About Black Belt Mama

“Most karate moms just do the commute; this one IS a black belt after an ACL tear nearly ended it all.”

I am a 30-something forever 29 year old stay at home mother. I stay at home with my two daughters: “Swim Girl”(formerly know as “Big I”) who is an 13-year old artist, former ju-jutsu practitioner, published writer (yes, already), competitive swimmer, and gentle soul. . .

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. . . “Sassy” (formerly “Lil C”) who is an 9-year-old wanna-be-diva, future Food Network cooking sensation, Mommy’s little helper,  kick-butt breaststroker, crafter extraordinaire, and a specialist in terrorizing her big sister. . .

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And “Baby Belated,” a lovely surprise, who arrived 15 days after his due date, but right on time to shake up our world and turn this girl dominated family into the “party of five” I always wanted.

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I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English Writing, Creative Nonfiction. I met my husband my sophomore year, fell in love with him when he let me borrow his laundry detergent, and married him shortly after graduation.

Then. . .

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Now (ish). . . (Notice one of us is getting all salt-n-pepa-ish; the other is not.  He’s living with three girls so that probably explains it.)

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I worked for a small literary journal as an Assistant Editor, then at “Come on-get happy!” Clinique cosmetics (because the pay was better), and then at a graphic design firm as an “Administrative and Marketing Assistant” which is just a fancy name for copy girl, xerox pro, or otherwise just plain old lackey. I was supposed to be a writer, but somehow got the desk where I answered all the phones, filed all the folders, and mostly just retrieved muffins and coffee creamer. I did, however, write a corporate identity manual and an insurance brochure. I did learn lots of things while working there though, but mostly how to swallow my pride.

When I got sick of that (a very short time later), I went to Duquesne University where I earned my M.S.Ed. in only 11 months, and accumulated so much student loan debt that it’s just plain ridiculous considering I taught high school English for not even two years and then decided my true calling was stay-at-home Momdom.

I went on maternity leave, had my first daughter in 2001, and never looked back.

We sold our house; and my husband switched careers so that I would be able to stay home with my baby girl. By home, I literally mean home, as in we moved in with my parents for a year. Then, we moved to NJ. Then we moved back to my hometown.

In October 2005, I gave birth to our second daughter after a long wait to get her on her way. I wanted everything to be natural, and planned a birth center birth. Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and everything got turned upside down. I did have a midwife deliver her, and that was truly awesome.

In 2011, three days before my birthday, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my beautiful baby son. In October of 2011, he was born at the hospital (thumbs down) after an induction because he simply would not move out. A midwife also delivered him, and that, like with Sassy, was awesome.

I am a former adjunct instructor at a local university and former volunteer and officer on my local country club’s board of directors (I’m fairly certain they gave me the title of “Secretary” because that’s “what girls are supposed to be,” if that tells you anything about how much fun I had arguing with 80-year olds about removing tuna melts from the menu). I was also Co-President of a thriving 501c3 USA Swimming Club where my daughters both swam, until a great opportunity popped up for Mr. BBM which was followed by an abrupt relocation to the south in the summer of 2014.

I’ve learned that no matter how many legitimate part time/work from home jobs you have, your Dad will probably still tell people you’re “unemployed.”  I’ve learned to live with it.

I am trying to raise my girls to be smart, strong women, and I practice what I preach. I am a 1st Dan Black belt in both Okinawan Kenpo and Kobudo. Did I mention it’s a family affair? (I didn’t just mean “strong” in the figurative sense.) Swim Girl started karate when she was three, made it to 7th kyu, and then decided she was going to quit and give Danzan-Ryu Ju-Jitsu a try. She loved it and I was loving the stuff she was teaching me.  Then she decided she wanted to concentrate 100% of the time on swimming so we’ve been inhaling copious amounts of chlorine year-round ever since. Sassy knew how to snap kick before she was potty trained (she already knows how to kiai better than I do). And look out Mike Tyson, because this kid will totally pull your ears off and with no training either. As for me, I was a little late on the draw, starting when I was 29 (Yeah, I realize the math doesn’t make sense with the whole “forever 29” statement in the beginning, but just work with me here).

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I’ve realized that it’s never too late to learn something new. You just have to be willing to face the fact that the 14 year old you take class with, who has been there since she was three, is 100% capable of kicking your butt. It’s also comforting to know that the 20-year old guys who spend many more hours per week training at the dojo instead of helping with homework and putting kids to bed, will eventually enter their 30’s as well (Did I say 30’s? I meant turn 29).

I started writing my blog in 2006 to document my journey in the martial arts.  I had no idea how many detours my journey would take.  I was looking forward to testing for Shodan in February of 2008, but then I tore my ACL while sparring in October 2007.  I had ACL reconstruction surgery in December 2007, and used my fabulous sense of humor to get me through surgery, recovery, and many frustrating days of pain-med-induced constipation physical therapy. I had a second surgery to remove scar tissue and part of a sheath from the screw in my tibia in January 2009 and returned to karate about a month later.

I finally tested for my Shodan in June of 2009 and was successful. Then the screw in my tibia, that was supposed to turn into bone, decided it was going to back out of my leg. I had to stop karate again and had a third surgery in July of 2010 to remove the screw and install alloderm (donor tissue). It’s been a fun ride. Clearly, I have a talent for sarcasm.

I love: reading a good book, going on vacations, writing, Bella Jules Boutique, Mavi jeans, all the crazy rap and R&B music that I probably shouldn’t like (Drake), dancing to said music, and nailing a new kata.

I can’t stand: litter butts, irresponsible dog owners, parents who don’t take responsibility for the crap their kids do, one-sided friendships, people with no reading comprehension skills, common or business sense (all three not required to be present for me to dislike), plagiarizers, folding laundry, liars, and bad table manners.

My writing credits include articles/reviews published in the following publications: “Pittsburgh Tribune Review,” “Transport Topics,” “Bridges” (NCTE Publication), “English Leadership Quarterly,” on “Mania.com” and in the book At Issue: Date Rape.  This blog has been syndicated by my hometown newspaper’s website, and through BlogBurst on “The Houston Chronicle,” “The Chicago Sun Times,” “Austin-American Statesman,” USAToday.com, Reuters.com, “The Sacramento Bee,” and multiple IBS news service websites.  Not that you should care about this, mentioning it just makes me feel more important. As well it should.

I’m also writing a book-it’s just that most of it is being written in my head at this point. I’m my own worst editor.

I think that about covers it.

If you have something nice to say, please leave me a comment, write me an email, or link to my site with reckless abandon. If not, no one is forcing you to read this, so get lost.

No, seriously.