Positively Living for Ashley

Posted On October 23, 2020| Leave a reply

“Surround yourself with positive people.”

-Ashley Wyss

Nineteen days ago one of my very favorite people died. My emotions are all over the place. I bounce between total denial, complete heartbreak, utter disbelief & intense anger. Mostly with no warning, so that’s fun to explain. We shared an unlikely friendship. She was born when I was 17, I was a tired mom of two, she was a young, spirited girl ready to change the world. But a friendship evolved. A friendship that meant a great deal to me. I miss her.

A Valentine’s Day visit with their favorite teacher. 2020

We met in 2013, she was a new teacher hired at Indian Springs and I was one of the trusty PTO presidents. It was still summer. I had just dumped lovingly dropped my kids off at swim lessons & ran into school to cut or copy something. I was told ‘the new teacher’ was working in her room, which translated to ‘you should go meet her and give her your PTO schpiel’. I paused for a sec and took in the look I was rocking…pool cover-up, dirty hair in a hat & no make-up. I considered waiting to meet her, but her room was RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL from the workroom. I am so thankful that I stepped into that room. Miss Deck greeted me with the warmest smile. We ended up chatting for so long that I had to abandon my project and race to the pool. I was blown away. She looked like she was 18, but had the poise and warmth of someone far past her years. Her room was vibrant! I could not find one thing I didn’t like. She was teaching 5th grade that year and being a former 5th grade teacher, I was always (secretly) comparing these new teachers to myself in all my glory! I made a mental note to tell Principal Heuser “BRAVO” on this hire and to start scheming on how to get Noah into her class in two years.

I had minimal contact with Ashley that year, but with her room being across the hall from the workroom I spent hours seeing her interact with the students. What I noticed is that the kids ADORED her. All the kids. The fifth graders for sure, but even the younger kids who only knew her from seeing her in the hall. They gave her high-fives, hugs, greeted her by name and I am pretty sure most of them took the long way in from the bus just to walk past her every morning. It was something. Indian Springs needed this. We needed her. Noah was a 3rd grader and Natalie was in 1st grade. They were both enamored with Miss Deck and had announced several times that they wanted her for 5th grade. I was prepared to be the longest running PTO president if that would give me any pull!

Luck was on our side because Miss Deck was moved to 4th grade for the following school year. Summer had just started but a little bird told me that Noah was ‘on Ashley’s list’ for 4th grade. OMG! Noah is my secret keeper so I told him the good news right away. As far as I know he never told a soul. I remember him pumping his fist and being so excited. I knew it would be a good year, but boy was I wrong. It was his best year. That class of 25 fourth graders lived their best lives that year. Ashley changed them forever.

DECKERVILLE 2014-2015

Here is a link to the book I put together for her end of the year gift. The letters are heartfelt and prove just how much she changed their lives. Thanks to Ashley’s mom for reminding me of the book!

Noah & Miss Deck, Relay for Life 2015
Ashley ALWAYS made time for Natalie!

This 4th grade class quickly became a family and the kids were fiercely protective of Ashley. Ashley was fighting stage 3 Medullary Thyroid cancer and shortly before school started it had returned to her neck and had spread to her lungs. For three months Ashley traveled to Texas and DC for treatments. Her students were her biggest supporters! They rallied behind her, behaved for their subs & attacked her with hugs when she returned. By now I was all in. She had changed Noah’s life and I wanted to change her’s. It was my husband’s idea to send her on a trip. We are a traveling family, so it was perfect. Just a slight snag… she was currently Noah’s teacher and the school put a $25 limit on gifts. You can read all about how I lied to Ashley about ‘winning’ a grant from an our friend’s incredible charity Families For A Cure here. The charity is very real and the Patient Experience Grant is also very real as well, all thanks to Ashley. Together with our friends my husband and I invented the grant as a way for us to gift her a dream trip to NYC. We pulled it off with a lot of help, sent Ashley & Ryan to NYC in December and created a grant that has since enabled so many cancer warriors to enjoy a little normal as they battle for their lives. Because Ashley made such an impact on us, we have been able to impact so many others. I never told her the truth about her grant. What I did was enjoy planning her trip to NYC, meeting her mom and Ryan in the process and hearing all about it when she got home.

Ashley in NYC, December 2014

“Our trip to New York was absolutely perfect! I had always had a dream of visiting New York City during the Christmas season and seeing The Rockettes perform live. However, our trip ended up being so much more than that. We were treated like royalty all weekend, from staying in a gorgeous hotel overlooking SoHo, eating and drinking the finest foods, and staying busy all day long with sightseeing. From seeing The Rockettes, Wicked on Broadway, to ice skating under the big Christmas tree, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better weekend away. Ryan and I often remark that this trip was something we would have never been able to do ourselves, and it was such a nice feeling to truly be able to enjoy each other’s company and push cancer to the back of our minds.”

Here are a few more pictures from Noah’s 4th grade year in Deckerville:

Through the years Ashley and I shared many chats. She’d text me to tell me to visit during her Specials time. If you are a teacher you know how valuable your Specials time is, but she often gave it up for me. Our chats covered just about everything. She listened to my struggles as a mom and often offered her insight regarding Noah & Natalie. We shared an intense love for Erin Condran products and colored pens. She gave me recipes, I told her where I bought my comfy pants. We talked wedding plans, girls trips, highlights, favorite mascara, Starbucks concoctions. We gossiped. We laughed. We sometimes cried. I attended her bridal shower and delivered smoothies when she was couch-bound. And we talked about her cancer. Her fears and her anger, her treatment plans, ringing the bell at The James, harvesting embryos, how much it sucked and how hard some of her days were. I would have done anything in the world to take that burden from her. She knew her ‘not so great’ updates were hard for me, so in true Ashley fashion, she would let me know before she updated her Ashley’s Army. Always taking care of others. Often I was at a loss for words to publicly share on her posts, but when I would see her, she would look at me and say, “I know.” and then come in for a hug. I’m going to miss her hugs.

Natalie was blessed to spend gobs of one-on-one time with Ashley. Ashley tutored her once a week during the summer after 2nd grade and during her 3rd and 4th grade school years. Every time I picked her up the two of them were giggling about something, surrounded by candy wrappers & usually drawing pictures on the Smart Board. Ashley reached Natalie academically like no one ever had, but more importantly became a trusted role model for life. One of Natalie’s favorite memories is when Miss Deck made a plan to meet her at the Taylor Swift concert. They set a time and a place and Ashley showed up. The concert was in September, 2015. Nat was in 2nd grade, we had only known Ashley for a year. Natalie was not her student. Ashley adored was obsessed with TS and was attending the concert with a friend. But there she was making time for my daughter (& me). When Ashley died I was in the middle of writing to Taylor Swift’s publicist about meeting her, one day I will finish and send that letter because I am certain that Taylor would want to know all about her biggest fan.

A night Natalie will never forget!

More pictures of my kids & Ashley…

Ashley went from Miss to Wyss in the summer of 2016, but Noah never stopped calling her Miss Deck! And in the fall of 2018 Mrs. Wyss was once again a 5th grade teacher…and Natalie would FINALLY be in her class. It was the year she had been waiting for since the first grade. During the summer Natalie & gathered all of Ashley’s favorite ‘school things’ and packed them in a Favorite Things bag. Check it out…

ARLO+NAPPING+SOUR CANDY+CHIPS & QUESO+POSITIVELY LIVING

Positively Living was something Ashley was already doing, but in the summer of 2018 she launched her side hustle as a fitness/life influencer & coach. If you need a little motivation, look no further than POSITIVELY LIVING. My hope is that her page stays up and active forever. Her advise, raw honesty & support has changed the lives of people near and far. I jumped at the chance to join one of her accountability groups. Getting daily messages and encouragements from Ashley was worth the working out!

Natalie’s 5th grade year was bitter sweet for me. I was thrilled she was spending every day of her final year at Indian Springs with Ashley, but I was an emotional wreck about ME leaving the school! I was seriously in the building several days a week and found comfort within those walls. By now Ashley and I knew each other very well. She didn’t flinch when I cussed and I looked forward to our weekly chats. All year she checked in on me. Sigh.

Ashley and ‘The Natalie’s’
5th Grade Musical
These two…
Mrs. Wyss’s Fifths
Two peas in a pod!

No matter how hard I tried to slooooow time, May appeared. It was all coming to an end. Ashley knew I was not ok. I got extra hugs and “just come visit all the time” to avoiding the topic altogether! It had been an exceptional year. Ashley was in such a positive place. She was fit, fulfilled and extremely happy. It was a blessing.

Last Day of Fifth Grade!

Every year, the 5th graders get ‘clapped out’. The kids LOVE it. Parents and students line the hall, the 5th grade classes parade through with music and cheers. This next picture is Ashley seeing me in the hall. Crying. Earlier that morning I had watched Noah ‘graduate’ from Middle School and now this. It was too much. I was downright sad. My tears were sad tears and she knew it. After I snapped this pic, she actually stopped and hugged me. Which, of course made more tears. Her kindness never stopped. Sidebar: To save my recent Elementary School grad from embarrassment I quickly wiped the tears away and buried my sadness for another day.

May, 2019

A few weeks after school was out, Ashley underwent a major spine surgery. I stopped by her house for a quick visit, she was of course mad about the surgery but she was ready to attack it and move through the recovery. I remember driving away from her house shaking my head in disbelief. This girl was a unicorn with superpowers, I wanted to be more like her. The surgery derailed all of her summer plans and momentarily put her in a dark place. But her strong body & even stronger mindset led to a speedier recovery than planned, an earlier return to the classroom and somehow and more positive Ashley! At the end of the school year, Natalie had gifted Ashley a Vera Bradley blanket. Natalie has a slight blanket addiction and thinks all of her favorite people should have a Vera. We both noticed the blanket showing up in Ashley’s pictures that summer as she was recovering from her back surgery. Kinda felt like we were wrapping her in daily hugs.

Miss Positively Living and her Vera!

The Natalie’s LOVED Mrs. Wyss…

As soon as Ashley was back in the classroom, Natalie needed a visit! We stopped by Indian Springs several times to say hello, get a hug and check in. We always left feeling happier!

Ashley needed a second liver embolism surgery at the end of August, 2020. Before the surgery she and Ryan escaped to Jamaica for a week and lived their best lives in a floating bungalow! Natalie was over the moon excited for her to go on this trip but was worried Ashley would have a hard time waking up early for her flight! 😉 Nat mailed her a Starbucks card to use for coffee at the airport. Ashley sent this text…

Everyone who knew Ashley was thrilled that this trip to Jamaica became a reality and at the perfect time. The last time I saw Ashley was on August 19th. I met her in the parking lot of Indian Springs for a brief visit. Had I known I would never see her again, I would have said ‘screw Covid’ and hugged her one last time. Instead we just chatted and I told her I would check in with her after her surgery.

Ashley had the second liver surgery on August 31, 2020. She never really recovered. She was in some pain, had no appetite and was super sleepy. We texted back and forth that week. I sent her silly pictures of Natalie and we chatted about the cold brew pitcher we had both been waiting for. A few days after our text on September 11th, she got the news that it was time to enter hospice care. The news literally brought me to my knees. Without knowing it, I was BEGGING God to undo this. I was not done with her yet. I needed more time. My kids needed more time. She deserved MUCH MORE time. It took me almost a day before I could reach out to her. I needed to find the right words, which had so often escaped me when it came to her cancer journey. I settled for telling her I loved her and that she had lived the life of a true servant. One of Ashley’s final wishes was to leave a legacy. It’s just like Ashley to consider that a wish when the rest of us already knew it to be true. She told me to text Ryan about setting up a time to visit. Sadly that final visit would never happen.

Both of my kids wanted to see her or talk to her or something. They didn’t know what to do. They decided to write her letters. We sent digital copies to her right away and mailed these:

Ryan and Ashley’s mom, Bev kept me updated on her final days. I know she was physically surrounded by those who loved her the most, but I can’t help but hope that she felt the love my little family was also sending her. I prayed specifically for her mind to be put at ease and for her heart to burst with joy for the incredible life she had led.

A dear friend of Ashley’s (& mine!) called me with the news a couple hours after she passed. When I saw the call come through my heart broke into tiny pieces. I was speechless. I called my mom, but no words came out. Jeremy knew it was bad as soon as he saw me walk through the door. Natalie was attending Youth Group at a friend’s church and Noah was in the basement. I broke down at the dinner table in the middle of our prayer. Noah was giggling because he thought his singing had brought me to tears. Jeremy told him Ashley had died. I excused myself, sat outside for a bit and snuggled my dogs. Noah looked as if he had been punched in the gut. All he said was, “that sucks”. Boy was he right. My plan was to tell Nat when she got home, but the news spread rapidly and she got a text while she was away. She didn’t really know how to process it. She asked a lot of questions and then finally said, “I feel so badly for Ryan, what will he do?”. Sigh again.

We attended Ashley’s calling hours. Her urn was PINK! The flowers were gorgeous. The hardest part was walking in the room. Once we were inside, it was calming. She was everywhere, smiling at us. Her parents and brother and Ryan were genuinely happy to see everyone. They thanked us for loving her. Ryan talked about her and showed us a picture of where her ashes would be laid to rest. We left feeling sad, but our hearts were a little happier. Ashley always had a way of making things better.

The following pictures are my favorite post of Ashley’s. She was proud of her scars and her journey. She was not a victim. She was a warrior. The kindest warrior ever, but still very much a warrior. She knew our scars, both visible and hidden should remind us of our journey & our strength. See why I am going to miss her?

So it has been almost three weeks and her death still seems surreal. I drive by Indian Springs several times a week and I imagine her in her classroom, surrounded by adoring students telling Arlo stories and sipping a Starbucks. I hate that I can’t pop in for a visit. I hate that I will never get another text. I hate that I will never see her roll her eyes. I hate that I will never get another hug. I hate that my kids have lost one of their rocks. But on top of all of the hate, I have countless memories that flood me with smiles and give me hope. Ashley was too big for this little world. I am thankful for the time my family had with her. We will not ever let her spirit die.

We love you Ashley/Miss Deck/Mrs. Wyss/Arlo’s Mom.

Live Creatively, (& Positively!)

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GOAT Yoga (It’s a Thing!)

Posted On August 20, 2019| Leave a reply

Goats are super cool these days. They’re not on the level of alpacas and sloths, but people love goats. I’m not sure they were considered cool when my Daddy brought three home in the late 70’s, but for me, it was love at first sight. We lived in the country. No sidewalks. No neighbors. Just lots of grass and trees and bugs and chores. I had been a city kid my whole life. All five & a half years of it. I played on concrete & road double on my friend’s bike, barefoot of course. I was hardcore.

That would be me in the green track suit & red sneakers. I was a street baller. Michael, Bradley and I were tight. Darla and I never really bonded!

Needless to say my brother and I were not too keen on leaving the city. My folks bribed us to love our new country home by bringing home ‘pets’. Flopsy, Mopsy & Bill were my reasons for finally leaving the porch and venturing to the back field. I loved Mopsy so much I spent hours thinking of ways to sneak her in my room.

1977 With Mopsy. Bill & Flopsy in the background. Clearly I traded my slick street clothes & disheveled baller hair for frumpy overalls and tight plaits!

Years later Bill & Flopsy fell in love and added to our goat family. We welcomed Heidi and twins, Andy & Sandy. Lord forgive me for those basic of all basic goat names. I bet people name their goats Paisley & Atticus now. Sadly all photos of my twin goats are packed away in my folks garage. Instead I will share this priceless one with you:

Playtime in the country…Wrapping your baby brother in wire fencing and forcing kittens to join him while your father captures it on 35mm. #countrylife

Soon after becoming Papa Goat, Bill got a little too head strong (literally) and put my Daddy on his ass. Bye-Bye Bill. All the ladies found new homes a few years later. My goat rearing days had come to an end. It was probably best, I had Middle School to contend with.

Sunshine has had a little goat obsession for several years. For awhile she was begging for a pet goat so often that I actually checked our HOA bylaws about getting one! It was a firm no. Instead we just snuggle on them whenever we can.

Sunshine in a random goat pen with a random goat, 2016.

And then she heard about GOAT YOGA. Leave it to a hippy in Oregon to start this insane trend. Hippies come up with all the cool shit. Yoga with GOATS. Read all about Lainey Morse & how she invented Goat Yoga.

FYI, a few of Lainey’s goats are named Romeo, Ansel, Dodger & Quincy. Lainey is a much better goat-namer than I was. Oof.

Lucky for Sunshine, the Goat Yoga trend has made it to central Ohio. Katherine Harrison owns Harrison Farm in Groveport and Katherine has a yoga friend, Dana who isn’t afraid of goats. Win. Win.

Last Sunday we packed up our yoga mats, water bottles, sunscreen & bug spray and headed to the farm. We were greeted by a couple ducks, several chickens & a few roosters. They liked to look you straight in the eye.

Not crazy about the pecking birds!
Our favorite. She was a hot mess.

Finally the goats were released from the barn. It was a sight.

The Harrison Farm goats do not know how to hold Warrior nor do they climb on your back, but they are very social, have lots to say and have zero respect for personal space. Sunshine loved every minute of it.

Of course the only cat on the whole farm decided to rest on MY mat.

#notacatfan

Sunshine made fun of me for taking this picture…


But apparently not all of my ideas are cringy because she snatched my phone and took a few herself:

We ended our time at the farm feeding Fig Newtons to the alpacas, wiping goat hooveprints from our mats and saying our goodbyes.

Namaste.

Live Creatively,

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You’re OK With Me Working Your Hips, Yes?

Posted On February 21, 2019| 1 Reply
HELL YES!

My team thought it would be AWESOME to spend a full week on the slopes at Snowbird. To be clear, that is seven…SEVEN days of skiing/boarding. Mama’s ski legs are not accustomed to more than four days of feeling like jelly and holding on for dear life, therefore I wised up, took a day off and headed to the spa.

I don’t spend a lot of time in spas and to be honest I usually feel a little out of place. Perhaps with a little more effort I could be a better spa-goer! I accepted my super comfy robe and hard plastic slides from the very bubbly check in girl. I’ll call her Kelsey, because she looked like a Kelsey. Kelsey asked if I had been to the spa before. “Yes” exploded from my mouth so quickly that Kelsey no doubt thought I was a regular so she simply said, “Enjoy your visit” and never left her spot behind the counter.

My ‘yes’ was indeed the truth as I had visited the spa once a couple years ago. My enthusiastic answer left me all alone staring down a hallway full of doors. I heard voices from the first one on my right so I slowly opened it, only to find the staff break room on the other side. Oops. Finally I found the Ladies Locker Room and headed straight for the lockers. Locker #6 was hanging open, so I began to strip off. Settled in my robe and slides I tried to lock the locker. It started beeping at me and then did nothing. I grabbed my clothes and headed to another set of lockers. Locker #31 was open. I loaded it with my clothes and the same. damn. thing. happened. I sighed a little and decided to read the ‘Locker Instruction Sign’. Which led me to locker #40. Locker #40 had its red light blinking, which meant it was AVAILABLE! Damn you Kelsey for not walking me to the locker room!

I had 17 minutes until my massage. I was looking for the steam room because I swore someone had once told me that a steam before a massage was a good idea. No steam room, but there was a sauna. In I went. OMG was it hot! I felt my lungs, lips and tongue literally drying up. But, this is what spa-goers do, right? Convinced I was going to be late for my massage I left the sauna….I lasted a whole 7 minutes and was dripping in sweat. Panic set in as I was not going to meet my masseuse all sweaty. I toweled off and went to the waiting area. Guess what I found? The STEAM ROOM. Why is the Steam Room in the waiting area? I bet Kelsey knows.

Enter Vanessa. Vanessa greeted me with a handshake. Vanessa had strong hands, yeah me! Vanessa had me choose my scent. There were three blocks of wood, labeled K, O, R. I chose K. O smelled like a hippie and R smelled like a field of allergy inducing flowers. Vanessa reminded me what I had booked for my treatment. Apparently I was to be oiled, scrubbed, wrapped & massaged. She also explained that it was best for me to be completely naked, to get the most out of the treatments. My underwear felt really big and bulky, like she had seen them through my robe and knew I was a fake spa-goer.

Off went my panties and under the towel I scurried. Vanessa reentered and proceeded to rub me all over with my special K oil. Next came the scrub. She scrubbed me from top to bottom and then told me to take the rest of the scrub with me across the hall to the showers and scrub all the parts she wasn’t legally allowed to touch! OK. I scrubbed and rinsed and headed back to my room. Next up, some hot special K oil. Amazeballs. Then Vanessa, very stealth like, wrapped me in a couple sheets then draped a heated blanket on top and covered my head in some fuzzy hood thing. I’m pretty sure I drifted off for a few minutes.

And then came the massage. I swear she spent at least 10 minutes per foot. Never have my feet been so pampered. She massaged my legs and arms and then had me flip over for my back & shoulders. Vanessa used her entire forearm to massage my back! She’s a genius. She pushed so hard I drooled. Seriously, drool dripped from my mouth all the way to the floor. C.L.A.S.S.Y. Vanessa then whipped the towel so my entire thigh was exposed. She started to massage it and then said, “You’re OK with me working your hips, yes?”. At this point, I was Vanessa’s biggest fan, so it was a Hell Yes! For the love it felt so good. A little painful, but still so good. By the time Vanessa got to my other hip I had to toot. I was dying. There was no effing way I was going to toot on my new best friend as she has her bare hands on my thigh! I sent a quick prayer up to Sweet Baby Jesus to save me from myself. He delivered. My toot disappeared for the time being and I relaxed again.

Vanessa finished with a hot oil scalp massage. Um, add this to your bucket list pronto. It was the best part of my treatment. Actually it was the best part of my day, maybe even my week. It took me several minutes to get off the table. My body did not want to move. I kind of remember Vanessa telling me goodbye and reminding me to drink lots of water. Back in the locker room I got a good look at myself. My face wore the outline of the padded thing it was laying in and my hair, oh my goodness, my hair! My hair looked as if I had poured gallons of EVOO all over it. Luckily I had my hair tie in my robe pocket and slicked it back into a hodgepodge of a messy bun. Yikes. Being a spa-goer is not glamourous.

I wasn’t ready to leave the spa, so I made some hot tea. It seemed like the thing to do. All the ladies were carrying around cups with strings hanging out of them and now so was I. There was an empty lounger in the waiting room, so I settled in. Check out my view:

While relaxing, I checked my missed texts and was happy to find this pic from Doc. My team had met up for lunch!

I choked down my tea and decided it was time for lunch. As I rolled off the lounger I noticed the lovely grease outlines of my calves! Apparently my skin had yet to absorb all of the special K oil Vanessa lovingly applied. I used my robe to wipe it off then exited quickly. I was ready to ditch the robe and slides for my comfy travel pants and flip flops, retreat to my room and watch Friends reruns. If you ever need a plus one for your spa day, give me a call. I promise to behave.

Live Creatively,

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Game Changer: OXO Good Grips Bag Cinch

Posted On June 24, 2018| Leave a reply

Call me crazy, but I cannot stand those twist ties that come on a loaf of bread. The worst are the ones made out of that cheap paper and the wire pokes through the first time you untwist it. Gawd. And don’t get me started on the hard plastic square ones with the little hole in the middle.  These…….

 

I am never able to twist the bag tight enough to fit it into that little hole. I end up cursing and just shoving it. Not. Any. More.

Whilst wandering through Bed Bath & Beyond I can across these in the kitchen food storage section:

God was smiling on me that day. Now my bread and rolls are secured with ease. Which means less cussing and less squished bread. And they look cute in my bread basket!

Definite Game Changer. Buy your own here and instantly become a happy bread owner. They are a 5 star product, buy with confidence!

Live Creatively,

 

 

 

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{07.10.17}

Posted On July 11, 2017| Leave a reply

I am documenting how I spent my day so I can remember it always. Last night as I slept I must have signed on with a temp agency and that temp agency secured me a job as an uber/taxi/shuttle/bus driver. According to Doc, my vehicle is a bus. He’s cute like that.

Today was Monday. Mondays tend to suck in general, right? I never seem to have my shit together. Late last night I wrote down my morning and afternoon schedule. Laugh if you will, but I’m kind of visual so it helps to ‘see’ where I need to be and when. Here’s my morning post it note:

My morning stops.

I was up by 6:30ish, standing in the kitchen dazed and confused by 6:45 and somehow had packed two lunches by 6:58. I woke up Boy Wonder first. He was semi pleasant. Boy Wonder rides to baseball conditioning with a friend and his Dad. The Dad is also a Coach. Boy Wonder really likes this Coach, so a quick reminder that he needs to be on time for Coach is all he needs to hear to jump out of bed. Oh how I wish Coach was also going to be a 7th grader teacher this fall! Next stop was to wake Sunshine. Sunshine had taken up temporary residency in my bed due to a bad dream so I grabbed her leotard and snuggly jammies and headed back to my room. I also took my secret weapon….Jagger! It’s funny how when I wake Sunshine up with kisses, she swats me away and growls. When Jagger licks her face from one side to the other she grins and grabs him for a hug. Un. Fair.

I stay with Sunshine until she is upright and getting dressed. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m ready to kindly holler upstairs to Boy Wonder to HUSTLE, but he is already sitting at the kitchen island. Ahh. My heart swells for an instant. And then I realize he is SITTING and WAITING for me to PREPARE his breakfast. My heart unswells. But, it is Boy Wonder’s lucky day because I am in a good mood.

Sunshine joins her brother and they both eat waffles prepared with love. #momoftheyear

Teeth and hair are brushed. Backpacks are loaded. Sunshine is sent off to snuggle Jagger and Boy Wonder is sent to load his gear into the bus. It’s 7:50. I am on time. Boy Wonder is delivered to Coach and I head back home to grab Sunshine and Jagger. It’s 8:10 and I am driving to the gym with a happy gymnast. We pull into the gym. The parking lot is empty. Yep, empty. I park and check my calendar. Hmmmm. Gymnastics practice on Mondays begins at 9:30, not 8:30. Well shit. We were an hour early. 60 minutes. I fessed up to Sunshine. She sort of laughed but I am pretty sure her eyes were rolling.

Jagger had to be to the groomer by 9am. So, off we went. Let me explain. The gym is 20 minutes west from my house. The groomer is 20 minutes north from my house. So now I am 40 minutes from the groomer but I am determined to make it there and back to the gym and still be on time. Back roads are my friend and I know my navigation will not lead me astray.

My secret back roads were being heavily traveled by a series of Mack trucks. These Mack trucks were unaware of my schedule and my desire to be on time. And today, TODAY the road to the groomer was closed. Not a problem in the city, but in the country this road closure required me to drive about 5.3 miles out of my way. Sunshine was convinced we had crossed state lines.

We made it to the groomer but were 10 minutes late. I pretty much tossed Jagger to her and jumped back in the car. I had 20 minutes to get back to the gym. I changed my route a bit in hopes to shave off a few minutes. Guess what? I ended up behind a huge tractor. Yep, a tractor. Did I mention we were in the country? Sunshine thought it was cool. Luckily it turned into the tractor store and I was back on my way.

Jesus must have taken the wheel because we arrived at the gym at 9:29. No joke. I felt like Hermione in Harry Potter when she used her time turner! Now my schedule was all mucked up. I was near my allergist, so I decided to get my shot now instead of at 11:30.

To sum up my allergist experience, here is my Facebook post after leaving the office:                             #smh
Lady at allergist office this morning….. walks into a waiting room with approximately 8 patients waiting for shots. Asks (from her seat across the room) the receptionist to turn up the tv so her son could hear Moana better. Receptionist does. Lady asks for it to be even louder. Receptionist turns it louder. Mind you, my seat is directly under the tv. Ugh. For the entire 25 minutes I am in the waiting room this lady talks non stop. She’s talking to her son (about 2 years old) so loudly! Clearly fighting to be heard over the crazy loud tv that she asked to be turned up! Her son watches not one minute of the movie….
#omg #myheadhurts

#stoptalking

My allergist is about 10 minutes north from where I need to pick up Boy Wonder at 12:30. It is now 10:20. If I go home, I will be home for about 50 minutes. Doesn’t make much sense, so I run a few errands. Those errands include 2 stores and end up costing me a couple hundred dollars. I’m certain Doc is wishing I had just driven home. Sorry. I’m about 15 minutes from the boys, but guess what??? The road is CLOSED! Once again I am following detour signs and cursing the never ending road construction that takes place on every road I need to travel.

I get the boys and take them to the pool. Because I am a cool mom and it’s only 30 minutes away. The sky is getting darker, but I drive on. Pool is under a thunder delay, but will reopen in 10 minutes. I wait for a few minutes, check the radar, ask the boys one last time if they really want to stay and then take off.

I am home for approximately 75 minutes before Boy Wonder calls me. It’s raining. Back in the car. Pick up the boys. Take Boy Wonder’s friend home and then turn around to pick up Jagger from the groomer. Remember the road closure from earlier? I didn’t. Until it was too late. Detour signs were sprouting up and I was pretty certain I remembered a short cut from when I was in high school. Boy Wonder and I traveled the same section of road FOUR times before my high school memory served me right and I found Pittsburgh Rd! #forthelove

Jagger is groomed and smells good. Back in the car. Determined not to get lost again, I take a different route home. Guess what?? Another effing road is closed! I cannot make this up. I follow the big orange signs and eventually get home.

Handsome boy.

I have 5 minutes to change clothes for my tennis match and race to be on time for my manicure. Yes, I said tennis match and manicure in the same sentence. I am a girl. I like pretty nails and I like tennis. I also cuss, drink beer and shoot guns. So there.

Mani was complete after 35 minutes.

Strawberry Margarita

I had 10 minutes to stop home before my match. On my way home the sky opened and it rained like God was really serious. This led to my match being cancelled and me cracking open a cold beer.

The bus stayed in the garage for the rest of the evening. She was happy.

The bus.

I drank beer, did some batting practice with Sunshine and made crepes for dessert. The bus and I logged approximately 107 miles for a total of 2 hours and 42 minutes in the car. According to Mapquest, the IRS owes me $57.51!

Mama said there’d be days like this. #peaceout

Live Creatively,

EIGHT More Days Of Faking It

Posted On May 14, 2017| Leave a reply

Today is Sunday, Mother’s Day in fact. So, Happy Mother’s Day to all you earth dwelling saints who keep your households afloat. One of my gifts from Doc was 45 minutes of the house to myself. Its quiet, too quiet. And I see dishes in the sink. Anyway, today is Sunday which means in a few short hours it will be Monday. Monday means school and school means it is time to fake having my shit together for another 5 days in a row. It’s exhausting. Thank Sweet Jesus that my favorite part of the school year is 8 (school) days away….Summertime!

Sunshine’s Countdown to Summertime!

Truth is; I don’t have my shit together. By mid May my shit is everywhere. Why is May so hard? Perhaps because of it’s name….May.  “May I be jam packed with ‘end of the year’ crap?” “May I eff with your schedule with my unpredictable weather?” “May I cause your eyes to itch and nose to run?” “May I stay brighter longer to ensure late bedtimes?” “May I be the month of projects, recitals, field days, graduations from EVERYTHING, banquets, every sport known to man, moms, finals?” “May I all of a sudden make your yard look unloved and neglected?” “May I nickel and dime you with gifts for mom, teachers, coaches, bus drivers?” “May I tease you with my sunny days when you have 16 places to be that are all inside?” “May I drive you absolutely bat-shit crazy?”

May. It’s my reason for becoming a Grand Champion F.A.K.E.R. By May I am faking everything. The lunches I pack. The emails I respond to. The volunteer roles I accept. The enthusiasm of attending concerts. The excitement over another soccer tournament. I fake it all. Why? Not because I don’t enjoy a good choir concert with lots of voice-changing boys singing songs I don’t know or planning Pioneer Day for 125 third graders where I get to dress in a bonnet and apron. Not because I don’t want to celebrate the incredible souls who educated my children all year or chaperone a field day for a bunch of kids hopped up on sugar. I love all of those things. Just not in May. By May I am tired. Like dog-tired. So I fake it. I smile and say yes. I throw some lunchmeat on a bun and remind myself which kid eats which brand of applesauce. I fill the water bottles and kiss my babes as I usher them out the door. Then I roll my eyes and prioritize my list of things to do. Not my list for the week or even the day, my  ‘what the hell do I need to have completed and dropped off, mailed, wrapped, signed, ordered or baked in the next few hours’ list. I literally fake having my shit together. And until now none of you were the wiser because I rarely fail or admit defeat. I will cry in the shower (if I managed to leave time for one) or complain to my bff’s. But I will complete the task and complete it on time. I may wrap the gift while sitting at a red light or charge the video camera while at the concert. I cannot let behavior like this bother me or I will literally combust.

So for the month of May I embrace my Fake Self. I make it to all of the events with everything I am supposed to have and I smile, hug, laugh and genuinely enjoy myself. But please get the hell out of my way because I need to rush to the grocery for a snack I signed up to bring to the next event and if I don’t leave right away I will be late. And worse, snack less!

Live Creatively,

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Game Changer: Sweat X Sport

Posted On January 31, 2017| 1 Reply

Do you live with an adolescent boy?

Does your boy wear sneakers?

Do his sneakers emit an odor that takes your breath away?

IF you answered yes to these questions, then this Game Changer is for you. Sweat X Sport Spray is the extreme odor eliminator….really, it says so on the bottle. And the bottle doesn’t lie. It advertises that it ‘gets the funk out’ and does it ever.

8oz_odor_new

Boy Wonder’s shoe drawer smells disgusting. And once he left his soccer cleats in my car overnight. Dry heaving commenced. His life was threatened and he is no longer allowed to take his shoes off in said car. Cleats are kept in the garage at all times. No exceptions.

I keep my bottle of Sweat X Sport in the mudroom…just a few feet from his shoe drawer. A few sprays into the drawer every few days and we can continue to live in harmony.

God Bless the mama who invented Sweat X Sport! It’s $12.99 a bottle. Go ahead and stock up!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

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Yoga Farts

Posted On January 21, 2017| Leave a reply

No-one warned me that yoga induces farting. Before you get all excited, no I wasn’t the one who broke wind. In order to fully enjoy this post to its fullest, read the preceding one here.

Anyway….I returned for my second Beginner Yoga Class last Sunday. I arrived 15 minutes early and was not forced to sit in the front row. I opted for the second row. Ghandi scared the shit out of me. She was sitting behind a desk in a dark corner of the room. I didn’t notice her as I unrolled my mat, grabbed by foam brick and gracefully lowered myself to the floor. Just as I settled in, she said “Hey, what was your name?”. It took me a second to locate her. I informed her she scared me, she laughed. Apparently I had not made a lasting impression on her in Class #1. After scoping out the room and noticing how freakishly quiet it was…no one was talking to each other. I was dying to chat with someone. Everyone was stretching. So, I stretched too. As I stretched I noticed the tray of salt was back. None of the intents from last week had been completely absorbed into the salt. Whew. Some dude took the spot to my right. He had a whole system for setting up his yoga space. He unrolled, re-rolled and unrolled his mat a couple of times before placing it on the floor. Then he repositioned it a time or two, moving it about a quarter of an inch each time. He took 2 foam bricks and stacked them on top of each other between his mat and the wall. Once he sat on his mat he moved his bricks closer to his mat. I thought he was finally settled so I turned my attention to the couple who were landing in front of me. Dude to my right popped up on his mat, and stripped off his pants in a single, swift motion. Thank Buddha he had shorts on. Praying to Buddha that he was also wearing compression unders! In case you’re wondering I have incredible peripheral vision. This allows me to stare at intriguing strangers without being noticed. It comes in handy.

Ghandi started our class by apologizing for last week. Apparently she was all hopped up on cold & sinus medication and she hoped she taught us the poses correctly. Like we would know….. BEGINNER YOGA! Remember last week how I told you the room was packed? Not a single space open? This class was a different story. We were easily down 6 Yogi’s. Maybe Ghandi’s pit hair was too much for them?  Ghandi taught us how to meditate. Meditating is not easy. How does one let their mind go blank while remembering to do the special yoga breathing? Since my lower body instantly rejected lotus pose, I sat criss cross applesauce. I decided to tease my chakra by having one palm face up and one palm face down. Half receiving energy, half closed off. I quickly switched to all receiving because it was more comfy. And my criss cross applesauce was starting to hurt so I stretched out my legs. I glanced around and everyone had their eyes closed, so I added that too. My mind was still very busy. Ghandi told us to give all the crazy monkeys in our brain a job. Crazy monkeys? Loved it! Pretty much described my thoughts perfectly. I told my monkeys to just breathe. Of course I spent a minute picturing little monkeys in my head! I will definitely need to revisit this meditation gig.

As promised Ghandi taught us Warrior 1 and 2 and as a gift threw in Reverse Warrior. Being a Warrior was fun. I was secretly hoping there was a Warrior Princess pose, because I would have rocked it.

Ghandi was so pleased with our progress that she took us through several vinyasas. Vinyasas are the flows…the way the moves/poses run together 😉 Are you ready? I thought I was. Here is what our ‘flow’ consisted of: Chair Pose-Standing Forward Fold-Half Forward Bend/Half Lift-Plank-Cobra-Downward Facing Dog-Crescecnt Lunge, via lifting your leg high and swinging it under you with your foot landing between your hands which are firmly planted on the mat. My foot rebelled and landed more under my belly. G suggested I use my hand to get my foot in place. Ugh. Next was Warrior 2-Reverse Vinyasa (which is back to Downward Facing Dog, then into Cobra, back to Plank. Here is when Ghandi got bat-shit crazy….she told us that from Plank we could just hop our feet back to our hands (which were on the mat) I had to laugh. Hop my feet up to my hands which were pressed onto my mat?? Hell no. One day maybe, but not today. I ‘walked’ my feet into my hands and finished out my Reverse with Half Forward Bend/Half Lift to Standing Forward Fold and finally back to Mountain Pose. Oh, did I mention that we did this like THREE times in a row? My special yoga breath was replaced with “oh my God, I’m going to die” breaths. Sweat was rolling down my back and my palms were getting slippery on my mat. Yoga IS a workout. Definitely not an hour of stretching on a padded mat in a dark room while pretty music plays in the background. I liked it.

G said we looked good, but a little practice on our own this week would be awesome. Cooling consisted of some Easy Seated Twists, Seated Forward Folds…aka…touching your toes while seated without bending your knees. Funny. She threw in a Happy Baby (still not my favorite), a Supine Twist to both sides and the good old Savasana, the corpse pose. YAY! Let me go back to that Supine Twist I just mentioned. Here’s a pic of what it looks like:

Very satisfying stretch. And unfortunately too satisfying and relaxing for the Dude who took up residency to my right, remember him? We ‘supined’ to our left and then to our right. From here we went into fetal pose. I’ll let Homer show you what it looks like:

So, we are facing to the right, which means from my fetal position I can see Dude’s backside. G tells us to rock a bit and just enjoy the stretch. I’m in yoga bliss when Dude farts. It wasn’t a loud, dramatic one. It was an airy one, but with force. You know what I’m talking about. Loud enough for me to hear and for Dude to know with certainty that I heard it, but quiet enough that no one else was privy to it’s existence. For the love of Buddha! I quickly rolled out of Fetal Position and up to my feet. I kept looking his direction as we rolled our mats and gathered our belongings. I was ready to give him my “REALLY?” face. He didn’t look my way. I’d like to say it was because he was mortified and scared of me. Dude was just too busy going back through his detailed routine of packing up and putting his pants on.

Next class I will arrive 20 minutes early and position myself between two nice ladies who wouldn’t dare toot in yoga class. Namaste my ass.

Live Creatively,

 

 

 

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OMG Natalie’s 9!

Posted On January 18, 2017| 3 Replies

Emojis have invaded our everyday life and Sunshine is so emojinal that we HAD to celebrate her 9th year on earth with everything emoji!! I bought her shirt from madgrrl on Etsy. Leggings from Justice. Headband from local shop, Cute As A Button.

Sidebar: Sunshine’s birthday is September 26th, so this post is indeed a bit tardy!

Myself, Mama Moji had a ball planning this shindig.

I started with the invitation. Sunshine’s favorite colors are teal, pink & purple.

OMG, right? Buy it from invitationsbyKATRINA on Etsy. The shop owner even made me these matching Thank You cards:

And these bag tags:

Somehow I forgot to snap a pic of what went in the bags. Emoji Pez, a cookie and a small Emoji keychain!

Thankfully my mom was in town and was my DEO (Decorating Executive Officer). Nothing was left undecorated….

 

 

 

Look closely…Emoji faces replaced Sunshine’s face in all of her pictures.

I found the Emoji faces, etc. at our local teacher store. Score!

 

We spent months collecting these pillows!

Those pillows above inspired Doc to come up with the craft. I like crafts. Boy Wonder is too cool for party crafts now, but not my Sunshine. Doc said the girls should create their own Emoji pillows and that my mom could sew them together. GENIUS! One call to my mom and she was off and running. She made small round pillows from yellow fabric, left them unstuffed and with enough room to fit a piece of cardboard between the fabric layers. She’s pretty awesome like that. The girls used fabric markers to decorate their pillows and then stuff them. My mom later stitched them closed and Sunshine delivered them a few days after the party. TA-DA!

The girls began crafting their pillow as they arrived.

 

As the girls finished they moved to the living room and worked on an Emoji puzzle that we had set up.

Next on the agenda: GAMES!

I like stations. They provide order and ensure everyone gets to play each game. I assigned an adult (or older brother) to facilitate each game and keep track of when to switch. This allowed me to clean up the pillow-crafting table and turn it into a dessert table!

Games:

Mystic Ball & War: Emoji themed Magic Ball & Emoji playing cards.

    

 

Twister: I lovey-faced a few of the yellow twister dots! Buy a Twister Ultimate game for your next party!

FYI: This is a double Twister game…

Memory: I used an old Memory game, painted the picture side black, attached an emoji sticker (2 of each) and decoupaged it to the card.

 

 

 

 

 

Ping Pong: Regular rules, using an Emoji ping pong ball of course!

 

Pin the Sunglasses on the Emoji: Bought this cute poster at the Scholastic Book Fair.

Pass the Poop: Using an Emoji poop pillow and some music!

Boy Wonder represented with the Poop Emoji shirt. The girls “hated” having him and his friend Z at the party! 😉

Where to Buy:

Mystic Emoji Ball

Emoji Stickers

Emoji Puzzle

Emoji Playing Cards

Emoji Poop Pillow

Emoji Ping Pong Balls

Emoji Pez

Emoji Toilet Paper

Emoji Balloons

Time to EAT!

Emoji food was easy. I just scrolled through the food emoji’s on my phone and picked a few items that would work. I printed the emoji’s on a label, slapped it on a table tent and was done. Easy Peasy.

 

 

Emoji Napkins courtesy of Party City: I always buy themed/fun napkins, but plain colored plates, cups and cutlery. Saves a ton of money and you can reuse the plates & cutlery later.

Emoji Plates courtesy of Me (a sticker attached to the underside of the plate with packing tape!):

Girls used these for snacks.

Drink Cups! Each one had a different emoji.

And what Emoji party would be complete with out some Emoji gum balls?

Buy: Emoji Gumball Machine and Gumballs

Emoji Cookies courtesy of Cookie Crumbs:

Emoji Cake courtesy of Oh My Gosh Cake!

 

And for Sunshine’s friends with allergies, Emoji Rice Krispie Treats:

 

Sunshine doesn’t really like being the center of attention, but she puts on a brave face while her sweet friends serenade her.

 

 

The birthday girl with her Gramma:


And with my in-laws:

Even Jagger had an Emoji shirt: I made it at Uber Prints. Super easy. Super fun.

Emoji Pup!

And of course Team Mathis represented the theme…

Aren’t we silly?

 

Doc, Gramma & Boy Wonder’s shirts came from Target.

Here’s a close-up of the shirt I designed for myself, again at Uber Prints:

 

I really, really cannot believe she is NINE. OMG! #bestpartyever

 

Live Creatlively,

 

 

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{nah-mas-tay}

Posted On January 9, 2017| 2 Replies

Yesterday I took the first step in becoming a real life Yogini. I’ve been an imposter for years. I wear the yoga pants, the yoga pull-overs and the yoga scarves. I even own a pretty nice yoga mat. So why did I actually take a class you ask? Because Sunshine can touch her toes and pull her leg up behind her head. I cannot. She thinks it’s funny that I can’t. I was able to at one point in my life, but not anymore. I’d like to silence her giggles, so off to Beginner Yoga I went.

I only decided to do this last week, so the Yoga Studio in my town was booked. I took it as a sign from Buddha that I should maybe learn at a studio where no-one knew me! So, I traveled a few towns away. I allowed PLENTY of time so I could arrive early and grab a spot in the back of class. No-one needed to see my booty in my worn out yoga pants. My plans were spoiled because I couldn’t find the studio. Seriously the sign on the door was so tiny. I drove by it twice before noticing it. I guess big, sparkly signs are not very yogaish.

I had about 5 minutes until class was due to begin. I rushed to the door and flung it open. Guess what? There’s no lobby. No reception area. Not even room for a door mat. The door opened INTO the actual studio. Bam! And the room was full. Heads spun to see who was blasting through the door. Ugh. I half-smiled and assessed the room. There were at least 20 people sitting on their mats. Barefooted and ready to honor the universe. I noticed a small cubby and coat rack to my left. Off came my boots, my scarf and my coat. I stuffed my over-sized, non-yogaish purse in a cubby, grabbed my mat and had no choice but to head to the front of the room. By front, I mean mere inches from the instructor’s mat. Hi Yogis, I’m Mandy. For the love.

My teacher (I’ll call her Gandhi) looked to be about 24 years old. She had a ring on her toe, one on her thumb and a very large one going through the center part of her nose. She’s way cooler at her young age than I will ever be. Guess what else she had……

Hairy Armpits. Not hairy as in hadn’t shaved in a few days or even a few weeks. Full on bushy hair. And lots of it. I’ll admit I had to stifle the church giggles and was so thankful I hadn’t dragged a friend with me to class. I just don’t get it. I actually think men should shave their pits as well. Not pretty. But very yogaish I sure. Did I mention how close my mat was to hers and her hairy pits? Awesome.

Gandhi was very cool. She said ‘shit’ and ‘hippy dippy’, had a bunch of tattoos and rolled her eyes. If I was 20 years younger and had an ounce of her coolness we would be best friends. With Gandhi’s guidance in 4 short weeks I am going to develop a deep and lasting sense of awareness for my body, find my satya (truth) and become ahimsa (non-judgmental). Girl has her work cut out for her!

First thing Gandhi had us do was write our intent on a small piece of paper and put it in a tray of salt that was adorned with a candle. I’m not kidding….

Thank Buddha she explained what the hell she meant by our ‘intent’. Basically, why we are taking the class. The paper wasn’t big enough for me to tell my story about Sunshine’s crazy flexible legs and my jealousy of them, plus I am pretty sure jealousy and ahimsa do not go hand in hand. I tried to cheat off my neighbor, but he was quick to fold his paper in half and head to the salt tray. I wrote “To get out of my comfort zone”. Not exactly my intent for joining the class, but it was true. I stuck my card in the salt tray and headed back to my mat. In case you are wondering, the salt is going to absorb our intents and remind us of something which I cannot remember for the life of me. Gandhi will have the tray out at each class. I am too practical to buy into the whole ‘salt absorbing our intents’, but it was pretty to look at and looking at it will remind me that being out of my comfort zone is good. I’m certain Gandhi is going to read our cards….I should have made mine more profound. Dammit.

Gandhi taught us how to breathe so we sound like we’re a bunch of sighing teenagers. The yoga name is Ujjayi. Man, did it feel good to breathe like that! She chose me to be her model for Mountain Pose. I was pretty awesome at it. So thankful she didn’t choose me to model the Plank. Ouch. Gandhi assured me that it was totally normal to shake uncontrollably while holding Plank. Throughout the hour I was a child, a cobra, a dog, a happy baby, a boat, a cat and a cow. Whew! During Child’s pose she told us to push our belly into our thighs. Instant success on that part for me…they were already touching each other. Boat pose was a total bitch. It reminded me of  when I had to reach up and grab behind my knees while in labor. Gawd. Gandhi encouraged us to “challenge” ourselves and remove our hands from behind our knees and just hover there on our tailbones with our core all nice and tight. No amount of ujjayi breathing could make Boat pose easier! Happy Baby pose made me feel really fat and in Downward Dog I was forced to stare down my own shirt. I am sure by the end of week 4 all of this will work itself out, right?

I was however a rockstar at the Sun Salutation and even made it through a vinyasa more than once. I have to admit that my favorite pose was Savasana. It’s the corpse pose. Flat on my back, all stretched out, eyes closed and breathing. If Gandhi would have quietly left the room I think we all would have fallen asleep!

I really liked the class. I felt relaxed and stretched. And maybe a bit taller. I brought home my cheat sheet so I can practice before next week. Gandhi has promised to teach us Warrior 1, Chair and Crescent. Sadly I’m pretty sure Crescent does not involve those yummy rolls.

Namaste…..we are united, we are the same, we are one.

Live Creatively,

 

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