Sending You a Merry New York Christmas

Posted On January 5, 2017| 1 Reply

To know me is to know that I like love New York City. My babies do too. You can read all about their first trip to the Big Apple here.

Doc and I were fed up with the present portion of Christmas. He was tired of paying for them. I was tired of searching for, ordering, hiding and wrapping them. On a whim we asked the kids if they would rather take a trip or have presents under the tree on Christmas morning. They both quickly answered ‘trip’ and so the planning began.

NYC was an easy decision. The kids have been asking to go back, Doc had never been at Christmastime and for me it was a no-brainer! I booked it for the first weekend in December. Friday to Sunday.

This weekend ensured 4 important things:

THE tree would be up.  Santa would be at Macy’s. The Thanksgiving crowds would be gone. And hopefully it wouldn’t be face-freezing cold.

I will never grow tired of seeing Lady Liberty from the sky.

Hint: If you are flying into LaGuardia, sit on the left side of the plane (left as in when you are seated and looking towards the cockpit) to get incredible views of the city.

I chose the Dumont NYC for our hotel. The location was perfect and I am a big fan of the Affinia Hotels in Manhattan. Located at 150 E. 34th Street, it was just a few blocks from Macy’s Herald Square. The most famous Macy’s in all the land.

Dumont NYC

Funny story….see those coats my blessings are wearing? They were purchased a few hours after we landed in NYC in DECEMBER at the famous Macy’s I mentioned. Why? Because both, not one, but both of them forgot their coats. Yep. Left the house to go to the airport in DECEMBER without a coat. Needless to say it was the running joke of the weekend. Here’s a look at them freezing on our walk to Macy’s….

We may have taken the long way.

Once they were properly clothed for the weather, our first stop was SANTA. Here’s a little tip: Book your time with Mr. C before you arrive.  Starting in November, visit this website. You will get a confirmation like this:

And when you arrive you get to skip the mile long line, go straight to the Express Check-In, find an elf and enter Santaland.


If you like a good deli. Head across the street from Macy’s to Herald Square Market. You can order the sandwich of your dreams.

We spent the rest of Day One milling around the city and checking out the holiday window displays. Gorgeous. Check out this one at Sak’s:

We ate a yummy dinner at Parker & Quinn. It’s on West 39th at 6th.   Make sure you ask for one of the cool booths and order the Fried Chicken Sliders!

No day in NYC is complete with out a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.

We visited the Grand Central Terminal location so we could eat our dessert in one of our favorite spots!

The kids loved the “little baby trees” for sale on the corner by our hotel.

I loved how they stopped to admire the flowers every time we walked by….

Day Two had an early morning wake up call! We had tickets to the 9am show of the  Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall! We headed to Rockefeller Plaza early and ate breakfast at the Panera by the Today Show. Noah saw himself on TV and got barked at by a security guard!

The real bonus of being up so early??

Getting THE tree all to yourself:

The Rockettes were crazy good. We sat in Orchestra 3 about 30 rows back. I wanted to SEE the dancers and boy did we. Before the show we wandered around Radio City. It’s very cool. Classy, clean and so pretty! And the ladies lounge is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen!

Did I mention that we met an actual Rockette too??

The show started with Santa. He told us to put on our very chic 3D glasses and ‘enjoy the ride’. We boarded his sleigh and he flew through Manhattan decorating it for Christmas. It was wild. Don’t we look cool?

The show was flawless. My favorites were the reindeer dance and the nativity scene with live animals. We will definitely see this show again. Bravo!

We left Radio City on a high and topped it off with another cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. Then we walked. Boy Wonder was insistent on checking out Niketown. Which meant a trip to Trump Tower. Which meant walking a few blocks out of our way because everything is BLOCKED OFF. I led my troops around the back and in we went. Security was tight. But the Secret Service were too kind.

My people are not afraid of heights…therefore we went up and up and up. As far as we could until we were stopped by Secret Service. Taking a peek up even higher, it was cool to be visiting the home of the next POTUS.

No doubt Donald and Melania were up there having tea or a Dr. Pepper or something!

We toured all 5, yes 5 levels of Niketown. Boy Wonder tried on several sweet sneaks, but ultimately decided to spend his money on these:

Next stop: Central Park. By far our favorite spot in the city. Pretzels, treats, giant rocks, street performers, famous landmarks. Central Park has it all. We play. We stroll. We enjoy. And this trip….a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. A bucket-list item for Sunshine and myself.

Friendly Travel Tip: do NOT wait in the extraordinarily long queue for a carriage ride. Instead, enter the Park at Columbus Circle and hail a carriage driver down before he turns the corner back up Central Park West. You can thank me later.

I will never get Doc in one of those row boats after I made him row around the River Thames in London!

Praise the Central Park gods, we even found Alice in Wonderland this time. It’s not as easy as you think. The Park is kinda like a corn maze. You can walk in circles without even noticing. And you’ll swear you are headed in the right direction only to end up back in the same spot. But I was hell bent on finding Alice. And I did.

So pretty, even from the back:

Reaching Alice took us from 59th Street to 75th Street. 16 blocks. We headed a bit deeper into the Upper East Side and ate dinner at  JG Melon a local place with yummy cheeseburgers and cold beer! After dinner we walked down 3rd Avenue to 68th to Vineyard Vines so the kids could get VV NYC shirts. After shopping we needed a bit of sugar. No place better to fill that need than Dylan’s Candy Bar! Luckily it was only a few more blocks past Vineyard Vines. With Lemonheads and Sour Patch Kids in our bellies we trekked back to our hotel for a little down time.

Around 8pm we bundled up and took a cab to Rockefeller Center. We skated at The Rink at Rockefeller for two hours. Long or short hours depends on which family member you ask! We had reservations for the VIP Skate which is pretty swanky.

You skip the line. The line is very, very, very long and it is outside. Brrrr. As VIP Skaters we had a heated hut on the rink with comfy benches, a place to store our shoes and bags and all the hot cocoa and cookies we could devour. Life as a VIPer was good.

My skaters!

Such a great memory!

While skating an adorable couple got engaged. Guy was down on one knee. Girl had no idea. Some stranger taped it. OMG, I just said ‘taped’, I meant videoed! It was sweet. Sunshine was appalled. She informed me that was embarrassing. Lord help her future fiance-to-be! The children could have kept on skating, but Ma and Pa were whipped. We handed in our skates, grabbed one last cookie and bid Rockefeller Center a good night.

Day Three, our last day. Always a sad day. No-one wants to leave. Boy Wonder and Sunshine planned this day. They wanted to ride the Subway.

No benches left? No problem for Boy Wonder!

We took the Subway to Gramercy Park and were greeted with walls filled with Post-It Notes. Subway Therapy. We added our own note to the wall.

It was beautiful in spite of some very ugly comments.

We brunched (I’m certain that is a real word!) at Friend of A Farmer. It was DELICIOUS x 10. So good. So filling. We waddled out of there and none of us complained about walking in the cold!

Of course they chose to visit Times Square. When in Times Square I must do a few things. 1) Purchase a Swatch watch. 2) Find the Naked Cowboy. And 3) Take a few minutes to observe the gobs of people enjoying NYC. Really, I must.

Sunshine, Boy Wonder and I picked out new watches while Doc waited patiently. He doesn’t get the whole “Swatch Thing”. I feel sorry for him. I chose a sparkly silver one. Boy Wonder picked out a red one. And Sunshine won the prize for coolest watch….one with a seal and fish! Priceless.

Next on my list:

What is that lady looking at?

And finally, resting my feet with Boy Wonder and enjoying the commotion around us.

From there we stopped in the biggest and busiest Starbucks, purchased over-priced hot chocolates and headed back to Central Park.

The kids climbed their favorite rocks and tossed a football while Doc and I whispered sweet nothings. We actually probably talked about how cold our bums were from sitting on the freezing rocks, but a girl can dream, right?

That football travels everywhere with us!

Me in my favorite city with my favorite guy.

Yeah, I’m sending you a Merry New York Christmas,
And a prayer for peace on earth within our time.

Live Creatively,

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Dear Pre-Pubescent Spawn,

Posted On April 29, 2016| 4 Replies

Dear Boy Wonder….I love you. I love you. I love you.

But, you are seriously testing my decision of choosing motherhood over the sweet life of a gypsy. I prayed to Jesus for you. I prayed to Jesus while I was carrying you. I prayed to Jesus on your BIRTHday and I have prayed to Jesus on your behalf every day since. Lately, I’ve decided to pray to Jesus that I will not harm you when you look at me head slightly cocked with those beautiful blue eyes in a narrow squint and those precious lips tightly pursed. Lucky for you, I was born with the “DoNotEverHarmYourChildrenChip” in my brain. For real, you are quite lucky.

Sometimes I think you are really a twin and I am on the receiving end of a terrible prank. There must be two of you. How else can it be explained? One day minute second you are my sweet angel, happy to be alive, singing with the birds, grinning in delight, clearing your dishes, saying ‘thank you’, emitting rays of sunshine from your butt. In a blink of an eye you become possessed by the Puberty Demon and all hell breaks loose. The rays of sunshine have turned to lighting bolts, your experiencing the ‘worst day of your life’ (over and over again!), your smile has turned up-side-down, chairs are being broken, insults are being thrown. It’s exhausting. One day I will find the hidden cameras in our home as I am positive that I am being Punk’d! Perhaps meeting Ashton Kutcher would make it all worth it. Maybe. Probably not.

I will push through. I will carry on. I will not lose the fight. I will pray. Just as my mama prayed for me and her mama prayed for her. Because you are worth it. And, I will need you to take care of me some day 😉

I see you. I see you looking in the mirror obsessing about your hair. I see you agonizing over the little pimple on your chin. I see you checking your phone to see if “she” likes you. I see the sadness in your eyes when you’ve been left out. I see you repeatedly fall on the slopes. And… I see you snuggle your dog. I see you hug your sister. I see you mouth “I love you” to me when I see you at school. I see you hit a home run. I see you sing a solo.  I see you all the time. 

I hear you. I hear you sigh. I hear your anger. I hear your frustration over homework. I hear you cry. I hear your ugly words to your sister. I hear you slam your door. I hear you mumble under your breath. And… I hear you ask to have dinner altogether. I hear you laugh with your friends. I hear you sing in the shower. I hear you talk about your day. I hear you cheer on your teammates. I hear you pray to Jesus. I hear you stick up for your peers. I hear you say “I love you, Mama”. I hear you all the time.

I smell you. I smell your Dorito breath. I smell your BO. I smell your sweaty head. I smell your rancid shoe drawer. I smell your poisonous toots. And… I smell your Axe body spray. I smell your lavender shampoo. I smell the brownies you baked on your own. I smell your pillow. I smell you all the time.

I feel you. I feel you tense up. I feel your struggles as if they are mine. I feel you ball your fists. I feel you smack your sister. I feel you stomp in your room. I feel your heartbreak. I feel the daggers you shoot into my back. And… I feel your soft cheek while you’re sleeping. I feel your mop of unruly hair. I feel your tight hugs. I feel the muscles forming under your skin. I feel your determination on the mound. I feel the love you have for life. I feel you all the time.

I will not fail you. I will frustrate you and hold you accountable. I will love you unconditionally. I will let some things slide. I will lose sleep over you and remind you to be kind. I will pray for you always.  I will not give up on you. I will not fail you. You are my son and I will never take that for granted.

Now, please put your dirty boxers in the hamper, get your big-ass binder off the kitchen counter, stop depleting our cellular data, wear deodorant every day, hang up your wet towel, stop wearing your $15 socks without shoes and give me a hug; a real hug.

Love, Mama


Several years ago…toothless and full of love. (can you see the rays of sunshine?)


Last week…fast asleep at 5:00PM. Sent to his room to cool off and this is how I found him a few minutes later.

Live Creatively,


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4,320 Minutes!

Posted On November 17, 2015| 1 Reply



Sometimes a minute feels like a lifetime. Just ask a toddler who has to ‘wait a minute’ for his mama’s attention. Last weekend 4,320 minutes flashed by. I was on a Girl’s Trip. Those two words together make my heart sing. This little trip was born several years ago when one of my BFF’s decided to move herself to Minnesota. I’m still bitter, but I have forgiven her for the most part.

This year 3 of us met her in Chicago. By noon on Thursday I was sipping a Bloody Mary while Southwest was preparing my flight. I came armed with 3 magazines for the 50 minutes I would be unable to check Facebook. One of my travel companions brought at least 20. My fave was the one with the crazy/creepy/one-of-a-kind gifts you never knew existed. Seriously, that was the name of the magazine: Things You Never Knew Existed. I was tempted to purchase the hairy caveman feet slippers that were worthy of the front cover, but I did not. If someone of your list is pining for a Willy Warmer or Fart Spray, you are in luck. This company offers rush shipping and a money-back guarantee. I guess if the Willy Warmer doesn’t fit you can exchange it?!


My reading was unproductive. I was interrupted by a steady stream of laughs and reassuring my panic stricken pal that a little turbulence does not mean the plane is going down in a blaze of glory…….

The Park Hyatt gods were smiling upon us at check-in. Two big beds, lots of towels, a great view, free toothbrushes and a closet that was straight out of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe….you could start in the bedroom and walk through to the bathroom! It’s the little things.

Approximately 100 paces from our hotel was this lovely little place:

We decided it was in our best interest to visit every day. To be honest, once we went in twice! Pretty sure the guy handing out the free samples was on to us!

To fill our afternoon, we ate flaming cheese while perfecting our Ms Pac-Man skills at Bar Toma, made a sizable contribution to Anthropologie and consumed a huge dinner at 10pm at Bavette’s. When you go, and trust me, you should go….sit in the basement and ask for Johnny. You will need the flashlight on your phone to see the menu, but Johnny will entertain you with his f-bombs and sweet tattoos and will most likely supply you with a FREE birthday dessert complete with a crackling sparkler! (Even though he totally knows you are lying about it being your bday.)

IMG_0372 IMG_0373





Tell them Mandy sent you! For the record….this is NOT Johnny!

The next day we pretty much just ate our way through Wicker Park. It was divine. Burgers for lunch. Jeni’s for a snack. Donuts for another snack……


They don’t have Jeni’s in Minny!

By this time we are high on sugar and decide to take our comedy act to Vintage Underground. Their basement is filled with bargains from days gone by. Varsity sweaters. Grandpa’s flannel. Hats. Bedazzled cocktail dresses. Shoulder pads. Patterned sweaters. It was awesome. For your enjoyment, here is a glimpse of our favorite basement finds:


Settle down PeTA, we did not purchase these beauties.

I think the red clutch really seals the deal. And, yes, I am holding my jacket closed….apparently fur-wearing ladies of the 70’s did not have boobs.

Feeling revived from our vintage shopping, we hailed a cab and headed to The Bean. You are all very lucky that I am alive to write this blog. We managed to hail the one cabbie in Chicago who had a death wish, no concept of what a yellow light means and was under the impression that if he delivered us faster he would get a bigger tip! Upon arriving at The Bean we quickly bailed out of the cab and thanked Jesus for sparing us.

THE BEAN: God bless the sweet man who humored us by taking no less than 17 pictures on 2 different phones. Pretty sure we have ruined him on marriage.


As punishment for the thousands of calories we consumed in Wicker Park, we walked from The Bean to Eataly. It is Chef Mario Batali’s “sprawling, modern outpost featuring a range of Italian eateries & food markets”. Amazeballs. We wandered for at least an hour. The food looked so good we decided to shop and have an intimate dinner in our room. Here is what we dined on:


In my opinion it was our best meal. Take a minute to appreciate the $7 bottle of EVOO. I may have gotten in a tiny altercation with very grumpy Eataly server while attempting to ‘borrow’ some EVOO from the server station. He was hostile. I was cocky. He was left with a plastic to-go container of EVOO he was going to have to pitch. I was forced to shell out $7 for a bottle that I am sure the maid was thrilled to find! Humph.

Pippin’s Tavern was calling our name. We bellied up to the bar, became friends with Matt the bartender and settled in for the night. We swore he was skimping on the vodka in our drinks, but perhaps not. We took a few dozen photos while trying to perfect our Kardashian smiles… know, teeth slightly apart, tongue pushing on our top teeth and head cocked either down or up. Enjoy….


Pretty sure Kim will not be calling me to hang out….


As good as it gets!


OK, there might have been a little vodka in our drinks!

We greeted Saturday morning with a trip to Bliss Spa. We kind of love this place. Comfy robes. Cucumber water. Top-notch therapists. Steam shower. True. Bliss. No paparazzi in the spa, so just take my word for it. We looked totes adorbs in our robes and slippers and emerged relaxed, oiled, scrubbed and blemish-less. And hungry. Very hungry. We filled our bellies with Chicago style pizza, packed up the leftovers and headed to the Skydeck. Because, how long could the line be? On a Saturday afternoon……..

Apparently hundreds of other people thought the same thing. Three hour wait. Notsomuch. We bailed. We hailed. Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap was our dinner choice. We scored a seat at the bar for a fantastic view of the OSU game. Our husbands would be proud….wings and football on a girl’s trip! Our pillows were calling our names, so off to bed we went. One of us fell asleep immediately. The other three chatted, giggled, commiserated and solved the world’s problems before joining our sister in dreamland.

It was time to say good-bye. This part always sucks. We shared one last meal in terminal A before boarding our flights back to reality. It’s crazy how a mere 4,320 minutes with three of the finest ladies I know can restore my soul and inspire me to tackle the world. Thanks friends.


Live Creatively,




Homework Station

Posted On September 14, 2015| 1 Reply

Homework Station The former teacher in me came out like an banshee when Boy Wonder entered kindergarten and was assigned homework. For years I preached to my student’s parents about the importance of having a “spot” for their children to do homework. A place free of clutter, stocked with a few supplies and within earshot of a parent. It was finally my turn to be the parent and to create a Homework Station in my home. Truth be told, I was a bit giddy over the idea. Here’s a look at the Homework Station for Team Mathis: Homework Station Yep, that’s it! Easy. Small. Accessible. Stocked. The basket holds the weekly ‘stuff’ we need….spelling lists, long-term assignments, books they are reading, newsletters, papers that need to be returned to school. Homework Station   The drawer is referred to as the ‘Homework Drawer’. This is where you will find pencils, colored pens, highlighters, post-it notes, stapler, paper clips, scissors, yellow note pad for school notes, etc. LOTS of supplies. Homework Station   Around  the corner I have  clipboards, markers and crayons. I designed our kitchen with homework in mind. Nerd, I know. Homewrok Station   These bookshelves have come in quite handy. Don’t have a bookshelf or a spare drawer in your kitchen? No problem. Purchase a plastic bin and stock it with all of your favorite homework supplies. Keep it in a closet or a kid’s room. It can be brought to the kitchen as needed. Another idea… use one of those over-the-door shoe organizers with pockets and stock that. It can hang in a hall closet. Check out my Pinterest board for more genius ideas: Follow Mama Mathis’s board homework stAtion on Pinterest.

Last year I purchased a quality pencil sharpener and switched to REAL pencils. Ticonderoga, be still my heart. I was at my wits-end with mechanical pencil malfunctions and finding little pieces of lead all over the floor. Not to mention the constant bickering over who got to use the coolest one! Grrr! My kids attack homework shortly after they arrive home. For more on this see this post. I love to have it completed and out of the way as soon as possible. They load up their binders and backpacks and we can forget about school for the rest of the evening. If you have a Homework Station, snap a picture of it and post it in the comments. I love stealing borrowing ideas! Live Creatively, mamaSig


If You Burp or Fart, Say ‘Excuse Me’

Posted On September 3, 2015| Leave a reply


Apparently I live with some very gassy people.

Sunshine can burp like a man. On command. I swear she is secretly working on reciting the alphabet via a burp when she retreats to her room. Boy Wonder’s burps aren’t nearly as impressive, but he sure can hold his own in the fart department. My dad gave him the nickname “Toots” many years ago and it still fits. Without throwing Doc completely under the bus, I will just say that his emissions have been declared POISONOUS by several friends. And in all fairness, I must admit that my team is not a fan of me eating copious amount of hummus and tzatziki. You won’t hear my ‘exits’ but they rarely go unnoticed. Boy Wonder never lets me get away with one. He has a weak gag reflex and I guess asking, “Mama did you toot?” very loudly in public diminishes his urge to gag. He’s awesome like that. I try to slip away and toot in private. I never toot in the car. You car-tooters are a whole different breed!

Growing up with two gassy brothers and one very gassy father I developed great ‘escaping the dutch oven’ skills as well. Boy Wonder has yet to successfully attack me and Doc, well he knows better. I remember my mom constantly rolling her eyes and pinching her face in disgust whenever a Dortmund Boy ‘ripped one’. My sweet Auntie J encourages them when we visit, the bigger the better and Doc always has a high five and ‘nice one’ waiting when my little blessings explode. Ugh. As you see I am surrounded by gas.

A couple of years ago, I  made a simple rule:


This rule was met with a bit of “ohmygoshmamaareyouserious”. Yep. I’m serious. As you can probably guess, it was painful. Someone would burp or fart and I would stare at them with big eyes imploring them to use their manners. Didn’t happen. Not one to take defeat easily, I made following the rule a bit more enticing. If When you burp or toot, say ‘excuse me’ right away or PAY UP! The little people in my house are very money-motivated. The charge was set at a quarter per offense. No one likes to give up a quarter.

Quarters were flying out of their piggy banks the first few days. We kept a tally in the kitchen. While I don’t really condone public shaming, seeing your name with about 7 tallies by it seemed to do the trick. And the best was when a guest asked what it was for! As on all teams, negotiations take place. If you were relaxed in bed, toots didn’t count. If you were sick to your stomach burps and toots didn’t count. Don’t ever say I’m not flexible!

I am happy to report that after about a year, while my team is not less-gassy, they are much better mannered. And I chuckle every time one of my team members says “excuse me” following a silent but violent toot…..

Who knew assigning a monetary amount to gas would develop good manners!

Live Creatively,


My Day at the Splatter Park….

Posted On August 26, 2015| Leave a reply

Who says being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mama) isn’t rewarding?

Today my offspring gifted me with a surprise trip to the local Splatter Park! Seriously, I did not see this coming. I was stunned. Such thoughtful children I am raising. My gift was actually a few days in the making….

Saturday afternoon Sunshine caught herself a fever. Not a huge concern for her, because she was granted free access to the digital thermometer. With her fever came the screeching halt to the date-night I had planned with Doc. I even made a reservation! Not flying by the seat of my pants this time. I had a plan. But, I would not be the mama that leaves their delirious, puppy-eyed daughter with a sitter…. To be honest, I asked Sunshine if she would mind. With a cocked head, squinted eyes and a turned up lip, she politely told me she would prefer I stay home. Emoji has nothing on the faces my girl can conjure up.

Not to be one-upped by his sister, Boy Wonder felt a little warm after dinner. Not warm enough to require medication. Sunshine was quite bummed about this. Apparently it wasn’t ‘fair’ that she had to choke down two baby Tylenol and her brother didn’t.

Sunday morning I awoke to Sunshine sharing my pillow. She could have a future as a ninja! Alas, she was still warm. Hot, actually. Boy Wonder was fine. His day proceeded as planned. Playing soccer IN the Columbus Crew stadium WITH Crew players and former Ohio State football players!  I arranged it, sent in the check and hyped it up, but I did not get to go. Doc had to take my ENORMOUS camera and capture the excitement for me. It was a cancer fundraiser for the LampStrong Foundation. Check it out!


Noah with his WINNING team!

Sunshine and I hung out in bed ALL day. We watched 273 episodes of KC Undercover and about 10 minutes of Beverly Hills Cop 2. I must have been in a stupor from the Disney channel; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! When the boys got home, little fever girl had a burst of energy and ran around like a crazy woman. She announced at 8pm that she was hungry, so Doc ran to Panera to get her a salad. She gobbled it up and was asleep about 11 minutes after her head hit the pillow.

Back to today (Monday)…..

My alarm woke me this morning and guess what? Ninja-girl was again sharing my pillow. She has skills. I snuck out of bed and went to tend to Boy Wonder. I don’t always follow the rules, but one I am a stickler about is the “Your child must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.” Oh how I wish all parents followed this rule. I curse those who don’t…’s probably YOUR child who germed all over my child. Grrrr! Sunshine and I were slated for another day of the Disney channel and lots of quality time.

Boy Wonder raced through his Morning Routine and was rewarded with 20 minutes of free time. He disappeared to the playroom to clash some clans or check on his creepers. Meanwhile, Sunshine snuck down to the couch and scared the snot out of me when I walked by! She didn’t look too good. The digital thermometer declared her fever-free. This time it was her tummy. But she was hungry. She ordered a piece of cinnamon toast and was granted temporary “couch eating privileges” only because she was sick!

Wondering about the Splatter Park? Keep reading…..

It was time for Boy Wonder to head to the bus stop. I only had to call his name once….he wanted to be sure his free time was not snatched away for tomorrow! He’s putting his shoes on, I’m tripping over Jagger and answering Sunshine’s never ending questions when I hear, “Mama, my nose is bleeding.” I did not rush to the mudroom as he has bloody noses pretty regularly when the seasons change. Lucky guy has allergies! He knows what to do and I trusted him to do it. After apologizing to the dog I went to check on him. My very smart son was having a not-so-smart moment. He was standing in the bathroom, yet not over the sink. Blood was dripping out of his nose and SPLATTERING all over the floor. He was carefully arched forward to spare his new Under Armor shirt from getting bloody, but to hell with my floors. I pushed guided him to the sink, grabbed a handful of tissues and pinched his nose. I handed off the pinching to him so I could get some paper towels to clean up the small crime scene on my floor. Boy Wonder decided it was a good time to check to see if the bleeding had stopped……it hadn’t. I returned with the paper towels to see gallons of blood pouring out of his nose and SPLATTERING into the sink, up the wall, on the mirror; everywhere!

It eventually stopped. I cleaned up the bloody mess and kissed my son. He rewarded me with, “You’re the best mama in the world.” I’d clean blood off my walls every day to hear that. By now the bus has come and gone. We made it 8 days without missing it. But today, really?! Why today? Natalie’s upset tummy and lack of clothing has rendered her unable to move. She begs me to let her stay home alone while I drive Noah to school. I waver for a minute, but decide that letting her stay will be easier and faster than dressing her and forcing her into the car. Go ahead and call Children Services, I could use a vacation!

I arm her with a phone and our 18 pound attack dog. I list the rules….don’t answer the door, don’t get off the couch and call me so we can chat. I set the alarm and drove rather quickly to school. She called. We talked the whole way (7 minutes there, 3 minutes in the drop off line and 7 minutes back home). She asked me a dozen “What If” questions and was very proud of herself for staying home alone.

She was hungry again. This time she ordered a piece of peanut butter toast. And a Ginger Ale. I delivered the toast, grabbed the ale and remembered she likes to use a straw with her soda. As I was getting the straw, I stop dead in my tracks because I hear a sound. It was a splashing water type of sound. But where? Oh no, Jagger is peeing on the hardwood, right?! No. Vomit is SPLATTERING out of Sunshine’s mouth all over the floor. I am too far away to save her. “Don’t move!” is all I can think to say. Might as well keep it all in one spot. She doesn’t stop. It just keeps coming and SPLATTERING everywhere. I rush over with the paper towels (they were still on the counter from the bloody nose incident) and proceed to wipe off her mouth. Her ice-blue eyes look at me and she says, “I HATE puke”, me too baby, me too. She’s finally empty. I cover the vomit with paper towels (the last thing I need is for Jagger to get into it!), scoop her up and take her to the shower. She tells me she’s sorry. I tell her she never needs to apologize for throwing up. As soon as those words cross my lips I have a vision of her puking in her friend’s car after a night of Jagerbombs….. that will require an apology, but I decide that is a lesson for a later time. Sunshine showers. I, for the second time in less than an hour clean up hazardous waste.

We spend the day playing Life (she won), cleaning her room (I was sneaky, she thought we were looking through her really cool stuff), watching the Good Luck Charlie movie (I miss that show) and playing War (I know she stacks her deck)….. but look at how cute she is:


She refused to let me include her face. Diva!

Doc comes home and gets roped into playing Life. I attempt to clean the kitchen and race to the bus to get Noah. Everyone is feeling fine by now. No fevers. No bloody noses. No puking. I made it. It’s a beautiful night so we all head outside after dinner. My team enjoys a game of Wall Ball while I sneak to the front yard and bring a quick death to the weeds that like to torment me. I am determined to win the war! Doc gives me the night off and puts both kids to bed. Sweet man. I use my time wisely and call my bestie who moved away. It’s been like 3 years, but I am still bitter!  I tell her all about my day at the SPLATTER Park. She laughs with me. I feel better. As we are saying good-bye I walk into the mudroom to let Jagger out for his last potty break. Apparently I have a competitive dog on my hands. Not to be outdone by the little people in our house, he has decided to SPLATTER the mudroom floor with his own bile. Three separate places. Seriously. I’m curious because his dinner is still in his bowl. What made him sick? I grab the paper towels for the 3rd time today and start sopping up more vomit. He’s watching me from his bed.


I can tell he is sorry.

I’m on the last pile when I recall Doc telling me to keep Jagger off of the patio for the day because he sprayed the weeds. Damn weeds. Perhaps the warnings are true… can and WILL make your pet sick. Ugh.

I am afraid to put the paper towels away. And by the way, Bounty really is the ‘quicker picker upper’! It is now 11:11pm (no lie). My day at the SPLATTER Park is almost over. I am praying that my family does not make this an annual gift.

Live Creatively,





The Sun is Still Shining, but The School Bus Arrived Anyway!

Posted On August 18, 2015| Leave a reply

Summer. Is. Officially. Over.

My future valedictorians have completed 4 full days of school. Happy to report they love their teachers (whew) and we have yet to miss the bus. Small victories are sometimes the sweetest.



Sunshine is a big 2nd grader. She’s in a double class. 48 kids. 2 teachers. Her education is in the hands of Mr. B and Mrs. W this year and I could not be happier. These two should write a book on how to run a double classroom. She patiently waited all summer with hopes of being in their room. Sunshine is an angel at school. She has everyone fooled. She sits quietly for longer than 5 minutes. She completes her work on time without whining. And she never rolls her eyes and utters ‘whatever’. Split personality disorder? I think so.


Yes, that is a ‘leather’ skirt. And yes, she is rocking it!

Boy Wonder is top dog this year. FIFTH GRADE. Doesn’t seem real. He sits in the back of the bus. Carries a binder as big as his sister. Was given a locker. With a combination lock! Three teachers will be graced with his presence all year. Mrs. B (not the other half of the aforementioned Mr. B) is his ‘main’ teacher. He’s lucky. She’s awesome. He did have a moment of panic when he found out that homework could take up to an hour each night. Boy Wonder is not homework’s biggest fan. It’s so weird how his body is taken over by sighing, helpless, pouting aliens when it’s time to do homework. Every. Single. Day.


Checking out his LOCKER at Open House.

I, being the supportive mama that I am, was worried sick about my babies all day. I found that I could not concentrate on my household chores or even sit still long enough to pay the bills. I WebMD’d my symptoms and immediately followed the recommended cure……


Thank goodness for a comfy couch, high-quality reading material and a loyal pup! I felt much better after about 3 hours.

At 3:45 I rushed out the door. I may or may not have an alarm on my phone as a reminder to go to the bus stop every afternoon. Never claimed to be perfect!



Without missing a beat, Sunshine raced to me, flung her backpack at my face and grabbed Jagger’s leash. Well hello to you too! Boy Wonder was the last one off the bus….remember that back row seat? Might not be as coveted when you are 23rd in line to exit a humid bus! My son sauntered up to me and handed me his backpack as well. Apparently on weekdays at 3:50pm, my job title shifts to pack mule. He did hug me (he does love me!), but the hug quickly faded into, “Can I play with friends?”. So much for sitting on the porch hearing tales of their first day while sipping the fresh squeezed lemonade I didn’t make. Humpff!

I decide to bank some “Best Mama Ever” points and tell them to GO PLAY.

Later while breaking bread together, I decide it is a good time to re-visit our After School Routine. Have I ever mentioned that routines make me happy? Very happy. I printed a new copy and went over each item in full detail. Here is our routine: after school.pages  It hangs in the mudroom for all to see. They are responsible for unpacking their bags and laying their folders and lunch boxes on the counter. While they are going potty and getting their snack, I clean out the lunch boxes and root through the folders. Snack consumption takes place at the counter. That way I can chat with them while they eat and get them started on any homework. Once homework is completed, they practice music (if currently enrolled) and do any chores they may have ‘forgotten’ from the day before or any that I make up for them to do! After that they change into sports gear if they have a practice or game. THEN they may have free time. It might sound like  a lot, but if the whining is at a minimum and we all stay focused free time is usually in full swing about 45 minutes after they cross the threshold. Praise Jesus if you are parenting a child who can be given free time right after school and then later focus on homework. My blessings are not wired that way. We’ve tried. Lots of times. Always a fail.

Since I had them held captive, I decided to remind them of our Morning Routine as well. For your viewing pleasure: morning.pages  This also hangs in the mudroom. We rise and shine at 7:15. They have an hour to complete the routine. They average about 20-25 minutes of free time each morning. Yes, I could let them sleep in longer and shorten the free time, but I have found that my kids despise being rushed….they get that from me! The ‘bed’ on the routine is really a suggestion to make their bed. I don’t make mine. Unless I know company is coming! So they wake up, get dressed, make their bed if they feel like it, turn off any lights and head down for breakfast. They eat while I pack lunches. Dishes get cleared and they move on to personal hygiene. There is usually a fight over who gets to use the prep sink to brush their teeth, but other than that, it’s usually painless. Once their mop is brushed and teeth are shiny they pack their snack and load their backpack. FREE TIME is anything they want. On nice days this will take place outside. Not so nice days will find Noah on the computer playing Mind Crap, I mean, Minecraft and Natalie in a comfy spot snuggling Jagger.


Our Routines

And just to tick them off a bit, I pulled out the Night Time Routine too! nightime.pages This little reminder hangs in their rooms. These very visibly placed routines have diminished the broken-record responses that I am tired of uttering!

So, with 4 successful days under our belt, that leaves us about 176 still to tackle. Here’s to taking one day at a time, making sure the wine fridge is stocked and remembering to breathe.

Live Creatively,





Summer (In)Sanity

Posted On July 22, 2015| 3 Replies



the time of year when parents realize just how grossly underpaid teachers actually are!





Keeping it all together for 12 weeks is enough to break even the toughest of tough. Morning chats with the Big Guy upstairs help. I start my summer days praying for patience and the ability to keep my evil thoughts IN my head. My sweet babies do not need to hear that I would rather bale hay than stand in line for the Tahitian Twister water slide for the 20th time. So I smile my happy mama smile and say “yes” to the damn water slide. I pack lunches because I cannot stomach spending $9 on a burnt cheeseburger and yes, I pack bananas and yes, you will eat them! I will not, but you will. Hi, my name is Mandy and I have a fear of bananas (and carrots).

Check out this made-just-for-me notepad that I found in Idaho…..


I seriously cannot wait to use it! I love sending notes to school on notepads like this one! You can buy your own here. I am so in love with her stuff. The cards crack me up!

Ok, so this week marks the 9th week of summer for my team. We have about 3 weeks left. Which makes me kinda sick to my stomach. The bucket list is slowly (very slowly) getting completed. We are going to have to put things in high gear to get through the list! And to be perfectly honest, while I am sad about summer ending, I am a little giddy about getting my life back come August 12th! My Julie The Cruise Director uniform is wearing thin and I have run out of reasons why I am making them READ and complete a bridging workbook. My latest reason is simply because I don’t want them to be the dumbest kid in their new class. That usually silences the little cherubs for a few minutes. Here’s a look at the workbook I MAKE them complete:


It’s awesome. The pages are colorful and it cycles trough Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies and Fitness. There are also flashcards and stickers! The stickers don’t do much for Boy Wonder, but Sunshine is highly motivated by them. You would think that ‘Workbook Time’ would be a time for me to have some alone time. It’s not. I sit between my two budding scholars and respond “You know this” every time they proclaim in their whiniest voice, “I can’t do this one!” Ah, summertime! Bonus: they are on sale now! Buy here. Your kids will thank you 😉


Here’s Boy Wonder working hard….the deer antlers were sending him the answers! Yes, I made them do pages in Idaho!

I also make them read. I know, worst mom ever. Boy Wonder informed me that there were no books that interested him. Being the mother of superhero can be daunting. I graciously took the burden off of him and chose all of his required books for the summer. He is now enjoying Superfudge by Judy Blume. Sunshine on the other hand had to be reeled-in at the library! I think she wanted to test the 50 book limit rule! She’s a reading machine. I love this about her, but I am beginning to nod off as Mr. Putter’s adventures with his cat, Tabby have lost their pizazz! Another reason teachers are grossly underpaid!

My summer cocktails, tennis with the girls and commiserating with Doc have helped. The constant rain here in Central Ohio has made me lose my cool on more than one occasion, but the sun was out today, YAY! We trekked to the pool, even though, GASP, there might not be any friends there. Since when is your sibling not your friend? Try growing up on 10 acres, no neighbors, no cell phone, three TV channels and two brothers!

After I was subjected to the ‘Sunscreen Dance’ once again….I am sure you have seen me following my kids as they squirm and dance while I am spraying them. Yes, I use  the spray. I know it doesn’t work as well as the lotions, but I pick my battles people! After 2 minutes of telling them to stand still, the sunscreen application was complete. I got settled in my lounge chair and within mere minutes both kids were at my feet staring at me. The water was cold. Wah!

What else have I endured in these past 9 weeks of summertime????

Two lice scares. When my kids hear me say, “grab the comb and come here” they answer with, “do I have the bugs?” Thankfully they have just been scares. God bless the mamas who have dealt with the actual bugs! The silver lining is that all of our bedding, blankets, etc. have been washed and sanitized a couple of times! My washing machine is sure to crap out on me at any moment now.

Speaking of the washing machine. It had to be a man that deemed it appropriate for baseball pants to be WHITE! WTH? I have spent a small fortune on OxiClean but must admit I bask in the “Oohs” and “Ahhs” I hear from Boy Wonder when he notices I got ALL of the stains out! I cannot tell you how many times I have washed that uniform this summer. Add in Sunshine’s softball uniform, her leo’s for gymnastics and the swim team suits….did I mention that my washing machine must hate me?


I love that he always finds me behind my lens and gives me a little grin.


One of the gazillion leo’s I have washed this summer….

Let’s talk swim caps. Good Gawd! I will only put them on my children at the pool. In front of others. This way they can not scream out in pain as if I am intentionally pulling all of their hair out. If they continue this swimming gig, I see buzz-cuts in our future.


Might have been a little low and tight on this particular night! It will make her a better person, I’m sure.

My vocabulary has diminished as well. It seems I can only utter certain phrases each day:

Put your bike away.

Close the door.

Did you feed the dog?

Don’t forget to pack your snack.

What do you mean you left  your snack at home?

Close the door.

Ask your dad.

Get your face out of your phone.

Wet suits and towels belong in the laundry room.

Yes, you have to shower.

Close the door.

But let’s be honest. I will miss it all when they are back in school. My house is loud and crazy from the moment their little eyes open. We laugh. We argue. We dance. We play. The frozen treats are dwindling and we have started shopping for ‘school clothes’. These last three weeks will go too quickly. We have one last trip to enjoy, a 10th birthday to celebrate and a few more nights of staying up too late.

It’s 6pm. Boy Wonder is at baseball tryouts, Sunshine is giggling with some friends, Jagger is snoozing at my feet. I should probably start dinner. Perhaps I will close the door and pick up the wet towels on my way to the kitchen.

Live Creatively,



Holy Matrimony

Posted On July 14, 2015| 4 Replies


Ok, so it was 11 years ago, but I still consider myself a bride! Pretty sure I could not fit into my wedding gown, but I am not losing any sleep over it. I married my partner in crime 11 years ago…. 07/09/04. We planned the shindig in 7 months. My mom did most of the grunt work since Fiance’ and I were living in PA, but getting hitched in OH. Yes, we lived in sin before tying the knot. The good Lord has forgiven us so it’s alright for you to as well!

Doc can’t ever do anything the simple way. He made me solve a puzzle to get my ring. Here’s a picture of the puzzle…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet it? Yeah, I didn’t either. By this time (11/26/03) Doc had known me for like 18 years and he was certain I wouldn’t be able to solve his puzzle. After a few minutes of me racking my brain and him undoubtably sweating bullets he put us both out of our misery and handed me the card & pen. The card said: “Well Ewe Mare Me?” Check one: AMD or AMM.


Yes, this is a page from our wedding scrapbook….

Wishing Well=Well (Will). Lamb=Ewe (You). Horse=Mare (Marry). Hospital ID=Me (Jeremy). Riddle solved! I checked AMM! The option boxes were a throw-back to when we started seriously dating 5 years prior…..he romantically asked me to ‘go with him’ on a bar napkin:


When it comes to Doc, I always check yes!


Here’s a little glimpse of the road leading to our wedding and the big day itself! It’s been a sweet 11 years. Some days it feels like 11 months and others it feels like 11 lifetimes, but I couldn’t imagine being someone else’s Mrs. I love you Doc! Happy Versary!


My dress guru and friend, Willy.

Bachelorette Trip to VEGAS!

Bachelorette Trip to VEGAS!

When your dad is a photographer you get to play dress-up before your wedding and take LOTS of pictures. It was a fun day! Every bride should do this!


Me & Sophie….our first child. Sitting on the front porch of the home I grew up in. That cool window in the background now hangs in my house!


When a bee flies into your veil, it is good to have your Mom close by to save the day!


Smiling for my Daddy.


After several hours I have lost my cool….


Pretty sure my Mom told me to “Act like a lady”……


I LOVED my veil!

Rehearsal....don't we look thrilled?

Rehearsal….don’t we look thrilled?

Me and my beauties!

Me and my beauties!

Doc and his guys having a deep conversations....about what drinks will be served in the limo!

Doc looks scared to death….his buddies do not look very reassuring either!


You can dress me up in a fancy gown, but I will always add my own little bit of hillbilly!


The happy parents…..

My Daddy took these next three pictures from his front row seat!


Me cracking up & Doc rolling his eyes…..


Shoving that ring on!


Sealing the deal!


We are always laughing….always! Sometimes behind each other’s back, but oh well!


Jello shots in the bus!


Love my “trespassing is fine” bridesmaids!


The whole gang. I love them so much!


Despite weeks of lessons, I had no idea what I was doing….Doc pushed me around like a doll! Seriously, look at the grip I have on his arm!


Dancing with my baby bro!


And dancing with myself!


All the men singing “Oh Mandy” to me!


We don’t like cake….so we served chocolate chip cookies instead. And apparently my future was so bright I needed shades!


He’s so kind………

Can’t believe that was 11 years ago!

As the saying goes: “May they live:

Live Creatively,





Game Changer: Heel Genius

Posted On July 6, 2015| 2 Replies


Heel Yes!

I will spare y’all the gory details, but let’s just say that I am a bit of a ‘picker’……of the rough skin on my feet! It totally turns Doc on. Not! Because of this lovely habit and my aversion to shoes my heels rebel. Right at the back, you know the part that expands when you take a step?….they crack wide open. Not a tiny crack, a deep crevice. Deep enough to draw blood.

These cracks force me to walk on the balls of my feet, like Barbie. Glamorous, I know. Usually only one heel cracks open at a time, so I only have to Barbie walk on one foot. Picture it. It gives me the appearance of having one leg shorter than the other. Needless to say my teammates all fight over who gets has to walk next to me!

My good friend, TK gave me this:

Game Changer: Heel Genius

Total GAME CHANGER! At bedtime, I slather a bit on my abused heels, cover with a sexy sock and roll over to kiss Doc’s cringed-up face. Apparently he thinks I should sleep sock-less. And pajama-less, but that is a post for another day…..ah, marriage.

Don’t take my word for it. Follow the link: Soap & Glory’s Heel Genius. I am pretty sure you can buy it at Sephora for about $10, but I am not positive, because mine was Free!

Live Creatively,