Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pet Peeves: What are yours?

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
I was at the office today and after two minute intervals of silence, this is what I would hear. Over, and over, and over again. I was going insane, as were the other girls at work. Turns out it was a computer battery backup that wouldn't shutt off.
The morning beeping gave me the idea for today's post, which is light and fun: little things that drive us absolutely insane. For this post, I would love to see your additions, so please comment below!

I Hate When...
-you wave or smile to someone and they don't return the gesture... You're life is not that bad.
-people drive in the rain, fog, dark, etc. without their headlights on... Hello, I can't see you!
-people chew with their mouths open
-people yell "Huh?!" when they didn't hear what you said
-another woman your age calls you (or your husband!) hun... Seriously?
-someone comes right out and asks you if you're pregnant... Rude much?
-someone cuts you off in traffic, then proceeds to give you the finger as if you've done something to them
-the person driving behind you tailgates you because the person in front of you is driving slow... I can only go as fast as the person in front of me, buddy!
-people say "Davit." There's a "D" at the end; not a "T."
-people ask you for your opinion, then contradict it. Why ask me?
-people interrupt you!
-you come inside sopping wet like a drowned rat and someone asks, "Is it raining?" No! I decided to jump in the pool, fully clothed, and carrying all of my groceries.
-people end their questions with "then?" Like, "Can I get you another beer, then?" When? I want my beer now, not "then."
-someone walks into a room, knows nothing about your conversation and asks, "Where was this?" Not only is it annoying, but rather rude.
-I worked as a cashier and people would hand me crumbled up bills... How hard is it for you to nicely hand me an unfolded dollar bill?
-people slam into you as they pass without saying "Excuse me."

...And the list continues!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weeping May Endure for a Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5

Everyone goes through a time--or times--in their life when they feel like nothing is going right, and that it may never get better again. We all feel alone sometimes, as if no one could possibly know what it is that we're going through. And we ask ourselves, "How will I ever be able to move on?"
But the truth is, life does go on, and so do we. No matter how hard the struggle, no matter how high the mountain, no matter how deep the waters of dispair, we always manage to get through it.
Why? Because God will provide. Because the Lord carries us when we're weak; He leads us along the path of goodness when we can no longer see the road; He lifts us up when the water is too deep to trudge.
When I was 19 years old, I got a phone call saying that my grandmother wasn't doing well, and that I should go see her as soon as I could. I had heard this many times before, so I didn't panic, but as my mother and I drove the 45 minutes to see my grandmother, I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a nervous breakdown when she dies."
When I walked into my grandmother's room and reality hit me, I fell a part. I knew that the Lord was going to call her home in just a few days. I didn't know how I was going to go on.
Up until that point, I had never lost anyone that close to me. But my grandmother and I had shared so many memories together, and I wasn't ready to let her go. But that would be selfish. My grandmother was suffering, and she had suffered for the past few years. So I went into her room and kneeled beside her bed and did the hardest thing I have ever had to do: I said goodbye.
I told her it was okay to go home, because I knew that she was tired. I asked her to watch over me once she was in Heaven. I apologized for times I had dissapointed her and for times that I wasn't there for her. I told her I loved her, I kissed her and told her for the last time that it was okay to go home.
My grandmother passed away two days later and I was a complete mess. My mom came to my apartment and sat with me until I fell asleep, reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. I didn't believe her. How would everything be okay? My grandmother was no longer a car ride away. There were so many things I had or hadn't done and now it was too late.
But the hands on the clock continued to tick by. I cried every day for a few months. I'd open up the refrigerator door and fall to pieces, remembering my grandmother as an amazing baker, whose home was always full of goodies. Why hadn't I asked her to share her recipes with me while she still could?
Thanksgiving came and I ruined the pumpkin roll. I called my mom, barely able to speak between tears. "It's just not the same as hers," I cried.
Christmas came and went, as did my college graduation. I was the first one in her family to attend and graduate college, and it hurt that she couldn't be there with me.
But then I stopped and thought, "She is here with me. She's always with me."
As time marched on, I cried less often and I began to remember my grandmother with a smile rather than tears. I still miss her and I wish my son could have met her, but I know she was with him when God sent him to grow in my belly.
I know she's watching over my family and I, that she's no longer in any type of worldly pain, and that one day, I will be with her again. And there she'll be, waiting for me with her delicious pumpkin roll and rice pudding.
So when times are tough and it seems as though life is falling a part, just remember that "This too shall pass." Although things very well may get worse before they get better, they will get better. Because "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Go Crazy or You'll Go Crazy

So much to do, so little time. Isn't that the story of everyone's lives? It's so hard to fit everything into your schedule as it is, let alone setting time aside for yourself. But we have to or we'll go crazy.
I believe it was Ben Franklin who said, "Why put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today?"
To that I say this: Why put having a glass of wine while sitting on the porch off until tomorrow? Or playing Duck, Duck, Goose in the grass with your kids? Or walking hand in hand along the beach with your soul mate? Drinking tea and talking with your mother? Asking your grandpa about the "good ol' days?"
You never know what life is going to throw at you next, so I say eat your dessert first. Save your sick days for when you're feeling your best. Jump in head first while everyone else is simply dipping their feet in the water. And go crazy every once in a while, because if you don't, you really will go crazy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Take in the Moment, Make it a Memory

Milestones and memories. That's what life is made of, isn't it? We reach points in our lives that remind us we're growing older, and then those moments become memories and we do just that: grow older. And as we do, so do our children.
My husband, Kevin, and I took our 16-month-old son, Sebastian, for his first hair cut today. It was one of those moments much like the first time he rolled over, stood up on his own, took his first step.
Milestones like a first haircut really make me stop to appreciate the moment, because that's all we ever have. I take it all in and think, "Wow, time really does fly by."
I remember the day I knew I was going to be a mom; the day I heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time; the day I saw my "little bean"--as I always called him--growing in my belly. And then there he was, laying in my arms for the very first time.
Sixteen months later, my little bean is a growing like a weed. He's doing something new every day, and he always reminds me to soak up every moment, every toothy grin, every high-pitched giggle, every sticky grasp.
Yes, I've heard it all before... "You're a baby yet yourself..." "Wait 'til you're my age..." "Wait 'til he's in college..."
Yes, I am still young, and my son is just reaching his toddler years. But I won't be young forever, and neither will he. I'm not going to take these moments for granted. I refuse to let them slip by without fusing them in my mind, creating a filmstrip of memories to play over and over in years to come.
I am 22 years old. But I was 16 months old once, and my mother was 22. Before I know it, my son will be 22 and I will once again say to myself, "Time really does fly by."
So hold on to every moment God gives you, because time slips through our fingers before we even realize that our children have grown another year older.
Crawl around on the floor with them and let them climb on your back as if you're a mountain. Let them make you laugh until tears run down your face and your tummy sprouts that six pack you've always wanted. Read them three stories at bed time, maybe four if you just can't say no to those puppy-dog eyes. And once they fall asleep, sneek into their rooms and watch them dream. Because before you know it, they'll be chasing those very same dreams.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mac & Cheese Shortage Sends Party Guests Into Temper Tantrum

Macaroni and cheese. Who doesn't love it? It's the ultimate comfort food here in America, because it's not only delicious, but it's also full of cheese and the beloved carbohydrate. Macaroni and cheese has always been my favorite food. However, I don't think I'd start an argument with a caterer over it...
I was helping a friend of mine--we'll call her Sue--cater an event recently, and I was very excited to do so. Not only do I enjoy when I am given the opportunity to help cater events with her, but this event seemed like it was going to be full of fun, laid back people like Sue and myself.
Here's a little background...
When we cater an event, we have a plan in mind to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Not only is it our job to feed the guests, but it's also our job to keep them happy. Therefore, we do our absolute best to keep the buffet table full of every item at all times.
At the particular event we catered, there were seven items that needed to be heated. With a double buffet line, we knew we had to stay on top of things because we could run out of something twice as quickly. Therefore, the buffet was full of 10 to 15 pounds of every item, with another 10 pounds of each ready in the warmers in order to refill the buffet table. Once we filled or replaced something, there was more room in the warmer to heat another five or 10 pounds, which takes about 10 to fifteen minutes.
One of the side dishes included in this buffet was macaroni and cheese: every one's favorite food. Just minutes after the guests began helping themselves to the buffet, the macaroni and cheese was dwindling quickly. We grabbed the heated 10 pounds and filled the buffet tray before the last scoop was taken.
What I'm going to say next, however unbelievable, is the absolute truth. Less than five minutes after refilling the macaroni and cheese, it was gone. Except for a few forsaken noodles and unreachable cheddar cheese, the pan was empty.
Five minutes was not enough time for the second 10 pound batch of macaroni to be heated. So I politely told the guests that unfortunately, the macaroni and cheese would not be ready for another five or 10 minutes.
What did they do? They huffed and puffed, and refused to stand to the side or sit down so that the other guests behind them could continue to help themselves to dinner.
After five minutes, the macaroni and cheese wasn't quite hot enough, so I asked those holding up the line to have a seat while they waited so that others could help themselves to the buffet. They groaned, rolled their eyes and made rude comments as they made their way to their seats. Still, others refused to move.
With nothing left to do but wait, we checked on the other trays of food and made sure they were full, reassuring everyone that the macaroni and cheese was still going to make it's second appearance in its place on the buffet table.
Just as the holy noodles were being taken out of the warmer, I noticed a group of people waiting at the place where the empty tray was.
"Where's the mac and cheese?" "There's still not mac and cheese?" "What are they doing about the mac and cheese?"
Those who had sat down were back, and they were unhappy that they had not yet received their over abundance of carbohydrates in less than eight life-changing minutes.
As Sue rushed to the buffet line, hot macaroni and cheese in hand, one woman said, "I'm waiting for her to bring me my mac and cheese."
Sue kept a smile plastered on her face and quietly made her way back to the prep station without saying a word. For this I give her credit, because I'm not sure I would have been able to keep my cool.
About 20 minutes after the buffet line initially began, 35 pounds of macaroni and cheese had been devoured. The only problem: there wasn't any left, yet not every guest had made their way through the line. There we stood, explaining that this had never happened before, as Sue always makes more than enough food to serve the number of guests. Apparently, the host didn't realize how much her family and friends loved macaroni and cheese.
As the last few stragglers made their way through the buffet line, we looked around at the tables closest to us and saw the problem. At least nine unattended plates were piled to the sky with macaroni and cheese and nothing else. Why? Because most people, especially children, took too much of the sacred noodles and cheese and couldn't finish it. Once we started clearing plates, that little number nine rose, and rose, and rose.
What did people have to say after dinner?
"The mac and cheese was phenomenal!" "I heard your mac and cheese was great; it's a shame I didn't get to try any." "Every one's raving about the mac and cheese!"
My response to them was simple: "You might want to take a look around you and thank those who took enough to feed an army, only to go ahead and waste it without a second thought to those who didn't get any to begin with."
The moral of the story is this: Don't take more food than you know you can eat! How many of us can hear our parents, as clearly as if it were yesterday, saying "You'll eat everything you take or you'll eat it for breakfast!"
Maybe Sue should have a banner made with that slogan for her next event...
Also, don't be so inconsiderate and greedy, glutton! The next guy in line loves macaroni and cheese just as much as you do, so think of how he'd feel if he saw you scoop an eight pound pile onto your plate without leaving any for him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Name is Sarah and I'm Addicted to Smoothies

My new obsession: making smoothies.
It all started when I noticed that my cousin had left a bag of frozen strawberries in my freezer. I thought, "What in the world am I going to do with frozen strawberries?"
It was the middle of the afternoon, so I knew I'd better not start making daiquiris. Instead, I replaced the rum with apple juice, used the frozen strawberries rather than daiquiri mix, and added some ice cubes. Not quite a smoothie, but it was a nice strawberry apple icey!
That little concoction sent me straight to the Internet to look up the basic ingredients of a strawberry smoothie. I found an easy recipe, altered it a bit, and I've made it almost every day since then; for breakfast, a mid-day snack for my son and I, or dessert for me and my husband. A few times, I chose to use frozen raspberries rather than strawberries, and I loved it just as much!
On Saturday, I had my parents over for breakfast and I made enough smoothies to fill a cup for the entire neighborhood. After a huge breakfast of blueberry and strawberry waffles, eggs and bacon, none of us had room for an over-sized smoothie. So I made smoothie pops! I simply poured the smoothie mixture into an ice tray, cut plastic straws into three pieces and stuck one in each "smoothie cube." Because the mixture is thick, the straw stayed in place on their own. I threw them in the freezer and we enjoyed a couple frozen treats tonight after dinner.
On Sunday, I had a few things to pick up at the store, and I found a smoothie recipe book for only $4. As a major clearance shopper and a new smoothie lover, I knew this was an offer I couldn't refuse!
I was flipping through the pages today and sent my husband out for a few ingredients. Unfortunately, every bunch of bananas at the grocery store was way-too-unripe green, so I didn't get to try any new recipes. But tomorrow's another day!
For now, I'd like to share this simple smoothie recipe, as it's one that can be altered to anyone's personal tastes; replace or add fruit, leave out the sugar (or add more!) or use flavored yogurt. Happy smoothie making!

Sarah's Simple Strawberry Smoothie
1/2 C milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 heaping handful frozen strawberries
3 T white sugar
1 t vanilla
6 ice cubes
>>Combine ingredients in blender, blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surprise: Family and Friends are More Important than Money

Autumn may not have its official start until September 23, but Eastern Pennsylvania had a gorgeous start to the fall season this weekend. Crisp, cool temperatures and light breezes made this weekend perfect sweater weather, providing us all with a great break from the summer heat.
I took advantage of the beautiful day by playing outside in our yard with my 16-month-old son, Sebastian. It was so funny watching him climb up the ladder on his tiny plastic jungle gym and quickly glide down the slide face first, time and time again. When he'd tumble into the grass, our Husky puppy, Laika, would run over and nuzzle her nose into his belly, causing him to break into laughter that was nothing short of contagious.
And so this is life, and these are the moments I live for. The simple pleasures of hearing my son's laughter and watching him tumble to the ground, only to rush back to his feet and take off again. That is happiness.
Sure, it would be wonderful to have an endless amount of money, to travel the world, to go on frequent shopping sprees. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what countries you've been to, if your kitchen is decked in vinyl or marble, or how many pairs of shoes you own. At the end of the day, what matters is your family, your friends, and the joy that you bring to one another.
People often say that you need to enjoy every moment you're blessed with, because you never know when you're going to take your last breath. However, some think that enjoying your life is strictly about you, but I don't think that's the case at all.
If my time on Earth came to and end tomorrow, it wouldn't matter if I had the chance to go sky diving or visit Paris. What would matter is what I left behind.
Would my husband know how much I loved him? Would my son be filled with fond memories to last him a lifetime? Would my friends remember me as the one they could call for anything, day or night?
So as you go on living your life, remember to enjoy the little things: your child's high-pitched laughter, your grandmother's Thanksgiving pumpkin roll, your spouse's knowing just when to say something corny to make you laugh. And remember to give. Give precious moments to those around you, for that's what you will leave behind when your gone.

Friday, September 16, 2011

If You Judge Everyone, You'll Love No One

Judgements prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances. ~Wayne W. Dyer

The tragic events that occured on September 11, 2001 changed the United States and the world drastically. Not only did Americans come together and develop a tremendous amount of patriotism, but many also formed an overwhelming distrust and, for some, hatred toward Muslims.
Ten years later, I was sitting next to my grandfather watching TV specials about the anniversary of 9/11. I was shocked when he started talking about Muslims ruining our country and how we shouldn't allow them to continue coming into the U.S.
So many thoughts began to flood my mind... "Does he even realize that Muslims are believers in Islam; that they're not a nationality?" "Are people really still thinking this way 10 years later?" "Why doesn't he realize that he's being prejudice and steretyping?"
On September 11, a group of Muslims did attack the U.S. A group of Muslims; not every Muslim on the face of the planet. However, if we throw every Muslim under the heading "Terrorists," we must do the same with every person or group of people who have ever done something terrible.
Prior to the Civil War, many American plantation owners were also the owners of African American slaves. Does this mean that all caucasions are racist toward African Americans?
Adolf Hitler, an Austrian-born German, ordered the deaths of an estimated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Does this mean all Austrian-born Germans are also murderers of Jews?
Thirty two people were murdered on April 16, 2007 by Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Cho was a 23-year-old South Korean native. Does this mean that all South Korean's plan to massacre college students?
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a U.S. Army veteran, detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The bomb killed 167 people and injured more than 650 others. That must mean that all U.S. Army veterans are also murderers, right?
It doesn't feel good when the finger is pointed back at you, does it? Especially when you're an innocent citizen, associated with something tragic simply because you are the same religion as a terrorist or same ethnicity as a mass murder.
There is so much hatred in this world, and if we sit down and start hating other groups of people because of the events committed by a single person associated with them, who will we love? Our mothers? But mothers in this world have killed their children. Our children? Every person who has ever done something awful was someone's child.
When are we going to open our eyes and see that anger and hatred amounts to nothing more than anger and hatred? We need to love each other for who they are, instead of hating them for who someone else was. We need to stop assuming that all Muslims are terrorists; that all caucasians are racists; that all Germans are anti-Semitics.
We need to unite as one and realize that we are all human beings, therefore making us one, yet we are all individuals, thus setting us a part.

If you judge people you have no time to love them. ~Mother Teresa

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Need a Minute to Yourself? Stop and Let Me Through!

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. ~Dr. Seuss

Have you ever been stopped in traffic, waiting for a long line of cars to pass so you can turn left? I was sitting behind a car today on my way home from work that had its blinker on, waiting to turn left into a gas station. Less than 50 feet behind me was a traffic light, which just so happened to be red at the time. Meanwhile, every car that was headed toward that light just kept on driving; no one would stop and allow the car in front of me to make its turn into the gas station.
Were they all in that much of a hurry to drive 30 feet just so they could step on their brakes and sit for two minutes at a red light? If they all knew they were going to have to wait anyway, why couldn't one person stop, wave their hand or flash their lights, and take less than 30 seconds to allow the car in front of them to make its turn?
After the light behind me had turned green, the car in front of me was able to turn left once their was a break in oncoming traffic. As I drove away, I got to thinking about how much everyone rushes through things, many times to get nowhere. Meanwhile, do we stop to think about those we pass by? Do we really think about all of the things that we--and others--may be missing out on, simply because we're in a hurry to get to the grocery store and pick up a gallon of milk?
As I headed over the bridge down the street from my house, I noticed that my gas gauge was on 'E.' And I thought, "What if the person in front of me, waiting patiently to turn, was also on 'E?' What if their car was running on fumes, ready to stall at any moment? Perhaps it wasn't, but what if it were? What if the people who passed that car were in that situation? Wouldn't they want someone to stop and allow them to turn?
From this one minute situation I was in while sitting behind a stopped car, I thought of two things: how we all rush through life without slowing down to enjoy it, and how we're all too busy thinking of ourselves to stop and consider the situation of another.
Wouldn't life be so much better for everyone if we all stopped rushing and took the time to notice the flower growing in the crack on the sidewalk? To gaze up at the sky and search for pictures in the clouds? To realize that we are not the only ones who have deadlines to meet and groceries to get?
So let's slow down and enjoy the moment. Let's be thankful when we have to stop at a red light; aren't we always complaining that we want a minute to ourselves?
And let's think of others before ourselves. If you don't think of me when I'm in need, then who's going to be there for you when you need someone?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Do You do for YOU?

"I can't see you... I'm losing my vision."
Those were the panicked words that a friend of mine, Marisa, managed to stutter one day while I was visiting with her. Knowing that she is a victim of Stargardt's Disease, I was immediately worried, and my heart was breaking. I knew this meant that Marisa could be going blind.
After visiting with the doctor, Marisa was informed that she may have had a mini stroke. The doctor asked her if she was under any stress and Marisa answered honestly; she was under a tremendous amount of stress.
Marisa told me about her visit a few days later and said, "My doctor told me that I need to take an hour every day to do something for me, even if it's simply taking a walk."
I agreed, "Well you have to, Marisa."
She asked, "What do you do for you?"
My response? "...Nothing."
Nothing. Isn't that what many of us do for ourselves? We get up and get ready for work; get the kids dressed and take them to the sitter or send them to school; spill our coffee on ourselves as we speed to the office; put our eight hours (sometimes more) in; pick up the kids; cook dinner; wash the dishes; do the laundry; walk the dog; take out the trash; give the kids a bath; clean the house...
So when do we really have the time to take an hour out of our busy schedules for ourselves? It may seem like we don't, but we do; we just don't allow ourselves to sit down for an hour and read a book or take a drive in the country.
There are 24 hours in a day, and we all seem to shove as many things as we can into them, without any regards to ourselves. But one day it all catches up with us, doesn't it?
For Marisa, her wake up call was having a possible stroke. Now, Marisa goes to the gym for an hour a day and accomplishes so much: she relieves stress, renews her energy level, and feels good mentally, emotionally and physically. For others, wake up calls come to too late, when they're 80 years old and realize that they spent all of their time making a life for themselves that they forgot to enjoy their family and friends, the beauty of a sunset, the smell of baked apple pie.
So rather than rushing through everything and planning meeting on top of errand on top of chore, we need to slow down, relax, and yes, "smell the roses." If we can stay at work for an extra three or four hours, surely we can find an hour a day to sit on the porch and drink tea or go for a walk at the park.
So what do I do for me? Recently, lots of things. I realized that life is for living, and to live, you must love. So I am doing all of the things I love to do, sometimes for more than an hour a day.
I come home from work and crawl around on the floor with my 16-month-old son. I hop in bed and read a good book or do logic puzzles. I watch movies and drink homemade strawberry smoothies with my husband. I drink wine with my girlfriends. I write. I love. I live.
Today in particular, I took an hour to myself and had my first massage. And believe me when I say, it was amazing. Hot towels; a soft, warm bed; candle light; quiet music... Incredibly relaxing. How nice it would be to indulge in a massage every day for an hour!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hibernation is Over... I'm Back!

I've loved writing since I can remember. Writing is in my soul and I enjoy sharing my words with others. Recently however, that part of me has gone into hibernation.
Between work, chasing my 16-month-old son around, walking the dog, cooking dinner, switching laundry (all working parents know I could go on forever)... I haven't been able to find the time to sit down and do what I love to do: write.
But the wait is over, and the writer within me is emerging from her long winter's nap! So please accept my apologies for not writing in months and join me once again at 56 Sarah Street, where I promise to give you "Something to Relate To!"
PS: I finally submitted one of my poems for publication! :)