Fall Weekend in La Crosse

This past weekend we had a fall mini vacation to La Crosse. Caden was so funny, every time he said La Crosse he would cross his fingers like this so people could understand what he was saying. I’m not so sure that made it easier for anyone to understand! Anyway, it was a nice way weekend to get away from home and enjoy some of the beauty Wisconsin has to offer.

When we arrived at the hotel on Friday the boys immediately wanted to go swimming. It was super cold, but of course they didn’t care. I’ve been pretty good at avoiding swimming lessons the last many months (I’m too overwhelmed by scheduling issues with it!), but they still love to swim and want to do it as often as possible. Friday evening we stopped at the local farmer’s market and then boarded the Mississippi River Cruise for a sunset wildlife tour. We were allowed to bring dinner on the boat. Above is the boys’ first experience with lunchables. 🙂

Shepard was fascinated with looking out the window, though Caden seemed to have about zero interest.

The boat went through some of the backwater channels of the Mississippi where a lot more wildlife can supposedly be seen. All we saw were birds, though. A lot of bald eagles. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even seen bald eagles in the wild before, so it was neat to see so many. There is one sitting in the tree above.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of beautiful colors in our sunset, but it was still nice to watch.

The boys had to start finding their own ways to make fun on our two hour ride. Fortunately there was a lot of space between groups of people for them to run around.

And the end, the guide took out some bones and feet to look at. This is a beaver skull.


This is a claw/foot… I can’t remember for what bird. I was pretty disturbed by all the feet!

Such a cutie. 🙂

On Saturday morning, Cindy (my mother-in-law) and I went to a craft fair. Then we gathered up the guys and headed to Grandad’s Bluff. Strangely, fall colors haven’t really hit that side of the state yet, so this was the brightest “tree” I found all weekend.

Shepard was not in a photogenic mood Saturday.

I think “the mountain” was Caden’s favorite part of the trip.

After the bluff we went in search of a restaurant for lunch. After that we decided to check out an apple orchard in Dakota, MN.

I was pretty disappointed in the store, but the orchard itself was beautiful! Such an awesome location for all those trees.

We stopped at a better apple place on the way back and bought a bunch of gourds. Then we went back to the hotel so the boys could swim and I went to check out a local quilt shop. Which was AMAZING. Anyway – here are a few pictures of our “theme  suite” at the hotel.

This is how I found my men when I got back from the quilt shop. The in-law’s had left and we decided to spend the rest of the night at the hotel.

I picked up Subway for Greg and I and Shepard ate half of my tuna sub! He had a pretty cranky day, but perked up with some food.

After dinner we walked outside our hotel room into this. There were trails all through a slightly marshy area. It would have been really fun to explore all night, but Caden wouldn’t cooperate. He may only be five, but you can’t really force him to walk somewhere if he doesn’t want to. 🙁

Nobody would walk back to the room so Greg attempted to carry both of them. I had a good laugh.

The boys played in our hot tub and fell asleep – much more quickly than the night before. I was so exhausted I was out by 8:00!

We planned on going to this really great park on Sunday morning, but it was 20 degrees colder than it was supposed to be so we skipped it. Instead we headed back to the in-law’s to get our van. We spent a few hours there and then went to get caramel apples to end our weekend vacation.

My first caramel apple in two years! So delicious.

And that was our trip! I love fall getaways. 🙂

My Birthday Celebrations

Well, it happened – I’m 29. One more year until I’m “old.” Actually, while that number 29 really bothered me when Greg hit it five months ago, it doesn’t really bug me anymore. I’m actually kind of looking forward to my 30’s because our kids will be older and we’ll have more freedom than we had in our 20’s with the constant demands of babies and toddlers. Anyway – I’m 29!

Greg started the celebration early when he brought me this beautiful bouquet of flowers on Friday night. I was bummed all day because Shepard was sick and the weather was horrible and we couldn’t follow through on any of the fun plans I had made. The flowers were a sweet pick me up.

On Saturday, my parents took the boys for most of the day so Greg and I could go on a birthday date. We had lunch at HuHot. I haven’t been there since Caden was a baby and thought it might be a good change from the usual chicken sandwiches I order at every restaurant I’ve ever been to. I’m so glad we went there – it was amazing! I had one of the best meals of my whole life following one of their recipe cards. I’m ready to go back NOW. After lunch we shopped around at some of my favorite stores and then headed back to my parents’ for a celebration.

Shepard was still really sick on Saturday. He definitely has a knack for getting sick on birthdays and holidays. I was thinking about it and this year he had a flu of some sort on Valentine’s Day, his birthday, Easter, our anniversary, my sisters-in-law’s birthday, and now my birthday.

My mom made me a peanut butter chocolate cheesecake.

We told him he couldn’t blow on the cake, but of course he did anyway.

My parents gave me this clock I kept eying up at Cranberry Fest last weekend. I love it!

And a postage scale! I’m almost getting as bad as Greg who asks for batteries for his birthday. I was excited, though, as I’ve been mailing out a lot of packages lately!

Caden couldn’t believe there was nothing else in the box.

Fabric! And an awesome basket! I’ve been obsessed with aged looking wire baskets lately, even though I have no idea what to do with them. I’m also TOTALLY addicted to fabric, so I was pretty excited to see a whole basket of new ones my mom picked out for me!

This one was my favorite. So simple and pretty!

While they were there on Saturday, the boys painted some pots and planted me some succulents! They’re so cute! I’m trying to figure out where I can keep them inside so they don’t die right away.

Anyway, Saturday was really nice. 🙂 After sitting at home with a sick kid for a few days it was great to get out and enjoy life a little more for a few hours. I love the cuddle time I get when my kids are sick, but they are SO cranky. It’s exhausting.

On Friday night my Heartstring Annie facebook page hit 100 likes, so I decided to do a giveaway! My last month and a half have been really successful and I’m excited to see where this business will go as I begin to have more time to put into it in the next few years. I wanted to reward the people who have been with me from the start, though, by doing this giveaway. I made three prizes. This witch was the “grand” prize. I found out later that the woman who won it also had a birthday yesterday! Pretty amazing. 🙂

Pumpkin tower for prize number two.

And a cute bat for prize three. I had a lot of fun doing this and might have to do a giveaway for every new 100 likes! Actually selling items is great, but it’s always fun to give things away too. 🙂

I had some big plans for Sunday too, but Shepard was still pretty sick and nobody felt like doing much out of the house. We spent most of the day cleaning. The one thing I really wanted to do was get pumpkins, so we just went to the local place in town. Not as fun as a pumpkin patch, but they have a huge variety and the prices are good.

Shepard and I kept looking at the gigantic white ones.

Caden found his!


Shepard was so excited that the guy at the market gave him an apple.

I was most excited about their indian corn variety! I bought three and tied them up with a pretty ribbon and hung them on the wall.

Showing off.

I also spent a lot of time sewing on Sunday. I used that fabric from my mom and made these two little bears. I kept the green one and gave the cream one to her. They’re so cute!

Before I went to bed I made pumpkin scones for my birthday breakfast. This is officially my traditional birthday breakfast. They’re so good!!

Finally, Monday! My real birthday! It was a pretty laid back morning. Pretty much the only thing of interest we did was have this little photo shoot. I didn’t realize my pajama pants were going to be in the picture. 🙂

Shepard took this picture (with me holding the camera!).

Caden took this one.

After Caden went to school, Shepard and I met my mom at Ponderosa for lunch. Ponderosa is our once every couple of months treat. I’ve always loved their chicken wings more than any other. It was delicious! Afterward Shepard and I ran a few errands and went to pick Caden up. A pretty typical day!

The next few hours were a little chaotic! My mom and brother stopped by with more presents. My in-law’s stopped in with presents. They’ve been in Hawaii the last week and a half, so the boys were over the top excited to see everyone. I opened my presents, but I’m not posting any pictures because I look horrible in them. 🙁 I need to lose weight. A lot of weight. Anyway, not going to dwell on that in this post! The presents were great! 🙂

My brother and sister-in-law sent me this Edible Arrangement bouquet. Which worked out perfectly because I never had time to make myself a birthday dessert!

I love how it was mostly strawberries and pineapple. Delicious. The cute little pot it came in is great too!

Shepard was too busy taking pictures to be in the official ones. 🙂

And that was my birthday! The whole weekend of fun I had planned didn’t really go the way I expected, but it rarely does, right? Motherhood is all about adjusting and making the most of what you have. Anyway, thank you for everyone who made the day special. 🙂

Caden’s 5th Birthday

On Monday, my baby turned five! I’ve been a mom for five years already. Crazy!

We started our celebration on Sunday with a trip to Little Amerricka. Every time we’ve gone this summer Caden has wanted to ride in the caboose, but someone always beats us to it. Not on Sunday! Caden’s dream of riding in the caboose finally came true. 🙂

Quick to relax.

We also did the mini golf course for the first time. Caden’s been asking every time we go, but I told him Daddy had to be with us.

Shepard is the funniest mini golfer ever. He gets this possessed attitude and it’s hilarious.

Trying to teach him how to do it correctly while he was trying with all his might to keep doing what he wanted. (Shepard is so tiny!!)

Shadow family portrait. Wish I didn’t look like such a fatty!

The mini ferris wheel is Caden’s favorite ride (even though he hates heights so much he freaks out if Greg even lifts him up), but this was Shepard’s first time. As they were standing in line, they were holding hands and Caden was reassuring Shepard it would be fun. Cutest thing ever.

Monday – Caden’s actual birthday! First thing he wanted to do was open presents – what a surprise! Shepard was very enthusiastic about helping out.

A new puzzle. Everyone’s been very into doing puzzles lately.

Lots of new school supplies and his very own bag of sunflower seeds. (Greg’s and the boys’ favorite snack.)

If you haven’t noticed, September is kind of all about Caden. I think Shepard has taken notice this year and has been a little jealous.

Money! We’re going to start giving Caden an allowance now that he’s five. I’m not sure he really has any understanding of what that means yet. He’s never had to buy anything on his own. Mostly he seems to think money is just a toy to be separated and sorted.

New piggy banks to spend, save, and give. He immediately had to get all his money and divide it equally among the banks.

Shepard getting angry that he can’t open the presents by himself. And a slip ‘n slide! I doubt it’ll get warm enough to use it this year, but for $1 on clearance I couldn’t resist.

This was Caden’s big present, picked out by Daddy. It’s his very first game console, an Ouya. It plays old games. At least that’s what it seems like to me. I know (or care) nothing of video games. Caden was excited, though.

Snap Circuits Jr. I think this actually might be his favorite present of the day. Caden definitely inherited all of Greg’s math and science genes.

One last present, picked out by Shepard. They’ve been watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates lately, so when we saw the game at Target it seemed perfect.

Birthday breakfast! Chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and orange juice. After breakfast the guys just played the Ouya pretty much until Caden went to school. It was pretty boring…for me. I sewed all morning.

Last year for Caden’s school treat I made monster brownie pops. I really wanted to make them again, but Caden insisted on cupcakes. So – monster cupcakes.

All ready for school with his treats!

After school we all picked him up and went to the park. Shepard ate one of the leftover cupcakes while Caden looked for acorns. I was trying to give him a little fresh air and freedom to run around, but I think he really just wanted to get back home to his presents.

Parents for five years! I barely remember what it’s like NOT to be a parent.

I forgot to take a picture, but our dinner was steak and french fries, Caden’s favorites. For his official birthday dessert I made this giant chocolate chip and sprinkle cookie. Caden wanted cake or cupcakes again, but I just couldn’t do it. First of all, we’ve already had cupcakes three times in that week (including that afternoon at school!) and second of all…I don’t really like cake. I couldn’t handle it one more time. So – a cookie! I thought it turned out very festive. 🙂

Caden is master of the fake smile.

And that’s it! Happy 5th birthday to my beautiful son. He’s changed my life forever. 🙂

Caden’s Party Weekend

It’s Monday morning and we’re all recovering from a very busy, but super awesome birthday party weekend! Even though his actual birthday isn’t for another week, I like to put a little space between my kids’ parties and actual birthdays so each event is special without being too overwhelming. We kicked things off on Saturday with his very first friend party at Prairie Kids Club in Sun Prairie. I was incredibly fortunate to win this birthday package at the end of the year MOPS raffle last year, providing us with an great space to have the party.

Every kid that has a party there gets to put their hand print on the wall.

They also get a t-shirt that everyone can sign for the birthday boy.

I love Prairie Kids Club because they have two gigantic gyms filled with unique things kids can just run around and play on. Even though we only had nine kids at the party (two of them babies!), we still had an entire gym to ourselves and everyone just went wild!

These running trampoline things are always Shepard’s favorite.

They also had a huge bouncy maze filled up, which isn’t around during regular open gym times.

I was happy to spend some time with my goddaughter, McKenna. I need to see her more often!

Shepard’s other favorite thing.

After an hour of free play, we went back to the party room for dessert! I didn’t want to bother with a cake, so I made toadstool rainbow cupcakes (Caden’s request) and chocolate Mario mustache cupcakes for people that didn’t want permanently colored mouths! I also had two kinds of ice cream sundaes pre-scooped and ready. It worked very well!

The birthday boy!

Shepard was pretty proud of himself for helping Caden blow out the candle. 🙂

A little bit scary, a lot messy!


We went back to the gym to open presents.

Shepard entertained us with dancing while we waited.

Mario blanket! When we opened it up at home yesterday the boys immediately decided to use it as a running mat and then used it to make a fort. They love their blankets!

Shepard and Bronson are very curious about the presents!

Looking through the treat bags.

And that’s it for Saturday’s party! I’d say it was quite a success and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to have this kind of party for him (for free!). He had an awesome time!

On Sunday we had a laid back family only gathering to celebrate. It was supposed to be held at a park, but of course it rained. I didn’t want to have another cake, so we had a donut tower!

Waiting until 10:00 to eat a donut was absolute torture for the boys!

Blowing the candle out. And blowing on all the donuts. So I’m sorry in advance for every single one of you who will probably have a cold by tomorrow. Caden has a full blown cold this morning – didn’t realize that yesterday. 🙁

Present time!

Shepard has been so convinced the last few weeks that it’s also his birthday, so the grandmas gave him some presents too. He LOVES this Mickey Mouse book. He looked at it all night and first thing when he got up this morning.

You can always use another Mario shirt. 🙂 His teachers probably thinks Mario shirts are all he owns because he keeps picking them out every single day.

Outer space puzzle! He’s been wanting this one!

He was really excited about this one because it was “a package!!!” Every time I get a package in the mail he asks if it’s for him and gets so upset when it’s not. Why would he be getting a package when he doesn’t have a way to order anything? Lol.

Caden has this obsession with collecting magazine inserts. He used to write on them, but now he apparently just collects them. Grandma gave him a special lock box to keep them in – very exciting!

Monster feet.

Uncle Tyler gave Caden a helicopter, which Greg immediately claimed for himself. I think he had a little too much fun playing with it the rest of the day!

A voice changer. Kind of scary!

Still having fun with the helicopter.

Trying to scare Rory with it now.

Back to the voice changer. Shepard claimed this one for himself.

And that’s it! Everyone hung around awhile playing with all the toys. I didn’t take any more pictures because I was having a major sugar crash or something. It was not a very healthy eating weekend! At any rate, it was a fantastic party – both of them! This morning Caden said to me, “Mom, everyone give me everything I wanted!” He’s very happy. 🙂 Thank you!

The First Week In

Caden has made it through his first week of school! The verdict? He LOVES it! He’s so excited to go every day and can’t wait to get outside and wait for the bus. So far every day he’s wanted to have a photo shoot. Kind of funny for the kid who never wants his picture taken. The only thing that hasn’t gone well is the bus ride home. After sticking with it the first three days, I decided to start picking him up every day. He wasn’t too scared once he knew what to do, but making him sit on the bus for 45 minutes every day when I can get him home in five seemed kind of ridiculous.

The boys definitely miss each other while Caden is gone. Though I think Shepard likes having more individualized attention from me. Every day he talks about what he wants to do “just me and Mommy.”

Caden doesn’t have school on Fridays, so I’m trying to start a tradition of Friday Fun Days. Most Fridays I’d like to take a break from all regular responsibilities and just focus on doing something fun and different with my kids. This last Friday we went to Eugster’s Farm Market. It’s a bit of a drive from Columbus, but we’ve gone there the last two years and the boys seem to like it. They have a ton of animals to see, as well as a lot of other fun activities.

Feeding the baby goats bottles is always fun!

Caden was having more fun teasing the goats…

The best part of Eugster’s is the kitty house. Lots of adoptable kittens temporarily live in there to get socialized before going to their forever homes. I think it’s a great way to get cats comfortable with kids.

Most of the kittens were hiding in the safe box. The one on the left is a little creepy.

Caden always loves being able to hold a cat. That definitely doesn’t happen with our cats!

After the farm we had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. I think my kids definitely need some training on restaurant etiquette. Better keep practicing! 🙂 Overall it was a really great day.

On Saturday my mom held a birthday party for her dog, Gracie. The boys were in charge of making the punch. Very serious business!

Everyone gathered around to watch Gracie open her presents.

Caden is hiding it behind his back while he opens it so Gracie will still be surprised. 🙂

Everyone is very excited about these!

Sprinkler time!

Always a cutie.

In other news, I’ve been sewing like crazy. I know I should be able to go at whatever pace I choose, but I feel this pressure to keep up with all the other doll makers, making dolls for every season and holiday early, early, early. It seemed to take me forever to finish my first batch of witches, but I LOVE the way they turned out. Especially the one in the middle (which is still for sale! ;)). I’ve also been working on a bunch of side projects. There are so many birthdays coming up and I’m trying to include handmade gifts for everyone. I love trying new projects, but I also have this constant nagging in my mind about how I should really be making more Halloween Annie’s. And fall pumpkins. And teddy bears. And more bags. The list goes on and on. What did I ever do with my time before I learned to sew??

Well, I have a lot more to say, but I feel like I really should get off my computer and get busy working on other things. Caden has two birthday parties this weekend and there is so much to do! I’m just hoping the weather is nice and we can have one of the parties at a park as planned because our house is NOT party ready!!

Caden Starts 4K

Today was Caden’s first day of 4K! For the last few weeks I’ve been an emotional rollercoaster on how I felt about this. I was pretty teary last year when he started preschool – and at pretty much every important first year of school milestone. And that was only two hours a day, two days a week! With bus time, 4K is four hours a day, four times a week. I’ve been worried about him, but also looking forward to a daily break from taking care of two constantly bickering children at the same time. I think Caden gets really bored at home, which always causes him to act out negatively, and the time away each day will do all of us a world of good.

Despite a lot of earlier hesitations, I think we were all pretty excited when today arrived. Caden even initiated a big photo shoot! I usually have to beg him to cooperate for even one picture, but this morning he eagerly allowed me to take hundreds. Not an exaggeration. 🙂 Our only hiccup is that he really wanted to wear a Mario shirt and I really wanted him to wear something nicer. Daddy finally convinced him to wear a button shirt and he can wear Mario tomorrow. 🙂

We had to take photos in every possible location around our apartment building.

Ah, these kids can be so funny sometimes. I can’t stop laughing at this one!

As much as they fight, they do also get along really well. They’re definitely each others best friends right now and I hope that can continue as they get older.

So funny, yet so sweet. 🙂

Caden thought it was pretty hilarious taking pictures in front of the handicap sign.

I like this one. 🙂

Okay, here he is a few hours later, actually waiting for the bus. When he first found out he was going to be riding a bus he was really nervous, but seemed pretty confident today.

I should really do photo shoots with my kids more often. They can come up with some pretty creative poses!

Handsome boy!

At this point Shepard decided he had to photo bomb every picture. Caden was just getting way too much attention!

He’s so cute about it, though.

Came up with this one on their own too. Hilarious!

Trying to get a nice father son picture and Shepard plowed them over.

There we go.

Greg worked from home today so he could be here for us. I thought I’d be an emotional wreck sending Caden away on the bus, but his teacher suggested I meet him at school the first day and walk him in and felt a lot better with that new plan.

Finally getting on the bus! There are only three kids on the bus and Caden was the last stop, so it was a pretty quick trip to school! The ride home was a lot more traumatic because he had to stop at the elementary and middle schools, switch buses, and wait in each place for a really long time. It was pretty scary for him that first time. The bus was very late and he arrived home in tears and looking terrified. After talking about everything, though, he seemed much better and I think he’ll do a lot better tomorrow now that he knows what to expect. Besides the bus stuff, though, he seemed to have a great time at school! I’m really proud of him and happy for a good start to this new year. My baby is definitely growing up!

San Francisco!

I’m back from San Francisco! It was an awesome trip and I’m excited to show you my pictures! Can you believe I’m posting this not even 24 hours after getting home?! I’m on top of this. For once!

Despite how crazy they make me, I was really sad about leaving the boys for six whole days. The longest we’ve ever been away from them before is two nights, so this was a pretty big deal.

Nice goodbye kiss from Shepard.

We had lunch at the airport. A very plain burger.

And a very plain chicken sandwich.

A view from somewhere over Colorado, I think. I like when you’re in a plane and can sort of see the curvature of the earth.

This cloud was gorgeous!

We made it! After a plane, tram, and train we met up with my sister-in-law, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Alex in downtown San Francisco. While we were walking to try and find a taxi I saw the Britex Fabrics store. I kind of wanted to go there ahead of time (despite how expensive it is), but it wasn’t open. Oh well. Later in the week Sarah took me to her favorite fabric store and I found some unique things for my sewing projects.

This is the view from Sarah and Alex’s roof. Amazing!

I’ve always wanted to go to San Francisco, though I knew very little about it ahead of time. For some reason I really wasn’t expecting it to look like this. But it was pretty. 🙂

On Wednesday night they took us to their local pizza place, Za. The pizza was so delicious!

Gigantic slices. So yummy.

On Thursday morning, Greg and I caught the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf. I couldn’t get any pictures on the car, but this is the one we rode.

It was early enough that the crowds weren’t yet out on the wharf. We had a really nice walk checking everything out for the first time.

Alcatraz in the background.

We had to make some souvenir pennies for the boys.

The inside of the gigantic Boudin sourdough store. I was pretty hungry at this point and wanted everything!

We settled on a loaf of jalapeno cheddar bread. It was good! Very chilly by the water, though, so we needed some hot chocolate to go with it.

I think watching the sea lions on Pier 39 was my favorite part. It’s just so bizarre to see something like that in the wild. There aren’t many sea lions swimming the waters of Wisconsin!

I liked this fat one hogging the best spot.

Lots of sleeping going on!

I was really excited when I kept seeing all these pick your own oyster/pearl booths. We did something similar in Florida ten years ago and I always wanted to do it again. This seemed like the perfect opportunity!

My pretty little pearl!

The final pendant. The oyster/pearl was $15, but then the lady kept trying to convince me to buy a $300 white gold setting for it. Um….no. I ended up with the cheapest $11 silver top. She wasn’t very happy with me!

We walked around a little more and stopped in a few shops. I also bought a really pretty print of the bridge and cable car. I was happy to get two good souvenirs for myself. 🙂 After that we went to this old arcade filled with unique games to play.

Sibling rivalry.

I did the love-o-meter. I was rated “Blah.”

For lunch we ate at a place called Alioto’s, right on the water. One of Greg’s friends and his girlfriend were actually on vacation in San Francisco too, so we met up with them for lunch. Then we took them back to the arcade so they could get this picture.

There was a store with a ton of gigantic candy. It would have been a cool souvenir for the boys, but would have taken up half our suitcase!

We stopped in Ghiradelli Square to get a chocolate sample.

After resting for awhile we walked through Chinatown. Pretty unique to see something like this right in the middle of an American city.

That night we were able to get some really cheap tickets to the Giant’s baseball game. It was the one thing Greg really wanted to do, but when we tried to find tickets earlier they were way too expensive. We definitely lucked out looking the night before. On the walk to the ballpark this bird photo bombed my Bay Bridge picture.

So beautiful!

We had dinner before the game at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

I had the jalapeno popper grilled cheese. I think this was my favorite meal of the trip – it was so good!

Greg was so excited to see the IGN building.

We made it to the game!

It was sooooo cold at the game. I was really hoping these famous garlic fries would warm me up. No such luck!

On Friday morning we started at The Presidio. I’m still not really sure what it was, exactly… But it was a pretty area!

We stopped at LucasArts for Greg.

Next we went to The Palace of Fine Arts – another really unique sight that I knew nothing about ahead of time.

Lots of houses had these pretty flowers growing on them.

Next we started taking the bus to Golden Gate Park, but ended up getting out early to get a better look at the bridge.

Next we made our way to the park and walked through the rose garden. I love flowers this color!

We spent awhile in the Japanese Tea Garden part of Golden Gate Park. We love koi.

We had lunch at one of Sarah’s favorite Mexican restaurants in the Mission area of San Francisco.

They had a huge selection of meats and salsa. It was so good!

After another afternoon rest, we went to Fort Mason where the Off the Grid food trucks were gathering. I was really excited about this ahead of time, but I was still so full from lunch that most of the food didn’t sound very appealing while I was there.

Greg had a burger from Bacon Bacon, but was disappointed in how little bacon was on it.

I was craving some chocolate and finally settled on The Godfather from The Creme Brulee Cart. It was double chocolate creme brulee topped with chocolate cookie crumbles and sea salt caramel. It was AMAZING.

After dinner we went for a walk along the water. The views are so beautiful from any part of the city.

On Saturday morning, Greg and I left early to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building. This is the one thing I really wanted to do and it was pretty cool. I didn’t really take any pictures of the booths because I was too distracted trying all the samples! I’ve never seen so many types of peaches and plums before and they were all so delicious. I also tried figs for the first time and loved them!

For breakfast Greg got a sticky bun.

I had a strawberry “fruit pocket” – PIE. This was also delicious. If I didn’t have to carry it around all day I probably would have bought a ton of things here.

The inside of the ferry building was also really cool – they had tons of unique stores and restaurants. After meeting back up with Sarah and Alex, we got on the ferry to Sausalito, across the bay.

Being on the ferry was a great way to see all of San Francisco. It was crazy windy, though.

In Sausalito, we walked around for about an hour and then had lunch. We weren’t very adventurous on this trip, as you can probably tell. I really don’t like seafood and the only time we went to a seafood place was Thursday when I didn’t feel very well, so didn’t feel like trying something new.

Club sandwich.

The Sausalito marina area was beautiful.

Back on the ferry!

There was a lot of sailboat racing going on that day.

We walked to the America’s Cup Pavilion after we got back to San Francisco. We spent quite awhile here looking at yachts and relaxing for awhile.
I literally know nothing about the America’s Cup. But Greg was pretty enthused about it. After this we just went back to the apartment, got some takeout, and hung out. We also watched Pitch Perfect. I love that movie. 🙂
Greg and I really wanted to get out of the city for a day to see what else is in the area, so on Sunday, our last day, we got Alex’s car and drove to Sonoma. Greg had to hold my camera out of the sun roof to get this picture on the bridge. It was very foggy!
Our first stop was The Jacuzzi Winery. I love these flowers!
I don’t drink wine, but this place also makes olive oil, so I had a good time sampling those. Too bad going back on an airplane stopped me from buying so many things!!
After the winery, we walked around the Sonoma Square. I was really surprised at how few people were there. We loved this little duck.
We had our last big meal at another Mexican place.
Back in the city Greg and I went for a few final walks. This is Lombard Street, the really curvy one. I wasn’t actually that impressed by the street itself (I thought it was going to be a lot bigger), but the view was incredible!
We were SO tired and sore by this point. Well, probably by Friday morning we were that tired! So much walking. Next trip I need to prepare a lot better!
We saw a few of these “mini parks.” 
Finally, our last picture of the city from the top of Lafayette Park. It was definitely an awesome vacation and I’m SO glad we were able to go. We had so much fun!

Quick Update!

Once again – it’s been too long since I’ve written! Maybe I should stop apologizing and just write when I can and stop feeling guilty about it! I still enjoy writing and sharing bits and pieces of my life, but the simple truth is I just don’t have much time for it anymore. Rather than beating myself up over it, I’m just going to write when I can and be okay with that. So here goes.

I’ve had a couple of things on my mind that I just wanted to get out there really quick. First of all, I’m giving up on my 365 Day Photo Project. 🙁 I made it through June and then it just got too stressful. I’m disappointed in myself because it would have been really awesome to look back over my daily photos from the entire year, but I just couldn’t keep up. For one, I’ve been TERRIBLE about picking up my camera this summer. I’m pretty sure I’ve taken at least one phone picture a day, but it just gets too hard going back and emailing myself all the pictures that seem good enough. That’s not how I wanted to do this project, so I might as well just stop. Six months will have to be good enough.

I should probably save this for a post that I have more time to write, but I wanted to share that it’s been a really hard summer for me. I’ve been tired, depressed, overwhelmed, angry, stressed, and really just felt over my head in projects and responsibilities that I’m never going to be able to keep up with. I’ve been having some major struggles with Caden and dealing with motherhood in general. I’ve been mourning my lack of true relationships and feeling hopeless about ever changing that. I’ve been having an awful time keeping up with cleaning the house, making meals, and even doing the simplest household chores. About the only thing I have stayed on top of is my sewing goals because they make me happy. Overall, though…I’ve been a mess.

I’ve definitely reached the point where I realize things NEED to change. I can’t keep living like this. I’m really hoping that once school starts and we get back into a regular routine everything will get better. And as terrible as this sounds, I’m looking forward to a longer break from Caden every day. I love him so much, but he also pushes me so far beyond my limits on a daily basis. I think I need that step away from him every afternoon to learn how to appreciate him and give him what he needs so much more than when I have to deal with him 24 hours a day, day after day after day.

Anyway, maybe I’ll write more on this next week after my vacation! We’re leaving in a few hours to San Francisco! The boys are staying with grandparents while Greg and I go visit his sister and her boyfriend. I’m SO looking forward to spending a week as an adult. No mommy duties, no household duties, nothing to feel guilty about. I’m excited to spend time with Greg – as a couple, and not just as Mommy and Daddy, which seems to be all we are anymore. And I’m just thrilled to see a new city! I love traveling, but the last few years our trips seem to be more stressful than fun. A trip without kids should be much more enjoyable. I’ve always wanted to go to San Francisco, so I’m glad my sister-in-law decided to move there to make this trip possible. 🙂 Anyway, Caden woke up during this last paragraph and my concentration is shot, so more…in a week!

WI State Fair – 2013

Yesterday was our annual trip to the Wisconsin State Fair! I was a little apprehensive about going yesterday because rain was predicted all day and it was quite chilly! But it turned out to be perfect. It never did more than sprinkle, but the threat of storms kept the bigger crowds away. Once again the boys and I went with my parents, and my brother and his friend. It’s so much easier going with other people. I think the boys and I would have been pretty bored by ourselves.

I was worried about how Shepard would do with a stroller (he mostly hates them these days), but he stayed in it just fine! I was even able to cram a cooler full of water, a diaper bag, a ton of snacks, and umbrellas in a bag behind the little stroller. I was quite proud of myself!

The mini donkeys were my favorite. I wish they were easier to look at.

Funky haired alpaca.

Very pretty beast.

Caden was loving his grandma time! He was really good yesterday – hardly any whining and complaining. The older they get the more fun things like this are.

These poor dogs in their swimsuits!

Caden really wanted the same apple cider mini donuts we got last year, so that was our first priority once the buildings opened.

They were tasty!

And very sugary.
My mom always gets a baked potato. Boring! Though I think this year she was more adventurous adding a little bacon.
 We were still hungry after the donuts, so Shepard, my dad, and I got grilled cheese for a 9am “healthy food” lunch.
It was Jelly Belly Day at the fair. Lots of free jelly bean samples!

The boys got some Jelly Belly tatoos.

I wanted to get a giant pickle to bring home for Greg, but the boys talked me into getting them a cone of baby pickles too.
We spent some time going through the building full of things to buy, but the boys were starting to get really antsy, so we headed to the DNR area instead. I think they spent at least twenty minutes just digging through this colored rice with strainers. Why can’t things ever keep there attention this long at home??

Pretty succulent garden!

Caden found his favorite toy from last year.

And Shepard found his. We were in this area for about an hour.

Magnetic fishing. Shepard was so proud of himself for catching one.

And another.

Looking for fish in the stream.

Watching the new duck races is one of the last things we did. Grandma bought the boys some duck whistles.

Such a beautiful boy. 🙂

The duck races. They were very fast and hard to see.

Trying to get a nice picture that I’m actually in. Caden wouldn’t cooperate. Oh well.

After the races we headed over to an area we hadn’t been to yet. Shepard was looking really sleepy so I picked him up and he instantly did this. Caden was sick of being there and it looked like storms were finally heading in, so we decided to leave after that.

I almost was able to get an exact replica of the end of last year’s fair, but Shepard woke up right as I took the picture. Anyway – it was an awesome day! I love the State Fair!

The Last Month

It really isn’t my intention to keep doing these massive catch up blog posts. Time just seems to keep getting away from me and I never have the time I need to post things event by event. It’s frustrating on so many levels! In the last few months I’ve even gone entire weeks between uploading my photos to my computer. And for me – that is ridiculous. Photography doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to (sad to say) and I’ve had other priorities lately. Anyway, I’ll try to keep this relatively brief…

We finally made it to Little Amerricka. Both last year and this we bought season passes so the boys and I could have something fun to do during the long summer days. And once again I’m finding it really hard to actually make use of the passes. It’s only 25 minutes away, but the park is only open a couple of days a week with stupid hours (12-5) and it’s not as easy to go as I always think it will be. Anyway, we’ve been there a couple of times now and will hopefully make it a lot more in the next month!

It rained so much in June that the majority of the train ride’s path was flooded!

Matching Supermen.

Feeling guilty that we’re only going on vacations without our kids this year, I persuaded Greg to take a day off so we could go to the Dells for a few hours. We had coupons for the Ducks, which I thought the boys would really enjoy.

It didn’t really go the way I had hoped – Caden was fairly terrified. I felt so bad for him. 🙁

After awhile Caden decided Daddy was the safer one to sit by on that scary ride. (Shepard loved it, by the way. It’s funny how different kids can be.)

To make it up to him we went mini golfing afterward. He loved it!

Watching Shepard play made me think he’d make a much better hockey player. 🙂

He got a hole in one on his second course!

Lovely photo.

For the 4th of July we went to Cedar Lake. Disappointed that I’d once again miss all the big Columbus activities, I dragged everyone to the carnival on the night of the 3rd to check things out. It was all so expensive that we just played on the playground! One of these years I’ll get to see the huge Columbus parade…

The guys feeding the fish oatmeal at Cedar Lake.

It was a very laid back and quiet day.

Trying to get a nice family photo is pretty difficult these days!

Not so bad.

Caden has turned into such a HUGE water bug this summer. He’s always seemed to enjoy swimming, but now I think it’s definitely his favorite thing in the world to do. He absolutely loved floating on this tube on the 4th!

Shepard, however, was scared to death. (Again, the differences – and not what you’d expect.)

Back at Grandma and Grandpa’s house we did a couple of mild fireworks. Unfortunately, Caden was misbehaving pretty badly at this point in the day and both boys had to go to bed early. No fireworks for any of us this year. I was really disappointed since they’re both at the perfect age to enjoy them. 🙁 I had really been looking forward to watching with them.

So, to try and make up for lack of fireworks, we went to the local pool the next night. They both were in heaven! We’ve been back three times since then. Next year we’re definitely going to have to invest in that season pass. If it were up to Caden we’d be there every day!

We went fishing for the third time with my family. Greg finally gave in and bought a fishing license so he could join in. He seemed to enjoy it a lot more once he could participate!

The fish weren’t biting that day, but Shepard still caught one!

In the middle of all this other stuff I’ve been sewing, researching sewing tips, searching for patterns, buying fabric, and practicing as many new things as I can fit in. It’s hard to imagine what I was doing with all my time a mere three months ago before I opened my sewing machine up! Now I can’t imagine my life without it! I’ve been having so much fun! Above is a tiny teddy bear I made. I don’t like his eyes…

I also made these ducks! I plan to make a lot more of them in varying shades for my first craft fair booth in December! (By the way, I signed up to be in a craft fair!!)

And these love birds!

I wanted to make something for the boys to enjoy, so I created these monsters. They weren’t as excited as I had hoped, but I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

I’ve been trying some new Annie patterns to figure out which styles I enjoy making the most. I LOVE this one and decided to keep her for myself. I think I really like this pattern because it looks like an actual DOLL and not just a decoration.

I also learned how to make my first bag! It took me forever to decide what pattern I wanted to use. I wanted something simple, but stylish. I settled on this one and love how cute it turned out. The only problem was how tiny it was. Not very functional (until I realized it’s perfect for a handful of diapers and package of wipes!).

So I made a bigger size! I never realized how often I could use a tote bag until I actually had a nice one. I’ve been using it for everything this past week and a half.

After seeing my bags, my mom and friend both commissioned me to make two bags for them. I absolutely love this gray and mustard combination. I think it’s my favorite color combination, though I can’t get away with wearing it. Both my camera strap and my sewing machine cover are these colors. Love it.

Another of the bags. I love this color combination too. I also made floral and autumn bags for my mom.

And after learning how to make the tote bags I really wanted to try something smaller with a zipper. So I made little bags to match the totes! I LOVE the ruffle!

So pretty. These little bags have sparked a whole new obsession. Now instead of only hunting for perfect Annie dress fabric, now I’m constantly thinking about what patterns would look great on a tiny ruffled bag!

I made these for my sisters-in-law’s birthday. The pink and red one is my favorite so far.

Okay, back to the order of events for the month. (Sorry this is kind of scattered.) Last weekend Greg went to Chicago for a thing with a bunch of his online friends. And of course Shepard just happened to get sick while he was gone! Fortunately it was only a one day thing. So bizarre. We just cuddled all day.

The next morning we went to a flea market that’s been advertised for the last few months. I was disappointed in how small it was, but I did find some treasures. Ever since I committed to that craft fair in December I’ve been looking for cute things I can use to display my Annies. I was so excited to find this vintage suitcase in great condition for only $18!

I also found these gems – and everything was so cheap! I wish I could go to flea markets every weekend. The hunt alone is so much fun! I love the tiny green iron I found. I want to keep it for myself! 🙂

Later that day we had a family get together. Caden saw the tiny (dog) swimming pool and ran straight for it.

Shepard was back to his normal, silly self!

We went on a boat ride down the river.

Caden didn’t want to go, so Shepard and I had some bonding time. I feel like Shepard and I have been having a lot of that lately. He’s been sticking closer to my side and is always so interested in everything that I’m doing. I should soak it in before he’s Caden age and doesn’t care a whit about me anymore!

We had to stop and take a picture of this on the way home. Pretty cool!

Eating his first corn of the season. Gross picture. 🙂

A belated chocolate berry birthday tart. Berries make anything look delicious.

And I’m caught up! Yesterday we went to “our spot” on the river. We haven’t been there since last year and Caden asks about it all the time. We’ve had some much cooler weather this week so it seemed like the perfect time to go.

Despite all the fun it looks like we’ve had, this has been a really, really hard month. I know a lot of people get depressed in winter, but summer is definitely my down season. I hate being hot, I can’t stand the headaches I get from even five minutes in direct sunlight, and I somehow find it harder than ever to deal with being a mom.

This month especially has been ROUGH. Caden started summer school a few weeks ago and it’s like that forced hour of being good creates this need inside of him to act out ten times worse at home. The part that bothers me the most is how violent he is. The tiniest irritant causes him to lash at Shepard or me. He’s constantly punching us, kicking, screaming, etc. And I have NO IDEA how to deal with it. I was hoping it would just be a little phase with the start of school, but three weeks later he’s still going strong.

I’ve also been struggling so much keeping the house clean. I think one of the hardest parts about being a stay at home mom is pretty much everything you do feels pointless. At least I feel that way. I clean something up and three minutes later it’s a mess again. And that’s my entire day. I’m to the point where I don’t even want to try anymore because it’s completely useless! Shepard literally walks through the house all day long just pulling things down and scattering them on the floor. He doesn’t even think about it. And Caden has a habit of taking out every toy he owns and never putting a single thing away. It’s so completely frustrating. And besides the boys, my cats are just as bad!! Jack is usually knocking things off the counters and tables and Rory is obsessed with my sewing supplies. Even though everything is well covered, he finds ways to knock things over looking for stray threads. It’s infuriating! When my house is messy I feel like I can’t focus on anything. And my house is always messy.

Anyway. July is almost over. July always seems to be the worst month of my year. I’m hoping August will be better. Tomorrow is already Caden’s last day of summer school and then we have a month to find other fun things to do. I feel like June was wasted because of my allergies and the garage sale, July was wasted because of summer school and the heat, so we need to make up for it all in August! Somehow, someway, I’ll find my stride again.

Back to the river. I don’t want to imply every single moment of this month has been horrible, because it hasn’t been. I’ve also been learning how to focus on my kids a little more and stop being so selfish. It’s hard because I constantly feel guilty for what I’m not doing. If I’m sewing I feel bad I’m ignoring other responsibilities. If I’m doing something with the boys I feel bad I’m not cleaning. There’s never a winning situation. So I’m trying to just go with the flow and at least do one thing a day that I know they will really enjoy. I’m glad we went to the river yesterday. They loved it.

Finally – today! I’m caught up! I’ll try and make photos and blogging a little higher on my priority list in the future. I’m sure most of you have already given up on me by this paragraph! 🙂

Happy end of July!