Weekend Reflections and Intentions 09.15.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Intentions

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 09.08.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Intentions

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

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

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

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

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

Monday – Rotisserie Chicken from Costco and Roasted Vegetables

Tuesday – Jamaican Jerk Chili (without the beans)

Wednesday – Spicy Peanut Noodles with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken

Thursday – Cheddarwursts/Leftovers

Friday – Jalapeno Popper Pretzel Crust Pizza

Have a good week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to the end of summer!

Saturday Reflections 08.24.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early August Festivities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg saying goodbye to Hudson. ūüôĀ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 07.28.2019

It’s been another really busy week with a lot of highs and lows. Also another week that felt really balanced between laid back at home work days and out and about memory making days. That’s one thing I really like about summer – the ability to try and balance it all out most of the time. Of course that can get overwhelming too, when I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. But I think the boys are having a pretty good summer and that’s what it’s all about it.

I was up early last Sunday and spent an hour or two finishing up some sewing room organization I started weeks ago. I’ve been really getting into being more creative with my doll hair – blending a lot more colors and textures for a look that’s unique to my artistry. But more options means more yarn – a lot more yarn! – so I had to do a bunch of rearranging to make room for it all. I love it!

We spent most of Sunday at a family reunion near Milwaukee. It was at such a pretty park, filled with trees, a huge pond, and walking paths. We brought Annie with us and it was a fun day talking to relatives we haven’t seen in awhile! We were also able to connect with Melissa for a little bit and give her some birthday presents. Even though I was DEAD TIRED by the time we got home, I went out and ran all my errands for the week, sneaking by without needing to take the boys with me once again! I’m getting very good at it this summer! Though it did occur to me that they’re probably old enough I could just leave them home and run out by myself during the day. But I’m not so sure I trust them together for more than a very short amount of time. Next summer, hopefully.

Monday was a big work day, finishing up a custom order Anne of Green Gables and Diana set an internet friend asked me to make. She sent me a whole list of literary themed dolls she’d like to see me make in the future. That’s not really the direction I’d like to go with my dolls in general, but I’m contemplating it!

On Tuesday morning we had a park playdate with a friend and her kids. The weather was so beautiful! We decided to bike there. Only my second bike ride since my broken ankle and I survived it! When I tried in May it took me a full two weeks to stop feeling the pain. Maybe it just wasn’t as rigorous of a ride this time, but maybe I’m also still hopefully getting stronger! I brought a batch of scones and she brought a box of donuts and we all had a really good time!

On Tuesday night we had a big date! Guster was in Milwaukee again (they seem to ALWAYS be touring since we seem to see at least one concert a year!) and I gave Greg tickets for his birthday. I let him pick the restaurant too because I always pick. He went with a pizza place a block or two away. We didn’t have to wait and were seated around the pizza oven where we could watch the chefs make the pizzas. It was fun and really delicious!

The traffic was terrible, so we thought the whole thing would be rushed, but we ended up with plenty of time to just chill in the theater before it started.

The concert was great! My only complaint is that this is the first Guster concert we went to where people stood up for the whole thing. I am adamantly against standing concerts! My feet were so sore from standing up all day on Sunday at the reunion, so I sat down during songs I didn’t know as well. I could still see between the bodies. ūüôā It was a late night, but a really fun one!

Wednesday was kind of a bummer day because I got an ingrown toenail removed. I’m embarrassed to say it’s the same toenail that I visited the podiatrist for an entire year ago. At the time we decided to wait it out and hoped it would get better. It was infected for a very, very long time, to the point I was too embarrassed to bring it up again. But I finally had enough when the infection went away and it was very clear it wasn’t going to fix itself. I assumed the procedure would be fast and easy and wasn’t prepared for how much the numbing agent they shot into my toe was going to hurt! Shepard wanted to be in the room with me to watch, so he was getting a kick out of my cringing and wrenching away from the pain. Ouch. But then it all went fine and I’ve just been trying to take it easy the last couple of days.

Thursday was split between sewing and cleaning and prepping food for my party on Friday.

And Friday night I had a taco party! I’m not sure the emotional turmoil over planning a party is worth it for me in the end. I can’t stand putting myself out there knowing I’m going to feel rejected when people can’t, or don’t want to, come. Plus the pressure of cleaning the house when nobody else wants to help me out with it. So much anxiety. But it turned out to be a really nice time. Because I messed up which days she was visiting Wisconsin, my friend Dianne was in town for it. And a couple other friends came and some of their kids. We had way too much food, but it was a perfect amount of people and a really nice way to relax and enjoy each other’s company on a summer Friday night.

I spent Saturday finishing up eight dog and cat themed dolls. They were a hit and seven of them sold within three minutes of listing! The eighth sold a few hours later. It’s always so validating when they sell quickly! But it also really adds on the pressure to make more STAT. Greg and the boys were gone for most of the day, so it was just nice to have the house to myself finally, so I was able to read and take a nap after they were finished.

And today has been pretty lazy! I only went out to have lunch with Dianne before she flew home. I have a few things I’d still like to get done today, but I have a feeling it’s not going to happen. I’m so tired!

Sunday Intentions

Well, this is the week all the fun stuff really picks up. Monday and Tuesday are free – I need to do some household things and hopefully finish two more dolls I started this morning. But then on Wednesday Greg and I are going on a two night getaway to one of our favorite places. I’m looking forward to lots of time to just read and relax! Then next weekend my brother and his family will be in town and we’re keeping the days open to spend time with them. And later that next week I’m off to Book Bonanza!

My intention for the week is to try and stop letting my emotions rule my life. Sometimes I really hate how deeply and intensely I feel EVERYTHING. Nothing rolls of my back, nothing is ever forgotten. I’m not the greatest at actually expressing my emotions, but they overrule my thoughts and really dictate whether I’m going to have a good day or bad. I want to have good days. But summer is a trying time.

That’s about it! Have a great week!

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. ūüôā

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.