*** Bbrrrr **

This is how we roll these days...layers of blankets while the outdoor
thermometer reads 6 degrees F. Yikes!
I cannot believe it has been almost a year since I have done one of these. February 2013 to be exact. WOWza! Since it's Monday and it's colder than...ummm...a ditch diggers bum? I got nothing. It's just flipping cold outside. I promised myself I would watch, pay attention to my surounds and be in the present moment more in 2014 so let's see how it goes shall we??

:: noticing God's glory
It is bitter cold outside. As in it's 3 degrees before you count the windchill. The ground is still covered with some snow from last week but it's the wind whipping through the trees that I find so fascinating to watch. Some days the trees sway as if listening to a waltz. This morning I think they are break-dancing. The sun has come out and it's bright. Bitter, bright and biting...that's a Tuesday for you

:: listening to

A friend sent me the "WOW 2014" CD for Christmas, so I ahve been listening to that the last few days. It has a good range of artists and reminds me that I am not alone in this journey. By God's grace and mercy I will persevere through whatever comes my way this day, this year. After the last few months, I appreciate the gentle reminder. Besides it makes folding laundry and cleaning floors more fun when there is a soundtrack. 

:: clothing myself in
Jeans, socks, soft fur lined slippers, a sweater and scarf. Miss Courtney is in flannel and currently bundled in a "snuggle bag". Think wearable sleeping bag. We are staying warm. I promise. 

:: thinking and thinking

"He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good, I shall do his work, I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of the truth in my own place-- if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness will serve him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me- still He knows what He is about- and I trust Him."
Blessed John Henry Newman

"Stewardship. The Proverbs 31 Wife. Weight loss. Staring at what losing large amounts of weight does to the body. Living Simply. Do we really need all this stuff? Budgeting 101. Increased insurance costs. Increased med costs for Miss Courtney. Increased therapy co-pays. Living on one income. Creating a home that is a sanctuary for my boys and myself. Creating a loose daily schedule that will include Miss Courtney's in-home therapy as well as practicing to strengthen her new eating/sitting skills.Knowing that "Big Bertha" is on her last legs, what will we do when the wheelchair van dies for good? How will we deal with living with one car? How are we going to afford a new van? Finishing my memoir and begin the process of seeking publication. This blog and it's future. What's for dinner? Oooohhh...I love that blouse in the new JCrew catalog. Can I make a similar version because paying $75 for a cotton blouse is so not happening. Have I said my rosary today? I.am.so.tired." 

This my friend is what it's like to be in my brain when I wake up. Cra.Cra.cray.zi.ness. 

Needless to say my mind is spinning these days. My thoughts skip from one mini-crisis to another. There is a lot of change heading my way this year and I do not feel very equipped to handle it all. I know in my head that God is with me, but sometimes I lose that heart knowledge. I forget that I don't have to carry this all myself. Jesus said "lay it down" so that's what I am working on each and every day. Whatever pops up first...I will lay it down. With all that must be done on a daily basis so that Courtney's needs are met, my husbands needs are met, my son feels welcome it's hard to feel like I am not totally loosing my mind. I have a hard time feeling like I got lost somewhere in this life shuffle. I know I will figure it out in time with Our Lady's help. Time is the great organizer. 

:: giving thanks for

#1977 - #2019

** the generosity of my readers, family and friends who made our quiet Christmas a beautiful and sweet affair. 
** Christmas lights shining in the dark
** ornaments given with love that each have a story behind them
** homemade bread and fresh butter
** chocolate chai tea...a twist on the classic
** hand-written letters sent from far away
** Christmas cards with pictures...I love seeing how everyone is doing
** crab cakes and coleslaw
** flannel pajamas
** new cross stitch patterns
** books on a bookshelf waiting to be read and loved page by page
** the inspired Word of God...memorizing one verse at a time
** handwritten thank you notes
** pen pals
** blog readers who reach out to encourage
** buttermilk and all the yummy things you make with it
** instagram humor
** a new shampoo that smells like apples
** brunch with the family...all four of us together...wonderful
** for my husband who strives everyday to provide the best that he can for his family
** heat and electricity in the midst of this incredibly cold weather
** hot coffee...always...hot coffee
** my son Jonathan who is always ready to help care for his sister, no matter what is going on in his own life. 
** visiting friends...they bring sunshine to mine and Courtney's day. I am so blessed to have such visitors.
** peppermint bark candles...such a sweet smell in the midst of dirty diapers
** answered prayers 
** warms slippers lined with fur...fake fur mind you...but warm none the less
** zippered "snuggle buddy" blankets
** a dry goods pantry filled to sustain us through these crazy winter days
** sleep...it's a beautiful thing
** a change coach who is ready to cheer me on in my writing journey
** sausage bolognese sauce with garlic bread...so hearty in this cold weather
** beautiful icons hanging on my walls reminding me that I am always in the company of saints
** a rocking chair + a sleeping daughter = bliss
** my mothers safe return from a three week vacation...I missed my Mama
** deep cleaning after the holidays...very therapeutic
** broccoli...steamed, microwaved, roasted...however you bring it to me.
** looking across the dinner table at my beloved husband...I am so blessed to hold his heart
** receiving surprise Secret Santa gifts in the mail or left on my doorstep. God is so very generous, so very generous. 
** sweats and yoga pants...too comfy...way too comfy
** my daughter humming
** her smile...always the BEST part of any day

Jonathan and his Aunt Marianne...my baby sister

:: pondering prayerfully

+ for financial prudence and wisdom

+ to be able to completely trust in God's plan for me
+ our son and his future schooling and continued employment

+ for A who is suffering from cancer and beginning treatment, for her physical and emotional strength
+ for her family, especially her parents. That they stay strong in their faith
+ for Courtney and her continued forward progress
+ for my sister and her students, for ALL teachers
+ for all those without work
+ in thanksgiving for answered prayer
+ for K and her upcoming surgery and recovery
+ for family harmony, both immediate and extended
+ for Shawn K and his cancer journey
+ for all those who are suffering from infertility
+ for all the young Mama's who are tired and feeling overwhelmed, that Our Lady example will encourage them
+ for peace of mind and strength of body
+ for all the doctors and nurses who care for the sick
+ for Miss Keenan and her hip surgery and recoup time
+ for all priests, deacons and those in religious life...for strength of heart and wisdom with their flocks...

What can I pray for you? Please feel free to email me (mary_romance@cox.net) or leave it in the comments. Miss courtney and I say the Rosary everyday and would be so honored to pray for you and your intentions.

:: in the kitchen
I am making pumpkin bread today for a friend that is in the hospital. I am sure there will be an extra loaf for the boys in my house as well. LOL!

I have been struggling with consistency in the kitchen. I cook three or four days in a row and then it's like "OK I am done. Who else is going to cook?"...bird chirping...silence...Yep. That would be me and only me. So I need to get better at consistency. I decided that it would help if I set the table every morning to remind me that there needs to be something on those plates by 6 p.m. I know silly but it's working so far.

If you have any crock pot recipes that you love, please feel free to share in the comments or you can email me. I am always looking for something new to try, especially in these long weeks of winter. 

:: living the liturgy

Christmas is almost over liturgically speaking. I learned a lot this past season. I learned what is truly important to make the holiday special. Jesus...plain and simple. By living each day as it was designed by the church, each Feast Day, each special moment that moves the calendar forward, is put in place for a reason. It has it's own rhythm to it, one that I will readily admit I have ignored in the past. This year I was forced to slow down and actually listen to that rhythm and ponder what God needed me to hear, to know about Him and His coming birth. 

Soon it will be ordinary time once more before we enter the Great Fast of Lent. I have a feeling that it will be an interesting six weeks. So I will begin preparing for that season now. Planning meals and preparing the house to be still and quiet as we enter the Holiest Season of the year. 

Always much to ponder. 

:: keeping house
I have kept the laundry monster at large by folding and putting away each and every load AS it comes out of the dryer, so the piles that used to take up space on my sofa, are no more. Wahoo!!

I also made a promise to myself that I would set the table for dinner every morning so that I would be encouraged to make a lovely dinner for my spouse and not cop out with eggs and toast. Let's just say in the last six months we have eaten a lot of eggs and toast. So far so good. But then it's only January 7. Many months to go so we shall see. 

:: coming events/project planning 101
There are many home projects to take care of this year. Once spring arrives there is painting to be done and lots of yard work. But for now I need to make some curtains for Jonathan's room. Miss courtney has two more projects for her room to do, a bedskirt and her "side board" needs to be finished and hung. Then there is the kitchen to address and the master bedroom, both bathrooms need new shower curtains and Courtney needs and Easter outfit. Lot's to do in the next three months...

Oh...there is also a memoir to write...yeah...that...

:: loving the moments

Miss Courtney's seizures have returned as you all know. She is handling them well. Mama is having a harder time of it, but then I always do. What I am loving these days is watching her laugh and smile. She has the BEST facial expressions. She hums and laughs and shales her head...all day long. I talk to her and she hums back at me. I ask her questions like "Where are my glasses?" and she giggles. Who says this child doesn't understand the world around her? Not this Mama. Since we are home most days, ALL day long, these little moments of a smile or a sigh make this Mama smile. I will take every blessing that comes my way...with great JOY!!

:: Miss Courtney's World
She is back on track these days. The increase in seizure meds seems to have taken care of the wild swings in seizure activity. She is happier than she has been in a while. She is doing wonderful things in therapy. We started working on her drinking skills last week in Speech Therapy. She was so happy to sip chocolate milk out of her new "cup". I mean I am happy with chocolate milk so I totally get it. We are woking on her standing and transitioning form her chair to her bed/sofa/floor in Physical therapy with Miss Pam. My girl has got some strength in those tree trunks of hers and I love watching her using them. 

The hard part for now is that we are homebound this week. Why? Well it looks like "Big Bertha" is NOT a fan of 6 degree weather. So, she has not started for the last four days. We were told when we took her in for her big repair that there were no guarantees given her age and milage, especially in extreme weather. We don't have a garage that fits the van, so she is outside exposed to the elements all the time. She has worked like a champ for the last month since the repair (thanks to all of you who helped with that), with no problems until this cold snap. 6 degrees is pretty extreme for our area. So, we are home for now, sharing Daddy's car for therapy days and welcoming visitors for coffee/tea or lunch. Our hope is that once it warms up, toward the end of the week, the wheelchair van will start and we can make sure everything is fine. The mechanic seems confident that this is the issue. 

If for some reason, it's the end of the road for "Big Bertha", which we have known is a possibility, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. There are no reserves to take on a van payment each month so we will trust that the Good Lord above will work His deal once more and show us the way to new transportation for Miss Courntey. My prayer right now is that it works when the weather warms up and we get another year or two out of her. 

It's never a dull moment with our Courtney. But then what fun would that be??

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