Saturday Reflections 07.20.2019

If I haven’t written in awhile it’s usually an indicator of one of two things – either I’ve been genuinely too busy or I’m struggling. Last week I was busy. This week I am struggling. Summer is really starting to weigh on me. I feel like I’m not allowed to say that because in many ways it feels like summer has barely begun. They’ve been off of school for six weeks, but they’ve only been off of summer school for just over two, and most of those two weeks were taken up with 4th of July festivities and a spontaneous mini vacation. This past week is really the first one that has been “normal.” And it’s been a tough one.

My biggest struggle is the most obvious – lack of alone time. I’ve been a stay at home mom from day one, but it’s never felt particularly easy on me mentally. These last three years once both boys were in school full time have been AMAZING. I have days to myself to work and get things done, but still have the benefit of flexibility and being around when they need me. It’s the perfect mix for nine months of the year. Then summer comes around and the lack of routine and predictable hours to myself to recharge basically do me in. It’s not even that the boys really need me that much anymore at 10 and 8. But the weight of responsibility for them doesn’t go away! They still need to be fed and monitored to make sure they’re not sneaking too many snacks. They still expect to be entertained or constantly given things to do or ideas of ways to spend their time. I still need to constantly be breaking up fights and trying to enforce punishments when things get out of hand. And on top of it all – they’re staying up later at night AND waking up earlier than they ever did during the school year! Meanwhile I’m still going to bed at the same time and waking up a tad bit later than I used to, so I almost never have any break from them. Or at least a break from the responsibility and need to be ON all the time.

While I am desperately needing more time to myself, I’m also struggling with friendships. Again. (As always?) Or lack thereof. I don’t know how to stay in touch with people. And if we’re not in touch I feel like we’re not really friends. I’ve been fairly busy this summer – much busier than in years past. It’s making me a lot more compassionate and understanding when my friends are also busy. At the same time – can’t we all make getting together a higher priority? And then when I do see people just by running into them by accident, I am so horribly awkward. I want to just be close to people without all the embarrassing and stilted small talk. And you don’t reach that level of familiarity with someone unless you actually do the work and spend time with them. And NOBODY has the time! It’s an endless cycle of craving connection with other women so desperately, putting myself out there to try and schedule something, almost always getting rejected – or at least feeling rejected – and then I crawl back into my shell and give up until the loneliness gets so strong that I try again. I somehow thought it would be easier as my kids got older. It’s not. Everyone is busier than ever. The mom guilt is strong in not wanting to miss anything our kids are doing. And then we’re all too tired after work and family time to muster up any remaining energy for each other. The hardest part for me to make peace with is that I feel like I’m alone in this loneliness.

And of course in summer with kids home there’s also just the lack of freedom to really do the things I want to do when I want to do them. During the school year I’d usually go out and run errands twice a week. I love errands! Now, I have to bring them with me and they’re HORRIFIC in stores. So we just don’t go. I’ve been needing to go to Costco for two weeks now and I just can’t bring myself to go when it means bringing them with me. I’ve actually managed to avoid shopping with them this entire summer – until we stopped at Target the other day. All I needed was dog food! And they spent the whole time in the store wrestling with each other, Caden taking Shepard’s hat and throwing it around, fighting over the cart, running into people and knocking stuff from the shelves. It’s absolutely ridiculous how they act in a store when they’re “bored.” And that was one store for one item!

And finally – work. I’m still trying to work a mostly full time job while also keeping my kids happy and filled with fun memories of time spent together. Which means I need to do the bulk of my sewing at night and on weekends. And that’s a lifestyle I don’t like to maintain. It’s leaving very little room for reading or resting or walking Annie or just having any kind of fun. I’ve become the kind of person that feels like an utter failure if I’m not doing something productive every minute of every day. And I don’t want to be that kind of person! Especially not in summer. But work isn’t going away and I need to fit it in when I can. I’m just getting really burned out from it all.

Anyway! Vent portion of this post over. Time for reflections.

I spent last week with the boys on a spontaneous vacation to Three Bears Resort in Warrens. It was a really fun time! But I’ll write more on that in a separate post.

Last Friday we spent the afternoon and evening with the in-laws, visiting with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who were just there together for the evening. Unfortunately, after three days of vacation – and even more strongly – four days without significant Daddy time – Caden was an absolute nightmare. So once again I got to just be the bad/mad mom – the only persona I’m allowed to have at family gatherings because the pressure to behave is always too dang much for Caden to handle. I had to take him home and he lost all screens for a week, which definitely contributed to this week being especially hard. When Caden has lost the only thing he cares about he has zero incentive to even try to be good.

On Saturday morning I got up super early to go grocery shopping before it got busy. I also went to the farmers market for the second week in a row and didn’t actually get out of the car and go in. The week before was because of storms. This time it was in a different location with a terrible parking situation and I couldn’t find anywhere to go. The crowds going in were so big that I eventually gave up. But it’s really frustrating to keep going to something I really love and not being able to actually do it! I didn’t even try to go today.

On Sunday I met my mom and we went to the annual Swan Park Craft Fair in Beaver Dam. I didn’t buy anything, but it was still fun to walk around. Then we did some grocery shopping together and had an early lunch at Cousin’s. In the afternoon Greg took the boys back to his parents’ house so I could take a nap and then Caden ended up sleeping over while the rest of us went to a friend’s birthday party at the pool. It was so oppressively hot that I left early. The terrible heat wave this week is definitely not helping my mood!

On Monday morning I had to go pick up Caden, so Shepard and I stopped at the dog park on the way, but it was way too buggy. We got Caden and then checked out the Beaver Dam dog park. I told my mom we were in town so she invited us over there for awhile where we sat outside with coffee and cinnamon rolls while the dogs enjoyed the fresh air. And then in the afternoon we went back to BD again for my sister-in-law’s early birthday celebration.

On Tuesday the boys decided they wanted to have a “rock and junk sale.” Willow was having a three day long lemonade stand in her yard, so they thought it would be fun to join in with their own table of goodies. I just let them go ahead and do whatever they wanted as long as I could keep working and didn’t need to help. I felt a little bad that nobody actually wanted to stop and shop, but they seemed to have a good time. Until they came in and Caden went totally ballistic again over something. Meltdown worse than Friday’s, but without the audience. Then they both left to a sprinkler/water activity thing at the library. Greg took them to BD again for dinner and I went to my friend’s house late at night for a bonfire. THAT was a nice end to a very rough day.

Wednesday was our big fun day of the week. My mom joined us and we went to Madison for a “foodie day.” We started at Manna Cafe to get some fancy iced lattes. I fell in love with their coffee back in December and January and haven’t had a chance to get back since! I’d still like to eat there someday, but it’s always so crazy busy. That’s a big turn off for me.

Next we stopped at the Wednesday farmers market. It was SO HOT. I didn’t take any pictures. But the produce variety has really gotten a lot bigger since the last market I’ve been to! We bought a lot of things. Then headed to Hurt’s Donuts in Middleton. This is the second time we’ve been there and the second time we thought the donuts weren’t that great. Though they have tons of crazy flavors and the boys just pick the most boring ones! I had a salted caramel with chocolate drizzle which was great – I just should have waited to eat it… I didn’t because it was so hot I knew it would melt. Maybe not the best place to have gone, but at least after trying it twice I know we’re not really missing anything!

We went to the Mustard Museum next. We usually go every summer because the boys LOVE trying out all the mustards. Caden eats mustard every day, so he loves having a chance to find unique kinds he’ll love. This year we went with a dill mustard and an extra extra extra hot horseradish mustard.

Despite eating and drinking all morning, we were hungry for some real food so we tried out this new restaurant called Bartaco. They serve everything family style/ala carte and it was really fun to pick a bunch of random things off the menu. Shepard’s meal was the chips and salsa and some plain corn. Caden picked chicken soup and Mexican corn, but they got my instructions wrong and just gave him a plain corn too. I was hoping to try the Mexican one! My mom had an Asian slaw and fresh pineapple. And I had the carne asada and mojo pork tacos. I honestly think they were the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. They really only had meat and sauce on freshly made tortillas, but the flavor was outstanding. I can’t wait to go back again! I did buy a bottle of their habanero sauce because it was so amazing.

We finished our day out with the stop at Target. I was planning to go to Costco too, but I knew we couldn’t handle it. I wanted to stop at the Columbus farmers market too, but it was just too hot. It was a busy, but really great day!

The only interesting thing we did on Thursday was go stand in the rain for the peach truck to come so we could buy boxes of blueberries. I spent the rest of the day sewing.

On Friday there were some extra relatives in town so we went over for a quick lunch and Jenga game. I was kind of reaching emotional breakdown status in the afternoon, so Greg took the boys to hang out with my brother for the night. If you’ve read this whole thing you’ve noticed that he really does take the boys out fairly often and I DO have some time to myself. But it’s always at night and it’s never predictable. I mean, it’s better than nothing for sure!! But my brain is pretty much shot by night and that’s when I’m madly sewing anyway. I miss having daytime hours alone. Productive brain awake hours.

And today I was supposed to go to a craft day, but it was cancelled so it’s turned out to be pretty free and open. I’m trying really hard to force myself to just relax and not worry about doing anything unless I absolutely feel like I want to. That being said, I think I’m going to go read!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 07.07.2019

It’s been quite a week! Every day seems to last about five days long, yet summer is also flying by. Officially, our summer only started on Wednesday because Tuesday was the last day of summer school. We’ve fit in so many things already!

I spent most of Monday stressfully trying to figure out what to do with all of my overripe peaches. The 25 pound box was hard as a rock on Thursday, I force ripened some to make peach crumble on Saturday morning, and then they were all ripe to overripe by Sunday. If your life doesn’t match up with the ripeness schedule of your box of peaches you’re in big trouble! I think next year I seriously need to find someone to just flat out split a box with me. Then it’ll be less stressful. I was feeling pretty lazy this year and used most of my remaining peaches for salsa. Unfortunately, it was only good for a day and one of the people I made a bowl for wasn’t home to give it to that night.

It was a really hot week! While we did get a new air conditioner this spring, it only cools the lower half of our house. We have a window unit in our room, so Shepard fell asleep in our bed every night and then Greg moved him to his room when he came up.

On Tuesday I tried to just relax and soak up my last day home alone for the next two months!

Determined to jump right into my goal list for the month, we left early Wednesday morning to go to Token Creek Dog Park. We’ve only been to it twice before and that was before I broke my ankle. It’s a really nice enormous field with a hilltop in the middle and woods around the edges. Despite the early hour it was already SO hot, but the bugs were a lot less annoying than at the dog park in town. I’m really hoping I decide on a few solid favorites this summer and continue taking Annie to dog parks in fall when things cool off and the trees start changing. It’s probably the most exciting way for both of us to get some fresh air and exercise. This one is definitely a contender because it’s one of the closest – about 25 minutes away.

Because it’s on the way home, we stopped in at Mounds for Annie to pick out some treats. I’ve always wanted to bring her into a pet store like that! I think she was having some sensory overload. The boys thought it was really cool, though!

We were back home by 9:30 and it was a VERY long first morning of the no screens before noon rule. They were at least pretty good natured in their complaining, but they also wouldn’t leave me alone. We’ve really only had two days of the rule being in place, but I’m still optimistic that it was the right choice.

Greg was home early and came with us to the farmers market. Annie came too, though it was crazy hot by then. I bought a loaf of bread and some cheese. They were doing a brat fry fundraiser and Caden had a hamburger. Shepard bought a ceramic pot that he was able to paint and will be able to pick up this week after it’s been fired.

The 4th was a good day! The weather seemed so iffy all week. Actually, we were getting random short storms almost every day. Fortunately, they held off until afternoon so we were able to go ahead with our plans to visit Cedar Lake.

Because it was just going to be us and Greg’s parents and grandparents (there are usually many more extra relatives and kids at these parties), we decided to bring Annie along. She loved it. And it made the day a little too chaotic. Within ten minutes she somehow managed to break apart her pinch collar and took off. I was screaming and chasing her and she never even looked back. I literally had just told the boys the day before at the dog park that I bet she wouldn’t be a runner anymore because she always stays so close to me at dog parks. She decided to prove me wrong. Luckily, Greg caught her. It could have been a much worse outcome.

The three of them were having the time of their lives playing in the water. Annie never left the depth where she could still touch the ground. Maybe if she hadn’t been on a leash she would have tried swimming, but she already proved she can never be trusted! We also managed to break her retractable leash by submerging it into the water, which meant I had to hold her on her four foot standard leash the rest of the day. She was so hyped up about being there, but also wanted me to be right next to her and kept getting fully wet and then running back and shaking it all over me. It was fun to see her happy, but stressful to maintain that for the entire day.

I was switching back and forth between the beach and further up the hill under the shady trees where it was a bit cooler. The weather really was great for the first few hours before the heat overtook it!

The boys were having the time of their lives just swimming and playing on the tubes. They were getting along so well and having so much fun! Another reminder that the simplest of plans are what make them happiest. They did some tubing out with the boat too. I don’t go on the boat rides anymore because I can’t stand the blasting sun.

Annie and I spent the last few hours trying to cool off in the shade. It was a really nice time! Worth missing my beloved once a year fire station fundraiser cheese fries.

The rest of the day didn’t turn out as well, thanks to Mother Nature. We stopped in Beaver Dam to get some fireworks to do at the in-law’s house right when the first storm rolled in. We waited it out and the guys went to pick up some Culver’s for an easy dinner. We tried to do a few at their house, but the post-rain humidity was deathly! I had to continue holding Annie on her leash for another three hours because she kept terrorizing the cat. We went back home with half hearted plans to go watch the fireworks, even though Greg and I didn’t really want to. But, how can you say no when they’ve been so good all day? Unfortunately, more storms hit right when the show was about to start. There was a ton of confusion on if they would be postponed or not. I think most people at the actual park eventually assumed with pouring rain and nonstop lightning that it wouldn’t happen. We gave up and went to bed. And then we HEARD the whole show as we were trying to fall asleep. Oh well. It was terrible timing, but still overall a really good day.

I thought everyone would sleep in on Friday, but no deal! They LOOK tired, but they were wrestling and attacking each other all morning.

Shepard and I decided to make some beignets. He’s been wanting to do it since we saw them make beignets on The Chef Show. That show is seriously just a wealth of food making inspiration. I think we’ve created something from almost every episode! I was watching one of the last episodes this morning when they were making and eating breakfast tacos – I was so insanely jealous. I think I’m going to watch the season all over again and actually write down all the ingredients they use for the more complicated recipes.

This is how many we had left after we already ate our fill! I thought they turned out okay. Not really as good as I had imagined. I’d like to try the famous ones in New Orleans someday.

I’m not sure what I did the rest of the day other than make pizza!

Saturday was another fun family day. I woke up really early and decided to go to the farmers market because it’s been a long time since my last visit. Unfortunately, storms struck AGAIN and I never even got out of the car. I waited out the thunder and lightning at a grocery store, but it was still raining too hard to stop at the market. If I was just heading home afterward I probably would have risked it, but I didn’t want to be wet the next few hours.

I met Greg and the boys at the theater and we watched the new Spiderman movie. It was really good! We had lunch at Portillo’s before coming home and spending the rest of the day just relaxing.

Today, amazingly, it was in the low 60’s when I got up! So we packed up the cats in their stroller and took the pets on a long walk around town. It was so nice! I wish every morning was like that. The boys were being extra cooperative, even cleaning out my car the first time I suggested it, in hopes of me not enforcing the noon rule on weekends. The rest of the day has just been very chill. Overall – a pretty great week!

Sunday Intentions

Oh, I just remembered what I did on Friday – spent THE ENTIRE DAY doing research, trying to plan a spontaneous vacation for the boys and I when I realized this upcoming week is basically the only one until the end of August that we don’t have some random plan on a Tuesday or Wednesday that would interfere with having a midweek trip. This is something I really wanted to do with them this summer, and just hadn’t gotten around to figuring out the logistics yet. After entertaining a ton of different options, I ended up going with the hotel that started my search in the first place – two nights at Three Bears Resort in Warrens. I’m really excited about it! We’re leaving on Tuesday morning and coming home on Thursday night. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and great opportunity for long lasting memories together. Most of the time I’m totally fine with being the unfavored parent, but sometimes it feels good to be the one that can do something spontaneous and special with them. Plus it gives Greg a few nights to himself, which NEVER happens. Annie’s even going to go on her own mini vacation to Grandma’s, so Greg won’t have to deal with her.

Since that trip is basically our whole week, there’s not much time for anything else. I started some dolls last night, which I intended to finish today, but I’m not making much progress. Hopefully I can get them done by morning since I won’t have time to work the rest of the week. I also need to do a bit more research and figure out something we can do on Tuesday before our 4pm check in time. Despite only living an hour away, we don’t spend much time in the Dells, so surely there is something unique we can check out before heading further north.

So my intentions for this upcoming week? Have fun, be patient, make memories. I want to totally go with the flow and let the boys dictate how we spend our time on the trip. I realize I’m very lucky to have the option of doing things like this and I want to make the most of it.

Have a good week!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.30.2019

So much for writing four blog posts in one day, huh? It ended up taking me almost the entire day to finish up the batch of dolls I was working on. Reminding me once again, that as awesome as it is to finish them up and make some immediate sales, I NEED to stop working so much on weekends and nights. I’d really prefer to use this time for more enjoyable and relaxing pursuits. It’d also be nice not to have my usual weekend meltdown because – gasp – my children actually want to be fed real meals and I need to force myself to stop what I’m doing, no matter how important it feels TO ME AND ME ALONE, and take care of other things. But at the same time, it feels great to set myself up to start fresh on a Monday morning. Or in the case of this week, give myself maybe a few days off to enjoy the upcoming holiday festivities. Balance is so hard.

Anyway! I’m honestly so tired right now that I barely remember what happened this week. I know it rained a lot! Many storms, with increasingly hot temperatures and sluggish humidity. It really feels like summer now. I still haven’t made it to the pool myself, but Greg takes the boys and a slew of neighborhood kids almost every night. I’ll get there someday… In the meantime, I’m really appreciating our new air conditioner!

We went to the farmers market, as always, on Wednesday afternoon. Annie was the lucky one this week with a new fresh bone and some treats. I stocked up on mascarpone to eat with peaches. And the boys each got baked treats that they ate up right away.

Shepard and I have been watching The Chef Show and getting a lot of fresh cooking ideas, so we made some garlic pasta, cheese bread, and berry bowls for dinner on Wednesday. The pasta was a little too overpowering, but it was a good experiment.

The berry bowls were, in the words of Shepard, “the best dessert we’ve had in a long time!” I just bought a bunch of fresh berries and very slightly macerated them with turbinado sugar about half an hour before we planned on eating them. Then we stirred them up with a mix of the three mint leaves we’re growing (peppermint, sweet mint, and chocolate mint). I made a fresh whipped cream and added a big spoonful of the mascarpone to give it some added depth. With more sugar and a mint garnish on top! Fancy words for something super simple and SO delicious. If it weren’t so expensive to buy that many berries I’d make it every day!

On Thursday morning I went out to the annual peach truck arrive to buy my 25 pound box of peaches. It was SO hot, but I got there early and only had to wait in line about ten minutes.

My mom came over to baby/dog sit while Greg and I went on a long date. Annie was so excited to see her!

We had an spontaneously picked dinner at a place called Right Bauer that I’ve been wanting to go to. I didn’t like my chicken sandwich very much, but the fries were good and Greg liked the pork. It was a really cute place, just with a very limited menu. More of a beer lovers destination. It’s funny how many unique breweries we go to, but I don’t drink beer at all. I’m probably missing out.

Our main destination for the date night was a comedy show featuring Daniel Van Kirk (from one of my favorite podcasts, Penpals). But the time listed on the tickets was 8:00 and we found out just that evening that the show was actually at 10. So late!! With more storms happening, and not much energy (Greg’s been mildly sickish all week), we decided to go see the movie Yesterday in between dinner and the show. It was really good! We also really enjoyed the comedians. It was a very late night, though. Too late for me.

On Friday I had a dentist appointment and ran some errands. Then we joined in the little fireworks and sparkler celebration happening next door. Annie loved taking some dips in and drinks from the kiddie pool!

Saturday was a fun day! Finally some socialization! Shepard and I went to the neighbor’s house for a crafting day. I came home to take a nap after four hours, but Shepard stayed another three or four he was having so much fun. He loved having adults indulge all of his unique crafting ideas that I’m usually too tired or busy to try to figure out for him.

In the evening, Annie and I walked over to my friend Angela’s house for a bonfire. Annie had the greatest time playing with her new friend Ally! It was a really nice night out for me. It’s been forever since I’ve spent time with friends.

And today I worked! And did laundry, which turned into an all day project because the dryer did not want to dry my comforter and blanket. And made food. And took a nap! And now I’m ready for bed.

Sunday Intentions

I’m feeling a little apprehensive about this week. There are only two days left of summer school. I’m still not ready to have my kids home all the time. Caden gets SO “bored” ALL THE TIME. He’s going to make my life very, very difficult for the next two months. I’m strongly contemplating making a no screens before noon rule (I think I mentioned this last week!) to try and eliminate some of the whininess. And the waking up super early because he thinks he can play the minute he gets out of bed. It’ll hopefully help him be more cooperative for running errands and doing some fun activities as well if he doesn’t think he’s missing out on valuable game time. The problem, however, is with this new plan I don’t know when I’m going to work. I’m too tired in the afternoons. I might have to switch to ONLY working at night. Which I don’t like either. But mornings are for being out and about, afternoons are for reading and resting, and nights are for working? I don’t know. Normally I really cut back in summer, but I’m desperately trying to bulk up my vacation funds with two big trips coming up really soon. I don’t feel like I can afford to take time off this summer. Plus I have so many ideas for new dolls that I want to fit in before mid August when I need to start on fall themes.

My tentative plan for the week is to spend tomorrow running errands and then trying to figure out what the heck to do with the 15 or so pounds of peaches I have left. Yesterday I made a peach crumble to bring next door. I gave a bunch away to my mom and mother-in-law. The boys ate a ton of them right off the counter today. I made roasted peaches for lunch. I’m planning to make some peach salsa to go with dinner tomorrow. And maybe a peach sorbet. And maybe a peach pie (they made one on the last episode I watched of The Chef Show – more inspiration!). But there are still going to be so many left. And they’re all ripe and need to be used NOW.

Tuesday will be my last day with any time to myself, so I’m hoping to spend it just chilling. I’ve been accepting a few more custom doll orders, so I’d like to work on those this week, but probably nothing else new. A little lower pressure on myself.

Wednesday I’d really like to do something fun to celebrate the first “real” day of our summer. Maybe take Annie to a new dog park or something. Or just go to the pool during the day. We’ll see. The weather is looking very iffy all week, so I don’t want to get too set in any plans. Maybe we could check out the carnival in the evening.

Thursday is the 4th! We decided to go to Cedar Lake this year, IF the weather looks good. We’ll miss out on the parade (and my beloved once a year amazing cheese fries from the fire station fundraiser), but the boys will like going to the lake more. And depending on moods and timing and weather, maybe we’ll walk down to see the fireworks in town at night.

Friday will be a recovery day! And Saturday we’re going to see the new Spiderman movie. It will hopefully be a really fun week making lots of good memories!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.23.2019

I’ve been in such a writing rut lately. Not necessarily because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m struggling with how honest to be. I’ve really been feeling the weight of judgment , or at least potential judgement, from my small audience base. I truly value vulnerability and authenticity when I listen or read things from others and hope to always let my own shine through, even if it’s not a shared opinion. But. I don’t like to be judged. Or rejected. Or seen as a bad parent or person, particularly in these three hardest months of the year for me. Every time someone tells me that summer is their favorite time of the year because they get to spend so much time with their kids it feels like a slap in the face of backhandedly telling me that there’s something wrong with me for hating it so much. I try to make the most of it. I really do. I chose to be a stay at home parent and I chose to continue being one, probably for the entire length of my kids’ childhoods. But I’m also not a stay at home mom at this point in our lives FOR THEM, the way I was when they were babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Now I’m home FOR ME. For my own career aspirations, for my introverted sanity, and for my general contentment with life. And having kids around me all day, with the added pressure of parenting them correctly with the perfect amounts of active time and reading time and limited screen time and proper meal eating – all while I’m TRYING TO WORK – it’s exhausting. And overwhelming. And sets me up to constantly feel like a failure at everything. But I don’t want to be seen as the parent who can’t stand her kids because that’s not the case either. It’s just so very hard. And I don’t often feel like I can be very honest about that anymore. Which stops me from sharing all together.

I’ve also been feeling the weight of loneliness. It continues to amaze me how much almost all of my friendships have fizzled out in the last year or two. Sometimes I’m busy, just like most people, and it’s easy to get distracted from the fact I almost never see my friends anymore. But sometimes it becomes jarringly obvious how empty my life has become without the awesome joy of getting together and sharing life with other women. What’s even more frustrating is that I sometimes meet new people and think that we could be the greatest of friends, IF friendship worked the way it used to when you were younger. If it WERE EASY. I don’t know how to make and keep real and lasting friends anymore. I’m so shy and then maybe I’m too honest and a major oversharer. I never know how to say the right things or just jump into an uncertain situation because I am so completely terrified of being rejected. I’ve become so awkward that I’ve decided it’s really just best to hide away and not even try anymore. But that doesn’t make the loneliness go away. It just makes it more of my own fault.

Anyway. Life slowed down a lot this past week. Which makes me think and dwell in my own emotions a lot more. Which maybe isn’t a very good thing and I should actually hope for the busier weeks? It WAS great to have almost nothing on the calendar. I think we all needed the reprieve after how crazy the week before was.

Because I’m only capable of handling one major project in my life at a time, I realized on Monday that I still really wanted to make a go of a garden, now that the garage sale was over. It felt too late to try and convert the sandbox the way we originally intended – maybe it can be a project for this fall and we’ll have it ready right away next spring. Instead I went the container garden route, putting all the pots right on my back steps where it will be literally impossible to ignore taking care of them. I went a bit crazy at the stores because all the plants were already on clearance. I ended up with EIGHTEEN different types of pepper plants. No doubles! And there were still a bunch of varieties I passed up. I also bought three kinds of mint to hopefully remember to add to iced tea. And Caden has his huge pot of chives that grows back every year that he just eats whenever he’s outside. Because I waited so long to buy the plants most of them already have mini peppers on them, so I think we will have a very successful crop in a few weeks!

On Tuesday I convinced the boys to go to an astronaut ice cream making event at the library. Shepard and Willow went to a slime making event a few weeks ago and loved it, so I hoped this would be similar. I didn’t take into account how busy it was going to be! We were in line for almost a whole hour with the boys touching and irritating each other the entire time. We finally made the ice cream and took it outside to eat, but I didn’t realize the heavy door was going to slam shut behind me and it knocked Shepard’s right out of his hands. Of course he immediately burst into tears, so we rushed home and made some pretty extravagants malts ot make up for it!

Wednesday was a big work day and a big food prep day. My one big labor intensive meal of the week was this huge bowl of corn salsa and some spicy pork tenderloin tacos. Pork is something we almost never, ever eat (except bacon!), but it turned out fantastic! You could barely tell it wasn’t chicken. 🙂

I ran my Monday errands in Beaver Dam, but realized by Thursday I really needed to make a few Madison stops, so I spent another day out and about. I only had time to get to about half the stores I wanted to (darn those short summer school hours!), but I did make it to Joann’s where they were having some incredible sales on things I use all the time and rarely drop in price. So worth it. Then Caden had a friend unexpectedly come over for rest of the day. Another thing I’m trying to adjust to this summer since I guess it’s now going to be a thing – extra kids here that I’m not used to. Extra kids that sometimes make me realize how amazing the kids I AM used to really are. To all the neighborhood kids – you are great and we are so lucky.

Friday was just a big work day. I also spent a lot of time on food prep making individual pretzel crust pizzas. And I took Annie to the dog park in the evening. Poor girl is not getting nearly enough exercise lately. I hope to make it up to her once the grass allergies settle down. Which will hopefully happen ASAP.

Saturday was a huge day! It started bright and early at the park for a kids mini triathlon. I was obsessively checking the weather all week because storms were forecast, but it ended up being a beautiful day! Shepard’s youngest age group went first biking one mile, running 1/4 mile, and swimming 24 yards. He did it all in about 7 minutes! Caden’s group which ended up being kids 9-15, had to bike two miles, run one mile, and swim 100 yards. He finished in 19 minutes. I was very impressed and proud of both of them! It was a really nice event that ended with t-shirts and medals and free hot dogs and chips and popsicles.

I took Annie to the dog park again afterward for awhile. Then Shepard went to a birthday party for the afternoon, Greg went to play Dungeons & Dragons, Caden played games, and I took a nap.

We finished the night at the Mallard’s baseball game. It was Greg’s work’s annual outing, though this year was a little different because they had us in the backyard section – almost ground level with the far outfield. We had to bring our own chairs, but we still got unlimited food from what they provided. I wasn’t too sure at first, but it ended up being really relaxed and fun. I was worried about mosquitoes with a night game, but I didn’t even notice them!

After being outside all day, my eyes were in pretty bad shape. Downfall of this whole weekend. I’m still trying to recover and I’ve barely gone outside at all today.

There was a free balloon station, so Shepard spent most of his time there getting additions put on his giant rocket pack. He was also making new friends with kids in line. It was pretty much one of the best days of his life!

We always take my parents to this game for my dad’s father’s day present.

Caden was surprisingly really into the game, watching the whole thing and keeping track of all the outs. Maynard the Mallard came through blasting out t-shirts and he got one! His third new shirt of the day. He was really excited! Overall, it was really a perfect night. We stayed till the very end to watch the fireworks show too. I wish every day went as well as yesterday!

And then there’s today. Would you like to know how my day started and swing back around to how this post started? Caden spent about two hours sitting on a chair next to me while I worked whining and crying and begging and yelling and poking me and tapping his chair, all in attempts to convince me he should be able to play games. Greg wants me to buckle down on limiting his screen time more, so I had to keep saying no. But let me tell you, that was a REALLY FUN TIME while I was desperately trying to finish up these mermaids as early as possible so I wouldn’t have to spend the whole day on them. But I finally got them done around noon, about four hours longer than I expected to have to work on them. I’ve sold six of the eight already, so they were a good idea, I think! Not my favorite of creations, but I do really love their mixed yarn hair. It was fun to do something different.

Sunday Intentions

Ahead we have a medium busy week. The last full week of summer school, and maybe my last week to reserve a little bit of sanity and alone time? I’m hoping to put off errand running until Wednesday, trying to get another batch of dolls done in the next two days. I want to hit up the farmers market on Wednesday, though I’m also contemplating getting to the Madison one as well. And on Thursday night Greg and I are going to see the comedian Daniel Van Kirk at a show he’s doing with Andrew Young (I don’t know who Andrew is, but LOVE Daniel Van Kirk). I think it’ll be a really fun date night and extra nice that it’s actually in Madison so we don’t have to deal with going to Milwaukee! And then on Friday I have a dentist appointment. Not so fun.

My intentions for the week are to pace myself with basically everything. It’s the end of the month so I have all my usual posts to write. Which I absolutely love doing! But it’s time consuming. I definitely want to make at least one, hopefully two, more batches of dolls. They are all selling out so quickly (which is great!), but it’s so hard to keep my shop stocked with enough to bring in new customers. I’d also like to start working on a plan for the rest of summer. I feel like such a slacker when I see all the non-summer school taking moms doing all these day trips and fun things every day, when I can barely even keep my eyes open by the time my kids get home. We always plan our summers this way with fun activities saved for July and August, but we also usually have those activities written down by now. I’m considering implementing an overarching rule of no screens before noon. Perhaps that’ll eliminate most of the fights that always arise when we need to run errands or I want to do something that sounds really fun, but they (“they” being Caden) think sounds like torture. I’m assuming the first few days of that kind of rule will be horrendous, but maybe they’ll get used to it??

Well, that’s about it for now. I have lots of mermaids to pack up and more dolls to start. Hopefully this week won’t be filled with quite so much emotional angst.

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.16.2019

Today I’m celebrating the fact that the hardest week of summer is already behind me! Well, I’m assuming it will have been the hardest week. The dreaded garage sale week. I have a huge sense of relief that it’s now behind me, though I’m not exactly jumping for joy because it was a pretty tough week. Again. Mostly because I somehow thought having a garage sale that would require me to be outside every possible minute for a week straight smack dab in the worst of allergy season would be a good idea. Um, no. It was a TERRIBLE idea. No wonder I’ve thought I had my allergies mostly under control the last few years – I was just being smart and going outside as little as possible! This year I was STUPID. Ugh, these last four days have been terrible. Can June just be over??

Ignoring the fact I was pretty sure I was going to either go blind or flat out die multiple times a day, the week went pretty smoothly. We were all too busy to have time to be in bad moods. (Trust me, it caught up to us this weekend, though!) The boys both started summer school on Monday and found enough friends in their classes that they’re pretty content with going every day. Caden also had a basketball camp immediately after school Monday through Thursday. He was disappointed he didn’t know anyone there and I think it was a hard pill for him to swallow that he wasn’t instantly a basketball star. But he didn’t complain about it and I’m proud of him for actually wanting to try something. Three of his summer school classes are basically gym classes, so after six hours of being fully active every day, we really just let him play video games all evening. Shepard alternated between games and friends and helping us set up the sale.

On Tuesday my mom came over and we worked all day to get just about everything set up that we could in the garage. But my greatest accomplishment was making this Chile con Carne from my Tex Mex cookbook I raved about a few months back. I’m not really a fan of chili in general because I don’t eat beans, I don’t like beef (only in tacos!), and big chunks of tomato are a turn off. (I don’t like noodles either, though we’re not noodle in chili people where I grew up!) But I was intrigued by this recipe with no beans, no tomatoes, WITH BACON, and a cacophony of amazing spices with a homemade chili paste. I made it in the crockpot in the morning and the smell all day long was driving me wild. It didn’t disappoint either! SO delicious. But also crazy spicy. Greg seemed irritated with the spice level and Caden kept smacking his head it was so hot. Shepard, who usually tends toward milder eating habits, actually loved it as much as me, though. I was just so excited to find a new beef recipe that we’d all at least eat!

I spent Wednesday morning running errands and afternoon making a couple batches of chex mix and cookies. Then we went out to dinner with Greg’s parents to celebrate Steve’s birthday a few days late and Father’s Day a few days early.

Shepard just really loves trying to take over every holiday and celebration and make it about him!

Thursday was go time! I made a couple more batches of cookies in the morning, just to be safe. In hindsight, I really should have made the cookies smaller, but I wanted them to be big and soft and extra appealing, so I used the muffin scoop for all of these. I’m pretty certain we didn’t even come close to making a profit since each batch only made about 10 cookies! I got smarter when I was making cookies late Thursday night and used the next size scoop down.

I somehow thought it was going to be pretty leisurely getting everything set up, but my mom and I were practically running to get everything up and going by noon like I had wanted. We had SO MUCH STUFF. And I wanted as much out on the driveway as possible for all the people that just slowly drive by to see if it’s worth stopping. Our garage is so far from the road that we need a good driveway draw!

We stayed open until 7pm on Thursday and sales were pretty steady. It might have been busier if I had had more time to strategize my advertising tactics. I just ran out of time. We had our prices super cheap because we were really just desperate to get rid of everything, not trying to make a lot of money. It was fun how excited all the customers were about the prices. I think almost every single person told us what they were going to use the things for and how happy they were to find such great deals. That part of the sale was really fun! I have so few interactions with people in my daily life that it felt really good to have so many positive ones in such a short span of time.

I let the boys stay home from summer school on Friday with the agreement that they had to help me run the sale and could not play games. You can see in the photo that Caden went against that from the start. Then they came up with some sort of rule that whoever was at the stand when a customer came was the one who would get the money and only one of them could be there at a time. So they were at each other’s throats fighting all morning about who got the customer and the money. We kept saying that they should just split the money evenly, but they were way too competitive to make that happen. Just dealing with them fighting and crying and screaming at each other made Friday much more stressful. Annie was also a lot more antsy and was sitting at the window behind our heads whimpering and whining ALL EIGHT HOURS.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault, though I also don’t think it would have happened if one of them had actually been sitting at the stand, but it was super windy on Friday and it knocked the umbrella over that was next to the lemonade stand and everything crashed to the ground. We got it all cleaned up and remade some more lemonade in a pitcher, but they were both just totally over it by then.

We had a lull in customers in the afternoon and I was so tired and itchy and sneezy that I was ready to just lay on the ground and take a nap. Instead Shepard and I ran to Kwik Trip to get some “fancy” coffee drinks to try and perk us all up.

I woke up early on Saturday with renewed vigor and made three more batches of cookies – making that 14 total batches almost entirely sold in the 2.5 days we were open!

Caden was at a sleepover birthday party, so the three of us stayed open until noon and ran a $1 fill a bag special. I was enormously entertained at how full people were stuffing their bags! Overall, I think the sale was a huge success. No, we didn’t make a ton of money, but we made enough that I think it was worth the effort. Our main objective was to just get rid of everything and we did pretty good! I basically had an emotional meltdown by the time it ended, I was just so wiped out and sick of trying to shred my eyes out of my head they were so itchy. Greg sent me in to take a nap and by the time I woke up he already had most of the stuff packed for Goodwill and had taken all the borrowed tables back to their owners! I just couldn’t really deal with anything anymore, so Greg took the boys to his parents for the evening and I stayed home to clean the house, trying to bring some sort of normalcy back to our lives for this week!

And that brings us to today, Father’s Day. For perhaps the first year ever, we decided to stay home and have a chill day to ourselves. We all needed the break after how exhausting the week was. Though it’s honestly turned out to be kind of a bummer of a day. Even with low expectations, things never work out the way I think they’re going to. The boys are cranky and full of attitude. I’m cranky because I’m so dang tired. Greg’s cranky because we’re cranky and ruining his day. Instead of just relaxing, he’s spent hours sanding our kitchen table so I could restain it, he worked more in the garage, he mowed and trimmed the lawn. Our meal schedule was thrown off because he sleeps in and eats breakfast around the time we’re all ready for lunch. So we had a “lunchish snack” at 11, but the boys and I were pretty hungry a few hours later. I ended up ordering pizza, Greg’s meal of choice, but then he wasn’t very hungry so it was a waste of the good meal he picked. This is a regular weekend problem we have, but I thought I had it figured out, but…I was wrong. So now we’re all just doing our own thing and maybe by tonight we can be happy and eat the special dessert I made him. Hopefully? I’m really just over holidays. There are too many of them. And they’re always a let down.

Sunday Intentions

So that was probably all WAY more than you needed or wanted to know about our garage sale! But hey – it’s over! I don’t have to talk about it ever again! 🙂 I am now blissfully looking forward to our week ahead. Life is going to SLOW DOWN. For real. I’m going to make it.

The only thing on the agenda for the next few days is summer school! There’s a fun looking library program Tuesday afternoon we might stop in at. And I want to go to the farmers market on Wednesday if it isn’t raining this week. Otherwise…nothing. I am planning to WORK. I am so excited to start sewing again. It always feels amazing after a little break. And it feels reassuring to notice how much I missed it! Plus the end of June and most of July are a rare time of year when I don’t NEED to be sewing for a specific holiday. So many months of the year are dedicated to that, but in summer I finally have a bit of freedom to be more creative.

Our only big day this week is Saturday. The boys are both going to do mini triathlons in the morning! I really hope the weather holds out because I think it’ll be so fun for them! Then Shepard is going to a birthday party. And then we’re all going to the Mallard’s Game for Greg’s work appreciation day. It should be a really fun day if we get good weather!

Well, that’s about it. I think I’m going to head out to the dog park with Annie and finally let her get out some of her pent up energy. And, you know, start up the allergy attacks again. 🙂

Saturday Reflections 06.08.2019

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re just filled with so many negative emotions that you wreck all chances of anything good happening to you? I feel like I’ve had a whole week of self-sabotaging mental anguish. I don’t want to have a whole summer like this. But…it’s been a sucky week. Nothing really went the way I wanted it to, or thought it would. I’m STILL trying to reconcile the fact that my kids are completely their own people with their own emotions and agendas that VERY RARELY align with mine. It’s making for nonstop arguments and resentment from all sides, which really isn’t a very fun way to live, especially in your own home.

It started last Sunday when I finally gave up on anyone helping me clean the boys’ rooms. They were disastrous and I spent the entire weekend talking about how important it was that we work together to get those two rooms cleaned once and for all. My voice went unheard. I spent hours by myself cleaning their rooms to perfection. And then I had a full blown tantrum when I finally went downstairs to them all playing their video games and demanding dinner. When I said I wouldn’t make dinner for people that didn’t listen to me and help out with THEIR ROOMS, they looked at me like I was crazy and told me I never said to clean their rooms. What?! Are you kidding me?? I think those are the kinds of things that make me most angry. I tell my children to do something. Often more than once. I finally get angry and yell because they never did the thing. And then they look at me blankly and start arguing that I never told them to do it. Am I invisible?!? Can they not register the wavelengths of my voice? It’s absolutely infuriating.

So I took the anger from that day and carried it with me the rest of the week. A lot of resentment can be stored up when you realize you are 25% of a family, doing 100% of the mundane daily chores. It’s an easier pill to swallow when 75% of the family is gone for most of the day and not making mess after mess after mess, and requiring meal after snack after meal. It was also easier to get over it when my kids were little and not really capable of actually cleaning something up. But at 10 and 8? They can do it. They SHOULD do it. And they should do it without constant nagging and arguing and eventually threatening to take things away. I don’t know how to change this dynamic, though. And the lack of control over my own life right now, and knowing it’s going to be like this for three more months, is what’s eating away at me. I like my life to be tidy and organized and go the way it’s supposed to go. Kids, at least mine, don’t cooperate with that.

Anyway. I decided to spend my last two days alone doing only the things that I like to do. I ran some errands and went to a few of my favorite stores on Monday and then took a long nap. On Tuesday I stayed home to just read and rest. It was an appropriate personal goodbye ceremony to another school year behind us.

Tuesday was the last day of school. They got a lot bigger this year! And grew a lot more hair. Shepard’s really come into his own this year, getting over most of his social anxiety. He’s quite the popular little man these days!

Probably the best picture of the three of them I could ever hope to get!

The sucky part about Tuesday is that allergies hit me HARD. They haven’t been that bad yet – sometimes they start as early as Mother’s Day, so I just assumed I finally had it under control this year with the four different medications I take for them. Nope! I have been trying not to shred my eyes out the last five days, they are so ragingly itchy. It just adds another layer of why I’ve been so cranky. I hate this time of the year. I hate that it’s finally nice out, Annie is desperate to go play outside all the time, and every time I walk outside I feel like I’m going to die, but guess what – I’m a mother and a dog owner – so I have to go out whether I want to or not. It’s just so ANNOYING. The good news is that they’re usually gone by early July, so at least once they get really bad I know the end is in sight!

Caden wasn’t feeling very well on Tuesday either. They went to Grandma’s and his head hurt so bad that he couldn’t eat. Then he woke up with a really red eye on Wednesday. He was also coughing and stuffed up. We had plans in the morning to meet a few friends at the park for a big donut picnic, so we went over for an hour and then had a pretty lazy day. Next week is going to be so busy – mostly for him – so I really wanted him to get rested up. I was also worried he might have pink eye because it was so swollen and droopy. The only real thing we did was walk over the farmer’s market in the afternoon to pick up a few things for dinner.

I didn’t plan on working this week, but sometimes it’s better to funnel my stress into something productive, so I whipped up a batch of 10 patriotic ornament sized dolls – my customers’ favorite size. They all sold in the time it took me to make dinner.

I thought Caden’s eye actually looked better on Thursday, but he was up early and crying because both eyes hurt, so I called as soon as I could to get him into the doctor. Of course we couldn’t get in until afternoon, so I was really angry at myself for not just calling on Wednesday instead of waiting it out. It’s frustrating to feel so in limbo with plans. I basically just let him play video games all day to contain his potentially contagious germs. Then the verdict at the doctor – allergies, definitely not pink eye. Which obviously makes sense because mine hit the same day he started feeling miserable. But the doctor also said cottonwood got bad this week – we saw some flying around at the dog park – so Caden is choosing to believe he has a cottonwood allergy instead of grass, like me.

I was ready for a break by Thursday evening, so as soon as Greg got home I left to see Rocketman in the theater. It was so good! And such a great little treat for myself. I plan on seeing a lot of nighttime movies in the theater this summer by myself. 🙂

Friday was also pretty uneventful. We were going to have lunch with my mom, but she wasn’t feeling well. So our only big event was walking to the library so I could pick up some books I had on hold. Shepard and Willow basically spent the entire day making batch after batch of slime. I mostly read. Caden mostly gamed. And then Greg took the boys to the pool for the night.

I finished my evening with a much needed yoga video. I started this book last weekend called Burnout which talks about the importance of dealing with your STRESS, not just your STRESSORS. It was such a mindblowing concept to me – thinking about actual stress that just sits in your body until you do something about it. Earlier this week I tried to eliminate some of my stress by taking Annie on as lot of walks. But then allergies. And bugs. (Why are there already so many bugs?!) So yoga was a great alternative – at least for me, not so much for Annie.

And that was the week! Not very exciting, not much fun. I genuinely don’t want the whole summer to go this way. So I’m going to try and get my act together and figure out what I need to do for myself to make my life better. I think a lot of my negative feelings this week have also been stressing about next week. It’s the big garage sale week. Which also means being outside every waking minute to work on it. (Maybe I should wear goggles?) And the first week of summer school. And Caden’s basketball camp. And Annie has a grooming appointment and I’ll need to run errands and Caden is going to another birthday party. (We have three birthday parties this weekend.) I’m feeling so overwhelmed, but also so tired and unmotivated. But I wanted to do the sale early in the summer to get it over with and not feel like this anymore. So I need to suck it up and power through. It’ll be worth it.

Saturday Reflections 06.01.2019

This last week of May was a little bit less crazy than the ones preceding it. Not by much! But enough to let me feel like I was starting to get control of my life again.

We spent Sunday gathering more things for the garage sale. I know that I really should be pricing things BEFORE they go out to the garage, but I can’t handle that extra step just yet. It seems that in three years at our house we’ve accumulated about a whole apartment’s worth of stuff we want to get rid of. We also want this to basically be the last garage sale we ever need to have. It’s such a big undertaking. But we’re pricing everything crazy cheap because we just want to get rid of it. Hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end! I can’t really say I’ve given it my FULL effort yet, but I’m doing a little bit every day. Last Sunday was my clothes. I collected four garbage bags full.

Monday was Memorial Day. We were still trying to recover from all the craziness, so we just had a low key day at home. We did walk down the street so the boys could be in the short parade Columbus puts on every year. It was a really nice little service.

Tuesday was our 13th anniversary! 13 still feels like such a small number. We’ve been together for 19.5! Practically our whole lives, it feels like.

I spent the day running a few errands and then the grandparents took the boys and we went on a nice date to Buck & Honey’s in Sun Prairie. We went all out with our drinks and meals. I think it’s pretty clear why we normally stick to cheaper and more informal restaurants lol. But it was a nice treat.

Shepard woke up with a fever and what was maybe, probably, a migraine on Wednesday morning, so he stayed home to rest. I gave him ibuprofen and took his temperature 45 minutes later and the fever was totally gone, so I’m not quite sure what was going on. He’s been coughing for almost five months, but it’s gotten a lot worse again this week, mostly at night. I’m sure his sleep has not been great. I wish I knew what to do. This seems to happen every winter/spring and the doctor always says it’ll just have to go away on its own. Five months is a LONG time. But I’ve also been coughing for months. Not as bad as him, but enough to be obnoxious.

Anyway, I spent a lot of the day working on things in the kitchen and then we met Caden after school and walked down to the farmer’s market again. I love how quickly it’s growing! There were two new cheese stands this week that we bought from. And the meat people remembered to bring spicy beef sticks and they had more chicken with them.

Greg got home from work and said he’d been feeling sick all day, so he went straight to bed. Kind of a bummer since I had an awesome rice bowl meal planned for dinner (he’s by far the biggest rice lover). I also made the salted, malted cookie dough ice cream I’d been planning for weeks. It turned out so good!

I also made some pickled jalapenos which Caden insisted on eating even though they were still boiling hot.

Greg took a sick day on Thursday. I know this is really hard for anybody to understand because it’s not like having my husband home doing his own thing in his own space is physically bothering or interrupting me. But, considering this was basically my last week of having time being home alone until September – and I only ended up getting ONE day – that I spent out running errands…it was hard for me to just accept that emotionally. I’m trying so hard to be okay with summer basically here and losing all semblance of solitude. I just wanted these last few days.

Anyway. I worked all day and finally finished up eight more patriotic dolls. My goal was to get these done and then I was going to give myself a break from doll making until school’s out. Maybe even until after the garage sale, though I think I might try to get a few more out this next week. We’ll see how I’m feeling. I needed to earn that break, though.

On Thursday night we went over to the pool to buy our summer passes and check out their open house. The pool officially opened today, but the weather is kind of crappy. Greg’s been gone most of the day, so I was going to take them but I’ve flaked out. Greg’s going to be back home soon for a two hour window, so he offered to take them then.

On Friday I wrote three blog posts. 🙂 And made this almond brittle salted ganache ice cream. I didn’t think I made the brittle correctly because it was SO sticky/chewy, but it tastes pretty good frozen in the ice cream. I like the cookie dough better, but this was still good.

I felt a lot more post-symptom sympathy for Greg’s mysterious illness when it hit me on Friday. It was weird. For me, I felt light-headed, but also like my heart was racing like crazy. It was the worst when I was walking around. I felt it in the morning at the dog park with Annie and then it felt SO much worse in the afternoon when we walked to the library’s summer reading program kick off. It was really hot by then and I didn’t even think I was going to make it home. I have no idea what it was – just some sort of random, mild virus? I spent the whole night reading. I mostly feel fine today, just tired.

I woke up early this morning (nobody except Caden is getting much sleep this week thanks to Shepard’s nonstop coughing) and went to the farmers market in Madison. It was a lot less crazy than the last time I went Mother’s Day weekend. But about halfway through the skies suddenly got really dark and it was thundering, so I sped through it. All I bought were two donuts for the boys, asparagus, and radishes. Then I ran a few errands before coming home and reading for most of the rest of the day. I did corral the boys into helping with garage sale prep for an hour. They spent the entire hour sorting out paper by color… SO helpful. 😛 All I managed to do in an hour was go through all of Shepard’s books. And Caden has more books than Shepard, so I still have that. Their rooms are SO messy. I’m hoping as a family we can power through and actually finish up with their bedrooms tomorrow.

That’s about it! Nothing terribly interesting or exciting, but still busy busy. Maybe we all needed to get randomly sick to force us to slow down for a little bit. I have to admit it’s been kind of nice doing almost nothing but read for the last 24 hours. I needed it. More later with my June goals! 🙂

Memorial Weekend Reflections and Intentions 05.26.2019

So I somehow thought this past week was going to be less busy than the week before. I was wrong. I continue to wallow in this state of disbelief over how busy the month of May has been. Every single night – again! Plus plenty of extra things going on during the day too. It’s so exhausting. But it’s almost over. Shockingly, my thoughts have turned and I think I’m actually excited about summer! At least life can’t continue to be THIS crazy, right?!

Last Sunday I was finally able to start the giveaway celebrating six years of doll making. I had around 400 entries and over 12,000 people saw the post. I don’t often pay much attention the stats – I just want to sell my dolls! But it’s cool to think about how many people glanced at this picture. The giveaway, plus an additional discount code on Friday and Saturday, helped make up for weeks of almost no sales. I just wish I could keep up that momentum all the time. My inventory is pretty low at the moment, so I won’t have any more weeks like this until I’m pushing out a lot more dolls.

The only other thing we did of note last Sunday was go on a family bike ride. I mention it because it’s the first time I’ve ridden my bike since I broke my ankle. I was proud of myself for being able to do. But even though we only biked about half an hour, it somehow messed up ankle up really bad. This has been an awful week, pain-wise. I’d say I’m hurting as bad as I did last summer. Which is honestly just really discouraging. Am I ever going to fully heal? The doctor last December didn’t sound that optimistic about it ever feeling better than it did then. And now it feels worse. The first few days I thought maybe it was a good idea to push myself in a different way. A full week later and the pain even worse, I’m thinking biking is no longer going to be part of my future. It sucks.

On Monday I took Annie to the dog park and then spent most of my day in the kitchen making biscuits from this new cookbook I got last month. They turned out amazing! I shouldn’t make them too often, though, because I wanted to eat them at every meal and for snacks in between. Definitely the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I also made aioli and bacon and jalapeno jam and roasted tomatoes to make the blt on the cover of the cookbook. Unfortunately, the biscuits were so delicate they couldn’t hold up to being a sandwich, so it didn’t work out. But everything was still delicious.

Shepard had a soccer game on Monday night. He decided at the last minute he wanted to bike to the park, which meant Greg, Annie, and I had to speed walk to try to keep him in sight. I think it was a big contributing factor to my pain levels this week. Annie was pretty tired too! The soccer game was a lot of fun, though.

Even though the cats LOVE to be by Caden, this is the first time Jack ever settled in on his lap, so he was pretty happy!

Tuesday I tried to get down to business and work as much as I could. Jack, my ever present daytime helper. He knows how much I love brushing cat hair off of everything and fighting to keep him from sneezing on my finished dolls.

This was new! When Jack woke up and realized Annie had snuck up to cuddle with him he moved on to the arm and fell back to sleep.

On Tuesday afternoon Shepard’s class did a poetry reading at the library. It was short and sweet. 🙂 Greg and his parents came to watch too. Nobody can ever say my kids aren’t surrounded by love and support! I think Greg’s parents came to Columbus SEVEN times this week for them. They are fully committed grandparents!

In the evening Caden had a choir/recorder concert. We ate at Culver’s first. The concert was definitely interesting with all those fresh band students. I’m not sure instruments are Caden’s thing, but he sure loved singing!

Posing with his recorder next to his art project.

On Wednesday the boys decided it was about time they started using the breakfast bar at breakfastime. So far they’ve been fully committed each morning!

I worked all morning and then met my friend Deja at the dog park for a playdate. I was able to sneak in a nap back at home after with my favorite nap buddy.

I met the boys on their walk home from school and we went over to the new farmer’s market. It’s not very big yet, but is getting a lot of buzz. The boys both picked out popcorn, fresh squeezed lemonade, and some hot stix. We’re hoping to get some more meat and plants from Shepard’s school’s booth this week. Hopefully we’ll make it a weekly tradition this summer to head over there and see what we can find.

Shepard had his last official soccer game on Wednesday night. It was intense! For a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds, I think they really learned how to work as a team over the month they were together. They still lost every game, but they really improved each time. The coach was amazing and it was a great experience for Shepard.

I was working up until the last minute before the game and was able to get this batch of dolls listed after. They turned out so cute! Patriotic colors, but only two of them were actually patriotic themed. They all sold by Saturday.

I somehow managed to push off my big errand day until Thursday! We normally can’t survive the week unless I go right away on Mondays. I was happy to finally have some Qdoba for lunch too.

Then I picked Shepard up from school early to get his staples removed. It was much less painful than getting them in, he said. Notice he’s wearing such long socks, though – on Wednesday when he was biking to soccer he took a tumble and has some awful bruising on one of his legs. He was just as self conscious of that as he was about his staples. On Sunday night he was crying for hours because he was so worried people would make fun of his head. I talked with his teacher and it ended up being okay. I know he told a couple of people himself, but I don’t think anyone made a big deal out of it. I was surprised at how upset he was when he’s normally purposely doing things to stand out – like with his fancy hair cut and wearing tank tops and shorts in 30 degree weather.

Thursday night the boys went to Grandma’s and Greg and I had an at home date night to celebrate the third anniversary of owning our house. I can’t believe how quickly those three years flew by!

Friday was a no photo day! I worked all morning, took a really long nap, and then basically had an emotional breakdown over how exhausted I am. And stressed out. And angry at myself for never getting enough done yet never having time to do the things I really want to do. May has been filled with so many fun things and great memories, but it’s also killing me. I can’t be this busy. I’m falling apart.

And then we had to go to the last soccer practice – a parents vs kids game. It rained all day so it was held in the gym, drastically shortening the field and making the game that much more intense. I didn’t play, but still managed to get my ankle kicked three times. It was really fun to watch, though. The kids got so aggressive playing against their parents! Caden and one of the other older brothers joined the kids team too and he was having a blast. It was close, but the parents finally let up enough to let the kids have a victory.

Yesterday Greg and the boys went to Cedar Lake with his parents and I stayed home to clean the house and get a bunch of food prepped. I somehow thought I was going to FINALLY have time to work on my writing class – the class I was determined to finish this month and haven’t even opened up one single time. But no, it did not happen. I was able to get a short nap in before Hudson, Timmy, and Brittany came over, though. We realized pretty quickly our house is almost toy-free, so we walked over to the school playground to wear off some energy. It was so hot out, though, so we didn’t last long. It was the first day that truly felt like summer. And even though I HATE summer weather, it was kind of a nice reminder of the fun days that DO happen only during the summer months.

We were reading some books and I wanted to take our required selfie, but he wasn’t that into it lol.

Timmy and Brittany wanted to take a nap and I noticed our neighbors were outside, so we went to join them for a toddler pool and popsicle party. Hudson wasn’t too sure about that for a long time either, but he finally got in the water and was having a great time by the time my boys came back home.

I made chicken tacos for dinner – basically my standard guest/party food since they always taste delicious, can be made ahead of time, and are easy crowd pleasers. I also made watermelon agua fresca! I’ve been obsessed with agua frescas since I had one in DC last fall, but they don’t seem to be a thing at Mexican restaurants around here. Now that I realize how easy they are to make, it might become a regular summer thing. I didn’t take a picture, but I also made edible chocolate chip and fluffernutter cookie doughs for dessert. The fluffernutter was SO GOOD.

We spent the rest of the evening outside, checking out all of the neighbors’ toys. 🙂

Hudson wondering why Caden thinks he needs to hold him down a two foot slide. Caden was loving it, though.

We were able to fit in one cousin pic before they had to leave. Such cuties!

Sunday Intentions

And that brings us to today! Another week. MAYBE a less busy one. After my meltdown on Friday I realized that I need to start forcing myself to make some work related boundaries again. I was so desperate to catch up on dolls after our vacation that I fell back into the habit of working every possible minute of the day and night, and stressing about it every time I was doing something else. I can’t live like that. Working at home is hard enough, I don’t need the added pressure of feeling like I need to spend my entire life sewing. So I actually stacked everything up and put it out of sight for the long weekend. It’s still in the back of my mind, but I want to get better about enjoying the time I have with my family. Seeing weekends the same way most people do.

Our only real plans for today and tomorrow are to start working on garage sale prep. Also something I really do not want to do AT ALL, but it needs to get done. And better to do it when Greg is home to help me. It’s a huge undertaking, but it’ll feel so good to get rid of all the crap we don’t want anymore.

Tomorrow the boys are going to walk in the short local parade. Well, Shepard wants to for sure, Caden can maybe be convinced. And that’s about it for the weekend! I’d also like to catch up on some reading, but…we’ll see.

Tuesday is our 13 year anniversary. We’re hoping to go on a date sometime this week, but nothing has officially been planned yet. I’m tired of making plans.

I think the boys have some school field trips and outdoor days this week. It seems like playing outside is almost all they do the last month of school – at least Shepard’s class. There’s also a pool open house…maybe Thursday? And the library program’s kick off is Friday. A lot of nighttime options this week, but nothing required.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I should spend my last six days home alone working my butt off, or totally relaxing and focusing on self care before the boys are home all the time and I’m losing my mind. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet. I think I might work to get this next batch of patriotic dolls finished up and then I’ll give myself whatever days are left off. Revel in my solitude before it’s gone.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday Reflections 05.18.2019

This week has been CRAZY. I don’t know how people survive when they have chaotic and busy evenings week after week, year after year. This one week of having something going on every single night just about broke me. Well, this week plus all the busy weeks before it and the busy weeks ahead. I can’t handle it. It’s been a really fun week with a lot of fun activities. But I miss my quiet and boring life so much. Why did things get so insane this spring?! When did we become a family that only seems to be home to eat together once a week? I don’t understand. I’m so tired and stressed out and I know May is like this for everyone, but it’s just TOO MUCH.

On Monday night, Shepard had a soccer game. Greg and I missed his first one last week when we were flying home, so it was fun to watch them this time. At what age do kids start getting GOOD at sports? Just curious. 🙂 Watching them play definitely made me really appreciate Shepard’s coach! I’D be crying if we had the other team’s coach. We play the same team each time since this is just a small little fun league. Afterward Shepard grabbed this free desk from the neighbor and immediately had to set it up perfectly.

Tuesday was Greg’s 35th birthday. I got my hair cut in the morning, so I had to take some selfies. It doesn’t look much different, but it curled better than it’s been curling for awhile. I wish hair wasn’t so much work. I mean, I could just put it up every day, and I will once it gets hot. But I HATE how it looks in photos. Fat head, no hair.

We had a little pocket of time between Greg getting home from work and going out to dinner, so he opened his presents. I think he liked them! Chocolates, legos, a rice cooker, Guster tickets, honey.

Don’t forget the sunflower seeds!

More selfies.

The boys wanted Greg to ride in back with them on the way to the restaurant.

We had dinner at Sake House in Beaver Dam with Greg’s parents. He didn’t want to go back to Madison with all the crazy construction that started up a few weeks ago. The meal was good, though! He got a pile of fried oreos for a dessert. Overall, it probably wasn’t the most exciting of birthdays, but I think he enjoyed it. Hopefully.

On Wednesday after school I brought the boys to the dentist. Always an ordeal because our dentist office is SO disorganized. It drives me crazy every time we go. They’re all friendly and everything, but the appointments seem to take three times longer than they should because they never have the right things in the rooms, they’re always trying to multitask beyond what’s reasonable, and it’s just so dang chaotic. The boys even went with separate hygienists this time and their cleanings still took an hour and a half! Then they both cried all the way home because they were STARVING TO DEATH and they can’t handle eating a minute past 5:00, EVER, no matter how weird our evening schedule might be. I was hoping dinner would magically be ready when we walked in the door, but Greg was mowing the lawn because it was crazy long and when else would he have had the chance?! TOO BUSY.

After I was done literally tossing food at the boys, I had a few minutes to whip up the butterbeer Greg requested for his birthday dessert. I think it turned out pretty good!

The tiny amount of work I managed to do the first half of this week. I’m so behind. So, so, so behind.

I’ve had my eye on this book for a few weeks, but my facebook book groups started reading it and obsessing about it, so I decided to order it for myself. Seemed like the best week of all to jump into it. I’ve only read the intro so far, but I’m hoping it’ll help me. Though really, just May being over will probably help a lot. Two more weeks. I’m both excited and dreading it with all my heart.

It was raining on Thursday morning, so rather than trying to haphazardly fit in some work, I just read and took a nice nap in preparation for spending most of the rest of the day in Milwaukee. I left after lunch and stopped at stores in Johnson Creek, Hartland, and a few places in Milwaukee. I had a restaurant all picked out for dinner and then I noticed a new place called Cantina Milwaukee: Taco and Tequila Bar. So of course I had to go there instead! I guess I’m on a mission to try every taco restaurant I ever see in every city I ever visit! I was surprised to see the restaurant was relatively empty too, so I had plenty of time for a relaxed taco meal. I picked sweet plantain with jalapeno crema, Caribbean pork with mango avocado salsa, and a Gochuchang Asian fried chicken taco. The chicken taco was one of the spiciest things I have ever eaten. I was dying. And I live on spicy food.

I still had a little time to kill, so I found a bench near the river and just relaxed for awhile. I kept expecting a storm to blow in, but I got lucky!

My purpose for being in Milwaukee was to see the Happier Podcast live show with Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft. Their podcast is one of the ones I’ve been listening to from the very beginning of my podcast obsession. I love it! It’s so positive and interesting and chock full of great tips for being happier. I was a little bummed I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, but the atmosphere of fans in the room was enough. I had so much fun!

The only downside to that trip – I couldn’t find my car afterward. I went to the exact spot I came out of a garage earlier, but the door was locked, so I had to find another entrance and it just messed me all up. I was seriously freaking out. But, I found it and made the long drive home.

I spent Friday morning working, FINALLY, and then I took a really long nap since I only got 4.5 hours of sleep the night before. I’m used to getting around 6 most days, which isn’t enough either, but 4.5 was pushing it! Then Greg took Shepard to soccer practice and I did some cleanup around the house. And then we all went to the school carnival. I had to check on my raffle baskets. They didn’t seem to have as many tickets as I was hoping. But hopefully whoever won them is very happy with all the goodies I put together! I think maybe one basket will be enough next year.

And finally today, the last in a long chain of busy, busy days. I went grocery shopping early and then to my goddaughter McKenna’s dance recital. I’ve never been to a recital before – it was so much fun! I loved all the colorful outfits! It made me really want to start going to all the local dance recitals filled with kids I actually know. It was a very lengthy event, though, and McKenna wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t get to see her afterward. Instead I had to go pick up some more cold groceries and head home.

Once at home I found out from Greg that I missed the police being here, asking about a string of car burglaries that have been going on in the area. So that was crazy. Then I tried to take a nap, but there was just too much going on. Right after I gave up, Shepard came running into the room crying and Greg took his hand away after a hug and saw he was covered in blood. So we rushed Shepard to the ER for a gash on his head and he ended up getting two staples. So now both of my kids have had staples in their heads. He was very brave, though, and got to pick out our dinner meal. He wanted Mod Pizza, but I seriously could not deal with leaving town again tonight, so we went with the local joint instead.

And now here we are. The week is done. FINALLY. Besides the boys – Caden especially – being pretty grouchy and difficult all week with the added pressure of needing to “be good” on Mother’s Day and Daddy’s birthday, it WAS a good week. I’m just really tired. And so behind on work and feeling very discouraged about ever being able to catch up with summer just two weeks away. And a garage sale two weeks after that with a MASSIVE load of work that will need to be done first. I just need to breathe.

Saturday Reflections 04.27.2019

I get daily emails from hope*writers with tips on focusing my writing. Today’s question was whether I want to be the kind of writer that writes for myself, or one that writes for others. I think this blog is pretty clear evidence that I mainly write for myself. I definitely appreciate those that read the bulk of my posts which are centered around my life and probably not that interesting to the masses. But then the end of the month rolls around and I desperately wish I had more readers to discuss books and tv and podcasts with me. And the occasional post where I pour my heart out on a topic that’s been weighing on me. The email I just received, however, told me that if I want it both ways I’m sure to be filled with disappointment in the long run. This is a tricky place to be, feeling called to write, but not sure how to find my direction or my audience for the things I truly want to write about. I’m curious to see if my attitude changes as I work through this direction course I’m doing. I wonder if the direction of my blog will start to change as well. It’s certainly something to mull over.

Anyway! It’s been a fast and fairly unexciting week around here. We had so many Easter leftovers that I decided to skip my regular errand running day, which turned out to be a good thing because I got a call from school that Shepard was sick. Apparently he was complaining about a headache, but it took them over two hours to call me about it. I have it written in all his health papers that if he ever says his head hurts he needs medicine and sleep IMMEDIATELY or he WILL throw up. But this is also the first time it’s ever happened at school, so whatever. He had so much sugar on Easter with almost nothing else, so I was not surprised in the least that it resulted in a migraine.

Even though it was migraine induced and therefore not contagious, because he did throw up at school (minutes before I picked him up – ugh!), he had to stay home on Tuesday too. He spent the day doing quiet activities while I worked like crazy. I thought it would be a great idea to organize all the dolls I want to make in the next month and then trace them all out and cut all the dresses, so I’d have a head start. Instead of feeling on top of the world over that choice, it just stressed me out SO MUCH. Because I really, really want to make these dolls in the next few weeks and I’m not so sure it’s logistically possible and I therefore just set myself up for failure. It also got me thinking about fifty other dolls I’d really love to make before the need for patriotic dolls hits (technically May is when everyone starts wanting them so I’m basically already behind). Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out on Tuesday. And really this whole week.

So of course instead of buckling down on Wednesday when both boys were back at school, I treated myself to a day of fun shopping! I went to all my favorite places and got some more things for my school raffle baskets (they’re going to be epic!). I also got a Starbucks coffee in the morning and Qdoba for a late lunch on my way back home. It was good to get out of the house and do something fun. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to just let go and enjoy anything. I need these occasional days away from it all.

I went to my last yoga class on Wednesday night. She said she was taking it easy on us, but I was shaking by the end! I’m glad I took the class, but I’m also glad it’s over. It was a good reminder of how amazing stretching and moving your body around really does feel. On those long sewing days I get so stiff and sore and yoga is basically the only solution. I just need to remember that!!

I spent almost all day Thursday at my sewing machine working on the doll making step I like the least before choosing the first set to start completing. Then the boys went with Grandma and Greg and I went on a date to Chili’s. It wasn’t really the most ideal time in the middle of a lot of eating out for other things and right before our vacation, but honestly, I’m sick of waiting for the ideal time for a date. It never comes. Everyone is getting busier and busier and ideal is a thing of the past. We had a gift card from a long time ago and I wanted to go out and use it!

I’m not sure if we’re the only ones, but Greg and I talk and connect like a million times more when we’re out of the house. Walks, hanging out at school functions, and especially on dates. When we don’t have all the distractions around us, we finally remember the other exists and have real conversations. It was great to get out. Unfortunately, another migraine hit Shepard on his way to Grandma’s and he slept almost straight through until Friday morning.

Friday was so chaotic and busy! Greg had a friend who drove cross country to go to a wedding and he stayed with us Friday night and will be back again Sunday afternoon. Greg took both Friday and Monday off of work to spend time with him. It’s something I was stressed about, so we were both working to get the house clean and ready for our very first houseguest. I also had like my fifth day in a row of starting to sew around 5am. My coughing is getting a little better, but now I’ve reverted back to my super early wake up times. I just can’t win!

Greg and Caden went to End Game with a few friends and I took Shepard to soccer practice. We were planning to go to a school science night, but I think everything that happened this week was really dragging Shepard down, so we ended up skipping it in favor of getting to Mod Pizza for a special dinner as soon as possible after soccer. Then we ran a few errands that will hopefully eliminate my need to leave town for anything else before our Colorado trip. It was a pretty late night. Not a great idea in retrospect because today Shepard is coughing almost as bad as he was a month and a half ago and he seems to have developed into a major cold overnight. But…it was a fun time together. I like hanging out with him out of the house too. He’s probably my best date because he’s always up for anything!

And back to today! I got VERY little sleep, got an impromptu breakfast ready for our guest, and then took Annie to the dog park for a long time. She’s been fairly neglected this week and it was showing! Then the four of us went to see End Game. It was good! I pretty uncomfortable for the entire last hour with a coffee filled bladder, and was getting pretty irritated by Shepard’s sniffling and refusal to even try to blow his nose, but the movie itself was really great! When we got back home Shepard and I both took naps. I was originally planning on getting a lot of sewing done today, but…I just don’t want to. 🙂

That’s it for this week! Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow, but then nothing else until we’re back from Colorado!