Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.28.2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY INTENTIONS

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

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

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

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

Halloween Festivities

Happy Halloween! Okay, I know Halloween is still a couple of days away, but the past few days have been packed full of festive activities and my kids don’t have any more public opportunities to wear their costumes, so it’s basically over around here! It’s been a lot of fun, though.

I wasn’t in the mood to buy costumes this year. On one hand, I’m totally all for buying costumes if it makes your life easier. We’ve gone the store bought route for the last four or five years. But this year it just felt like a waste of money, plus the boys never even care what they dress up as. Why spend the money if it means nothing to them? So I basically put it on Greg to figure out what kind of handmade thing they could come up with while I was on my trip. I think his mom is the one who really put it all together with some of their old costumes, but it turned out great! Shepard was originally going to be a Minecraft youtuber that nobody would have recognized or heard of. But when shown a PURPLE wizard costume that Greg wore in sixth grade, he went that route instead. Of course second grade Shepard is drastically smaller than sixth grade Greg was, so I had to alter it quite a bit. Hopefully nobody bigger ever wants to wear this costume again!! Caden wore part of some Star Wars costume one of his aunts wore at some point – turned into a Harry Potter type of cloak with his sorting hat and some black glasses. It worked, it didn’t cost any money, and they thought they looked pretty cool! Greg liked it so much he decided we need to do handmade costumes every year now…

Anyway, we went to SpookFest on Thursday night, something the schools put on for grades K-5 every year. Caden had no interest in going (shocker), but we lasted about half an hour. Shepard had a good time running around with his friends, until he decided he wanted a soda, we said no, and massive seven year old on the floor kicking and crying tantrums ensued. Oh well.

After dinner on Friday we carved our pumpkins. Greg and I did most of the work, but Shepard was very excited about it. I washed all the seeds and made my three usual flavor combinations. I was pretty exhausted, but also had a fairly rough day (more on that in my next post today!), so I decided to try and gather everyone to go to the community bonfire for some cheer. The boys didn’t want to go – until their friend Leverett got permission to come with us. Then we ran into Greg and Annie who were already on a pokewalk and all of us walked over to the park for the fire.

It was a lot of fun! It was just cold enough to enjoy the fire, but not so cold we were miserable, like last year. There weren’t a ton of people there, but enough that it felt special and fun. There was a group of kids that the boys joined with and had a BLAST dancing by the DJ. Some of my friends were there, so it was fun to chat with everyone. And Annie just loved being out and about.

We stayed for an hour and a half and then had to drag the boys home because I was just so exhausted. It was a really great night, though! It’s so rare to have Caden raving about how excited he is to be somewhere. It was like the best night of his life running around with friends in the dark with good dance music on!

I spent all of Saturday getting ready for our annual Halloween party. It was extra special this year because Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson were coming, plus all the parents/grandparents, and my brother Tyler – for a full celebration. We were also sort of celebrating fall birthdays for me, Brittany, and Tyler. I tried to keep the food festive and easy to prepare with a good mix of healthy and treats. I love the simplicity of these clementine and celery pumpkins!

Monster mouths! I only had teeny apples, so not quite as effective, but definitely yummy.

White cheddar cheeto bones.

Flamin’ hot cheeto bones.

Our pumpkin seeds – dill, salt, and chex mix flavors.

These were all supposed to be different kinds of bugs.

The flourless chocolate cake Brittany requested for her birthday dessert. With a spiderweb on top to go with the theme. My mom also brought her famous kit kat bars for my birthday dessert, but I never got a picture of them.

Jalapeno popper mummies. I usually do hot dog mummies, but nobody really eats them, so I gave this a shot this year. I didn’t like them much because they were missing that salty component I’m so used to when I make jalapeno popper dip and eat it with chips. But they looked cute!

The famous pizza snake that makes an appearance every Halloween party. I thought this year’s tasted especially good because I made the effort to cut all the inside toppings into the tiniest possible pieces so it all blended together better.

I never decided if this is supposed to look like blood and guts, or brains. Maybe it looks more brainy with the raspberry seeds. With mini candied pecan brains?

And “monster fingers.” Basically just enormous beef sticks I got at Costco that nobody in my family liked, so I needed to set them out to get rid of them!

Cindy and Shepard put together a veggie skeleton for the centerpiece of it all. Very cool! Shepard loved his broccoli hair.

Hudson was getting over a bunch of illness, but he was in high spirits! It was so cute how proud of himself he looked every time anyone would laugh at something he did. In this instance he was hitting Shepard with a hammer because he kept whining. Probably shouldn’t encourage that, but it was pretty hilarious.

A tricky selfie snuck in only because we were standing at the window and he was smiling at Daddy.

The only picture I got of our finished pumpkins. Sometimes Shepard seems so big and sometimes he still seems so tiny.

I was hoping for a nice trick or treating picture of the cousins all together, but my boys couldn’t be bothered to even be in our yard at the same time and Hudson just wanted to be cuddled with Mom because he didn’t like wearing his costume very much. But we tried!

Steve stayed home to hand out candy and the rest of us set off to trick or treat. Caden and Shepard immediately ran to Leverett’s house right as he was coming outside, so they just rushed ahead with him. The rest of us stayed back with Hudson, but he was just very confused about what was happening. We only lasted about two blocks before it started sprinkling and we realized we’d never keep up with the older boys, so we all went back home. I’m kind of annoyed my kids couldn’t even stay with our group for five minutes. Or even a single house. But…they’re getting older, I guess. This is what happens. Caden’s almost never happy anymore unless a friend is involved in whatever he’s doing.

But back at the house we still had some fun with Hudson and Annie. He realized how exciting it was to hand Annie all of his food. Everyone stayed for awhile longer and then Greg took over handing out candy the last half an hour. I probably bought at least 500 pieces of candy and we went through all of it. Plus a big bowl of goldfish crackers for little kids and a bowl of dog treats. We live on quite the popular street!

Overall – great party! It was a lot of fun! Now all that’s left is actual Halloween, but the boys have dentist appointments after school that day, so really not the best of days! But maybe I can throw together one more festive meal. We shall see.

Happy Halloween!

My DC Vacation and Trying to Catch Up!

Good morning! It’s been awhile! I’m continuing to be in a pretty weird headspace this month and haven’t had a lot of time or drive to write any blog posts. But now I’m starting to feel very behind on what’s been happening and I need to get back to my recaps! I’m going to break these last two weeks up, to make for more manageable reading content. 🙂

Last Thursday I was finally able to take my trip to DC. I’ve visited my best friend Dianne there multiple times in the last few years, but always in September or October. This year was going to be different and we had an extensive trip planned out for April, centering around seeing the famous cherry blossoms. And then I broke my ankle. Stupidly (seriously), the PA at the doctor’s office told me I’d definitely still be able to take that April trip, I’d just be slower. Well, at the beginning of April I still couldn’t put any weight on my ankle, I could barely move around on my scooter, and there was NO WAY I would have survived solo travel across the country where I’d have to depend on public transportation to get me around for five days. Craziness. Anyway, we rescheduled for October and I think it was the perfect timing for me physically and weather-wise. I’m really glad it all worked out!

I left on Thursday afternoon and stopped at the huge Marshall’s on the way to the airport. (I’m obsessed.) Then I had just enough time to get through security, enjoy a salad at the airport Chili’s, and read a few minutes before boarding. I was nervous about my metal ankle plate setting off the metal detectors, but it either didn’t register, or the security people could see what it was on the x-ray machine thingy. I’ve yet to go through a regular metal detector, so I’m curious to see if I’ll set off alarms on those. Anyway, travel to DC was fast and easy. It’s amazing how far you can travel on just an hour and fifteen minute smooth flight! Dianne met me at the airport and we took the metro back to her apartment. It was getting late by that point so we just went to bed.

I wasn’t feeling the greatest on Friday, mostly from a couple nights of not great sleep and just travel in general. Dianne went to work, so I had the day to take at my own pace. I read for awhile in the morning and then just ventured out to the next metro stop to shop at Marshall’s (ha!) and Target. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous. But then I had lunch at Cava, my all time favorite DC quick food option. I guess it doesn’t look particularly appealing in the photo, but it is sooooo good. The apple cinnamon vanilla iced tea was amazing too. After lunch I went back to the apartment to take a nap and felt a lot better after that.

After my nap I took a little stroll through the neighborhood shops. There was a bookstore and a few little gift places. I had coffee at this tiny little shop, sitting on the porch while I watched a ton of squirrels playing together. Then I took the metro to Chinatown and mostly just wandered around. There is shopping in that area, but I didn’t do any research ahead of time and ended up just wandering down quieter streets and looking for benches to rest for awhile. It was supposed to be my resting day to gear up for more walking over the weekend, but I still ended up with over 15,000 steps all three days.

I met up with Dianne at a place called Dirty Habit for cocktails Friday evening. It was kind of like a hotel’s rooftop/courtyard bar area and also the place where her husband Jack proposed to her. It was a really cool place! We had some sort of orange and champagne cocktails.

Next we went to a couple of shops (I bought a super cute pair of earrings) and then had dinner at a place called Oyamel. We had reservations so we were able to get in right away, but we were seated next to the bar which was SO LOUD. But the food was good! I ordered chicken verde enchiladas and mango agua fresca, which was so tasty. Dianne had tacos, but everything was served small plate style, so we were still hungry and ended up ordering a second round of crispy brussel sprouts and mole french fries, which weren’t as yummy. But it was a cool restaurant!

On the way back we stopped at a cider place near her apartment to get another drink.

I only had the tasting size, but whew! That was enough! We asked the bartender for the sweetest one, but I guess that in turn meant it had the highest alcohol content. I drank it, but don’t think cider is really my drink! We played a few rounds of bananagrams while we were there, which was really fun!

On Saturday morning, Dianne rented a zipcar and we drove to the National Arboretum. I only knew this even existed through a post Anne Bogel wrote earlier this year about her visit there, so I was excited to check it out too! There were a lot of different gardens and walking trails and these columns from the original (I think…) White House. The woodsy trails just looked a lot like Wisconsin woodsy trails, but it was really fun, peaceful, and pretty to walk through everything.

The best part, though, was seeing all the bonsai trees! I took a picture of basically every tree. I don’t think it made this collage, but it was really cool to see the oldest bonsai in the US, which started growing in the 1600’s!! My favorites were the ones that looked like itty bitty forests. I also liked the ones that were more unique plant varieties. It was so awesome just seeing all of them in one area like that.

Next on our agenda was DC’s Union Market, which was a big building filled with unique little restaurant booths. It wasn’t too crowded yet, so we had time to walk through and check everything out. We both decided on Korean chicken tacos from Takorean, a place Dianne has eaten at before and always sounded delicious to me. They were great!

We took a walk around the outside of the building to check out all the instagrammable spots.

And then back inside because I wanted to get one of these amazing looking donuts for dessert. It was so light and fluffy. Really good meal!

On the way back to the apartment we stopped at the farmer’s market right across the street. I didn’t get anything, but it’s always fun to check out the markets in different areas of the country. Back inside I took a little reading break while Dianne went for a run and then we headed back out to do some shopping. I got an amazing iced mocha from Pret and at Loft I picked out a great black and gray polka dot scarf. Then we went to the theater to watch The Hate U Give. I’ve been anxious to see it after reading the book and it didn’t disappoint! It was heavy, though! As expected.

For dinner we went to a place called Timber. Dianne had given me a gift certificate to go there as a birthday present and I intended to go Friday for lunch, but it wasn’t open – which was fine because I got some awesome Cava instead. Timber was pretty packed, so we ended up getting it to go and eating back at the apartment. Then we settled in for the night with our food and a movie. I was definitely ready to relax by then!

On Sunday morning, Dianne reserved a car to rent so we could drive to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a cute little city she’d been to a couple of times and thought I’d enjoy seeing. We had a few hiccups with our car rental and ended up with a huge van. It was fun driving there because I got to be in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia all in about a three minute span. My first time in WV! We were able to grab the last parking spot in the town’s very limited lot and had a fast breakfast at a little cafe. This blueberry scone was SO good. The plain coffee, not so much. But it was hot and that was all that really mattered. It was SO COLD on Sunday.

Next we walked a bit of the Appalachian Trail! The picture makes it look like it was rainy, but really it was just gloomy and freezing cold and super windy. But the trail and the town itself were beautiful!

We walked up a big hill to see a rock that Jefferson once stood on. The city was built on a hill, so I did a more stair climbing and hill walking than I have in basically forever (31 flights according to my fitbit!). It was rough on my ankle, but I survived!! When the sun came out Harpers Ferry looked so quaint and lovely.

There weren’t a ton of things to see, but we did go into all the little shops. I liked the bookstore and a candy shop that sold “candy” that people would have eaten from biblical times through today. It was really interesting to see the progression. Overall, I loved getting out of DC and seeing something unique and special! It was so awesome how Dianne had the whole trip planned out so well.

Before leaving we got lunch at a small cafe. It was simple, but really hit the spot after all the walking and climbing.

Next on our agenda was a stop in the city of Frederick, Maryland. They have a big downtown filled with unique shops. I bought Greg and the boys some fun candy and I got myself some tea and spices. Then we headed back to the apartment and finished the night at their local taqueria. This might have been the tastiest meal of the trip. If I had a taqueria in my neighborhood with those prices I’d be there every day!! The fried chicken taco with the habanero salsa was so good. I also had some Mexican creamy rice that didn’t make the photo, but was really good. It was a great end the day!

On Monday morning we just got ready and headed out. Everything was timed pretty well so I had plenty of time for every mode of transportation, but was never just sitting around and bored for long stretches. The day still seemed to last forever, but it was good to be home. Vacations are great, but it’s always nice to settle back in at home. But yes – overall, a great little getaway that took my mind off of a lot of stressful things for a few days. I really needed it and had a lot of fun!

Weekend Reflections and Intentions 10.14.2018

I am in such a rebel mode this week. Really, this entire month. If it’s something I feel like I’m supposed to be doing, or something someone else expects of me – I just don’t want to do it. Plain and simple, I am avoiding basically all responsibilities and obligations and going into hiding. I just don’t want to DO anything. I’m sick of sewing and I want to step away from it for awhile. I’m tired of being the organizer of all plans and am refusing to keep stepping into that role. I haven’t been in the mood to write, so I haven’t been, even though it’s supposed to be one of my main focuses these days. I’m so tired of clutter and mess and somehow letting my kids get away with basically doing nothing for the last 10 and 7.5 years of their lives. I need a break. And some clarity would be nice! I’m sick of all this mental flailing that is pretty much leaving me a useless shell right now.

Anyway, here’s a recap of the week. It was pretty good overall. I’m just having some mental challenges that are really messing up my productivity.

Monday I was feeling pretty sick. Probably a combination of the antibiotics I was on, too many days in a row of restaurant food, and not getting enough quality sleep. I ran a few errands around town and did some general housekeeping and laundry, but I just felt so icky. I took Shepard to piano lessons in the afternoon and the school turtle crossed the whole cage so he could sit right there and stare at me while I read. It was a little bit creepy.

Tuesday was more of the same. I tried to work, but spent most of the day lazing around because I just felt like crap.

I took Annie to the dog park after dinner. Even though nobody was around to play with, she was just SO HAPPY to have the space and freedom to run around. I really need to get back into the habit of taking her as often as possible before it gets icy. I still took her quite frequently on the ice last winter, but I don’t think that’ll be happening this year. I never want to break a bone again.

Wednesday night Shepard and I watched a Great British Baking Show. We watched the last few episodes of Making It a few other nights this week. It’s so fun to sit down and watch a show with him that we both equally enjoy! I realize this is quite normal for most families, but it’s pretty much a foreign concept around here. We very rarely watch tv together – or at all for the boys – and when we do, there’s always at least one person who is really not that interested.

Wednesday was a scheduled late start and I was bound and determined to get some work done in the morning. I finished up this custom Anne of Green Gables doll for a friend. I LOVE how it turned out! It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the bodice fabric has images of Green Gables and Anne’s silhouette and the skirt fabric is a bunch of Anne’s most famous quotes. The friend who I made it for is opening it on her birthday tomorrow, so I can’t wait to hear if she likes it or not!

I spent the rest of the day running errands and working on the rest of my doll batch. We were having some issues with Caden in the evening – a pretty common occurrence these days. And always? We were all going to go to his first archery meeting, but Greg ended up taking the boys so I could keep working and have an hour of quiet.

I finished up the rest of my dolls on Thursday morning. It’s so hard to figure out if doll making is really what I want to do for the rest of my life. Or…the next five years, or whatever. The monotony of just doing the same cycle of creating over and over and over again with every batch has gotten so old. I obviously do have creative freedom in what I choose to make, but…they’re all still dolls. I’ve been venturing out from strictly making red striped Raggedy Anns these last few months, but I’m not sure it’s enough to satisfy whatever it is inside of me that’s crying out for MORE. Or less?? I really don’t know anymore. I decided to take a small break from it for the next week and a half, at least, in hopes that I might get some fresh perspective on how to proceed, or not, in this particular career path.

Late morning, my mom came over and we went to Waunakee to celebrate my birthday – my last celebration. There are a few really cute stores we stopped in at and then had lunch at The Lone Girl Brewing Company. The restaurant was really cute, but I’m not sure the food was intriguing enough to go back. It was a fun time, though!

It got really cold this week! Actually, it was in the 80’s on Monday and in the 30’s on Friday. Just a typical Wisconsin fall week! The boys flat out refuse to wear coats yet, but they were digging out all the extra winter accessories.

I finally finished up my book corner with my remaining birthday presents – a new lamp from Timmy, Brittany, and Hudson, and a fun book themed pillow from my mom. The top shelf is books that I really like and want to own a copy of. The lower shelf is my all time favorite fiction that I most definitely want to read again and again in my lifetime (and a short stack of currently reading). I actually have a few more bookish art prints to hang up around the area, once I find frames for them. Then it’ll really be complete!

On Friday morning I had a coffee date with my friend Laura. It was great to catch up! Then I took an extremely long nap/lazy lay in bed reading afternoon. Still so tired and both mentally and physically exhausted. Right after school Greg’s dad picked up the boys and took them to the Kalahari and Greg and I went on a date night to Sake House. I just could not make another restaurant decision, so this was Greg’s choice. It was good. We came back home and watched a movie. Not the most exciting night, but it was nice to spend time together and have some good conversations.

I got up early on Saturday to hit the farmer’s market. There are only a few weeks left and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go again. I didn’t buy much, but it’s always fun to be there! I stopped at Trader Joe’s and Target on the way back home and then spent the rest of the day being pretty lazy! Theme of my week, apparently.

Today has been mostly lazy too. I didn’t feel very well this morning and just wanted to read. Then I worked on finishing up my new birthday shelf organization. It took me so long because I wanted to go through my eleven binders of printed recipes, plus three year’s worth of printouts I never put IN binders, to take out the ones I never use and combine them down into just five binders. All of my tried and true recipes are in there and there are just so many great options that I really don’t need to ever look online or in a cookbook for inspiration again. I just need to remember they exist when I’m desperate for ideas! The top two shelves of the bookcase are books I haven’t read yet. Yikes! They’re almost all nonfiction too. I need to get on that! The bottom two shelves are my most used cookbooks. I love this shelf!

Besides all that, I’ve also been making cookies for conferences tomorrow, baking some breakfasts for the week, and doing a bit of cleaning. We also got the very unfortunate news that the boys had bedbugs in their hotel room Friday night. AGAIN. So we, though mostly Greg because I’ve been otherwise occupied, is a bit in crisis mode again, doing massive amounts of laundry of everything the boys have touched in the last 24 hours. He’s decided none of us are ever going to a hotel again. Not fun times, you guys.

Sunday Intentions

The week ahead is looking good! It’s conference day tomorrow, so no school. The boys don’t have conferences until late afternoon, so it should be a pretty laid back day. Hopefully some friends are around to play and I can work on going through my closets. I desperately need to figure out my winter clothing situation. I’m never prepared for the drastic temperature drops every year. I’m also not quite sure if I have any jeans that fit and I need to know that asap so I can go buy some on Tuesday if I need to. But yeah, then conferences, then Shepard’s Culver’s night fundraiser for school, and then he and I get to WORK at the fundraiser. At Culver’s, cleaning tables and stuff. Can’t wait. 😛 He is SO excited, though.

Tuesday will probably be a general errands day, plus packing day. Trying to get everything organized for Greg and the boys being on their own for five days. Wednesday I have a follow up appointment with my internal doctor to talk about how the BP meds are working. I thought they were making me really sick, but now I think it was actually the antibiotics. They’re working, because my BP is within range pretty much every day. But we still need to talk in person, I guess.

And on Thursday I’m flying to DC! My long last postponed vacation from April. I’m super excited to get away for a few days! Dianne has so many great things planned for us. We’re even heading to the town of Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia for a day. I’m slightly worried about how my ankle will hold up to extra walking, but I think it’ll be fine. At any rate – it’ll be so worth any pain that might occur! A real vacation, sharing fun times with my best friend. It’s EXACTLY what I need right now. I’ll be there until I fly back Monday afternoon.

And that’s my week! Like I said earlier, I’m taking a break from work. Not a whole lot of time this week to start new dolls anyway. I just want to focus on getting the rest of my life more organized and in order. Maybe by the end of the month I’ll feel a lot more clear on what I should be doing with myself!

Have a good week!

Birthday Week Reflections 10.07.2018

Hello! Well, today is my 34th birthday and I’m at the end of celebrating my birthday week. I feel like I’ve kind of been getting some passive aggressive flak for all of my mini celebration pictures I’ve been posting online the last few days. I’m not going to apologize for it, guys. If you want a birthday week, YOU CAN HAVE ONE. The only person stopping you is yourself. 🙂 I like to think of my birthday as a weeklong celebration because it really takes the pressure off of having one really special and perfect day. Because let’s face it – if you have kids, a job, a life of any sort – it’s pretty hard to pull off a perfect day. So to try and stave off that disappointment, I spread things out so I have something little to look forward to every day. Plus, the only way you can really celebrate with everyone is to have a big party. And maybe it’s just me, but it feels a bit more embarrassing to throw yourself a huge party every year, as an adult. 🙂 I had a hard enough time just asking a couple of friends to give up a night to come out with me. Anyway, little daily celebrations it is!

So! Monday started off with Caden waking us up super early because he was sick. Already interrupting my plans. But after a lot of extra sleep he was feeling a lot better, so I left him with a package of saltines, video games, and his open chromebook so he could keep in constant messaging contact with me, and ran out to do the errands I desperately needed to do as fast as possible. And then I squeezed in a fast lunch at Qdoba. I was dying to try their Chicken Diablo nachos. They were so tasty, but crazy messy!

The rest of Monday was packed with cleaning out the pantry and fridge, doing a lot of housework and laundry, and making a big batch of chicken noodle soup for dinner. After school Shepard had his first piano lesson. He was SO excited about it!

I was super excited on Monday night because the announcement came through that Book Bonanza 2019 tickets were on sale! They had their first book bonanza this last August, in Denver, at the same time we were in LaCrosse. I found out about it way too late to have gone, but I was so jealous of everyone there! It is organized by Colleen Hoover (my favorite), but features a ton of authors. Rachel Hollis was even one of the keynote speakers at that conference. Anyway, I was anxiously awaiting to hear when and where next year’s bonanza would be and at the beginning of September they announced it would be in Dallas. In August. Blech. It was also more expensive than I was expecting and just kind of wrote it off and not going to happen, even though I was super disappointed. ANYWAY, come Monday, I was telling Greg that tickets finally went on sale and he told me I should buy my ticket! I couldn’t believe he was serious, but that’s the kind of guy he is. 🙂 So even though it feels like a totally self indulgent and expensive solo vacation, I am going to Book Bonanza next year!!!! 48 hours of author panels and signings and keynote speeches and yummy food all in an amazing looking hotel filled with fellow book lovers just outside of Dallas. I’ve never been to Texas, so that’ll be exciting too, even though I don’t think I’ll see anything besides Grapevine, the city where the hotel is. But still! Even though it’s 10 months away, I am so psyched. I have my room booked too because it’s all at the same place. So I just need to find a flight, sometime.

On Tuesday morning I had to go back to Fitchburg to get some quick lab work done. I had originally planned to stop at World Market afterward and then spend an hour or two at the big Barnes and Noble before getting back home in early afternoon. Instead I overbooked myself, AGAIN, and went to like ten stores. By the time I got to Barnes and Noble I was so exhausted that I left after five minutes. It was still a nice day, but I was kind of mad at myself for not just sticking to the thing I was really looking forward to.

Tuesday after school we lost Shepard again. This time it was a mixup because the boys had a new meetup plan, but Shepard forgot about it during the day and never found Caden. Caden ran to school, talked to all of Shepard’s friends who hadn’t seen him, and ran all the way back home to get me. Once again, it was pretty scary, but only lasted a few minutes before we found him. It made me realize that we just need to be a lot more consistent. It’s unfair to expect a 7 year old to remember all the different plans every single day.

Wednesday was the only day I took Annie on a longer walk and then I had my first Writing Wednesday, writing a few blog posts. Annie had a grooming appointment in the afternoon. While she was gone my birthday present from Steve and Cindy arrived – a new bookcase!!!

The guys spent the night building it for me while I read on the chair.

Annie found the most awkward spot to sleep while it was being built! 🙂 It took me until Saturday to get my books set up, but I’m not quite happy with my arrangement yet. I’ll get a picture up when I figure out the rest!

On Thursday morning Shepard lost a tooth that’s been barely hanging on for the last six weeks. He HATES losing teeth. But I think he was really relieved that it came out with little fanfare this time around. He just woke up and it fell out of his mouth!

Thursday was mostly a workday, pretty uneventful. Then I went out to one of my favorite restaurants, Monk’s, with two of my friends.

I really appreciate that they made time to come out with me. I was in kind of a depressed mood earlier in the day, thinking about how drastically my friend situation has changed in the last few years. On my 30th birthday I had about 14 awesome friends go out to Chili’s with me and it was amazing. And now every year I have fewer and fewer of those friendships left. Everyone is so busy. It’s just a whole issue I’m having a really hard time reconciling with. But it’s also not really something I can talk openly about without probably hurting or ruining the friendships I have left. At any rate, it was nice to go out. It hasn’t happened in a long time!

On Friday I worked for a couple more hours and then went to see A Star is Born by myself. It was so good!! I wasn’t really prepared for the ending which left me in a pretty somber mood, but I thought Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper had amazing chemistry. I really enjoyed it. It’s also been so long since I’ve been to a movie! It’s one of my favorite things, going by myself during the day. I hope I can make it a more regular thing now that better movies are going to start popping up again! After the movie I FINALLY spent some more time at Barnes and Noble. 🙂

Then for dinner I met Greg and the boys and my in-law’s at Willie Ty’s. I really just wanted to go there for all their flavored aiolis! I wasn’t feeling super hungry, so I just picked a regular grilled cheese and savored my sweet potato fries with habanero aioli.

We came back to our house for birthday cupcakes and a couple more gifts. It was a really nice night!

Birthday flowers, from Cindy.

I had a pretty lazy Saturday. I contemplated going to the farmer’s market, but I’ve been running around so much the last few weeks it just wasn’t appealing to me. So I spent a few hours working and a few hours reading and resting. We made a pizza for lunch that turned into a monster.

Mid afternoon we went to my favorite place to get pumpkins in Horicon. Shepard and I had a great time picking out a big variety to decorate the porch with. (Caden was having a fit and Greg was dealing with that.)

Then we went to my parents’ to celebrate with them. They made an amazing meal, like always! As much as I love eating in restaurants, it was great having a more wholesome homemade meal!

We just hung out and laughed at all of Annie and Gracie’s doggy antics. I opened my presents and got this awesome stack of books, among other things. Can’t wait to dig into them! I think I’ll start with It’s All Under Control as one of the nonfiction books I’d like to read this month.

We had chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. I had a really nice evening!

And that brings me to today, my actual birthday! I didn’t want to commit to any plans specifically until I knew what I felt like doing today. Weekend birthdays aren’t really my favorite because kids are just around and not making life so easy. But they were actually great all day! We had Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants for an easy breakfast and then I spent most of the morning finishing up a good book.

My big reading chair was my main birthday present, but they also gave me a few treats they picked out at Walgreens and some spices I had asked for.

I set up the pumpkins and we got this nice picture!

One of the things I kind of wanted to do today was check out this craft fair in Sun Prairie. I rallied everyone to go and then it started raining. You had to pay to get in and it just didn’t seem worth it. So we continued on to Madison and had lunch at BelAir Cantina. It’s where I really wanted to eat today, but didn’t really want to bring it up because it was such a long drive. I was also worried the boys wouldn’t really like it because SHOCKER, no chicken tenders on the menu! But it actually turned out to be an awesome lunch. The boys kept shouting that it was the best restaurant EVER. They loved all the different salsas. It’s pretty rare that the four of us go out to dinner by ourselves ever, and when it does happen there’s usually a lot of complaining about something or other. But no complaints today! It was really great! And the food was fantastic. I actually ate here last year on my birthday too, with just Greg. The atmosphere is so much nicer on a Sunday at lunch than later on a Saturday night!

I stopped at Starbucks for my free birthday drink on the way home. I just got the Starbucks app a few weeks ago – I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that reward! 🙂

Back at home I took a long nap with Rory, my favorite nap buddy.

I didn’t really have any dinner plans and wasn’t super hungry, but Greg wanted to figure something out so he took the boys to Subway to pick up something easy.

I decided to make myself a caramel apple pie for my official birthday dessert, but I stupidly decided not to use a recipe. I totally forgot to use some sort of thickening agent and the store bought caramel I added to it must have been more of a dip than an actual caramel because the whole pie was totally liquified! The crust was good! I did use a recipe for that!! At least I got a picture with my boys giving real smiles!

And that was my birthday week! I think 34 will be a good year. The last year before I have to start checking the next age bracket in every survey people put out. 🙂 I still have a couple more minor celebrations coming up, but I’ll try not to be obnoxious about it. Many thanks to the family and friends that gave me a great week!

What I Read September 2018

September turned out to be kind of a mediocre month for reading. Only one five star hit and the rest were middle of the road. Here are the reviews!

The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy
Rating: 4.5 stars

I was greatly privileged to have been given the opportunity to be part of this book’s launch team and had a chance to read it two months before it’s release date. I was interested in reading it from the day it was announced because I’m OBSESSED with Knox’s podcast, The Popcast. I jumped at the chance to pre-order the book and was thrilled to be accepted on the launch team. Anyway – the book was fantastic! I think I might have laughed out loud at this book more than any other I have ever read. Knox has an innate talent at relating pop culture references to everyday faith and life. Each chapter has a unique look at different pop culture ideals and how they connected to his own life and helped shape his faith. What struck me most about this book was simply how much I could relate to it! I’m knocking it down half a star rating because I think if you are not in your 30’s, or you didn’t pay any attention to pop culture in the last 30 years, you probably won’t get as much out of this book. There were quite a few sports references that went over my head because I care nothing about sports, though the names of many were at least recognizable to me. But the tv and movie references? SO on point. And absolutely hilarious. Knox’s church experience was also so similar to my own growing up that it made for a supremely entertaining book and I would recommend it to anyone!

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 5 stars

(Contains spoilers if you haven’t read the first book!) Feyre has defeated Amarantha and been given new life by all seven High Lords, remaking her body into that of a High Fae. She is taken back to the Spring Court with Tamlin, whose freedom she fought valiantly for. She struggles deeply with what she had to do to gain his freedom and becomes increasingly depressed and distraught with this new immortal life. Desperate to keep her safe at all cost, Tamlin basically keeps her locked in the house and refuses to help her learn her new gifts, insisting all she needs is his protection. Feyre begins to waste away and Tamlin is so obsessed with keeping her protected that he doesn’t SEE her anymore. On the day of their wedding, Feyre desperately cries out internally for someone to do something and stop this from happening. And surprise, surprise, SOMEONE just happens to show up. I had a hard time reconciling with this new turn of events, even though it was fairly obvious by the end of the first book that Rhysand was going to play a much more important role in Feyre’s life. I wanted to remember all the good in Tamlin and all the bad in Rhys. But as the story goes on and Feyre realizes how much more she can be, how much bigger of a role she can play in saving their people, it gets SO GOOD. And the epic romance that verrrry slowly burns through the book? Wow, just wow! I honestly don’t care much about all the battles and political stuff, which is why I rarely read fantasy like this. But the characterization is so fabulous I was melting by the end. I loved this book just about as much as the first.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 4 stars

(Spoilers) It took me a really, really long time to get through this book. As much as I ADORED the first two books in the series, I felt like there was something left to be desired now that Rhysand and Feyre are together and most of the new love sexual tension has been dissolved. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a pretty sexy book – in between all the war talk and war planning and war fighting. This book is really mostly just about the war and getting all the high lords and their courts to gather and cooperate to try and defeat the horrible Hybern. I continued to love this entire cast of characters and was particularly happy to see how Tamlin played into the final chapters. I never would have given up on this book, but I think I did hit my fill of this series overall for awhile. Maas is such an incredible author to have woven this extensive and unique series together, though. One of my favorites!

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Rating: 3.5 stars

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started this long and incredibly detailed graphic memoir. I was under the impression that it was a great love story, but was surprised to realize how much of it was really about the author questioning and ultimately denying his faith after growing up in an extreme Christian household. I appreciate how well done it was, but found the entire book to just be very sad with little redemptive qualities. It was memoir, so I know it couldn’t exactly be changed. But I wish there had been more of a conclusion between Craig and his brother and Craig and Raina and her family. It is a remarkable book, but maybe not exactly for me.

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel
Rating: 4 stars

This is a fun little book that shines a light on all the joys of being a reader. It’s filled with essays on book love, reading problems, and funny book related stories. I enjoyed the book because I could relate to so many of Anne’s feelings on the reading life. There’s nothing particularly deep about the book, and there were a couple of chapters that were so specific to particular books she had read that I just wasn’t interested in, that led me to skim through. But most of the chapters were sweet, happy, and made me nostalgic for all of my own reading and book related memories.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Rating: 4 stars

This was a really sweet and simple palette cleanser type of a book. Likeable characters that treat each other with kindness and respect. A pretty straight forward love story without a ton of obstacles to weigh it down. Fast paced with lots of laughter. I liked it a lot. (And I obviously don’t have a ton to say about it!)

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Rating: 3.5 stars

This very short story popped up as being free for Prime members one day. Between books I decided to read it that night. It was an interesting little story that takes place entirely between the spouses of a man and woman who had an affair with each other. The woman finds the letters her husband was writing to the woman he was having an affair with and she decides to write letters to the woman’s husband so he knows what is going on. They have a unique six months or so of writing to each other while they work out their feelings and decide what to do with the affair taking place, without their spouses knowing they know about it. It sounds very convoluted to describe it! Anyway, as a short story, which I tend to never read because they don’t give me a enough satisfaction, I really liked it. But I also wonder what the point of publishing this was, other than as a quick money maker for the author. That’s what leaves me a bit confused and knocking off a star and a half. I would have loved to have read this as a full novel.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
Rating: 3 stars

I was looking for books for Caden’s birthday and happened upon this one by Sharon Creech, author of my favorite childhood book, Walk Two Moons. I basically had to buy it because it’s about a donkey. Actually, a MINI donkey. (My favorite animal!) It’s a very sweet and fast paced story about a boy who offers to take care of a very sickly newborn donkey whose mother couldn’t take care of it. It was pretty simplistic for an adult reader, but it was sweet. I liked it.

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Rating: 3 stars

I have to start by saying that I really dislike books that bring up some sort of secret the narrator has and constantly makes references to, but takes forever to let the reader in on. That was this book. You don’t find out the big bad secret until 80% into the book. 80%! I thought the book was okay besides that. I enjoyed the fact that they were traveling through Ireland because I’m all about Ireland. I liked the character of Rowan. But the annoying fighting between Addie and Ian that never let up over the secret were not so enjoyable to read about. The whole thing was just okay.

Purple Orchids by Samantha Christy
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is the story of Gavin and Baylor and their intense yet brief college romance that was torn apart by a pretty spectacularly stupid misunderstanding, to be reunited eight years later and have to deal with the repercussions of that distance. For the most part, I liked the book. I felt like the author added a few too many crazy elements near the end that were attempting to make the story bigger than it should have been. I also really didn’t like how many times the words “my dick” were referenced. Probably hundreds of times. Men can feel with their minds too, maybe?? Anyway, I did enjoy the characters and the story, but this also wasn’t one of my favorites. I’m not sure I’ll get around to reading the other books in the series.

That’s it for September! I’m hoping to read some more creepy/mystery/thriller type seasonal books in October, so hit me up if you have any great recommendations!

October Goals

It’s the third day of October and I already feel like whatever I had planned for myself this month needs to be readjusted. Yesterday I had this great special day planned out just going to the big Barnes and Noble on the west side of Madison and spending hours browsing through books. I ended up going at least ten different stores first, rushing, stressed, and completely exhausted. After five minutes in the bookstore I realized I wasn’t in the right headspace to enjoy it, so I left. By evening, when there were still all these things I had wanted to do waiting for me, I honestly just felt sick and ready to drop. So I had to take a bit of a step back and reevaluate the goals I’d like to set this month to keep myself both sane and productive. And happy!

1. Stick to three!

I write out my to do list for the next day every night before I go to bed. I often add more things in the morning. Usually there are anywhere from 10-20 things I’d like to accomplish in a day. And, well, it’s impossible to do that much and do it well and still feel like a happy person by the end of the night. So I’m going to try out a slightly new system where I think long and hard before deciding on the top three things I want to get done every day. I will do those things first and I’ll do them to the best of my ability. And if I accomplish just those three things in a day, it will be enough. IT WILL BE ENOUGH. There will always by a million more things to do. But can you really enjoy life if all you’re doing is trying to check things off a list as fast as possible? I want to be genuinely honest with myself and my schedule that day before making my list and considering three things that truly are doable and will make me feel the most accomplished. Ideally I’d like my top priorities to be in three separate categories – like self care, home management, work, outside obligations, family relationships, etc. My goals today were to walk Annie for 45 minutes (it was tough to keep going today, but I did it!), clean the family room (because Greg keeps tripping over things and it always looks messy and it’s driving us both nuts), and write this blog post. I’m still going to add to my list beyond the three things, but the point is that all I NEED to do is the three. And then I can congratulate myself for a day well done. 🙂

2. Implement Writing Wednesdays

I’ve been struggling with how to give myself permission to write more. I know this isn’t really the case, but it feels like I always need to decide if I want to take my life in a sewing direction or a writing direction. Writing will give me more personal fulfillment, I know that. But it’s a long shot that I’ll ever make money from it. Sewing is enjoyable, but it’s not really my passion in life anymore. But it brings me a bit of income and the more I put into it the more money I make. Nobody is forcing this on me except myself, but I feel like if I want to keep staying home while my kids are at school, I need to at least be making a little bit of money while I do it! So sewing always feels like the priority. And lately it’s making me resentful. Anyway! I decided that to start with, I am giving myself full permission to write on Wednesdays. Not only permission, that is what I SHOULD be doing, every Wednesday. Blog posts, journal entries, short stories, letters, whatever. Wednesday will be my writing day. I’m also going to try not to schedule much else or run errands on Wednesdays, so I have as much home time as possible to actually make this happen.

3. Work 20+ hours a week, during the DAY

I feel like this might be a tough one. I’m already taking away Wednesdays, and I usually spend most of either Monday or Tuesday running errands, with at least one other day of random errands as well. I’ve definitely still been living on the high of being able TO run errands by myself again, after the long summer of never going anywhere because taking my kids with me was miserable. But it’s seriously time to buckle down and get into a better habit of staying home and focusing on making money rather than spending money! I want to get a lot more focused with all the holiday dolls and potential sales I have coming up in the next three months. I also want to try and go back to only working during the day. I should save things like laundry and house cleaning for the evenings when I can try and recruit the rest of my family to help out. I should start treating Heartstring Annie as my true job again, that needs to be done during the day. Because it IS my job and I’m allowed to make it a top priority.

4. Finish at least 3 nonfiction books

I have soooo many unread nonfiction books. I’m constantly finding more nonfiction books I want to read. And they all look incredible! But finding the time to sit down and actually read them is nearly impossible. I’m always so hooked on whatever fiction book I’m reading that it’s hard to pick up something else, no matter how enticing it is. But this is the month I’m going to do it!

5. Have a lot of fun!

Yes, I feel like I almost need to make this a full goal for myself every month or I get too caught up in the to dos and stress and never really enjoy myself. But October is my favorite month because it’s my birthday month! It’s my birthday week right now! I have a lot of special dinners planned with different people in the next week. I have a full weekend of potential activities that I get to force my family to go along with because “it’s my birthday!” The boys are going to a hotel with the grandparents next weekend so Greg and I can go on a fun date again. The next weekend I’m finally getting to DC to hang out with my best friend for four days. And the following weekend is trick or treating and our annual Halloween party. This is another month jam packed with opportunities for fun and memory making. I want to work really hard during the days so I can fully enjoy myself with every other part of my life this month!

That’s it for goals! I think they are all fully achievable. Hopefully I’ll be back here in four weeks to say I actually did everything on this list!

What I Watched and Listened To September 2018

September turned into a pretty big tv month as I was scrambling to find something new to watch during my workdays, while also enjoying the startup of some of my favorite shows. I also have a couple of specific podcast episodes I want to highly recommend. As usual, spoilers are probably going to happen.

TV – Alone

Bachelor in Paradise

I stuck with this one to the end. Definitely not as enticing as The Bachelorette, but I was curious enough to keep up with it. So much drama! I really can’t imagine anyone truly finding love under that odd set of circumstances. But, it’s tv.

Making It

I’m very slowly making my way through this six episode show. It’s kind of funny, kind of corny, kind of intriguing. Shepard likes to watch it with me.

Alone Together

I watched the first season of this and found it to be pretty funny. Except it bothers me how much the two main characters basically look like they should be twins. Maybe that’s the point?

Atypical

I watched the second season and really enjoyed it. This family treats autism so kindly. It’s really touching and the characters are so real. I like it a lot.

Great British Baking Show

It’s back! I’m only a couple episodes in, but it’s much fun as always! Even with a new judge and two different hosts, I still really enjoy it. Shepard too!

Shameless

Sometimes this show just kills me. Why do the characters have to constantly self sabotage themselves?! I’m curious what will happen to Fiona since she’s leaving the show. Lip is still my favorite. Ian is so messed up. Debbie is so annoying. I’m almost most intrigued by Carl because he’s the only person doing good and kind things, after such horrible character flaws the first many years of the show.

Take Two

I’ve only watched the first two episodes of this kind of ridiculous actress turned private detective drama. But I think I liked it! I’m sure it won’t be a favorite, but it’ll be a nice filler.

The Resident

I’m soooo happy this is back! It’s one of my all time favorites. That first episode of season two was a doozy! I LOVE IT.

The Good Doctor

Also really happy this is back! I like it almost as much as The Resident.

TV – Together

The Affair

We finally caught up and finished this one. Such a sad ending! Also, why can’t it just be over?! How are they possibly going to go on after Alison’s death? Literally all I have wanted out of this show was Cole and Alison getting back together and that clearly cannot happen, despite Cole realizing how much he loved her. I did really like this season, though.

Better Call Saul

I’m enjoying this too. It’s sad to see Jimmy and Kim drifting apart. But it’s nice how little they’re focusing on the drug side of things. I care much more about Jimmy/Saul.

Killing Eve

This show was so crazy! Villanelle – what a psychopath! It just made me laugh so much. I liked it a lot.

Maniac

It’s slim pickings for our together tv time right now. We started this one and it’s so bizarre. I hear you have to get through five episodes to form a true opinion. We’ve watched four so far. I was ready to quit after the first one, but the following three were much more interesting.

Movies

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

This is one of my all time favorite movies, but I probably haven’t watched it in at least eight years. The Popcast did a deep dive of it for their Patreon supporters, so I wanted to watch it with fresh eyes before listening to the episode. I was happy to see that it kind of stands the test of time. I still loved it!

Sierra Burgess is a Loser

I rather liked this high school rom com. The internet’s been going crazy over Noah Centineo in To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I actually preferred his character in this movie. He’s a cutie!

Podcasts

Penpals: Acting Your Age & Family Traditions

I loved this episode so, so much. One minute I was laughing hysterically and the next minute I was crying listening to the family traditions half of the episode.

Rise Together: 5 Ways to Show Up for Your Partner (both episodes)

I really love this podcast and all it’s pertinent advice for married couples. I thought these two episodes were especially useful. It’s kind of like getting little therapy sessions – especially if you can get your partner to listen to it too. I’m getting a little burned out on Rachel Hollis as a realistic example of what a woman can do with her life (you can do anything when you can afford to pay for tons and tons of help!), but I’m always very interested in what she and Dave have to say about relationships.

My Dad Wrote a Porno – S4E5 ‘Turkey Sandwich?’

So you really have to listen to this podcast in its entirety, but I thought this particular episode was so fantastic because the three friends talked more about their real lives and less about the book. I SO wish they’d just do a regular podcast all the time, instead of just three months of Rocky Flintstone’s erotica. They just sound like the absolute best of friends and I love hearing about THEM and not just their reactions to the book.

Currently Reading

This is a new podcast that started last month by two members in the large facebook book club I’m in. I’m really enjoying it if you’re also looking for a podcast where people just talk about the books they’re reading!

And as always, be sure to check out:

The Popcast
Front Porch with the Fitzes
Spilled Milk
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
The Lazy Genius
The Bible Binge

I’d love to hear your recommendations for tv, movies, and podcasts!

Quick September Goals Recap

September is almost over! I realize that nobody else probably cares about all these goals and intentions posts, but it really helps me to organize my thoughts at the beginning and end of every week and month to make the most of my time and live life with as much intention as possible. For awhile I was making goals by season, but every month holds so many different priorities that I’ve switched over to just focusing on each four week block at a time. So here’s a (hopefully) quick recap on how I feel like my September goals played out!

1. Get back to routine:
– Wake up by 5:30 and get ready right away
– Start each day with a quiet time and day organization
– Use any remaining time before 6:30 to do something for myself
– Focus on the boys and school stuff until it’s time to leave
– Walk them to school and walk extra with Annie
– Get to work by 9:00 and stay focused
– Focus on the boys between school pick up and dinner
– End each day with the bullet journal, tracking, and prepping the next day

I think I did a pretty great job with this one! I never have a problem waking up early and most days I was up around 5. I had enough time to shower and get out of the bathroom before Greg woke up. I wasn’t great about it on weekends, but every weekday I’d start with a quiet and devotional time and do a bit of prepping for the day in my bullet journal. And most days I used that remaining me time to read. There were a few days I chose to get a little bit of work done in that time, but I tried to stick with things that were purely for my own enjoyment. Getting back into the school day routine was easier than ever this year. I walked them every day, except the days they rode their bikes, and a few days it was raining. And with the exception of the rain days, I also walked Annie. Not always as long or as far as I would have liked, but more than just coming straight back home. I wasn’t particularly great at getting to work at 9 because there were just so many weird days and random errands I had to run. But I did try to be done with my random internet time by 9 every day so I could focus on actually accomplishing something. I made dinnertime prep a higher priority than I put it during the summer and tried to be more emotionally available to the boys, though most days they were with their friends during that stretch. And I ended almost every day doing a little bit of journaling. Some days time got away from me and I chose to go watch tv with Greg instead of making him wait any longer. But overall, I think the routine stuff was kind of a breeze! I LOVE fall when I can finally get back into the swing of everything. Summer is too chaotic and random.

2. Focus on working

I was not super successful with this. It was a busy month. It’s hard to work at home when there are always eight million other directions my mind and energy should and could be going. Ideally I wanted to average working about 6 hours a day. I did track it and it averaged to about 3.5 hours per weekday, though really it was like three days of no work at all a week and two days of super long full day and night spans. I’d really like to be more consistent, only work during the day, and find a bit more balance between everything. But…it takes time. I didn’t write it in my goals blog post, but I also wanted to create 30 dolls in September. I made 29. I sold 21. Not too bad, but I hope to be better in the future.

3. Take care of my body
– Walk Annie at least 30 minutes a day with an extra nighttime walk
– Do the Yoga with Adriene 14 day challenge
– Eat better

I think I did better this month. I’ve been thinking a lot harder about everything I put into my body. I don’t always make the best choices, but I’m much more conscious about what I’m eating. I’m trying to streamline my daytime meals and snacks so I’m not tempted to overindulge. I’m trying to make healthier meals at night so we’re not just throwing junky things together last minute. I have a potential diet plan I MIGHT sign up for, but I wanted to be a little more lenient on myself until after my birthday next week. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to it yet. Anyway, I think I hit my walking goal most days. It’s pretty easy to get 30 minutes in. Those days were rough with the mosquitoes, though! I would have liked to have walked more and longer all of those days, but the bugs were horrific. And I totally failed at the yoga challenge. I did the first four days and then my ankles were so ridiculously sore that I could barely walk. I was also feeling really sick around day five from getting on the new blood pressure medicine and I just had to give it up. I like yoga – on occasion. Every day is too much for me. It’s definitely too much for my ankle still, seven months in.

4. Give Caden a great birthday month

I think I succeeded at this! We kept everything pretty low key this year, which really worked out. Trying to make things extravagant and super exciting never really goes over well with Caden. He likes to be home, he likes to do simple things. We had a nice small family birthday party, a very low energy video game friend birthday party, and a quiet real birthday split between playing games and going to a fall activities place. He seemed very happy with all of it.

5. Have fun!

Sometimes September really stresses me out. Oftentimes, actually. The boys are gone during the day, but they’re in horrific moods every night. I want to have great birthday parties for Caden, but it’s so stressful making sure the house is clean, the food is great, and everyone has a good time. And I’m often frustrated with myself for my inability to ever accomplish as much as I want to. But this time around – I really did have fun! I had my mini Chicago solo vacation with the added bonus of finding a great vintage market on the way, we had very low key birthday celebrations that didn’t really stress me out at all, Greg and I had a really great date night and picked out a reading chair that I’ve been wanting for like 15 years, I had a great time at Cranberry Fest with my weekends, and I kept my workload light enough that I still had lots of fun to just read, relax, and enjoy my life! Overall, it was a pretty great month!

Saturday Reflections 09.29.2018

Happy Saturday! It’s been a good week. Even though it wasn’t a SUPER productive week, I felt like I was really in the groove with everything and enjoyed myself. I like weeks like that!

Monday started with the boys biking to school on their own for the first time. I’m not sure I’ve ever let them bike at all during the school year, only once or twice during summer school. All the morning traffic going down the street they have to bike is pretty busy before and after school. But I’m trying to let them have a bit more independence and it worked out pretty well. Caden, who I expected to want to bike every day forever, was over it after day one. Shepard thinks it’s awesome, though, and I’m sure will be biking as often as possible now. The only thing I don’t like about this new freedom is that every single day we have to decide what the coming home procedure will be depending on which combination of transportation we each use in the morning. I’ve also haven’t been picking them up most days because it’s just such a huge waste of my time when they’re perfectly capable of getting home on their own. Plus it doesn’t make sense if they’re on bikes! It’s just an added little problem solving we have to not only think about, but talk about every single morning, which is already stressing me out a bit. But we’ll get used to it.

Monday is also after school clubs day. Week two, Caden still hated running club. This upcoming week he has an option to try a different class at the same time, but he’s been very noncommittal about it. I don’t want to force him to stay with it if he genuinely hates it, especially with his lego league later in the evening. But I hope he’ll give it at least one or two more weeks.

Monday was a very productive work day and I was able to get these six little Halloween dolls finished and listed by Tuesday morning, which was nice. I had time to go out and do a bunch of errands after listing, though I wasn’t feeling very good. My new blood pressure medication seems to make me feel pretty sick. I’ve had all kinds of mysterious new ailments in the week since I started taking it. I asked my doctor if there was something else I could go on and she wants me to stick with this. I’m currently testing a theory that a certain brand of coffee I’ve been drinking a lot of might also be contributing the my overall nausea, and after two days without it I’m thinking that might actually be the culprit. But I’m pretty sure my the medication is also giving me a potassium deficiency, causing all kinds of extra muscle cramps and aches this week. SIGH. I’m figuring it out. But…meh.

On Tuesday night we had a bit of a scare. We were watching one of the neighborhood boys for a few hours and he and Shepard asked if they could bike to the library together. We said sure, but an hour later when it was almost dark and they still weren’t home I was getting pretty nervous. So Greg and Caden walked to the library and they weren’t there. The next ten minutes were pretty terrifying as Greg ran back home to get his car and the neighbor got on his bike and they had to conduct a little search party around town until they found the boys on their way back home. It was so scary not knowing where they were. It really shook me up, especially since this was only the second day Shepard has had more adventurous biking privileges. But it was hard to be mad at him because he was so dang happy about the bag of books his older friend helped him pick out at the library. He normally hates to read, but he was so excited to read those books.

I spent Wednesday baking this birthday cake for my mother-in-law, Cindy. Like literally the entire day – ha! It was fun, though! I used to bake SO much, before I discovered my non-food related creative outlets. Spending an entire random day in September just giving myself over to the baking was really great! I saw this recipe a few weeks ago in my new cookbook, Bravetart. I had it mentally bookmarked as something I could possibly make for my own birthday, but decided I’d make it for Cindy instead. The recipe ended up being a lot more complicated and sciencey (SO many temperatures to follow for every single step!) than I expected, but it turned out great! 🙂

We had a pretty low key celebration as Steve and Cindy just got home from two weeks in Greece the day before. We ordered pizzas and hung out at our house for the night. It was nice to catch up after not seeing each other in awhile.

The boys had coffee for breakfast on Thursday. It was a one time special deal because we ordered this coffee from their friend’s fundraiser and they really wanted to try it. It was also Homecoming this week, though none of their dress days were particularly exciting, so I didn’t take pictures besides this day (hat day for Shepard).

It’s amazing how much older they both look with pants and hats!

Overall, Thursday was a pretty weird day. I had planned to work all day, but just couldn’t get motivated. I was tired, yet jittery. All I really wanted to do was read. Reading and prepping for Friday was really all I accomplished.

And Friday was Cranberry Fest day! My parents picked me up at 5:15 and we got to Warrens by about 6:45. Despite the original forecast of downpours, there was not a drop of rain in sight! It was definitely chillier than I was expecting, but manageable. We walked around for about five hours checking everything out and it was a lot of fun! The uneven ground was tough on my mom and I and our various physical issues, but I’d say we did pretty good overall.

My biggest and most surprising find was a new rug for our family room. I haven’t been super thrilled with the one we have because lots of kids plus dirty dog plus cream/gray/yellow colors is the perfect recipe for grungy icky looking carpet. This new one will be much better!

After Cranberry Fest we hit up Starbucks and all the Tomah shops we like to go to. Then headed over to LaCrosse for a few shops and our annual trip to Ulta. We usually always get HuHot for dinner, but this is the year we ate more food at Cranberry Fest and none of us were hungry enough for unlimited Mongolian bbq. We finished the day in the Dells at the craft barn and then had a late night dinner at new deli. Despite the physical pains, I think it was a really good day! I always have so much fun on our Cranberry Fest trips. Most years we go Friday and Saturday, but I think just going the once this year was about all we could handle. I definitely don’t feel like I missed out on anything, though. Perfect amount of time at every location!

Here’s most of what I bought. Last year I just got dip and two candles, so I guess I was much more successful this year! I also bought the rug, and a couple of Christmas gifts, and an antler for Annie. The cannoli and donut and bag on the right are also dog treats. 🙂

It was hard to get a good picture of the colors, but it matches this room perfectly! The browns match the furniture, the tan matches the wall, the blues match the ottoman and footstools. It’s like it was made for that room!

Greg was not super thrilled that I bought it, but then he found the exact rug on amazon for $500 (I paid $125), so I think he’s okay with it now… I like that it now perfectly matches the more mint green ottoman I got a few weeks ago online and thought was going to be more teal.

Anyway, that was my week! Today I’m  just in recovery mode. My legs are so sore from all the walking on bumpy grass yesterday. I’m also so cold today, it’s hard to be productive. We’re not a family to turn the heat on in September. But…after our first freeze last night, it’s pretty dang cold today! I’ve mostly just been reading and napping and doing a little bit of cleaning. I’m trying to get motivated enough to run over to the apple orchard, but I haven’t mustered it up yet. But I’m running out of time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!