Thursday, November 3, 2011


Often times during the day I pop in to my girls rooms to tidy up, (or perhaps to steal a Halloween candy), or even simply to soak in the sunshine that pours into Audrey's room. It is a favorite resting space for the dogs, too, who are always at my feet.

Each time I feel myself pining for my girls who are off at school. I want to turn back time and sit on the floor with them --and read--and giggle- and play dolls. I want to sit at the foot of their beds and chat about their lives, hopes, dreams, desires, and loves. I want to paint their nails and dance about the room and belly laugh until our sides ache.

I have been told I live in a fairytale world at times. I completely agree. I love the idea of all the things an "ideal mama" is "supposed" to do and while some of the things I do really well there are many others where I fall very very short. Daily.

I have a sharp tongue and high expectations and impatient ways and there is so much I wish I could do over when it comes to how I am as a mother.

My hope is that someday when they stand in the quiet of their own children's rooms and experience the overwhelming sense of joy and pride and abiding love for them that they come to realize--- I can completely relate.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I am not sure I will survive Middle School. I cannot believe how pissed I get most evenings. I think it's because I feel so hopeless. It is a horrific emotion for me. After my upset I am then riddled with guilt as I know Liv goes to bed feeling bad about herself. It is a twisted awful dance.

There are loads of factors--a kid that is simply not uptight nor is she always at the ready to please. Trust me, THANK GOD she is not a Type A people pleaser, yet when you yourself are wired to want to always be on top of things and deliver than it is a very very tough spot to be in when your firstborn just ain't on the same page.

She knows half of the instructions most of the time so I check the Website (three different spots, review the planner, and try to jog her memory). She is a visual learner and in school there is so much talking. Or noise ---if you're Liv's brain.

But, it appears that she is:
A) Not alone. ALL of her friends parents report the same scenario. But if you know me well, dear reader, you know I am not a misery loves company type of  gal. I never have been. While I like to know people understand me and hear me I do not like to know they too are drowning.
B) Not always at fault. It is absolutely, positively not always her error. Often times the directions are half baked when I view them online or when they're verbally delivered in class. It is infuriating to say the least.

This is where I find myself wanting to scream at the top of my lungs or curl up and cry. I cannot fix it and there is not one clear cut issue to correct. I have her make phone calls to classmates, I text and call her friends parents for instruction, we email teachers, we take online tutorials, we have friends scan in work or direct us to online resources---and really, it completely blows.

NOW--it does all work out in the end but at what cost?  I will also have you know the teachers simply say to me, "She is a great kid. Totally capable, engaged student. She is doing well."  Again, THANK GOD, but we move Heaven and Earth nightly it seems to get there.

The principal told me to chill a bit (he said it kindly and I definitely felt heard) so I started to. Chilling meant fulfilling some of my Girls Night Out dates that I have not cashed in on. I also have had some client, school and neighborhood commitments to tend to in the evenings.  Fall is always a bustling time.

I knew Olivia and Eric were capable of following homework instructions and reading all my post it notes where I helped her prioritize what needed to be done and when. But, honestly, the wheels started to come off the bus because it takes a village and someone to run it. The job was getting done but not to the same extent as it was when Olivia and I were working together. This is no slight on Eric and he will be the first to tell you that he needs me with her at night to assist. In fact, he told me last night that I should cancel my Thurs. night plans. I know he is right. Which is why I am guilt ridden--for the fact that I probably should but don't want to and for the fact that Liv went to bed again knowing I was burned out because of her school life. It is no way to say goodnight.

I pray there is a better solution and light at the end of the tunnel. For now--I am sending out an SOS.

Tomorrow is a new day and Middle School is not forever. Somehow we all survived it but it remains the worst years of my life. How desperately I am fighting to have my daughter not say the same. The good news? While my experience was terrible because of mean girls and feeling so awkward and ugly--hers is not starting out that way at all. The only ugliness she is facing is her mama's attitude.
God help us. Sincerely.

Pick Me~ or not

I drafted the post below about 2 weeks ago and I was feeling insecure about posting it--until now. I spoke to a handful of close friends about my feelings (not the post per se) and I felt so much lighter afterwards.

Today when I went to draft an unrelated post I pulled this one up again and read it. At this time I can say that I really feel I have taken my own advice that I wrote at the end of the post below.

I decided to share it today, however, for the times I may slip back into these emotions and/or for any of you who might relate. I will say all the girlfriends that I shared my heart with on this subject had the same message, "I totally get it." Here goes~

I am not sure I've ever felt so fulfilled in my friendships.

I do not take that statement for granted as I think it is such a blessing to be able to experience such fulfillment in my 40's.

I treasure all of them--these friends I met in childhood, or at college, or on school playgrounds, at parks, at mom's group, at work, or upon introductions from mutual friends.

My heart is full. And yet I find myself still wanting to be "liked" by others. Not that I need to find a new bestie but I definitely want to feel as if people would want to be my friend. It seems so childish.

My eight year old does not appear to share this same desire even. She is very matter of fact when she knows someone does not want to be her close friend. "She isn't really my type either," she casually remarks and brushes it off.

Amen. To be honest I do not necessarily find the people that I want to "like" me to be my cup of tea either. It is usually quite the opposite. I find them harsh or  insecure or passive aggressive and yet, I still want them to like me. How silly.

I have wracked my brain about my desire to be accepted quite a bit since my girls started at their new school a couple of years ago. Not that my emotions are anything new but the need feels greater at times. Perhaps it is because I am so entrenched and so passionate about the place.

I was discussing this with a girlfriend (mom at the school) over lunch the other day and she said, "You have a target on your back. Like it or not you have your hands in so much and therefore, you set yourself up for judgement."


I expressed this to another friend who said, "I trust it's annoying to some people that you are so involved. I assume you make some people feel inferior and they probably wonder if you're genuine."

Alright. Well, no, OUCH. Anyone that knows me well knows how hard I work at transparency and being real. Which is why this eats me up. You don't have to have me over for dinner but you do have to know this is real. But why? And who cares? My 3rd grader has already figured out that acceptance by all is never gonna happen. So how come I feel like an emotional tween at times? Or do many of us feel this way but some of us are better at keeping such thoughts to ourselves?

Emotions aside, I do understand why some of my behavior and high energy might be eye roll inducing or that the chemistry I have with some people doesn't work and for hundreds of other reasons I understand why someone would not choose me to be their pal.

I just need to LET IT GO and turn my attention back to what does matter---my overflowing cup brimming with true friends who take me just as I am.

Lucky girl.

This shot (both the photo and the one in hand) was taken after a lovely day out with friends this past Spring 

Losing Lucy, Claiming Charlie

Nervous Lucy Girl 
We recently had to part ways with our rescue dog, Lucy. We had her for nearly 5 months. While she was a pretty, sweet miss she was deathly afraid of children--especially mine. It was plain and simply "not working".

Growling at my girls all day long as they ate breakfast, did homework, and danced about the house was incredibly stressful. For all--the girls, my husband, me, and the dog.

We learned the sad way that no matter how hard you try to love something there can be far too much damage done before they enter your world.

Adopting a dog in need and having to return it is brutal. You feel like a sell out. That is, until you do your research, speak with professionals, confess to your closest most trusted confidantes and most of all --search your soul-- and then you come to realize where your loyalties lie and revisit the goals in the first place.

In our case the goals were to provide a family dog for our children and offer a safe nesting place for a dog in need. In the case of Lucy, none of the criteria was being met. Thankfully, we adopted her from the local basset rescue woman who more than understood the struggle and strain. None of Lucy's litter mates were adoptable as they all suffered in a puppy mill for more than 4 years--crated and unsocialized. These dogs were terrified of children which was unbeknownst to us until Lucy moved in.

So, we returned the scared girl and in her place we adopted Charlotte (the girls call her Charlie). She came from the home of a man who lost his job, house, and marriage. She is a jolly, big, happy gal who loves people and simply wants to be loved.

Welcome, Charlie

Stay tuned for updates on Charlie and how she settles in to life at Wilkinson Manor. You can see she's quite the people pleaser.

Best TV watching pal in the house for Bliss
Rise and Shine, Audrey!
Go State- sporting Green and White colors for Eric!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harvest Happiness

Autumn in pictures
back to school

first day of school (3rd grader Audrey & 6th grader Olivia)
Liv had a 102 degree temp from vaccination reaction- she desperately tried to rally

day at the farm
apple pie baking in memory of my grammie~ made using her recipe

my heartbeats

halloween cards by audrey e.

my mountaineers~ heading out on an  overnight 3rd grade field trip to Mt. St. Helen's

when the dog literally eats your homework

our october wedding
14 years married~20 years together

Raising Bliss

I started this post in the middle of September and for a litany of reasons I never completed it. Take Two.

Busted foot, braces, beginning middle school and living with a body that's maturing faster than her newly turned 11 year old self can fathom.

My Olivia has a lot going on.

To say the expectations of her teachers is incredibly high is an understatement.

I believe her parents expectations are even higher. 

Liv started 6th grade this year and the transition feels as if she went from womb to college. 

The homework load coupled with just how much Olivia has comprehended (or not) during the school day has left me with my head in my hands many nights this fall. Eric is right there with me. Sadly, so is Liv at times.


The good: 

  • We are not alone. Have yet to meet a 6th grade parent at her school who feels different from us (thankfully Bliss is not totally asleep at the wheel). 
  • The principal and teachers are accessible and care (I just wish they'd turn off the fire hose).
  • Liv is learning a lot about organization (I guess this can be one of my strong suits when applied, who knew?)
  • Eric thanks me each bedtime for managing it all so well (worth the price of admission alone).

The bad:

  • I am a doer- love to cross stuff off the to-do list and move on (when you're managing your home, business, and going back to middle school some 30 years later your to-do list never ends).
  • I am vocal.  So is Eric. When we're frustrated with Liv, the system, and exhausted from day's end the kid feels it (we are working on this as we do not need her self esteem to suffer in middle school because of her uptight parents).
But Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish are probably not the toughest part of middle school for Liv thus far. Because there are girlfriends. And that can often mean drama. 

My girls are in a small school which translates to 8 girls in each grade. Slim pickings. Three remains a crowd if you were still wondering. Tween friendships can still be brutal. Hormones still rage. Thankfully the girls she hangs out with are dear but that does not mean there is not drama. Or on occasion a glimpse of a mean girl. God help us. 

Thankfully my daughter is in as much of a "bubble" as she can be in terms of a secure, safe school setting. The kids she is surrounded by, the caliber of the teachers, the enrichment and events that are brought to the school are solid.

But for me middle school is just as crappy the second time around.  I best get a move on. Tonight's homework (pictured below) awaits.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

All Things Considered, Summer 2011

I have survived summer. Quite well, too. After my last post at the end of June when everything was overwhelming me things slowly improved. Currently things could not be better.

Break a Leg
Olivia began practices at Seattle Children's Theatre the start of July for the play Jungalbook (a darker version of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book). She auditioned for this play in April and was proudly cast after call backs in May. We drove into the city each business day for a month. It was torture. The traffic, the road construction & street closures, the many events happening in the city,  the daily grind of leaving my laptop, gathering the girls, & coralling the dogs was challenging to say the least. We had all but survived the stress and then on the afternoon before Opening Night Liv jumped down from a platform in one of her roles as a vulture and broke her foot.
After the dr. visit, the specialist visit, the cast, the CT scan, and the quick lesson in crutches--she took to the stage. Her role as a wolf had to be cut as it was a very active one in which she spent a great deal of time on stage but since she could not bear any weight on her foot she was only able to play her vulture role. It was short and strong--best acting gig of the night according to her oh so biased grandmother! The girl is a trooper. She missed out on a camping trip with a friend, afternoons at the pool club, and a trip to Lake Chelan, WA. But her dear friends, babysitters, visiting grandparents and her kid sis have pushed her in wheelchairs about the mall, presented her with gifts, played games and picnicked on the lawn with her.

Olivia as the Vulture, Seattle Children's Theatre, Jungalbook 2011
Kind Cuties, Alderwood Mall ~ August 2011

Pixie Bella Beauty Bash~ Audrey turns 8
Audrey & Papa birthday morning~ ice cream for breakfast before he heads to work

Audrey Elizabeth turned 8 years old on July 13. We celebrated with all things feminine and frilly from the decor to the darling gifts she received from her sweet friends. The party guests enjoyed hair updos, makeup, parfaits, and girl time. It was a big success! Audrey also was in a little play at a local drama camp that week and she was a fabulous firefly in The Secret Garden!
Audrey as Firefly #4, The Secret Garden, Missoula Children's Theatre performance at Driftwood Players, July 2011

Sunshine & Sweets
In between acting stints Audrey opened her lemonade stand (created by Eric) which she named, "Sunshine & Sweets" with the motto "May every bite be blissful". Too bad it has only been open for one weekend! We can blame that on the combination of weather (grey, rainy summer) and a child's fleeting desires! 
Proprietress Audrey, July 2011

Summer Lovin'
My wonderful folks came out again to assist with the beauties and beasts of The Manor and to spend some family time. 

Dinner on the Water, Edmonds~August 2011

They also watched the girls for a spell as Eric and I escaped to Portland and Bend, OR for  few days. We rode bikes, tubed down the Deschutes River, enjoyed amazing meals, tasty brews, and reconnected. Priceless.
Portland, OR~ August 2011

Who's Your Daddy?
Eric and local dads from Audrey's Montessori school days performed at the girls school again this summer at the "welcome new family" picnic. It was a great night with dancing kids, smiling parents, and wanna be rock stars (who are truly talented) who did this PTO mama one big favor. Again. Huge thanks to Meme and Papa & Carrie and Jewel who showed their support again this year. 

 Here's your daddy~ Eric, August 2011
Rock On! Papa Frank & Audrey girl

Supportive Sweets~ Rebecca, me, Carrie

Quick k PR update
Work wise all is chugging along very well. Bustling in fact as we head into Fall. I have had new client meetings in addition to big client projects on the horizon. I remain grateful to my team and continue to love, love, love what we do. 

Savoring Summer
Today the girls go to one of their closest friends birthday parties (happy day, Schy guy!) and Eric and I will spend a couple hours at the pool club (with Liv's busted foot, Audrey on antibiotics for swimmer's ear and the the sun not shining until August we've only been twice this summer)! Tonight we head to a "Movie on the Lawn" party with friends from the girls school. The way I feel about their school family is it's own blog post. How we love the community we  are part of there and it is not an exaggeration in the least to say that the friendships and relationships we've built at Brighton are a dream come true. 
In a couple of weeks we head to the coast for our annual end of summer escape and chill time and then it is back to school and down to business. Thankfully, we cannot wait for the next season but until then we will savor summertime. 

Grateful Girl
When I woke this morning my mind was running a mile a minute with things I wanted and needed to do as it does most Saturday mornings. Should I walk now, bake for the neighbor who just lost a loved one, balance our checkbooks, run to the market, write out cards for all my dear friends summer birthdays, get some work in before Monday morning, and the list goes on. But I was most compelled to blog about our summer days and my grateful heart. 

After another magical date night with my husband I went to kiss our sleeping girls last night. I found Livvie sprawled out on the floor with her purple cast dangling over the side of the air mattress (she has a loft and cannot get to it to sleep in due to her cast). She was spent. She has been acting as a junior counselor at the girls school during the days for 3-6 year olds and she is simply adored. News of the adoration comes to me from the teachers and the kids. I am so proud of her. She is a beautiful girl inside and out. She is driven, clever, strong, and lovely. She laughs easily with sparkling eyes and how I love her sweet freckles. My heart overflowed watching her. I have said it before but it bears repeating the day I gave birth to Olivia I loved like I never have before. I had that same swell of love for her as she slept last night. She is my Bliss. 

As for her sister, Audrey is like another limb of mine. She is always by my side, touching me, looking into my eyes, sharing her thoughts, her heart and her days. I miss her terribly in the hours we're apart just as you would if you had a limb missing. What a blessing that child is to me. 

And then there is Eric. He kissed me out of nowhere in the middle of two stories I was sharing last night and I wonder if he knows that those gestures makes my heart feel like it could jump out of my chest. He will reside in it always.

I am one happy, fulfilled, blessed girl~ all things considered. 

Eric found me curled up with a book in the waning sunshine when we were in Bend. 
I cherish this photo as he captured the summer break I was craving. As you can see I got it. Lucky girl. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Break

I feel like I am having a breakdown. Another one. Summer break if you’re me (with this wiring and this brain) SUCKS. Sorry for the crass word choice (I am sure I’ve offend myself more than you with it) but it’s apropos.

I work from home and have my own PR agency but I also double as a stay at home mom. I define “stay at home moms” as the moms who keep the house running, do the laundry, plan the meals, shuffle the kids,  schedule the camps, make the dr/dentist/hair/play date arrangements, make sure the children pen their thank you notes, etc. --you get the picture. 
I live these dual lives simultaneously. It is never a smooth road but when the kids are in school for hours it is less bumpy. While I still have to find time to exercise and do the bills and there are appts. that always need to be made or attended I do not do it with anyone underfoot. Except for 3 smelly dogs and I made this unkempt bed so I am sleeping in it.

Summer time overwhelms me. I know it’s all my fault. That’s the worst part.

I lived an idyllic childhood if you ask me. My mom stayed at home (she did all the above too --with the exception of running her own business). She could get as overwhelmed and stressed as the next mama but I never saw her guilt ridden for either having to send me to camp during a summer day created for total relaxation or from letting me squander away the sweet days of summer time doing nothing but chilling.

I drown in guilt. I am guilty that the kids are home this summer with nothing to do. They went to day camps for years and protested about going again. I never thought it fair since I never had to go as a child (if I did not wish to) and so this year I told them they could relax a bit as they are older.

I feel guilty that their way of relaxing is in front of a TV. My infamous line of, “TV does not make you smart” is sure contradictory when school’s out and I allow them to plunk down in front of the boob tube. They cannot watch TV during the week when school is in but when it’s out --all bets are off. They are great at reading in their rooms, listening to music, playing outside but there is a LOT of down time and I know they’re bored. And I feel guilty about it.

I feel guilty that they want to do projects that I half ass. You see, them tackling projects is me tackling projects. I do not have time to build a lemonade stand, dammit!

I feel guilty work wise that I  do not have total uninterrupted hours of work time. Thankfully it all gets done  (my team rocks and Lord knows I thrive on delivering). 

I know so many parents that send their kids to summer camps as they have no other choice--they work in an office and that is simply how it is. They seem to deal just fine--as do their children. 

Remember, I know this is my issue. I know this is not forever. 

I also know I have helped Audrey design and create her birthday invites and create the party day’s agenda. I have also cleaned out her bookcases and redesigned her closet with her.  Both girls have tackled sewing projects and we’ve been to the store to buy the fabric. We also spent an afternoon at the park, a morning at the craft store, and a day at the beach. 

Olivia will be in drama rehearsals the entire month of July so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Audrey is also at a drama camp and taking sewing, piano and voice lessons. It is not all bad. But it is not all good.

This is why I am having a mental breakdown. It is what it is. I have no idea how to embrace life just as it “is”. I want it all to be picture perfect with the wave of a magic wand. Active kids, checkbooks balanced, thighs toned, house tidied, clients satisfied.
It is so hard for me to see the forest through the trees when I am in the thick of things. I constantly wonder what it would be like if I just had one major role and not two. I absolutely love what I do for work and I love being the girls mama. I wish I felt more in sync. Feeling so guilty is no way to exist. 

As I type Audrey has entered the room and told me she is grateful for all I do for her and she thinks I handle life beautifully (she has no idea what I am blogging about), my husband brought home Godiva (with nuts), and my neighbor texted me asking if I was ready for a tasty Stout. Trust me, I am so very blessed and I definitely count my blessings but I would not be truthful if I did not say that a lot of the time I am overwhelmed. Very much to my dismay...

Hoping this summer to find a way to give myself a break and quiet my head, listen to my heart, and simply be.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In an effort to help quell my early morning frustration and ANGER, I will recap how we went from owning the world's greatest dog to the world's worst.

As newlyweds in a new city we decided to get a dog. Eric is a huge dog lover and I needed more than just the job and the husband in my world so we adopted Thurman. World's greatest dog.

To say Thurman was our world is a bit of an understatement. We took him everywhere. As we drove he'd stand on the arm rest between our car seats and would go from kissing one of us to the other. He went to every party we attended whether we took a ferry to a dinner party at my former boss's house or went to a couple's wedding shower hours away where dogs were clearly not on the invite list. During that particular event,  he stood outside the house and wandered from window to window depending on which room we were in.

We were hands-down "over the top" obnoxious dog lovers. We were blissful. 11 months after our love affair Thurman died. Autopsy showed he died of an enlarged heart. How fitting.

Three weeks later I was pregnant and craving a Friendly's Ice Cream "Fribble." And a dog.

So in Kent, WA we found Fribble. The dog.

He was sickly, homely, and slated to be euthanized the next day. We adopted him immediately.

I recall seeing him poop in the backyard on the first night and knowing it was a mistake.

He bound into the house and jumped on all the furniture. We confined him to one room. After wreaking havoc in that room he'd escape. We'd leave the back slider door open as we went to work and he'd drag in to the house whatever he could find outside. He pulled off all the fake red apple shaped decorations on the Christmas tree and attempted to eat them. All 10 of them. On the white couch. On Christmas Eve--the night I had announced my pregnancy to our families. I was spotting and terrified and Frib ruined the night. Again.

I had a neat little contraption that allowed me to attempt to hear the baby's heartbeat in utero which I'd do each night before bed. Frib ate it. He also had chewed up two mattresses by then. To date he's done this to at least 6 mattresses. When the mattresses get shredded so do all my quilts--ones from my beloved gram, one from a trip to an island in Canada, one that was my first textile splurge when we were newly married. The list goes on.

On Eric's birthday he ate an entire bag of chocolate. I spent the afternoon on the phone with poison control trying to get him to throw up.

Days after Olivia was born he ate a cotton ball covered with Ben Gay ointment. I called poison control. Again.

Eric ran Frib up to the park one night when Liv was two months old. Eric returned shortly after and  said, "Frib ran out of the park and into the street. He has been hit by a car. Don't freak out". I did not freak out.  He stayed over night at the emergency clinic and just suffered some internal bruising. The next day we were off to the pumpkin patch and had to keep Frib with us to "observe". Before we dashed home to dinner with our friend's from pregnancy class, Eric let Fribble out to pee. He jumped a fence and landed in a cow pasture. When Eric called him back from the other side of the fence Frib got electrocuted. Twice.

Each visit to the dog park he'd jump the fence in the "allowed" area and bound through the "habitat protected" fields.  Oh, the looks and the finger wagging we'd ensue as a result.

When Audrey was born he would wake her from every. single. nap. with his incessant barking. He'd bark at the kids outside. Or at the cars going by. Or at the wind. We put him up for adoption on Craig's List. We got one taker and a boat load of messages from animal lovers about how awful we were to want to be rid of him (don't get me started).

As Eric explained to then 3 year old, Olivia, that we may be sending Frib to live on a farm with lots of animals and fields to frolic in and the freedom he so craves, she started to cry.
"No, Papa, we cannot!"

"Why?" Eric asked dumbfounded since Fribble generally growled when people got close to him. We refer to the sound as "throaty disdain".

"Because he's my dog. And I love him." Thus, we still own Frib.

He would never stay put in the yard. I have baked countless brownies & cookies and sent numerous emails & cards to more than a half dozen neighbors because of Fribble upsetting their worlds. I have also had the door bell rung and gone out to find piles of dog poo on my porch courtesy of Frib. The neighbor scooped it up from her yard and presented it to us.  Twice.

Olivia and Audrey lost more pacifiers to Frib than I can count. We knew Frib took them because we are the ones who scoop his poop. Nice, I know.

We also had a diaper service when both girls were babies. I am not sure how necessary it was. Frib would swipe the dirty diapers and feast. He was not only a menace but disgusting to boot.

If you're curious--yes, Frib's been to obedience class. No, he did not graduate.

We were always trying to figure out why his behavior was so out of control. He spends much of his time shaking. Uncontrollably. People would always comment on how cold he must be. It is not the cold. He is deathly afraid of rain. Yes, we live in Seattle.

Once Frib ran away in the middle of a rare thunderstorm. He was gone for nearly 4 days. Life was definitely more peaceful but I felt irresponsible and so left word with animal control, local shelters, and at all the area police departments. They found him. A kind woman several streets away said he showed up in her garage. Frib had been going to her children's clothing store with her each day and sleeping under her desk. She was smitten. And totally offended when we offered him up to her.

So Frib was back.  By this time it had been 7 years of "no joy" (how Eric describes life with Frib). I was ready for the loving dog experience I'd been craving and I so badly wanted to provide it for my girls, too.

We adopted Alice-- a little old pound dog. She was sweet and calm and just what we needed. Despite 3 breast cancer surgeries this little miss has been pure sweetness. Therefore, I wanted to give her a friend so we adopted a basset hound named Bella. For 18 months Alice and Bella were the best of friends. I was blissful. Every time I'd round the corner I'd find these two love bugs tucked in together. Total joy.

Sadly our Bella girl died in May from cancer. We all miss her madly. We just adopted another Basset a few weeks ago named Lucy. She is a timid sheep but very sweet and slowly but surely settling in.

Every day for weeks now I've returned home to "accidents" from the dogs in the only downstairs carpeted room.  The barricades don't work (Frib either jumps the gate or knocks it down- as evidenced below), and taking them out to pee/poop before we leave does not work either. I called a hardwood floor guy for a bid.  I designed a half door in my head while I was showering the other day and my handyman comes Monday to begin creating it. I had the carpet cleaner come out yesterday (comes nearly monthly) to do the front room and the girls rooms (the only other spots with carpet and while they keep the dogs at bay by closing their doors I knew it could not hurt to have the rugs shampooed again). I was losing my mind. I was not sure which dog to blame.

Liv came into our room last night at nearly midnight crying about missing Bella.  I comforted her a bit and sent her back to bed. Six hours later Liv was back in my room. She was woken up by a terrible smell. Poop and pee ALL over her room.

Lucy and Al were asleep in my room all night.

The culprit? You guessed it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

sweet summertime~ Audrey style

School is out, the calendar shows summer has arrived (despite the weather reports) and planning is underway at Wilkinson Manor for fun & bustling days. That is, if you're Audrey.

She has been out of school for less than a week now and has named and designed her lemonade stand and logo (as well as made thank you cards for each client). I have had two visits to her spa~ "Sally's". She has designed that logo, too. And created special appointment reminder cards. She made a trip to the paper store with the babysitter. And the craft store. Next stop Home Depot with her dad for wood for the lemonade stand.

She has cleaned out her closet, two book cases, and her vanity drawer.  She hums and primps and plans as she goes. She just handed me a beautiful picture she made of sweet Bella (our beloved Basset who passed away in May and whom I miss. madly. daily). Because I am "such a treasured client at the spa", she gave me this masterpiece from her line of "Audrey E. Works" drawings (complete with Bella sleeping & bearing her prominent nipples whilst dreaming (bubble over Bell's head shows her happily eating a bone)). I was not charged last night for the visit because she was trying out some new techniques and she said she'd normally do those on an employee and that would take labor time so she was grateful to have me sit in. I tipped her quite well since I had to cancel and postpone an appt. for some 30 hours. You see, it is not summer vaca for all the habitants of The Manor.

Speaking of which- I must put on my publicist hat now and dash off to a day of client meetings. I promise to return soon~  to Sally's, to "Sunshine & Sweets" lemonade stand, to Audrey girl and beautiful Livvie Bliss, to this houseful of smelly special needs beasts (we just adopted a Basset named Lucy- more to come on that), and to my prince.

I wish you the happiest of summers in the best way I know how~ in the words of Sally's motto,  "Relaxation is just around the corner" and for the tag line for "Sunshine & Sweets"..."may every bite be blissful".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Honored Guest

I was asked to draft a guest post on a friend's new blog recently. We have served on committees together and partnered with client projects- she is savvy, successful, and sweet as can be. Thrilled she chose me. It may be too much biz speak to have here on Smile Lines but I trust you don't mind. Plus, I love sharing my happiness with you.

Balance? No such thing.

I am a mama of two girls, own my own boutique public relations firm, serve as PTO Co-President at my girls' school, act as president of the neighborhood homeowner’s association, owner of 3 dogs, wife of one man who keeps me on my toes and I am constantly striving to win Mother of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Wife of the Year, and any other titles that I believe a “good girl” should win. FYI—to date I have not received but one of these accolades. Shocker, I know.

The notion of balance is a Big. Fat. Lie. And that mistruth has set me up with a lot of heart ache and an insurmountable amount of guilt.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I may be rocking one of my many roles, but I am certainly not rocking all of them at the same time. Ever. It took me into my mid thirties to learn that I am incapable of being everything to everybody all at the same time—I continue to grapple with this—daily.

I have been blessed with a healthy and happy disposition. I love my life. I love to deliver. But not every day is a cakewalk. Yet it gets sweeter with each step.

I started my PR business when my youngest was a few months old. I could not bring in enough business, work hard enough, or work long enough hours in the day. I wanted to be hands on with the baby, present for my toddler, and June Cleaver for my husband—all while establishing my agency. Business was booming, the kids appeared to be doing fine, and the husband seemed alright (although I remain haunted by comments such as, “Kiss your laptop goodnight for me”) as he clicked off the light on his nightstand and I stayed up typing away into the wee hours. I guess I also did have a brief spell spent trying to give away the barking dog on Craig’s List as he would wake the baby each time she went down for a nap. I was also terribly impatient with my eldest, I slept little and suffered migraines often. OK, life was totally off kilter.

In the midst of this a counselor said to me, “It sounds like you feel as if you’re too much and yet simply not enough—both at the same time”. BINGO!

So now, dear reader, I want to share with you some lessons I have learned on the teeter totter of life as this Mompreneur.

One was a Lonely Number

For me, support is sweet (and crucial). My team is a huge blessing. k PR could not function nearly as well without my beloved colleagues. Choose wisely---for me that means people with strong work ethics, those with your company’s best interest at heart (and yours), people who can man the store if needed, and those that align with your brand/image as they reach out to folks on your company’s behalf.

Put Down the Kool Aid

Follow your gut and don’t put yourself in a precarious position when you know better. As a publicist I spend a lot of time managing expectations for our clients and for myself. I have learned to spot prospects that believe their own press (not a good thing) and I am getting better at listening to that voice inside me when a product sounds so enticing but I know deep down would be a total energy suck to try to garner media attention for.

Sample dialogue inside my head that I once dismissed but now makes me run for the hills

To prospects:

• No, actually this is not the ‘best’, ‘first’, or ‘most revolutionary’ product known to man.

• I understand the NY Times would be amazing exposure but have you ever read a story like this in that publication? EVER?

• Honestly, would this truly make you jump off the couch and head over to your business if you saw this on TV? I didn’t think so. Then please know that the TV producer won’t think so either. It’s simply not a story.

To myself:

• This prospect sounds awesome yet with their shoestring budget we’ll wind up losing money.

• Should we really take on a business where my direct report is the owner who begins conversations with, “I would only hire you because I am too busy to do PR myself”. Knock yourself out.

• If he wants measurable results on how sales will increase after each press hit then he does not understand how PR works. Sure, you can explain how PR works--but is he really hearing you or is he merely all about his "ROI" (return on investment) at the end of the day?

Step Away from the Laptop

Persistence, drive, and behaving like “a dog with a bone” definitely pays off in the world of public relations and it is key to success. But leaving no stone unturned requires time and time requires a decent client retainer. I have learned (and admittedly I still work on this) that we can get the job done-- and done well-- but the client’s budget dictates how much time we can devote. If the client only pays for 20 hours a month, don’t service their account for 40. I have learned to state this unequivocally upfront. Finally. I had a client call me a “pitbull” once (he meant it as a compliment and my ego soared in the same way my dog’s leg goes wild when he gets a belly rub). I love when we’re recognized for our tireless efforts on our client’s behalf but over servicing when the budget is not adequate is simply unwise. Once the budget is agreed upon work toward success in the allotted time then step away from the laptop and go kiss your spouse instead. ;)

Play to Strengths

Know what you’re good at and what jazzes your team and everybody wins.

I love connecting with clients and the press and I do not enjoy research. I like editing copy but I do not like cutting the first draft. I like keeping the fire alive and adding fuel to it but I do not like lighting the first spark of an idea. Fortunately, I have team mates and clients that like all the things I do not and vice versa. It has made our work days more satisfying and proven more fruitful for our clients.

What’s a Time Clock?

You do not have bankers' hours when it’s your own gig. There is great pride in hanging my shingle out and having my own business. But truth be told I’m never truly off the clock. My 7 year old would tell you that I am “always” working. Even on vacations when my husband is checking his phone for the latest sports scores or searching online for the nearest watering hole, I have one eye on my phone ensuring there is nothing dire smoking up my inbox. But let me say while the mama guilt surely comes into play as a mompreneur and while my head is never completely out of work mode there is also so much to be celebrated about having your own business. After all, I can make it to the school plays whether they fall at 10 am or 2 pm, an impromptu walk with a friend can certainly happen if the sun chooses to surprise with an appearance, a mid-day manicure or a quick peruse of Facebook without Big Brother watching are invaluable for this girl.

So while I am not a believer in balance and the stars have never fully aligned for me to earn the title “Mama of the Year” or “Volunteer of the Quarter” I can tell you I’ve overheard my husband say some pretty awesome things about me at a cocktail party or two, each daughter at one point has told me they want to be “just like me” when they grow up, and receiving a thank you bouquet of flowers at the recent PTO auction sure humbled me. And thrilled me.

All this said, if you ask me you can definitely Have. It. All. Just not all at once.


Katie B. Wilkinson pictured here with a tasty pint on date night with her husband (and her phone) is the founder of k Public Relations Inc.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dream Catcher

Dear Bliss received callbacks after auditioning for summer season performances at Seattle Children's Theatre.

She is pictured here reading of the good news.

It was so deserved. While she still has to pass muster at the callbacks in order to make final cuts we are simply elated she tried out. I admire Olivia in so many ways and find myself almost daily bewildered that she is just 10 years old. As she performed on the beach last weekend while we were out walking the dogs Eric kept remarking, "I cannot believe we made this person. She is awesome." He is so right.

Truth be told, I am not one of those parents who is immensely proud when their child takes the stage at the school play, or with every drawing they create at art camp, or with every oral report they deliver. I do love hearing them and seeing them and soaking it in but certainly not all of it makes me gush and think they can hang the moon. But when Audrey and I listened with our ears to the door at Liv's audition, I was PROUD.

When Olivia bound out of the audition room doors and was beaming. I was PROUD.

When the email popped up on Friday telling me she was called back for two of the four plays they're featuring this summer I was PROUD.

A few people in my life have told me over the years that Olivia has star power. My girlfriend, Sue, once said to me when Liv was just two years old that she swore if Olivia flapped her arms hard enough she could fly. My dear friend, Carrie, has been one of her biggest fans since meeting Liv days after she turned five. Recently several teachers have remarked to me that she is truly outstanding- patient, creative, articulate, attentive, and loving with little kids (she serves as a junior counselor at her school's camp which was an honor to be asked). PROUD is an understatement.

Liv loves to gaze at the stars and she spends a lot of her time wishing on them. She is a big dreamer and asks us all the time, "Do you believe dreams come true?" She signs her emails, "Olivia Bliss Wilkinson who wants to be a child actress". 

I have told Eric since she entered our lives (and refused to be our little rule follower~a star likes to chart it's own course apparently) that she has bigger ideas and God has a grand plan. She greeted us on her due date with a song in her heart and a mission in her mind. I have said countless times over the past decade, "One day Bliss will rule the world. Or at the very least she will own the stage."

Appears the stars may be aligning.  And yes, Bliss, I do believe dreams come true. God gave me you after all.

Pictured here at age 3 performing for the ducks at Seattle's Greenlake

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Soldier Returns

Eric is slated to be home late tonight after packing up his mother's home in Syracuse, New York. He has been gone six days and he says he has been at battle since his plane touched down.

"Kate, I feel like a soldier coming home from the battlefield." he told me on our nightly call last night.

His mother is brutal~ tough. hurtful. alcoholic. insecure. ill. And now she is losing her mind.

His mother was in a major car accident three days before Christmas. A story for another day. Thank God no one else was hurt and while she was hospitalized for three days the injuries were not life threatening. Eric's cousin was determined for him to witness the pictures from his mother's facial injuries and pulled them up on her camera phone last night much to Eric's chagrin. "It was horrific," he told me. 

My mother in law's reactions to this move in many way are text book- anger, resentment, terrified, belligerent- she is leaving everything she has known for some 76 years. Yet truth be told since we moved to Seattle in 1998 she has wanted to move here. She has made it abundantly clear at each turn. We had been in the planning stages for a few years now but after the accident the timeline changed. The time has come.

She does not want to part with paintings on the wall, mounds of mail order offers she has been collecting for years, cupboards of pots and pans, piles of Christmas decorations, and all the other things you acquire over a lifetime.

Yet most of it  must go. Her assisted living space is tiny. We have purchased all new items to furnish it from the sweet pink flower wreath on the door to the flat screen TV to the tea cups. No, she can not bring the giant framed picture of six crying clowns...

"I don't like people. Especially relatives. You need to know that you are ruining my life," she has said daily. I am sparing you, dear reader, as she has said so much worse. 

But the soldier fought on. Eric filled up nearly two dumpsters of her things. By himself. He would take 20 gallon plastic tubs and load them up and lumber down two flights of stairs (the elevator in her apt. complex was out of service, naturally). He'd then lug these bins across the frozen tundra of the Norstar apartment complex until he reached the dumpster. He did this for five days usually in the veil of darkness after he'd gotten his mom off to bed.

"My heart has been racing," he told me last night. "My friend told me last night on the phone I need to be careful due to my blood pressure issues and all that is happening. I understand how stress can kill & how dealing with aging parents can cause a son to have a heart attack." he was completely serious.

My heart broke. I'd be dishonest if I did not admit to being worried about his health. He sent a good night video to us one evening and he looked like he'd aged 10 years. I went to bed thinking of my elementary school principal who had a heart attack shoveling snow as the strain was so severe.

May God protect Eric's heart. And soul.

I simply cannot wait to welcome my hero home.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Finding Bliss

This photo of my Olivia just popped up in the corner of my laptop as I was working. It was snapped right after she got her stage makeup on for her role in "Annie". I first noticed her natural beauty and then was drawn once again to her eyes. I often wonder what goes on behind them.  She has taken in the world and analyzed it deeply since she graced our planet. She would lay in her cradle with her giant blue eyes always carefully watching the bustling activity around her. She would sit in her car seat gazing out at the window as the world whirled by. I could almost hear the wheels of her mind churning. She has never missed a beat. She soaks everything in. She did not smile easily- not until she thought she had the scene all figured out. Then her smile would come. And her giant belly laugh. And she felt secure.

Her report card came yesterday. She is excelling across the board. She is exceeding standards by leaps and bounds. The only area of concern is in her sense of self. Self esteem. 

Olivia is full of life. She is bright, pretty, gentle with children, growing more empathetic than I could have ever dreamed, thoughtful, witty, silly, talented, a risk taker, a dreamer, a storyteller, & as dramatic as the day is long.

So why the low self esteem? It makes no sense to me. A 10 year old such as Liv should feel as if she has the world on a string. I spoke to her about this and we're working through whether these are simple normal tween feelings or if maybe she tends to make normal feelings bigger than they really are or whether she really, really does feel bad about who she is. She promises me she has it under control. I told her that I am here for her, and her dad, and her family, and teachers, and principal, and prayer helps. She says she's got it. 

I sure hope so because Lord knows this child was made to shine.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy February

I have missed you, Smile Lines. I have but a moment so was going to steal just a few and reconnect.

The photo above from last winter makes me think of love (the red gloves over my chest appear to be a bit like a heart, yes?) And I was standing with a prince after all.

Much has happened per usual since my last writing.

The winter was a busy one. Girls were in the play Annie and were just darling. I was every bit the stage mum at their weekly rehearsals. I could not be more proud of them. They are my joy.

I was incredibly sick all of Dec. I dropped a jar of jam on my toe in the middle of it all and swear I broke it. boo. It was also one of the busiest months I can ever recall. Did I already mention that?!

Christmas was spent in Missouri at the gorgeous home of my brother Peter's family. They decorated every nook and cranny, entertained us with horse drawn carriage rides, delicious meals, even had Old Man Winter grace us with a white Christmas. Our sleeping arrangements rivaled those of an inn. Perfection. Today I have never felt happier or more blessed by the family I was given. Lucky girl.

Brighton School remains one of the safest, happiest spots for our family. Liv and Audrey are thriving. That is almost an understatement.

The three dogs are smellier than ever but Al and Bell continue to make my heart sing as they lay about the house with their heads on eachother. Frib (and his steroids) seem to be keeping whatever ails him at bay which, too, is a blessing.

Eric's mom is moving here in 12 days (to an assisted living facility). God bless it all.

k PR is in a nice groove right now. My team is solid and wonderful and everything I could hope for.

We just took a quick jaunt to Disneyland and loved every moment.

I continue to love waking up next to Eric every single day despite the ups/downs of life. This weekend I realized for the very first time how truly grateful I am that we have been in a relationship for nearly 20 years and do not want to be anywhere else. Thank you, God.

The sun is out, the dogs are barking, and an afternoon of client meetings await so I am off.
May we connect again soon.

And if I do not find you before hand, Happy Valentine's Day. May your heart overflow with love.