long overdue update

I always feel like this is one of the first things to get dropped when life gets too busy. I would love for it to be the last thing that goes unattended but it’s just not to be.

I’m still searching for my boundaries online. How much/little to share. Do you really want to know that I’m constantly fretting about everything in my life and really struggle to savor the good things in life? It’s so hard not to try to keep up with the Joneses around here and in Northern California, you need to have a small fortune to do that most of the time.

So I think I need some gratitude around here today. A few things that I’m grateful for:

*music (and how it can uplift and inspire)
*my husband (it may not always be sunny 24/7 but we’re there for each other)
*the roof over our head and full bellies.
*my eye (for photography)

What are you grateful for?

oh sweet friday.

This summer has been flying by so quickly. I can’t believe it’s already almost August! The lucky thing is my two other stepkids (two older girls) that had previous commitments in NYC during the summertime are coming in August for a few weeks and that is something I’m totally looking forward to. I can’t wait to do things around our “new” town. It’s their first time visiting us while we’ve been living in this town and hopefully, we’ll take full advantage of all the offerings.

Our town has a great list of free things to do around town — different kinds of music, outdoor movies, family festivals — all for free. That’s one of the major reasons why I wanted to move to this lovely town. Our place is close by so we can walk to all of these events. If they are fabulous, we don’t have to worry about parking difficulties. If they aren’t, we can wander our way back home pretty quickly. It’s a small, hometown kinda place I’d imagine to be in the mid-west somewhere that I don’t think any other city/town in the Bay Area has…(I haven’t really looked so it’s possible there are.) 

Something I’ve been doing more recently after a little hiatus is Geocaching. Have you ever tried it? They are rated on difficulty and terrain but all you need is a GPS device (Smartphones work too most of the time.) and you are ready to go discover fun treasures hidden where you least expect them to be.

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?

Summertime.

This summer has been wonderful so far. My stepson is visiting us and we’ve accomplished many things. A quick look back via my Instagram photos:

A little Guitar Hero.

Whipping cream for strawberry shortcake.

Beach trip (even when it’s foggy)

Our fourth wedding anniversary.

Some mini golf.

And circus shaped waffles for breakfast.

Being a stepmom.

I caught this blog post from Jessica New Fuselier and I could completely identify with it. I won’t lie…it’s difficult being a stepmom.

When I started out just dating my now-husband, he was raising his three kids full time. It was a heavy task walking onto that scene while just just being a girlfriend. I remember initially not knowing how to act but I felt comfortable taking over some of the parenting roles — helping with homework and making dinner for the family. That type of parenting stuff just came naturally to me. It was easy and supportive, just what children crave.

There were days when I was so exhausted from the full day of work but I sat at the table helping my eldest stepdaughter with her math homework for three hours! It was insane but also extremely rewarding. I knew that in this simple act, I was a parent, no matter what the official label.

About three years ago, my husband and I moved out to California leaving the kids in New York City with their mother. The distance between CA and New York City is difficult. We aim to get as much face time with them as possible…Online chatting, cell phones, and email have worked wonders and even booking cheap flights for my husband to fly back for a few days and visit them. I always try to send the occasional care package with some goodies that remind them of their time with us.

Yesterday, I was wished “Happy Mother’s Day” many times by my family and friends and my youngest stepchild was chatting with me about random things and then out of the blue said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” It made my heart swell. In his ten years (and eight knowing me), he actually remembered or identified that I was instrumental in his life too.

I don’t ever want to replace their mother. EVER. But it’s nice to know that I can still be recognized for my efforts even if I don’t have the official “I have born you Mother” title.

25 random things about me.

Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. I’m looking forward to a beautiful weekend of weather and family and I just can’t wait.

In the meantime, here are twenty five random things about me:

1. I’m left-handed.
2. I was almost kidnapped when I was younger but I talked the guy out of it.
3. My eyes are hazel — but some days they look green and some days they look brown — usually depends on what I’m wearing.
4. If I could wear flip-flops every day, I would.
5. I’ve never been able to stand canned tuna fish sandwiches…the smell repulses me …but I love fresh tuna steaks. Go figure!
6. I went to college in Hawaii (for part, at least)…and everyone thought I was going there to major in volleyball and sunbathing but I found my interest in photography there.
7. I love anything and everything Pixar. I have all the movies on DVD and one summer, I went to McDonald’s to get all the Finding Nemo Happy Meal toys.
8. I have a tattoo of Dr. Seuss’ “…red fish, blue fish” on my ankle. Partially because I’m a pisces and partially because I’m a kid at heart.
9. My gall bladder is no more. I also have a couple of scars on my belly from the laproscopic surgery.
10. I love my sleep. Don’t bother me or you will be injured.
11. My nickname, Smilez, came about in a southbound car going to San Jose on Highway 101 in the pouring rain. My friend Jeff said, “Your nickname should be Smiley since you smile so much.” It was shortened to Smilez a couple days later.
12. I think wearing makeup is nice but it takes a lot of effort to do so I end up only wearing it once in awhile.
13. When I was younger, I wanted braces so bad, I would fashion a retainer out of a paperclip. It, of course, was worthless….
14. I’m really anal when it comes to my magazines. I need to read them before anyone else does. I think this stems from when my sisters would steal my YMs and Sassys and do the quizzes in them before I got to them.
15. I have two favorite kinds of apples: Braeburn and Honeycrisp. They are always crunchy and crispy.
16. I didn’t like tomatoes until college and recently, I’m starting to not like them again.
17. My all-time favorite vegetable is artichokes. Yum, yum, yum.
18. I miss the days in the darkroom putting the prints through the developer, stop and fixer. The smells, the dark room with just barely enough light to work in…you could’ve left me there all weekend long.
19. I have always wanted to open a bakery with my cupcakes and sour cream twists…
20. I like flying in airplanes — it’s always exciting.
21. I love the aftertaste you get when you eat pickles.
22. I am certified to scuba dive but at this point would have to refresh my memory since it’s been awhile since I’ve gone.
23. I could stare at maps all day long.
24. I was named after a James Taylor song — “Sarah Maria” –but my parents changed the middle name to something different because they didn’t want their friends realizing they named me after a song.
25. I love See’s Candies.

Any fun plans this weekend?

catch up and focus

I know there are many many things that I mean to write here every day and then my day gets away from me and it’s another morning. It seems I’ve been losing focus with my work on flickr too. It’s not that I haven’t been taking photographs. Actually on the contrary, I’ve been taking at least a photo a day. It may be with my phone instead of my “good” camera but I’m still keeping up with my 366. Instagram for Android is my friend (except for the part where the flickr integration is not there).

Many many other things on the horizon but I’m going to make more of an effort to write a bit more here…I have some catch up posts that I’ve been meaning to write and maybe if I can get a rhythm going here, I’ll start to get caught up. Or maybe just start with a clean slate. We’ll figure it out together.

How are you doing?

For me.

As part of choosing focus as my one word for 2012, I thought long and hard about what needed focus. I came up with ME. I sacrifice a lot in my daily life for others but what about me? I do my co-worker duties, I do my wifely duties but what about me?

This month I’ve been thinking about what is important to me that I want to pursue and focus on in 2012.

I have taken the first step in the first week of January signing up for Zumba class twice a week. The classes give me an hour of sweaty, fun, enjoyable dancing (even with my two left feet and very little grace). The feeling when you step into the room and just start doing the steps. As the classes go on, you get to know the playlist, what song is coming next, and what steps are coming up. It’s a fantastic feeling. This hour is for focusing on my health. For me.

When that hour is complete, I feel energized and ready to take on the world.


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