Feeling Like a Phony

Our new Sunday routine for the fall has me driving separately to church and leaving after the service while the kids go to Children in Worship (our church’s version of Sunday School) and Cortney stays back to count (he’s a deacon) or go visit his grandma and then picking the kids up.

I don’t leave to go take a nap–although today I was very tempted to do just that–I run any errands and then take my Chromebook and any school work or writing deadlines I have and head to our Barnes & Noble cafe section and work for a couple hours.

I’ve been delighted to notice that there is a whole crew of regulars here including the most adorable elderly couple who seems to be arriving after church for some coffee and chit chat. Even the barista must have this as her regular schedule. Today she said, “Oh welcome back. are you going to be one of our new regulars?” I smiled and said, “Probably. I’m more productive here than in a house full of kids.”

As she was ringing up my order I complimented her on the tattoo of a beautiful ship on her arm. She asked why I had “Write.” on my arm. “Are you a writer?” I fumbled. This isn’t the first time I have been asked this since getting that ink on my arm.

“Um, well, I write a lot, and um…I’m actually an 8th grade English teacher. But I’ve been blogging for ten years…and, well…I have been published a couple places and I guess that makes me a writer.”

I winced in my head. I have the word permanently on my arm and I seem so unsure of it when asked.

“What are you writing right now?” She asked me with clear curiosity.

“Um, well, I’ve been working on my statement for my PhD application and I have a chapter in a book I am writing…a book about teaching. I’m writing about teaching a certain book with a grief focus. I’m not sure it will be included, but I want to use it because I need a ten-page writing sample for my application too. So nothing, like, for publication, but yeah.”

OH MY GOSH. I internally rolled my eyes at myself. What is wrong with me?

“That is really awesome! A PhD! Then everyone can call you Doctor! So cool! Good luck!”

I shrunk into myself and hid myself in a corner table. I immediately decided to grade essays because I had NO idea to revise my statement, and I don’t actually know where to start with the book chapter, and WHO DO I THINK I AM?

A total phony, that’s who.

I am in one of those funks where I have this paranoid feeling that I have people snowed; that they think I can write these wonderful things, but in fact I am a terrible writer. I sent a draft to a friend recently and I am surprised–no, SHOCKED–she still thinks I have it in me not just to do this writing thing, but to get a higher degree in English education and teach other people to do this stuff.

I have doubts, is what I’m saying.

Today I do not feel like I can do it.

Today I feel like an impostor.

Today I feel like I have nothing together.

So I’m going to pack it up for today, but I will try again next week. Because I made this commitment and even if I totally blow it, I have to try.

Work It

Yesterday, I re-read my About Page with the idea that I would add a few things, but I was caught on the happy little love story I outlined.

I stared at the pictures of me and Cort for a long time, forgetting what it was I was going to add.

You guys seem like the best couple ever.  So fun and so happy.

This is life.  Crap happens.  Our response has always been to cling to each other and laugh as much as we can reminding each other that we will get through it by God’s Grace.

But what if you stop clinging to each other?

What if nothing is going wrong and life is just life and things get mundane and the small things get annoying?

What happens when you just did dishes and the sink is already piled high again? Is it worth “clinging” about?

What if nothing is tragic, so you aren’t holding on tightly?  Or much at all?

What happens then?

What is happening to us?  Something isn’t right. It’s not…clicking or something.

Marriage is work, yo.

I give the side eye to anyone who says they have been married for a billion years and never felt like their marriage was work.

Love is not work.  Not to me.  At least not that I have experienced yet.  I love easily and freely and with all my heart. I have never ever doubted my love for my husband or my sons.

Now “liking”, that is different, but love? That is natural.

Marriage, on the other hand is WORK.  Work that has to be done by BOTH parties or it’s not going to work. I mean, marriage is TWO people, not just one.  It’s a team effort.

In our first couple years of marriage, we experienced Cort’s dad dying, two miscarriages, unemployment, and mental illnesses along with other family deaths.

We hung on to each other fiercely.

We weren’t working on our marriage, we were working on our hearts.  On our hope.  On our positivity in this world.

When you are holding that tightly to someone and you are joined together through grief and mourning and struggle, the marriage just is.  At least it was for us.

If someone was struggling, the other became the rock.  We were a team.  We kept the team going.

Then our team expanded.

Children change things.

Cort and I are both pretty independent people; we both lived alone after school and before getting married.  When it was just the two of us, we were home a lot together, but we could do our own thing.  If I wanted to clean the house and then read a book, I didn’t need to clear anything with his plans to run to Lowes’ and reorganize the downstairs desk area.  We went about our day, went out to dinner, and usually had a conversation that started with, “So, how was your Saturday?  Did you get to do everything you wanted?”

That is not the case anymore.

“Free and easy” isn’t a thing with two kids under four.

If we both have errands and expectations of the day, there are still two kids who need someone with them.  We can’t both just pack up and leave without considering the kids and their schedules.

We have always prided ourselves on our communication.

Except that lately ours sucks.

Life is not tragic right now.  We are not holding each other each night reassuring the other that it will be ok.

Instead, we are falling into bed after hardly talking because the nightly routine of kids’ bedtimes and getting other stuff done has taken away “our” time.

We roll over mumbling a “‘night. Love you.” to each other.

Something isn’t right.

We have gotten frustrated with each other quickly.  We have both been guilty of being mad that the other is not a mind reader.

This past week Cort came to my therapy session with me.

We talked a lot about where the breakdown seems to be happening and when we feel most loved by the other.

That night at home, after the boys were in bed, we sat and chatted about the session and about the work that we needed to do.

Wednesday I came home to roses on my bedside table.

Not because he was sorry–there was nothing to be sorry about–but because he had thought about doing it the week before and had not done it.  Instead of just having the good intention, he did the nice thing.

Coincidentally, I had ordered him a print with a song lyric on it that I had custom made for him just because I knew he would think it was awesome.  It arrived on Wednesday.

Wednesday, while dinner was cooking, we held each other and laughed.

We held on as tightly as possible, so much so that Charlie crawled up and hung on too.

We are not a perfect couple by a long shot.  We have to work hard at this reality that is still new to us–being parents.

We need to learn to put our marriage a bit higher on the priority list.  Maybe even above the dishes.

We have a date next Saturday.  Our first since Charlie was born.

Marriage is work.  And we are going to work it.


the green-eyed monster

If my hair would just style as well as hers I would be so much happier.

If I could lose 30 pounds, I could wear cute clothes like she does and I would be so much happier.

If I could get a paid writing gig, I would be so joyful, just like her.

If we could go on a REAL vacation, we  would be happier.

If we had more money to spend I could do that and that and that to our house and be happy like she is.

If we had a bigger house I would totally be happier.

If I would make a Top Whatever list or Follow this mom on blah blah list I would be so much happier.

If I had a workspace that was cheerful and comfy I would be much happier.

If more people read/commented/shared my blog I would be happier.

If Cortney and I went out every Saturday night like that couple, we would be happier.

If we had more friends we would be happier.

If I had clearer skin, cuter clothes, less weight, longer hair, better shoes, more money, more crafting time, more stay at home time, more work time, better writing skills, more contacts…like her and her and her and her…I would be happier.

Oh the toxic thoughts that spin around in my brain.


I spent a good hour this morning just thinking and meditating and letting myself be quiet and I realized that so much of my sadness stems from envy.

Last Friday, I was picking Eddie up from my parents’ house and on their counter they had two cut-outs of their hands with a paper heart glued to the palms.  On each heart was writing.

At first I thought it was something for Valentine’s Day.  But when I got closer I saw one said, “Road Rage” and the other said, “Envy”.

My mom explained they were from something they were doing at church.  I chuckled because I knew my dad’s was the road rage one…and not just from the slanty, messy left-handed penmanship.  My own road rage is very much inherited from his.

But my mom’s…the one that said “envy”…surprised me.

I don’t ever think of my mom as wishing she had what someone else had.   But then again, I know growing up, she wished our family was maybe more “perfect” like other families at their church.  I know she wished that we had all maybe followed the “Go to College, Get a Job, Get Married, Have Babies, Go to Church Every Week” model that their friends’ kids did.

But we didn’t all follow that route.  Some of us took a LONG time to find a job after college graduation. Some had kids before marriage.  Some dropped out of the first college to return home and go somewhere else.

Life is messy, ya know?

I know she loves all of us anyway..maybe even more so because we all turned out great despite not following that model.  But you know…there’s always that…”maybe if…” thought.

So anyway, since then I have been thinking a lot about envy.

I realized that a lot of my sadness and stress comes from me coveting what other people have.

I mean, I know that I am blessed.  I am beyond blessed.

But there is always that nagging thought when I see someone get sponsored by a sweet company or another blogger get a writing gig I think I would be awesome at or I look at how beautiful my friends are and wish I looked like that too.

Or I see new parents that seem so damn happy all the time…no stress…no anxiety about who they are now that they are parents.  No going to an “ugly place” like I did/do.

I watch people embrace snow and play with their children and think maybe I am not trying hard enough.  Why do I hate snow?  Why do I suck at “playing” with Eddie.  I mean, is it that hard to pick up a dinosaur and make it have a conversation with his Pooh Bear?

I get crabby that I can’t live on Starbucks and wine and burritos and oreos and still weigh only 150 pounds and have clear skin.  I mean, isn’t that what all these beautiful people in my newsfeeds and reader do?  It seems like it.

Why can’t I love to run?  I want to run 5Ks and blog about my new healthy life.  Why can’t I love eating celery?

As happy as I am with my life {which I truly am} these thoughts still invade my brain in my most tired, vulnerable moments.

I am lucky beyond words, so why does envy still creep in?

Why can’t I appreciate beauty and talent and fortune of others and not have that twinge that I wish I had it too.

Because I do. I have my own beauty. My own talent. My own fortune.

I have just to look up from my computer and see it in the smiling eyes of the three guys that live in this house with me.

So why does my brain tell me that is not good enough?

Even though my heart knows it’s more than enough?

2013-02-19 14.07.25

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lady in red

In May my friend Emily (whom you may have met here yesterday as my newest Sluiter Nation Recruit), told me about this new blog she was involved with, Curvy Girl Guide, and how they had gotten these awesome swimsuits from Land’s End.  She then went on to tell me that she was going with a group of those bloggers to the Big Apple to prance around on TV in just their bathing suits to promote Swimsuit Confidence with Land’s End.

I thought it was a way cool idea. For them.  Not me.  I hate wearing a swimsuit.  Loathe, in fact.  I used to be a six 6.  Now add a one in front of that while I cry in a corner.  Despise bathing suits.

But then I read this post.

And I realized it COULD be me.

I could have that confidence too.

I could actually like a bathing suit and the body in it.

I was still on the fence about getting a Land’s End suit and seeing for myself when I went off to Gleek Retreat (a blogging conference) and met Heather and Brittany and Holly and Meredith who are all part of the Curvy Girl Guide.

And for the first time in forever, I didn’t feel out of place.  I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me on my pants size.  I didn’t feel like anyone was self-conscious of what they looked like and because of that, no one was scrutinizing each other.

We talked of blogging.  Of nerdy stuff.  Of booze.  Of husbands.

And we laughed.  Oh did we laugh.

After then Emily and my new friends flew to New York.  When they got back, I teared up reading this post about their experience showing NYC their swimsuit confidence.

I ordered a Land’s End swimsuit.  They sold me on it.

Fast-forward to this past weekend.  Yes, the camping weekend.

As we canoed down the Muskeegon River, Cort and I passed a man sitting in a lawn chair in his yard.  He must have been enjoying the glorious weather and watching all the drunks canoers and tubers go by.

All of a sudden he shouts to me, “Hey!  The Lady in Red!  NICE!  You know they wrote a song about you baby!  WHEW!”

I blushed!  I BLUSHED!  No one has cat-called me in years…for sure not since I’ve been married!

Of course Cort yelled back to the guy, “Hey buddy!  Watch it!  This lady is spoken for!” which was ever so cute, I must add.  Cort doesn’t get all territorial like that often.  So I blushed again.

And then I realized something…even if I am not happy with my weight right now?  I look pretty.

I do.

And suddenly?  That guy who was really being a pig, but I took as a compliment…he smacked me in the face with swimsuit confidence.

I tweeted this and Curvy Girls immediately issued a challenge.  They want to see me in this swimsuit.

So here I am….

why yes, my house IS a mess. What of it? I am queen of the Nation!

The Lady in Red…ruling her Nation.  Mess and all.

How about you?  Do you wage a war with swimsuit season or have you found peace?

a room of her own

I hunch over my laptop at our high top kitchen table.

My feet fall asleep being there is not good place to put them.

This table is not meant for long term sitting.  The chairs are tall with very straight backs.  If I lean back, my butt falls asleep.  If I hunch forward my feet fall asleep and my back and neck ache.

Our kitchen/dining room is all open with our small living area.

The house is not large.

I have hammered out 715 blog posts–most at this table.

I get easily distracted by the TV, Cort, Eddie, life.

I have no set time that is just mine to work comfortably.  If I take my laptop to my chair, it doesn’t seem like work and I get lost in reading blogs and surfing the web getting ready to “pin” things.

Before I know it, the battery is shouting at me to plug in and I’ve gotten nothing accomplished.

I dream of a room of my own.

An upstairs room that is just mine.

With a desk under a window overlooking a yard and some trees.  Not starting at the road and silly neighborhood kids making fools of themselves in the cul-de-sac.

With pretty curtains and bright walls.

With a comfy desk chair.

With a place for all of my books and my blogging calendars and to do lists.

With soft carpet.

With an over-stuffed chair and a minky blanket in the corner next to a reading lamp.

With a sirius radio dock and speakers.

With a lock on the door.

With a set time that I am in there.

I don’t want to see laptops on the kitchen table anymore.

I don’t want us me to be distracted by emails, twitter, blogs, facebook just because it’s there.

I don’t want technology in the family area anymore.

But I don’t want to be pushed to a corner in the cement laundry room in the basement.  It’s not creative there.  It’s prison.

It’s the kitchen table or the basement.

No room of my own.

But it’s what I want.  More than almost anything.

No room of my own.

Not in this house.

No room of my own.


The prompt this week was to write about what you want most.

This is not what I want most.  But I chickened out and wrote what I want almost the most.

Secret Mommyhood Confessions Saturday

My kid is a window-licker.

I know babies put everything in their mouth because it is a way of exploring.  They see, they smell, they touch, they hear, and of course, they taste.

I also know that baby drool, like dog drool, helps babies recognize things.

I also am aware the baby drool has certain germ-killing things in it (it really does!  I learned this from Eddie’s ped AND babycenter, so you know it’s GOT to be true!)

But as Eddie grew, so did his pension for relentlessly sucking on every last thing in our house.

Oh, he still puts things in his mouth from time to time, but it’s more to bite at stuff than to explore.  He doesn’t suck on lamby anymore (thank GOODNESS), but he will still put the head of superman in his mouth and bite at the pointy hair.  You know, toddler stuff.

However recently Cort and I have started noticed some, uh, licking.

Cort watched as Eddie pressed his face on our sliding door.  They giggled as Eddie’s face smooshed.  And then?  The lounge came out.  As Eddie slid his face, his tongue slid along on the glass.  Ew.

About a week ago Eddie and I were home together in the evening.  He walked up to a shelf we have with a lamp on it and started licking the shelving unit and then biting at the screws.  As he licked he watched me…smiling.

My child seriously watched me as he ran his tongue over the enter shelving thing.  Like he expected me to be all sorts of proud of him.

Um, what?

Yesterday our daycare provider, Miss Amy had a question for Cort during pick-up.  Did he know that Eddie licks windows?


Yes.  We know.

Does your toddler do this?  Is it normal?  And maybe the most important question…WHY is he doing this?

Don’t forget to enter my birthday giveaways!  You have less than 24 hours to get in on the goodness!


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Secret Mommyhood Confession

I love my birthday.

I know some women like their birthday, but they are not really all that excited about turning another year older.

I am seriously like a child about my birthday.

As soon as the calendar says March, I start thinking about that day at the end of the month that is MINE!


Yes, I turn 33 on my birthday, and no I am not ashamed to say that.  Some people don’t like to admit their age, but I have no problem telling it to you, my students, or a random person on the street.

So what?  I am 33…or almost 33.

No, I don’t LIKE that I am getting older, but as my dad says, “it’s better than the alternative.”

So true, dad.  So true.

And that is why my birthday is so awesome.

Not only is it my very own special day when I entered this world, but it means I am still here.  I made it another year.

I have made it through another year of crap and celebration.  Of mountains and valleys.  Of anxiety and joys.

I know I spend a LOT of time hating on myself and seeing my downfalls…but for some reason?  Every year, my birthday is the day I have no problem celebrating me.  Of finding the happy in who I am.

I think it’s because for people to celebrate you on your birthday is natural.  It’s easy to take people for granted throughout the year, but birthdays are days we think about the special people in our lives.

And that works for me as well.  I mean, it works for me to think about ME that way too.

It’s funny because birthdays were really overemphasized in my family.  Yes, my mom and dad made a point of making us the “special kid” on that day because it was our day, but we never had extravagant parties or got out of chores or were allowed to stay home from school or any of that.

We were celebrated simply.

But somehow, out of that simple love, grew a HUGE love of my birthday.

In high school and college I used to remind everyone in my life of how many days there were until my birthday starting at LEAST a month ahead of time.

I don’t go to those extremes anymore, but I do love the people who take the time to really remember that I love my birthday.

Cort is really great at that.  He is not that overly attached to his birthday, but he knows it’s a big deal for me and always works extra special hard to make me feel special. As do my parents and some super awesome friends.

(by the way?  I LOVE that facebook advertises your birthday…getting a trillion birthday wishes from people who probably don’t even talk to you the rest of the year?  I’ll take it!)

So.  I love my birthday.  March 27, 1978…the day I arrived here from my momma’s tummy.

This whole week coming up is full of birthday wonder and excitement (yes, I even have some pretty awesome giveaways for YOU!!).

As if this whole blog thing isn’t about me enough already?  It’s about to get a whole LOT more all about me!

So get ready!

Thus begins…The Week of Kate!!!  ::insert me doing my tappity tappity birthday dance…or perhaps shaking what my momma gave me::

Get ready to party, people. And yes, this is me with blond hair again.

Do you love your birthday?  Are you a fellow March birthday?  Tell me some birthday stuff about YOU!

Secret Mommy-hood Confession Saturday

My child is determined to make me look like an idiot.

It all started when he was quite wee.

He would cry and scream and carry on in his colicky way.  I would cry and scream and pull my hair out.

And then we would go out in public or to one of our friend’s houses or to see our family.

And the boy would sleep or coo the entire time.  People would pass his little burrito-ed self around and sniff his head and tickle his toes and he would be the most content thing you ever met.

Everyone would say, “I don’t know what you are talking about!  He is always so GOOD!”

I was sure this was coincidence.  I mean, and infant cannot have a diabolical scheme against his parents, right?

The boy grew and changed. This is when the tantrums and the meltdowns started.   We would say, “no no, Eddie” and he would fling himself to the floor or hit the chair or the cat or us and scream.  Oh did he scream.

We go out?  And he is all smiles and dancing and wonderful.  He is a different child.

This is when I started giving him the side-eye.  I was pretty sure he had an agenda to make the world believe this his parents?  Were lying imbeciles who just liked to complain about how hard parenting is.

This week, he convinced me of his plotting.

Let me preface this by saying last week he hurt his ankle (or foot…hard to tell with a 20 month old) by falling over a friend (yes, he is as graceful as his mother).  It bothered him for less than 24 hours.  The weekend was totally fine.

Tuesday night?  Things got NOT FINE very fast.

All night long Eddie was up clutching his foot (or ankle, who knows).  Every 30-45 minutes he would SCREAM out from his bed, and we would find him holding his foot or waving it in the air at us.

This was a long night.

Somewhere around 4am, I asked Cort if he wanted me to take Eddie to the doctor that day.  I knew he couldn’t take our little man; Wednesday was his first day of his new job.  They tend to frown on people taking off their first day.

We agreed that I should stay home.  This was obviously painful to him and his little foot was warm and a bit swollen.

So I groggily put in for a sub and typed up some last minute lesson plans.

Fast-forward to our appointment later that morning.

Not only does Eddie totally walk into the appointment all cheery (like he really got more sleep than I did?  no.), but he dances…DANCES…around the exam room with the toys.

At this point I feel like his doctor is going to shoo us away with a nice pat on the head for the crazy worried mommy, but no.  She thinks that to be safe, he should have an X-ray done.

So I get Eddie’s socks and shoes back on, we check out at the pediatrician’s office, and head downstairs to take the corridor to the hospital to get the X-rays.

And yes, Eddie runs through the corridor like a crazy person because there is so much space.

I struggle to keep him somewhat not annoying to others in the lobby, then fight with him to stay on my lap in the little check-in room, and then finally let him play with the toys while we wait for the X-ray tech to call us back.

When the tech finally comes for us, Eddie is clearly done with this trip.  He does NOT want to leave the toys.

Enter: meltdown.

I calmly hold his hand and drag guide him to where we need to go.

And of course, the X-ray tech says, “hey, I thought he couldn’t walk on it.”

Yeah, thanks.  That was when he originally hurt it.  Now?  Apparently he is ready for Cabaret.

So they do the X-rays, we get back home, have our lunch and both take naps.

My nap is interrupted by a phone call from the pediatrician’s office.

“X-rays came back normal.  No fractures.”

Just like I figured.  He probably pulled something that was throbbing a bit in the night.  But he is fine now.

And while this conversation is going on?  My students are treating my sub like crap, my monitor at work dies, and my son?

He is sleeping and dreaming of his next plot to make me look like a lying crazy lady.

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