these two.

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I love them so much my heart could burst. I made a promise to myself this week to pick up my camera more often. Between the diapers and snacks and 30-minute nursing sessions and dishes on top of dishes on top of dishes, it’s easy to let weeks fly by without taking a single picture of these two. But don’t let my laziness fool you—they’re still my favorite photography subjects.

p.s. I’m over at Coffee + Crumbs today talking about my least favorite advice from well-meaning strangers, “Enjoy this time, dear.”

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to be brave with your art.

WMHR-1It is probably the goal of most writers to get their words in front of other human beings. Writers want their writing to be read, right? (Say that three times fast.)

When I first started writing for an audience of zero, it was liberating. I had thoughts and I wrote them down and I hit publish and I questioned nothing. No regrets, no doubt, no worrying, no panic. Just think, type, publish, repeat. Think, type, publish, repeat.

Everything was simple.

Over time, my audience grew to three, and then four, and then five. And then maybe twelve. And then more. I stopped counting. I have no idea how many people are reading this now. I can look up how many people click on this page, sure, but I have no idea how many people are actually reading this. There is a difference. A big difference.

Something weird happens when you start writing for more people. You become acutely aware of what you are saying. You analyze your sentences more often. You write with an open thesaurus because you want to make sure the words you use are the words you actually mean to say. You second guess some of the words, and some of the sentences. You delete this, delete that. Re-write that thing, re-write this thing. I am learning to be a better editor, and I think that is good for me and good for my writing.

But then a tiny wave of panic rolls in, and you start to write something else.

You start writing negative comments in your head, filling in the blanks as you go.

If I say this, they’ll say ____________.
If I say that, they’ll assume___________.
If I say this, they’ll think_________.

And so on and so forth.

It’s….crippling. Pretty soon you’ve written enough one-star reviews to fill up an entire online gossip forum, all based on what? Fear? Doubt? Your own multiplying insecurities?

I’ve recently come to terms with something: I am never going to be a good writer if I write safe. And truth be told: I write safely a lot.

The bigger the audience grows, the safer the stories I tell. I’m going backwards, I can feel it in my bones. God keeps giving me more and more, and I keep telling less and less. I’m writing small instead of big; scared instead of brave.

Enough of that.

I’m writing this today in case you also find yourself going backwards instead of forwards. In case you also find yourself creating art from a place of fear and doubt instead of courage and confidence. Let’s not waste another day crippled by our own insecurities. Let’s take the talent God has placed in our hands and be good stewards of those gifts. Let’s write the truth and use all the paint colors and sing every note and dance with our whole bodies.

Let’s be brave with our art.
Let’s start today.

***

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

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line in the sand.

line in the sandEver since Carson was born, I have been caught in a never-ending hurricane. Working from home with one kid was….dare I say….easy? Simple? Uncomplicated? We had a routine, Everett and I—babysitting hours and a babysitting swap and solid naps every day. I was still cramming work into the nooks and crannies of each day, but it was rather manageable. I still had plenty of time to read Elmo books on the couch and walk to the park and bake cookies in the afternoon.

And then sweet little Carson came along and knocked me over. I gave myself a three month maternity leave to soak up his tiny fingers and toes, to breastfeed on demand, to take naps in the middle of the day, to shower or not shower. I needed that time to rest and breathe and find my groove as a mother of two.

Once January rolled around, it felt like a fresh start, as the new year always does. I was coming out of the sleep deprived fog a bit and craving some semblance of a routine. I was ready to get back to it—to the place where I could thrive as a mom and a writer and a wife and not feel like I was constantly paddling under water trying to stay afloat.

It became increasingly clear that the lines between motherhood and work were too blurry. I was trying to be a good mom all day, and I was trying to be good at my job all day. I was working while I was mothering and I was mothering while I was working.

Needless to say, that wasn’t working. For anyone.

I think the greatest challenge of working from home with two small children is this: there is no line in the sand, no clear boundaries, no separation of church and state. I’m answering e-mails while doing puzzles. I’m jotting down writing topics while I breastfeed. I’m working on editorial calendars while racing hot wheels. My two hands are constantly doing two different things, and it’s starting to feel a little insane.

This week marks a big change in our house. I’ve lined up babysitting for Everett for two whole mornings a week, effective immediately. It feels good, and weird, and there’s a tiny bit of guilt but not much, and I feel lighter already.

It all boils down to: I want to be a good mom when I am mothering and I want to be good at my job when I am working. In order for that to happen, I need to stop trying to do both of those things at the same time.

It’s not going to be perfect, but this is my tiny attempt at drawing a line in the sand. You have to start somewhere, right?

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lactation cookies.

Lactation Cookies | Where My Heart Resides-1

I had never even heard of lactation cookies until one of the moms at MOPS brought me a meal shortly after Carson was born. Sidenote: do you know who brings over the best meals after your baby is born? The MOPS team. I’m talking salad, drinks, a kick-ass entree, and dessert. Those girls aren’t messing around.

ANYWAYS. One of the moms, Tracy, brought us over an awesome meal (which included a loaf of warm, fresh-from-the-bakery bread, HELLO), and with it, a ziplock bag of frozen cookie dough for lactation cookies.

I was like yeah, mmm-hmm, you had me at cookies. They were delicious.

I don’t really have any supply issues (that I know of?), but my motto with lactation anything is: it can’t hurt, right? Carson was born four weeks early and only weighed five pounds when we brought him home. Last time he got weighed, he wasn’t even on the growth chart. Nobody was worried about it per se (I’m not either), but of course I want to make sure he is eating enough. His four month check-up is this Thursday so over the weekend I whipped up some lactation cookies to give my supply a little boost. I mean, I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, and this way Brett is sure to stay away from them (he refuses to eat anything with “lactation” in the title). More for me! Plus, they’re for the baby, so I don’t have to feel guilty when I eat five in one sitting. I’ll report back with an update on how well they work.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe*!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups slow rolled oats
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 2 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Mix the flaxseed meal with water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Using a mixer, mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix until well-blended.
  • Add in flaxseed and mix until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and brewer’s yeast. Mix well and add to butter mixture.
  • Stir in oats and chocolate chunks. Mix until well combined.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out cookies and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes or until slightly browned on the top.

*slightly modified from this recipe – I used chocolate chunks instead of chips, and used more of them, because duh.

p.s. If you have real supply issues, I tried the mother’s milk tea a few weeks ago out of sheer curiosity and DANG. Sent my supply into overdrive with one cup. Highly recommend!

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five little things on a friday.

Baby hats-1 Baby hats-41. I found our favorite soy knotted baby hats on Amazon this week, 3 for $20! Total steal.

2. I know internet trolls exist, but I was honestly shocked by some of the content in this podcast: If you don’t have anything nice to say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS.

3. While Brett would never say that he “sponsors” my writing, the undeniable truth is this: I am able to stay home and write and pursue dreams like Coffee + Crumbs because his income allows me to do so. Having said that, I thought this article was fascinating – “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from.

4. (Love Looks Like) 2:07am. Brett and I have been up a lot this week at 2:07am. And 3:42am. And 5:38am. So yeah, I loved this piece by Sarah Bessey.

5. It’s the end of an era. Did you watch the Parenthood finale? Did you sob? Did you get closure? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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