Tuesday, June 30, 2015

love and relationship advice from Ma Significant Otter...

Well my friends, 
You loved his visit last week so much that after promising him at least one BLT a week, Ma Significant Otter (code name Jerry) will be making a weekly appearance here in this space. I have no idea what he will write about but I promise it will be witty. He's good that way. So let's raise a glass to our new Tuesday feature...I give you the funniest man I know...Ma Significant Otter...

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Greetings Blog Readers, 

It’s me again, your friendly neighborhood guest blogger, or as Mary likes to say: 


Thanks for to opportunity to opine again...apparently everyone thought I was amusing...

I thought long and hard about a suitable topic, besides of course, bacon…which I could write melodious odes of joy about, but which most of you don’t care about…harumph. 

Therefore, I considered this a good topic: Things I Wish I Had Learned in Marriage Prep. 

Yup….there are so many things about marriage, relationships, and sharing your life, home, and bacon with someone that you don’t really learn about until you live them. 

Now, before you think I am going to write some sappy, Notebook inspired romance guide..STOP. Not going to happen. I had big feels once, but I quickly got over that nonsense, as my wife will testify. 



Several years ago our Pastor asked us to do the married prep for engaged couples at our Parish. Now my wife figured that since we had been married for over 20 years, had endured many hardships and trials, clearly our Pastor wanted us to pass on our accumulated wisdom. 

I replied, NOPE, he just figured we fit the old saying of “Sometimes your life is lived to be an example to others of what not to do.” 

Yup, I considered that having us teach about marriage and relationships would be like Kim Kardashian teaching about modesty and decorum, but with a good fire hose wash down of the Holy Spirit..off we went. 

So here are my big takeaways about married life that I would teach any young couple…not the usual sex, money, in-laws, children things…those are in the “STUDY GUIDES”…
Oh, look honey, here’s a study guide on dealing with relatives and in-laws---ON WAR, written by Karl von Clausewitz. 

Takeaway 1: Now, I’m going to be brutally honest here and say, many couples in this day and age have already moved past this lesson, but it was kinda hard for my +1 and I to master…SLEEPING together. NO, not having sex (more on that later) but actually sharing a bed with someone else. 

Now, generally there are two kinds of sleepers—sprawlers and snugglers. 

Sprawlers are like the Mongol hordes of sleepers, they will conquer as much territory as possible, defend it to the death, and curse your ancestors if you trespass. You know who you are. 


Snugglers on the other hand, have to have some sort of physical contact with their spouse and will actually move around the bed at night to ensure contact. 

 Yes, we are the second…huge snugglers. 

 Which raises more than a few eyebrows when we tell sprawlers that we sleep in a full-sized bed. Yup, shocker..we are not petite people…due to bacon mostly...and we sleep in a full-sized bed like two puppies on a cold winter night in our old Cape Cod house. This is a very good thing…however, this has caused some issues lately as my +1 has entered a certain stage of life that involves becoming a human torch….which can lead to some awkward moments.


Me (crawling into bed after a long day and sliding up to snuggle): “Hmmm, honey I love you” 

Wife (having 30 minutes of continuous hot flashes): “Touch me and die, Bacon Boy.” 

But that’s married life. 

Have I mentioned that we could hang meat in our bedroom? That’s how low the air conditioning is set..in addition to the huge fan pointed directly at my honey all night long. 

So, first lesson, sharing...you will need to learn how to share a bed...and blankets...okay, maybe not blankets.
Me (shivering in the middle of the night): "Honey, where's the blanket"
Wife:  "Get your own blanket burrito boy, this one is mine"

Takeaway 2: As you get older, have children and settle into your life together, you need to keep your relationship as a couple alive. HOWEVER, you do have to set some realistic expectations. 

When we were dating, my +1 and I would go on long dates that might involve dinner, a movie and some activity where we could talk for hours…like say miniature golf. Hmmm, did my lamby-pie ever blog about the time we played miniature golf…that is an interesting story in covert operations that Brad Thor would be proud of….and no, I wasn’t much more of a conversationalist back then. 

Of course after children, especially Courtney, it was very tough to find a sitter…really only Jonathan or Mary’s mom were comfortable with Courtney..so we learned the fine art of speed dating, married style. 

Me: “Ok, honey, we have two hours, what do you want to do?” 

Wife: “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” 

This went on for what seemed like eternity+8 hours before we finally decided we didn’t have time for a movie so let’s just go out to dinner. 

 NOW, somehow, this habit never dies from dating and it is one of those strange things that only couples do…have you ever been out to dinner and your +1 says “Let’s get different entrees and we can share.” BEWARE of this…it is codeword for either 1) I’m going to eat my dinner and ½ of yours or 2) If I don’t like mine, we’re going to switch…and NEVER fall for the “Let’s get one desert and share” trick either..even if the waitress brings two spoons, where chocolate is concerned, my sweetie uses that spoon like d'Artagnan uses a rapier to fend off my efforts to get a bite. 

Of course if we did go to a movie, we learned another important thing young couples don’t really think about. Men and women generally have very different taste in entertainment. 

Women: “I want a deeply romantic story with sympathetic characters and a lot of internal conflict until the couple realize they are really madly in love with each other and have a happy ending.” 

Men: “Does the movie have guns and explosions or dinosaurs?"  

Nuff said. 

Now, over time these tastes may merge….ok, not really, but that’s where you learn to compromise…one of those very important parts of being married. So now my lamby-pie and I take turns choosing dinner and a movie on those rare occasions we go out. Someone picks the movie and the other person picks the restaurant. Needless to say, if she is picking the movie…there will be meat at the restaurant…preferably meat wrapped in bacon. 

Second important lesson compromise.

Like finding a movie with a budding romance between a man-woman team of secret agents hunting down rogue dinosaurs using rocket-propelled grenades.

Takeway 3: ANDDD, last but not least, the MOST IMPORTANT benefit of being married…back scratching….no not in the metaphysical sense…I mean actually back scratching. 

 Now this may seem silly..however, LADIES…and you know I’m speaking the truth…how many of you find utter joy when your husband scratches all those bra strap places at the end of the day when you take off your bra? 

 NO, I am not kidding…. 



And guys…I now understand why those orangutans spend so much time scratching and grooming each other. Seriously, guys, when you have that one spot in the middle of your back that you can’t reach and don’t want to use a meat fork to scratch (Hey, don’t judge)…isn’t it nice to be able to say with a straight face…”Honey, can you scratch the hairy spot?” and know your spouse will help you out? 

After many years of marriage, you will learn that your significant otter really is the only one for you…your soulmate, etc, yadda yadda yadda. Here is where I move beyond the Biblical definition of love..you know-“Love is kind, love is patient” to the ever so important real life definition of love. 


Yup, that pretty much sums it up…after a certain point, you know that you have grown together as a couple to the point that no one else will put up with your sh**. 

That my friends, is the definition of True Love we need to teach young couples…never be afraid to scratch each other's back.

Oh, and one more piece of advice for the grooms out there...NEVER, EVER do this


Because no, she will never laugh and they will never find your body.

Thus endeth the lesson...until next time. 

Jerry 
- Mary's Significant Otter

Monday, June 29, 2015

the gift of heavy labor, sweat and more...



Sitting in::
on the front porch as the the sun comes up. It's been a week since I have seen my sweet little four year old friends. They will arrive in an hour or two and then it will be Barbies and baby dolls for the win.

Listening to the sounds of::
Quiet. The neighborhood is just waking up so for now it's quiet. Just me and the birds. 

The sun is::
Shining. Rain will be the story for most of the week, but for this Monday it's a beautiful sunrise and there is even a breeze for now.


From two years ago (2013)...I said smile. Courtney said "no". Jonathan D. Lenaburg said "please be done with photos for today." LOL! My children at their finest!
Courtney memory::
Today I was thinking about her smile and her sense of peace. She was always so happy, until she wasn't (see above). She was usually very content no matter what was happening. I want that sense of contentment. I truly do. Today my goal is to try and find it in the small things. My Courtney will help me. I have no doubt of that. 


only in Ohio...or PA...will you find these. 
Something beautiful::
Watching teenagers give of themselves for a greater purpose. This past week was awesome as I had the privilege to witness a group of 40 teenagers step outside their comfort zone and do some serious hard labor for those less fortunate than themselves. 

They did work for two different groups of nuns at their Mother Houses. They worked for the Monks at the priory. They also worked for the homeless, the less fortunate including a family whose mother is dying of cancer. They used shovels and hammers, pickaxes and sledgehammers, brooms and hedge clippers and scrubbed and cleaned until they were too tired to lift their arms. 

It was beautiful and exhausting all at the same time. They were so happy to do so. They grumbled for the first five minutes and then once they got the the worksite, they were all in. They worked together as a team and got the work done. It was amazing and I am so very glad I got to be their to witness it. 


Day One of WorkCamp2015
Something Stylish:
Most of the week I was in work clothes and each day brought another level of hard labor and filth. I have never been so tired in my life. It was a good tired though. A healthy tired. This morning I am in a shift dress. I love them. They are comfy, stylish and cute. Perfect for a hot summer day. 

What's on my mind::
I watched this video this weekend and it has given me much to ponder on. I have been slowly moving out of the fog of grief and deep sadness over Courtney's death, into the next phase of grief I suppose. There is a sadness that is with me 24/7. It doesn't overwhelm me every moment of everyday anymore, it just comes and goes with it's waves of deep emotions. I sit with it and when the tide passes, I move on. 

I think it's going to be this way for some time and I am OK with that. The greater issue is figuring out a purpose for everyday, my new mission. When I was watching this video, I realized that what I am struggling with is sloth. I feel kind of "meh" spiritually. When Courtney was alive, I had a zeal for life, a purpose for my day and a trust in God to provide. Somehow I seem to have lost that. 

I need to find it again. This week I had it for a few days. It was so wonderful to feel alive again, even if it was for a short time. These kids, they helped me see the joy in serving. It's what I am supposed to do. I know it. It's the "how" I am unclear with. We only have one life to live and I don't want to waste it. I know this is just a season and I need to be still for now as I work my way through it in my heart. It's there. I know it. I just need to wait upon the Lord to reveal it to me. 

This weeks print from the #summerofpsalms project from Kristin at Vine of Plenty just  spoke to me. Be still. He will tell me when it's time. 




Kendra at Catholic All Year has a fabulous post about the recent SCOTUS decision and how we move forward. Love her. Love her advice. Also check out Father Barron's piece on this same issue. Happy Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. 


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 going on a mission trip overseas. That she is safe in her travels and that the kids she will be working with will be open to hearing God's word. 

+ for friends who are trying to have another baby. If it be the Lord's will, that He bless them abundantly. 

+ for everyone who has a lost a child. That God comforts them and brings a smile to their face at some point this week. 

+ In gratitude for the teens who worked so very hard last week to serve those who are less fortunate that them. 

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 our finances. The budget is very tight as we begin to pay down the last four years of Courtney's medical/daily care debt that has been sitting on credit cards for some time. Right now, the focus is on one loan whose balance is $1,720.00. One payment at a time. 

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

+ for our pastor and his decision in regards to our new Youth Minister. That it's a good fit for our kids. God's will be done. 

+ for those battling eating disorders of any kind. That they may realize that food is not the enemy. The enemy is trying to twist something that nourishes into something that is evil.

+ for our country. That God may once again reign supreme in our lives. 

Adventuring in the kitchen::
Today, we have a potluck at church to say goodbye to our Youth Minister who is moving on to his next assignment. There will be mocha brownies, mac and cheese and cocktail meatballs coming out of my kitchen for the festivities. Yummo!!

Sewing with my Bernina::
working on a few baby quilts, some toddler dresses and a few other odds and ends. It's slow moving but we are getting there. I promise photos when I am done with something. 

This week will bring::
Tonight we say goodbye to Courtney and Brian as they head off to Austria with Franciscan University. Brian has been with us for 8 years. It will be a hard goodbye for sure. 

Then tomorrow I have a dentist appointment, yippee. Wednesday brings dinner with a friend in from out of town and then who knows. The calendar always has a way of filling out. 


:: giving thanks for
#2297 ~ #2319
* teenagers willing to step outside their comfort zone and serve.
* adult leaders who give of themselves freely to work beside, listen and counsel those teenagers. 
* for the men and women who have given themselves in religious life. May you be protected and loved by the Father of all LIfe. Thank you for giving so freely and loving so fully.
* for power tools. they make everything easier
* the gift of hard labor so I amy appreciate how easy my daily life really is. 
* for generous families who give over their home to house teenagers, with all their hot, dirty, sweaty stuff. 
* for Mama K and her crew who fed us all week long.
* for Brian and Courtney who answered the call to go serve abroad. You will be missed. Thank you for listening to God's plan for your families well being. 
* for our Youth Ministry. My kids rock.
* for Jerry and Jonathan. They make me laugh every day. I am so very grateful. 
* for extended family who loves no matter the circumstances. 
* the gift of a home and friends and family to fill it
* a hot meal every night
* the ability to work hard and not lose hope
* motherhood and all that encompasses
* four year olds and their imagination
* clean bathrooms
* folded laundry and an organized closet
* potluck dinner at church
* warm brownies from the oven
* topped with ice cream
* homemade mac and cheese, bubbly with cheesy goodness
* You my friends. SO grateful for you!



help pay off debt from caring for our beautiful Courtney  

Our current goal is $1,720.00 which will eliminate a small loan we took to pay for some of Courtney's therapy equipment that insurance did not cover. We have spent three years paying down. If we can raise this amount, we can pay it off and be that much closer to our larger goal. One thing at a time. Thank you so much for your help. 

My email has exploded with readers requesting I put the PayPal button back up for those who wish to help with our debt. The entire debt is extensive, approx. $71,000. It's a lot and will take years to whittle down. Anything helps. Anything. So, I will keep it at the bottom of my posts for awhile. You all have already given so much to our family. Our prayers are with you and we are so very grateful. We can never repay that kindness. So thank you...just thank you. If you would like our mailing address, please just email me at mary_romance@cox.net and I will send it.
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

what i wore ~ sunshine


This week I was at Work Camp for five days. I was filthy most days after working hard alongside my team of awesome teenagers. My wardrobe for the week consisted of work t-shirts and denim shorts, work gloves and safety goggles. There were machetes and pick axes, shovels and lots of dirt. I came down with a massive ear infection that lead to lymphytis which was extremely painful and required more than one visit to the Doc. 


what I wore Sunday...a sunshine yellow shift dress.
Finally on day five, I gave in and came home leaving my team up in Ohio to finish things up. Thanks to the awesome adult volunteers (Liz and Patty, I am looking at you!!) my team is in good hands. I have meds and they are working beautifully. I slept for ten hours straight Friday night, then took a four hour nap Saturday afternoon, followed by a pretty awesome sleep last night. I am finally feeling human again. 

If you're wondering, I would do it all over again. It was a life changing experience, one I will write about later this week.


Shift dress Macy's house brand Style & Co. 
Yesterday, was the six month anniversary of Courtney's Heaven Homecoming. Jerry and I went to Mass and spent the day quietly, enjoying the rain. There were no tears but a general sadness that seems to permeate our lives these days. We are moving forward slowly, but moving just the same. 

My beloved took me to breakfast using a lovely little gift card that a family member surprised us with. We went to First Watch Cafe and I had the Avocado Toast with eggs and Jerry had the Breakfast Tacos. It was so tasty. I plan on recreating the recipes at home. Yummo! 

This morning I cranked up the volume with a sunshine yellow shift dress from Lane Bryant. It's easy to accessorize and quite comfy. If you want to see the fab shoes I wore in greater details, you will have to check out my gram feed


Me in 2009 at size 24W
I was looking through some old photos and found these gems from July 2009. I was a size 24W and attending a writing conference. I wanted to share them because I get a lot of emails and FB messages asking about plus size dressing. So I thought I would share a few of my past triumphs. 

The key to making the above outfits work is keeping the color palette simple and wear the silhouette that flatter you. I look better in a tunic top which is one that falls loosely to the hips. Between he cut of the top and dressing monochromatically, you can trim a few pounds off and create a smooth silhouette. (hot pink outfit)

Creating a neckline that draws the eye down can help elongate giving those of us with very short necks. Accessorizing with a longer necklace and dangle earrings also help. (blue and white outfit)

Lastly wearing an empire waistline helps emphasize the smallest part of the waist. Wearing a shrug or a light weight sweater, can help cover those chunky upper arms, giving you more confidence. Also keeping the jewelry and accessories monochromatic brings the outfit together and finishes it nicely. (black and cream outfit) 

So there you have it. Me at size 24W and me now at size 18-20W. No matter what the number, it is possible to dress well and really celebrate your own personal style. 



help pay off debt from caring for our beautiful Courtney  

Our current goal is $1,720.00 which will eliminate a small loan we took to pay for some of Courtney's therapy equipment that insurance did not cover. We have spent three years paying down. If we can raise this amount, we can pay it off and be that much closer to our larger goal. One thing at a time. Thank you so much for your help. 

My email has exploded with readers requesting I put the PayPal button back up for those who wish to help with our debt. The entire debt is extensive, approx. $71,000. It's a lot and will take years to whittle down. Anything helps. Anything. So, I will keep it at the bottom of my posts for awhile. You all have already given so much to our family. Our prayers are with you and we are so very grateful. We can never repay that kindness. So thank you...just thank you. If you would like our mailing address, please just email me at mary_romance@cox.net and I will send it.
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Go take a photo and join us won't you? Head on over to FineLinenandPurple and link up. Then you can head over here to Watch What I'm Wearing, celebrating modesty and fashion, Tucker Upand The Pleated Poppy. It's a party!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

183 days...

http://passionateperseverance.blogspot.com/2015/06/183-days.html


My sweet Courtney it has been 183 days since...

... I held you in my arms.

... saw your beautiful smile or heard your awesome laugh.

... got to give you a bath with your favorite apple blossom shampoo, even though you hated getting your hair washed, you sure smelled good. 

... got to snuggle with you wearing soft warm jammies while we listed to Audrey Assad on the Ipod.

... got to make you biscuits and gravy, your favorite. 

... watch you stare down a pumpkin pie, just waiting for your first bite. 


http://passionateperseverance.blogspot.com/2015/06/183-days.html

... sang your favorite song to help you sleep.

... watched you're big brother carry you to bed, all while telling you a story about Winnie the Pooh.

... beaming with joy as the bells ring signifying the Lords presence at Mass during Consecration.

... witnessed you receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.

... I watched you wrap your arms around your Papa and sit through yet another John Wayne movie.

... got to whisper "I love you" in your ear. 


http://passionateperseverance.blogspot.com/2015/06/183-days.html

... got to watch you fling a shoe at someone during Sunday Mass. 

... listen to you imitate Chewbacca when Father preaches too long.

... we wheelchair danced to the radio.

... I kissed your sweet face for the last time.

... laid you to rest, knowing that when you opened your eyes you would see your Beloved Lord before you. 

... walked away from you knowing I would have to wait until God called me home to dance with you again. 



http://passionateperseverance.blogspot.com/2015/06/183-days.html

Today marks six months since our daughter went home. I woke this morning, not in pain, but weary that this is how things will be until my time comes. It's not what any parent wants, to be without their heart, their child. It is what God has chosen for us, so we once again ACCEPT His plan and try our best to find joy again and live. 

Thank you my friends, for being her with us in prayer and encouragement. Thank you for holding our hands and telling us it's going to be OK. Thank you for showing us that community reaches beyond the boundaries of our home all around the world. 

I am blessed to be Jonathan and Courtney's mother. I am blessed beyond measure to have that honor. To know them and love them, now and always. 

help pay off debt from caring for our beautiful Courtney  


My email has exploded with readers requesting I put the PayPal button back up for those who wish to help with our debt. It's extensive, approx. $71,000. It's a lot and will take years to whittle down. Anything helps. Anything. So, I will keep it at the bottom of my posts for awhile. You all have already given so much to our family. Our prayers are with you and we are so very grateful. We can never repay that kindness. So thank you...just thank you. If you would like our mailing address, please just email me at mary_romance@cox.net and I will send it.

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