Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Social

I'm hosting a $15 Sephora gift certificate and mystery box giveaway!! Check one post down, open until next Sunday. LOW entries!! :)" title="Sunday Social">

" alt="Sunday Social" />
Linking up with my girls, Neely and Ashley O, for Suday Social this week! Woohoo!

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Anything with caramel and pretzel. I love a little salt in my sweet ice cream. Coldstone is my fave because I can load that sucker up. :)

2. What is your favorite smell?  Home Sweet Home candles from Yankee Candle or the smell of a dance recital: hairspray, leather, eye lash glue, rosin and sweat. It's heavenly.

3. What is your favorite TV commercial? Hmm...this is a tough one! This is one of my all time faves:

Ben Roethlisberger's Super Bowl commercial for American Idol

But this one never fails to make me cry:
Count on Carter's

4. What is your favorite day of the week? Monday! My Monday classes are the best.

5. What is your favorite article of clothing? Yoga Pants, hoodies, scarves and boots. Thats pretty much my uniform this time of year. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

#26acts before I turn 28!

I'm really excited by Ann Curry's #26acts initiative. I think it's wonderful way to give the tiniest, smidge of goodness out of that awful tragedy. I'm trying to get all of my #26acts in before I turn 28 on January 5! It's the best birthday present I can give think about others, do nice things with out expecting anything in return. I truly believe the energy and the "Vibes" if you will that we put out are returned to us. I try to teach my kids every day to show Jesus' love to why not teach by example?

Here's what I've done so far...

1 & 2: Found anonymous donors to pay off two families tuition accounts that were really struggling this month.
3. Left a large tip at the Chinese restaurant when I picked up our take out last night.
4. This giveaway!

You see, I have nothing to celebrate right now as I typically do when I host giveaways. No big milestone, no birthday...just because. I just want to send a little love to another blogger. From me to you. :)

What's up for grabs? A $15 Sephora e-gift certificate and a mystery box of some of my favorite things mailed straight to your door. (That's the random part of this act :))

Want to enter? This giveaway is open until 12-30. I will announce winner on 12-31. Use the Rafflecopter widget below!
 Have fun!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dear Olivia

Olivia Rose Engel, 6, left Sandy Hook Elementary school and joined the angels in Heaven on December 14, 2012.
Born July 18, 2006 at Danbury Hospital to Shannon (Merlino) and Brian Engel, Olivia brought immediate joy to all those around her with her ever-present smile and adorably infectious giggle. Quickly growing from a happy, bouncing baby who clung tightly to her stuffed lamb into an enthusiastic, loving little girl who always wanted to do and see more, Olivia's zest for life began early. With help from her adoring parents, she quickly developed an affinity for all things fun. On any given afternoon, one could just as easily find Olivia twirling in a pink tutu in dance class, developing her swing on the tennis court, kicking the winning soccer goal, drawing, painting and gluing things in art class, or honing her inner songstress in her community musical theater class. The budding swimmer also loved to join her dad or grandpa on their boats, so she could explore the world from the water.
As Olivia continued to grow, she developed a love and affinity for math and reading, arts and crafts, and her parish. Participating in her church's CCD program and leading the family's Grace each evening were sources of great pride for Olivia, as was being a big sister. Ever patient, Olivia took joy in helping her three-year-old brother Brayden explore the world she'd grown to love. This smart, bubbly NY Yankee fan and Daisy Girl Scout would instantly light up a room with her humor, charm, and wit. She was a sweet and appreciative six-year-old with a lot to live for. Her physical loss will deeply be felt every day by those who loved her most, but her sparkly spirit will live on forever.

Olivia Engel Obituary, taken from Legacy.

As soon as the names and pictures were released of the Sandy Hook victims, my mind could not stop thinking about Olivia Engel. I think a lot of us have had one victim stick in our minds. I pray for all the families multiple times a day, but Olivia...she's special. Maybe because her interests and little personality remind me so much of Rory and myself. Maybe for no reason at all. But Olivia Engel is special to me. I had to write to her, pour my heart out a little, put in to words the thoughts my mind has replayed for days now. Pray for the victims and when you do, say their names. They were people, individuals and they deserve that last bit of respect.

Dear Olivia,

My name is Kate...well if we knew each other in "real life," you'd probably call me Miss Kate. That seems to be the only way a 6 year old knows how to address me. :)
On Monday, your name was brought in to my life. I've been praying for you ever since. I can't imagine how scared you were on Friday, how you clung to your friends and how you prayed yourself. Everything I hear about you states how much you loved your church and that, my dear, is amazing! I'm so glad that you are playing and dancing in Heaven with Jesus. I'm sure He was standing there, waiting for you, your friends and teachers to come through the gates. You know, in the Bible it says that when we get to heaven, we won't remember the tears, the pain, the sickness, the bad days...I believe this to be true and that gives me comfort when I think about you.

Olivia, you have changed my life. My mind drifts to your mom and dad so often. It's allowed me to be quicker to anger with my own kids, take a little extra time to do a craft or sing a second song at bed time. In some ways, Olivia, what you went through has reminded me of something I forget all too often: life is short but sweet for certain. (Dave Matthews said that. You would have learned about him and loved him in college...just like every other North Eastern-ner kid I know...myself included. :)) Your mommy and daddy didn't have enough time with you. It's a fact.  A million days with you would not have been enough. You moving on to heaven has reminded me that each day, each hour, each minute with Rory and Trace is a gift. I can't take it for granted. I need to savor each day I am given and tuck it away in my heart.

It's hard to understand what happened. Lots of people are asking why God would allow something so awful to occur. I'm not going to pretend to know the answer. I'm going to chose to learn my lessons from what happened and by doing that, live on. You live on every time I watch my first graders dance in clas. Each time they twirl in their tutus the way you loved to, you live on. You live on when I teach Rory a new song or Trace sits through a church service without crying. You live on every time I choose, purposefully and intentionally, to not take my kids for granted. An extra marshmallow or a few M&M's, coloring time instead of paying bills, a game of hide and seek, a prayer...when I choose joy and choose taking time to make memories, you, tiny dancer, live on.

Look down from heaven at us sometime. I guarantee listening to Rory sing her grace or Trace trashing his room during "naptime" will make you giggle. Give my Grammie a hug for me. Heaven is a wonderful place and I can't wait to meet you there someday. Thank you for changing my life.

Dance on angel!
Love, Kate

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Monday, December 17, 2012


I want to post something eloquent about the happenings in Connecticut, but I can't wrap my brain around it enough yet to form adequate words. I'm going to choose joy and choose to honor those beautiful children (and adults) by appreciting my children a little extra this week. It's the least I can do, to choose joy and thankfulness over fear and anxiety. If there's anything I've learned in my years as a teacher of sorts, it's that children naturally choose joy and inspire others to do the same. Lesson learned.

That being said...

It's Monday. Life is moving forward, as it always does. Monday means the start of another week. Rory's school is closed already for Christmas break. This week at dance is Bring a Friend week. (I'm literally insane, I know. :)) Tonight I teach a combo class (1st-2nd graders, mostly) and a beginning Acro class (25 kdg-4th graders) and they will almost ALL bring a friend with them. It's pure insanity. The volume alone is just...nuts. But I love it. I really do love it. The energy and excitement is awesome. It helps pass this last week before Christmas a little easier.

Sidebar. When I was pregnant with Rory, I ended up in the hospital with the same thing as Duchess Kate during Bring a Friend week. That was cra-z-ay. My poor mom and Aunt has to step in and cover for me, along with my high school girls.

ANYWAYS. Wow I'm extra jumpy around-ish today.

I've been doing so much better at cooking meals at home lately. We've only had to get pizza one night during the week and that was a beyond nutty day. :)

Here's what my menu for this week looks like:
Monday: Bisquick Chicken and Biscuits
Tuesday: Chicken Spaghetti
Wednesday: Cheese Dreams and Zucchinni Fries (Cheese dreams are the best tuna melts EVER. They are a throw back from my school lunches)
Thursday: Spanish Buns and Green Beans (Another school lunch...I love food from my school cafeteria. It was really good!)
Friday: Sweet and Sour Chicken

For the weekend, I'm hoping to find some good new Crock Pot recipes and maybe a make your own pizza night? I think the kids would get a kick out of adding their own cheese and pepperoni to pizzas. Hmmm...

What have you been cooking lately? Any good recipes to share?


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feeding my creativity.

Being a dance teacher requires a constant supply of creativitiy.

For example...this year, there are 45 dances in our recital. I'm responsible for choreographing 40 of them. I also have 30 solos, 8 duets, 1 trio and 13 group dances to do for competition. That's 92 dances to choreograph and make each one look unique, different and special.


I also am responsible for set design, program design, tshirt design...if it needs a picture, graphic, layout or idea...I'm in charge. I get input from dancers, but for the most part it's all me.

Having to be creative is straight up difficult at times. I picture my creativity like a gas tank. Reading books, watching movies and dance performances, seeing inspiring artwork or pictures, that all feeds my creativity and fills the tank, if you will. As I work, create, teach each week, I use up some of my supply.

And this time of year, as is often the case, my intake is not matcing up with my output. I can feel myself getting drained. I'm repeating too much in class, feeling my ideas are stale and am ready to change recital music. (Which, by the way, rarely works out. Usually my original decisions is my best decision!)

How do I remedy this situation?

Well this year, thanks to teaching a bunch of Saturday morning sessions, I'm taking myself and Dave for a long weekend to Disney World. It's like the ultimate creativity gas station for me. I understand a lot of people think it's straight up bananas for adults to be in love with Disney the way I am (and Dave too...though he'll never admit it) Think about it this way. In my life, I am constantly outputting creativity. There isn't one day a year where I am not creating some kind of dance. The same way I draw upon my faith and belief in prayer to get through trying times personally, I need the respite and reflection that a trip to somewhere filled with creativity and inspiration brings me. I crave being surrounded by ideas. I crave being surrounded by other big dreamers.

And Disney gives me that. No one there shys away from attempting the impossible and I don't either. Heck last year, my dad and I put a scale model, with a field of depth perception, of a 1920's style town on stage! Big ideas don't scare me. They make me  better. The challenges, the pushing of boundaries...that's life, man. ;)

What inspires you? What feeds your creativity gas tank?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Favorite Christmas Tunes

It's no secret. I love Christmas! I love everything about it. The decorations, hunting for a gift, wrapping presents, the Elf on the Shelf mischief, reading special Christmas stories to the kids, the movies...all of it. The whole season feels warms and inviting to me.

I thought today I'd highlight some of my favorite Christmas songs. Let me know what your faves are and I'll add them to my Christmas playlist! :)

Amy Grant's version of Breath of Heaven

Michael W. Smith's Jingle Bells

Kurt and Blaine's Baby It's Cold Outside
Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Carol of the Bells
What are your favorites?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On my nerves.

Want to know what's getting on my nerves lately?
Okay. If you insist.
Yeah I know these are all first world problems. It's alright, I'm keeping things light.
...Husband and wife joint Facebook accounts. I MEAN HONESTLY. (Not all, just the obnoxious ones...)
...the fact that I have no friends on Snapchat over the age of 17. ADD ME. misskateund It's freaking hilarious!
...having to get gas so often. It seems like all I do is drive anymore. Ugh.
...trying to come up with recipes to cook for dinner every night. Take out should be free. And healthy.
...the fact that Modern Family hasn't been new in a couple weeks. I really look forward to my time with the Dunphys!
...the temperature. Now, during the day time I'm loving the low 50's, high 40's we've been rocking. Fall coats and heavy sweatshirts on the kids are so much better than snow coats but I like to be COLD when I sleep so I can snuggle under blankets. :)
...this dumb cough I can't kick. I may need a perscription soon.
...running out of Diet Coke. Threat Level Midnight.
...insomnia. And my stand by Tylenol PM isn't even helping lately. Melatonin? badly I need a pedicure. Yuck.
...people coming late to dance or not paying tuition. SHOW UP AND PAY ME. Please...?
...the fact that my 2 cousins, aunt and uncle just got home from Hawaii and didn't take me! (lol)
...that this fall has gone so quickly. Please dear God don't let the spring go this fast! I'm not ready!!
What's on your nerves lately?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dance Moms at Studio K?!

Oh yeah. It's true. Saturday, Nov 25...Paige, Kelly and Brooke Hyland from Lifetime TV's hit show DANCE MOMS came to my studio, Studio K. They brought along Brittany Pent (Brandon from the show's sister!) and held two master classes as well as did two meet and greets.

It was amazing.

First of all, Kelly Hyland is so down to earth, sweet, kind, caring and a wonderful mother to her girls! She was so grateful to me for hosting them (excuse me?!? haha!) and gracious to all the fans. She answered a thousand questions, posed for hundreds of was amazing. She even spent time chatting with Rory and tucked a note Rory wrote her (a scribble on a piece of Doc McStuffins paper) in to her purse.

The girls were super sweet. They were SO TINY. Neither of them are 5 feet tall and then are so skinny. Paige has abs for days and Brooke's shoulders and arms are insane. They are gorgeous dancers. I felt privileged to have them dancing and tumbling in my studio, let alone grouped with  my students. (And Britt Pent...when you win your first Tony, I'll be yanking the pictures out and saying I knew her when! :))

The girls were so polite, so sweet and hilarious. They picked on each other like every other set of sisters. They signed countless autographs, answered nervous questions and tried so hard to make the kids feel at ease. They are very mature, very astute and professional young ladies. Kelly and her husband are raising two wonderful girls in a crazy circumstance!

Some funny moments from the day...
Watching half my elite team thunder down the stairs, out in to the snow, in leos, tights and jazz shoes when they saw their car pull in to the parking lot. HILARIOUS. Totally fan girling! :)
At one point during the day, there was a q&a session with the kids who took the classes and the Hylands. Rory raises her hand to ask a question and when it's her turn she asks...
What happens if you POOK (Rory's way to say puke) in school?
Cue hysterical laughter...and instant mom embarrassment for me! Thankfully, Kelly is a mom and knows how 3 year olds can be. She cracked up and graciously answered Rory "Well honey, they'll send you home!"
Omg. I'm mortified again just retyping the story.
Brooke and me! Excuse my puffy face and tiny was a LONG day. I got over 225 phone calls in the 36 hours leading up to the event. Aiyaya.
My favorite piture of the day...sweet Paigey and my Rosie! I could just scoop Paige up. She is a such a wonderful little girl. I can't imagine what posesses crazy Abby to scream and degrade her so much...but that's another post for another day. This picture is when Paige desperately wanted a pic with Rory. Paige thought Rory was just hilarious and adorable all day. Well at the end, Paige wanted a pic with her...and Rory was not having it. Paige was bribing her with chocolate, pepperoni...anything! It was awesome. Finally she just scooped her up and Rory was KICKING HER. hahaha omg. All I could think of was Rory is going to bruise her, she'll go to pyramid this week (they are filming right now!!) and Abby will be yelling at her "Why are you all bruised?!" and then Rory's tantrum will be talked about on reality tv. ;o) Thankfully, no Dance Moms girls were injured in the taking of the above pic. :)
It was, in all honesty, the second best day of my Studio K career so far. (Second only to Disney Day, of course :)) We are already planning to have them back in the spring/summer. They are so special and I'm grateful I got to share this time with the Hyland family and my students! Wonderful day, wonderful energy and a wonderful family!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh hi there.

Hi. Remember when I used to faithfully blog? At least four times a week?


Welcome to my real life.

This season in my life is stressful. I've really been doing pretty darn bad lately. Time to be honest.

 Trace has been sick with one tiny thing after another all fall. Colds, allergies, pink eye and now as of yesterday a sinus infection. Nothing major, just tiny bumps in the road of life BUT. When he is barely's rough. Lack of sleep, weird schedules and so many Dr. appointments. Yuck.

Rory had the whole hairball saga of 2012. Thank God, it turned out to be nothing but a small infection but still. It was brutal. It did a number on my emotional health. Lately she's really ben embracing her three year old attitude. (Ahem) Almost every school morning, she gets in a fight with me about something...clothes, shoes, coat, backpack. This morning she refused to wear her coat. So I said fine. Go out to the car without it on and see how it feels.

Needless to say, it was 41 degrees this morning. She put her coat on before she even made it off the porch. Mom: 1 Rory: 0. She's gotta learn and I figured a little "experiential learning" would do wonderes in this case.

I'm in the middle of ordering $16,000 worth of costumes and another $2000 of tights. To say it is intimidating is an understatment. It's the worst part of my job. Add in a student choreography concert, a visit from Brooke, Paige and Kelly Hyland from Dance Moms on Sunday, competition rehearsals, Saturday morning acro, the holidays...

Man it's been tough.

That's the thing about depression. All these little things pile up in my mind and I can not shut it off. Anxiety takes over some days. I'll be able to do nothing but lay in bed for a while. Some coffee,, some light tv (Duck Dynasty anyone?? :)) and a nap. Deep breaths. Prayer. Music. Comfy sweats. Time to myself...

Anxiety and depression never just go away when it is a legitimate chemical imbalance. They come in waves, highs and lows. I know that this season in my life is a low and that's okay. I'm working on turning this in to a high. I'll get there. I'll swing back up. I'll recoup. But not today.

And that is okay.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Talking Politics.

I love politics. I love being educated on issues and having intelligent debates. I am a business woman, a mother, a Christian, a fiscal conservative, pro-gay equality, undecided on a lot of issues Republican. I'm a happy hodge podge, which is certainly how I hope most Americans are.

I had an interesting discussion with one of my students last night. She is a very intelligent, well informed 15 year old. Her parents have raised her very well. She's knowledgable and is one of few high schoolers I've ever met that has formed their own opinions, based not on parents or what's cool, but what she really honestly believes. She was telling me how she has already decided that she's going to register one of the two major parties so she can vote in primaries but isn't going to hold herself to her party when it comes to the final presidential election each time.

To this young girl's parents...I give you a standing ovation.

Too often, way too often, I see my students voicing the popular opinion or regurgitating what they hear at home or from teachers without being able to give any reasons they feel that way or believe in that side of an issue. That doesn't fly with me.

It's unfair to "raise your children Republican" or "raise your children Democrat."

There's an episode of 7th Heaven that I think of all the time. Lucy Camden is curious about religion and interested in exploring different religions, even though her father is a protestant minister. Rev. Camden indluges Lucy in this quest. He gives her books to read, information and answers any questions she has to the best of his knowledge. He is open, even though I'm sure if he was a real person going through this with  real daughter, it'd be eating him up inside. ;)

The point I'm tryin to make is this. Do I hope my kiddos grow up and have similar views and opinions as I do? Of course. What parent wouldn't want that? But what I'm not going to do is say that "WE believe this..." and "WE believe that..." I'm pledging to say "I believe in fiscal responsibility especially pertaining to the national debt and small business owners" or "I believe in the death penalty" and then I'll follow up with my reasons and ask my kids what they think, what questions they have, what opinions they want to form. I want my children to be well educated on all sides of issues. I want them to explore, research and question. Nothing ever gets changed if we just follow blindly in the footsteps of those before us. We must question. We must explore. We must seek change where we believe change is necessary.

Our country was founded because religious pilgrims in England dared to form their own opinions and seek answers in a new land. Imagine if those people had just stayed the course of their parents, walking in the path worn down by so many others. It's imperative to ask questions, seek answers from all sorts of people and allow your opinions to be different from those around you.

I will accompany my children to the voting booth when it is time for their first elections. I will stand proudly by as they select the candidate they honestly believe will be the best for each, state or federal. I will teach them to respect the President and all elected officials, until they do something criminal that tarnishes that respect. Criminal, not just something we don't like or necessarily agree with. Like it or not, elected officials get elected because people voted them in to office. There's no question in this election who earned the title of President. (And thankfully so. Regardless of whom you vote for, it's always better to have it be a clear cut win or loss then a nail biter.)

I hope my children grow up in an atmosphere of questioning, curiosity and information. I hope they read the papers, digest the information and allow their opinions to change as they grow and change. I know mine certainly have...4 years ago voting, my personl "hot button issues" were totally different than my current issues. I've grown, I've change and I allowed my views to grow and change along with me. I vote for the person I honestly believe will do best...and that's the best anyone can do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I need to vent. I need to write without editing myself. I'm not looking for sympathy or a pity party, I just need an outlet. Here goes.

Rory hates dance class. Refuses to go. Hates every second of it. Yet...if you spend any time with her, all she does is dance and sing. She tells me daily that she wants to throw her tap shoes away, she won't be in the dance recital and she doesn't every want to go to the studio again. Talk about breaking my heart. I try to remind myself that she's only 3 and next year could be a totally different story but devastates me that she won't be in this year's recital. Shot through the heart.

One of my longtime dancers switched to the other studio this week. I found out via instagram. Honestly, I never really knew she quit my studio and then bam she's at another studio and posting all over the place how much happier she is and how much better life is, how she should have done it 3 years ago. Ouch. I didn't even know this girl was unhappy, let alone so miserable she needed to switch studios. High school girls are a mystery. But still. Ouch.

My aunt was deployed 6 weeks ago. I hate this part of our lives. We've never been a deployment family before. My uncle and their 2 sons are in Texas. They are too far away. I want to take the boys to do fun things, help them get through this long year. I can't even imagine what it's like for people who have a child or spouse deployed. God bless our military.

On that same note...Democrats. Please stop saying that Obama ended the war. Clearly it's not over. If it was, my aunt wouldn't have been sent to the middle east. Just saying.

Everything about me is exhausted. Dave told me last night I've been edgy and cranky all week. Well. Yes, I have. I'm worn out. I'm running a business, a household, mothering 2 kids, running a huge fundraiser at work, choreographing 45 recital dances and 32 competition routines, ordering over 1000 costumes and 500 pairs of tights, managing a competitive dance team, teaching 30 hours a week...just to scratch the surface. I'm burned out and I need a break.

I just need a minute.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rory Update

Well, Rory had her CT scan today. It was...interesting.

We left our house at 4:45 this morning, got to the hospital at 8:15. Now for those of you who aren't familiar with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, it's AMAZING. Colorful, bright, happy, wonderful. We had the best care in the Radiology department.

Rory had to drink 3 half cups of contrast fluid, one every half an hour the first couple hours we were there. The first time they gave it to her with a little lemonade mixed in. She didn't like it at all. The nurse switched it to an apple juice mix, promised Rory a prize every time she finished and bam. She did it. It took some coaxing at times but she did it. Drank it all and didn't spit any out. Compared to the barium...yep today was a success! She was rewarded with a little Doctor's kit, a princess crown and some sort of little ball popper game. Clearly Dollar Tree fodder for the treasure box but to Rory? It was gold! She was in heaven and that's all that mattered.

She had to have an IV inserted today. I explained to the nurse how really stinking awful our last needle experience was. The PA came in and we decided to give Rory a little nitrious oxide (laughing gas) to calm down. It helped a little...she still was crying in pain but she at least wasn't flailing like a dying duck this time and we could hold her still. The nurse got it in and ready on the first try. Thankfully, she had a nightie on that was way too big and the sleeves covered it up.

We had a delightful time in the waiting room getting ready. We watched tv, played games, drank her special juice...delightful. Rory was awesome.

Then it was time for the actual CT scan.

We went with our radiologist to Pirate Island. Rory's CT room was entirely done as a pirate island. Monkeys, a fake dock, parrots, waves, everything! It was amazing. The actual CT machine was painted like a pirate ship. She hopped right up on the table and started watching Toy Story. She did pretty good until they had to push some fluid through her IV. It doesn't hurt but it scared her. So that set off the fear. She held very still and listened to instructions but man she was scared. She kept having tears roll right out of her eyes. But she did it!! The radiologist said she got good clear pictures and we'll have results on Monday!

The worst part of the whole day was trying to get her IV out. It was taped down really strong, so she couldn't pull it out if she got upset. Good idea...except when we wanted it  out.  She went BANANAS. She was sobbing, shaking, screaming. So scared and yeah it probably hurt quite a bit. At one point, the radiologist told Rory she was breaking her heart and Rory said "you're breaking MY heart." It was priceless. :) She survived though!

After that....we got to leave! Rory was enjoying a Mommy-Daddy date day so we extended it. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and then to Build-A-Bear. We're exhausted. We're worn out. But you know what? My three year old is a champ and I love her. From the bottom of my heart!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Playing in the Leaves

On Saturday, my cousin Connor went to his first Homecoming dance! Of course we had to be the obnoxious family that all showed up for pictures. ;) (Actually it wasn't embarrassing to him, since his date has been my student for 8 years and they were going as friends, not love birds. ;)) He looks so grown up and handsome! His date, Katie, looked gorgeous. So much prettier than when I was a freshman! hahaha

Anyways. While we were standing around outside, my photographer Aunt snapped some great pictures of Rory and Trace playing in the leaves. Just one more reason why I love living in the awesome fall!

 Yes, those are her jammies. We had a week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Rory Update

It's Monday. It's cold and rainy in the forest. We're taking a field trip to Wal-Mart. Ink cartridge, paper towels, blank cds, a new book for each kid and a treat for mom. Good enough.

No news on Rosie yet. Our appointment was...unsatisfactory. The doctor was very nice and very good with kids. I'm sure she's wonderful at her job but unfortunately she had little interest in the hairball issue and was more concerned with Rory's constipation. She read the xray report from our local hospital off the paper to us  and then said if it was her kid, she'd take that report as no hairball and be done with it.

Umm...did she read the same report I heard? It said no less than five times that the patient, a THREE YEAR OLD, was not cooperative and didn't drink an adequate amount of barium.

That's kinda why we drove 3 that she could have tests administered by people who work with kids all the time. People with the skills to help a 3 year old through scary tests. The radiologists at the hospital here were very good at their jobs but they don't do peds patients regularly...or like ever. This was the first barium xrays the one tech had ever done on a kid.

So frustrating. I called our pediatrician from the parking lot in tears. I was so tired and worn out, I couldn't help it. Well our pediatrician (Jan) got on the phone with Children's Hospital and raised royal heck. Needless to say, we now have an abdominal CT scan scheduled for Thursday and that will definitively tell us yes or no to a hairball.

What a mess.

Rory hasn't pulled her hair or doll hair in over a week now! Dave had the magic idea, promising her an American Girl doll. Some people can't believe we'd spend $100 on a single doll. I'd pay $1000 if it means my daughter stops pulling her hair. This last week has been the longest, most stressful week of my life. I'll avoid this at all costs.

That being said.

Trichotillomania is no joke. It's a real disorder. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. Rory has little control over doing it at times. It happens as a compulsion. It is the same as kids who wet the bed later in childhood, suck their thumbs obsessively or have chronic nightmares. It's not something she chooses to do. It's something we had to learn to call her attention to when it was happening and learn her "high risk" times for pulling. For Rory, that was (is) when she is tired, nervous or bored. She is very intelligent and if she isn't being intellectually stimulated, she pulls her hair in frustration and boredom.

Trich is complicated. It's something that Rory could be past entirely now or it could flare up in a few months, years or even when she is an adult. We will work with her on monitoring her triggers, learning to handle stress/anxiety/being tired in a better way than pulling her hair. Thankfully, she is only 3 and we have a long time to work with all of this before she is an adult. Trich is often associated with anxiety disorders, OCD and a host of other emotional issues. (And yeah, Rory gets a double dose of it because I am diagnosed with anxiety and depression.) But you know what? My girl is so fearfully and wonderfully made that I'm not worried about it. We'll take each trich filled day as it comes and we'll work with it, deal with it and put it behind us. Just like Trace's acid reflux, we'll handle it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Well, Rory is sick. She woke up with a fever Monday, threw up, kept coughing, runny nose...just generally a mess. I decided I needed to go to the doctor with her. She is very rarely sick beyond a cold and I figured it was better to check it out and know.

A little history...Rory pulls out her hair. It's not a secret, she does it in public. We're dealing with it. She started doing it around her third birthday, that's the original reason behind her short hair cut. When Rory had long hair, she'd put a piece in her mouth, twirl it around her tongue and then swallow it. Cutting her hair solved the issue for a while then she started pulling it out. It's a pretty common "tick" in kids. Some kids bite their nails, pick at their cuticles or suck their thumb. Rory pulls out her hair.

She does it mostly when she is bored, scared or nervous. Her teacher and I had a long talk about it yesterday. Rory doesn't seem to pull her hair out at school, at least her teacher hasn't noticed. (This isn't saying she doesn't do it while at school. Rory is very smart and does it in secret sometimes.) While at school, Rory is very stimulated. There's new toys, lots of friends, singing, projects,'s nonstop stimulation. She loves to learn and being in that atmosphere excites her. She has no need to pull.

At home, it's just the same old toys and her brother. Though they play great games, imagine full on scenarios and stories, we read books and color, go's still all the same. Intellectually, it's not stimulating, new or exciting. It's comfortable and fun, but it's not advancing her knowledge.

The same goes for dance class. When she is in the "baby class" (Pre-dance) she pulls non-stop. She LOVES  dance and has my mom, the beloved Gaga, for her teacher. That should add up to a not stressful experience but it is for Rory. She is bored and doing things she's been doing for 2 years, since she could walk honestly.

Well here's the deal.

Rory potentially has a hairball in her stomach. We had preliminary xrays and blood work on Monday. Blood work and urine test were clean (thank goodness) except a bacterial infection. Her xray showed stomach distention. At that point, we couldn't tell if it was in fact hair or just some gas or food. This morning she had more xrays and had to drink Barium. (Let me tell you how much fun THAT was. About as much fun as pulling your own teeth out without Novocaine.) Anyways. Our beloved PA Jan called me this afternoon and I got the news I was fearing.

The barium xrays were inconclusive. Jan and the Radiologist are not comfortable saying she's clear of hair and at this point, there's a really good chance that the hairball is there and infected. (That is what I am praying is causing the infection anyways and not something way scarier...) Tomorrow (Thursday) we head to Pittsburgh Children's Hospital for more tests with a pediatric Gastroenterology specialist. This is extremely comforting to me. We had several visits there with Trace when he was having his choking episodes in summer, 2011 and were thrilled. Excellent care, great facility. I know that we are going to get answers in a few days, even if that answer is surgery.

Because yeah, if there's a hairball it has to come out. And that means surgery. Hopefully it's small enough to just have a laproscopic surgery and not a full "cut her open" surgery. At this point though...I just want to know what is going on.

Please, pray. Pray for Rosie not to be scared tomorrow. Pray for me, I selfishly ask, that I can stay positive and upbeat for my precious Rory Beth-Ann. She is my baby girl. Mommy's girl. Oh now I'm crying.

Okay. Thanks. I love you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Social

Linking up today for Sunday Social! I love this link up, hosted by Ashley and Neely. I don't know why I don't do it every week.

Actually, I do. I forget. haha :)

Anyways! Link up!

Sunday Social

1. What is something you have wanted to do but are afraid of?
Hmmm...there's not too much, actually. Well, that's not true, I guess! I have lots of ideas and grand schemes I'd love to put in to action for my dance studio, but I'm nervous. I'm working on it though.
2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A wife for almost 11 years (!!!), Mom to an 8 year old and almost 7 year old (that'd make them a third and first grader! WHAT!), a dance teacher for 13 years, a lot less in debt (maybe entirely out?!?!), hopefully an Aunt (hehe),  and happy. Just plain happy. I really love my life.
3. What are you looking forward to before the end of 2012?
Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! Holidays are so fun with toddlers. I just love it! Also the student choreography concert at the studio is awesome. It's really interesting to see my students put together entire dances on their own. So fascinating.

4. What are your hopes for your blog?
Well. I've recently decided I want to make blogging a bigger hobby in my life. I love to write and this is a great outlet. I'm going to make a decision finally on a new design and get serious about this whole thing. I'd love to grow my blog but mostly, I'd like to make time each day to write. 
5. Do you always see yourself living in your current town/city?
Yep! Or at least near here. Our little forest town is wonderful for raising kids. The schools are (for the most part) filled with pretty good teachers, both sides of our families are close, it's safe, Pittsburgh and Buffalo aren't that far away...we really can't complain. I love the forest!
6. What is your morning routine?
7:00. Alarm goes off, I flip on the Today Show and check my emails. I get up, go pee (haha), brush my teeth and put on a sweatshirt. I watch the Today show and answer emails until the kids wake up, usually around 7:45. Breakfast for everyone, only one diaper change!, wash faces and hands, brush hair and teeth, get school clothes on Rory 3 days a week, watch a little Doc McStuffins or Jake, depending on who's day it is to pick the morning show and then out the door to take Ro to school! She loves her little pre-school. Trace and I run errands, work at the studio, go get coffee...really we just enjoy being the 2 of us for a few hours. Then it's lunch time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Okay, a few months ago, I somehow connected my Google+ account (which I never ever use and think is really dumb) with my blogger account. Ever since then, I became the dreaded "noreply" blogger. I have no idea why or how this happened, but I need to fix it. Anyone have a clue how to fix this?!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Where have I been?

Note: I'm about to talk about my breasts. If that weirds you out, skip this post. ;)

Last Wednesday, Sept 12, I underwent a breast reduction surgery. A major breast reduction surgery. Let me back up a little...

In 8th grade, I was a full c cup. Talk about embarrassing. Most girls are still barely filling out training bras and I was wearing underwire bras every day. By the time Rory was born, I was a DD. After Trace, I was fluctuating anywhere from a DDDD to a G, depending on the style and make of the bra. I hated my chest. It  was impossible to find cute bras, they all looked like helmets and were bigger than my face. Clothes didn't fit properly in the slightest. Dresses would have to be 2 sizes too big in order to fit my "girls." I was unable to leap, turn, jump and teach tap classes without being in serious pain and often snapping the underwire part of my bra in two. Clothes that would look  modest on anyone else looked seriously hoochie mama style on me. Tank tops and bathing suits? Yeah right. My bathing suit for the last 3 summers was a maternity suit because it was the only kind I could find that covered me in somewhat modestly in the chest. Embarrassing doesn't even begin to describe it.

After a close friend of mine had a breast reduction this past spring, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge. My insurance covered it, thanks to a chronically displaced shoulder blade, grooves in both of my shoulders and neck pain all caused by too much weight in the front. I went in on Wednesday morning a G cup and left the hospital a nice, normal C cup. 

Now that's the easy part to talk about.

There's a whole other side to breast reduction surgery no one really talks about. And I'm going to.

On Saturday afternoon, I was laying in bed sobbing. Not from pain, it's actually relatively pain free. Not from discomfort, it's not all that bad. I was sobbing  because I had looked at myself in the mirror and thought I looked hideous. I haven't had "small boobs" since 8th grade and the shock of seeing myself in a whole new light sent me in  tail spin. I was in a full on body dysmorphic panic. I was scared, filled with regret and embarrassed. I chose to have this surgery, yet here I was hysterical and disgusted with myself. I was convinced that I made a mistake.

Then my good old dad called me. He asked if I needed to go to see a counselor or someone the way women do after a mastectomy. Yes my surgery was "elective," but it was a necessity.  A huge change. A drastic change. Just hearing him validate that I wasn't totally crazy made me feel so much better. His calling allowed me to feel what I had been feeling....scared. I'm not sure how to deal with this new body of mine.  I'm not sure how to dress, how to hold myself, how people will perceive me. What I do know, though, is that everything I am feeling, good bad or ugly, is normal. Women who go through what I've been through experience a roller coaster of emotions and it's all okay. For years when I looked down, I couldn't see my stomach because my breasts were in the way. Now when I look down, I see it. It hasn't changed size or shape, it's still the same. I have to accept that. And I need to learn to be comfortable in my new skin.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What happened?

I have a problem. My daughter has a serious issue with "guys," as she calls them. She doesn't like men...well men that aren't her brother, dad, Grandpas or cousin Connor. Some of her uncles are okay, but not all. She doesn't like to do "guy things," "ride in guy cars," or watch "guy shows."

I have no clue where this came from.

At first I thought it was because all summer, Dave and Trace would do special things together and Rory and I would do special things together. I thought maybe with me going back to work 2 weeks ago, she was missing our mom-daughter time and that was how she was expressing it..

Nope. Not it. She has told me repeatedly she likes to do things with Daddy and she loves to play with Trace.

Today, at the doctor, our usual PA, Jan, was out sick. We saw one of the male doctors. We've seen him plenty of times before, he was actually the pediatrician in the hospital when Rory was born. She's familiar with him. He's SUPER nice. (All the Dr's in our practice are wonderful.) She threw an out right fit. Screaming, kicking, sobbing, hitting, wiggling away. I had to hold her down to get her ears checked. This is not Rory behavior. Every single other time she's gone to the doctor, it's been fine. She loves the secretary and the nurses, knows where the toys are, she usually loves visiting. In fact, when my sister was doing her Peds rotation at the office, we went down a few times just to hang out. We've spent a lot of time at the doctor since Trace was born because he was such a mystery baby with all his digestive issues. Rory's never had a problem before. Even after shots, she's fine in a few minutes.

I have no idea what to do. I encourage Rory to play with Trace, spend time with Dave...but it's not them she has a problem with. Granted, she doesn't spend a lot of time with boys/men that aren't in our family. There's a few boys at dance, some in her preschool class, but for the most part it's all women. Her Sunday School teacher is a woman, preschool teacher is a woman, she doesn't go to Daycare....

What do I do? Set up play date with boys I know are close to her age to encourage her to play well with boys? Ignore it? She needs to be an equal opportunity friend. ;) She clearly can't throw a fit every time she has a "guy" Doctor, especially when all he is doing is taking her temperature and checking her nose and ears.

Being a mom is so hard sometimes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Trace's Dance Career...

Well, friends. Trace's dance career is already over.

Yesterday, my dear son was supposed to start his Creative Movement class. Last year, Rory was in this class and Trace loved it. He wanted to do the games, songs and movements each week. I figured this year would be in even better because my mom is teaching the class. "Gaga" is a rockstar around here.

Yeah... not so much.

In the first 15 minutes of class, Trace smacked the other girls in the class on the top of the head, hid behind the curtains and jumped out repeatedly shouting BOO at the top of his lungs, started a screaming contest with a little girl and demanded his golf bag about 15 times.

Class started at 4:00. I took his cute butt home at  4:16.

Sorry,  Fizz. You  just can't hit the paying customers! haha Oh well. Guess I'm not raising the next Travis Wall. ;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School!

Today is Rory's first day of school! She was up and ready to go at 7:30. School starts at 9, so needless to say...we had a little photo shoot while we waited. :) Rory is in a 3 year old pre-school class at the same pre-school I went to...and my sister, our cousins and a bunch of my students. It's a wonderful program, taught by a really nice teacher who already knows and loves Rosie. There's 10 kids in her class. Perfect!

She ran right in, put her backpack in her "locker" and shouted BYE MOM. She could have cared less that we were leaving. Way to go, Ro. We're proud of you already! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Disney in Pictures

Hi. My name is Kate and I'm a really bad blogger. I never did a Disney Recap. Sigh. So since I'm out of fresh ideas to blog about...let's recap now!
Disney World, June 21-28, 2012
Dave's 3rd trip, Ro and Fizz's 2nd, My *too many to count* (My brother worked at Disney so we went...a lot. :))
Phone Photo Dump....
Rory, loving the Disney Junior Show at Hollywood Studios

Rory and Trace, sleeping in our awesome rental stroller in the Magic Kingdom on the first day.

Rory with Chef Mickey!

Trace blowing Chef Mickey a kiss! Our table was right by the door the characters came out of. Everyone else (my mom, Dave, my aunt, my uncle and my 2 cousins (11 and 14) were ALL at the buffet and BAM out comes Mickey, right to our table. I was scrambling! lol

 My dancers in EPCOT, prior to their amazing Disney Dancin' workshop. Much more on this later...June 23, 2012

 Really small and hard to see, but this is the marquee signs in Downtown Disney, alerting everyone that STUDIO K was going to perform!

Ro and Fizz loving It's a Small World!

 Rory on one of the beloved Disney buses! Yes, she wore this dress for 3 days in a row.

Trace in my favorite stroller. Man I loved that thing.

One Photo Pass photo for today...Rory with Mickey and Minnie. This 5 minutes of my life will get it's own post tomorrow.

Tomorrow...Rory and Trace meet Mickey and Minnie! Thursday...Rory meets Tiana! Friday...Dancing at Disney World Changed My Life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Randoms

It's Monday. It's raining. I go back to teaching tonight. Even though I love my job, I'm not ready for full time yet. Better get ready right quick though! ;)

Some Randoms for this rainy, cold Monday...

Rory decided to wake me up this morning by putting her talking Belle doll against the monitor in her room. This resulted in me hearing "HELLO THERE PRINCESS! WOULD YOU LIKE TO READ A STORY?!?" at a super loud volume in my room. While I was still asleep.

Message recieved. Rory was awake.

We went school shopping over the weekend for sweet Rosie girl. She starts pre-K in two weeks! Hard to believe. Dave of course has no clue why we had to go school shopping. He just can't get used to kids not wearing uniforms. ;) We got some AWESOME deals at Kohls and Target over the weekend. Check it out, Mamas.

Oh you want to see a picture of Dave in 9th grade? Where he looks about 7 years old? Okay. I'd be happy to oblige.

Yes, friends. He was 15 in that picture. He says he looks 7 years old. hahahaha BABY DAVEY.
Cracks me up every time.

Trace has pink eye. Again. Second time this summer. He likes to wipe his "diaper contents" all over his room and sometimes it gets in his eye. Thankfully our Pediatrician's office is awesome and knows Trace's bad habit well. They just call us in eye drops each time. Boys can be so gross!

 Look at this swollen eye. :( Poor buddy! He's back to normal now though. :)

 And now I need to complain. I've eaten SO WELL the last week. Low carbs, high protein, high veggie and fruit, lots of water. I've done yoga and walked many times.
And yet.
The scale stayed the same this week. Ugh. So frustrating. But I'm going to keep on keeping on. I have set a goal to lose 30 pounds by Christmas and this time I actually feel capable of achieving that goal. Previous goals have been set and never made. I never felt motivated or ready. A scale day like today in the past would have sent me straight for some Chinese food or french fries. Not today. I saw the scale and went straight for a Green Monster.

That, my friends, is what we call progress.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mom Time? What's that?

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Lynsey from over at The Moore Family Blog She mentioned how she was not looking forward to her husband having three softball games this week, all in the evening and smack in the middle of bed and bath time.

Oh sister. I can relate.

Dave golfs. A lot. He doesn't think it's enough (weirdo ;)) but it's a lot. This weekend he has an all day tournament 2 hours away on Friday and another one all afternoon on Sunday. Two tournaments in one weekend is rare, but typically it's at least 3 rounds a week. Golf is Dave's thing. I know and I understand that he needs that outlet. He has a really tough job and golf is his time to relax. It's how he regroups. I get that, it's important and I am supportive 99% of the time. Ask him, he'll tell you. Never ONCE in 5 years of marriage has he wanted to golf on a certain day and I've said "no way" unless I was working or we had somewhere else to be. Not. Once. (I give myself a pat on the back for that one! ;)) I really take pride in the fact that I notice when Dave needs a break, had a hard day at work or just needs some down time. I encourage him to go golfing on nights when we aren't doing anything. I do my best to make sure he gets enough time to himself. I understand and I do my best.


It gets downright exhauting though to be working full time (I do own a business, remember), stay at home full time and then have to do bed time and bath time all on my own. Sometimes I look at the long day ahead of me and it's like a mountain I have to climb. It's really hard sometimes. REALLY HARD. I have two incredibly busy and active toddlers who don't sit still all day long. For example, as I type this, they are making a marching band and going all over the house yelling and screaming "music" at the top of their lungs. Our days are non-stop. Cleaning, cooking, normal mom stuff PLUS all the pressures of owning a (thankfully) thriving business are...just a lot. I look forward to Dave coming home and having another set of hands for diapers and snacks and maybe the opportunity to get a bank deposit put together without Trace scibbling all over checks. Hey I may even get to return phone calls.

I could really go for some mom time of my own. Ocassionally, I do go for lunch and pedicures with my long time best friend, Brittany. Sometimes I'll take an afternoon and go shopping by myself, but usually I get a babysitter for those days.

Here's what I'm doing. I'm committing to spending a minimum of two afternoons/evenings a month for just myself. Just. Kate. No kids, no husband. I'll put my phone on silent and do what I want. Go shopping, go to the spa, go to the movies...whatever strikes my fancy. I'll drive to the closest Starbucks and do work if that's what I want to do. (Yes, that's enjoyable to me! :)) I need to take time to myself and make myself happy, instead of always focusing on making everyone else happy. It's not selfish, it's necessary.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Hey blog world! My competition dance team is in the middle of a really neat fundraiser I thought I'd share with you.

MixedBag Designs is a bag company that offers gorgeous options at low prices. A lot of the bags are eco-friendly and many options come in a woven polypropylene material. This shiny material wipes clean with a cloth and makes for a great diaper bag/kids bag/beach bag...anything where something might get wet or dirty! Not to mention the bags come in adorable prints and a huge variety of sizes. They also have "normal texture" bags, electronic cases, thermal cups, iPhone cases, makeup bags, storage bins...if you can imagine it, they have it!

Some of my favorite pieces:

Department Store Tote in Damask:
· W18 x H13 x D9

Pink and Orange Pleated Large Makeup Bag
W8 x H6.5

Pink and Black Dot Car Organizer (For on the back of a seat!)
· W14 x H17

You can't beat these prices and the prints and options are great! It'd be an easy way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping! :)

Please consider checking it out and placing an order! Check out Mixed Bag Designs here!!

A couple things...

1. If you want to order, comment below and I'll start the process with you! I will have to ship things to you, so we need to add a little bit to your total to cover that.

2. My dancers earn 50% profit on each bag ordered. If you place an order through me, the profit will go to a couple dancers who have hit really hard financial times in their families and need extra help. I won't go in to detail, but please know your order will really help out several deserving dancers who are also really great kids!

I've never featured a Studio K fundraiser on my page before, but this year it's really important to me that I help support a couple families. Please consider helping some really deserving kids!! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Remember when this was all the rage on Facebook? I'm bringing it back. (And you should to! :)) Who doesn't love learning interesting (okay sometimes weird) facts about bloggers? I know I do!

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. My middle name is Rebecca.

2. I am dyslexic. I struggled with math my entire life and almost didn't graduate becaue of calculus. I was in the "gifted" program so everyone just thought I was being lazy with my math and not trying. Not true. I'm actually extremely dyslexic with numbers. Life would have been so much easier if it had been caught in school!

3. I am the queen of putting things in an online shopping cart and then never actually buying it.

4. I almst cut my pinkie off in 2004. I fell off a stool closing a window and it sliced my hand wide open. I now have a pretty big scar on my right hand.

5. I dream in color and always remember at least part of each night's dream, even years later.
6. I always hear everything. Every bad, good or in between thing gets told to Miss Kate. It's a curse, really. Some things I really really really wish I didn't know.

7. My ears are super sensitive to noises. If someone is chewing gum within 15 feet of me, I almost jump out of my skin. I just can't stand it. It's related to my anxiety, I believe. I can tell when my medicine is wearing off, the sounds start irritating me even more. It's not me just being rude or insensitive, it's really and truly like nails on a chalkboard in my head. Gum, chips, carrots, anything loud or crunchy is like torture.

8. I live in yoga pants and capris. Not ashamed.

9. I have a weakness for Chinese food. I could eat it every day.

10. I want to be one of those awesome moms that is always doing crafts and activities with her kids. But really I'm just exhausted all the time.

11. My husband hates to cuddle in bed. What a weirdo.

12. I absolutely hate the episode of Gilmore Girls wear Rory "hooks up" with Dean. I never watch it. It's ridiculous to me.

13. I know I could expand my studio easily in to other towns. I'm just scared. (Pray for my heart on this one, if you don't mind...)

14. Sometimes I think I would have wanted a third baby. But then I put my kids to bed at 7:30 every night and they sleep until 7:30 the next morning, play on their own some every day and eat "people food." I also only have on kid left in diapers...sooo...yeah, no more little Undercoffers here! I'll gladly babysit anyone's newborns though. ;)

15. I inherited the "change jobs often" gene from my parents. I fight it every day! I love my studio so much.

16. It hurts my feelings when girls I used to teach who don't dance anymore or dance some where else now act like they don't know who I am. Yes they do. No need to be rude to me.

17. I love driving! I also didn't have my license until I was 24.

18. I had a Cadillac SRX and traded it in on a minivan. My coolness factor went down by like 1000 points. ;)

19. I love getting pedicures and recently decided I don't like manicures. I like fake nails but I don't like plain manicures.

20. I can't go to Blissdom because it's the same weekend as one of my competitions. I am going to Blogher '13 though! Who else is going?!?

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to be a Baby Shower Superstar

I've seen tons and I mean TONS of pregnancy announcements lately, and lots of first time mamas. This is so exciting! Being pregnant is such a great's challenging, nauseating, stressful, exhausting and different for every person. I've talked before about my pregnancy challenges, and how thankful I am that those days are behind me now. Today I want to talk about being a guest at a baby shower.

Listen up, ladies.

Golden Rule of Baby Shower Shopping: When shopping for a baby shower gift, think like this: for every one cute thing I buy, I must buy 2 practical things.

For example, yes that pink ruffly sun dress with matching sandals is adorbs, but if you buy it, pair it with a pack of wipes and a large bottle of baby wash. That snuggly soft blanket with embroidered football? Totally cute and would make for great pictures...but toss in a pack of size 2 diapers and a pack of 6-9 month plain onesies.

The cute stuff babies get is overwhelming to new mom. I remember standing in my living room surrounded by mountains of gifts. I was so grateful. SO thankful that everyone had taken the time and money to give us great gifts but honestly, I had no idea what I was doing with any of it. I broke down in tears, as I did about every 15 minutes when I was 8 months pregnant,

Between Rory and Trace, I was gifted (at a minimum) 30 blankets. I ended up donating a bunch to the local city mission for moms in need. I didn't have room for 30 baby blankets and wanted to make sure they got put to good use, not just sat in the back of a closet. They were great blankets, but just an excess.

The same goes for clothes in tiny sizes. I had so many 0-3 months clothes flood my door after Rory was born. They were GORGEOUS and so thoughtful...except Rory was born weighing almost 10 pounds. She was in 0-3 months for about 4 weeks. Little chunky monkey, that one. ;) Again, I ended up donating brand new, expensive outfits with tags attached to the city mission. They went to a great cause but still, I felt guilty for not being able to put her in every outfit people took time and money to send to us.

Because I had kids in such rapid succession, I consider myself a veritable expert in baby gifts. I already told you my golden rule (remember, 1 cute, 2 practical.) Here are my other rules...

Think about the time of year a baby will be born, not when the shower is. Babies born in November require different gear than June babies. November babies could use a nice warm hat (if you knit or crochet it yourself, you are officially a rockstar) and lots of socks. Even a pair of boots! June babies on the other hand need swim diapers, a swim towel, a nice sun hat...all practical and still fun to shop for.

Want to really be helpful? Buy things in a size or two up. I remember one of my dance moms who has two kids sending me a present and everything in it was size 6-9 months. She fast forwarded her shopping and sent clothes for Rory to wear when she was a little older. It was awesome.

Same goes for diapers! My kids were both almost 10 pounds and never wore newborn sized diapers. They started life in size 1. Now when I go to baby showers, I make sure to buy size 2 or 3 diapers and attatch a gift receipt right to the pack. Wal-Mart and Target will let you exchange diapers,  because certain brands work better for certain baby's bottoms. (Rory was a Huggies girl, Trace can only wear Pampers Cruisers, all the other brands give him a rash!)

Things to avoid buying:
-Shoes. Super cute but super impractical. It's too hard to shove a little sausage foot in a shoe. Good alternative: cute socks, warm sock for cold weather, etc

-Expensive books. There are lots of gorgeous picture books out there, with intricate illustrations and high price tags. Please remember you are giving these books to a baby, who will eventually become a destructive toddler. Board books are great, inexpensive picture books and lots of them are the best. That way a tired mom won't have to feel bad when her daughter finds a Sharpie and draws all over every page...not that that's ever happened here.... ;)

-Noisy toys. Please just don't.  A little music or a few sounds, great. Screaming toys that light up 92 colors and make you want to toss them across Wal Mart before you even leave? No fun for anyone. Especially when they go off in the middle of the night...!

-Anything breakable. I mean, not that my children have ever picked up the ceramic cross gifted to them before they were born and tried to play basketball with it...I'm just saying it could happen!

Suggestions on practical things to buy:
-Baby shampoo and body wash. A hair washer water pour-er thingy. (Technical name) Soft, hooded towels, wash clothes, loofa. (No bubble bath, please. It irritates little bottoms!) Wrap it all up in a fun bin or basket that can be used to store books or toys, even towels in the bathroom.

-Onesies, socks, hats, mits for newborns (so they can't scratch themelves), a comb/brush, nail clippers...all that good practical stuff

-Wipes and Diapers, Massive quantities.

-Gift cards for stores and restaurants...a cleaning service gift card would be the holy grail of gifts.

-Gift card for  the sitting fee at a photo studio!

-Winter babies could use a car seat blanket cover thingy

-Summer babies could use a sun tent shade maker thingy. (Don't you love my technical terms?! :))

-Baby laundry soap (unscented), laundry basket. So practical. So useful.

No matter what gift you give or send, please include in your card something like this: Dear Mama-to-be, I know how tired you are, how stressed you are and more importantly how thankful you are. There's no need to send me a thank you note. I know you have 9,000 other things to think about. Rest assured I know how thankful you are. Save your time and stamp for another day!

What's the best baby gift you've ever recieved? What's the best you've ever given?

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I'm having a blah couple of days. My PPD is flaring up, as it usually does when I get stressed. So much going on.

To relax, I've been spending a lot of time with my two favorite fictional ladies: Rory and Lorelai.

I know a lot of my blog  buddies have been having a crappy week, blah week or stressful week...perhaps all of the above. To get us all through another Thursday...I give you Gilmore Girls.

Source: via Liz on Pinterest

Copper Boom.