I had a procedure in Miami FL area and was taken care of by these two-the night before we celebrated their engagement with a great dinner.

Making place cards for Thanksgiving.

She lasted through the first wedding gown shop, the second one was just mom and Abbey.

First dressed tried on, the one that caught my eye walking in, so excited to check this off because I honestly never thought it would be this easy. (And either did she.)

Loving my little tree, still no ornaments yet, but maybe this weekend.

My Christmas Wish: A new torso, throw in a new arm, and some hair (eyelashes too?) ship me off to American Girl Hospital, and for the low price of $88 I'm a new girl.  Instead of drugs, and doctors, and tests and procedures, and aches and pains and tumors, and low energy, and blah blah blah (I really hate talking about my health) I can have a magical brand new cancer-free me.  

My Other Christmas Wishes:  I am getting them all!  Everyone home for Christmas. A very full house of healthy thriving children.  A new, my first, grandbaby (Isaac and Cecilia are expecting) coming in early April!  A wedding (Abbey and Kyle) in August!  

Have a very merry peaceful light-filled Christmas.  There IS light always, some days, weeks or years we just have to look harder.  Light always wins.


Back To School


It is back to school time for the youngest three-Andrew is a sophomore in college, Patrick started high school, and Janey is in fifth grade.   I've always said this is a sentimental time of year for me-it just feels like this is when it's apparent how fast the years are flying by.  I'm so grateful though that everyone is happy where they are-thriving and growing with great schools and teachers and classes and friends. 

I am back at home not teaching- health-wise I will have way too low immunity to fight anything, and I know it's the right choice-I don't have the energy or time frankly to give it my all, although I sure loved that job.  Thankfully I also adore being home, and I will always have enough to do here.  I am never having to rush or feel that my brain is juggling too much, or that there isn't enough time in the day.  I love tending my home inside and out, and just living a quieter and slower life.  I love being outside every day and noticing the weather and nature - the trees and birds and smells and sounds.  It has been a gorgeous sunny summer, with just enough rain.  I've been on my porch for most of it, it seems. 


Where I Left Off

 I don't even know how long it has been since I've blogged - I could check the date but it seems easier to just start writing.

Our sweet little Sammy went to heaven at the beginning of this year and it was not easy to make that decision.  Putting a dog down feels like murder, it really does, but thankfully I had a very lovely vet and "nurses".  The hardest part was holding him, walking out of the room where his tiny little body lay, and going home.  I went alone while older kids helped younger kids with it at home.  I miss him most on summer evenings when he loved to sit in my bike basket and have the wind blow his face fur back - he really thought he was a hot shot during those rides. 

Andrew and Sammy.  
Andrew will be starting his second year of college in the fall, and is lifeguarding for the summer at home, and always always has plans which means he comes in, eats, and goes to work or does something fun.  Andrew is the same person he was at three.  Outgoing, busy, always has a smile, always makes everyone laugh, and cares so much about people. 

Our annual trip to the strawberry field - Janey is 10 and we are still like velcro and I love it.  She loves school and her friends, adores her siblings and their friends and is on a huge hummus and peppers kick even in the morning.  

Many fun visits with cousins this summer.

Isaac and Cecilia moved from NYC to Denmark this spring!  They celebrated their first anniversary also.  They loved NYC but the timing was perfect for them to move, as they always intended to live in Denmark. And thankfully they hop on planes like I get in a car so we will see them often. 

Abbey is doing so well health-wise and loves her work in Florida-and the weather!  Her hair is growing back and it looks so so cute, with ringlets.  We miss her here, but find a way to see each other at least every 6 weeks or so.

Matt is working full time at a science education center and living at home, busy with hobbies (I feel like no one uses the word hobbies anymore, it sounds like something only our grandparents used) and coming and going so much like Andrew it makes my head spin.  He is my back up driver and I make him laugh which he won't probably admit but I do.  He reminds me so much of my brother Andrew that it scares me.  Same humor, same way of looking at life.  Same intentional pace.

Patrick graduated from grade school and start HIGH SCHOOL in the fall.  How can that be?  He is still a sports guy, first love basketball, second soccer.  He is protective of his sister when he isn't teasing her, and loves to be with his older siblings, who all adore him.
There are the kid's updates!

My update:

I went to Ireland last summer with my mom to see my brother and his family and loved it, and cried really hard when we had to leave.   Because it is so different-so slow paced and beautiful and calm and I adore the way my brother and his wife have set up their life and the slow purposeful way they raise their kids.  I want to live next door.  

I started teaching art full-time at my children's grade school.  I taught kindergarten readiness all the way to eighth grade.  I had each grade for an hour every week.  I LOVED IT.  I learned so so much. Number one, teachers are some of the hardest-working people I know.   Number two, kindergarteners are adorable but if you have 24 of them in a small room you better have a plan and get used to hearing your name 1000 times in one hour, especially when you are teaching them to weave.  (But they got it and my heart burst with pride!)  

I can't even tell you how much I loved teaching, even with the hard parts of it (exhaustion after the day is over, lots of noise, and any paperwork/meetings etc).  I could post so many photos of all the projects we did over the year.  I lined my classroom with them and I'm so proud of the work the kids did.  I think my job is the best most rewarding job ever and I really was finding my groove with it.  

I felt like I really was finding my groove with LIFE.  I was settling in, getting used to being on my own, working full time outside of the home and loving it, managing the finances and simplifying everything just the way I love it, taking a deep breath of air and exhaling.

And then I started having chest pain-I saw a few of my doctors and they thought it was a pulled muscle, and I did also -I thought maybe I was using new muscles to bend down to help little ones and clean art tables, and lift up stools.  I was so exhausted too-but that was teaching full time, and running a house by myself.

Except it wasn't.  I have cancer again, triple negative again, metastatic.  I found out right after I wrote all my fun New Year's Resolutions.  Jaunary was full of testing, and the news kept getting worse.  And like all mothers everywhere, you scream and cry but only for a little bit because life.  Life keeps happening.  Thank GOD it keeps happening.  And in between the doctor's appointments, and work and grief and fear, we keep going because that's what mothers do.  I would go to an appointment, go back to work, having 25 little sweet faces staring up at me, excited to see me.  I would get a phone call with news that could knock me over, except I needed to pick up one of my children, and make dinner, and pay a bill.

I feel most of the time like my diagnosis never ever leaves my mind.  It's there when I wake up and there when I go to bed.  Along with other trauma I was still and still am working through.  Your brain and heart can only hold so much.  

I know this: there are two silly sayings that don't make a bit of sense.
Live like you are dying.
Live every day like it's your last.

I am trying as hard as I can to live like I am LIVING-the simple life I love.  I want for nothing, I really do, except for my health.  That doesn't mean I haven't had loss and heartbreak, or really hard days and weeks and years, it means I know what is important.  I have known for a long long time.  Gratitude and contentment are always the way out of despair.  It seems unfair, but I also know there is no such thing as "fair" in life.  (I always think of the old adage "Fair is a place where pigs win ribbons.":)

I am going to live the rest of my days, which I pray will be as many as I always intended them to be (thousands) like they are ordinary days.  Because I've said it before, ordinary days are the best ever.  Ordinary days are the most beautiful days on earth.  

And right now we are having a gorgeous summer thunderstorm, this morning I cleaned the garage, did a load of laundry, went to the grocery store (new kitchen towels!), made cookies for neighbors, and talked to my kids.  I have a stack of library books on my nightstand, blooming flowers in my garden, and friends and family who check up on me.  I woke up this morning to chirping birds and a list to check off that I made last night, and a text from my mom.  I will end it with a warm cozy bed and cute pajamas.  And prayers.  I will take ALL the prayers I can get. 


Merry Christmas!



A Long Summer

We have been having the most beautiful fall weather here in Ohio - which feels way more like summer weather. 

It's November and I wore a t-shirt and flip flops yesterday and went for a bike ride with Sammy.  (Who is 15 and I know doesn't have many of his favorite bike rides left.)

On my weekends I've been working in the garden with the help of my kids someday and others, just me.  Since my classroom is in the basement of our school and I have just one window that looks out into a basement stairwell I try to soak up all the sunlight I can every day.  

Work-I love it!  It's heavenly.  Sometimes yes there are days when things don't go as planned but there is nothing I don't love about my job and if there has been I have found a solution.  (For instance hanging kids art work is so time consuming but I now have more cork strips and a rechargeable glue gun for cement block walls and both make the job enjoyable instead of frustrating and never ending. 

Halloween was wonderful- Patrick went with a friend and Janey and I just slowly walked the neighborhood.  I can get nostalgic about all the years with the older kids at home but then I realize how lucky I am to still get to see the whole day through the younger kids eyes.

One thing I do know when I look back on holidays and life in general is that simple is always always better.  It doesn't mean boring or unenjoyable in fact in means just the opposite.  It means more excitement and appreciation because there is no burnout, exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and never ending materialism - for parent, child and family.  I have never regretted dialing a holiday, a weekend, a vacation back.  Back to simplicity- back to less decoration, less planning, simpler food, gift giving and outside commitments.  The kids want it and need it- even if the pressure of our culture sells them (and us) the opposite every day. 

Yesterday I sat down and took a plain sheet of paper and planned how I want the next two months to look for me.  For us.  And now I feel more at peace instead of stressed or overwhelmed.  Because it's all as simple as heck with the emphasis on what I decide, not the craziness of outside sources that tell us every day how holidays should look. 


Back To Blogger

Just a little note to say that the last two years of blogging are missing here-I decided to switch platforms back to my simple and free Blogger, and I will have to manually enter all my posts.  This might take me some time since my main gig is teaching now!  (And if you are an email subscriber you might receive some old posts now and then.)  Nevertheless, I feel like I am back to familiar and easy blogging and it's wonderful.  

September has been gorgeous here and I am loving every minute of it.  The leaves are beginning to turn and the days are warm and the nights are cool.  The last day of summer was hotter than heck, and the temps fell about 40 degrees that evening and we woke up to fall weather-I am not sure how Mother Nature got that timing so right this year but she was down to the minute with that summer to fall switch.

Working full-time is an adjustment for sure, but it seems easier than I thought it would be, thankfully since my two youngest are at the same school where I teach and we live so close.  My main hurdle now is meals-when I get home I just want to eat and eat and eat.  I usually have little to no time to eat lunch because of prepping in between classes, especially the weeks I have planned big-time painting projects.  But I wouldn't have it any other way, because I do love being busy at work.  The time just flies.  I just need to figure out that work-to-home transition.

I was thinking about what I really love about my job-it encompasses a lot of what I do at home!  Planning projects is so fun for me, I have to slow myself down sometimes.  Working with children is intense but I laugh every day and it is wonderful to see them learn and grow.  Organization in the art room, and keeping it clean and orderly isn't any different than what I've done here at home for years.  I like switching off the lights and closing the door after a busy day, knowing it's all cleaned and prepped for my first class the next day. 


Favorite Kitchen Items

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 As I was going through my kitchen organization-40 Bags in 40 Days-I thought it would be useful to do a post on the things I have loved and were the most useful to me in my much used kitchen.  I've been a mom for 26 years and regularly feed many hungry mouths from sunup to sundown.  My kitchen works hard.  I've had some things forever, and other things it took me awhile to find what really worked and lasted.

Favorite Smoothie Recipe

 *affiliate links used