Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Social

1. Favorite breakfast food
I'm not a huge breakfast eater...but I've been doing a LOT better lately. I love green smoothies and Special K Meal Replacement Bars. I drink my Plexus Slim first thing in the morning and have to have breakfast 30 minutes later so I've had to find things I like.

2. Best way to spend a free day
A free day? What's that? lol! I could go for a girls day right about, mani pedis, good food, cocktails...ahhh...

3. Airline ticket to anywhere in the world….where would you go and why?
Hmmm...I think I'd like a ticket to an all inclusive resort somewhere in the Bahamas. I've never been anywhere tropical and I could really use the sun right about now. This winter has been horrid!!

4. You can only leave the house with one thing…what is it?
My phone! It has just about everything I need.
But I'd actually have to say Rory's big blankey. It's her number 1 comfort item and she uses it constantly to help her calm there's my selfish and realistic responses :)

5. How do you take your coffee?
In an IV. Stat. ;)
Actually, lots of cream and 3 sugars. I love flavored creamers too. I'm a big fan of peppermint mocha and coldstone sweet cream. 

Thanks Neely and Ashley! xoxoxoxo

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guilty Pleasures

Lately, I've been indulging myself in some material guilty pleasures so that I don't eat my feelings. (lol!) My typical stress response is to run straight to the kitchen for a giant diet coke and whatever junk I can lay my hands on.

Well, in January I started a real life change. I'm not perfect and there have been days where I've headed straight to the oreos but those are just days. Moments. Not my entire lifestyle. I've been doing arm workouts, instead of just pinning them. I've been drinking enough water to refill the Atlantic. I'm sleeping better, taking my vitamins...I'm trying and that's 90% of the battle!

So what have I been doing to manage my stress and help me calm down?

Indulging in these things...

Private Practice Marathons on Netflix

Online Shopping...I load my cart up and then not buy anything! It's really fun, honestly, and sometimes you get a coupon in your email a day later or so when you have things in your cart but don't buy them. :)

Although, I did buy something from the Kate Spade sale last week. Shout out to Neely for enabling my love of all things Kate Spade by posting about the sale on twitter. :)

Planning things for Disney.

Oh my goodness gracious, I can't wait for these little faces to be back in Walt Disney World!

Watching old dance recitals

Planning next year's recital...and ignoring my two mile to do list for this years.:)

Etsy browsing! It's a blackhole of awesome.

Tweeting. A lot.

Painting my nails  (I'm getting pretty good at my right hand!)

Napping (hehe)

Things I should be doing but choosing not to...laundry. Cleaning. Going through the kids clothes. Meal planning. The Studio's taxes (don't worry, I WILL do this one! :))...

But you know what? Anything I do that isn't eating is a win in my book!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Words Worth Sharing

It's Wednesday, dudes. It's a long day for me and I'm standing on the edge of a trip to Pittsburgh with Rory tomorrow.

I thought I'd share some graphics via Pinterest that have been speaking to my heart lately...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesdays with Rory

(See what I did there? hehe)

Well...Rory. This is the biggest reason why I haven't blogged lately. My life has been 100% consumed by work and trichotillomania. If I'm not working, I'm home with R and T, separating fights, administering time outs, defusing ticking time bombs of stress, calming down Rory, encouraging without demanding that she use her calm down strategies, balancing to the best of my abilities discipline and ignoring things...

It's been a struggle.

I am worn out. Beyond exhausted. My to-do list is two miles and let's be honest, half of it isn't going to get done. I'm not sleeping well at night, waking at least once every 2 hours and not falling back to sleep well. I'm tired at the wrong times, which leads to drinking coffee too late in the day but if I don't I'll melt down in the middle of a ballet class and my 8 year old students will have a sobbing Miss Kate on their hands.


But Rory...well our girl is the proud owner of a new diagnosis. OCD. Obsessive Complusive Disorder. Now to everyone who knows Rory well, this is no surprise. She just need to exhibit enough markers enough times to get the "official" word. Trich is a direct relative of OCD so I am not surprised.

We are headed to a new therapist in Pittsburgh this Thursday. This is a pediatric counseling center with experience in trich. We love the woman we see locally and will continue to see her as often as can. Unfortunately, because she is so awesome, we often go weeks between appointments. This time we have SIX WEEKS between appointments and that just isn't good for Rory. We are going to supplement those appointments with these appointments in Pgh. Our local appointments center heavily on her behavior and anxiety where as the ones in Pgh will be much more trich centered.

For the last 3 or 4 months, Rory's hair pulling has been great. But the last 3 weeks...she's pulled big bald spots in her hair. It's especially noticeable when her hair is wet. She eats it too which is just...not only gross to think about but dangerous.

Some days are good, other days we are falling apart at the seams. But that's the struggle and the beauty in our one has been Rory's mom but me and I'm doing the best I can.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mondays with the Mouse: Volume 2

Okay, okay, okay. I have been an awful blogger lately. I'll admit it. But I'm back baby! I'm back!

And I'm coming back with my Monday with the Mouse post. I'm heading back home...I mean to Disney World in 121 days (but who's counting?)

Today I want to talk about ways I keep the magic going at home via the internet.

First up...Sorcerer Radio! I have the app on my phone and almost always have the website streaming when I'm working, especially at the studio. I really love the "kiss goodnight" every at 9:00 pm. They play the night time spectacular soundtracks from various parks...Wishes, Illumination, World of's awesome! I'm often working in my office until 10:00 and I spend that last hour working happily and peacefully thanks to Sorcerer Radio!

Seriously, check it out! You can find them on Twitter and Facebook as well. (Did I mention it's free?? :))

Secondly, we LOVE to watch ride "ride through" videos, parades and fireworks shows on You Tube. We started doing this before our trip in June 2012 as a way to see what our then 3 and 1 year old were interested in, what we needed to prepare them for, show them about crowds, etc. And it became a fun family tradition!

Some of our favorite channels to watch videos from:

Undercover Tourist   (our #1 go to!)


Attractions Magazine


Mr. Theme Park Music (these are just various soundtracks, but they are lovely!)

What do you do to keep the magic alive via the internet? I was active on DIS boards for a while but I lost my steam there. I do tend to pin ALL THE DISNEY THINGS on Pinterest, which always a hoot.

See you real soon! xoxo

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Social!

Today I'm linking up with my pals Neely and AshleyO for Sunday Social!

Today's questions...
1. What are your favorite things to do on a lazy day?
I go really go for a lazy day right would involve sleeping in, wearing fleece lined leggings and an oversized crewneck sweatshirt. I would go for massage and a mani/pedi, then lunch at somewhere that doesn't give toys with the kids meals, then home for massive amount of coffee, dessert and a marathon of Greys/Private Practice/Parks and Rec/etc etc etc on Netflix on the couch.
Ahh...that's be heaven.

2. What is your TV guilty pleasure?
I love old episodes of The Office and Modern Family, but that's not really guilty...maybe Kim of Queens? I love that woman! She is a great combo of tough and kind. Plus she ROCKS her body and I love that. Also, yeah, I still love Grey's. I know it jumped the shark years ago but I don't care.

3. What is your favorite road trip music?
When I'm by myself in the car, my radio is almost always turned to Pop2K. It's like...all the best songs from college and high school! I jam out. And LOUD especially when Eminem, Nelly or Destiny's Child comes on. I totally need a dashboard cam. ;)
(admit it, you love it too!)

4. What are your favorite books/mags to read by the pool or laying around?
I love Real Simple, Rachel Ray, Dance Studio Life...I also love fluffy chick lit, like Sophie Kinsella. I can't read anything that makes me stressed or anxious. For example, I googled a list of everyone who died in the Hunger Games before I started reading book 3 so I wouldn't get anxious. LOL!!

5. What is your favorite snack? 
Right now, I love a juicy apple sliced up with peanut butter, veggies and ranch, popcorn, fruit salad...but if I'm ignoring my WW points, then definitely parfaits from our grocer's bakery. They do these delightfully sinful cups of cake, frosting, pudding, fruit, crushed cookies...the possibilities are endless and they are awesome. Just super bad for me. :)

Link up!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Are there positives to Dance Mom?

I wrote a post yesterday that got quite a bit of attention on Twitter. That post can be found here. I wrote, to the best of my ability, why I have gone from a loyal Dance Moms fan to someone who won't watch the show anymore and is sad at the state of affairs.

There are a few things I'd like to clear up...

1. A picture of my daughter sitting on the steps at the ALDC was discovered on my TwitPics and people questioned it. Yep, we visited the ALDC in March 2013. As I clearly stated in the start of my post, I have met Abby at her studio. It was a fun trip and we enjoyed ourselves! If you remember, the episodes airing at that time were not nearly as crazy as episodes lately. :)

Want to see my cutie patootie daughter at the ALDC? Okay! :)

Goodness is she cute or what?? :)

2. Do I think my post will change anything? Nope. Not at all. I just wrote. I am a writer. I have been a writer for years. I express myself best when I type it all out. I didn't write that post for attention at all. My blog pals and I often write posts, tweet the links and be sure to "@" people or brands mentioned in the post. I just happened to actually get the attention of Diane Pent and Christi...and that's when my phone legit shut down from Twitter notifications. I felt so fancy yesterday!! I'm used to my posts getting like 100 views so 6000 is big time for me. (I'm not lying when I say I'm the forest, people. This is the middle of nowhere. ;))

Now on to today's topic...

Are there positives in Dance Moms?

Yes. I definitely believe there are positives to Dance Moms, especially the older episodes.

As a studio owner, I have had a huge swell of enrollment since the show gained popularity. Girls and boys of all ages are interested in dancing now and want to take class. I love it because I get to share my passion for dance, creativity, performing, music with more kids now than ever before. And because these children are seeking out studios like mine, where positivity and integrity are encouraged, I believe (and sincerely pray) that these children's lives are changed for the better. One year of classes can  make an impact in a child's life.

Another positive? Moms are getting informed. Moms are getting mad. Moms are expecting more. I know that might seem like a negative at first but let me spin it a little for you...

I have more moms wanting to be involved, volunteering to help, taking such great pride in being a DANCE MOM now than ever before. Being a good, positive dance mom is a badge of honors. Moms at my studio are proud to wear their "Proud to be a Studio K Dance Mom" shirts around town because we are setting an example. We are an example of how you can be a good, uplifting, encouraging mom and not allowing a tv show to define an entire genre of mothers.

Moms are expecting more from their dancers. As long as this is done with realistic, age and ability appropriate expectations, it's a fantastic thing. I love when moms see young dancers, like Mackenzie, performing difficult turns or tricks and then wonder why their child can't do those things. We can HELP you get your student there, we can give you the tools, we can teach the steps and moms can help by encouraging stretching, practicing, class attendance, preparedness...that is a major major major positive. It's always good to push your child to be their best, as long as it's moderated and done from a loving place.

Moms are getting mad. Oh baby are they getting mad. I have tons of moms at my studio who refuse to watch Dance Moms because of the way the girls are treated. (Dance Mom Girls, you have more Mama Bears feeling protective of you than you could ever know! lol) These moms are appreciating more the positive, nurturing environment of well rounded studios more than ever before. I've owned my studio for 9 years and always had great moms. (Have there been some crazies? Well of course. Every bushel of apples is bound to have some worms) But recently, in the last 4 years since Dance Moms began and increasingly as the crazy increased on tv, I've had more simple thank yous, nice notes and general feelings of appreciation for my commitment to positivism than ever before. How could that not be a plus!? Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their hard work.

Are there more negatives to the entire Dance Moms phenomena than what I listed yesterday?


I'm really sick of seeing other studios copy themes, songs, costumes, etc straight of Dance Moms. It used to happen with all the SYTYCD dances and now it's Dance Moms. For example, last year at one of our regional competitions FIVE dancers in a row all danced to songs from Dance Moms. I mean...get an original thought. But that's a post for another day...(my students know I have A LOT to say on this topic!! lol)

The two piece costuming and lack of tights on Dance Moms has lead to a giant increase in those two things in competition dance around the country. Listen, dance teachers. Not every student has the body to wear a two piece costume. So what? I'm not a size 2, 4, 6 or even an 8 anymore and I can still tap circles around every kid in my studio. Does that means if I was still a student I should be shoved in a costume I am uncomfortable in because "two piece is what's in?" UM NO. And tights. Tights are designed to smooth your legs, make them appear as linear and clean as possible. Let's be frank, tights hide a lot of jiggle that all women have in the "trunk" region. Booty shorts, on their own, do not. (Again, another post for another day)

But see to me...things like those two negatives are more personal choices for MY studio. It's mine. I put the K in Studio K so I get to decide about costumes, tights and music. It's not a general negative for the entire dance community the way the bullying and poor behavior is. Maybe your studio is full of tiny twiggy girls and you guys can ROCK the two piece costume. More power to you! (Enjoy your celery stick, I will be over at the Chinese buffet ;))

I know a lot of what I said yesterday compared my studio to the one on Dance Moms. And I want to make this perfectly clear...

I do not for one moment entertain the idea that my studio, my students, my dance moms are perfect and without flaws.

Honey, there have been fights. There have been arguments, disagreements, distention amongst the troops. But we've resolved them all. We've moved on, we've learned something and tried not to make the same mistakes again. We evolve every time we step in to the studio. We strive to make the studio the best place it can be and that's all that matters.

I'm not a trophy centered person. Does winning feel great? Of course. Does losing suck? Yep, at times it does. But what I hope my students learn from competition is how to handle defeat, how to look at your score sheet, accept the criticisms and work harder next time. I don't mind at all a second place me it's a reality check that there is always someone better than you at there. You can't ever quit working, quit striving, quit grinding for what you want. There are a ton of lessons to be learned from losing.

The difference between my philosophy and Abby's? Not one of my students, competitive or recreational, doubt for one second they are loved. They know if they make a mistake, I will forgive them. They know I hope they do awesome and want them to succeed at all they do, but I will still hug them and call them a goofy name if they fall on their face, pick their noses and run offstage. I'm just as proud of a bronze medal earned through hard work and determination as I am in a platinum. There's a reason my students call me Mama. Because I love them like a the mom who sits in the rain at the soccer game her son is going to lose by 7 goals anyways. I'm the one who's proud of the overweight kid at field day who was afraid to even try the sack race for fear of being made of fun but did it anyways. She might have come in last, but darn it, she did it.

There are great accomplishments made that will never place in the overall awards. I like those ones better.

Great dancers who are afraid to fail aren't truly great. Greatness comes from falling down, picking yourself up, dusting off your costume and trying again. Success isn't defined in crowns and trophies. Success comes from not fearing failure, releasing your inhibitions, stepping on the stage and leaving everything on the dance floor.

If you are happy, I'm happy.

And that's all I have to say about that.

xoxo, Miss Kate/Mama

Love is an Open Door

Oh Grave, I love you! Is this really the NINTH Valentine's Day we've spent together?

The first year we were dating, Dave told me he had to work at his work study for his professor and wasn't going to make it home until the weekend. No biggie, I was working at the studio as well.

In actuality, he was a big fat liar face and was home the whole time, working at his grandma's flower shop and showed up to surprise me with some gorgeous irises after my last class. He was so romantic in his youth!


Life can be so much more with you, with you!, Love is an open door!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The day I quit Dance Moms.

It's no secret I love Dance Moms. I have been a faithful viewer since Day 1, chatted daily about the antics with my students, loved rewatching the dances on YouTube, enjoyed discussing the highs and lows of each dance...I loved it. I never was a huge fan of Abby herself, frankly since I was in high school and knew of her through the dance circuit. I did meet her about this time last year and she was delightful in person. So kind, so polite, so gracious. She spent a good amount of time talking with my cousin and I about all sorts of dance related things, Kaari winning her first title, etc. It was a fun meeting, at her studio, and Kaari was beyond thrilled.

I hosted a meet and greet day with Brooke, Paige and Kelly at my studio. I found them to be the sweetest, most gracious young ladies. Kelly was a hoot, keeping us laughing and smiling all day. They were so kind to all my students and even though they've been to places MUCH more glamorous than the middle of the forest, they never let on that it was a small town meet and greet and they'd probably rather be anywhere else. They were wonderful. (And I'd bet be the rest of the moms and girls would be similarly as gracious and delightful.)

I love trashy reality tv. Mostly because it makes me feel like my life is normal and good. (lol!) I love the Real Housewives, Kim of Queens, etc etc. I GET that it's "reality" tv, situations are scripted, etc. I'm not that gullible.

That is a lot of back story to let you all know...

I am done with Dance Moms. Done. 

This week's episode put me over the edge. I am absolutely horrified that Lifetime allowed such situations to be filmed, let alone air. I do not blame Kelly one second for hitting Abby. I don't condone violence, but she was at an edge. She was done with Abby's words and actions towards her daughter. What mom hasn't wanted to haul off and belt someone who was mean to their child? Just because we haven't actually done it doesn't mean we haven't thought about it.

Now of course the internet trolls are rumbling that this was all scripted, a fake fight, etc. Whether or not that is true. the fact that Lifetime is allowing such behavior to be glorified really disgusts me. It is absolutely irresponsible for that channel to allow a grown adult to belittle and degrade a child over and over again

I think my biggest problem with this type of behavior from a dance teacher is really simple. Abby's behavior gaining her fame is giving permission for other  dance teachers to act so ridiculously.

A dance teacher is meant to inspire, to love, to nurture their students. Real dance studios should feel like a second home, a family. The dance teacher represents a safe person, a person to cry to, to hug, to make you laugh or smile on the days you need it most. Dance class is a safe space, a sacred space, a space for creating, trying, failing and trying again. Dance is an art form, a way of life, a means to breathe. Dance students are meant to become your sisters, your brothers, your comrades in arms.

Dance students and parents should not be enemies, they should not be pitted against each other likes dogs forced to fight. Class should be an atmosphere of excitement and creativity. The studio should be welcoming, the teacher an accessible, comforting person.

Now, no dance studio is perfect. I remember a few times growing up where I was convinced my teacher hated me or I was at odds with my fellow students. As a studio owner, I have only "yelled" at my students twice and can count the number of parent fights I've had to deal with on one hand.

Why? Because I wake up and choose to make my studio what it is. A place of dreaming, laughter, dancing. Are there moments I want to wring a mom's neck for forgetting a head piece, could toss a dancer out the proverbial window for messing up the same stupid step again, that I get frustrated and am ready to toss in the towel? OF COURSE. But it's all in how we choose to react. I might not have the thousands of trophies Abby has lining her walls, but I've got millions of memories, giggles and smiles that will be shiny long after a plastic trophy gets broken and no one can remember which dance it was for.

And why, Lifetime, are you allowing these CHILDREN to be victims, on television for millions to see, of blatant and awful bullying? In this day and age, it is unacceptable. These. Are. Children. Yes, their parents signed contracts. Yes, they "knew" what they were getting in to. Yes, they chose to participate. But let's go back to season season one, Abby was stern. Yep she yelled a lot. Yep she pointed out every little flaw and was very picky. Yep she was mean. But. The kids were happy. They were having fun, they were enjoying their dance life.

In this season, can the same be said? Why in the world are these little girls crying behind a curtain at an open audition, being forced to demonstrate a combination they don't know and living in fear of being replaced? Why are they admittedly afraid of their teachers? Why are we glorifying these behavior and making it seem okay?

I KNOW that in "real world" dancing, people get replaced all the time. That's part of the job, part of the dance atmosphere. It forces dancers to always be on top of their game and work their hardest. I have no problem with that. I have a major problem with manufactured auditions where students are being made to assist their teacher with an audition during which she is "looking" for their replacements. (Granted, Lifetime has shown us clearly that the replacements aren't coming from these auditions, they are coming straight off Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition) It is absolutely unfair and damaging to these poor children to have to live in a such a harsh and negative spotlight. I don't care how many times you try to tell me that all of this is scripted, all of the situations are contrived, that everyone know the timeline. I don't care. It is still hurting these children as people.

I'm going to use my husband here as an example. Dave is a pretty great soccer player. He was a goalie in High School and was very  talented at it. He had a really tough coach who yelled negatively a lot and didn't offer much, if any, positive reinforcement. Dave never felt like he was really any good and never pursued playing in college. Fast forward a few years, Dave runs in to the coach in the gas station and the coach is shocked Dave didn't play in college and thought he had more than enough talent to make it on a team, even with a partial scholarship.

I'm sorry, what? If a child isn't understanding the value of his talent, if a child spends his time doubting himself because of the method in which the teacher or coach corrects and instructs them, then something is wrong.

I'm far from perfect. I'm sure there have been many days where I've had students leave my studio without a compliment or feeling down. But I promise you it is NOT every class, every week, every time they step in to my studio.

As a dance teacher and a person, I have a responsibility. It is my duty to build my students up in to good people. It is my privilege to help them become caring, well rounded people with a wide, sweeping world view. It is my job to demonstrate and instill in them qualities of good leaders: acceptance, perseverance, honesty, integrity. If a child is afraid to fail, how will they ever learn to rebound? How will they ever learn to pick themself up off the stage, dust off the disappointment and try again? I need to be showing, teaching, telling my students that it is better to try and fail than to never try at all.

So this is my point, Lifetime and Dance Moms fans. What you see on tv? That is not competitive or studio dance. At all. A real, true dance studio will offer love and kindness to your child. And if the studio you are at isn't doing that, regardless of how many fancy turns the student can do or how many trophies are on the wall, than your studio isn't doing it's job. Leave. Find somewhere else. And discover that dance is a path to a beautiful way of life.

To the girls on Dance Moms, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that I played a part in elevating this type of behavior to fame. I am so sorry that people love the show so much and you are being pawns in some sort of strange, cryptic, twisted master plans. I am sorry that for the rest of your dance careers, you will be associated with Dance Moms. I appreciate so much your talent, your passion, your desire to dance, especially in the face of such terrible conditions. If I had the ability, I'd bring you all up to my studio in the forest, to show you how great and loving your dance days are supposed to be.

To the moms, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that this whole thing spiraled in to so much more than you bargained for. I firmly believe you signed on to what you anticipated to be a a great opportunity for your daughter and were doing what you thought best. As a mom myself, I know I'd do the same for my daughter. Hindsight is 20-20 and you are not to be blamed for what this mess has turned in to.

In conclusion...well I've deleted two full seasons of Dance Moms off my DVR. I erased the timer and won't be watching anymore. I can't stomach it. I can't indulge my curiosity, I can't watch this train wreck anymore. I'm finally looking away as my car drives past the 12 car pile up on the other side of the high way. And I have a feeling my Tuesdays will be much less stressful.