Thanks, 2013!

I came across this idea for a yearly recap while reading Kristen Howerton’s awesome blog, “Rage Against the Minivan.” And SHE got the idea from this equally awesome blog, “All & Sundry.”

So much stuff happened this year. In the world and within our family, I’m hoping a bunch of questions will help me organize my thoughts better than just a random data dump. Let’s hit it.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Shared my story of being a birthmother in a national documentary and with practically everyone I know on social media. It was overwhelming at first but once it was out there? Bam. All kinds of good stuff.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I had a few resolutions last year, although I failed to write any of them in a place where I might be held accountable for them. Deliberate attempt at self-sabotage? Perhaps. Here’s what I remember from last year. And what my results were:

  • Lose 25 pounds for my 25th high school reunion. Oy. Moving on.
  • Run 2nd half marathon and beat my previous time. YES! I’ll never come in first, but I sure as hell wasn’t last.
  • Go to BlogHer convention. Didn’t make it this year, but I’d love to shoot for this year 🙂
  • Grow my blog. YES! And still growing. Thanks for reading!
  • Grow my business. YES! Love working from home. Love writing. Love helping people grow their business. 
  • Get Bridget potty-trained for the Disney cruise in December. Nope. But this has been moved to a 1st quarter goal for 2014. TOP PRIORITY.
  • Read 25 books. YES! And more..(come join me on Goodreads!)
  • Get caught up on all my photos and scrapbooks. Um…I’m so far behind it’s pitiful.

For 2014, I have just five words that describe my intentions.
I hope to be more:

PATIENT – with my kids, with my husband, with myself. New mantra: Nobody and nothing is perfect. Let it go.

ENGAGING – specifically with my kids and my husband. Technology is lovely, but I fear it’s creeping too far into my brain that it leaves with me much less to give. I want to change that.

CONSISTENT – With my writing, my fitness goals, family meal planning, and in how I work with my husband to raise our girls.

BRAVE – In both my personal & professional life. I want to try new things, put myself out there. Second new mantra: No regrets.

KIND – I’m a fairly nice person, but I’d prefer to be kind. Nice is for sissies. Kind is being a good human being. Plus it’s a good example for my kiddos. Also, if I’m alone in my car and someone cuts me off, I’d prefer to kindly flip them off rather than nicely shout obscenities that only I can hear. Sweet of me, huh?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


My niece gave birth to a little girl. And some good friends of mine adopted their second son in as many years. They are gorgeous, they are biological brothers and they are all involved in an open adoption. Which makes my heart happy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

A great-uncle on my husband’s side, but thankfully, no one else.

5. What countries did you visit?

The Bahamas during our Disney Cruise. But that doesn’t really count because I didn’t get off the ship. Nassau is all kinds of icky.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A million dollars. OK fine. I have to go with more balance and organization. I am really happy to be working from home doing what I love. But it’s a challenge to prioritize my time and make sure I don’t shortchange my girls and my husband. That, and more wine.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 3 – My oldest daughter’s ninth birthday and the day I shared publicly that I am a birthmom.

May 16 – Our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years! Seems like yesterday 🙂

The whole month of December – Disney cruise with my husband’s side of the family and a special family wedding in Salem, Massachusetts where I got to see my son and his family.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Launching and growing my own business as a freelance writer and social media manager.
Also, dropping a jean size. It wasn’t quite the 25 pounds mentioned earlier, but I’ll take it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m trying to no longer dwell on the past or on failures, but if I had to point to something it’s losing my temper more often than I would have liked. Which is also why “being more patient” is one of my top goals for this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The Disney Cruise (technically, the husband paid for it, but I don’t think he reads my blog…so…).

12. Where did most of your money go?

Groceries, diapers (omg can’t wait for her to be potty trained), and books for my Kindle Fire

13. What did you get really excited about?

The Taylor Swift concert back in March. We surprised my 9 year old with tickets. I think I enjoyed it as much as she did.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The “Let It Go” song from Disney’s Frozen movie. The movie was way better than I expected. It must be noted that I didn’t like “Brave” at all. Like not even a little bit. So my expectations were low. But this movie was really spectacular. And the soundtrack is delicious. This song, in particular, is like an anthem for me. Don’t mean to be all drama, but don’t we all kind of struggle with the perfect girl / perfect daughter / perfect mom / perfect wife thing? Or is it just me. Either way, I totally dig this song.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl
You always had to be
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let them know
Well, now they know…
Let it go…let it go…can’t hold it back anymore.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier – definitely.
– thinner or fatter? Eeesh. ’bout the same.
– richer or poorer? About the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Written more.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


I’m totally copying this answer from All & Sundry – my temper was rather short this year. But I’m working on it…

18. How did you spend Christmas?

I feel like we had a two-week long Christmas this year. How lucky were we? First a week-long Disney cruise where the ship and the characters were all decked in their holiday finest. Time with family and friends in Texas. Rushing to get our Christmas tree on the 23rd and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with my husband and girls. Then a whirlwind trip to Massachusetts for a family wedding, a family Christmas party, and the chance to see my folks and my son. Best. Christmas. Ever.

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19. What was your favorite TV program?

Modern Family, The Amazing Race, Elementary, Who Do You Think You Are, and The Goldberg’s. 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Wild, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Husband’s Secret, and Carry On, Warrior.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I’ve been listening to classic and new Alanis Morrisette, Kenny Chesney, Goo Goo Dolls, and Justin Timberlake this year.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Saving Mr. Banks and Argo. Note: I’m sure Argo came out last year or even the year before, but we’re Netflix people so I’m still playing catch-up.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 43 (holy shit) and my wonderful husband took me to see the fabulous Broadway show “Once.” It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And just for fun, I got yelled at by the crabby ushers not once – but twice. (no pun intended). The first time was for snapping a photo of the theater guests miling around the on-stage bar. The show hadn’t yet started but I didn’t realize there were copyrights on stuff that happens prior to showtime. The second time was for putting my program on the ledge in front of me. Where it could very well have fallen to the lower level and KILLED SOMEONE. A note to the ushers in the center balcony: calm the frick down.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The whole losing weight in time for the reunion thing. But honestly, there’s no one to blame but me.

Me, and wine. And chocolate. And bagels. And all carbs.

25. What kept you sane?

Reading and writing. To loosely quote one of my personal heroes, Glennon Doyle, “reading and writing is like inhaling and exhaling.”

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.


Letting go is not only important, it’s essential. Meditation is good for me, but not if I’m thinking about Andrew Shue. Kids don’t want much – just your undivided attention and your unending love forever and ever. Being a parent is tough and hard and totally worth it.

A Single Gift (my latest column on Open Adoption Bloggers)

A Single Gift

Kim column topper

Every year I dig out the boxes and the red and green plastic bins from our storage area. I haul them up to our living room and prepare for a flood of memories as I begin to relive my Christmases past.

As you might guess, the bins are filled with holiday decorations and ornaments I’ve collected over the years. Some of the ornaments are still in their original boxes and others are wrapped in makeshift cushions of paper towels, bubble wrap or newspaper. As if on a secret treasure hunt, I retrieve them one by one. I unwrap each ornament in my hands as if waiting for their story to be revealed.

You see, I’m not one to purchase the package of multicolor bulbs or to decorate with certain colors or themes each year. Don’t get me wrong. I love the look of beautifully decorated trees. It’s almost an art form, isn’t it? At the hands of a skilled decorator, what starts out as either a real or artificial evergreen tree almost magically transforms into an illuminated masterpiece.

My tree is less of a masterpiece and more of a mosaic. A hodgepodge of decorations each representing various events in my life. And each one carrying with it a special memory from the past.

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University of Central Florida – Go Knights 🙂

There’s the hand-embroidered ornament with the logo of our alma mater made by a friend and fellow classmate. I was lucky to have participated in a unique program with UCF and my employer at the time, Walt Disney World. About 40 of us signed up for this degree program that would be taught on Disney property. Over the course of the two years, our group shrunk to about 29 people or so, but the majority of us graduated with our BA in Communication in 1996 – disproving the unfortunate nickname for the college which was, “U Can’t Finish.” I met my husband while attending UCF.

The ornament my husband inadvertently stole. Which he says I stole.

The ornament my husband inadvertently stole. Which he says I stole. Um, no I didn’t.

There’s a covered bridge ornament from Vermont that we got years ago.

Somehow we walked out of the quaint little gift shop without paying for it. We didn’t realize this until we were miles away. We still tease each other about it. (for the record, HE stole it, I did not).

And there are tons of those thin, gold ornaments from our anniversary trip to Hawaii, a solo excursion to Nashville, and a visit to Yosemite. They reflect the light so beautifully.

But my favorite ornament is a delicate, pearl white bulb with a hand-painted picture of Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. It’s the first ornament that goes on my tree and it’s the last ornament I put away. It means the world to me because it was a gift from my son. He picked it out while shopping with his mom back in 1992. He was four. I was single at the time and living on my own, but it quickly became the central piece of my small, but growing collection. It has a quote on it which reads,

“Each of us the child shall bless, with a single gift – no more, no less.”

When I first read the quote, it made me stop in my tracks. I’m overwhelmed each time I read it. No gift comes close to the gifts of love and family and friendship. And I’ve been lucky enough to receive all three through my open adoption relationship with my son and his family.

Over the years, I’ve kept all the cards, letters and photos he and his family have been kind enough to send me. But this ornament holds a tender place in my heart. And it always will.

sleepingbeautyornament

The Last Thing I Hid

This is one of the prompts from BlogHer for the daily blog post challenge: tell us about the last thing you hid.

The last thing I hid was our Elf on a Shelf. My nine year old got her a few years ago on Thanksgiving and she named her “Katie the Elf.” Do you know the whole elf story?

source: amazon.com

source: amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the rules:

No one can touch the elf.

No one can move the elf.

The elf “leaves” every night and “reports” back to Santa at the North Pole.

If my husband and I aren’t too tired or lazy or drunk to remember, she reappears each morning in a different spot.

She returns back to my jewelry box the North Pole on Christmas Eve and doesn’t return until next Thanksgiving.

For the life of me I couldn’t remember where I had stashed Katie. I couldn’t put her with the Christmas decor because my daughter would surely find her. Luckily, I have a decent size jewelry box with multiple hidden compartments. Let’s just say Katie folds up nicely.

I see some people on Facebook do some really creative things with their elves. I’m going to try to be a bit more creative with my elf placement this year. And I’m going to set my alarm to go off every night at 11pm so I remember to move her. There were way too many nights last year when my husband and I were cozy and warm in bed when we realized we hadn’t moved Katie. Wish me luck!

 

Oh Please, Not The Whole “Happy Holidays” Thing Again

I have no problem at all with how people greet me during the holidays. As long as it doesn’t involve an insult or calling me a name I wouldn’t want my kids to hear. Say “Merry Christmas” to me, and I’ll thank you and say it right back to you. Say “Happy Holidays” and I’ll return the favor. Say “Happy Hanukkah” and I shall wish you the same.

I took my daughter to the Radio City Christmas show tonight and as we walked in, one of the greeters said, “Hi everybody! Happy Holidays!”

To which an elderly, white man SHOUTED back, “THAT’S MERRY CHRISTMAS, SON!”

Way to go, sir. Your mean spiritedness really showed him.

Posts like these and various chain emails about the importance of saying “Merry Christmas” make their rounds every year and they bug me. For goodness sake, if you want to say Merry Christmas, then say it. But don’t be offended if everyone doesn’t say it. And certainly don’t be offended if someone wants to say Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or Buenas Noches (fine, forget that last one – I’m just checking to see if you’re still with me). My point is, why can’t we all just exchange greetings…smile…and enjoy it?

Does everything have to be a political statement? I don’t want to be all crabby about this because who cares? I’ll continue to say what I want to say. And I think everyone else should too. So good bye crabbiness and hello ‘NSync. Don’t tell anyone, but I love ‘NSync and I love this song. And note – it’s called “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.” Good for you, young Justin Timberlake.

 

Wrapping Presents…

While my oldest is at a sleepover tonight we are taking full advantage and wrapping some Christmas presents.

I’m falling into the trap. I want to wrap each thing individually so it will look like we got more presents. How very commercial of me, right?

Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this!

I Can’t Seem To Get In The Mood

The holiday mood, that is. I can’t seem to get in the spirit just yet. Work is busy, which I’m grateful for. And the girls keep me busy. My husband’s traveling has stopped until the end of the year, which is also a good thing.

Maybe it’s the fact that we have no snow yet. It’s been plenty cold. Bitter, even. But no snow yet. I’ve purged and organized our coat closet and restocked our scarves, gloves, mittens, earmuffs and winter boots in anticipation of the first flurries.

Could be that unlike years past, I’m not actively listening to holiday music yet. Although while walking past a lonely Santa at our local mall (a clear and sad indication to me that perhaps I’m not the only one struggling to embrace Christmas before Thanksgiving), I listened to the piped in mall music…and realized the song that was playing is one of my favorites. It was the Vince Guaraldi Trio playing the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. My favorite song on that whole CD – “Christmastime Is Here” – is kind of slow and almost mournful. But I love it.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I just need a little more Charlie Brown.  🙂

Do You Send Christmas Cards?

source: alteredheartworks.blogspot.com

source: alteredheartworks.blogspot.com

Do you send Christmas cards? Or Hanukkah cards? Or any kind of holiday card? Over the last few years I’ve noticed the amount of holiday cards we receive is slowly dwindling. People just aren’t inclined to send actual cards anymore. Never mind the convenience of preprinted photo cards where you don’t even have to pick up a pen to sign your name. It’s all done for you.

I love sending Christmas cards and I love receiving Christmas cards. I love seeing them in our mailbox and opening them up to see the handwritten note from an aunt or cousin or the pictures of children who have grown so much since last year. And I love picking the right spot in our home to hang the cards.

At our old home in Syracuse, we hung them on the back of our front door and when the door was full, we spilled over onto the walls of the entry hallway. Here in New Jersey, we’ve hung them on the door arches in our dining room and going into our kitchen. It’s a fun tradition that my girls are appreciating. And it keeps them reminded of family and friends that we don’t have the chance to see very often.

My Christmas card list always seems so long. But I don’t mind. It’s usually around 90 or so cards that I send. Postage alone kills me. But I’ve incorporated a tradition that my son’s mother has done every year – I try to write a poem that summarizes our family adventures. This part is always kind of fun. I try to get it just right, although it often needs tweaking. I can’t just bang out the poem in one sitting and I often work with my husband to move some words around or change some phrasing. It’s a fun process and it’s a nice way to look back on our year.

But I think the tradition of card-sending is slowly dying. I’ll still send my cards this year. I don’t plan to quit anytime soon. But I’m curious what others think. Is this a long gone tradition? Is it considered too passe in this age of email and texting? Am I the only one that still likes sending (and receiving) Christmas cards?