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My 10 Favorite Things…

I thought if Oprah can have a “favorite things” – well – why can’t I? Why not share a few things I love that make my moments more enjoyable? Things that make me feel good.

So, here are just a few of my favorite things…

1) Mascara
I have no lashes, seriously. Nada. Nothing. But, ever since I began using Arbonne Triple Action Mascara – voila – I have lashes! Now, my lashes aren’t like Brooke Shields, but they are fuller and healthier than ever. Also, Arbonne products aren’t full of animal bi-products, parabens and other junk. Runs around $30, but lasts me at least three months.7904.lg

2) Bronzer
I am pale white and living in sunny California so I need a bit of color without looking like one of the “OC Housewives.” The Arbonne Bronzer came to the rescue! My skin looks bright and healthy without the orange. I also feel good about not putting a bunch of road kill on my skin. Love, love this bronzer!

3) Powder Foundation
12007How could I leave out Jane Iredale’s Mineral Foundation (powder form)? Never. This mineral powder offers coverage without causing my skin to become greasy or clogged. I don’t have much time to primp, so I spend an entire 60 seconds with this powder. It’s also got a 20 SPF and paraben free. The refill runs about $40.

4) Dry Shampoo
Dirty hair? Me too. No problem. Considering I only wash my hair every three days (or so), I have become addicted to dry shampoo – TRESemmé. It comes in a foam or spray and runs about $5 a bottle.

5) My Electrolux Ergorapido 2-in-1 Stick Vac/Handheld Vacuum
This lightweight little vacuum is a Godsend with kids and my hardwood floors. Have company coming in 10 minutes? No problem. And, for just $99 – the price is well worth it!

6) Vino
How could life be complete without wine, you’re thinking? My sentiments, exactly. I love good wine and paired with good food it is even better. My two favorite chardonnays – Rombauer ($30 per bottle) and La Crema ($18). Yummy.

yummy latte.

yummy latte.

7) Favorite Coffee or Espresso
Starbucks. Picking up a coffee is a big treat (in moderation, of course). For most people, they either prefer Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Me? I’m a Bucks girl. My drink of choice is a grande non-fat mocha latte with two pumps. A delicious hot treat in my EcoOne reusable cup.

8) Purses & Bags
Laptop Bag
Michael Kors Laptop Tote. This gorgeous handcrafted leather bag is the perfect fit for my Mac, iPhone, folders and other goodies. It’s a bit on the pricey side at $300, but well worth it for me since the straps on my last cheap bag snapped and almost ruined my computer.

MK Crossbody Purse.

MK Crossbody Bag.

Little purse on the go?
No problem with my Michael Kors Crossbody Bag, which comes in handy when I need to be hands free. It’s durable and priced fairly reasonable ($120) for a quality designer bag. (If you want the inside scoop on this purse, check out my post entitled Purse Breakup).

9) T-shirts
I freely admit that I live in these soft, comfy cotton T-shirts. The Gap carries my comfy cotton T-shirts – appropriately named Favorite Short-sleeve Crew T. $14 each.

GAP Favorite Tee...so soft and comfy!

GAP Favorite Tee…so soft and comfy!

10) Workout Clothes
Being budget conscious like most people, I can’t afford to spend a million dollars on good, moisture-wicking workout clothes. Both Old Navy (GoDry Active wear brand) and Target (Champion brand) offer some pretty decent workout clothes that provide some of the same features in those more expensive brands.

So, those are my top 10 faves, however, I am positive this list is not inclusive of all my favorites, but I will update the list periodically. And just in case you’re wondering I was not paid a dime to share all about my faves – just want to make your moments in life a little sweeter.

Now, how about? Do you have some favorite things you’d like to share? I would love to hear!

”Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”
– Christopher Germer

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Lessons From ‘My Mini Me’ & Furby

Its eyes popped open from sleep mode like the creepy clown in the episode of the “Twilight Zone.” It was now in sassy mode.

“OMG.”

“I’m Lilly.”

“Ohhhgooohhhh.”

I’m describing a little furry gadget that is one of the hottest toys of 2012 – a Furby.  My older daughter received one as a gift this last Christmas.

Meet Lilly.

Meet Lilly.

It dances, speaks both English and Furbish, laughs, makes vomiting sounds, sucks your finger, taunts, grunts, farts…You can even set its personality: evil, nice, sassy and social.

My daughter is enamored with her new electronic toy. Me? Well, not so much.

THERE IS NO OFF BUTTON. Let me repeat that again: NO OFF BUTTON.

I admit to placing locking “Lilly” in the garage and the guest bathroom after a few hours of her it verbally harassing, farting and puking. Can I go to jail for that?

The Mack Daddy of Toy Manuals
A few days ago, my enthused eight-year-old designed and created this 11-page pamphlet/manual all on her own:

furbycover 2

I was in awe with the structure and content of the manual for an eight-year-old. Not only did she design a jazzy, creative cover, here’s a breakdown of the different sections in proper chronological sequence:

-Table of Contents
-Getting to Know Your Furby
-Taking Care of Your Furby
-What to Do With Your Furby
-Shaping His/Her Personality
-Furby Apps
-Furby Names
-Glossary
-About the Person Who Made This

The Priceless Bathroom Cleaning Document
As we flipped through the entire manual together, I flashed back to my childhood and all the little organizational and instructional documents I would create and distribute to family members – often posting them on the refrigerator.

I grew up in a home that was unstructured, messy – and to put it gently – dirty. Needing a sense of control in a rather chaotic environment, I strived for neatness and cleanliness in my room and common surroundings.

I’ve spoken about my first childhood bedroom in a previous post – Bedroom Evolution, which gives you a better idea of the importance of my control and space issues. To elaborate, you could white glove my room to a “Mommy Dearest” level of approval. I loved (still do) Mr. Clean (not just for his sexy bald head and bicep muscles; even though I think he’s been gay for quite a while).

Every Saturday morning around age 11, I began cleaning our family bathroom – without being asked by my parents, or even being paid.

When I was ready to transition to a different household responsibility at age 13, I passed the job down to my younger sister. Hence, I had created a detailed instructional sheet entitled “How to Clean the Bathroom,” which I happily performed a demo cleaning for her to observe.

My mother thought this was priceless and recently mentioned she had the “bathroom cleaning document” tucked away.

The Greatest Glossary, Ever
I teasingly call my older daughter my “mini me.” Yes, I know she is her own unique individual, but I am so very proud of the girl she has grown into over the past eight years. She really is fun, entertaining and smart like her mommy (wink, wink).

In addition to the impressive “Furby Manual,” one section stood out to me on page 10 – the Glossary (or as she spells it Glossory).

She crafted definitions for key words, which she selected as: imeadently (immediately), personality, responsibility, dislikes, communicate and Furby (of course!):

furbyglossary 1

This is an eight-year-old’s interpretation of important words that we use not only in our everyday vernacular, but definitions we forget as grown ups

We sometimes forget the simplistic, raw meaning and impact behind our words. As adults we’ve built up walls and judgements. Children have the magical, uncanny and  unintentional ability to bring us as grown ups back to reality – even if it’s via a small electronic toy.

Looking at the words in this glossary I thought of how I often demand things immediately. How my personality is often representative of my attitude. That responsibility done well is often completed with diligence. My dislikes are usually very evident – even though I may not want to admit it out loud. And I communicate by talking and sometimes yelling – especially when nobody is listening.

I’m taking note of the lessons. My eyes are wide open (much like Lilly).

My "mini me."

My “mini me.”

The final page entitled “About the person who made this” reads:

“When I first got a Furby (from Hasbro) I was so excited the Furbys go threw this cool thing (explode) when they first come to your home and I hope you enjoy your Furby as much as I enjoy mine.”

Priceless. Give me a call, Hasbro. My daughter can teach you a lesson or two. I learn from her each and every day.

What “priceless” lessons do you learn from your children? Do you recall any fond memories as a child that your parents still cherish or reminisce about today? What are the raw meanings behind your words? I’d love to hear!

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The Beauty of the Deal

“Would you take $25 for the couch?”

“No, I marked it $40.”

She walked around the couch while her eyes scanned the piece of furniture. She was searching for a flaw of some kind. She needed some quick bargaining leverage. Other cars were pulling up to the sale.

“You know, I did notice a small mark on the side,” she said pointing to a small scuff.

The man bent down to try and rub off the small mark with his finger – with no such luck.

Sighing, he stood up, shrugged his shoulders and replied, “How about $35?”

“Since I’ll have to buy furniture cleaner, would you be willing to go $30?” she asked.

He relented. “OK, $30.”

She would have paid $35.

And that my friends, is how haggling, negotiating – wheeling and dealing works. My mom is a master at getting “the deal.” The deal she wants. She is masterful at negotiating and loves to play “the game.”

She is also a pro at the “wait and see.” Meaning: if no one else buys it at the end of the sale, she’ll leave her phone number for the price she’s willing to pay. The sellers almost always calls her.

She has the “DB” (drive by) system down perfectly as well. Driving extremely slow, or even making a dead stop, she would scan the garage sale for any key items that caught her eye. The DB allows her to hit as many sales in a short amount of time.

In addition, she would pre-determine those garage sales we would pass (known as “passers”) – those are the chronic garage sale sellers that have a sale every weekend. “Oh, they just have junk,” my mom would explain.

I’ve watched my mom work deals my entire life as a chronic “garage saler.” As a family low on funds, we lived from items purchased at garage sales. And I mean pretty much everything – mattresses, bras (gross), underwear (really gross), home decor, appliances, clothes, shoes…

My mom – the professional garage saler.

My mom’s theory: “Why would I pay full price when I can get it for less?” To this day, she loathes paying full price for anything.

I grew up nearly every Saturday morning (when I wasn’t working), going to garage sales with my mom. When I became a teen, it grew more humiliating to be digging through – well, frankly – someone else’s junk. Oh, and the smell can be down-right disgusting. We’d stop for donuts and my mom would strategically map out the garage sales. Our car slowly filling up with someone else’s crap.

It was a beautiful thing.

However, my mom did not always work alone. She had a partner in crime so to speak – my grandpa. He was a wealthy, retired oil man. You wouldn’t know it while working garage sales with my mom, though. He intentionally wore wholly jeans and drove his old beat-up truck (while his shiny Lincoln Continental sat in a large garage with his many other cars).

The two partners in crime – my grandpa and mom.

Like my mom (his daughter), he also loved the game of negotiating. And played the “poor old man” character. He would even limp a little. He’d pick up a few trinket-type items. He also loved chatting with buyers and sellers throughout the morning. He might even take a wiz in someone’s garbage can.

Another beautiful thing.

In particular, I remember going to those garage sales that had the dark room off to the side. These rooms were separate from the outside sale area and usually smelled of burning incense. A typical type garage sale held by a college student or hippie. My mom and grandpa would quietly venture into these rooms on occasion. I visited these rooms a few times, and oh, the things I saw…pipes, bongs, “artistic” pictures and statues of naked people, boxes of pornographic videos and books. Lots of eclectic items that had been banished to the “dark side.”

Ahhhh, the beauty of human curiosity.

The whole concept of garage sales came up recently when I was chatting with a friend. We were discussing how our beds were a sanctuary and refuge. I explained that every time I lay my head on the pillow, I am so appreciative. And not just because I have a bed, but I have a new mattress and pillows.

If anyone has slept on an overused mattress with springs popping into your back and lumps under your body then you know the pure enjoyment when you sleep on a new, good mattress. I experienced the feeling of a new mattress for the first time at the age of 32. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

So, for 32 years of my life I slept on old, used mattresses. My mom would say that they were “perfectly fine.” But I discovered: new can be good. After I got a taste of the new mattress, I thought why stop here? So, I went to one of the major department stores and asked the clerk for the most luxurious, softest towel they sell. I had never had a new towel before. I bought two.

When my mom comes to visit, I offer her my best towels. I know in my heart there’s a mixture of pride that her daughter can afford to buy new items. I also know that she’d love it if I told her how I got a great buy, or how I negotiated a deal with the clerk for the towels.

In my own odd way, I appreciate those moments of garage saling with my family. I believe this to be the wonderment of the human connection and interaction related to peoples’ stuff. (See my post Purse Break Up that covers a similar topic). The truth of the matter is that I value each and every item I own – new and used – as there is usually a story to tell, or associated memory. Ironically, my story of the new towels was that there was no deal, no haggling.

That was the beauty of it.

My mom still goes to garage sales almost every Saturday. But now she applies her negotiation skills in a new way. Being retired and active in the local community at several local charities, including the soup kitchen, her church, thrift store and women’s groups, she often supplies much-needed furniture and other items for needy families. My mom is doing what she does best, which is negotiating the deal. But not for her own family – for someone else’s.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Are you a wheeler and dealer, or have a family or friend that is a pro at negotiating? How do you feel about new, or used stuff?

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Getting Back Up Again

Fact 1: I’ve broken and torn the ligaments in my right foot twice in an eight-year period.

The first time was just six weeks before my wedding at the age of 30. I was working my corporate job in LA, grabbed lunch, returned to my office, and bam, I couldn’t’ walk. I don’t recall tripping or twisting my foot.

As a bride to be, I envisioned myself limping down the aisle with crutches, and the crowd gasping, “Oh, look at the lovely, yet, poor crippled bride.”

My dream wedding shoes — almost 11 years later. Safely stowed in my memorabilia box.

I was determined to walk down the aisle in my designer LA-bought white, satin dream wedding shoes. With more than a month of intense physical therapy; being chauffeured around (right driving foot); and tears, lots of tears and stress, I remember bringing my shoes to the doctor to get approval on the height two days before my wedding. With the green light, I became the beautiful bride, shoes and all.

Half-way through the wedding reception my foot began to swell. I quickly elevated it on a chair at the head table, and covertly slipped on my “back-up ‘b’ shoes” that had a much lower heel, but were not nearly as beautiful.

Cluts or Just Coincidence?
The second time I injured my right foot was just eight weeks prior to the birth of my second child. Now, you’re thinking there’s some type of pattern here, right? Okay, I’m a cluts.

Coincidentally, I injured it while at a client meeting within the exact same area of my old corporate office building. While walking with my clients, I fell off the curb as I crossed a busy intersection – doing a rather not so graceful “Kung Fu Panda” side roll with the contents of my purse spilling into the crosswalk – at four-months pregnant. Thank God, the baby was healthy – me on the other hand – not so much.

Picking up a trend here?

Once again, I went though more than a month of physical therapy, stress, tears, repeat, repeat. My biggest concern: how would I carry a newborn on crutches in my two-story home? Oh vey.

When on crutches, I remember driving those motorized scooters around during our weekly shopping trips. Yep, I took out a few store displays, but once I got the hang of the turning and braking I was ready to roll.

Being a “type a” personality, it drove me crazy not to be able to do my normal routines – not just playing with my daughter, but cleaning. I love cleaning. My rubber gloves (from Williams Sonoma) and my lightweight vacuum are like close friends who don’t call, or post their kids’ photos on Facebook (ask anyone that knows me well). Believe it or not, I actually figured a way to vacuum on crutches using my body weight to leverage the cleaner in a back and forth motion. So sad, I know.

After reading magazines and books for two months, I began to grow depressed. I even wrote myself a “Top 10” list of the positives of being injured to pull myself out of the darkness:

1. Sarah gives me a bath!
2. Daddy helps mommy more
3. Reading more — books and magazines
4. Catching up on photo albums
5. Able to stop and smell the roses (more)
6. Bubble bath is almost gone
7. Greater appreciation for friends
8. Realizing “superwoman” is a myth
9. More grateful for my health…
and
10. Motorized vehicles are fun

Again, I prevailed with the support of family and friends. Recovered, delivered the goods (baby no. 2). “Touchdown,” as my husband cheered in the delivery room.

Genetic Clutsisim
Fact 2: My two daughters have broken and/or fractured (sometimes multiple breaks at once) their arms at least eight times (I stopped counting after six) in a year.

My older daughter fell on a toy in her room hitting her nightstand; and then fell at school twice while playing. My younger daughter fell on the playground at school; and then a few months later slipped off our neighbor’s trampoline.

Are you sensing the same trend here again? “Clutsisim” is hereditary, I guess.

My older daughter’s self portrait sketched with her non-dominant hand.

Through the repeated doctor visits, x-rays, doses of medicine, helping them dress, showering, brushing their teeth and having to take those jaw-dropping looks and gasps from other parents was almost too much to bear. Most days all I could do was love on them a little longer through the tears. Read them an extra story at bedtime. Dote on them more.

Being injured we also experienced an inkling of what it is like to have some form of a permanent disability. Just like I had mastered my vacuuming on crutches, I also challenged my daughters to try performing some of their everyday tasks. One striking example is the self portrait my daughter drew with her non-dominant hand. She faced her own disability head on. I was in awe.

However, I feel like those challenges were learning moments as a parent and human being. During my stints of being temporarily disabled, I couldn’t help but reflect on how we, as parents need to take the time to be human, and allow ourselves to be taken care of – even if we do take out a few store displays along the way.

“Only when I fall do I get up again.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Do you have a story of a challenge that you thought was impossible to overcome? Or was there a moment in your life that you needed to take time to have a “me party?” (If you’ve watched the newest “The Muppets” movie, you’ll get the inference here).

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Purse Breakup

My 1976 Holly Hobby keepsake held by my oldest daughter.

I dug out the receipt from my purse as the woman behind the counter called a manager. I was performing the long-time ritual of the store return. I was returning something I had bought on a rather compulsive whim – a long-adored Coach purse. As she inspected the purse (with the tags on), I felt compelled to explain that I felt OK returning the purse because we had not built a true relationship yet so it really wasn’t a break up. After all, I hadn’t even put my belongings inside. The woman laughed and thought that was rather clever (as did I). But wasn’t it so true? We place so much importance on things or objects.

Childhood Keepsakes
I experienced this human phenomenon of objects and their significant connection just a few years ago with my oldest daughter. In my nightstand drawer I keep several treasured items – my journals, special cards and some child-hood keepsake trinkets. One of those keepsakes is a Holly Hobby comb and mirror set. On the front is a picture of Holly Hobby standing in a maroon colored dress wistfully smelling a flower with the words “May happiness walk with you…” The small set has a mini comb inside with a mirror – smaller than the size of my palm. Even the year of the set’s production “1976” remained clearly printed on the back. One day my daughter saw the comb set in my drawer and asked if she could have it. I replied, “Maybe someday.” She disappointedly shut the drawer.

For years after, she continued to ask me if she could have the set. I tried to explain how special the set is to me and that when she was older I would give it to her. Finally one day, I gave her the set. She promised to take good care of it and put it in her nightstand drawer.

I remember exactly where I bought this mirror and comb set. When I was nine or 10-years-old, I used to go with a group of my little girlfriends and we’d take our allowance money to go shopping. The store was filled with huge displays of Hello Kitty and Holly Hobby toys, stickers, plastic gizmos and trinkets galore. It was a child’s dream come true for kid stuff. I counted out each dime and nickel until the set was placed neatly in the brown paper Hallmark bag. I happily trotted off with my friends to the Orange Julius restaurant next door that served the greasiest hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. We would sit at a table and spread out our goods to see what we bought. These were the times when we had no worries or cares as children.

Meaning Behind Our Things
To reinforce how important “things” are to me – when we moved into our current home years back I created special memory boxes for my husband and I. I labeled each box with our first name and the words “memorabilia.” I placed some of my trophies, my high school graduation cap, certificates and other special items in the box. I separated these boxes from the garage storage boxes and now they sit – gradually filling up with items over the years in the top of our master closet.

The stark white boxes intrigued my elder daughter. She was dying to see what were in these mysterious boxes. I finally opened the boxes and went through the items with her – telling a little story about each object. Her eyes grew especially large when I showed her my “writing trophy.” This was my first trophy I earned as Journalism Student of the Year my senior year of high school. I told the story of how I came from a family of non-academics (blue collar workers), and that I wrote for the high school newspaper covering controversial stories for the school. I was nominated as journalism student of the year and was competing against straight-A students that were bound for Ivy League schools. Deep inside, I felt like I didn’t stand a chance. The night of the student awards came and I stood side-by-side my fellow competitors. Then my name was announced as Journalism Student of the Year. My daughter soaked up every word. She asked when she could have her own memorabilia box. I felt guilty I hadn’t thought of it before.

When telling my husband about how we tend to build relationships with items and how important these “things” are to us. He quipped, “It must be a girl thing.” I immediately thought of his father who had passed away several years ago and the sock incident. A few years after being married, I decided that I would sort through my husband’s sock drawer and throw out all those mismatched, hole-ridden socks. I threw several pair away. When I told my husband later that day, he asked, “You didn’t throw out the ones with the red line in the toe, right? Those were my dad’s socks.” Uh-oh. I quickly rummaged through the trash and retrieved the priceless socks. I reminded my husband of this story, and he agreed that as humans we tend to build “relationships” or develop this intimate connection with things or objects.

The ‘Memory-Thing’ Connection

So as I stood at the store counter returning my luxurious purse, I hadn’t the opportunity to create a memory, or build that connection. Maybe if “we” would have had the chance to get to know each other, it might have made into my memorabilia box. However, I feel like I’ve gained a greater lesson – it’s not the importance of the object, but the memory associated with our things.

Of course, both of my daughters now have their own memory boxes that are slowly expanding to include special pictures, crafts and little objects. Hopefully, they can share stories with their children of how these things have meaning to them – although I know they’ll also have a few breakups along the way.

Sidenote: I did end up purchasing a beautiful Michael Kors Crossbody Flight Bag (right). We’re in a very serious relationship now.

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