Summer Goals Update and Saturday Reflections 06.30.2018

June is officially over and summer is already one month behind us! It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since school ended. It went by pretty quickly, but was also really packed. I accomplished quite a bit this month! Still trying to make up for my three months of being out of commission. I’ve had some super busy and stressful days where I expected way too much of myself, but I also think that overall I was pretty balanced. I’m feeling pretty good about how June went! I even accomplished quite a few of my summer goals. So many that I decided to give an update and add a few more!

Update on achievable goals:

  • Clean out my car.
  • Declutter all random piles in general living spaces.
  • Clean out the fridge and freezer.
  • Reorganize all sewing room supplies (new)
  • Clean out laundry room (new)

Car is clean! Greg did most of the work, but we finished that right away. I’m making pretty good headway on all general living spaces. My biggest problem is the family room, where the boys spend most of their time, where all the electronics are, and where everything coming into the house is dumped. It drives me INSANE that nobody else seems to care how crappy that room looks all the time. I just avoid it as much as possible, really only going in to eat dinner and watch tv with Greg at night. I’m pretty sure there’s no real solution here, but I’m trying my best to keep things under control in all other rooms of the house. Anyway, I cleaned the fridge and the basement freezer and Greg reorganized our basement pantry area. The main freezer is still a mess, but I’ve been trying to cook something out of it every day to minimize how full it is. I think this weekend I can finally clean it out for good.

As for my new goals – I have spent most of this week working on my sewing room! I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to work on new dolls, so I spent almost every day working on cleaning out and cataloging all my doll accessories, re-folding and categorizing all my fabric, and taking a better inventory of what yarns I have. It’s been great seeing all my stuff get back under control! With so many other rooms getting cleaned and organized, I decided to add the laundry room to the list too. It was pretty functional for a while, but then the boys and their friends decided to start playing hide and seek in the house – and the laundry room is pretty much the only place to hide. So it’s been destroyed. Seems like a good time to really go through everything we have and organize and get rid of what we don’t need.

Update on parenting goals:

  • Keep a large visual weekly calendar complete with any non-negotiable errands, day trips, or appointments. 
  • Enforce said calendar so they know that there’s no wiggle room to argue and complain if something was already planned for the day. 
  • STAY STRONG in parenting, not letting them take advantage of me in my weak moments (and not letting them knowingly make me weak with their incessant whining). Remember that I’m the MOM and if they’re mad at me, I will survive it. Having a child mad at me for enforcing perfectly reasonable parenting rules should not affect my mental energy the way it would if Greg or a friend or other adult family member felt that way about me!

I really like our calendar idea, though it hasn’t really said much this week besides going to summer school, play practice, and Grandma’s house. I’m hoping I can fully utilize it in the next few months when the boys need to know ahead of time which days we’ll be running errands or going on day trips so they can coordinate with their friends and hopefully avoid any meltdowns. Because our schedule has still been pretty static and mundane with summer school, I haven’t had a whole lot of fights come up – yet. They’re pretty happy if they have friends to play with. The biggest issue has been Caden not wanting to go to the pool anymore. None of his friends are ever there and he doesn’t like just swimming with Greg or Shepard. A few times Greg has asked me last minute to ask friends to join them, which is always fun because then I get to deal with all the rejections. 😛 There’s nothing I hate more than being rejected (even if I have no reason to take it personally)! Anyway, that’s probably been our biggest thing to deal with, which really isn’t THAT big. Just more frustrating to me because Caden ends up staying home and whining while Greg and Shepard go swimming and I still don’t manage to have any time to myself. I’m anticipating a lot more arguments and meltdowns once summer school no longer takes up half of their days.

Update on family connection goals:

  • Go on a two night family vacation. Make it happen.
  • Visit at least 5 new dog parks in the Madison area with Annie. 
  • After summer school is over, plan and go on at least one day trip or special outing a week. 
  • Take each child on an individual date night at least once per month. Try harder to have one on one time at home in between the date nights. 
  • Go on regular dates with Greg. (new)

I scheduled our family vacation! It was actually Greg’s idea. We’re going to LaCrosse in August. It’s actually turning into three (and a half) vacation ideas all crammed into a single week. We’re going on a weekend “trip” (half hour away) with Greg’s parents for two nights. Then we’re going to the State Fair with my family. Then I’m going on a SOLO VACATION to Minnesota just because I want to and I can. And then I’m meeting everyone in LaCrosse on my way home for two nights of family vacation. It’ll be a busy week! But fun. I’m really glad I made both trips happen and scheduled them as soon as possible once I realized that’s what I wanted to do.

I haven’t been to anymore dog parks yet. It was really rainy this month! And now it’s super hot. Annie likes hot weather about as much as me. 😛 Once summer school is out we’ll definitely take some more dog park adventures, though. I haven’t been great about individual dates either. I was supposed to go to the farmer’s market with Caden last weekend, but he flaked out on me at the last minute. I don’t know how to take him somewhere enjoyable when he flat out refuses to leave the house with me. I guess I just don’t give up, right?

I’m adding the goal to go on dates with Greg. This is always a tricky one. Technically, his parents take the boys one night a week, like 50 weeks of the year. We have NO EXCUSE not to go on an actual regular date. But somehow we’re always too tired, more interested in doing our own things, or it doesn’t feel like a justifiable reason to spend money. It also seems dumb to go back to Madison to a restaurant when Greg just got home from work in Madison. We always have an excuse. I’d like to make it more of a priority. In this season of our lives it’s so easy to drift apart. We have so little in common with each other, interest-wise. We’re so focused on parenting together that we don’t know how to have fun together anymore. I want to make this more of a top priority.

Update on personal achievement goals:

  • Prioritize self care. Know what you need to keep your sanity and DO IT. No excuses. 
  • Make at least 10 dolls per month. Work is not and should not be my highest priority over the summer months. But I know I need it to keep myself and my customers happy, so I need to at least do the bare minimum. 
  • Read. A lot. All the time. It’s worth it, it’s not being lazy. It’s important. And fun!
  • Write more than just my weekend blog posts. I love to write and this is a good time to do it more often! 

I’ve had good days and bad days with prioritizing self care. I’ve been a bit of a workaholic this month, but at least I can recognize it? I’ve tried to find ways to fit in at least a short power nap every day because it’s the only way I can survive. I think I’ve been doing pretty well at recognizing what I need to help myself mentally, but failing miserably at taking care of myself physically. I walk the boys to school each morning and this week I’ve tried to make my walks back home a little bit longer each day. But I was hoping to also add some indoor biking to my daily routine and I’ve only managed to do it twice. It’s just hard to talk myself into going down into the gross basement to bike when there are a gazillion other things I could be doing. I’ve also been AWFUL in my food making choices. I think it’ll be easier to stay on track when the boys are home all the time. I’ve noticed how they want to have a snack literally every half hour when they’re home. And I kind of feel the same way. But if I’m focused on them eating more healthy and balanced meals that don’t require twenty snacks a day, maybe I can get myself back on track too.

It’s been a pretty great work month. My goal was to make at least 10 dolls. I believe I’ve made at least 38. I’ve sold 37 dolls, which is more than I’ve sold in a month – EVER. I’ve really hit my sweet spot with Heartstring Annie, keeping people engaged and interested, putting out new dolls every few days – most of which sell out within an hour or two. I was doing really well until last week when I just lost all interest in sewing and decided to do the organizing instead. But I’m back in the middle of a bunch of dolls and hopefully July will be another good month. Though I also intend to take more time off with the boys home all the time. We’ll see how it balances out.

And reading! I had a rough start to the month, not interested in much. But I’ve been a reading maniac the last two weeks, finally finding books that I never want to put down. So I’m good on that! Writing hasn’t progressed a whole lot, but I did start writing for myself. Things that I’ll never publish, but still feed my soul.

Update on health related goals:

  • Be able to walk regularly by September. Hopefully with daily practice I can do that. I’ll start with trying to walk to and from summer school with the boys every day in June. Work up to dog parks and day trips. And hopefully be a lot stronger by fall. 
  • Keep healthy food stocked, prepped, and ready to eat. 
  • Keep meal planning simple, but in existence. Always have easy meals ready to make and on hand, so we don’t resort to eating junk food all day, every day. 
  • Stay cool, calm, and positive. I CAN DO THIS.

I guess I already talked about this in terms of self care. Physically taking care of myself has been a bit of a frustration. The orthotics have helped with my plantar fasciitis, but I definitely still have ankle pain. And if I take even a day off from a longer walk – which feels really necessary sometimes! – my hip starts hurting the next day. I do pretty well walking around on errands, grocery shopping and everything. But if I’m just out walking Annie, a few blocks feels like a few miles. I’m losing my confidence that I’ll be a lot better by fall. It’s pretty depressing.

I’ve been trying my hardest to keep healthy food stocked. But like I said – everyone seems to be STARVING all day long. I just can’t keep up! I cut up five mangoes the other day and Caden ate them all in two sittings. A whole watermelon is gone in a day. I’ve been buying yogurt and granola bars and string cheese that the boys run in and grab way more often than they probably should be. Everyone’s food intake seems to have increased tenfold which is requiring me to take multiple grocery trips a week. It’s been kind of overwhelming. I usually end up spending almost an entire day just prepping produce. It’s not really how I want to spend my time. But…I guess it needs to keep happening.

I definitely want to get better about meal planning in July. June ended up being a lot of one or two big meals a week that gave us leftovers for the rest of the days. Or we got leftovers from big family meals that lasted us a few days. Which is good! It’s nice to have fast and easy food on hand. But I think I want to try harder for ME. Find healthy meals that I actually like to eat for lunch. And breakfast. Plan out ahead of time all three meals all seven days. Make a solid grocery list and try to only have to go once a week. It should be pretty easy. But it’s things like this that often throw me off and stress me out the most. Organization and planning is definitely the key.

Saturday Reflections

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week! It’s been pretty straightforward with the boys in summer school and me cleaning up my sewing room. The boys both developed a summer cold that turned into me catching a major cough. I feel like absolute crap right now. Between overdoing it with baby holding and walking last weekend, allergies, pms, and now this cough – it’s been a rough week.

Caden had therapy on Tuesday that went okay. He really just talked to Greg and I the whole time and I’m not sure we really made any progress. I’ve noticed that he basically just asks us the same questions every single time, sometimes multiple times in a session. Is he listening? Retaining what we say? What is he doing on his laptop the whole time we’re talking? I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about it still.

Greg hurt his foot on Wednesday night, kicking the lawn mower when it was stuck in a thick clump of grass. I don’t think he broke anything, but he was in immense pain and has a few very bruised toes to show for it. I tried to keep the boys away from him, going to the dog park and pool that night.

On Thursday my sewing machine broke. I spent half the day feeling overwhelmed and super stressed, researching which new machine to buy. I was supposed to be spending the day relaxing and enjoying being home alone – the boys were at Grandma’s and Greg was working in Chicago. Then he got home and kicked the foot pedal (lots of kicking this week) and it turned back on. While it WAS a relief I don’t need to immediately buy a new one and make a decision I wasn’t ready to make, I ended up being more upset at how I wasted that extremely rare and precious night I had to myself.

And on Friday we went to see Jurassic World and had lunch at Chipotle. I was feeling pretty sick by then and not in the best of moods. But it was fun to do something together.

And now today we’re trying to take it easy and keep cool before going to the Mallard’s game tonight. Somehow we always manage to pick what feels like the hottest day of the year to go sit outside at a baseball game. At least it’s not until later in the evening when it hopefully will start cooling off. I can’t stand this heat!!

Well, that’s it for now! I’ll hopefully be back later with a tv and/or book post!

Late Weekend Reflections 06.18.2018: Summer School, Alice in Wonderland, and Father’s Day

I’ve been struggling with what to say about this past week. It wasn’t an easy week. I felt very overwhelmed, stressed, completely wiped out, overworked, irritable, and angry. There is really nothing to blame for any of it, except that it was a busy week. The busiest I’ve had since I broke my ankle. It also felt like the first week in almost four months that I suddenly had to take back over all my original responsibilities. Walking the boys to school, walking Annie, taking Annie to the dog park, actually taking her outside to go potty because she refuses to go for the boys anymore, running errands four of the five days of the week, driving the boys places, picking them up, packing not one, but two meals a day for them, while also still making them breakfast and a late dinner and snacks in between. It was just a lot. While I was also working from 5am to 9pm with my only “breaks” being everything listed above. I was mad at myself for my workaholic tendencies that I just can’t seem to shake, while also wanting to lash out and blame the all the circumstances around me that make me feel like I NEED to work and cook and clean and do laundry every single waking minute of my life. This isn’t how I want to live. But it was a mindset I just couldn’t seem to get rid of last week.

At any rate, there were definitely a lot of high points to the week. The boys started summer school on Monday morning. Even though they had a lot of moaning and groaning about it, they ended up really like their classes. Even the running club that Caden was so mad about doing! He was actually pretty angry the alternating days this week where they did stretches and indoor activities instead of running outside. They’re both taking a class called Maker Space where they just create things out of everyday objects that has turned out to be both of their favorites. They’re still not thrilled about needing to go to school in the summer, but it definitely helps that they each like all four of their classes. And they have a meeting spot so they can sit together at lunch! It was pretty cute listening to them work out those details on the walk Monday morning.

On Monday afternoon the boys had their first play practice! It was three hours long and they learned the rules, had auditions, learned their parts, and started practicing! I ended up staying the whole time because I was waiting in great anticipation to see who was assigned which parts! The whole audition process was pretty crazy. Though after watching the play on Saturday I think they cast everyone perfectly. It was kind of amazing. Caden got the roll of Cook and Shepard was part of a very long caterpillar where they stuck all the youngest kids they didn’t know what else to do with. Shepard, who was most worried about the play, ended up really enjoying it. Caden wasn’t very happy with all the boring parts, but I think he enjoyed actually putting the play on in the end.

Tuesday was a big day because it’s the first time I took Annie for a walk since my broken ankle! I was a little nervous, but it went pretty well. I walked her every morning after that too. It feels good to get out with her, but also – painful. I have plantar fasciitis back in full force on my right foot. Something I suffer from every summer with the extra walks I do – though it tends to alternate which foot and never both at the same time. But one is painful enough to make walking kind of miserable. 🙁 I’m supposed to be walking more to keep strengthening my ankle, but now it’s at the expense of my foot which is supposed to be rested when it gets this bad. I tried to compromise by only walking in the morning and having the boys come home on their own after school. I ordered some new orthotics and a special ice wrap for my foot to use during down time, so hopefully I’ll find some relief.

I’ve spared you guys the sight of my ankle/leg until now, but here’s how the scar is progressing. The shorter one on the inner part of my ankle looks the same. It’s quite the battle wound! Anyway, I’m showing it off because on Tuesday, at the end of my physical therapy session, the therapist told me I’m done! I was supposed to go a couple more weeks, but I’ve hit all my goals. In the previous week I started doing all those final things that I’ve been putting off – walking the boys to school, walking Annie, etc. I still need to work on strengthening exercises at home, but there wasn’t really anything else they could show me. I was really happy! Therapy was always fine once I got there, but I still hated having that on my schedule every week. Now I am free! Well, I have one more appointment with the surgeon next month, but after that I will hopefully be done with this. At least in an appointment sense! I heard it takes at least a solid year to be totally back to normal. 🙁

On Wednesday I was already feeling the mental effects of doing too much, so rather than sit at home surrounded by my work, I decided to get out of the house to celebrate the end of physical therapy. I ran a few necessary errands and then got MOD for lunch, mostly so I could also buy a gift card for one of Greg’s Father’s Day gifts.

For fun, I meandered around Half Priced Books hunting down deals. I recently finished the book Life From Scratch and it reminded me how much I LOVE food memoirs. I’ve realized this year how much I love memoirs in general, but I particularly love ones that revolve around food. Food is such an integral part of every single person’s life and it’s fascinating to learn how many ways it touches people and influences their story. Half Priced Books turned out to be a great place for food writing books. I also picked up Off the Clock from amazon to try and get myself better focused both on and off the clock to live a more meaningful life!

Thursday and Friday were more work days. It somehow always turns out that I’m racing against the clock trying to finish dolls while I still have enough natural light to take a good photo. I get frustrated on those days when I have to work at a faster pace than I’d like, rushing the final touches that make the dolls most unique and special. It made me extra crabby. I ended every night just feeling depleted. Even though the boys were out of the house for most of the day all five days of the week, I was just SO run down at the end of every night. And I hated it. I don’t want my summer to continue in this manner.

Saturday was the big day with two performances of Alice in Wonderland! I honestly had my doubts about how good this show would be after only a week to learn everything. But it was great! The kids did amazing! And everyone was so perfectly cast to fit their roles.

I had wanted to pick them up early on Friday to try and get a glimpse of how things were going, but I was too busy madly trying to get dolls listed before they were done. I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled for the show in the end. It really blew me away how great everyone did! Shepard made the most adorable little caterpillar.

Caden actually had a bigger part than I thought, with this trio doing a bunch of singing and dancing and a little comedy routine. He did great each show, but the second one he was SO into it. I loved watching them!

As of right now, they’re not interested in ever doing this again, but I think it was a good experience for them. And really fun for the family to come watch since the boys never really participate in any extracurricular activities. I’m a strong believer in letting kids be kids and not forcing them into things they don’t want to do. But for just a week of their time they got to learn new skills, make new friends, and ultimately really did have fun during the performances. I was very proud of them!

To celebrate, we went to Culver’s for dinner after the show with the family. Fun times!

Oh, so before the show on Saturday, I spent hours working on this crepe cake for Father’s Day. I wanted to make something fancy that I’d never make for just the four of us. Crepe cakes have been on my mind since I saw one on a blog I like a few months ago. That recipe looked a bit too futzy, so I went with this one instead, knowing Greg really likes dark chocolate and raspberries. It took me six tries with two different pans and two different types of spatulas before I even made one successful crepe. But once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy, just took forever. I let them cool, made the raspberry cream, and then stacked them all up into this beautiful creation!

I put it in the fridge and checked on it five minutes later finding this. Devastating!!! I tried to slide it back together, but nothing was cooperating. I ended up taking it out in sections and piling it into a springform pan, with paper plates around the edges trying to hold it into a shape. My hands, arms, and the entire counter and fridge were covered in cream. It didn’t help that it was crazy hot and humid that day. Maybe I should have frozen the crepes for an hour or something to make them cooler. Or not put so much cream between the layers. Or just stopped at 10 layers instead of going to 20. I read so many different crepe cake recipes before landing on this one, and was so sure it would be easy to do. Nope! I was pretty upset about the whole thing. But also determined not to let it, and my entire morning that I really should have spent resting, go to waste.

I’m sure the troubleshooting of this cake is of no interest to anyone except me, but I take my dessert making VERY seriously. I spent the whole night agonizing over what I could do to fix it. A ganache covering seemed to be my only option. Except I didn’t have any more whipping cream and couldn’t stand the thought of going to a grocery store for like the sixth time in a week. So I googled it and found a very successful way to make ganache with good chocolate, butter, and milk. It worked perfectly! I re-layered the cake, cut around the edges that were still lopsided, topped with ganache, topped that with slivered dark chocolate, topped that with fresh raspberries, and garnished with a few chocolate mint leaves from Shepard’s herb garden. As good as it could get!

Moving on. 🙂 It was Father’s Day! Greg said we could wake him up with breakfast in bed at eight, so I made some freezer cinnamon rolls. We went up and left him alone with his food, waiting downstairs another stressful hour and a half before he got up. In the future, I hope if he wants to actually stay in bed until 9:30 he just says that from the get go, so I don’t have to deal with two boys freaking out for that long about wanting Daddy to get downstairs NOW. Hint, hint, Greg. It wasn’t the best start to the day.

Greg always complains that we give him too many presents. So we tricked him this year thinking he just got one gift. Until he opened it and found like 30 individually wrapped small gifts. Like it or not, I think he deserved to be a bit spoiled!

Mostly a lot of treats and snacks, with a few restaurant and movie gift cards thrown in. And a few garden tools he specifically asked for.

The guys settled in for a morning of video game playing while I kept working on the cake and made some jumbo cookies as a backup dessert. We had an easy lunch of frozen chicken strips and fries.

We went to the pool right when it opened and stayed for a few hours. It was packed because of the awful heat, but the water felt great! It was my first time there this year. I was a little nervous about my ankle, but no slipping occurred. My only slight hiccup was climbing the ladder to get out of the pool. It was an awkward position for my foot to take my full weight and not something I’m looking forward to doing again soon. But I’m glad I went along this time because it was fun! They all had ice cream cookie sandwiches for a treat before we left.

Back at home, I really couldn’t stay awake any longer. This week – whew! I ended up taking a two hour nap! I woke up just minutes before Greg’s parents came over for our celebration with them.

The boys were soooo hyped up.

It was a pretty low key evening of video games, ordering pizza, opening gifts, and eating cake. And for the record – Caden and I thought the cake was great. Greg and Shepard did not like it. I think it was a texture thing. I’ve never made crepes before, but I do occasionally make dutch babies which have a similar eggy texture and Caden and I are the only ones who like those too. I should have realized. Oh well – they had cookies.

Anyway, I think it was a pretty nice Father’s Day! It was really nice to have a slower paced day after the crazy week we all had. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoyed each other’s company. I think it was the kind of day Greg likes best, so I’m glad he was able to have it. He’s a pretty awesome dad. Seriously the best I could ever ask for as the father to my children! He had a wonderful example in his own dad and I’m so happy to have them both in my life. My own dad refused to celebrate Father’s Day, but we are going over there next weekend for a cookout to slyly celebrate in a different way.

New Week Intentions

And that brings me to this week! All I know is that I don’t want to spend the rest of the summer feeling the way I felt last week. I want to be rested. I want to be happy. I want to feel totally okay with taking a day off of work. I should be a mom foremost during these months. I also need to keep putting my health and healing as a priority above all else. I want to find a balance between getting the minimum done – laundry, basic decluttering, putting relatively healthy meals on the table – and actually just sitting back and enjoying life – reading, writing, going to dog parks, laughing with my kids. I’ve been on a bit of an errand running high after so many months of not having that option. It’s also hard to convince myself it’s not worth going when I know in three weeks the boys will be with me all the time and going then won’t be an option – again! BUT I should be reveling in my time alone AT HOME too. At least more often than I did last week!

Our actual schedule is pretty light this week. I had a dentist appointment this morning and picked up a few groceries before coming home. I’m guessing I might need a few more things later in the week, but I really want to focus on being at home as often as possible. On Thursday I’m having my monthly craft night, which will be fun. And besides that? Just summer school!

Well, that’s it for now! Have a good week!

Summer Goals to Thrive (and not just survive)

Ready or not, summer is here! My kids have one hour left until the bell rings and life changes drastically for the next three months. I know it rolls around every single June, but I’m still terrified. And I don’t want to be. I want to be the kind of mom that’s excited and looking forward to spending 24/7 with her kids. I’d like to be the kind of mom that loves chaos and unstructured days and endless hours at the pool. Unfortunately, I AM the mom that literally wants to go hide in a closet and cry because I’M NOT READY. I’ll never be ready. I know I’m about to enter into three solid months of power struggles, arguments, food battles, and NONSTOP negotiations over screen time. No genuine alone time to recharge my soul, no freedom to have my days play out the way I want them to, no reliable afternoon nap that I so highly depend on for my sanity the other nine months of the year.

Summer has a lot of redeeming qualities. But in these last few days of school, it’s really hard for me to see them. I thought that making a list of easily obtainable goals might give me a little more hope that these next months can be FUN. Days to enjoy instead of days to dread. In some ways, my expectations for this summer are pretty low because my ankle is still healing and I don’t have the energy or stamina to do a lot of the things I’d normally like to do in summer. But that’s giving me the freedom to accept a slower summer, a quieter summer, a summer that’s a lot more driven by what my kids actually want and not by what I think they need to make it memorable. At the same time, those day trips and outings are what usually make the summer more enjoyable for ME. I like to get out of the house and enjoy time with my kids that I can never seem to find when we’re at home all day. At home, I’m like a drill master. By necessity. If we leave the house, we’re suddenly connecting because I’m focusing on them and not the eight zillion things on my to do list and the four million messes strewn in every room of the house. So somehow I need to find a balance between all of it this summer so all four of us can enjoy the passing days.

Easily achievable goals that will make me feel a whole lot better going into the summer and can hopefully be done in the next week!

  • Clean out my car.
  • Declutter all random piles in general living spaces.
  • Clean out the fridge and freezer.

General parenting goals to survive the day to day

  • Keep a large visual weekly calendar complete with any non-negotiable errands, day trips, or appointments. 
  • Enforce said calendar so they know that there’s no wiggle room to argue and complain if something was already planned for the day. 
  • STAY STRONG in parenting, not letting them take advantage of me in my weak moments (and not letting them knowingly make me weak with their incessant whining). Remember that I’m the MOM and if they’re mad at me, I will survive it. Having a child mad at me for enforcing perfectly reasonable parenting rules should not affect my mental energy the way it would if Greg or a friend or other adult family member felt that way about me!

Fun goals for family connection

  • Go on a two night family vacation. Make it happen.
  • Visit at least 5 new dog parks in the Madison area with Annie. 
  • After summer school is over, plan and go on at least one day trip or special outing a week. 
  • Take each child on an individual date night at least once per month. Try harder to have one on one time at home in between the date nights. 

Personal achievement goals

  • Prioritize self care. Know what you need to keep your sanity and DO IT. No excuses. 
  • Make at least 10 dolls per month. Work is not and should not be my highest priority over the summer months. But I know I need it to keep myself and my customers happy, so I need to at least do the bare minimum. 
  • Read. A lot. All the time. It’s worth it, it’s not being lazy. It’s important. And fun!
  • Write more than just my weekend blog posts. I love to write and this is a good time to do it more often! 

Health related goals

  • Be able to walk regularly by September. Hopefully with daily practice I can do that. I’ll start with trying to walk to and from summer school with the boys every day in June. Work up to dog parks and day trips. And hopefully be a lot stronger by fall. 
  • Keep healthy food stocked, prepped, and ready to eat. 
  • Keep meal planning simple, but in existence. Always have easy meals ready to make and on hand, so we don’t resort to eating junk food all day, every day. 
  • Stay cool, calm, and positive. I CAN DO THIS.

And that’s it! Summer is here! We can do this!

Mother’s Day, Greg’s Birthday, and Weekend Reflections and Intentions 05.20.2018

Happy Mother’s Day, one week late! I kept meaning to write a post immediately after the big day, but I never had the chance. It was a busy week! Really busy. I feel like I’m back to doing about 80% of the things I used to do before my broken ankle. And that last 20% are all the things I did to take care of Annie out of the house. Day by day, things continue to get better. It’s hard to see that after a really rough and pain filled day, but honestly – compared to how much pain I was in walking around the antique mall last week to how easily and pain free I was doing a ton of stuff around the house yesterday, just a week later? It’s a pretty significant difference. So I’m getting there. Tomorrow marks 12 weeks since that dreaded day.

Anyway, Mother’s Day turned out to be a pretty great day! I’m the kind of person who always has a lot of expectations for important events and inevitably is disappointed. But I can genuinely say this year that it was fantastic! The boys were in good moods all day, no ridiculous fights arose, the weather was decent albeit a bit chilly, and everyone was just happy!

I woke up early because I’m back to doing that on a regular basis. I took a shower and then went back to bed to laze around for a few hours. The boys brought my breakfast in bed – the morning bun I bought at the farmer’s market the day before. So delish!

I opened my presents next. I love presents! I got this beautiful “diamond” bracelet. I had one when I was a kid that my grandma gave me and thought was the best bracelet in the world. I’ve been wanting one as an adult for awhile now. Love it!

Always one for practical gift giving, I also got a PopSocket for my phone, accompanying mount to use it in the car, and a drain cover for baths. I’m not much of a bath person, but it does really help when my legs are super achy, so I’m trying to get more into it.

A new water bottle.

And a bird bath! We put it out in the front yard the next day, in the middle of this random patch of hostas we have next to the driveway. I’ll have to try and take a picture of it soon, to see it outside. I really like it! And Greg picked this one because it’s my favorite color and looks antiqued.

I got ready and then we went for our annual mother sons photo shoot outside. I can’t believe how horrible my hair looks in these pictures, after just curling it. Greg takes the least flattering photos of me ever. 😛 At least the boys were smiling, even though they were being silly!

Shepard kept running away from me to do this…

Caught him!

I ventured into the backyard to see my Mother’s Day gift from Annie! It’s in the far back of our property, but it’s the only shrub I can see from the house and I love the pop of color! Hopefully it survives. We haven’t had a lot of luck with anything we plant back there.

Next we dropped Annie off at my parents’ and then went to Greg’s parents’ for their big Mother’s Day party. Shepard gave me another gift that he made at their house. I love the little ladybug!

It was little colder than we would have liked, but most of us spent the day outside. The boys were having the greatest time with their second (or whatever the technical term is) cousins.

Shepard and Jeremiah were having a blast playing with this toad they found.

A little too much fun. They weren’t very happy with me when I insisted they had to put the toad back and leave the poor thing alone! We went to a store later and when we came back the toad was in a box in the house, so you see how well they listened to that!

Annual photo of all the moms in attendance.

Cindy gave me some presents too! I’ve been wanting some new sheets forever and it’s hard to justify ever spending money on them yourself. Both of these devotionals also came out recently and look great!

Trying to get a nice Grandma and grandson photo, but they just wanted to stick their butts out for the picture. Always so cooperative!

Most of the women and girl children went to one of our favorite stores, Twisted Sister to check out what’s in stock. Then we came back home to say our goodbyes. Had to get a quick mother son photo.

Next, we headed back over to my parents’ house. This is one of the gifts we gave her. I love it!

Getting a mother daughter pic in right away so we didn’t have to worry about it later. 🙂

We spent a lot of time just hanging around and then we had a big dinner. My mom had steak and mushrooms, which is what she requested. I had this spicy chicken and sweet potatoes. They were so delicious!! Everything is always delicious over there.

Trying to get a nice photo and it went about the same way as the rest of the day. At least Gracie was looking at the camera!

More presents. The boys made each Grandma a fill in the blank book about why they love them. Some of their answers are pretty hilarious.

At the end of the night, we started transitioning into Greg’s birthday so he was able to open some presents too.

He got a couple of cords and stuff that nobody really knew what it was, except it was on his wish list. And some desperately needed new sandals.

Annie was so tired after spending the day running around Grandma’s yard! I was pretty exhausted too. But it was a really fun day!

Moving on to Monday! Greg’s 34th birthday. He went into work, so it was just a regular day at home for me. We had a mountain of laundry, so I decided it was about time I get back to doing that. I’ve been putting loads in here and there the last few weeks, but I haven’t folded or put clothes away since the BA (broken ankle). It took me FOUR HOURS to get everything folded. Obviously there were a few breaks in between waiting for loads to finish, but it basically took me the majority of my day. I was proud of myself for doing it. But also really discouraged with just how slow I am in general. Everything takes me so long.

Greg came home and it was time for birthday fun!

Of course we immediately opened presents. His main gift was a new toaster oven. It’s like his favorite cooking appliance and he uses it for literally everything, and our old one was not in the best shape. (It was a birthday gift he gave me years ago, so I decided I’d give him a nice practical kitchen appliance right on back!)

Most gifts were practical this year because he kept saying he didn’t want anything and I knew he couldn’t complain about something useful. But I did get him one thing from his list I knew he really wanted.

It’s a print from his favorite book. Don’t ask me what book, because I have no idea.

Jumbo beef jerky from Annie. We also gave me a set of pans that fit the toaster oven, a chainmail type thing that cleans cast iron pans, an instant temperature reader, a gutter scooper, a box of Buffalo Wild Wing Sauces, and some fancy dark chocolate.

Birthday picture!

He requested Day One Pizza for his birthday dinner. Easy for me!

We had peanut butter bars for dessert. After dinner we went for a short walk and set up the bird bath and front porch plants outside.

They played Minecraft the rest of the evening. (Isn’t Annie cute?!) It wasn’t anything fancy or spectacular, but I think Greg had a pretty good birthday.

Tuesday was another personal success day for me. I decided to attempt Woodman’s (a huge grocery store) by myself! It’s the first time I’ve been there at all since the BA. And I did it! I was quite proud of myself. I didn’t even feel like I was dying by the end. I celebrated by going to Barnes and Noble next and spending over an hour browsing the entire store. I think I might have even been able to handle a third errand, but knew I needed to conserve energy for carrying all the groceries in and putting them away. That was probably the most difficult task. After I got home, did all that, and ate lunch, I took a nap. There went day two of the week of not doing any actual sewing work. I was starting to get a bit frustrated by that point. I know that moving around and getting back into the swing of my regular life is what’s going to make my ankle heal the fastest. I’m not going to get stronger if I’m just sitting at my work table all day. So it’s great I’m getting better and stronger and more capable every day. But it stinks that I’m getting very little actual WORK done.

Wednesday I forced myself to sit down and work all day. And then in the evening we went out for a birthday dinner with Greg’s parents. He picked Mod Pizza (and Caden always gets a sub at Potbelly next door because he still refuses to eat cheese). We went to Culver’s for ice cream next. And then the school greenhouse to get some plants. Then back home to open presents.

It was a nice night, but I was getting pretty crabby by the end of it. Just so frustrated with myself, irritated with the boys, stressed about school about to end and not feeling ready for summer. I’ve been pushing myself so hard with very little actual breaks. I don’t feel mentally capable of dealing with my kids all day every day. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to feel physically ready to whisk them away on long day trips – the only thing that makes summer fun to me. I didn’t make nearly enough dolls this spring to justify slowing down in summer, the way I usually do. I don’t know if I should use these very few remaining days of school to bask in the silence of being home alone – or trying to hit up as many of my favorite stores and places as possible since I haven’t been able to do that for months and it’ll be really hard (and not any fun) to do them with kids. I’m also just lamenting that our anniversary vacation this year is a whopping day and a half long and I wish we could do more. I also kind of wish we could have a family vacation just the four of us since it’s been years, but I’m not sure that can happen either. Anyway, my brain was just blowing up and I NEEDED a break. So I actually did the responsible thing and bowed out of tv time, went to my room, lit a candle, and spent two blessed hours just reading before going to bed. I need to learn how to do that more often.

Thursday morning I had PT. Worked on a lot of balancing exercises. She still thinks I’m on track with everything. We cancelled my next appointment, so the next time I come I will hopefully be in shoes!

Thursday was another work day, but I also spent a lot of time cleaning. I had my second craft night in the evening. Three people came this month! It was a lot of fun! I’m not sure my work table could really handle more than four people with spread out projects, so that was a good number. It was really great to catch up with a few friends, plus get a whole lot of work done in the process.

On Friday morning, Greg and I went to a big church garage sale. I’m glad he offered to drive me because I definitely ended up getting more than I could carry. All this, plus a bookcase! I put it under my favorite book shelves, right next to where we hope to someday have a big cozy chair. My book situation is a bit out of control and I always want more, so now I have more space to put them all. 🙂

The rest of Friday was spent working. I finished up my first batch of patriotic dolls. I meant to make a lot of progress on my next batch, but….slow. I’m so slow.

Saturday was a pretty lazy day too. I didn’t do a whole lot and then in the evening Greg took the boys to a birthday party at the skating rink. They had a BLAST. Way more fun than any of the times I’ve ever taken them! It was nice to see how many pictures caught them with full smiles. I planned on having sort of a pampering evening to myself, but ended up sitting at my computer working on updating Goodreads and trying to organize my kindle. It’s a bit of a massive project I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It’ll be so awesome once everything is up to date and better organized, though.

And that bring us to this week! Sunday intentions. I guess my biggest goal is to just chill out and enjoy life as it comes. I actually think I’ve been doing a pretty great job of that – until this last week when I started letting myself get stressed out again. I just want to be happy with who I am, what I do during the day, and not feel any regret. I want to LIVE my life, and not just be down on myself for not doing everything on my lists. I gave myself a lot of necessary leeway these last few months, and it’s hard to still keep that perspective when I know I can be doing more.

The biggest thing on the calendar this week is my 12 week post op appointment on Wednesday. This is the big one because he tells me if I can ditch my boot! Something I’m equally excited about and terrified of. I hate wearing the boot. I also hate having to wear a shoe on my other foot at all times so I don’t destroy my back. Technically, I’m not supposed to ever be walking without it, though the last few weeks I kind of go barefoot, with a crutch, every night and morning. And in the last few days, barefoot without a crutch across rooms, occasionally. And I’m so unsteady. I’m scared to death I’m going to break it again. My goal these last few days have been to never use the crutch in the house (except when barefoot) and I’ve been doing great with it. But I went outside yesterday to try and plant some peppers and was just frozen in fear. There are tripping hazards in every direction. Wood chips, rocks, uneven surfaces, kid toys, slippery patches. Everything has the power to knock me down and start this process all over again. It’s really so scary!

I’m also just worried about what life will look like after the boot is gone. It feels so much like come Wednesday, my time is up. I’m supposed to be better. I will no longer have that very visual reminder to anyone who sees me that I have a bit of a handicap right now. I have no more excuses for not doing certain things. And I’m not ready. I’m SO not ready. If I’m scared to death to walk outside in my boot without a crutch, how am I going to be able to do it in shoes?! All of these hazards aren’t going to disappear in four days. How long will it still be before I can take Annie out to go to the bathroom every day? How long until I can take her to the dog park? Will I be able to walk my kids to and/or from school before the school year is up? Will I be able to do it by the time summer school starts in a few weeks? The only thing I’m confident and super excited about is being able to get in my car, drive, and get out – without all the annoying boot to shoe to boot changes! That’s really the main thing that’s stopped me from running a whole lot of errands this week. But once I’m just in shoes – watch out, world!

Anyway, that’s the main thing this week. It’s still pretty busy with working and end of school year things. Caden has another therapy appointment, I have another PT. The boys have big field trips planned. We have tentative plans for Saturday morning and a dinner and movie double date night planned for Saturday evening with Timmy and Brittany. And our anniversary trip is coming up on Memorial Day. I’m sure the week will just fly by! Hopefully I’ll be back before next Saturday to give you an update on the boot. 🙂

Have a good week!

Spring Break and Easter Reflections 2018

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We survived spring break! It actually ended up being a lot busier than I expected. The nine days still seemed to last FOREVER, but we made it. Had a lot of rough patches, like always, but many good moments as well.

On Monday, my mom took the boys for most of the day and they did some egg dyeing and other fun Eastery activities. Greg worked at home so he could take me to my first physical therapy appointment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it ended up being very low key. All she did was measure my range of motion between my bad ankle and good and taught me the exercises I should be doing three times a day. We also practiced walking up and down stairs with my crutches. I couldn’t figure out how to get up them and have just been crawling inside those rare days I left the house. I scoot up and down on my butt inside the house, which she said is the safest way. But kind of embarrassing – and dirty – to be doing that on any outdoor/entryway steps I come across! The therapist was going to cancel the rest of my appointments until after I see the surgeon and can hopefully move on to partial weight bearing. But she changed her mind to just once a week appointments to start working on my incision scar tissue. I’ll have my first appointment for that on Wednesday.

To celebrate my first PT, we picked up chicken sandwiches and scoops of ice cream from Burger King and Culver’s before going home. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful except for Deja taking Annie to the dog park again.

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Tuesday was the one day that Greg went into work, so I was home alone with the boys. All I have to say is that I’m so glad I didn’t break my ankle during the summer and I better be able to walk by the time they’re out of school!! SO exhausting! The constant negotiating and arguing about screen time every minute of every day! The fun part about the day is that I was bound and determined to find some success in the kitchen. It took me practically all day, but I made bacon, scotcheroos, pizza dough, and later pizza. It felt SO good to actually be productive and make yummy food. I’ve complained a ton in the last few years about constantly needing to feed my family. But now I miss it so much and I hope I never take it for granted again.

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Shepard and I also made some clay erasers from a kit he got for his birthday. That night they went to Greg’s parents’ house for the evening and Greg and I sort of had an at home date night. Though he ended up taking Annie to the dog park and I spent the evening going through and organizing all the Easter stuff. I was dead tired, but also so happy by the end of the day. It felt like the most normal pre-ankle break day I’ve had so far.

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Wednesday was our family day, and the day with the warmest weather. I really wanted to get to a store, so we landed on Costco. I needed to renew my membership and since Greg was actually with me for the first time ever, I added him to it so now he can stop there on his own. I used my knee scooter to zip around the store and it went pretty well! Very tiring and my knee was quite sore, but it felt awesome to actually have some say in the food we picked out. I LOVE grocery shopping, particularly impulse buying (lol). I’ve missed it!

Unfortunately, we all got into a big fight as we were leaving Costco. It pretty much wrecked the rest of the day. We had a picnic packed for lunch, but nobody was offering up any suggestions or agreements to specific parks, so we went back to the big one in Columbus. But it was still pretty chilly and the picnic tables just looked so far away. I decided to just stay in the car. Which was pretty depressing. Watching all the kids there running around and having a good time. I wish it could be me. I won’t ever take that for granted again either. The rest of the day was pretty awful emotionally. I just feel so powerless. And also the reason that our family is falling apart half the time these days. Sigh. Moving on…

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On Thursday, Greg took the boys and met my brother and Hudson at the Milwaukee Zoo. It was cold again, but I think they had a good time! I enjoyed just being home in the peace and and quiet!!

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On Thursday night, Caden had his first sleepover over at his friend Leverett’s house. Shepard was insanely jealous. The three of them are inseparable when they’re playing outside, but Shepard is never included in the invitations that involve going into Leverett’s house. I mean, I do understand it from the parent’s perspective. But Shepard definitely doesn’t understand it! So the three of us watched the movie Leap! and then Shepard had a sleepover downstairs with me, Annie, and Jack. It was also the last night I slept downstairs. I’m back in my room now!

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We made it through the night with no issues. 🙂 Shepard just spent the entire morning begging to run over and knock on Leverett’s door to see if they wanted to play with him. Had to keep up the distractions.

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We picked our first two lemons. It took them almost eleven full months to grow. Worth it?? Probably not. I do not have a green thumb and keeping houseplants alive is pretty difficult. Part of me just wants to give our lemon tree away because I don’t like the minimal effort it requires of me. But now we have some new buds, and I did actually keep it alive almost an entire year, so I guess it’s staying.

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Greg took Annie to her vet appointment on Friday morning. We’ve had her for a year now! I really wanted to go, but it was too hard to get ready early enough. Plus I thought it would just be too chaotic with her so excited and me on crutches. But it sounds like she did well. She is perfectly healthy! And she’s up to 46.8 lbs. 11 pounds more than when we got her! The vet said she should ideally be around 44, but she’s otherwise doing great. They were really excited to get her DNA test results and change her paperwork to “Golden Retriever Mix.”

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After lunch, Greg took the boys to his parents for another sleepover and then spent an hour at the DMV waiting in line to get my temporary handicap sticker for the car. I’m not sure how often we’ll need to use it, but it’s good to have. We used it right away on our evening date! We went to a late afternoon showing of Black Panther and had diner in the theater. Then we went to Orange Leaf for dessert. And finished with a stop at Pick n Save so I could pick out some produce for a few recipes. My knee/leg were pretty much dead after that. But we still got home fairly early and had time to watch Jumanji. It was a nice night! Exhausting, but worth it to get out of the house for something other than hospital visits!

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Saturday morning came with the news that Caden woke up sick. I don’t think Caden has thrown up in like two years. And of course it happens the day before Easter! Greg went to get them and then took Shepard to the Culver’s egg hunt. Caden was resting. And I spent a super long time very carefully chopping up ingredients to make this beautiful batch of mango guacamole. I’ve been kind of over guacamole for awhile now, but this was magical. Best guac I’ve ever had.

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Saturday was also the day of the big community egg hunt and our annual egg dyeing party. The grandmas brought all the supplies and food and we did the dyeing before the party. We were missing a lot of aunt/uncle participants this year. I didn’t really have a space to get to the table, so I didn’t dye many. It went okay, but not as fun as other years. It’s hard being in this dumb boot and not being able to really do anything the way I want to. The scooter gives me more mobility, but it doesn’t exactly make that mobility easy! I was just a little bummed out the whole time. Plus having Caden sick didn’t help things. He was quarantined to his room at first, but he kept demanding Greg go up and attend to him. He finally came down and sat at a chair from a distance. I think it was probably, maybe, just something he ate. He felt a lot better by evening and nobody else got sick.

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At least I got to see Hudson! He’s at such a fun age right now! So alert and interested in everything. But he can’t crawl yet, so it’s easy to contain him. 🙂 And cajole him into taking selfies with me.

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Hudson still loves Annie! And the feeling is mutual.

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He was in a lazy lounging mood and enjoyed just chilling out on me while I was resting.

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And chilling on Greg.

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I made one egg while the Noe side of the family went with Shepard to the big outdoor egg hunt. It was really cold, so the Braatz members stayed here. We left a bunch of eggs for Caden to dye later, but he wasn’t interested. I finished them later in the evening. After the egg hunt we had pizza and desserts to finish up the party.

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After we were sure the boys were sleeping, the Easter Bunny (kitty) came. Rory always ignores people all day, but is fascinated by everything we do once the boys go to bed!

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I’m so happy I was able to fill everyone’s baskets, despite being stuck at home all month. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mom and two of my friends picking things up for all of us. I was quite pleased with how they turned out!

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And finally Sunday – Easter! Everyone was up around six, but I made the boys wait to look for anything until I took a shower. It’s so annoying how much of a hassle taking a shower is when you can’t stand up or walk! I wanted to get it out of the way as early as possible. And then the hunt was on!

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After everything was found, we had some Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants for breakfast. Yummy.

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This was my favorite Easter basket filler. I’m not sure where I’ll put them, but they were too adorable to pass up! I think I saw them on a facebook group sale the day I broke my ankle and ordered them to cheer myself up. The Easter Bunny also brought me a ton of sheet masks, vitamin E oil for my incisions, and some tasty treats.

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Shepard’s favorite basket fillers were a package of new underwear and these Minecraft pajamas. He had to wear the shirt after we took a family picture the rest of the day. He also wore it to school today. He desperately wanted to wear the pants too and insisted they did not look like pajamas. He finally listened to  me (shockingly!) and switched to regular pants. Caden wore his new Minecraft pajama shirt to school too.

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We went to my parents’ house for brunch mid morning. And we actually got a fairly decent family picture!

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More Hudson! We stationed ourselves at the table and spent most of the time hanging out together. He’s just the absolute cutest!

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The Easter Bunny also made the boys these heatable rice bags for their baskets. Another favorite! They heated them up at least thirty times yesterday. Shepard was also begging me to let him bring his to school today. Hudson wasn’t quite sure what to think about them.

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We had a delicious brunch and then the grandboys had a scavenger hunt to find their eggs and baskets.

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They got all kinds of fun things, including a huge disc swing to hang up at Grandma’s house.

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Hudson loving his new book.

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And really loving his new swing! After just one little swing in it, he was quivering with excitement every time he looked at it. So cute!

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We ran out of energy and motivation to do the egg pecking contest on Saturday, so we were more ready for it on Sunday.

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Greg had my phone for awhile and took about a hundred pictures of Hudson eating his oatmeal.

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Then Shepard and Grandpa had to play with filters for awhile.

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And me deciding maybe I should take a picture with my own child, instead of just Hudson, Hudson, Hudson. 🙂 Caden was feeling a lot better on Sunday, but behavioral wise went waaaaaay downhill as the day went on. It was expected, especially after two sleepovers in a row, and being sick to boot. I wish Easter was at the start of spring break instead of the end, so the boys were at their best. We’re pretty used to Caden’s behavior putting quite a damper on every family get together we ever have. But it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. 🙁

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Early afternoon we went over to Greg’s parents’ house for the rest of the day. Aunt Mel hid all the eggs for the boys to find this year. We usually do this hunt outside, but it was SO cold this year! It doesn’t seem like spring is ever going to show up.

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I thought it was funny that Greg got a Qdoba gift card and I got a Chipotle gift card. We have this argument all the time about which is better. I think Qdoba is just his default because it’s near his work so he can actually go there! Plus guacamole is free and they give free chips with a burrito bowl. Which I admit is an advantage. But Chipotle is in my heart forever. LOVE.

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Shepard had pecking contests with Grandma and Grandpa while Greg dealt with meltdown city child in the other room for half the day. Fun times. Shepard was having a blast at least!

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I liked this egg the best. I think Grandpa made it. Though Shepard just kind of claimed all the eggs for himself by the end!

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We had another delicious meal and then just hung out for awhile. Despite the inevitable parenting struggles, it was a fairly good day. I’d say as a whole, spring break went better than I thought it would. But I am SO glad it’s over! 🙂 And SOOO happy to be back home alone today!

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

Shepard’s 7th Birthday

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On Sunday my sweet and silly Shepard turned seven! We had a full weekend of celebrations. Unfortunately, we had three days after that of sickness. Caden just felt icky on Monday and Tuesday, Shepard got sick all night long last night and today. And I’m maybe sick? Maybe not? At any rate, I was up all night long constantly changing his sheets and his clothes because he was so out of it he kept throwing up in his sleep. I’m basically a zombie today, but I thought I’d try and accomplish one thing after laying in bed all day and write this post! Hopefully it’s comprehensible.

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Shepard had five of his friends over on Saturday for a party. It got pretty crazy! Why do kids get so insanely wild at parties?!

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Annie was equally as wild, despite taking her to the dog park that morning.

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I usually make a bunch of themed snacks for kid parties, but was trying to keep things REALLY simple this time around, especially after my ear infection and all the annoying stuff that happened last week. We did make green punch, though!

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He got lots of cool gifts!

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Shepard was getting a little partied out by cake time and not so much in the mood for cooperating with smiles.

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Greg and I spent five hours on Friday getting these cakes together! It’s triple layers of chocolate fudge, funfetti, and white cakes cut out in circles and put back together to try and get a checkerboard (“minecraft brick”) look on the inside. Unfortunately the cake was falling apart, but maybe it still looked kind of cool? I thought it tasted good at least!

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Apparently “talky hands” is what their gym teacher does and it’s hilarious. After cake everyone just ran around until they got picked up. It felt like a very long two hours to the adults (lol), but we made it through! Shepard enjoyed being the center of attention and showing off for his friends.

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And Sunday was his birthday! (He’s wearing the same clothes as Saturday because he still has a massive stubborn streak and refuses to wear pajamas at night.) I was going to make him funfetti scones because I thought they would look festive, but he caught me in time and demanded they be chocolate chip instead. They were quite tasty! We took this picture the exact minute he turned seven.

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After breakfast he opened the gifts from  us. He was so hard to buy for this year! I ended up just picking out all kinds of small and super random things I thought he might enjoy.

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Like pizza themed clothing.

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And cherry cola tic tacs which are his fav. (My kids informed me yesterday I’m never allowed to say “favorite” – it always has to be fav.)

20180218_081709 tic tacs

20180218_081821 pizza socks

20180218_081847(0) dragonquest builders

20180218_081917 drawing book

20180218_081944 peregrine falcon

20180218_082011 falcon book

20180218_082136 washi tape

20180218_110738 chicken wings

The morning was pretty low key for the guys playing his new video game while I set up for the family party. I don’t really like having parties on my kids’ actual birthdays because I feel so absent from what they’re doing. I prefer making the day really be all about them and whatever they want to do. But February was so busy this year that having it on his birthday was really our only option. I don’t think he minded. I know it’s been an issue with Caden in the past, though, so I realllly try never to schedule them on the same day for him.

20180218_111000 green punch

Our usual green punch because it’s tasty and it’s Minecraft colors.

20180218_111805 chicken wings

When we asked him what kind of food he wanted at his party he answered with Ponderosa chicken wings. So wings we had! The in-law’s picked them up for us. They’re my favorite wings too, but such an odd choice!

20180218_111034 buffalo chicken dip

The rest of the “meal” was just an improvised selection of snack type foods. I converted a recipe gone wrong into buffalo chicken dip which I’m pretty sure nobody actually ate lol.

20180218_111814 pizza sliders

I was so excited to realize I had all the ingredients to make these pizza sliders. Shepard didn’t actually have one, but pizza IS his favorite food, so it was a little more on brand for his party. I’ve been wanting to make these forever. They were delish! (If you refer to the recipe, I did not add the sausage.)

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Veggie tray from Cindy. Gotta keep some healthy options!

20180218_114216 chinese salad

Chinese salad from my parents. Unfortunately my mom came down with a flu bug too and couldn’t come to the party. 🙁 All but one aunt and uncle weren’t able to come either, so it was a small party this year.

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And some chips and salsas because they’re Shepard’s favorite snack.

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Annie begging for food because I’m standing in the cutting spot where I always hand her vegetables as I slice.

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Facetiming with Aunt Sarah while he eats his salad.

20180218_115708 shepard and mom

The cake was a little worse for wear two days after making it. I really don’t like making it that early, but since I was basically making two of the same cake there was no other logistical way to do it. I think it still tasted pretty good.

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20180218_120715(0) uncle greg

A party isn’t complete without Hudson!

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Shepard trying to entertain Hudson while he eats.

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Present time!

20180218_123333 hudson hat

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20180218_123907 art box

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20180218_124402 farty facts

20180218_124410 donut pillow

20180218_124619 minecraft mug

20180218_124625 hot cocoa

20180218_124655 hudson's picture

Shepard thought it was just the most incredible and funny thing that Hudson drew him a picture on his birthday card!

20180218_124659 hudson's picture

20180218_124700 hudson's picture

20180218_124707 hudson's picture

20180218_125122 earaser maker

20180218_125328 hudson jumping

20180218_125640 air hockey

20180218_132334 cute hudson

20180218_132446 pay attention to me

Annie was being pretty naughty at this party too. I did NOT have time to take her to the dog park this time. She’s been super obnoxious lately. It’s frustrating to realize that she genuinely needs solid exercise 365 days a year no matter what the weather or what my schedule, or she’s going to turn into a psycho dog by the end of the day. It’s the one part of dog owning that weighs me down and I wish I didn’t have to be solely responsible for.

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Cake time! Being silly.

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20180218_132832 big blow

20180218_145139 drawing lessons

We spent the rest of the afternoon trying out Shepard’s presents and relaxing. It was a pretty low key day.

20180218_145801 partied out

And that was his birthday! I totally passed out both days after the parties. My ear infection didn’t start feeling remotely better until Monday night. I wish for once I felt healthy and energetic on Shepard’s birthday party weekend! Oh well, I’m not sure he even noticed the difference. 🙂 He was so busy playing with his new gifts and enjoying feeling like the special little boy he is! He continues to bring so much joy and happiness into my every day and I have no idea what I would do without him. Love that kid!!

2018: Celebrating a New Year

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Happy New Year!

Last night we celebrated the way we always do – staying home with food and movies. We had a big taco feast followed by a creme brulee tart for dessert. As a family we watched Captain Underpants, Boss Baby, and a bunch of Netflix countdown videos as we ate popcorn and drank sparkling juice. The boys went to bed around nine and Greg and I finished the evening watching Logan Lucky and half of Battle of the Sexes. He drank a beer, I drank some of the amazing ice wine I found at Costco last week. It was about the least exciting celebration ever, but at least we were together. And hey! I actually made it to midnight. I NEVER make it to midnight.

Anyway, like most of the world, I’ve spent the last week contemplating the ups and downs of the last year and what I would like to do differently in my life and approach to 2018. I re-read my resolutions from last year and realized that I basically feel exactly the same way as I did a year ago. If anything, I’m even more of a slave to my to do lists. The frustrating thing is that I’m completely aware of it and still struggle day after day to just let some things go. I so often link my worth to how many things I accomplished in a day. I set impossible standards for myself and am constantly wracked with guilt and disappointment in what I wasn’t able to check off my list by the end of the night. And quite honestly – I’m sick of living this way.

In the midst of trying to just DO all the time, I’ve really lost sight of what’s truly important in life. Family, love, laughter, joy, contentment, connection, dreams, acceptance, and simple happiness. I somehow want to find my way back to all of that this year. I want to live by my the words of my current favorite book and choose ONLY LOVE TODAY. Again and again and again. That is what matters. I only have this one life and I want to make it count. For me. For my joy. For my acceptance. That will be my focus this year.

Personal

  1. Practice Self Care. 
    I want to learn how to love myself this year. I have a lot of self hatred, especially with how I look. And sometimes with aspects of my personality and how I treat other people. I’d like to take a journey this year in finding things that make me happy. Looking for joy in little moments. Being completely in tune to what I actually need to loosen the stress and smile more. Let go of the to do list slavery. Show gratitude for the best parts of myself. Learn to accept and even love the parts of me I sometimes can’t stand. This is all so much easier said than done. But I think it’ll be my highest priority for the year. And also my hardest.
  2. Take Better Care of Myself. 
    My first goal is to take care of myself emotionally and mentally and my second goal is to take care of myself physically. I would love to lose some weight. I need to lose some weight. But I’m not going to give myself a number or even any extreme pressure to do it. I do want to start making better decisions. Remember that the food I put in my mouth not only affects my size, but also my blood and my heart and my ability to live (or not live) a long and healthy life. I want to move more too. If it ever stops being negative temperatures, I need to get back into taking long daily walks. Preferably in the morning, but at night if necessary. I’d also like to find some sort of online exercise program that I’ll actually enjoy and stick with. Especially on these cold winter days when spending long hours outside just isn’t possible.
  3. Be Happy With What I Have.
    I think this became a real problem last year. I always want more. Whenever I found myself stressed out and overwhelmed with life I’d often go to my computer to at least window shop on amazon and other various websites. Shopping shouldn’t be my solution to anything, but especially emotional turmoil. Though I will say that going to thrift stores and antique shops is an active way that I DO give myself self care. But shopping just for the sake of shopping, because I’ve had a bad day? I need to cut myself off. I don’t need more books. I don’t need more clothes. I don’t need more clutter. Whenever the urge to mindlessly shop hits, I want to stop and take stock in what I already have. I think this is a weird habit that maybe only people with the same love language can understand. Gift giving (and receiving) is my love language. And in many circumstances, especially around my birthday and other holidays, I like to shop for myself. I like to give myself gifts because it does fill me up, even if it sounds to people with all other love languages like a ridiculous excuse. That’s how my love tank works, though. I just need to cut back.

RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Get My Family Back.
    I feel like I’ve lost them this last year. Or…they’ve left me behind? You know how in most families the mom is the glue that holds everyone together? That’s not really the dynamic in our household. Yes, I do all the organizing and shopping and cooking and school things- all the behind the scenes stuff that makes a household run relatively smoothly. But I’m not there. I’m not actively present for so many little life moments. Part of the reason is because I just don’t feel like I fit in with them. They love video games. They love Legos. They love complicated board games that always end in screaming and tears. I don’t want to sit in a room with them and watch them play video games all night when there is ALWAYS a huge running list in my head of other things I want to do. Another reason I’ve lost them is that I’ve honestly just stopped trying. The truth, which I should stop using as an excuse, is that Caden never wants to do ANYTHING. I love getting out of the house with my kids and even the tiniest request is always, always, always met with extreme outrage from him. I got really sick of fighting it. If he doesn’t want to do things with me, then what’s the point of fighting it out? It’s SO MUCH EASIER to just drop it. Walk away. Go live on my side of the house where I can at least spend my time doing something productive, even if it’s not the connecting activity I was hoping for. But it finally occurred to me the other day that I’m still the mom. I’m not allowed to give up on my kids. I try so hard to almost never push him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. But it’s come at the cost of me feeling emotionally empty with my own family. Empty and a more than a little resentful because it feels like they’re not letting me live the life I really want to live. They don’t need me anymore. They certainly don’t want me. Daddy is their everything. But it’s time to do a little fighting back and not give up.
  2. Prioritize Marriage.
    I was looking through all my instagram pictures last night trying to pick out the best memories of the year. One of those was a picture of Greg and I when we cut out of someplace we were supposed to be to do something for ourselves. It was definitely met with a little outrage, but for once we didn’t care. We have to stop letting our need to please other people always make our own relationship slide to the back burner. We also need to stop letting our kids rule the roost. I just want to approach our relationship as being one of my highest priorities this year. Because it’s not, for either of us.
  3. Make Friendships Important.
    It’s so easy to let this slide in the craziness of family life. You begin falling into the trap thinking that you don’t actually need friends because your life is so full and busy with your family. And the reality is that making time for friends is HARD WORK. No matter how much fun you had the last time you were together, it’s still so hard to get out the door the next time something comes up. But it’s important. It really, really is. And even though I know it’s going to require ME to make the effort, I’m not going to give up this year. I need my friends. And I’d like to hope that they might need me a little too.

WORK

  1. Set Work Hours – It’s just a job!
    This is a really hard for one for me. Without the clearly defined boundary of leaving my house to go to an office, I am surrounded by and often consumed by work all the time. I often think of it and act like it’s my entire life. Especially when I’m in the middle of a big batch of dolls. Setting it aside for anything feels like a huge loss to my productivity. But working from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed does NOTHING for my personal happiness. It burns me out, stresses me out, and makes me feel extremely resentful of everything I’m missing out on. The ridiculous thing is that I put all of this on myself! I have no clock to punch and no boss to demand more of me. It’s just me. I have the freedom and because of that I feel like I owe it to everyone to put in my absolute best effort every waking minute. But I don’t want to live like that anymore! So set work hours it is. Preferably – just when my kids are at school! I’d really like to end at 3pm when I go to pick them up every day. And maybe a little bit more until dinnertime if they’re busy doing other things. But I really want to limit myself to only working one evening per week and one weekend per month – and only if I absolutely feel like it’s completely necessary. It’s just a job. And I’ll have a much richer life and a lot more joy if I start treating it like it’s not the be all and end all of my existence.
  2. Give Myself Grace.
    Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m just one person in an actively creative and artistic career. If I want to do my best and maintain a level of care and precision in my dollmaking, I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month. Yes, the income from a hundred dolls a month would be incredible! But it’s just not going to happen. I also need to remember that there are a few months of the year (May, September, December) that are just SO busy with actual life events, it’s really hard to keep up with sewing. I want my life to be my priority. And I want to give myself the grace to let up a little in those months. Take breaks when I need them. I DO have this freedom and I should let it GIVE me freedom to do what I need instead of letting it restrict me to feeling like I’m never doing enough, the way it has this last year.
  3. Work in Smaller Batches.
    I also need to remember that this is actually a business and I’d like it to continue being successful! And while I can’t produce hundreds of dolls a month, I can do my best to continually produce my best work. And my best work is often done when I only make a couple of dolls at a time. I get excited about all the details and really make my most precious dolls when I’m not struggling to get through a never ending pile of arms and legs. It’s also a lot better for business to be releasing new dolls every few days instead of every few weeks. When people are always watching for something new they get a lot more excited and immediately purchase those new dolls. It often feels counterproductive to make three dolls vs. twelve, but it’s worth it in the long run. For business and for my own wellbeing!

HOBBIES

  1. Read, read, read!
    Reading is my favorite thing ever. But lately when I’m stressed I find myself reaching for my phone to mindlessly scroll instead of picking up my kindle which is also always within reach. Books are going to enrich my life a whole lot more than my phone. I mostly read for entertainment and escape, but this year I’d like to put a little more emphasis on the nonfiction books that could uplift and change my heart. I have so many of them already in my possession, it’s time to crack them open!
  2. Write, write, write!
    I’m really loving having this blog as an outlet for a different form of creativity. For awhile I was hoping that it might grow into something more. But I’m realizing that’s probably a whole lot harder than I expected. And that’s okay. I’m making a small, but valuable income making dolls. And I love doing that. I don’t need to make money writing. It’s worth it for me to just have the availability to pour out my words on a page. Even though I’m pretty sure the only people that read this are my mom, my mother-in-law, my neighbor, and my best friend. (Hello, and thank you!) But that’s okay. It’s more about what writing can do for ME. I love it and I’m not going to stop.
  3. Bullet Journal!
    Because I apparently don’t have enough creative outlets in my life already, I decided to try out bullet journaling again this year. And I’m super excited about it! I’ve found ways to integrate actual journaling, habit tracking, and lists galore so it’s more than just writing down my daily to dos. I don’t want to get ahead of myself the way I did last time I tried this out a few years ago. But I’ve invested in some fun stencils and washi tape to really make the book more of a fun and artistic expression that I guess I can’t find in sewing or writing!

Well, I think that’s it! Longest New Year’s resolution list ever. You’ll be happy to know that in the middle of writing, Caden came up and asked me to play a board game with him. I immediately stopped and we played. Progress already, on day one!

Christmas Extravaganza 2017

20171222_133400(0) our christmas

Merry Belated Christmas! The last four days have been jam packed with Christmas festivities around here. Lots of family time, tons of presents, much laughter, and the usual amount of meltdowns peppered in between every thing. We’ve been busy! It’s been great, but also a little bit exhausting. I love all of our yearly traditions, but I do wish we could spend more time at our own house with a little more down time. I guess that’s what the week after Christmas is for, though. Anyway! I’ll try to keep my explanations brief, but I wanted to share all my photos from all our Christmas celebrations.

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On Friday after school we had our family Christmas! Like I said in my last post, I like doing ours early when we (usually) get the boys at their best. This year everyone was a little short-tempered (everyone being mostly Caden and I) and we had to take a few breaks in between gifts. But we made it through.

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IMG_3902 sunflower seeds

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Annie was a little hesitant about opening her presents, but she sure wanted it once the paper was off!

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Shepard got Greg a Groot poster. Fortunately, Greg decided to hang it in Shepard’s room and not our family room. 🙂

IMG_3940 shepard ornament

The ornament Shepard made me at school. I love it!

IMG_3948 seed shirt

IMG_3953 annie lounging

During one of our breaks.

IMG_3956 annie chip face

I love Annie’s face in this picture! Give me some chips!

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Greg made me a Lego brick head Raggedy Ann! This is my favorite present.

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I laughed so hard when I opened it!

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Greg also managed to surprise me with this necklace I’ve been wanting. He usually has the very unfortunate luck of ordering me things that then arrive in the mailbox in their actual packaging. I’m pretty much never surprised.

IMG_4005 brick headz

Found this limited edition Brick Headz set at Target.

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Now he can alternate sweatshirts. I don’t think he’s taken his gray sweatshirt off since October.

IMG_4019 bark box

I gave Annie a one month Bark Box, trying to see if the subscription would be worth it. The treats looked great, but the toys for the Christmas box were so ugly! And her “long lasting chew” lasted about thirty seconds.

After the present opening we just spent the night enjoying our gifts. I also got an Instant Pot, which I’m anxious to learn how to use. And a calendar, passenger seat protector for my car (for Annie), a couple of Willow Tree figurines from the boys, and a lot of coffee. In the evening we had our usual Friday night pizza.

20171223_092451 andrew birthday

On Saturday morning we went over to Greg’s parents’ to follow them to Oshkosh. We gave Andrew his belated birthday gifts first.

20171223_111643(0) pennys birthday cake

In Oshkosh, we attended Greg’s giant extended family party. I think there were about 50 people there this year. The grandchildren have been repopulating like crazy. 16 great-grandchildren in the last nine years. 15 of those, age 6 and younger! We also celebrated Grandma Penny’s 80th birthday with her favorite cake.

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The kids had a Secret Santa type exchange this year so they could take part in picking out gifts for one of their cousins. I know my kids really enjoyed picking individual gifts for their two matches. Shepard got this fun lego set from Natalie.

20171223_114515 caden art supply

And Caden got lots of fun art supplies from Reese. He was really excited!

20171223_123345 star wars socks

The highlight of the party is always the huge white elephant type gift exchange. This year’s theme was gifts that start with “S.” It’s definitely always a crap shoot on if you’re going to get something good or not. I personally think it’s a lot more fun when everyone actually brings something they think is a good gift. Some years that’s pretty rare. Greg was very happy with Star Wars lounge pants that he stole for the final time. I ended up with socks, skittles, a Santa hat, and silly putty. After the game Caden traded my socks for someone’s giant pack of spearmint gum.

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Hanging out after the gift exchange. When we got back to Beaver Dam, I went on home to take care of Annie and do some baking for Sunday.

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Christmas Eve is always our really big day with present openings and meals with both families. It’s always fun to have so much excitement in one day, but this year I was kind of wishing we could have split it up somehow. I was SO tired by afternoon. It’d be nice to just give each family one full day with a little more relaxing and less rushing. But I’m not sure that’ll ever work with so many schedules to work around. At least every year it gets easier with the boys and them not needing to be on such a tight sleep schedule.

IMG_4044 brunch spread

We started with a big brunch at Noe’s.

IMG_4045 cinnamon braid

I need a better powdered sugar duster lol. It tasted okay. Most of the butter and cinnamon sugar leaked out overnight. It probably would have tasted better warm. I cooked it at home so it was cold by the time we ate.

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Shepard was so excited about his snowboard! Even though the wind chill was like negative ten degrees, he spent at least an hour outside trying it out down the little hills in the yards. He’s pretty good at it! If there’s enough snow I’m going to take him to a real sledding hill later this week.

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I could barely see Caden behind his present stack! This was a paper telling him they were going to WI Dells next month with Grandma and Grandpa.

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Greg wrapped a single lego piece from a creation he made a few years ago for her and Melissa lost. She actually guessed what it was before she opened it, to everyone’s amazement.

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Salad Shooter. I use mine solely for cheese! But I think she’ll hopefully find some good uses for it!

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My favorite gifts this year were silhouette bracelets of the boys (and Hudson for Brittany and my mom) from La Papier Studio.

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We had video chat present opening with Sarah, Alex, and his parents in New Jersey. We missed having them around this year, but I think it’s great they were able to at least spend it with his family.

I’m pretty sure our present opening took three hours! I got all kinds of awesome gifts! I got the final four chairs to match my work table I got last Christmas. That table has been like the greatest gift ever. I use it every single day for a million different purposes. But it’s amazing for sewing, which is its intended purpose. Anyway, I also got some new pots and pans, some awesome taco cookbooks, fun new makeup to try out, and lots of other fun things.

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In the early afternoon, I went back home with the car loaded with presents to get Annie for the second half of the day. Then I went back to pick everyone up and we headed to my parents’. Once again Hudson was sleeping when we got there! 🙁 So I snuck in to peek on him. I used to HATE it when people did that with Caden because it was so impossible to get him to sleep in the first place. But I am now the annoying relative that does it too.

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These wooden puzzles were the first thing Caden opened in the morning and he worked on them all day.

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We gave my dad his belated birthday present. A new wallet filled with gift cards to his favorite restaurants. It’s the first year I ever remember him not working on Christmas Eve! Because it was a Sunday and FedEx was closed…I think. We’re usually waiting for him to get home from work to get on with the present opening. This year it was Tyler who was working. But only till six, so it was fine.

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Hudson woke up! Those eyes!!

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He loves his jumperoo!

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Working on some shrinky dinks.

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Tummy time! He’s so cute!

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Time to bust out the snacks. My pizza braid tasted delicious!

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So many snacks! My mom has so many bowls!

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Once Tyler got home and settled we opened gifts! I made Brittany open her Hudson silhouette bracelet first.

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And my mom had to open her three grandson bracelet at the same time. I really liked how they looked with three silhouettes. I’m kind of tempted to order one for myself with the boys and Annie as my third child. 😀

IMG_4125 annie at gate

Speaking of Annie…we had the room sort of gated off so Hudson could go on the floor safely. Annie had no problem jumping over the first gate. She’s much more agile than my mom’s dogs! After the taller board was up she just stood here looking sorrowful lol. I was literally close enough to keep my hand on her. But it wasn’t good enough. We opened it up after awhile and then she was content to go somewhere else and take a nap!

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My dad opening his third pair of socks in a row. That’s what he asked for!

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Keeping Annie company.

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Awesome mini versions of classic toys from Uncle Tyler.

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My mom found this awesome sign at an antique store! On Timmy’s birthday we walked by Shepard St. in Milwaukee and Shepard thought it was so cool. Now he has his own sign!

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Gigantic peanut butter sauce. I really want this for myself, but they only make the gigantic jars! I’m not ready to pull the plunge for myself, but I gifted it to him.

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We gave Hudson an octopus themed gift. This stuffed octopus is so cute, but way bigger than him!

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Shepard was getting so tired by the end of everything. He just kept laying on the floor about to fall asleep. Even though it was probably one of our earliest Christmas Eves, I was super tired too. And because it surprised us and snowed all day, we knew we still had to shovel when we got home, so we got out pretty quickly when gifts were over. It was lots of fun, though! I got many more great gifts. We’re pretty spoiled at Christmas!

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Caden was still awake when we got home. For what I think was the first time ever! So he arranged a tray of cookies and milk for Santa.

IMG_20171224_212956_278 cat pizza

While I was waiting for Caden to fall asleep and Greg was shoveling, I entertained myself by watching Jack sniff out his new cat pizza from Grandma. They’ve both been using the pizza as a bed today! So funny.

IMG_20171224_221649_658 santa came

Santa came! And then I could finally go to bed.

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Christmas morning! It was kind of an odd morning. Shepard said he was up at 4. Caden was up at 5:30. I went downstairs at 6. And the boys were much more interested in playing on their chromebooks than getting Greg up to open presents. I mean, they’ve already opened a million presents in the last few days. But it really bummed me out how little they seemed to care about the magic of Santa coming. It was kind of a rough morning for me. My kids are growing up. And maybe it’s a good thing they don’t care about presents that much? It’s just hard not to take it personally because that’s what I’m good at and that’s what I love doing.

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Once everyone was finally up we opened stockings.

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In my stocking was a Lisa Leonard Passage ring that I’ve been coveting for years! I didn’t plan on wearing it with my wedding ring stack, but it’s the only finger it properly fits on. I think it looks pretty nice all together! Maybe a little bit over the top, but I still love them. Santa even surprised me with an unexpected bracelet and pair of earrings in my stocking!

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This was the biggest box, so Shepard was thinking there were not one, but TWO Nintendo Switches in it. Sorry, kid! He didn’t say anything about the lack of an air hockey table, so I don’t think he was overly disappointed.

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No Nintendo Switch, but they did get an SNES Classic! That won as their favorite gift, of course. Pretty much haven’t played with anything else since opening it.

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She seemed to enjoy her first Christmas with us! Maybe a little bit confused and probably a little sad that she hasn’t been to the dog park or on any long walks. But there’s been a lot of excitement to keep her entertained.

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Shepard LOVED this thing.

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Jack was so happy after he played with his new toys! He hasn’t had any new toys since we got Annie and she ate them all. He’s always loved playing with toys, so I feel bad I haven’t gotten him new ones in nine months.

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Late morning we went back to Noe’s to open stockings and have lunch. Santa brings some stuffed stockings at their house!

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And then we stopped at my parents’ again for more stockings and more food and more shrinky dink making. I think we can guess what Shepard wants for his birthday!

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Dogs galore.

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Back at home I had to document all of our new books! I had a ton of books on Caden’s wish list and he received quite a few of them! Plus a bunch from us. He’s pretty hard to buy for. He doesn’t play with toys. He specifically told us he didn’t want any legos this year. And he never once said a single thing he did want. He reads whenever he’s not allowed to play games, so books it is! I’m really excited about my own stack of books! I’m going to be making so many tacos! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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I finished Christmas spending two hours in bed reading a great Christmas book with the cats snuggling around me and Annie on the floor next to me.

Overall, it was a great Christmas! Now onto the week of aftermath!! I spent the morning clearance shopping for my annual wrapping paper stock up. I had many great intentions of cleaning and organizing the rest of the day, but really didn’t do much of anything besides editing all these photos! Tomorrow will hopefully be more productive! I know the rest of break will just fly by and then the pressure to get back to work  will start to overwhelm me. So I need to make this week count! And do a lot of resting in between.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas weekend!

Saturday Reflections 12.23.2017

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Christmas is here! I was really hoping this last week would be totally stress free and relaxing. But that’s fairly impossible the week before Christmas, right? I’d say I had about an equal mix of doing way too many things I didn’t really feel like doing but needed to be done and some well deserved hours of self care. Overall, a pretty good week!

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On Sunday evening we went to see Santa at the Dodge County Airport. He came in very slowly on a little airplane. Caden was angry the first time he heard about it and angry about going because it HAD to be a fake Santa because Santa only comes in a sleigh with his reindeer. Shepard thought it was really awesome. Santa shook his hand when he walked through the building and he thought it was just the coolest thing that he touched Santa! The whole event was pretty packed, but everyone was in good spirits and it was a fun experience. We never take our kids to see Santa because they’ve always been terrified and I’m strongly against purposely scaring your kids for the sake of a picture. But I guess they’re old enough now that they’re only slightly apprehensive, and definitely not going to cry about it.

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I’m pretty sure this is the last year that Caden will believe in Santa. Side note on that – if you tell your kids the truth about Santa, can you PLEASE tell them not to go to school and tell all their friends??? I was absolutely devastated when my friend repeated the whole conversation she had with her mom about Santa not being real when I was nine. I get that it’s something kids will probably talk about regardless, but I hate to have my own kids heartbroken in the same way. There’s definitely been plenty of seeds of doubts planted in Caden’s mind this year from his friends. Greg’s starting to be bothered about flat out lying to him, but I want him to believe in the magic for as long as possible. It’s just never the same once you know the truth.

Anyway! Caden asked Santa for his own Nintendo Switch. Shepard asked Santa for an air hockey table. They’ve both spent the entire week talking about how of course Santa is going to get those things for them because it’s the first time they ever asked him in person for something. So….Christmas morning might be a bit of a disappointment! 🙁 At least Shepard has a birthday coming up and an air hockey table might be a possibility. A smallish one. Caden will just have to keep on dreaming!

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Monday was supposed to be my big baking day, but I definitely didn’t get as much done as I wanted. By the time I take the boys to school, take Annie to the dog park, get all the pets situated with food and water, and finally eat my late breakfast, it’s like half the morning is gone. And this Monday I also had to get some groceries and prep some food for the crockpot. I was ready for a nap by midday. Annie enjoyed the candle fire in my place.

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Tuesday was another crockpot meal. I should really try harder to do those more often. I hate giving up part of my morning on meal prep, but it certainly makes the afternoons so much easier!

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By later Tuesday night I finally finished all my baking and made up boxes for the neighbors. The boys and I snuck around leaving boxes on everyone’s porches. I picked seven of my favorite tried and true cookie recipes and realize that all of those only made really small batches! Almost everything I made was just about gone after divvying up between neighbors!

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I really don’t know what I did on Wednesday! I think I was scurrying around finishing up all the wrapping, working on laundry, running more errands. Shepard helped me make some Rudolph noses in the evening. I kept thinking I should do more baking, but it was pretty much the last thing in the world I felt like doing.

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Thursday was FINALLY my day of rest! I planned to spend the entire day lounging on my futon with my book and candles and soft music playing. It was great, but I also had a really hard time relaxing enough to enjoy it. I’ve been so amped up for weeks trying to get so much done. It was hard to properly enjoy a day with permission to just BE.

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I did enjoy the afternoon just staring at my pretty tree and gift piles! I really love our house, but especially this room, and particularly at Christmastime. It makes me so very happy. 🙂

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Thursday night I tried to get ahead of the game and work on a pizza braid that I’m bringing over to my parents’ for Christmas Eve. I love how it turned out! I wrapped it up and put it in the freezer to bake that night. Hopefully it survived!!

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Friday was pajama day at school. Trying to get a nicely posed picture with these three together is nearly impossible! Annie does NOT like to cooperate for posed pictures!

I spent Friday morning fighting the crowds at Target because the boys realized they didn’t pick out gifts for each other or Greg. Poor planning on my part, I guess. They just HATE going to stores, so I thought we’d skip it this year. But I want to encourage them gifting to other people instead of just thinking about themselves, so they each sent me with a list of what they wanted to get. I tried my best to find what they wanted. Next year we’ll make it a higher priority.

Then I met my mom at the theater to see Pitch Perfect 3! I thought it was really good! Not like an incredible movie, but definitely entertaining and light and happy. Just what I needed. We had a delicious lunch at Monk’s and then I headed home.

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Friday afternoon we had our family Christmas! We usually do it on the 23rd, but the last two years we’ve had big family parties that day so we moved it up a day. It’s kind of nice to have our family opening when the boys are still fresh and excited about everything. It gets a little overwhelming by the time Santa comes and they have their last gift opening. I’ll write more about this on a separate Christmas post in a few days. 🙂

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I was so happy to receive this letter from our mail carrier! It made me really glad I put out that box of treats every day. I’m glad she liked the chocolate covered peppermint topped candy cane Joe-Joe’s from Trader Joe’s! They were so good, which is why I gifted them to many people this year!

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And today we had Greg’s huge family party in Oshkosh. I’m told there were 49 people there! Always a fun time, especially the big present exchange/war.

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I came home after the party to check on Annie and do some final baking. I had to take pictures of everything I’m making ahead of time in case something disastrous happens by the time they’re baked and served! This is a cranberry, bacon, and brie wreath for tomorrow night.

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And a cinnamon braid wreath for brunch tomorrow. I also made another batch of cookies. That’s enough baking for awhile!

That was my week! I won’t be writing a Sunday Intentions post this week. I don’t have any priorities other than to just enjoy whatever comes in the following days. We have Christmas with both our families tomorrow. Santa on Monday and maybe some extra family time. Greg is taking vacation on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m hoping to get a lot of reading in and hopefully some writing. Finally! I’m so behind on all the posts. Of course there’s also all that end of the year stuff swirling around in my brain about what I want to do differently next year. Lots to think about, lots to write about. We’ll see how much I get to. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

Saturday Reflections 12.09.2017

December is flying by! Christmas is only two weeks away! How is that possible?! I’m starting to feel the panic setting in. Mostly because I’m not getting the dolls made that I wanted to. I’m SO DISTRACTED. There are just so many things grabbing my attention. Though I finally finished shopping for everyone last night, so maybe with that off my mind I can find some focus for the upcoming week. I really strive to sit back and enjoy December and it hasn’t happened yet. But I’m getting there. Hopefully.

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Anyway, I really tried to take each day this week one day at a time and solely focus on the one most important thing I needed to work on. Monday was a work day. I finished up three gift dolls, four dolls for the shop, and wrapped and shipped out a few gifts that needed to be mailed. I also had to wrap all the St. Nick gifts, which took way too long! Nothing terribly exciting, but it needed to be done!

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Tuesday was errands, dentist, and party prep. I have two cavities, which the dentist took great joy in announcing while trying to shame me for not flossing enough. They didn’t have an appointment available until January to get them filled, so I’m not going to worry about it right now. They were so busy that day and wait times were ridiculous. I was not happy considering how many other things I needed to do afterward. Shopping for the party, dinner, and making these cookies. They’re my favorite. SO GOOD. I can only make them for other people because nobody in my family will eat things with nuts on them and Greg won’t eat anything with extra salt on it. He is MISSING OUT.

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Wednesday was St. Nick’s Day! We were lucky that it happened to land on a late start day this year. Greg was hoping to open gifts with us before he left for work, but of course of all days, Shepard slept until 7:20! He’s usually up well before 6 (much to my annoyance!). The boys were all really excited about their gift piles. St. Nick brought everyone a book and a card game, as well as some mustards and sauces and jams and a variety of bath products. He brought me the book Dot Journaling and a blank journal. I’m hoping to give bullet journaling another shot in the new year. The boys opened Greg’s presents for him while they video chatted before school.

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Annie got a stuffed Christmas tree. I couldn’t believe how we opened the french doors and she immediately ran over and grabbed her toy! Zero sniffing around or investigating, she just seemed to know it was there waiting for her. She pulverized the toy in less than five minutes.

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Real smiles! Hooray!

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I made our favorite croissant treats for breakfast. I just buy a box of croissants from Costco and then slice them all open, put a layer of chocolate chips and flaky sea salt inside, close them up, brush on maple syrup, top with coarse sugar, and bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes. It really makes a normal croissant taste a million times better.

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After the boys went to school I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up for my FAVORITE THINGS PARTY. Also known as one of my favorite nights of the year! This is the third year I’ve hosted it and every year it gets bigger and more fun! The rules are pretty simple – bring three of your favorite things and at the party we each draw three names and have a big gift exchange. It’s so much fun to see what people bring. I also asked everyone to bring an appetizer or dessert or drink this year, so I wouldn’t have to provide that much food. I made the cookies and this cheese tray. I love making cheese trays!

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Annie was ready for the party in her ugly Christmas sweater!

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I didn’t get many people pictures, but I believe we had 16 people there this year. So much fun! So much delicious food too.

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Annie was the life of the party and trying so hard to stay awake!

I kept meaning to put together some gift guides this fall because I LOVE looking at gift guides. But of course I ran out of time. So I’ll just give you a mini gift guide of what I gave for my favorite things this year. You’re technically supposed to just give one thing, but I always like to make it a little bundle because it looks more special, and if the recipient hates one of the things she might still like the accompanying item.

my favorite things

  1. Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford
    I love this book so much! I’m not done with it yet, but it’s the one part of my morning routine that I never miss. The book is divided into seasons and each season has 1-2 page chapters/essays/devotionals. It has a Christian perspective, but it’s not technically a devotional with a scripture base. It’s just so many amazingly insightful glimpses of what you could be doing to make your life happier, more joyful, more filled with the things that actually matter. I love this book. Get it for yourself, a friend, basically anyone.
  2. Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens
    I am obsessed with these pens! I use them to underline passages in the book, which is why I gave them with the book. Plus they look really good together with the similar colors! I also use them in my planner. Every week I pick out four colors and each color is meant for a different aspect of my life (commitments, to dos, blog posts, meal plans) in the planner. I’m a nerd.
  3. Tarte Quench Lip Rescue Lipstick – in Cherry
    My sister-in-law gifted me a huge lipstick sampler for my birthday, and this is the one that I absolutely fell in love with. I’m a bit of a lipstick junkie, but I’m really particular about what I like. It needs to feel nice on my lips and also been shiny and preferably sheer. This one fits all the requirements with the added benefit of tasting like peppermint. The Cherry color is my favorite. It looks really bright in the tube, but is much more subtle on the lips. I also love the Berry. I own Nude and Rose too and like them as well.
  4. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – in Red Dahlia
    More like a chapstick than a lipstick, this one still provides a really sheer beautiful layer of color. My mom and I both fell in love with these this year and I think Red Dahlia is the favorite of both of ours. You don’t need to look in a mirror to put it on, so it’s a great addition to your purse anytime you want a tiny pop of color.
  5. Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Lip Balm
    Chapsticks are definitely my first love! I keep 2-3 varieties in no less than seven different locations around my house so I can always put some on. Dr. Bronner’s has been a new one I tried this year and really love.
  6. Merry & Bright Mugs
    I was so excited when the Heart & Home Collection was released at Target this fall. This mug was an instant favorite – and also nearly impossible to get. I tried to order one online at 5am the day they came out and they were sold out by the time I got to my cart. But persistence tends to pay off and from three separate orders I ended up with eight of them in my possession. I kept two, gave two for this party, and gave the other four as individual gifts. I love how cute and understated they are. They’re also small, which is something I prefer for my hot drinks of choice.
  7.  Frozen Bean Latte Frappe Mixes
    As a new coffee drinker, I decided to pick these up at Walmart one day. They’re surprisingly really tasty! They have an option to make cold in a blender with ice for a frappuccino, or hot like a latte. I’ve only done the cold method, but it’s great!

Okay, back to my week! Thursday was a total recovery day. I was so tired from everything. I spent most of the day just mindlessly looking at things online. I also ran to my favorite gift store to check out their Christmas decorations. I put zero pressure on myself to actually get anything done. Probably not how I really should have spent the day, but I needed it.

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Friday I was just all over the place. The deep seated need to FINISH Christmas shopping was pretty much prevailing over all other thoughts for the day. So I just pulled the trigger on a bunch of things I’ve been putting off. And other than a gift or two for one person who is causing me issue this year, I’m pretty much done!

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Annie had a playdate in the afternoon with my friend Kristin’s dog Rosie. They’d never met before, and hit it off pretty well!

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And the rest of the day was spent sewing. So many dolls left. Next Saturday is my hard deadline for finishing them. But I’d like to have them done on Wednesday. I’d really like to have them done on Tuesday! The sooner I get them done the sooner I can wrap presents, bake cookies, read books, write my backlog of blog posts, and just RELAX. But I need to get these done first.

Anyway, it’s time to get back to work! I have a few hours to sew this morning and then the boys are off on a sleepover and Greg and I are having a date day! We’re seeing Ladybird and eating – somewhere. Not terribly festive, but it’s just so cold out!

Hope you had a great week!