Weekend Reflections and Intentions 01.13.2019

Despite my highest hopes, this last week went nowhere near as smoothly and joyfully as the week before. Mostly due to circumstances beyond my control, but…nonetheless, it’s been a pretty crappy week.

On Monday it was pouring, but I also really, really needed to run errands. I did them as quickly as possible in the midst of a horrible headache. Then I spent most of the day doing various food prep and trying to get a bit of work done. I felt so disjointed and frustrated for once again expecting too much ofย  myself and not living up to my own ridiculously high standards.

Monday night brought the terrible news that my uncle had been found dead in his apartment. I won’t divulge all the details, but cause of death is still unknown. He was very reserved and had really isolated himself from the rest of the family for over a year. We’ve all been in varying degrees of shock and grief as we try to deal with everything. My uncle didn’t have a significant other or any kids, so the bulk of taking care of everything he left behind has fallen on my mom and my remaining uncle and a few cousins. It’s an undertaking that nobody was prepared to deal with. But, it needs to be done.

That clearly set the tone for the rest of my week. I wasn’t sure if my help would be needed for anything, so I cancelled my Tuesday morning friend date and my Thursday craft night. I kind of went into a shell and just didn’t really want to interact with anybody. I barely knew my uncle, but it’s still so hard to realize he’s gone, and with it any opportunity TO know him.

Despite being in such a little pit of sadness, I tried to keep busy working and taking time to read and rest on Wednesday. On Thursday I felt like I desperately needed to get out of the house and do something – anything – so I went to Walmart and just wandered around for over an hour and then stopped at a new coffee shop for a treat before heading back home to work some more.

Adding a bit to Thursday’s sadness, I was getting instagram bombardment of the start of that craft retreat I was supposed to be at. The AMAZING craft retreat at The Whatever Craft House in Kansas. The one I had my ticket to and then had to beg to be let out of once I realized my maker friend bailed on me and I didn’t want to do the 12 hour drives there and back by myself in unpredictable winter weather. I know in the end it was probably best I didn’t go. But it was pretty hard seeing everyone’s awesome photos and everything I was missing. I wish it could have worked out for me.

Friday morning brought a spark of joy when I got the email that my 23andme results were ready! I’ll maybe do a full post on this at a later date, but it was really exciting to see everything they could find out from my vial of spit! The ancestry reports were not much of a surprise since my mom’s side of the family has always kept extremely detailed records going back hundreds of years. But I loved that I could look even further in depth to see exactly which areas of the countries my ancestors were from. My Irish ancestors were from all over, but most heavily in the areas that I’ve visited myself AND were my favorite part of the country. My English ancestors are only from London, so I think I definitely need to add that to my travel bucket list. My German ancestors were from the northernmost regions. I didn’t get that far north in my high school trip to Germany, so I’ll have to go back there too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, it was just really cool to see. And since my sister-in-law took the test last summer, I was able to combine my ancestry reports with hers so I can now give the boys definitive numbers on their own ethnicities. It has definitely gotten pretty muddy by their generation, but they are still predominantly 40% Irish/English, which is cool.

Knowing I really just needed to get out of the house, I kept my plans to go to lunch with my friend Laura. I worked in the morning and then she picked me up and we tried this new place called Full Mile in Sun Prairie. It was such a nice place! And really great to just have a chance to hang out with a friend. I desperately needed it. We prolonged our outing by getting Starbucks afterward and then shopping through Menard’s (lol).

I spent Saturday helping my parents, uncle, and two cousins start the work of clearing out my uncle’s apartment and looking for important paperwork that will help everything from now on go more smoothly. Honestly, it’s a task that’s probably going to take weeks. SO MUCH WORK. We all put in a full day and then went back again this morning. I bowed out after a couple of hours today. It’s overwhelming. My mom and uncle will continue to work all week while everyone else chips in between their jobs and families. I have another cousin flying in on Wednesday to help too. I hope for everyone’s sakes it starts picking up speed and can be completed earlier than expected. I think we made a lot of progress this weekend, but there is still a lot to go.

Sunday Intentions

Moving ahead to this week. I really need to get some work done. January is just flying by and I’ve not been as productive as I had hoped to be! I have eight dolls that are half done, so I’m hoping I can complete them by Tuesday afternoon. I also need to run a few errands tomorrow, but I was apparently very overzealous in my shopping last week as we still have a pretty full fridge! I should try and get some walks in with Annie too. I’ve been neglecting her (and my whole family). Actually, we did walk to school last Wednesday and Thursday since there wasn’t any ice and it felt SO GOOD. I think I’d be pretty happy if we just continue on with this almost snowless winter. It sure makes my life easier!

It sounds like Wednesday night as much family as available will be gathering for a dinner somewhere. The one good thing about a death in the family is that it brings everyone else closer. I’m kind of ashamed of how rarely I see my cousins that only live half an hour away from me. Not counting this weekend, it’s been an entire year and a half since we’ve been together. We’re all so busy. But maybe from now on we’ll try harder?

On Thursday, Greg and I are celebrating 19 years of being together. (We keep celebrating this since we were together 6.5 years before we got married, so this original anniversary still feels very significant!) We usually go on a fancy date every January, but this year I happened to see an awesome groupon deal, so we’re going on a little one night getaway. I do feel a bit bad going in the middle of everything that’s happening. But…it’s already paid for and everything and I think Greg and I need the little break from reality. The boys and Annie will have a sleepover that night at Grandma’s and then hang out at her house until we come back Friday, as there’s no school.

And I expect next weekend might be more family or apartment cleaning stuff. I’m leaving it open if I’m needed.

Anyway, that’s about it! A lot of unexpected emotions swirling around these last few days. But I’m trying to keep busy if that’s what it seems like I need or take breaks if that’s what I seem to need. I’m trying to keep my schedule pretty loose and flexible. It feels much better to help out when I’m needed, than to stick to some pre planned agenda. I think I need to work on being better about that in general.

Have a good week!

Saturday Reflections 01.05.2019

Happy Saturday! I’m sure it has a bit to do with my absolute enthusiasm about getting back into a regular routine after what felt like the longest ever winter break, but this past three day “week” has been AMAZING. I’ve never felt so balanced and on top of my life. Can it last?! My pessimistic nature is telling me no way. But I’m feeling like maybe, just maybe, it can. If I learn from these fragile routines I’m beginning to establish and try to live my life this way every single day….things could be really, really good.

Somehow over winter break I managed to reset my sleep schedule and I think it’s really helping me stay a lot more positive. For all of November and December I was getting a max of five hours of sleep a night, usually waking up between 3 and 4, and despite my best efforts I could rarely fall asleep at my usual afternoon nap time either. No explanation for either, but it sucked big time. Suddenly after Christmas I was getting at least seven, sometimes even close to eight hours a night! Plus a good nap on the days I choose to take one. Maybe that’s contributing to me suddenly feeling like I’m on top of my life. The only downside is that I’m not waking up with any of my coveted morning quiet time, or the chance to shower and get ready before the boys are off to school. A lot of the time it’s not a huge deal, but I do really prefer feeling fully ready for the day by the time I need to leave the house with them. At least in winter, giant coats and hats and scarves can disguise how gross I must look!

On Wednesday morning Greg stayed home a bit later because it had snowed some more overnight and then he took the boys to school. I ran out later in the morning to do some desperately needed grocery shopping.

On Thursday and Friday morning I started the day at the dog park. I love being there on a winter morning – when it’s not super cold. It feels so invigorating and inspiring. Annie was LOVING having more outdoor exploring time. I did a pretty bad job at keeping her exercised over break.

I worked for a few hours each on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, today. I think the biggest positive change I’ve made on that side of life is accepting that I’ll get done as much as I get done in those hours and it just needs to be okay. I spend SO much time berating myself for not getting as much done as I think I should have. And I’m sick of it! I’m sick of constantly beating myself up for some sort of unimportant standard that I only put on myself. I like just working for four straight hours, doing my best work, and calling it a day, moving on to something else that needs to get done. I’m not sure I can keep up with this mindset as the pressure for producing as much as possible, as often as possible, gets so intense around the upcoming holidays. But I’m really going to try. It makes me much happier and it keeps me a better artist and business owner.

I think the greatest thing about this week is that I’ve given myself so much down time. As much as I love the simplicity of my Keurig, I’ve really gotten into pourover coffee lately and the 5-10 minute process of waiting for my water to reach a perfect temperature and then slowly pouring it over the ground beans again and again and again until I have the right amount for my cup. I always drink my coffee in the afternoons since I have no problems feeling awake and energized in the mornings. It’s been providing a great transition for me from work day and me time into family time/dinnertime. This particular kind of coffee – Sweetheart Blend from Barnie’s – is literally the best at home coffee I’ve ever had. It’s seriously amazing. If you love chocolate and cherries and sweetly flavored coffees.

The other great thing about this week – BOOKS. Great books! Life giving books. NONFICTION books. When do I ever say that?! With my renewed vigor to read the books I already own this year, I’ve jumped back into many of the books I haven’t given much attention to in the past couple of months. I’m also determined to read all the books I’ve gotten as gifts or bought for myself in the last month as top priority. They’re really great. I’ve also been listening to an audiobook all day that is basically the best and most entertaining self help type book I’ve ever read. I’m dying to finish it so I can write about it. Basically, I’ve been spending the entire evening for the last three, or more, days just in my big chair reading. Which also means I’m totally ignoring my family, which isn’t so great. I mean, they’re busy doing their guy things, video game things, in the other room. We did attempt playing Spoons this afternoon, which ended with both boys screaming and throwing their cards and the spoons around the room because they are the biggest sore losers OF ALL TIME. We have so many board games, but can never play any of them because it always ends in the exact same way.

The only real downside to this week is that I’ve been so excited about eating delicious food again that the scale is slowly sliding back up, instead of down the way it’s supposed to be this month. Case in point – I made this DILL PICKLE BACON PIZZA for dinner last night. It was amazing. I’ve been so sick of my homemade pizza for months and months and months, that I rarely even eat it anymore. Shepard is so demanding about his flavor choices – he hates pepperoni pizza, or anything traditional. He usually just wants bbq week after week after week. That used to be my favorite kind of pizza too, but we’ve overdone it. Making something totally new and salty and filled with fun and bursting flavors just really brought me so much joy. Which is good for my head! But not good for everything else! The candy is still overflowing in the house and my cravings are out of control. Counting calories is what really kicked me into gear two months ago, but I really, really don’t want to resort to that again. I might have to.

Overall, it’s been a pretty great week and start to the year. It’s helped that I haven’t had to leave the house or really DO anything this week, besides get aย  few groceries. It’s also proving to be quite liberating, with this no excess spending month. I haven’t been wasting a ridiculous amount of time looking at online sales because I know I don’t have the option this month to buy anything. It’s been making me appreciate the things I have more too – like all my amazing books I can’t wait to read. We finished taking down the trees and getting all the Christmas stuff put away this morning. The sun has been shining, the weather is getting warmer, and the house – at least the part of the house I spend all my time in – is so beautiful and clean and inviting. I’m happy this week. And it’s been wonderful.

Christmas Crazy

Merry Christmas!

The last five days have been such a whirlwind of holiday festivities for us! We’ve been jam packed with family get togethers, lots of quality time, and way too much delicious food.

Friday was my dad’s birthday and the last half day of school before break. I spent the morning running around doing cleanup and then Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson came over! We haven’t seen them since Halloween, which felt like forever. Hudson was in such a smiley and fun mood the whole night!

We all had some Christmas coffee to try and wake up. Shepard was wearing his brand new long underwear, which he’s pretty much been wearing for the last six straight days. I did wash them once in the middle of that span… Two more pairs will be delivered tomorrow, since apparently long underwear is the coolest thing ever!

Getting our selfie in!

Hudson and Annie were pretty much glued to each other’s sides the entire night. They were both fascinated with each other. It was pretty hilarious!

The point of the get together was to celebrate my dad’s birthday, though we weren’t sure he’d be able to even make it. But he switched for a Columbus route and was able to come over during his 30 minute break. I think we set a record for world’s fastest birthday party! We ordered pizzas from a local place, I had Caesar salad and garlic bread made, and we had a giant chocolate Costco cake for dessert. It was a really fun night!

On Saturday morning we had our family Christmas. It was definitely a rocky start because one child did not want to stop playing video games. But we eventually got them in the room and they noticed their new bikes, which we made no attempt to wrap! Both were a little bit too big. I’m not sure Caden will be able to ride his at all yet. We realized later that Shepard’s bike was actually broken and couldn’t be ridden at all. ๐Ÿ™ It was damaged in the mail, but we Greg didn’t realize until after he had built it and Shepard actually got on it.

Anyway, once everyone settled down, it was a nice morning. The favorite gift was definitely the shared hoverboard. We decided to go with only getting one and having them share, though it’s caused a ridiculous amount of fighting since then. They’re so expensive, though! Plus – bikes. Greg gave me a new end table to go next to my reading chair, a book, a candle, two pairs of earrings, and a couple of Willow Tree figurines from the boys. Oh, and an upholstery cleaner! (lol)

Mid afternoon Greg’s family came over for the night. We just hung out and everybody took turns cuddling under Caden’s new weighted blanket.

Shepard had to show off his hoverboarding multitasking skills. We had Italian roast beef sandwiches for dinner, but also snacked all afternoon on a big cheese tray, veggies and curry dip, and chips and salsa.

On Sunday morning we headed to the big extended family party on Greg’s side. Shepard continued to have epic tantrums every day for one reason or another. I assume they were born from him just not feeling the greatest with a long lasting cold. But still – so annoying to deal with. Besides hoverboard fighting, Caden was shockingly really great the entire week!

Chilling out during the party.

Looking a bit tired!

After the party we took Shepard to Walmart so he could pick out a new bike, again. They didn’t have the same one in stock, but he liked this one more because it was so shiny. It was already built (hallelujah!) and he got to walk it through the whole store and out to the car. Every single person we passed commented on how cool it was and told him merry Christmas. I’ve never seen so many nice people at Walmart!

Greg spent the rest of Sunday playing board games with his family and I took the boys back home for some down time.

Christmas Eve is our biggest day. We got going as early as we could and went to Greg’s parents’ house first. I didn’t really take any pictures besides this one. But we had a big breakfast and then opened all our gifts. The big exciting gift that the boys got to open was our trip to Universal and Harry Potter World in February! Greg’s parents are taking the six of us over Shepard’s birthday weekend/week (because they’ll miss the least amount of school in that time frame, not necessarily because it’s his birthday). I’m so glad they finally know about it so we can talk openly! They were both super excited and immediately started going through the guidebooks to pick out places to eat and rides to go on.

After things died down, I went back home to just sit and chill for an hour. It’s hard to be around people nonstop, even when nothing is going wrong. I also had to get Annie since she couldn’t stay locked up all day. While I was home Greg’s new glasses finally arrived! I brought them back with me and then we had to take another selfie with his new look. He hasn’t really adjusted to them yet.

We ate A LOT of food while we were waiting for my dad to get home to open presents. Gracie was being very protective of my mom and her food!

It was pretty chaotic and crazy once the present opening started. Hudson only lasted a few minutes and then went up to bed. I didn’t take any photos besides this one. But it was a really great day!

Back at home Greg got the boys to bed and Santa came! We have about the world’s biggest stockings, but I still can’t get all the presents into them.

Everyone got up around 7 on Christmas morning – even Greg! We took our time opening our stockings and the boys’ gifts. Santa mostly brought books and board games, but also karaoke microphones and saucer chairs that are supposed to be in their rooms, but they are both using as gaming chairs right in front of the tv.

Annie took it upon herself to finish Santa’s cookies. Jack had to come running to see what she was getting that he wasn’t. He drank Santa’s milk the night before and immediately threw it up everywhere. It was only like five drops, but he is apparently EXTREMELY lactose intolerant!

We hung out at home for a few hours and then went to see Greg’s family for a bit and then mine. It had snowed overnight – an unexpected white Christmas! And Hudson just got new boots from his other grandparents, so he was outside checking out the snow when we got there. Such a wonderful smile!

We had a repeat table full of delicious snacks and then hung out and soaked up our last few hours with Hudson.

And we finally went back home around 4:00 to settle in for the rest of the night. Shepard immediately went to work weaving bracelets together. He also learned how to finger knit on Friday and made himself a gigantic purple “scarf” that he wore all weekend.

I finished up the Christmas night snuggled on the futon with Rory next to me and Annie below me and a pile of books at my side. It was a really nice Christmas and I’m so glad that everyone was able to travel to be there, completing the families on both sides this year. But I do sometimes wish the days could be a bit more laid back with a lot more relaxing and comfy clothes and no responsibilities. I guess that’s what the rest of the week is for!

I hope everyone else had a very wonderful Christmas as well!

Saturday Reflections 12.15.2018

It’s been kind of a weird week. An emotional, purposeless, lazy, floundering type of week. Originally I planned on spending the week working, trying to fit in as many last minute dolls as possible. But when I finished a batch on Sunday morning, after feeling so stressed out by them, I decided I was done. Which was good for me, I think, except that when I don’t have a batch of dolls going I often don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m not bored, per se, there is always something to do! But I feel like I’m lacking in my biggest sense of purpose and it’s really disconcerting. Especially when I don’t have any other major things on my plate begging for my attention. It’s so rare to have a week like that, but this was one.

Annie had a grooming appointment on Monday morning. While she was there I stopped in at my favorite thrift store hoping to find some green spined books. In my facebook book club lots of people have been posting pictures of “book trees” that they make with a pile of green books and a string of lights. I really wanted to make one too, but realized I have almost no green books. I really hit the jackpot at the thrift store, though, because not only did they have a ton of green books – they had a ton of OLD green books. Even in a variety of sizes! There were so many options that I didn’t even look at newer books, just gathered up a bunch of old ones. I really like how it turned out! Though I am regretting not getting a few brown ones for a stump. I might have to add to my collection over the next year.

My main goal for Monday was to finish all my wrapping, but I ended up being so busy that day running around that I only had about thirty minutes before the boys got home to do it. So every day was a wrapping day. I finally finished up this morning. Though technically there are still three very large things in the basement I can’t carry up and down by myself, so they still need to be wrapped. We are also giving the boys new bikes, which have been at Greg’s parents’ house for three weeks and still need to be put together and transported to our house and hidden, somehow. That’s Greg’s one and only present related job.

Tuesday was my errand day, though I chose to make it a bit more special and checked out a restaurant I just recently heard of called Manna Cafe and Bakery instead of my usual Chipotle or Qdoba lunch. The place was packed and the ordering process was kind of confusing (a big reason I don’t like to go to new places because I hate feeling stupid and unsure of protocols), but the latte I got was delicious and the sandwich I took and ate in my car (no tables) was really good too. I definitely want to go back someday, not by myself. Because I was only a few miles from the capital, I ended up going to the square and checking out a store I’ve been wanting to see, Fromagination. I didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to do something spontaneous! I was really wishing I had time (and energy!) to walk down State Street and go to all my favorite stores there, but I was in a 25 minute parking spot and didn’t feel up to looking for a new one. It was fun to treat myself to something more than just my usual three store errand run, though.

Wednesday was the big day. The doctor’s appointment I’ve been dreading for the last five months. Worrying about this definitely contributed to a lot of my unease and stress the first half of the week. It’s been weighing on me pretty heavily the last couple of weeks when the possibility of another surgery was looming over everything. But, great news – the bone has healed! The gap that was there in July has fused back together and officially, I am healed. The not so great news is that we talked about the problems I’m still having, specifically walking on uneven ground and walking down stairs like a normal person, and the doctor said that I might just be as good as I’ll ever be again. My upward foot motion is only at about 25% that of my good ankle. He said that pushing it might eventually result in a joint breakthrough and it’ll get better, but because my sprain was so bad, it might not get any better than it is now. Which kind of sucks. But, no surgery was good news.

Casting a huge shadow over that day, and the rest of the week, though, was Greg’s unhappiness with a gift I decided to give him early. A gift I bought in September and was originally very excited about because it involved us doing something special together and having a mini vacation to look forward to. Unfortunately, the gift was only met with stress and annoyance that we’ll have to drive 15 hours in February when the weather is completely unpredictable. There’s nothing I can do to return those tickets, so we’re stuck taking this trip or we’re out the money I spent if the weather is bad. Which I knew was a possibility from the get go, but I was hoping it would all work out. But his reaction definitely left me wishing I had just never gone through with it. Sometimes experience gifts are not all they’re cracked up to be.

Anyway! Because Caden happened to wear a relatively nice shirt to school on Wednesday and because I actually curled my hair and put on real clothes for my appointment, we decided to take a Christmas card picture right after school. I’ve had this on our weekend agenda for weeks, but weekends now apparently make me EXTREMELY lazy and I just didn’t feel like fighting with everyone for a photo. But we were running out of time and I decided that it definitely was something I wanted to push for, so we did it. As fast as possible. And it was kind of crazy. But I think it worked out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Above is one of our “best” outtakes.

Another super annoying thing about this week. My wake up time has become even earlier every day. This week, I’ve woken up around 3:45 or 4 every single day. And I absolutely can’t go back to sleep. I hate it! I like to be up earlyย  and before everyone else, but not that early!! So having a nap time has become an even bigger priority, even though it doesn’t actually happen half the time I try for one.

Thursday was a mix of more wrapping and reading. I joined a facebook 25 in 5 readathon, so I gathered up the stack of books I wanted to go through. Those top three Christmas books were in a special surprise book box I had ordered for myself.

In the afternoon I decided to spontaneously get my haircut at a new salon in town. It was speedy fast and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I basically never, ever like my hair, so whatever. At least the ends are fresh and it holds a curl better!

Friday is when I started getting real lazy! Basically, I read all day and night. And for two hours in the middle of the day I met my friends for a lunch, which was really fun! Good to catch up with people again. It was so much fun we’re possibly doing it again on Monday (lol)! On Friday night we did watch the original Tobey Maguire Spiderman, because the males in my house are apparently obsessed with all things Spiderman right now. And that used to be one of my favorite movies.

And today? Reading. More reading. I did make banana bread at 5:00 this morning first, though. I almost teared up it felt so good to bake something. I’ve been denying myself the option to bake ever since I started trying to lose weight. Which also, by the way, not going the best. I mean, I hit my lowest point again this week, down 10.6 pounds. But temptations are really starting to set in. I’m worried about getting through Christmas. I don’t want to stress out about it. But I don’t want to completely lose my motivation to be good, either. I’m not so great at middle ground, though. I have an even harder time making the right choices when my family is home and they’re about to be home with me for about two straight weeks. I’m worried.

Anyway, that has been the week! I’m getting much more excited about this upcoming week with a lot of festivities starting up, and little get togethers in the works. I think I’ll feel better about my lack of dolls to work on when I have so many other things to prep for. But more on all that tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 12.09.2018

What a week! I am EXHAUSTED. It was a really great week, but I feel seriously hungover and depleted today. December is flying by and oh so busy. Last week was a lot of fun, but I’m hoping life in general gets a bit less chaotic these last few weeks of the year.

Shepard got his glasses a few days early on Tuesday! He’s adjusted to them remarkably well. I thought it would be a pain getting him to wear them all the time, but he’s taken responsibility for them like a pro. He cleans them twice a day, picked out a couple different cases to keep in different spots if he needs to take them off, and has generally just happily accepted them as part of his life now. I think he looks adorable in them!

We had a great family night on Tuesday, making perler bead ornaments that Twinkle (the elf) brought us. I never got around to buying us family ornaments this year, but I like these even better.

Trying to be festive, I bought a bag of chestnuts and we roasted them while we worked. The internet told me they had to be peeled while they were still hot, so I proceeded to burn the pads off all ten of my fingers getting the shells off. I legitimately burned all my fingers and it’s caused me quite a lot of issues trying to do EVERYTHING else this week. So annoying! And I thought they tasted disgusting. A few people have told me since that I probably should have roasted them longer than the directions told me, but I have a hard time believing I would have liked them at any level of roasting. Ick.

On Wednesday there was a scheduled late start and I spent the whole day prepping the house for my Favorite Things party. I should have been working on it earlier in the week, but I was too distracted trying to wrap presents. Even though I did most of the decorating weeks ago, the house was finally clean enough to take pictures of it!

Our main advent calendar. Greg gave this to me the first year we were married, I think. It’s held up pretty well! I’ve gotten pretty lazy the last two years and mostly just stuff it with different kinds of Andes candies because they fit the best.

The family room at its cleanest. You can see part of the twinkling white lights Greg and Shepard strung up around the entire room.

Our little skinny tree that brings more festive cheer to the room most of the family spends the majority of their time in.

One of my favorite Christmas candles to light because I love the cinnamon buttercream scent and woodwick fireplace noises. Unfortunately, two minutes before my party was supposed to start this candle set off the carbon monoxide alarm above it. I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently it is? And because it was carbon monoxide instead of smoke it took me ages to get it to shut off. Fortunately nobody was at the party when it was supposed to start, so nobody had to know! ๐Ÿ˜€

Still my favorite little part of the house. So happy, especially when I light the fireplace candles. I love all the stockings and the nativity my grandma painted for me.

And my reading corner. LOVE.

My contribution to the party was my big cheese tray. So yummy.

I wrote more about the party the other day, so I won’t rehash it again. But it was so much fun! Annie also loved being in the thick of everything. She was so wiped out by the end that she fell asleep on my friend’s feet!

Thursday was St. Nick’s Day. Greg got mad at me for going too overboard last year, so I tried to reign it in a bit this year. I know it still looks like a lot, but I promise it wasn’t. Everybody got a bag of their favorite candy and a book and the boys each got a box of poptarts and a slap bracelet. The whole family got a new board game and a Christmas puzzle to encourage more family time.

The cats got bags of treats which they apparently are now crazy excited about and kept obsessing over all day Friday. They don’t normally get treats, but now they act like they’re starving to death. Annie too this week. I don’t think she likes the food she has because she almost never eats it, but has been finding tons of naughty ways to sneak people food. She’s really been pretty hyper this whole week. We’ve gone to the dog park every day, but she is crazy wild again by afternoon. It’s kind of frustrating. It’s going to be a long winter.

Greg had an eye appointment on Friday morning and got news that he needs glasses too. He refused to buy them at the huge office markup and ordered a pair online for $35… We’ll see how that goes. Caden is feeling pretty left out and wishes he had glasses now too.

The boys had a sleepover at Grandma’s on Friday night and we had our annual Madison Christmasy date night. It was pretty chilly, though, so we didn’t walk around State Street the way we usually do. Because of lack of non-event parking, we ended up at Lucky’s 1313. It was good! I loved the giant pretzel, which is just our new favorite thing to order anywhere. My tater tots were great too. The wrap was not very exciting. I ate most of it for lunch on Saturday instead.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s before going home since we were in the area. I think I’m finally stocked up on the cookie boxes I wanted to give to a bunch of people this year in lieu of making a ton of my own treats. It was a really nice night. I wish we made the effort to go on dates like that more often.

Saturday was pretty crazy. Greg had to go pick up the boys by 8:15 because Caden was headed off on a birthday party at Cascade Mountain to go tubing. Greg also left at nine to go to an all day gaming party. I was madly working on my (maybe) last batch of Christmas dolls. Then Shepard and I went to the dog park for awhile before heading out to a birthday party he was going to at the YMCA. After dropping him off I had to come back to Columbus to pick up Caden and his friend and head back to the Y for them to swim too. After the party we went to Wendy’s for dinner and then had a low key night with them gaming and me working. The day actually went a lot more smoothly than I expected and I only had to deal with a lot of whining at bedtime. But it was very exhausting.

I started working at 5:30 this morning, desperate to finish up my last six Christmas dolls. I’m pretty disappointed in how few I had time to make this last month. Life is just so busy. I have no problems selling the majority of the dolls I make, so it’s frustrating when I can’t produce up to my own personal standards. But…I just have to be okay with it. I wanted to continue to work this week, but I think there are too many other directions my attention needs to focus on. It took me four hours to finish this batch up this morning and I was stressed out every minute of it. I think I’m ready for the break.

Sunday Intentions

On to this week! I’m feeling pretty stressed out because I find out on Wednesday if I need the bone graft surgery or not. I’ve had this hanging over my head since July, but it’s become a lot more real and overwhelming the last few weeks. We’re starting to feel like even if I do need it, it’s probably not going to be squeezed in this month. Which is a relief time wise, but I’m SO not happy about the potential of starting another year with huge surgery and accompanying medical bills. I’m trying not to stress out about it until I actually know one way or another. But I still feel like I need to be basically ready for Christmas by Wednesday morning and I am NOT ready at all.

My main goal for the first half of this week is to get all the presents wrapped. I’d say I’m about 95% done shopping now. There are just a few more things I need to pick up which I’m hoping to do on my errand day Tuesday. But if I can just focus and get down to business, I think I can do almost all the remaining wrapping tomorrow. If I break out of this funk I’ve been in today. I’ve done absolutely nothing but read and lay around since I finished my dolls seven hours ago.

The second half of the week I will hopefully be excited and relieved to know that I don’t need surgery and then I can finally relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday season! I want to do a ton of reading. A little bit of baking. And I want to start exercising again. With the snow last weekend I drove the boys to school every day this week and I’m starting to feel it. Driving them allows me a no excuse way to head straight to the dog park every morning, but I think we could both really use the walking time too. I’m pretty sure all potential icy spots are gone by now, so I need to get back out there. And if it snows/rains again, I NEED to find a way to exercise in the house and actually do it!

And that’s about it! I will surely post an update on Wednesday after the doctor. Pray for good news!

November 2018 Reflections

Happy end of November!

I’m so behind in my posts, I decided to just go ahead and do my monthly recap instead of trying to remember what I did every day the last two weeks and just write about that. It feels a little irrelevant and boring at this point. Or maybe always?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking back at my goals from the beginning of the month, I was planning for a slow November. It was far from slow! Something about this school year, or this fall, seems busier than it’s ever been. We’re constantly running around, seem to have things going on almost every night, and I am just crazy busy trying to balance everything during the day. It’s so exhausting. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or this is just the season of life we’re in right now and I need to learn to deal with it. I’m really hoping winter will finally quiet down. Because I’m terrified of walking on potentially slippery ground EVER AGAIN, I think winter will be quiet just because I’m going to flat out refuse to go anywhere!

Anyway, here’s a quick recap on the goals I was aiming for in November. I think I did a pretty great job this month!

1. Write EVERY DAY

Well, I gave up on this one in the middle of the month because it was stressing me out and putting too much pressure on my already overloaded mind. It’s funny how by giving myself permission to prioritize writing, I suddenly had very little interest in doing it. I’ve just been too busy to even want to stop and get my thoughts down. But…it’s okay. I guess this is why I’m not a career writer. Maybe that is never meant to be.

2. Stop eating fast food for the sake of having a fast meal

This has been really tough, guys. This whole weight loss journey I began about five weeks ago has been A STRUGGLE. So many emotional ups and downs. So many days of the scale going up and down. As of today, 34 days after I started, I’m down 8.4 pounds. Which is great, I think! My goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of January, so I’m doing far better than I expected of myself. But most of the loss was in those first few weeks when I was using Noom and Lose It. I’m proud of myself for still going down now that I’m doing everything totally on my own without counting calories, but the changes day to day feel very insignificant. Anyway, I definitely have times of being totally hangry pretty much every day. I miss eatingย  what I want, when I want, and not thinking about portion size. I REALLY miss grabbing fast and easy food choices when I’m out running errands and feel like I’m starving. I realized that I just can’t have a full shopping day and expect myself to still come home and take the time to make a healthy late lunch for myself. So once a week I’ve been going to Qdoba or Chipotle which feels like a very worthy reward for being pretty good the rest of the week. And since errand days are always the days I get the most steps, I feel justified in splurging for the extra calories. As for actual fast (fried) food, I’ve only had it once. I planned it, which was within the rules I set for myself. I ordered a chicken and waffle sandwich from KFC. And it was SO not worth it. I’m going to stick with this goal for next month too. I just want to remember how crappy I feel after eating certain foods and drill it into my brain that it is not worth feeling like crap just for the convenience of something fast I can eat while I drive back home.

3. Finish 75% of my Christmas shopping

Okay, I’m not going to do the math, but I’d guess that I’m at least 90% done!! It’s been a pretty crazy two weeks of doing research on what to get everyone, finding the best deals, trying to take advantage of all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But with the exception of a few small filler gifts, I’m basically done. With everyone! I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, though, because when you do all your Christmas shopping for about 25 people – most of them needing multiple gifts – in a week and a half, all of those gifts start showing up at your door at the same time. Part of the reason I feel like I’m getting absolutely nothing done this week is that every single day a massive pile of boxes is delivered to my door and I need to figure out what to do with all of them. I did a round of wrapping earlier this week to try and further get ahead of everything, but it’s just A LOT to deal with. But when it’s all done, hopefully within the next week, I will be SO relieved to just sit back and relax and not have to worry about gift buying anymore in the month of December.

4. Write a Book Bonanza reading list

This is probably one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve assigned myself, but I haven’t done it yet. There are maybe around 120ish authors who will be at Book Bonanza in August, and I’ve at most read books by 5-8 of them, I’m guessing. I’d really love to do a quick search on every author and find at least one book of theirs I’d like to read by the time I head to Texas in August to meet them. I suppose the month isn’t over yet, but I did buy my Book Bonanza ticket almost three months ago, so I really need to get going on this list!

5. Have a meaningful date with Caden

We did this! A few weeks ago we went to The Mineshaft and shared a huge pile of appetizers followed by games in the arcade. It was really nice! I want to make this a more regular part of our monthly routine.

Reflections on the last two weeks

Treat your delivery drivers

I heard about this idea last year from Jessica Turner at The Mom Creative.ย You fill up a box of treats (ideally food AND drinks, but the drinks are too risky in the below freezing temps most days around here) and leave it out for all your delivery drivers. I started a this a few weeks earlier than last year since all of my packages have already been rolling in. I also got a cover this year because last year the squirrels realized that box of snacks existed and raided it every single day, leaving food wrappers strewn around the neighborhood. Anyway, I think it’s just a really fun thing to do. Maybe they’ll take something, maybe they won’t, but at least the gesture means something. My dad has worked at FedEx my whole life and I know how insane this time of the year is for all delivery workers. I hope that getting a little treat when they stop by our house brings a joy to their day! And because I love variety, I have about ten different options in that box and try to switch things out every few days, taking note on what gets eaten the most (Little Debbies) and make sure things like that are in stock. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pre-Thanksgiving date night

Exactly one month after I left DC, I saw Dianne and Jack again as they were in town visiting her dad for Thanksgiving. It’s nice that she can always kill two birds with one stone when she’s in the area and make some time to see me too! The four of us went out for Mexican the night before Thanksgiving. It was fun! I wish we could do couple dates more often.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving began the way every holiday begins – with a sick child. Caden, who rarely gets tummy sick, was rolling around with a bucket and moaning and groaning. He sort of spit up once and then laid in bed all morning, while we tried to decide what to do. Seeing as he seemed to be getting better, we continued on with our initial plans.

We always have Thanksgiving at Greg’s parents’ house and my parents come too, so we don’t have to eat two meals anymore. Shepard and I worked on this gingerbread turkey before the meal.

I was in charge of desserts, like I always am (and am thrilled about!). I always try to make my most unique things for Thanksgiving that still kind of fit the traditional offerings, but with a few twists. This was an apple gouda sage pie. The gouda was in the crust and I didn’t taste it at all. I only put in half the sage because I don’t like sage, but I couldn’t taste that either. But…it was a really good apple pie!

This was a triple cherry pie with a chocolate crust. My dad told me I ruined it with the chocolate crust and refused to even taste it, which is kind of a shame since I halfway made it for him because I know he loves cherry pies. But Greg also loves cherry pie and this was his request. Of course the recipe called for fresh cherries, which you will not find in November! I used frozen cherries, twice the amount called for, and it was kind of a juice explosion disaster. But if you only ate the top crust and a scoop of the filling it was delicious! And I normally don’t like cherry pie at all.

I only planned to make two pies since our group was pretty small this year, but I was so worried about the cherry pie being too juicy to eat that I stayed up late to make this black bottom peanut butter mousse pie. I added a bit of salt to each of the layers and it was PERFECTION. In retrospect, three pies for six eating adults (the boys didn’t have any) was definitely overkill. But as we’ve already established in this blog post, I love variety!

Shepard showing off the themed desserts he made on Wednesday night with my mom. He was very proud of them!

A moment of calm in the midst of a pretty trying day with a certain child. I know he wasn’t feeling the greatest, but he was also still being the way he is at basically every family gathering these days. It was rough. It’s ALWAYS rough.

And finishing the evening with some Thanksgiving Mad Libs and clay art projects with Shepard and the grandmas and me. I love how much of a kick he gets out those stories! Overall, it was a very nice Thanksgiving and I am forever thankful that I’m not responsible for the turkey or the sides!

Black Friday

I had big plans to work together to get the house fully decorated on Friday. But Thursday was so difficult with Caden that Greg decided to go into work so he didn’t have to spend the day with us. I still really wanted to get the tree up, but of course I had a few other things I really needed to do first (shopping!). Shepard was very impatient with me and started the tree on his own. He gave up right after I joined him and I ended up doing pretty much the entire thing myself. The boys spent the rest of the day playing with their friend while I decorated and cleaned.

After dinner we all went down the road to the Christmas parade! It’s really like the tiniest parade that has ever existed, but so many people show up and the atmosphere is festive and fun. Afterward Santa and a few people make a super long speech at the library that I have never been able to hear a single word of – I have NO CLUE what they talk about for so long every year. But then Santa lights the Christmas tree and everyone cheers.

Since everyone was actually in a good mood after the parade we powered through and finished decorating the tree. Greg and Shepard also put up the smaller tree in the family room and went crazy hanging twinkling white lights around the entire room. Our main tree shifts positions in the living room every year, but I really like this year’s placement. I have a perfect view from my big reading chair to the left.

Work Stuff

I spent a lot of time debating how to make sales over the Black Friday weekend. I decided to stay up late Thanksgiving night to finish these 12 ornament dolls. I offered one free with every order placed on Friday and Saturday. On Small Business Saturday I added an extra 15% off. I had exactly 12 sales on those two days so it worked out perfectly. On Cyber Monday I offered 25% off everything and made a giveaway doll that every sale for the day got entered in to win. Overall, it was very successful. I’ll probably do the same series of sales next year. There were a lot of people who wanted to just outright buy the ornament dolls, though, so this week I’ve been working on a batch of 24 of them to list for individual sale. I’ve just been so busy with other stuff I’m still not done with them.

McKenna’s Birthday Party

On Saturday night we went to my goddaughter McKenna’s 6th birthday party. It was also her sister Alaina’s 3rd birthday party – they have the same birthday. It was so fun to hang out with them! But also really sad that it’s been an entire year since I last saw her. This year just flew by.

Such a happy and fun little girl!

House Stuff

One of my totally random purchases in the last few weeks were new shades for our living room. Before we had a pretty translucent white curtain that was broken and couldn’t properly be opened (See tree pic a few paragraphs earlier.). It definitely looked a little bare at first, but I LOVE this new upgrade. I got the light filtering shades so it’s still pretty bright in here even when they’re closed. But I also feel like we finally have a lot more privacy in this room in the evenings, which makes me really happy. Unfortunately, that big curtain was also hiding a bunch of paint that peeled away when we put those plastic window sheets on our first winter here. I was really hoping to immediately patch all that up this week, but again – NO TIME. I’m hoping in the next year or two we can replace all the regular blinds that are left in the house with shades like this. They just look so much nicer.

Other Decorating

It’s taking me so much longer than I’d like, but I am very slowly making sure the rest of the house is decorated and ready for Christmas! One of my completely unplanned for Black Friday purchases was this little Christmas tree for our room. I love it so much! This is the first tree that I was ever able to pick out – not a hand me down or one we got on super clearance because it was the only one available. Putting this tree up inspired me to finally clean up our dresser top and reorganize my whole makeup area. Our room is looking very spiffy right now!

Edible Slime

Shepard saw a video the other day of people making edible slime and insisted he had to do it too. I bought the ingredients he told me to (gummy bears, cornstarch, sugar) and he and Greg made it. It looked so gross!

I’m not sure I’d call it a successful experiment, but they certainly had a lot of fun doing it! What a sticky mess, though!

End of the Month, by the Numbers

  • I worked about 61 hours this week over 21 days. Most days just 2-4 hours which is pretty realistic for what I can fit into my schedule right now. I’m still hoping to someday just have a normal work at home DAY and not work on nights or weekends at all. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!
  • I took Annie to the dog park 13 times. Our number is going up because I’ve been driving the boys to school more often with the cold or snow or their inability to get ready on time. If I’m already in my car with Annie it just makes more sense to get a little dog park time in!
  • I ate at restaurants 9 times this month. Better than last month’s 15, but still feels like a lot. At least I know my choices this month were a lot healthier.
  • I know they were healthier because I concluded that I “felt good” 22 days of the month. In October I only felt good in my body 9 days of the month. That’s a lot of progress!
  • I felt like I did some sort of nourishing self care 13 days of the month. Not so great. I’m hoping that number will jump significantly in December and I stop letting my to do list stress me out and rule my life and happiness so often.
  • I had a pretty even amount of quality time with Greg, Caden, and Shepard this month. I had 3 days of friend quality time.
  • My average happiness rating for the month was 6.7, only a tiny bit higher than October’s. I’m not very generous in my rating system – I’ve never given myself a 10/10 day. But I did have a lot of 7-9’s this month.

And that’s it for November! Happy December!!

 

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 11.18.2018

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

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

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

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

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

On Tuesday night I had my date with Caden! We went to The Mineshaft in Hartford. It was about a 40 minute drive, but I think it was worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚ We settled on sharing a giant soft pretzel and an appetizer platter with chicken tenders, haystack onions, and mozzarella sticks. I really should have made a better choice with the mega platter of fried food, but the pretzel was AMAZING. I will definitely be back someday to get another pretzel. Best I’ve ever had. The spicy cheese sauce that came with it was also fantastic.

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

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

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

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

On Friday morning I FINALLY finished up those custom order dolls and shipped them out. I can’t believe it took me all week. I also finished up this single doll that’s still available for sale! ๐Ÿ™‚ I LOVE this huge size doll. But I can’t make them often because people don’t usually want to spend that much money on one.

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

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

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

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

Sunday Intentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday Reflections 11.10.2018

Well, time to reflect on this rollercoaster of a week. Honestly, it was kind of a really crappy and disappointing week. But there were definitely some high points so this post won’t be a total bummer. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Reflections 11.03.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I finally finished up my batch of dolls by Friday night. This is my favorite one. Still available! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

And that’s been the week!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.28.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY INTENTIONS

So! It’s Sunday! It is also my self declared lazy day after two very packed and stressful weeks. All I have done today is alternate between writing blog posts, reading a couple of different books, and taking a nap. I’m still in my pajamas, at 4pm. Caden’s friends have been here all day, but I don’t think they noticed. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m too worn out to care.

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

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

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