Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up...

Where to start…

Cayuga Creek - Williamsville, New York
I was ambitious last January and signed up for both real estate classes and the Hello Soul Hello Business online course. I did pretty well keeping up with both at first, but I just could not keep up the level of attention needed in the Hello Soul Hello Business course. I am so happy that a small group of us will be repeating the course again in 2013. After quite a few court dates my divorce was finalized. I hit my 6 year of cancer survivorship. I participated in my first Balboa Island Art Walk, finished three Real Estate courses and passed my CA Real Estate test. I now have my salesperson license. I entered the dating world, that could be another blog in and of itself! I have been going country line dancing and learning the two step… I love it. My work was published in the OC Register. I collected my 6th strand of pink beads at the Komen Race for the Cure. I joined the group Women Helping One Another and I have met an amazing group of creative women. I completed 20 hours of continuing education credits for the renewal of my California Interior Designer Certification. I went to my first Medium… so interesting. I have met so many new people and many have become good friends already. I have reconnected with some old friends that either I lost touch with or we drifted apart. My tumor markers are still normal… a big cheer for that news. My son has adjusted to middle school fairly well.

The biggest and probably the most positive experience of the year has been finding and meeting Nina’s Birth Mother. Nina and I had a wonderful trip back East in October. I was so happy to be back for the Autumn colors and a chance to meet up with some friends. Eat the great Buffalo food that I miss and visit Williamsville and our old home there.

Our former home circa 1900...

So many people expressed how nervous they were for both of us. There are so many bad stories of children meeting their Birth Parents. I was nervous about finding her Birth Mother until I read that she had never forgotten about her and had been searching for a few years to find Nina. Literally at that moment all my fear subsided and it was just pure excitement.

The Honorable Judge Mattina and our Attorney Joe Matteliano
The day we went to court to sign the adoption papers and take an oath before Judge Mattina, he told us that Nina’s Birth Mother was a beautiful sweet girl. He was so right. Melanie is a beautiful sweet woman now. She made a difficult, self-sacrificing decision to place her baby for adoption… I am so thankful she chose us. I will leave you with the first meeting of Birth Mother and Birth Daughter after 19 years… Enjoy and bring on 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I HeArt Fridays!

This is a special heart that I received in a note from Nina's Birth Mother. We share such a bond and as we get to know each other it is amazing just how many similarities we have with each other.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas...

 I saw this in a shop window. Guess where? Yes, you guess it... my favorite Island...Balboa!

Friday, December 21, 2012

I HeArt Fridays...

I was on my way to my work Holiday party and I saw this on the stairs in the parking structure. So bright and cheerful!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

After the Rains...

I love the day or so after the rains in Southern California. We get these amazing views of the snow-capped mountains. 

The smog had already set in but you can see Los Angeles in the distance below...

 I took this shot in a reflective surface enclosing some equipment...I thought it was kind of creative! 

I have a long drive, but I see Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm everyday!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I HeArt Fridays...

You never know what you will find when you clean the crumb tray in your toaster!

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Connection...

Do you know that feeling when you meet someone or see their work and you immediately connect with them? That is the feeling that I had when I first saw the work of Belinda Fireman. Jenny Doh had posted here about Belinda. I saw her work, her use of color and I felt it was so similar to my use of color. When I read her bio there was another connection… she grew up in Toronto and I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY. Literally right across the US/Canadian border from each other. Could this be one of the reasons we both like color? Who knows? I started following her on Instagram.  I noticed her bags packed for California. She was coming to Southern California, to Studio Crescendoh. She was so close; I just could not pass up this opportunity to meet her.
My daughter and I went to Studio Crescendoh a few Saturdays ago for the Santa Ana Artwalk. When we walked into the studio, even my Nina said “Mom is that one of your hearts?” Both Jenny Doh and Belinda were so gracious to us. Nina purchased a great journal, Jenny signed it, Belinda painted inside of it. I had to purchase one of Belinda’s paintings. I loved them all, but I was drawn to this one in particular:

Nina loved a smaller piece that said “Dream Big”.
Belinda had heard Nina and I talking about all of her pieces and the one we liked best. 

 After I made my purchase and she took it off of the wall, she asked Nina if she wanted the Dream Big piece? Nina politely said “I am on a budget, but I will save up and look on your Etsy site.” Nina barely finished her sentence and Belinda turned around and walked away. We both stood there wondering what was happening. Belinda walked over to the piece, took it off of the wall and gave it to Nina. “I want you to have this.” What a kind and generous act, it brought Nina to tears.

When your kids have gone through heartache and tough times, there is no better way to try and tell your children that there are good people in the world than to experience it firsthand. Thank you Belinda for showing Nina and reminding me, that there are good, kind people in the world. We LOVE Belinda Fireman!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I HeArt Fridays...

I found this Teenie Tiny heart on my desk today... I needed this little bit of love. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Creative Teachers...

One of my jobs is for the California Alliance for Arts Education as the local advocate in the Newport Mesa School District. The Local Advocacy Network is a statewide network of local coalitions working to advance arts education in public schools. I am lucky to be the advocate in this District as the Arts are well supported. You never know what will happen when you get a bunch of creative individuals together...

I don't remember my teachers creating something like this... but I will blame that on Technology!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I HeArt Fridays!

This is from Ikea... That store is just the most fun for reasonably priced goodies...

The kids make fun of me that I am always finding new spots/drips on our beige carpet... tonight I found another one... but I guess I really can't complain too much considering it is in the shape of a heart!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

For Holland...

My Boss had a baby in September. She wanted to steer away from the traditional/stereotypical baby pink for girls. Holland's room has mainly green and orange. This was my gift, it is my painting so I had to add a bit of pink... but MB pink... not baby pink! Welcome to the world Holland... may you grow and blossom in good health.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I HeArt Fridays..A Grateful Heart

I decided to wait until today to write about my Thanksgiving this year.
I am grateful to have 4 days off and grateful that I would have Dante with Nina and me again this year.
Each weekend Dante’s Life Skills teacher has the kids ask their parents a question. This question this weekend was what 5 things are your Parents grateful for?
My answers were:
1.            Our family’s health
2.            My job
3.            A roof over our heads
4.            Food to eat
5.            My children

Shortly after writing this list I read on Facebook that another Motherswithcancer contributor Nicole Stagner McMaster had just passed away, another young Mom with 2 young children. Damn I hate cancer. Another friend is in a rehab facility for four months after having a freak reaction to the flu shot. Yes, good health is at the top of my list. Wednesday night was spent baking… each child’s favorite pie:

Pecan for Nina

Apple Crumb for Dante

While I baked, they played PlayStation. It filled my heart to hear them laughing and enjoying being together, of course the “Mom it smells amazing in here” was good to hear also.

I started Thanksgiving morning by accompanying Dante to complete some community service hours for school. KarmaCamp organized a group to serve food to the homeless near a local park. Two of Dante’s teachers, (Life Skills and Algebra) were there to work with the kids. This was such a great way to start the day and a great way to put things into perspective if you are not feeling grateful about your life. Dante said it made him sad. 

 I was thankful that I could prepare all this food in my little galley kitchen with 1 oven rack and my boy scout burner stove top! 

The remaining day was quiet and relaxed. Nina’s friend came to dinner as her parents were out of town. I have always loved that the kid’s friends feel comfortable at our home. Vanessa has always loved my cooking. 

After dinner, we played Apples to Apples then Dante was back on the computer and the girls watched a scary movie. I hung out on the couch and enjoyed that everyone was filled and happy. 

 I read this quote and I think it really sums up where I am right now:

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Very Special I HeArt Fridays!

Today I want to share some very special hearts. These hearts are made by Nina and her Birth Family on our visit back East to meet everyone. I will write a longer post at a later date, but for now enjoy Nina and her Birth Mother and Siblings creating hearts....

 Nina and her full biological Brother - Christopher who is is crazy that Dante, Nina's Adoptive Brother is also 12!

 Nina and her Birth Mother, Melanie and her half twin Siblings, Casey and Alyssa who are almost 7.

Casey enjoying creating hearts for his half Mom...The twins asked what they should call me, Melanie said since Nina is their half Sister... I am their half Mom!

Casey and Alyssa peeking through their hearts.

This was the first of the pictures of Melanie with all of her children by her side after 19 years.
The whole experience was very special, yet surreal at the same time. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

I HeArt Fridays...

Last night Nina and I took a workshop at Art & Creativity for Healing, Painting from the Heart. Today I will share the last two pieces I painted:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

To truly love you can not guard your heart from all hurt, I painted a loose "cage" to protect my heart.

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
Proverbs 12:25

The black and red represent the anxious heart being weighted down and the bright yellow is the kind words cheering him up.

Have a great, creative weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I HeArt Fridays!

A heArt from my window at work!  I love to look up from my computer and see a reminder of love in the world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Excitement Builds...

We are few days away from "the" meeting. The meeting of Birth Mother and Birth Daughter. The reuniting of this beautiful girl with her Birth Family. I created this piece for Nina on her Birthday a few years ago. I still feel the same way and I always will. She was the answer to so many of my prayers. I am happy that she will be reunited with the woman who gave birth to her. I truly believe that children are a gift from God. He chose Melanie to bring her into this world. He chose us to raise her. We can share her now.  Nina has always thought about Melanie every year on Melanie's Birthday. Nina will be her Birthday present this year! I will be taking even more pictures than I normally do. Some through tears of joy and much gratitude. I will share the story soon!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Angels Among Us...

A few weeks ago, after I posted about finding Nina’s Birth Mother I received a pink envelope in the mail. This friend had purchased some artwork from me in the past. I opened the envelope and saw a check. The only thing that I could think of was that she had wanted to purchase more artwork. I got excited wondering which piece she had decided to purchase… and then I read the note:

Dear Mary Beth,
This is something that I want to give you to help out. You have been through so much and my heart goes out to you. I was so happy to hear of the contact that you have had with Nina’s Birth Mother. If you think that this would be good to put toward your flights, please do so. You have been such a great Mom to those beautiful children! May God bless you all today and always! Love.

I started to cry. In fact, I still cry every time I think of this person’s generosity. There truly are Angels among us.
Nina and her Birth Mother are getting so excited to meet each other. Nina will be there for Melanie’s Birthday. It will be a hard present to top! I will be taking plenty of pictures through my tears of joy. A big THANK YOU to my Angel… you have no idea how special you have made me feel.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I HeArt Fridays!

My son has decided to spend a more time with his Dad recently. We were together on Sunday and we spotted these in the Target parking lot. 

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Making Strides

September 23 was the Orange County Race for the Cure

I proudly put on my pink survivor t-shirt and proceeded to the Survivors tent to collect my 6 stands of pink beads. These inexpensive pink beads carry so much significance to me. Another year.  So many women do not get the chance to add an additional strand of beads this year. Each survivor receives a rose and then we walk together to the steps of the Pacific Life Building. 

It is such an emotional moment to see and hear so many people there to help the cause. To support all of us, to cheer for us and to congratulate us. Strangers, happy that we are alive. 

I find I am energized after the Survivor Tribute.

This year after the tribute, I walked to the OC Register booth to pick up a copy of the Special Section for the Race for the Cure published on September 16, 2012. 

Two of my collages were published this year. You can read the article "The Color of Passion" online here

You will also find fine art prints of Mothers with Cancer here…. 

And Sisters in Survival here… 

I have also recently listed some of my greeting cards on Etsy and you can find them here and here...…


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