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A huge thank you – it’s a community thing

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~Herman Melville

I’ve always been a very independent person, capable of juggling and getting things done on my own. Then I had children. When you have children, even if you have a helpful husband and helpful parents like mine, you find that you need others– you need community.

I’ve known this for a while and I’m so blessed that I’m part of one. It’s sometimes difficult for me to ask others for help, and because of my work schedule I can’t always reciprocate and return the favors, I feel guilty, but when something happens and people step up for you without you having to ask, it’s like a huge warm hug.

In a quirky accident at my son’s soccer game this weekend, (my husband was at work so it was just me), my daughter tripped, fell and cut her knee open on the metal edge of a sun umbrella (a large one, not the smaller rain deterrent version).

I did not see her fall, so when she first hobbled over to me, crying and bleeding, my initial reaction was to stop the blood. I grabbed wet wipes, sat her down and applied pressure. Another mom immediately came over and said gently, we have to look and see how deep it is.

I’m not the queasy at the sight of blood sort, nor am I a panic in stressful situation person, but I admit that my instinct was to stop the blood. And that is as far as I got. It didn’t occur to me that it could be dangerously deep or need medical attention that I could not provide.

I’m thankful for the mom I know, who was a step ahead of me, grabbing her first aid kit and reminding me to check out the wound.

As my daughter’s pain and fear rose to higher levels and my arms and words didn’t sooth her, I’m thankful for the other mom I know, who came over and acted as the master of distraction, creatively taking my daughter’s mind off her knee, long enough for a dad I know to come over and help clean and dress the wound.

It turns out that the cut, while not deep, was wide and on the part of her knee that bends, so she did in fact need three stitches.

I’m also eternally grateful for those friends of mine, my community, who offered to go with me to the emergency room, but who understood that I needed to go alone because I needed them to stay at the game and cheer on my son, and watch over him. I’m eternally grateful for all of them banding together, taking my son to dinner and saving two spots at the table for my daughter and I, who, after two hours in the emergency room, really needed food.

And I’m eternally grateful for their concern the next day, for them needing to know if she was ok, if she was in pain, if the bleeding had stopped, as if she was their own child.

After the craziness of the weekend, my sense of community was reinforced this morning, when I had another scheduling issue with two different summer programs (one soccer, one VBS) in two different locations but starting at the same time. I was reluctant to just drop my son off, but a dad who is part of my community, said he’d keep an eye on him for me and another mom gave him a ride back to his school camp when soccer was done. And took him for hamburgers. And sent me a picture. The silly face he is making means he is happy. Which makes me happy.FullSizeRenderI’m thankfulfor these freindships,  that I’m part of a community, and that they are part of mine.

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Happy 5th Birthday, baby big girl

Today she is 5. An age she’s been counting down to be…“Am I 5 tomorrow? Or the next day after the next day after the next day?”

Flynn at 5

Flynn at 5

Five is a milestone, in many ways, for both of us.

For me, I’m that much older and removed from the baby making phase of my life. That ship, long sailed.

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For me, it’s not only watching but letting you do your own thing, like your hair styles. You no longer want me to put your hair in pigtails and forget about bangs. You told me (didn’t ask) you were growing “these things long” when you were barely 3.

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For me, it’s often buying new shoes because you outgrow them faster than you wear them, and missing the times when I not only couldn’t keep socks or shoes on your tiny, tiny feet, but you didn’t need them because I mostly carried you.

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For me, it’s relishing each moment you gain more independence, but wishing for the moments when you needed only me.

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For me, it’s realizing that while you will always be the baby of the family, you are now such a big girl.

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For you, it’s excitement over starting Kindergarten soon, and doing your own homework.

For you, it’s about being “big”, and faster and stronger to keep up with your brother and being “big” like him.

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For you, it’s about being the same age as your best friends from school.

For you, it’s about the birthday crown your teacher made, the cupcakes and pink pancakes I made you for breakfast, the Barbie fashion show dress up singing and dancing birthday party.

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For you, it’s not just instinctively knowing what you want; be it to wear, accessorize, eat, listen to, read, learn, but being able to express those wants clearly and be understood.flynn5

Five is a milestone, in many ways, but for both of us, no matter how old, wise, big, smart, sassy, or far away you are, you will always be my baby, my little shadow.

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So today you are 5. And we celebrate you.

Happy birthday to my favorite girl in all the land. I love you, love you, love you, baby doll.

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Never Alone

Driving home from church, singing along to Fix My Eyes, her favorite For King and Country song, all seemed happy and right in the world, but as her song ended, she quietly asked

                         When you and daddy are gone, will I still have brother?

I looked in my rear view mirror and saw her looking back at me, with eyes wide. I said, I hope so honey, why are you asking?

                         Because I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to sing my song alone.

I didn’t know how to answer her, she’s not quite five and doesn’t need to bear the burden of our mortality before she can fully comprehend it.

But her question made my heart ache and I wanted to answer it right.

I thought about telling her that of course we’d always be here, and of course she’d never be alone. But she’s not quite five, and we won’t always be here.

I reached back and took her hand in mine and said

We don’t know when our time here will end but you have me and daddy and brother, and nana and grandpa and uncle and grandma and friends and God. You won’t ever really be alone. Always know that if one of us is gone, we will always be in your heart, singing with you.

She was quiet, her eyes still wide, but my words seemed to pacify her. A few seconds later her brother said something to make her laugh and the moment passed.

Because, you know, she’s not quite five.

photo by coreen

photo by coreen

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Everyone’s got a TP

I ran cross this article called State of Working Moms Today https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/the-stressed-out-state-of-working-moms-today-99578825202.html) and of course had to read it. I’m a working mom, so what do I need to know? It’s written around a survey Care.com put out called Working Moms Tipping Point. According to the article, Care.com cofounder Donna Levin via Yahoo Parenting said they polled nearly 1,000 employed women with at least one child under 18 living at home.

Before I continue, I have to declare that I feel many of the things covered in this article applies to stay at home moms and even dads, too. We all share similar feelings of stress and pressure to do it all, we all wish for more time and we all have a TP: tipping point.

For me, what resonated was that the survey found “one in four [moms] cry by themselves at least once a week due to household-related stress.” Amen. I’m not alone. In fact, I cried today. I knocked my entire cup of coffee all over the kitchen counter 2 minutes before I was going to walk out the door and the first thought that went through my head as tears began to fall was “I just can’t get a break. I’m now going to be late.” Of course, it wasn’t a disaster. My husband and kids didn’t even see what happened. The mess was contained to the counter, it did not get on me or the floor and was quickly wiped up with the use of multiple paper towels. But it broke me. For a few minutes, in that moment, I couldn’t do anything more than let the tears fall.

The article also mentions how many families don’t eat family meals together and when they do, they are quick sit downs. I’m happy to say that my family does eat meals together every night of the week. Some days my husband is absent because he’s a fireman and works 24 hour shifts, but we always eat together and mostly at home. Some meals are fast, yes, but we are almost always together.

Another staggering and truthful tidbit was about couple time…according to the survey “the women reported spending just six hours alone with their partners each week.” Yeah, I live that too. But with two people in  fulltime demanding careers, two kids under 8 in two sports each, playdates, birthdays, school activities, LA Kings hockey games…it’s to be expected. I’m not saying I love it, because I certainly don’t. In fact, there are days that it’s almost unbearable because of the tension. But I’ve learned that we both need to be better at carving out couple time and savoring it when we have it. It’s a continual activity.

Honestly, life is phases and this is where we are now. I’m not going to lament or complain because of all we do have; health, careers, help, fantastic kids and community. It’s important to be thankful for the little things and look for the magic in those moments, because they are there, often overshadowed by the crap we choose to terriblize but if we recognize them, we can bring them to light.

Do I get overwhelmed? Yes. Do I feel pressure at work and at home? Yes. Do I sometimes feel like I could do better? Yes. Could I use more sleep and more downtime? Yes. But I also know that most days I kick ass.

I kick ass.

And there is laughter and smiles and a general sense of accomplishment and well-being.

So I am going to give myself a break, realize that it’s ok to cry over spilt coffee and know I’m not alone in feeling pressured, exhausted or overwhelmed. It’s life. A good life.

from care.com

from care.com

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Homebound

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. ~Frederick Buechner

I love that my son is so honest and that he talks to me. I don’t always love what he tells me. Like about the two boys who got in trouble at school for “using their middle fingers” at lunch. He also stated that Boy A didn’t know what it meant but he was sure Boy B did.

I almost asked him if he knew what it meant but didn’t because his younger sister was there. I really need to follow up on that.

A few weeks ago we were invited to a party for his friend. His friend that his sister adores. We had a conflict which resulted in me taking him to the party and my husband taking our daughter to the LA Kings hockey game. Little Miss was a wreck. She wanted to go to the party. I told her it was for boys and in between her sobs she said “but you’re a girl”. She wasn’t buying the it’s a mom/boy party. I tried bribing her with the pink Barbie storage case on wheels she wants for her birthday. She said she’d wait until her birthday to get it. In the end, she wailed as Fussypants and I left for the party. Husband gave me stink eye. Of course, she was fine after we left and had great fun with her dad at the hockey game. She also reminded me that I owed her the pink Barbie storage case on wheels.

As we drove away, Fussypants said from the back seat, “I hope she grows up soon and stops crying when she can’t be with you all the time”. Then added, “Because I know it’s hard on you”. I love my boy. My intuitive, sensitive boy.

A little while later he asked me an odd question. “Mommy, why, in the movies, do some people go away to college and move out of their house?”

I answered with “Well, going to college is a big adventure and a privilege and some people choose schools that are farther away so they find new places to live, either on campus or with friends”. He made a sad face so I continued with “part of my job as a mom is to help you be able to be on your own and self-sufficient. Going to college is a new experience and you can meet new people and learn new things”.

Again with the sad face. So I caved and told him that if he wants to go to a school near us and live at home that’s fine. He brightened into a huge smile.

Later that evening I had to break the news to my husband that I may have inadvertently given our son permission to live at home until he’s 40.

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The age of…

The kids had a dentist appointment last week and if making your sister cry a gazillion times in the short drive over was an Olympic sport, my son would win gold. He was unusually hard on her. We’ve entered the age of everything she does bugs him and he never takes the high road. He can’t let anything go. And she can ruin his day merely by repeating the same thing several times (admittedly, I lack patience with this as well). On this particular day, Little Miss, who, for some reason thought she was getting a shot, was more vulnerable than normal so Fussypants decided to mime and mimic her every action, delivering his final blow by drawing a picture of what he thought she looked like.
FPK_by_MZKSeeing this “ugly” picture of herself sent her 3 year old (and already dramatically honed) emotions over the edge. Of course, I was driving so couldn’t do much about it. Ok, I did laugh when he flung the picture up to the front seat but I did it subtly. I had one child manically laughing and one manically crying when we arrived. My head was pounding.

Do I even have to justify why I sent my young children back with the hygienist alone,  to get their teeth cleaned without me? No? I didn’t think so. The serene minutes I had to myself in that pleasant lobby were bliss.

Thankfully Despicable Me 2 was on the TV, which got the kids to sit still and because they were in separate chairs they couldn’t see/touch/talk to each other so it was quiet, gloriously quiet.

When both kids had clean chompers and were locked and loaded in the car with balloons and a toy (my childhood dentist was nice but not the play date kind of nice my kid’s dentist is) we headed home.

Fussypants was quiet on the way home, but I figured he had tapped out his pick on my sister reservoir. Then I noticed him looking at me in the mirror. When my eyes caught his, he said, “Mommy? Can I tell you something?”

He’s my curious child, and the most honest one. He often tells me everything so I wasn’t worried. But it wasn’t what I thought. Apparently my son, my popular at school, all the kids want to play with him son, had his first experience with teasing and being ganged up on during recess. It wasn’t anything terrible and he wasn’t bullied but for him, it wasn’t fun. Four boys, three of which he counts as “best friends”, teased and laughed at him for falling asleep on cute Grace’s shoulder on the bus on the way back from a field trip in Kindergarten. Yes, he was teased about something that happened in October of 2012.

I asked him how he felt, if it upset him, what he said to them. I told him they were just envious because they all have a crush on Grace. He was matter of fact about it and said it didn’t really bother him. He thought it was silly since it happened so long ago. The boy who started it has an older brother, so I’m not surprised. I’ve seen the difference between first grade and third and there is plenty of teasing, I’m better than you, and one-upmanship. What bothered him the most is that the other boys joined in, two of which weren’t even in his Kindergarten class when it happened. I got the feeling he felt betrayed, and had his feelings hurt by that betrayal but he didn’t have the words to really express that’s what he was feeling.

And I found it difficult to know the right words needed to soothe my child because this was such a minor thing. If it were something worse, I would have sprang into action but a couple of kids laughing about a nothing that happened over a year ago? Do you tell them to ignore it? Defend themselves? Tease the boys back? Let him know his friends that went along with it maybe didn’t know better? Or worse, they did and aren’t really good friends? I don’t know what is right in that situation. So I asked him what he did.

He opted to mostly ignore it, telling them that they were silly, it was Kindergarten. He said a teacher overheard the boys laughing and upon learning what they were laughing about, told them the same thing. It was a long time ago, so who cares. I don’t know if that is the right thing to say either but I’m proud of my son for standing up to them in the sense that he didn’t resort to their level and tease them back. He didn’t get angry, he didn’t cry. But I’m sad for him as he loses a little more of the true innocence of being a child. It won’t get easier, as kids get older and their individual personalities develop, so does the peer pressures and cliques, their reactions, interests and the importance of others opinions. I’m also sad for him that the boys he bonds with the most weren’t there for him. In a big picture way, I know they didn’t mean it, but I’ve seen my son around similar situations (but not the one being teased) and he’s never turned on a friend. Now he might, if he thinks it’ll take the spotlight off him.

It makes more sense to me now, the relentless picking he did on his sister on the way to the dentist. Part of it is being the big brother, but part of it was something he could control. He could tease instead of being teased. And maybe I need to be better at looking past some of the noise , to see if there is something else going on.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

 

 

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Pour Your Heart Out: Beyond Salvage

pouryourheart1-e1328022968330This is a difficult subject to write about not only for the subject matter (infidelity in a marriage with children that is now heading for divorce) but also because it’s not really my story to tell, so I have to tell it without too many details. Know that it is not about me, but about people I’m close to and because of this affair, my relationship with all involved with be forever changed.

Someone I love made some very bad choices and did something really stupid and hurt a lot of other people I love. This person knew better. In fact, this person had this done to them a long long time ago so knew deep down what an unforgivable hurt it would cause.

And yet.

They did it anyway. Instead of talking to the multiple someones, myself included,  they should have talked to when things in the marriage were rocky, they instead plunged into an illicit relationship with an outsider.

So maybe that’s what I’m really angry about. I felt blindsided. Why didn’t this person come to me and let me know what was happening before causing irrevocable damage?

When the guilty party called to tell me what was going on, their relationship was already beyond salvage. And I was shocked, then numb, extremely pissed off, sad and pissed off again. Because of my relationship with this person, I have chosen to support them through this mess. I don’t really have a choice, there are just certain things you do for family. But part of me wants to throttle this person. Yell at them. Maybe even throw something. I want to reach out to the other person involved and say I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know, I’m as shocked, pissed and sad as you are. I want to scoop the child in my arms and shelter them from all of it. Kiss it and make it all better. But this other person wants nothing to do with me or my family because of this. I didn’t even know it was going on, but this mistake by another has reverberated far and wide. And that pisses me off too.

I can’t make it better. This didn’t happen directly to me. I’m part of the inner circle but I wasn’t there. I didn’t know until it was too late. And I cannot fix it.

What I can do is listen, be there, offer support and hope that one day my relationship with everyone involved, while forever changed, will somehow mend to the point that we can begin again.

 

 

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Writer’s Workshop: “Nit”-picking

2.) Share one of your “did that really just happen to me” life moments.

I can now say that I have been professionally deloused. Check that off the bucket list.

Parenting is fun, isn’t it? I spent two days, including a Saturday night, washing everything in the house and boiling hairbrushes after my three year old daughter was sent home from school with “nits”.

You are getting itchy just reading this, aren’t you?

Apparently she was the second child to be sent home from school that week. Sadly, lice happens. It’s beyond gross, but you have to deal with it. Or it will just get worse.

So, after treating her with an over the counter remedy at home, I made an appointment at a Lice Salon (so glamorous, my life) on the recommendation of a friend, and I am very happy I did. Because the “combing out” aspect of the process is very important and very tedious, and when you have a child who screams as though a limb is being torn off just upon seeing a hairbrush, having someone else do it is a GODSEND.

A little over 2 hours later, we were all deloused, smelled like the inside of a cedar closet and were equipped with follow-up instructions. I now know more about the lice lifecycle than I care to admit and will be arming myself with a lint roller the next time I get on an airplane or go to the movies.

But the best part of the process? I got to go through it not only with my terrified of the combing process three year old, but also with my mother-in-law, while I was nursing a small hangover. A bonding “did that really just happen to me” moment, to be sure.

Mama Kat

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Wanted

“Oh but you were made, by a God who knows your name , He doesn’t make mistakes. For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted” – Dara MacClean

Little Miss, out of the blue, started asking questions about her birth last night. It went something like this…

LM: Did you buy me from the store?

Me: No, I made you. I grew you inside me and kept you safe until you were born.

LM: God made me.

Me: Yes, He helped. But you were inside me, growing big and strong, until you were ready to come out.

LM: I didn’t like being in there (putting her hand on my tummy).

Me: That’s true. You wanted out early on, that’s why I was on bed rest for eight weeks and then you arrived two weeks early.

LM: Yeah, I remember.

At this point, Fussypants jumped into the conversation to tell his sister (erroneously) that I pooped her out my bum and that’s how she was born. Thankfully, she laughed and isn’t traumatized for life.

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Baby Big Girl

 

How my daughter is turning three tomorrow, I have no idea. It seems like just yesterday she was a newborn. In this short period of time, she’s blossomed into a very sweet, sassy, smart, funny, stubborn, silly little girl. She holds her own with her big brother and surprises me every day with something new she’s learned, be it a song, a ballerina dance she’s made up or counting higher than the day before. She “reads” her brother books, feeds the dog water from a spoon and tells me she loves me often, and says thank you when I tell her I love her. She’s my little shadow, wanting to be around only me if I’m in the vicinity and loves to hold my hand “because it fits”, even in the house.

 

When Fussypants was turning three, I was pregnant with Little Miss and I was so ready for him to be self-sufficient. I didn’t miss him needing me to help him go potty, get a snack or put on his shoes. I was on bed rest, but still working, I was ill and exhausted and ready for him to grow up. But knowing that she’s my last baby, makes having her grow up more difficult. I guess I have a bit of the baby blues. I look at my son, about to graduate Kindergarten and my daughter, about to turn 3 and I can’t help but think of them as babies and wonder where the time went. But we are done, our family is what it is, so don’t get any ideas.

 

But back to my baby girl turning three. I know that if she had been a boy, I would have been happy and our family would have been perfect but I’m not going to lie. I love having a daughter. Every woman should have one, it’s such a humbling experience. She can bring me to my knees in a way Fussypants just doesn’t. But he can make me laugh (especially if I am angry) in a way she never has. He is so easy-peasy compared to her. Maybe it’s his personality or maybe with boys what you see is what you get, but we’ve never argued over what underwear he’s wearing that day and Little Miss and I have had daily meltdown spats over the choice of Disney character on her chonies and she’s not yet three. And don’t get me started about trying to brush her hair. We never had terrible twos with him, but the terrible twos started with her when she was 1.5. 90% of the time, she’s sweet and funny but when that 10% hits…watch out. My mom calls it “going dark”. Her whole face changes, clouding over and she stops talking. She’ll screech like a baby pterodactyl, which is unpleasant, and where we could easily use the redirection method with her brother, she’s focused on whatever it is she isn’t getting and pouts. I’m really hoping that she’s outgrown it and that we won’t have a year of the terrible threes.

 

For her birthday, she wanted a bounce house and Cinderella. So we accommodated. A friend of mine from college warned not to peak on the parties at such a young age, but having Cinderella come to the house was amazing. Little Miss was so excited, it was just the most heart-warming thing to watch. She is still talking about her visit, days later. She actually slept in her Princess dress the night of her party. My hunky fireman husband, who had worked three in a  row and was exhausted, even stopped at the Disney store on his way home to buy her a Cinderella crown (so swoon-worthy, he’s such a good daddy) and she wore it all day long.

 

On her actual birthday, my mom and I are taking her to Disneyland and she has an appointment at the Bibbiddy Bobbiddy Boutique to get a Cinderella up do by a Godmother-in-training. Over the top? Maybe. But I have a daughter and can do girlie things like that if I want to.

 

So happy 3rd birthday to my baby big girl. I love you so much, you and your brother fill my heart with sunshine, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

cake candles cinderella. family FPK_Cinderella FPK_hat FPK_princess joy Jumphouse story8

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