This has been a weird week. On one hand, it’s been AWESOME having everyone go back to school and work, letting me have the daily quiet and space I desperately need to be a functional person. And some of these days have been great! I’ve started getting more sleep at night, maybe because I’ve been getting a better grip on my overall stress levels. I got over EIGHT HOURS last night, guys. I’ve been on about a 5.5 hour streak for the last year. At least. I’ve also been walking Annie a couple of times a day, though it snowed last night, so there’s another halt on that for the foreseeable future. I’ve also gotten back on the treadmill a couple of times. I’ve decided that more pain in my bad foot is worth the exchange of feeling better in the rest of my body. But I also devote spare minutes of every hour to stretch and massage my foot and leg, so I think that’s actually getting a little better too.
I’ve also felt very productive this week. I finished that online business class I was talking – a lot faster than expected! It was really refreshing to stretch my mind in different ways, and learn more efficient ways to run the business end of things. While there’s still some more office work I should probably do soon, I was desperate to get back to the fun stuff and spent all day Friday and this morning sewing my first batch of dolls in over a month. I’ve also cooked A LOT of food this week. Which to me is always a double edged sword. I love feeling like I’m feeding myself nutritious and wholesomely made food. And I resent how dang long it takes to research, plan, shop for, prep, make, and clean up after that food. It could very easily become a full time job and I don’t like it. It shouldn’t require so much energy to eat food that’s good for you.
While it’s been a great week in many ways, I’ve also found myself spending half the week feeling very depressed. It’s like all the good things I’ve been doing to nourish myself are uncovering a lot of the deeper issues I’ve been hiding away for a very long time. I’ve been trying to just let the bad feelings come and pass over me as some form of healing while trying to move on. But…I don’t know. Sometimes it’s really hard to just get out of the chair and get back to doing something good. Also – it’s cold. January in Wisconsin is a hard time to be happy, period.
Anyway. I was going to share about some of the food I made this week, but I think I’ll save it for a belated Friday Favorites post I’ll write next. But back to the week – I spent Monday and Tuesday working on the class. On Wednesday morning I had a coffee scheduled, but only one of my friends ended up being able to come. It was great to catch up with her, though!
I decided to take Thursday as a day to celebrate finishing the class, so I went to some of my favorite stores in Madison to browse around. I wanted to get lunch at Bartaco (my favorite Madison tacos!), but it’s in such an inconvenient location that I just ended up at Chipotle instead. Still delicious, but not very special. I also changed up our bedding on Thursday. I’ve been on the lookout for a new comforter for ages and finally found one I liked. It feels like a very cozy change of pace. Jack definitely approves!
And on Friday I got back to work! I spent so much of 2019 making dolls with only the business side of things on my mind. Which is funny to say since I spent this week focusing on the BUSINESS side of things. What I mean is that I was only making larger dolls and dolls that were quickest to make (no painting on the legs, only pigtail hairstyles) because I wanted to get as much money as I could as quickly as possible. Which is MAYBE a good business plan? But for someone who really just desperately wants to be creative, it wasn’t working out for me very well. I’m not sure how the rest of the year will go, but for RIGHT NOW, when I’m focusing so hard on nourishing my needs, I’ve decided to just do whatever I feel like doing, even if it’s not going to bring in a huge profit. I’m hoping in two weeks I’ll reopen my shop with a lot of new inventory. Giving myself a little leeway to only think about the creating side of things is really what I need right now. Though I’m so excited about all my new ideas I’m a little worried that might bog me down as well! Balance, like always, that elusive idea.
I was excited to have a weekend free of plans, especially with a snowfall overnight and another one starting right now. But those feelings of being trapped with so much video game and youtube noise is quickly driving me to insanity again. There has not been enough of a break between Christmas vacation and this weekend! But I’m trying to keep my head down and just focus on the fun things I wanted to do this weekend. While I’m very anxious to immediately start on my next batch of dolls, I also FINALLY found a Cricut project I’m excited about doing, so that’s up next. Plus my pile of cookbooks and books and planning for the week ahead.
Next week should be a nice mix of work and fun. I have a lunch scheduled with a friend Tuesday. And then Greg and I are going to see his favorite podcast live on Thursday night. Friday is our 20TH anniversary of being together, so we’re making a little mini vacation out of it. I hope the weather cooperates so we can walk around Milwaukee a bit. But either way, it’ll be nice to have a little trip. I don’t think we’re going to have a chance to really do much for our wedding anniversary this year, so I’d like for this one to be special.
Whew, it’s been an exhausting weekend! It’s been an exhausting week, with the end of Christmas vacation, New Year’s festivities, and jumping back into the swing of things Thursday. I’ve been trying to pace myself getting my life back in order, with as little freaking out as possible about time going too quickly and not getting enough done. I’M TRYING. But it’s officially been a month since I’ve done any sewing and I’m still not sure I’m going to have a chance to do it this week because I have a huge work related thing I need to get through before I can actually start sewing again. I miss it! I really miss making money. 😛 But day by day, decision by decision, I’m trying to just do what I can and know I’ll get back to my dolls eventually.
On Monday, Greg went into work and I took the boys to Madison because Caden had a dentist appointment. We stopped at Starbucks and a grocery store before I dropped Caden off at a friend’s house for a few hours.
Tuesday was New Year’s Eve. It already feels like ages ago. Oh yes, we had a big snowfall overnight, so we all spent the morning shoveling because Greg was having issues getting the snowblower started for the first time this season. He was also working at home while the boys and I were enjoying our last day of mostly chilling around. I think I was writing blog posts.
Our night was fun! Nothing super exciting, but it’s exactly the way I like it. I made a huge cheese platter that we all stuffed ourselves on and then we watched the third How to Train Your Dragon movie, Abominable, and a bunch of Netflix countdowns before putting the boys to bed around 10. Then Greg and I watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood until about 11:45 and then went up to bed to read. So we WERE awake at midnight, barely. I almost never make it that late, so it was impressive. It was a really nice night, though. No fighting, no drama, just movies and food and laughter.
We had a New Year’s lunch with ping pong and puzzles and Great British Bake Off Holiday Specials with the in-law’s and then headed home to get back on track for school and everything.
I was THRILLED to get everyone off to school and work on Thursday. I should have enjoyed finally having the house to myself, but after feeling trapped at home for most of break with sick kids, I was antsy to get out and enjoy myself. I ran a few necessary errands (mostly involving buying three different shovels from three different stores), went to a few of my favorite stores to just leisurely look around, and then had a lunch out, enjoying every bite of food that I didn’t have to make myself. Making three meals a day for all four of us for over a week straight is EXHAUSTING. I think I spent at least half my day in the kitchen every single day.
On Friday I was ready to get down to work and I spent most of my day at the computer, closing out all the distractions, and focusing on this work-related class I’m taking, trying to learn a lot more about the actual business side of being a business owner. It’s important stuff and I feel like I can’t start creating again until I’ve finished. I’m hoping to really power through and get it done this week, even though it’s supposed to take 2-4 weeks.
Shepard’s new glasses came in, so I nabbed him on his way home from school to go pick them up. They’re the same as the old ones, but black instead of blue. They put plastic lenses in instead of glass and I wish I had asked more about the difference, other than them being cheaper. This pair seems extremely reflective and I don’t like it (though I wouldn’t say that to him). Fortunately, I guess, we also ordered a cheaper pair from Zenni because he was OBSESSED with wanting transitions lenses and we didn’t believe that he’d actually like them and didn’t want to waste so much money on them at the eye doctor. But that pair came yesterday and he likes them a lot more, so I guess that’s what he’ll be wearing most of the time. They look almost the same, but a more matte black frame, and – they’ll transition when he’s outside.
On Saturday we FINALLY had a chance to go see Little Women. Unfortunately, I had a terrible headache the entire day that I couldn’t seem to shake, so it did put a bit of a damper on the date. But we went to Guimo’s to get some yummy Mexican food, stopped at Target to buy cat litter, and then saw the movie. I liked it a lot! I spent the entire rest of the day laying on the futon reading an awesome book (The Grace Year).
We spent all of today putting away the Christmas decorations. Whew! I should say that GREG and I put everything away, while the boys just whined about it and maybe did five whole minutes worth of work. I was getting pretty stressed out because every cleared area meant that I actually had to start more projects to rearrange all my stuff after the influx of Christmas gifts. I ended up taking ALL my books off all my shelves and rearranging all of them. And let’s just say – I have a lot of books that I really need to read.
Anyway, it was not the most fun of days, but Christmas stuff is put away! I’m glad we got it all done and now I can move on with my life.
I’m not sure I want to do Sunday Intentions anymore, in lieu of my new plan of not putting so many goals and expectations on my time. But it looks to be a pretty quiet week ahead, with just a coffee morning with friends on Wednesday and getting my brakes replaced on Friday. I’m planning to just focus on my coursework and hopefully going through a few more cookbooks to get good meal plans for the coming weeks. Greg gave me an air fryer for Christmas, but I have no idea what to do with it (I did ask for it!), so I need to find some great recipes. I also need to get back to eating well. I was doing so great until Christmas Eve and then it got hard again. It’s just plain really hard when everyone is home all the time. Easy well liked meals are more important than healthy meals, for my sanity’s sake.
I’ve been dreading writing this post because I’m not quite sure what to say about Christmas this year. I like to be authentic and honest in this space, refusing to gloss over or hide the truly hard parts of life. But at the same time, I know that I’m fairly pessimistic a lot of the time, and people don’t want to read about depressing things. Especially in what should be a light hearted, warm fuzzy memories Christmas post.
You learn pretty early to set your holiday expectations LOW when you have kids. Babies and toddlers are on their own schedules with their own agendas and they don’t handle chaos and change very well. You expect Christmastime to be this magical experience and it’s usually anything but. You learn to adapt to what your kids need, deal with the disappointment of relatives when you have to say no to things, and try to keep everyone as happy as possible when all you really want to do is go hide in a dark room and cry. It’s so much about putting on your brave face, ignoring what’s really going on in your heart, and just trying to get through it, focusing on the good parts of the season.
I’ve gotten so used to this over the last eleven years, being blessed with a child who is especially difficult when literally anything changes in his homebody lifestyle. It doesn’t matter how exciting the holiday or event, it doesn’t matter what relative he adores is in town, it doesn’t matter what he’s promised as a reward or what he’s threatened as a punishment, he WILL NOT COOPERATE. He will make sure everybody knows in the most dramatic, violent, cruel, and angry way as possible how upset he is about these new expectations on him. Normally if we talk things through over and over days in advance, he’s a little bit better about going with the flow when the time comes. But this year? He wasn’t having it. He made it his life goal this past week to make every morning before we left the house as terrible as he possibly could. Which really puts a damper on our own ability to carry on and have a great day ourselves.
I do want to make it clear that once we left the house, at every party and event we went to, everything was fine. He didn’t act out anywhere else, which isn’t always the case, so…progress? I’m thankful for the time we got to spend with family and how much effort our parents went to to provide some really great Christmas get togethers and meals. Nothing about my negative Christmas experience has anything to do with anyone other than the members of my immediate family. I think it was even harder this year because normally I can at least depend on Greg to be on my side because he’s the only other person in the world who understands how difficult it is dealing with this particular child. But we seemed to keep getting our signals crossed this year, resulting in a whole lot of silent treatment – our best fighting skill. So in the end, it felt like a very lonely couple of days.
Anyway! Now that that’s out of my system, back to my recap of the week. Sunday was the day I was most worried about because it involved three different events. After a repeat of Saturday’s morning, we decided to leave Caden at my parent’s house with Annie for the day, eliminating his presence at two events. It ended up working out well, giving him time to play with Hudson and giving my mom a little time to get a few things done, while the rest of us got a much needed break from his verbal abuse. We joined Greg’s family at church to watch his dad in the cantada. Then we drove up to Oshkosh for the big extended family party. Shepard kept refusing to do anything with the other kid cousins, but he was making himself pretty comfortable with older male cousins and uncles that he barely knows, joining in their conversations like a tiny adult. I thought it was hilarious.
We stopped at Starbucks after the party to reward Shepard for behaving so well and to give me a much needed pick me up.
We spent the rest of the day celebrating my dad’s birthday. It’s unfortunate that his birthday is right by Christmas when he’s working like 18 hour days at FedEx. But he had the whole day off, Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson were also available, so we were able to celebrate all together.
It was a really nice low key and relaxed evening.
I really liked watching the cousins play together. Hudson was obsessed with going in Annie’s kennel and kept insisting the boys go in with him. He’s so cute! I’m glad my boys are willing to play with him at his level and aren’t “too cool” for toddlers yet!
On Monday morning we did our own family Christmas at home. I like to do it early every year before the novelty of big gift exchanges wears off. Though they don’t seem as overwhelmed by it as they did when they were younger. But it’s still nice to carve out half a day just for us in the midst of so much extended family time.
Shepard picked this mug out for me when we did our Target shopping a few weeks ago. I laughed so hard when I opened it! Greg said he went right to that one and insisted on it. Such a funny kid.
We spent the night of the 23rd exchanging gifts and having a nice dinner with Greg’s family. Normally we do both families on the 24th, but we had to rearrange a bit this year with Greg’s sister and brother-in-law needing to fly out on the 24th. I really liked separating the events, though. It felt so much more relaxed during the opening (because we didn’t have another one to rush off to) and during our annual brunch on the 24th (because we weren’t rushing to get to presents). I didn’t take any photos that night, unfortunately.
We went over as early as we could get moving on the 24th to have brunch with the Noe side. It was really nice!
We used a selfie stick to get a picture with everyone in it.
We left at the same time all the siblings went to the airport to spend as much remaining time with Hudson (and the rest) as possible on their last day in town as well.
It was a little bit cooler, but still nice enough to play outside for part of the afternoon. I heard that we had record breaking warm temperatures this week, which is crazy. Normally I’m all about wanting a white Christmas, but this year it’s been really great NOT having to constantly worry about falling, or trying to fit shoveling into already very busy schedules.
Annie got to have a sleepover on the 23rd, spending lots of time with Grandma and her dog aunts. She loves going over there with a huge fenced in yard to run around in. Plus three other pet dishes to steal food from!
I tried really hard to stay on track with my eating plans in the days and parties before just so I could indulge in this snack feast with no guilt on Christmas Eve. This probably wasn’t even half of the food that my mom kept adding to throughout the day! I totally went overboard, but it was so worth it. YUM.
My dad got home from work at 4 – probably the earliest ever! (Though he also had to get up at 2!) We had to have a round of Christmas carols and toddler tunes before we could open gifts.
After the big present opening, everyone just kind of zoned out. I was really zoned out half the day, I was so wiped out! It was really nice to just read and doze for a couple hours in the afternoon while Hudson was napping. Christmas is exhausting!
We both looked pretty out of it by the end of the night! Hudson tried on some new jammies and we said goodbye.
And the night ended with a Santa visit. Despite how the beginning of this month started with a lot of questioning, both of my kids still firmly believe in his existence. I’m happy to have had another year of the magic, but I can also see how things could feel a lot easier once they know the truth. One of the hardest things this year was that Shepard’s list for Santa only included things that were ridiculously expensive and inappropriate for an 8 year old. Like an iphone, a gaming computer, some sort of massive four wheeler. We’ve NEVER had Santa bring the bigger gifts, so I don’t know why he got it into his head that this year would be his year. His reasoning was that Santa doesn’t need money because he makes everything, so he’ll bring kids what they ask for. It was kind of hard to see how sad he was to not get any of those things, even though it really was unreasonable. He told someone a few days later that his favorite present was a box of Nerds because it was the only thing on his list that he actually got. (Though it didn’t come from Santa!) Sigh.
Everyone was up bright and early Christmas morning. Annie took care of Santa’s cookie and milk leftovers. We opened our gifts and stockings and then Greg went back to bed, the boys went to game, and I spent basically the entire day reading and napping. When Greg woke up again he went to spend a few hours with his family, while the rest of us stayed home to chill. It was so luxurious to have a day where I truly felt I could ignore all responsibility and just relax. I did put together an easy but nice dinner, but the rest of the day was just doing what I love most – reading an addictive book.
Thursday, the 26th, is what I like to call my annual wrapping paper restock day. I left the house as early as I could to get to Target to stock up. I also did a big grocery run, walked through all the clearance at TJMaxx, and zipped down to Trader Joe’s to get a few fun treats for New Year’s Eve. I was planning to spend most of the day out and about, but Greg and the boys went to Beaver Dam again and the draw of having a few hours home alone was just too strong. Though they got home soon after me, so I just spent the whole afternoon in bed reading and napping. This week has done a number on me – I’m so tired! Later that day Shepard had an eye appointment and he picked out new glasses – the same pair, but with slightly different coloring. I made another nice dinner (I’m always so excited about making dinner after a week of snacks and treats!) and we picked up Culver’s ice cream for dessert.
And Friday. MEH. I was in a pretty crappy mood Friday. Greg and Shepard had bad colds at the start of all the Christmas festivities, but Caden woke up with a cold AND a hacking cough on Christmas Day. So even though I was so desperate to have more time at my own house, now that I feel like we’re trapped here because of his sickness, it’s depressing me. I really want to go see Little Women with Greg, but…Caden. I also spent half the day in the kitchen, which is always a blessing and a curse. I love making good food, but I resent the fact that it’s always all on me to do it. And when it literally takes up half my day, I get frustrated. I’m always stressed out by the piles of new gifts that I know nobody but me is ever going to put away or organize. I have so many things I could and should be doing, but I have a terrible time concentrating when there is so much going on around me, so I feel like I can’t really do anything. I can’t even do the fun things, like watch my own tv shows or listen to my podcasts or music. And I’m SO angry at my stupid foot and how it’s stopping me from exercising. So…it wasn’t a very good day. Not because of anyone else, just me reacting to a lack of time alone, lack of quiet, lack of sleep, lack of physical outlet for my building stress.
But it’s a new day. I’m hoping to power through and get a few things done this weekend, even if it means wearing ear plugs or dragging all of my stuff upstairs to my bedroom. I think it might also be a good idea to just start some dolls. It’s been almost a month since I’ve done any sewing and I NEED that creative outlet in my life. There are still five more days before everyone goes back to work and school and I need to make the most of them.
So that was our Christmas! The usual rollercoaster of emotions. I had a really nice time seeing all of our out of town siblings and nephew and enjoying drama free get togethers with everyone. I really wish things on the home front had gone a lot more smoothly, but this is our life, mess and all.
Well, here we are at the end of another week and the start of Christmas week. It’s late, I’m exhausted, but I won’t be home at all tomorrow or most of the following couple of days and I didn’t want this week’s memories to disappear from the record, so I need to get this post written!
It was kind of a rough week, physically and mentally. My plantar fasciitis has come back with a vengeance. Even before I broke my ankle, every time I tried to get serious about walking a lot more or doing any sort of exercise, the plantar fasciitis would come back and it’s so incredibly painful I can barely even stand up, let alone try to do any sort of exercise. It’s so discouraging to feel like I can just never win. I get so excited about improving my physical health – especially now with the treadmill – but the more I walk the more extreme pain I’m in. It SUCKS. The only way to make it go away is to let it rest. I’ve still taken Annie for multiple short walks this week, but I think I’ve only been on the treadmill once. It’s really frustrating. And it hurts. A lot.
I also made the decision this week to cancel my Hope*Writers membership. I was so excited about it just a short month and a half ago, but life has been a hard reality check since coming home from the conference. There were a variety of reasons I finally made the decision to give this up, but the main one was just a lack of time and mental capacity for it. Trying to change the way I eat and cook and shop has been so all consuming and I still have so far to go. I also have basically zero inventory for Heartstring Annie and need to get really serious about stocking my shop back up in the next few months after not giving it much attention this fall. Hope*Writers was just one more thing that made me feel like I was failing at life. At the bare minimum as a member I should have attended the live weekly classes on Tuesdays. In seven weeks, I managed to prioritize it 1.5 times. If I can’t even do that, I’m certainly not making the effort to do any of the other aspects of membership. I’m really disappointed in myself for this decision, but I think it was the right one for this season of my life.
Anyway. I spent all day Monday running all of my necessary errands. And it took me about a full week in total, but I eventually went through my pantry and baking shelves and basement areas, switching all my new healthy food supplies into glass jars. They’re more appealing this way, they take up less space, and I’m much more likely to actually use them. I also made the final steps to throw away almost all the remaining junk food in the house.
I also spent a ton of time this week wrapping presents. For some reason I thought I could be done with it all in a day. Nope! I used to love wrapping presents, but it’s definitely lost its appeal to me.
On Wednesday I decided I deserved a little bit of fun, so I went to my favorite west side stores to browse around and pick up some final stocking stuffers. In the evening I made this gluten free banana pumpkin bread I wrote about yesterday. It was so good.
On Thursday I was prepared to finally buckle down and finish wrapping Santa gifts – only to have Shepard home from school because he had a bad headache and lost a lot of sleep. Fortunately after a few more hours of sleep he was feeling fine, so I was still able to take him to school and get what I needed to done. And then in the evening we met up with Greg’s parents and friend for Mod Pizza and Star Wars!
On Friday Caden participated in his middle school spelling bee! He was one of 24 kids in grades 3-8 to compete. He did well! He was so nervous, but we’re really proud of him for going up there and doing it. He had quite the support section with Greg and I, three of the grandparents, and an aunt and uncle!
After school we went to the in-law’s and out to dinner. It was a nice kick off to our Christmas festivities!
And then this morning was pretty awful. Always such an emotional roller coaster around here. It’s so hard to know how to properly parent a child who has serious behavioral issues with being required to leave the house for any reason, no matter how special or fun it’s going to be. On one hand you assume that by age 11 he should be expected to go along with what we tell him to, no matter what. On the other hand, we’ve had 11 years of experience to tell us that’s just not going to go well and it’s only going to ruin the day for everyone. We need to prioritize HIS needs when we can, even if it upsets other people. It’s just not a battle we needed to have before the real days of Christmas celebrations even begin. Greg and I had very different ideas of what our plans were for today and because I was the one up six hours earlier than him, I’m the one the kids wanted to believe. In the end, he went off to spend the day with his family, and the boys and I stayed home. Them gaming, me getting things done. It was so beautiful outside, though, that we did take a break and run around the dog park for awhile.
We did decide to join most of the siblings for their pre-Star Wars dinner at Tipsy Cow tonight. Caden’s participation in the movie going was back and forth all day, but he ended up going with everyone as planned. Shepard and I came back home. Once is enough for me!
I finished the night making a French onion dip for my Dad’s birthday celebration tomorrow night. Now I’m ready to crash!
Our next few days are packed! We have early church tomorrow to watch my father-in-law sing in a cantada. Then we’re off to Oshkosh for Greg’s huge family party. And then back to my parents’ house for my dad’s birthday party. On Monday we’re going to open presents just the four of us and hopefully have a somewhat laid back morning of enjoying our new gifts. Then we’re doing a gift exchange and having dinner with Greg’s family. Christmas Eve will be back there again for brunch and then the rest of the day with my side. And Christmas Day we always leave open because chances are high most of us are pretty over traveling around by then and just want to enjoy some time at home. We’ll see, though. It should be a lot of fun if everyone stays in good spirits, myself included. I probably won’t have any time to write for awhile, so…. Merry Christmas!!
This may be one of my most boring weeks to reflect on ever. I was a little bit busy, still overwhelmed by some things, and just trying to get through it all. I should have been happy to have my first week off from sewing, but I kind of think sewing is what holds me together, even if it sometimes feels like what’s pushing me over the edge. I’ve been thinking that I might take at least a full month off to try and regroup and make a better business plan for the new year. I NEED to find a better way to manage my time so I can still be successful without it eating me alive and detracting from every other valuable part of my life. I have a friend with a similar handmade business and she sells all of her creations through once or twice a month “restock days.” I’m beginning to really see the appeal of working hard throughout, but only having the pressure to list everything and sell everything out and get it all prepped to ship in a single day. I think one of the most stressful parts for me is that constant feeling of needing to always put out new dolls, which in turn makes me feel like I need to make large batches, when really I’m SO much happier and creative and excited when I’m only making three or four dolls at a time. But releasing 3 or 4 dolls at a time only makes 3 or 4 people happy and that’s a whole different level of stress. Anyway, I have a vague plan to try and create 20-30 dolls before I reopen at some point in January. Which still means finding the time to actually MAKE those dolls, and I’m not quite sure it’ll happen in December. We’ll see how much I begin to miss it!
Getting back to my week – I ran errands on Monday, as always. And that night I put together this seed and nut bread that I bought the ingredients for weeks ago, but finally got around to making. I had such high hopes for it, but it ended up just kind of tasting like eating chunks of bird seed. The original recipe said to top it with something, but I couldn’t even get it to slice, so I just ate it in small chunks with a spoon. It might have been extremely healthy, but I wouldn’t make it again.
On Tuesday I went to Trader Joe’s, a couple of stores, and finished up at Mod Pizza for lunch with Cindy. It was a nice morning. I’m always up for Trader Joe’s!
Wednesday was a short day at school for the boys and Greg had meetings in Chicago, so the boys and I had a low key dinner and then decorated these chocolate trees I found at Trader Joe’s. I thought it would be easier than a gingerbread house, but the white chocolate icing was still pretty hard to work with. They didn’t care, though.
I’m not sure what I did Thursday (lol). I didn’t take any pictures that day, so I have nothing to spark my memory. I believe it was the only day I stayed home and tried to work on wrapping presents. Wrapping was my plan every single day this week and I still have so much left. I’m hoping to power through on a good chunk tonight, but we’ll see. I’m tired!
On Friday I spent the morning having coffee with my friends and running a few errands. My fourth day this week going to grocery stores because I keep trying these new recipes and keep missing out on random ingredients I need. This time it was arrowroot powder for a grain free pizza crust. I’m not exactly sure it turned out because the middle of the very thin crust looked like it was raw, but it tasted fine. Different. But still a workable vehicle for an otherwise tasty topped pizza including a burrata splurge I made at TJ’s. After dinner we all had a non-screen time family night reading or doing puzzles in the living room. It was very quaint!
We continued our family time by heading to Target this morning. I really want the boys to start being a little more invested in the giving aspect of Christmas, requiring them to actually walk through a store and pick small gifts out for each family member. I expected some resistance, but it actually went very well! I was impressed at how focused they each were when they had their turn with me. It was just tricky trying to hide the things in the cart that we picked out with one kid from the other kid when we switched! I was surprised at how not busy Target actually was, but we still went to HuHot afterward to celebrate the time out. It’s so rare that we do things like that just the four of us, so it felt very special. It was a really nice day.
Overall it was a pretty good week with a healthy sprinkling of continual emotional anxiety as I try to change over so many of my eating habits and get frustrated when I don’t know what to eat or really miss certain foods. I’ve been frustrated that I expected to have more time to read and rest this week, but there’s always SO MUCH to do. And it’ll never be done. Even without any plans to bake this week, I still can’t seem to get a handle on Christmas prep. I DID finally finish shopping, so that’s a huge relief! I’d just really like a few days of total rest and rejuvenation before our total crazy schedule the week of Christmas. It’s coming up way too fast!
The first week of December was gone in a flash! This has been a very focused yet stressful week of hard work that ended with an awesome party and a Saturday with nothing that absolutely needed to be done.
I had my biggest sale of the year on Cyber Monday, with 30% off. I’m only putting this picture up here because this particular set was my favorite and it’s STILL AVAILABLE (lol). I had a surprising number of sales over the weekend, basically wiping out most of my inventory. Which was great because it took some of the pressure off of feeling like I needed to make more dolls this month. I’m sure my customers would be thrilled if I did, but I need a break. But like always, I’m two days into my break and already wondering what type of dolls I should make next. I really do love making them. It just stresses me out to not have time for everything else I want to do.
I spent most of Tuesday working and then I did some whirlwind errand running in the afternoon. Grandma picked up the boys after chess club and I met Greg at the theater to watch Knives Out. I wish we could have had time to eat something too, but it was still a nice little date night at the movies. I’m not sure why, but I always want date nights in December more than any other month of the year. Hopefully we can have a real one at some point in the next few weeks.
I worked all day Wednesday and then had a coffee creamer comparison test. I’m still trying to find a good alternative to my favorite Italian Sweet Cream coffee creamer. I’ve tried just milk or half and half, the most logical swaps, but milk is so blah and I HATED the half and half taste. I had hazelnut almond milk creamer at the conference I went to with their free coffee and didn’t really like it either. So on Wednesday I tried macadamia fudge creamer, which was like a thick chocolatey substance, vanilla oatmilk, and French vanilla almond/coconut milk. They were all OKAY, but also all without sweetener, so not great. I finally bought some coconut sugar the other day, so I want to mix that in with the alternative creamers, but haven’t had a chance yet. I also picked up a “toffee tidings” almond milk creamer WITH sugar in it – but not so much other crappy stuff, so I’m hoping maybe that will be okay. I really wish I could just like black coffee! Maybe I can wean myself down to it. I’ve only been a coffee drinker for two years, so I’m still working on the acquired taste.
I kept my focus and continued to work hard all day Thursday until I FINISHED all the ornament sized pre-order dolls I sold on Black Friday! I honestly thought it would take me until at least Monday to complete them, so getting them done by Thursday afternoon was really exciting. I wouldn’t want to do pre-orders regularly, but it was a really convenient way to make money quickly AND make my customers very happy. This might need to be my new Black Friday tradition.
Yesterday was St. Nick’s Day! Since I was up early as always, BUT didn’t have work to do, I decided to make gluten free gingerbread for a breakfast treat. I’m actually not very fond of anything ginger/molasses flavored, but this was really good! It seemed a little labor intensive with so many ingredients, but it was nice to have a tasty warm breakfast ready for everyone when they woke up.
St. Nick brought us all some gifts. We each got a book (I got two!), the boys got mini rocket kits, the guys all got a condiment, Greg got tea, and I got a holiday coffee sampler. Nothing terribly exciting, but I at least thought it was nice, even if I was really just gifting to myself (lol). Shepard was mad that he didn’t get an iphone… He’s in for a lot of disappointment and feelings hurting this Christmas if he expects everything he opens to be an iphone. He was, however, quite excited about his bottle of bbq sauce.
I SHOULD have spent my Friday cleaning up and prepping for my party, but instead I ran to Madison to check on my favorite stores and put together little Christmas gift bags for all of my friends. That took my whole day, but it was totally worth it to make everyone feel appreciated AND knock them all off my present list so early in the month! I still had some time to spare before setting up my giant cheese tray.
The party was great! It felt a little more low key this year, but it was very nice. We all ate a lot of cheese, had good conversation, and enjoyed the favorite things gift exchange. I love this annual celebration with my friends! I continue to be so thankful for the women in my life who show up and make the effort to stay connected, even when life is crazy.
And that brings us to today. I was determined to have a day without putting any pressure on myself to DO THINGS. My only requirement was going on a treadmill walk because I haven’t been very consistent this week. I spent too much time on my computer, like always. Still determined to get my Christmas shopping done. I’m SO close. After lunch (more cheese) I went up to read and ended up sleeping for two and a half hours!! I probably could have slept more, but somebody started running up and down the stairs over and over for some unknown reason. I was really excited to come down and see that I got a surprise package from a Christmas book swap I signed up for. I’ve actually done four swaps in the last few weeks, but only received one and a half of them back so far. The first one a few weeks ago had some fun unicorn socks and tea – she told me she had books to send, but I still haven’t gotten any. It’s funny that in two BOOK exchanges, I haven’t actually gotten any books yet. Give me the books, people! I want ALL THE BOOKS. But today’s present was awesome! It was so spot on and perfect just for me, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even know me! It just feels so good when someone actually gets me. The group for this exchange partner is called “Sharks of Awesome” (for Penny Reid fans), which is the reason for the shark pencil sharpener – with a rainbow pencil! Anyway, it’s not been a very happy day around the house, so this really cheered me up.
Overall it’s been a pretty stressful week, but the worst is behind me! I’m really excited to spend the rest of the month just focusing on getting ready for Christmas, relaxing, reading, and spending time with family!
I have two weeks of recaps to run through today! I’ll try to stick with the highlights. Like this bread (lol). My neighbor gave me the recipe of this gluten free bread she loves to make – as well as a couple of slices. It was really delicious! I never would have guessed it was gluten free. So I bought the supplies and made my own loaf. It turned out perfectly! Unfortunately, the second day, after eating a few pieces for breakfast, I did NOT feel well. I was having pretty intense stomach pains and the only thing I could think of was that it was the bread. So I waited two full days until I felt fully better and then ate it again – a glutton for punishment. But I didn’t have the same symptoms, so it’s a mystery. I’m a bit hesitant to make it again, but I’m sure I will! Though I’m also trying to put my focus more on actual whole grain breads, since those are what’s best for my liver. I’m still not very clear on if gluten free flours are actually whole grains, or just NOT gluten. And gluten’s not my issue, the WHITE refined flour is.
One of my only real work related accomplishments this month was curating six beautiful themed “gift baskets.” I had SO much fun doing it. Plus it justified all my many TJMaxx random purchases! I sold four of them right away, but the other two are still currently available! 🙂 If I had all the time and space and the right customer base who was ready to spend tons of money on such things, I’d make gift collections like this for a living. SO much fun.
I had a sign painting party! I was really excited about hosting it, but then was a bit overwhelmed that I had to keep nagging people and practically begging for more participants. I don’t like feeling like I’m forcing people to do something! But we met the required 9 sign ups (plus one extra at the last minute!) – whew! And it was such a great evening!! I prepped a big cheese tray and flourless chocolate cake and then we all gathered for painting and conversation. I’m not sure I’d ever want to host again, but I’m still addicted to the creating part!
This is the sign I did. I painted it exactly like the example because I loved the color combination so much.
I was feeling a bit blue by this long and melancholy month that really felt nothing like FALL, so I decided to go ahead and swap out my Christmas mugs a few weeks early. They bring me so much joy!
My food adventures continued with a loaf of grainy bread and my favorite granola recipe. The bread was just okay. The flax seed made it taste very…healthy. It wasn’t awful, but I don’t think I’d make it again when I can buy a loaf of pretty healthy whole grain bread at the store that tastes a whole lot better. The granola recipe is delicious, but also not the healthiest. But I swapped the original pecans for red walnuts, which are supposedly the healthiest of walnuts and best nuts for people with liver disease.
Last Saturday was Caden’s Lego League competition. It started at 7:30 in the morning and went until after 5 at night. Greg and Caden were there from the start and Shepard and I went with the grandparents a few hours later. It was a really long and emotionally draining day for him. But I’m proud of him for sticking with it, despite how frustrating it sometimes was. He was going through a lot of mixed emotions throughout the day because he didn’t want to do well enough that they moved on to sectionals – he wanted to be DONE. But he also really, really, really hates not being great and getting recognition for things, so he was upset at the same time that they weren’t doing amazing or won any awards. But overall, they got in about the top 40% of the 38 teams there, which is pretty great considering they only had three members, they were all fifth graders (it went up to eighth grade), and it was their first year competing.
On Sunday, I had SO many things to catch up on. I was really feeling the impending deadline of BLACK FRIDAY and desperately needing a larger inventory so I could have a sale. I barely sewed at all this month between my vacation and liver biopsy related stuff and hosting and attending various get togethers. I had a pretty good plan for the day, but also made the suggestion that maybe we could bring the tree upstairs and get a start on it since Thanksgiving was so late this year. Greg proceeded to bring up every single Christmas decoration we had, giving me no choice but to ditch my agenda and spend the entire day swapping out decorations and setting up trees. Once it was done, I was thankful to have done it and to have done it early (it certainly made this past weekend so much more relaxing!). But at the time, I was basically on the brink of hysteria. I don’t like my agendas being messed with. I couldn’t have done anything I had planned anyway because every surface was covered in Christmas stuff! Anyway, for the record, I am thankful Greg made us power through and was quite helpful with the setup – not to mention carrying all those boxes and trees up and down our precarious basement steps so many times. But it was a stressful day.
By the end of the night I had the living room completely done. Greg set up the family room tree on his own, though I guess I haven’t taken a photo of that one yet. But we got enough done that all the boxes could go back down and I could sigh in relief!
On Monday I had a ton of errands to run. I knew I was going to be out the entire day, so I made a plan to go to this new restaurant Ancho and Agave that opened last month. It’s in Middleton, so I’m not there very often and didn’t know when I’d next have a chance. Anyway, the restaurant was really cute and the food was delicious! I loved all of it except the pork taco, which was cold by the time I ate it and kind of fatty. But I was so full by that point it didn’t really matter. I’d definitely go back. I like that I made myself go to a really tasty sit down restaurant rather than just grabbing something fast and terrible for me, the way that I used to do on long shopping days.
On Tuesday I set up my treat box for the delivery drivers! I’m so glad I saw this idea online a few years ago because I always feel guilty for how many packages I get. At least I can feel a little better by giving them treats the last five or six weeks of the year! Though I think it’s kind of funny that I decided to put pretzels and popcorn in the box to start, thinking maybe the delivery drivers would like slightly healthier options than chips. Nope! The only things taken all week were the Little Debbies and Oreos. I’ll pick out some different things when I get to Costco this week. (For the record, right after I wrote this paragraph a FedEx driver dropped off a package. Earlier today a USPS woman brought a pile of packages. So apparently it no longer matters that it’s Sunday, they’re still out working.)
On Tuesday I finished up a couple more Christmas dolls and then made a squash curry soup for our at home date night. I got the inspiration from Antoni on an episode of Queer Eye, but didn’t follow any specific recipe. I just roasted butternut squash, onions, and garlic with curry seasoning, salt, and cumin in the oven for awhile, then mixed it in the blender with chicken bone broth, put it back on the stove to simmer with a little bit of heavy cream, and then topped it with a teeny swirl of sour cream and cilantro. Anyway, Greg and I are not typical squash eaters, but we both loved the soup. I’m actually just really not a soup eater, but it’s kind of blowing my mind how easy and healthy it is to whip up something from scratch without a recipe, so it’s turning into a weekly occurrence.
Wednesday was more of a kitchen FAIL day. My only assignments for Thanksgiving dinner were to make rolls and one dessert. My favorite part of Thanksgiving meals are just eating little turkey sandwiches dipped in gravy – I’m not such a fan of all the traditional sides. So I wanted to make something I could eat without feeling guilty and chose a honey wheat recipe that looked fool proof. I also made some honey butter rolled Parker house buns, but it only made 12 and we were going to have 10 people there and I assumed most of them would want the white option. So then I decided to make a cranberry walnut loaf of bread with an 18 hour rise time – but with wheat flour instead. I finally moved on to the pecan pie cheesecake, only to forget to add the heavy cream at the end – which I had poured into the measuring cup, but for some reason didn’t add to the cheesecake! I think it turned out fine without it, but of course I didn’t know that until the next night when we ate it! Meanwhile, Greg came home and asked if he could have a wheat bun. He took a bite and said “Is this from a bad batch?” And then I burst into tears and immediately started hunting down other recipes. I proceeded to spend the entire night making pretzel buns – very untraditional, but also the only rolls I never mess up – and a new beer cheese roll recipe. And of course during all this I was also trying each roll, even though I shouldn’t be eating three of them, but I needed to make sure they were servable. What sounded like a pretty easy baking assignment this year turned into twelve solid hours in the kitchen with the only thing that seemed to really work being pretzel buns, and I was kind of a wreck by the end of it. I baked the cranberry walnut bread in the morning, but decided not to bring it with me. (This is my all time favorite kind of bread and changing it to wheat was a sad disappointment. I’ve still been eating a slice for breakfast every day, but it’s definitely not the same!) In the end, I realized that everyone else really just wants to eat the sides and after sitting on the counter untouched for the last few days, I dumped them all last night. What a waste of my emotional energy! Remind me next year to just make pretzel buns and be done with it. 😛 Or just BUY SOME. Caden and I are very similar in this regard (and a lot of things) – I want to be really great at everything I do, and I am not great at roll making. I should stick with desserts because I’m actually good at that.
Thanksgiving Day was really nice! I took Annie to the dog park in the morning – our tradition. Then we took our Christmas card photos by the tree. The boys would only cooperate for two rounds of 10 shot photos, but we actually got a really nice one right away. I was able to order cards for super cheap on Friday.
We spent the rest of the day at the in-law’s, just relaxing and eating! I was mostly reading because my brain couldn’t handle playing board games like everyone else. The food was delicious, as always! I tried my mom’s sweet potato casserole for the first time this year and am mad at how many years I was missing out on something so delicious! The cheesecake also tasted great, though as usual I seemed to be the only one actually interested in dessert because I don’t go crazy overboard during the meal. Overall, it was a really nice day together with family.
Earlier in the week I had a great idea to solve my lack of new inventory Black Friday problem. PRE-ORDERS. Every year I get so many people asking me for ornament sized dolls and every year people are disappointed if they didn’t get one. So I had the grand idea to offer pre-orders this year, rather than a discount. And I think it worked out perfectly! I ended up with 18 doll orders. Enough to feel very successful, but not so many that I’m crazy overwhelmed by it. And it hopefully made everyone happy! On Saturday I offered a 20% off sale that was supposed to end at midnight, but is still running today, apparently. Oh well. There might be one last slightly better deal tomorrow for Cyber Monday. My hope is that I’ll make enough sales this weekend that the pressure will be off to produce a ton more new dolls in December.
On Friday afternoon I met my in-laws at the theater and we saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It was a really great movie!
On Friday night we went to Columbus’ Christmas parade, like we always do. It seemed slightly bigger this year! The weather wasn’t too bad and it was a fun time. Our neighbor friends came with us.
Yesterday was a fairly relaxed day. I have a zillion different things I should be doing, but I’m trying to force myself to let it go and just do what I want to do on weekends. I recently finished reading a book about managing and reversing liver disease and one of the biggest factors in diseases starting up or not getting better is actually just plain stress. And I’m stressed ALL. THE. TIME. And most of that stress is self-inflicted. I HAVE CONTROL. The problem is that I’m very controlling of myself and my time and I think it’s maybe destroying me. I need to let loose more often. Or…just do nothing.
I did participate in the local wine/soda walk yesterday with my friend Laura. It was so much fun! We were mostly interested in just checking out the fun little gift shops around town and spending a few hours hanging out. I purchased a few little items at every store, making me feel like a great Small Business Saturday shopper! 🙂 It was a really enjoyable event.
And now it’s December! Twinkle the Elf made a re-appearance. All week long the boys have been talking about how they can’t wait for him to come and bring donuts. With all these new healthy mindset thoughts CONSTANTLY on my brain, I had a tough time buying these donuts for them. But it’s apparently one of their all time favorite traditions, so it needed to happen. We also got to open day one on our five advent calenders! Greg surprised me with a hot sauce advent! Jack was very jealous of Annie’s calendar, so we had to bring over a bag of cat treats so he can get something every day too.
Shepard and I set up my last little rainbow Christmas tree this morning, so now we’re officially decorated. The rest of the day has just been very chill! I wrapped up orders, made a pizza, and took my first nap in ages. I’d like to get a jump on my pre-order dolls tonight, but we’ll see how I’m feeling. I need to meal plan too.
I think it’ll be a pretty low key week! Annie has a grooming appointment tomorrow, so I’m hoping to really devote the whole day to sewing. Tuesday will be errands. Wednesday more sewing. Thursday sewing and cleaning. And Friday prepping for my Favorite Things Party that night! Friday’s also St. Nick’s Day. It should actually be a pretty great week.
My biggest goal for the week is to get to Friday and feel prepared. I still have no clue what St. Nick might be bringing everyone this year. I also need to gather and wrap my favorite things for the party. I don’t want to spend Friday feeling like a crazy person trying to get everything cleaned and set up last minute, the way that I did before my sign painting party. If I can stay on track all week doing little things here and there, it should all go smoothly without too much stress.
My other goal this week is to go through a stack of cookbooks I bought about a month ago and haven’t even opened yet. I want some serious inspiration AND A PLAN for cooking whole and delicious foods this month. I want to be prepared so we’re not resorting to frozen meals. They’re fine every once in awhile, but I want to really focus on feeding myself and my family nourishing food at home to counteract all the other things we’ll be eating when we’re out of the house around Christmas. Balance!
Anyway, no meal plan yet since I’m hoping to go through a cookbook yet tonight. But first – treadmill time!
Tuesday I was wildly trying to catch up on laundry, get enough groceries to last through the week, clean, work on all my new website plans, and write the post about North Carolina!
Wednesday was my liver biopsy. All in all, it was actually a pretty boring procedure. The hospital was ahead of schedule, but that still meant we were just waiting around in every room because nothing was prepped yet. Once everything was set up the actual procedure was only a couple of minutes long. After the numbing I really didn’t feel any pain, just the pressure of the needle going deep into my body. They put the needles through the middle of my chest-ish area, not on my right side (where the liver is!) as I expected. Then I was in a recovery room for a couple of hours.
I was nervous beforehand, but really just antsy to get it over with. I was not, however, prepared for how much pain I was going to be in during recovery. I guess I was one of the lucky ones who got a referred pain in my left arm/shoulder/neck. It honestly felt like I was having a heart attack (or what I assume a heart attack feels like), and it lasted the entire rest of the day. They gave me something to help the pain while I was in the room, but once I was up and walking to the car it all came rushing back. It was a pretty rough afternoon and night because every teeny tiny movement felt like electrical shocks through my body. It HURT. But I survived. I’ll get the results from the test sometime this week. I’ve made my peace with either outcome. No matter what I’m still going to keep working on changing my diet and exercise habits. And if I have hepatitis, I think that really just means I’ll have to go on medication. And probably be monitored more closely.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel on Thursday, so I gave myself the day to try and relax. I don’t really remember how I spent the day! I don’t think I was just laying around, though.
Friday I did the #onedayhh instagram photo challenge, documenting my entire day. So…I won’t write about that yet because I plan on posting about it soon.
I spent most of Saturday on my computer, working on my gift guides and working on getting to instagram with all the companies tagged and linked up, etc. I’m really excited about upping my social media presence, but I also have A LOT to learn. It’s a bit overwhelming. I need to step away from it this week and get back to REAL work, though. I need to make some money. And make my customers happy.
This morning I went to my goddaughter McKenna’s hockey game. I’m not able to go to her birthday party this year, so I wanted a chance to see her. It was fun! I’ve never been to a kid hockey game before. Then since I was already in Madison I decided it made sense for me to run all my errands rather than go back tomorrow as planned. I always forget how awful running errands on weekends is. So many more people. It felt like it took me three times longer to go to the same amount of stores. I also have a sinus cold right now, so it wasn’t really helping make the day feel like it was going smoothly. But errands are done for the week! Greg and the boys were gone when I got back and after putting all the groceries away I got a second wind and started some cleaning and organizing projects. Always so much to do.
It’s a MOSTLY normal week ahead. Feels like first one in ages. All five days are completely free for me to stay home and work and actually be productive. On Wednesday night I’m having a sign painting party, so I will need to do some cleaning and a little bit of food prep for that. And Saturday is Caden’s Lego League competition, though we still don’t know what time it’s going to be at (I don’t know where it is either, but I think Greg has that information). I can’t understand how less than a week before the event it still doesn’t have a start time when they’ve been working toward this event for three months. But…I guess that’s just how it works? I’m just happy to have a lighter week, finally. Next week’s Thanksgiving and then it’s practically Christmas and December will be insane. I need to GET STUFF DONE this week.
My main intention for this week is to get back on track food-wise. I was doing pretty good, but vacation really messed me up. I’ve been feeling deprived and stressed this past week trying to figure out what I can eat again. But I bought a ton of ingredients while I was shopping today to hopefully be able to make all my own foods this week. It’s a priority.
I also need to make dolls. Seriously. Last week I made two book swap dolls so I could get those finished up and out of the house, but I haven’t made shop dolls in weeks! Yikes. I normally have some kind of great Black Friday weekend sale figured out, but I just don’t think I’m going to have time this year. I had the grand idea to make “gift baskets” with a couple of different themes, which are going to be AWESOME, but they’re also a lot more work, will be a lot more expensive, and I really don’t know if they’ll sell. It’s a gamble. I’d love to have them finished up by Wednesday when I have my party, but I’m thinking Friday is probably more realistic!
And because I’m sick right now, I’d like to TRY to get a bit more rest. I’ve been sleeping terribly the last few weeks and not getting my regular naps because Rory has decided it’s fun to climb on my face every single time I start dozing off. He used to be my best cuddle buddy, but I think I’m going to need to lock him out. I’d like to try and make evenings more sacred rest times too. I’ve really let that intention go lately. All in all, it should be a good week.
Meal Plan (roughly)
Monday – Carne Asada Steak Tacos with Chipotle Sauce
Tuesday – Turkey Breast, Cauliflower Mash (trying it out!), and Asparagus
Wednesday – Party Night! I’m making one of my epic cheese platters
Thursday – Leftovers, I hope
Friday – Maybe I’ll try my first gluten free pizza 🙂
Saturday – Out somewhere to celebrate the end of Lego League
This has been a really sucky week. With the exception of two fun friend gatherings, everything else has been absolute crap.
It began on Monday when Shepard woke up for the third morning in a row with a mysterious migraine/fever – things that don’t usually go together. I was frustrated because I really needed to run errands, but obviously couldn’t send him to school or take him with me or leave him home alone. So he went back to bed for a couple of hours and woke up feeling completely fine. He was bouncing off the walls, so I decided to bring him to school around lunchtime. Then I rushed to Madison and did all my grocery shopping as quickly as I could before they got back home and I had to deal with more of Caden’s moaning and groaning about not wanting to go to Lego League. We still can’t understand why he hates it so much, other than that “it’s so boring!” It’s a small group and they depend on him participating, so we want him to see it through. But it’s causing some MAJOR strife around here. We also decided on Sunday night to try the week without video games. Not necessarily as a punishment, but to try and help them (mostly Caden) learn that life is not all about screen time. There ARE other things you can find to do with your time. Let’s just say it didn’t go over well. We had five straight days of hours of sobbing like his life was literally over. I’m not even trying to be flippant or joke about it – it was legitimately like he had nothing to live for. And as his parent, I just don’t know how to deal with that.
There was a Culver’s fundraiser that night for Shepard’s school and we were signed up to work at it. But we didn’t think that much stimulation, plus being around other people’s food, was the greatest idea, so we decided not to volunteer. But we did still go eat to support the school and Shepard was running rampant around Culver’s with his friends, which was not helping prove my case that he was too worn down to work!
On Tuesday we woke up to our first snowfall. And another fever/migraine. I sent Shepard back up to bed again and walked Caden to school. I assumed there was no way ice could actually be formed yet – it was October! I was wrong. I really was not prepared for the emotional stress of having snow this early in the year. We had a bunch more on Thursday. And we just had a bit today. I am having legit PTSD about walking outside. I actually think I was doing pretty well by last spring, but all the fear came flooding back this week. I’m so scared of falling again. Even if it’s not exactly icy – there are piles of leaves covering all the sidewalks. Wet leaf piles are very slippery! Walking on them with a crazy hyper dog does not help things! After two months of going on 2-3 good walks with Annie a day, I had to give it all up. Which has been really hard on both of us.
I was bummed, again, because I had lunch plans with my friend Laura that we’d had planned for weeks and I was really looking forward to. Shepard woke up feeling completely fine again, but I couldn’t exactly bring him to school midday for the second day in a row. Plus I couldn’t afford for him to be home again Wednesday morning, so he needed to stay home and get extra rest. Fortunately, Cindy was able to come over and sit with him for a few hours so I could still go to lunch. I really needed that time with a friend. And that food!
I finished up my second batch of little boy dolls on Tuesday night. They sold even faster than the first batch.
Wednesday is when everything really went downhill. I had that initial appointment with my new GI doctor. She was very kind and didn’t make me feel like this is all my fault, the way my internal doctor has in the past. But it still felt like a very discouraging visit. She is fairly certain that my mild fatty liver has gotten worse OR that I have autoimmune hepatitis. They did a fibroid scan right away to determine that I don’t have any scarring yet – which is a good thing! But I do have “a lot of fat in there.” Thanks. I had a humiliating breakdown in the middle of the visit when she started telling me how important intense exercise is to get rid of the fat that’s already in my liver. Between the fresh snow and ice (I was paralyzed with fear at the post office just that morning because their stupid marble steps were a complete sheet of ice and I couldn’t figure out how to get in or out of the building without risking my life!) plus the ankle pain I still have every single day – it was more than I could stand to hear. We did talk about diet changes, but she didn’t make them out to be as extreme as I’d been assuming. At least not to start with. And then she sent me down to the lab where they took a crazy amount of blood from me to run all kinds of tests.
So I’m obviously not qualified to interpret my own test results, but I’ve been getting steady email updates Thursday, Friday, and even today, informing me of my results. Other than slightly low iron levels, everything has come back normal – except the two tests that are indicators of an autoimmune disease. Once again, I know I shouldn’t rely on google to diagnose myself. But things are NOT feeling very good. No, I don’t like being diagnosed with “fatty liver disease.” What fat person wants to also draw more attention to that by having a disease with the word “fatty” in it?! But according to the doctor, since I haven’t had scarring yet, the fatty liver is reversible. And preventable. If I have autoimmune hepatitis – it’s not. I know it’s not exactly a death sentence and things could clearly be so much worse. But at the moment, with all the uncertainty and no real answers and no idea when I’ll get the answers, it feels very overwhelming. She called me on Friday to tell me that we do need to go through with a liver biopsy to rule out (or in) the autoimmune stuff. But I haven’t heard from the hospital yet and heard that scheduling could be weeks to over a month away. And then another week for results. And in the meantime? I just stew and wonder and worry and research and totally freak myself out. As much as exercising my way out of this problem scares me, having a chronic condition that can shorten my lifespan and might eventually require a liver transplant, scares me a whole lot more.
After another meltdown in the clinic parking lot, I tried to cheer myself up by having lunch at Bartaco and going to a few fun stores. But I felt too drained to really enjoy it. I headed back home to try and have a restful evening, while also having one of those rare single parenting nights because Greg was with a friend. The boys were pretty good for me, but only because I let them use their chromebooks to type stories and code things. Screens, without really being screens – the ones they want anyway.
In the midst of all this stuff going on, I was REALLY looking forward to Thursday. Another rare day with nothing on the calendar. I decided not to try and fit in any more sewing before my trip, so I was going to take the day to just clean a bit, read a lot, take a long nap, relax. And then we woke up to a whole lot more snow. Again. And when Greg announced he was going to work at home I kind of just lost it. I wasn’t mad at him – clearly I didn’t want him to risk icy roads when he has the safer option of working at home. But I was FURIOUS at how little control I feel like I have over my life right now. For being a “work at home mom” I spend very little time actually at home lately. Or working, for that matter. And I’m almost never truly alone with all these random sick days my family members keep taking. And I NEED that total solitude or I lose my mind. But of course Greg was offended or hurt and went to work at his parents’ house for the day – and came back and got the boys and went back again for the night. So I got my way. At the expense of having him angry at me and not understanding why that silence is so important to me to refuel after one of the most draining and emotionally distraught weeks of my life. And also without the at home date night together that I was actually looking forward to.
Friday morning was actually really nice. I had a coffee gathering with a group of friends, celebrating two of their birthdays. It was a good turn out! And really nice to share a bit of what’s going on face to face with people who care. I made a lemon cake that turned out to be delicious! And I never, ever eat lemon things. My new pourover stuff also got quite a workout! It was a good time.
After another really rough afternoon and early evening, I asked my dad if he could stop by on his way home to help Greg bring the treadmill into the house. My parents decided to give me their old one when I was lamenting about finding a way to exercise throughout the winter. He brought it over on Wednesday – of course one of the totally rare nights Greg wasn’t home to help! We planned on putting it in the basement – the only place that really made sense. But then it seemed like they were going to die just getting it up a few stairs into the house and they were both unsure it would actually fit going down our narrow basement stairwell. So we decided to put it in the living room instead. And it works pretty well!! The seating area looks a bit weirder with the futon kind of in front of the fireplace, but it works better than I ever could have expected it to. And let’s be honest, I’m much more likely to actually use it when it’s in the same room I spend most of my time in every day. I stayed up last night rearranging a few things until the room felt perfect again. My sanity depends on this room feeling perfect. 🙂
And that’s been my week! I’m trying to fight the urge to sew and find a million things to do this weekend, just giving myself time to rest and process everything that’s been going on. My trip to North Carolina is coming up in a few days and I don’t want to go into it being completely run down and exhausted. I’d also like to stop having emotional meltdowns every few hours. This really hasn’t been a good week for any of us or done our familial relationships any favors. Trying to change your entire life around in just a few weeks’ time is really, really exhausting.
October has shaped up to be one of the busiest and hardest months I’ve ever had. It’s been filled with a lot of great pockets of time connecting with friends and family. But it’s been alternated with so much stress and anxiety and emotional overwhelm. I don’t think I’ve ever let go of so many things go at once that are important to me in order to just survive my day to day life. I stopped filling out my bullet journal and organizing my tasks and giving myself a solid plan of what to work on every day. I stopped writing even the weekly blog posts that tend to ground and guide my weeks, and haven’t even considered writing anything beyond the occasional journal entry. I stopped listening to most podcasts in favor of soaking up the very rare silence or just listening to music instead. I slowed down so much on doll making, going up to a week at a time without even picking it up. And I’ve stopped reading. Not entirely. But this has been the slowest book month I’ve ever had. Lack of actual time is a big reason why, but I’ve definitely picked mindless phone scrolling over reading way too often.
There have been plenty of good things that have been filling my time that I definitely don’t regret. A group of my friends threw me a little birthday lunch, which was really awesome. It meant a lot to me that they cared about celebrating with me in the midst of their own crazy busy lives. I’ve also had two morning coffees at my house this month – with another one happening on Friday. I had a lunch date with another friend. And I have a lunch date with a friend this week as well. It’s been great reconnecting with everyone after what felt like an incredibly long dry spell. Female friendships are so important and we should all fight to keep them alive and thriving.
I’ve been dipping into some Cricut projects – really the main reason I wasn’t sewing for awhile there. These are the first three projects I did, using free files I found online. I was most impressed with how the mug turned out and might just focus on making more of those for gifts on upcoming holidays. I designed one myself to make for my friend Julie’s birthday and it turned out really nice. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed using my graphic design skills. But it also feels like starting completely from scratch – forget all those college classes and degree from a million years ago! So it’s very time consuming, requires a ton of research and searching for free things to work with before I can entirely design my own, and – I’m not that great at some of it. The main reason I wanted a Cricut was to make stencils and wooden signs. I’ve done a couple of stencils on canvas so far and they haven’t turned out at all. I’m hoping it’s just because of the canvas. I bought some wooden planks a few weeks ago to start practicing for real, but we haven’t found a time yet for Greg to help me use the rotary saw. That thing scares me.
Last weekend we got to spend a lot of time with Hudson, Timmy, and Brittany. The boys and I joined my mom in babysitting him on Saturday night and on Sunday we celebrated Brittany’s birthday. He was so much fun to hang out with! He’s talking so much and giggling and laughing about everything. His favorite thing was wrestling with the boys. He liked joining in on all their random snacking too.
It’s hard to go so many months in between seeing him, but it’s fun to see how much he’s changed in those time periods. He’s such a little cutie.
This last Thursday night we finally had some free time, so we carved pumpkins. Except that I was SO tired – it’s been a pretty sucky week, but more on that in a minute. Shepard had just cut his thumb playing gaga ball and didn’t want to get it full of pumpkin juice. And Caden was just not wanting to participate because he never wants to participate in ANYTHING. So Greg did all the scooping, we drew the faces, he did the carving. And he did it all in record time!
I worked on cleaning and making our pumpkin seeds. We always do one batch of salt, one dill and salt, and one chex mix flavors.
On Friday night we walked to the annual town bonfire. I always think it’s just a really nice memorable thing to participate in each year. It wasn’t quite as fun as last year because there was no DJ and Caden had zero interest in playing with his friends. I don’t know what’s been going on with him lately, but he’s having a rough time. Or he’s making choices that are making him feel like he’s having a rough time because he refuses to even try to be friendly with people anymore. But Shepard had a blast.
In a single day I actually made six little boy dolls from start to finish. It’s the first time I’ve made boys in almost two years. It’s the first time I’ve made dolls this small in probably at least six months. Dresses and long hair are what take the longest, so boys are very speedy! They all sold instantly. I started a second batch right away. I’ve needed a break from fall and Halloween dolls. Seasonal dolls kind of drag me down. It’s hard to feel super inspired when I feel like I have to make them. I don’t like being told what to do! So it was fun to throw in something different.
Last night we had our annual Halloween party with the grandparents and the city trick or treating. I wasn’t feeling super inspired this year, so I just made my annual pizza snake and a few snack mixes. Cindy brought caramel, apples, veggies and dip and sparking caramel apple cider. My mom brought a ham and cheese mummy and two desserts. It was a nice evening! Caden was being especially moody, but he perked up a bit as we were trick or treating. He was dressed as a dabbing taco. Shepard was his favorite youtuber, Unspeakable. Only one person recognized him and most people probably wondered why he wasn’t wearing a costume.
Annie was a rainbow and received A LOT of attention. The boys lasted longer than years past, but Shepard was still antsy to get back home and help hand out with Greg. Caden went back out for a few more houses.
Later in the evening there was a flashlight pumpkin hunt set up for older kids. I had signed Caden up thinking it would be something really fun to do, and extra special since only he was old enough. But he DID NOT want to go. But we were already planning to take Willow with us and I was sure he’d cheer up once he got there, so we went. It ended up being inside because it was raining by then, but we had to stand around for 40 minutes waiting for it to begin and he was moping and scowling and begging me to go home the entire time. Once the whistle blew he seemed to kind of enjoy himself, but it definitely wasn’t the fun memory I was expecting to make.
I just don’t know what to do with that kid. He’s always been like this – never wanting to do anything outside of the house. But it seems to be getting even worse. It’s infuriating trying to find this balance of encouraging things that might surprise him, while also realizing he is VERY much like me emotionally and not wanting to push him into more than he can handle. It’s hard to make him do things when I’m also in this season of life where new things are being thrown at me and added to the calendar every single day and I feel like I’m absolutely drowning, no matter how much fun those events might be. Despite the fact that he was super excited about the idea months ago, we didn’t force him into joining basketball this winter – a 3-4 night weekly commitment that he was flat out refusing to do. The deadline was this week and I just let it slide, even though Greg wanted to make him do it. I felt like that was just going to guarantee three months of all of us being miserable. I DID, however, make him sign up for chess club again. He loved it in spring, but wanted nothing to do with it this fall. They included a few younger grades this year, so Shepard actually joined too, which is probably the only reason he was convinced to go (he wasn’t “missing out” on game time if Shepard was with him at school). I’m trying so hard to help him with a balance, but he doesn’t make it easy. Ever.
So I had my annual doctor’s exam a few weeks ago. Which is more intensive than it used to be since I started having blood pressure and liver problems last year. All my female parts are in good working order and my blood pressure is under control with my meds. But my liver – it’s not good. I had to go back a second time since I hadn’t fasted the first time to get my labs done. I got the results the next day and my cholesterol is high and my liver values have doubled since February. NOT good. I won’t try to interpret the numbers on my own just yet, but I’ve been referred to a GI doctor and will see her this Wednesday. I obviously don’t know what she’ll say and what next steps might be, but this was the wake up call I guess I really needed to start genuinely changing my life around. And I’ve been going through all the shame and depression and mourning that comes with a self-induced disease that I have to somehow buck up and change entirely on my own if I want to stay alive. It sucks.
Changing my diet is basically the hardest thing in the entire world I can imagine doing. Last year when I had an ultrasound and was diagnosed with mild fatty liver, I was upset, but also motivated to start losing weight. I joined Noom, I started tracking food, and then I did really well for about four months when life took over and I gave up. This year, I don’t want to focus on losing weight. Because that feels temporary. Something to strive for, achieve, and then fall back into old habits. This time around, I NEED to change. I need to change basically everything. And I’m so, so overwhelmed by it. And honestly….just really sad. Refined carbs are the biggest contributor to fatty liver. And…I live on refined carbs. Hence my self induced disease and dealing with the shame that this is all my fault. I did this to myself. And I’m maybe doing it to my kids by allowing them to eat the same way I’ve eaten my whole life. So now not only do I have the pressure of changing my own diet, I’m also responsible for the three other people in my family and trying to change their diets too – which is SURELY going to be met with so many riots and anger and additional stress. I really don’t know if I can handle it.
I’m still waiting to see what the GI doctor specifically tells me I need to do, but I’ve started this week by eliminating almost all my usual carbs, trying out some keto recipes, adding green tea to my day, finding ways to add bone broth to many meals, and avoiding as many bad fats and sugar as possible. I’ve found some good ideas and worked on looking for substitutions to my favorite things to try and not make it feel like I’m suddenly doomed to a life of deprivation. But I’m also really struggling with how I’m going to live with this long term. I don’t like soup, unless it’s loaded with cheese and chips or crackers. I don’t like salad unless it’s covered in ranch and croutons. I have no idea what to eat for breakfast that will fill me up and not have carbs in it. I’ve been having yogurt with granola and bananas every day this week and while it is filling, it’s not really what I crave. It’s too sweet, mainly – I never like to eat sweet things in the morning because I get headaches from it. I honestly think I’d be okay giving up most desserts and sugary things, but I don’t know how to give up the salty things I basically live for. English muffins, chips, sandwiches, peanut butter toast, tacos, rice bowls. This whole week I’ve been cycling through feeling hopeful about some new ideas and absolute depression at how many things I have to let go of forever. I can’t encourage bad behavior by thinking I can eat most things in moderation. I know I can’t. I have to say give them up or this is never going to work.
Anyway, this whole process is just beginning and it’s been hard. But I honestly can already tell the difference in how I feel. Yesterday I was going up and down stairs over and over again and realized hey – my legs don’t hurt as much as they usually do. I’ve had some extra energy and have been taking Annie on two walks every day. And I haven’t given carbs up completely – I did still have grilled cheese and some amazing tomato soup twice this week, and I had a few small pieces of the pizza snake last night. But just not having anything refined for breakfast or lunch is already starting to help. And I want to hold on to those positive changes I can already see after such a short period of time and start craving more of that instead of only thinking about how much I’m losing. I have a long road ahead of me.
Well, usually when I write these monthly recap posts, I just address how I’ve come along on my goals for the month. And I’ll just sum it up quickly by saying I’ve been an utter failure this month! I couldn’t handle it. I did read SOME of my seasonal book stack. I have been taking a lot of walks, but haven’t done any yoga videos or enforced the idea of doing it first thing in the morning because so many mornings have held appointments or important errands. My daily writing practice has only come in the occasional early morning journal entry. And I did go to the theater – Greg and I saw Downton Abbey for my birthday date. I was still hoping to go on my own at some point, but there hasn’t been anything worth seeing.
I think that’s it! I’m finishing October off with a Culver’s fundraiser with Shepard tomorrow night, lunch with my friend Laura on Tuesday, the doctor on Wednesday, and a coffee morning on Friday. My trip to North Carolina is in just a week and a half, so I’m also trying to prepare for that. There’s been a whole lot of anxiety and doubt about that trip as well. It’s hard to feel excited about a writing conference when I haven’t been making writing a priority in a long time. But I have to trust that how I felt when I signed up was true and this WILL be a good thing. But now I also have the added stress of trying to find restaurant options ahead of time that will support these new dietary needs without getting there and having a ton of anxiety every time I need to eat. There’s just so much going on. And it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Maybe in January??