Friday, March 25, 2011

Picking Favorites

Being one of seven children, I am often asked, "Who's your favorite??". As a child, I learned the rule that nonono you don't pick favorites. You love EVERYONE. EQUALLY.

NAY! NAY I tell you!! I am now an adult of 23 years, and I shall share with the world that my favorite sister is LAURA LYNN VANDERSTAPPEN. HA!

Now, Laura is not my favorite because she's the nicest to me (don't let that sweet face fool you...) or because she loves me the most (Half the time when you tell the child you love her she says, "NO!"). Laura is my favorite because she, out of all of my siblings, has opened my eyes to a world that I never would have known without her.

Laura was born with a disability. The doctors never gave her an exact diagnosis. "Developmentally delayed" was what they said. My parents started exploring this diagnosis right away. When can we start therapy? Where will she go to school? How are we going to explain this to the kids? We will give Laura the best life EVER!!

One doctor had the nerve to tell my parents that it would be useless doing all of these things for their child. She would never amount to anything. After shocked expressions, angry words, and hot tears, my parents never went back to that doctor, and were more determined than ever to prove him wrong.

And they did. Laura did. Because she is amazing. In every. single. way.

My parents had Laura in therapy - both physical and occupational - at the young age of 3 months. The therapists came to our house ("HURRY UP AND CLEAN THE LIVING ROOM!!!!! THE THERAPIST WILL BE HERE IN 20 MINUTES!!!!" became an almost daily command) and did their job. And by did their job, I mean proved that horrible doctor wrong every day. Because Laura had so, so much potential. And they recognized it, harnessed it, and developed it... even if it did take a long time...

Being developmentally delayed means exactly what you think it means. Laura sat up for the first time when she was almost 2 years old. I actually remember my mom coming in to the living room and saying "Alright, who sat Laura up so close to the fireplace?" Blank stares. "Who did it?! I'm not mad!! I just want to know who sat her up!" Uhhhhhh. "OHMYGOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHE DID IT HERSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHE SAT UP ALL BY HERSELF!!!!!!!" And then we all started crying. Because it was that awesome. And we're criers.

Laura scooted around the house on her little butt for years. She still answers to the nickname 'Scooter'. And then, when she was 8 years old, Laura started to walk. By herself. As in, no help from anyone.

Laura has accomplished so much. An incredible amount for such a tiny girl. So many more milestones passed. Although her talking isn't all coherent, there is so much going on her brain that she shows us in other ways.

She recognizes. She recognizes faces, voices, things she likes, and things she doesn't.

She gets mad. She'll cross her arms and stomp away. She'll yell. She'll start to cry if something isn't fair.

She manipulates. She tattles on her siblings. She fake cries when she's not getting her way.

She is happy. The happiest of anyone I know. She laughs. She smiles. She tickles you. She tells jokes.

She LOVES. She give hugs and kisses. She says "I love you." She has so much love in her heart and soul, and she gives it to everyone. Everyone.

One of the best things to happen to Laura, my family, and so many other families in Walworth County is Lakeland School, a school that was made only for special needs children. One of the most amazing places on Earth. Laura started attending Lakeland when she was 3. She will be a student there until she is 21. Please watch the 5 minute video below to learn a little bit more about Lakeland.

Every year, Lakeland School has an annual fundraiser called School Fest. My mom has always been a big advocate for supporting this, because our lives wouldn't be the same without Lakeland. If you would like to buy raffle tickets to support Lakeland School, so that Lakeland School can continue changing lives for the better every single day, you can shoot me an email at Raffle tickets are 1 dollar each, or 6 for $5.00. I promise it's for a great cause.

OH, and there are some AWESOME prizes too:

GRAND PRIZE!! Samsung LED 43-inch TV and Blu-Ray Player
SECOND PRIZE! Nook e-reader with $100 Barnes & Noble gift card
CASH PRIZES$$$ - $200, (2) $100, (2) $50

Sa-weeeeet!!! School Fest is on May 7 (in case you'd like to attend!), and guess what... The winner doesn't have to be present! So seriously, you can be ANYWHERE in the WORLD and win, and they will get your prize to you!

Lakeland School is one of the best things that has ever happened to Laura, and my entire FAMILY. My favorite sister wouldn't be who she is today without it, and neither would her siblings. An amazing place with amazing people. That needs all the support it can get.

So don't forget to email me at ;)

I'll need your name, address, and phone number...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Check, check, one two... Check, one two

Today I got a text from Peter.

Pete: Kim wants to have a radio show with you.

Sara: OHMYGOSH did you tell her how I always tell you how great I think I would be on the radio?!

Pete: Yes. I did. Text her.

Sara: What am I supposed to say?

Pete: Let's do a radio show.

Sara: Just making sure, but this is all hypothetical, right?

Pete: No clue. Kim is unemployed currently, so the world is her burrito.

NOTE: Kim is taking a leave of absence from her job because she's been a LITTLE busy with this.

Every morning on my way to work, I flip between radio stations trying to find a morning show that doesn't annoy the living daylights out of me. There are too many commercials, and in between the commercials I've found that the people talking are talking about the STUPIDEST things (What kind of food do YOU like pickled? ... Oh, the Packers won the Superbowl? Back in FEBRUARY? I had NO idea!! ... There's MORE Charlie Sheen drama?!?!)

Whenever I have a REALLY dreadful morning show experience, I proceed to tell Peter that I think I would be a great morning host. I could talk to people on the phone, play songs that I like, and talk about whatever I wanted! Helloooooo best idea everrrrrrrr. Peter always responds, "I think that it's a little bit more work than that..." Who cares?! Seriously, give me the mic.

I've even been ON the radio before! A few years ago, I did a commercial promoting the Walworth County Fair "Got Milk?" booth. I LOVED recording it. The only problem was that I hate the sound of my voice (doesn't everybody?), so whenever I heard it play on the radio, I would groan and switch the station. Or sit and listen to it in disgust. "Do I REALLY sound like that? How do you STAND listening to that VOICE?!"

Speaking of hating the sound of my voice, when I first started my job, I had to record my voicemail message. I wrote out what I was going to say and made Donald leave his cubicle for a little bit so that I could record unheard. What made it WORSE is that I had to record the same message twice - once in English pause once in Spanish. You thought you hated the sound of YOUR voice? Record yourself speaking another language that you think you're semi-decent at. Warning: Your confidence in said second language will go crashing down to sub-zero levels.

I DO get nervous around microphones though... For about 5 seconds, and then I embrace the shit out of that sucker. Except once...

As a gift a few years back, one of his children bought Peter's grandpa a voice recorder. The idea was that he use it to record himself telling stories/the family history/etc. Instead, he uses it to record events (holidays, birthday parties, little get-togethers, etc.).

Last month, Peter and I were home for a weekend to see our families, celebrate birthdays, and find out Jenna and Mark are having a baby (OHMYGOD I KNOWWWWWWWW!!!!!!! Due September 20). For his grandma's birthday, we made it to the little get-together at the grandparents' house for cake and ice cream.

Scene: Group of people standing in the living room talking. Enter Grandpa R. Standing with this arms crossed.

Grandpa R: So, here we are at Grandma's birthday. Standing in the living room talking we have so and so, so and so, so and so, Sara, who is Peter's girlfriend, so and so (etc.). Who wants to guess how old Grandma is?!

Random numbers thrown out. Laughter. Grandpa R. begins asking questions to everyone in the circle. Cue Sara.

Grandpa R: Sara is dating Peter. How old are you Sara?

Sara: 23? (because obviously I don't know...)

Grandpa R: Sara, now, tell me what you're doing. You just moved to Green Bay?

Sara: What's that in your hand? Are you RECORDING this?

Grandpa R: Oh, don't you worry about that. Now what is your job?

Sara: Are you going to play this back? I hate the sound of my voice.

Grandpa R: No, no, it's fine! Just ignore it.

Sara: I can't ignore it.

Scene fade out.

I asked Peter's cousin Hillary to tell me what exactly was going on with the voice recorder. She told me.

Sara: OHMYGOD, is he going to play that BACK later?!? I'm SO embarrassed!!

Hillary: No, he won't play it now. He likes to listen to it later though, and then he smiles and laughs at all the good times he's had.

Sara: That tape needs to be destroyed.

For the record, I love Peter's grandpa. Seriously. But that doesn't mean I didn't want to just grab the recorder from his hand and talk right into it. I do MUCH better with the microphone in my hand.

Can't wait to have THAT one played back in 20 years...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Google Ads

Since starting my blog, Peter told me that I should "monetize" it so that I could make monayyyy. I signed up for Google Ads to be put on my blog on Monday and have thus far made one penny. I'm rich! ...

Today was the first day that I went to my blog to check out the ads that Google chose for me. Before I signed up, Google told me that it would choose the ads that are placed on my blog according to my blog content. The ads are on the side bar, and there are like five or something listed one on top of the other.

The first ads that I saw:

1. Cold Sore Treatment. REALLY Google? You're REALLY going to rub in my face that I am cursed with COLD SORES?! I'm probably going to get a cold sore now, because I'm getting stressed about the situation. No worries, I'll just click on the ad to get the best cold sore treatment there is. Man. Low blow.

2. Unique Personalized Gifts. I like giving gifts. Considering I wrote a lot about gifts, Google obviously knows me so well that, my goodness why WOULDN'T I want to give PERSONALIZED gifts. Merry Christmas, Mom, here is an obnoxious sweatshirt with "NANCY VANDERSTAPPEN, WORLD'S BEST MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" embroidered in.

3. Nice Birthday Messages. Please. Enough with the birthdays already.

4. Join Groups on Facebook. They must have read my hobbies.

5. Skydive with Sky Knights. Wait, what?

We all know I'm too scared to do anything crazy like skydiving.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Vanderstapp-Inn

I am the second oldest of 7 children. Since we did not grow up in a castle, we all had to share rooms. Even Marty. POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR Martyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy the onlyy boyyyyyyy. Please. Stop. He's spoiled. But I WILL say that he knows how to dress really well and how to treat girls nicely. And he knows how to spend all of 13 seconds in the shower because the bathroom was constantly occupied.

Jenna and Sara shared. Adrianna, Taylor, and Rachel share. Marty and Laura shared. Now that we are all becoming adults, going away to college, getting full time jobs, etc. my parents' house has become more of a bed and breakfast. The Vanderstapp-Inn, if you will (my cousin's have this sign on their house. And it's awesome.).

When I went home in February, EVERYONE was home. As in: 7 children plus one spouse and one friend. Sister and spouse didn't spend the night. So that means 7 people needed beds. Guess how many beds we have. 6. Guess who was the first one to get the boot. "Sara. Mohawk Road is no longer your permanent residence." Sighhhhhhhhhhhh...

The first night, Rachel had a friend sleep over (so that means EIGHT people needed beds!!), so Rachel and friend slept on the air mattress downstairs. I heard through the grapevine, as in Nanc texted me, that I would be sleeping in Taylor's bed. Taylor would be sleeping in Rachel's bed.

I get home. I go upstairs. I see that Taylor is in her bed. I look up. And see that Rachel's top bunk is empty. Awesome.

I've always been that kid at camp that was like, "Oh, well, I GUESS I'll take the bottom bunk, because I don't want everyone to break out into a fight over the top bunk, so yeah, I'll make this HUGE sacrifice and miss out on ALL the fun and sleep on the bottom." I hate the top bunk. Especially when the fan was on. And in A/T/R's room, the FAN was on. Meh.

Night one of sleep was less than moderate, considering there were no pillows to be found, so I had to use a pillow pet for head support. I might as well have slept with no pillow at all.

Night two I was out to dinner with Peter's family and halfway through I realized that shoot. I had no idea where I was going to sleep! Rachel would surely take her bed back, because she IS the rightful owner and the couch downstairs isn't comfortable, so why would she offer to sleep on it? To my surprise when I got home, I nearly trampled my favorite sister Rachel because she set up camp on the floor, and I got her bed once again. What a sister.

This past weekend when I was home (Happy Birthday Taylor - 18 and Laura - 16!!), everyone had a bed to sleep in, because there were only 6 occupants at the Inn, but Laura gets her own room now because Marty brought his bed up to school with him.

That means Marty and I are roommates. Now, I've had a lot of roommates in my day. Jenna, being the longest of 20 years, and then year-long roommates with people in college and things like that. Marty didn't know what to do with a roommate that could... well... talk. I mean, Laura is great and all, but the conversations with her don't usually go much past yes and no and her repeating "Happy Birthday!" or anything else that you tell her to repeat (Mom gets mad when we tell her to swear. But MAN is it FUNNY!).

Marty lays down in his bed. I lay down in mine. The light is still on. Now, when I shared with Jenna, I could ALWAYS get her to turn off the light, because I can sleep with it on and she can't. Well...

Marty: Sara. The light. You have to turn off the light.

Sara: Marty. You were JUST over there.

Marty: *groannnnnnnnn* I'm not turning it off.

Sara: Fine. *shuts off light*

I called Peter, since I hadn't talked to him all day (OMGGGG I KNOWWWWWWWW How do I LIVE without talking to him constantly?!?!).

Enter Adrianna. She sits on the foot of my bed.

Adrianna: I'm not tired.

I ignore her. I continue trying to talk to Peter. Adrianna jumps on me. I can't breath. I have to hang up on Peter.

Adrianna: I'm not tired.

Sara: I am.

Adrianna: Sara. You're no fun. Talk to me.

Sara: No.

Marty: I'll talk to you!

Sara: groannnnnnnnn

Talking commences and you KNOW I love talking, so I join in. Talking escalates to laughing. Really loudly.

Jenna and I always used to get in trouble for talking and laughing at night, as many sisters who share a room do. Do you know how long it's been since I've had that? Despite telling Marty and Adrianna to SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH several times, I didn't even care if Mom yelled at us. Because let's face it: nothing makes a mother happier than hearing her children laughing and getting along.

Even if it is 11:00 PM, and said mother may or may not have been awake since 4:30 AM...

Monday, March 7, 2011


One of my sisters called me the other day and said, "Guess what. I have a hobby.... reading." Good! It is a little joke in our family that this particular sister doesn't have any hobbies, because whenever someone asks her what she likes to do, she is at a loss. Poor kid. Wait until you get to the job hunt in another 4 or so years... Because you'll get that question in your interview.
It is, in fact, my least favorite interview question. "What do you like to do in your spare time?" These are the things that I actually like to do in my spare time:
  • Watch TV. Watch TV until my eyes melt out of their sockets.
  • Read.
  • Surf the internet aka go on,,,,, and I don't actually know how to surf the internet.
  • Think about how I would decorate my apartment if I was rich.
  • Think about being rich.
  • Knit - seriously.
  • Go through the car wash.
  • Pretend I'm not lactose intolerant and eat all of the ice cream that I can find.
  • Talk to my dad on the phone.
  • Talk to my mom on the phone.
  • Talk to ANYONE on the phone. Except bad phone talkers.
  • Watch movies for the millionth time.
  • Talk in a singing voice (Peter LOVES this one... HA)
  • Text.
  • Play Lego Indiana Jones on Playstation.
  • Eat candy.
These are the things that I feel like I should be saying that I like to do:
  • Playing with little puppies at the pound, because they don't have families to love them, so I am loving them with every fiber of my being.
  • Donating all of the extra pennies that I can muster to the starving children in Africa. And Asia, and the Middle East, and South America AND North America. And Europe too.
  • Keeping up on all of the political disasters that engulf our world today.
  • Playing the violin and other string instruments.
  • Reading the Wall Street Journal on Sunday mornings.
  • Watching the 10:00 news every night.
  • Brushing up on my Chinese.
  • Drinking tea and eating crumpets.
  • Brainstorming how to single-handedly save the world.
One of my friends, we'll call him T, called me after an interview that he had a few weeks ago.
T: You're never going to believe what I said for the 'what I like to do in my spare time' question.
Sara: Oh GOD, what did you come up with this time??
T: Well, after I started sweating, I said, 'My roommate and I like to go to the diner downtown to get milkshakes. Our friend works there, so we go there a lot.' ... Because apparently I live in the year 1950. You know, my roommate wore her poodle skirt and I had my suspenders on while we skipped down to the diner.
Best. Answer. Ever.
I'd rather have the strengths and/or weaknesses question. The other night at dinner, Peter and I were conversing, and I don't even know HOW we got on this, but Peter started listing things that he was good at:
  • Figuring out computer stuff
  • Proof-reading
  • Telling stories
  • Being efficient
  • Indian accents
Indian accents came out of nowhere for me too. Except recently, he's been on this accent binge? Where, if he hears an accent, he uses it all the time? And half the time I can't understand what he's saying... So maybe he IS good at accents.
Anyways, I'm sure that Peter listed all of these strengths when he had job interviews, and that's probably how he got hired.
I'm going to do you the favor and not even LIST my strengths. I don't want anyone to get jealous of the fact that I'm really good at making cupcakes.
And straightening my hair.