Friday, August 30, 2013

So we meet again, Friday.

What a week. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. And we've yet to begin our 6a school year wake-up call. Although I love this time with the boys, and the opportunity to get appointments and errands out of the way before time gets more crunched, I have to admit that I crave a schedule. Knowing what I'm doing and when is nice, and replaces the rather scattered unpredictability that comes with summer. We all have to go back to real life and that's not all bad.

I have the first week of my final undergrad class under my belt. My professor started throwing around terms like thermodynamics and functional groups and chirality on Wednesday. Some very unattractive sweating began. I thought those days were over and yet organic chemistry has come back to haunt me. Good lord. Thankfully it's my sole focus. You can do this, Sarah. Or so I tell myself.


1// It was a beautiful, cool August afternoon. Until the skies opened up about a block and a half before I reached my car. Without an umbrella in sight. Book bag held over my head, soaked from head to toe, I was doing a half run. I've seen wet rats in the NYC subway system with more grace. This is the view from my windshield as I dried off and waited it out. 2// I only want to eat one breakfast for the rest of my life: scrambled eggs with soyrizo. I have had it many times before, but the addition of corn tortillas perfected the recipe. On this particular day, I sat on our back deck and ate it in solitude while enjoying the scenery. 3// I made my return to CrossFit after almost 2 months. I had written it off, actually, but an email from the owner prompted me to come back. I was terrified walking in Wednesday evening. Lo and behold, I was glad to be back; finding that I hadn't lost much footing strength-wise. Today, however, I'm in pain. So. much. pain. I literally creak with every step. 4// My budding photographer. This kid is a natural at so many things. It's amazing. He borrowed my camera at the orchard and snapped some great shots that didn't need even the tiniest bit of editing. The next to last photo in this post? The one where Mario and I are holding a bag of apples? All him. 5// Books. Oh, how I've missed them. I crossed a couple off my to-read list over the summer, but now I can't get enough. I take photos of books that strike my fancy to remember for later and have a long list on my phone. Last night I started The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Although we are cutting back financially, and I've already packed up several boxes of books we'd like to keep, I currently have a weakness for picking up new books when I come across them. I want mooore.

Today we meet with our friend who happens to sell Hondas. He sold me my current car last year. I thought I'd be passing it down to Jared years from now because we were in it for the long haul (I drove our last car for 8 years . . . and Mario drove it over two years before that). But it's not working for me. I have never been able to find a comfortable position in the seat. As we were stuck in big city traffic this summer, moving forward a foot at a time, all I could think was I cannot drive a stick shift in this. I'll lose my mind. I feel terrible. I'm not the kind of girl that trades in her car every year! (Not that there is anything wrong with that . . . it's just not where we are in life and I tend to develop attachment to things like cars and have trouble letting go.) I feel like I've wasted our money and our time. But it's not working. So I have to let myself off the hook. Car shopping begins at noon.

I threw out the idea of getting away this weekend and Mario was quickly on board. This week has been full of discouragement, so it will be nice to seek out the ocean and some family time. We are going to pack up the kiddo and the dog and head out for a couple days. Time to press the reset button. 

Enjoy your weekend!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Where's a donut truck when I need one?

I started writing a post about slowing down yesterday. Today I deleted half of it and wrote another paragraph. Now I have completely forgotten what else I was going to say. So it sits unfinished. I promise to make it riveting when inspiration returns. This is surely a symptom of an overburdened mind. I'm guessing so is the fact that I keep walking into rooms and opening closets then completely forgetting what I was looking for or planning to do. Or the fact that I was sure I shaved my legs but obviously did not. I'm starting to resemble a yeti. And not the cute one from the old Rudolph movie.

Mario and I received bummer news about our house yesterday. Things were discouraging, but still up in the air. A shred of optimism remained, if you will. Now we have resolution. It is not what we wanted to hear, by any stretch of the imagination, but we are trying to look at the bright side and keep our chins up. Our plans to move next summer haven't changed; we are simply reeling a bit. A little vague, I know, but that's all I want to say about that. At this juncture, anyway. More emotional processing must be done. Years from now this hurdle will merely be another blip on our radar. At least we know what we are facing and can therefore prepare ourselves. Knowledge is power, right?

Instead of dwelling, and in order to give myself a happy distraction, I've decided to post some photos from our trip to Portland. Boy can we see ourselves there. Our lovely friend, Troy, was the best darn tour guide there ever was. And because he knows us well, lunch on the food truck block was our first stop.











After lunch we walked our way through downtown. I even spent a good chunk of change on a pair of Keen shoes whose cuteness was hotly debated among my Facebook and Instagram friends. I maintain that they are the bee's knees. If those shoes aren't proof I belong in the Pacific Northwest, I don't know what is.















It was the best kind of day. I can't wait to make this area our home.

I do want to say one more thing: grief is necessary. Although we didn't suffer the loss of a loved one, we did suffer a loss of sorts. At first I rationalized. Then I got mad and wanted to make our old realtor pay for his, well, sucky-ness. Today, I'm sad. It's not pleasant to feel wretched, but I've learned so much about myself, Mario, and my true desires. Good, insightful things. I am learning valuable lessons for the future. I've always been one to persevere in the face of adversity, but evidence of this skill is essential to maintaining it. My boys are happy. We are together and healthy. We are not ruined. We are merely transitioning to the next stage of our lives in an expected way. Unpleasant? A bit. But boy will achieving our end goal be gratifying. Because we fought for it.

Sweet dreams.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just peachy.

Friday was spent back-to-school and we-need-to-stage-our-house shopping. We hit every store and crossed things off our list with the utmost efficiency . . . like consumer soldiers. We pulled into our driveway as Friday was almost turning into Saturday. 

We were relieved to have so many things done and out of the way. Making the 90 minute trek to the nearest mall, Costco, etc. on Friday was a good choice. The stores were not yet crowded with weekend shoppers and the rest of our weekend felt long. Mario and I kept thinking Saturday was Sunday and got a nice surprise at the realization that we had a whole other weekend day ahead of us.

The first half of Saturday was spent cleaning out Mario's office, which was no easy feat. After making a big dent, we decided to head out for a family activity. On the way, we hauled what felt like fifty bags of trash and recycling to the dump. Have I mentioned that I will not miss the lack of trash removal service? That is definitely one perk of civilization. On the bright side, our house has so much more breathing room without all the stuff.

One of our favorite orchards advertised an overabundance of pick-your-own peaches. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon. As luck would have it, one of our favorite apple varieties, Ginger Gold, was also ready. We walked through acres of trees, took in a beautiful view of the Vermont mountains from our hillside perch, and sampled the wares. The pumpkin patch, full of growing gourds, reminded me that my favorite season is fast approaching. 


















 By Sunday we were exhausted . . . but in a we accomplished a lot way. A satisfying kind of tiredness. The kind that comes with a feeling of forward progress.

How was your weekend?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

It's no use saying, "We are doing our best."

 You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

Winston Churchill

We have a lot on our plate for today. I have a list, organized by store, sitting on the edge of my desk. I have a wad of coupons carefully compiled and waiting to save us a bit of dough. My husband, however, is taking his sweet time getting out the door. What better time to write a blog post? (Investing my time in something stimulating will stave off annoyance at his snail-like ways.)

There are a few things I'm treasuring right now:


1// Time with my favorite young man. Oh, I love that kid. He has been patient and so incredibly helpful while I pack up the house. We spent more time in his room boxing up knick-knacks and stowing away some of his Legos. He didn't bat an eye or complain once.

Last week we went to the new Percy Jackson movie together and had a great time. I didn't even mind that it was in 3D.

Yesterday, while grabbing a few things at Target, he turned down the opportunity to hang out in the toy section while I scoped out bathroom rugs. I'd rather hang out with you, Mom. I literally melted into a puddle on the spot. All the worries and cares that normally seem huge are quite miniscule while spending time with him. He's all that matters.

2// A new found blog has my heart going pitter-patter. I read about the curator of the site in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living, a grocery store line impulse buy. She photographs one object (or a small collection of objects) found in nature every day. It's simple and beautiful.

3// As I pack up the house a bit, rearrange, and clean, I often enjoy background noise. Earlier this week I discovered the show Castle. It's lighthearted and fun, and the vast majority of the episodes are appropriate for Kiddo. Mario watched an episode with us and caught the bug, so now we are having mini Castle marathons thanks to reruns. Mario and I often watch Law and Order before bed, but after years of watching our DVR is full of episodes we've already seen. It's nice to have 5 seasons of unwatched episodes ahead of us.


4// Our master bath is painted in a light grey and came with a buttery yellow sink. Our bedroom is a lovely yellow as well. Our realtor suggested tying it all together by adding yellow accents in the bathroom when the time comes to stage it for potential buyers. I have never really gone gaga for chevron, but I fell in love with the "sun eclipse" line at Target. (The photo hardly does it justice color-wise . . . it's actually quite vibrant.) It captures all the shades of grey and yellow between the two rooms perfectly. We snagged a bath rug and a set of towels. We haven't purchased new towels in 7+ years, so it was long overdue. Two birds, one stone.

5// I first heard this song in the background of an ad for a new show and it immediately caught my attention. It's hauntingly beautiful and has been on repeat in my head for days.


Knocking so many things off my ever-revolving list has me feeling optimistic. My class starts on Monday but, as I mentioned before, will only take up four hours per week of class time. This gives me plenty of room to study for the upcoming GREs and to continue with the work on our house. I hope a job is in my near future, but for now I'm enjoying the lack of how am I going to balance everything?! stress that usually comes at the start of a semester. I'm coming back as a college grad with one remaining grad school prerequisite to get under my belt. That's exciting! When the job thing is accomplished, I'll work on navigating the logistics of after school care, studying, etc. Until then . . . one thing at a time.

Linking up:


Loving Lately photo H54Fbutton-1_zpsa7aaa665.png

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The day I said goodbye to Facebook (again).


Monday morning I closed my Facebook account. Although I chickened out and clicked the This is temporary. I'll be back. option, I certainly hope it is anything but temporary.

I have always had a love-hate relationship (mostly the latter, actually) with the social media website. It feels very shallow and one-sided to me. There lacks a depth to the "friendships" and the interactions that take place within its walls. You can google types of Facebook users and get a variety of hilarious, yet totally accurate descriptions. Most of us have at least one of each. Only, I wasn't finding these traits so funny in real life. The FHML with no explanation, prompting dozens of oh no! what's wroooong? responses is just plain obnoxious. There. I said it. I could go on, but I'm guessing you already know what I'm talking about. (And yes, the first time I saw FHML I had to google it. I still don't speak text message.)

In the past I have always done one of two things: gotten completely fed up and closed my account (my first FB hiatus lasted a whole year), or just ignored it. I remove it from my drop down history and pretend it doesn't exist.

The problem lies in the fact that my only connection to certain friends and extended family is through social media. By deleting my account, I delete an entire relationship. But really, was it a relationship to begin with? Sure, I'd love to stay in touch with my dear friend from high school. We have history. She now has a family and I like to know she's doing well. She doesn't play games or get dramatic. She simply posts pics of her kiddos and husband and their various adventures. But to say that we are friends is a bit of a stretch. I've never met her kids and we will probably never cross paths outside of the internet. Is it better to hang onto that shred of a connection or let it go? Does keeping these rather vapid relationships in some way hold me back from forming new, more rewarding ones?

Or what about that group of girls that were a bit mean and gossipy at my old job? Some were my closest friends, others were, well, not. They appear to have formed a tight social circle and dropped the drama . . . after I left. That should be ancient history! And yet Facebook brings back a bit of a sore spot when I see them organizing a girls' night.

Overall I'd say I'm indifferent to Facebook. Five years ago I farmed and Farkle'd. Now it simply serves as a thin string tying me to people from my distant past; and people in my current life that I seldom see despite living within miles of each other.

So what prompted this recent shutdown and resolve to never turn back? Well, again it wasn't just one thing. First, I find that I begin to visit Facebook during times of high anxiety. Last week I had a lot on my emotional plate. The house, post-vacation readjustment . . . the list goes on. Instead of tackling my worries and overwhelming to-do list, I checked my news feed 50 times per day. I stalked a little. Nothing captured my attention, nor did I learn anything new and profound about anyone; it just gave me a reason to avoid life. Let me tell you, it felt pretty empty. Perhaps I was looking for a human connection where their simply wasn't one to find. Nothing meaningful, anyway.

Second, I got burned last week. I have a relative that lives in the Pacific Northwest. I had mentioned we'd be in the area months ago and said I'd reach out when we got there. Only, as often happens, things didn't follow the exact trajectory we'd hoped. I simply couldn't fit in a visit. Not wanting them to feel bad or ignored, I reached out via Facebook message. I apologized and explained. Coincidentally, Mario and I had decided to move to the Portland area just hours before. I also revealed that in the message and said that we could make up for the missed visit in the future. I never received a response to my rather heartfelt message. Oh well. Two days later I got a text from another relative asking if it was true we were moving. I'm quite close to this person and hadn't had a chance to tell her that I wouldn't be applying to the school in her area. I was pissed. My attempt to reach out had apparently made me fodder for gossip. And I felt the need to call and apologize to a dear relative I love and would never want to hurt or leave out of the loop. And now I harbor a bit of resentment toward a person I am related to but have yet to develop a solid relationship with. Perhaps being Facebook "friends" in the first place was a poor choice. We probably should have just exchanged emails and phone numbers.

The sad thing is, I wasn't totally surprised. Although completely turned off by the whole ordeal (I avoid drama and gossip like the plague at this point in my life), wasn't I opening myself up for it? Facebook, like many social media sites, creates an environment that makes it easy to behave in ways we wouldn't otherwise. Although less anonymous than other sites, it still allows the world to see one facet of our existence. And even that little glimpse can be molded in a way that makes a person feel better about x, y or z. We can present whatever front we desire to our "friends". I am all about honesty. I'm an imperfect mother, wife, and student. My house doesn't get dusted unless company is coming. My legs are super hairy right now. Other women can relate to imperfection and appreciate it the way I do; often because it's part of what makes life great.

It seems like Facebook carries one extreme or the other:
the everythingisperfectmykidsareperfectmyhusbandisperfectwehavesomuchmoneyandmylifeissomuchbetterthanyours group or the nothingevergoesrightitiseveryoneelsesfaultican'thandleanysortofadversityionlypostaboutbadthings group. Very few people fall in between. (I do.)

A big part of why we are moving is the lack of interpersonal relationships we've developed since living here. The past 6 years have been our loneliest. We are friendly, social people who love to interact. New England culture doesn't seem to nurture and support people like us. We have recently become friends with some of the parents from Jared's school, but we miss the friendliness of the west. We want real relationships like we've had in the past. We can still, all these years later, walk up to our neighbor's house in St. Louis, sit on their kitchen counter, and talk over a cup of coffee. Like we never left. I crave real relationships, and to be honest, I'd rather go without than have an empty, shallow internet-dictated connection to another person. Because quite frankly, a real friendship takes more than 90 characters to maintain.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;

an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchhill


We are in a really lovely period of time right now. Summer is winding to a close, and we've enjoyed the heck out of it, but we still have a couple weeks until Kiddo heads back to school. I begin my lone and final class next Monday, but it will only consume 4 of my waking hours (plus study time). The air has shifted and, knock on wood, we haven't experienced anything but mild days and cool nights. One of my favorite patches of land not far from our home has started to display the telltale colors of the changing seasons. Soon, the whole field will look like it's on fire.

Kiddo is a late sleeper. Mario is in Boston all week. I wake up, step out onto our deck and feel the sun on my face for a moment, pour myself a cup of joe, and catch up on my favorite blogs. Last week I had a similar arrangement, but woke up with an immediate to-do list attacking my consciousness. This week is different. My motivation to perfect our house is high. In some ways, I'm actually excited to wrap up those little tasks that have been perpetually on our home improvement list. The blow of discouraging news has softened considerably. I'm able to look at what must be done with a quiet calm and a one thing at a time mentality. To not enjoy the peace that comes during these last remaining weeks of summer would be a travesty. 

I am also using our impending move and home listing to change the aesthetic of our future home. No more hodge podge picture frames. As photos come off the wall, they are transplanted into new black or white frames before being carefully tucked away. Over the past months, when Michael's has a really good sale on frames, I stock up on sizes I need. Now they are being put to use. In some ways it's sad they won't be displayed for a long while, but I like to imagine how great it will feel to have everything streamlined and ready to hang in their beautifully matted frames when our next home presents itself.

That's just one example of my determination to adopt a glass half full mentality. Kiddo attends a small charter school we love dearly. Because they are underfunded by the state, and rely on parents to raise much of the money for field trips and such, they are having their annual yard sale next month. All of our unused items will get brought there, which will serve two purposes: to declutter our home and reduce the amount of "stuff" we have to load onto a U-haul in a year; and to raise much-needed funds for an amazing school that gives our son an education he wouldn't get at a traditional school. To be honest, I'm loving the extra space and bareness of the walls. Simplifying my life has such a calming effect. 

I'm taking my own advice: no more sweating over what may or may not happen. No more wallowing in the fact that my life is not living up to my expectations. What is meant to happen will, and I've got to enjoy the now and what it has to offer instead of always looking to the future and focusing on the fact that some ideal, that only exists in my head, isn't coming to fruition fast enough. I don't want to miss a second of apple picking season, Jared's last year of middle school, and all the other amazing things that will occur during what will likely be our last New England fall. I can move my career forward during this time. Although I no longer wish to live in this area, I can enjoy the rest of our time here. A serious attitude adjustment was needed, and I think I'm getting there. There will be setbacks and frustrations, sure, but my mindset and optimism will determine whether or not I'm miserable or happy. 

With the help of the book I'm reading, The Happiness Project, and some probing into my own thoughts, I've realized something: if all of our wishes come true and our house sells tomorrow; I get a great job in the meantime; our nest egg grows considerably; we move to our chosen destination . . . I would just end up dissatisfied there without a change in my thinking. How I feel about my life is all in my noggin. Sure, we all experience bumps in the road which get us down, and to some extent we are born with a set temperament, but enjoying one's life is a choice. I choose to be happy. I love the boys and am very happy with my life overall. But I've come to realize that I often view just living my life as a lack of forward motion. I'm a restless soul. I'm forward driven. I have worked for years to obtain my dream career. I want it noooow. Clearly I am the living embodiment of Veruca Salt. Bean feast anyone?

Those are some thoughts on this fine morning. I hadn't intended to write about my faulty thought processes at such length, but the words kept coming. An inner dialogue externalized, I suppose. I thought I'd finish up this post with some photos from a scenic overlook we stopped at during our drive through Washington State. I can't remember what it was called, but it was a desert-like place. The wind was pushing us around quite a bit, but the sunset and the views were amazing. There was even a reenactment of the classic Titanic scene. I'm so glad we stopped. And even more glad we didn't get blown off the edge of the ravine.