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Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Instagram Cake

I'm so happy it's March. I'm this happy...
A photo posted by Stephanie Sikorski (@steph_sikorski) on


And while I'm happy to say goodbye to February I still can't shake last month's memory of the Valentine Mother-Blunder. You see, I kinda, sorta, a lil' forgot about Valentines Day this year.

I've also forgotten to pick a kid up from daycare (twice!), forgotten about the Tooth Fairy on multiple occasions, and missed a birthday party (not my own kids though - so there's that!).

I don't remember a lot. In fact, I usually only know what comes next. There's never planning ahead in my life. There's "Whew! That's done. Now, what's next?"

A dear friend once said she was impressed by my ability for such an active capacity.
I'm sure she meant it as a compliment.

People ask me, "What was the score to the game last night?"
I don't know.
Or "Where's the field trip scheduled?"
I don't know.
I know the important stuff, like where my kids are and what's for dinner but other details often, and regularly, go unknown.

And the way I see it, I have 2 choices:
I can pretend like I know what's up and give fake answers.
But, that makes me feel icky and shallow.
or
I can be real, admit I don't know what's going on and risk looking aloof, or worse, looking like an overworked, in over her head, stressed out mother of five.

So, when it was the morning of Valentine's Eve and I was walking out the door for another day at the office, my 10 year old looked at me and said, "I need Valentines and treats for 25 tomorrow. ok?"

NO! um, no. It's totally NOT okay but can I break her heart? Can I drop the ball? Will I be able to sleep at night knowing she'll go to her class party empty handed?
NONONONO.

No I cannot. I grabbed my lil sweet child by the shoulders, looked her square in the eye and said as firmly and un-stressed as I could, "You must go tell your father exactly what you need and he will pick it up at the store. ok? Exactly, child!"

She nodded her head and placed her trust in my care.

When I arrived home from work she was at the table writing her Valentines. Score 2 for Daddy who saved the day. I looked over her shoulder at her class list and kissed her sweet head. My heart felt warm knowing a crisis had been averted. That is until she turned and asked, "What treats are you gonna make Mom?"

(insert braking noise)

"Sweetie, I thought Daddy was gonna get your treats"
"No, Mommy, he only bought me these"
"Darling ...."

Expecting a verbal lashing, or worse the onset of a nervous breakdown, husband assures me that he did communicate with the 10 year old and she assured him she only needed Valentines. He swears no treats were discussed. And alas, I am on my own in this room mother crisis because darling Daddy is on his way out to work for the evening. He kisses my cheek and leaves as I'm left standing there in my stocking feet, surrounded by 4 hungry children. My blood pressure rises exponentially.

As luck would have it I found 2 boxes of cake mix in the pantry and determine to make cupcakes. The fact that I have no cupcake liners, no icing and no time to change out of my work clothes are irrelevant. I find butter and powdered sugar and I preheat the stove. 

3 hours later I post these on Instagram.
A photo posted by Stephanie Sikorski (@steph_sikorski) on

Kids are in bed, I finally sit down, prop my feet and decide to relax and unwind with my Facebook feed. Turns out I'm not the only Mother who forgot Valentine's Day. My feed is full of oh-my-gosh-I-forgot updates aaannnnnd since misery loves company I feel so glad that l'm not alone in less than perfect life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The BEST Writing Advice Ever. And I mean ever!



It was just in the last year or two that, thanks to the advice of Jeff Goins I was able to finally admit that I was a writer.
Which was a super hard thing to do - even though I had a weekly column in our local newspaper,
and was a regular contributor to a women's ministry website,
and was asked to coauthor a memoir,
while blogging. 

But I did. I took the very scary leap from begrudgingly, sheepishly admitting I like to piddle with words to "Yes, I'm a writer."

And for anyone who's ever longed
dreamed
imagined
or wished
to write, you know that is a very scary admission.

But I did it. And I'm a writer.


However, last year I went to work full time. I resigned from the paper. And for other reasons, the book project lost it's momentum. But I blog.

Except I don't much anymore because, well you know; 5 kids, work, dog, cat, laundry, menu planning, basketball games .... life.

And all that living - which, I fully admit is a completely awesome life - was causing me to feel angst every time it kept me from writing.
How can I be a writer who doesn't write?

So I read up on how to balance living and writing and here's some of the advice I followed:
  • read everyday
  • write everyday
  • read your own writing everyday
  • keep a journal
  • follow 5 new people everyday
  • comment on at least 5 new blogs
  • use Instagram to promote your blog
  • answer your Twitter followers
  • promote your best blogs

um, if I can't even find the .5 nanoseconds it takes to fire up my laptop for the purpose of writing HOW THE HECK AM I GOING TO FIND THE TIME TO DO ANY OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED ADVICE??

So, honestly for the last 6 months not only have I felt frustrated that I'm not writing much, I feel like a failure because I can't even do the little things other writers have found successful when managing work, family and creating.

But then! Then hubs sent me this:








and I discovered the BEST writing advice I have ever, in  my whole entire life read:

The link in the above tweet is for Glennon Melton's Momastery blog Forever Tries from January 19, 2014. It reads, in part:
"If your hands are too full to grab that idea out of the air- let it go. To have your hands full is a ludicrous blessing. So if you must- if you must let go of the urgent to tend to the important then do it, you lucky dog. Let it go- smile and let that idea or opportunity pass onto another sister knowing that more will come. There is always more on its way – more opportunities, more ideas, more love. Think abundance- always think abundance. Belief in abundance is the source of all generosity and peace. Know that there is enough. Know that you are enough. Know that you have enough. Enough time, enough talent, enough love."
This? This made me cry.

Sobbed, really because I can't count my comments, and write everyday, and promote myself on Twitter. So instead of mourning the words I'm not getting down - and subsequently taking my frustration out on my family - I have the best writing advice yet; Let it go.

Because it makes sense doesn't it? If I l'm meant to write but can't now why do I believe I'll lose the words? What if there are enough words? What if there is enough to say? What if I'll get to it? Thinking of it this way compels me to agree with Glennon. She goes on to say,

"You can't miss your boat. It's yours. It stays docked till you're ready. The only boat you can miss is someone else's."

And suddenly caring for my family isn't the thing that keeps me from writing. It's the thing I get to do until I get to the writing!

Please, please read Glennon's blog. I bet you'll be very blessed to do so.

And p.s. I bet this theory applies to more than writing. I bet if you're wrestling with that thing that you long to do too, this notion of seeing your life as abundant, rather than focusing on what you're missing out on, might agree with you as well. Maybe generosity is real. Maybe, just maybe, there is enough for you too.

What do you think?


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Eve Eve


Tomorrow is New Years Eve.
Tomorrow I will celebrate as I've done for many, many New Years. 

But, I suspect, this New Years will be a little different.  For the first time, in a long time, I'm happy for the turning of the calendar. This year I'm not kissing the old goodbye with a raised middle finger and a "Bite me!" attitude, as much as I am opening my arms to embrace the new. I have a sense of hope for the new year. Dread is not my party companion this NYE and that is a good feeling.

New jobs are in store for us this year. And with that who knows what else? New friends? A new locale? Anything is possible.

Anything is possible! I can say that this year with confidence but you should know, I didn't say that last year, or the year before, or even the year before that. 

So?
So! That means things change. Things can change. As they should. As they do. We change: physically, mentally. Jobs change. Friendships change. The day changes to night. The winter to spring. All of it changes.

So to believe "it will never change" isn't true. To get stuck in the dreary disbelief that nothing will ever change, this is how it will always be, therefore I have no hope, isn't true.  At all.  Everything changes and as long as that remains we can always have hope. 

So until you get a New Years eve worthy of a fine celebration, keep looking forward.  Move toward your hopes and dreams. Don't stop. Because things do shift, change will come, and hope doesn't disappoint. 

Bye 2014! Hello 2015! 

True story- the one NYE when I was lonely and feeling friendless is how our Family New Years Eve party began. You can read about it here 

Also, for more on how to get past 2014 check out Donald Miller's post Creating Your Life Plan pdf here: http://creatingyourlifeplan.com/start-life-over.pdf

Saturday, December 20, 2014

43 Year Old Man Graduates while his Wife & 5 Kids Applaud




3 years and 4 months ago my husband returned to college.
Last night we attended a reception and ceremony as he received his Preservice Teaching Award and Summa Cum Laude honors. 
Today he will graduate.
And I, and our 5 children, will don our best garb, charge up the camera and travel to the ceremony.

There I will cry.
Nay, I will weep tears of joy and tears of relief as this journey has culminated into the 
biggest finish line of our adult lives.

I wrote about his decision to return to school here, and everyday since that decision was made, I have done some of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I've humbled myself in ways I never imagined I would. And I watched as others passed over us with their opportunities and their things and their purchasing power. 

While I'd like to say it was a breeze to do what we felt we were supposed to do, I can't. Instead if I'm honest I will tell you there were times it was awful. Taxing. My soul wore thin. A lot. I even, embarrassingly admit that I thought about giving up on the whole notion of supporting this midlife reorganization.
There were times when the words, "Please stop, this is too hard. I was wrong. I can't do this with you" would hoover in my heart, but never could I get the words to fall from my lips.

Don't our dreams deserve perseverance? Wouldn't I want his support if the roles were reversed? And didn't I willingly take his hand in mine and decide to go for it?

If the way through to our dreams was harder than I thought, it wasn't the dream's fault. It wasn't even the road's fault. It was mine. Maybe I didn't have the gumption and bravery to see it through.

My how weak I really am.




Except I'm not. I'm not weak at all.
I'm human.
And it's graduation.
And my baby did it! And he did with honors.


He did it.
We did it.
We made it.

So we're all gonna get dressed up today. And take pictures.
And eat special food.
And laugh.
And cry.

Because we didn't quit.

We did it.

We can do hard things. And, to me, that is exactly  what the title of this blog is about; writing a better story with everyday, every opportunity and every journey. So Baby, let's make this epic! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Party Parable

(image from here)

For #TBT I found this post I'd written almost 3 years ago. It's not too far of a stretch of our our Annual New Years Eve Party became a tradition at our home.

Also, I've come a long way since 3 years ago.



THE HOLIDAY
Original Post: February 2012
It was the most special time of  the year. It was time for the annual Holiday.

People from all over the world gathered with friends and family to have great celebrations on this day. No one worked on the Holiday and children did not attend school. No matter your race or religion, no mind if you were single, married, young or old, everybody looked forward to celebrating the Holiday. There were parties, fireworks, special feasts, many flowers and parades for the Holiday.

But for one woman the Holiday was not going to be very special.
She did not have many friends.
No one sent her Holiday greetings.
No friends invited her to a party.

She had no plans to celebrate the biggest Holiday of the year.
She had no plans to be merry.

Sad that a most important day would pass uncelebrated, the woman developed a plan. Surely, she thought, there must be others like her. Other uninvited people with no plans to celebrate the Holiday. Maybe she mused, she could have a Holiday party and invite the uninvited.

So she sent out the invitations that read:
"If you were not invited to a Holiday party you are invited to my Holiday party. Please bring yourself, your family or any friends you may have who were also formerly uninvited."
Not knowing if anyone would actually come the woman watched anxiously for replies. Each day she would check her box for acceptance letters. At first no one replied to her invitation. Then she received two regrets, "Thank you for the invitation but we have other Holiday plans". Forlorn and sad the woman worried she would have no one with which she could celebrate the Holiday.

Nonetheless, she made preparations for her party. She planned a delicious menu, organized entertainment and cleaned her home preparing for guests she may not have.

Then one day a lone reservation came to her box. And then another. And even another. Before she knew it many different people accepted her invitation. She was thrilled! What an eclectic group of people she would hostess!

When the Holiday came everyone was in good spirits and gathered merrily around food and drink. Men shook hands and women whispered compliments. New friendships were made as the children scurried around nibbling on candies and chocolate cookies. Laughter rang from every corner of the house. The Holiday party of the uninvited was a smashing success!

You see at this party it didn't matter who you were, what you did, where you lived or what you believed. All that mattered was that you were invited. At the party everyone was included and that made everyone happy. Even the woman. For now didn't have just a few friends. The woman was very happy to have many friends.






Luke 14:7-15 "...he went on to tell a story. The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be -and experience- a blessing with great favor returned on you at the Great Banquet..." (excerpted and edited from The Message)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Monday - 12/15

Menu  Monday!

It's the time in my week where I look at the calendar, take a deep breath, plot, plan and organize the Tribe. I can see we've 3 basketball games, 3 hair appointments, 2 dentist appointments and 2 potlucks to contribute to. And that's just the next 4 days. Wait till this weekend when it's gonna be all super cra-zeee. It is GrAdUaTiOn weekend for the husband o' mine! (more on that special occasion later!)

So it's not fancy this week.
You're not gonna be impressed.
But maybe, just maybe, if you can, you'll remember that even in the hectic weeks, creating space to gather the family around the table together is even more precious! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday - Pigs in a Blanket & french fries
Tuesday - Mozzarella Penne & Garlic Toast (Making it Ahead!)
Wednesday - Pot Roast with Roasted potatoes & carrots, Garlic biscuits & Freezer Corn (Crockpot)
Thursday - Ham & Cheesy Potato Casserole (Making it Ahead!)

Also:
Am making my son his 16th birthday cupcakes (now that his mouth is open again)
Ham & Cheese Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas are coming with me to the Office Breakfast
This awesome snack mix went to the Music Boosters Bake Sale

ah! Now - to plan the Christmas Baking!

And check out www.orgjunkie.com for her HUGE Menu Monday link-up!

Follow my Tribe-Approved recipes on my Pinterest.
Follow Stephanie Sikorski's board For My Recipe Box on Pinterest.




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