Thursday, May 21, 2015

I had so many plans...and then...

Last night I spoke publicly for the first time about the last three months of Courtney's life. It was a tough thing, but I survived it and I think that it may have actually helped some other parents facing a similar future. There were tears and laughter and maybe even a moment where snot was dripping down my nose and I had to have an emergency Kleenex intervention. 

There may have been a moment where I was speaking about how I lost the desire to even make dinner during those last three months, thereby asking the question "Who needs dinner anyway?". My husband may, or may not, have raised his hand at that moment saying, "But I like dinner" causing a chuckle or twelve thousand. That man and his stomach. Oy Vey! 

I can neither confirm nor deny that this took place. You had to be there.  

I know that there will be many more opportunities to speak about Miss Courtney and her life but I am just so happy to have gotten through the first one in one piece. 

I know I promised to have a What I Wore post as well and a {pretty, happy, funny, real} post but I am just plain wore out. it has been a big week for me and my brain, she is very, very tired. We have a big weekend ahead of us. Memorial Day is special this year, as Miss Courtney's grave will be blessed on Monday. 

There is still much to do inside our home to make our way through all the clutter that has accumulated over the the last six months. Depression and grief are not pretty when they create a unhealthy physical and emotional environment that must be addressed. 

We will be clearing our minds, hearts and living room over the next few days. There might be a few others things planned as well, but you will have keep track on my gram feed to see what's happenin. 

I will see y'all next week here in this space. For now, stay safe and be kind to one another. On this Memorial Day weekend, remember those who have given their lives in service to this great country of ours. May God Bless them and those they left behind. 

God is GOOD all the time. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

tasty tuesday ~ BLT Pasta Salad...

It has been months, many, many months, since I have shared a Tasty Tuesday recipe. I haven't spent much time in the kitchen in the last year but then that's just life I suppose. My time was not wasted holding and loving on my Courtney before she made her way home to Heaven. I do not regret one frozen meal, not one, that allowed me more time with my Sunshine. 

Today's recipe is a keeper for certain and for sure. It has pasta, my sons favorite, and BACON, my hubby's favorite. Therefore, it's a win win for me. 

The key here is properly drained pasta and lots of bacon. So very good my friends. 

Celebrate the Feast!

BLT Pasta Salad
This recipe was very slightly adapted from Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen

1 pound box pasta (I used elbow macaroni In this dish)
1½ cup real mayonnaise
¾ cup greek yogurt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1½ tsp celery salt
1½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp dry dill
black pepper to taste
one bunch green onion, thinly sliced
one pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cup loosely packed thinly sliced green leaf lettuce
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

Cook the elbow macaroni in salted water per the package instructions. Drain well. This is very important. I use my salad spinner to help me with this. If you don't get all the water out, your salad becomes very soggy. Soggy is not yummy.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, celery salt, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dill and black pepper to taste.

Add the drained macaroni, sliced green onion and diced tomatoes. Mix until evenly distributed then cover and chill.

Just before serving, mix in the sliced green leaf lettuce and crumbled bacon. 

Store chilled

Monday, May 18, 2015

grateful on a monday in may...

First, thank you for your sweet words and kind encouragement after my brain dump this weekend. I know that its only been 4.5 months since my girl went to heaven and this healing thing takes time...lots and lots of time. I am just at the beginning. Thank you for your patience, especially in this space. I feel a bit bi-polar at times with the high and low pitches of my life these days, but you guys stay with me and for that I am so very thankful. 

Second, it's time to get back on the gratitude train. It has been eight months since I have done a post listing my blessings. Way too long for this practice to be pushed onto the sidelines.It helps me get out of my head and believe me, this is a good thing. It's scary inside my head. Very, very scary.

In my cup::
a raspberry yogurt smoothie. I have two little four year-old helpers today so we started the day with a little raspberry love. Next up caffeine for me. LOTS of caffeine. It is Monday after all. 

Sitting in::
A chair in the living room. The girls I watch two days a week are in the midst of a Barbie fashion show, playing with magnets AND giving Anna and Elsa some center stage time. "Let it Go" is sung at least three times a day when they come. I don't mind at all (she says as her eye twitches).

Listening to the sounds of::
Two four year old girls with active imaginations. They come up with some of the BEST lines when playing. 

The sun is::
Shining and it is going to be quite warm today. I see some outside time and maybe even a little water play if the humidity gives us a break.

Courtney is currently::
In heaven!! I guess I will have to come up with another category to replace this one. What do you guys think? What should go here now?? Tell me in the comments. 

Something beautiful::
Y'all know how much I lurve fresh flowers. I am happy just looking at them in the grocery store, let alone in a vase in my home. These tulips were at Whole Foods the other day and they made me swoon. Seriously y'all, look at those deep colors. I do love me a blast of hot pink.

Something Stylish:
I will play catch up with What I Wore this Wednesday. I am trying to remember to take a photo of my outfits as we o along. Some days are better than others. Today I am wearing yoga pants and a loose knit top. It's my Monday uniform.

What's on my mind::
Oh so many things. I have been praying about and pondering this space, it's purpose, my life and it's purpose.I have been thinking about deep things, preparing to make some hard choices for the betterment of my family. All while navigating this grief journey. Not easy but necessary.

What I am praying for:
+ for my sweet friend who is undergoing some serious persecution and alienation due to her beiliefs. I pray God stands with her and she feels His strength. 

+ for my sister who is a teacher. That she knows her kids (students) would not be who they are without her tutalege. She is a treasure of an instructor. 

for my son and my husband who are both in the midst of transitions and change. They are not big fans of either. Really NOT big fans. 

+ for all the Mama's of special ones I know and love so much. For strength, wisdom, perseverance and understanding in the vocations of motherhood. You are never alone. 

+ for the church. It is filled with brokenness and broken people. For God's mercy and guidance.

Adventuring in the kitchen::
I made some seriously delish side dishes for a BBQ this weekend. The first one was my Grandmother Stuecken's Potato Salad. Here is a photo to make you jealous:

The recipe is quite simple. Scrub five pounds of potatoes (skin on) and place in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. In a separate pot, boil four eggs. While the pots are going, finely chop one large onion. Once the eggs are hardboiled, chop them and place into the bowl with the onions. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them and allow them to cool. Then you take the potatoes and simply scrape the skin off, chop them into one inch pieces and place them into the bowl with the eggs and onions. You add 1.5 cups of mayo, 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard and salt and pepper to taste. You can add more mayo or mustard given your families individual tastes. That's it. It is simple and very tasty. When I make it, it doesn't take long for my guys to run through it. 

The second one is a BLT Pasta Salad. I will post that one tomorrow. 

Sewing with my Bernina:: 
I am busy making some baby and toddler dresses, followed by a table cloth for a sweet friend. Then it will be time to make some quilts I think. I promise more photos as I make my way through the "to sew" pile.  

This week will bring::

I am part of a panel discussion on end of life issues, this Wednesday at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Damascus, MD. If you are able to make it, I would love to see you there. It's not too late to register. There is no charge. 

I am also continuing the thank you note writing marathon and we have dinner plans tomorrow night with sweet friends. 

:: giving thanks for
#2219 ~ #2249
* for two sweet four year old girls who make my week one filled with wonder and laughter once more. 
* for blogging friends that I get to meet in real life. I am forever changed by knowing you IRL.
* for frozen popsicles on a hot and humid day
* for Barbie Dolls and quick dress changes.
* for glittery butterfly wings and tutu's. They make my world magical again. 
* for cold sweet tea and a slice of lemon
* fresh strawberry pie
* sweet friends whose door is always open, no matter what.
* cartoons on an early Monday morning, allowing me to ease into the week with littles.
* peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches
* play-doh and sprinklers
* extra changes of clothes for pre-schoolers who don't quite make it to the potty.
* for you beautiful people, who made sure Miss Courtney would have a headstone. It will be beautiful.
*  my mother who has stood by my side from the beginning. He love and devotion are such a gift to me and my family.
* for my book to finally be published. I know I only wrote a chapter, but to see those words in print is pretty special.
* for my Youth Ministry kids. You challenge me and change me every single week. I am blessed to know you and walk this journey of faith with you. 
* grilled cheese and tomato soup
* hot dogs hot off the grill, lovingly surrounded by ketchup, mustard and pickle relish.
* story time at the library with 40 four year olds - memories made!
* girls in dress up clothes dancing to Disney soundtracks
* a medium-rare steak and loaded baked potato washed down with a mojito - spoiled for sure.
* a tablespoon of peanut butter dipped in mini chocolate chips.
* meeting with my fellow CWBN bloggers, getting to know these beautiful, brilliant women who share their faith and their souls online and in real life
* a full tank of gas and nothing on the schedule
* a season finale to your favorite TV show that makes you really wish fall was already here. 
* a new clothes line
* the first set of freshly washed sheets hung on said line
* a library bag full of books ready to keep me company all weekend
* a loaded Ipod ready for your own personal dance party
* coffee, hot and fresh each morning
* friends who love me thorough the good and the bad

What’s in your cup? 
What’s sweetening your life? How can I pray for you?
Tell me all about it, I’d love to hear and join in the conversation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

riding the wave...

September 2014

It's been some time since I just wrote and emptied my heart...without proper punctuation...or editing...or watching my strap in friends here we go...last night I spent the evening with my Mom, my BFF Suzanne, from grade school/high school, her mother and many other women I grew up with...I returned home to Rockville, MD for the annual Sodality dinner at the Shrine of St. Jude where I went to grade school...spent my hugh school years and college, as well as baptized my was surreal being back in that sanctuary where it all began 23 years ago...where my daughter seized and we rushed her to the hospital after her baptism...It was harder than I expected it to be...that mix of joy and sorrow washing over me throughout the Mass...I walked the halls where I spent eight years walking the third tile over...I prayed at the tabernacle where I begged God for my Mother's life in high school and my Father's life later with my daughter's life in between...the crucifix was the same...the statue of St. Jude...the friends laughter the same...but it was so different...I was at war with myself holding fast to that inner control paddle willing myself not to go I have attended the pinning of a beautiful young woman who is now a nurse...Miss Hannah earned her BSN this weekend and it was a joy to see her dreams come true...I have known her since childhood and have watched her bloom and grow...not unlike edelweiss...get it...anyhoo I watched as tears streamed down my face thinking of my sweet Courtney and wondering what she would have chosen to do if life had gone a different way...Miss Hannah has invoked my sweet saint many times in these last 4.5 months so to see her finally walk that stage and be pinned by her parents, just made me so happy I cried all the way home and battled a migraine of emotion for the next two hours ending in meds and a nap...thank goodness it worked, hence my ability to type these words...I am confused quite often these days by how my grief shows up...without asking me if I want to carry that heavy burden or just barges it's way into my heart and my head and takes over...I cling for dear life and wonder if I will see the light again...sometimes it slays me today...and sometimes I find myself just sitting and staring at the pictures on the wall, crying and calling out to God to just make it stop...the sheer veracity of these deeply held feelings overwhelm and incapacitate me...without warning...and it's damn rude...I know my Courtney is free...I cling to that truth every moment of everyday...but damn it's hard to live each day without her here to care listen to that hold her close and love watch her brother and her Papa do the same...I want her NOW...I want her back in my our home making our family complete...this empty arms, grieving heart id for the birds...I don't like it...I don't want it...make it go away...just bring her back...I want her back...but I know that will never be...and I hate it...and I am glad for it...for her to be happy and with her Beloved Lord...that makes me's the physical tearing away from me that I cannot wrap my heart around tonight...It doesn't make sense...this happiness and the heart wrenching grief existing inside the same heart...I have been given no choice but to try to keep moving forward without my sweet Courtney...Jerry told me this a way that only a husband of 27 years can say to his highly emotional wife... that my life with Courtney is over...but my life is why does it feel like it is tonight...I don't like all...but tomorrow...a new day dawns...and who knows what will be...riding the wave of grief...I'd like to get off the boat now...seriously...I want off...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

all in a days work...

Hey Y'all, 

How goes life in your world? I pray it's peaceful and productive but I know that's not always the case. 

For me, after an emotional weekend, followed by an exhausting Tuesday, I am plum exhausted. No tears today, just a feeling of overall tiredness and a general sense of blah. 

Descriptive right? 

Yep, that's me using ALL those SAT words in my vocabulary...ummmm...not so much. The brain, she is tired, very tired. 

So what to do to move myself forward this fine spring morning? I head to the kitchen and get to work. It's where I feel most comfortable besides my new #creative space (check out my gram feed to see photos). My husband and son live and die by their stomachs. 

Seriously, it's a thing. 

For twenty-seven years, the first question my husband has asked me each morning is "What's for dinner?". Today I plan to have an answer for him instead of "Ask me later". 

So far I have made orange and strawberry infused water, green iced tea with honey and mint and lightly sweetened black iced tea with lemon. Yes, my guys are serious about their tea. It also helps keep us on budget by avoiding the drive through during the day. Have tea/water will go anywhere. 

There is also cooked brown rice on the stove to complete my boys favorite chicken and rice casserole, Chicken w/Fried Onion Casserole. I have also opened up every window in the house to get rid of the sweat sock smell that comes from men who work out and leave their ripened laundry for me to do. That ripe laundry is now in the washer getting a shower of lemon love. 

Not bad for 9:50 a.m. 

Can I take a nap now? 

Ahhh nope. Not today. Gotta keep my butt moving. Just have to keep moving or else I will stop, sit and it's all over for the day. Too many books calling my name.  

There is too much to get done while I actually have a little energy. I am off to write more thank you notes (so behind on these), fold some laundry and maybe, actually, kind of put it away. 


I am superwoman. Here me roar...All in a days work. 

Yep, humble too. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

grey granite...

After Mass this morning, my mother, myself and my BFF Christine, headed over to a neighboring town and spent the morning looking at grey granite memorial headstones. I had spoken to one of the designers over the phone yesterday, when making the appointment, about what I was looking for  in a headstone for Miss Courtney.

He greeted us with some ideas already sketched out and after some discussion, we ended up with the above sketch. I think he did a really good job making what I had in my head a reality for my girl. What do you think?

Flowers engraved around her photo, which is imprinted on a tile placed into the stone. Of course we had to have "You are my sunshine" on there. After all, I sang that song to her for every nap and night night for twenty-two years. She was our sunshine and our lives will never be as bright without her here.

On the back of the stone, we have our family name so we can easily see it when walking through the graveyard. I chose the Celtic cross for her Irish heritage as well a being a nod to my Papa who pre-deceased her. Then there is Jeremiah 29:11 which is her "verse". One we chose for her many years ago. God did give us hope and we were always assured of His love and provision. Even now that she is gone, that continues. 

It will be put in place on August 14, 2015, four days before what would have been her 23rd birthday. Perfect timing don't you think?

Thank you for making this possible. You have once again created a miracle for our daughter. 

Blessings and Grace, 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

thank you for making this mothers day special...

Dear Friends, 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

You did it. I never doubted for a moment that you would. As always, when Courtney is involved, mountains are moved and great things happen. 

You have raised ( in 36 hours no less) enough funds for a headstone for my girl. $2000 plus something dollars were raised which gives us plenty of room to make the stone beautiful and special. 

Tears are running down my cheeks as I type this. This was the last thing we could physically do for my girl her on earth to honor her life, and you all made it happen. 

No words can ever express our gratitude but know that we are humbled and so happy to make this happen for Courtney.  

I go in this week to choose the stone and begin the process. I am told it can take 30-45 days from start to finish but can happen sooner depending on various things. As soon as it is laid, I will let you know and I promise lots of photos. 

You are the very best readers a gal could ever have. You have carried me and my family through so much, especially this past year. Know that I pray for you and your intentions every day. 

God is good ALL the time. 

Happy Mother's Day!!


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