Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'm on a Retirement Break....

"We were on a break!!"

If you read that quote and knew what I was referring to, I hope it made you smile. Lately I feel like I have the need to shout, "I need a break!" I'm sure we all want to scream that every so often, but recently I came upon a wonderful idea. Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a former college professor of mine and his wife. They both retired from teaching in the last year, so our conversation naturally turned to the topic of retirement. When I asked them how they were enjoying retirement, they both had smiles that spread from ear to ear as they described what they were doing now during their days of leisure, When his wife asked me how I was, I think I answered something to the tune of, "That is a loaded question...."

The answer I actually gave was a very simplified version of the following: Life is wonderful and crazy and stressful and busy and complicated and beautiful and insane and momentous and everything else that falls into that spectrum. That being said, I'm loving life, but at the same time I feel like I can never keep up. Life just never stops, it keeps on rolling and with it comes increased responsibilities and "to-do" lists that seem to never end. One project or job leads to another and due to the increased workload it often feels like stress and chaos reign supreme.

I often look at the state of my house and want to scream. There are so many long (and short) term projects that need to get done I don't know where to begin. Closets and rooms need to be organized, I haven't scrapbooked my girls pictures in years (literally), my business needs to get back on track, and in general my house is a disaster. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Since it at times feels overwhelming, I instead turn to the day-to-day things I can accomplish, or I simply succumb to checking Facebook.

It was at this point in the conversation his wife commented on how life is like a treadmill and once you hop on it just never stops. There was a time when my workouts primarily consisted of running on a treadmill, so I could relate to that analogy. Most of your life you can manage the treadmill at the basic flat rate/pace, but as you get older the incline of that treadmill increases. In college you are out on your own...it increases a bit. You get your first "real" job and the pressure is on....the treadmill's incline takes a jump. You get married and start a family....the treadmill jumps up several more inclines at this point. Adding another job, dealing with medical bills, providing for a family...and the treadmill keeps climbing but you can't just jump off at this point.

I think you get where I'm going with this. And this is where the idea of the retirement break comes into play. Wouldn't it be amazing if every person was able to take a "retirement break" at least once in life? Even if it was just a couple months (or a year) to step away from work and the other pressures of life and just rewind or jump-start themselves again? When I told my mom about this I did clarify that this would have to be done without children around. I DO love my girls, but doing projects around the house or anywhere for that matter is ten times harder with "little helpers" next to you. I've seen some analogies on Facebook like:

      Cleaning your house while kids still live there is like shoveling during a snowstorm.
      Cleaning your house while kids still live there is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.

So, if it would be possible to call a "retirement break" I would start it this year. I figured it would be a good time since I'm turning 40. I honestly think if I had a good 3 months I'd be ready to tackle life again.I am fairly certain some of that break would be spent reading some good books and sipping a cup of coffee enjoying some peaceful time, but then I'd be ready and raring to go to accomplish what needs to get done.

I'm sure you are wondering why I'm spending time writing a blog when I have a list of things to get done, but one reason I started this blog was to be able to have an outlet for my rambling thoughts. Since at this point in time I have at least 15 different tabs open in my mind I thought it was a good time to finally write a blog again. Writing things down helps to clear my head.

With 2016 beginning in a couple days I decided to put some goals down, and I realized one common theme that tied them all together was better time management. That is probably another whole blog in itself, but I truly feel like when I get my time under control than all the other areas of my life (family, work, cleaning, projects, fun, exercise, personal growth, etc.) will fall into place a little better and I won't feel the need to shout "I need a retirement break!" so often.

As I look forward to the next year and the changes I hope to make, I realize it will feel like I hit the incline button on the treadmill before things get easier and fall into place. I'm OK with that. Please excuse the following exercise analogy, but here goes. When I run I always love that pace where I know I'm pushing myself, but not to the point where I break and have to stop. That's how I feel this year will be....a challenge, but one that I'm willing to try to make some changes. Who knows, I might still find that I need to call for a "retirement break" somewhere in there. Doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it?  ;)

Simply put...for now I'm hitting the incline button. This girl's gotta get going....

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's More Than a Store...


It has been 6 days since the news spread like wildfire across our small town. Whether you live in New Ulm, close to New Ulm or just flat-out know someone from New Ulm you no doubt know what I am referring to with that hashtag. That hashtag has put our little town on the map in a way. We no longer are just a small town known for our German heritage, but apparently our incessant love of our Target. I wholeheartedly include myself in that aforementioned group (both solid German and a Target fan) as well.

Here it is....our awesome New Ulm Target. 
I found out the news via my husband informing me of the announcement last Monday night. Not to sound dramatic, but my heart stopped for a second and then it dropped. I instantly started babbling about how this could NOT be happening! I couldn't get the news out of my head. Twenty minutes later we were headed to our daughter's Teacher Conference where I broke the sad news to her teacher who, quite honestly, ended up literally reeling from the news. That night it was all over social media, and it was quite THE talk the next day at work. This got another co-worker and me saying, "I admit I'm pathetic! What is the big deal? Why are we so upset? It is just a store!"

While the shock of the news has subdued it most certainly has not gone away, I'm still sitting here wondering why I'm so upset about a store closing. So I started to analyze that thought....would I be that upset if it was another store? Is it our location? Is it what they offer?? What is my deal!?!?

Hence the title of this blog....our Target is more than a store to me. (Let me insert here that this blog is not being written to undermine other businesses in our area, just explore why Target has a "spell" on us.)

For me, Target is a place where I can shop for my family on a budget and still get quality merchandise. I appreciate that, especially since we don't have lots of options in a smaller town.

I appreciate that it is always neat, clean, and has fantastic customer service. Not many big box stores can lay claim to that, but our Target clearly can.

You want to talk about a small town feel in a big box store? That is our Target. I have a feeling most of the staff at Target in a weird way knows our "stories." This is not meant to say they stalk us, but think about it. I moved back to New Ulm 11 years ago. Back then my purchases were fun clothes to wear, possibly a new CD or two, and all the basic necessities life throws at you. A few years later I got married and suddenly there was male merchandise being bought. Jump forward a few more years and suddenly diapers, formula and car seats were working their way past the register....and again two more years later...and now I have two young girls with me always in tow. They might not call me Sarah when I walk by, but they have seen me on a regular basis (dare I say every other week?) for 11 years now. They have often asked if I needed help finding anything. They have seen me struggle with a meltdown from one of my girls in the store. They've talked with my girls. We've chatted about craft projects and good gift options. They've given me a kind smile when this mom needed it. Not to sound too dramatic about this, but you get the feeling that this staff cares. For most customers I know, that is a huge deal. Our Target feels like our community does...small town. I love it. 

Let me conclude with the overriding reason for most people. IT IS RETAIL THERAPY! I had heard the term before, but honestly never really bought into that theory or that it really was a "thing." Now that I look back on it, I know it to be true. I'm sure there are many other women out there that know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Not to rule out any men reading this, but I'm pretty sure my husband has no idea what in the world I'm referring to. The men see it from the perspective that most memes on Facebook show, "I went into Target for toilet paper and came out $100 later." There are friends of mine that actually have experienced that "spell" that Target can put us under.  :)

For me the retail therapy isn't even always about buying something. There are just times that it is nice to get out of the house, and even if I have my girls with me I just enjoy walking around and looking at things. Why? I don't know!! It is just relaxing....fun....a step away from reality?? What will I do if Target is gone!?!?

So, is there a chance for our dear Target? A few days ago we heard some city officials were going to be meeting with upper level management of Target. The glass half-full part of me thinks our dreams will come true....it will stay open! But, the glass half-empty part of me has no real faith in big corporate America. I don't know the business world, and I won't pretend to, but I'm pretty sure we'll be saying a fond farewell in January. I know that Target isn't the only place in town like this. I love our grocery store of choice for the same reasons - maybe not the retail therapy part as much as hunger cravings, but still....I have confidence in knowing it is possible for another company to come in and make a difference.

.....but it will still never be Target. Ah!! Why can't I stop saying that?  :)  In all seriousness, until then I'm going to appreciate every Target run I do until it closes. I might just let myself get sucked into the dollar bins and the token endcap display more often. Who am I kidding....it's all calling my name!

Simply put...it has been more than a store to me.

Thanks for reading! I had to add this on since this happened after I wrote the blog. All in all, got some quick retail therapy in...  :)
So I went to Target today for some necessities (quite the mix as you can see), and walked away with only ONE splurge buy. In all honesty I was on a time schedule, so never made it to the clearance rack of clothes.
The bag of Caramel Apple Pops were in the Dollar Bin...of COURSE I bought them. Who doesn't love those bad boys?!?!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Home is Where...

I am a sentimental fool. Nostalgia gets me every time. I don't cry at sad movies, but real-life sentimental moments get me every time. It is safe to say I inherited this trait from my dad. I don't say that with any intent of saying that is a bad thing. My dad often gets caught up in the sentimentality of the moment, and I've often heard him talk about stories from college and the days gone by. My mom, though, isn't like that. She possibly holds all those moments and memories inside, but what I hear from her is more chit chat about the here and now.

This summer brought out a little more of the nostalgia in me, and more so it got me thinking about the idea of HOME. When you hear that word, what is your first thought? Does your mind wander to the house you grew up in or the one where you currently live? Some consider HOME to be a place or a feeling, while others think it is the people that can make a place feel like HOME. All those thoughts have been summed up in the following popular phrases:

Home is where the heart is...
Home is not a place, it is a feeling...
Home is where you hang your heart...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately because my parents have been in the same house for the last 35 years, and it is looking like by next summer they could be relocating. Yes, that means they have lived there since I was 4, so there are a LOT of memories connected with that house. As I think about them residing somewhere else I have wondered whether it will still feel like HOME. So, is HOME about the place, or the people? Let's analyze...

Here it is, my parents' home where they raised 5 children for the majority of our lives. It is by far nothing grand or glorious, but a blessing all the same. Its claim to fame is the fact that we had a green driveway until about a month ago. Yes, you read that right, a green driveway. I can vividly remember driving up to the house for the first time as a 4 year old and seeing that green driveway. About a month ago my dad repaved it, but you can see faded remnants of the green by the back door step.

There are many more memorable moments connected to the place, and I'm sure all homes have them. The living room window where we would ride our bikes up to it in the summer and play McDonald's drive-through....the tree in the back yard we would climb....the small hill in the back we would sled down...the sidewalk behind our house that took us on hundreds (thousands?) of bike rides to the park and walks to school....the La-Z-Boy recliner where I took many awesome naps and where I planted myself one Thanksgiving break to read Gone With the Wind straight through...both the kitchen and dining room tables where many long post-dinner chats and laughs were shared and treasured....the lilac bush outside my bedroom where we actually formed and held meetings for the 5M Club...the back step where we ate our ice cream cones after supper...and the list could go on and on.

Then there are the smells, whether good or bad. I can smell the house at Christmas time, with the fresh evergreen tree....baking....cooking....the smell in the summer of my parents grilling wafting through the windows...the musty smell of the basement....coffee always brewing in the morning...

You can't forget the sounds....Packer football games on Sunday afternoons...my mom's wonderful laugh...siblings practicing piano....Christmas records playing...my brother playing nerf basketball games in his room...the sounds of the wooden steps to the basement...

As I sit and reflect about what I just said about the PLACE that I call home, I realize that PEOPLE are connected with almost every single one of those memories. In a few months I'll probably celebrate my last Christmas (my favorite memories) at my parents' house. When they move will it still be the same? Will the ornaments and decorations look the same in a new place? Will the music sound the same? Will the food taste the same? Yes, it will probably look and feel different. I admit it will take me a second to adjust, but in the end I know I'm blessed because the PEOPLE that I have been blessed to make these memories with will still be there. I can still talk and laugh around a dinner table, even if it isn't the same one. I can still smell my mom's phenomenal cooking. I can still hug my parents and thank them for all the have been and are to me....they are my HOME.

My husband Jesse and I have lived in our current home since May of 2008. We have raised two vivacious girls, and we have lots of memories made here. I consider this my home, but in all reality I still feel more tied to my Milwaukee home. Not sure if that is because I spent a majority of my life there, or because the people that had such an influence on me growing up and where I am today still reside there. Don't get me wrong, I'm blessed beyond measure and love our little corner lot here in New Ulm. I'm sure when our girls grow up they'll look back at this house like I do my parents' home.

In the end, it really doesn't mean much. Is it the place or the people? It really doesn't matter. All the nostalgia and sentimental good feelings are connected to our temporary earthly homes. I get sad thinking about my parents moving. I don't think there is anything wrong with having a tinge of nostalgia when they move thinking about all the wonderful blessings and memories we experienced in that home. With that being sad, far more important than them making our house feel like a HOME, they taught us to look forward to our heavenly home. If I'm sentimental thinking about all the great places and people I call home, it is just a tiny, minute glimpse of the glory we shall see someday in heaven.

Simply put...I'm always home.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Crazy Thing

This weekend marks my 2 year anniversary of being a Crazy Wrap Girl. Wait...a what!?!?
(For those of you new to me and the company It Works, it is a health and wellness company and our flagship product is referred to as "That Crazy Wrap Thing." Feel free to check it all out at  www.SZwraps.com)

Yes, it is hard to believe but two years ago I took this leap into direct sales with It Works Global. No one could have been more surprised than I was that I did this. Up until this point in time I never considered myself a sales person, and truth be told I hesitated from going to any kind of direct sales parties for various reasons. 

So how, you may ask, did I get started with It Works? Well, I had a friend who became a distributor with It Works that introduced me to the products. I fell in love with one of the products (the Greens) which literally changed my life. I was perfectly happy just being a customer, but after unexpectedly losing a job I loved our family was looking for something to help pay some bills.

So, two years have come and gone and there has been a lot I've learned about this crazy adventure I'm on. I'm no guru on the topic, just some average middle-aged woman that decided to jump on board this world of direct sales and is still managing to stay afloat. 

It is rewarding to do something like this when you are passionate about it. My health has always been important to me, and that is why I like to watch what I eat and exercise on a regular basis. As I said before, some of the products helped improve my health in big ways, and it has been so awesome to help  others feel better and improve their health as well. No offense to other direct sales people out there, but I personally know that I still wouldn't be here two years later if I was selling jewelry, tupperware, etc. That just doesn't drive me. Staying healthy? Now THAT drives me.

 It isn't sales. In the end, it is really just about sharing healthy options with others. The times I've unintentionally slipped into sales mode have not been very productive.

It helps if you are a little outgoing and willing to stretch your personality a bit. I had always told myself I would never put a bumper sticker on my car....no matter what it was. I now have an It Works sticker and a car magnet.....go figure. To make it in direct sales you have to be willing to meet new people. It is a good thing I like talking to people, but I would be lying if I told you it is easy to always approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. All in all, it is FUN being a Crazy Wrap Girl.

You get out of it what you put into it. Your business only works as hard as you do. Your team doesn't work it for you. I actually had a heart-to-heart with our team lead the other day about this. I take full responsibility for me not being "further" along. It probably sounds strange, but I think a great part of it lies in the fact that I love everything else in life.
Allow me to explain...Not all, but many others have gotten involved with It Works (or another direct sales business) because they loathe their job and want to find a way out. That is not the case with me. I love my job and find myself putting hours in outside of work. This summer I was passionate about the Summer Reading Program I did, and that got my full attention. Just last week I finished up helping organize several events for MLC Homecoming. It took a lot of my time, but I didn't mind because I liked doing that. The result? My business suffered. On the one hand, your business will keep going, but it won't keep growing if you don't do anything about it. One of my goals going into year three is to better manage my time between all these things I love, along with being a wife and mother of two.

It is possible to do this as a TEAM...one that supports each other. I've had many question me about the "pyramid scheme" in direct sales. I love the fact that with It Works it is not that way. In our company you can promote higher than your upline. That being said, we all work together to help each other and support each other. I truly have made some good friends and had a lot of laughs on this journey.

It has given me the opportunity to give back to others. Not only have I been able to share health and wellness with others, but I was able to give back and help a friend get books for her classroom. My husband and I have more than once been blessed by the kindness of strangers, and someday we hope to help pay it forward to others in return. Not only did I join It Works to help pay off bills and get financial freedom for our family, but I want to be able to help others like it has been done for us.

It is about the customers. I greatly appreciate each and every one of my customers. That being said I'll be the first to admit that I haven't done them due justice. I've let all the other aspects of my life take over this part of my business. Another goal of mine entering into year three is to change this, for the better.

It isn't always easy. Our company has given us a very simple blueprint to help us succeed with our own business. It is a simple plan, but it isn't easy. There are times when you hear NO after NO. Days when people tell you that you are nuts. People can be offended and rude about the oddest things. You take a lot of rejection, but it makes you appreciate every great conversation with future customers even better.

Since I'm being honest I'll admit that I almost decided not to continue with this into year three. I'm not where I thought I'd be at this point in time, but I can't give up. I won't. I've seen the potential this company has, and after investing my time, money and effort I just can't turn back. I'm doing this for my family. Above all, and more importantly, I can't because of YOU. All of you reading this drive me to keep going. I just want to help others. That is the pure and simple truth.

Simply put...I'm going to keep wrappin' on.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

40 is the New....

Last week I signed up for a 5K, and with dread looked at the blank for AGE. I'll be the first to admit it I wrote the number 39 with a bit of a sinking heart. Later I thought about why I did it begrudgingly. Is it because all around us that age is one people look to as a milestone (usually negatively), or do I personally truly dread turning the big 4-0?

Growing up I consistently would hear the hype around turning 40, so it naturally left me with not a fantastic feeling about it. In reality, though, I guess I can't truly blame social media or Hallmark or anyone else for making 40 a milestone of sorts. Most greeting cards start to poke fun when you turn 40...needing glasses, better memory, etc. On the flip side, I have heard more and more that 60 is the new 40. Really? So does that make 40 the new 30? This leaves my mind buzzing.

So now let's examine the second possibility....do I truly dread turning 40? In a way, yes and no. The sinful side of me always has worried about the day when my body will start breaking down, when my hair will turn gray, etc. I don't really think I imagined this would all happen by 40, but once again that is the first aging milestone the world throws at us. This past week my husband Jesse wrote a blog titled "Dream vs. Reality" which had a totally different focus than age. But, it got me thinking that I could have named this blog "Perception vs. Reality." The world's perception of turning 40 is different than what I now see is my reality.

Here is my reality in a nutshell. I have kept my health a huge priority in my life, and because of that I don't feel what I once perceived 40 would feel like. I honestly feel more like 30. I don't say this to toot my own horn, but I've stayed fairly conscientious about eating a healthy diet and exercising on a daily basis. So in this aspect I most certainly do not dread turning 40. One side story for you...Last week I was reading test scores that had printed off in very tiny print, and I had to adjust the paper a certain distance from me to read it. I grimaced for a second, put the paper down to process what had just happened, and thought "Really!?!" As I reflect on that, I still don't dread 40, that is just a natural part of life for many. No matter how hard I fight to prevent it, God's all-knowing and all-powerful hands will dictate when my eyesight will leave me. Until then, I will relish the fact that I'm a healthy almost 40 year-old!

Here is the other half of my reality. I'm just a kid at heart. I don't think I ever thought someone at 40 is some old stodgy person that is all uptight, but my perception quite possibly was more that I myself would be quite different...that my personality would change, that I would act older or something. There are certain things in life that naturally age you due to your responsibilities such as a job, marriage, parenting, etc., but I truly believe what is deep down stays the same. I still love to laugh out loud, talk a mile a minute, participate in dance parties at home with my girls, do toe-touches at work in the hallway, climb on things at the park, and the list could go on and on....I don't feel 40 at all!! Therefore I dread it even less.

This summer I had a wonderful talk with one of my aunts on our family vacation. Somewhere in there the topic of the big 4-0 came up and she said something to me that was so simple, but yet so profound. She said she never dreaded turning 40 because as she looked at it, it was just another year of God's abundant grace and blessings being showered upon her.She had experienced 40 years of blessings! I LOVED that she said that. Deep down I've always known that, but sin has crept in and had me looking at the opposite side of that. I've been blessed beyond measure, and for that I embrace another 40 (or more). Thanks be to God!

Simply put...embrace it!

P.S. Don't rush to send birthday gifts, I don't turn 40 until next May!  :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Analyze This...and Then Grab a Brownie

Much has been said (and written) about the mind of a woman vs. the mind of a man. I truthfully have never thought about it or analyzed it too much until recently. And, probably more than anything it is the case of a mom's mind vs. a dad's mind. I do NOT mean by writing this I think one is better or more intellectual than the other, just some musings of mine lately. My apologies for the lengthy explanation to get to a point, but think it is needed.

Let's start with yesterday....Our neighbor just happens to be a co-worker of my husband. This neighbor and his wife just announced that they are expecting their first child. Jesse went out yesterday to congratulate him on the news. When Jesse came back in here was the following conversation....
       Me: When is she due?
    Jesse: Sometime in March.
       Me: How has she been feeling so far? Has she had any morning sickness?
   Jesse: no response....looks at me with a blank look and shrugs...
       Me: Has she figured out who her OB doctor will be?
   Jesse: more silence....another shrug
It was at this point that I decided I would stop with the "girl" questions. Was I being nosy? I don't think so. At least in my circles those are some of the first questions asked after the first "Congratulations!" and hugs are given. Often those above questions lead to follow-up questions....like how often the morning/evening sickness comes....are they feeling better once the first trimester is over....this doctor was phenomenal during my pregnancy and delivery, etc. This led me to imagine that men give the obligatory high five and move on...

Let's jump ahead to this morning before church. Our younger daughter had two separate incidents that led to consequences she did not like, and MUCH crying/screaming ensued. I'm not exaggerating when I say this massive meltdown was 25 minutes in length. Not to excuse it, but it was greatly enhanced by her being overtired. It then ran into her being upset about anything and everything....I wouldn't hold her long enough...she had too many tears,...her hair was tangled but she didn't want it combed....her sandals were too tight....and then too loose....and then she was too tired to wipe her tears....too tired to walk up the hill, etc. During the meltdown I was over analyzing every move...
     "If I don't hold her long enough because I need to get ready, will that seem like I don't love her?"
     "If I do hold her longer will that leave her thinking she has the upper hand?"
     "I was going to throw a load of laundry in before church started. Now I'll be behind on my to-do 
      list for today."
     "I might be going to church with wet hair....awesome."
     "What could I have done better to handle this situation next time?"
     "When will this stage end?"
     "This is stressing me out."
Quite honestly, my last thought (and this will make me sound horrible) was...
      "I could really go for a glass of wine."  
Since that was probably not the proper choice as I was on my way to church, I instead grabbed a brownie. Yes, a big brownie. Mind you, that probably just erased my 3 mile run this morning, but a brownie was my go-to at that moment.
Later when I asked Jesse what was going through his mind when the meltdown was taking place he just said, "I was wondering when this will stop happening on Sunday mornings." Granted, he had no idea that I was looking for blog content, so he might have expanded further, but do men over analyze quite like we do?

It then continued at church. As I sat down the acquaintance in the pew behind me saw my frustrated face, to which I replied, "It has been a morning."  She gave me a knowing smile (being a mother of three) and that was it. I once again thought, do moms take comfort in/with other moms unlike dads do? As I saw my other friends/acquaintance my thoughts and prayers went like this...
     ...She is a mom of 6 and her family lives on a farm. Her morning could have been like mine times    6. Was her husband out doing chores? Did she do the morning routine on her own? Prayers for her   strength and patience. 
    ...They just moved to town. She is a mom of 3 and her husband has a new job that is rather       demanding of his time. Praying she is handling all the adjustments of a new job, new town, new     schedules and all. Prayers for strength, 
    ...She is a mom of three (and pregnant with #4) and her husband is at work right now, so her morning routine and time at church left her running solo with the kids. Her oldest starts preschool tomorrow, and I know it will be an emotional day for this mom. I want to send her hugs tomorrow morning. Prayers for strength and patience and continued health for her. 
    ...She is a mom of 3 praying for blessing number 4. They have a big move coming in a month and she also is busy with her direct sales business. I pray for her strength and patience and time.
    ...She is a mom of 4 with an unexpected blessing of baby number 5 on the way. Her husband's work schedule can be tough at times. She has the concern about having a baby at a "later" age. Prayers for her patience and strength and continued health. 
    ....She is a mom of 2 with a newborn. I wonder if she is sleeping well at this point. How is her energy level? How are the other 2 adjusting to the new little one? Prayers for her strength and patience and continued recovery from labor. 

After church I talked with many of these moms and talk turned to our daughter's meltdown, me slamming a brownie on my way to church, the first day of preschool tomorrow, a newborn's sleep schedule, closing on a house, sibling rivalry, our sanity....and the list goes on.  This all leads me to...

Do men/dads ever think like that? Does my husband see his guy friends and say silent prayers and words of encouragement to them? After church when the gals are gabbing what are they talking about? When my husband sees a fellow dad in a store with a child having a meltdown does he give them a knowing smile or word of encouragement because he has "been there and done that?"

I tried to get Jesse to answer the above questions, but truth be told he didn't know where I was going with any of this, and I didn't want to explain the blog too much to lead him to an answer. I once again didn't write this to say women are better or more intellectual, it is just a case of me thinking out loud. Any men out there that would like to respond, I'd love to hear it. And, I'm quite sure, I'll have the privilege to hear my husband's response on his blog...www.averagejester.com

This post is probably looking like a contradiction to the title of this blog, I do admit I probably do over analyze too many things in life...like should I eat this brownie or save the calories or should I vacuum or dust first. But thinking about using the gifts God has given me to be the best mom, wife, friend, employee, etc. is probably one way I will never simplify. I can't stop thinking about it,

Simply put....grab that brownie and dig in.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better (or Not)

Do you like to lose?

Just from hearing that question I'm guessing you either slightly shrugged your shoulders indifferently or shouted out a resounding, "NO!" Most people fall into one of the two groups, and if I had to pick a group I would probably lean towards the latter. There are certain things that I'm rather blase about, but in the athletic arena I don't do so well. I don't throw a fit if my team loses, but it definitely gets to me and it takes awhile to let it go. 

Believe it or not, in the last few weeks my daughters have prompted me to think on this topic. Lately they have tried to "one up" the other on almost anything and everything. It is rather ridiculous. In the past it was about being the first to go out the door, but now I'm hearing total craziness. Below are actual statements I've heard from them. 

  "My Barbie is prettier than yours."
  "My dress can twirl better."
  "My milk has more chocolate in it."
  "My hair is longer than yours."
  "My bean bag is puffier."

Today took the cake. After a certain incident the two were directed to take a break on the kitchen chairs so I could talk with them. As I sat down, Ziva scooted her chair forward, turned to Siri and said, "Look, I'm even closer to Mom." This led Siri to scoot forward. Ziva responded by saying, "Actually losers are the close ones, so now I win." She then shot her chair back two feet....and on it went. While the ridiculousness of the situation was very obvious to me, the fact that they were just prolonging their timeout clearly blew by them. 

It got me to thinking two things. First of all, where does that come from? Besides the obvious answer of sin in the world I really did think...when/where does that start? Did you ever hear Dora taunting Boots for beating him down the path Map showed them? Did Steve ever mock Blue because he found the three clues first? You probably need to have kids to understand those references, but I think you know where I'm going with that. 

Secondly, can you imagine how hilarious it would be if adults challenged each other like my daughters did? This is probably what our house would sound like....

Jesse: "I can mow the lawn in straighter lines than you can."
Sarah: "Yeah, well I can run longer distances than you."
Jesse: "Maybe, but I know I can snore louder than you."
Sarah: "That's great, but I can grocery shop faster and cut coupons more efficiently."
Jesse: "Fine, but I'm better at computer stuff."

Those truly aren't issues between us, I was just trying to make a point. While I laughed at how dumb it would sound, it did occur to me that as an adult I now am competitive in another way.  Life has gone from being competitive in the sports arena to comparing myself by much different standards....as a wife and a mom. 

      "Why can't I keep my house clean like them...."
      "Why can they handle so many things at once..."
      "Why are they able to be more successful at their job...."

This has come full circle to an inner struggle that I have had, and have worked hard at dissipating. It probably could be a whole post on its own: "The Pressure to be That Mom." You could call it many things; pressure, competitiveness or insecurity. In the end, my focus no longer is on chalking up another victory in the win column, but on using the gifts God has given me to raise our children knowing the one thing needful. I know it is easier said than done, but I pray I can learn to stop the inner competition that is often brewing inside of me.

Simply put....I need to simplify this.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pudgy Fingers & Hair Clips

We’ve all heard the expression, “Stop and smell the roses.” For me recently it turned into, “Stop and analyze hair clips.” Allow me to explain….

It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life, isn’t it? Daily tasks and routines seem to all mesh together and before you know it another day, month and then year has gone by and you find yourself saying, “Where has all the time gone?”  I wouldn’t claim to say I am the busiest person out there, but I have enough happening on a daily basis to keep me on the go. Just recently it all hit me and for the first time ever I truly felt a little stressed about my schedule.

I like to walk or run early in the morning before the activities of the day take up my time. This particular morning I was walking with no music so I enjoyed hearing the quiet noises of the morning. Before I knew it, though, my mind was running through my “to-do” list posted back at home. I felt my stress level slightly escalating, and by the end of my walk I had worked myself into a bit of a tither. A few blocks from my house a great shot of a city landmark came into view, with the rising sun hitting it at the perfect angle.  It took my breath away. I stopped for a second to take in the beauty of God’s creation and thank Him for all He blesses us with day after day and it hit me….My stressors could also be translated into blessings.

As I was reflecting on these blessings my next almost immediate reaction was panic. Panic that there were moments I’ve missed out on because of my schedule, my jobs, and demands to be “that mom” that can keep it all together. In the next few days, these thoughts became more pronounced.

Just a few days later I was at the park with my girls (ages 6 ½ and 4 ½) and they decided to chase a bird across an adjoining field. Both of their personalities shown through at that moment as my oldest daughter, who is very goal-driven, set off in a straight line, determined to catch that bird no matter what. My youngest, the laid back one, ran in circles, stopping to check out the wildflowers, grass, twigs, etc. It was one of those days where the sun hit them just right, looking like they were on some idyllic movie set. I was amazed at how their personalities could be exemplified in the simplest thing like that, and how many times have I missed something like that?

Earlier this week my daughter’s teacher came for her home visit. School starts soon and Ziva is ecstatic. She is starting first grade, and as her teacher talked about what the year would be like Ziva looked up with her with such awe, admiration and wonder. Ziva then asked her teacher, “I’m not sure, but how do the desks work?” I almost started crying then and there. I don’t have much time left to hear those adorable innocent questions, or to her to be so amazed by what school may bring. Before I know it these days will melt into years and she’ll be a teenager so NOT looking forward to school, and being SO annoyed by my questions of how her day was today.

This all has left me with a feeling of that I must make a goal to make sure that the all-encompassing aspects and duties of my life don’t overtake me to the point that I miss out on my girls running through the fields and asking adorable questions. Does this mean I’ll stop cleaning the house and stop doing my job? I think you all know the answer to that question, and just this morning I explained it to Ziva. There are basic responsibilities in life and jobs that one must attend to, as much as we might want to play games with our children all day. There are times for play, but there are times for work as well.

 And as a follow-up, when it is fun family time, to remember to “Stop and smell the roses” to make those memories even sweeter. Like this morning when Siri was overanalyzing each pretty hair clip and which one had more glitter or matched better….why rush her? Then after the County Fair the girls got treated to Happy Meals and Siri spent quite some time figuring out her new Happy Meal toy. Where in the past I might have tried to help her more or tried to rush her out the door to get back to the chores of the day, I watched her still slightly pudgy little hands work with that toy….too adorable.
There are a lot of “parts” of me often feeling like I’m pulled in different directions.  I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, paraprofessional, It Works distributor, member of an Alumni Committee and a rockin’ Book Club, and a lover of exercise that sometime gets overwhelmed with various aspects of life. I truly love all those things, and I’m working for balance in it all….along with pudgy fingers and hair clip moments.

Simply put…just give me a moment.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coming soon to a screen near you

Life is crazy. Oftentimes I find myself with 10 different tangents running in my mind at once. I'm sure that is common for many of you. I thought if I would write about those thoughts once in awhile I could keep some of those random musings organized. Home, health, family, work, goals, direct sales, children, parenting, work, fitness, plans, frustrations, joys, success, etc.....get ready for random!