SWEETER THE SECOND TIME AROUND

WTF: Wave Two Fingers!

Are things sweeter the second time around?  Here are two arguments with two sides and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

MEN
Girl meets boy. Girl loves boy. Boy breaks up with girl. Girl gets over boy. Boy comes crawling back to girl when they’re both home for the summer…  In my case, it didn’t fly.  Now, Girl is great friends with Boy. Then, there was no chance of the romance reaching the same marks so awkwardness ensued.  The reasons we weren’t right still weren’t right.   I’ve known people who married, divorced, then were so friendly and fun they remarried, remembered why they divorced, only to do it again.  Yet, I’ve also had friends who dated someone in high school, their lives went in two different directions until years later their paths cross again when the timing was golden!

JOBS
Girl gets job. Girl loves job. Job’s corporation closes company. In a pre-emptive strike, Girl leaves job.  Now temping, Girl accepts assignment at barely-standing old job to see friends.  Again, with no chance of the job respect to ever reach the same marks, awkwardness ensued. Yet, I’ve had friends who leap from their job to another company then pinball back into first in a higher position within carefully calculated timeframes to maintain seniority and retirement.

THINGS I KNOW ARE SWEETER THE SECOND TIME

Children – While I’d heard 1 + 1 (kids) equals 11 times the work, not 2, the payoff of having two amusing offspring amazing the heck out of me was 11 times as rewarding!

Marathons – At my 2nd mile 25, instead of cursing the course creators for their never-ending finish line, I remember a distinctly jubilant moment as I ran the last 1.2 miles!

Blog Awards – While it’s an honor to be nominated, to be nominated twice is superb!  I thank Caitlin at What She Writes for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award – again!

So looooong overdue! Thank you Caitlin!
I’m working on my crazy questions but couldn’t put this off any longer!

I get a kick out of knowing people keep reading and it means a lot that they respond!  I love that people in my blogosphere share similar or creative thoughts so check out Caitlin’s blog if you like mine.

So, pipe in! I could use a second opinion!

BEST MOTHER’S (OR OTHER) DAY GIFT

In our house the kids get excited about holidays – especially those involving gifts. We like to put thought into gift giving when we have the luxury of time, and they enjoy planning for me just as much. They start planning what they’re going to give me early on but considering they don’t have an allowance, the school no longer offers their gift fair (where the kids bought the family’s gifts), nor do we have another parent to take them shopping, their options were limited. Additionally, considering how much stuff resides in this apartment with us, the last thing I need are more tchotchkies. Pinterest didn’t exist yet in my universe so what now?!

I wish I still had the article that provided this gem so I could credit the woman. At her suggestion, I purchased a nicer journal and every Mother’s Day and birthday the kids now each design a page in the journal. So far, I’ve received pictures of our house, poems, and love notes with bouquets of flowers. One of the best parts becomes looking back reliving the love of previous years and laughing at what was on someone’s mind. I love seeing how the children’s abilities and interests grow each year as well.

Lauren working on her masterpiece!

The rules are simple – anything goes. It can be handmade or store bought then glued in the page, drawn, assembled as a collage, painted, stickers, glitter, anything! Realizing that children evolve, as do their moods, written words aren’t required but if you include them they can be original thoughts, song lyrics or whatever communicates your sentiment. Being realistic that kids will pass through teenage years, the philosophy “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” stands. I fully expect trends to waver from flowery sweetness to minimalist.

Carson keeps his back to me so I can’t see. Not too secretive but it worked.

Even if you do have another parent in the house to take the kids shopping, I’ve yet to see any gift that will beat the journal. While we started it for the holidays, my goal is to showcase it and make it available for any OTHER day as well so whenever the children feel so inclined, they may savor its pages, relish the memories and add to its richness.

Lauren’s 2011 masterpiece! (I haven’t seen 2012 yet!)

GRATITUDE SUNDAY – CATCH UP!

Whenever I get days off from work, I take care of neglected things – and as you’ve seen, blogging made the list longer.  With me having three days off before rolling into the kids’ Spring Break, I couldn’t wait to get caught up.

KIDS’ SCHOOL

I immediately signed up to fulfill my parental duty working the drop-off for my daughter’s class. Then I helped in my son’s class helping with a super fun hands-on science roller coaster building project.

The break also fit perfectly with my son’s Battle of the Books. Seeing how the contest operated brought so much more meaning to his team’s positioning in the top two which qualified them for the district championship!  He and his friends on all teams really worked hard and it felt great seeing them shine in this scholastic competition.

It was a tough competition!

TAXES

They’re done, I got my refund, I don’t want to talk about them for at least another 290 days. We did one splurge, renewing our passes to a local theme park and immediately broke them in!

Doodleoodleooooo Wah WAH wah…

BABIES

I spent time with some of the most adorable babies!  From my 15-month niece to my friends’ 9-month and 6-week old babies, it was a delicious morning of baby smell, snuggles and mom chats!

KID STUFF

We spent so much time shuttling to band auditions and ball games, to name a few, that for a moment, I couldn’t figure out how we normally manage this.  During spring break ball sports were cancelled which meant we didn’t have to leave town to “get away.”

FAMILY

We relaxed with all my family, and enjoyed our favorite traditions – Hungarian Feasting and Maryland Crab Feast! My kids soaked in their favorite event – swimming! We met new babies: 2 ducks and a dog, and had a girls’ night to get my sister caught up on Twilight: Breaking Dawn!

Fight to the end!

HOME

While my place isn’t spotless, folding laundry the same day we washed it and the kitchen sink being absent of dishes meant a lot.

Although, I worried that it was too much at first, the break maintained a perfect balance of work and play! How about you? Working hard or hardly working? There is no wrong answer!

GRATITUDE SUNDAYS: DO OVERS

Everyone’s said “If I knew then what I know now…” While one can’t “refresh” life’s events, life often presents second chances! So, again, I seized the silent moment – between the finish line of the weekend, and the starting line for the next one – to reflect on the gifts thrown in my path.

TOP OF MY HEAD GRATITUDE LIST:

1) High School – Facebook reconnected me with many early friends that I’d lost touch with. It also put me in touch with others that I wish I’d known better, even a high school crush – we now tease each other with it. Social media provides the opportunity to set up mini reunions and return to High School with new appreciation for what we all experienced and stronger interest in who we became!

2) Family Dinners – I suspect I’m not the only one whose kids’ come home from their other parent’s or grandparents’ homes and need time to transition. My kids don’t get blatantly disrespectful; they’re just grouchy and tired, which leads to weepy. After too much whining over games, I sent one to shower, one to clean up, and I immediately cleared our dinner table. We’d eaten in front of the TV the last 2 busy weeks because I spread our taxes across the table. By the end of the meal we were laughing over Lauren’s faces, or Carson’s Chewbacca’s sounds or jokes at my expense.

3) Memories – When I first got divorced, filing away the past 16 years of memories challenged me. I was determined to get to a place where I could own the path I traveled and not feel like I must steer around certain neighborhoods. Obviously time and distance helped, but working at a university helps too – being able to share my experiences from that dividing point in my life and career helps me remember my path.

4) Perspective. Don’t beat yourself up if you think of the perfect line after you leave the conversation. There’s a good chance your paths will cross again.

Again, this merely scratched the surface and I’m grateful for many more Sundays to continue to call out those moments that I’m most grateful for. What are you grateful for?

NEW NEIGHBORS, OLD FAVORITE RECIPE

Remember that old Sesame Street segment with the catchy tune “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong”? When our awesome upstairs neighbors moved out, the campaign to find a fourth tenant that did go with the others began.

I’ve gushed before over how much I love the combination of folks living in our four-plex. We enjoyed each others company as barbeque buddies, playmates, Twilight groupies, Diznoids, busy parents, Johnny Depp lovers, and sports chauffers. Our differences added flavor to the mix: our ages, histories, marital status, careers, and hobbies. We truly looked forward to hanging out, so the bar was high for prospects.

With a constant parade of lookie-loos, we put on our best manners whenever someone we wanted dropped in. Yesterday’s rainstorm resulted in a higher than expected flow of people and repairs being done. When I saw a car parked in back that night and low lights on upstairs, my initial thoughts pondered the presence of squatters. Then it hit me, someone moved in! I didn’t meet her until this morning and first impressions – we got fortunate again, she’ll fit in great.

To give my children an excuse to meet her themselves, I pulled out our oldest and simplest but favorite recipes! We call it “Cinnamon Cake” although, it’s hardly a prominent flavor.

Buy Yellow Cake mix, any brand – we choose the ones with the most school Box Tops. Follow the directions on the box to bake a sheet cake.

So easy a child can make it!

While the cake bakes, prepare the cinnamon topping. Purchase cinnamon sugar premixed, or mix a teaspoon or so (maybe more) with ½ cup sugar and shake-a shake-a shake-a YAH!

Doing his best Ricky Martin – Shake your cinnamon!

Do the dishes.

Lick them clean!

Immediately after the cake comes from the oven, melt a stick of butter by spreading it on top. Nothing says “Welcome to the neighborhood!” like butter. Relax… you’ll cut this cake into so many pieces that you’ll barely get a pat of butter per slice.

Secret ingredient!

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on the cake evenly.

Shake it lightly for even coverage, don’t dump it on.

Cover the cake thoroughly.

As if magic, the sugar crystals change color!

Notice how it turns a nice golden caramel brown!

More please!

Two thumbs up! Why does that only happen for desserts?!

We left treats for every neighbor!

BETTER THAN BADGES?! BLOGGER BLING!

Image

Today I wallowed in self-pity over this cold lasting FOREVER – really, 8 days – and my cold med-muted creativity. Then, something sparkly caught my eye to draw my vision beyond the walls of my Kleenex box.  Vanessa Chapman nominated ME for a versatile blogger award!  This means a lot because I frequently ponder whether my career seemed too versatile, not focused enough!  So thank you Vanessa – this nomination feels great!   For those of you reading this posting, I recommend you check out Vanessa’s page as she, like me, has 2 kids, but successfully freelances and acts!

So the rules of the award are to present 7 unique facts about me and to give kudos to 15 sites that I love (>365 words tonight)

MY SEVEN UNIQUE FACTS:

1)    My parents thought girls were easier to raise than rough-and-tumble boys, but I’ve required more stitches than most men I know – not counting babies’ births.

2)    I got one job interview because I listed “hat-writing” (embroidering on Mickey ears) as a skill on my resume and it peaked their curiosity. Didn’t take the job at the trigger (handguns) factory.

3)    Most people assume I am Hawaiian, except the Hawaiians don’t fall for it to offer me the local discount.

4)    I’m half Korean – I don’t know what the other half is

5)    The first 3 places I worked for went bankrupt.  The 4th noticed but said they weren’t worried – Disneyland.

6)    I love watching any sport live but not on TV.  Perhaps crowd-watching is the proper sport!

7)    While I’m totally star struck, I hold it together when my job depends on it. I couldn’t help it when I phoned Bill Cosby: “I’m not supposed to say this, but I have to tell you how much fun my family had watching the Huxtables for years!” He seemed truly flattered despite me being the million gazillionth person to tell him that.

MY FIFTEEN FAVORITE SITES:

1)    lovemymslife.com – High School friend – MS Advocate – MS Awareness week!

2)    joechacon.wordpress.com – His writing on a variety of mediums – versatile

3)    jenniferstgermain.com– Sweetest perspective on her big life

4)    planetmarce.blogspot.com – One of the most talented designers I know!

5)    housefullofmenandme.blogspot.com – A supermom who gets it all done

6)    cupcakesbyjoyce.com – Everything more delicious than the last!

7)    marcandangel.com – Endless inspiration

8)    dudecraft.com – Dude, crafts!

9)    karaspartyideas.com – I love planning parties

10)  theangrytherapist.com – Nuff Said!

It’s getting really tough to choose at this point but will recommend 5 more, and notify everyone by the morning to fulfill my duties as Versatile Blogger!  Thank you again, Vanessa!

SOLAR STORM YIELDS A POCKET FULL OF SUNSHINE

Woo hoo!  Three cheers for the sun this week!  A solar flare threatened to tan us all to a crisp or frazzle our GPS to mess up our commutes!  We received warm enough days for kids to jump in the ocean – no sane adult would do that without a wetsuit. Then, as I left work, I discovered I’d received a pocketful of sunshine from Beth over at weight4us.  THANK YOU for The Sunshine Award nomination!

Check out these amazing ladies!

Made My Day – Thank you!

This award spread a smile across my face and put a spring in my step! To receive this nomination from two ladies who so honestly share their life experience – past, present, and future – and the challenges they face together while on their journey means a lot.  Everyone’s challenges differ, but we all experience them and the journey goes better with someone to travel the road with you.

Rules

  • Place up the award picture, link back to and thank the person who nominated you – hopefully I did that right
  • Answer the ten questions posed to you
  • Pass on the award to 10 or more bloggers

Questions

  • Favorite colorRed – Passionate!
  • Favorite animalHorse
  • Favorite number5 – as in o’clock
  • Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Arnold Palmer
  • Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
  • My passionKindness
  • Getting or giving presents: Giving
  • Favorite pattern:   Hidden Mickeys
  • Favorite day of the weekSaturday – as far from the workweek as possible
  • Favorite flower: Tuberoses – heavenly scent

I am excited to pass on the Sunshine Award to 10 bloggers who I feel bring overflowing pockets of sunshine into my day.  I chose blogs that a) I’ve met only in the blogosphere; b) Must contribute beauty to this world! Please check out their blogs and if you like them as much as I do, follow them!

kevinscottdavis

The Positivity Page

From Nonsense to Momsense

Single Dad Laughing

Smile, kiddo

The Struggler’s Handbook

Eggton

Sarsm

Julia Hedlund  Write Up My Life

Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Sunshine relaxes me, envelopes me, soothes me, surprises me.  Thanks again Beth, for presenting me with the closest sunshine-in-a-can substitute for the real thing!  You and Elysia inspire us all!

Enjoy your weekend!

Best,

Sarah

SATURDAY CELEBRATIONS: IT’S THE WEEKEND AND YOU DESERVE IT!

Every Monday, the coffee-time banter repeats,

“How was your weekend?”  “Great, but too short!

While I’m designing a time-travel machine with settings to speed up work-weeks, or slow down weekends, meanwhile, I’m determined to maximize precious relaxation time. This pep-talk stands to convince me that downtime will even present itself as, today, we split time between two season openers, two sets of team pictures at opposite times, opposite fields, and one ball game.

Still smiling…

Despite this, I woke up determined to celebrate today.  I asked, “What Would Oprah Do?” I know whom she’d call first, I used to work for Marc who designed all of her fantastic invitations. With 16 hours between leaving and retrieving my kids, my plan must be simpler than hers.

As soon as I kissed the kids goodnight, I hit the car wash. There, I pondered what girlfriends and I did when we hung out as teens.

Once home, I lit smelly candles – the warm glow sweetened the air, plus I get a wish when blowing them out.

Everything looks better with candlelight!

I straightened up, turned on the party lights for the important guest – me!

I love the added sparkle of the holiday lights and kept them up!

I colored my hair,

Wait, this isn’t the kit that does perfect make up too?

…played a few games of Bejeweled Blitz – my pre-blog timesuck

My high score for the week still blows compared to my sister. No sibling rivalry here.

…did a pinterest project: two-tone nails!  I learned a) how hard it is to coordinate colors in a jar; b) how wrinkly my hands look from bad angles and c) how tough posing your hand is. Since I’m right-handed, the other one looks like I clawed my way out of the little league snack bar.

Had to be mildly conservative because of my job.

I ordered dinner, which prompted a topic for the near future – FCW! I used my pretty chopsticks.

Since this posting will be done before 11pm, a movie or book follows.

Wait… don’t throw a pity party for me,

“What’ll Sarah try next, eating alone at a restaurant? Seeing movies by herself?! We need to get her a man/friend/dog!”  Turns out, my girlfriend Oprah agrees with the value of solitary time. With under 24 hours to recharge, no offense, I don’t feel like speaking to anyone. I value my friendships more than ever, but I’m learning to value myself more too.

Gotta go, as the hostess of this party, I must get back!

————–

I ALMOST FORGOT: If you want to wander with friends, please LIKE the Facebook page! Eventually all back posts will be available there as well for easier sharing! Keep your amazing feedback coming!  I love it and simmer on every idea!

THANK YOU!

GRATITUDE SUNDAY: COMMUNITY

After trudging through this week, my instinct to find something good in it rose to the top. Today proved to be less about rest, more about the continual transition to our future. I seized the silent moment – between the finish line of the weekend, and the starting line for the next one – to reflect on the gifts thrown in my path.

TOP OF MY HEAD GRATITUDE LIST:
1) Listening to past friends – I enjoyed lunch with 4 co-workers who worked together with me elsewhere, and again at my current job. Lunch never lasts long enough. I also ate with people, dropping our old job boundaries, with no hidden agenda besides celebrating one of us.

2) My son’s Cub Scout Den all decided to bridge to the same Boy Scout Troop even though many – including us – considered going with friends to Troops outside the city. Forming and building life-long friendships and connections ranks close to the top of my wish list for my children.

3) My daughter and son both love their baseball/softball teams and coaches. While it doubles the strain on our week, attending practice in two leagues in opposite ends of the city. My daughter shines in her element on the diamond. My son’s love for the sport blossomed – as did his batting skill – in just a few weeks!

4) I’ve received positive feedback on my blogging and that feels amazing! I cling to the mantra of “If I could just touch one person with my writing, it’ll all have been worth it” – it’s true.

5) I got to see 2 unexpectedly good films this weekend. After avoiding Real Steel for as long as possible, it surprisingly touched and entertained me! As a part of “My Day, Part II,” we saw Hugo – my new favorite! I loved the thought that the world operates as a big machine and each part of the mechanism has purpose – extra pieces carrying no purpose do not exist.

6) Perspective. After the tragedy in this week, my divorce seemed mild.

This merely scratched the surface and I’m grateful for many more Sundays to continue to call out those moments that I’m most grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

I’M STUCK ON GETTING UNSTUCK DAILY

Waking up Friday, the first thought sneering and challenging me counted “10 hours til Friday night!”  Still high off the me-time from last week I counted on the zen to return once the 5 o’clock hour hit.  Only one job, a short commute, and Tae Kwon Do class to carpool first.

Then, I got a sunshiney email saying that another really creative and fun blog that celebrates 365 day projects and getting UNSTUCK featured MY BLOG today! Check it out!

So excited I didn’t need coffee this morning!

It put a spring in my step and a smile on my face! Validation flowed through my veins. I became community property, shared with another blogger’s audience!

Then, ironically, I got stuck!  Now, expectation looked over my shoulder watching what I typed.  My daughter moved my shoulder to tally today’s total views. My son hugged my shoulders asking about today’s topic. Now, he literally sleeps right behind my shoulder on the fold-out couch meaning I’m not alone with my thoughts.  I do love that they’re interested in my passion, and I hope they learn the pleasure of expressing themselves through creative mediums.

The saying goes “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Today’s attention took this project from a personal challenge to the general public. Yet thoughts of the obvious perks from turning my treasured pastime into my life’s work turn fuzzy when considering business plans, budgets, and SWOT analysis reports.

Running low on time, I went to the room where I get my best thinking done and a book offered advice “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…” A bookmark still saved the spot where I meant to continue reading back in 1998.

Anyone else find it ironic that this advice is found in a self-help book?

The chapter teaches that instead of forcing ourselves out of a bad or challenging mood after heavy self-analysis and exploration (who me?!) that if we understand and even celebrate bad moods as much as we celebrate great ones, we’ll see that this, too – even writer’s block – shall pass! I love this nightly opening of the dam and letting words flow onto the page.

Smooth sailing from here on out!

So, thank you Noah and thank you readers, whether you’re floating through for your first or fifty-fifth time, I’m glad you’re wandering with me!

 

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