some stuff, but still have so much left. I wanted this to be the last sale ever, but we decided to pack up and try one last time later this summer. That way I’ll have more time to go through toys, board games, and a few remaining boxes in the basement to truly clear out everything we don’t need. I’m pretty bummed out it didn’t work the way I had hoped this time around. I’m also upset thinking about how many dolls I could have made in the last two weeks instead of all this garage sale work! So much wasted time. So much unnecessary stress.

I guess the upside is that I’m much more ready for a sale in a few months. And now it’s time for the fun half of May! Greg’s birthday tomorrow (I’m doing this post before Sunday, technically.)! Our anniversary weekend trip in two weeks. The last few weeks of school. Lots going on, but none of it should be very stressful.

THIS WEEK

My goal for this week is to just CHILL OUT. I’ve been so stressed out lately and really want to take a week, or at least a couple of days, to just focus on recharging. A lot of reading. Maybe a lot of tv watching. Whatever I feel like. I need it, desperately. Especially as summer is so quickly approaching and my alone time is suddenly going to completely disappear. I want to take full advantage of the three weeks I have left of being alone during the day. I have a feeling those first few weeks of summer might really mess up my mental state.

But before I can get to relaxing, I need to clean the house. For real. It has been sorely neglected lately! There is so much clutter to put away, super messy bedrooms, and things like floors that REALLY need to be mopped. I’m hoping for a power cleaning session on Monday morning and then maybe I can relax!

I also want to start taking long walks again. I figured I’d be walking miles and miles a day again once we got Annie. It hasn’t happened. I’ve been taking the easy way out for exercise on her end by just going to the dog park. But I want to start focusing on MY exercise too, and walking a lot more than we have been. I want to start working on a few training things with Annie too. She’s a great dog, but more often than not she just feels like a third child that I have so little control over. I need to figure out how to give her a chill pill so she’s not attacking every person she sees with excitement.

And eventually, maybe later in the week, I want to get back to work!! I miss sewing! I miss being creative. I should probably start on patriotic dolls asap, but I’d also really like to maybe try out my own patterns or do something really different with my dolls. We’ll see. I miss it. But I know if I jump right into it again on Monday, I’ll never get that recharge time I know I need the most.

I don’t have any meal plans figured out yet, but I am hoping to really start trying harder! I’ve really taken the easy route lately with leftovers, frozen meals, eating out. I’d like to challenge myself to try a little harder, especially with finding more unique ways to add in and prepare vegetables. I’m terrible with that.

Well, that’s it for the week! Now I need to get some sleep so I can fully be ready for Greg’s birthday tomorrow! Happy Mother’s Day to everyone else!