One more thing I'm getting back in the habit of since having a baby, is reading before going to sleep. I've always been a bit of a book worm, but that first year with a baby, well exhaustion always takes over and my eyes close before I can get through a page. Hard to keep a story line together with that kind of performance.
Just finished reading The Accidental Empress and really loved it. I will start by telling you that I tried listening to this on Audible and wasn't a huge fan. I know so many swear by it, but I didn't love the reader on this one. I found myself focusing so much on the reader that I was missing the story! That and I love a good book in my hand before bed. So I bought the hard copy as well.
This is historical fiction, which might be my favorite genre. I find myself falling in love with different time periods, all while realizing that there isn't much difference in them at all. Stories always tend to boil down to family and relationships, but I love the backdrop of various time periods. This takes place during the reign of Franz Joseph of the Austrian Empire. A time period I haven't read too much about.
Without giving up too many details, the main character Sisi finds herself on the thrown with Franz Joseph and tumult ensues as she adjusts to palace life all while trying to grow up at the same time. Throughout the book, I had to keep reminding myself to read without the lens of my current reality.
It was such a different time for women, that even though she did step so far outside of bounds on some issues, her hands were tied on SO many. The book spans about 15 years and its fascinating to see her growth.
By far, one of my favorite parts of the book was her study of a German poet, Goethe, using his words to speak her thoughts which mirrored so many of my own. She writes, "Things which matter most, must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." I found myself dog-earing pages on so many of his thoughts throughout the book and admired her quest to learn.
While each character had their flaws, I couldn't help but fall in love with every single one. Loving her one moment and frustrated with him and in the next moment, loving him and rolling my eyes at her. Their marriage and their reign most certainly charted new territory and in the end, I admired them both.
I was introduced to this Mexican Corn Chowder by one of my favorite friends & it's been a staple in my kitchen for years now. I like to make it on a busy carpool day, or when I want to drop dinner by to a friend who needs it. This recipe makes quite a bit, enough for my family to have leftovers for dinner one night and me to enjoy it for lunch a day or two. All that being said, I'm all about efficiency so if I'm making it, I'll typically double it, then freeze some in two different containers so I can pull it out on another night for dinner or again, use it for lunches for myself.
The recipe calls for cooked chicken and while you can use the canned chicken from Costco, that's never my first choice. I'll either cook the chicken in my bulk meal prep day, or I'll use rotisserie chicken. Another time saving trick I've begun using that has proven helpful is buying 2 rotisserie chickens at once. If I have to pick one, I may as well pick two. Then I'll store them in Ziploc bags, one in the fridge for whatever I'm using it for that week, and another in the freezer for the following week.
Like I said, I'm all about efficiency...and yummy dinners.
Onto the recipe!
Mexican Corn Chowder
1 1/2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 C onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TB butter
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 C hot water
1 tsp cumin
2 C half and half
2 C Montery Jack cheese, shredded
1 can cream style corn
1 can regular corn
1 can (4 oz) green chilies, undrained
1/4 - 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, optional
Saute chicken in butter with onion and garlic. Dissolve bouillon in water and ad along with cumin. boil 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted and soup is heated through. Top with tomato, fresh cilantro, avocado, and crushed tortilla chips. I love the Tostitos with a hint of Lime flavor & a dollop of sour cream. Corn bread on the side is a must as well!
Can you believe there are only 9 more weeks to 2018. NINE. It seem like nothing, but really it's about the same length as summer break, which by mid-July has seemed to draaaag on. I'm not sure about you, but if I'm not careful, sometimes I can take this last quarter and just coast to a hard stop on December 31st. By hard stop, I mean an actual HARD stop. January shows up, and since I've coasted a season away, instead of running into the new year with momentum for previous successes, I'm just barely thinking about what I want to accomplish for the year. Then I write it down, make some adjustments and suddenly it's February and I'm still hardly up and going, because it takes a Herculean effort to get going once you've stopped.
Do you do this too?
I began to notice this a few years ago, where I'd put off doing what I knew I needed to do and even wanted to do, just because it's October. 'Oh well,' I'd tell myself, 'I'll start that in January.' I'd want to get back into that gym habit and instead of tackling it, I'd push it off until the first of the year. I'd have a chore chart or project I'd want to start at home and guess what? I'd push that off to the first of the year too. As I did that with more than a handful of things, you can imagine how daunting January began to feel. Business idea, fitness, family...it all got pushed to January, while I 'enjoyed' the 3 months of holidays.
But come January, I realized I was full or regret and disappointment. I didn't enjoy those 3 months nearly as much as I could of, if I'd stuck to my normal routines of tackling projects and ideas and goals as they come.
Even worse than all that, I've even stopped mid-habit doing the things I've done ALL YEAR because, well now that it's almost the end of the year, I deserve a break. So instead of setting that early morning alarm, I don't just turn it off and go back to sleep, I begin to stop setting it all together! Allowing everything to just sit, telling myself I'll get back to it in January. It's funny how we convince ourselves this is a good idea. Let me assure you from personal experience, it's not a good idea.
January shows up real quick and smacks you square in the face. Only then did I realize how hard it is to get back into those good habits. I've, not only, lost all momentum but even worse, have even taken a few steps back!
Our whole lives we've been convinced that January is the time to start going to the gym, tackling that project or pursuing that dream.
January is fine and all, but what's wrong with right now?
My first year back to real estate I, unknowingly, made one of the best decisions: I set my fiscal year to end in September. My thought process was that anything that was 'under contract' in September would close by the end of the year and it'd give me a more accurate calendar year count. It was genius. Because guess what happens when your year 'ends' in September? You suddenly start treating October like it's January. New goals, ideas, and dreams get written down (if you're not writing these things down, start immediately!!) and the pursuit of them begins!
In that moment, I realized that perhaps if it worked in my career, it would also be effective in my home & personal life.
So this year, I took the same liberty I had in my business and adjusted my 'year end.' At home, I set my year end to Aug 31st. So instead of setting goals in January, I set them in September -- it doesn't match my kids school calendar perfectly, but it's close enough. With school under way, it was the perfect time to implement some new routines and habits within the home...and also personally. I've been wanting to read more intentionally so I made it a point to organize a small book club, then I re-mapped my morning routine, and I've liked that so much, I'm re-mapping a few other routines.
January hasn't come yet, but this year, I'm bound and determined not to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I try to begin every new thing I've thought all year long...because I'm already doing those things. Instead, I hope it blows on in and I'm able to catch it at my back because I've already got my sails secured in the direction I want to head.
In less than 2 weeks, my baby will be 1 and it has been sitting on my heart for about a month or so. I've been reminded over and over this past year the sacredness of child-bearing, as it hasn't always been a frolic in the meadow. When I was pregnant, I wanted him to be here. When he was newly here, I wanted my body to heal quickly, then for him to sleep through the night, then a consistent nap schedule. I never wanted him to crawl, but once he was crawling, I thought, wouldn't it be better if he was just walking? And now he's on the verge of walking and I'm over here waving my hands, 'slow down!'
In between all that, I've basically bought myself a new wardrobe because my body is different and nothing fits like it used to and that is the crux of adding a new baby to the mix.
Nothing fits quite like it used to.
Dinner time, bed time, travel, work, practice, yard work, house work, grocery shopping...none of those things fit quite like they used to. And while that seems like an obvious adjustment, sometimes I've found myself trying to make it all fit like it used to. Trying to make our new life fit into our old life. It seems a bit silly, but I've caught myself on more than one occasion. Bless Luke for rolling with those punches because he's got the most happy disposition and patiently puts up with me adjusting to baby life again.
So a few things I've learned in this season of growth:
1. Slowing down is the answer. Life isn't about being busy. This past year I've spent a lot of time on my back patio feeding a baby watching my older kids shoot hoops or perfect trampoline tricks. Guess what? Its better than running around doing any number of things. It's the simple things that are the most important. It doesn't matter if you're house is perfectly 'done' (newsflash, I don't think houses are ever actually done) or your dinner is fancy. Slow down and be together and the magic will happen.
2. Amazon Prime and Grocery Pick Up are literal lifesavers. End of story.
3. Anything you do everyday is significant, especially changing diapers, making dinner and helping on homework. I'm of the belief that we are living at our fullest potential when we are in the service of others and as a mother, well, that is a majority of my day. I've been reminded again and again this year that while sometimes monotonous, they are purposeful for not only my family but for myself too! It is a good thing to be about the humble chores of running a household.
4. Podcasts have all the answers. Between all that back porch sitting and sometimes monotonous serving ;) I've often had ear buds in my ears because honestly, podcasts are the BEST! If I can keep my mind busy, it's easy to keep my hands cleaning, cooking or playing. A few favorites this year:
The Life Coach School
The Tim Ferris Show
How I Built This
Super Soul Conversations
Whatever stage your in, whether growth or comfort, I hope you know you're capable. Capable of learning. Capable of changing and adjusting. Capable of becoming who you need to be with that stage. With each baby, I always learn this: I'm capable of hard, beautiful and uncomfortable things and hope you know that you are too.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.