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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.

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

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

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.

MZK_2013

gingerbreadmama

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

 

 

gingerbreadmama

It’s A Blonde Thing?

My husband had to work yesterday so my dad picked Fussypants up from school and took him to baseball practice (it takes a village, remember) and I ended up arriving at home with Little Miss before they did. In her typical I’m 3 and most days think clothing should be optional unless it’s an accessory fashion sense way, she began to undress as she walked through the door. One shoe there, another…way…over….there…socks, skirt…all discarded haphazardly in her wake.

I saw the socks first. We have a Golden Retriever who thinks all socks should be his. Thus tiny, casually discarded footwear always hits my radar. So I asked her to pick them up. It went something like this…

Me: Honey, dirty socks don’t belong on the dining room floor. Put them in the laundry please.
Little Miss: I can’t find the other one.
Me: You’d better. I don’t want Crusher to eat it.

Thinking she obliged, I went about my business of preparing dinner. Then I noticed she was still hunting around the dining room.

Me: Did you find it?
Little Miss: Nope.

As my dad and son walked in the house, I realized that she hadn’t found it…because she was still wearing it.

FPK_onesock

I don’t know what’s worse. Me not noticing, or her!

 

 

 

gingerbreadmama

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

gingerbreadmama