Archives for May 2011

Happy 9th Birthday Princess

My lovely daughter,

Today you are nine years old. As I wrote you your lunch note yesterday, I reflected a bit on the past nine years – or rather, eight years and 364 days – how quickly it feels like it’s gone by. How it seems that one day, I was sitting in the back seat of the car, hunched protectively over your infant car seat on your trip home from the hospital, wondering just when the rest of the world became such bad drivers and started listening to their stereos so loudly — and then I blinked and you’re executing an arabesque on a balance beam in front of hundreds of people.

How did we get from there to here?

It’s gone so quickly.

And while I’m not, nor have I ever been that mom that mourns each phase that passes (be relieved, sweet daughter, it means that you probably won’t have to tolerate quite so much crying from me), I still hope that I’m treasuring each moment as I should – embracing every second of this time. Sometimes I’m afraid that it will take just one more quick blink and I’ll be watching you cross a stage, accepting your diploma and moving towards whatever next stage of greatness awaits you.

I’ll be proud then. I know I will. I will know that it’s what I’ve prepared you for all these years. In my head, when I think about you turning nine, I think, “She’s halfway to eighteen.”

Slow down a little, world.

This has been such an amazing year for you – and I probably say that every year – but frankly, girly, you just get more and more amazing as each year goes by. I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother – there really isn’t a contract that says I have to compliment you – but I do because I mean it.

In the past year, I watched you give gymnastics a real try – despite the rocky beginning, you have really grown so much as an athlete. I look at you practice and I see how strong you’ve gotten, how much more confident you look when you’re executing a new skill. I see muscles where you once had none. I see an excitement when you master a stunt, a sense of pride. And while those achievements are your own – I had nothing to do with them, the practice and hard work is your own – I am still so proud when I see you.

I go to your meets and I think to myself when I see you, “That one – the one with the long blonde ponytail. She’s mine.” I sit and with camera pressed to my face (of course), I am glued to each routine, from the second you take the floors to when you look at the judge when you’ve completed the routine. All the while I think to myself, I am so proud of her.

I hope I tell you often enough how proud I am.

This year, I started leaving notes in your bag every day – I wanted to be sure that each day you know that you mean a lot to me, that you’re special to me, and how much I love you. When I found that pile of notes in your cubby, when you said you were saving them, it made my heart so truly happy – because I am glad that they mean something to you, also. I never wanted you to question that each day you are on my mind, each day you are in my heart. Always.

Yesterday, you received a card with birthday money in the mail – you told me last night, “I think I know what I want to spend it on! CHAPTER BOOKS!” You are a reader – and this makes me so completely happy. You’re a good student all around, actually – but the reading, well, that steals my heart. Life is never boring if you have books and you love books. When you have a love for words and understand the magic of words, the world is a wide open expanse of possibility – and there is nothing to hold you back from whatever adventure you seek – between the pages or beyond.

Every year, I write the letter to you – afraid I will leave something out – some major characteristic you developed over the year and that when I go back and re-read it, I will wish I had said that this was the year you did this or that – and I fear that the letter to you won’t say what I mean for it to —

But what I mean more than anything else is this:

Happy birthday to you, my daughter. You are nine today. You were a part of my heart before I even held you in my arms. Once I saw your face, I knew I’d go to the ends of the earth to show you that you are loved, that I love you, that you mean the world to me. I will say it often, and if I’m not saying it know that I’m thinking it. And if I’m being a grouchy, cranky mom, know that not far beneath that, my love for you is still there ALWAYS.

I love you with my whole heart and I am SO SO VERY LUCKY to be your mom.

Love you.

Cake is but only a slice of love

270 | 365

baker, baker baking a cake
make me a day, make me whole again
-Tori Amos


When I was a teenager, I once upset my grandmother by refusing a slice of cake. I can’t remember the reason – was I simply not hungry, was I in one of my “I don’t think I’ll eat today” phases, was it a calorie counting thing, was it a “you want me to eat this and I don’t want to do what you want me to do” thing. Odds are, it was far nothing more calculated than not being hungry – I have and have always had an insane sweet tooth.

But to her, it was an unbearable slight – to her, I hadn’t just rejected her cake but her love, love that she put together with her own two hands. Ingredients that she pulled off the shelf, out of the refrigerator, butter and sugar creamed together for the sole purpose of sharing cake with her grandchildren.

In the speech that I wrote for her funeral I said that food was her love language. I didn’t realize it when I was younger – had I known, perhaps I’d have accepted that slice of cake. I’d have eaten bite after bite, until finally, pressing the tines of my fork to the plate I would have captured every final crumb to savor in my mouth.

I remember when I was young thinking how trivial it was – who gets upset over cake?

And then as I get older, I realize more and more than often it is how I show my care and my concern and my heart is through food.

Not through my cooking – because lord knows, that might put you in the hospital with food poisoning or a terminally bored palate – but I bake.

Like my grandmother, I don’t like to arrive somewhere empty handed.

And when a birthday rolls around, yes, you better believe there will be cake.

Or three.

Unfortunately, in my quests to show my care and my love and heart in the form of a birthday cake – I always have these grand visions. It started on The Princess’s first birthday. I envisioned this tiered cake – smoothed with buttercream frosting, a different color frosting on each layer. Each layer would have a different design – one stripes, one polka dot, and so on.

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Actually, what DO they say about the best laid plans? I don’t know.

Anyway, which the cake was delectable and every bite was devoured – it was ugly as hell. And even today, years later as I had grand visions of the cupcakes I would make for The Princess’s gymnastics team tomorrow, I muttered and swore and wrapped myself in frustration that my vision wasn’t coming together on that damn cupcake.

As if somehow, perfectly piping those sunflower petals in yellow-orange frosting would show her just how much I love her – would show her how my life has changed since she has been in it. As if this pastry, surely to be gobbled down in three bites could even come close to saying what she means to me and how happy I am to be her mom, and what my world is like with her around.

Not even close.

I scraped off the marred frosting. Smeared a new layer on and doused it with sprinkles. I could never make a cake that tells her how much I love my daughter, but hopefully my words say it often enough that my cake doesn’t have to.


Thursday Ten: Sitting on the sofa eating bonbons edition

1. Um. No, not really – but nearly through my first week of work I have established some contract work with my former employer (Yes, I kind of anticipated that would happen – it’s a short term opportunity, but that’s okay), and I am in the process of designing some flyers for the whole “girl who takes pictures” thing – because with upcoming senior pictures and family pictures that hit in the summer – it’s prime time for my favorite kind of photography… PEOPLE!

2. Today is my last guitar lesson for the next few months –  I’m so sad! I’ll miss it – it’s funny how 30 minutes a week can be such a huge part of my week. One of the most joyful and FUN things I do, and I’ll miss it.

3. The end of the school year activities? Gettin’ INSANE. Field day, field trips, permission slips, five dollars here and there, pack a sack lunch, wear appropriate shoes, bring sunscreen, don’t bring glass, award programs, singing programs, make playdough, send in Michigan memorabilia – la la la. I can’t even begin to keep all of this straight and I have it written down in a few places. Today is field day and none of those little pieces of paper say WHAT TIME THE DARN THING STARTS.

4. We knew at the beginning of the year that there were peanut allergies in The Princess’s classroom so that we’d be unable to bake birthday cupcakes this year. Even if I make them completely nut free, there’s no guarantee that they weren’t cross contaminated by peanuts or peanut butter in my kitchen. Fine, I get that. So now I have to do store bought treats (Here kids! Have some lovely high fructose corn syrup! Happy day!). This morning, The Princess tells me, “Let’s buy those cupcakes at the store – those ones are okay – and so and so has a dairy allergy. We need to buy him a pack of Skittles.”

5. Speaking of The Princess – she ROCKED her gymnastics meet last weekend – two blue ribbons, two red. I’m very proud of her. Am amazed every time I see her compete – the confidence she radiates blows me away. Where did that come from? The amount she has progressed in the past year has been truly TRULY exciting to watch.

6. The other day, Pumpkin told me, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a paleontologist. And I want to own a wig store and call it Things For Your Head.” Never EVER a dull moment with that one.

7. Just over a month until the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco! 39.3 miles over two days. I did a ten mile practice walk the other day – am I ready for San Francisco’s hills? Uh, that’d be a resounding NO. But I’ll do my best, as always. Not a whole lot of hilly terrain for practice around here! {Just $230 from my fundraising goal if you’d like to donate!}

8. I have thrown away several socks over the past few weeks. ALL of my socks are deciding to get a lil bit holey lately. Makes sense, when you figure I bought them all at the same time and YES I AM BLOGGING ABOUT SOCKS. Shush.

9. I bought new gerbera daisies today. I keep one on my desk, one on the window sill in the kitchen – I keep them in glass frappuccino bottles with the labels removed. It’s the right size for a bud vase. I think the next step of the project will be to find a way to collage these “vases” with some fun ribbon. [Give me a job, I’m contemplating doing arts & crafts]

10. No new music this week, but I still cannot recommend The Civil Wars “Barton Hollow” album enough. I love it so so muchly.

And Then A New Chapter Began

Oh Sarah, seeing as how you don't actually have a job right now, maybe you should LEARN TO MAKE YOUR OWN FREAKING COFFEE?

And just as quickly as the previous chapter came to a close, the page turned and another began.

Begun? Began? Whatever. You didn’t come here for the grammar. Unless you did, in which case… I’m so sorry.

After two weeks of what I can only describe as an emotional roller coaster featuring much crying and hand wringing and “OHMYGODWHATAMIGOINGTODONOW”s, my last day of work arrived Friday with minimal fanfare. I woke up, I got dressed, got the kids on the bus, went to an appointment, went for coffee (uh, venti. When you lose your job, it’s a venti-day), then had time to spare so I puttered around Target before leaving to get to my 10:30 appointment.

Once I arrived? The manager of my department was… get this… LATE.

Let me tell you, when you’ve spent two weeks feeling sad about the end of an era and you actual sob real Oprah ugly-cry tears when you log off your work laptop for the last time, and you take a picture of the sign outside your former office building (oh yes I did), and THEN THEY ARE LATE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT?

Um, it’s easy to take that sadness and that last littlest bit of mourning and think to yourself, I think I’m done now. I’m over this. Let’s get this shizz done and get on with it.

And when he arrived – nearly twenty minutes late – I was already over it. I didn’t (as I so many times feared I would) cry during the meeting. I dotted the i’s, crossed the t’s, signed what needed to be signed, gave instruction about things that needed to get done and how. Yes, even after I’ve been let go, I still want to be sure things get done. I’d like to say that I was badass and was like, “Figure it out yourselves, yo!”… but, that’s not me. There’s a bit of ownership over the work I’ve done – and letting it go was difficult. While I’d love for them to realize EVENTUALLY just how much I truly rock – they will figure things out and find their way and what has to get done will get done somehow and that’s not mine to worry about any longer.

When I was finally done, when every topic for discussion had been exhausted, I walked out the door. The gray gloomy morning, the clouds that had been hanging so heavy in the sky, they started lifting as I walked to my car. With each step I took, more blue sky peeked through the gloom and I thought to myself, “Self. This is what some people might consider symbolism. Take note.”

Then, I hit my favorite trail and spent an hour in the sun walking around the lake with my iPod on and music in my ears and sun on my face.

I don’t know what’s ahead. While I certainly don’t want this to turn into the “Oh, look, I still don’t have a job” blog – it seems to be what is most prevalent in my life at the moment. Today was my first real “unemployed” day and I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to spend all this time because let me tell ya, I’m not going to start loving cleaning just because there’s nothing better to do.

I challenged myself in the new year that I was going to find work that challenges me, work that I am passionate about. And then, I promptly stayed put at that job because it was (and is) what I know.

That’s no longer an option.

I’m no longer sad.

I am, however, really bored. Already.

Thursday Ten: The Pink Elephant Edition*

1. The Nutella cake I referenced in last night’s post? Here’s the recipe. I think it should be served with vanilla ice cream. Trust me, I know these things.

2. I have not bought any new music this week – which is just not quite right and I need to remedy that promptly. What’s your favorite song these days?

3. I turned on American Idol for a few minutes last night. And then muted it. And then stopped paying attention. I think I am over it.

4. I spent the earlier part of the week reading a book so tense and awful that when it was done, I put it down and promptly picked up the biggest fluffiest book in my to-read pile to give my brain a break from people doing meth and killing people. What an awful book that last one was. I’m not sure why I finished reading it – you hit a point in a book sometimes where you’ve invested so much time, that to give up seems like a waste. I have GOT to learn to be able to just GIVE UP on bad books.

5. “What do you want to learn today?” my guitar teacher asked me. I shrugged. We just wrapped up Ryan Adam’s Desire (Oh how I love that song), and I hadn’t really thought ahead for anything else that I might want to learn. “Surprise me,” I replied.

6. As we wrap up our first year of competitive gymnastics, The Princess was very bummed that she is not yet being promoted to the next level. Skillwise she is just SO CLOSE that I hope that maybe if she can completely master her handspring, they’ll move her up. If not, they don’t. Sometimes it’s nice to be the big fish in the small pond.

7. I stopped by my favorite flower place today and almost bought myself a pot of gerbera daisies and then realized that attempting to grow something would be futile because the soil here is full of clay and because the puppy would dig anything pretty out of the ground within days. So I bought a bouquet of tulips. They’re gorgeous and it’s okay that in a few days they’ll wilt and die. I’ll buy new ones after that.

8. Went to see Bridesmaids on Sunday (along with everyone else in the universe, I think). And yeah, I thought it was funny. It also reminded me why weddings are such an unbelievable pain in the hind end. ALL THOSE WEDDING SHOWERS. And PEOPLE. Then again, my last wedding experience was my sister’s, and the massive amounts of dealing with her in-laws-to-be made for some…interesting times.

9. I have a new shampoo and it is eucalyptus-y. It smells good and makes my head feel happy. Speaking of – the other day, I mentioned on Twitter how one of my favorite parts about getting a hair cut is having my hair washed at the salon before hand. I guess I’m not the only one! A lot of agreement there… it’s the best, right?

10. One of the best parts about summer approaching is that it’s nearly county fair season. I actually don’t love county fairs – but do you know what I DO love? Elephant ears! Can’t wait.


*Nope, not talking about it. Again.

Stream of Consciousness

Note: I developed a habit in college of writing with my screen turned off — not really paying attention to the words, just figuring if I could get the words out first, I’d edit them into something coherent later.  So… That’s what I’m doing now. While I can’t turn the screen off (that I know of, I probably can but I’m too lazy to look it up), you’ll basically get a few minutes of brain spew. You’ll see how it is up in that brain of mine – like little hamsters running around all around up in there. It’s scary. Really. Are you ready? Here goes.


Sometimes a craving for cake will strike me out of the blue. I don’t even really like cake – but tonight, I was craving cake. Not just something sweet – I’d had a granola bar and was still thinking I needed something a little bit more…cakier… but CAKE. My friend had passed on that Nutella in a coffee mug cake recipe to me the other day. That cake, THAT is going to be the death of me… or the death of being able to fit into my pants.

But yum.

The weather is gray here. I spell gray with an a, gray. Some people don’t. Grey. How do you decide which way you’ll spell it? I prefer it with the a – is it a regional thing? Something that varies by country?

That Nutella cake requires a big glass of milk. Preferably really cold.

I saw a bit of Extreme Couponing tonight. Those people kind of scare me – makes me wonder how much time they spend on the whole coupon thing. All that research and planning? Bleh. And so help me if I ever end up behind one of them in the grocery store. I mean – I wonder, do you just watch the whole process impatient and annoyed or do you feed off their excitement, I wonder. Every clip I saw required the store management to intervene somehow, and I just picture standing in line, twenty minutes later wondering why in the hell anyone needs 58 packages of string cheese at once.

I have a stack of pictures in frames that need to be hung up. It’s been months and I keep framing my favorite shots and I keep stacking the pile higher and yet my photo wall isn’t even started. I can’t pick a wall – isn’t that crazy? In my head, I can visualize what picture I want placed where. I can even tell which pictures I haven’t yet framed but need to – but I have no idea what wall I’m visualizing. Seems like there’s not the space I need in a place where anyone else will see them.


Time’s up.

How’s that for random-slash-pointless?

There’s a crack in the gutter where a flower grows…

Three days left.

Tonight after dinner, I went for a drive to the store. I wanted saltines because I had forgotten to buy them earlier – I’m forgetting everything this week. My mind is scrambled and I am having a hard time rubbing two thoughts together and coming up with anything semi-coherent. I was in the car, driving, sunglasses on and found my eyes filled with tears.

The crying over a job I don’t even like has been the most surprising thing  about getting laid off.

I pushed my sunglasses out of the way to wipe a tear out of my eye and not a quarter mile down the road I realize… I don’t think I can totally see. I propped my sunglasses up and realize, yep, there’s my contact lens STUCK TO MY EYE LID. I pulled over to dig through my purse hoping to find some eye drops to clean up my contact and pop it back into my eye.

No dice.

I got the contact back in anyway (It wasn’t easy and I imagine I now have all kinds of car bacteria in my eyeball).

That stopped the crying, though. For that moment.

I have friends who are very excited about this time for me – clearly people, uh, less resistant to change than I am. I have possibilities and I have potential. There will be opportunities and this is my chance to find work that I am passionate about – work that makes me happy.

I don’t know how many times I said (and not entirely in jest) that my job was sucking my soul out — heh, I can blog that now that I don’t have to worry about getting fired – so, I should be relieved. I should be grateful. I should be doing the happy dance (Anyone remember the tv show Perfect Strangers and the “Dance of Joy”? I mean – I should be doing that!).

In my mind, I think it’s just a matter of getting through the next few days. Of getting past that mental road block – I need to physically close the door on this chapter – and then, THEN, I will feel some of this excitement that other people feel for me already. This adventure, this moment, this time.


There’s a crack in the gutter where a flower grows
Reminding me that everything is possible
Yeah reminding me that nothing is impossible
You gotta live for the one that you love you know
You gotta love for the life that you live you know

Singin’ hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away

Michael Franti & Spearhead, “Hey Hey Hey”

April Showers Bring…May Showers. OH, and flowers.

Gerbera makes me happy


This is the first time I’ve actually entered an I Heart Faces challenge, though I always mean to and then realize too late that I missed the deadline. Queen of missing the boat, that’s me. But this week’s challenge is flowers and I LOVE TAKING PICTURES OF FLOWERS.

Thursday Ten: Game SEVEN Edition

1. Oh yes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start out with the ohmygoshtheRedWingsandSharksplayGAMESEVENtonight! It’s been an intense series – I’m hoping Detroit emerges victorious. If they lose, that will suck. (I’m so eloquent about hockey.)

2. Wherefore art thou, spring? Currently, it’s 80 degrees. Humidity is 64% which is code for “Sarah is wearing a ponytail”.  The middle of the road seasons are my favorite – and I hope that things cool down and we get more of a taste of spring again before getting bombarded with all this stupid HEAT.

3. “This is the week you turn to your guitar to cheer you up when you feel like things aren’t going your way.” Or so says my guitar teacher, in a combination of trying to uplift me and probably wishful thinking because I didn’t even open my guitar case with the chaos of last week. Today, she threw Jack Johnson’s “Holes to Heaven” at me because she liked the riff.

4. Despite the ugly heat, I went for a run this afternoon and actually made decent time and didn’t feel like curling up in a ball in the gutter from exhaustion. TWO BIG THUMBS UP.

5. When I said the folks at LoveDrop had a fan for life – I really meant it. Even though the Love Drop for my lovely friend Katie is complete, I have stuck around because I really like what this group is doing. This month, the goal is to help a family in Louisiana. The goal? To get them a car. If you have connections in the automotive industry and can help them reach this goal, or even if you don’t and just want to see how you can help otherwise, please be sure to visit Love Drop and let ’em know.

6. I am sure that I have talked about them before – but my love for barbecue PopChips has been renewed. I ate an insane amount of them yesterday (NO, I’m not telling y’all how much chips I ate – but it was both a lot and too much all at once). I tweeted about them – that PopChips are like meth, but legal and cheaper. I thought for sure I’d get a tweet back from the lovely PopChips folks telling me to stop comparing their product to illegal controlled substances. Instead, they tweeted me back with the hashtag: #snackcrack. They know what they’re talking about.*

7. A while back, I wrote here about the book We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel. Today, I see that they have made a movie from this book – starring Tilda Swinton and it debuted at Cannes to good reviews. While I don’t often care for movie adaptations of books, I’d be curious to see this one. The book was horrifying and gripping and just… I just got goosebumps recalling it. I had to read this book in small doses – but it was tremendous. I hope the movie measures up.

8. As the school year comes closer to its end, the number of activities increases ten-fold: field days, field trips, and performances (Oh my!). Both girls have numerous events in the next several weeks – I’m gonna be one busy mom. Guess it’s a good thing I have a lil more free time right now, huh?

9. Speaking of school, earlier in the school year, I did a rude thing and I set up a filter in my email so that all emails from the PTA would skip my inbox altogether and go directly to a folder that I could review at my leisure. The reason being was that those PTA parents are email-happy – I was getting NUMEROUS emails daily (I’m not even ON THE PTA), and then all the replies to the emails. It was working quite well, until today. Today, my email is getting bombarded with “reply all” messages to the request for food for the staff appreciation luncheon (I’ll offer to bring cookies – y’all know I can’t cook).

10. The warm weather brings me the reminder that I probably do not drink enough water. I get on these hydration sprees regularly – and will consume massive amounts of water…for a few days before giving up. Today is a “guzzle lots of water” day. It’s also a “spend a lot of time thinking about how much you have to pee” day.

*No, I am not being paid or sponsored to talk about PopChips, though, hey, PopChip people… call me. You can pay me in PopChips. Really. I don’t need money, just chips. Lovely, savory, crunchy, salty, yummy barbecue chips. FOR LIFE. Nom nom nom.

And under the uncertainty perhaps will be direction

I feel like a broken record sometimes when the things that have been on my mind most frequently are, Okay, what next? Now what? When am I going to get that resume written? Oh my god, does this mean I have to figure out LinkedIn?

I really don’t want to figure out LinkedIn.

At the beginning of 2011, I said to myself, “Self, this is the year you find work that you are passionate about.” While I am and always have been passionate about receiving a paycheck, admittedly the work I have been doing has not been fulfilling in a long time. And sure – it was once – when I was working on projects I felt I could be proud of – when I was accomplishing things that not just any hobo off the street could do. Those were the days when I felt pretty proud of myself and liked my job.

But, it’s been awhile since I have had a burst of, “WHOA. Yeah. You just did something REALLY. AMAZING.”

I miss that.

And so that is what I seek – to make a difference, to find work that makes me happy, to work with people that I truly like. I need autonomy – and I bristle under micromanagement (which is why working from home has been a good thing for me – I’m motivated, for sure – and I can get things done. I get things done even faster without being directed on every. little. detail.).

Is that job out there?

I think it is. I’m sure it is.