Saturday Reflections 03.23.2019

St. Patrick’s Day kicked this week off – usually one of my favorite days of the year. This year it was kind of a disaster, which is why I didn’t end up writing my usual Sunday post. I did manage to get everyone ready and wearing their limited amount of green clothing so we could go to the local Catholic school’s pancake breakfast. They cooperated for that. And then nothing else. The rest of the day was just a huge whopping disappointment. Greg was supposed to go to D&D, but it got cancelled. He was at the start of a bad cold that doesn’t seem to be any better a week later, so also – not in a very good mood. I had plans to take the boys for a late lunch at Bel Air Cantina. We were last there on my birthday and they both said it was the best restaurant they’d ever been to. Of course when I told them the plan they both immediately started arguing against it. After having such a terrible week already, I just gave up. I was so angry at them for NEVER EVER cooperating with something really special I had planned. Even as kids, their agenda is always going to be better with no room for compromise. I’m so sick of fighting it. Forcing them to do something they don’t want to do just makes everyone even more miserable. I was so upset the entire day and before they went to bed I tried to explain how much it hurts me when they do this and it just went over their heads. Between me not wanting to be near them and Greg being sick, they got to just play games all day – best day ever, right? Anyway, it’s done and over with now, but it sucked, big time.

After feeling so emotionally distraught the week before, this week I was all about making a cleaner and healthier space in my head, while also working on cleaning out my physical spaces. Monday was my usual errand running day and then I started working on cleaning most of my shelving units. I had planned to finally organize the family room – giving up on Greg ever getting around to it, despite how badly he wanted a room to do up himself. But of course after he saw that I bought bins to fix things on my own, he slowly started taking over. I don’t think that room will ever be the way I want it to be – not when it has to serve so many purposes. We get in the house through that door, all our outdoor gear and backpacks and dog stuff are piled around it, we eat in that room, do homework in there, we watch tv in that room, we play video games in that room, we charge all electronics in there, Annie’s kennel and toys and food are in there. It’s basically impossible for it to ever be clean and tidy and bright and happy, the way that I long for. I’d settle for something just a lot less clutter-filled. Probably won’t happen for 11 more years once kids are out of the house.

I wasn’t being especially efficient about it, but I spent most of the week just trying to declutter my own areas. I rearranged my bookshelves to make space for all the books I had piled around the living room. I filled up three boxes of books for a future garage sale. I’d like to eventually do a full out sewing room clean up, but that was way too overwhelming to take on this week. I also cleaned every single piece of bedding in the house, which took a solid day. And I gave myself some grace to just rest and read and take a few naps. Between Shepard having mysterious coughing fits all night and Greg blowing his nose all night, not a lot of sleep is being had this week.

Not to drag on with all of the sucky parts of life for another long weekend post, but it’s also been an extra hard week with the boys and their behaviors. I was listening to a podcast last night about the assumptions you make about people and one of the things that instantly jumped to my mind – I assume other people never have the kinds of temper fueled fights with their children the way that we do. I try not to write about it much anymore since my kids are old enough to find my blog if they wanted to and I should try to respect their privacy in areas like that. But…it’s been a really bad week, with both of them. Caden’s reverted back to behaviors we haven’t seen since last summer and years past. It’s so discouraging and I just don’t know what to do about it. The older, the bigger, the stronger he gets… I have no control.

Anyway. Let’s just say I was very excited to go to yoga on Wednesday night to get out of the house. The teacher said she was going a bit easier on us again, but this was the first class where I kept glancing at the clock because we seemed to be practicing forever. My ankles were already sore when I got to class, and so many of the poses were really irritating it. But I survived. My mom and I went out to a late dinner afterward, which was super delish.

One of the most exciting things that happened this week – IT WARMED UP! Just about all of the snow and ice are gone too! We walked to school every morning this week and it was amazing! We also went on evening walks a couple of times. Shepard’s new favorite thing is playing soccer or basketball at the middle school. So we’ve been walking over to watch. Annie loves it!

Another exciting thing that happened this week – we planned our anniversary vacation! I wasn’t sure if it would happen this year between busy life in general and our upcoming air conditioner purchase. But we decided to prioritize it and make it happen. And even though it’s not super ideal for our pet and child caretakers, we’re actually going in the beginning of May instead of putting it off until late July when it next made sense to go. We’re going to Colorado! Neither of us have ever been, or even know much about it, other than it’s really pretty! We’re spending five nights around Denver. It should be really fun! And it’s coming up so fast!

On Friday I forced myself to get back to work. After working all day I finished up four more Easter dolls. And came to the conclusion after three batches of mostly unsold dolls (after almost immediately selling out of all other batches this year), my customers don’t actually want Easter dolls. So that might have been my last, unfortunately. It could just be that I’m not promoting myself very well either. I’ve been in just a weird place with everything lately. I know I should try SO much harder to sell myself. It just doesn’t always feel like a priority.

Today is Annie’s 4th birthday! Technically, we have no idea when her birthday is, or how old she is. But two years ago today is the day she was found as a stray, so it’s the date on her paperwork. Technically also, the paperwork says she’s 5. But the two different vets who saw her gave the ages of 3 and 1, so we went with 2, making her 4 now. ūüôā It’s also Caden’s 10.5 birthday. We usually try to make half birthdays kind of special, but Caden ended up getting invited over to a friend’s house for a good chunk of the day. We might still go out to dinner, but I’m too nervous to break the news to them when they’re outside playing with their friends. It won’t be well received, treat or not.

We gave Annie a bunch of new toys and then Shepard, Willow, and I took her to the dog park for an hour. We haven’t been there all week because of the extra walks. It was the first time there in months with no snow or ice and Annie was in heaven! It was solid mud, but we went early enough in the morning that it was still frozen over from the night.

And that’s about it! Greg and I just finalized our car rental for our trip, so we’re officially set on everything except the details on what to do while we’re there. Any suggestions?! I have of course already looked up at least ten different restaurants. Always the highest priority!

Saturday Reflections 03.16.2019

I think I’ve cycled through almost every human emotion this past week. Elation, profound sadness, resentment, joy, fear, loneliness, confusion, anger. It’s been a weird week. A busy, emotional, weird week.

I was already feeling pretty off at the start of the week, so I decided to take Monday as a fun day for myself. I ran my necessary errands first thing and then drove around Madison to go to all my favorite stores. I treated myself to a delicious lunch at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for ages. It was a super busy day, but it felt good to do something for me.

Even though I was completely exhausted, I decided to go to that first Scrabble Club meeting. I was on the fence about it, but decided I want to be known as a woman of my word and I said I’d be there, so I went. Shepard was in a pretty horrific mood (which is apparently the norm now that he’s eight), so I just took Caden. And it was so fun! I was nervous about playing with strangers, but I genuinely had a really great time. Caden liked it about half the time and then got fed up that he wasn’t playing with the adults. I wasn’t positive any other kids were going to be there beforehand, so I had him prepped for either scenario and of course he just assumed he’d be playing with the grown ups. Maybe next time. Though I also don’t really think he’s emotionally mature enough for it, as the biggest sore loser of all time. Greg and I played with him for an hour and a half long game on Tuesday night and he was throwing fits after every turn. So…I’m not sure he’ll be going to any more Scrabble Club meetings. But I definitely will! It was awesome just doing something FUN with a group of people.

Tuesday during the day was pretty uneventful. I worked. I spent a long time making a big dinner again. And Scrabble all evening.

Wednesday was probably my last day at the dog park for awhile. It was about 75% solid ice and 25% gushing mud. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly was wrong, but I was in a pretty terrible mood all day Wednesday. It was so gloomy outside too. I just want spring to really be here, without all this in between weather.

I changed things up and took a short morning nap because I had slept so poorly again. Jack and Annie were feeling pretty friendly!

Jack had his ultrasound on Wednesday afternoon. $450 to tell me what they had already assumed – he’s getting old and his kidneys are starting to fail. I guess I’m glad to know it’s not cancer or some kind of disease that would significantly shorten his remaining lifespan. But never fun to fork over that kind of money for anything. He’s trying out some prescription foods now. Poor guy was SO drugged when I picked him up. I waited until the boys got home so I could take them with to comfort him in the car. They both had a hand reached into the carrier to pet him on the drive back, it was really sweet.

I was rushing around to get my first Easter batch finished up and photographed and listed before heading to yoga. And then instagram and facebook broke down, much to everyone’s extreme annoyance.

Yoga was good! I liked it even more than last week. She said she was gentler on us. It didn’t really feel like it at the time, but I wasn’t as sore on Thursday as I was last Thursday. I still wish it didn’t take up my entire Wednesday evening, but I’m liking the class a lot.

Thursday I needed another break. And ACTUAL break, at home, with no responsibilities. I was planning on just reading and relaxing all day, but then I spent most of the day in the kitchen. Which was fine. It was Pi Day, I had to!

I made a grasshopper pie and then an apple galette since I knew three of the grandparents weren’t going to eat the mint one. Always need to make sure everyone is happy when it comes to dessert making!

We met Greg’s parents at Culver’s for an early dinner and then headed to Science Night at Shepard’s school. He partook in some of the activities and spent most of the time trying to hang out with his friends while ignoring the six of us that were there to be with him! Afterward we went back to our house to eat the pie.

On Friday, unfortunately, school was cancelled due to flooding and because the buses were needed to help people evacuate their homes. I read somewhere that this is the biggest snow melt in 130 years. Cities all over Wisconsin are flooded right now after a big spike in the temperature Wednesday and Thursday. It’s really sad how much damage all the flood waters are doing.

Meanwhile, Greg had three different air conditioning companies coming in all day to get quotes on installing a real a/c this year. They’re expensive! Plus because we have two furnaces we’d have to get two air conditioners if we want to cool the whole house. We’re not fully committed yet, but I think we’re going to get one this year for the main level and keep using window units upstairs at night. Maybe we’d get an upstairs unit a few years down the road.

We went on a walk Friday night to check out the flooded streets. Three of my friends live further down this street.

River Road, where we lived for five years in our apartment, has now been completely evacuated. The entire street is under water. We happened to get there right when a news anchor was live on the scene. The waters are expected to continue rising in the next few days. It’s really so sad.

Today there was supposed to be a Winter Fun Day for Shepard’s school, but it was cancelled since the road to get there is flooded and blocked off – plus most of the snow is gone. So we went on a date instead, since it was one of my goals for the month. Though it was actually Shepard’s idea. Totally out of nowhere the other day he announced he wanted to go to Mod Pizza with me. So we went!

We stopped at Marshall’s after – because I always have to go to Marshall’s. Then he insisted on looking for new shoes. He didn’t really NEED them, but Caden got new shoes earlier this week (he DID need them), and Shepard has been obsessing over it. So we went to Kohls and Famous Footwear and finally found some that he is very happy with. We finished our date at Target getting some Starbucks frappuccinos. It was a really nice little date!

So maybe I shouldn’t have started this post by telling you how emotional I was all week without ever explaining why. It’s complicated? I don’t know. I’m fed up with winter and ice and feeling trapped. I had to sign whatever the opposite of a DNR is for Jack when I dropped him off at the vet and it seriously freaked me out that he might die and I’d never see him again, or get terrible news when I picked him back up. We watched Pen15 all week, and it brought up so many emotions about childhood and friendship and loss and how desperately I miss that time in my life when I felt so connected and needed and wanted by my friends. I’ve also just been thinking about how much I emotionally depend on some people and the feeling is absolutely not mutual. And that makes me…weak? Pathetic? A total loser? I wish I were a stronger person on my own. The boys have also been insanely stubborn lately, arguing about EVERYTHING. I had a ten minute stand off with Shepard before our date because he refused to bring his coat in the car. It was 33 degrees outside and above freezing means no coat, don’t you know? He also informed me that when you turn eight you don’t need to listen to your parents anymore. We’ve also been talking about our so far nonexistent anniversary vacation this summer and I’ve been feeling very resentful about how hard it is to plan a trip when we have two kids and three pets and two different sets of grandparents to arrange everything between first. It’s the main reason I go on most trips by myself. SO MUCH EASIER. Anyway. That’s the gist of it. Or at least all the not so fun stuff.

And that was my week! More tomorrow. ūüôā

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 03.10.2019

This past week has truly been an exercise on keeping myself focused on just one task or intention at a time. I’ve come to the realization that I’m a much happier person when I’m not trying to do a million things at once. Unfortunately, I’m really dropping the ball on so many things. Mainly, probably, all things social media. I have a sewing business that I should be whole heartedly promoting every single day. I don’t. I have this blog that if I truly wanted to grow, I’d be highly prioritizing my instagram account and start by actually letting my regular facebook friends know I do this. But, I don’t. It’s a little niggling thought that pops into my head a handful of times a day and I just dismiss it. I’m hoping that at some point in the future I’ll have more head space and actual time to make these things happen. For now, it’s more about survival, and all the smaller things just have to be ignored. It’s the only way I’m not going to burn out. And honestly, even saying that, I feel like I need to justify myself. I know that I do less than a lot of people. I’m often ashamed to admit things like how I take a nap almost every afternoon, or how I take random days off just to go to my favorite stores, or go on full blown vacations totally on my own. I hate people thinking I’m lazy or spoiled or entitled. I would like to think that I’ve grown enough as a person in the last few years to realize that I may not be amazing at everything, but I know how to focus myself and work incredibly be hard to be great at the few things I choose to direct my energy toward. This last week has really come down to picking and choosing where my time would best be spent. I think I had some really good days this week. And I had a few days where I was really stressed out and angry for not doing as much as I expected from myself. Always that search for the elusive state of complete balance. I’m doing my best.

Anyway. This past week. ūüôā On Monday, I finally got that cavity filled. I left early to do a bunch of errands and fully intended on taking myself out for a great lunch afterward. I somehow completely forgot that my mouth was going to get numbed at the dentist. The whole procedure was fast and painless, I just couldn’t feel my face for FIVE MORE HOURS. Which means I couldn’t eat or drink or talk. I really felt cheated out of a reward I was highly anticipating! I was also starving since I hadn’t eaten anything at all before the dentist and couldn’t feel my face until dinner. So annoying!

Tuesday was the first Chess Club at the middle school. When I first brought the idea up to Caden he immediately said yes and then immediately rethought it and refused. Too late, bud! He really needs some more social activities. He had such an amazing time last fall at lego league, but it’s not offered in spring. I think a lot of his refusal to check it out is that he didn’t know how to play. So Greg taught him on Monday night and on Tuesday morning he was all about it and taught Shepard. I thought chess was hard to play?! Apparently not to them! When I picked him up afterwards that day he was the happiest I’ve seen him in ages. He LOVED chess club and is now angry it’s not offered twice a week!

Every morning this week I took Annie to the dog park. I decided that even if it continues to be cold or icy or windy, we can spare 10 minutes of our morning there. The fresh air and sunshine do me good, and the chance to run around is great for her. Unfortunately, every single day the only other dog there is another dog named Annie who LOVES to steal things out of people’s hands and destroy them. Last week she shredded my newest and most expensive glove to pieces. A different time she full blown charged and jumped at my body to try and get my phone out of my hand. So now I have to stand there with my hands in my pockets and not even think about taking my phone out of my purse!

It was super chaotic after chess and art clubs, but I recruited Shepard’s help with dinner on Tuesday night. He went from whining about how starving he was to smiling and ready to help!

I wish I had taken a picture of our dish pile in addition to our finished dinner. It was pretty insane. But our curry turned out delicious and our homemade naan was amazing! Greg microwaved the rice and did all the dishes, so it was almost a full family effort. And it was fun! So much more rewarding to all work together to get a great meal on the table. I’m hoping I can get Shepard’s help a couple of times a week.

Have you heard of morning pages? I’m not sure who thought up the idea, but the point is that every single morning before you do anything else you write three pages of whatever comes to mind – a total mental dump which will better prepare you to deal with your day. I decided to give it a shot this week – except on my laptop instead of on paper. I actually think it really helped! I was super focused every day, plus it’s always so cathartic for me to write out what’s going on in my head. It’s a practice I’m hoping to continue in the next few weeks to see if it really changes things for me.

On Wednesday I was supposed to have lunch with my friend Katy, but we changed it to coffee instead. I slept very poorly the night before, so it was good that I had an afternoon to rest up for my first yoga class that night! Yoga was interesting. It was definitely a lot more intense than I was expecting. We found out after the class that the instructor and everyone else have been doing this together for seven years. So my mom and I were definitely the odd ones out. It was kind of disappointing since she clearly didn’t teach it as a class for beginners. But I think overall I did pretty well and I’m looking forward to the next one.

In between everything else I was working hard this week. Bound and determined to get these twelve St. Patrick’s Day dolls done. This is when the stress and anger came into my week. I know better than to make this many dolls at once. It’s so discouraging to me how long it takes to complete them. Instead of creative freedom, I start feeling like a machine just churning out mundane work. I still adore the finished product, but I don’t enjoy any of the process. Of course I had the great reward of selling eight of the twelve within just a few minutes of listing them. But that in itself is discouraging too. If I had more time, if I were faster, if I were getting dolls out every few days, I’d be making so much more money! I’d be keeping my customers so much happier. I’d actually be growing my business. I mean, it IS growing, I just can’t keep up with the demand. And I don’t know what to do about that when I’m also trying so dang hard to keep my life balanced between work and family and health and happiness. I’m only one person and I can only put out quality work at the speed at which I’m working now. And I have to accept that. But some days, it’s really hard.

We had our long awaited date night on Friday at the newish Sun Prairie restaurant Tipsy Cow. Unfortunately, being a Friday, during Lent, in Wisconsin, they had a Friday night fish fry and it was crazy packed. We were put at a table next to the bar with people standing all around us. It was so loud, we only saw the server when she took our order, and it wasn’t romantic at all.

Greg wanted to leave, but I really wanted to stick it out. And the food was great! The pretzel appetizer was so/so, but I thought my turkey sandwich and the fries and dip were delicious. It just would have been a lot better to go any other night of the week. We picked up some Dairy Queen blizzards on our way home and finished the night by watching Bohemian Rhapsody.

On Saturday we went to see Captain Marvel. I thought it was okay. But it was nice to do something as a family. The rest of the day was completely uneventful.

And today I met my friend Laura for a succulent planting fundraiser. We actually met up to do this last Sunday, but we got there too late and the plants were sold out. So we met again for their re-do event today and had a drink afterward. I really like how my plants turned out!

Sunday Intentions

This upcoming week is even busier, but hopefully the last kind of packed week for awhile. Though I keep thinking that and then the calendar just blows up!

Tomorrow is errand day, as usual. Though I might squeeze a few fun things in, depending on how I feel and if I actually get enough sleep tonight. Then we’re maybe going to go to a local Scrabble Night that’s starting up. It’s iffy because it doesn’t start until 7 and we’d have to bring the boys, so if they’re having a bad night then we can’t be taking them out. So maybe I’ll just go. Or…we’ll see. I’m feeling very noncommittal about all plans tomorrow beyond getting groceries because our fridge is once again empty.

One Wednesday Jack is going in for an abdominal ultrasound. His blood test at the vet last week didn’t raise any red flags, but we would like some answers about why he keeps losing weight and why he drinks water nonstop all day long. The vet said the ultrasound could show a couple of different things that couldn’t be tested in any other ways. And then I have yoga in the evening.

Thursday is Science Night at school. That’s the calendar that’s really blowing up in the next month and a half – school events. So many of them. It’s also Pi Day! So I better get planning out my pie. I realized the other day how little baking I’ve done lately. It used to be such a massive part of my life.

And Saturday, if we still have snow by then, is the rescheduled Winter Fun Day for Shepard’s school.

Lots to keep us busy this week. Lots going on at night. Which means I have to be really good about staying focused during the day. Besides tomorrow, I’m just planning on working hard again. I’d like to put out two smaller batches of Easter dolls this week. I think I can do it.

That’s about it! Thanks for sticking with me, even though this blog and writing regularly seems to be one of the things I just can’t get my act together on. I’m doing my best!

Sunday Intentions 03.03.2019

I’m really excited to finally have a normal week! Not that February wasn’t a ton of fun, but I really need to buckle down and get to work. Looking at the calendar, this might be the perfect week – a lot of time to work, but with a few fun things thrown in.

Tomorrow really won’t be the greatest because I have to get a few fillings in the morning. But this appointment has been rescheduled three times in the last two months, so I’m anxious to just get it done and over with. I can’t remember the post-fillings rules, but I’m hoping to get a yummy lunch afterward to make up for the pain it’s sure to cause me!

On Wednesday I have a lunch scheduled with my friend Katy. Depending on my errand running needs by that point in the week, I might zip over to Trader Joe’s beforehand as a little fun treat. We’ll see. It’ll be good enough just having some friend time! Then in the evening I have my first Graceful Yoga class with my mom. I really hope it’s not too intense! But also active enough that it feels great to stretch around. I really hate making that kind of eight week commitment to something without knowing ahead of time if I’ll like it or not. So hopefully I will!

On Saturday we’re going to see the new Captain¬†Marvel movie as a family. Should be fun!

So that leaves Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday to WORK. Definitely my highest priority of the week. I started tracing and cutting dresses for twelve St. Patrick’s Day dolls the other day, so my goal is to hopefully finish those up by Thursday and have time to start my first batch of Easter dolls before the weekend. My customers are anxiously waiting!

We’re entering into another crazy cold day tomorrow, but maybe it’ll start warming up by the end of the week?? I’d love to get some dog park days in with Annie. Walking would be great too, but I don’t expect the ice to go away anytime soon without a real thaw. But hopefully soon.

That’s about it! Short and sweet. Have a great week!

March 2019 Goals

Time for more goals! I have to say that giving myself a list of obtainable goals every month really helps shape so many of the decisions I make on a day to day basis. I love having those priorities at the back of my mind, knowing I’ll have to be accountable to them (and you guys) at the end of the month. It keeps me on track and focused in a way nothing else ever has before. After such a crazy February I’m trying to keep my March goals super short and doable. Setting myself up for success is always a great feeling. ūüôā


Sewing took the furthest back burner in February. I need to rectify that in March! My goal is to complete four batches of dolls this month, one every week. It might require more night and weekend hours than I’d like, but the sacrifice is worth it this month to try and feel a lot more caught up with where I should be at this time of year.

2.¬†DNF¬†books¬†I don’t¬†like

February was a pretty crappy reading month because I kept pushing through on books that really did not hold my interest. This month I want to make sure I just stop reading something if I don’t like it. Why punish myself and use up valuable reading time if it’s not bringing me joy??

3. Start a yoga class

Really phoning it in with this goal that I’ve already signed up for. ūüôā This Wednesday I’m starting a Graceful Yoga class with my mom. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit less intense than the yoga class I took before I broke my ankle. I really love the idea of yoga, and hope to find ways to start incorporating it back into my life.

4. Go on a date with all three of my boys

Everyone’s schedules have been so busy that I don’t think Greg and I have had one of our “regular” weekday date nights this entire year so far. There’s a restaurant I’ve been wanting to go to for MONTHS, so I’m really, really, really hoping we can somehow find a way to make it there and soon! I’d also like to do something special with Caden and Shepard, individually. I have a few restaurants in mind, it’s just a matter of getting it on the calendar.

5. Take Annie to a Madison dog park

I’m really hoping it maybe starts warming up this month! I’d love to get Annie to one of the Madison dog parks I started visiting last year. I love seeing the new parks and she loves exploring anything outside that she can. This has been such a terrible winter, I really want to make up for it with a lot of outdoor time in spring – before my allergies get horrific in June and I have to lock myself in the house again.

6. See friends at least 3 times

Again, kind of sort of cheating on this, since I already have two friend dates on the calendar this week. But like last month – I don’t want to give up!

7. Take Mom to Manna Cafe

I found this restaurant in late December and LOVED IT. I went two or three times in two weeks, but haven’t had time to go back since. I had planned to bring my mom there in January, but with my uncle dying it got too hard to plan out. But this month – it will happen. I NEED another one of their fancy coffees.

8. See a movie by myself

Okay, I’m not sure if any good movies are even coming out this month, but if I see something I’m intrigued by, I’m going to go! Theater movies by myself are one of my favorite things. I’m not going to deny myself the opportunity to see something the way I did last fall. It’s one of my ultimate self care options.

9. Read two nonfiction books

Self explanatory. I want to remember all those stacks of nonfiction books around the house instead of always resorting to my beloved fiction.

10. Eat better

Okay, so it’s vague. But all my healthy habits I cultivated so hard in November and December really flew out the window around Christmas and I haven’t gotten them back. It’s time to make this a bigger priority in my life again. BE HEALTHY. Make better choices. No fast food. No food that I know full well will make me feel like crap. Portion size, serving size. Start caring again about my body.

That’s it! Quite a list this month, but basically – focus on work, focus on connecting with people individually. I think it’ll be a great month!

February 2019 Reflections

As expected, February just flew by! It was such a fun, crazy, chaotic month. Despite my schedule, I think I did a fairly good job with my goals.

1¬†–¬†Don’t¬†give¬†up¬†on¬†the¬†life¬†I want

I was pretty depressed about the state of my friendships in January. In February I had a glimpse of what it must actually be like for all my friends that have busy schedules every month of the year. It really IS hard to make friendship a priority when you’re barely hanging on. I think I learned that I can’t be so hard on everyone and I can’t always take it so personally when I feel rejected. I’m not ready to keep accepting the position of doormat, but I’ll try to be more understanding in the future. Overall, I don’t feel like I gave up this month, or even felt as down as I did in January. I still had time to get lunch with one friend and coffee with another. I’ve been trying hard to stop playing the martyr in other areas of my life and actually MAKE CHANGES when I start to feel dissatisfied with something. Nothing annoys me more than people that complain and whine about their totally changeable circumstances. I refuse to be one of those people and try to remind myself often to DO SOMETHING if I’m unhappy.


I’d say this was a huge success! Horrible drives not withstanding, we had an awesome time in Nebraska earlier in the month and then an amazing memory filled trip to Orlando. No, the trips weren’t perfect, but they honestly went a whole lot better than I was expecting. It was really great!


Despite what I may have thought in the past, Shepard’s birthday was FAR from overlooked this year! We had a little birthday party for him in Nebraska, we celebrated as a family before we went to Florida, we did basically everything he wanted on his actual birthday IN Florida, and we had a family party for him when we got back. It was basically three straight weeks of birthday celebrations. We did skip out on a friend party, but I don’t think he even cared, we were so busy with everything else. Plus half his class has birthdays within a month of his, so he’s been really busy going to everyone else’s parties!


Did it! They were NOT happy. Caden is still mad that I didn’t let his unruly hair just keep growing in fifty different directions. His was shaped a bit more and I really like how much more grown up he looks. Shepard’s haircut was less drastic and didn’t turn out a whole lot different from how we usually buzz it down. But I still think it was really cute. I’m not sure continuing to get “real” haircuts is in our future, but maybe every couple of months for a nice clean up!


It was pretty low key this year in between two big vacations and birthday festivities, but I think it turned out to be a pretty nice holiday! I took Annie to the dog park in the morning, let myself relax and read for most of the day, had a coffee date with Laura in the afternoon, made some easy yet festive treats, and gave all my boys a couple of gifts.


Did it and LOVED IT. That little shelf right above my chair holds copies of my absolute favorite books, the ones I’d read again, but never actually do. After this month, it’s going to be a priority. Revisiting those stories that made me feel so much happiness are totally worth picking up again, especially when life is crazy or sad and I just want to know what I’m getting myself into during my relaxation time.


Okay, I tried, but wasn’t super successful. I just wasn’t really in the mood for romance, especially when the storyline was sub-par. With the exception of Hate¬†to¬†Want¬†You (and my two re-reads), every romance book I picked up was pretty lame.


I forgot this was one of my goals. I’d say it’s the only one I really failed at. This month was just plain crazy. I think the only real self care I took part in was squeezing in naps the days that I could – which was far less than usual. I realize naps are a pretty big self care method that not a lot of people have opportunity to do. But most days it just feels like such an absolute necessity to my survival, that I don’t see it as a way to treat myself anymore. I wish I had given myself more grace to read and laugh and connect over the month.

Overall – a pretty successful month. It was a lot of fun, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. I am SO ready to get back to my mostly boring and low key life!

Saturday Reflections 03.02.2019

Look at this, I’m actually writing a Saturday Reflections post ON SATURDAY.

I am so behind, guys. These end of the month/beginning of the month blog posts really seem to pile up on me at the worst time. I mean, I know they’re coming. But with this week also being basically the first week all month I could WORK, it was really hard to prioritize blogging. It’s so frustrating. I know this whole thing is entirely voluntary and nobody is making me write but myself. I just like to be on top of things and it stresses me out to no end that I feel like I’m currently about six blog posts behind where I should be. But…this is my start. Well, technically, my book post a few hours ago was my start. I’m avoiding my end of the month February and beginning of the month March posts to just get right down to business with this last week of my life.

It was honestly a pretty crappy week. Or at least the first three or four days of it. I had a cold and it was only adding to all the sleep issues I’ve had these past couple of months. I was trying to work as much as possible, while also needing to run a bunch of errands, while feeling like crap and being totally exhausted. I was also dealing with some heavy misunderstandings and miscommunications with Greg, and if you don’t feel like you have your partner’s support through the rough times, the depression is only magnified. But I’m not going to dwell on that because I think we’ve resolved things. It just made the first few days of the week really, really hard.

I am definitely fed up with my sleep problems, though. Earlier this week I declared ENOUGH and took every measure I could think of to try and make it better. I started drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea every night and taking melatonin before bed. I forced myself to stay up until at least ten every night – for awhile I figured I should go to sleep as early as I felt like it to try and catch up, but that only resulted in me being fully awake by 3:30 or 4 every morning. I also bought lavender linen spray for my pillow. I ordered a new white noise machine/oil diffuser and diffuse sleep blends of essential oils every night. I guess it’s a little early to tell, but my efforts have been mixed. Last night I actually got a full eight hours of sleep, which is almost unheard of! But the night before was a very choppy five. I’m betting once I start getting more fresh air and exercise every day it’ll get better. Unfortunately, another polar vortex is hitting us tomorrow, so daily walks are still a distant dream.

I finally finished up some dolls on Wednesday morning – my first completed batch in weeks! It felt awesome to sell all seven of them within a few hours. But then I’m always brought down by the people who are angry they didn’t catch my announcement and missed out on a doll they wanted. I literally cannot make everyone happy, which SHOULD mean I don’t even try. But I like to make people happy. It really weighs on me when I can’t. Besides just writing, I feel incredibly behind on doll making. It’s so hard to accept my limitations as a solo artist with a very busy life. Especially with some big holidays coming up. I’m just now working on St. Patrick’s Day dolls, when I should be well into Easter. Especially since I didn’t make any Easter dolls last year so soon after my ankle break. My customers are so anxious for them. I also have a list of people who have contacted me in the last month about custom orders. I really hate custom orders. I try to avoid them for most of the year. But I know they’re waiting and I’d like to get to them soon.

Speaking of my ankle break – Tuesday was the one year anniversary of it happening, Thursday one year since the surgery. It really brought up a lot of PTSD feelings for me. Especially with the solid layer of ice covering every single outdoor surface. Even though I can walk again, I still feel so trapped by my circumstances. I don’t even remember the last time I walked the boys to school, or to the post office, or even around the block. I currently can’t even walk to my own sidewalk because the driveway is so icy. On Monday morning I slipped twice – at the post office and the gas station. Places I can’t avoid! I know part of all this is just in my head and my extreme fear of something like that ever happening again. But this also feels like a ridiculously hard winter. So much snow, so much cold, so much ice. It has taken its toll. Annie’s been pretty sad about it too. On Wednesday afternoon I got so fed up that I gathered up the boys and we all went to the dog park for twenty minutes, despite the cold and wind and ice. It felt so great to be outside. I miss it so, so much.

On Wednesday night I did something I feel like I should probably be doing a whole lot more often – I recruited Shepard’s help with dinner. My feelings on making dinner every night are pretty mixed. Some days I absolutely love it. Some days I get pretty resentful that it’s always on me. Shepard is always eager to learn new kitchen skills, so I finally took him up on it and taught him how to make tortillas. He also sliced up the peppers on his own. I don’t often have the patience for it, but I’d like to try a lot harder to teach him how to make more things. It’d be so awesome if in a few years he could take over dinner a night or two a week!

On Thursday I just remember being really busy! Two days later, I don’t even know with what!! But Shepard had an eye appointment after school – his vision is getting better, no new lenses (or patching) needed. We went to dinner at the bowling alley with Greg’s parents which was great.

And Friday was the big Vintage Shop Hop. It’s this huge event that over 500 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois took part in this year! I always go with my parents (except last year, right after surgery). I love the treasure hunt of finding unique things. My house seems pretty complete in terms of decorating, so this year I was on the lookout for doll accessories and inspiration. I think I was pretty successful! It was a good day, I just didn’t feel that great. Very little sleep combined with cold medicine that apparently gives me a stomachache and a headache that never went away.

After my much better night of sleep last night, my mom and I went out to a couple more local stores this morning. I wasn’t as successful, but it was still fun. Of course there are a million other things I could have been doing, but the shop hop only comes around once a year, so it was worth another half day of responsibility avoidance!

The only other big news of the week – I booked my flight to Texas in August! I bought my ticket to Book Bonanza way back in October, but I’ve been waiting on flights for logistical reasons. I then decided since this is currently the only vacation on the books for the rest of the year, I’m going to darn well make the most of it! So I’m extending the trip an extra two days and staying in a fancy downtown Dallas hotel. Even though it was totally unnecessary being five months away, I spent a good two or three hours this afternoon researching the best restaurant options to check out while I’m there. I am going to eat so much Tex Mex that week. It’s going to be AMAZING. I’m super excited about the whole thing!

And that’s about it for my week! Now that life is maybe settling down a bit, I can get back in the habit of writing when I’m supposed to write! After I catch up, hopefully in the next few days. ūüôā

What I Read February 2019

February was a really off reading month for me. I was either super busy or super distracted. While I did have two fabulous re-reads, the rest of the fiction I read was pretty meh. I’ve had almost no interest in nonfiction, which is a bit disappointing after how excited I was about nonfiction in January. I know not every month can be amazing, but I was still a bit bummed out and uninterested the entire month.

The Edible Cookie Dough Cookbook by Olivia Hops
Rating: 5 stars

I bought this cookbook on a craving fueled whim after Christmas and it didn’t disappoint! There isn’t a lot to read in it besides a quick intro to each recipe, so it does feel a bit more like cheating to add this to my book list for the month. But, I loved it! If you like to eat raw cookie dough, this book will amaze you. There is a short introductory chapter on heat treating your flour and ways you can use the cookie dough and how to store it, etc. And it’s followed by so many amazing looking doughs! Almost every recipe has a photo of a beautiful scoop of cookie dough that even if the flavor doesn’t sound great, you’re still going to want to eat it after looking at the picture. I tried out the basic chocolate chip recipe right away and it was great! This is going to be a dangerous cookbook to have around because I want to try almost every single recipe. So if you’re into quick and fun deserts and don’t mind keeping such a specialized topic cookbook around, I highly recommend this one!

What¬†if¬†it’s¬†Us?¬†by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is a book I probably should have abandoned. I kept holding out hope that it was going to get better and it never really did. The story is about two teenage boys who feel like the universe brought them together and they should be guaranteed some sort of epic love story. Ben is fresh out of a relationship and is jaded to the possibility of a new love right away. Arthur is only in NYC for a summer internship, but is hopeful and goofy and wears his heart on his sleeve. The only reason I stuck with this to the end is that I found Arthur to be such an endearing character. Ben, though? I didn’t like him at all. There was so much back story and friendship and ex-boyfriend related angst that it took away from what could have been a really sweet romance. I mean, not all romance books need to be sweet. But I felt like this really should have been. It was just okay.

Tell Me Three Things (re-read!) by Julie Buxbaum
Rating: 5* stars

I have a shelf of books reserved for my absolute favorites that I know I’d read again. The problem – I never re-read them because there are always so many new books I want to read and never enough time. This month I was really craving the familiarity of a story that would bring me all the happy feelings – guaranteed. I loved this book on its re-read even more than the first time around. Knowing the ending actually added so much sweetness to the story. It’s about two people who anonymously form a friendship that carries them both through some emotionally tough times. I really love this book!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Rating: 5 stars

I always get excited about a new book by Kasie West. She’s one of my favorite YA authors because I feel like every book she writes has a solid, sweet, dependable romance. This book was about an aspiring young actress on the set of her first movie with a Hollywood heart throb. Lacey is confident and outspoken and friendly. The only thing she hates – doing her independent study homework. Her dad hires her a tutor who of course proves to be a wonderful love interest – the first real crush Lacey has ever had. I really enjoyed this story as the characters banded together to solve a small mystery, while Lacey and Donovan got to know each other. If you love YA books and are satisfied with a well earned kiss, this is a great one.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audio)
Rating: 4 stars

I listened to this on audio while we were driving home from Nebraska on terrible road conditions after a snowstorm. Because I had very little to distract me, this is an audiobook I finally feel like I fully paid attention to. It was also a very easy and entertaining book to listen to. I’ve always liked Anna Kendrick and it was fascinating to learn so much more about her, especially all the theater acting she did in New York as a child. She really came across as a regular, every day person. She continued to point out how normal her life really is. I felt like it was a fairly vulnerable and honest celebrity memoir that she wasn’t writing just for the sake of making some extra money. Overall, a nice listen!

The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher
Rating: 3 stars

This book had so little effect on me that I almost forgot to add it to my reading log, less than a day after I finished it. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed. I read Fischer’s Mud Vein in December and it was one of my favorite books of the year. I think The Opportunist was her first book, though, and it shows. There were a lot of errors, the formatting was bizarre (probably not her fault!), and the plot was sometimes hard to follow. The characters were not very likeable and the timeline was confusing. I didn’t hate the book – I still finished it. But I will surely forget about it entirely within a few weeks. (a few weeks later writing this – I have forgotten completely)

Match Me if You Can by Tiana Smith
Rating: 2 stars

This book is the epitome of angsty teenage love triangle and the perfect example of why a lot of people really hate to read YA. Me? I LOVE YA. But it was a serious challenge forcing myself to finish this. The only reason I did was because for some unknown reason, I preordered it last year and now own a hard copy that arrived in the mail. I’ve never read the author before, so it must have either been an accident, or I bought it because the cover was beautiful. Which it is! But the story? Ugh. So, this is about Mia, the boy Vince who she’s been crushing on, and the boy Logan who is constantly flirting with her, but she doesn’t perceive as being serious. What bothered me so much from the get go is that you get almost no back story about the characters, they just immediately dive into their relationships. The characters get into fights about not showing enough love when they’ve been together for literally half a date. The entire book only takes place in about two weeks’ time. It’s so ridiculous. And ALLLLLLLLL Mia talks about is the pros and cons of Vince and Logan. It’s so obvious who is the better choice in every single situation. I usually don’t mind predictability in a romance novel – especially in the YA genre because I purposely look to it for sweet and simple love. But this was tough. Anyway, I really hate to write such harsh reviews and it probably would have been better to just put it aside. But – there you go.

Girl Boner by August McLaughlin
Rating: 4.5 stars

I saw this book being promoted on an instagram account I follow and was curious enough to immediately order it. Maybe not necessarily the type of nonfiction I’m used to reading, but I was highly intrigued! The author has written an extremely comprehensive guide to sexual empowerment in women, or people who identify as female. I read the entire book in four days, which is basically unheard of for me and nonfiction! While I can’t say I agree with every single “empowering” topic she covered, it was truly interesting and worth the investment of the book. I wish it’s a book I had read fifteen years ago instead of now. The book covers so much about self love and how to find a positive body image, mental health stumbling blocks, explanations of all gender related things, chapters on abuse and spirituality, and so much more. I would highly recommend this book for all women to read, but I think it would be incredibly useful for late teens and early 20’s.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Rating: 3 stars

The only Penny Reid I’ve read in the past is her Winston Brothers series, which I love. I’ve heard so many things about this Knitting in the City series and finally picked up this one, her very first novel. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by it. I’m not sure if it was self published, but I feel like the book could have used some serious editing. It was SO wordy. One of my pet peeves is dialog that could and should be snappy, but is ruined by huge paragraphs of descriptions in between every line. This book was full of it. I think it had the potential to be really great, but I just could not connect with the characters. I’m not really interested in picking up the rest of the series.

Freefall by Jessica Barry
Rating: 2.5 stars

I picked up this book somewhat blindly, hoping for a thriller to pull me out of the fictional reading rut I’ve been in this month. It starts off with a plane crash, so I was expecting some sort of intense survival story. That didn’t happen. Alternating chapters between Allison and her estranged mother Maggie, the mystery very, very slowly unfolds. And I was SO bored. Basically, absolutely nothing happens for 60% of the book. And then it finally got interesting. But really not enough to redeem it. I kept wanting to put it down, but I pushed through. I’m not sure it was worth it.

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Rating: 5 stars

When it comes to romance discussions in some of my online book groups, this is a title that has come up multiple times as being a great one. I finally picked it up and it didn’t disappoint. Nicolas and Livvy were teenage best friends and lovers ripped apart by a family tragedy. Every year, on Livvy’s birthday, they get together for a single night of passion and part ways for another year without contact. After ten years they find themselves living in the same city again and can’t seem to stay away from each other. I really liked this book because it had a great emotional context with a lot of back story and complicated relationships. The sex scenes were pretty steamy and didn’t feel like graphic fluff. Overall, I really liked this and definitely plan on reading the next two books in the series.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Rating: 4 stars

Alicia is a famous painter who killed her husband and then spent seven years in total silence. Theo is a therapist determined to get to the bottom of her silence and discover what truly happened on the night of the murder. This book is a mix of journal entries from Alicia’s past and and what life is like on the psych ward where Alicia presides, from Theo’s perspective. I was definitely intrigued by the storyline enough to read most of this book in a single day. It was more a curiosity than a true thrill ride, but I enjoyed it.

Slammed (re-read!) by Collen Hoover
Rating: 5* stars

It has officially been solidified in my mind that re-reading a favorite book is about the best thing in the world. I was having a pretty tough week and wanted to finish the month up with a guaranteed reading win (plus one of my goals for February was to re-read two books, so I was down to the wire on getting in my second one!). This is actually the third time I’ve read Slammed and I still adored every single page. It’s Colleen Hoover’s first book, but still packs such an incredible emotional punch. The characters are real and flawed and feel so much! I love it. I completely love this book.

What I Watched February 2019

TV and movie time! I never got around to writing this end of the month post in January. Everything was so chaotic and I actually watched so many shows that I couldn’t stand the thought of recapping so many things. I’m not sure if anyone even cares about these particular posts – they’re certainly much less exciting to me than my book posts! But I always think it’s fun to get new recommendations, so I think I’ll continue on with them, just in case you’re hoping for some new suggestions in your own tv watching lives!

TV – Alone (spoilers)

The Resident

I still love this show so, so much. It’s the very rare show that absolutely none of the characters annoy me. They’re all so interesting and care about each other, yet are filled with flaws. Mina and Dr. Austin are probably my favorite slow burning storyline at the moment. I love Conrad too, of course. ūüôā

The Good Doctor

I love this one too. I believe it also stands the test of not having any annoying characters, though I don’t find them all as endearing as I do on The Resident. I’m a bit frustrated with the introduction of the new Dr. Tan (though to me he will always be that awful Jin from Lost) and him forcing Shawn to give up his surgical residency in favor of pathology. I’m sure he’ll find his way back, but I feel so bad for Shawn now.

The Bachelor

Okay, so I watch this show because my favorite podcast’s Patreon does recaps of every episode and I want the full experience. When I started with The Bachelorette last season, I never expected to become so invested in the people. But…I am. I’ve never been a huge fan of Colton, mostly because he seems so sweet and innocent and everyone that watches just rips him apart! His dumping by Becca last year was so sad, then he had that uncomfortably depressing run on Bachelor in Paradise and presumably he was picked to be the bachelor entirely because of his virginity status. I hate that so much of the narrative has to revolve around that one point. Anyway, now that we’re down to the final three women, I really have no idea which way he’s leaning and which one I’m hoping he’ll pick. I suppose I probably like Taysha the best because she seems to have the best all around chemistry with him. But mostly I just watch every episode and feel terrible that Colton is in this situation.

God Friended Me

I’m still enjoying this. I have a feeling that maybe it won’t last past a single season, though. I’ve never heard of anyone else that watches it. I like the characters and how they live to find good in the world by helping all of God’s friend suggestions. It’s an uplifting thing to watch.

Splitting Up Together

Sigh. Leena and Martin have so much chemistry. I know this is such an idealized view of what divorce could look like, but a huge part of me also feels like this could actually be realistic. Once the pressure of being a married couple is taken away, you suddenly remember all the things you loved about your partner before you took your vows. I hate that dang Lisa Apple and her baby had to show up once again right when they were about to get back together – AGAIN. How many times can the show go to that storyline? I almost feel like this would have been a much better movie than an ongoing tv show. Unless they’re just gearing up to finish a single season with a happy ending. Which I would totally be okay with.

Modern Family

As usual, I don’t have much to say about this one. I’m not even sure why I still watch it because Phil is pretty much the only character I like. Everyone else is SO ANNOYING.

Single Parents

I just started this and I’m surprised by how much I like it. It’s definitely a bit silly and unbelievable, but I love tv shows about camaraderie between an unlikely group of friends. I love how they’ve all kind of banded together to form their own big happy family.

TV – Together 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’m glad this show is ending. I don’t think I could put up with it for another season. Everyone annoys me so dang much. And I HATE the Skylar Astin “new Greg” replacement. Greg was my all time favorite character and I LOVE the storyline that she was meant to be with him all along, but it just doesn’t make sense when it’s not the same actor! I actually love Skylar Astin, but I just can’t see him as a replacement. I wish he would have come in as a new character and I could have accepted him so much more easily.


We are almost done with this two season show. I went from thinking it was kind of dumb to being highly invested to getting annoyed with everyone. But I still kind of love it because Wyatt is so absolutely swoon-worthy. Matt Lanter is the perfect actor for portraying constant emotional distress. I really like Lucy too. And Rufus is good for some comic relief every once in awhile. I’m actually a pretty big fan of Flynn at this point in the second season too. I’m anxious to see how it all ends with the movie conclusion.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Captain Holt is basically the only reason I watch this show. I ADORE him. I think he’s one of the funniest tv characters of all time. Everyone else just kind of annoys me. Seeing a theme here?


A Simple Favor

This was an odd one, to be sure! Even though the plot was about finding the truth behind the Blake Lively character, I really couldn’t get past the fact that Anna Kendrick’s character had sex and was in love with her brother, who was possibly the father of her child. It was just such a bizarre thing to throw into the middle of the movie!

Life of the Party

This was the second time I’ve watched this movie and I loved it just as much. I know it’s not highly rated, but I think it’s totally hilarious. I laughed just as much the second viewing.

Isn’t It Romantic

Desperate for a night to myself, I went to see this movie in the theater without knowing much about it ahead of time. I found the first half to be a bit awkward. Some of the acting (like the gay best friend) was terrible. I didn’t really understand where they were going with attacking the cliched romantic comedy while also being a romantic comedy. But I really loved Adam DeVine’s character and how somehow the whole movie ended in all the characters singing and dancing in the street. It made me want to re-watch all the Pitch Perfect movies to see some more Adam-Rebel chemistry. Overall, it ended up being a pretty sweet movie!

Okay, that’s it for February! I’m pretty much caught up on all my current shows now after a few weeks off and am about to hit up netflix for my next binge. Any recommendations?!

So Many Reflections: Nebraska, Valentine’s Day, Shepard’s 8th Birthday, and Florida!

I am SO behind, you guys! I’m behind on blog posts for sure. No weekly reflections or intentions in the last three weeks! And so much has happened! I’m also crazy behind on doll making and keeping my customers happy. It’s been a great month, but I’m just about ready to drop, when I feel like I should be rip roaring ready to get back to regular life now that all the travel and parties are behind me. I’m hoping maybe I’ll feel a little bit better if I can get out some quick reflections on everything that’s happened this month. I’ll try to keep it relatively concise! We’ll see how it goes. ūüôā

Omaha, Nebraska

One of the things I gave Greg for Christmas were tickets to see his favorite band, Guster, play with the Omaha Symphony. I figured we could make it a fun date night with the added bonus of staying with my brother and his family and seeing their new digs. The entire trip was weather dependent and we didn’t even decide if we were officially going and if the boys were coming with us until a few days before.

Hudson was napping when we got there and was super shy when he woke up, but he warmed up quickly. He LOVED pushing around our suitcase!

Timmy made us some burgers and chicken for dinner and then Greg and I headed over to the symphony hall for the concert. I was amazed to see that Omaha has $3 event parking directly across the street! $3! We weren’t allowed to take photos during the concert, so no pics, but it was really great. Probably the most subdued Guster concert I’ve been to since we actually had to sit down (hooray!). But it was fantastic.

We spent Saturday morning playing with Hudson. Such a cutie!

We went to the Omaha Zoo for our Saturday outing. It was so amazing! We didn’t even look to see if there were animals outside (it was FREEZING), but there were so many unique indoor exhibits that we had plenty to keep us busy.

Grandma wanted a good picture of her grandsons. My boys loved hanging out with their cousin!

We went to this place called Charred for dinner. It was seriously one of the best restaurant meals I’ve ever had. Everything was amazing. I want to go back.

Back at the house we had a mini birthday celebration for Shepard since they wouldn’t be able to come for the party this year. The nerf gun ended up being a lot more powerful than anyone expected!

Finished the night with an awesome ice cream birthday cake. It was such a fun day!

Sunday? NOT fun. We woke up to unexpected snowfalls for our drive back home. We wanted to make a pretty early start out and even though the roads out the window weren’t plowed, I just assumed the highways would have been fine. Um, not true. It was HORRIBLE. Probably the worst driving conditions Greg has ever been in. Our seven to eight hour drive was closer to twelve, in total completely tense silence. I did the last two hours of the trip in freezing rain with a windshield that kept freezing solid. Maybe one of the worst days ever. But, I’m still glad we went and made some fun memories with Hudson!


Valentine’s Day was pretty low key this year, stuck between two big vacations and a lot of birthday festivities for Shepard. I was feeling pretty frazzled by everything and determined to try and focus on just resting and having a good day. We started the morning with some good old canned cinnamon rolls.

Trying to get the boys to wear non-character shirts with red in them was like pulling teeth! I had to threaten Shepard with taking away his birthday presents to get him to cooperate. But hey, I got three mostly real smiles!

Annie’s Valentine gift was going to the dog park for the first time in almost two weeks. She was SO excited!

I gifted myself this beautiful Pyrrha necklace. I’ve been in love with their wax seal stamped talisman necklaces for years. I don’t remember seeing the writer one in the past and it immediately jumped out as being the one I needed.

I spent the rest of the morning reading and then I met Laura for coffee in the afternoon to catch up on some friend time. After school I made Valentine hot cocoa for the kids. I really just wanted to get some extra use out of my Valentine mugs!

We had a very easy dinner of heart shaped pastas and garlic bread and candy for dessert.

Shepard and I finished the night by making edible brownie batter cookie dough for his school birthday treat. I was so exhausted by this point and thrilled that one batch made exactly how much we needed. I don’t think I could have handled another batch!

On Friday after school we celebrated Shepard’s birthday with just the four of us. Still three days early, but I didn’t want to lug anything extra to Florida or make him wait until a few days afterward to open.

We had lava cakes for his dessert. He technically wanted them for Valentine’s Day, but then I would have had to think of another dessert for this night! It all worked out fine.


On Saturday we went to Florida! Fortunately the weather cooperated on this trip and we had no problems getting to the airport with enough time to each lunch and get on the plane.

We took an uber to the hotel and spent Saturday night hanging out in our huge courtyard. It felt so great to get out of Wisconsin winter! The boys LOVED the outdoor hot tub. We got the easiest meal we could for dinner – a pizza and chicken tenders from the on site Italian restaurant.

We were up early and raring to go on Sunday morning! The hotel had a shuttle service to Universal every day, but you had to sign up for it the night before and spots were limited. We managed to get on it the same time every morning, though. On the first day, the guys were hyped up and ready for Harry Potter World!

First stop was Ollivanders to pick out their wands. We watched a little presentation with a smaller group of people and then we were released into the massively packed shop to find the wands they wanted.

Caden picked out Dumbledore’s wand and Shepard picked Ivy’s. The cool thing about the wands is that they’re interactive with a lot of various spots around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. It was too busy the second and third day, but they loved casting spells around that first morning!

Sunday was really just a lot of waiting around. After wands our main objective was going on the Escape to Gringotts virtual rollercoaster ride. It ended up being a two hour long wait, which is really just way too long. And then it ended up being a lot scarier than we expected. Caden was basically traumatized by it. We also tried all the types of butterbeer they offered. I think my favorite was the regular cold, but not frozen variety. Afterward we stood in another long line to ride the Hogwarts Express which was pretty cool. We had lunch at a diner in Universal – mostly because it was the first indoor air conditioned place we could find. Funny how quickly you adapt to the new climate and suddenly can’t wait for the opposite kind of relief you’ve been wanting all winter!

The one downside to our hotel is that it was basically surrounded by highways and without a car and six people requiring larger ubers, it was pretty difficult to do anything except go between the parks and the hotel. But Greg remembered services like UberEats exist (oh, to have something like that in Columbus!), so we ordered some easy Mexican food and ate it next to the fire for a late dinner. Simple, easy, delicious.

Monday was officially Shepard’s 8th birthday! The night before we happened to see these giant donuts at a gift shop, so we picked up two of them for his birthday breakfast. And of course we ate out in the courtyard! That courtyard really was amazing. We also had a Starbucks on site and made between one and four stops in there a day!

We started in Hogsmeade on Monday, which I think was even more cool than Diagon Alley, but it filled up with people faster. Shepard convinced Grandma to buy him a Gryffindor necklace for his birthday present.

Hogwarts! It looked so awesome from the outside, but unfortunately, you could only see the inside if you stood in line for the Forbidden Journey virtual roller coaster. Caden and I had no interest in riding, but we wanted to see inside the castle, so we stood in line with them. It was a pretty fast wait this time.

Then we had some more butterbeer inside Three Broomsticks, the location Caden really wanted to visit. And then a family picture (I think our only one) with Hogwarts as we crossed the bridge into the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure.

Most of the Jurassic Park things were inside of a building. We got to watch a baby dinosaur hatch and the boys had their DNA tested to make their own species of dinosaurs on a machine. Afterward we stopped to watch one of the water rides and the boys (on purpose) and Greg (on accident) proceeded to get completely soaked from the splashes. They thought it was so much fun until they realized it meant being wet for the rest of the day! This is the point I stopped taking pictures because Shepard flipped a switch and was being pretty terrible for the next few hours. A very entitled, demanding, and selfish birthday boy! Though to be fair, he also had caught a cold by this point which definitely wasn’t helping how he felt. Plus not enough sleep and absolutely no healthy food in his body.

The plan for his birthday lunch was to take an uber to a restaurant outside of Disney called Chicken Guy. It was the ONE THING I really wanted to do on this trip, but nobody seemed to understand why. Alas, it did not happen, even though I still think it would have been awesome. Shepard kept refusing to go to a restaurant at all, demanding we just go back to the hotel and order food, because isn’t that the most logical solution, even though we were literally walking past hundreds of amazing restaurants?! Greg and Cindy finally settled him down with more Starbucks and eventually we ate at like a food court in the City Walk area where we could all get our own meals. Shepard had Burger King chicken fries. Then we went back to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon.

There was a TGIFriday’s across the street from the hotel (I originally ruled out eating there because I don’t like eating at places we could just as easily have at home when I’m on vacation). But Shepard was very excited to eat somewhere we could walk to, so that is what we did! It was a really nice end to his special day.

Tuesday – another breakfast from Starbucks. That definitely got expensive! ūüôā Though by Tuesday I was also buying bananas for everybody, so at least we were getting a bit of healthy stuff into our bodies. I was also only drinking teas or cold brews, so I didn’t feel like total crap!

We realized with a constant supply of gum from Grandpa, Caden was actually really well behaved on this trip. He definitely had some times when he purposely was getting on Shepard’s nerves, but for the most part – he was great. SO much better than I was expecting from him.

I think Tuesday was my favorite day because we had already seen the things we really wanted to see, so we had more time to check out the quieter areas of the parks. Greg really wanted to go on the Spiderman ride, so he went in that direction and the rest of us went into Seussland. We had opportunity to go on a few more rides there, walked through Jurassic Park again, and finished at a Men in Black ride, which turned out to be my favorite one because it was just FUN – no scariness.

One last ride on Hogwarts Express – and the only time it was just the six of us in the car. Shepard was pretty cranky again because his feet hurt.

He just refused to walk at one point. Even though it started out the coldest, I think Tuesday was the hottest day. We were all dragging by lunchtime. We ended up just going into the first large restaurant we could find. It was delicious! And Shepard said that of his nine chicken tender meals of the trip, that was his favorite.

This is the view from our hotel room. The pool was huge and the boys practically had it to themselves the whole time! They loved the splash pad in the middle and we all enjoyed the big hot tub. The hotel itself (Double Tree Hilton Entrance to Universal) was perfect for us.

One more cold brew! We realized way too late into the trip that on the other side of our hotel there was actually a string of restaurants and a Walgreen’s, so our final dinner was at a local place called Miller’s Ale House. Then we stopped at Walgreen’s to pick up some snacks and Benadryl for Shepard. He perked up a lot after giving him meds. I wish we had found some days earlier.

On Wednesday we headed back. We had a few hours in the morning to enjoy the last warm Florida morning. Then we had a lot of time at the airport to grab lunch and wander around. Despite there being storms all across the country, we somehow managed to get to Atlanta for our layover, and back home, without a single delay. We finished the trip with a quick stop at Burger King for Shepard to have his final chicken tenders meal. Overall, it was a really great trip! It definitely went better than I expected it to. Kids make things so unpredictable, but they handled everything like champs. I’m so glad we were able to make these memories with them and their grandparents!

Family Birthday Party

And that brings me to today! We were able to skip a friend birthday party this year with everything else going on, but still wanted to have a small family party for those that were able to come. I caught Shepard’s cold a few days ago and have not been feeling the greatest, but we kept everything very low key and it turned out great.

Shepard became OBSESSED with GoPros in Florida and forced someone to look at them with him every time we crossed a technology store. There were a lot of technology stores in the airports. Anyway, with a last minute heads up, my parents gave him an (unofficial) GoPro of his own. He’s in love with it and has been using it ever since he opened it.

We had hot sandwich sliders, Chinese salad, chips and salsa and guacamole, and fruit for lunch with peanut butter bars for dessert. He had to videotape us while we sang to him.

I think Annie really missed Grandma, even though it had only been a few days since she came back home! They’re best friends now, I guess!! We got some final pictures and then everyone went home. It was a good day!

And that’s it!! I will try to never wait so long to write again and never write such a huge wordy photo heavy post. If you made it to the end – congrats and thank you. ūüôā