Filed under: Motherhood & Parenting

June: the month in review

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 • No Comments on June: the month in review

Me and my guys at the zoo

Me and my guys at the zoo


2015 is half over! 2015 is half over!

I feel like I should change out my batteries and kick it into high gear now that June is behind me and half of the year is gone. If only I had batteries…

I’m ending this month with a bunch of rejections. Yay! I beat my personal best yesterday– three rejections in one day! Being turned down is never fun, but I really can’t be too disheartened. 1) I’m writing! 2) I’ve had a fair number of sales already this year. 3) Rejections mean (hopefully) that I’m pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve learned the hard way that staying too… comfortable… can make for a bad experience down the road. So, yeah. Rejections. But also acceptances.

I had nine essays and non-fiction pieces published this month, including two new-to-me sites, Scary Mommy and Redbook (which also shares content with Good Housekeeping). Scary Mommy ran my miscarriage essay, To the Doctor Who Told Me I’d Probably Never Have a Child. That one was a nice follow-up to my Narratively essay last month (How to Have Fun When They Say You Can’t Conceive). It’s terrifying to write about such personal experiences, but the reward is in knowing my work resonates with readers who have been through (or are going through) the same thing. It makes the world feel a little bit smaller, you know?

I wrote a couple of fun relationship pieces for Redbook and it’s nice to have a profile page to link to: Kristina Wright @ Redbook. Likewise, I’ve written a couple of new pieces for The Mid, including 5 Things I Miss About the 90s and Life When Your Next Big Birthday Will be Your 50th (which was originally titled Life on the Edge).

And this is my second month as a Mom.me blogger— what a fun gig! Along with wife bonuses, this month I wrote about taking a guilt-free, child-free vacation, pleasing picky eaters and shared what I learned from having two C-sections. It’s fun to write about such a variety of topics, but I honestly never thought I’d be a mom blogger. I’m glad I took look down another path (which might have been facilitated by the huge tree dropped in front of me on the other writing path I was traveling…)

And so, half-way through 2015, I have sold to 8 new markets and had 23 pieces published. That’s almost one a week, which isn’t bad considering I spent one week in Disney World, almost another week in Charleston, one week in the hospital and about another 3 weeks sick and in recovery. Plus, I’ve been writing fiction, too! Plus, I’ve had almost no child care, though I did eke out 37 work hours this month (thanks, wonderful husband and generous babysitter on summer break!). That’s a little less than half what my old monthly work schedule looked like, but I made it work and got a lot of pieces out into the world (and, as mentioned before, a lot of pieces rejected…)

It hasn’t been all work and no play this month (obviously– I have two kids). Summer is here! Oldest kid finished pre-school and will start kindergarten in the fall (wow!) and so we’ve been scheduling play dates and doing fun things. We’ve been to the zoo (twice), seen a couple of $1 movies (yay Regal Summer Movie Express!)– The Boxtrolls (which was maybe darker than I would have liked, but the kids enjoyed) and Paddington (which I loved– teddy bears and London!), gone to the park and played in the sprinkler and kiddie pool and various neighborhood playgrounds.

It’s been adult fun-time this month, too. Jay and I saw Billy Joel in Virginia Beach earlier this month. He’s one of my favorite singers and though he hasn’t had a new album in 20 years, I still love seeing him in concert. I can’t remember if this was the fourth or fifth time, but it was a good, nostalgic concert with my sweetheart. And I’ve been indulging my love of movies and have seen Mad Max (loved it!), Jurassic World (fun! Chris Pratt!) and Spy (Melissa McCarthy is amazing!) so far this summer. There are several more I’m looking forward to– I’d spend all day in a movie theater if someone would let me. Hopefully I’m raising kids who will love movies as much as I do!

In health-related news, after my near death experience in April, I have finally (finally!) gotten the all-clear from all of my various doctors. Yay for good news! The lasting effects of the pneumonia is scar tissue in my lung and (currently) a 69% lung capacity, which we’re going to retest in four months in hopes that I’m still healing and it’ll improve. But overall I’m feeling pretty damned good and lucky to be alive. There’s still much to be written about the experience, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

So onward to July with fireworks and barbecues and Jay’s retirement from the Navy and two weeks of summer camp for the boys (40 hours of writing for me!!) and friends and family coming from all over to visit and celebrate. I don’t know how much writing I’ll get done, but July is promising to be a fantastic month and even if I don’t write as much as I would like, I’ll be having fun. I hope you will, too!

Posted by Kristina in Essays, Life, Motherhood & Parenting, Writing
 

Hello, 48

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 • 2 Comments on Hello, 48

 

Writing whenever I can...

Writing whenever I can…

 

Before writing my birthday post this year, I went back and reread last year’s post. The cliche of saying time has flown isn’t entirely true. I feel like I’ve savored this last year in ways I haven’t in previous years. It wasn’t entirely voluntary– forces beyond my control made it so I had to slow down and take it day by day. Three big events– losing my regular babysitter last August, some big changes with my publisher over the fall and winter and falling deathly ill last month– reinforced that I can plan and organize my life just so, but it won’t always work out the way I hope. And sometimes, that turns out to be a very good thing.

I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom for nine months now. I want to say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t. What it has been is challenging, exhausting, frustrating and–yes– rewarding. I know I am privileged to be able to stay home with my kids and for the most part, I really do enjoy it. But for someone like me, an introvert who thrives on a certain amount of alone time (not to mention needs it in order to do creative work), it’s been so hard to give up the part-time babysitting schedule I had up until last August. I panicked, I admit it, when I realized my alone time– my writing time– would essentially disappear.

It took me months to find a rhythm that works and, to be honest, I’m still not there. It’s ever-changing, the amount of time I have to write. It’s never enough. Sometimes I can write with the kids playing in the house with me, but most often I do administrative stuff when I’m at home with them– answering emails, editing stories and essays, promoting my work, querying editors, researching markets– and reserve the “real” writing for the times when I can get out of the house alone. Which most often means evenings (when I’m already tired) or weekends (which means missing out on family time). I wrote very little between August and December last year. I didn’t know how. I was plagued by guilt, self-doubt, resentment, frustration. My creativity withered under that weight.

2015 has brought a little more balance. Nothing has changed about my schedule– I’m still home full-time, I still have one kid going to preschool three mornings a week, I still have very few hours to write each week– but I have changed my focus and adjusted my attitude. If I’m only going to have twenty hours a month to write, I want to make it count. And so I’ve been focusing on writing nonfiction, writing what I know– parenting, marriage, relationships, kids, life. It’s been rewarding. I’ve sold to several markets, I’ve picked up a regular writing gig, I’m making the most of what little writing time I do have. I’m a stay-at-home writer mom, just doing the best I can during this stage of my life.

The change in writing focus hasn’t entirely been about a lack of childcare. The reversion of three of my completed and approved anthologies— books I worked hard on, spent many, many hours on– has made me more aware of how I spend my time and on what projects I want to invest my precious work hours. I was angry and somewhat bitter after the initial fallout, but I’ve made my peace with it. It may be “just business,” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken it personally. I did and I do, but in some ways I’m thankful it happened– otherwise, I might not be writing and publishing in other markets. And so, this past year has been a big swing in a different direction for me professionally, and while it wasn’t by choice, I’m very happy with where I’m headed.

What’s a typical day like for me? School mornings find me at Starbucks with my youngest, squeezing in an hour or two of work if I can (and sometimes even writing a few hundred words) and then running errands while my oldest is at preschool. Non-school days are more languid, with long mornings spent staying in our pajamas, snuggling in bed, reading or plotting (in my head) while they play quietly. Every afternoon is spent doling out juice and snacks, putting Curious George or Caillou on the TV, mediating fights over cars or LEGOs, hanging out on the deck (weather permitting) while they play superheroes or Transformers or monster, pushing them on the swing, doing crafts at the kitchen table, squeezing in an hour of editing or email writing or social media updating. Some days we go to lunch at Wendy’s (their request) or go to the park or the garden center or Starbucks for frappuccinos. Some days we have play dates with friends. Some days, Jay is off or gets home early and I’m able to get a couple of hours in the afternoon to write (like today, my birthday). This is my life currently. And it’s good.

 

My life, my loves

My life, my loves

 

This past year has brought about an increased awareness of the brevity of life and the preciousness of time. Not to be cliched, but damn, have I wasted a lot of time in the wrong places. It’s human nature, I suppose, to amble aimlessly for years or decades, thinking there will always be time enough to do what we want. There isn’t, we know that, but it’s easier to pretend we’ll live forever than to take this living thing too seriously. I’m grateful for this life I have, I think I have always had an awareness of how truly lucky I am, but the near-death thing… well, I will write about it someday soon. I have joked that if my almost dying was supposed to be a sign, I have no idea what I’m meant to learn. But maybe the lesson is not in what I should change about my life, but in simply appreciating that I am still alive.

I’m excited about being 48. It’s such a nice even number, angles and curves together. The coming year will bring big changes– both boys will be in school in the fall and I will have three– THREE– days a week to write! I can barely stand the anticipation, though I’m not going to rush through summer and I know I’ll be sad and lost for a few weeks in the fall, missing my boys. Jay is retiring from the Navy this summer and he’ll also be in school this fall, as a middle school teacher. And in October we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The rest of the year is full of exciting, happy changes. And, always, there is the writing. I have more projects I want to work on than I have time for now, and the school year will bring many hours of contented writing for me.

There isn’t a lot of angst in life at this point. I’m settled, I’m happy, I’m grateful. And I’m ready for 48.

 

This is 48

 

Posted by Kristina in Life, Motherhood & Parenting
 

New Mom Tips from a Once Clueless Mom

Friday, May 1st, 2015 • No Comments on New Mom Tips from a Once Clueless Mom

What do paper plates, Amazon, naps and babysitters have in common? They’re all mentioned in my first piece for Mom.me7 New Mom Tips from a Military Spouse

Here’s a teaser:

1. I stocked up on paper plates

Seriously. A friend told me about this before I had my son and I know I rolled my eyes. But let me tell you something: When you are sleep-deprived, the fewer chores you have to do, the better. I could still eat something halfway nutritious without moaning over the dishes. And yes, I have a dishwasher, but the loading and unloading of a dishwasher is even more exhausting when you’re already exhausted. Invest in a 500 pack of paper plates and don’t suffer a moment’s guilt over using them. For that matter, stock up on aluminum foil and any other disposable product that will make your life easier. You can save the environment when baby is older and sleeping through the night.

That’s a stock photo that goes along with my post, but here is the real thing as it was happening in February 2010. That’s my two and half month old son “talking” to his father in Dubai!

Patrick_and_Jay_on_Skype_thumb

I have an eighth tip for new moms:

8. Utilize all available technology to make your life a little easier!

Whether it’s Skype to talk to a partner or family at a distance, DVR to record your favorite shows to watching during baby’s feeding times or the timer on your coffee pot set the night before so you can survive another long day with baby, use it! And whatever you don’t have can be added to your baby registry.

 

On another note, never in my life– at least not in the first 42 years when I didn’t have children– did I imagine I would someday be a mommy blogger. But I hope my experiences (most of them by trial and error…) and advice will resonate with other parents.

Posted by Kristina in Baby, Motherhood & Parenting
 

I'm a writer, editor, blogger, mama, wife and coffee lover.

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