Instant Pot Expedition – Alternative title: Late to the party as usual

I’m late to jump into most trends … Skinny jeans, riding boots, statement jewelry, snapchat (which I have already ditched) … you get the point, right?

Most recently? The instant pot.

Christmas time two years ago, I remember them being all the rage. I had no idea what the thunder they even were. I didn’t get the hype. Like, at all. Then one of my best friends got one, so I started paying more attention to it. Then I saw a screaming deal on Amazon’s Cyber Monday deal. So I bought one for Andy and the kids to give me on Christmas.

As of a few weeks ago, I had used it exactly 3 times since Christmas, to cook 2 different things. It intimidated me. Then I decided that was dumb. And committed to overcoming my fear and cooking at least one new IP meal a week.

I’m two weeks into my challenge. I’ve cooked 5 different meals. I’m still having to remember that even though something only needs to cook for “5 minutes” it still takes at least that long to get up to pressure before it actually starts cooking. That’s somewhat annoying and makes recipes a little misleading, but I think it lives up to the hype.

What I’ve cooked and my thoughts:

  1. One pot penne & meatballs – Andy and the kids loved this one! I like it but wouldn’t say I loved it. I did think it had a better flavor the next day when I ate it for lunch.
  2. Southwest stuffed peppers – Everyone but Lincoln liked this one! Well, the girls didn’t love the cooked pepper itself, but they liked the stuffing. My favorite part? The filling didn’t have to be cooked ahead of time.
  3. Roasted chicken – THIS WAS REVOLUTIONARY! The chicken was frozen solid. And in 90 minutes? Done. Great flavor, not dry and at all.
  4. Egg roll in a bowl  – eh. I made this one just for myself as a healthy lunch thing. It was ok. It certainly won’t become a new staple by any means.
  5. Chicken burrito bowls – Yumm. We love basically anything that could be considered taco-esque.

I’m now obsessed with looking through pinterest for recipe ideas and I’m definitely planning on sticking with my personal challenge.

I gave up social media for 40 days. Here’s what happened.

Nothing.

Crazy right? The world kept on spinning.

Now, when I say I “gave it up” that’s not completely true. A big portion of my job is managing social media accounts. So, I kept at it for work only.

Was it hard? Not exactly. I didn’t miss it, but it was difficult to break the habit of mindless scrolling. I also had to be acutely aware of using my work accounts to mindlessly scroll instead of my personal accounts.

Not surprising at all, I had a lot more free time on my hands. And I was so much more productive! Instead of sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning playing on my phone while the kids watched cartoons I folded laundry instead. I was more present with my family in the evenings.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was missing news, announcements, and events. For example, I follow our local organization that our kids play sports through. Without having a Facebook post to tell me baseball sign-ups were happening, I almost missed signing Reese up for T-Ball.

I did miss seeing the photos that friends and family share. My sister would say to me “Did you see that picture I posted of the girls!?” and I’d have no idea what she was referring to.

Since my social media fast, I have kept Twitter off my phone, I deleted snapchat, I cleaned up my Instagram follows, and muted a whole lot of folks on Facebook. And other than checking Facebook for work, I have found myself going back there less and less.

I’m approaching it all with the “does it bring me joy” mentality from that book about tidying up, or whatever. Am I experiencing more anguish/annoyance/eye rolls than joy from this person I’m following? Unfollow.

Talk about refreshing!

I don’t think I will ever “quit” the internet completely. After all, I have social media and blogging to thanks for three of my favorite people on the planet. But, overall, I am so so happy I did it.

A Woman’s Place

Chances are as soon as you read that title you finished the saying. You see them all over Pinterest and etsy these days.

A woman’s place is…
… in the House and Senate.
… in the resistance.
… in the kitchen.

Well, excuse my language, but I’ve decided I like the more universal saying that a woman’s place? Is wherever the fuck she wants it to be.

Whether real or imagined, I am so sick of women thinking there is some sort of competition for “most womanly” or “most feminist.” I’m sick of women feeling marginalized for choosing “just” to be a stay at home mom. I’m sick of women feeling judged for pursuing a career – and loving it.

I have the privilege of being a part of a Lean-In Circle where I get the opportunity to have lunch with some amazingly smart, accomplished, and motivated women in my community. We get to talk about equality in the workplace, taking a seat at the table, etc. One month, the topic was success.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with impostor syndrome when you’re sitting at a table with so many impressive women… I’m sure many of them make more money than me… Some probably drive fancier cars… Have bigger houses… Take more vacations… Others have more impressive titles.

The other thing that happens with you’re sitting at a table with so many impressive women, is that you are surrounded by uplifting, empowering, motivating women who are all on the same page with what success means.

And that is that it means something different to each and every one of us. And that’s ok. And that definition can (and will) change. And that’s ok too. We all have a place.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people that support me where I’m at. And everywhere I’ve been along the way. Wherever my “place” happened to be at that time. My definition of success has changed a number of times over the years, and so my “place” has changed as well.

I’ve been sitting on this draft for months. Last week the world celebrated International Women’s Day and I’ll be damned if a YouTube ad from Google didn’t get me all inspired to dust this off and finish it. My goal is to make a conscious effort to support women where they stand. Whether they’re happy where they are and they’d consider themselves a success, or a work in progress as they work toward their goals.

I have two little ladies that will one day grow up to be women. Right now, one of them wants to be an engineer and design bows for archery and hunting. The other wants to be a mom. No matter where their paths in life take them, I want them to know that their place is wherever they want it to be.

A Traveling Working Mom’s Rant – Some things never change

Back when I blogged regularly, and while I was also contributing to a blog all about being a working mom – you know, back when I had two kids not three. And my now 5 and a half-year-old middle child was my 3-month-old youngest child – I wrote a blog post all about how maddening it is to be a working mom and get the comments about “how hard it must be” and “who is taking care of the kids.”

Well, fast-forward five years. We’ve added another kid to the mix and I now have a job where I work remote and travel fairly often. That blog has been long-since shut down, but I just stumbled upon the original post I wrote, and I have to say that I am unpleasantly surprised and how much things have not changed.

Since I took my very first work trip away as a mother, when my now almost 10-year-old was 3 months old, and literally every single trip since, at some point before, during or after my trip, I’m asked, “so who’s watching your kid(s) while you’re away?”

It’s come from women. It’s come from men. It’s come from executives. It’s come from fellow parents.

Then when I tell them that the kids at home with their dad, their jaws drop. Disbelief written all over their faces. Every time.

It boggles my mind that people assume that just because I’m the mom and I’m traveling that I must have left the kids with my mother or my sister or my mother in law or some other capable woman. That my husband can’t handle parenting the kids by himself or be bothered to leave work in time to pick our kids up before daycare closes.

My most recent trip was the worst I’ve heard it in a while. I was gone for back-to-back trade shows for a total of 15 days. It was brutal. For all of us. Two days in Vegas is too long, let alone two weeks. I had never been away from the kids or him for that long. I was exhausted. He was exhausted. We all missed each other.

People were unrelenting. The moment they heard how long I was going to be gone they immediately asked a) Do you have kids? followed quickly by b) Who is taking care of them while you are away?

Why is it so hard to believe that my husband, my childrens’ FATHER, is taking care of his kids while I’m out of town. It not only pisses me off, I take offense to it on his behalf.

I get that he’s not the norm when it comes to things like this. I remember one time, after returning home from a trip I took when Reese was a few months old, he told me (“no offense”) it was kind of nice to have me gone because it meant he got to do more with the baby.

My job is just as important as his job. And likewise, our children are just as important to him as they are to me. We are in this parenting gig together. That means we both juggle schedules, make sacrifices accordingly. As a team. When he has to work late, that means I’m on pick up and dinner duty and sometimes even bedtime duty solo. And when I travel, he jumps in and does the same. No hesitation.

Dads can be active parents too. Why is that so hard for people to understand/believe/accept!?

End rant.

The title of my first book.

I rarely read books. When I do, they are typically memoir or biographical non-fiction types. Most of the ones I have picked up recently have been very easy, finish in a 4-hour plane ride, reads. As I read them, I find myself thinking, “oh I could totally write a book.” But then I also think, “I am clearly not a celebrity with an interesting “how I got here” life. I’m not a parenting expert. I’m not any kind of subject-matter expert when it comes to marketing. What the hell would I even write a book about!?”

And while that’s totally true, I still recently found myself thinking of theoretical book pitches.

Title: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – Mostly Average Accounts of the World’s OKAYest Mom.
Book Type: Parenting
Synopsis: This one seems like the easiest and most obvious. A collection of short stories, mostly previously published here on this blog:

With other stories about how I’ll never be a Pinterest-worthy mom:

  • We celebrate National Donut Day! … a day late. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I remembered to take photos on the first day of school! … a day late. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I set up the annual Advent Activity calendar on December First! … but instead of in the morning when they wake up, it’s after they get home from school. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

________________________

 

Title: Fake it till you make it.
Book Type: career
Synopsis: Nothing really that original. A collection of advice I’ve been given or seen on the internet, followed by stories of how I’ve applied them in my career and how they have helped (or hindered) my career.

  • Shift your language – Appreciation instead of apologies. “I appreciate your patience.” vs. “So sorry I am late.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Unless you work in an office and your goal is to be a stripper. Maybe don’t do that.
  • A woman’s place – isn’t in the house or senate or kitchen or resistance. It’s wherever the hell she wants it to be.
  • Defining success – Success can look like different things to different people. Identify what it looks like to you. Are you there yet? If not, keep working at it. If you are, does it feel like success? If yes, awesome and good for you! If not, that’s ok. Redefine, make changes and keep working.

________________________

Title: Only 3 Minutes Late
Book Type: General self-help
Synopsis: Tips for creating work-life balance. Some tips may include:

  • Meal planning: a guide
  • A well-timed growl-yell can really help “motivate” (AKA: scare) your kids into getting out the door in a more expeditious manner.
  • How to say no.
  • Don’t marry someone that’s lazy/thinks that you doing the majority of the housework while maintaining a career is just something that women should do.
  • Go to your kids’ school family luncheons. And take work calls on the drive. Then sit in the car in the parking lot of the school while the call warps up. Then show up to the luncheon 3 minutes late.

________________________

Title: I don’t math well.
Book Type: Parenting/advice
Synopsis: Tips on parenting your academically gifted child.
Excerpt: Your kid has been identified as academically gifted! Neat! Mine has been too. But, me? I’m nowhere near as smart as her. Contained within this book are tried and true tips for parenting your gifted child. Let’s get started.

  1. Active listening – this will make you look less stupid while your kid is talking about what they learned in math that day and you’re silently trying to figure out what the hell they are even saying.
  2. Honesty – it’s always the best policy. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” or “I didn’t even learn that stuff when I was in college, so …” And also? They already know you have no idea what they’re talking about, so there’s no use in trying to pretend.
  3. Respond – “Ask your dad.” “Ask Siri.” and “Google it.” tend to be my go-to’s.
  4.    …

Actually, that’s it. The rest of the book would be blank. Good luck!

________________________

Welp, there are 4 different potential books I could knock out in my spare time. Now, where do I sign my literary agent!?