May 2019 Reflections

This long, insanely busy, and thoroughly exhausting month has finally come to a close. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a pretty great month filled with a lot of awesome memories. But it was also overstimulating and too chaotic for our introverted homebody thriving family. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re all ending the month with a variety of mysterious illnesses. We’re so burnt out.

Despite the crazy, I think I did a fairly good job of completing all of my goals for the month – except the one I failed at miserably. But I refuse to berate myself over it because there was honestly NO TIME. It was way too ambitious to think I could have fit it in.

1 – Have an awesome vacation!

We did! I loved seeing Colorado for the first time with Greg. After what was also an unusually busy April, it felt at the time like a good opportunity to get away. In hindsight, I don’t want to take a vacation the first week of May ever again. It made the rest of the month way too stressful trying to play catch up. But the vacation itself was great. Probably one of the best we’ve ever had! Colorado was so gorgeous and we had the greatest time just reveling in the natural beauty and eating a lot of delicious meals. It was a really special way to celebrate our 13th anniversary.

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

Honestly, this already feels so long ago that I don’t even remember exactly what I did. But I know I protected that Saturday before as a day for myself as if my life depended on it. I believe I went to the farmers market, shopped at all my favorite stores, and ended the day with a movie. It’s one of my favorite May traditions.

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

I was worried this wasn’t going to happen since I had to keep pushing it back after the trip. But I was able to pull it all together last week with a special giveaway and a two day sale. Somehow, unbelievably, it was a record breaking month for income. And it was my second highest month of all time for number of dolls sold. Almost all of those happening in the last week, which is crazy. I also celebrated my 1000th Etsy sale, gained a lot of new followers after the giveaway, and drummed up some new customers. Of course the highs are always followed by the lows of not being able to have this consistency with new inventory and oodles of sales a day all year round. But it was certainly a month to be proud of myself and all I’ve accomplished to create this successful business all on my own while balancing a ton of other things in the last six years.

4 – Finish my Hope*Writers 90 Day Directions course

This was my big fat fail. I didn’t even open up my coursework ONCE. Not one single minute put into this class over the entire month. I’m disappointed in myself, but there’s just no way I could have handled it. I was busy all day with work and errands and household chores and busy all night with kid things. There was literally no time at all for extra writing or learning about writing.

5 – Go through all my new cookbooks

Okay, so I still haven’t gone through all of them. Namely, the two I got myself for Christmas and are still sitting in the exact same spot I set them five months ago. But I did go through three of them AND made recipes from each of them, which is really saying something. This last week in particular I’ve been trying really hard to focus more of my time and energy into creating good food. I was desperately craving that outlet after weeks of barely having time to scarf down sandwiches in the evenings, let alone make real meals. It’s been a surprising source of joy.

Overall, I’m just proud to say I survived the month. We went on a six day vacation. We celebrated Mother’s Day, Greg’s 35th birthday, my Heartstring Annie 6 year anniversary, our 13th wedding anniversary. Shepard had soccer practices and games 2-3 times a week and loved it. The boys had dentist appointments. Shepard cracked his head opened, needed staples, got the staples removed. I went to a Happier with Gretchen Rubin live podcast event in Milwaukee. Shepard had a poetry reading at the library. Caden had a music concert. I hosted a week of doll related specials. I had a night out with friends. I had a dog park date with another friend. We had an anniversary date night. We went to the farmer’s market in town a couple of times. The boys walked in the Memorial Day parade. Greg took the boys to Cedar Lake for a day. We got to spend an evening with Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson. And we started the massive undertaking of getting ready for a huge garage sale in a few weeks. It has been A MONTH. It was grand, but I am so very happy it’s over.

April 2019 Reflections

Another month behind us. April felt rough. It was honestly an extremely stressful month for me. It’s normally one of our quietest months of the year, but this year it was so filled with angst over everything coming up that I could never really relax or enjoy myself. There was just too much to do. I hate this side of myself, the inability to just find joy in life, no matter how crazy it is. I like knowing that everything is under control and April seemed to be slipping through my hands day after day. My goals for the month weren’t at the forefront of my mind the way they usually are, but I think I did okay despite the circumstances.

1 – No unnecessary spending

Okay, so I failed at this one. I didn’t want to put off the gift buying I needed to do for May, so I went ahead and ordered Greg’s birthday presents and Mother’s Day presents, which was acceptable, but then I always find Mother’s Day gifts and also buy something for myself from the same store because I can’t help it. I also ordered a lot of summer clothes for myself. And I’ve been on a desperate hunt to find new sandals, which resulted in like six different online orders and five of those returned because my feet are ridiculously wide, even more so since the broken ankle and nothing fits. I also bought a few books that I shouldn’t have, and two new pillows to spruce up the futon in the living room. And I purchased quite a few things for the raffle baskets I’m working on for school. I think when everything feels out of control, I turn to retail therapy way too often. I recognize this and I’m trying to turn it around, but it’s hard. I like pretty new things. I like to treat myself with gifts (like new books) because gifts are my love language and I’m not getting them from anyone else, so I might as well get them for myself. Especially when I’m stressed out and exhausted and just want to find some tidbits of joy. Anyway, I will definitely admit I failed 100% at this goal for April.

2 – No fast food

I did okay. We did eat at Culver’s before Shepard’s concert, which I was assuming would happen and it’s fine. And there was one day last week where I was desperately needing a day away from my life, so I treated myself to a sausage biscuit from McDonald’s (my fast food breakfast weakness, even though I don’t generally like sausage at all, so it’s a weird choice), a Starbuck’s cold brew, and Qdoba for lunch all in one day. Don’t judge me. 🙂 I’m not sure I can call it fast food, but I also got a fried chicken sandwich and fries at the movie theater last Saturday and felt like total crap for the next 24 hours, which is a good reminder of why I’m trying REALLY hard to stay away from all things fried. So yes, I admit I had a bit of weakness, but overall I think I did pretty well. With the exception of this last week, I barely ate out at all. And I tried to make better choices when I did.

3 – Take a walk every day

I meant to record this in my bullet journal to be absolutely certain I followed through, but…I didn’t. But we walked to school every day except yesterday when it was raining. We went on a few evening family walks. There were two or three days where I went on much longer walks with Annie. I walked to the post office midday a couple of times. It wasn’t a great month for exercising, but it was better than the months before!

4 – Read a new cookbook

Okay, so I cheated a bit on this and instead of reading one of the cookbooks I intended to read, I bought a new one and read it immediately. And it was amazing. So I definitely want to carve out some time in the next few weeks to go through all the others I haven’t yet looked at. It’s so wonderful getting that new inspiration of things to make. It’s just a matter of forcing myself to sit down and do it.

5 – Finish two or more shelf books

I read three. Though one of them was that new cookbook, so it probably doesn’t count. And one was a new April released book I had pre-ordered, so that probably shouldn’t count either! But I’ve been verrrrrrry slowly reading my huge stack of nonfiction books too. One of these days they’ll all finish around the same time and I’ll have a crazy nonfiction filled month of book recaps!

6 – Plan for May

Ready or not, May is here (well, almost)! I think I succeeded at this, stressful as it was. All my Heartstring Annie doll making plans were what stressed me out the most these past few weeks and I ended up rearranging and changing what I wanted to do multiple times before it felt right. I ended up making teacher dolls this last week and saving my giveaway doll and hopefully a sale for next week after we get back. Vacation is fully planned out with tons of options and a loose itinerary. I have some simple Mother’s Day gifts bought and ready to go. I have Greg’s birthday presents. I’ve made significant headway on my raffle baskets, I just need to finish making all the dolls to go in them. I think our May calendar is pretty well scheduled and planned out, as long as nothing new pops up. The only thing I’m not prepared for is teacher gifts for our own teachers. Though if the ones I made for the shop don’t sell, I might just take them back, though I’d prefer to do something a bit more personalized. We’ll see on that. But overall, I think all the stress of this last month was worth it because May is going to be pretty awesome! And I’m prepared for it. 🙂

March 2019 Reflections

We survived March! March is such a blah month. The weather constantly toys with us – sometimes spring actually arrives, sometimes it ends up being the worst month of winter. I think we were a bit more on the lucky side this year! But still – a long and dragging month that I’m glad to put behind me.

I think I did a pretty good job of meeting most of my goals this month, though I really had a lot of them and probably expected too much. But for the most part, I’m proud of myself for staying a lot more focused and driven than I was in February and January. I’ll do a quick recap!

1 – Prioritize WORK – Complete 4 batches of dolls

I actually completed 6 batches and 32 individual dolls! I sold 24 dolls, which is 8 more than February. I averaged about 4 hours a day of working, on the days that I worked. I even took almost a whole week off because of all my emotional drama. Overall, I’d say it was a highly productive month in the doll business.

2 – DNF books I don’t like

I definitely did this. As I wrote in yesterday’s book post, it was actually a really bad month for reading until I finally got a couple of winners. I only documented one DNF because most of them I only gave about 2-3% on my kindle before I decided I wasn’t in the right headspace for that type of book.

3 – Start a yoga class

This was the easy one since I was already signed up for it before March began. It’s gone relatively well. I’m glad I took it. I like that we do a really different series of poses every week. It’s been challenging.

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

Did it! I had a full day with Shepard as we got pizza, went to multiple stores to find him new shoes, stopped at Marshall’s for me, and ended with Starbucks frappuccinos for dessert. Greg and I checked out a new restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to, walked around a board game store, and got DQ blizzards for dessert. Caden and I had tacos yesterday. We also went all four of us out for Mexican last weekend, which is a pretty rare and special occurrence.

5 – Take Annie to a Madison dog park

I failed at this one. Mostly because with all the melting snow and flooding this month, all “grassy” areas have simply been mud pits. We did go to the Columbus dog park eight times and we’ve walked to school every day but one this month. Plus some extra night and weekend walks. So she’s getting her exercise, I just haven’t carved out enough time to bring her all the way to Madison. Hopefully soon.

6 – See friends at least three times

Done. I saw my friend Laura twice as we first tried to do this succulent planting event that sold out before we got there and then re-did it the next weekend. I also had coffee with my friend Katy. I have it marked in my bullet journal that I saw a friend a fourth time, though I can’t remember this happening… They all happened at the beginning of the month, so I’m due for more!

7 – Take Mom to Manna Cafe

Another fail! Well, I’m pretty sure I never even asked her?? But I know she’s had a lot going on. We DID go out to dinner after one of our yoga classes! I haven’t been to Manna since January and really want to get back. I tried to take Caden there for dessert after our date, but he wanted no part in that plan.

8 – See a movie by myself

I didn’t do this one either, but only because there wasn’t anything I wanted to see. I’m interested in Five Feet Apart, but after reading the book I decided I need to be at home for that kind of emotional movie watching experience. I hope there’s something coming out soon!

9 – Read two nonfiction books

I kind of snuck this one under the wire when I read a short graphic memoir yesterday right before writing my book post tot make sure I had that second nonfiction goal met! I also read Inheritance a few weeks ago. When I set this goal I really wanted to read some of the more life enriching books I have all over the house, but I wasn’t really in the mood for that this month.

10 – Eat better

This was too vague of a goal and I did a really crappy job of it. My scale is broken (okay, it just needs new batteries or something), but I’m pretty sure I’ve gained back all the weight I lost at the end of last year. I went out to eat A LOT this month. And ate so much crap at home. So many desserts. So many amazingly delicious lunches that I created just for me, but were then so good I couldn’t control myself from overeating them. It’s been a bad month. High priority goal for April will be finding a solid way to change this.

And that’s it! I write these recaps mostly for myself as I’m sure they’re not too interesting to anyone else. But…this is a good space for me to hold myself accountable, so I’m sticking with it!

February 2019 Reflections

As expected, February just flew by! It was such a fun, crazy, chaotic month. Despite my schedule, I think I did a fairly good job with my goals.

1 – Don’t give up on the life I want

I was pretty depressed about the state of my friendships in January. In February I had a glimpse of what it must actually be like for all my friends that have busy schedules every month of the year. It really IS hard to make friendship a priority when you’re barely hanging on. I think I learned that I can’t be so hard on everyone and I can’t always take it so personally when I feel rejected. I’m not ready to keep accepting the position of doormat, but I’ll try to be more understanding in the future. Overall, I don’t feel like I gave up this month, or even felt as down as I did in January. I still had time to get lunch with one friend and coffee with another. I’ve been trying hard to stop playing the martyr in other areas of my life and actually MAKE CHANGES when I start to feel dissatisfied with something. Nothing annoys me more than people that complain and whine about their totally changeable circumstances. I refuse to be one of those people and try to remind myself often to DO SOMETHING if I’m unhappy.

2 – Have two wonderful family vacations

I’d say this was a huge success! Horrible drives not withstanding, we had an awesome time in Nebraska earlier in the month and then an amazing memory filled trip to Orlando. No, the trips weren’t perfect, but they honestly went a whole lot better than I was expecting. It was really great!

3 – Celebrate Shepard

Despite what I may have thought in the past, Shepard’s birthday was FAR from overlooked this year! We had a little birthday party for him in Nebraska, we celebrated as a family before we went to Florida, we did basically everything he wanted on his actual birthday IN Florida, and we had a family party for him when we got back. It was basically three straight weeks of birthday celebrations. We did skip out on a friend party, but I don’t think he even cared, we were so busy with everything else. Plus half his class has birthdays within a month of his, so he’s been really busy going to everyone else’s parties!

4 – Get the boys real haircuts

Did it! They were NOT happy. Caden is still mad that I didn’t let his unruly hair just keep growing in fifty different directions. His was shaped a bit more and I really like how much more grown up he looks. Shepard’s haircut was less drastic and didn’t turn out a whole lot different from how we usually buzz it down. But I still think it was really cute. I’m not sure continuing to get “real” haircuts is in our future, but maybe every couple of months for a nice clean up!

5 – Don’t forget about Valentine’s Day

It was pretty low key this year in between two big vacations and birthday festivities, but I think it turned out to be a pretty nice holiday! I took Annie to the dog park in the morning, let myself relax and read for most of the day, had a coffee date with Laura in the afternoon, made some easy yet festive treats, and gave all my boys a couple of gifts.

6 – Re-read two favorite books

Did it and LOVED IT. That little shelf right above my chair holds copies of my absolute favorite books, the ones I’d read again, but never actually do. After this month, it’s going to be a priority. Revisiting those stories that made me feel so much happiness are totally worth picking up again, especially when life is crazy or sad and I just want to know what I’m getting myself into during my relaxation time.

7 – Have a romance filled reading month

Okay, I tried, but wasn’t super successful. I just wasn’t really in the mood for romance, especially when the storyline was sub-par. With the exception of Hate to Want You (and my two re-reads), every romance book I picked up was pretty lame.

8 – Prioritize a few minutes of self care every day

I forgot this was one of my goals. I’d say it’s the only one I really failed at. This month was just plain crazy. I think the only real self care I took part in was squeezing in naps the days that I could – which was far less than usual. I realize naps are a pretty big self care method that not a lot of people have opportunity to do. But most days it just feels like such an absolute necessity to my survival, that I don’t see it as a way to treat myself anymore. I wish I had given myself more grace to read and laugh and connect over the month.

Overall – a pretty successful month. It was a lot of fun, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. I am SO ready to get back to my mostly boring and low key life!

January 2019 Reflections

WHEW. We did it, guys. We survived January. Did January feel like twenty weeks long to you too? I seriously can’t believe how long this month has been. Especially these last two weeks! SO MUCH FORCED FAMILY TIME. I’m supposed to have 4 days a week home to myself to work and get stuff done and breathe and not go insane. Both last week and this I’ve only had one day and both of those days were spent out the entire time running errands. I am about to completely lose my mind. I’ve been doing pretty good – better than I thought I would have. But I’ve really hit my limit tonight. I don’t want to make three meals a day for four people anymore. I don’t want someone in the room with me every minute of every day. I don’t want to not listen to my podcasts or watch my shows because of the sensitivity of those in the house around me. I don’t want to be stuck at home because I literally have no freedom to leave with such horrific weather. It’s also killing me that even though everyone will go back to school and work tomorrow, it will be followed by THREE MORE DAYS of everyone home. I’m losing it.

Anyway. January was a pretty rough month. My uncle’s body was found in his apartment and I think the circumstances surrounding his death are going to haunt me for a long time. I helped my mom and other uncle and some cousins clean out his apartment for a couple of days and I can’t get those images out of my mind, especially at night when I’m trying to fall to sleep. It was a devastatingly sad situation that I’ve had a lot of unexpected grief over. I wish things could have been different. And wishing won’t change anything, which really just sucks.

The weather this month also forced my hand and I had to cancel a lot of plans between everything going on. We also all (except Caden) had a short but horrific case of a norovirus last week which felt like it was going to kill me. Except for my one lunch out with my friend Laura and our one little anniversary night getaway, I had to cancel every single fun thing I had planned for January. A coffee date with another friend, a craft night, a dinner with a couple of friends, a shopping day with my mom, a D&D day for Greg, a birthday party for Shepard’s friend. Even the not so fun, yet necessary things got cancelled and are now moved to February which is seriously too busy already. I couldn’t get to my doctor’s appointment this week and my dentist appointment for tomorrow has also been cancelled for non-weather reasons. I really wanted to take the boys to get real haircuts for the first time in years this week, but everything ended up closing and we couldn’t leave the house. It’s just been day after day after day of being stuck at home with either not having a lot to do, or not wanting to actually do anything, or feeling too sick to actually be productive, or feeling guilty for not having done enough. I’ve been in quite a funk and I don’t like it. I’m hoping with the flip of the calendar and the promised warmer temperatures this weekend, I can shake it off and be happy again.

Looking back at my goals for the month, I think I’ve done okay under the circumstances.

1 – No excess spending

I did GREAT with this for about three weeks. And then I desperately needed some hits of retail therapy. I haven’t gone crazy, but I was definitely inspired to collect some more fun things to spruce up the house. I ordered some new pillows and blankets and a large ottoman to go with my reading chair. I bought some Valentine gifts and birthday gifts and added some mugs to my collection. In a desperate need to bring more green and life into my house, I also placed an order for some new and unique houseplants that are going to come in a few days. For those first few weeks, though, I think it did me a lot of good to say no, especially after the crazy Christmas rush in November and December. This is something I’d like to do maybe every other month or so, just to get in the habit of clearly thinking about what I truly want and need before spending my money on it.

2 – Lose 3 or more pounds by the 30th

Oof. Well. I did. But only because I was violently sick and lost 6 pounds in two days. Otherwise, my healthy eating habits have basically been thrown out the window this month. It’s been so hard to think about that on top of everything else. January has felt like being in pure survival mode. Not motivational be my best self mode. I definitely need to find that awesome drive I had in November and early December before Christmas time parties ruined me.

3 – No fast food

I only gave in and got Culver’s one time, one of the days after I helped clean out my uncle’s apartment and I knew that Greg and the boys were gone because they had gone out to Culver’s too. I just couldn’t deal with coming home and making myself a meal and I was starving and I had limited options. But otherwise – I’ve been good. I’ve also just frequented restaurants a lot less often in general this month. Mostly because I’ve been stuck here and haven’t had a choice! 🙂

4 – Make 20+ Valentine dolls

This I did! I actually made 33 Valentine dolls. And until this week (post illness plus everyone home every day due to cancelled school), I’ve been great at keeping consistent work hours too. Almost no nights or weekends and still plenty of time left over for living my regular life and not being overly stressed out about it.

5 – Read 4 books from my shelves

I actually read 9 books from my shelves this month! Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself!

6 – Have a great anniversary getaway

Well, I wrote about this last weekend. I really enjoyed our afternoon and night in Cedarburg. I’m disappointed that we didn’t make more of our second day, just rushing back to get the boys the way we always do. I also don’t think we had any of our regularly weekday at home date nights this whole month because of the weather and a sick kid and busy schedules. So that’s kind of a bummer. Not that we’re not getting a massive amount of time in the same house these days. But getting OUT of the house is always better for us.

7 – Spend time with friends

I explained this one already. I’m really glad I had one lunch out. And twice this week we sort of invited ourselves over to our new neighbor’s house to see her little kittens. I’m hoping it’s the start of a very good friendship. Better friends than enemies when you share a driveway and are forced to work together outside every time it snows!

So, overall…I’m just glad January is over. It wasn’t the worst it could have been. But it was far from great. But, it’s over. On to February and a whole lot of fun things happening!

November 2018 Reflections

Happy end of November!

I’m so behind in my posts, I decided to just go ahead and do my monthly recap instead of trying to remember what I did every day the last two weeks and just write about that. It feels a little irrelevant and boring at this point. Or maybe always?! 🙂

Looking back at my goals from the beginning of the month, I was planning for a slow November. It was far from slow! Something about this school year, or this fall, seems busier than it’s ever been. We’re constantly running around, seem to have things going on almost every night, and I am just crazy busy trying to balance everything during the day. It’s so exhausting. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or this is just the season of life we’re in right now and I need to learn to deal with it. I’m really hoping winter will finally quiet down. Because I’m terrified of walking on potentially slippery ground EVER AGAIN, I think winter will be quiet just because I’m going to flat out refuse to go anywhere!

Anyway, here’s a quick recap on the goals I was aiming for in November. I think I did a pretty great job this month!

1. Write EVERY DAY

Well, I gave up on this one in the middle of the month because it was stressing me out and putting too much pressure on my already overloaded mind. It’s funny how by giving myself permission to prioritize writing, I suddenly had very little interest in doing it. I’ve just been too busy to even want to stop and get my thoughts down. But…it’s okay. I guess this is why I’m not a career writer. Maybe that is never meant to be.

2. Stop eating fast food for the sake of having a fast meal

This has been really tough, guys. This whole weight loss journey I began about five weeks ago has been A STRUGGLE. So many emotional ups and downs. So many days of the scale going up and down. As of today, 34 days after I started, I’m down 8.4 pounds. Which is great, I think! My goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of January, so I’m doing far better than I expected of myself. But most of the loss was in those first few weeks when I was using Noom and Lose It. I’m proud of myself for still going down now that I’m doing everything totally on my own without counting calories, but the changes day to day feel very insignificant. Anyway, I definitely have times of being totally hangry pretty much every day. I miss eating  what I want, when I want, and not thinking about portion size. I REALLY miss grabbing fast and easy food choices when I’m out running errands and feel like I’m starving. I realized that I just can’t have a full shopping day and expect myself to still come home and take the time to make a healthy late lunch for myself. So once a week I’ve been going to Qdoba or Chipotle which feels like a very worthy reward for being pretty good the rest of the week. And since errand days are always the days I get the most steps, I feel justified in splurging for the extra calories. As for actual fast (fried) food, I’ve only had it once. I planned it, which was within the rules I set for myself. I ordered a chicken and waffle sandwich from KFC. And it was SO not worth it. I’m going to stick with this goal for next month too. I just want to remember how crappy I feel after eating certain foods and drill it into my brain that it is not worth feeling like crap just for the convenience of something fast I can eat while I drive back home.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

Okay, I’m not going to do the math, but I’d guess that I’m at least 90% done!! It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks of doing research on what to get everyone, finding the best deals, trying to take advantage of all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But with the exception of a few small filler gifts, I’m basically done. With everyone! I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, though, because when you do all your Christmas shopping for about 25 people – most of them needing multiple gifts – in a week and a half, all of those gifts start showing up at your door at the same time. Part of the reason I feel like I’m getting absolutely nothing done this week is that every single day a massive pile of boxes is delivered to my door and I need to figure out what to do with all of them. I did a round of wrapping earlier this week to try and further get ahead of everything, but it’s just A LOT to deal with. But when it’s all done, hopefully within the next week, I will be SO relieved to just sit back and relax and not have to worry about gift buying anymore in the month of December.

4. Write a Book Bonanza reading list

This is probably one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve assigned myself, but I haven’t done it yet. There are maybe around 120ish authors who will be at Book Bonanza in August, and I’ve at most read books by 5-8 of them, I’m guessing. I’d really love to do a quick search on every author and find at least one book of theirs I’d like to read by the time I head to Texas in August to meet them. I suppose the month isn’t over yet, but I did buy my Book Bonanza ticket almost three months ago, so I really need to get going on this list!

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

We did this! A few weeks ago we went to The Mineshaft and shared a huge pile of appetizers followed by games in the arcade. It was really nice! I want to make this a more regular part of our monthly routine.

Reflections on the last two weeks

Treat your delivery drivers

I heard about this idea last year from Jessica Turner at The Mom Creative. You fill up a box of treats (ideally food AND drinks, but the drinks are too risky in the below freezing temps most days around here) and leave it out for all your delivery drivers. I started a this a few weeks earlier than last year since all of my packages have already been rolling in. I also got a cover this year because last year the squirrels realized that box of snacks existed and raided it every single day, leaving food wrappers strewn around the neighborhood. Anyway, I think it’s just a really fun thing to do. Maybe they’ll take something, maybe they won’t, but at least the gesture means something. My dad has worked at FedEx my whole life and I know how insane this time of the year is for all delivery workers. I hope that getting a little treat when they stop by our house brings a joy to their day! And because I love variety, I have about ten different options in that box and try to switch things out every few days, taking note on what gets eaten the most (Little Debbies) and make sure things like that are in stock. 🙂

Pre-Thanksgiving date night

Exactly one month after I left DC, I saw Dianne and Jack again as they were in town visiting her dad for Thanksgiving. It’s nice that she can always kill two birds with one stone when she’s in the area and make some time to see me too! The four of us went out for Mexican the night before Thanksgiving. It was fun! I wish we could do couple dates more often.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving began the way every holiday begins – with a sick child. Caden, who rarely gets tummy sick, was rolling around with a bucket and moaning and groaning. He sort of spit up once and then laid in bed all morning, while we tried to decide what to do. Seeing as he seemed to be getting better, we continued on with our initial plans.

We always have Thanksgiving at Greg’s parents’ house and my parents come too, so we don’t have to eat two meals anymore. Shepard and I worked on this gingerbread turkey before the meal.

I was in charge of desserts, like I always am (and am thrilled about!). I always try to make my most unique things for Thanksgiving that still kind of fit the traditional offerings, but with a few twists. This was an apple gouda sage pie. The gouda was in the crust and I didn’t taste it at all. I only put in half the sage because I don’t like sage, but I couldn’t taste that either. But…it was a really good apple pie!

This was a triple cherry pie with a chocolate crust. My dad told me I ruined it with the chocolate crust and refused to even taste it, which is kind of a shame since I halfway made it for him because I know he loves cherry pies. But Greg also loves cherry pie and this was his request. Of course the recipe called for fresh cherries, which you will not find in November! I used frozen cherries, twice the amount called for, and it was kind of a juice explosion disaster. But if you only ate the top crust and a scoop of the filling it was delicious! And I normally don’t like cherry pie at all.

I only planned to make two pies since our group was pretty small this year, but I was so worried about the cherry pie being too juicy to eat that I stayed up late to make this black bottom peanut butter mousse pie. I added a bit of salt to each of the layers and it was PERFECTION. In retrospect, three pies for six eating adults (the boys didn’t have any) was definitely overkill. But as we’ve already established in this blog post, I love variety!

Shepard showing off the themed desserts he made on Wednesday night with my mom. He was very proud of them!

A moment of calm in the midst of a pretty trying day with a certain child. I know he wasn’t feeling the greatest, but he was also still being the way he is at basically every family gathering these days. It was rough. It’s ALWAYS rough.

And finishing the evening with some Thanksgiving Mad Libs and clay art projects with Shepard and the grandmas and me. I love how much of a kick he gets out those stories! Overall, it was a very nice Thanksgiving and I am forever thankful that I’m not responsible for the turkey or the sides!

Black Friday

I had big plans to work together to get the house fully decorated on Friday. But Thursday was so difficult with Caden that Greg decided to go into work so he didn’t have to spend the day with us. I still really wanted to get the tree up, but of course I had a few other things I really needed to do first (shopping!). Shepard was very impatient with me and started the tree on his own. He gave up right after I joined him and I ended up doing pretty much the entire thing myself. The boys spent the rest of the day playing with their friend while I decorated and cleaned.

After dinner we all went down the road to the Christmas parade! It’s really like the tiniest parade that has ever existed, but so many people show up and the atmosphere is festive and fun. Afterward Santa and a few people make a super long speech at the library that I have never been able to hear a single word of – I have NO CLUE what they talk about for so long every year. But then Santa lights the Christmas tree and everyone cheers.

Since everyone was actually in a good mood after the parade we powered through and finished decorating the tree. Greg and Shepard also put up the smaller tree in the family room and went crazy hanging twinkling white lights around the entire room. Our main tree shifts positions in the living room every year, but I really like this year’s placement. I have a perfect view from my big reading chair to the left.

Work Stuff

I spent a lot of time debating how to make sales over the Black Friday weekend. I decided to stay up late Thanksgiving night to finish these 12 ornament dolls. I offered one free with every order placed on Friday and Saturday. On Small Business Saturday I added an extra 15% off. I had exactly 12 sales on those two days so it worked out perfectly. On Cyber Monday I offered 25% off everything and made a giveaway doll that every sale for the day got entered in to win. Overall, it was very successful. I’ll probably do the same series of sales next year. There were a lot of people who wanted to just outright buy the ornament dolls, though, so this week I’ve been working on a batch of 24 of them to list for individual sale. I’ve just been so busy with other stuff I’m still not done with them.

McKenna’s Birthday Party

On Saturday night we went to my goddaughter McKenna’s 6th birthday party. It was also her sister Alaina’s 3rd birthday party – they have the same birthday. It was so fun to hang out with them! But also really sad that it’s been an entire year since I last saw her. This year just flew by.

Such a happy and fun little girl!

House Stuff

One of my totally random purchases in the last few weeks were new shades for our living room. Before we had a pretty translucent white curtain that was broken and couldn’t properly be opened (See tree pic a few paragraphs earlier.). It definitely looked a little bare at first, but I LOVE this new upgrade. I got the light filtering shades so it’s still pretty bright in here even when they’re closed. But I also feel like we finally have a lot more privacy in this room in the evenings, which makes me really happy. Unfortunately, that big curtain was also hiding a bunch of paint that peeled away when we put those plastic window sheets on our first winter here. I was really hoping to immediately patch all that up this week, but again – NO TIME. I’m hoping in the next year or two we can replace all the regular blinds that are left in the house with shades like this. They just look so much nicer.

Other Decorating

It’s taking me so much longer than I’d like, but I am very slowly making sure the rest of the house is decorated and ready for Christmas! One of my completely unplanned for Black Friday purchases was this little Christmas tree for our room. I love it so much! This is the first tree that I was ever able to pick out – not a hand me down or one we got on super clearance because it was the only one available. Putting this tree up inspired me to finally clean up our dresser top and reorganize my whole makeup area. Our room is looking very spiffy right now!

Edible Slime

Shepard saw a video the other day of people making edible slime and insisted he had to do it too. I bought the ingredients he told me to (gummy bears, cornstarch, sugar) and he and Greg made it. It looked so gross!

I’m not sure I’d call it a successful experiment, but they certainly had a lot of fun doing it! What a sticky mess, though!

End of the Month, by the Numbers

  • I worked about 61 hours this week over 21 days. Most days just 2-4 hours which is pretty realistic for what I can fit into my schedule right now. I’m still hoping to someday just have a normal work at home DAY and not work on nights or weekends at all. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!
  • I took Annie to the dog park 13 times. Our number is going up because I’ve been driving the boys to school more often with the cold or snow or their inability to get ready on time. If I’m already in my car with Annie it just makes more sense to get a little dog park time in!
  • I ate at restaurants 9 times this month. Better than last month’s 15, but still feels like a lot. At least I know my choices this month were a lot healthier.
  • I know they were healthier because I concluded that I “felt good” 22 days of the month. In October I only felt good in my body 9 days of the month. That’s a lot of progress!
  • I felt like I did some sort of nourishing self care 13 days of the month. Not so great. I’m hoping that number will jump significantly in December and I stop letting my to do list stress me out and rule my life and happiness so often.
  • I had a pretty even amount of quality time with Greg, Caden, and Shepard this month. I had 3 days of friend quality time.
  • My average happiness rating for the month was 6.7, only a tiny bit higher than October’s. I’m not very generous in my rating system – I’ve never given myself a 10/10 day. But I did have a lot of 7-9’s this month.

And that’s it for November! Happy December!!

 

October 2018 Reflections

I made it through October! Usually one of my favorite months of the year, this one was a bit more tough. I talked about it a lot in some of my posts last week, so I’m going to try and keep this relatively brief. I had five main goals this month and didn’t do the greatest job at most of them. But – I’m okay with it. I believe I needed the breaks I was taking from a lot of things this month and that was ultimately more important than following through on my original goals.

1. Stick to three!

I had the full intention of prioritizing my long daily to do lists into a section of three I absolutely thought I could accomplish each day, and the rest of the list would just be a bonus. I thought if I finished those top three things every day, I would feel good about myself and my accomplishments, even if I didn’t touch the rest of the list. I do still like this idea. The problem is that it felt pretty rare to get all three of those things done. I often chose the biggest and most day changing things to be a priority, and sometimes you just don’t have enough time in the day to do three major things. At the end of the month I tried to make it more manageable, so I could check those items off. I still like this system and will probably continue to write my to do lists this way, I’ll just alter the priorities a bit to give myself some grace.

2. Implement Writing Wednesdays

I continue to battle internally between wanting to write and wanting to sew. Well, this month I didn’t really want to do either. I don’t always feel like I have enough time in my life for both, which I know is ridiculous. Plenty of people are MUCH busier than me with jobs outside the home, running kids all over the place in the evenings, and they still have time for hobbies. I really have no excuse. Needless to say, I failed at this Wednesday thing. On the weeks I was sewing, and even the weeks I wasn’t, there was something going on every Wednesday that was ultimately more important. I love this idea in theory, but I have a new thing I’m going to try in November to get a healthy mix of both. But more on that tomorrow!

3. Work 20+ hours a week during the day

Well, we all know I totally failed at this one! I needed the break to do some soul searching. I worked 20 hours in the first 11 days of the month and then I took 17 days completely off. And then I got back to work this week. I’m not sure that hourly goals are going to work for me in the future. I’ve been wanting to see Heartstring Annie as my full time career and I honestly think that’s been my downfall. After all my reflecting this month I decided that I want to stick with it and keep making dolls. But I want to do it on a smaller scale than I’ve been trying to force myself to keep up with these last two years. I’m going to make the dolls on my time table, on my terms, and my customers will just have to be okay with that.

4. Finish at least 3 nonfiction books

I started so many nonfiction books this month! I have stacks of books in every room and I want to read all of them all the time. It’s just so hard to fit in! Especially when I’m always deep into a fiction book that almost always takes precedence. But I have TONS of nonfiction unread books in my house that I need and want to start working through. I did finish three this month. I’m almost done with another. So check this box off as one goal completed in October!

5. Have a lot of fun!

Even though October felt pretty tough overall, I definitely had fun too. I went on tasty birthday restaurant adventures with a few friends, family, Greg. I had my vacation in DC. We had a lot of great Halloween memories. Overall, I think I did let loose a little and enjoyed myself more than I have in the past. Probably because I took all the work pressure off myself for most of the month! Ideally it’d be nice to have fun AND work, but it’s okay.

And a few random facts from my tracking this month, just because it’s fun…

  • Annie got to go to the dog park 9 times this month.
  • I ate at restaurants 15 times in October. Mostly between birthday and vacation, but that’s a lot. Really, way too many! But it was so delicious.
  • I felt I had some sort of quality time with Greg all but one day that I was home this month. I had quality time with Shepard almost every day. And Caden continues to be the one with a lot of gaps because he simply never wants to do anything with me. But I’ll work on it.
  • I had some sort of quality time with friends eight times this month – half those days because of DC, but still. It’s more than usual, which is great!
  • I felt I gave myself a span of self care time during the day 19 days of the month. Often this means I took an extra break, usually in the evening, to read for awhile. Sometimes it means a special shopping trip or walk or adventure out of the house.
  • I always rate my day on a scale of 1-10. My average this month was 6.45. I had a few pretty low days, but I also had a lot of really high days.

And that’s it for October! See you tomorrow with my November goals!

Quick September Goals Recap

September is almost over! I realize that nobody else probably cares about all these goals and intentions posts, but it really helps me to organize my thoughts at the beginning and end of every week and month to make the most of my time and live life with as much intention as possible. For awhile I was making goals by season, but every month holds so many different priorities that I’ve switched over to just focusing on each four week block at a time. So here’s a (hopefully) quick recap on how I feel like my September goals played out!

1. Get back to routine:
– Wake up by 5:30 and get ready right away
– Start each day with a quiet time and day organization
– Use any remaining time before 6:30 to do something for myself
– Focus on the boys and school stuff until it’s time to leave
– Walk them to school and walk extra with Annie
– Get to work by 9:00 and stay focused
– Focus on the boys between school pick up and dinner
– End each day with the bullet journal, tracking, and prepping the next day

I think I did a pretty great job with this one! I never have a problem waking up early and most days I was up around 5. I had enough time to shower and get out of the bathroom before Greg woke up. I wasn’t great about it on weekends, but every weekday I’d start with a quiet and devotional time and do a bit of prepping for the day in my bullet journal. And most days I used that remaining me time to read. There were a few days I chose to get a little bit of work done in that time, but I tried to stick with things that were purely for my own enjoyment. Getting back into the school day routine was easier than ever this year. I walked them every day, except the days they rode their bikes, and a few days it was raining. And with the exception of the rain days, I also walked Annie. Not always as long or as far as I would have liked, but more than just coming straight back home. I wasn’t particularly great at getting to work at 9 because there were just so many weird days and random errands I had to run. But I did try to be done with my random internet time by 9 every day so I could focus on actually accomplishing something. I made dinnertime prep a higher priority than I put it during the summer and tried to be more emotionally available to the boys, though most days they were with their friends during that stretch. And I ended almost every day doing a little bit of journaling. Some days time got away from me and I chose to go watch tv with Greg instead of making him wait any longer. But overall, I think the routine stuff was kind of a breeze! I LOVE fall when I can finally get back into the swing of everything. Summer is too chaotic and random.

2. Focus on working

I was not super successful with this. It was a busy month. It’s hard to work at home when there are always eight million other directions my mind and energy should and could be going. Ideally I wanted to average working about 6 hours a day. I did track it and it averaged to about 3.5 hours per weekday, though really it was like three days of no work at all a week and two days of super long full day and night spans. I’d really like to be more consistent, only work during the day, and find a bit more balance between everything. But…it takes time. I didn’t write it in my goals blog post, but I also wanted to create 30 dolls in September. I made 29. I sold 21. Not too bad, but I hope to be better in the future.

3. Take care of my body
– Walk Annie at least 30 minutes a day with an extra nighttime walk
– Do the Yoga with Adriene 14 day challenge
– Eat better

I think I did better this month. I’ve been thinking a lot harder about everything I put into my body. I don’t always make the best choices, but I’m much more conscious about what I’m eating. I’m trying to streamline my daytime meals and snacks so I’m not tempted to overindulge. I’m trying to make healthier meals at night so we’re not just throwing junky things together last minute. I have a potential diet plan I MIGHT sign up for, but I wanted to be a little more lenient on myself until after my birthday next week. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to it yet. Anyway, I think I hit my walking goal most days. It’s pretty easy to get 30 minutes in. Those days were rough with the mosquitoes, though! I would have liked to have walked more and longer all of those days, but the bugs were horrific. And I totally failed at the yoga challenge. I did the first four days and then my ankles were so ridiculously sore that I could barely walk. I was also feeling really sick around day five from getting on the new blood pressure medicine and I just had to give it up. I like yoga – on occasion. Every day is too much for me. It’s definitely too much for my ankle still, seven months in.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month

I think I succeeded at this! We kept everything pretty low key this year, which really worked out. Trying to make things extravagant and super exciting never really goes over well with Caden. He likes to be home, he likes to do simple things. We had a nice small family birthday party, a very low energy video game friend birthday party, and a quiet real birthday split between playing games and going to a fall activities place. He seemed very happy with all of it.

5. Have fun!

Sometimes September really stresses me out. Oftentimes, actually. The boys are gone during the day, but they’re in horrific moods every night. I want to have great birthday parties for Caden, but it’s so stressful making sure the house is clean, the food is great, and everyone has a good time. And I’m often frustrated with myself for my inability to ever accomplish as much as I want to. But this time around – I really did have fun! I had my mini Chicago solo vacation with the added bonus of finding a great vintage market on the way, we had very low key birthday celebrations that didn’t really stress me out at all, Greg and I had a really great date night and picked out a reading chair that I’ve been wanting for like 15 years, I had a great time at Cranberry Fest with my weekends, and I kept my workload light enough that I still had lots of fun to just read, relax, and enjoy my life! Overall, it was a pretty great month!

August Goals and Intentions

At the end of June I posted an update on all my summer goals that I set for myself. It was a pretty lofty list of admirable intentions and attitudes I hoped to possess over these three crazy months. Instead of revisiting that list for a third time, I decided to write something entirely new for the month of August. I have just under 5 weeks left before school starts and I want to make them count. But I also want to keep them simple and achievable and full of fun. So here we go!

1. Make memories!

We usually save up all of the most exciting summer activities for August. This year has been no different. I put in a lot of hours of work in between the chaos the last two months, and I’d like to take this final month to prioritize family time. I’m taking the boys to the State Fair tomorrow, we have a weekend mini vacation planned with Greg’s parents, we have a two night family vacation next week, and we have a bunch of day trips already booked in those last couple of weeks. There will definitely still be days here and there where we just stay home, but I want to make those count too. Continue morning walks with the boys, maybe check out some more local restaurants for afternoon treats, and just go to the pool. I’m a little ashamed to admit I have only taken them to the pool during the day ONCE this entire summer so far. Greg definitely makes up for it with evening trips, but I should try a little harder. I’ve lived my life extremely agenda driven in June and July, and I want to let loose and be okay with letting things slide in August.

2. Read 12 or more books!

I was looking back and saw that I read 9 books each in July, June, and May. Which isn’t terrible. I know many people read a lot less than that, which is fine. But I’m in this facebook book club group and at the end of every month people post what they read and so many people have more like 15-20! Which seems insane to me! But if I’m already going to be easing up on work this month, I might as well spend more time reading! Or add in a few more audiobooks in place of podcasts. My TBR piles and lists are GIGANTIC. It would be awesome to make a big dent in it this month. And if I don’t read that many? No big deal. I’m just hoping to challenge myself a bit. And give me an excuse TO just sit down and read.

3. Make and start an end of summer/fall doll schedule. 

Sales were booming in June and greatly dropped by the end of July. Which is kind of frustrating. The only thing I can attribute to the decline is that people just really like holiday themed dolls, and I don’t make many of those in summer! I actually love summer doll making because I get to express more creativity and the sky is basically the limit in what types of dolls I make. I’ve been having a lot of fun really pushing the boundaries on what a “prim doll” really might look like. Lots of color, lots of new hair textures, a lot of new stamp discoveries. I’ve had fun and lost customers because of it! Anyway, Halloween dolls are usually my best sellers, so I guess I will reluctantly start moving into that season. I’d really love to finish off the summer with some sort of big boom of dolls, though. I’m considering a large batch of ornament sized dolls, which I’ve avoided for months (so much work for so little profit). But they’re fast, and people LOVE them, so it would garner more interest in my shop again. I’ve also been toying with the idea of an alphabet themed set of dolls. I bought the cutest set of vintage mini alphabet playing cards at a store last summer and have been thinking about this idea ever since. It’s just a really big thing to take on. Maybe August is the month for it? My third option is to just jump right into fall/harvest themed dolls and maybe save them up for a unique facebook sale on the first day of school or something. Lots to consider.

4. Write every possible day.

I’ve done a really crappy job of writing more often this summer as planned. I basically just write my journal-like weekend posts and book and tv posts at the end of the month. I really want this blog to be more than that. But I struggle so much with how to go about doing that! So I did a little research on random blog prompts and want to challenge myself to write a whole lot more this month. I think my biggest hangup is that people really don’t care about what I have to say. But…so what? It’s not like I’m forcing anyone to read this. I’m already only posting it to a facebook page that a whopping 22 people follow! I don’t have to feel bad about being annoying. I can write what I want, when I want, and if nobody reads it I really don’t care! I’d love to have a whole lot more interaction that I do now, but maybe writing more would push that forward. Anyway, I was strongly considering a blog post for every day of the month. But I think that’s a bit too hard to achieve considering I already know there at least 12 days this month I either won’t be home at all, or only briefly in the mornings and evenings. So I won’t put on the pressure for a daily post, no matter what. But I’m going to do more! I PROMISE this time. 🙂

And that’s it! Just four broad intentions and goals for the month of August. I think I can do it!

January 2018 Recap

This last month I’ve given bullet journaling my best effort. It has turned out to be an awesome way to record not only my to do lists and daily calendar, but also track my habits, activities, and moods. I have a page for tracking certain habits and then each day after my to do list, meal planning, and recorded work hours, I write some “notes” – or more accurately, journal entries. It’s been a fantastic way to start and end my day. I’ve gotten creative and extremely colorful with the addition of washi tape and random stickers, giving the journal the added benefit of being a little side art project that I do entirely for myself. It’s not very fancy, but it’s effective and useful. I can definitely see myself using this system forever. Someday I’ll take some pictures of it and share more about the system. But right now it’s 9pm and I’m utterly exhausted. Maybe next month!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to write a little reflection post at the end of each month. Mostly for my own benefit to evaluate where I am with everything. I’ll try to keep it brief!

  • My biggest accomplishment is that I finished the 30 day yoga challenge!! I’ve never, ever done 30 days in a row of an exercise before. I’m quite proud of myself! I still don’t really think yoga is quite for me, but I’ve learned a lot that I can incorporate into my daily life. I think I’m going to try and keep it up with 1-2 days of yoga a week.
  • I walked Annie 9 times. Not the best track record for walking to school every morning the way we should be. It’s cold out!
  • I’ve taken Annie to the dog park 18 times. We definitely get our money’s worth out of that annual pass! You need to go 14 times a year to make it worth it. So I’m good!
  • I spent a portion of 12 days reading from my pile of nonfiction books. That was one of my biggest goals for this month and about halfway through the month I really petered out on doing it. Need to be better!
  • I created 28 dolls. I’ve sold 24 of them.
  • I worked 23 days. 76.5 hours. Averaging 19 hours a week. Which is about what I’m aiming for, though ideally I’d like to get closer to 30 hours a week. And hey! People are always asking me how long it takes to make a doll. It’s really hard to give an answer since there’s so much drying time in between things. Well, now I can say that it actively takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to make one doll. 🙂
  • I spent time with friends 3 days. 3 days in a 4 day period. But I was extra happy on those days.
  • I did some form of self care 20 days of the month. I didn’t record what activities, but they were mostly at times when I actively realized I was stressed out and chose to walk away and do something for myself. Usually reading.
  • I spent a lot of quality time with Greg and Shepard. There were definitely many days where I didn’t feel like I had any sort of deep connecting period of time with Caden. I’ll need to work on that too.
  • Overall, it was a pretty good month! I rated myself as “happy” most days. There were definitely stressful days in the mix, but I feel like the month as a whole was pretty good!

Goals for February

  1. ENJOY EVERYTHING. February is INSANELY busy this year. Shepard’s birthday and two parties. My mom’s birthday and a party. A concert to see. Babysitting Hudson overnight. Valentine’s Day and all the extra stuff that comes with it. A baby shower. Two late starts, two days off of school. Conferences. Science night. Winter Fun Day. It is going to be a busy, busy month. I want to enjoy it all and not be running around like a stressed out crazy person.
  2. PRIORITIZE LOVE. Mostly for myself. But also for my family and friends.
  3. KEEP EXERCISING. I think I’d like to do Leslie Sansone walking videos this month. It’ll probably still be too cold for long walks outside, so it’s a good month to keep doing videos inside. Maybe not every single day. But most days.

We survived January! Let’s celebrate February!