Dealing with stuff…..

Stuff is everywhere.

When it’s not the physical kind, it can creep up at any moment.

The past couple weeks it’s been both. And mostly, one right after the next.

You see this passage that most are going thru…..was robbed from me. (Impending graduation) And now I gotta deal with the stuff.

And what do you do with the stuff??

Well. I haven’t.

Today I am going to try.

A garage full of totes. Filled with stuff. The girls haphazardly put the stuff in totes a couple years ago. Damn. Has it really been that long??

First coffee.

Wish me luck.



When you can’t explain your feelings….

Alexithymia….that has been me. Difficulty in experiencing, expressing, and describing emotional responses. Yep. All three.

The past week has been a struggle. Hell, the past three years has been a struggle. But for some reason, I have been struggling with anger, sadness, and just plain feeling lost.

We had a battle on our hands for the past month trying to fight a solar panel “farm” from going around our property. I know many don’t get what the BIG deal is….but for some crazy reason this house that we have a love/hate relationship with, felt threatened to be destroyed. You see, our house was built in 1882. It’s old. The basement is literally falling apart. We completely remodeled the entire house (besides the basement) when we bought it back in 2001. It’s small. The wind rips through it often. You either freeze or sweat…no happy medium. And there have been ants. And mice. And frozen pipes. Shit the list really goes on and on.

But here’s the thing…..we raised our girls here.

And Zayla died here.

But she also laughed here. And ran around. And played. And swam. And giggled.

And those are the things I just can’t seem to let my heart go on this DAMN house. The views here are AMAZING!!! We live on a slight hill…..and the peacefulness on a calm day, or a starry night, just can’t be expressed or described appropriately. Alexithymia.

Thankfully, we WON the county board’s vote, and the solar panel farm was voted down. But reliving and hashing out my feelings about this house has left me with so many emotions that I just can’t put into words.

Funny, the other night Jason made some amazing scallops on the grill (Zayla’s favorite). And they were delicious. And as we were starting to eat them, and listening to music, the song changed to Wish You Were Here.


I. Hate. The. Holidays.

Well, really I don’t. I actually feel that there was so much joy during the Holidays, that is why they hurt so much now. Seems crazy? Right?

That’s grief.

Sometimes I feel I am surrounded by death. But it doesn’t affect me. Not like hers. Her death was the death of all deaths. Or so my crazy mind tells me.

I feel empathy for others in their times of immediate loss. Sometime’s it is so strong….I can feel it almost physically hurting me.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

That is a daily mantra. And always trying to keep my shit together. So exhausting.

Several recent losses for others…..and with the Holidays, it just makes it a little more painful. Please, please, please remember that others sometimes can’t find the JOY this time of year. Embrace that. Love a little more. We are all going through our own stuff.

And so I create. And paint. Getting my fingers dirty. Always cobbling as my dear husband says.

I am going to have an Open Barn December 15th from 1-3pm at our barn. I will be trying to sell the remainder of items I have made. Trees, signs, wreaths, smaller barn quilts. And am shooting to have all special orders completed at that time so as to have for pick up. With the orders I have received so far today, I am looking to surpass my $2000 goal!! Thank you!!!




It’s been a while…..

It’s been a while….

Haven’t really been able to put thoughts into words. At least ones that I can type and express.

It’s been two years. (Yes, little over)

Not a day goes by when I don’t ache to see you. Hear you. Long for that sweet giggle. Or the daily argument with your sister.

It almost feels like I live in a parallel universe. The one with you in it. And now the one without. And the two blend, and overlap.

But the thing is…..Life feels suspended. Yes, we do our everyday routines. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

But there is always that hole. That missing puzzle piece.

And it’s irritating.

And lonely.

How do you live with a piece of your heart gone?

In a forever haze I guess.

Jason and I, we think of all the things we want to do and see….things that you would have enjoyed. And we go. And try to experience as much as possible–because we don’t know when our last day on this earth will be. No one does.

Back in the fall 2016, we went to San Francisco as a “less than whole” family. We put the Z stickers on every thing we could. “Leave her mark” on the things she would have loved to have experienced. We have continued this over the last 2 years. This week, I had someone I barely know, comment to me that she “found” a Zayla sticker when they were on vacation.

It caught my breath. And just for that moment, I knew. She is with us. All the time. And she is loving the stickers being placed all over, with her in mind.

Currently we have quite a few stickers, but I was thinking of ordering more. If any one would like some for their next adventure to show Z, let me know. Donation of $1 per sticker would be appreciated.

Tonight, I get to speak about childhood cancer research at a benefit for the Team Make a Difference fundraiser. TMAD is a non profit that does room makeovers for those battling various diseases/illnesses. What better way to heal, then in your own sanctuary? Preparing my speech has made me think about what I need to share.

Last time I looked at the American Cancer Society’s 990 Tax Forms was back in 2014. Well, unfortunately not much has changed. It’s shocking to me that anyone would want to donate money to this organization. The numbers are ridiculous. Cancer IS BIG BUSINESS. And that makes me sad. I see at least one patient every week being newly diagnosed with cancer. That is insanity. When will people wake up and stop donating money to organizations that are not fiscally responsible???

Not sure how much my blogging makes a difference, but I must share. Here it goes:


Revenue (your donations) $813,199,479


Salaries. $455,280,085.55.9%

Fund raising fees. $170,957,35121%

Research grants $102, 873,77912.6%

Patient support, and

prevention programs $ 82,946,34710.4%

And once again, the Organization’s Mission statement on their tax form states: To save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.

When over half of your revenue goes to salaries? Sounds like BIG business to me. Wake up America! Stop funding the wealthiest “non profit” in the world.

And this is why we do NOT Relay for Life. Don’t ask us to. EVER.

Want more information? Check out this link:

Here are some great organizations that DO fiscally raise money for research. IF research is your goal.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Colorectal Cancer Alliance

Breast cancer research foundation

Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation

Obviously there are more organizations, but these are the ones that STAND out, and do a very good job supporting research without spending TONS of money on salaries and advertising.

Enjoy your day…….


We are all alike. And yet so different—

We are all alike. And yet so different. 

In my recent travels with hubby—I fully understood this. 

Driving down the coast of So Cal, you see it. Sometimes moments of judgement sprinkled with understanding and genuine caring. 

Without knowing your story. Or even caring for that matter. 
But that is how we should treat all humans. Equally. And with kindness and non judgement. 

Each stop along our way— I tried to leave a bit of Zs mark. Some subtle. Others—in your face.  When we traveled to NOLA after Z passed, I started leaving stickers when able—to leave her mark. It was like she was with—and yet, she is always with us. 

So to those who may be reading this after seeing a Team Zayla sticker—stick around. My rantings of childhood cancer and subsequent loss can maybe inspire. That’s my hope. That it is not all for nought. 

Live life everyday. Never hesitate to do something out of fear. 

Miss you baby girl. All. The. Damn. Time. 

The damn fish died. 

The damn fish died.  

And it was actually weeks ago.  but I am so often consumed with my own daily survival. I didn’t notice.  

And the significance of this?  The damn fair goldfish was obtained by Zayla just weeks after her surgery for her new brain cancer diagnosis.  The damn fish LIVED longer than my poor girl did with the tumor.  And I cried.  Because it is ALL so unfair. 

Just ugh. 

In one week we will be entering September, and Childhood cancer awareness month.  

Next Saturday we will be hosting the 2nd Annual Bean Bags Tournament in Memory of Ms Zayla.  All donations and proceeds will be put into the Zayla Mitsdarffer Culinary Scholarship for a Herscher High School student.  This past year, we were able to donate $2500 to a student.  This is something that Zayla would be very proud of.  Making a difference.  Please join us…..if you don’t want to play, come out and enjoy the day, donate if you can, and share in the wonderful memories of our sweet girl.  

On a different note…..

I wanted to share my thoughts on what September and Childhood Cancer Awareness/Action means.  Just this past week, I had a friend reach out and ask about a NFP, and if they were “good” (I love that people are asking/thinking, thank you Brett).  We all have the capabilities to look any NFP up on their website and see their IRS tax forms.  Yes, it can be time consuming.  And there are other websites that actually do the work for you….like  Here’s the thing….many companies “appear” to be non for profit, and donate a set % of their profits to charitable organizations.  But that does not make them a NFP.  

Here’s the thing. If you are buying something under the impression that they are giving money to a charitable organization…..and your sole purpose of buying said item is for what they are supporting….PLEASE think twice about this. Unless you truly wanted said item, and were going to buy it anyways, the marketing of selling things to give a % of proceeds to a charitable organization is BULLSHIT.   People that can be so excited about a product because it gives them a warm, fuzzy feel good moment that part of their money is going to XY or Z charitable organization.  Great marketing.  Poor taste.  Really, it just reminds me of American Cancer Society using the faces of children battling cancer to get people to donate money….then only give kids 1%.  COMPANIES should NOT BE making a profit by using the faces of cancer children.  PERIOD. Has some GREAT Tshirts….AND ALL the proceeds benefits childhood cancer and research.  Not 10%.  Not 20%.  All  Is American Childhood cancer organization.  They have some awareness items such as car magnets, stickers, gold ribbon pins, gold nail polish etc…. ALL proceeds go to help children with cancer and to support research.  

Maybe I shouldn’t be irritated by this. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut, and be happy that any company would like to advertise childhood cancer awareness AND give % of their profits.  Am I asking too much?  Well… daughter DIED.  And maybe, just maybe if people donated money to places that actually can make a difference, maybe someone else’s child won’t die.


I want more.  Because I will forever be living with less.  

Miss you baby girl.  Every hour.  Every damn day.  

I cried today….

I cried today……And not just my normal cry.  

It was the ugly cry.  

Which may seem weird…..I mean, how can something so simple as seeing the headstone spray paint markings of my daughter’s grave practically bring me to my knees??? 

It only took me over a year to finally order the headstone.  

It just seems so final.  

But then, again.  It is so final.  

This hollow feeling in my heart has not improved over the last 16 months.  In fact, at times I feel like it is weighted down with memories that my soul would love to return to.  

Damn I miss that kid.  


Internally screaming…..all the damn time. 

Internally screaming…..all the damn time.  

That pretty much sums life up.  Everything is now measured by when you were alive, and when you weren’t.  A before and after of sorts.  

Today I am wearing one of your scarves. At times I catch the color in my peripheral and can almost imagine a hug.  Almost.


Last night the week caught up to me.  The emotions.  It’s an odd place to be…..on the verge of losing your sanity between devastation and anger.  You can feel that edge so damn close.  I can see how people do take a break.  Just check out.  Is that weakness?? Or just a mechanism to not self implode?!?!? 

So I paint.  And self medicate with some wine.  Just chill.  Trying to preserve my sanity.  

But I think that is life.  We are all just surfing along the edge of it.  It’s just about time and who gets more.  (Thanks Kathy) That is all.  Ever. 

So do something with the time you have.  

I will.  Always for you Z.  

Go live as much as you humanly can.  All the damn time.  Living it.  

Miss you baby girl…..

Not tidy.  Not wrapped with a tiny little bow.  

And so I write…

Today was such a roller coaster of emotions.  

I didn’t shop for Christmas until today.  I just couldn’t.  Everything about it makes me cry.  Makes me angry.  And just fucki== hurts.  

This morning I had to help the Middle get tires on her car.  So I basically kidnapped her for the next three hours as she waited for them to be done.  And we shopped.  Briskly.  

thing is….when you are out and about amongst the chaos of Christmas, because let’s face it…that’s what it is.  Chaos.  You kinda get the energy of it all…..until you look at something to buy and realize you are only buying for two children now.  That honestly is a really shitty part.  The constant reminder that there are now two.  

So as I sit here tonight….debating if I can even wrap these said gifts that I bought.  Sipping the new wine that came today, I just take what I can.  Unwrapped gifts.  Seems fitting actually… kidding, Z would wrap about 80% of the gifts I bought for the past couple years.  I’m just not wrapping them.  So there.  

Life is chaos.  But most the time we bring that shit on ourselves.  

Today three of Zayla’s good friends brought up a car full of toys to Comer’s Children Hospital….her hospital.  She would be pleased.  

“I bring Comer Cheer….for our friend Zayla who loved giving gifts to all the children.  We wanted to continue her tradition!”

And as I tried to navigate this eve before Christmas eve….I was able to get through the day with the love and support from so many.  The Kankakee County Correctional Officers Association chose Team Zayla Foundation to receive one of their donations…..$500! We are so thankful to receive all the support…..we are just trying to make a difference.  In memory of our Z.  Thanks Rich Ball for all you do….it was great to chat with you on topics that mean so much to me and our family.  Childhood cancer robs many families of years with their loved ones.  I know way too many children who have died from cancer.  It changes who you are.  forever.  

I ended up making 118 signs to presale orders.  It was so therapeutic for me to have this to focus on.  Because honestly, the more I can keep busy, the less time for my mind to keep running.  I will be making signs again come next Fall….was a great way to keep me focused and raise money for a great cause.  

This year, St Jude’s Children Hospital is the recipient for all the money raised.  I don’t have an exact total just yet….but I know it is well over $2500 that the signs raised, plus the Mary Gierke family donated over $1400 to our cause as well….Mary just recently passed away from colon cancer. I can’t put into words how touched I am to have others reach out and want to know how to help children with cancer.  

Motivates me to keep going.  She may be gone from this earth….but she will continue to make an impact.  I promise.  


The Hawk

Life after this… everything we want it to be. 
At least we can tell ourselves that. 

Seen the hawk today. 

Miss you baby girl. 💔

You know that feeling of taking care of a toddler or infant? They have constant needs. So a good majority of your time is caring for them. Nurturing. Making sure they are safe. I spent almost fifteen years caring for another human. Daily needs and concerns. The sole decision makers for another persons life. Yeah. That’s cancer parents to a child. 

That has ended. Abruptly. Never to have back. 
And so I am lonely. 
My daily musings. A kind of therapy I guess.