28 November 2013

Love to Eat Turrrrkey!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

May this day find you all blessed and surrounded by the ones you love. If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "Thank you" it would be enough.


27 November 2013

Letters to Madeline - Meet Your Mommy



Dear Madeline,

In case there's any confusion at this point as to who I am (Two years later), let me clear it up for you - I'm your mom. Your madre. One half of your parental unit. The crimp in your style for the next 16 years the rest of your life. And as much as I like to think that I'm cool, chic, and sophisticated like this
The reality is actually this
Yep, this is me - your mom...sucking on a delicious crab leg while enjoying a beer or two. I would say this is pretty standard business for me. Food is my lover and I never
trust a skinny cook. 

But seriously...

Oh, Madeline. How you've changed my life. I try to think about my life before you and in all honesty, it is hard to do. That time seems like another lifetime ago - almost an urban legend of sorts. Sure, I can think about how easy my life was before you; I could pick up and go on a moment's notice or do nothing at all. Movies were an all the time affair unlike the bits and pieces I get now, and eating out has a whole new meaning. But do you know what?

Now is so much better.

My life may have been easy before you, but it certainly wasn't fulfilled. It wasn't complete. I always knew there was something missing from my heart...you were the missing piece. You will never know how, in so many ways, you saved me. I am so honored and proud to be your mommy.

So what is there to know about me? Well, I was born on a June morning at 5:30 am in Nashville, TN. I came into the world crying and screaming and haven't stopped since. :-)
 I lived in Tennessee until around the age of 7 when Poppy accepted a job that would take our family to Rocky Mount, NC. From then on until I graduated high school in 1995, we lived in Rocky Mount. Some of the best memories I have of my youth were made there. I hope to take you back there one day.

After high school, I attended Middle Tennessee State University and majored in Mass Communications with minors in Political Science and English. I became a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, and had the opportunity to travel, enjoy college, and live life to the fullest. (This would also be known as the majority of my drunken years, all-nighters, and road trips. The other way just sounded better. ;-) )

From there, life happened. I was thrown into the real world and quickly realized that meeting friends for drinks at 10 pm wasn't such a great idea since I had to be up at 6 AM for work. Making excuses for why projects didn't get done didn't fly with my boss, and paying bills got real really quickly. So yeah, long story short, I became old.

I was married.
Then divorced.
Then your dad came along.
And that's another story for another letter. :-)

Aside from this, here are some other things you should know about me:

Likes:
Positivity, humor, and a great smile
Christmas
Fall
The beach
A great book
An even better glass of wine (Shiraz of course!)
Sushi & Mexican foods (OK let me be honest - I've rarely met a food I didn't love hence the picture above)
Entertaining friends & family
Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, and pretty much anything geek
Kappa Delta (You are a legacy!)
Tennessee and all things TN sports
Philanthropy
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allen Poe, and Claude Debussy
Pearls
Class, manners, and humility
Frequent pedicures
Dark rooms with lit candles
Family
Antique shops 
Monograms
Snow
Warm sweaters, cozy socks, and boots
Cooking and baking
Working
Romance
Overcast, cloudy days
Napping (If I could make money at this, we would be millionaires)
Board games, card games
Crafts of any kind

Dislikes:
Bad hygiene
The way I smell after leaving a Subway
Mean people
Apathy
The Sun
Horror movies
Screaming
Door slamming
Being so far away from my family
Boob sweat
Straitening my hair
Laundry
Energy efficient bulbs (They give off horrible light!)
Technology that doesn't work
Dishonesty
That one day our pets will die...because they are such a special part of our family and you absolutely adore them
Humidity
Math 
Smoking

Truth be told, this is just scratching the surface of me. But what fun would it be for me to tell you everything at once? 

Maddy, every day I have with you is one more day than I deserve. You are the light of my life and I am so incredibly lucky to be your mommy. Our days together won't always be great but I promise you this - no matter what happens very simply, I will always love you. Only you know how strong my love is for you. After all, you are the only one who has ever heard my heartbeat from the inside. Forever and always, I love you.

Love,
Mommy










25 November 2013

Happy. Thankful. Blessed. Thanksgiving

Happy Monday, Friends! 

Before every one's week gets crazy with holiday traveling, plans, cooking, and family I just wanted to take a moment to express and share my thankfulness and gratitude for all the blessings I have in my life. 
As I sit here composing this post, I have my email, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts open. I'm also compiling a list of recipients for our Christmas card this year and it hit me... 

How lucky am I to have so many amazing family, friends, and acquaintances in my life. How very fortunate am I to have true friends and family that love and support me no matter my good days, bad days, goofy days, or boneheaded days. It is rare in this life to find people who will have your back no matter what and I have many. To boot, in the short time I've been blogging, I've also managed to connect with an amazing group of ladies from all over the world that I'm proud to be associated with. I genuinely appreciate each of you. I celebrate your individuality and your amazing ability to be mommies, wives, and friends. I learn from you, laugh with you, and commiserate with you. You will never know how much our relationships help to shape and challenge me to be a better mom and person and to often reach beyond my comfort zones. 

I am thankful.

More importantly, I have my health. I am employed. I have the ability to pay my bills and take care of my family. I have a beautiful and healthy daughter who is the light of my life. I have a great man who is a fantastic father and help mate. I have a mother, father, and two sisters whom I adore and are also so very important to me and my life. I have a comfortable home and I love the people I share it with. I don't have everything but I have enough and I have what is important. More so, I'm rich where it matters - family, love, and life. 

I am blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope each of you have a wonderful holiday week and have the opportunity to take stock of your many blessings. 

May we all find peace, love, and thankfulness not just during this time of celebration but always.



22 November 2013

5 on Friday - Winter Edition


Today, I'm linking up with the lovely ladies from the good life blog, a. liz adventures, carolina charm, and hello! happiness for 5 on Friday!


I am absolutely in love with my new gold polka dot scarf from Target. It goes with everything and honestly, it just makes me happy and brings a smile to my face! 


  Speaking of fall/winter fashions and Target, can I just say that the entire line of toddler clothes from Target is to die for this season?! I'm in love with everything they have to offer and it takes all the will power I have to stay away from the toddler section entirely when I go. I mean really - how adorable is this??!!


 SNOW!!!
We woke up yesterday morning to a winter wonderland which of course meant only one thing...

SNOW DAY!!!!
We stayed in bed, snuggled, watched movies, baked, and played in the snow. It was marvelous and made me wish every day was like a snow day.


With the cooler months now in full swing, I'm all about hearty, warm, stick to your ribs (And probably my ass) food. I've been in the kitchen lately whipping up all kinds of delicious noms and goodies; cookies, soups, BLT sandwiches and more, oh my! I love to cook, especially for my loved ones and feel an amazing plate of food can really make for a wonderful evening. 
(Homemade Cheddar Cheese Soup with Bacon & Scallions for Garnish)


(Sugar Cookies)



If you read this week's Hump Day Mommy Confessions, you already know that I am listening to Christmas music and enjoying Christmas movies as well. I make no apologies for this AT. ALL. ;-) The only thing I have yet to do is put up the decorations which I'm itching to do but won't do until Thanksgiving...hopefully. Maybe.
Probably not. 
I'll do my best?
Probably not. 

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you all have an amazing weekend!

XO,








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20 November 2013

Hump Day Mommy Confessions

1. Over the weekend, I got my hair cut for the first time in about a year and a half. It's amazing how our priorities change as we get older and or, become parents. I use to be that girl who religously got my hair cut every eight weeks without fail but...nope. Not anymore. Between two moves and life in general that little splurge just fell to the wayside.

2. I had a horrible day yesterday. Like, one of those really bad-feeling mental days where all I wanted to do was run from my life, my child, and everything. For those who don't know, I suffer from depression (A topic I'm very open and honest about) and usually most days, I'm able to control it with meds, diet and exercise but I was pretty bad off yesterday. I barely had the effort or energy to get out of bed let alone take care of my child. I'm feeling a little better today but these downswings are a real bummer. 

3. I've already started listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. There. I said it. Judge all you want, I don't care. :-)

4. It irks me to no end when I wash Maddy's laundry and the clothing with stains gets no stain remover treatment applied before washing and drying so the stain sets in and the clothing is ruined. Now, most parents would be upset about this because they don't want their kid looking like a hot mess. But me?? No, that's not my reason at all. The only thing I'm thinking is, "Damnit!! Now I can't re-sell this and make money off of it!!!" I hate when I forget to use the stain remover. Yes, I'm fully aware of how geek this sounds.

5. I may or may not have let Maddy dip her crackers into the pet's water bowl and then let her eat them...all while I watched...and did nothing to stop her. In my defense, I was up to my eyeballs in emails, cooking dinner, and laundry. She was entertained, quiet, and out of the way. Enough said.

6. Lately, Maddy has been saying, "I kiss boys" and I'm torn between laughing (Because it is funny) to feeling slightly disgusted. I do not want to think of my daughter's lips on anyone giving kisses but mine. Sorry, boy moms. I know y'all are raising some great sons but I just can't handle it. Isn't two a little young to already be thinking about boys anyway?? Is that the going age now for this kind of stuff?? 

So those are my confessions for this week. Fess up, moms! What are yours? Feel free to share!

XO,
Courtney


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18 November 2013

Letters to Madeline

Dear Madeline,

So, I had this thought the other night which lead to an idea. 

One day, when you're all grown up, you're going to ask me all kinds of questions about your life and you'll want to hear stories of you when you were a baby, toddler, and young adult; How was I born? How did you and daddy meet? Why did you post that picture of me in the tub showing my bare ass on Facebook for the whole world to see? And considering that I have a hard enough time remembering my own name from day to day (I'm pretty sure there's no way I'll remember everything the older you get), I thought it would be a pretty cool idea to have a series of letters to you - you know, a little electronic trail of your accomplishments, your stories, our adventures, and our time together as a family. After all, the only way you know where you're headed in life is to know where you come from.

Pretty sweet, huh?

And while I can't promise that there won't be any embarrassing stories shared of you along the way (You know, like that time you blew milk out of your nose?) what I can promise is that one day, you'll have an amazing collection of stories, family history, and love that will be with you always. 

In the end, it's really all about you, my sweet child. Without you, this life would be bland, boring, and less meaningful. You are all my reasons (Especially the reason for the Shiraz in my own sippy cup ;-) ) and the hope of a dream fulfilled. You are mine, my Madeline - you are a part of me forever.

Stay tuned!

Love,
Mommy  




13 November 2013

Hump Day Mommy Confessions - The Things We Do To Keep the Kiddos Happy

Happy Hump Day, friends!

For this week's Hump Day Mommy Confessions, I'm super excited to introduce Jenny from Growing up Jacobson. I met Jenny this summer while reading Sara's blog, Running From the Law and we hit it off immediately. I have truly enjoyed getting to know Jenny and her gorgeous daughter Callie through her blog. She's an amazing mommy, and if you haven't checked out her blog, do it! 
(Two beautiful ladies! Connect with Jenny by clicking here!)
 Take it away, Jenny!

Hello! My name is Jenny and I blog over at 
Growing Up Jacobson. I mostly write about my 18-month-old daughter Callie but I also post about running, my efforts to loose weight, my attempts at being an amateur photographer and the little adventures our family takes. I am so excited to be guest posting this week as a part of Courtney's "Hump Day Mommy Confessions" series. I found her blog this summer through the photo contests that Sara at Running from the Law hosted. I've really enjoyed reading Courtney's blog and getting to know her and 
her beautiful family!

I've been thinking a lot on all the things I've learned in the last 18 months about being a mom. What is it about the holidays and kid milestone that make you reflective? I think one of the biggest things I've learned is what to really worry about. I've done many things I thought I wouldn't do and things I never even thought about. So many days it's just about making it through the day and making sure that your kid eats, drinks, stays safe and hopefully, if you're really lucky, stays happy. So for my confessions, here are some of the things that I either never thought I would do or never even thought about to keep my kiddo happy!

I have to bribe my daughter with M&Ms, TV, my iphone (because mom's is better than hers of course) and a cup of milk just to be able to cut half of her fingernails.

I let Callie empty a whole box of tampons all over our bathroom and bedroom just so I could shave my legs... oh and I let this happen regularly to get stuff done. 

I put hair spray, perfume, eye shadow, etc on my daughter to keep her happy while I get ready for the day. She pretty much insists on doing exactly what I'm doing - no falling for distraction for this kid! She just totally loves trying to be a big kid! She's going to be such a girl!

Did I mention my water bill? Yup this kid loves loves the water. She stays in the shower after I'm done, plays in the sink any chance she gets to wash her hands, brush her teeth or "wash" the dishes!


 I went to the gym and dropped Callie off at daycare just for a shower and some computer time - no workout. Oh and I didn't even feel guilty about it. I remember other moms telling me how important good showers at a gym were and I didn't get it before kids. I get it now. I think I might be planning this again for next week... 

We have spray water bottles in every room of the house that we use to keep the cats/dog out of stuff. I let Callie play with them when she's crabby. She not only loves to run around the house "spraying" the animals but will also screw off the cap and suck the water out of them. My husband hates this but I just don't care when it makes her happy.

We routinely go through multiple (sometimes as many as four) sippy cups just for water in one day. Callie will get one out of the pantry and then she pushes her stool to the fridge water dispenser and shakes the cup until I put water in it. I've tried to give her one she already has out or to get her to put the new one back but all attempts result in major whining or melt downs. So what's a few extra cups in the dishwasher to avoid a tantrum?


 Callie can open the fridge now and has started to get out specific foods to snack on - awesome. Not awesome she insists on sitting in the fridge to eat said snacks... so I let her because the tantrum that would come isn't worth the savings on our electric bill... Ironically if I leave the door open for a second she comes and shuts it!

I let Callie sit on the kitchen counter... all the time. When I need to do stuff in the kitchen she is happiest sitting up there. If she's being fussy about eating it is also the best place to get her to eat!


 Did I mention bribery? It's a blessing and a curse that I can bribe my kid now. It's not just for getting her nails cut. I do it more than I should (or feel that I should) but stuff like errands and cooking dinner have to happen and sometimes this little girl just won't cooperate any other way. 

I've totally let her take a drink of my Starbucks when she wines enough. She hates it but can't seem to remember that. Some days I’m lucky enough to distract her with her own paper coffee cup w/lid. Other days she just wants mommy's. Ok kid have some... oh wait that's right coffee is yucky please spit that peppermint chocolate mocha goodness all down your white shirt... Oh you did stop whiney ok :)


 So those are my confessions on how we make it though the day! I hope you got a chuckle! What things do you moms do just to get through the day?


11 November 2013

Black Bean Stoup

What is 'stoup' you may ask? It is a consistency between soup and stew - not too thick but not too thin. In my opinion, just right.

This black bean stoup is one of my favorite recipes that I've made for years. I originally started making this as an alternative to chili when my schedule was crazy and I didn't have time to invest into making a lengthy chili and it has stuck with me. It's healthy, filling, delicious, and best of all, it takes 30 minutes to make and is super easy on the budget. It pairs great with a cold winter night and a large glass of wine (Always a large glass) Let's get to it!

What you'll need:
3, 15oz. cans of black beans
2 tablespoons of EVOO (Basically, two full circles of the pan
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1, 15oz can of diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes (I like to use the Italian style diced tomatoes)
Salt and pepper for taste

Optional for garnish:
Shredded mild cheddar cheese
Low-fat sour cream

Budget:
~ $20 - will feed a family of 3 for about 2 days.

How you'll make it:
Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add EVOO to hot pot then your chopped garlic and onions. Cook for about 3 - 4 minutes (Add your garlic last as the onions are almost done cooking so that your garlic doesn't burn.) Add your red peppers and continue to cook. 



Drain 2 cans of the black beans and add them to the pot. With the remaining can of beans, pour it all, juice and beans, into the pot. Add the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, and mix until thoroughly combined with your sauteed onions, garlic, and peppers. 

 
Add the stock and the tomatoes to the beans and bring to a bubble. Stir thoroughly. Reduce to low heat and simmer for around 15 minutes.

 
Once ready, simply ladle the stoup into a bowl and garnish with cheese and sour cream (optional).

 
So incredibly easy but so amazingly delish. 

What are your favorite foods to enjoy on a cold fall or winter night?

07 November 2013

Hump Day Mommy Confessions - A Little More Personal Today

Hi friends! Welcome back to another installment of Hump Day Mommy Confessions. I'm glad I haven't scared you off yet. ;-)

So, today's confession is just one and I guess I should go ahead and confess that the topic is one that most people would consider controversial and uncomfortable to discuss. I went back and forth on whether or not to write about this but in the end, I firmly believe that I have to stay true to myself, the content, and the purpose of this blog plus, it's an important issue to bring awareness to so off we go!

As most of you may know by now if you've been reading the blog for a while (Or if you're just joining, allow me to catch you up) Michael lost his job last month. I don't know how many of you have ever been through something like this in your lives (Hopefully none of you!) but to say that it's anything less than scary, frustrating, and upsetting is an understatement. We moved to Fort Collins specifically for this job so for him to be laid off after only four months in the position is quite unsettling. At any rate, we've manged to pull through, make ends meet and keep going. We are also very lucky to have a great and supportive family who've been extremely generous and helpful during this time (Thank you family!)

So what is my confession? For the first time in both of our lives, Michael and I are having to utilize the government for food and medical assistance. 

While I realize this isn't a "shocking" confession, it does come with a perceived social stigma that most people still turn their nose up to and don't understand. Furthermore, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't somewhat embarrassed that we even have to go this route...because at first, I was. Having to ask for help of any kind during a time when you already feel defeated has a way of making you feel pretty bad about yourself. This was how I felt at the beginning but after doing some thinking and reflecting, I don't feel bad for having to utilize the system anymore. 

Here's why.

First, let's talk some stats for a second. The Larimer County Human Services Department estimates that around 75% of people in our society still have a negative connotation associated to individuals and families who use government assistance; meaning, these are lazy, uneducated, moochers who would rather suck the system dry instead of working to support themselves and their family. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't abusers of the system. Of course there are. But what I am saying is that the majority of people on assistance are individuals and families who truly need it. 

Allow me to introduce you to one.

I've had a job since I was 13. I started babysitting to earn extra pocket money and to be able to buy the odds and ends things that teens love to have. A couple of years after that, my first "official" job was working as the receptionist at the dance studio where I took classes. I was there M - F after school until about 8 PM and on Saturdays unless I was taking a dance class or had prior commitments. From that point on, I've been employed; Waiting tables, receptionist work, internships, and working my way up the corporate ladder to manger and director positions in marketing. I have a bachelor's degree, I volunteer, and  I give back to my community as a law-abiding citizen. I've been paying into the system through my paychecks and taxes since I was 15. 

15.

Likewise, Michael's first "official" job was working for the condo complex where he lived with his mom checking and fixing sprinklers in FL at the age of 12. Since then, he too has been employed, paid his dues, and worked his way up to be successful in his career as well. He has a bachelor's degree, a MA, and currently working on an MFA with the possibility of getting a PhD. In his spare time (Ha!) he is the Managing Editor of an independent online magazine, teaches a writing class once a week in the evenings, and gives countless hours of his time consulting and mentoring other aspiring authors. He too, has been paying into the system since the age of 12. 

12.

We are raising our daughter and living our lives the best way we know how in Fort Collins. We are both active in our community and donate time and money to the organizations that mean the most to us. 

This, my friends, are the majority of the faces of those on government assistance. 

We are hard-working people doing the best we can to take care of our family, each other, and our community. We want to work. We want to put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. We don't want - nor expect - anyone to just hand us anything and everything. Us - our "type of people" as some like to say - took everything we had to put our pride aside to think about the betterment and well-being of our family because you see, when you are responsible for a child, you do what you have to do in order to take care of your family and make ends meet...even if it means setting aside your embarrassment and shame so that you're able to feed your child and make sure they can receive medical care if necessary.

This is the majority of people on assistance. 

And yes. I do have an iPhone. And yes - I do have Coach purses. And yes - I do have Ugg boots. And yes - you will see me putting my government bought groceries into my 2010 Nissan Rogue. But here's the thing - I EARNED these things. I worked hard for them and bought them during a time in which I had the money to do so from working 60+ hours a week at some of my jobs. The biggest lesson that most people could stand to learn in this country is that just because you see one thing, it doesn't necessarily mean that's someones reality. You are making an assumption...a judgement. Unless you are walking in my Ugg boots and know my circumstances directly, it may be best to just keep your snide comments, ugly looks, and thoughts to yourself.

So no, I no longer feel guilty or shameful for having to ask for help. I've earned it. And honestly, that is what the system is for - to help people like myself who've *earned* the right for a little help. I'm 37 and this is the first time I've ever had to use government assistance. I don't feel bad AT. ALL. Let's also not forget that I'm working part-time right now so before you also yell at me to "find a job" just save it. I am working so oh! That means I'm also paying back into the system I'm using then, right?! Yep, sounds like a "moocher" to me! 

So if you're reading this with a perception that all of us on government assistance are moochers, I kindly ask that you take some time to do your research and reconsider that perception. You will come to find that that mentality couldn't be further from the truth. The majority of us are just regular 'ol folks living our lives and trying to do the best we can.  

The next time you're tempted to judge that person in line in front of you at the grocery store because they pull their Prada wallet out of their Gucci purse - don't. Just don't. You don't know the battle that they're fighting, their circumstances nor do you have any idea how much strength it took for them to even ask for help. We live in one of the richest countries on the planet. There is no excuse anyone can give me to justify anyone of our people going hungry - at the very least. 

We all need a helping hand sometimes. There should be no shame in that. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, there's no shame here. 

Take care friends,
Courtney








04 November 2013

MMMMM, Monday - Rice Broccoli Casserole

Well, friends I had every intention of having a stellar recipe post for you guys today but to be honest - our weekend was pretty rough so me whipping up delicious vitals in the kitchen just didn't happen. 

To compensate, I will share this recipe for Rice Broccoli Casserole that I posted a while back. It's a great dish y'all, and can be used as the main meal or as a side dish.

Check out the post and let me know what you think! I'll be back with this segment next week for sure - stay tuned!

XO,
Courtney

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01 November 2013

5 on Friday - Family First

I'm happy to be linking up with the beautiful ladies from 5 on Friday!

I don't know if it's the fall season with Thanksgiving right around the corner or if it's personal circumstances as of late but I've come to realize now more than ever how blessed I am for the family I have and how important the family foundation really is. I've also come to realize that "family" comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Join me as I celebrate my family this week.

These faces... 



How lucky am I that I get to spend every day with these sweeties?! These faces are my quiet, peace, and hope in the storms of life and truly my most treasured possessions. I am so very thankful for all the happiness, joy, and excitement they bring me every day. I'm a lucky, lucky girl!!

These faces...
Me and my grandparents, TuTu & PaPa
My cousin Megan(Far left) and my fabulous aunt Gabby(Center)
My beautiful sisters Ashley(L) and Jordan(Center)
My amazing parents to whom I give all the credit for my fabulousness!

These faces are my heart and soul. Without each of them having a role to play in my life, I truly don't know where I'd be. If I can be half the parent that mine were to me, I will know I've been successful in life as a parent. 

These faces...


It is often said that family isn't always blood. Sometimes it's the people you choose to make a part of your life and family. It's the people in your life that want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are and nothing else. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and love you no matter what. These faces are my friends and to me, they are also my family.

These ladies...
No matter where I live or roam, I know I will always have a forever home with my sisters in Kappa Delta. AOT ladies!

This one and only face...
My Madeline...

You are my greatest creation and the best thing I will ever do in this life. You are my family and forever, you are a part of me. Thank you for being a constant reminder to me of everything that is good and joyful in this world. I love you so very, very much.

Have a great weekend, friends.

XO,
Courtney