Fantastic 15

My beautiful, precious baby girl is turning 15 today. I know it’s cliche but I can’t believe she’s 15.

I’ve been marveling lately at all that is Olivia and being her mother. I just look at her and think she’s amazing. I look at her and I can’t believe she’s mine. She’s been through so much and come so far. She’s really a miracle.

O 2

I’ve also been thinking about how far I’ve come as her mother. In the beginning, I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know how I was going to be her mother. But I did it. We did it together. Our bond is crazy good. It’s amazing how, in the same day, in the span of just a few minutes, I can simultaneously love her so much I feel like I’m going to burst and wonder how I’m going to care for her for the rest of my life. She’s a lot of work, I’m not going to lie.

O and Oh 2

But she’s so worth it.

I have a 15-year-old daughter who says I’m her best friend. I have a 15-year-old daughter who has no body image issues, no self-esteem issues, no friend or boyfriend drama. I have 15-year-old daughter who loves unconditionally and with her whole heart. I have a 15-year-old daughter without a mean bone in her body unless she’s being funny and calls someone she loves a moron. I have a 15-year-old daughter who loves life, who experiences pure joy on an hourly basis and who is loved by so many. I have a 15-year-old daughter who is perfect in her own way.

O 1

I have an amazing daughter. I couldn’t be more proud to be her mother. I feel so lucky just to know her, let alone be her favorite person in the whole world. Even though it’s her birthday, every year I reflect on how she is truly the gift.

O cake 1

 

 

 

Happy This Week

You guys! I am so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been in this space. I’ve just been overwhelmed and, when I sit down to write, I have so many things to say that I end up saying nothing. Plus it’s been Vajanuary (Hey Jenni!) and February which I say is the LONGEST month of the year even though it’s the shortest. It’s been gray and dark and busy and overwhelming. But I really miss this space and I’m really going to try and be here more. Even if no one is still reading. I’ll just do it for me.

I had my first mammogram this week since being diagnosed with cancer and it was ALL CLEAR!!!! I was so anxious about it. I was certain it was going to be bad news. But it was perfectly clear!!! Yippee!!!

Three more chemo treatments to go and I’m done!! March 31st is NEXT MONTH YOU GUYS!!! It finally feels like it’s going to happen!

My eating disorder treatment is going really well. I really need to write more about this soon. I love my new therapist and I’m pretty proud of myself for working so hard.

We had a night of no sports, no meetings, no nothing this week and it was amazing! I made a nice dinner and we all hung out together. We typically always have dinner together every night but it’s not always a nice dinner!

My friend, Kelley, brings me coffee every morning. It makes my day every day.

My students are wonderful, for the most part, but it’s been an exhausting year due to a few. I put some new procedures and things in place this week that have really been helping and are making me a much happier teacher!

I went to see my students perform in the musical this week. They were amazing! I also got to see five former students which also was amazing! There’s nothing like their faces when they’re so happy to see you!

I listen to a lot of podcasts (I’m obsessed) and I’ve found a few new ones that I really like. One, Popculture Happy Hour, has a section at the end that’s called “What’s making us happy this week?” They stole my idea!! Just kidding. I love it!

New TV was back on this week, thank goodness! You know I love my TV shows!

What made you happy this week?

 

Happy This Week

The sun was out yesterday!!! January in Ohio is rough with cold weather and gray skies so to see the sun is wonderful. I took the opportunity to go for a walk at a Metropark and it was glorious!

My friend, Kim, and I met on Monday for pedicures and lunch. We do it every January and I always enjoy it!

I got my first hair cut in a YEAR!!! I really missed my hairstylist, Christy, who I consider to be one of my best friends. She’s amazing. It was so nice to have enough hair to get it cut and have a style!!!

Matt and I have been watching a bunch of true crime documentaries that were recommended based on “Making a Murderer”. They have been so good and fascinating. They are on Netflix: Aileen, Crazy in Love, Cropsey and Imposter. Check them out!

We’ve been watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” as a family and the kids are really enjoying it. Matt and I forgot how funny that show is! I love finding something we can all watch together.

I had a manicure yesterday. It just makes me so happy to get my nails done and my nail chica, Sandra, is a blast to hang out with for an hour!

Are you watching Project Runway Junior? If not, you should. These kids are AMAZING!!! It’s almost the finale and I’m so sad it will be over but it’s been so fun to watch.

Matt surprised me with a pair of Sperry duck boots that I’ve been wanting for a while. It was so nice!

What made you happy this week?

 

 

Winter Reads

I’ve read quite a few books since my last book post…and I’m excited to share them with you today. I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a couple…but they must not have been that good if I can’t remember them, right?

Troublemaker by Leah Remini

I am a pop culture fanatic and find Scientology extremely interesting. If either of those adjectives apply to you, you will LOVE this book. It is fascinating, sad, heartbreaking and interesting. I didn’t know Leah was a lifelong member of the “church”. Her story is riveting and she tells her story well.

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Eh. I skimmed most of it. Too fluffy and flowery and not enough behind the scenes tales for me.

Time’s Divide (book 3) by Rysa Walker

I loved, loved, loved the first two books in this series. This one? Not so much. It was way too long and tedious. I felt as though Walker was stretching it out to make a third book. I thought the end was anticlimactic and disappointing. I was really bummed too because of how much I enjoyed the first two. Oh well.

Make Me by Lee Child

I really enjoy Child’s Jack Reacher stories. This was the most recent one of his Reacher tales. (If you’re not a Reacher fan, start at the beginning!) Reacher decides to stop in a town called “Mother’s Rest” simply because he wants to know the origin of the name. He finds himself involved in a serious problem simply by stopping in this town. He meets a woman who is looking for a missing coworker. They team up to find out what is going on in this town and they team up in the bedroom! You won’t believe where this story takes you and what is going on in this small town. I really enjoyed it but thought Child could have wrapped up the story a little more quickly.

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Oh how I loved this book. Promise me if you read this one, you’ll immediately follow it with The Nightingale (see below). I just happened to read them in this order and it made both books so much better. You’ll see what I mean if you read them. In this book, Hope is the owner of a bakery and a divorced mom to a teenage daughter who is struggling to keep her little life in Cape Cod together. When her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, in a rare moment of clarity, asks her to go to Paris to uncover family secrets, Hope finds more than she ever imagined. There’s a little love story mixed in, family drama and amazing plot twists. I don’t want to tell you too much more or I’ll ruin it!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I usually really enjoy Hannah’s books and this one was by far one of her best. I absolutely loved this book. It is such a great example of bravery and female power during one of the most horrendous times in history, World War II. The story focuses on two sisters. Vianne is the responsible older sister whose husband just left for the war. Isabelle is the rebellious younger sister who is itching to do something to help with the war. It is a beautifully told, riveting, absolutely heartbreaking story of how these two sisters survive the war. You will love it but it will break your heart.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Slaughter is one of my all-time favorite authors. In fact, if I had to pick just one, she would be my favorite. I wish she would write faster because I want to read one of her books each week! I will warn you up front that this is probably the most gruesome and upsetting books she’s written. But it’s SOOOOO good. Claire and Lydia are sisters who haven’t spoken since their sister, Julia, disappeared over 20 years ago. Their lives are complete opposites: Claire is the trophy wife of a millionaire and Lydia is a single mother who struggles to make ends meet. Suddenly, because of one major event, they are back in each other’s lives and, finally, discovering what really happened to their beautiful sister. It is dark, it is scary and it is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. My BFF recommended it to me after she stayed up until midnight to finish it…which if you know her is crazy because she’s always early to bed! I was glad I was reading it over Christmas break because I couldn’t put it down! One day, Emily Coleman, leaves her family. She disappears without a trace. She moves to a new town and starts to live a new life under a new name. But why? What happened to her to make her leave? You will want to read faster and faster to find the answers to these questions. Be forewarned, when you finally find the answers, they will break your heart. It’s so incredible. You’ll love it.

What have you read lately??

 

 

 

 

Incredibly Loved

In tandem with my previous post about how much having cancer sucks, I will tell you that over the past year I’ve never felt so incredibly loved. I struggle with feeling loved. I really do. I always think I love everyone so much but don’t feel worthy of their love in return. I always think they don’t love me as much as I love them.

This year has taught me that I am, indeed, incredibly loved.

My friends have brought meals. They’ve made t-shirts for fundraisers. They’ve held a kick-ass fundraiser event. They’ve sent cards. They’ve dropped off treats and flowers when I was feeling down. They’ve sent texts just to check in. My family has done laundry, cleaned the house, cared for the kids, gone to the grocery store. My friends and family have rearranged their schedule to take me to chemo. My family and I have been included in an immense amount of prayers. It’s been overwhelming in a wonderful way.

It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that everyone has done this for me. For us. But I am very blessed to feel so incredibly loved. I’ll never be able to pay it back. I gave up writing thank you notes the first week in. I sent texts and Facebook messages but I’m a handwritten thank you note girl. I felt bad about it for a while and then I just let it go. Because it wasn’t possible for me to keep up. So my plan is to pay it forward. I’m planning on 30 random acts of kindness to pay it forward. I’ve had two surgeries, by the time April 2016 gets here I will have had 25 chemo treatments and I had 26 radiation treatments so I rounded up to 30. It will in no way shape or form pay anyone back for everything they’ve done for me and the way they’ve loved me and my family so deeply. But it’s something small I can do to pay it forward.

Thank you, everyone, for making me feel incredibly loved over this past year. I love you too.

 

Breast Cancer Sucks…There. I Said It.

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To all of you cancer warriors, or loved ones of cancer warriors, I would like to announce that I’m calling BULLSHIT on this quote and other quotes like these. I read these and I think “What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t think my cancer is a blessing. This has been a terrible year. Am I weird?” The answer to that is no. I’m not wrong, or weird, or abnormal. I know, I just know, I’m not the only one who doesn’t see having cancer as a blessing.

It’s been rough on my marriage.

It’s been rough on the kids.

It’s been rough on my Mom, my sister, my BFF, my friends.

It’s made me feel even more alone.

It’s made me gain 20 pounds from the meds.

It’s made my eating disorder rear its horribly ugly head again.

It’s made me feel like shit for the last year. Every day.

It’s made me face my own mortality and be scared shitless about it.

It’s made me bald and feel ugly.

It’s made me use a hell of a lot of sick days.

It’s made me do a lot of lesson plans for subs (which if you’re a teacher you know is a GIANT pain in the ass).

It’s made me miss out on so many days and events and happenings.

It’s given me acid reflux and hot flashes and a deformed left breast.

It’s given me so much worry that it might come back and with a vengeance.

It’s made me feel like “bizarro Tiffany”…not anything like myself.

It’s been a giant pain in the ass. I’ve hated every minute of it. I don’t see it as a blessing.

“Oh! But didn’t it make you appreciate life and the small things?”

I already did that, thank you.

“Oh! But didn’t it make you realize how strong you are?”

I already knew that, thank you.

So to all of you cancer warriors, stand up with me and say “Having cancer sucks big time” and don’t feel one bit bad about it.

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Happy This Week (or the last two…)

Where in the world did December come from?!?!? I can’t even believe it’s the end of the semester and almost the holidays. I’M NOT READY!!! Actually I have almost all of my shopping done…thank goodness for online shopping!

Matt and I were able to go out on a date over Thanksgiving weekend. We hadn’t been on a date in forever. We went out to dinner and saw The Martian. Very good movie! We were up until midnight like teenagers! LOL!

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Very relaxed and chill. We definitely needed that type of weekend. I had treatment the Friday after Thanksgiving so I felt like crap Saturday but it was only one day of a five day weekend!

We are all decorated for Christmas. I just love Christmas decorations!

My Mom, Olivia and I went to see Disney on Ice. She just LOVES those shows. She just shakes with excitement the whole time.

The boys went to Columbus today to see the MLS finals so Olivia and I were here alone. We had a Christmas movie marathon and stayed in our pjs. It was a perfect day!

I’ve been in a workout rut so I’ve been doing a 30-day make-fat-cry challenge from Betty Rocker. It has been awesome. Exactly what I needed to get out of my rut.

I got to hang out with my BFF and her family over Thanksgiving weekend…and then again this weekend!

I have one more treatment for 2015 and then only 5 MORE TREATMENTS LEFT!!!! The countdown is on baby!

I think I’ve got enough hair now that strangers don’t automatically think “OH CANCER!” when they see me. (I know this because I saw someone at Disney on Ice that I haven’t seen in over a year, and doesn’t follow me on FB or anything, and he said “When’d you get your hair cut so short?”🙂 I was all…a while ago! Can’t wait for my hair and eyelashes to be totally back to normal. It’s taking A LOT longer than I anticiapted.

Matthew is in choir and had his first concert on Friday. It might have been the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

The boys started soccer again. I love how much they love it!

Buddy the Elf is back in our house and the kids are still loving it. We’re also doing the advent calendar with little treats or an activity each day. It’s been very fun!

What made you happy lately?

 

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 www.tomoson.com 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?