Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Favorites: December 12

The holiday season is magical with a child: I love looking at the lights through his eyes, anticipating the presents, thinking of nice things to do for others, the decorating, and, of course, the cookies.

This Christmas, I'm so thankful to have this life. I have nothing to complain about (although sometimes I still do). Find an extra smile in your arsenal. Help someone who needs something. Love. Listen. Make a difference in the world.

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In case you missed it, I had my first post at In The Powder Room this week. I don't usually write humor, but I jumped at the chance to work with editor Leslie, who is a gem.

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Jen Meer wrote some excellent points to ponder at the Washington Post: "As a parent, I think a lot about wanting to place my kids in a bubble, about wanting to shield them from hurt and struggle and failure. But I can’t help but think how wrong that is. About how good and useful it can be in this life to wander with no particular purpose at all, about how great it can be to fall and to fail once in a while, because all of that is shaping them for something bigger, something great."

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For all of the grandparents in the audience, this one at Scary Mommy is for you:

"But then you became grandparents…to our children. Now we are you, and you have suddenly become something magical."

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Just for a smile, look at this photo from Elaine Alguire.

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If you struggled with infertility, you will appreciate Kathryn's poignant journey at Mamalode.

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I was a teenager in the 80s, and this post from Tara at You Know It Happens at Your House Too about what Facebook would have been like back then made me laugh this week.

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Because of this article in the NY Times, when I was traveling this week, I started saying good night to Siri. And she says good night back... it's kind of sweet.

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I love this Christmas wish from Jennifer Williams

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Speaking of Christmas, are you still looking for Christmas presents? 

Elaine of the Miss Elaine-ous Life has a great recipe for peppermint bark 

My friend Kate has a great collection from Simply Om; it's gorgeous fair trade jewelry.

This gift from Uncommon Goods is on my list. I want it to sit on my desk and inspire me to keep the stories coming. One by one, we can bring change and light.

Love, Kristin

Monday, December 8, 2014

Featured at In The Powder Room today, with a humor post!

Credit: In The Powder Room
Today, I'm featured at In The Powder Room, a humor site for women run by the fantastic Leslie Marinelli.

It's my first humor post, and it's all about trying to translate our family cookbook.

"This is what it’s like to read the recipes my grandmother and her sisters submitted to the cookbook. But it was Christmas, after all, and my soul needed some of that comfort food from my childhood. I started with the sauce. How hard could it be?

Start with the good oil, it began. Put a little in the pan.


The good oil? Which one is that? How much? Which pan? WHERE ARE THE MEASUREMENTS?

Saute six cloves of garlic. 

Breathe. OK, I can do this. Now we’re rolling.

Add a medium onion and two cans of crushed tomatoes.

Onion, check. Tomatoes . . . wait. How many ounces in the can? What kind?


Enjoy.  :-)


Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Favorites: December 5

Last night, my family decorated our Christmas tree. Nearly every ornament we have tells a story: this one is one my husband made when he was a kid, this one my son made two years ago in preschool, this one is from our visit to Halifax, this one is from my friend Alexis' annual holiday tea party last year, and so on. It's like unwrapping a memory with each one we take out of the box, and it is an event every year.

We have two beautiful, ornate ornaments that Grace, an elderly friend of my in-laws', gave to us as a wedding gift; they are very special - they came straight from her tree and she passed them on to us as a gift of love. Grace is 95 now, and I'm honored to have a piece of her home in ours. I hope that someday, our ornaments can be passed on in a similar fashion.

Speaking of gifts, it's less than three weeks until Christmas, and I am still trying to figure out what to get for a few more people. In the meantime, Uncommon Goods (a vendor I LOVE) asked me if I'd like to review a couple of items of my choice. I chose the DIY lip balm set for one of my nieces, and the construction plate/ utensil set for the son of a friend. It took me a ridiculously long time to choose these two items, because I love so many of their gifts. I'm planning to order this mother/daughter book for a friend of mine, as well - it's a great idea as a keepsake item.  Check them out here and here for more wonderful ideas.

Pssst - if you want to win this construction plate/ utensil set, all you have to do is comment on this post, and I'll give it away next Friday via for the drawing. 

If you're looking for a book for a child, this one - A Moon of My Own - is absolutely gorgeous. Written by two friends of mine and self published, it is a feast for the eyes and ears.

This week has been a juxtaposition of holiday cheer and frightening news clips. Many people I admire are writing beautiful and important things, including this post by Heather King. And Arnebya Herndon.

In case you missed it, I had my first post at the On Parenting blog at the Washington Post this week on color blindness. Thank you so much to all of the friends and friends of friends who shared it and supported the message. A few weeks ago, the Blogging Betties ran an interview podcast with me, and I stated that I wanted to be published at the Washington Post as one of my goals. My friend Kate reached out to me and offered to introduce me to the WaPo editor, and it all happened quickly. I feel very lucky.

In fact, the editor, Amy Joyce, wrote this beautiful piece that Kate told me about. (Tissue alert)

More reading/ viewing:

The Giving Tree. I loved this concept.

The beautiful, uplifting video about a young woman who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone to become a ballet dancer in New York City is worth watching more than once.

This post from Sherri Kuhn is one of those that will make you stop for a moment and cherish your little ones, or remember when your kids were little ones.

And finally, this post by Kirsten Piccini is beautifully crafted.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Featured at the Washington Post

I'm honored that the Washington Post chose to run my piece on color-blindness, race, and raising a son in our country on their parenting blog. 

For 8 years, I volunteered in Atlanta at a summer camp for kids with asthma. The kids ranged from 6-13, many from the inner city. These children were beautiful and smart and fun; a few of them, especially the boys, had troublesome pasts that played out as behavioral issues at camp.

One child I remember in particular was Shaquille. I wish I had known then what I know now about the racial divide and what his future might look like. I wish I would have/ could have done more to help him. I thought that I was color blind and that was enough.

Not long ago, I asked my childhood friend Crystal what it's like to be the mother of a black boy in America, and she gave me an honest, open answer. 

What I learned, I wrote in this article - my debut post for the Washington Post's On Parenting from The Washington Post blog.

Being color blind is not enough. Together, we can affect change.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Favorites: November 7

Next week, I'll be the emcee of the Airport Consultants Council annual conference, as the chair of the committee. It's a great honor for me to represent this organization, and it gives me a chance to stay involved on a part-time basis in an industry I love. So I won't be online as much next week; in the meantime, please enjoy these essays and bits from around the internet!

[Please note that I embedded the links within the descriptions]

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Are you a writer? Arnebya's words at BlogHer on finding your authentic voice are honest, straightforward, and fantastic in a way that only Arnebya can be.

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Need a humor break? This out-of-the-mouths-of-babes story at Great Moments in Parenting is straight out of the old Reader's Digest days.

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"Not helicopter. Not no-rescue. But interdependence. Maybe we can just call it parenting. Or, you know, being human." This post from NYT Motherlode blew me away with its honesty. I agree with so much of what Catherine says here.

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I found myself nodding and smiling through Nicole's essay on focusing on the positive at her blog. "It’s probably what all of us need.  Some rain drops in our lives instead of criticism and negativity.  Sometimes cheering is enough."

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I featured Lindsey Mead's post on 11 a couple of weeks ago, and 12 and 13 from Allison Slater Tate and Bethany Meyer are up next. Don't miss any of them:

"Luckily, when I need a hug, he gives me one willingly. His arms now wrap all the way around me, his cheek next to mine, his feet on the ground. I hope those crazy legs of his hold him steady and strong when he walks away from me someday. I know now that it is my job to make sure they do."

"I find that I like him.

He is clever. Well spoken. Smart. He engages comfortably with adults. He enjoys people and wants to put them at ease. He is an old soul. He reminds me of the things I love most about my Dad.

Yes, I miss when his hand was little, and it fit so perfectly in mine. I miss the way he climbed onto my lap. I miss hugs initiated by his little arms. I miss singing him a lullaby every night.

But 13 is good stuff."

For more sweetness on adolescence, take a look at Shannon Duffy's post too.

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I have clearly been under a rock to have missed this creative Tumblr site so far. It's Khoi's world.

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Austin friends:

Do you and your kids read the Frog and Toad book series, by Arnold Lobel?

Last Saturday, the Zach theater gave me tickets to see the children's show A Year with Frog and Toad, a stage show/ musical based on the series. I brought my son, a friend of mine, and her son; the boys were rapt the entire time. The two30-minute segments were the perfect length for kids, and the music and animated stage presence of the cast was enjoyable for the parents and the kids too.

After the show, my son and his friend were thrilled to meet the cast and take pictures, and they were friendly and approachable. It's a great way to introduce little ones to stage shows.  

If you're in town, go see it! It runs through November 29.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just hang on

There is something about night that can feel so deliriously giddy and free and anything-can-happen good.

There is something about the night that can feel so overwhelmingly, terrifyingly, anything-can-happen bad.

For me, nothing illustrated this dichotomy more than motherhood.  When my son was new to this world, tiny and helpless, the daytime was often glorious. I could have stared at his little face for hours, waiting for his first smile, first laugh, first anything. The nighttime was tiring, but I was managing.

And then, when my son was a month old, the insomnia set in. Postpartum anxiety took over my brain and really messed it up, temporarily.

I would lie awake for hours, knowing that I needed the sleep desperately, but my mind was racing out of control. A six-pack of wild horses could not have felt more chaotic. Those nights were brutal as I watched the minutes tick by on the clock, and felt incredibly lonely as I counted down to my son’s next cry, signaling the need to nurse again. I nursed and pumped around the clock, pushing my body past its physical limits, trying so hard to be the perfect mother and do everything "right".

The last few nights before the Zoloft kicked in were the worst. I rocked from side to side, pleading, praying, bartering for sleep. I gave myself five minutes at a time and considered driving straight to the ER to beg them for a sleep aid and a room to myself. When I got through each wave, I told myself four life-preserving words:
Hang on until morning.

And as I got through it and my body got back on track, I remembered what it was like when I was going through a divorce, and the nights were nearly as terrifying. During that dark period of the divorce, those first nights were terrible. They sucked more than I had imagined they would, and the loneliness was crushing. You can’t see the hope in the darkness. You can’t see what’s in front of you because you’re cloaked in the inky blues of the far side of the sun.

Please make time fast-forward to the point when I would be happy again, I would cry, sometimes silently, and sometimes aloud.

It’s true for every tough point in my life. Each angsty teenage drama, any argument I’ve had with my husband, every lonely 3 AM nursing or pumping session when my son was a baby. Getting through the night is a triumph, as the sun bursts over the horizon and the daytime brings some semblance of normalcy. 

I have a friend who is going through a divorce with three kids. The first nights away from her kids when they went to visit their dad were agonizing.

Hang on. It’s almost Monday, I told her. I'm here and I'm listening.

Another friend is exhausted, with a 17-month-old and a newborn.

Hang on. It is going to get better.

Another friend has a son with Sensory Processing Disorder, and the time she puts into helping him cope is exhausting. She naps in the car while waiting for preschool to end.

Just hang on. Tomorrow will be better.

For new mothers, it is especially lonely at night, whether she is a single mother or a happily married woman with a supportive husband nearby. Those hours between 12 and 6 AM are the hardest: there is nothing on TV to distract you, there is no movement and no sign of life aside from you and your baby (or babies, as it may be) and the night seems to go on forever. I remember that feeling.

All of you:

New moms.

Moms with kids with special needs.

Moms with kids who wake them up all night long.

Moms with kids who are ill.

Moms in terrible relationships who don’t know how to get out.

Moms in the process of a separation or divorce and missing their babies.

Moms of multiples who are so exhausted they can barely speak.

Hang on a little longer. Hold on by your fingernails to get past that moment.

Call a friend. Ask for help. Don't hesitate to tell people what you need. Don't try to do it all by yourself.

It will get better.

The sun is coming back in the morning, and with it, the light will refract the shadows into something you recognize again. And you will see yourself in the light of day and remind yourself that everything is going to be OK.

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These words from Heather at The Extraordinary-Ordinary rang true to me as I read them today:
"And hope stands in defiance, like this three year old pulling on my pajamas, begging to be held. Defiance can be the best thing."




Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Favorites: October 31 (The Halloween edition)

Aside from Christmas, my favorite holiday is Halloween. I love to dress up, I love trick or treating with my son, and I love pumpkin everything. (Trader Joe's has 65 different pumpkin products in stock this season, incidentally...)

So if you'll excuse me, I have big plans with a very short Darth Vader tonight.

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Robyn is new to HuffPost, and I found her through Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying; Robyn's words are so reflective and beautiful:

"And the beauty of motherhood is how we deliver just that. It's how we show up, knock on a door, wade through the discomfort and embarrassment and shame and guilt of a moment and do the right thing. Because our children are watching. And because we might have felt like a failure five minutes ago, but we push through it and keep trying, prodded by a love we cannot adequately describe."

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This one, from my friend Alexandra, broke my heart. But it's important, and she makes some great points about the questions we could ask our kids to find out what's really going on at school.

"These are critical questions to ask. And both sides need to be involved; the ones being bullied, and the ones doing the bullying. We need to recognize the signs of being bullied and parents need to ask their children, “Are YOU doing any bullying?”

Bullying has to be talked about. I never thought to ask my son, “Are you okay at school?” Bullying can happen to any child, to any family – even when you think you would not be a target. Everyone is equally able to be a target and everyone is just as able to do the bullying.

Your child could be bullied, or be a bully. We need to ask both sides the questions now."

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"And in that mom part of my brain, I see a little girl wearing a tiny backpack not large enough for any high school textbooks. A tiny little girl wearing adorable round glasses, a pair of pink leggings and cute bangs that framed her sweet, smiling face."

What does it feel like when your teenager hers her drivers' license? Read Sherri's post here:

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I met Sabrina Parsons in Austin at a conference a couple of years ago, and I was impressed. This essay about a new benefit some companies are offering, and the implications for mothers in the corporate world is a great thinking piece. And I wish I had worked for her when I had my son, because she offers a wonderful environment for mothers at her company. 

For more on Sabrina, read Lindsey's interview here: 

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"Girls will be girls" is no more acceptable than "boys will be boys". This essay makes some great points on mean girls (and boys) and how our kids should treat each other.

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When Leslie Gibbons’ daughter was expecting her first baby, she despaired over the lack of mothers and mother-figures in fairytales.  She asked Leslie to write a story with a living, loving mother that she could share with her family.  That’s how A Fairytale for Mothers was born.

My friend Robyn, of Robyn Lane Books, is proud to present this book, the story of a mother bird’s love for her chicks, and the generous gift she shares with each one as it is his (or her) turn to leave the nest.  More, it is the story of how those adult chicks return to share gifts of their own. 

A Fairytale for Mothers is available November 18, 2014

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In case you missed it, I was a guest writer at Postpartum Progress this week:

And HuffPost Women:

And Tamara wrote a beautiful review of the first book in which I am featured, My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends.


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