House & HomeMom's LifeThe KitchenWork and Passions
work and passions

Heather Reid Podcast Interview
I admit that whenever I find out that a professional actress, dancer, or musician is also a mom, I feel a little jolt of surprise. “How does she do it?” I wonder, for a half second imagining the life of a working performer to be so incredibly glamorous that it couldn’t possibly coincide with piles of laundry and Lego.

But then I get a dose of reality and remember that many people also consider the writing life to be impossibly glamorous, all about scribbling notes on napkins in coffee shops and having “a room of one’s own” (Sounds nice, Virginia Woolf, but it’s not the reality for most of us.)

It’s all about perspective, and the life of a working mother – especially those of who don’t have live-in nannies and household staff – is a tricky juggle regardless of what that work is.

heather reid

So I was so excited to talk with musician Heather Reid for today’s episode of The Home Hour Podcast.

In the show, Heather and I discuss her early roots as a member of the 90s alt-rock band The Murmurs, her transitions along the way (she wrote a musical!) and her life now as a working musician and the mother of twin 4-year-old boys. 

Listen now! 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[click to continue…]

0 comments

how to listen to podcasts.jpg

I’ve mentioned before that podcasts are an important part of my day. They keep me entertained during my “kitchen hour,” make long car rides more interesting, and now that we’ve drastically reduced our cable package, also keep me company while I fold laundry! 

But I have to admit that until very recently – okay, just a few months ago – I didn’t really understand how to subscribe to podcasts or make the listening process more organized. I’d go right to the podcast’s website and listen from my browser, usually. It got the job done, but wasn’t exactly a streamlined experience. 

I’m no Luddite, but I’ve never been big on trying out new apps or programs. I’m more the type who sticks with whatever “works” until I’m essentially forced to rethink my approach – and then I’m usually glad I did!

And so it went with podcasts. As I discovered more and more shows that I wanted to add to my regular listening schedule, I realized I had to find a way to keep them all in one place and make them easy to download and listen to.

I’m guessing some of you can relate, and have wanted to check out those “podcasts” people keep talking about but aren’t really sure how to get started. So I thought I’d share my setup for finding, organizing, and listening to shows so that it might help you. [click to continue…]

6 comments

crocus, spring

Happy Friday, friends!

Meagan and I wanted to share a few quick updates with you. We’ve been blogging along as usual here at The Happiest Home (what do you think of the new Plan a Better Week series?), but there is a LOT happening behind the scenes you might not be aware of…

Before I share the details of what we’re working on, here’s the very best way to stay in the loop. Sign up in the form below and we’ll email you periodically with announcements and news about what we’re working on (this isn’t the same as receiving our blog posts by email – this list is just for announcements and news, not the blog content itself). 

Okay, ready for the latest? Here goes… [click to continue…]

0 comments

5 ways to be more productive.jpg

How about this weather, eh?

After two days of sun and glorious warm breezes (hey, after the winter we’ve had, 40 degrees definitely feels warm!) we were hit with six inches of snow overnight and I woke up to cancelled school and gray skies. And from what I’m reading around the Internet it sounds like many of you are dealing with dreary or unpredictable weather and a resulting case of the blahs.

This time of year can be tough – we all know sunshine is just around the corner, and it can be hard to muster up the energy to get things done when you’re in the in-between straddling seasons. So I’ve compiled some of our best posts on productivity and “getting stuff done” for you today. I hope they’ll encourage you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Make a “to dream” list.

Is your to-do list, more often than not, incomplete at the end of the day? Do you find yourself carrying the same items forward day after day? It’s possible your to-do list is bloated with tasks that really belong on a to-dream list. Find out why creating a to-dream list can quiet the noise in your head and help you focus on the day-to-day stuff you “have” to get done, without forgetting the big-picture stuff you want to accomplish.  [click to continue…]

5 comments

Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

I am about to out my deep, dark, dorky side here. You’ve been warned.

Meagan black wig cropped

A much younger me backstage during a production of “Sweet Charity”

When I was a young teenager, I got bitten by the Broadway bug.

And it was a serious bite. While I’d always loved showtunes and musicals – I spent the better part of my fifth year of life belting out “Tomorrow” in crowded stores at the top of my lungs – getting cast as Kim, the ingenue, in my high school’s production of Bye, Bye, Birdie at the age of 14 really kicked my fever into high gear. 

This is how obsessed I was: I’d spend Friday nights listening to my aunt’s extensive collection of musical theater albums (she let me borrow 10 or so at a time on rotation) and choreographing imaginary dance scenes in front of my mirror. I forced my poor nephew Mario to act out the part of all the child characters in the Sound of Music at once so that I could be Maria. I mean this was all happening between the ages of 14 and 16, people, when I was supposed to be doing things like chasing boys and at least putting some effort into looking cool. 

But I didn’t care about cool. I cared about the show. I happily spent my summer breaks playing chorus parts in large regional high school productions with all-day rehearsals. In our hometown, where the small size of the school pretty much guaranteed me a principal role, play practice was my happy place, and if I could have chosen, I’d have had our rehearsals go on all day. 

Who needs friends when you've got Rodgers & Hammerstein?

Who needs friends when you’ve got Rodgers & Hammerstein?

It’s hard to come up with even one other thing I’ve ever been quite as passionate about as I was the theatre. I loved all of it: the music, the costumes, the often corny dialogue and questionable plots. Despite the 47-year age difference and the fact that he’s gay, I totally would have married Stephen Sondheim. (I’d probably still have an emotional affair with him, come to that.)

Over time, musicals became less and less central to my life. I did some shows when Jacob and Isaac were very small, as a way to get out of the house at night after being home with them all day, and the rush never went away. But at some point the rehearsal schedule became too difficult to fit into my quickly-growing family, and I just stopped performing. 

But over the last seven years or so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to wiggle back in. I’ve built a steady work-at-home career that allows me the flexibility to do things like act in plays. My kids are getting bigger and bigger and more and more independent, and Jon’s work schedule has gotten more and more flexible, too, making it easier to set aside time for practices.

And yet, I haven’t taken the leap.

At least half a dozen times I’ve heard about an audition and gone so far as to prepare a song and arrange for the kids while I’m trying out. And then, at the last minute…I just didn’t go.

Why? Well, sometimes my last-minute back-outs were for legitimate reasons: I’d realize that the timing was bad, or that I wasn’t crazy enough about the show in question to give up months’ worth of evenings and weekends to rehearsals and performances.

But mostly, it was fear. Oh sure, I’d tell myself that it was more important for me to be at home in the evenings or that I needed to focus any extra time on my business or that I’d really rather save my weekends for lounging around the house. But there was a smaller voice telling the truth: I was afraid I’d screw up the audition, or worse, that I’d nail the audition, get a part, and screw up the performance.

It’s funny to think of being scared of an audition, since I used to find them really fun. But over the years, I’ve gotten out of practice, and the rustier I’ve gotten, the more that fearlessness has faded. I know that just doing it is the answer to taking some of the mystery and fear out of the process, but I just keep putting it off.

the lights are waiting...

the lights are waiting…

Well, no more. Today the local community theater is holding auditions for a production of The King and I. I’ll be there, and I’m telling all of you so you can hold me accountable.

There aren’t too many roles for a fair-skinned strawberry blonde in a show that centers around life in a palace in Siam, and I doubt I’ll get the lead. But even if I don’t get cast at all, I’m trying to remind myself that there’s value just in getting out there, facing down something scary and doing it anyway, and dipping even the pinkiest of pinkie toes back into something I once loved so much. 

I’ve come a long way from that girl who spent her free time memorizing Broadway lyrics and dreaming of the stage, and I’m not sure that theatre will ever be as front and center in my life as it once was. Or, maybe it will. It’s hard to imagine a passion that strong just fading away, and I know that even as my children, my marriage, and my work have made my life richer and fuller than they ever were then, there’s still been a small piece missing.

It’s been a long time, but it’s never too late to rediscover something you thought you’d lost.

So think of me this afternoon, will you? I’ll be standing on a stage, singing and probably sweating and shaking and wishing I’d invested in more than a handful of voice lessons over the past decade-plus. But I’ll be there. Because at some point, there are no more excuses to be made for getting in your own way.

And the scariest thing to contemplate is living without taking risks.  

15 comments

Toni McLellan

What lights you up?

Is it drawing? Dancing? Coming up with business ideas? Working with kids? Cooking for your family? 

If you haven’t yet tapped into the thing you really want to be doing most in this world – or know what it is, but are afraid to claim it out loud, you’re going to love my conversation with my friend, fellow writer and coach Toni McLellan.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You’ll really relate to my discussion with Toni if: 

  • You’re the person who has started twelve different blogs but hasn’t been able to commit to any of them…(Toni’s got a story about this!)
  • if you’re always having good ideas…but you aren’t sure they’re the right good ideas for you.
  • If you’re trying to build a life and/or career you love.
  • if you’re curious about coaching (either working with one or working as one) and want the real scoop.
  • Check out Toni’s regular events and workshops, and be sure to sign up for her free weekly newsletter – it’s awesome.

And, I’m excited to announce that this week I’m introducing another expert co-host, Kate Hanley of MsMindBody.com! Kate will be coming on the show regularly to talk about wellness, stress relief, and other mind-body topics.

Today we’re talking about a big issue this time of year: how to boost immunity so we (adults and kids alike) don’t get every bug that goes around.  [click to continue…]

0 comments

This post is by Heather Caliri, regular contributor to The Happiest Home and blogger at A Little Yes. Heather writes about saying “yes” to little things that scare us. You can read all her posts here.

I’ve taken what look like big, risky steps in my life.

I’ve moved abroad twice, once with my entire family in tow. I gave birth at home to two kids, and a few years later, I decided to homeschool them.

When I tell people about these decisions, I see a lot of raised eyebrows. People will say, wow, or I could never do that.

What’s funny is those very same people have taken steps that make me feel woozy. Friends hold onto challenging careers while raising their kids. They publish books or lead the PTA. They’ve battled addictions, paid down a mountain of debt, or are surviving divorce.

Here’s the truth: a wild life doesn’t feel wild when you’re living it. Sure, there are times of stress, of too many things happening, but a life full of change and big steps still involves washing laundry, shopping for a gallon of milk, and paying the electric bill. If you’re in the middle of it, a ‘wild’ life is just normal. [click to continue…]

0 comments

Our Historical Motherhood series is back! We’re delighted as always to welcome Kristen Levithan, Happiest Home contributor and blogger at Motherese, with another profile of a mom who made history. You can read previous historical motherhood posts by clicking here.

Pearl_Buck_(Nobel)

“Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same.”

- Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck was a writer, a best-selling novelist, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was also the mother of many, including several international adoptees and a mentally disabled daughter who inspired Buck to advocate for the rights of women and minorities, including children with special needs and mixed-race adoptees.

Buck was born in 1892, the daughter of missionaries to China, the fifth of their seven children, only three of whom would survive to adulthood. Though she was born in the US, she spent most of her early life in China and considered herself “mentally bifocal”: “When I was in the Chinese world, I was Chinese, I spoke Chinese, and behaved as a Chinese and ate as a Chinese did, and I shared their thoughts and feelings. When I was in the American world, I shut the door between.” [click to continue…]

8 comments

Dream-Seekers-Banner

About a month ago I wrote about Build Your Big Dream, an intensive, hands-on, hit-the-ground-running class and coaching program I’m offering. The response was mixed. A lot of you were excited, but a little wary of making the commitment of time and money the BYBD program required; many of you asked, “What if I’m just not sure what my dream is?”

That “this sounds great, but…” response was so big, in fact, that I realized I needed to create something to help those of you who are just now starting to think about what you want to do with your life outside of motherhood – those of you who aren’t ready to launch just yet, but need a little more time to dabble and discover.

When you’ve been heavily invested in caring for a family, it’s not always so easy to switch gears and tap into the “dreamer” side of yourself that’s been lying dormant. That’s what Dream Seekers is all about.

It’s a scaled-back, four-week course that will help you start dreaming again, help you focus and find clarity, and get you on the slower road to making your dreams a reality. You’ll get regular activities to get you thinking about those big goals and how to reach them, access to me via weekly live chats, and the support of an active community of dreamers to help encourage you along the way.

Dream Seekers starts later this month, and early-bird pricing of just $179 is available through Wednesday, February 12.  Head over to the registration page to find out more and sign up.

Your dream is out there, just waiting for you to find it. I’d love the opportunity to “dream seek” with you!

0 comments

Happy Monday, friends! Meagan is traveling (did you catch her beautiful post yesterday from Las Vegas?), so today we’re revisiting a post I wrote last year about calendar planning. If you’re still getting into your groove after the crazy-weather-start to 2014, this might help you get a handle on the weeks ahead. Enjoy! -Sarah

Calendar Planning for Busy Moms

If there’s one thing that busy moms cling to for dear life, it’s our calendars. Whether you swear by a datebook you carry in your purse, a dry-erase board hung on the wall, or an electronic calendar that lives in the cloud and syncs to half a dozen devices, I’m guessing you’ve got some kind of a system for keeping your family’s calendar.

And as Meagan points out in this post, what works for one mom may not work for another – you’ve got to find the system that works for you. Today I thought I’d share the way I manage our family’s calendar – a simple, 3-part system that combines digital and paper-based planning.

Paper or Digital? Why I use both.

So much of life – including family life and home management – lives online these days, but when it comes to calendar planning, it seems like for many of us there’s still a pull toward the old familiar paper-and-pen method. One of the biggest drawbacks to an electronic calendar, in my opinion, is that you have to consciously check it – by clicking an app, or bringing up a program or browser window on your computer. A paper calendar – especially of the refrigerator or wall variety – is right there in front of you, and somehow those neat little color-coded entries seem less easily forgotten because you see them a dozen times a day (and because simply the physical act of writing the down commits them to memory a bit more).

On the other hand, I’m a big fan of technology when it makes my life easier. I manage the editorial calendars for two blogs and my husband has a complicated (and constantly changing) travel schedule that I like to be able to access at any time. When the wonder of the internet allows me to see all these things – blog post schedules and Bryan’s flight departure times – on my phone and my computer all in one place (without a ton of tedious data entry), I’m all for it.

These pros and cons of digital vs. paper-based calendar planning are what led me to the system I use now. It works in 3 parts and combines the best of the online and pen-and-paper worlds. [click to continue…]

38 comments