More Than a Number

This is only the second time in my life I have actively been trying to lose weight. I don’t like diets, I hate feeling deprived. I have been of the mindset for the last many, many years that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and that generally includes making and eating delicious food. I want to accept who I am, no matter what I look like on the outside, as long as I’m doing my best to be kind and happy and joyful on the inside. I want to believe that I will be loved by my husband and my kids, whether I’m overweight or not. And if I love me and they love me, then does it really matter?

Well, when it starts to negatively affect your health, then yes, I think it matters. As much as I am loathe to admit it. Getting the high pressure blood medication two months ago was quite a wake up call to me. Having a liver ultrasound that could have potentially given me some very bad news was definitely the jolt that pushed me over the line and made me say that yes, I DO need to lose weight. I need to be healthier. I need to live longer. I need to set a better example to my kids so they can in turn be healthier and live longer and set good examples to their own children.

I have started making some pretty major changes in the last two weeks. I refuse to say that I’m on a diet, because I don’t want this to be a temporary thing. I am working really hard to genuinely change the way I think about food and what I decide to put into my body. I don’t want to live like I am denying myself. Which is definitely how it felt that first week. The second week has been easier. I still catch myself a little bit desperate to sneak into the pantry at the slightest hunger pang. It’s been taking an arsenal of tips and tricks to avoid the things that are bad for me. I’m not entirely confident I can stay on this path for the rest of my life. But I’ve also been seeing so many changes in just two weeks – changes beyond just the number on the scale – that I’m feeling much more confident about this journey than I was even a couple of days ago.

On the Noom program, they require you to weigh yourself every single morning. I believe on Weight Watchers, at least when I did it six years ago, you are supposed to weigh in once a week. I was strongly against doing it every day, until almost every morning when I see the scale drop a little bit more. That’s about the best motivation ever. But I also know there will be days it’ll go back up. Like the other night when I had my late night peanut butter toast and a Kit Kat bar after hating what I made for dinner and feeling extremely hungry. I knew the scale would go back up and it did. But today, even after eating out for lunch yesterday and sitting in a car for almost the entire day, it went back down. I love the encouragement of it going down, but live in terror of it going up. I don’t want to live like this either. I don’t want my entire life to be structured around food and calories and beating myself up over making mistakes or refusing to let myself indulge in special circumstances. I want to be more than that number and it scares me how much that number has affected my thoughts all day long in the last week and a half.

My goal as I continue on this journey to better health and happiness is to focus on all the changes beyond the number on the scale. I’m quickly realizing there are so many benefits to eating healthier besides my actual weight dropping. I love that to coincide with thinking about this, my Noom article this morning had a huge list of potential changes. I’m going to list a lot of them now (almost word for word from Noom), so I can remember them in the future. These are the things I want to focus on as I pick an orange from the fridge instead of pretzels from the pantry. As I skip that third taco and eat a small salad instead. As I avoid the aisles in the grocery stores that I know hold my biggest temptations. As I go for an evening walk instead of eating a dessert for the fifth night in a row. These are the changes I want to see and celebrate and take with me as solid encouragement that it is worth a little upheaval to be a healthier human being.

Physical Changes

  • Weight loss
  • Inches lost
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Clothes fitting better (please, yes!)
  • Working out longer and with more intensity
  • Less aches and pains

Psychological Changes

  • More confidence in my skin
  • Less anxiety in uncomfortable situations
  • Limiting myself to one dessert
  • Conquering a trigger
  • Eating a mindful meal
  • Feeling empowered to make the healthier choice
  • Feeling pretty great about life

Social Changes

  • Being more social
  • Being complimented by others
  • Choosing healthier choices at a restaurant
  • Resisting temptations at the grocery store
  • Turning down treats I don’t actually want
  • Getting my family turned on to healthier food

Other Progress

  • Meal prepping for the week (yes! all three meals!)
  • Cooking new recipes
  • Bringing lunch with me on long errand days
  • Trying new healthy foods
  • Developing a distaste for unhealthy food
  • Cooking at home more often than eating out
  • Taking the stairs or the long route more often
  • Reaching step goals every day

For me, I really just want to feel better. Physically and mentally. I don’t want to feel bloated and slow and heavy anymore. I want to have a lot more energy to just be a better person overall. I’d like to think that despite a few temporary setbacks when knowing something I really want has too many calories, I’ve been happier this last week and a half. My brain has felt so much more clear and focused. I would LOVE to see the scale keep dropping and I’d love for my clothes to fit better and to feel more confident in my skin. But just plain FEELING better has been a pretty great motivator. I hope I can keep it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thoughts on My First Creative Writing Workshop

Well, I did it! I pushed my anxiety aside and promptly walked myself over to the library annex last night to attend my first creative writing workshop.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. There were nine people, including the instructor and the library employee that didn’t consider herself a writer, but was sitting in. You didn’t need to be a writer to be there, you just needed to want to write, love to write, appreciate the written word. I think that was the best part – spending two and a half hours in a small circle of like-minded people who enjoy writing as much as me. Sometimes I feel so incredibly isolated in all of my passionate endeavors. I know they obviously must be out there, but it’s pretty rare for me to interact with anyone else in my real outside of the internet life that enjoy writing, reading, sewing. So it felt like quite the treat to meet a group of people that could come together simply for the love of writing.

The author who created the workshop writes YA and middle grade fiction. It was interesting that within the group there were two aspiring novelists, a legacy writer, a children’s book writer, two poets, a man who has never written anything but was curious about it, and me – who specified my writing as “nonfiction.” Which was apparently interpreted as wanting to write how to manuals? When I later clarified I was interested more in the personal essay type style, I received a lot of understanding grunts. I’m not even sure if that’s the correct classification of the type of writing I enjoy doing. All I know is that I don’t write fiction. And I’m not entirely sure I’d ever want to. But in order to stretch my creative writing muscles, perhaps it’s something I will soon try.

Over the course of the evening, we went through a packet of papers that was clearly geared toward writing a fictional novel. It felt incredibly overwhelming to me. Hence my aversion to writing fiction, as much as I LOVE reading it. It was things I heard before in high school and my college English Writing major courses. But it’s not something I’ve given thought to in the last fifteen years. I liked learning more about book structure and themes and dialogue. But it was also making me feel a bit panicked about how hard writing a novel must surely be. I keep hearing the advice that if you want to be a writer, JUST START WRITING. This workshop made me feel like I’d need to do a massive amount of research and planning before I could even sit down at the computer. And the pressure to word everything so perfectly is overwhelming!

We participated in three creative writing exercises while we were there. In the first, we were given a random photograph and were supposed to tell a story about it. This reminded me of an exercise we occasionally did in high school orchestra – the conductor would play a long piece of classical music and we had to write an accompanying story about it as quickly as possible. I LOVED when we did those exercises. This photograph prompt felt more challenging because I’m not used to making up stories on the fly like that. It might be something I’ll try again this month in my daily writing exercises!

The second exercise was to create a unique dialog between two characters from a list of ten starting statements. I chose, “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again!” I chose it because that line is said almost daily in our house when interacting with a very angry child. I didn’t need to make anything up for this one, I just wrote a version of arguments we have with him almost every single night.

The third exercise was supposed to be told through a one of the senses other than sight. I chose to describe a first kiss. Which may or may not have been factual. ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the things I was most worried about when going to this class was being forced to share writing when I wasn’t prepared to. Fortunately, we were all given the option to share our responses to these prompts and there was no pressure to share if you were uncomfortable. About half the people shared for each exercise. I did not volunteer. But I was surprised to find that I kind of wanted to. I kept extremely quiet during the entire evening, only spoken when asked a direct question. But part of me really did want to jump into some of the discussion, which I’m taking as a sign that I was meant to be there.

My takeaway from the evening was that writing is awesome and it’s something I want to pursue with greater time and intention than I have in the last few years. I would love to write a book, someday, but also think that maybe it’s not really in the cards for me. I like to write for the sake of writing. I like to talk about my life. I like to set goals and evaluate how well I did on them. I like to journal about every tiny moment of interest that happens to me in a day. But to find a central theme and write an entire book about it still feels way too daunting. I did find out from a few people in the workshop that UW Madison offers a bunch of continuing education writing classes. I just looked up them up and they’re not very expensive, so I think that’s something I might look into in the coming months. Probably not this month – I have enough going on with all this weight loss drama. And next month is busy with Christmas. But maybe in January?!

Overall, it was an inspirational night that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope there will be another one offered soon!

November 2018 Goals

Happy November! I can’t believe with the flip of the calendar we are now a mere THREE WEEKS away from Thanksgiving and then it’s basically Christmas! This month is going to fly by. Typically one of our slowest months of the year (thanks goodness!) I’m looking forward to a hopefully somewhat slower schedule and maybe actually getting some things done this month before the pace picks back up again in December. I’ve landed on five specific goals to try and get me to where I want to be at the end of the month.

1. Write EVERY DAY

I’ve been toying with the idea of joining National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for over a year. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a program where people all over the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I love how given the short time span it can really drive people to do something they’ve always dreamed of doing – with the support of thousands of others. The problem, for me, is that fiction does not call to me. I feel like I only have words inside of me that are true to ME. Not stories about made up people and plots. So, I’m not going to write a novel this month. But I AM going to write. Every single day. I’m a little bit tempted to still try and hit that word count, but I don’t think I need the additional pressure. My daily writing will instead come in the form of extra blog posts (be prepared for a bit more creativity than just recapping my weeks!), journal entries that I just write for myself, and maybe, possibly, a short story or two. I’m still feeling pretty apprehensive about it, but I’m also going to a creative writing workshop tonight, and that will maybe help boost me along on this journey. I’m very nervous about opening myself up to a group of strangers IN PERSON about what I’m writing, but I keep reminding myself how the creative writing class I took in high school was my all time favorite class of my entire schooling career, so maybe it’s worth going to this single one hour class!

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

As I’ve shared in abundance these last few weeks, I am on an official mission to lose some weight to better my health. I next see my doctor at the end of January and I need to prove to her, and myself, that I’m giving my full effort to this weight loss journey. I was toying with a bunch of different goals for this month. Eat a specific number of fruits and vegetables a day. Walk 10,000 steps every single day. Stay within a certain calorie limit every day. Instead, I decided to go with something that I can take full and complete control over and succeed with by the end of the month.

I’ve fallen into the really bad habit of going through drive thrus basically any day that I’m out running errands, which can be 2-3 times a week. I’m always starving and know I’m going to be way too tired to make myself a meal by the time I get back home and unload all my groceries. Grabbing a chicken sandwich at Wendy’s to eat on my drive back home feels harmless. And I think it is – in extreme moderation. It really adds up and contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle when it’s happening multiple times a week. Anyway, I am committing to planning out my errand days to avoid this desperate need to get a fast lunch. I’ll eat a better breakfast. I’ll have a quick lunch already half made for me in the fridge. I’ll bring along a water bottle and a healthy snack to tide me over. And if I know it’s going to be a really long day of errands? Eating out is okay. If that was my choice all along and I picked a place that I will go inside and sit down and make it worth my time and calories because I planned it into my day that way. I’m also not saying NO fast food, because I know there will be a few instances this month where I might be out with the boys and it’s a big treat for them to go out, so it might happen. But I’m going to really, really limit it and stop eating it just for convenience sake.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

This might be a hard one to calculate, but I’m going to do my best! This year we’re planning to have a leaner Christmas and I’m hoping gift buying will be a bit more manageable and affordable than it’s been in the past. It’s been a very expensive year with all my medical bills and hopefully everyone understands our need to start being more frugal. Which is really hard for this woman whose primary love language is gift giving! But I’m hoping to really double down this month to research out the perfect gifts for everyone and get most of our shopping done. I think the hardest to buy for will be the boys! They don’t play with toys anymore, they don’t play with legos anymore, they already own every outdoor sporty play equipment imaginable, they have more video games than they’re ever allowed to play, and Caden still has a massive pile of books he got last Christmas and refuses to read because he prefers to keep rereading all of his favorites. What does that leave!? Plus needing gifts for St. Nick’s, from us, and from Santa. I’m CLUELESS this year. I need to get that creative brain working and come up with some solid ideas!

4. Writing a Book Bonanza reading list

As you can see, I was trying to write really tangible goals this month that are measurable and obtainable! This will be a fun one! But it’s also been something I’ve had on my to do list every day for the last month and still haven’t set aside time to work on. I’m going to Book Bonanza next August and it’s filled with tons of authors – most of which I’ve never even heard of. So I want to go through the list and then research all of their books, and choose one from each author to try and read by then. I know Book Bonanza will be a much more enriching experience if I at least have some knowledge of as many authors as possible.

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

I mentioned in my October recap how I continue to leave the least amount of quality time with Caden. He is 100% a daddy’s boy and really has zero interest in ever doing anything with me. Usually I just tell myself that if he doesn’t want to do anything, I’m definitely not going to force him. But this weekend I’m going to make him sit down with me for two minutes to figure out something we can do together in the coming weeks that we would both enjoy. I know it’ll still be ridiculously hard to get him to actually GO on that date with me when it means knowing Shepard is at home getting all the Daddy attention. But we are going to do it!

And that’s it! Have a great November!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.28.2018

My final update for the day! I don’t have a whole lot to say since I just recapped my DC trip and all of our Halloween festivities. But in between all the fun of the last few weeks, there’s also been a lot of sadness and worry and stress. All in all, I’m having a pretty rough October.

On the day before my DC trip, I had my first follow up with my new internal doctor to discuss how things are going after a month on the new blood pressure medication. We discussed all the original tests and bloodwork she had done in September and all the possible things that could be wrong with me and why, and honestly, I just left the office feeling very fat shamed. I realize I am very overweight. But I also try to just love myself as I am and be okay with it. I don’t WANT to be unhealthy, but I also don’t want to focus my entire life around it. At my first appointment this doctor let me feel like I was okay if I felt okay with myself. This time she wasn’t exactly mean or demeaning, but I still left feeling terrible about myself AND scared about my internal health. I had more blood tests to see if anything had changed in that month.

Later in the day I got my results back that a few of the wacky numbers had righted themself – like my thyroid potential issues were suddenly a lot better, which seemed like an odd one. But the scary thing is that my liver panels were not looking good and I’d need to have an ultrasound done to see what’s going on. She sent the actual lab work, which of course I started googling and all the potential problems – cirrhosis, hepatitis, CANCER – were pretty terrifying. I spent that Wednesday night and Thursday night in DC awake more often than sleeping just worrying nonstop about what could be wrong with me.

On top of all that – I just felt very alone in it because Greg was highly distracted by the fact that he thought he found a bedbug on Caden’s ceiling. So he was tearing the entire house apart and freaking out about that, while I was silently freaking out that I might find out in a week that I’m dying. It was a bad few days. Long, long story short on the bedbug stuff – it was actually a soft tick that had come down from the attic, somehow. No bedbug. No bedbugs at our house in August after that hotel fiasco. No bedbugs at our house after the boys’ Kalahari fiasco a few weeks ago. We even had an exterminator search the entire house a few days ago and not a single bug to be found. We ARE bedbug free and always have been, and I just never, ever want to think about or talk about bedbugs again.

Anyway, my vacation proved to be a worthy distraction from the health stuff for a couple of days while I enjoyed friend time, delicious yet not overly fattening food, and got a ton of exercise. But by the time I got on that flight back home Monday morning it all came crashing back to me. I had to get through a very stressful, sad for reasons I’m not going to get into, and really rough few days with Caden before I had my ultrasound on Friday morning. I was almost in full blown panic attack mode by the time Friday rolled around, worrying about what the results were going to be.

The ultrasound was relatively painless. It was just stressful because I had to keep holding my breath for long periods of time and after awhile I started getting pretty panicky about it. I left the office with the tech telling me the doctor would get back to me within a week. I was determined to push it from my mind and have fun over the weekend, assuming it would be at the earliest Monday before I heard anything. But then, less than an hour later, the doctor messaged me that my result was mild fatty liver. Which of course isn’t great news, but it’s probably the least threatening news I could have gotten. I don’t think there’s a way to completely reverse having a fatty liver, but with some diet changes and weight loss, it should get better. She left me with the advice to lose weight and get checked again in three months.

So. It was a relief. And it was also a solid hit to the head that I NEED to make a huge part of my life about losing weight, whether I want to or not. And that scares me to death. A couple of years back I did a three month trial of Weight Watchers. I did lose 18 lbs in those three months. And I HATED every minute of it. I constantly felt deprived and hungry and seriously angry at how much time I was forced to think about what I was eating. Despite how much weight I gained in the last few years after going off birth control pills (post vasectomy), I’ve never wanted to do a weight loss program again. But now, I think I have to. And I just don’t feel strong enough to do it. I’ve had enough crazy life changing thoughts in the last few months already between work stuff and family stuff and friend stuff – how can I handle changing the entire way I eat on top of it all?! Especially when how I eat also affects how the rest of my family eats and they all have their own thoughts and opinions that they are none too happy to complain to me about. It’s so much pressure to change such a massive chunk of my life and I don’t feel like I can handle it.

In an attempt to take a step in the right direction, I signed up for a two week trial with the weight loss program Noom. I think I originally heard about it through a facebook ad and I’ve been mulling the option around for a couple of months now. After some encouragement from my friend Laura at a dinner the other night, I decided to follow through and sign up. So, it’s only my fourth day. And I’m not really sure it’s for me. Part of it is just the stress of suddenly being accountable to a program, especially in the midst of like a Halloween party filled with amazing food and today with all those leftovers sitting around. But part of it just really doesn’t seem doable. I have to track all of my food and stay in an extremely limited calorie amount. Foods are divided into three categories – green, yellow, and red. You’re supposed to eat 30% green (fresh produce and whole grains), 45% yellow (lean meats and non-fat dairy are the only examples I got), and 25% red (sugars, carbs, fats, etc.). In four days, NOTHING I have eaten has fallen into the yellow category. 90% of it is red. I mean, I do generally only eat chicken as a protein, but we also had pizza at Spookfest, pizza on Friday, cheese based food at the party, and cheese food leftovers today. My healthy cereal I’ve been eating every day for breakfast is also a red food. And I only get 300 calories of red a day. Anyway, all that to say, it’s hard. And their food database is very limited. You can’t scan in food labels, import recipes, or build recipes. You have to input each ingredient and assign full nutritional facts to everything that’s not already in their system – which is a lot of things based on my 3.5 days of using it. Trying to keep up with this feels obnoxiously annoying. I would much rather just log my eating and limit my calorie intake using a free app like myfitnesstracker. I’d almost rather do Weight Watchers again when food has a point system instead and fruits and vegetables are almost all 0 points.

The other major immediate downfall I’m seeing on Noom is that they want to track your steps – but they will only track through your phone. Do you know what percentage of the day my phone is actually on my body?? Maybe 10%? Often less, I’d guess. I carry it from room to room, but I’m rarely even wearing pants that have pockets, so it’s definitely not on my person! Why can it not let me sync my fitbit? Yesterday I had ten times more steps on my fitbit than I did on my phone. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, the reason I picked Noom in the first place is that they provide one on one and group support through the journey. They focus on the psychological triggers between food and health choices, which felt like it might work well for me. But after a couple of days I’m seriously doubting my ability to follow through with this. It’s supposed to be a 16 week program, but they make you pay for six months after the two week trial and it isn’t cheap. At the moment I’m thinking I’ll give it my best effort for two weeks and then use what I learn to try and launch myself into my own monitoring system. Obviously I’d like to lose a lot of weight in the long run. At least to get back to where I was before I rapidly started gaining post birth control pills. But my initial goal is to lose 10 lbs by my next appointment, three months from now. That feels doable. Then I’d like to work on losing 10%. And go from there. I’m not happy about any of this, but I know it’ll be so much better for my health in the long run. There’s just such a huge psychological component to it that’s really making things hard for me at this exact moment. But hopefully, I will get over it.

I didn’t mean to go so in depth about all that, but well…I like to write and I like to share when I’m in a space where I don’t feel judged because very few people are probably even reading this in the first place! Writing about this more often might make it easier for me to follow through. So expect more on this topic!

SUNDAY INTENTIONS

So! It’s Sunday! It is also my self declared lazy day after two very packed and stressful weeks. All I have done today is alternate between writing blog posts, reading a couple of different books, and taking a nap. I’m still in my pajamas, at 4pm. Caden’s friends have been here all day, but I don’t think they noticed. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m too worn out to care.

I’m hoping that this week life might start going back to normal. October has been such a weird month. So many random errands and appointments and school functions that I’ve just been so busy and all over the place. I’ve been having all these mixed feelings about sewing, which have resulted in me just plain not doing it. There are certainly enough other things to keep me busy, but I think after like three to four weeks off, I’m ready to get back to work. If I want some money rolling back in, I NEED to get back to work. So messed up focus or not, I want to work this week. At least make one batch of dolls. Say, three dolls. I can do that. I WILL do that. Despite having things going on every night this week, my days are open, with the exception of a day to run errands. I can work.

Nighttime, though! That’s busy. We have our usual piano lessons and lego league on Monday, Shepard starts art club on Tuesday, the boys have dentist appointments on Wednesday, I’m considering going to a creative writing workshop that’s starting in town on Thursday (I’ll probably chicken out), and Friday there is an early release and Caden has his well child check up. And one of those nights the boys will be with the grandparents, as usual. Busy busy! I really can’t get over how chaotic our fall has been. I suppose it will only get worse as the boys get older and join more activities. It’s been kind of hard to adjust to, though. I’m hoping our winter will be a lot quieter.

Anyway, that’s about it for updates! I’m all caught up! It’s also the end of the month, so I guess you’ll be hearing from me a lot in the next few days with my tv and book posts. Happy Halloween week!

My DC Vacation and Trying to Catch Up!

Good morning! It’s been awhile! I’m continuing to be in a pretty weird headspace this month and haven’t had a lot of time or drive to write any blog posts. But now I’m starting to feel very behind on what’s been happening and I need to get back to my recaps! I’m going to break these last two weeks up, to make for more manageable reading content. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last Thursday I was finally able to take my trip to DC. I’ve visited my best friend Dianne there multiple times in the last few years, but always in September or October. This year was going to be different and we had an extensive trip planned out for April, centering around seeing the famous cherry blossoms. And then I broke my ankle. Stupidly (seriously), the PA at the doctor’s office told me I’d definitely still be able to take that April trip, I’d just be slower. Well, at the beginning of April I still couldn’t put any weight on my ankle, I could barely move around on my scooter, and there was NO WAY I would have survived solo travel across the country where I’d have to depend on public transportation to get me around for five days. Craziness. Anyway, we rescheduled for October and I think it was the perfect timing for me physically and weather-wise. I’m really glad it all worked out!

I left on Thursday afternoon and stopped at the huge Marshall’s on the way to the airport. (I’m obsessed.) Then I had just enough time to get through security, enjoy a salad at the airport Chili’s, and read a few minutes before boarding. I was nervous about my metal ankle plate setting off the metal detectors, but it either didn’t register, or the security people could see what it was on the x-ray machine thingy. I’ve yet to go through a regular metal detector, so I’m curious to see if I’ll set off alarms on those. Anyway, travel to DC was fast and easy. It’s amazing how far you can travel on just an hour and fifteen minute smooth flight! Dianne met me at the airport and we took the metro back to her apartment. It was getting late by that point so we just went to bed.

I wasn’t feeling the greatest on Friday, mostly from a couple nights of not great sleep and just travel in general. Dianne went to work, so I had the day to take at my own pace. I read for awhile in the morning and then just ventured out to the next metro stop to shop at Marshall’s (ha!) and Target. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous. But then I had lunch at Cava, my all time favorite DC quick food option. I guess it doesn’t look particularly appealing in the photo, but it is sooooo good. The apple cinnamon vanilla iced tea was amazing too. After lunch I went back to the apartment to take a nap and felt a lot better after that.

After my nap I took a little stroll through the neighborhood shops. There was a bookstore and a few little gift places. I had coffee at this tiny little shop, sitting on the porch while I watched a ton of squirrels playing together. Then I took the metro to Chinatown and mostly just wandered around. There is shopping in that area, but I didn’t do any research ahead of time and ended up just wandering down quieter streets and looking for benches to rest for awhile. It was supposed to be my resting day to gear up for more walking over the weekend, but I still ended up with over 15,000 steps all three days.

I met up with Dianne at a place called Dirty Habit for cocktails Friday evening. It was kind of like a hotel’s rooftop/courtyard bar area and also the place where her husband Jack proposed to her. It was a really cool place! We had some sort of orange and champagne cocktails.

Next we went to a couple of shops (I bought a super cute pair of earrings) and then had dinner at a place called Oyamel. We had reservations so we were able to get in right away, but we were seated next to the bar which was SO LOUD. But the food was good! I ordered chicken verde enchiladas and mango agua fresca, which was so tasty. Dianne had tacos, but everything was served small plate style, so we were still hungry and ended up ordering a second round of crispy brussel sprouts and mole french fries, which weren’t as yummy. But it was a cool restaurant!

On the way back we stopped at a cider place near her apartment to get another drink.

I only had the tasting size, but whew! That was enough! We asked the bartender for the sweetest one, but I guess that in turn meant it had the highest alcohol content. I drank it, but don’t think cider is really my drink! We played a few rounds of bananagrams while we were there, which was really fun!

On Saturday morning, Dianne rented a zipcar and we drove to the National Arboretum. I only knew this even existed through a post Anne Bogel wrote earlier this year about her visit there, so I was excited to check it out too! There were a lot of different gardens and walking trails and these columns from the original (I think…) White House. The woodsy trails just looked a lot like Wisconsin woodsy trails, but it was really fun, peaceful, and pretty to walk through everything.

The best part, though, was seeing all the bonsai trees! I took a picture of basically every tree. I don’t think it made this collage, but it was really cool to see the oldest bonsai in the US, which started growing in the 1600’s!! My favorites were the ones that looked like itty bitty forests. I also liked the ones that were more unique plant varieties. It was so awesome just seeing all of them in one area like that.

Next on our agenda was DC’s Union Market, which was a big building filled with unique little restaurant booths. It wasn’t too crowded yet, so we had time to walk through and check everything out. We both decided on Korean chicken tacos from Takorean, a place Dianne has eaten at before and always sounded delicious to me. They were great!

We took a walk around the outside of the building to check out all the instagrammable spots.

And then back inside because I wanted to get one of these amazing looking donuts for dessert. It was so light and fluffy. Really good meal!

On the way back to the apartment we stopped at the farmer’s market right across the street. I didn’t get anything, but it’s always fun to check out the markets in different areas of the country. Back inside I took a little reading break while Dianne went for a run and then we headed back out to do some shopping. I got an amazing iced mocha from Pret and at Loft I picked out a great black and gray polka dot scarf. Then we went to the theater to watchย The Hate U Give. I’ve been anxious to see it after reading the book and it didn’t disappoint! It was heavy, though! As expected.

For dinner we went to a place called Timber. Dianne had given me a gift certificate to go there as a birthday present and I intended to go Friday for lunch, but it wasn’t open – which was fine because I got some awesome Cava instead. Timber was pretty packed, so we ended up getting it to go and eating back at the apartment. Then we settled in for the night with our food and a movie. I was definitely ready to relax by then!

On Sunday morning, Dianne reserved a car to rent so we could drive to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a cute little city she’d been to a couple of times and thought I’d enjoy seeing. We had a few hiccups with our car rental and ended up with a huge van. It was fun driving there because I got to be in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia all in about a three minute span. My first time in WV! We were able to grab the last parking spot in the town’s very limited lot and had a fast breakfast at a little cafe. This blueberry scone was SO good. The plain coffee, not so much. But it was hot and that was all that really mattered. It was SO COLD on Sunday.

Next we walked a bit of the Appalachian Trail! The picture makes it look like it was rainy, but really it was just gloomy and freezing cold and super windy. But the trail and the town itself were beautiful!

We walked up a big hill to see a rock that Jefferson once stood on. The city was built on a hill, so I did a more stair climbing and hill walking than I have in basically forever (31 flights according to my fitbit!). It was rough on my ankle, but I survived!! When the sun came out Harpers Ferry looked so quaint and lovely.

There weren’t a ton of things to see, but we did go into all the little shops. I liked the bookstore and a candy shop that sold “candy” that people would have eaten from biblical times through today. It was really interesting to see the progression. Overall, I loved getting out of DC and seeing something unique and special! It was so awesome how Dianne had the whole trip planned out so well.

Before leaving we got lunch at a small cafe. It was simple, but really hit the spot after all the walking and climbing.

Next on our agenda was a stop in the city of Frederick, Maryland. They have a big downtown filled with unique shops. I bought Greg and the boys some fun candy and I got myself some tea and spices. Then we headed back to the apartment and finished the night at their local taqueria. This might have been the tastiest meal of the trip. If I had a taqueria in my neighborhood with those prices I’d be there every day!! The fried chicken taco with the habanero salsa was so good. I also had some Mexican creamy rice that didn’t make the photo, but was really good. It was a great end the day!

On Monday morning we just got ready and headed out. Everything was timed pretty well so I had plenty of time for every mode of transportation, but was never just sitting around and bored for long stretches. The day still seemed to last forever, but it was good to be home. Vacations are great, but it’s always nice to settle back in at home. But yes – overall, a great little getaway that took my mind off of a lot of stressful things for a few days. I really needed it and had a lot of fun!

Birthday Week Reflections 10.07.2018

Hello! Well, today is my 34th birthday and I’m at the end of celebrating my birthday week. I feel like I’ve kind of been getting some passive aggressive flak for all of my mini celebration pictures I’ve been posting online the last few days. I’m not going to apologize for it, guys. If you want a birthday week, YOU CAN HAVE ONE. The only person stopping you is yourself. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like to think of my birthday as a weeklong celebration because it really takes the pressure off of having one really special and perfect day. Because let’s face it – if you have kids, a job, a life of any sort – it’s pretty hard to pull off a perfect day. So to try and stave off that disappointment, I spread things out so I have something little to look forward to every day. Plus, the only way you can really celebrate with everyone is to have a big party. And maybe it’s just me, but it feels a bit more embarrassing to throw yourself a huge party every year, as an adult. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a hard enough time just asking a couple of friends to give up a night to come out with me. Anyway, little daily celebrations it is!

So! Monday started off with Caden waking us up super early because he was sick. Already interrupting my plans. But after a lot of extra sleep he was feeling a lot better, so I left him with a package of saltines, video games, and his open chromebook so he could keep in constant messaging contact with me, and ran out to do the errands I desperately needed to do as fast as possible. And then I squeezed in a fast lunch at Qdoba. I was dying to try their Chicken Diablo nachos. They were so tasty, but crazy messy!

The rest of Monday was packed with cleaning out the pantry and fridge, doing a lot of housework and laundry, and making a big batch of chicken noodle soup for dinner. After school Shepard had his first piano lesson. He was SO excited about it!

I was super excited on Monday night because the announcement came through that Book Bonanza 2019 tickets were on sale! They had their first book bonanza this last August, in Denver, at the same time we were in LaCrosse. I found out about it way too late to have gone, but I was so jealous of everyone there! It is organized by Colleen Hoover (my favorite), but features a ton of authors. Rachel Hollis was even one of the keynote speakers at that conference. Anyway, I was anxiously awaiting to hear when and where next year’s bonanza would be and at the beginning of September they announced it would be in Dallas. In August. Blech. It was also more expensive than I was expecting and just kind of wrote it off and not going to happen, even though I was super disappointed. ANYWAY, come Monday, I was telling Greg that tickets finally went on sale and he told me I should buy my ticket! I couldn’t believe he was serious, but that’s the kind of guy he is. ๐Ÿ™‚ So even though it feels like a totally self indulgent and expensive solo vacation, I am going to Book Bonanza next year!!!! 48 hours of author panels and signings and keynote speeches and yummy food all in an amazing looking hotel filled with fellow book lovers just outside of Dallas. I’ve never been to Texas, so that’ll be exciting too, even though I don’t think I’ll see anything besides Grapevine, the city where the hotel is. But still! Even though it’s 10 months away, I am so psyched. I have my room booked too because it’s all at the same place. So I just need to find a flight, sometime.

On Tuesday morning I had to go back to Fitchburg to get some quick lab work done. I had originally planned to stop at World Market afterward and then spend an hour or two at the big Barnes and Noble before getting back home in early afternoon. Instead I overbooked myself, AGAIN, and went to like ten stores. By the time I got to Barnes and Noble I was so exhausted that I left after five minutes. It was still a nice day, but I was kind of mad at myself for not just sticking to the thing I was really looking forward to.

Tuesday after school we lost Shepard again. This time it was a mixup because the boys had a new meetup plan, but Shepard forgot about it during the day and never found Caden. Caden ran to school, talked to all of Shepard’s friends who hadn’t seen him, and ran all the way back home to get me. Once again, it was pretty scary, but only lasted a few minutes before we found him. It made me realize that we just need to be a lot more consistent. It’s unfair to expect a 7 year old to remember all the different plans every single day.

Wednesday was the only day I took Annie on a longer walk and then I had my first Writing Wednesday, writing a few blog posts. Annie had a grooming appointment in the afternoon. While she was gone my birthday present from Steve and Cindy arrived – a new bookcase!!!

The guys spent the night building it for me while I read on the chair.

Annie found the most awkward spot to sleep while it was being built! ๐Ÿ™‚ It took me until Saturday to get my books set up, but I’m not quite happy with my arrangement yet. I’ll get a picture up when I figure out the rest!

On Thursday morning Shepard lost a tooth that’s been barely hanging on for the last six weeks. He HATES losing teeth. But I think he was really relieved that it came out with little fanfare this time around. He just woke up and it fell out of his mouth!

Thursday was mostly a workday, pretty uneventful. Then I went out to one of my favorite restaurants, Monk’s, with two of my friends.

I really appreciate that they made time to come out with me. I was in kind of a depressed mood earlier in the day, thinking about how drastically my friend situation has changed in the last few years. On my 30th birthday I had about 14 awesome friends go out to Chili’s with me and it was amazing. And now every year I have fewer and fewer of those friendships left. Everyone is so busy. It’s just a whole issue I’m having a really hard time reconciling with. But it’s also not really something I can talk openly about without probably hurting or ruining the friendships I have left. At any rate, it was nice to go out. It hasn’t happened in a long time!

On Friday I worked for a couple more hours and then went to seeย A Star is Born by myself. It was so good!! I wasn’t really prepared for the ending which left me in a pretty somber mood, but I thought Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper had amazing chemistry. I really enjoyed it. It’s also been so long since I’ve been to a movie! It’s one of my favorite things, going by myself during the day. I hope I can make it a more regular thing now that better movies are going to start popping up again! After the movie I FINALLY spent some more time at Barnes and Noble. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then for dinner I met Greg and the boys and my in-law’s at Willie Ty’s. I really just wanted to go there for all their flavored aiolis! I wasn’t feeling super hungry, so I just picked a regular grilled cheese and savored my sweet potato fries with habanero aioli.

We came back to our house for birthday cupcakes and a couple more gifts. It was a really nice night!

Birthday flowers, from Cindy.

I had a pretty lazy Saturday. I contemplated going to the farmer’s market, but I’ve been running around so much the last few weeks it just wasn’t appealing to me. So I spent a few hours working and a few hours reading and resting. We made a pizza for lunch that turned into a monster.

Mid afternoon we went to my favorite place to get pumpkins in Horicon. Shepard and I had a great time picking out a big variety to decorate the porch with. (Caden was having a fit and Greg was dealing with that.)

Then we went to my parents’ to celebrate with them. They made an amazing meal, like always! As much as I love eating in restaurants, it was great having a more wholesome homemade meal!

We just hung out and laughed at all of Annie and Gracie’s doggy antics. I opened my presents and got this awesome stack of books, among other things. Can’t wait to dig into them! I think I’ll start withย It’s All Under Controlย as one of the nonfiction books I’d like to read this month.

We had chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. I had a really nice evening!

And that brings me to today, my actual birthday! I didn’t want to commit to any plans specifically until I knew what I felt like doing today. Weekend birthdays aren’t really my favorite because kids are just around and not making life so easy. But they were actually great all day! We had Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants for an easy breakfast and then I spent most of the morning finishing up a good book.

My big reading chair was my main birthday present, but they also gave me a few treats they picked out at Walgreens and some spices I had asked for.

I set up the pumpkins and we got this nice picture!

One of the things I kind of wanted to do today was check out this craft fair in Sun Prairie. I rallied everyone to go and then it started raining. You had to pay to get in and it just didn’t seem worth it. So we continued on to Madison and had lunch at BelAir Cantina. It’s where I really wanted to eat today, but didn’t really want to bring it up because it was such a long drive. I was also worried the boys wouldn’t really like it because SHOCKER, no chicken tenders on the menu! But it actually turned out to be an awesome lunch. The boys kept shouting that it was the best restaurant EVER. They loved all the different salsas. It’s pretty rare that the four of us go out to dinner by ourselves ever, and when it does happen there’s usually a lot of complaining about something or other. But no complaints today! It was really great! And the food was fantastic. I actually ate here last year on my birthday too, with just Greg. The atmosphere is so much nicer on a Sunday at lunch than later on a Saturday night!

I stopped at Starbucks for my free birthday drink on the way home. I just got the Starbucks app a few weeks ago – I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that reward! ๐Ÿ™‚

Back at home I took a long nap with Rory, my favorite nap buddy.

I didn’t really have any dinner plans and wasn’t super hungry, but Greg wanted to figure something out so he took the boys to Subway to pick up something easy.

I decided to make myself a caramel apple pie for my official birthday dessert, but I stupidly decided not to use a recipe. I totally forgot to use some sort of thickening agent and the store bought caramel I added to it must have been more of a dip than an actual caramel because the whole pie was totally liquified! The crust was good! I did use a recipe for that!! At least I got a picture with my boys giving real smiles!

And that was my birthday week! I think 34 will be a good year. The last year before I have to start checking the next age bracket in every survey people put out. ๐Ÿ™‚ I still have a couple more minor celebrations coming up, but I’ll try not to be obnoxious about it. Many thanks to the family and friends that gave me a great week!

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
–ย 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!

Do you have to work??

Last night I was on a desperate mission to finish a batch of Halloween dolls. With Cranberry Fest coming up on Friday I’ve been feeling the urgency to get as many sales as possible this week, earning a bit more fun money for my disposal while I wander around on this annual unique shopping experience.

Earlier in the day yesterday I was using a pair of scissors that was screwed way too tight and left me barely able to use my thumb by afternoon. It sounds so pathetic that maybe fifteen minutes of using a tight scissors somehow destroyed my thumb. How old am I?! I feel like I’m constantly falling apart. Anyway, Greg was trying to convince me to rest last night and that work could wait. I vehemently disagreed with him and powered on. How can I rest when there is ALWAYS so much that needs to be done?

I was finishing up my batch of dolls, despite the pain, while watchingย The Great British Baking Show. That’s one of the only shows I watch while I work on evenings or weekends because it’s basically the only one that’s kid appropriate. And Shepard loves it. So he came in after playing outside for an hour or two to join me in the final ten minutes. I was so exhausted and hurting and still anxious to fold all the laundry before I finally dropped to sleep. As the show came to a close Shepard begged me to watch the next one. I said no, I can only watch while I work. And he responded in the most confused and sad voice, “Do you have to work?? Can’t you just watch?” I immediately said that no, I only watch tv while I work because I have to be productive. I closed my laptop and went upstairs to work on the laundry.

I was on such a mission to just get one more thing done last night that it didn’t really hit me until the middle of the night when I was up with Shepard while he had a migraine how much of a terrible example I was setting for him. On one hand yes, having a good work ethic is important. And I think it’s important for my kids to see that I have been able to successfully run my own business, while also being home with them for their entire childhood. But I also might be setting the example that work is more important than anything else. That fun, even at 7pm after already putting in 13 hours of nonstop work, isn’t allowed. How much would it have hurt me to put off the laundry to today while I snuggled with him on the new comfy chair to watch the next episode?

I would have shown him in a tangible way that spending time with him is more important. Especially considering how little time my kids actually WANT to spend with me in the first place. I could have created a sweet memory for us both instead of pushing him away and insisting that ticking things off my to do list is the only thing that really matters. I made the wrong choice last night and I regret it. No, I don’t always need to work. I just need to remember that.

September Goals

Happy September!

The calendar has turned, the kids have returned to school, and my heart is filled with joy! I can’t even tell you how much I struggle with summer and how much happier and free I feel in fall. I love my kids, but I’m a much better mom when I’m not with them 24 hours a day. I think they’re happier too, having a normalized routine, seeing their friends every day, using their brains and bodies for more than just laying around the house, eating three solid meals with a lot less random snacking, and feeling a greater sense of purpose in their own lives. I love the fresh beginnings, the cooling temperatures, and most of all – seven blessed hours at home to myself every day. I can breathe again and I love it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals now that the season has shifted and with what mindsets and intentions I want to carry with me into the fall. I was going to do an all-encompassing fall goals list, but I decided that September, October, and November are all so vastly different, I’m better off keeping these on a month by month basis. I do much better with short term goals that I can think about often and actually reach.

1. Get back to routine.

Easy enough, right!? I feel like with my own personal routines I’m pretty good at staying on task for 11 months of the year, and then August comes and everything slides away. I start sleeping in later, I stop persisting with Annie’s and my exercise routines, and I let meal planning and cooking really fall to the wayside. It’s hard to pick it all up again in full force come September. But I’m ready. The hardest part is going to be getting disciplined in the mornings. I never have much issue waking up early, but more often than not I end up wasting so much of my best mental energy just doing stupid things on my computer. Anyway, I’m going to write out what I’d like my ideal routine to look like. I think about 90% of school days should be able to follow this routine without much hiccup!

A. Wake up by 5:30 every day and take a shower immediately if it doesn’t interfere with Greg’s morning schedule. (I get way too lazy when I put it off until later in the morning.)

B. Start each morning downstairs with a quiet time, devotional, writing a short gratitude list, and going over my bullet journal – which I definitely want to be consistent about using again.

C. If there is any remaining time before the boys get up, use it to do something for myself. Read, exercise, bake, write, etc.

D. Fully focus on the boys from 6:30 until when we leave for school. If I’m not trying to multitask with work or the internet, I will be a much better mom in the limited time I have with them.

E. Walk them both to school and walk an extra 15-45 minutes with Annie before coming home. Never go on my computer until after this whole morning routine is done!

F. Get down to work by 9:00. Hopefully most days that means actually working! Otherwise if it’s an errand running day, don’t put it off. Just go and get it over with.

G. Pick the boys up from school and just focus on them and homework and dinner until after we’ve eaten.

I. End each evening going over my bullet journal, writing about the day, filling in my tracking stats, and preparing for the next day.

2. Focus on WORKING.

Summer is over! I have the great privilege of working for myself and taking any time off whenever I need it. But that doesn’t change the fact that people are relying on me and if I’m not producing enough dolls, I’m going to lose their interest. And their money! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve given myself a lot of leeway over the summer, which I think is the right choice. But it’s time to stop coddling myself and just sit down and focus. Fall and Halloween dolls are always huge sellers and I’m definitely behind on where I should be at this time of year. So unless I have a grand excuse not to be, I’d ideally like to put in at least six hours a day for the rest of the month.

3. Take care of my body.

My high blood pressure at the doctor’s appointment the other day has been a bit of a wake up call. I often think of my being overweight as just being an inconvenience to finding clothes that fit and look good on me. When you realize that you actually have internal things going on that ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU, it’s kind of eye opening. I mean, I’m not stupid and I realize I’m not exactly healthy. But it’s also been hard to put exercise first when I broke my ankle and couldn’t walk for three months and the following three months have still been filled with pain. But it needs to be a higher priority here on out. I have sub goals for this too!

A. Walk Annie for at least 30 minutes every morning and take a second afternoon or evening walk when time and mosquitoes allow it. (They are a NIGHTMARE right now.) Always bring earbuds wherever I go because it makes walking a lot more interesting and takes my attention off of how my ankle feels.

B. Do the Yoga with Adriene Commune 14 Day Challenge. In January, I did a 30 day yoga challenge with her videos and I actually rather liked it. There were days and poses that I absolutely hated, but there were other days when I realized how much better I would feel if I made this a regular practice in my life. My doctor is all about the yoga. My best friend is all about the yoga. I think it’s time to give it another shot. I don’t see this as something I’ll do every day of my life, but I think doing a 14 day challenge will help propel in the right direction to do it at least 2-3 times a week.

C. Eat better. Just plain eat better. Plan meals. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Stop buying so much crappy food. Stop eating so many crappy snacks. Fill the fridge with healthy choices every single week. Drink a whole lot more water. Be a healthier person by making the healthier decisions.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month!

September is the start of birthday season in our family. Caden and I and at least half of our extended family has birthdays these last four months of the year. It gets a little crazy. (And expensive lol) But I think I have two good yet easy and manageable birthday parties planned for him now, as well as whatever he wants to do on his actual birthday. I still need to brainstorm some good gift ideas. But I’m on track for everything going well, I think! I’m not always the greatest at making people feel special, but I really hope he comes out of this birthday time feeling loved and important.

5. HAVE FUN!

The last few weeks have been very much about just surviving. Getting through life without losing my mind. I’m hoping September will be a lot more fun! It SHOULD be. But sometimes I let all the chaos overwhelm me and I can’t really enjoy anything. But starting with this weekend I’m going to a Popcast Live Show (CANNOT WAIT) and having a super mini vacation by myself. At the end of the month I have my beloved Cranberry Fest trip with my parents. I’m hoping to get to the awesome fall farmers markets as often as possible on the weeks in between. I’m hoping to reconnect with some friends after barely seeing or talking to anyone all summer. And I want to give myself a good amount of self care and fun excursions when I know I need them. It’s going to be great!

Quick August Reflections

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I wanted to write a reflection post on the month of August. Honestly, August felt like the longest month of my life. June and July flew by and I can barely even remember them. August seemed to last forever. It was five very long weeks packed with adventure, excitement, turmoil, sadness, pain, irritability, exhaustion, and memories. Lots of good, lots of bad. A huge part of me just feels like saying good riddance and forgetting about it all together because it’s already done and over. But I feel like I’m doing myself a disservice not to briefly reflect on it, because reflecting is how I make positive changes and move forward with my life in the right direction. But I will try to be quick! My mind is currently MUCH more focused on September and all the awesomeness that will begin tomorrow WHEN SCHOOL STARTS!!!

I had four goals in August and I think it really helped to keep them to a minimum and keep them obtainable! I’ll have to keep that in mind tomorrow when I write my post about September/fall goals!

1. Make Memories!

I definitely made a lot of memories this past month. We had our little cottage weekend vacation with Greg’s parents and relatives. I had my solo vacation to Minnesota which was equal parts fun and frustration. We had our family trip to La Crosse which went really well, not counting all the bed bug stress (but hey, it was a memory that we’ll NEVER forget!). We took care of Hudson and had two night sleepover. Caden got to see two theater movies with Greg and Shepard and I had a nice Mod Pizza date night. We spent another day with Greg’s relatives which is always enjoyable. The boys had tons of low key friend time with the neighborhood gang. I had a couple of evenings and a Saturday to myself, which I always appreciate A TON in summer when it’s so rare. Greg and I had a date night at a local restaurant. And the boys, my mom, and I had a really special day in Madison together. We were busy! We also had a whole lot of crappy things happen in August, but I think the good outweighed the bad.

2. Read 12 or more books!

I really tried to make reading one of my highest priorities this month, just because it makes me so happy. It’s always hard to get much genuine work done with kids running around all day in the summer, but I’m always able to read. I gave myself plenty of opportunity and validation to spend hours a day some days, just lounging and reading. It was pretty awesome! I read 12 books in total, just as I’d hoped. Books and reading are such a huge part of my life and my biggest hobby and I liked giving myself permission to just go ahead and do it when it’s the only thing I felt like.

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

I wasn’t super successful with this. With over a week of vacation at the beginning of the month and a whole bunch of stressful chaotic things happening the last two weeks of the month, it didn’t give me much time to work. I did make a batch of back to school dolls, which went over pretty well. I also ordered more fall and Halloween fabrics to make some fresh new dolls when I have more time. I was hoping to have a big release of new dolls tomorrow, on the first day of school, but the weird pinched nerve in my back these last four days prevented me from ever sitting down and working. Oh well, that’s just life. I know that summer is a very slow time for producing and for sales. I just expected more of myself this year after all the time off I needed to take after I broke my ankle in spring. But I’ll just need to remember next year that working simply can’t be my highest priority. It’s easier as the boys get older, but I still need to be available to them. I will have to make up for this in September.

4. Write every possible day.

Well, this was a big fat fail! As I feel like I’ve already explained three times, this month turned out to be insane. August is usually one of our slowest months of the year and this year it was so busy and packed and exhausting. I just did not have the mental energy or physical time to sit down and write in the ways I had hoped. Reading, which requires a lot less effort, was my go to when I got any sort of break from everything life was throwing at us. And I’m okay with it. But I do truly hope to start writing a lot more often in the future months.

Overall, I’d say it was one of my best summers to date. It helps that the boys keep themselves pretty entertained on their own now, especially if their friends are available to play. We didn’t go on as many day trips as we usually do, but we still had a lot of fun times together. I think that at least until this last week when I was just DONE, I kept a pretty good attitude and accepted the chaos instead of being incredibly overwhelmed by it (most of the time). I appreciate these few months a year I get to see my kids all day every day. I LOVE when they go back to school, but I did a really good job of pushing that out of my mind and not wishing the days away. As a whole, it was a good summer. But I’m also really glad it’s over. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Side note: This photo is from a week and a half ago when I randomly decided to dye my hair for the first time in ten years. Can you tell?? Probably not! I don’t think a single person noticed. I was trying to keep it as close to my natural color, just hoping for a bit more vibrancy. I guess I picked a little too close because it looks EXACTLY the same.)