Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So, I have been gone for a while….

Dad on his 77th Birthday at Disney

Dad and the kiddos at Pawley's Island
I have pretty much been living in my own little bubble the past few weeks.  In mid-January, my very healthy-never-been-sick-a-day-in-his-life dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma- a malignant, very aggressive form of brain cancer.  Brain surgery was immediately scheduled for January 29th {his 79th birthday}.  The surgeon said they got most of the tumor and the next step would be chemotherapy and radiation to "get the rest".  After being home a week after surgery he was readmitted to the hospital with low sodium.  He spent a week and a half recovering at CMC-Main.  After that he was removed to CMC Rehabilitation Hospital, where he could get the therapies he would need to help him once he went home.  He also did two weeks of radiation.  Chemo was off the table because the doctors did not feel that he was strong for chemotherapy as that time.  After 3 weeks of rehab he got released and went to stay with my sister,  Madeline and her husband.  Dad was so excited to be out of the hospital and at my sister's home.  It was great for me because I could take the Jackson, Nat and Hollins to visit him.  There was a restriction at the rehab facility preventing anyone under the age of 18 visiting.  Dad was comfortable, seemed more like himself than he had since he got sick.  We met with his radiation oncologist who gave him 6 months {or more, he said} to live.  That did not come a surprise to us.  Brain cancer is an ugly, awful, debilitating disease.  Back in the fall, Allen and I had planned a trip to Disney World for the kids.  Dad was comfortable at Madeline and Dave's.  He wanted us to go on our trip.  He was even excited that we were going!  He talked about it constantly.  So, Wednesday night March 11th, I went over to tell him goodbye and that I would see him when we got back the following Monday.  Thursday morning March 12th, Allen, the kids and I flew down to Orlando.  As soon as I got off the plane I had a call from my sister that I will never, ever forget.  She said "Dad's dying."  The part of me that demands answers constantly couldn't wrap my mind around it…. WHAT?!?! WHY!?! WHAT HAPPENED?!?! He was fine last night when I was over, he ate breakfast this morning, the doctors said 6 months or more a week ago….  Why was this happening?  I would have never gotten on a plane or gone on vacation had I known.  Madeline said that she didn't even know if I could get back in time.  I was paralyzed.  We got to our hotel I just sat there on the bed wondering what to do.  The kids did not know anything was going on- they were dying to go to Magic Kingdom as we had promised them.  So that is what we did. I had no sooner walked into the park when my sister called Allen. From the look on his face, I knew.  Dad was gone.  I didn't want the kids to know so luckily I was wearing good sunglasses.  They couldn't see the tears and they were so distracted and mesmerized by the Magic of Disney.  That part was a blessing.  
My best friends were beyond amazing.  Actually, amazing does not even begin to describe what they have done for me and my family.  While I was on an airplane, they sat with my sister as my father died.    They planned the reception at my home after my father's memorial service.  They constantly check in with me or Allen to see how we are hanging in there. I have no idea what I will ever be able to do to repay them.  In additional to Allen and my my children, they truly are my gifts from God.  I am so, so blessed to have them.
 I go through most of the stages of grief everyday.  Mornings usually start out with shock~ I can't believe someone that was such a fixture in my life everyday for 36 years is not here anymore.  Before now, I could pick up the phone any day, any time and he would answer and be there for me no matter what.  Then I move on to anger, guilt, pain, loneliness, depression and hope.  The anger and guilt part stems a lot from the fact that I was not there when he died.  I should have been.  That is something I desperately would like to change.  I would like that one last time to say goodbye and to tell him that I love him.  I was with my mom when she died six and half years ago and had planned to be there with dad. The hope comes when I remember that he is now reunited with my mom and that dad did not suffer long at all.  That would have been worse.  That was yet another blessing.

Me & Dad on Father's Day
The other thoughts have been settling in more and more.  I am now an orphan.  Both of my parents are gone.  As a parent I finally understand why parents worry so much.  Mine worried constantly about me.  Now there was no one left to worry about me.  There would be no more beach trips with my dad to Pawley's Island.  No more holidays, birthdays etc…  He would come over every afternoon to keep Hollins while I picked up the boys.  We would sit and talk about what was new with the kids, me, Allen, his friends etc…  I pray that my kids will remember him and his sweet face and happy demeanor.  I will remind them of how much he loved and adored them.  They will be in charge of telling my sister's children all about my dad- his love of football, NASCAR and the beach.  He always told us that he loved us but in the last few weeks he said it even more.  Dad knew how important that was to say and to hear.
Dad & Jackson
Dad & Nat
Dad & Hollins
Hold your loved ones close every chance you get.  Tell them you love them constantly.  Live every day as if it could be your last.  Life is short and can change in an instant.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Enchilada-Quinoa Casserole

I couldn't even get a picture before Allen dug in!
EVERYONE in my house devoured this meal.  I mean EVERYONE….me, Allen, both boys and Hollins.  I was beyond shocked to say the least.  I, also, might have done a little happy dance :-). The kids ate it topped with sour cream.  Allen and I used all the toppings listed below.  It was so hearty and filling that Allen didn't even miss the meat.  Perfect Meatless Monday meal for all! 
1 cup quinoa, cooked per package directions (instead of water I used vegetable broth)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup yellow onions, diced
1 large jalepeno, seeds & membrane removed, finely diced
1 large red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen white corn
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups of red enchilada sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
Salt & Pepper, to taste
juice of one lime
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I use Cheddar & Monterey Jack)
Garnishes/ Toppings
Sour cream
Tomatoes, diced
Extra slices of lime
Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, peppers and garlic and cooked until softened (about 8-12 minutes).  Add corn and black beans and cook for additional 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and add all remaining ingredients except add only one cup of the cheese.  Combine all ingredients completely.  Pour into greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Add remaining cup and a half of cheese to top.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for 10 additional minutes.  Serve in individual bowls or plates with your topping of choice!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fashion Fridays: My Spring Wish List

With Spring just around the corner, I have been doing some major window and online browsing for what I would love to fill my closet with in the warmer months.  I am currently obsessed with light pinks and blues, boho dresses and all things floral.
Pastel Handbag
This picture doesn't do this bag justice.  It is beautiful…and also in my dreams :-)
Mules are everywhere right now.  How cute are these?  
LWD (Little White Dress)
 I have been on the search for one I can wear with boots in early Spring and sandals in late Spring or early Summer.
Floral/ Patterned Shorts
This can be dressed down during the day with flats and a tee and dressed up at night with wedges and a peasant blouse.
The Perfect Cover-up
I love everything about this cover-up.  The colors, the style, the tassels… everything!
 Something in Light Blue
Show Me Your Mumu Selena top from Revolve
Or this gorgeous skirt
10 Crosby Derek Lam Skirt from Piperlime
Transition Blouse
Everyone needs a few transition pieces for Spring when the weather starting to warm up but its not quite time to break out the sundresses and shorts.  This would be great with a pair of distressed flare jeans.
Batai Blouse from Anthropologie
Nude Heels
I have been in need of some new nude heels for a while now.  They make your legs look extra long and go with many things in your closet.
Fun Gold Stud Earrings
I usually wear my diamond studs or big statement earrings but these are so fun!
Rebecca Minkoff Spike Earrings from Piperlime
Oversized Black Sunglasses
I needed some new oversized sunglasses.  I have these Tory Burch ones in tortoise that I have had for 3 years but its about that time to get some new ones.
Tory Burch Rounded Sunnies from Nordstrom

What have you had your eyes on for Spring?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pea & Prosciutto Risotto

I have always thought that I should have been born in Italy. I adore pretty much all pasta and risotto. In fact, if Allen didn't complain I probably would eat one of the two EVERY night!  I was searching through the fridge to come up with something exciting for dinner and came up with this.  I always keep prosciutto, parmesan, shallots and, of course, champagne in my kitchen!  It is similar to a delicious tortellini dish one of my friends shared with me.  
2 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup champagne or dry sparkling wine
1 cup fresh English peas
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
4 tbsp grated parmesan, plus more in individual servings 
Salt & Pepper, to taste
5 oz prosciutto, chopped and cooked until crispy