Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Verdict

Fall has finally begun to show around here.  Even if it is still high 80s and low 90s, the air is different and the "rain trees" are blooming that brilliant yellow/green.  I love this time of year!  
Happy Autumn to all! 
 I'll be back to posting now.  It was a nice blog break, but I miss writing.
Most of you know I've been experimenting with the Whole30 food approach trying to find my new eating plan.  Having been a complete vegetarian for the majority of my adulthood, eating other than that design has been challenging.  To say the least.  
I was of the school that whole wheat was best; no harm in cage free, organic dairy,  as I wasn't consuming meat for protein; and soy was a fine substitute food for many things.  Beans were my protein source, eating my fill of hummus and black beans daily.  And now, my body put the brakes on that line of thinking, demanding a new approach to food.  Humph!  It's been a year since I had my diagnosis of ulcerative colitis.  A year since I had my carefully designed culinary world come to a screeching halt, and a year since my bulletproof shield was shattered.  Funny how we think we are able to control every little thing.  We just are not in control after all. Surprise!
This is my story.  
In an effort to heal my poor gut, I found the Whole30 regimen this past March.  It seemed scientifically sound, possible to endure and a great experiment to see if I could eat again.  If you have UC, or any of the colitis based diseases, you know eating is a challenge.  By the time I was diagnosed, I was eating mashed potato.  Period.   The initial medication I was put on was sulfur based and I was not aware I was allergic to it; I just wasn't able to shake the "brain fog". Investigating the brain fog led to an MRI, whereby they found a (now insignificant) brain tumor.  Ok, they definitely had my attention! When my gastro doctor figured out my allergy and changed my medication to something that is highly effective, it was time to figure out how to live the rest of my life, including which foods to eat.  New relationships and all that, exciting! Not. Gheesh!
So, In March I began the Whole30, which for me was the Whole65.  It was a fantastic experience in my case.  I felt terrific.  Had energy.  Began to find my days were once again colorful and filled with joy and happy outlooks.  Finally.  After a solid year of grey I was beginning to see in living color again!  It made springtime so lovely!
As recommended, upon completing my whole30 regimen, I began adding things back into the diet to find out what, exactly, my trouble foods are.  In July we went to the Competition in Chicago and were basically stuck in the convention center.  So I ate what they had, which included more french fries than I've ever eaten, and some hard cider.  Albeit delicious for a few days, after a week of that I really had to detox!  But I've been casual about the occasional gluten and dairy over the past couple of months, and I am beginning to feel poorly again.  The birthday cake at Tessa's birthday party, and an occasional bit of feta cheese on my salads are enough for my body to scream at me to get my attention!   Not to mention the all out rebellion once in a while, with a piece of quiche filled with cheese and such.  

(Tessa & her mommy at Tessa's 2nd birthday party)

 My joints are swelling, my gut is swelling, I'm pretty tired and restless, not sleeping well and it is making a believer out of me.  I have an outright allergy to barley, that showed up on a food allergy test.  But also, those of us with Hashimoto's thyroiditis should not eat gluten, apparently.  And according to the doc, being a red head is a triple celiac threat!  It causes inflammation inside your body.  And it makes your joints hurt and swell.  And in my case, it makes my head shake (involuntary tremors). And my students think I'm telling them no, when I don't even know my head is moving - embarrassing!  The dairy, well, it's a hormonal interrupter.  Let's face it, none of us need that!  I can be 13 different moods in less than 5 minutes.  No bueno.  I don't eat much dairy, but sometimes I have cream in my coffee instead of coconut milk ... and I've not been diligent about reading labels of late.  Turns out that's a bad idea.  It's what makes me lethargic, sad and slow.
So, the verdict for me?  Back on the Whole30 for a reset.  And back to what I found out now works.
For me: no gluten, no dairy, no beans FOR REAL, no soy and no sugar (which I don't eat any way).  Oh, and no wine.  Ouch.  But, I'm looking so forward to having the amazing energy and spark again!!  And dropping some not needed weight is always a bonus.  I know I have ten pounds that goes away when I eat "properly" for my own body.  And I love not having the swelling!  No pain when I get out of bed and no protecting my aging hip joints!  Teaching 16 classes per week is hard enough, having extra weight is not a bonus here!  Guess I have some dietary restrictions but I get to keep eating those precious vegetables!  And it makes me feel younger and more vibrant.
This has been a project that has been one whole year in the making!  Not my normal style ... I'm not usually patient enough for that kind of research and documentation.  But in this case, I'm very grateful I bit the bullet and did it.  And if sharing this info will help even one of you, my friends, then it's worth telling my story!  And gratitude to the folks who decided to devote their lives to share information that will help us regular folks overcome our food challenges.  (Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig and their merry band of researchers, etc. for the Whole30)  And to you who can eat anything, any time with no adverse reactions - kudos!  Say grace!  And enjoy your unrestrained culinary world!

Blessings to you all for the new season!  Enjoy each moment.  Each art show, each bowl of soup, each blue sky and each and every star.  Life is a lovely thing worthy of celebration!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

See, what happened was ...

 Life is good!  Our blessings are greater than we could possibly count!  

I believe in those two statements above all else.  Why, then is it so easy for me (& I suspect you, too) to concentrate on those pesky little details that aren't exactly what I want them to be?  It would be nice to have a delete button that applies to my thoughts, and I could just delete the ones I am certain are not doing good things for me and a waste of time to even think about!

Here is just one (albeit a doozie)  of the frustrating things are happening in the periphery:
1.  we rented our precious home in NC.  The people seemed like a perfect match, not only to us, but to two different Realtors who worked out the agreement.  Epic fail!  They have destroyed my beautiful home and caused amazing heartbreak.  If an Ashley &/or Benjamin White approach you to rent your home (especially a lease to purchase), just say no!  p.s., they have 7 children they don't tell you about, and even more dogs;  they don't understand what garbage receptacles are for ... oh, and toilets, they don't understand toilets either.  The house I love and have really busted my hump to keep of is now a garbage heap, infested with fleas and bed bugs, lice and feces.  Do not rent to these people!  And if she works in the establishment where you happen to eat, don't let her get near your food.  She and her family were living in that filth.  I have serious panic attacks over her children being in that environment.  Oh. my. gosh.  AND,  I have sincere gratitude for those of you up in the mountains who have tried to help us get things worked out.  Many, many thanks.
As some of you read my Facebook posts when the **it hit the fan, and wondered what was happening, that was a big part of it.  Now we are just trying to keep anyone else from experiencing the devastation this kind of thing brings into your life. Ugh!
But on the BRIGHT side!!! (because there always is one)

Last week the Dancer's Pointe performing company (Pointe of Impact) went to Chicago to compete for the National Dance Titles and THAT, my friends, was magnificent!  The Company was tremendous!  Pointe of Impact rocked it! AND, we had fun!   Ms. McClaine and I were determined to document our journey and accompany it with laughter and light hearted fun.  Which you can see we were awesome at accomplishing!  

Day 1 - Competition begins

We laughed, we cried, we snorted, we indulged in food and beverages, it was just awesome! 
 We made new friends, we reunited with old ones.  The entire things was amazing!  The dancers totally BROUGHT IT to the stage every single time.  They worked their magic, they became their dances.  They did every single thing dance teachers hope for.  I am so proud of the kids I could bust wide open.  Still!  
Also, many thanks to the best supportive dancer parents & fellow teachers in the world!  Y'all are amazing every step of the way!  

And as this is the BEST thing that has happened around here for a while, I'm just going to leave you with some shots.  Enjoy!
For those of you who always wondered, this is the process of getting to the stage:  getting dressed, warming up the body, waiting for the call for back stage, waiting some more, and finally hitting the stage for 2 to 5 minutes of blissful dancing adrenaline!!  Yep, all for that chance to dance!

The piece I took was Company Jane.  23 girls tap dancing a Capella (no music) in sync for 4 minutes and 27 seconds (unless they rush, then it's a little less on the seconds).  They met every single one of my hopes!  Thank you so much, girls!  <3 

 above photo courtesy of David Evertsen (link below)

 Ms. McClaine managed these photos from the audience!

And of course, the ever popular jazz hands!  As this was a synchronized piece and super serious precision, jazz hands just plain felt good! HA!

McClaine won OVERALL best choreography out of 700(ish) dances in the competition!  Amazing talent, amazing performance, too!

And here's to the best roomies ever!  What a great trip!  Thanks for putting up with me, ladies!  
Love & hugs!

And another thing, I'm so grateful for being healthy again.  It was a crazy long road.  To find out how to manage it all, incorporate it into my life and live a strong happy, healthy existence is SUCH an amazing way to begin every single morning.  And I do not take one second of it for granted.  It has been an education in patience, perseverance and dedication.  Along with my sweet Paul, these two ladies are such wonderful support beams for me, so many, many thanks to you, Kelly & McClaine for all you are.  And to you, Susi, for being the catalyst of such joy and love! 
Much love to you, dear friends.  

If you are interested in viewing more competition photos, there are a go zillion on our Facebook and Instagram feeds, but also, David Evertsen has a bunch up on his professional site.  His work is great and his camera is swift!  He catches those great leaps in mid air and other amazing shots.  Visit his site at or just click HERE!

Now, I'm back to art!  Making journals and painting, mosaicing and grouting, it's all great fun.  I even have some furniture to refinish.  So, be prepared for a big subject switch.  No whiplash intended!  Lol!

Ta for now!  Blessings to all!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Amazing Grace (& That's a Wrap!)

Every place I look, there is goodness and joy!  Oh yes, there is sorrow and grief, sadness and tears, too.  But if you look beyond those things, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!

You all know I have been totally consumed with all things dance and recital.  It has been an exciting 30 days or so, to be sure.  I've been able to see, hear and feel the joys of watching the things in my head come to life with the students I teach, the teachers I co-teach with, the parents of these amazing young people, and on and on and on.  A studio filled to the brim with exceptional human beings.

 Yesterday was the show.  Not a normal show, as far as a lot of recital standards go.  When I was in dance (back in the dark ages), it was always held in a high school.  Although we were on a stage, I don't remember all the production like we have now.  The Dancer's Pointe holds our show in a real theater (The city's major performing art theater until just this year when we got a brand new one), with lights, backdrops, stage hands, fabulous props and amazing support from the parents and other people of the community who love and adore a dance studio who has held steadfast for 25 years now.

And so many congratulations to Susi Martucci who is an amazing studio owner and wonderful business owner, dance teacher, boss, confidant and friend.  And to her "side kick", Kelly Salisbury who is amazing at artistic direction, teaching, choreographing, stage managing, keeping us all in line with all things creative including competition, and also a great friend. (no photo because she just doesn't like having her photo taken).  These two women have been the two original Wonder Women for 23 years together.  No easy feat in ANY business.  Just imagine, for one moment, trying to manage 11 or 12 dance teachers with all of the creative energy flowing and all those squirrels to be chased!  Like corralling cats, if you will. That is only one of the fifty pieces to the puzzle.  Kudos to you beautiful ladies!  

The show was amazing.  I had the pleasure of watching three of my previous students teach their own classes, and 2 of those 3 teach for the very first year this year.  It is a wonderful thing to watch the circle go around.  And it gives me amazing joy to see these beautiful young folks share what is inside their heads come to life on the stage.

And it is an honor to teach beside my fellow teachers, whose help and support I adore, whose complete passions I admire and whose friendships I treasure.  These three beauties are my sounding boards, my means to stay connected with youth and sanity, my good friends and adopt-a daughters, my music editors and sometimes my drinking buddies! I don't know what I'd do without them!  Thank you Shara, McClaine and Mandy for always treating me with such sweet kindness.  It is so very much appreciated.  xoxo

The backstage folks, who are all volunteers, and take their jobs as seriously as any of the rest of us.  Here they are below, standing ready to retrieve props, change costumes, hand off props and do whatever else comes up to be done.   Margie, who is our office manager and deals with all of the communication between the parents and the staff, who even safety pins our clothes and wipes our tears when we need her.  We could never thank Margie enough!  And Cathy, who is also office support, but mostly behind the scenes checking to see all the details are taken care of.  So many people to make the whole world go around.  So many people to thank!

The students, who work hard all year to learn enough dance to put it into a choreographed routine to get out on that big stage and dance in their costume for their friends and family, and for themselves.  THEY are what it is all about the day of the show.  And they were ALL so beautiful!  The first timers, so precious and brave, going out and giving it their all ~ they are the ones I always have the biggest heart for.  Total applause for all of the dancers who graced that stage yesterday!  Bravo!!!
We had seven graduating seniors this year.  The tears were rolling down my face on their last piece as I remembered most of them walking in as teeny tiny dancers, wide eyed and still in baby teeth.  There was one point when the lump in my throat was bigger than I could swallow down, so I just had to turn away and pretend we were at the beach!  Gosh, we're going to miss these ladies!

We had a bunch of our beautiful alumni come back and do a special finale dance that was THE MOST FUN thing ever.  And they danced to "We Are Family".  Which has always been true for me at The Dancer's Pointe.  At the end of that dance the teachers got to join in the soul train line and feel the vibe on stage ... that amazing vibration you can only get under the lights, on the stage.  I never thought I'd feel that particular vibe again.  There is nothing else that I know of that fills that place in my soul.  Did I mention how grateful I am yet?  So much love and joy filling my heart!!

So, to recap ... today I am filled with gratitude, with great swarms of emotions of joy and elation having been once again involved in such a great season with such a GREAT ending.  And I just wanted to express my thanks.  And my extreme awareness knowing how very blessed I am to be living such an amazing life with such amazing people.

You are all so very dear to me; students, parents, teachers, volunteers and friends and family of all of those folks.  I just wanted to say thank you.  (I can ramble on though, can't I?  #sorry/not sorry.)

And a HUGE thank you to Paul, who is ever the good sport, best backup and most incredible partner I could ever hope for.  Thanks for having my back yesterday, honey!  That tape dispenser would've been stuck in the wings forever... ;-) I sure did miss seeing you on the stage though. xo

Can't wait to see you all in the fall when we start the whole process over again!

Until then, I'll be in the art studio!  If you need anything, you can find me there!  After my nap.

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Time Keeps on Ticking

Time is elusive, invisible and frustrating as it passes!  (At least for me)  I am currently watching a handful of my 3 year old students graduate high school.  Okay, maybe they aren't 3 years old right now in reality, but in my heart they are just entering their very first pre school dance class and learning to skip!  Never mind that they are all doing competitive solos and earning first place trophies for things such as "best emotional execution", "best precision", "best technical execution", best everything under the sun ... you get the idea.  I'm over the moon excited for and proud of these gorgeous (now) women.  But my heart is in shock about the passage of time, and how they are already women when just last week (seemingly) they were babies!  Regardless of how that effects me, CONGRATULATIONS to you beautiful women in your achievements, and best of luck to you all in your future endeavors.  With all of your talents, I cannot imagine you won't rule the country, if not the world, if that is what you set your mind to do!  I will always love you, be here for you and have a sticker on hand to make you feel good about yourself! ;-)
So, Ashley Simkovitch, Maile Suganuma, Danielle Quinn, Katie O'Meara, Britain McDonald, Morgan Lee and Lauren Barr, my heart swells with pride as you beauties strike out into the world.  And it also swells with a little bit of fear for those out there who aren't ready for you! ;-)  Blessings and love to you beauties.  I will miss you each greatly.  Don't forget to come back and visit with us!
And although no longer a dance studio student, just as sincerely I wish huge success to Lindsay Merwin and the rest of the graduating seniors who chose other amazing paths to learn life's lessons through.
I believe in each and every one of you!

Photobucket  formerly Ms. Cheri to you all!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Whole30, from my point of view

As most of you know, I began the Whole30 eating, living program in March.  I am on my last day of what I am sure will be my personal Phase I.  I just thought I'd write a few bits of perspective in case any of you would like to try it and want to know someone who can walk with you, support you, and tell you what their experience held.  Not that it will be the same as yours, but there is comfort in numbers, right?
First, as briefly as I can, here is my story:
I lived in the mountains of NC.   It was mostly freezing 6 months out of the year.  We made and ate a lot of food for comfort and warmth.  And let's face it, if you don't like to ski or build snow men, there is not much else to do.  So, I naturally gained some weight over the course of almost 8 years.  What I didn't realize, although I saw it when I looked into the mirror, was that my insides were inflamed.  I just looked like I'd filled myself with hot air.  Weird.  And I knew I didn't feel good.  But I carried on, because that is what you do.  And I marveled at how "mid life" was truly changing me! LOL. Whatever justification works!
On May 23rd of last year I crashed.  Hard.  Every single thing I ate went straight through the pipes.  No stopping for digestion or nutrient absorption, just "outta here", so to speak.  I was so tired I could barely keep it together.  I made a couple of special trips to Atlanta to see my doctor of 28 years because he's known me so long, surely he could figure it out.  And partially, he did.  Something wrong with my gut, and my thyroid was off.  Hmmm.  I spent the summer from late May until early August (I think) in the mountains with the objective of moving out of the 2800 sq. ft. house there, as we relocated to Orlando, FL and I wanted to get the house cleaned out and on the market.  But by mid June, I was bed ridden for the most part.  I went to one of the urgent care places where they diagnosed me with H. pylori (a not healthy intestinal bacteria) and hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis). Ugh! They put me on meds for my thyroid and gave me enough antibiotics to send me back to bed.  By mid July I was too sick to care.  I didn't get the house emptied, but with help from a great friend and my daughter, it was packed up enough to have Paul come up, rent a trailer and pour me into the truck to get me and most of our possessions back to FL, now home.
When I returned to FL, the doctor parade began.  Eventually, (August until October) I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and in mid October began medicine for that diagnosis.  So now, thyroid meds and UC meds.  Both auto immune diseases, both life long meds.  Even though I could stay out of the bed for the majority of the day, I still felt lousy.  And I was sluggish, fuzzy headed, had major pressure in my head that made it feel like it was going to explode,  and for the first time in my whole life I really didn't think I was happy AT ALL.  At the insistence of my Primary Physician, there was an MRI which produced evidence of a brain tumor, but upon seeing the Neurosurgeon, that turned out to be insignificant.  (right here, you better believe I hit my knees in BIG FAT PRAYERS of gratitude).  But the question still stand, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?!
Well, in late March I began seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor (a chiropractor as well, Dr. Dana O'Keefe) who is amazing, caring, supportive and HUGELY gifted in the art of healing.  I also went back to see my gastro doc, who determined all of that head stuff was caused by the UC meds, allergic reaction/intolerance to the sulpha drug.  And low and behold, I found the WHOLE30 regimen.  
After the first 3 days of being on the new med for the UC and doing the WHOLE30, my life changed!  What?!?!  Yep! Totally changed.  Also, finding Dr. O'Keefe has been a huge blessing in that I have always been a chiropractic believer, and now I am back to doing what my body personally responds to the very most!  A healthy, happy aligned body! Awesome!  We hope to get the whole med thing off of the table SOMEDAY.  But grateful to have all these pieces of the pie together at long last!
No longer fuzzy headed.  No more pressure.  No need for naps!!!  No discomfort or signs of UC.  That was the week of spring break for us.  The week before I wasn't sure I could finish out the year teaching.  The week after I was all, "hey! Let's do this .... bigger and better than we've ever done it!"
The change was significant, magnificent and life changing/saving.  So, yes, I recommend - HIGHLY that you go for it!  It's 30 days out of your life to improve your health, sanity and the way your clothes fit.  
The second week I was tired.  Adjusting to the fact that you HAVE TO EAT at the right times, b/c your fuel depletes quickly when you give away all your energy to your students.  Then there is the house cleaning and etc.  It was an intense readjustment period/learning week.  I am still working on that part, actually.  But if I remember to "fuel up", I have no issues!  And I can garden, and walk around the neighborhood, do yoga and feel like the old Ms. Cheri!  I'm even literally doing cart wheels again (someone hs to teach them)...
I am not into sweets, really ... so giving up the sugar and such was a non event for me.  The hard part was no honey & cream in my coffee, which made it more like breakfast and I didn't have to eat.  Black coffee is not my favorite, but the addition of coconut milk made it totally tolerable, and now even perfect!  Who knew?!?!
I requires a lot of prep and fresh food cooking.  Yep, it's intense if you usually eat microwaved pre packaged food.  But we've never done that, so it's not that different for me.  There is a tremendously helpful website where you can download the information you need to do the program FREE OF CHARGE.   These people want you to get well!  I am so grateful.  And I also want you to get well!  Or just get better!  or just click HERE.  Get the Book "Starts with Food" and read it!
So, here is my final word of advice.  If you choose to try it, go all in.  You can't half way do it.  It just won't work!  And compared to most of the world's "hard", this is not even in the ball park.  You can do it if you think it'll help you.   It saved me!
Personally, I will begin my own Phase II tomorrow.  I will probably eat like this for the rest of my life.  I can't imagine going back to feeling like I did before.  And, there is a special featured section for people with autoimmune issues that I didn't incorporate for the first few weeks.  Turns out, I feel EVEN BETTER when I stick to those recommendations!
I say go for it!  You have nothing to lose except unwanted weight and health problems!!  And what you gain is truly priceless.  I got "me" back!  And just in time!  Summer is just on the edge of being here! I want to feel good enough to enjoy it!  And ... I do!  The world is once again filled with color!


Friday, March 20, 2015

How Can That Be?

When I looked at the date of my last post, well ... I was simply mortified and then, perplexed!
 How can it be that it was 2 months ago? Yikes!  Let's catch up, shall we?
Right after my last post,
We went camping!  We met up with some of our sweet friends and had an absolutely lovely time in Silver Springs State Park here in Northern FL.  So much to celebrate seeing friends and feeling alive!!
 It got pretty cold as the sun went down.  And down right COLD in the middle of the night.  But who cares!?  It was such a wonderful time!  There was music around the campfire, a lovely night with a meal hosted by Lisa and Dave (the best turkey tacos I've ever had), morning coffee at the Glover's tent site, and a tour of Patti & Dan's newest home away from home.  Camping in all of its shapes and sizes!
Who says old folks don't know how to have fun!?! 

Obviously February flew by!  With the normal things, the remarkable things and the unremarkable things, we've managed to maintain a level of the good life, "with poise and dignity", as my friend Sabrina always says.   We are so blessed.  And equally grateful and humbled as we walk & run (and sometimes crawl) through this adventure we are on. 

 I cannot say enough about how we celebrate our current location every single day!  
It was the first winter without debilitating cold and snow for us in 8 years.  Well, I guess the first 2 years we were in the mountains wasn't really that cold.  I think Mother Nature was letting us get our green horn feet on the ground before she slammed us.  There were some winters that made up for those two though.  In hindsight, I think she was telling us to move but we were too cold to hear her!  I'm so thankful that the opportunity finally made itself loud and clear, and will always be grateful to Paul's parents for providing the way and the means for us to get back to the South.

 The Florida Chapter of the Olives had a spring beach sauntering moment last weekend.  GLORIOUS!
 So. very. gorgeous.

After an entire year here, we've settled back in and feel like we've come home and have our Floridian flip flops firmly affixed to our sunbathed feet. 

For me, that really should read, "freckled feet", but you know what I mean!  As I am mostly in the dance studio, I don't get a lot of sunbathing time, but that is more my fault than anyone else's.

I prefer the art studio when the dance studio is closed.  Being surrounded by windows with sunshine streaming in is delightful.  And although I adore the beach, our sweet car, Tinkerbell is rebelling against long journeys and so the art studio it is!  Just as well!  I am taking a few on line art courses to become more of a force and I adore every single second of doing so.
Kind of a "hodge podge" of some of the lessons from LifeBook 2015, and let me tell you, I adored each one of the lessons!   Tamara LaPorte of (Tam) is a genius, amongst other things. And she has some of the best EVER artists facilitating the lessons.  This is just such a positive experience and I am so very thrilled that I joined in!  The lessons are art based, but have an element of self empowerment and such in them, as well.  For example, the 4 figures in the collage below (top row, center) represent 4 women who have supported me being an artist.  They are in my image of them, and very caricature, but the are my daughter, my Aunt, my grandmother and my mom. (l to r).  But thinking about who were/are the most supportive 4 women figures in my life really provoked some deep emotions I hadn't previously considered. I have sense added angel wings to 3 of the figures, as they are my guardian angels.  Unlike most people who just need one, I am blessed enough to have 3.  :-)  Anyway, it has been truly educational in so many different veins. 

  I also adore every second of the dance studio time.  Now that I've been back in it for the best part of a year, I'm remembering more than I originally thought I ever would.  Thank goodness!  I'm enjoying the students, they fuel that fire for sure.  The "littles" are simply the most precious beings on the face of the earth.

The difference between Ballet 2 above and Ballet 6 below.  Worlds apart!
Waiting on photographer to get the formation documented! Look at these postures! Oye!
 And watching the middle school aged dancers "get it" is as exciting as it is rewarding.  The teens (high schoolers) are amazing to watch perform, mostly because they don't always "give it up" in class.  When I see them "give it full out" on stage, it often makes my jaw drop.  My competition girls did that to me the first time I saw them compete.  (dance Olympus, Regionals in Tampa, FL) I was honestly astounded at how well they did!  And, very, very happy for them.  Their hard work certainly paid off.  Go girls!  And it was so sweet to be sitting in the audience at a recent show with Paul, watching the schools we've seen for years dance and entertain.  Yep, the dance bug has bitten once again, hard.  Another surprise!

 My competitive girls dancing an  a Capella tap number, Company Jane at Regionals.
So amazing!

Speaking of Paul, he's doing well and having a good time.  He's doing iron work, and making some impressive pieces now days.  His strength is always impressive.  But Lord, his math aptitude and his creative and applicable genius is incredible.  Yep.  Makes me cringe when I know I only count to 8, divide and multiply by 8 and its derivatives! Ha.  (Dancers are not really known for their mad math skills!  I digress.  Sorry.)  Paul's badminton passion is maintaining a 10 on the 1-10 scale, and he's improved so much since he re-uped last spring.  He's committed to excellence, for sure!  I love his enthusiasm.  And his dimples!  Also, he has a larger scooter now because someone ran into him (over him, actually) on his last Vespa and totaled the scooter.  Not Paul, thank goodness.
 Bye Bye Silver Vespa
 The "old guys"

out with the old --- in with the beautiful new electric blue!!

   I'm guessing all of those years as a soccer goalie taught him how to roll and hop right back up.  He was lucky, and he knows it.  But still flaunts his super power cape from time to time.  After all, he is Super Scooter!

The cats are all healthy and happy after a pretty brutal bought for 2 of them with some kind of virus this past winter season.   They love being out in the back yard.  The older two don't realize they could get out of the fence if they wanted to.  And the youngest, Sulu the Siamese rules the neighborhood, no matter how we feel about his walkabouts.  But lately he spends most of the time at home, on the roof of the car, or on the roof of the house.  Crazy cat, he seems to really like being on rooftops right now! I am always entertained by cats and where they choose to sleep and frolic.  Oh, and they are all 3 the greatest lizard wranglers of all time!  Currently they are chasing squirrels. (literally)


That tongue hanging out slays me!

 three cats in a row
they tolerate the little guy sometimes.

Our kids and grand kids all seem to be doing really well.  God knows how grateful I am on that topic.  Once again, we are so grateful for all of the blessings.
Remember this guy and his crazy February a few years ago?

He is a completely normal amazing 11 year old now!  Miracles happen, y'all!
 Jenn also wears one of those super power capes.  As well, Victor! Miraculous, indeed.  Christian is in middle school! What??

(obviously Christmas time photo)

 Cade is a middle schooler. 
snagged this selfie off of his FB or IG or something. 

And Austin is in high school.
Austin does not post many photos.  Hard to find them of him. This one is almost a year old!

 So hard to believe I have grandchildren those ages already!  However, Tessa Jane has just hit a year and a half, and is as precious as any little girl ever!  Jon & Melissa are as busy as ever.  I am so totally in love with them all.  Children and grandchildren are such joys in our life.  Lovely!
And, an amazing threesome photo of many moods! Lol!

 Also, winter time photo. So funny!
Heart melts.  All four grandchildren have my heart around their pinkies. 

Dad & Mom with Tessa in the snow.  So sweet!

And Nurse Nina is fabulously involved in nursing and school once again.  She's the busiest person I know right now.  Working 2 jobs, going to school, traveling at every possible chance and living life.  She's up on the current event stuff, entertainment issues, community happenings.  I am exhausted just writing about it.  The coolest part is, since all of the kids live so far away, we get to have one here, who can visit on a regular schedule to keep us old folks up to date on the new(ish) things of the universe.  I'm sure she always leaves shaking her head wondering how we didn't know all that stuff, and we wave good bye to her thinking, "Holy cow!  HOW did we miss all that?"  Wish I could go back and tell my parents I get it now!  Thanks, Nina! xoxo

 Because I get asked, I will briefly go in to, yes, thank you.  I am feeling better.  I am still searching for some answers, but all-in-all, things have improved.  And I have found a wonderful healing doctor, who previously was a wonderful tap dancer/teacher.  Dr. Dana O'Keefe will be the one who gets me back in working order with her guidance and healing brilliance.  But having said that, I will also give credit to the other docs who have come before her to keep me off of the "cutting room" floor.  I can testify to living with autoimmune diseases (yes, more than 1), and surviving it.  But for those of you who think "that gluten thing" is a fad diet, I hope you never find you are allergic to it, because it is real.  I am currently undertaking the "Whole 30" life style and the improvements in my life are by leaps and bounds.  But this stuff isn't for Sissies!  Ugh.  Anyway, poise and grace, that's my hope!
My biggest accomplishment as far as my personal creative goals are concerned?
I FINISHED THIS PIECE!!!!  And I love it!  EEEkkkkkk!
( I kept it! and Paul hung it for me as a surprise --)
This is hundreds of hours of cutting, planning and gluing glass.  With all of the other things that happen in our lives, this is an entire year long project.  I am so thrilled to finish and move on to the next big piece.  Which is a desk.  Yes, I am mosaicing a desk.  Stay tuned!
One day I will figure out how to photograph glass better.  It is tricky ... glare every single angle! And I am not a very good photoshopper.  So I try to get it from the camera to the finished image.  Whatever. (lol)

So, there you are.  All caught up.  Thanks for stopping by.
I so hope spring has sprung (or there is at least hope for springing soon) where ever you are!
Blessings to each and every one of you.