Monthly Archives: December 2014

Christmas Decor, Part Two

Posted On December 26, 2014| 3 Replies

Yes, I know that today is the day AFTER Christmas, but as promised, here is a look at how I decorate the outside of our house and our favorite room, the Media Room!

The Exterior:

We pay to have the lights hung on the house and it is a check I gladly write. If you remember, I do not do ladders and always suffer a slight panic attack when Jeremy goes above the third rung. So, to save many moments of distress I insist on hiring it out. I feel The Light Before Christmas does a nice job. If a strand malfunctions they hustle out to fix it. They return the first week of January to take them down. Word of advice, get in touch with them in late October and get on their install list. If you book early you get a discount and can enjoy your lights longer!

Christmas Lights


Here is my front porch:

Christmas Sign

And a few closeups:

Grapevine Trees Christmas Planter Wooden ReindeerChristmas Sign

I know you are all dying over the ‘be MERRY’ sign. Isn’t it great?! You too can have one (for next year). The artist behind the creation is Ashley Adams….. contact her through her Facebook page:  Rustic & Chic Boutique. She made a sign for my entry way too….it will get it’s own blog post in a few weeks!

The tiny ice skates are mine from childhood. I told you my mom saved EVERYTHING! Glad she held on to these. They are kept in the same skate bag I used for many years. I also found my blade sharpener and my favorite outfit: bright red with silver ric-rac. Priceless. You see, my brother and I were going to be the next famous sibling figure skaters. We had high hopes, but not enough passion! Good memories!

The black bucket is from a flea market! Seriously, get some fleas put on your calendar! Pronto.

The wooden reindeer is from Baker’s Village in Shawnee Hills. The grapevine trees are from Cedarbrook Nursery, again in Shawnee Hills. And those beautiful wreaths on the front doors were made by your’s truly! Ok, so I purchased the actual wreath at Cedarbrook, but I bedazzled it! I admit it needs some help….anyone want to spice it up for me for next year? Here’s a clear look:

Grapevine Wreath

I also want to replace these ‘swags’ for next year:

Christmas Swag

I want them BIGGER! And maybe have some ornaments attached? Who’s crafty with evergreen?
Christmas Wreath

This wreath was not made by me…’s way out of my league. A lovely florist created it for me a few years ago. She has since moved out of state or I would be begging for her help.

The Media Room:

We spend quite a bit of time in our Media Room. It has the comfiest couch, biggest TV and a fridge that is stocked with my favorite refreshments. I bought this tree at Hobby Lobby and I love it. I hope the lights last forever because I never want to be without it. I decorate it with garland made from pages of old books (The Collection), star ornaments (flea market), mercury glass ornaments (TJ Maxx) and this year I added pretty frames (Restoration Hardware). If you look closely you will see that the frames are pictureless. Yep, this elf did not get that task completed this year. Maybe I will before I take the tree down! The pretty star on top was another flea market find! And the metal bucket the tree sits in is from Home Goods.

Christmas Tree

Ornament Frames Mercury Glass Ornament Vintage Star Ornament

Here are a few more decorations from the Media Room….

Wooden Chalkboard

The wreath is made from paper. I purchased it at The Collection in Powell. The chalkboard is a new addition to the room and I love it! You can have one of your own….Michelle at Wright Interiors will hook you up!

Christmas Beer Stein

Stein and candy canes are from a Flea Market (don’t hate!)

Wooden Christmas Subway Art

One of my favorite subway art signs of all times. I found this little gem at The Morgan House in Shawnee Hills.

Christmas Decor

Like my vintage kitchen island that now serves as a super chic table? I bought it a few years ago at one of my favorite Flea Markets. It was missing the two bottom drawers so my handy-dandy Daddy made me some! Noah painted them and I must say he did a bang up job! The “Deck the Halls” sign came from a shop in Idaho. The large silver vase and decorative twigs are from Crate and Barrel. I am drawing a complete blank on the silver trees, but I am guessing The Morgan House. And that cute little glittery deer came from a flea market too.

Mercury Glass Trees Glitter Reindeer

So there you have it…..the rest of my Christmas decor. A day late, but who’s keeping track?!

Live Creatively,




Christmas Decor; It’s Out of Control!

Posted On December 17, 2014| 1 Reply

I should start this post with a photo of the Christmas storage bins that are kept in my garage, but I do not like to call attention to them. I try my hardest to convince my husband that there are only a few. Ha! Thank goodness he is a stacking genius and can make them all fit. Instead, I will begin with my newest purchase, a canvas for my mantle.

Barn Beam Mantle


Christmas Canvas

I fell in love with this over the summer and ordered it while sitting at the pool. Buying Christmas decorations in July should get me on the Nice List, right? You know you want one. Buy it from Lindsay Letters. You will not experience buyer’s remorse, I promise. It is even better in person! And the stockings are from Pottery Barn. They are on sale right now!

The Merry Christmas wooden sign was a flea market find and I am dying as I notice the order of the stockings…..Natalie was angry with me and switched the stockings! Love her!

My Grandma Dortmund was a very talented painter. She would work year round on her precious Santas and present them as gifts to her friends and family. I feel very blessed to have several of her Santas!

Painted Santa Handmade Santa

Each year Noah gets a new Nutcracker and Natalie gets a new Snow Globe. I try to find ones that represent something special from the year. It is usually the theme of their birthday party. Some are expensive, some are dirt cheap, all of them are super cute! I use them to decorate my Harvest Table in the living room. Sidebar on my Harvest Table. It belonged to my grandparents and took up an entire wall in their great room. It was always decked out for Christmas and I knew I always wanted it. It was given to me a few years ago and my husband and I designed our living room walls to accommodate it! Look carefully at the picture below, it’s my Grandpa Dortmund and Santa….behind him you will see the Harvest Table! Try not to be distracted by the enormous drum shades on those brass lamps!

IMG_6190OK, so that sweet picture was taken in 1986 and would be his last Christmas. I could write a book on all of the things in this picture that make me smile…. Flash forward to today, 2014. Here is the Harvest Table in my house:

Wooden Harvest Table

Fits perfectly, right? You can see some of the snow globes and nutcrackers. Here are a few closeups.


The Santa is another Bertie Dortmund original!


I also frame the yearly picture with Santa. I love looking back over the years.

Santa Frame

This is my favorite. Santa is my friend, Andy. He passed away in 2013. He played Santa for our Mom’s Club. Best part about the whole thing, he was Jewish! Major dad points! My kids have noticed that the Santa in this picture is actually Mr. Andy and we all get a kick out of how Noah is checking him out! I miss that man!

I like to decorate with pinecones (hand picked from Idaho!), vintage ornaments (I hunt for them at all the flea markets), jingle bells (always try to find them on sale), old alphabet blocks (flea markets), festive pillows, my family’s old stockings and anything my mom will give me from her stash of decorations.

Apothecary Jars Wooden Candycanes Christmas Pillows Vintage Stocking Vintage Glass Ornaments


My mom saves everything. No. Joke. She gave me this little piece of the past a few years ago. Anyone else remember making these in school? I love that I replicated the braided rug we had on our floor! Classic.

Christmas Plate

Last year I was finally given a few family heirlooms. I guess I was deemed responsible enough once I turned 40…..

Vintage Christmas Decor Vintage Santa

They belonged to my Gram Copeland. They were placed in the same spot every year and I loved them both with all my heart. I thought the Christmas Lady was beautiful and that Santa was waving at me! I am glad to have them be a part of my decor now!

When you enter my house via the front door, you will land right under the mistletoe! Pucker up! The rule is if anyone wants a kiss, they stand under the mistletoe and announce, “I’m under the mistletoe!”. If you can hear this announcement, you must stop what you are doing and join them for a Christmas smooch! Good rule, huh?

Mistletoe Ball

I found this gorgeous mistletoe ball at Cedarbrook Nursery in Shawnee Hills. Hurry!

My Dining Room is not used very often. Although the table makes a great place to pile all the things I don’t know what to do with! But at Christmas I dress her up a bit too.

Christmas Decor

I made those amazing paper snowflakes all by myself! The wooden signs are another flea market find. I wish I could remember where I bought the trees because the are so pretty. And here is a closer look at those precious candlestick holders…..another heirloom from my Ma! And no, I never put candles in them. No idea why.

Vintage Christmas Candlesticks

A few more trees and the room is complete!

Christmas Decor Christmas Decor

The cut out trees are from TJ Maxx and the cone tree is from Hobby Lobby.

Baby Jesus cannot be left out. My Grandma Dortmund painted this nativity for me many years ago. I told you she was crafty!


And after BEGGING my mom for years, she finally gave me this joyful memory. My brothers and I played with this for hours upon hours and now my kids fight over where the angel should sit and why the roof won’t stay put! Ahh, Christmas!

Wooden Nativity

My kitchen window makes me smile. If I have to do the dishes, I may as well do them while looking at Mr. & Mrs. Claus kissin’ and a couple ‘blasts from Christmas past’!

Kissing Santa & Mrs. Claus DSC_8947

Yep, that’s me and my brother, Lee decorating the tree in my bedroom (love the curtains!) and my hubby and his brother sitting on Santa’s lap! Good times!

I found this little nugget at a flea market and stole my friend’s idea to use it as my utensil bucket for the season. Genius! I love having smart friends! The candy canes came from the same flea market……ready to join me next summer?!

Candy Cane Bucket

My mom loves to knit. Yay for me! I found this idea for an ‘advent calendar’ in a magazine a few years ago. They are mittens and hats with the date. You hide a little treat inside for each day. The kids love it! There is not a lot of room, so the treats are small, which keeps it simple. The best part is that she (my mom) sends the treats each year and all I have to do is stuff it! Double yay me! I have commissioned her to make a second one so Noah and Natalie can each have one when they leave me. I am hoping that is like 20-30 years from now at least! Contact me if you are interested in ordering one for your family. She can use any color scheme!

Crochet Advent Calendar

I cannot believe I am going to share this next photo with you…..circa mid 80’s. Christmas morning with my brothers.


Looks like it was the year of the ORIGINAL Transformers for Matthew and the fingerless gloves for me! Please take a moment to notice my yellow fuzzy socks. If you read my Thankful post you will recall that these are still a staple in my winter wardrobe! And how cute is my brother, Lee snuggling that teddy bear! The reason for this gorgeous glimpse into my Christmas past is for the advent calendar hanging behind the tree. It was hand-sewn by my Grandma Dortmund. Each ornament was adorned with sequins and you placed a new one on each day. I know several kids from the 80’s had these. Well, my brothers and I fought over who was going to get it once we all moved out. My mom, being the peace keeper that she is, simply made new ones. Noah and Natalie each have their own and keep them in their room. It is the first thing they do when they wake up. Too sweet. But, I kind of wish they had to share like I did. We would secretly rearrange the ornaments in the pockets so when it was ‘our’ day we would get the best ones! Good times!

Ok, I am off to decorate our lower level….I will blog about that room next!

Live Creatively,




O’ Tannenbaum!

Posted On December 11, 2014| Leave a reply

Christmas TreeI really am German, so I can call it a tannenbaum!  Isn’t she pretty? She stands 9 feet tall and has served us well over the past three years. She spends most of her life in a nice green bag in the corner of the garage and we miss her during that time. She is the first Christmas festiveness to come out of hiding and the last to be put away. Jeremy has the job of wheeling her in (she came with her own rolling cart!), setting her up and fluffing her branches. He also climbs the ladder to put the bow in her hair. I don’t do ladders!

Our tree is a time capsule. It tells a story. Our story. Not a single ornament is random. Each one has meaning to us. Each year I am tempted to make her pretty. Cascading ribbons, glass ornaments……. I am secretly jealous of my friends who have trees like that. But then I start opening the bins of decorations and before I know it our pretty girl is adorned with mismatched ornaments, no ribbon and the same raffia bow Jeremy and I bought when we couldn’t afford a ‘nice’ tree topper! The tree skirt is from Pottery Barn. And the pinecones were gathered by my folks in Idaho!

My Grandma Dortmund gave me an ornament every year. Most of them were handmade. They all hold a special place in my heart. The last ornament she gave me was in 1998. Here is one of my faves:

Angel OrnamentShe’s adorable, right? My Grandma was crafty. So crafty that her white Ford Taurus sported a bumper sticker that read, “Crafty Lady”. One of a kind!

My folks, well, let’s be honest, my mom has also given me an ornament every year. It’s always fun to see what she will choose. Sometimes she makes them, others are store-bought. They all are given with lots of thought. My ornament from last year was my daddy’s dog tag tied with ribbon. I had a photo, but his SSN was visible, so I took it down! My mom put the tag on a key ring and laced red, white and blue ribbon onto the ring as well. A perfect way to remember his service and decorate my tree!

I buy an ornament from every place I visit. It is a challenge sometimes, but fun. Check these out:

Painted Egg Orament

Hand painted egg from Budapest. Honeymoon.

Travel Ornaments

The Broadmoor Bee, Colorado Springs and The Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh.

Route 66 Ornament

Spring Break, 2014.

Vienna Ornament

Hand crafted love birds from Vienna. Honeymoon.

Last year I found the keys to my old house. My family lived there from 1977-2004. I was heartbroken when my folks moved and tried to keep as many ‘memories’ as possible. I made ornaments from the keys and gave one to each brother and my folks.

House Key Ornament

I found these little beauties at a flea market this summer. Don’t they look cute?

Vintage Letter Ornament Address Number Ornament

Anything can be an ornament. Even a graduation tassel!

Grad Tassel OrnamentEvery year since Noah was born I have created an ornament for the grandparents and uncles. Some years they are handmade. This year Shutterfly helped me out. They have a sweet metal photo ornament. Make one of your own here. Mine are in the mail! Here is our ornament from 2007 when Natalie made her debut:

Snowflake Picture Ornament

My favorite ornaments are the Memory Balls representing people I love who no longer walk this earth. My Aunt Janet gave me my first one in 1996 after my cousin Brady was killed. My Aunt took all of the ribbons from the flowers at his funeral, cut them into scraps and placed them in a glass ball ornament. She added some gold confetti, ribbon and a dove. Every Christmas as I unwrap it I smile through tears. Brady was 24. He was a great cousin and an even better friend. Here is his ornament….

Memory Ball OrnamentHere are a few more Memory Balls….

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandma Martha Mathis

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandma Bertie Dortmund

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandpap Lee Copeland

My Grandpap’s is not filled with ribbons from his funeral. Maybe my mom forgot to save them! Instead she filled the ball with sawdust, a fishing lure, nails, a basketball jersey sticker and his business card. I love it. It’s his own little life story!

My creative Ma surprised me with a special Memory Ball back in 2004. It represents my wedding day. She used pieces of ribbon from our gifts and cut up the invitations to our save-the-date, showers and ceremony. It’s beautiful!

Wedding Memory Ball Ornament

Following in the footsteps of my Grandma and Mom, I give my kids an ornament each year. I try to make it something meaningful from the year. This Christmas they are getting swimming ornaments to represent their first year on Swim Team. Fun!

Personalized OrnamentsIf you are local, I bought these at Baker’s Village. They have gobs of different ones and will personalize while you wait!

And, staying true to my German heritage, my tannenbaum would not be complete without a pickle. I hide the pickle ornament in our tree on Christmas Eve. First one to find it gets a special gift. Growing up, I was the master at finding the pickle on our tree. Pretty sure my brothers are still bitter! Not so sure that this really originated in Germany. Most likely we Americans started it. Either way, it is fun! Here is our pickle:

Glass Pickle Ornament

So there’s a little peak at my tree. It’s busy, colorful, eclectic. It’s a one of a kind and I love it. What makes your tree special? I’d love to see pictures!

Live Creatively,





30 Days of Being Thankful

Posted On December 5, 2014| 74 Replies

In honor of the month of THANKsgiving, this post will highlight 30 things I am thankful for. Mind you, these may not include all of the things I am most thankful for, but will most likely be what I am thankful for on the particular day. So, please don’t shake your head if I don’t mention penicillin or the right to vote because I am certainly thankful for those things! This list isn’t intended to be all inclusive, but rather a snapshot!

P.S…..this was a month-long post. I just needed to get my editor to proofread it so it really was completed in November!!! 😉

Day One: my mom.

45th Wedding Anniversary

Her name is Linda. She makes the world prettier. She is a master with a needle & thread and has created numerous items for my home, mended lots of clothing, knitted baby blankets, made my prom dresses and my children’s dedication gowns. This picture was taken on July 19, 2014 in her front yard in Idaho. It was her 45th wedding anniversary. She wore a brand new dress (she cut her wedding dress apart to make Noah’s dedication gown and my garter), my wedding tiara and pearls from her Gram. She felt as pretty as she looked. My mom has my back. She is my biggest cheerleader and strongest advocate. I can tell her anything. To be honest, we use to fight like sisters, but we have both come to accept and celebrate what makes us unique. I couldn’t ask for a better Gramma for my babies or a more perfect wife for my Daddy. I cherish our time together and miss her terribly when we are apart. I am THANKful for my Ma!


Day Two: fuzzy socks.


Boy, oh boy, do I love my fuzzy socks. I have several pair and once the weather goes below 50 degrees they come out of hiding. I put them on first thing in the morning and only take them off when I need to leave the house. Sometimes I sleep in them, too! A pair always comes with me when I travel….by car or plane! The brighter, the better. The fuzzier, the better. I am pretty sure my husband does not share my excitement over these socks, but I cannot give them up. I am THANKful for my fuzzy socks.


Day Three: colored pens.


I know I have a problem when it comes to colored pens, but I am not ashamed! Colored pens make writing lists more fun. They add a little pizazz to everyday life. I use them on our family calendar, for school notes, signing cards, writing checks, grocery lists, love notes….for everything! There is not a law that says serious things cannot be written in bright purple. I have them stashed all over the house, in my car and purse and even send them to school with the kids. Go ahead, buy a package and thank me later! I am THANKful for colored pens.


Day Four: my son.


This is Noah. We call him Noah P. No real reason, always have and still do. Lots of his friends call him ‘P’ too. This is what he looks like 90% of the time. I swear he even smiles in his sleep. He makes the world a better place. He has the heart of a saint and if you are lucky enough to call him “friend”, rest assured that you have a friend for life. He hugs me at school. He kisses me good-night. He cries when he’s sad. He jumps for joy and shouts when he’s happy. He will give you all he’s got and then a little more. He goes to bed exhausted every night and wakes up ready to tackle another day. He will hit, scratch, tease and harass his sister, but no one else better be mean to her. He leaves me notes on my desk and in the steam from the shower. He is the reason I am a mama and believe me, I do not take that role lightly. God has loaned me this beautiful child and I pray every night that I am doing right by him. I am THANKful for my son.


Day Five: Wednesdays.


Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week and today is Wednesday November 5th. Jeremy works from home on Wednesdays. He helps me with the morning routine; honestly sometimes slowing it down because he is jamming the stereo and singing with the kids or making pancakes! The kids love waking up and seeing Daddy. Once the kids are out the door, we settle in at our computers (they face each other) and work on our ‘stuff’. I try not to interrupt him too much, but I can’t keep quiet when he is RIGHT THERE! We have lunch together, usually on paper plates standing at the island. But, sometimes we step it up a notch and go out. Occasionally we run errands…..this is very infrequent as my husband would rather watch paint dry than run errands. As a family we try our best not to schedule anything for Wednesday nights. Sometimes meals consist of new foods….WACKY WEDNESDAY. And we often do something fun….TEAM MATHIS! And yes, I even put CHAT NIGHT on the calendar every Wednesday as a reminder to talk to Jeremy about anything we didn’t cover before the bus brought our darlings home. I know you are all swooning over my weekly schedule pad. You can get it here. I am THANKful for Wednesdays.


Day Six: PEOPLE magazine.


People has always been my magazine of choice. I use to justify purchasing it when I was flying….something to entertain me on my flight. But now it shows up in my mailbox EVERY WEEK! That makes me very happy. When Noah was a wee one, I joined a Mom’s Club. It saved me in many ways. One of those ways was learning that it was OK to buy a subscription to this magazine and not feel shameful! Thank you moms of Dublin, Ohio! When it arrives I always find an hour to read it cover-to-cover and solve the crossword puzzle. Lord knows I don’t have a chance in hell of solving a real crossword, but I nail this one each week. Yay me! I am THANKful for PEOPLE magazine.


Day Seven: my 7 year old.


This beautiful creature is Natalie. Her icy blue eyes can convey a range of emotions. I am in love with her freckles and hate it when they hide for the winter. She’s girly, but also tough as nails. She has a need to understand things; this leads to lots of questions and some pretty amazing conversations. She loves Jesus & God and I have no doubt that they are saving a special seat for her! Dogs seek her out for cuddles and love. She boasts that Jagger (our pooch) is her best friend. Jagger is lucky. She doesn’t like to be alone. She wants you to play with her, read with her, sit with her, laugh with her. I jump at those opportunities. Don’t cross her, for if you do, there will be heck to pay!  She does not give hugs or I love you’s freely, you must be worthy. I hope this continues as she ages and decides that boys aren’t gross. I have boxes full of notes and pictures from Natalie; they are sweet and funny and some are even detailing how I am mean. I cherish them all. I know she is a gift from God and I know He chose her just for me. I am THANKful for my daughter.


Day Eight: soccer.


Three people in my family spend a lot of time with a soccer ball between their feet. I never played, but I do know what ‘check to’, ‘mark up’ and ‘push out’ mean! Jeremy started playing as a boy and only retired a few years ago after performing surgery on several of his teammates one season. It was right around the time that Noah began taking classes, so he (Jeremy) was able to channel his soccer energy into Noah! Jeremy has coached both kids and it is pretty cool to watch. Noah plays on a club team while Natalie is still in rec, and both play indoor over the winter. Saturdays usually revolve around game times and my soccer-survival bag is always packed. Our basement has a goal set up at all times. A toe has been broken and a couple of my pictures have not survived the missed kicks, but the sound of my team bonding makes up for it. I am occasionally invited down and allowed to play goalie, but only if Jeremy promises not to kick it too hard and Nat and Noah don’t roll their eyes when I screw up! I am a total soccer mom and I love it! I am THANKful for soccer.


Day Nine: vodka.


Yes, I am picky about  my vodka. My first vodka obsession began at age 21 and her name was Absolute Currant. A nice bartender I worked with introduced me to this drink. I mixed it with Cranberry Juice and let the good times roll. A few years later I met a new friend, her name was Skky.  Brilliant blue bottle. I liked it chilled. On ice. No mixer. My left hand usually held a Bud Light; my chaser I guess. Those were the days! I can no longer drink my vodka straight. I still prefer it chilled and my go-to brand for the last several years is Grey Goose. I have been known to slum it and drink Kettle One or 3 Olives, but if there is Goose in the house, she and I will party. I like my GG in a spicy Bloody Mary or a refreshing Screwdriver. I like it with Soda, not Tonic, and a little splash of Cranberry Juice. I know we are true friends if you have GG stocked in your basement bar and ready to serve when I pop in for a visit! And go ahead and add a lime. Not a necessity, but appreciated. I am THANKful for vodka.


Day Ten: birthdays.


Friends, EVERY birthday is worth celebrating. You made it another year. It may have been a challenging, sad, crazy year, but you made it. There are loads of people who didn’t make it to their next birthday….celebrate for them! Tell people it’s your birthday, eat cake for breakfast, let someone buy you lunch. BE HAPPY! I personally take birthdays very seriously. I learned that from my mom. She and my dad made our birthdays a big deal. They always involved a card (with the year noted), our favorite cake or treat, a party of some sort and presents wrapped in pretty paper. My birthday falls two days after Christmas. Which means I never got to take a treat to school on my ACTUAL birthday, most of my friends were busy with family, it was usually cold and snowy and many times I would get birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper! Not from my parents, of course. They made my day special and still do. One year I celebrated on June 27th so I could have a camp out! My 16th birthday involved a rented room, dancing and pretty dresses. And just a few years ago when I turned 40, I did it again….rented room, dancing and a pretty dress! So, please stop whining about getting older. Age is a gift. I am THANKful for birthdays.


Day Eleven: UGGs.


My husband says the ‘UGG’ stands for ugly. How he sleeps at night I am not sure! I bought my first pair of UGG boots about 9 years ago. I went for the basic short in an off-white color. I was hooked immediately. They became my go-to shoe. Relax, I do not wear them with my shorts in the winter….I am over 17 after all! They are warm, comfy and come in so many fun colors. Some have buttons, some have bows and I was momentarily tempted by the ones covered in sequins. But, I was again reminded that I was over 17. I stick with the ‘shortys’ and this current color is a light pink/mauve. Santa brought Natalie a purple pair last year so she is also an UGG Lover! I am THANKful for UGGs.


Day Twelve: teachers



Teachers are saints. Really they are. How do I know? I was one for about 9 years. The picture is one of the yearbooks from when I taught 5th grade. Such great memories! Think about it. Teachers spend their college years volunteering at schools, tutoring, shadowing real teachers, making projects and learning how to change the future. They bust their rump in the subbing pool of dread for about $90 a day. They spend every night praying for a job. They land a job. Now they need to set up a classroom with the stacks of money they made from subbing. They spend their first year treading water. Navigating the helicopter parents (there is not a college course on this!), memorizing the learning targets and school song, trying to make new friends, getting to school early, leaving school late and taking a bagful of ‘stuff’ home every night. They jam the copier, forget to turn in important forms to the office and can’t remember what it was like to have a ‘free’ weekend. They do all of this because they LOVE YOUR KIDS! They believe in them. They weep (sometimes silently, sometimes out loud) when the learning clicks. They are there to offer high-fives on happy days and hugs on sad days. They share their lunch when you forget to pack one. They give up their planning time to talk to you. I loved every second of it when it was my job. I miss my days in the classroom. I still think about my old students with a smile on my face. My second grade teacher passed away a few weeks ago. I reached out to her son and let him know how much she meant to me…..still today. He told me he found my picture in her things. Teachers are saints. They aren’t perfect, but they strive for it every day. I am THANKful for teachers.


Day Thirteen: tennis.



Last summer I had the grand idea that I should learn to play tennis. Never held a racket or hit a ball, but what the heck, right? I convinced a few friends to play with me, we signed up for lessons and a year later I am hooked! My outfits are prettier than my backhand and I am quite sure I don’t look very graceful when I whiff a ball, but it is fun! The best part is laughing with (and at) my friends. We chat, laugh, chat and hit a few balls in between. Our coach, Bill is very patient and I convinced we are his comic relief for the week. I joined a team and am trying my best to learn all of the rules….there are lots of rules in tennis! Did you know if you are hit by the  ball even if you are out of bounds you lose the point. Seriously?! Anyway, it’s fun and I can even return a few of Jeremy’s serves as long as he doesn’t put a wicked spin on them! I am THANKful for tennis.


Day Fourteen: rock and roll.


That’s right, I am a head banger! I started with KISS in elementary school and moved onto Guns n’ Roses,  Led Zeppelin, Poison, Bon Jovi, Van Halen….. I sat in the second row for Metallica, proudly wore my inappropriate Great White concert t-shirt to school, skipped my second day of HS to see Billy Idol and usually have my car radio tuned to The Brew. I was thrilled when Noah learned to play the first few bars of Iron Man on his guitar and think it is super cool that both kids like to listen to Metallica before a soccer game. My husband is a rock fan too, so he understands. He recently saw Motley Crue without me. Let’s just say I was a wee bit bitter! I keep waiting for new groups of this caliber to form. Jeremy calls me a dreamer. So I will settle for cramming my iTunes account with my favorite songs and keep the big hair bands alive by sharing their musical geniusness (my own word) with my kids! So for those about to rock, we on Team Mathis support you! I am THANKful for rock and roll.


Day Fifteen: Oxi Clean.


This amazing invention has saved many clothes from the abyss of my trash can. I somehow missed out on the gene that my mom possesses….the gene that gives her the power to get out any stain! The people I live with attract stains. Multiple stains. Grass. Syrup. Dry Erase Marker. Blood. Mud. Poop. Grease. And my new favorite; melted crayon. The melted crayon in the dryer will be saved for a later post. And it was orange in case you were wondering. Anyway, Oxi Clean is my friend. I use it so much, that now I find articles of clothing in the laundry sink that have  already been sprayed with my ‘miracle in a bottle’. I have taught my team well! I am THANKful for Oxi Clean.


Day Sixteen: my husband.


I chose today, the 16th for Jeremy on purpose. Today is a Sunday and we took the kids to the zoo to see the Christmas lights. We stood in line for about 45 minutes to see jolly old St. Nick. While we were in line, Jeremy looked at me and said, “Happy 16th”. I always try to wish it to him first, but he usually beats me to it. You see, the 16th of August, 1998 was our first official date. Every month on the 16th for the past 16 years he has wished me a ‘Happy 16th’. My husband knows how to have fun. He makes me laugh and then makes fun of my laugh. He teases the kids and they in turn tease him back. He has a hard time sitting still. It is his fault that I love to travel. He wants to see the world and I am flattered that he wants me along for the journey. He took me to Paris and served me my first glass of wine. Jeremy isn’t afraid of doing the dishes, driving carpool, attending parent-teacher conferences or making dinner. He rushes home every day to see us, his family. He holds my hand in public, cried during our wedding and never goes to sleep without kissing me goodnight. I have been lucky enough to call him my friend/boyfriend/fiance/husband for the last 29 years. He makes me a better person. I am THANKful for my husband.


Day Seventeen: Columbus, Ohio.


I was born in Columbus and have lived here every day of my 41 years with the exception of 4 years spent in York, Pa. Columbus is my home. It’s where my friends are. It’s where I choose to raise my kids. It’s where I want to be….even when it snows in November and rains for the entire month of June! Yes, it snowed today. I happen to like snow and like snow days even better so it was ok with me! My grandpa and dad owned a hardware store in Columbus for many years. I spent my first 5 years in Clintonville, right next to the Park of Roses. I love the North Market. I graduated from OSU, twice. I cheer for the Blue Jackets, Crew, Clippers and Buckeyes. The shopping is phenomenal and the restaurants are abundant. Broadway shows come to town and our zoo is totally off the charts amazing. I can walk to Zoombeezi Bay and wouldn’t dream of missing Red, White and Boom (on TV that is)- I don’t do crowds! Columbus is home. My heart is here. I do like to leave now and again, but I always like coming home. I am THANKful for Columbus, Ohio.


Day Eighteen: DVR & Netflix.


In my house we have 5 televisions. One is strictly for gaming and two are in the same room. Ask Jeremy. But rarely are any of them on! One reason is that I am Remote-Challenged. I need a freakin’ handout on how to work our fancy remotes. What ever happened to “On/Off”? And who has time to make sure the remote is pointing to the red “eye” thingy that is hanging below the TV? Not this woman. I do however, have a few shows that I MUST see. Grey’s Anatomy, Breaking Bad (sad it has ended), The Bachelor, Modern Family and now, The Black List. I know Grey’s airs on Thursday nights, but as for the others….no idea. Doesn’t matter. I do now how to record a series and how to watch my DVR’d shows! That is when I can get the remote to work. Jeremy, my Dad and I got addicted to Breaking Bad about a year ago. BUT, I could only watch it when Jeremy was home, because Netflix only works on one TV…..I guess only one out of five TV’s is smart, and I don’t know how to work the remote for that particular TV. I did get the Netflix app and been know to fire up the iPad when I am angry at the remotes. If it wasn’t for DVR and Netflix I would be TV illiterate and left out of so many fun conversations! I am THANKful for DVR & Netflix.


Day Nineteen: storage bins.


I am bin-obsessed. Target loves me. I never buy just one. The bins in this picture hold all of the wonderful items I used for past parties. One never knows when I will host a second Alice in Wonderland or Super Hero party, right? Our garage is home to my holiday bins. Christmas ones are green and red, Halloween are orange and black. Easter gets purple and St. Patrick’s Day gets  green. I even found a pinkish one for Valentine’s Day! Come over, I will show you! The bins are easy to stack and store. They keep the treasures inside clean and safe. I am THANKful for storage bins.


Day Twenty: brothers.

IMG_20150421_0001 copy

Brothers. I have 2. Lee is older by two years. Matt is younger by five years. Lee was my first friend and is still my friend. Matt made me a big sister so in my mind he was a rock star from conception! Lee and I would hunt salamanders, shoot birds with his BB gun (shhh, don’t tell my mom) and search for hidden Christmas presents in the never ending closet upstairs. We lived on 10 acres with no neighbors, so relied on each other for all of our entertainment. Matt was my ‘patient’ when I played dentist with my mom’s cuticle set, tricked into changing the channel on the TV (I would count to see how fast he could do it) and dressed up in clothes like he was a doll. He of course endured all of this with a smile on his face because I was (and still am) the best big sister in the WORLD! Being sandwiched between two boys meant I needed to be tough, not care about getting muddy and learn to keep a secret. Growing up as the sister of Lee and Matt was cool. Being an adult with them is even cooler. They are amazing brothers and uncles. I am THANKful for brothers.


Day Twenty-one: my daddy.


I was blessed beyond belief when God was handing out daddies. My Daddy knows everything (if you ask me). He knows the words to old hymns, how to change the oil in a car, how to solve a chemical equation, how to fix my gun when it isn’t firing, how to change a diaper, how to grow tomatoes, how to take a perfect picture, how to build just about anything, how to pray, how to fight cancer, how to love unconditionally, how to work hard, how to nap, how to hug, how to fix a leaky toilet, how to be a good husband, how to be honest, how to skip and sing at the same time, how to be grateful, how to say I’m sorry, how to throw a softball, how to mend a broken heart, how to shoot a groundhog, how to build rockets, how to play the piano, how to build a world class saucer run, how to be an awesome grandpa….my list is endless. He is the perfect daddy for me. He makes me laugh when I need it most and is there to build me up when I am beaten down. My Daddy is a true friend to many. I wish everyone could know him. He has changed many lives for the better. I am THANKful for my Daddy.


Day Twenty-two: girlfriends.












This is Megan. She is my girlfriend who moved away. This pic was taken on her last night in Ohio. She drove off to Minnesota the next morning and took a piece of my heart with her. Instead of meeting for dinner, hanging out in our basements or double-dating on a random Friday night, we now have very long phone conversations, send lots of texts, snap-chat (yes, we are that cool) and hop on a plane to meet up and laugh in person. We met in college, our husbands became friends and our kids are like a blended family. I miss her. But we will be friends for life and my fingers are crossed that we end up in the same old folks home! Megan is one of my girlfriends. I have many, because let’s be honest, it takes a village, right?! Some of my gal pals date back to the church nursery and Sunday School. One has been by my side since the 4th grade and another since 8th. My grad school girls haven’t changed a bit and I wish we hung out more. My cheeks always hurt from laughing! Because of Jeremy I met several “sisters from other misters”. Mom’s Club led me to some of the greatest ladies in Central Ohio. Lucky me I moved into a neighborhood filled with sweet, sassy & silly girls who are always willing to help out with my kids or share my bottle of tequila. I would be a hot mess without my girlfriends. They make life easier and reassure me that I am not insane! I am THANKful for girlfriends.


Day Twenty-three: Spanx.


Read the package and you too will be a Spanx Lover! Not much more I can say. I am THANKful for Spanx.


Day Twenty-four: my in-laws.


I kinda hit the jack pot with in-laws. Bob and Margaret are great. I’ve known them since I was 12. They have known my dad even longer than that. My grandparents loved them dearly. They truly love me, which I know is not always the case with daughter-in-laws. They are always full of praise and are supportive in all I do. My in-laws also happen to be amazing grandparents. They show up to soccer games, dance recitals, school plays….you name it, they are present. They always say yes to babysitting and sleepovers which allows me to hang out with their son. My crazy birthday parties don’t scare them. They roll up their sleeves and pitch in. M&B are kind and generous and I am grateful to be a part of their family. I am THANKful for my in-laws.


Day Twenty-five: Hallmark.


Actually, Hallmark should be thankful for me! I LOVE cards. Cards in pretty envelopes (you can keep the gold seals) make me smile.  I make a trip every couple of months. I am prepared. My list is broken down by category: birthday, anniversary, friend, misc. I spend at least an hour searching for the perfect card for the people on my list. I am at peace when I am in Hallmark. Sometimes all of the extra crap they sell irritates me… takes up space for more cards, but I will wait until the CEO of Hallmark calls me to share that tidbit. I am THANKful for Hallmark.


Day Twenty-six: being born a Dortmund.


It’s pronounced “doort-mund”. Not Dirtmound (compliments of some idiots I had the privilege of attending grade school with), or Dortman, or even Dartman. D-O-R-T-M-U-N-D. Typing it makes me smile. I have officially been a Mathis for 10+ years and I like being a Mathis, but sometimes I want to sign my old name or get a letter addressed to ‘Mandy Dortmund’. Being a Dortmund is fun. My grandparents, Paul & Bertie Dortmund (pictured above) were the greatest. Because of them my maiden name was associated with kindness, honesty and love. My mom became a Dortmund back in 1968. Best decision she ever made. Being raised a Dortmund meant I was tucked in at night, greeted with a hug every morning, prayed for daily, supported, disciplined, expected to pull my weight and that I had a team of people who loved me unconditionally. I’ve always been a bit jealous of my brothers for getting to be a Dortmund for life. My nephew gets to carry on the name. But I’m planning on my kids carrying on the legacy. I am THANKful for being born a Dortmund.


Day Twenty-seven: gravy from a jar.


In honor of Thanksgiving I will chat about my love of gravy from a jar. It HAS to be from a jar. My dad has tried countless times to teach me how to save the ‘drippings’, add a little flour and concoct my own gravy. NO. THANK. YOU. These kind people at Williams Sonoma have worked very hard at making the perfect gravy and who am I to make them feel bad by making my own? Seriously, if you have not tried this, quickly hop in your car and drive to the mall. Purchase at least 3 jars because you will love it! I will never reveal the identity of who shared this deliciousness with me……I can keep a chef’s secret! 😉 I am THANKful for gravy from a jar.


Day Twenty-eight: Walt Disney.

Chef Mickey

Surprised? Didn’t think so. Mr. Disney was a genius. He created a place where families can go and get caught up in magic. I love that my family laughs, holds hands and smiles while we are at Disney. I love that my 9 year old still thinks Mickey is cool and will watch his sister get transformed into a princess. I love that my daughter still adores Minnie Mouse and that my husband can spot a Hidden Mickey before the rest of us. I am happy when I am planning our trips, thrilled when it is time to go, giddy while we are there and truly sad when it comes to an end. I hope my family never outgrows Disney or forgets what the magic feels like. I am THANKful for Walt Disney.


Day Twenty-nine: flea markets.


Ahhh, flea markets! LOVE! My dad started taking me to flea markets when I was in middle school. I never hesitated. I jumped right it. Rooting through other people’s stuff, finding that treasure, taking it home and giving it new life! I love finding cheap things, spicing them up a bit and using them every day. These girls, Michelle & Nicole share my passion for flea markets. We will scour the markets until our cars are full, feet are blistered and cash is gone. We talk each other into and out of certain items and sometimes we all buy the same thing! My home is filled with my favorite finds and they make me happy! Call me when you want to tap into your secret yearning to be a picker! I am THANKful for flea markets.


Day Thirty: holidays.


I am a sucker for a holiday! This picture was taken a few minutes ago. My house is bathed in Christmas loveliness! We are all geared up for the festivities that accompany this holiday. Presents. Elves. Gingerbread Houses. Tinsel. Mistletoe. Rudolph. Ralphie. Santa. Christmas Cards. Cookies. We in the Mathis house tend to get excited for all of the holidays. We have pilgrims for Thanksgiving. Skeletons for Halloween. Leprechaun traps for St. Patrick’s Day. Gobs of plastic eggs for Easter. Hearts for Valentine’s Day. Trust me, if you are excited about Cupid and Uncle Sam your team will be excited too! I am THANKful for holidays.

Well that wraps up my 30 days of THANKful. Like I said, it’s just a glimpse. It was fun. I am already looking forward to next year’s list!

Live Creatively,


Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Posted On December 2, 2014| 1 Reply

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom….

Magic Kingdom

When you think of Disney, this is probably the park that comes to mind. It screams Disney! We have been to the MK many times. Jeremy and I went three times before we had kids! Our itineraries have changed as the kids have gotten older, but it is still our favorite park. I could not image a trip to Orlando without it. Depending on the ages of your little ones, you could easily spend three days here. This last trip for us included one evening visit for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (see separate post) and one full day. Well, I say ‘full day’, but in reality we were only there for 8 1/2 hours. (Last year we clocked a 14 hour MK day!)

Our prep for the MK started the evening before at Downtown Disney. We had dinner, shopped in the world’s largest WDW Store, satisfied our sweet tooth at Ghiradelli and watched our Natalie be transformed into a Minnie Halloween Princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Last year we made the mistake of visiting the BBB inside the Magic Kingdom and it stole 2 hours of our ‘park time’. Mama Disney wised up this year and hit the boutique at Downtown Disney….spent about 40 minutes and rest assured that the elaborate princess hair lasts for DAYS with nightly shellacking. Here’s a peek at Natalie’s transformation:

Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique


Downtown Disney Downtown Disney


Downtown Disney

Now, back to the Magic Kingdom…..

Magic Kingdom

My family has this park memorized and we have figured out how to maximize our time. We arrived at the front gates at 7:30am, were admitted into the park at 7:45am and mind you, the park did not open until 9am… I said, we kind of have Disney down to a science!

Our day began with eggs and waffles in Cinderella’s Castle. Noah was complaining about eating breakfast with the princesses, but he was quick to leave his seat for a pic with Aurora!

Cinderella's Royal Table

‘Doc’ Dad snuggled up with Snow White. I loved this shirt and thank goodness my husband is on-board with the Disney themed shirts!

Cinderella's Royal Table

Ariel swam by for a visit with Natalie. They chatted about whosits and whatsits galore!

Cinderella's Royal Table

We watched the parade from our favorite spot in Adventureland. Hint, get to your spot early and enjoy a snack (I recommend the chocolate covered rice krispie treats) while you wait. Don’t plan on standing on a bench, you will be told to get down. The afternoon parade starts in Adventureland, so watching it there means you can get a jump start on more attractions while everyone else is waiting for the parade to end.

Of course, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain were ridden a couple of times each. Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of mountains! Princess Natalie and I missed out on Splash Mountain this year….she didn’t want to mess up her up-do! Smart princess!

Space Mountain, Magic Kingdom

Look carefully and you can see my knees. No one likes to ride roller coasters with me….apparently I am a screamer. Who knew?

Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom

We climbed the Swiss Family Treehouse, dodged the alligators on the Jungle Cruise and waved to Captain Jack on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. My crazy family spun themselves silly on the teacups at the Mad Tea Party while I waited in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (it’s even better in the daylight!).


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom

Later we soared through the air with Dumbo. What is it about this ride that I love so much? Disney added a play area while you wait….my ‘big’ kids played for a good 20 minutes!

Dumbo, Magic Kingdom

And we never forget to ride Goofy’s Barnstormer, just for fun! I remember Noah’s first ride on The Barnstormer 6 years ago……and I love that he still finds it fun, even though he would prefer to be twisting upside down and plunging down steep hills! They waited for the front seat and somehow Jeremy and I squeezed into the seat behind them. I don’t remember the seats being this small last year! Hmmmm……

Front seat for Goofy's Barnstormer!

Front seat for Goofy’s Barnstormer!

Sadly, my little mousekateers did not want to race on the Speedway in Tomorrowland….this was the first trip we didn’t race boys vs. girls, (insert mama tears here). They also chose to skip the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Noah is still bitter with Jasmine for sneaking a smooch years ago! One day he will beg for kisses from princesses!

We dined in the castle of Belle and the Beast for lunch. Walt’s Imagineers outdid themselves on this one. No detail left out. We were very impressed. Worth the wait. The food was deeeelish! And seeing the rose was pretty cool.

Belle's Castle, Magic Kingdom

Belle's Castle, Magic Kingdom

Don’t we all look happy? Truth be told, we had just threatened the kids to smile and look happy in spite of the sun burning their eyes! Should have brought those sunglasses kids!

The kids had seen and done everything they wanted to by 4:30pm and a thunderstorm was on the radar, so we hopped back on the monorail (the wrong monorail…but we got a longer ride and an escort to the correct one by a very nice cast member!), grabbed dinner at Chef Mickey and watched the fireworks from our balcony!

Chef MickeyThis is one of our very favorite places to dine with the characters. All of our favorites stop by to visit and we get to dance!

Chef Mickey

Noah dancing! Try to ignore the crazy-dressed tourists in the background! UGH!

Chef Mickey

I love this picture! Photographed by Natalie….no hard feelings Jeremy, at least she got part of your face in the shot!

Chef Mickey


Chef Mickey

Natalie seriously wants to BE Minnie Mouse!

Our trip ended the next  morning. We packed up the autograph books, bags of souvenirs and watched the castle fade away behind us. No doubt in our minds that “We’ll see ya real soon”, Mickey and friends!

Live Creatively,