Quieting My Mind

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I started blogging again because I need to write. It clears my head to get my words on a page and helps me feel a little bit more sane. But because I chose to start writing again in a public space, I feel like I backed myself into a corner. The pressure is on to write posts that revolve around specific topics and have clearly defined content with a solid conclusion. The problem is that those self imposed limitations are now keeping me away from the blog, rather than helping me process my life the way I had hoped to by writing more. So I guess this is a warning to anybody who actually reads these – it’s not all going to be clear and concise. Some days I really need to just empty my brain of everything that’s been going on, no matter how random or irrelevant it may be. I need the freedom to write what I want, even if it doesn’t follow the direction of most other blogs. This is for me and I’m going to do what what feels best.

That being said – it’s been kind of a weird week. I’ve had to let go of a lot of my expectations for myself. Mainly sewing. This happened last year too, though I was totally okay with giving myself a pass from Heartstring Annie sewing for the entire month of December. This year I thought I was going to be able to do so much more. I guess in terms of quantity of dolls made, I did far exceed my output from last year only because I made a gigantic batch of ornament sized dolls. But I continue to feel so behind and constantly disappointed in myself. I want to make my customers happy. I want to always have a fully stocked shop. And I’d also really like to make some money! But I’m learning that for me, December is really about focusing on the rest of my life. I want to be present with my family and not acting like a mad woman behind schedule. I want to make sure my Christmas shopping is done early so I don’t have to frantically be fighting the crowds in the stores and panicking over those hard to buy for people on my list. I want to have time and energy to plan a party or gathering with friends and family during the month, before Christmas week is upon us. I want those gatherings to be a source of joy instead of stress. And I also want to simply take care of myself this month. Winter illnesses in Wisconsin are pretty terrible. My family is notorious for getting awful sicknesses right around Christmas – Shepard especially. I want to schedule in quieter afternoons for myself to catch up on rest if I need it. I also want to keep the pace as a whole this month a lot slower and quieter to try and help everyone else from getting run down as well.

This week I let go of most of my expectations, as hard as it sometimes was. But I also feel like it was really for the best. I had a lot of quality time with a lot of people. I feel closer to many of my friends, I feel closer to Greg, and I feel like I enjoyed and truly paid attention to my kids more than I have in quite awhile. I also focused on quieting my mind. As much as I love my podcasts, I chose to listen to Christmas music more often than not. The podcasts I did listen to were chosen with great intention, mostly episodes centering around Christmas themes that were uplifting and peaceful. The music, the added quiet for my mind, the good conversations and quality time I spent with people – it really added up to a nice week. Not what I expected for the week, but it was worth it.

Looking ahead at this next week I feel a bit of rising panic. Despite the quieter mind space, my to do list has not shrunken! I’m throwing two parties in the next four days. My house is nowhere near the party clean level I like it to be. I desperately need a large solid chunk of time to unearth all the presents I’ve stashed away for the boys, divide up which day they’re getting each gift and trying to make it all look even before wrapping and re-hiding them all. It’s also a very weird week with Greg being gone three nights and a fourth night me kicking him out so I can have my Favorite Things party. It appears we’ll have one family dinner together in the entire week, which is extremely unusual for us. I also need to finish up a couple strands of Christmas bunting for my shop and probably convince myself that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t make any more Annies this year.

There’s a lot to do. There’s always a lot to do. But I’m learning that December is not about perfection. It’s not about spotless houses and the fanciest foods I can create to impress my guests. It’s about forgiving myself. Taking shortcuts on things that truly don’t matter. And spending time with the people I love because they are what is most important in my life. I’m not going to look back on this month of my life and regret how few sales I made. I’m going to look back and be proud of myself for letting go of a lot of the stress that I didn’t need to carry. I know that chasing perfectionism makes me a crazy person that nobody wants to be around. I don’t want to be that mom/wife/friend. At least not this month. 🙂

I guess what I thought would be a bunch of rambling about my week turned into kind of a cohesive blog post anyway. That’s the power of writing it all out!

On Worth

For the last few months I’ve been going through a mental rollercoaster, really struggling with how to spend my time every day and how those decisions determine my worth. I think it must be linked the start of school and this new chapter in my life of still being home every day, but not having any kids to take care of between 7:30am and 3:15pm. Trust me, nobody is challenging this decision, least of all Greg. But I feel like I need to justify to myself day in and day out that the only way this lifestyle makes sense is if I stay busy, busy, busy. And it’s not like I’m searching out new things to do! Just simple household maintenance seems to take up almost all of my time. And when I finally feel like I’m caught up enough, then I actually work on Heartstring Annie stuff. Funny how I thought I’d be able to work at least a solid six hours every single day once my kids were in school. I think in the last three months I’ve put in less time than ever toward my business. It’s disheartening.

While my weekdays fly by in a flurry of grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and cleaning, I really struggle with nights and weekends. I find myself lately feeling very envious of the rest of my family who are truly on break during those times. They have their solid work/school hours of the week and the rest of their time is for fun and relaxation. They have no problem spending an entire Saturday playing video games and watching movies together. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. The problem arises because I feel like I can’t afford to take those breaks. Ever. Meals always need to be made, laundry always needs to be done, dishes are always next to the sink, groceries always need to be bought, the kitchen table always needs to be cleaned off, the floors always need to be swept, the litter boxes always need to be cleaned. And at this time of the year, everything Christmas related falls entirely on me. The planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the baking, the executing of each and every tiny detail. It’s so completely overwhelming.

I know I sound like I’m complaining. But honestly the problem is where I stand in my head. I’m so jealous of the fact that the other members of my family have a very clear cut balance in their lives. I feel like I’m surrounded by work ALL THE TIME and I don’t know how to not see it. I’ve always been a perfectionist and I’ve always had a really good work ethic. I hate to see things undone and I seriously cannot turn off my brain to stop thinking about my to do list. Ever, at any point, day or night. I have a problem!

When school started this year I was so excited about my plans. I would sew a lot – and only during the day. I’d set it aside at 3:00 and not think about it again until the following morning. I’d have my nights completely free to make dinner, help with homework, and just be with my kids and not be stressed about the half finished dolls all over the place. I also fully intended on having friend dates. Clearly nobody will be inviting me for playdates anymore, but I didn’t want to lose my friends because of it. I wanted to go to coffee or lunch or just hang out at a park with at least one friend every week. I wanted to better plan and condense my grocery shopping to only one morning a week so I’m not constantly running out for things I forgot. I wanted weekends to be centered on family time. Finding fun things we could do all together, since doing special activities during the week was no longer an option. You know what happened to all those plans? By about the third week of September when I was crazily working on Caden’s birthday and parties, all my best intentions just went out the window. And with one big event after another I haven’t been able to get on track since. I’m so tired, stressed out, and still constantly feel guilty and inadequate.

I’ve read a lot of books, heard a lot of speakers, and know on an intellectual level that my worth is not determined by what I DO. If I measure myself by how much I accomplish every day, I’m basically never going to be enough. I realize that one day my kids are going to grown and gone. My list of chores will shrink significantly. And I’ll probably look back on this time in my life and hate myself for how much time I wasted worrying about things that truly didn’t matter. I want to be the kind of person that puts people first, no matter what. I want it to be blatantly obvious that my husband and kids are my first priority in life. I want them to realize that. Right now I just feel like this invisible person that does all the behind the scenes work to make sure their lives run smoothly, but I’m not really an active participant in their lives. And it’s been this way for so long that they don’t even notice or care. It makes me really sad. But I also – still – do not know how to change things. Who is going to make meals and do laundry if I don’t? Who is going to make birthday parties and holidays happen if I’m not constantly working on them? I can’t figure out how to let things go. I really can’t figure out how to properly balance my life. And I can’t stop linking check marks off the to do list with my worth at the end of a day.

I have no solutions for myself or anybody else that feels this way too. Other than to just keep trying. Look at those little faces and realize they don’t care about clean houses. They probably don’t even care about clean clothes! They just want ME. And that is where I should feel my worth. In what I can be to them, not what I do. If I can remember that, then maybe things will be better.

Feeling Thankful

Like most people this week, I’ve been trying to get in the spirit of Thanksgiving by thinking about what I’m most thankful for. My list doesn’t vary much from year to year, though the specific reasons for my gratitude might. This year I really want to focus on each individual aspect of a person or thing that brings me joy and thanksgiving.

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Greg

  • We celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary this past May. It felt like a pretty big milestone, though getting married at 21, I barely remember life before marriage! The last ten years have held a lot of joys and a lot of challenges. We’ve stuck together and always will. I greatly look forward to spending the rest of my life with him.
  • He supports me. In the most basic ways, like allowing me to continue staying home to pursue my creative dreams while we live off of his income. But also in every other meaning of the word support. He fully supports me emotionally in everything that I want to do. He encourages me to better my life and do whatever makes me happy.
  • He is an awesome dad. The best I’ve ever met! He selflessly gives all of his nights and weekends to the boys, helping them with things, playing with them, loving them in the language that matters most to them. He’s so much better than me at setting aside everything else to just focus on our children.
  • I’m also very thankful that he takes care of most of the “man stuff” around the house. He’s been learning all the important home owning stuff, he takes care of all the car maintenance, he does the lawn work, takes out the garbage, etc. He’s also a technology genius and I don’t know how I – or any of our family members – would get by without him!

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Caden

  • Since this school year started, Caden has continued to impress me in how he looks after Shepard. He knew how worried Shepard was about going to kindergarten and he got permission from his teacher many times a day the first few weeks of school to drop in and check on Shepard. He sat by him at lunch, he sat by him on their first joint field trip which Shepard was terrified about going on, and he asked Shepard to join him and his friends at recess playing kickball every day. Even though he’s older, I don’t think it’s even occurred to him yet to want to get away from Shepard. Instead he always includes him in everything. He protects him and shelters him as well. Two days ago Shepard had a bathroom accident after he left the school building. We started to walk home and I stopped to talk to a friend for a minute. Caden continued to walk with Shepard, shielding him from the other kids so they wouldn’t see his wet pants or his tears. They definitely have their fair share of fights, but they’re also inseparable. Caden takes his big brother duties very seriously and I love that about him!
  • He’s a reader! Greg and I were talking about it the other day and admitted that we both thought he wouldn’t be. He’s very, very addicted to video games. Even though he has them taken away more often than not! But sometime in the last few months it finally clicked with him that reading is pretty awesome! He reads in the mornings when he wakes up, in the afternoons when he’s bored, and at night by lamplight. We set him up with my old kindle and he loves having that option available to him as well. Reading has always been a HUGE aspect of my life, and I’m thrilled that he’s started to love it as well.
  • He works hard. He’s still in speech therapy, though I think if people didn’t know that about him they would no longer be able to hear why he needed it. Just three years ago I felt like things were never going to change. People would never be able to understand him. And now he’s just a teeny fraction away from speaking at his age level. I’m proud of how far he’s come. I’m also proud of how well he does in school in general. He’s a pretty smart kid.

Shepard

  • Shepard is the comic relief we so often need in our family. Unless he’s throwing a tantrum over food, he’s pretty much always a joy to be around. He’s silly and funny. And he’s always thinking and sharing his newest ideas with people. I love listening to all the crazy things he comes up with every day.
  • He’s always up for learning or doing new things. He loves to help people with everything they’re doing. He’s constantly asking to help me in the kitchen. He loves pitching in when Greg is working on things around the house. He just wants to be where the action is and throw himself in the middle of it. He begs to do homework every night, even though he rarely has any. He’s optimistic and up for adventure pretty much all of the time. It’s refreshing to be around someone with that kind of perspective on life.
  • He’s growing too. I was so, so worried about how he’d handle kindergarten. He cried basically every morning that he had preschool and 4K. School gave him a lot of anxiety and he never wanted to be away from me. Summer school in June was even worse. The teacher literally had to tear him away from me every single day for three weeks. But he’s been doing really well. (Besides the potty issue!) He still drags his feet a couple times a week, but for the most party I think he’s starting to really acclimate. I kind of fear the day he becomes totally comfortable at school and his true personality starts to show! 🙂 I think he might be the kid that everybody wants to be friends with, but might also be a bit of a troublemaker and class clown! I love seeing how much more confident he’s become in just a few short months, though.

Our House

  • I waited a long time for this! I think that most people take owning a home for granted. I hope that the last six years of not owning will help me to always appreciate how awesome it is to truly have our own space. I do feel that your home is where your people are. But having an actual house with a yard and room to run is something to be pretty grateful for.
  • I LOVE my living room and sewing room. I spend basically the entire day in these two rooms. And because nobody else has much reason to be in them I can actually keep them clean and pretty, entirely for my own enjoyment. When we were house hunting, having a room or at least a solid space for my sewing room was a must have. I wasn’t sure that the dining room I claimed in this house would work out, but it turned out great. I have room for all my stuff with space to spare and it’s amazing. My living room, where my computer is, is also just the best. Hard wood floors, bay window, candle filled fireplace, pretty mantle, my favorite colors – I love it.
  • I’m so thankful that we have enough room for our family of four. Apartment life was fine for us for a long time. But the older the boys got the more desperately we started to feel the need for change. This house has been such a blessing. The boys have their own rooms, something that Caden at least really needed. Shepard has the biggest room, so ALL of the toys are stored in there. That alone is pretty huge! Besides the legos taking over our family room, the main living spaces of the house are usually pretty clutter free. I feel like I can breathe here. We all can.
  • Possibly the best thing about this house – the neighborhood. Our yard isn’t spectacularly large or exciting, but the boys have so many friends within our small block. They want to be outside all the time. That definitely wasn’t the case before we moved. I love that they’re finally having the childhood that I grew up with – outside with friends having adventures as often as possible. And we do have a yard! I didn’t have much chance to spend time in it this year since I was so focused on setting up inside. But I’m looking forward to planting a big garden next year, spending more time outside, having get togethers, etc. We plan to be here a very long time. I also love the area of town we live in. Country living has always been my dream, but living in town has some amazing advantages. I love that I can walk the boys to and from school every day. I can walk basically anywhere in Columbus if I want! It’s the perfect location.

Friends

  • Friendships have always been hard for me. Mainly because I’m not very satisfied with casual acquaintances. I want friendships to be deep, honest, comfortable, and stand the test of time. The problem is that those kind of friendships take a whole lot of effort between both people, a vulnerability that does not come easily, and a lot of time spent together. Something that only gets harder the older you get and the more family obligations you have. Anyway, I could go on with this topic for awhile, but I should probably just say that I’ve reached a point, finally, where I feel like I do have a couple of really good friends. REAL friends. I hope in the next few years, now that I have more time to devote to it, I can develop some other friendships and make them stronger. Maybe try and meet new friends. But I’m infinitely grateful for the couple of women who have shown me the meaning of true friendship in its best form. You know who you are.

Family

  • I am exceedingly grateful that my children have grandparents that live 20 minutes away and are a part of their lives. My grandpas both died when I was too young to remember them. My grandmas were a huge part of my childhood and I lost them both between Caden and Shepard being born. I miss them. I want my own kids to realize how important those relationships are and treasure the fact that they have them.
  • I’m also thankful for our siblings. I have a brother I see fairly regularly and the boys love talking video games with him. As I mentioned the other day, I’m really excited that my other brother and sister-in-law moved back to Wisconsin this year. Greg is very close with his sisters and we gained a new brother-in-law last month. My kids don’t have any cousins yet, but they’ve had the advantage of having many aunts and uncles doting on them for all of their lives. When we’re all together they fully enjoy having so much attention!
  • Beyond our more immediate family, we also have a lot of extended family in the area. We don’t see them that often, but it’s a comfort to know that they’re there.

That’s about it for my list. This year I’m celebrating the people in my life and the roof over my head. That’s all I need to be fulfilled. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Outlet Needed, Desperately

My mind has been a total mess lately. I constantly feel filled to the brim with words and emotions that are desperate to get out. Instead they are trapped inside making me feel crazy and overwhelmed and oftentimes very alone. I’ve been mulling over the idea of getting back into blogging for about a month now. It seemed an easy decision to make, but I couldn’t get around the logistics. The Everyday Crumbs was a big part of my creative process in years past, but with such a big gap since my last post perhaps it made more sense to start anew? In the end, urgency won over the mild desire to start with a fresh page. I need to write. And it seems like such a waste to just let go of all my previous posts on here. It’s a lot of my history, a lot of my struggles and joys as a young mom. I want to hold on to that, and leave it up here in case anybody else can learn something from the battles I’ve fought. Or maybe just look at all the pictures of my adorable kids. ☚

A Reintroduction

With that being said, I feel like I should reintroduce myself. Who I am now versus who I was a few years ago. So, my name is Amy. ☚I turned 32 last month, a birthday that didn’t really phase me the way 30 and 31 did. I’m good with getting slightly older. I’m married to Greg. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this past May with a cross country trip to Charleston. We’ll be celebrating 17 years as a couple this January! We have two kids that keep us constantly, shall we say…challenged. Caden turned 8 in September and is in second grade. He’s a very active kid, a good big brother, a total homebody, and he loves video games and reading. It’s been a joy watching him grow in recent years, but we still have many, many struggles. More on that another day! Shepard is 5 and in kindergarten. He continues to light up our lives and give our rather serious little family a lot of much needed laughter. But he can also be the absolute most stubborn little person in the world. Shepard loves to do just about everything, especially when he can jump in and help with projects the people around him are working on. We also have two kitties, Jack and Rory, who have been part of our family for 11 years now.

This fall has begun a weird and hard to define chapter in my life. I’m still a “stay at home mom,” though both of my kids are in school full time. I have a business sewing primitive dolls, bears, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’ve been doing this for over three years and have been anxiously waiting to start working on it full time once the boys were in school. The past few months have showed me that working at home full time is a lot more challenging than I ever expected! I’m easily distracted and can never stop thinking about everything else that needs to be done around the house. But I’m working on it! I love what I do and that I found this creative passion that allows me to continue to stay home for when my kids need me, but still bring in a little extra money.

My other hobbies and interests include reading, baking, walking, listening to podcasts, and setting up our house. We bought our first house in six years this past May and it’s been amazing living in a permanent location that I can decorate and rearrange to perfection. I love, love, LOVE to read. I read in all my spare time and whenever I allow myself a break from cleaning and sewing. Baking has always been a source of immense joy, though I try to keep it to a minimum because while everybody enjoys a good treat, their waistlines don’t and they’re not afraid to tell me that! And finally my newest obsessions – walking and podcasts, always simultaneously. Since moving into town I’ve been taking 2-5 mile walks almost every day and I absolutely love it. And podcasts have opened up this whole new world of information and entertainment that I seriously cannot get enough of. I listen to them all day long and it’s awesome. 

I’m hoping this blog will turn into the creative outlet I really need to clear my mind, get my head on a page, and move forward with my life in a positive direction. I want to continue to share pictures from my family life and celebrations throughout the year. I also want to write in greater depth the things I struggle with on a regular basis. I’d like to occasionally post about awesome recipes I find. And I’d love to share more about my sewing, the books I’ve been reading, and the best podcasts I’ve been listening to. I have a lot to say and not a lot of opportunity to say things out loud. Even if nobody reads this, at least it’s out of my head and that’s all that matters. Enjoy!

15 Years and Other Ramblings

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Last Saturday Greg and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary of being together. Do most people still celebrate the date they met and were sort of together forever after? Probably not, but January 17th was such a big date to us in the six years we were a couple before getting marriage that we didn’t want to let it go. In many ways this anniversary has always felt a little more special to me than our wedding anniversary because it marks such a major change in my life. Plus it’s always a lot more fun to celebrate in the middle of January when nothing else is going on rather than the end of May during Memorial weekend and the end days of school when we’re too busy to focus on our special date.

At any rate, we’ve officially been together for half of our lives. Crazy! I barely remember life before that. It’s always amazed me that the thing that most attracted me to Greg when we first met was how well he interacted with a child. We were working at a fundraiser together and while we were sitting there this little boy kept throwing a ball in our general direction. Every single time Greg would get up and throw it back to him, clearly enjoying himself. Who would have thought that hour in time would so clearly portray our future together. Greg is and has been an amazing dad from the second he became one. I feel so blessed that found each other that day and have been committed to each other ever since. I look forward to still celebrating this day fifty years from now. 🙂

So. On to my “other ramblings.” I am SO fed up with my cpap machine and sleep in general. I used to love that moment every night when I was ready to put my kindle down and know that I’d fall asleep immediately and wake up at 5:00 feeling fully recharged. According to my doctor, at least, that great sleep I always thought I had at night was a lie. With the mild sleep apnea I was having over 40 “episodes” an hour of partially waking up, resulting in my extreme fatigue during the day. Since being on my machine I’ve been averaging about 1.4 per hour which is obviously a significant improvement. Then why does it now feel so hard to sleep?? Why do I wake up feeling so groggy and exhausted? While I’m used to this feeling the majority of the day, I never had it in the mornings.

I’m technically on a three month trial with the machine and am supposed to be putting my absolute best effort into using it so I’ll know beyond a doubt if it helped or not. In the past three weeks I feel like I’ve really tried but I’ve only totally slept through the night once in that time. I’ve been restless, had a hard time falling asleep, had a hard time staying asleep, and most nights I wake up around 2 or 3 and take it off because it feels like too much effort to try and fall back to sleep with it on. The last two nights have suddenly felt like the first few nights where it’s suffocating me and I’m going to die if I don’t take the mask off. The whole thing is just so frustrating!! But…on the other hand…while not actually feeling any better, I HAVE been a lot more active and productive during the day. I’ve been doing so much more, having more willpower, and pushing myself harder than I have in a long time. Is that the result of a better sleep quality, despite how awful it’s felt? I wish I knew. Clearly I’ll continue using it because I want to know if after three months I really do feel better or not. But I hate it. I dread bedtime so much knowing that my exhaustion will continue to fight me through the night with no relief in sight.

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Welcome Back

Well, guys. It’s been awhile. I pretty much gave up blogging this past year. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I was just way too busy trying to make Heartstring Annie a success. There are only so many quiet hours a night to get something done and sewing always won out. And overall, I think it was mostly worth it. Until I began feeling incredibly burnt out, too tired for anything, and basically just very unhappy. These last four months especially, since school started, have been really rough for me. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my long lost blog for a few weeks now and decided it was worth giving it another shot. Mostly just for my own cathartic purposes, not really for the entertainment of others. Unless you’re interested of course, then have at it. 🙂 

My relationship with Caden hasn’t changed much. I went through some major sadness over him starting kindergarten. Not so much because I was going to miss him. But because I felt like my time to truly mother him was over and I failed. Completely. I tried to cheer myself up with the fact that at least since we’re not with each other every minute of the day anymore, maybe the time we do spend together will be worth more. We’ll connect better. And…it’s not happening. He’s so crabby after school. The only thing he wants from me is a snack and to leave him alone to watch tv or play (fight) with Shepard. He doesn’t want to answer any of my questions, he has no interest in actually doing anything with me. And once Greg gets home I may as well be invisible. So things are rough. I can’t decide if it’s just because he’s overly tired or what, but he’s so upset about everything all the time. It worries me so much that he’s six years old and his overruling emotion seems to be anger. It scares me how much I look at him and see myself. But myself NOW. Just like me he feels everything so deeply, expresses himself out of anger without thinking, and seems to deeply regret it, but not know how to deal with that other than self loathing. Which only turns into more anger directed at everyone else. I feel like I ruined him not only because I failed at being a good mom, I also managed to pass on all my bad mental attitudes. I love him, but he makes it so hard some days.

And Shepard. My ray of sunshine – most of the time. He’s developed quite a bit of his own attitude these past few months. He is about the most stubborn child on earth when he sets his mind against doing something. Of course it’s always at the worst possible moments too. For example this morning, while we were running late for school, he decided that he absolutely was not going to get his winter clothes on by himself. He always manages to find the worst times to throw these stubborn fits. But the rest of the time he’s still a pretty happy little guy. Whereas Caden has so much of my personality, Shepard has so much of Greg’s. Both such comedians. Usually very easygoing and happy. My favorite thing about Shepard, which I’m trying so hard to always see as a good thing, is how helpful he wants to be. Especially in the kitchen. He wants to help me with EVERYTHING. Literally, everything. And even though it takes a lot longer, it’s always a whole lot messier, I let him help. His desire to be by my side will probably not last long and I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Things with me personally have not been that great. Like I said before, I started getting very burnt out this fall. I pretty much gave up on sewing and trying to keep up with Heartstring Annie in the way I wanted. My biggest problem has been total exhaustion. I am so tired every day that I cannot function through the afternoon without a nap. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve had a nap every afternoon for a year and a half now. And I’m still dead tired, no motivation to do anything, pretty much ever. I finally decided to do something about it in October and went to see a doctor. She did a huge number of blood tests and everything came back looking normal. Which lead to me a sleep study – one of the worst nights of my life. The sleep study revealed that I have very mild sleep apnea, but I didn’t qualify for a cpap machine so I better just get used to feeling this way. Which was pretty devastating news since I was already at my rope’s end. But a few weeks later my doctor pulled through and managed to convince the insurance company to give me a three month trial with a cpap machine. I was so excited – until I tried it. It’s been a week and a half now and though it’s getting easier, it’s definitely not easy. The first few days I felt like it was trying to kill me. Forcing air into me with no way to let the air out, essentially drowning me. At least that’s how it’s felt. Finally in the last couple of days I’ve been able to keep it in most of the night, but I wake up so often. I feel more tired than ever and have little hope it’ll ever actually make me feel better.

I feel like the lack of energy is making all my other problems feel so much worse than they are. But…it’s been a very trying couple of months. I’m usually okay most days. But I have other days that feel like such a battle just to get through them in one piece. This is such a lonely season of life. I’m alone almost all the time. I mean, I have Shepard with me all but the four hours a week he’s in preschool. But he’s three. Greg gets home at night and spends every minute with the boys until they go to bed and then just wants a break by himself. Which is totally understandable. He’s an amazing dad, but every night I end up feeling like such an outsider. The three of them are all so obsessed with video games and legos and there just doesn’t seem to be a place for me, other than the provider of meals. This school year has also opened up a lot of new friendships for me and while I totally appreciate that I have them, I also feel like it’s almost worse because these people have been placed in my life but I can never really see them. I’m struggling to figure out how friendship truly works without more than a two minute conversation a day. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I just can’t figure out how to hang out and connect with people because everyone is so busy with their own families. And while I obviously have a family too, I’m NOT busy. I’m never busy! I spend pretty much every night in my room reading or watching tv wishing I could at least occasionally go out to dinner with somebody the way life used to be before everyone had kids. I’m available almost every weekend wishing I could invite somebody to something – anything! – but sure that everyone else is surely too busy for me, for the kind of friendship I miss so much. So in the end I try to make do by getting out on my own. It helps me preserve my sanity, but obviously doesn’t fill the gap of friendship.

Anyway, that’s where I am in life right now. It sounds really depressing! But I’m trying to make things better. Getting that cpap machine was my first step. With better quality sleep I will hopefully have a foundation for everything else. I have a lot of other minor steps I’m starting to take to get control of my life again too. I’m sewing again and actually enjoying it. I’m hoping to get the business going at a pretty good speed, but without pushing myself too far. I’ve also been pouring over new cookbooks and blogs trying to find different foods and recipes that make me actually excited to get in the kitchen three times a day. I want the meals I prepare to be fun and a blessing instead of stressful and burdensome. And finally I’m trying to just be aware of what I need and when I need it. Taking more time and effort to actually connect with the people in my life instead of always hiding inside myself. Not sewing at all for a day if I don’t honestly feel the desire to do so. At any rate…it’s a start. I’m hoping 2015 will be a whole lot better than the last year.

New Years Resolution

As usual, I have spent the last week contemplating what I’ve done in the past year and where I’d like to be a year from now. I was re-reading what I wrote last year at this time and realized I did a pretty bad job following through on most of what I had hoped to accomplish. In fact, I can probably say that I failed miserably with all of my resolutions. I did not forgive my children very easily, I did not accept them for who they were, I was not healthier – in fact I was probably the least healthy I’ve ever been. I did not look for or find much joy in my life. I wasn’t a very good friend, instead retreating even further into isolation. And I didn’t save any money. Yeah, I definitely failed with all of that.

The tangible goals I set for myself went a little better. Learning how to make Annie’s was my main goal. I definitely succeeded on that one! It took me until the middle of April to start, but once I figured out what to do, I had a blast. I started Heartstring Annie and actually feel like I was pretty successful with it by the last four months of the year. Sales have been pretty good considering the amount of time I’m able to put into it right now.

I did okay with my other goals. I still haven’t learned to use my camera properly, but I did do the 365 Day project for HALF of the year. Then the Annie stuff took off and my camera fell far to the wayside. I didn’t read 110 books, but I read a lot of longer books than I usually read. I think my final total for the year was eighty-seven. 34,195 pages (I know this because I was having a competition with Greg and we had to use page count to be more accurate since he reads much longer books than me. I won. Five times more reading – hah!). The one date a month thing didn’t exactly work out. I forgot to actually think about it. And writing something every day – I tried. I had a couple of books to work through, but when day after day I was writing such negative and hopeless statements I decided to give up. I didn’t really want a reason to look back and remember this time in my life.

To be honest, 2013 was a really bad year for me. I was depressed, unhappy, angry, and just very sad. I’ve felt like a horrible mother, an inadequate wife, a bad friend, and overall a pretty worthless human being. I don’t want to dwell on this anymore because the year is over. Instead I want to look ahead to 2014 and hopefully a much happier year.

With that in mind, I only have one real resolution for the year:

Do whatever it takes to stop having so many bad days.

I want to smile and laugh a lot more this year. I want to be present in my life instead of always trying to hide away from it. I want to go to bed every night feeling good about how I spent my day rather than drowning in regret. I truly what to do whatever it takes to stop having bad day after bad day after bad day. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few days and I’ve come up with a list of things I can work on to make this happen. So not goals in themselves, but tools to help me achieve my overall goal.

  • Listen to my children. I blow them off SO often. Way too often. When Shepard carries a board game to me ten times in a day, I should probably take the hint and get on the floor and play it with him. When Caden asks me for months when I’m going to go to school with him like some of the other moms, I should do whatever I can to make that happen for him. It’s not really a mystery to find ways to make your kids happy. Listen. They’re pretty obvious about what they want.
  • Read more nonfiction. I used to make myself read a chapter or two of nonfiction every day. And by nonfiction I usually mean inspirational books that nurture my relationship with God, my husband, or my kids. This requirement of myself has been all but forgotten in the past year. I want to get back to it. There are so many books out there that could lift me up and help me to be a better person. Fiction is wonderful, but I don’t want to use all of my reading time simply escaping the real world.
  • Take better care of myself. Laying around doing nothing all day but stuff myself with unhealthy food isn’t doing much to help my mood or my body! I don’t have any drastic plans, but I want to simply make better choices this year. Exercise when a twenty minute gap in my schedule appears. Keep more fruits and vegetables stocked in the fridge where I can easily grab them when I start getting hungry. Move more. Try harder. Do what I can.
  • Be present. This is a big one for me. Instead of dealing with my problems I tend to just retreat inside myself, my computer, my books, etc. so I don’t have to think about things anymore. I want to stop that. I want to deal with that’s around me head on, even if it’s not going to be pleasant. I’d also like to just start enjoying the opportunities I do have, but often walk away from. I have a very bad habit of disappearing when Greg walks in the door at night because I’m so overwhelmed by my kid problems. I don’t want to do that anymore. At least not every single night. We have so many chances to bond and laugh as a whole family and I’d like to start taking advantage of that.
  • Stop unnecessary spending. I love online shopping. So many deals and it’s so easy to do. But the truth of the matter is that more than half of what I buy online I really do not need. It seems like a great idea at the time and usually by the time whatever I ordered arrives I regret wasting my money on yet another thing. This is the year I want to start asking myself every time a “good deal” comes up if it’s more important than buying a house. Because the answer is probably always going to be no. It’s been three and a half years now since we’ve owned a house and I’m starting to really miss it. I’ve reached the point where I really think we need more space, but there’s nothing we can do about that unless I stop spending money.
     
  • Dream more. Dreaming is something I’ve kind of given up on this past year because nothing I really wanted seemed possible, so why think about it, right? I don’t want that attitude anymore. I’d like to take a few minutes a day to think about my future and what I want out of it. Even if it’s unlikely to ever happen, I can still entertain the possibility. 

Well, I think this is a pretty simple resolution for the year. The tools I listed might not feel simple to implement all at once, but they are all doable. I can do this. I don’t want to have another miserable year. It’s the beginning of a new year, the perfect chance to step up and try harder at changing my life to the way I know it can be.

Struggling

I’ve had a lot going through my mind the last few weeks and I’m to the point where I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t get some of it out, even if nobody reads this or nobody cares.

Life has been HARD lately. Very hard. We have been having some major difficulties with Caden and I feel like it’s tearing us all apart. I’m on the fence about if I should keep these battles private or if I should share them and perhaps find some support in other people that might be going through the same battles. The problem is that I feel like when I do start to share, the majority of people think I must be exaggerating or start to attack me for daring to say something negative about my child. People don’t believe me and I think that’s one of the hardest things to deal with.

The truth is, Caden has become a very angry and very violent child. He’s not like this at school, he’s not usually like this around strangers or extended family. But at home? It’s a completely different story. Caden hits, kicks, pinches, spits, bites, and throws things at me on a daily basis. Usually many, many, MANY times a day.  He does the same to Greg and the worst part – he does the same to Shepard. The other day Caden was hitting me with an umbrella. His newest thing is throwing objects at me, most often – kitchen chairs. He’s five years old. And he’s throwing kitchen chairs at me. I am devastated by what this is putting everybody through and I’m terrified of what he’s going to be like when he’s older if he continues on this path.

We shared some of our concerns with Caden’s pediatrician last month and she strongly suggested we start seeing a therapist to help Caden deal with his anger. For the last few weeks we’ve been going to a therapist now and though she seems to have some great ideas, Caden’s behavior has amplified considerably with the changes we’ve made. It’s getting harder and harder to see the good things in him when he spends so much of his day screaming at and attacking me. I feel very hopeless and very alone.

I love Caden and I always will. But we’ve had so many emotional struggles during his short life. We’ve struggled – and still struggle with – his speech apraxia and inability to be understood by most people, at least the first and second time he repeats himself. I know he must be hurting too in ways I probably can’t understand. He’s frustrated and feels like the only time he can let that go is in the safety of his own home. But…he’s hurting us. Physically, emotionally, deeply. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way. 

My Birthday Celebrations

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

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

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

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

My mom made me a peanut butter chocolate cheesecake.

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

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

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

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

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

This one was my favorite. So simple and pretty!

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

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

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

Pumpkin tower for prize number two.

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

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

Shepard and I kept looking at the gigantic white ones.

Caden found his!

Muscles.

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

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

Showing off.

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

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

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

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

Caden took this one.

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

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

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

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

Shepard was too busy taking pictures to be in the official ones. 🙂

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

Quick Update!

Once again – it’s been too long since I’ve written! Maybe I should stop apologizing and just write when I can and stop feeling guilty about it! I still enjoy writing and sharing bits and pieces of my life, but the simple truth is I just don’t have much time for it anymore. Rather than beating myself up over it, I’m just going to write when I can and be okay with that. So here goes.

I’ve had a couple of things on my mind that I just wanted to get out there really quick. First of all, I’m giving up on my 365 Day Photo Project. 🙁 I made it through June and then it just got too stressful. I’m disappointed in myself because it would have been really awesome to look back over my daily photos from the entire year, but I just couldn’t keep up. For one, I’ve been TERRIBLE about picking up my camera this summer. I’m pretty sure I’ve taken at least one phone picture a day, but it just gets too hard going back and emailing myself all the pictures that seem good enough. That’s not how I wanted to do this project, so I might as well just stop. Six months will have to be good enough.

I should probably save this for a post that I have more time to write, but I wanted to share that it’s been a really hard summer for me. I’ve been tired, depressed, overwhelmed, angry, stressed, and really just felt over my head in projects and responsibilities that I’m never going to be able to keep up with. I’ve been having some major struggles with Caden and dealing with motherhood in general. I’ve been mourning my lack of true relationships and feeling hopeless about ever changing that. I’ve been having an awful time keeping up with cleaning the house, making meals, and even doing the simplest household chores. About the only thing I have stayed on top of is my sewing goals because they make me happy. Overall, though…I’ve been a mess.

I’ve definitely reached the point where I realize things NEED to change. I can’t keep living like this. I’m really hoping that once school starts and we get back into a regular routine everything will get better. And as terrible as this sounds, I’m looking forward to a longer break from Caden every day. I love him so much, but he also pushes me so far beyond my limits on a daily basis. I think I need that step away from him every afternoon to learn how to appreciate him and give him what he needs so much more than when I have to deal with him 24 hours a day, day after day after day.

Anyway, maybe I’ll write more on this next week after my vacation! We’re leaving in a few hours to San Francisco! The boys are staying with grandparents while Greg and I go visit his sister and her boyfriend. I’m SO looking forward to spending a week as an adult. No mommy duties, no household duties, nothing to feel guilty about. I’m excited to spend time with Greg – as a couple, and not just as Mommy and Daddy, which seems to be all we are anymore. And I’m just thrilled to see a new city! I love traveling, but the last few years our trips seem to be more stressful than fun. A trip without kids should be much more enjoyable. I’ve always wanted to go to San Francisco, so I’m glad my sister-in-law decided to move there to make this trip possible. 🙂 Anyway, Caden woke up during this last paragraph and my concentration is shot, so more…in a week!