Saturday Reflections 11.02.2019

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 2019 Reflections, a Little Early

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??

It was my birthday.

It’s been a busy two weeks since my last update. SO busy. Again. Tons of really fun things, but it’s starting to feel a bit overwhelming. I’ve barely been home, I’ve had almost no time to sew, and worst of all – almost no time to read! I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, but this isn’t a lifestyle I can sustain long term. I love doing fun things, but I HATE feeling so out of control and behind on literally everything else. But, the last two weeks have been full of great memories, so I want to share!

Earlier this month I was running all those random and annoying errands I talked about in my last post. One of which was the boys getting flu shots. They did great!

I also hosted my second coffee morning! I’m still working out the kinks to see if I can make this a very dependable and regular event, but every week is so different I think I’m going to have to continue taking it month by month. Unfortunately, the coffee morning coincided with some awful rains that left most of the town dealing with flooded basements – us included. So not as many people were able to come, but it was still really great to connect with those that could! Greg worked at home that day to shop vac the back room in our basement that doesn’t slope to the drain over and over again. That’s also how I spent my Thursday that week.

Thursdays are proving to be the one day of the week I never seem to have a ton of stuff going on and I SHOULD be using that time to actually get to work, but both of the last two Thursdays were spent doing more self care type activities instead. Special candles, longer reading sessions, long naps, etc. I really need a solid chunk of time like that to recharge if I want to make it through a weekend.

Birthday presents started rolling in! My friend Dianne sent me these awesome hot sauces that she taste tested and picked out for me in NYC. I’m excited to try them out! I don’t have any photos, but I also got a happy lamp and face roller from my sister-in-law and her fiance that they gave me at Caden’s party.

Grandma gave the boys these big blanket sweaters and now they wear them ALL THE TIME. It’s hilarious. But also – it’s gotten really cold!! They will really come in handy this winter.

I had so many restaurant plans in the days before and after my birthday that I had to make sure the one day we were eating at home it was something I really liked, so I made my all time favorite jalapeno popper pizza on pretzel crust! It’s a tiny bit more work to make the crust, but SO worth it. Plus they have to be smaller sized, so we can all pick which toppings we want with no compromising.

One of my treats to myself this month was signing up for a weekly Halloween coffee subscription from my favorite roasters, Brandywine Coffee. Each week for five weeks I get a small bag of unique Halloween flavored coffees. So far “Halloween” tastes very savory. I’m hoping the closer we get to the actual date they make the blends a little sweeter!

Another present in the mail from my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I don’t think I’ve ever read Little Women! I’m excited to read it before the new movie comes out. I think it’ll be a good November read. And a gift card to go toward a rug I really wanted, and maybe already bought (keep reading lol).

That Saturday night we went to my parents’ for my first official birthday celebration! I just realized now that it’s larger I wasn’t even looking at the camera – oops! I made myself a butterscotch cake I’ve been wanting to try out for weeks. It was pretty good! Maybe a bit too sweet, though. I’d maybe do it with chocolate frosting if I did it again.

My parents made me a delicious dinner of foods that I like! And they gave me a great collection of coffee themed birthday gifts. I love the rainbow mug! And a larger pour over for my coffee mornings since my current one can only make a single cup. And local coffees! I’ve only tried the Nunatak Marsh Mud so far, but it’s really chocolatey and delicious!

I spent last Sunday finishing up some dolls. I decided to take a break from fall and Halloween and focused on birthday dolls and things that I enjoy – like tacos! This taco doll is still available, by the way. 🙂 She turned out so cute!

On Sunday afternoon we did the one thing that I like doing most on or around my birthday – picking out pumpkins! This year we decided to check out a new place everyone was talking about where the pumpkins were only $1. And they were so big too! The kids were much more interested in trying to find all the kittens, while I mostly picked out the pumpkins.

And then on Sunday night (it was a busy day!) the boys went to Grandma’s for a sleepover and Greg and I went on our first date in awhile. I picked Bartaco in Middleton, the place I went with my mom and the boys once this summer. They have my favorite tacos. They’re super tiny, but SO delicious. Greg loved them too. Afterward we walked around Hilldale Mall for a little bit and I splurged on a box of fancy chocolates. Greg was a little wide eyed at my financial life choices, but then he got an equally expensive Moscow Mule at the movie theater, so we were even. We finished the night watching the new Downton Abbey movie. I really liked it!

And finally, Monday was my birthday! I am officially 35. I feel like 35 is the year you officially become an adult, and I’m not so sure I like it. It could definitely be argued I “became an adult” the day I had my first child. But I’ve still felt relatively young, until now! I’m in the next age bracket on every survey I’ll take in the next 9 years! Anyway, there was no school on Monday because it was conference day, so Cindy kept the boys at her house a little longer so I could have the morning to myself. I wish I had spent it actually relaxing, but I was rushing around trying to catch up on tasks. Right after they got back we headed to school for conferences. They’re both doing great!

We met my mom at Ponderosa for lunch afterward. Then we went to Horicon to the place where we usually get pumpkins every year and they were no longer in existence! Quite the disappointment. So we stopped at the meat market while we were in town and then headed back home for a little bit of game/reading/rest time.

When Greg got home I opened my presents. They gave me a Cricut! I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making my own signs since I took that first class in August. I really wanted a Cricut so I could do projects on my own at home. I’m really excited to try it out, but also very intimidated. A week later, the box is still right where I unwrapped it. TOO BUSY. I was hoping to spend some time with it this weekend, but I’ve barely been home. I will, though! Soon.

My brother and sister-in-law sent me this bracelet. I already have it in gold and loved it so much I wanted it in silver too since I wear silver a lot more often (and strongly hate mixing metals). It says “She believed she could, so she did.” I’m trying to wear one of them every day to keep me motivated with taking better care of myself and never giving up, even on the hard days.

One other thing I bought for myself was this awesome rainbow “bookshelf” wall hanging. Awkward photo because it’s so high up on my wall above my desk. I LOVE it. I’ve been eyeing up this etsy shop’s instagram page for months, just waiting for a rainbow one to pop up. It was perfect timing for my birthday! I’m in love with it.

Caden had Lego League, but Greg, Shepard, our neighbor friend Leverett and I ended the night at the dog park. The weather was gorgeous, but unfortunately, Annie got attacked AGAIN. This was a full blown attack where the dog looked and sounded like he was legit trying to kill her. The other owner had to tackle his dog off of her. It was really scary. I have enough PTSD after the whole ear biting fiasco and this trip did not help ease my anxiety. We loved the dog park so much, and now I feel like we can’t trust it. Or we at least can’t trust it at night when a lot more unknown dogs are visiting.

Overall, it was a pretty low key, but really nice birthday. As good as it could be with the boys home most of the day. I’m more of a fan of weekday birthdays where I can do whatever I dang well please during the day and just enjoy my family for a few hours at night (lol). I was a little bit resentful that after two years of weekend day birthdays, I had to have yet another one with my kids home (and one of them super angry at me half the day because he didn’t feel like he had enough game time). But…it worked out pretty well.

By Tuesday I really needed to run errands, but Shepard was also home with me because he randomly threw up in his sleep Monday night. He did have some questionable yogurt before bed, so we’re guessing it was just that because he didn’t have a migraine. He was perfectly fine on Tuesday, but couldn’t go to school, so he ran errands with me. He’s a pretty great shopping companion on his own, but NEVER stops talking. We had a little down time at home in the afternoon before picking up Caden and bringing him to the doctor for his well child visit. He was much worse at the doctor this time, mostly because he was mad we were FORCING him to go out to eat again. I’m pretty sure all other children in the world would LOVE going out to eat multiple times a week, but not Caden! It’s pure torture, apparently. After the doctor we headed back to Sun Prairie to eat at HuHot and celebrate my birthday with Greg’s parents. I haven’t been there in ages, despite it being one of my favorite restaurants. It was SO good! And the boys absolutely loved the experience. At least until Shepard decided he NEEDED to know how to perfect his chopstick technique and it wasn’t going his way so he started crying and throwing his body around the booth while slamming his fists on the table. If you’re ever under any illusion from my instagram posts that life is just always hunky dory around here, believe me – IT’S NOT. Caden spent days acting like I was the worst person in the world simply for having a birthday and making us busier than normal so he couldn’t have as much game time as usual. I’m such a bad mom.

More lovely gifts! They gave me some new Pioneer Woman dishes and bowls, earrings, a Qdoba gift card, and some money to go toward my rug.

The birthday fun continued for one more day with a special joint birthday lunch out with my friend Nora! We went to Nitty Gritty and Beans and Cream for a coffee dessert. She made me a beautiful unicorn embroidery to hang in my sewing room. It was such a nice time together!

In between all the outings this week, I was also working hardcore in my sewing room to get things reorganized and cleared out to make room for my Cricut and more painting supplies, plus cleaning out under and around furniture to make more room for my new rug. I spent Thursday taking care of all kinds of random things, like switching out the boys’ school pictures. They both look so much older this year! It was a pretty exhausting day, but I felt very accomplished by the end of it! I had to remove some of the more decorative items that I don’t love as much as I used to and cleared off a whole shelf for my Cricut and changed another shelf as storage for all my paints.

I FINALLY sat down and started sewing on Friday morning. I decided to only make two large witch dolls this time around. Then my new rainbow rug arrived in the afternoon! I am obviously really bad at mental measuring because it is A LOT bigger than I was expecting. My last rug was 5×7 and always felt too small under the table of roughly the same dimensions. But this rug was only available in 4×6 or 8×11, so obviously I had to go with the bigger one! The real challenge is that I REALLY wanted to keep the matching runner in the room. I didn’t realize the chevron stripes were going to be wider on the bigger rug – I prefer the smaller ones and rainbow rugs really only belong in this one room of the house, so I had to make it work! It was a much bigger challenge than I was anticipating, but I think it looks pretty good in the end! Maybe a little silly, but they’re bright and beautiful and will really make the room warmer this winter. The pets love the carpeting!

On Friday night the boys got shipped off to Grandma’s again because we had tickets to see Rory Scovel’s comedy special in Madison! We both listen to the podcast Penpals, and we saw the other half of the duo, Daniel van Kirk, earlier this year, so we HAD to go see Rory when he was in town. Plus, he’s more of an actual celebrity and I thought it would just be cool to see him! We had dinner at a super cute, but very loud restaurant, Lucille. Greg loved his more unique pizza, my pepperoni was just okay. Then we rushed through the 30 degree raging winds down State Street (I don’t think we’ve EVER had good weather on a State Street date!) to Comedy on State. It was definitely a new experience for us – we had to lock up our phones in little cases, so no photos were taken. We were also required to buy a minimum of two drinks per person, which I was apprehensive about ahead of time because I really don’t drink and don’t like the idea of being forced to – but their cocktail menu was AMAZING. I had a salted caramel martini that was delightful, followed by a non alcoholic Bailey’s Mint Kiss coffee. And the show was great! So funny. We both really enjoyed it.

I spent almost all day Saturday doing a whirlwind shopping trip around Madison with Cindy. It was really fun! We both picked up some unique new treasures and gifts. Then I had a date with my computer to watch The Popcast’s live stream of their Dallas live show. It was such a fun experience! Maybe even more fun than being at a show in person because I got to be wildly entertained by the chat taking place at the same time among all the other Patreon supporters. They’ve only had two live shows this year, but are promising many more next year. Hopefully another will be within driving distance for me – I really enjoyed the one I went to in Chicago last year. But I’m really liking this new live stream thing too. Their $7/month Patreon is SO worth it.

And we’ve made it to today! I worked all morning and then Shepard and I were signed up to serve at his school’s community soup social. I was a little nervous about it, but he really wanted to do it and this is our last year at DCS, so we gave it a go. And it was really fun! I was at the drink station, filling up all the juices as they were taken. He was in charge of refilling all the cracker bowls around the tables. He and his friend Ava were having a grand time together!

I took a nap when we got back and then worked a few more hours until I finally finished up these witches! I LOVE this huge doll pattern. But, they’re also pretty expensive, so haven’t sold yet! I think this might be the last I make for Halloween. It’s another really busy week and doesn’t seem worth it to try and squeeze any more in when I know I won’t have any real time to sew until Thursday again – and that’s my self care day!

Sunday Intentions

Okay, briefly! I just said – busy week ahead. A LITTLE bit less busy. I definitely need to go run errands tomorrow. You could argue that I could save them for Tuesday when I’m going to be in Madison anyway for my doctor’s appointment, but I don’t like to give myself too many things to do in a day because I get angry and resentful and way too tired. So I’ll plan to do speed errands tomorrow morning and then MAYBE have time to check out my Cricut in the evening. Tuesday, I have my annual exam. I’m actually much more dreading the doctor’s lecturing on my internal health instead of all the womanly stuff. I know she’s not going to be happy with me. But Wednesday some of my friends are throwing me a belated birthday lunch, so at least I have that to look forward to! But the boys also have an early release from school, so it’ll be hard to get much done that afternoon. Then things slow down a little bit until Science Night at school Friday. And we get to hang out with my brother and his family this weekend! I know I should sew at some point this week. And I’d really love some more substantial reading time…

I think that’s it! I’m sick of arguing this point and wasn’t going to even bring it up, but….it was a good birthday run. I sometimes get teased by people for making too big of a deal out of it. I honestly don’t feel like I do and I already pointed out that it’s NOT all sunshine and rainbows around here. I just want to create situations in my life, especially around my birthday, where happy memories can be made in the midst of all the harder stuff. Plus, I feel like it makes sense that my family would want to celebrate with me? And my in-laws? And my husband? Yeah, I could try to somehow cram all of that into a single day, but it would be miserable. I need space between events. I need down time or I lose my mind. So year after year, despite what anyone else might think, I’m going to keep doing this. Making the most of the days before and after to take care of myself and my happiness and do the things and connect with the people that will bring me joy. It is WORTH IT. You can do it too.

Saturday Reflections 09.28.2019

It has been a monumental week for me – I accomplished six days in a row of exercise goals! 😀 In all seriousness, though, that’s kind of a big deal for me. I am an absolute control freak and want to have a perfect handle on everything, and I usually do (within my control of to do lists and tasks and general family and household upkeep) – until it comes to taking care of myself physically. I suck at eating well and I hate exercise. It’s certainly gotten a lot harder since I broke my ankle, but that was a good 19 months ago now, so I can’t keep using it as an excuse, even though it does still give me pain every single day. Too bad! Get over it! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

It’s started to really hit home that I’m about to turn 35 and I should not be as broken and unhealthy as I am at this age if I want to live for decades more. Right around this time last year is when I also came to these conclusions and spent about three months really focusing on my health (mostly because my doctor was counting on me to after we found out my liver is NOT in great condition). And then a lot of crappy stuff happened at the beginning of this year and the months went by and I totally stopped caring again. I have excuses galore, but I don’t want to focus on that anymore. I want to just take one day at a time, decision by decision, doing what will be GOOD FOR ME. It’s so easy to make the choices that will be right for me mentally. WHY is it so hard to take care of myself physically as well?

I don’t have any grand plans or programs the way I did last fall to get back in shape and lose weight. But I’ve decided to make one simple change that I’m hoping will be a catalyst to more and more positive choices. That change: write down one exercise goal every single day and DO IT BEFORE ALL ELSE. Well, technically, this week I woke up around 4am every day and I didn’t get to that goal until after the boys went to school at 7:30. But, as soon as they’re out the door, I WILL do my task before anything else because it is my highest priority of the entire day. And doing it first thing is key because that’s the one and only thing that will inspire me to follow suit and ALSO make better eating choices throughout the day. So far, while the weather is still amazing, I’m trying to focus on mostly going on long walks. But this week I alternated each day with a yoga video and I liked the variety. I’ll probably keep the plan simple like that for now.

Anyway! Back to the week’s recap. Caden’s birthday was Monday, but I already wrote all about that. I believe I started some dolls on Tuesday. I saved my errand running for Wednesday, though I didn’t actually need much – it was kind of more of a fun run. I have been VERY unmotivated this week to be super productive. Last week kind of did me in.

On Thursday I got my act together and finished up seven more Halloween dolls. They’re not selling as well as they usually do, so I’m wondering if I should just move on to something else. Maybe it would be fun to make a batch of birthday dolls. I don’t particularly like Halloween, so it’s hard for me to get really excited about making witches and spooky dolls. No excitement means no motivation.

Thursday was also my mother-in-law Cindy’s birthday. We all ate dinner together at Tipsy Cow in Sun Prairie and then came back to our house for present opening.

Friday was the day I look forward to all year – Cranberry Fest day! My parents picked me up at 5 and we headed up to Warrens for the festival. Unfortunately, it rained the entire day. BUT it wasn’t so hard that we had to change into our backup clothes at any point. It was just a tad uncomfortable and annoying. We spent about five hours there and then moved on to all the stores we like to visit each year in Tomah, Onalaska, and the Dells. We finished up the night at a deli for a late dinner. It was a really fun day!

My favorite finds of the day were all these black and white tin signs. I already have a whole black and white gallery wall going on in my kitchen, so I was excited to find a few more things to add (I’m pretty sure this will use up all remaining space, to my great dismay!).

This is my very eclectic mix of random things I actually bought AT Cranberry Fest. Nothing crafty at all. But I’m quite excited to try out all the different garlic varieties and see if I can taste a difference! I’ve been eyeing up that pink trimmed green leather business card case for years and finally decided to get it. I’m always wishing I had business cards on me, but never actually find a way to get them into my purse. No excuses now! I also bought Shepard some soap (he think bar soap is an amazing new concept), the boys some fancy treats, and a calzone dog treat for Annie.

I also found some great additions to my large stock of delightful smelling candles. I’ve been a little obsessed with candles lately. I LOVE smell and how such a tiny change in your atmosphere can alter your mood and uplift your spirits. Unfortunately, I’m married to someone who is super sensitive and revolted by most smells, so I’m pretty limited to when I can light them and what they can smell like. You better believe I’m lighting about ten candles at once when I’m home alone during the day, though! They make me so happy. I also found some cute new cat bowls to match my rainbow sewing room at TJMaxx. It ended up being a pretty great day for shopping finds, even if I didn’t get most of them at actual Cranberry Fest!

And that was my week! I keep hoping that life might start settling down and being a little less chaotic, but I’ve realized in the next couple weeks I need to make and go to like ten different appointments for different family members, pets, and cars, so I’m already stressed out and feeling drained. It was also pointed out to me that Christmas is less than three months away. But I’m going to continue to fight for my down time and soak up every possible minute of the beautiful fall weather while walking with Annie, reading good books in my favorite chair, and breathing in the lovely scents of my apple and pumpkin scented candles!

Caden’s 11th Birthday and All the Things

This past week was PACKED with fun activities and celebrations! I was a little apprehensive about so many things happening in so little time, but it ended up going really well! It helped that I didn’t actually end up having a ton of prep work to do (plus Greg did most of the housework), so I had a pretty healthy mix of down time and party time. And NOTHING stressful or dramatic happened. I think that’s a first!

I don’t remember much of what happened earlier last week, except that I ran a lot of errands and made six new dolls. I still wish I were producing these dolls at a faster pace, but I need to just accept life is too busy for this couple week span of September to get to everything I want to. And it’s okay.

On Thursday I had a pretzel dinner with my mom and the boys again, just like we did last month before our sign painting class.

Then we painted! I designed both mine and my mom’s sign ahead of time. Brushed off my rusty Illustrator skills and it was so much fun! I wish I had picked a slightly different color scheme for mine, making it a little easier to read. But I’m mostly happy with it. I think I’m going to take the class again in October. If anyone wants to join me, it’s right after my birthday and is SO MUCH FUN. 🙂

On Friday afternoon I took Annie to the dog park for the first time since her attack. We were the only ones there and didn’t stay that long, but she loved having the chance to run around for a little bit. I think she’s just dying to have some playtime and the longer I wait the more insane she’ll probably act around other dogs, so I should just bite the bullet and take her at a busier time one of these days. It’s just been so nice out this week we’ve been going on long walks instead.

Right after school I took the boys to Beaver Dam to meet up with all of Greg’s family to have dinner together and celebrate my brother-in-law Alex’s birthday a week early. He’s never been in Wisconsin anywhere near his birthday, so it was the first time we could celebrate with him in person. That was probably the only issue we had the whole weekend – Caden kept bursting into tears and shouting that he just wanted to be alone. CLASSIC introvert behavior. He’s also had a really bad cold the last week or so and he’s been very short tempered and emotional. Once we got to the restaurant, though, everything was fine.

We told the waiter that we were celebrating all three birthdays, so they got to wear sombreros and eat sopapillas. It got a little rowdy!

Typical silly boy.

Saturday morning was a little crazy because I had a lot of errands to run. I got up super early and picked up the bagels I had ordered for Caden’s party. Then I did a quick rush around the farmers market because I hadn’t been there in so long. A storm was brewing, though, so it wasn’t very relaxing or enjoyable as I was rushing to get back to my car before the rain started. Then I had to pick up a few groceries before heading even further west to pick up the cake for the retirement party. I went back home and crashed for a few hours while Greg took care of all the house cleaning for the birthday party. I finally rallied some energy and got the kitchen mostly set up and then got dressed up for the retirement party.

We had a small, but very nice retirement party for my mother-in-law Cindy in a private room at Buck and Honey’s in Sun Prairie. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was jovial, and the restaurant itself was fancy enough to feel special, without being over the top.

Caden was being a little whiny again. It’s hard to have a lot of things going on your birthday weekend that don’t have anything to do with you. Even I get that way around MY birthday and Mother’s Day, so I get it. He was allowed to get a sundae in place of cake and then proceeded to completely ignore the whole table of people singing to him.

The original Noe family. We did get a photo with everyone, but it’s probably going to be a Christmas card picture, so I don’t want to spoil it.

We decided to treat the boys like toddlers who are incapable of understanding restaurant/party etiquette and let them just play games and watch videos after they were done eating. It was really nice for Greg and I to finally just be part of the adult group without constantly having reminders that we’re mom and dad to kids who like to be verrrry difficult around other people. Throwback to the last time everyone was together in July and Caden had his biggest most epic meltdown/tantrum of all time. I didn’t want a repeat performance.

On Sunday morning we had Caden’s birthday party bright and early! I decided to give myself a break with so much going on and ordered/bought most of the food so I didn’t have to worry about making much ahead of time. I did cook all the bacon on Friday and made a batch of granola. And I cooked the sausage Sunday morning. I got two dozen bagels from Gotham Bagels in downtown Madison. And I ordered three kringles from Racine Kringle to be his “cake.” It’s one of his favorite foods and I almost never buy them, so he was really happy with that surprise. I also picked up some yogurt, set up a coffee station, made a harvest punch, and Cindy brought berries to go with the yogurt and my mom made a beautiful berry filled fruit pizza. It was A LOT of amazing food. So tasty.

Annie was being so needy during the party. She usually only makes me hold her hand during car rides, but apparently she needed some support in the house that day. She also had an abundance of energy since it was raining all weekend and she didn’t get any exercise – plus cooped up in her kennel quite a bit while we were gone.

It was a nice and relaxed party! Before it started I was looking at timehop photos from his third birthday when I took really nice pictures of him with every single person who attended the party. I was determined to do that again, and then only got as far as one photo with the aunts. Oops. It’s very hard to get kids to cooperate once they’re past age 2 or 3!

I took a nap after everyone left and then made some chocolate chip cookie dough cups for his school treat.

We weren’t sure what to do on Sunday night – I wanted to go out as a special treat, but restaurants aren’t treats to Caden. He hates them. And we’d already gone out three nights in a row. But he finally agreed and we went to Bel Air Cantina – what has quickly become “our” family place in the last year. It’s the only restaurant we go to just the four of us!

The boys are WAY more excited about eating the unlimited chips and unique salsas than the actual meal food, but Greg and I like it. Caden was given Mexican s’mores for a birthday dessert.

And finally Monday was Caden’s official 11th birthday!

It was also the first day of fall, so I broke into my bag of Brandywine Small Wonder fall blend coffee. I do have to give a little PSA – this brand of coffee is AMAZING. It is what’s broken me from only drinking flavored coffees and opened up a whole new world of what coffee can actually taste like. Every single blend I’ve had is so delicious. My only problem is that when I only drink one cup a day, I have so much to use up and they release new blends every single week that sound so good! I need to have more coffee mornings. Speaking of, I wanted to have one this week, but I’m just too exhausted from everything that’s been going on. NEXT WEEK.

It was also Annie’s 4.5 birthday. I forgot to get her anything, but she definitely helped Caden open his gifts – she loves opening presents. Originally we thought we’d have a pretty rushed evening because it was Lego League night, but we decided to let him skip it just this once. We’ve been so busy and he’s had this awful cold that he deserved a chance to just chill out and have a good night at home.

It was a VERY low key night – all Caden ever wants from life. I made tacos for dinner and brownies for dessert. He loved all his new gifts and spent the whole night playing some new video games. He was very happy.

And that was our week! We survived! It went WELL. And now I’m in recovery mode. I’ve been working a lot yesterday and today, but also went on some long walks and did a yoga video for the first time in ages. Life really isn’t going to settle down for a few more weeks. Cindy’s birthday is Thursday and Friday I’m off to Cranberry Fest. I have some appointments and things I need to get done next week. And then it’s MY birthday. 🙂 And then things will slow down a little, at least until November when I head to North Carolina. Today, though…I’m just exhausted. But we made it.

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 09.15.2019

It’s been another really chaotic and busy week, trying to get back into the swing of things. I’ve been feeling pretty frazzled, trying to get everything figured out and organized for a bunch of parties and celebrations that are happening this upcoming weekend and next week. SO much to think about, I’m having a hard time actually focusing on anything.

I spent last Sunday night and Monday morning making this reading doll that I’m donating to my facebook book club as a prize for an upcoming readathon. I LOVE those readathons, but of course it coincides with THE WEEKEND OF INSANITY, so I’m not going to be doing much reading. But I was happy to make the doll for them! I really like how she turned out.

Annie got her stitches taken out on Tuesday morning. Apparently it was so crusted over they couldn’t even be sure they got every stitch out because it started bleeding so much again.

On Wednesday morning I had a very successful coffee gathering with a group of my friends! We drank lots of coffee and I made Shepard’s favorite sweet and salty chocolate croissants and some peanut butter banana bread. It was a ton of fun and awesome connecting with people after months of basically no contact. I’d like to try and do something like this maybe every two weeks. Hopefully my friends are up for that!

I was pretty drained after that and had a really lazy afternoon. It was our at home date night, but I had zero energy to make dinner, so Greg eventually asked if he should go get food. I finally got to try a curry from the new Thai restaurant and I thought it was pretty good!

I forced myself to just take a break from everything on Thursday. I realize that very little of my time seems accounted for this week, but mentally – it was a lot and I was a mess. Plus my back is still hurting from my weird dog cuddling twisting incident. It was rainy and dreary all week, and I decided I owed myself a day off to just chill. I spent a lot of time reading and resting and taking Annie on a couple of walks. And in the afternoon I ran her over to the groomer where she shaved out the giant mats that had formed under her ears from days of wearing tight gauze around her bloody head.

Greg and the boys were gone on Thursday night, so I broke my no working rule (though that IS the exception) and forced myself to make a lot of headway on a batch of witches. I finished them up on Friday and sold them all this weekend.

I had a long coffee date with another friend on Friday morning, which was great! Then I got my hair cut. My bi-annual cut. And then spent more of the day just trying to get my September organized so it can stop taking up so much space in my head!

Saturday was my big day! I left early in the morning and went to the Urban Farmgirl Main Street Market in Rockford, Illinois. There were 185 vendors there, and every single booth was amazing. You can’t say that about any other craft fair or market, anywhere! So many incredible things to check out. I didn’t end up buying very much, mostly because it was a lot of big things and I just couldn’t deal with trying to figure out the logistics of getting something larger all the way out to the car by myself. But there were oodles of incredible vintage treasures, handmade creations, super cute clothes, and fun household goods. I walked through every booth twice and had carne asada tacos and salted caramel cookie dough for lunch. It was a lot of fun!

Since I was already out for the day, I then went to FIVE TJMaxx and adjacent stores in the Rockford and Janesville areas. I picked up a lot of little gifts for random people on random occasions. 🙂 I also stopped at this amazing vintage store I really like in Beloit. And finished up at Kohls in Madison, just because I had to return a lot of things. It was an exhausting day, but I treated it as a super mini vacation and had a really great time.

Sunday Intentions

Another busy week ahead. A lot of prepping and then the fun happens. Monday will be errands, Tuesday and Wednesday will be cleaning the house and hopefully whipping up a small batch of Halloween dolls. On Thursday night I’m doing another sign painting class. Friday will be food prep and then a mini birthday celebration for my brother-in-law. Saturday morning I’m going to be running all over the Madison area picking up things for various parties. And then Saturday evening we’re having a retirement party for my mother-in-law. And Sunday morning is Caden’s birthday party. And Monday is Caden’s birthday. Birthday season is officially upon us and life is going to be insane for a few weeks.

I THINK I have all the details figured out for next weekend. I’m going totally against everything I believe in, and having about the easiest for me birthday breakfast party I could arrange where the only things I’ll actually have to “make” will be a bunch of bacon that I can cook a few days ahead of time, and sausage links that I can just cook up easily that morning. Everything else I’m buying already made. But it’s going to be good. No skimping for my almost 11 year old! I’ll have to make his school treat then after his party. And because he’ll be at school and Lego League for most of his actual birthday, we’re going to go out to dinner on Sunday to celebrate.

So my only real intention for the week is to stay on top of everything I need to do and not lose my sanity! I’d also REALLY like to get a few more dolls made by Thursday morning at the latest. Monday and Saturday I’ll be running all over picking up things I need for the parties, but I think I can make myself stay home and productive the rest of the week. And I have the sign painting class thrown in for a bit of fun. I broke out my rusty Illustrator skills and designed my own stencil this time, so I’m excited to paint it!

Unfortunately, I don’t have my meal plan figured out. But I need some freezer room, so I think we’re going to be eating from our frozen stock all week. It’ll work out.

Wish me luck, guys. It SHOULD be a really great week!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 09.08.2019

What a week! I’d say that the first week of September, the first week of school, was a roaring success. I loved it! I wouldn’t say we’re immediately back into a regular routine yet, but it’s been a good start!

Tuesday was the first day of school. They were both really angry about having to go back. The four of us walked together and dropped Caden at his school first and then Shepard. Unfortunately, it was raining the whole time and then started pouring right when we got to Shepard’s school, so it was a very hasty goodbye. I felt bad about that, but maybe it was for the best because he was really nervous and dragging it out any longer might have made things worse.

I think Caden’s only issue is that he just plain didn’t want to go back to school. He was also a little upset about how few of his 4th grade friends were going to be in class with him again. BUT he came home and announced that 9 of the kids that he was in class with from K-3 are in his 5th grade class, so he was really happy. I’m sure he wouldn’t admit to LIKING school, but it seemed to go really well for him this week. He’s excited about his new teacher and all the parties they get to have this year.

I didn’t realize this until we were walking and it came up, but I guess Shepard was upset about being the only 3rd grade class at his school. I thought this would be a selling point – the oldest kids in the school, they’d therefore be the coolest, right? But I guess he felt like maybe his class was dumb or left behind since all of the non-charter 3rd grade classes switch over to the middle school. He wants to be at the middle school too. I’m definitely a little worried about the transition for him next year, after an entire school year separated from 3/4 of the kids in his grade. But…I’ll have to worry about that next summer. At any rate, I think the first days went pretty well for him. He hasn’t wanted to talk about it. He hasn’t been as happy and excited as Caden. But I know he thrives being around his friends all day.

I spent the first day of school running errands. I didn’t really want to, but it was the only day it was going to work out. Plus it was a good distraction from worrying about how the first day was going.

Wednesday was picture day. They were both SO angry I made them wear button down shirts. Shepard was doing everything he could to get out of it. You know, a few years ago they were both clamoring to wear button shirts as often as possible to look like Daddy. Now it’s uncool.

Shepard said he was going to smile like this. I’m sure the photographer wouldn’t have let that be the final image, but I almost think I’d like it better than the blank stare we usually get. Caden was able to see his photo right away on a printed ID card, but he wasn’t allowed to bring it home. He said the teacher parted his hair and smashed it down against the sides of his head, so I think all my attempts to make it fluffy and cute before school were thwarted.

I spent Wednesday morning working and then took the cats to the vet for their annual check up. The vet commented again and again how healthy they look for their age, so I guess we’re doing pretty good! She thinks they both might have some sort of allergies/irritations, so they were given some shots to try and counteract that. But overall, they’re pretty healthy.

I never expected them to remember in the midst of all this new stuff going on, but they hatched a plan in the morning for Shepard to meet Caden at a certain spot and then they would walk to meet me at the library and we’d go to the farmers market after school. And shockingly, they showed up! They were giving away apple cider popsicles this week. It was so nice!

I was determined on Thursday to finally sit down and actually get a good chunk of work done. It was NOT a productive week. Well, it WAS, but not for doll production. I was just about finishing stuffing when I ran out of polyfil. I ALWAYS have a backup box in the basement, so I can’t believe I was out. I had to go to Beaver Dam anyway to spend some time with my mom and brother’s pets while they’re in Nebraska, so I just left earlier to go to Walmart and get more polyfil.

Caden came home happy again. Immediately got comfy with his seeds and book to hang out on the porch all afternoon.

He’s been reading a lot this week. In part because he lost screens for awhile. But he also seems to really be enjoying it again. He mostly stuck with graphic novels all summer, but he’s back into the bigger books again now.

I spent a little time this week slowly switching over to fall decor. I don’t plan on putting a lot of things out – we just don’t have shelf or counter spaces to change up decorations anymore. But I LOVE swapping out fresh blankets and pillows. I’ve been stocking up on fall candles too, and lighting them at every opportunity. And I switched over to my fall mugs. I thought I had more than this! I’ve been on a roll finding cute Halloween mugs in stores lately, but I don’t want to take those out until October.

Midday Friday everything went downhill when I went to check on the pets and while I was trying to cuddle with Gracie on the couch I twisted my back and pulled a muscle that hurt SO BAD. I was in immobilizing pain the rest of the day, rendering myself completely useful other than reading this amazing book. Strangely, at about the exact same time, Caden was at recess playing gaga ball and pulled a muscle in his groin. I guess they gave him a heating back to set on his lap for a few hours, but it wasn’t helping so he ended up coming home early. It seemed to scare him to have such a weird pain, more than the pain itself bothering him. He just took it easy the rest of the night too.

I was proud of myself for sticking with my 4:30 cut off time for sewing every day this week. I think it’s the healthiest boundary I can choose to start living by regularly. It gave me so much freedom in the evenings to do housework and read. The problem, though, is that I wasn’t actually getting nearly enough time to work before 4:30. Too much running around this week. So I had to put in a 12 hour day yesterday and FINALLY finished up my first batch of fall dolls for the year. I really liked how they turned out!

Greg and the boys were at Cedar Lake for the day, helping bring in the docks. Caden ended up staying in Beaver Dam for the night. I was hungry for some type of tasty and filling snack, and ended up making this peanut butter popcorn. It is SO GOOD. Shepard wasn’t very enthused after his first few bites, but I loved it. It was a good end to the week.

Sunday Intentions

I’m hoping to get back on top of things and start writing separate weekend posts again. I gave up over the summer because I never had that much to be intentional about in the week ahead. I was just trying to survive. But September is all about getting back on top of things – PLUS I need a place to be accountable for keeping up with my meal planning!

This week is all about falling back into a more normal routine with hours during the day to actually work. Though it’s still a slightly busier than normal week. I’ll need to run errands on Monday. Tuesday Annie gets her stitches taken out. On Wednesday I’m going to throw a coffee gathering at my house, open to anyone who wants to come. I haven’t actually asked anyone yet, but I hope it will be successful. And on Saturday I’m going to a big vintage market in Illinois.

My highest intention for the week is to make two smaller batches of dolls. I’m going to make a few apple themed dolls first and then my first few Halloween dolls. I think if I can stay on task I can get them done.

My second intention is to connect with a few friends again. Hopefully with this coffee morning! Otherwise, make some plans with a few people in the coming weeks. As much as I often feel like giving up all my hopes and dreams of amazing female friendships, I don’t actually want to give up. I’m ready to give it another shot.

Meal Plans (I’m not set on exactly what days these will be served, but…an approximation)

Monday – Rotisserie Chicken from Costco and Roasted Vegetables

Tuesday – Jamaican Jerk Chili (without the beans)

Wednesday – Spicy Peanut Noodles with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken

Thursday – Cheddarwursts/Leftovers

Friday – Jalapeno Popper Pretzel Crust Pizza

Have a good week!

Saturday Reflections 08.31.2019: Otherwise Known as the Week that Broke Me

I know nobody wants to read posts where I just whine about hard life is. And this was a HARD week. So I’ll try to keep things brief. Mostly because I realized it’s the last day of August and I have like five end/start of month blog posts to write this weekend and maybe it would be a more productive use of my time and energy to focus on the happier posts.

Anyway. Last week of summer. Time to cram in as much as possible or say you’ve done enough and chill out. We kind of had both. On Monday we did need to get a few groceries, but I chose to run those errands at stores we don’t normally go to like Trader Joe’s. Stores I love, but aren’t exactly convenient. Our main objective was to end up at Popeye’s to see what all the hype is about with their new chicken sandwiches. We got there at 10:45. There were probably at least around 100 people waiting between the indoor line and the drive thru. Everyone was buying bags full of sandwiches – like 20 per person. It was crazy. I felt like such an idiot for being there too! But we drove all that way and I wanted to see it through. The verdict? I definitely liked it, but I think because I just like Popeye’s chicken. It’s so flaky and crispy. The spicy sauce? I couldn’t taste it at all. It was just a very thick chunk of chicken (I’m anti thick chicken) and pickles. But I ate it all. The boys liked their tenders. I was just so mad at myself for not remembering to buy myself a biscuit in the midst of the chaos. Popeyes has THE BEST biscuits. But there was no way I could wait in that line again.

On Monday night Caden had his first Lego League meeting. He did it last year and really enjoyed it, but was really against doing it again. I think because he’s just rebelling against all things school. But it sounds like the whole thing is much more organized and focused this year and he came back really excited about.

Once again I forgot to take a picture of said playdate, but on Tuesday morning we biked to a park and had a really nice donut picnic and playdate with some friends. The weather was gorgeous and it was a really fun time! One of Shepard’s friends came back home with us for the rest of the day and I vaguely worked on some sewing room organization. I planned to do all this fall doll making over the week and I didn’t even start. So much else going on.

I had planned to do something fun on Wednesday, but the boys were treating each other so horribly, and nobody could get rewarded for that behavior. We had a tense and stressful day followed by a very busy night. We walked to the farmers market and library and then went to Shepard’s school for orientation. After his we went to Caden’s. They unloaded their supplies and talked to the teachers. I was so exhausted by then so we ended up at Culver’s for dinner.

Greg was working in Chicago on Wednesday and had a late night, so after Culver’s we picked up Annie and went to the dog park because it was still so nice out. I guess I’ll probably regret that decision forever because five minutes in she got briefly attacked by a dog at the gate who basically shredded her ear. We didn’t even realize right away until another owner pointed it out to us. At that point there was blood everywhere. She said she had some sort of medical powder at home to stop the bleeding, so we followed her back to to her house, but it didn’t work. We went back home and sat in the driveway for an hour trying to figure out what to do. A neighbor also had that powder so she helped us try to cake it on, but nothing was working. We called a vet in Sun Prairie that was still opened and they suggested cornstarch and wrapping up her head so she couldn’t shake it anymore. That was basically a disaster. At this point it was dark, we were all covered in blood, Annie was so stressed out, and Greg was so mad at me for not confronting the owner of the other dog. It was all so chaotic and even though that dog obviously did the damage, I was also the one who didn’t stop Annie from running at him when he ran into the park. I mean, all the dogs run to see every new dog that shows up. I’ve never really thought twice about it unless it’s a dog I know is extra rough. But I guess I learned my lesson and that if it’s a dog I don’t recognize I should always, always call her back to me.

We put her in her kennel overnight to contain the bleeding and it appeared to have stopped overnight. Until we let her out and she started shaking her head again and the blood started gushing again. I was able to get her into the vet right away, though, and left her there all day Thursday while they worked her in between surgeries. Want to know the absolute worst kind of torture you can put me through? Make me wait all day long for a phone call. Ugh. I cannot relax or commit to doing anything with my time because I’m so paranoid about not getting the call. It was such a stressful day.

Meanwhile, Caden broke Shepard’s glasses on Wednesday, and of course the eye doctor isn’t open on Wednesdays, so we had to wait until Thursday to get them fixed. They were beyond repair this time so they informed me we had a warranty and they fixed him up with brand new frames. Whew!

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Caden was sick on Thursday morning. He threw up twice, which is really rare for him. But I think it was maybe just something he ate? He was STARVING by noon and so angry with me for not letting him have anything besides toast and crackers and a banana. A lot of people have been angry at me this week. It’s been real fun.

I finally was able to pick Annie up late afternoon. The vet wrapped her head really tight with super sticky gauze and Annie was FREAKING OUT about it. I think it was really pulling her hair and she was just so confused. I was told she would be really groggy the rest of the night, but she was actually in such a state of panic she was practically hyperventilating and nonstop crying the entire night. It was so stressful.

On Thursday night we were all supposed to go to Ponderosa with Greg’s parents before they took a little vacation, but only Shepard and I went since Caden had such a rough morning. We wandered around Walmart afterward because I didn’t want to face going home yet.

They told me I could take the gauze off on Friday because the bleeding would have surely stopped by then. But as soon as I started unraveling it Annie started violently pulling her head back to help it go faster and ended up ripping a ton of her hair out, and irritating her ear enough that the blood was just pouring out again. Which makes her shake her head nonstop because it’s wet. There was blood everywhere, again, and I just totally lost it. Most of the week felt like one crisis after another with no break in between. My emotions are messed up enough on the last week of summer, with feelings of guilt over basically everything. Plus Greg implied, maybe not on purpose, but that’s still how I interpreted it, that I wasn’t doing enough with the boys, or giving Annie enough exercise. THAT did not go over well when I’m sacrificing so much of myself and my work time and my sanity to try and give them the best summer every single year and then to find out that my own husband thinks it’s not enough. There is only so much of me to go around and I was at my wit’s end. Annie spurting blood everywhere around the house was the straw that broke me.

But I got it together. I went to Walgreen’s and bought more gauze. Then I may have gone through the McDonald’s drive thru and sat in the parking lot slowly eating a sausage biscuit to give myself five extra minutes to breathe before going home and facing everything again. I wrapped her back up with the new gauze – nonsticky – and she seemed much happier.

We went to my mom’s for a few hours after that to just hang out with the dogs in the yard. More beautiful weather to enjoy.

Today I needed out of here. DESPERATELY. I was planning to have a fun day out and about on one of the first days of school, but realized most of my week is committed to other things already and there’s no way I could wait until the following week. Before I could leave today, though, my fitbit broke. Because OF COURSE it would break this week. My fitbits always break, usually around the one year mark and then I get a replacement just under the warranty. This has been my favorite fitbit (the Versa), but it broke after only nine months! I contacted their support and already have a replacement on the way, but still – just one more thing to deal with.

So I finally got out of the house a little later than planned and enjoyed a day of browsing through all of my favorite stores. I bought a couple of new fall candles, had lunch at Chipotle, tried out the new pumpkin spice cold brew (I liked it near the end when the foamy part finally started mixing in with the coffee), and slowly meandered through a couple of bookstores. It was a nice day that I really needed.

And that was the week. I’m so glad it’s over. Now to just survive two more days of all of us being home and no specific plans before school starts Tuesday. I feel a little more mentally ready for it after escaping today.

Cheers to the end of summer!

Saturday Reflections 08.24.2019

I’ve decided that the best way to stave off the end of summer depression is to stay really, really busy. I was having a pretty rough time last weekend looking at the very long two and a half week left before school starts. And for the record – I was NOT depressed because summer was coming to an end and I want it to last forever. No, I was feeling the stress and anxiety and guilt that comes with feeling like we didn’t do enough fun things, while also just desperately wanting to school to start so life can go back to normal and I can actually GET STUFF DONE. It’s not even that my kids are so much in my face and needing my time. It’s the extreme mental drain of having to constantly break up fights, enforce rules that should be no brainers after three months together, but somehow aren’t. It’s the NEVER GIVING UP on trying to convince me to change the screen time rules, three months in. It just sucks the life out of me and I’m so, so, so over it. But, my goal for the month was to put them first, so I’ve tried to keep that in mind and stop worrying about my own stuff. Now we’re down to 1.5 weeks. I can do it.

Last Sunday was Shepard’s half birthday. That was another thing adding to my stress because I wanted to try and make it special for him, without going overboard. I tried to ask him if he wanted to go anywhere or do anything and he just kept telling me he wanted $1000 to buy something (not something in particular, just “something”) on amazon. When you get that response to your question over and over again, it kind of makes you not really want to do anything at all. So I did the one thing he eventually admitted to wanting – his favorite homemade pizza. We had that for lunch and then he spent the afternoon at Grandma’s house and I think he just played games with Greg the rest of the night. Very low key.

I had a very early doctor’s appointment on Monday morning getting my toe checked to make sure the procedure was a success. After checking all my vitals the doctor was in the room for literally two seconds to tell me it was fine. Such a waste of a trip to Beaver Dam! Though we got a few groceries and some donuts before coming back home where I spent the rest of Monday working on custom order dolls and just generally trying to get my living spaces back in order. I unpacked all the books I shipped myself home from Book Bonanza. They’re so pretty!

On Tuesday we walked to Sharrow’s, a coffee shop/pharmacy/gift shop down the street. The boys got ice cream and played checkers while I got a coffee and browsed the shop. It was a nice little outing! The boys went to Grandma’s again that night and Greg and I checked out a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for like five years. It was okay, I don’t think we’ll be back. But it was nice that we finally took advantage of one of our kidless nights.

Wednesday was our really busy day. I worked all morning and then we decided to check out Mullen’s Dairy Bar in Watertown for lunch. We ordered so much food, but it was pretty tasty. I’d like to go back there again someday just to get a fancy ice cream.

Then we went to the roller rink – it was the one thing Shepard really wanted to do this summer that we hadn’t done yet. Going that day at that time ended up being a bit of a mistake, though, as there were three buses filled with daycare kids there. It was mass chaos. Caden’s a pretty poor skater and wanted to use a training bar, but they were all taken. Shepard kept complaining that his feet hurt. All in all they probably spent about ten minutes skating around.

Next we went back home to get Annie and walked to the farmers market for their special dog week. I finally got a chance to try a coffee from the coffee truck (it was awesome!), Caden picked out a basket of raspberries, and Shepard bought caramel corn. Annie got a pumpkin peanut butter ice cream treat and a cup full of regular treats. She was acting like a crazed maniac around all the other dogs there, so it was a VERY chaotic trip.

As soon as Greg got home on Wednesday I zipped off to Madison to have a beautiful, wonderful, amazing night of retail therapy. (lol) I think that’s one of the hardest parts of summer, even if it sounds really dumb. I LOVE shopping. Even just grocery shopping. And I love to do it ALONE. I’ve actually managed to go almost the entire summer running errands by myself, often at 6am on Saturdays. But it’s never relaxed or fun – just a necessity. It felt so dang good to go out on my own for a night. And it was totally guilt free because Greg and the boys were at their first kids D&D game. The only annoying thing was that I was so tired. I only got four hours of sleep the night before, plus spent the entire day driving and walking around already. But I treated myself to my first new fall candles of the season at TJMaxx and Marshall’s, got groceries, and meandered Target for awhile. It was glorious.

I had a pretty chill Thursday while the boys had three of their friends over for most of the day. I did have to take Shepard to the eye doctor to get his glasses fixed after the neighbor kid accidentally jumped on his face on the trampoline the other night (and also gave him a bloody nose). My mom came over in the afternoon and we all went to the dog park for awhile. Then we went to Cercis to have a soft pretzel for dinner. It was a good time!

Greg picked up the boys and then my mom and I, plus Cindy and her friend, went to this sign making class at the restaurant. It was so much fun!! It felt so awesome to do something creative that wasn’t doll making. Not that I don’t love doll making, but it was a good reminder that I can find even more joy spreading my creative wings a little. The whole class was so much fun and I’m SO happy with how my sign turned out! I’m definitely signing up for the class again in September. And maybe October. And…maybe just every month. I loved it.

Friday, we stayed home. I worked all day, finally. The pressure is really on to get fall dolls started, though I’m finishing up a few others first. And I’ve been getting so many custom orders! Which I don’t like taking. But I also feel horrible turning away. It’s about that time of the year when I can be justified in saying no, though.

And today. So…let’s just say it was another full day of feeling forgotten and rejected and absolutely stupid for thinking my friends respect me and then finding out that they actually don’t. WHY IS FRIENDSHIP SO HARD? But, to stay positive, my friend Deja DID come over and we had a great morning of crafting and catching up with each other. I finally got around to making this awesome rainbow cloud wall hanging! I saw something similar just hanging on a wall of a crafter’s instagram story at one time a few months ago and the idea really stuck with me. When I was doing a bit more research a few days ago I realized that this is a pretty common craft these days. But I was excited to have carried it out all on my own. I had to do a little wall rearranging in my sewing room to find a place for it – and my new sign – to fit, but I think it worked out well. I really should have spent the day making dolls, but it was worth it to follow through on something FOR ME that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time.

And that’s been the week! Definitely some negative emotions trying to weigh me down. But staying busy has helped. It gets everyone in a better mood to leave the house for a bit. It also relieves my guilt of feeling like I’m not doing enough with them. But it’s also left very little time to actually work, and that’s stressing me out. But, ONE MORE WEEK. I will survive.

Early August Festivities

Well, I told you guys all about Book Bonanza and my trip to Dallas the other day, so now it’s time to catch you up on everything that happened before that trip. It’s been such a busy month!

Greg and I spent the first few days at the Secret Cottage – a beautiful little place we discovered a few years ago.

This was our third visit there – we first went for my 30th birthday, then again for our 11th anniversary. We’re talking about going again in January for our 20th anniversary of being together – mostly so we can officially say we’ve stayed there for every season! It’s gorgeous at any time of the year, but I bet it would be especially cozy in the dead of winter with the fireplace and snow covered trees surrounding it.

We were only there for two nights, but it was such a wonderful break from reality. I think it’s the first vacation we’ve ever taken where we seriously just chilled out and did basically nothing. We only went out once to get lunch because I hadn’t packed enough food. It was such a nice trip!

Right after that, Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson came to visit! They spent the first day hanging out at our house. I think this was the first time ever that Hudson didn’t take a really long time to feel comfortable with us. Maybe he finally knows who we are from visit to visit?! He was having so much fun exploring everything and trying to pet the cats.

We went to the pool for awhile. The water was pretty chilly, so Hudson just hung out on the edges. It was quite a challenge getting the three of them in a photo together – impossible to get them all smiling!

We had a pizza and snack party afterward. Hudson is just the cutest!

Midpost PSA to tell you if you’re looking to make your own cold brew at home, this is a fabulous combination. (I should write a post on coffee soon!) I really prefer to buy cold coffee drinks at coffee shops and wanted to up my game at home this summer, making my own instead of buying the premade jugs of cold brew. I’ve been trying out a lot of different brands, especially the fancy brands that make a specific blend for cold brewing. This Sunny Spot by Grounds & Hounds has been my favorite by a mile. It’s so good. It’s even better with this new Nitro Creamer. If you’re local, I found it at Woodman’s. Unfortunately when I went there a few days ago to buy another bottle, they were all expired. Hopefully they’ll stock some fresh ones!

We spent that Sunday at my parents’ house to celebrate Timmy’s birthday a few weeks early. It was a beautiful day with lots of time outside.

Annie was feeling very jealous of all the attention Hudson was getting. She definitely likes to be the baby of the family!

Greg saying goodbye to Hudson. 🙁

On Monday morning all of us, except Greg, went to the State Fair! The boys and I got there a few hours earlier than everyone else and walked around the mostly deserted park checking out some of the animals.

We normally start our annual fair visit with a bag of apple cider donuts. But Shepard was feeling especially hangry and couldn’t wait until 9:00 when that side of the WI products building opened. So they settled for kringle slices instead.

Then Shepard and I got grilled cheeses. I’ve reached the point where I can’t eat anything remotely sweet in the morning or I have a massive headache all day long, so grilled cheese was perfect!

We found Hudson! And he had already found a donut.

Caden wanted to get a baked potato. That reminded me that he LOVES baked potatoes, but I never, ever make them. Poor deprived child!

We split up for a little bit because they wanted to watch the pig races and we didn’t want to sit in the sun for that long. Shepard was already being pretty difficult about everything at that point. The whole day was really very up and down. Caden was FANTASTIC. Shepard was really testing my last nerve. There was a lot of either miscommunications or simple ignoring of when I thought we were going to be meeting back up with everyone after brief splits, which was extremely frustrating to me. A lot of wasted time on our part, thinking they were coming to us, when they were instead just doing something else without letting us know and we had to go hunt them down. It’s hard going to events like that as a large group. It’s hard for me to accept that not everyone is like me in the way that they think and go about life. But…yeah. Let’s just say I had a really good time with Caden. I think maybe next year Shepard can stay home and have a Daddy day!

I think the cream puffs were Hudson’s favorite treat!

The boys and I finished our day (at like 1pm lol) at the super crowded building that sells our favorite beef sticks. I also finally found a coffee option that sounded good to me. The boys had a great time looking at all the hot tubs for sale – until Shepard became infuriated that I wouldn’t buy one. Because we totally have the set up to just buy an enormous room sized hot tub and stick it in our house. 😛

We said our goodbyes to Hudson who was off to find a place to take a nap. We won’t see him again until possibly late October.

Finished up our fair visit with Shepard getting some cotton candy – what he wanted from the minute we arrived. I was disappointed to realize that once again I filled up on all our regular foods that I didn’t have any desire to spend the money on something unique. NEXT YEAR.

After fair day, I was just super busy getting packed up for Dallas and trying to make sure Greg and the boys had enough food at home for easy meals to last them while I was gone. It was a very chaotic two days!

Back at home this week, I’ve just been trying to get settled back in. I still haven’t been feeling the greatest, plus just SO TIRED. I thought I’d come home from my solo vacation feeling relaxed and rested, when the opposite was definitely true. I’ve tried to lay low this whole week. We did go grocery shopping asap on Wednesday morning, followed by some school haircuts. I’m not particularly thrilled with either of them, but at least I know Shepard’s will grow out looking really cute! Caden fought tooth and nail to have a haircut at all and you can barely notice a difference. But…that’s what he wanted. And I said I’d be respectful of their personal body choices.

Otherwise I’ve just been working! I finished up six new dolls this morning and took two custom orders that I’ll start working on tonight. I’m happy to be back at it, but also really feeling the pressure to make as many as possible as fast as possible. There are basically just two weeks left of summer and my goal was to keep prioritizing my family and making the most of the days we have. But honestly…I want September. I want school. I want regular schedules. I want quiet days. I want to only make lunch for myself. I want to take naps where I don’t have to be in the next room with one ear open to any shenanigans that might occur. Summer is EXHAUSTING. But it’s almost over and I think I can survive. Hopefully. 🙂