Category Archives: New Years

I plan to slow cook my life this year.

There are a lot of ways to usher in the New Year besides making traditional resolutions (and rage cleaning the linen closet). Some people choose words. Others choose mantras. This year, I’ve chosen all of it, including making one resolution even though I’ve grown to hate resolutions, especially when I have a habit of publishing them, making my failures searchable on the internet for eternity.

(Nope. Still haven’t written a book. Thanks for asking about it.)

This year, I’ve also drafted my “18 for 2018.” Inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, “18 for 2018” is a list of 18 things to do in 2018 to add happiness and adventure, promote health, and support healthy habits in big and small ways.

There are no guarantees with this stuff (or with anything in life), but I like the idea of saying it out loud—of putting my intentions out into the universe—even if I fumble. After all, failure is an excellent teacher.

Here goes…

Word: Sift

I want to sift, or sort, through everything I do, everyone I know, everywhere I go, and all the ways I spend waste my time. I want to keep what’s valuable and useful, and let the rest go.

Mantra: Slow down.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Also, when you’re busy, frazzled, and say yes to more things than you should. I plan to slow cook my life this year.

Resolution: Lose 10 pounds, drink less, read more, spend less time on screens, blah blah blah… I resolve to take 12,000 steps a day. That is all.

18 in 2018: I will print this list and hang it where I can see it every day. Ready set go.

  1. Go to brunch.
  2. Try stand-up comedy.
  3. Visit a long-distance friend.
  4. Travel somewhere I’ve never been.
  5. Plan a weekend getaway with my husband.
  6. Host a party.
  7. Mail a handwritten note to a friend or family member.
  8. Add yoga back to my schedule.
  9. Buy new beds for the entire family.
  10. Commit an act of political activism.
  11. Take (i.e. try) piano lessons.
  12. Make a small photo album for each kid filled with favorite baby pictures.
  13. Write the essay I am most afraid of writing.
  14. Take each of my kids on a “date with Mom.”
  15. See a non-kid movie in the theater.
  16. Join a book club.
  17. Choose 2-3 charities to support as a family.
  18. Subscribe to a newspaper.

How do you plan to usher in 2018?

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The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Must-Do List For 2017

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Stay-at-home motherhood is relentless. It’s always moving. It’s never still. But it’s also static, unchanging, and monotonous. It’s “Groundhog Day” with occasional location changes.

I’m grateful for every minute I’ve spent with my kids over the last decade, but I’m wistful for the version of me that performed on stage, planned press conferences, helped launch a non-profit organization, and lobbied for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

I’m a person who likes to take risks, surprise people, and get s**t done, but I’m also the default parent who runs the dishwasher twice a day but never seems to empty the sink of dishes.

I take great pride in the little people I’m raising to be happy, healthy, and caring adults, but I sometimes feel the weight of an elephant on my chest. I love where I am, except when I don’t. In other words, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but I sometimes want to run away…just so long as I’m back in time for the afternoon school pick-up.

If there’s a stay-at-home mom equivalent to a midlife crisis or the seven-year itch of marriage, I’m waist deep in it. It’s not necessarily a bad place. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m on the cusp of doing something great. I’m bursting at the seams to take risks, surprise people, and get s**t done again, which has resulted in me doing some unexpected, inspiring, and empowering things.

If you identify as a stay-at-home mom, default parent, or any person feeling stuck in the daily grind of parenthood (or life), I highly recommend you tackle these must dos in 2017. They’re not resolutions. They’re simple and bold actions that will remind you of your value, power, freedom, and potential.

Update your resume. I know you think there’s a huge gap since you last held a “real” job. You’re wrong. Did you plan a successful silent auction or bingo night at your kid’s school? Did you create a meme about poop that was shared on social media a quarter of a million times? Did you learn how to code to connect with your kid? Are you a leader for your daughter’s Girl Scouts troop or a coach for your kid’s Lego League or soccer team? Did you collect a billion Box Tops for Education? Your resume is ripe with relevant skills and qualifications, professional development, and community involvement, and discovering that the rift isn’t as wide as you imagined is an instant confidence and happiness booster.

Declare bankruptcy. The electronic kind. You know that nagging sensation you sometimes often always feel that something is preventing you from achieving your dreams? It’s your inbox. Get rid of it. Sort through as many recent emails as you can. Deal with or save what’s important and then screw the rest of the seven (or seventy) thousand of them. Choose “select all” and “delete” and I promise you’ll feel like anything is possible.

Time travel. I sucked at making baby books and I’m a firm believer that less is more, but I did save a few babyhood relics, namely my favorite board books. They have bite marks in the corners and some of the pages are warped from milk stains, but they’re intact.  Recently, I read I Love You, Stinky Face to my seven- and 10-year old boys. They thought I was bonkers, but a sweet look of peace and relaxation emerged on their faces after a few pages and I knew their hearts recognized the words and the sound of my voice as I read, “Mama, what if I were a big scary ape? Would you still love me then?” They remembered – we remembered – and I was reassured that this journey is worth the anguish, chaos, and sleep deprivation. Read your favorite baby books to your big kids. You’ll be glad you did.

Pick A Hill To Die On. It’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when every load of laundry I fold and clogged toilet I clear is followed immediately by another one. Whoever said a messy house is a happy house didn’t have kids. There isn’t a single surface in my house that isn’t marred by my children. Until now. The coffee table may have succumbed to Lego/Stickbot Village and the dining room table will be swathed in Christmas clutter until, well, probably next Christmas, but the kitchen table is all mine. No one leaves the house or goes to sleep unless my kitchen table is cleared and wiped down. It’s glorious to wake up to her clean, smooth surface every morning, and, yes, it’s the battle I’ve chosen and the hill on which I will proudly die. Pick your hill and don’t look back.

The force is strong in you, Mamas. Take on 2017 like The Boss you are. Happy New Year!

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Filed under advice, motherhood, New Year's resolutions, New Years, Stay-at-Home Mama, Uncategorized

What I Learned About Life From Binge-Watching “Fixer Upper”

Let’s just say I a lot of fun (wine) on New Year’s Eve, which rendered me useless on New Year’s Day. I fed the kids once or twice (I think?) and walked the dog, but after that, I hurled myself on the couch and binge-watched “Fixer Upper” on Netflix. Eight episodes in, Mike intervened, but by then it was too late. I wanted to knock down every wall in my house, and I wanted shiplap. Lots of it.

What is it about Chip and Joanna? They’re brilliant at what they do, of course. But it’s also their loving banter. If I worked with my husband, I’d strangle him with a garden hose. Of this, I’m sure. They have four young children and, like, 100 animals, they run multiple businesses, a bed and breakfast, and a farm, and I can’t help but ask myself, Could I get away with hanging an old splintery picket fence panel on the wall above my couch? And let’s discuss “JoJo” for a moment, shall we? She’s smart, beautiful, intuitive, assertive, and her design and fashion instincts are impeccable. That woman knows what she wants, and I want everything in her closet. Ev.er.y.thing.

After eight non-stop hours of watching The Gaines duo wield their magic on one fixer upper after the next, I learned a few lessons – 18 to be exact – that I hope to carry with me into 2016 and beyond.

  1. I may or may not want to live on a farm. (Probably not.)
  2. In case farm life isn’t for me (it isn’t), I want to plant a garden in my backyard. Since I can’t keep a cactus alive, I’d like to at least hang some vertical herb baskets on a wall that I don’t plan to knock down.
  3. Every child should have a tree house.
  4. Teach your kids the value of hard work by making them do some heavy lifting.
  5. Show your kids your work…whatever your work is. Just as important, show your kids your passion…whatever your passion is.
  6. Humor is essential in a marriage.
  7. Co-parenting isn’t just for people who are divorced.
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff. For example, it’s so not a big deal if your husband brings your kids to the pound and comes home with two kittens and a dog when you already have four kids, a farm full of cows, goats, and chickens, a growing enterprise, a television show, and it’s demo day. (I’m in a panic just from writing this sentence.)
  9. Every woman should have a skilled carpenter on hand. You never know when you’ll need someone to dumpster dive for wood scraps, craft one-of-a-kind turned candlesticks for a mantle, or build a kitchen island made from reclaimed distressed wood.
  10. According to my nine-year old son, who happens to enjoy watching “Fixer Upper” with me (swoon!), Joanna is bossy. Indeed. She is confident, decisive, and visionary. She is The Boss.
  11. Be bold. Take risks. Make the hard choice that no one else will. Renovate the worst house on the best block and be The Boss about it.
  12. Don’t be afraid to make difficult phone calls.
  13. Pick an accent color and shower every room in your house with a delightful splash of it.
  14. Screw window treatments! Let the light in! Just keep your clothes on. Or, live on a farm.
  15. Shiplap is the new Kardashian sheet rock.
  16. Paint will transform a room, but – damn it – so will knocking down a wall.
  17. Rules schmules. You can hang a chandelier anywhere.
  18. Pull up the carpet (in life). You never know. There might be hardwood hiding under there.

Did I waste the first day of 2016 in a heap on my couch watching television? Maybe. But, I was inspired. The next day, I painted my dining room Gulf Coast Valspar blue, chose my accent color (yellow), marked Xs (in my mind, anyway) on every wall I want to knock down, and picked out the perfect spot to hang my very own distressed wood picket fence.

diningroom

 

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