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.

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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.

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Not Sure How I Feel About “Birthmother’s Day”

I know the intention was probably good, but it turns out that the day before Mother’s Day (today) is known as Birthmother’s Day.

Why the mixed feelings? Well, I don’t know that we need a separate day. I think Mother’s Day can be all-inclusive, extending to grandmothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, aunts, Godmothers, cousins, sisters, friends, and caregivers. Too broad a definition? Maybe. But as a birthmother, I don’t know that I want to be singled out on a particular day.

Now I can totally see the other side of this argument. Right now, I’m fortunate to be parenting two young girls with my husband. But the years before I had the girls were sometimes filled with a roller coaster of emotions.

I remember working at Disney on Mother’s Day one year when a family approached the Guest Relations window where I worked. (Guest Relations is a fancy term for customer service in Disney lingo). The family was so distraught. Well, scratch that. The MOM was the one who was distraught. She presented to me four, 7-day theme park and water park tickets. But there were five people in her party, each of whom needed to have a ticket. Somehow she had lost a ticket, she explained to me. These tickets were not cheap, even in the mid 1990s. Families save for years to be able to go to Disney. I knew this. And I could feel for this mom.

But we had rules. Oh sure, we could replace tickets if presented with a receipt and a viable story. Or if our ‘gut’ told us the guest was being truthful. But to replace a ticket with a face value of $160 or so was unheard of.

She tried to hold back tears as I told her I didn’t think there was anything I could do.

And then my heart hurt. This mother was telling the truth. I knew it in my gut. I looked her in the eye and we connected for a moment. I told her to hold on…and I pleaded with my supervisor to approve the replacement ticket, which thankfully, he did. She cried. I cried. I came out and hugged her. And then she squeezed my hands, looked me right in the eye and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” She didn’t even ask if I was a mother, but perhaps she knew?

My point in all this is that birthmothers are not all the same. In general, experiencing Mother’s Day as a birthmom prior to becoming a parent never really bothered me. But the story I just told clearly affected me. I can relate to feelings of loneliness, regret, wonder…and I can relate to the pain only a mother’s heart knows. Maybe there were some Mother’s Days that did bug me. And maybe, like so many other emotions,  I conveniently and expertly shoved them way down to protect myself from the inevitable hurt.

But do we really need a day? Maybe some birthmothers do, and to them I say “Happy Birthmother’s Day.” Even though your heart may hurt, your choice was a brave one.

For me, I’ll enjoy Sunday with my two little monkeys. I’ll look forward to the phone call from my son (which is always so wonderful).

And I’ll ride the wave of emotions with gratitude.

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Call from a Disney Princess!

This sounds great – my daughters would love this 🙂

Shiawase Life

Taking a stroll around my local Target store today on my lunch break, I came across an end cap with an interesting message:

RapunzelCall

Now, since I have become pretty immersed in the idea of interactive and mobile technologies in my graduate school classes, this proposition not only appealed to my tech geek side, but of course, my Disney Dork side 🙂 Naturally, I had to see what it was all about, so I whipped out my iPhone and texted as directed.

princesscall1

 

Right after sending ‘PRINCESS’ to 33992, I received a message back that asked what Princess I’d like to have call me! The choices were (1) Merida (2)Rapunzel and (3) Cinderella. For my first try (yes, I would eventually try all three) I chose Rapunzel, so sent ‘2’ as my choice.

princesscall2

After confirming that Rapunzel was my choice, I received another message; this one asking when I’d like the…

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3 Things I Learned from Annette Funicello

I didn’t grow up in the 1950s. I’m a child of the 70s, which means I didn’t see Annette Funicello’s smile light up the black and white TV as an original Mousketeer. I first remember seeing her on the Skippy peanut butter commercials. Even then, I remember thinking how beautiful and radiant she was.

I did, however, work for the mouse for many years in Orlando. My love for all things Disney began young with the Little Golden books, then the Wonderful World of Disney as I got older, and then it really took off when I got to perform at the Magic Kingdom with my high school chorus group as a teenager. I started working at Disney in 1990 when the new Mickey Mouse Club was introducing new talent like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. My first job there was at the Disney MGM Studios (now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios). I drove the big long red shuttle trams around the studios while giving a “backstage tour” to guests.

One day, Annette was visiting the Studios to give the new mouseketeers a surprise visit. I recall seeing her riding around the backlot in a golf cart and giving my shuttle a waver and her signature smile. With the announcement of her passing today, it made me think about the woman behind the mouse ears. And three things came to mind that I think are really good life lessons.

1. Keep smiling. I dare you to find a picture of Annette Funicello where she isn’t smiling. Seriously. There really aren’t any. Even when she was in a serious moment, the smile was there. It shone brightly behind her eyes.

2. Stay positive. Bad things happen to good people. For more than 25 years, Annette Funicello battled Multiple Sclerosis rather privately. She established the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. And she continued to work for years after her initial diagnosis. She was an inspiration to me and many others for the way she handled her debilitating illness with grace and dignity.

Fellow Mouseketeer and long-time friend Sharon Baird observed, “Throughout all the years we were friends she never changed from that sweet person who cared so much about others. She always had time for everyone; family, friends and fans alike. It’s no wonder she was America’s sweetheart.” – (courtesy of the Disney Post blog.)

3. Honor your past. We’ve all seen child stars who have tried to rid themselves of the image or character they portrayed as a child just so they could further their pursuits on the big screen. Instead of fighting against it, Annette Funicello embraced her Disney heritage. She was the only Mouseketeer who remained on contract with Walt Disney when the show ended and she went on to appear on other Disney shows and in movies. She was true to herself and her authenticity shone through in all of her work.

And for that, I thank her.

What’s your favorite memory of this Disney legend?