Caden’s 11th Birthday and All the Things

This past week was PACKED with fun activities and celebrations! I was a little apprehensive about so many things happening in so little time, but it ended up going really well! It helped that I didn’t actually end up having a ton of prep work to do (plus Greg did most of the housework), so I had a pretty healthy mix of down time and party time. And NOTHING stressful or dramatic happened. I think that’s a first!

I don’t remember much of what happened earlier last week, except that I ran a lot of errands and made six new dolls. I still wish I were producing these dolls at a faster pace, but I need to just accept life is too busy for this couple week span of September to get to everything I want to. And it’s okay.

On Thursday I had a pretzel dinner with my mom and the boys again, just like we did last month before our sign painting class.

Then we painted! I designed both mine and my mom’s sign ahead of time. Brushed off my rusty Illustrator skills and it was so much fun! I wish I had picked a slightly different color scheme for mine, making it a little easier to read. But I’m mostly happy with it. I think I’m going to take the class again in October. If anyone wants to join me, it’s right after my birthday and is SO MUCH FUN. πŸ™‚

On Friday afternoon I took Annie to the dog park for the first time since her attack. We were the only ones there and didn’t stay that long, but she loved having the chance to run around for a little bit. I think she’s just dying to have some playtime and the longer I wait the more insane she’ll probably act around other dogs, so I should just bite the bullet and take her at a busier time one of these days. It’s just been so nice out this week we’ve been going on long walks instead.

Right after school I took the boys to Beaver Dam to meet up with all of Greg’s family to have dinner together and celebrate my brother-in-law Alex’s birthday a week early. He’s never been in Wisconsin anywhere near his birthday, so it was the first time we could celebrate with him in person. That was probably the only issue we had the whole weekend – Caden kept bursting into tears and shouting that he just wanted to be alone. CLASSIC introvert behavior. He’s also had a really bad cold the last week or so and he’s been very short tempered and emotional. Once we got to the restaurant, though, everything was fine.

We told the waiter that we were celebrating all three birthdays, so they got to wear sombreros and eat sopapillas. It got a little rowdy!

Typical silly boy.

Saturday morning was a little crazy because I had a lot of errands to run. I got up super early and picked up the bagels I had ordered for Caden’s party. Then I did a quick rush around the farmers market because I hadn’t been there in so long. A storm was brewing, though, so it wasn’t very relaxing or enjoyable as I was rushing to get back to my car before the rain started. Then I had to pick up a few groceries before heading even further west to pick up the cake for the retirement party. I went back home and crashed for a few hours while Greg took care of all the house cleaning for the birthday party. I finally rallied some energy and got the kitchen mostly set up and then got dressed up for the retirement party.

We had a small, but very nice retirement party for my mother-in-law Cindy in a private room at Buck and Honey’s in Sun Prairie. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was jovial, and the restaurant itself was fancy enough to feel special, without being over the top.

Caden was being a little whiny again. It’s hard to have a lot of things going on your birthday weekend that don’t have anything to do with you. Even I get that way around MY birthday and Mother’s Day, so I get it. He was allowed to get a sundae in place of cake and then proceeded to completely ignore the whole table of people singing to him.

The original Noe family. We did get a photo with everyone, but it’s probably going to be a Christmas card picture, so I don’t want to spoil it.

We decided to treat the boys like toddlers who are incapable of understanding restaurant/party etiquette and let them just play games and watch videos after they were done eating. It was really nice for Greg and I to finally just be part of the adult group without constantly having reminders that we’re mom and dad to kids who like to be verrrry difficult around other people. Throwback to the last time everyone was together in July and Caden had his biggest most epic meltdown/tantrum of all time. I didn’t want a repeat performance.

On Sunday morning we had Caden’s birthday party bright and early! I decided to give myself a break with so much going on and ordered/bought most of the food so I didn’t have to worry about making much ahead of time. I did cook all the bacon on Friday and made a batch of granola. And I cooked the sausage Sunday morning. I got two dozen bagels from Gotham Bagels in downtown Madison. And I ordered three kringles from Racine Kringle to be his “cake.” It’s one of his favorite foods and I almost never buy them, so he was really happy with that surprise. I also picked up some yogurt, set up a coffee station, made a harvest punch, and Cindy brought berries to go with the yogurt and my mom made a beautiful berry filled fruit pizza. It was A LOT of amazing food. So tasty.

Annie was being so needy during the party. She usually only makes me hold her hand during car rides, but apparently she needed some support in the house that day. She also had an abundance of energy since it was raining all weekend and she didn’t get any exercise – plus cooped up in her kennel quite a bit while we were gone.

It was a nice and relaxed party! Before it started I was looking at timehop photos from his third birthday when I took really nice pictures of him with every single person who attended the party. I was determined to do that again, and then only got as far as one photo with the aunts. Oops. It’s very hard to get kids to cooperate once they’re past age 2 or 3!

I took a nap after everyone left and then made some chocolate chip cookie dough cups for his school treat.

We weren’t sure what to do on Sunday night – I wanted to go out as a special treat, but restaurants aren’t treats to Caden. He hates them. And we’d already gone out three nights in a row. But he finally agreed and we went to Bel Air Cantina – what has quickly become “our” family place in the last year. It’s the only restaurant we go to just the four of us!

The boys are WAY more excited about eating the unlimited chips and unique salsas than the actual meal food, but Greg and I like it. Caden was given Mexican s’mores for a birthday dessert.

And finally Monday was Caden’s official 11th birthday!

It was also the first day of fall, so I broke into my bag of Brandywine Small Wonder fall blend coffee. I do have to give a little PSA – this brand of coffee is AMAZING. It is what’s broken me from only drinking flavored coffees and opened up a whole new world of what coffee can actually taste like. Every single blend I’ve had is so delicious. My only problem is that when I only drink one cup a day, I have so much to use up and they release new blends every single week that sound so good! I need to have more coffee mornings. Speaking of, I wanted to have one this week, but I’m just too exhausted from everything that’s been going on. NEXT WEEK.

It was also Annie’s 4.5 birthday. I forgot to get her anything, but she definitely helped Caden open his gifts – she loves opening presents. Originally we thought we’d have a pretty rushed evening because it was Lego League night, but we decided to let him skip it just this once. We’ve been so busy and he’s had this awful cold that he deserved a chance to just chill out and have a good night at home.

It was a VERY low key night – all Caden ever wants from life. I made tacos for dinner and brownies for dessert. He loved all his new gifts and spent the whole night playing some new video games. He was very happy.

And that was our week! We survived! It went WELL. And now I’m in recovery mode. I’ve been working a lot yesterday and today, but also went on some long walks and did a yoga video for the first time in ages. Life really isn’t going to settle down for a few more weeks. Cindy’s birthday is Thursday and Friday I’m off to Cranberry Fest. I have some appointments and things I need to get done next week. And then it’s MY birthday. πŸ™‚ And then things will slow down a little, at least until November when I head to North Carolina. Today, though…I’m just exhausted. But we made it.

Caden’s 10th Birthday and Weekend Reflections 09.23.2018

What a crazy week! I’m so exhausted right now I’m not even sure how much sense this blog post will make. I’ve been feeling a bit ragged these last few days. Birthday season is exhausting! But it’s been fun too. Here’s a somewhat quick recap of the week!

On Sunday morning we had Caden’s family party. I made a big donut tower as his cake and the main food. I also served apple cheddar scones, cheesy hashbrowns, bacon, and sausage.

My mom brought yogurt and fruit and granola to add a bit of a healthy element to our meal. πŸ™‚

We got to have some Hudson time at the party! He can walk now, so that’s pretty exciting. He’s so dang adorable!

It was a fun party! Everyone cleared out around noon to watch the Packer game – we have no way to play it, we’re not football people. But Caden was happy to spend the rest of the day gaming. We’ve been trying a new rule this school year where they aren’t supposed to have screens during the week, but can pretty much play whenever they want during the weekend. That’s probably not super healthy either, but it’s kind of nice not constantly fighting over the logistics of every gaming session. Those “negotiations” all summer pretty much did me in.

Monday was an errand day for me, and then the first night of Running Club and Lego League for Caden. As much as he LOVED the summer school Running Club, he hates this one. It was also crazy hot and humid on Monday, so I’m hoping when it’s much cooler tomorrow he’ll enjoy it more. This is a year long thing that I don’t want to force him into if he truly hates it, but we’re hoping he gives it a few more weeks before making a decision. This is the first year either of them have shown any interest whatsoever in after school activities, so if he keeps up with even one of them I think I’ll be happy.

Tuesday was a work day. Pretty uneventful otherwise.

Wednesday was busy. The first late start of the year and then I had my first appointment with an internal medicine doctor to discuss my high blood pressure. I was put on meds while I start working on having a healthier lifestyle and hopefully eventually not needing the meds indefinitely. The appointment gave me a lot to think about. I have mixed feelings on all of it. I’m not going to get into it today.

I spent Wednesday afternoon book browsing and hanging out at a few of my favorite stores while I waited for Greg to finish working. I had dropped him off before my appointment because we had a big date night planned and it seemed dumb to drive two cars to Madison when we were starting our days within a mile of each other. My mom took care of the boys at night so we could stay out as long as we wanted.

The main objective of our date night was to try and find a big comfy chair for my birthday present. I’ve been wanting a chair like this basically my entire adult life. We’ve just never had room for one. But I had a corner spot ready in the living room and reallllllly wanted one and Greg said it was time. I was actually surprised at how many chairs like this we found! They’re called chair and a halfs, apparently. It was huge. I really liked the very first one we found, but we decided on this one at the fourth store we went to. I’m actually pretty surprised I found one at all that I liked enough to buy. I am very furniture picky! But I loved it.

We had dinner then at an Indian restaurant in Middleton. Because we’re practically the same person sometimes, I ordered chicken vindaloo and Greg ordered beef vindaloo. With garlic naan. It was all delicious!

We ended our date with a stop at Marshall’s. I had planned to go here earlier in the day, but sadly, there was as terrible shooting in the area earlier in the day. If I had gotten out of my doctor’s appointment earlier, I would have been there when it happened. It definitely added a sobering layer to the day, but we had a good night out. I hope we can start having more elaborate date nights like this more often than just for special occasions.

On Thursday morning I had a haircut. Once again my stylist didn’t go as short as I had asked. But at least it holds a curl again. I wish I liked my hair. It just always looks horrific if I don’t curl it or put it up. I don’t really like the way it looks up either. I don’t think there’s ever been a point in my life when I liked my hair.

I finished up my first batch of Halloween dolls Thursday afternoon. So cute!

I made some jumbo cookies for Caden’s class treat on Friday. Then I spent most of the day getting ready for his friend party in the afternoon.

We decided to have a super low key birthday party this year with just the neighborhood kids and one extra friend. The main goal of the party was to play Minecraft together. They never left this room! Such a nice difference from Shepard’s last party where the kids screamed, ran, and destroyed our house every single minute they were here. We’ve decided we’re only doing video game parties from now on!

He picked a dirt cake for this birthday dessert. I got away without making a single cake this year! Kid birthday cakes are my most hated things to bake.

Things got a bit wild at present time. Caden’s friends picked out some great gifts, though! They know him really well. And I appreciate that they took an interest and picked things out themselves that they knew he would like. I can never get my kids to show any interest in any birthday gifts they’re supposed to pick out. As a love language gift giver person, it almost kills me how little they care!


I took a spontaneous trip to the farmer’s market early Saturday morning. I love the fall markets so much, but they also overwhelm me. I want to buy everything, but I don’t want to CARRY everything. I only ended up buying a cantaloupe, peppers, and carrots. And I picked up some bagels for a birthday breakfast. When I got back home our chair was in the lawn! They gave us a window of it being delivered between 8 and 6. Greg got an email at 7:40 that it had arrived (except he was still sleeping). Pretty funny sight to come home to! I figured we’d have to recruit a neighbor or two to help us get it in the house, but we actually squished it through just the two of us pretty smoothly!

Because the weather finally cooled off and the mosquitoes disappeared (hopefully for good!), I ran Annie to the dog park for an hour while Greg gt the chair legs on. This thing is massive, guys. I knew it was bigger than what I had originally envisioned, but I didn’t think it was going to take up the entire length of wall I had available! Well, I had wanted it angled so I could still see the little bookcase I had against this wall, but that just looked ridiculous. So after a bunch of going back and forth on arrangements and lamp options, we ended up with this. I think it looks pretty good.

I had to move over my falling apart cookbook shelf to make room for the little one next to it. This looks pretty dumb! But I don’t have any more wall space, in any room, for my bookshelf and I refuse to get rid of it! I had a fun time going through all my books again to get rid of ones I don’t want and rearranging by color.

Everyone had to check out the new chair!

It’s very cozy!

The chair is right where Annie used to have a dog bed, so I think she thinks we got this just for her. Rory liked it so much that he joined her on the chair in the evening!! Those two NEVER go by each other. (I should say, Rory never willingly stays by Annie.)

Annie snuggling some more this morning while Caden spent his morning doing games in the other room.

Present time! I realize this looks like an insane amount of presents, but I promise it was all really little things I’ve just been picking up here and there. We couldn’t commit to anything big he might have liked, so I’ve just been on the lookout for small things he might enjoy. It was a lot of used books, Harry Potter brickheadz, sunflower seeds, and snacks. He seemed pretty happy with all of it. Again, he’s not much of a gift person – giving or receiving.

He was pretty disappointed to see that he’s only grown an inch in the last year. He used to be one of the tallest kids in his grade and now all of his friends have passed him up.

We had tacos for lunch (also what we had Friday night) and peanut butter bars for his official birthday dessert.

To get out of the house for a bit on this beautiful day, we tried out a new fall fun place called Enchanted Valley Acres in Cross Plains. It was a bit of a drive, but fun to do something different.

We went during the Packer game so it would be less crowded. There were so many activities. I think the human hamster wheels were their favorite. There was also a huge 200 foot slide.

As is often the case, they both got fixated on something and it kind of ruined their ability to have fun. First it was Caden needing a drink and thinking he was going to die until he had one. There was a Hawaiian ice food truck set up so they each got one of those and then they got obsessed with wanting to do the gem mining, which is of course extra money. Finally they were satisfied with just playing in the water.

I liked this giant corn pit type thing.

The guys ended our trip going in the corn maze and I got my own Hawaiian ice. Corn mazes are not my thing. My ankle had also had enough of bumpy ground at that point.

The rest of the birthday has been pretty low key. Lots more video games. They took a short bike ride. They talked to most of the relatives via video chat. And Greg picked up Chinese food for dinner. At the moment I think he’s feeling very overtired, but it was a good day. It’ll be a long time before he has another weekend birthday.

Sunday Intentions

Another busy week ahead as September festivities continue. Greg’s parents are making their way back from Greece and we’ll be celebrating Cindy’s birthday at some point. I’m hoping for one kind of fun errand day – I might see a movie – on Tuesday, and working as hard as I can Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And Friday I’m off to Cranberry Fest as the crack of dawn with my parents. Always one of my favorite days of the year, so I’m very excited!

My only real intention for the week is to try and enjoy life. I get really caught up in how many things need to be done every day and am often feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But this is the best time of the year and I want to enjoy it! I’m definitely really behind at my seasonal doll making, but I don’t want doll making to take over my life the way it has in the past. So…if I get a lot done, that’s great. If I don’t, it simply means I was doing more important life work. I’ll survive either way.

Have a good week!

Caden’s 9th Birthday Parties

IMG_3114 potions

Over the weekend we celebrated Caden’s birthday with his friends and family. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever had parties a week after his birthday, which was a little bit weird. In a way it was nice to spread out, but there’s also some positives to just powering through everything all in one weekend! It does make September as a whole a bit less chaotic. At any rate, it was fun! He picked Harry Potter for his theme this year. I found so many cool decorating ideas online, but ended up just going with the simplest and cheapest – potion bottles from Hobby Lobby filled with colored waters. At the friend party, every single kid asked me what each particular potion was for. I was not prepared with answers!

IMG_3121 frogs

I bought a chocolate frog mold because it showed up on amazon every time I searched Harry Potter party supplies. I figured just filling them with plain almond bark was pretty boring, so I made m&m, mint, Andes candies, sea salt, and salted caramel chip frogs.

IMG_3124 rock candy

Greg and the boys were doing a rock candy experiment the week before and it turned out that the sticks were done the same day as the party, so we laid them out as wands.

IMG_3126 polyjuice potion

Polyjuice potion punch. I just used the same punch potion I use at basically every single party – 2 bottles of 7up, 1 can of pineapple orange juice concentrate, and lime sherbet. Plus some extra neon green food coloring for this party.

IMG_3119 fudge

Butterbeer fudge. Which was really just a mix of butterscotch and vanilla fudges, with marshmallows on top.

IMG_3120 snitches

Golden snitches made from Ferrero Rocher truffles and a wing template I found online. Originally I wanted to make golden cake pops with some sort of edible wings, but after some disastrous attempts at cake pops for my brother’s birthday in August, I decided it wasn’t worth the struggle!

IMG_3116 dessert table

The main dessert was butterbeer cupcakes. I thought the kids would think they were cool, but they quickly ate all the other food and nobody wanted a cupcake. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who ate one and it wasn’t really that good. No big deal, just wish I hadn’t spent the time making them! We had chocolate covered pretzel wands too. And gummy shaped witch/sorting hats I randomly found in Door County.

IMG_3133 leaf pile

The party started with all the boys playing in our giant leaf pile. They were having fun. And it was very messy!

IMG_3136 pizza snake

Then we came in for dinner. I made this pizza bread snake. It’s one of my all time favorite recipes and I only ever make it on Halloween. Need to change that! I also used a baguette to make a long sandwich which I sliced into little pieces and shaped like a snake. And we had chex mix, which I called muggle munch.

IMG_3138 presents hat

Present time next. I somehow always think everyone will settle down while my kid opens his presents. No such luck! Surely they know how to sit and stay sitting at school?!

IMG_3153 presents

Lots of awesome gifts from his friends! I think they all picked out their own gifts to give him and showed that they know Caden pretty well.

IMG_3155 bean boozled

I bought a box of Bernie Bott’s jelly beans, so they played the Beanboozled game. It was pretty hilarious how into it they all were!

IMG_3166 sorting hat

One of his friends gave him a sorting hat, so they had to do a sorting ceremony.

IMG_3171 hat

This is the one kid who absolutely, no matter what, did NOT want to be in Gryffindor.

IMG_3174 cake time

And cake time. I could not get Caden to take the rock candy out of his mouth or smile. You think that young kids are uncooperative for photos you want to mean a lot. Think again! The older the kid the more they refuse to cooperate!

IMG_3199 cupcakes

As close as we were going to get!

IMG_3210 harry potters

The rest of the party was spent running around outside. Whew, did those kids have energy! I apologize to my neighbors for the noise!! I’m glad it was such a nice day that we could send them out to play in between everything. Overall, it was a really nice party. I think Caden had fun. And I liked doing it on a Friday because everyone was available (as opposed to its originally scheduled Saturday time, when literally nobody could come for the whole thing) AND I didn’t have the boys home all day freaking out about how long it was until the party started.

IMG_3213 the cake

We celebrated Caden’s family party on Sunday. After having no interest in the butterbeer cupcakes, Caden said he didn’t care about this dessert either. So I went with something I would like. I don’t normally like cake all that much, but it’s fun when I can be a little extravagant and go over the top with decadent flavors.

IMG_3221 amy and caden

Halfway between our birthdays, so kind of my cake anyway. πŸ™‚

IMG_3223 big cake

I had to take a lot of cake pictures! It was a triple layer homemade chocolate cake soaked with butterscotch sauce. Salted caramel frosting and chocolate ganache. Topped with gold sprinkles, sea salt flakes, and homemade toffee shards. It was delish!

IMG_3226 dessert table

Mostly the same desserts, though I upgraded to some fancy chocolate covered pretzel wands I found at Costco last week. Oh and little cups of mini animal crackers, which I was calling Patronuses.

IMG_3228 polyjuice

More of the same punch. I think I’ll have to change it up for the next family party. But this one is pretty delicious and so easy!

IMG_3229 veggies

We had a big taco bar for lunch, which is what we have at almost every party. I thought about doing something different, but tacos are Caden’s favorite food, so it made sense. I might need to be more creative for Shepard’s party next year.

IMG_3235 cousins and annie

We were so excited to see Hudson for the first time in six weeks! It’s amazing how fast babies change in the first year. He was awake for most of the party, which was awesome. Annie was very curious about him, particularly his feet!

IMG_3236 cute cousins


IMG_3243 sweet hudson

He was so entertaining!

IMG_3249 confused hudson

Wondering why I keep flashing lights at him.

IMG_3260 presents

Presents. He got a lot of Harry Potter and magic themed gifts this year.

IMG_3264 broomstick

IMG_3269 annies new bone

Greg took Annie to the dog park in the morning to wear off her energy and she was pretty great for most of the party. But something about us all sitting and watching Caden hyped her up, so we gave her a new bone. She thought she’d settle in next to my dad to chew it. He wasn’t having that!

IMG_3270 magic science

IMG_3275 laser tag

IMG_3287 magic set

IMG_3289 magician

I don’t think he’s ever even seen a magician, but he had the showmanship down pat when he demonstrated his first few magic tricks. It was so funny!

IMG_3295 magic tricks

IMG_3302 birthday boy

IMG_3316 birthday boy

It was another great party! Many thanks to everyone who helped my boy celebrate his last year in the single digits!

Caden’s 9th Birthday


Yesterday was Caden’s 9th birthday. How do we already have a nine year old?! I feel like he’s been in our lives forever, and yet it flew by in the blink of an eye. He’s definitely growing up! One last year in the single digits.

20170923_070356 breakfast

We started the day eating Dunkin’ Donuts, which they picked out the night before after seeing the Ninjago Lego movie with Greg.

IMG_3028 presents

Once everyone was awake we moved on to presents!

IMG_3040 quiddich

Shepard was suffering from some severe jealousy. I don’t even want to think about how bad it might be next weekend when Caden has his birthday parties. He does NOT like the attention being solely on Caden.

IMG_3046 mario game

We gave him the newest Mario game, which he was very excited about.

IMG_3055 minecraft legos

And a big Minecraft Lego set.

IMG_3061 geodes

Shepard gave Caden some geodes. Mostly because he wanted geodes for himself and hoped/expected Caden to share.

IMG_3071 whoopie cushion

And a giant whoopie cushion. Along with a few books, a bathrobe, Harry Potter Clue, a collectable quidditch set, and a golden snitch keychain.


After presents, the guys immediately had to try out the new Mario game. And basically played that the entire day. I was kind of disappointed we couldn’t think of anything more exciting to do at least part of the day. But it was 95 degrees with horrible humidity again and nobody wanted to be outside. I also relapsed with the queasiness I had earlier in the week and just plain didn’t have energy for anything beyond making him food. So it was a quiet day, mostly at home, playing video games. Which is pretty much Caden’s ideal day. We did go out for a little bit to get lunch at Taco Bell and pick some raspberries at Grandma’s house.

IMG_3078 hammer

Working on smashing up some geodes.

IMG_3079 caden's geodes

IMG_3080 hammer

IMG_3082 shepard geode

IMG_3072 dinner

Caden requested “noodles” for his birthday dinner. Maybe someday my kids will mix their noodles with their sauce.

IMG_3086 annies half birthday

Yesterday was also Annie’s half birthday. She was found as a stray on March 23rd, so that’s the date the humane society listed as her birthday. They said she was 3 and our vet thought she was closer to 1 or 2, so we’re saying that she’s now 2.5.

IMG_3093 birthday boy

I’m glad he picked such easy meals and desserts because I was so worn out from Cranberry Fest and not feeling great. Cookie dough ice cream was pretty easy on me! Though I did make extra cookie dough and butterscotch sauce for topping.

IMG_3095 dessert

IMG_3111 candle blow

I think nine will be a good year for him! He seems to really like school again now that he’s in third grade. They do so many fun things! He has a lot of deep interest in coding, gardening, and basically anything techy. He loves to read, which makes me so happy. And he of course loves video games.

20170923_192330 brushing annie

He also loves our animals! He’s the only one Annie will let brush her. He’s Jack’s favorite human and they cuddle in bed every night while he reads.


Annie chewing on her new nine braided bully stick.

And that was the day! Not particularly exciting, but it’s what made him happy. He ended the night by sleeping on the futon. I’m not sure why he gets so excited about that, but apparently it feels extra special. I think overall he had a pretty great day!

Busy Week Recap and Sunday Intentions

Amy and Caden

Ooh boy, it was a big week. I had plans to write about all that I did,Β right after it happened, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Busy, busy. I feel like these Sunday Intentions posts are becoming much more about evaluating the week past instead of talking about the week ahead. But I like the journaling aspect of these posts and remembering the details of big and small things that happened over the week. So here goes.


On Monday, Caden had his final IEP meeting. He passed! He is no longer in speech therapy and requiring any type of special education services. Which is awesome. It’s truly amazing how far he’s come in the last few years. When he was 18 months old and still not saying any words, the doctors were becoming concerned and wanted us to keep an eye on things. Around two years old, we moved back to Wisconsin and got him into Birth to 3. Right at three he started taking speech therapy twice a week and was diagnosed with an apraxia of speech, which means the words were not connecting properly from his brain to his mouth. In 4K we still couldn’t understand more than half of the words he said. And that was us, the people who knew him best. He was practically unintelligible to anyone else, and other kids were occasionally making fun of him for it. Β In kindergarten, first grade, and now second grade, he’s been continuing therapy at school, but very unhappy about it because he missed so much in regular class. He was often taken out of class 2-3 times a week, and it was progressively becoming more a lot upsetting to him. And finally, in the last few months, we all decided that he was ready to graduate from it! He’s worked very hard the last six and a half years, and I’m incredibly proud of him. A few years ago, I honestly thought he’d still be taking speech into middle school. He’s done awesome!

Heart Model

On Tuesday morning, we had to take Shepard to the Children’s Hospital for an echocardiogram. He’s been sick a lot this winter and in January the doctor noticed a heart murmur. She thought it was probably because he was dehydrated, but wanted him to come back to get it checked out again later. She could still hear it that appointment, so we were sent to a pediatric cardiologist for a more official consultation.


It was a long morning. The doctor listened and said, “That’s not a murmur, that’s a click! A click is a lot worse!!” She was quite enthusiastic about it. She wanted to get us in for the echo, which apparently we weren’t actually scheduled for. So we had to wait to get fit into the schedule and then we had to wait for insurance to decide if they would cover it or not. All while thinking about what the words “that’s a lot worse!” could mean.


Long story short, he is totally fine. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ He did a great job laying on the table during the echo. It lasted about an hour. A very long hour! The doctor came back when it was over and declared that he was totally and completely fine. We asked what the click was and she shouted, “I have no idea!” She thought perhaps he just has an acoustic chest… Then she stood there and repeatedly asked Shepard to promise he’d never smoke because that’s the worst thing he could do for his heart. He kept staring at her blankly and I suggested that he probably doesn’t even know what smoking is because I don’t think he’s ever seen a smoker. But she continued to say she was serious and she needs a promise from him. It was an interesting appointment. But we’re so grateful that everything turned out to be great.


On Tuesday night, Greg was called out to help my brother with a broken down car situation. So I was alone with the boys at night, which practically never happens. We decided to use the time to finally look through the Gurney’s catalog and plan out our gardens. We went out and took measurements, made an official gardening notebook, and drew a to scale plot for us to plan it all out. Caden re-wrote our list of seeds we bought, and a few extra plants we’ll want to buy when it’s time. We’re planning to start a few things in one of those early seed starters too. I’m pretty excited about it! The boys aren’t often interested in things they can do with me, and I’m not particularly interested in the things they love the most (i.e. video games), so it’s really exciting to have this big project the three of us can work on together throughout the next many months.


On Wednesday, I was working hard to finish up a big batch of dolls. I was looking forward to finally catching up and making some sales. And then because of construction and/or a truck hitting a line and/or a windstorm blowing down a tower, we were without internet and cell signal for the entire day! It was pretty crazy. Definitely makes you realize how much you rely on that technology to feel connected to the world. Being home alone with the insane winds, not having any way to contact anyone, was kind of freaky. And also extremely frustrating because I couldn’t get anything listed until very late that night. On a positive note, I did go with Laura to the Rio Drumfit class. It was fun to be there again. I think we’ll continue going on weeks that it works out for us. But I still wish the class would come back to Columbus. Much more convenient night and location.

Lego Batman

On Thursday I decided to catch up on cleaning the house. When I’m in the middle of a big batch of dolls, I tend to let a lot of the housework go. So I spent the majority of the day just putzing around.

On Friday, there was no school (no idea why), so Greg took the day off and we had a family day. We went to see the new Lego Batman movie. It’s the first time all four of us have ever seen a movie in the theater together! I thought it was pretty funny!

Friday night the boys went on a sleepover and Greg and I had a date night. We were feeling pretty lazy, so we just stayed in and basically watched six hours of tv. But it was kind of awesome! It’s pretty rare we spend such a solid block of time together. And a treat to actually binge watch a show (Superstore!) all in the same night. Reminds me of life before kids when we’d watch episode after episode of 24 every single night. πŸ™‚ Anyway, it was fun.


And finally, my girls weekend in Galena! We’ve been planning this for over two months and it was great to finally have happen! Life has been crazy and I really needed the break from everything. It was also just really cool to connect with my friends longer than the two minute conversations we barely manage at the playground after school.

We spent most of Saturday going through some of the unique little shops in the downtown area. We all found some fun treasures! We also went to two wine tastings. I’ve never done wine tastings before, but it was really fun! I’m so unaccustomed to alcohol, so I liked trying out things I would never consider buying if I just looked at the bottle. We also went to a couple fun restaurants and pubs and then spent most of the night just chilling out at our two bedroom villa with pizza, cheese, and our favorite wines. We all caught up on sleep and reveled in a day and a half of not needing to be moms! I had a really great time and look forward to doing it again in the future! πŸ™‚


So onto this week! Thankfully, the calendar is looking a lot more open. Except for that it’s Pi Day on Tuesday, the Ides of March on Wednesday, Guster Day on Thursday, and St. Patrick’s Day on Friday. I’m not really sure how to celebrate on Wednesday and Thursday, but Greg always likes to make special note of those days!

Focus: Work!

It’s a working week. I need to make up for getting very little done last week. I volunteered to make some raffle baskets for the school spring carnival coming up, which I’m very excited about, I just don’t have a single thing made for them yet. So that’s my first priority, and then I need to get going hard core on Easter dolls and bunnies. The clock is ticking!! I still feel so very behind. My new system of writing down my hours has really been interesting. I’m realizing that my goal of five hours a day is nearly impossible between errands, laundry, meals, and school pick ups and drop offs. And last week at least, almost all of those hours were put in after dinner. NOT the way I want it to be.

Second Focus: Me Time

This last week really left me drained. Getting away this weekend was a lot of fun, but I now kind of feel more tired than ever. As much as I want to get a lot of work done, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my health. So I’m planning to try and get to bed early, take naps if I need them, and try not to work so much at night. I’m also hopefully going to a fun vintage store with my mom on Wednesday night. Weather permitting. But it will hopefully work out and be a really fun mid-week treat!

Meal Planning – I actually did it this week!

Monday – Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas – I always have chicken and a lot of peppers – easy peasy.

Tuesday (PI DAY) – Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie, based off of this recipe. It might be gross, it might be good, I can’t make up my mind. I don’t really like regular chicken pot pie, but maybe if I make some sort of buffalo concoction it’ll be good. πŸ™‚ Also, perhaps this Peanut Butter Brownie S’mores Pie.Β 

Wednesday – Guys are on their own, assuming I can get to that shop

Thursday – Costco’s St. Patrick’s Day ravioli. I would save it for Friday, but we haven’t had pizza a couple Fridays in a row, so I want to get back on track.

Friday – Pizza. Maybe green pizza. Or at least shamrock shaped pizza. I made some quick jalapeno popper naan pizzas for dinner tonight which were pretty great. So maybe I’ll do that again, with extra jalapenos on top, and call it Irish!

Have a great week! Enjoy all the mini holidays! Though you probably don’t know who Guster is lol. πŸ™‚


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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Caden is master of the fake smile.

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

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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

I like this one. πŸ™‚

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!