Wall of Windows

Posted On March 19, 2015| 3 Replies

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


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.


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,


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,










Countdown to Cupid…

Posted On January 14, 2015| Leave a 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,








What a Year It’s Been!

Posted On January 9, 2015| 3 Replies

I am still in denial that 2014 is over, but I guess it is time for me to embrace 2015. I like new beginnings. Starting fresh is good. Change can be powerful. It can also be scary. 2014 was a great year for me. I have a lot to be thankful for. Maybe that is why the dawning of a new year is a bit unsettling. There are 365 days of unknown upon me….. I will pray that God guides me through them with dignity, grace and strength. I wish the same for all of you.

Sit down for this announcement, as I am sure it will catch you by surprise: I do not have any ‘traditions’ or decorations for New Year’s! I know, it is tough to believe, but it’s true. We don’t eat sauerkraut and pork or black eyed peas. I’m OK with taking the garbage out and I’m not spooked if I happen to shed a tear or two….who knew there were so many new year superstitions! I cannot tell you the last time I made an actual resolution. New Year’s day is the signal that I can start to disassemble Christmas and that the kids will be heading back to school.

With all of that being said, as a year ends and new one begins, Jeremy and ask our kids to reflect on the past year and dream about the new year. For the past several years we have asked them to fill out a little questionnaire I created called, “What a Year It’s Been”. We sit together and talk about their answers. After the new year’s is completed we read the one from last year. There usually aren’t many surprises as we keep them posted in the mudroom throughout the year. Here is a look at the newest one; 2015:

New Year's Questionnaire

The kids look forward to this and take it pretty seriously. I save the old ones and add them to their yearly files (a blog for a different day!). My favorite was the last thing I added this year, “Promise to Myself”. We encouraged them to think about what they really want to change about their own behavior, their outlook on life or themselves in general. They each answered about being kinder to their sibling! We shall see! You can download it here: Kids New Year ?.pages

As they were busy writing down their answers, I was answering the same questions in my head. It’s amazing how much reflection and hope can be conjured up by a few questions. Funny thing is that a couple of days later I read my friend’s blog, Fourth Grade Literacy Lovers.  You can follow her on Bloglovin.  You don’t have to be a parent of a 4th grader or love literature to love her blog. Her last post was all about living with purpose. She has inspired me to choose a word for 2015. A word that will describe the year I want to have. My friend chose ‘purpose’ and there is no doubt that she will lead a life of purpose all year. So I have been really thinking about what kind of year I want to have. Happy. Connected. Loving. Healthy. Thankful. Patient. Magnificent. Honorable. Reflective. I want so much from 2015. I’ve decided on WORTHY. “Nothing is worth more than this day”….this is the quote that my Aunt Nancy adopted when she was battling for her life. She passed away a few years ago from Pulmonary Fibrosis. Ugly disease. She gave me a bracelet inscribed with that saying and it has resonated with me ever since. I was a young mom, my dad was sick with cancer and I was dealing with a lot. Wearing that bracelet and seeing those words reminded me that once today is gone I cannot get it back. I want my 2015 to be Worthy. Every day, worthy. I want my husband and kids to feel worthy. I want there to be worth in the decisions I make, the friends I spend my time with and the way I make people feel. Worthy. I was gently reminded earlier this year that tomorrow is not a guarantee. Today needs to be worthy. Today, tomorrow and all of the tomorrows yet to come…….what’s your word going to be?

If your family is like mine, then you are constantly trying to find ways to communicate with your children! I hate, “fine”, “good”, “yes”, “no”. I want REAL answers to my questions, don’t you?? I am hoping this cool book will help:


I found it in Chicago a few years ago, but just gave it to my kids this year. Every day has a question for them to answer. It will take three years to complete. Here’s a look at the inside:


So you begin with filling in the year, answer the question and so on. It has been really fun so far. You can buy them here. I think it will be neat to look back through once they are punk teenagers! I leave them in the kitchen so we can fill them out during meals! Fun!

Since I am making my kids write each day, I thought I should do it as well. I am going to start a Gratitude Journal. My blogger friend from Fourth Grade Literacy Lovers gave me this idea too! My sweet friend, Mick gave me a new journal for my birthday. It will become my GJ. Let’s face it, we all have a lot to be grateful for and when you put things in writing they become more real. I use to keep a daily diary as a teenager and didn’t have any trouble writing down EVERYTHING that happened every day of my life. It was my own version of therapy! Here is my plan….

1) I will journal a couple times a week.

2) I will use detail. Not just make a list. DETAIL.

3) I will focus on people and not things.

Wish me luck! And for those of you who despise pen and paper, there is a Gratitude App. Download it for free here…..no excuses!


Live Creatively,


Goodbye December!

Posted On January 5, 2015| Leave a reply

Another December and Christmas has come and gone. I am always amazed at how quickly this season goes, I wish I could slow it down. Yes, the elves get annoying at times and my patience is tested every time I sit in traffic or have to set foot in the mall. But I actually love the chaos because it reminds me that life is short and chaos is good. So I drive around with my Rudolph nose and antlers attached to my car (you know I’m not kidding); the radio set to the Christmas station 24/7. We watch Elf and Frosty a few dozen times, I bake way too many cookies and wrap enough gifts to circle the globe at least twice. I do it all to keep the magic alive. It really is a season of magic. Surprising someone with a special gift, hearing your kid sing the “12 Days of Christmas” while mixing up the words and the homemade Irish Cream my neighbors supply us with each year…Christmas rocks!

Here is a peek at how Team Mathis spent the month of December….

Christmas Cards: As you know, I love cards. Adore them really. I start thinking about and designing our card in November. Early November if I must be honest. I usually finish it up around Thanksgiving and my goal is to have them in the mail by December 1st. I don’t want to worry about them once December hits. All month I try to be the first one to the mailbox to retrieve any cards that might have been delivered! I leave them in a copper bucket on the coffee table all year long. For real. All. Year. Long. And they get looked through a lot during the year. So please keep us on your list! I used Minted this year and was over the moon happy!

Christmas Cards from Minted.com


Zoo Lights: We live a hop, skip and a jump from the best zoo in the world. The Columbus Zoo! The lights they string up for the holidays are mind-blowing. I swear we keep our membership up to date just to gain access to the Members Only Night for the lights! Santa always shows up and he even brings his beautiful bride….we like to decorate cookies with her.

Columbus Zoo Holiday Lights


Ugly Sweaters: Jeremy and I have hosted a few Ugly Sweater parties of our own, but this year we celebrated a friend’s 40th in our ugly attire. And they had a Photo Booth, SCORE!

Christmas Ugly Sweater Party


Holiday Recital: Noah’s voice lessons paid off as he took the stage for his music school’s recital. He belted out “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” while wearing his Grinch shirt. Poor boy had to go first so he wouldn’t be late for his soccer game, but it didn’t phase him. Bravo Noah!



Wreath Creation 101: My friend Nicole talked me into making our own wreaths this year. While at a flea market (she’s a flea lover too) we found these adorable tin ornaments. “Let’s use them to make our own wreaths.”, said Nicole. And so we did. Glueguns, garland, wire cutters and a big mess later our wreaths were done. I am not anticipating anyone beating down my door begging me to make them one, but I will enjoy the fruits of my labor for now!

Christmas Wreath


Gingerbread House: Ok, this is one of my favorite things to do in December. I buy our kit (who really makes their own….who?!) the year before when they are super cheap after Christmas. I store it in one of my Christmas bins and have it ready to go when the spirit move us! I don’t buy extra candy or icing, we use only what comes in the kit. Keep. It. Simple. Every year our house gets prettier and prettier. And I swear the kids eat as much icing as they slap on the house! Sugar belly!

Gingerbread House


Salvation Army Bell: This is our 2nd year for ringing the bell. We ring at our local Kroger and make it our mission to chat with everyone who comes through the door. It helps that we hand out treats when people donate! Ch-ching! It’s a good reminder for the kids that GIVING is better than RECEIVING.

Salvation Army Bell


Cookies: We bake the same cookies every year. The recipe is one I have been using since high school and I swear by it! Butter cut-outs. Not sugar. Butter. And Pillsbury’s Creamy Supreme Frosting.  Noah would spot an impostor frosting immediately. Natalie wears more flour than she uses and I am always left with the clean up. But we have fun. And the cookies provide me with breakfast for a good week at least!


Christmas Cookies

Mischievous Elves: I will be honest, I had to look up how to spell ‘mischievous’! Apparently I have been pronouncing it wrong my entire life! Oops! We adopted our Elf on the Shelf when Noah was three. Natalie was one, so she was clueless that year. Hermey (named after the dentist Elf in Rudolph) was boring at first. He simply moved from place to place. Noah would find him when he woke up and if he didn’t move, well we could explain it away pretty easily. Not so much anymore! Our family now cares for 8 elves. Yes, 8. I am still not sure how that happened exactly. Jeremy will be rolling his eyes about now! I have an entire blog post in the works for these little guys….stay tuned!

Elves    Elves

Teacher gifts: Noah and Natalie’s classroom teachers are wonderful. I wanted to do something special, so I looked to one of my faves: Erin Condren. Using their favorite colors I ordered the ‘classic on-the-go notebooks‘ personalized with their names. They were a hit! I added a pack of the ‘colorful markers‘ because to-do lists are much more fun when written in purple! Here is a picture of mine: LOVE IT!

Erin Condren Notebook


Visiting St. Nick: I am thankful that my kids still believe! We all look forward to visits with the big guy. I love hearing what they ask him.



School Parties: If your children’s school is like mine, then you are given exactly 30 minutes to pull off a party to remember. Complete with games and snacks and maybe a craft! Yikes! And if you have more than one kid you are splitting your time between two classes. This year I was in charge of games for Noah’s class. I made up a Christmas trivia challenge which the kids did really well with. And we played a memory game. 15 holiday items on a tray…..give them a minute to stare and memorize. Cover it up and give them a minute to write down as many as they can remember. Highest score was 12! I was impressed! 4th graders crack me up! For Natalie’s class I provided the plates for snack and snuck in to see the last 10 minutes of her party. I will switch roles for the end of the year party…..gotta keep it even, right?!

Classroom Christmas Party Classroom Christmas Party


Charity Work: I am lucky enough to know some amazing people who started a charity, Families For A Cure several years ago. Their mission is to raise LOTS of money to help find a cure for cancer. I hate cancer, but that is a post for another day. This year our family nominated Noah’s teacher for a brand new Experience Grant. Miss Deck is a cancer warrior and very deserving of the grant. Through the grant she was sent to NYC for a weekend. I am going to blog all about her trip and FFAC very shortly, so please keep reading. It was an honor to be one of the planners of her trip and to be there to present it to her.

Families For a Cure


Annual Kid’s Christmas Party: These gorgeous ladies have been in my life since way before kids! We use to gather every Christmas for an adult party….fancy dinner, drinks, pretty dresses. Then the children invaded! Now every year we get our families together for a little holiday cheer. This year we bowled! Kids loved it and no one’s house was trashed! Good times!



Christmas Eve: This year we mixed it up a bit. Normally we get all gussied up in coordinating outfits and attend church. We sing carols and light candles. It’s a time to focus on Jesus and the true reason for this season. Instead, this year we stayed home and were blessed to have a wonderful meal and visit with Jeremy’s brother and his family. His family includes my 3 year old niece whom my children completely adore and her brand new baby sister. It was our first time meeting Miss V. She is perfection. And being with family we don’t see very often was a good reason for skipping church!

Reindeer Food


Christmas Morning: I know all kids love Christmas morning, but there is a little boy who lives with me who is off-the-hook crazy when it finally arrives. He has been known to wake us up at 4am. This year we had the kids bunk together and promise not to come downstairs until at least 6am. You guessed it….at 6am sharp Noah ran into our room squealing, “Santa came, Santa came!”. It was hard to contain his enthusiasm, but we somehow convinced him to snuggle us for an hour before we let him wake his sister. He shared later that he had awoken every hour since 1:30am and had snuck downstairs at some point to scope out the gifts! One of these years he is bound to catch Santa in the act! Natalie, still half asleep posed for a few pictures before settling in on the couch to slowly open her stocking. I happily report that this was the first year that she managed to open all of her presents in the same day. The girl moves at her own pace! Noah on the other hand, has everything open, out of the boxes and broken in before breakfast is served!

Christmas Morning


December 27th: 12/27 is a holiday in our house. It’s my birthday! If you read my Birthday Blog you already know how I spent my day! 42 is a grand age and I am thankful to my friends and family for  making another December 27th so memorable! This year we took a belated trip to paint some pottery. My family knows me well!

Painting Pottery


Family Photo Shoot: Miss Lori Williams once again preserved my family on film! We had a full Mathis Family shoot. It was cold, the kids were great and as always, Studio Williams delivered with one-of-a-kind pics! She always makes us look so good!

Family Pic, www.studiowilliams.com

Harlem Globetrotters: This was FUN! We went with a few other families, sat where we could spread out and enjoyed the antics of Big Easy, Sweet J and Too Tall! Amazing how they pulled off a win in overtime 😉



New Year’s Eve: Normally we spend NYE with several families. The kids run around like hooligans. The parents attempt to squeeze in a few conversations between breaking up fights and cleaning up spills. It’s glorious and we look forward to it every year. This year we all seemed to be going in different directions and so the get-together did not happen. The kids were bummed (and so were Jeremy and I!). We hit the slopes for a day of skiing instead. It was awesome! We skied, shared candy bars during lunch and sipped hot chocolate afterwards while waiting for Natalie to regain feeling in her fingers! Skiing in Ohio is C.O.L.D. After warm showers, we settled in on the couch and watched the crazy fools in Time’s Square. Natalie passed out on Jeremy’s lap at 10:30 and Noah begged me to put him to bed at 11:00. So for the first time EVER, Jeremy and rang in the new year just the two of us. This girl is not complaining!

Skiing, Mad River

Whew, can’t believe we accomplished all of that in just 31 days! Hope your December was just as grand!

Live Creatively,





I Partied Like it Was My Birthday!

Posted On January 1, 2015| Leave a reply

I LOVE Birthdays!

Every trip around the sun should be celebrated.

Candles. Friends. Presents. Balloons. Hugs. Cards. Cake. Laughs. Love.

My official birthday is December 27th, but I tend to start celebrating early and keep celebrating past the 27th. Why not?! My friend Megan nailed it with my card this year, check it out:

Birthday Card

She also sent me this incredible hat that was chosen by her husband….he knows me well.

International Harvester hatMy daddy drove an IH tractor. It was red. It was big. It was a treat to ride with him.

My 42nd year began at midnight on 12.27.14. Jeremy wished me HBD while we watched “Safe Haven”. I knew it was for sure my bday when he agreed to my movie choice! I told you birthdays are good! A few minutes later I received a couple texts from Minnesota. Megan and Mark were sending me BIG birthday love! Fast forward a few hours and I was woken up by my silly kids with more birthday greetings! Birthday snuggles are way better than ordinary day snuggles.

Like many other soccer moms around the world, my special day was spent watching Natalie and Noah play. Natalie was up first and got whipped! Her team was short on players (Noah even stepped in to play goalie for them), but in spite of the score they came off the field smiling! We took a break for lunch and were joined by Jeremy’s folks and his brother, sister in law and two totally adorable little girls! Lunch with four kids is always entertaining! After lunch it was Noah’s turn on the pitch. Jeremy was filling in as Coach for the game as the head coach and many players were out of town. My boy scored a sweet goal early in the first half. I know it was his gift to me! Unfortunately the other team decided they needed to score more goals than our team, so Team Mathis was 0-2! But they are the cutest soccer players in all of Ohio, for sure!


Cards…one was sweet, one was not. Guess who gave which card….? My husband is a stinker.

If you think this oneBirthday Card is funny, you would love the Christmas card he gave me! Here is the sweet one: Birthday Card

Yes, that is a picture of me with my glasses and tongue sticking out! Apparently this is how Natalie views me!




My gift was a pretty watch…well done family! (Natalie is going to make an excellent Price Is Right prize model some day!)


My in laws were very accommodating on my day of birth and agreed to keep the kids for a sleepover! Yay for birthdays! Here we are attempting to take a ‘nice’ family photo to commemorate my birthday:

IMG_6387 IMG_6388 IMG_6393 IMG_6390

FINALLY everyone cooperated and my MIL was quick to capture a decent one! A threat may have been uttered!


Jeremy and I bid them farewell about 4:30pm and headed to the LEPD shooting range to party with a few of my favorite people and lots of ammo! I may wear leopard shoes and have shiny red nails, but I am a country girl at heart! Targets, lead, triggers and bulls eyes…..it was a quite a party!

Just me and my .45 putting a few holes in a Christmas tree…


Sharp-Shooter Shelly taking a break from some rapid-fire to pose with me!


I love how Doug, the range officer is totally photo bombing us! And try not to notice that stray chunk of hair caught in my glasses!


The couple that shoots together should also sleep with one eye open! 😉

Here’s the whole Birthday Shootin’ Gang….


Don’t we look good in our fancy eye protection?

As you can imagine, putting bullet holes in targets can make you hungry. We locked up our weapons, cleaned the lead off of our hands and headed back to Chez Mathis for some grub and libations. The Grey Goose was flowing and the beer was cold. In true Mathis Style a game was played. Tonight we chose ‘Cards Against Humanity‘, one of my all-time faves. I forget who won, it was either Angie or Keith (probably Angie…I think she cheats somehow!). This hand warranted a picture to immortalize it:

Cards Against Humanity

This game could not be more UN-PC!

After a one-of-a-kind rendition of “Happy Birthday” I made a special wish and blew out my candle. That yumm-o cake was made by Angie. Seriously, contact her for your cake needs. You can thank me for years to come…..

Salted Caramel Cake

I am not sure how it happens, but it always does….the Beer Pong table comes out of hiding and we instantly subtract about 20 years from our current age and get a little crazy! And since Beer Pong takes way too long, we switched over to Flip Cup! Bam! Girls struggled, but never gave up! Look at my very fun friends about to spill perfectly good beer all over my floor:

Flip Cup

It was late by this point and since I love my friends, I changed this one to black & white!

Turning 42 was joyous. I could not have asked for a better 24 hours. Wish I didn’t have to wait so long for birthday number 43! At least I can start planning my party, right?!

Happy Birthday To ME!

Live Creatively,





Christmas Decor, Part Two

Posted On December 26, 2014| 3 Replies

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

The Exterior:

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

Christmas Lights


Here is my front porch:

Christmas Sign

And a few closeups:

Grapevine Trees Christmas Planter Wooden ReindeerChristmas Sign

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

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

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

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

Grapevine Wreath

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

Christmas Swag

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

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

The Media Room:

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

Christmas Tree

Ornament Frames Mercury Glass Ornament Vintage Star Ornament

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

Wooden Chalkboard

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

Christmas Beer Stein

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

Wooden Christmas Subway Art

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

Christmas Decor

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

Mercury Glass Trees Glitter Reindeer

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

Live Creatively,




Christmas Decor; It’s Out of Control!

Posted On December 17, 2014| 1 Reply

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

Barn Beam Mantle


Christmas Canvas

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

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

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

Painted Santa Handmade Santa

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

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

Wooden Harvest Table

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


The Santa is another Bertie Dortmund original!


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

Santa Frame

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

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

Apothecary Jars Wooden Candycanes Christmas Pillows Vintage Stocking Vintage Glass Ornaments


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

Christmas Plate

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

Vintage Christmas Decor Vintage Santa

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

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

Mistletoe Ball

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

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

Christmas Decor

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

Vintage Christmas Candlesticks

A few more trees and the room is complete!

Christmas Decor Christmas Decor

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

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


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

Wooden Nativity

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

Kissing Santa & Mrs. Claus DSC_8947

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

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

Candy Cane Bucket

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

Crochet Advent Calendar

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


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

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

Live Creatively,




O’ Tannenbaum!

Posted On December 11, 2014| Leave a reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painted Egg Orament

Hand painted egg from Budapest. Honeymoon.

Travel Ornaments

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

Route 66 Ornament

Spring Break, 2014.

Vienna Ornament

Hand crafted love birds from Vienna. Honeymoon.

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

House Key Ornament

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

Vintage Letter Ornament Address Number Ornament

Anything can be an ornament. Even a graduation tassel!

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

Snowflake Picture Ornament

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

Memory Ball OrnamentHere are a few more Memory Balls….

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandma Martha Mathis

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandma Bertie Dortmund

Memory Ball Ornament

Grandpap Lee Copeland

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

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

Wedding Memory Ball Ornament

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

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

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

Glass Pickle Ornament

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

Live Creatively,





30 Days of Being Thankful

Posted On December 5, 2014| 71 Replies

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

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

Day One: my mom.

45th Wedding Anniversary

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


Day Two: fuzzy socks.


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


Day Three: colored pens.


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


Day Four: my son.


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


Day Five: Wednesdays.


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


Day Six: PEOPLE magazine.


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


Day Seven: my 7 year old.


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


Day Eight: soccer.


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


Day Nine: vodka.


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


Day Ten: birthdays.


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


Day Eleven: UGGs.


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


Day Twelve: teachers



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


Day Thirteen: tennis.



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


Day Fourteen: rock and roll.


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


Day Fifteen: Oxi Clean.


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


Day Sixteen: my husband.


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


Day Seventeen: Columbus, Ohio.


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


Day Eighteen: DVR & Netflix.


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


Day Nineteen: storage bins.


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


Day Twenty: brothers.

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


Day Twenty-one: my daddy.


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


Day Twenty-two: girlfriends.












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


Day Twenty-three: Spanx.


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


Day Twenty-four: my in-laws.


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


Day Twenty-five: Hallmark.


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


Day Twenty-six: being born a Dortmund.


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


Day Twenty-seven: gravy from a jar.


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


Day Twenty-eight: Walt Disney.

Chef Mickey

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


Day Twenty-nine: flea markets.


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


Day Thirty: holidays.


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

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

Live Creatively,