Monthly Archives: November 2014

Remembering My Sandy Hook Promise

Posted On November 25, 2014| 6 Replies


My children did not die almost two years ago within the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary and I have thanked the dear Lord for that over and over again. As I watched in horror along with the rest of the world and tried to find the words to explain the pure evil to my kids I made a silent promise. I promised that I would never send Noah or Natalie to school feeling unloved or upset. I make a point to kiss them good-bye, look them in the eye and tell them “I love you” and that I cannot wait to see them after school.

Today my silent promise was put to the test.

Natalie moves at her own pace. She thoroughly enjoys life and always takes the time to stop and smell the roses, or snuggle her dog, or play school, or read a book, or flip her hair in the mirror. We are usually rushing her out the door at the last second and giving her several reminders (through clenched teeth) that we are waiting on her. She always apologizes, sometimes heartfelt, sometimes sarcastically.

I wake her at 7am. She doesn’t leave the house until 8:20am to walk to the bus stop. Most days the hour and twenty minutes is sufficient. Today it was not. Instead of brushing her teeth, combing her hair, packing her snack and getting her socks on, she laid on the floor with her puppy and snuggled him. I was cleaning the kitchen, chatting with Noah and thinking about getting dressed so I was oblivious. I walked into the mudroom to find her lying on the floor. I shook my head and put Jagger in his crate since she did not follow directions. This was met with a dramatic, “Noooooooo”. By this time it was 8:16am and I told Noah to put on his shoes and coat. Mind you, she is still lying on the floor listing all of the reasons that make me a mean mama. I told her to put on her shoes and coat, that she would not have time to brush her teeth (this was not a punishment), comb her hair (this could potentially ruin her day) or pack her snack (this was horrible). She then announced that she needed to go number 2. SERIOUSLY? My patience were toast. I raised my voice……I told her she did not manage her time well (met with a blank stare) and told her to hurry up and go potty.

I plastered Noah’s face with kisses and sent him on his merry way. Sweet boy asked if he should ask Mr. Dan, the bus driver, if he could wait for Natalie. I laughed as I answered “no”. Natalie and I would be riding to school together and no doubt I would be lecturing her the whole way. I was going to make her understand and hold her accountable for her lack of followthrough.

My plan was quickly replaced with a much better plan…..

I took a seat on the mudroom bench and looked at her sitting on the potty. She looked at me and said, “Mama, I’m sorry I didn’t get ready. It’s just that I love Jagger so much and I can’t stop snuggling him. I never want to leave him.”

I am pretty sure that was actually God tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me of my Sandy Hook Promise. Instead of rushing her out the door and filling our ride to school with a lecture about time management, I sat with her while she went potty and told her that I understood.  You, see….I feel the same way about her, Noah and Daddy. I always ask for one more hug, one more kiss and 5 more minutes of snuggles. She laughed, I held back the tears. We spent the next 10 minutes on the floor. She in my lap and Jagger in her lap. I told her I loved her and I apologized for losing my cool. She of course kissed my cheek and forgave me instantly.

On the ride to school we chatted about a better plan for our mornings. One that included some snuggle time with Jagger. She was excited to be a part of the plan and might actually be a little sad that she has to wait 6 days to try it. She gave me a huge hug and kiss before jumping out of my car to enter her school. She was going to start her school day with a smile instead of a frown. I took a minute to pray for all of those Sandy Hook families who are still missing their babies and would give anything to have the morning I had with Natalie, the good and bad. I also thanked God for keeping my babies safe and asked him to help me be a more patient mama.

In honor of the lost lives and broken families of Sandy Hook, I promised to never send my kids to school feeling unloved or upset. This is a promise I intend to keep. God Bless.

Live Creatively,


Kid’s Payday!

Posted On November 24, 2014| 4 Replies

I was asked by several peeps to share how we handle allowance in our house, so here you go!

Piggy bank

Nat’s favorite pig!


The Mathis kids get allowance. Payday is Sunday. If Sunday comes and goes and the money was not doled out it is usually brought to my attention before breakfast is served Monday morning. My kids like having their own money and they usually know exactly how much they have! Kids with their own money can be a wonderful thing!

I remember wanting my own money when I hit middle school. Before that I can recall getting paid for my grades and getting some dough in my birthday cards, but I guess mom and dad paid for everything else. I am sure my want for more money had something to do with Jordache jeans, gold chains and Aquanet! My mom came up with chores. As I look back, they all involved cleaning. Dusting. Sweeping. Washing. And to put it nicely, my mom is a bit of a control freak when it comes to cleaning her house. There is the Linda way and the wrong way. I quickly learned that if I wanted to get paid, I would do it her way. I cleaned. She paid. It worked out beautifully.

Team Mathis allowance is based on age. Noah is nine, he gets $9 every week. Natalie is seven, she gets $7. Right now she feels shafted, but I keep reminding her that when Noah stops receiving allowance she will keep getting it……that usually brings a slight grin to her face! My hubby is a money guy. He suggested we give allowance and researched different ways to make it happen. We both were on board with not assigning allowance to chores. I am not a fan of chore charts simply because it is more work for me! Thinking of the chores, making the chart, assigning a dollar amount to the chore, keeping track of who does their chores and then who picks up the slack if they don’t get done? Instead, we give allowance for being a member of Team Mathis. That’s it. You get paid for being a team member.

Team Mathis Responsibilities include:

-dishes cleared & cleaned (bring your dishes to the sink & when asked, wash them & load dishwasher)

-trash: emptied, curb, garage (gather the trash from the house, load the big trash cans, haul it to the curb and bring the empty cans back to the garage)

-make your bed (every morning to the best of your ability and help change sheets when asked)

-fold laundry & put away (I will wash, all will fold and all will put their own clothes away)

-get mail

-take care of jagger (potty breaks, walks, feeding, scooping poop)

-clean room (pick up your stuff and put it away)

-clean playroom (put stuff where it belongs)

-wash counters/table/floor (wipe down the counters and table after meals, sweep crumbs from floor)

At the end of this list it says, “…..just to name a few. We help one another at all times because, It’s a privilege to be a Mathis“. You can read more about this in my post from a few days ago.

This is a gentle reminder that we are indeed a team and as our days unfold your duties (my kids laugh every time I say duty, do yours?) may change. Being a member of Team Mathis means that you are ready to pitch in and help with lots of things, even if they are not on a list!

On Sundays, we hand over their pay. BUT, they don’t get to keep it all. That would not teach them anything. We don’t take taxes. We don’t charge them rent. And we don’t make them pay for their insurance. We do make them give a portion to charity and put a portion towards an investment. I use these envelopes to keep it all straight:

Allowance Envelopes



You can buy them here.

Here’s how Sunday nights go down. I bring out the cash (all ones), they pull out their wallets and envelopes and we begin. I count out their allowance and make them count it back to me so we are in agreement. They keep about half of their allowance for themselves. From the remaining half of their allowance, 75% goes to Investing and 25% goes to Charity. This is easy when their age is even. We are in an odd age year this year and I do not want to deal with coins, so it is not as perfect.

Noah’s $9.00 = $5 for himself, $3 to invest, $1 to charity.

Natalie’s $7.00 = $4 for herself, $2 to invest, $1 to charity.

They ‘pay’ their envelopes. They have both emptied their charity envelopes a couple of times to give to Pennies for Patients at school. It’s pretty cool to see them give back. Jeremy is in the process of working on a good investment for them. They like the idea of their money making more money all by itself! They are allowed and encouraged to keep readily available spending money in their wallets, but they also have bank accounts where the bulk of it goes. This way it is out of the house and safe, but also accessible if they need to withdraw any. Once their wallets or envelopes are bursting at the seams (ones take up a lot of space), I buy the dollar bills back from them. They love getting a $20, then saving for a $50 or a $100! And it saves me running to the bank every time my stash of ones is depleted.

Allowance cannot be taken away for behavior or being a crappy team member. Once it is given, it belongs to them. It can be used to replace items they have lost, broken or destroyed. A couple examples include:

New puppy = put your shoes away! First pair of Nike slides he chewed, I replaced. Second pair, Noah paid for. Amazing how the slides get put away now.

Balls in the living room = broken frame. Warnings were given, play continued, frame was broken, frame was replaced using their own money. Ouch!

Other than that, their money is theirs to spend. Within reason, of course. Sometimes I say no; it is my job to protect them, right? And sometimes I silently sigh as they spend their money on another app, their 20th pair of Elite socks or more doll accessories. But that is the point of having your own money, being able to spend it on what makes you happy.

It has worked out well so far. They are learning about money and how to save and spend it. We aren’t buying them everything they want. And that makes us all happy!

How do you handle money with your kids?

Live Creatively,



Disney World: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Posted On November 14, 2014| 1 Reply

A Boo to you, Happy Halloween! It’s really not so scary!

This is one of our favorite Disney things to do. It is a night at the Magic Kingdom with special parades, castle shows, trick-or-treating and the best fireworks you will ever see. It is a separate ticket, so check for dates and plan accordingly. Worth. Every. Cent. Check it out here.

It was raining on our night for the Halloween Party so we broke out the Disney ponchos, hats and umbrellas and went with smiles on our faces. It had never rained on us before, so we figured it was our turn.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


Did I mention it was raining? I meant pouring! We were soaked before we made it to Space Mountian, but we were still smiling! There is no whining in Disney! We spent the first rain-soaked hour in Tomorrowland enjoying several rides on Space Mountain, the People Mover and Stitch’s Great Escape (not a fan).

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

I love Nat’s face!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


We walked over to Liberty Square to find Tiana and paused to check out the castle…

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Tiana was so happy to see us. Remember, the rain doesn’t bother her….she was a frog for a while! Ribbit, ribbit!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Tiana & Natalie

It wouldn’t be a proper Disney Halloween without a visit to the Haunted Mansion…. this was Natalie’s first time in the mansion. It is a bit creepy at night, but she liked it! No photography is allowed inside, so you will have to check it out for yourself! Here’s a few from the outside:


Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

We were most excited about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train this year. We saw it being built last year and had read all the rave reviews before going. So, we grabbed a few hotdogs and got in line to wait. The wait said 45 minutes, but it ended up only being about 25. Disney went all out on this ride. The line leads you through the mine where you can play a gemstone video game and spin giant barrels of treasure to reveal hidden pictures on the ceiling. NICE! My post on the Magic Kingdom has photos…it was too dark (and rainy) during this visit.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Look at our faces, you can tell this is a fun ride!

Snow White brought us good luck, by the time we exited the Mine Train the rain had stopped! Off went our ponchos and down came the umbrellas. Now if only we had brought a change of socks!

We never leave Magic Kingdom without riding “it’s a small world”. We like to torture the kids and get that song stuck in their heads for hours. And we always call my dad and put the phone on speaker so he can sing along!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Taking advantage of the short lines, we also rode Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh and Mad Tea Party.

The fireworks show, ‘Happy Hallowishes’ goes off at 9:30. It is beyond amazing. It’s loud, bright, bold and set to the tunes of some of our favorite villain songs! This year we watched from behind the castle (in Fantasyland) and it was great. It seemed like we could reach out and touch the bursts. Of course, watching from Main Street is always a good choice as well.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


During this party is one of the best times to meet your favorite characters. There are less people and the lines are not too bad. Before Natalie and I sought out Elsa and Anna and while the boys went back to speed through a few more rides on Space Mountain we did a little shopping for our very own Olaf and a new sweater…..Frozen style!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

My mini Elsa!

Elsa was first. She was very glamorous, but not very over-the-top Disney….I guess that’s why she’s the Ice Queen.



Next up was Rapunzel. She was chatting about Flynn and Natalie asked her about her hair. She was very personable.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Cinderella was there too! She is always so ‘spot on’. She made Natalie use her manners and reminded me to have her home by midnight!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


Finally, we made it to Anna. Man, was she great! She talked so fast. She noticed Natalie’s Olaf and was cracking jokes about him. She asked if we had seen Kristoff in the park and had Natalie mesmerized. Well done casting department. She is the reason Natalie decided to be Anna for trick-or-treat!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


Here’s a look at the boys riding Space Mountain for the 226th time:

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


We met up with the boys near the castle to watch Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade. We opted for the second parade because it is less crowded. Before we found the boys, Natalie posed in front of her favorite castle…..

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party


We found Jeremy and Noah and enjoyed the parade. It is an awesome parade. All of the villains join in the fun as well as the gravediggers from the mansion. The song is catchy and I will bet several Disney Dollars (yes, they exist) that you will be singing it days after the party!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Disney does Halloween well. Next year the kids think we should dress up. I guess my Disney Halloween shirts are not cutting it anymore. We will see……

Live Creatively,



It’s a privilege to be a (insert your last name here)!

Posted On November 10, 2014| 2 Replies

I have a really smart neighbor. I will call her PW. Since meeting her about 5 years ago, she has shared many parenting tips with me. Her kids are older….one in college, two in high school. They are sweet, hardworking, polite kids who genuinely care about each other and love their mom! Why wouldn’t I pick her brain for ideas?!

Many moons ago she mentioned that in their house they make it clear that it is a privilege to be a member of their family. I loved this! She had nailed it. It was my mission to make this mantra a part of our daily lives.

I started mentioning it when the kids were happy about something….where we were going for dinner, when we surprised them with a movie, when we let them stay up to watch TV, when they had donuts for breakfast, when we took a trip, etc, etc, etc. Every time their faces lit up and mouths cracked a smile because of something we were doing, I said “It’s a privilege to be a Mathis“. It didn’t take too long before they asked why I was saying that all the time. I happily explained:

It’s a privilege to be a



-we are alive and healthy, we have a roof over our heads, food to eat and clothes to wear, we know how to laugh and have fun together, we show our affection, we are a team and no one cares more about you than your team.

I kept it simple and it worked. They got it and agreed! From this, Team Mathis was born. Team Mathis means we stick together, don’t cause each other pain (physical or emotional), play fair and support one another ALL THE TIME. We made some simple guidelines as reminders. I avoided using the term ‘rules’ as we all know that rules are meant to be broken.


-asked & answered (my favorite! Instead of answering the same question over and over again, I just say “asked & answered”. You may not like my answer, but an answer was given, so stop asking)

-no name calling, be kind (simple, yet so important)

-no hurting, be nice (again, so simple, but hard to remember in the heat of an argument)

-less tattling, work it out or walk away

-no electronics on Team Mathis Night (a night when we hang out as a team)

-homework = no whining, just do it (for goodness sake, I didn’t assign it so don’t be mad at me)

-practice music/sports with a smile (you asked to participate, so step up)

-electronics only during free time (free time is announced)

-no interrupting, “excuse me”

-take care of Jagger, he’s a Mathis too

-use your manners

-say you’re sorry & take responsibility for your actions

Of course, if my family was perfect then these rules of fair play would be followed at all times. But, we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We hurt each other’s feelings. And that sucks, but it is life. We are still learning how to say ‘sorry’ and mean it and how to be in control of our actions. Something we all strive for on a daily basis!

What this has done is given us some dialogue. When the kids are fighting, we can remind them that we are a team. That the 4 of us were put together for a reason and we are going to be together forever. We wouldn’t let someone else call us names or pinch the hairs on our arms, so why would we do it to each other? It doesn’t always work and sometimes one of us needs to be removed from a situation, given time to cool down and regroup and then come back to the team. I am sure my neighbor’s kids fight too, but there is genuine love and respect between them and that is what I am shooting for! I will not give up!

I had a wall decal made for our pantry. It hangs above the door. In the pantry is also where our Team Mathis Fair Play list is located. Everyone is in the panty every day, so it seemed like the logical place! Order your own sign here.



It truly is a privilege to be a part of a loving family. I was lucky enough to grow up in one and I want my kids to realize how lucky they are. There are loads of children in the world who would happily change places with them. And if they are not a team player, they might get traded!

JUST KIDDING, of course!

I would love to steal your ideas on how your family works as a team, so please share!

Live Creatively,



Halloween Decor, Mathis Style

Posted On November 6, 2014| 1 Reply

Since the stores are busting at the seams with Christmas decorations, I thought I needed to hurry up and post my Halloween Decor blog! I love Christmas, but it feels like it comes earlier and earlier each year.

With Natalie’s birthday being at the end of September, I wait until October 1st to drench my house in orange and black. Skeletons, witches, pumpkins, rats….we have it all. My mom always decorated for Halloween, so it seemed natural. The kids get into it and it’s fun to switch things up a bit. Over the years we have accumulated several bins worth of ghoulish decorations. And yes, my bins for Halloween are orange, black and purple, so they are easily spotted in the garage. My bin system will be covered in a later blog, promise!

Here is a look at our Bootiful house: (I took the pictures at night for a spookier effect!)


I potted pumpkins instead of mums. I kill mums. Every. Year.




Love the tombstones!




Burlap bags of dried weeds screams fall, right?



Some how I missed getting a picture of the giant spiders I hang near the garage and they are already packed away, because it is NOVEMBER! Next year I promised Noah that we would have skeletons in the yard, ghosts in the trees and a fog machine. Watch out neighbors, my boy has big plans!

The inside is what I love most…..




Every year I frame a picture of the kids dressed up. It’s fun finding the perfect frame and we all love looking back in time. I cannot believe we have 10 years worth of pictures.


I love crows! Not in real life, of course!



Our dancing Frank & Wicked Witch and the broomstick floats around the floor!


The dining room ends up looking a little fancier than the rest of the house:


A frightful place to dine!



The kitchen:


Halloween ornaments adorn my old gate above my sink.



Mr. Crow looking for something to EAT.


Halloween Halloween Halloween


Spooky table decorations, rats keeping us company while we eat and a furry 8-legged pal hangs from above. Boo!






Random little decorations. Frank and Ghostface race each other during breakfast!




We have several of these hanging above the island!





From September-February, there is always a candle burning in the kitchen. It’s crazy how many we go through!


Every year I switch out the plates and cups for the kids. I love that they still get excited about using the ‘vampire blood’ glass or the plate with the bats. Makes eating your veggies easier! Pottery Barn Kids has some cups on sale right now. Check here.

Halloween Halloween


We have several ‘pose-able’ Halloween peeps hanging around the house. When the kids were little, they loved making them dance or scratch their head. Let’s just say that as they get older I sometimes have to PG the positions they choose. My babies are growing up!



This Halloween ‘advent’ calendar is the highlight of October. If I am on the ball, it is hung up and stuffed by October 1st. Most years, it appears sometime the first week of the month and gets stuffed along the way. As you can see, the pockets are small, very small. So, the treats are not big. Many days it is a small candy or quarter. Sometimes a dollar folded up, a pencil (not hidden in the pocket, but they still have to wait until THAT day to get it) and several pockets are filled with slips of paper that lead them to a wrapped gift (small), a coupon for lunch of their choice at school, or a later bedtime. Easy stuff that they think is awesome! I bought it at Pottery Barn years ago and during their post-Halloween sale! Sadly I do not think they make it anymore, but several are floating around Ebay.



My decorations don’t match, they may seem a little gaudy or cheap, but pretty soon my kids won’t care if they eat off of a witch plate or if their mosaic owl artwork is hung up. At that point, after I have shed a few tears and most likely tried to guilt them into liking that stuff again, I will leave the bins in the garage and decorate with glass pumpkins. For now I love my ‘Halloween On Crack’ decorations and pray that my glass pumpkin days are far, far away!

A boo to you and you and you and you!

Live Creatively,





Trick-or-Treating with the Mathis’s

Posted On November 5, 2014| 1 Reply

Tricks and Treats….We love Halloween!

Halloween started early for us this year. We celebrated at the Magic Kingdom with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and again on the Disney Dream with the Halloween on the High Seas cruise.


2014, with Mickey.


We have been munching on mini candy bars and dreaming about the Great Pumpkin for more than a month, but we were still very excited when the 31st finally rolled around. Trick or Treat night is always very fun for us. I hate that the night goes by so quickly….but there is always next year, right?

Lord knows I love a theme, including costumes. Here’s a look at costumes from years past….


2005, our little lion.


2006, woof-woof.


2007, Spidey & his spider.


2008, fireman & his trusty dalmatian..


2008, Disney with Tigger and Pooh.


2009, HRH Natalie & Sir Noah.


2010, Little Red & the Big Bad Wolf.







You can’t have the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red without the Woodsman & Granny:


2010, Woodsman & Granny.


Jeremy & I got to dress up twice that year…Rock Star Party!


2010, Rockstar & his groupie.


2011, Hermione & Draco.



Jeremy and I joined in the Harry Potter madness and Professor Snape and Moaning Myrtle!


2011, Professor Snape & Moaning Myrtle.


2012, Angel-Girl and Ghostface.


2013, Zombie cheerleader & FB player.




And Jeremy took home the trophy for Best Costume for his Slash portrayal at our neighbor’s 80’s Costume Party!


2013, Slash.


2014, Anna, Morph Man & our hotdog!

When the kids were 5 and 3, the Great Pumpkin started to visit on Trick or Treat night. In exchange for their candy they would receive a bag full of Halloween goodies. Before this, their candy just disappeared without them noticing. Now, before you get upset, know that they can keep 20 pieces. 20 pieces just about fills a quart-size baggie. They have never once questioned this and are always excited to spread out their treats and carefully pick their 20 faves. And to be honest neither one of them has ever eaten all 20 pieces….it usually goes in the trash around Easter! Before doing this we weigh their bags. This year Nat’s weighed three pounds (she lasted an hour in the rain) and Noah’s was four pounds for 1.5 hours of begging. Not too shabby! Sometimes we send the candy to work with Jeremy, sometimes we mail it to our amazing troops serving overseas and one year we sold it back to a dentist! This year most of it went to Idaho with Gramma Dortmund to share with Grandpa!

Here’s a look at the first time the Great Pumpkin visited:

Halloween Halloween


Looks like he brought a Princess book and Chapstick! Seriously look at my babies….where has the time gone! I would love to squeeze those cheeks again.

Here they are excited to open their Great Pumpkin gifts this year. I must say I scored big points for these bags….when opened they sing Ghostbusters! SCORE!




Over the years the Great Pumpkin has brought iTunes cards, books, jewelry, movie gift card, gum, stuffed animal, DVD, hair bows….easy stuff, but stuff they will like and use. I (I mean the Great Pumpkin) usually spends less than $20.

I hope your treats were yummy and your tricks were sneaky!

Live Creatively,