Sunday, December 27, 2015

If Tomorrow Never Comes

     Scouring our digital photos for a specific one I was searching for, I clicked on this image.  At once, I stopped, filled with emotions and memories flooding my thoughts.





December 25th, 2010.  One day after my thirty-fifth birthday, four days before our family would be forced to adapt to a new way of living. 







The next image that enlarged on my computer screen was this one. 

My heart nearly fell out of my chest.  Our family, our children, our world.  Almost lost.  

"What if's" came to my mind for the first time ever about the footings we poured as the foundation of our little tribe we had formed.

     "What if" we knew what was going to happen just days from when this photo was taken, would we have absorbed more from this memory?

     "What if" we would have slowed down more instead of just talking about it?

     "What if" we wouldn't have let the stressors of this life disturb us so much?

     "What if" one of us hadn't lived, would the rest of us know how much we loved them?

     That's the one that became my main focus.  Had I not lived, would the rest of my family understand how much love my heart holds for them?  

     We cannot use "what if's" to look at or change our past, we can use them to look at and change our future.  

     I have been working on this concept for five years now.  Not thinking about "what if's" and just doing what my heart feels regardless of life's circumstances.  

     It can be so hard at times, so hard to keep that positive outlook with the negativity influencing our posse of six. 

    Our teenagers may not want me to hug or tell them that I love them, but I'm doing it anyway because it is true.  They may not want to take things as slow as I do, to stop the moment so I can cuddle up in it and feel the warmth surrounding me, but I'm going to do it anyway. 

     My husband may appear bashful as I stroke his ego for stepping up and choosing to be the protector, mentor and leader of our family until I could again stand by his side in partnership, but I will continue to lift him up with praise.  When our lives fell apart, he dug in his heels instead making an exit.

     My hopes are that each of us will have no regrets of not showing enough affection, not saying I love you or of not sharing in the memories.  At the end of our lives, creating memories are all that really matter, all that we truly look back on and there should be no anguish over, "What if" I had done more.

     When I view these images, no matter if they seem insignificant or historic, that these are moments, memories in the making, that we would have lost out on.   

     If my tomorrow never comes, as it almost did, my family will know how much I loved them, they will know I tried in every way, they will know how much they fill my heart. 




video

   

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Afternoon with Kate Duryea

     God is not shy about sending me life lessons.  Many of these are moments I have when I am spending time with other people and that is what happened the afternoon that I spent with Kate Duryea.

 
   I was introduced to Kate by a mutual friend Kim Wallis, who is the founder of Pilates4Pros.  Kate owns an active wear boutique in Ladue, MO, Dimvaloo, which promotes Lorna Jane products and a healthy life style. 

     Kate enjoys photographing clients clothed in her active wear line, especially those that work at living healthier, active lives and who have stories of triumph.  This is where Kim thought I would fit in.  

     Being on the other side of the camera was something new for me.  I become an introvert at the attention and I found myself striving to relax.  There was no need to feel uncomfortable around her, she is an adorable person to interact with and we hit it off very well.  Actually,  I never asked her how she felt about me, but I enjoyed her eccentric personality immensely!

  
Feeling a little blah about myself, I went into the photo shoot looking to boost myself up a bit.  With any new activity, usually the first time I do not get it right.  It may take a few tries to understand how my new, inflexible body can accomplish the same activity and I was having difficulty on this sunny day.

  

   I was aggravated that my too early in life, fluctuating hormones had caused a ten pound weight gain that I could not seem to shake. Because of my joint fusions, I was unable to correctly perform the Pilates moves she desired and I let my frustration cloud my creativeness.  The result altered my focus on how I should accommodate in new ways versus my old ways. 


   


  Realizing that I am that awkward woman now, made me want to cuss or pout like a child, especially with how physically coordinated I was pre-crash.  Kate was a sport as she may have had no idea of the struggle I had going on in my mind and heart that day.  Or of  the sarcastic one liners I was throwing at myself and God as I posed like Elaine from Seinfeld.



     "The only times I get truly disheartened is when I try to be something I'm not."  



     Yes, I am still physically active, but on a different level. I am a substantially different woman, palpably.  I work hard at making you think otherwise, but it is a struggle.  I am not a model for limber poses, I am now a sit by the pool and show off my active wear kind of female.  Still awkwardly exercising, just more privately.

     My day was not a waste.  I met this eclectic entrepreneur who took myself (a cattle farmer) to a vegan restaurant and introduced me to the most amazing chocolate avocado mousse to ever land on my taste buds.  It turns out she is a beef eater too
though!  



 Also living through another life lesson handed down from God Himself.  I believe He succeeded in his goals for this day and I also believe He has met his match with me.  I hope He continues to help me grow and holds my hand as I do so.




I will continue to test my limitations, for if I should not, I will never know what I am absolutely capable of.  



And I will maintain a smile as I accept with a sigh what was dealt to me.




*all photos are the copyright of Kate Duryea and Dimvaloo active wear
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pinterest + Thanksgiving =Success

     Using Pinterest for cooking has been a staple in our home.  Propping my iPad on the counter for easy access and going to town on new recipes is exciting for me.   Whether I'm looking for a quick and easy meal or I want to copycat an intricate dish from my favorite restaurant, it can almost always be found within this red app. 

     My question to myself this holiday was,  " Can I make an entire Thanksgiving meal and it also be amazingly delicious from Pinterest?"

     The answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

     So what did I end up cooking?  Well let me just tell you then. 

 
  First up, our main course was a holiday ham from our farm fed pig.  Necessity dictated that I use our roaster due to the oven being full.  I've cooked several hams, but I always come back to the Brown Sugar Ham.  Ours was 18 pounds and I roasted it for 4 hours at 325 degrees and it was fabulous!

    Second up, Green Bean Casserole.  This is the first time I have used frozen green beans instead of canned and it was still a fan favorite, but some didn't enjoy the crispness of the frozen beans versus canned.  I rarely purchase canned anything anymore because they just are not as healthy an option. 


   Third, 7 Layer Salad.  An item my husband loves to add to any menu. 

   
  Fourth, Warm Bacon Cheese Dip.  I could not find a bread bowl at either store I entered so I made my own, but I preferred the garlic, Parmesan pita chips with this dip instead.

  


   Fifth, Twice Baked Potato Casserole.  This is awesome because it's just the inside of a twice baked potato.  How could you possibly go wrong with that?

   
 
Sixth, Candied Sweet Potato Casserole.  To. Die. For.   This is like dessert.  I ate it two mornings in a row for breakfast!

    


 Seventh on the list, Ramen Noodle Salad.  This is one of my personal favorites.   For whatever reason, I did not buy the bag of coleslaw mix, so I had to make mine from scratch, which I like even better.  You can tell it was made with love because the cabbage slices were uneven. 

   
 Eighth, Sweet Hawaiian Bread.  This is so moist, delicious and easy to make in the bread machine.  Love my bread machine!

    

 Ninth for dessert was No Bake Eclair Cake!   I didn't have room in my oven for one more food item and I was tuckered out at this point from baking.  This ended up being a big ticket item though, so simple and yummy. 

      The only dish I did not steal from Pinterest was Rice Pilaf, another easy dish that I'll have to share later.  You can see it was a busy day of cooking, six hours worth and totally worth every minute of it. 

     My only foul up was that I pulled four hot dishes out of the oven just in time to call everyone to eat and I completely forgot to take a photo of our Thanksgiving homemade feast!

   
 So dinner from Pinterest was a total success!





Sunday, November 22, 2015

Don't Cross that Yellow Line

     How long did it take you to drive after your collision?  That is a popular question I have after speaking or in general.  

     A more recent question, one I have never been asked by until recently is
" How are you not scared to be in a car or think about it all the time?"  

     A student sent this inquiry to me along with a story of his own.

     I could not drive much until my third year of recovery, so I had been a passenger most of the time I was in a vehicle.  But when it was time that I was allowed to begin making short trips to town, I really had to think about how I was going to handle getting behind the wheel again. 

     We had four children who were involved in all kinds of activities.  Since we live out of town, it's not a small feat to find someone to transport them from our home.   I wanted to drive just so I didn't have to put that strain on others and I desperately wanted my independence back. 

     My ankles had to be strong enough to hit the brakes in an emergency case, my mind had to be able to focus and I had to make sure I had my emotions under control. 

     Beginning just like a teenager again, practicing was necessary.  Initially I just drove up the drive to pick our children up from the bus and graduated to traveling our gravel roads until I made a full circle back to our home with a short stretch of highway. 

     Eventually I decided I was ready to drive them to practices, games, etc.  I was missing out on their lives and that was my most powerful catalyst. 

 
   I subconsciously hug the white line because I want to be as far away from the center line as possible.   I have had flash backs while driving as someone will hit their brakes and BAM!  I'm right back at the scene as it's unfolding.  I've always been able to bring myself back to reality, but it leaves my body full of adrenaline.

     When a vehicle nears that yellow line or crosses it, my heart constricts to the point that I cannot breathe and it is pounding in my throat.  I'm not sure I show a single sign on the outside of my body, but inside I'm screaming, "God, no!" 

     I calm myself immediately as a confrontation is avoided, but I do not believe that knee-jerk reaction will ever stop.  

     As for my response to that particular gentleman who questioned me. 


        "I think about it each time I get behind the wheel
& any time someone gets close to the center line my heart
beats in my throat. I've consciously made a choice not to let it control me, I want to live freely without my situation holding me hostage .  It's not that I will ever forget but I make sure I've learned from it." 

     I don't know anything else to do.     This collision was not my fault.   I have to live with the knowledge that I am not in
control and it could happen just as easily as it did before. 

     But I will not be a prisoner of it.  Having a great many years to live and create enjoyable memories is my priority and I cannot do that if I am constantly afraid.  


     So I choose to saddle up and conquer my fear.  I will not idly stand by as I watch life unfold around me.  I am going to live it.  

     Somewhere along in my life I have stopped reacting and have begun initiating.   That is where I find my control.
     

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Why I Do NOT Enjoy Self Check Out

     Self check out seems to be the way to go lately, at least that's the way it seems as the front end manager of the store tediously pushes each of us in that direction. 

     Many years ago, the stores installed a bagging round about.  You know where the cashier bags your purchased items, swivels it around until all of the bags are full and then looks at you to pick them up and put them in your cart yourself. 

     I am not lazy, nor am I above bagging and loading my own groceries.  I quite regularly shop at Alid's and bagging your own groceries is your only option.   I do not enjoy the several cashiers that look at me with impatience because I am not even done emptying my cart yet and am not removing my bags from their merry go round.  

     I have taken the liberty to ask a few to please add more than two items to each bag so it will give me time before they are ready for me to do their job.

     Yes, I have used self check out, thinking it would be easier and less of a hassle.  Now I just can't bring myself to do it.  


     I enjoy receiving customer service as much as giving it.  I enjoy the interaction with most.  There are always those who relish in showing their customers just how bad of a day they are having, but those have been few and far between for me.

     I don't enjoy a clerk heavily pushing me towards the self checkout when I obviously do not want to go there.   Lately they have been down right pushy.  This could be policy of their store and they are being influenced to do so and I want to say, "Please Stop!"   

     I can make my own choices and if I want to say hello and tell the little cashier lady how much I like her lipstick, I want to say it to her face and then thank her for the smile she gave me as I was leaving her line.  If I wanted a non emotional interaction, I can get that from my phone, computer, lap top, iPad or tablet every day of the week.

     More often than not, I have had to call the clerk to my line anyway because I did not put my item in the bag hard enough and it thinks I did not bag it.   That the computer will not accept my coupons because I am an avid coupon-er.  That it needs an over ride because I am buying tobacco for my husband.  

     I am a parent, a Mom who takes care of everyone.  Quite bluntly, the store is the only time I am catered to.  Someone else (who is being paid to do so) bags my groceries for me! 

     When I leave those automated doors and step out to head to my car, I am no longer a grocery store queen.  I am a servant, a person who many rely on daily and I carry that weight well.  But for one hour as I put my own items in my cart, I know at the end I can converse with someone, that I have the ability to give them a compliment that will then leave them with a smile.


     There is something to be said for human interaction. 

      Great customer service keeps my business, keeps me coming back because I enjoyed my experience.  We interact with computers all day and have forgotten how to interact with actual people.  We have lost our manners and social skills.

     Technology is fantastic and I love it. 
 I am patiently waiting for it to advance enough to fix my ankles, but looking into someone eyes and being able to say, "Thank you, you have a wonderful day" after completing a chore that none of us wants to do in the first place, makes it a little more enjoyable in my opinion.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tang and Chicken in a Biskit

     What could these two food items have in common and why would I blog about them?

     My son and I enjoy the new water flavor enhancers that you squirt into your bottle to add a bit of zip to ordinary H2O.  Most of these are sugar free so it has a little bit of the taste of kool-aid, but a bit healthier. 

     I recently grabbed the orange flavor that I had not purchased before, stirred it up in my glass of ice water and took a good gulp.  Instantly Tang came flooding back to my mind. 


     I am showing my age somewhat because my kids don't understand the significance of this orange flavored drink that was at one time alone in it's own category.

     That brought a flood of memories from my childhood.  We did not purchase Tang or much in the way of snacks when I was growing up.  But my Grandma did!

     She would mix me up a glass of Tang and I seriously thought my taste buds had died and gone to heaven.  Never had I drank
something so flavorful as this orange powder before. 

     She also had this cabinet that my three foot self could only stand below and stare up at.  It was above the oven and when she would open a door I stood and gaped at the boxes of snacks she had stacked side by side in there. 

     It was a site made only from a child's dream.  I'm positive I did not intentionally pull at her heart strings, but I would look up at her with my green eyes that were covered with mile long eyelashes and ask if I could please have a snack.   You see Chicken n a Biskit was my favorite!

     My own heart was doing somersaults in my chest because that is all I desired at Grandma's house besides doing flips on her clothes line poles or occasionally being able to climb to the attic to play make believe.

     Those days also remind me of easier times with no responsibilities except what I wanted to play next.  

     The memories make things go all warm and fuzzy inside of me and I can just sit and hope that our own children can associate a scenario like this with their own grandparents.
     

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mouth Watering Pheasant Casserole

     Okay, right off the bat, when you hear casserole, you can bet that it is loaded with calories.  And you're right.   When the pheasant is placed in the casserole dish, that is the last moment it will be considered healthy. 

     This recipe is extremely easy and is a hunters favorite because it's layered with everything.   If you do not have access or just do not enjoy the taste of pheasant, substitute with a more preferable meat.
     
     You can also substitute the swiss cheese for something like mozzarella or you can be like me and just use both.   Rarely is the case of too much cheese!

     I have a large family so I double the recipe and we always enjoy the leftovers for lunch.  Enjoy!

      Print Recipe Here:
Mouth Watering Pheasant Casserole

 


Pheasant Casserole
Ingredients:
  • 4 pheasant breasts
  • 4 slices ham
  • 4 - 6 slices swiss cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 can water
  • 2 cups stuffing mix
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Directions:

Wash pheasant and remove any leftover feathers or bb’s.
Place the breasts in a greased 9x13 baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together the soup and the water.

Place the ham and cheese on the pheasant breasts.







Pour the soup over the breasts and cover with the stuffing mix.

 







Pour the melted butter over the top of the stuffing mix.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Turning Seventeen

     Seventeen, almost, but not quite considered an adult.   So close to what teens view as "freedom".

     Those of us much older, can recall that same feeling and laugh at what that "freedom" really means.

     Sure we were free of parental rules, we could come and go as we pleased, we could eat anything we wanted at any time of day.  If any of you were like me, my parents voices were floating around in the back of my mind with every decision I made.

     I was pretty independent.  I understood money and priorities, but I couldn't fully comprehend what that "freedom" entailed until living in it.

 
   Looking at my first born who turned seventeen today, my heart aches and swells with pride all at the same time.  I've always been a middle of the road parent when it comes to rules.  Strict enough, but not so overbearing that she is afraid to ask questions.  Trusting, but not so lax or naive to underestimate the teenage mind.

     She desires this freedom and is only a little over a year from encompassing it.  


     Seventeen years ago seems like an eternity, yet I can remember the day of her birth so vividly.  My doctor immediately taking her to the warming table instead of allowing me to hold her.  Me, gazing in disbelief at a chalk white baby girl with a mop of black hair, surrounded by medical staff softly but urgently coaxing her, "Breathe, baby breathe".  

     Her cord had been wrapped around her neck and was suffocating her as she was being brought into this world.  Finally her cry was heard and the nurse literally held her up like she was on the "Price Is Right" and whisked her away to the NICU.

     I only had to wait two hours until she was stable enough that I could feel her in my arms.  It was two hours of confusion and praying my baby girl was going to be okay. 

     My epidural only numbed the right side of my body which granted me a second epidural that paralyzed me from the waist down for hours.  I wasn't allowed to move until it had worn off so I couldn't even gaze through the window from the hallway at my little baby.
 
     But when the nurse brought her to me it was the first time I knew what true love felt like.  My intuition told me I was having a girl and she would be named either Abigail or Olivia, but I was waiting until I could see her in person to decide. 

    
 When I viewed her dark and unbelievably thick hair, I knew that no matter her age, that this would forever be my Livvy.

   
Happy 17th Birthday to my beautiful 
Olivia Rose !<3
 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Legend: Days Gone By

     Most of us can hear a song that takes us back to a day when we had fewer responsibilities, time to kill and that time was filled with nothing but fun and lots of laughter.

     For many of us in and around the Gasconade County area, it was a band.  A band, that may have inadvertently formed a phenomenon that matched their name.   A band called..........LEGEND.

     Last evening was a night of copious reunions.  The music formation itself reunified after a twenty year hiatus, possibly
creating the largest event Stony Hill has observed since the last time Legend played there.  

     Standing in a single configuration that trailed from the rear of Purdy's bar, that snaked through the parking lot, ending at the gravel road, I listened to us talk like groupies.   Story after story of fun and craziness that happened only at Legend dances radiated throughout the line.

     Entering the mass of onlookers, I felt like a sightseer and as I watched and looked over the crowd, I smiled.   A lazy smile that blew into a cheek splitting grin that crinkled my eyes.  It was a crowd filled with my past.  A reunion of Owensville High.  I listened as I heard the mob reflect,  chasing memories of days gone by.  

     I studied the band members, ate up with the response from the crowd and that after the addition of two decades, the loss of  big hair and spandex, that they could still rock as hard as they do and entice the throng of fans to scream for more.  

     Timidly, I injected myself into the mosh pit.  This group is the reason I have Ozzy Osbourne cycling through my play list and why I know every word to "Momma Let Him Play".  I scanned the party of people around me, dancing, singing, smiling and doubling over with amusement as we all rode the "Crazy Train" together.  

     Everyone embracing each other with laughter bubbling from deep in their bellies.   This is what I viewed through my eyes. 

There were no negatives, no hate, no enemies.  Only those of us smiling, enjoying, appreciating, remembering..................
 days gone by.

  
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey............I Can See You Looking at Me




     Three months after our collision, my husband took me to the grocery store in our local community.  Only leaving my living room to attend doctors appointments, I was both anxious and excited about this awaited chance to leave the confines of my home.  It was my first taste of catching inquisitive yet sympathetic glances from onlookers.

     Most would smile, some would cry, others would look away.  My life had been spent avoiding center stage at all costs and now I felt the spot light blinding me as I rolled from aisle to aisle.  

     As summer time approached, the heat increased the edema in my legs to a new level.  Socks acted as a tourniquet and if worn invariably created a condition known as "cankles", which then increased my pain and made the overall scene look worse than it already was.

     Refusing to lay in my home and miss memories with my family, I traveled as best I could to each activity.  Elevating my legs at all times was not a choice, it was a necessity and it put my tragedy on display.

     Each surgery added more scars to the plethora I had already obtained from our collision.  Some opened four times for reconstruction.  Pieces of our car embedded themselves or scraped along my skin, starting at my waist continuing to my toes to create permanent reminders of that evening when I drove down that frozen highway.

     Every so often I study them, finding one that I hadn't noticed before or how some have begun to fade slightly.  When I am out in public, I see those of you who walk by with your heads straight forward, but your pupils stretched as far to the corner of your eye as physically possible, trying to catch a glimpse without offending me.  Trying to see if the rumors are true or exaggerated.  But, I see you.


     At first, my chest would cave in, tighten and I became insecure with my new self.  I knew not a single person meant me harm and that this was an insecurity that I needed to fix within myself.  

     Everyone is curious about them, but no one asks.  It is awkward, I understand and no one wants to cause me any more distress.  But when you peer at me from around corners and look away quickly, some of my insecurity returns and there are times that I have felt ashamed.  Of how I now look.

     Putting myself in your shoes, I hope I comprehend how most of you feel.  I want to let you know it is okay to ask questions.  I am the best one to ask.  I have lived it, recovered from it and can tell you with heart wrenching honesty what each scar represents.  

     Working on myself for nearly five years has brought to me a sense of pride about my scars. These scars are my story, a story of survival that my family and I have traveled, a road map of recovery.  

     They are my one of a kind tattoos and most importantly, each one is a valuable lesson that has encouraged me to grow into this new self.   A self that I have never been more proud or comfortable with.


     So............I see you looking at me............and it's okay.