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So Proud of Olivia

You guys. Olivia is having such an amazing year at school. Like crazy amazing. I think it’s a combination of summer school, maturity and being with the same teachers again this year. We are so incredibly happy and proud.

In the fall, she helped out with the 7th grade volleyball team and that went so well. The coach is her special ed teacher so it was a perfect fit. Olivia loved it! We keep trying things to see if she likes it and we finally found something. She stayed after school two days a week for about 30 minutes. She warmed up with the girls (running, sit ups, etc.) and then she’d participate in some of the basic drills. If she got tired or overwhelmed, she’d play on the iPad. We tried having her go to a game but that was too much chaos. She made friends with all of the girls. She and the girls from the team say hi to each other in the halls and they come to “visit” her and her friends in the special ed classroom. Her teacher says it’s been such a wonderful experience for everyone. My thought? Of course it is! When you include kids with special needs, EVERYONE benefits! Olivia has made some new friends, worked on her independence and conversation skills and had fun. The girls on the team benefit by realizing that Olivia is just a girl and a potentially really great friend. Her teacher said the girls have even made it a point to befriend the rest of the kids in Olivia’s class and another special ed class. All of this awesomeness just from letting Olivia stay at practice for 30 minutes twice a week. Awesome, right?

Olivia’s also participating in choir this year. She had her first concert a few weeks ago and she did AMAZING! They had a paraprofessional up on stage with her just in case and they had a chair next to the risers just in case she needed to rest. She stood the entire time and sang her heart out. It was one of the best moments of my life! After each song, she’d clap and take a little bow. When it was all over, she took a big bow and said “Can we go now?” It was so cute and sweet. She looked so joyful on stage. We are so happy she finally found another thing to do that she really enjoys! There are two girls who come meet her at her special ed classroom each day and walk with her to choir. Isn’t that awesome, too?

She’s been doing so well at school. Her math teacher just sent me a text over the weekend to tell me that she finally “made” it into the actual STAR test at a Kindergarten level. This is a big deal for Olivia!! Math has always been her weakest subject and it’s so great to see some progress. She’s doing well in all of her subjects and really enjoying school this year. Her teacher also reports that she’s been making conversation with adults and peers. This is HUGE! She came in last Monday and asked everyone about their weekend. “Normal” conversation…and she’s been doing better with actually listening to their answers and keeping the conversation going.

At home we’re working on potty training in a major way. It’s been especially important to us since she started her period two months ago. (WWWWAAAAAHHHHH!!!!) She’s been handling it surprisingly well. Each time she goes to the bathroom she says “Oh! There’s my period!” We talk about how all women have it and she’ll start naming off women in her life and say “Does So and So have a period?”, etc. It’s very cute. We talk about cramps and what’s happening and so far she’s doing really well. I personally think that if your daughter is born with special needs, and she’s not going to have children, there should be a button to turn it off…but I digress. She’s doing well with potty training but she still doesn’t go on her own, only if we tell her to. But we’re still making progress!

Just the other day, Matt and I were talking about how grown up she seems lately. She looks older, she acts older, she speaks better. She seems to “get” more things lately and interact more. She even wanted to play a game with us at Thanksgiving this weekend! It’s really wonderful to watch her still make progress because all of the doctors in the beginning told us that would not be the case. HA WE SHOWED THEM!

Don’t worry, she’s still a pill. If you follow me on Instagram (elastmom417), you saw her destroyed room the other day. That’s a daily occurrence. She’d peed on the floor the other day even though she was on her way TO the bathroom. She changed my phone language to Chinese and disabled it for 10 minutes. And, when we were sharing what we were thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, Olivia said “I’m thankful for words like idiot, moron and…ASSHOLE!” We all died laughing.

That’s our Olivia and we couldn’t be more proud. I just sit and look at her and think of how very lucky I am to be her Mom.

Happy This Week

It’s almost THANKSGIVING!!! Can you believe it? I’m so looking forward to good food, time with family, Christmas decorating and 5 days off of work!

I just read two AMAZING books. I’ll write about them more later but I highly recommend reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah followed immediately by The Sweetness of Forgetting by by Kristin Harmel. I coincidentally read them back to back and it was perfect!

Last Saturday my Mom and I went shopping. We had a blast and I found lots of new things!

I cleaned out my closet!

I had two great therapy sessions. It really helps!

My BFF and her family came over for dinner on Saturday. It’s been months since the whole gang was together so it was awesome!

I was honored to take pictures at my friends’ wedding! I’m editing them this weekend…fingers crossed they turned out great! I was so nervous!

Skinny. Peppermint. Mocha. Yum.

The Project Runway finale was awesome and have you watched PR juniors??? OMG those kids are amazing!

One of my students nominated me for an award and my name was chosen! I won $100 for classroom supplies. Yeah!

What made you happy lately?





Happy Lately

I feel as though my head is above water you guys! It’s amazing! I’m going to start posting more regularly, I swear.

Here are some things that have made me happy lately.

I spent the entire weekend last weekend solo at my friend Beth’s lake house. I’m not going to lie…I almost came home Saturday morning. But I stuck it out and had an amazing weekend. I’ve realized many things about myself lately, one of which is that I’m terrible at relaxing. I had no internet, didn’t take work and no one to talk to. It was awesome. More on it later.

I got a selfie stick. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love it. I’ve wanted one forever but Gabe said no…but recently relented because I promised I wouldn’t embarrass him with it. I just wanted to take selfies of the 5 of us! I signed up on and this was my first product to review. It’s awesome! So easy to hook your phone up via bluetooth and start snapping selfies.

I had the honor of taking two of my favorite girls’ senior photos. We had so much fun and the pictures turned out great. These two girls are amazing examples of loving yourself and self-confidence. I learned a thing or two from them!!

Soccer is over which is both good and bad. Bad because I absolutely love watching my boys play and hanging out with the soccer families. Good because we actually have some time to, you know, have dinner together and hang out on the weekends!

My friend, Maria, and her church group made us dinner last Friday. It was perfect timing because Matt had been working late every night and was gone this past weekend. I’m still struggling with energy so it was nice not to have to worry about food for the weekend.

My Mom and I went to Costco together on Saturday and it was fun!

We’ve been having some issues with my dear, sweet Gabe and they have started to heal and get better lately. Parenting a teen is not easy. Not at all.

It is absolutely GORGEOUS here in Ohio. I keep looking around at the trees thinking how lucky I am to be alive.

What made you happy lately?

Happy This Week

I had visits from three of my former students this week. These make me so happy, you have no idea! It’s so fun to see them more grown up and catch up with them.

I scheduled a weekend away for myself. My dear friend, Beth, kindly offered me her cottage for the weekend. I’m going to go, by myself, with my favorite foods, wine, movies and books and REST all weekend. Alone. I can’t even tell you how much I need this. I’m also so proud of myself for asking for what I need. The only thing I’m going to have to work on is not feeling guilty about it.

I reached out to my sister and asked her to go to the hospital with me for my long day of tests, doctor visits and chemo yesterday. She lovingly rearranged her whole day so she could be with me. It was so kind and made the day fun instead of long and painful. I was also proud of myself for asking her to come with me! It’s nice to have a sister who knows you have a hard time asking for help, and when you do, you REALLY need help. Thanks, Hilary. I love you.

I scheduled my VERY LAST CHEMO yesterday!!! MARCH 31, 2016!!! I’ll also get my port out that day…hallelujah! I’m so glad to have a date to focus on over the next six months. Two weeks after that is my 40th birthday so I have to plan something B-I-G to celebrate. I’m thinking a huge dance party!!! What do you think I should do??

Finding My Way

I am trapped. I am under a blanket that is so heavy I can’t get it off.

Do I even want it off?

Some days I’m for sure that I would just like to stay under that blanket forever. Life is too hard. This is too hard. Olivia, parenting, work, the house and FUCKING CANCER is too much. I’m too tired and worn out. I can’t do it.

And this is where I’ve been living for the last few weeks. Maybe even months.

I’m mad. I’m so angry right now. I’m having a major pity party for myself over here. It’s not fair. I’ve been through so much in my life and it’s just not fair. I shouldn’t have to work so hard, to struggle so much, to have so many huge and scary things in my life. It’s not fair, damn it. Not fair.

And then I get mad at myself. I should be so fucking happy right now. I’m, knock on wood, going to be fine. Come April, I will be officially cancer free and I’ll be done. There’s little likelihood that it will come back. I should be over the fucking moon and instead this is one of the lowest points of my life. I suppose it’s like a woman who goes through infertility, finally has a baby and then gets postpartum depression. (Been there.) You should be on top of the world over this baby and instead you’re the lowest you’ve ever been. So it doesn’t have to make sense, but it makes me feel like an asshole for not just being grateful 24/7. I’m too mad and tired and worn out to be grateful.

I haven’t felt good in months. Almost a year. Do you know what that feels like? It’s awful. I’m still in pain. Still. I’m exhausted. Still. I’m emotionally a mess. Still. It’s crazy. I still look around and ask “is this really happening to me?”. I still can’t believe it’s real. And you know what’s the kicker? On top of everything else, I have daily reminders of cancer. My barely there hair. My haven’t-come-back-yet eyelashes. (Who knew you could miss mascara so much?) The extra 15 pounds that sits around my middle. The clothes in my closet that don’t fit. The pill I have to take every day to keep future cancer at bay. The horrid acid indigestion that won’t go away. The scars. The port. The missing part of my breast. The way Matthew hugs me harder and worries about me more. Every single day it’s there. You have cancer. You could have died. You are going through hell. You have months until it’s over. You wonder if you’ll ever, ever feel like yourself again.

But lately I’ve been really trying hard to get out from underneath the blanket that threatens to suffocate me. I’m trying to be kind to myself. To do things I enjoy. To try and find joy. To count my blessings. To know that it’s ok to have bad moments, bad days, bad feelings. I’m getting there. It’s slow. But I’m getting there.

I’m a fighter…till I collapse, I’ll keep going.

Good Reads

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

I never read Stephen King until a few years ago. Strange, I know. I am loving the last few books I’ve read by King, this one included. This is the story of a vengeful reader. He is a super fan of John Rothstein and is, frankly, obsessed with the author and why he concluded his “Jimmy Gold” series the way he did.  He sets out to steal the old author’s stories and ends up committing murder. Fast forward years later and teenager Peter Saubers finds a treasure chest filled with books and money. He finds it right at the perfect time when his family is falling apart due to financial struggles. I enjoyed reading the story and imagining how on earth these two stories were going to converge. It is suspenseful, thrilling and a very unique story. I recommend it!

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

One of my most favorite of all-time students, Christina, recommended this book to me. It was awesome! It’s a light, fun, fluffy read, much like the coconut cake that’s featured throughout. Lou is the owner and chef at Luella’s in downtown Milwaukee. She is engaged and trying to make her restaurant successful. When she gets a horrid review from the local restaurant critic, she falls apart as does her restaurant. What happens when she discovers the man she is in love with is the one who destroyed her dreams? This story reminded me of You’ve Got Mail and I loved it. It’s a fast, easy, fun read. I also made the coconut cake recipe that’s featured at the end and it’s to die for!

Why Do They Act That Way? by David Walsh

This was a non-fiction book recommended to me by my therapist. It’s not a fun read but, if you have teenagers or work with teenagers, it’s very fascinating and informative. It helps you understand (at least a little!) why they act the way they do.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Harder

I found this from a list on Pinterest of YA books to read before they become movies. It was unique and interesting but kind of strange. I was let down by the ending too. I was hoping for more than your basic “nice girl dates jock and he ends up being a douche and breaking her heart” story but I was disappointed. Harder tells a good story though through his unique writing style and imagery. The characters are well-developed, especially the main character, Min. I wouldn’t recommend it but I wouldn’t say it’s bad either. If you’re in the mood for a teenage love story with great characters and good writing, dive in. If you’re not in the mood for another basic love story, skip it.

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

This is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. I definitely mean that in the best way possible. Remember when you read Time Traveler’s Wife and is was so unique and you loved it, but at the same time it was so far-fetched and strange? That’s what this one is like. At it’s most basic it’s a lovely love story. I don’t usually like love stories, but I really enjoyed this one. Evelyn Roe is sent to work alone on her family’s farm. One night, in the middle of the storm, she discovers a strange, human-like form in the mud. Over a matter of days, the creature turns into Addie and they fall in love. I don’t want to tell you any more about it so you’ll read it. I wanted more when it was over. It’s a wonderfully odd, fascinating love story. I highly recommend it!

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

This was good enough but I finished it, but not so good that I could remember what it was about when I went to write about it. This was a free book through Kindle Firsts that Amazon Prime members get each month. The last several “firsts” have ended up not finished on my Kindle so it’s a good sign that I at least finished this one. Sarah and Johnny are a happily married couple when Sarah is caught in a fire that destroys their home and their neighbors. Soon Sarah finds out that her life is not as it seems and her husband may not be the  wonderful husband she though him to be. It was worth reading, but it wasn’t great. It was suspenseful and I enjoyed that.

The Bear by Claire Cameron

This has been on my list for ages. It is loosely based on a true story. A family is camping in Canada when the parents are attacked by a bear. The dying mother tells her five and three-year old to run and they do. They escape but must survive the woods until they are, hopefully, rescued. It was a short read and entertaining but it’s told in the voice of the five year-old and that got old really quickly.

When by Victoria Laurie

This is another YA novel and it was awesome! Maddie is a shy, smart teenager who has a unique gift — when she looks at a person their “death date” is on their forehead and she can see it. Maddie’s mother has been an alcoholic since Maddie’s father was killed in the line of duty. To help out financially, Maddie agrees to do “readings” for people in their home. A client comes in and Maddie tells them when they, or their loved one, will die. When Maddie tells a client that her son will die the following week, and then he goes missing, the police are all over Maddie and her special gift. It was a page-turner and a unique story with a twist. I loved it and highly recommend it!

Parting Gifts by Katrina Anne Willis

First let me tell you that this is a book written by one of my friends. She did not in any way, shape or form ask me to review it, she simply shared it with me in my chemo care package and I finally had enough brain power to read it.

It. Is. Amazing.

You know how you know someone and then you learn something about them that makes you look at them like “who are you???” but in a good way? That’s how I felt after reading her book. She’s the mother of two of my students and a friend and I think she’s wonderful. This book is amazing and I can’t believe someone I know and adore wrote such an outstanding book. Katrina packs a lot of different plot lines into her book but she does it so well it doesn’t seem overloaded. Her main characters are sisters. There is Catherine who is a forty-something professor looking for love and battling cancer. (You can tell Katrina has been through cancer with a close friend because of how spot on all of her references to all things cancer are in the book. Kudos.) There is Anne who is a stay-at-home mom of two in financial trouble and always wanting for more. Jessica is their baby sister who escaped Indiana, and never looked back, at the age of 18. She’s now a stripper and her family has no idea where she is. Their mother is in a home and has Alzheimer’s after being married to a cheating asshole for years. See what I mean? There’s a lot in the story but she writes it so well it’s not overcrowded. I read this in two days. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want it to be over. I’ve continued thinking about the sisters ever since it was over. Those are all signs of a great book, don’t you think? It’s available for pre-order on Amazon and comes out on April 16th! It’s a wonderful, wonderful book! I’m so proud of my friend!

What have you read lately?

Happy This Week

I’m in a rough spot guys. I’m still trying really hard to keep a smile on my face and find happy.

Scandal!! I’m officially obsessed and mad at myself for not watching it all these years. Of course now I don’t have to wait a week in between episodes!! I shouldn’t be surprised…I love Shonda’s other shows!

One of my coworkers and friends brought my family dinner when I had my last chemo. She is new to our building and is the sweetest. She’s one of those people I felt like I instantly clicked with, you know what I mean? It was so nice of her to do that for us!

Olivia is doing amazing in school and with her new potty training schedule. I promise I will write an Olivia update soon but we are so excited to see her continue to mature and grow.

Gabe’s team won their soccer tournament last weekend with three shutouts! It was super exciting and they played so beautifully as a team. I definitely need to write a Gabe post soon! Olivia stayed home with my Mom and just the boys, Matt and I went and we had a great time. Olivia had a great weekend too!

My hair is getting so long!!! Yippeeeee!!!

One of my most favorite students from last year (not that I have favorites! ;) ) stopped by and visited me this week. It was wonderful to see her, give her a hug and catch up! I truly miss my students when they leave. I love them so.

I got a very nice compliment from my work BFF, Ashley, and it honestly made my day. This is why I give compliments freely…you never know how much it will mean to the person who receives it!

I’ve been having terrible, terrible acid reflux since all of this cancer b.s. started and I finally asked for a prescription this week and it seems to be helping. It’s been making me very sick at night so I’m hoping it continues to help. Acid reflux is awful!

My work friends and I are going out this afternoon to celebrate my BRCA1/2 results. I’m so looking forward to hanging out with them!

We are going to the apple orchard tomorrow. One of my favorite outings of the year!

What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week (and Last!)

You guys. I have so many blog posts in my head and it drives me INSANE that I’m not making the time to write them. I’m working on it.

First up…my genetics test results came back and I do not carry the BRCA 1 or 2 gene!! Woohoo! It’s such a relief to know that, at this point, I won’t need any more surgery. It was nice to get some good news!!!

I’m back to getting manicures every three weeks and I LOVE IT! I’ve missed it so much. My nail lady, Sandra, is back too so it’s perfect.

How on earth did I miss Scandal all these years??? I caught an episode last week in between Grey’s and Murder and was hooked. Fast forward two seasons later on Netflix and I’m hooked. It’s a little over the top (obviously, it’s Shonda!) but I am loving it.

I had a really great week of teaching. Yeah!

My therapy for my eating disorder is going very well. It’s tough but it’s really difficult to let go of something that’s been part of my life since I was 11. I’m literally retraining my 39-year-old brain. I’m proud of myself for doing it.

I love my coffee and ANTM nights with my Mom!

My BFF and I have been so crazy busy but we’ve been trying really hard to fit in quick walks or visits and these save my sanity. So thankful for my person.

I’m reading books again!!

New TV is back! You guys know I love my TV shows! So far they’ve all been really good. What are you watching?

Starbucks seriously helps me through my week. I definitely think there’s something in their coffee that makes you addicted though.

I am getting more and more hair every day! I feel like it’s taking forever but when I look at pictures, I see that it’s coming along. I had hat hair the other day!!

What has made you happy lately?

Happy This Week

We had gorgeous weather this week in Ohio!!! It was one of those weeks where you just breathe in and feel happy to be alive.

Project Runway is the best show ever. I get so happy for Friday morning, even though I’m dragging and ready for the weekend, because I know I have a show waiting for me on my iPad!! I’m a dork, don’t judge me.

The boys had four soccer games last weekend and did awesome. I just love watching them play and do something they love so much.

Olivia started her period and I didn’t spend the whole week under the covers. I’m counting that as a win. More on this later, I promise.

Matthew turned 10! We had a great family party and we went out to dinner with a couple of his friends on his actual birthday day. I think he had a wonderful birthday!

Every Tuesday I take all the boys to soccer (we carpool) and then Olivia and I go hang out with my Mom for a couple of hours. She makes us dinner, we watch America’s Next Top Model and just hang out. I love it.

Matt and I are going out on a date this weekend! It’s been way too long.


What made you happy this week?

Happy This Week

I got a manicure from my favorite nail lady! She’s back in business and so am I. I love getting my nails done.

Does anyone watch Luther? I just discovered this show and I love it. I’m on season 3!

We had a fun weekend last weekend. We went to the fair, went out on the boat, had dinner with my BFF and even relaxed a bit. It was so nice before all the crazy of September starts.

Two of my friends brought me flowers this week. It was so sweet and brightened my day.

My students are awesome. They are kind and sweet and hard workers. I was blessed with another great group this year.

My Mom and I get to watch America’s Next Top Model together each week while the boys are at soccer. I love spending time with her.

Matthew’s birthday is this weekend and he’s so excited. Remember the excitement of your 10th birthday???

Olivia is having an awesome school year so far. It makes me VERY happy!!!

My hair is getting longer each week! I know, duh! But it’s amazing to have hair again…even just a little bit. I miss having hair so much. I can’t wait until it’s totally back. I miss my eyelashes too…but at least I have eyebrows again!

I had the first pumpkin spice latte of the season. It was so delicious.

It’s getting cooler. I’m so ready for fall weather!

What made you happy this week?