Archives for March 2012

Five reasons to donate $5 to fight breast cancer

In my office today, many people are wearing jeans. Many people are wearing jeans in an office that does not have Jeans Day on Friday. Why are we bucking the tradition? Because they were awesome enough to allow people here to wear jeans with a donation of five bucks towards a breast cancer charity – either my favorite, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (to support me) or to any other organization, if they had one they preferred.

Can I just take a minute to say how AWESOME this is?

So, I thought I’d spread this around a bit – because chances are, you’re wearing jeans at work or at home today and you want to donate five bucks to fight breast cancer, that would be awesome. If you need a few more reasons… here’s FIVE.


1. Every three minutes there is a new diagnosis of invasive breast cancer.
That’s a lot. That’s too much. Within the past year, a family friend was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. She’s younger than me. Friends have had members of their family fighting the disease. There’s a tremendous advantage to awareness and early detection – but whoa if that number of people diagnosed isn’t staggering. It’s too many. It’s an awful disease that needs a cure.


2. Every 13 minutes a life is lost to breast cancer.
Early detection means more people are kicking this disease’s butt… but EVERY 13 MINUTES. Think about that number for a second. It’s devastating.


3. Early detection helps save lives.
The Avon Walk doesn’t just fund research. It funds programs to get treatment for those who are fighting the disease. BUT it also helps promote early detection. In 2011, outreach programs navigated more than 125,000 people into mammography screening and clinical breast exams in 2011 and reached a half million people with critical education and information (*source:


4. Because I’ve already walked nearly 120 miles to fight breast cancer.
And this year I’ll walk 39.3 more. And next year, another 39.3. I’ll keep walking because I believe the work I do fundraising, blogging about, tweeting about, talking about – it all makes a difference. Avon has a saying, “In it to end it.” And I am. I have friends fighting breast cancer. I have friends who are survivors. And I walk for them. But not just for them – I walk for my daughters, so they never have to fear a breast cancer diagnosis. I walk for your daughters. Your moms. Your sisters. Your friends. And not just the women, because you know? Men can get breast cancer too.


5. And if those reasons weren’t enough – you should donate because I’ll be sending something awesome to one randomly selected donor.
If you are more motivated by fun stuff (and sometimes, hey, fun stuff is a motivator) – I’ll be randomly selecting one person who has donated to me this week – be it a $5 donation or a $500 donation – and sending something cool. Something from me and my heart and outta my own pocket – because I appreciate your support and your love.

Click HERE to donate.  Your support makes a difference.

Join me in the fight against breast cancer.

Thursday Ten: Spring Fever edition

1. The kids in west Michigan are gearing up for spring break – but where’s MY spring break?! I really think there should be mandatory spring breaks for parents too. I mean, I guess you’d have to stagger it a bit – the whole world can’t stop working at once, but yeah. Spring break for EVERYONE!

2. I’ve mentioned Chris Mann once or twice around this here blog. Well, The Voice is getting ready to start its LIVE ROUNDS next Monday – that means Chris will be performing again (WHOOHOO!) and that we’ll get the opportunity to vote to keep him around. Watch him, love him, vote for him. Seriously, the guy is GOOD.

3. We’re having a fundraiser in my office tomorrow to raise funds for the Avon walk and other breast cancer charities, and I think I may do some cool things here as well. Stop by tomorrow. Really.

4. Apparently my bundt pan is too small. I saw an amazing recipe for a glazed lemon pound cake in Real Simple magazine. After about 20 minutes of cooking, I smelled something burning. When I peered in my oven I found all the batter had overflowed onto the bottom of my oven, burning up a big stink. Oy. Enough of it survived though even though it wasn’t a very pretty cake. I’ll buy a bigger bundt pan because I am DEFINITELY making it again. DELISH.
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5. I wish I had cake. That cake went to my sister and brother-in-law along with some homemade ropa vieja, as the last dinner to be delivered to them post-baby. I had arranged for people to bring them dinners. Due to egos and people just being bananas, it went horribly afoul. Except my ropa vieja. That was good. And we’ve already established the delish-ness of the cake. (And my friend who gave them gift cards – that worked well too. But the mean people? That didn’t work).

6. As the weather warms up I start trying to eat in a more healthful way – most of the time it goes really well. Other times I start blogging about cake and end up diving face first into a bag of Everything-flavored Pretzel Crisps.

7. My March Madness brackets? A big ol mess. BOO to you Vanderbilt. And Duke. And the other team that I forgot about. Pfft. This is my worst showing in years.

8. Completely caved in to a fashion whim and bought brightly colored jeans for spring. I’m not often “on trend” – mostly because I just don’t care – but have found myself so drawn to these bright pants. Cute pinkishy-purpley skinny jeans from the Gap. Now where am I gonna wear ’em?

9. TicTacs as a food group – yes or no?

10. Right now, I’m reading The Paris Wife for book club. Wow, another great book club selection. It’s fiction, but based on Ernest Hemingway and his wife. Definitely enjoying it. What are you reading these days?

I’m not a bitch, I’m just an introvert

Dig if you will a picture…

We’re at a dinner party. It’s cocktail hour, everyone is dressed to the nines, people are getting drinks, mingling. The room is packed and every where you look it’s a seemingly endless sea of faces. The room hums with the chatter of several simultaneous conversations. There are familiar faces, but a lot of faces I don’t know as well. You? You dive right in. You look for friends, you look for new faces. You jump into a conversation, hand extended to greet someone with a firm handshake and a “Hi, my name is…”

Me? At this point? I’m OVERWHELMED.

And I love people and I love being social but time and time again, I find that events like this leave me wanting to find the nearest wall to hold up, to let people come say hello to ME, and sometimes I leave wondering if maybe I couldn’t have tried to be more social.

I’m an introvert.

Not like that was any surprise to me. I mean, I’ve known that, but recently I picked up Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a book by Susan Cain that not only explores what introversion is but explains lots of other stuff – that made me feel like Ohhhh, THAT explains why I react like X when Y happens.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I’m an antisocial hermit – quite the contrary – I really enjoy when I’m able to go out with friends and connect and talk and socialize. Yeah, I will enjoy myself more if I’m sitting down with one or two peeps and digging in depth and connecting and talking about life than having surface conversations with dozens of people at an event. Does that mean I avoid events? No. But I’m not a social butterfly. I’m probably kind of sort of a little overwhelmed. I probably will leave feeling like I should have talked to more people.

But that’s okay.

Being an introvert also (obviously) explains why working at home was such a fantastic fit for me. I remember when I started working from home six plus years ago, my boss being concerned – some people need to be in an office, they need to have people near by to bounce ideas off of, they need that water cooler talk. Well, to some degree, I do as well… but… I work pretty well without it. In fact, getting to work in my own little world is how I thrive – and I’ve had to adjust to being back in an office again.

“Quiet” addresses finding restorative niches – basically ways to catch your breath during your day. For people who need to shut the world out sometimes, offices can be overwhelming. I love the people in my department, but I find that making sure I get outside for a walk  by myself during my lunch hour kind of restores a bit of centeredness (shut up, it is SO a word) I need to get through my day.

Being an introvert or an extrovert – neither is a disease or something that needs to be fixed – they’re just traits, part of who you are. And if you, like me, pick up that book it’s not because you don’t know whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert and you want to find out — it’s probably because you already know. And I really figured “what can this book tell me about myself that I don’t already know?” but I was kind of pleasantly surprised with it.


Thursday Ten: Sleeveless in March edition

1. This afternoon at the end of the work day, I peeled off my cardigan, threw my hair up in a ponytail and rolled the windows all the way down before driving home. This record breaking March heatwave is insane. So grateful for cooler weather rolling in. Somewhere between snow and oven-roasting is the temperature I like best. I’d like to have a little spring first.

2. I was thrilled and honored to have been able to photograph my newborn niece last week. Truly a labor of love and I find it so much easier to photograph people I care about. I frequently second guess myself and always feel I could have done better. This shoot? I’m pretty pleased with how it went.
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3. Just finished reading the first of two book club books last night. Defending Jacob: A Novel is probably one of the better books I’ve read in a long time – quite a few plot twists I completely didn’t see coming (and frankly, usually you can see ’em coming). Well written, riveting. A++. If you like mysteries or legal thrillers, give it a whirl.

4. I’ve taken to drinking a lot of water in the office – gotta stay hydrated and frankly it keeps me from being hungry all day (okay, it doesn’t really. I’m still always hungry, but it at least distracts me from eating). When I fill my water cup, I’m reminded of a story my high school Spanish teacher used to tell, which revolved around the saying “Agua va!” I guess I think of it when I’m getting water, because y’know, water = agua… But the saying actually had to do with dumping chamber pots full of pee out the window. If I’m remembering it right. Wouldn’t it be funny if my brain was just making that up? But yeah, I’m sure it’s about falling pee. Cheers.

5. Booked my flights to Boston and I’m definitely gearing up for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I suppose right about now I should be doing longer training walks. Oy. I haven’t yet. The past three years, the longest training walk I’ve done is 8 miles. And you’re right, walking eight doesn’t prepare you to walk nearly 40.

6. But I have been able to go outside and enjoy cardio outside again. I may not be walking 40 miles, but it really is nice to work out in fresh air as opposed to clunking around on the treadmill.

7. The Princess got her report card this week – straight As. Just completely wonderful to see her teacher’s nice comments and seeing how hard the kiddo has worked for her grades. She is just really an amazing kid – and I like that she’s a good student.

8. I got Crystal Light Margarita flavored drink mix. It’s just like a margarita! Without the ice! Or the salt! Or the zillion calories! Or the tequila! Actually, it’s not awful – but I guess there’s still a part of me that if I’m drinking something that tastes like a margarita, well, I’d actually like for it to be a margarita.

9. I’m really very hungry right now.

10. To make life a little easier for my sister and her hubby while adjusting to life with a new baby, I’ll be bringing them dinner tomorrow. I’m telling you about it now because I’m very hungry. I plan on making a lot so there’s enough for us and them – but I sure do love ropa vieja so that’s what I’m making. I’ll throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning and prep some rice before I deliver it at dinner time. That sounds really really good. Okay. I should go eat now.

Scenes from a commute

I almost hit a wild turkey on my drive in to work this morning.

The sky was clear and bright, the day was already warm. It’s been very warm here lately, like we’ve bypassed spring and run straight into summer and I’m not really a fan. I spent far too long this morning trying to figure out what to wear, what would be office appropriate, weather appropriate and took into account the fact that the air conditioning over my desk wasn’t fully functional (it’s strange – if you round the corner near my desk, the humidity hits you – the air just doesn’t work there).

After my hurried rush around the house getting ready, getting in the car to drive to work was a moment of calm – a moment of calm because for that time I’m on the road I didn’t need to do laundry, pack lunches, find clothes, apply mascara, none of that. All I had to do was drive.

I was driving, the radio turned up to some crappy morning radio show. They do a lot of talking in the mornings and this morning they were talking about Lindsay Lohan’s parents and how apparently the Lohans, shining example of quality parenting, are now charging by the minute to talk to people. Nice. Also, how is this newsworthy?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a turkey scurry across the street.

Why did the turkey cross the road?

To test Sarah’s reaction time.

Then another turkey started its journey across. This one didn’t have a lot of room to spare like its buddy. This one required I slam on my brakes so as not to hit it.

You should never brake for anything smaller than a dog.

Is a turkey bigger or smaller than a dog? A turkey is pretty tall. If you hit a turkey can you throw it in the back of you car and take it home?

And within seconds the episode was over. Onward!

Stop to breathe in the sun rising. Cars whizzing past as I rolled down my window to snap a photograph. Realize that it’s not enough to watch the sun rise in my rear view mirror each day – that sometimes I need to stop and appreciate it. How beautiful. How brilliant and perfect and magical it is to see the sun rise.


A cup of coffee and merging on to the highway. At this point in my commute the highway is teeming with travelers, those commuting like me, and semis, so many semis. I know you need the trucking industry to deliver damn near everything, but while I commute, I don’t like them. Not quite fast enough to keep with the traffic. While passing a series of trucks, a woman in a Jaguar behind me in the left lane impatiently surveyed the traffic. She passed me on the right, giving me a rolled eye angry face and a flip of the middle finger… before immediately getting stuck behind the cars that I had been trailing, the cars that had prevented me from going faster. I chuckled. Her impatience, her little Nascar maneuver and yet she was no further ahead. A mile down the road I laughed even harder when a car purposely cut Jaguar McCrankyPants off and then slowed…way…down.

Miles later, I’m in my parking spot. Keys in hand, bags slung over shoulder. A chirp of the door lock as I exit my car and venture into the building.

Ready to start another day.

Thursday Ten: Wearing Flip Flops in March edition

1. Okay, I know, brace yourselves: I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER. I hate to be so cliche, but OH MY GOSH THIS WEATHER! It’s been in the 70s and sunny the past two days. I wore flip flops this evening. The Princess and I went out for ice cream cones after her doctor’s appointment this afternoon. It’s March! I so love this.

2. Took The Princess to the allergist today to rule out food allergies. I think at this point, it looks like she’s not allergic to anything to the point where anaphylactic shock is a possibility… but it’s definitely looking like she has some food intolerances. Now to get that figured out.

3. Patches was waiting in the sandbox when Pumpkin arrived to school on Tuesday. WHEW. He wasn’t even that smelly or soggy. Double whew.

4. Musically I’m late to the Lana Del Ray game. Loving “Diet Mountain Dew”.

5. Tomorrow, I’ll be photographing my niece for her newborn portraits. How excited am I? SO. EXCITED.

6. Flip flops in March means “Uh, whoa. Look at those feet. Might be time for a pedicure, hmmkay?” Seriously. I’ve been rocking the same teal polish for months. By “rocking” I mean it’s peeling and I think only three toenails have polish on them still. Man, I am so fancy.

7. I filled out my NCAA March Madness Brackets as I do every year. The ESPN app is going nutso with the push notifications – but so far, only one of my picks has lost, so booyah. Not bad for someone who doesn’t watch basketball.

8. I dropped a crock pot lid on my head last Friday. Some of you (Hi Kat) are just shaking your head, laughing and saying, “Oh Sarah, only you…” Well, yeah. I guess. It bled profusely (as head wounds are wont to do) and even though it wasn’t deep, it was kind of wide. I ended up getting my forehead glued together by Urgent Care and already, it is almost barely visible. I am such a klutz.

9. I’m VERY sick of election year already. Really, truly, terribly sick of it. And it’s only March.

10. I bought orange swirl roses this weekend. Have you ever seen something so funky? I had no idea roses could be so contemporary and fun and sassy. THESE are sassy roses.
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Missing: One Stuffed Dog, Probably Water Logged and Smelly

Pumpkin really loves dogs. She loves real dogs to the extent that she can rattle off extensive lists of dog breeds and facts. As an extension, she also likes stuffed dogs – so much so that she has somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy-billion of them (give or take a couple). When a gift-giving occasion approaches, she asks for stuffed dogs. When she has extra money to spend, she opts to buy stuffed dogs. There are stuffed dogs all over the house – but they’re what she loves. They all have names – she remembers them all.

As you would imagine, sometimes she takes the dogs with her. She does a good job in varying which dog she chooses – a while back, she had this method of closing her eyes, leaning back on her bed (where all eleventy billion stuffed dogs reside – really, there’s hardly any room for Pumpkin in there), and selecting the first dog she reaches. She’s not so choosy; she loves them all.

Sometimes the dogs go to school with her. Usually the dogs come home with her.

Yesterday, one didn’t.

Yesterday, she apparently left Patches in the sandbox during recess. When I got home, she was sitting with grandpa at the dining table making “Missing Puppy” signs to hang up around school. The signs noted that Patches was a “shnowzer” (sic), with blue eyes and a gray belly. In a six year old’s scrawl, Patches’ last known whereabouts were detailed, along with a plea to “return Patches as soon as possible.” Her earnestness and devotion to Patches gnawed at me. The Princess had even jumped in to help with the sign making process.

Grandpa headed home, we sat down to dinner, and outside the rain pummeled down. It was raining so hard and so furiously that the rain came down sideways. Inside, there were some waterworks as well, as Pumpkin started worrying about Patches outside in the rain in the sandbox. It seemed to ease her mind when I left a voice mail for the school, letting them know that we were on the lookout for a stuffed schnauzer. She became distracted, playing with her sister and carrying on with normal kid stuff until bedtime.

Around bedtime – when the second wave of tears hit – I realized that maybe, despite the rain I should have driven the girls to the school to see if Patches was still outside. That maybe I should not have been deterred by torrential sideways rains (or tornado watches) and just gone to look for her puppy. It hadn’t occurred to me earlier in the evening and by the time I was tucking kids in for the night, it was really too late to go stomping around a sandbox in the rainy night to find a stuffed dog.

And now today I have been thinking of Pumpkin and her dog all day. I have no idea if she found him yet or if she did not – and if she did, I can only imagine he is smelly and soggy and gross and will need a trip in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. If she can’t find him, I wonder if she will be content with her eleventy billion (minus one) other dogs, or if Patches somehow held a bigger place in her heart.

It’s weird what happens when you become a parent – when your children’s sadness becomes a weight in your heart. Sometimes stuff happens, sometimes toys get left in the rain. It will be a lesson to her, I’m sure – a lesson on taking care of her things and consequences for when she doesn’t. But in the meantime, her sad makes me sad. I’d never imagined that at 35, I’d spend hours of my day, thinking about the whereabouts of a stuffed animal. And somehow, despite the weirdness, it feels totally normal.


Thursday: Ten Centimeters* edition

See what I did there? This is not your average Thursday Ten post, mainly because it’s not my average Thursday. I became an aunt yesterday and I’ve truly got baby-brain right now, so I thought I’d change things up. I know, I know – some of y’all don’t like change… but I think you’ll be okay.

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Yesterday, with open arms and a heart even more open, I joined my sister and brother-in-law and multitudes of family members in welcoming a baby girl into the world. This baby, not even 24 hours old yet as of this writing, is already so intensely and amazingly loved by so many.

You know how we all anticipated her birth – how I left Nashville early so as not to miss the moment where we could first see her face and hold her in our arms. Even though she came several weeks after I arrived home from Nashville, standing in that delivery room made me more sure than ever that I had done the right thing by coming home. I can not imagine having missed that moment – I am forever changed by having been allowed to be in that room to witness her birth.

When my sister asked me months ago if I would be in the delivery room to take photos (of the baby, not her crotch – she was specific), I was honored. I remember reading her email, crying at my desk feeling blessed to have been granted this entry into such a life-changing moment for her and her husband. It wasn’t until I stood watching her give birth to my niece that I remembered how truly vulnerable the process of giving birth is – how primal it can be and how open you are (and not just physically!). Moments before my sister began to push, she was racked with nausea and helplessly vomited over and over into a bedpan held by my mother. Birth is like that – y’know? You’re just at the mercy of your body. Once you’re in it, you’re in it til the end – no matter what happens. It can be tough if you’re a private person.

She called me yesterday just before lunch to tell me she was in labor – and I all but sprinted out of the office. “It’s BABY DAY!” I whooped. I have been carrying a full camera bag with me everywhere for weeks, so I was ready. I arrived at the hospital and once she had a room, I was able to go in.

When you’re in the delivery room and you’re not the one in labor, there’s a whole lot of sitting around.

There’s also a lot of comforting, fetching ice chips, soothing a sweaty brow with a cool wet cloth, encouraging, hand holding, laughing, and yeah, sometimes swearing.

I’d like to think I kept my composure – I’m pretty decent in those situations. Get things done. Not a whole lot of emotion. But as I stood by my sister’s side as she got ready to push, my hands trembled as they held my camera and I wondered if I would even be able to take pictures with my hands trembling like that.

There was a full house in the waiting room – just ready for this baby girl to make her debut. And she did, calmly and without a cry at 7:19 p.m. weighing eight pounds, ten ounces. My sister held her daughter as my brother-in-law cut the cord and when the nurse whisked her off to take her vitals and to try to clear out the gunky lung stuff (that’s why that cry is so important!), I stayed by my niece’s side, taking photos, touching her soft baby hands, smiling and just feeling my world change.

It’s funny because I’ve birthed my two kids – I’ve been there – and I have my world transformed both times the second I met each of my daughters… I didn’t expect that to happen yesterday. I knew I’d fall in love with that baby, sure, but I didn’t know how much being granted entry into such a private moment would mean to me. How truly blessed and honored I felt to have been by my sister’s side through it all.

It was amazing.

It was absolutely amazing.

Thursday Ten: So is it in like a lion? edition

1. It’s March first. It’s been a mild winter and I don’t know if the whole “in like a lion, out like a lamb” thing applies – unless the lion part refers to the fact that winter – no matter what the temperature – is stupid, and yucky, and by the time we roll into April, we’ll be through the worst of it. I’m hoping. I could use a little more color outside. Like this flower.
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2. I haven’t bought any new music in the past week. Partly because my brain is a big pool of mush. What are you listening to? Any recommendations?

3. It’s official – though it may have been official last year or the year before (I’ll have to check my archives): American Idol, once they get past the whole audition process, has completely lost its appeal to me. I tried to watch last night but got so distracted by a performer’s bad dancing that I was baffled when the judges later gave her a standing ovation. Sure, fine, whatever – maybe she could sing, but WERE THEY NOT WATCHING HER?

4. One of my favorite things about a new month is turning a page in the calendar – literally. This month while I’m at work, my NYC calendar is now flipped to March’s page – a gorgeous view of the city from the Empire State Building. Love it.

5. There’s a lot of debate now with copyright issues and Pinterest – is it stopping you from pinning? Do you think they’ll change their terms of service? I know photographers have had a lot of back and forth debate about how they feel about it – seeing your work pinned and repinned without attribution is pretty much no fun – but to see that Pinterest’s TOS puts the burden of legal fees from any court shtuff on the user (even Pinterest’s fees!), well… Hmmm.

6. Craving a hot sandwich yesterday, I walked to a nearby restaurant that didn’t have what I wanted. When I said I wasn’t finding what I wanted, they immediately offered to make something customized just for me. I was pretty blown away. My sandwich was wonderful and now knowing how great they are there, I’ll go back. Can’t beat awesome service and staff.

7. (Clearly I’m hungry right now) One of the hardest things about no longer working from home is that meals are more often than not hastily thrown together and…boring. I need to start using my slow cooker more. I’m so sick of boring food.

8. Always with the camera. I love this shot that Lotus took in Nashville. I’m the one in turquoise.
Capturing Wishes #BD12PW

9. I just saw today that someone has been hired (hired? commissioned? contracted?) to write the sequel to Top Gun 2. Really. On the plus side, I guess the writer also wrote “The Town” (good movie) – on the downside: Top Gun 2? Why? I didn’t realize there was a need for that. Or a want for that. Unless they can find a way to bring Goose back, I’m not interested.

10. Nope, still no baby. Seriously wondering if she’s going to be all about making grand entrances her whole life. She’s got an impatient aunt waiting for her!