September 2019 Reflections

Well, folks, September is going out with a bang. Today has been one of the most chaotic and frazzling days I’ve had in a long time. I’ll spare you all the whiny details, but I will tell you I had to renew my driver’s license and took THE WORST photo of all time. Which super sucks after I spent so long trying to fix my hair and makeup and wear a great shirt (which I’m pretty sure isn’t even in the photo at all). It shouldn’t matter, but it really bums me out I’m going to have to look at that every single time I have to open my wallet for like the next ten years. Maybe it’ll be my constant motivation to lose some weight.

Anyway. Goals-wise, I think September was a pretty successful month! I’m going to keep this really brief because I signed up to take an online writing class that starts in twenty minutes. But because I feel like I’ve succeeded at absolutely nothing today, I’m determined to actually get one of my end of the month posts written!

1 – Meal Plan Every Week

I did this! It actually felt like a really easy month for dinners. Maybe because I was just focusing on finding creative ways to use what I already had stocked away in the freezer, instead of being bogged down by pinterest and cookbooks and searching for the next new thing. I mean, I LOVE finding new recipes. But life was way too busy this month to add that to my plate. And you know what? It worked out great! Though maybe my family would disagree after eating tacos like six days in a row after Caden’s birthday!

2 – Watch Less, Listen More

I listened to two audiobooks this month. Which is a lot for me! I wish I had done more, but it really needs to be something I WANT or I’m not going to enjoy it. And despite my best efforts, I work SO much better when I’m binging a great tv show. But there are certainly aspects of the dollmaking process that are a better fit for ears only and I’d like to continue trying to listen more than I watch.

3 – Read Atomic Habits

I was hoping to finish this book by the end of the month, but I’m not even close. I really struggle with reading self help books quickly because they seem to be filled with such vital information and if I add too much to my brain at once I’ll short-circuit! So I’ve been making very slow progress on it, but I love it! It’s already given me so much to think about and start putting into practice. I fully intend on finishing it up, hopefully in October.

4 – No Working on Weeknights

I’m pretty certain I only worked at night one time in the month of September, but it was a night Greg and the boys were gone. I did technically edit photos and list some dolls last Thursday after we got back from my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner (and Greg called me out on it), BUT I really wanted them listed before I left for Cranberry Fest at 5am on Friday. It was a desperate situation.

5 – Take Care of Me

It’s definitely a work in progress. There were many days this month where I really felt like I was always doing the best things for myself – mainly: READING. I read a lot in September. Even on the craziest days, I somehow found time to slow down and do something I love. I do wish I had connected with people more. I saw some of my friends. We had a lot of larger family time for all the birthday festivities. But I’ve had almost no time alone with Greg and really no one on one time with my kids either. I started this whole new exercise regime last week, which has in turn helped me make some better eating choices (today I definitely fell off THAT wagon – ugh, the stress!). It’s a start.

Overall, September was a really good month! I’m always cautiously hopeful that things will go well once birthday season starts, but prepared for the worst. Other than a somewhat cold-ridden emotional Caden off and on, there really wasn’t anything BAD that happened. Which is honestly a miracle. I’d say that fall is off to a very good start!

August 2019 Reflections

We did it, guys! We survived August! Whew, what a month. It really flew by, but the things I did at the beginning of the month feel like a lifetime ago, so I guess it actually dragged on. I was busy! A mini vacation with Greg, a string of days with my family, my six day vacation in Texas for Book Bonanza, a ton of daytime activities with my kids, prepping for school, and ending with Annie’s bit up ear fiasco. A lot happened! I’m glad I kept my goal list pretty short. Overall – I think I did okay. Honestly, the best that I could.

1 – Family First

I almost didn’t even feel like I had a choice in the matter, but the boys really did come first during all of our days together. I kind of went MIA in the evenings, trying to either work or read. I haven’t spent much quality time with Greg. But I put the kids first and really tried to make every day special in some way. Even if it was just going to a park or walking to a local coffee shop for ice cream. We did SOMETHING together just about every day. And that feels like a summer well lived to me.

2 – Read like crazy!

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have set a goal of 15 books for the month because I was frantically trying to cram in more than half of those in the last week and a half. Why do I instantly rebel against so many goals I set for myself, but things like this I absolutely cannot let go of? Maybe because reading is fun?? 15 was a lot, though, in the midst of everything else. But I did it! I actually read 16. Though I sort of a little bit cheated by adding in a handful of graphic novels. Middle grade graphic novels at that. After August I’ve hit 99 books for the year. The pressure is really on for whatever book I pick next when I hit my goal of 100!

3 – Enjoy Texas to the Max

I did my best, I really did. I was so worried about missing out on things at Book Bonanza that I was constantly walking back and forth between my room and the conference center to just be part of the exciting book lovers’ paradise. I do regret not trying a little harder to make friends with people and for getting a little too obsessed with exploring Grapevine on the third day instead of just doing all the BB stuff. But I had fun nonetheless! The Dallas half of my trip wasn’t the greatest – it was SO DANG HOT. But I had a lot of time to read and rest and just relax, which was the point of that half of the trip anyway. My favorite thing was checking out all the amazing food at their farmers market.

4 – Prep and Plan a Ton of Dolls

This did not happen. Well, I did make 12 dolls for the shop. And I decided to take on 3 custom orders because so many people keep asking me for them. But then one of those custom order recipients decided to complain and argue with me that I did not use red thread on her doll’s nose (it was “burgundy,” she claimed), making it clash with her RAINBOW hair and dress. I apologized that she wasn’t happy about it and explained how I have only used one shade of red crochet thread for years and years and definitely did not accidentally use a shade darker for her doll (as if I even had any!). The whole ordeal upset me so much and basically turned me off from ever wanting to make custom dolls again. They’ve never been my favorite, but it’s nice to make people extra happy with something that has special meaning just to them. At any rate, I reallllllllly wanted to have a batch of fall dolls ready to list on Tuesday morning after I walk the boys to school. It’s not going to happen. There’s just no way. I haven’t even started and don’t want to spend every waking minute the next two days working. I’m frustrated, but I don’t know what I could have done differently to end this month on a better note. I’ll just have to make up for it in September, somehow.

And that’s it!

July 2019 Reflections

July is over! Where did it go?! These last few weeks really sped by, but we packed them pretty full. It was much more of a go go go lifestyle than I’m used to in summer. Though at the same time, we really haven’t done that many things I thought we’d be able to do. But dwelling on that will only make me feel like a failure and I don’t feel like I failed at all this month. It’s been a good month.

1 – Live by the mantra “No Extras”

Okay, I definitely failed at this one. I did cut my spending A LITTLE. But…PRIME DAY, you guys. I definitely indulged in a few book purchases, as well as some extras I didn’t absolutely need. I also went a bit crazy buying some new yarns for doll hair. It wasn’t great. But I also MAJORLY cut back on my in store purchases because I barely ever went to them.

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

I made 31 dolls in July. I didn’t have a very consistent work schedule, but probably averaged three full days a week of sewing, with a few hours here and there the other four days. I might have actually had more productive days than I have during the school year because I knew how focused I had to stay on work days in order to buy myself some freedom to do fun things with the boys the other days. I also had 27 sales in July, selling 32 dolls. For summer, that’s pretty great. Especially since none of those were holiday/seasonal dolls – just fun and creative dolls I made purely because I felt inspired to! I still don’t exactly feel like I earned a few weeks of vacation, especially since I didn’t adhere to my no spending rule. But…I want to enjoy my trips as much as possible and I’m not going to add on the pressure to sew any more until after I’m back from Texas.

3 – Enforce the no screens before noon rule

So, give an inch and they take a mile, right? ONE TIME I let them play early. Because a friend was over and she was upset about something and they were trying to cheer her up. I was really busy and just wanted them to leave me alone, so I gave in. And every single day since then they beg me allllll morning long to let them play early. SO FRUSTRATING. But besides that one time, I’ve stayed strong. I really wish they’d just accept it and move on with their lives instead of spending all morning every morning moaning about the rule. But…it worked.

4 – Go to at least 3 Madison dog parks

We went to two. And the second one was today. It was so hard to find the time! Plus it’s been crazy hot for most of July. I love the Madison dog parks, but it’s so hard to justify driving that far and not be able to run any errands or go into any restaurants or anything afterward. So earlier in the month we went to the Token Creek Dog Park. And today we went to one in Sun Prairie. BUT we took Annie with us to Cedar Lake on the 4th and we took her to a family reunion at a big park last week. So, four new places.

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

I did read a few books from my shelves, but not as many as I had hoped to. I’m still madly trying to pack in my Book Bonanza authors, and those books are all on my kindle. I’d definitely like to stay focused on reading my actual books in the coming months.

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

I never made a formal list, but we did come up with a few ideas here and there that we’d like to do before summer is over. Many of those we’ve already done! We went on an awesome two night vacation in Warren’s earlier this month, had a Madison foodie day with Grandma, and did a few local things. There are a couple of restaurants we’d still like to go to this summer, and a few outdoor things if the weather and time allows. But I think we’re doing a pretty great job of finding low key, yet memorable ways to spend our summer.

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

To be honest, I’ve had some emotionally rough days this month. But I’ve also had a lot of good days. I feel like I really hit my stride in taking proper care of myself and being alert to what I needed day by day, hour by hour. It definitely helped I had five friend get togethers! I had a great date night with Greg and we’re heading out tomorrow for a little getaway. I spent a few days hanging out with my mom, a few days with the other side of the family too. And I’ve done lots of fun things with the boys. The only thing I’ve really been lacking is substantial time to myself. But I’ve been making the most of the moments I can find. Today I was really itching to do something just for me, so I went to the antique mall to just walk around and hunt for treasures to add to my dolls. It was exactly what I needed. The only thing I’ve really been missing out on is solid chunks of exercise. I try to walk Annie when I can, but it’s hard to do in the hottest days. I should be doing things in the house, but…it’s hard. It’s really not the priority it should be. Survival is my only goal in summer!

That’s it for July! It’s probably one of the best summer months we’ve ever had. I usually try to give myself a break from sewing deadlines in summer, but I think having that outlet and direction to most of my days has been a really good thing. I start getting too emotional and anxious when I feel aimless. I really don’t have any regrets about the past month, and for summer? That’s AWESOME.

June 2019 Reflections

We’ve officially survived 1/3 of summer! I think overall, June went pretty well. It definitely helps to have the boys in summer school, giving all of us the structure we really need. I definitely felt guilty when I saw so many people I know going on trips and taking their kids to do really exciting things every day. We were more in survival mode over here. I’m sure I’ll do my best to give us some grand adventures in July and August, but for June I really liked the simplicity of every day being pretty much the same, with a weekly walk to the farmers market and lots of nighttime swimming at the pool. My kids really thrive on simplicity. I’ve learned my lesson time and time again in past summers that when I think taking them somewhere is going to be amazing, they usually end up hating it. It doesn’t stop me from trying, but it does help me not feel so guilty when we go weeks without anything “special.”

I only had four goals for June and I’m not sure I really did that great at accomplishing them. But…it’s summer. Here’s a quick recap.

1- Read like it’s my job!

I only managed to read 11 books. I gave up on two. One of the 11 was a cookbook and one was a pretty short book I read in an hour or less. I really did try to only pick out books that brought me joy, however. It was just hard to find the time and the justification to read a lot. The garage sale took a massive amount of my time the first half of the month and work swallowed up the second. I really wanted to read two amazing nonfiction books that I felt would set me up for some better mental health this summer, but I rarely sat down with them. They will probably be added to my July goals.

2 – Have one awesome fresh start clutter clearing garage sale

We did it! I think it was actually really successful too! We priced everything so cheaply because we truly just wanted to get rid of it. The last day we did fill a bag for $1, which cleared out probably 2/3 of what we had left after the first two days. The only downside is that it’s now been over two weeks and we still haven’t finished cleaning up from the sale. Greg took all the remaining clothes to Goodwill immediately that day. And he’s slowly been cleaning out the piles and piles of empty tubs. But some of the tables are still set up, all of the books, most of the random household stuff. We’re maybe going to donate it to the preschool garage sale in town, but it’s still a matter of packing it up and bringing it over there. It feels like too much work.

3 – Embrace the chaos

I feel like I did well at this. Though I might only feel that way because I’m having a relatively good day TODAY. I know I’ve had my share of emotional meltdowns too. It’s hard having everyone home almost all the time. It’s harder having all of them home and feeling like I have to spend my entire day making food and cleaning up after them because nobody can be bothered to help me no matter how many times I ask. Clearer rules and more emotional fortitude on my part need to be woven into our days to make the rest of summer a success.

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

Ugh. Fail. AGAIN. I think I did one video lesson earlier in the month. And I wrote one blog post beyond my usual weekly/monthly posts. Not great!! Wednesdays ended up being really busy out of the house days. But that’s not really an excuse. I just decided to devote most of my time to other pursuits. I’m not sure assuming I’ll find any real writing time during the summer is a good idea. Obviously I hope to! But I think forcing myself to have a solid day devoted to it is something I should wait until fall for.

I’m not as concerned about sticking with my goals in summertime, but it’s still nice to have them to try and guide my time and energy. June felt like kind of a bust, but I have some good ideas stewing for July!

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!!