Monthly Archives: June 2015

Her name is Allison & she WON!

Posted On June 30, 2015| 6 Replies

I believe in God. I talk to Him several times a day. He is my pal. I also question Him.  I shake my head at some of His choices. I have a list of questions to ask Him when he calls me home. I’ve been shaking my head a lot this week. He called my friend Allison home. No doubt she ran into His arms. Her love for Him was extreme. I returned from her funeral a few hours ago. My first Catholic funeral. It was lovely. Very peaceful. The priest was calming and the whole service was soothing. I didn’t know the responses to the prayers and I thought I was going to sneeze from the smoke they wafted around her casket, but I felt really close to God…..from one control freak to another, nicely done Allison. We all know you planned the entire thing. The mass ended with a letter from Allison. I’m pretty sure no one was surprised by this……Allison having the last word.


At Relay for Life, May 2015

Her letter began with her asking all of us to not say that she lost her battle with cancer, but instead reminding us that she WON. She won at life. She won at love. She won at friendship. She won at work. She won as a sister & daughter. And most importantly she won as a mom.

We met about 16 years ago because of my hubby.  Allison was a friend of his from high school. We all chaperoned a youth skiing trip and I ended up in a seat beside Allison on the bus. Jeremy had great ‘girl’ friends who welcomed me with open arms. About six years ago we were sitting beside one another again. This time it was at Buckeye Gymnastics. My son Noah and her daughter Paiden were in the same class. Every week I got to sit with Allison and talk. We started with catching up on our lives. I had followed her battle with breast cancer through other friends, so we chatted about that as well. Our conversations were often interrupted with, “Mom, watch this!” or, “Mom, did you see that?”.

Out of the blue my dad was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, moved in with me and began treatment at The James. It really did happen that fast. Allison was ready. She was ready with hugs. She was ready with friendship. My dad came to gymnastics one night. Allison met Chic. Chic met Allison. A fierce friendship began. They talked cancer. They talked treatment. They talked life. They talked God. They talked. Always honestly. They became Facebook friends and exchanged emails. That was six years ago. She was too sick to see my dad when he was in town last month, but they talked via text. I told her several times how much she and her friendship meant to my dad. They had a connection from the start.

I miss her already. I will miss her texts and her thank you cards. I will miss knowing she is gracing this earth. I did not want this day to come and I surely do not want to attend another funeral because of cancer. A cure is out there. It has to be………. let’s find it. For Allison. Donate to Families for a Cure in her memory. Now!

God Bless.

Live Creatively,


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My Daddy & Me in NYC

Posted On June 22, 2015| 3 Replies

Trust me, I know how lucky I am that 1) my Daddy is still alive & healthy and 2) that we have an unbreakable bond. So in the spirit of Father’s Day, here is a recap of our recent trip to NYC. It was perfect, just like him…….


As I mentioned in an earlier post, My Daddy Is Seventy, I planned a father/daughter trip to celebrate his birthday. We were both pretty giddy about the whole thing. This trip marked my 4th time visiting the Big Apple with my Pops. The first trip was in November of 1987. I was 13 years old, had just started high school and was still very sad over the death of my Grandpa Dortmund that summer. My Dad used money left to him from my Grandpa for the trip. It was just what I needed and we formed some incredible memories. Take a look at a few of the pics from that trip almost 28 years ago……


Central Park


Me, probably sitting in someone’s day-old piss!

Funny thing….now my kids point out cool doorways to me, because they know I am going to snap a picture of it! NYC was a lot dirtier in the late 80’s!


Posing for my Daddy.

I love so many things about this picture. First, my hair. I would like to apologize to my Dad, because I am sure he waited at least an hour for me to get it ‘just right’ on this day. Also, look at the posters bills posted all over the walls. I loved these! Now instead of the cool bills all the walls just say, “Post No Bills”…..I had to explain ‘who’ Bill was to my kids in April.



Remember when the trains were painted? Not anymore. I loved the graffiti and recall taking many pictures of it on this trip. NYC has cleaned up the trains. And please notice the yellow safety line…..could it be any thinner?! It is at least 4x as wide now!


I remember posing for this picture like it was yesterday. My Dad was being creative with the speeding train behind me. He was cool before cool was cool!

I have one HUGE regret from this trip. Not a single picture of the two of us together. My Dad did all of the memory-capturing. I was his model, the city his muse. I have loads of very fun, artsy pictures from this trip. I remember holding his hand on the street, buying subway tokens (yes, real tokens), eating warm pretzels from the street vendors and walking through the cardboard house ‘neighborhoods’ in Central Park. But what I don’t have is a photo of the two of us. We changed that on our most recent trip!

We waited about 5 years before we stormed the city again. This time I took the camera and snapped a few pictures of my Dad enjoying the city.


I laugh looking at this picture now. The MAP! The HUGE map. Too funny. And look at the pile of extra maps and guide books on the bed. And I know for sure we used that big yellow book on the radiator a time or two! Time capsule! This was January, 1992. I was in college. We stayed at The Milford Plaza, just like our first trip. I thought it was the grandest hotel ever. It had a doorman and someone in the elevator to push your floor button. Swanky! We looked it up when we were just there….it is now a new hotel, all shiny and steel. Not cool.

IMG_20150601_0003My Dad had taken me to the Hard Rock Cafe on our first trip. We returned because it was still one of the only locations at the time and beyond hip. I took this pic because it was the first time I had ever seen my Dad drink a beer. Momentous.


Battery Park

Enjoying Battery Park. We saw the Statue (again) and rested on this bench as we had 5 years earlier. I love Battery Park because it reminds me of time spent with my Daddy. Sadly we skipped it last month because it is under construction and full of orange fencing…..improvements. I would pay top dollar for one of the benches I am sure they pitched in a dumpster. Humpff!

NYCHehe! This is an OLD picture…..the bull’s balls (yes, I said balls) are still black. These days there is a line, a LINE, to get your picture with the bull’s backside and his balls are now shiny brass. Seriously, how many dirty hands have violated this bull?! And check out Chic’s camera bag….he lugged that thing all through the city. Had to have somewhere to keep his zoom lens and rolls of film!

Flash forward almost 2 years to our third trip to the city… I am being lady-like and getting my picture with the bull’s head! My mom and brothers joined us on this trip. It was an adventure for sure. It was right before Christmas and we had a blast. Not a single picture of all 5 of us though….who would trust a stranger in NYC to hold your camera? Not Chic Dortmund.

IMG_20150601_0006We must have used the same salon….our hair color matches!

MAY 2015….Here we go!

I came prepared this time. Selfie. Stick. We tested it in the airport. It took us a few tries, but here is our first official selfie:


We arrived early to Affinia 50 NYC. Our room was not ready. While I was busy being grumpy, my Dad was chatting with the check-in lady. After about 5 minutes, guess what? Our room was ready. Hmmmm. My Dad can charm anyone. We dropped our bags, grabbed our map and began our adventure. We walked to Grand Central Terminal, up through Times Square, all through Central Park and pigged out on pasta at Carmine’s in the Upper West Side. Our shoes were smoking! My clever Dad thought we should highlight our route on the map. Again he charmed the front desk lady and we were given a highlighter, “No need to return it, we have plenty.”!


Day One

A few pics from our first day:


Selfie in Times Square


My Dad became an Art Lover on this trip!


Being silly in Central Park.

NYCThe park sillies continued. Land’s End was doing a photo shoot on these same steps. Check your Fall catalogues for a glimpse of my Dad in the background!


A little pasta for dinner, finally!

Day number two we started at the 9/11 Memorial. I remember visiting the Twin Towers every time I came to the city. I had my first Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone under the towers in the entire city that existed there. My Dad recalls seeing the second tower being built. It was a somber segment of our trip, but so important. We had lunch on Wall Street and then strolled over to the Seaport Historic District. I have great memories of visiting the Fulton Fish Market with my Dad. I loved all the fish and fisherman who were scurrying around the docks. I am sad it is closed down. From there we headed up town to Chinatown & Little Italy. I wandered over a few blocks so we could end up in SoHo and I could do a little shopping! Back to the hotel to drop off my bags, a quick refresh then off again to the Lower East Side. We toured the Tenement Museum and loved it. Check it out when you visit the city. We did the evening photographers tour so we could take pictures (naturally!). Cold beverages were consumed at Bonnie Vee and then we walked Bowery Street north until our legs were cramping!


Day Two

Photos from day two:


A Grandpa Style Selfie….with a mirror! Notice who carried the camera bag this time!


Moved to Brooklyn…..


The Fulton Fish Market, all gated up. The fish stalls, scales and counters are still in there…..


All clean and pretty now.



No standing anytime? OK, we will sit!


This next picture has a story:

NYCMy family is always on the hunt for LUCKY pennies. We have a big jar full of them. My Dad spotted all of these lucky ones on the street. I grabbed them and was so excited to show the kids. We ended up circling back around this same corner about an hour later and who did we see? The ‘owner’ of these coins. Oops! My Dad called my kids and told them I robbed a homeless man!



Under the Brooklyn Bridge


Catching the speeding subway. No graffiti and check out the wide yellow safety line!


Selfie with cold drinks!


Love the city at night!

Our third day started with a subway ride to the Meatpacking District for brunch. A quick stop in the Sugar Factory for some over-priced candy and then a stroll along The High Line to work off our breakfast. Funny how we ended up in Hell’s Kitchen in the middle of a FLEA MARKET. I love to ‘flea’ with my Pops. He started me young. We spent a good hour browsing all of the goodies and swapping stories with the locals. Past the Port Authority Bus Terminal, through the Theater District and Times Square (I think my Dad was looking for the ladies who love America….). We paused for a bit to people watch in Rockefeller Center before cruising 5th Avenue while avoiding eye contact with all the pedi-cab and carriage ride businessmen! They are exhausting. We bought some giant pretzels and popped a squat on a bench in Central Park. We watched newlyweds get photographed, listened to families chat in various languages, cleaned up spilled Pepsi (I was not the spiller!), gave the stink eye to some asshole teenagers who were taking pics of a homeless man enjoying a snooze and giggled at our own inside jokes. And of course documented the moment with a selfie or two. We found our way to FAO and waited our turn for the Big Piano. Such fun! I am still in shock that the store is closing! Nooooo! Damn rent increases! Dinner was at an Irish bar near our hotel and it was amazing. Dad danced the jig for our waitress and left her with a smile. We again waddled back to the hotel with full bellies and sore feet. Our last few hours were spent snuggled together watching TV and talking to my Mom. We highlighted our last day in the city and fell fast asleep.


Day Three

A glance at our final day:


Flea market!


Central Park


Lego Lady Liberty in FAO

For some A+ entertainment, click on these:  IMG_7653  IMG_7654 , you’re welcome!


Our map

That map will soon be framed and find a home on my wall. What the highlighted routes don’t show is the miles of hand-holding, countless smiles and many memories that have attached to my heart forever.

Happy Birthday Daddy.

Live Creatively,








Summer Bucket List

Posted On June 4, 2015| Leave a reply

“Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind….”

Now that I have transported you back to the summer of 1991 with DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, let’s talk summertime 2015!


Me and the Mr. sneaking out for ice cream while the kids are still in school….we will miss our Wednesdays!

My summer started two weeks ago. According to the school district I call home, summertime should begin May 21st. Before you all gasp in disgust, let me be clear that this same district believes our sweet days of summer should come to an end on August 12th! I will be packing lunches and checking teeth while you and your’s are still splashing in the pool!

Here are my loves excited for their last day of 4th and 1st grade:


They were a hideous mix of colors so I made them look timeless in black & white!

To be honest, even if summer break began on July 4th, I would still be caught off guard. Every year around mid-March I get grand ideas to get my act together EARLY and actually be ready for my offspring to be around 24/7. Never happens. This year was no different. The only thing we had completed before all hell broke loose was our ‘Summer Bucket List’. Thanks to a 45 minute car ride in early May and a husband who likes to use these extended times to TALK, the list was created. As in year’s past we had to help a little. A Maroon Five concert was requested by Noah. Since they are touring in Europe over the next few months that was scratched. Natalie is a bit more realistic….she shouted out; “pet store” and “kinsale”. Kinsale is the club we belong to. Easy. Peasy. A few suggestions from old ma and pa and our SBL was complete. It helps that at the beginning of a new year we sit and make a list of things we’d like to do and places we’d like to visit. Our list hangs in the Mud Room all year. Several items from this list transferred to our SBL!


I use a bucket (duh) and clothespins for our SBL. When we complete an activity, the pin gets dropped into the bucket. Again, easy. I use the bucket every year and actually several pins get used over and over too. Here it is:

Summer Bucket List

We are 14 days in and have 3 pins in the bucket already! Score! We never drop all the pins in the bucket and that’s ok. Some bucket list items carry over into the first few months of school and some never get completed. A little disappointment builds character, right?

Summer Bucket List

I spend a few hours with our list, our calendar and a glass of wine.

Summer Bucket List

I try to lump a few things together. For instance, at the camp out (in our backyard) we can have the paint fight, followed by the water balloon fight and serve breakfast at midnight! Outings that involve tickets need to be booked or at least penciled in or else I forget about them until the final week of summer and then we are screwed! Which leads to more mama guilt. Not fun for anyone!

I found these fun ways to create Summer Bucket Lists…too cute! If you make a SBL, post a picture of it in the comments please!

images-2 Unknown images images-1

Fingers crossed for a ‘Bucket Worthy’ summer!

“Sitting with your friends cause y’all reminisce
About the days growing up and the first person you kiss
And as I think back makes me wonder how
The smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia…

There’s an air of love and of happiness
And this is the Fresh Prince’s new defintion’ of summer madness”

Live Creatively,



School Is OUT!

Posted On June 1, 2015| 1 Reply


Yep, another school year is in the books. I am still waiting for my medal for surviving umpteen spelling tests, 98 packed lunches, a dozen or so morning ‘disagreements’, at least 7 missed buses, forgotten homework…someone please send me my medal!

School ends on such a high note. It takes a talented parent to ease the kids off their high and lower their expectations for the next couple months. Not every day will be spent partying, singing, winning trophies and bellying up to buffets of sugary foods.

Here is a glimpse of how Team Mathis spent the final week of education:

1st Grade Musical: DSC_1599 DSC_1628

Baby Girl had a speaking part. She practiced for weeks and said she would forever be famous after her gig! Love. Her.


Choir Concert:DSC_1848 DSC_1843

We continue to work on Big Bro’s self esteem and ability to express himself musically!



Crazy Hair Soccer Game: IMG_7881

You can feel the love she has for her coach, right?


Winning The Tournament:IMG_7895

Swept the tourney….5 wins, 2 shut-outs and 3 goals for my favorite player!


Bridging to Brownies:DSC_1923

Saying a silent prayer she is done with this…. ironing those patches is not on my list of things I do well. Grrr.


The second to last day is Field Day. It a bliss-filled day for my elementary kiddos. Bounce houses, water guns, face painting, tug-of-war…you name it and the school will provide it. The kids can barely get off the bus they are so exhausted.

DSC_1904 DSC_1863

The last day must be celebrated with a classroom party….because Field Day the day before wasn’t enough of a party. I will say that these parties are kept short and sweet. This year we did a Cereal Bar for Noah’s class and a Sundae Bar for Nat’s. Big hit!

DSC_1962     DSC_1966

And since I live among over-achievers (myself included!) we lovingly attack our kids as they step off the bus. They are met with sprays of water to the face, silly string to the hair and lots of screams.


Noah has learned to ditch his backpack early!

Of course the kids grab the water blasters and silly string and turn on the adults and each other….happens every year.

11270243_10205595819027278_9055968309852043504_o 11141723_10205595824467414_8236114186455491483_o

Did I mention we were over-achievers? This year, my neighbor M had the brilliant idea to surprise the kids with a DUNK TANK! Every child should have a dunk tank on their last day of school, right? Of course! The kids were stoked! It was surprisingly cheap too….only $14 per family. Sold.


Yep, that’s one of Nat’s best buds helping her get wet!


Such a good sport!

DSC_2047 DSC_2054

He was heckling his friends, so he kind of deserved this:


Ohio weather was not kind to us on this last day of school. It was C.O.L.D. Several of the boys disappeared for a bit. I found them out front. They had taken the hose and filled a baby pool with warm water…..hello instant hot tub!


These boys are gonna be trouble in college!

Here’s hoping your summer break is joyous for you and your kids!

Live Creatively,