All I Want For Christmas

“Let’s not buy anything for each other for Christmas this year,” I told my husband last month. “Let’s just appreciate all that we have and focus on our time together, with our friends and families. All I want is for us to be happy and for the world to be at peace. That’s all I need.”

This was my goal for this year. Not to amass more material things but to love what I have, appreciate all that we’ve accomplished. Go simple. Be stress-free.

“Fine.” My husband said. And so it was.

I spent the next weeks basking in my idealistic glow, needing nothing and feeling pretty good about myself. Until recently. I work from home, so I spend a good portion of my time in sweats and slippers. I noticed my slippers are getting a bit shabby. They’ve got to be about three years old and have seen better days. As I commute to work (walk the eleven steps to the back bedroom at the end of the hall – my office), I wonder if I should have suggested to my husband that he get me a new pair. You know, since I wear them every day.

No. I can live with these old slippers. They’re fine. They are. No holes. No obvious tear in the fabric. They keep my feet warm. I’ll make do. I want to simplify my life. Live stress-free. I just want world peace.

Every night I read in bed before I go to sleep. Lately I’m trying to ignore the fact that my Kindle Touch, four years old (which in technology years is ancient) is coming apart at the seams. Literally, it is splitting along the top. I’m surprised it’s still working. I wonder how long it’ll last.

Could be I was a bit hasty about my request for no gifts this Christmas.

Really, all I want is to be happy, stress-free, have world peace, and a pair of (Ugg) slippers and a Kindle Paperwhite. That’s all. No more.

As the cold weather sets in, I’m trying to ignore the nagging pain at the base of my back. I’m getting old. Stiff. Could probably use a full body massage. Would certainly add to my stress-free type of life. If I felt relaxed and loose, I’d certainly be happy and not so agitated. My children would benefit. World peace starts at home.

In essence, I just want to be happy, have world peace, a pair of Ugg slippers (mine are worn to the soles), a Kindle Paperwhite and a full body massage. That’s it. Stress-free. Simple.

I wonder if I should have hinted at all of the wonderful books that have been released that would fit nicely on my new Kindle Paperwhite. Good books always make me happy. And I could spread peace and goodwill throughout the world by giving reviews online.

So, my Christmas list looks something like this: happiness, world peace, a pair of Ugg slippers (what was I thinking to believe I could wear these shoddy things even one more day?), a Kindle Paperwhite, a full body massage and an Amazon gift card.

Now, how do I tell my husband I revised my list to include a few other high priority items along with world peace and happi…Wait! Why is the UPS man backing into our driveway? Could it be? Yes! He’s coming to the house! He’s carrying packages. Yes!

Ahem. As I was saying…World peace. Happiness. Isn’t that all we need?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and Peace, Health and Happiness in the New Year.

See you in 2016!!

xo

Dear Santa

Guess who? I know I haven’t written in four decades but I figure we had such a close relationship for those ten years back in the 70’s that you’d remember me. I’m the girl you surprised with the 3-foot teddy bear in 1975. He sat under the Christmas tree right next to my new, red Hoppity Hop. Yep, that one.

The reason for this letter is not what you think. I don’t want gifts this year. I have everything I need. What I want is to return for a few moments to the days when you were so prevalent in my life. The days when most everything was still new and possible, when the world was a beautiful, safe place to be, when my worries extended no further than school homework and whether or not I would get my Holly Hobbie playhouse, the days when we anxiously awaited the Rankin-Bass holiday specials that told your story. Did you know that children don’t have to wait for those shows anymore? Now, they can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. Instant gratification. That’s what we do now.

Hollyhobbie

I know I let you go after all you’d done for me. I also know that you expected it. It’s the natural progression: children pass the torch of belief to the next generation who continually keep you alive. I left you in good hands.

I was so happy when we re-connected twenty years later through my babies, who wrote you letters like this one, whose happiness and anticipation overflowed into their sleep on many Christmas Eves awaiting your arrival. What precious years they were. It was good to have you back. They’re teens now and have abandoned you as I did, passing on the torch once again.

 

I know you’re busy in the minds of countless deserving children, so I won’t take up more of your time. I just want to say, I miss everything you represented, to me and to my sons: unbridled joy, unquestioned belief and hope.

I wish I’d held onto you longer. I wish my children didn’t let you go. I miss you, big guy.

Good luck this year and for years to come. Gone are the days of Hoppity Hops and Holly Hobbie. We’re living in a time of gaming systems with war games and Hoverboards. Your job is getting more difficult.

Perhaps we’ll meet again in another ten or fifteen years. Until then, I wish you well.

Love,

Kim

P.S. Not for nothing, but don’t you have any pull at all with Snow Miser? His brother is ruining December!

palywoschmiser1

 

 

Thank You

Hello Friends,

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

dogone.com

Thanksgiving is upon us and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude. Thank you everyone, for sticking with me for two years, for your loyalty and wonderful comments.

I count my blessings every day and now, with the recent tragedies, I hold them close to my heart.

The world can seem like a scary place at times. There is much we cannot control. What we can do is appreciate what we have, spread love and goodwill (it’s so easy really) and not let fear keep us from realizing our dreams.

So, tomorrow as you find your way home, if even only in your hearts, I hope you enjoy the riches on your table, conversation with loved ones, cherished memories of those who have departed, and quiet reflection of  all that it  means to be American.

I’d like to express my condolences to the people of Paris during this difficult time. Paris is my favorite city outside of my own. I’ve walked the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and listened to the french children play in the schoolyard under the shadow of the magnificent Sacre Coeur in my mind over and over. Regardless of what has happened, I will return again to sit at the cafes and soak in her charm.

I wish you all a safe, happy Thanksgiving. See you in December.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Just checking in…

Hello Friends,

Welcome to November. This is it. Halloween is over. The “season” is upon us. The time of year where we face the daily countdown to you-know-when and fight to win the merciless race against the holiday clock, all while maintaining a jolly disposition. I’m not worried. Everything gets done. Then I celebrate with a pajama marathon of my own in front of the fireplace with wine and my kindle.

Someone somewhere decided that we should all get a head start by turning our clocks back an hour. Woo hoo. A whole hour. Still, I’ll take it. I could use the sleep.

My son turns seventeen this month, which is weird because I’m still only thirty. The mirror tells me otherwise, but in my mind, I’m still that new mom worried about her little baby. Except this baby is taking his road test next week and I’ll have to face the fact that one day very soon, days maybe, I’ll hand him car keys and say goodbye. Be careful. Come back…with mint chocolate chip ice cream, if possible. Okay, there is an upside.

My second book, Letting Go, a story very close to my heart, was released in September. It’s doing well. In fact, I will be a guest at a book club tomorrow where they will be discussing it. I’m so looking forward to hearing the group’s responses. It’s a wonderful learning experience for me to hear how readers react to my book, both positively and negatively.

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I recently finished Circling The Sun, by Paula McClain, based on Beryl Markham’s early life in Kenya before she flew solo (the first woman to do it) across the Atlantic from east to west. If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, I highly recommend this. McClain is a wonderful writer. I’d never heard of Beryl Markham and now I’ve added her own book, West With the Night, to my TBR list.

Then I re-read On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves because I remember loving it so much years ago. I loved it again. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. She self-published that one, you know. It’s still my favorite of her books. Lastly, I read In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. A bit dark (no, I’m not trying to be funny) and predictable, but it moved along quickly and kept my interest.  CirclingSun

OTI original cover

So, that’s about it for now. I hope you’re all doing well. I’ll be back before the real craziness sets in. Take a breath.

What are your plans for the upcoming season?

~Kim

Older Moms, New Tricks

Hello Friends,

So, my mother and mother-in-law finally retired their flip phones and joined 2015. They got their first iPhones.

Cue the dramatic music. Dun dun duuuuunn! (I don’t actually have dramatic music – so, apologies, but use your imagination.)

After a few brief tutoring sessions where we showed the basic features of the phone, we left them to their own devices (pun intended). As expected, they caught on quickly to receiving and making calls. Texting however, took a bit more time. They struggled with thumb-typing, so both women took immediately to using the microphone to send texts.

At first, I was receiving messages like this:

I can’t find a book before you leave send

And I’m going to say hi Kim I don’t know what you’re talking about thank you printed out

While quite entertaining, I was of course confused and had to call them to clarify, negating the use of the text feature.

Then my 82-year-old mother-in-law sent this:

IMG_5034Mom

I’m told she was at Happy Hour after Canasta and it was the wine talking. Her first (drunk) selfie. Hopefully her last. Though I won’t hold my breath. She runs with a racy crowd.

Yesterday, my sons told me that my mom started a group text. That’s right. A group text. Check it out:textIMG_0862

 

I’m so proud.

Now, I just need to get them to stop accidentally FaceTiming me.

We’re almost there.

Labor of Love

Seventeen years ago, my husband and I walked into a stranger’s home. Upon entering, we were escorted to the basement and into a room where several other couples sat, in the same predicament as us. I was eight months pregnant with our first child.

Welcome to Lamaze class.

The instructor and homeowner was Celeste, a labor and delivery nurse at our local hospital who, in the evenings, kindly and calmly explained to pregnant couples what awaited us. Over the course of three weeks, we learned to breathe through pain, learned the procedures of the hospital, saw some disturbing films and when our classes were over, bid goodbye to lovely Celeste.

Labor is hard. It hurts like hell. I felt my first pangs of discomfort at one o’clock in the morning the day after Thanksgiving. I was in the hospital begging for an epidural by three. To our surprise and pleasure, Celeste was on her shift when Steve and I were admitted. It was Celeste who held my hands, stared into my eyes and guided me through the painful epidural, Celeste who stopped into my room intermittently while we waited, with her calm demeanor, her supportive words and encouraging smiles.

Our baby arrived at eight o’clock in the morning. As all nine pounds- thirteen ounces of him were cleaned and weighed, Celeste came into the delivery room to see us and to meet our son before she went home.

Every mother has a labor story. The testimony of giving birth is proof of our initiation into motherhood, the hazing that we survived in order to be part of life’s most coveted sorority. My labor story always includes Celeste: how she was there for me when I needed her, how she stayed at work well after her shift was over to meet our son. She played an important role in the most significant event of our lives. I hardly remember another single soul from that night. I have been talking about her since November, 1998. I hadn’t seen her since then.

Last night I was invited to be a guest at a book club that was discussing Both Sides of Love. At Celeste’s house. To say I was looking forward to this night is an understatement. True to form, she greeted me with a wide smile and encompassing embrace. Seventeen years melted away in that moment and she held me like an old friend.

Celeste belongs to a book club that is comprised of labor and delivery nurses from her hospital: a loud, entertaining group of woman who made careers of bringing lives into the world. Stories? They had plenty. They didn’t talk about their work, mind you – they had enough to share on their own. I blushed and laughed all night as I sat among them, feeling welcome.

As they discussed Beth and Daniel’s story, and shared stories of their own that moved me, I took in every friendly, open face around the room and thought of all of the lucky pregnant women who would soon meet them. When I said goodbye to each one at the end of the night, I accepted their well-wishes with gratitude.

Celeste and I had a few minutes alone. A lot of years have passed since we’ve met. A lot has happened. Speaking with her felt like something I’d been doing for a long time.

Seventeen years ago I walked into a stranger’s home. Last night I drove away from a friend and someone who will always hold a place in my heart.

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High School Mom

10 differences between Kim as an Elementary School mom and Kim as a High School mom, on the first day of school:

Elem Sch: Stack of new school clothes piled neatly in drawers. 1st day of school outfit picked out a week in advance.

HS: No new school clothes. They wore what they’ve been wearing all summer because it doesn’t get cold for another month, at least.

Elem Sch: New, unworn, clean sneakers on feet.

HS: Sneakers they’ve been wearing all summer still fit.

Elem Sch: Brand spanking new backpack filled with all 30 items listed on school website, (including a smock) and a roll of paper towels, for which I didn’t understand the need, but got it anyway.

HS: Boys have backpacks almost as old as some of the children starting kindergarten. They contain a single- subject spiral notebook and a pen.

Elem Sch: Boys bathed and in bed early the night before to prepare for awakening and  morning “get-ready-for-school” festivities.

HS: Boys went to bed the night before only after the hockey draft was complete. 11 pm.

Elem Sch: Woke cherubs up at 8 am, an hour before the bus was due so they could acclimate to the morning and the fact that summer was actually over.

HS: They woke up themselves at 6:35 am for 7:00 bus.

Elem Sch: Made healthy breakfast of eggs and toast for their little brains to be at peak form for learning.

HS: Walked into kitchen to find them eating waffle and nutella sandwiches.

Elem Sch: Arrived at bus stop 10 minutes early as instructed and waited for 40 minutes because it was late. Then made it wait longer while I took picture of each child in front of bus, then getting onto bus and then in seat on the bus (through window- I’m not crazy enough to actually get ON the bus- don’t want to embarrass them).

HS: I think the bus came 4 minutes early because when I passed the window after making coffee, the boys weren’t on the street anymore.

Elem Sch: Can’t believe I’ll have the whole day to myself! Whatever will I do with my time?

HS: The first day of school feels no different than any other day in that they’re never home anyway.

Elem Sch: Maybe I’ll go to Yoga or Spin class! Perhaps I’ll clean or shop or have lunch with a friend!

HS: Back hurts, eyes are bleary. Need. Coffee. Must work.

Elem Sch: Waited for cherubs at the bus stop at the end of the day to welcome them with kisses and snack at the table for our after-school chat. Asked how they like their teacher. Listened to stories of their day.

HS: Answered banging door because they get home so damn early, I totally forgot and didn’t unlock it. Have no idea who their teachers are – there are so many. Received “Good” as answer for how their past 6 hours went.

I’m certainly not the same school mom I was a decade ago when I waited at the bus-stop with a camera in my hand and butterflies in my stomach. They’ve changed too. A part of me misses it, but the other part of me is enjoying this last stage before – gasp – college.

Have a wonderful school year everyone!