Sunday, August 24, 2014


I don't really believe in a higher power, certainly not the way most people do. I do not go to church on Sundays, or say my prayers when I lay me down to sleep. All the holidays that my family is inclined to celebrate tend to center around the same important tradition: food. 

Yet this past week, I found myself waking up in a strange bed every morning, with my first thought being "Thank you God." 

This week was our annual trip to Long Beach Island, the cozy little beach town on the Jersey Shore that we go to every summer. It is a slowly meandering vacation. There is the occasional bike ride, or drive to the amusement park down the road, but for the most part it is just pure lazy beach time. A typical day involves drinking coffee on the porch, followed by dragging far too much gear (beach chairs, boogie boards, umbrella for shade breaks, snacks, towels, more snacks, that book you can't stop reading) down the street to claim a spot on the sand before the lifeguards set up their stations. Then there is a morning swim. Some conversation, catching up with family. You try to read but keep getting distracted by all the talking. At some point the ice cream vendor appears to ring his bell like the Pied Piper. You negotiate the ice cream rules. (Maya gets one per day, whenever she wants it.) You go back to the house for lunch. You take a nap. You go back to the beach. You go back to the house for dinner. You have a glass of wine on the porch. That cool cousin who loves to braid does some fancy crown-like thing to your hair. You play some cards which is really just an excuse to giggle a lot and make fun of your cousins. You go to bed. There is a lot of sand in there. You wake up and do it all over again. 

Of course, not every LBI trip has been so blissful. There was that year when Maya was two and would not let me leave her sight for a minute without screaming her head off. No napping that summer. ("Mama! Mama! Want mama!"MAMAMAMAAAAAAAA!") There were the weeks where it rained half the time and suddenly all those nice conversations started to feel more like being  trapped inside a crowded elevator with a bunch of people who would not stop asking questions. 

And then there was last summer. The summer of pain.

Dramatic, I know. But when I woke up every morning this week, my first thought was "Thank you God. Thank you for allowing me to get out of bed so easily. Thank you for letting me make my eggs and bacon without a splitting headache. Thank you for allowing me to sit on a beach chair for more than five minutes without grimacing. Thank you for another pain free day here at the shore."

Last year I had injured my neck and shoulder exactly two days prior to leaving for LBI and spent the entire week alternating between lying flat on my back on the floor and wrapping myself in a heating pad/ice pack. No position was comfortable for more then a few minutes. There were some nice moments in the water with Maya, and a few evenings where the wine took the edge off enough to enjoy the view. But mostly, it just sucked. And I did not realize exactly how much it sucked until I had this year to compare it to. 

Should I have been able to ignore my discomfort and enjoy my vacation? Yes, absolutely. I was not the only family member in pain that summer. In fact, every year someone is dealing with something, an injury, an illness, an emotional struggle. Most of these people manage to suck it up and enjoy the beach anyway. 

Or perhaps they just had a better poker face than I did.

But hey, there is nothing like a crappy vacation to make you really, really appreciate a good one, right?

So thank you universe. Thank you for this wonderful week with the family. It was one of the best ones in a long time. I even enjoyed the noisy arcade. (Almost. I almost enjoyed it. Although what I was thinking going on that nauseating roller coaster I will never know!) Thank you for beautiful sunny skies and cool, foamy waves. Thank you for Maya, who learned new card games, and how to boogie board and how to cross streets with her cousins. (Look for cars, goddamn it, look for CARS!) Thank you for morning conversations in the kitchen and afternoon conversations on the sand. Thank you for Oreos. Thank you for the ice cream truck. Thank you for fishtail braids (that I still cannot do) and good books and long walks collecting shells. Thank you for gross, farty little boys. Thank you for husbands and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and family friends and that one poor person on the beach whose choice of bathing suit causes hours of cruel entertainment. Thank you for coffee. Thank you for comfort. Thank you for a traffic free ride down the Garden State towards home. Thank you for the sand on my living room floor. Thank you for the sand in my daughter's hair that won't wash out until some time after Labor Day.

And so on. I'm feeling grateful.
You get the picture.

Happy end of summer everyone.
Bring on the second grade!

(For Maya. I already completed second grade.)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ladies Night

Tonight my husband had dinner plans with friends, so I went out for a "ladies night" with my daughter. We went to this new Italian place that was two blocks away from our house where I ordered a glass of wine and she made rubber band bracelets. We shared some pasta and watched the streets of Brooklyn through our window. It was nice.

At one point I looked across the table at my dinner companion and smiled. She looked tired. Last night was my birthday and Maya spent it at my parents house, a place that is like a second home to her, where she happily watches more tv, eats more sweets, and stays up later than she is allowed to at home. Which is all fine. That is what grandparents are for.

Also, she looked kind of dirty. We went to the playground this morning and it did not occur to me to change her clothes or brush her hair before dinner.  Summer vacation and all.

But suddenly, in that moment, I saw what the other patrons of the restaurant probably saw, those who do not have six year olds, or perhaps the ones who left theirs home with the babysitter so they could have an "adult" dinner. A little girl with wild hair and tomato sauce on her face. Her dress was too big in a way that every few minutes on strap would fall down her arm leaving her torso half naked. And despite my daughter possessing two perfectly functioning opposable thumbs that can hold a fork like a pro, she was eating her pasta with her fingers. And singing. To herself. Like, well, like a crazy person.

But that's not what I saw.

I saw hair that was wind blown and tangled from a joyful early afternoon sprinkler romp. I saw eyes that had the glazed over look of one who is a few hours short on sleep, but knows it was well worth it.  I saw a child who liked her pasta so much that she did not have the patience to bother with such pedestrian things as utensils and napkins. I saw a little girl who was so wrapped up in her own imaginary game of rubber band people and magical songs that she did not give a crap who heard her. (For what it was worth, it was only me, she was singing very quietly.)

I saw all this, and I sipped my wine, and ate my fettuccine and loved her so fiercely I thought my heart might explode right out of my chest.

Which, incidentally, would make an even bigger mess than the meat sauce.
I''m just saying.

She also spoke politely to the waitress when the woman asked her what she was making with all those rubber bands. She apologized when she knocked an entire glass of water across the table and into my lap. She said goodbye when we left and carried the little plastic box with her leftover pasta all the way to our kitchen counter.

She does a million other things too, every day, things that are brave and kind and smart and silly, and just totally,  totally awesome, things that are so much more important than the tomato sauce on her face and the knots in her hair.

Still, when we got home I made her take a bath.
Cause awesome or not, she is looking kind of dirty.

Despite how this photo might look, she is not actually one of the orphans from Annie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kyoshi Problems

Yesterday was one of those days. Not a terrible day, mind you, just a terribly mediocre one, full of bad choices and things that did not go the way I wanted them to. I blame my breakfast. I had cereal. Bad choice! I'm normally an eggs and bacon person. You have to start things off correctly or there is no telling what could happen!

Maya and I followed Matthew to his noontime jiu-jitsu class. Whenever we go there we eat lunch at the same Brooklyn diner, a tiny hole in the wall called L&D Luncheonette, that is the most Brooklyn place in all of Brooklyn. (And I use to LIVE in BAY RIDGE so that is saying a lot!) They specialize in greasy things made in the deep fryer (even my sausages were made in there!) and silver dollar pancakes and tuna melts and black & white shakes where they give you the extra mixture in a frosty silver cup. The women who work there are all long nails and big hair and twangy Long Island voices. They call Maya "honey", know everyone who lives on the block and know exactly how to make Vinnie's burger and how Tony likes his coffee. Yeah, its that kind of place. Whenever I eat there I usually order a perfectly respectable chicken wrap but for some reason this time I opted for a plate of greasy eggs with home fries and sausage instead. 

My stomach was not too pleased with me. For hours.

My classes at the dojo were similarly disappointing. I had 16 kids in my second class. Three of them were brand new. They did great. Out of the other 13 kids, exactly 4 of them were actually paying attention. Normally when I have a group like that I immediately scrap anything I had planned on teaching and invent some brilliant game instead, one that somehow combines karate moves with Buddha-like meditation. Suddenly they are completely focused without ever knowing how they got there. (I am a karate teaching wizard! Like Gandalf, only with spin kicks.)

But not yesterday. Yesterday we did some mediocre katas, I yelled a bit, and then we all went home.

Again I blame my breakfast.

Also, there were the shoes. Maya needed new shoes. So on Monday we went to the store and I let her pick out these pink sparkly things that proceeded to rip half of the skin off of her heels. Since my child is nothing if not persistent, she wanted to wear them again in order to "break them in better." After wrapping her foot in no fewer than six Band-Aids, I then allowed her to hobble around all day, in theory "breaking in" these awful shoes. Finally, while we were walking to grandmas house around 6:00 last night, Maya turns to me and says, "We should get some socks." 

She is a genius that one. At no point during the two days of watching my daughter stubbornly limp around did it occur to me to put socks on her feet. Because that is the kind of spectacular mom I am. Also, I had cereal for breakfast.

After a quick trip to CVS for new socks (Genius!) , and dinner at my parents house, I was on my way back to the dojo, ready to disappear into training for an hour. Or at least that was the thought I had while walking up Broadway. I was frustrated and cranky. My stomach still hurt from the deep fried sausages. (Why???) I just wanted to punch and kick things for an hour. Preferably in the back of the room. Anonymously.

When I was a lower belt coming up through the karate ranks, I often went to the dojo to relieve stress. And except for the casual pre-class small talk with other students, and the occasional correction from my teacher, I could usually disappear into the crowd and completely lose myself in the joy of hard training.

This task is a little more difficult now. The dojo floor where I punch and kick is my own, and therefore I cannot help but look up whenever the phone rings or someone comes in the door to ask questions. Everyone in the room is a friend of mine. Which means that even on my worst day, I cannot help but smile when I see them. I cannot avoid conversation. In fact, the minute I enter the womens changing room, I often forget that I wanted to be alone in the first place. Its hard to stay angry in a place where everyone knows your name. Remember Cheers? No one is ever angry in that bar. (Ok, so I've never actually watched Cheers. But I know what the theme song is about. No follow up questions please.)

Also, my husband is the teacher here. He's seen me give birth. (TMI? Sorry.) Although, to his credit, he does a miraculous job of treating me just like everyone else. (Yeah, I totally messed up that bo kata last night. And no, he did not let it slide.) 

And lets face it, it looks a little weird if the highest ranking person in the room, the co-owner of the dojo in fact, is stretching in the corner by herself with a bitchy look on her face. When there are three black belts in class who are still learning their katas, it is not very friendly for the person who they are following to go all super aggro and speedy so there is no way anyone can keep up. 

In other words, having a "me party" in a class of 15 is a tad obnoxious. Besides, that is what we have a heavy bag for.

And the truth is, I only thought that I needed to punch in the back of the room with my angry tournament face on. Once I got on the floor I realized that what I really needed was to mess up an easy combination alongside a woman who I have known since I was 13, laugh at myself, fix my hands and move on. What I really needed was to have Kyoshi Matthew correct the form of my pushups when I got a little lazy. (Never lets me get away with anything, that one!) What I really needed was to be the only one who got the first move of the kata perfect (I am KYOSHI Jennifer!) and then turn around and help the others get there too. And so on. 

I also needed to have ordered a chicken wrap for lunch. 
And to have remembered the socks.
And to have made those kids punch pads instead.

And perhaps a glass of wine.
Mediocre wine, of course.

Because nobody's perfect.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Communications Blackout

When I was a young pre-teen in the 1980's, I desperately wanted to attend Space Camp. Not because I was a science buff but because I wanted to be Catherine (Lea Thompson), a tough but beautiful gal who not only gets to fly the space shuttle home after it "accidentally" gets launched into space, but also gets the cute but obnoxious guy with the bad teeth. Confused? Then you never saw Space Camp. 
What brilliance! What genius! This movie had it all. Romance. Adventure. An unfulfilled dream. The ditsy blond who ends up actually being smart. The token black guy. The little boy who feels left out and bullied but eventually finds his place in the world. A talking robot friend. Outer space! Danger! 

Just think of how excited I was when I learned that Space Camp was a real place! Only it turns out that it is really just science camp. Astronaut themed science camp, but still just science camp. Also it is really expensive. And no one ever gets launched into space by a little robot named Jinx. (Can you say lawsuit??)

In a very dramatic moment towards the end of the movie, when Lea Thompson's character is struggling to keep the joystick thingy steady so the shuttle can re-enter Earth's atmosphere without burning up, they experience a "communications blackout". Suddenly, Mission Control can no longer talk to the shuttle! The camera switches away from the anxious teenagers inside, to the anxious dudes at NASA who are waiting to hear if the shuttle made it. "Atlantis, this is Control, do you copy? Atlantis, this is Control, do you copy?"

"_ _ _"

"Copy that Control, this is Atlantis!"
Good job Catherine.

While I admit that the premise of Space Camp the Movie is somewhat dubious, communications blackout is a real phenomenon.  From Wikipedia: "The communications blackouts that affect spacecraft re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.. are caused by an envelope of ionized air around the craft, created by the heat from the compression of the atmosphere by the craft. The ionized air interferes with radio signals. For the MercuryGemini, and Apollo spacecraft, such communications blackouts lasted for several minutes. Gemini 2, for example, endured such a blackout for four minutes, beginning at 9 minutes 5 seconds into the flight."

So there you go. 

This Monday, we begin summer camp at the dojo; an annual ritual for us that includes twice daily karate classes, sports and water fights in the park, cute art projects like homemade backpacks and rubber band bracelets, and exciting activities like board breaking and indoor ball games. (Dodgeball. No matter how many choices I offer them, they always pick dodgeball.) July is the only part of the year where I have a "real job": 9-3, Monday - Friday, followed by my normal afternoon classes. 

I do not write anything during these two weeks. I do not do much in the way of training. I am terribly anti-social. I plan activities and I sleep. When I remember, I eat stuff.

Here are Adri and I at the end of last years summer's camp:

It is not a set shot, we really were that exhausted.

Of course this year will be different. We have less kids for one. And, for the first time ever, the dojo has air conditioning. 
Last year, during the second week of camp, NYC had a heat wave. It was 102 degrees outside. I am not exaggerating, go Google it if you don't believe me. It was 102 degrees outside, which meant it was 101 in the dojo. (Fans, We had fans.) Matthew filled a bucket with ice water and some towels and the kids walked around with their heads wrapped like the dojo was the trauma center in some old war movie. We stuck an AC in the women's changing room, threw some Legos in there, and called it the "cool room".

Camp was a huge success anyway. The kids had a fantastic time. I was the only one who was completely stressed out, constantly chasing them around with cups of water: "DRINK this! Drink it or you'll DIE!!". 

Barring an accidental space shuttle launch, I predict this year's camp will be a bit easier.

Still, do not expect much from me for the rest of the month, except a few half-assed Facebook posts and the occasional photo of some cute kids grappling.

Communication blackout.

You can do it Catherine!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Day I Quit Jiu-Jitsu

Tuesday was graduation day, my last scheduled session of physical therapy. That does not mean I am all better. I still have to continue doing the exercises on my own in order to make a full recovery, and more importantly to ensure that I do not re-injure myself. I just no longer need to do them in her office. 

In general I am a gym-hater, but I adored physical therapy! I loved the predictability of my twice a week appointments, which started with a bunch of neck and shoulder strengthening and ended with some spinal manipulation and a trigger point message. I loved chatting with my therapist, who is named Alyssa and is awesome! I even learned to love those stupid chin tucks.

At the end of my session yesterday, Alyssa showed me a model of the cervical spine and explained again exactly what a herniated disc is. (For more detail feel free to review my previous "jelly donut" post.) She told me what to do if I started to feel pain again. She signed off on my return to grappling, provided I promised to be careful. When she asked me how I felt about being done with her I stuck out my tongue like a pouty five year old.

"I feel like the minute I walk out of this gym my head is going to fall right off my shoulders."

I know that it is not Alyssa at Equinox that has made my neck improve. Or at least, it is not any kind of magic in her fingers; rather, it is simply her series of exercises (all of which I can do on my own) and time, that have helped me. But I still feel cut loose, afraid of my freedom, drifting around randomly in the ocean of neck cranks and triangle chokes. 

In other words, if it were free, I think I would go to PT forever.

I injured myself some time around early-April, right after my husband tore some rib cartilage. He was out of class for a week and a half.  I went back to BJJ last week. This comparison does not matter really; I am not competing with him for who can recover from injury faster. It is just one piece of the story.

Some time in early June, Matthew came home from BJJ all excited. He had had a great class, one where he really felt in control. All his movements felt smooth and strong. Oh, and there was that one tap he got on a black belt! That was kind of cool too.

About halfway through his story I realized that I was only half listening. The other half was stomping around, throwing a toddlerish tantrum that, if it were real, would have sounded something like this: "I WAAAAANT TO GOOOOOOO TO JIU-JIIIITSUUUUUU!"

Over the next week or so, whenever the subject of training came up, I would feel angry. I started making up reasons to hate my BJJ school. I complained that no one had called me to see how I was doing. (True, but there were multiple Facebook conversations.) I berated my teachers for not being more involved in the rolling part of class. (A fact which had nothing to do with me getting hurt.) I made fun of all the new spazzy white belts. (Well...yeah...some of them are kind of spazzy...) I worried that I would never be able to train without re-injuring my neck. I hated everyone who did jiu-jitsu and it was on the tip of my tongue to ask my husband to please stop telling me his BJJ success stories.

Then, I quit.

I do not mean that I called my school and told them I would not be returning. But in my mind, I went from being a BJJ student, to not being one. Now I did not care how many black belts Matthew tapped, I was done with all that. Clearly this martial art was not for me anymore.  And it was fine. I still had karate. Maybe I would find something else to do with my weekdays. Tai chi perhaps. Or Nia, whatever that is.

A week or two later, I had a dream. I dreamed I was rolling with this brown belt I know, and suddenly, in the middle of the round, I caught him in a cross collar choke and he tapped. I tapped a brown belt! 

I woke up feeling restless. It was a Thursday. My neck felt fine. In truth, it had been feeling much better in general. On Facebook, I chatted with two of my favorite training partners, our usual "Are you going to class today?" conversation. I stuck my gi in my bag. At 12:05 I was on the mats working on spider guard.

It was only some slow drills. But I woke up that Thursday morning with the sudden realization that if I did not go back very soon, I may be done with BJJ forever. And I guess, I was not ready to quit yet. So I went to class instead.

It is rare that a martial artist stops training all of the sudden, by throwing their belt on the ground and storming out the door. Usually, it goes something like this: Work gets busy, you miss class. Your kid gets sick, you miss class. You hurt yourself, you miss a few classes. Now you can't remember your new katas. You miss another class feeling embarrassed that you have forgotten everything. You have gained five pounds. You hate that. You miss a few more classes. You go on a mini vacation with the money you did not spend on classes that month. You eat too much on vacation and feel bad. You go to one class. Then you get busy with work again. A month has gone by. Then two. Before you know it, you have been gone so long that it feels weird to come back. So you don't. Slowly, without really meaning to, you have stopped training. 

I don't think most people are aware of a tipping point, a moment when they can either choose one road or the other. Often there isn't one. In fact, it is only in retrospect, that I realize how close I was to quitting jiu-jitsu. That does not mean I would not have returned to class in 6 months, after realizing how much I missed it. All I know is that I was on that ledge for awhile. And now I am not. For now, anyway.

I went to class twice this week, and yesterday I did my first round of careful rolling. It was awesome!  Scary, but awesome. Of course, there is always the possibility that I will hurt myself again. But there is also the possibility that I will discover a whole new rolling style, one that is fluid and smart and allows me to completely control every aspect of every round. It is most likely somewhere in the middle. But that is the nice thing about long term training; you can always evolve. You are always re-inventing yourself. 

For now, I am just happy to be on the mats again.

Happy 4th of July. 
Go eat some grass-fed, free range hot dogs.
And try not to blow up your fingers. You need them for cross-collar grips.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If You Want to Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life....

At least once a day, I am reminded of how fortunate I am. Whether it is while being shoved into a claustrophobic L train during a rare rush hour commute, or while lounging on a sunny playground bench in the middle of a weekday; my days are full of opportunities for appreciation. I do not have a normal life. 

I am not sure who decided what this "normal life" should be. But I do know that I should be spending more time at a desk and less time in the park. I am supposed to see my child only at bedtime and on Sundays when we go to brunch. I should vacation more.  I do not go to Starbucks enough. Or Indian food buffet. I am supposed to wear heels more. There should be less gis hanging in my bathroom. And so on.

Running a karate school for a living is not always easy, but there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

Now, this may come as a shock to you, but my husband was not the first man I ever dated. (Shhh, don't tell him!) In addition to a couple of other karate guys, I actually went out with a few non martial artists. My high school boyfriend was a drummer. There was "sensitive poet guy". And then there was that dude who used to sell fireworks out of his buddy's basement. But we do not have to talk about him. 

The main point of all this is that most of these prior relationships were in high school and college; therefore, meaningless. By the time I was an adult, living on my own, with adult responsibilities, I was dating a karate guy. 

Matthew and I have been together for like, forever. So it is easy to take for granted things that are just normal for us. Like that on 6 out of the 7 days in a week, at least one of us is either teaching or taking a class somewhere. Sometimes it is at noon. But on other days it is right in the middle of dinnertime. For example, here was yesterday: I took Maya to my BJJ class at 11am, where she happily sat on the side of the mats and made rubber band bracelets for an hour. Then we went to the playground, had lunch, went to the pool and then back to the playground for an hour before finally returning home for dinner and bedtime. I watched some TV and fell asleep. Around 11:00, Matthew came home from the dojo. 

That's Mondays. On Tuesdays and Fridays we are both at the dojo until after 9pm while Maya hangs out with my parents. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons I go to jiu-jitsu. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Matthew goes to jiu-jitsu. And Wednesday evenings. Occasionally he does an extra evening class, and only then is there a conversation; who makes dinner, who puts Maya to bed. This is our "normal."

When you run a business and raise a child with someone, you see an awful lot of each other. Matthew and I do not have to make time to talk, we are constantly talking. We do not have to schedule family time, half of our week is family time. Which is why it is easy to forget that our relationship is not "normal". It is easy to forget that in this area of my life, I am also extremely lucky.

Recently Matthew contacted a student of his who has not been in class for awhile. This happens a lot in training; you get busy with work, family, etc. and you can't make it to class for a week. Then that week turns into two, which turns into a month, which turns into two months and then, without intending to, you have quit the dojo. This student who Matthew emailed had indeed been busy with work, but the main thing he was struggling with was where to fit his training in with his new marriage. He wants to train 4 times a week. His wife, who does not do karate, is not thrilled with him being at the dojo until 8pm every night, leaving her all alone. 

This is not the first time we have seen this. Another former student of ours was in constant 
negotiation with his wife regarding Friday night sparring, versus dinner and drinks with her. And, lest you think I am being sexist, it is not always the wives who have a problem. About 6 years ago, a female student of ours quit the dojo when her boyfriend could not handle the amount of time she spent "training with all those guys."

And can you blame them? All of our adult classes are at dinnertime. So, after working hard all day, a loving spouse arrives home just in time to hear, "Bye honey, see you in a few hours. Oh, and I will be sweaty and stinky and I may have injured something so be prepared to hear me whine about it all night."

I guess most couples who have gym memberships work out together. Some people take morning runs while their spouse is still asleep. Pure Yoga is open all day. Even my BJJ school has 7am class for the really motivated. 

OK, in truth, I am full of it. I have no idea how you normal folks do it. I have been a martial artist married to a martial artist forever. I have no clue how hard it is to fit your training into your relationship. I don't know when you have dinner together, or what normal people are supposed to do on Saturdays. Matthew and I both hate to travel. Our daughter has been sitting on the side of a class since she was a newborn. There are three gis currently hanging in my bathroom! No one takes showers here.

Like I said, my life is not normal.

 All I know is that I am lucky to have a husband who not only doesn't mind that I roll around on mats with other men, he sometimes even washes my stinky gi for me.

If that isn't true love, I don't know what is.

What do you think? How do you train seriously and still maintain a relationship? 

Or does everyone have to marry a black belt.
(Which I highly recommend, by the way. It is pretty awesome!) 

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Circus

There have been a lot of shows this month. The end of the year is always like that, every specialist wants to show off what they have been teaching all year. So we went to the spring concert and the spanish show and now, today, the Max the Cat Circus. To be honest, I am more than a little sick of watching shows. At this point in the school year its all I can do to put pants on my kid. But Maya was really proud of this one ("Mommy you're gonna love the circus show!") and she really was the cutest little robot clown ever. And as I sat there listening to a bunch of first graders singing along to Katy Perry I realized that I was close to tears. 

I thought it would only be the end of pre k that would choke me up so I was taken a bit off guard when the whole Kindergarten moving up ceremony got me. But even after that I swore this year would go off without a hitch. No nostalgia. No look how big they all are moments. No tears.

But look how big they all are! 

Who cares that my baby is going to be a second grader? Who cares that none of her pants fit anymore? Who cares that she still hugs me when I leave like she actually doesn't want me to?

Apparantly, me. I do.
Who has two thumbs and is a sucker for 6 year olds in costumes? This gal.
What a wuss.
Damn that Katy Perry!
Maya is the third clown from the left. Yeah, I know...