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Five

This girl.

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I can’t believe five years are behind us. It’s cliche to say it, but time is flying by. I remember when she burst into the world so quickly and full of life. (Her birth story can be found here: Part 1 and Part 2). It has been fun to look back at the old blog posts of when she turned two, as well as her first birthday party.

She is so exuberant in personality. She admires her brothers and mothers her little sister. I adore her one dimple and her smattering of freckles across the nose. She is excited about Kindergarten and has an amazing memory. Currently, she can complete narrate Strega Nona and Tikki Tikki Tembo by memory! She loves stories, drawing, practicing writing, imaginary play, baby dolls, and dressing up.

This year was her first birthday party where little friends were invited over for a lemonade tea. We had so much fun!

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She also loves playing chef so this year she got an apron and chef hat for her birthday and my mom got her a play mixer.

I think a lot of imaginary baked goods are in her future!

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Mom - August 24, 2015 - 9:45 pm

lovely post! Beautiful pictures of little Sophia and excellent words…together they help capture the essence of our special little girl so full of life and creativity. Enjoying watching her grow. Thank you, love mom and nonna

Inspire: Women Who Create | Sarah Mackenzie Interview

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You’re in for a treat today! I’ve mentioned many times that the Read-Aloud Revival is one of my very favorite podcasts.

Sarah Mackenzie is the founder and delightful host of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast and community, where the tagline is: Build your family culture around books. She is also the author of the newly released book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace.

You can find Sarah on the web at her main website, Amongst Lovely Things, where you can find links to her blog and all forms of social media. You can also sign up for her e-magazine there. Or you can check out the Read-Aloud Revival site, which is full of past podcasts, printable show notes, and video workshops.

But for now, let’s welcome Sarah here today!

 

me

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and introduce us to your family?

Of course! I’m a homeschooling mama of six—my oldest is 13, my youngest are 2-year-old identical twin boys. My husband Andy and I (and the whole pack of kids, of course) live in the Pacific Northwest.

I do a lot of writing, a lot of coffee-drinking, a lot of talking (too much probably).

Your book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, was just published right when a new school year is getting ready to kick into high gear! It can be a time when homeschool moms can feel overwhelmed. Why did you write this book and why do you think it will benefit other homeschoolers?

The very unglamorous truth is that I wrote this book because I needed to read it. I was at a particularly stressful point in life—homeschooling my three older kids, taking care of a 1 year old, pregnant with twins—and I found myself hitting my knees hard that year in desperate prayer.

I had first been introduced to the idea of “teaching from a state of rest” by Andrew Kern from the CiRCE Institute, and I’ll honestly be grateful to him forever for it. The first time I heard him talk about it, I thought the idea was laughable, but maybe that’s because my soul recognized something I so deeply needed.

The next year I spent a considerable amount of time seeking out what “teaching from rest” might look like for an overwhelmed overspent homeschooling mama and processing it all the way I do best—by writing. That’s where the book came from–out of my own need to live it.

If my book encourages one other homeschooler to remember that her success is not tied to the results she gets—to how well her kids come out at the end, how many of them get fabulous SAT scores or even get into adulthood with a lifelong love of learning… If I can perhaps remind a homeschooling mama that her one true success comes from being faithful to her work each day, then the book will do what it’s meant to do.

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I must admit the Read-Aloud Revival podcast is one of the most encouraging and inspiring resources for me as a literature-loving parent who wants to pass that love onto her children. How did the idea of starting a podcast come about?

Goodness, I don’t really know where my ideas come from- they kind of spring upon me uninvited and then I have to do something with them or they won’t leave me alone.

Since the time I heard my very first podcast, I’ve thought hosting a podcast would be incredibly delightful. There’s a big part of my extroverted personality that struggles as a homeschooling mama, at home with my kids all the time. I just knew I’d love podcasting as a way to reach outside of my walls.

At the time I was trying to decide what to do with a blog series I had been running on my site that was losing a bit of steam. It was called Read-Aloud Revival, and though there were several of us there chatting in the comments and encouraging each other, I had this vision for making it bigger and better, but I wasn’t sure how.

I followed an impulse and shot an email out to Andrew Pudewa at the Institute for Excellence in Writing to see if he’d be up to being on my (non-existent) show, and he said yes! So then I had to figure out how to podcast!

And then the Read-Aloud Revival podcast was born! The Read-Aloud Revivalers are my favorite people on the planet. I just love the community that has risen up out of the movement.

As a writer and podcaster you are constantly producing. How do you nurture the creative process?

If I’m not reading or living my real life, then the ideas literally dry up. The one thing I have to do when I’m feeling short on creativity is step away from my work and dive deep into my real life. I need lots of time for reading and for doing the ordinary things like washing dishes, weeding the yard, playing blocks with the babies…otherwise the more authentic part of my creative side just wilts and I can’t move forward.

I read a lot. I keep a commonplace book to collect quotes and thoughts and ideas that spin around in my head. And I set aside time every single day to write.

For other women who may be interested in writing, blogging, and podcasting, do you have any resources—either inspirational or practical—that have helped you?

I’ve been really inspired by the work of Todd Henry (toddhenry.com), Jeni Elliot (theblogmaven.com), and then watching other people who are doing work that I admire, like Tsh Oxenreider (theartofsimple.net). I love watching what other inspiring people are doing and thinking about whether I could translate it and make it fly in my own world.

The big two things I would suggest to a woman who is interested in writing/blogging/podcasting is:

-Make the effort to find or create a mastermind group, a group of like-minded women who are about at the same stage of writing/blogging/podcasting you are, and support each other. I depend on my mastermind peeps so much- they have been a big encouragement to me. I make almost no decisions without consulting at least one of them. 

– Set aside time for your work, your art. When I try to be mama and writer at the same time, bad things happen. Bad parenting AND bad writing. It’s just a lose-lose. For a long while, I woke at the crack of dawn to get in some time before everyone woke up. Now I actually do a trade-off with my husband, but before that was possible, I relied on naptimes and bedtimes to get in some work. For me, a clear delineation is really necessary for me to feel like I’m doing my best work and like I’m a whole, sane person. 

I know you’re the first to say you don’t “do it all,” but with six kids, homeschooling, speaking, writing, and podcasting, your plate is full! So in order to get all these things done, why don’t you tell us some of the things you DON’T do.

  • Anything, absolutely anything, that you see on Pinterest. 
  • Hands on history projects or involved schoolish projects of any sort.
  • Homestead-ish kinds of things: gardening or canning or the like.
  • TV. Except Downton Abbey (of course).
  • DIY types of home decor or crafts or whatever—I just can’t get excited about those.

How are you feeding your soul these days?

Reading! I’ve got some good ones on my nightstand in my to-be-read-very-soon pile:

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalie Sanmartin Fenollera

I have Bittersweet loaded onto my Kindle and The Awakening of Miss Prim is on my Amazon wishlist! Sounds like we enjoy the same sort of books. On that note, like you always ask your guests at the end of your podcast, if you were stranded on an island, what three books would you take with you?

Oh gosh, I hate answering this question—it’s so hard! It gives me so much sympathy for my podcast guests to be on the other side of this question.

It probably changes every day. Today it’s:

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Sarah! Appreciate your work!

Thank YOU. It was fun to answer them! 

 

For other posts in the Inspire: Women Who Create series check out:

Christie Purifoy Interview | Author
Ainsley Arment Interview
 | Founder of the Wild + Free homeschool community
Ruth Simons Interview | Artist, Shoppe owner, Blogger
Ashleigh Slater Guest Post | Author

Amy L. Sullivan - August 21, 2015 - 8:00 am

So, I have only recently started enjoying podcasts (always late to the game!), but I have been on a hunt for those to add to my ever-growing list. Read-Aloud Revival sounds like something I’d enjoy, and I can’t wait to check it out!

Thanks for the interview, ladies. Interviews and lists are always my favorite kinds of posts!

The Supermom Myth

I keep coming back to the theme of comparison and viewing it from various angles in my articles. That’s because I see and hear it everywhere I go these days: in conversations with my friends and on social media. I touched on the topic from the creative mom viewpoint and as well in my article Guilt-Free Motherhood. And I love how my friend Amy Kannel got to the real root of comparison in her article Chasing a Standard We Can Meet.

Today I’m writing about The Supermom Myth. If you are striving after supermom status or instead view a friend as a supermom and think you could never compete, this article is for you.

Because the fact is Supermom doesn’t exist. And never has.

Check out The Supermom Myth over at For the Family.

What I’m Into Right Now

Listening: I recently discovered The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and I’m really loving it. I went back through the archives and am catching up on her various interviews with Shannan Martin, Tasha Morrison, Shauna Niequist, Trillia Newbell, Jessica Turner, Gloria Furman, Jen Wilkin, and Jen Hatmaker to just name a few.

Also, just finished listening to The Orphan Train on audiobook. It was okay but not amazing. I’m moving on to The Light Between Oceans as my audiobook pick. Should I get my tissues out now? I’ve heard it’s a gut wrencher.

Watching: Broadchurch: Series I. If you like British mystery and crime, this is for you. Even if you don’t, try it anyway. This is one of the best series I’ve ever seen. It’s gut-wrenching, humorous at times, raw, riveting, and smart. The story, acting, and cinematography (ah, I geeked out the the cinematography) is superb. When it ended it felt as satisfying as a good novel. It follows a family, a town, and two detectives as they seek to discover the murderer of a 11-year-old boy. The premise is sad but it has wonderful redemption moments too. I won’t say if we watched the last three episodes all in one night. Ahem.

Reading: I got Green Dolphin Country for Christmas. I’d wanted to read it for years, being an Elizabeth Goudge fan but it was out of print for a while, I believe. But the size put me off for a while (it’s 767 pages). I decided summer was the perfect time to delve into it. As always, the writing is exquisite, that old-fashioned quality of character development and description I love so much.

Eating: We are loving Spaghetti alla Carbonara (so easy) and now that it’s zucchini season, we are eating it in many forms like Zucchini Cakes and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

Drinking: Lots of cold brew iced coffee. Like, everyday.

Exercising: I’m getting back into my exercise routine with the help of Tracy Anderson’s Precision Toning. With 15 minute segments I can easily fit it into my day and get a real good workout too, either doing one segment or combining them for longer sessions.

What are you into right now?

Briana - July 21, 2015 - 10:22 am

I love reading what you’re into right now. I always get great suggestions on what to read and watch from you. We tried a new British murder mystery series, Bletchley Circle—a really bad move on my part. We will not be continuing with it. Way too assaulting to my sensitive conscious and mind that gives up no images ever. Ugh. So, with that said, do you think I could handle the British murder mystery you mentioned?

amy - July 26, 2015 - 7:03 pm

The Light Between Oceans: I seem to recall being frustrated with the characters’ choices being unbelievable. Not that I didn’t believe that people *could* think and act like they did…but that the author didn’t set me up adequately TO believe that THESE characters operated out of the motives and made the choices that they did. Compelling story, though, for sure, and hard to think through. I didn’t really even know how I *wanted* it to end.

Listening: Not much of anything podcast- or book-wise, strangely. I really like Christy Nockels’ new worship album.

Watching: All ten seasons of Friends…I was hooked on that show in junior high/high school, but never saw the last couple of seasons and got all nostalgic for it a few months ago. So I’ve been blowing through scores of episodes while I work out, do dishes, etc.

Reading: Haven’t been doing as much of this OR listening because of the above. EEK. Almost done though! Sara Hagerty’s memoir Every Bitter Thing is Sweet is really resonating deeply with me. (Do you follow her on IG?)

Eating: Tomatoes in/on everything since they’re finally in season :) And some caramel macchiato cookies I made yesterday. Plus peach muffins–did I mention those when you talked about muffins a couple of weeks ago? They are fabulous.

Drinking: Recently discovered I like strawberry in my water along with a splash of lime juice. A little iced coffee, but not as much as in the spring. I’m mad that Dunkin Donuts discontinued their butter pecan syrup after giving me a 99-cent refill cup! 😛

Morning Muffins

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I have a thing for muffins. I just love them. They are the perfect for breakfast paired with yogurt or an afternoon snack. They’re portable and freezable. Fast and easy to make. Since school has been out I’ve been making lots of different kinds to have on hand for snacking, breakfast, and picnics. Here’s some of our favorites.

Limelight Blueberry Muffins

This is a long-time favorite that puts a slight twist on the standard blueberry muffin. Since we have three blueberry bushes, we had lots of blueberries to use up and these are delicious if you like a hint of lime.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins (we usually omit the nuts)

Another favorite, who can resist the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors. Certainly not me!

One-Bowl Carrot Spice Muffins

This is a new family favorite I discovered in my new favorite cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam JarsThe carrots and cranberries made these muffins super moist and pretty healthy too.

Morning Biscuits with Cheddar, Dill, and Pumpkin Seeds

Although this recipe is referred to as a biscuit there is no rolling and biscuit cutting. You make them in a muffin tin, so I’m including them in this muffin line-up. I love dill and since we have some growing in our herb garden, these are an easy treat to make and easily freezes too!

What is your favorite muffin?