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!

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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,

mamaSig

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School Is OUT!

Posted On June 1, 2015| 1 Reply

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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:

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

 

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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?

 

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

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Such a good sport!

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

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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!

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These boys are gonna be trouble in college!

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

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

 

 

 

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My Daddy Is Seventy

Posted On May 30, 2015| 5 Replies
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Charles Henry Dortmund

On May 17th my Daddy turned 70. SEVENTY! He was 27 years old when I was born.  The moment he met me he named me ‘Princess’ as every new daddy to a daughter should! He’s been my Prince every day since. My dad is the oldest of 4, born to Paul & Bertie Dortmund. They were exceptional folks and I am sad for those who never knew them. My dad perfected the role of big brother to his younger sisters. I will never tire of the stories they tell. His younger brother was born when he was 18. You would assume that they had nothing in common but that could not be farther from the truth. This post is long and picture heavy….you have been warned!

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How cute is this?

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My son now owns this gun. I have looked at this picture a hundred times and have it in a pile to frame for Noah’s room. Today was the first time I noticed the shadow of a man in the background….do you see it? Today is May 17th, my Dad’s birthday. It is also my Grandpa Dortmund’s birthday. How cool is it that father and son shared a birthday?! I don’t know for certain, but the silhouette certainly looks like my Grandpa. I think he’s saying ‘Hi’ to me. He does that often, usually when I need it most. Happy Heavenly Bday Grandpa D!

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See that cold sore? My sweet father passed that gene onto me…..!

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Handsome High School Grad

My Dad doesn’t have a college degree to brag about, hasn’t written a best seller (although he’s working on it), doesn’t own a tux or drive a fancy car. He rarely wears his wedding band, can’t speak a second language, hates to dress up and has no desire to travel abroad. What he does have is the total adoration of myself and my kids, countless years of happy memories with people who love him, a rock-solid marriage and a heart of gold. My dad can do lots of things. He’s a Prince, remember? He can beat cancer, survive heart disease & quadruple bypass, play the piano, hit the bullseye, diagnose and fix computer problems over the phone, build me my dream house, make my kids giggle, stretch a dollar and he can speak dog. If your dog has ever met my Dad, you know what I am talking about.

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My Dad is a silly man. He is quick with his one-liners and always keeps us guessing.

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My Dad taught me to be quick with the camera……so glad I didn’t miss this silly moment in Atlantic City!

Christmas gifts are usually home-made and fulfill a need. One year I received an electric screwdriver….a screwdriver with an electrical cord glued into the end. Another year he wrapped up my little league trophies which I had secretly thrown away months earlier and many moons after I retired from playing the clarinet it ended up under the tree as well. I fear that my husband has spent too much time with my Dad because this past Christmas Jeremy gave our kids a ‘fart in a jar’ as a surprise gift. Perhaps I married my father!

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Two peas in a pod many years ago creating something in the shop. Notice Jeremy tickling my Dad’s ear!

This next picture is one of my faves. My Dad is sitting on a golf course watching my brothers in a college match. I took the camera from his neck and captured his sweetness:

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My Dad never played golf. Didn’t see a reason to. He will tell you that he isn’t into sports, but it is he who taught me how to play softball and spent countless hours catching my pitches. It was he who attended every softball and volleyball game, track meet and cheerleading event. When my brothers took up the sport of golf, he learned the game. He caddied for both of them and relished in their wins. This picture shows a proud Daddy.

Growing up with my Dad was fun. Here are a few favorite memories:

-keeping him company while he changed the oil in a car

-riding with him on our huge IH tractor

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All 3 of us spent many hours on that tractor.

-watching him carefully pack stumps full of dynamite and blow them sky high

-flea markets at the old Drive In

-talks, lots of long talks about life….he always answers my questions

-making a pet cemetery in the back field

-pizza buffet at Pizza Villa

-The Box Seat (video rental store we owned for a bit)

-him being the first “Room Dad” at Olentangy Elementary

-swimming at Alum Creek ‘beach’

-building snow creatures and saucer-sled runs

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My freshman year of HS. Mom let me skip school to play in the snow with my Daddy. We built a teddy bear. It was around Valentine’s Day, 1988.

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One of many saucer-sled runs!

…years later he is still making saucer-runs, now they are for Noah and Natalie: #chicis70

-crying on his shoulder from a broken heart

-shopping at Express for a 6th grade dance outfit

-watching him love my Mom unconditionally

-driving lessons

-lunch dates at school, even in high school

-fixing me ‘specials’ for breakfast

-holding hands and singing ‘skip to my lou’

-snuggles, lots of snuggles

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Snuggles with our puppies.

-making s’mores in the living room

-teaching me to shoot a gun before I could read

-summer showers in the rain

-rides in the wheelbarrow

-walks in the garden

-Saturdays at Acker’s Hardware

-pet goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and geese

-lots of hours in the shop

-rolled $100 bills hidden in the Christmas tree

-splitting logs in the ravine, I will forever associate the smell of chainsaws with my Dad

Seriously, the list could go on and on. I had a fabulous childhood with this man and he has made my adult life pretty amazing too. We always take pictures together. He was my first boyfriend.

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2009, last day of radiation treatment for stage 3 colon cancer.

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68th birthday….drinking a beer at a flea market!

I am constantly taking the camera from my Dad and snapping his pic. He puts up a small fight, but I always win.

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His little cone from Dubbs!

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Yes, beard is good!

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This next photo is one of my favorites; my Daddy in his workshop.

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Making fireworks and bottle rockets for the kids. His workshop is his little slice of heaven. The kids leave him notes, in permanent marker and he wouldn’t have it any other way!

And being the hip Grandpa that he is….he even sends selfies to the kids:

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They crack up knowing Grandpa’s selfies must involve a mirror!

My hubby asked my Dad for his blessing before he proposed to me. That was a special day for my Dad. Of course he teased Jeremy a bit first, but I had mad respect for Jeremy when I found out. My Dad was the one who had the final say in what gown I wore. My mom and I had narrowed it down to two. First one he saw he liked. Second one, he cried. Done!

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Dress #1

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Dress #2

My Dad was involved in my wedding from day one. He schlepped things around for my Mom, listened to all of the glamorous details and pitched right in when it was time to decorate the church. Here we are taking a break from decorating:

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He also gladly graciously attended dance lessons and helped me through our waltz.

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“You Light Up My Life”

My Daddy was with me for the birth of Noah and Natalie. He took pictures in the delivery room. Some will gag at the thought of it, but for me and Jeremy it was no big deal. My Dad brings a sense of calmness to things. We knew he would give us our space at the same time be a supportive presence. The pictures he took are amazing. And to know that both of my kids met him moments after arriving in this crazy world makes me smile.

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Last minute words of reassurance before becoming a mama.

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Noah and Grandpa

He claims he missed a few crucial pics when Nat was born. Once he realized she was a girl, the tears started flowing. He told me later that Jeremy was beyond lucky, because he had just met his ‘forever friend’. Here’s Natalie napping on Grandpa’s belly, something she still does to this day!

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I’m not lying….this was taken last summer:

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It’s no wonder she adores her Grandpa. He is her make-up model and nap buddy who lets her shoot guns, feed his dogs apples, drive his 4-wheeler and sip his Pepsi. I know how she feels. I adored my Grandpa Dortmund too! He would let her do ANYTHING to him!

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And these two….they are inseparable.

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Noah is a Mini-Chic. They text and call each other every few days. I swear they have their own language. They can disappear for hours and never be bored. Noah truly misses Grandpa when they are separated for a long time. These two are kindred spirits.

Being the planner that I am, I started thinking of ways to celebrate his 70th about a year ago. With over 1500 miles between us, I knew it would be tricky. It would be impossible for me to be in Idaho for his big day. He hates parties. But so many people love him. So, I secretly created and invitation to a “Card Party” for him. Here’s the invite that I mailed to friends all over the US….

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It worked! The cards, pictures and memories started arriving in early May and flooded his mailbox. He was honored! I wanted more though. I wanted some alone time with my Daddy. I decided I wanted to recreate our first Father/Daughter trip…… it was November, 1987 and my dad surprised me with a weekend in NYC. I remember practically everything about that trip. I loved it. It was perfect (except for the food poisoning from the very expensive steak I ate at the rooftop restaurant). That trip 28 years ago began my love affair with The Big Apple. I pitched the idea to my Dad and he was in. Check back for my blog about our recent trip to NYC….. we took the city by storm and loved every minute of it!

HAPPY 70th Daddy, I love you!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

 

 

What My Kids Learned in NYC!

Posted On April 21, 2015| Leave a reply

NYC with kids

My extremely intelligent kids chose NYC as our Spring Break destination this year. Perhaps they were tired of me traveling there without them….

They planned our week by researching what they wanted to do and see. I took their requests and organized our days. We left the hotel before breakfast and returned after dinner each day and we still didn’t complete our list! A perfect excuse to return! Noah and Nat loved the city and embraced it from the moment they spotted Miss Liberty from the airplane. I am beyond thrilled that they love my favorite city! Here’s a snapshot of what they learned on their first trip to THE BIG APPLE!

Spotting the Statue of Liberty from the plane is priceless.

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LaGuardia is quite welcoming.

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That a douche bag is not a new type of backpack.

Selfies with Mama are non-negotiable.

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Avoid making eye contact with very angry Italian men dropping the f-bomb while screaming at  cabbies in the middle of the street.

Subways are awesome and Columbus should get some.

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Lady Liberty has a huge nose!

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The lobby at the Waldorf Astoria is a prime cartwheel location.

Mama’s fear of heights is real and she should never go to the Top of the Rock again.

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Always ask ‘how much’ before taking a rickshaw ride back to your hotel.

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The fish on the streets of Chinatown are real and they stink.

Too many New Yorkers died on September 11th.

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Pedestrians don’t have the right away.

The Wicked Witch wasn’t really wicked.

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Times Square is cray!

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Manhattan is breathtaking.

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FAO Schwarz is a slice of heaven.

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Say ‘no thank you’ to the aggressive Elmo in Times Square when asked for a photo.

Brooklyn has the best pizza in the world.

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The bull on Wall Street has large balls (you said balls!).

Mama will make you jump at the “Friends Fountain” in Central Park.

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Pretzels from a street vendor are scrumptious.

Watching ice skaters wipe out is always good entertainment.

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Milk with breakfast costs $4, you better drink it.

The Museum of Natural History has two doors for a reason….just act like you know where you are going, keep your head down and don’t stop. Crazy long line avoided.

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The Ghostbusters firehouse is real!

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Teenagers like to kiss with their tongues.

The rocks in Central Park are better than any playground in Ohio.

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Homeless people make Natalie sad.

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Men can wear dresses, high heels and carry a purse.

Ron from Harry Potter likes to eat at The Sugar Factory too.

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If you lean over the yellow line to look at the subway tracks you will get your butt swatted.

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Grand Central Station is totes amazing.

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Never exit your cab into traffic, always use the curbside door.

Graffiti is cool.

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When Daddy says “Go” at a crosswalk, MOVE IT!

The piano from the movie Big is not overrated.

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Broadway performers are mesmerizing.

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Houston is pronounced Howston.

Having breakfast at the counter in a diner is very entertaining.

No entry, means no entry.

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Serendipity 3 has the best frozen hot chocolate and is a great place to play I Spy.

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Larry, Rexy, Dexter and Sacagawea do not currently live at the Museum of Natural History, but Dum-Dum does!.

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The shakes at The Shake Shack really are worth the wait.

Swatch watches make telling time way more fun.

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The macaroni and cheese at Juniors is not that great but the ginormous hotdog is.

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Magnolia Bakery makes the YUMMIEST cupcakes.

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Everyone in NYC has a selfie stick (except us).

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Hand sanitizer is your friend.

The “Ga” in Glinda is silent.

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Getting on the #loveison cam in Times Square is worth the crowd.

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Taxis honk. A. Lot.

If you watch the dancers in the Subway have some cash for their tip jar.

We look good dangling from a steel beam.

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Not all trains make every stop on Saturdays.

The black spots all over the sidewalk are gum.

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory only takes cash.

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Pack comfortable shoes.

Spray paint art is totally worth $20.

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NYC at night is beautiful.

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Walking blocks north and south is way faster than west to east.

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If a taxi light is on, it is available, so start waving and whistling.

The Naked Cowboy isn’t totally naked, thank goodness.

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It’s actually Radio City Music Hall,  not Radio City Musical.

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A cute box of candy can most definitely cost $24.

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Little Italy is not so little.

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The Empire State building is our new fave.

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We are counting the moments until we can return……

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Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

 

 

 

 

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Someone Called Me Chubby…

Posted On April 13, 2015| 9 Replies

A few days ago someone in my family called me chubby. It was not my husband. He would never do such a thing….he does not want to take the chance of getting punched in the throat while he sleeps! 😉

It was someone I love dearly and it was said in complete honesty with no intention of hurting my feelings.

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Therefore I continue to love this truth-teller. Because let’s be honest, I am chubby. Please don’t be a hater, and think I am some crazy woman who thinks I am fat. I am not saying that. I don’t suffer from poor self esteem, but I am only 5’3″ and when you add extra pounds to that sized frame…..it’s hard to hide it! I’ve been chubby for a couple of years now. I don’t really like it, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to stop avoiding the T-25 DVD’s we own (Shaun T is evil) or quit eating Thin Mints. I buy workout clothes to wear, well, to wear for everything but working out. Someone who shall remain nameless loves to ask, “did you fake work-out today?”, Grrrrr! I live with a man who is super in shape, makes time to work out EVERY. DAY., eats well and looks hot in a pair of jeans. This same person quietly encourages me, never shames me and would do back flips if I entered our work out room to, well, actually work out!

Growing up I was skinny. I didn’t care. I don’t remember ever thinking about weight, mine or anyone else’s for that matter. I had friends of all shapes and sizes. And why wouldn’t I? We ate Reese Cups by the bag load and chugged Coke for fun. My daily lunch in Middle School and High School consisted of a bagel with butter. REAL butter. A bag of cheese puffs and a Little Debbie peanut butter bar. I am sure I drank milk, whole milk because bottled water wasn’t invented yet! Michelle Obama would be shaking her head for sure!

For your viewing pleasure…….a peek at my curve-less, skinny high school body. And please take a moment to appreciate the ‘natural’ Sun-In highlights.

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Apparently I wanted to look taller, hence the tippy toes!

My mom served us a balanced meal for dinner. Sliced bread was our staple side dish. I was ‘encouraged’ to clean my plate and was often left at the table alone staring at a pile of green veggies. Breakfast was a different story! Our cereal cupboard, yes, we had an entire cupboard dedicated to cereal, consisted of Honeycombs, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms and Mini Wheats. Most mornings I had two bowls because choosing just one was too difficult. If my dad was home there was a large pile of bacon readily available, most likely fried in Crisco! We didn’t have a pantry, who did? Instead, our snacks lived in the lazy susan under the counter. We always had Fritos. The pretzel rods were stored on the counter in a cool old Mason jar and the Lays potato chips were kept in a Charles Chips tin. You simply grabbed a basket off the wall, yes, off the wall…….there were various sizes available, each hanging on their own nail, lined it with a paper napkin, filled it with your snacks and carried on. And when you needed something a little sweet you just opened the cookie jar (on the counter) and helped yourself! My mom still uses the same cookie jar and my kids think it is the coolest thing ever! It is never empty. Never! We always had Pepsi, lots of Pepsi. And when Kroger came out with Big K, well the Dortmund family expanded their flavor options! In college I survived on Raman Noodles, Taco Bell, Bud Light and Hot Pockets. Obviously I had a rocking metabolism, because my weight never changed.

I really had no idea how much I weighed until I got pregnant with Noah at age 31 and had the constant weigh-ins at the OB-GYN. I gained 20 pounds with Noah and actually weighed less after he was born, I thank breastfeeding for that little gift! Two years later I gained 24 pounds while preggo with Natalie. Once again, thanks to breastfeeding and chasing a 2 year old, I lost that weight quickly. Yay me! Enjoy these belly shots. So fun! Thank goodness I switched colors, because my belly looks identical in the two pictures. I guess that’s why EVERYONE told me I was definitely going to have another boy…..NOT! And don’t let Noah’s sweetness fool you, he was not a fan of my belly. It made it too difficult for him to snuggle me!

Belly Picture     Belly Picture

Flash forward seven and a half years….I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bikini, I strategically place a child in front of me for family pictures and worship the creator of Spanx! Have I loved my body lately? No. Have I obsessed over it? No. Have I done anything to change it? No. I am loved, surrounded by dear friends and healthy. Who cares if my jeans are a bit snug! Unfortunately, they are more than a ‘bit’ snug these days. I have back pain, which according to my doctor/husband would go away if my core was stronger….damn core and even though I rarely sit down and play as much tennis as I can I am out of shape. There, I said it. I. Am. Out. Of. Shape. And it took the honesty of a loved one for it to finally sink in. I’m ready. I don’t need the con-caved stomach of my teens or the bony little arms. I am not aspiring to fit into an XS. I want to stand beside my kids in family pictures, to ditch the ass-covering blardigans and MAYBE wear a tankini to the pool!

Christmas, 2014

Christmas, 2014….child in front of me, check. Blardigan, check. (The Spanx stayed home, it was Christmas!)

I am choosing healthy, not skinny. My goals are reachable. I can do this. Ready. Set. Go! #worthy

Stay tuned for how this all works out!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

Families For A Cure’s Experience Grant

Posted On April 6, 2015| Leave a reply

By now you know that my favorite charity is Families For A Cure.

Families For A Cure

www.familiesforacure.org

You can check out my previous post; The “C” Word… to learn more about it.

A week before my son was to begin 4th grade we found out that his teacher was battling cancer.  The news was devastating. When Noah found out he had been assigned to Miss Deck’s class he actually shouted for joy and fist pumped the air. He was thrilled. He was certain that all of the rumors were true and that Miss Deck was going to be the greatest! His enthusiasm was contagious. A couple of days later I had to break the news to him that she was fighting for her life. My little boy’s heart sank. He knew all about cancer.

We prayed. A lot. I reached out to Miss Deck a few days before Open House. I just wanted her to know that we were excited to meet her and that she could count on us to pray for her and support her throughout her journey. We met her a few days later. When she realized who I was, she hugged me. The rumors were indeed true, she was the greatest!

That was in August. Within the first month of being back to school a group of parents rallied together and put on a fundraiser for Miss Deck. It was beyond amazing. The fundraiser, “All On Deck for Deck” raised over $5,000.00 in one evening. The money was given to Miss Deck to use for expenses as she traveled to Texas with the hope of being accepted into a trial to fight her very rare form of thyroid cancer. You can check out the Facebook page here.

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Noah & Miss Deck

Miss Deck traveled to Texas in early September and returned home without great news. She was not a candidate for the trial and three new cancerous nodes were found in her neck. I remember reading the news and literally freezing. I handed to phone to my husband and left the room to cry. How was I going to tell Noah? We all truly believed that God would answer our prayers by admitting Miss Deck to this study. Now what?

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Noah all “Decked Out” for Miss Deck’s first day back.

We had only known Miss Deck for about a month, but we were totally smitten. In less than 30 days she had restored Noah’s love of learning and solidified a place in his heart. We needed to do something for her. Jeremy and I chatted, it was all we could think about. We kept coming back to travel. Travel is a huge part of our lives so we began thinking of how we could “gift” Miss Deck a trip. We couldn’t. She is our son’s teacher and there is a $25 cap on gifts from students. Unless the trip we would gift her was a trip to the Dollar Store, well, we were out of luck!

Thank goodness for Families For A Cure. It only took a few conversations with our friends and a plan was in place. We (the Mathis family) would nominate Miss Deck for the Experience Grant. The Board of FFAC would vote, and fingers crossed she would be chosen.

The Experience Grant through Families For A Cure….. in a nutshell is awarded to a Cancer Warrior who is currently battling the disease. The recipient works with a representative of FFAC to plan their experience.

We nominated Miss Deck and she was chosen as the recipient of the very first Experience Grant! I was lucky enough to be one of the reps from FFAC to work with her to plan her experience. She chose a weekend in NYC….right up my alley! Her experience was planned in a few short weeks thanks to the help of many folks who hate cancer and wanted to give Miss Deck a weekend to remember forever.

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FFAC and Miss Deck

Click here to donate to Families For A Cure Experience Grant and make a difference in a cancer warrior’s life.

Miss Deck’s Experience will be detailed in a upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

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The “C” Word…..

Posted On March 23, 2015| 2 Replies

UnknownCancer sucks and I hate it.

Growing up I didn’t know anyone who had cancer. I doubt I even really understood what is was until I was much older. My mom had a cousin who died from leukemia, but I didn’t know that was cancer. I realize how lucky I was to go 30+ years without having cancer truly invade my life. Now I feel like it surrounds me. I want it to go away. Forever.

My friends Sean and Shannon lost their dad to cancer in the spring of 2007. I knew Joe well and his death saddened me. I was sad for his kids because I knew how much they adored their dad. I was sad for his grand babies, because their memories would be few. I remember attending his memorial service with my little babies and feeling overwhelmed. I couldn’t imagine losing a parent. I was only 34 years old. Scary. Two short years later I was faced with the possibility of losing my dad to cancer. Cancer.

My dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2009. I will remember that day always. He was living in Idaho, but had been staying with me in Ohio for a few weeks to run all of the electric in our under-construction home. He wasn’t feeling too great. He had hemorrhoids and they were beginning to wear on him. He had been with us for several weeks. On his last night I was with him as he was packing. He told me he was pretty sure he had cancer. I probably laughed. Cancer? My dad? No way. Why would he? It was just a bad case of hemorrhoids.

As time does, my memories of that February six years ago have faded a bit. Luckily, the writer in me started a Caring Bridge page. It was a great release for me and a wonderful way to keep loved ones up to date on my dad’s journey. Below is my first ‘entry’ from May, 2009:

If you haven’t met my Dad, you are missing out!  He is beyond amazing…
His story begins a few months ago.  He was having bowel issues, but believed it was just hemorrhoids.  Being a male and not wanting to make a fuss, he ignored the problem until it became unbearable.  He was staying with me in Ohio in February and I could tell he was miserable.  He promised he would get a colonoscopy as soon as he returned home to Idaho.  The day before he left he confided in me that he thought he might have cancer…..
He had the colonoscopy and it was not good.  The doctor knew right away that there was a problem.  He ran further tests and sent my folks home to wait.  Two days later he was told he had colon cancer.  For two days I prayed like never before.  I was specific….no cancer.  I spoke to him moments after he received the news.  He told me that this was just another bump in the road of life and that everything would be OK.  Always being the Daddy, not wanting to cause any heartache.  My head was swimming.  I wanted to hold him, to touch him and to some how take it all away.  I began to pray that God heal his body completely.  Within a few days my folks had packed up their truck and begun the three day journey to Ohio.  My husband, Jeremy, had set up appointments at The James and there was no time to waste.  After several appointments, many exams and numerous questions, we were ready to fight the cancer fight.  My Dad’s cancer is stage three, the tumor the size of my fist.  The plan of attack is 5 weeks of chemo and radiation, a few weeks off and then surgery.  The hope is that the chemo and radiation will shrink the tumor making the surgery less invasive.  The ultimate goal…..to be cancer free and feeling good for his 40th wedding anniversary on July 19th!  Today is May 29th.  He has completed three of the five weeks of treatment.  He is friends with all the nurses, makes his doctors laugh out loud and continues to amaze us all with his positive attitude.  He is feeling great.  His body it tolerating the chemo and radiation very well.  He is actually feeling better than before the diagnosis, which makes us all think that the tumor really is shrinking.  YAY!  He proudly shows his ‘radiation markings’ to my kids and loves to talk about the people he has met along this walk.  Today he told me that he thanked God for giving him this type of cancer and not something worse.  He has seen children with no hair, men with tumors in their mouths along with many others worse off than him.  He claims that he is ‘still ahead of the game’…..this coming from a man who has already suffered through quadruple bypass surgery really does make you stop and take stock of your own complaints.  
The outpouring of support has meant so much to my family.  The prayers, meals, cards, the constant ‘checking in’, we are surrounded in this battle and we are determined to come out on top.  There are no words to express our thanks.
I will keep you updated on my Dad’s journey through this website.  Please continue to keep him in your prayers.  God Bless.

Surgery Day_2

My Daddy & Me on surgery day.

Reading that entry instantly takes me back to that horribly scary time in my life. My babies were, well, babies. Noah was 3 and Natalie was 1.5. She was just getting to know her grandpa and Noah was already his biggest fan. My dad’s cancer journey has a happy ending. He is cancer free. Five years now! Praise God. Each year it gets easier to breath and to relax, but as his scans approach I find myself holding my breath and waiting for the world to crumble down around me once again. Cancer sucks. You can read all of my journals here.

Too many of my friends have lost loved ones to cancer. Some are fighting the fight as I type this post. Cancer has robbed those I care for of their moms, dads, sisters, brothers, children and friends. It always seems to be lurking in the shadows. I hate that it is such a common disease now. That people aren’t shocked when they hear of a new diagnosis.

Noah’s teacher is fighting the cancer monster for the second time in her short life. She is brave and determined to win the fight. She is inspiring and has made such a difference in Noah’s life. We pray for her daily and were recently overjoyed when she shared news of being accepted into a new study to help fight her very rare cancer. I have no doubt that this incredible young lady will kick cancer’s ass.

Last fall I had a cancer scare of my own. Everything came back benign, thank God. The waiting was unbearable. The news of no cancer was delightful. For a week my head was spinning. Just a week. It was a tiny taste of what cancer warriors face every day for years. It isn’t fair. Life is meant to be lived. Not spent unable to breathe out of fear.

Because I hate cancer, I help fight it. I run the Race for the Cure. I donate to the American Cancer Society. I participate in The Relay for Life and in the Crawl For Cancer. I donate to The James Cancer Hospital. And most dear to my heart, I donate my money and time to Families For A Cure….a local non profit established by my friend Shannon’s husband and other cancer haters, dedicated to making the lives of cancer patients and their supporters better. Their goal is to raise $1 million dollars to help fund cancer research and patient care programs. And I am happy to report that they are well on their way to reaching that goal. Check out Families For A Cure. It will make you feel good!

I wish my world was cancer free. It isn’t. So I choose to do what I can to make that wish come true. The sooner, the better.

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

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Wall of Windows

Posted On March 19, 2015| 3 Replies

What’s a wall of windows, you ask? Well, take a look:

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I began this project years ago on a small wall in our first house. I loved it. Here’s my first wall of windows….6677 Wynwright_32

It was my mission to find the perfect old window. I would scour antique stores and flea markets for hours.

When we decided to build a new house my vision for my Wall of Windows grew. I began collecting gobs of windows (my husband was thrilled!). I bought all sizes and shapes and added them to my ever-growing pile in the garage.

Once we were moved in and got somewhat settled, I began my project.

I cannot tell you how many compliments I get on my window wall. Mine is large, but adding just one vintage window to your house would be cool too. As you can see I am in need of one more small window to go to the right of the speaker.

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It is #1 on my list for the summer flea markets! And there are a few blank windows too….always a work in progress!

 

Wall of Windows Steps:

1-Gently wash the window. Be careful not to chip off too much of the old paint…that’s what gives the window it’s character.

2-Seal it with polyurethane. I like Minwax Polycrylic in the satin finish.

Minwax Protective Finish

3-Add a hanger to the back. Larger windows will require two. These suckers are heavy!

4-Map out your wall.

5-Hang windows.

6-Add pictures. I do this after I hang them for a couple of reasons. First, I want to make sure I like the arrangement. Second, I want to see the overall arrangement before choosing my pictures. Some will be black and white, some vintage, some color. I want it to flow.

Mapping out your wall: this is crucial. Don’t just start hanging your windows. You will have lots of holes in your wall and a pissed off husband. Get some graph paper. Measure your wall. Measure each window. Draw each window on the graph paper….yes, you will be using your high school math! (Ex: each box on the graph paper = an inch.) Thanks Mr. Tussing! Be sure to label your windows with a sticky note and match it to the window you draw on the graph paper!

Cut out the graph paper windows. Arrange and rearrange until you are happy. Starting with the middle window, begin hanging. Work your way out and up and down. Now, step back and admire your creation. You did it!

Adding Pictures: measure the openings. These windows were not intended to be used as frames, so the sizes will not be perfect. Order pictures larger that the openings and trim them to fit. Clean the glass really well. Then place a clear scrapbook adhesive tab on the front corners of each picture and secure to the back of the opening. Done!

I always avoid choosing windows that need repairs. Especially to the caulking. You will never match the old, weathered caulk and it’s a pain. Be picky people. Search for the windows in good shape! And expect to pay between $20-50 per window. Before you gasp and choke, think about what you would spend for a large wooden frame with character….much more!

My greatest source for unique windows is my Dad. He lives in Idaho and often rehabs old houses or businesses. Many of my windows have come to me via him. He gathers them, I sort through them and ship my favorites home. He has lots of windows left in his collection. He has recently decided to sell a few. Visit his website to contact him. So exciting, right?! Your Wall of Windows is just around the corner, literally!

I found this next beauty in an antique store and paid a hefty price for it, but I had to have it. It spoke to me. Seriously. My home was under construction. Walls were up and painted. I brought my new purchase to the house and chatted with my builder about my plans. Lucky for me my builder was my Dad. And he cannot say no to me! I wanted the window on the wall going from our media room to the basement. He agreed it would look neat there, but told me I should wait to hang it until we moved in so it didn’t get broken. Apparently I had not been clear…..I did not want in ON the wall, I wanted it IN the wall. Yep, IN. A few slices to the drywall, some trim and touch-up paint and look…..

Vintage Windows

I love my Dad! And I love this window. Old windows, who knew?!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

Target for Valentine’s Day…One Stop Shopping!

Posted On January 25, 2015| 1 Reply

So I visited my local Target the other day. This has become somewhat of a weekly outing since they graciously opened a new store TWO minutes from my garage! Yippee! I have yet to make it through a trip without spotting a friend, so apparently I am not alone in my complete jubilation of this close to home location. Thank you Target!

I really didn’t need anything, I was actually there only for a return! With my return complete I spotted the Starbucks (genius location….INSIDE the Target store!). It was cold, so I treated myself to a grande hot cocoa. With whipped cream. Duh. While I was waiting for the hot cocoa creator to call my name I noticed these adorable Valentine gift cards at the check out. Adorable.

Starbucks Valentine Gift Card

Images of my kid’s teachers jumped into my mind and I scooped up two. (Mrs. G. and Miss D., act surprised when you open it!). The wheels in my holiday-obsessed mind started turning so I decided to take a (quick) spin around the store. An hour later I left with several must-have’s and a smile on my face.

While shopping, I snapped lots of pictures for you, my blog-reading friends. You can seriously wrap up all of your Valentine needs with a one hour trip to Target. I am pretty sure the nice workers in red shirts thought I was delusional as I rearranged their displays to get the best pictures, but I am willing to take chances to help mankind!

Sit back, sip on your Starbucks and take a look at how Target has all of your Valentine needs covered…….

Valentines for your children to pass out at school: (I found all of these in the party section.)

Valentine Bouncy Balls

Bouncy Balls. 12 for $3

Check out my “Countdown to Cupid” post to see how to use the Bouncy Balls.

Valentine Mazes

Mazes. 18 for $5

Valentine, You Amaze Me! Being Your Friend is Amazing!

Valentine Insects

Insects. 12 for $2

Happy Valentine’s Day Love Bug!  Valentine, You’re as Cute as a Bug! I’m Buggy Over You!

Valentine Tops

Spinning Tops. 8 for $.60

You’re Tops, Valentine! I’m in a Spin Over You! You Make my Head/Heart Spin! Valentine, You’re Tops in My Book! Ahh, the possibilities with these are endless. And they are only 7.5 cents each!

Valentine Kazoo

Kazoos. 12 for $5

Coo-Coo-Kazoo, I Like You! A Valentine for Kazoo! Valentine, You Make My Heart Sing! Happy Valentine’s Day, Kazoo Are a Great Friend!

Valentine Tic Tacs

Be Mine Mix Tic Tacs. $1 each

Revisit my “Countdown to Cupid” post to see how my kids will be using these fun tic-tacs for their classroom valentines this year!

And if you have a craft kiddo, Target has some excellent kits of stickers, foamies & heart shaped cut-outs to create your own valentines!

Valentine Stickers

Are you stumped on creating the perfect Valentine Box this year? Target has beautiful red and white ‘shoe’ boxes ready to go. And kits to decorate them! Done! And they are only $3!

Valentine Box Valentine Box

And check out these ready-to-make kits for decorating the boxes! YES!

Valentine Unicorn Box Valentine Princess & Heart Box

Valentine Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Box Valentine Spiderman Box

Olaf Valentine Box Valentine Dragon Box

No big surprise that Natalie chose this one for her box this year…zebra prints and PINK fur:

Pink/Zebra Valentine Box

Each kit costs between $3.00-4.00.

Here’s another idea for the sweet teachers in your life:

Teacher Valentine NICE chocolates! Everyone loves Ghiradelli!

Target also stocks loads of cheap inexpensive napkins and plastic plates & cutlery. This makes serving that Valentine meal so much prettier! They even took the time to group the pink, white and red near the craft supplies! Target is so thoughtful.

Valentine Paper Products

Or you could step it up a notch and splurge for the lovey looking paper products!

Valentine Paper Products

I found these fun items too. Stickers, sports themed Reese cups, window clings, crayons, giant remote control gummy & candy…so many cute ideas to use on your Valentine Scavenger Hunt!

Valentine Cups Valentine Crayons

Valentine Window Clings Valentine Stickers

Sports Valentine Candy Valentine m&m's

Valentine Remote Gummy Valentine Super Hero Candy

I always gift books. Gotta encourage that reading! Natalie would love this journal…..it was really cool.

My Life Unzipped Journal My Life Unzipped Journal

And Noah loved the I Funny books and of course anything Minecraft!

I Even Funnier Book Minecraft Construction Handbook

In case your brain is on overload, I am quite certain every kid of every age would love to see this Target Gift Card on  February 14th:

Target Valentine Gift Card

Look at these super cute ideas for the REAL Valentine in your life….

Valentine Hot Sauce

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a trio of hot sauce!

Valentine Deer Chocolate

For the ‘deer’ in your life! I love this!

Valentine Guitar Chocolate

For your rock star!

Funny Valentine Chocolates

Now this is funny!!!!

And this is the perfect way to present your present. I know, it’s too early to crack homophone jokes, sorry!

Valentine Gift Bag

PLEASE don’t forget the card….in my opinion, the most important part of the day! Target has all of your needs covered!

Target Valentine Cards

There you have it…..your Valentine’s Day can be completed in one stop, Target! Don’t wait another day. Shop early. Then relax for the next couple weeks. And if you are like me, save the wrapping, scavenger hunt clues and card signing until about midnight on February 13th!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Countdown to Cupid…

Posted On January 14, 2015| 1 Reply

Today marks the one month countdown to Valentine’s Day and who doesn’t love Cupid?! A little guy with wings, sporting a bow and arrow and spreading love…

cupid-with-heartsHe has become pretty popular in our house. I love decorating with red and pink hearts and spending the month being all lovey dovey!

It’s my parents fault. My mom decorated our house…not over the top, just a little red and pink here and there. There were always cards and usually a little gift. My dad sent me flowers and still does! I’m pretty sure my mom reminds him and most likely arranges it, but he signs the card! Many years he surprised me at school. Best feeling ever, to see your Daddy walking towards you with flowers while you are surrounded by your high school classmates. He’s been my forever valentine. Every girl should be so lucky. I still look forward to flowers from my Daddy! Jeremy sends flowers to Natalie. It’s more important that he remembers her flowers than mine. Last year they came via a delivery service and she was so surprised. Look:

Valentine Flowers

The kids are completely involved in making cards for their classmates and loved ones. Homemade cards are the best. This year we are going to send a few over seas to our troops and  to the kids they have ‘adopted’ in Africa. Stay tuned! Look at this pic from a photo shoot I did with the kids in 2009. I used the pictures to make cards for their Grands! Oh how I miss that scrunched-up-nose smile of Natalie’s!

Valentine Photo Shoot

And here’s a look at my babies on Valentine’s Day, 2008…..where has the time gone?!

Valentine's Day

Many moons ago my Uncle David told me about how he and my Aunt Diane would send their girls (teenagers at the time) on a Valentine Scavenger Hunt to find their gift. LOVED IT! I immediately copied this idea for my little valentines! Every year Noah and Nat wake up on Valentine’s Day excited to complete their Scavenger Hunt! Jeremy usually helps with the clues. His are always harder than mine! We keep it simple. Three clues to locations around our house. The first clue is always waiting in these cute envelopes that attach to their chairs:

PBK Valentine's Day Chair Envelope

I bought them from Pottery Barn Kids years ago. Mine is not available anymore, but they have similar ones for sale right now! Hurry! And you can get them personalized!

A new clue and a small gift are waiting at each location. At the final location is their main gift. The small gifts are just that, SMALL! Favorite candy bar, pair of ear rings, a dollar bill! Small. I type up the clues and glue them to little valentine cards. Super easy. Super cute. Last year their big gift was combined….a picture of our puppy. He wouldn’t be ready until later in March, but he was their valentine gift! Yes, we were going to get him anyways, but the timing was perfect and we used Valentine’s Day to make the official announcement.

A few years ago I made these coupon books for their big gift. The kids LOVED them! There were 14 and they had all year to cash them in. They were such a hit that they still hang on the bulletin board in our mud room. I need to recreate this some year. Maybe for 2016….

Valentine's Day Coupon Book for Kids

Valentine's Day Coupon Book for Kids

Notice the hole-punch…we punched once they redeemed the coupon!

Valentine's Day Coupon Book

I was serious when I said they are still hanging in the mudroom!

For breakfast we have pink, heart-shaped pancakes. Pink milk and usually a donut with heart sprinkles. If they have school, I pack a love-themed lunch! And always include a little valentine and treat from their mama!

Valentine's Day Pink Pancakes

Making pink pancakes. She spent years with hair in her face!

I am on the hunt for some heart shaped pasta for our valentine dinner this year. I am certain it exists! Or I might make these fun pizzas that I found on Pinterest:

Heart Shaped Pizzas

This year we will be in Idaho on the 14th, so Cupid will have to travel. Must. Be. Prepared. Early. The kids love eating on heart plates and using fun cups. You can shop for some super cute stuff at Pottery Barn Kids. Or, buy some red plastic cups and decorate them with valentine stickers. Use pink plastic plates and make these treats for dessert…..again, thank you Pinterest!

Heart Shaped Rice Krispie Treats

Last year Noah decorated a box for his school valentine exchange. It of course had a sports theme. We saved it! Here’s to round two for his box:

Sporty Valentine Box

Natalie’s class decorated envelopes at school, so mama was off the hook. I am thinking this year she will want to create something over the top cute. Probably covered in gymnastics stickers and glitter! I’m on pins and needles!

In years past the kids have handed out some cute valentines. I either failed to snap a picture or the pictures are lost in cyber space! Last year Noah did the Pop Rocks with a sticker that said, “Valentine, you rock!”. And Natalie, who has a slight gum addiction handed out packs of gum with a sticker that said, “I Chews You”. When Noah was in 1st grade I bought red cut out hands from the teacher store and we glued a pocket hand sanitizer to the palm. On the fingers he wrote, “Have a-Handtastic-Valentine’s–Day-Noah”. I cannot believe I did not take a picture of it, it was adorable! And he did all of the writing himself! Here is a link to buy the handprints. When Natalie was in Pre-K, her class was the Monkey Class, so we obviously bought the banana shaped candies and tied bags that said, “I’m bananas for you!”. I mean really, who could pass that up?!

And thanks to Pinterest here’s a peek at what my kids will be handing out to their classmates this  year:

Tic Tac Toe Valentines

And here are some of my other fave finds on Pinterest: You can find the pins on my Pinterest page and follow the link to the creative minds behind these designs!

Bouncy Ball Valentine Hershey Kiss Valentine

Bouncy Ball Valentine Sucker Valentine

I start talking to my little love bugs about their valentines in mid January. That gives them plenty of time to change their mind a few times! We start creating a couple weeks before their class party. I do not like to wait until the last minute and feel pressured! Plus, my kids like to spread out their projects over several days!

And I don’t forget MY valentine either….we don’t go crazy over this holiday, we keep it light but meaningful. I stole this “52 Reasons I Love You” from Pinterest a few years ago. I ordered a ‘vintage’ looking set of cards and printed my reasons on heavy card stock. Punch two holes in each card, bound it together with a couple craft rings, embellished it with a few stickers and some pretty string and BAM! It has a permanent spot on J’s bedside table. Ahhh.

52 Reasons I Love You Valentine Card Book 52 Reasons I Love You Valentine Card Book 52 Reasons I Love You Valentine Card Book

52 Reasons I Love You Valentine Card Book

Spolier Alert to J if he is reading this…. here is what I am making for him this year:

Red Hot Valentine in a Mason Jar

Again, check out my Pinterest page for the details of this pin.

 

OK, so I hope this post helps put you in a Cupid State of Mind! Think pink!

Live Creatively,

mamaSig

 

 

 

 

 

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