Tag: life

A mother’s love can last for generations

This past November, my oldest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. As cancer treatment does to people, it has consumed her daily life and each day has involved preparing for surgery, or chemo, or shots, or tests, or waiting on results. She has been amazing and is reaching her last part of her journey and then the day when she feels normal once again.

Walking beside her this entire way has been my mom. She has been there for every appointment and chemotherapy session, and held her hand as she came out of every procedure and ultimately surgery to remove the tumor. She has brought her meals and been a loving nurse to her as she suffered the effects of chemo on her entire body. She has cared for her at my sister’s house at her own house. She was there standing next to her when she rang the bell indicating the end of chemo treatments. She has provided a comfort and peace that comes from a caring mother and I am lucky that she is my mom as well.

I’ve learned everything I need to know from my mom. There are times to be strong but there are also times when you are going to fall. When you fall, it is perfectly acceptable to cry and hurt and be angry as you slowly make your way to your feet again. You do have to make your way to your feet again; sometimes you will take strength from those who need you to stand firmly once again. Life will make you laugh and smile, but it will also hurt you and take away things you hold so dear. Some days you will have confidence in every decision you make. Other days you will look yourself in the mirror and question every detail of your existence.

A loving mom will help you realize that all of these things are normal and will be there to support you through every crazy phase of your life. She will even be there if you get sick like my sister did, and hold you through it just like she held you through every ear infection, new tooth, first love, and first heartbreak. Most importantly, she will teach you how to be a mom yourself one day just like her own Mom taught her.

In my own life, I just celebrated my son’s 20th birthday. It’s hard not to think back to when he was born and all of the hopes and dreams I had for him. Would I have what it takes to be a strong mother who could raise a respectful and caring man? Would I be able to show him my strengths and weaknesses so he could learn to be human and accept that none of us are perfect?

I recently was invited by my son to speak to his fraternity about ethics in business and I received a text from him after. He wrote “Thanks again for coming tonight and for everything you do. I would obviously not be anywhere near the position I’m in today if I didn’t have your love and support. A lot of my fraternity brothers came up to me and told me how amazing you are. I felt like the luckiest son alive. Love you Mom.” I credit my mom for that text. It is everything she taught me that leads me to receiving a message like that from my own son.

I have six other kids that I love and adore as well. Three of them are my biological children and three of them are stepchildren. When you learn to love and give everything you have, you don’t care how a child has come into your life. It doesn’t matter if you gave birth to them, adopted them, or became a part of their life through marriage. You love them all with passion and grace and hope that someday they will do the same for their own children.

My youngest son, who is now 10 months old, is crawling everywhere and beginning to want to take his first assisted steps. He cautiously finds my hand or leg with each step and always looks back with a little bit of fear and a little bit of satisfaction. He knows I won’t let go right now but he should also know that someday I will have to let go in small ways and then in really big ways. He will learn that I will let him grow his wings and not stop him when he is ready to take off and fly.

This is the hard and heartbreaking work of a mom. It takes one generation after another of loving mothers to build a large family full of love, trust, loyalty, reliability, and laughter. Mother’s Day is a special day to recognize all of these women that have brought children into the world, adopted children, or helped raise children that aren’t their own. Some of you have already lost your own moms and know the pain of losing your mentor and best friend. I think that pain can only be comforted by looking at your own children and grandchildren and knowing that your mom played a role in their successes.

I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day today. Regardless of how you became a mom, the world is a better place because of you and the support you provide all of the children that call you Mom. If you are like me, your Mother’s Day will probably involve watching children or grandchildren play some type of sport and then hopefully you can get together as a family and celebrate the greatness of all of the moms that make up your incredible family.

Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.

FOX 11: Katie Coombs talks “Uncommon Sense”

RENO, Nev. – Katie Coombs, host of “Uncommon Sense,” announced today that she and co-host Debbie McCarthy have joined the America Matters Radio team, broadcasting live on KCKQ-AM 1180. The show will air on Fridays from 2-4 p.m. Listeners are encouraged to call in and participate during the show.

“I’m excited to start this new journey with America Matters Media,” said Coombs. “The live format is a great way to start a conversation with our listeners and I look forward to creating a kind of “Uncommon Sense” community with all of the great people in Reno and beyond.”

“Uncommon Sense” addresses anything and everything related to families, parenting and children. Coombs and her guests discuss current events and trends and their effects on our society as a whole and our individual families. Through her show, Coombs shares her knowledge and advice with respect to today’s issues, focusing on family values and parental leadership, through the use of common sense.

“With our world moving 100 miles a minute, it’s great to have the opportunity to sit down for two hours and hash out the issues, talk about what’s really happening and how all of it effects us day-to-day,” said Coombs.
In addition to her radio show, Coombs also writes a weekly column in the Reno-Gazette Journal, is a contributing author to “Reno Moms Blog” and Reno Magazine, manages an ongoing blog, and actively engages her listeners in conversation forums through various mediums. Coombs has earned a reputation in the community for her humor on parenting, family-oriented philosophies and current events. With “Uncommon Sense,” Coombs engages her community with interesting guests that offer listeners advice and tips to help with raising a family in today’s diverse world.


I just read your article about how you cut sugar out of your life.  I have tried many times to stop eating sugar myself but by the third day I’m craving it so badly that I give into it.  Do you have any advice you can give me to help me get through the first month?  I really want to change my eating habits and start to feel better…. I can relate to those aches and pains you describe having had before you cut out sugar and carbs!! [at wits’ end]

Thank you so much!!a

That was my approach and it was hard but then it got easy.  I started feeling better and of course that motivated me to stick with it.   You get to a point where if you eat it you know it is making you sick.
I mostly follow Paleo recipes but not 100% as I still eat cheese sometimes.  There are great recipes in their cookbooks that help with variety.
Good luck on your journey.  Reach out anytime.  It’s well worth the withdrawals of the first few weeks!
Katie Coombs

Carole & Katie

Hi Katie,

When you say cut out all sugar, what exactly does that mean?
– Do you only eat naturally sweet things like fruit?
– Do you also avoid artificial sweeteners?

When you decided to cut out sugar and almost all carbohydrates, did you basically just stop eating sweet things, white bread, rice, and pasta? Or did you get into more complicated meal planning, counting, etc?

Thank you for any input.

PS I wouldn’t mind being copied on others’ questions and your answers. I’m sure it would all be helpful.


I will be working on getting questions and answers up on the website this week so everyone can see it.

I don’t eat anything with artificial sweeteners. I did use lots of fruit in the beginning (mostly apples) to get me through withdrawals. I don’t want those sweet fruits anymore. I usually have bananas if I have fruit.

I don’t have time for complicated cooking but I did get two Paleo cookbooks. There are quick recipes (mostly the chicken ones) that are delicious. A typical dinner for me would be a chicken dish and the sides are broccoli and cauliflower and a salad with a dressing without sugar. I eat until I’m full so I really don’t skimp on portions at all. I stay clear of pasta for many reasons. The pasta itself but also the sauces which are typically loaded with sugar.

It’s really simple what I do each day as it is just eating to live instead of living to eat. Once you adjust to that mindset, your life changes completely.

Hope you have a great Monday.

Thanks Katie! Cauliflower should be a piece of cake…at least for me. I like it. My wife doesn’t care for it, but is willing to try. We are both around 50, and used to he able to eat anything. The last few years, on went a few pounds, and both of us feel “blah”, most of the time.

Adjusting to the Pain of Children Leaving the Nest

My first child was born when I was only 23 years old. I felt ready at the time and my knowledge of parenting was that babies were sweet and cuddly and just adorable. I even thought that pregnancy was a magical time in life with the baby kicking and everyone just getting excited about the upcoming birth. There would be cute baby clothes at showers thrown by family and friends, and the excitement of finding out if we were expecting a son or a daughter. All of these things held true to a point, but nobody really ever talked about the hard parts of pregnancy. The appearance of swollen feet and water retaining fingers was a surprise that ultimately resulted in my wedding band being cut from my finger. The appearance of bloody noses out of nowhere and the total discomfort as I got bigger were also a shock as I slowly lost the capacity to take any good deep breaths. I actually broke a toe on my right foot hitting a table during the first signs of labor that proved to be rather uncomfortable for the long days in the hospital that were about to follow.

I still remember writing the sweetest birthing plan that would consist of all of my favorite music and a peaceful setting where special breathing and synchronized pushing would result in a beautiful birth. My son was indeed born. I just didn’t expect the emergency C-section and the stitches that followed and the long scary nights where I even wondered if I could take care of him in some of my desperate moments. As other friends of mine started getting married and having children, I tried my best to prepare them for some of the realities as they, too were only living the fairy tale that they had seen in movies. None of their friends or family members wanted to tell them some of the harsh truths. People would ask me what it was like to be pregnant and a mother and I would always ask them if they wanted the fairy tale answer or the truth. I never quite understood why women kept these harder moments from each other as we could all be such a resource for the difficult times. Complaining about the difficulties of parenting does not make you a bad mother it makes you a very honest and concerned one.

I felt equally unprepared for the departure of my son for college last week. I have been struggling all year as the moments of his senior year passed by. There were senior sunrises, yearbook dedications, homecoming dances, senior pictures, prom, senior sunrise, awards nights, and finally graduation. All of these things were meant to slowly prepare me for the reality that he was going to move out. That room was going to be empty and clean for the first time in 18 years. There would no longer be an unmade bed that made me growl a little some mornings, or shoes scattered all over the floor. There would no longer be more hidden dirty clothes that would mess up my perfect laundry completion plan. There would just be a room with a few old baseball bats left over and a drawer full of some special mementos that he knew he wouldn’t have room for at his new apartment. I became the expert at choking back tears all year long and have gotten so good at it that a simple sip of water wards off the big streams that are on their way.

I never had a friend or a family member prepare me for this feeling of loss and closure on this part of his life. It hurts and he has only been gone one week. The reward a parent receives for raising an independent adult is a broken heart and a proud soul. There is nothing more pleasing than seeing your son decide to further his education and make the choice to go live as an adult responsible for his own laundry, cooking, social decisions and curfew. As a mom, trying to go to bed at night not knowing where your son is for the time in 18 years results in an emptiness that can hardly be described in words. It is something that every parent must face and I just want you to know that the pain is real and you should feel comfortable telling your friends that your miss your child whether they live 30 minutes away or 10 hours away. It is tough to close the door on years of mentoring another human being that you love deeply, simply so that they will actually leave your home and start their own life. Take time to prepare yourself for it and allow yourself to grieve the change that has occurred. It’s okay to cry and you don’t have to be tough about one bit of it. There is no medal for the mom that looks the happiest when her child leaves for college.

To my own mom, I bet I didn’t call you enough when I should have when I moved out and I know I didn’t think about what you must have been feeling. For that I am sorry all of these years later. And Mom, if you get the chance, tell your grandson to check in with me when he can because every call brings a moment of hope that is needed during these hard weeks and months as I adjust to a home without his laughter and amazing presence.

An Open Letter to My Son

Last week you decided to attend the University of Nevada, rent an apartment with a few friends and start the process of next step of your life. This is the one where you will be making decisions without me and creating a life for yourself that won’t require my parenting, but rather my guidance. You seem ready to go now with only seven weeks left of high school and I have never experienced both my heart breaking and my complete pride in you at the same time (except when I watched what I knew was going to be your last at bat in your baseball career and you drove in the winning runs).

You were born in 1996. The world seemed easier to me back then. There wasn’t incredible pressure to breastfeed a newborn and nobody thought twice about circumcision or even vaccines. We followed the advice of our highly trained and educated doctors and things worked out just fine. I nursed you as long as I felt comfortable and then you were fed formula. I look at you now so healthy and strong and have no concerns about my decisions back then. Of course, we fed you lots of fruits and vegetables but some McDonalds might have slipped in there a few times, too and you still seem to be thriving.

I loved the freedom I had as a mother because it allowed me to concentrate on what I knew would matter to me the most – your soul. I didn’t worry about mercury or foreskins like new moms do today (even though maybe I should have) and I’m really glad I didn’t have to do that. Those issues seem so minor to me when I look at you now and realize that you are full of honor, respect, loyalty and a love for family that will guide you well into your adulthood. I disciplined you not with spanking or hitting you but with firm and clear rules and boundaries that I knew you would need to get through life. That discipline started from the moment you were born and continues to this day. When you were young, they started handing out trophies to everyone, but I loved that you never wanted those trophies. In fact, the only ones you have ever kept were the ones you earned because you knew that just merely showing up in life wasn’t good enough. They have taken to calling those trophies for everyone “finisher’s metals” as if merely completing the season is worthy of any recognition.

I made a vow to you when you were born and I still have that paper right here on my desk. That vow reads like this – Drew, I promise to do my best to guide and support you and to respect you enough to allow you to see the world through your own eyes. I promise to be your strength and emotional support until that times come that I have to let you fly.
Well my beautiful son, that time is fast approaching. The graduation announcements are being mailed, plans are in place for your 18th birthday, and your senior pictures are already taken. I have made plenty of mistakes the last 18 years and have held myself accountable to every single one of them, and the amazing thing is you have owned your part too. We have loved, we have fought, we have grown, we have supported one another, we have laughed and we have cried. A few years ago you even walked me down the aisle and although I know it was hard for you to accept another man into your home, you knew it was time to let go of the past and embrace a new future (something you will have to do many times in your life).

I’m so glad that I raised you to open doors for women, to respect people of all ages, to accept everyone and let them be the people they choose to be. I’m relieved that I always had the strength to discipline you and not get caught up in the latest crazes of parenting advice that were based only on self-esteem. You sat through plenty of time-outs and reflected on how you could be a better man. You have been grounded and had things taken away from you and learned that there are certain expectations that you have to meet. You have survived me raising my voice which will help you conquer an unfair world that won’t coddle you for any reason, Son. You have participated in household chores so that you will always know that in the end, there is just you and you have to take care of your business. You slept in your own bed your entire life and even cried it out a time or two as a baby, but you are an amazing sleeper and full of confidence in your emotional decisions. You lived through plenty of disappointments because I didn’t always say yes and never felt that I had to provide a long explanation as to why I said no.

Cheers to your future. I will always be here but you also know that it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start carving out your own life. That means you have to support yourself, make wise choices, and become a financially responsible adult. I know it’s in you. I look forward to watching you put your skills to work. I miss you already and you aren’t even gone.


Disappearance of Discipline is Tearing Down the Country

I’m starting to believe that the disappearance of discipline is a well thought out strategy by somebody who wants this great nation to collapse.   It has been well documented that the emphasis on self esteem that is prevalent in our schools is resulting in college-aged adults who are anxious, depressed, and can’t function without the interference of Mommy and Daddy.  College professors are being hounded by parents for grades they are handing out.  My own Mom would not have been able to tell you who my college professors were or what my assignments might have been.  She expected me to manage my affairs and that was an expectation set when I was very young.  She had us make our own school lunches and participate in running the household so that we could somebody run our own households without her financial or physical support.  We are all fully capable of doing that and don’t rely on her, or the government or anyone to eat or turn on our lights.

Convincing children that they are amazing and special and at the same time waiting on them hand and foot seems like a funny movie to watch but unfortunately it is being played out in households across this country.   Children can demand things from their parents without even a simple please or thank you and we are allowing this because we don’t want to shame them or hurt their self esteem.  Where do we think these spoiled, lazy, disrespectful children are going to end up?  Do we really believe that they are going to be successful contributors to this nation?  Do we think that we can just press a button on them when they turn 18 that will somehow make them hard working respectful adults?

Disciplined and well-mannered children are a must if we want to continue to compete in a competitive world.   We have to start fighting back against the things we know will hurt these future adults.  We all accept the notion of trophies for everyone at the end of season pizza party, but do we really believe it?  Do we really want to reward showing up over accomplishment?   What will be the motivation to work hard at a new job if everyone is going to receive the same salary and the same bonus?  Even children are starting to scoff at these participation trophies realizing that there is a difference between “showing up” and showing up with the intention to work hard, improve, and even win.

When I read other blogs or Facebook posts about the reasons not to teach manners or have kids do chores, the word discipline is always shunned because it is associated with spanking or hitting.  These writers believe that discipline means violence.  It doesn’t.  Discipline means nothing more than to teach.  This teaching should involve structures and boundaries so that children can grow into meaningful adults.   I don’t hit any of the six kids that live in our house although I can tell you that they respect authority and leadership because they have been taught to do that.  They know that if they are asked to do something that they need to do it or there will be consequences.  Just like life.  Just like a job.  Just like relationships.  Our behavior will always have consequences.

We have to fight back against the somebody or the something out there that is trying to make everyone the same by removing discipline from life.  We know it doesn’t make sense so we can start today by asking more of our children than we did yesterday.  We can ask them to be responsible for their own school work, their lunches, and their laundry and set reasonable peaceful consequences if they don’t step up.  It is one small way to show them a successful future that can be achieved through hard work and discipline.  We are already far behind with many of these children so we can’t delay another day.

Life Defined

We all believe we have stumbled upon moments in our life that define us or define the meaning of life.  We try to learn from them and often times we are humbled by them.  If we are willing to learn and grow as people, these moments shape us and help us realize what is truly important in life.   We drop the drama and silliness of our youth and become truly productive people that are reliable and trustworthy.  Our children, parents, friends and spouses can count on us when we grow from these moments.

For me, until I reached February 18, 2014, the most defining moment of my life came the day my daughter Hannah was born nine weeks premature.  I knew she was going to be born early.  I knew we both had a risk of losing our life that day.  I have never looked at life the same after holding a four pound infant in my arms that had already shown a desire to just be alive.  You can’t spend time in the ICU watching babies fight for life and not learn a lesson.  If you leave that room and ever act petty again you have missed an opportunity you will never get again.  Watching parents say goodbye to a newborn that doesn’t survive gives you depth you didn’t know you were capable of.

I never truly believed anything could touch me more than those days in the ICU.  I matured in a way that you almost don’t want to even though my daughter survived and is a thriving and healthy 10-year-old.  I never lost the message and still look at her with the same amazed look as I did watching her fight for oxygen in those first days.  I remember leaving the hospital with her after a month in the ICU and feeling like no other day could ever teach me more.  On February 18, 2014 my newest nephew was born into the world.  He carries with him a name that means so much.  His middle name is my brother’s – a man I have tremendous respect for.  He started his life over and found the love of his life and had another child at the age of 43.  No regrets.  No questions.  And he is already in love with his son.  His first name Jonathan gives him very important initials.  JK.  A man we lost to a horrible accident 2.5 years ago and is still greatly missed today.  And then there is the defining moment.  Jonathan’s grandfather, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given nine months to live almost four years ago, was able to hold his grandson.

We went and picked my Dad up at his house and had the opportunity to help him into the car and up to that nursery.  As a family, and by family I mean my mom (who is his ex-wife), my husband, my kids, my sister, my brother’s ex-wife, and all of Jonathan’s maternal side sat together and watched one generation say hello to the next in the most profound example of the circle of life.   I wasn’t just struck by the moment itself but also the people in it.  There was no hostility about divorce or lives that went in different directions.  My mom and my step-mom were there together and whatever happened between them in the past was of zero significance in the moment they welcomed new life while also painfully knowing they were saying  goodbye to the older generation.  There was no discussion of failed marriages or disputes that may have caused them.   There was just Jonathan.  And all of us.  And a moment that only the heart can capture.  A camera just tells the story frame by frame but not tear by tear.  My son and my older nephew were overcome with emotion and stood there two men not afraid to express their true feelings.  I love that they feel comfortable doing that.  They don’t know it now but that expression of emotion will define them one day as well.

As I write this, my nephew is still in the hospital waiting for his mom to go home and my dad is being visited daily by hospice.  It is a roller coaster of emotions and most of them are amazing and defining.  It strengthens everyone involved and reminds us once again what is truly precious in life.  All of the buzzing around us is just noise – simple and mostly useless noise.  The heart is what matters.  Love and hope.  Life and death.  The rest is just the minor detail that fills in the gaps between the moments that truly define your life.  My advice to my own children is to not over live in the noise but to instead wait for the opportunities to show who they really are when life calls on them to shine.

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