Weekend Reflections 09.09.2018: The First Week of School and My Chicago Mini Vacation

Hello!

I am writing this on about four hours of sleep after driving/walking/shopping for most of the last two days, so bear with me if I’m not making any sense! I thought about writing this post tomorrow instead, but I have enough stuff to do tomorrow!

Anyway, it’s definitely been a typical first week of school transitional period where everyone is in awful moods and ready to burst into emotional meltdown at the tiniest infraction. As much as I love this time of the year, it’s definitely exhausting. I was so antsy to get back into my own routines too, but I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to instantly be back in the thick of things. But we made it and live to tell about it, and hopefully the next few weeks will be easier!

Sunday and Monday were fairly uneventful. The boys were soaking up every available minute with their friends. Greg and I were trying to take it pretty easy, resting from our ailments. By Monday my pinched nerve was barely noticeable, thank goodness! I was hoping to have some sort of last day of summer celebration, but decided just hanging out with their friends was good enough. That’s all they wanted to do anyway.

Tuesday was the first day of school. Caden was actually really excited about it! Shepard was wavering, but I think he was looking forward to seeing his friends every day again.

Our annual photo session was done at superspeed because swarms of mosquitoes were out to kill! It was seriously miserable. We all had bug spray on too and it didn’t make a bit of difference.

Ran into Willow as we were walking. When they found out they were in the same class a few weeks ago they were crazy excited. I’m very happy for them. πŸ™‚

The boys spent half the walk screaming because of the mosquito attacks. And half the walk ten steps ahead of me so they could discuss Minecraft. This past year I’ve often wondered what the point of me walking with them even is!

We went to the middle school first and met up with the neighborhood gang. The older kids seemed pretty chill about the first day. I think Shepard was a little sad that we had to leave them all behind when we walked over to the elementary school for him.

But once he saw his friends he was fine! I had to chase him down to say goodbye and he refused to give me a hug. Too cool for mom!

I spent my first day home alone deep cleaning the house. Those kinds of chores feel so pointless in summer when kids are constantly running through and destroying all of my efforts ten seconds after I do them. It felt really good to get everything fresh and ready for the week.

I picked them up after and it sounds like everything went well! The biggest news is that Shepard PEED! At school! During the day! On the first day! You cannot even begin to understand how much of a struggle the last two years have been. He has never, not even once, gone to the bathroom during the school day. He wasn’t even potty trained in preschool or 4K like he was supposed to be. And in kindergarten and first grade he just expertly held it in. The only time he had an accident was at the very end of the last school year and I think it was only because he wasn’t feeling well. Anyway, it’s a BIG DEAL that he went during school every single day this week and I think our struggles are over!!!

Caden is the more emotional one, so I didn’t get a lot of information out of him about how things are going, but he seems pretty happy. He likes his teacher. He gets to see some of his best friends at lunch and recess. I think he feels pretty cool being a big kid in the middle school now. Growing up!

Wednesday was picture day. They were both so mad at me that I made them wear these new shirts. I’m switching it up from the Chaps plaid button shirts I’ve made them wear every picture day to date. I can’t wait to see how they turned out!

I had a major errand day on Wednesday, though that wasn’t my original plan. But, things are breaking in our house left and right right now, and I had to go buy a new faucet for our bathroom sink. And if I already have to leave town for one errand, you better believe I’m going to make the most of the drive, fitting in as much as I can! I also went to Target, Woodman’s, the UPS Store, and ate some Wendy’s chicken on the way home. Then I took a nap! And worked the rest of the day.

Thursday was a HUGE work day. I finally forced myself to sit down and just get it done. I finished up all these dolls and got them listed by dinnertime. Then my friend Deja came over for a craft night. I wasn’t in the mood to start back in on new dolls, so I organized my huge stamp collection – a messy job that I’ve been putting off for about two months. It wasn’t particularly fun, but it felt great to get it done. And it was so nice to have a friend night! One of the best parts of the new school year is that everyone suddenly seems interested in rekindling friendships. I think we’re all just trying to survive in the summer and can’t handle that one more thing. But in fall our minds get freed up a bit and we’re more willing to go the extra mile to make friend things happen.

I don’t really remember what I did Friday. I was supposed to be working! But I didn’t, at all. Oh yeah, I made cinnamon rolls, I made salsa, I went to the ATM and got gas, I went to one grocery store on purpose, and then I went to another grocery store when I realized I didn’t have cream cheese for my cinnamon roll frosting. I walked Annie. I did some cleaning and laundry and packed for my weekend. We celebrated surviving the week with the cinnamon rolls.

The very sad news Friday is that my mom’s dog Juno passed away. πŸ™ She was about 14 years old and going downhill fast, but it still took everyone by surprise how fast it happened in the end. She was a wonderful dog that was loved beyond measure by my mom. She had a very long and happy life with the best dog mom in the world. She will forever be missed.

Saturday was start to my big Chicago adventure weekend. On Friday when I was researching out my route I realized this awesome store in Beloit was on the way. I went to their facebook page to check out their hours and saw that there just happened to be a huge vintage market happening in Rockford on Saturday – also on my route. I was SO excited to find something unique to do that I’d absolutely love. And it didn’t disappoint!! I think it was even better than Cranberry Fest, which is one of my all time favorite days of the year. Though Cranberry Fest is also special because I go with my parents and we have a lot of fun together. But next year, we’re going to this too. FOR SURE. There were about 175 vendors and every single booth was filled with all the vintage type stuff that I adore. It was packed, but everything was fairly spread out so you never got that suffocated feeling like you do in the aisles at Cranberry Fest. And all the shoppers were just in the best of moods too! It was a very relaxed and happy atmosphere and I LOVED IT. I didn’t buy much, mostly because I wasn’t interested in carrying it back to my car (through a huge long grassed muddy and bumpy field – basically the worst possible walking conditions for my ankle). I picked out these two signs for my sewing room. And later I finally found a large wall sign with a great saying I couldn’t say no to.

The only downside is that the lines to pay and the lines for food and drinks were so long. I wish I had gotten lunch at like ten when I noticed nobody in lines. Instead I probably spent at least twenty minutes waiting in line at this marshmallow trailer to get a frozen hot chocolate, s’mores style. She also sold all kinds of gourmet s’mores, fresh and hot. I decided to skip that even though they looked amazing, assuming they’d be too messy. Butttt this was just as messy. If not more. My hands were immediately coated in marshmallow which I transferred to my phone when I took this picture. I kept trying to get my hands cleaned off, but my only option was my shorts or dry grass! The whole market was in the country with only outhouses and not a sink in sight. But, I think it was worth it. πŸ™‚ The homemade marshmallow fluff was my favorite part. So tasty!

I stayed at the market for three hours, looking at everything two or three times. Then I headed further south to Schaumburg, where my hotel was. At that point I was starving, and desperate for something more substantial to eat. I just stopped at Portillo’s, as the first unique restaurant I came upon. I decided to go a little out of my restaurant comfort zone (i.e. chicken) and ordered an Italian beef with spicy peppers and cheese fries. I’m not sure I’d get it again, but it wasn’t bad! I was so hungry that I think anything would have fit the bill! Madison is getting a Portillo’s soon, so I’m curious to see if the restaurant is built in the same manner as the Chicago branches.

After my late lunch I had just enough time to stop in at a TJMaxx (of course) before checking into my hotel. I did a little reading and then spent way too much time trying to decide which of my outfits to wear for the big night and attempting to get my hair to curl and failing. My built in relaxing break of the day was not very relaxing!

While I definitely wasn’t super hungry at that point, I was still hoping to at the very least pick up a coffee or something at a gas station on my way to The Popcast show. But I underestimated how bad highway traffic was going to be at that time of day, or in that area, and didn’t have time. But I did get a great spot in line! My sister-in-law Melissa joined me before the doors opened. Though kind of defeating the purpose of the line, once we were inside we still couldn’t actually go in the theater for another half hour. But we got some great seats once we did!

Because I pre-ordered Knox’s book, I was actually able to get a signed ARC at the show! Lest you forget, I’m on the launch team for this book, which is crazy exciting to me. So you’re going to be hearing about it a lot in the next two months before it’s released. Or, you will be if you follow me on instagram or facebook! It’s genuinely a great book, though. So funny. So poignant. So relatable.

I splurged for VIP tickets, allowing us into the show early and able to watch the pre-show Q&A. That part wasn’t terribly exciting, but I loved the main show!! Melissa had never even listened to them, but I think she enjoyed it too. It was just so fun seeing the people I listen to 3-4 times a week right in front of me! I might be a tiny bit obsessed. But they also provide me a whole lot of joy in the most mundane parts of my day and I am devoted for life. If you haven’t already, LISTEN TO THE POPCAST. It’s so good. And then support them on Patreon because those episodes are even better. And then listen to them on The Bible Binge, their secondary podcast.

Overall, the whole day was awesome! My only regret was not going with Melissa to a unique taco restaurant after the show. I was starving, but I was also tired and didn’t want to deal with moving my car and finding another parking spot, late at night in unfamiliar territory. Instead I drove the half hour back to my hotel exit and then got a McDonald’s chicken sandwich that was stone cold by the time I got to my hotel room. πŸ™ I was exhausted, but also super hyped up, so I took a long shower and then watched the movieΒ Sierra Burgess is a Loser. It was a great night!

Today has not been as exciting. My original plan was to just chillax in the hotel all morning, but I was antsy to get moving and find something to do. So I went to an upscale grocery store in search of something for breakfast. Then hit up a Trader Joe’s and a Marshall’s. I walked quickly through Ikea because I was regretting not going when I was in Minnesota last month. And then I went to the gigantic Woodfield Mall. I didn’t have any great interest in being there, it just felt like something I should do. I didn’t stay long. Then I headed up to Beloit to hit up that store (Vintage Bliss) and finished my trip at Qdoba for a late lunch of knockout tacos in Madison. I got home around 3:30, totally exhausted. But I’ve been steadily cleaning and organizing and trying to get ready for the week.

Sunday Intentions

It’s kind of a weird week ahead. There’s not much on the calendar I NEED to do. But there are so many things I COULD do. The smart and driven part of my brain says I should forget all the extras and just work all week. I could use the sales! But the adventurous part of my brain wants to take advantage of all these cool things that happen in fall. I want to drop a few things off at my mom’s and do some grocery shopping in the morning. There’s a friend coffee date I’m planning to go to on Tuesday. One of my favorite stores is having a special fall shopping event on Wednesday. I might possibly have a friend thing Wednesday night. Thursday night there’s a Madison Night Market that looked really intriguing. I’ve been trying to keep the whole week open in case we’re doing any sort of early birthday celebration for Caden with Greg’s parents, but no word on that yet. And on Friday and Saturday I need to clean and shop and prep for Caden’s family birthday party on Sunday morning.

So…I’m not really sure how the week will go! I’m also feeling bad because I had all these plans to take Annie to so many dog parks in the Madison area, and I just can’t seem to fit it into my schedule because it’d basically take an entire day away from anything else. There are just so many things going on in September! So many birthday things for Caden too. Balance is what I’m striving for, I guess. I just don’t want to burn myself out and not be able to enjoy the fun times.

Anyway, I think it’s time for me to go to bed! It’s been quite a week!

Sunday Intentions 08.26.2018

One more week! One more week! I’m excited and a little bit nervous. The pressure is really on to make the last week of summer memorable, fun, and just the right balance between getting ready to slide back into daily routines and still wanting to make the most of our days together. Usually I like to keep this final week free of commitments so we can take it day by day and choose the things that sound the most enjoyable to all of us. Unfortunately, we’re already pretty booked this week. But I think we can work around it and still fit in a few fun things.

Today I am once again sacrificing myself to the weekend shoppers that somehow think it’s fun to bring their entire families grocery shopping. I know the boys probably haven’t even noticed that I’ve purposely done my shopping this month at times Greg was home so they wouldn’t have to come with me (because they HATE it). But I did it for them!! Weekend errand running is the worst. But alas, I will do it one more time (okay, I’ll probably do it next weekend too to make sure I have lunch and snack foods for school). While I’m out and about I am also going to seeΒ Crazy Rich Asians.Β Greg had some promotional movie money that needed to be used by the end of the month and suggested I find a movie to see. I wanted to see this one anyway, and this is the only day it really works well to go. So I’m starting with the movie – a perfect way to relax before I start really feeling this week’s pressure. Then maybe Chipotle for lunch! And then errands. It’ll be good to get that out of the way again before the week gets underway.

Monday is my last chance to take the boys to that Dolphin’s Cove swimming place. I think they’ve forgotten about it, so it’s not the end of the world if we miss it. But I feel bad because we plan to figure out how to swim there every summer and it has yet to happen even once. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t looking that great for tomorrow, so I’m guessing this isn’t going to happen. I had two game room/restaurant ideas, but neither place opens until 3, which still leaves us with the entire day to find something else. We’ll see. Caden has the thirdΒ Lord of the Rings installment with Greg in the evening, so I don’t want to the day to be TOO too busy for him.

On Tuesday I’m planning to make sure all school related things are in order. I’m pretty sure their school supplies are all set and packed up, but I need to double check. I want to get my calendar updated, pre-order school pictures, and just go through all my paperwork. And in the afternoon Caden has his last therapy session with the current therapist.

Wednesday is school orientation! I’m excited to learn more about the middle school (now technically “the intermediate school”) and what changes Caden will be adjusting to this year. Hopefully there won’t be any surprises for Shepard, but we will be having a teacher that Caden didn’t go through, so there will be a bit of newness. I’m really hoping at Caden’s we’ll come across a few more of his friends that will be in his 4th grade class. So far I haven’t found a single kid that he’s been in class with the last four years who will have the same teacher as him. πŸ™

Thursday I have my annual exam. Ick. Every year it gets pushed back a few extra weeks, so this is probably the last time I’ll ever have it in the summer when I need to bring the boys along with me. My mom always comes too and they hang out at a park while I’m at the doctor and then we all go out to lunch. So that’s the plan again – hopefully the weather is nice!

Friday is totally open and I’m hoping to keep it that way!

And Saturday we are probably going to Cedar Lake, depending on the weather. Lots of stuff going on!

My main intention for the week is to let go of all my brewing work stress and just remember this is my last week with the boys home and try to enjoy it. If I don’t even work an hour this week, IT WILL BE OKAY. I will more than make up for it next week. I should be celebrating the fact that I SURVIVED the last three months! Maybe I’ll let myself take an actual vacation this week – no sewing at all, on purpose. Maybe. πŸ™‚ Probably not. But I’m not going to freak out about it. It’s also the end of the month, so I have my fun blog posts to write too. Doll making will have to go to the back burner, even though I’ve barely gotten anything done in August. Oh well. September WILL be better!

Happy last week of summer!

Weekend Reflections and Week Intentions 08.19.2018

It’s been a rough week, guys. The middle of August always hits me hard. I’m SO worn down by summer and having kids around all the time and just plain never being able to do all the things I want to do because eight zillion other things are always popping up and need to be dealt with first. I don’t have a lot of regrets about this summer, the way I usually do – we kept pretty busy and did a lot of stuff. But it still feels like we didn’t quite do enough. Or maybe enough of what we really wanted to do. I want to be excited for fall BECAUSE I AM, but I also feel guilty wishing these months with my kids away, so I try really hard never to think about it until I actually flip the calendar over to September. I wanted to give myself a lot of grace this month, not expecting too much productivity, but focusing instead on family and memory making and reading and resting. But it’s honestly kind of freaking me out that August is usually one of my most productive work months and I’ve barely had a minute a day to sit down and get to work. I’ve only had two sales this entire month! That’s awful! I’m stressed out and drained and honestly kind of dreading the remaining two weeks of the summer because we are busier than ever and none of it looks very fun! There’s a whole lot going on in my head and I’m trying to just take it day by day, only focusing on what matters most in that day so I don’t get too overwhelmed. I’m not very good about staying out of my head, though.

Anyway. This past week! It got a little crazy. Monday was spent running errands, cleaning, doing food prep, and trying to get the house ready for Hudson who came over Tuesday morning – Thursday midday. Hudson is mobile now, and into everything, and our house is definitely not baby proofed. So I was trying to think of every possible dangerous situation that could arise and how I could prevent it from happening. It basically kept me up most of Sunday and Monday nights, so I was already off to a bad start with very little sleep.

We picked Hudson up from my mom’s on Tuesday morning and brought him back home where he immediately got acquainted with Annie. Last time he was here he was pretty intimidated by her, but he had no fear this time around! She was definitely the most interesting thing around. Annie was rather fond of him too!

Jack was actually who he was most interested in. Rory made himself pretty scarce those days. I’m not sure Hudson ever even saw him. Right after this picture Jack hissed at Hudson and he was really sad. πŸ™

We basically just followed Hudson around for a few hours until he was ready to take a nap. I immediately took a nap too and then woke up and reorganized my coffee area. I used to have all my k-cups in a basket and they always flip top side down, so it was super annoying trying to pick one every day. I like this setup a lot better! I have a bit of a k-cup buying obsession. On this rack of 35, there are no duplicate flavors! I’ve only been a coffee drinker for 10 months now, but it’s become a delightful little afternoon treat.

Hudson slept for three hours – until almost dinner time and my brother told me I better wake him up or he’d never go to bed on time. So we got up and had tacos for dinner, which he loved.

We took him to the pool in the evening, which was fun. He had this exact look on his face the entire time we were there. So solemn! But I guess it was better than being scared of the water! It must have wore him out, though, because he had a snack back at home and then no problems going to bed, just a tiny bit later than normal.

Greg took the day off on Wednesday to spend some time with Hudson too. We all walked to a park in the morning. I wanted to go to the park with the baby playground, but it was already SO hot and humid, so we only made it to the closer park. He loved going up the stairs over and over again, though.

He took a much shorter nap on Wednesday, so no time to really catch up on anything. I was getting a little stressed because in the midst of all this, I had some fun potential Heartstring Annie things come up that I need to majorly prepare for in the coming weeks. It was really hard to be mulling around all these ideas and not be able to DO anything about it yet. Babies that need constant attention are not very conducive to working at home! Even for five minutes. I literally looked away from him three times for only a minute or two, and only because one of the boys was right with him, and all three times he bumped himself on something and got hurt.

On Wednesday night Greg and his dad and Caden went to go see a Lord of the Rings showing at the theater. So I put Shepard in front of a youtube video while I tried to get Hudson to go to sleep. I kept putting it off to try and get close to his actual bedtime even though he had a short early nap and was obviously very tired, but I think that was our downfall. He was so worked up and took a very, very long time to settle down and sleep. Once it finally happened I sent Shepard to bed and then I watchedΒ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on netflix. It felt so good to finally have a tiny bit of time to myself to watch that movie because I was dying to since the minute I first heard about it!

Thursday morning was more of the same, except with Greg not around to help out. The boys were definitely over helping by then. I had to let Annie out front on her chain to go to the bathroom and while I was not supervising her, she apparently found a new burr bush in our front yard and got trapped in it. Her entire body was COVERED in matted burrs. It was a nightmare. I gave up pretty quickly on trying to pull them out and just got out the scissors. At least she actually realized she needed help and was fairly cooperative. Normally she fights any time of grooming like crazy. Now she looks more raggedy than ever!

My mom came back to pick Hudson up around lunchtime. I know it sounds like I was complaining, but I’m really glad we got to have these memories with him. It was just exhausting! It would have been better if we had a smaller, safer area to enclose him in! It was really fun to spend time with him, though. I especially liked how when he was tired or sad or hurt he always came to me for cuddles. It’s been a very, very, VERY long time since my kids preferred me to Greg. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed that.

I was supposed to have a craft night on Thursday night but I cancelled. I just couldn’t deal with needing to clean up and be social all night. I did, however, still work all night. I need to get back on top of everything!! I’m not sure how it will all play out, but I was asked to donate a book themed doll to this 3000+ member facebook book club I’m in, for a fall readathon in the middle of September. And in exchange they will promote Heartstring Annie. So in preparation for that, I need to make a lot of book themed dolls! But my regular customers are anxiously awaiting fall themed dolls and I also need to get moving on that. I love when my head is so full of new ideas, but my hands can never keep up! It stresses me out.

I worked all day on Friday. Greg worked from home. The boys played with their friends. Then they went to the county fair with Greg’s parents and we went on a date. We finally made it to Cercis to try out their pizza. And…we were disappointed. I was SO hoping they’d have this amazing food and we could finally have a local regular date night place when we want to do something special, but don’t have time or energy to head to Madison. Unfortunately, their pizza tasted exactly like a frozen pizza to me, at triple the cost. I love the restaurant’s atmosphere, so I hope they expand their menu in the future. At any rate, it was still good to have a date!

We picked up Annie afterward and went to the dog park, which we’ve been neglecting to do all summer because Greg takes Annie on so many pokemon walks she’s still getting a lot of exercise. It was still too buggy there. It’s really the only place I even notice how bad the bugs are anymore. Which stinks! Annie did get some good play time in, though, and we had a nice conversation with a super friendly dog owner.

Saturday was kind of a crappy day. I worked all morning and in the afternoon we went to my brother Timmy’s birthday/going away party in Madison with my parents and Brittany’s family.

I got in my final selfie with Hudson.

Timmy and all his nieces and nephews with his favorite ice cream cake dessert.

I was in a pretty terrible mood at the party.Β I am just so sad that I won’t be able to see Hudson grow up through all the little everyday moments. I’m devastated my kids won’t have the kind of relationship with their only cousin that we spent the last year thinking they’d have. And the relationship they have with their uncle and aunt that they are always SO excited to hang out with. I’m mourning the loss of the sibling adult friendships Greg and I were so happy to have found and thought we’d be able to keep nurturing through regularly spending time together. And I am so hurt by how easily they dismissed the value of their entire family and all their friends being a constant physical presence in their lives, and Hudson’s.

But the truth is, it’s not about me. I’m sure I was not a big factor in this life altering decision and I have to stop taking it so personally. They believe this is the best thing for their nuclear family and we have to accept and respect that. It’s just unfortunate how the entire thing came about and how many things were said between everyone that leave me feeling that irreparable damage has been done to our relationships. I just wish so badly it hadn’t happened the way it did. But it did. And life just has to go on. Hopefully they’ll keep their promise to share things and keep us involved in Hudson’s life. None of our siblings really share anything – ever – though (whereas my life is a very open book to anybody who happens to care enough to check my blog out every weekend!!), so I’m not holding out a ton of hope.

 

On the way home from the party Greg and I got into a stupid fight. I know this isn’t what he meant when he said what he did, but it came out sounding like I have all the time in the world to do annoying errands and he doesn’t because he’s the one who has a real job. Want to know a surefire way to hurt me deeply, then piss me off, then motivate me to work harder than ever? Imply that I’m not doing enough. Just elude to the idea that I have total control over my time, when in reality I spend probably 60% of my life doing things for my family that I definitely do not always want to be doing. Anyway. That was just the icing on the cake with how yesterday went for me emotionally. I was heartbroken after saying goodbye to Hudson, I was so hurt by what Greg said, and I’m still so stressed about work and dreading the next few weeks and knowing it’s not even going to get better in September because life is INSANE in September with start of school hiccups, mini vacations, so many birthday related things for Caden, and Cranberry Fest adventures. September is so much fun, but it can only be fun if I do the prep work in August to make it feasible. And trust me, that prep work has NOT happened yet and with how busy the calendar is I don’t know how it’s going to get done. Anyway, I had a terrible time sleeping again. This whole week has just done me in.

So today I woke up with my newfound determination to spend every possible minute being productive. Which unfortunately meant only spending a whopping 45 minutes working on my dolls because there were a million other things that needed to be done first. I made lists and did all my errand running, changed sheets and did a bunch of laundry, and cooked a bunch of food. Greg was very productive today too with mowing and cleaning and clearing out the garage so he can start parking in it again once our new neighbors move in later this week.

Sunday Intentions

Well, a fresh start and new week ahead. Two more weeks. I can do it. I’m just kind of bummed out that all these not so thrilling things were somehow saved for these final two weeks. The cats have a vet appointment which I’m not expecting to go very well (Jack is still losing weight and drinking water constantly), Greg has a minor surgery with an unpredictable recovery time, Caden has his last therapy appointment (because the therapist is leaving the clinic, not because we’re choosing to end with him – all that work and back to square one), and I have my annual exam. πŸ˜›

I’m mildly considering taking the boys to that Dolphin’s Cove swimming place tomorrow, but I’m also kind of hoping they just forget about it. It feels like a lot of work going there. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. I ran my errands today so I’d have the availability to take them tomorrow if that’s what we decide. I’m also taking Shepard on a dinner date to Mod Pizza, something he said he really wanted to do before summer ended. With that in mind, I should probably try and find something I can do with Caden in the next two weeks too! Later tomorrow night he’s going to the second Lord of the Rings movie, and the third one next Monday.

Tuesday is the vet appointment. And then just a work day! I was vaguely considering checking out the Friends of the Library monthly meeting Tuesday night – just something that’s kind of been on my mind lately. I love books so much, maybe it would be fun to be around more bookish people. But maybe I would hate it because it sounds like a lot of fundraising. Which was not something I enjoyed too much when I was the fundraising chairperson on the preschool board. I think I have too much going on right now to deal with a new thing. Maybe next month.

And Wednesday is Greg’s surgery, so the day will be spent with him. My mom is taking the boys for a few days, so we don’t have to worry about that. Depending on his recovery, maybe I can get a lot of work done on Thursday. And on Friday after my mom brings them back we’re going to go to a new dog park about an hour away for the day. And Saturday we have a family gathering in Oshkosh. Busy busy!!

Well, I think that’s enough for now! I’m really dropping the ball on my daily blog posts, but everything has just been too overwhelming. Soon. I hope. πŸ™‚

Late Summer Vacations in Minnesota and La Crosse

This has been a whirlwind of a week, finishing our three mini vacations of the summer – all right in a row. We had our Fox Lake cottage vacation last weekend with Greg’s parents. Monday was the one normal day of packing and laundry and getting everything organized. And then first thing Tuesday I was off on a solo trip to Minnesota. On Thursday I drove down to La Crosse and met up with Greg and the boys for two nights of family vacation. Overall, I had a lot of fun, did a lot of shopping, looked at a lot of books, and ate a ton of delicious food. But there were also a ton of internet related frustrations in Minnesota and bug related stress in La Crosse. A trip can never just be perfect, right?

I started my journey with a stop at Great Harvest Bread Co. in the Dells. I’ve never been there before and was hoping to find some kind of bread to have on hand for the rest of the week in case the hotel breakfasts were disappointing (and they were). They didn’t really have much bread, but the entire store was filled with bags of these mocha chocolate chip biscotti, so I picked one up. They were delicious!

I planned on eating lunch in Eau Claire, but got to town too early. I drove around, expecting there’d be a shopping area off the main highway I could just hang out at for a little while, but I didn’t have any luck. I eventually found my way to a Festival grocery store so I could go to the bathroom. I made it to Milwaukee Burger Co. right when it opened. Their menu looked fantastic and I chose just a simple fried chicken, pickle, and special sauce sandwich with a side of their enormous cheese curds. Very tasty, but very filling.

My next stop was at Bibelot in St. Paul. It’s a really fun gift type store that I always enjoyed going to when I lived there. I also grabbed a cold brew from Starbucks because I was already dragging and my day had hardly begun!

My main reason for picking Minnesota as a vacation destination was to see my favorite author, Colleen Hoover, at a book signing in Edina. I’ve never been to a book signing and when I realized there was one within driving distance it seemed like the perfect reason to plan a solo vacation. Anyway, it became really annoying when I realized to actually get a seat at the signing and guarantee of her actually signing my book, I had to purchase a book AT their location. They had 100 wristbands that they gave out between when the latest book came out (July 17) and the signing (August 7). 100 isn’t very many for a very popular author in a huge metropolitan area! So I ordered a book to be picked up that day, and then called to ask about the wristband. He told me that because I asked, and he still had 5 or 6 left, he’d put a wristband in my book. And then he realized they only have a 5 day hold and I ordered the book 6 days early. So I had to order a second book (technically a third because I already owned one from amazon to read on release day) the next day and just hoped I’d have a wristband when I got there. I noticed on the book signing schedule that all the other cities simply had you purchase tickets for the signing online. That would have been SO much easier for me!! And much less stressful.

Anyway! I drove over to the Barnes and Noble as soon as I could get there to see if I had a wristband waiting for me. I got lucky because the wristband was still there in the first book I ordered, despite it being expired. They made a big to do about it and decided I could still have the wristband, even though it wasn’t with the book that was still in the system… It wouldn’t have been the end of the world not to have the wristband. I still could have stood in the back and I probably still could have had my book signed. But after revolving a whole vacation around this thing, I really wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy it!

I went back to check into my hotel next and spent awhile just reading and relaxing. I put on a nice outfit, did my hair, and headed back to Barnes and Noble about an hour and a half before the signing started. Apparently this is one of five new concept stores in the country, and the setup was a lot more unique than any other BN I’ve been to. I was really excited to spend some time browsing the shelves. But everyone was already there and sitting! I forgot to bring my kindle with me, I wasn’t particularly interested in re-reading this newest book (it was great – just not her typical tingly delicious romance type book), and my internet wasn’t working at all on my phone. Eventually I decided to risk it and left my stuff on a chair so I could walk around a bit. πŸ™‚ You can’t stick me in an awesome bookstore and not let me browse!

I guess because most people were just getting this book that day, Colleen didn’t do any readings or want to answer questions about it. But she did spend about an hour taking any other questions that people had. So many of the questions had to do with her writing process and where she gets ideas. It was so interesting! I really enjoyed the entire thing. And at the end, we went row by row to get our books signed. I watched everyone before me gushing to her about how great her books are and when I got to the front of the line I had no idea what to say! I was probably her fastest sign because I felt so tongue tied and dumb! Oh well. It was a really great experience and I hope to go to more book signings in my future!

It was pretty late, but I was getting hungry after not eating since 11 in Eau Claire. My plan was to go to Cheesecake Factory and just pick up a slice for the hotel, but then I decided I’d rather get real food instead. So I walked into this Rojo Mexican Grill and had my food about five minutes after I sat down! A huge basket of chips and salsa and three chicken tacos. I’m not normally a huge rice fan, but whatever they did to this rice was also amazing. Since I was parked right in front of it (thanks, handicap parking pass), I still got a slice of chocolate cherry cheesecake to bring back to the hotel and eat over the next few days.

I finished my night back at the hotel with a bit of a pampering spa hour. I had brought a bunch of bath bombs and oils and sheet masks. I was really too exhausted to fully enjoy it, but it was still worth doing. Overall, my first day of vacation was awesome!

Wednesday is much less exciting to write about. I checked out the hotel breakfast that just consisted in individually boxed cereals and plain bagels and went back to my room to read for awhile. I had a fully researched plan in place to start at Ikea and Mall of America and then work my way through all my favorite stores in the other cities. But on my way back to the hotel Tuesday night I saw there was a Container Store in the opposite direction. I’ve never been to one and always wanted to, so I switched up my whole itinerary. Of course in doing so, I really needed to do a bit more research, and the wifi in the hotel didn’t work at all, and my phone was roaming the entire time so almost nothing was working. I wasted a ridiculous amount of time in those 48 hours just trying to get something to load. Things that should have taken ten seconds took half an hour. Yes, I could have just used the time to unplug and made the day a true adventure. But I didn’t want to miss anything! And I wanted to make sure I had the best restaurant plan for the day. It was infuriating how hard it was to find answers or options EVERY SINGLE TIME I tried to search something out. My gps even stopped working half the time. I was trying to just go with the flow and not let it bother me. But…it bothered me. A lot.

Anyway, Wednesday was my shopping day. I went to Trader Joe’s, World Market, Marshall’s, The Container Store, and Whole Foods in Edina. I love unique grocery stores. And I love discount stores. And I love containers. My biggest mistake on this trip was not bringing along a cooler and some ice packs. So many things I wanted to buy at the first few stores I went to were meltable, so I had to pass. πŸ™

I had lunch at Naf Naf Grill in Eagan. There were so many great choices all right in a row! I contemplated Punch Pizza because that was our all time favorite MN pizza chain (though there wasn’t one in Eagan when we lived there!). There was also a taco place called RTacos that looked tasty. But I was trying to get myself a wide variety of foods, so I went Mediterranean. My pita was good, but SO spicy. Too spicy. And I LOVE spicy food.

Next I went to Marshall’s and Home Goods and then temporarily got lost. Eagan has changed a lot in the 10 years since we lived there! And my gps stopped working. But I eventually found my way back to the part of town I recognized and drove past the Panera where I worked for the first year we lived there. Then I went into that Barnes and Noble to browse books some more. And of course got a frappuccino. To try and wake up, but also to try and combat the fire still raging in my mouth.

I finished up my shopping at my favorite TJMaxx in Burnsville, where I used to shop all the time (before apparently every city in MN got their own discount stores!). I also stopped in at Abdallah Candies, but I just wasn’t in the mood to buy anything else sweet after my coffees and cheesecake. After that I was totally exhausted and needed a break so I went back to the hotel to read and take a nap.

The rest of my night was kind of crappy. I kept thinking about still going to Ikea and MoA, but my ankle was killing me and I knew there weren’t really any stores I was dying to go to in the mall. I like Ikea as an experience, but it has so many steps and I still suck at going down stairs because my ankle won’t bend enough. Originally there was a restaurant that looked really good at the mall, but since I had fancy tacos the night before it really wasn’t such a priority to get that kind of meal again. I was trying to think really hard about what kind of things I’d find most memorable and of course the answer was BOOKS. On other trips the answer probably would have been to find some cool outdoor things to visit. But between the extremely hot temperatures and my stupid ankle, I just wasn’t up for that kind of adventuring on that leg of the trip.

Anyway, I ended up going to a really cool used bookstore called The Paperback Exchange. I wish I had come across it in my research ahead of time, because if you brought in any paperback to exchange, you would only have to pay 25% of the cover price on any book in the store. Without an exchange, it was 50%. Which was still a pretty great deal because they had SO MANY books, and thousands of them were in almost perfect condition. I had a lot of fun browsing the floor to ceiling shelving and came out with four new books that I actually knew about before and really wanted to read.

After that the night was pretty awful. I couldn’t make up my mind on where to eat. My problem on vacations is that I want every meal to be this perfect experience filled with types of food I could never find at home. I want every meal to be memorable and delight my senses. And sometimes that’s just a lot of pressure to put on food. I couldn’t decide on a restaurant, so instead I headed to another bookstore. But there was so much construction, closed roads, heavy traffic, and NO places to park. I just wasn’t up for walking blocks and blocks to get anywhere, so I gave up on the bookstore and headed to another restaurant choice. Came across more roadblocks and lack of parking. Finally went back to the hotel to regroup and see if there was something I could order in. Decided on something, only to see you needed to download an app in order to place an order and gave up. It was getting so late, but I didn’t want to skip eating entirely. But the internet wasn’t working, I didn’t know what to do, and I was getting so stressed out.

I finally made a choice on a place that was supposedly just 1.2 miles away from the hotel. Except when I got in my car the gps then said 3.6 miles. Which was a good fifteen minute drive. When I finally got there, through more construction and closed roads, I couldn’t get to the restaurant because it was in the middle of a construction site and all the doors were barricaded, even though the open sign was on. It was so confusing and frustrating that I left and just got Popeye’s on my drive back to the hotel. Except even that was a fail because all the food was cold and limp and I didn’t even eat it. SUCH a waste of a night. I should have just walked to the Walmart next to the hotel and gotten some cheese and bread or something. I was so mad at myself for wasting sooooo many hours of that super rare solo vacation on things that didn’t even work out. Oh, and then the final straw – I figured I would end the night finding something to watch on tv while eating popcorn that I had brought. BUT you needed a code to get the tv to work, which was not provided. Stupid! I just went to bed after that.

Needless to say, I was not in the mood to linger on Thursday morning. I didn’t even look at the hotel breakfast. Just packed up and stopped at a bakery I had driven by the morning before. They had so many tasty options! I got a French donut and a cherry fritter, and two bags of salty crunchy cheese breadsticks and a loaf of cinnamon bread to share with the family.

On my way out of the area, I drove by our old house in Farmington. It looked pretty much the same, except they changed the shutters to white. I liked the black ones I painted myself so much better. I was also really happy to see that the flowers, lilac bushes, and tree I planted on my first Mother’s Day were all still alive and well. I can’t believe how much that tree has grown in nine years!

As I headed south, I came to the conclusion that memory lane vacations are not much fun. I really enjoyed our four years living in Minnesota and have a lot of great memories there. But I’ve never regretted our decision to move back to Wisconsin. Driving around on this trip, though, kind of made me feel wistful and sad for the path we did not choose. Maybe because that blog post I wrote on Monday was still fresh on my mind – regret over not staying the college course. I definitely enjoyed seeing Colleen Hoover and I always like being by myself and shopping at all my favorite stores. But I also just felt really kind of sad the entire time. I also felt ANGRY at all the traffic and lack of parking options and poor internet, so yeah. I was ready to get out of there.

I’ll spare you all the other frustrating driving related problems I had that morning and just tell you that I finally got to La Crosse around noon and stopped at the coffee shop I had picked out ahead of time. I wanted some meal food since I didn’t know our plan for the rest of the day, but also didn’t want a ton of food, so I got a mini BLT. And even though I wasn’t really in the mood for it, the whole reason I picked Cabin Coffee Co. was for their huge frappe menu, so I couldn’t leave without getting one. This was the Mississippi Mud frappe. It was good, just a ton bigger than I expected it to be.

After that, I met up with my family! It was still too early to check into the hotel, so they decided to go to the Holmen Aquatic Center, a little north of Onalaska. It was really hot again, so we all had a good time swimming. But then some kid pooped in the pool and we were all kicked out. The boys were really antsy to just get to the hotel. We checked in about as early as we could and immediately went swimming there since we all still had our suits on.

For dinner we went to Buzzard Billy’s. It was the one restaurant I researched that I didn’t want to miss. Unfortunately, we had an extremely long wait on the food and Shepard was SO cranky about it, kind of ruining the experience. But it was delicious once it came!

We ended the night at Grandad Bluff. So pretty!

We were so color coordinated, without even trying!

I spent most of the time watching these people that kept walking around, laying and relaying blankets down, standing backwards, and cuddling right at the edge of the cliff.

Anyway, it was a good evening. We went back to the hotel and got the boys to bed and then we watched an episode of Better Call Saul on Greg’s laptop, with one earbud in each. The joys of hotel life with such different sleep schedules!

Friday morning is when things got tough. Long story short, while I was with the boys getting breakfast, Greg woke up to a bug biting him. It was a bedbug. He took photos and immediately went to the front desk and talked to the manager. They handled the entire thing like it was a national emergency. They wanted us to leave so they could inspect every inch of the room. While we were gone they must have found more because they moved us to a different room, gave us the hotel stay for free, AND insisted that we go on a shopping spree to replace all of the clothes and luggage we had with us, in case it was contaminated. They also told Greg if we ever want to come again to let them know we’d get another night free. They handled everything in about the best possible way, which is why I’m not going to out them to the world as a bedbug hotel. These things happen, and everything else about our stay both this time and a few years ago was fantastic. The bad thing, though…we were still exposed to bedbugs. And spent every single minute of the rest of the vacation worrying about that. And still worrying about it now.

Anyway, when we first left the hotel that morning, we didn’t have much of a plan other than to check out some river viewing spots before it got too hot. We went over into Minnesota and walked around, drove to a higher viewing point, and stopped to watch the lock and dam. The guys were mostly looking for new Pokemon.

We ate lunch at a place called Burger Fusion where you can design your own burgers from a huge list of possibilities. I don’t eat hamburgers, but chicken sandwiches were also an option.

After lunch we went to The Pearl ice cream shop where the boys split a cookie dough ice cream and I got a toasted marshmallow latte.

We went back to the hotel after that and went through the process of going through all of our items and then moving them to the new room. Greg and the boys went swimming while I figured out what the heck to do with all of our clothes. I had all of my best clothes with me. Almost all of which had to be ordered online because I can never find anything in stores that fit properly. I had three of my brand new Third Love bras with me and those are not cheap!! I also had my only three pairs of shorts, six brand new and awesome shirts, my favorite dress, and my only swimming suit and cover up. I couldn’t just ditch them all on the very tiny possibility they were contaminated. Yes, the bedbugs did exist in our room. But Greg is the only one who got bit. They couldn’t have been horrible. And all of our clothes were clear on the other side of the room from where our bed was. It just seemed so unlikely that after all the proper precautions, including extremely careful inspection and heat treatment, my clothes still needed to just get thrown away. Trust me, it has caused MANY arguments in the last three days, but I kept my things. All of Greg and the boys’ clothes they had with them – gone. My suitcase and their duffel bag too. And all the tote bags we had our food and electronics in. It sucked.

After swimming we headed over to Kohls with a long list of everything that needed replacing. Full blown shopping for every article of clothing for three people, plus a few extra things, is exhausting. Greg didn’t even know what size he wore in anything, but because all of his clothes are from Kohls anyway, we were able to find a lot of exact replacements. The boys were a lot harder because most of their summer clothes were either no longer in stock or hidden among clearance racks. Shepard definitely had opinions on what we picked out for him, but Caden started crying every time we asked him which color or style he liked better. Shopping to him is like the ULTIMATE worst thing in the entire world. I got new pajamas, the only thing I agreed to leave behind, even though they were my favorite. πŸ™ And I also got to pick out a new carry on bag, which I guess is the silver lining because my other one was pretty old. We managed to get all of that done in about an hour. I felt bad it was over $500, but that was even without replacing my things! The hotel reimbursed us without a bit of hesitation, though.

We headed to the farmer’s market next, which is the one thing in La Crosse I really wanted to do. It was still so hot, though, and crowded, and the rest of my family had no interest in being there. I bought a kohlrabi, the boys each had a glass of fresh pressed apple cider, and I had a glass of delicious sweet mint iced tea. I was so sore at that point, and stressed out. We needed to think of something else to do, but I was just done. Cranky and tired and overwhelmed by everything. I wasn’t super hungry, but we still needed to eat, so we finally decided to just go where everyone wanted to go – even if it’s the same food we could buy at home. Shepard picked Culver’s. Chicken tenders for literally the eighth meal in a row.

Caden wanted a “sub” (turkey and mustard) and chips. Greg and I ended at Burracho’s because it was across the street from the hotel and I didn’t want to drive back into La Crosse for something more unique.

We ended Friday night with more swimming. I enjoyed more hot tub time. It was a long day! Honestly, the boys were great. The whole bedbug ordeal, though. Not fun.

On Saturday morning I took the boys down to the pool while Greg packed everything up. They love the pool and hot tub there so much!

Their favorite part is the indoor/outdoor aspect of the pool. They were just having the greatest time in the world swimming between the barrier and alternating between the pool and the hot tub. It made me realize if we just have very low expectations and actually listen to what THEY want to do, family vacations can be really fun. It’s been so long since we’ve been on one just the four of us. Probably about three years! They were always so disastrous in the past that we switched to just Greg and I going on mini trips, or me going by myself because I’m the one who loves traveling the most. But this was fun! And it was good for us.

We parted ways around ten on Saturday. Greg and the boys went back home to do some Pokemon hunting and pick up Annie. I had to check out the La Crosse TJMaxx (after my two day detox), a gift shop I always like seeing in town, and the craft mall in the Dells. I got back home mid afternoon and snuggled with my pup!

And that was our trip! Overall, a success. If the bedbug incident hadn’t happened, it would have been great. Alas, Greg is still mad at me for keeping my clothes and annoyed that I refused to let them sit in bags in the sun for two weeks (because I had a WET swimsuit in one of the bags, plus ALL OF MY SHORTS AND BRAS). It was pretty dang hot when they sat out yesterday, plus I washed and dried them on heavy duty loads on the hottest settings today. I think they’re fine. And if they turn out not to be, I will take full responsibility on de-infesting our house. πŸ˜›

So, no Sunday Intention post this week. I’m still so tired. Trying to get caught up after being gone a week. Trying to prepare for babysitting Hudson for three days when no part of our house is baby proofed and he is very much on the move! Trying to figure out when the in the world I can get back to work in the next few weeks. And feeling both sad that summer is coming to an end and our calendar is filled with so many things, yet still not enough of the fun things I had wanted to do. And feeling excited that FALL IS COMING and my life will finally get back to normal. It’s a confusing time, the middle of August. πŸ™‚ But we power on!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 08.05.2018

As you can see, I’m already completely failing at my daily writing goal. I promised that on August 1st and haven’t written since. Though in my defense, I have barely been home the last four days, and when I have been home, the internet wasn’t working! When I’m home and the internet IS working, I’ve been being plagued by pretty frequent headaches that leave me not wanting to do a single dang thing. But I’m powering through and WILL write today because a lot happened in this past week that is worth recording!

On Sunday, Dianne and I managed to fit in a little time together before I dropped her off at the airport. We talk every day, but it sure is nice when we can see each other in person! I was supposed to visit her last April, but had to postpone because of my broken ankle. But bearing any other accidents, I am booked to go again in October!

We ate at Bel Air Cantina in Madison. Greg and I went there last year, I think around my birthday. The food was great, but it was so crowded with college students we couldn’t hear each other talk. But a Sunday in the middle of a summer afternoon was perfect timing! They have some delicious taco combinations. I picked a salsa verde chicken taco, Korean beef, and Ninja pig, which was like pork with hoisin sauce and slaw. So tasty.

After I dropped Dianne at the airport I did my grocery shopping while I was in the area and without kids! I spent the rest of the night working, desperately trying to make major progress.

Monday another headache hit me. They seem to be happening so often lately. Dehydration? Not enough sleep? I’m actually getting more sleep than I get during the school year, but I’m also rarely getting my daily nap. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it sucks. And I take enough ibuprofen for ankle related pain that I try really hard not to take any extras for things like headaches. Sometimes, like today, I just need to give in.

On Monday night, I had another dinner date with some of my craft night ladies. We tried out a restaurant in Lake Mills called El Mariachi. I was shocked at how busy it was for a tiny town later on a Monday night, but I guess that’s a testament to how good it is!

I had taquitos on a bed of salsa verde topped with regular taco toppings. Maybe not much to look at, but it was really delicious! And fun to have a night out with friends. They’re SO hard to organize that I’ve mostly given up in the last year. But it’s worth it when it does work out.

In the meantime, Greg and the boys were at my parents’ house having dinner with them and my brothers and Hudson. I would have gone, but it was planned after my friend dinner and I didn’t want to back out.

On Tuesday I was bound and determined to get my dolls done. But I also wanted to make sure I had some quality time with the boys. We went on a longer walk along the cemetery in the morning. After lunch we walked to Sharrow’s, a coffee/ice cream/gift shop just a few blocks away that I always forget to go to. The boys had ice cream and I had coffee. It was a fun break in the day. I even found a delightful bonfire scented candle to carry me through August before I can start burning apple and cinnamon scents in September!

On Wednesday morning we went school supply shopping. Wisconsin had five days of tax free school supplies, clothes, etc. This is normally when we’d go anyway, so it seemed like good timing. Everything gets so picked over into August anyway. It was crazy as usual, but we got everything we needed.

I had big plans to FINALLY research vacation things in the afternoon, BUT the internet was down! No reason why, just hours without it working. It magically came back on later in the day, so I spent the whole night planning out my Minnesota trip in a few days. It was so much fun puzzling together everywhere I wanted to go and eat for the perfect itinerary.

It was kind of a spur of the moment decision, but on Thursday I ended up taking the boys to the State Fair. We fully intended on going on Monday with my parents, but I kept looking at the weather and Thursday’s forecast looked SO much better. If it ended up being too hot or stormy on Monday we wouldn’t have gone anyway, so it made more sense just to head over on Thursday. Plus Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson were going to be there that day, so we got to have a few hours with them which the boys were super pumped about.

We spent the first hour just sitting in this spot waiting for them, which in hindsight was a pretty bad idea. I didn’t want to get too far ahead of them in looking at stuff, but the idleness was pushing Shepard into a pretty cranky mood that lasted the entire day. I should have learned from last year when the fair was also off to a bad start because we spent way too much time trying to meet up with everyone. Though that was hard because everyone kept moving! Which is why we decided to stay put this year. At any rate, it was fine once we found each other!

We went to the WI Products building for our yearly bag of apple cider donuts. As usual Hudson has no idea who I am or why I’m taking a picture with him!

Shepard and I had grilled cheeses for our late morning breakfast. That’s all he ended up eating for the day. He was so cranky because he wanted me to buy him a Pikachu stuffed animal at one of their crappy toy booths and I refused because he doesn’t play with ANY toys, least of all stuffed animals! Plus Annie would have taken it and destroyed it in five seconds. Later he was throwing a fit because he wanted to go on the trampolines. And the last few hours he wouldn’t stop whining and crying because he wanted an expandable ball. He didn’t think he could live without any of those things.

Checking out the hot tubs! Hudson likes this one.

Normally the building with all the little booths is one of my favorite parts, but I knew it would just make Shepard want sooooo many more things. So we cut down the middle, which just happened to be the perfect spot because we got to try dip samples at like five different booths! Then we ended at the beef sticks. These were my favorite thing to get growing up and they’re Caden’s favorite now. I’ve never seen this Vienna beef stick in a store, though I did just figure out where to buy them online! Might be a birthday present this year. I’ll buy it the week between Caden’s and my birthday. πŸ™‚

I let them do the trampolines. They did outdoor jumping last year, so I guess this needs to be an annual thing.

We stopped in a little park area for awhile so Hudson could move around. He loved it!

One of the new fair foods Caden really wanted to try was flamin’ hot corn on the cob. I thought I did a very good job describing it to him ahead of time so he knew what he was getting into, but he didn’t even want to touch it when I put it in front of him. He eventually took a tiny bite, spit it all over the table, and cried for awhile. I spent $5 on it, so I took a bite – gross. Timmy reluctantly finished it off.

Trying to get Hudson to settle down for a nap because he was up early.

The new food I wanted to try were WI Hot Chicken Bombs. It was a combination of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and corn rolled into a ball and deep fried. Then it was injected with gravy and coated with Nashville hot sauce. Unfortunately, I was not really a fan. I mostly ate one and gave the other to Timmy (he took over my dad’s job of eating everyone’s leftover food this year). I’m kind of bummed that this is the second or third year in a row of not finding any super delicious things to eat. I had other things on my list, but by the time I got this I was just tired of spending so much money on junky food and just plain wasn’t in the mood to hunt anything else out. Next year…

Normally we do animal buildings first, but it was our last stop this year. We all loved this super sweet and gentle goat that LOVED getting his face and neck scratched!

Around noon I hit 10,000 steps and my ankle was DONE. Four straight hours of walking was quite the accomplishment. Despite the cool weather forecast, it was also pretty hot in the blasting sun and crowds. I think it was a successful trip overall, though. Shepard was difficult, but he could have been worse. Caden was FANTASTIC. How often can I say that?! And it was fun to spend the morning with Hudson.

Fortunately, I was able to fit in an afternoon nap because I had more plans Thursday night. I went to see the Rachel Hollis documentaryΒ Made for More. It was playing as a special event movie in theaters all around the country. It was really great! Very motivational and empowering for women to watch. They added an additional showing on August 13th, and I highly recommend seeing it! Or at the very least, reading her book!!

I planned to spend Friday morning packing for the weekend, baking a bunch of things, and doing more research for our LaCrosse vacation. BUT the internet was down again. Greg was still home so he called Charter and it took the entire morning to fix. And because our modem and router are in the kitchen, I couldn’t do my internet stuff OR my kitchen stuff. It was obviously nobody’s fault, but it was a very stressful and frustrating half a day of not doing anything I planned on doing. I hate when that happens.

On Friday evening, we headed to Hayes Resort in Fox Lake, where Greg’s parents rented a cottage for the weekend.

The boys were a little anxious and not fans of the concept of RELAXATION, but it was a pretty perfect night of sitting out by the lake. Not too hot, very few bugs, and a nice peaceful breeze.

The property definitely could have used some upgrades. For example, this was “the beach.” Kind of hilarious. But it didn’t stop the kids from loving a big pile of sand either!

I had some problems walking around because the entire resort is on a steep hill. My ankle does not like hills! I was pretty sore Friday night, but I wore my brace on Saturday and it was a lot better. I just kept having visions of myself falling and re-hurting myself all over again, so I had to walk at a snail’s pace.

We had tacos for dinner and ate at a picnic table next to the cottage. Then Steve and Shepard built a fire next to the water and we had s’mores for dessert. It was really nice!

Despite how gross the water looked, they realllly wanted to go in. It’s always so funny when they wade into water and hold their shorts up.

I stayed until about 7:45 and then went home to be with Annie. I was hoping to just chillax having the house to myself – which NEVER EVER happens at night. But I ended up cleaning the bathroom, doing a bunch of dishes, sweeping all the floors, make peanut butter fudge, and then finally settled in to have a snack, read, do a sheet mask, and go to sleep about 10:45.

I was hoping to sleep in a bit, but that never happens. I did, however, lounge in bed and read for an hour which was great! Then I was running around trying to make scones and get everything prepped to head back to the cottage.

I dropped Annie off at my mom’s for the day so she could have some fun and then joined everyone. Greg’s aunt and uncle and cousin and her family were there too. Sometime overnight they managed to find a boat they could use. The boys loved it, but it was a lot of work for Greg!

It was a pretty hot day, but also very windy which balanced everything out – a bit. All the kids had a blast running around and playing. The adults had a little more chance to relax! We had a big lunch of brats and hot dogs, which the guys expertly cooked over the fire, corn on the cob, fruit and veggies, chips, and a variety of desserts.

Shepard and Trevor were kind of off in their own worlds, but Caden and Melody were having so much fun playing together! Caden is always so good with younger kids and babies.

Sitting on the docks while Shepard “fished,” Caden swam, and Melody kept running back and forth between them. It was making me too nervous so I didn’t stay long. πŸ™‚

No qualms about the green water after he got in the first time. Ick.

It was a really nice day! I’m wildly impressed with how organized Steve and Cindy were with so many full meals all prepped and ready, plus all the towels and toys and chairs and accessories. I’m sure it was super exhausting, but they never let it show! We all had a really good time. Greg and I went back home for the night, but the boys stayed with them last night too.

That’s it for the week! It was packed! But really fun too. The way summer is supposed to be, right?!

Sunday Intentions

This week I just intend to have more fun! Tomorrow is our only normal day of the week with Greg at work and me madly trying to make sure everything is ready to go. Because early Tuesday morning I’m heading out on my solo Minnesota vacation! I revolved the trip around going to a Colleen Hoover signing/presentation. But I’m planning on checking in at all my favorite stores, eating a lot of delicious food, driving by our old house and apartment, possibly stopping in at Panera to see if anyone I know still works there 10 years later, and basically just enjoying 2.5 days of being entirely by myself! It will be AMAZING.

On Thursday I’m driving back and meeting up with Greg and the boys in LaCrosse for two more nights of family vacation. I have yet to plan that one out, other than noting a few restaurants that looked good. So that’s on the agenda for this afternoon. There’s A LOT on today’s agenda and I still have this terrible headache. We’ll see how much gets done!

Have a good week!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 07.22.2018

One more week of summer behind us. One week closer to school starting again. While this week wasn’t as emotionally destroying as last week, it was still very busy and kind of rough. My kids sure know how to push my buttons to wear me down. Overall, they’ve actually been behaving pretty well. But they need SO MUCH direction and corralling and negotiating and it just sucks the life right out of me. Especially since the worst of it happens before seven in the morning. I am DESPERATELY missing my alone time, missing my quiet mornings, missing having any semblance of control over my life without having to argue and plead and beg to make things happen. It’s EXHAUSTING. I don’t want to wish away the rest of summer because I feel like we haven’t even done any of the things I wanted to do yet. But I’m also pretty dang tired and the appeal of fall and new starts and having seven blessed hours to myself again is getting stronger every day.

Anyway, I will start my reflections with last Saturday, since I last wrote on Friday. It was a good day! My mom took the boys and brought them to Shepard’s friend’s birthday party at the pool. Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson met them there and they swam together. Meanwhile, Greg and I went to Milwaukee for his cousin Corrin’s wedding.

The wedding was at the Milwaukee Public Museum. It was really hot out, so they advised that we stay inside the lobby until right before the ceremony started. All the chairs were set out in a little tree filled courtyard that was really cute. The ceremony lasted about five minutes – or less, but hey, I’ll take it!!

There was a lot of down time in between the ceremony and dinner, so Greg’s uncle brought us over to the hotel where most of them were spending the night. We hung out with a lot of the family in their room and then went back to the reception at the museum. It was pretty cool because we had the whole museum to ourselves! There were tables set up in the old Milwaukee portion of the museum and food stations with a variety of unique dining options. It was definitely the most unique weddings I’ve ever been to.

I especially enjoyed the mini desserts! Overall, it was just a really great night. Possibly one of the only drama free weddings I’ve ever attended. πŸ™‚ I was originally bummed that kids were not allowed because the boys LOVE wedding receptions, but it ended up being great to have an adults only evening. We don’t get many of those!

On Sunday I decided to check out the Columbus farmers market and bought a giant pretzel and a package of bacon. Greg wasn’t feeling the greatest, which was unfortunate. We had our annual CDW paid for Mallard’s tickets, the game each summer where we get to sit in the TDS seats which include unlimited food. We take my parents every year as a Father’s Day present. Sadly, it was just SO HOT, nobody could enjoy it at all. Greg didn’t even watch any part of the game. He was walking around with the boys. I think we left in the third inning. It was disappointing because I usually have so much fun at this game each year. The weather just made it miserable, though.

Back at home we had a very low key afternoon, trying to cool off. I heated up and added salt and butter to the pretzel I bought in the morning. It was delicious! And it came with four different dips, which was awesome. I really wanted to go to this Ping Pong Float thing that was happening at the pool at 6:00. I planned on just bringing the boys because Greg still wasn’t feeling the best. But of course, 5:30 rolls around and the boys say they don’t want to go. I tried to explain how fun it would be and all the prizes they could win. Nope, didn’t want to go. My theory is that they didn’t want to go because I’M the one that did. I decided not to push it and just went about my work. At 6:20 they came running up to me begging to go to the pool. No! I was so angry! They just want the power and control over everything and I’m so tired of it.

On Monday morning I had that appointment with the podiatrist to check on my toe. She looked at it and said that it no longer looked infected, but if I want a better chance of it never happening again, she’d be happy to cut off half my toenail. I was like uh…no? It really felt like at this point it would be making the problem so much worse. The whole appointment was pretty bizarre and we left it with me saying I’d call her if I change my mind. I don’t think I’m going to change my mind, especially after googling exactly what a toenail procedure might look like…

Anyway, I’ve been trying to come up with healthier things to feed everyone during the day. So we stopped at the store for a few ingredients and I made my first green smoothies for lunch. I used spinach, pineapple, banana, and cantaloupe. They weren’t terrible! But I probably should have used some ice since none of those ingredients were particularly cold to begin with. I prepped a bunch of other smoothie bags for the freezer that I fully intended on using every day. I have yet to make a second batch.

Of course I counteracted my smoothies by making a twix pie to go with dinner. Anyway, most of Monday just turned out to be pretty stressful. I’m worn down by kids always around and ALWAYS needing things from me. I’m stressed out that I’m not getting any of my actual work done because other things constantly need my attention. I was also angry because when I told the boys about the plans for Tuesday morning – which were written very clearly on my big weekly calendar on the fridge to avoid these things happening – they both FREAKED OUT because they had a Minecraft date set up with their friends. I’m glad they’re having so much fun with their friends this summer, I really am. It does make my life easier, overall. But I feel like I’ve lost all control. I can’t plan anything without them feeling like it’s a huge conflict with their own plans. This kind of stuff wasn’t supposed to be happening yet when they’re only 9 and 7! We can’t even go on our morning walk with Annie without them constantly telling me we have to be back at a certain time. THEY ARE NOT IN CONTROL. And yet, they are.

Despite the freaking out, Tuesday morning went pretty smoothly. We left very early and went to Yahara Heights Dog Park in Waunakee. It was so beautiful! All the Dane County dog parks seem to be amazing! I so wish we didn’t have to drive 30-60 minutes to get to all of them. It’s basically a full morning commitment anytime we want to go to one.

We picked this out because it had water access, but it ended up being pretty scary for Annie. Up until now she’s only been in water twice and that was when it had a beach type opening. This one had huge rocks along the edges with a dock going into the water. Most of the dogs were just jumping off the dock. There was a ramp at the edge of the dock going into the water and Annie eventually walked on it and started swimming. And then she realized she didn’t know how to get back to shore or back to the ramp. She was pretty much drowning and flopping around going underwater while she was trying to figure out how to get back up to the dock. I had to reach down into the water and pull her in. The whole thing only lasted a few seconds, but it was pretty traumatic!

She got over it pretty quickly and started doing her crazy mode running through the long prairie fields and then started rolling around like crazy in the long wet grass. It was hilarious!

Tuesday was also Prime Day, so I spent most of the afternoon just wasting time online looking for details. It was also release day for the latest Colleen Hoover book. She’s my favorite author – the reason I’m going to MN next month so I can see her at a book signing for this book.

Caden had another therapy session on Tuesday afternoon. I’d say it went pretty well this time. Well, he spent the majority of the time talking to Caden at least. I like when that happens.

The only big event on Wednesday is that we took Annie to a new groomer that just opened up in Fall River. This is only Annie’s second grooming experience, but she desperately needed it. Her long hair gets SO matted around her legs and ears. She won’t let me cut them out myself, so grooming is necessary. I think it went really well! She looks all cleaned up now.

Thursday was just a busy day of doing all kinds of odds and ends. It was our at home date night, but also my craft night, so the date portion was pretty short! I made this BLT salad for dinner which was pretty delish. Then three of my friends came over for the night and we worked on our crafts!

Friday, more work. I had a custom order for a dark brown skinned Annie. I posted this picture on my Heartstring Annie page and people went nuts over her. I made two others to list on etsy, but so far no takers. Sales have really been down the last few weeks, which is frustrating. Especially after how well I did last month.

On Saturday we decided to go on another dog park adventure since the weather was beautiful and we didn’t have any other plans for the day. Annie spent most of the drive on a kids’ lap. Our next vehicle really needs to be a bit bigger! πŸ™‚

This sitting position was really funny until she opened the window with her paw and almost fell out the window on the beltline, which she surely would not have survived!! Fortunately I happened to be looking behind me and was able to grab her and shove her back in the vehicle! Annie is sure having a death-defying week!

This time we went to Lake Farm County Dog Park in Madison. Again – beautiful!

I really liked this one with its rolling hills, fields of wildflowers, and sand paved walking trails. It was a pretty quick and easy drive compared to some of the other parks we’ve been to, so I’ll definitely be back. I can’t wait until fall when I can take Annie on my own and we can stay as long as we want without any child whining! Plus the cooler weather and colored leaves – it’ll be amazing.

I spent the rest of the day working. I’m not doing so well on my no working on nights or weekend rule. It’s just so hard to get things done during the weekdays. So…whatever. I’ll do what I need to do, when I need to do it! I loved how these rainbow girls turned out. It’s another new pattern I made myself. So far no buyers either, though. πŸ™

Anyway, that was the week! Still a lot of emotions over the whole Hudson moving away thing. But…it’s happening and there’s nothing I can do about it and I’m sick of rehashing it over and over. I’m still very sad about the entire thing, especially with how everything happened. But, probably not appropriate to go too much into it on this public space, so I’ll leave it at that! We’re very sad.

This Week

Well, I thought the last few weeks were busy, but this next week is insane! This whole month just blows my mind. I realize MANY people are a whole lot busier than we are and that’s just their life and it’s fine. But we actively try to basically never have things on the calendar, committing to nothing lol. So to have something going on almost every day of the month feels crazy. I’m actually quite proud of how well I’m handling it! It’s good to stay busy right now, otherwise the days feel way too long.

Starting with today, my sister-in-law Sarah is in town and we’re having dinner with her and Greg’s parents in a bit. On Monday morning we’re going to hang out with my mom, Timmy, and Hudson for maybe our last time before they move. πŸ™ On Monday night I’m going to see the newΒ Mamma Mia movie with an acquaintance I’ve never hung out with before. She always seems open to doing girls night type things, so maybe this is the start of a friendship. On Tuesday night we’re picking Greg’s other sister Melissa up at the Amtrak and going to dinner somewhere. On Wednesday I’m planning to run errands in the morning and in the evening Greg is doing something with his family and I’ll be on my own with the boys. On Thursday the peach/blueberry truck comes again and I’m stocking up on blueberries. In the evening, if the weather is good, we’re going to this Summer Bodega festival in Madison. And on Friday, my best friend Dianne is flying in, so I’m picking her up at the airport and we’re having a night out before I bring her to her dad’s. Busy busy!! But it should be a lot of fun too. No annoying appointments this week! Just fun stuff, day after day.

My only intention for the week is to enjoy everything and not lose my cool, thinking about all the stuff I’m not getting done while I’m enjoying family and friend time. I hope to get a little bit of work done, but I’m not going to stress about it. I even let my customers know today that I’m no longer taking custom orders. It’s frustrating and insulting that after every time I list new dolls, I have a handful of people messaging me, asking me to make something very similar to what I just made, but smaller, cheaper, or very slightly different. It makes me angry and I’m refusing to deal with it anymore. At least in the next few months. I feel much lighter because of it!

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. Have a good week!

Sunday Intentions 07.08.2018

Summer is officially here now that summer school is over and I’m back to full time parenting for the next two months. I’m terrified! In some ways it gets easier the older my kids are. In many ways it gets a whole lot harder. If they have friends available to play, they’re happy and content to find things to do on their own. If nobody is around, they whine and argue and have a million reasons why they shouldn’t do any of the things I suggest or ask of them. It makes for some extremely long and trying days.

I think the only way to combat all the problems I see arising in my immediate future is to make lists. Many, many lists. That is my main intention for the week. First, I need to make a list of all the ways they can get a check mark to earn video game time (ten checks = one hour of game time). We’ve been doing this system for a few months now and it seems to work pretty well – except they NEVER want to do actual work. They only want to get the easy checkmarks. And they still ask us eight million times a day what they can do to earn a check – usually by 6am when it is the last thing in the world I feel like dealing with (I HATE starting every day with this question). Especially because they want to argue about or flat out refuse every single thing we suggest. So I’m going to make a list. They ask me, I say look at the list. No arguing, no negotiating, hopefully no more asking me over and over and over again.

I also want to work with the boys on a list of things they’d like to do before school starts. I usually aim for 1-2 day trips a week to different parks, festivals, restaurants, etc. The problem I see with that this year is that they never really want to go anywhere or do anything. Thinking up the list might be harder than it’s be in the past. But maybe they’ll surprise me. Or maybe they’ll reinforce the idea that they really just want to stay in town and do things with their friends. And if that’s the case, I’ll try to respect that choice and try to make more playdates happen, even though arranging them always stresses me out.

I definitely want to make a list of new dog parks to check out in the Madison area. I’d really like to go to one once a week. If I have a solid list of the top ten or so that look intriguing, it’ll make actually going out in the future so much easier.

And finally, I want to make a list of events or things that I want to do to make ME happy. I see so many events on facebook that look interesting, but almost never actually go to anything. Part of the reason is that I just never know who to ask to go with me, and it’s kind of depressing going to everything alone. While I do value my alone time – especially in summer when I never seem to get it – it still kind of sucks going craft fairs and movies and things like that by myself. Experience has told me that my friends never really want to do things in the evenings and it’s given me a bit of a complex, trying to avoid any more rejections because I’m way too sensitive and upset by them. But, whether I do them alone or not, I want a list of things I WILL do. I think I’ll be a lot happier if I have special events on the calendar that I can look forward to every week or two. I find it really easy to get depressed in summer. Much more so than in winter, which is maybe odd. But I think I’ll feel a lot more cheerful if I’m actively making plans to get out of the house for something FUN.

Anyway, looking to our week ahead – I was hoping to kind of ease into this whole new summer routine, but it’s actually a pretty busy week. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning to check out a toe I’ve been having a problem with for over two months. On Tuesday I’m getting a haircut. On Wednesday I have x-rays and an appointment with the surgeon (hopefully the last one) to make sure everything is still looking healed and on track. On Thursday Caden has a playdate over at a friend’s house. And on Saturday the boys and Annie are having a sleepover at Grandma’s while Greg and I go to his cousin’s wedding. And on Sunday we’re going to a Mallard’s game and maybe to a pool event in the evening. Granted it’s just one thing a day Monday-Wednesday, but one thing a day dragging kids along can be exhausting! Especially when we need to also work in a half day to run errands, and hopefully a day to go to a dog park too. All while still trying to put in at least a couple of hours a day working. It’ll all get done and it’s probably actually good we have places to be almost every day. I’m just a bit nervous about everything. But the lists will help!

Once again, I’m not yet prepared to share a meal plan! Though I am planning to have jalapeno popper chicken tomorrow night. And potatoes, I think. And maybe some sort of peach pie/tart/crisp to use up the rest of the peaches. The rest of the week – who knows! πŸ™‚

Sunday Intentions 07.01.2018

I think this might be the most boring Sunday Intentions post I’ll ever write. I’ve really got nothing, guys. I feel LOUSY this weekend. Very much like I did last Sunday, but for different reasons. I caught some sort of cold/cough thing from the boys a few days ago and the coughing part has been rough. I ended up not going to the Mallard’s game last night because I was hacking so much and could barely sit up and thought I just might die feeling like that AND going into a crowd of tightly packed people on a 100+ degree day. The coughing has greatly subsided today, but my body feels completely out of whack. Almost like a flu. But without the fever. At least I think without a fever, I haven’t checked. Anyway, I’ve really done nothing today but read and take short naps. It stinks. I wanted to get so much done on this rare summer Sunday without any plans. But…it’s not happening.

Anyway! It’s July. It’s the last week of summer school, which I have very mixed feelings about. It’ll be nice not to have to get everyone rallied and ready by a certain time every morning. And it’ll be fun to start going on more day trips and dog park adventures. But I really don’t think the boys are going to handle so much unstructured time very well. I’m anticipating twelve hours a day of begging, whining, and negotiating for all their various screen time desires. They definitely know how to wear me down to the point of giving in because I’m just so exasperated and exhausted by it all. I’m hoping I can still work at least a few hours a day, but the days can get pretty unpredictable. But I guess I can stress out and talk about this next week.

This week should be good. 4th of July on Wednesday. We don’t have any solid plans yet, but plenty of options. I always like to watch at least part of the gigantic Columbus parade. It’s just always so hot! Why don’t they have the parade start in the morning instead of noon?? One of Caden’s friends is having a big bash at their house, so we might stop by there in the afternoon. And presumably we’ll walk to the park to watch the fireworks at night. With my ankle and the heat I’m not really in the mood to make solid plans yet. Summer weather makes me grumpy. So does having an ankle that never seems like it’s going to fully heal.

I guess the most exciting news this week is that Hudson turns ONE on Friday!! It was a fast year! I’m very excited to see him at his birthday party next Sunday. Love that little guy so much!

My main intention for the week is to just survive it! πŸ™‚ Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a whole lot better than I did today. I originally planned on running some errands on Thursday night, then Friday night, then Saturday morning, then at any point today – and it didn’t happen. And each day I think of more stores and more things I need to pick up, so tomorrow is going to be full blown errand running as quickly as possible while the boys are at school. The rest of the days I hope to get a lot of work in. Or if I don’t feel like working – revel in my last few mornings to myself before two months of kid filled chaos.

And that’s about it. Happy 4th of July!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 06.24.2018

We’re halfway done with summer school and almost done with June, and I finally feel like I’ve got a little bit better of a grip on summer life. I tried to be really in tune this week to what I needed and made it happen. I took the days a little slower, didn’t push myself so hard – at least not every day – and enjoyed everything a bit more. I hope to get better at this in the next few months, fully taking advantage of this short season of life before schedules get rigid and hectic again come September.

On Monday I had an early dentist appointment and ran a few errands. It was raining (most of the week, actually), and I was exhausted, and I was finally able to take an afternoon nap while the boys did some gaming. It was weird to take an entire day off of work. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, which was a bit disconcerting, but also a nice change from the frantic stress I usually feel every day.

Tuesday was pretty slow too. I’ve been trying to start my days by reading instead of working. It’s so hard to get past that NEED to be productive the second I’m out of bed. But I feel so much happier and more calm when I slowly ease into the morning instead. The only other thing of note that happened Tuesday is I walked to the library! Exciting stuff this week, guys. πŸ™‚

On Wednesday, I was in the mood for a little fun! I stopped in the morning at a grocery store to buy a bunch of produce. Then I went to the Pardeeville Antique Mall and found all these goodies for my dolls. I haven’t been there since last fall, so it was fun to poke around. I haven’t been feeling super inspired with new ideas lately, and finding fun accessories always sparks my imagination.

On the way home I stopped at Johnson’s Sausage Shoppe for the first time. I was way too excited to go into a big meat market filled with pre-marinated meats and new flavors of things we love. We haven’t tried any of it yet, but hopefully this will be a new source for meal inspiration!

I then spent the entire afternoon cutting up produce. Literally. I wish the pre-cut stuff wasn’t so expensive! My reward for all my hard work was a big batch of mango salsa, which was DELISH. Also – have you had honey mangoes? I’ve never bought them because they look smaller than normal ones and if I’m already going to the work of cutting mangoes I want the biggest value! But honey mangoes were on sale too and Caden and I LOVE mangoes and oh my goodness, these were amazing! The sale is on for a few more days, so I’m planning to go stock up on a bunch more tomorrow.

Wednesday was also another pretty lame at home date night. I made bourbon chicken and we took Annie to the dog park. I think it’s about time we have another real date one of these days. It’s already been a month since our anniversary!

Thursday was a BIG work day. I had a Craft Night planned, so I needed to get my dolls to a certain point (stained and dried) before the craft night started, so I’d have something to work on that didn’t take up the entire table. I thought I’d reach that point by like 11am, but I was still madly rushing to finish at 4. I was stressed out and mad at myself for not planning better. I kept thinking I should just work on a different FUN project in the evening. I used to have those! Embroidery and mohair animals that take up minimal space and give me a break from doll making. But…I wanted to finish the dolls. Anyway, Laura is the only one who came to the craft night, which was just fine! We had a good time catching up while getting a little bit of work done!

I finished dolls up on Friday morning and after school we went over to my mom’s house to help her babysit Hudson. Except the boys were in awful moods and I’m sure we just made the afternoon a lot more exhausting to her!

We only stayed a few hours and then went home.

Still trying to have some positive and memorable interactions, I had a farmer’s market date planned with Caden. But then despite the fact that he was fully ready to go at 6:30 on Saturday morning, he refused to walk out the door. So after an exasperating five minutes of pleading, I left with Shepard. Again.

It was a good morning for the market! The weather was great after raining all week and it wasn’t that busy yet. Shepard was LOVING all the samples, especially cheese. Which was funny because he’s not really much of a cheese eater. But samples are samples, right?! He picked a giant cinnamon roll for his breakfast again and we got another one for Greg and a donut for Caden. I had my delicious morning bun, which I saved for today. And cranberry walnut bread, which is my all time favorite. We splurged on those homemade crackers which are AMAZING but so expensive. Shepard thinks we’re sharing them, but I hid them away to eat with brie because he can’t appreciate how good they really are. πŸ™‚ We also got radishes, cilantro, and two kinds of that bread/fry cheese. Shepard was so obsessed with it!

Saturday turned out to be a lot crazier than I was expecting! If I knew we were going to be so busy, I wouldn’t have gone to the market. But it was all a lot of fun! Around noon Timmy and Hudson came over for a pizza lunch and then we went to the pool. Hudson wasn’t much of a fan, so I spent most of the time sitting with him and observing the swimmers while he downed a ton of goldfish crackers. The guys all got to do some real swimming then.

We went back to my parents’ after swimming for an impromptu cookout and campfire. It was a little chaotic, but a fun evening!

My mom found the first doll I ever made when I was around eight years old! A few years ago when they were thinking about moving and we were looking through our old things, I was trying to find this doll. I didn’t, so I assumed she was gone forever. Nope!

I was finding great amusement in watching Hudson try to feed himself sweet potatoes while the dogs swarmed around trying to get a taste!

Finishing the night with s’mores around the campfire.

Annie was trying to get into more things than Hudson, so it was kind of an exhausting day! I’m pretty beat today! Between keeping Annie from jumping fences and eating food off tables and stepping on Hudson, carrying Hudson around a lot, being outside most of the day during the worst of allergy season, walking on uneven surfaces all day without my brace on, and just plain not getting enough sleep – I am pretty much dead today. But I think it was worth it! πŸ™‚

Sunday Intentions

It’s a pretty quiet week again – thank goodness! The only real thing on the calendar is another therapy session for Caden. I can’t believe it’s already been a month since the last one! The peach and blueberry truck comes on Thursday, so I’m looking forward to getting more fresh produce. They have the best fruit! And Greg took a random vacation day on Friday, so I’m hoping we can maybe have a morning movie date while the boys are summer school. And Saturday we’re going to a Mallard’s game with Greg’s parents.

My intention for this week is to keep being aware of what my body and mind actually need, instead of just pushing to keep checking things off my to do lists. I’d like to walk a little further each morning with Annie. My orthotics have really been helping keep the plantar fasciitis pain at bay, so I think it’s time to challenge myself a little bit more. But also take rest days when I need it. Like today, when I’m swollen for the first time in weeks. πŸ™ I want to start a fresh batch of dolls, but also not freak out about getting to a certain point every day. I think the best way to keep myself in check is to stop letting myself work in the evenings. I rarely do these days, but I know from experience how much better life goes if I insist on giving myself actual work hours with a real stopping time. So, 1:00 when the boys get home, or 4:00ish when I need to start dinner, if they’re off with their friends in the afternoons.

Well, I think I need to end this post. I’m just feeling SO fuzzy and out of it today. I need a reading break! And maybe a nap. πŸ™‚

Late Weekend Reflections 06.18.2018: Summer School, Alice in Wonderland, and Father’s Day

I’ve been struggling with what to say about this past week. It wasn’t an easy week. I felt very overwhelmed, stressed, completely wiped out, overworked, irritable, and angry. There is really nothing to blame for any of it, except that it was a busy week. The busiest I’ve had since I broke my ankle. It also felt like the first week in almost four months that I suddenly had to take back over all my original responsibilities. Walking the boys to school, walking Annie, taking Annie to the dog park, actually taking her outside to go potty because she refuses to go for the boys anymore, running errands four of the five days of the week, driving the boys places, picking them up, packing not one, but two meals a day for them, while also still making them breakfast and a late dinner and snacks in between. It was just a lot. While I was also working from 5am to 9pm with my only “breaks” being everything listed above. I was mad at myself for my workaholic tendencies that I just can’t seem to shake, while also wanting to lash out and blame the all the circumstances around me that make me feel like I NEED to work and cook and clean and do laundry every single waking minute of my life. This isn’t how I want to live. But it was a mindset I just couldn’t seem to get rid of last week.

At any rate, there were definitely a lot of high points to the week. The boys started summer school on Monday morning. Even though they had a lot of moaning and groaning about it, they ended up really like their classes. Even the running club that Caden was so mad about doing! He was actually pretty angry the alternating days this week where they did stretches and indoor activities instead of running outside. They’re both taking a class called Maker Space where they just create things out of everyday objects that has turned out to be both of their favorites. They’re still not thrilled about needing to go to school in the summer, but it definitely helps that they each like all four of their classes. And they have a meeting spot so they can sit together at lunch! It was pretty cute listening to them work out those details on the walk Monday morning.

On Monday afternoon the boys had their first play practice! It was three hours long and they learned the rules, had auditions, learned their parts, and started practicing! I ended up staying the whole time because I was waiting in great anticipation to see who was assigned which parts! The whole audition process was pretty crazy. Though after watching the play on Saturday I think they cast everyone perfectly. It was kind of amazing. Caden got the roll of Cook and Shepard was part of a very long caterpillar where they stuck all the youngest kids they didn’t know what else to do with. Shepard, who was most worried about the play, ended up really enjoying it. Caden wasn’t very happy with all the boring parts, but I think he enjoyed actually putting the play on in the end.

Tuesday was a big day because it’s the first time I took Annie for a walk since my broken ankle! I was a little nervous, but it went pretty well. I walked her every morning after that too. It feels good to get out with her, but also – painful. I have plantar fasciitis back in full force on my right foot. Something I suffer from every summer with the extra walks I do – though it tends to alternate which foot and never both at the same time. But one is painful enough to make walking kind of miserable. πŸ™ I’m supposed to be walking more to keep strengthening my ankle, but now it’s at the expense of my foot which is supposed to be rested when it gets this bad. I tried to compromise by only walking in the morning and having the boys come home on their own after school. I ordered some new orthotics and a special ice wrap for my foot to use during down time, so hopefully I’ll find some relief.

I’ve spared you guys the sight of my ankle/leg until now, but here’s how the scar is progressing. The shorter one on the inner part of my ankle looks the same. It’s quite the battle wound! Anyway, I’m showing it off because on Tuesday, at the end of my physical therapy session, the therapist told me I’m done! I was supposed to go a couple more weeks, but I’ve hit all my goals. In the previous week I started doing all those final things that I’ve been putting off – walking the boys to school, walking Annie, etc. I still need to work on strengthening exercises at home, but there wasn’t really anything else they could show me. I was really happy! Therapy was always fine once I got there, but I still hated having that on my schedule every week. Now I am free! Well, I have one more appointment with the surgeon next month, but after that I will hopefully be done with this. At least in an appointment sense! I heard it takes at least a solid year to be totally back to normal. πŸ™

On Wednesday I was already feeling the mental effects of doing too much, so rather than sit at home surrounded by my work, I decided to get out of the house to celebrate the end of physical therapy. I ran a few necessary errands and then got MOD for lunch, mostly so I could also buy a gift card for one of Greg’s Father’s Day gifts.

For fun, I meandered around Half Priced Books hunting down deals. I recently finished the bookΒ Life From Scratch and it reminded me how much I LOVE food memoirs. I’ve realized this year how much I love memoirs in general, but I particularly love ones that revolve around food. Food is such an integral part of every single person’s life and it’s fascinating to learn how many ways it touches people and influences their story. Half Priced Books turned out to be a great place for food writing books. I also picked upΒ Off the Clock from amazon to try and get myself better focused both on and off the clock to live a more meaningful life!

Thursday and Friday were more work days. It somehow always turns out that I’m racing against the clock trying to finish dolls while I still have enough natural light to take a good photo. I get frustrated on those days when I have to work at a faster pace than I’d like, rushing the final touches that make the dolls most unique and special. It made me extra crabby. I ended every night just feeling depleted. Even though the boys were out of the house for most of the day all five days of the week, I was just SO run down at the end of every night. And I hated it. I don’t want my summer to continue in this manner.

Saturday was the big day with two performances ofΒ Alice in Wonderland!Β I honestly had my doubts about how good this show would be after only a week to learn everything. But it was great! The kids did amazing! And everyone was so perfectly cast to fit their roles.

I had wanted to pick them up early on Friday to try and get a glimpse of how things were going, but I was too busy madly trying to get dolls listed before they were done. I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled for the show in the end. It really blew me away how great everyone did! Shepard made the most adorable little caterpillar.

Caden actually had a bigger part than I thought, with this trio doing a bunch of singing and dancing and a little comedy routine. He did great each show, but the second one he was SO into it. I loved watching them!

As of right now, they’re not interested in ever doing this again, but I think it was a good experience for them. And really fun for the family to come watch since the boys never really participate in any extracurricular activities. I’m a strong believer in letting kids be kids and not forcing them into things they don’t want to do. But for just a week of their time they got to learn new skills, make new friends, and ultimately really did have fun during the performances. I was very proud of them!

To celebrate, we went to Culver’s for dinner after the show with the family. Fun times!

Oh, so before the show on Saturday, I spent hours working on this crepe cake for Father’s Day. I wanted to make something fancy that I’d never make for just the four of us. Crepe cakes have been on my mind since I saw one on a blog I like a few months ago. That recipe looked a bit too futzy, so I went with this one instead, knowing Greg really likes dark chocolate and raspberries. It took me six tries with two different pans and two different types of spatulas before I even made one successful crepe. But once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy, just took forever. I let them cool, made the raspberry cream, and then stacked them all up into this beautiful creation!

I put it in the fridge and checked on it five minutes later finding this. Devastating!!! I tried to slide it back together, but nothing was cooperating. I ended up taking it out in sections and piling it into a springform pan, with paper plates around the edges trying to hold it into a shape. My hands, arms, and the entire counter and fridge were covered in cream. It didn’t help that it was crazy hot and humid that day. Maybe I should have frozen the crepes for an hour or something to make them cooler. Or not put so much cream between the layers. Or just stopped at 10 layers instead of going to 20. I read so many different crepe cake recipes before landing on this one, and was so sure it would be easy to do. Nope! I was pretty upset about the whole thing. But also determined not to let it, and my entire morning that I really should have spent resting, go to waste.

I’m sure the troubleshooting of this cake is of no interest to anyone except me, but I take my dessert making VERY seriously. I spent the whole night agonizing over what I could do to fix it. A ganache covering seemed to be my only option. Except I didn’t have any more whipping cream and couldn’t stand the thought of going to a grocery store for like the sixth time in a week. So I googled it and found a very successful way to make ganache with good chocolate, butter, and milk. It worked perfectly! I re-layered the cake, cut around the edges that were still lopsided, topped with ganache, topped that with slivered dark chocolate, topped that with fresh raspberries, and garnished with a few chocolate mint leaves from Shepard’s herb garden. As good as it could get!

Moving on. πŸ™‚ It was Father’s Day! Greg said we could wake him up with breakfast in bed at eight, so I made some freezer cinnamon rolls. We went up and left him alone with his food, waiting downstairs another stressful hour and a half before he got up. In the future, I hope if he wants to actually stay in bed until 9:30 he just says that from the get go, so I don’t have to deal with two boys freaking out for that long about wanting Daddy to get downstairs NOW. Hint, hint, Greg. It wasn’t the best start to the day.

Greg always complains that we give him too many presents. So we tricked him this year thinking he just got one gift. Until he opened it and found like 30 individually wrapped small gifts. Like it or not, I think he deserved to be a bit spoiled!

Mostly a lot of treats and snacks, with a few restaurant and movie gift cards thrown in. And a few garden tools he specifically asked for.

The guys settled in for a morning of video game playing while I kept working on the cake and made some jumbo cookies as a backup dessert. We had an easy lunch of frozen chicken strips and fries.

We went to the pool right when it opened and stayed for a few hours. It was packed because of the awful heat, but the water felt great! It was my first time there this year. I was a little nervous about my ankle, but no slipping occurred. My only slight hiccup was climbing the ladder to get out of the pool. It was an awkward position for my foot to take my full weight and not something I’m looking forward to doing again soon. But I’m glad I went along this time because it was fun! They all had ice cream cookie sandwiches for a treat before we left.

Back at home, I really couldn’t stay awake any longer. This week – whew! I ended up taking a two hour nap! I woke up just minutes before Greg’s parents came over for our celebration with them.

The boys were soooo hyped up.

It was a pretty low key evening of video games, ordering pizza, opening gifts, and eating cake. And for the record – Caden and I thought the cake was great. Greg and Shepard did not like it. I think it was a texture thing. I’ve never made crepes before, but I do occasionally make dutch babies which have a similar eggy texture and Caden and I are the only ones who like those too. I should have realized. Oh well – they had cookies.

Anyway, I think it was a pretty nice Father’s Day! It was really nice to have a slower paced day after the crazy week we all had. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoyed each other’s company. I think it was the kind of day Greg likes best, so I’m glad he was able to have it. He’s a pretty awesome dad. Seriously the best I could ever ask for as the father to my children! He had a wonderful example in his own dad and I’m so happy to have them both in my life. My own dad refused to celebrate Father’s Day, but we are going over there next weekend for a cookout to slyly celebrate in a different way.

New Week Intentions

And that brings me to this week! All I know is that I don’t want to spend the rest of the summer feeling the way I felt last week. I want to be rested. I want to be happy. I want to feel totally okay with taking a day off of work. I should be a mom foremost during these months. I also need to keep putting my health and healing as a priority above all else. I want to find a balance between getting the minimum done – laundry, basic decluttering, putting relatively healthy meals on the table – and actually just sitting back and enjoying life – reading, writing, going to dog parks, laughing with my kids. I’ve been on a bit of an errand running high after so many months of not having that option. It’s also hard to convince myself it’s not worth going when I know in three weeks the boys will be with me all the time and going then won’t be an option – again! BUT I should be reveling in my time alone AT HOME too. At least more often than I did last week!

Our actual schedule is pretty light this week. I had a dentist appointment this morning and picked up a few groceries before coming home. I’m guessing I might need a few more things later in the week, but I really want to focus on being at home as often as possible. On Thursday I’m having my monthly craft night, which will be fun. And besides that? Just summer school!

Well, that’s it for now! Have a good week!