Monday, December 16, 2013

Mondays with The Mouse: Etsy Disney

I'm re-starting my Mondays with the Mouse see, I think about Disney about 75% of the time. My kids love all things pixie dusted, I love the movies, the shows, the's actually a sickness. ;)

For as long as I see fit, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Disney tips, tricks, crafts, finds, etc right here on the old blog! And please, if you are planning a Disney trip and want any advice or help, ask!! I love love love helping people plan their trips and would be more than happy to offer my experience and opinions for good. (Can I make a living planning people's Disney trips? I'd so do that...)

Today, I'm going to share with you some of my favorite Disney finds, via Etsy. I'll link all the shops so you can check things out for yourself!

These ADORABLE matching Mickey and Minnie Hoodies come from IbraMark. I could never get Dae to wear these with me...but I can force R and T to wear them :)

This print, featuring one of my most favorite quotes from my favorite  ride, (The Carousel of Progress), comes from Designs by Nicolina. I wouldn't be made to get this for my birthday next month...

How cool is this?! It comes from the Totally Disney shop. We definitely need one for our house...and I think a Studio K one would be so cool for the studio!

I'm really into these cute light up blocks lately. I love the way they look on a mantle or bay window. The glow is nice on a quiet night. I think this would look fantastic on our tv stand...hint hint hint DAVE! :) It comes from the super cute shop, ShopMissEloise.

I MEAN! How cute is this dress?! It'd be perfect for school or regular wear, and extra great for a Disney trip. Rory will definitely be getting this little lovely for our trip in June! It comes from a great Disney themed shop, LittleDebsDresses.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Frozen: A Review

Yesterday, we took the kiddos to see Frozen at the movie theater.

It. Was. Awesome.

Now I am a sucker for animated movies of all kinds, especially musical Disney ones. But Frozen? Frozen was just plain awesome.

Rory's Review:

Did you like Frozen? I loved it.

What was the best part? The time when the princess froze the other princess's heart and made everything cold.

Who was your favorite character? Everybody that helped the princess...the princesses and the snowman were my favorite ones.

Would you go see it again? Uh YEAH! (Trace from the background: Can I please come?!)

That's a five star review from my resident Disney princess lover. :)

Rory spotted Tiana in the ball scene right away and SCREAMED in the theater "THERE'S TIANA!!!!" :) Dave also saw Rapunzel. I didn't see either of them but I'm not very observant. :)

I give Frozen a big huge mom 5 stars. The music was gorgeous, the animation was stunning (Those ice scenes?! WOW) It happened to feature 4 of my faves as voices: Kristin Bell, Jonathon Groff, Josh Gad and the queen of Broadway herself, Idina Menzel. I mean...honestly. Idina singing "Let It Go" in a Disney movie?!


The story was great too. Some really great lessons in there...acts of true love aren't necessarily between a prince and a princess. Family is true love too...

And that, my friends, is a lesson worth the price of any movie ticket!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snoezelen Room

So Rory...

In a constant effort to make our home as comfortable as possible and "safe" for Rory as possible, we are thinking of turning a portion of our finished basement in to a "Snoezelen Room."

Snoezelen comes from 2 Dutch words, meaning "sniffling" and "to doze/snooze." Snoezelen rooms are "controlled multisensory environments." They are much more common in Europe. Basically, they are "calm" rooms that appeal to multiple senses at once. They use a lot of light therapy, white noise, comfy spaces, even scent therapy at times.

Rory had a great response to the CME Room at therapy last week. To be honest, I loved the CME room myself!! :) I can only imagine the benefit having a small one in our house would be for both her and Trace. Who doesn't need a safe space, designed specifically to help you calm down, relax and quiet your mind? With both kids facing major life changes (kindergarten anyone?!) in the next 3 years...yep, seems like a good idea to me. (Also, sidebar, if you are ever looking for me once we install this...check the corner with the fluffiest bed near a bubble tube. ;o))

Here's my dilemma...CME Room equipment is expensive. I mean EXPENSIVE. Rory was particularly drawn to the bubble towers in the CME room...


Beautiful, right?


Anywhere from $350 to $1000. Per. Column. YIKES. Even table top ones will run you a couple hundred...

I've found some smaller things, like a lava lamp, speakers that respond to music with light/water (that'd be good with quiet classical music, I think), a small fountain...that would get us started on the visual sensory elements.

Auditory elements are easy...a white noise machine and a small CD player to play classical music. Easy peasy.

Tactile elements are up next...there has to be comfy places for her to relax and recline. The CME Room at therapy has round platforms, cushioned entirely, with white netting encasing it. I don't think that'd be too hard to dad is pretty handy. I think we could cut a piece of plywood into an appropriate size (Small is good, because it encourages comfort and implies safety) and just put a couple wooden blocks on the bottom for a little height. You can order round mattress that aren't very thick. Then we could add foam padding around the wooden base and "upholster" the whole thing in a comfy fabric...

Holy moly. I just worked that out right on my blog. Well that will be my dad's next project...after he's done with their kitchen renovation!

As far as the tulle "casing" goes...I can make that like a boss. Gimme a bolt of white tulle and a hula hoop, a hot glue gun and a couple episodes of Grey's and BAM. Done!

Oh how I wish these kinds of things were covered by insurance. But no. I am a hard working, contributing member of society who faithfully pays my taxes. My husband is the same. It's extremely frustrating...

I'm rambling, I know. It's late and I'm tired. But I'm motivated. I'm motivated to give my kiddo the tools she needs to lead a happy life to the best of her abilities.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rory update.

Time for a Rory update...

We had therapy last week with her totally awesome and in high demand (BOO! YAY! BOO!) therapist, Miss Angela. Angela is phenomenal. She has a jammed schedule and works her magic to get Rory in once a month (we're on the cancellation list for any available appointment). I know a lot of people would get frustrated with once a month appointments but I'm choosing to be so grateful Rory likes her and is open with her. Angela and Rory have a great rapport already and I'm not switching again. I know if we work diligently on the things she's given us each appointment through out the month, it will be worth it. Eventually, her schedule will mesh with ours and we will get in to 2x a month or even more. I know it, I pray for it and I trust that it will happen.

This was our second session. Our behavioral health facility is brand new and beautiful. Half of the entire building is different therapist's offices for individual sessions. There are probably 15-20 offices for therapists of all kinds: men, women, young, old...there's someone for everyone, honestly. The other half of the building is home to "units" for different behavioral disorders. There's ADHD centered rooms, sleep disorders, etc. The best is a HUGE autism unit. There's a calm room, 4 therapist offices, special bathrooms and a giant playroom with Autism appropriate areas. Light tunnel, sensory walls, a swing, big soft play sets, a 5 foot by 5 foot ball's really great.

Last time we were in, Angela showed Rory the autism unit and promised we'd use it at an appointment if no one else was in the unit. Well this appointment it was free! Rory got to play while she chatted with Angela and it was really cool.

They used the ball pit a lot. Sensory wise, it was calming to Rory. She liked sinking down below the balls. (A lot of sensory kids like a little pressure or weight on them, they find it calming. Rory definitely likes several blankets or pillows on her)

The balls were 4 colors: yellow, blue, green and red. Angela used the balls to help Rory identify and put a color with each of her biggest fears.

Paraphrasing her words/reasoning:
Yellow, for Rory, represented being happy because the sun in yellow and Rory is happy when it's sunny. (Not a fear, but a goal.)

Red is people being angry or yelling at her.

Blue is people dying/going away forever because that makes her cry and tears are water and water is blue.

Green is going bald. She's not afraid of bald people but she's afraid of going bald and not having any hair because people would laugh at her.

When she was talking about going bald, I excused myself and cried in the bathroom for a few minutes. Imagine your child living with the fear of having no hair. I can't explain to her that going bald is just part of having a childhood disease like cancer and that people understand it. Because they don't. When I see a kiddo with a bald head, I immediately associate it with cancer and share a smile or hello with them. When you see a kid with a patchy head, pull spots galore...well the judgments are a little different. A kid with trich's baldness/hair loss looks very different from childhood cancer hair loss. It's kinda scary at times, honestly. Very different. Very hard to explain. Very difficult for me to accept, honestly. I'm not a very appearance oriented mom. I love cute outfits but I had to give up control of Rory's hairstyles and accessories long ago. She hasn't successfully worn a bow or barrette in her hair for longer than 20 minutes in 3 years. She can't handle her hair being braided or even put in a ponytail. She has strong opinions and inclinations when it comes to what to wear and what feels good that day. I've accepted it and I'm okay with it. In fact, I look forward to seeing what Rory wants to wear each day. She's 4 and it's a-okay to be "Fancy Nancy" every day. But the looks, the judgement at the grocery store, the head shakes, the flat out statements...ugh. It can be really hard to be mom of a kiddo with sensory issues sometimes.

Back to our session...

Angela worked with Rory on some coping mechanisms to calm her down when she feels the anger or worries bubble up in her belly. They spent a long time practicing angel wings (Deep, consistent breathing with repetitive arm motions) After that, Angela took her in the calm and quiet room.

That room was awesome. I wanted to lay down in there!! They had these individual "bed" type things with white tulle hanging from the ceiling, making like little tents. There was a white noise machine, cool air blowing through, light up headboards with LED lights that changed colors and patterns, LED lights in the ceiling to focus on and floor to ceiling bubble tubes with a very calming bubbly sound as bubbles traveled up and down the tube and the tubes changed colors softly. It was a great room! Rory laid down in one pod and focused on the bubbler for a while, doing her angel wings.

We are thinking about investing in a lot of those things to help her calm down at night or when she gets worked up...

All in all, it was a great session! I'm thrilled with Angela and grateful to have someone who takes us seriously and is willling to work through so much with us now. She specifically said we need to amp up our anti-anxiety efforts after Christmas in preparation for Kindergarten, which I. Definitely. Agree. With.

Another day closer towards Rory leading a normal life...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Notice anything?

Notice anything new around these parts?? Yep! I changed my blog design and name...I was 567Kate for the first bit of my blogging career. Then life and family happened and I needed a change. That's where Dancing in the Minefields came in. But lately...I've been in such a different place in my life and wanted to go back to my roots...

Thanks to the delightful Jenn over at Munchkinland Designs my blog is EXACTLY how I want it to look. A happy blend of bright colors and sparkle. She really is the best, I can't recommend her highly enough. Also I'm really proud of her for adjusting her schedule to make sure it's family first then work. I'm working on this myself lately so I'm always happy to see other business women leading the way! :)

That all being said, I'm back in the blog world. I'm going to be posting as regularly as life will allow. I'm going to try and grow my blog, maybe even turn it in to a little happy place for people. I'm in a good place right now, a better place than I've been in in months and I want to share! :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rimmel London StayMatte Foundation

Are you all a part of Influenster?! You are totally missing out if you aren't!! From time to time, you will get products to try and review. I've had some really wacky stuff and some really great stuff. Until recently, the best thing I'd received was a full 1 second temporal thermometer for my kids. All I had to do was use it and fill out a survey...didn't even pay shipping. WIN!!!

Well a few days ago, I got sent Rimmel London's new Stay Matte Foundation to try out.

I'll admit, I was little skeptical. I'm pretty true to my BeautiControl Wet/Dry Foundation. But this Stay Matte was pretty good!!

I had some gnarly mommy acne right now and it covered quite a few of my red areas without concealer underneath and stayed that way for a better part of the day. It was very light on my face and only seemed to crease or look "splotchy" under my eyes, which is always a problem area for me. I have chronic dark circles under my eyes...thanks kids. ;) It applied very evenly and easily with my regular old drug store makeup wedge and washed off easily at the end of the day. I'd give this foundation a 4.5 out of 5! Definitely a great "bang for your buck" product!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finding Grace.

"Lord grant me grace" is probably my most common prayer.

When R & T are running amok around my house, screaming and destroying things, in the name of play...grant me grace to see them as creative, growing little beings.

When R & T are fighting like cats and dogs, grant me grace to stay calm and see things clearly.

When Dave is driving me bonkers, grant me grace to see my own cranky attitude and not lash out.

When my students won't be quiet and seem to have 12,000 things to share in class, grant me grace to respond with caring and love, since that's all they really need.

When the bills pile up and the tuition is not coming in, grant me grace to be patient and rest in the Lord's provision.

When my house is up-dumped at the end of the day, when there's 10 chores that need done at the end of my long work day when all I need is my bed and Grey's Anatomy, grant me grace to see my house with gratitude.

I'm trying. So much of my life seems to be backwards right now, but I'm trying. I'm seeking grace and wisdom and some days, that's as good as it gets.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Through the Ages!

Halloween is so much fun with kiddos!! Rory and Trace LOVE Halloween...we start picking out costumes and props as soon as school starts each year. They love dressing up and they love candy, so hey win win! :)

I'll have a 2013 recap for you tomorrow but for today, a retrospective of R&T's Halloweens of the Past!

2009: Chiquita Banana

2010: Minnie Mouse and a Ghostie (Trace was 7 days old!)

2011: The Princess and the Frog

2012: Belle and Jake, the Neverland Pirate

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My House

Sometimes, I look around at my life and wonder what happened.

The other day, I was looking through pictures from when Rory was a toddler and Trace was just a baby. My house was SO CLEAN. Everything was picked up and straight, the table was clear, no baskets of laundry everywhere, the floor was vacuumed...sigh. Those were the days.

Now my house...well it's "clean" but not organized. The counters are wiped, the bathrooms are cleaned, the carpet gets vacuumed weekly and the laundry gets done. But I miss the organized, pretty house I used to have. I miss the living room looking like a living room and not ToysRUs. (lol!!)

Rory's bedroom is a disaster 100% of the time. As orderly and linear as she is in every other area of her life, her bedroom is always a war zone. Toy boxes emptied all over the floor, clothes pulled out of drawers, crayons and coloring books all over. You can never see the floor.

And it drives me nuts.

I brought it up to the therapist. We clean Rory's room, get it all straightened up and nice and within 20 minutes, it's a disaster again. Apparently, that's very common among kid with Rory's issues. Their room is their domain and they need it how they need it. It's like they feel free in their room to be disorderly when every other area of their life, they are compelled to be on the straight and narrow.

It makes sense! Even though I don't share a lot of the same issues with Rory, I know there are area of my life where I feel it's okay to let things slide. My desk at the studio always has piles of papers and coffee cups scattered about. It doesn't bother me very often because it's my space and the rest of the studio is swept, picked up and wiped clean.

I'm going to try a lot harder at keeping the house more the way I like it. I've got in to a good routine with the laundry and it rarely piles and stacks up around me anymore. (VICTORY!) My side of the bedroom is clean 95% of the time now and the bathrooms are always clean. I need to do better at the clutter that is my living room though...and I really need to go through the kids toys.

But's intimidating. I could pretty much stock my own Toy Store this Christmas with things the kids don't play with. But you know the minute I give a toy away, they are crying and begging for that toy they haven't seen or thought about in months. It never fails! lol

How's your house? Do you have a cleaning schedule? Any tips??

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poppin' Pins

I feel like I've been on Pinterest for years. It probably has been 2 years at least...well that's not true. It has to be at least 3 because I just deleted the board I made for Trace's first birthday ideas and he's three now so...

Wow. Time flies!

That being said, I've gone through spurts where I'll pin like crazy and then not even look at the website for a few months. Lately, though I've been pinning regularly.

Here's what I've discovered lately:

These Pandora Stations are awesome! I'm a big fan of the of the Yoga Workout Station.

How adorable is this?! I think it'd make a perfect Christmas gift for my staff or for the kids' teachers...hmmm...

I'd be really happy to see this under my Christmas tree...cough cough

This tattoo...I'm actually planning to get this, with a slight twist. If I don't wimp out that is.

I'm repurposing an old key organizer hanger thing we never really use in to this! I love a good upcycle...especially Disney related. ;)

What have you been pinning??

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trace is Tres!

On Oct 25, my sweet little blondie boy turned THREE. I can not believe he is three! Where did time go?!

Seems like just yesterday he was this adorable little tiny baby...

And now he's three?!

Oh my sweet boy! I love you Trace!!

Last weekend, we had a family party to celebrate. It was, of course, Penn State themed since Trace is earnestly obsessed with all things Penn State, especially Penn State Football!

My mom is awesome! She hand drew all these fun posters and decorations!

The party was at my mom's house. She has a gorgeous old Victorian house and it's perfect for parties...much better than my tiny little one story. :)

Opening his One Star General Uniform from his Aunt Kate, a Lt Col in the Army! :)

Checking out his new jersey...

We love you so much Fizz!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trace is tres!

Trace is tres! (Ole!)

Please tell me someone else chuckled at that...I wanted his birthday party to be a fiesta this year but you know Captain Football wanted nothing to do with that! lol

A party recap will follow but for today...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Drip Drip Drop.

Living with my daughter is like constantly anticipating a rain storm.

When I was a little girl and the skies were overcast, I'd stand in the front yard of my grandparents' house and try to throw sticks in to the sky to make it rain. I'd hurl those silly sticks as hard as I could, convinced I could pierce the cloud and bring the rain myself. How silly but how fun those moments were for me.

As a parent, I feel like I'm constantly hiding every stick in sight and protect my storm cloud with every ounce of my energy.

If Trace takes the purple plate at lunch, will that be the stick that pierces our cloud? If Rory's blanket is missing, if a doll shoe has gone in to hiding in the disaster that is her room, if she can't find a nightie she was thinking about all day at that the stick that finally pierces the cloud?

Somedays, the skies in our house go from perfectly sunny with big fluffy Toy Story clouds and a crystal clear blue horizon to a torrential Florida July afternoon rainstorm with no warning. Other days, the rain comes slowly...drip drip drip drip...faster and more intense until finally the dam breaks and out pours the rain.

My little storm cloud. My barely 4 foot tall, 35 pound little girl...she can bring the rain like no other. And I'm continually offering everyone around us an umbrella while simultaneously trying to catch all the rain drops with my bare hands.

Have you ever stood in the doorway, knowing you are about to walk in to a down pour with no umbrella, not even a hood? There are moments in my life where that is what I feel like. I can hear that first scream from Rory's tiny, pink, angel kiss lips and know. I just know. Here comes the rain.

Have you ever tried to catch the rain? Tried to hold out your hands and capture the drops, study them and learn from them? It's practically impossible. They rush through your fingers, on to the ground, spilling over your whole world, bathing everything in sight.

That is my life. On Rory's bad days, her moods and issue swirl around me so quickly, so incredibly fast that I am caught up in it and my entire world becomes Rory's world. I become desperate, offering punishments, alternatives, solutions, options until one of gets too tired, too emotional, too worn out to continue.

The difference between Rory and other kids? If she sets her mind on something, she will not stop until the gets her way. Put her in a room, she'll kick the wall or door until she falls asleep, you take her out or she kicks a hole. Give her a spanking, she'll laugh manically in your face. Take away a toy, she'll scream at the top of her lungs until the whole neighborhood can hear or she falls asleep.

On her worst days, her outbursts are truly like cloud burst. You can do nothing but stand back and watch the rain fall around you. How do you stop a rainstorm? How do you stop Rory?

You can't. You just get wet.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm standing

I'm standing.

I woke up today. I am healthy. I am still imperfect, I am still flawed, I am still making mistakes. But. I woke up today.

My feet hit the floor, after a cacophony of giggles and Mamas filled my room much earlier than my alarm would have woken me, but I stood up. I chose to smile at my babies, grateful that they too woke up today.

My feet found the cold tile of the bathroom, my hands splashed warm water on my face and my breath grew steady with resolve. I brushed my teeth and counted the strokes, as I have for as long as I have been able to count. Hurry Mommys! and a scuffle in the kitchen and all of a sudden my feet hit the kitchen tile. Worn, stained and well loved, our kitchen tile met my feet with a familiar pattern. I stood in front of the coffee pot, the toaster, the refrigerator. I stood, performing the familiar breakfast routine, but I stood. Fueling my children for a long day ahead, fueling myself with caffeine and medicine.

Breakfast doled out, coffee with cream in hand, my feet found the carpet of the living room a warm reprise from the cold tile. Shuffled to the couch, I sat and observed my children playing. Their tiny feet, making patterns in the carpet as they run through our tiny house, searching for trains, crayons, tiny plastic princesses and countless blocks to build a tiny town of their own imagination. Watching them create awakens my sleepy mind.

I'm sitting comfortably, yet I'm standing.

I'm here. I'm making it. I'm surviving this life, this crazy, ridiculous, challenging life and I'm standing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Miss My Friend.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, heaven gained an amazing angel. Rory and Trace received their new guardian angel. The gates open and one of my most trusted and loved friends danced her way through, down the golden streets and straight to the Lord, where I'm sure she was greeted by so many lives she's touched, changed and made better. I am confident the Good Lord greeted her warmly and thanked her profusely for sharing His love and compassion every day, without even needing words.

Brenda Emer is no long a cancer patient. She is healed. She is whole. She is at peace.

I have no idea if this is biblical or not, something I just read in a book or heard a Pastor mention once but I love the thought and choose to believe it's true. In heaven, you don't remember the sad times and the struggles. You get all the best memories and none of the bad. I take such comfort in that thought, that my dear friend is sitting somewhere right now, with all the beautiful souls I've lost recently (and not recently), laughing, singing and joking about the good times they've all shared and the shiny memories that stand out.

Brenda Emer...oh my friend, how I miss you. At your balloon release on Tuesday, which I'm sure you would have hated and preferred we donated the money we spent to someone who neede it but please suck it up and accept the love!, my heart physically hurt so badly I was convinced I was having a heart attack. You know those people that make your life better just by being on the same planet? The ones you take comfort in knowing see the same stars as you? That was Brenda. She was a breath of fresh air.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Brenda very well for the last 8 years. Her daughter, Allison, is one of my all time favorite dancers. She walked in to the studio on the first day we opened the doors and I knew my life would never be the same. Allison was a diamond in the rough. She needed polishing and I knew it was my task to start chipping away. We've been through a lot together...I remember so vividly the one time Brenda received a cancer diagnosis (one of 12 times, mind you) She broke the news to Allison at the dance studio because it's a safe space for us all. Oh Allison cried. Sat on the mats with me and cried. And we discussed how it wasn't the end of the world and we would get through.

Well look at us now, Allison. Getting through things together still!

Over the years, Allison has grown in to an amazing young woman. She's an incredibly hard worker, a talented dancer and acrobat, a kind soul, wise beyond her years with the maturity of a grown woman. She's seen more in her life than I can imagine. I get overwhelmed knowing the things she's dealt with and I've got 11 years on her in age. My sweet Pallie, the baby whisperer. The ONLY one who could get Trace to stop crying when he was so sick as a baby. She's so gentle and Trace could tell that. (He still loves his "A-yeee-son" :))

In so many ways, I view Allison as my other kid. I guess when you share someone's journey with really do become family.

Brenda was one of the first people who taught me about family. My own family is fantastic, of course. But she taught me about what I call OHANA. That family that's not necessarily your relatives but they are your tribe, your clan, your village.

Brenda Emer faced cancer 12 times in 16 years. First diagnosed when Allison was 2 with breast cancer, it never really went away or in to remission. She told me once that she lived with cancer the way her son lives with diabetes. It was all about maintenance and was more like a chronic illness. (Can you EVEN imagine? I think my chronic allergies are bad...dang it Brenda. Always with the constant reality checks!)

She spent her days driving school bus, working in the school cafeteria, being John and Allison's biggest fans. She loved to cavort around town with her wolfpack of friends, wonderful ladies I have come to know and care for over the last 8 years. She was always up for a good time, loved weddings and parties. Brenda was a champion for all types of cancer and cancer research. She reached out to hundreds of patients over the years, encouraging them, supporting them, helping them in any way she could. Brenda was a speaker all over the state of Pennsylvania at various functions and organizations, spreading her message of hope and perseverance. For years, she had Dave and I both on her Relay for Life Team. We sold more candy bars, hoagies and candles then I care to count. But you know what? With Brenda at the helm and doing 90% of the work...I swear to God we raised close to $50,000 over the 5 or 6 years we did it.

Funny time we were selling these candy bars. Brenda gave me a second box to sell. I told her I hadn't finished my first box. She told me I needed to step up my game, in sarcam, of course. I looked her square in the eye and told her not everyone was a bald cancer patient with a sob story that could make someone buy sh*t on a stick!

To this day, her belly laughing at me saying that and the sheepish, mischievous grin on her face are one of my fondest memories. She knew it! She knew no one could say no to her. Because Brenda...she made you feel and oh how we need that!

Brenda was also a mediocre tap dancer. (Is it okay if I admit that now? She's not here to hit me so it's probably safe...eight years of adult tap lessons Brenda should have made it possible for you to do a stinking Buffalo!!! :))  Brenda was a fireball. She was everything good in this world in the face of so much crap.

Brenda taught me so much over the last 8 years. She taught me to laugh at life. She taught me to pick myself up by my boot straps and keep going. Brenda was my living reality check, not that she'd ever want to be viewed that way, but it's true. No matter how crappy things were for me, she always had it worse but acted 1000 times better.

In a video made about her journey, she said she wasn't sure why God kept giving her cancer. She stated she knew there was a reason but she wasn't sure, even though she'd asked many times. (She was a wonderful woman of faith)

I think I figured it out.

Brenda, your journey in life was so bumpy and hard because you were meant to be a light. You are a light.

You shine so brightly in so many ways. The obvious ways, of course...cancer research, patient advocacy, family love and community support. But there's so much more...your light shone beyond what you could even comprehend. You never saw how much good you did and you didn't care, you just kept plugging along. You asked why and I confidently can say it's because you were strong enough, brave enough, to have your journey. Your journey, twisty, turny, rocky and full of adventure is so meaningful, so filled with lessons. That's your reason, Brenda. To change the world.

Everyone's experience with Brenda is different.

When I was pregnant with Rory, I was very sick. I was so scared I was losing the baby. I was on my way to the hospital and I called Brenda out of sheer panic. My husband was packing a bag for me, my mom was getting the car and I was standing in the corner of the kitchen, panicking. I called Brenda. My brain went right to someone who knew, someone who'd been there, someone who'd know the fear. She calmed me down so quickly and didn't think I was crazy. She called and texted many times over my hospital stay, just to check on me. (I'm just one of many people she's done this for!)

That'st just Brenda's way. She was there for you. I tried hard over the last 8 years to be there for her and I think in small ways, I was. I hope I was. I hope she felt my love and respect. Actually, I'm choosing to believe she did.

Brenda Emer was a one in a million person. She had two mottos in life: Always Think Positive and 5 Hugs a Day. Isn't that pretty much the key to true happiness? If you force yourself to think positive, even in the face of say...CANCER, it makes this life so much easier to deal with. Hugging 5 people a day is good for your soul. There's something soothing about physically connecting with another person. It's solidarity, it's friendship, it's invigorating. I challenge you all to abide by Brenda's mottos!

As the days turn in to weeks, months and eventually, years since Brenda Emer has sat at the studio and laughed at stories about Trace, let me cry on her shoulder over all of life's struggles, watched her daughter tumble down the mats, scooped corn on to plates at the elementary school cafeteria, called the radio station to try and win a trivia contest while driving a bus, had a chemo treatment or reminded me that she loves me no matter won't be easy. It will not be easy to move on without such a big part of my life. I miss my friend. I really, genuinely miss my friend and that will never go away. But. It will get easier to laugh and smile when I think of her, easier to embrace her life mottos, easier to put love in action and do something good in this world.

Because, honestly, at the end of the day...that's all Brenda was trying to do. Something good. And oh baby, she did.

I love you, Bren. I'm so glad I got to call you my friend and part of my ohana. My life is forever better because of you. Hug my Grammie for me...and Kaari's gram too. Oh I can just hear you three laughing at Trace stories...Tell Mrs. Lewis how much I miss her and make sure to teach Frehiwot a buffalo. :) I promise you years ago I wouldn't let Allison fall through the cracks and I will never let up on that. Until we meet again in heaven, my sweet friend...<3 i="">

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Coming Clean.


I haven't been honest.

The real reason I haven't been blogging is...well I've got a lot going on right now.

Rory's issues have gotten worse. Her anger, her frustration, her trichotillomania, her exhaustion, her non-sleeping, her worrying, her anxiety, her acting out...all worse. A lot worse actually. This summer was really really really rough.

There were days, man, where I'm on the phone in tears to our pediatrician, begging for her help. Sobbing to my mom, my aunt, my sister, begging for help and ideas. Watching my tiny, beautiful, creative, energetic 4 year old yank hair out of her own head, throw her beloved dolls against the wall in anger, go without sleep for days on end, spit on her best friend and cousin...

It was awful. The amount of tear I shed, the times Dave and I fought, the number of times I had to hold my daughter in a tight hug and sing to her over her own screaming just to try and get her to calm down...awful doesn't even begin to describe it. Dave would be able to tell how "good" our morning was just by the tone in my voice at lunch time.

I kept telling myself it would get better, that it was just a phase.

It's not.

We have had 3 or 4 visits with our much adored pediatrician in the last few weeks and we've officially been referred to the Pediatric Behavioral Health Unit at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. I spoke at length to the CRNP Monday about our Rory Girl. We started the conversation with the understanding that Rory might not be able to be seen until well into September, potentially October. By the time I was done, well she wanted to see Rory next week. We'll be meeting with her for an intake evaluation on Monday the 9th.

So what does all this mean?

Well as of right now, we're anticipating that Rory will have an IQ Test (she's brilliant. I'm not saying that to brag, it's the God's honest truth), autism spectrum tests, hearing tests (she's inherited my misphonia and super sensitive hearing, I'm sorry to say), emotional and behavioral health evaluation, anxiety disorder tests (again I'm sorry Rory...) and a battery of other tests which will all, hopefully, lead us to a diagnosis and plan.

A plan. That sounds heavenly.

And when all of this is said and done...I'm going to Disney World.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dance Ads

I'm deep in the heart of registration season for my studio, Studio K. I went to an AWESOME conference in June and it has totally revolutionized how I run my business in all the best ways possible. One thing we spent a lot of time on as discussing how to best market our studio on Facebook. I'm pretty proud of the ads I've been whipping out lately so I thought I'd share!

We are dancing on the edge of 200 students and our second general registration is tomorrow. If you think of it, say a prayer for me! We've been faithfully praying and pursuing 200 students this year. I can't even tell you how huge that would be for me. Thank you!

All pictures are taken by me or by a member of the studio. Professional action shots are courtesy of Ticket to Broadway Action Photography and we own the rights. All editing and graphic work is owned by Kate Undercoffer and Studio K.

Do you use Facebook to market your business? What works for you?