Home About Me Awards Favorite Blogs Momformation Favorite Adventures

Guest posting – The Soccer Moms

I’m guest posting today over at The Soccer Moms. Bear with me, I get a little preachy, but the trend these days seems to be to stir up controversy, point out the negative and shame people on a myriad of subjects and I needed to vent. Emotional writing is better than emotional eating, I suppose, though not as tasty.

Read all abut it: here

soccermoms

gingerbreadmama

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.

gingerbreadmama

Guest Post about Sports/Schedules

soccermoms

I have a post up at The Soccer Moms today, about my struggles with juggling multiple sports schedules:

Juggling Schedules Is Not for the Weak (click link)

When I started writing this, I was irked about something a coach had said to my son and discombobulated because practice days for one of our sports had changed on us causing conflicts that hadn’t previously been there with another sport, but as I got further into the writing, it took a different path. I’ve come to the conclusion that that there is no blame to place, it’s not the coaches fault (though I can do without the comments to my kid) nor is it mine as a parent. The bottom line is that life is hard and full of challenges and when you have multiple kids and full time jobs and other extracurricular activities, it gets even harder. Add in the fact that the full time job and the activities take place in different cities and the hard magnifies by a bazillion. It’s impossible to be in more than one place at a time, but it’s also impossible to not strive to give your child as many opportunities to grow and learn and participate as possible.

Credit should be given to those (many of whom are also parents) who give their time to coach (paid or volunteer) as well as to the parents who do everything in their power to get their kids where they are supposed to be on time and to those kids who many times are changing uniforms in the car but still work their butt off once they get there. Everyone needs to see the other’s side and be supportive.

It’s called teamwork for a reason. And as we all know, when you have kids, it takes a village.

-CMK

 

gingerbreadmama

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.

Flynn_growing_up03 Flynn_growing_up02 Flynn_growing_up01 Flynn_growing_up04

 

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.

Flynn_growing_up08 Flynn_growing_up09 Flynn_growing_up10

 

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.

Flynn_growing_up06

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

Flynn_growing_up05 Flynn_growing_up07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

flynn4

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.

FullSizeRender

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.

pancakes1

 

 

pancakes2

 

 

 

 

 

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.

meandfpk

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.

IMG_8088

gingerbreadmama

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

gingerbreadmama

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

gingerbreadmama

Long Time Soccer Mom, First Time Coach

I’m sharing my thoughts on being a first time coach…of 4 year old girls…over at The Soccer Moms today. Come check it out and share your experiences!

http://thesoccermoms.com/long-time-soccer-mom-first-time-coach/

Because sometimes, you just have to practive in a tutu!

Because sometimes, you just have to practice in a tutu!

gingerbreadmama

Just Five More

You know how people say “X more sleeps before….” Well, I only have 5 more drives before both of my children are attending the same school in the same city.

We started at our preschool in July, 2007 when my son was six months old. He advanced through all the classrooms, eventually “graduating” from TK (transitional Kindergarten) in August, 2012. At that point, my daughter had been going there for almost two years; she started when she was four months, in October, 2010.

Her first day of school, 2010

Her first day of school, 2010

The preschool is exactly 11.23 miles from my house and 6.8 miles from my work, putting it right in the middle of the two places I spend the majority of my time. It’s an amazing school and because of my firefighter hubby’s schedule, having my kids in a preschool closer to my work made sense. That is, until my son started Kindergarten at the school that’s only .82 miles from my house. I timed it once; it takes 2 minutes and 14 seconds to get from the school to my house.

With getting the kids in and out of the car when we drop off/pick him up, California traffic and having to take side street and hitting all those red lights, it takes me an hour from the time I leave my house to the time I get to work. AN HOUR. Then I get to do it all again on the trip home.

I’m not going to lie. It’s exhausting. Not that I don’t love the talk time she and I share in the car together but a two hour commute every day just kicks my butt. And don’t get me started on the one day a week I work from home…having to drive her to another city, then come back home then go back to her school then come back home…Oh My God.

Needless to say, when she became age eligible for the full day pre-K program at her brother’s school, I jumped at the chance to enroll her. And when I found out that I could start her in June for the full day summer program, and the dates coincided with her current school year ending, before she transitioned to the next age classroom, I was maniacally enthusiastic. Sure, it gave me pause (for a split second) that changing schools with no transition time would be hard on her but rip off the band-aid I shouted! This change will save this mama 40-45 minutes each way!

But with this afternoon’s pick-up marking 5 drives away from this reality, I feel like I might burst into tears. My daughter has only ever known this school. She has many friends, some she’s been friends with since she started at 4 months old. She adores her teachers to the point of wanting to invite them to her birthday party. She knows the routines, every corner of the playgrounds, all the classroom pets, the songs, and chapel experience.

When I first told her she was going to start at her brother’s school, she dug her heels in and adamantly said no, no I’m not. But as we continued to bring it up and discuss it, she’s started to come around and now seems genuinely excited to begin a new adventure. So my trepidation is my own. I’m realizing that this preschool is all I’ve known. I know all the routines, every corner of the playground, all the teachers and parents. This preschool has become part of our family. When my son started Kindergarten, everything was new but it wasn’t preschool. The reality of switching preschools, leaving the one we’ve been attending for seven years and starting anew, is hitting me.

I know we will be fine, both of us. I know she’ll make new friends. I know having my children at the same school will restore and preserve my sanity. And there is the added bonus of the price decrease. And while all of that makes me feel giddy with glee, it is also a little daunting. Change always is.

So I’ll take a lesson from my brave girl, and be brave myself. She and I will look forward to this new adventure together.

It’s only 5 more drives away, after all.

Flynn_2014

gingerbreadmama

Off-the-cuff: this is how I do it

Leave it to Tonya (Letters for Lucas) to tag me about writing. She’s a dear friend, one of my favorite people and seriously the best at subtly (or in this case not so much) inspiring me to get off my ass. I just dropped everything and wrote this blog post because of her (my last post was April 5). I auditioned for LTYM because of her. I shared my adoption story because of her. You know, I even joined Twitter because of her. So you get the idea. She’s really, really, really good at giving you the right nudge at the right time with the right amount of inspiration to make you think “sure, I can do this, why not”…

1. What am I working on?

What am I working on is a trick question. The only answer is everything and nothing. See my response to question #4.

2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

Is being a 40ish, married, mom with a career and penchant for high heels a genre? Like everyone else, I’m sure; the obvious answer is it differs because it’s mine. Topics may be similar (read: motherhood) but it’s my take, my humor, my sadness, my irritation…my whatever that spurs me in that moment to write it down.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I need to. As stated above, I’m (a tad over) 40, married to a fireman who is only home half the month, a mom to two young children, I work full-time in a fast-paced, mostly stressful but I’m good at it career, and I’m the Queen of complicating things. I’ve mastered multitasking (or not, that’s TBD) and I‘m always on the go. So when I do write, it’s because I HAVE to. I have to say and share whatever it is I need to say and get it out of my head. I find myself and those around me funny (and at times annoying) and often that makes for a good blog post.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’ll be honest. I don’t have a process. I used to be fueled by angst. But then I grew up, fell in love, had kids and am now too happy (read: tired) to remember what it was like to feel angsty.

Writing is something I’ve done my entire life, always. It’s just a part of me. I have a creative writing degree but have been out of college for over 20 years. I stumbled into technical writing soon after graduation and began blogging in 2007. Before my blog, I wrote two columns for the now defunct website Scoopme (a review of the show Alias and a gossip column) and I also wrote a gossip column for Tea With Lemon but couldn’t keep up (or rather interested) in the so-called celebs in the news these days to care enough to write about it.

If I had to describe it, I’d say my process/writing style was off-the-cuff. I have dozens of topics I want to write about in the Notes app on my iPhone and more than a dozen pieces that I’ve started but never finished. But what mostly gets put out there is the everyday funny/irritating stuff that happens in the moment. The Wha? That just happened?! events that make me stop what I’m doing and write about it then and there. I write all day long in my head and sometimes get my shit together long enough to add my hands to the mix and type it out.

Computer, iPad, whatever is handy when the mood strikes me to type it out.

Computer, iPad, whatever is handy when the mood strikes me to type it out.

I should probably be more disciplined with writing and publishing on a consistent basis but factor in family time, work, soccer, ballet, baseball, hockey, homework, dinner, laundry, birthday parties, school events, working out (and everything else I’m forgetting) plus all the freaking driving around that occurs with motherhood and I’m reduced to only having enough energy to post funny facebook statuses (and a truckload of pictures of my kids).

But thanks to Tonya and her pushes me to do stuff superpower, I just wrote something. Off-the-cuff but it’s mine. My style, my process, my words.

Now it’s your turn! California Kara (who got me blogging in the first place and while she doesn’t write much anymore, she should) and Kristin of The Swift Kick (my HS friend, who, thankfully, writes all the time because she’s good at it), I tag you! Tell us about your writing process.

gingerbreadmama

Family Resemblance

Last month I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother – OC. My piece was not chosen for the show but I’m happy I auditioned for two reasons. First, I am not comfortable with public speaking and this took me way out of my comfort zone and the challenge felt good. Second, the topic I chose to write about, the story I chose to share…is my beginning. Something I’ve talked about but never actually written about. It’s so personal and so emotional and every time I’ve started to write about it, I stop. But not this time. What I also learned is that this is a two-part story. The circumstances of my beginning are not without their share of drama and so much has transpired since then, and that also deserves to be shared. So I’m working on part two but for now, a piece of me that is close to my heart….

Me, age 2

Me, age 2

Growing up, my parents used to tell me I made them so happy that’s how they got pregnant with my brother. We’re only 13 months apart and are not just close in age, but are also close as siblings.

As the oldest child, I attempted to rule the roost – and you’d think having the knowledge that the happiness I bestowed made me solely responsible for my brother’s birth would have gone to my head but it didn’t. My parents, after struggling to have a child, were honestly so happy to finally have me, that they had stopped trying to get pregnant and voila…baby brother.

Here’s the thing: he’s their biological child, but I’m not.

While my parents adopted me before I was born, I was never addressed as Dennis and Sandra’s adopted daughter Coreen. That label never entered our vocabulary and not because they tried to hide anything from me. Quite the contrary: as far back as I can remember I’ve always known I was adopted.

Physically, it was clear: I looked different from the rest of my family.

And I’d see family resemblances in others all the time. It’s hard not to, when people love to classify things like looks, throwing out “Oh! she has your smile or he really has his daddy’s eyes!” when meeting new children. This meant to me, especially as a child, that a family resemblance was something purely physical.

When my son was born in 2007, I finally had my own family resemblance. Mattias is the perfect blend of me and my husband. Upon first glance, he is his father’s mini-me but look closer and you’ll see that the shape of his eyes, his fair complexion, his body type, his long fingers, are so very much from his mama.

That’s when the fact that I’m adopted hit home: seeing my physical self in the embodiment of my child kicked my where did I come from curiosity into hyper-drive.

So I began to search. Being born in the era of closed adoptions means California law permits me to know very little about my birth mother. And when I say very little, I mean I’m allowed to know she enjoyed “spectator sports and macramé” (it was the 70s). Knowing her hobbies wasn’t much to go on, and I’m no Veronica Mars, but a good challenge never fazed me.

And this would-be detective had a partner, someone who was there every step of the way, from the beginning. My mom and I had a long talk about my desire to find my birth mother, and bless her heart, she had saved every scrap of paper and committed to memory every detail of the phone conversation she had with my birth mother before the adoption was finalized. She knew, in that blessed heart, the day would come when her daughter said the words all adoptive parents wait to hear: “I want to find my birth mother.”

So in addition to knowing my birth mother liked macramé, I also knew what high school she had attended and probably the most important piece…her maiden name.

Armed with this knowledge, I was relentless in my quest. I road-tripped to the public library near her high school and found pictures of her in old yearbooks; I exhausted the people search on ancestor.com. I scoured numerous State birth and death indexes and eventually met a really nice lady who helps pre-1980s adoptees like me, and together we tracked down her married name.

And one day, in May of 2008, Google came through. I knew where she worked and oh my God I had an e-mail address. My husband doesn’t call me Information Super-highway for nothing.

I didn’t contact her immediately. Instead, I freaked out. I began to question why I wanted to find her and wondered if she would even want to meet me.

I knew in my heart and from my own experience that being pregnant, carrying your child, giving birth, is something you do not forget. And I imagined that coupled with making the decision to place a baby up for adoption, and writing the words my birth mother put to paper in the letter my mom saved for me would make it even more impossible to forget. But I couldn’t bring myself to reach out, even though I wanted to say to her, “Thank you for giving me the wonderful life I have.”

It took me over three months to work up the courage before I finally sent her an e-mail. An e-mail that probably made me sound like a lunatic:

“I’m sorry to do this through e-mail, but I don’t have any other way to reach you except show up at your work and that seemed like an even bigger invasion. I’ve thought about this for a long time but have never been able to come up with a non-shocking way to say this, so here it is: I think you are my birth mother.”

She responded the very next day. And I met her for the first time that weekend. Because, as it turned out, we live 33 miles apart.

The moment we first saw each other was overwhelming yet familiar all at the same time. And Just. Like. That. I had another family resemblance… in the color of my eyes, my fair complexion, my body type, my long fingers.

But it was more than just a physical resemblance. I learned we share a dislike for tomatoes, but like peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. We embrace a love of the written word and our chosen professions reflect that. She was faculty adviser for her school newspaper; I wrote for both my high school and college papers. And we both have a penchant for the mystery/suspense/thriller genre in books (probably why my detective work panned out so well).

I also learned that not only did she want to meet me; she really wanted to get to know me.

There were more reunions to be had: my birth father, grandmother, two brothers, three sisters, three nieces, aunt, uncle and cousins.

Meeting my birth family has given me a better sense of who I am because I now know that a family resemblance is more than just physical, more than having your mother’s smile or your daddy’s eyes.

It’s a blend of nurture and nature, shared experiences, people who touch your life. It’s about having a sense of belonging, being comfortable in your own skin and recognizing the unique traits that make you special, something I hope I am teaching to my own children.

2014 marks five years since we’ve been reunited and my heart is filled with gratitude for my birth mother and her selfless choice to give me up for adoption, giving me this wonderful life.

For my husband, without him I would not be mother to our two beautiful children, who I see myself in every day.

And gratitude for my dad and mom, for picking me to be their daughter, always believing in me and supporting me in my search to learn more about what makes me, me.

Family is what you make it, whether you are born into it or not.

gingerbreadmama