Monday, January 30, 2012

First Days

Today was my first day on my new project in New Jersey, working at a pharmaceutical company.  I have grown to appreciate my first days on projects.  For one, it's nice to have some new faces and a change in work -- especially if you didn't really enjoy the previous job.  And you get a whole day of people not expecting you to be able to answer all their questions. 

But, I still fought those first day nerves that I always experience.  Playing the game -- Do they like me? Do I like them? Do they like me as much as I like them? Will I fit in with this team's dynamic? And on and on.  Every first day of school I ever had left me feeling as if a swarm of bees had taken over my stomach.  Mother called it "butterflies" but it always felt more like a sting than a fluttering.  And at some point every first day of school, I remember it would hit me like a ton of bricks -- summer is gone! How will I ever survive a whole year before the next summer break? How could anything be so terrible? Life is just so very unfair.  Poor me.  But somehow, life went on, and I made it.  Thank you, Jesus.

I think I will always be one to get a bad case of "butterflies" before my first days, regardless of how many I encounter.  And I don't know why when they have always gone great? Yep, never had a bad one.  No sirree.  Definitely not like this one girl I remember from my first day of high school.  She was a shy brunette carrying a stack of books and wearing a skirt walking through the courtyard.  And then she fell down the steps in front of the cool group of senior guys.  Sucks to be her, I thought.  Who knows where she is now...

And like my first day at Accenture back in 2007, when a bright eyed young lady of 22 years of age was first in line at the breakfast table with around 20 gentlemen lined up behind her.  And she gently placed a croissant and fruit upon her plate as she reached for the pitcher of orange juice.  And then she poured the pitcher on the breakfast table.  Oops.  I bet she felt real dumb.  At least she got a dry croissant.  I wonder whatever became of her?

Well today was very nice and I am incredibly grateful for it.  And after a pizza dinner, some work, and 5 minutes of channel surfing between The Bachelor, Teen Mom, and Hoarders, I have sufficiently seen enough females crying at one time and will call it a night.

Good luck to you on your first days :) May God give you the courage you need to tackle them!

Gym. Tanning. Laundry.

Hi Blog, I've missed you! We got back to NY last week and then hopped on another plane to NC for my grandmother's funeral (which was beautiful).  But this week it is back to work, yoga with Kathryn, and a normal gym routine.

Just typing g-y-m intimidates me.  But I did give myself the New Year's Resolution of becoming a professional body builder and being able to hold my own in all the bar fights I get into, so it looks like the gym is the starting point.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to take my personal trainer down under with me to get my NYR underway.  He's really handsome and has great moves.  You may have met him before.

If given the option between singing in public and a sesh at a crowded gym where everyone knows what they are doing, I would choose the former.  It just intimidates me and I can't put my finger on why exactly.  But Brian has helped me master a few go-to exercises which already have me feeling 60% more confident when I go to get my workout on.

I have a feeling I am not alone in my gym intimidation and I know all you gym masters are hating people like me who are taking over your Y's and spending 10 minutes turning the elliptical on.  So if you haven't taken that first step to your NYR of working out yet, then SLACKER because it's almost February I wanted to share my go-to's that will have you feeling like you own the place in no time.
  • Arrive.  Apply lipgloss.
  • Turn on your Walkman.  Or if you don't have a Walkman/Discman, turn on your ipod.  Whenever I am trying to look busy, I just pretend I am searching for the perfect song.
  • Get a sip of water, grab your towel, and assess the situation.
  • Do you need to sign up for a machine (elliptical, treadmill, etc.)? If so, sign up.
  • Go over to a corner, grab a mat, and stretch.  This will loosen you up and allow you to conquer any nerves while looking like you know what you are doing.
  • Machine still not available? No problem.  Or as the Australians would say "no worries, mate."  Grab some free weights and go to town. 
    • My favorites (aka the only ones I know how to do):
      • Curls - Do 2 sets of 10 on each side, alternating between left and right.
      • Lunges - Ditto.
      • Tricep kickbacks - With your left foot on the floor, your right knee on a bench, and your torso parallel to the ground, pick up a small weight (5 lbs or so).  Bend your arm at the elbow, and straighten it behind you for 10 reps.  Then switch arms.  Do 2 sets.
      • Military press - Feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, push the weights straight up until your arms are straight.  Pause and bring back down.  That counts as one.  Do 2 sets of 10.
      • *Abs - See the BEST ab workout ever below if you are interested.  Fantastic and takes no time.  I prefer it to P90X ab workout.
  • Get on the elliptical and have some real fun.  For as long as you can stand having that much fun.  Make sure you are drinking lots of water! And whenever you want a break but not look like you are doing that because you are dying of exhaustion, pretend there is something so interesting on ESPN (because you know that will be on) that you just have to pause to watch it.

And that's all I got.  Which probably made reading this a waste of your time.  But I plan to get more.  A LOT more.  I start my new project in NJ tomorrow, so it's back to nights in hotels where my only options are Real Housewives or the gym.  We both know what I would naturally choose...but the new and improved Sara will be watching Real Housewives...while AT the gym.

*Quick and great ab workout that will change your life:

Workout ball
  • Pot Stirrers - 
    • You start this workout with your toes on the ground and in a plank position (push-up position) with your forearms/elbows firmly on the workout ball about shoulder width apart. 
    • Roll the ball forward with your elbows until the crease of your elbow is at eye level.
    • This is where there are two options.  First is to just hold this position for 10-15 seconds.  The other option is to slowly move the ball in a clockwise motion so that you are using your side abductor muscles more (this is very hard).  You will feel this in your abs and lower back.  
    • Only tips I have is if it is easy, move the ball further upward (towards the top of your head).  Also, make sure your body is in a straight line in the push-up position or you are kinda cheating.
    • Do 3 sets of these with a rest in between each.

  • Knee Raises -
    • This is kind of the opposite of the previous workout.  You want to be in a push-up position again, this time with your hands firmly on the ground and the tops of your feet/ankle area on the top of the workout ball.
    • Pull your knees up to your chest keeping them as close to your body as possible as you raise them, and hold for a second there before returning to the resting position.  
    • You should feel this in your lower abs.
    • Tips are once again to keep as straight of a back as possible, keep your knees close to your chest, and to hold the crunch at the top for a second or two.  That is where the biggest workout is.
    • This can take a time or two to get used to because its a bit awkward but you will get it.  Do it 10 times for a set, and 3 sets.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Lately, I feel like all I have blogged about is life and death.  And maybe those topics were on my mind because it wasn’t far from approaching.  On Tuesday morning, I woke up in New Zealand to find the below email from my dad.

Hi There,

I have some news to pass along about Mary Dell.

Love, Dad

My parents have never referred to others as the nickname I called them, including each other, but Mary Dell is my maternal grandmother, my sweet Nana.  Dad was brief in his delivery and I immediately felt a pit in my stomach as my eyes read over his words several times trying to decipher the message.  I had a similar feeling last August when I heard his voicemail of the same tune and stood in my kitchen letting my heart catch up to my head.

Brian and I made the call to my parents and learned that Nana had passed away an hour before on January 17th.  She reached her hand out to my grandfather, which she hasn’t been able to do in years, and he was right beside her, holding her hand in those final moments.  Nana deserved the most peaceful of passings, and I am grateful she had that.

My voice caught in my throat during that call, and I’m not exactly sure what questions I asked or what else I was told.  I was so happy for her and yet so sad for my grandfather, my mom, my aunt and uncles, all of us.  I took the time I needed that morning to miss her and wanted to spend the day doing something that would always be memorable and in honor of life.  Missing her came in waves the next couple of days, turning my sunglasses into my new BFF, allowing me to put them on and have a moment whenever I felt the tears creeping in.

There is so much about her I will carry with me forever, and I could write for days about who she was and why she was so wonderful.  We were very close and she taught me a great deal about life that I will always remember.  Nana was a physically stunning woman, yet somehow her heart was even more beautiful than her looks.  My favorite of the many words of wisdom she taught us has always been “Pretty is as pretty does,” and it means that regardless of how you look physically, you are as pretty as your heart is, and as pretty as your actions are.  And despite my stint as a pre-teen, I have always tried to practice “being pretty” the way Nana taught me.

Her life was hard and not without its share of tragedy, but she always chose kindness and happiness.  She chose to “be pretty” when pretty wasn’t easy to be.  And her funeral next Saturday will be a tear-filled one, because of what a truly fine woman she was.  But it will mainly be a celebration of a life we were blessed to be a part of, one that truly made the world a better place, and one that we know has gone home.


A very dear friend had unexpected brain surgery yesterday, 
which had Brian’s and my stomach in knots all day.  
It was successful and she is expected to make a full recovery.  
Thinking of you constantly, LPK! xxx

Monday, January 16, 2012

Evelyn Louise Boehm

On Friday, August 19th 2011, I received the phone call that Holly's water had broken while at Bojangle's.  I immediately knew my niece/nephew was destined for greatness since the labor was kicked off after a delicious feasting on seasoned fries.

I was at my parents' house in Kernersville and Brian was at home in NYC, scheduled to fly in the following weekend around Holly's due date.  We called airlines and searched for flights down that night, but there wasn't a seat to be had.  So sadly, Brian had to participate from afar.

It was one of the most exciting phone calls of my life and I instantly started packing my bags for Charlotte.  I had visions of missing the arrival by a matter of minutes.  I think we all did.  But the sweet baby had different plans and was taking plenty of time to prepare for the scariness of our world.  Poor Holly was a rock star and went through a natural labor for a longggg time.

Thanks to Evie's patience, Steve, Mary, and I were able to get some sleep (with clothes, make-up, and lights on; ready for a mad dash to the hospital -- reference Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II for a visual).  We enjoyed a nice pancake breakfast and coffee while trying to keep nerves in check.  Around 8am the next morning, we arrived at the hospital and settled into the waiting room, computers and books in hand.  Holly's sweet parents had been at the hospital most of the night and Bonnie's story of their race to Charlotte is one of my favorites of all time :).  They were so excited, the overnight bags they had packed weeks before didn't make it into the car with them.

Hours passed and Holly was just as kind in labor as she always is, letting us come in to visit and see how they were doing.  Greg was calm and collected, ensuring his bride had everything she needed.  And my fingers were getting plenty of exercise as I texted with Brian and our cousin Kerri, keeping them updated on baby news.

My most vivid memories of the day are derived from the feelings and emotions in the waiting room.  I can only imagine what that day was like for Greg and Holly, so that is not my story to share.  As I lounged in my chair with the two sets of soon-to-be first-time grandparents, tales of childhood floated around with intermittent moments of anxiety.  I do not have the adequate words to describe the joy and excitement I saw in them that day.  But I can say without a doubt, that day was one of the five best they have ever and will ever have, and I feel so blessed to have been able to share it with them.

My heart was bursting with love as I imagined the relationship I hoped to have with my niece/nephew.  I have always been so close to my Aunt Genny, Aunt Beth, and Aunt Linda, and I desire to have the same relationship with my siblings' children.  As Evie's favorite aunt (by default), I feel a strong sense of duty to always be there for her, through thick and thin, all the days I am blessed to spend with her.

No one knew the sex of the baby and the last few hours of the wait were spent playfully arguing back and forth on what "it" would be.  As the sun was setting, and we peaked out the window at the city skyline, a beautiful shade of pink consumed the sky and we all agreed that could be the sign of a girl.

Evie was born at 9:30pm on August 20th.  Greg walked down the hall with his video camera and announced, "Evie Lou", and I think we all couldn't believe the Boehm trend of males had been broken.  Shouts and squeals of delight filled the room, tears of joy were shed, and we all congratulated the new dad.  Brian was able to hear the announcement on the phone and could not have been more excited (and shocked).

We were able to go back and see Holl and the baby after about an hour.  Holly looked amazing; I still think she hired a stunt double :).  We all took turns meeting Evie and marveling at how beautiful she was.  A new life had joined ours and everything would forever be different...forever be better.  A new baby means innocence, hope, a beginning.  A new baby means unconditional love, need, and faith...the way we are to approach our relationship with God.  And a new baby is a reminder that there is still good in this world, even when it is hard to see.

And no, I'm sorry, Evie will not be getting a cousin for awhiiiiile.
Unless Mike has some news? :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mother Knows Best

Other than "I love you," the last thing my mother told me before leaving for Australia was, "Promise me you won't go in the water!" And since I'm only 27 yrs old, I decided to listen.  Ahh the temptation of the fruit...the water was just too beautiful to resist and I got a little reminder that you shouldn't break promises to your mother.

I almost died yesterday.  By "almost" I mean that for 30 seconds, I thought death was to be my outcome.  I know what you're thinking...'Sara survived a Great White attack!' Or maybe, 'Sara saved a small child from the jaws of a giant croc and almost lost her life while doing so!' Alas, no. I was attacked by...

Yes, that's a jellyfish.  But not just any jellyfish...a Blue Bottle! Which is actually not dangerous.  But I THOUGHT it was a deadly Irukandji, which is extremely dangerous.

Yesterday, we set out to surf in Surfers Paradise (think Myrtle Beach but with waves).

I was hanging out, waiting for a wave with my new 12 yr old friend, Cameron, who was asking what we call jellies in America.  He was actually asking about the edible kind but I said "jellyfish" and not two seconds later did I feel a tingling and see the Blue Bottle floating beside me.  My first thought was, 'that's what I get for not listening to mom.'  I guess at that moment I thought I deserved death for not listening.  Thinking back, maybe that was a little extreme.  But, I dragged my board in and told the lifeguard an iricondi had gotten me.  He look at me strangely and asked if that was some kind of snake.  After a few minutes he realized I was trying to say "Irukandji," told me I would live, and gave me some coconut oil.  All was right in the world.

Moral of the story: Always listen to your mother! 

Or maybe, all's well that ends well? Your pick :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

If you don’t like your Mondays

I know exactly what you are going through right now.  Mondays are just. plain. rough.

Ok, that was mean.  So I'll share some normal Monday mornings to make up for it.

Monday mornings summer of 2000 were spent cleaning toilets in apartments after people moved out.  I learned an incredible amount from my cleaning job – fantastic techniques and every word to Lil Kim’s songs.  Now I truly value cleaning and would challenge anyone to a toilet scrubbing contest (except watch out because it is possible to bleach a white seat brown…oops).  In 2003, I would spend Mondays sweating at the drycleaners and tagging clothes.  In 2005, my Monday was spent feeding children breakfast and watching Spongebob, which was definitely the hardest of all my jobs.  There is nothing more exhausting and rewarding than childcare, people.

A normal Monday over the past year consisted of a 3:30am wake-up followed by a snooze button fest for about 30 minutes…which Brian just LOVED.  Dragging myself to get ready and thinking about whether or not I remembered to call for a car the night before.  Oh I forgot? Cool.  I’ll just trek down the dark streets of NY with my luggage searching for a cab at the primetime for crime.  Thirty minutes later, arrive at Laguardia and experience the lovely frisking from TSA.  Quick walk to the Dunkin Donuts to grab a couple of chocolate glazed for the wait.  Hopefully there will be a weather delay and I can pick up a couple of Boston Creams.  Catch the flight, arrive at worksite, hunt down rental car shuttle, rent car, and head to the office.  Sit like a zombie for 30 minutes and try to remember my name.  And if it’s a really good Monday, I gained a few hours on the trip over and will get to work some extra time (sarcasm or not here…I’ll let you decide). 

So, I decided I needed a little pick me up for my Mondays because I was spending way too much time thinking about how terrible they were.  Thinking about how Blain has it much worse (she is at work providing power for all of the world by 3am every day) only gets me so far and then I am back to wallowing in inexcusable self pity.  Well friends, not really an easy one for me, but I decided to spend my rides to the airport catching up on email and facebook stalking you.  While waiting on my flights, I truly try to appreciate every bite of my delicious Dunkin Donuts.  And the flights over now begin with a prayer for safe travel, reading something inspirational, reminding myself that I am grateful for a job, and thinking that I will be using all these frequent flyer miles for something fun.  Does it fix my Monday Morning blues? Not entirely.  I still miss Brian, my bed, the dogs, my bed, the past weekend, my bed, friends, and my bed.  But it does HELP. 

Which gets me to the title of this…if you don’t like your Mondays, DO something about it.  Do whatever you need to in order to resist the temptation to wallow in self pity and misery.  Because that will overcome you and undoubtedly determine the course of your day, which leads to the outcome of your week, which follows you into the weekend, and starts back over on Monday.  Find value in what you are doing and do it with purpose. It may be hard to see at times, but there is intrinsic value in EVERY job out there, regardless of how big or small it may seem.  

So cheers to hoping this Monday can be better than the last!

And since Evie deserves a much better post than I had in me today, hers is still coming :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And so it continues...

For all you loyal followers out there (aka parents), I will post at some point about our luxurious cruise to the Whitsundays.  We may have had a few roommates for the trip which may or may not have looked a lot like small cockroaches...but that is for you to decide.  No worries, Mom, it really was fantastic and I didn't even look at the water...or maybe I scuba dived with sharks? I don't know.  Guess we will see.

A picture I took today gave me another topic to discuss, which I promise to keep as light as possible. Now close your eyes and envision me standing on the edge of a mountain holding up my baby niece while a choir of animals sings "The Circle of Life" Lion King style.

Now that we are clear on where this is going...

The Century Plant (next to that brilliant plantologist in the picture above) doesn't grow in NC or NY as far as I know, but Brian and I got to see these wonders when we were living in Arizona last summer.  And today, I jumped with excitement when we saw a giant one in Brisbane.  These plants live as a bush like cacti for about 25 years of their life.  In the final few months, they sprout a large stalk and flowers that drop seeds for the future generation.  Within months of them blossoming, they tip-over, uproot, and die; leaving a few offspring in the surrounding area.  About the perfect illustration of the circle of life.

Last August was the most monumental month of 2011 for me.  We said goodbye to my grandmother -- Lois Tedder "Mama T" -- on the 10th of August.  And my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their precious daughter -- Evelyn Louise "Evie" -- on the 20th.  Never have I been more reminded that through the tears, life goes on and that all is exactly as it should be.

Even though Mama T. was physically with us until August, her mind left us years before.  Alzheimer's is a painful, selfish disease that leaves many wondering how there can be a disease so evil it robs a person of their life's memories and relationships with family.  Mama T.'s departure was gradual and I'm not sure if that is better or worse for those left behind to mourn the loss.  She had accepted Jesus as her Savior decades ago and told me on a visit that she was ready to meet Him.  Which left us wondering what God was thinking as she gradually transformed into a person we didn't know.  But as time went on, we saw something amazing take place, which I will share at some point.  She lived a full and happy life and remained a mystery to us in many ways.  Mama T. never ceased to give and always put others before her and I am so grateful she passed those same qualities onto her son, my dad.  I didn't share her death with many people, so I hope you don't feel offended if this is the first you are hearing of it.  It's hard to grieve for someone you feel you truly lost many years before and even harder to share the sadness with people who never had the opportunity to meet her.  But I have been scolded by a few of you, and for leaving you out, I am sorry...and thank you.

I think I got a little off topic here and this really isn't the most organized introduction to the HAPPY story I want to share about the birth of my niece.  And I promise that all my posts will not be so...heavy.  But I think it is important to remember that saying farewell to someone is one of the most humbling, strengthening things we ever go through in life.  Along with the loss of relationships and the heartache of break-ups.  But celebrating eternal life should be one of our happiest moments.  And as one door closes, another opens.  As one century plant dies, another sprouts.  And as one soul departs, another joins.  And so it continues...

Which leads me into the arrival of the baby! And it's a GIRL?! 
I won the bet...Brian lost.  Brian lost to me in a bet.  He didn't win.  
Am I making it clear that I beat Brian? Ok good.  I'll get to the 
topic of my lovely niece next post.  Until then...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The New Normal

Lately, I feel like the word "normal" has pushed its way into my normal vocabulary...
Yesterday, my lunch contained prawns (shrimp) with the head and eyes still on; I thought "this is not normal." Every time I walk home from the grocery store and pray that my bags don't break, I think "this is not normal." And every time I make dinner and it doesn't burn, I definitely think "this is not normal...but I'll take it."  Brian gave me my daily economy lesson on what the government is calling "the new normal" -- years of change and muted economic growth.  And just last night, I sat with a friend who shared his recent heartbreak with me and we talked about how his normal will forever be different than before.  Which got me thinking...what is normal? Because eating shrimp with eyes does not seem normal to me, yet the Australians certainly dig it.

Normal for us this year is quite different than it was a year ago, much different than two years ago, and a lifetime away from three years ago.  A move to NY, husband in grad school, and halved income brings with it interesting challenges :) And it happens every now and then...moments of deep homesickness.  Feelings of anxiety as I think about how "unsettled" we are at this point in our lives.  A longing for the familiar and stability.   But health has been good and family is safe, so how can I complain?

Maybe you have gone from being a student to an employee.  Or maybe the reverse.  Maybe your old normal was a glass of wine and trashy romance novel before bed and now it's Goodnight Moon and a bottle.  Milk not wine that is.  And my heart aches for those who experienced unwanted changes to their normal -- the passing of a parent, grandparent, job loss, health issues, and the list goes on. 

I think that if I expected "normal" to always be change, I wouldn't be so surprised when life doesn't stay constant.  I have never had much of an affinity for change, but it is necessary.  And as my dad has always said, there is a lot to be said for not having a boring life.  I won't pretend to know what anyone else might be struggling with right now, but I do know that everyone has a struggle (thank you, Nicholas Sparks).  And if you happen to be facing some changes in your life -- whether positive or negative -- I hope you find strength in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says, 
"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."   

Jesus never leaves us to deal with change from our normal on our own.  And that is the beauty of a life with Him -- the opportunity to have Him lead us into the great unknown.  And if we never gave up the good things in life, how would we ever have room for the great things to come :) 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Koala Encounter

Today we spent some time with koalas and I couldn't not share these cute little fellas with you.  I considered smuggling one in my purse but decided Pepper and Paisley would probably not welcome him to the family.

This lady took a liking to Brian, but their "kisses" are bites, so unfortunately they weren't able to have a moment.

A little bored once I came into the picture.

And completely uninterested in me, so it was time for a nap.
They love their sleep...LF and KT - are y'all related? ;)

Monday, January 2, 2012

In with the New!

Happy 2012! From.......Australia!

In need of an "I <3 Australia" shirt

I am feeling refreshed, energized, and excited about this new year.  I love this time.  A time for making resolutions and thinking I will accomplish them.  A time for reflecting on the past, counting my blessings, and looking forward to the new year.

As 2011 fades into the past and 2012 becomes our present, I'm reminded of how much I value the time between endings and beginnings.  It's the way I feel every time a project at work comes to a close and I get to experience the newness of the next one.  When nothing is expected of you from the old and you aren't quite expected to know too much about the new.  Much like these early days of the new year.

Who do you want to be? What do you want to do more of? Less of? Where do you want to be in your relationships with your parents, your friends, your spouse, Christ? The beauty of right now is you get to choose...

Choose happiness.  Choose adventure.  Choose gratitude.  

Enjoy today.  Concentrate on blessings.  Remember those less fortunate.  

Be kind to those close to you.  Be kind to strangers.  Be kind to yourself.  

Ask for forgiveness.  Forgive others.  Forgive yourself.  

So as we leave 2011 behind, I plan to take away the positive, learn from my failures, and embrace the new :)

Wishing you a blessed 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution #537: Start blogging (as long as I can keep it semi-interesting)

Well, I'm doing something I NEVER thought I would do...start a blog.  The idea of putting your thoughts and feelings out for others to read scares me a bit, but lately I’ve been bored at work had the desire to keep one, so here I am.  Since this goes against everything I am naturally comfortable with, I think it's a challenge the Lord has inspired me to tackle.  I have always believed that life experiences are given to us to bring us closer to God and determine how to serve Him better.  And in recent years, I have come to understand they are also given to us to bring people into our worlds and relate to those who may be facing similar joys / struggles.  

My hope for this is that I “keep it real” and share more than just the fun things going on.  And I hope my words will be pleasing to God and convey my gratitude for the life He has blessed me with.  Maybe I’ll even include some recipes.  I know...surprise! I cook and it's apparently edible.