Weekend Reflections and Intentions 11.18.2018

The weekend is already almost over! They usually seem to drag on and on around here, but this one went mighty fast. This whole week has been fast as November zooms on by. It wasn’t a particularly exciting week, but I did have a few interesting things to share.

I wrote about it a little in my last post, but on Monday I made the official decision to stop counting calories. It seems to be going pretty well overall. I’m down 7.2 lbs since I started trying about three and a half weeks ago. Progress has definitely been slower after the initial two weeks, but most days the scale is still going down tiny bit by tiny bit, so I must be doing okay with keeping myself in check. I’ve had a few lapses (see my restaurant dinner below!), but nothing I felt I had to beat myself up over either. My biggest problems continue to be feeling like I’m starving to death while surrounded by my biggest temptations when I’m out of the house and running errands for long periods of time. I know there are definitely things I can do to try and avoid that happening, but it’s still pretty rough. That’s when I get crabbiest. But just general meals every day have been going pretty well. I’m trying to keep my portions in check and avoid excess snacking and only have one (or none) very small dessert a day. I’m hoping if I continue to focus on what my body actually needs and make my decisions based on what will make me FEEL better, I’ll continue to lose weight and get healthier.

That being said, I did plan a Qdoba lunch for myself after running errands on Monday morning. I even got nachos, which are probably about the least healthy thing you could get there! But I avoided all the temptation filled aisles at the stores, ate a very low calorie breakfast, and planned a light dinner to compensate treating myself at lunch. And the next day the scale dropped some more! It helps to know that I don’t need to deprive myself ALL the time. I just need to not eat like that every single day!

Okay, enough weight loss stuff! Monday was just a super active day with errand running and doing things around the house. Then both of the boys’ evening activities were cancelled due to teacher illness, so we ended up having a quiet night in.

On Tuesday morning I took Annie to the dog park. We were the only ones there, but she was having the time of her life! Just nonstop running as fast as she could the entire time we were there. It brings me so much joy to see her so happy and in her element! I love going on walks because it gets ME more exercise, but letting her just run and play unrestrained is the best. I even decided to do a little hiking around on my own, walking laps around the park. The dog owners often do that, but it’s been quite a struggle for me since I broke my ankle. All the uneven ground and big hills. I was definitely sore on Wednesday because of it, but I was proud of myself for making the effort!

On Tuesday night I had my date with Caden! We went to The Mineshaft in Hartford. It was about a 40 minute drive, but I think it was worth it. πŸ™‚ We settled on sharing a giant soft pretzel and an appetizer platter with chicken tenders, haystack onions, and mozzarella sticks. I really should have made a better choice with the mega platter of fried food, but the pretzel was AMAZING. I will definitely be back someday to get another pretzel. Best I’ve ever had. The spicy cheese sauce that came with it was also fantastic.

The reason I picked this restaurant was because they have a huge arcade on the second floor. So after a really nice meal in which Caden shared more about his school life (which he NEVER talks about at home), we went up and bought ten dollars worth of game tokens. I assumed he’d want to play more than that, but he was pretty content to just use it up and then be done. He asked me to play a Pac Man battle game with him and he used the rest on his own. When we were picking out prizes with all the tickets he won, his first thought was to decide on what he should get Shepard. I love when that sweeter side comes out. It really was a great night and I hope I can follow through with making this happen every month. Or at the very least, every other month.

I went back to the dog park on Wednesday morning and Annie had the greatest time wrestling with a dog we hadn’t met before. They were so evenly matched for playtime. I just stood there and laughed at them for a solid half hour. I spent the rest of the day just working.

Thursday I was supposed to be working and I ended up spending a huge chunk of time working on Christmas present shopping and doing other things online. This is why I try to get my shopping done in November – it’s such a distraction to me! We have so many people to buy for and it just weighs on me until I get it done. I LOVE getting presents, but having such an overload all at one holiday is a bit overwhelming. I’ve made a ton of progress in the last few days, though!

We had an at home date night Thursday evening. It was pretty lame. Like super lame. Next week when we’re back to normal schedule, I’m insisting on a real date out of the house. Hold me to that!

On Friday morning I FINALLY finished up those custom order dolls and shipped them out. I can’t believe it took me all week. I also finished up this single doll that’s still available for sale! πŸ™‚ I LOVE this huge size doll. But I can’t make them often because people don’t usually want to spend that much money on one.

Right after I finished the dolls, my mom came over for coffee! I wanted to show her my french press and aeropress and share some of my favorite Bones brand coffee with her. We hung out and had our coffee and then went on a mini shopping morning. The apple orchard I like to go to was having a holiday craft fair, so we stopped at that first. Then checked out two local stores we don’t get to often. It was a really fun morning! Exactly what I needed after a somewhat stressful couple of days.

Friday night I gave myself a real break! I had a pile of books, two of my babes, all the candles lit, and read in my chair. It was so wonderful. I want every night to be like that. Every night WILL be light that starting next week when the Christmas tree is up in the place of where that little chair is!

Saturday morning was pretty lazy. Then in the afternoon we were invited to a friend’s board game party. The four of us went over. I just hung out, but Greg had an awesome time playing games well into the evening. Caden and I left late afternoon because I had some things I needed to get done around the house, but Shepard and Greg stayed until bedtime. It was nice to be invited to something and have some unique social time.

Today has been pretty laid back too. Greg worked on Caden’s room for awhile (I cleaned Shepard’s room last weekend). I went to the dog park again – Sunday mornings are usually pretty busy which is a nice change from the weekdays when we rarely run into another dog. Then I took a nice nap and we headed over to the in-law’s house for dinner. Cindy and I ran over to the local candle outlet first and I bought yet another candle. I seriously have an addiction this fall. I want candles lit ALL THE TIME. Cozy overload. And now we just got home, had some shower battles with the boys (showering is apparently THE WORST), and now Shepard and I are ready for someΒ Great British Baking Show before he heads to bed.

Sunday Intentions

My main intention for the week is to just go with the flow, don’t put too much pressure on myself for production, and enjoy family and friend time. I’m definitely a little bit stressed out with how few Christmas dolls I’ve made so far and would love to knock out a batch this week. But realistically I know it’s probably not going to happen. And I just have to be okay with that.

Monday will be errand running, as usual. I still haven’t made my grocery list or even made a final decision on my Thanksgiving desserts. I’m sure that’ll take most of the morning and then I’ll take my usual nap and make a fast dinner between the boys’ activities. Hopefully I can at least start a doll batch at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday will hopefully be a full work day. No other plans.

Wednesday is just a half day of school, which will zip by. I want to make my Thanksgiving desserts right away in the morning to get that done. Then in the evening Dianne and Jack are in town, so we’re going out to dinner while the boys and Annie spend some time with my mom. That’ll be a fun night!

And Thursday is Thanksgiving! I’m hoping to go on a long walk and/or take Annie to the dog park for a long time in the morning to burn some calories and energy. She’s coming along with us on Thanksgiving this year, if I feel like she’ll be calm enough in a new house! We’ll head over to Greg’s parents’ midday and enjoy Thanksgiving! My parents and brother will be joining us over there so we only have to eat once. I really enjoy this tradition we started a few years ago making the day a bit less chaotic (and food stuffed) for the four of us.

And I’m really looking forward to decorating our trees on Friday! We have the local Christmas parade in the evening. Probably more decorating on Saturday and my goddaughter’s birthday party in the evening. All in all, it should be a really enjoyable week that I am definitely looking forward to.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday Reflections 11.10.2018

Well, time to reflect on this rollercoaster of a week. Honestly, it was kind of a really crappy and disappointing week. But there were definitely some high points so this post won’t be a total bummer. πŸ™‚

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to talk about it yet in last weekend’s post since it wasn’t officially announced, but the reason we were in Chicago last Sunday was to celebrate my sister-in-law Melissa becoming engaged to Andrew! He proposed on Saturday and then threw her a huge surprise party to celebrate. It was adults only, so we weren’t able to go, but we met the rest of the family down there on Sunday for a really nice brunch and then some hanging out time at their apartment. We’re all so happy to have Andrew officially becoming part of the family!

There was no school on Monday because it was the end of the quarter. Originally I wanted to take the boys and Annie to the Verona dog park, but we had just spent six hours driving in the car on Sunday, and another long drive was about the last thing I felt like doing. I still wanted to take advantage of the day rather than just sitting at home, so with the bribe of frappuccinos, we managed to get to Woodman’s, Target, Costco, and Marshall’s all before lunchtime! The boys were actually really good too! It was exhausting, but no fights or whining the entire morning. Miraculous.

At noon on Monday the tickets for Rachel Hollis’ one and only personal growth conference were supposed to go on sale. I’ve become a huge Rachel Hollis fan since reading her book and listening to her podcast and I really enjoyed seeing the documentary they made from their conference last year. When I heard her 2019 conference was scheduled to take place in Minneapolis I was SO excited that it was within driving distance and totally planned on going. Unfortunately, the Hollis Co. ended up putting those tickets on sale at 11:40, while I was still making lunches. By noon when I got on my computer, it was sold out. 3400 tickets instantly gone. They were of course psyched, but it was hugely disappointing for all the people that didn’t get tickets, especially because they went on sale earlier than we were told. To try and make up for it, they immediately said they would have another conference in July, place TBD. I feel like the chances of this second conference also being within driving distance are pretty slim, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to go to that one either. It’s a huge bummer.

Tuesday was a big work day. In a moment of insanity, I decided to open up the option of custom orders. I’m anxious to get going on Christmas dolls, but I often have a lot of people asking me for custom orders in December which is when I absolutely am not interested in doing them. I figured I’d give people one last chance – and have the solid proof that I offered it! Anyway, not many people took me up on it, but two of the people that did made it SOOOOOOO complicated. I basically spent the entire day Tuesday and Wednesday emailing back and forth with these ladies, digging out pile after pile of fabric, photographing everything to get approval and then having them change their mind an hour later. It was super stressful. Every once in awhile making custom orders is an awesome challenge, but for the most part….I just really don’t like it.

Meanwhile, I spent all of Tuesday agonizing over whether or not I should continue with Noom. My 14 day free trial was ending on Wednesday and on Thursday I was going to get $150 for six months of the program taken out of my account. I had this information in my original sign up email from them – November EIGHTH. Desperately trying to make a decision when the pros and cons seemed to keep canceling each other out, I started reading reviews online. Almost every single review was 1 star. Mostly because of how unfairly Noom automatically deducts money from your account once they have access and they refuse to refund you and they make it impossible to get in contact with a real person. One review told how to check your settings to see when your next billing cycle was going to go through. I decided to do that and guess what? They were going to take that $150 off out on November SEVENTH. A day earlier than they said they would, before the trial was officially over. And that seriously pissed me off, so I cancelled immediately. I had a few other reasons, but the main one being that if they’re that shady about their financial practices, then they don’t deserve my money.

Anyway, I was relieved to have finally made a decision after going back and forth on it a million times in the last two weeks. But then it left me with nothing to keep accountable and stay motivated. At the recommendation of some other people online I ended up getting the free app Lose It on Thursday. Unfortunately, after a 6 lb weight loss in the first 12 days, I’ve just gone back up since then. I’m feeling pretty discouraged with all of it. And hungry. And desperately wanting carbs all the time.

On Wednesday I got distracted doing online Christmas shopping. I’m definitely making progress toward my goal of getting 75% done this month! There are a few people I don’t have anything for yet, or any ideas, but most people on my list are getting close to done! Once I spent the morning working on that, I just worked on dolls the rest of the day.

We had an at home date night and I made a tasty pizza. It was pretty uneventful, we just ate and watched some tv. Late at night, though, the one good trip related thing that happened this week – Greg’s parents booked a trip to Universal Studios in Florida for the six of us in February! It’s a Christmas gift/surprise for the boys, so don’t mention it! But it should be really fun. We’re going to be there over Shepard’s birthday because it happens to be the only break they have from school this winter/spring.

Thursday I did the #onedayhh challenge. No need to go over that again. You can read the post if you’re interested!

We woke up to snow on Friday morning. As usual, we were not prepared for it! Spent the early morning digging through winter things and realizing that nobody’s coats or boots fit anymore. We made do and sent the boys off to school. I spent the morning working on the first round of custom dolls.

At 11:00, tickets were going on sale for another trip I was planning on taking. It’s a craft retreat for women at The Whatever Craft House in Newton, Kansas. I first heard about the craft house last year when a TON of people I follow on social media had a retreat there. It’s this incredible rainbow colored house filled to the brim with gorgeous arrays of art supplies and rainbow decorations and beautiful bedrooms with colorful vintage quilts. I’ve been hearing about the house and these particular retreats done by a fellow maker and how amazing they are. When I found out about one happening in January, another Wisconsin maker contacted me and asked if I wanted to go with her and we could carpool. I jumped at the chance, we worked out the simplified plan, and just waited for the tickets to go on sale! I assumed it would also sell out immediately, so I was on my computer constantly refreshing and purchased my spot the second I had the chance.

And that’s when everything went downhill. Again. I immediately told my friend I got a ticket and she told me that’s great, and that it’s too bad she’s busy that weekend. What?! Apparently she had a conflict and just never thought twice about telling me. I of course blame myself for not actually confirming with her again this week that we were doing this, but it was still really frustrating. It’s not like we know each other well – just talk at Cranberry Fest every year and occasionally on social media in between. I’m a pretty forgettable person, so no surprise she apparently forgot we had planned to do this together. It was just really, really frustrating and disappointing.

I spent the rest of the day just overwhelmed and stressed out and trying to figure out how I could make a 10+ hour drive by myself IN JANUARY, twice in four days. I don’t even like driving for two straight hours and have never come close to 10! Plus it’s pretty much guaranteed I’d have to leave the night before and get a hotel in order to get to the retreat early enough. Same on the way back, unless I drove late into the night which is a terrible idea for me. Plus it’s January, in Wisconsin, and the weather could be horrendous. I looked into flights, but there were no direct flights from any airlines and nothing less than $400. And I’d still face the conundrum of getting from the airport to the house, which would be another expense. Once Greg realized I’d be going by myself he was instantly against the trip as well. It just didn’t seem like there was any way to make this happen, without spending a ton of extra money. The only reason I could go on the trip in the first place was because the retreat itself was such a great deal. (3 nights, all meals but two, supplies for six group craft projects, and a bag of awesome things crafters around the country donate for swag, all for $500.)

After agonizing – again, theme of the week here – all day and night, I spoke to the retreat leader and explained the situation and asked if there was any way I could cancel my spot. She asked if I’d like to wait for awhile and see if anyone else from WI ends up signing up (still spots left). I told her I’d wait through the weekend, but after thinking about it again all day, I just wrote and asked her to cancel. I can’t go. And it really sucks. So…I don’t have my money back yet, so it’s not official, but 99% sure this trip is not happening either.

Anyway. In happier news. Last night I went to the annual Peddler’s Barn Christmas sale with my mom and Cindy. We go each year and true to form, it was FREEZING last night. It was also packed. I ended up with a full bag of fun doll accessories that I haven’t yet taken out since getting home, but I’ll try to take a photo tomorrow!

And today I spent the entire day early Christmas shopping with Cindy! We went all over the place – mostly our favorites: TJMaxx, Marshall’s, Home Goods, and Trader Joe’s! With a quick lunch at a place called Zoup. It was really tiring, but we found some great stuff! It was awesome to make some headway on all my stocking stuffers.

And that’s been the week! I’m hoping next week is a lot less mentally tumultuous. I need a rest.

Saturday Reflections 11.03.2018

As usual, I committed to writing something substantial every day and now it’s 7pm and I haven’t had two minutes today to sit down and write. Why does it always work that way?! I thought I was going to have this really lazy reading and writing day like last Sunday, and there have just been so many dang things to DO. It’s frustrating!

Anyway, it’s been a rather uneventful week. I’ve just had my head down trying to work and trying to stick with this new weight loss plan. Both have been successful – for once.

Monday I ran errands, Tuesday I worked, both nights the boys had their usual clubs and activities. It felt so great to just be at home all day on Tuesday, actually getting things done. I’ve been running around so much these last two months, I really want to try and slow down and settle into routine again.

Wednesday was Halloween. I made chocolate pumpkin muffins for breakfast – but didn’t eat any when I realized a single muffin has 400 calories.Β  Yikes. Not worth it for me. Greg had to go to Chicago for a work related Halloween party, which I thought was pretty funny. Annie and I went on a really long walk in the morning which felt amazing. And then Greg was home in time to take the boys to the dentist in the afternoon.

I kind of phoned it in and made a jack-o-lantern bbq pizza for dinner. I wanted to make something special for dessert too, but I couldn’t get motivated. I’m a bit at war internally right now between wanting to stick to very simple and wholesome foods to stay in my calorie limits and wanting to pick up my cookbooks and make something delicious.

Thursday marked the end of my first week with Noom. I lost 3.5 lbs in a week. I’ve lost another half pound in the two days since. So that seems successful, right?? I’ve been proud of myself and it’s gotten easier. But I also made a ton of pretty drastic changes all at once and I hit a slump every day where I feel deprived and sad. In general, I’ve been FEELING physically so much better. I’ve limited myself to one processed food a day – usually Simply Cheetos or Poppables chips in the afternoons. I have oatmeal or cereal with fruit for breakfast. I’ve been eating chicken breast on corn tortilla tacos for lunch pretty much every day. I haven’t eaten any Halloween candy since trick or treat night. I haven’t been to any restaurants. I’ve been trying to drink water and then eat a fruit or vegetable anytime I get hungry. I’m trying to trick my mind with mints instead of looking for a snack. I’ve been really active.

The calorie counting sucks, but I’m getting the hang of realizing what food is in which category and trying to be very intense about my portion control. So, it all seems to be working. But I don’t think I’m going to continue with Noom. I still have a few more days to make up my mind before they charge me for six months, but I think I’d rather do this same stuff with a free app and not the extra real person support. Support kind of annoys me. I’m a bit worried if I give it up I’ll just go back to eating the way I usually eat. But I’m hoping after two weeks of making real changes and physically feeling and seeing how much better I am, it’ll be worth it to continue on this path. It just gets hard on nights like tonight when I hated what I made for dinner, so I barely touched it, but then I was starving and angry and sad and just wanted to raid the pantry for anything I saw. Instead I took a long walk. And ate a piece of peanut butter on super whole grainy toast when I got back.

Thursday night I went to that creative writing workshop which I wrote about yesterday.

On Friday morning Greg wanted to go vote early, so I tagged along. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me to get there on Tuesday, but I’m glad I got it done! It was fun to go together.

The boys only had a half day on Friday. Caden had his well child checkup in the afternoon. He’s healthy and good. According to their charts, he grew 3.75 inches in the last year! On my measuring thing at home, he’s only grown one…

I finally finished up my batch of dolls by Friday night. This is my favorite one. Still available! πŸ™‚

And that brings us to today. I was doing a bunch of random things around the house this morning and then Greg and Annie and I went on a walk. Then Greg went to visit my brother for a few hours and I took the boys to the dog park. It was only 40 degrees, but both boys refused to wear a coat. Shepard was even wearing short sleeves. I don’t know what is going on with them, but they both put up insane fights every single morning because they absolutely do not want to wear OR bring coats, hats, etc. It’s been in the 30’s every single morning!

I was so excited that I saw Annie’s twin at the dog park today! I’ve never seen a dog look so similar to her! Actually, there’s one other dog I occasionally see named Finley who looks exactly like Annie in size/shape/hair length, but she has red hair and blue eyes. This guy was exactly like Annie! Except a lot older. I was trying to be sneaky about taking a picture and then the owner just started wandering around outside the park by himself, so I had plenty of chances to take pictures of his dog lol.

After the dog park I took my usual nap while the boys gamed, then worked on some more random household things, made dinner, took a walk, and here I am! I’ve also discovered this week that I REALLY love having a candle burning at my desk when I’m going to be here awhile. My brother gave this one to me as a late birthday present and I love it. It just makes any long tasks I’m doing on my computer feel extra special to have a nice candle at my side!

And that’s been the week!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.28.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY INTENTIONS

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

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

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

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

Halloween Festivities

Happy Halloween! Okay, I know Halloween is still a couple of days away, but the past few days have been packed full of festive activities and my kids don’t have any more public opportunities to wear their costumes, so it’s basically over around here! It’s been a lot of fun, though.

I wasn’t in the mood to buy costumes this year. On one hand, I’m totally all for buying costumes if it makes your life easier. We’ve gone the store bought route for the last four or five years. But this year it just felt like a waste of money, plus the boys never even care what they dress up as. Why spend the money if it means nothing to them? So I basically put it on Greg to figure out what kind of handmade thing they could come up with while I was on my trip. I think his mom is the one who really put it all together with some of their old costumes, but it turned out great! Shepard was originally going to be a Minecraft youtuber that nobody would have recognized or heard of. But when shown a PURPLE wizard costume that Greg wore in sixth grade, he went that route instead. Of course second grade Shepard is drastically smaller than sixth grade Greg was, so I had to alter it quite a bit. Hopefully nobody bigger ever wants to wear this costume again!! Caden wore part of some Star Wars costume one of his aunts wore at some point – turned into a Harry Potter type of cloak with his sorting hat and some black glasses. It worked, it didn’t cost any money, and they thought they looked pretty cool! Greg liked it so much he decided we need to do handmade costumes every year now…

Anyway, we went to SpookFest on Thursday night, something the schools put on for grades K-5 every year. Caden had no interest in going (shocker), but we lasted about half an hour. Shepard had a good time running around with his friends, until he decided he wanted a soda, we said no, and massive seven year old on the floor kicking and crying tantrums ensued. Oh well.

After dinner on Friday we carved our pumpkins. Greg and I did most of the work, but Shepard was very excited about it. I washed all the seeds and made my three usual flavor combinations. I was pretty exhausted, but also had a fairly rough day (more on that in my next post today!), so I decided to try and gather everyone to go to the community bonfire for some cheer. The boys didn’t want to go – until their friend Leverett got permission to come with us. Then we ran into Greg and Annie who were already on a pokewalk and all of us walked over to the park for the fire.

It was a lot of fun! It was just cold enough to enjoy the fire, but not so cold we were miserable, like last year. There weren’t a ton of people there, but enough that it felt special and fun. There was a group of kids that the boys joined with and had a BLAST dancing by the DJ. Some of my friends were there, so it was fun to chat with everyone. And Annie just loved being out and about.

We stayed for an hour and a half and then had to drag the boys home because I was just so exhausted. It was a really great night, though! It’s so rare to have Caden raving about how excited he is to be somewhere. It was like the best night of his life running around with friends in the dark with good dance music on!

I spent all of Saturday getting ready for our annual Halloween party. It was extra special this year because Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson were coming, plus all the parents/grandparents, and my brother Tyler – for a full celebration. We were also sort of celebrating fall birthdays for me, Brittany, and Tyler. I tried to keep the food festive and easy to prepare with a good mix of healthy and treats. I love the simplicity of these clementine and celery pumpkins!

Monster mouths! I only had teeny apples, so not quite as effective, but definitely yummy.

White cheddar cheeto bones.

Flamin’ hot cheeto bones.

Our pumpkin seeds – dill, salt, and chex mix flavors.

These were all supposed to be different kinds of bugs.

The flourless chocolate cake Brittany requested for her birthday dessert. With a spiderweb on top to go with the theme. My mom also brought her famous kit kat bars for my birthday dessert, but I never got a picture of them.

Jalapeno popper mummies. I usually do hot dog mummies, but nobody really eats them, so I gave this a shot this year. I didn’t like them much because they were missing that salty component I’m so used to when I make jalapeno popper dip and eat it with chips. But they looked cute!

The famous pizza snake that makes an appearance every Halloween party. I thought this year’s tasted especially good because I made the effort to cut all the inside toppings into the tiniest possible pieces so it all blended together better.

I never decided if this is supposed to look like blood and guts, or brains. Maybe it looks more brainy with the raspberry seeds. With mini candied pecan brains?

And “monster fingers.” Basically just enormous beef sticks I got at Costco that nobody in my family liked, so I needed to set them out to get rid of them!

Cindy and Shepard put together a veggie skeleton for the centerpiece of it all. Very cool! Shepard loved his broccoli hair.

Hudson was getting over a bunch of illness, but he was in high spirits! It was so cute how proud of himself he looked every time anyone would laugh at something he did. In this instance he was hitting Shepard with a hammer because he kept whining. Probably shouldn’t encourage that, but it was pretty hilarious.

A tricky selfie snuck in only because we were standing at the window and he was smiling at Daddy.

The only picture I got of our finished pumpkins. Sometimes Shepard seems so big and sometimes he still seems so tiny.

I was hoping for a nice trick or treating picture of the cousins all together, but my boys couldn’t be bothered to even be in our yard at the same time and Hudson just wanted to be cuddled with Mom because he didn’t like wearing his costume very much. But we tried!

Steve stayed home to hand out candy and the rest of us set off to trick or treat. Caden and Shepard immediately ran to Leverett’s house right as he was coming outside, so they just rushed ahead with him. The rest of us stayed back with Hudson, but he was just very confused about what was happening. We only lasted about two blocks before it started sprinkling and we realized we’d never keep up with the older boys, so we all went back home. I’m kind of annoyed my kids couldn’t even stay with our group for five minutes. Or even a single house. But…they’re getting older, I guess. This is what happens. Caden’s almost never happy anymore unless a friend is involved in whatever he’s doing.

But back at the house we still had some fun with Hudson and Annie. He realized how exciting it was to hand Annie all of his food. Everyone stayed for awhile longer and then Greg took over handing out candy the last half an hour. I probably bought at least 500 pieces of candy and we went through all of it. Plus a big bowl of goldfish crackers for little kids and a bowl of dog treats. We live on quite the popular street!

Overall – great party! It was a lot of fun! Now all that’s left is actual Halloween, but the boys have dentist appointments after school that day, so really not the best of days! But maybe I can throw together one more festive meal. We shall see.

Happy Halloween!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.14.2018

I am in such a rebel mode this week. Really, this entire month. If it’s something I feel like I’m supposed to be doing, or something someone else expects of me – I just don’t want to do it. Plain and simple, I am avoiding basically all responsibilities and obligations and going into hiding. I just don’t want to DO anything. I’m sick of sewing and I want to step away from it for awhile. I’m tired of being the organizer of all plans and am refusing to keep stepping into that role. I haven’t been in the mood to write, so I haven’t been, even though it’s supposed to be one of my main focuses these days. I’m so tired of clutter and mess and somehow letting my kids get away with basically doing nothing for the last 10 and 7.5 years of their lives. I need a break. And some clarity would be nice! I’m sick of all this mental flailing that is pretty much leaving me a useless shell right now.

Anyway, here’s a recap of the week. It was pretty good overall. I’m just having some mental challenges that are really messing up my productivity.

Monday I was feeling pretty sick. Probably a combination of the antibiotics I was on, too many days in a row of restaurant food, and not getting enough quality sleep. I ran a few errands around town and did some general housekeeping and laundry, but I just felt so icky. I took Shepard to piano lessons in the afternoon and the school turtle crossed the whole cage so he could sit right there and stare at me while I read. It was a little bit creepy.

Tuesday was more of the same. I tried to work, but spent most of the day lazing around because I just felt like crap.

I took Annie to the dog park after dinner. Even though nobody was around to play with, she was just SO HAPPY to have the space and freedom to run around. I really need to get back into the habit of taking her as often as possible before it gets icy. I still took her quite frequently on the ice last winter, but I don’t think that’ll be happening this year. I never want to break a bone again.

Wednesday night Shepard and I watched aΒ Great British Baking Show. We watched the last few episodes ofΒ Making It a few other nights this week. It’s so fun to sit down and watch a show with him that we both equally enjoy! I realize this is quite normal for most families, but it’s pretty much a foreign concept around here. We very rarely watch tv together – or at all for the boys – and when we do, there’s always at least one person who is really not that interested.

Wednesday was a scheduled late start and I was bound and determined to get some work done in the morning. I finished up this custom Anne of Green Gables doll for a friend. I LOVE how it turned out! It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the bodice fabric has images of Green Gables and Anne’s silhouette and the skirt fabric is a bunch of Anne’s most famous quotes. The friend who I made it for is opening it on her birthday tomorrow, so I can’t wait to hear if she likes it or not!

I spent the rest of the day running errands and working on the rest of my doll batch. We were having some issues with Caden in the evening – a pretty common occurrence these days. And always? We were all going to go to his first archery meeting, but Greg ended up taking the boys so I could keep working and have an hour of quiet.

I finished up the rest of my dolls on Thursday morning. It’s so hard to figure out if doll making is really what I want to do for the rest of my life. Or…the next five years, or whatever. The monotony of just doing the same cycle of creating over and over and over again with every batch has gotten so old. I obviously do have creative freedom in what I choose to make, but…they’re all still dolls. I’ve been venturing out from strictly making red striped Raggedy Anns these last few months, but I’m not sure it’s enough to satisfy whatever it is inside of me that’s crying out for MORE. Or less?? I really don’t know anymore. I decided to take a small break from it for the next week and a half, at least, in hopes that I might get some fresh perspective on how to proceed, or not, in this particular career path.

Late morning, my mom came over and we went to Waunakee to celebrate my birthday – my last celebration. There are a few really cute stores we stopped in at and then had lunch at The Lone Girl Brewing Company. The restaurant was really cute, but I’m not sure the food was intriguing enough to go back. It was a fun time, though!

It got really cold this week! Actually, it was in the 80’s on Monday and in the 30’s on Friday. Just a typical Wisconsin fall week! The boys flat out refuse to wear coats yet, but they were digging out all the extra winter accessories.

I finally finished up my book corner with my remaining birthday presents – a new lamp from Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson, and a fun book themed pillow from my mom. The top shelf is books that I really like and want to own a copy of. The lower shelf is my all time favorite fiction that I most definitely want to read again and again in my lifetime (and a short stack of currently reading). I actually have a few more bookish art prints to hang up around the area, once I find frames for them. Then it’ll really be complete!

On Friday morning I had a coffee date with my friend Laura. It was great to catch up! Then I took an extremely long nap/lazy lay in bed reading afternoon. Still so tired and both mentally and physically exhausted. Right after school Greg’s dad picked up the boys and took them to the Kalahari and Greg and I went on a date night to Sake House. I just could not make another restaurant decision, so this was Greg’s choice. It was good. We came back home and watched a movie. Not the most exciting night, but it was nice to spend time together and have some good conversations.

I got up early on Saturday to hit the farmer’s market. There are only a few weeks left and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go again. I didn’t buy much, but it’s always fun to be there! I stopped at Trader Joe’s and Target on the way back home and then spent the rest of the day being pretty lazy! Theme of my week, apparently.

Today has been mostly lazy too. I didn’t feel very well this morning and just wanted to read. Then I worked on finishing up my new birthday shelf organization. It took me so long because I wanted to go through my eleven binders of printed recipes, plus three year’s worth of printouts I never put IN binders, to take out the ones I never use and combine them down into just five binders. All of my tried and true recipes are in there and there are just so many great options that I really don’t need to ever look online or in a cookbook for inspiration again. I just need to remember they exist when I’m desperate for ideas! The top two shelves of the bookcase are books I haven’t read yet. Yikes! They’re almost all nonfiction too. I need to get on that! The bottom two shelves are my most used cookbooks. I love this shelf!

Besides all that, I’ve also been making cookies for conferences tomorrow, baking some breakfasts for the week, and doing a bit of cleaning. We also got the very unfortunate news that the boys had bedbugs in their hotel room Friday night. AGAIN. So we, though mostly Greg because I’ve been otherwise occupied, is a bit in crisis mode again, doing massive amounts of laundry of everything the boys have touched in the last 24 hours. He’s decided none of us are ever going to a hotel again. Not fun times, you guys.

Sunday Intentions

The week ahead is looking good! It’s conference day tomorrow, so no school. The boys don’t have conferences until late afternoon, so it should be a pretty laid back day. Hopefully some friends are around to play and I can work on going through my closets. I desperately need to figure out my winter clothing situation. I’m never prepared for the drastic temperature drops every year. I’m also not quite sure if I have any jeans that fit and I need to know that asap so I can go buy some on Tuesday if I need to. But yeah, then conferences, then Shepard’s Culver’s night fundraiser for school, and then he and I get to WORK at the fundraiser. At Culver’s, cleaning tables and stuff. Can’t wait. πŸ˜› He is SO excited, though.

Tuesday will probably be a general errands day, plus packing day. Trying to get everything organized for Greg and the boys being on their own for five days. Wednesday I have a follow up appointment with my internal doctor to talk about how the BP meds are working. I thought they were making me really sick, but now I think it was actually the antibiotics. They’re working, because my BP is within range pretty much every day. But we still need to talk in person, I guess.

And on Thursday I’m flying to DC! My long last postponed vacation from April. I’m super excited to get away for a few days! Dianne has so many great things planned for us. We’re even heading to the town of Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia for a day. I’m slightly worried about how my ankle will hold up to extra walking, but I think it’ll be fine. At any rate – it’ll be so worth any pain that might occur! A real vacation, sharing fun times with my best friend. It’s EXACTLY what I need right now. I’ll be there until I fly back Monday afternoon.

And that’s my week! Like I said earlier, I’m taking a break from work. Not a whole lot of time this week to start new dolls anyway. I just want to focus on getting the rest of my life more organized and in order. Maybe by the end of the month I’ll feel a lot more clear on what I should be doing with myself!

Have a good week!

Birthday Week Reflections 10.07.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday flowers, from Cindy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Reflections 09.29.2018

Happy Saturday! It’s been a good week. Even though it wasn’t a SUPER productive week, I felt like I was really in the groove with everything and enjoyed myself. I like weeks like that!

Monday started with the boys biking to school on their own for the first time. I’m not sure I’ve ever let them bike at all during the school year, only once or twice during summer school. All the morning traffic going down the street they have to bike is pretty busy before and after school. But I’m trying to let them have a bit more independence and it worked out pretty well. Caden, who I expected to want to bike every day forever, was over it after day one. Shepard thinks it’s awesome, though, and I’m sure will be biking as often as possible now. The only thing I don’t like about this new freedom is that every single day we have to decide what the coming home procedure will be depending on which combination of transportation we each use in the morning. I’ve also haven’t been picking them up most days because it’s just such a huge waste of my time when they’re perfectly capable of getting home on their own. Plus it doesn’t make sense if they’re on bikes! It’s just an added little problem solving we have to not only think about, but talk about every single morning, which is already stressing me out a bit. But we’ll get used to it.

Monday is also after school clubs day. Week two, Caden still hated running club. This upcoming week he has an option to try a different class at the same time, but he’s been very noncommittal about it. I don’t want to force him to stay with it if he genuinely hates it, especially with his lego league later in the evening. But I hope he’ll give it at least one or two more weeks.

Monday was a very productive work day and I was able to get these six little Halloween dolls finished and listed by Tuesday morning, which was nice. I had time to go out and do a bunch of errands after listing, though I wasn’t feeling very good. My new blood pressure medication seems to make me feel pretty sick. I’ve had all kinds of mysterious new ailments in the week since I started taking it. I asked my doctor if there was something else I could go on and she wants me to stick with this. I’m currently testing a theory that a certain brand of coffee I’ve been drinking a lot of might also be contributing the my overall nausea, and after two days without it I’m thinking that might actually be the culprit. But I’m pretty sure my the medication is also giving me a potassium deficiency, causing all kinds of extra muscle cramps and aches this week. SIGH. I’m figuring it out. But…meh.

On Tuesday night we had a bit of a scare. We were watching one of the neighborhood boys for a few hours and he and Shepard asked if they could bike to the library together. We said sure, but an hour later when it was almost dark and they still weren’t home I was getting pretty nervous. So Greg and Caden walked to the library and they weren’t there. The next ten minutes were pretty terrifying as Greg ran back home to get his car and the neighbor got on his bike and they had to conduct a little search party around town until they found the boys on their way back home. It was so scary not knowing where they were. It really shook me up, especially since this was only the second day Shepard has had more adventurous biking privileges. But it was hard to be mad at him because he was so dang happy about the bag of books his older friend helped him pick out at the library. He normally hates to read, but he was so excited to read those books.

I spent Wednesday baking this birthday cake for my mother-in-law, Cindy. Like literally the entire day – ha! It was fun, though! I used to bake SO much, before I discovered my non-food related creative outlets. Spending an entire random day in September just giving myself over to the baking was really great! I saw this recipe a few weeks ago in my new cookbook, Bravetart. I had it mentally bookmarked as something I could possibly make for my own birthday, but decided I’d make it for Cindy instead. The recipe ended up being a lot more complicated and sciencey (SO many temperatures to follow for every single step!) than I expected, but it turned out great! πŸ™‚

We had a pretty low key celebration as Steve and Cindy just got home from two weeks in Greece the day before. We ordered pizzas and hung out at our house for the night. It was nice to catch up after not seeing each other in awhile.

The boys had coffee for breakfast on Thursday. It was a one time special deal because we ordered this coffee from their friend’s fundraiser and they really wanted to try it. It was also Homecoming this week, though none of their dress days were particularly exciting, so I didn’t take pictures besides this day (hat day for Shepard).

It’s amazing how much older they both look with pants and hats!

Overall, Thursday was a pretty weird day. I had planned to work all day, but just couldn’t get motivated. I was tired, yet jittery. All I really wanted to do was read. Reading and prepping for Friday was really all I accomplished.

And Friday was Cranberry Fest day! My parents picked me up at 5:15 and we got to Warrens by about 6:45. Despite the original forecast of downpours, there was not a drop of rain in sight! It was definitely chillier than I was expecting, but manageable. We walked around for about five hours checking everything out and it was a lot of fun! The uneven ground was tough on my mom and I and our various physical issues, but I’d say we did pretty good overall.

My biggest and most surprising find was a new rug for our family room. I haven’t been super thrilled with the one we have because lots of kids plus dirty dog plus cream/gray/yellow colors is the perfect recipe for grungy icky looking carpet. This new one will be much better!

After Cranberry Fest we hit up Starbucks and all the Tomah shops we like to go to. Then headed over to LaCrosse for a few shops and our annual trip to Ulta. We usually always get HuHot for dinner, but this is the year we ate more food at Cranberry Fest and none of us were hungry enough for unlimited Mongolian bbq. We finished the day in the Dells at the craft barn and then had a late night dinner at new deli. Despite the physical pains, I think it was a really good day! I always have so much fun on our Cranberry Fest trips. Most years we go Friday and Saturday, but I think just going the once this year was about all we could handle. I definitely don’t feel like I missed out on anything, though. Perfect amount of time at every location!

Here’s most of what I bought. Last year I just got dip and two candles, so I guess I was much more successful this year! I also bought the rug, and a couple of Christmas gifts, and an antler for Annie. The cannoli and donut and bag on the right are also dog treats. πŸ™‚

It was hard to get a good picture of the colors, but it matches this room perfectly! The browns match the furniture, the tan matches the wall, the blues match the ottoman and footstools. It’s like it was made for that room!

Greg was not super thrilled that I bought it, but then he found the exact rug on amazon for $500 (I paid $125), so I think he’s okay with it now… I like that it now perfectly matches the more mint green ottoman I got a few weeks ago online and thought was going to be more teal.

Anyway, that was my week! Today I’mΒ  just in recovery mode. My legs are so sore from all the walking on bumpy grass yesterday. I’m also so cold today, it’s hard to be productive. We’re not a family to turn the heat on in September. But…after our first freeze last night, it’s pretty dang cold today! I’ve mostly just been reading and napping and doing a little bit of cleaning. I’m trying to get motivated enough to run over to the apple orchard, but I haven’t mustered it up yet. But I’m running out of time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Caden’s 10th Birthday and Weekend Reflections 09.23.2018

What a crazy week! I’m so exhausted right now I’m not even sure how much sense this blog post will make. I’ve been feeling a bit ragged these last few days. Birthday season is exhausting! But it’s been fun too. Here’s a somewhat quick recap of the week!

On Sunday morning we had Caden’s family party. I made a big donut tower as his cake and the main food. I also served apple cheddar scones, cheesy hashbrowns, bacon, and sausage.

My mom brought yogurt and fruit and granola to add a bit of a healthy element to our meal. πŸ™‚

We got to have some Hudson time at the party! He can walk now, so that’s pretty exciting. He’s so dang adorable!

It was a fun party! Everyone cleared out around noon to watch the Packer game – we have no way to play it, we’re not football people. But Caden was happy to spend the rest of the day gaming. We’ve been trying a new rule this school year where they aren’t supposed to have screens during the week, but can pretty much play whenever they want during the weekend. That’s probably not super healthy either, but it’s kind of nice not constantly fighting over the logistics of every gaming session. Those “negotiations” all summer pretty much did me in.

Monday was an errand day for me, and then the first night of Running Club and Lego League for Caden. As much as he LOVED the summer school Running Club, he hates this one. It was also crazy hot and humid on Monday, so I’m hoping when it’s much cooler tomorrow he’ll enjoy it more. This is a year long thing that I don’t want to force him into if he truly hates it, but we’re hoping he gives it a few more weeks before making a decision. This is the first year either of them have shown any interest whatsoever in after school activities, so if he keeps up with even one of them I think I’ll be happy.

Tuesday was a work day. Pretty uneventful otherwise.

Wednesday was busy. The first late start of the year and then I had my first appointment with an internal medicine doctor to discuss my high blood pressure. I was put on meds while I start working on having a healthier lifestyle and hopefully eventually not needing the meds indefinitely. The appointment gave me a lot to think about. I have mixed feelings on all of it. I’m not going to get into it today.

I spent Wednesday afternoon book browsing and hanging out at a few of my favorite stores while I waited for Greg to finish working. I had dropped him off before my appointment because we had a big date night planned and it seemed dumb to drive two cars to Madison when we were starting our days within a mile of each other. My mom took care of the boys at night so we could stay out as long as we wanted.

The main objective of our date night was to try and find a big comfy chair for my birthday present. I’ve been wanting a chair like this basically my entire adult life. We’ve just never had room for one. But I had a corner spot ready in the living room and reallllllly wanted one and Greg said it was time. I was actually surprised at how many chairs like this we found! They’re called chair and a halfs, apparently. It was huge. I really liked the very first one we found, but we decided on this one at the fourth store we went to. I’m actually pretty surprised I found one at all that I liked enough to buy. I am very furniture picky! But I loved it.

We had dinner then at an Indian restaurant in Middleton. Because we’re practically the same person sometimes, I ordered chicken vindaloo and Greg ordered beef vindaloo. With garlic naan. It was all delicious!

We ended our date with a stop at Marshall’s. I had planned to go here earlier in the day, but sadly, there was as terrible shooting in the area earlier in the day. If I had gotten out of my doctor’s appointment earlier, I would have been there when it happened. It definitely added a sobering layer to the day, but we had a good night out. I hope we can start having more elaborate date nights like this more often than just for special occasions.

On Thursday morning I had a haircut. Once again my stylist didn’t go as short as I had asked. But at least it holds a curl again. I wish I liked my hair. It just always looks horrific if I don’t curl it or put it up. I don’t really like the way it looks up either. I don’t think there’s ever been a point in my life when I liked my hair.

I finished up my first batch of Halloween dolls Thursday afternoon. So cute!

I made some jumbo cookies for Caden’s class treat on Friday. Then I spent most of the day getting ready for his friend party in the afternoon.

We decided to have a super low key birthday party this year with just the neighborhood kids and one extra friend. The main goal of the party was to play Minecraft together. They never left this room! Such a nice difference from Shepard’s last party where the kids screamed, ran, and destroyed our house every single minute they were here. We’ve decided we’re only doing video game parties from now on!

He picked a dirt cake for this birthday dessert. I got away without making a single cake this year! Kid birthday cakes are my most hated things to bake.

Things got a bit wild at present time. Caden’s friends picked out some great gifts, though! They know him really well. And I appreciate that they took an interest and picked things out themselves that they knew he would like. I can never get my kids to show any interest in any birthday gifts they’re supposed to pick out. As a love language gift giver person, it almost kills me how little they care!

Friends!

I took a spontaneous trip to the farmer’s market early Saturday morning. I love the fall markets so much, but they also overwhelm me. I want to buy everything, but I don’t want to CARRY everything. I only ended up buying a cantaloupe, peppers, and carrots. And I picked up some bagels for a birthday breakfast. When I got back home our chair was in the lawn! They gave us a window of it being delivered between 8 and 6. Greg got an email at 7:40 that it had arrived (except he was still sleeping). Pretty funny sight to come home to! I figured we’d have to recruit a neighbor or two to help us get it in the house, but we actually squished it through just the two of us pretty smoothly!

Because the weather finally cooled off and the mosquitoes disappeared (hopefully for good!), I ran Annie to the dog park for an hour while Greg gt the chair legs on. This thing is massive, guys. I knew it was bigger than what I had originally envisioned, but I didn’t think it was going to take up the entire length of wall I had available! Well, I had wanted it angled so I could still see the little bookcase I had against this wall, but that just looked ridiculous. So after a bunch of going back and forth on arrangements and lamp options, we ended up with this. I think it looks pretty good.

I had to move over my falling apart cookbook shelf to make room for the little one next to it. This looks pretty dumb! But I don’t have any more wall space, in any room, for my bookshelf and I refuse to get rid of it! I had a fun time going through all my books again to get rid of ones I don’t want and rearranging by color.

Everyone had to check out the new chair!

It’s very cozy!

The chair is right where Annie used to have a dog bed, so I think she thinks we got this just for her. Rory liked it so much that he joined her on the chair in the evening!! Those two NEVER go by each other. (I should say, Rory never willingly stays by Annie.)

Annie snuggling some more this morning while Caden spent his morning doing games in the other room.

Present time! I realize this looks like an insane amount of presents, but I promise it was all really little things I’ve just been picking up here and there. We couldn’t commit to anything big he might have liked, so I’ve just been on the lookout for small things he might enjoy. It was a lot of used books, Harry Potter brickheadz, sunflower seeds, and snacks. He seemed pretty happy with all of it. Again, he’s not much of a gift person – giving or receiving.

He was pretty disappointed to see that he’s only grown an inch in the last year. He used to be one of the tallest kids in his grade and now all of his friends have passed him up.

We had tacos for lunch (also what we had Friday night) and peanut butter bars for his official birthday dessert.

To get out of the house for a bit on this beautiful day, we tried out a new fall fun place called Enchanted Valley Acres in Cross Plains. It was a bit of a drive, but fun to do something different.

We went during the Packer game so it would be less crowded. There were so many activities. I think the human hamster wheels were their favorite. There was also a huge 200 foot slide.

As is often the case, they both got fixated on something and it kind of ruined their ability to have fun. First it was Caden needing a drink and thinking he was going to die until he had one. There was a Hawaiian ice food truck set up so they each got one of those and then they got obsessed with wanting to do the gem mining, which is of course extra money. Finally they were satisfied with just playing in the water.

I liked this giant corn pit type thing.

The guys ended our trip going in the corn maze and I got my own Hawaiian ice. Corn mazes are not my thing. My ankle had also had enough of bumpy ground at that point.

The rest of the birthday has been pretty low key. Lots more video games. They took a short bike ride. They talked to most of the relatives via video chat. And Greg picked up Chinese food for dinner. At the moment I think he’s feeling very overtired, but it was a good day. It’ll be a long time before he has another weekend birthday.

Sunday Intentions

Another busy week ahead as September festivities continue. Greg’s parents are making their way back from Greece and we’ll be celebrating Cindy’s birthday at some point. I’m hoping for one kind of fun errand day – I might see a movie – on Tuesday, and working as hard as I can Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And Friday I’m off to Cranberry Fest as the crack of dawn with my parents. Always one of my favorite days of the year, so I’m very excited!

My only real intention for the week is to try and enjoy life. I get really caught up in how many things need to be done every day and am often feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But this is the best time of the year and I want to enjoy it! I’m definitely really behind at my seasonal doll making, but I don’t want doll making to take over my life the way it has in the past. So…if I get a lot done, that’s great. If I don’t, it simply means I was doing more important life work. I’ll survive either way.

Have a good week!

Saturday Reflections 09.15.2018

We made it through the second week of school with a lot fewer breakdowns! I’d say this has probably been the easiest transitional beginning school period we’ve ever had. Which is surprising with Caden at a new school and Shepard without his big brother to depend on. I’ve even had a pretty easy time transitioning into my own routines again, without feeling like my life has drastically changed. I like it!

Unfortunately, it still wasn’t quite a “normal” week. September is never normal since I’m usually preparing for birthday parties on more than one weekend. Which basically means a ton of running around trying to gather everything I need. My sewing always falls to the wayside, which is frustrating, but I don’t really know what to do about it. I think I just need to accept I’m never going to be as productive as I hope to be in September. Hopefully I can make up for it in October?

On Monday, I began my morning with that two week yoga challenge. It felt great to get it over with first thing in the morning and I was loving how I felt. But by Wednesday I was getting super sore, mostly my ankles, and wasn’t sure if I should power through or not. I don’t think I was actually injuring myself, but it was getting a lot harder to walk and feel good. By the end of the week I wasn’t feeling the greatest either, so the last few days have been very half-hearted attempts. I really want to complete this challenge, but I lost my enthusiasm for it after four days.

I tried going for another long walk after getting the boys to school, but that hasn’t gone very well either this week. The stupid mosquitoes!! There are honestly like twenty mosquitoes on your body at all times the second you walk out the door. It’s an absolute nightmare. And it makes me want to cry how beautiful the weather has otherwise been, but we’re all missing it because the mosquitoes are out to kill. πŸ™ And poor Annie! She’s only getting out to the bathroom the absolute bare minimum of times every day, with almost no additional exercise. I walk her with us to school every morning, but then I rush her home as fast as possible because every time she stops to sniff or go to the bathroom, I’m attacked by ten times more mosquitoes. She probably feels like she’s being punished.

I ran to Walmart for some groceries and then stopped at my mom’s to drop off a few condolence gifts I picked up in Chicago. We had coffee together and then I came back home to try and catch up on all kinds of random stuff I had waiting for me. I hung up this big sign I got at the vintage market at the bottom of my stairs – I love it! I was going to hang up my colorful signs in my sewing room too, but realized they didn’t come with any picture hanger thingys. So I need to figure out where to buy those before they can get on the wall.

The rest of Monday I napped, worked a little bit, Greg took Caden to his first Lego League – an hour late because I never got the memo the time changed – and just laid around because I wasn’t feeling that good. I really haven’t been feeling the greatest all week. Not sick enough to be bedridden or anything, but enough to make every job a little harder and motivation much harder to muster up.

Tuesday I was bound and determined to actually get some work done. But I also had yoga, quiet time, school send off, errands at the post office and library, and I stopped in at a local morning coffee, but people who said they would be there were not and I was frustrated and sick of how often people think my time is invaluable, so I left. I don’t have time for people that waste my time anymore. Or time for people that have zero interest in maintaining a friendship. I went back home and worked, worked, worked, and still went to bed feeling incredibly frustrated with how little I actually got done. I feel like I used to sew so much faster! Am I being more of a perfectionist now? Or am I just plain slower??

I ordered this new bench ottoman type thing from Kohl’s with a bunch of Kohl’s cash I needed to use last week. It ended up being super cheap. I was hoping it would fit in our bedroom, but there’s definitely no space for any extra furniture. So I put it in the family room, hoping it might make the space a little happier. Instead it just looks more cluttered than ever. I’m really not a fan of that room. But I don’t know what to do to make it any better. It serves as our dining room, our main living/tv watching/video game playing space, the electronic charging station, the room we walk in and out of all the time and dump all of our shoes, coats, and bags, Greg’s office area, and where Annie’s kennel and toys and food are kept. How do you arrange a room that has to fit so many purposes? Anyway, the boys and pets love the new stool. I’d like it more if they’d actually keep it in one spot. I don’t know why everything I neatly arrange has to be moved and cluttered about two minutes after I arrange it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I went to the fall opening of one of my favorite stores, Twisted Sisters, on Wednesday morning. I’m finding that I like the things they sell there less and less, but I always enjoy looking around. I ended up buying a few stems of fake fall flowers. Then back home to work.

On Wednesday evening we met Greg’s parents at the new restaurant/bowling alley/arcade in town, Fast Lanes. We were celebrating Caden’s birthday with them because they’re off to Greece for the next two weeks and won’t be around for the party. I’ve been dying to check the restaurant out since it opened. I ended up just ordering the basic chicken sandwich and garlic tater tots. My only complaint is that none of the food was very hot, but it still tasted good.

We came back to our house for presents and cupcakes. Caden was super excited about a new video game and his very own RED portable charger! We’ve reached the age where gifts are much smaller in size and much bigger dents in the wallet!

His first 10th birthday dessert. It was a fun night!

Thursday was another big work day. I’m hoping maybe if I force myself to work and only work 2-3 days a week it will ease up some of the guilt I feel on busier days. It still wasn’t super productive, though, because I was super tired. Getting up at 4:30 every day to fit in my full morning routine is awesome, but I always pay for it by late morning which sucks. I forget how productive I was in those early hours and just end up mad at myself for how little I got done later on.

I was originally planning to go to that Madison Night Market, which looked so awesome. But by afternoon I was really feeling like my time would better be spent working and getting ready for the big weekend. Plus, it kind of sucks always going to these events by myself. I just wasn’t up for another one. Anyway, Greg offered to pick up a pizza from the other new restaurant in town, James Street Pizza. I was a little annoyed to see that they don’t let you change anything on any of their menu pizzas. (Almost all of them had onions, which is pretty much the most annoying topping to have to try and dig out before eating and we both hate them.) We could have built our own, but it would have been New York Style, and I really wanted to try their Old World Style with the fresh mozzarella. So we landed on the least offensive pizza choice and I just picked off the sausage. I think it would have tasted amazing with some pepperoni, but I did really like the pizza otherwise!

This is Caden’s new favorite reading position. Annie had to try it out on Friday morning. πŸ™‚

I woke up super early on Friday, but was really stressed about my lack of doll progress, so I used the morning to work instead of do yoga. I wasn’t feeling very well all day, so it’s the first day I skipped a video completely. There was just so much to do! Shepard decided to pull a fake out sick tantrum when we got to school so Greg gave in and let him come home. Except he admitted like two minutes later he didn’t want to go to school because they had a substitute teacher who is really mean. TOTALLY faking the sickness. I was pretty livid, but I also had party running errands I needed to do, so I left Greg to deal with it. He ended up bringing Shepard back to school mid morning.

My main mission Friday was to get a ton of different donut holes and pick up everything else I needed for Caden’s birthday party without needing to run back out last minute. I think I succeeded! (I have two more hours to realize I might have forgotten something.) Then back home, a nap, and more work.

The facebook book club I’m in is doing a fall readathon this weekend. Despite it not being the best of weekends to making reading a priority, I decided to join in the fun because there was no hour requirement this time around. And I’m actually really glad I decided to partake because it’s made this weekend so much more fun and relaxing than it could have been! With a lot of Greg’s help doing house cleaning, I’ve had more time than ever to just read the last two days. I think that mentally I really needed to put my dolls aside and only focus on party prep and reading. I kind of want to do this every weekend now. It’s been great doing all the facebook related prompts too, with the reading group. I love being around other book lovers, even if it’s only through my computer.

Saturday was the big party prep day. Again, I was planning to go to the farmer’s market, but made the decision to skip out. Maybe next Saturday. Hopefully next Saturday. πŸ™‚ This was the right choice, though. The boys had some friends over and at first we said they couldn’t come inside because we were cleaning. The mosquitoes were eating them alive, so then we said they could come in if they helped clean. Which they all willingly did, which was kind of hilarious.

We’re taking it pretty easy with this breakfast themed birthday party, so the only real baking I had to do was making apple cheddar scones. I also had to make a couple packages of bacon, cheesy hashbrowns, and sausage. Lots of little prep, but nothing unmanageable or stressful. Caden’s birthday cake is this donut “croquembouche.” (Thanks for the idea, Great British Baking Show!) It turned out pretty well!

Anyway, I’m off now to finish everything up for the party and then HAVE the party. More later!!