July 2019 Goals


Time for July goals. I’ve been struggling with this – mostly because I have so many abstract ideas of how I’d like this month to play out, but feel like putting them all out there is just going to set myself up for failure. I’m fortunate in that July and August are almost always completely open to whatever I want to do. It seems like I should really take advantage of that and not force myself to buckle down and feel like I NEED to do anything. I’m very good at staying on task the rest of the year, why not live it up a little in summer? At the same time, I like having goals. I like working toward accomplishments that I can be proud of. The more unstructured I am over a stretch of time, the more stressed out and frustrated I get with everything. So, goals need to be made. And if they’re not met? It’ll be okay.

1 – Live by the mantra “No Extras”

So I’m going to Book Bonanza in just over a month. It’s going to be a really expensive solo vacation. I need to seriously cut out ALL extra spending this month to save up and prepare and allow myself to go on this trip without any guilt or worry. I need to muster up some discipline and say no to all the random things I pick up for myself at my favorite stores and online shops. I want to cut out business purchases too, unless it’s something I genuinely need in my day to day operations – not like an order of new fabric just because it’s pretty. It helps that the boys will have to come with me any time I want to go somewhere starting tomorrow, so that’ll definitely cut back on actual trips to stores. I’ve been thinking it’d be a great time to start doing online grocery shopping too – where we won’t even have to step foot into the stores and avoid spontaneous purchases. (Kids want A LOT of things!) And online things…better to not even look. Delete those sale emails before they ever get opened!

2 – Work as much as possible to earn a break in August

Same as #1 – the more money I can make this month, the better. If the boys are outside playing with friends and we don’t have any other plans for the day, I want to be working. Sewing IS my job and I can’t be so laid back about it. Not this month. My goal is to really try my hardest and feel like I earned at least a solid two weeks of vacation time in August.

3- ENFORCE the No Screens Before Noon rule

I wrote up all the components of this new rule last night and hung it on the fridge. Shockingly, the boys seemed totally fine with it. They thought it was hilarious that one of the suggestions for things to do in the morning was “Do something fun with Mom.” Their response? “You’re not fun! You don’t even know how to run!” So apparently running is the epitome of a fun time. My goal is to really stay strong with this and hopefully after the first few days they won’t even think to ask me to change my mind. I’m considering forcing myself to stay away from screens in the morning too… It would certainly encourage me to get a whole lot more done.

4 – Go to at least 3 Madison dog parks

I’m sure it’s probably the same everywhere, but the Columbus dog park is SO ridiculously overrun with mosquitoes right now that it’s miserable being there. And if last year is any indication, the mosquitoes will still be there and even worse, well into October. That’s not the reason I want to go to Madison, it’s just a good nudge to try someplace new. I’ve been wanting to take Annie to new dog parks all year and could never find the time. At least with the boys along it’s more of an adventure for all of us. Plus we can pack picnics and make a whole morning of it.

5 – Read my shelves, including at least 2 nonfiction books

My TBR shelves are really full. I want to start working through them and weeding out the ones I don’t want to keep around forever (and make room for more new ones!). I’d also really like to finish the two nonfiction books I started last month, Introverted Mom and Burnout. Maybe if I set a goal of reading at least a chapter a day from either of them? Before my fiction?

6 – Make a wish list of things to do with the boys this summer

Hopefully this will happen tomorrow! I don’t want to be super ambitious, but I do want to get a solid list of things we can do before school starts. It’d be nice to get the boys’ input so there are things on the list they’re actually looking forward to and not just things that I think sound fun.

7 – Be intuitive to what I need – emotionally, physically, mentally

So this is pretty abstract. But I usually know what I actually need to be happy and healthy and more often than not, I ignore it to power through with whatever feels most pressing on my to do list. While I DO want to keep making a lot of dolls this summer, I also want to rest and read and enjoy my kids. I’d like to learn to be more in tune to my needs AND feed them.

June 2019 Goals

Ready or not, June is here! With just two days left of school, it’s basically summer. I still don’t feel ready, but will I ever? I admit I’m definitely looking forward to some less structured days and making fun memories with my kids. I’m just dreading the days like today where Caden starts whining and begging and freaking out about NEEDING to play video games at 6am. And who am I kidding, despite all the rules we already set up to try and avoid this sort of thing, basically every day will start this way. Guaranteed. I am SO not ready for the constant arguing and negotiations and pushing all my buttons with the sole purpose of wearing me down to the point of letting them do whatever they want before I totally lose it. Summer strips me of all control and makes me feel very, very weak. At its core, that is why summer is my least favorite time of year. BUT, I’m going to try my best to suck it up and make the most of it.

June is still a pretty busy month. We only have a couple days of break before summer school begins next Monday. That’ll give me a few hours of reprieve each day to get some work done and run errands without needing to bring them with me just yet. (Stores are Caden’s WORST NIGHTMARE and he acts accordingly.) But we’re also having a garage sale that week, so I’ll really just be spending all my time doing that. Caden’s also doing a basketball camp that first week immediately after summer school, so it’s going to be a lot of rushing around with a VERY exhausted and cranky child after three of his four summer school classes essentially being gym classes, followed by two hours of basketball. Can’t wait.

With most of our days still being fairly structured – just in a shorter time frame – I’m not giving myself too many goals this month. I’m still in survival mode. June is also the worst month for my allergies, when I try to avoid going outside at almost all cost. I don’t have any lofty visions of day trips or making memories beyond hanging out at home or the pool. That’ll come in July and August. Instead I want to focus on things that make me happy and bring some joy to my days.

1 – Read like it’s my job!

I want to devote every possible spare minute of my life to reading this month. It’s been so busy the last few I haven’t had time to read the way that I want to. This month I give myself full permission to sit down and read ANY time I don’t want to do something else. So far I’ve already read two books this month (okay, technically one was on the 31st, but I already wrote my book post, so it’s counting for June) and it’s only the 2nd. I’m also all about the FUN books this month. I normally try to intersperse the lighter books with things that are a bit more serious and heavy, but I just want to go wherever my heart leads me in the next few weeks. Though I would also like to buckle down and read two nonfiction books on my stacks that I think will help me mentally get through all my summer challenges. They probably won’t be much fun to read, but hopefully so very helpful.

2 – Have one awesome clutter clearing fresh start feeling garage sale!

We had our last garage sale two years ago and left all the remaining items in boxes in the garage for the next year. But I was recovering from my broken ankle last summer and literally could not fathom the idea of having another sale. So this is the year! Our goal is to basically get rid of every single tiny thing in our entire house that we don’t want. And to list everything as cheaply as possible because we just want it gone. It’s already taken up a lot of our time the last few weekends, but it’s basically going to be my full time job for the next two weeks. I hate all the prep work, but always think it’s so fun to have the actual sale! The boys are really excited too. I’m going to let them skip that Friday of summer school if they agree to actually help out.

3 – Embrace the chaos

In other words, let go of all my perfectionism and need to control every aspect of my life at all times. I want to give myself grace to rest and relax and just go with the flow. Do things with my kids they might not expect instead of always hiding away with my to do list and agenda (last night we played basketball!). I also don’t want to place too many work related expectations on myself this month. Normally I’d still try to be working pretty hard while the boys are in summer school and I have a few uninterrupted hours to get things done. But the garage sale is kind of throwing that off and I expect I’ll be crazy tired and need a break the week after. I don’t want to stop working entirely, but I’ve lowered my expectations and know it won’t be a very productive month. I also just want to be more open to taking the boys to the pool if they ask to go, taking the pets on walks, and just plain giving more of myself and my time to the people I love.

4 – Designate Writing Wednesdays to work on my Hope*Writers course

So despite all the plans for goal #3, I DO want to be disciplined enough to spend a solid chunk of time each Wednesday this month working on my writing course. Enough to feel like I’m accomplishing something, but not so much that it feels overwhelming or like I’m setting myself up to fail.

I had one more goal in mind, but I think four is enough for June. It’s certainly enough to keep me busy! I hope if I can just keep these four actions in mind, it’ll be enough to direct all my decisions toward the path of having a great summer. Wish me luck! And if summer feels like stressful insanity to you too – know you’re not alone. If summer is the greatest three months of your life every year – I don’t want to hear it. 😀

May 2019 Goals

Whew! I didn’t think I was going to get this post written today. It’s been a day of total insanity, trying to get ready to leave on our vacation tomorrow morning. I only got about half the things done I wanted to do, with no break in the last 15 hours. It probably would have been fine if I hadn’t spent three hours running unexpected errands in Madison. But Greg apparently really needed mouthwash. And Target FINALLY had a deal on cat litter. And Shepard was desperate to get the new sandals I ordered, but weren’t supposed to come until we were gone and I wanted to see if I looked at a different Target if I could find them. (I didn’t. But then they came in the mail today anyway, even though tracking still says tomorrow.) I was doing twenty different things in five different directions and I am about at my wit’s end. I’m ready to call it, though. The only major thing left is three loads of laundry that should have been folded and put away. But it’s just going to have to wait. I can possibly get it done before we leave tomorrow. Maybe.

Anyway! I really wanted to write this out tonight so I could have my goals in mind this coming week, even if I’m not officially counting it as a time frame where I NEED to be thinking of my goals. I know I’m going to feel just as stressed the day after we get back as I do today, so better to be prepared! I’m trying to take it easy on myself again this month because there is SO MUCH going on. There isn’t much spare time for anything besides getting through life and all the fun activities and celebrations coming up.

1 – Have an AWESOME vacation!

I need it. Greg and I both need it. I feel like there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun or relaxation in the last couple of months. I really can’t even believe how busy our schedule has been without our kids really even being in more than one activity at a time. Plus my sleep schedule has been so messed up for like six months which never helps with anything. I’m looking forward to GETTING AWAY . I was actually quite stressed about it, but multiple people have told me I’m allowed to forget about everything for a week, so I’m going to try. As best I can. 🙂 We have a pretty loose itinerary for the week, which doesn’t always work out very well with our super anti-spontaneous personalities. But way too often I go on trips expecting to do so many things and then I’m disappointed if we can’t fit something in. So I created large lists of possibilities with a ton of restaurant choices and we’ll just see what we feel like. Or do that the first day and if it feels too stressful I’ll create super detailed plans each night for the rest of the days! At any rate, I’m really excited to see Colorado – a state we’ve never been to before. It’ll be really great!

2 – Treat myself to a special Mother’s Day weekend

So because I have very little control over what happens on actual Mother’s Day, I have a longstanding tradition of spending the Saturday before out shopping by myself. Last year I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t drive yet and I could barely walk with my crutches. My family still took me to the farmer’s market, but that was a far cry from the kind of day I like to have. This year’s Pre-Mother’s Day will be my first time at the farmer’s market this season, so it’ll be extra special! I already informed Greg that I will be gone the entire day. Maybe I’ll see a movie or just browse every bookstore in Madison until I don’t even want to look at another book. No matter what, you better believe I’m going to make the most of that day! I also strongly encourage other moms to do something like this too, especially if you spend most of Mother’s Day celebrating grandmas. It’s SO worth it treating yourself to a special day doing whatever YOU want to do.

3 – Do a 6 year anniversary Heartstring Annie giveaway and sale

I was hoping to have my giveaway doll finished up today so I could jump into this right when I get back, but no such luck. But hopefully by the middle of next week I can get going on my belated anniversary celebration. It’s a great way to drum up some new customers, plus I’m sure I’ll be needing that boost in sales!

4 – Finish my Hope*Writers 90 Day Direction course

So it’s still a little unclear to me if this course is supposed to take 90 days to complete, or it’s supposed to give you a timeline for your first 90 days of deciding the direction you want to take in your writing. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, because I think most of the videos are taken from the conference they did 2 years ago. So three day’s worth of conference material spread out over almost four weeks. It’s going to be tough with all the doll stuff also going on, but I’d like to make it a higher priority than I have these past two weeks since I signed up. I’d love to have some sort of plan for how I want to proceed with both of my career directions over the summer, so hopefully this will help me figure out how much time I should be devoting to writing versus everything else in my life!

5 – Go through all my new cookbooks

I still have the two cookbooks from Christmas. I have another I bought a few weeks ago. And two more came today on release day. So five cookbooks. A ton of new recipes to peruse. Infinite possibilities and inspiration! Even if it takes me an entire day, I want to get through them all and actually start making new foods.

I think that’s enough! I didn’t want to make it an actual goal because it sounds kind of dumb, but basically I really just want to enjoy the month of May. There are always so many fun things going on, but I can’t help getting depressed about the school year coming to an end. Summer is really, really hard on me. I am an extreme introvert and not the most patient or fun mom, especially when I’m often trying to continue on with my own full time working in the middle of all the added responsibilities of kids being around all day. I’m hoping this is the May I can let go of my worries and just enjoy each day as it comes. We have a week of vacation, which will be great. I have a long overdue night out with a few friends scheduled. My pre-Mother’s Day festivities. Actual Mother’s Day. Greg’s birthday. The Happier Podcast live show in Milwaukee. My goddaughter’s dance recital. The school carnival. Shepard’s soccer practices and games. Our 13 year anniversary. And maybe, I think, seeing Hudson for the first time in almost four months! It’s such a busy month, but it has the potential to be really great if I can just get out of my head and enjoy my life. I think I’m ready.

April 2019 Goals

I finally dragged myself out of my chair to write this goals post, seven days late. I mentioned yesterday this weird cough I developed this week, accompanied by zero motivation to basically do anything. After another sleepless night and hacking away for the last 24 hours, I think I’m fully in the dark stages of whatever this is. My eyes also feel like grit is constantly being blown into them, which makes me think allergy season is coming earlier than normal. It’s just not a very pleasant place to be. And I expect it’s not going away anytime soon. So I’m readjusting the goals I wrote out for myself in my journal last week, trying to give myself instead some very realistic expectations for the coming weeks.

1 – No unnecessary spending

We have had so many unexpected (and some expected, I just always forget about them) expenses in the last few weeks. A ridiculous amount of money in vet bills. A new air conditioner being installed. Another year of auto insurance. License plate renewal. A full blown vacation we weren’t necessary planning for, at least not this early in the year. It all happened at once, as is often the case! So I’m trying really hard to be super smart about grocery shopping this month and not buying any “extras” online. That means no fun shopping trips this month either. I’m trying to keep my attention focused on our vacation next month and not spend any more money unless we desperately need it.

2 – No fast food

As I mentioned at the end of March, my eating habits have been out of control again. One first step that I can mostly fully control is not going through any drive thrus! I have an inkling that a Culver’s trip might be part of our plans this week before or after Shepard’s chorus concert, but other than that – I’m avoiding it. And generally trying to eat better at home as well, but for now I’m cutting back on my restaurant calories.

3 – Take a walk every day

I originally had this written as a daily step goal. But with this new sickness that creeped up, I think it’s better I focus more on resting. But fresh air is always great and it’s good for Annie, so I’d like to make sure I take some sort of walk every single day.

4 – Read a new cookbook

I bought myself a couple of new cookbooks around Christmas, full of grand plans to dive into them and get cooking amazing meals again. Well, they’re still on the shelves, untouched. I’d really like to spend an afternoon going through at least one of them. I could use some inspiration.

5 – Finish two or more shelf books

I need to keep up with my physical books! I’ve been back on a kindle binge again, just because it’s easier to read in the dark with it. I’m in the middle of very slowly making my way through like ten different nonfiction books at the moment, so it’d be great to finish two of them. Or more!

6 – Plan for May

Is this a dumb goal?! May is always one of our most fun, but also busiest months of the year. There’s my Heartstring Annie anniversary, which I usually spend a week celebrating with extra sales and giveaways and special dolls. This year we’ll be on our Colorado vacation over that week, so I need to either move the celebrations ahead a week (ideally) or have them ready for the week we get back. Then there’s Mother’s Day. I have no gifts yet and no ideas. Then it’s Greg’s birthday. No gifts yet, no plans figured out. 35 feels like a slightly more monumental birthday, so I need to do more than just wing it. Our anniversary is at the end of the month. Not quite a huge deal this year, except for the six days we’ll be gone at the beginning of the month to celebrate. It was a bit selfish leaving during the craziest month, but our other choice was to postpone it until July or August and we didn’t want to wait that long. And then there’s just all the school stuff. Teacher appreciation week, which usually requires five full days of various gifts based on themes. Shepard decided to join soccer, so two nights a week of that. I’m spending a day in Milwaukee for a podcast airing. There’s just a lot going on. It’s going to be AWESOME, but only if I’m fully organized and ready for it. I think I basically need to devote this entire month toward prepping if I want May to go smoothly. And I really, really want May to go smoothly.

I think I’m going to leave it at that for now. 🙂 With how I’m feeling right now and how busy this upcoming week is already, I don’t want to put too many goals on my shoulders. I just want to feel better. I think having just these six goals will help guide me through and focus my priorities, without overwhelming me. Exactly what I need!

March 2019 Goals

Time for more goals! I have to say that giving myself a list of obtainable goals every month really helps shape so many of the decisions I make on a day to day basis. I love having those priorities at the back of my mind, knowing I’ll have to be accountable to them (and you guys) at the end of the month. It keeps me on track and focused in a way nothing else ever has before. After such a crazy February I’m trying to keep my March goals super short and doable. Setting myself up for success is always a great feeling. 🙂

1. Prioritize WORK – Complete 4 batches of dolls

Sewing took the furthest back burner in February. I need to rectify that in March! My goal is to complete four batches of dolls this month, one every week. It might require more night and weekend hours than I’d like, but the sacrifice is worth it this month to try and feel a lot more caught up with where I should be at this time of year.

2. DNF books I don’t like

February was a pretty crappy reading month because I kept pushing through on books that really did not hold my interest. This month I want to make sure I just stop reading something if I don’t like it. Why punish myself and use up valuable reading time if it’s not bringing me joy??

3. Start a yoga class

Really phoning it in with this goal that I’ve already signed up for. 🙂 This Wednesday I’m starting a Graceful Yoga class with my mom. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit less intense than the yoga class I took before I broke my ankle. I really love the idea of yoga, and hope to find ways to start incorporating it back into my life.

4. Go on a date with all three of my boys

Everyone’s schedules have been so busy that I don’t think Greg and I have had one of our “regular” weekday date nights this entire year so far. There’s a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for MONTHS, so I’m really, really, really hoping we can somehow find a way to make it there and soon! I’d also like to do something special with Caden and Shepard, individually. I have a few restaurants in mind, it’s just a matter of getting it on the calendar.

5. Take Annie to a Madison dog park

I’m really hoping it maybe starts warming up this month! I’d love to get Annie to one of the Madison dog parks I started visiting last year. I love seeing the new parks and she loves exploring anything outside that she can. This has been such a terrible winter, I really want to make up for it with a lot of outdoor time in spring – before my allergies get horrific in June and I have to lock myself in the house again.

6. See friends at least 3 times

Again, kind of sort of cheating on this, since I already have two friend dates on the calendar this week. But like last month – I don’t want to give up!

7. Take Mom to Manna Cafe

I found this restaurant in late December and LOVED IT. I went two or three times in two weeks, but haven’t had time to go back since. I had planned to bring my mom there in January, but with my uncle dying it got too hard to plan out. But this month – it will happen. I NEED another one of their fancy coffees.

8. See a movie by myself

Okay, I’m not sure if any good movies are even coming out this month, but if I see something I’m intrigued by, I’m going to go! Theater movies by myself are one of my favorite things. I’m not going to deny myself the opportunity to see something the way I did last fall. It’s one of my ultimate self care options.

9. Read two nonfiction books

Self explanatory. I want to remember all those stacks of nonfiction books around the house instead of always resorting to my beloved fiction.

10. Eat better

Okay, so it’s vague. But all my healthy habits I cultivated so hard in November and December really flew out the window around Christmas and I haven’t gotten them back. It’s time to make this a bigger priority in my life again. BE HEALTHY. Make better choices. No fast food. No food that I know full well will make me feel like crap. Portion size, serving size. Start caring again about my body.

That’s it! Quite a list this month, but basically – focus on work, focus on connecting with people individually. I think it’ll be a great month!

February 2019 Goals

It’s time for a new month and a fresh set of goals. I hoping February will be a lot more upbeat and enjoyable than January. When I sat down to write out my goals I had a hard time coming up with much because our calendar is so full. It’s the shortest month of the year and we seem to always have a million things going on, this year even more so than in the past. So I’m going to try and keep my goals pretty light and obtainable this month!

1 – Don’t give up on the life I want

Okay, so that’s not exactly “light.” I’m just feeling pretty frustrated and down tonight. I’m honestly just ready to throw in the towel when it comes to maintaining friendships or making new ones. It doesn’t seem important to anyone else, and I’m tired of fighting this battle on my own. But as much as I want to give up, I don’t want to give in to that feeling. I want to muster up some hope that adult friendships really can come out ahead. I also want to believe that marriage can be consistent and parenting doesn’t always have to be a challenge. I want to dig deep this month to bring whatever it is I need to carry me into spring when surely the future will start looking brighter.

2 – Have two wonderful family vacations

We have two vacations this month! Weather permitting, we’re going to Nebraska next weekend to visit my brother and his family (Hudson!) and go to the Guster concert I bought Greg tickets for at Christmas. The following weekend we’re headed to Florida for Universal and Harry Potter World! Greg’s parents are taking us and we’re going to be there for five days, with Shepard’s birthday falling right in the middle of that. Experience says that our family vacations almost always turn into disasters. I’m hoping with the level of excitement the boys have over these trips, though, it’ll really work out and we’ll all have a great time!

3 – Celebrate Shepard

For some reason I always feel like Shepard’s birthday is somewhat overlooked. In September for Caden I’m always full of fresh energy and give him these awesome parties. In February, even though it’s almost two full months later, I still feel like I’m dragging from Christmas and can’t gather enough motivation to give it my all. This year is even weirder with being in Florida on his actual birthday. I’m thinking that maybe we’ll celebrate at home the night before we leave, giving him his presents then. In Florida we’ll be sure to make the day awesome. I’m pretty sure I’ve convinced him that we can go a year without a friend party because I don’t know when we’d fit it in. And I’ll throw a low key family party after we get back. He’s a pretty happy kid already, which is maybe why I don’t feel like I need to try as hard as I do for Caden. But I want to make sure he still feels special, even though it’s going to be such an odd  year.

4 – Get the boys haircuts

Greg has been giving the boys buzz cuts for maybe about five years now. It’s fine, it works, they just put up huge fights about it. But now Caden insists that he wants his hair longer and it seriously looks AWFUL right now. His hair grows so fast and it sticks up in a million directions and does not look cute AT ALL. So I’ve convinced Greg that this month – because I want them looking their best in all the Florida photos – they can go to a real salon to get real haircuts. They’re both already fighting this idea too, but I’m going to insist.

5 – Don’t forget about Valentine’s Day

I always like to make Valentine’s Day (and all minor holidays) special. But when I look at my totally full calendar I already know it’s probably going to pass by pretty quietly as we’re madly getting ready for Florida two days later. I’m not sure if Greg and I can swing a date night in those days between the two vacations, but I want to for sure make the actual holiday sweet and fun at home.

6 – Re-read 2 favorite books

I always want to re-read my books, but never give myself the chance. This month I have full permission to read some of my all time favorites again. I’ll definitely be reading The Hating Game and there are a few others I’m debating over.

7 – Have a romance filled reading month

I’ve recently started reading for the season and February is all about romance! If I get sick of it then I’ll obviously change to something new – I’m always a mood reader. But I’d like to mostly read love stories and upbeat happy things in this month.

8 – Prioritize at least a few minutes of self care every day

This year is off to a pretty bad start as a whole. But when it comes to my day to day stuff, I think I’ve been pretty balanced so far. I want to keep that up! I don’t have any lofty ambitions about kick starting a big exercise routine or anything, but I want to start taking better care of myself this month – physically and mentally. Go for walks when the weather is mild. Beg a friend to spend an hour with me here or there. Read when I need a break. Connect more with my kids. Eat healthier snacks. All the good stuff.

I guess I actually did come up with a lot of goals, but I think they’re achievable. February is going to be a great month!

January 2019 Goals

Happy new year!

Is everyone as THRILLED to go back to school and work tomorrow as I am?! These last couple of days have seriously just sucked the life out of me. I think because we were so jam packed busy the first half of winter break, we’ve been ridiculously lazy and unmotivated the second half. I’ve resigned myself to only wearing pajamas because getting dressed is too much work. I’ve been eating super crappy food because I haven’t had the energy to go to the store and buy fresh food to cook with. I’ve been laying in bed for hours every afternoon because I don’t want to face any people or responsibilities, and then I wonder why I can’t fall asleep at night. I haven’t been getting any exercise and I haven’t been giving Annie any exercise, and I feel like I’m about to lose my mind with the constant noise of video games and annoying youtubers. I miss walking (no chance for awhile after the ice that showed up last night), I miss quiet, I miss listening to my podcasts and watching my tv shows during the day, I miss only having to make a meal for myself, I miss working, and did I say yet that I miss QUIET? Tomorrow is going to be awesome.

Anyway! Our New Year’s Eve celebration was really lame and barely worth mentioning. I got too tired to make the meal I planned on, so we had chicken nuggets and jalapeno popper dip for dinner, with giant cookies for dessert that nobody wanted  to eat because I mistakenly believed my family preferred crunchier cookies since they complain every time I make softer ones… I drank too much sparkling juice and felt painfully full, so I never opened up the wine I’ve had waiting in the fridge for at least four months when a celebratory alcohol needing moment might pop up. Greg was in a bad mood from the get go because there was a huge dump of heavy snow that took way too much time and energy to shovel away. I was in a bad mood because I was so strung out from being surrounded by loud and obnoxious noises the last twelve hours (plus eleven days). We settled in and watched the movie Mowgli with the boys and sent them to bed at ten. And we finished the year watching Bird Box. Both movies were way too stressful and angsty to pair with the moods we were all currently in to begin with. It’s the first year in ages that I actually stayed up until midnight, but I probably would have been better off just going to bed when the boys did. Lame city, you guys.

So I’m really excited to jump into January! Fresh starts and all that jazz. I’ve been pretty lax with my productivity in the last month, so it’s time to take a deep breath and tackle some big goals. Ideally I think I’d like to stick with about three accomplishable goals a month so I can readily have them on my mind with every decision I make. But I’m going to go a bit above and beyond this month and flat out expect more from myself. We’ll see how it goes.

1 – No excess spending

This is the biggest one. After six weeks of crazy present buying and being way too indulgent with picking up things for myself, I need a bit of a detox. My plan is to avoid all online shopping – not even any looking. No new books, coffee, clothes, snacks, or treats. The only things I’m allowed to buy are perishable foods and household items we absolutely can’t live without – like cat food, which is just about gone. But I’d also like to get more creative with a lot of the random food we have stored in the basement and figure out ways to use it before buying anything else. My only exceptions to this rule is if I find birthday presents for my mom and Shepard (the February birthdays), and if I find an awesome Valentine mug. Since I decided to have rotating seasonal mug collections, I’ve been itching to find one or two great Valentine choices. So if I happen to see one in one of the few stores I’m allowing myself to walk in this month, I have permission to buy it. 🙂 Everything else? Off limits.

2 – Lose 3 or more pounds by the 30th

I have my next doctor’s appointment on the 30th to recheck my liver levels and blood pressure and everything. I was doing so great for about two months, and this last week just totally let go again. My original goal for this appointment was to lose 10 lbs since my appointment at the end of October. I’ve been hovering at the 10 or 11 pound mark for the last month. I want to get a lot more strict with myself and push for at least 3 more pounds and obviously still a lot more after that.

3 – No fast food

I think going without fast food in November was really helpful to resetting my system. I didn’t go overboard in December, but I did stop for food three or four times simply because I was really hungry and that was easy. Really, going hand in hand with my no spending, I’m just not going to allow myself to eat anywhere unless it’s using one of my gift cards (Chipotle or Qdoba!), or on a date. Dates get a free pass for any kind of food.

4 – Make 20+ Valentine dolls

Valentine’s Day is one of my biggest holidays for sales. I think because I usually take most of December off and then I’m freshly motivated and start pumping out pink and red dolls in January, everyone is itching to buy them. I’ve picked up a lot of new fabric in the last few weeks and I’m really excited to start creating again. But hopefully only in small batches so I don’t overwhelm myself and get burned out. I think making 20 should be relatively easy, though. It’s a pretty quiet month. (so far!)

5 – Read 4 books from my shelves

In my new bullet journal I wrote out all the books I own that I haven’t yet read. Want to know the number? Probably not, lol. 113. And there are three smaller areas of my house where I didn’t even count those books. So, I have a lot of books to read! One of my favorite hobbies is researching new books and getting excited about all the possibilities. As I was organizing my shelves and writing down all those titles yesterday, I was so excited about the books I already have. I genuinely want to read a lot more of them this year, even though the majority of them are nonfiction.

6 – Have a great anniversary getaway

Desperate to get something on the calendar for just the two of us and not ready to plan an actual anniversary vacation in May yet, I found a really great looking hotel through Groupon and booked us a night in mid January to celebrate our 19th year of being together. I think it’ll be really great to have two full days to ourselves.

7 – Spend time with friends

I’m hoping this will happen! When a bunch of us got together a few weeks ago on two separate lunch occasions, we all made a point of wanting to do that more often. I already set up a craft night and plan to get back into hosting those as well. And I’m trying to get together with one of my friends who moved away. I don’t want the months to keep passing by with no girl time on the calendar. I’m going to make it happen!

I think that’s enough to keep me busy this month! Happy January, everyone!

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

I recently discovered that instead of writing straightforward lists of resolutions and goals for the year, some people chose to write out what they’re looking forward to in the new year instead. It’s still a way to get your greatest hopes and dreams for yourself out in the universe, but you’re writing them as something to look forward to instead of something you have to do to make your life better. I loved this idea and became a lot more excited thinking about 2019 in these terms. I still fully plan on giving myself smaller accomplishable goals at the beginning of every month to truly focus my time and energy, but for the year as a whole I’m really liking this format instead!

In 2019, I am looking forward to…

1 – Becoming a healthier and more energetic human being.

I’m going to use what I’ve learned in the last two months and continue to take better care of myself. I’m going to go back to only eating the foods that I know will make me feel good and avoiding things like fast food which I know will make me feel bloated and gross the rest of the day. I’ll walk Annie as often as I can and find exercise videos to do in the house when I’m too freaked out to risk slipping on ice if I go outside. I’m going to continue to take my internal health into consideration with many of my choices because that’s what has a greater influence on my motivation than the number on the scale or the way my clothes fit.

2 – Having a better work-life balance.

I think a lot of my work frustration in the last few years is that I expected to be able to just jump into making this a full time job now that my kids are in school all day. I need to – and I WILL – accept that I only have a part time job slot in my life right now. And THAT’S OKAY. The internal war has been waging for years on what I should be giving the most of my time to and no matter what option I choose, it feels like the wrong one. This year I am going to give myself grace and remember that sewing dolls is not the most important thing in my life. People matter more. Life happens. I still want work to be part of my life – but only PART. I’d like to strive for only working 20-30 hours a week with as few nights and weekends as possible. I’d like to prioritize my family and friends if I’m in a busy season where that truly matters more. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it or start worrying what other people think of me. I believe I can have the best of both worlds and this is the year I’m going to figure out how to do it.

3 – Going on vacations!

I’m excited about going on some fun and much needed vacations this year. Greg and I have a one night getaway scheduled in a few weeks to celebrate 19 years of being together. In early February we’re going to Nebraska to see Guster play with the Omaha Symphony. We may or may not bring the boys, but either way we’ll be staying with my brother and spending some time with Hudson too (as long as the weather holds out!). In the middle of February we’re all going Florida to see Universal and Harry Potter World with Greg’s parents, which should be an awesome family vacation. In August I have tickets to Book Bonanza, which will bring me to Texas for the first time. I’m hoping we can take an actual three or more night vacation somewhere new and special for our 13 year marriage anniversary in May or June. Greg has been talking about wanting to take one or both boys to San Francisco, so if that happens I’ll either do something special with the remaining kid or have one heck of a staycation by myself! We’re hopefully going to have a really full year of getting away and making some amazing memories.

4 – Reading all the books and tracking them closely.

Reading is and forever will be a huge part of my life. But it still deserves a big spot on what I’m looking forward to in the new year! I’m hoping that maybe audiobooks will eventually win me over and might start replacing some of my tv time. I think I could be much more productive sewing that way since I don’t need to constantly be looking at a screen! But I also have to get better at paying attention with my ears. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading MANY of the physical books I have on my shelves. I’ve re-fallen in love with physical books and may have gone a bit crazy buying them in the last six or so months. Now I need to read them! I’m also looking forward to tracking them much more closely on the Book Riot tracking spreadsheet, as well as continuing to track on my own spreadsheet and Goodreads and writing about them every month.

5 – Really just tracking all the things!

I’ve used a bullet journal for most of the past year and it’s been an awesome way to keep track of my daily to do lists, meal plans, work hours, gratitude lists, etc. This year I’m planning to take things a step further and track things like how much money we save, how much weight I lose, the dates we’ve been on, the books I’ve read from my shelves, as well as all my usual stuff – tv, podcasts, movies, happiness levels, etc. I want my bullet journal to basically be the one thing I can’t go a single day without sitting down in front of and writing in. Not because I have to, but because I love it so much.

6 – Writing more and reformatting my website so it’s more accessible.

I really do love to write! This year I’ve found the most joy in writing recaps and intentions and lists of things I’ve consumed each month, with books being my favorite. I feel like most of the stuff I write about is really personal and is probably much more interesting to me than anyone who happens to read it. And I’ve been okay with that. But I would like to try just a tiny bit harder at growing my readership. I will be more active on instagram to promote my posts, plus just more about my everyday life. And I’ll figure out how in the world to reformat my website so posts of similar content can be grouped together and easier to find. I have no clue how to go about doing that, but I will learn!

7 – Reenergizing my relationships.

Mostly with Greg. But also with friends. And maybe with Greg AS my friend and not just my parenting partner, which is sometimes what it feels like. I want to make monthly OUT OF THE HOUSE date nights a real and exciting thing that I cherish and look forward to more than anything else in the month. I want to kiss more and laugh more and find things to do together that we both enjoy besides just watching tv every night. I love watching tv together, but I think we need something more. I also look forward to spending more time with my friends and maybe making some new friends! This last year has been so weird with me being locked away in the house for so many months and everyone just being “too busy.” Well, guess what? If it’s important, we will make time. And I’ll start taking the initiative again to make sure those things happen.

8 – Using my cookbooks and making actual meal plans on a weekly basis.

I adore cookbooks. I have a ton of them. But when it comes to making my meals I always just look to pinterest because it’s fast and easy and convenient. But my cookbooks are overflowing with amazing inspiration and new ideas and foods that will bring us all joy and excitement. I plan to start with just picking one cookbook at a time and finding 2-3 meals I want to make from it in the next week or two. Nothing crazy or elaborate or stressful. Just take the five minutes it requires to open a book and find something fresh to make. It will be so worth it.

9 – Having one massive, mega, crazy garage sale and then donating whatever is left.

Our garage is overflowing with items that didn’t sell at our last garage sale, two years ago. I fully planned on having one last summer, but then didn’t feel up to it with my lack of walking abilities. This summer, hopefully right in early June, it will happen! And when it’s over I’m not going to save everything for some future sale. This is it. I want it all gone. It’s going to feel AMAZING to get rid of all those boxes of things we no longer need. It’d be great to make a little money in the process, but really – I just want it all gone.

10 – Learn how to be good at hand lettering. 

I usually have some hobbies at the back of my mind that I never seem to get to. This year the only thing I can think of are these two new hand lettering books and brush markers I got for Christmas. I would like to go through each of those books carefully, practice, and become pretty awesome at writing things out fancy and cool. I have no real purpose for this other than my bullet journal and my own enjoyment, but it’ll be worth it!

I think it’s safe to say that 10 is enough! I truly think that 2019 is going to be an amazing year. Happy new year, everyone!

Reflections on 2018

2018 was pretty much a year I would like to forget. Reflecting back, there’s really not a whole lot of joyous events that can redeem for all the sucky health related things that happened this past year. The whole year was just plain HARD. But I also think I learned a lot about myself and was able to come out ahead, despite all the trials I had to face.

January did get off to a good start with a lot of fresh enthusiasm for exercise and taking better care of myself. I did a 30 day yoga challenge and if I remember correctly, I only missed one day – if that. I was so proud of myself for following through on something that was really tough for me. I was also doing a lot of walking outside every chance I could. I was on track for really changing my habits around and getting in better shape. And then that awful day at the end of February went and ruined everything.

The day I slipped on that invisible bit of ice and broke my ankle in three places and severely sprained it enough to probably ruin my tendons forever was the worst day of my life. The proceeding surgery and months and months of recovery were a nightmare. The pain alone was horrific, but there was also so much stress and frustration and depression that came along with suddenly not being able to do ANYTHING for myself. There were weeks of slowly crawling across the entire house in blinding pain so I could shower and have one tiny bit of normalcy. Not that that was normal either since I had to wear a bag on my leg that cut off my circulation the entire time I had it on and I needed Greg’s help with everything. I lost control over what foods I could put in my body, what things needed to be shopped for, my ability to take care of my kids or Annie, and I felt completely useless, and worthless. You’d think with some forced down time I could have gotten some reading or rest in, but the pain was so bad and my concentration was completely shot. I was so angry and depressed all the time. I felt like I lost a lot of my friends, or at least the depth of our friendship. (Though the entire situation also showed me who my truest friends were, for which I am grateful.) When Greg had to go back to work I was suddenly on my own with a crazy hyped up dog that I couldn’t do anything for, even if she was practically attacking me because she desperately needed to go to the bathroom. The recovery was so much harder than I ever would have expected. Even now, 10 months later, I’d say my ankle is only at about 60% what it used to be, and the doctor told me that it might not get any better. That’s a sucky diagnoses at age 34.

On top of all my ankle stuff, which really just felt like what the entire year was all about, Greg was also going through some things and had to have surgery in August. It went fine, but he had to suffer through months of pain before the hospital could get around to putting him on the schedule. That definitely didn’t add any joy to our summer.

At the end of summer I was officially diagnosed with high blood pressure and was put on medication. A month later after a bunch of blood tests and an ultrasound, I was also diagnosed with mild fatty liver, which is basically an irreversible condition that happens when you’ve just spent thirty years not taking very good care of yourself. Both things were a huge wake up call that I think I really needed to finally make some changes in my diet. Both conditions would also really be helped with more exercise, but my ankle is still making that quite difficult, especially at this time of the year when I’m scared to death to walk outside for any reason if there’s even the tiniest possibility I might slip on snow or ice.

And to just add to everything else, I’ve also had an infected toe on my left foot for the last nine months. I was on three rounds of antibiotics that didn’t do a thing to help it. Finally, now, it’s just about back to normal.

We also finished up this year with both Shepard and Greg needing glasses. We are just on a roll with health crap. The good news, maybe??? We used up our massive deductible after my surgery at the end of February, so everything else the rest of the year has been “free.” But we also had to spend most of the year paying that deductible off which didn’t leave a lot of extra for vacations or fun.

Speaking of vacations, I did have to cancel my original spring trip I had planned to DC in April because of my ankle break. Originally the physician’s assistant told me that I should probably be okay to still take the trip, which in hindsight was absolutely ridiculous since I still couldn’t even walk without crutches until over a month after that trip would have happened! Fortunately, I was able to go in October and despite some lingering pain, I was able to enjoy it.

We weren’t able to have a big anniversary trip this year, but Greg and I did spend one night away at the end of May to celebrate 12 years together. Honestly, I was still in so much pain from trying to walk that I really don’t remember any of it.

In August, I was feeling well enough to go ahead with the trip I had planned to Minnesota to see my favorite author, Colleen Hoover, at a book signing. I spent two days going to basically every TJMaxx and Marshall’s in the Twin Cities. 🙂 Then I drove down and met Greg and the boys in La Crosse for two more nights. That trip was overshadowed by the bedbug Greg found the first morning we were there. That was the first of not one, not two, but THREE bedbug scares/issues we had in three months. For the record, we never had any bedbugs in our actual house and the third issue turned out not to be bedbugs at all. But all three incidents were enough to make us wary of going to hotels ever again.

In September I was able to go on another little trip by myself to Chicago to see my favorite podcast, The Popcast, live. Greg’s sister joined me for the show which was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that trip even more because I happened to come across an amazing vintage market on my drive down. I’m planning to go to that market annually, it was SO amazing. I finished up the month going to Cranberry Fest with my parents as usual. Though between my ankle and my mom’s hip, it was a bit more of a subdued adventure than usual.

One of the saddest things that happened this year is that my brother and his family decided to move to Nebraska for new jobs. It came as an incredible shock after the rest of the family made the wrong assumption that they were in Wisconsin to stay after they just moved back a year earlier. We’ve still been able to see Hudson about every two months or so, but it’s really sad we can’t all be more actively involved in each other’s lives the way we thought we were going to be when we were given that new (and only!) nephew/cousin.

In Heartstring Annie related news, despite being out of commission for a month or two after breaking my ankle, plus taking almost all of October and December off for more personal time, it’s been my biggest year for sales. I made 224 sales and sold 297 dolls. Plus all the dolls I made that didn’t sell, and dolls I made for gifts and giveaways. That’s a lot! It kind of surprises me, especially at the moment when I haven’t had a single sale in over three weeks. This year has really proven to me that the more I put into it, the more sales I will make. I have a big enough following now that when I make something new, it almost surely sells right away. I got a lot more creative this summer and pushed outside the traditional Raggedy Ann boundaries. It was really fun to follow my more artistic side instead of constantly letting “what people want” force my creative path. I’ve definitely had some serious ups and downs trying to decide if sewing dolls is really what I want to do with my life, but after a month of trying to let myself focus a lot more on writing – my other favorite careerish prospect – I realized that I really do like making dolls for money and keeping the writing as a hobby. So for now, that’s what I’m going to keep doing!

I do think that in the midsts of all our trials, Greg and I have become closer this year. I never could have gotten through those horrible months without him. Without a single complaint he took on full time parenting and dog caring all while still working his full time job and doing everything around the house and out of it. He was truly amazing. I don’t think I would have lasted a week if our situations had been reversed. I don’t believe caretaking is in my genetic code! We definitely still have plenty of ups and downs. It’s really hard to stay connected in this stage of parenting when our kids still need us and want us (mostly him) and our attention constantly. We’ve also gotten a lot busier this year. But he is an amazing partner in life and incredible dad and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. We’ve been trying to make date nights out of the house a more regular thing again and I look forward to prioritizing our marriage more in the coming year.

I think Caden has grown a lot this year as well. We still struggle – a lot. I might regret saying this, but I truly think he’s gotten better in the last few months. He’s becoming more mature. He’s also had to take on more responsibility, walking Shepard home from school when I couldn’t last spring. It worked out so well and I started feeling like it was such a waste of my time  to go myself that he picks Shepard up every day after school this year too. We continue to get raving reports from his teacher about how amazing he is in class – so helpful and smart and patient with his classmates. I still think he’s using up all that patience and helpfulness while he’s at school and saving very little for at home with his us, but…it’s okay. He’s getting there. I’ve been very proud of him lately, especially over the holidays when he’s usually at his worst. He’s really been great this Christmas.

Shepard continues to surprise me in how helpful he can be when he wants to be. He usually makes breakfast for both him and Caden every morning. For the kid who took seven years to fully potty train, it still comes as a surprise when he’ll just randomly start doing things that seem so beyond his years. Or at least things that are beyond Caden’s limited capabilities – usually in the kitchen. He has such a curious and silly spirit and is always up for new things and helping people with projects. Ask him to read for ten minutes or clean his room, though – NOT going to happen. His crazy stubborn streak is still very much alive and well!

And things continue to be well with my sweet babes. Jack and Rory turned 13 in April and are still healthy and well. Jack is starting to have some issues, but nothing decisive yet – he just drinks a ton of water and goes through a massive amount of litter. Both cats are pretty grumpy with each other and Annie, but love being around the four of us more than ever. And my beautiful Annie is happy and wild and still lives for the chance to play with other dogs at the dog park. Despite those rough few months (in which a few friends did help me out by bringing her out to play a few times a week), I think all three of the pets have had a really good year!

So looking back on the year, it was not as bad as it could have been, that’s for sure. I do think I grew as a person and I think I needed those internal health scares to really get me thinking about what I need to change to live a long and prosperous life. I can’t think of any ways that breaking my ankle helped me out. That just sucked. But it is what it is and I just have to keep working and hope it gets better. I’m glad to see this year come to a close, though. I think 2019 will be a much more exciting and joyous year and I can’t wait for it to begin!

December 2018 Goals

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with goals for December. I like my monthly goals to be measurable so I can look back and clearly see if I met them or not. But measurable in December feels overwhelming and like way too much pressure. My general attitude for December is to slow down and be open to enjoying life in ways that I have a hard time with in any other season. So even though it might be tough to decide if said goals have been accomplished, I’m going to structure my intentions for the month around them anyway.

1. Keep making healthy choices (DO NOT GIVE UP)

I was doing so great with this for about a month. Then Thanksgiving happened. And a lot of Thanksgiving pie leftovers. And a birthday party filled with delightful foods I’d been denying myself all month. And then I started buying awesome unique Christmasy treats and sampling them as they arrive. Then I started eating a dessert – or two – every day. Then the processed foods started creeping back in. Then the sidewalks got icy and my daily steps decreased by at least half every single day and I haven’t found anything to do in the house yet to supplement that regular exercise. In just over a week I’ve hit such a downward spiral and I’ve been losing so much motivation to stay strong and make the choices I KNOW will make me feel better. It doesn’t help that the rest of my family has become a group of nonstop grazers. They snack alllllll day long. I’m trying to put a stop to this and get them to actually eat more at meals, but it’s not working very well. So on weekends when we’re all home I feel very resentful of all their eating when I’m supposed to be saying no. My willpower has faded fast. But I don’t want to give up. My weight has pretty much plateaued the last two weeks. Which is better than going back up, but I still have a lot I’d like to lose. And really, I just want to FEEL good. So even though there are going to be tons of extra parties and treats and get togethers this month – which I’m definitely going to allow myself to indulge in if it feels worth it – I want to be making better choices all the rest of the time. Keep eating good breakfasts that fill me up. Keep making actual homemade lunches instead of waiting until I’m so hungry that I just grab a bag of something crappy. Stay away from the fast food. Try to limit the sugar. Find a way to exercise in the house. Basically, just stay on track and do not give up.

2. Prioritize people and memories

It’s well known that I have a very bad habit of putting my own agenda and to do lists above basically everything else. I want to be better this month. I’d like to be more emotionally available in the evenings and weekends when my family is home. One thing I’m doing to try to facilitate this is to have Twinkle, our elf, bring some family activities to do together every few days. Today he brought four small Christmas perler bead kits because I know we’ll have time tonight to all sit down and work on them together. I’ve also got some new board games, a holiday puzzle, and gingerbread houses in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to a nice date night with Greg this Friday and there might be time to squeeze in a mini date with each of the boys before the month is through. There’s also tons of opportunity for large family stuff around Christmas. I just want to be present and open to spending time with people and stop revolving my life and energy around things that genuinely don’t matter in the big scheme of things.

3. Be done with everything by December 16th (possibly the 12th)

I usually like to take most of the month off from sewing because there are lots of handmade things I want to do for gifts and get too stressed trying to do it all. Unfortunately, since I took basically all of October off from work, I’m still just so very far behind on doll making. I’m not sure how much more I can do in the next week and a half, but I’m going to try my best. But come December 16th – I’m done. I will officially be “on vacation” the last two weeks of the year. Ideally I would also like to get all Christmas prep done by the 12th. That’s the day I have my next ortho appointment and find out if I need a bone graft surgery before the year is out. I’m praying I won’t need the surgery at all because that would suck. But if I do need it, we’re hoping it happens before the 31st so the surgery will essentially be free since we used up all our deductible in February with my first surgery! I really do not want to start another year with a pile of medical bills. It’s incredibly stressful not knowing if this will happen until the 12th because it’s kind of a big deal and something that needs to be planned around! I’m just hoping to have absolutely all presents bought and wrapped by the 12th with a freezer full of easy meals just so we’re prepared for the worst case scenario.

4. Read. A lot!

December is basically my time for fluffy reading. I just want happy and sweet and uplifting books to fill my life. Most of the books are also relatively short, so I’m going to shoot for 12 books this month. It really doesn’t matter, but most months I read 9-11, so it’d be nice to have it be my biggest book month of the year, and also round out my total books for 2018 at 120. Basically, I just want to give myself permission to sit down and read and enjoy the decorations and candles and piles of blankets and pillows any time the mood strikes!

I think with all the potential uncertainty I’m facing right now, four intentions are enough to keep me busy and focused for the month! I’m sure the days are going to continue to fly by and I just want to make the most of them and feel like my time was well spent, precious memories were made, and I truly lived my LIFE to the fullest – focusing more on people and doing the things that make me happy instead of only thinking about what “needs” to be done.

Happy December!