Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mixed Emotions

Last year our school told us they may be going to Full Day Kindergarten this year, but they weren't positive. I watched the school website all summer, and it continued to say Half Day.  Then today, I took in Macie's shot records, because her registration wasn't showing up on line.  And the office staff informed me that it will be FULL DAY! She starts on Monday.

Instantly I started to cry.  The office staff was so excited to give me the "good news". But I was filled with mixed emotions, my body got confused and just began to cry.

(Funny side note: when Macie has to go to the bathroom while we are driving we ask "can you hold it? or do you need to go right now?" She has started to answer "I can hold. I just make the water come out my eyes instead." Then her face gets pink from trying to hold it, and her eyes start to water. "See, I can wait".  That's when we know to pull over ASAP.)

So back to me crying in the school office.  The office staff are practically high fiving me and lifting me up on their shoulders to parade around the playground.

"They learn sooooo much more in full day!"
"She will love it!"
"You are free!"
"You will have 6 hours all to yourself!"
"You are the greatest mom on the entire planet!" (Some of this may be a slight exaggeration, like I said, I was in tears and things became a blur.)

My mind was racing. I loved when my older kids did full day Kindergarten.  When we moved to Las Vegas and I saw how far ahead my kids were at school I knew it was in part due to full day Kindergarten. (In Blake's first grade class they spent the entire year working on the sight words he passed off in Kindergarten.)

I also began thinking about how much Macie HATES going to the store or on errands. How frustrating it was to have to get errands, grocery shopping, and the gym all squeezed in during the two hours that she was at preschool or risk the wrath of Macie.  I felt sad last year that Macie didn't have many friends, and ended up with very few play dates after school. And was often tired of it just being her and me.

Suddenly I wanted to cheer and ride around on the shoulders of the teachers and principal cheering "I AM FREE! I AM FREE!" I was beaming with delight thinking about going to the gym without complaint. Running into the grocery store without a fight. Taking a nap in the afternoon!  Having her be prepared for first grade, like my others. But right when my hand went up for the first fist pump, I felt everything else crash down.

I would be alone.
I felt overwhelmed with regret.  Why didn't we do more art projects when it was just the two of us? Why did I drag her to the store? Did I spend enough time on the trampoline? Did we go on enough walks? I thought I had one more year! I thought I could make up for everything we didn't do this past year.

It's no secret that Macie has a strong personality. She can get upset easily.  And it can be very overwhelming for me.  I am not gonna lie, there have been times I have wished she would be in all day school, just because I couldn't handle one more fight or break down.

But now I wish I could have one more year. Maybe I could get things right.  Maybe I would be more present and take advantage of those last days together.  Two years ago, when Blake started school, I experienced the same type of loss. He has a late July birthday, and everything I read argued that it is better for a boy with a summer birthday to be held back. They would be bigger for sports, more mature and able to learn, the oldest, more confident and the leader instead of the follower. But just a couple weeks before Kindergarten began I felt strongly that I should enroll him, and not hold him back the year. I prayed and prayed, not knowing what to do.  But I was filled with peace and a clear understanding that Blake was ready for Kindergarten and may struggle more with boredom if I hold him back.  I cried then, feeling that I had lost a year with my son. I thought he would go to preschool with his friends, but instead he got on the bus with Riley.  Since then, I have seen how it was the right decision.  School came easy for him, and he had a fabulous Kindergarten teacher that stretched him and challenged him. And he loved it!

So I am no stranger to Kindergarten regret.  I know that this is the moment that all stay at home moms dream of.  All of your kids at school.  A quiet house that you might be able to clean, the chance to take a shower without interruption, the ease of grocery shopping, the chance to go back to work, the chance to volunteer more at school. It seems like there are so many things to be excited for. But right now, I am just feeling the loss.  Loss of time with my youngest.  Loss of a shopping partner (however unhappy she was) even the loss of my little friend and tag-a-long. At least in Washington, I would have still gone to Taco Time Tuesday and been able to spend some kid free time with friends taking walks around the pond, or at Ashlee's lake. But it is a whole different story here in Vegas.

If you see me on Monday, giving the Principal a hug, dancing around the playground, making "neener neener" faces at all of the moms with toddlers, and chanting "I AM FREE!" all the way to Starbucks, you can know that on the inside I am crying and planning on drowning my mixed emotions in a venti green tea lemonade.

Seriously going to miss that face!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Someday, When I am Liz Lemon...

Ever since I was child I have played a game every time I watch a movie or TV show.  It's "which character am I?"  I can remember playing this game watching Sleeping Beauty with my little sister when we were probably 5 and 6.  It would go something like this: Every time a new character is introduced you get to pick if that is the character you want to play.  Obviously, being the older child, I immediately chose to be Aurora.  I imagined I was a beautiful princess growing up in the woods while the townspeople were drunk/asleep back at the Kingdom. (All time favorite Disney scene is when the King's servants are drunk singing "shromps" as they clinked their cups together and passed out under the table. What the...?!) I was content being Aurora and singing with a strange prince in the woods, until the scene with the 3 Fairies trying to bake the cake.  It was imperative to claim which Fairy you wanted to be before the other sister could claim one.  I was quick to shout "I'm the PINK Fairy!" (Let's review the movie real quick.  They are 3 frumpy OLD ladies. Why would I want to be any of them?) It was important to pick the Pink Fairy, because she was obviously the prettiest. You know, cuz Pink is synonymous with Pretty. Every time this happened my little sister would cry and I would comfort her by saying "You can be the Blue Fairy".  This was decades before Elsa came along and made blue a pretty princess color.  In my little sister's ears I was telling her she was the little fat, ugly (because you know, Blue was synonymous with Ugly) Fairy.  She is still hurt to this day.  Maybe one day, for her birthday or something, I will let her be the Pink Fairy.... nah.

This tradition, of picking the character, continued and evolved over the years.  In my late teens I watched "Friends" and thought "I would be Rachel, of course".  At this point, the game wasn't just picking the prettiest character in a show and pretend to be her. I began dreaming that I was actually cast for the part.  Like, I go into an audition and they say "Look at you! You are adorable, and likable, and soooo  cute! We have this part 'Rachel' that we think you would be perfect for!" This stemmed from a lifetime of wishing I was an actress. And not just an actress, I wanted to be the beautiful lead heroine.

In High School (I hate it when people reference who they were in HS, it implies that you haven't had any experiences since then. But in this case, I haven't.) I took theater.  My Senior year we did a modern version of the Shakespeare play "Two Men of Verona".  At the auditions I desperately wanted the role of Julia, the leading lady.  She was lovely, and the audience would adore her of course.  But I got cast as some small, seemingly random, role. Which I think was suppose to be someone's father in the original play, but the Director changed it to a mom, and a friend and I played the roles of the mothers together. I was infuriated! The Director was basically saying "Don't worry Kate, you aren't Julia, but you can still be the Ugly Blue Fairy!" I hated him.  After we had struggled through weeks of rehearsals he pulled me and the other "mother" aside and tried to explain to us the parts we would be playing.  He described the ladies as being a total hoot. Crazy old ladies.  He then sent us with homework to watch an old British TV show called "Absolutely Fabulous" or "Ab Fab" about two crazy ladies who are always drunk and hysterically funny.  He tried to explain to me how these characters are brilliantly funny.  They will have the audience cracking up. "You will steal the show!" he claimed.  Long story short... we were lazy seniors.  We all somehow ticked off the Director to the point that he cancelled the show, and I was never a drunk, crazy Blue Fairy in Two Gentlemen of Verona.  And I hated him again.  Why would I ever want to be the Ugly Blue Fairy? People might think I was actually ugly!  Or that I was weird and not the pretty damsel in distress. At that point, I realized I probably don't actually have the "look" of the pretty damsel in distress, and I didn't want to be cast as an Ab Fab again, so I was done with theater.  (While I have still secretly dreamt of winning an Oscar to this day... even though I am not an actor.)

Back to the game of picking the character.  I would watch SNL and laugh my head off, but I would always think "don't cast me as Mary Catherine Gallagher! Someone might think I am actually a weirdo freak".  I still watched every movie and every show, dreaming of being the beautiful lead character. It wasn't until years later that I saw a supporting actor steal the show.

It was Les Mis, and the Master of the House was dancing around the stage being creepy, and really funny.  At the end of the show when the cast came out for the curtain call, guess who got the first standing ovation of the night? The Maser of the House. Sure, we all adored Jean Valjean. He was the hero.  But we loved the Master of the House.  He made us laugh, and somehow stole the show.  I suddenly heard what my theater teacher was trying to say.  You don't need to be a beautiful lead to steal the show.  Basically, I think he was saying "Katie, you are no Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz.  Forget being the beautiful hero.  Embrace your Funny.  And just be Phoebe." (If he was saying this now he would say "Don't try to be Anna Kendrick.  Just enjoy being Rebel Wilson!")

I began looking at shows differently.  I began imagining I was the quirky side kick. I would often sit next to JT and whine about how I missed my calling in life.  I should have been "Dr Elliot Reed" on Scrubs. "I would laugh so hard working with that cast!" Could I have played the awkward, depressed, monotoned Phyllis on "The Office"?  Maybe I should have had tiny hands and been Doonise on SNL. Or what about Arrested Development?! "They cast Portia de Rossi as Lindsey Bluth? Come on.  I would have killed that! And laughed myself to sleep at night after filming each episode." I love watching these shows and picturing myself laughing on set with everyone as we film the most hilarious sitcoms of all time.

Slowly, I have let go of the desire to be the leading lady. (You are thinking, oh good, because I hate to break it to you, ... but that ship has sailed!!) And recently things began to shift again.  I was binge watching 30 Rock on Netflix.  Fighting off the desire to be the beautiful, narcissistic Jenna Maroney (who coincidentally is pretty and funny!) and loving quirky Liz Lemon.  Suddenly I didn't care if anyone thought I was weird, quirky, or say things like "Blurg!" (One great thing about playing "which character are you" as an adult, is that I never have to fight over a character!  Mostly because JT doesn't know I am playing that game, and my sister isn't there to cry.) Again, I found myself dreaming of spending the day on set with Alec Baldwin and Jack McBrayer.  We would crack each other up! (At some point my therapist and I should explore the fact that I actually think I am as funny as Jack McBrayer or Alec Baldwin.) And as I tried to imagine which character I should play, (because, you know, they might call me any day to cast me for a show that is off the air...hey, I can't help my day dreaming!) something hit me.

I don't actually think I should be stealing the show (because, remember, I am not actually an actor).  Maybe I should be writing the show! I should be sitting with Frank and Lutz cracking ourselves up as we write together. Forget day dreaming about getting "Best Actress". In this case, I can get the award for "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series" from the Writer's Guild Awards.  (And I can still dress up all fancy, and walk down the red carpet, and take home a shiny statue to go next to Riley's soccer trophies on the fireplace mantle.) I have an all new day dream!

Screw "Best Actress" and playing the role of the Pink Fairy (who would have actually just been a supporting role anyway). I am taking home the Award for "Best Writer!"

Never mind the fact that I have never taken a writing class, or written a script, or even a rough draft... of anything.
First things first, I think I will start by writing my Acceptance Speech.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


(DISCLAIMER: this post was actually written a few years ago and I guess I forgot to hit "Post". It's just been sitting as an unfinished draft.  I stumbled upon it and had to share it!)

I have spent the last few years working on my ability to forgive more easily.  Sometimes it is a pretty easy thing to forgive someone.  (Particularly if they say "sorry"-  JT can tell you I am a big fan of that word and I get frustrated when people don't use it.)  But sometimes it is really hard for me to forgive someone - especially those who don't say sorry, or worse: they don't even feel sorry for hurting me.

Right now, I have one particular relationship that I am struggling with.  I feel like I am at a crossroads.  This is one of those relationships where I feel like I am constantly on the forgiving end of it.  I know that Christ taught that we should forgive 7 x 70 if we need to- and I feel dangerously close to that number.  (Ok, we all know I don't remember how to multiply double digits and so I don't even have a clue how much 7 x 70 actually is-  but it sounds like a lot, and if I could find my phone I could use the calculator, but my phone is lost again so for now I will just have to imagine a really big number)  So when is it OK to say I have had enough?

In some circumstances I would advise a friend to just forgive the other party and then distance themselves from that person.  And in many cases that might work-  but not in mine.  There is no avoiding this relationship.  I can't simply walk away.  Trust me, if you have read my blog the past few years, you know I have tried moving away and all of my attempts have been thwarted!  So am I doomed to just have to face this over and over?  Do I need to keep putting myself out there-  just to be disappointed?  Do I forgive and try to forget- when I know it will happen again immediately? Or do I hold a grudge?  Can I just accept that this is our relationship and get used to it?  No.  It hurts too deeply to be able to accept it for what it is.

I hate feeling like the victim.  I hear others saying things like: you knew what you were getting into when you signed up for this relationship.  Or others say that they are happy with the way things are- and some how that means it should be fine for me as well.  So I wonder if it is my fault?  Maybe I am to blame.

And sometimes I find myself defending the times that are good.  Because when things are good with us- they are really really good.  But when things are bad- it is unbearable. That is the danger in a relationship like this.  Where the other party can be charismatic and charming and delightful.  So delightful that I can forget our past issues and begin the healing process.  But it always comes back to bite me.  It never lasts.

And that is when I ask myself how I keep finding myself in the same situation over and over.  Back in the place where I need to forgive. 

I wanted your advice on this situation. You know, telling me how you are able to forgive those who hurt you - over and over.  Or you could tell me how you are able to cope with things like this.  But after talking to some of you - I feel like I may be the only one.  It is so isolating.

 I wasn't planning on telling you who has been tormenting me all these years, because that would be gossiping... unless you guess it, right?

That's right! That is the rule! If you guess who I am talking about it isn't considered gossip at all!


Uh oh, was I that transparent?  It was that obvious?   So what do I do?  You are right, I just have to address the situation as best I can and go on from there.

Here goes:

Washington.  You are killing me.  I want to love you, I really do.  I was born here- in your green hills and mossy damp woods.  (Ok, I was born in a Hospital, but around here you are never more than 5 feet from some kind of moss or slug)  I appreciate your green grass and the money you save me on watering it in August.   And I am thankful for your mild winters that don't require snow tires or an ice scrapper.  (That is probably because I park in the garage and don't leave my house before 9 am. after the frost and ice have melted.)  And I especially love the fact that this is the home to my family and friends.

But seriously,  your sky sucks.  (Was that too harsh? I can't think of a kinder way to say it)  I can't handle the gray sky year  round.  The only thing that got me through the winter and spring was the hope of blue sky in July.  But you let me down, again.  And here I am in August- the undeniable month of summer (in the northern hemisphere, at least)- and I am under a gray cloud cover wearing shoes (not flip flops like is customary for this season) and trying to forgive you.

The problem is- sometimes you really deliver...

Days of splashing and laughing in the pool.   Hours of sunlit fun on a camping trip.  And even moments of swinging in our own backyard.

But it is Summer.  It shouldn't be moments, hours, or even a few days.  It should be weeks.  Preferably even two months of Summer! 

Is it too much to ask for a small commitment like that?  To just honor the seasons as they come?  To give us an actual break from the gloom?

The anxiety is too great.  When you do grant us some legitimate sunshine I am forced to abandon all structure and plans.  After all, we never know when it will come again.  I leave the laundry half folded, the dishes dirty in the sink, and the vacuum still running while I hurry the kids out doors.  Because, if you are from Washington you know, there is nothing worse than thinking that the sunshine will last while you finish brushing your teeth only to discover that by the time you spit it has all vanished behind the curtain of gloom.

And when I do find myself basking in the sun and eating right off of the BBQ (we do BBQ year round, it just requires that JT wear a rain coat for most of the time) I find it in my heart to forgive you. I find myself agreeing with the Washingtonians who sing your praises.  I feel true happiness.

Why?!  Washington, Why?!  Why must I forgive you, and believe in you, and even trust you?  How long must we have this relationship?  Can't we agree on something? Can't we agree that summer is from June till August?  Ok, fine, I will compromise.  Can't we agree that summer is from July till August?  Can't I count on you to give me at least that?

This is what I mean.  A relationship where I am always forgiving, always compromising, always losing.  I can't move.  (I tried, and for the next two years we are here- no exceptions)  I can't ignore or walk away from the situation.  It is everywhere.  It is my very environment.

So I will keep improving on my ability to forgive.  I will keep praying for strength and humility.  I will keep enjoying the hours of sunshine I have with reckless abandonment.  And I will start going to a tanning bed in search of Vitamin D.

(Update, August 2015: I guess I gave up on Forgiveness and moved to Nevada!... and now, I kinda miss you, Washington.  Damn you, Washington.  You are the most confusing relationship I have ever been in!)