A Quick Speed Through December

December has come and gone in such a whirlwind I’ve barely had time to enjoy it this year. I had so many plans to relax this year and enjoy every tiny moment of the Christmas season. It didn’t happen. πŸ™ In the first week I had the flu. The second week, Greg had the flu and I still did not feel good at all. The third week I was crazy stressed about getting presents done on time. And then it was Christmas. It was a busy and exhausting month with many, many late nights and far too little sleep. There were some highlights, though, so I want to skim through them before I write my next post on Christmas itself.


December first – the first day of Advent. After much debate I gave in and bought a Lego Advent calendar this year so the boys could each open a door every day, rather than always fighting over the one.


I also went to my goddaughter McKenna’s birthday party on the first. She’s so big already!


I gave her my very first playable Annie. She opened it and immediately hugged her. So sweet. πŸ™‚


Such a cutie!


December sixth was St. Nick’s Day. Twinkle our elf was pretty lazy this year. Most days he really just sat on various shelves. Occasionally he’d do something a little more exciting. πŸ™‚ I did St. Nick presents a little different this year by giving everyone a shared huge Lego set and individual candy for each person. I think that might be the new tradition.


On December 7th I took part in my very first craft fair! I signed up for this craft fair in June, right after I started Heartstring Annie and was desperate for customers. I then spent six months stressing over it and if I’d have enough inventory.


It was a very long day (still right after my flu, so I was exhausted to begin with!), but I made a few worthwhile sales. Overall it was a good experience, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again for awhile. I’d rather just sell online if I can and maybe once Shepard is in school full time I’ll think about doing more and bigger craft fairs.


A week later, we finally did one of those memorable family experiences I was hoping to be doing all month long. We put together a gingerbread train.


Greg was in charge of frosting…



The boys were taking their decorating very seriously!


The final train. I thought it turned out quite nicely for a two and five year old’s handiwork!


After the craft fair was over my goal for the rest of the month was to sew everyone a handmade gift for Christmas. It was fun to take a break from Annie’s and try out a lot of new things. These are the bags I made for all of Caden’s teachers.


Christmas mice for my mother-in-law. I’m in love with them.


Standing teddy bears for my mom and I. I’ve been admiring this pattern from Sweet Meadows Farm for months and finally decided to give it a try. I was hesitant since I needed to cut dowels, drill holes, and stain wood, but I think it was worth all the effort. So cute.


I made a few Annies for relatives, as well as trivets, mug rugs, tote bags, and book covers. Lots of new experiences!

I also took a day to make something for myself. These turned out SO cute.


Sometime around Thanksgiving I made a vow to go on a weekly date with Caden. And then something come up every time I planned on going out with him. Finally on the 17th we had our first date. We went to Chili’s for dinner and then Barnes and Noble so he could pick out a calendar. Despite his expression in this photo, I think he had a really good time. I hope once the holiday season dies down, we really can make this into a weekly tradition. Caden and I have such a rocky relationship at home and as soon as we leave the house together everything gets so much better.


Just a cute picture of my babe.


The 19th was Caden’s last day of school before Christmas and also his winter program. It was adorable to watch and he did so well! Last year he seemed kind of hesitant to get into the songs, but this year he was singing his heart out. πŸ™‚


At the end of the program, Santa appeared! We avoided Santa all month because Caden didn’t want to see him, but he went fairly willingly that day.


Then Shepard, who was scared to death of Santa last year, was all smiles and giggles.


One thing I totally slacked on this year was baking. I usually spend the entire month baking! Sewing has definitely changed my life in that regard. Finally, because I decided to make SOMETHING, I decided on three simple cookies. Shepard was my helper.


On the 20th, my best friend Dianne and her boyfriend Jack were in town for one night. She lives in DC, so I don’t get to see her very often, even though we talk almost daily. It was so nice to go on a nice date together downtown.


I love our annual Christmas dates in downtown Madison.
The 21st is my dad’s birthday, though we weren’t able to see him. Being a Fedex driver around Christmas is bad enough, but when your birthday is right around then too you’re too busy working to enjoy much. Shepard and I did make him some chocolate peanut butter cookies, though.
And finally, we had our first huge extended family Christmas party on the 21st. I didn’t take many pictures because it was super loud and chaotic, but we all had a nice time. Santa showed up there too and brought the boys each a change counting bank. A great idea, though it’s now made my children obsessed with money and given them yet another reason to fight, fight, fight. That seems to be all they ever do anymore. πŸ™
Anyway – that was December! It was quick! Christmas overview coming up next…





As this month of thankfulness nears its end, I wanted to take some time to focus on the people and things that I am most grateful for in my life.



I don’t know where I would be today without Greg’s unconditional love and support in our relationship. We’ve almost been together for half of our lives now, which always feels like such a blessing. Not many couples are able to go through so many growing phases together, and I’m so glad we got to be one of them. While marriage (and parenting!) can be tough at times, I know that Greg is by my side and going through it too. He’s the only one that can completely understand me and I love him for it. I am also thankful that Greg is a very hard worker and an amazing provider, allowing me to stay home for our boys’ early years. He’s also an incredible dad – better than I ever could have imagined. He is much more patient than me, much more rational, and he is always able to make me laugh.Β  I am so blessed to have Greg as my husband.



Oh, Caden. Though my relationship with him has been put through more trials than I can count over the years, especially most recently, I cannot imagine my life without him. He can be so sweet sometimes. He truly has a good heart and is only looking for confirmation of our love returned to him. He is incredibly smart – we’ve been told that so many times by people and of course seen it on our own too. I’m excited to see what his future holds and which direction he’ll take. Caden is also creative and generous. He loves to make gifts for other people, he loves helping me in the kitchen, and he shows interest in absolutely everything Greg and I ever do. He wants to be just like his Daddy with their love for video games, and he’s also excited to learn how to sew and bake with me. He never wants to be alone, which is very trying at times, but it’s better than having a child who wants nothing to do with us. Caden is a good big brother and as he starts to gain more confidence in himself, he’s becoming a good friend too. I love Caden so much and I am glad to have him as my first born son.


Β Shepard

Shepard is by far the burst of sunshine in my life. He keeps me laughing and reminds me how much fun simply being alive can be. While Greg, Caden, and I are very reserved in our expressions and emotions, Shepard is a refreshing breath of fresh air with his constant exclamations and joy. I can’t even tell you how many times a day he begins a sentence with “I love.” “I love snow, mom! I love these boots! I love this movie! I love Elmo!” It’s adorable, sweet, and kind of hilarious.Β  Shepard may only be two, but he’s open and affectionate in ways I never saw from Caden. He’s not perfect, believe me, but he brings so much happiness to everyone who knows him. I am thankful every day that I didn’t get that daughter I longed for and was instead blessed with this beautiful and entertaining little boy.


I am so thankful to live near and have such support from my parents and in-laws. It’s wonderful to know that they’re here for me, but even more great to know that they’re here for the boys. Grandparent relationships were a huge part of mine and Greg’s childhoods and I’m so glad that my children get to experience that too. It’s kind of nice that because they’re the only grandchildren on each side they get even extra attention (though I do REALLY hope they get cousins someday!). But back to our parents. They have taught us how to work hard and love deeply. They’ve taught us the importance of family above all else. And they’ve raised us to the be people we are to be and I am so grateful for them.


I am grateful for my brothers and sisters-in-law. Though distance now separates most of us, we will always have a shared past and common bond. I don’t always appreciate the relationships with my siblings the way that I should, but I’m still happy that they exist. I’m also thrilled that they love my children and take their roles as aunts and uncles seriously. It kind of helps that once again, they’re the only kids around, so they get a lot of extra love and attention. Caden and Shepard are always SO excited to see their aunts and uncles. I am so thankful that they are in our lives and I’m excited to spend extra time with most of them in the upcoming month.


Friendships are pretty hard for me, which makes my existing ones so much more important. I am particularly thankful for my best friend Dianne, who has been by my side since kindergarten. We haven’t lived by each other in years, but we talk on a daily basis and I don’t know what I would do without her. I’m also incredibly thankful for my friend Liz. We met at my wedding rehearsal when she accompanied the best man and stood in as my maid of honor for the rehearsed ceremony. We seemed to bond instantly and now that we live near each other again, we talk often and try to see each other when we can. Like I said before, it’s really hard for me to open up to people and develop actual friendships, but when it comes easy for me I know that I’ve gained a friend for life.


McKenna is my goddaughter and daughter of my longtime friend, Dana. Though I’ve only seen McKenna a handful of times in her year of life, I think of her often. Dana knew how much I wanted a daughter and that I’m never going to have one, so she gave me the gift of a goddaughter instead. I hope that as McKenna gets older we can develop a lasting bond and I’ll become as important to her as she currently is to me. I’m so thankful for her.


Heartstring Annie

I began Heartstring Annie a mere seven months ago, but it has given me a sense of worth that I didn’t even realize I so badly needed. I’ve always been a creative person, which has been expressed through various mediums throughout my life. I feel like I’ve finally found a passion that will last, though. I love making dolls and bears and bags. I feel so accomplished when I can turn a pile of fabric into something adorable, useful, and appreciated. This business has also given me a source of independence from the rest of my life, allowing me to be an individual instead of just a tired and run down mommy.Β  As I wade my way through the world of other primitive sewers and buyers, I’m developing friendships and building dreams for what I want to do in the future. Something that has been missing in my life since I had kids and refused to ever think of what would come next because the emptiness terrified me. Though my housework has seriously suffered since I began, I am so so grateful to have Heartstring Annie in my life.

I am blessed. πŸ™‚

Happy Thanksgiving!


Halloween Fun

Happy Halloween! Once again I planned on writing a bunch of smaller posts this week, but it’s been crazy busy and I’m once again doing a gigantic post. Sorry! Anyway – we started our Halloween fun off last weekend when the boys had a sleepover at grandma’s. Caden harvested his sunflower into a smiley face.


On Saturday morning a large group of us went to Waldvogel’s, a local farm filled with fall activities.


Getting tall!

On the “train.” It was FREEZING and so windy.


Shepard has hit the age where he does a lot more fake smiles than real ones. So sad. πŸ™


The gigantic tunnel slide.









Sweet little baby goat. I want to keep him.

The boys opted for cupcakes this trip. And then threw fits that they couldn’t get caramel apples after their cupcakes.


Sunday afternoon was trick-or-treating. We stopped at Grandma’s house first for treats.



Finally ready! These costumes were almost the death of me. I spent every single minute one entire weekend working on them – plus a few afternoons. I guess they turned out pretty well, though, except for the hem on Caden’s pants!




I like how even Juno has a cheesy smile in this picture.


The poor pig and bumblebee had to stay inside.


Trick or treating! The boys did really well. I was a little nervous when at the first house the lady gave Caden candy first and then Shepard yelled, “Give me candy too!”



Door to door service.



Their loot! And more fake smiles. I don’t think Shepard had a real smile all night. He seemed really tired and bothered by his mustache and went through everything in kind of a daze.


Loading up the bags again. Caden counted later and they had 193 pieces of candy.


On Monday night we finally got around to carving pumpkins. Caden was so proud of the face he colored on ahead of time.


And then Daddy sliced right through the face and by the time he was cutting he wore all the marker off!


They were not very enthusiastic about digging the guts out!


Caden very delicately scooped a couple of seeds out and then spent the rest of the time bossing us around to make sure we got all of them.


Scooping away.img_0682-pumpkin-family




It was a really nice night in the midst of a pretty difficult week.


Last night we had our official Halloween party, which I guess is now an annual tradition! Last year I didn’t make a ton of food and I went way overboard this year. It was great, though. Above is a chocolate graveyard dip I made to go with fruit.


Monster fingers. Or gorilla fingers.


Pumpkin seeds.


Frozen banana ghosts.


This was my favorite scary thing – eyeball punch! It was super easy too. Just buy a can of lychees, stuff them with blueberries and freeze. The punch itself is just a mix of 7up and Hawaiian Punch.



Spiderweb dips my mom made.


Dirt and worm cupcakes my mom made.


Witch hats and broomsticks my mom made.


Pizza bread snake. This was my favorite thing to eat! It was pizza dough combined with diced pepperoni, green peppers, garlic, and parmesan cheese and then stuffed with a ring of mozzarella cheese. So delicious.


Mummy hot dogs.


After we all stuffed ourselves, we built the Halloween puzzle together.


That’s a lot of people putting together a 100 piece puzzle!


And that’s it! It was a great Halloween!


My Birthday Celebrations

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

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

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

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

My mom made me a peanut butter chocolate cheesecake.

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

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

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

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

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

This one was my favorite. So simple and pretty!

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

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

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

Pumpkin tower for prize number two.

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

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

Shepard and I kept looking at the gigantic white ones.

Caden found his!


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

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

Showing off.

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

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

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

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

Caden took this one.

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

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

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

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

Shepard was too busy taking pictures to be in the official ones. πŸ™‚

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

Caden’s 5th Birthday

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

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

Quick to relax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All ready for school with his treats!

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

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

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

Caden is master of the fake smile.

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

Caden’s Party Weekend

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

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

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

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

These running trampoline things are always Shepard’s favorite.

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

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

Shepard’s other favorite thing.

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

The birthday boy!

Shepard was pretty proud of himself for helping Caden blow out the candle. πŸ™‚

A little bit scary, a lot messy!


We went back to the gym to open presents.

Shepard entertained us with dancing while we waited.

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

Shepard and Bronson are very curious about the presents!

Looking through the treat bags.

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

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

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

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

Present time!

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

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

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

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

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

Monster feet.

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

A voice changer. Kind of scary!

Still having fun with the helicopter.

Trying to scare Rory with it now.

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

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

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! I really wanted to write this post yesterday, but I just couldn’t force myself to stay up past 10:30 to work on it. It’s been a very exhausting weekend! It’s been a very exhausting month, actually. I’ve been really busy working on something which I will (hopefully) announce later today. πŸ™‚

Anyway! Mother’s Day – it was really nice this year. Very low key and relaxing. I really enjoyed being able to just spend time with my family at our homes, just hanging out.

Because we were out late on Saturday night the boys actually slept until almost 8:00 – a miracle! (Except that they also appear to be sleeping in that late today, when Caden needs to be at school at 8:00 – not fair!) I wanted to have a delicious, but very easy breakfast, so I picked up a bunch of fancy donuts and pastries at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Of course I ate two of those pastries before I ever got home! But I definitely enjoyed my chocolate croissant on Mother’s Day.

I got the boys gigantic sprinkled donuts, which Greg made them split. Good stuff, though. I pretty much ate carbs and only carbs all weekend. And then I looked at these pictures last night and realized I seriously need to lose some weight! So this was my last hoorah.

FYI, when you’re about to have tons of pictures taken of you, you should probably put on some makeup. Oh well. Here are my babies giving me my special presents.

Caden and Daddy made me a button picture of Caden and I holding hands!! I thought it was pretty funny when I opened it – I can’t believe Greg sewed something! Who knew. It was very sweet and I’ll treasure it forever. πŸ™‚

The card Caden made me with a small, medium, and large real life looking hearts.

Shepard’s cards for me. He was in quite the silly photogenic mood yesterday.

Button picture from Shepard!

Shepard is quite excited about this!

I got a pink shelf that I really wanted to hang near my sewing area. I’m slowly pulling it all together.

And a sun umbrella so I can spend more time outside without getting cranky. πŸ™‚ I know most of the world does not agree with my feelings, but I seriously HATE being out in the hot sun with no relief. Summer weather is my least favorite. I hate being hot. Hopefully with this portable shade I’ll feel more inclined to go out!

And a candle (that came with the shelf) that the boys spent ten minutes passing back and forth and smelling.

There we go – ready for the day and looking a little better! πŸ™‚ Time for my annual mother sons photo shoot. It was too cold to do it outside this year. Stupid Wisconsin weather only knows how to be super cold or super hot. We hardly ever have those perfect in between days anymore.

We went to my in-law’s house for brunch. The boys had to have some piano time. 
The mothers and (young) children sitting together. 
I got a San Francisco tour guide book so I can start planning for our vacation in August!
And a Raggedy Ann book! My sister-in-law also gave me a really pretty pot filled with plants. Hopefully I can keep them alive! Every year I say I’m going to do better, and I’m pretty sure every year I do worse. 
Typical sight! Caden managed to slyly fit in a lot of screen time this Mother’s Day!
After digging through all of my mother-in-law’s craft supplies and taking a bunch of things, we headed over to my parents’ for the rest of the night. I gave both grandmas an Annie and Caden and Shepard Andy set. And both aunts/godmothers got an Annie and respective child set. Fun times!
So I’ve been sick all week. It started with a weird cold and turned into a major cough. It’s worst at night and I’ve barely been getting any sleep. Pretty sure I’m keeping Greg up too. Anyway, we got there yesterday and my mom immediately made me some tea. Why did I never once think about that all week?? Moms definitely come in handy!!
Time for a photo shoot here too. Gracie insisted on being in all the pictures too.
Grandma with all her daughters and grandsons. These dogs NEVER leave her side. 
Grandma kisses.
I decided to make nice with my mom’s cat, Oscar. He usually hides the second the boys walk in the house, but he let me pet him for a long time yesterday. I tried to get pictures with my kitties earlier in the day, but apparently even though they want to be on my lap every possible second, they do NOT like to be photographed there.
And finally back home with two last pictures from the boys. It was a very nice day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms, grandmas, aunts, godmothers, sisters, and daughters out there!

Easter Week

Well, I was hoping to do an Easter post right after Easter. But it turned out to be a disastrous week and I haven’t had the energy to write until now. I’m over a week behind, so I guess I’ll just include everything from the past week instead of doing a bunch of separate posts as planned.

Easter. Ugh, Easter was a disappointment. In the middle of the night the Friday before, Caden woke up with the flu. Seriously, why do people always get sick in the middle of the night? And why when one person in a family gets the flu does everybody else HAVE to get it too?? I knew right away there was pretty much no way all four of us were going to be healthy on Easter. As it turned out, both Shepard and I got hit pretty hard late on Saturday night. It wasn’t pretty.

I always feel so bad when Shepard gets sick because he gets hit hard and it always lasts so long. He’s usually a pretty good tempered kid, but you could tell he was really miserable this time around. Fortunately, everyone at least felt well enough to hunt for eggs around the house on Easter morning.

Caden has been so obsessed with numbers and counting things lately. He kept lining up his candy by type and counting them over and over again. It reminds me a lot of how I used to be at holidays!

Jack, who usually steers pretty clear of the boys, was trying his best to cheer Shepard up. It was pretty cute. πŸ™‚

After the egg hunt in the morning I don’t have much else to say about Easter! Greg still felt fine and Caden was feeling better, so they headed off to Greg’s parents’ for Easter lunch. I think Caden had a lot of fun getting all the attention to himself! Shepard and I spent the entire day laying on the couch watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

On Monday, Greg was sick. I don’t even remember the specifics of each day anymore, but Shepard threw up many more times during the week. I still don’t feel totally back to normal. Caden got sick again at some point. Everybody that came near any of us during the weekend got some version of the flu too. We were all extremely cranky and exhausted all week and it was NOT fun.

Wednesday was Jack and Rory’s 8th birthday. I can’t believe we’ve had our cats for eight years already! I wasn’t really feeling up to preparing a big celebration like we had last year, but I did manage to throw some presents together for them.

Angel food cake with fresh strawberry sauce. The cake was so delicious! I actually made a second cake the next day it was so good!

Yesterday we had an Easter redo with my family. It actually worked out a lot better this way because my brother and sister-in-law weren’t able to come last week anyway. This Sunday we were all feeling better and the entire family could be together. It was our last time together before my brother and sister-in-law move to California. Bittersweet, but good to be together.

The boys got a new water table to play with at Grandma’s. I bought them these cute matching shirts for Easter and this is the only picture I got of the two of them together!

At least Greg and I were able to get a nice picture together! We don’t get many of those these days.

I’d just like to point out that we match because GREG picked his shirt to go with my dress. He’s learned well. πŸ™‚

It was decided pretty quickly that they were better off playing with a water table without their clothes on! They always prefer to be in their underwear anyway. No matter how cold it is.

Opening our Easter baskets from Grandma. Shepard got Ditty Kong, Caden Bowzer, and Greg Princess Peach – that completes their collection of Mario related stuffed animals.

Always a dog around trying to sneak some food!

Poor Shepard is at such a disadvantage in the egg hunts being so short!

He learned how to get help. πŸ™‚

Time for some relaxing with Uncle Tyler.

It was still pretty cold out, but everyone played outside for most of the afternoon. Shepard was thrilled to get back in the sandbox!

Juno was being very antisocial because she thought someone was going to steal her bone.

Caden’s idea of playing ball is just laying on top of it so nobody else can touch it.

Shepard throwing a tantrum. He’s gotten very good at it this past week. 
I’m still bummed that I missed out on real Easter and I’m trying to forget how horrible of a week it was. At least we were able to end it with a nice family get together. Hopefully with the start of spring (maybe?!) our illnesses will come to an end. I think Shepard has had five or six flus this winter (plus multiple colds and ear infections) and we are sick of it! 
Happy (belated) Easter!

Shepard’s Birthday Party!

Today was Shepard’s birthday party! I’m so glad we unknowingly didn’t do it last weekend when he turned out to be so sick. We found out on Thursday that he actually has a really bad double ear infection, but after a couple days of antibiotics he was back to his super smiley and fun self for his party today!

We had a tractor themed party. I made tacos for the main food and then my mother-in-law made this awesome vegetable “field” and my mom brought tons of delicious fruit. As usual, we had WAY more food than we needed. It was all so good, though!!

Caden decided to help make the punch by sneaking fingerfuls of sherbet.

I was really excited to find these chocolate rocks and green seeds for party favors. I forgot to actually tell people to bring them home, though, so now we have a huge bag filled with the extras. πŸ™‚

Happy kid!

Taking a reading break.

The present pile!

Shepard shows excitement over everything, which is why it’s so fun to watch him all the time. He was thrilled over his first few pieces of tissue paper!

Tractor! (And both cats managing to sneak into the photo.)

He doesn’t even know what this is, but he’s pretty excited about it!

Getting some help from Liz.

He even holds up all the clothes he gets. Later he held up a new pajama shirt, pronounced it too big, and threw it across the room. Always, so funny. πŸ™‚

Cards that make music are apparently the greatest thing on earth to a two year old.

Very excited about a trailer to attach to his new tractor!

He loved his new Donkey Kong.

Baby Ethan and his beautiful eyes!

We all had some good laughs over this. πŸ™‚

Shepard was pretty nervous, but after Caden and Donkey Kong had a turn, Shepard loved jumping on his new Rody Horse!

Caden definitely provided Ethan with some fantastic entertainment!

Finally time for cake!

I had a really hard time coming up with a cake idea for this theme. It seems like with all of Caden’s birthday parties I know exactly what I want to do, but Shepard so far is proving to be quite difficult. I wanted to try and do something tastier (versus visual). I’m not a huge cake person (maker or eater), so I wanted to challenge myself a bit. I ended up combining old fashioned chocolate cake, peanut butter cake, toasted marshmallow frosting, and chocolate malt frosting all together to get this. And then because I didn’t want to make a third batch of chocolate malt frosting, I threw together a vanilla buttercream for the smaller cake. I was very excited about how the layers turned out. Not perfect, but more elaborate than I’ve ever done before!

I think he’s getting tired.

Layers in the bigger cake. This chocolate frosting was sooo good. I pretty much ate an entire bowl of it last night while I was making it.

The big “rocks” around the cake are actually chocolate boulders. Grandma tasted one – and Shepard’s expression in this is hilarious!

The chocolate frosting had an entire container of black gel food coloring in it so it turned everyone’s teeth black. I think this picture is sweet, though. Caden looks so old! Like a ten year old or something. My baby is growing up.

Not an attractive picture, but still funny. It was a perfect birthday party! Thanks to everyone that helped out and came and made it such a special day for our beautiful little boy!

Shepard’s 2nd Birthday

Today is my baby’s second birthday. Two years doesn’t seem like a very long time, but I can barely remember what life was like without him in our lives. Every day he brings us so much laughter and joy. He’s truly the brightest part of our family and I can’t imagine where we’d be without him. I love this little boy more than anything. 

Despite all my good intentions, the big day was kind of a waste. Shepard has been sick since Valentine’s Day and it only seems to be getting worse. He’s not throwing up anymore, but he has a horrible hacking cough and his nose and eyes are just draining nonstop. He’s been pretty miserable. But he pulled himself together today and smiled through it all. He was even happy about his donut breakfast, even though he didn’t take a single bite.

Mornings seem to be the worst. He just wants me to hold him and do nothing else. Which was kind of hard today when we needed to get ready and bring Caden to school. Poor baby, he looks so sad. πŸ™

While Caden was at school he decided he wanted a waffle. He always has to sit there while it’s toasting and get the cinnamon sugar out himself.

Back to his donut and being goofy. Even this sick he can still be funny.

The bulk of our day was uneventful. I wanted to bring him to an indoor playground, but he was coughing too much. I wanted to take him out to lunch, but I figured he wouldn’t even eat anything. Hopefully later this week or even next week we can have sort of a redo birthday celebration. Today was very boring. Shepard was really excited when Greg got home, though, because he knew he could finally open his presents!

All day long Caden was talking about how Shepard was going to be too sick to open his presents so he’d have to “help.” I think Caden was pretty disappointed Shepard happily opened them all on his own.

Shepard was enthralled with this light up, music playing card from his Great Aunt Sandy.

Caden gave Shepard a sticker book and stickers. And one of those popular turtle nightlights. Which he’s been trying to take for himself ever since the box was opened. Caden wasn’t handling all the attention on Shepard very well today.


I bought him this baby and stroller for $3 on clearance. He loved it! So did Caden…

He wanted an orange while I was making dinner. He took every single slice and sunk his teeth into it, but didn’t eat any of them.

And finally his birthday “cake.”

Such a funny little angel. πŸ™‚

Happy birthday sweet Shepard!