How to Shape a Life You Love

Any life involves of a lot of the mundane. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a mom, a teacher. You still have clothes to wash, lines to wait in, errands to run. There are always dishes; you will need to eat; you have to make the bed in the morning and occasionally clean the toilet. Ok, I realize the bed thing is questionable for a lot of people but you have to wash the sheets once in a while at least.

Motherhood can seem like the ultimate combination of mundane activities. There are no exciting surgeries, no teacher awards. Nobody applauds when your child finally reaches those milestones you thought might never happen, although you might get a handful of facebook likes from that one. You never completely finish anything. Makes college classes seems nice, doesn’t it? So how do you learn to enjoy motherhood?

Episode 63: Breaking Down Goals

Because there’s nothing magical about January 1st, this week Phylicia and I are discussing our goals and words of the year. We also talk about how we arrived at our words and how we break down our goals into practical steps.

  1. Words of the year: Phylicia chose Settle and Lisa picked Make.
  2. How we arrived at our goals.
  3. How we make goals happen.
    • Visual reminders
    • Make to-do lists from goals

5 Things I’d Tell You: Volume 2, Fall Edition

I’ve never really enjoyed fall (because winter is coming quickly at that point) but this year I’m seeing a lot of shifting in myself that relates to the changing in the weather and schedules. It’s interesting to watch it develop and try to use some of that inspiration here in our home.

1. Fall is for food. I love to cook but fall seems to be the most perfect season for cooking because what’s better than soup or homemade bread when it’s getting crisp outside and the sun is setting a little earlier? I’m playing music and (attempting to) enjoy the work of cooking even during everything else going on. (Go check out Edie’s post and while you are there sign up to get her hospitality ebook. It’s amazing!)

2. Fall is for home. We moved the boys into the same room and we’re taking over the bedroom that has been the nursery since we moved here. We’ve got it painted and curtains are on the way and I find myself imaging how the room is going to come together once the new carpet is in. That’s when I’m not daydreaming about the plans for our current bedroom which is going to become the playroom/office. The cooling weather makes me want to nest around and make our home comfy and just right for our family.

Marriage After Kids

Through the rain I could see the fireworks that were exploding across the interstate. All five of us huddled in the back of the van- the smallest member much happier that the hatch was closed and it was quieter- crowding the windows.
 
“Don’t knock over your drink.”
“Stop putting your blanket on my head.”
“That’s my face!”
“No, we are not going to read the book right now. We’re watching fireworks.”
 
I never said any of those things while watching fireworks before I had kids. That’s when fireworks are romantic. You sit on lawn chairs and hold hands or stay in the car and make out while you wait. Then you lay your head on your beloved’s shoulder while the lights flash in the sky. Explosions in the air. Butterflies in the stomach.

The Benefits of Taking a Break

I took a small break over the holidays. I’ve never been good at resting because it makes me feel like a slacker. It’s much easier to calm my body than my mind. My mind spins 687 miles an hour thinking of all the things I could do when I’m trying to relax.

 
That break was very good for me. I tried to take a few more naps and edit a few fewer blog posts. I scrolled less and read more. I would say that I slept more- that was my initial goal- but I didn’t because I started reading Harry Potter.
 
I read books 4-7 during a Friday-Sunday time span. They aren’t small books and I try not to read when the boys are up unless they are watching George and eating their bedtime snack. Therefore I stayed up too late reading but they were worth it. (And for a review, I didn’t think there was more magic in them than there is in Disney movies; I thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, they are probably some of the best books I’ve ever read.)
 
Reading to me is a break. Reading might not be a break to you. What is? And how can you fit some of it in on purpose? (And not just because you are sick; that doesn’t count at all!)
 
break image
 
1. What can you stop doing? Now I can’t stop cooking dinner or washing clothes or bathing children. Those are necessities. Those people who say mothering is a 24/7 job aren’t kidding. But I could post on the blog once instead of twice. I could take a break from my daily writing/art work. I could not stress about checking off all my list. And I did all those things.
 
2. What do you need to finish? I did use that time to finish Make Time for Learning- the free resource my newsletter subscribers receive. Not needing to do all the normal work gave me plenty of time to work on it instead of stressing out squeezing it in somewhere.
 
3. What do you enjoy? I enjoy reading. And my picking up the first Harry Potter book the week before I started my break was- I would say coincidence but I don’t really believe in that. I would have had a harder time breaking without the books to read.
 
4. When can you schedule the break? The holidays were a perfect time because everyone was breaking. It didn’t matter if I posted less to the blog. I knew what I had accomplished all year working hard writing and drawing so I didn’t feel bad taking the break from those things. You have to find a time that fits with your schedule and work.
 
I’ve come out of the break slowly. It’s been a tad bit difficult to ease back into a routine but I expected that. Habits die hard. But I’ve been doing the work and the ideas have been flowing again. I’ve been writing down ideas for blog posts and podcast episodes and newsletter volumes. I’ve come up with lists of possible art projects and family outings.
 
What was most remarkable to me about the break was the reminder of how much I enjoy this work I do. Sometimes when you have your checklist of what has to happen to get the podcast produced and the posts published and the kindergarten done and dinner cooked it all seems like work. You start to miss the joy and the purpose. But when you stop for a break you start to remember what you love about writing, blogging, podcasting, cooking, having a family.
 
That helps me step into 2016 not feeling driven or harried but thankful. I can embrace my creative and family routines with gladness because I get to do them- not because I have to. And that makes such a difference.
 
How about you? Do you choose times of intentional rest? I’m already thinking about when I will schedule a few blocks of time this year!

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite thing to do with cookie dough isn’t to bake cookies. It’s to eat it. Raw, preferably after thawing for a few moments because it’s just better after it’s been frozen. This practice is enough to make my husband gag since he’s not into any form of raw dough. I’ve introduced our boys to bread dough (no egg since they break out) and he shudders at that too. 


These baked cookies are his favorite though. He loves to come home and see them cooling on the pan. Kevin’s always there to beg a bite too, as if he’s not eaten any. 

 


Here’s to cookies! Make them all and share with someone. Or make a pan, roll the rest of the dough into balls, and freeze for later. The toasted pecans are my favorite part but Justin doesn’t like them. Also- I’ve never tried to freeze the dough with nuts. I wouldn’t think it would be a problem but you let me know if you try it. 

(This did some from an old cookbook of my mama’s. We’ve made it for years.)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

other additions of your choice (white chocolate chips, m&m’s, candy bar chunks, etc.)


To toast pecans, melt one tablespoon butter in an oven-safe dish and add chopped pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring two or three times. You should start to smell a heavenly aroma. (You can also do this on the stovetop in a dry pan for a shorter amount of time but what’s the fun in that?)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.


In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars.

Beat in eggs and vanilla until just combined. 

Add flour mixture in thirds and mix well after each addition. 

Stir in toasted pecans and chocolate chips. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. 

Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Then you eat them. It’ll brighten up your Monday.